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Dilemmas

I work for a large company which has many different contracts with both private companies and governmental institutions.  I wholeheartedly support most of the work we do, but I’m less happy with our association with law enforcement, which might lead to the abuse of innocent people.  Worst of all, in the past few years another division of the company has become involved with the trafficking myth pushers, and it makes my skin crawl.  But I’m not high enough in management to have any influence, expressing my views can only do me harm, and good jobs are hard to come by these days.  How can I reconcile my conscience with continuing to work there? 

blood moneyAs a whore, far be it from me to condemn others for taking “dirty money”; some of my clients were politicians, gangsters, drug dealers, ambulance-chasers and other lowlifes who got their money in morally reprehensible ways.  Money cannot be “tainted”, either by sex rays or anything else; as I wrote in “O Tempora!  O Mores!”, “if a thief buys food from a grocery store with stolen money, that transaction is the exact moral equivalent of buying food with money that was rightfully his; the grocery store owner is not morally responsible for the thief’s actions unless he somehow caused them himself.”  As long as your actions with regard to your employers are moral, it’s not your fault if the money they use to pay you comes from sleazy deals that you were not personally involved in.  Besides, it’s probably impossible these days to work for any company larger than a mom-and-pop that doesn’t have some questionable association.  If it continues to bother you, perhaps you could make donations to organizations committed to advancing sex worker rights; that way you’ll feel as though you’re helping to undo a little of the wrong your employers are helping to do.

I’m a woman who has never done sex work, and I have a male friend who’s shy and socially awkward; he’s still a virgin at 32.  He wants to lose his virginity with a professional, but has made a couple of mistakes and is now hesitant to move forward; one escort tricked him out of some money, and another turned him down when he said he was a virgin.  On top of that the higher class escorts all seem to require references which, of course, he doesn’t have.  I advised against blindly going to Backpage, but I have no idea what other advice I could give him; can you help?

Woman Talking to a Shy Man by Ravi VarmaWhat your friend needs is an established escort who is “newbie friendly”.  This means a lady whose screening methods are not dependent on references; she’s going to ask him for some kind of identifying information, and use it to be sure he isn’t a cop.  That’s one of the reasons he should pick only an established escort with a good reputation; it will help him to know she isn’t going to steal his money like that other woman did.  Do tell him that a regular escort in his city shouldn’t ask for money in advance; it’s generally only traveling escorts who do that, and it’s better for him to get someone local just in case his nerves get the better of him and it takes a few dates to accomplish what he wants to accomplish.  An older woman would probably be best for this; they tend to be much more patient with nervous first-timers and some of them really enjoy breaking younger guys in.  Point your friend to my column “The First Time”, and tell him to read the comments, too, because there are a couple from other adult virgins there; “Sensitive Guy” might also be helpful.  Finally, you might also direct him to my “Questions” page, which has many links to my answers to previous questions; the first two under “General Sex Work Questions” are especially important, and he might also find some that speak to him in “Requests for Advice” farther down the page.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

A man can go from being a lover to being a stranger in three moves flat…but a woman under the guise of friendship will engage in acts of duplicity which come to light very much later.  -  Anita Brookner

“We’re going to have to move soon; I really think Eleanor is beginning to suspect.”

“What makes you think that?” asked Hazel, handing him his drink and then moving behind him to rub his shoulders.

“Nothing I can really explain,” he said, then after a sip: “When you’ve been married to somebody for twenty-seven years, you get to know all her little ways, and you notice when they change.  You were married before, you know what I mean.”

“Yes.  But how do you know she isn’t cheating on you, too?”

Ted laughed.  “You don’t know Eleanor; she’s as cold a fish as there is.  We were both virgins when we got married, and once we were done having kids she just wasn’t interested any more.  I’ve already told you this more than once.”

“There’s no need to get testy,” she said reassuringly.  “I just want you to consider all the possibilities so you don’t start acting nervous and setting off her radar.”

“Like I said, I think I already have.  Oh, I’ve been very careful; before I met you I saw escorts for years, and before that I had cultivated a pattern of not really telling her much about my comings and goings.  And since she leaves the money to me, it’s always been easy to use as much as I want without her being the wiser.  But lately, she’s been requesting a lot more money for all sorts of things, as if she’s trying to probe the state of our finances.”

“Has she been questioning you or anything like that?” 2X

“No, she wouldn’t.  Eleanor is maddeningly indirect; she never makes a statement when an insinuation will do, and whenever she’s angry at me it always takes me days to figure out why.  I’ll never understand why so many women are like that; is it something on the X chromosome?”

“You have an X chromosome as well, Ted.”

“I know, but maybe something on the Y cancels it out.  Maybe real sneakiness requires a double X.”

“Oh, really!  Now you’re just being ridiculous.  I’m relatively straightforward, and you’re extremely sneaky; if quietly converting most of your investments to negotiable form so you can fly off to Tahiti with your mistress doesn’t qualify, I can’t imagine what would.”

Ted looked as though he had been slapped.  “I’m not leaving her destitute,” he said quietly; “In fact, as per your suggestion I transferred the house and several large investments into her name.  I just want to divide the money fairly rather than leaving it to courts and lawyers who would probably give her everything.”

“Oh, I’m sorry!” she said, hugging him closely.  “I didn’t mean to hurt you.  It’s just that I feel nervous, too, and dumb female stereotypes always get me irritated.  Please forgive me.”

“See, Hazel, this is what I’m talking about.  You know how many women would apologize like you just did?  Practically none.  That’s not a stereotype, it’s just the truth; men usually end up having to apologize no matter who was wrong.  I don’t think you really understand how different you are from most women.  I never believed I would fall in love with anyone ever again, much less want to live my life with her.  But you just make me feel so special, so safe.  I know I can trust you, and that we won’t end up being strangers sleeping in the same bed like Eleanor and me.”

“I promise you that will never happen,” she said through glistening eyes.  And then she kissed him, and for a while there was no more conversation.

****************************************************************

airliner in flightA few days later, though, she brought up the subject again on the airplane.  “I just can’t help but feel guilty about what we did.  I know the two of you really shouldn’t have married in the first place, and that you haven’t had a sex life in over 15 years.  I know the kids are grown up, and we really do love each other, and there really wasn’t a home to break up.  But damn, don’t you feel bad about running off with all the negotiables as well as the stuff he put in your name?”

Eleanor shrugged.  “Not really.  I left documents donating the house back to him, and he’s still under fifty; he has twenty more years to build up again, and with no alimony that’ll be easy with his salary.  He’ll be a lot better off in the long run than I would’ve been had he been the one to run off with you as he thought would happen.”

“I suppose you’re right,” sighed Hazel.  “But I still feel bad about playing him like I did.”

“No worse than he thought he was playing me,” Eleanor huffed.  “He got what he deserved.”

“Maybe,” she replied.  “But I guess he was right about women being the sneakier ones, after all.”

For regular readers, this month’s guest columnist needs no introduction; Laura Lee is a sex worker and activist who lives in Scotland, but is active in the fight against criminalization both in the UK and in her native Ireland.   You can find many stories about her (and videos in which she appears) in the subject index, most of them under the subtitle “The Public Eye“.  I admire Laura for her incredible courage in coming out as a sex worker and facing down politicians both in committee rooms and on television, but for this essay she preferred to speak of the courage of others; I’d say she’s well qualified to judge that particular quality.

Laura Lee CNNIn the current debate raging about further criminalization versus decriminalization, sometimes it’s very easy to lose sight of the real people behind the statistics, those sex workers on the front lines.  This week in Perth, Scotland, some of the bravest women I have ever encountered took the stand to give evidence against a vicious rapist; their courage took my breath away.

I could summarize the circumstances surrounding the case, but I think the voices of the sex workers concerned are far more powerful.  With their kind permission, I will replicate some of the email correspondence I’ve had below, changing some personal details to maintain their privacy and right to anonymity.

Myself and a few other girls travel from Edinburgh/Glasgow up to a flat in Perth for shifts, one of girls phoned in a state.  She had let a punter in, he demanded money from her, when she said she didn’t have any, he raped her and punched her in the face very violently.  She cried through the whole attack, that was around November last year.  We begged her to report the attack to the police which she was adamant she was not going to do fearing her family would find out what she did for a living.

Early February I was working in the flat, and although there had been reports of a guy hanging around the flat all week, I’d calmed down by then and thought I was out of danger.  A punter called, he knew where the flat was and I assumed he was a regular.  He came into the flat, told me I could do things the easy way or hard way.  He had to say it twice as I couldn’t believe what I was hearing but knew I was in big trouble.

I told him I had no money (understand the other girls he raped were tiny, I body build, plus I’ve got teenagers and don’t appreciate cheek).  There was obviously a “don’t mess with me” stance which had taken over in me without my knowledge.  He threw me on the bed and spread my legs apart.  I knew he was going to rape me.  I screamed at the top of my lungs, he jumped off me and made a run for the front door, curling his fist into a ball as I ran after him to get the door shut, that was his warning to stay away as he fled.

Within 15 minutes I’d phoned the police and reported the crime.  Laura, I know what I work as makes people disgusted and they think I’m a lesser person because of that but I’m not, I’m proud, this job has supported me and my kids and given me a support system financially that a lot of single mums can only dream about.  I refuse to go to work to be abused, battered or raped.  I never signed up for that, I am proud of who I am and what I’ve achieved!!!!!

The police were lovely and very supportive, they had no clue that sex workers were even in Perth, my friend was asked by the police if she would approach other flats in Perth with the promise there would be no charges for the other girls, they were not interested in what they were doing as they wanted this lowlife caught.  After a bit of persuasion it turned out that another two girls had been attacked, anally raped and battered by the same guy which they identified.

I can’t forget what he said to me – “You can’t phone the police, you’re just a prostitute!!!!”

That will haunt me for the rest of my life.

Perth High CourtSo that’s their story.  One by one those women took the stand against the man who thought “you’re only a prostitute”.  Isn’t it time that we acknowledged that they are far from “just prostitutes”?  They are women, they are mothers, working to support their children and they deserve the full protection of the law.  The police in this case have been wonderful and very supportive of the women, and have now appointed a liaison officer so that they can report their worries in private.  He was found guilty last Tuesday, and will be sentenced on the 30th; let’s hope it’s a long, long one.

Too little, too late.  The time has come to acknowledge that whatever your moral judgment on sex work, those who work within the industry deserve to do so in safety.  Had these women not had such immense courage to go forward and report these crimes, who’s to know where it would have stopped?  We need to decriminalize sex work right now, so that every sex worker can work with others for safety, and so that the stigma and vulnerability attached to sex work can begin to be peeled away.  When this lady told me the rapist’s  words will haunt her for the rest of her life, I resolved to fight for decriminalization with a ferocity rarely tested.  That, at least, I can promise them.

Links #197

We never know what’s percolating in the mind of children, okay?  And when they demonstrate behaviors that raise red flags, we must do our duty.  -  Charles Maranzano

Many of you have probably seen the first video, of dogs reacting to a magic trick; in the second one, a magician performs tricks for cats instead.  This isn’t the first dog/cat video dichotomy I’ve featured; look back to Links #160 for more juxtapositional fun. The three links above the first video were provided by Radley Balko, and those between the videos by Amy AlkonClarissaRick HorowitzKevin Wilson, and Eddie J Cunningham, in that order.

From the Archives

I have to laugh when I hear people say: “Oh, I’ve never met a sex-worker before” and I have to say, chances are you have, you just don’t know it.  -  Valerie Scott

Bad Girls Andrea Alvira

Men:  Pay your hookers!  Ladies:  Get the damned money up front!

A 19-year-old…prostitute choked a [Florida] man to death after he tried to stiff her out of money he owed her for sexual services…Andrea Alvira…[chased] Brandon Day, 22…into a yard, where she dropped him by hitting him in the neck. She got on top of Day’s chest and forced her knees into his throat, suffocating him…

Grow the Hell Up!

Politicians, cops and naïve, whiny women are a dangerous combination:

…Rebecca McHood of [Mesa, Arizona] said she belongs to “a community of women who have been affected by pornography and sex addiction of their spouses…”I have five close friends whose husbands or ex-husbands have frequented [massage] parlors…I have seen the effects [sic] this has on their families, including the effects of divorce”…Lynnette Greybull…said she has found a website that lists 36 Mesa sex shops masquerading as massage parlors.  “They have a page…of acronyms…[detailing] what they’re able to do to these women…it’s very disgusting and perverted…These establishments are fake businesses…that…sell women.”

A Tale That Grew in the Telling

You know the oft-repeated lie that a third of teen runaways are approached by a “pimp” within 48 hours (when in reality, 84% of teen sex workers literally never meet a pimp)?  Well, it’s down to 45 minutes now:

Last year, King County’s Committee to End Homelessness issued a fact sheet that [stated]…“76 percent of unaccompanied minors [are] approached by either a known gang member or pimp in less than 45 minutes”…“That study has been altered, revised and bastardized beyond recognition,” says…Captain Eric Sano…“The actual study was from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.  They say that one in three teens will be recruited by an exploiter.  In 2009 we…put a very youthful female member of the department [in a park in disguise] and within 45 minutes she was approached by two members of the Westside Street Mobb”…

It’s a good sign when a claim is too ridiculous even for cops and reporters.

Forward and Backward (TW3 #4)

An unusually-sensible attitude for a politician:

…I have decided to implement [activists’] recommendations…by introducing a bill to repeal “prostitution free zones” in D.C…transgender women…[say cops] regularly view and treat them as criminals…The prostitution free zones reinforce this bias…it is also critical that police officers help someone who is assaulted or raped, even if they were involved in sex work.  MPD is responsible for the safety of everyone, including sex workers…

Above the Law  

…Cleveland police officer Gregory Jones [was found] guilty of raping and kidnapping a woman…Prosecutor Jesse Canonico said…’He was a rapist masquerading as a police officer’…”  According to Canonico, cops and rapists are two mutually exclusive things!  Obviously he’s never been to New York:

Yonkers police officer Alex Della Donna…arrested…Sonia L. Gomez…[and] coerced her into having [sex] with him at least a half-dozen times…continually [reminding her] that drug charges…might be reinstated if she didn’t continue…[the rapes] ended only after Gomez’s husband threatened to tell departmental higher-ups…

Or California:  “…West Sacramento Police officer…Sergio Alvarez was convicted of…numerous counts of aggravated assault and rape…and…[given] a 205-years-to-life sentence…he raped women while on the job, sometimes even in his patrol car…”  Or even Utah:

…police officer Jeremy Rose has been charged with 15 offenses in the collection of thousands of photos of a teenage girl in various stages of undress…Rose convinced a then-15-year-old…to pose semi-nude for photos he said he would sell for her on the Internet…he also allegedly hid a camera in the girl’s bedroom to record video of her dressing and undressing…

Traffic Jam (TW3 #21)

Note the moronic “people can be sold repeatedly” canard:

[California] officials say gangs have become more involved in human trafficking because people can be repeatedly sold for profit, unlike drugs and guns…The legislature is considering a…bill…[to classify] human trafficking…as “gang activities”…Sentences for gang-related crimes are usually stiffer…

Feet of Clay (TW3 #22)

Following in the illustrious footsteps of Lauren Hersh:

An assistant district attorney was verbally berated and banished from a Bronx judge’s courtroom after failing to reveal evidence that would have freed a man held at Rikers Island on bogus rape charges…“This is an utter and complete disgrace — not just for you, but for your office in general”…Judge John Wilson told…Megan Teesdale before dismissing the case…The defendant, Segundo Marquez, had been held…for more than eight months awaiting trial…

Above the Law (TW3 #28) Jeffrey Holmes

A…Kansas City police officer who was accused of forcing two women to have sex with him was found guilty of acceding to corruption…and sentenced…to 15 days in jail…” When a non-cop does the same thing it’s called “rape” and gets more than 2 weeks in jail.

The Public Eye

In this interview with Valerie Scott (one of the plaintiffs in Bedford vs. Canada) she touches on the landmark case and the Swedish model; however, the more interesting part for me is her discussion of pre-internet sex work in Canada, sex work ethics, myths about sex work and “pimps” and the absurdity of trying to suppress the trade.

Where Are the Protests? (TW3 #48)

The…son of a peasant farmer from…China has been in custody since being found in a…Dublin…grow house with an estimated €1 million worth of cannabis…Fergal Kavanagh…said his client…[was] imprisoned in the grow-house by traffickers…[and] should be released pending a full investigation into his case…

Caring Professionals

Another nursing home ignites controversy by hiring sex workers for residents:

The elderly residents of a Long Island nursing home…[attended a male] striptease in the facility’s rec room, a new lawsuit claims.  The son of one resident, 85-year-old Bernice Youngblood, was shocked when he…found a picture of his mom stuffing dollar bills — which are supposed to be locked away in her commissary account — into a dancer’s briefs…“Plaintiff Bernice Youngblood was placed in apprehension of imminent, offensive, physical harm, as she was confused and bewildered as to why a muscular, almost nude man, was approaching her and placing his body and limbs, over [her],” the suit states…Youngblood’s attorneys argue she “lacks the mental and physical capacity” to protect herself…

Photo4by6.jpgUnless Mrs. Youngblood is unquestionably suffering from dementia, it sounds more to me like her son is just revolted by the idea that his mother might enjoy male strippers and might actually exert a little control over her surroundings instead of existing as a passive, passionless vegetable under others’ “care”.

Traffic Jam (TW3 #321)

Government officials in Phoenix are violating the law by compelling [sex workers]…to participate in a program administered by religious groups, Americans United for Separation of Church and State says…the program, Project ROSE, clearly violates the First Amendment…those arrested…are forcibly taken to Bethany Bible Church…in handcuffs…[and] given the option to avoid criminal prosecution by participating in a sectarian program.  “Phoenix is essentially telling criminal suspects that they can go to church or go to jail,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn…

Shame, Shame (TW3 #348)

[Congresswoman] Jackie Speier…has apparently decided to introduce a federal “revenge porn” bill, which is being drafted, in part, by Prof. Mary Anne Franks, who has flat out admitted that her goal is to undermine Section 230 protections for websites…to make…third parties — like “Google, any website, Verizon… face liability”…[she claims] she’s not seeking to undermine Section 230 in any way…[because it] has never protected sites from liability of federal crimes – just civil infractions and state crimes.  So her goal is to make the amorphous concept of “revenge porn” a “federal crime” thereby suddenly making third-party websites liable…this effort is fraught with dangerous consequences and potential First Amendment problems…

Subtle Pimping (TW3 #403)

You’ve got to love the way she makes it sound as though it were her idea:

University of Colorado sociology professor Patti Adler has axed the prostitution skit…that led administrators to pull her from the classroom last semester…[she] cited difficulty with consent forms and worries among participants after the…skit drew national attention…In the end, Adler canceled the controversial skit and invited local sex workers to her class…Adler interviewed the sex workers…and then allowed the students to ask…questions…

Uncommon Sense (TW3 #405)

More on the German politicians who want to make life harder for whores:

…the Union [Party] wants to impose stricter controls on brothels and threaten clients with punishment.  The police and other authorities may also get the power to raid brothels without concrete suspicion, [sponsor] Thomas Strobl…said…clients should not be able to “make excuses” [if police declare that] a…prostitute has “obvious signs of ill-treatment”…the Union also wants [to reward] foreign prostitutes with…residence [if they agree to testify against]… “their tormentors” …presently, foreign forced prostitutes…do not report to the police because they…fear deportation…I Am Jennie

Drawing Lines

Former porn actress Jennifer Ketcham incoherently argues that the best way for porn actors to fight for decriminalization is to draw an artificial line between themselves and other whores.  Or something.

…Porn…advocates…are quick to distinguish between pornography and prostitution, and…it is way more okay to be a porn star than it is to be a prostitute…porn stars…[should] drop the label of “sex worker” and adopt the title of “adult film actor”…[to sever] it from the morally-loaded concept and illegality of prostitution…by drawing imaginary lines between sex work performed on camera and sex work performed behind closed doors, porn (unintentionally) debases the majority of sex workers…

The Sky is Falling! (TW3 #413)

Regarding the last line: what the hell does she think prostitution is?

…Équipe d’Action…has…[filed] legal proceedings against a “sugar daddy” dating site, which they accuse of operating a disguised prostitution racket.  The existence of such sites in France…[was ignored until] the arrival of the US site Seeking Arrangement…If the complaint is upheld in court it could change the definition of prostitution in France…Angela Jacob Bermudo, a spokeswoman for the French Seeking Arrangement site…[said] “Seeking Arrangement is not prostitution…For many girls, this is a viable option to be able to concentrate on their studies without the financial burden”…

Deafening Silence (TW3 #413)

Chinese officials violently suppress a city’s major industry, then wonder why its economy dies:

Prostitution was once rife in Dongguan…Local analysts estimated there were more than 250,000 prostitutes at its peak, and that the business generated about 50 billion yuan (HK$63 billion) a year…But…in February…authorities started a campaign to wipe out prostitution…hotel managers estimate…up to 70 per cent of prostitutes had left the city.  “The crackdown may not kill us, but it will kill [the nearby town of] Changping and then the city itself.  Without our xiaojie [whores], Changping is going to be a ghost town”…Many people working in the city’s retail and service sectors – from taxi drivers to snack sellers, landlords to restaurant bosses – grumble that their business has suffered since the…raids began…At the New South China Mall, the largest shopping centre in the world when it opened in 2005 with more than 2,000 shops, at least half the stores are vacant…

Whither Canada? (TW3 #413) 

In Canada, articles like the ones below and at right appear in the mainstream media:

…more than 300 of our fellow Canadian and international academics and researchers expressed their profound concern that the federal government is blatantly ignoring a large body of scientific evidence…that criminalization of any aspect of sex work, including the purchasing of sex, has overwhelmingly negative [effects]…banning the purchasing of sex is not scientifically grounded and sorely misguided by moral judgment of sex workers as victims.  In fact, evidence strongly suggests that this approach would recreate the same social and health-related harms of current criminalization regime…there is no evidence that criminalizing the purchasing of sex reduces or eliminates prostitution…

Whither Canada? (TW3 #414) 

Boo fucking hoo:

The person who runs Saskatoon’s “john school” is disappointed because he hasn’t had any participants since the start of this year.  Albert Brown…said that since the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the country’s anti-prostitution laws last year, his class has been empty…

Synopsis of the rest of the article: “Dirty, dirty, filthy, diseased whores!”

Habitable Room

This essay first appeared in Cliterati on March 23rd; I have modified it slightly to fit the format of this blog.

The Vestal Virgins were among the most important people in classical Roman society; they were charged with keeping the sacred fires burning, and accorded numerous privileges in return.  One of the greatest of these was that their persons were sacrosanct; in other words, no person could touch them without their permission, upon penalty of death.  That meant no one at all, not even high state officials; a Vestal could not be touched even if she were convicted of the greatest crime of which she could be accused, that of breaking her vows by having sex or allowing the sacred fires to go out.  Because these offenses were believed to anger the gods and thus risk the safety of all Rome, the penalty for them was death; but since nobody could touch them to administer the sentence there was only one way carry it out:  the dishonored priestess was buried alive.  In order to avoid breaking another law against burialVestal Condemned to Death (attributed to Pietro Saja, about 1800) within the city, the tomb was provided with a candle and a small quantity of food and water in order to establish the legal fiction that it was a “habitable room” rather than a sepulcher, and the unlucky woman was thus left to a lingering death by slow suffocation to preserve the illusion of piety which would have been shattered by spilling her blood.

Whores are in many ways the diametric opposites of the Vestals:  we are as far from virgins as it’s possible to be, are stigmatized and rejected by our societies rather than being honored by them, and are responsible for banking men’s sexual fires rather than keeping actual ones burning.  But in the past few decades, there has arisen a legal doctrine which represents all women as helpless, pure and sacred; we are supposed to be delicate flowers who are irremediably damaged by the evil lusts of brutal men, from whom the Sacred State must “protect” us.  Harlots sin against that precept by being strong, self-willed beings who deal with men on equal ground and make a living from male lust rather than being “ruined” by it as the catechism claims we should be.  We must therefore be punished, but since Holy Writ has declared us blameless victims how can that be accomplished?  The answer, as it was for the Vestals, is slow suffocation…though in this case economic and social rather than literal.

The tomb disguised as a “habitable room” into which prohibitionists want sex workers sealed is called the “Swedish model”; just as the Vestals’ persons technically remained inviolate, so women under this abominable regime are not technically criminalized.  Our meager provisions consist of the fact that we can, on paper, carry out our work unhindered.  But just as the Vestal was prevented by the earth above her “room” from getting any more food, water or air, so Swedish prohibition attempts to starve and suffocate their victims by persecuting their clients, getting them evicted from their homes, hounding them with police surveillance, denying them social benefits and even stealing their children.  Swedish proponents even go so far as to proclaim that sex workers are “decriminalized”…just as the Romans could say that the condemned Vestals had not been directly executed.

In all of Roman history, only ten Vestals were ever condemned to this horrible fate.  But unfortunately for the mad totalitarian dreams of the prohibitionists, there are millions of whores in the world; it would be absolutely impossible for them to ever entomb all of us, no matter how fervently they might wish to do so.  In order to advance their scheme to extinguish as many of us as possible, they must find and close up every possible gap through which economic sustenance might flow, and that means eliminating our means of attracting and contacting clients.  Increased police surveillance could drive street workers into the dark, dangerous places where the Pure and Holy need not see them, but street work has always been a minority of all sex work and that’s even more true now thanks to the internet (which allows incredibly cheap advertising with greater reach than even the most expensive venues had twenty years ago).  Banning escort advertising has no effect whatsoever; there is no way to stop people from hiding commercial sex adverts within other, unbanned forms, and almost no way to stop buyers living under such a censorship regime from accessing websites hosted outside its jurisdiction.  This utterly infuriates the prohibitionists, who are well aware of sex workers and clients conducting our business right under their noses; they have therefore embarked upon an all-out effort to destroy its most visible manifestations, no matter what the costs in human rights.  Irish prohibitionists have proposed giving police the power to steal sex workers’ phone numbers in order to convert them into traps for clients.  Scottish prohibitionists, defeated in their attempt to impose the Swedish model, are trying to drum up support for advertising censorship by demonizing clients.  And American prohibitionists are willing to totally destroy the internet as we know it:

…members of Congress have asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to prosecute Backpage.com for its role in prostitution and sex trafficking or to recommend legislation that would make prosecution possible…[they claim] that…tens of thousands of children are sold for sex…every year…Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 protects websites from liability for content posted by a third party. That means a website can’t be prosecuted when someone posts an illegal ad on their website…

Vestal Condemned to DeathWere websites to be held liable for third-party content, they would have no choice but to shut it down.  All of it.  Amazon reviews, YouTube videos, comments on websites, free hosting of sites like mine on larger entities like WordPress…all gone, wiped out overnight.  If you think this only applies to American websites, guess again; a large fraction of the internet’s backbone is on American soil, and the US government has given itself the power to shut down any website in any country which it decides has violated some US law, through the simple expedient of shutting down traffic to it at the point it passes through the US.  And while the article above restricts its language to “children”, others are more honest about the politicians’ intent:

…proposed legislation…would allow for federal felony charges to be brought against operators of web sites that fuel the illicit sex trade through commercial ads…Under the Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation Act, individuals would face felony charges for promoting an advertisement…that…facilitates any of numerous crimes against children and adults in the sex trade, including…pimping and prostitution.  The legislation would also allow federal authorities to shut down advertisements…

What these megalomaniacs seek is nothing less than the power to shut down any escort’s ad and to prosecute the website that carries it; even websites outside the US could be attacked as described above.  There is probably very little danger of the Roasting the Pig By Burning Down the House Act going through, or of it withstanding a challenge even if it did; US judges have repeatedly proven themselves wiser than politicians by striking such laws down every time they’ve been tried.  But the fact that they do keep trying is a measure of their hatred and disdain for the women they wish to suffocate in the name of “protecting” our sacred bodies from “violation” by consensual sex.

Fucking magnets, how do they work?  -  Insane Clown Posse, “Miracles

vampire's kissIt’s not always easy being the Honest Courtesan; sometimes in the process of talking about human sexuality, I run into some aspect of my own sexuality which is somewhat embarrassing to admit to.  At that point I have to decide whether to walk around the subject, or say “I’d really rather not discuss that”, or just throw caution to the wind and forge ahead out of my comfort zone, trusting that Aphrodite will bless my courage.  Often it’s because a reader asks a question which can be answered in part by discussing my own feelings, but in this particular occasion it’s because a reader wrote an article in Psychology Today.  The reader is Dr. Robert King, and the article is subtitled “What Monster Porn Might Tell Us About Human Nature”.  It’s a critique of John Horgan’s “What ‘Monster Porn’ Says About Science and Sexuality” in Scientific American…an odd venue for it because, as King explains, Horgan “used a blatantly creationist strategy to attack an entire field of science of which he disapproves”, evolutionary psychology.  Horgan absurdly claims that because he personally can’t think of a reason for women to be turned on by the idea of sex with monsters, there must not be a scientific explanation, and that this is wonderful because Freud.  Or something.

Dr. King, on the other hand, displaying the superior insight one would expect from one who appreciates this blog, has a very good sense of what the biological connection is:

…monster porn is by no means novel…Ancient dildoes going back 20000 years are adorned with pictures of various potent animals.  And…just take a look at what the Centaurs are trying to do to the Lapith women on the metopes of the…Parthenon…raucous festivities involving symbolic sex with humans dressed as animals…go back as far as records begin.  Not far from where I work there is an annual festival at which the Queen of the May symbolically marries King Puck…an icon of animal potency and fertility.  In the UK symbolic animals grab innocent maidens off the streets with impunity during May festivities.  What do things like Bigfoot, Cthulhic monsters, magical beings, werewolves, vampires and centaurs have in common?  Well, to someone not wedded to a creationist psychology might I venture one or two themes of adaptationist relevance?  Power.  Potency.  Transgressiveness.  Loss of control.  Outbreeding.  The evocation of uncontrollable desire.  Dominance.  Submission.  Rescue.  Heroes.  Villains.  Large penises.  Do these sound like themes irrelevant to biology or reproduction?  If so, then it’s time to go back to school…it might easily turn out that the prevalence of these fantasies has no adaptive function—they might be by-products of other adaptations.  Not everything is an adaptation.  Every first year biologist knows this…

The Moon Maid by Frank Frazetta (1974)Horgan is apparently so content to view sexuality as an unfathomable chthonic mystery that he doesn’t even bother to ask a reasonably-intelligent woman who’s turned on by this sort of thing what she thinks about it.  And though I’ll never read Taken by the T-Rex or Moan for Bigfoot, that’s not because I’m disgusted by the subject matter; as it turns out, I myself am a reasonably-intelligent woman who’s turned on by this sort of thing.  See these illustrations?  I’ve got a bunch of ‘em in my art folders.  People who played Dungeons & Dragons with me could tell you about some memorable episodes.  And remember my mentioning how the movie Gargoyles inspired one of my favorite make-believe scenarios as a kid?  Yeah, that.  The thing is, anybody who’s read some of my other columns on my own kinks and paid attention to some of the fantasy iconography I’ve featured (dig the cover of my book at upper right) could’ve guessed as much; it’s no surprise when a woman who is turned on by rape, abduction and bondage scenarios is similarly affected when the abductor is some sort of non-human entity.  For the record, dinosaurs and the like do nothing for me; it has to be an intelligent monster, like a demon, an astropelagic alien (again, see my book) or a werewolf.  In a spoken sequence on Bat Out of Hell, a male character asks a female, “On a hot summer night, would you offer your throat to the wolf with the red roses?”  My friend Philippa used to say that her answer to that was, “Every fucking time.”

When Horgan declares that evolutionary psychology can’t explain monster porn, he indulges in the same narcissism as prohibitionists do when they declare that no woman could choose sex work:  “I cannot understand this, therefore it is inexplicable.”  But actually, women being turned on by monsters is no odder (vampires, anyone?) than women indulging in transactional sex; however much either or both of them might upset and horrify prudes, they both have their origins in female behavioral scripts going back to the time when the behavior of human men wasn’t much different from that of the monsters in the fantasies.

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