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Posts Tagged ‘drivers’

We only have so many criminal justice dollars, and we need to apply them…toward the areas where we’re afraid of the perpetrators…We’re not afraid of prostitutes. We’re just mad at them.  -  John Whitmire

R.I.P. Virginia Johnson

Virginia JohnsonThe female half of Masters and Johnson, the pioneering sex researchers, has died at the age of 88 (Dr. Masters died in 2001).  Though she never got a degree, Johnson’s intelligence, insight and willingness to speak candidly about the female sexual experience allowed the duo to accomplish what Masters’ academic credentials alone could never have: a thorough exploration of the sexual responses of both men and women, with a strong emphasis on direct measurement rather than the omnipresent questionnaires of most latter-day sex research.  Johnson’s importance to sexology cannot be overstated; it is not an exaggeration to say that modern women, in large part, are indebted to her for their current ability to openly discuss sex and sexual needs.

Bad Girls

How much of this story about the “Starlet Bandits” (a gang of hookers turned bank robbers) is true, and how much a combination of moral panic, journalistic exaggeration and Tarantinoesque tale-telling from a pimp who wanted to be a star?  There’s no way to tell, but I won’t be at all surprised to see it presented as a movie in about seven years.

Reading Between the Lines

Yet another “Operation Cross-Country” has resulted in the persecution of many hundreds of American sex workers.  The FBI is crowing that it “rescued 105 child sex-trafficking victims” and arrested “150 pimps”, but in reality the young women claimed to be “rescued” were also arrested, as demonstrated by this video released by the FBI itself.  As in the last couple of raids, officials are hiding the number of adult hookers busted in this vast boondoggle; however, if the proportions are the same as in the last case for which full figures are available, there were almost 1200 of them.  Even the identities of the so-called “pimps” (most likely male sex workers, drivers, etc) and “rescued children” (some of whom might actually be the children of the arrested women) are in question because the FBI plays fast and loose with the facts.  Consider that in the initial press release it was claimed that the youngest “victim” was 9 and another was so happy to be “rescued” she consented to an interview; later it came out that the youngest was 13 and the interviewee was actually an informant who has been working with them for years.  I suggest you judge the veracity of the other claims by that measure.

Real People

Cathryn Berarovich, a sex worker who writes a column for The Gloss, interviews a streetwalker who has recently gone indoors via online advertising.  Not only is the interview itself quite interesting, so is the story of how Cathryn met her.Tizzy Wall

What the Hell Were You Thinking?

Tizzy Wall (one of my pals from the Desiree conference) recently published “Safety Tips from Sex Workers”, in which she teaches amateurs how to use some of our screening tricks to keep safe:

Although meeting someone at a bar is not necessarily any safer, removing the ability to judge someone’s mannerisms and demeanor can understandably make the less tech-savvy nervous.  Who knows if that hottie on Grindr is going to turn out to be scary?  Even common dating sites like OkCupid host their fair share of creeps who can put the bravest of romance-seekers on high alert…Thankfully, the web offers a bevy of nifty little options that allow us to vet someone before a face-to-face meeting.  You may not be able to screen just like a sex worker, but you can still get some use out of their tools.  This may be the one (and only) time you find a sex worker giving tips rather than collecting them, so take note of these hard-earned harm-preventative measures that anyone can use…

Peeping Toms

…In…at least a dozen cases since 2011…[the Baton Rouge] Sheriff’s Office…used [Louisiana’s anti-sodomy law, which was struck down by Lawrence vs. Texas a decade ago]…to ensnare men who merely discussed or agreed to have consensual sex with an undercover agent…District Attorney Hillar Moore III said his office refused to prosecute…the cases…a Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman…denied that investigators had been misapplying the…law [because it] remains among the state’s criminal statutes…Peter Renn, an attorney with Lambda Legal…said the pattern…suggests authorities are using the stings as a means to harass gay men…“This is basically like the police putting up a sign that says ‘Please sue me’”…

The Mote and the Beam

You know that quote that says insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results?

Kirkland police served a search warrant against the infamous online ad company backpage.com, seeking information about its alleged promotion of prostitution…at the Motel 6 in north Kirkland…State Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced…he and 49 attorneys general are asking Congress to give them the power to fight online ads promoting prostitution…

Say, Bob, how’d it turn out last time y’all tried that?  Oh, yeah, the State of Washington admitted it knew trying to hold websites responsible for third-party content was unconstitutional.  But hey, the $200,000 the judge made y’all pay Backpage didn’t come out of your pocket, so it’s no big deal to you, right?

Law of the Instrument (TW3 #25)

Another case of “human trafficking” meaning whatever the “authorities” want it to mean:  “Two men who were arrested…in connection to a large marijuana growing operation are now facing human trafficking charges…the pair brought a 15-year-old runaway girl from Southern California to their grow location [and] sexually assaulted her…”  She was not forced to work in any way; in other words, this is a case of abduction and rape.  Remember this next time you see “trafficking” statistics.

The Pro-Rape Coalition (TW3 #35)

Spongebob upsetMorality in Media’s campaign to get men’s magazines banned from military property has failed, sort of.  While the Department of Defense stated categorically that “the department’s Resale Activities Board of Review previously…concluded those magazines do not meet the definition of sexually explicit material under the [Military Honor and Decency Act of 1996], and are permissible for sale”.  However, Army and Air Force Exchange stores have announced they will no longer sell them:

…the decision…was not based on morality, but merely because the magazines were not selling, as people now get their pornography online…AAFES said it was permanently removing 891 magazines from its stock, including SpongeBob Comics and the Home Buyers Guide…to…create 33% more space in the stores to sell items such as DVDs and video games…

There is no word on whether the separately-run Naval Exchange stores are planning to do the same; SpongeBob was not available for comment.

King of the Hill

Cleveland obviously couldn’t stand Toledo claiming to be the biggest “sex trafficking hub” in the region:  “Ohio is a major pipeline for human trafficking, taking young, lost girls and turning them into sex slaves…the average age is now 12 for entry into this dark world…”  I just love the expression “turning them into sex slaves”; it sounds so science fictional.

Down Under (TW3 #40)

The predictable result of the years-long “crackdown” on street work in St. Kilda:

Members of the Victorian sex industry are calling on the state government to decriminalise street-based sex work after the death of a woman in St Kilda…Tracy Connelly, a 40-year-old sex worker known professionally as Kelly, was murdered in daylight…on July 21…Police said she had severe face and upper-body injuries and had suffered a “horrific” death…Janelle Fawkes…of…Scarlett [sic] Alliance, said by decriminalising street-based sex work, workers would look to police as protector rather than prosecutor, and thus feel safe to speak out when threatened or assaulted…

Follow Your Bliss (TW3 #44)Larry Kobielnik

As previously explained, “The TSA attracts criminals and those with personality disorders that exaggerate control and sociopathic tendencies…”:

A former [Florida] police officer kidnapped a woman at gunpoint and raped her while he held her captive for several hours…Larry Kobielnik, 37…an officer with the [TSA] for 11 years…offered the 30-year-old a ride…then pulled out a handgun and a police badge, placed the woman in handcuffs and told her she was under arrest…[he then] drove her…to a house…where he raped her…he [eventually] fell asleep, allowing her to escape and record his car’s license plate number…

The Public Eye (TW3 #49)

Here’s an interview with Kristen DiAngelo about her film, American Courtesans; it was screened at Desiree, but for some reason it was scheduled last in the evening (after two other movies I didn’t want to see), so I was not able to attend.  The interview doesn’t cover any new ground for readers of this blog, but note the venue (MSN) and the positive attitude of the interviewer.  Given some previous pro-decriminalization stuff from the Gates Foundation, perhaps Microsoft may eventually develop into a real ally.

Skin To Skin

Since prostitution is already legal in Spain, I’m guessing this campaign wants to ensure that no ridiculous “pimping” laws can be used to harass organizations which connect sex workers with disabled clients:

A Catalan organization which helps provide disabled people with sexual relations is pushing for “disability” prostitutes to become legal in Spain…Jaume Girbau…is…the engine behind Sex Asistent Catalunya…[which] wants the…government to…make sexual assistants legal as they already are in many countries across Europe, including Germany, Switzerland, Holland and Denmark.  Some of these countries pay for the services with public funds…The group is already putting together the teaching material with the aim of offering those interested inEscape from the White Savior Industrial Complex professional training a…university degree…

FarmVille (TW3 #138)

Escape from the White-Savior Industrial Complex”  is a simple parody of Nicholas Kristof’s Half the Sky FaceBook game, designed and programmed by a recovering Kristof groupie.  Can you help Radhika escape “rescue”?

Coming and Going (TW3 #311)

You know that Texas “diversion” program that’s supposed to be so bloody wonderful?  One of things it does is teaches the women to blame themselves for the state’s criminalization of consensual behavior.

Dutch Threat

Amsterdam city council can continue with its policy of reducing the number of brothel owners in its red light district, the government’s highest advisory body…said…The city council began cleaning up the red light district in 2008 and has now introduced new zoning laws which make it possible to evict brothel owners who are uncooperative.  The aim is to reclaim one of the oldest and most picturesque parts of the city by encouraging exclusive shops to open there…62 red light windows will have to close…

Credit Where Credit is DuePat Robertson

Pat Robertson seems to be slowly going sane:

…Pat Robertson said on his show…that he believes transgender people are real, and that there’s “no sin” associated with that.  While Robertson’s entire comment isn’t perfect, it’s still surprisingly positive… “There are men who are in a woman’s body… it’s very rare but it’s true, or women that are in men’s bodies, and they want a sex change…I don’t think there’s any sin associated with that.  I don’t condemn somebody for doing that.”

An Example to the West (TW3 #316)

Nicaraguan sex workers have…set up an office to assist in protection from abuse, violence and discrimination…Prostitution is illegal in Nicaragua but authorities often turn a blind eye to it…Retrasex is part of a Latin American and Caribbean network of 1,000 affiliates…[which] is fighting to change the vocabulary used by media and official institutions to…the term “sex workers.”  The organization also seeks to influence social, health and education policy, as well as push for rights…

Celebrity

Steph Wilcock, another of my friends from Desiree, has unveiled her “Sex Workers Speakeasy” project, “the aim of [which] is to allow current and former sex workers a platform from which to express our experiences of working in an industry besieged by blame, discrimination, prejudice, and stigma.”  It will consist of very short videos like the one at this link, which Steph made of me just before we went to the after-party on Thursday night; if you’re a sex worker who’d like to participate, Steph explains how following the video.

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Only crime and the criminal…confront us with the perplexity of radical evil; but only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core.  -  Hannah Arendt

Most of you probably heard about this on Thursday:

A [San Antonio, Texas] jury…acquitted Ezekiel Gilbert of murder in the death of a 23-year-old Craigslist escort…Lenora Ivie Frago…died about seven months after she was shot in the neck and paralyzed on Christmas Eve 2009.  Gilbert admitted shooting Frago…but said the intent wasn’t to kill.  Gilbert’s actions were justified, [his lawyers] argued, because he was trying to retrieve stolen property:  the $150 he paid Frago.  It became theft when she refused to have sex with him or give the money back…Frago walked around his apartment and after about 20 minutes left, saying she had to give the money to her driver…[who] was [allegedly] Frago’s pimp and her partner in the theft scheme.  The Texas law that allows people to use deadly force to recover property during a nighttime theft was put in place for “law-abiding” citizens, prosecutors…countered.  It’s not intended for someone trying to force another person into an illegal act such as prostitution…

Ezekiel GilbertThat article, which was reasonably objective by the low standards of modern American journalism, was not the one which was bruited about the most, however; that honor went to Gawker‘s Texas Says It’s OK to Shoot an Escort If She Won’t Have Sex With You”, whose inflammatory headline masked its essentially-similar content.  Jezebel’s take on the matter, “How an Insane Texas Law Made It Legal for a Man to Kill a Prostitute”, carried it another step farther away from the real issue at hand, but Huffington Post won the obfuscation hat trick with “Ezekiel Gilbert Acquitted Of Murdering Woman Who Wouldn’t Have Sex”, a headline which almost completely obscures the real point.  But before we expose the moral putrefaction which made this deplorable outcome possible, let’s dispense with a few other distractions.

One:  This is not about Texas per se, no matter how much regionalists are trying to make it so; nor is it about “American gun culture” or any other such crap.  Pretending it’s about that is an unhelpful distraction from the real issues at hand, and therefore NOT A WELCOME TOPIC FOR DISCUSSION IN THE COMMENT THREAD.  Nearly every place in the world would excuse behavior not materially different from Gilbert’s as long as “authorized” people are shooting at those designated as criminals, and arguing about which specific circumstances justify it is a red herring.

Two:  I don’t really feel comfortable with using a woman who at first glance appears to be either an extortionist or a really inept cash-and-dash artist as a poster child for violence against sex workers.  No, petty theft doesn’t deserve death, but at the same time it’s really stupid, dangerous and unethical to go into a strange place alone with a strange man and attempt to cheat him (if Gilbert is telling the truth, which is by no means certain).  This is not “victim blaming”; it’s insisting that discussions be grounded in reality rather than some imaginary Utopia where life is fair.

Three:  To those who insists that Gilbert was essentially trying to rape Frago, because escorting is a legal business and it says right there in the ad that “money exchanged is for time and companionship only” and “this is not an offer of prostitution”:  Please shut the fuck up.  You are an idiot, you’re not helping, and you need to reread the last line in the item above and then get a life.

Four:  No, it really doesn’t matter that she had a vagina and he had a penis; the advantage of a gun is that it removes physical size and strength from the equation.  The core issues here would be exactly the same if a female drug user had shot a male drug dealer for selling her a bag of cornstarch for $150 instead of the heroin she was promised.

Lenora FragoThat last conveniently introduces the real issue here, the rotten core of this whole rotten situation.  In Texas (as in most of the United States), the exchange of money for sex is illegal in and of itself.  I’ll clarify that for international readers:  in the US, just talking about something or agreeing to do something completely legal suddenly becomes illegal if certain taboo magic words are spoken or even implied.  Let that sink in:  no evidence of any kind is necessary, just the cop’s accusation.  And it swings equally both ways:  a policewoman can accuse a man of soliciting her just as easily as a male cop can accuse a woman, and the chosen victim will be arrested and “named and shamed” with no due process whatsoever, just on a cop’s say-so.  Furthermore, in Texas and ten other states, prostitution can be a felony (i.e. the same class of crime as assault, rape, grand theft, manslaughter, etc); under rapidly-spreading “end demand” and “sex trafficking” laws, hiring a hooker can be as well (with a potential for decades in prison and other serious consequences).  In Craigslist-style hooking, there’s no screening in either direction; both parties know the other could be a cop, and that makes both of them understandably nervous…possibly nervous enough to walk around for twenty minutes and then lose one’s nerve, and possibly nervous enough to get trigger-happy.

And that’s just the beginning of the rot.  Consider that the prohibitionists have been spreading anti-whore lies for a very long time; we’ve been “degenerates” or “monsters” for centuries, “criminals” for one century and the victims of brutal “pimps” (who may also be international gangsters) for over a decade now (there was an alleged “pimp” right outside, remember?)  Which of these overlapping myths did the jurors believe?  The law used by Gilbert’s defense was enacted to allow homeowners to defend themselves against robbery, which Texas law pretends is no worse a crime than compensated sex.  The defense portrayed Gilbert as a man facing a “criminal” defined by Texas law as being at least as anti-social as a burglar, whom neofeminist prohibitionists have painted as being desperate, emotionally crippled and dominated by brutes.  Prosecutors like to select jurors who display strong “law and order” attitudes; it appears to me that this time, they succeeded better than they had hoped because the jurors simply refused to see the “criminal” Frago as a victim.  But before you condemn them as sociopaths, let’s try a thought experiment:  go back to number four above.  Can you imagine a big outcry in that situation?  If both participants in that incident were black, can you even imagine it becoming a national news story, let alone a source of outrage?  And if Gilbert had been wearing a certain blue costume, and his victim had been young and male, and the so-called “crime” had involved buying drugs rather than buying sex, it might never have made it into the San Antonio Express-News as anything other than a line item under the heading “police reports”.

rotten appleThis is the putrid heart of the whole stinking business.  Though we may disagree on the particulars (such as allowed levels of provocation and lethality), most people will agree that individuals have the right to defend themselves against criminals.  But when “authorities” and other dangerous busybodies stretch the definition of “criminal” to include people engaged in voluntary transactions, then spread propaganda in order to convince the populace that individuals so engaged are criminals in a true and meaningful sense rather than a merely arbitrary one, and then pass laws so dangerous and repressive that those individuals fear for their safety and actual criminals are drawn into the resulting black market, is anyone surprised when twelve ignorant people with no personal interest in the matter can be swayed by whichever of two important-looking men makes a more convincing argument?  Because that’s exactly what happened here, folks:  in matters of great complexity, when neither of the sides seems terribly sympathetic, our legal system is on exactly the same moral level as trial by combat; the contest is decided by the relative skill of the opponents rather than the salient facts of the question to be decided.  As long as we allow and even encourage our governments to criminalize private, consensual behaviors with no clear victim and no actual corpus delicti, lots more people are going to be senselessly killed and lots of senseless killers are going to get away with it.  And no hypocrite who supports such a system has any business whatsoever complaining about that inevitable and highly-predictable outcome.

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Can relationships with different sexual histories really last?  Say for example one partner has had over 50 partners while the other one has had 2 or 3, or one only having experience with oral/vaginal and the other everything under the rainbow?  Are such relationships very likely to fail, or are they just like any other relationship?

hot and coldNumber of partners is completely immaterial unless one of the partners uses it to make trouble.  Usually, it’s worse if the woman has had more sexual partners than the man, but I’ve also seen women who will use a man’s relative promiscuity as an excuse to fight.  I’ve also seen many relationships with HUGE disparities work out just fine.  As with anything else, if two people are really compatible it’s just not an issue; if they aren’t, anything can trigger arguments.  It’s certainly true, however, that a person used to a lot of variety in activities might get bored if his partner is strictly the missionary-in-the-dark type and refuses to adapt.

I recently started a new, high-paying job, but I won’t get my first paycheck until next month and I have a lot of bills that can’t wait.  So I am thinking about posting on Backpage and escorting for a short while.  However, I don’t have a car and I’m not sure how much to ask in Dallas (is $200 an hour too much?)  Also, how can I protect myself from undercover cops?

If you’ve never hooked before, you need to be extremely careful.  $200 is typical for Dallas, so that’s OK; having men come to your location (incall) is actually helpful for avoiding cops because they generally prefer to have their targets come to them.  Of course, that still means you need to set yourself up in a hotel room first, unless you really want strangers knowing where you live (which I would not advise).  The alternative is either a taxi or getting a ride from someone you can trust to know what you’re doing.  You’ll need someone like that anyway; it’s not safe to be alone with a strange man without someone knowing where you are, what you’re doing, when he got there and when he’s supposed to leave (or when you got there and plan to leave).  If you don’t want to trust a friend, you might consider doing a few jobs for an agency instead of placing an ad yourself so that they can monitor you.  But if you do place an ad, please keep it tasteful; a lot of “sexy” talk attracts both sleazy guys and cops, and you don’t need either of those.  You didn’t mention health protection, but I cannot possibly stress enough that you absolutely MUST use condoms, no matter how much extra he offers you to skip them.  Finally, please read my post about screening and follow the advice in it.  Good luck!

What’s the difference between prostitution and escorting?  I have come across several high-end escort websites and I notice that all of these beautiful women have a disclaimer on the front page stating that payment is only for time and companionship, usually followed by “This is not an offer of prostitution!”  Does this mean I am safe from the law?  Is it legal to pay money for time and companionship services?

French cops with prostitutesThere is no difference between escorting and prostitution; though some escorts may claim differently, escorting is simply one of many types of prostitution.  The disclaimer you’re referring to is practically omnipresent on escort websites, and the protection is gives them is worth exactly what it cost for them to put it there: zero.  It’s just like the various formulae they imagine will reveal a cop in a sting:  “If you don’t take the money in your hand, they can’t arrest you,” or “cops aren’t allowed to take their clothes off,” or “cops can’t touch the girl,” or “cops have to answer truthfully if one asks if they’re cops.”  None of these things are true; they’re the equivalent of magical charms whispered by the superstitious before going into danger.  If a cop wants to arrest a woman he will, no matter what she says, does, doesn’t say, doesn’t do or writes on her website; even if the cops really had such rules (which they don’t), they would simply lie and claim the woman said or did whatever was needed to arrest her, or that they (the cops) didn’t do whatever it was they weren’t supposed to do.

So though the answer to your question is technically “yes” (it is indeed legal to pay for time and companionship), in actuality if you respond to a fake escort ad you will be arrested no matter what you didn’t say to the disguised policewoman.  The way to avoid this is to only make appointments with known escorts who either have good reviews or are recommended to you by friends; that way you know that the lady is a reputable businesswoman rather than bait to trick you into jail.

(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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Feminism still feels like someone rescuing me from the patriarchy so that I may be told what to do by “sisters” who need to get their opinions out of my knickers.  -  Sarah Woolley

Lack of Evidence

The Fourth District Court of Appeal…deemed West Palm Beach’s “loitering with intent to commit prostitution” ordinance unconstitutional…[because it was] “overbroad and vague”   It… cited a 1993 Florida Supreme Court ruling [striking down]…a similar law [in Tampa for discriminating]…against previously convicted prostitutes.  [The earlier decision stated that]…“All Florida citizens enjoy the inherent right to window shop, saunter down a sidewalk, and wave to friends and passerby with no fear of arrest”…

Meanwhile, in California, “Two women suspected of loitering with the intent to commit prostitution were arrested at a Burbank hotel…after officers reportedly discovered incriminating text messages, condoms and oils in their possession…

Check Your Premises

…Baltimore City police officer [Lamin Manneh]…and his…wife [Marissa Braun were]…charged with human trafficking…19-year-old [Braun was caught in a sting]…and…investigators charged the pair with human trafficking because Braun looked so young…”  You read that correctly; she’s been charged with “trafficking” herself.RedTraSex street art

Feminine Pragmatism

Justice minister Francisco Dominguez’s warning…that…men…who seek [paid] sex…will be…[prosecuted] has roiled [Dominican] workers… “There are customers who’ve called us to tell us that they won’t come”…said Carla Matos…who…said she had to become a prostitute…to raise her children…”What we’ll have to do in a couple of days will be to go out and rob and kill people, because imagine, we can’t do nothing else.  I will not let my children starve,” [Jennifer] Paniagua said.

The Prudish Giant

From the “progressive” Huffington Post:

Not only is “prostitution” a tagged skill you can select on LinkedIn, there are actually escorts who advertise their services [there]…[but] LinkedIn…now explicitly bans escorts from using the site…The new user agreement states that you must not:  “Create profiles or provide content that promotes escort services or prostitution” even if [they are] legal where you live…Not only can you list “prostitution” as a skill, you can list a whole lot of other unsavory skills like “rape,” “shoplifting,” “gangs,” “manslaughter,” and “drug trafficking”…

Yes, the writer did seriously equate consensual sex with rape and murder.  Dr. Brooke Magnanti comments on the absurdity and futility of the whole thing.

An Angel of Mercy

Shona Langley, a street sex worker support officer, and Charlotte Crossland, a harm reduction nurse…[work for] the Harm Reduction project…[in] Lancashire…twice a week…they load their van with…condoms, panic alarms, needles and bank note checker pens, while Charlotte offers Hepatitis B and other vaccinations…[and] treatment for minor health issues…Shona said:  “We don’t judge.  We are not here to criticise or bully them into stopping what they do”…

Scapegoats

[David Beckman of Illinois]…faces a charge of misdemeanor animal cruelty after police said he sexually abused his pet peacock…police learned the bird died while they were investigating Beckman about an alleged case of indecent solicitation of a child…

jelly wrestlingObjectification Overruled

Feminists at Cambridge University lead such privileged, unchallenging lives that they imagine jelly wrestling (girls grappling in gelatin in front of male spectators) has “a significant role to play in the degradation and abuse of women,” and imagine they’ve won a great victory for womankind via a petition which caused the event to be cancelled.  Sarah Woolley explains why this is pure bollocks:

…”objectification” is a herd word used by women who can rarely recall the name of their last waitress…If a person sees a woman arse-deep in jelly and regards her as subhuman because of it, then that shit is on them…it takes more than nudity to cancel out a man’s regard for a woman as a human being.  There will be misogynists in any crowd but –newsflash- a true woman hater will dehumanise you no matter how you behave or what you wear…Cambridge feminists …[are affiliated] with Object…a group known for lobbying against sex worker rights and for spreading irresponsible misinformation -particularly the fantasy that the Olympics would usher in an “explosion of prostitution.”  Also on the list is “Smash Miss Contest”  who “set off stink bombs”…at beauty pageants…

Worms in the Apple

New York City’s wallowing in the “end demand” sewer produced this grotesque display of political pandering:

…mayoral candidates…argued for tougher penalties.  Joseph J. Lhota…[called] for “a john list every day in the newspaper”…Adolfo Carrión Jr…went further, saying he would publish their license plate numbers…the moderator…took note of Edward I. Koch’s controversial directive…to read the names of convicted male customers on air…Christine C. Quinn…said she disagreed with publicizing the names…[but] favored an “incredibly effective” program in Brooklyn…that forces “johns” to sit through a program intended to deter bad behavior…

And no, “john schools” are not “incredibly effective”.

Finding What Isn’t There

police admit they do not know the scale of trafficking in Victoria’s illegal brothels and cannot say how many…there are.  The cloak of anonymity and secrecy surrounding the industry makes it hard for police to investigate, Senior Sergeant Marilynn Ross told [a parliamentary] inquiry…”we suspect that in a small number of…licensed brothels human trafficking is occurring…on a…larger scale”…

Translation:  “There’s no evidence whatsoever and the real experts say otherwise, but this makes a perfect excuse to ask for more power to stick our noses into people’s private business.”

Whorearchy (TW3 #19)

Prostitutes helped clean up the streets of Murcia, Spain, in an effort to draw attention to…[a] proposed bylaw…aimed at curbing prostitution and sexual exploitation [which] would damage [their] livelihood…”We’ve spoken with neighbors and local business owners and…they’ve told us that there’s no problem as long as we follow some of the requests that they’ve made, such as sticking to a timetable and keeping the streets clean…That’s why we decided to hold a clean-up day.  We wanted to show that we…want to get on well with everyone”…

Worse Than I ThoughtTraffic in Souls

As I predicted, the cancer of incredibly-broad “sex trafficking” laws based on the CASE Act is spreading, now to Pennsylvania:

House Bill 663, which was unanimously passed 195-0…expands what the state considers “commercial sex acts” and raises the crime of buying or selling people for sex work from a third-degree to a…first-degree felony.  Under the new bill, the definition of commercial sex includes being forced to perform “any sexual activity…in which anything of value is given…or received”…

The bill’s sponsor complains that the “current law is vague”, but what he actually means is that it isn’t vague enough.

So Close and Yet So Far

Another would-be ally misses the bus by not bothering to check with sex workers first; though she makes several very good arguments against criminalization and recognizes from the title on that sex work is work, she also overestimates the role of pimps and the prevalence of street work, accepts the false “sex trafficking” dichotomy, supports regulation and licensing and ends by undermining her own argument with the typical mealy-mouthed disclaimer, “I am not endorsing the act of selling sex.”

Schadenfreude (TW3 #43)

Another rescue industry icon is exposed as a con artist:

Cecilia Flores-Oebanda has…become the face of the Philippines anti-trafficking movement…but now she is fighting a battle that could truly ruin her.  Fraud allegations made by Philippine investigators threaten to destroy her reputation and the anti-trafficking organization she’s run for more than two decades…

Nonetheless, the credulous CNN reporters spends about 95% of the story lauding her and repeating her bullshit stories, apparently forgetting about that word “fraud”.

Across the Pond (TW3 #45)

Scottish local governments seem unusually resistant to anti-sex business hype:

The owners of an over-21s nightclub in Inverness have been issued a licence to introduce lap dancing…Rhoda Grant…said…“The commodification of woman in society is damaging and I would have hoped the objections raised by the Highland Violence Against Women Strategy Group would have been listened to”…

Japanese Prostitution (TW3 #131)Toru Hashimoto

A perfect demonstration of how the “sex trafficking” paradigm confuses those whose minds it pollutes:

…Osaka Mayor…Toru Hashimoto…told reporters…that Japan’s wartime sex slave system… “were necessary in order to provide relaxation for those brave soldiers who had been in the line of fire”…Hours later [he said]…he’d…told [U.S. military brass] that…there were legal facilities for releasing sexual energy, and that unless soldiers in Okinawa made more use of similar facilities, it would be difficult to control the sexual energy of the marines…

The media have conflated two totally different statements.  What Hashimoto said about military personnel needing whores is true and every experienced commander knows it, no matter what political crap the Pentagon may emit.  But that isn’t the same as his disgusting rationalization of the enslavement of the comfort women, who were neither professional sex workers nor volunteers.

Skin To Skin

A centre in Nuremberg is offering a course to sex industry professionals on how to cater to the sexual needs of disabled clients.  Those who complete training successfully attain a certificate in “sexual accompaniment and assistance”…

Comfort Zone

It’s great to see ever-larger numbers of academics openly declaring that the “trafficking” narrative is largely an excuse for restricting migration:

“anti-trafficking”…essentialises gender and childhood, it confuses and obfuscates, and…it…acts against the interests of many that it purports to serve…the state is directly and inescapably the source of vulnerability…those formally excluded are given…the right NOT to enter, to be protected from movement.  The [victim of "trafficking"]…is supposed to return home.  Indeed the narrative is that she wants to return home, and part of her innocence and victimhood is that she never wanted to move in the first place…immigration controls are claimed to be a mechanism of protection for migrants, rather than a mechanism of oppression…

And here’s a UN official on bogus data and bad definitions:

…data is often taken from methodologies that are not…estimates…media…have often reported that 79% of trafficking is for sexual exploitation, based on the “Global Report on Trafficking in Persons” by UNODC…[but] the data is of victims identified by state authorities and of convicted traffickers…The internationally recognized definition of human trafficking states the purpose of human trafficking is for exploitation…yet [it] is…equated with sex work or irregular…migration…as a result…data on trafficked persons almost exclusively focused on women and children trafficked for sexual exploitation…

Cops and Condoms (TW3 #313)

If we’re honest, many of us do see condoms as robbing us of pleasure, stealing some excitement and spontaneity…and dulling the intensity of sexuality…These factors are the primary reasons that still only 60 percent of teenagers claim to use condoms…[and] usage declines as people grow older.  The number one reason…is the reduction of pleasure…[but] criticism of the condom opens one to…demonization…Bill Gates’…plans to make a condom that “is felt to enhance pleasure”…came under ideological fireGawker called the argument that condoms reduce sensitivity one for “creeps” and “pervs,” while Popular Science reacted by concluding “men are idiots.”  Salon likened any criticism of the condom’s detrimental effect on sexuality to “whining“…

The Naked Anthropologist (TW3 #314)

The Proper Study (TW3 #319)

The feminist antiporn group Stop Porn Culture has sponsored a petition…to change the editorial board and title of Routledge’s forthcoming…publicationPorn Studies…Constance Penley…co-editor of The Feminist Porn Book…[said] “[The petition] reveals a total lack of understanding about academic freedom, academic integrity and the nature of scholarship…and…how desperate the antiporn people are to prevent any research being done that might not support their ideological position”…

Somewhere in the Middle

St. John’s, Newfoundland has just over 200,000 people, which means fewer than 100,000 males.  The escort interviewed for this article (“Iris”) says there are about 30 escorts working there full-time, and doing such good business travelling girls are stopping in as well.  Now, ask yourself:  is it credible that only about 14,000 of those men have ever paid, that the majority of those who did are now regulars and that those working girls are doing well on an average of 1 client per day?  Or is it more likely that the claim few men ever pay for sex is completely absurd?  As Iris said, “We wouldn’t be doing this well if your husbands and boyfriends and friends weren’t coming to see us.  It’s that simple.”

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The laws just don’t make sense.  They don’t help sex workers.  They don’t protect sex workers.  They increase their risks and they make it harder for them to do their jobs.  –  Chris Bruckert

Cops and Condoms

Ugandan men are even worse about condoms than American and European ones; the sex workers interviewed for this article say that only about 20% of clients will agree to use one,  even when the worker tells them she is HIV+.  The problem is that many workers there will provide bareback (“live” in Ugandan slang) on demand, so a woman who insists on condoms is at a competitive disadvantage.

See No Evil

A New Zealand court has sentenced a man to three months in prison for downloading cartoon porn.  Ronald Clark has previous convictions for sexually abusing a minor, but the Japanese hentai he watched…[involved only] drawings…[and these were not even of humans, but rather] “elves and pixies, which led to concerns the images were linked to child sexual abuse…

The More the Better (TW3 #4)Heidi Fleiss at renovated brothel

Heidi Fleiss…is…helping to renovate Dennis Hof’s Love Ranch…in Crystal, Nevada… “this…was very similar to a women’s penitentiary…You had to go through all these weird bars and buzzers, and someone’s peering out the little peephole, scoping you up and down… It was really a creepy feeling.”  [Fleiss says she wants the brothel to be] “…not the dirty little secret where people drive up and sneak in…and then afterwards they’re full of shame…It’s something where people are so proud to be here, not only do they come back, but bring their friends back.”

The Notorious Badge (TW3 #15)

In The Client List…Jennifer Love Hewitt plays a struggling housewife who takes a rub-down side job in order to support her kids after her husband disappears.  The show…has always struck us as more campy nonsense than an accurate portrayal of the erotic massage business.  But how could we tell?  We asked an escort to watch the show and help us tell fact from fiction

Little Boxes

Young people being pragmatic and sensible about sex?  We can’t have that!

…around 85 per cent of sexually active teens in the Bahamas are engaging in some kind of transactional sex…the majority of middle and high schoolers…are not sexually active.  But of those who are, the majority are involved in risky behaviour…Transactional sex…differs from prostitution in the sense that only a portion of the needs of the person providing the sex are met through the practice…“Many young people put themselves through high school and college in this way…They feel that if a man wants to deal with them he has to pay in some way and they are not prostituting themselves by doing this,” [NGO official Prodesta] Moore said…

Somehow I doubt an American court would accept “this isn’t prostitution because I have another source of income” as a defense.

First They Came for the Hookers…

What selfless devotion to duty!  Several different Oklahoma “law enforcement” agencies partied for four months at a strip club in order to “keep the citizens safe” from the scourge of private, consensual sex!

A Coweta strip club was busted on prostitution charges…Cherokee County deputies [investigated] the Secret Cavern strip club [for] a total of four months…[Alcohol Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission] agent [Pedro] Zardeneta…[said] “different agencies from different parts of the state worked well together to keep the citizens safe”…

Beyonce Mrs Carter Show costume
The Widening Gyre

Dear “Sex Trafficking” Fetishists, please keep up the good work; we couldn’t possibly make y’all look as ridiculous as y’all make yourselves look:

Dear Michelle Obama…you were recently quoted as saying that Beyonce is a great “role model” to your two daughters…I think it’s time to stop suggesting to very young girls that ultimate feminine success…comes with the…expectation for them to undress…Variations of Beyonce’s body suit can be found in brothels, strip clubs and red light districts across the world – where sex is for sale…Remember that in the USA, the average age of a girl when she is trafficked for sex for the first time is 13…by drug dealers who promise her a celebrity lifestyle, clothes like the ones Beyonce wears…we are feeding a demonic myth that women must make themselves sexually available to enjoy ultimate success…It can take years of a young girl’s life away from her when she tries to escape a life of abuse at home…only to be sold for sex, beaten, and made addicted to drugs…

Bogeymen

A study conducted by a University of Ottawa criminology professor has confirmed what sex workers and those in the industry have said and known for years — the laws meant to protect sex workers from exploitation by targeting people who work in the industry but don’t actually do sex work end up putting those who do at much greater risk…These could include drivers…security personnel…website designers or photographers…receptionists…or the more traditional pimps or madams…Under current Canadian laws, all of those people, even the ones doing jobs that have mainstream counterparts, could be criminally charged…[despite the fact that] anything a third party could do to exploit a sex worker is already illegal if it were done to someone else…

Too Young To Know

Another sign of the decay of “sex trafficking” hysteria: even the most ignorant, dysphemism-riddled “sex trafficking” scare story chock-full of bogus statistics (“About one-third [of runaways] will be approached by a sex trafficker within 48 hours…the average life span for victims is seven years“) may admit to some real truth these days; this one, for example, recognizes that “pimps” don’t abduct screaming girls from their middle-class homes.  It will be interesting to watch as they start contradicting each other.

Bottleneck

Jules Kim – migration project manager at Scarlet Alliance…told the [federal] inquiry into slavery and human trafficking…[that] the  current “scatter-gun” approach in which police look for trafficking victims by raiding Asian brothels was an “enormous waste of time, resources and misdirected energy…that has resulted in a gap between law enforcement bodies and…sex industry workers…People change the nature of their work to avoid that harassment…because constant raids on your business have an implication…None of the cases involved deception or trickery of the fact the person would be doing sex work.  Instead of an evidence-based approach addressing real vulnerabilities, Australia’s approach continues to try to detect the mythical trafficking victim and trafficker that is a media-driven stereotype”…

Poe Folksteen on laptop at bedtime

According to a report released in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, watching porn only affects [young adult] sexual behavior in a negligible way.  Other influences such as personality type, educational and family background and poverty hold more girth than viewing sexually explicit material.  The study…surveyed 4,600…people between the ages of 15 and 25 living in the Netherlands during 2008-2009…

Another Small Victory (TW3 #133)

The fight in the SCOTUS over the “anti-prostitution pledge” began Monday.  On the side of Good:  The Open Society Foundation, the ACLU, the Cato Institute, the Gates Foundation and even such unlikely supporters as Fox News, the New York Times and MSNBC.  On the side of Evil:  The usual suspects, including the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women.  Here’s Melissa Gira Grant’s look at the battle-lines as they were set up on Monday; note the important point that the whole thing has been framed as a question of free speech (hence the support of otherwise-hostile media outlets) rather than a referendum on the rectitude of the War on Whores.  No matter which way this goes, the persecution will go on until our “allies” stop vomiting out moronic filth like “Sex work is everywhere.  It is a brutal system.  It is an exploitative system.  Nobody thinks it’s OK.”

Big Sister (TW3 #138)

An excellent article, though I must point out that only someone hopelessly mired in the “left-right” myth could seriously consider Iceland “ultra-liberal”:

Ultra-liberal Iceland wants to ban online pornography…[as] the latest step in its attempts to eliminate the sex industry entirely.  In 2009 it introduced fines and jail terms for those who patronise prostitutes (whom it treats as victims).  In 2010 it outlawed strip clubs…No country has yet wholly succeeded in controlling commercial sex, either through legalisation or criminalisation…Iceland’s proposal is in its early stages and may lose momentum after an election on April 27th, which the government is expected to lose.  But its plan puts it in some odd company.  Saudi Arabia similarly bans strip clubs, prostitution and pornography…Prostitution has proved hard…to police and stamp out…[but] regulating pornography is hardest of all.  Distributing and selling it has been illegal in Iceland since 1869…[but] a ban would be legally dubious, technically unfeasible and ineffective, argues Smari McCarthy…of the International Modern Media Institute…In an open letter to Ogmundur Jonasson, the interior minister, he and other opponents compared banning online pornography to repression in China, Iran and North Korea.  Iceland’s constitution forbids censorship…and…Studies in America, Denmark, Germany…Sweden…China, Finland and Japan…show that as pornography became increasingly available, the number of rapes in those countries remained stable or even decreased…

Anatomy of a Boondoggle (TW3 #314)

Florida rapists are cleverer, excusing themselves via the moral panic du jour:

…Police in Florida [went nude] during an undercover prostitution investigation at a Hallandale Beach massage parlor…and…arrested three women…attorney…Howard Finkelstein…said. “It is seedy, back-alley, icky, and we don’t want our cops doing that, especially so when it’s meaningless.”  But Florida ranks third in the nation in the number of reported cases of human trafficking…”This is not just an act of solicitation, but an organized crime effort,” [said] Police Chief Dwayne Flournoy…”It is not just a street-walker. It is a more sophisticated operation…”

The More the Better (TW3 #314)

She hated it so very much that she married a client and went on to own a brothel.  That’s deep hatred, y’all!

Linda Fondren, a mayoral candidate in Vicksburg, Miss., not only admits to a past life in prostitution, she says her husband was one of her Johns.  “I was a working girl in a legal brothel over 30 years ago.  It’s true, my husband was my client…[we've] been married for 28 years”…Fondren tried to hold off making that admission for weeks…she…[says] she only did it to support herself after she got pregnant at age 14 and…her mom died of cancer…“I hated it.  I hated it.”  She also said that she would not support legal prostitution if elected…

That last bus-throwing line earns her a nomination for my Hall of Shame, though she’ll have to be still more disgusting to actually be inducted.

Held Together With Lies (TW3 #316)

Step 1:  Define some normal behavior as a problem.  Step 2:  Redefine it so you can claim it’s “growing”.  Step 3:  Increase “regulation” so as to narrow the bottleneck for “legal” behavior:

After years of dispute, Germany’s center-right governing coalition has agreed to enact tougher penalties for human trafficking and forced prostitution…and [to] more strictly regulate the commercial activities of brothels…brothel operators will need special authorization…authorities will be required to enforce hygienic standards and operators will be screened for prior criminal offences…recently, a report by the European Union…showed that human trafficking in Europe has risen sharply.

Step 4 (early next year):  Complain that “criminality” has increased, and repeat step 3.  Proceed until full criminalization is achieved.

The End of the Beginning

Down near the end of this article about another idiotic and dangerous “sex trafficking” law is a reason for hope:  “A bill focused on tightening punishments for pimps…[which] would require some to register as sex offenders, is progressing in [Texas]…Opponents believe the…requirement for sex offender registration may overwhelm an ‘overly broad database that includes too many offenders who are not threats to the community’…”  In other words, these opponents recognize the “pimp menace” as hype and the “sex offender registry” as far too large.  The same could be said for the reporter covering this story in which a Florida police department is claiming that the law says it “has to” humiliate so-called “sex predators” with huge red warning signs in their yards; she seems extremely skeptical of these theatrics, and asks a number of very sensible questions which the police chief of course answers dishonestly and smugly.

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One of the most widespread diseases is diagnosis.  -  Karl Kraus

One of the most insidious forms of propaganda for imaginary crises is the rigged “quiz” or checklist, which is nothing more than an elaborate use of the “false choice” principle.  As I explained in “Misdirection”,

“False choice” is the principle that if a person is given a choice, he believes he has acted freely; a magician uses this when he asks you to pick a card from a doctored deck.  As Teller points out, “You think you’ve made a choice, just as when you choose between two candidates preselected by entrenched political parties.”

not good enoughA checklist is really just a quiz without the question marks; “the person does x” is the semantic equivalent of “does the person do x?”  Such a list gives the illusion of a process of elimination or accumulation of evidence through its resemblance to real diagnostic lists or questionnaires, thus fooling the mark into believing such a process has taken place.  But in reality the rigged checklist is designed so that many or even most people in the target group will be “proven” to fulfill the requirements for whatever-it-is.  Melissa Farley is well known for using such “tests”; one rigged questionnaire is designed to “discover” that 67% of sex workers have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and another to “prove” that virtually all men “dehumanize and commodify women, view them with anger and contempt, lack empathy for their suffering, and relish their own ability to inflict pain and degradation.”  Of course, this is nothing new; neofeminists have for at least three decades produced checklists designed to brand all normal men as members of some pathological category such as “rape supporters” (in the early ‘90s it was “batterers”, though the rigged lists common at that time gave way about 15 years ago to more psychologically valid tests as the hysteria died off).

In the past decade the practice has spread into other moral panics; the “Sexual Addiction Screening Test” manages to “diagnose” a large segment of the population with a psychological disorder which does not even exist, and Laura Agustín recently called attention to this “sexual exploitation” checklist from an Irish-government-sponsored group with the ridiculous name “Blue Blindfold”:

People who have been trafficked for sexual exploitation sell sex on the street or in brothels, massage parlours, lap dancing clubs, and in private houses.

  • They move from one brothel to another or work in various places.
  • They are escorted whenever they go and or return from work and other activities.
  • They have tattoos or other marks indicating ‘ownership’ by the exploiters.
  • They work long hours or have few, if any, days off.
  • They sleep where they work.
  • They live or travel in a group, sometimes with other women who do not speak the same language.
  • They have very few clothes.
  • They have clothes that are mostly the kind typically worn for prostitution.
  • They only know how to say sex-related words in the local language or in the language of the client group.
  • They have no money of their own.
  • They are not able to show an identity document.
  • They are afraid to reveal who is controlling them and lie about their story.
  • Their mobile phone keeps ringing when they are out.

check-check-check...While a couple of these might indeed be signs of something odd going on, the rest could apply to all sorts of people.  Aspasia pointed out that mothers “work long hours and have few, if any, days off”, and that it’s not unusual for restaurant staff  to work at multiple places.  Brooke Magnanti argued that most of the criteria apply to single women on holiday in foreign countries, and Jemima and I both added that clothes “typically worn for prostitution” are those typically worn by women, period.  The last two are almost guaranteed “yeses”, the last for many modern young people and the penultimate because any statement of the suspected “victim” which disagrees with the “trafficking” narrative will automatically be taken as a “lie” due to fear of imaginary “pimps”.  When I was working again in New Orleans from 2004-2006, seven out of the thirteen applied to me, counting the “afraid to reveal”; it would have increased to eight if some busybody stranger had demanded that I show her my ID.

I’ve often ridiculed turgid “trafficking estimates”, but if one considers checklists like this one and the absurdly-broad definitions of “trafficking” thrown about by fetishists, I’m actually surprised that the claims are only in the tens of millions.

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Superstitions are habits rather than beliefs.  -  Marlene Dietrich

The Keystone Kops are on the job!I’ve noticed a definite trend in the “gypsy whore” and “sex trafficking” hype around Super Bowls over the past few years; the three-word version is “less and later”. For the 2011 Super Bowl in Dallas, the panic was already in full swing by November, and the claims were both grandiose and stated as a certainty.  It’s impossible to guess how much money was wasted on this police theater, but considering that it involved eleven different “law enforcement” agencies (including the FBI) over a two and a half week period, and two dozen extra staff being “brought in” (which means travel, hotel and per diem x 24 x 18), I’m sure you can imagine.  And all this to catch how many “human traffickers” out of supposedly thousands?  One.  Not an international gangster, either, but an ignorant wannabe pimp who got the idea from the police/media hype just a few days before the event.  The number of arrests made by this “task force” – 133 in all – was extremely typical for Dallas, especially considering that only about half were prostitution-related.  And so the cops were forced to rig the statistics and make ludicrous claims about the weather and the efficacy of their “preparations” in order to save face.

Indianapolis officials seem to have learned something from Dallas; though nobody other than sex workers, a few academics and a very small number of journalists dared to question the hysteria out loud while it was happening, the egg on Dallas officials’ face was hard to miss and some Indianapolis officials were a little gun-shy.  Though attorney general Greg Zoeller started beating the drum in July and held his first press conference in September, the police chief of Indianapolis was unimpressed, several reporters called the story into question and Snopes officially listed it as a debunked myth.  And when the imaginary “traffickers” and their white slaves failed to materialize, officials quietly let the matter die in order to save themselves the embarrassment (though Chicago sheriff Tom Dart later bizarrely claimed that a crusade which netted only 565 victims over ten days in eight states [a mere 7 per state per day] was somehow Super Bowl-related).

Since this year’s game was in New Orleans, naturally I was especially interested in how the hysteria would develop; however, November and December came and went with only the most perfunctory idiocy from police officials.  The first article I considered worth mentioning was from the January 7th Baton Rouge Advocate and, while the reporter allowed herself only token skepticism, the comment thread was overwhelmingly dismissive of the myth.  The police “crackdown” didn’t really start until January 14th, and the FBI used its existing “Innocence Lost” program rather than establish a special operation just for the Super Bowl.  Furthermore, the ritual repetition of the myth-narrative didn’t begin in earnest until February 1st, thus virtually closing the window of opportunity in which debunkers could get responses into print before the game on February 3rd; most tellingly, the “authorities” waited until after the event to hold their big press conference, so they would know exactly what kind of yarn to spin:

In an effort to combat the rampant sex trafficking that authorities say has historically accompanied the Super Bowl, a multi-agency task force arrested 85 people during the week leading up to Sunday’s game in New Orleans.  Those arrests represented just “the tip of the iceberg” of a growing problem, State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson said at a news conference…Operation Innocence Lost, carried out by the New Orleans Police Department, State Police, FBI and Department of Homeland Security…netted arrests on charges of human trafficking, prostitution, pandering, narcotics and weapons charges, authorities said.  Fifty-three people were arrested in the New Orleans area, while 32 were nabbed in the Baton Rouge area…Authorities booked at least two men on charges of sex trafficking and rescued five women who were allegedly brought to prostitute in New Orleans against their will.  Two were trafficked from Oklahoma; two were brought from Georgia, [said Capt. Doug Cain, a State Police spokesman]…Details on the fifth victim’s story were scarce because she was 17 years old, so she is considered a minor by federal authorities…four other children were rescued in the operation, police said, however they were not themselves being sexually exploited.  Two of the children, ages 10 and 11, were found by New Orleans police officers and state troopers during a sting operation.  The children were waiting in a car outside a New Orleans location where their mother was prostituting, Edmonson said.  “The looks in those kids’ eyes was so sad…They thought this was normal.”  The children are now in custody of the state Department of Children and Family Services…The other two children were rescued from a similar situation in Baton Rouge…The FBI will continue to provide services for the victims…

Keystone Kop chaseOkay, let’s get this translated.  First, note the implication that all 85 arrests were both Super Bowl and prostitution-related; in fact only 53 were in New Orleans, and only seven of that 53 were for anything to do with prostitution.  The total number of “traffickers” arrested? Two, and you can bet that means they were either drivers or boyfriends of those five “rescued” (in other words, arrested and jailed) women.  Note that “trafficked” from Oklahoma or Georgia actually means the arrested women had drivers’ licenses from those states; they could have been living in New Orleans for up to a year rather than being recently trucked in like produce.  The most troubling detail is the state abduction of the children, who will now be condemned to the nightmare of “child protective services” (possibly forever) because “authorities” disapprove of their mothers’ work.  If those women are “victims” as claimed, how can they justify aggravating that victimization by stealing their children?  But they don’t want us to think about that; to paraphrase Edmonson, “The filth coming out of these cop’ mouths is so disgusting…They really think persecuting people for consensual behavior is normal.”

Still, it’s good to see this ugly annual drama beginning to fade; next year we can probably expect it to be smaller still, and for there to be an even larger number of critics.  The next Super Bowl is to be held in East Rutherford, New Jersey, and this autumn I plan to start encouraging New York City-area sex worker rights organizations (of which there are several) to make pre-emptive strikes on the mythology by calling press conferences and presenting reports (of which there are many), thus demonstrating once and for all that “Super Bowl sex trafficking” is nothing but a perverse masturbatory fantasy and an excuse for devoting extra money and manpower to the War on Whores.

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The actual number of people trafficked is so much less than the targets [governments] are supposed to meet, so they end up running around and accusing people of being victims of traffickers and sticking them in cages to try to satisfy this US hysteria.  -  Liz Hilton, EMPOWER Foundation

Shinzo AbeJapanese Prostitution

The highly dishonorable Prime Liar of Japan is at it again: “…Shinzo Abe…may revise Japan’s 1993 apology  for forcing thousands of women to be sex slaves in the service of Japanese soldiers during World War II…an assertive, unapologetic Japan could antagonize much of Asia, especially South Korea…

In a Similar Vein…

This woman takes the term “cougar” much too literally:

Police in Florida arrested an “extremely intoxicated” woman after she allegedly beat her boyfriend over bad oral sex…Jennie Scott, 50, assaulted her 32-year-old boyfriend, Jilberto Deleon…following a joint-oral sex encounter that ended…after Deleon “finished first and stopped pleasuring her”…In November, Raquel Gonzalez, also of Manatee County, was charged…after beating her boyfriend following a sexual encounter during which he climaxed and she did not…

Convenient and Inconvenient Victims

Another example of how prohibition harms all women: it allows “authorities” to claim prostitutes can’t be raped, then to accuse rape victims of prostitution:  “…Trinamool Congress MP Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar came the nearest to calling the Park Street rape victim a sex worker when she described the February 5 incident not as a rape but as a ‘misunderstanding between a lady and her client’…

Against Their Will

Take especial note of the un-ironic use of the word “rescue” in this context:

At least 11 woman inmates…[who] were trafficked to Mumbai…[then] rescued and brought to [a destitute] home [escaped on New Year’s Eve]…West Bengal Minister for Women and Child Development…Sabitri Mitra denied any lapse of security at the home…”Inmates…have a tendency to escape…They have been trying to escape ever since they were brought here…”

We Told You So

As I predicted they would, members of the mainstream media are slowly beginning to wake up:

The situation was dire, police warned.  The City of Atlanta was under siege by human traffickers.  Some 1,000 Asian women and girls ages 13 to 25 were being “forced to prostitute themselves” in the city…To free them, police forged ahead with a $600,000 task force.  Had agency leaders questioned the estimate, they would have found it defied common sense.  If it were true, one in eight of the city’s Asians would have been sex slaves…it’s little wonder that the program had such poor results that it drew scrutiny from the U.S. Department of Justice.  An initial report said Atlanta police had found more than 200 victims, but auditors could only confirm four…

Instead of quoting Polaris Project, Melissa Farley and the other usual suspects, this reporter went to “trafficking” skeptics Ronald Weitzer, Elzbieta Gozdziak, Charles Grassley and Meredith Dank.  And while he still buys into the cops’ convoluted paradigm (for example, “Girls confuse investigators by calling pimps their boyfriends” instead of recognizing that the so-called “pimps” are their boyfriends), he also recognizes that Atlanta is the norm, not an exception: “Los Angeles…identified 49 victims and…Washington, D.C., found 51.  Auditors confirmed none of them…

Presents, Presents, Presents!

Flute of SandI received twoCrisis and Leviathan more Christmas presents this week; Krulac sent me Flute of Sand, and another  reader sent me Crisis and Leviathan.  Alas, the seller neglected to include a card or packing slip with the latter, so I have no idea who sent it; if it was anyone reading this, please let me know via email or in the comments.  Thanks very much to both of you!

First They Came for the Hookers…

If prohibitionists really want to “rescue” sex workers, why do they keep trying to stop us from getting other jobs?  “Reality star Olivia Black has been fired from the cast of the History Channel’s Pawn Stars after…her…past on the soft-core site SuicideGirls.com was revealed in the National Enquirer

Imagination Pinned Down

In the process of reviewing a new book on hallucinations by the brilliant Dr. Oliver Sacks, Michael Roth shows just how easily false memories are formed:

As a young professor, I traveled to Vienna…and…[visited] Freud’s old apartment and office, which had been converted to a museum.  One rang a doorbell to be admitted, and I was shocked when the museum attendant greeted me by name…in German, calling me “Professor Doktor Roth” — or so I thought.  My wife was right beside me, and she later told me that nothing of the kind had happened.  The museum employee had merely told me the price of admission…I realized that what I’d heard so clearly was probably an auditory hallucination.  I so very much wanted to be recognized in the house of Freud that I’d perceived something that wasn’t there at all…our brains call up simulated realities that are almost indistinguishable from normal perceptions…[and construct] a world that nobody else can see, hear or touch…

Monica Foster has a website dedicated to outing and shaming sex workers, but was recently discovered to have placed this escort ad.  Do as I say, not as I do?

Ex-porn actress Monica Foster outs sex workers on her website, yet she recently placed this escort ad.

Wholesale Hypocrisy (TW3 #25)

Prosecutors never hesitate to appeal when there’s political coin to be made at others’ expense:  “The New Mexico Supreme Court has agreed to take up [the] case [of] ‘Southwest Companions,’ linked to former University of New Mexico president F. Chris Garcia and retired Fairleigh Dickinson University physics professor David C. Flory…prosecutors [appealed after]…District Judge Stan Whitaker found that an online message board is not a house of prostitution under state law…

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #26)

Unsurprisingly, the woman who thinks other women must be “protected” from free will also believes free speech to be “dangerous”:  “France’s women’s rights minister, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem… [demands] that Twitter help the French government criminalize ideas it dislikes…by [installing] ‘alerts and security measures’ to prevent tweets which French officials deem hateful…

The Widening Gyre

New York’s new video helpfully explains that the law doesn’t say what it says, but does require cabbies to magically divine whether a woman is “helpless”:

…Taxi officials yesterday released an anti-sex-trafficking video — mandatory viewing for all cabbies — that explains when it is and is not OK to transport a working girl.  Picking up street walkers is fine, but driving helpless women around for pimps is not…The nine-minute video was created after the City Council approved an anti-sex-trafficking bill…and…prostitutes worried that the measure meant that cabbies would be too scared to pick them up…“Suspecting or knowing that someone is a prostitute does not give you the right to refuse that person a ride,” the video says…

Red Umbrella FundShift in the Wind

This is incredibly good news:

“Save us from saviours” is the piercing refrain of a growing human rights movement demanding that sex workers be recognised as more than victims to be rescued…”Sex workers are discriminated against and their human rights unrecognised around the world, even where sex work isn’t illegal,” says Nadia van der Linde, co-ordinator of the Red Umbrella Fund, the first global grant-making mechanism set up to give sex workers more control of projects that directly concern them…The fund, which was launched in April 2012…will announce this month who will receive its first grants…Embracing a philosophy of “nothing for us without us”, the innovative fund is governed by sex workers, who sit alongside donor representatives on the committees that oversee and manage its work…

Hooker Humor (TW3 #31)

Miranda Kane, the escort turned stand-up comedienne, has written a new piece on “Selling Comedy vs. Selling Sex” which compares preparation, advertising, reviews and much more:  “I get asked a lot about my security.  In 7 years of escorting, I was never threatened, robbed, or found myself in any danger.  In 7 months of comedy, I had two iphones nicked from my bag when I was on stage, venues and promoters not paying my pitiful fee, and several parking tickets…

That Old Black Magic

Spain’s Interior Ministry says police have arrested 17 people on suspicion of smuggling Nigerian women into Spain and forcing them into prostitution using threats including claims they would cast Voodoo spells on them if they didn’t comply…around 10 women had been brought into the country illegally using a small boat…

Little Boxes (TW3 #40)

Rebecca Bernardo…posted a video on YouTube…[in which]…she…announces…”Hi, my name is Rebecca.  I’m here to auction off my virginity”…she made the offer because she was desperate to help her ailing mother.  She heard about Catarina Migliorini, a Brazilian woman who reportedly sold her virginity for $780,000…Migliorini has reportedly yet to finalize the deal and receive the money…[but] has received widespread publicity and modeling contracts — including a spread in Brazil’s version of Playboy…”I made up my mind right after my 18th birthday…when my mother suffered a stroke”…[which] left her…bed-ridden, unable to feed herself or go to the bathroom alone.  Bernardo said she looked for jobs…but…the pay was minimal…A Brazilian TV network offered to pay for her mother’s medical expenses if Bernardo called off the auction.  While she initially accepted…during a television interview, she later rejected it because the network would not pay for a house in a different town where she could “start a new life”…

CNN doubts the girl because she’d rather do a few hours of work than sign an exclusive (and probably sleazy) agreement with a TV network, which goes to show how perverse and dishonest CNN is on the subject of sex.

With Friends Like These…

Radio Netherlands recently published an article called “China Can’t Duck the Issue of Prostitution” which correctly and concisely demolished every model of prostitution law except decriminalization, including the Dutch model; it even recognizes that a prostitute is no different from an economically dependent wife.  However, the argument then bizarrely self-destructs in the conclusion:

…Free and consensual sexual relationships are obviously the ideal, but in reality there are many paid and involuntary sexual relationships between the sexes…if people choose to have an immoral lifestyle, they should not be punished by the law, regardless of how morally wrong they might be…The only effective means to curb…prostitution is…to make [it] socially unacceptable…

The Public Eye (TW3 #49)

As Kristen di Angelo expressed it, “This is just how it is… but it shouldn’t be”.  One of the women who appeared in the film American Courtesans went to the police after being terrified by an abusive stalker; they told her they could do nothing, but instead subjected her to a sting in which five cops in riot gear trashed her home and robbed her.  Because obviously an escort who primarily works with the disabled is a dangerous criminal, but a possibly-deranged stalker is just a good citizen doing his civic duty.

Backwards into the Future (TW3 #52)

Though the Burmese government’s anti-sex work policies mimic those of Washington, Burmese journalists are not content to parrot those policies as their American counterparts do:

…Over 10,000 prostitutes…work in Rangoon, mainly in informal settings such as karaoke bars, nightclubs and guesthouses…they are among the most vulnerable citizens in Burma, facing widespread discrimination and abuse, often at the hands of authorities…Those who refuse or are unable to bribe the police face arrest and incarceration, sometimes in so-called “rehabilitation centres” intended to reform immoral behaviour…rape and sexual assault are a daily occurrence…police often use condoms as evidence of prostitution, even though the government formally banned the practice in 2011.  Unsurprisingly, Burma has one of the highest HIV rates in Asia, with as many as one in three sex workers infected.  Campaigners on HIV prevention have long called for harm reduction strategies to replace prohibitionist measures…But…some key actors are lagging behind.  The US government, which recently earmarked $170 million in development aid to Burma, continues to enforce its so-called “anti-prostitution” pledge…It means that any organisations that refuse to condemn sex work – even though they often have the best access to vulnerable persons – are systematically excluded…

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To really ask is to open the door to the whirlwind.  ―  Anne Rice, The Vampire Lestat

Because I’ve done so many Q & A columns, I’m starting to see some repetition in the questions readers ask.  This isn’t exactly surprising, considering that there are over 900 daily columns now and even a person who’s good at using indexes and searches might not phrase the question in the same way as the original questioner.  So, I’ve decided to publish this linked list of all the questions I’ve answered so far, rephrased for simplicity and clarity; within the next few days it will be duplicated in a static page that will grow as I answer new questions, and that I can then link in each new Q & A column.

General Sex Questions

Vargas Fleurs du Mal

General Sex Work Questions

Questions About Whores

La Belle Esclave by Henri Tanoux

Questions About Clients

Mentoring Questions

Requests for Advice

Personal Questions

Illustration from Guy de Maupassant's La Maison Tellier by Edgar Degas (1881)

Blogging

Miscellaneous

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The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it.  -  H.L. Mencken

As I’ve pointed out many, many times before, governments look for any excuse they can find to increase their powers and reach, and once those powers are assumed not only are they never renounced, but also never limited only to the stated purpose.  A perfect example of this is the “War on Terror”; the special powers granted by the PATRIOT Act were supposed to be used only for fighting “terrorism”, but as of October 2011 had been used only 15 times for that purpose, 122 times for fraud and a staggering 1618 times for drugs.  Similarly, though the stated purpose of the TSA’s security theater is to fight terrorism, its actual purpose is to condition Americans “to submit to any indignity inflicted by an ‘authority’, no matter how invasive and arbitrary”; it’s been so wildly successful in that mission, the government has been itching to expand its reach from airports to other means of public transportation.  Up to now, railway officials had successfully resisted the imposition of police state checkpoints on train stations, but the government has now succeeded in securing Amtrak’s cooperation by switching the excuse from one which is rapidly declining in popularity (terrorism) to a new and more popular one.  This article by Wendy McElroy explains exactly what that new excuse is, but I’ll bet you’ve already guessed:

According to Homeland Security Today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has forged “a new partnership” with “the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Amtrak to battle the trafficking of humans.”  DHS will train “over 8,000 frontline transportation employees and Amtrak Police Department officers” on how to recognize and report trafficking indicators and suspected traffickers…[these] employees will overtly or covertly examine passengers for the validity of their identification, their level of stress, how they interact, and their conversations.  It is so necessary to treat Amtrak customers as criminal suspects because, according to HS Today, an “estimated 100,000 children are trafficked in the sex trade in the United States each year,” with the average age being 11 to 14, and some being as young as 9.  This means that passengers — and especially men — traveling with children will be subject to enhanced scrutiny.  Perhaps the trained employees will engage children in conversation or demand a statement of their relationship status with the accompanying adults.

I probably don’t need to remind anyone that this supposed “estimate” is roughly six times the total number of underage prostitutes in the entire country at any given time, and that if the “average” underage whore were really 13 that would mean there were tens of thousands of toddler tarts out there that nobody has ever seen the faintest evidence of.

The total police state that operates at airports is spreading to train stations — and beyond.  HS Today states that the Department of Transportation “is currently training its more than 55,000 employees to identify and report human trafficking.”  Even traveling in a car does not exempt people from being treated as criminal suspects.  Last year, Tennessee became the first state to partner with DHS to conduct an exercise in which trucks were randomly inspected, complete with drug- and bomb-sniffing dogs…In theory, people may still be free to exercise their constitutional right against unreasonable searches and refuse to comply.  In practice, as happens at airports, those who resist will almost certainly be denied the ability to travel and will perhaps be detained for questioning by the police…

So now everyone is assumed to be a terrorist, a drug dealer and a pimp unless he can prove otherwise.  It’s for the children!  But McElroy has something to say about that as well:

…According to 2010 census data, the number of children…in the United States was 74.2 million…Assuming an even distribution within the 18 age groups from 0–17, there would be roughly 4.12 million children in each group.  Accepting the DHS claim that the youngest child trafficked was nine years old — and, so, eliminating younger groups — there would be 37 million vulnerable children.  If 100,000 children are trafficked each year, then 1 in every 370 children was a sex-trade victim in 2010.  How many people personally know of a child who has been trafficked?  How many are acquainted with anyone who personally knows of a trafficked child?

Perhaps the claim includes children who are “imported” en masse from other countries.  The 2010 DHS pamphlet entitled “Human Trafficking Indicators” lists its “Anti-Trafficking Successes” (rescued victims), all of whom are foreign-born…Only 85 rescued victims are listed, and the descriptions are anonymous, which precludes verification.  Of those listed, 21 are clearly identified as children, 20 of whom were forced to work in hair-braiding salons, while 1 was prostituted.  An additional 15 “women and girls” were reported forced into sex work.  Even generously assuming that 13 of the 15 “women and girls” were girls, the total of foreign children rescued from sex work was 14…if DHS had examples of more massive raids on child sex dens, I presume they would present them.  In short, the statistic of 100,000 children a year seems wildly implausible, unless you expand the definition of trafficking.  The DHS…does precisely that; it expands the definition to include every minor involved in commercial sex as “a victim of human trafficking, even without force, fraud or coercion.”  Thus, the 8,000 Amtrak employees will have reason to scrutinize children and teenagers even if they are clearly not forced to be with the adults accompanying them…

In other words American teenagers, who are already subject to twice as many restrictions as incarcerated felons, can now look forward to even more restrictions, which will almost certainly include “status checks” (i.e. unwarranted stops without probable cause) once this program expands to the highways as planned.  And if you’re an attractive and youthful-looking woman below 30, that will probably include you as well on the grounds that you “look like you might be underage”.  For your own good, of course.  Nor will it stop there:

…The partnership between DHS and Amtrak allows the government one more avenue of surveillance; it chips one more bit of freedom away from the average person, who is just trying to make it through the day.  In the future, when a man boards a train in the company of a minor or a woman, or when he merely looks suspicious, he may be asked where he is going, for how long, and why.  What is his relationship to the companion?  What is his profession?  The companion may be asked whether she feels free to step away from the other passenger.  She may be questioned separately and her story compared to the other passenger’s.  And heaven help anyone who looks sad, enraged, or stressed out…

Once when my husband and I were travelling through Kentucky, I became violently carsick due to the twisting roads; my husband had to stop the car so I could sit down on the grass in the cold air and attempt to get my head to stop spinning.  While I was so engaged, a cop stopped and even after my husband told him I was sick he demanded (not asked, mind you, demanded) that I walk off with him to a distance to talk where my husband couldn’t hear.  I told him to go to Hell (yes, I really said that; I get very irrational when I’m motion-sick) and that if he touched me I would throw up all over him.  Even so, he still hovered until I literally screamed for him to leave me alone, at which point he seemed to get the hint.  This was in 2003, before “trafficking” hysteria had become popular; I presume he thought my husband was beating me in broad daylight on the side of a highway.  But it’s an example of what might be in store for every couple in the next few years, no matter what means of transportation they use, if either of them does anything which might conceivably attract the attention of any armed busybody in the vicinity.

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