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Diary – Week 224

Cat PrayerAs of last Tuesday evening my trains to Chicago and Seattle are paid for; I’ve also booked my hotel room in Kansas City, though I decided to wait a little for Chicago because everything near Union Station was too pricey when I last looked (I’m trying to do this trip on the funds I have left from my fundraiser this summer).  As of right now, the only gig that’s fixed in place is a talk at the Foundation for Sex Positive Culture at 7 PM on Sunday the 9th, the day after I arrive; I expect to hear back from SWOP this week, and then I’ll try to fill in a few private meetings with donors and a few sex workers I know there from online.  Due to a miscommunication about the dates my Portland side-trip is still up in the air, but that should be remedied this week; by next Tuesday I should have the whole trip mostly penciled in just before I leave for New Orleans two days later.  And I’ve even figured out what I’m probably going to do with my internet-less time during the 46-hour trip to Seattle.

I mentioned my leftover donations above, and that reminds me:  if you look at the subscription box on the right, you’ll notice I’ve added text about how to give me a one-time cash gift if you prefer to do that instead of subscribing.  It’s very simple; all you have to do is PayPal whatever amount you like to my email address, maggiemcneill@earthlink.net.  Ta-dah!  I like to keep things simple whenever possible.  But even if your budget won’t allow that sort of thing right now, there’s another way you can help me that won’t cost you a dime.  The pressures of this year seem to have inflicted more stress on me than I bargained for, so I’ve found myself moody and very blue lately and would appreciate your prayers, good thoughts, well-wishing, positive vibrations or whatever the equivalent in your philosophy.  You needn’t worry; these moods do come occasionally and I always get past them.  But I figure a little extra psychic support can’t hurt, even if the effect is only in my own mind…which, since it’s where the problem lies anyhow, seems perfectly reasonable.

Dave Krueger used to run an excellent blog named Sex Hysteria! in which he chronicled the many instances of human stupidity about the subject.  “Sex trafficking” was only one of the many topics he covered, and I first heard about the “gypsy whores” myth from him.  Alas, real life eventually put so many demands on his time he could not continue the blog, and he doesn’t write as often as he used to, however, he recently reappeared on Twitter and I hope this isn’t the only guest spot he does for me.

One doesn’t have to be an avid follower of the news to notice that American law enforcement is becoming ever more tightly integrated into the day-to-day affairs of ordinary citizens; you no longer have to be suspected of a crime (in the traditional sense of the term) to warrant the interest of any of a multitude of police agencies with overlapping jurisdictions at federal, state, and local levels.  Almost every government agency that generates regulations has an enforcement branch armed with guns making sure you aren’t braiding hair or arranging flowers without a license, dealing non-approved milk, buying too much cold medicine, or allowing your kid to sell lemonade, etc.  Government insists on using its police powers to dictate even the tiniest details of human commerce; in today’s America, if you breathe, you are probably a law breaker.

But even aside from the regulatory environment, fabricated crime has replaced traditional crime as the central focus of the justice system.  In a traditional crime, some act injures a non-consenting person in some way; in a consensual “crime”, all parties engaged in the activity consent to it.  Consensual crimes may still result in injury, but no force was used to compel anyone into being a party to them.  Consensual crimes include almost all prohibitions on drugs, sex work, gambling, and usury; laws specifically targeting minorities (race, gender, and sexual orientation) belong to the same class.  Without compulsion and victimization, it is rare for anyone to report such “crimes”; that is the crux of what differentiates traditional from consensual crime from a law enforcement perspective.  Equally important is that many more people engage in outlawed consensual behavior, and usually do so more often than they would commit traditional crimes.   In other words, consensual crime creates an endless supply of easy targets for law enforcement.

Over the course of the 20th century, the US justice system experimented with and expanded its focus on consensual crime; in recent years, federal grant programs and asset forfeiture laws have actually incentivized police departments to divert resources away from traditional violent crime fighting.  Because people who engage in consensual crime rarely complain, law enforcement must resort to “stings” and confidential informants (CIs) to produce evidence of law breaking; a sting consists of tricking someone into committing the outlawed act, and a CI is anyone willing to testify, in exchange for cash or favors, that someone else committed a crime.

The most prolific campaign against consensual crime started in the 1970s with Nixon’s “War on Drugs”, which triggered a perpetual erosion of the civil liberties which were once considered a defining characteristic of American freedom.  Key among these lost freedoms are protections against self-incrimination, unreasonable searches, and privacy in general.  The U.S. now has the distinction of having more criminals behind bars than any other country on the planet, and virtually all convictions now come from plea agreements induced by prosecutors who overcharge a defendant and then offer to reduce the charges in exchange for a guilty plea.  The path from freedom to prison has become a high-volume assembly line consisting largely of clerical steps in a Kafkaesque system that holds all the cards.

Mixed with the bad news that all Americans are subject to harassment and arrest is the sobering fact that police are not subject to the same laws as the rest of us; there are no consequences when they don’t respect our rights.  In the absence of public outrage and irrefutable proof of misconduct, the entire justice system stands ready to shield cops from accountability.  Nothing has exposed this culture of corruption like the widespread use of video-capable cell phones to expose cops blatantly and routinely lying about the facts of an arrest, but even when caught red-handed it’s rare for a cop to even be fired, much less charged under criminal law.  Cops are also shielded from damages stemming from civil suits; successful suits are paid by taxpayers.  On top of that, police are taking on a more militaristic character; SWAT teams that were once intended for dangerous situations like hostage standoffs are now used to serve routine search and arrest warrants.  This militaristic, us-against-them, mindset instills an attitude that the public is the enemy; escalation of violence is becoming a reflex law enforcement reaction rather than a tactic of last resort.

Is there any way to reverse this trend?  Even as traditional crime rates plunge, the fear-mongering “tough on crime” rhetoric that permeates election campaigning remains very effective with voters.  And though millions of Americans are adversely affected by the government crusade against consensual crime, they remain largely disorganized and ignored by the establishment media.  The drug war throws thousands out of work, making many unemployable, eroding the tax base and exacerbating poverty, while the voting block that benefits from this taxpayer-financed crusade (cops, prosecutors, judges, the prison system, treatment specialists, attorneys and the illegal drug industry itself) thrives.  So although there has been some limited success with rolling back some state marijuana laws, there is not going to be any noticeable diminishment of the powerful industry that benefits from consensual crime laws without massive public pushback; this, however, is highly unlikely because  activists who fight consensual crime laws are divided by category.  The crusader against the drug war doesn’t see gamblers or sex workers as natural allies, etc.

The only viable prospect for reversing this trend is for everyone with a dog in the fight to recognize they are all fighting the same foe; rather than remaining in isolated pockets of resistance, they need to join together as one movement with one voice.  It’s time to make the case that consensual crime laws and the American police state are everyone’s problem.  This is not a left vs right issue; the current state of affairs has been an enthusiastic hand-holding joint venture between both Republicans and Democrats, but history shows that parties can change when pushed by a large enough interest group.  If you’re a sex worker, gambler, or drug war opponent, you are part of that interest group.  If you are the spouse or parent of someone whose life has been ruined because of some low-level consensual crime arrest, you are part of that interest group.  Even if you’re just a taxpayer who doesn’t want your taxes used for persecution, you’re part of that interest group.  There is power in numbers; we need to stop sending thousands of people to prison every year for no other reason than we don’t like what they do behind closed doors.

Links #223

And they’re like, “Uhhhh. Who gave this to you?”
“The King of Sweden.”
“Why did he give this to you?”
“Because I helped discover the expansion rate of the universe was accelerating.”
 –  Brian Schmidt

Lots of links this week but only one Halloween item so far; I’m hoping to see more this week.  The first video is a German Volkswagen commercial from  Grace (who also provided “home while black”); the second is from Dave Barry (I especially love the way Apostle Emeka is unable to prevent eye-rolling).  Everything above the first video is from Radley Balko, and the links between the videos from Clarissa (“your way”), Angela Keaton (“consequences”), Nick Tolman (“tombstone”), Lenore Skenazy (“precaution”),  Rick Horowitz (“another day” & “seat belt”), Mistress Matisse (“peasants”),  Michael Whiteacre  (“bureaucrats”), Jesse Walker (“distrust” & “combination”),  Jason Kuznicki  (“smartphone”), Cop Block (“vegetable”), and Paul Murray (“hysterically”).

From the Archives

Tattooing of ["trafficking" victims doesn't]…make much sense outside of sadistic, pornographic fantasy.  –  Julia Davidson

Check Your Premises

Any teen who won’t behave in the way most adults want to manipulate her into behaving, must be being manipulated by another adult:

It took nearly two decades for Smith to realize she…was a victim of child sex trafficking.  “I was what they call a ‘willing victim’,” she said…the media and advocacy organizations depict child sex trafficking as an issue that involves physically abused or helpless children.  But “just being a teenager” is a predisposition factor…Smith said she’s a strong advocate for kids who insist they want to live the way they’ve been manipulated by an adult into living…

Above the Law Grant Carruth

an Amite [Louisiana] police officer accused of sexually assaulting women after deceiving them online has been arrested…Grant Carruth…faces…counts of…kidnapping…aggravated rape…sexual battery and…theft…he…identified himself as a narcotics officer, handcuffed them and said they were being arrested…

I’m Sure You Feel Safer Now

Note the liberal use of dysphemisms, and the pretense that gross proceeds equal net profit:

A…woman was [sentenced] to…10 years in state prison for operating a prostitution ring in…New Jersey…Deanna Ruiz…pleaded guilty to racketeering…over a 15-year-period, she collected millions of dollars…[and] booked more than 6,000 hotel rooms at a cost of $1.087 million…she created several sham companies and used them to launder the money…and…commit tax and unemployment…

How, pray tell, does one “commit tax and unemployment”?

Broken Record

A grassroots advocacy group is trying to raise awareness about increased demands for paid sex during the Pan Am Games…Buying Sex Is Not A Sport…is…faith-based…The link between increased sex trafficking and large sporting events has been a controversial one that is not clearly agreed upon by experts…

Wrong; the experts have declared these “faith-based” claims total fabrications.

The Widening Gyre

They finally realized they could expand the panic by adding male “sex slaves”:

Viktor Berki…Gabor Acs and Andras Janos Vass [ran]…Never Sleep, Inc. [which] involved slaves — who did not speak English and barely got to sleep…Three of the victims…rescued in South Florida were first promised that they would earn thousands of dollars as escorts.  But…they were forced to perform sex acts in front of a webcam and engage in prostitution for 18 to 20 hours a day…

Soap Opera

It’s hard to pick one “sex trafficking” trope that’s stupider than all others, but barcode tattoos are definitely in the running:

People traffickers are believed to have marked their victims with symbolic tattoos to assert their ownership over “assets” that can be sold for thousands of pounds…The victims have been “branded like cattle” – a practice commonly seen worldwide for women in the sex trade – to show that they were aged over 18, the National Crime Agency (NCA) said…One Romanian woman – who was whipped and held against her will in Spain – had been tattooed with a bar code and a sum of money that investigators believed was the amount that she would have to earn before the gang…would release her…The NCA said the extent to which tattoos were used was not known…barcode tattoo

The extent is very well known:  one single case, the one (from 2012) mentioned above.  And as I pointed out at the time, it was “…an example of life imitating artifice because these absurd tales have been circulated…for at least six years now.”  Dr. Julia Davidson explains just how stupid this trope actually is:

…If thugs were criminally coercing someone into prostitution, why would they care whether she was 17 or 18 years old?  Conversely, if they were supplying women to managers of establishments that would only accept…over 18, why would those managers be satisfied by a tattoo, as opposed to identity documents…if tattooing were actually common practice…  victim identification would be a far simpler matter…

The Public Eye

Sex workers were among the first not directly involved with the Ferguson protests to spread the word on social media; others like cam girl Sasha Pain are doing even more than that:

…she and two friends…[are] filming protests and sharing them with her audience…Pain…won’t stop working just because she’s on the road.  When she has an Internet connection in Ferguson, she’ll make sex tapes and donate proceeds from videos to buy supplies to protect protesters from tear gas…”Everything that I make while I’m here that I don’t need to feed myself, the people I’m with and over my bills is going toward buying food for protesters and gas masks”…

On the Simultaneous Having and Eating of Cake

Portland…strip-club dancers are working…with lobbyists, legislators, and social workers to draft a new set of…regulations slated to hit the House floor…in…February…Generally, laws that regulate strip clubs and other sex industry businesses are handed down from the top by legislators, with little input from the people most directly affected…Whether because of stigmas related to…sex work…or a prevailing misconception that most…sex workers are victims of trafficking, there are very few, if any, legislative precedents that show adult entertainment professionals actually being asked to weigh in…

Checklist

Writer cannot conceive that the reason more people don’t notice “sex trafficking” is that it doesn’t exist on anything like the scale it’s purported to:

…airline employees are now being trained to…carefully watch for…unusual activity…such as when kids don’t answer questions or avoid eye contact when addressed.  Other telltale signs might be bruising…or a ravenous appetite…victims…sometimes have been at the mercy of their traffickers for so long they see themselves not as women being pimped out for sex but as girlfriends helping their boyfriend pay the bills…sex trafficking spikes around the Super Bowl…If you see something say something…

Cops and Condoms (TW3 #313)

The sheer wrongness of this cannot be overstated.

Dysphemisms Galore 

Korean officials only persecute sex workers in order to please their masters in Washington:

…since the implementation of the 2004 Special Law on Prostitution…the number of red-light districts…has decreased nationwide, from 69 in 2002 to 44 last year.  But…the prostitution industry has actually grown…[and]  transformed to avoid the confines of the law…pimps posing as ordinary citizens scour the streets to find potential customers…Transformed prostitution businesses have doubled over the past three years as traditional brothels have decreased, swelling to 4,706 in 2013, up from 2,068 in 2010…

The phrase “pimps posing as ordinary citizens” is both hilarious and telling.

Ad Absurdum

Because obviously, “victims” always go around bragging about their “abuse”:

Two teachers at the same Louisiana high school have been charged in the sex abuse of the same male student…Shelley Dufresne, 32, and Rachel Respess, 24, both teach at Destrehan High School in St. Charles Parish….an unnamed source…implied that the victim was involved in a threesome with the teachers…at Respess’ apartment after a…football game [on] Sept. 12, and that…the…student had been “bragging to other students that he was having a sexual relationship with teachers”…

A Procrustean Bed (TW3 #339)

For the past year Red Umbrella Project has studied New York’s “trafficking courts”, which define all sex workers as “victims”; to absolutely nobody’s surprise, the majority of those arrested are minorities, and in Brooklyn a stunning 94% of women arrested for “loitering for the purpose of prostitution” (in other words, “looking like a whore”) are black.  Since Melissa Gira Grant,  Noah Berlatsky and Michelle Chen all went into the findings in detail, I’ll just refer you to those articles. Samantha Azzopardi

The Widening Gyre (TW3 #346)

Samantha Azzopardi, 26, who was found wandering the streets of Dublin last fall, led Irish police to believe that she was a 14-or 15-year-old sex-trafficking victim from eastern Europe…Now…[she] has shown up in Alberta…claiming that her name was Aurora Hepburn, that she was 14 and that she had been the victim of an abduction, sexual assault and torture…Calgary police became suspicious after learning of [the Irish] case…Azzopardi has been charged with public mischief…an offense punishable by up to five years in prison…

The Spiral of Absurdity

Houston is bound and determined to win this pissing contest, no matter how ludicrous the claims it has to make:

Houston is a hub for…sex trafficking…[due to its] size, port location and ethnic diversity…a three-month analysis of ads posted on backpage.com…[found] a higher number of ads per person than were posted for Manhattan and northern New Jersey during this year’s Super Bowl…

This is equivalent to concluding that Houston has more people who are morbidly obese than New York because it has more billboards for barbecue restaurants.

Above the Law (TW3 #407)

For those who think I make too big a deal about the euphemisms prosecutors and reporters use for rape by cops:  “Sorrento, Louisiana police chief Earl Theriot pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting an unconscious woman and then lying about it to the FBI…Theriot managed to escape jail time…taking just a $2,500 fine and 2 years probation…”  Think he’d have escaped that easily if his crime had been called what it was? Theresa May, arch-censor

Opting Out (TW3 #408)

The other shoe drops:

Britain’s…Home Secretary Theresa May [said]…that if re-elected next year, the [Conservative] party will introduce civil powers to disrupt people who “spread poisonous hatred” even within the law…police could apply for a court order to disrupt “harmful activity” by restricting an individual’s movements, preventing them from speaking in public or stopping them publishing articles online…

Which views are “harmful” to be determined by the government, of course.

Imaginary Crises (TW3 #410) 

the rate of forcible rapes in 2012 was estimated at 52.9 per 100,000 female inhabitants…Assuming that all…women are uniformly at risk, this means the…probability that an American woman is raped in her lifetime is 2.6 percent and in college 0.2 percent — 5 to 100 times less than the estimates broadcast by the media and public officials…

Forward and Backward (TW3 #415)

…the District of Columbia Council voted…to repeal the District’s  “Prostitution Free Zones” law as well as the “Drug Free Zones” law that it was based on…Although a largely symbolic gesture, since the police have already acknowledged not using the zones for the past two years…the debate over the bill shows the importance of removing laws targeting sex workers, and those profiled as such…

The Missing Word

Despite the fact that the exploitation is clearly laid out here, the magic word appears only once, saying that a sting involved “only a tiny piece of the trafficking industry”.  One can only surmise that because the smugglers only threatened to sell their “client” to a brothel (a threat made credible by the moral panic), the New York Times figures it isn’t a “real” case of “trafficking”.

Schadenfreude (TW3 #424) 

Just a few highlights of this expose of “sex trafficking” fraud Chong Kim’s lies:

…Chong Kim [was] convicted by a Minnesota judge for stealing money from a human-trafficking survivor…She is…on probation…as a result…Chong Kim walks with a cane, which she told me was an injury suffered from her days of sexual slavery…she actually had that disability since she was seven years old, and up until at least 2005, she collected Social Security checks for it…she…frequently claims that she was living in Texas when she got sold into sexual slavery in 1994…she was actually a junior in high school in…Minnesota…The…1994…Yearbook clearly contains a photo of Chong Kim…her…social security number is linked to multiple people…

Uncommon Sense (TW3 #433)

The myths that circulate about German prostitution legislation are a perfect example of how lies and misconceptions become accepted as ‘truths’ if only they are repeated often enough.”  In this short article Matthias Lehmann debunks lies including “the 2002 Act legalized prostitution”, “brothel owners can force sex workers to perform certain acts”, “Job Centres can force job seekers to take up sex work” and “sex trafficking has increased under the law”.

Lower Education (TW3 #438) 

the University of Michigan’s…policy on sexual violence…says:  “Examples…include…criticizing the partner sexually [and]…withholding sex and affection“…this policy suggests that under some circumstances, a partner is entitled to sex…there theoretically exists at the University of Michigan some circumstances in which not consenting to sex is against the rules.  This is utterly unconscionable, and, frankly, insane…

Sold Out (TW3 #438)

Facebook…[has backed off of its] “real-name” crackdown on drag queens and performers…and…apologized to all those whom they’ve offended.  Though the exact policy changes remain TBA, a source…says Facebook is planning to revert to a “preferred name” policy instead…

This essay first appeared in Cliterati on September 14th; I have modified it slightly to fit the format of this blog.

I am often asked if, by calling “sex trafficking” a myth, I’m saying that there is no such thing as coercion in sex work.  The answer, of course, is “not at all”; what I’m saying is 1) that coercion is much rarer than “trafficking” fetishists pretend it is; 2) that the term “trafficking” is used to describe many different things along a broad spectrum running from absolutely coercive to absolutely not coercive, yet all of them are shoehorned into a lurid, melodramatic and highly-stereotyped narrative; and 3) that even situations of genuine coercion rarely bear much resemblance to the familiar masturbatory fantasy of an “innocent” middle-class girl in her early teens abducted by “pimps” from a shopping mall, bus stop or internet chat room.  “Let Me Help” discusses the first two factors, but I recently discovered a fine example of the third:  a situation of genuine coercion which nonetheless runs counter to many “trafficking” claims.

…Pardip Singh [of Indianapolis, Indiana]…was convicted…of promotion of human trafficking, criminal confinement, intimidation, battery and domestic battery.  On May 11, 2012, Singh called several men and told them that for $500 they could come to his…apartment and have sex with a “teacher’s daughter from India”…The first potential client to show up learned that the victim was Singh’s wife and witnessed Singh hit her…that man “told Singh he should not treat his wife that way and then left”…Just after midnight on May 12, 2012…police…responded to a domestic disturbance at the couple’s apartment…the victim, “visibly shaken and crying,” told the officer she needed help…

Pardip SinghRight from the start, the true story belies the familiar “trafficking” porn.  Singh is clearly no slick, mastermind pimp with insidious hypnotic powers, but a crude bully.  He didn’t have a dozen slave-captives confined in dog kennels or controlled via “Stockholm syndrome” or magical mind-control philter, but one wife that he attempted to control through garden-variety brutality.  He didn’t advertise her on Backpage or any other site used by sex workers, but by contacting people personally.  Though the rescue industry’s professional victims entrance their salivating audiences with tales of daily parades of dozens of callous, uncaring men oblivious to their plight, the very first man who answered Singh’s advert was disgusted by what he found and refused to participate.  And while those same prohibitionist shills claim to have been successfully held captive for years, Singh’s wife escaped the very next day after he started trying to “traffic” her.

…Court documents describe a devastating chain of events that began March 13, 2006, when the victim became Singh’s wife in an arranged marriage in their native India…Singh was living in the United States but traveled to India for the marriage…After the wedding, he returned to the United States while his new wife stayed in India to attend college.  In 2012, after obtaining a nursing degree, the victim moved to the United States to live with Singh in New Jersey…Within a few weeks, Singh began physically abusing [her]…Singh was angry that the woman’s family did not send the couple more money [so he] took her to Atlantic City to try to get her a job in a strip club…which he believed would generate a more immediate windfall.  Singh would not allow the woman to speak with her parents except when he was within earshot…and regularly hit and abused her.  During one week when Singh worked as a semi truck driver…he forced [her] to remain in the back of the truck cab during a long interstate trip.  At stops, he would get into the back…and force her to have sex with him…The events in Indianapolis occurred about a week later…

The conventional narrative tells us that huge cartels of slick international gangsters abduct teen girls by the tens of thousands and reap vast profits without detection, but what do we see here instead?  A greedy, pathetic wife-beater who tricked a grown woman (and university graduate) via a venerable social institution.  This sort of “pimp” is much closer to the norm than the racist stereotype in clownish attire, yet I don’t see anyone screaming for the criminalization of marriage.  Prohibitionists are fond of saying that sex workers “believe pimps are their boyfriends” because they can’t face the uncomfortable truth that neither emotional attachment nor a license from the state is a guarantee against emotional or economic exploitation in a relationship, and that the main difference between a “pimp” and a “sex trafficking” fetishist’s own abusive spouse is the label. tractor-trailer

Despite [all], some men stubbornly fight for our rights anyway; I don’t mind saying that I find that sort of obstinacy rather sexy.  –  Maggie McNeill

It’s already getting close to a year since I’ve compiled a list of men who have spoken out for sex worker rights, in defiance of the popular Swedish-flavored narrative which casts sex work as tantamount to rape and a form of male “oppression” of women.  In such a climate, speaking out for sex workers is liable to get one labeled a client or even a “pimp”, so “these days it takes some serious balls for a man to stand up, demand rights for sex workers, and actually sign his real name to the thing.”  Here, then, is another list of male allies; remember, this doesn’t include men who are directly involved in our industry, since it’s as personal for them as it is for us.  It does, however, include clients who have chosen to “out” themselves for the cause.  As before, this is by no means complete; please make any new suggestions in the comments below, so I can include them in a follow-up next year.

Noah Berlatsky is a freelance journalist who writes often about feminism, comic books and “geek” culture; he’s been published in Slate, the Atlantic, Wired and many others, and he has a book on the Golden Age Wonder Woman comics out early next year.  Follow him on Twitter at @hoodedu.

Magnus Betnér is a Swedish comedian who has dared to mock the Swedish model in front of Swedish audiences in Sweden; that automatically qualifies him for this list. Follow him on Twitter at @Magnusbetner;  he tweets in both Swedish and English.

Andy Bodle is a journalist and scriptwriter who has written for the Guardian, the Times, the BBC, and ABC.  He is out about having hired sex workers when he was younger, and has written several times debunking “trafficking” claims and arguing for decriminalization from a harm reduction viewpoint.  Email him at andybodle@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter at @_Womanology_

Felix Clay is not a cat, but rather a writer for the humor site Cracked who not only writes sex-positive articles, but even defended sex work in one where he admitted to hiring an escort (though he denied having sex with her).  Follow him on Twitter at @Felix_Clay

Leonard Fahrni is a regular reader and an instructor at Metro State University in Denver; beside speaking up in person and in a number of blog posts, he also proved hugely helpful to me when I reached Denver on my tour this past June.  Follow him on Twitter at @LeonardFahrni.

Robert King is a professor of applied psychology at University College, Cork, Ireland; he writes the blog Hive Mind at Psychology Today, in which he has on a number of occasions defended the legitimacy of sex work.  Email him at r.king@ucc.ie or follow him on Twitter at @DrRobertKing

Ed Krayewski is an editor at Reason who has, like so many libertarian journalists, consistently supported people’s right to do whatever they damned well please with their own bodies, including sell or buy sex.  Email him at ekrayewski@reason.com or follow him on Twitter at @edkrayewski

Jay Levy is a Cambridge University researcher whose 2012 PhD looked at Swedish prohibitionism as a form of violence against women; he has also written a book on the subject and discusses it in this video.  Email him at j.levy.03@cantab.net.

Nicola Mai is a professor of sociology and migration studies at London Metropolitan University; he not only authored an important study debunking “sex trafficking” myths in the UK, but has also supported decriminalization in both scholarly and popular articles.  Email him at n.mai@londonmet.ac.uk.

Robert Murphy is a well-known libertarian economist who, though he has not written on the subject of decriminalization before, did so after attending my presentation in Nashville back in July.  Email him via this page or follow him on Twitter  @BobMurphyEcon

Jim Norton is a comedian who recently came out as a client and published an article about it (in Time, no less), opening himself to the kind of prohibitionist attack that would cause fainter hearts than his to quail.  I don’t know if he ever reads this blog, but I have it on good authority that he owns an autographed copy of Ladies of the NightEmail him via this page or follow him on Twitter at @JimNorton

Peter Brian Schafer is a photographer and regular reader who strives in his work to portray whores with dignity and respect and to debunk the Madonna/whore dichotomy.  Email him at hookstrapped@gmail.com 

Sam Seder is a comedian, writer, actor, film director, television producer-director, and talk radio host; in the latter capacity, he has debunked ridiculous excuses for the criminalization of sex work and had Melissa Gira Grant as a guest on his show, Majority Report.  Contact him while on the air via this page or follow him on Twitter at @SamSeder

Michael Smerconish is a radio (on Sirius XM) and TV (formerly on MSNBC, now on CNN) personality who has made at least one persuasive on-air defense of prostitution from a harm reduction perspective, also mentioning clients with disabilities.  Follow him on Twitter at @smerconish

If you’d like to be on the next list of this type, just email me with a link to whatever public statements you’ve made about sex worker rights under your real name, and we’ll see about adding you to the next one (don’t be shy; if you don’t tell me, who will?)  In the meantime, keep your eyes peeled for “Stand-Up Guys” in my weekly TW3 column, where I’ll mention guys who come to my attention without having to wait another year.

Wardrobe Choices

My husband wants me to dress as his slut when he takes me out or when he has friends over; is this normal?

I think it’s a mistake to worry too much about what is “normal”.  “Normal” men in patriarchal societies tend to want their wives to dress in a way they perceive as modest; this derives from a desire to protect their “property” from those who might trespass or steal it.  The more patriarchal the society, the more “modestly” it expects women to dress; in societies where women’s status is higher, women tend to dress more provocatively, and in those where it is lower, they tend to dress more concealingly.  There are few if any exceptions, yet neofeminists teach a looking-glass version of reality in which dressing sexily is “objectification” and a manifestation of “patriarchy”, despite abundant real-world evidence that the exact opposite is true.  Now, this is not to say that one individual man, or indeed large minorities of men, might not prefer women who “belong” to them dressed in a revealing fashion; however, the majority (“normal”) view has always been the opposite.

Given the language you use (“his slut”) your husband seems to belong to this minority category, which means that in the strictest sense of the word it is not “normal”.  So what?  Why does it matter whether something is “normal” or not?  Most people deviate from the norm in at least a few ways, and nobody seems to think this is a problem except where sex is involved.  Don’t concern yourself with whether his request is something the majority of men would want; rather ask how it makes you feel, and how it affects your relationship.  Does it make you feel attractive and sexy to dress provocatively, or does it make you feel uncomfortable and ashamed?  Does it make your husband happier?  Does it seem to spice up your sex life?  Do you like or dislike the way others react to you when you dress that way?  Do you like to do it in certain circumstances, but not in others?  These are the questions you need to ask yourself, rather than whether conventional people would approve.  And if dressing like a “slut” at certain times (or even a lot of the time) works for you and makes you both happy, nobody else has a right to condemn you for your wardrobe choices.

(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.)

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