Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘harm reduction’

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

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

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

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

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

Read Full Post »

Theoretically, all children in the United States are at risk of being trafficked.  Theoretically, I’m at risk of drowning in a bucket or getting eaten by a cannibal.  -  Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Savaging

Enjoy this thorough denunciation of sex work “abolitionism” as “the worst abomination created by [neo]feminism” (from the French):

…these vile bastards…attempt to starve the prostitutes, to make them homeless, to…force them to change jobs…They claim that the vast majority of prostitutes are sex slaves enslaved by pimps…[feminists] are…[as] proud of the damage [they do] as the soldiers were once proud banner of the Crusades because each pillage every rape, every murder was an expression of superiority over the enemy…they pull figures out of nowhere…and prostitutes are not allowed to talk at their meetings unless they “repent”…

Parable

Another excellent parody of “sex trafficking” nonsense, this one from Marijke Vonk:

…“Marriage is happening right in our neighbourhoods” warns Angela Tite, co-founder of Concerned Maidens for America, a non-profit organisation against domestic abuse and romantic slavery…“Young women are lured in with promises of love and respect, only to find themselves entrapped in what can only be called modern-day slavery…it is estimated that over 70% of wives experience some form of violence or coercion…Nobody would choose that kind of life voluntarily” …According to the FBI, the average girl becomes involved in romantic relationships between 13 and 15, and some 500,000…are at risk of becoming victims of marriage and domestic violence every year.  “Child abuse is most commonly found inside homes” explains Mary Addington of No Child Left At Home…Over three thousand children and women  have been taken out of homes into…protective shelters, where home-raised children and wedlocked women are rehabilitated…deputy [Tom] Kreapy makes it very clear: “if it saves just one child, we must continue home-stings and neighbourhood raids”…

Saving Them From Themselves 

Cops want to create “child porn” to prosecute teen for creating “child porn” of himself.  I am not making this up:

A Manassas City [Virginia] teenager accused of “sexting” a video to his girlfriend is now facing a search warrant in which…police and…prosecutors want to take a photo of his erect penis…by taking him to a hospital and giving him an injection, the teen’s lawyers said…The teen is facing two felony charges, for possession of child pornography and manufacturing child pornography, which could lead not only to incarceration…but inclusion on the…sex offender data base for…life…

Saint Death Santa Muerte of Nueva Laredo

the “indicia” of drug-dealing has always been…bizarre…The defendant had $324 in cash in his pocket?  Proof he’s a drug dealer…If he has no cash…it’s proof he’s a major drug dealer…[who has] people who do the dirty transactions for [him]…It used to be the beeper that proved someone was a drug dealer…Then it became cellphones…The prosecution will put a cop on the stand…to explain to the ignorant…jury why that cash in the defendant’s pocket is so fundamentally different than the cash in their pockets.  (Hint: It’s because he’s a criminal)…the latest…is  [representing icons of] Santa Muerte…[as] “tools of the drug traffickers’ trade”…the…notion [of] “narco-saints” borders on incomprehensible…But give it a cool name like “narco-saint” and it suddenly turns religion into proof of guilt…

Finding What Isn’t There

At least US “authorities” don’t yet lock up people who debunk “sex trafficking”:  “Police in [The Gambia]…detained Sanna Camara, a journalist…as a result of a story…[in which police officials] admitted that [they] face challenges in combatting human trafficking…due to the unwillingness of victims or their families to aid investigations…”  In other words, those identified as “victims” refuse to play their assigned roles.

Wise Investment (TW3 #335)

The Chief Justice of the British Columbia Supreme Court, Allan McEachern, ruled on July 4, 1984, that sex workers on the Davie Street stroll were a “blatant, aggressive, and disorderly public nuisance”…and…banned [them] from their neighbourhood…[they] were forced to relocate…to what became the killing fields of…Downtown Eastside, with 65 women murdered since the mid-1980s…we seek a formal, public apology from Vancouver…[and] financial reparations…for a permanent memorial near the corner of Bute and Davie streets…

Innocence Never Had

Emi Koyama on how the “trafficking” paradigm harms young sex workers:

…please don’t refer to the youth as “children”…most are 16- and 17- year olds who resent being referred to as “children”…”Rescue” approach presumes that young people have a safe home to go back to and the only problem is the presence of the “trafficker.” That is not the reality for the vast majority…Youth often engage in sex trade in order to escape from violence and abuse at home or in the child welfare system…”Rescue” only sends them back to the unsafe situation that they are escaping from in the first place…It may be convenient for…society to pretend that…violence only comes from pimps and sex buyers, but it is not true…police, hospitals, and schools are much larger source of violence than pimps in the life of street youth…

Opting Out (TW3 #401)

The parental filters of U.K. ISPs are blocking 20 percent of the 100,000 most-visited websites…according to the Open Rights Group…”Different ISPs are blocking different sites and the result is that many people…can’t access their websites…there is a lack of information about how to get sites unblocked”…

Hall of Shame (TW3 #406) Dennis Hof

Your periodic reminder that Dennis Hof really is a revolting excuse for a human being:

The man who owns a well-known brothel in Nevada…is submitting plans to Phoenix city leaders asking permission to open a similar business…a month before the Super Bowl and then close it down a month after…”After [an] initial $500,000 up front, the city would take in additional tax dollars…I was raised in Phoenix…and prostitution was rampant then and is still a problem now…I do background checks on all my girls, they get tested frequently, I will cut down on the pimps and the clients will not go to an illegal source for sex if they have a legal source…Phoenix is one of the worst sex trafficking places in America and this will combat that”…

Drawing Lines

Another good one from Belle Knox, this time on Jezebel:

…I am often asked if there is solidarity among sex workers.  The answer, as I’ve come to slowly and painfully discover, is no.  We’re all essentially doing the same job — selling tickets to a fantasy — so you might imagine that, like retail, food service, or any other profession, we might have some form of solidarity.  But what I’ve learned about the…whorarchy…has helped shed some light on some of the lies I believe all women are buying to one degree or another…

Meanwhile Margaret Corvid, the dominatrix whose writing I criticized in the original of this title, apologized for her original wording and wrote this article to demonstrate her real feelings on the subject:

…I’ve seen the reports of people…forced to do sex work.  They are called trafficked women, and are often depicted at the point of a police raid, with flashing cameras shoved in their faces…I write today to stand with Agustin, Grant, and Maggie McNeill, who have so powerfully argued that this portrayal, and the very concept of “sex trafficking” that underpins it, is a myth…[which] deprives sex workers of agency and identity, as it…fetishises our lives and bodies…

Marching Up Their Own Arses (TW3 #414)

If your local cops claim that “prostitution is…one of the biggest problems they face,” I suggest it’s time to stop wasting money on a police department.  The most hilarious part of this article: the idea that there is such a thing as a “legal escort service” that can be “differentiated from illegal prostitution”.  Blah blah blah “not a victimless crime”, blah blah children, blah dirty whores, blah disease, blah licenses, booga booga SEX TRAFFICKING!

The Mote and the Beam (TW3 #419)

Elizabeth Brown analyzes the danger of the latest “sex trafficking” Trojan horse:

The “Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation (SAVE) Act“…would…require all sites that host adult advertising (whether paid or free)…to review ads before publication, request a valid telephone number and credit card number from each poster, “prohibit the use of euphemism and codewords”…and prohibit the use of prepaid debit cards or cryptocurrencies in placing paid ads.  For sites that run paid adult advertisements, publishers would be responsible for verifying the identity of every person who placed an adult ad by obtaining a copy of a government-issued ID containing their name, photo, and date of birth.  The publisher would have to hold on to these records for seven years and make them…available to the ["authorities" on demand]…The bill insists that information won’t be used against registrants in criminal proceedings unrelated to sex trafficking.  But knowing how fond government and law enforcement officials are of privacy and keeping promises, you can see why those advertising adult services…may be reluctant to hand over such information…

The most important real-world effect of this law would be to drive virtually 100% of adult advertising to sites hosted outside of the US.

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #422)

France avoids the Swedish rot for now:

A landmark bill in France that would see clients of prostitutes hit with fines of up to €1,500 may never see the light of day after senators voted to scrap the legislation…Senator Esther Benbassa cited the bad example…[of] Sweden where…it has failed to reduce prostitution and simply made life more dangerous for sex workers…

Whither Canada? (TW3 #423) C-36 protest

The proposed prostitution bill could make sex work even more dangerous and may be unconstitutional, more than 200 legal experts said in an open letter to the prime minister …In fact, they argue, it’s no better than the old law struck down by the Supreme Court late last year for violating sex workers’ Charter rights…

If Men Were Angels

A job centre employee has admitted demanding sex from unemployed former prostitutes in exchange for work…[and] is now facing sexual assault and bribery charges…The man had been responsible for a project since 1990 in which women who wanted to escape prostitution were found work…

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (TW3 #426)

Digging through the prohibitionist nonsense in this article yields this kernel:

…Dolly has been home…to 1,187 sex workers and 311 pimps (according to official data)…Unofficial reports found no fewer than 9,000 people, including those operating hundreds of lodges, cafés, karaoke bars, massage parlors and food stalls, were involved either directly or indirectly in the…sex industry…The possible massive exodus of former Dolly residents has caused great concern among provincial and regional governments…health campaigners, women and human rights advocates and members of community-based organizations across Indonesia, especially in Bali, which many consider a…perfect spot for sex tourism…“Within the framework of our [Bali’s] efforts to end the HIV epidemic, the closure of Dolly could become a time bomb — a social and health disaster for the island,” a doctor who conducts outreach programs for sex workers…said…

Bread and Circuses

The June 25 seizure of…MyRedBook…by the FBI has been heralded by some as another win in the war against…child sex traffickers…the FBI and CNN…fail to mention that the site also functioned as a critical exchange for sex workers looking to reduce harm and share best practices…the seizure has not only cut off a source of income for sex workers, but also a source of information and community…among crusaders committed to criminalizing sex workers and the people who purchase their services…sex workers…are either trafficked girls shackled to beds when they’re not servicing sadistic ghouls, or they are thrill-seeking degenerates blissfully unaware of their privilege…The former daydreams of a police raid that will liberate her…while the latter feverishly supports the “Pimp Lobby” from Twitter…The massive gulf of silence between these two caricatures gives space to a convenient narrative that…the overwhelming majority of sex workers require intervention by benevolent law enforcement agencies…

Lucy Steigerwald points out that there are scary implications for amateurs, too:

…The warning on My Red Book states that domain names count as property, therefore they can be taken under racketeering laws.  But that is a wide and rocky road towards censorship which needs to be challenged.  A website is speech…Shutting one down without due process is nothing more than censorship.  Just because the federal government wants to shield our eyes from prostitution doesn’t mean we should let it…

Read Full Post »

This essay first appeared in Cliterati on June 29th; I have modified it slightly for time references and to fit the format of this blog.

MyRedbook seizureOn June 25th, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation seized the venerable San Francisco escort website, MyRedbook, under the usual vague and evidence-free charges the US government always uses when it wants to destroy peaceful businesses who have hurt no one.  This time, as you can see above, the pretenses are “money laundering” and “racketeering”, but others cases include “conspiracy”, “mail fraud” and “tax evasion”.  You may believe that these are actual crimes, but the truth is they aren’t (except on paper); they’re simply blunt instruments defined so vaguely that any competent prosecutor can jam nearly any business into one or more of them.  Here’s how it works: “racketeering” can mean criminals operating a legitimate business, like when a mobster owns a restaurant.  So a “racketeering” charge usually means “we think you committed crimes but can’t prove them, so we’re just going to assume you’re a criminal and prosecute you for owning a regular business.”  Any money you’ve deposited is then called “money laundering” on the grounds that you deposited “criminal proceeds” from your imaginary crimes into your legitimate account; “tax evasion” is based on the pretense that you have failed to pay taxes on imaginary income they can’t prove you actually made; “conspiracy” means merely talking about committing the imaginary crimes, and so on.  And if you believe that the targeted business is protected by the presumption of innocence, think again.  The FBI’s excuses are partly visible in this article:

…Eric Omuro, 53, and Annmarie Lanoce, 40, were arrested during a FBI raid…Both are charged with…interstate travel in the aid of a racketeering enterprise, and Omuro is charged with…twenty-four counts of money laundering…prosecutors say the pair used the mail and the Internet to facilitate prostitution…”The website hosted advertisements for prostitutes, complete with explicit photos, lewd physical descriptions, menus of sexual services, hourly and nightly rates, and customer reviews of the prostitutes’ services”…The indictment seeks the forfeiture of more than $5 million in property and assets Omuro allegedly gained by facilitating prostitution…CNN reports  that the shutdown was part of a broad FBI crackdown on child prostitution…In 2011, San Mateo County prosecutors used the site to arrest…suspects who were believed to be pimping underage girls…

The lies about “child prostitution” (unproven three-year-old police “beliefs” do not constitute evidence) are designed to throw up a smoke screen in front of the real motive for the prosecution: “…the indictment seeks the forfeiture of more than $5 million…”  That profit motive is both direct (through stealing the owner’s assets) and indirect:  though the “sex trafficking” hysteria has proven a bonanza for cops (via government “sex trafficking” grants) and “rescue industry” organizations (via gullible donors), the “authorities” need to manufacture at least a few “victims” and “pimps” to justify the tremendous amount of bread being flushed down the “trafficking” toilet.  Every year the FBI conducts a massive series of “sting” operations designed to deceive and entrap sex workers so they can be arrested by local police; their children are abducted and labeled “child sex trafficking victims”, and their spouses or drivers (and male sex workers) are arrested and labeled “pimps”.  After the first few operations the FBI announced how many adult sex workers had been arrested, but for the last two years it has hidden that data because a few in the media were beginning to question the morality of spending millions and brutalizing more than 10 women for every teen “recovered”…especially since their “pimp” conviction rate is a mere 4.06%.  Given that the label “pimp” is applied willy-nilly that low rate isn’t surprising, but actual convictions aren’t necessary to maintain the appearance of “doing something” against the phantasmal bogeymen the government has conjured to distract the populace from the real economic and social problems it can do nothing about.

Of course, somebody has to pay for this monumental show; as mentioned above, some of the cost is recouped by stealing the victims’ possessions, and the taxpayers (or rather, their children and grandchildren) are stuck with the rest.  But there is another cost, a human one, which is mostly borne by sex workers.  I estimate more than 2000 sex workers’ lives were destroyed in the latest “Operation Cross-Country”, and the attack on MyRedbook (which was timed to coincide with the “anti-trafficking” games to as to make them seem related when they actually weren’t) will have enormous repercussions for California sex workers:

…My Redbook not only served as a transparent marketplace…for…adult services — it also provided free advertising for sex workers, community for an isolated and marginalized population, and a tool for avoiding dangerous clients.  My Redbook served as a stable and thriving online business district for thousands of…workers and a centralized location for welfare, anti-trafficking, and HIV-Prevention services to reach geographically dispersed and hidden target populations.  The…action against My Redbook resulted in the sudden loss of a resource thousands of west coast sex workers use to help build community, screen clients, stay safe, and attain economic stability and well-being…The arrest of My Redbook’s owners and the site’s sudden closure epitomize the disruptive, destabilizing and harmful impact of criminalization on the lives of individuals involved in the sex trade.  So long as this industry is criminalized, any marketplaces, networks, and community spaces its’ members work to create are subject to criminal proceedings and can easily disappear overnight…

This prosecution also sets a very dangerous precedent; if it succeeds, other advertising and review sites may be next, cutting US sex workers off from the safest, most effective way to work until companies based outside the US appear to fill the gap.  One might question the wisdom of attacking an entire industry in such a way as to ensure that money which previously circulated within US borders will now flow overseas, but only if one misunderstands the purpose behind the attacks.  The “sex trafficking” hysteria in general, and gigantic police actions in particular, are Roman circuses; they are intended to pander to the bloodlust of the masses rather than to actually accomplish anything concrete, and judged by that standard these tremendous anti-whore pogroms are a howling success. 

Read Full Post »

Would you care to comment on this?  “…this video…[shows] a boy [being] sexually assaulted and molested by an adult woman, to the huge entertainment of a bullying, out of control crowd.  The boy is obviously trying to go along with good humor, fear-grin plastered across his face, but as things progress it’s obvious he’s being humiliated, shamed, and disturbed over sexual behavior he doesn’t fully understand, and being mocked the whole time for it…

inappropriate lap dance(Readers can watch the video at the link if they like, but it isn’t necessary to follow my response).  As you probably know, I vehemently oppose characterizing adolescents of either sex as “children”; it’s hard to tell the boy’s age from that video, but I’d guess he’s in puberty rather than pre-pubescent, and therefore not a “child”.  And if he’s not a “child”, that can’t be “child molestation”, Q.E.D.  Furthermore, I consider the criminalization of every possible transgression to be a smoothly-paved road to totalitarianism; there are at least five distinct levels of offense, of which criminality is the most serious.  When one uses a legalistic term like “child molestation”, one is at least strongly implying (if not outright stating) that one believes state violence would be an appropriate response to the situation; I do not agree that sending a goon squad to beat, chain, humiliate, cage and ostracize that woman for life would be an appropriate response to her offense.

Next, we have to consider the principle of harm reduction.  No matter how much prudes and child cultists wish to pretend otherwise, the evidence is that adult-adolescent sexual contact usually has few if any long-term effects; as I wrote three years ago, “most of the trauma associated with sexuality involving minors derives not from some mystical property of sex itself, but from the considerable fuss adults make over it when it is discovered (including endless invasive and uncomfortable interviews with creepy strangers asking highly personal questions), not to mention guilt over getting someone else in trouble”.  When I was gang-raped by three cops (which I’m sure you will admit was a far more egregious violation of my person than what we see in this video) I did not report it because “from my viewpoint the rape could last an hour and be over except for nightmares and flashbacks, or I could let lawyers and judges and cops subject me to a waking nightmare, a slow-motion rape that might go on for months or years.”  Some people who have been raped or sexually assaulted want to go through the legal process in order to gain closure, exact vengeance or attempt to protect others from violation, while others do not; it is nobody’s business which the victim chooses but his or her own.  Even full-out aggravated rape is not the end of the world, and non-violent sexual humiliation far less so; in the case of the boy in the video, the emotional and psychological damage from a protracted criminal prosecution would be vastly greater than any he experienced during this episode, and to what end?  To please adults whose sensibilities were offended, or who just have an axe to grind?  I think not.

axe to grindThen there’s the issue of projection.  As a side-effect of empathy, human beings have the unfortunate tendency to project their own emotions onto other people; we ask ourselves, “how would I feel in that situation?”  When it helps us to connect to others, to view their hurts as serious and their needs as worthy of consideration, it is a good and positive thing.  But when it causes a person to overrule the statements or wishes of the other, to say, “no, you’re wrong, you don’t feel that way because I would feel differently in your place”, or to demand state violence be inflicted on someone against the wishes of the actual victim, that is a horse of an entirely different color.  It’s fine for you to say, “I would be humiliated and upset if I were in that boy’s place”, or even “I believe that boy was absolutely mortified and traumatized”.  It is not fine, however, for his parents to demand retribution unless he wants it himself, and it is tyrannous for the state to demand such retribution on the grounds that the “victim” is state property.  Moreover, it is absolutely outrageous for uninvolved strangers to demand such retribution against the victim’s wishes on the grounds that it made them uncomfortable; that is the basis for virtually all prohibitionism, and thus a moral and social abomination.

I believe that what that woman did was probably wrong (in a moral sense) and certainly inappropriate; since I know nothing about the people involved I cannot say anything else for certain.  If I had been there I would have put a stop to it, but since no responsible person did we are left with nothing but a very limited amount of information…far too little to ruin two lives over.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

Read Full Post »

If men were angels, no government would be necessary.  If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.  -  James Madison

Adam and Eve are Driven Out of Eden by Gustave Dore (1866)No scientifically-literate person would deny that human beings are animals, and no sane person would deny that we are not only imperfect, but unperfectible; it is literally impossible to remove all the flaws from any human being.  No accident of birth, no social pressure, no education, no surgery, no psychoactive drug, no holy book, no set of rules or procedures, no machine and no god can remove that flawed nature; we are born flawed, develop new flaws even while trying to correct old ones, and eventually die still flawed (and often because of those flaws).  The Christian myth of original sin may be based in this realization, but there is no baptism or consecration which will wash it away; we are stuck with it, and the best we can do is to recognize the truth and ask for others’ help in controlling the damage our flaws may cause.

Unfortunately, one of the most profound and dangerous of human flaws is our love for authority; the average human craves being told what to do by someone he perceives as superior to him, and the majority of exceptions to this are those who crave the power to tell others what to do.  And though a wisely-organized system would recognize this by limiting both the ability of all humans to exercise power over others, and the opportunity for individuals to surrender power to self-proclaimed leaders, we do not have a wisely-organized system for the simple reason that humans on the whole are not yet wise enough to design such a system.  Theoretically, democracy is supposed to do this, but humans’ love for titles, badges, costumes and Great Men has undermined every attempt since Classical Greece; whatever system is designed to put “the people” in power will eventually allow thugs and strongmen to arise, and no matter how carefully individual rights are protected the hoi-polloi will eventually rush to give up those rights for some perceived advantage (usually “safety”).  And when they do, the rights of the individualists are destroyed right along with those of the mob by the flawed and fallacious mechanism that all democracies to date have depended upon, majority rule.

Any human given power will eventually abuse that power if given the opportunity to do so.  Any human.  Let that sink in, because every argument for the “necessity” of government invariably ignores it.  Every single official, every single cop, every single judge, every single representative.  Every tax collector, inspector, legislator, minister, noble and king.  All of them, to a man, will abuse his authority if given the opportunity to do so; obviously, the solution is to limit and check the power of every single government actor and every group of actors so as to remove that opportunity.  But that is not what we do; in fact, the tendency is to do the opposite, increasing the power and decreasing the accountability of officials until we arrive at the situation illustrated every week in my TW3 and Links columns.  Nor are we satisfied with giving this kind of power to “official” authorities; oh no.  The human desire to be controlled by people who know absolutely nothing about them as individuals is unsatisfied with having the boots of elected officials, appointed officials, bureaucrats, hirelings and henchmen on their faces and bodies; they must also invite a host of ministers, gurus, celebrities, bosses, academics and other Pillars of the Community to stomp on their genitalia as well.

That last metaphor was not merely chosen for shock value; humans, as I said at the beginning, are animals, so although most do use their power for rational (if wrongful) purposes like enriching themselves or destroying their enemies, they also tend to use it for feeding their appetites:

…a minister…is facing 59 counts of first-degree sexual assault in cases against girls…as young as 13…Victor Barnard [led]…a cult-like faith community in central Minnesota…[and told girls he] chose [to rape that they were] to be “sacrificed to God”…

The Witches (1966)The writers of stories like this always pretend to be shocked, as though this were an aberration rather than the norm; for example, people point fingers at Catholic priests who molest boys as if the clergy of their religions were any different.  Atheists in turn point fingers at clergy, ignoring the fact the same kinds of abuses are committed at the same rate by secular authority figures.  If such incidents are rarer in some situations than others it’s merely due to lack of opportunity, not lack of desire.  Do you realize how many different headings on this blog cover variations on the theme of “authorities” abusing their power to get sex in one way or another?  “Above the Law” is the most obvious one, but there’s also “License To Rape”, “Droit du Seigneur” and “Follow Your Bliss”.  Furthermore, “Reaction Formation” and “Buried Truth” deal with “authorities” who work to punish others for sexual kinks they hide in themselves.  Spend some time perusing the stories filed under those tags, then tell me again how power-mad “authorities” are just a few isolated cases, and that it’s sane and sensible to keep giving them more power, more money and more control over every aspect of our lives.

Read Full Post »

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.  -  “Friday the Thirteenth Again

Red Umbrellas by Georgio BisettiEvery year has at least one Friday the Thirteenth, and there can be as many as three in a year; next year will be that way, with the day appearing in February, March and November.  The longest time that can pass between two such days is 14 months, as noted in “The Last Thirteen for Fourteen“.  But this year we only have one, in the middle of the year, and that’s today.  Regular readers know what this means, but for those who’ve joined us since December, here’s how I explained it last September:

…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…we’re going to need [similar] 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…We need all of the men who hire us at least occasionally…[and] all of the women who recognize 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…

You could write a blog post, make an anonymous comment on an anti-whore news story, bring up the subject with friends, link or reblog this column…anything is a help!  If you don’t feel comfortable making any sort of public statement but still want to help the cause, there’s a “Donate” box in the right-hand column; you could also support my current speaking tour via GoFundMe or just buy a copy of my book.  There are also sex worker organizations such as SWOP, ESPLERP and the St. James Infirmary, or sex-worker-friendly organizations like Women With a Vision, that could use your contribution.  Whatever you do, please post about it in the comments and include a link if appropriate; I’ll republish every one next March together with whatever people do in February.  Above all, please remember that any contribution – loud or quiet, public or private, eloquent or laconic, lengthy or brief – is important and worthy, and everyone one will hasten the day when governments no longer believe it’s acceptable for them to persecute sex workers, our clients and our associates in any way they please.

Read Full Post »

Ms. Mam and her foundation banked on Western feel-good demands for intervention, culminating in abusive crackdowns on the people she claimed to save.  -  Melissa Gira Grant

Half the SkyAfter the publication of “Continuing To Crumble“, all hell broke loose for Somaly Mam.  I must admit I was surprised at just how quickly and thoroughly it happened; I suspect a lot of “sex trafficking” skeptics in editorial departments were just waiting for something like this (which is a very good sign indeed).  The day after my essay, Somaly Mam announced that she was resigning from her position as head of her foundation, and this article by Anne Moore appeared in Salon:

This week’s Newsweek…[debunked] the figurehead of the so-called “modern slavery movement”…Mam claims to have rescued more than 4,000 girls from sex slavery, but questions about her stories still arise from former staff members, her former husband and those supposed former sex slaves…Mam’s…pernicious web of obfuscations and self-aggrandizements…keep women’s economic opportunities around the world hovering somewhere near deplorable…Many of her accolades…can be traced back to her friendship with New York Times columnist Nick Kristof.  As of press time he still lists the Somaly Mam Foundation as a “partner” in Half the Sky Movement, his blatant attempt (along with wife Sheryl WuDunn) to brand and therefore profit from economic and physical violence against women and girls in the Global South…Kristof may, eventually, claim to have been duped.  I believe he’ll be lying (again)…Mam can’t be held accountable for the impact of her tales as much as she can for establishing the culture of permanent victimhood…what…anti-human trafficking NGOs do…is normalize existent labor opportunities for women, however low the pay, dangerous the conditions, or abusive an environment they may be.  And they shame women who reject such jobs…What anti-trafficking NGOs are saving women from…is a life outside the international garment trade…

The next day, the Times itself – arguably the one organization most complicit in the spreading of Mam’s evil lies – published this piece by Melissa Gira Grant:

…Mam’s…portrayal of all sex workers as victims in need of saving encouraged raids and rescue operations that only hurt the sex workers themselves.  In 2008, Cambodia enacted new prohibitions on commercial sex, after the country was placed on a watch list by the State Department.  In brutal raids on brothels and in parks…women were chased down, detained and assaulted.  The State Department commended [this]…and removed the country from the watch list…Mam’s target audience of well-off Westerners, eager to do good, often knows little about the sex trade.  It doesn’t require much for them to imagine all women who sell sex as victims in need of rescue…When Mira Sorvino arrived with CNN last year to film sex workers undercover in Phnom Penh, Ros Sokunthy of the Women’s Network for Unity [WNU] told the Asian Correspondent news site that this approach was part of the problem:  “You show the face of the mother, who is so poor that she has to sell her daughter for money?  How does this help the daughter or mother?  It doesn’t.  It helps the NGO to make money”…A “hero” like Ms. Mam lets those who lift her up feel that they are heroes, too. They can be saviors simply by repeating her stories and swiping their cards.  Now Ms. Mam has been exposed before her donors and the Western media who anointed her and made fighting sex trafficking a kind of industry in itself, while sex workers suffered the consequences.  Will Ms. Mam’s supporters consider the price of what they’ve been sold?

And speaking of Asian Correspondent, here’s their article from the day after Grant’s:

…CNN…”poverty porn” [does] not sit well with…WNU…Ros Sokunthy…said rich donors would rather support anti trafficking groups with an…agenda to stop all sex work, than those that help sex workers and their children get out of poverty…Pisey Ly…[said that the Somaly Mam Foundation] “still [praises]…Somaly and…[does] not recognize the consequences of how [they]…impacted people”…anti-trafficking organizations tend to be against all sex work, not just…forced sex work…When consenting sex workers are arrested or “rescued,” their children suffer.  With their mothers gone and no money or food coming in, they must find work, even though they are children…

What about the Great White Savior, Nicholas Kristof, who as observed above is more complicit than any other individual in enabling Mam’s depredations against sex workers?  Over the weekend, he quietly removed her page from his website; the first picture above is what it looked like before, and this is what it looks like nowHalf the Memory Hole

But if he thought the issue was just going to go away, he was sadly mistaken; it isn’t only sex workers who have been sick of his victim-pimping, snake oil and  outright lies:

…You mean, Mr. Helicopter Rich White Man Rescuer was ready to buy lurid, falsified stories hook, line, and sinker?  Who could have guessed!  Here’s a 2011 Kristof article lauding Mam and her story, in what has to be the most prototypical Kristof column.  Here’s another, on [Long Pros], entitled, “If This Isn’t Slavery, What Is?”  Oh, I don’t know.  Maybe something that actually happened…The history of prostitution reform in Progressive Era America tells a similar story.  There were Kristofs then too, freaking out about the white slavery traffic.  They wanted to hear the most lurid stories possible and then publicize them to make points about the evils of prostitution.  They didn’t bother fact-checking either.  And time and time again, these stories about young women didn’t pan out.  The impact of this movement was to make sex work illegal, making it far more dangerous, as it largely remains today.  The actions of women like Mam and useful idiots like Kristof just obscure the real problems of a lack of opportunity for women to have decent work and respectable lives in Cambodia and elsewhere, not to mention discrediting attempts to help solve real sex slavery.  But then Kristof has never been interested in people helping themselves  anyway.  He prefers saving brown people from themselves

Fittingly, Kristof issued his “explanation” and “apology” (which as you might expect was neither) on International Whores’ Day; predictably, it was not so much an admission of rescue industry fraud as a lament that Mam’s well-deserved downfall will make it harder for other rescue industry operations to continue enriching themselves at the expense of sex workers:

…I don’t know quite what to think.  Somaly stands by her story, but she also resigned, which gives credence to the allegations…serious doubts have clearly been raised about her…but I’m reluctant to be an arbiter of her back story when I just don’t know what is true and false…Whatever the situation with Somaly, there’s no uncertainty about the larger issue of human trafficking in Cambodia…One risk is that girls fleeing Cambodian brothels will no longer get help.  Another is that the debate about Somaly’s back story will overtake the imperative of ending the trafficking of young teenagers into brothels.  Let’s remember that this is about more than one woman.

I suggest Kristof heed his own closing statement, though I know he won’t; he and other prohibitionists believe the feelings, beliefs and political agenda of a vocal  minority which includes himself, politicians, neofeminists and fundamentalist Christians take precedence over the needs of many millions of  sex workers, their clients, their children and everyone else they help. Prohibitionists aren’t literally “one woman”, but their numbers are tiny compared to those of the people they wish to control and overrule.  Furthermore, I hardly think Kristof need worry about the “sex trafficking” gravy train running off of the rails just yet:

For the first time, pastors and police joined together in…Cambodia…to discuss human trafficking….IJM staff led nearly fifty church leaders through a study on the Bible’s call to seek justice for the oppressed, and then [a cop]…shared about human trafficking and how church leaders can help their communities report the crime…One pastor encouraged her peers to think creatively about how they could work with police for good…The chief of the Cambodian anti-trafficking police…shared tell-tale signs of trafficking and advised pastors of the kinds of questions they can ask if they suspect a girl is in trouble…

The “sex trafficking” hysteria is beginning to implode, and the vultures will eventually need to find another carcass to feed on.  But there’s still a lot of meat left on this one, and they won’t leave until they’ve picked off every scrap.

Read Full Post »

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.  -  Mahatma Gandhi

Today is International Whores’ Day, the 39th anniversary of a protest in which…

over 100 French prostitutes occupied the Church of St. Nizier in Lyon.  In a very real sense, today is the birthday of the sex worker rights movement; though Margo St. James had already founded COYOTE two years before, the French protests were the first ones large and vociferous enough to gain media attention, and led to the formation of the French Collective of Prostitutes (which in turn inspired the founding of the English Collective of Prostitutes and a number of other, similar organizations)…

Birthdays are a good time for taking stock, for looking at where one has been and where one is going.  Like humans, movements have good birthdays and bad ones; the first few anniversaries of that historic protest were good, until mainstream feminism betrayed us in the early 1980s by selling out to the carceral anti-sex crowd and hopping into bed with the religious right.  And though there were some dark days after that, the movement continued to grow throughout the ‘90s and early ‘00s despite every opposition.  Of course the prohibitionists struck back; they revived the old “white slavery” hysteria under a new name, and for years now they’ve seemed to have the upper hand in the public’s imagination with their lurid masturbatory fantasies of gypsy whores, weeping teenage “sex slaves” and leering “pimps” with magical powers.  At the same time, however, the internet has allowed sex workers to organize with each other and reach out to the public at a level we could only dream of when I first entered the business.  While politicians, cops and the more ignorant and authoritarian members of the general public have subjected the rights of sex workers, our clients and our associates to unceasing attack, at the same time health officials, human rights groups, and the more well-informed and freedom-loving members of the public have increasingly sided with sex workers in calling for decriminalization.

In “Back and Forth” I provided a snapshot of how things stood last summer, and I think it’s safe to say they’ve shifted somewhat in our favor since then.  Oh, one wouldn’t know it to look at the mainstream media; with a few rare exceptions the Fourth Estate has largely abdicated its role of exposing tyranny and instead dedicated itself to the worship of those in power.  Every moronic assertion about “sex trafficking” is slavishly parroted without a whisper of skepticism, every asinine lie about sex workers a cop vomits out is presented as gospel, every ridiculous prohibitionist “study” is reverently cited as ironclad proof of the necessity of “rescuing” us by either locking us up or starving us to death.  The horrible Swedish model has advanced in Ireland and France, was recently adopted as a “recommendation” by the European parliament, has been re-introduced in the UK after being sent packing once before, and is being touted by the Canadian government in a sleazy attempt to circumvent the court decision which struck down criminalization in Canada last December.  The week doesn’t pass that some US jurisdiction doesn’t come out with a new draconian law designed to save nonexistenttrafficked children” by shredding the Constitution and scattering its remains to the four winds; and even countries which have previously taken a more liberal view such as Germany, the Netherlands and Australia are now infested with prohibitionists demanding state control over adult sexual behavior.

The ranks of our allies, however, increase every day.  Over 560 organizations  advised the Parliament to adopt decriminalization over the Swedish model, and over 300 academics gave the same advice to Canada.  A few reporters are beginning to question “trafficking” mythology, and anti-criminalization articles by activists and allies are getting far more common not only in libertarian publications like Reason, but also others all across the political spectrum from Jacobin to Vice to Salon to The Economist to National Review.  It won’t be long before prohibitionists recognize that they’re on the wrong side of history, and begin to adopt the sort of delaying tactics they’ve used for decades against gay rights and are using now against the erosion of the drug war.  The fight won’t be over soon, not by a long shot.  But I predict that every year on this day, I’ll have ever-increasing amounts of good news to report. 

Read Full Post »

Preteens selling goodies, the police…lectured [her]…was unfair to establishments…like Starbucks.  -  Robert Fernandes

Juxtaposition

Popehat suggests we compare and contrast this:

Just days after Iran’s president denounced Internet censorship as “cowardly,” six young Iranians were arrested and forced to repent on state television…for the grievous offense of proclaiming themselves to be “Happy in Tehran,” in a homemade music video  they posted on YouTube…The arrest of the young dancers, and their televised public humiliation, angered Iranians at home and abroad…

And this:

U.S. Park Police arrested five people…at the Jefferson Memorial.  Their offense?  Dancing.  The dancers were protesting an appeals court ruling…that the national monuments are places for reflection and contemplation — and that dancing distracted…

Real People Maria Isabel

Photographer Bénédicte Desrus spent six years…documenting Casa Xochiquetzal, a home in Mexico City for…retired sex workers…She only took photographs of the women who gave her permission and provided them with prints, which often inspired other women to participate…Desrus then teamed up with journalist Celia Gómez Ramos, who began interviewing and transcribing the residents’ stories.  They eventually decided to publish…as…Las Amorosas Más Bravas (The Toughest Lovers)…

Check Your Premises

34-year-old…Vanessa Gumataotao of Sacramento…was arrested on suspicion of prostitution…as well as child abuse and endangerment for allegedly using [a] 17-year-old [boy] as her pimp.  The…boy was arrested on suspicion of pimping…

If It Were Legal

Too bad he lost the suit; this kind of ethical breach is unforgiveable:

A top London solicitor who had sex with a Chinese law student [and sex worker]…has lost his claim for damages after she told his daughter and colleagues about previous affairs.  The solicitor…identified only as AVB, sued the young sex worker, known as TDD, for breach of confidentiality…after she found information about past liaisons on his laptop.  Senior…Justice Tugendhat…said TDD broke a duty she entered when she accepted money for sex.  But…AVB…would not receive damages because although he experienced “some embarrassment” he “has suffered no real distress”…

Something Rotten in Sweden (July Updates, Part One)

Cops busting kids’ lemonade stands isn’t news any more, but this is a new low:

[San Francisco cops busted] two…lemonade stands…the 11-year-old proprietor of one…was informed that simply giving away the fudge brownies and lemonade the police forbade her…to sell would result in a $1,500 fine…Not long after police cleansed the…area of unlawful lemonade dispensaries…they returned due to complaints about “a live band.”  This stemmed…from a neighborhood tradition of setting up a drum kit during [a public event] and allowing local kids to keep the beat.  At the time the police showed up, the unlicensed live bandmember was…a toddler…

The Punitive Mindset

Because obviously, female guards’ delicate ladyfeelings are more important than men’s lives:

…Bradley Ballard, a…schizophrenic [inmate at New York’s Rikers Island] died…after he was confined to his cell…for seven days for making a lewd gesture at a female guard…Denied…his medication, the agitated inmate tied a rubber band tightly around his genitals…Ballard was found naked and unresponsive on the floor, covered in feces, his genitals swollen and badly infected.  He died at a hospital of…[massive systemic] infection…

Above the Law

Two [Atlantic City cops] have been arrested on charges they sexually assaulted a 16-year-old in separate incidents…Andre Corbin and…Ralph Pereira…were…[each] charged with…sexual assault…endangering the welfare of a child and official misconduct…

That Old Black Magic

A man was killed by a mob…in…Burkina Faso, after being accused of making another man’s penis “disappear”…a local mechanic…claimed that his penis had been “stolen” by the second man, who was not from the district.  The first man called the police.  But by then…the residents decided to lynch the man in the middle of the street…

I’ve mentioned West African “penis stealing” hysteria before in Links #141.

Traffic Jam (TW3 #51)

The acquittal of the 13 people “sex trafficking” fanatic Susan Trimarco implicated in her witch hunt provoked such an outcry among her disciples that two of the three judges were pushed into retirement, the third has been threatened with impeachment and the Argentine president swore to “reform” the judiciary because it is too objective and not sufficiently influenced by public opinion.  A higher court then convicted ten of the 13 defendants on charges of running an “evil network of sexual exploitation…with…international connections, and satanic rituals.”  Still think this hysteria is different from the Satanic Panic?

The End of the Beginning

The California Sex Offender Management Board…[recommends] that lawmakers…overhaul registration laws so that some offenders can be removed from the list after 10 or 20 years.  The list — which currently includes almost 100,000 registered offenders — is too large to be useful to law enforcement or the general public.  Under current laws, all sex offenders must register for life regardless of the offense they committed…[the list] includes…almost 900 [people] who have not committed a sex-crime in more than half a century…Ninety-five percent of sex-crimes are committed by individuals who are not on the registry, and the existence of the registry has not worked as a deterrent…

Comfort Zone (TW3 #320) Louie Gohmert

The endgame of “sex trafficking” hysteria:

…U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) said the debate over…immigration reform is prompting undocumented minors to enter the United States… “And…you know that some get sucked into sex slavery,” Gohmert said…adding…“This administration, and this Congress also, is complicit in helping lure people into sex trafficking”…

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #349)

The [French] National Consultative Commission on Human Rights  (CNCDH)…has [rejected] the law…which seeks to punish “the purchase of sexual acts”…[The Commission] consulted many experts…and…[outlines] the three-point position of the committee:

  • “Chosen prostitution” is legal, so clients are not criminals.
  • Legal prostitutes should be easier for clients to access.
  • Victims of trafficking and exploitation need better support…

Hard Numbers (TW3 #351)

Mobs with torches are back in fashion, it seems:

An international association of Catholic nuns has launched a public awareness campaign to combat human trafficking and prostitution during the World Cup in Brazil.  The nuns will use social media, billboards and rallies…to draw attention to the heightened risk of exploitation…Sister Gabriella Bottani said…that for previous World Cups in Germany and South Africa, the level of “exploitation” had gone up by 30 per cent and 40 per cent respectively…Among past and upcoming initiatives will be…a torchlit procession in Brasilia…and handing out pamphlets at…beach resorts…

Naturally, the usual predators are taking advantage of the anti-whore hysteria:

…police…invaded…a building where…prostitutes operated…in [the suburbs of]… Rio…Without a warrant, police…[arrested] more than 100 women…and seized their goods.  Women were attacked and raped – police forced them to perform oral sex and put their hands on the women’s genitals…One woman…had…[her] whole week…[of] money…robbed, including any money to take the bus home…

Guest Columnist:  Sarah Woolley (TW3 #406) 

Amnesty International has urged Northern Ireland’s politicians to ditch plans to criminalise the purchasing of sex.  The human rights organisation wants a clause contained in a bill against human trafficking to be excised because…it would create a “hierarchy of criminal liability” among sex workers…Amnesty stressed it was not taking sides on the debate over sex work and prostitution, but said sex work and human trafficking were “two very complex social phenomena” that required different laws…

“Those who…sit on the fence do indeed side for a political party: The ruling party.” – Max Frisch

Sex Work is Work (TW3 #407)

Another blow against the absurdity of consensual crime:

…Italy’s national statistics office, will include estimated dealings from drugs, arms trafficking and prostitution in its GDP figures from now on…This move should increase Italy’s economy by at least 1.3 per cent in the first year, helping it to comply with EU rules on indebtedness, which limit member countries to spending no more than 3 per cent of their GDP…the calculation would also include revenues from contraband tobacco and alcohol…The Bank of Italy estimated the value of the criminal economy at 10.9 per cent of GDP in 2012…The move…is motivated by the EU’s desire to measure its member countries’ economies more closely…

Traffic Jam (TW3 #409)

community members carrying information and harm reduction supplies were threatened with arrest and were not allowed to communicate with sex workers…who had been…forcibly transported to Project ROSE…[which has] come under intense scrutiny because of a long list of rights violations…advocates from the Best Practices Policy Project and SWOP Phoenix traveled to the United Nations to raise concerns about these abuses to the Human Rights Committee…a group of social workers, Social Workers United for Justice, is petitioning the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) to “demand an end to Arizona State University School of Social Work’s involvement with Project Rose” because it violates socials work’s core professional principles…

Gorged With Meaning (TW3 #410) Alyssa Funke

Unfortunately, not every outed sex worker has Belle Knox’s incredible strength and resolve:

Nineteen-year-old Alyssa Funke…bought a shotgun, drove to her family’s boat, and killed herself there on April 14.  Students at her former high school had outed her as the star of a “casting couch” porn video, and her parents say the subsequent online harassment contributed to her suicide.  Funke…did her first and only porn video…earlier this year…Soon after the video went up, Funke  started getting nasty Twitter and Facebook messages from students at her former high school in Minnesota, calling her a slut and worse…Funke’s parents said she had long suffered from depression, but they believe the harassment…played a major role in her [suicide]…

Belle also wrote an open letter to Alyssa after hearing of her death.

Deafening Silence (TW3 #413)

discussion of whether the sex trade should be legalised [in China]…came to the fore…after Huang Haibo, a 39-year-old actor best known for his “nice everyman” roles, was arrested…for allegedly soliciting prostitutes…The news led to a surprising outpouring of sympathy on social media…after the crackdown in…Dongguan…[there were many] online comments like “Dongguan, hang in there” and “the public has your back”…

The Missing Word

Silly preacher, only politically-connected companies are allowed to do this:

A South Carolina pastor has been accused of turning his Bible College into a forced labor camp for foreign students.  Reginald Wayne Miller…made the teens toil for no or little pay for more than 50 hours a week while housing them in rooms without hot water, heating or air-conditioning.  He…threatened to revoke their student visas if they complained or failed to comply with his demands…Students reportedly told [federal] investigators that classes “were not real” and that the main focus of the school was to have them working full-time at its campus and Miller’s home…In 2006, [Miller] was…detained on charges of lewdness and prostitution for exposing himself to an undercover cop in a bathhouse…

Three Steps Back (TW3 #418)

A bill designed to help New Orleans police crack down on prostitution is headed to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s desk…The legislation…makes it illegal…to solicit money or rides with the intent to exchange it for sex acts.  Marjorie Esman [of the ACLU says the law]…does nothing that isn’t already covered by Louisiana law.  Esman also had problems with an earlier version…[that banned] solicitation for any purpose…which…would have effectively outlawed panhandling…the bill gives police a mechanism to [harass] suspected prostitutes…enough so they might move on…

The Mote and the Beam (TW3 #419)

The US House of Representatives passed all five of the “sex trafficking” bills before it; most of them are the usual political boondoggles, but one creates a “criminal advertising” crime to stack on people being railroaded for “sex trafficking”, and the most dangerous one allows the federal government to give even more money to local cops for sex work stings under the guise of “fighting sex trafficking”.  But the most shocking example of political hubris comes from Representative Randy Hultgren of Illinois, who seems to imagine that the U.S. Congress has the power to criminalize prostitution in foreign countries; he supports this with a lot of nonsense including the discredited Neumayer, Cho & Dreher report.

Blood on the Sand

[Vanessa] Stiviano…is now the subject of a criminal probe…[due to] accusations that Stiviano sought money from Sterling to stop her from releasing more recordings…Stiviano’s attorney has denied she leaked the recordings that set off the scandal, saying a friend did it without her permission.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 5,237 other followers