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Posts Tagged ‘censorship’

There is little doubt…that Curtis Scherr intended to inflict severe emotional distress on his daughter-in-law and succeeded in doing so.  -  Richard Posner

Not too many good links this week; the World Cup and hearings on the new Canadian Prohibition dominated my timeline, so if there were any other good links I missed them.  Most of these items are wholly absurd; some are funny-absurd and some horrifying-absurd, but most point to a world gone mad, especially where politics is concerned.  Everything down to the first video is from Grace; the links between the videos are from Jasper Gregory (“war”), Michael Whiteacre (“LOL”),  Popehat (“bureaucracy” and “trademark”), and Mike Riggs (“horrible”); and the second video (via Brooke Magnanti) is the world’s oldest surviving song, which may help you relax after all the brain-strain produced by the other items.

From the Archives

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Theoretically, all children in the United States are at risk of being trafficked.  Theoretically, I’m at risk of drowning in a bucket or getting eaten by a cannibal.  -  Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Savaging

Enjoy this thorough denunciation of sex work “abolitionism” as “the worst abomination created by [neo]feminism” (from the French):

…these vile bastards…attempt to starve the prostitutes, to make them homeless, to…force them to change jobs…They claim that the vast majority of prostitutes are sex slaves enslaved by pimps…[feminists] are…[as] proud of the damage [they do] as the soldiers were once proud banner of the Crusades because each pillage every rape, every murder was an expression of superiority over the enemy…they pull figures out of nowhere…and prostitutes are not allowed to talk at their meetings unless they “repent”…

Parable

Another excellent parody of “sex trafficking” nonsense, this one from Marijke Vonk:

…“Marriage is happening right in our neighbourhoods” warns Angela Tite, co-founder of Concerned Maidens for America, a non-profit organisation against domestic abuse and romantic slavery…“Young women are lured in with promises of love and respect, only to find themselves entrapped in what can only be called modern-day slavery…it is estimated that over 70% of wives experience some form of violence or coercion…Nobody would choose that kind of life voluntarily” …According to the FBI, the average girl becomes involved in romantic relationships between 13 and 15, and some 500,000…are at risk of becoming victims of marriage and domestic violence every year.  “Child abuse is most commonly found inside homes” explains Mary Addington of No Child Left At Home…Over three thousand children and women  have been taken out of homes into…protective shelters, where home-raised children and wedlocked women are rehabilitated…deputy [Tom] Kreapy makes it very clear: “if it saves just one child, we must continue home-stings and neighbourhood raids”…

Saving Them From Themselves 

Cops want to create “child porn” to prosecute teen for creating “child porn” of himself.  I am not making this up:

A Manassas City [Virginia] teenager accused of “sexting” a video to his girlfriend is now facing a search warrant in which…police and…prosecutors want to take a photo of his erect penis…by taking him to a hospital and giving him an injection, the teen’s lawyers said…The teen is facing two felony charges, for possession of child pornography and manufacturing child pornography, which could lead not only to incarceration…but inclusion on the…sex offender data base for…life…

Saint Death Santa Muerte of Nueva Laredo

the “indicia” of drug-dealing has always been…bizarre…The defendant had $324 in cash in his pocket?  Proof he’s a drug dealer…If he has no cash…it’s proof he’s a major drug dealer…[who has] people who do the dirty transactions for [him]…It used to be the beeper that proved someone was a drug dealer…Then it became cellphones…The prosecution will put a cop on the stand…to explain to the ignorant…jury why that cash in the defendant’s pocket is so fundamentally different than the cash in their pockets.  (Hint: It’s because he’s a criminal)…the latest…is  [representing icons of] Santa Muerte…[as] “tools of the drug traffickers’ trade”…the…notion [of] “narco-saints” borders on incomprehensible…But give it a cool name like “narco-saint” and it suddenly turns religion into proof of guilt…

Finding What Isn’t There

At least US “authorities” don’t yet lock up people who debunk “sex trafficking”:  “Police in [The Gambia]…detained Sanna Camara, a journalist…as a result of a story…[in which police officials] admitted that [they] face challenges in combatting human trafficking…due to the unwillingness of victims or their families to aid investigations…”  In other words, those identified as “victims” refuse to play their assigned roles.

Wise Investment (TW3 #335)

The Chief Justice of the British Columbia Supreme Court, Allan McEachern, ruled on July 4, 1984, that sex workers on the Davie Street stroll were a “blatant, aggressive, and disorderly public nuisance”…and…banned [them] from their neighbourhood…[they] were forced to relocate…to what became the killing fields of…Downtown Eastside, with 65 women murdered since the mid-1980s…we seek a formal, public apology from Vancouver…[and] financial reparations…for a permanent memorial near the corner of Bute and Davie streets…

Innocence Never Had

Emi Koyama on how the “trafficking” paradigm harms young sex workers:

…please don’t refer to the youth as “children”…most are 16- and 17- year olds who resent being referred to as “children”…”Rescue” approach presumes that young people have a safe home to go back to and the only problem is the presence of the “trafficker.” That is not the reality for the vast majority…Youth often engage in sex trade in order to escape from violence and abuse at home or in the child welfare system…”Rescue” only sends them back to the unsafe situation that they are escaping from in the first place…It may be convenient for…society to pretend that…violence only comes from pimps and sex buyers, but it is not true…police, hospitals, and schools are much larger source of violence than pimps in the life of street youth…

Opting Out (TW3 #401)

The parental filters of U.K. ISPs are blocking 20 percent of the 100,000 most-visited websites…according to the Open Rights Group…”Different ISPs are blocking different sites and the result is that many people…can’t access their websites…there is a lack of information about how to get sites unblocked”…

Hall of Shame (TW3 #406) Dennis Hof

Your periodic reminder that Dennis Hof really is a revolting excuse for a human being:

The man who owns a well-known brothel in Nevada…is submitting plans to Phoenix city leaders asking permission to open a similar business…a month before the Super Bowl and then close it down a month after…”After [an] initial $500,000 up front, the city would take in additional tax dollars…I was raised in Phoenix…and prostitution was rampant then and is still a problem now…I do background checks on all my girls, they get tested frequently, I will cut down on the pimps and the clients will not go to an illegal source for sex if they have a legal source…Phoenix is one of the worst sex trafficking places in America and this will combat that”…

Drawing Lines

Another good one from Belle Knox, this time on Jezebel:

…I am often asked if there is solidarity among sex workers.  The answer, as I’ve come to slowly and painfully discover, is no.  We’re all essentially doing the same job — selling tickets to a fantasy — so you might imagine that, like retail, food service, or any other profession, we might have some form of solidarity.  But what I’ve learned about the…whorarchy…has helped shed some light on some of the lies I believe all women are buying to one degree or another…

Meanwhile Margaret Corvid, the dominatrix whose writing I criticized in the original of this title, apologized for her original wording and wrote this article to demonstrate her real feelings on the subject:

…I’ve seen the reports of people…forced to do sex work.  They are called trafficked women, and are often depicted at the point of a police raid, with flashing cameras shoved in their faces…I write today to stand with Agustin, Grant, and Maggie McNeill, who have so powerfully argued that this portrayal, and the very concept of “sex trafficking” that underpins it, is a myth…[which] deprives sex workers of agency and identity, as it…fetishises our lives and bodies…

Marching Up Their Own Arses (TW3 #414)

If your local cops claim that “prostitution is…one of the biggest problems they face,” I suggest it’s time to stop wasting money on a police department.  The most hilarious part of this article: the idea that there is such a thing as a “legal escort service” that can be “differentiated from illegal prostitution”.  Blah blah blah “not a victimless crime”, blah blah children, blah dirty whores, blah disease, blah licenses, booga booga SEX TRAFFICKING!

The Mote and the Beam (TW3 #419)

Elizabeth Brown analyzes the danger of the latest “sex trafficking” Trojan horse:

The “Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation (SAVE) Act“…would…require all sites that host adult advertising (whether paid or free)…to review ads before publication, request a valid telephone number and credit card number from each poster, “prohibit the use of euphemism and codewords”…and prohibit the use of prepaid debit cards or cryptocurrencies in placing paid ads.  For sites that run paid adult advertisements, publishers would be responsible for verifying the identity of every person who placed an adult ad by obtaining a copy of a government-issued ID containing their name, photo, and date of birth.  The publisher would have to hold on to these records for seven years and make them…available to the ["authorities" on demand]…The bill insists that information won’t be used against registrants in criminal proceedings unrelated to sex trafficking.  But knowing how fond government and law enforcement officials are of privacy and keeping promises, you can see why those advertising adult services…may be reluctant to hand over such information…

The most important real-world effect of this law would be to drive virtually 100% of adult advertising to sites hosted outside of the US.

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #422)

France avoids the Swedish rot for now:

A landmark bill in France that would see clients of prostitutes hit with fines of up to €1,500 may never see the light of day after senators voted to scrap the legislation…Senator Esther Benbassa cited the bad example…[of] Sweden where…it has failed to reduce prostitution and simply made life more dangerous for sex workers…

Whither Canada? (TW3 #423) C-36 protest

The proposed prostitution bill could make sex work even more dangerous and may be unconstitutional, more than 200 legal experts said in an open letter to the prime minister …In fact, they argue, it’s no better than the old law struck down by the Supreme Court late last year for violating sex workers’ Charter rights…

If Men Were Angels

A job centre employee has admitted demanding sex from unemployed former prostitutes in exchange for work…[and] is now facing sexual assault and bribery charges…The man had been responsible for a project since 1990 in which women who wanted to escape prostitution were found work…

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (TW3 #426)

Digging through the prohibitionist nonsense in this article yields this kernel:

…Dolly has been home…to 1,187 sex workers and 311 pimps (according to official data)…Unofficial reports found no fewer than 9,000 people, including those operating hundreds of lodges, cafés, karaoke bars, massage parlors and food stalls, were involved either directly or indirectly in the…sex industry…The possible massive exodus of former Dolly residents has caused great concern among provincial and regional governments…health campaigners, women and human rights advocates and members of community-based organizations across Indonesia, especially in Bali, which many consider a…perfect spot for sex tourism…“Within the framework of our [Bali’s] efforts to end the HIV epidemic, the closure of Dolly could become a time bomb — a social and health disaster for the island,” a doctor who conducts outreach programs for sex workers…said…

Bread and Circuses

The June 25 seizure of…MyRedBook…by the FBI has been heralded by some as another win in the war against…child sex traffickers…the FBI and CNN…fail to mention that the site also functioned as a critical exchange for sex workers looking to reduce harm and share best practices…the seizure has not only cut off a source of income for sex workers, but also a source of information and community…among crusaders committed to criminalizing sex workers and the people who purchase their services…sex workers…are either trafficked girls shackled to beds when they’re not servicing sadistic ghouls, or they are thrill-seeking degenerates blissfully unaware of their privilege…The former daydreams of a police raid that will liberate her…while the latter feverishly supports the “Pimp Lobby” from Twitter…The massive gulf of silence between these two caricatures gives space to a convenient narrative that…the overwhelming majority of sex workers require intervention by benevolent law enforcement agencies…

Lucy Steigerwald points out that there are scary implications for amateurs, too:

…The warning on My Red Book states that domain names count as property, therefore they can be taken under racketeering laws.  But that is a wide and rocky road towards censorship which needs to be challenged.  A website is speech…Shutting one down without due process is nothing more than censorship.  Just because the federal government wants to shield our eyes from prostitution doesn’t mean we should let it…

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Every civilization when it loses its inner vision and its cleaner energy, falls into a new sort of sordidness, more vast and more stupendous than the old savage sort.  An Augean stable of metallic filth.  -  D.H. Lawrence

bagasse moundsI grew up in an area of south Louisiana whose primary industry (in those days) was sugar production; one of the places we used to play was in a sugarcane field near our street, and from the late 19th century until the 1960s the majority of the area’s population worked for a large sugar refinery.  Once the sugar-bearing juice has been extracted from the cane, the remaining vegetable matter is called bagasse; it can be burned to generate power and is also used for an agricultural fertilizer.  But as you can imagine, it has a powerful odor, and the vast heaps of bagasse which are piled up in holding areas look and smell a lot like huge mountains of manure after sitting for a while in the damp Louisiana climate.

That was the image which entered my mind unbidden when I read this article  almost two months ago.  Like bagasse or manure, there is absolutely nothing new in it; it’s the end result of other processes, piled up in a 3000-word mound (and this is only part two!) and reeking to high heaven.  And like those vegetable waste products, this type of filth is also very useful as fertilizer; unfortunately, the only crop it works on is the unwholesome one called the police state.  “Sex trafficking” hysteria is prime manure for encouraging the growth of internet censorship, mass surveillance, border control, police violence, sexual repression and state control of women’s bodies, and though humanity would be better off if these noxious weeds were exterminated, all too many “journalists” are happy to nurture them instead by generating mounds of reeking rubbish like this one:

…“The technology of…phones and…computers and everything…is also a curse because we can’t track all the places our kids go,” said Kathleen Winn…[of] Phoenix’s sex trafficking task force…“we can’t control who reaches our children.”  Social media…provides an egress for pimps into the lives of their victims, and a way for them to monitor their victims, according to…Dominique Roe-Sepowitz…the Phoenix Dream Center, a task force affiliate…said…“We even try to break up Internet businesses…We are looking for ways…[to destroy] Backpage.com…they make millions of dollars a year on their adult services ads”…

One of the most psychologically fascinating things about fanatics is that they’re so completely unable to recognize their own fanaticism, they often make statements that blatantly demonstrate it.  The freakish need to “control” every interaction adolescents (the real meaning of “children” in this context) have with other people (at a time in their lives when they’re supposed to be learning how to function in adult society) is used as an excuse for schemes to “break up” internet businesses and a larger campaign to destroy the internet as we know it; this and the Luddite hysteria itself are openly avowed without any attempt to disguise them to fool non-fanatics.  I’ve noticed this about many articles (whether anti-sex, anti-migration or pro-censorship) coming out of Arizona these days; due to the process of group polarization  Arizonans seem completely unable to recognize how extreme their beliefs and rhetoric are in comparison with the rest of the country.  When delusional maniacs like Joe Arpaio or John and Cindy McCain start barking at the moon, they do not realize how deranged they sound to others because everyone in Phoenix political circles encourages and applauds their howling.  Dominique Roe-Sepowitz was completely unable to recognize what her creepy statement about “body fluids” and “normal relationships” sounded like to normal people until it started to be quoted in articles critical of Project ROSE; even then her response was not introspection, but simply refusing to give interviews to anyone other than a religious magazine.  But I digress:

Two years ago…a civil case was filed…“against Backpage.com and the pimps…alleging that these kids were trafficked on Backpage.com,” said Erik Bauer, a Tacoma-based attorney…

The article ignores the fate of previous frivolous suits like this one, and of every single law designed to destroy the internet in the name of “shutting down Backpage” for “THE CHILDREN!!!!!”  It also ignores the part where a federal judge forced Washington state to pay for Backpage’s defense on the grounds that it knew the law was unconstitutional when it was enacted; instead, it promotes an anti-sex lawyer’s spurious view that sexual speech is magically different from all other forms of speech:

Bauer predicted that Backpage’s future is foggy at best.  “There are some weird legal decisions in our country, and so far they have enabled Backpage to exist and even thrive,” said Bauer. “Blatant prostitution advertising is what they are…I actually believe that Backpage’s days are numbered…We have a legal theory that works and they don’t”…

Blah blah blah pimps, blah blah children, blah “promoting prostitution”.  I find it especially interesting that the only non-Arizonan quoted at length in this dungheap is from Washington…which foams at the mouth over sex nearly as much as Arizona does.  And that’s a lot of foam:

Katie Resendiz of Arizona Training and Resources to Stop Trafficking (AZ TRUST)…said…“The hypersexualization of the youth and commodification of women’s bodies is exactly why we have a sex-trafficking crisis in the United States.  We train young boys to think of women as objects and sex as something to be purchased, and we train women to think of their bodies as purchasable”…

Another astonishing aspect of “sex trafficking” rhetoric is the repeated assertion (not limited to Arizona) that prostitution is “accepted” and “normalized” in the United States, the only developed country in which the sale of sex is itself illegal.  It requires an almost incomprehensible level of provincialism and ignorance to make such a statement, yet we see it over and over again like the tenet of faith it obviously is (often in close proximity to “prostitution is not a victimless crime”).  And just in case you needed more proof of how deeply statist “trafficking” cultists are, Resendiz delivers this gem:  “If you see something, say something, because if it looks bad, it probably is.”  The conventional wisdom is that the police state, big religion and “feminism” are all different things, and some will claim that different proponents of “sex trafficking” hysteria have different motives.  But that simply isn’t so; even if it had been true before the advent of the moral panic it certainly isn’t now, and Arizona’s fascist “trafficking” establishment is a perfect example.  Much has been written about Project ROSE’s fusion of police state, religious and “feminist” social work elements, and the “Dream Center” featured in this article is no different:

…the Phoenix Dream Center is one of the municipal sex trafficking task force affiliates…There are 183 churches in the…Dream Center’s network.  Its $2 million budget is supported…[in part] through…government programs…Classes at the center are life-recovery and spiritually based, and are taught by retired police…The organization works intimately with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation…

Nor is it only streetwalkers they label as “trafficked”:

The organization is the largest strip club outreach in the region, and has handed out gifts to more than 800 women on its Phoenix route…“We have outreaches at the malls, games, concerts, and Backpage.  We’re working on the massage parlors, we will get there by 2015,” [operative Jessica] Knight said…“Whether it is a girl being trafficked…or a mom selling herself on Backpage to feed her family, we are there for them…[with] a…rescue squad that snatches the victim away from her pimp”…

Her ideas about “what sex trafficking abduction looks like” include “[letting] a person you do not know take pictures of you with their cell phone” and “kids talking to people they don’t know.”  And like Resendiz, Knight encourages adolescents to report “suspicious” people “to the proper law enforcement authorities”; after her “training”, one shudders to think how many men are being investigated by the Phoenix Stasi as “pimps”,dung critters especially given that her philosophy is “It is better to cry wolf and be wrong, than to have a friend, neighbor, or family member disappear and end up in slavery.”  Too bad for all the innocents who end up caged in Arpaio’s dungeon, I guess.

This article was a particularly large, particularly fragrant heap of prohibitionist manure, but the American journalistic landscape is dotted with them and they’re especially common in places like Arizona and Washington; puritanical control freaks are right at home in these mounds and can always be found wallowing ecstatically in their decomposing environment without as much as a clue about how they look and smell to everyone else.

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I just had a baby and it looks like the man I had the baby with.  It doesn’t look like me at all and I’m scared that he was cheating on me with another lady and I had her kid.

Though I was still quite busy this week, the only day I had to spend most of in a car was Tuesday (when we drove from San Francisco down to Los Angeles), so I had a lot more time to do blog work and was able to gather a reasonable number of links.  Everything down to the first video was provided by Radley Balko, and the video itself by Wikileaks; it’s a parody of Swedish attitudes from Russian television.  The second video is by Rachel Bloom, and the links between the videos are from Amy AlkonScott LongMichael WhiteacreJesse Walker, Ed Krayewski,  Popehat, Jason KuznickiMike Siegel and Scott Greenfield (in that order).

From the Archives

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A woman has the exclusive right to decide if she wants to work in prostitution and it is forbidden for anyone to interfere…we must put an end to the condescension and paternalism of politicians and others who purport to speak for…prostitutes and determine what is good for them.  -  “Shelly”

R.I.P. Maya Angelou Maya Angelou

Poet and author Maya Angelou passed away on May 28th at the age of 86, and predictably the obituaries have all either ignored or glossed over the fact that as a young woman she worked both as a whore and a brothel madam.  Though she wrote about this period of her life in her second book, Gather Together In My Name, feminists and others who wished to make Angelou into an icon have sanitized the inconvenient fact for decades, and aren’t letting a little thing like her death change that.  Peechington Marie discusses the whitewashing in a thoughtful article on Tits and Sass.

The Red Umbrella

Like so many of its type, this article about the brutal rape and robbery of a Michigan sex worker by sociopathic twins Michael and Peter Versluys spends more ink on the bizarre, ignorant and opportunistic statements of prohibitionists than on the victim:

Websites such as backpage.com allow sex trade customers to check out who’s for sale from the comfort of their living room…“It makes it a hundred times more dangerous,” sex worker advocate Anny Donewald said.  That’s because sex workers can no longer see who is approaching them like they could when customers would drive or walk by…“You…never know who’s coming or…where you’re being sent to,” she said…So why don’t prostitutes simply find a safer occupation?  Donewald says the sex industry has a separate culture with its own rules and that it’s hard for anyone to get out…“These girls were conditioned in the sex industry since they were 12 and 13 years old, and so they don’t know another way”…

Donewald claims to have been a whore, which makes this farrago of idiotic arse-backward nonsense all the more pathetic.  Compare this from a civilized country:

…sex [workers were] confronted at gunpoint in a series of robberies of interstate escorts who came to Adelaide for four or five-day stints.  The bandit used a series of mobile phones and worked out when the women were due to leave…so that he hit when they had the most cash…[the victims were] initially unsure how detectives would treat the case, given…[they] were sex workers…“But it wasn’t like that…All of the police…were nothing but professional” [one said]…John Steven…Costi’s violence escalated [in his last robbery before being arrested]…He…died in an apparent [jailhouse] suicide…before his trial…

Maggie in the Media

I’m quoted extensively in this student article about the problems of sex work criminalization in Louisiana, and also in Elizabeth N. Brown’s Reason article on International Whores’ Day.

Cognitive Impairment

I wonder if VandeHoef plugged her Hitachi magic wand into the computer’s power strip while she was writing this lurid fantasy, or if she just used a battery-powered masturbation aid instead?

…There’s an enormous yuck factor to being groped by and copulating with strangers…But I wanted to know more about those who said they willingly did this…I expected a…diatribe about how it’s an adult’s right to choose to rent out her…intimate orifices…prostitution dehumanizes a person by reducing her (or him) to a quivering piece of flesh to be used, squeezed and thrust upon exclusively for the sexual gratification of whoever has the right amount…of cash…a Nordic-style model…[is] the best option for those who don’t want their tax dollars used to sanction an industry that reduces people to rentable sex parts…forced into a nightmare of numerous daily rapes, violence, venereal disease and substance abuse.

Tyranny By Consensus the future of porn in California

A bill that would require condoms to be used in all adult films produced in California narrowly cleared the Assembly…the measure’s [sponsor claimed] he sought to bring workplace safety standards, present in all other “legitimate businesses,” to the adult film industry…He noted that law enforcement officers, doctors, nurses and other professionals all are required to wear protective gear when risking exposure to blood-borne pathogens…

A Whore in Church

Because whores are subhuman monsters who can’t possibly have religious beliefs.

Staff at a US newspaper received a shock…when they discovered a witch profiled in the paper’s “Faith and Values” section was also allegedly a prostitute.  Intelligencer Journal…published a statement online…expressing…regret that the woman’s extracurricular activities were not picked up by editorial staff…The original story…has since been removed [from the paper's] website…

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #8)

The last poll said the same thing:

…a poll…found that the majority of the [Israeli] public is against criminalizing the solicitation of prostitutes.  Some 63 percent of respondents…agreed that criminal punishment should not be given to those who buy sexual services from prostitutes if both sides agree to the transaction…The Association for the Regularization of Prostitution in Israel [explained] that legislation criminalizing prostitution would mainly harm women…

Above the Law

Only when a cop’s rape victim is very young are reporters willing to call the crime what it is:  “A Tennessee police officer is accused of sexually abusing a girl over five years…Steven Feinberg began molesting the girl when she was 12…[and] raping [her] when she was 14…”  When the victim is an adult, the crime drops to mere “sexual assault”:  “Clearwater [Florida] Police…are investigating a report of sexual assault…by an officer…attending a training conference for the International Association of Human Trafficking Investigators…”  And when the victims are whores, it’s just “sex on duty”:  “A…San Bernardino [California] police officer has been convicted of forcing two prostitutes to perform sex acts on him while he was on duty…The jury found Jose Jesus Perez…guilty…of two felony counts of deprivation of rights under color of law and one misdemeanor civil rights offense…

An Example to the West 

Real People (TW3 #21)

A new Channel 4 documentary, My Granny the Escort, will reveal what it is really like being a mature sex worker.  Sheila Vogel-Coupe pulls in…£250-an-hour…and entertains up to 10 clients a week who are as young as 20…85-year-old Sheila has been working as an escort for four years, following two happy marriages.  Sadly, both husbands passed away from illness…

Imagination Pinned Down

Note how interchangeable these “sex trafficking survivor” narratives are, and remember what I explained about stereotypic conformation:

Sex trafficking is…happening right here in Southern Idaho…Rebecca Bender…was a victim…for six years…”I moved off to college, and I met a guy who was pretending to be my boyfriend”…She tried to escape numerous times, but her trafficker would find her.  She was beaten regularly, branded twice, her daughter was threatened, and she was sold to other traffickers.  “I was brainwashed and threatened to keep my mouth shut”…Stacey King…says…many of the victims in the Boise area are 11 to 13-year-old girls who are targeted at a mall…

The Public Eye

Sex workers are often the subjects (or objects) of stories, but are very rarely given the platform to tell their own story on their own terms.  There’s something profoundly refreshing about watching a sex work narrative unfold without feeling the usual…fear that sex work will be misrepresented, sensationalised, demonised, glamourised; that sex workers will be objectified; that the narrative will hinge around a worker having her…professional boundaries broken, or breaking them herself, for lurrrrve.  (Show me a mainstream narrative about sex work which is not about this and I will give you a cookie.)  [Watching]…the Sex Workers’ Opera, for the first time I felt that I could trust that whatever stories would be told, they…would be told respectfully. It was an exhilarating feeling…

Under Every Bed Pretty Woman scene

Another small town imagines bogeymen in the bushes and  claims lack of evidence as proof:

…District Attorney Farley Ward says he doesn’t know of any human trafficking cases yet in McAlester — but he has seen things that make him suspicious…Michael Snowden…of the [Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics'] Human Trafficking Unit, said…Seventy-eight percent of…women who are part of…sex trafficking are drug dependent…“But they say it’s a victimless crime…It’s the root of everything”…Snowden sounded particularly incensed at…Pretty Woman…“It’s not glamorous,” he said…“Richard Gere doesn’t exist”…

Yes, Snowden is so obsessed with his masturbatory fantasies that he denied the existence of a well-known celebrity.

Sex Work is Work (TW3 #407)

Dr. Brooke Magnanti on inflated “estimates” of sex work’s contribution to UK GDP:

…Having had a close look at the methods employed to come up with their impressive total of £10 billion per year, I think they are likely to be out by as much as an order of magnitude too high…they got their estimate of the current number of sex workers from Eaves for Women…[which] has come under fire for its statistical methods…Also what about men who pay for sex with other men, which accounts for the majority of male sex workers?…The ONS then go on to guess at the average earnings based on Punternet…Why not ask escorts themselves?  It’s not as if we’re hard to find…Finally, for their calculation of how many clients sex workers see in a week, they relied on research conducted in the Netherlands. It doesn’t take a genius to spot that the difference between sex work in a country where it is legal and heavily regulated, and one where it is legal but many sex workers criminalised, is simply not going to be equal…

The accountant who writes Tax Relief 4 Escorts has an even more comprehensive analysis.

Whither Canada?

On Wednesday, the Canadian government re-introduced sex work criminalization disguised under a Swedish-flavored patina of “protecting women”; essentially the new Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act re-enacts all the laws that were struck down and also criminalizes paying for sex, advertising sexual services, porn and engaging in any commercial sex in any place that has ever contained or ever will contain children:

…This cynical, dystopic model does not resolve the problems found by the Court in Bedford to be unconstitutional, and adds new ones such as the prohibition on advertising.  The Charter rights…[of] life, liberty, security of the person, freedom of expression and equality…are [all] breached…It is an unconstitutional variation of our broken laws that impose more danger, more criminalization, and fewer safe options, contrary to the requirement of the Supreme Court of Canada…All that will be required for police to surveil and target sex workers is the suggestion that a person under the age of 18 can reasonably be expected to be present…purchase [of]…sex…[carries] mandatory fines…from $500 to $4,000, to five years in jail…Without the ability to advertise in newspapers, online, or other forms of media, sex workers will now have severely limited means for working safely indoors…

I cannot believe that the entire Canadian government is so deranged or stupid as to believe this law will stand; it is obviously an attempt to continue the legal wrangling until the hot potato can be passed to the next government.

Buttons, Bags & Banknotes (TW3 #412)

According to this article about the prohibitionist weirdos of “Stop Porn Culture”, Julie Bindel’s presentation on “the politics of the sex industry” consisted of “a succession of tabloid-style personal attacks on pro-sex industry activists, academics, escorts, and performers, complete with photos seemingly lifted without permission from their social-media profiles.”  Bindel listed certain names as being part of the “pimp lobby”, the prohibitionists’ version of the Illuminati or the Elders of Zion, a shadowy cabal which apparently want sex work decriminalized because it disobeys all economic principles and decriminalization would result in expansion of the black market.  Or something.  Anyhow, reporter Rachel Hills wrote down these names of people Bindel listed as key players in the “pimp lobby”:

Chris Knight
Brooke Magnanti
Sebastian Horsley
Thierry Schaffauser
Douglas Fox
John Dockerty
Amnesty International
Elizabeth Wood
The Sexual Freedom Coalition
Jerry Barnett
Belinda Brooks Gordon
Rachel Moran
Maggie McNeill
Stella Marr

Horsley has been dead since 2010, and as regular readers know Moran and Marr are well-known prohibitionist shills.  Some of the other names are almost as inexplicable, though I’m obviously pleased to see mine there; one wonders what Bindel was smoking when she compiled the list.

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Preteens selling goodies, the police…lectured [her]…was unfair to establishments…like Starbucks.  -  Robert Fernandes

Juxtaposition

Popehat suggests we compare and contrast this:

Just days after Iran’s president denounced Internet censorship as “cowardly,” six young Iranians were arrested and forced to repent on state television…for the grievous offense of proclaiming themselves to be “Happy in Tehran,” in a homemade music video  they posted on YouTube…The arrest of the young dancers, and their televised public humiliation, angered Iranians at home and abroad…

And this:

U.S. Park Police arrested five people…at the Jefferson Memorial.  Their offense?  Dancing.  The dancers were protesting an appeals court ruling…that the national monuments are places for reflection and contemplation — and that dancing distracted…

Real People Maria Isabel

Photographer Bénédicte Desrus spent six years…documenting Casa Xochiquetzal, a home in Mexico City for…retired sex workers…She only took photographs of the women who gave her permission and provided them with prints, which often inspired other women to participate…Desrus then teamed up with journalist Celia Gómez Ramos, who began interviewing and transcribing the residents’ stories.  They eventually decided to publish…as…Las Amorosas Más Bravas (The Toughest Lovers)…

Check Your Premises

34-year-old…Vanessa Gumataotao of Sacramento…was arrested on suspicion of prostitution…as well as child abuse and endangerment for allegedly using [a] 17-year-old [boy] as her pimp.  The…boy was arrested on suspicion of pimping…

If It Were Legal

Too bad he lost the suit; this kind of ethical breach is unforgiveable:

A top London solicitor who had sex with a Chinese law student [and sex worker]…has lost his claim for damages after she told his daughter and colleagues about previous affairs.  The solicitor…identified only as AVB, sued the young sex worker, known as TDD, for breach of confidentiality…after she found information about past liaisons on his laptop.  Senior…Justice Tugendhat…said TDD broke a duty she entered when she accepted money for sex.  But…AVB…would not receive damages because although he experienced “some embarrassment” he “has suffered no real distress”…

Something Rotten in Sweden (July Updates, Part One)

Cops busting kids’ lemonade stands isn’t news any more, but this is a new low:

[San Francisco cops busted] two…lemonade stands…the 11-year-old proprietor of one…was informed that simply giving away the fudge brownies and lemonade the police forbade her…to sell would result in a $1,500 fine…Not long after police cleansed the…area of unlawful lemonade dispensaries…they returned due to complaints about “a live band.”  This stemmed…from a neighborhood tradition of setting up a drum kit during [a public event] and allowing local kids to keep the beat.  At the time the police showed up, the unlicensed live bandmember was…a toddler…

The Punitive Mindset

Because obviously, female guards’ delicate ladyfeelings are more important than men’s lives:

…Bradley Ballard, a…schizophrenic [inmate at New York’s Rikers Island] died…after he was confined to his cell…for seven days for making a lewd gesture at a female guard…Denied…his medication, the agitated inmate tied a rubber band tightly around his genitals…Ballard was found naked and unresponsive on the floor, covered in feces, his genitals swollen and badly infected.  He died at a hospital of…[massive systemic] infection…

Above the Law

Two [Atlantic City cops] have been arrested on charges they sexually assaulted a 16-year-old in separate incidents…Andre Corbin and…Ralph Pereira…were…[each] charged with…sexual assault…endangering the welfare of a child and official misconduct…

That Old Black Magic

A man was killed by a mob…in…Burkina Faso, after being accused of making another man’s penis “disappear”…a local mechanic…claimed that his penis had been “stolen” by the second man, who was not from the district.  The first man called the police.  But by then…the residents decided to lynch the man in the middle of the street…

I’ve mentioned West African “penis stealing” hysteria before in Links #141.

Traffic Jam (TW3 #51)

The acquittal of the 13 people “sex trafficking” fanatic Susan Trimarco implicated in her witch hunt provoked such an outcry among her disciples that two of the three judges were pushed into retirement, the third has been threatened with impeachment and the Argentine president swore to “reform” the judiciary because it is too objective and not sufficiently influenced by public opinion.  A higher court then convicted ten of the 13 defendants on charges of running an “evil network of sexual exploitation…with…international connections, and satanic rituals.”  Still think this hysteria is different from the Satanic Panic?

The End of the Beginning

The California Sex Offender Management Board…[recommends] that lawmakers…overhaul registration laws so that some offenders can be removed from the list after 10 or 20 years.  The list — which currently includes almost 100,000 registered offenders — is too large to be useful to law enforcement or the general public.  Under current laws, all sex offenders must register for life regardless of the offense they committed…[the list] includes…almost 900 [people] who have not committed a sex-crime in more than half a century…Ninety-five percent of sex-crimes are committed by individuals who are not on the registry, and the existence of the registry has not worked as a deterrent…

Comfort Zone (TW3 #320) Louie Gohmert

The endgame of “sex trafficking” hysteria:

…U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) said the debate over…immigration reform is prompting undocumented minors to enter the United States… “And…you know that some get sucked into sex slavery,” Gohmert said…adding…“This administration, and this Congress also, is complicit in helping lure people into sex trafficking”…

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #349)

The [French] National Consultative Commission on Human Rights  (CNCDH)…has [rejected] the law…which seeks to punish “the purchase of sexual acts”…[The Commission] consulted many experts…and…[outlines] the three-point position of the committee:

  • “Chosen prostitution” is legal, so clients are not criminals.
  • Legal prostitutes should be easier for clients to access.
  • Victims of trafficking and exploitation need better support…

Hard Numbers (TW3 #351)

Mobs with torches are back in fashion, it seems:

An international association of Catholic nuns has launched a public awareness campaign to combat human trafficking and prostitution during the World Cup in Brazil.  The nuns will use social media, billboards and rallies…to draw attention to the heightened risk of exploitation…Sister Gabriella Bottani said…that for previous World Cups in Germany and South Africa, the level of “exploitation” had gone up by 30 per cent and 40 per cent respectively…Among past and upcoming initiatives will be…a torchlit procession in Brasilia…and handing out pamphlets at…beach resorts…

Naturally, the usual predators are taking advantage of the anti-whore hysteria:

…police…invaded…a building where…prostitutes operated…in [the suburbs of]… Rio…Without a warrant, police…[arrested] more than 100 women…and seized their goods.  Women were attacked and raped – police forced them to perform oral sex and put their hands on the women’s genitals…One woman…had…[her] whole week…[of] money…robbed, including any money to take the bus home…

Guest Columnist:  Sarah Woolley (TW3 #406) 

Amnesty International has urged Northern Ireland’s politicians to ditch plans to criminalise the purchasing of sex.  The human rights organisation wants a clause contained in a bill against human trafficking to be excised because…it would create a “hierarchy of criminal liability” among sex workers…Amnesty stressed it was not taking sides on the debate over sex work and prostitution, but said sex work and human trafficking were “two very complex social phenomena” that required different laws…

“Those who…sit on the fence do indeed side for a political party: The ruling party.” – Max Frisch

Sex Work is Work (TW3 #407)

Another blow against the absurdity of consensual crime:

…Italy’s national statistics office, will include estimated dealings from drugs, arms trafficking and prostitution in its GDP figures from now on…This move should increase Italy’s economy by at least 1.3 per cent in the first year, helping it to comply with EU rules on indebtedness, which limit member countries to spending no more than 3 per cent of their GDP…the calculation would also include revenues from contraband tobacco and alcohol…The Bank of Italy estimated the value of the criminal economy at 10.9 per cent of GDP in 2012…The move…is motivated by the EU’s desire to measure its member countries’ economies more closely…

Traffic Jam (TW3 #409)

community members carrying information and harm reduction supplies were threatened with arrest and were not allowed to communicate with sex workers…who had been…forcibly transported to Project ROSE…[which has] come under intense scrutiny because of a long list of rights violations…advocates from the Best Practices Policy Project and SWOP Phoenix traveled to the United Nations to raise concerns about these abuses to the Human Rights Committee…a group of social workers, Social Workers United for Justice, is petitioning the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) to “demand an end to Arizona State University School of Social Work’s involvement with Project Rose” because it violates socials work’s core professional principles…

Gorged With Meaning (TW3 #410) Alyssa Funke

Unfortunately, not every outed sex worker has Belle Knox’s incredible strength and resolve:

Nineteen-year-old Alyssa Funke…bought a shotgun, drove to her family’s boat, and killed herself there on April 14.  Students at her former high school had outed her as the star of a “casting couch” porn video, and her parents say the subsequent online harassment contributed to her suicide.  Funke…did her first and only porn video…earlier this year…Soon after the video went up, Funke  started getting nasty Twitter and Facebook messages from students at her former high school in Minnesota, calling her a slut and worse…Funke’s parents said she had long suffered from depression, but they believe the harassment…played a major role in her [suicide]…

Belle also wrote an open letter to Alyssa after hearing of her death.

Deafening Silence (TW3 #413)

discussion of whether the sex trade should be legalised [in China]…came to the fore…after Huang Haibo, a 39-year-old actor best known for his “nice everyman” roles, was arrested…for allegedly soliciting prostitutes…The news led to a surprising outpouring of sympathy on social media…after the crackdown in…Dongguan…[there were many] online comments like “Dongguan, hang in there” and “the public has your back”…

The Missing Word

Silly preacher, only politically-connected companies are allowed to do this:

A South Carolina pastor has been accused of turning his Bible College into a forced labor camp for foreign students.  Reginald Wayne Miller…made the teens toil for no or little pay for more than 50 hours a week while housing them in rooms without hot water, heating or air-conditioning.  He…threatened to revoke their student visas if they complained or failed to comply with his demands…Students reportedly told [federal] investigators that classes “were not real” and that the main focus of the school was to have them working full-time at its campus and Miller’s home…In 2006, [Miller] was…detained on charges of lewdness and prostitution for exposing himself to an undercover cop in a bathhouse…

Three Steps Back (TW3 #418)

A bill designed to help New Orleans police crack down on prostitution is headed to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s desk…The legislation…makes it illegal…to solicit money or rides with the intent to exchange it for sex acts.  Marjorie Esman [of the ACLU says the law]…does nothing that isn’t already covered by Louisiana law.  Esman also had problems with an earlier version…[that banned] solicitation for any purpose…which…would have effectively outlawed panhandling…the bill gives police a mechanism to [harass] suspected prostitutes…enough so they might move on…

The Mote and the Beam (TW3 #419)

The US House of Representatives passed all five of the “sex trafficking” bills before it; most of them are the usual political boondoggles, but one creates a “criminal advertising” crime to stack on people being railroaded for “sex trafficking”, and the most dangerous one allows the federal government to give even more money to local cops for sex work stings under the guise of “fighting sex trafficking”.  But the most shocking example of political hubris comes from Representative Randy Hultgren of Illinois, who seems to imagine that the U.S. Congress has the power to criminalize prostitution in foreign countries; he supports this with a lot of nonsense including the discredited Neumayer, Cho & Dreher report.

Blood on the Sand

[Vanessa] Stiviano…is now the subject of a criminal probe…[due to] accusations that Stiviano sought money from Sterling to stop her from releasing more recordings…Stiviano’s attorney has denied she leaked the recordings that set off the scandal, saying a friend did it without her permission.

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Whiter Shade of Pale was a great song but you’ve gone too far in Nigeria.  –  Wise King Aido

This week, our videos are a couple of commercials.  The first (via Zenon Evans) is a Danish PSA intended to encourage young people to vote; it was pulled after only 24 hours, not for its mockery of nanny-state micromanagement but rather for “sexism”.  The second (via EconJeff, who also contributed “Tom Lehrer”) is a sweet ad for a new airport in a remote part of Turkey; you don’t need to speak the language to appreciate it.  Everything down to the first video was provided by Radley Balko, and those between the videos by Jesse Walker (“headline”),  Furry Girl (“Pygmalion”), Wikileaks (“Sweden”), Dave Barry (“crocodile”), Rick Horowitz (“electrocute” and “contempt”), Cop Block (“together”), Ally Fogg  (“conspiracy”), and Grace (“libertarianism”).

From the Archives

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Did I dream of becoming a sex worker when I was a little girl?  No.  But I didn’t dream about working at McDonald’s either, and yet that was my first job.  -  Celine Bisette

Real People

Good satire sticks close to the truth:

…stripper Nicole Timbers does not live the…exciting and scandalous life many friends had hoped for.  “When we met Nicole, we figured she would have the craziest stories,” said Diana Alvarez…“but our friend Ashlynn’s actually had sex with more guys than Nicole – and she’s a preschool teacher”…When Timbers is not taking off her clothes onstage, roommate Sarah Kelvin-Fan confirms she “mostly just studies for her LSATs” and “wears men’s sweatpants – not even the cute, booty-hugging kind.  She won’t teach me how to give a lap dance, and she seemed kind of annoyed when I asked if she could strip at my birthday party”…

Because We Say So

A report on the havoc wrought by “sex trafficking” hysteria on Nepal:

…The hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid that flow into the country…enable corrupt outfits…to flourish…the groups…[claim that] thousands of Nepali women and girls are lured each year into the sex industry…NGOs…inflate the number of people they’ve helped and the size of the problem…Their shock tactics include street performances featuring young girls being dragged off to brothels by traffickers…In one remote…village, parents pulled their daughters out of school after an NGO performed such a skit for fear that traffickers would kidnap the girls if they left the house…

It Looks Good On Paper

Here’s yet another teary-eyed article breathlessly extolling the virtues of a “safe harbor” law while negating the agency of women, belching up ridiculously-inflated figures and presenting a sales pitch for the Swedish model:  “This bill is consistent…with a…policy shift around the world that recognizes the need to target traffickers, pimps and buyers and move away from criminalizing those exploited in prostitution – predominantly women and girls…

The Course of a Disease

Swedish cultists are so delusional they want disagreeing with them to be illegal:

The Nordic Model Australia Coalition “NORMAC”, has…[called on the government] to cut funding to the Scarlet Alliance and redirect it to [Swedish model proponents]…Scarlet Alliance is clearly focused on lobbying for liberalised sex laws, rather than [promoting belief in]…human trafficking.  Their estimate of the number of ["victims"] is alarmingly low…“Scarlet Alliance’s core beliefs and ideology seem deeply opposed to [believing in Swedish ideology]”…

Above the Law

Sometimes the state mildly punishes rapist cops:

Bradley Schnickel, the…Minneapolis police officer who used the Internet to lure adolescent girls into sex…was sentenced…to 30 months in prison, minus 197 days for time already served…his remaining prison time could be reduced to less than 14 months…Judge James A. Cunningham sentenced Schnickel…to less than one-fourth of the nearly 12-year sentence that prosecutors sought…there were 18 known victims…

And sometimes it punishes their victims instead:

The former madam of an escort service in Hawaii alleges she was sexually abused and extorted by a federal agent she has known since childhood.  Malia Arciero [says]…Ryan Faulkner…forced her to work as his confidential informant….[after handcuffing] her to a table…and sexually [assaulting] her…He told her:  “I’m your handler and I own you.”  Arciero faces 10 years in federal prison after Faulkner arrested her on drug charges in October 2013…Faulkner [has been obsessed with her since]…1997 when she was a 16-year-old [stripper]…

The Law is an Ass

A prostitute and her parents [were] arrested in [a Tennessee sting]…Christy…Huxoll’s parents…were arrested [for]…bringing condoms…[because] it [kept] her off the streets…”  The state expects parents to “control” their 33-year-old daughter, abandon her, or turn her in to the cops.

Bullies With Badges

police officers physically and verbally abused the manager of a tanning salon and massage parlor during her arrest…and [threatened her with death]…the cops [eventually realized they were] on camera…[and looked for the recording to destroy it] but didn’t find it because the video was stored off-site…two of the officers…were accused of abusing an immigrant [sex worker] in a previous lawsuit…

First They Came for the Hookers…

If they can use these tactics against legal businesses, is anyone safe?

…Club Lace…[was] accused of maintaining a house of prostitution…[Phoenix] police began investigating…several years ago…[making] seven traffic stops near the…club…[and interrogating] customers…they stopped a security guard…[and searched] his vehicle [without a warrant,  supposedly finding] numerous used condoms and envelopes containing ledgers of earnings…

Translation:  they threatened the customers and security guard with bogus charges, and promised the guard immunity to keep his mouth shut about the manufactured “evidence”.  Unless you really believe that drivers go around with loads of other dudes’ used condoms, and that brothel managers maintain records with names, sex acts and exact amounts on them.

See No Evil (TW3 #31)

So, would a photo of a “topless” male baby also be banned?

…Heather Bays, a [Toronto] maternity photographer…said her [Instagram] account was deactivated…[the night] before Mother’s Day…[after] someone posted a negative comment on a selfie of her breastfeeding her 20-month-old daughter…Hours later, Bays…received several emails from [Facebook-owned] Instagram saying some of her pictures violated its terms of use…After…a…social media [backlash]…Instagram agreed to reactivate her account but with…seven photographs removed…a horrible, dirty, evil, dangerous selfiebecause [they] showed Bays’…daughter topless…Facebook’s community standards state that it has a “strict policy against the sharing of pornographic content and any explicitly sexual content where a minor is involved…”

Soap Opera

It really is like a cult:

…Indiana State University students…will…shine a light on human trafficking ahead of next week’s Indy 500…SOAP…volunteers will…visit hotels, bars and strip clubs near the…Speedway to distribute soap labeled with the human trafficking hotline number…”Most people don’t know that human trafficking is the second leading crime worldwide*, and that it happens in Indianapolis too,” [Tracy] Pruitt said. “Unfortunately, victims are sometimes picked up on college and university campuses…Research is still being done on the effectiveness of outreaches like this**, but we do know that at least 20 girls were rescued during the Super Bowl***”…

*No, it isn’t.   **No, it isn’t.   ***No, they weren’t.

King of the Hill

There are eight Ivy League schools, so I’m going to count this bizarre assertion as a claim to the top eight:  “…Milwaukee is known nationwide…as the ‘Harvard of sex trafficking’, [Sandra] Malone said…’It’s pervasive.  Everyone is at risk’…Part of it…is [being] near Chicago…

Pearls Firmly Clutched

Is the Crown Prosecution Service now hiring bad TV writers to produce the scripts for their accusations?

A lesbian madam…forced a record-breaking athlete into prostitution …Tatiana Shmyrova…exploited the Bulgarian former runner after she was lured to Britain with the promise of work…[defendants] were…part of a “ruthless” sex ring which ran a lucrative business “by bartering in human…bodies”, said [an absurd little] prosecutor…

What a Week! (TW3 #336)

Kim Jong-Un’s ex-lover who he ordered to be executed is said to be alive and well.  The Korean singer, Hyon Song-Wol…appeared on state television…[where she] expressed gratitude for Kim’s leadership and pledged to work harder to “stoke up the flame for art and creative work”…

Torture Chamber 

A…mentally ill inmate at [Miami prison]…was [forced] into [a] locked shower [under scalding water]…and…left…unattended for more than an hour [until]…his skin was so burned that it had shriveled from his body…nearly two years after [Darren] Rainey’s death…the…medical examiner has yet to complete an autopsy and…police have not charged anyone…The shower treatment was only one [tactic used]…by…guards to [terrorize] mentally ill patients…In September, another inmate…hanged himself from an air conditioning vent…[leaving] a suicide note…claiming he and other prisoners were sexually and physically abused on a routine basis…

Secret Squirrel (TW3 #344)

Among the latest gadgets…is the MiniBrake:  A remote control for your child’s bike…Go into any AT&T store and you can buy the FiLIP,” a cute little tracking device…Japan has taken kiddie surveillance once step further and developed a prototype…worn on the chest, measuring a child’s heart rate.  If that rate goes up, the…monitor immediately snaps a photo of whatever…the child is facing.  The idea that the child’s heart is racing because she’s running around doesn’t seem to come into play…Parents may go so far as to give their kids ingestibles” — tiny, swallow-able sensors that emit signals that can be picked up by a smart phone.  These already exist, but their signals are weak.  Eventually, these may be strengthened and fine-tuned to measure whatever [biological] metric parents want to know about…

Down Under (TW3 #350)

In New Zealand, sex workers are protected from buyer’s remorse; I’m not optimistic Texas will be that enlightened:  “A Houston…stripper is being sued…by one of her customers…Robert [no last name]…says she owes him about $3,000 worth of Harry Potter DVDs, a laptop and cash…

Traffic Circle (TW3 #402)

We’re seeing more and more stories like this:

…a myth that comes up every year there’s some big…draw like the Super Bowl…[is that] there’s an influx of sex trafficking.  Last week the Comic-Con of the oil and gas industry, the Offshore Technology Conference, came to [Houston], and with it there was an alleged bump in business for…prostitutes…[and] strip-club[s]…but…that’s just not the case, and the whole sex-trafficking myth is usually perpetuated by…faith-based groups…

Whither Canada? (TW3 #413)

While US newspapers print ignorant opinions from cops and prohibitionists, the Ottawa Citizen publishes articles by sex workers:

Member of Parliament Joy Smith…claims that people only engage in prostitution due to “economic need”…As far as I can tell, the overwhelming majority of people…in any field engage in labour because of “economic need”…people work for money, not for fun.  Some of us are lucky enough to wake up every day and feel thrilled about going to work, but most of us probably don’t.  Folks work in the fast food industry for money.  They work in retail for money, and they collect garbage for money.  Do any children dream of doing these jobs when they grow up?  Probably not…We all need to work, and we can’t all be the next Stephen Hawking or Madonna…

The Missing Worddefinitely not trafficking victims, no sirree

As we all know, the New York Times hates “human trafficking”, yet the word is entirely absent from this article about exploited workers in Abu Dhabi.  Their agency is recognized; their motive is correctly stated as money rather than a bad childhood or being abducted by “pimps”; the paper doesn’t call for their work to be abolished or the people who hire them to be prosecuted; there is no talk of sending cops to arrest them under the guise of “rescue”, and Nick Kristof is nowhere to be found.  But of course these workers are men and their work doesn’t involve sex, so that makes it completely different.

Rough Trade (TW3 #417) 

Having attacked his accusers as vengeful prostitutes and attempted to hide evidence of his crimes…Seattle attorney…Danford Grant pleaded guilty…as a jury was being selected…Grant, a former city prosecutor…was…a serial rapist, “obsessed with Asian women,” who preyed on immigrant masseuses…

Dutch Threat (TW3 #418)

Another excellent essay from Felicia Anna:

In the summer of 2007 the city…of Amsterdam [began to]…close…dozens of windows.  Not because they found criminal activities, since they lost every single court case on that…[they] simply…bought out the owners…Where the women have gone…nobody knows…Did the city government offer them…another job?  Did they offer them another place to work?  Did they ever ask…how these girls could now pay the rent to their apartments?  Did they ever ask those girls how they could live without a place to work?  No!  The city government didn’t do anything, for those girls they supposedly were “so worried” about.  Instead, all they did was buy more windows, leaving less room for girls to work in, pushing them away into nothingness…

Choke Point

Gun retailers say the Obama administration is trying to put them out of business with regulations and investigations that bypass Congress and choke off their lines of credit, freeze their assets and prohibit online sales…Operation Choke Point…has prompted some banks to cut ties with online gun retailers, even if those companies have valid licenses and good credit histories…

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The prudent Sibyl had before prepar’d
A sop, in honey steep’d, to charm the guard;
Which, mix’d with pow’rful drugs, she cast before
His greedy grinning jaws, just op’d to roar.
With three enormous mouths he gapes; and straight,
With hunger press’d, devours the pleasing bait.
Long draughts of sleep his monstrous limbs enslave;
He reels, and, falling, fills the spacious cave.
  -  Virgil, Aeneid (VI, 566-73)

female surgeon with scalpel and forceps after the surgeryOne of the intellectual tools which is useful in cutting through propaganda to the truth behind it is the ability to recognize weasel-words, dysphemisms and other obfuscations wherever they occur.  Over three decades of fighting ignorance and lies I have honed this skill to a very high degree, but a scalpel used without wisdom is a poor tool; four years of hot war against prohibitionists may have begun to push me over the line from skepticism to cynicism, and to compromise my ability to know where and how deeply to slice.  Two weeks ago something happened which showed me that my surgery may be growing a trifle overzealous, and I think analyzing it will help me to keep my judgment as keen as my perception.  It started when I saw a column by Tina Dupuy entitled, “How to End Slavery in the U.S. (Spoiler: Decriminalize Prostitution)”, which begins like this:

Americans have warmed up to…marijuana being legal.  Most polls now report more than 50 percent of voters…are…OK with allowing grownups to indulge in a drug for the sake of indulging…So it’s time for a serious discussion about the decriminalization of prostitution…

And ends like this:

…We are not going to wipe out the sex trade.  We will not arrest our way out of having prostitution in our communities…No amount of public shaming, arresting or prosecuting will make us free of sex exchanged for money.  What we can do for those who are working in the industry is make it legal.  Give them back their rights and access to the courts to redress their grievances.  Decriminalize sex between consenting adults.  If we really believe in freedom, then let people live their lives and let sex workers work in the light of day…

Those are the parts nearly everyone else saw, focused on and cheered.  But as I wrote in “Which I Doubt” almost a year ago, “I sometimes feel as though I’m becoming the Eeyore of the sex worker rights movement, the resident wet blanket who reacts to every bit of seemingly good news cheered by other advocates by letting them know exactly why it’s not as good as they think it is.”  Because what I immediately homed in on was not the beginning or end of Dupuy’s essay, but this bit in the middle:

…slavery is…not just a relic of the 19th century.  A report last year by Australia-based Walk Free Foundation estimates there are currently 30 million slaves in the world.  They report 60,000 of them are in the United States.  We have two kinds of slaves in the United States and both are easily fixed by legislation:  illegal immigrants (another column for another time) and sex workers…

Naturally, my cynicism kicked in, I harrumphed in disgust and I copied the link into the outline for TW3 #420, planning to file it under “So Close and Yet So Far” with other examples of would-be allies who undermine their own cases by quoting prohibitionist dogma.  And that’s where it would’ve stayed had Mistress Matisse not included Dupuy in her tweet about the essay, which also had the effect of calling her attention to my reply that if she wanted to be an ally, she should talk to sex workers rather than prohibitionists.  She almost immediately tweeted me back with her email address, and we had a lovely email exchange in which she quickly convinced me that she wasn’t ignorant of the facts at all; it’s just that she knows her audience and editors (she’s a syndicated columnist) would not accept a decriminalization argument without a sop to Cerberus.  As she explained it, “I try to communicate radical (I think sensible) ideas by acknowledging the values and prejudices of [those] who read me every week.  And it’s not even my audience, the editors won’t publish it and I won’t get a chance to make my case.”

I very often forget that as a writer, I’m doubly privileged (ooh, that word!) in that 1) I don’t have an editor acting as gatekeeper to my free expression, because 2) I don’t have to earn a living with my writing.  In other words, I have the luxury of writing for myself, as a personal avocation, without the real and limiting concern for commercial viability; others are not so fortunate.  Of course, the other side of the coin is that my audience is far smaller than that of a syndicated columnist who has to cater to corporate sensibilities:  the Maggie McNeills of the world can speak honestly and bluntly about decriminalization, but fewer people are going to hear; the Tina Dupuys will be heard by a lot more people, but can’t be nearly so honest and blunt.  Both play an important role, and I need to be careful that I don’t vivisect a real but cautious ally under the mistaken impression that she’s a false one of the sort I collect under “With Friends Like These”.  It’s true that in most cases this kind of thing will do more harm than good, but it’s equally true that a wary dog won’t swallow medicine unless it’s thoroughly embedded in something the animal finds palatable.  I think I’m probably clever enough to learn to tell the difference, and I thank Tina for calling my attention to the fact that it exists.

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Companies will not change ‘til they learn that discriminating against sex workers gets them more flak than providing services to sex workers.  -  Molly Crabapple

I’ve been writing for several years now about the slow turn of public opinion in sex workers’ favor.  Despite the efforts of prohibitionists both in and out of governments to depict us as pathetic, broken victims or evil, calculating criminals (when we’re not depicted as both simultaneously), our voices are increasingly being heard and we are winning ally after ally.  Health organizations, human rights organizations, UN officials, academics and even some feminists and journalists are increasingly recognizing that the prohibition of consensual sex is a dangerous abomination that helps nobody but the police state.

buried aliveThis terrifies the prohibitionists, whose entire agenda depends upon keeping sex workers isolated and friendless and the average person misinformed about our lives and work; accordingly, they’ve embarked upon a campaign to bury sex workers alive, to return us to a state of voicelessness so they can again pretend to speak for us while working against us.  As Charlotte Shane explains at length in a recent essay, prohibitionists are now harping on how sex work is “hidden” while simultaneously recognizing that clients have no trouble finding us.  In a pathetic, yet dangerous attempt to make their fantasy of “invisible, voiceless” sex workers trapped in a “dark underworld” true, they continuously attack the online advertising which makes us anything but “invisible”, pretend that the many sex workers who speak online are “privileged” and “unrepresentative”, and ridiculously brand all of our allies from the UN to Human Rights Watch to academics who study the sex industry as “pimps”.

Though the erasure of many millions of people is obviously impossible, that never stops governments from trying (usually by turning their countries into police states and increasing levels of violence to near-genocidal proportions).  I’m happy to report, however, that the attempts are beginning to attract such bad publicity that at least a few of them are starting to fail.  On Sunday I discussed the backlash against a police department that thought it would be hip and fun to “live tweet” their destruction of peaceful citizens’ lives via a prostitution sting.  Operation Choke Point has attracted a lot more opposition than the “authorities” would have liked, and now another supposedly-private company’s vile behavior (almost certainly resulting from or at least inspired by Choke Point tactics) has resulted in another public relations nightmare for the perpetrators.  Stephen Elliott has a good summary on The Rumpus:

Eden Alexander…had a nearly fatal reaction to a commonly prescribed prescription drug and, because she’s a sex worker, it was assumed to be related to drug use…because she wasn’t treated she developed a staph infection.  A fundraiser was started for her on GiveForward, a Kickstarter like service [which] helps people seek funding for medical bills.  GiveForward processes payments through WePay…which is like Paypal.  A webcache copy of the fundraising page is here…She had raised over $1,000…[when] she got a note from WePay saying her fundraiser had been cancelled because the service cannot be used in connection with pornographic items…

Yes, they classed a human being (or her medical bills) as a “pornographic item” because she happens to be a cam girl; keep in mind this is a company originally started by two guys trying to raise money for a bachelor party, including “bottle service at a club” (i.e. strippers), a company which has welcomed everyone from revenge porn scammers to abortion prohibitionists.  But somehow, a sick woman who retweeted some things an eavesdropping bluenose didn’t like was beyond the pale?  Yeah, I smell the government’s nasty hand in this.

Eden Alexander's message from WePayFortunately for Eden, Molly Crabapple and other allies with loud social media voices started calling attention to her plight within hours after WePay kicked her in the face last Saturday morning (May 17th); the Rumpus article appeared early that afternoon, and was followed by a number of others on various blogs and news sources.  Even the Daily Mail picked it up, though in typical Mail fashion the story concentrated on the tragedy porn of a dying woman’s desperate and hysterical tweets rather than the unforgivably-callous action which precipitated them.  Soon WePay realized it had made a serious error in assuming “nobody will care what we do to a filthy whore anyway”, and issued a mealy-mouthed apology citing unspecified “rules” for the evil, stupid decision.  But whatever those mysterious “rules” are, they apparently don’t apply to another funding platform named Crowdtilt, whose founder reached out to Eden’s friends and invited them to start a new fundraiser on his site; they did, and the funding goal was exceeded within hours thanks to all the publicity  (as of this writing, more than 8x the amount WePay tried to deny her).

Ironically, the prohibitionists’ attempts to render sex workers invisible and mute, to bury us alive in unmarked graves and even erase us from history, are beginning to backfire on them.  Not so long ago, prostitution “stings” came and went with little media attention and many businesses discriminated against known sex workers without a peep from anyone outside the sex work community.  But once the whore-haters’ hubris grew so great they began to actually believe in their own mad sexual fantasy of “abolishing” us from all existence – past, present and future – the cacophony of violence and lies they have raised could not help but attract the attention of good people who previously hadn’t thought much about whores, and whose attention we might never have been able to attract on our own.  Eden Alexander’s fundraiser was far more successful than it would’ve otherwise been; Prince George’s County’s “sting” failed utterly instead of catching the usual modest harvest of victims.  Pay attention, prohibitionists:  we’ve lived in this world since long before anyone conceived of the idea of controlling others via organized violence, and we’ll be here long after that idea is consigned to the historical rubbish-heap along with human sacrifice, chattel slavery and other such atrocities.  And all your attempts to make us disappear only succeed in increasing our visibility.

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