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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on October 26th; I have modified it slightly to fit the format of this blog.

As long-time readers know, I’m very fond of science fiction and fantasy; the difference between the two is that the latter describes a world which (by our understanding of the laws of the universe) could not actually exist, while the former describes a world which could but does not (at least yet).  As some have pointed out, though, the term “science fiction” is really too limited; very often the world described in such a story differs from our own not due to some scientific discovery or technical development, but in a social or cultural way.  For this reason, some writers and critics prefer the term “speculative fiction”, which broadens the genre to include things like alternate-history stories; my tale “For I Have Sinned”, for example, imagines what our modern world might be like had the Catholic Church won the Crusades and successfully suppressed the Protestant Reformation.  The story is an example of a type called a dystopia; while a “Utopia” is a fictional world better than our own1984 (at least in the writer’s estimation), a dystopia is one that is worse.  But just as the traditional science fiction of yesterday (e.g. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Destination Moon) can become the science fact of today, so can what was once the stuff of dystopian speculation become the true and horrible political reality.

The process is usually very gradual, just as technological development is; a poisonous idea becomes established in one place and spreads to others, expanding in scope once it’s in place.  The wicked Swedish model of prostitution law, which defines women as moral imbeciles and men as their evil oppressors, is sold to the delusional, the misandrist and the ignorant as a means of “protecting” women from dirty, bad sex, and though it has been repeatedly beaten back in England and Scotland it has now taken root in Northern Ireland:

The Northern Ireland Assembly has voted by 81 to 10 in favour of making it a crime to pay for sex…Northern Ireland is the first part of the UK to vote in favour of the measure.  There is still some way to go before the bill becomes law, but the prospect of a ban on paying for sex in Northern Ireland has taken a significant step forward…Opponents included Justice Minister David Ford who claimed it would be difficult to enforce…

“Difficult to enforce” is an understatement; the US has criminalized both the buying and selling of sex for a century now, and though only a tiny fraction of all such transactions are caught by police it takes “sting” operations and other violations of civil liberties to accomplish it.  In other words, even if you believe that stopping consensual behavior is somehow a good thing, prohibition can’t actually accomplish that.  It does, however, provide a useful excuse for the construction of a vast police state; “protecting children from porn” was the rationale for establishing the UK’s internet censorship regime, but it’s now being extended to allow suppression of any viewpoint of which “authorities” disapprove.  Nor will they be content with merely silencing such people:

People found guilty of Internet “trolling” in Britain could be jailed for up to two years…following a number of high-profile cases of abusive and threatening behaviour on Twitter.  Justice Secretary Chris Grayling…[said] “This is a law to combat cruelty — and marks our determination to take a stand against a baying cyber-mob”…last month a man was jailed for 18 weeks for what prosecutors described as “a campaign of hatred” against a [politician].  “These internet trolls are cowards who are poisoning our national life…” Grayling said.  “That is why we are determined to quadruple the current six-month sentence”…The government proposes to amend two existing laws to extend the maximum jail term and also the time limit for prosecutions, from six months to three years…

I edited this item to remove the cases politicians are using to win the support of the thoughtless and focus on their real motive: shielding politicians from criticism.  Thoughtcrime is now a very real offense in Britain; perhaps you read about this case:

Robul Hoque…[was convicted for] his collection of Japanese Manga or Anime-style images alone…His barrister Richard Bennett said:  “These are not what would be termed as paedophilic images.  These are cartoons”…Police found the images when they seized Hoque’s computer…none were of real people.  They were classified as prohibited images as they depicted young girls, some in school uniforms…exposing themselves or taking part in sexual activity…Six years ago he was prosecuted for having “Tomb Raider-style” computer-generated pictures of fictional children…

That’s right, he was convicted for having drawings of a taboo subject.  Drawings.  And pay attention to that line about how they found the forbidden doodles, because their power to search you for “evidence” (or any other excuse) is increasing all the time:

Registered gun owners in the United Kingdom are now subject to unannounced visits to their homes under new guidance that allows police to inspect firearms storage without a warrant.  The new policy from the British Home Office went into effect Oct. 15…Britain’s gun owners were subject to the home visits before the update, but the inspection had to be conducted with prior notice…the Association of Chief Police Officers [claimed] the revamped guideline does not grant police any new powers…ACPO is also encouraging [informants] to call a new Crimestoppers hotline to report any [people they want harassed by police]…The Home Office is [pretending] that legitimate guns could easily be stolen and wind up in the hands of terrorists…

Of course, guns aren’t the only things which terrorists might use; knives, household chemicals, cars, computers, money…why, the list is endless!  Clearly the police need the power to “inspect the storage” of those things in private homes, without warning or warrant.  And if the owners aren’t home when they arrive, well, in the interests of national security the police should clearly be given the power to let themselves in, and if the place gets ransacked in the process you can be sure those in charge will dismiss any claims the householders make with the assurance that proper procedures were followed.

time machineAll of us are time travelers, and though the process is both slow and unidirectional, it inevitably brings us into a world very different from the one where we started.  Unfortunately, we cannot merely hop into the TARDIS and return to the past or visit a different future if we don’t like the one in which we find ourselves; we are stuck there, like it or not.  Tyrannies don’t materialize without warning overnight, nor are they usually imposed from outside any more; the world around us is a prison we have allowed the powerful to build, stone by stone and bar by bar.  They capitalized on our fears, our intolerance, our greed, our envy, our laziness and our wrath, and though we could have stopped them many times over we were always more concerned with what other people were saying, doing or thinking, and thus handed our self-proclaimed “leaders” the weapons they needed to dominate us all.  Welcome to the future, and if you think all the things I described above are hunky-dory just wait until the inexorable action of legal precedent brings your face under the boot next.

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Abolishing prostitution is a complete fantasy, and those deluded by it…sacrifice the lives of real human beings on their altar of sexual purity.  -  Joyce Arthur

Rough Trade 

A Delhi court has sentenced four youths to 10 years rigorous imprisonment for abducting and gangraping a Rwandan refugee, saying merely because she was working as a sex worker does not confer the right upon anyone to violate her dignity…lynch mob

Think of the Children! 

Norah Langweiler…was…hired as Adolescent Health Training Coordinator of Mississippi First, a non-profit specializing in education advocacy and reform…she would design and implement a training center to train educators and medical professionals on…sex education…an…online harassment…group…mined through Langweiler’s Facebook, Etsy, and Twitter accounts to find and repost any “objectionable” material they could find on her, current or years-old…The incriminating “stuff” the small guild dug up included a link to a cartoon about vibrators, mild cursing, and…a photograph of Yoda-shaped pasties…[after a politician joined them]…she was asked…to resign from her position…

The Scarlet Letter

Flint, Michigan has one of the highest crime rates in the US, so cops there have decided to give up on that and use their time trying to destroy the lives of people engaging in peaceful commerce instead:

Suspected Flint prostitutes and johns will be the target of a new police social media tactic to stamp out the world’s oldest profession…police will begin posting on its Facebook page the names and photos of suspects who have been arrested and arraigned on prostitution-related charges…Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said he believes more-severe punishments are needed to deter prostitution…[an amateur circle-jerk he participates in] has proposed legislation that would change the crime to be a five-year felony…

Scrambled Eggs

In the entire history of futurism, has any futurist ever been right about anything?

One of the developers of the contraceptive pill has predicted his own invention will become redundant as more people choose to be sterilised, making sex purely recreational by 2050…Professor Carl Djerassi said increasing numbers of babies being born through IVF…will lead to men and women choosing to have their eggs and sperm frozen at a young age…people would then be sterilised out of convenience because there would be no need to have sex to produce children…

Above the Law 

Some rapist cops carefully plan their assaults:  “A..Wisconsin [cop]…has been convicted of sexual assault of a child…and possessing child pornography.  Daniel Barber [abused]…several boys, including two toddlers…he [used]…Craigslist and Facebook to connect with parents in need of baby sitters…”  While some prefer to simply take advantage of opportunities:

[Florida cop] Carlos Xavier Lopez…responded to a call about a possible domestic incident [then] a few days [later]…he returned for a followup…he…forced himself on a…woman…and…kissed her, pressing his tongue into her mouth…he told her he “could last for hours” and that “I’m not going to get caught.”  Then…he forced his hand inside her underwear and touched her, so she attempted to pretend someone was coming into the garage so he would stop…[he] followed her and tried to guide her toward a bedroom…Lopez allegedly said he would have had sex with her if members of her family hadn’t been home at the time…

Gingerbread House

Look beneath the Orwellian language:

Every year in Texas 46,000 kids will go missing…More than 6,500 of them will become victims of sex trafficking…the…Refuge for Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking…is working to open the refuge ranch where victims of human trafficking can get all the help they need.  “Everything will be self-contained on the 50 acres so that in the beginning the girls don’t have to be moved outside of that and that gives them some safety and consistency”…Girls ages 11-17 will be able to stay as long as they need…

“Girls don’t have to be moved” = “girls won’t be free to leave”.  “Safety and consistency” = “security and isolation”.  “Stay as long as they need” = “indefinite, open-ended sentence”.  And given that only 6 of that “missing children” figure are actually abducted by strangers, it’d be a good trick for “more than 6500″ to be “sex trafficked”.

Sex Work is Work

Bitch Magazine eschews the usual nonsense about whether sex work is “bad” or “empowering”, instead treating it as work and interviewing three sex workers whose names you know:  Mistress Matisse answers “How Does a Dominatrix Do Her Taxes?”, Melissa Gira Grant talks about “Looking at Sex Work from a Labor Perspective”, and Emi Koyama discusses “The Social and Legal Reality of Sex Work”.

Droit du Seigneur (TW3 #132)

A group of [Nigerian] sex workers…beat up a top politician…over his refusal to pay for services rendered…Eye witness [sic] said that the prostitutes…began to drag him along the…road, shouting, “pay us our money for the service we do for you”…his clothes had been torn to shreds before his friends…moved to rescue him, while pleading for forgiveness from the sex workers…

Theatrics Tinder propaganda

If this supposed “crime” is so common, how come the only pictures we have of it are always fake ones?

Fake accounts on Tinder, using pictures of models with cuts and bruises, have been set up as part of a campaign against sex trafficking.  Dublin-based advertising agency EightyTwenty and the Immigrant Council of Ireland are behind the scheme.  Profiles initially show a picture of an attractive person, but when users swipe to see more photos they are then confronted with images depicting abuse that victims of trafficking are [supposedly] subjected to…

Policing for Profit 

The seminars offered police officers some useful tips on seizing property…Don’t bother with jewelry (too hard to dispose of) and computers (“everybody’s got one already”), the experts counseled.  Do go after flat screen TVs, cash and cars.  Especially nice cars.  In one seminar…Harry S. Connelly Jr., the city attorney of Las Cruces, N.M., called them “little goodies”…And…described how [cops]…could not wait to [steal] one man’s “exotic vehicle” outside a local bar…In September, Albuquerque, which has long seized the cars of suspected drunken drivers, began taking them from men suspected of trying to pick up prostitutes, landing seven cars during a one-night sting.  Arkansas has expanded its seizure law to allow the police to take cash and assets with suspected connections to terrorism, and Illinois moved to make boats fair game under its D.W.I. laws…In Mercer County, N.J., a prosecutor preaches the “gospel” that forfeiture is not just for drug arrests — cars can be seized in shoplifting and statutory rape cases as well…Officials offered advice on dealing with skeptical judges, mocked Hispanics whose cars were seized, and made comments that, the Institute for Justice said, gave weight to the argument that civil forfeiture encourages decisions based on the value of the assets to be seized…

Pimping the Pimp (TW3 #403) 

Annie Lobert of “Liars for Jesus” is back in the news again, and the source who pointed this story out to me has a bit more info on her.  It turns out she went by the stage name “Fallon” and used to work the casinos; she was never a streetwalker, never had a “pimp” (unless you count her current husband, Oz Fox of the Christian rock band Stryper) and has continually inflated her stories of beatings and the like for the past eight years.  Remember her “prostitution glossary“, in which she pretended agency escorts use terms cops claim are from the narrow little world of pimped streetwalkers?  Yeah.  Anyway, this “Destiny House” is actually the second mansion some would-be rescuer has allowed her to use; she lost the first one because she couldn’t prove her “charity” actually accomplished anything, and now that she’s about to lose this one she’s crying for public funding with the help of a reporter best known for Area 51 stories.  You just can’t make this stuff up.

Drawing Lines

Once again:  No, adding a camera won’t protect you from prostitution charges,  even though the distinction is total bullshit:

Porn stars get paid to have sex.  Prostitutes get paid to have sex.  But porn is legal, and prostitution is not.  And now porn stars are letting fans pay for the chance to have sex with them on camera…While at first glance the concept of someone bidding thousands of dollars…to have sex with a porn star in front of a video crew might seem like prostitution, adult industry experts say it’s not…Marc Randazza…explained that the differentiation between pornography and prostitution generally refers back to a 1988 California Supreme Court case, People v Freeman

See No Evil (TW3 #421) premature nursing

A picture showing a new mother breastfeeding her premature baby for the first time was removed by Facebook after a user complained it contained “offensive” nudity.  Emma Bond, 24, said she wanted to share the image of the “special moment” with Carene, who was born 12 weeks early…Facebook said breastfeeding photos have never been against the firm’s Community Standards, but nipples had to be covered or concealed.  It said the picture had been removed in error and had since been reinstated…Sarah Crown, editor of parenting website Mumsnet, said…”We have a problem with photos of women breastfeeding on Facebook because they involve breasts”…

Whither Canada? (TW3 #423)

Canada’s new anti-prostitution law was passed this week despite mountains of evidence of his harmfulness and unconstitutionality.  The city government of Vancouver has protested the new law, strongly implying that it will refuse to enforce it, and steadfast ally Joyce Arthur had this to say about it:

…The misnamed “Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act” will accomplish neither, because the main unwritten goal of the law, bluntly stated by Injustice Minister Peter MacKay, is to “abolish prostitution“…the law is a recipe for violence against sex workers, who]…will be pushed into more isolated areas, forced to work alone, pressured into rushing transactions, harassed by the police, less able to access social and health services, and subjected to increased stigma and discrimination.  New prohibitions on advertising will put many indoor workers onto the street…Kerry Porth…of Pivot Legal Society…said…”The new laws are so confusing that no one — not even the government itself — really knows what activities will be illegal and what will be legal”…a Charter challenge is all but certain. Sex workers will win again, this time for good.

If Men Were Angels

A…teacher [named Tariq Ahmad] is wanted [for]…the sexual abuse and rape of two female students at a private Islamic school in Florida…one…[needed] “substantial surgical repair”…the school knew about the alleged incidents, which happened between 2006 and 2008, but did nothing about them…

Safe Targets (TW3 #439)

Would he have been prosecuted if not for the Vice article?  Doubtful.

A Fairbanks man arrested…after a two-month investigation is accused of posing as a [cop] and trying to blackmail local prostitutes for cash…Jase O. Connors, 26…[is only in trouble because he's] not a certified police officer…none of the victims who came forward to discuss the case…will face prosecution as a result of doing so…

Of course, now cops and prosecutors know their names and details.

Whore Detection

Note that she doesn’t question the prohibitionist laws that both reinforce this stigma and raise it from merely insulting to actually dangerous:

The online conversation about women of color being profiled as sex workers made me think about my own stories…I [am] a…twenty-something [black] woman [married to] a white man in his mid-thirties…[I get] propositions a few times each year…Stop Street Harassment…has found…that dark-skinned women are more likely than light-skinned women to be asked questions like, “How much?” by men in public spaces…

Banishment (TW3 #444)

Red Light Legal…has called on the Oakland City Council to repeal new rules allowing the city to force landlords to evict alleged prostitutes…the Oakland City Attorney’s Office…[pretends that] the city won’t actually use the legislation to target sex workers…[but rather only the] motels and hotels [they live in.  City Attorney Barbara] Parker…demanded [newspapers censor their truthful coverage of the law]…and print [city propaganda] instead, [vomiting out the myth that] “Prostitutes are…victimized and brutalized by the pimps, Johns, and others who prey on them and force them into that life“…Despite Parker’s [lies]…the law still leaves the door open [to persecute sex workers on the whim of cops or prosecutors]…

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What is wrong with a contract to sell sexual services between consenting adults who enter voluntarily into the transaction, neither of whom is harmed by the exchange?…nothing at all.  No harm is done here, so why should this be regarded as a crime?  -  Charles Hill 

Subtle Pimping

Two “artists” thought it would be “artistic” to exploit the poorest, most tragic, heroin-addicted Russian streetwalkers they could cajole by photographing them as fashion models:  “Loral Amir and Gigi Ben Artzi constructed studio portraits of heroin-addicted prostitutes…adorning their subjects in [designer] clothing…[removes] them from the context of their daily lives…”  The results are predictably horrifying.

Crying for Nanny

Nick Kristof knows these lawsuits haven’t got a leg to stand on, and can’t be so ignorant that he doesn’t recognize the havoc which would result should one succeed.  But as with Somaly Mam, he pretends that he’s not responsible for promoting lies and myths which harm many thousands of people, and washes his hands when they blow up in his face:

Two young women who say they were…sold on Backpage at age 15…are suing the company in Boston in federal court.  Another suit is winding its way through Washington State courts, pursued by three girls who say they…were sold for sex…when they were 13…The suit charges that Backpage has “perfected a business model that profits substantially from aiding…pimps and traffickers in the sexual exploitation of children”…

Surplus Women

A British financier has been arrested on suspicion of murder after two [sex workers] were found dead inside the bloodied walls of his luxury apartment in Hong Kong…The body of one was heavily decomposed, stuffed inside a large suitcase left on the balcony…She was nearly decapitated and her hands and legs were bound with ropes…The other…was found with her throat cut, lying naked in the living room.  She had been stabbed multiple times…

With Folded Hands

Cowardice disguised as class warfare:

A brave test pilot is dead and another one critically injured—in the service of a millionaire boondoggle thrill ride…in the wake of this tragedy out at Mojave—not even the first time a SpaceShipTwo test has killed someone—we’re going to hear a lot about exploration, about pioneers and frontiers…and we should call bullshit on thatSpaceship Two crash…Virgin Galactic is building the world’s most expensive roller coaster…When it costs the lives of the workers building that system, we should stop accepting it…

Except neither Wired writers (nor those at Time or The Guardian) nor politicians nor rich people get to decide what any given individual thinks is worth risking his life for; the only person who gets to decide that is the individual himself.  And it doesn’t matter how stupid or pointless anyone else thinks it is, because his life is not theirs to manage.

Divided We Fall

When will Gay, Inc finally admit prostitution laws disproportionately affect its constituency?

…an Egyptian court convicted eight men for…their appearance in a video…depicting…the country’s first same-sex wedding party…Egypt…has no laws against homosexuality…the law that was used to prosecute the men is one…meant to rid the newly independent Egypt of the licensed brothels that had existed under British rule…it banned prostitution of all forms…and…also prohibited what it called “debauchery”—without actually defining [it]…

Enabling Oppression

Even some who believe in the “sex trafficking” myth are beginning to place the blame where it belongs:

…human trafficking is a parasite of legal prohibitionism…It is time for students of trafficking to call out states for creating the conditions that enable this crime…legislative and police efforts to suppress the sex trade are counterproductive.  They drive sex-for-money…further underground…You would think that Americans would know better.  Their first experiment in prohibition…should have brought home the message that prohibitionism cannot kill…commerce.  It only cordons it off inside a zone of non-regulated trade…The link between prohibitionism and trafficking has been most clearly documented in America’s war on undocumented immigration

The Rape Question Latiqwa Mayes

Neofeminists claim that false rape accusations are too rare to even consider, and that we live in a “rape culture” where rapists get away with it:

…Latiqwa Mayes was walking down [a Baltimore] street…when she saw…Donald Robinson…[who] had reportedly once assaulted her friend…Mayes was not happy that he didn’t receive a harsher sentence, so…in retaliation [she screamed] “He raped me!  He’s a sex offender!” …Almost immediately, a mob lead by Mayes’ father proceeded to beat Robinson and…pepper spray [him]…hours later, he died…Mayes and her father…have been sentenced to…six years…

The Pygmalion Fallacy

Though my opinion on “sex robot” nonsense is well-known, this critic of it reveals that he’s just as ignorant about human sexuality (and sex work) as those he attacks, not to mention incredibly prudish and anti-whore:

David…Levy’s vision in Love and Sex With Robots is…profoundly creepy, and has troublesome implications now that sex robots are quickly becoming a reality.  He…[presents] sex robots as…the inevitable and desirable future…and it won’t just be the lonely men who are the usual clientele of prostitutes…he…even retrieves the long-discredited defense of pornography as a marital aid…Levy’s understanding of sex is almost entirely degraded…it’s the view of the chronic masturbator and porn addict…healthy sexual desire does not take as its object a mere sensation or state, but a person …the recognition of pornography addiction as a serious problem…is…evidence that something goes wrong when sexual desire is directed away from people…Just as with prostitution, the more sophisticated their illusions become, the more intense will be the guilt that comes after their mechanical gimmickry has done the job…

Show and Tell

It’s Ashley Madison’s turn next:

The Federal Trade Commission has fined UK-based JDI Dating for using fake, computer-generated profiles to trick users into upgrading to paid memberships.  JDI…must pay a $616,165 fine and reform its practices.  The case is the first for the FTC against an online dating site.  JDI allowed users to set up profiles on its sites for free, and then sent them fake messages purportedly from people living nearby who wanted to meet…The users were unable to respond without setting up paid memberships…

Something Rotten in Sweden (TW3 #36)

demand in the sex work marketEconomist Charles Hill explains why “end demand” strategies are not only morally bankrupt, but have the opposite effect their proponents claim:  “Economic analysis suggests that this policy may not have the desired effect.  In fact, I contend that it might actually have the perverse effect of increasing the supply of sex services…”  I’m not even going to try to synopsize this, but it’s definitely worth your time even if your eyes glaze over once the  statistical analysis starts.

King of the Hill

This is mostly about another rescue industry gimmick, but it contains the announcement that “San Diego is the 13th highest child prostitution area in the country, according to the FBI…1.2 million children are trafficked every year

Think of the Children! (TW3 #40)

[before] Arbor Day this year, Pornhub launched its “Give America Wood” campaign…to plant a tree for every 100 videos watched in the “Big Dick” category…[the NGO which got the check] “politely requested” not to be identified.  Pornhub ran into the same reluctance when they ran their  “Save the Boobs” campaign…in 2012…Komen…publicly rejected the money…Pornhub split the cash between three smaller unidentified organizations…this month, James Deen…was rejected by…a slew of major breast cancer organizations.  Instead, he’ll donate 50 percent of all profits from his website during…October to smaller organizations like The Rose and Living Beyond Breast Cancer…

On the Simultaneous Having and Eating of Cake

the state Supreme Court decided that dancers at one Las Vegas club are employees, not independent contractors, and are entitled to be paid minimum wage.  The unanimous ruling…was issued in a class-action lawsuit filed…on behalf of dancers at Sapphire Gentlemen’s Club…Clark County District Court…hearings [will] determine how much more than 6,600 current and former dancers at the club are owed…the amount could reach $40 million, including back wages, plus the return of “house fees” the dancers paid the club to be allowed to work…

Original Sin

Yvonne Zimmerman & Letitia Campbell on “sex trafficking” mythology’s roots in the evangelical/neofeminist alliance:

…As the members of the alliance worked together to combat pornography, some Christian groups began to incorporate [feminist] rhetoric …Soon…members of religiously conservative groups were rehearsing arguments about the degradation of women, violence against women, and even women’s inequality…the feminist-evangelical anti-pornography alliance was instrumental in setting the stage for the contemporary…anti-trafficking movement…the rhetoric of “sexual slavery”…appears much earlier (and with different meaning) in radical feminist critiques…[and] concerns about the media’s sexualization of ever-younger girls…remain a staple of the contemporary anti-trafficking movement…

Whither Canada?

As vile as any similar badge-lickery from the US:

Since three key prostitution laws were overturned nearly a year ago, Ottawa police have struggled with how to [harass sex workers and clients]…Insp. Mike Laviolette…[pretends] he wants to…keep an eye out for human trafficking…[and lied that] the average age of sex slaves…was 18 years old…

The rest includes a leering, lip-smacking description of a sleazy female cop used to trick men so they can be abducted and forced into “john school” and subjected to propaganda about “the dark and dangerous aspects of prostitution“.

Whither Canada? (TW3 #423)

A Liberal senator will propose more amendments to the Conservative government’s controversial anti-prostitution bill as the clock ticks down on a court-imposed deadline…George Baker said…he intends to introduce 15 amendments…seeking to remove provisions which would criminalize those who sell sex…

Buttons, Bags & Banknotes (TW3 #429) 

Feminist T-shirts proudly worn by [British celebrities and politicians] are made in “sweatshop” conditions by migrant women paid just 62p [99¢] an hour…on…Mauritius…[the workers] sleep 16 to a room – and earn much less than the average wage on the island.  The £45 [$72] T-shirts carry the defiant slogan “This is what a feminist looks like”.  But one of the thousands of machinists declared:  “We do not see ourselves as feminists.  We see ourselves as trapped”…

Dysphemisms Galore (Traffic Updates) 

It’s good I got out of owning an escort service when I did, but how can even cops mouth these ridiculous dysphemisms with a straight face?

Dunwoody [Georgia] police said… they have busted a prostitution ring masquerading as high-end modeling outfits where clients paid $300 or more an hour.  Police have charged the owners and operators of Atlanta Fantasies and Ashley’s of Atlanta with human trafficking for sexual servitude, keeping a place of prostitution and racketeering.  Charged so far are Robert Tyler…and Donna Allen…Some 26 women — all adults — were identified as “victims” of the organization…

Imaginary Crises (TW3 #441) 

Mike Siegel corrects bad “campus rape crisis” math:

…the…0.2 percent rate touted in a recent op-ed…misses the mark because it uses the wrong numbers and some poor assumptions…The…National Crime Victimization Survey…indicates about a 10% lifetime risk or about 3% college-age risk…the one-in-five stat is inconsistent with another number claimed by advocates of new policies:  a reporting rate of 12%.  If you assume a reporting rate near that and use the actual number of reporting assaults on major campuses, you get a rate between 3% and 5%…Further research is consistent with this rate…Mark Perry finds 3-5%.  Texas schools show 5-6%.  NCVS and RAINN stats indicate 2-5%.  Basically, any time we use actual numbers based on objectives surveys, we find the number of women who are in danger of sexual violence during their time on campus is 1-in-20, not 1-in-5…if one in five women on college campuses are being sexually assaulted…we should shut down every college in the country since they are the most dangerous places for women in the entire United States…

Lack of Evidence (TW3 #444) Tim Osrin

This isn’t the first time that South African swim coach has beat up a woman:

Tim Osrin claimed that he had never assaulted anyone before but had mistaken [Cynthia] Joni for a “prostitute” and “snapped”.  Now, a…sex-worker has come forward to claim that earlier this year, Osrin told her to “fuck off out of my street”, before hitting her so hard that he knocked a tooth out of her mouth.  The woman laid a charge of assault against Osrin…At least five sex-workers who operate in the area attested to [her] injuries and alleged they had also been harassed…

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There’s something deeply troubling about taking a person who’s at ease with her past and turning her into a victim.  -  Wendy Lyon

Think of the Children! 

An angry mother was horrified to learn she has booked a family break in a hotel the same weekend a swingers party is being held.  The woman believes it is inappropriate for the “Halloween fancy dress” bash to be held at the luxury Silver Springs Moran Hotel in Cork [on Halloween weekend]…

Lack of Evidence

It’s not only cops who think that believing a woman is a whore is grounds for assaulting her:

A [South African] swimming school owner and well-known cyclist was arrested…after he…beat up a…domestic worker in broad daylight…then excused his behaviour by saying he had believed she was a prostitute…Cynthia Joni, 44…was on her way to work…on October 2 when a…man leapt from his car and slapped her repeatedly, then threw her to the ground, without any explanation…Her…attacker was later identified as…Tim Osrin…a…member of the neighbourhood’s “security committee” [who] lives close to where the incident took place…

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

The investigator leading the probe into the Secret Service’s 2012 prostitution scandal quietly resigned…after he was implicated in a prostitution entanglement of his own…David Nieland was observed entering and leaving a building that was under surveillance as part of a [sting]…in Broward County, Fla.  Authorities later interviewed a prostitute who identified Nieland in a photo and said he had paid her for sex…Jian Ghomeshi title card

He Said, She Said

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation dismissed Jian Ghomeshi…as host of the cultural affairs show Q…Ghomeshi…claimed he was fired due to…his [BDSM] sexual behaviour…[and says] he’s been hounded by false allegations from an ex-girlfriend…The Toronto Star reported…that three women have made allegations of violent, non-consensual  assaults…[and] a former employee of the CBC claimed [he]…sexually harassed [her]…his lawyers announced…that he intends to sue the CBC for $50-million…

Subtle Pimping

Naturally, they don’t speak up for sex workers or donate any of the money to our cause:

Stephanie Berger…co-founded the Poetry Brothel with Nicholas Adamski in 2008…They concocted the idea of a turn-of-the-century bordello – historically the realm of artists and miscreants – where writers could present their work in a more vibrant, visceral setting.  They would dress up, invent alter egos, and sell not their bodies but their poems…“Sex work and poetry are two of the oldest professions,” says Berger.  “Both are incredibly intimate acts that explore love, fantasy and the underside of people”…

Decentralization

what…has Titcoin done to be adult-industry friendly, other than insert “Tit” into its name?…For Titcoin to be desirable to sex workers, it’d need to feel like it was offering certain advantages that Bitcoin wasn’t.  It would need to embrace the community of sex workers who are discriminated against by the mainstream financial system, not just try to make money off of them…

One Born Every Minute

Two teenage boys from Norway…posted…fake advertisements on a website offering escort services.  The ads offered sex with women in exchange for gift vouchers which had to be purchased in advance via the website.  The crafty duo were set to net 150,000 kroner ($22,600) before the website owners became suspicious and alerted the police…

Saving Them From Themselves

a Michigan Sheriff’s Department has gotten itself involved in…sexting…[cops have] already confiscated 31 phones…investigations will continue to turn up even more phones, containing more evidence, and so on, until… well, until what, exactly?…at some point, an arbitrary line will be drawn to end the investigation…High school students…may find themselves facing child pornography charges…

See No Evil Tony the Tiger

One of the most ludicrous prosecutions to arise from [the UK's “extreme porn”] law was the infamous “tiger porn” case, in which Andrew Holland was prosecuted for possessing a video of…a woman having sex with a tiger…When the case finally reached court, the judge requested that the video be played with sound – something the police hadn’t thought of doing. During the scene, the “tiger” turned to the camera and said “that’s grrrrreat!”…It’s clear that police and CPS training doesn’t include the skills to distinguish between a real tiger and a pretend one.  Holland was acquitted.  But during the legal process, he had been branded a sex offender, experienced vigilante attacks, and been prevented from seeing his daughter for a year.  He suffered a heart attack during this time…

Scapegoats

[Jerald Hill,]  the president…of a Missouri Baptist conference center is out of a job after [cops]…arrested him for allegedly arranging to have sex with [an undercover police] dog…on Craigslist…

End Demand

A municipal lawmaker in [St Petersburg, Russia] has drafted a bill introducing heavy fines for the clients of prostitutes, but they’ll be forgotten if client agrees to marry the sex worker…In the explanatory note attached to the bill Galkina [pretends that the Swedish model works as advertised]…

First They Came for the Hookers…

This is mostly typical “sex trafficking” garbage, but there are a couple of interesting points; one is the claim that there are “25,000 victims” in Chicago, due of course to highways but also because of all the farming that goes on within city limits (“large agriculture…base”).  But the other is an expansion of the increasingly-popular lie that all commercial sex involves “sex trafficking”:

…FBI agents…called for more public exposure to the “Johns”…who keep demand high.  They strongly suggested [censoring] the words ‘Gentleman’s Club” and…plastering their faces on the front pages of newspapers.  Public humiliation, they said, does make a huge difference.  The problem “will stop…if men stop buying sex”…a stronger…ordinance…makes it more difficult for adult bookstores, strip clubs and other sexually-themed entertainment to set up shop…Social media…is the number one tool of traffickers…

The Widening Gyre 

Several sex worker activists recently decided to…[take] the online Human Trafficking course offered by Ohio State University’s Social Work program…The…discussion…was “about 99.99% about forcing women to stop doing sex work.”  There was little or no moderation, with students up or down voting each other’s posts similarly to the way Reddit users do.  The instructor, Dr. Jacquelyn Meshelemiah…rarely interacted with students and never corrected misinformation… “Several of the students have claimed that they’d immediately turn…a prostitute into the police ‘for their own good’,” one student commented…the first person to be banned from the course for offering information was Dr. [Thaddeus] Blanchette…a professor and well-known trafficking researcher…

With Friends Like These…

Please, Roman Kalinowski, become a prohibitionist; if your attempt to hurt us is as totally wrong as your attempt to “help”, it’ll be a great pro-decrim argument:

World governments and the state of Hawai‘i need to accept the sale of sex between consenting adults and treat it like any other industry…Prostitution is profitable because…the demand for paid sex far exceeds the supply of sex workers.  There are high costs associated with kidnapping, secretly transporting and forcing people against their will into prostitution.  If legal…it would no longer be economically feasible to hold sex slaves…Hawai‘i [is] the only state in America which allows undercover police to penetrate sex workers…Registering with the government…has made the trade safer [in legalization regimes]…Legalizing prostitution would benefit everyone involved except for the pimps and madams currently exploiting workers…

Banishment

These types of procedures are very common in Swedish-flavored regimes:

By unanimous vote…Oakland [California granted itself]…the power to evict sex workers “associated” with a property—and to require their landlords to do the same…the city can go after the landlord for not taking action against a tenant “after being apprised by the City that the tenant has engaged in illegal activity”…The bill does not describe the burden of proof the city needs…Nor does [it] stipulate…whether this evidence is to be shared with the tenant…[nor] set forth any protections for due process.  The bill does not require that charges or a warrant be brought against a tenant [and]…there’s no clear definition for what “engaging” in illegal…activities…means…

Give Them an Inch…

European anti-migration policies grow steadily more horrible:

Seven Tunisian fishermen [are] on trial in Sicily…for the crime of rescuing 44 migrants from certain death in the sea.  They are accused of aiding and abetting illegal immigration.  If convicted, they face…[up to] 15 years in jail…Among [those rescued] were two children and 11 women – two of them pregnant and one elderly…The true object of the trial, it is suspected, is to dissuade fishermen from doing their duty…other…fishermen…recently beat migrants attempting to get into their boat with sticks, forcing them into the water where several drowned.  No action was taken against them…

License to Rape (TW3 #337) 

A reporter recently informed me that Los Angeles Times reporters are officially forbidden to refer to the acts of rapist cops with the word “rape”, as in this story of the sentencing of a monster we’ve seen before:  “[Rapist vice cop Jose Jesus Perez] was sentenced…to 25 years in federal prison for forcing prostitutes to have sex with him while he was in uniform…Perez blamed the stress from his job…[and] said he was a sex addict…

Whimsical Notions

U.S. Forces Korea has banned servicemembers from buying drinks for workers in “juicy bars,” which have long been suspected of involvement in prostitution and human trafficking.  While the military has maintained a zero-tolerance policy toward prostitution, buying drinks in exchange for female company was not strictly prohibited…[until] Oct. 15…

Train Wreck (TW3 #407)

Commercial sex workers in Abuja have reportedly been given a 2-day ultimatum to leave the city…Authorities have also threatened to punish individuals who patronize the sex workers with a death sentence…These stringent measures were said to have been formulated by Secretary for Social Development, Blessing Onuh, after she visited several locations that experience high sex trafficking activity…

The Public Eye (TW3 #410)

Belle Knox writes about how her story was used as the basis for an episode of Law and Order: SVU, a show not exactly known for an enlightened attitude toward sex workers.  Miraculously, this was what the writer of the episode told Belle:  “You, and others, have made the case that sex work is legitimate professional work, a potentially empowering choice individuals should be able to make without repercussions or stigmatization.  Other students who’ve done pornography have not survived the harassment that followed.  We wanted to tell their stories, too.

Rescued To Death

Another excellent essay from Wendy Lyon:

…the…“woman-protective anti-abortion argument” [is] a strategic shift away from the foetus fetishism that has traditionally defined the right-to-life movement…At the same time…[there's] a new anti-sex work campaign led by women who describe themselves as “survivors”…The idea that regret is…a reason to legally constrain women’s actions is conceptually flawed, paternalistic and degrading.  It’s grounded in age-old sexist nonsense about women needing choices to be made for us…women who don’t regret their abortion or sex work threaten to undermine the effectiveness…of those who do; thus, they must be silenced, discredited, or worse still, recruited…[by] persuading them that they were traumatised all along and didn’t know it…

Bottleneck (TW3 #443) 

a federal judge in [Washington state] issued a temporary injunction to block the release of…licenses, which include dancers’ stage and legal names…and photos …the man who requested the info, David Van Vleet, said his request was for “the public good” and he had merely wanted to “pray for those dancers by name”…A final decision will be issued December 15…

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #443)

if there’s one thing on which Northern Ireland’s divided politicians can always be sure to agree it’s the regulation and control of women’s bodies.  All for their own good, of course.  That’s why the Northern Ireland Assembly has voted overwhelmingly in favour of a ban on the purchase of sex…when radical feminists and religious fundamentalists join forces, facts tend to go out the window, often with dangerous consequences for those they seek to “save”…The Police Service of Northern Ireland has long made it clear that…such a law would be unworkable…But…enforcement was never the point …campaigners….seek the satisfaction of a symbolic victory:  the ability to declare our shores closed to prostitution…[just as] anti-abortion activists like to proclaim Ireland free of abortion…

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Lady fairest ever seen
Was the bride he crowned his queen.
Pillowed on the marriage-bed,
Whispering to his soul, he said,
“Though a bridegroom never pressed
Dearer bosom to his breast,
Mortal flesh must come to clay:
Even this shall pass away.”
  -  Theodore Tilton, “The King’s Ring

Every year on the Day of the Dead I write about why the holiday exists, why it is necessary, and why ruining the quality of life in an attempt to increase its quantity is both foolish and ultimately futile.  To those who have only started reading me this year, or who have only read a few selected pieces over a longer time, this might seem a strange topic for a harlot; one might expect death to be the farthest pole from my topic, except perhaps for mentioning it as an extreme manifestation of whore stigma or when paying my respects on December 17th.  But in truth, it’s both predictable and appropriate on a personal, professional and philosophical level.

zombie and harlotFrom a personal standpoint, I would probably have written often on this topic even had I never become a card-carrying prostitute; I was a strange, wild, moody  Wednesday Addams of a child, born on Halloween night and fascinated with horror lore and imagery.  Autumn was both my native season and the one in which I felt most comfortable, and I struggled with depression for over twenty years until at long last sex work helped me to get a handle on itMy favorite books, stories and even songs  mostly tend to involve death or other melancholy elements, and just look at the stories I’ve published on this blog and in my book (or just the cover of the damned thing, for goddess’ sake!)  So if you’ve read more than a handful of my (burnt) offerings and were still surprised that I sometimes think and write about death, you just haven’t been paying attention.

Professionally speaking, I must point out that whores often deal with the dark side of human nature.  Fear and sex are inextricably intertwined, and men who have rape fantasies or other “bad” urges may seek out sex workers to help them explore these in a safe and non-judgmental space; others, unfortunately, may seek out unwilling sex workers for the same reason, and the only “safety” they seek is their own relative safety from legal consequences.  Dominatrices and some fetish workers specialize in dealing with the darker aspects of human sexuality, and in criminalized, semi-criminalized and quasi-criminalized systems virtually all sex workers (especially those who work the street) are at a much greater risk of violence or even death than their domesticated amateur sisters.  And nobody who is afraid of death, or who views it as an unpleasant subject improper for polite company, could do the work I do now; take a look at a few items in any of my TW3 columns and I think you’ll see what I mean.

It is no accident that sex workers are among the most dedicated worshippers of the Mexican death-goddess, Santa Muerte, and that many of the myths surrounding pagan whore-goddesses (who were sometimes war-goddesses as well) involved violence and death; even long before criminalization of sex work was the norm, it was recognized that sex itself comes from the same hidden parts of the human psyche as those less-pleasant things.  Sex originates from the deepest wellsprings of life, but so does death; the latter is no less a biological process than the former.  Sex brings new life into the world, but death sustains that life; every one of us (yes, even vegans) continues his existence at the expense of the other lives we consume every single day in order to keep our internal fires burning and repair our damaged or worn-out tissues with materials stolen from the dead.  Not even plants are innocent of this colossal carnage; since some substances (such as phosphorus) are comparatively scarce, all life would soon grind to a halt were the constant supply of corpses to be choked off.  Nor is sex itself all moonlight and love songs; in many species it’s a brutal, coercive affair, and even among humans it can never be purged of its bestial and terrifying aspects, no matter how much feminists and other puritans insist that it can.  Sex and death are our constant reminders that for all our pretensions we are still animals; no wonder those uncomfortable with that fact try to disguise and sanitize both of them, to hide them from the children and speak about them in whispers, to bind them in legal codes and bury them under layers of ritual.  But no matter how deeply we bury our sexualities they reassert themselves, and no matter how diligently we try to delay death, it will come when it will come.  Both are impossible to ignore and impossible to prevent, and human society would be a lot better off if we learned to accept both as indisputable facts of material existence. 

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Given that large numbers of prostitutes operate independently without panderers, it would be difficult to characterize prostitution as inherently rooted in subjugation.  -  Gail Heriot

Think of the Children! Jaqueline Laurent-Auger

The half-life of sex radiation must be over 40 years:

…[73-year-old] Jaqueline Laurent-Auger was a teacher at the Montreal private school, Le Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf…but…the school [fired] her [because]…as a young actress…in France, she starred in a handful of erotic films…[including] Le Journal intime d’une nymphomane (1973) and Dany la ravageuse (1972).  In a statement, school officials maintain that “We’re not talking about paintings or sculptures of naked bodies produced with artistry and aesthetics in mind.  There are erotic scenes destined for an adult audience…”

Dirty Whores

The headline makes the contagion sound voluntary and evokes the “dirty whore” myth:  “…a [Liberian] sex worker…suffering from Ebola…passed the deadly disease to [Floson Louise]…who unknowingly spread it to seven other soldiers…the army barracks are being decongested to ease the spread of the disease…

Rooted in Racism

I’m really pleased to see black intellectuals writing about this:

…the movement against “modern-day slavery” deploys non-racial language to…[solidify] the existing racial regime…and…is inordinately preoccupied with women’s sexual victimization…the focus on white women…working in commercial sex recalls the…late nineteenth and early twentieth century…[panic over] the “white slave trade”…the moral authority that anti-slavery mobilizes today partly stems from the memory of black liberation that it implicitly draws upon—all the while explicitly distancing itself from black historical struggle…

Surplus Women

[Darren Vann of Gary, Indiana]…may be a serial killer who has killed…as far back as 20 years ago…Vann…was arrested…[for the murder of] Afrika Hardy…[after she] did not return from [an]  appointment [with Vann, a friend]…went to track her down and found her dead from strangulation.  Once in custody Vann…admitted…Hardy’s murder and led police to the bodies of six other women, all in abandoned houses…[officials were] unable to say whether the other victims were sex workers…

Not an Addiction (TW3 #6)

Since when do “scientists” treat patients?

Scientists have treated…the first patient with internet addiction disorder brought on by overuse of Google Glass.  The man had been using the technology for around 18 hours a day – removing it only to sleep and wash – and complained of feeling irritable and argumentative without [it]…he had also begun experiencing his dreams as if viewed through [its] small grey window.  The existence of internet addiction disorder…is hotly debated among psychiatrists.  It was not included as a clinical diagnosis in the 2013 update to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders

It is not “hotly debated”; OCD is not “addiction”, no matter how much money-hungry scammers want to rebrand it as such.

Above the Law 

A Birmingham [Alabama] police officer arrested earlier this month on child sex abuse charges is now charged with rape of an adult woman.  Joshua Herbinger…was not in any kind of…relationship with the [victim]…In the earlier case…Herbinger was charged with four counts of sexual abuse of a child less than 12 years old…

Shift in the Wind

One of the members of the US government Commission on Civil Rights openly criticized “sex trafficking” hysteria in a dissent with the Commission’s predetermined rubber-stamp “findings”, and may have cited yours truly in it:

…terms like “sex trafficking”…obscure more than they enlighten, because there is little agreement on what they mean…claims that the Super Bowl is a magnet for sex traffickers appear to be more myth than fact…In the late 19thcentury, Great Britain was also swept by a wave of hysteria over “white slavery“.  In time, the panic spread to the United States…the Heriot dissent decries the tendency to view the complexities of so-called “international labor trafficking” as something inherently sinister…There is plenty of opportunity for fraudulent or coercive behavior in these transactions.  But there is also opportunity for gain by the most vulnerable of the world’s people, trapped in poverty…

Bottleneck

Why 90% of whores prefer to work illegally than submit to licensing:

…Dancers and managers at a Washington state strip club are…suing to stop their county from releasing their names, photos, and other identifying information to a man who has filed a public records request…because strippers in most areas of Washington must obtain an “entertainer’s license”, their identities are a matter of public record…it’s entirely likely [David A. Van Vleet]…is a crazy stalker or an anti-sex nutjob.  Maybe both…it’s hard to imagine many non-nefarious reasons for requesting personal information on a wide swath of individuals in a sensitive job…

Capricious Lusts (TW3 #37)

M.C. Nanaiah , chairman of the [Indian] expert committee to suggest measures for safety of women and children has favoured a wider discussion on legalisation of prostitution…to prevent rapes…

That Old Black Magic

The “Juju sex slaves” myth just keeps on going like a zombie:

Juju “magic” may seem strange, mythical and other-worldly but it is a problem that is all too real when it comes to the sex trafficking of women from Nigeria…Trafficking expert Siddharth Kara from Harvard University said:  “[Juju] exerts a kind of control that’s so much more potent than chains or locking someone up.  It’s control of the spirit which is far more powerful and insidious”…

Westerners have our own Juju faith in self-declared “experts” like Kara, a charlatan whose degree of ignorance is astonishing even in a field dominated by charlatans.Barry Freundel

Buried Truth 

One of the nation’s most respected rabbis…[is] accused of placing a camera in the women’s…area of a sacred bath…Barry Freundel is a…leader in the Modern Orthodox movement…with controversial opinions on everything from abortion to homosexuality.  He…was known to take a strict position on morality, [saying]…just weeks ago:  “The lack of sexual morality…pervades this society…Pornography and its accessibility is wrecking marriages”…

Scapegoats (TW3 #49)

Daily Beast writer (no giggling, now) says Denmark doesn’t have enough reasons to lock people up yet:

…A new law on the table in Denmark proposes to make sex with animals…illegal.  The Danish law currently states that humans can have sex with animals as long as the animal doesn’t suffer…[but] how would one know if an animal enjoyed human sex?…If the law passes…only Finland, Hungary and Sweden will remain lawless…[the bill's sponsor] is…concerned that…Denmark…could become the [Mecca] of animal sex tourism…

I’m not sure what’s sillier, the writer’s conflation of “doesn’t suffer” with “enjoy” or her idea that “human sex” is fundamentally different from other mammals’ copulation.

Traffic Jam (TW3 #318)

How many moronic prohibitionist plays can the market bear?

Tony-award winning playwright…Sarah Jones…has been publicly “workshopping” her newest one woman show, entitled Sell/Buy/Date…The play is really one insult after another…Everybody was a “prostituted woman” except for a Russian male pimp who self-described as a sex worker.  And the sex worker rights activists are caricatured as dimwitted and undereducated supporters of Sarah Palin…Jones seems to be under the impression that the sex worker movement is funded by big corporate interests…Jones’ monologues [are set in an imaginary future dystopia] where…prostitution could not possibly exist…emergency medical treatment will be necessary to cure male porn addicts…However, magically, there will be a “re-sensititization” of men by forcing them to watch Thelma and Louise

Cops and Condoms (TW3 #330)

a 30-year-old female sex worker [has been sent] to prison for at least nine years under Germany’s “preventive detention” law, because she has shown a pattern of not disclosing to clients that she was living with HIV before they chose to have condomless sex with her…

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #337)

Sex workers in Northern Ireland are overwhelmingly opposed to…a law that could criminalise those who pay for prostitutes…only 2%…are in favour of the so-called “Swedish model”…61%…thought [the]…law…would make them less safe.  And…only 16% of…clients…said such a law would make them stop seeking to pay for sex…

Unfortunately, facts don’t concern politicians.

Damned If You Don’t (TW3 #343)

Charles CouchA man arrested in a police operation to harass and jail gay men was not only abused and threatened:  cops also stole his property, trashed his reputation and seriously jeopardized his career.  “Charles S. Couch…is suing the city [of Manhattan Beach, California]…Chief Eve Irvine and five police detectives, seeking $5 million in damages for mental distress, aggravation and loss of work.  He is being represented by civil and gay rights attorney Bruce W. Nickerson, who specializes in litigation surrounding police sting operations…

Rhinoceros (TW3 #403)

It turns out COAST is even sleazier than I thought:

…The majority of the board members of COAST’s backing group, the Association of Club Entrepreneurs (ACE), have been sued by their own employees for violations of labor law including wage theft, intimidation, charging debt-inducing illegal fees, and even sexual harassment…one of COAST’s co-founders, Michael Ocello, got involved in anti-trafficking efforts after the Illinois club he owned was raided by federal agents…

The Missing Word

The ridiculous claim that 42% of all UK sex workers are male derives from a bad study which makes two false assumptions: that each sex worker takes out one and only one ad at a time, and that all sex workers use all advertising platforms equally.  But that’s not the interesting thing about this article; it’s the fact that when men are the subject, agency is not denied and the word “trafficking” is nowhere to be found.

Property of the State

Women’s advocacy and drug-policy reform organizations are calling on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to “publicly renounce” enhanced criminal penalties for pregnant women.  It’s an issue that’s been gaining more attention since the July…conviction of Lacey Weld…[who] was pregnant at the time she made (and used) meth…[and] received an extra six years of prison time…Many object to charging a pregnant meth user with “child endangerment” on the grounds that an embryo or fetus is not yet a “child”.  But we also…[know] that heavy drinking and poor nutrition are much more dangerous to developing fetuses than exposure to meth…

The Roof Caves In

The Somaly Mam Foundation…shuttered its entire operation…and urged its followers to support other anti-trafficking groups…The SMF website on Saturday appeared to be stripped of all its content except for the announcement on its homepage…

Of course, the same bunch have already started a new “rescue” scam.

If Men Were Angels

A man who claims he can “cure” gay people…raped a teenage boy and threatened to kill him with his “warlock powers” if he told.  Kentucky police have arrested…youth pastor Rex Allen Murphy…the 16-year-old [victim said Murphy]…told him…that by brushing his skin or shaking his hand…he could tell his sins…Murphy reportedly asserted he thought he would be able to help the victim with his “battle with homosexuality because he, too, had experimented with homosexuality”…

Schadenfreude (TW3 #434) 

Five Women in Whitechapel (TW3 #437) 

It was supposed to have been the definitive piece of scientific evidence that finally exposed the true identify of Jack the Ripper…However, the scientist who carried out the DNA analysis has apparently made a fundamental error that fatally undermines his case…it would mean his calculations were wrong and that virtually anyone could have left the DNA that he insisted came from the Ripper’s victim…

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (TW3 #440)

following the mass eviction of over 1,449 prostitutes from…Dolly…it would appear that Papua has become a destination of choice among a small portion of the evictees…Papua is by far the richest province in Indonesia in terms of natural resources, boasting some of the largest gold, silver, copper and timber reserves on earth…nouveau riche mining capital has ensured that sex workers in Papua are among the highest paid in Indonesia…

The Face of Trafficking

I’m going to use this subtitle for stories refuting the myth of the evil client:

A woman who was lured to Dubai by promises of a job [in a beauty salon] but was then forced into prostitution was rescued by her first customer when she burst into tears and told him her story…the victim [said]…“He…booked me a ticket back to Morocco and even drove me to the airport”…she was not allowed to leave the country because…her employment contract had not been cancelled, so she headed to airport police and told them the whole story…

There was an earlier example here.

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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on October 12th; I have modified it slightly to fit the format of this blog.

The Black CatAs befits a girl who was born on Halloween night, I’m a big fan of horror films, horror stories, horror TV shows, horror comics, horror poems and just about anything macabre and creepy.  I’ve written about horror fiction on my blog more than a few times, especially (though by no means exclusively) in October, which is my favorite month in part because it’s Halloween season.  But this is not merely a deviation from my usual topic; in fact, as I explained in “Eros and Phobos”, fear and sex are inextricably intertwined:

…the trappings of BDSM would be equally at home in a gothic horror setting, the rape fantasy is as popular as ever and the lurid fantasies of “sex trafficking” fetishists can be found in mainstream news outlets every day, forced up from the collective unconscious by the pressure of the return to Victorian levels of prudery.  Nor does one always have to look outward to find the connection; I’m sure many of my readers have realized that the things that sexually excite them most are often related to things that frighten them.  For example, some of you may recall my mentioning that I have a phobia of being trapped (including in traffic jams), and I think even the veriest psychological amateur could recognize that I have a tremendous aversion to authority.  Yet at the same time, I’m turned on by bondage and themes of dominance and submission

I hardly think it’s necessary to point out that when an individual tries to suppress sexual desires, they usually pop out somewhere else; the same thing is true of society as a whole.  The neo-Victorians who now dominate our culture are so afraid of sex they’re trying to completely neuter and domesticate it:

They imagine that engaging in sex for the “wrong” reasons, or without the benediction of elaborate rituals of consent, or with people separated from one another by more than a very few years of age, is terribly harmful.  They believe that merely taking pictures of the taboo act creates a kind of Gorgonic icon which drives its viewers mad, and that the mere existence of such images harms women and children who are not even in close proximity to it.  And they fervently assert that it is so incredibly dangerous to the sacred “innocence” of “children” (a term which refers not to true children, but to a ritual category which actually includes some adults), for strangers to even imagine sexual contact with them causes such tremendous harm that those who indulge in these Forbidden Thoughts deserve penalties greater than those for violent assault, followed by lifelong social ostracism

But this only results in the suppressed desires popping out somewhere else.  As I explained in “Eros and Phobos”, horror fiction is one of those points of eruption; it’s a “safe” way to way to deal with feelings that one is afraid to admit to, a way to separate the taboo “dirty”, “bad”, violent or otherwise forbidden aspects of sex from wedding-cake images of romantic love and Utopian talk of mutual pleasure and “enthusiastic consent”.  The more rigid the social demands for 100% clear, legally-provable consent, the more rape fantasies we should expect to see.  The more society insists that the only acceptable sex is between age-peers, the more Lolita imagery will appear.  The more loudly “thought leaders” insist that love and mutual pleasure are the only acceptable reasons for sex, the more attention will be paid to whores.  And the more fixated conformists are on marriage and monogamy, the higher the number of clients the harlots strolling down the streets of their imaginations must have.

Given the draconian sexual regime our increasingly-repressive culture has imposed by use of both violence and shame, we should expect to see a great deal of horror fiction in which very young girls are abducted, raped, enslaved as prostitutes and forced to see exorbitant numbers of men.  And so we do; the lurid, sensationalized tragedy porn narratives that make up the body of “sex trafficking” mythology are nothing more than Gothic horror tales that opportunists pretend are real.  But do the members of the general public actually believe these stories, or are they just outlets for psychosexual tension accepted with the same mixture of credulity and doubt with which our ancestors greeted the spooky tales told around campfires?  It has been pointed out that if anyone actually believed that one in five young women on campuses were raped, nobody would ever send their daughters to coed universities; similarly, if anyone actually accepted the claim that “Young ladies are being grabbed off bus stops and forced into prostitution”, we’d be seeing a constant parade of abductees’ pictures on the news and demands for armed guards at bus stops.  Perhaps one of the reasons for the popularity of such folklore is that on some level people know it isn’t real (even if they consciously deny it); just as the old tales shared certain motifs and were repeated in a ritualized fashion that branded them as fabulous, so do these modern legends.  Perhaps the “sex trafficking” hysteria is at its heart nothing more than a succession of horror plays, sequels to (or remakes of) those in the very popular “Satanic Panic” series of the 1980s and ‘90s, and like them serving as “safe” outlets for anxieties caused by the onerous puritanism of modern Anglo-American culture.  “Safe”, that is, for the audience; in this horror drama the actors, unlike those in Hammer films or Grand Guignol theater, are both involuntary and unpaid.  And as long as this panic goes on they will be forced, like the imaginary sex slaves of the narrative, to play out the scripts drawn from their captors’ twisted psyches at the cost of their own freedom, happiness and lives.

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