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Posts Tagged ‘ethics’

It is time for democracies to…take [sex workers] seriously – not just because democratic values mandate it, but because sex workers are the experts on the matter.  –  Sonja Dolinsek

License to Rape 

Predators posing as gardai [Irish police] are preying on sex workers…demanding sex and robbing them…Uglymugs…has appealed to new Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan to direct officers to engage “more sympathetically” with sex workers…organiser…Lucy Smith, said…”many escorts are uncertain if these men are gardai or not…in some cases, these are corrupt gardai”…Kendra Wilkinson

Really Cheap Whores

The phrase “incredibly unprofessional” comes to mind:

Kendra Wilkinson hated having sex with Hugh Hefner so much that she turned to drugs and booze…she [also claimed]…that [she] was unaware sex was required of her when she moved into the Playboy mansion as one of Hefner’s girlfriends in 2003.  At the time she was 18 and he was 78…

Welcome To Our World (February Updates)

Busybodies and the State conspire to punish old people for being sexual:

…Donna Lou Young and Henry V. Rayhons…[were] both in their 70s [when they married]…Today, he’s awaiting trial on a felony charge that he raped Donna at a nursing home where she was living…Iowa [prosecutors claim] Rayhons had intercourse with his wife when she lacked the mental capacity to consent because she had Alzheimer’s.  She died on Aug. 8…One week later…Rayhons…was arrested…Experts in geriatrics say that intimacy…can make dementia sufferers feel less lonely and even prolong their lives…Henry and Donna…were deeply in love…[there is] no evidence…that the couple’s love faded, that Donna failed to recognize her husband or that she asked that he not touch her…prosecutors are likely to portray Rayhons as a sex-hungry man who took advantage of a sweet, confused woman…

The main culprits:  her daughters and prudish nursing home staff.

Gateway

Sometimes the flailing attempts at self-justification are a marvel to behold:

Six women were arrested…in a…[sting] in Birmingham [Alabama]…One…was charged with physical harassment after trying to grope an undercover officer…Lt. Ron Sellers [pretends cops had] complaints about prostitution…and [bloviated]…”It could be they are forced in to it, or they are supporting a drug habit.  [They sell] themselves for money…chasing sporting events and conventions.  A lot of them will be gravitating toward Atlanta for the SEC Championship this weekend…There are a lot of other crimes associated with escorts…They deal in cash.  They don’t trust police”…

Yes, he actually defined dealing in cash and not trusting pigs as “crimes”.Booby Trap

Business Opportunity

It’s not like it’s their money, after all:

A night spot with a…rather “voluptuous” architectural design…could be torn down in a matter of months.  The building…has seen several strip clubs over the span of 40 years.  It’s best known to residents as its original name, The Booby Trap, which also described its domed design…the building’s owner has…[offered] to sell the structure and the land [at more than the market value] to the city of Winter Park, which in turn plans to demolish the building and re-sell it.  No adult-oriented business will be allowed to open at the location…

Forward and Backward

Hull City Council ​won a landmark ruling to create Britain’s first “prostitution-free zone”…any sex workers or curb crawlers caught around the…Hessle Road area…can be arrested and [dragged to]…court.  City Councillor Daren Hale said…the zone was created was to give “a positive view of Hull”…the moves will simply create a red light district in another area…[politicians pretend that] a…harm reduction approach…will [somehow] run alongside the injunction…

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic 

Paging Dr. David Ley:

A sex addict [was] caught taking photos up women’s skirts…Peter Hooton…served a prison term when convicted of like crimes in the past [but New Zealand] Judge Grant Fraser said the best hope of protecting the community…was to keep him out of jail this time…Hooton’s…attending…twice a week with Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous…

Hark, Hark, the Dogs Do Bark snakeskin pumps

Yet another study proving that the sky is blue:

Scientists from the Universite de Bretagne-Sud conducted experiments that showed that men behave very differently toward high-heeled women…if a woman drops a glove on the street while wearing heels, she’s almost 50 per cent more likely to have a man fetch it for her than if she’s wearing flats…a high-heeled woman in a bar waits half the time to get picked up by a man, compared to when her heel is nearer to the ground…

Against Their Will (TW3 #3)

I’m really not sure which to believe, the copy which claims that sex workers in Mumbai welcome and trust Priti Patkar, who apparently runs a kind of daycare center for them; or the headline which trumpets “She works for the welfare of sex workers by first taking the children away from them“.  I also see too many phrases like “rescued from brothels” and suspicious protests-too-much statements about how much the kids “love” her and her cronies.

The Widening Gyre 

And it all happened without anyone noticing!

…it is suspected that dozens of schoolgirls at Minzu Middle School were drugged and forced into prostitution.  An insider [claimed]…the students were given to government leaders outside of the county as gifts for their use…the…girls…were coerced by a female…surnamed Xu [who]…has done this multiple times…Xu…first bribes several students while the rest who do not obey her are beaten…One government employee insisting on anonymity [said]…the story of over 80 schoolgirls being forcibly taken to a hotel for prostitution is very common, with some versions of the story saying it involves over 80 and others saying over 40…

The Truth About “The Truth About…”

It only took the Washington Post two years to catch up with me:

…The graphic showed a rape reporting rate of 10 percent, but…2013 criminal victimization rates…estimated 35 percent…are reported…the survey’s definitions of rape or “sexual attack” is inconsistent with states’ legal definitions or with standard methodology… “Prosecution” and “arrested” are not terms that can be wrapped under “faced trial”…the rate of incarceration among people convicted of rate is much higher than one-third…46 percent of felony rape convictions resulted in guilty pleas…

Skin To Skin

Checklist

This rather odd story engages in the usual “trafficking” tale tactic by offering a lurid story without names or evidence, but is mainly about how cops are given a checklist of “signs” they can pretend to have observed so as to transform a boring old prostitution case into a sexy “trafficking” one.  The low point: “A majority of women experience [sex work] as paid rape.”  The high point:  “We don’t have a plague of human trafficking”.

Banishment

Residents of…[a] Pretoria [neighborhood] have made it clear they won’t tolerate prostitution openly taking place near their homes.  At the weekend they burnt makeshift beds allegedly used by prostitutes…and forced women they accuse…to walk down the street carrying banners…Resident Paul Masina said they were tired of police [requiring]…evidence to support their complaints…“It’s disgusting and filthy here because of them so we’re destroying their businesses so they won’t come back again”…

Hollow Claims (TW3 #338)

Despite its recent support for “sex trafficking” hysteria, Al Jazeera published an editorial from our strong ally Sonja Dolinsek arguing against imposition of the Swedish model in various countries.  One must wonder if, like the UK’s Guardian or the US’s Washington Post, the network isn’t straddling the fence until it figures out which way the wind is blowing.Elvgren His Life and Art

Remembrance 

Gil Elvgren was the greatest [pinup artist].  The massive book, Elvgren: His Life & Art, has the artist’s best paintings…His work was familiar to millions of Americans in the mid-20th Century, thanks to calendar publishers who printed his cheesecake paintings for decades…[they] were [often] copied onto fighter planes by paintbrush-wielding World War II soldiers…

Marching Up Their Own Arses (TW3 #349)

About as revolting an idea as I’ve ever heard of:

A&E has greenlit a…new reality series in which a man tries to convince prostitutes to quit their jobs…the network has ordered eight episodes of 8 Minutes (working title), a series featuring cop-turned-pastor Kevin Brown surprising escorts in hotel rooms and offering to rescue them…Brown has eight minutes to make his case…the show was inspired by a 2013 LA Times article about Brown…[who pretends] he can [magically] decode an ad…on the Internet…[to] notice…that this is obviously someone being held against their will…

Despite his Super Savior powers, he claims only a 50% success rate (probably about 10x his true rate) and sets an 8-minute limit because that’s how long it takes demonic pimps to materialize in the room and murder him in front of a whole TV crew.  I am not making this up.  Please sign this petition for A&E to rethink this abomination; Brown will no doubt continue his nonconsensual kinky roleplay anyway, but it doesn’t have to be televised.

Legal Is As Legal Does (TW3 #401)

A law that would have allowed Auckland local bodies to ban prostitution in specified places has been scrapped by a parliamentary select committee…councils have been urged to look at other ways to control street prostitutes…”Many complaints…relate to noise, littering, slow-moving motor vehicles (kerb-crawling) and disorderly behaviour.  These kinds of behaviour can be dealt with by bylaws already in existence”…

Gorged With Meaning (TW3 #422) Laura Pahomova

I am not a vindictive sort, but this man had better hope I never catch him alone anywhere:

A model jumped seven floors to her death…after a spurned lover told her family about her…life as an escort.  Laura Pahomova, 23, scrawled notes in lipstick and eyeliner over the walls, mirrors and furniture of a…13th floor apartment…claiming former client Martin Riley had driven her to suicide…Laura, who described Mr Riley as a “stalker”, had threatened suicide if her family found out what she was doing but…Riley [pretends that] he informed her loved ones to help her…Riley had a previous conviction for the harassment of another escort…In that case…he threatened to tell her family about her work and she threatened to harm herself if he did…

The Law of Averages (Traffic Updates) 

Another example of That Age as cultic totem:

A Horsham charity, which helps women out of escorting and prostitution, has secured funding to produce an education pack for schoolchildren…the Averageage12 [sic] pack [is so] named… “because 12 is average age of trafficked victims…and entry into prostitution…we want to get [this propaganda] into the hands of every 12 year old…to help protect them and their friends from potentially being trafficked or groomed into the sex industry”…

I Saw My Brain (TW3 #433)

They’re “helping” them into cells and coercive “therapy”:

Grady Judd, sheriff of Polk County, announced the arrests of 61 people…to help women who are victims of being exploited as sex workers…they are offering counseling to help the women…

The Public Eye (TW3 #439) face sitting

Around 500 people [descended] on Westminster and [pretended] to have sex…in a…protest against…censorship…#PornProtest plans to…attempt to break the Guinness World Record for…face-sitting…over new restrictions on what pornography can be made and sold in the UK…Charlotte Rose…the woman behind the protest…first became involved in the adult industry as a bondage model…and now works as a sex therapist…she is also a seasoned political campaigner…and was an independent candidate in the recent…by-election…

Think of the Children! (TW3 #445) 

El Paso Children’s Hospital is backing away from its participation in a local fundraiser after learning…that…special guest DJ [Jessie Andrews]…also happens to be an adult film star…One hundred percent of the ticket proceeds were to go to the Children’s Hospital, along with toys collected at the event…

Prudesville (TW3 #448)

This is so over-the-top absurd, I’m beginning to suspect it’s some incredibly elaborate hoax:

…The city of Everett tore down the pink and purple walls of two brothel-esque coffee stands, known notoriously as Java Juggs and Twin Peaks, after its former owner, Carmela Panico, pleaded guilty to soliciting prostitution and money laundering.  Construction crews [hauled] out junk from the “dilapidated and disgusting” stands into a nearby dump truck…the city [stole] the rundown stands and decided to destroy them as a message that illegal activity would not be tolerated…

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For Love

I’m in love with a sex worker, and we’ve decided we are going to live together and she is going to retire and pursue a “normal” career.  Despite having a degree and being intelligent and capable, she’s concerned about getting work; I’ve told her I don’t have a problem with her seeing her more trustworthy regulars from time to time until she feels financially comfortable.  I’d be willing to support her completely, but financial independence is very important to her and she has said she doesn’t want to rely on me for support.  She reads your website avidly, so I wonder if you have any advice for us?

My biggest concern about the situation as described is that it’s nearly always a bad idea for a sex worker to stop working for love.  I did it, and it set the stage for two separate financial debacles in 2004 and 2008; we still haven’t yet recovered from the second one.  I’ve also seen others do it, with results ranging from OK to disastrous.  If your lady wants to quit sex work for other reasons that have nothing to do with you, well and fine; but if the sole reason she’s quitting to pursue a relatively low-paying “normal” job (in a bad economy, yet) is because of your relationship, she is making a mistake (potentially a very serious one).  The stress, drudgery and inadequate compensation of a “straight” job are likely to lead to resentment against you even if she makes the choice of her own free will, and if y’all get into dire financial straits because of the lesser income that resentment will be quadrupled.  Obviously, the choice should be hers and hers alone; neither you nor I nor her non-sex worker friends have any right to push her in either direction.  But she needs to deeply consider the potential consequences to her, to you, to your finances and to your relationship if she leaves a well-paid job for which she’s temperamentally suited in favor of a less-remunerative one for which she isn’t.

(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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The Missing Piece

Before my divorce I was at a very bad stage in my life.  While going through that, I became emotionally involved with one of my business contacts; after we had sex he became kind of distant and doesn’t talk to me as much.  I love him so very much, and he made me feel like a worthwhile person at a time I was so low I didn’t want to go on any longer.  I don’t want to steal him from his family because I wouldn’t wish that kind of pain on anyone; I just want to be his mistress.  Is there any way to keep him interested?

puzzle with missing pieceThe reason I advise married men to only cheat on their wives with professionals is that other women fall in love much too easily, as you have done.  There is no magic formula for winning a man’s heart; women have been looking for this since the beginning of time and it simply doesn’t exist.  A married man may have an affair with you, but the chances of him leaving his wife and family for you is essentially nil; I know you love this man, but it seems pretty obvious to me that he lost interest in you as soon as he got the sex he wanted.  I can also predict with confidence that the more you demonstrate your love, the further he’ll distance himself because he doesn’t want a divorce.  I know you don’t want to hear this, but you need to leave off pursuing him; if you continue it will surely result in pain for everyone involved.  I also know that you feel very lonely right now, but you must learn to live with yourself before getting into a new relationship; after my first husband left me, I was alone for six years before becoming involved again.  Oh, I had commercial sex with men and casual sex with women (and a very few men), but I kept everyone at arms’ length because I knew I was not yet ready for a relationship.  We like to imagine that a romantic partner can “complete” us, can fill up gaps in our own personalities like jigsaw puzzle pieces fitting together, but the fact of the matter is that two broken people nearly always create a broken relationship.  I’m not telling you that both parties have to be in perfect mental health; if that were true, I could probably fit every healthy couple in the whole world in this room.  But what I am telling you is that you can’t use another person to “patch” whatever’s wrong with you; he can help you with problems, but the hard work of psychic self-repair is still your own responsibility.  It won’t be easy to be by yourself, but I think it’s imperative for the time being.  Seek professional help (and/or the help of friends you aren’t having sex with) in dealing with whatever caused that “bad stage”, and once you’ve begun to heal then you can open your heart up again to the possibility of a new relationship with someone who isn’t already taken.

(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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Drinking on the Job

I’ve been seeing a well-reviewed independent for the past three months, but on our sixth visit she was very chatty and started drinking.  Six hours into our three-hour appointment she offered an overnight at no extra charge, but wanted to eat at a nearby bar; there she drank even more and ended up very drunk.  When we returned to her incall she tried to go through the motions, but she was so far gone I decided it was better not to do anything with her.  Over the next couple of hours she texted her boyfriend “I love you…” in my sight, played music on her phone, repeatedly fell out of bed and did other crazy things while still trying to engage me in activity.  Finally she fell asleep, and I left; I later sent her an email detailing all the drunken behavior and assuring her I hadn’t done anything inappropriate.  She responded that nothing like this had ever happened before; she’s embarrassed and won’t see me again.  I knew describing all the drunken behavior could upset her, but felt I should tell her because I was the only witness and for an escort, getting drunk with a client is unwise and dangerous.  I think she’s had other substance abuse problems in the past, because though her body looks young for her age her face looks much older.  Do you think I acted correctly?Storyville prostitute drinking Raleigh Rye, photographed by E. J. Bellocq circa 1912

I think you acted in the best way possible given the circumstances.  Life might be easier if everyone closely minded his or her role in a relationship and never stepped outside of its bounds, but because we’re human such professionalism is rare and can tend to feel a bit odd and off-putting.  And that’s only considering “ordinary” Western-style business relationships; in Asian cultures, for example, one is expected to socialize with one’s co-workers, and even in the West some business relationships seem to invite line-blurring by their resemblance to intimate ones (doctor-patient, teacher-student and sex worker-client are a few examples).  Usually it’s the client who gets confused about the boundaries of his relationship with a sex worker; since he’s paying for an illusion it isn’t too surprising that he sometimes loses himself in that illusion and mistakes the performance for sincere romance, sexual attraction or friendship.  It’s very important for whores to maintain boundaries, so we usually get quite good at it; there are some circumstances, however, in which that ability is eroded, and biochemical impairment is probably the most dangerous one.  I am firmly of the opinion that a professional should absolutely never indulge in alcohol or any other drug while on the job, but I’m a bit square in that respect; most escorts can handle a glass of wine or two without impairing their judgment.  Your lady, however, is clearly not among them; anyone who can’t understand that it’s inappropriate to get drunk while at work (compare a doctor drinking at the hospital, a teacher drinking at school or a driver drinking in his truck) definitely has a drinking problem.

In short, she acted in a way that was stupid, unprofessional and (as you pointed out) dangerous, and that isn’t your fault.  Could you have recognized that something was wrong after her she had her third (or fourth, or seventh) drink and let three hours lapse into six?  Sure.  Should your alarm bells have sounded when she offered an overnight freebie?  Absolutely.  But as I said above, keeping control of the situation isn’t actually your job, it’s hers; it is, in fact, part of what you’re paying her for.  You shouldn’t have to check up on the side effects of a medicine your doctor prescribes, or make sure that your lawyer stays awake in court;sleeping lawyer it is their responsibility to exercise due diligence, and that is no less true of a paid companion.  I think you were wise not to have sex with her; after all, if your cab driver were drunk you’d be wise to ask him to pull over so you could get out.  Furthermore, telling her what she did was the right thing to do; I think it’s safe to say she’s in denial and that this isn’t actually the first time something like this has happened (which is why she won’t see you again).  There’s nothing else you can do; she’s an adult and has the right to mess up her own business and life if she chooses.  It doesn’t mean you have to like it, or that you shouldn’t feel sorry for her, but in telling her what she did and ensuring that no harm came to her while you were present, you have done all that is required of you as a moral person and all that you can do as a stranger.  If she asked you for help the situation might be different, but she hasn’t so it isn’t.  And if she contacts you later and offers to make up for the session you didn’t get, I think it would be best for you to politely decline.

(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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Plead what I will be, not what I have been;
Not my deserts, but what I will deserve.  –  Shakespeare, Richard III (IV,iv)

If you’ve been reading me for a while you’ve noticed that I’m a bit persnickety about words.  OK, that’s an understatement; I can actually be downright maniacal about them.  But as I pointed out in “Nasty Words”,

As a writer, words are my tools, and I cherish them and baby them the way a good mechanic cares for the tools of his trade.  And just as a good mechanic always uses the right tool for the job rather than trying to make do with whatever happens to be nearby, so I insist on using the right word…and just as some mechanics are annoyed by seeing others misuse or abuse their tools, so am I annoyed by the misuse or abuse of words…

This doesn’t mean I’m a grammar Nazi, though (as you’ve also probably noticed).  It’s not misspellings, malapropisms or mistakes like “irregardless” that set my teeth on edge, and you’ll probably never see me rail about them unless I’m deliberately trying to be difficult.  No, what annoys me are A) words which are improperly constructed (such as “homophobia”) or improperly used (such as “vagina”) by people who should know better, trying to sound “proper” or “intellectual” or “serious” and failing miserably; and B) proper words used properly which nonetheless grate on my nerves due to their referring to morally or philosophically objectionable concepts.  I’ve already written about (A) in the aforementioned “Nasty Words”, and about one important example of (B) in “The Privilege Paradigm”.  But today I’d like to target the word “deserve”, the visible part of an iceberg of moral odiousness floating unseen below the social waterline.

Weighing of the HeartIf you’re scratching your head about now, consider what the word “deserve” implies:  that there is some absolute and unambiguous moral standard in the universe against which actions and people can be weighed like a heart against a feather in the Egyptian afterlife, with “deserving” things exalted with hosannahs and “undeserving” thrown to that crocodile-headed thing.  Yes, that’s an exaggeration, but not by much; “deserve” implies a clear, objective standard on which all right-thinking people can agree, and sets up an external authority as the judge.  And those implications lead to two important misrepresentations of subjective things as objective; the first is merely annoying, while the second is one of the chief rationalizations for tyranny.

The first of those misrepresentations is the one used with irksome regularity in advertisements for luxury goods or what we might call “common luxuries”, things such as ice cream or fast food which aren’t luxurious, but aren’t strictly necessary either. It’s nearly impossible to go a day without seeing some huckster hawking his goods with phrases like McDonald’s classic “You deserve a break today,” implying that the consumer is a long-suffering paragon of virtue whose unremitting efforts go unrecognized by Them, despite the fact that the whole business would fall apart if not for her. So even if she isn’t paid as much as she “deserves” or given the praise she “deserves”, she can reward herself by spending money at whatever business the ad is trying to promote. Vacation travel is one of the most notorious abusers of the word, but in a bad economy it has a strong challenger in loan companies who promise to give the consumer “the credit you deserve”, implying that hey, it isn’t actually your fault that you defaulted on all those bills. Am I implying that people with bad credit are deadbeats? Not at all; life is hard and shit happens (and I’m only just building back my own credit from a near-total wipeout in the autumn of 2008). But let’s not pretend that good credit is some kind of award for the virtuous, either; actuarial tables are not based in scruples, but in statistics. Either there’s a good chance a lender will get his money back from a borrower or there isn’t, and “deserve” has nothing to do with it.  That also happens to be the title of an excellent essay by Ken “Popehat” White which I linked in “Return of the Agitator“:

…the central narrative of our criminal justice system…offers the ultimate excuse for cutting corners, giving police the benefit of the doubt, looking the other way at constitutional violations, putting our thumbs on the state’s end of the scales of justice.  He got what he deserved — that’s what one side says, cutting through facts and law and reasoned analysis to pure us vs. them.  He didn’t deserve that,  says the other side, unwittingly lending support to the implicit argument that there are some who do.  But deserve’s got nothing to do with it.  Heroism and villainy have nothing to do with it.  We have to demand that everyone be treated justly, whether our viscera tell us that they do not deserve the rule of law at all…because it’s…foolish and perilous to let the state (or the mob) decide who deserves rights and who doesn’t…

I'm No Saint, I'm No Angel, I'm Just Human by Rebivaleska (2012)The word “deserve” is thus allowed to excuse the inexcusable; it’s OK that we gunned down that black kid, because he stole a pack of cigarettes two years ago.  It’s OK we raped that woman, because she’s a streetwalker.  It’s OK we’re fining charities for feeding those people, because they’re drug addicts.  It’s OK we entirely shut these men out of human society, because they’re “sex offenders”.  They don’t deserve to be treated like human beings, because they’re “no angels”…the implication being, of course, that only angels deserve humane treatment, no matter what the easy-credit guys tell you.  And if you see nothing wrong with that implication, you deserve everything you get.

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We are hardly ever grateful for a fine clock or watch when it goes right, and we pay attention to it only when it falters.  –  the 4th Earl of Chesterfield

Every so often I get an email or series of “tweets” that causes me to shake my head and wonder whether the author has been paying attention at all at any time in the past four years.  Now, I’m not talking about communications from new readers or from non-readers who just read one column or even one “tweet”; rather, I mean people I’ve corresponded with before who have (presumably) been reading here for a while and should know how I do things.  Recently, I had several such incidents, so I think it would be worthwhile to address the points that somehow seem to have escaped some folks.

clockwork girlFirst, it appears that I need to spell out some details about advice letters (again).  It seems as though some people have made it several decades into their lives without quite understanding how an “agony aunt” column works, so I’ll reiterate and add details specific to mine.  Since there are many different, competing demands on my time (especially while on tour), I cannot promise that I will always get to advice emails quickly.  I understand that people who write are often upset or even suffering, and I really do try to answer every letter as quickly as possible.  Usually that’s within a few days, but while I’m travelling it can be longer; some letters that arrived in July took me almost six weeks to answer.  Yes, I could dash off a quick response, but I hardly think that’s what anyone wants unless the question only requires that sort of response.  Unless you specifically ask me not to publish your question, it may appear in a future Wednesday column, though edited and condensed to remove identifying details or even to broaden the scope slightly.  Some of you may have noticed that if you clarify the situation in a later letter and my advice changes because of that clarification, it’s still the original version which appears on the blog; when that happens it’s because I felt either that the clarified version gave away too many personal details, or that the original version would apply to more people reading.  Though you are only concerned with your own specific problem, you’d be surprised how many other people may find my answer helpful (even if their own issues are slightly different).

Next, some people seem to have failed to notice the level of organization I maintain in this blog, and have made requests of me that, while they might seem reasonable, are actually nothing of the kind.  I’ve noticed that when a reader links to either a column or one of my feature pages to make a point elsewhere on the internet, at least one ass will usually disparage the citation with some variation on “a WordPress blog isn’t a credible source”.  If I ran this like an ordinary blog, a place to jot down stray thoughts here and there as they came to me, that might be a valid criticism; however, as anyone who has been paying attention will have noticed, that isn’t how I do things.  I treat this like an electronic magazine; I write a column every day, hyperlink and cross-reference my citations, and include every post in the extensive subject index.  Once a post is published, the only changes I make are to correct typos or (within the same day or two) to correct some major error or omission; also, I may change a picture for one of higher resolution, or because the subject of a picture asked me to use a different one.  I take an extremely dim view of websites who shove posts down the memory hole just because some readers didn’t like them; I have the philosophy that “you can’t unring a bell”, so once a post is up I will not remove it no matter who finds it offensive.  Besides the ethical problem that would create, removing the index entries and hyperlinks would be like pulling one gear out of a clock; given that many of my posts are reblogged or scraped, it might not even do any good for me to censor a post because it might already have been copied elsewhere.  And if you think I’m going to leave an ugly and conspicuous hole in a four-year-long perfect record just because it hurt your feelings, I respectfully suggest you reconsider your place in the universe.

Finally, some people seem to have developed very strange misconceptions about my status in the universe, so let’s put those to rest, shall we?  I am not a goddess, an angel, a superheroine, a bodhisattva or any other form of superior entity, and have never claimed to be.  Accordingly, I am not perfect; I make mistakes and misjudgments like anybody else.  Because of this, you cannot use the evidence-free accusation that I made one mistake as an argument that my entire body of work is flawed; rather, you can do that, but it will simply result in your looking like an idiot.  Even if you have actual evidence of an error in one essay or statement, it doesn’t ruin my “perfect track record” because I don’t have a perfect track record, and nobody sane ever claimed that I did.  Moreover, I’m not required to explain every editorial choice I make to the satisfaction of whatever random stranger cares to demand such an explanation, and anyone who believes that I am needs more help than I can give in one of my advice columns.

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Tattooing of [“trafficking” victims doesn’t]…make much sense outside of sadistic, pornographic fantasy.  –  Julia Davidson

Check Your Premises

Any teen who won’t behave in the way most adults want to manipulate her into behaving, must be being manipulated by another adult:

It took nearly two decades for Smith to realize she…was a victim of child sex trafficking.  “I was what they call a ‘willing victim’,” she said…the media and advocacy organizations depict child sex trafficking as an issue that involves physically abused or helpless children.  But “just being a teenager” is a predisposition factor…Smith said she’s a strong advocate for kids who insist they want to live the way they’ve been manipulated by an adult into living…

Above the Law Grant Carruth

an Amite [Louisiana] police officer accused of sexually assaulting women after deceiving them online has been arrested…Grant Carruth…faces…counts of…kidnapping…aggravated rape…sexual battery and…theft…he…identified himself as a narcotics officer, handcuffed them and said they were being arrested…

I’m Sure You Feel Safer Now

Note the liberal use of dysphemisms, and the pretense that gross proceeds equal net profit:

A…woman was [sentenced] to…10 years in state prison for operating a prostitution ring in…New Jersey…Deanna Ruiz…pleaded guilty to racketeering…over a 15-year-period, she collected millions of dollars…[and] booked more than 6,000 hotel rooms at a cost of $1.087 million…she created several sham companies and used them to launder the money…and…commit tax and unemployment…

How, pray tell, does one “commit tax and unemployment”?

Broken Record

A grassroots advocacy group is trying to raise awareness about increased demands for paid sex during the Pan Am Games…Buying Sex Is Not A Sport…is…faith-based…The link between increased sex trafficking and large sporting events has been a controversial one that is not clearly agreed upon by experts…

Wrong; the experts have declared these “faith-based” claims total fabrications.

The Widening Gyre

They finally realized they could expand the panic by adding male “sex slaves”:

Viktor Berki…Gabor Acs and Andras Janos Vass [ran]…Never Sleep, Inc. [which] involved slaves — who did not speak English and barely got to sleep…Three of the victims…rescued in South Florida were first promised that they would earn thousands of dollars as escorts.  But…they were forced to perform sex acts in front of a webcam and engage in prostitution for 18 to 20 hours a day…

Soap Opera

It’s hard to pick one “sex trafficking” trope that’s stupider than all others, but barcode tattoos are definitely in the running:

People traffickers are believed to have marked their victims with symbolic tattoos to assert their ownership over “assets” that can be sold for thousands of pounds…The victims have been “branded like cattle” – a practice commonly seen worldwide for women in the sex trade – to show that they were aged over 18, the National Crime Agency (NCA) said…One Romanian woman – who was whipped and held against her will in Spain – had been tattooed with a bar code and a sum of money that investigators believed was the amount that she would have to earn before the gang…would release her…The NCA said the extent to which tattoos were used was not known…barcode tattoo

The extent is very well known:  one single case, the one (from 2012) mentioned above.  And as I pointed out at the time, it was “…an example of life imitating artifice because these absurd tales have been circulated…for at least six years now.”  Dr. Julia Davidson explains just how stupid this trope actually is:

…If thugs were criminally coercing someone into prostitution, why would they care whether she was 17 or 18 years old?  Conversely, if they were supplying women to managers of establishments that would only accept…over 18, why would those managers be satisfied by a tattoo, as opposed to identity documents…if tattooing were actually common practice…  victim identification would be a far simpler matter…

The Public Eye

Sex workers were among the first not directly involved with the Ferguson protests to spread the word on social media; others like cam girl Sasha Pain are doing even more than that:

…she and two friends…[are] filming protests and sharing them with her audience…Pain…won’t stop working just because she’s on the road.  When she has an Internet connection in Ferguson, she’ll make sex tapes and donate proceeds from videos to buy supplies to protect protesters from tear gas…”Everything that I make while I’m here that I don’t need to feed myself, the people I’m with and over my bills is going toward buying food for protesters and gas masks”…

On the Simultaneous Having and Eating of Cake

Portland…strip-club dancers are working…with lobbyists, legislators, and social workers to draft a new set of…regulations slated to hit the House floor…in…February…Generally, laws that regulate strip clubs and other sex industry businesses are handed down from the top by legislators, with little input from the people most directly affected…Whether because of stigmas related to…sex work…or a prevailing misconception that most…sex workers are victims of trafficking, there are very few, if any, legislative precedents that show adult entertainment professionals actually being asked to weigh in…

Checklist

Writer cannot conceive that the reason more people don’t notice “sex trafficking” is that it doesn’t exist on anything like the scale it’s purported to:

…airline employees are now being trained to…carefully watch for…unusual activity…such as when kids don’t answer questions or avoid eye contact when addressed.  Other telltale signs might be bruising…or a ravenous appetite…victims…sometimes have been at the mercy of their traffickers for so long they see themselves not as women being pimped out for sex but as girlfriends helping their boyfriend pay the bills…sex trafficking spikes around the Super Bowl…If you see something say something…

Cops and Condoms (TW3 #313)

The sheer wrongness of this cannot be overstated.

Dysphemisms Galore 

Korean officials only persecute sex workers in order to please their masters in Washington:

…since the implementation of the 2004 Special Law on Prostitution…the number of red-light districts…has decreased nationwide, from 69 in 2002 to 44 last year.  But…the prostitution industry has actually grown…[and]  transformed to avoid the confines of the law…pimps posing as ordinary citizens scour the streets to find potential customers…Transformed prostitution businesses have doubled over the past three years as traditional brothels have decreased, swelling to 4,706 in 2013, up from 2,068 in 2010…

The phrase “pimps posing as ordinary citizens” is both hilarious and telling.

Ad Absurdum

Because obviously, “victims” always go around bragging about their “abuse”:

Two teachers at the same Louisiana high school have been charged in the sex abuse of the same male student…Shelley Dufresne, 32, and Rachel Respess, 24, both teach at Destrehan High School in St. Charles Parish….an unnamed source…implied that the victim was involved in a threesome with the teachers…at Respess’ apartment after a…football game [on] Sept. 12, and that…the…student had been “bragging to other students that he was having a sexual relationship with teachers”…

A Procrustean Bed (TW3 #339)

For the past year Red Umbrella Project has studied New York’s “trafficking courts”, which define all sex workers as “victims”; to absolutely nobody’s surprise, the majority of those arrested are minorities, and in Brooklyn a stunning 94% of women arrested for “loitering for the purpose of prostitution” (in other words, “looking like a whore”) are black.  Since Melissa Gira Grant,  Noah Berlatsky and Michelle Chen all went into the findings in detail, I’ll just refer you to those articles. Samantha Azzopardi

The Widening Gyre (TW3 #346)

Samantha Azzopardi, 26, who was found wandering the streets of Dublin last fall, led Irish police to believe that she was a 14-or 15-year-old sex-trafficking victim from eastern Europe…Now…[she] has shown up in Alberta…claiming that her name was Aurora Hepburn, that she was 14 and that she had been the victim of an abduction, sexual assault and torture…Calgary police became suspicious after learning of [the Irish] case…Azzopardi has been charged with public mischief…an offense punishable by up to five years in prison…

The Spiral of Absurdity

Houston is bound and determined to win this pissing contest, no matter how ludicrous the claims it has to make:

Houston is a hub for…sex trafficking…[due to its] size, port location and ethnic diversity…a three-month analysis of ads posted on backpage.com…[found] a higher number of ads per person than were posted for Manhattan and northern New Jersey during this year’s Super Bowl…

This is equivalent to concluding that Houston has more people who are morbidly obese than New York because it has more billboards for barbecue restaurants.

Above the Law (TW3 #407)

For those who think I make too big a deal about the euphemisms prosecutors and reporters use for rape by cops:  “Sorrento, Louisiana police chief Earl Theriot pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting an unconscious woman and then lying about it to the FBI…Theriot managed to escape jail time…taking just a $2,500 fine and 2 years probation…”  Think he’d have escaped that easily if his crime had been called what it was? Theresa May, arch-censor

Opting Out (TW3 #408)

The other shoe drops:

Britain’s…Home Secretary Theresa May [said]…that if re-elected next year, the [Conservative] party will introduce civil powers to disrupt people who “spread poisonous hatred” even within the law…police could apply for a court order to disrupt “harmful activity” by restricting an individual’s movements, preventing them from speaking in public or stopping them publishing articles online…

Which views are “harmful” to be determined by the government, of course.

Imaginary Crises (TW3 #410) 

the rate of forcible rapes in 2012 was estimated at 52.9 per 100,000 female inhabitants…Assuming that all…women are uniformly at risk, this means the…probability that an American woman is raped in her lifetime is 2.6 percent and in college 0.2 percent — 5 to 100 times less than the estimates broadcast by the media and public officials…

Forward and Backward (TW3 #415)

…the District of Columbia Council voted…to repeal the District’s  “Prostitution Free Zones” law as well as the “Drug Free Zones” law that it was based on…Although a largely symbolic gesture, since the police have already acknowledged not using the zones for the past two years…the debate over the bill shows the importance of removing laws targeting sex workers, and those profiled as such…

The Missing Word

Despite the fact that the exploitation is clearly laid out here, the magic word appears only once, saying that a sting involved “only a tiny piece of the trafficking industry”.  One can only surmise that because the smugglers only threatened to sell their “client” to a brothel (a threat made credible by the moral panic), the New York Times figures it isn’t a “real” case of “trafficking”.

Schadenfreude (TW3 #424) 

Just a few highlights of this expose of “sex trafficking” fraud Chong Kim’s lies:

…Chong Kim [was] convicted by a Minnesota judge for stealing money from a human-trafficking survivor…She is…on probation…as a result…Chong Kim walks with a cane, which she told me was an injury suffered from her days of sexual slavery…she actually had that disability since she was seven years old, and up until at least 2005, she collected Social Security checks for it…she…frequently claims that she was living in Texas when she got sold into sexual slavery in 1994…she was actually a junior in high school in…Minnesota…The…1994…Yearbook clearly contains a photo of Chong Kim…her…social security number is linked to multiple people…

Uncommon Sense (TW3 #433)

The myths that circulate about German prostitution legislation are a perfect example of how lies and misconceptions become accepted as ‘truths’ if only they are repeated often enough.”  In this short article Matthias Lehmann debunks lies including “the 2002 Act legalized prostitution”, “brothel owners can force sex workers to perform certain acts”, “Job Centres can force job seekers to take up sex work” and “sex trafficking has increased under the law”.

Lower Education (TW3 #438) 

the University of Michigan’s…policy on sexual violence…says:  “Examples…include…criticizing the partner sexually [and]…withholding sex and affection“…this policy suggests that under some circumstances, a partner is entitled to sex…there theoretically exists at the University of Michigan some circumstances in which not consenting to sex is against the rules.  This is utterly unconscionable, and, frankly, insane…

Sold Out (TW3 #438)

Facebook…[has backed off of its] “real-name” crackdown on drag queens and performers…and…apologized to all those whom they’ve offended.  Though the exact policy changes remain TBA, a source…says Facebook is planning to revert to a “preferred name” policy instead…

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