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Posts Tagged ‘consensual crime’

Law enforcement stings designed to shame men who pay for sex are nothing more than the state blowing its own morality horn.  –  Jim Norton

Rough Trade Jason Oates

A convicted rapist…has been jailed for 11 years…Jason Oates…approached [a sex worker]…and agreed to pay £20…but…produced a large-bladed hunting knife…and demanded that she submit…to sex without charge…Oates…[previously served] three…years [for another rape]…

Do As I Say, Not As I Do 

I just can’t imagine how it got there:

Gardai are investigating after a laptop and documents belonging to a garda were discovered in a brothel in Amsterdam…The high-level investigation will probe how the individual’s bag was found in the brothel…

Check Your Premises

Cops in a country preparing to criminalize the purchase of sex insist men won’t be arrested if they confess to attempting to buy sex:

…PACT-Ottawa [reported that] more than half of…sex buyers they surveyed…said they…would call police if they suspected coercion.  That jibes with research…by sociologist Chris Atchison…Sextrade101 founder Natasha Falle, who [claims] she [was] trafficked…[in] her teens…[pretends that] “They never questioned our bruises, our broken bones…I used to see between one and five guys a night and I was in it for 12 years”…Det.-Const. Chris Lavergne has yet to field a call from a client…”Is there a way to make Johns understand, you’re not going to get in trouble for calling the police and giving us the information”…

1) Falle is full of shit; I bruise easily and was quizzed every time I had an unusually large one. I daresay nearly every sex worker has had that experience.  I do, however, think it’s interesting that she reports a realistic number of clients; I’m sure it will grow later.
2) Lavergne can’t conceive that the reason he “has yet to field a call” is that overt coercion in the sex industry is actually pretty rare.

The Scarlet Letter

What is it with New York state DAs and their sophomoric attempts at “humor”?  “Albany County DA David Soares rolled out a new initiative…to combat sex trafficking…Frontpage…will post a photo of every person convicted of paying for sex in the county…”  And this op-ed commenting on the “strategy” is so over-the-top it almost has to be a joke:

Some people say that prostitution is a victimless crime…but…there are victims.  A lot of them.  Children are often forced or compelled into prostitution at an early age…drug addicts sell their bodies to support their habits…prostitutes are often beaten and raped in order to keep bringing in the money for their pimps.  Families are harmed by the “johns” patronizing prostitutes.  Full neighborhoods fall victim to the plague.  Diseases are spread. Human trafficking — a $32 billion-a-year business in New York alone — is now an international crisis…

Saving Them From Themselves

If it had been pictures of himself, I’m sure the cops would’ve taken action:

A mother in South Carolina called sheriff’s deputies on her [15-year-old] son…after finding porn playing on her living room TV…the [woman] “immediately turned off the TV” and ushered her 2-year-old daughter out of the room…before calling the police on her son…the sheriff’s office did not make an arrest or issue a citation…

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic Joshua Baron

A federal judge has sentenced a 40-year-old suburban Chicago doctor to nearly six years in prison for using a classified-ad site to trade prescription pills for sex.  Joshua D. Baron…blamed what he called “demons” of sexual addiction…the pediatric neurologist placed ads on Craig’s List [sic] offering pills for sex and requesting photos of respondents.  He later e-mailed hospital website links to prove he was a physician…

An Example To the West

Patoo Abraham has led protests…to ensure that prostitution is legalized in Nigeria and that sex workers be protected and respected…“We are tired of dying in silence; we want to be able to practice our profession with pride like every other person…Sex work is normal work and there are sex workers everywhere under one form of disguise or the other”…

Stand-Up Guys 

Comedian Jim Norton’s article in Time is definitely flawed, but I applaud any client who comes out and has the balls to write about it:

I’m not ashamed to pay for sex—and other men shouldn’t be either…The illegal aspect of prostitution has never deterred me, nor would legalizing it cause me to engage in it more…in a free society, people must be allowed to make choices for themselves that are incomprehensible to others.  By keeping prostitution illegal and demonizing all of its parties, we (you) are empowering pimps and human traffickers and anyone else who wants to victimize sex workers…

Traffic Jam

This farrago of racism, xenophobia and “sex trafficking” nonsense is even over the top by Daily Mail standards:

…London has become the hub, the epicentre for a global trafficking enterprise involving thousands of children for exploitation, sexual abuse and even…ritual voodoo killing…Hundreds of children have been abducted from their families in Africa and trafficked to the UK…Many are raped and sexually abused…there is a vast reservoir of lost children…anonymously shuffled from flat to shabby flat – a dark pool feeding child exploitation and misery across the planet…Britain’s generous child benefits system has become an international magnet for fraudsters who…traffick…thousands of children into this country every year to take advantage of payments and these young victims are prey for other vices, too – a ready made market for sexploitation…

I love the way it grows from hundreds to thousands in just a few paragraphs; in his next article I’m sure it will be millions. naughty girls

First They Came for the Hookers…

These “complaints” are always from cops:

An Oshkosh [Wisconsin] strip club is closed [after]…the…District Attorney’s office filed a civil suit against the owner…in response to several prostitution complaints…The assistant district attorney says Naughty Girls is a nuisance to the community.  He is asking a judge to close the business for a year and that all moveable property be sold…

Yellow Fever

Bars and clubs = “hub for underage prostitution” because travel agents say so:

Indian men are flocking to Kazakhstan in droves, if travel and tour operators are to be believed…Reason?  The thriving sex industry.  Thailand, Singapore and Dubai have been the traditional destinations; but that is changing…Kazakhstan…has become a hub for underage prostitution over the past few years…bars, cafes and club [sic]…are used as pick-up joints…

King of the Hill

Are you slipping, Toledo?  In the original “King of the Hill” entry you were #3, but according to WKYC you’ve dropped to fourth place.  Maybe if you give grants to “pimps” to build more hair salons you can reclaim your lost glory from Miami or Tampa Bay.

What the Hell Were You Thinking? (TW3 #135)

The term “rescue” used in this context is utterly tone-deaf:

…[South African] University students…[designed] a device intended to…help sex workers’ organisations keep an eye on the safety of their members…[it] has eight Wi-Fi transmitters linked to armbands that will be worn by the sex workers in the vicinity…the armband…[has] four buttons…on-line, off-line, jump [check in to a call] or panic…Should a sex worker send a distress call, the control room will forward her…precise location…to sex worker organisations who will alert the emergency services…

I Saw My Brain

Polk County, Florida…Sheriff Grady Judd assembled a press conference…[to brag about a huge sting operation, but] either didn’t realize – or didn’t care – that a number of the 132 men whose faces appeared on his mugshot “big board” had already been cleared of committing crimes…”It’s fair…Because…when we arrest them as ‘sexual perverts on children,’ I’m going to call them [that]…we have a very liberal…criminal justice system, sometimes it’s more difficult to prove ‘beyond…every reasonable doubt’…”

Given that our “liberal” incarceration machine imprisons five times as many people as civilized nations do, imagine the nightmare that would result if maniacs like Judd got their way.

Dysphemisms Galore 

Even by the low standards of the modern American press, this article is hilariously yellow:

…Domestic sex trafficking…is an increasingly common and highly lucrative underground business …involving American girls and young women (but sometimes boys) forced into sex slavery by sick pimps…in places as unassuming as a mall or a train station.  Pimps can earn $150,000 to $200,000 a year on each victim they force into prostitution…experts say Philly’s location creates a particularly attractive opportunity for the brokers of enslaved women.  “We are sort of in a unique hub area because we’re between New York, Atlantic City, Washington, D.C., Harrisburg – all of which have child-prostitution problems,” said Michelle Morgan, an assistant U.S. attorney…”There are a lot of places for pimps to go from here to make more money, to buy new girls, to trade girls, so it’s a lucrative area”…Tiffany…[was] swept into the dark underbelly of sex trafficking…she [was forced]…to sell her young body to dozens of men…she would have sex with them or do whatever else popped into their twisted minds…

One can barely help picturing “journalist” Morgan Zalot masturbating furiously as he writes those last few lines.  The mall occupies the place in modern “white slavery” hysteria that the ice cream parlor did in the first cycle a century ago.

A Procrustean Bed (TW3 #339)

Because “rehab” to “get us off the streets” is a perfect “solution” for the 90% or more of sex workers who are neither “on the streets” nor addicted to any drug:

Members of the Zanesville City Council attended a neighborhood barbecue…to discuss…prostitution…Sandy Gentry…said…the…ideal response…would be to create some kind of rehabilitation facility where prostitutes could go to get help and get off the streets…helping reform their lives would be the best solution…

Vendetta

Buried under all the monstrous male-demonizing and female-infantilizing rhetoric is the unstated fact that the “National Day of Johns Arrests” ballyhooed in this article is the brainchild of one sad, sick woman acting out her twisted psychodrama on thousands of strangers who never did anything to hurt her:

Law enforcement agencies across the country collaborated in a recent series of sex stings that netted the arrests of almost 500 men seeking to buy sex and 14 pimps and traffickers…[as] part of an annual “National Day of Johns Arrests”…Officials said 111 prostitutes were recovered during the operation, including 13 juveniles…

“Recovered” means “arrested and caged”.  Note that this big “rescue” found only 13 underage girls in 14 states; so much for the “epidemic of child prostitution”.  Phoenix can always be counted on to put an extra-stupid spin on a story like this; a cop with the Dickensian name Trent Crump blathered, “We want people to understand this is not because of Super Bowl, but with the Super Bowl coming, this may be a venue in which people believe and people believe they can come here.”  Trent, Maggie McNeill believes and Maggie McNeill believes that you are an idiot.

Remembrance (TW3 #410)

A sequence of a dozen images…taken by [an English] Lieutenant…are believed to be the only photographs ever to surface of British officers from the 1914-1918 war inside a “blue lamp” – the refined category of brothel reserved by secret edict of the British army for the officer classes…Other ranks…were restricted to crude “red-lamp” brothels…

Traffic Jam (TW3 #415)

This is mostly a lot of asinine and self-contradictory political “sex trafficking” bullshit; for example, the mayor belches out “The program saves women’s lives,” but two short paragraphs later the women morph into teens (all of whom are said to be “12 to 14 years old”), and four paragraphs later they’re vomiting out “the needs of the child”.  The really interesting thing is the continued harping on “gangs” and the obvious grooming of “sex trafficking” to be the new excuse for the police state once the drug war inevitably dies: “Gangs and other criminal organizations prefer humans [to drugs] because they’re a reusable resource; they can be resold…

Facts in the Case of Monica JonesLaverne Cox

Emmy-nominated actress Laverne Cox of the hit series Orange is the New Black is lending her support to [Monica] Jones [during Jones' appeal of her conviction for "manifesting prostitution"]…Cox, like Jones, is a transgender woman of color.  She has some serious concerns about the Phoenix law, which some call “walking while trans”…

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If [Bill C-36] becomes law, johns will become the new “fags” – the people fed into the fear factory of career-ending public exposure and the criminal underground because of their personal sexual choices.  –  Alice Klein

Think of the Children! 

But, but, he was in the same BUILDING!!!!!!!

John is a U.K.-based father and sex blogger who publishes original erotica and toy reviews on his website, the  Bawdy Bloke…Until recently, John also held what he refers to only as an unpaid, part-time “position of civic responsibility” in a local school.  Apparently John’s boss thought the two positions were mutually exclusive.  After discovering John’s career as an online erotica author, he asked John to resign from his position immediately…John…[did] not…work…with children in any capacity…it sounds like [his job was] a pretty general IT/administrative support role…

My Body, My Choice

A good essay against client criminalization; here’s the heart of it:

…I find it very ironic that many of the arguments used to suggest that it is morally offensive for men to buy sex from women are adopted from extreme feminist views.  Many of these same feminists are pro-choice, rightly declaring that no one has the right to tell a woman what she can do with her body…yet when it comes to sex, these very same people are now here to say that a woman does not have the right to choose.  Her body is her own so long as she does nothing with it that these moral guardians find objectionable…

Lying Down With Dogs

This was going on at the same time as the recent FBI pogroms in the US:

Amnesty International has drawn attention to violent police harassment of sex workers in Tajikistan…as part of the government’s “morality” campaign…500 sex workers have been arrested…since…June [6th]…Men suspected of “homosexual behaviour” have also been targeted…officers beat people…and…subjected to…forced testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections…[there were also] reports…of rape and…officers demanding sex in exchange for release…police allege that this violent crackdown is because they have been “inundated” with complaints from citizens…

Check Your Premises

Because 15-year-olds are only “innocent children” until cops say otherwise:

Three women and a 15-year-old girl were arrested…and booked with soliciting and inciting prostitution…at the 7 Star Foot Massage parlor in LaPlace…[after] a month-long investigation, dubbed Operation Happy Feet, by the St. John Sheriff’s Office…the 15-year-old girl was employed to work the front desk…

Parable

Bone of Contention

This is a good article about the myths surrounding streetwalkers, including 1) That they make huge amounts of money; 2) That they’re all addicts; 3) That they’re all foreign and “trafficked”; 4) That they’re dominated by pimps and gangs; 5) That they need rescue; and 6) That arrest and prison “help” them.  Unfortunately, it’s far too accepting of the false claims made by Swedish model proponents, which in the end makes it hard to recommend.

The Enlightenment Police

[The] European Court of Human Rights judgment upholding a…ban on wearing full-face veils in public…represents a profound retreat for the right to freedom of expression and religion…The…Court recognised that arguments for the ban based on security and gender equality were unfounded.  But it accepted the argument that wearing full-face veils runs counter to established social norms…The judgment was handed down by the European Court’s Grand Chamber, meaning it cannot be appealed…

Divided We Fall

It’s always great to see enthusiastic support from the queer community:

Sorry to ruin your WorldPride.  Sexual shaming is on the prowl, not just somewhere far away but, sadly, right here, right now…While [Toronto] celebrates our beauty and our outrageousness, the government is busy unleashing a moral panic…It used to be us, my queer brothers and sisters, who were the targets.  Now…men who purchase sexual services are the…new category to be targeted for their sexual preferences.  They are to be criminalized for what?  For seeking and hopefully finding an uncomplicated and pleasurable way to satisfy their sexual hunger?…

See No Evil

More people are beginning to protest this evil lunacy:

…If I…made a throw away mail account and sent you a file called “Very Important.pdf” but it was actually a .zip file of child porn, I could call the police and claim you had child porn in a disguised file — and that might well be enough to ruin your life, even if everyone involved was pretty sure you never even saw the pictures…prosecutors are so inhuman and irresponsible [that they]…charge people with crimes they know aren’t in the spirit of the law…The career incentives are that investigations must lead to charges, and charges must lead to convictions…once something is investigated prosecutors are motivated to make sure someone goes to jail…the law effectively treats every bit of crufty data, every teenage file system mistake or selfie indiscretion as if the possessor had abused the child themselves.  This is insane, and it doesn’t help children — it distracts time and attention from the real ways children get hurt…

A Whore in Church murder of Mariana Popa

A Muslim who stabbed a pregnant Romanian prostitute to death after warning her not to work near a mosque was jailed for at least 29 years…Farooq Shah, 21, plunged a knife into Mariana Popa’s chest while riding his bicycle along a stretch of road notorious for sex workers.  Miss Popa, 24, had been in Britain for just three weeks and was trying to earn the money to support her family when she was stabbed in Ilford, Essex…on October 28…

Harm Magnification (The Beat Goes On)

A recent study has concluded that the Nordic Model of prostitution laws could endanger sex trade workers…and does not affect the demand for prostitution…John Lowman, an SFU criminology professor, said that…similar policies in the 1990s…[created] “the killing field of Vancouver…where Mr. Pickton picked up most of [his] victims”…the report [states] that decriminalization of sex work…is the best way to ensure the safety of sex workers…

Above the Law

At least Los Angeles has the marginal decency to properly label sexual assault by a cop:  “A…detective pleaded no contest…to assaulting three [masseuses]…Oris Pace allegedly forced three women at separate [massage] parlors to undress…and fondled their bodies…”  Montana prefers to dismiss oral rape as “non-consensual oral sex“:

Michael Connelly…was sentenced…to 24 months in prison and three years of supervised release…the victim reported that Connelly took her to a secluded place on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation…and threatened her with jail if she did not perform oral sex…Connelly was acquitted of the sexual abuse charge and convicted of the civil rights and false statement charges…

The Widening Gyre

Cops demand everyone serve them as unpaid informants, or else:

…Police say the staff at the Super 8 Motel off Route 161 knew drug deals and prostitution happened inside the rooms, and possibly tracked it themselves…police [claimed] “…the motel placed the drug dealers and prostitutes in certain rooms…to keep them isolated from other guests.”  Police say that…[constitutes] promoting prostitution …charges could lead to a ten year prison sentence…

King of the Hill

Irish Central brags that “A new US State Department report has named Ireland the top destination and transit country for sex trafficking…”  And what prodigious number of wailing victims earned this dubious distinction? “44  potential trafficking victims were identified…”  That’s potential victims, i.e. someone a cop pointed to.  It is to laugh.

Buried Truth John Balyo

John Balyo…an on-air personality at WCSG-FM, a Christian radio station [in Michigan]…was arrested…[for] sexual encounters with minors…Balyo paid…Ronald Moser…to arrange sexual encounters with…young boys…

Monsters

A New Zealand trans woman is in intensive care, after she was savagely attacked by a group of unknown men.  Anahera Rangitaawa…was reportedly attacked by three men…while on her way home from a quilting exhibition.  [She] suffered multiple fractures, including her skull, cheekbones, shoulder blades, and eye sockets…[and] will require facial reconstruction surgery…

Traffic Jam (TW3 #318) Anya17

I love scathing reviews of “sex trafficking” theatrical productions:

Anya17…[is an] 80-minute opera…which features an acerbic, graceless score by composer Adam Gorb  and a ham-fisted libretto by Ben Kaye, plunges the audience into the horrific milieu of international sex slavery…The degradation and brutality on display are almost unbearable…it was never clear what artistic purpose was served by these horrors.  Neither concrete enough to be journalism nor sufficiently probing or inventive for art, Anya17 winds up as simply a slog…

Tales from the Dark Side

The…conviction of a former New York City police officer in a plot to kidnap, torture, kill and eat women was overturned…by a federal judge…[for lack of] evidence…No women were ever abducted or harmed in the plot, but prosecutors [claimed] that [Gilberto] Valle had “crossed the line” while immersing himself in a fetish website where he communicated electronically with others…

Deafening Silence

The official narrative, touted by Western journalists and Maoist sympathizers, is that sex work was magically abolished by proclamation during Mao’s reign.  Here’s a refutation of that, courtesy of a former political prisoner:

…In China now, problems such as prostitution and crimes are often blamed as the results of spiritual pollution and capitalist liberalization due to Western influence…In fact, prostitution and crimes were not the results of the reform and opening-up but the results of Mao’s tyranny and Cultural Revolution…

Whither Canada?

A sensible article on this topic in a US newspaper is like a breath of fresh air:

…it’s clear that sex work takes place in Maine.  But public conversations…typically revolve around the same salacious and misinformed tropes…Meanwhile, just north of the border, Canada is taking a much different approach to policymaking around commercial sex…While Maine politicians, law enforcement officials, and social service agencies seem resistant to anything other than outright prohibition, more progressive thinkers should consider other ways of looking at this unnecessarily controversial issue…

And though they’re not so rare in Canadian papers, I still love them:

…non-coercive adult sexual behaviour lacks the element of potential misconduct that might justify bringing it into the ambit of the law in a free, secular society…[making] a man a lawbreaker because he offers to pay for a sexual service he could freely ask for as a gift or a favour…is a repudiation of the fundamental principles of free enterprise…Declaring female sexuality illegitimate, as patriarchal societies have done from time to time, has been as useless as declaring male sexuality illegitimate, as our matriarchal society is proposing to do.  The fact is, both are legitimate.  What is illegitimate is for the state to annoy and humiliate a taxpayer for attempting to communicate terms for a transaction that is nobody else’s business…

Rough Trade (TW3 #421)

More of this, please:

Four women raped by Danford Grant…have sued the Seattle attorney and his wife…Jennifer Grant…who helped hide her husband’s car from police after his arrest…Having denied the allegations and maligned his victims as lying prostitutes, Grant ultimately admitted to raping the women…

Comfort Zone (TW3 #422) criminals Obama wants to deport

It’s good to see the government hoist with its own petard:

The White House [wants]…Congress…to allow fast-track deportation of…unaccompanied children from Central America who cross the US border illegally…More than 52,000…have been stopped at the border since the start of October…many of them girls under the age of 13…The administration has had to adhere to anti-trafficking laws passed during the presidency of George W Bush which…[have] the potential for delaying deportation…Obama…is trying to counter a perception that unaccompanied children who arrive in the US are guaranteed the chance to stay…

The Roof Caves In

Boo fucking hoo:

In what appear to be Somaly Mam’s first public comments on…her resignation from the Somaly Mam Foundation (SMF)…last month, posts to one of her Facebook pages say that she will sell her house to support girls formerly under her care after SMF cut funding to an NGO she founded…In a number of posts…there is an outpouring of despair at SMF’s decision to cut off funding to Afesip…

If Men Were Angels

Police arrested a former church pastor on sex abuse charges…Michael George Sperou…used to be a senior pastor at North Clackamas Bible Community Church…the charges stem from a series of police reports involving juvenile girls who lived within the community in 1997…

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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on May 18th; I have modified it slightly for time references and to fit the format of this blog.

Back in February I wrote,

Until the advent of the internet, those who suffer from the sick need to control other people’s sexuality…must have felt that…they would always be able to suppress sex workers…But…the arrival of…social media gave…widely-scattered sex worker rights groups a way to connect easily and cheaply in real time, resulting in an explosion of activism…prohibitionists…too, could use social media, and…formed a global anti-sex movement dedicated to the extirpation of all legal sex work and the absolute suppression of all sex workers…robbing whores of our livelihood, subjecting us to ill-treatment by police, caging us, abducting our children and subjecting us to brainwashing in the hopes of reprogramming us into obedient menials is depicted by the prohibitionists as “rescuing” us from our own choices…But starting in the summer of 2012, the tide began to slowly turn in our favor; though the Swedish model and “anti-trafficking” legislation are still being imposed in more places, several UN agencies and a growing number of health and human rights organizations are coming out in favor of decriminalization, and the voices of sex workers are gradually beginning to be heard above the prohibitionist din…

In March of 2013, the #whenantisattack Twitter hashtag drew considerable media attention to the moral crusaders’ hypocrisy, then last January’s #NotYourRescueProject hashtag (described in the essay quoted above) drew even more despite the fact that “prohibitionists were frantically attempting damage control by interjecting their own myths, denunciations and accusations (the sex workers were really ‘pimps’ or clients, were ‘not representative’, etc) into the stream…” But last month we accomplished something which drew even more attention and also had concrete results:  we stopped a “prostitution sting” from harming even one person.  It all started on May 1st with this press release from the police department of Prince George’s County, Maryland (suburban Washington, DC):

We won’t tell you when or where, other than it’s somewhere in the county sometime next week.  The PGPD’s Vice Unit will conduct a prostitution sting that targets those soliciting prostitutes and we’ll tweet it out as it happens.  From the ads to the arrests, we’ll show you how the PGPD is battling the oldest profession.  Suspect photos and information will be tweeted.  We’re using this progressive, and what we believe [sic] unprecedented, social media tactic to warn any potential participants that this type of criminal behavior is not welcome in Prince George’s County.

PGPD viceDespite the now-obligatory “end demand” pap, the release clearly says that it’s “battling the oldest profession” and this illustration (which originally accompanied the story) made it pretty clear who “is not welcome” in Prince George’s County.  Once sex workers started attacking the plan (less than an hour later), “police media relations director” Julie Parker realized that she had made a horrible mistake by revealing the cops’ real motivations; she immediately removed the picture and began demonstrating her cluelessness (and her low opinion of our intelligence and morals) by insisting that the scheme would only target clients (apparently imagining that sex workers would be pleased by an attack on our livelihood).  Within hours, we had completely taken over the cops’ own hashtag, #PGPDVice, and were using it to tell the truth; the media quickly took note:

…It’s mystifying that the police would think that live-tweeting a sting would get them any good publicity.  After all, it was just last week that the New York Police Department saw its attempt at Twitter outreach go terribly, when they tried to start the hashtag #myNYPD to get pictures of people hanging out with the cops and instead got inundated with stories of people who had been targeted by stop-and-frisk and racial profiling…

When reporters started calling Ms. Parker, she immediately spewed out the usual police idiocy:

…Parker said…the department looks at prostitution “not simply as prostitution — that crime has the potential and [sic] very often leads to other crimes.  If you think of marijuana as a gateway drug, you can think of prostitution as a gateway crime…”

The next day, Conor Friedersdorf of the Atlantic wrote,

…PGPD won’t be embarrassing convicts.  They’re going to publicly shame suspects before their trial, despite the fact that the state is supposed to extend to them the presumption of innocence until a jury of their peers finds them guilty.  Do the citizens in Prince George’s County really want to instill in their police officers the attitude that they can mete out punishment from the street?…Do [kids] deserve the inevitable moment when their middle school classmates mock them for the photo of their dad making the rounds?  Do the wives…deserve a Twitter campaign on top of the arrest?…Twitter’s rules state, “You may not engage in targeted abuse or harassment.”  If I parked across the street from a prostitute’s house, photographed the johns as they exited, and tweeted their names and photographs, would a Twitter overseer stop me?…if the answer is yes, then Twitter should stop the PGPD…

We were already making plans to report every tweet they released on the subject as abuse, and the National Center for Transgender Equality produced a blog post suggesting a number of things supporters could tweet during the event to flood the hashtag, when the cops cried “uncle” and called off the planned live-tweeting after it became abundantly clear that their evil scheme to turn people into involuntary entertainment had backfired.  Of course, they tried to spin it to make themselves look like geniuses of applied psychology:

…the unit arrests five to 10 johns during similar operations. Today, no johns were arrested…“By advertising this days ago, we wanted to put johns on notice to not come to Prince George’s County. That message was heard loud and clear.  We just put a dent in the human trafficking business without making one arrest,” said [Head Vice Thug] Dave Coleman…Due to the international attention to this publicized sting…our undercover officers became increasingly concerned about the potential compromise of their identities.  Those concerns prompted the department to change course…our Vice Unit…is dedicated to shutting down this type of illicit business and seeking help for its victims…

Lest you believe the claims that they only want to “help” those they portray as “victims”, let’s look at the less-polished statement of department spokesman Bill Alexander:  “We never said we were going to do anything related to the prostitutes or the sex workers or whatever the politically correct term is…”  Cut.  Print.  That’s all this talk of “johns” and “victims” really is:  filling in the right “politically correct” blank to justify business as usual, which for vice cops is brutalizing people for peaceful, private, consensual behavior.  They haven’t yet learned that the days of that business model are numbered, and that the wind has already begun to shift against them.  But you can bet that they eventually will, and that they’ll fight to maintain the ugly, brutal status quo every step of the way.

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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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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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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on April 20th; I have modified it slightly to fit the format of this blog.

One of the tragic flaws of the human race is that the mass of people are wholly unable to see the big picture, which gives a powerful advantage to people and institutions wise enough and patient enough to invest their energies in a long game. While many people can recognize the immediate problems with some new, bad law (which is to say most of them, since virtually all the necessary laws were made long ago), they are completely unable to grasp how it fits in to the big picture. The purpose of government is to concentrate power in the hands of a few, and the purpose of getting involved in government is to be one of that few.The Blob movie poster And while the ways in which different politicians conceive of exercising and expanding that power may vary somewhat by individual and party, together all of these actions add up like countless threads in one vast fabric of tyranny.

Bureaucracy (the form of government firmly established in the US and UK) is essentially government by nobody; no matter who holds power at any given time, the whole amounts to a colossal, blind, amorphous entity whose only purpose is to grow and increase its grip on everything in its reach, especially people. One of its most potent mechanisms to accomplish this is what I call universal criminality, which is the establishment of…

…so many complex, broad, vague, mutually contradictory and intrusive laws that every single person is in violation of at least some of them at any given time. Then when any “authority” from the chief executive down to the lowliest cop wants to teach one of the peons a lesson, all he has to do is find a law to charge him with and the machine then proceeds to grind him up psychologically, financially, politically and often physically.

The machine sometimes even acts (seemingly) by itself due to the processes which were previously established; this can be seen whenever there is some awful prosecution that nobody is willing to take credit for, and officials stand around using words like “unfortunate” and excusing their inaction with tautologies like “the law is the law”. But to a large degree, they really are being honest about their inability to rescue a victim from the gears: it took hordes and generations to build this great Moloch, and it would take the concerted efforts of many thousands to dismantle it. Once a law or policy has been created for use against one group, the precedent it sets is gradually increased to affect others the original instigators never intended or even considered; single-minded fanatics with agendas like “decency” or “women’s empowerment” or “the children” never, ever understand that the weapons they demand for their “champion” today will not disintegrate with his regime, but will be inherited by his successors in years to come, and that the noose which fits the necks of “conservatives” will suit equally well to hang “liberals” (and vice-versa).

Over the last few centuries, would-be rulers slowly came to realize that sex laws were especially useful for establishing absolute control; before that such laws were largely concerned with maintaining public order and the purity of bloodlines. But since virtually everyone has sexual impulses, and many if not most people commit some sort of sexual indiscretion from time to time, sex laws are among the most effective methods of establishing universal criminality (which probably accounts for their increasing popularity over the last few decades). If all men can be vilified as “rapists”, “potential rapists” or supporters of “rape culture”, it’s easy to keep them under control; women, however, are a little more complicated. While underage women are effectively neutralized by classifying them as passive, asexual “children”, and any adult woman with a public or social life is vulnerable to accusations of “prostitution”, adult women with very private, monogamous sex lives are harder to target.

Fortunately for the control freaks, Nature burdened women with a built-in and highly exploitable weakness, namely pregnancy: the typical woman who has any sex at all will eventually end up pregnant, at which point she becomes uniquely vulnerable to state control via the child. While in pre-industrial times dependent children were basically classed as the property of their parents, in the past century they have been increasingly defined as the property of the state; a mother is therefore classified as the custodian of state property, and it’s a small matter to control her by threatening to take that property away. Because this is such a powerful tool of control, the state has worked diligently to maximize its period of absolute ownership by defining all legal minors as “children”, then pushing the upper age limit up and the lower age limit down to the period before birth, an historically-unprecedented power grab made possible by modern technology and expanding legal precedent. And so we get abominations like this:

The Tennessee…legislature gave final approval…to a bill that allows women to be charged with assault if they have a pregnancy complication after using illegal drugs…Farah Diaz-Tello…with National Advocates for Pregnant Women [said]…“The law…in no way limits the prosecution to misdemeanor assault, nor does it limit the prosecution to women who are illegally taking narcotics”…In other words, any woman who gives birth to a baby with health problems, or who loses a pregnancy at any stage, could be subject to criminal investigation, “because criminal investigation is the only way to rule out an unlawful act”…The most severe crime a pregnant woman could…be charged with under the new law is aggravated assault, which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison

Women in Mississippi, Indiana, Alabama, Utah, Louisiana, Texas and El Salvador have already been charged under similar laws; women in Wisconsin, Ohio, Oregon, Washington, DCEngland and Brazil have been subjected to shocking human rights abuses using similar logic; and politicians in New South Wales and Queensland have demanded similar control over pregnant women’s lives.  Nor does the nightmare end at birth:

Prosecutors successfully argued that a grieving mother was in fact a killer…[because] prescription painkillers [supposedly] tainted her breast milk and caused her infant’s death. Her sentence for this tragic accident…is 20 years in prison. Stephanie Green…was injured in a debilitating car accident…[and] also suffered from fibromyalgia…[so] she took doctor-prescribed morphine…At six weeks old, her daughter, Alexis…stopped breathing…it was determined that the baby had morphine in her system…there is little scientific evidence that morphine can gather in breast milk to toxic levels…Prosecutors [claimed] she “worked the system” to get her pain pills, did not keep all of her doctors in the loop, and should have known better…

Of course, birth control can prevent a woman’s coming into possession of state property to start with, so naturally many of those in power want to control access to it or at least hide information about it, but really that’s just gilding the lily; the majority of women do eventually want children, bringing them (and the fathers of those children) firmly under state control. Those who don’t want children usually still have sex lives, and everybody has to eat; once politicians realized the public would accept the morally-absurd concept of consensual crime, the achievement of universal criminality was just a matter of time.

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Every nation has the government it deserves.  –  Joseph de Maistre

It is often said that large companies are amoral, and commit myriad sins in the name of profit.  At the same time, it’s clear that companies like Google, Paypal, Facebook, Chase and Amazon police “morality” and discriminate against anything to do with sex.  Oddly enough, though the concept of an amoral morality cop would seem oxymoronic, it’s actually fundamentally correct; though corporations are not completely amoral, most have only one moral principle: responsibility to their stockholders.  A corporation is both legally and practically bound to protect its investors and to maximize their profits, and unless the board of directors is dominated by unusually-principled shareholders, all other moral precepts are subordinate to that one.  Readers who are my age and older will recall that in the ‘70s and ‘80s companies weren’t nearly as bluenosed as they’ve become in the last two decades; as I explained in “They Don’t Want To Know”, “It’s not that the owners of these companies are all a bunch of prudes; it’s that far too many of the people who buy their products are, and they can’t afford to take chances in a world where ‘offense’ is as fetishized as it is today.”

Choke PointBut while this was sufficient motivation for some companies who were both controlled by a small number of executives and image-conscious to the point of paranoia (e.g., Paypal and Facebook), others needed a stronger impetus to induce them to reject piles of lovely money merely because a few of their customers might clutch their pearls if they discovered sex workers or other businesspeople they deemed “shady” were also customers.  Naturally, the US government was happy to provide that stronger motivation.  The latest in a long tradition of government programs designed to criminalize private behavior and harass nonconformists, minorities, the poor and those with unpopular opinions and pastimes is Operation Choke Point, which started in March of last year but has only recently come to light due to a few high-profile effects.  Jason Oxman of the Electronic Transactions Association explained it thus:

…the Department of Justice and other federal agencies are…[pursuing] disfavored – but legal – categories of merchants by targeting our nation’s payments systems…as more details of the program become public, more concerns are raised.  The “chokepoint” in this operation is the nation’s payments infrastructure…Federal law enforcers are targeting merchant categories like payday lenders, ammunition and tobacco sales, and telemarketers – but not merely by pursuing those merchants directly.  Rather, Operation Chokepoint is flooding payments companies that provide processing service to those industries with subpoenas, civil investigative demands, and other burdensome and costly legal demands.  The theory…has superficial logic: increase the legal and compliance costs of serving certain disfavored merchant categories, and payments companies will simply stop providing service to such merchants.  And it’s working…Thus far, payday lenders have been the most frequent target…what category will be next and who makes that decision?

The next big target, predictably, was sex work:  under government pressure, Chase Bank has been closing down the accounts of anyone with any connection to porn, and though Paypal is very tight-lipped about it, there seems little doubt that the same program was the reason that it suddenly and without warning threatened to cut the crowdfunding platform Patreon off entirely due to “adult content” on the site.  Lest you think this is going to stop with sex work, I call your attention to this list of businesses the FDIC considers “high risk”; many of these are already being targeted, so the rest won’t be far behind:

Ammunition SalesCable Box De-scramblers

Coin Dealers

Credit Card Schemes

Credit Repair Services

Dating Services

Debt Consolidation Scams

Drug Paraphernalia

Escort Services

Firearms Sales

Fireworks Sales

Get Rich Products

Government Grants

Home-Based Charities

Life-Time Guarantees

Life-Time MembershipsLottery Sales

Mailing Lists/Personal Info

Money Transfer Networks

On-line Gambling

PayDay Loans

Pharmaceutical Sales

Ponzi Schemes

Pornography

Pyramid-Type Sales

Racist Materials

Surveillance Equipment

Telemarketing

Tobacco Sales

Travel Clubs

Operation Choke PointWhile some of these (such as get-rich and Ponzi schemes) are undoubtedly sketchy and others (credit repair, debt consolidation) have strong potential to be, some of the others (escort services, gambling) are on the list due to a high chargeback rate, while others (gun & ammunition, drugs & tobacco) are purely political targets.  But whatever the reason, the government’s growing tendency to force private entities to act as arms of the fascist state is incredibly alarming, not merely to those who care about human rights and individual liberty, but even to bankers:

The Justice Department’s “Operation Choke Point” is…being pushed far beyond its stated objective…and is having potentially devastating impact on lawful check cashing and small loan businesses.  This in turn will cut off tens of millions of people from much needed access to money to meet emergency needs…No matter what your personal view [of targeted industries]…Operation Choke Point should be both alarming and repugnant.  It is a direct assault on the democratic system and free-market economy that have made the United States the most powerful and prosperous nation in world history.  Without color of law and based on a political agenda, unelected bureaucrats at the Department of Justice are coordinating with some bank regulators to deny essential banking services to companies engaged in lawful business activities.  Bankers operating under the yoke of an oppressive regulatory regime are being cowed into compliance.  If lawful payday lenders and check cashers can be driven out of the banking system because someone in the government doesn’t like them or what they do, what lawful businesses are next?…

Note that two of the articles I’ve quoted here ask the sensible question, “Who will be targeted next?”  As I’ve pointed out many times, campaigns of persecution always start out with unpopular entities (in this case payday lenders and sex workers), but absolutely never stop there.  Paypal would have shut down all of Patreon because some of its clients produced erotic art; by the same token, what’s to stop Operation Choke Point from attacking convenience stores for selling tobacco, liquor, lottery tickets and men’s magazines?  There are always useful idiots who will support tyranny against things they don’t like (such as guns, tobacco or porn), and are20000 Leagues Under the Sea then shocked when the same legal tools are used against things they do like (such as birth control).  For now, legal-but-disfavored businesses can turn to bitcoin and offshore payment processing.  But while the DoJ is currently satisfied with mere financial harassment, it wouldn’t be hard for its prosecutors to invent spurious charges using vague statutes (“conspiracy”, “wire fraud” and “money laundering” are very handy that way) to persecute targeted businesses which keep going despite the government’s attempts to stifle them.  I can’t say where it will all end, but I can say this: it won’t stop on its own.  The institutions behind it must be hacked apart, before they strangle us all.

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Project ROSE is a diversion program like a person who pushes ten people onto the train tracks and pulls three off is a hero.  –  Ryan Beck Turner

Do As I Say, Not As I Do 

It’s especially satisfying when a vice cop is the victim:

…Denver police detective…Michael Ryan…[is under] investigation [for] solicitation of a prostitute…Ryan works in DPD’s Vice and Narcotics unit and was instrumental in the investigation that led to federal judge Edward Nottingham resigning in the face of accusations he had patronized prostitutes.  Ryan…also served on a human trafficking task force…

A False Dichotomy 

Another good essay from Belle Knox:

…The concept of the desperate exchange permeates discussions about sex work…People assume that my support for sex workers and porn is somehow invalidated because I chose to do porn for the money rather than for love.  They act as though this is some shocking victory for them because being a sex worker wasn’t my dream job…it now somehow reverts to being morally wrong, and I become another pitiable whore to be dismissed at leisure…of course I do porn for money.  It’s a job, not a summer retreat…The majority of people don’t work every day for fun; they do it because they want…something in exchange.  Do you honestly think that the people working at McDonald’s flipping burgers and responding to rude customers on a daily basis would come to work every day if they weren’t getting paid?  Moreover, do you think as a child their dream job was to do this?…

Rooted in Racism

Police in southern France have been accused of racism after asking local hotel owners to report the arrival of Eastern European guests, in a bid to crackdown on certain crimes like pimping…a national police union official [pretended]…”(It) would not violate the values of the Republic by advocating snitching…in the fight against pimping speed is essential”…French authorities have taken a hard line against the presence of Roma people from Romania and Bulgaria, repeatedly bulldozing their unsanctioned settlements and expelling them from France…

For more examples of “sex trafficking” and “the fight against prostitution” as excuses for racism and xenophobia, see here, here, here and here.

Umpteen Thousand People Can’t Be Wrong

It takes a special kind of stupidity for a reporter to call for censorship:

Young girls are being sold online for sex…but not much is being done to stop…the most popular websites…Backpage.com…makes millions of dollars each month from “escort” and “body rub” listings.  Portland police…said it’s frustrating to know Backpage.com makes money off illegal activity, but if it went away, another similar site that is less cooperative with law enforcement would likely pop up…

Divided We Fall

when…Queer Strike “named and shamed” LGBTI organizations who they said were refusing to help decriminalize sex work in the [UK], the picture they gave was misleading…in most cases it simply wasn’t part of those organizations’ remits.  This is a particular issue under British charity law, which means they have to stick to their stated “charitable aims”…

Feet of Clay

I’m really pleased to see Reason doing a lot more on sex worker rights these days, and doubly glad to see “sex trafficking” in scare quotes:

…If you could put a date on when modern-day progressives fully re-inhabited the moral rigidity of their…forebears, it might be September 24, 2012.  That’s when Village Voice Media…split off…Backpage.com after a years-long, progressive-led campaign to shutter the site over claims that it facilitates “sex trafficking”.  “If street pimps go to jail for profiteering on under-age girls, should…Village Voice Media really get a pass?”  New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, the country’s most prominent progressive scold, wrote in a March 2012 column that blamed Backpage for the 2003 peddling of a 16-year-old prostitute, even though the site didn’t exist in 2003.  “Paradoxically, Village Voice began as an alternative newspaper to speak truth to power.  So it’s sad to see it accept business from pimps”…Kristof had the paradox almost exactly backward.  It is he and his fellow crusaders, not the buyers and sellers of controversial products and services, who are aggrandizing power at the expense of the little guy and mangling truth in the service of that unseemly goal…

True Colors

This title of this New Yorker article would seem to indicate a general piece about HIV in the American South, but it’s really much more about Deon Haywood, Women With a Vision and the arson which destroyed their offices on May 24th, 2012.  The responsible party was never caught, but here’s a clue:  the fire was started by piling up all the reproductive health models and posters in one room and setting them ablaze.

Think of the Children! (TW3 #23) Christy Mack

Sex rays can apparently enter one Lego construction and be randomly emitted from other Legos elsewhere, presumably via quantum tunneling:

[In January]…Christy Mack…tweeted [“Whoever builds me the best Lego creation to put in my house gets a blow job”]… The response on Twitter was enthusiastic, to say the least…Unfortunately for Mack’s fans, and toy store proprietors nationwide…the Lego challenge drew to an abrupt close…[when] lawyers for the company had contacted her, objecting to her usage of the Lego name…

Broken Record

They won’t stop until they extend the “gypsy whores” myth to every possible event:  “An undercover sting operation targeting prostitution and child sex trafficking netted five arrests in Augusta [Georgia]…because of the Masters Golf Tournament…

Another Example of Swedish “Feminism” (TW3 #36)

Who cares that a woman was stabbed?  The sadfeelz of naïve prudes are much more newsworthy!

Hookers are using…Airbnb…to turn prime Manhattan apartments into temporary brothels…One apartment…belongs to publicist Jessica Penzari…But when a hooker got slashed by a client in the…apartment over the price…Penzari got a call from cops…Airbnb put her up in the swanky InterContinental hotel in Times Square for two nights…and also paid to change her door locks, clean her apartment and replace her pillows and other belongings…Airbnb said…“we have zero tolerance for this activity”…

According to the Post, having a snack at your desk is “turning prime office space into a temporary restaurant”.

Under Every Bed

The underworld of prostitution and human trafficking is a dark one, often hidden from the public eye, but it exists in [Alabama] a lot more than one may think…”We used to be just a pass through state,” said Pat McCay with the Madison County Human Trafficking Task Force.  “They would come from Atlanta to Memphis…Now they are staying”…

The event which sparked all this portentous talk of vast criminal cartels?  A cop arrested a massage girl.  Of course the reporter has to get the usual self-important bile from a “legitimate” masseuse.

The Widening Gyre (TW3 #314) 

As the days pass with no sign of [missing 8-year-old] Relisha [Rudd], some…believe she may have been sold into a child sex trafficking operation.  They point to the wads of cash and expensive items Relisha’s mother and boyfriend flaunted on Facebook in the days following the little girl’s disappearance…Andrea Powell…of FAIR Girls…says, “There’s kids as young as 5, 6, 7.”  The average age of entry into this dark and devastating underworld is 13…Relisha RuddIn Washington, D.C. alone, the trafficking of children is a $100-million industry…

Given that the population of the Washington metro area is 5.8 million, that would make the “trafficking of children” worth over $5 billion in the US as a whole.  The level of mathematical illiteracy required to believe such a blatant absurdity constitutes a national crisis vastly greater than “sex trafficking” could ever be.

I Saw My Brain

Sheriff Grady Judd of Polk County, Fla…brought felony charges…in October 2013 against two girls, 12 and 14, after the suicide a month earlier of a third girl, Rebecca Sedwick…[Judd] charged the two girls, Katelyn Roman and Guadalupe Shaw, with aggravated stalking and released their names and mugshots…He made it sound like they posed an urgent risk…A month later, prosecutors dropped the charges after…failing to find evidence of [Judd’s claims]…Judd’s tendency to overdo it isn’t news to the voters who elected him…a…suspect [was shot]…68 times…he boasted of arresting a man for running an Internet pornography site out of his home…[he] took the basketball hoops out of the local jail and stopped supplying inmates with underwear…[he uses] pepper spray on detained juveniles

Micromanagement

Is there anything more worthless than an “authority’s” promise?

French investigators began taking DNA samples…from 527 male students and staff at a high school…as they searched for the assailant who raped a teenage girl on the closed campus…All those who received summonses…were warned that any refusal could land them in police custody…Authorities have promised to discard the DNA collected once a donor is eliminated as a suspect…

One Born Every Minute (TW3 #338)

A French fundamentalist priest repeatedly raped three teachers at the school he ran in…Paris during so-called exorcisms…[he] was indicted this week on charges of rape, cruelty and torture…he had first raped one teacher during an exorcism to purge her of the “evil” from a previous sexual assault…[then] used his “spiritual influence” to convince two [others]…to undergo similar exorcisms…[which included torture with] a broom, a toothbrush and scissors…Police became involved only last year when two of the women reported the rapes to authorities…[but] several years ago the…society of St. Pius X tried him in a religious hearing and sentenced him to two years in a monastery…

Traffic Jam (TW3 #343)

A strong criticism of the ethical bankruptcy of Project ROSE from academics studying “human trafficking”:

This program is ostensibly designed to “rescue” victims…of sexual exploitation, yet there is no form of victim identification at any point in the process.  Rather than attempting to assess whether someone is being coerced…they threaten the arrested person with prosecution…If sex trafficking victims/survivors do not meet the “perfect victim” criteria and are convicted, they will face mandatory minimum sentencing in Arizona’s particularly brutal prison system…It…bears little resemblance to anything that could be considered an anti-sex trafficking program…and…is a tragically absurd version of a “diversion” program.  Instead of keeping people out of the criminal justice system, it sweeps them up and funnels them in…Project ROSE is responsible for at least 100 percent more incarcerations than “diversions”…ASU social workers…are acting like colonial missionaries – they offer to “save” the sex workers they perceive as helpless and damaged, but should [they] not gratefully accept…“help,” then armed…men are at the ready – “for their own good.”

Crumbling House

We are aware of certain allegations that have surfaced…regarding Somaly’s history…We are treating these accusations with the utmost seriousness…the Foundation has recently launched an independent, third party investigation to further examine these claims …

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #349)

According to STRASS, sex workers are increasingly marginalized and insecure since the parliamentary debate on the criminalization of clients…attacks against prostitutes have increased…On the night of March 31…a Chinese prostitute was stabbed to death…“Her assailant was known to be a bad customer so she would have refused him if she had the means.  But she had been unable to work for several days, due to constant police operations targeting Chinese women, and was therefore unable to take the time to choose her customers” said a STRASS statement…The police harassment has been repeatedly denounced by Doctors of the World…

Surplus Women (TW3 #413)

Remember, three weeks ago they were saying there was no serial killer.

Two registered sex offenders have been arrested in connection with killing four women in Orange County…[targeting them] because of their ties to prostitution or escort services, and investigators suspect there are more victims yet to be identified…Franc Cano…and Steven Dean Gordon…were arrested Friday evening…

Uncommon Sense (TW3 #415)

the Upper House of the German Parliament, the Bundesrat, passed a resolution calling for an objective debate…amid plans by the ruling coalition of Conservatives and Social Democrats to reform the German Prostitution Act of 2002…The Bundesrat found that debates in the public sphere and in the media were still based on prejudices, a lack of knowledge and sensationalism.  The Bundesrat particularly opposed the blanket equation of prostitution and human trafficking…[and] opposed the introduction of mandatory health checks, judging them as unreasonable and hardly expedient…

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I’m passionately against sex-trafficking, and on the whole I do not support sex work.  If the existence of the sex industry hides trafficked victims, which it does, then I’d rather there’s no sex industry at all, because while the willing sex worker is able to do other work, the trafficked victim has no such choice.  I was an advocate of the Swedish model until a Swedish friend of mine sent me a blog post that explained how it’s making life worse for sex workers (even coerced ones), contrary to what the Swedes and well-meaning Christian community might have us believe.  I’ve also keenly noticed that in all the sex trafficking discussions and films I’ve seen, nobody – absolutely NOBODY – asked the prostitutes, the very people who know what it is they need, and what the situation is really like on the ground.  So I’m interested knowing what, in your opinion, do sex workers need?  What kind of system, law, or facility should be in place to better protect and help sex workers?  Is it possible to help and rescue trafficked victims, whilst not interfering with willing sex workers?  What would actually help rescuers identify and free trafficked victims in the sex trade?  Finally, why have YOU chosen to be a sex worker?  I’m asking not to judge you or to preach or change your mind.  I just want to hear the other side.

I’ll try as best I can to answer all your questions; if I miss anything, please reply and ask it again.  You may not like everything I’m going to say, but you seem like someone who’s genuinely trying to understand so I hope you won’t reject uncomfortable truths out of hand merely because they do indeed make you uncomfortable.

Amerikaz Most wantedThe first question you need to ask yourself is, what is it about sex work you don’t “support”?  If you merely mean that you can’t envision yourself as ever being in a position to either sell or buy sex, the statement makes perfect sense; I could say that “I don’t support the rap industry” because I don’t like rap and therefore contribute no money to that segment of the music business.  However, my powerful dislike for rap does not give me the right to deny that it undoubtedly gives pleasure to those who do like it, and provides a creative outlet for people who nonetheless could do “other work” under far less satisfying conditions and for vastly less money.  Nor would it be right for me to demonize rap and blame it for things that derive from the nastier portions of human nature; these problems would still exist even if rap could somehow be eliminated by establishing a totalitarian state whose police had the power to violate people’s rights at will in order to further the War on Rap.  It is never right, moral, justifiable or even possible to stop people from pursuing peaceful, consensual, private activity, whether that activity involves music, books, sex or drugs.  You mention the prohibitionist myth that the sex industry “hides” the existence of coerced workers, but this is no more true than saying the agricultural industry “hides” the existence of coerced farm workers or the domestic service industry “hides” the existence of coerced domestics.  The sad fact is that some human beings are willing to directly subject their fellow creatures to coercion, and most human beings are willing to allow others with fancy titles and interesting costumes to inflict coercion as long as that violence achieves results they like, whether those results be enlarging their country’s territory, filling the state’s coffers, inflicting their moral agenda on strangers or producing cheap food and consumer electronics.  Most people who position themselves as enemies of “sex trafficking”, yet seem relatively unconcerned with other forms of coerced labor, do so for two reasons: first, that they do not themselves buy or sell sexual services; and second, that they wish to stop others whom they do not even know from doing so.  If these same people were constantly calling for the abolition of other industries in which some degree of coercion occurs (such as agriculture, domestic service, textiles, electronics and the prison industry), their position would at least be logically consistent (if naively Utopian).  But that is not the case:  they are perfectly willing to accept exploitative and coercive, even quasi-slave-like, treatment of agricultural laborers, domestics, sweatshop workers and those arrested under prohibitionist laws; it is somehow only sexual exchange, coerced or otherwise, which inflames their ire.

I am really pleased that you recognize the necessity of listening to sex workers; that is the major point of my essay “Let Me Help”, which I think would answer most of your questions.  It contains links to other essays of mine (and to resources outside this blog) which will help you to understand not only that very few sex workers are coerced in any meaningful sense of the word, but that most of the people “authorities” label “trafficked” are not the helpless victims in need of “rescue” that they are painted as being in exploitation films and prohibitionist propaganda.  These people themselves say this over and over again, but as you pointed out nobody wants to listen because the truth conflicts with the narrative they prefer to impose upon it.  And one thing upon which virtually all sex workers agree is that decriminalization – the removal of all laws which treat sex work as somehow magically different from all other forms of work – is absolutely the best way of dramatically reducing the harms which plague the industry under criminalized, semi-criminalized or quasi-criminalized regimes.  My recent essay “Treating Sex Work As Work” sets out the case in exhaustive and thoroughly-cited detail, explaining how every attempt to control sex work by criminal law results in causing far more harm than it prevents.

I chose the job that suits my needsIf you want a longish answer to your last question, you should probably read my three-part “Genesis of a Harlot”; however, I can give you a much shorter answer which is at the same time more universal.  I chose sex work for the same reason about 98.5% of all sex workers do:  it was the best fit for my needs at the time.  Sex work is both more lucrative and more flexible than any other kind of work available to most people; in its most basic form it requires no special equipment, starting capital, intensive training, licenses or tests.  And though those characteristics are attractive to many people, they are especially attractive to members of certain marginalized populations – including, ironically, women with prior prostitution arrest records – who find it difficult or impossible to secure or maintain conventional employment.  In other words, the more laws, rules and regulations a society allows government to inflict upon it, the larger the fraction of people who will be driven into underground economies by their inability to get other work.  The more a government tries to control people’s work, movement and lives – including their sex lives – the larger the sex industry will become; prohibitionists are therefore their own worst enemies, because the more they crack down, the more people they push into conditions under which sex work is the best available means of support.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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