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Posts Tagged ‘halfway whores’

This essay first appeared in Cliterati on May 4th; I have modified it slightly to fit the format of this blog.

In cinema and television, the goodies and baddies are usually distinctly different and in opposition to one another; the enemy of the baddie is a goodie, and anything done to bring down the baddie is automatically good.  But real life is rarely like that; in the real world, the enemy of a baddie is nearly always another baddie (often a worse one), and things done to bring down baddies often have such terrible implications for others that it really would’ve done less harm to simply let the baddie keep doing whatever it was he was doing.  As I’ve pointed out before, “Oppressions always start with those nobody is willing to defend.”   When civil rights are eroded to “catch” scoundrels, it’s never long before the precedent thus set is extended by stages to cover everyone; furthermore, when some awful behavior becomes acceptable for ordinary people who lack legal “authority” over others, it’s inevitable that government actors will start doing the same thing.  In the recent controversy over the leaking of billionaire Donald Sterling’s racist rules for his mistress,Sterling and Stiviano virtually all the media attention has been focused on his behavior, as though it were the whole story; in fact, nearly every person involved in the sordid affair has behaved abominably, and the episode is part and parcel of a deep illness in modern society.

Though many people have incorrectly cast this as an issue of censorship, it’s actually much more insidious.  As prominent free-speech attorney Marc Randazza explained,

The First Amendment protects you from the government punishing you because of your speech.  The NBA is a private club, and it can discipline Sterling all it wants…The First Amendment does not insulate you from criticism…Nevertheless…What happened to him may have been illegal and was morally wrong…In California, you can’t record a conversation without the knowledge or consent of both parties…We all say things in private that we might not say in public…Think about what [Sterling’s] public character execution means.  It means that we now live in a world where if you have any views that are unpopular, you…not only need to fear saying them in public, but…to fear saying them at all — even to your intimate friends.  They might be recording you, and then that recording may be spread across the Internet for everyone to hear…The Sterling story is not that we found a bigot and dragged him to the gallows in the middle of the marketplace of ideas.  The Sterling story is about how there is no more privacy.  We live in a world where you can share your intimate photos with your lover, and they will wind up on a “revenge porn” website.  We live in a world where our intimate conversations will be recorded and blasted to billions of listeners.  We live in a world where, say a gold digger can spy on her sugar daddy, and the world says that the creepy old guy is the bad guy…In this story, there are two villains.  Sterling represents the bad old days.  But Stiviano’s behavior represents the horrifying future…

Actually, I think Randazza grossly underestimates the number of villains here.  Since the entire media apparatus is already focusing on Sterling, I need not waste words on further commentary about him.  But what about his treacherous mistress, Vanessa Stiviano?  Let’s dispense with the “girlfriend” and “archivist” nonsense:  she is a courtesan, albeit an amateurish, unethical one.  She didn’t “fall in love” with him, and he wasn’t so impressed with her librarian skills that he gave her a Ferrari, two Bentleys, a Range Rover, a million-dollar Los Angeles duplex and $240,000 in cash.  Maggie the Librarian finds the claim that we share a profession preposterous, and Maggie the Whore finds the claim that we don’t equally so; both sides are outraged by her lack of professional discretion.  As an archivist she is duty-bound not to divulge private recordings, and as a harlot she is duty-bound not to divulge anything about her patron; if she has a moral issue with something he says or does, she needs to find another patron or another line of work.     

But there’s no evidence that she revealed the recording out of some high-minded principle of justice or primitive impulse to defend “her people” (Sterling’s comments were anti-black and Stiviano is half black).  Indeed, she claims that some other party stole the recording and sold it to the gossip website TMZ; if true, there are two more villains for our list.  However, Sterling claims that Stiviano released the tape herself in retaliation for his wife’s lawsuit against her (more next paragraph); specifically, it’s because Sterling and the LA Clippers basketball team (which he owns) have publicly embraced the suit and claimed that Stiviano “embezzled” her various fees and gifts.  Given that a settlement is already under negotiation to ensure that no more tapes are released, and that Stiviano appears to be shopping for a “kiss and tell” book deal, I find Sterling’s version far more credible.

About that lawsuit:  in this whore’s well-considered and experience-informed opinion, Rochelle Sterling launched it as a petty and ill-considered means of revenge against Stiviano, and her husband went along with it under threat that an expensive and embarrassing divorce would surely follow if he did not.  I say “petty” because the total value the wife seeks to steal from the mistress is a paltry $1.8 million; Sterling’s net worth is $1.9 billion.  In other words, she filed an aggressive and high-profile lawsuit for less than 1/1000 of her husband’s accumulated wealth…the equivalent of a middle-class wife suing an escort her husband saw once or twice.  In the past, wives had more sense than to risk the Streisand Effect by calling attention to their husbands’ dalliances; many now apparently lack the sense and dignity of their forebears, however, and have abandoned discretion entirely to the keeping of ethical sex workers.

The baddies listed so far represent only a miniscule fraction of the total number involved in this story.  Whether the tape was released by Stiviano herself or by this supposed third party she has declined to name, it was the existence of the tabloid media which made the release possible; however, those media are only commercially viable because of the public’s taste for the lurid and its jackal-like desire to watch and even participate in the humiliation or destruction of others.  If there were no audience for the salacious details of others’ private lives, no lust to fondle the dismembered bones of the skeletons in everyone else’s closets, there would be no tabloid press, no profitable gossip mills, and very little blackmail; unfortunately, we all have that shameful curiosity to some degree, so there will always be a ready market for stolen secrets.  At one time, discretion was the mark of a professional or a person of quality; now it’s increasingly becoming a quaint relic of the bygone past.  And though the mob may cheer when some awful person’s sins are exposed, it will react with equal exuberance when the blood on the sand is yours.

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I have to laugh when I hear people say: “Oh, I’ve never met a sex-worker before” and I have to say, chances are you have, you just don’t know it.  -  Valerie Scott

Bad Girls Andrea Alvira

Men:  Pay your hookers!  Ladies:  Get the damned money up front!

A 19-year-old…prostitute choked a [Florida] man to death after he tried to stiff her out of money he owed her for sexual services…Andrea Alvira…[chased] Brandon Day, 22…into a yard, where she dropped him by hitting him in the neck. She got on top of Day’s chest and forced her knees into his throat, suffocating him…

Grow the Hell Up!

Politicians, cops and naïve, whiny women are a dangerous combination:

…Rebecca McHood of [Mesa, Arizona] said she belongs to “a community of women who have been affected by pornography and sex addiction of their spouses…”I have five close friends whose husbands or ex-husbands have frequented [massage] parlors…I have seen the effects [sic] this has on their families, including the effects of divorce”…Lynnette Greybull…said she has found a website that lists 36 Mesa sex shops masquerading as massage parlors.  “They have a page…of acronyms…[detailing] what they’re able to do to these women…it’s very disgusting and perverted…These establishments are fake businesses…that…sell women.”

A Tale That Grew in the Telling

You know the oft-repeated lie that a third of teen runaways are approached by a “pimp” within 48 hours (when in reality, 84% of teen sex workers literally never meet a pimp)?  Well, it’s down to 45 minutes now:

Last year, King County’s Committee to End Homelessness issued a fact sheet that [stated]…“76 percent of unaccompanied minors [are] approached by either a known gang member or pimp in less than 45 minutes”…“That study has been altered, revised and bastardized beyond recognition,” says…Captain Eric Sano…“The actual study was from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.  They say that one in three teens will be recruited by an exploiter.  In 2009 we…put a very youthful female member of the department [in a park in disguise] and within 45 minutes she was approached by two members of the Westside Street Mobb”…

It’s a good sign when a claim is too ridiculous even for cops and reporters.

Forward and Backward (TW3 #4)

An unusually-sensible attitude for a politician:

…I have decided to implement [activists’] recommendations…by introducing a bill to repeal “prostitution free zones” in D.C…transgender women…[say cops] regularly view and treat them as criminals…The prostitution free zones reinforce this bias…it is also critical that police officers help someone who is assaulted or raped, even if they were involved in sex work.  MPD is responsible for the safety of everyone, including sex workers…

Above the Law  

…Cleveland police officer Gregory Jones [was found] guilty of raping and kidnapping a woman…Prosecutor Jesse Canonico said…’He was a rapist masquerading as a police officer’…”  According to Canonico, cops and rapists are two mutually exclusive things!  Obviously he’s never been to New York:

Yonkers police officer Alex Della Donna…arrested…Sonia L. Gomez…[and] coerced her into having [sex] with him at least a half-dozen times…continually [reminding her] that drug charges…might be reinstated if she didn’t continue…[the rapes] ended only after Gomez’s husband threatened to tell departmental higher-ups…

Or California:  “…West Sacramento Police officer…Sergio Alvarez was convicted of…numerous counts of aggravated assault and rape…and…[given] a 205-years-to-life sentence…he raped women while on the job, sometimes even in his patrol car…”  Or even Utah:

…police officer Jeremy Rose has been charged with 15 offenses in the collection of thousands of photos of a teenage girl in various stages of undress…Rose convinced a then-15-year-old…to pose semi-nude for photos he said he would sell for her on the Internet…he also allegedly hid a camera in the girl’s bedroom to record video of her dressing and undressing…

Traffic Jam (TW3 #21)

Note the moronic “people can be sold repeatedly” canard:

[California] officials say gangs have become more involved in human trafficking because people can be repeatedly sold for profit, unlike drugs and guns…The legislature is considering a…bill…[to classify] human trafficking…as “gang activities”…Sentences for gang-related crimes are usually stiffer…

Feet of Clay (TW3 #22)

Following in the illustrious footsteps of Lauren Hersh:

An assistant district attorney was verbally berated and banished from a Bronx judge’s courtroom after failing to reveal evidence that would have freed a man held at Rikers Island on bogus rape charges…“This is an utter and complete disgrace — not just for you, but for your office in general”…Judge John Wilson told…Megan Teesdale before dismissing the case…The defendant, Segundo Marquez, had been held…for more than eight months awaiting trial…

Above the Law (TW3 #28) Jeffrey Holmes

A…Kansas City police officer who was accused of forcing two women to have sex with him was found guilty of acceding to corruption…and sentenced…to 15 days in jail…” When a non-cop does the same thing it’s called “rape” and gets more than 2 weeks in jail.

The Public Eye

In this interview with Valerie Scott (one of the plaintiffs in Bedford vs. Canada) she touches on the landmark case and the Swedish model; however, the more interesting part for me is her discussion of pre-internet sex work in Canada, sex work ethics, myths about sex work and “pimps” and the absurdity of trying to suppress the trade.

Where Are the Protests? (TW3 #48)

The…son of a peasant farmer from…China has been in custody since being found in a…Dublin…grow house with an estimated €1 million worth of cannabis…Fergal Kavanagh…said his client…[was] imprisoned in the grow-house by traffickers…[and] should be released pending a full investigation into his case…

Caring Professionals

Another nursing home ignites controversy by hiring sex workers for residents:

The elderly residents of a Long Island nursing home…[attended a male] striptease in the facility’s rec room, a new lawsuit claims.  The son of one resident, 85-year-old Bernice Youngblood, was shocked when he…found a picture of his mom stuffing dollar bills — which are supposed to be locked away in her commissary account — into a dancer’s briefs…“Plaintiff Bernice Youngblood was placed in apprehension of imminent, offensive, physical harm, as she was confused and bewildered as to why a muscular, almost nude man, was approaching her and placing his body and limbs, over [her],” the suit states…Youngblood’s attorneys argue she “lacks the mental and physical capacity” to protect herself…

Photo4by6.jpgUnless Mrs. Youngblood is unquestionably suffering from dementia, it sounds more to me like her son is just revolted by the idea that his mother might enjoy male strippers and might actually exert a little control over her surroundings instead of existing as a passive, passionless vegetable under others’ “care”.

Traffic Jam (TW3 #321)

Government officials in Phoenix are violating the law by compelling [sex workers]…to participate in a program administered by religious groups, Americans United for Separation of Church and State says…the program, Project ROSE, clearly violates the First Amendment…those arrested…are forcibly taken to Bethany Bible Church…in handcuffs…[and] given the option to avoid criminal prosecution by participating in a sectarian program.  “Phoenix is essentially telling criminal suspects that they can go to church or go to jail,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn…

Shame, Shame (TW3 #348)

[Congresswoman] Jackie Speier…has apparently decided to introduce a federal “revenge porn” bill, which is being drafted, in part, by Prof. Mary Anne Franks, who has flat out admitted that her goal is to undermine Section 230 protections for websites…to make…third parties — like “Google, any website, Verizon… face liability”…[she claims] she’s not seeking to undermine Section 230 in any way…[because it] has never protected sites from liability of federal crimes – just civil infractions and state crimes.  So her goal is to make the amorphous concept of “revenge porn” a “federal crime” thereby suddenly making third-party websites liable…this effort is fraught with dangerous consequences and potential First Amendment problems…

Subtle Pimping (TW3 #403)

You’ve got to love the way she makes it sound as though it were her idea:

University of Colorado sociology professor Patti Adler has axed the prostitution skit…that led administrators to pull her from the classroom last semester…[she] cited difficulty with consent forms and worries among participants after the…skit drew national attention…In the end, Adler canceled the controversial skit and invited local sex workers to her class…Adler interviewed the sex workers…and then allowed the students to ask…questions…

Uncommon Sense (TW3 #405)

More on the German politicians who want to make life harder for whores:

…the Union [Party] wants to impose stricter controls on brothels and threaten clients with punishment.  The police and other authorities may also get the power to raid brothels without concrete suspicion, [sponsor] Thomas Strobl…said…clients should not be able to “make excuses” [if police declare that] a…prostitute has “obvious signs of ill-treatment”…the Union also wants [to reward] foreign prostitutes with…residence [if they agree to testify against]… “their tormentors” …presently, foreign forced prostitutes…do not report to the police because they…fear deportation…I Am Jennie

Drawing Lines

Former porn actress Jennifer Ketcham incoherently argues that the best way for porn actors to fight for decriminalization is to draw an artificial line between themselves and other whores.  Or something.

…Porn…advocates…are quick to distinguish between pornography and prostitution, and…it is way more okay to be a porn star than it is to be a prostitute…porn stars…[should] drop the label of “sex worker” and adopt the title of “adult film actor”…[to sever] it from the morally-loaded concept and illegality of prostitution…by drawing imaginary lines between sex work performed on camera and sex work performed behind closed doors, porn (unintentionally) debases the majority of sex workers…

The Sky is Falling! (TW3 #413)

Regarding the last line: what the hell does she think prostitution is?

…Équipe d’Action…has…[filed] legal proceedings against a “sugar daddy” dating site, which they accuse of operating a disguised prostitution racket.  The existence of such sites in France…[was ignored until] the arrival of the US site Seeking Arrangement…If the complaint is upheld in court it could change the definition of prostitution in France…Angela Jacob Bermudo, a spokeswoman for the French Seeking Arrangement site…[said] “Seeking Arrangement is not prostitution…For many girls, this is a viable option to be able to concentrate on their studies without the financial burden”…

Deafening Silence (TW3 #413)

Chinese officials violently suppress a city’s major industry, then wonder why its economy dies:

Prostitution was once rife in Dongguan…Local analysts estimated there were more than 250,000 prostitutes at its peak, and that the business generated about 50 billion yuan (HK$63 billion) a year…But…in February…authorities started a campaign to wipe out prostitution…hotel managers estimate…up to 70 per cent of prostitutes had left the city.  “The crackdown may not kill us, but it will kill [the nearby town of] Changping and then the city itself.  Without our xiaojie [whores], Changping is going to be a ghost town”…Many people working in the city’s retail and service sectors – from taxi drivers to snack sellers, landlords to restaurant bosses – grumble that their business has suffered since the…raids began…At the New South China Mall, the largest shopping centre in the world when it opened in 2005 with more than 2,000 shops, at least half the stores are vacant…

Whither Canada? (TW3 #413) 

In Canada, articles like the ones below and at right appear in the mainstream media:

…more than 300 of our fellow Canadian and international academics and researchers expressed their profound concern that the federal government is blatantly ignoring a large body of scientific evidence…that criminalization of any aspect of sex work, including the purchasing of sex, has overwhelmingly negative [effects]…banning the purchasing of sex is not scientifically grounded and sorely misguided by moral judgment of sex workers as victims.  In fact, evidence strongly suggests that this approach would recreate the same social and health-related harms of current criminalization regime…there is no evidence that criminalizing the purchasing of sex reduces or eliminates prostitution…

Whither Canada? (TW3 #414) 

Boo fucking hoo:

The person who runs Saskatoon’s “john school” is disappointed because he hasn’t had any participants since the start of this year.  Albert Brown…said that since the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the country’s anti-prostitution laws last year, his class has been empty…

Synopsis of the rest of the article: “Dirty, dirty, filthy, diseased whores!”

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We call on the Government of Canada to join with global leaders, community, researchers and legal experts in rejecting criminalization regimes, including those that criminalize the purchase of sexual services, and instead support the decriminalization of sex work…as scientifically-grounded and necessary to ensuring the safety, health, and human rights of sex workers.  -  The Gender & Sexual Health Initiative

Maggie in the Media

Here’s an interview with me on the Euvoluntary Exchange podcast, and a guest column I did for Radley Balko’s blog at the Washington Post.

Do As I Say, Not As I Do Steve Smith

The Robbinsdale [Minnesota] police chief resigned from his position…after…he was arrested in a prostitution sting…ten people were arrested…including…Steven Smith…

The Scarlet Letter

Richmond, California’s…police department…plans to…post…photos of men arrested in prostitution stings to Facebook and Twitter…even though these men might not ever be convicted of any crime…

And Speaking of Victim Blaming…

It’s blessedly absent from this story:

Two…thugs bound and gagged a prostitute after robbing her — thinking that she wouldn’t call the police.  Jason Barton…and John Coulter…were joined by David Coulter from Northern Ireland, in a sickening attack on the 27-year-old Polish woman…[who] was found in her flat after her muffled cries for help were heard.  She pleaded with the tower block caretaker not to call the police but he ignored her protests…the vile trio…[was] found guilty… Book of Legendary Lands

Presents, Presents, Presents!

This week I received Playing the Whore and The Book of Legendary Lands from Korhomme and The Pink Panther Classic Cartoon Collection from Gumdeo.  Thank you both so much!

The Sky is Falling!

The arrival of…Seeking Arrangement…has caused…consternation in France…40,000 French “sugar babies” have already signed up…“Seeking Arrangement takes advantage of the financial misery of students.  The site hides violence against women in beautiful wrapping paper,” said Anne-Cecile Mailfert…[of] Osez le Feminisme…“We hope lawmakers will [ban] websites when they…adopt…the law criminalizing the purchasing of sex”…

Thou Shalt Not

Because prohibition always works so well:

Leading doctors have called for a ban on cigarette sales to those born after 2000 in a programme of “progressive prohibition”…They urged the British Medical Association to lobby for a complete ban on the sale of cigarettes to anyone born in this century…

Above the Law 

Maryland Transit Administration Officer Martez Johnson…[gave a woman] a ride…after an MTA bus hit her car about 3 a.m. March 13…Martez walked the woman to the front door of her home…[then] forced his way inside…pushed her onto her couch and raped her…After he left, she called 911…Earlier this week, a Baltimore City police officer was charged…[with buying sex from] a 14-year-old girl advertising prostitution services online…

Finding What Isn’t There

In science, theories change to fit facts.  In politics, facts change to fit beliefs:

…a law designed to catch human traffickers…has netted few charges and even fewer convictions in Canada, anti-trafficking advocates complain.  There have been [only] 35…convictions since new laws…came into effect in 2005…MP Joy Smith…says more charges and convictions [must be created]…Jennifer Mann, a…Crown attorney, said…it’s…under-reported…But…John Ferguson, a retired RCMP superintendent, says the lack of convictions…may indicate that it is not that widespread…

Only one man is willing to accept that women have agency; all the women interviewed insist that childlike women are “controlled” by evil men.

An Example To the West (TW3 #39) Rajib Boy

The impoverished son of a sex worker in Calcutta…has been selected to participate in a Manchester United soccer training camp…Rajib Boy, 16…will head to the U.K. in April…amid hopes that the sport will liberate them both from poverty…”I am not ashamed of being a sex worker’s son…She is my main source of inspiration.  But I want to take her out of the red-light district as early as possible”…

Buried Truth

[Illinois] State Rep. Keith Farnham stepped down…after Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents raided his home and his state office [for child porn]…Farnham…has…co-sponsored two laws cracking down child pornography [including] one…stiffening penalties for its possession…

Prudish Pedants (TW3 #133)

A federal appeals court…upheld the convictions of…fetish filmmaker…Ira Isaacs…A three-judge panel of the…9th Circuit Court of Appeals…rejected Isaacs’ arguments that the lower court…abused its discretion by excluding [his] proposed expert testimony.  Defense attorney Roger Jon Diamond said he would discuss with Isaacs whether to file a petition for rehearing before the full 11-judge appeals panel…

The Proper Study (TW3 #319)

Porn Studies has released its first issue:

…In the introduction…editors-in-chief – Feona Attwood…and Clarissa Smith…write:  “Recent years have seen a resurgence of public discussions (and scares) about…pornography-related topics, perhaps most notably the expansions of pornography across the internet, its putative links to rape and sexual violence, and erotic life-styling or the oft-cited ‘sexualisation of culture’”…

Predictably, Gail Dines used the occasion to bark at the moon.

FearusOscillation (TW3 #321)

You’ve probably seen this image floating around the internet, and since it contains the address of a long-abandoned website someone bought that domain in order to debunk the image.  The nutshell version: in the original 1979 survey, students were given a five-point range from “always” to “never”, and this chart counts all responses except “never” as a “yes” response.  It certainly changes one’s impression to know that the “yes” percentages are actually four different gradations of agreement added together, doesn’t it?

Unmentionables

Chase Paymentech…told Lovability founder Tiffany Gaines…that the company considers it a “reputational risk” to handle online payments for condoms, which it classifies as an “adult-oriented product”…Gaines…created Lovability with the goal of making it less awkward for women to buy condoms

Micromanagement

Dr. Feelsad wants DNA surveillance of sex workers because of his sadfeelz:

…DNA…can be a powerful tool in combating human trafficking, according to forensic scientist Timothy Palmbach…[who] set out…to…develop…a DNA database of victims and at-risk persons…Palmbach ventured to a number of places, including Costa Rica, Nepal and Djibouti to see if he could successfully identify and obtain DNA samples from victims and possible perpetrators…in Costa Rica…police asked for help investigating a hotel known for sex tourism… he eventually found himself alone with a 14-year-old girl…[who would have charged him] $400 an hour…Palmbach [said] “I really almost started to cry…I just saw the depravity of the situation and how much it’s all driven by money and demand”…

O, Canada! (TW3 #405)

More harassment of legal sex workers in Canada:

…CEASE, the Centre to End All Sexual Exploitation…[is harassing sex workers with offensive] texts…Any sex worker with a phone number listed in the Edmonton…Backpage.com has likely received one of [the]…messages…Project Backpage [is] a new collaboration between the University of Alberta, Chrysalis Network…and CEASE…Because the sex industry has mostly moved from the streets to the Internet, [rescue industry] groups are finding it more difficult to [annoy] women…Susan Davis…[of] the West Coast Cooperative of Sex Industry Professionals…takes the view that the texting tactic is a preferable alternative to police raids and sting operations, such as Operation Spotlight…

ritual shaming
Deafening Silence (TW3 #407) 

China aims to prove it can be at least as stupid and brutal as the US when it comes to destroying businesses and hurting the economy through liberal use of cops and dysphemisms:

The vice crackdown that began in Dongguan last month has resulted in the arrest of more than 850 suspects and will expand across Guangdong before it wraps up in May…the three-month campaign against the illegal sex trade has already led to the break-up of more than 60 criminal gangs…[and] cost more than 3,000 hotels, saunas and massage parlours their licences…In addition, some 854 websites and more than 96,000 public instant-messaging accounts have been closed for promoting sex services online…

Imaginary Crises (TW3 #410)

Articles like this give me hope that we’ll eventually start seeing similar ones about “sex trafficking” hysteria:

The nation’s largest and most influential anti-sexual-violence organization is rejecting the idea that culture — as opposed to the actions of individuals — is responsible for rape…Recently, rape-culture theory has migrated from the lonely corners of the feminist blogosphere into the mainstream.  In January, the White House  asserted that we need to combat campus rape by “[changing] a culture of passivity and tolerance in this country, which too often allows this type of violence to persist.”  Tolerance for rape?  Rape is a horrific crime, and rapists are despised…there’s no evidence that it’s considered a cultural norm…Rape-culture theory is doing little to help victims, but its power to poison the minds of young women and lead to hostile environments for innocent males is immense…But now…RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network)…repudiates the rhetoric…and…is especially critical of the idea that we need to focus on teaching men not to rape…

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #410)

A poll…shows that over half the population of the UK is opposed to the criminalisation of prostitution.  Only three in ten nationwide were in favour.  In London it was only one in four…The exact wording for the poll was:  Currently in the UK under certain circumstances, it is legal for men and women to pay for sex.  There are some people that wish to make it illegal for the user to pay for sex.  Do you think such a criminalisation is a good idea or not?…51% agreed that “No, paying for sex should not be criminalized.”  31% agreed that “Yes, it should be illegal to pay for sex.”  The other 18% had no opinion.  There was little difference between the sexes with 53% of men and 49% of women opposing criminalisation.  Under a third of both sexes were in favour…

To Protect and Serve (TW3 #411)

25 exotic dancers filed suit against the [San Diego Police] Department for violating their civil rights…during a routine permit inspection…10 unidentified officers detained the dancers under no stated suspicion and began photographing…[them] against their will for roughly one hour…

Whither Canada? Joy Smith

It’s good to see real information in the public discussion of sex work in Canada:

The Conservatives say they are listening to all the submissions they receive before they draw up Canada’s new prostitution law…But the…government [is using] a report by Conservative MP Joy Smith, titled The Tipping Point, as the intellectual underpinning for…the so-called Nordic model…The problem is much of the research cited in The Tipping Point is highly selective — ignoring truths that are inconvenient or cast the Swedish model in a poor light…The…report contends that countries like New Zealand that have decriminalized…have seen a dramatic increase in sexual exploitation and violence.  But anyone who reads the Prostitution Law Review Committee report assessing New Zealand’s legislation comes away with a very different impression…

And here’s one from the Ottawa Citizen:

…In Canada, we’ve been sold a false dilemma that presents only the possibility of a “Nordic”…regime or…“Dutch” approach…But Canadian sex workers…know that New Zealand’s model…merits much closer consideration…Sex workers in New Zealand are now covered by labour laws…the Prostitution Reform Act has not resulted in any growth of the sex industry or increase in number of sex workers, nor has the sky fallen.  The Prostitution Law Review Committee…found that there has been a marked improvement in employment conditions and a decrease in violence…

And an open letter signed by 300 academics:

We…are profoundly concerned that the Government…is considering …new legislation to criminalize the purchasing of sex.  The proposed legislation is not scientifically grounded and evidence strongly suggests that it would recreate the same…harms of current criminalization.  We join other sex worker, research, and legal experts across the country and urge the Government of Canada to follow the Supreme Court…decision and support decriminalization of sex work as a critical evidence-based approach to ensuring the safety, health, and human rights of sex workers…

Surplus Women (TW3 #412)

What if…Orange County [California is] dealing with a serial killer preying on prostitutes?…Orange County…formed a multi-agency task force when homeless men were being fatally stabbed over a few months…but [are] not doing so now when the victims [are] female prostitutes…Are cops making a judgment call on which type of victims are worthy of their attention?  Anaheim Police Lt. Tim Schmidt…[says] “We don’t have the evidence to say they’re connected”…of the cases involving missing persons Kianna Jackson, Josephine Vargas…Martha Anaya…Tina Hoang and Jarrae Estepp…[rescue industry figure] Lois Lee…of Children of the Night…[says] “It’s just a high-risk job”…

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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on January 19th; I have modified it slightly for time references and to fit the format of this blog.

Idealized Portrait of a Courtesan as Flora by Bartolomeo Veneto (1520)For most of human history, nobody thought of taking money for sex as a defining activity.  This is not to say that there were no whores, because of course there were; it isn’t called “the world’s oldest profession” for nothing.  But it wasn’t the fact that a woman took money for sex which defined her as a whore, but rather the fact that she made a living from it.  As I wrote in my Cato Unbound essay, “Treating Sex Work as Work”,

…It was almost universally understood that many working-class women and a not-inconsiderable number of those in higher classes would accept money for sex, at least on occasion, and it was impossible to draw a bright, clear line between behaviors that constituted “prostitution” and those (such as concubinage, mistresshood, and political marriage) which did not despite their often-mercenary basis.  The manifold laws regulating sex work were not intended to preclude pragmatic motivations for sexual behavior, but rather to keep up appearances, guard the purity of bloodlines, and maintain public order.  But as the Victorian Era dawned, a new idea began to take hold of European minds: if science could perfect Man’s tools and techniques, why couldn’t the same process be applied to Mankind itself?  The immediate result of turning (pseudo-)scientific inquiry upon sex was that taking money for it was no longer considered merely something that “unladylike” or “sinful” women did for a living or extra income; instead, the “prostitute” was defined into existence as a specific type of woman, separate and distinct from other women.

Prior to the 19th century, any sexual behavior outside of marriage was considered “sinful”, regardless of its motive, but there were also class considerations; sexual “immorality” was both expected and assumed of working-class women, and whether a girl occasionally asked for money or not could make little difference in the way she was perceived by her so-called “betters”.  This is why it was not unusual in pre-industrial cultures for a disgraced upper-class woman to turn to sex work; once she had fallen from her elevated station, taking money for sex did no more harm.  But once the idea of “prostitution” as some uniquely disgraceful activity was invented, and the “prostitute” was defined as the lowest of the low, it was inevitable that women who would previously have been considered more or less the same as whores would attempt to draw lines between themselves and the new pariah class.  And once governments began to criminalize prostitution or activities around it as a result of the new ideas, distinguishing oneself from a “common prostitute” became a matter not only of dignity, but practical necessity.

The first group to successfully shed the whore stigma was actresses, who had since classical times been considered interchangeable with harlots; after the dawn of cinema they actually moved into a de facto higher social class, especially in the United States.  Dancers whose style could be credibly represented as asexual or highbrow (preferably both) followed them, then masseuses and women who had extramarital sex for non-financial reasons.  In the past several decades, the number of such groups has exploded and now includes many whose claim to being different from sex workers is threadbare indeed; burlesque dancers, competition pole dancers, glamour and lingerie models, professional “cuddlers”, nude maids, waitresses catering to sexual fantasies  and even sugar babies insist that they are different from strippers, hookers and fetish workers in some real (and legally defensible) way.  Even people who are directly paid for a hands-on sexual service claim that being “certified” or “spiritual” or whatever makes them not sex workers, and some who cannot possibly deny that they are still pretend to be “better” than other sex workers because they are “legal”, or because they don’t have direct intercourse and parrot “trafficking” propaganda to kiss up to cops.  But this example from the January 15th Guardian takes the biscuit:  “As a professional dominatrix, I…[know] sex is a human need, and kink can be a meaningful part of the sexual spectrum.  We sex workers turn the erotic into a humane and powerful art.  [But] too many of us, particularly escorts, are miserable slaves, and we must fight tirelessly for their freedom…Mudflap Girl Tesselation  Way to go there, Margaret Corvid; boost yourself up on the backs of all us pathetic, dirty escorts…oh, excuse me, “miserable slaves”.  Because only wonderful, superior dominatrices can choose freely, while those of us who prefer to sell more mundane sexual services are clearly dysfunctional.  In my essay “Whorearchy” I wrote,

…a whore is a whore is a whore, and legal, moral or procedural lines serve only to break people into smaller groups which are more easily dominated by the power-hungry.  If you accept money from someone that he gives due to sexual interest in you, then you are a whore and everything else is just semantics.  When politicians, pundits or rulers use some arbitrary determinant like penetration, duration, location or motivation to bless some harlots while damning others, what they’re actually doing is reducing the size of the group who might oppose them and winning supporters from among those granted legitimacy.  This is why I’m harshly unsympathetic to those who vehemently maintain that their species of sex work or sensual therapy is absolutely not prostitution:  all they’re doing is throwing other women under the bus, and if we had all stuck together from the beginning of second-wave feminism…prostitution would’ve been decriminalized long ago and many women who are now dead or damaged might still be alive and healthy…

As I’ve pointed out before, gay people only won their civil rights by forming a coalition, and until sex workers stop drawing arbitrary lines between each other and accepting the lies and false divisions promoted by those in power, we will never have the same kind of success.

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What these girls don’t realize is that they are victims.  I don’t understand why anyone would choose to do this.  -  Lea Benson

Rough Trade

China moves ahead of the US in this area of human rights:  “…a court [sentenced]…Li Tianyi, the 17-year-old son of prominent entertainers in the military, to 10 years in prison for gang rape, with four others…the…court…ruled that even if a woman is a sex worker…that doesn’t mean it’s O.K. to rape her…

It’s a Start (April Updates)

former New Orleans police officer [Thomas McMasters], who was fired in 2011 for falsely arresting a woman on prostitution charges, was reinstated…with full back pay…[because] the NOPD…took too long to conduct its internal review…

Presents, Presents, Presents!Courtesans of the Italian Renaissance

I received no fewer than five birthday presents this week!  Ted sent I ♥ Sex Workers, Eddiejc1 sent And Then There Were None and Ada, Leonard Fahrni sent Big Sister, and Krulac sent  Courtesans of the Italian Renaissance.  Thank you all so very much; y’all may not really understand how much it means to me to be so appreciated for what I do that y’all want to send me these gifts.

The Sky is Falling!

The app is just a short-term sugar arrangement, but the anonymous (though clearly female) writer just can’t stand that some women are more interested in profit than “romance”:

If you can’t get a date through any socially acceptable means…apparently you should resort to bribery…[via] Carrot Dating.  Creator Brandon Wade…of…SeekingArrangement.com, seems to believe that all it takes to get women interested in a guy is a “gift”…[such as] a tank of gas or a plastic surgery procedure…

Above the Law

drunken sheriff’s deputy [Paul Derrick] was recorded…when he tried to arrest…female [Marine Brittany Ball] at a…[South Carolina] restaurant…because she…turned down his advances…He…[screamed] at her and [barked] orders as he twisted her arms behind her back…When a few men approached…he threatened to arrest them…Sheriff Leon Lott initially backed Derrick…suggesting that Ball was “resisting”…[but] after a week of pressure…[he] placed Derrick on leave without pay…

And if they had been in a less-public place, it might have gone like this:

A…Houston police officer…pleaded guilty [to rape]…in exchange for [only] 10 years in prison.  Adan Carranza…responded to a fender bender…handcuffed one of the drivers and put her in the back of his patrol car…waited for the other drivers to leave…[then] raped her in the backseat…and…took her to jail for reckless driving…DNA and video evidence confirmed the woman’s story…he…will…have to register as a sex offender for…20 years [after release]…

An Example To the West (TW3 #24)Hit & Run cover

in…response [to the American TIP report]…Thai law enforcement authorities are…pulling sex workers out of brothels, [though] there is little evidence to suggest that [they]…are actually victims of trafficking.  In 2012…police investigated three times as many cases of sex trafficking as the year before but that lead to only a couple of arrests…the largest organisation for sex workers in Thailand called for a stop to the “rescues” of prostitutes in Bangkok, arguing that many of them…choose to work in a profession which pays them more than the bare minimum…

Damned If You Don’t

Charles Samuel Couch says that he was wrongly ensnared in a Manhattan Beach [California] sex sting at a public bathroom…and he’s suing the city, the police chief, and 16 other cops…he was…chaperoning a boy…[when] an undercover detective…entered a stall next to the kid’s…[he] bolted…[saying] “There is a man looking at me in the stall”…The two fled, but…Couch was “tackled, choked and handcuffed”…interrogated for “several hours,” his car was ransacked…and the [boy's] parents…who vouched for Couch, were called…Detectives also took Couch’s laptop…and kept it for more than a month…[claiming it] had been used “as the means of committing a felony”…the Daily Breeze  published Couch’s photo as one of “18 arrested in sex sting”…

Think of the Children! (TW3 #40)

Sex rays are also dangerous to plants and wildlife!

…Fuck for Forest…makes porn…to raise money for conservation efforts…Unfortunately, they have trouble giving away their sex-tainted cash…co-founder Leona Johansson [said]…“Many NGOs are afraid of us.”  The World Wildlife Fund told them that it would take their money, but wouldn’t allow any official connection between the two organizations because “we cannot be linked to certain types of industry.”  And the Norwegian Rainforest Foundation refused their donation outright.  “I cannot see that this helps the work for the rain forest,” the foundation’s director told a Norwegian TV station…

Presumably grants funded via government violence help the work for the rain forest in a way voluntary transactions can’t.

Standard Operating Procedure

US Navy Commander Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz and Naval Criminal Investigative Service…Agent John Bertrand Beliveau II…are accused of accepting bribes from…Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine Asia Ltd. in exchange for preferential treatment regarding contracts, as well as for tipping the company off to federal fraud investigations…Misiewicz was reportedly gifted with all-expense paid trips for him and his family, prostitutes, cash, luxury hotel rooms, and tickets to shows…

My First Million

I reached a total of two million page views just before midnight on Wednesday.  Thanks so much to all the readers who have helped make this blog a success! two million

Little Boxes (TW3 #45)

Businesses that allow patrons to pay to be cuddled are springing up everywhere.  One…is The Snuggery in…New York…no sexual contact of any kind is allowed…An establishment with a similar business model in Madison, Wisconsin, may never get the chance to cuddle anyone, as city officials are worried that the Snuggle House will end up being a front for a brothel…

But that’s nothing compared to this one:

Barton Jason Lewis Bagnes is asking the Utah Supreme Court to throw out his lewdness convictions, arguing that he did nothing sexual…He was sucking on a candy pacifier and throwing fliers folded into paper airplanes onto lawns when two 8-year-old girls approached him…Bagnes’ trousers were low enough to display a diaper with the Elmo…character…[and] he pulled down his pants to show them the diaper…the fliers that landed in people’s yards showed children of various ages in diapers, some posed provocatively.  Two web addresses were scrawled on the flier, promoting sites that showed sexually explicit images of children in sheer underwear…Bagnes’ history of diaper-flashing goes back to 1999, when he first was convicted of lewdness and was placed on the state sex offender registry…Bagnes has claimed he wore diapers because of urinary incontinence and displayed them to children to spread awareness of the medical problem…

Traffic Jam (TW3 #49)

Mike Ware of Fort Worth and Keith Hampton of Austin, filed writs of habeas corpus requesting the release from prison of Elizabeth Ramirez, Cassandra Rivera, Kristie Mayhugh, and Anna Vasquez, who have become known as the “San Antonio Four”…the [National Center for Reason and Justice and the] Innocence Project of Texas and asserts that all four women were wrongly convicted…and that new evidence establishes their complete innocence…The only evidence…against them was the [coerced] testimony of the two children…and medical evidence that is now known to be faulty.  The trial was also severely tainted by homophobia…

The Scarlet Letter (TW3 #52)Exposing Johns

Tizzy Wall on another horrible member of the same degenerate clan as mugshot and revenge porn sites:

ExposingJohns.com…[collects] information by creating fake ads on private entertainment advertising platforms and then [exposes] the folks who unknowingly contact them…For a mere $195.97, they will “investigate the claims” to delete the profile of an “exposed john” within two weeks, and expedited services carry an even heftier price tag, costing up to nearly $500 for a “premium 24 hour investigation”…

Due Consideration

As a woman who miscarried at 22 weeks, stories like this are especially horrifying to me:

Glenda Xiomara Cruz [of El Salvador] was crippled by abdominal pain and heavy bleeding in the early hours of 30 October 2012.  The 19-year-old…went to the nearest public hospital where doctors said she had lost her baby.  It was the first she knew about the pregnancy as her menstrual cycle was unbroken, her weight practically unchanged, and a pregnancy test in May…had been negative.  Four days later she was charged with aggravated murder …at a court hearing she was too sick to attend.  The hospital had reported her to the police for a suspected abortion…last month she was sentenced to 10 years in jail…

Libertarianism Happens To People

Wisconsin…state Rep. John Nygren…is sponsoring [two] bills aimed at…minimizing the damage from heroin overdoses…The first would offer limited immunity for people who call 911 or bring overdose patients to an emergency room…The other would expand those with access to Narcan, a medication that reverses the effects of an overdose.  Nygren is sponsoring these laws after confronting his daughter’s heroin habit, and her near fatal overdose in 2009…

Where Are the Protests? (TW3 #319)

Notice what word isn’t used:

The Swedish sports world has been rocked by a migrant labour scandal whereby sports clubs duped migration authorities with sham contracts for foreign players…non-EU employees…must earn a minimum of 14,300 kronor ($2,200) a month, but [one revealed]…she had been paid about 5,000 kronor a month…[and another] no more than 2,400 kronor…

Lower EducationBlurred Lines

The student unions at the universities of Nottingham and Birmingham have become the latest to ban the pop song “Blurred Lines” from their respective campuses…Essex University’s student union became the twentieth to ban the sale of the Sun and the Daily Star…Greg Lukianoff…of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE)…[said] “UK student unions…think of themselves as…very progressive…But they are echoing…the old Victorian censors…campaigners in both eras share this idea that there are certain moral ends which are so much more important than someone’s measly right to freedom of speech.  This…leads to people wanting to blot out normal aspects of everyday life: sexuality, sexual expression, speech that might be offensive to women…”

Traffic Jam (TW3 #321)

Project ROSE Prostitution Diversion Initiative…was [protested] by a group of sex workers and allies that refer to themselves as the Phoenix Sex Worker Organizing Project [sic]…Phoenix police and students from the ASU School of Social Work team up twice a year to arrest local sex workers and [force] them [to] choose between a six month diversion program or criminal charges.  According to…SWOP…diversion programs…”ignore the fact that many people who work in the sex industry are not victims in need of rescue, but consenting adults who should not be arrested, coerced into diversion, or incarcerated for working”…

Project ROSE’s awfulness also inspired an editorial in Affilia:

Stephanie Wahab and Meg Panichelli provide a succinct analysis of the ethical considerations associated with diversion programs that arrest people…to force them to accept services…“targeting people for arrest under the guise of helping them violates numerous ethical standards as well as the humanity of people engaged in the sex industry”…Project ROSE is found to violate…the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Code of Ethics, the Council on Social Work Education Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards, and the International Federation of Social Work Ethical Principles.  Informed consent…is violated because the services…rely on recruitment via “massive police…sting operations…social work…should not be in the business of arresting people for their own good.”

Across the Pond (TW3 #333)

Remember “…officials are putting together ‘exit’ services to help the dozens of sex workers who face having their place of work closed down”?  Clueless lawheads imagined closing the saunas would force those dirty whores to get “clean” menial jobs, but here’s what is actually happening:  “Hundreds of Edinburgh sex workers have signed up to an [escort advertising] site – convinced they will be forced out of their…jobs…Six saunas are expected to be permanently closed…

Real People (TW3 #337)

Tizzy Wall interviews Siouxsie Q on a number of subjects, but the most interesting part to me is her commentary on actors’ inane pretenseDear John Letter that they’re better than whores when “HELLO? WE ARE OF THE SAME CLAN!!!”

Social Autoimmune Disorder
(TW3 #342)

In the US, new tools of tyranny always spread like a social disease:  “…[Oakland, California] has been mailing letters to men suspected of cruising for prostitutes…The…letters avoid accusations, simply saying their vehicle was spotted in a high-risk neighborhood….Los Angeles may try the same tactic…Sanford, Florida started a letter campaign, but…will include photos of…license plates…

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Soon after the publication of September’s guest column, blogger and regular reader Sasha Castel suggested that I do an essay on my beauty hints.  But as I told her, that wouldn’t be much of a column because I honestly don’t have any other than “be scrupulously clean, wear your hair in an attractive style and pick clothes that flatter your figure and express your own personal style.”  I know I’m very lucky in this respect, but I have excellent natural color so I don’t really require makeup unless I’m really dressing up; when I was working I never wore it unless the client was taking me out.  And my hair…well, let’s just say it does what it likes anyhow and I’ve learned to live with that over the past 30 years.  However, I suggested that SHE could write a beauty hints guest column…only she’s never been an escort, though she has been a mistress.  Is that a kind of sex worker?  Some say yes, some emphatically say no, and once again we see the absurdity of trying to draw arbitrary lines between natural female behaviors.  Here’s her essay on how to be a good mistress…which not only serves as a worthy sequel to “Keep Doing What You’re Doing“, but also provides excellent advice for a courtesan, an escort with a treasured regular, or even (to a large degree) a wife whose husband fully supports her as mine does.  So…what’s the real, substantive difference between these roles again?  Why are some legal and some illegal?  And how can any rational adult pretend that one is commendable, another is tolerable but the other constitutes “enslavement” or “crime”?

Top Hats by Erte (1975)I didn’t set out to become a mistress. I met the man in question (I’ll call him Carlos) in the course of my job.  He was well-known, one of the most recognized and praised opera singers in the world.  We spoke, liked each other, and went out to dinner.  Shortly thereafter, we went to bed, and I became “The Other Woman”.  I didn’t want to marry Carlos, just enjoy his company while he was in town.  He favored me with meals, drinks, occasional gifts, and most importantly, knowledge and wisdom.  I learned a great deal about the music business from him, which served me well in my career.  I also learned about being a mistress.  Unfortunately, I can’t give advice on how to find a man (on both occasions that I’ve been a mistress, it just happened), although it behooves you to appear nicely dressed and groomed if you’re in the market.  But if you do become someone’s mistress, here are seven guidelines that will make the affair a good one, for you and for him.

1. Be available.

If he calls you, go to him.  In this situation, your needs are subordinate to his.  What a terribly retrograde statement, but true.  He is providing the material goods while you are providing the companionship; you can’t do that from a distance.  Be with him as often as he wants you to be; if this doesn’t sit well with you, reconsider your position.  If it’s a position of equality you want, become someone’s girlfriend rather than a mistress.

2. Be discreet.

Resist the temptation to blab to friends about your hot and powerful new lover.  You don’t want to become the object of gossip, and you don’t want to cause problems with his marriage.  Use a pseudonym when referring to your dates, and also when storing his number in your mobile phone.  Avoid being photographed together.  If you wear perfume, apply it with discretion or forego it altogether to avoid olfactory traces left behind.  Be certain that all the jewelry and accessories you arrived with are with you as you leave.  If you attend events together, and someone introduces you as “Mrs. Carlos”, don’t contradict, just smile and say “how do you do”.

3. Be safe.

Birth control is mandatory, obviously.  The Pill or other hormonal methods are best.  If you need to take other drugs while on the Pill (especially antibiotics) be aware that they reduce the Pill’s effectiveness, sometimes to catastrophic effect.  Make certain you have a clean bill of sexual health before commencing sex; you don’t want to give him (or his wife) an STI.  If you are having other sexual relationships at the same time (not recommended), be sure to use a condom, correctly and regularly, to prevent disease transmission.  Understand that some STIs like herpes and HPV can still be transmitted through genital contact without penetration.

4. Be fun.

Get into his interests, or take up one of his hobbies, so you can have dates without necessarily involving sex.  He’ll be pleased at your enthusiasm, and it takes away some of the pressure on him to perform like a sexual Superman at every encounter. 

5. Be caring.

If he doesn’t want to go out, stay in.  If he’s sick, take care of him.  If he’s craving a food, cook it for him.  And above all, LISTEN.  I think that just as much as sex, what I provided for Carlos was a sympathetic ear to unburden himself.  I listened.  In fact, if I were to name the number-one most important quality in a mistress, it would be the ability to listen.  Listen to your man, try and understand his problems, offer solutions if they occur to you, but mostly just allow him to speak his mind in a way that he can’t do with his wife.  Your empathy and perspective will be as valuable to him as your sexual talents, perhaps more.

6. Be sexy.Coquette by Erte (1981)

Of course, this is the crux of the matter.  If he wants to play, do it.  He may have secret kinks he’s not comfortable sharing with his wife; indulge them.  Does he want to role-play?  Tie you up?  Have a threesome?  Be spanked?  If it can be done safely and doesn’t repulse you or harm you, make his fantasies come true.  Naturally, the usual rules of sex play apply:  sane, safe and consensual.  The only fantasy I’d hesitate to enact is any sort of public sex fetish, for purely practical reasons; exposure is not at all sexy.

7. Be realistic.

When it’s over, it’s over.  Don’t try to hang on past the affair’s natural life.  Enjoy what you had and move on.  For the love of all that’s holy, don’t threaten him with exposure if he doesn’t continue seeing you.  That’s psycho behavior, and it won’t make him like you:  it will have quite the opposite effect.  Keep the memories happy, and let him smile privately whenever he thinks of you.

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Fuck you, Gawker and your puritanical bullshit.  -  Lynsie Lee

A Tale That Grew in the Telling

If you think 100,000 “child sex slaves” in the US is ridiculous, how about in a country with ¼ the population?  “There are over 100,000 women working as sex slaves in Turkey, of which half are children, a non-governmental organization has revealed…”  This is supposedly an “estimate” of the number of streetwalkers (compare with 70,000 in the US), all of whom are said to be “victims of the ‘prostitution mafia’.”

Elephant in the Parlor

Benny Johnson from BuzzFeed…messaged me, asking…about…an innocent yet charming flirtation I had…with…mayor [Cory Booker] at the beginning of the year… the [resulting]…article…was cute and, to me, satirical…[then] calls and emails start pouring in from reporters.  It was surreal.  How could something so simple be seen as a scandal?  Oh wait, I’m a stripper and nude model (how dare someone flirt with my kind!)…Gawker released a story…[implying] that…anybody I associate with is a bad person, especially men…strippers, or anyone in the adult industry, are real people, with real lives and real human relationships.  What we do for income doesn’t mean we are doing those things 24 hours a day.Doctor Mordrid  Accountants don’t sit at home with calculators at the dinner table, nor do proctologists go around sticking their fingers in people’s butts at the grocery store…

Presents, Presents, Presents!

A reader called Daz sent me a DVD I’ve been curious about for some time: Doctor Mordrid starring Jeffrey Combs, which was originally meant to be an adaptation of Marvel’s supernatural superhero Doctor Strange.  Thank you, Daz!

Change a Few Words

The Silk Road, a Web based black market for…narcotics…and other illicit goods, has been shut down by the FBI, and its alleged mastermind, Ross William Ulbricht, has been arrested…I can’t help but conclude…that the world is actually going to be a more dangerous place in [its] absence…The FBI…[wrote] “the site has sought to make conducting illegal transactions…as easy and frictionless as shopping…at mainstream e-commerce websites”…compared to the epidemic violence that has characterized the drug trade for the entirety of the War on Drugs…that…[seems] like a relative utopia…[and] successor sites…are…already up and running

The Profumo Affair

Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies, the friends who became household names when the Profumo affair was exposed in 1963, are no longer even on speaking terms…[and have] not seen [one another] for three decades…Rice-Davies has leant her support to Lloyd Webber in the making of Stephen Ward, a stage show about the society osteopath who also played a pivotal role in the scandal…

First They Came for the Hookers…

Politicians want to protect the “good” women of Saskatoon from sex rays:

A new…proposal would isolate…strip clubs in industrial areas…City administration is recommending a 160-metre separation for adult entertainment venues from residential neighbourhoods, schools, parks, childcare centres, preschools…recreational facilities…[and] other adult entertainment venues…”You don’t [get] more street crime because of strip clubs,” said Mariana Valvarde, a professor of criminology at the University of Toronto…”It’s a myth”…Saskatoon’s proposed bylaw would [also] require [strippers] to be licensed…

But wait, it gets even stupider:

…Saskatchewan…does NOT allow nudity in a business that serves alcohol…[and] this is NOT changing…[the government’s own website states] “full frontal nudity will continue to be prohibited”…[only] wet t-shirt contests and striptease without nudity will be allowed…[but] the public AND the media…are reacting as though the opposite is the case…

Coming Out

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #26)

Another way the Swedish model harms sex workers:

A plan to protect Oslo prostitutes…has been dropped after [officials] ruled it would violate people’s privacy…Bjørg Norli, director of Prosentret, said…”The problem is that buying sex in Norway is illegal.  We would have been keeping a register of criminals, which the police would have been able to demand access to”…

Whatever They Need To Say

It isn’t only in Bangladesh that whores are evicted so fascists can profit:

…Sex workers from three flats in Soho were evicted…after police issued enforcement notices on landlords warning they could be prosecuted if they were found to be allowing “immoral activities”…On [October 9th] sex workers and activists…gathered outside the offices of Soho Estates, one of the main property owners in the area, and called for them to “stand up” to police.  “Soho has always been one of the safest places in the country for women to work”…said Niki Adams from the English Collective of Prostitutes…Members of the local Soho Society said the character of Soho was under threat from developers…Blue is the Warmest Colour

The Notorious Badge (TW3 #32)

I’ve got news for you, Léa

When it awarded the Palme d’Or to Blue Is the Warmest Colour, the Cannes Film Festival jury took the unusual step of sharing the prize between its director Abdellatif Kechiche, and its two principal actresses Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos…but…the actresses were apparently unhappy with the director’s methods…Seydoux [said] “We had fake pussies on…I don’t make love on screen…it was kind of humiliating sometimes, I was feeling like a prostitute”…

Due Consideration

Alicia Beltran found herself handcuffed, shackled…and detained in an inpatient drug treatment facility for being honest about a medical history that included past dependency on prescription painkillers. The State of Wisconsin provided an attorney for her fetus, but not for her.  Without evidence of harm to either herself or the fetus, Alicia was made a ward of the state, all her rights and liberties suspended – including her right to have an abortion if that had been what she wanted…

Peeping Toms (TW3 #311)

The Supreme Court won’t hear an appeal of a lower court ruling striking down Virginia’s anti-sodomy law…Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli…responded…[by] alleging that ‘nearly 90 sexual predators’ could be dropped from a registry of sex offenders…”  Too bad it isn’t more.

Dr. Schrödinger and His Amazing Pussycat (TW3 #312)

Jean-Baptiste de LamarckJean-Baptiste Lamarck was an 18th-century biologist who believed that characteristics acquired within an individual creature’s lifetime could be passed to its descendants; this was among the first steps toward evolutionary theory, but was disproved about a century ago.  However, certain political cults (such as Soviet communism) still clung to it long afterward as a pseudoscientific means of supporting their beliefs, and apparently Swedish state neofeminism is among them:

Around the world, women are on average shorter than men.  Purely biological evidence suggests that it should be the opposite…if women generally were larger risks associated with childbirth would…decrease…New theories suggest that the imbalance of power and discrimination underlie the size differences…we unconsciously give boys more food than girls, making the size difference between the sexes…persist over generations…

If this were true, the size difference would have vanished by the late 20th century in Western countries, where food has not generally been scarce in generations.  But it must please neofeminists tremendously to believe that if not for “Patriarchy”, women would be bigger and stronger than men.

The End of the Beginning

As…governments have imposed…restrictions on where sex offenders can live or even set foot, members of this highly stigmatized group…have formed associations…to [argue]…that indiscriminate laws…are unconstitutional and ineffective…“I find it very offensive that…sex offenders are trying to defeat the measures we have put in place to protect children,” said Nina Salarno Ashford …with Crime Victims United.  “They created their own issues…somebody was assaulted, in many cases a child”…[prosecutor] Susan Kang Schroeder…[said] “The pro-sex-offender lobby likes to bandy about percentages, as if even 1 percent is acceptable”…

The dysphemisms and lies should seem familiar.  Crime Victims United are vengeful badge-lickers who support mass incarceration and the abrogation of rights of the accused; the pretense that public urination, prostitution and sex while teenage are forms of “assault” is typical for them, as is pretending most “victims” are children.  And branding those fighting for human rights “The pro-sex offender lobby” is right out of the prohibitionist playbook.

Above the Law (TW3 #325)

new studies confirm previous findings that most of those who commit sexual abuse in detention are corrections staff, not inmates.  That is true in all types of detention facilities, but especially in juvenile facilities…[where] victims of sexual misconduct by staff members were more likely to report eleven or more instances of abuse than a single, isolated occurrence…

Ad Absurdum

Kaitlyn Hunt…entered no contest pleas to…misdemeanor battery and felony interference with child custody…[she will] remain in jail until December 20, followed by three years of felony supervision…she will not be branded a convicted felon or registered sex offender and can ask for her case to be sealed or expunged…

Matthew Lyons
Be Careful Who You Rape

And if she really had been a hooker, that would have made it OK?

…21-year-old Matthew E. Lyons approached [a] woman…[bird-watching] in a [Florida] gazebo…Lyons repeatedly complimented the woman…[when she said] she was not interested…in…sex…Lyons…threw [her] to the floor…and pulled off her shorts and underwear…[but fled after he] was unable to pull on a condom…Lyons admitted meeting with the woman but said he thought she was a prostitute…

Policing for Profit

Several communities in [Wisconsin want]…to increase the fines for…prostitution…Police are backing an ordinance that would make the fines more than $2600…Police are hopeful increasing the fine by more than 1300% will serve as a deterrent…”  Obviously, they hope nothing of the kind; it would cut into their profits.  Meanwhile, in Florida:

Police in [Sunrise]…have hit upon a surefire way to make millions.  They sell cocaine.  [Cops] and their army of informants lure big-money drug buyers…from [all over the Western Hemisphere]…then bust the buyers and seize their cash and cars…the…money…fuels huge overtime payments for the undercover officers…and cash rewards for the confidential informants…one femme fatale informant  [made] more than $800,000 over the past five years…Last year, the city raked in $2 million…the year before…twice that…

Cuckoo Advertising (Extra Edition)

Credulous reporters keep giving away ad space:

…“The World’s Largest Sugar Daddy Dating Website” says it has recorded a 50 percent jump in average daily sign-ups since the start of the government shutdown…“We usually have a lull in September and October,” Seeking Arrangement’s public relations manager Jennifer Gwynn told NPR…“Half of the new members are single moms, so we’re thinking that it’s tied directly to the government shutdown, since programs like WIC…have been stalled”…

Just Call Me Nobody

Lest you forget:  “pimp” is copese for husband, driver, landlord, roommate, service owner, bodyguard, phone operator, parent…

…Lindsey Roberson, a [North Carolina] assistant district attorney, said…if [whores] complete certain mandated steps, the charges will be dropped…they [must] accept responsibility, go through trauma counseling, a vocational assessment, and – if needed – substance abuse treatment…Thom Goolsby…said [his] new law makes North Carolina the “toughest state in the union on pimps and johns”…

So women are infantilized and brainwashed and men are “hammered”.Cathy Reisenwitz

A Procrustean Bed (TW3 #339)

Cathy Reisenwitz on New York’s “trafficking” court:

…the policy…is a paternalistic perception that strips women of agency in an attempt to protect them from their own choices. “Saving” sex workers, after arresting and arraigning them, will not accomplish the court’s goals…special courts fail to recognize the people who are not hurting themselves or anyone else, but are criminals only by law…sex workers are potentially human trafficking’s most effective foes, as they are ideally situated to identify sex slavery and alert the authorities. Or they would be if they did not risk arrest and prosecution for doing so…

Shift in the Wind (TW3 #339)

Another good article about Equality Now from Melissa Gira Grant:

It’s not something you expect to hear from a women’s rights group:  our prostitutes are better than yours.  But that’s the tone struck by Equality Now in their new campaign against United Nations recommendations that sex work be decriminalized. Claiming that the UN “ignores survivors of prostitution,” Equality Now and their allied anti-prostitution organizations have offered their own experts who have worked in the sex trade – who all also happen to agree with them that prostitution must remain illegal…despite evidence that illegality is dangerous, and despite even sex workers’ own demands.  This is why you will find a former prosecutor…now leading this ostensibly human rights campaign…

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It’s better to be shameless than the victim.  -  Gabriela Leite

Acting and Activism

Whenever Mira Sorvino feels neglected by the media, she vomits out a slew of idiotic fables for credulous reporters:  “…this has grown into a highly profitable international business that rakes in $500 billion a year.”  Yes, that’s a “B”; Mira claims “sex trafficking” brings in 25% more than the entire GDP of Sweden (even UNODC only claims $32 billion).  But to a mathematical retard who believes every single whore makes over $250,000 a year and every pimp about $1.5 million, and that there are millions of “trafficked slaves”, I guess $500 billion seems credible.

Make Up Your Damned Mind!

Another runaway clown car of unintentional hilarity:

…prostitution in Richmond [Indiana]…[is like] abandoned and unsafe housing…It’s not clear that stepped-up law enforcement can eliminate the problem…any more than it can stamp out abandoned and hazardous structures.  But what…Richmond Police Department Capt. Bill Shake does so well…is give lie to the notion…that prostitution is a “victimless” crime.  “It is a public safety disorder issue and a quality of life issue…We had three women come to us and complain that they had been approached by men seeking prostitutes.  These are just women…walking to work”…these innocent women…are victimized because their sense of security has been violated.Curly  Local businesses and homeowners…are likewise victims of the sheer brazen starkness of the problem.  But…Shake makes a victimhood case even for the [prostitutes and] Johns…“These ladies need help, and the men need intervention,” he said…

TL;DR version:  “Whoop whoop whoop whoop whoop!  Nyah nyah nyah!”

Where Are the Victims?

This guy sounds like a dangerous criminal:

A brothel manager…tried to help a worker in his massage parlour get the morning-after pill…Staff at the pharmacy called police…[because] the woman…was Romanian…No evidence of trafficking was found, but police [stole] £1,200 cash on the premises, plus another £25,000…at Jones’ home…[his lawyer] said…“The police had visited [the parlour] a number of times…and [said]…as long as there were no drugs or trafficking he would face no action”…

Unfortunately, xenophobia, hysteria and snitching are not crimes.

License To Rape (June Updates)

A woman who…was sexually assaulted by…San Diego Police Officer Anthony Arevalos…settled a lawsuit against the city…for $795,000…Arevalos…was convicted of sexual battery and…in February 2012 was sentenced to almost nine years…the city has paid out $2.3 million in claims [altogether] from Arevalos’ misconduct.  One more case is still pending…[several of the cases alleged] that a culture of covering up officer misconduct permeates the department and allowed Arevalos to harass women for years…

The Eye of the Beholder (June Updates)

The UK's most prohibitionist paper in a rare moment of lucidity

The UK’s most prohibitionist paper in a rare moment of lucidity

Lawheads will be lawheads:

…a 28-year-old man and a 21-year-old woman [were] arrested for [consensual, noncommercial] sex…Kelcey Nicholas…married [Lataura] Jarrett’s mother…when police [broke into] Nicholas’s house…to bust him on another charge, they…found [him having sex]…with Jarrett.  The two share no genetic…relation, nor did Nicholas ever legally adopt Jarrett.  But…the law in West Virginia defines stepdaughters as daughters…[they were] charged with…incest, a felony…[threatening 15 years in] prison…

Perquisites

Big businesses woo valuable employees with (halfway) whores.  Yawn.

…when college sports programs…need…to convince young…men to choose their school, they…use…“hostesses”—college women with pretty, smiling faces…[to] assist high-caliber potential student-athletes when they visit campus…according to Deadspin, [they] “answer questions, and…provide entertainment.”  College football is big business…but…NCAA [rules state that]…programs cannot give recruits “any financial aid or other benefits,” including cash, clothing, or merchandise.  In place of these…programs use the recruits’ official 48-hour visit to show them a good time, an implicit promise of what their years on campus will be like…Even though [former hostesses insist]…that no one…tells hostesses to “lead on” recruits, programs are well aware of how instrumental these women are in helping them land top athletes…

Because Everyone Knows That Laws Deter Streetwalkers

The power to see abstractions must be useful:

Cleveland City Councilman Eugene Miller… [proposes] to toughen penalties for prostitutes, pimps and johns…[saying] he has grown tired of seeing prostitution in his…neighborhood and believes that more severe punishment is the only way to ameliorate the problem…however…Judge Ronald Adrine said…mandatory jail time would contribute to overcrowding…“Are we looking at…a severe problem…Or is this…a solution…looking for a problem?”  Adrine compared the issue to fighting the so-called “war on drugs” with harsh jail sentences.  “We have not been able to incarcerate ourselves out of that problem,” he said…

Kudos to Judge Adrine for having the balls to talk sense.feminist heretic burning

To Spite Their Faces

Cathy Young’s “Is the Patriarchy Dead?” is well worth reading in its entirety, but here’s a sample:

When writer Hanna Rosin recently published an article on Slate.com stating that “the patriarchy is dead,” much of the feminist response amounted to “burn the heretic!”…Ironically, the feminist tendency to shoot the bringer of good news was the very topic of Rosin’s essay…In its present form—as a secular cult that should call itself the Sisters of Perpetual Grievance—feminism is far more a part of the problem than part of the solution.  It clings to women’s wrongs and turns women’s rights into narcissistic entitlement.  It is far too easily prone to bashing men while painting women as insultingly helpless…

An Angel of Mercy

What real help for streetwalkers looks like:

…Becca Stevens offers [them an]…alternative working for the cosmetic company she started called Thistle Farms.  The women make soaps, oils, and other products to sell nationwide…the program…offers free housing, eliminating the worry about paying rent…75 percent…have stayed off the streets.

No cops.  No cages.  No shaming or brainwashing.  Just a fair offer they can choose to accept, or not.

A Broker in Pillage

[Maryland] and federal agents raided Jade Heart Health…and charged its operators with prostitution and human trafficking…Di Zhang…has…[an extensive] real estate portfolio…and part-ownership of a…company that reports…millions of dollars of business in China…federal authorities have launched a civil-forfeiture case to seize five buildings…[worth] nearly $2 million…

Hard Numbers (TW3 #16)Gabriela Leite

…in Brazil…a bill…called the Gabriela Leite Law (in honor of the prostitute and activist who founded the NGO Davida)…[proposes] to [clarify] sex work [law]…Leite…[says] it is necessary to consider prostitution as a profession and avoid the cliché of the prostitute as a victim…The bill…defines a sex worker as any person who is at least 18 years old and able to voluntarily provide sexual services for remuneration.  It proposes to regulate the houses of prostitution, to prevent exploitation…[to] set…a ceiling [on income taxes for sex workers and to]…establish…a retirement option…

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?

…it’s become increasingly difficult for former adult stars to conceal their past from their employers…[but] employee discrimination cases involving sex workers are usually…“very difficult to win,” says adult entertainment lawyer Michael Fattorosi.  Under current discrimination laws, there are no protections for former sex workers, and…an employee who…failed to disclose a porn past…would be compromised even further; the employer could argue that the employee had been hired under false pretenses…

The Schizoid State

I doubt we’ll ever know the truth about the so-called “teen girl pimps”:

The 16-year-old plead [sic] guilty to…three counts of human trafficking, and one count each of robbery, luring, and making child pornography…The 18-year-old…to human trafficking, robbery, uttering threats, and breach of recognizance…the Crown [claims]…the girls, who were 15, 15, and 16 at the time…recruited…teen girls through Facebook…and [forced] them into prostitution…The third accused, the so-called ringleader…is on trial for…making and possessing child pornography, human trafficking, forcible confinement, procuring…criminal harassment, and uttering threats…

The Widening GyreIlluminati

Though the persecution of a Florida family for homeschooling (including arrests and threats to abduct their children) is reprehensible, it’s unfortunately too common to be newsworthy.  What I find interesting is that because the mother is “the founder of a non-profit organization that rescues and restores victims of sexual trafficking”, it didn’t take long for the peanut gallery to ask, “Is it possible that this is…retaliation from those who are involved in sex-trafficking?” because “the human trafficking forces are far more powerful than most of us know and certainly do not want to believe.”  Since it’s the state of Florida itself that is harassing them, the implication is clear; this hysteria is tracking right on the same course as the Satanic Panic, whose adherents also began to imagine their bogeymen as part of the government shortly before the whole thing imploded.

Capricious Lusts (TW3 #37)

I just wish sex worker activists cared more about establishing our social value than about preserving feminist myths:

The head of Bangkok’s Children and Women’s Protection Unit has defended the role of prostitutes in society, saying their work helps reduce the number of sex attacks.  Pol Col Napanwut Liamsanguan said…without sex workers there would be more…rape…“This is not something disgusting; it is basic human nature…we can’t deny that sex workers are part of our society”… Chantawipa Abhisuk…of the Empower Foundation…said there was no correlation between prostitution and rape…and…Surang Janyam…of the Service Workers in Group Foundation…said she was disappointed to hear a police officer offer such an opinion…

Obviously, the opinion that we’re lazy, superfluous criminals is much better.

That Old Black Magic

This reporter’s details are very confused; were these boys or transgirls?  And if they were already prostitutes, how could they be “forced into the sex trade”?

Paris police have reportedly broken up a major transsexual prostitution ring…Andrea Chichi…is suspected of having forced nearly 90 transsexual prostitutes into the sex trade.  It is alleged he also threatened them with black magic if they refused to obey his orders…“He recruited young boys from…Argentina…and suggested they get plastic surgery from an accomplice”…[a police] source said, noting that the threat…was…commonly used by Nigerian pimps…

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #42)Graham Ellison

Another good anti-Swedish model essay from Dr. Graham Ellison:

…[the client criminalization bill] is premised on a…narrow abolitionist view of sex work, grossly overestimates the extent of “demand” in Northern Ireland, and is out of line with policy developments occurring elsewhere in the United Kingdom and…continental Europe…In spite of the exaggerated claims…there have been only two prosecutions in the past decade…[and] the degree of coercion…is debatable in at least one of these cases…“trafficking” is [a] slippery concept that has been progressively devalued by exaggerated usage…debates about trafficking…can also be read as proxy debates about immigration and…racist sentiments have been embedded in anti-trafficking discourse…

It Looks Good On Paper (TW3 #311)

The Orwellian language in this article about a “sexual exploitation recovery program” (i.e. scheme to brainwash hookers) is especially chilling:  “Selah Freedom expects the new…program to fill quickly and has partnered with the Sarasota and Bradenton Police Departments to bring victims into their care…”  The casual reader probably wouldn’t even realize “bring into care” means “arrest and cage”.  This story is also notable for its oddly-humble “King of the Hill” entry, which only claims the Tampa Bay area as the third-largest “trafficking hub” in Florida rather than in the whole US.

Dysphemisms Galore

Reporter Maria Arkouli just couldn’t resist turning the rather pedestrian story of a whore arrested for practicing prostitution without a license into “sex trafficking” hentai:  “Famous singers…are consigned to prostitution by a ring in Athens which has spread its tentacles throughout Greece and over the Internet…

The Public Eye (TW3 #324)

The Mote and the Beam (TW3 #332)

When a reporter says something is “surprising”, you can bet it actually isn’t to anyone raised outside of a convent:

Top law enforcement officers…[who] are pushing Congress for greater authority to go after a booming online industry that hosts ads for child sex traffickers…are encountering opposition from an unexpected source — conservative…lawmakers who fear a government clampdown…A coalition of…lawmakers and businesses has drafted a…resolution that…urges Congress to deny state prosecutors the…power they seek…warning that it could discourage investment in new Internet services…

It would do more than that:  it would utterly destroy the internet as we know it, because no website would risk criminal charges for user-generated content like this blog or reader comments on tens of thousands of others.

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In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.  -  Martin Luther King, Jr.

red umbrella ballToday is the first Friday the 13th in fourteen months, and since I’ve picked up quite a few readers since July of 2012 a number of you are probably wondering what that has to do with anything.  Well, it’s just this:  from soon after the beginning of this blog, I’ve asked those of you who aren’t sex workers yourselves to speak up for our rights on this day.  The gay rights movement didn’t really take off until the friends and families of gay people got involved, and it’s the same for us; since only about 1% of Western women ever formally work as whores, we’re going to need a lot of help to make our voices heard.  We need all the sex workers (such as strippers, dominatrices and porn actresses) whose fields aren’t currently criminalized, and the sugar babies and other women who have informally or indirectly taken money for sex at least once (which might be as high as 10% of all women).  We need all of the men who hire us at least occasionally, which comes to about 20% of the adult male population.  We need all of the women who recognize that cops can’t tell the difference between professionals and amateurs, and that laws which can be used to arrest us will also work to arrest you.  We need all of those who love porn, polyamory, BDSM or kink, because even though policing of sex usually starts with harlots, it never stops with us.  We need all of the public health and human rights experts who understand the necessity of decriminalization in light of their respective fields, all of the libertarians who recognize that governmental prohibition of consensual behavior is both indefensible and dangerous to individual liberty, and all of the feminists who recognize that a woman’s right to control her own body and make her own sexual and economic choices is the primary feminist issue.  And we need all of the decent human beings who don’t fall into any of those categories, but are simply disgusted by the idea of armed thugs arresting, humiliating and ruining people for the “crime” of consensual sex.

I understand that many of you, especially the men, are not in a position of being able to speak out publicly without suffering some sort of censure or risking the hostility of wives, girlfriends and female co-workers.  But fortunately, we live in an age where it’s easy to speak anonymously:

…talk about the issue with someone who will listen, make a post on a discussion board, comment on a news story which spreads disinformation, or even just post a link to this column.  If you aren’t confident in your ability to debate, even a simple phrase like “I think adult women should have the right to decide why and with whom they want to have sex” or “everyone has the right to equal protection under the law” might have a tiny but important impact on those who overhear.

If you’re in a position to speak or write but you’re at a loss for strategy, my last Friday the 13th column had some useful suggestions that might inspire you.  And if you have a blog of your own, I’m asking you pretty-please-with-sugar-on-top to try; even just a short post would help to amplify the message.  Last year, Dr. Sarah and Amazing Susan heeded the call, and this year I’m hoping for a veritable crowd; whenever one of y’all posts, be sure to email me or announce it in a comment so I can share the link on Twitter.  And don’t worry if you can’t get the post done until later today: every single post y’all make today will be announced and linked in my next Friday the 13th column, only three months down the road on December 13th.  And yes, reblogs of this column are acceptable, and will get your name on the honor roll come December.  It’s time we let the prohibitionists know that if they want to pick on sex workers, we have a whole lot of brothers and sisters they’re going to have to face as well.Forget Your Troubles by Claudia (2010)

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Oh that I might capture the essence of this deep midwinter night
And fold it softly into the waft of a spring-moon quilt,
Then fondly uncoil it the night my beloved returns.
  -  Hwang Jini

Sex work is so stigmatized, slandered and hidden in modern Western society that it is difficult for most modern Westerners to comprehend just how normal it was in pre-industrial societies, and how woven into the fabric of those societies.  Nowadays we are wont to draw sharp lines between prostitutes, mistresses, girlfriends, actresses, dancers, masseuses and other groups of women, but for most of human history the distinctions between various types of non-wives from whom men could obtain sex were blurry at best.  Consider that courtesans such as the Madame de Pompadour and Jane Shore were still considered harlots despite the fact that all their liaisons were long-term and their total lifetime count of sex partners was lower than most modern women (who would be extremely offended to be called whores) rack up before graduating from university; also remember that working-class women from Roman times until well into the 20th century often supplemented their meager earnings by selling sex on the side, and you’ll begin to understand why the idea of the prostitute as a specific, “fallen” kind of woman only dates to the 19th century (and seems so ridiculous to those who know anything about it).  That’s why modern assertions that certain historical types of women (such as geisha) were “not prostitutes” are so absurd and wrongheaded; even if these women did not openly advertise and sell sex to a large number of clients, there is no doubt that compensated sex was on the menu for at least some clients, and that in Christian Europe they absolutely would have been classified as whores.

kisaeng in Pyongyang (c 1910)The kisaeng of feudal Korea are a case in point.  Though some authorities insist that they were definitely not prostitutes, or that only the lowest of the three classes of kisaeng were, or that only some did that job, the distinction simply isn’t a useful one.  Whether a given woman took money for sex or not was wholly immaterial to her status; that was always cheonmin, the lowest caste of Korean society except for the baekjeong (untouchables). The cheonmin included members of all “unclean” professions including butchers, entertainers, jailers, metalworkers, prostitutes, shamans, shoemakers and sorcerers; they were not all slaves, but slaves were drawn from this caste.  Kisaeng were technically slaves, and after 1650 they were all owned by the government; due to their high degree of training they were treated much better than ordinary slaves, but they were still owned by the state, and the price of freedom was so high it could only be paid by wealthy men (if such a man wanted one as a concubine).

There were three ways a girl could become a kisaeng: she could be born to a kisaeng mother (since caste was hereditary), sold to a kisaeng house by parents who could not afford to raise her, or drop out of the upper classes due to some unforgiveable breach of the complex and rigid Korean social rules.  Training started young (as early as eight) and their careers were extremely short: they usually began active duty about 15, peaked about 17, and retired by age 22.  During the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1897) this was codified into law; they were forced to retire from entertainment duties (including prostitution, singing and such) by 30, though they could continue working at non-entertainment tasks until 50.  Like the geisha of Japan, kisaeng were trained in poetry, music, dance, art, conversation and the like; in fact, one particular poetic form (the sijo) came to be associated with them, and some famous examples are basically advertisements intended to entice gentlemen to buy their sexual services.  But some kisaeng were also trained in needlework and medicine; since Korean doctors were not permitted to see noblewomen naked, their examination and hands-on treatment was the province of medical kisaeng under the direction of a doctor.  The haengsu, highest of the three tiers of kisaeng, were in charge of training after they retired; those of the two lower tiers who were not taken as concubines generally retired by working as seamstresses, food preparers, tavern keepers or the like.  Though some kisaeng became wealthy enough to support themselves, this did not happen nearly as frequently as among European courtesans.

Scenery on Dano Day by Hyewon (c 1800)Korean society was strict and regimented at every level, and the kisaeng were no exception; they were registered and forced to report twice a month to a bureaucrat called the hojang to ensure that they could not flee servitude without soon being missed.  Their day-to-day affairs, however, (including disputes with clients) were supervised by the haengsu.  Prior to the ascent of the Joseon Dynasty this was much looser, but the Joseons were Confucian and thus deeply enamored of hierarchy and regimentation.  For the first two centuries of Joseon rule there were frequent calls for the abolition of the kisaeng, but wiser heads always prevailed because it was understood that without sex workers, officials would be much more likely to satisfy their extramarital urges with other men’s wives.  The subjugation of all kisaeng to strict government control was thus a compromise with those who imagined society could do without whores, just as modern legalization schemes are.  After 1650 some kisaeng were assigned to a specific government office; these were called gwan-gi, and though officeholders were strictly forbidden from having sex with them, in practice they were usually expected and often forced to provide sex to these bureaucrats (because some things never change).  Many kisaeng who were not bound directly to government service had a gibu, or boyfriend; he got sex and companionship in exchange for protection, presents and economic support.  Most gibu were lesser officials, military officers or the like, and though they had no legal status they sometimes became very possessive and pimpish; there were even cases in which they got into fights with their girlfriends’ clients, though obviously this was considered extremely rude and might result in the kisaeng breaking off the relationship.  Over time gibu became more popular, and by the beginning of the 19th century it was rare to find a kisaeng without one.

Throughout the late 19th century, Korea was destabilized by interference from China, Japan, France, the UK and the US.  The Sino-Japanese War (1894-95) resulted in increased Japanese dominance over Korea, and one of the reforms the Japanese encouraged was the abolition of the entire class system, including slavery.  This technically freed the kisaeng, but (as so often happens when slaves are freed en masse by decree), many of them continued in servitude for the rest of their lives, but without the legal protections of their former status.  Some went to work as what Westerners typically think of as prostitutes, and today the term kisaeng is sometimes used to mean a whore who specifically caters to foreigners.  There are a few of the traditional houses still left, but since most of the songs, dances and such were passed down by oral tradition, they have been lost forever.  Idealized kisaeng appear frequently in South Korean historical fiction (much as the geisha do in Japan), but North Korea’s communist government is so hostile to prostitution that it labels all descendents of kisaeng (of whom there are a sizeable number, since Pyongyang was once home to the greatest kisaeng school) as having “tainted blood”.

Unfortunately, courtesan denial is not rare nowadays; those who insist that sex workers of historical times were somehow fundamentally different from their modern descendants reveal not only a pathological aversion to human sexuality and a deep misunderstanding of human nature, but also an appalling ignorance of the truth about selling sex in any era.  Courtesans throughout history would laugh at anyone who claimed that education automatically removed a woman from whoredom; the many who were talented singers, poets and writers would likewise ridicule the notion that artistic training somehow disqualified her from harlotry.  They, the kisaeng, and modern hookers all know what so many pathetic moderns deny:  a person is not what she does to make money, no matter how much repressive governments want to pretend she is.kisaeng school, c. 1910

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