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Posts Tagged ‘brothels’

The 1920s and ’30s were the heyday of the pulps, cheaply-produced magazines crammed with new fiction in almost every genre imaginable.  They were the forerunners of comic books and, in a way, of television and video games in that they provided affordable entertainment and tried to reach every possible niche market.  Like their modern successors, they were often condemned by critics as lowbrow, but had a certain undeniable charm; many of the best stories are still read and anthologized today.  This story was based on a dream I had on my first night in New Orleans at the end of my recent tour; perhaps it was inspired by a poster of sci-fi pulp covers Denise had on the wall of the guest room.  Though modern science has rendered its setting highly dubious, I ask that you approach it as readers approached those old tales from nearly a century ago:  as an imaginative tale of adventure on a fantastic world.

Saturn as Seen from Titan by Chesley Bonestell (1952)Every time I looked up at that spectacular view of Saturn, I congratulated myself on having had the good sense to invest in topside property.  Though it had meant a heavy mortgage, the expenditure of every penny I’d made my first year on Titan, and the calling-in of every favor I had accumulated, it was totally worth it; nearly every visitor to the colony preferred my club to the ones down in the red-light district, as did every local with any poetry in his soul.  Sure, it meant I had to charge more for drinks and house fees, and to maintain a more discreet atmosphere than the anything-goes places in the backstreets.  But you know what?  I never liked working in that kind of place, and I’ll be damned if my name was going to be attached to one.  I could never have afforded the rent or the bribes to own a place this classy on Earth, but here it was still wide open for a gal with a little bit of business savvy and a lot of what Mama Nature gave her.

That’s not to say that I didn’t breathe a little sigh of relief every time I sat down with my books and saw loads more black ink than red.  While it’s true that there are few things more dependable than gents’ desire for booze and female company when they’re months away from population centers with a more even distribution of the sexes, it’s also true that hospitality is always a precarious business and a proprietor always needs to be aware of developments that might queer the whole deal faster than sunset on Ceres.  And on the particular night of which I’m about to tell you, one such development walked through my door and none-too-politely requested my company.  Well, demanded is maybe a better word.

Said development was about 190 centimeters tall, wore a badge and a blaster and looked a helluva lot like Fred McMurray; I mean the young Double Indemnity Fred McMurray, not the old Disney-comedy one.  Which is kind of a funny coincidence, because I’ve often been told I look a lot like the young Barbara Stanwyck.  By the time I excused myself from mingling and reached the office, he was looking through my file cabinet.

“Didn’t your mama ever tell you it’s not polite to riffle through a lady’s drawers without her permission?” I asked from the doorway, projecting a nonchalance I did not feel.

“You’re required to keep these available for inspection on demand; I’m demanding.”

I shrugged.  “Suit yourself.  You’ll find they’re all in order; I pay my lawyer and my CPA to make sure they are.  In fact, I could’ve delivered ‘em to your office and saved you the trouble of coming all the way across town.”

“I wanted to look the place over for myself.  You know this sort of business isn’t supposed to be operating on the surface; you appear to have been grandfathered in somehow, but I want you to know that I’ll be watching, and if this place becomes a nuisance…”

I was sitting at the desk by this point.  “Pleased to make your acquaintance too, Marshal,” I said, blowing smoke in his direction before stubbing the cigarette out in the ashtray.  “I get the feeling we’ll be seeing a lot of each other.”

“Count on it,” he said, slamming the door on his way out.  I will not record what I said the moment he was gone, because I don’t want you to get the idea that I’m unladylike.

Though I learned long ago to keep control of my temper when dealing with men, I was boiling inside and knew it would be a mistake to go back to the floor right then.  So I left things in the capable hands of my assistant Frances, put on my thermal suit and decided to go for a walk along the lakeshore.  Now, if you’ve never been to Titan (and let’s face it, that’s probably a safe assumption), I should probably explain that the lakes, rivers, swamps and seas here aren’t made of water but of a liquid hydrocarbon mixture; it would probably smell like tar or gasoline, but since you need a helmet to go outside I can’t be sure.  If you absolutely have to know, ask a chemist.  Anyhow, the native life seems to like it all right; the shallows of the lake swarm with bugs during the day, and even at night you can hear lots of things moving around in the water.  Oil.  Benzene?  Oh, you know what I mean.

McMurray & StanwyckI was plenty mad when I left the dome, and by the time I had cooled off I had walked about three kilometers beyond the end of the well-travelled path.  Not that I was worried, mind you; humans are by far the largest animals on Titan.  The second-largest is a kind of giant slug massing about 30 kilos, and I suddenly realized I had walked right into the middle of a much larger aggregation of them than I’d ever seen or heard of.  They like to lie in the mud sunning themselves during the day, in groups of maybe a few dozen at a time, but it was rare to see ‘em at night.  Yet here I was, surrounded by hundreds of the slimy things; though they are usually very shy and always flee the approach of humans by sliding into the lake, these weren’t moving at all and I bet Doc Robinson would’ve given a month’s pay to trade places with me right now because what had made me stop and wake up to my surroundings was nearly putting my foot in one.

Doc could’ve saved his money, though, because I’d have gladly traded places with him for free.  Yeah, they were harmless…but this was a much larger grouping than anybody had ever seen in one place, and at night to boot; it gave me the heebie-jeebies, and I decided that even the company of the new marshal would be preferable right now.  But as I turned back, I realized that there was no place to go; the slugs had slithered onto the path behind me, and I couldn’t move from the spot where I was standing without stepping on one.  I don’t scare easy, but let me plop you down alone on another planet, surrounded entirely by shapeless aliens, and let’s see if you do any better than I did.  I was totally terrified, and I guess I must’ve had my oxygen valve turned a bit too low for the combination of exertion and excitement because when they started closing in and actually crawling up my legs I passed out.  Aw, who am I trying to kid?  Like the heroine of a Victorian melodrama, I fainted.

By the time I opened my eyes again, my radiophone’s readout said 23:14; I had only been out for maybe half an hour, but my surroundings were completely different and I shuddered when I realized the slugs must’ve dragged me here.  I wasn’t sure where “here” was, exactly, but it looked like a cave and the rocks were wet with slime.  The entrance was above, so there was plenty enough Saturn-light for me to see that the group which had captured me was only a small fraction of the number here; there must have been thousands.  Though I was still petrified they hadn’t actually harmed me (except for the nice new grey hairs I had probably sprouted), and in fact were giving me a wide berth; the only bad thing was the unshakeable feeling that they were looking at me (despite the fact that they lack any visible sensory apparatus at all).  After about ten minutes of calming myself, I decided to risk the radiophone; Frances answered.

“Hiya doll.  Keeping things together over there?”

“Janet?  Where in blazes are you?  You’ve been gone for over two hours!”

“No time to explain now.  Is Doc Robinson still there, and sober?”

“Yes and mostly.  You want me to get him on the phone?”

“Please.”  The slugs hadn’t moved; could they hear, or detect radio waves, or both?  If so, they didn’t seem overly concerned.

(What do the slugs want with Janet?  And even if she escapes them, how will she deal with the new marshal?  Be here tomorrow for the exciting conclusion!)

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To believe that we can eliminate sex work…without…affecting other industries…operates on the assumption that sex work happens in isolation—that what happens on the back page doesn’t affect the front, when, in fact, it’s financing the whole operation.  –  Alexandra Kimball

Think of the Children!

The Telegraph‘s headline writer obviously doesn’t know the meaning of the term “graphic novel”:

A council worker who wrote a “raunchy” novel was sacked from her job at a children’s centre after complaints from parents who compared the book to Fifty Shades of Grey.  Bettina Bunte…was…told…that her book damaged the reputation of the…centre…

Five Women in Whitechapel Russell Edwards with supposed Ripper shawl

You’ve probably heard all the hubbub about Jack the Ripper being “definitely” identified by DNA testing of a shawl supposedly found next to the mutilated body of Catherine Eddowes (cue Maggie’s goose pimples).  Unfortunately, we’ll still have to put up with the endless speculation for a while yet:

…Leaving aside…the claim that the shawl was never washed or cleaned at any time during the past 126 years, the biggest problem in carrying out such sensitive DNA analysis is the question of cross contamination…When other labs have worked on the ancient DNA of important samples…they have gone to extraordinary lengths to avoid the possibility…They have also worked…“blind”…to ensure they do know which sample they are analysing in order to avoid unwitting prejudice…None of this, as far we know, has been done in this case.  Dr Louhelainen may be satisfied that he has found the culprit, but many other scientists are not, including Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys, the man who invented the DNA fingerprint technique…“An interesting but remarkable claim that needs to be subjected to peer review, with detailed analysis of the provenance of the shawl and the nature of the claimed DNA match with the perpetrator’s descendants”…Sir Alec [said, adding]…“Kosminski was long regarded as by far the most likely perpetrator.”

Do As I Say, Not As I Do 

[Florida cop James Yacobellis, who was]…busted in a…sting of a Boca Raton Asian massage parlor…isn’t a stranger to trouble…in one instance…he…[threatened] a suspect by putting him in a bathtub, turning on the faucet, and pointing his taser…between October 2011 and February 2013, Yacobellis was on paid leave while [other] allegations were being investigated.  He was still drawing a $87,000 a year salary…In nine years, Yacobellis was involved in six …internal affairs investigations.

Perquisites

Funny how the truth doesn’t get as much press as silly lies about sports:

…So far there are about 13,000 delegates lined up to attend 18 events when the Nova Centre opens in 2016.  Local sex workers expect that will make business busier than usual.  “A lot of businessmen have an entertainment allowance”…said one Halifax-based sex worker.  “Out-of-town clients are about 60 percent of the business right now.”  Business travellers are why one local sex worker allows clients to pay by credit card—with the nature of the transaction concealed.  “A lot of them will use [their company credit card] or write it off as a business expense,” she says…

The Law of Averages 

It’s good to see this in as mainstream a publication as The Atlantic:

There is little basis for the claim that 13…is the age that most sex workers begin working in prostitution.  It’s hard to pin down where exactly the…claim originated, partly because it’s so often repeated without a citation or context…Most organizations, if they refer to a source at all, reference [the Estes & Weiner] study…Most current government and nonprofit policies on sex work define their goals as “rescue,” which makes perfect sense if the age-of-entry statistic is central to your understanding of the sex industry…But…in reality, many sex workers come into the industry as adults and without coercion…

StruwwelpeterAuthor Chris Hall does discuss the Silbert & Pines study, but does not mention Melissa Farley’s distortion of their data.

Presents, Presents, Presents! 

Daz sent two presents while I was on the road, so I only saw them after I got home last week!  One was Acolytes of Cthulhu, and the other Struwwelpeter (in English).  Thank you so much!

Confined and Controlled

Another idiot who doesn’t understand the bottleneck effect and thinks women are too stupid and weak to be allowed to manage our own sexuality:

A mayoral candidate says he wants Ottawa to be the “test city” for legalizing prostitution and is in favour of legalized bordellos.  Darren W. Wood…says he wants prostitution to be “tightly controlled and highly taxed” as a means of protecting sex workers and generating revenue…Under his proposal, sex workers would be…regularly checked for sexually transmitted infections, protected from pimps and johns via an onsite security system and fined or jailed if they are working without a license…

The Last Thirteen for Fourteen

Here’s another excellent column from Marijke Vonk; this one’s on how to be a good ally to sex workers:

…By vocally supporting sex workers we can challenge the  assumptions of the people around us…As professionals, academics, social workers, educators or people in a position of social power we can…even influence legislative reform…It can be scary to openly disagree with the current discourse of sex workers as either victims or dirty whores who were asking for it, but as a non-sex worker you have the privilege of staying relatively safe as you speak out about these injustices…

The Public Eye

Pop singer Lowell spent some time as a stripper in Canada…[but while] a lot of singers might cover up that past…it became immediately obvious that she has nothing to hide…She’s been [drawing on her stripping and bisexuality]…since her brilliant 2013 EP, I Killed Sarah V(Sarah Victoria was her name when she was a dancer).  She told Rolling Stone, “There can be something really empowering about [stripping]…by making it taboo, we alienate these girls and allow…victimization to happen.”  It’s important to bring those kinds of ideas into the mainstream…


Feminine Pragmatism (TW3 #133)

You’d almost think reporters were historical ignoramuses who didn’t know that up until a century ago, the professions of actress and whore were indistinguishable:

Shweta Prasad, one of India’s best known former Bollywood child stars, has been arrested for prostitution…she said…she and many other actresses had been lured into prostitution when Bollywood roles dried up and the money ran out.  She had not found a film role in eight years…Inspector P Murali Krishna…said…“We are treating her as a victim and she’s been sent to a rehabilitation home.  We have arrested the person who exploited her”…

A 23-year-old woman voluntarily doing productive work is an “exploited victim”, but she wasn’t at all exploited when others pimped her in movies at the age of 11.  But in India, unlike the US, some are willing to point out the truth:

…the law clearly says that the practice of selling…sexual service is…not a crime…the actress…had not been coerced, kidnapped or tricked…but had chosen this from among the options available to her…the media [should] refrain from gleefully jumping in with police stings that are unauthorised and illegal…it wasn’t the activities of the actress that were illegal but the actions of the police…

Buttons, Bags & Banknotes

Canadians feminists prove themselves just as obsessed with trivia as their sisters in the mother country:

A Vancouver catering company that offers sushi served on women’s naked bodies is sparking controversy among feminists who call the practice disgusting and degrading…“We’re not hijacked into doing this,” [said] Vancouver model Jessica Perry…Naked Sushi…offers nyotaimori— the Japanese practice of serving sashimi or sushi on a naked female body adorned with strategically-placed flowers and leaves…women’s rights activists are asking health officials to shut [it] down…the health authority does not have jurisdiction over the catering company as it serves its sushi after the food is prepared in an approved kitchen…

My First Million (TW3 #343)

I reached a total of three million page views soon after 2:30 PM CDT Thursday.  Thanks so much to all the readers who have helped make this blog a success! 3,000,000

O, Canada! (TW3 #405) 

Cop gets in trouble for unofficially doing the same thing other cops do officially:

Six guilty verdicts…against an Ottawa [cop] who…repeatedly…[accessed] confidential police records for personal reasons could result in dismissal.  Sgt. Rohan Beebakhee…took it upon himself to book dates with escorts, showing up in full uniform and having what he called a “safety briefing” with sex trade workers…He would often bring along junior officers…An internal affairs investigator…ordered in 2011 that Beebakhee stop all contact with escorts.  He didn’t…Beebakhee…was charged with sexual assault…in 2007 [but the] charge was withdrawn in 2009…

Property of the State

Note that at 12 weeks abortion is totally legal:

A [Montana] woman…is now facing a felony criminal endangerment charge for putting her unborn child at risk by taking illegal drugs.  Casey Gloria Allen, 21…[tested] positive for the presence of benzodiazapines, THC, and opiates…Allen is 12 weeks pregnant…

Whither Canada? (TW3 #423) 

Excerpt from a press release by Terri-Jean Bedford:

This afternoon I testified before the Senate Committee on Justice and Constitutional Affairs.  I gave my speech and then was ejected from the question and answer session for failing to stop speaking when the Chair asked me to.  I apologize for losing my temper.  I was barely able to read my speech because I was so angry at the government for parading victims with repeated irrelevant information and then organizations who were shilling for government handouts on which they are dependent.  The shameful use of victims by the government in this process, and their disregard for life by ignoring court findings, refusing to listen to their own legal staff and refusing to answer questions from legitimate sources made me snap…

If Men Were Angels

So now joining a cult is “sex trafficking” too?

Four members of [an Israeli] messianic group have been arrested on charges of kidnapping young women and forcing them into prostitution …the group would control women with a combinations of drugs, alcohol and heavy brainwashing techniques and convince them to have sex in exchange for money…Police allege that the girls were taught that “lying with non-Jews would hasten the redemption” of the Jewish people and that by having sex with non-Jews, the girls would purify them and bring back their “holy sparks” to Israel…

Divided We Fall (TW3 #427)

Another good call for Canadian queers to oppose criminalization:

The government…[has] a…history of criminalizing consensual sex to promote the majority’s sexual morality.  Think of the ban against gay sex, lifted in 1969.  Nobody suggests that ban really changed people’s desire to engage in gay sex or reduced its incidence.  Instead, it cast a stigma and criminal status over a class of individuals [and]…impaired their ability to participate as full and equal members of society.  It also made people who had gay sex vulnerable to blackmail and less able to seek police protection when threatened…If you are a trans person…many obstacles still face you in Canada.  But if you are gay or lesbian…it’s a good place to be…[because] of political and legal struggles over past decades.  The beneficiaries of these reforms have a responsibility to fight a law that flies in the face of our experience…the commitment to sexual justice that underlay our earlier struggles entails fully decriminalizing adult sex work.

Bait and Switch

You can bet that “minor child” in this context actually means “young woman above the age of consent but below 18″:

…Timothy S. Griesemer was found guilty of attempted sex trafficking of a minor and…faces up to life in prison…he sent a text message to a female acquaintance indicating he was looking for a minor child.  The woman contacted…police who…[called] the U.S. Secret Service…

Another Fine Mess

More about the long pre-internet history of sex work advertising:

…There is no question that online advertising has transformed the sex industry, but in fact, ads for sexual services are far from endangeredWhile most sex workers are online…many also use free dailies and weeklies to reach markets that aren’t as amenable to the Internet…online ad sites [are also more] vulnerable to government shutdowns…and…clients who are wary of online transactions are liable to see escorts with print ads as less likely to cheat or scam them…

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You would think they’d want an actual sex worker…but somehow that’s not important because we’re seen as victims; voiceless and having no agency.  –  Jules Kim

License to Rape

Cops raping sex workers is so ubiquitous, non-cop rapists often pose as cops to facilitate the crime:

…Desiree Patton said that her assailant, Guy Dietz, found her through online advertisements placed by the exotic dancing agency she works for…when she arrived at Dietz’s…California home, he informed her that he was a police officer, placed her under “arrest,” and handcuffed her hands behind her back…Patton claimed that Dietz said…he [could] arrest her and trump up charges…

Check Your Premises

Nick Olivas became a father at 14, a fact he wouldn’t learn for eight years.  While in high school, Olivas had sex with a 20-year-old woman…State law says a child younger than 15 cannot consent with an adult under any circumstance, making Olivas a rape victim…Then two years ago, the state served him with papers demanding child support.  That’s how he found out he had a then-6-year-old daughter…he now owes about $15,000 in back child support and medical bills going back to the child’s birth, plus 10 percent interest.  The state seized money from his bank account and is now garnisheeing his wages at $380 a month…

Follow Your Bliss

…Florida youth pastor [Lucas Dillon Brandenburg] was arrested…after investigators said that they found a computer at his home “sharing” images of child pornography…

Legal Is as Legal Does

Yet another example of why legalization is almost as bad as full criminalization:

Taiwanese authorities said…they busted a prostitution ring exploiting young Chinese women…Prostitution [was criminalized in 2001 due to American pressure] but the parliament in 2011 passed a controversial bill to allow red-light districts…no such district has been set up yet…

Above the Law 

The report calls it a “romantic encounter” but I suspect otherwise:

…an Atlanta police officer killed a woman that he met online, then set her body on fire to cover his tracks.  Tahreem Zeus Rana was arrested…[while] trying to board a flight to Mexico…Vernicia Woodward…was linked to Rana through her phone records...The two appear to have met on Backpage.com…

And in The Nation, others appear to finally be noticing what I’ve been screaming about for twenty years:

…sexual assault is a significant issue in police forces, as The American Prospect and Truthout have reported.  According to the Cato Institute, more than 9 percent of reports of police misconduct in 2010 involved sexual abuse, making it the second-most reported form…Comparing that data to FBI crime statistics indicates that “sexual assault rates are significantly higher for police when compared to the general population”…Jen Marsh of the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network…said…“[cops are] targeting victims seen as vulnerable or ‘less credible,’ whether they’re engaged in sex work or are committing a crime”…

The Widening Gyre

Instead of commenting on this ridiculous nonsense:

Denver has evolved into a breeding ground…for sex-traffickers who lure young runaways, often in exchange for drugs…Tom Ravenelle with the FBI said he’s seeing more print and online advertisements — chock-full of keywords like “4-20 friendly” — that attract young girls.  “We’re dealing with people who are pimping these girls who are sometimes gang-related.  These are people with low morals”…

I’m going to let somebody else do it this time.

An Enormous Big Nothing (TW3 #33) Gates daughters on ferry

Another predictable result of “sex trafficking” hysteria:

After my family arrives on the Cape May ferry for our annual vacation to the Jersey Shore, I take pictures of our two daughters…as we leave the harbor.  I’ve been doing this since they were 3 and 4 years old.  They are now 16 and 17…Getting just the right exposure and interaction between the two has never been easy…But this year…a man came up beside me and said to my daughters:  “I would be remiss if I didn’t ask if you were okay.”  At first none of us understood what he was talking about…then it hit me:  He thought I might be exploiting the girls…I told the man I was their father.  He quickly apologized and turned away.  But…the more I thought about [it]…the more upset I became.  My wife and I, both white, adopted our two daughters in China when they were infants…we have often gotten strange looks and intrusive questions from strangers, but nothing like this…I walked outside to where he was standing and calmly said:  “Excuse me, sir, but you just embarrassed me in front of my children and strangers.  And what you said was racist”…He replied:  “I work for the Department of Homeland Security.  And let me give you some advice:  You were standing there taking photos of them hugging for 15 minutes”…

The Public Eye

Sydney Journalist and mother-of-two Amanda Goff has revealed her secret double life as…Samantha X…who started working as a sex worker two-and-a-half years ago…[in] a tell-all book about her experience.  After working in British tabloids including The Mirror and Sunday People, Miss Goff came to Australia and worked as the health and beauty editor for Prevention Magazine and at New Idea…[then]  became a TV spokesperson for health and beauty…she believes she can help save marriages…”I hear a lot about marriage from the man’s point of view.  They say they are not listened to, they aren’t heard.  I give them intimacy, it’s not necessarily about sex”…

Down Under (TW3 #49)

Sex workers in Papua New Guinea (PNG) are hopeful that…the…Health Minister…Michael Malaba…will keep his public commitment to introduce legislation that decriminalises sex work and same sex relationships…Malaba stated that he recognised that the decriminalisation of sex work was a key reform essential to tackling HIV/AIDS and that he was committed to reforming PNG’s “colonial era laws”…

Absolute Corruption

[On September 2nd] Bernard Baran died suddenly at his home while talking with his partner, David, and his niece, Crystal”  The autopsy results are not yet in, but a heart attack or stroke (resulting at least in part from more than two decades of gross maltreatment by the state) seems likely.  Perhaps now the utterly loathsome Martha Coakley will consent to allowing his record to be expunged.

Original Sin (TW3 #321)

Video games and “sexting” cause “sex trafficking”!

Real Battle Ministries is partnering to attack the rampant sex trafficking in our local communities!  Drug cartels and gangs have nearly controlled the prostitution market, planting “bottom ho’s” in our local schools, and utilizing social media & online games to “befriend” our kids for the sole purpose of entrapping them into slavery!…Porn addicted adults produces “Johns”…exposure to porn during childhood produces promiscuous children and kids who post sexually suggestive photos on social media.  Pimps and…enslaved kids…target our kids, befriend them on social media and play online games with them, eventually luring them away for abduction into sex slavery…one pimp with 5 girls generate nearly $1 million in revenue annually.  No wonder organized crime has focused on abducting one million kids yearly!!!!

These are the most insanely-exaggerated claims I’ve seen yet.  Fight “sex trafficking” with exclamation points!!!!!!!!!!City of Lies

A War for Peace (TW3 #323)

City of Lies features eight tales…all names have been changed, as have certain details…Each focuses on an individual, but [author Ramita] Navai uses these personal stories to observe how people live, love and survive in a society ruled by fundamentalists.  Iranian youth read “Harry Potter,” watch Hollywood films…smoke joints and listen to Metallica and Radiohead — all the while knowing that one misstep can ruin their reputations and lives…For women, sex outside marriage could mean “up to 100 lashes.”  If convicted of adultery, a woman could be executed…

Imaginary Evils

Remember, huge police operations have never found more than a single-digit number of “sex trafficking” cases in the UK:

…Greater Manchester’s police chief [imagines that]…predators have changed their tactics and are now targeting Eastern European teens and trafficking them into the region for sex…some 180 men are currently under suspicion of child sexual exploitation…of 17 and 18-year-old girls – notably above the age of consent…

Yes, they’re claiming the “child sex trafficking” of girls over the AOC.

Everything Old is New Again

Just in case you were unsure about “sex trafficking” mythology’s origin in racism and xenophobia, take a look at the kind of sites that gleefully quote the propaganda to promote their own agendas.

What Next? 

Clueless, ignorant old American continues to demand that other countries increase violence against sex workers in the name of “rescuing” them:  “Former US president Jimmy Carter has written to the Taoiseach Enda Kenny and other members of the Oireachtas urging them to adopt a recommendation to criminalise the buyers of sex

Property of the State

Delusional authoritarian thugs presume that women have absolute control over our bodies:

…police reportedly “swarmed” a Texas high school because…a school custodian notified the principal…after finding a “possible fetus” in one of the bathroom stalls…The principal contacted police…Dallas Police Department’s Child Abuse Unit detectives were investigating to find out who may have abandoned the fetus.  The person involved was being considered a “suspect”…Alan Elliott of Baby Moses Dallas explained…that the mother could have avoided any criminal charges if she had taken advantage of Baby Moses laws by carrying the child to term, and then dropping it off at a safe baby site like a fire station…

“Abandoned”.  Seriously.  By that standard, some 10% of the women reading this are “criminals”.cops harass Java Juggs

Prudesville

The headline The Blaze put on this is infuriating; moronic cop masturbatory fantasies are cast as “knowledge”:

The owner of controversial bikini coffee stands in Washington state banked more than $2 million in just three years because her baristas were also selling sex acts, [cops imagined]…Carmela Panico…was charged with promoting prostitution and money laundering by Snohomish County prosecutors, who allege she was the madam of drive-thru brothels…[where] baristas would expose their breasts and genitals and charge for sex acts…In a raid last year, investigators [stole] $250,000 [from] Panico’s home.  Her profit margin at times was twice that of well-run, established coffee stands…One barista [was bribed via a plea deal to tell] investigators she earned half a million dollars working at Panico’s stands…

Traffic Jam (TW3 #432)

This scare story starts with the arse-backward claim that “sex trafficking” causes youth homelessness and then goes all over the map:

…those who study the issue believe any steps to address sex trafficking in Utah also will help solve the problem of youth homelessness…Tammie Garcia Atkin…of the…Office of Victim Services…said girls often are introduced into prostitution by men who they believe are their boyfriends…“It’s all sweetness and likes [sic] and then it turns into this violent relationship”…[fireman] Fernando Rivero…said…he was able to recognize a sex trafficking business once when he visited an area doing a building inspection…Rivero is hoping to eventually steer Utah’s thinking more toward a victim mentality as seen in other states…Kevin Donegan…at Janus Youth Programs in Portland…sends out a strict warning to parents who think their children are hanging out at the mall, because they could be…recruited into sex trafficking…Peter Thorpe…of the Oak Ridge shelter in Vancouver [Washington], said…the average age for a girl to enter prostitution…“just keeps going down and down…it is a renewable resource…you can sell a girl over and over again”…

The Widening Gyre (TW3 #433)

Three Sydney sex workers have staged a protest at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas over the representation of their profession in a panel discussion on the global sex industry called “Women For Sale”…they handed out pamphlets to festival goers and posed with a…sign that read:  “I am a sex worker.  I am not for sale”…Jules Kim…the acting chief executive of…Scarlet Alliance, applied to festival organisers…to be included on the panel…but had her request denied.  However…the…journalist Elizabeth Pisani invited Kim to replace her on stage and she was allowed to take part…

Uncommon Sense (TW3 #433)

There’s a word for people who try to control and profit from whores but disregard their welfare:

…It has…come to light that local Conservative politicians and elected representatives from the Christian Social Union (CSU) are…involved in…construction [of an FKK-Club in East Dachau]:  developer…Wolfgang Moll; electrician…Helmut Erhorn; and architect…Heidi Lewald…it remains unclear why the…politicians didn’t make their stakes in the project known earlier…

 

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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on August 3rd; I have modified it slightly to fit the format of this blog.

The Irish politician John Philpot Curran once said, “The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance.”  Later orators repeated the aphorism and rephrased it into its current, less cumbersome form, but the main point is still the same:  that governments and other would-be rulers are driven by the pathological need to control others, so those who value their freedom can literally never take that freedom for granted.  Every politician, every prohibitionist, every social engineer and every naked ape with a title, uniform or badge is bound and determined to bring as many other people under his control as possible, and because this drive springs from his warped psyche you can be sure he will never relent as long as he remains above ground.  It is therefore necessary for every free person to pay close attention to those who imagine themselves “leaders” or do-gooders, because every law or policy such people propose is intended to curtail others’ freedom in some way which they always insist is vitally necessary, yet virtually never is.  Even after some oppressed group wins its rights after a long struggle, it can never again relax; as surely as night follows day there will come those who want to reverse that situation, either openly or subtly, usually under the guise of “helping” the group’s members or managing some sort of “problem” they supposedly cause the rest of society.

This is why I say that sex worker rights activism is not for the faint of heart.  Imagine dedicating your energy, your industry, your time and your reputation to a war you absolutely will not win.  Read that again, and understand that I mean it exactly as it’s written:  the sex worker activists alive today will never see a final victory, not if they live to be a hundred.  I’m not saying conditions can’t or won’t improve, nor am I saying that partial victories can’t be won in some places, nor that in the course of centuries people won’t look back upon sex work prohibition as an ugly form of collective mental illness.  What I’m saying is that until and unless we completely discard the barbaric concept of consensual crime, every single hard-won right could be taken away practically overnight by some coalition of politicians and other self-interested petty dictators.  Did you know that as the result of the 1980 political deal which settled the lawsuit Coyote vs. Roberts, prostitution was decriminalized in the state of Rhode Island, and remained so for almost 30 years?  Yet it is not so today, because in 2009 an unholy alliance of cops and prohibitionists successfully convinced the legislature (which had resisted several recriminalization attempts) to once again turn sex workers and clients into police prey by using the excuse of “sex trafficking”.  In New South Wales, which a 2012 study praised as having the “healthiest sex industry ever documented”, prohibitionists are scheming at this very minute to once again subject sex workers to the horrors of criminalization:

In 2010, Vicki Dunne  prompted the [Canberra] government to hold an inquiry into sex work laws…[which] came to a predictable and reasonable conclusion that…decriminalisation…is effective…Three years later Dunne – this time with Gulia Jones on side – now pretends that the inquiry never happened.  The two of them headed overseas with Peter Abetz and Christine Campbell (Victoria).  These politicians took in sights of dubious usefulness in Sweden, and Korea, met with NOT A SINGLE sex worker group, and even threw in a trip to France for good measure…it’s a long way to fly to witness pieces of paper that one could download on the internet…sex work is work.  Sex work is not a social ill that needs fixing.  Sex work is not a political hobby horse for bored politicians.  And sex workers are not Dunne or Jones’ rescue project.  Sex workers don’t need interference in our lives from those who view us as victims…

Other politicians appear to understand the havoc recriminalization would wreak, but still can’t resist playing god with other people’s lives:

…Currently in NSW the sex work debate is centred around whether…licensing brothels is worth pursuing…Since it has already failed…in Victoria and Queensland you would think such a silly idea wouldn’t get very far.  However the political lure of licensing as a ”solution” to supposed ”crimes” within the NSW sex industry has gained much more traction than it deserves.  Licensing brothels does not replace the current regulatory work councils are required to do.  Instead it adds an extra layer of bureaucracy…A licensing system sets up a series of hoops for brothel owners, staff and workers to jump through prior to being deemed ”legal”…Because licensing is difficult to comply with, the industry is divided into two:  those who can meet the licensing standards become ‘’legal’’, and those who cannot are deemed ‘‘illegal’’…The idea that newer, harsher laws will somehow make regulation of sex work easier is flawed.  And it has proven to be incorrect in the other states where it has been implemented…

Elena JeffreysBoth of those essays were written by Elena Jeffreys, who (as a sex worker and activist in a country with different regulatory regimes in different states) is well-qualified to judge which work and which don’t.  Most people are not so placed, and are thus easily led astray by imported “sex trafficking” myths and the cynical lies of anti-sex “feminists” attempting to corrupt the agendas of human rights organizations.  Health officials, social scientists and all others who have studied sex work agree that the tyrannical Swedish model harms sex workers and society at large, while the New Zealand model of decriminalization helps sex workers and eliminates the coercion prohibitionists pretend to be so very concerned about.  Yet even in New Zealand, held up as an example for the entire world, prohibitionists are working to destroy everything; one group wants imposition of the Swedish model, while another “merely” wants restrictions on where and how whores can work (including a suggestion that they be confined to brothels). Fortunately, activists in both New Zealand and Australia understand the need for vigilance and are fighting hard to abort these schemes before they can go very far; I hope they succeed, and that when our turn comes at last American activists can maintain the same level of watchfulness.

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There’s a collective American fixation on the creepy image of a sex offender salivating just beyond the playground fence, but that’s just not how things usually work.  –  Jesse Singal

Decentralization

For the first time…a country will officially adopt bitcoin as its currency: Dominica…[made] an agreement…[with] Coinapult, Aspen Assurance, Bitcoin Beauties, and the College Cryptocurrency Network (CCN)…[to] send a small of amount of bitcoin to every island resident via text message…[turning] Dominica…into the most densely concentrated bitcoin community in the world…The launch date…March 15, 2015, at 9:26 a.m., coincides with Pi Day, a global celebration of the mathematical constant…

Above the Law Erasmo Mata

A grand jury indicted a former [Texas cop]…after he…sexually assaulted an underage girl multiple times…Erasmo Mata Jr., 25, is accused of [raping] a 17-year-old girl during work hours [in] five separate incidents…other [cops] watched Mata commit the sexual assaults and…Pharr Police Chief Ruben Villescas met with the victim’s family…and told them not to hire an attorney…

Legal Is as Legal Does (TW3 #34)

As I’ve stated many times, any artificial bottleneck in the legality of sex work (such as licensing, venue restrictions or immigration controls) inevitably creates problems in the restricted sector:

Police are investigating five illegal brothels across the Geelong [Victoria] region…[with] a new specialist investigation unit dedicated to prosecuting unregistered sex operators.  Sergeant Aaron Riches said…“We’re not the moral police but…you’ve been committing a crime by soliciting an illegal sex worker”…Registered brothel Lorraine Starr boss David…welcomed the police crackdown on illegals…“We’ve seen illegal ones open up next to the homes of mums and dads and last year even a school”…

No one is safe from the horror of sex rays!

Under Every Bed 

I’m sure every reader has seen 12-year-old strippers and websites where they can “purchase” girls:

…[a “sex trafficking” fetishist publicly fantasized about]…how young at-risk girls fall prey to older “pimps”…victims are typically girls 12 to 14 years of age who encounter older men on the Internet…and are…forced to work as prostitutes, strippers or massage parlor workers in large cities like Atlanta…while there has not yet been a confirmed human trafficking raid in Albany, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation strongly suspects the activity exists…“There are online sites where ‘customers’ can go to ask for a 12-year-old blond, for example and then purchase that girl. Unfortunately, those sites aren’t being shut down”…potential [victims are] more likely to have unsupervised access to a smart phone or…computer…and may walk alone to school or to the local mall…communities can help guard against the threat of human trafficking by…summer lunch programs…and homeless shelters…

An Example to the West (TW3 #316)

Over a dozen Sex Workers…are getting set to travel to Guyana in October where a meeting of Sex Workers from across the Caribbean will take place…Among the countries from which Sex Workers are expected are: Trinidad and Tobago (2), Jamaica (4), Suriname (2), Grenada (3), Antigua (2), and Dominican Republic (3).  Some ten Sex Workers from Guyana are also expected to participate…

Japanese Prostitution (TW3 #327) enjo kosai

New to Japan, maybe, but not to the Americans they’re emulating:

Police in Japan have adopted a new tactic in the apparently unending struggle against the under-age sex industry, introducing sting operations against minors offering sexual services…In the first six months of this year, officers using these tactics took into custody 220 girls under the age of 18.  Instead of arresting first-time offenders, however, the police are providing “cyber correctional guidance”, which warns them of the crimes they are committing and the potential dangers.  After a dose of moral re-education, the girls are then taken home and their parents informed…The phenomenon of enjo kosai – which literally means compensated dating…first emerged in Japan in the 1990s.  Concerned at the number of men eager to pay for the company of a teenage girl, as well as the appetite of minors for brand-name goods and…the funds to buy them, Japanese authorities passed strict new laws…

Enjo kosai didn’t start in the ’90s, though the term dates to that time; anyone who thinks young girls trading sex for cash is something new is an historical illiterate.  As is anyone who isn’t disgusted by the phrase “moral re-education”.

Check Your Premises (TW3 #327)

The University of Missouri has banned obtaining clear consent:

…MU Title IX Coordinator Linda Bennett provided…students…an all-university memo a few weeks ago.  Elaborating on an already-overbroad sexual harassment policy, Bennett’s memo seems to prohibit asking for consent for sexual activities.  “Examples of behavior that will not be tolerated,” the letter says, include “Requesting another person to engage in a behavior with a sexual body part or enacting a sexual behavior.”  (Emphasis added.)  How is a student supposed to engage in any sexual activity, except by first requesting that the other person engage in it?  Maybe MU doesn’t think consent is sexy, after all…

Be Careful Who You Rape

Maybe if the doctor’s victims had been “good” women, they’d have been investigated in a timely fashion:

A highly paid neurosurgeon who indulged his cocaine addiction…and was directly linked to the death of two prostitutes avoided detection and continued to practise…Dr Suresh Nair worked at the Nepean Private Hospital in Sydney’s western suburbs…He would eventually be charged in connection with the deaths of two sex workers from cocaine toxicity and have his medical licence revoked…many of his patients were horrified to learn…[that] Dr Nair had botched their operations and left them with life-long ailments…Victoria McIntyre…died of a cocaine overdose after a booking at Dr Nair’s apartment…the NSW Medical Board…was not informed…another young escort, Suellen Domingues-Zaupa…[later] suffered a cardiac arrest, but Dr Nair left her for dead as he went elsewhere to continue partying with other escorts.  Many questions have been raised about how the doctor was allowed to continue practising…

Uncommon Sense (TW3 #335)

Once again: No, this was NOT the first tippelzone in Europe:

…Zürich…opened Europe’s first municipal drive-in brothel in an old industrial area…Sex workers who agreed to relocate from their traditional…haunts were allowed to ply their trade…with a minimum of fuss…they had to obtain permits and pay tax…”The first year of the service has been positive,” Zurich social services said…authorities admit that not everyone is happy.  Some sex workers complain that their earnings have fallen and that they are too far from city-centre bars and nightclubs…

Peeping Toms (TW3 #351) Brown Family of Sister Wives

Last December, U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups struck down a central part of the Utah law banning polygamy. [Wednesday]  he issued the rest of his ruling…Waddoups found the Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman violated the Browns’ constitutional rights when he oversaw a 2010 investigation into whether [they were] committing bigamy…Buhman eventually decided not to file criminal charges, but Waddoups said the investigation stifled the Browns’ rights to free speech, religion and equal protection.  Waddoups ordered Utah to pay the Browns’ attorney fees…Utah’s attorney general says he plans to appeal the case…

Flush Criminalization (TW3 #352)

A…doctor who was among the 104 men swept up in the “Flush the Johns” sting last year has been acquitted of patronizing a prostitute, and his attorney is considering suing Nassau County.  Richard Obedian…was the fifth defendant…to take his case to a bench trial.  Four of those trials have resulted in acquittals.  The doctor was the only defendant to continue to trial since District Attorney Kathleen Rice…began allowing the men to plead guilty to…disorderly conduct…At least one other man arrested in the sting has filed a notice of claim…against the county for false arrest and false imprisonment.  Asked for comment…Rice’s office [vomited out disgusting “end demand” propaganda]…

Cops and Robbers 

While “sex offender” hysteria appears to have peaked in the US, it’s still ramping up in Canada:

…sex offender Keith Constantin was released from prison in July after five years, but in…a few weeks he was run out of town twice…Constantin, convicted of sexually assaulting a seven-year-old boy and a 45-year-old blind woman, faced a concerted backlash orchestrated by 200 angry mothers; his face and crimes plastered on posters on every pole in town.  In the end…he [was accused of breaking] his curfew and [re-arrested]…growing numbers of grassroots activists…use…posters, taking pictures, pestering to the point of harassment, anything to send the message that sex offenders are not wanted…Organizations like this say they are not vigilantes, but their messaging is questionable.  In a promotional video, [one group] uses graphic images with slogans like: “Hurt my kid and I’ll bury you where they’ll never find the body”…

Cuckoo Advertising (TW3 #420)

These “findings” absurdly presume that a woman planning to cheat on her spouse will be totally honest with everyone else:

…According to a new study, women who cheat on their husbands are looking for passion and sex, but they have no desire to end their marriages.  Using data from AshleyMadison.com…Eric Anderson…the [business’s] chief science officer…[eavesdropped on] 100 women between the ages of 35 and 45 on the site.  After [unethically] reading their conversations with potential lovers, Anderson found that 67 percent of these married ladies were specifically looking for more “romantic passion,” aka sex.  None wanted to actually leave their husbands and most even painted their clueless spouses in a positive light…this sample isn’t quite representative — the findings are only generalizable to the women using AshleyMadison…

Nice While It Lasted

Britain’s most senior police chief has called for wide-ranging new powers to tackle…terrorism, including a “rebuttable presumption” that anyone who visits Syria without prior notice should be treated as a terror suspect.  Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe…also called for a return of control orders and…[backed] Boris Johnson’s proposal for the presumption of innocence to be overturned for Britons who travel to warzones…”If we can get an assumption that when people come back and have been to Syria they’ve been involved in terrorism.  If they can prove they haven’t then that’s up to them.  It’s pretty hard for us sometimes to prove what they were doing in Syria…”

Above the Law (TW3 #434) Eric Roberts

OHP Trooper Eric Roberts also sexually assaulted [a second woman who has come forward]…Roberts pulled over her car on July 8…and made inappropriate sexual comments to her.  She texted a friend with the Trooper’s tag number because she was afraid she might die when he instructed her to follow him…he drove her to a secluded location and sexually assaulted her.  The woman…didn’t report it initially because she…thought no one would believe her…

Banishment (TW3 #434)

Dozens of sex offenders who have satisfied their sentences in New York State are being held in prison beyond their release dates because of a new interpretation of a state law that governs where they can live”…The unfortunate thing about this situation is that laws designed to restrict where sex offenders can live are really and truly useless, except as a means of politicians scoring easy political points by ratcheting up hysteria.  There are many tricky social-scientific issues on which there are a range of opinions…among experts, but this isn’t one of them.  Among those whose job it is to figure out how to reduce the rate at which sex offenders commit crimes (as opposed to those whose job it is to get reelected, in part by hammering away at phantom threats), there is zero controversy:  These laws don’t work, and may actually increase sexual offenders’ recidivism rates…

Bait and Switch

If you believe this, you didn’t read Monday’s column:

A three month investigation ends with more than two dozen arrests for prostitution offenses in Rochester [Minnesota].  The police…posted ads to…backpage.com…Of the 29 arrested, close to half wanted someone underage.  Experts say this sting highlights a problem bigger than prostitution…

Another Fine Mess

It’s really gratifying to see an amateur who recognizes that ordinary business practices don’t magically become newsworthy because hookers use them:

It seems that every few years, some intrepid reporter…[makes] the game-changing discovery that a lot of people use the Internet to conduct their business.  Though this sounds like an absolute non-story, when the people in question are sex workers…editors are bound to green-light…stories that all essentially reveal…that sex workers advertise and network online…Some of the stories appear to just be comically out-of-touch…and…many such non-stories perpetuate the myth that sex workers are coming for civilians where they least suspect it!  They browse among us…better hide the husbands!…

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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on July 13th; I have modified it slightly to fit the format of this blog.

massage parlor raidAfter generations of ignoring the violence against sex workers which is directly or indirectly caused by either full (as in the US) or partial (as in the UK) criminalization, the public is slowly beginning to wake up to the reality: most of it is perpetrated by the police.  Prohibitionists and “authorities” want everyone to believe the opposite, that clients and “pimps” inflict the most violence, and that the police are welcome “rescuers” from it.  Nothing could be farther from the truth; in every study of violence against sex workers ever done (such as this one from India), police are the largest victimizers and clients and pimps the least, with domestic partners and people empowered or emboldened by the marginalization of sex workers in the middle.  And despite the best efforts of those who need the public to support ever more criminalization in order to punish men for being men or to enlarge the police state, the truth is beginning to leak out, and we see new stories of police violence against sex workers almost every month.  Some of this is due to the efforts of sex workers ourselves; some is due to the diligent efforts of allies and ethical journalists; some is due to the stupidity and hubris of the police; and some is simply the natural result of omnipresent surveillance, the internet and a 24-hour news cycle always hungry for lurid stories.

In just the past few months, there have been a number of incidents that provoked public outcry on sex workers’ behalf against the heavy-handed behavior of governments and the violence of police.  In December, sex workers in Soho were subjected to a pogrom in which they were manhandled, robbed and dragged out into the street in freezing weather in their underwear; the public learned about it first from news photographers the police had themselves invited along.  In March, the world was scandalized to hear that cops in Hawaii wanted the explicit legal right to rape sex workers before arresting them.  In April, the general public finally began to notice Phoenix, Arizona’s Project ROSE, in which women profiled as sex workers are arrested in mass sweeps, denied legal representation and forced into religious brainwashing programs under threat of incarceration in Arizona’s brutal prison system; later that month, the world heard of the US government’s threats against financial institutions to get them to “voluntarily” cut off services to sex workers and other target groups.  In May non-sex workers were shocked to see the surveillance video of a Chicago massage parlor raid in which a handcuffed, kneeling woman was beaten and subjected to racist insults and death threats; only a week later, Newsweek published an article exposing the lies and fabrications of Somaly Mam, who pays Cambodian police to abduct sex workers and lock them in filthy, crowded cells at her “rescue centers”, where they are beaten, robbed, gang-raped and starved while their “savior” hobnobs with celebrities and receives accolades from anti-whore fanatics.

These stories all have two things in common.  The first is that, while they are shocking to the general public, sex workers and those who work closely with us have known about them (or in the case of single-instance atrocities, many others like them) for years or decades; it’s simply that until recently, nobody wanted to listen.  The second is that those who shocked by them generally believe them to be isolated incidents rather than recognizing them as business as usual, merely visible outcroppings of the police violence that underlies the entire landscape of criminalization.  While I was glad to see people upsetcop rapes sex worker about Somaly Mam’s torture porn and abusive practices, they need to understand that these are endemic to the rescue industry everywhere.  Though I was grateful at the outcry over Project ROSE, I am frustrated at the media’s cover-up of similar rights-violating programs which are merely less obvious because they lack that special Arizona lunacy.  Though I was relieved at the disgust people expressed toward the racist Chicago thugs, I am sad that most of them seem to think this was unusual, when in fact it is wholly typical behavior during any massage parlor raid.  And despite the apparent public belief that the situation in Hawaii was unique,

…This is standard operating procedure everywhere in the United States, and the only thing unusual about Hawaii is that it’s spelled out in law.  Just in case you’re a new reader or have a short memory, here are three examples from just last year:  Indiana,  Florida and Pennsylvania are all especially shameless in their defense of government-authorized rape, excusing it by claiming that sex workers are “sophisticated” (while simultaneously being pathetic, infantile victims)…

The sad fact is that none of these scandals is unusual in any way, except for the fact that they came to the attention of the public.  And they will continue to be business as usual until that public stops pretending otherwise and demands the abolition of prohibition.

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To seek in the bright sky a place for freedom and unrestraint.  –  Liu Rushi, “On the Kite”

The gender roles of traditional Asian cultures were even more rigid and uncompromising than those of contemporary European cultures, but harlots have always stood outside of the limits their societies set for “good” women.  Where “good” women were expected to be chaste, whores were promiscuous; where “good” women were expected to be meek, whores were bold; where “good” women were expected to be ignorant, whores were well-educated; where “good” women were supposed to be submissive, whores accepted or rejected clients as we pleased; and where “good” women were prisoners of convention, whores flouted it.  And despite the feminist claims that men prefer women as ovine as possible, and that the patriarchal system is set up for men’s benefit at women’s expense, yet men have throughout history sought out the company of (and paid high prices for) women who were not only their equals, but often their superiors.  Like other courtesans, Liu Rushi ignored the rules her society set for “good” women, but unlike others she often ignored the rules it set for any women.

Liu RushiYang Ai was born in 1618 to a poor family of Zhejiang province, but her exceptional looks and intelligence allowed her family to sell her at the age of eight to the courtesan Xu Fo for training in the profession.  She learned so well that Xu was able to place her as a concubine to the prime minister, Zhou Daodeng, soon after she turned thirteen; however, Zhou died a year later and his widow threw her out of the household.  She sought out the famous poet Chen Zilong, whom she had met at Zhou’s house a few months before; he took her in as a concubine and the two fell in love and exchanged many poems.  Unfortunately, Madame Chen was just as jealous of her as Madame Zhou had been; when Chen went to take the Imperial Examination in 1635, she abused the poor girl so terribly that she fled back to Xu Fo, who now owned a brothel.  When Xu married in 1638, Yang Yin (as she now called herself) took over the management; she was already famous as a poet and painter by this time, and published three collections of poetry between 1638 and 1640.  But though she was doing well financially, she craved the stability of marriage; when a regular client named Song Yuanwen kept promising to marry her but never followed through, she is said to have thrown him out in a violent tantrum.

It was during her time as a madam that her androgyny began to assert itself; though her romantic poems were conventionally feminine, she also wrote in a masculine, “heroic” style and often left the narrator’s gender ambiguous.  In letters she favored gender-neutral terms for herself, and her calligraphy is distinctly masculine, using the “wild grass” style.  Her gender-bending behavior reached its zenith in 1640, when she decided to marry the famous scholar and poet Qian Qianyi.  She travelled to his home in her boat, dressed in men’s clothing, and asked Qian to give her his opinion on one of her poems.  He told her the poem was excellent and asked to see more, but before she left she made sure she let him see the small (bound) feet which left no doubt as to her sex even if he had been fooled at first.  The combination of her writing and her intriguing behavior captured his attention, and they were married in 1641.  Though she was only his concubine, they had a formal ceremony and he treated her as though she were a full wife, despite this being considered improper.  He gave her the nickname Hedong, which she often used in her writing thereafter; it was one of about twenty different names she used at different times and for different purposes.  The name by which she is best known, Liu Rushi, came from her continuing habit of cross-dressing; she would sometimes go on errands as her husband’s representative while dressed in his formal Confucian robes, for which people nicknamed her “rushi” (“gentleman”).

Rushi had finally found the stability she sought, but it was not to last long.  The Ming Dynasty her husband served collapsed in 1645, and she had become so deeply patriotic by that time she actually tried to persuade him to martyr himself by committing suicide; instead, he surrendered, served as an official to the new Qing regime for five months, then quit and joined the resistance.  Liu Rushi joined him and the two were active in the movement for over a decade thereafter; much of Qian’s poetry from the 1650s depicts her as a courageous Ming loyalist.  But in 1663, her life started to spin out of control.  First, the Qing finally crushed the last Ming resistance, burning her husband’s enormous library in the process; she was so aggrieved she took Buddhist vows.  Qian’s spirit was broken, and he died the following year; his creditors and enemies then began to hound Liu Rushi for money.  Alone again for the first time in decades, too old (at 46) to return to her former profession and deeply bereaved by the loss of both beloved husband and beloved cause, she was pushed over the edge by the legal persecution and hanged herself in 1664.  But though her life ended in despair and tragedy, her own poetry and that of her husband had already made her a legend; the historian Chen Yinke’s said she “embodies the independence of spirit and freedom of thought of our people”, and others have called her “the most respectable prostitute in Chinese history”.

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