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Posts Tagged ‘law’

Apparently learning when to use a turn signal is twice as complicated as conducting an undercover operation that jeopardizes women’s lives.  –  Samantha Allen lowest depression graph

Bad Jobs

I’ll just point out that sex work is an “amusement and recreation service”.  So much for “PTSD” and “90% would quit if they could”:

A study published last month…suggests that some jobs have much higher rates of depression than others…the…authors calculated the incidence of depression across 55 industries.  The highest rate of depression (16.2 percent) was found among bus drivers.  The lowest (6.9 percent) was…among those in “amusement and recreation services,” a broadly defined group that includes the sports, fitness, and performing-arts industries…

Feminine Pragmatism 

Part-time casual prostitution to supplement meager earnings has been a fact of female existence since at least Roman times, so this is not anything remotely like “news”:

…salaries for Japan’s flight attendants have slumped significantly over the past decade…This has lead to some stewardesses engaging in [casual prostitution]…“Girls willing to do it with a pilot passed their number to a person who was effectively a female pimp,” says [one] stewardess….other stewardesses may take up part-time work as party companions or bar hostesses in Tokyo’s ritzy Ginza district…

The Pro-Rape Coalition

Have I told you lately how much I love Elizabeth Nolan Brown?

So I was going to ignore this silly study about how pornography is serving as a widespread “marriage substitute” for young American men.  But it just keeps popping up on my radar…the study actually found [that]…the more hours of pornography a young man watched, the less likely he was to have a spouse…bachelorhood makes watching a lot of porn…more possible…than it is for people living with a wife and family…and…married individuals are less likely to self-report ample pornography consumption…Correlation does not imply causation. And “low-cost sexual gratification” probably isn’t the end of civilization as we know it.

Meanwhile, over at Slate, Jordan Weissmann goes into even more detail about why the study is, in his words, “deeply silly”.  You will not be surprised to know that the “researchers” used data from the General Social Survey, whose unsuitability for questions of this nature I have noted before.

Above the Law 

They just can’t call it rape when the rapist is a cop, can they?  Especially if his victims are whores:  “A Dallas police officer has been arrested for…using his position…to force prostitutes to perform sexual acts…David Kattner…will be [given paid vacation]…pending the results of the…investigation…

The Notorious Badge Jamie Dornan

What is it with actors presuming to judge sexual minorities they make big bucks playing on screen?

Jamie Dornan went to a sex dungeon for work.  He was preparing to play Fifty Shades of Grey’s…Christian Grey, and…found it underwhelming.  “I went there, they offered me a beer, and they did…whatever they were into…Then going back to my wife and newborn baby afterwards… I had a long shower before touching either of them”…

Jamie, I’m sorry to hear that your prudish sex life is so boring.  I’ll leave you with a message from my friend, Mistress Matisse:

…Guess what?  There were happily married people at that party doing BDSM.  Some of them have children, too, just like you.  How dare you take a role as someone who does BDSM and then blatantly insult the very people who allowed you into their party and let you observe them in their intimate moments?…I think it’s a shame the makers of 50SOG didn’t cast someone more emotionally mature and more secure in his own sexuality than this.  Perhaps Mr. Dornan is more like the character of Christian Gray than he’d like to think…

Banishment

The continuing crusade to treat “sex offenders” as subhuman:

…A registrant in Florida won a three million dollar scratch-off lottery…Timothy Poole…[is the subject of a] hue and cry…that he should, by any means possible, be denied his winnings…because he is a SEX OFFENDER.  Florida has no prohibition against any convicted felon profiting from lottery winnings, not even SEX OFFENDERS.  I am currently making book that Florida’s next legislative session will see a bill introduced that will do just that…Mr. Poole, since his release from prison in 2006, has maintained a record as spotless as the proverbial driven snow…None of that quashed the flood of outrage or deterred the cesspool of nasty headlines, articles, and commentary as to why he should not receive the money and how inherently wrong it is for him to have won it to begin with…

Dirty Laundry (TW3 #337)

Sadistic Irish judges think it’s funny to rob sex workers and our associates and give their money to an organization dedicated to destroying our entire profession:

…Dublin road engineer [Thomas Lyons] rented an apartment for use as a brothel…[he] has been given a suspended jail sentence and ordered to pay over €10,000 to…Ruhama, an organisation which [profits from the harassment of sex workers]…

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #341)

A rare example of criminalization blowing up in the faces of “authorities”:

A prostitute won a landmark victory against police [when] an Oslo court…ruled that police were wrong to claim taxes for the money she had made selling sex…the court queried whether the state should tax income from prostitution, given that related activity such as pimping and human trafficking are crimes…

Property of the State

A new proposed bill in the Missouri state legislature would require women…seeking an abortion to get consent from the man who is the father of the child.  Exceptions are allowed in cases of rape or incest, but [not]…if the woman is in an abusive relationship…

Or, presumably, if she just doesn’t know who the father is.

Because We Say So (TW3 #421) poverty tourism

Next Generation Nepal (NGN) has launched its…report showing that…orphanages in Nepal contain over 15,000 children, yet at least two out of three…are not orphans…many…are being used as poverty commodities to raise money from well-intentioned but naïve fee-paying foreign volunteers and donors…almost 90 percent of “orphanages” in Nepal are located in the top five tourist districts for this reason…the growing global phenomenon of voluntourism…has the potential to…cause considerable harm…

The Mote and the Beam (TW3 #428)

Remember, consensual sex work is usually defined as “trafficking” in the US; this law would felonize the posting of an ordinary escort ad:

A state representative wants to make it a crime to post an ad on the internet if the person posting it knows it could result in human trafficking.  It could be an ad anywhere – on websites such as Craigslist or Backpage, or even on a gas station bathroom wall…House Bill 152 would make that person guilty of sexual trafficking of a child; a felony that carries a penalty of up to life in prison…[sponsor] Elijah Haahr…says the idea is based on the SAVE Act…

Safe Targets (TW3 #439)

the relationship between law enforcement and sex workers in Alaska has supposedly altered in recent years…[due to dogma pretending that] sex workers[are] victims who need to be rescued…[but] a new report by Tara Burns titled People in Alaska’s Sex Trade: Their Lived Experience and Policy Recommendations…found…that…the role of the police has not changed that much…the law has been used against people selling sex (who are said to be trafficking themselves)…”In none of the documents I’ve examined since the law’s inception,” Burns says in the report, “has it been used to benefit a victim”…women Burns surveyed and interviewed see the police as a threat…More than a quarter of the women surveyed said they had been sexually assaulted by police; 9 percent said they had been robbed or beaten…

Theatrics (TW3 #446)

On December 19…[a spam] text message [landed] on mobile phones of [about 300,000] users [in Kathmandu, Nepal].  The…message…read “young boys and girls are available for commercial sex inside the Kathmandu Valley” and asked the recipients to call certain numbers for further details…the message was being delivered by Terre des Hommes…whose website says “it works against child exploitation”…[the NGO] defended the message…[as] “part of its campaign to aware [sic] the general public about child exploitation and end commercial sexual exploitation of children”…

Marching Up Their Own Arses (TW3 #450)

For a change, many outside the demimonde recognize anti-whore douchebaggery for what it is:

The retired cop used to interfere in sex worker’s lives by arresting them, now he just ambushes them with cameras…sex workers…rightly call [reality show 8 Minutes] “vile,” “gross,” “terrifying,” and “exploitative”…[Kevin] Brown was profiled in the LA Timesas founder…of Safe Passage OC, a group with a website that looks like it was made in 1998 and a moral worldview from at least a hundred years earlier than that…Volunteers only need to “attend a 16-hour course”…about half as long as it takes to get a learner’s permit in the state of California…

A Year Later

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[Sex workers] can’t be slandered, apparently, because our status is THAT low.  –  Mistress Matisse

Out of Control

This was obvious to anyone who’s actually known any actual men, and whose mind is not fouled entirely with “social construction” dogma:

Priests’ vows of celibacy may have led to paedophilia, the Roman Catholic Church in Australia has said…A group advising the…Church on how to deal with thousands of cases of child sex abuse said celibacy may be psychologically damaging for some priests…The…conclusions were quickly dismissed by the Vatican…

Think of the Children! 

The statute under which these people were arrested defines “near” as 100 feet:  “Eleven people…were arrested and charged with prostitution near a school…[in] Memphis…the…arrests were all within a mile and a half from [any of several schools]…Thierry Schaffauser

Lack of Evidence

On December 16th…Thierry Schaffauser, founding member of STRASS, was distributing leaflets and condoms when he was arrested [in]…Paris…He was accused of having spoken to a sex worker.  Two plainclothes police officers then committed acts of violence against him including strangulation…He was handcuffed …and taken to the police station…without being able to request…a lawyer.  The sex worker he was talking to…was also arrested…Homophobic and racist remarks were made during the arrest, incl. “it is because of people like you that mamas bring in African women for prostitution in France”…

Welcome To Our World

Not the late actor, but rather the president of a fundamentalist Christian group:

…Tony Perkins [claims]…his fight against gay rights is necessary to prevent an economic crash and [is] no different than saving someone from a burning building…the Family Research Council president…told [the Faith & Liberty podcast]…that gay rights present such a grave “threat to religious liberty” that the movement for LGBT equality will inevitably lead to “a rapid downward spiral of our nation, including our economy”…Perkins insisted that his anti-gay activism is motivated by love for the gay community.  Just as an onlooker would try to wake up a person sleeping inside of a burning building, Perkins explained, he is simply trying to tell gay people about homosexuality’s destructive nature…

Whores know all about people who “love” us and want to “help” us by denying our basic human rights, criminalizing our lives and locking us up in state brainwashing centers.

The Pro-Rape Coalition

In which David Horsey un-ironically uses the phrase “women performing like whores” in a fact-free anti-porn rant:

…Thanks to the Internet, Americans have been pushed, unwittingly, into a vast social experiment testing whether unfettered access to the most freakish and foul pornography will warp sexual relations for generations to come…Raunchy actually does not begin to describe the things that any kid can find with a few search words and a couple of clicks…It’s a quick descent into an endless display of photographs and videos…dominated by perverse male fantasies of women performing like whores for men whose sexual techniques appear to have been learned in a prison cell…This is soul-disturbing stuff most human beings have never seen or experienced before…

Because obviously whores aren’t women.  Would-be censors are fond of claiming that online porn is “dominated” by extreme stuff, and that it’s easy to find, but try it yourself sometime.

Imaginary Crises

Women who tell outlandish rape tales undermine the credibility of all women:

In a now-infamous…story in Rolling Stone, disgraced journalist Sabrina Rubin Erdely asserted that at least five members of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity gang-raped a freshman named Jackie at a frat house party…The Washington Post’s reporting now suggests that Jackie fabricated huge swathes of her gory rape tale, and that Erdely abrogated her duty to properly investigate it…the number of completely fraudulent rape allegations made by women on American college campuses is far from trivial.  With very little effort at all, The Daily Caller has found eight twisted, totally false and especially astonishing rape hoaxes proffered over the years by female college students.  In each case, the cruel hoaxes were initially accepted as true.  In some cases, real lives were ruined…

Surplus Women 

A man obsessed with the Yorkshire Ripper brutally attacked a prostitute and planned to carry out more murders than his idol…David Parsons, 21, bought a claw hammer because it was Peter Sutcliffe’s weapon of choice and used it to repeatedly bludgeon a…call girl he lured to his flat…he was spooked by her screams and fled…[then] told police:  “I have just tried to kill someone”…The victim…suffered head injuries and…psychological damage…Parsons pleaded guilty to attempted murder…[but] showed no empathy or remorse…[saying] “She is a prostitute, I am not even bothered”…

Profit from Panic 

The Global Alliance Against Trafficking in Women (GAATW) recently released its annual peer reviewed publication, the Anti-Trafficking Review…[this year’s] theme…is “Following the Money: Spending on Anti-Trafficking“…The majority of funding dedicated to anti-trafficking initiatives is spent in either prevention or prosecution…there has been little research undertaken into the…effectiveness of funded anti-trafficking initiatives…whether a person is recognised as a “victim” or “migrant” is defined by the media, who are influenced by…political expediency…

Above the Law 

A Louisiana [cop]…has been arrested…[for groping] a woman during a traffic stop…Michael Dayne Selders…touched her breasts…and private areas and tried to kiss her lips…Selders let her leave, saying “don’t tell anyone about this”…Selders [pretended that]…the woman initiated a hug, but denied wrongdoing…he’s [been rewarded with] paid [vacation]…

Meanwhile, in Tennessee:

…Nashville [cop Jonathan Mays] was arrested…for raping a prostitute…The victim had gone to police in June…[and they]…constructed a [sting] to catch Mays in the act…Once confronted, Mays tried to deny having any previous involvement with the woman, but later confessed to the [previous] incident…

The Naked Emperor

Chase Madar’s article about the horrific consequences of the US obsession with policing sex is quite good on issues like “sex offender” registration and the War on Whores…yet breathes not one word about “sex trafficking” hysteria, despite its condemnation of the Satanic panic.

Shift in the Wind

A TED talk about sex worker rights is definitely a step forward:

The Public Eye

Changing the narrative about sex work and battling the stigma  associated with the adult industry are among the primary goals behind a series of events [last weekend]…the Seattle chapter of the Sex Worker Outreach Project…[held] a three-day sex-work symposium to educate the public about consensual sex work, advocate for sex-worker rights and build community among a diverse group of practitioners.  “I hope people who have heard that all sex workers are victims and all sex work is exploitative will see…the adult industry is vast, complex, diverse and not inherently exploitative,” said Savannah Sly…

Property of the State

a…Wisconsin…woman [was] arrested for drug use…brought to court and twice refused lawyers (even though her fetus was given one), and then sent to jail for 17 days, where she was placed in solitary confinement, denied prenatal care even as she began cramping, and not given her thyroid medication for two days…Tamara Loertscher…refused to submit to in-patient treatment because…she…had stopped using drugs.  She was then jailed for contempt of court…the state of Wisconsin then informed her that it considered her a child abuser, which will prevent Loertscher from ever working again in her profession, as a certified nurse’s aide…

Bread and Circuses

They must have threatened him with decades in prison to secure this deal:

[Eric “Red” Omuro]…pleaded guilty…to facilitating prostitution by running a website that allowed sex workers to advertise services…it was the first federal conviction of a website operator for facilitation of prostitution…MyRedbook…allowed users to post and respond to ads offering services including massage, stripping, domination and sex in San Francisco and throughout the West Coast…the website generated more than $5.4 million in revenue…Omuro…agreed to forfeit $1.28 million in cash and property and the domain names…

Schadenfreude (TW3 #429) 

At long last, Seattle’s The Stranger owns up to its part in promoting Chong Kim’s lies and the movie based on them:

…Mistress Matisse, a professional dominatrix and longtime Stranger contributor…sent an e-mail to her editors here in late June referring to a potential lawsuit.  “You’re getting this e-mail from me because I want some answers,” Matisse began. “I believe that…filmmakers Colin Plank and Megan Griffiths”—the producer and the director—”have perpetrated a fraud in their movie called Eden. Allegations have been made, and it’s time for them to either double down—or fess up.  And as The Stranger played a role in promoting the film, it’s appropriate that The Stranger play a part [in] the truth being told about it”…She [discussed] with a lawyer “the possibility of a class-action lawsuit against the makers of Eden“…[but his]  opinion was that “it would be difficult to prove damages, because the prevailing sentiment of the legal system more or less goes along with us being either helpless victims, as in the movie, or just plain criminals”…

The article debunks Kim’s tragedy porn in great detail, but that wasn’t actually very hard because her own published narratives of her supposed “exploitation” in sex work have grown dramatically in the past decade; had the filmmakers bothered to do even the slightest bit of research they would’ve known she was lying from square one.  But hey, the lies are only about whores and our clients, so it’s all good.

Surplus Women (TW3 #445)

Hong Kong was shocked by another brutal murder [of a sex worker]…as the half-naked body of a 15-year-old girl was discovered bound and gagged at a local dump – just weeks after a British banker was charged with the killing of two escorts…Kwok Wai-ming…had hands and legs bound together with plastic strips and adhesive tape and might have died during a sex game…the girl was involved in compensated dating…and also posed for nude pictures for money…Police have arrested a 34-year-old former clerical worker after analysing security camera footage from buildings in the area…

The Public Eye (TW3 #450)

Nick Clegg today backed Liberal Democrat MPs who are opposing a ban on a list of erotic acts being shown in porn because they have been judged “harmful”.  Three days after a face-sitting protest outside Parliament against new curbs on what can be shown in internet video porn, the Deputy Prime Minister said…the state should not invade the privacy of people’s bedrooms…

A Year Later

The headline makes it sound like “heavily regulated” rhetoric, but what they’re actually calling for is decriminalization:

The Canadian Public Health Association is calling on the government to regulate the sex industry…under existing occupational health and safety regulations…The testimony [leading up to the new law] laid bare a bitter divide…over whether prostitutes are victims or whether they are making a free and valid career choice.  The government considers prostitution a crime against women, and [pretends it can be] stamped out entirely…

That bit about a “bitter divide” is more prohibitionist nonsense; virtually no actual sex workers support client criminalization, and the ones who claim to are a tiny minority of ex-whores paid by prohibitionists to be human sock puppets.

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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on December 14th; I have modified it slightly for time references and to fit the format of this blog.

Canadian Supreme CourtA year ago tomorrow, the Supreme Court of Canada decriminalized prostitution in every part of the country with its ruling in Bedford vs. Canada, which struck down the criminal laws (very similar to those in the UK) which attempted to “control” and “discourage” the sale of sex by making it more difficult and dangerous.  Unfortunately, though the judges ruled the only way they could ethically rule under the circumstances, they still allowed themselves to be swayed by prudishness and deference to busybody ideas about government control of the personal lives of individuals:  they voluntarily stayed their own decision for one year to give the government time to cobble together some new, equally-indefensible, equally-vile law to replace those the court was striking down.  There’s little doubt that the resulting hot mess, The Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (or if you prefer something a bit less Orwellian, Bill C36), is merely a ridiculous rephrase of the rejected laws, combined with new, even more oppressive statutes, with the whole smothered in popular tinned Swedish sauce.  The government knows the law will never stand constitutional muster, and has known from the beginning; it simply didn’t care. The sole purpose of C36 was to delay the issue and “send a message”; even though it will certainly be struck down, that may take years, and the Conservatives will be out of power by then. In other words, they know they’ve lost and have now switched to a “long game” strategy, minimizing the political fallout by trying to ensure that the hot prostitution potato is in some other party’s lap next time the Supreme Court stops the music.  But Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne may have derailed that plan:

Just one day after a new and controversial federal prostitution law came into effect, the premier of Ontario is calling on her attorney general to look at the “constitutional validity” of the law…Kathleen Wynne said she is gravely concerned the new law will not protect sex workers or communities.  Wynne has asked Attorney General Madeleine Meilleur to advise her on the options available to the province, should it be found that the legislation’s constitutionality is in question…Wynne’s comments come as more than 60 organizations, including the Canadian AIDS Society and John Howard Society, demand the new laws be scrapped.  Now Magazine, an alternative publication in Toronto, has also said it will defy the new law, and continue to run advertisements by sex workers…Supporters of the new rules [pretend] the law will help reduce demand for prostitution…

Chronicle Herald editorial cartoon 7-9-14 by Bruce McKinnonBut even police state functionaries know that it will do no such thing; one cop interviewed in the Edmonton Sun said, “At best, it’ll be useless…at worst, it will make things worse than the old law.”  Politicians like Joy Smith are either entirely dishonest or entirely delusional when they call for the censorship and suppression of those who reveal the facts about prohibition and debunk prohibitionists’ propaganda and outright lies; fortunately, however, they are in the minority.  Most of the Canadian media and academia, and a large fraction of the population, understand that threatening people with violence and caging for consensual behavior is an abomination, and it’s inevitable that laws that enable such tyranny eventually go the same way as laws criminalizing BDSM, homosexuality, masturbation and other private sexual behaviors in which the government has no legitimate interest.

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

License to Rape 

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

Really Cheap Whores

The phrase “incredibly unprofessional” comes to mind:

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

Welcome To Our World (February Updates)

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

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

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

Gateway

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

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

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

Business Opportunity

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

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

Forward and Backward

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

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic 

Paging Dr. David Ley:

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

Hark, Hark, the Dogs Do Bark snakeskin pumps

Yet another study proving that the sky is blue:

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

Against Their Will (TW3 #3)

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

The Widening Gyre 

And it all happened without anyone noticing!

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

The Truth About “The Truth About…”

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

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

Skin To Skin

Checklist

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

Banishment

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

Hollow Claims (TW3 #338)

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

Remembrance 

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

Marching Up Their Own Arses (TW3 #349)

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

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

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

Legal Is As Legal Does (TW3 #401)

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

Gorged With Meaning (TW3 #422) Laura Pahomova

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

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

The Law of Averages (Traffic Updates) 

Another example of That Age as cultic totem:

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

I Saw My Brain (TW3 #433)

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

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

The Public Eye (TW3 #439) face sitting

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

Think of the Children! (TW3 #445) 

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

Prudesville (TW3 #448)

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

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

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Dr. Paul Maginn is an Associate Professor of Urban Planning at the University of Western Australia; he is the co-editor and co-author of several chapters in the recently published book (Sub)Urban Sexscapes:  Geographies and Regulation of the Sex Industry.  I asked him to comment on his book and explain why a planner & geographer is so interested in sex work.

Suburban SexscapesAt social events whenever we meet someone new for the first time it can be guaranteed that they will ask, “So, what do you do for a living?”  In the past, my stock response was generally:  “I’m an academic…an urban planner”!  The stock replies to this usually range from:  “Oh! What does that mean?” to “Oh, that’s nice! I have to go now because there’s my friend over there”.  You see, being an academic doesn’t seem to capture too many non-academic peoples’ attention.  So nowadays, when I’m asked what I do for a living I say:  “I’ll give you three guesses”.  I do this because it’s a good way to sustain conversation, it can be fun, and it’s a way of testing people’s perception of oneself.

Invariably, posing this question to people seems to immediately get their imaginations racing; it’s something of a “loaded” question, after all.  Hence, people start to think that you do something weird, exciting, dangerous or risqué for a living.  Whilst I was in my hometown of Belfast, Northern Ireland, in July 2013 I had the pleasure of meeting up with activist Laura Lee, who was on tour at the time.  We were sitting outside a well-known bar having a drink when a woman and her adult nephew, out celebrating the latter’s birthday, asked if they could sit at our table.  Of course, being sociable creatures we said, “Sure, no problems!  But you may want to avert your ears because of our conversation”.  They laughed and insisted that they were big enough not to be offended by whatever we were discussing.

Sure enough, this being Belfast, the nephew turned to us shortly after sitting down and said: “So what do yous’ do for a living?”  Laura and I looked at one another, smirked and replied:  “We’ll give you three guesses!”  Then without skipping a beat Laura replied in her Dublin burr:  “I’m a professional dominatrix!”  The nephew was dumbfounded, even more so when Laura presented him with her business card.  He excitedly asked if he could keep the card, adding quickly, “Not that I want to book you or anything”.  Then he looked me up and down and asked, “Are you in porn?”  Laura Lee can testify on a Sisters of Mercy bible that this actually happened!  I replied:  “Close, but no cigar.  I’m not in porn.  But, I’m into porn!”  I qualified this by explaining that I was an academic planner who researched the geographies and regulation of the sex industry and was working on a book on the subject.

So, what do planners and planning have to do with the sex industry? When commercial forms of sex – street- or brothel-based sex work; adult entertainment (e.g. stripping, lap-dancing or pornography); BDSM services; and sex shops, novelty stores or erotic boutiques – manifest they require spaces or premises to operate from.  This is where planning and zoning come into play.  Put simply, planning is concerned with trying to create “orderly” spaces by ensuring that there is a place for everything, and that everything is in its place via zoning.  Planners basically use rationality and technical skills to ascertain whether or not certain land-uses should permitted; however, when commercial sex premises are presented for planning/zoning approval they are often hijacked and held for political and moral ransom by politicians and others who often vehemently object to such proposals, even when such land-uses are perfectly legal.

It is this politicisation of planning and the wider politics and political rhetoric that tend to surround commercial sex industry activities that particularly interest me as an academic.  I’ve done some work looking at how state politicians in Western Australia (WA) have framed sex work in the wake of proposals to introduce legislation to regulate street- and brothel-based sex work.  In short, the political debates here in WA (and elsewhere in Australia for that matter) tend to be informed and dominated by moral arguments as opposed to evidence.  The same also applies to Northern Ireland, which recently passed the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Bill.  This Bill, when it finally receives Royal Assent, will see the introduction of the so-called Swedish Model of regulation of sex work.

There has been a fervent (some might say unhealthy) over-interest by governments, certain religious organisations and some branches of the feminist movement, in the sex lives of citizens.  Such over-interest has spurred the introduction (or efforts to introduce) legislation designed to exclude sex shops, curtail the number of strip clubs, prevent people from downloading “extreme porn” and criminalising the purchaser of sex services.  I am not suggesting for one minute that there should be no regulation of the different sectors of the sex industry, and neither do the various sex workers I know.  But recent efforts to regulate different forms of sex work are akin to using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.  It also seems fairly clear from observing proceedings in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Canada, for example, that politicians have little regard for the nuanced evidence on sex work and the “Swedish model”. I mean, who needs evidence when you have blind faith on your side?

Moreover, they seem to have contempt for the real experts in the field – sex workers – and a fixation that sex work is populated only by “fallen women” in need of “rescue”.  But sex work is a highly complex form of labour that takes places in a variety of spaces – streets, cars, bars, hotels, casinos, brothels, houses/apartments and the internet – and involves people who identify as female, male transgender and intersectional, who are straight, queer and bisexual, and who come from a range of nationalities and ethnic backgrounds.  Whilst sex is obviously a key facet of the transactional relationship between sex workers and clients, there is much more to sex work than just sex.

If governments were sincere about reducing harm to sex workers, their efforts would be better placed on protecting the human and workplace rights of sex workers.  As we know, banning, prohibiting or over-taxing particular goods and services (e.g. alcohol, tobacco, drugs, pornography and diesel) merely creates alternative unregulated markets which are often controlled by criminal elements; they thus represent a loss of tax revenue for governments and pose a higher risk to people (the very thing that governments claim they want to reduce).  Government regulation of the sex industry needs to be measured, pragmatic and evidence-based; policies premised on stereotypes, religious beliefs and moral superiority do more harm than good and result in unintended consequences.

So, next time you’re at a party, a wedding, Bar Mitzvah or funeral and you happen to bump into an urban planner why not say to them:  “Let’s talk about sex”?  I’m sure you’ll make their day, but be sure to clarify what you mean if you want to avoid them thinking that you’re coming on to them. 

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More city business was transacted at Lou’s than at City Hall.  –  Bill Speidel

Since I spent much of last month only a few blocks from the building which once housed her Seattle brothel, and was so welcomed by the city she helped build, it seems fitting that I should pay tribute to the life and legacy of Lou Graham (February 9, 1857 – March 11, 1903), the city’s most famous madam.  As with most whores, there is a great deal of inconsistency and misinformation involved in her story; however, in Graham’s case it mostly surrounds her death rather than her life.

As Thaddeus Russell explains in A Renegade History of the United States, the reason so many western states gave women the right to vote long before the eastern ones (or the country in general) had absolutely nothing to do with high-minded egalitarianism and everything to do with pragmatism and arse-kissing.  You see, frontier populations are always disproportionately male because they tend to lack the sort of amenities “good” women tend to want.  Accordingly, frontier towns fill up with lonely young men desperate for female company and usually possessed of money drawn from whatever industry the town is built on (whether that be mining, trapping, trade or whatever).  Naturally, whores arrive to capitalize on this and so the minority of frontier populations which are female are usually made up largely of working girls.  These ladies soon amass a disproportionate share of the wealth, and madams tend to become fabulously wealthy; in order to win their favor (the better to secure donations and investment in civic projects), city fathers all over the western US granted them suffrage.  Seattle did this on November 23rd, 1883 and almost immediately regretted it; by the time the city had actually granted suffrage, the whores had been outnumbered by recently-arrived “good” women, who immediately repaid the “bad” sisters who had won the vote for them by electing “progressive” prohibitionists to enact new laws (and vigorously enforce old ones) restricting saloons, brothels, gambling and other “vices”.  The result, naturally, was a dramatic loss of tax and license revenue, and by the time women’s suffrage was revoked by judicial fiat in 1887-88 the city’s finances were in shambles.

Lou GrahamEnter Dorothea Georgine Emile Ohben of Germany, a not-especially-beautiful 31-year-old whore gifted with charm, a gift for persuasion and business savvy.  She approached a banker named Jacob Furth, and with his help convinced a number of local businessmen to invest in a truly world-class brothel staffed with beautiful, charming, educated women.  Though the building she purchased (at the corner of Third and Washington) burned down in the Great Seattle Fire of June 6, 1889, she had already made enough money in her first year of business to rebuild immediately in stone; it was, in fact, the first building to re-open after the fire.  Some say that the pleasures of her house were free to government officials, but whether that was true or not it is certain that she had considerable influence on the political class; though the area’s weird aversion to sex was already in evidence and resulted in periodic “vice crackdowns”, these never lasted long and Graham was always back in business practically overnight.  The one instance in which she was actually arrested resulted in the political downfall of Henry White, the “reform” mayor who had presided over the police operation in question.

Unlike some of the other madams I’ve discussed, Graham was far from shortsighted; she fully realized that the political climate might change at any time, resulting in the extinction of her business.  So she invested heavily in the stock market and made a killing; on top of that, she made high-interest loans for business ventures that the city’s conservative bankers would not back, but which her friend and business associate Jacob Furth nevertheless felt were good risks.  Many of the wealthy Seattle families who nowadays support prohibitionism and finger themselves furtively to “sex trafficking” fantasies enjoy fortunes founded on loans drawn from funds paid for sex…in other words, from the “avails of prostitution”.  And that makes them, in the modern view, the descendants of indirect “pimps”.  Indeed, given that a very large and publicly-announced deposit from Graham saved the Puget Sound National Bank (Furth’s institution) from a bank run during the Panic of 1893, it could also be said that everyone who has profited from investment in said bank for the past century was also a beneficiary of the “wages of sin”.

Lou Graham obit Seattle Post-Intelligencer 3-12-1903None of this is controversial, but the end of her life (and its aftermath) is another matter.  After yet another ridiculous “morality” crusade resulted in the closure of her brothel in December 1902, Graham suddenly decided not to bother re-opening in Seattle; she instead took off for San Francisco the following month, apparently intending to start up again there.  Less than two months later she was dead, of causes that have never been adequately explained.  Her obituary listed the cause as a perforated ulcer, possibly aggravated due to nerves brought on by her repeated harassment.  A popular rumor of the time said it was actually suicide, and proponents of the “drug addict whore” and “diseased whore” myths favor the explanations of drug overdose and syphilis, respectively.  Another odd point is that she appears to have died intestate, surely an unlikelihood for a woman so careful with business matters; the Seattle Times reported that there had been a will, but that it was torn to shreds during a violent argument between Lou and Amber Delmas the night before Lou died.  Amber was described as her “housekeeper”, but it seems virtually certain that the two were lesbian partners; Amber had assisted Lou in running her business for years and accompanied her to San Francisco, and the general belief is that the destroyed will originally named Amber’s daughter Ulna as the chief heir.  The daughter soon became the victim of a custody battle between her mother and busybodies who wanted to “rescue” her; the latter won (as they still do today) and the girl was placed in what was described as a “good home”.  Lou’s $200,000 fortune ($5.1 million today) was claimed by relatives from Germany, but a court (perhaps conveniently) ruled against them and instead gave the money to the King County School District; despite this, not one single school was named for her (because obviously sex radiation lasts long after death).  In some ways, the United States was a very different place a century ago, but when it comes to the incredible hypocrisy of politicians (especially Washington politicians) toward sex workers, it seems absolutely nothing has changed at all.

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Even when we understand that memories can be altered, or even fabricated…the truth is difficult to accept; after all, our memories certainly seem permanent, and we might like to believe that things we have forgotten have merely been mislaid, like old VHS tapes consigned to a box at the back of a closet and covered with old clothes.  –  “Mind-witness Testimony

If you haven’t yet read my research paper, “Mind-witness Testimony”, you really ought to; it expands at much greater length and in much greater detail on the themes I discussed in “Imagination Pinned Down” and “I Disbelieve It!”, mocked in “Mulberry Street” and mentioned in passing in “Traffic Jam”, “The Swedish Cult”, “That Old Black Magic”, “Mumbo Jumbo” and many other places.  The Reader’s Digest version is:

…The human mind doesn’t passively record events as a camera does; memory is an active and dynamic process which retains information by fitting it into schemata, mental frameworks which shape our thinking and give meaning to perceptions…The same psychological mechanism which causes us to find pictures in Rorschach’s inkblots also causes us to fit memories into the complex web of schemata by which we interpret the world.  And just as we ignore those topological elements of a cloud or inkblot which do not fit the meaning our minds have imposed upon it, so do we forget or distort elements of a memory which fail to conform to the schema in which we have embedded it, or even invent elements which were not in reality present, but which the schema predicts should be…The human mind often completely fabricates memories in order to impose conformity with one’s weltanschauung.  One simple example involves police lineups:  people will often identify the man whom police imply (subtly or overtly) is their preferred suspect because they believe police to be expert assessors of guilt who would never implicate someone falsely, and this schema of police authority and infallibility actually shapes their memories, sometimes to the point of identifying a person who is later proven to look absolutely nothing like the actual criminal…

Lancashire witchesIn witch hunts of both the classic and modern varieties, hypersuggestible people such as children, the mentally ill, the emotionally needy or the severely traumatized can be induced to “remember” all sorts of fantastic things which are not even physically possible, much less grounded in actual events; when they repeat these “memories” in court (or in front of audiences hungry for “sex trafficking” narratives) they are not lying in the strict sense, but merely playing back a script that was written into their memories by processes such as suggestion, group polarization, stereotypic conformation, guided imagination, abusive interrogation tactics and others discussed in my paper.  Though the concept of “recovered memory” has been discredited and most reasonably-well-informed people understand its role in driving the Satanic panic, few have yet connected the dots to recognize “sex trafficking” narratives as produced by the same processes.  However, as the public begins to recognize driving the Satanic panic, few have yet connected the dots to recognize “sex trafficking” narratives as produced by the same processes.  However, as the public begins to recognize the fallibility of human memory, it’s inevitable that outlandish, evidence-free stories such as those told by Somaly Mam, Chong Kim and Theresa Flores will be treated with greater skepticism.  And though it’s a slow process, that knowledge is indeed growing; witness, for example, this treatment of a new resurgence of the “Satanic cult abuse” myth:

…two [Scottish] charities…Break the Silence and…Izzy’s Promise, believe satanic [sic] abuse to be rife in Scotland and that it has been for decades.  They say children are forced to take part in satanic [sic] rituals involving the sacrifice of babies and the making of snuff movies….it appears highly likely that…these claims are based upon “recovered memories”.  As I have written in the past in these pages, the use of various dubious techniques…aimed at recovering allegedly repressed memories of childhood sexual abuse can often produce detailed and horrific false memories.  In fact, there is a consensus among scientists studying memory that traumatic events are more likely to be remembered than forgotten, often leading to posttraumatic stress disorder…The sad truth is that we have been here before.  [Satanic fantasies of the early ’90s]…were remarkably similar to those now…

Nor is the skepticism limited to a few reporters discussing horror stories any sane person could recognize as false:

Memory, as experts have been trying to teach judges and jurors, does not function like an iPhone camera recording. Memories can not only be deleted; they can be altered or invented without you even realizing it, as shown in a study published last year in the International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, which involved 861 U.S. soldiers enrolled in a survival school.  As part of training, they endured abusive interrogations.  Afterward, many were shown a photo of someone who looked nothing like their interrogator, and interviewers insinuated that the person depicted was the culprit.  Eighty-four percent of the soldiers misidentified their interrogators after being misled, and some also remembered weapons or telephones that never existed.  An extensive body of research with similar findings has become increasingly perplexing for the nation’s judicial systems, leading the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to release a sweeping report last month calling for an overhaul of how the courts and law enforcement deal with one of the most powerfully persuasive pieces of evidence that can sway a jury:  eyewitness identification.  Research has shown that leading questioning or suggestive behavior by psychiatrists, police or acquaintances, as well as accounts in the media, can result in “planting” false memories in the mind of a witness.  In some cases, this can lead witnesses to believe they saw incidents that never occurred…Unsettling as it might be to admit it, the mind is really a muddle of distorted memory associations, further complicated by the distracting details of the moment.  For most of our country’s judicial history, this understanding has been largely absent from courtrooms, but a string of shocking cases across the world over the past three decades has ushered in debate, discussion and, finally, the revamping of…laws on the issue…

Belief in the infallibility of memories, especially traumatic memories, is deeply ingrained, and prosecutors will not be happy about the replacement of easily-manipulated crime victim testimony with more indelible and objective forms of evidence.  But sooner or later, the facts must win and eyewitness testimony uncorroborated by physical evidence will be tossed into the rubbish-bin of history along with trial by ordeal and, one would hope, confessions obtained by torture.  Moral panics will periodically bedevil humanity for at least another several thousand years, but perhaps our children’s children will no longer have to endure trials and laws based on nothing but the incredible and unsubstantiated narratives of self-professed victims. Salem accusation

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