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Posts Tagged ‘activism’

Tour Diary: Week Nine

LOTR ChicagoIt’s a good thing I approve of polyamory, because Chicago did her best to win my heart from St. Louis last week.  But while St. Louis seduced me with her Southern charm, Chicago was a bold, brassy dame who swept me off my feet and refused to take “no” for an answer.  From the time I arrived until the time I left she kept me busy nearly every waking hour; I was actually concerned that I wouldn’t be able to finish TW3 #430 on time, and indeed a lot of it was finished Friday night in Cleveland and I didn’t get to bed until 2 AM, a mere four hours before publication!

I had at least one event every single day, and on several days I had two.  I’ve already mentioned my dinner with Cathryn Berarovich on the night I arrived; the next day I had my first reading in an actual bookstore, Bucket O’Blood, which as you can probably guess from the name specializes in horror.  The owners were lovely and welcoming, and among the attendees was Reason‘s Zenon Evans, who was in town visiting friends.  Then on Monday I went to breakfast with one of my “Angel” level patrons, and had dinner with Aspasia Bonasera; after dinner we went back to her home and I got to meet her wonderful mother, who welcomed me as family.  We spent the rest of the evening talking, and at 1 AM I reluctantly returned to the hotel for much-needed sleep.  On Tuesday I didn’t have to start quite so early, but I finished just as late; after my presentation for Liberty On the Rocks (which was attended by Mark Draughn, Serpent Libertine of SWOP Chicago, sex-positive writer/podcaster Eric Barry and prominent criminal defense lawyer Joe Obenberger) Serpent recorded a short video in which I was interviewed by Cathryn.

On Wednesday afternoon, I had to go to the Fox TV studio downtown to be interviewed remotely for a short segment on The Independents, a libertarian show on Fox Business Network; that evening I gave a presentation at SWOP Chicago to a very respectable crowd.  The group was much smaller at my book reading Thursday night for Uncharted Books, but I’m equally happy to read to small groups as large ones because I think I win new allies to the cause at every event, no matter how small, and obviously I have more one-on-one interaction in small groups.

By the time I left Chicago on Friday I was quite enamored of her and plan a return visit as soon as possible (though based on what I’ve been told, NOT in the winter).  Still, it’s a good thing I didn’t stay longer because I was absolutely exhausted!  After resting for a night in Cleveland I moved on to Pittsburgh, but my experiences there will have to wait until next week; Chicago needs a column all to herself. SWOP interview 7-22-14

Here’s my tour schedule, which is still in flux; check back when I’m getting close to you for details of local appearances.  If your city isn’t on the list, but it’s within about four hours’ drive of another city which is on the list, just send an email asking me to visit.  Your request will have even more impact if you can suggest a specific place I could do a book reading or give a talk, and it’s virtually assured if you can actually make the arrangements yourself (in other words if it’s your store, club or whatever).

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Cathryn and me at the Everleigh Club site 7-19-14Up to this week, the pace of my tour has been relatively sedate, with more downtime than appearances.  But as of Saturday that changed; Chicago will be a whirlwind, and the number of quiet days from here to at least Charleston will be in the minority.  So even though last week in Memphis and Nashville was rather quiet, I wasn’t all that concerned; it gave me time to catch up on some writing so I won’t be caught flatfooted before the end of August.

Since my book is self-published, most large bookstores won’t carry it on their shelves; however, independent stores can do as they like so a few have agreed to stock Ladies of the Night.  Before leaving Memphis last Monday I stopped in at The Booksellers at Laurelwood to sign their copies, and was pleased to hear that one had already sold over the weekend.  If you’re in Memphis, call them to see if they have any left!  That night I had dinner with one of my “Angel” sponsors in Nashville, and this morning I’m having breakfast with another in Chicago.  I also had dinner and visited with activist Cathryn Berarovich in Chicago on Saturday night; the picture is us in a grassy lot where the Everleigh Club, Chicago’s busiest and most elegant brothel, used to stand.  And on Friday night in Indianapolis, I had dinner and a long discussion with a criminologist who is preparing a study of violence against sex workers in criminalized and legalized systems.

My one public event in Nashville was a presentation at Liberty On the Rocks; since the space was rather noisy and the group relatively small we opted for a discussion-group style event rather than a lecture followed by questions.  Though I felt as though the format was a bit more chaotic than I prefer, the attendees seemed pleased with the outcome and one even wrote about it.  There’s a small footnote to that event which emphasizes the reason I’m out here and gives me hope for the future:  when I left, I felt like getting some ice cream so I stopped at a small parlor on the next block which was still open.  As I walked out and was eating my cone on the sidewalk, a young woman (university age) asked which flavor I’d bought, and she and her boyfriend and I struck up a conversation.  When I told them who I was and why I was travelling, they expressed enthusiastic support for the cause, wished me luck and asked for a card to read the blog.  I think their attitude is more common than the prohibitionists want to admit; in twenty years, young people will view repression of sex work in the same way young people now view attempts to suppress gay rights: as a weird, incomprehensible thing people used to do which has no valid place in a civilized society.

Here’s my tour schedule, which is still in flux; check back when I’m getting close to you for details of local appearances.  If your city isn’t on the list, but it’s within about four hours’ drive of another city which is on the list, just send an email asking me to visit.  Your request will have even more impact if you can suggest a specific place I could do a book reading or give a talk, and it’s virtually assured if you can actually make the arrangements yourself (in other words if it’s your store, club or whatever).

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANew Orleans will always have a special place in my heart, but I have a new second-favorite city:  St. Louis, Missouri.  It’s not so much the city itself, though what I saw reminded me very much of the New Orleans area in a number of ways, including layout and architecture; no, what really attracted me was the character of the people I met.  Shortly into my tour, sex blogger Kendra Holliday wrote me and not only offered to help me set up gigs in St. Louis, but also invited me to stay in her house!  I accepted both offers, and had a grand time; she was a gracious hostess with a lovely home I was very comfortable in, and all the people she introduced me to (members of the group Sex Positive St. Louis) were warm, welcoming and a helluva lot of fun to be with.  They treated me to dinner Wednesday night, then on Thursday I had a book reading at Shameless Grounds, a sex-positive cafe (where I was introduced to a delicious local dessert called gooey butter cake).  After that, SEX+STL founding member David Wraith took me to yet another coffee shop, where we talked for much too long (until they kicked us out, in fact).  As I’ve said before, the best thing about this tour has been meeting all the different people, and though I’ve enjoyed them all I really felt a special chemistry with my new friends in St. Louis.  I honestly hated to leave and wished I had scheduled at least one more day there, but I’ll tell you this:  I definitely will be back!

In contrast, Memphis was very quiet (which of course made me wish even more that I had stayed in St. Louis!)  But I got a lot done on Saturday, arranging for my hotel rooms all the way through Chicago and getting an excellent deal on my room there.  I don’t mind telling you I was rather worried about that one; I was concerned that it would be budget-bustingly expensive, but it actually turned out to be much cheaper than Nashville (and I didn’t have to stay in a dive, either).  I’m working diligently to stay inside budget; St. Louis helped that a great deal (no hotel bill and only one self-paid meal!) and the savings on Chicago lodging will as well.  But I’m still over $2500 away from my funding goal, so if you can afford it and haven’t yet, please consider donating to my GoFundMe!  And if you have ideas for gigs in Boston, New York City or the South, please let me know because I’m starting to concentrate on scheduling those now.

Here’s my tour schedule, which is still in flux; check back when I’m getting close to you for details of local appearances.  If your city isn’t on the list, but it’s within about four hours’ drive of another city which is on the list, just send an email asking me to visit.  Your request will have even more impact if you can suggest a specific place I could do a book reading or give a talk, and it’s virtually assured if you can actually make the arrangements yourself (in other words if it’s your store, club or whatever).

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Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety.  –  William Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra (II, ii)

Yes, it’s been four years already, and some of you have been reading for most of that time; I’m very pleased to see how few of you have tired of me.  Pleased because, though I would certainly like to believe Enobarbus’ description of Cleopatra also applies to myself, one must always be careful to take flattery with a grain of salt, and never to fall for one’s own ad copy.  At the same time, false modesty in excess tends to make a lady look more silly than sincere; I therefore try to maintain a balance between self-promotion and self-deprecation, though I suspect you’ll forgive me if I err a bit on the side of the former on occasions like this.  Custom has not yet staled my variety for most of my regulars, and I gain new readers all the time; a look back at last year’s anniversary column will serve to illustrate that.  The Honest Courtesan now has almost 1500 posts, 92 assorted pages, almost 40,000 comments, about 1200 subscribers and 3900 Twitter followers, and 2.8 million page views from all over the world.  I write regular features for Cliterati and the Eros Guide; have seen my work published in Cato Unbound, Reason and the Washington Post; have published a book of short stories (which I’m currently promoting on a national tour); plan to release a book of essays in January; and have done so many interviews, speaking engagements, consultations and other such work that I’ve completely lost count.

So all in all, I think I can safely declare this blog a success.  I’ve got my procedures down to a science now, so I can do outside projects without too much difficulty (though a 15-week book tour is definitely testing the limits!) and I’m even starting to make a small amount of money from it.  That, however, will never be my primary motivation:  this blog exists to spread knowledge about the demimonde; to debunk propaganda spread by our enemies to demonize or infantilize us; to help people realize that whores and our clients are really just regular people and our work is regular work; to argue for self-ownership and the rights of individuals to direct their own lives without interference from tyrants and control freaks; to call attention to the awful things those tyrants do to advance their agendas; and to entertain y’all in the process.  And though I’m rarely at a loss for words, none in my vocabulary are sufficient to express the gratitude I feel for all of y’all who choose to spend some of your valuable time with me every day, and without whose attention, praise and support none of this would have been possible.

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not a crimeI spent the last week at home, but not remotely idle; beside trying to get ahead on my work, catching up on overdue bills, working on future tour appearances and sadly having to say goodbye to an old friend (details on the 24th; I don’t want to address it here), I also participated in a Twitter campaign devised by Mistress Matisse.  If you use Twitter, you probably know about it; even if you don’t you may have seen it on the Twitter feed in the right-hand column here.  Basically, Matisse asked sex workers to write short messages based around the established hashtag #rightsnotrescue in black sharpie on white T-shirts, then tweet the pictures.wet crime  When we started I was the only one she was sure would do it with her, but within the hour (we started at noon PDT on Monday June 30th) there were plenty of others, most of which put my amateurish efforts (pictured here) to shame.  If you missed it, take a look back at my timeline and search that tag; some of them were really splendid  (especially IMHO those by Cathryn Berarovitch).  rights not rescueAnyhow, we finished Sunday and so now I have these shirts; if you contribute to my GoFundMe and would like one of them instead of a book  (or in addition to if you contribute $250 or more) just let me know in the note with your contribution!  Since there are only four it has to be first-come, first-served to be fair.

RNR 7-3-14Another thing I accomplished this week (thanks to all those who have helped!) was to line up a long-term car rental for the remaining two months of my tour; research, perseverance, stubbornness and pure pushiness combined to secure one for just over $1200 total, more than $450 less than what Priceline and Travelocity both assured me was the absolute lowest price (and less than 10x the cost of the bus ride from Hell).OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  When one considers that a car will give me a wider choice of hotel rooms, the rental may actually pay for itself!  Anyhow, as you read this I’m in Kansas City to privately meet with some activists, and moving on to St. Louis tomorrow.  Check back next week for notes on my adventures in St. Louis and Memphis!

Here’s my tour schedule, which is still in flux; check back when I’m getting close to you for details of local appearances.  If your city isn’t on the list, but it’s within about four hours’ drive of another city which is on the list, just send an email asking me to visit.  Your request will have even more impact if you can suggest a specific place I could do a book reading or give a talk, and it’s virtually assured if you can actually make the arrangements yourself (in other words if it’s your store, club or whatever).

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Ramada DenverI wasn’t looking forward to the long downtime I had in Denver; after all, every day spent in a hotel without doing some kind of appearance is in my mind a waste of precious funds.  However, it was good to have a day to recover from my travel ordeal (see last week’s entry), and I used the weekend to get ahead on blogging, send out a lot of emails and make phone calls for future tour appearances, give a phone  interview to a writer in the UK, and otherwise stay productively occupied.  I also added up my costs and made a decision:  since I had no plans for Dallas, Oklahoma City or Kansas City, I decided to cut out the former two and reduce the latter to one day; my reasoning was that I can get to any of them from my home in less than a day’s drive, so I can always visit them later when I have concrete plans scheduled there.  The sacrifice brought me back within budget, but I still have two months to go; if you haven’t yet donated to my GoFundMe, please consider doing so!  I’d like to reach the 2/3 mark by the time I leave for the eastern leg on Monday, and I still need $780 to reach that goal.

When I got up last Tuesday morning, I was still uncertain how I was going to get to Wichita; when last week’s tour diary posted I still believed I was going to take a bus.  But the Greyhound customer service was useless; I couldn’t buy the ticket I wanted online, and when all the fees were added it looked like I was going to be paying $165 for the privilege of being crammed into an awful bus for ten hours, with no guarantee my books would be with me the whole way.  Add to that a twenty-something dollar cab ride in Wichita and a maybe-fiftyish cab ride to get to my presentation in Denver (my hotel was pretty far from downtown) and I was looking at about $240 worth of transportation costs in the next 24 hours.  But then at breakfast, Aphrodite smiled upon me; I struck up a conversation with another guest (who happened to be an anarchist and a mycologist), and in the process realized that the multi-day one-way car rental I had rejected as prohibitively expensive might not be if I booked it for only one day.  My new friend offered me a ride to the airport if I decided to do that, and I was elated to discover the cost was only $237.  That took care of getting me to my presentation and to Wichita, for only a tank and a half of gas more than I’d have spent letting others drive me.

As you can probably imagine, I was in a much better frame of mind for my presentation at Liberty On the Rocks than I would’ve been had the prospect of a midnight bus ride been looming in my mind.  There were about 40 people gathered to hear me speak (among them readers Leonard Fahrni and Free Girard), and the crowd was enthusiastic and asked excellent questions (the presentation was videorecorded, so it may be available to watch later).  In Wichita, the group was (understandably) smaller, but I enjoyed the experience just as much because we opted for an informal discussion rather than a presentation followed by a Q & A session.  That’s one of the really wonderful things about this tour: not only am I getting to meet readers and educate people about sex worker rights, I’m getting to do it in a number of different ways.  Some places want a book reading; some want a talk; some opt for a discussion, and others interview me.  Some people might prefer to be able to give the same prepared speech at each venue, but that would bore me; this organic, flexible approach really suits me best and, I think, allows me to shine more than a rigid program would.

Here’s my tour schedule, which is still in flux; check back when I’m getting close to you for details of local appearances.  If your city isn’t on the list, but it’s within about four hours’ drive of another city which is on the list, just send an email asking me to visit.  Your request will have even more impact if you can suggest a specific place I could do a book reading or give a talk, and it’s virtually assured if you can actually make the arrangements yourself (in other words if it’s your store, club or whatever).

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McNeillFlyerLast Tuesday I mentioned that I would be speaking at UNLV, and that on the following day I’d be meeting back up with my traveling companion.  But I omitted two words from the latter phrase: “in Denver”.  And thereby hangs a tale of woe.  My presentation went just fine, and had my bus trip gone just as well this would’ve been a very short column; alas, that was not to be.  I was rather proud of myself for efficiently compacting my luggage and for not getting angry when it was announced that the bus had been ridiculously overbooked, which meant I had to wait thirteen hours for the next one.  I was also quite pleased when the hotel clerk cheerfully let me back into my room even though I had technically checked out, and rather enjoyed the large diner breakfast I decided to have so I wouldn’t need to eat dinner en route; the fact that I would not need to book a hotel in Denver Wednesday night also appealed to my sense of thrift.  And that concludes the list of good things I can say about the journey.

The bus left the depot 45 minutes late and was absolutely packed solid, and it’s a good thing I’m used to being in close quarters with strange men because my seatmate was built like a professional wrestler and overlapped my seat by a noticeable amount.  The promised on-bus wi-fi turned out to be a lie; my computer connected to the bus, but the bus never connected to the internet for more than a few painfully-slow and highly intermittent teases.  And there was simply no way to actually sleep in that seat, no matter how I turned my head, torso and legs (though I did fitfully doze for a merciful hour here and there throughout the night).  I would’ve still considered it merely a bad trip rather than a horrible one, however, had the driver not switched the interior lights on during the approach to Grand Junction, then proceeded to execute a series of tight turns and unexpected stop-starts while I couldn’t see where we were going through the now-reflective windows.  It’s a good thing my last meal had been concluded over twelve hours earlier, or the resulting mess would’ve been a lot nastier.

That was only the beginning.  Near Vail, the highway began to twist and turn in a way no other interstate highway in the country manages to do, and needless to say I got sicker and sicker; at some point the seat came loose from its catches and began to roll forward with every deceleration and backward with every acceleration.  By the time we arrived in Denver I felt like a torture victim and probably looked like a frightened, bedraggled kitten (except not as cute).  Fortunately, reader Leonard Fahrni had volunteered to fetch me from the depot despite the early hour; had I been required to drag my own luggage to a cab stand, endure a back-seat ride to an internet cafe, then book a hotel and endure another ride to get there, I honestly don’t know if I could’ve done it.  But Leonard carried my things, drove gently to his house, waited patiently while I found a hotel with his internet and then drove me there and brought everything in again.  Who says chivalry is dead?

After that nightmare, my weekend in Denver was so anticlimactic it isn’t worth mentioning.  Tonight I’m speaking at the founding chapter of Liberty on the Rocks, then tomorrow I’m off to Wichita, Kansas on another bus – a much shorter trip, in the daytime, over nice flat country.  And I’ve already planned a long-term rental car deal for July and August so there will be no more bus trips from Hell. The Road to Hell

Here’s my tour schedule, which is still in flux; check back when I’m getting close to you for details of local appearances.  If your city isn’t on the list, but it’s within about four hours’ drive of another city which is on the list, just send an email asking me to visit.  Your request will have even more impact if you can suggest a specific place I could do a book reading or give a talk, and it’s virtually assured if you can actually make the arrangements yourself (in other words if it’s your store, club or whatever).

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I’m hungry, I don’t need respect, I don’t need honour, I just want three meals a day.  –  Elderly Korean sex worker

Think of the Children! 

A teacher who describes note-passing as “scary”?  The jokes write themselves.

A…woman has been charged with prostitution at the Tewksbury [Massachusetts] Public Library…a…plain clothes detective claimed Brittany Macintyre…handed him a pen and…paper.  The two passed notes back and forth until she allegedly asked for $60 in exchange for a sex act…one library patron [said] “I’m quite shocked because a lot of kids come here and I’m a teacher, so it’s pretty scary”…

Feminine Pragmatism Bacchus-D

Koreans could once be sure that their children would look after them in their old age, but no longer…As a result, some elderly women are turning to prostitution…”Bacchus Ladies” [are] older women who make a living by selling tiny bottles of the popular Bacchus energy drink to male customers.  But often that’s not all they’re selling.  At an age when Korean grandmothers are supposed to be venerated as matriarchs, some are selling sex…they invested their savings in the next generation.  In a Confucian society, successful children are the best form of pension.  But attitudes here have changed just as fast as living standards, and now many young people say they can’t afford to support themselves and their parents…The government…is scrambling to provide a welfare system that works [but] in the meantime…[the elderly] have no savings, no realistic pension, and no family to rely on…

One Born Every Minute

A neuroscientist who claimed to have fathered 58 children while running [an]…insemination service preyed on three women desperate to become mothers by sexually assaulting them…during the…process…[Professor Gennadij] Raivich told one alleged victim she had to give him oral sex repeatedly in order to get a sperm sample.  He told another she was more likely to get pregnant if she orgasmed…

Tyranny By Consensus

Michael Weinstein [spoke to]…the press…on the…condom mandate bill…armed with what he claimed to be the smoking gun that justified his campaign to force condoms down performers’ throats…a survey done by the UCLA School of Public Health which, according to Weinstein, proved that there was a “public health danger” involving porn performers…Weinstein presented this “pictographic”AHF Porn Study Propaganda Graphic which attempted to…paint a picture of porn performers as oppressed, drugged out, abused, exploited, and basically unable to think for themselves…[so] the state absolutely had to step in and rescue them with condoms…Both AVN’s Mark Kernes  and The Real Porn Wikileaks  have done fine efforts to debunk this agitprop, but there are some points that even their efforts do manage to miss which deserve additional attention…

A Procrustean Bed (First Updates of the Year)

The evil clownishness continues:

[Rhode Island Senator] Gayle Goldin…is urging her…colleagues to…reject [a "sex trafficking" bill which]…conflates sex trafficking with prostitution…the bill as written could mean that [a] cab driver [who carries a whore to a call could be convicted of] sex trafficking…Goldin said [a] slight change [to her original wording] has fouled the intent of the legislation.  It “would mean that the penalties intended specifically for the traffickers could also be used to penalize sex workers themselves,” she [wrote]…

A Whore in Church

This is absurd on so many levels:

The Roman Catholic sisters whose convent fence-line is mere inches from a flashy new strip club…were unable to prevent the business from opening last year.  But they haven’t given up…and…the Village Board of Melrose Park voted to join the nuns…in a lawsuit against…Club Allure…and the Village of Stone Park, which granted its license to operate…One of the main arguments in the lawsuit is expected to center on a provision of state law that…prohibits such businesses from operating within 1,000 feet of a place of worship…

Broken Record

I don’t know what’s more pathetic, Rachel’s idea of “big events” or her mathematical illiteracy:

Soon hundreds of thousands will pack [Omaha, Nebraska] for the College World Series…any big event…creates a bigger opportunity for…prostitution…Rachel Davis escaped such a life 15 years ago…[and] now helps others get out…“During…the world series…the Olympic Swim Trials, the Berkshire meeting…quotas…go up to $2,000 a night”…

Damned If You Don’t

Among those arrested [in a Sacramento, California sting] was the Rev. John Oselsky…who…stopped at a fast food parking lot…to purchase a meal when he was approached by two women who knocked on his vehicle window…Oselsky…speaks fluent Russian, Ukrainian and Romanian.  But his English is not good…Oselsky never…offered money [and] had [only] $13 in his wallet…

An Example To the West (TW3 #39) Naked Football Club

Brazilian prostitutes…played a football match …in World Cup host city Belo Horizonte…to raise awareness about sex workers’ rights…the women set up an impromptu pitch using traffic cones for goalposts and played to the enthusiastic cheers of onlookers.  The prostitutes, calling themselves the Naked Football Club — though in fact they played in the green and yellow uniforms of Brazil — teamed up with the visiting evangelicals from the United States to take on a local university team…

Libertarianism Happens To People

Mark Shurtleff…Utah attorney general…set up a unit…[which] sent armed police to raid businesses that were suspected of employing undocumented workers…Shurtleff…also…[over]saw a dramatic increase in the use of SWAT teams and…opposed an important ballot initiative  to rein in the abuse of civil asset forfeiture…[now] Shurtleff…[is] under investigation for allegedly violating campaign finance law…and…”accused law enforcement agents of using ‘Dirty Harry’ tactics when they searched his house, breaking through his door and pointing automatic weapons at his children…

Somewhere in the Middle

Chris Atchison…[has] been studying [sex workers' clients] for about 20 years…[and] doesn’t think…there is…such a thing as a “typical john”…”People who purchase sexual services come from all walks of life…[and] all racial and ethnic categories…they don’t all [have]…identical reasons or…identical needs…Some…are physically disabled.  Some of these individuals have great social stigmas, social-anxiety disorders.  And some are individuals who…just…are lacking a partner, a widower, and so on and so forth…most [clients] would never hurt their escorts, from whom they mainly seek “companionship”…

Check Your Premises (Hysteria on Parade)

Another warped view of touring:

…Taken from one hotel to the next, she’s been forced to have sex with men for money again and again.  And there are many more like her.  Hundreds of young women and girls are coerced into doing this on any given day, police…say.  Most are…sent along what’s commonly described as The Pipeline, which takes them to cities such as Montreal, here to Ottawa and all the way to Windsor.  Shipping girls along circuits such as The Pipeline is a crucial component to a trafficker’s success.  The constant movement helps pimps avoid police detection, isolates the women and girls from their family and friends, and attracts a larger clientele by offering up fresh-faced girls…

Backwards into the Future (TW3 #352) ritual shaming

dozens of prominent legal experts…are calling for the abolition of the police-run “custody and education” system, which…resembles the “re-education through labor” system in all but name, and has no basis in Chinese law…which forbids the state to deprive citizens of their freedom without any basis in legislation.  The first…facilities began to be built in 2002, in line with a 1993 directive from…the State Council, which ordered that those found engaging in sex work should be given “legal and moral” education, subjected to tests for sexually transmitted diseases and organized to take part in productive work…a person can be incarcerated by police for up to two years without trial for involvement in the sex industry, whether as a sex worker or a client…

Dutch Threat (TW3 #418)

Another excellent essay from Felicia Anna:

…the [Dutch] minister of Justice Ivo Opstelten presented…the government’s…new campaign against human trafficking…[with] an overview of the results of the last campaign…[which] got 392 anonymous tips…[this was] 93% more…then the years before…[but] 392 reports out of 20,000 estimated legal working prostitutes in Holland isn’t very much.  In fact, it’s only about 2%…while the police [claimed] in their own ‘report’ “Schone Schijn“…that it was somewhere between 50 and 90%…of those 392 reports…the police only decided to investigate 250…a whopping 28 arrests where made, which comes down to about 7% of the total amount of reports…This means that only 7% of the reports leads to an actual arrest, and…93% of the cases are false alarm…In short, people report it much more then before, but the actual number of people arrested has not changed at all…

Choke Point 

A mysterious group of business people will spend up to $5 million campaigning against…”Operation Choke Point”…The United States Consumer Coalition says the…operation unfairly targets legal businesses by choking off their access to banks and third-party payment processors…Brian Wise, a partner in the Washington strategic communications shop Wise Public Affairs, began forming USCC at the beginning of the year.  A Facebook site was launched in March, and the group has stepped up its media campaign…[to] highlight…business that…have been hurt by Choke Point…

Property of the State

Tennessee moves to criminalize smoking during pregnancy:

When newborn babies begin to withdraw from powerful drugs, they shriek at a high, telltale pitch.  Cut off from the substances they ingested through their mothers, they convulse, projectile vomit or writhe from skin-scorching diarrhea.  Their tiny bodies shudder violently…Tennessee…has made its mark in trying to understand what triggers the painful symptoms in babies going through nicotine and opioid withdrawal.  Researchers and insurers alike are looking for ways to reach out to and treat pregnant women with addictions…

The Roof Caves In

The Somaly Mam Foundation has pledged to change its name following the resignation of its founder…executive director Gina Reiss-Wilchins says the organisation has ‘been working tirelessly to chart the best path for…rebranding, renaming, and re-launching our organisation’…”  Meanwhile, there’s a petition for the New York Times to fire Nick Kristof for his lies and his perpetuation of Mam’s scam.  But as Dr. Laura Agustin points out, it’s a mistake to concentrate on Mam and Kristof:government money machine

…if some [donors] do stop funding SMF, they will simply shift support to other similar institutions engaged in the same cause…And some new figure with the ability to stir feelings will eventually emerge from the hundreds of groups now dedicated to sex trafficking…The current fuss about Kristof and Mam reproduces the cult of personality that caused trouble in the first place.  To focus on individuals is to avoid addressing structures.  A couple of self-promoting showoffs pale beside proliferating government machinery that now churns out salaries and prestige for thousands worldwide caught up in a movement based on fraud.

Whither Canada? (TW3 #423)

In what was billed as a national day of action, rallies against the government’s new prostitution legislation were [held] in several cities…Dozens of demonstrators gathered around red umbrellas…in a downtown Toronto park to speak out against the proposed law, which would…”simply move sex workers out into more isolated and more marginalized areas of the city”…said Jean McDonald, head of…Maggie’s …She said that…the Conservatives are “spitting in the face” of the Supreme Court’s landmark prostitution decision and ignoring the vital input of sex workers…

Schadenfreude (TW3 #424) 

Noah Berlatsky on Chong Kim and Eden:

…Breaking Out, an anti-trafficking organization, announced that [it]…had been unable to confirm [her tale and]…is contemplating legal action against her.  Kim’s supposedly true story was the basis for a 2012 film, Eden…the…exploitation tropes…are clustered about so densely and insistently that it’s hard to believe anyone missed them.  There are women-in-prison shower scenes…The trope of giving prisoners kittens to love is straight out of Caged from 1950…There’s also some S&M fetish (again a staple of the genre), and…stylized violence a la Tarantino…To just point out the most obvious issue, the movie details a copious number of murders, several of them committed by the main character herself.  This is standard issue for a Hollywood film, but in real life, this amounts to mass murder, including the killing of multiple law-enforcement personnel…where’s the massive investigation?  Why is this being covered in an entertainment review, rather than on the front page?…

TRPWL presented a catalog of the many inconsistencies in Kim’s story, including her omission of the fact that she was convicted of fraud in 2009.

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An empty head is not really empty; it is stuffed with rubbish.  Hence the difficulty of forcing anything into an empty head.  –  Eric Hoffer

shouting at a brick wallI often get questions from readers asking if I’d like to school some ignoramus who has written a prohibitionist screed packed with disinformation, either in the news media or on a blog.  When I first started activism four years ago, I nearly always said “yes”; it was a chance to be heard by people who didn’t yet know me, and to draw more attention to this blog.  But as I explained in “Something Has To Give”, I just don’t have time for that kind of unpaid work any longer; from my point of view I can spend my afternoon writing a blog post that will be read by many thousands, or a commissioned article that may be read by tens of thousands, or a futile attempt to convert a true believer that will be read by dozens (hundreds at best) of other true believers.  And I’m much too pragmatic a woman to choose the latter when the first two options are so much more sensible.  Lest you think this is a recent decision on my part, allow me to quote a two-year-old column:

For any given issue there are three positions:  Those who are strongly for it, those who are strongly against it, and those who don’t have a strong opinion either way.  And no matter what fanatics and demagogues may tell you, the third is nearly always the largest group on any issue.  When trying to sway public opinion, therefore, the wise writer or speaker targets that middle group, the “silent majority”.  It’s silly to waste energy in trying to convince those who are already convinced (“preaching to the choir”), and pointless to argue with those who are dogmatically committed to the opposite view (one can’t reason a person out of a position he didn’t reason himself into).  But the members of that third group, if they can be won, will decide the way the wheel turns.  They are the ones who took it for granted that black and white people couldn’t live together peacefully, but now abhor racism; they’re the ones who accepted the claim that homosexuals were perverts, yet now agree with equal conviction that they shouldn’t be mistreated.  And they’re the ones that in the United States believe that whores are pathetic losers, degraded victims or depraved criminals, but in most other Western nations disagree with that notion.  They’re the ones the “trafficking” fetishists have drawn into their moral panic, and the ones who will drop that panic like yesterday’s fad once the majority recognize it as a lie.

The problem with debating true believers is succinctly explained in today’s epigram; Jefferson covered the same ground with, “Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.”  Consider creationists, for example; they live in a society where the soundness of the scientific method is evident every single waking moment of the day, and where there is a mass of biological and geological information at their fingertips.  Debunkings of every single creationist talking point are a mouse-click away, and creationists are exposed in passing to evidence supporting the great age of the Earth at least a couple of times per week.  But does any of it have any effect?  Not on your life, because it’s impossible to force something into a space that’s already occupied by something else.  The mind of a true believer is not empty; it is so stuffed with the reality-denying rubbish of his belief system that there is no room for facts, at least in those areas occupied by his beliefs.

Anti-sex beliefs are not mere ignorance; they are religious beliefs like any other, accepted on faith and requiring the denial of all information to the contrary.  There is never any profit in attempting to engage such a person on her own ground; it’s merely a waste of time and energy that could be better employed elsewhere, such as in speaking to people whose minds are not already closed.  That’s what I do in my writing, both on-blog and off; it’s also what I did a few weeks ago in guest-teaching two sections of a human sexuality class at Oklahoma State University.  It’s possible that some people who come to my blog, many who encounter my articles on mainstream sites and a few of the students I spoke to in person remain unconvincedofficial residence of Charles Mader or even shut their minds to my information, but the majority don’t.  Even debating a prohibitionist in a public venue can be productive, as long as one is reasonably certain that a sizeable fraction of the audience are receptive to fact and reason.  But when one argues with a “true believer”, either alone or surrounded by other “true believers”, one might as well be arguing with a dumpster.

(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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Maggie, Michael & ChristinaIf you meet me in the next few months and notice that my left arm is darker than my right, that’s what comes of driving due north in Arizona for six hours in June.  Actually, I did two long drives through the desert last week; on Tuesday I traveled from San Diego to Tucson, then on Thursday from Tucson to Las Vegas.  My traveling companion won’t rejoin me until tomorrow, so I was in a rented car which, alas, had no usb port for my thumb drive full of music; I was therefore stuck listening to the radio.  And in long stretches of rural Arizona and Southeast California that essentially means a choice between preaching, Mexican stations or static.  Still, I made it through and had a lovely time at the home of Cris Sardina, the head of the Desiree Alliance; the night I arrived six of us got together to have dinner, eat cake and swap war stories.  The next day I worked on my blog, washed clothes and did some more visiting, and then on Thursday arrived at the home of Christina Parreira and her husband Michael Whiteacre, who had invited me to stay at their place for a few days.  I was really very fortunate to have these invitations; not only did it enable me to save money on hotels for almost a week, it also afforded me the opportunity to eat home cooking and be out of the impersonal hotel environment for a while.  I’m definitely hoping to get a few more invitations like these in the next few months, for the sake of both my budget and my sanity!

On Friday morning, I was interviewed on Sex Nerd Radio, then later Christina had to go in to the brothel where she works; we arrived after dark and since it was quiet, she and two of the other ladies gave me a tour of the place.  If they had not told me it was converted from a group of trailers, I would never have known (though the sprawling arrangement might’ve given me a clue).  The workers decorate their own rooms, and the ones I saw were quite lovely; besides the public areas one would expect (parlor, bar, pool room, etc) there were also private areas customers don’t go, such as the kitchen and laundry room.  We then sat out on the patio chatting for a while before Michael and I returned to the city; one aspect of this tour I’m really enjoying is that I’m getting plenty of opportunities to talk to other sex workers in these informal settings, and I certainly hope those I’m talking to enjoy it just as much!

Today I’ll be giving a talk at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, then it’s off to Denver tomorrow; we decided to bypass Albuquerque because there was nothing going on there, but I may be doing several things in eastern Colorado so keep watching the tour schedule!

Here’s my tour schedule, which is still in flux; check back when I’m getting close to you for details of local appearances.  If your city isn’t on the list, but it’s within about four hours’ drive of another city which is on the list, just send an email asking me to visit.  Your request will have even more impact if you can suggest a specific place I could do a book reading or give a talk, and it’s virtually assured if you can actually make the arrangements yourself (in other words if it’s your store, club or whatever).

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