The supposition that all women…engaged in sex work…are the victims of trafficking and under the control of criminal gangmasters is, at best, delusional. - Paul Maginn and Graham Ellison
Between the Ears
Dr. Marty Klein explains that it isn’t only women who are ill-served by the medicalization of sexual dysfunction:
As a sex therapist, I see men…who…describe themselves as having…erectile dysfunction. I say, “So, you don’t get erect when you want to. Let’s call it that.” Conceptualizing their situation as ED is frequently part of the problem. They think their penis is suffering some pathology; more often, the pathology is in their expectations…I ask these men lots…of questions…and…we [often] discover that their uncooperative penis is actually behaving in an understandable, fairly reasonable way…Sometimes Viagra is part of the problem—it reinforces the idea that there’s something wrong with their penis…but if there isn’t…Viagra can’t fix it…
What the Hell Were You Thinking?
Judgy Bitch asks why it’s OK to advise people on how to protect themselves from robbery or worse while travelling (“Pay attention to how you are dressed, Don’t be drunk, Don’t flash your valuables, Keep an eye on who is watching you, Travel with friends, Use your body language to let predators know you are not easy prey [and] If you sense a problem, get the hell out of there”), but giving the exact same advice to young women is “victim blaming”. Because obviously it’s far more important to sacrifice naïve young women on the altar of feminist politics than to actually help them protect themselves in the real world.
Neither Cold nor Hot
It’s sometimes amusing to watch the debutantes at Jezebel getting the vapors over sex work; this article by Madeleine Davies about sex workers coming to North Dakota in order to fill the woman shortage caused by an oil boom can’t make up its mind whether the men are “Neanderthals” and “criminals”, or the helpless victims of scarlet women “filtering in from across the country to profit off the needs of the desperate male residents.”
You’d almost think gossip reporters were historical ignoramuses who didn’t know that up until a century ago, the professions of actress and whore were indistinguishable:
Desperate for money, troubled actress Lindsay Lohan is…working as a professional escort, [said] her father…and other insiders…“The dates last for days, and the guys pay for everything…as well as jewelry and other gifts”… One of Lindsay’s most high profile clients is…Prince Haji Abdul Azim [of Brunei]…and wealthy…painter Domingo Zapata reportedly supported…[her] for months…
It’s That Time Again
Super Bowl time, that is; this year it’s in New Orleans, and though the “authorities” haven’t quite learned not to humiliate themselves with ludicrous “gypsy whore” fantasies, you may have noticed there was a lot less hype about it than before:
…The NOPD…[arrested] two suspected prostitutes and their alleged pimp, while also rescuing [the] 4-year-old…son of one of the suspected prostitutes…Detectives say the group placed ads on…backpage.com, which…is expected to be buzzing with sex solicitation during the Super Bowl and Mardi Gras…[State] Trooper Melissa Matey…said…”We do know those human trafficking cells are attracted to those large scale events, where…there’s gonna be a lot of tourists and…a lot of money to be made”…
I literally laughed out loud at “human trafficking cells”; apparently hookers are equated with terrorists and revolutionaries now.
Don’t Buy It (TW3 #6)
In reference to the “gypsy whores” myth, the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women asked, “What’s the Cost of a Rumour?” In the case of the London Olympics, we can now provide an answer:
Scare-mongering over an outbreak of sex trafficking during the Olympics resulted in half a million pounds being wasted…London Assembly Member…Andrew Boff said that just four cases of trafficking were discovered last year – despite an extra £500,000 being diverted to police…“a huge amount of time, money and resources was poured into this search, which turned out to be nothing more than tilting at windmills”…
The Sky is Falling!
Seekingarrangement.com has a clever advertising department; every so often they come out with a “press release” which announces that “more coeds than ever” are signing up as sugar babies. Of course, the only thing vaguely “new” about this is they’re doing it on a website, but people like to pretend otherwise. At least these two examples are refreshingly free of moral censure.
The Immunity Syndrome
Alabama state Rep. Patricia Todd…is trying yet again to delete a particularly idiotic provision of Alabama’s sex education law…[which] requires…classes to teach…that gay sex…is a “criminal offense”…[though] that law was invalidated in 2003 by…Lawrence vs. Texas…
Another Small Victory (TW3 #18)
Many sex worker rights activists seem to have misunderstood the implications of the news that “the Supreme Court has agreed to review a First Amendment dispute over whether the United States can force private health organizations to denounce prostitution as a condition to get AIDS funding”; had the Supreme Court refused to hear the government’s appeal, the lower court’s ruling overturning the pledge would have stood. And while it’s certainly possible that the SCOTUS may leave the ruling intact or even expand it by striking down the ban for international organizations as well (which the first ruling did not), neither outcome is likely considering that this court has firmly established itself as the handmaiden and apologist for the excesses of the executive and legislative branches. One very odd aspect of the linked article is that the call for total decriminalization by WHO and other UN agencies is described as “support[ing] lesser penalties for prostitution”, which is rather like describing the eradication of smallpox as “lessening the symptoms of the disease”.
Here’s another woman who does not see herself as supporting state control of women’s lives, bodies and choices:
…I recently told my hairdresser that I was a go-go dancer and she replied by telling me that she would have totally stripped if she were my age but that she “didn’t have the body for it”…Even people at…the club where I primarily work…will put money on my platform as if it’s going to get them a lap dance or something…I’m not trying to be condescending towards strippers…but I…take pride in the fact that while strippers are ultimately hired to give guys boners, I was at least semi-hired for my talent…I don’t deny…that it takes some level of sexuality to be a successful club dancer, but there’s a big difference between wearing a push-up bra…and shoving my tits in some grandpa’s face…
For one who’s “not trying to be condescending”, she sure does a good job.
Women With A Vision has purchased a new building to replace the office destroyed by arson, but it’s going to need “massive repairs” and renovation; that’s going to be very expensive, so please consider contributing to further their work in helping poor and marginalized women, including sex workers.
First They Came For the Hookers…
News on two of the ladies from this column who were fired for past sex work:
…Sarah Tressler…[lost] her reporting gig at the Houston Chronicle after…[being] exposed…[as the blogger] “Angry Stripper”…[but] she just landed a new job at The San Antonio Express-News as a breaking news reporter…Stacie Halas, a California…teacher who was fired for her porn star past [and recently lost her appeal] was [also]…offered a new job…[by] Dennis Hof of…[the] Moonlite Bunny Ranch…
Even if Halas is interested in going back to sex work she could do a lot better as an independent escort than by allowing herself to be exploited by Hof or others like him.
Prudish Pedants (TW3 #37)
A federal judge in California thinks it’s a wise use of public funds to lock up a 61-year-old filmmaker for four years for the “crime” of grossing out a cherry-picked group of a dozen people in Los Angeles. Future law students will marvel at the self-destructive absurdity of our era.
An Example To the West (TW3 #39)
In September, I reported that a Korean whore had submitted a constitutional challenge to her country’s prostitution law; it has now been accepted:
…Judge Oh Won-chan…filed the case with the Constitutional Court after accepting a petition from a 41-year-old prostitute on trial for violating the law…the judge’s request doesn’t question the part of the law that punishes buyers of sex. “We don’t punish a woman acting as a concubine or a wife for hire,” Oh said…[he] also questioned the effectiveness of the law, saying authorities should focus on punishing brothel owners and pimps…
Let’s hope the Korean government doesn’t respond with Swedish-style legislation, which only makes the struggle for rights more difficult.
The Course of a Disease (TW3 #42)
Criminologist Graham Ellison has written another excellent editorial against criminalization in Northern Ireland, this time with the help of Dr. Paul Maginn of the University of Western Australia:
…The…proposals…are…premised more on ideological and religious beliefs…than a concrete evidence-base…History tells us that prohibition is an ineffective policy remedy…a few simple facts…dispel the stereotypes about sex work…only an exceptionally small proportion [are street workers]…there is no evidence to suggest that sex workers’ drug dependency is greater than the general population…[they] come from all manner of social class and educational backgrounds…the majority…are there because…the pay is…better than what they could get in other occupations…If Lord Morrow is sincere about his intentions to help women involved in ‘prostitution’, he should consider decriminalisation.
Book Reviews (October 2012)
The French edition of Chester Brown’s Paying For It has been chosen by the Angoulême International Comics Festival as an official selection, which will undoubtedly give it more well-deserved attention. Congratulations, Chester!
Election Day (TW3 #45)
A judge has granted a preliminary injunction against the narrow portion of California’s tyrannical CASE Act which was challenged by the EFF and ACLU:
…Prop 35 is…beset with problems. The biggest was its requirement that registrants turn over a list of all their Internet identifiers and service providers to law enforcement…the court found that there was a clear chilling effect on speech because registrants would have to disclose their identity either before they speak, or within 24 hours after speaking somewhere online…Allowing the government to monitor and record a wide swath of innocent Internet activity…is a dangerous trend that can easily expand, as law enforcement’s inevitable thirst for information fails to be quenched…
Unfortunately, there is as yet no organized challenge against the aspects of the law which criminalize a wide variety of normal sexual behaviors and virtually any association with sex workers.
Tyranny By Consensus (TW3 #51)
A leading adult film producer has launched a lawsuit against Los Angeles County over a…measure requiring porn actors to wear condoms, saying the law infringes on first amendment rights and was driving the industry out of Southern California. Vivid Entertainment, which was joined in the lawsuit by porn stars Kayden Kross and Logan Pierce, claims the mandate was both an unconstitutional prior restraint on freedom of expression and a financial burden that studios could not bear…lead plaintiffs’ attorney Paul Cambria said…it was not economically feasible to digitally remove the condoms in post-production because the studios were competing with rivals elsewhere who had no such restrictions.
It’s interesting that the lawsuit doesn’t bring up the very real physical harm condoms can inflict on actresses under porn-filming conditions.
The Course of a Disease (TW3 #52)
Those who wish to inflict the Swedish model on England and Wales have set up a fake “consultation” on the matter which is designed to trick the unwary into providing them ammunition via leading questions and outright lies about decriminalization. The survey is referred to as a “call for evidence”, but as Laura Agustín points out this is “a misnomer as they are just asking for opinions and feelings – no evidence at all.” Go ahead and respond to the survey (it’s fairly short), but follow Aspasia’s example by phrasing your answers carefully, since most are of the “have you stopped beating your wife?” variety. The deadline is February 4th at 16:00 GMT.
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