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Posts Tagged ‘domestic violence’

This essay first appeared in Cliterati on June 15th; I have modified it slightly to fit the format of this blog.

Emperor JulianDuring the reign of the Emperor Julian a man named Numerius, who was governor of Narbonensis (what is today southern France), was accused of embezzlement by one Delphidius; because Numerius was a high official his trial was presided over by the Emperor himself.  Numerius’ defense consisted entirely of denying his guilt, but since Delphidius had no actual evidence this was enough.  When it became clear that his attempts to trick Numerius into self-incrimination had failed, and that the charge would fail with them, Delphidius cried out, “Oh, illustrious Caesar!  If it is sufficient to deny, what hereafter will become of the guilty?”  Julian’s famous (and quotable) reply was, “If it suffices to accuse, what will become of the innocent?”

The principle was not new in 4th century Rome; it is clearly stated many times in Roman law, appeared in both Athenian and Spartan legal codes, and traces of it appear in Deuteronomy.  From Rome it passed into the Western legal tradition, and it is one of the pillars of English common law.  Indeed, every schoolchild knows that a person on trial is presumed innocent until proven guilty.  However, this is no longer true in many cases; all over the West, but especially in the United States, this powerful defense against tyranny once enjoyed by everyone from beggar to prince has been slowly eroded away in the name of expediency.  Prosecutors eager to “score” convictions take advantage of the vast arsenal of overlapping laws to charge people with so many different crimes for one supposed act that conviction on even a small fraction of them would result in decades of imprisonment; the frightened (and often completely innocent) victim nearly always agrees to some lesser charge rather than face the prospect of spending most of his life in a cage where he may be repeatedly raped, tortured  and denied even the respite of death.  Intimidating a victim into confession circumvents the need to have any evidence at all, much less enough to secure conviction in court.

In some kinds of cases, however, prosecutors don’t even need this kind of barbaric threat to induce a confession, because the presumption of innocence is either directly weakened or effectively nullified by other prosecutorial weapons; or, the accusations are handled in special kangaroo courts where the presumption does not exist; or, the accused is simply punished directly by the police without the need for a trial, evidence or anything else.  And what kind of crime, you may ask, is so heinous that it justifies undermining a venerable principle and virtually ensuring that huge numbers of people will be punished for things they did not do, or else receive punishments that are wildly disproportionate to something they did do?  Mass murder, perhaps?  High treason?  Burning down orphanages?  Stealing war widows’ pensions?  Plunging whole countries into economic depression?  No, something that in the minds of American is far worse than any of those:  pleasure-seeking, especially sexual pleasure.

In many American states, if a neighbor calls the cops because the couple next door is fighting, “the husband is arrested…no matter what the wife says…and prosecuted.  Because many wives rightly refuse to cooperate with such proceedings, the Office on Violence Against Women…authorized so-called “evidence-based” prosecutions, kangaroo courts in which…hearsay…is allowed and the accused man is denied the constitutional rights of confrontation and cross-examination.”  On university campus, a similar third-party accusation can subject a young man to a “campus tribunal” such as the one described here:

…the tribunal does pretty much whatever it wants, showing scant regard for fundamental fairness, due process of law, and the well-established rules and procedures that have evolved…for citizens’ protection…the…allegations were a barrage of vague statements, rendering any defense virtually impossible…Nor were [they] supported by any evidence other than the word of the ex-girlfriend.  The [accused]…was expressly denied his request to be represented by counsel…The many pages of written documentation…were dismissed as somehow not relevant…witnesses against him were not identified…nor was he allowed to confront or question either them or his accuser… 

The war against people who enjoy ingesting substances spawned an even viler abrogation of the presumption of innocence:  civil asset forfeiture, by which the police or a court can steal a victim’s property under the ludicrous pretense that it (the property) has committed a crime; since inanimate objects have no rights, the state can take it unless its owner can prove its innocence (a reversal of  the normal burden of proof).  From the drug war the practice expanded to the War on Whores, and in the US and UK the police now routinely rob sex workers and clients of money, vehicles and other property.  And when there’s nothing else for greedy cops to steal, there’s always a victim’s reputation:

[St. Louis, Missouri] police are reviving a push to…humiliate…those prowling the streets for prostitutes.  “Johns”…will receive postcards…admonishing them for their crime, giving reminders about…sexually transmitted diseases and listing their court dates…In addition, police say they plan to routinely provide local news media with mug shots of those charged with prostitution crimes…

Pillory stocksThese so-called “Dear John” letters are not unique to St. Louis, nor even to the United States; the practice of publicizing “mug shots” on television, the internet  or even billboards is also widely used.  The pretense used to justify this is that these shaming tactics are not punishments but merely “public records”; I’m sure people who lose their jobs or families due to these actions are comforted by the distinction.  The truth is obvious to anyone whose mind is not warped by the “law and order” sickness:  all of these practices – the extrajudicial punishments, the legally-sanctioned robbery, the kangaroo courts, the plea bargains – are just ways to get around the inconvenient necessity of actually having to prove a person has done something wrong before subjecting him to violence.  Oh, well, presumption of innocence had a good run, almost 3000 years; I suppose we should be grateful for that much.  But it sure was nice while it lasted.

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I think I’m in favor of this but I would not want to go to court for a 5- or 10-year-old and say: “You’re charged with a misdemeanor” – Lula Davis-Holmes

A little busier this week, except for videos; still, I thought you’d enjoy this lovely example of why correlation does not equal causation, contributed by Pope Shakey.  Everything above it is from Radley Balko, who also wrote the last one above the video; however, I gave credit to Rick Horowitz for first calling my attention to an earlier (but less powerful) report of the incident.  The video was provided by Zander Falcon, and the links above it by Clarissa (“honest”),  Michael Whiteacre (“important”), Jason Kuznicki (“garbage”), Jesse Walker  (“hypocrites”), Grace (“guns”), and Gideon (“throat”).

potato chips & wheelchairs

From the Archives

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Did you see the way its collar flew up into the air when I blew its head off?  It was awesome!  –  Brice Woolly

Another rather quiet week, which is still good because I was even busier than I was last week!  The epigram, the first video and the two links above it were all provided by Radley Balko; the second video by Michael Whiteacre; and the links between the two by Nun Ya (“megalomania” & “machete”), Clarissa (“obese”), Mancrack (“Mr. Rogers”), and Popehat (“together”).

From the Archives

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It’s a little known fact that as Emily Wilding Davison threw herself under the King’s horse during the 1913 Derby her last words were, “I hope that sometime in the next 100 years, someone introduces a product that makes a woman’s labia pinker.  That’s really what I’m doing all this for.”  –  Jake

If you live in the United States and noticed that you got the notification for this post an hour later than usual, it’s because starting today by government decree your clocks will lie to you about the time until early November.  Everyone else in the world should continue getting the notice at the same time until your clocks either start or stop lying to you (depending on what hemisphere you’re in) sometime in the next few weeks.  If you’re outside the US and the time was wrong anyhow, it undoubtedly has something to do with however WordPress has the change set up.  Got it?  I honestly wish we’d dispense with the unholy mess, which costs the US roughly $2 billion per year (and even more since Congress extended it in 2007, putting us out of synch with Europe and Asia).  Nor does that count the cost in lives and property damage from the increased number of accidents on the Monday following the change, especially in the spring.  Anyhow, in keeping with the theme of this rant I present “Destino”, a collaboration between Walt Disney and Salvador Dali which was mostly done in 1946, then shelved and never finished until 2003.  It’s very strange and very beautiful, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  The second video is the first American television commercial for cannabis, but almost certainly not the last; it was contributed by Rick Horowitz.  The links down to the first video are a mixed bag; Lenore Skenazy gave us “never call”, “rules” and “kangaroo”; Michael Whiteacre gave us “birthday party”, Radley Balko contributed “mother”, and I found “kayaking” and “masochism” myself.  Those between the videos were provided by Radley, my cat, ManCrack, ClarissaKate Zen, Dean Clark, Kevin Wilson, and EconJeff (in that order).

From the Archives

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Heavens to Murgatroyd, the sounds, like trumpets calling the demons back to Hell…the stench, like 1000 rotten corpses vomited.  –  C. Torok

Another good week for links, and as all too often happens far too many of them are various excesses of the police state; one wonders how far this will have to go before the jellyfish who make up the majority of Americans and Europeans will wake up and put a halt to it.  Much, much farther, I’d imagine, well into roving death-squad territory.  This week’s top contributor was Radley Balko  (now ensconced at the Washington Post) with everything down to the first video, which was suggested by my cat.  The second video is something quite unusual, an unreleased 1984 movie by Tom Schiller (of Saturday Night Live fame) starring a number of big Hollywood names (including SNL alumni Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd).  It comes to us courtesy of Jesse Walker, who describes it as “a dreamlike tale set in a world where the Port Authority has seized dictatorial powers in Manhattan, a benevolent conspiracy of tramps guides people’s destinies from a hidden base beneath New York, and the U.S. government first went to the moon in 1953…it seems to take place in the entire 20th century at once.”  Jesse also contributed “comics” and “nose”, and the rest of the links were provided by  Kevin Wilson (“bears” and “license”), Mistress Matisse (“proles”), Jack Shafer  (“gothic”), RMV (“castration”), Jason Kuznicki (“NSA” and “hysteria”), Nun Ya  (“jaywalking”), Scott Greenfield (“Amazon”), Cop Block (“cigarette”), Walter Olson (“subscriber”), and Grace (“murders”).

From the Archives

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You should view each interaction with the cops with an extreme caution bordering on paranoia, as you would handle a dangerous wild animal.
–  Ken White

Lots and lots of links this week, but a very small average per contributor; even the leader, Radley Balko, had only three (counting the first video, which is extremely funny and well worth ten minutes of your time).  The second video was mentioned by Cliterati back before Christmas, but if North America gets another severe cold snap maybe this will help.  The links between the two videos were provided by Jemima (“Beowulf”), Clarkhat (“four”), Cthulhuchick  (“tased”), Jesse Walker (“journalism”), Walter Olson (“chefs”), Aspasia  (“atheists”), Nun Ya (“headline”), Laura Lee (“lede”), Grace (“child support”),  Mike Siegel (“Hell” & “Barbie”), Mistress Matisse (“link”), Popehat (“texting”),  Jason Kuznicki (“prohibitionists”), Lucy Steigerwald (“cage”), Korhomme (“never call cops”), and Jasper Gregory (“Nazi”).

From the Archives

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One of my boyfriends once said something like, “If you’re going to shoot a man, you at least ought to have the decency to look him in the eye when you do it.”  This essay is presented in that spirit; anyone who supports inflicting harm on someone should at least have the guts to look upon the effects of his handiwork.

solitary confinementI am a registered sex offender.  I’ve been so for over 10 years, the result of a conviction for possession of child pornography; I served a prison term and have been out for a number of years now.  I’ve been friends with Maggie for nearly 2 years now and she has been very supportive; I wish there were more people like her in this world but, alas, such a Utopia is impossible.  I’d like to thank her for giving me a chance to talk about my life; I’m not here to defend my actions or say that my punishment was undeserved.  I accept responsibility for what I did and will live with the consequences for the rest of my life, as the state will never let me forget.  I’m just here to tell in plain words what my life has been like since it ended.

Originally I had a short prison sentence followed by a lengthy probationary period, but when I was out about a month when I got busted for solicitation for prostitution.  I was feeling despondent and wanted some companionship (from a GROWN WOMAN mind you), but the state needed to prove it was tough by getting lonely men off the street.  So I went back to prison, but when I was released the second time I only had the “regular” RSO restrictions.  Upon release, I went first to a halfway house where I stayed in a garage room with 3 other guys; that sounds bad, but there was a worse one across the street with 15 guys living in one tiny house.  Even so, I couldn’t stand it for long, so I packed up my crap and moved back in with my mother and her alcoholic husband, who has abused us both for the last 15 years (mostly emotionally but sometimes physically).

Eventually I met a wonderful girl whom I fell in love with; I’ll call her “Annie”.  I disclosed my toxic past to her and she managed to look past it to give me a fair chance.  But her landlord was not so understanding; though it was perfectly legal for me to live there, within a week she got a notice saying they would start eviction proceedings if I didn’t move out (despite the fact that they rented to gang members and drug dealers).  So once again, I was forced to move back home.  When Annie’s lease was up she moved into my mother’s house to be with me, but that didn’t last long because my stepfather is a poison pill.  So we moved again, this time into a friend’s apartment where she and I shared a tiny bedroom with our two dogs.  Thankfully, we soon found a condo that was owned by a private individual rather than a corporation, and she didn’t mind renting to me.  That was probably the best 2 years of my life since getting out, but even that had to end as I cannot hold onto anything concrete.

For one thing, I’ve not held a steady job for over 10 years.  At first I did some temp work, but that dried up after they ran a background check on me for a specific job; after that I couldn’t find work anywhere.  I tried to go to work doing landscaping, but I’ve had knee problems for almost my entire life and the pain at the end of the day was so great I couldn’t even walk.  My mother couldn’t help, and my father won’t even return my calls or emails.  So I was being supported by my girlfriend, who in turn was being supported by her parents; unfortunately, her father became chronically ill so she returned to her home state to take care of him, and I had to move back in with my mother.  I’m still good friends with her but I miss her, our condo and our pets dreadfully.

That was nearly three years ago, and since then I’ve become increasingly isolated from society for obvious reasons.  For example, once Annie and I made friends with another couple; we had them over for dinner and a small Christmas party, and all seemed to be going well until the wife decided to see if she knew any sex offenders.  Instead of talking with me about this, they and everyone they knew decided to blackball me.  I’ve not made new friends since, save for Maggie and a few other open minded folks that nevertheless live thousands of miles away.  My relationship with my mother is tenuous at best and she, well, she’s still married to a drunk.

police lights at houseOne time a 4 year old autistic boy went missing in our neighborhood, and the sheriff’s office went all in on the search.  When I heard a reporter ask them on TV, “Is it possible the child was abducted?” I knew shit was coming my way; sure enough, a few hours later there’s a knock at the door.  Two deputies wanted to search the place without a warrant; I knew damn well that if I held out for one I could expect all sorts of fun visits in the future, so I let them in.  It turned out that the boy had drowned in a retention pool, but of course they didn’t think of something like that until after they harassed me.  I have nightmares about my incarceration, about my childhood home turning into a prison.  I’ve tried to commit suicide, but I’m bad at anatomy; all I have as a result of that are scars around the major veins.  And deep down I know it would crush my mother if I died that way, even after everything that’s happened.  I do secretly wish for my stepfather to die, as he too is unemployed and is much more of a financial and emotional drain on my mother than I am.

I have a daughter whom I’ve never met, from a failed relationship that ended before my initial arrest, and though I’d like a family of my own I know it’s quite impossible.  Aside from the economic realities, children of RSOs are often teased mercilessly by their peers and, as a result, develop depression and anxiety.  The state does nothing to protect the children of RSOs, and in some cases puts them in harm’s way; how could I willingly inflict that kind of life on a child?  People imagine that all RSOs are a danger to kids, but I’ve never abused any kid nor do I have any sort of predilection to do so.  I find child abuse abhorrent; while some may think that statement is at odds with my conviction, it happens to be the truth.  I’ve met several RSOs whose “victims” are now their wives and they have kids together; why should the state keep tabs on them and want to harass their wives and children?  I know there are some pretty bad guys out there and I don’t think there are any easy answers as to what to do with them, but I do know that bloating the registry with people who aren’t dangerous to anyone is probably a bad idea.  So there you have it; that’s my story, at least so far.  I don’t know it will end, or how much time I have left on this earth.  And I don’t know if I’ll ever get out of this torture alive, or if I’ll be gunned down by some psycho who thinks he’s serving some greater good.

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I know who held the knife, but they might as well have put it in his hands.  –  the mother of murdered sex worker Petite Jasmine

December 17th posterSeveral days a year sex workers and our allies get together, either in person or in spirit, to observe certain occasions.  On March 3rd, we agitate for our rights and reach out to our comrades in other countries.  On June 2nd, we celebrate our victories and honor those who have gone before us in the struggle.  On Friday the 13th (a celebration of my own devising) we ask allies to join with us in the fight.  And on December 17th, in a ritual perhaps appropriate for the darkest season of the year, we remember our dead.

Their number is not as grossly disproportionate as prohibitionists like to pretend, but it is still much higher than it needs to be…especially since the cause of it is almost entirely governmental attempts to suppress or criminalize consensual adult behavior.  The body count of alcohol Prohibition is legendary, and many hundreds of thousands have died as a direct result of the “War on Drugs”; if we count total casualties rather than just fatalities, the toll is somewhere in the tens of millions.  The eradication of an activity which is totally legal if performed for a different motive is even more impossible, and the futile crusade to do so has been nearly as bloody.  Under any regime where the sale of sex is either partially or fully criminalized, the great majority of violence against sex workers is inflicted by the police; most of the rest that does not result from the sadly-normal violence inherent in human interactions is attributable to either the dangerous conditions under which sex workers must function in order to avoid police violence, or the marginalization which allows the evil and twisted to pretend that we’re acceptable targets for violence because we aren’t “real” human beings anyhow.  Every serial killer who has preyed upon sex workers has voiced some version of this sentiment, and the prohibitionists who support the system which enables the violence either claim that suffering and death of whores are a “price worth paying”, or reveal their sociopathy by declaring that such violence is a good thing.

In places where sex work is decriminalized or nearly so, sex workers are not forced into the shadows.  They need not work alone or in secret, without the support of friends or employees.  They are able to take their time assessing the character of potential clients, and need not rely upon third parties who don’t “look like prostitutes” in the eyes of the police.  Because their clients are also free to transact business, they are able to reject abusive clients and select the good ones who aren’t afraid to approach them.  They need not fear violent “rescuers” who invade their workplaces, abduct them, lock them in cages and subject them to brainwashing.  They are not the victims of government propaganda intended to convince everyone that they are either subhuman criminals or pathetic, childlike victims ripe for the picking.  And when they are victims of violence (as anyone can be in this imperfect world), they have the same legal recourse as anyone else.

Though the past year has seen many examples of the violence engendered by criminalization, one in particular stands out as a perfect illustration, namely the murder of the Swedish activist known as Petite Jasmine:

Several years ago she lost custody of her children as she was considered to be an unfit parent due to being a sex worker.  The children were placed with their father regardless of him being abusive towards Jasmine.  They told her she didn’t know what was good for her and that she was “romantisizing” prostitution, they said she lacked insight and didn’t realise sex work was a form of self-harm.  He threatened and stalked her on numerous occasions, she was never offered any protection…

JasmineThe Swedish government thus forced her to remain in contact with a violent abuser who eventually murdered her, because as a sex worker she was not in their eyes worthy of consideration.  Her death, a direct result of the actions of the Swedish state, triggered off a series of anti-criminalization protests on four continents; these protests, and similar ones for other murdered sex workers, demonstrate the true spirit of December 17th:  we choose to honor our dead not merely by weeping for them, but by fighting for the day when no more of us have to die for a sick and twisted fantasy of governmental control over the private choices of individuals.

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Every decision I’ve ever made, including the decision to be a prostitute, is linked to a desire to be free.  –  Gabriela Leite

R.I.P. Gabriela Leite

Gabriela LeiteSex worker rights activist Gabriela Leite died of cancer on October 10th at the age of 62.  She organized the first Brazilian whores’ convention in 1987, then in 1992 founded a rights NGO named Davida; in 2010 she ran for the Brazilian congress (as depicted in the documentary A Kiss for Gabriela).  Though she lost the election she won tremendous respect, and a bill to eliminate the contradictory provisions in Brazilian prostitution law was recently named in her honor.  She was one of the greats, and will be sorely missed in the sex worker rights community.

Social Autoimmune Disorder

Police in Florida have begun…recording license plate information from cars that drive through areas frequented by sex workers and sending a letter to that individual’s home…[including] a close-up image of the license plate and…reminders about the potential for sexually transmitted diseases…Authorities speaking to the media seemed to assume that someone’s mere presence near illegal activity presumes their guilt…

An Educated Idiot

Charlotte Shane’s scathing review of Sudhir Venkatesh’s new book Floating City levels many of the same criticisms I and others have already made against the duplicitous sociologist (such as his total ignorance of the history of sex work, his dreadfully-low “estimates” of our income, etc).  But it also contains many telling observations about his character flaws:

…when one of his subjects is assaulted, and her co-worker asks that he not report it:  “I stood there, frustrated…What should I do?  Go along with them or call the damn police like a normal person?  I didn’t want to get sucked into their criminal value structure and end up doing the wrong thing.”  This alarming response encapsulates…[his] problem.  The desire to avoid arrest after suffering a brutal assault is a sensible one…but Venkatesh can’t wrap his head around it…he is “normal” and they are deviants…his responses are the right ones and theirs are not…Venkatesh clings to the notion that sex work is inherently, unavoidably risky, regardless of the legal and cultural circumstances…when the issue of…legalization…is raised, it’s only to dismiss it…

Not An Addiction (May Updates)rat with Oreos

Crypto-moralists are once again trying to pretend that fatty foods are addictive, but as Jacob Sullum points out:

…the study’s findings could just as truthfully be summarized… “Research Shows That Heroin and Cocaine Are No More Addictive Than Oreos.”  Putting it that way would have raised some interesting questions about the purportedly irresistible power of these drugs, which supposedly justifies using force to stop people from consuming them.  But the researchers are not interested in casting doubt on the empirical basis for the War on Drugs…they are trying to build an empirical basis for the War on Fat…if the neurological effects of Oreos make them impossible to resist, how is it that most people manage to resist them, consuming them in moderation or not at all?…

Dirty Amateurs

Whether the infection is biological or technological, it’s always the same:

…Symantec…found…that hackers…target…religious sites at a much higher rate:  “…religious and ideological sites…have triple the average number of threats per infected site than adult/pornographic sites.  We hypothesize that this is because pornographic website owners…have a vested interest in keeping their sites malware-free – it’s not good for repeat business”…

Dominating the News

Ex-vice madam Natalie Rowe has had her home raided by police days before she will make new claims about her relationship with Chancellor George Osborne…12…officers…with a battering ram burst into her London flat…[at] dawn…claiming they were acting on a tip-off…no drugs were found in the two-hour search…“WHY did one officer involved in the raid ask me whether I was about to publish my memoirs and WHY did a police inspector tell me I’d be opening a ‘whole can of worms’ if I complained?”…

Meanwhile, in Japan, “Yuka Fujisawa was arrested…for…sticking needles in gentlemen’s genitals for money…Fujisawa’s ‘needle play’ was performed on consenting adults, so her arrest is purely for the act of drawing blood without a medical license…

Elephant in the Parlor

Beleaguered former…MLA Mike Allen has received a rare note of support…from the Alberta Sex Workers.  Mr. Allen was one of 13 men caught in a St. Paul, Minnesota-area sting in July…He…could face up to a year in prison and a $3,000 fine.  “Alberta sex workers wish to assure MLA Mike Allen…that his activities…would be lawful, private and welcome in Alberta…sex workers in Mr. Allen’s riding…want him to continue as their MLA.  We feel he made a mistake taking his business out of Alberta to puritan…Minnesota, but sex workers in his constituency are still pleased to have an MLA who values the services they offer”…Christian Adamek

Moloch

How many more kids have to be sacrificed on this loathsome altar?  “A popular 15-year-old student has committed suicide after he reportedly faced expulsion and being placed on the sex offenders’ register simply for streaking at a high school football  game.  Christian Adamek, from Huntsville, Alabama,  hanged himself on October 2, a week after he was arrested…

Full of Themselves (TW3 #4)

I hope this keeps happening, so pole dancers will be forced to stand with sex workers rather than pretending they’re different:  “…Swansea University [banned its]…Pole Fitness Society…[saying] ‘Pole fitness and pole dancing are a direct spin off from lap dancing…Everyone knows where it comes from…and that pole dancing is…specifically designed to sexually excite the watcher’…”  Swansea has a long history of pearl-clutching over sex work.

The Course of a Disease

The International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe has come up with a “tool kit” containing “information, ideas and resources…to help sex worker rights…organisations and activists…challenge…[the] Swedish model.”  You can view and download the tool kit and its associated worksheets here, or visit the ICRSE website to download one individual section at a time.

Bad Fantasy, Good Reality (TW3 #7)

This short interview with Dr. Heidi Hoefinger on her book Sex, Love and Money in Cambodia supports everything I always say about Asian bar girls, but the comments are illustrative of the deep state of denial in which “trafficking” fanatics exist:  among them are the claim that a woman who spent ten years living among her subjects is “naïve” and the astonishing assertion that literally 99.99% of whores are coerced.

Above the Law

A [California] Sheriff’s Department deputy…sexually assaulted a [woman] he…pulled over…[he offered to] let [her] go in exchange for sex…[but when she] declined …he [forced her anyway]…”  The unedited original is almost incomprehensible for all the “alleged” and “unknown male” and passive voice; it even describes forcible rape as “sexual contact occurred”.  And in Kentucky, “A sexual assault lawsuit has been filed against…Sheriff Rick Clemons…‘I’m upset.  I’m very offended.  I’m actually shocked’, said Clemons…”  Cry me a fucking river.Rupert Everett

Stand-Up Guys

Rupert Everett is supporting a campaign against proposals…to criminalise sex workers’ clients.  The actor, who participated in sex work as a younger man is making a [TV] programme on the subject.  He has signed an open letter by the English Collective of Prostitutes and Queer Strike…journalist Cary Gee and a whole range of activist groups…have all added their names too…Former New Zealand MP Tim Barnett, who sponsored the…Act which decriminalised prostitution, described the…way…[end demand] laws were used…“Half of those arrested were transgender sex workers who were identified as men”…

Greeks Bearing Gifts

The noisome fruit of the “mandatory prosecution” tree:

…In an incident back in April, Joel Darvell, 36, allegedly choked his wife while drunk, causing his son to tackle him…Darvell allegedly pistol-whipped his son and then fired a .45 caliber round into the wall of their home.  No injuries were sustained.  Darvell was charged with assault…but [his] wife and children…refused to testify…Judge Michael Evans…[had them] dragged away…[to] jail…where they were held in cuffs and shackles…John Hays, who is representing Darvell’s wife…said…“The prosecutor wants to put the defendant in prison for over 20 years, and (his family members) really do not want that”…After 48 hours…the 13-year-old girl…broke…and…agreed to testify against her father.  The son and mother…were made to agree…as well…

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #28)

Everyday Whorephobia interviews Morgane Merteuil of STRASS about the especially-revolting French version of the Swedish model:

…The law also proposes to fight…[advertising] websites…all the help…[for exploited migrants] is conditional on stopping sexwork…[and] working with  an “agreed organization”; of course…sexworkers rights [groups] won’t be [among] them…if students do sexwork, it is because they don’t have the consciousness that this is “prostitution”; so the solution is to add lessons about the “objectification of the body” at school…

Schadenfreude (TW3 #43)Meas Ratha

Somaly Mam has been caught in yet another huge lie:

…in January 1998, Ms. Mam was propelled…into the international media spotlight largely owing to the harrowing on-camera testimony of the young Meas Ratha…[who supposedly had] been promised a job as a waitress in Phnom Penh, but wound up a captive in a brothel…Sixteen years [later]…Ms. Ratha—now 32 years old and married—said her testimony…was fabricated and scripted for her by Ms. Mam…Ratha…said that she did not want to cause trouble for Ms. Mam’s NGO, which had provided an education for her, but that she could no longer continue a lie that had followed her for half her life…the fabrication of Ms. Ratha’s sex slave story is only the latest incident of false information to emerge from Ms. Mam and her organizations…

And how exactly does Somaly Mam “help” sex workers?

…Estée Lauder…has opened the Somaly Mam Beauty Salon…providing survivors of sexual slavery and human trafficking with…education and vocational training…in high-touch beauty services in hair care, makeup application and nail treatments…

Well, I guess it’s better than putting them to work in her fashion industry sponsors’ sweatshops.

Us and Them

These abuses always start with stigmatized groups, but never stop there:

[UK] police are to get the power to restrict the freedom of anyone they suspect of being a sex offender, even if the person has never been convicted of a crime…This can include limiting internet use, stopping the person from being alone with a child under 16 and preventing travel abroad.  Anyone breaching the so-called Sexual Risk Order, which lasts for at least two years, could be jailed for up to five years…

Unmentionables

WH Smith shut down its website…after it was revealed that a search for the term “daddy” brought up hardcore pornographic ebooks featuring bondage and humiliation alongside stories for children.  At least 60 pornographic ebooks…could also be found on Amazon, Waterstones and Barnes & Noble…WH Smith apologised to customers and said the “explosion” of self-publishing had left book retailers exposed to pornographic content…

They weren’t “exposed” to shit; they just had a poor website design and are passing the buck.Jerry Brown masturbatory gesture

The Punitive Mindset (TW3 #337)

The governor of California pretends prison inmates don’t have sex with each other:

…Jerry Brown…vetoed a bill a that would have…required…condoms [to be] available in every California prison.  Supporters…argued that [this] would help reduce the spread of sexually transmitted diseases among inmates, who have higher rates of HIV/AIDS…Brown…noted that family visitors are already allowed to bring condoms for…overnight visits…

Policing for Profit (TW3 #341)

A money-making venture to lure…drug buyers into Sunrise [Florida] to purchase cocaine from police has been halted…Mayor Michael Ryan…lay blame…on the [newspaper story exposing the racket]…Ryan did not express concerns about…[the busts taking place] in such public locations as parking lots and family restaurants…

Shift in the Wind (TW3 #341)

Another UN agency has reaffirmed…support of sex workers in response to Equality Now’s anti-sex worker campaign…This leaves Equality Now starkly on the fringes of the global women’s movement, as organisations as authoritative as UN Women…assert…that sex work is work, not trafficking.  The statement…also…[backs] safe workplaces – which come with decriminalisation – and the right to self-determination, including the right to stay in sex work…[this] precludes…the “Swedish model”…supported by Equality Now…which tries to drive sex workers from sex work (against their consent) through making it intolerably dangerous…

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I killed those men, robbed them as cold as ice.  And I’d do it again, too…I have hate crawling through my system…I am so sick of hearing this “she’s crazy” stuff…I’m trying to tell the truth.  I’m one who seriously hates human life and would kill again.  –  Aileen Wuornos

In my harlotographies, I’ve tried to cover as broad a range as possible: from the ancient to the recently-deceased, from streetwalkers to courtesans, from the noble to the self-centered, from the wise to the deranged and from the famous to the infamous.  Three years ago this month I presented short biographies of the victims of the first known serial killer, and today the first woman to be herself so labeled:  Aileen Carol Wuornos.

Aileen Wuornos as a childShe was born in Rochester, Michigan on February 29th, 1956 to 17-year-old Diane Wuornos, who had married Aileen’s father, Leo Pittman, less than two years before.  Aileen never met him; he was in prison when she was born, and her mother had already filed for divorce.  Pittman was a schizophrenic with a long history of violent behavior, and hanged himself in prison in 1969 while serving another sentence, this time for child molestation.  In January of 1960, Diane abandoned Aileen and her older brother Keith, leaving them with her parents Lauri and Britta Wuornos; they immediately adopted the children and for many years allowed them to believe they were their parents.  Unfortunately, they were just as bad as the real parents; Lauri sexually abused his granddaughter, and Britta was both physically abusive and an alcoholic.  Like many incest victims, Aileen became sexually precocious; she had sexual contact with boys at school in exchange for drugs, cigarettes and other things she wanted, and when she turned up pregnant at 14 she named Keith as the father.  As was typical in 1970 she was sent to a home for unwed mothers, and the baby was given up for adoption.  A few months later Britta died of alcohol-induced liver failure, and Lauri threw his granddaughter out soon afterward.  Though she and her brother were placed in foster homes, Aileen ran away almost immediately and lived in a patch of woods near her old neighborhood, supporting herself via prostitution.

But she did not stay there for long; by 16 she started hitchhiking around the Midwest, working mostly at truck stops, and was arrested for drunk driving in Colorado in May of 1974.  By the beginning of 1976 she had made it to Florida, where she was picked up while hitchhiking by Lewis Fell, the wealthy 69-year-old president of a yacht club.  He immediately fell in love with her and soon proposed; she accepted, and their marriage announcement even appeared on the local paper’s society page in May of 1976.  There the story might have ended had Aileen been merely the victim of a difficult life; as should be clear, however, mental and emotional instability ran deep on both sides of her family, and she was completely incapable of settling down to the comfortable situation of a trophy wife.  Instead, she insisted on drinking at bars and getting into fights; when she was jailed for attacking a bartender while on a trip home to Michigan (after her grandfather’s suicide), Fell came to his senses and had the marriage annulled.  She was arrested July 14th; her brother died of throat cancer three days later, and the annulment went through on the 21st.

Aileen blew through her brother’s $10,000 insurance policy in only a few months and returned to truck-stop prostitution, working her way back down to Florida.  But while she had been quite pretty in her teens, hard living and her volatile temper had faded that luster; it thus became increasingly difficult for her to make a living as a whore.  She was arrested for robbing a convenience store in May of 1981, and again for passing forged checks in May of 1984.  By 1986 she had just about hit bottom: she was arrested for car theft in January, then for attempted armed robbery of a client in June.  Soon after that, however, she met a hotel maid named Tyria Moore at a lesbian bar in Daytona Beach, and they moved in together; for a while Wuornos seems to have been happy in her way, and her earnings picked up enough for Moore to quit her job and let Wuornos support both of them.  But slowly, over the next several years, the chaos which followed Wuornos like a cloud returned and worsened.  In July of 1987, she got in a fight at a bar, then in March of 1988 with a bus driver.  And by the end of the following year, she had returned to where she was when she met Moore, and started robbing her clients…this time, killing them in the process.

Aileen WuornosThe particulars of the case are discussed in exhaustive detail all over the internet if you’re interested, so there’s no need to repeat them here.  Suffice to say that between December 1st, 1989 and November 19th, 1990, Aileen Wuornos murdered seven men – Richard Mallory, David Spears, Charles Carskaddon, Peter Siems, Troy Burress, Charles Humphreys and Walter Antonio, all with the same delicate little .22 caliber purse gun.  Moore was still with her at least until the fourth murder, but sometime after that they broke up and Moore went home to Pennsylvania.  She later admitted to knowing about the first murder, but claimed to have deliberately avoided asking about the others because she didn’t want to know.  Wuornos was a terribly sloppy criminal; she left a string of witnesses, fingerprints and pawned loot across Florida, and had the police been competent she would have been caught much earlier.  Wuornos was finally arrested on January 9th, 1991, and Moore the next day; she agreed to testify in exchange for immunity from prosecution, and even talked Wuornos into confessing on the phone.  In that confession, Wuornos claimed that every single one of the men had tried to rape her, and that she had killed them all in self-defense.

Predictably, credulous feminists swallowed every word and touted her as some kind of heroine; remember, this was the height of child sexual abuse hysteria.  But she was neither a heroine nor the “man-hating lesbian” some pundits claimed; she was merely an unstable sociopath whose restless, violent life had exacerbated her existing problems.  At first, she seemed to enjoy the publicity and continually retold her story to recast herself more and more as the victim, ignoring her public defenders’ entreaties that she remain silent and insisting she be allowed to tell her story in court.  When the jury at her first trial (for Mallory’s murder) compared her absurdly-embellished version with the original videotaped confession, any credibility she may have had disintegrated; it took less than two hours for them to convict her of first-degree murder, and she responded by screaming “I hope you get raped!” at them.  She was sentenced to death.  Before her next trial could start, she decided to “get right with God” by pleading no contest to the murders of Humphreys, Burress and Spears, claiming in her statement that though Mallory (who had a previous conviction for the crime) did indeed rape her, she had only feared the others would and killed them before they could do so.  She was given three more death sentences.

Wuornos spent the next decade on death row, her mental health deteriorating the entire time.  In 2001 she fired her legal counsel and stated that she was giving up appeals, but then insisted that the prison staff were torturing her by contaminating and even poisoning her food so as to drive her to suicide before her execution; she also claimed that they intended to rape her before she died.  During the last few years of her life she gave a a series of interviews to Nick Broomfield, who had already made a documentary about her in 1993 (Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer) and was in the process of making another (released in 2003 as Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer); the video below is the last such interview, made the night before her death.

She was executed by lethal injection on October 9th, 2002 after declining a last meal (she wanted only a cup of black coffee).  Her last words were, “I’d just like to say I’m sailing with the rock, and I’ll be back like Independence Day, with Jesus June 6th.  Like the movie, big mother ship and all, I’ll be back.”

There are some women I’m proud to share a profession with, and others I’m not; women like Theodora and Skittles show whores at our best, while women like Aileen Wuornos show us at our worst.  But I think her story is an important part of the picture, because it demonstrates once again that there is no one type of woman who sells sex, nor any consistent pattern to our lives and fates.

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