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Posts Tagged ‘disease’

Since the very beginning of this blog, I’ve endeavored to be brutally honest on the subject of sex work; I have neither exaggerated the good aspects of the work nor hidden the bad ones.  This is not only because of my sincere belief that honesty is the best policy, but also because ugly truths that are hidden become weapons for enemies when discovered; sex worker activists must hide nothing, so the public will understand that we’re being just as honest about the things we deny as those we confess.  This month’s guest column is about one of those unpleasant aspects of sex work; sex workers’ ad copy often presents us as insatiable sex goddesses getting paid for having a ball, but in truth we really aren’t all that different from other women and work sex is generally much more about work than sex to us.  The essay is also quite unusual in that it asks for advice, much like a Q & A column; however, since the question came from a celebrity I thought it needed a different treatment.  Furthermore, though I was able to give the lady some advice from my own experience, in my opinion she needs very specialized input pertaining to an area of sex work I have no personal experience with:  commercial porn.  Because the nature of the question would tend to undermine her public persona, she asked to be published anonymously and of course I have agreed;masked woman I used the name “Anonyma” both in reference to Catherine Walters, and because the title “Guest Columnist:  Anonymous” has already been used.  Please respect her wish for anonymity by not speculating on her identity in the comments.  I hope that readers with porn industry experience (I have at least two of you in mind) will weigh in, and if you feel your advice is better given privately please email me with “Anonyma” in the subject line and I’ll forward it to her.   

I am an award winning porn performer. My image is that of a hypersexual young woman who is insatiable—a sex symbol for my fans. But off camera, that image could be farther from reality.  At first, my porn life didn’t interfere too much with my  real life; I was still able to have sexual relationships on camera, and my libido was as high as ever.  But after I was in the industry for a while, my sex drive dropped to non-existent and the thought of a man’s penis penetrating me now makes me cringe.  Why?  A lot of reasons.

On set, I’m expected to have sex for hours.  After a while, the sex isn’t pleasurable; it’s actually quite painful.  Long days on set paired with exhaustion cause tears and cuts in my vagina- oftentimes it happens on set and I am told to power through to complete the scene.  Having sex with a tear is excruciatingly painful.  My many sexual partners and exploits have also led to another painful problem:  pelvic inflammatory disease, an infection that causes inflammation of the uterus and ovaries. In other words, every time a penis gets deep inside me the pain is unreal.  Normally, pelvic inflammatory disease is treated with antibiotics and abstinence from sex, but being that my job is to have sex, it comes and goes for me.

Sexual trauma from my past has also given me a mental block that arises whenever I have a sexual encounter.  I, like many other survivors, suffer from PTSD because of the assaults I have experienced.  Also, the thought of having sex and not being paid for it now bothers me; it’s as though I only view men as dollar signs, as games to be won.  Before, I always loved men AND women!  But now I’m encumbered by this aversion to men, and the thought of having sex with a man does not appeal to me in the slightest.  I still find men attractive, but I don’t have the urge to jump on him and fuck him like I used to.

Obviously, this is causing issues in my relationship with my boyfriend.  He is amazing and understanding, but I feel guilty for not being able to please him; we have only had sex 2 times this summer (I know, it’s horrible).  I have seen a therapist and he advised me to quit sex work, and maybe he’s right; maybe it is causing permanent damage to my psyche.  But it’s my livelihood and I still love it in most ways.  Does anyone have any advice?  What do I do to get over this mental blockage?  How do I begin to have a normal sex life again?  Help! 

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I am seriously considering taking up prostitution as a second job; I honestly think I can handle it as I like sex of any kind.  I plan on strictly condoms only, and for 2 or 3 nights a week.  I have sent some messages to agencies, but I don’t have an ID so they won’t hire me, and I have no idea how to get to know the girls on the street.

I can’t really give you any advice about street work, because I’ve never done it; frankly, I’m not sure I could handle it.  Some girls prefer street work for its simplicity and lack of need for advertising, but it’s also much more dangerous and the chance of being arrested is much higher because if clients can find you, so can cops.  I must point out, however, that there are other alternatives besides working for agencies and working on the street; the majority of sex workers nowadays simply place independent ads (for example on Backpage) and/or advertise themselves by participating on message boards.  If you have a smartphone you can take pictures pretty easily, and since most clients pay extra attention to new girls in an area you can get started very quickly.  This approach also has the advantage of letting you see how other girls advertise and taking lessons from them (both in what to do and what not to do).  Even if you don’t have a credit card to pay for ads, message-board advertising is generally free and it gives you the added bonus of being able to chat with other ladies.  If you don’t want to deal with ads at all, you could try to find work in a massage parlor, which has the advantage of being very regular job-ish (in the sense that you work at a specific place for set hours), but one of the same disadvantages as street work:  it’s really easy for the cops to find you.

Before you decide which way to proceed, I suggest you look at the “mentoring” section of my “Previously Asked Questions” page, especially “What advice do you have if I want to start working immediately?”  And one more thing:  you say “I plan on condoms only”, as though you had an option to do otherwise; please let me assure you that you don’t.  You must absolutely use a condom, every time, no matter how “clean” a client looks nor how much he offers you to go without.  There is no way of knowing for sure who might have an STI, and HIV is still not curable; it’s simply not worth the risk to you and your clients.  When it comes to sex a large fraction of men are completely irrational, and will take risks despite knowing better; it is therefore incumbent on you to insist that unprotected sex is simply not an option no matter what a client says.

(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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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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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’ve been dismayed at the condescension toward and willful ignorance of the experiences of sex workers that is prevalent among…those…who…try to impose their values through criminalizing their work.  -  Peter Shafer

Barbie

Every once in a while, it’s nice to see a woman whose name isn’t Maggie McNeill attacking mainstream feminist claptrap:

Barbie is a safe way for girls to explore dangerously adult concepts like sexuality…says [psychoanalyst] Joyce McFadden…she likens young girls’ play-acting Barbie sex with them trying on their mothers’ makeup or bras…Anti-Barbie arguments have a tired ring to them…when I look back at my own Barbie-influenced youth, I have a hard time pointing to anything but positive effects.  “The feminist perspective is she has this unattainable figure,” McFadden says. “But Barbie was the only doll that had breasts, the only one to create a space where girls could start to fantasize about that”…Barbie is sexualized by adults, not kids…

Maggie in the Media

For those who couldn’t catch it live, the podcast version of my February 16th appearance on The Bob Zadek Show is now available.

Legislators Gone Wild

Harry ReidHarry Reid is on his anti-whore hobby horse again:  “Las Vegas is one of the cities in contention to host the 2016 Republican National Convention, but Nevada’s prostitution laws may jeopardize the city’s chances of winning its bid…” The idea of a convention-rich state criminalizing a whole industry to win one single convention would be hilarious if it didn’t display such a blatant disregard for his constituents’ lives.

Somehow, I Doubt He Thought This Through

Unfortunately, it’s the sex workers who suffered from this idiocy:  “A disgruntled punter made a complaint to Harrow Council…after a prostitute refused to have sex with him…at a brothel in the borough…The brothel is now being closed…

Follow Your Bliss

The officer in charge of a police pilot project created to combat human trafficking and rescue sex trade workers…[engaged] in sexual acts and [sent] lewd messages and photos of his penis to sex workers and colleagues.  Sgt. Derek Mellor…once the lead of Hamilton [Ontario] Police’s…“Project Rescue”…[pleaded guilty] to [nine] charges…

Good News, Bad News (TW3 #10)

Western Australia politicians keep playing with this diseased carcass:

Professor Catharine MacKinnon said Perth was perfectly placed to prevent human trafficking from Asia…because it was used as a gateway…by criminals.  However…the…Government would have to…overhaul prostitution laws to target the people who pay for sexual services rather than the prostitutes…

By “carcass” I mean the Swedish model; MacKinnon is still alive and flapping around belfries for the time being.

The Rape Question

Cherry 2000 sex contractConsidering the doctrine that consent can be retroactively revoked months or years after the fact, I sincerely doubt an informal contract without  a lawyer witness  would really offer much protection against future rape charges, but I guess it couldn’t hurt.  It’s just sad we’ve come to this.

Welcome To Our World (TW3 #15)

Everything is magically right and moral when state actors do it:

…[Washington state] prosecutors had [a rape and kidnapping victim] arrested…The 43-year-old woman…has not been charged with any crime.  She just wasn’t showing up for pre-trial meetings with prosecutors…[in other words] the woman [is being held] against her will so she can help convict someone else of holding her against her will…

And just in case you think I tend to exaggerate about neofeminists:  Amanda Marcotte approves of the state’s actions.

Bullies With Badges

Big masked heroes in riot gear prove their manhood by attacking Asian women:

Birmingham [Alabama] police raided an Asian massage parlor…taking four women and three patrons into custody.  Police, along with FBI and ICE agents [pretended] the raid was in response to complaints of prostitution and possible human trafficking…

Her poster
The Pygmalion Fallacy

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

…a prominent futurologist has claimed that AI girlfriends…like the one…in the…film Her could become a reality by 2029.  Ray Kurzweil…claims…a virtual body with a tactile sense…“will…certainly be completely convincing by the time an AI of the level of Samantha is feasible”…

Femme Fatale

A man died of a heart attack while in the embrace of a prostitute at a brothel in Ticino [Switzerland]…police confirmed that…there were no third parties involved and no criminal case…seven customers have died in brothels in the canton in the past ten years…

Imagination Pinned Down

This is just a typical lurid “survivor” narrative, but contains an unusually telling passage near the end:  “For 17 years, Lloyd told no one what she had been through…Six years ago, she contacted the Human Trafficking Task Force of Southern Colorado and met people who convinced her that she was dragged into a life of prostitution — and that it wasn’t her fault…” As usual, all events are conveniently decades in the past, with no witnesses, and she only came out with it after others convinced her that it happened.

Broken Record

You should’ve known we wouldn’t get through an Olympics without at least ONE “sex trafficking” scare story, and here it is courtesy of XO Jane.  I’m sure we can all think of more credible explanations for this scam that don’t involve the Russian Mafia and sentences like “The Olympics is a huge draw for trafficking…and American women are typically sold for more in foreign countries.” Peter Schafer Whores & Madonnas

Real People (TW3 #36)

Photographer and regular reader Peter Schafer on his project Whores and Madonnas:

Opportunities are extremely limited in the Dominican Republic for women to make a decent living…After reading about how central the responsibility of being a mother was to their motivation to pursue sex work, it got my mind going as these women seemed to explode the well-worn dichotomy that classifies women as either Madonnas or Whores…I became their client…explained I was working on a photo project and showed them some of my other work…I paid them for their time being photographed…because prostitutes in Sosúa are the economic drivers, with all other businesses…dependent on them, they enjoy…status and respect…

Not To Be Taken Internally (TW3 #39)

An adult entertainer was sentenced in Mississippi…to seven years in prison for helping set up an illegal silicone buttocks injection that killed…Karima Gordon.  Stewart, who goes by the…[stage] name…Pebbelz Da Model, took $200 to refer Gordon to the injector and falsely claimed the person was a nurse…Tracey Lynn Garner, the one suspected of administering the injections, is charged with depraved-heart murder in the deaths of Gordon and another woman, Marilyn Hale…She has pleaded not guilty, with her trial scheduled for March…

With Friends Like These…

The title is, “For Smart Prostitution Laws, Ask a Prostitute”.  The first couple of paragraphs sharply criticize the Canadian laws which were struck down, and the middle section discusses misconceptions about sex workers and implies we need to be consulted on new laws…then the author rapidly descends into evil pimps and helpless victims, and concludes by advocating the Swedish model.

Watershed

Slowly but surely, it’s becoming acceptable for female public figures to declare their support for something other than criminalization of sex work. Legal journalist and former assistant district attorney Robin Baton recently published “Why Prostitution Should Be Legalized in the U.S.”, and while she fails to see the problems with the license-and-regulate view that’s probably just because she hasn’t thought it through; she uses arguments based on the principle of self-ownership, the lack of a bright, clear line between prostitution and other female behaviors, and the sports analogy.  And though (as Scott Greenfield expressed it) “she’s no Maggie McNeill”,50 Canadians Who Changed The World it’s still good to see this in a US medium.

Book Reviews (TW3 #339)

Another honor for Chester Brown, the acclaimed cartoonist (and friend, and reader) who drew the cover for my book:  he’s been included in a new book entitled “50 Canadians Who Changed the World”.  Chester says the book isn’t very good and downplays his hiring of sex workers (depicted in Paying For It), but I still think it’s great that he was picked out of the many notable Canadians the author could’ve written about.

Traffic Jam (TW3 #345)

On March 14, 2014 human rights defender and transgender advocate Monica Jones will…go…to trial…for “manifestation of prostitution”…after she [was arrested for protesting]…Project ROSE …Two members of SWOP Phoenix and the Best Practices Policy Project intend to travel to Geneva to…educate the United Nation’s Human Rights Committee about human rights violations perpetrated by Project ROSE and the Phoenix police…and call on the Committee to pressure the U.S. government…This unique opportunity has emerged because the United Nations Human Rights Committee will review the U.S.’s human rights record…on…the same date as Monica’s trial…

Deafening Silence (TW3 #407)

This Hong Kong reporter seems to be trying out for a job in Beijing’s propaganda ministry:

Hong Kong police are planning to focus special attention on illegal sex trade operations in response to a wide scale crackdown on prostitution…in…Dongguan…Commissioner of Police Andy Tsang Wai-hung has expressed concern about a likely increase of prostitution in Hong Kong, but also expects additional criminal activity to accompany this vice…Prostitution was banned in China after the Communist revolution in 1949.  However, it reappeared three decades ago…and…is greatly responsible for a significant increase in sexually transmitted diseases…

Though the talk of criminality and disease is typical in the West, I simply cannot fathom why so many people whose minds were not broken by Mao are nevertheless happy to repeat the ludicrous propaganda that prostitution magically ceased to exist after his official proclamation.

Drawing Lines

[At the turn of the century]…an adult performer openly escorting was relatively rare…[but in the past few years] the industry…changed drastically: the talent pool [is] larger, the number of available roles much smaller, and the advent of digital piracy [has] driven performers’ rates down.  Escorting…has become one of the most lucrative ways for adult performers to supplement their flagging incomes…up to thousands of dollars for a single booking…The issue…is fairly divisive among performers…[and] was largely stigmatized within the adult film community until recently…

Gorged With Meaning (TW3 #408) yay for sisterhood!

After all the attacks, the Duke porn actress decided to speak for herself:

…I couldn’t afford $60,000 in tuition, my family has undergone significant financial burden, and I saw a way to graduate from my dream school free of debt, doing something I…love…my experience in porn has been nothing but supportive, exciting, thrilling and empowering.  The next question is always:  “But when you graduate, you won’t be able to get a job, will you?  I mean, who would hire you?”  I simply shrug and say, “I wouldn’t want to work for someone who discriminates against sex workers”…

Whatever They Need To Say (TW3 #408)

Two sex workers’ flats in Soho, central London were…re-opened by a judge…[who] rejected police evidence that women…were being controlled or incited into prostitution for gain…Judge Kingston’s decision brought for the first time some common sense to legal cases, which have been rumbling through the courts since mass raids at the beginning of December…

What Next? (TW3 #408) 

If you’d like to answer the Canadian consultation but aren’t confident in your ability to make good points, Maggie’s (the Toronto Sex Workers Action Project) is here to help with simple guidelines (both general and question-by-question) which will help you not to get tripped up the way the government wants you to with its “when did you stop beating your wife?” phraseology.  Read them, get your own answers ready and submit them in the next sixteen days.

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #408)

Mary Honeyball, desperate to smear the 549 organizations (it has since grown to 560) who spoke out against her revolting scheme which this week imposed the Swedish model as a non-binding standard for all of Europe, fell back on the usual ridiculous neofeminist ad hominem by branding them all “pimps” (savor the absurdity of that for a moment before proceeding).  The ICRSE naturally had an answer to that, and here our friend Laura Lee and ally Dr. Belinda Brooks-Gordon confront Honeyball on Newsnight.

The Swedish model’s detachment from reality is so profound even Time magazine can’t miss it, despite the reporter’s belief in “sex trafficking” myths.

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If the patriarchy is about men making decisions for women…why do some feminists want to control other women’s decisions?  -  “Lauren”

Gorged With Meaning

The situation described by this article – girl does sex work to pay for university – is so typical as to be a case of “dog bites man”, and nowadays doing porn won’t stay secret for long.  But the article actually says more about its author than about its subject:  “Lauren” seems like an intelligent, sensible, pragmatic young woman, while writer Katie Fernelius appears to be a supple-spined airhead who lets other people do her thinking for her.  In response to this:

I worked as a waitress…and not only did it interfere with my school …but also I was making $400 a month after taxes…For people to tell me that doing porn and having sex, which I love, is more degrading than being…somebody’s servant and…being treated like a lesser, second-class citizen, that…makes no sense…I felt more degraded in a minimum wage…service job than I ever did doing porn…

…Katie  crawls into her navel, quotes Gloria Steinem and babbles about “patriarchy”, “power dynamics” and words being “problematic”.  Yet I’m sure she thinks she’s better-adjusted than Lauren is. African artists protest in Korea

Where Are the Protests? 

There’s a word missing here, but I just can’t think of what it might be:

African artists hired by a Korean museum have been laboring under conditions “similar to indentured servitude”…The 24 artists came from various countries…to sculpt, perform, and do other tasks at the Africa Museum of Original Art in…Pocheon…They…were promised salaries of…minimum wage — 1,269,154 won ($1,183) per month — and comfortable accommodations; instead, they were paid [only] 500,000 or 650,000 won…and forced to live in cold, mice-ridden rooms.  Their salaries barely covered the cost of three meals a day, and the museum gave them only spoiled rice to eat.  Their contracts stipulated three performances per day, but they were often forced to do four to six performances…when they complained…their concerns were either ignored [or] dismissed…

Held Together With Lies

The new claim:  “The number of British children being trafficked for sexual exploitation has more than doubled over the last year…The figures…are thought to be just the tip of the iceberg…”  And the truth:

…these statistics are…drawn from…the National Referral Mechanism…a…process adopted in 2009 to identify…potential victims…the most recent NRM statistical bulletin states…“the number of referrals…is not a measure of human trafficking in the UK”…[but only those suspected by officials]…

The Scarlet Letter (TW3 #19)

Human rights activists in Kyrgyzstan are concerned that…police…[are] forcing sex workers…to undergo testing for sexually transmitted diseases…and…[have] carried out numerous raids since…November…Prostitution by individuals has been decriminalised in Kyrgyzstan, although organised activities like running a brothel are illegal. Sex workers report widespread harassment and extortion by police…

Whorearchy (TW3 #19) Spain protest 1-16-14

Prostitutes in Spain…[protested] a planned crackdown on streetwalking…Hetaira said it would rally…against plans to fine prostitutes and [clients]…fearing it will force them to work in dangerous conditions….[a new] law would make offering or soliciting sex in prohibited areas punishable by a fine of between 1,000 and 30,000 euros…

Backwards Into the Future (TW3 #41)

Theatre for a Change says there has been tremendous progress…in its efforts to raise awareness on rights of sex workers…[in] Malawi…Eric Saforo…says since 2012 the Malawi Police Service is beginning to recognize that abuse against sex workers is…not acceptable and that the police service is opening up to…[improving] working relationships between the two parties…

Due Consideration

Jennifer Whalen…was charged…with felony and misdemeanor counts for ordering…misoprostol and mifepristone online…for her 16-year-old pregnant daughter…She said she couldn’t find an abortion clinic nearby, she didn’t want to go out of state, and she didn’t know she needed a prescription…The felony…is for “medical consultation and judgment”; the misdemeanors are for not being licensed as a pharmacist, endangering the welfare of a child, and “simple assault”…The same thing happened to a mother of three in Idaho in 2012 who took RU-486…[because]…the closest clinic was hours away, would have charged $500, and because of state law, required multiple trips…

Monsters

A mob armed with wooden clubs and iron bars, screaming that they were going to “cleanse” their neighborhood of gay people, dragged 14 young men from their beds and assaulted them…Four of the victims were marched to a police station, where they…were kicked and punched by…officers who…threatened that [they] would be incarcerated for 14 years…under Nigeria’s new Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act…[activist Ifeanyi Orazulike said] “They were told ‘If you come back, we will kill you’”…The walls of [their] houses…have been painted with graffiti declaring “Homosexuals, pack and leave”…

Original Sin (TW3 #321)

Trafficking math is hardThis mostly-typical “sex trafficking” gobbledygook is only notable for “Michigan is one of the top five states for human trafficking” and for its use of “sex worker” rather than “prostituted woman”, “trafficked child”, etc.  But the picture that came with it, borrowed from one of the numerous Christian sites linking porn to “trafficking”, has some interesting math:  6000 total “rapes” (i.e. transactions) over 7 years is only 857 a year…awfully low for “50 per day”.  Even with weekends off that’s just over 3 per day, which is pretty realistic; obviously somebody is deviating from the program.

Unclean Situation (TW3 #330)

Justice for Magdalenes Research has hit out at the “subterfuge” being employed by the Government [against]…victims of the laundries…the department is writing to women offering formal lump sum payments, while stating that all other aspects of the scheme remain subject to legislation or discussions with other Government departments.   Despite the fact that the full terms of the scheme are not finalised, women are requested to sign a waiver accepting “all the terms of the scheme” and waiving “any right of action against the State or any public or statutory body or agency” arising out of their time in a Magdalene laundry…

Opting Out

The UK government’s futile and ham-fisted attempts to purge the Internet of all of its rough edges and naughty bits are about to see international escalation…David Cameron’s government has long-stated they want this filtering to eventually extend to websites deemed “extremist”…and it appears that…[ISPs] will soon [be ordered] to include websites declared to be promoting terrorism…as we’ve seen with the porn filters, there’s probably no limit to the number of entirely legal and legitimate websites UK citizens will find suddenly inaccessible.

UK readers who use Chrome and haven’t yet installed “Go Away Cameron”  should probably do so immediately.

Lack of Evidence (TW3 #344)

Nine men [arrested in a November raid]…were convicted of prostitution and sentenced to between three and nine years in prison…[followed by] a three-year…period for rewiring…in…mental institutions…The police report…and the results of anal examinations do not connect the…men to prostitution.  But…the arrest and prosecution of men who don’t fit acceptable standards of masculinity reassures Egyptians that the ruling military regime is as conservative as any Islamist party…

Remembrance

The moral purification of the Armed Forces continues:

The commander of the Naval Ordnance Test Unit at Port Canaveral has been relieved of duty for allowing two strip clubs to sponsor a military-related golf tournament last year…“Those type of organizations just don’t reflect positively on the Navy” [a spokesman]…said…

Number Puzzle (TW3 #349)

Matthias Lehmann has put together a short video of highlights from a symposium about the German Prostitution Act last December.

Where Are the Protests? (TW3 #350)

Miranda Barbour has a delightful conversation with credulous cops:

A Pennsylvania woman charged in the…slaying of a man she and her husband met through Craigslist [claims]…she killed many more victims…A law enforcement source close to the investigation said Miranda Barbour’s new claims could be “the real deal”…the 19-year-old Barbour [said] she participated in at least 22 killings in the past six years in Alaska, Texas, North Carolina and California.  “When I hit 22, I stopped counting…I can pinpoint on a map where you can find them”…Barbour [said] she had her first experience with killing when she [was] just 13, shortly after she…joined a satanic cult in Alaska…she [says that she] felt no remorse for her victims and…killed only “bad people”…

Whatever They Need To Say (TW3 #350)

No justice for victims of the Soho pogrom:

…at least six sex workers have fought the closures, [saying] they had not been coerced into working and that closing the brothels would make their work more unsafe.  In the first of three appeals…two women…lost their battle to have their flats reopened after a judge [claimed] that unknown figures were “controlling” prostitution in the area…However…the Reverend Simon Buckley wrote that trust in the police had been severely undermined by the “seemingly ham-fisted” nature of the operation.  “The girls who continue to work in the unclosed flats say that they would not feel confident in turning to the police if they were a victim of crime…[they] previously…had a good rapport with the police”…

Hard Numbers (TW3 #351)

As preparations for the World Cup accelerate, Brazilian authorities are attempting to sanitise the country’s image by clamping down on sex-related businesses.  More than 2,000 websites have been targeted, and prostitutes are being threatened with prison sentences for…[advertising]…according to Thaddeus Blanchette…media hype…rests on the false assumption that fans will…seek out sex with children…Tatiana Mauro…of Promundo Brazil…points to a report published by the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women, which finds no evidence that large sporting events cause an increase in trafficking or prostitution.  Sensationalist reporting on trafficking and mega-events is not only unfounded, it is also paving the way for a more repressive prostitution policy…

What Next? sex work is real work

Canadian readers, here’s your chance to be heard:

The Conservative government wants to hear from Canadians about how to rewrite the country’s prostitution laws [which] were struck down by the Supreme Court…A month-long online consultation period on the Justice Canada website…runs to March 17.  The high court gave the government one year to come up with new legislation…the…government has made it clear that simply allowing the laws to lapse…is not an option…

Predictably,

The [survey]…is being criticized for…loaded questions and misleading information about available options…It assumes prostitution is dangerous and that all sex workers want to be saved, said Chris Bruckert…[of the] University of Ottawa.  She also criticized government for not conducting town-hall style consultations where people have more time to unpack their opinions…She also says the Nordic model could contradict the reasoning for striking down the Canadian laws in the first place…

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #404)

549 NGOs and civil society organizations…have signed letters to the members of the European Parliament asking them to reject a report by MEP Mary Honeyball, which asks EU Member States to consider the criminalisation of the clients of sex workers.  The letter…denounces the conflation of sex work and trafficking, the disregard for sex workers’ health and safety and the lack of evidence [in] the report…signatories include…many women’s rights groups such as the International Planned Parenthood Federation …Another document drafted and signed by [45] academics and researchers…[analyzes] the lack and misrepresentation of evidence in [the] report…amongst other astounding errors…Honeyball completely misinterpreted a [Dutch] report…by…“mistaking” data on coffee shops for data on brothels…

Uncommon Sense (TW3 #404)

As thousands of cash-strapped Italians take to the streets to protest against their tax bills…[prostitutes] are instead…fighting against a tax code that does not recognise their profession, even though paying for sex is legal, leaving them no chance to…qualify for a pension…What has really irked prostitutes is that…the tax office has now decided to fine them for tax evasion, even though it has given them no way of paying tax…Playing the Whore

The Public Eye (TW3 #406)

Another good interview with Melissa Gira Grant about her new book, Playing the Whore; she speaks to Noah Berlatsky of the Atlantic about sex work as work, the range of sex worker experiences, anti-sex feminism and the similarities between the gay and sex worker rights movements.

Drawing Lines

Because obviously sex work isn’t a profession, uses no creativity and nobody earns a living through it:

…Mercy Mushaninga…has taken to social network sites to address her bitterness over the labeling of models as prostitutes…“Modelling is a career…and a profession with some people earning a living through it…Models…use their natural endowment and creativity…”

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The human body is not essentially…pornographic, and I think to make it so is a mistake.  -  Pat Robertson

This was one of those weeks in which I couldn’t be sure who was going to take the top position; it went back and forth several times before Radley Balko took it with six.  Popehat and Grace were tied for second place with four each (“irony”, “911″, “nanny”, and “fireman” for Popehat; “Palm Beach”, “3rd”, “hair”, and “spray” for Grace);  Jesse Walker (“gothic”, “Pat Robertson”),  Cop Block  (“10″, “20″) and Edward Cunningham (“together”, “test”) had two each,  and the rest of the links were provided by Franklin Harris (“RIP”), Walter Olson  (“physics”), Police Misconduct (“cop-lovers”), Jasper Gregory (“scrolls”), Jason Kuznicki (“cost”), Jemima (“strip”), Mike Siegel (“ABC”), and Lenore Skenazy  (“sign”).  The Via North Carolina Harm Reduction requested I share the second video, and I discovered the first while reading this article in order to answer a reader question.

From the Archives

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Slavery is so intolerable a condition that the slave can hardly escape deluding himself into thinking that he is choosing to obey his master’s commands when, in fact, he is obliged to.  -  W.H. Auden

OBEY eye posterI have come to the conclusion that statism rots the brain.  In order for a free mind to accept the delusion that someone else as human as himself has the right to tell him what to do, he has to inflict damage on his own psychic organs of self-determination; in order to accept the patent absurdity that such superiority can be conferred by merely putting on a special costume, carrying a little tin amulet or giving oneself an interesting title, that damage has to be severe indeed.  And if the subject is to believe that this right of state functionaries to control him extends even to what he does with his own body, the damage has to be both irreversible and so dramatic that it renders the statist incapable of recognizing the truth about nearly anything in which the state is involved.  The individual so afflicted not only identifies with the overlords, rationalizing that because they have the divine right to rule him they legitimately represent his interests (“Government is just a word for the things we choose to do together”); he will also obediently line up in front of the slaughterhouse and praise the wisdom and goodness of the butcher (for example, in the recent cacophony of bootlicking which began with and included a federal judge’s declaration that the NSA’s blatantly-unconstitutional universal surveillance is in fact constitutional).

In really advanced cases, the victim’s mind is so warped that he cannot imagine things another way from the status quo; if something is currently illegal, it must have always been that way, and when faced with evidence to the contrary he will misinterpret it to support his lawheaded perception.  If he sees an example of government coercion inflicted upon something which was previously free of it, that simply will not compute because holy governmental control is, was and ever will be, forever and ever amen.  Think I’m exaggerating?  Let’s take a look at how historian William Moss Wilson recently described the imposition of a licensing regime on Nashville whores during the occupation of the city by Union forces in the early 1860s.  Remember, prostitution was not illegal in and of itself anywhere in the US prior to 1910; it was often regulated, or restricted to certain areas, or banned from certain areas, and streetwalkers were often harassed by cops using laws against vagrancy and the like.  But since a lawhead cannot imagine that something now regarded as “criminal” could ever have been seen otherwise, we get nonsense like this:

…By June 1863, the large numbers of soldiers hospitalized in Nashville for venereal diseases led surgeons and regimental commanders to…[attempt to] rid the city of its prostitutes.  Deportation would prove no easy task; nearly every structure along…“Smokey Row”…was a house of prostitution, and other brothels were scattered about town…several hundred women were dragged onto requisitioned steamboats…but [other cities refused them]…and…black prostitutes…filled the void left by their white colleagues…Once deportation proved a failure, [officials instead] released orders that required all of Nashville’s prostitutes to register with the military government, which would in turn issue each woman a license to practice her trade…for a weekly fee of 50 cents…these women would receive a regular medical checkup, and if healthy, issued a certificate.  Infected prostitutes would be hospitalized and treated at no additional charge.  Failure to register would be penalized with a 30-day sentence in a workhouse…

Wilson’s brain is so warped by statism that he cannot see the imposition of licensing, mandatory health checks and pimping fees for what they are, the intrusion of government into a field with which it had previously been uninvolved; the very idea of an unregulated profession is anathema to him.  Accordingly, he misnames the regime “legalization”, ignoring the fact that prostitution wasn’t illegal to begin with and therefore could not be “legalized”.  The attempt at deportation was not, as he himself explains, the normal status quo in Nashville, but rather an act of martial law by the military governor of an occupied city.  He is “shocked” by the fact that the press and city government viciously attacked the deportation plan but accepted the licensing scheme, and he willfully misinterprets the whores’ acceptance of the regime as a desire to be “protected by regulation” rather than as a welcome respite from the harassment which had preceded it.

government outlays to GDPThis is not an isolated incident; for example, articles about Storyville usually describe it as a “legalized red-light district” when in actuality its establishment represented the restriction to a small area of a business which had previously been allowed everywhere in the city.  I’ll bet that before most of y’all started reading this blog, you believed that prostitution had always been illegal in most of the US; most people are surprised to learn that criminalization was a 20th-century notion, enacted in the same general time period as Prohibition and enforced by large, standing municipal police departments which had only existed for a generation.  The fact of the matter is that prior to 1913, the US federal government was tiny and the state governments not much bigger; however, the busybody laws which began in the “Progressive Era” gave the swelling numbers of government officials many new excuses to meddle in people’s lives, and the new permanent income tax provided the funds with which to do it.  Government began to grow at a pathological rate and has not stopped since, and the minds of most who were born, raised and conditioned to it can no more imagine another way than the members of a lost underground civilization could imagine the sky.

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What would it mean to think of sex workers not as traitors to feminism but as feminist forebears?  -  Mattilda Sycamore

The Swedish Pimpocracy

A…man facing rape charges is free after…claiming in a [Swedish] court…that the woman’s screams of protest were simply part of a violent sex game.  “I recognized [from other girls] the way she said no as a part of the sex”…[he] said…the two met…through a common acquaintance and he invited her back for a drink…”I expressed very clearly that I didn’t want to, so there was no way he could misunderstand me,” the woman told investigators…however…the man became more aggressive as her protests increased…he covered her nose and mouth so she couldn’t breathe and slapped her in the face…[she fled] under the pretense of taking a shower following the incident…Witnesses…encountered her lightly clothed and sobbing…

Meanwhile, a retired Swedish prosecutor explains why the Julian Assange situation should never have occurred, and says “the prosecutor-general should…rescind the decision to reopen the investigation, rescind the arraignment ruling, and rescind the arrest warrant.

Aggressive Ignorance

While bogus “trafficking” studies by hired researchers are misleading and dangerous, those performed by “trafficking” fetishists themselves are just plain hilarious.  This one from the Imagine Foundation studied online sex work ads for three months in order to reach the exciting and important conclusion that hotels tend to be clustered along busy highways.In Bed with Susie Bright   I’ll bet you’d never have guessed.

Maggie in the Media

Last Wednesday afternoon I spoke to Susie Bright for her podcast In Bed With Susie Bright, and the show is now available; individual episodes cost $5.95, but are free with a subscription.

A Procrustean Bed

A [Louisiana] panel vowed…to pursue the johns…and…create courts dedicated to human trafficking …“We want to make Louisiana the gold standard in protecting our children (by) dealing with this scourge that can easily destroy a society,” said…Gerald Long…Valarie Hodges…said officials need to dispel the notion that prostitution is a victimless crime.  For every act of prostitution, she said, there is a victim…

The idea that prostitution can “easily destroy a society” is beyond hilarious.

The Enlightenment Police

A French court…convicted a young woman for wearing a full-face Islamic veil in public and threw out her bid to have the…ban  declared unconstitutional.  Cassandra Belin, 20, was also convicted of insulting and threatening three police officers at the time of her arrest, which sparked two days of rioting…in July, 2013.  She was given a one-month suspended prison sentence for the clash with the police and a 150-euro ($200) fine for wearing the veil…

I’ve often pointed out that controlling what Muslimahs do with their bodies is exactly the same as controlling what whores do with ours, and Julie Billaud & Julie Castro agree with me:  “The interest of studying veiled women and prostitutes together lies primarily in the fact that their bodies…have been identified by the state as problematic and, therefore, as requiring political intervention…” Willie Greer

Above the Law

One rapist cop from Tennessee:

A…deputy has been terminated after handcuffing a woman and forcing her to perform oral sex on him…Willie Marshay Greer…was…charged with aggravated rape and official misconduct.  Greer reportedly stopped [the] woman for speeding…[and used the threat of] arrest [to extort sex]…

And another from California:

A woman who was shown on camera tumbling out of a moving LAPD squad car last year said she fell out…to avoid being sexually assaulted by her arresting officer…Kim Nguyen, a 27-year-old pharmacist, says she was handcuffed…when [he]…began opening her legs.  [After the fall] Nguyen…spent two weeks in the hospital [with] her jaw…wired shut [and] lost all of her teeth…

An Example To the West (TW3 #14)

In 2011, the Hyundai Research Institute published the findings of a survey commissioned by the Hanteo National Union of Sex Workers.  It examined “the changes in public opinions…after the enactment of the Anti-Trade Sex Law” in South Korea based on [telephone] interviews with 1,000 adults from different age groups and all walks of life…The report…has now been translated into English

Stand-Up Guys

Here are two audio files featuring male allies; in the first Christopher Ryan (Sex At Dawn) interviews Thaddeus Russell (A Renegade History of the US), and in the second Zander-Dexter Falcon debates a prohibitionist on Canadian radio.

Traffic Jam (TW3 #29)

Thanks to “gang” rhetoric, “sex trafficking” is becoming a new excuse for locking up young black men:

Twenty-four street-gang members…have been indicted on charges of conspiring to run an interstate prostitution ring…in San Diego, Arizona and New Jersey…At a national “Players Ball,” one of the defendants received an award as pimp of the year.  Pimps…have a liking for chalices and scepters, known as Pimp Cups and Pimp Sticks…[and] “often” have removable dental “grills” made of gold and costing thousands of dollars…the U.S. attorney is seeking forfeiture of such trophies…Of the 60 sex-trafficking victims [arrested], 11 were minors…Some…were “branded” with tattoos of gang monikers, bar codes or the name of their pimp…[they were recruited with] rap videos on YouTube…

Worse Than I Thought

Kudos to Reason TV for doing a short documentary on how horrible California’s “anti-trafficking” CASE Act is, and for interviewing sex workers about how criminalization increases exploitation.  Unfortunately, they also interviewed the superlatively awful Dennis Hof, who as usual used the opportunity to spread lies about independent sex workers (in this case, that we’re diseased) in order to argue for imposition of the Nevada system which enriches and empowers people like him.  I’ve spoken to video producer Zach Weissmueller, though, and asked for his help in getting Reason more on board with (libertarian) decriminalization rather than (crony-capitalist) Nevada-style legalization. Proposition 35 ad

King of the Hill

It’s always deeply satisfying to catch a “trafficking” lie in the process of expanding; in September we were told that Tampa ranked third in Florida for “sex trafficking”, but now they’re claiming it’s third in the whole country.  I suggest they discuss this with Miami and Toledo.

Backwards into the Future (TW3 #131)

Despite a decreasing prevalence of HIV/AIDS among…sex workers [in Myanmar], health workers say the stigma…and…harsh laws…are undermining sex workers’ access to HIV-related services…Even possessing a condom could be used as circumstantial evidence of prostitution until 2011…most of the public are unaware of the directive…[banning the practice, and fear] carrying…condoms because they could be targeted as sex workers…karaoke bars and massage parlours…frequently change locations due to harassment by police…[and] managers…deny health workers access…for fear of prosecution…

Checklist

These self-appointed “trafficking experts” claim they can identify “sex traffickers” (in South Dakota.  Seriously.)  But after all the “abduction” and “Stockholm syndrome” mythology, it still comes down to harassing women: “it may be easier to determine whether someone is a trafficking victim, than it is to figure out a trafficker.”  The “signs” include staying out late and having a generous boyfriend.

Pimping the Pimp Annie Lobert

Community leaders and law enforcement…presented a…documentary [on]…sex trafficking in Nevada… Trafficked No More…[compiles] true…sex trafficking cases and their impact on…prostitution of children…One person who knows firsthand the damage the underground sex industry can do is Annie Lobert…of…Hookers for Jesus…

Long-time readers will remember we’ve seen Liars for Jesus before.

Lying Down With Dogs (TW3 #324)

More clueless anti-whore pomposity from Zambia:

…a plan of reforming sex workers…is something that [they] should have…embraced…However, the…sex workers…refused to relocate to their respective villages where financial help…could have been accorded to them.  Some of [them] even attended meetings that were organised to help them reform only to demand money instead of assistance in form of material and equipment…sex workers…should have taken advantage of this noble gesture…the sex workers were not looking beyond their noses.  To them it was about here and now…

Bad Girls (TW3 #331)

A club boss has told a court of the moment he was kidnapped by three lapdancers and their manager – with the women wearing ”miniskirts, stilettos and Daisy Duke shorts”.  Curtis Woodman was outside his work premises…when the women and two men drove up in two BMWs…the group ”surrounded him” before bundling him into one of the vehicles and driving off.  It is alleged that Mr Woodman…was…robbed of £60 cash and his £4,650 Brietling watch…[and] forced to transfer £4,800 into the bank account of the lapdancers’ manager, Charlotte Devaney…The women believed he owed them more than £42,000 for work they carried out at his pop-up nightclub during the Cheltenham Festival in March 2012…he had received calls demanding the money…for months…

The Public Eye (TW3 #340)

Laura Lee’s ill-treatment while giving testimony to a parliamentary committee in Northern Ireland:

Traffic Jam (TW3 #343)

the Best Practices Policy Project worked with SWOP-PHX to send a report to the Human Rights Committee for consideration during the review of how the United States has fared in meeting its obligations to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights…The submission describes…mass police “sweeps,” arresting scores of…people the police profile as sex workers.  Arrestees are handcuffed and transported…to the Project ROSE center, where they…have no opportunity to speak to a defense attorney…even if they request one…

Rhinoceros (TW3 #344)

There are a lot of sleazy strip club owners, but licking badges and using “sex trafficking” hysteria to sic the pigs on rival strip clubs and massage parlors is a new low.  I first introduced COAST in the titular item, but this article tells you more about them than you really want to know.  Caution: You’ll probably feel like you need to need to shower after reading this.

Shame, Shame

The author of this internet article, Iman Idiot, thinks internet censorship and expanding the “sex offender” registry are good things:

…Now, Israel has become the first country in the world to make revenge porn illegal…anyone found guilty of uploading sexually explicit content…without the consent…of the person being portrayed can expect to be designated as a sex offender, and may be punished up to five years in jail…Brazil introduced a bill in October to ban [it but]…only two [American] states have passed legislation…to stop it:  New Jersey and California…Project ROSE warning

Traffic Jam (TW3 #347) 

Remember how that article about Project ROSE was censored by Al Jazeera?  Here’s an interview with reporter Jordan Flaherty about both the censorship and the unethical practices of the project itself.

Subtle Pimping (TW3 #351)

Patricia Adler, the University of Colorado…professor…who was  forced to retire over a controversial prostitution lecture, has decided to return to the campus…[after] an executive committee …allowed [her] to resume teaching the course…provided [she] gets consent from all the students to go ahead with the [whore stereotype] skit…

I have been informed that SWOP Denver has contacted Adler to offer real information in place of the nonsense she’s been teaching; we’ll see how that turns out.

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #351)

A new review of Sex Workers Unite says that it…

…jettisons the tired generalizations about erotic labor (and laborers), and instead places sex workers at the center of recent movements for social justice.  Author Melinda Chateauvert  reminds us that those who rioted against police violence and control…in the late ’60s (marking the beginning of the gay liberation movement) were…”sex workers, transgender people, hustlers, tricks, drug users, and drug sellers”…Similarly, [she] points out that sex workers were routinely engaging in conversations about the messy intersections of sex, desire, intimacy, love and (im)propriety long before feminism…

Cops and Robbers

Peru sex worker attackAfter a graphic video showing a vigilante group meting out violent punishment to sex workers in Cajamarca [Peru] made international headlines, authorities…told press that the violent raids conducted by the so-called Cajamarca Committee for Urban Patrols represented a serious infringement on the rights of the women they attacked…”  Unfortunately, the statement soon degenerates into “sex trafficking” nonsense, ignoring the fact that violent “rescue” raids by “authorities” are even worse.

Bootlickers (TW3 #401)

Since the cops are just inventing these “charges” anyway, it’s up to them whether they “cease”:

…Everett [Washington]…officials…deemed the Hillbilly Hotties coffee stand…a chronic-nuisance property…and…[demanded] that alleged prostitution, indecent exposure and violations of city adult-entertainment codes…cease…the stand owner won’t hire baristas who have criminal history and that employees who break the rules will be fired…

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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on December 8th; I have modified it slightly to fit the format of this blog.

stack of newspapersIn the process of writing my blog, I read and scan a tremendous number of news stories every week, from websites based all over the world.  I get many of them from links on Twitter, and my readers send many others; some of them I stumble onto by chance while looking at other things.  The majority of sex work-related items end up in my weekly “That Was the Week That Was” news summary, which normally appears on Saturday; other interesting stories appear in my weekly “Links” column, which normally appears on Sunday.  Some are worth quoting in a longer discussion, and others aren’t noteworthy enough to get any coverage in my work at all.  But every once in awhile a story comes along which is so interesting, funny, horrible, odd or whatever, that I like to analyze it at length.  Today I present such a story; it appeared in the Edinburgh News on October 30th,  but the date hardly matters because it’s illustrative of so much of what’s wrong with the way the news media report on sex work.

Two prostitutes are plying their trade just yards from a bustling police station amid warnings that private flats are increasingly being used for business by sex workers.  The cheeky sex workers are operating from a plush £700-a-week mews house in Dewar Place Lane to the rear of the busy West End police base in Torphichen Place.  Their decision to “set up shop” in the shadow of the key station follows an unprecedented period of focus on the Capital’s sauna trade…

One distinguishing characteristic of the truly awful sex work story is its use of inane, annoying and dysphemistic language to pretend that sex work is “dirty”, “seedy”, titillating, lurid or otherwise fundamentally different from other kind of work.  The language in many such articles is positively Victorian, but even when it isn’t, it’s still of a type only found in reference to sex work.  It starts in the very first sentence: can you imagine caterers, carpenters, cartographers or cab drivers being described in an early-21st century article as “plying their trade”?  Or that a reporter would find it noteworthy that a pub, pawnbroker, photographer or piano-tuner had set up shop near a police station (or to enclose that phrase in scare quotes)?  The UK is not the US; prostitution is not illegal in Scotland, no matter how much the leadership of Police Scotland might wish otherwise.  While I agree that it is a bit “cheeky” to do business so close to the hideout of a gang with a long history of violence against sex workers, that’s not the “spin” this reporter appears to be trying to put on it.  Finally, there’s the mention of the rent…which would certainly not appear were the story about a medical practice or a law firm.

…one…Police Scotland insider said…“We’re going to see a lot more sex sold from private flats like this…with all the unique problems that can bring with it.”  Sex industry insiders say more prostitutes are now operating from flats.  And today Independent Lothians MSP Margo MacDonald warned it would lead to a rise in sexually transmitted diseases and attacks on prostitutes…

Edinburgh saunaSex has been sold from private residences for as long as private residences have existed; this is neither new nor “uniquely problematic”.  Stories about sex work often present minor shifts in the number of women working in one type of venue or another as some sort of mass migration; in the US, it is commonly claimed that indoor sex work was practically nonexistent before the advent of the internet, when in reality the change was from about 15% of all sex workers on the street to perhaps 10% or a bit less…hardly a seismic shift.  The same can be said about brothel workers starting to go independent in Edinburgh.  And though I’m sure MSP MacDonald means well, if she’s concerned about STIs she should turn her attention to the amateurs; we professionals have far lower rates than they do, even without government nannies looking over our shoulders to be sure we wash properly.

…Our investigation was sparked by members of the public concerned at the comings and goings in the well-heeled cobbled street.  The attractive pair – who aren’t linked to the saunas – are only believed to have arrived in the city a week ago.  Their arrival, however, has merely swelled the ranks of a burgeoning scene which leaves prostitutes vulnerable to the whims of…violent pimps…

Can you imagine two new members of any other profession being described as “swelling the ranks” when there are already about 700?*  As for “public concern”, that’s utter nonsense; escorts know how not to attract attention, and in the next section the reporter admits to making an appointment through a website.  Without the directions provided by the sex workers, neither he nor the supposedly “concerned public” would have known where they were.  But the worst part of this short paragraph is the insulting pretense, so beloved by prohibitionists, that whores are largely at the mercy of “pimps”, when actually nothing could be farther from the truth.

…Incredibly, officers pass the flat, as they use the lane for access, unaware of the seedy activities inside…a girlish voice called out to come up the spiral staircase to…a large and immaculate living room with…two empty wine glasses…on a low table alongside untouched finger food…Wearing heavy eye make-up and scantily dressed in a see-through negligee, black underwear and red high heels, she welcomed our reporter…

Every sentence has words intended to evoke a lurid atmosphere.  A legal business is “seedy”, the sex worker is “girlish” (implying “underage”), the cleanliness of a business-place is somehow considered remarkable (would a hotel lobby be similarly described?), the empty glasses hint at a recently-departed client, and the descriptions of the sex worker’s makeup and attire would be more at home in a cheap novel than a serious news story.

…Asked whether she knew about the nearby police station she rolled her eyes, smiled and said: “I know, I know.  I don’t mind.  I’m doing nothing wrong.  I don’t sell drugs, I pay my taxes.  I’m quite happy about it”…She claimed to be working alone from the house, but the Evening News has learned that she is one of two prostitutes based there…The offence of brothel-keeping is only committed when two or more women work from the same home…Police officers have been informed by the News of [the] brothel…

In revealing that the women work from the same place, the reporter has guaranteed that the police will subject them to mindless violence in the name of upholding an asinine law, especially since he helpfully provided them the address in violation of every principle of journalistic ethics.  This wicked game of outing sex workers is woefully common in UK journalism of the sleazier sort…which is to say, most of it.

But the worst part about the entire article is that the reporter seems to imagine himself to be genuinely concerned about sex workers’ safety, or is at least trying to convince the reader that he is.  A reporter chooses whom to interview, which quotes to feature, how to parse them and how much weight to give each interviewee, so two different people with opposite agendas could produce two extremely different articles from the exact same set of interviews; this story comes back over and over again to the harm Police Scotland’s new harassment policy will inflict upon sex workers.  Yet at the same time, it wallows in the lurid, is peppered liberally with dysphemisms and tortured phrases, presents sex workers as weak, dirty victims and even goes so far as to directly betray two of them to the tender mercies of the police, hinting that they have a lot of money so as to make them a more attractive target for a profit-motivated raid.  If this is what passes for “sympathy” in British journalism, I’d hate to see what hostility looks like.

*This number comes from Scot-Pep, and though it seems a bit low to me we’ll go with it.

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