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Posts Tagged ‘left-right myth’

Sex work can be dangerous; but those dangers are exacerbated, or in many cases even created, by criminalisation.  -  Jean Urquhart

Something Rotten in Sweden (December Updates) Maxine Doogan

sex workers [protested] a San Francisco anti-trafficking panel discussion…about “Discouraging Demand”…[including] the “John School”…Maxine Doogan…[of] the Erotic Service Providers Union…[said] “Using the term ‘john’ to describe our clients is like using the N-word…It’s a derogatory means of dehumanizing the customers.”  Law enforcement efforts that go after clients ultimately increase risks for sex workers, she continued.  “Any criminalization of our customers is going to bring us more violence”…Doogan also cited the Supreme Court of Canada’s landmark decision…striking down…anti-prostitution laws that the justices unanimously agreed were…dangerous…

For Those Who Think Legalization is a Good Idea

the law which regulates sex work in India today [is] the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act (ITPA), 1956.  This does not criminalise sex work per se, but, as the Lawyers’ Collective that works for sex workers’ rights points out, it results in “de facto criminalisation through prohibition of soliciting, brothel and street work”, and this “has effectively undermined sex workers’ ability to claim protection of law”…Often sex workers are evicted from the only roof they had with their children in the name of “closing down brothels”…[the avails law] criminalises…their children as soon as they cross the age of 18, and old parents and younger siblings who many sex workers support.  However…“The criminalisation of soliciting is one of the most obvious legal problems…Sex workers are arrested even when they’re not soliciting”…

Against Their Will

This has a few irksome passages, but it’s probably much more palatable to rescue industry types than the way most sex worker rights activists might express it:

…Imagine someone flying across the country to pick up an individual they only recently met.  They are removed from everything they have ever known.  Then they’re placed in a home where they can’t have contact with anyone in the outside world.  Sounds much like trafficking?  It also sounds like a rescue…More often than not the story of Captain Save a Ho and the “fair maiden” ends with the girl running out as friends console the rescuer saying, “You did the best you could”…“She had too many problems”…or “Maybe she was wounded beyond repair”…The term “rescue” naturally implies that a person is incapable of helping themselves, and sometimes this is true…but the effects of being rescued can leave a lasting emotional mark on the survivor, which is difficult to overcome in the new life…

Saving Them From Themselves arrested teen girl

[Virginia] police say a teenager is facing child pornography charges after allegedly tweeting nude pictures of herself…The teen’s phone was confiscated for evidence, and she was charged with one count of distribution of child pornography…this could end up…with jail time…investigators say they are seeing a surge in these types of cases because teens see it as harmless sexting.

How dare they form their own opinions!  Only “authorities” have the right to determine what is harmless, and teens must be taught that by the infliction of much more severe harm.

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic

David Ley…and colleagues conducted a review [showing]…only 27 percent…of articles on porn addiction contain…actual data, while [most suffer from]…poor experimental designs, [low] methodological rigor and lack of model specification…The review…found very little evidence — if any at all — to support…the purported negative side effects…There was no sign pornography was connected to erectile dysfunction, or that it caused any [brain] changes…people reporting “addiction” are more likely to…have a non-heterosexual orientation …high libido…and…religious values that conflict with their sexual behavior and desires…the research team said pornography might improve attitudes toward sexuality…increase quality of life…and…provide…a legal outlet for illegal sexual behaviors or desires, and its consumption or availability has been associated with a decrease in sex offenses, especially child molestation…

Coincidentally, Dr. Ley also appears in “Horns” below.

Above the Law

The lengths to which prosecutors and reporters will go to avoid saying “rape” when the rapist is a cop are nothing short of amazing:

Sorrento Police Chief Earl Theriot admits he committed sex acts with an unresponsive woman…and now faces a federal sentence for lying to the FBI about it…Theriot…placed her in the front seat of his police vehicle and took her to his office where he “engaged in…sexual contact with her”…

And in Hawaii,

[Alexandria Gregg]…is suing the…department of public safety and [prison warden] Neal Wagatsuma…for…[sexually] shaming…her and other female inmates…“During open public meetings of male and female detainees…Wagatsuma repeatedly forced…[female inmates] to stand at a podium and speak about their private, intimate and traumatizing sexual experience”…the warden ordered [them] to elaborate on…incidents of rape as well as sexual preferences.  The public questionings were videotaped by male detainees…“Typically, the detainees selected for filming were young attractive women”…Press Freedom Index

Pyrrhic Victory

Presented with minimal comment: the US continues its descent in the press freedom index; it is now just below Papua New Guinea and Romania, and just above Haiti and Niger.

Naked Truth

A good article by Melissa Gira Grant on the real effects of political crusades against sex work.  Note that though Salon chose to point fingers at “the right” in its headline, the article itself makes no false partisan distinctions:

…Super Bowl lent the excuse for New York and New Jersey…to step up their routine anti-prostitution policing, in anticipation of an increased demand for commercial sex that, in Super Bowls past, has never been borne out.  NYPD’s vice unit coordinator Anthony Favale doesn’t even seem to mind that the hype is just that, telling Time, ”I don’t know if the increased number [of prostitutes] is a legend or not, but I am exploiting the opportunity”…Long before the media turned the Super Bowl into a…story of violence and exploitation…people engaged in the sex trade have been documenting…all the ways anti-prostitution policing pits them against law enforcement and puts them at risk when they need help…

Sex Work is Work

Sometimes the absurdity of the idea of consensual crime is blatantly obvious:

The European Union is [finally] enforcing laws which…require countries to estimate how much cash changes hands on their black markets.  Those figures will be taken into account when calculating national GDP and allocating the £120-billion Brussels budget.  EU officials say the change will ensure consistent economic comparisons between member states.  As prostitution and drug use is legal in some member states – like the Netherlands – officials say it’s only fair for other states to acknowledge those activities in their national accounts.  Prostitution in the UK is expected to be valued at £3 billion a year, and drug dealing at around £7 billion…

Train Wreck (TW3 #48)

An…NGO, Society Against Prostitution and Child Labour in Nigeria (SAP-CLN), in collaboration with Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) have elected to embark on a controversial campaign to rid Nigeria’s capital city of prostitutes…armed soldiers and police…run amok…[victims are charged] N5,000 each [about $30.50 US]…those [with] the money [are] released instantly [but] others [are held overnight to see a] magistrate…SAP-CLN has many [lawsuits] hanging on its neck [over this]…and…the… Dorothy Njemanze Foundation…has called on the Federal Government to stop SAP-CLN…The group said many female students …employees… shoppers and even married women have been brutalised and abducted…

Original Sin (TW3 #321)

Dr. Brooke Magnanti on the evangelical underpinnings of “sex trafficking” myth:

The scandal of counsellors in “crisis clinics” that claim to offer “abortion support” claiming that terminations can cause breast cancer and women to become child sexual abusers was exposed this week…The vast majority of such “clinics” in the UK…are run by…Christian Action Research and Education (CARE)…the secretariat for the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade.  This APPG aims to promote the so-called Swedish Model…It’s been revealed over and over again how far left second wavers are beholden to anti-homosexuality, anti-trans, anti-sex work and anti-abortion interests, yet many people refuse to acknowledge the truth…I think Pee Wee Herman says it best…


Deafening Silence

Time bravely denounces police violence against sex workers!  But only in China, of course; American anti-whore police violence is A-OK:

…A 6,000-strong [police] force reportedly raided 12 hotels and entertainment venues in Dongguan] leading to 67 arrests — 90-odd cops for each of the alleged perpetrators.  Two police chiefs were later suspended, according the South China Morning Post… “Swept Away: Abuses Against Sex Workers in China“…documented torture, beatings, physical assaults, arbitrary detentions and fines.  Another report, by Asia Catalyst, found that escaping custody meant paying bribes.  Periodic “busts” focus on shaming women, not stemming the trade.  In a now-notorious 2010 case, Dongguan officials publicly paraded male and female suspects, barefoot and handcuffed, through the street…But…China’s netizens know where the real shame lies…“clean [up] your so called police troops, that’s what people really want to see” [said commenters]…“Arrest 67 officials [instead]“…

Between the Ears (TW3 #322)

Once again:  female sexual desire has nothing to do with blood flow, to the genitalia or anywhere else:

…a pill dubbed “female Viagra”…containing an extract from French pine bark called pycnogenol, goes on sale this month…[under the name] Lady Prelox…The manufacturer…claims its product “boosts libido and increases arousal in women”, because it “encourages blood flow to the reproductive organs as well as the brain”…

Torture Chamber

the Dutch justice ministry announced the planned closing of…19 prisons…[due to] a continued decline in crime rates.  Additionally, those who are convicted are choosing electronic tagging instead of incarceration.  This allows people to go back to work and continue as productive members of society. It also saves about $50,000 per year per person…

Horns

B0000351 Human sperm showing exceptional sperm countFrom an evolutionary perspective, the idea that a guy would take pleasure from watching his wife with another man is counterintuitive.  Historically, men have gone to great lengths to avoid being “cuckolded”…fear of cuckoldry…shaped how our male ancestors approached sexual relationships and, to this day, is…the reason men tend to get more jealous…about…sexual infidelity than women…Increasingly, scientists favor a biological explanation based on a growing body of work on sperm competition.  Research shows that when one woman mates with several men, those men can display behavioral and biological changes intended to increase their likelihood of fertilizing her egg…David Ley…[thinks it’s related to] displaying…one’s sexy wife [as] a status symbol…

Innocence Never Had

More truthful headline: “Underage Sex Worker Murdered in Yorba Linda

A 17-year-old girl found stabbed to death in…Yorba Linda [California]…was a victim of human trafficking…about two weeks before she was killed…Officers identified Aubreyanna Sade Parks as a victim of human trafficking during a crackdown on prostitution in Santa Ana….Parks was turned over to county social service workers…[and] taken to a shelter but walked out in the following days…Larry Soo Shin [has been arrested for the murder]…

It’s bad enough that criminalization almost certainly contributed to this young woman’s death; do they really need to erase her agency in an attempt to increase that criminalization for living sex workers?

The Public Eye (TW3 #403)

Considering it’s in an Irish newspaper, this is nothing short of amazing:

…Watching [Northern Ireland’s justice committee] in action, you could very well be back in Salem in the final years of the 17th century…Laura…Lee’s treatment was so bad that she has registered a complaint with the Assembly…Lee does much of her sex work with terminally ill and disabled men, offering them a discount from her normal rate…In one of the most repulsive parts of the hearing, Paul Givan asked her, “Why would you exploit a disabled individual and make him pay?”, as though Lee was targeting defenceless men and entrapping them into having sex with her…[these] posturing men…clearly fancy themselves as grand inquisitors, when in reality they mistake boorishness and stupid sneering for incisive interrogation.  It is [they], not…Laura Lee, who should be ashamed of themselves.

Catastrophic Consequences (TW3 #406) Jean Urquhart

MSP Jean Urquhart did something extraordinary this week:

Jean has criticised Edinburgh’s decision to delicense its saunas and massage parlours, and called for a debate on decriminalising sex work in order to improve safety and decrease stigma.  Her intervention has been praised by…SCOT-PEP as “courageous”…Jean highlighted calls from sex workers’ organisations for full decriminalisation, as practiced in New Zealand since 2003…

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I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.  -  James Madison

Ben Franklin Day We Fight BackMadison was, of course, exactly correct.  Those sick enough to seek power over others are never satisfied with the amount they have; they are driven to constantly seek more, to gradually push the boundaries of what they are allowed to do like the camel in the proverb.  The United States was founded on libertarian (at the time they were called “liberal”) principles, but in the process of getting the country started far too many exceptions and loopholes were allowed in those principles; the most egregious of these was chattel slavery, an evil whose legacy is still contributing to the decay of liberty a century and a half after it was abolished.  In the name of “safety”, “public order”, the “greater good” and other such vague nonentities, the rights of individuals have been eroded gradually and silently since the latter half of the nineteenth century, until there are precious few left (and those are cracked and pitted almost beyond recognition).  Even the principle of self-ownership, the one upon which all the others (and the very principle of democracy) depend, still exists in name only; armed thugs have been granted the power to inflict violence upon virtually anyone for virtually any reason (or even for no reason), to break into the private homes of peaceful citizens without warning, and to sexually and/or medically violate anyone’s bodily integrity on pretexts that even the Inquisition might have found flimsy.  Throughout all of it the American people, mesmerized by propaganda of imaginary hobgoblins, have allowed encroachment after encroachment, abrogation upon abrogation, while licking the boots of the overlords and thanking them for the privilege.

I want you to stop being afraidBut those overlords forgot one thing:  though Americans have degenerated into a race of spineless weaklings, they are as prudish as they ever were (if not more so).  While they are as willing as ever to celebrate the mistreatment of people they can rationalize as being not like them (racial or sexual minorities, drug users, etc), they don’t like the idea of being seen naked or having their sexual secrets exposed.  So while the news of each new excess of the police state for the past several decades has been greeted by the majority with yawns or even cheers, Edward Snowden’s revelations exposed an aspect of it that offended Americans’ Puritanical sensibilities.  Costumed goons murdering, abducting, destroying and pillaging was of no consequence, but now that they’ve been caught peeking through a hole into the girls’ locker room the peasants are ready to form a lynch mob.  To be sure, the most broken and lost of the mob have aimed their anger at Snowden; they blame him for making it impossible for them to continue on in blissful ignorance.  But a greater number are at last directing that anger where it belongs: at the police state.  Today there’s a protest against mass surveillance going on, and this column is a part of it.  I fear it’s far too little decades too late, and that the majority will go obediently back to sleep as soon as the President assures them that he’s “doing something” about it; however, I will continue to fight for freedom and justice as long as there is breath in my body, and while the masses are aroused I think we need to keep shouting at them in the forlorn hope that they may have finally reached the limit of their tolerance for oppression.

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One of the hallmarks of a panic is that you don’t realize it’s a panic when you’re in the middle of it.  -  Debbie Nathan

Dan and Fran KellerTwenty years after the end of the Satanic Panic, its last few victims are finally being released from prison and in some cases even declared innocent, an extraordinary measure because it requires an organ of the State declaring that its predecessor was not only wrong, but committed a grave injustice.  In just the past few months we’ve seen the release of the San Antonio Four and Fran and Dan Keller; only one more victim of a strictly-Satanic case remains in prison, Frank Fuster in Florida.  There were, however, other hysteria-tinged cases near the end of the panic whose prosecutors avoided “Satanic” language because they saw the writing on the wall, and some of those victims (like Joseph Allen of Ohio) are still slowly dying in cages.  From the safe distance of a generation, reporters – some of whom are young enough to have been peers of the children forced by cops, prosecutors, and other fanatics to make horrible accusations – are now writing stories confidently declaring that the ritual abuse never happened and branding the hysteria a “witch hunt”.  But while I obviously agree with them, I find it both sad and telling that not a one of these reporters so smugly declaring their predecessors gullible have dared to denounce their generation’s revival of the panic, “sex trafficking” hysteria.  Last week, Slate published a column on the Kellers (and the panic in general) entitled “The Real Victims of Satanic Ritual Abuse”, and I’d like to share an excerpt with you.  I don’t think you’ll need much imagination to see how this applies equally well to the current popular hysteria, but to help you I’ve replaced words like “Satanists” with more general terms like “conspirators” [in brackets]:

…Why did psychotherapists and investigators conclude that these fantastic allegations were true?  Because at the time, pretty much everyone else in America did…hundreds of children, usually after lengthy sessions with coercive therapists, came forward to say that they…had been [subjected to bizarre mistreatment such as being transported]…to random cities for sexual abuse, or countless other bizarre stories…Media poured attention on the claims…As televangelists prayed for deliverance from Satan’s scourge, talk show “experts” claimed that every imaginable form of abuse was happening on a massive scale in America and that [conspirators were hiding everywhere…media figures] claimed…that more than a million [villains] were plying their evil trade in America right at the very moment…[books about the panic] appeared in libraries and therapists’ offices…“It sounds laughable,” says Debbie Nathan, an investigative reporter who co-wrote Satan’s Silence: Ritual Abuse and the Making of a Modern American Witch Hunt about the panic and is now a director for the National Center for Reason and Justice… “Children symbolize the good things about culture, the innocence and purity, the future of the culture,” says Nathan.  When a culture feels under threat in some way, fear and anxiety focus on the safety of children…The fear…was perpetuated by both ends of the political spectrum…Most if not all of those involved believed they were acting in the best interests of the children—which meant that any healthy skepticism was interpreted as anti-child.  But extensive investigations revealed little to no truth to the…panic…Michelle RemembersEven so, people still believed…[“experts”]…testified that [organized sexual victimizers] are real, that they are widespread…Common sense and level-headed investigation would have found [these] claims incredible if…panic hadn’t lent a “distorted lens of hysteria” to the picture…

I look forward to reading articles like this about “sex trafficking” hysteria in the late 2030s (there’s a fair chance I’ll still be around; I’d be in my early 70s), but it’s a safe bet that the reporters mocking or marveling at it will be just as oblivious to the absurdity of whatever moral panic is going on then as today’s reporters are to the absurdity of “sex trafficking”.

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Drop the last year into the silent limbo of the past.  Let it go, for it was imperfect, and thank God that it can go.  -  Brooks Atkinson

Frozen in Time by Amanda RyanChange, as I have written many times before, is a good thing.  This is not to say that all changes are good; rather, it means that it’s good for things to be able to change.  A world without death is a world without growth; a world without decay is one without development.  And a world where societies cannot descend into tyranny is one where new and better societies cannot be built.  Far too many Westerners are so afraid of possibility of negative change that they eagerly abase themselves before anyone who (falsely) promises to protect them from it, and are willing to destroy their children’s ability to cope with reality by subjecting them to vain and perverse efforts to permanently lock them into a state of ignorance and immaturity.  As I wrote in “With Folded Hands”:

In the ‘40s, the watchword was “victory”.  In the ’60s, it was “freedom”.  But by the ’90s, it had degenerated into “safety”.  Americans once recognized that there are some things worth dying for; now we encase our children in bubble-wrap and cry like little girls at the slightest risk.  Our great-grandparents dared unknown frontiers, while we sit in our playpens content to watch the world go by on television…People aren’t like this naturally; most of us are born with a yearning to explore the world, a zest for adventure and a thirst for knowledge, but these are ground out of children in factory schools, frightened out of them by “authorities” trying to create a race of docile, frightened sheep and squeezed out of them by overprotective parents who imagine “child traffickers” and “sexual predators” around every corner…

Every new prohibition, every new nanny-state ban, every war on free choice (and in recent years, even free speech) is justified by the same thing:  Safety, the bloated parasite-goddess whom fools continue to worship despite her total inability to deliver on her promises.  In the past, civilizations died in blood and fire; ours is slowly suffocating in billions of tons of cotton wool.  Nor are the overlords satisfied with “protecting” us from real, if exaggerated dangers such as accidents, ill-health and crime; no, they also have to invent mythical dangers like “sex trafficking”, and will continue to do so until every possible human behavior is bound by laws and regulations, watched by the police and centrally-planned by politicians.

stop timeBut the only thing which never changes is the fact that things change.  What police/nanny states seek – total subjugation of all individuality and absolute control over all human activity – is not only undesirable, but impossible; it is no more possible to absolutely control humanity than it is to stop the flow of time itself.  Furthermore, the very attempt must eventually destroy the government which makes it, like a machine pushed far beyond its design parameters.  It’s already happening; growing numbers of young people  reject the idea that “experts” and “authorities” either can or should direct their lives, and recognize both the so-called “left” and the so-called “right” as the statist charlatans they are.  As the old “Baby Boomer” dinosaurs and their wishy-washy “Generation X” followers begin to die off, prohibitionist madness will begin to die with them.  Just as restrictions on same-sex marriage are collapsing and restrictions on marijuana are starting to, so must all other restrictions on private, consensual behavior.  Prior to a few centuries ago, almost nobody questioned that idea that one individual could own another; now that idea is universally rejected.  And prior to a few decades ago, very few questioned that a collective could own an individual; now even the staunchest collectivists try to pretend that state control of individuals isn’t based in such ownership.  The time is fast coming when collective ownership and control of individuals is as universally abhorrent to moral people as individual ownership and control of other individuals is now, and though most reading this are already too old to fully enjoy that world when it arrives, we can take comfort in the fact that our grandchildren are not.

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I’m nobody, who are you?  -  Emily Dickinson

It’s a kind of black joke among sex workers that everyone is an expert in our lives except us.  That poorly-named, rare quality called “common sense” would tell anyone who possessed it that in order to understand what any given profession, trade, lifestyle or other social phenomenon is actually like, one must talk to those who actually live it.  But because so-called “common sense” is anything but common, all too many fools are all too ready to listen to people who have never done sex work, yet proclaim themselves experts in our lives.  What’s worse, they insist that they know them better than we do, that we are suffering from “false consciousness” and are therefore unfit to talk about what sex work is like…unless we agree with them, of course, at which point we instantly and miraculously become experts not only in our own experiences, but those of all other sex workers of every background, type and temperament in every country in the world.

And so, barely the week passes that we don’t see some new, self-appointed “sex trafficking” expert crawl out from under a rock, seeking to gobble up as much attention and money as possible before the hysteria ends.  Interestingly, when these “experts” first appear, they often make unorthodox statements;Lindsey Roberson before too long, however, they fall into line with the catechism, and nobody ever notices that they’ve changed their tunes.  Here’s an example of one of these hyenas; I’ve chosen to feature her not only to demonstrate the rhetorical shift I mentioned and to highlight the nonsense these revolting opportunists vomit out, but also to share a rare example of whores being able to orchestrate an effective rebuttal to one of the yellow articles which mindlessly parrot the dogma.  Her name is Lindsey Roberson, and I’m sure everyone reading this totally believes that her sex appeal had absolutely nothing to do with obtaining a spotlight for her wicked crusade against other women who use their sex appeal to make a living:

The elemental difference between sex trafficking and freelance prostitution is in who has the control and who is keeping the money, Roberson says.  If a girl or a woman is being forced or coerced by a pimp to perform sex acts without monetary gain, that’s trafficking…Educating law enforcement, injecting hope for victims of sex trafficking and fear for the perpetrators of it in North Carolina has become 31-year-old Roberson’s mantle…[she helped write]…the…Safe Harbor bill…[that] would allow prostituted women to wipe their records clean…and…instill harsher penalties for pimps…the North Carolina Coalition to Combat Human Trafficking ranks North Carolina in the top 10 states for the problem.  The convergence of three major highways connecting much of the East Coast, the state’s large transient military population, agricultural roots, and ports…all make it attractive to traffickers, Roberson says…Roberson’s interest in trafficking started with…New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and articles he wrote about sex trafficking…she…is also on the board of a new faith-based effort…called the Centre of Redemption…“Prostitution is not just the oldest profession…it’s the oldest oppression, and it has to stop.”

This hodgepodge is a lot more telling to those of us who are actual experts than Roberson might like.  Of course there’s North Carolina’s unusually-idiotic entry in the King of the Hill competition (which bizarrely claims that low-population areas are especially attractive to “traffickers”), but we’ve seen that one before.  No, the really interesting part is that though she’s solidly a fundie (who claims God wants her to persecute people), she’s “inspired” by arch-“progressive” nanny-state cheerleader Nick Kristof and is happy to use neofeminist terms and slogans, thus demonstrating once again the absurdity of the artificial “left-right” framework and showing that puritans will get into bed with anybody to advance their war on consensual sex.  But though back in July Roberson admitted that many prostitutes were in the trade of our own free will and even seemed to imply we’re the majority, somebody must have “corrected” her because by late August she was saying this:

…Roberson adds that public misconceptions about sex trafficking are also part of the problem.  “There’s this myth of choice, that a woman chooses to get into this.  Find me a college educated, well adjusted woman who’s had tons of opportunities in her life, who understands what a healthy relationship is and who’s actually experienced one and then chooses to sell her body for sex.  Nobody does that.  These people are coming from situations of desperation.”

a bunch of nobodiesThe rest of the article is the usual “300,000 children-average age of entry is 13-Backpage is evil-selling their bodies” idiocy, right down to the Profession of Faith.  But for some reason Roberson’s vile attempt to slander nearly every sex worker I know, her wicked attempt to erase us from existence, her disgusting declaration that I either don’t exist or am a liar, really pissed me off.  So I commented on the story and then went onto Twitter to ask others to do the same: the result is an unbroken string of 11 women, mostly university-educated, repudiating Roberson’s claims.  If any of you reading this haven’t added yours yet, please do so; we want everyone who reads that story to see the truth right next to Roberson’s lies.  Will it do any good?  Probably not discernibly so.  But minds are changed one at a time, and I know I’ve changed many with this blog and via Twitter.  If even a couple of people reading that story see through the “trafficking” scam because of those comments, the slight effort we had to expend was well worth it.  And one day, after the hysteria collapses and we’ve repeated this sort of action umpteen thousand more times, the public will at last collectively come to realize that even if they don’t like our choices, they were ours to make and no mythic “pimps” or cartoon-villain clients forced us into them.

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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on April 14th; I have modified it slightly to fit the format of this blog.

Man Choosing Between Virtue and Vice by Frans Francken the Younger (c. 1633)Intellectual laziness can manifest itself in many ways, of which one of the most common (and irrational) is black and white thinking.  Humans are highly variable creatures whose characteristics, behaviors, beliefs, preferences, tastes, etc are often very different from one another; between the two most extreme points on any scale there are an incalculable number of different positions, and in any population one is likely to find as many different opinions on any given subject as there are people.  But one would never know this from talking to the dualist; he insists on pretending that everyone is clustered near the endpoints, and willfully ignores every shade of grey in between.  But this view of human reality is not only limited, it’s wrong; on most subjects, only a small minority of individuals can be found in those extreme endpoints, and the great majority fall somewhere in the middle.

What makes this fallacious dichotomization even worse is that people who might not be inclined to think that way often fall into it as a response to someone else’s extreme viewpoint.  For example, when faced with the bogus claim that some drug (cannabis, for instance) is universally horrible, destructive and addictive, some supporters of drug decriminalization respond with equally-spurious claims that the drug is a physical or spiritual panacea.  The truth is not only in between those two points, but also varies with individuals; any given drug has both beneficial effects and harmful effects, and the proportion of one to the other can vary considerably between individuals.  Each individual must decide whether the drug is right for him, and in a free society he is allowed to make that decision for himself without fear of authoritarian violence.  And though there are ample moral reasons to support the principle of self-determination, there are practical reasons as well:  criminalizing consensual behavior adds artificial harmful effects to those inherent in it, and makes it much more difficult for anyone to make an informed choice because data about criminalized activities is often hidden or distorted.

Sex work provides good examples of this syndrome on both sides of the transaction, worker and client.  Under criminalization and even quasi-criminalization (i.e. legalization schemes which criminalize some actions such as solicitation, kerb crawling, brothel-keeping, etc) prostitution is pushed into the shadows due to fear of arrest or other police harassment, thus creating dangers not inherent in the work itself.  It also becomes impossible to collect comprehensive and reliable data on the subject, and as a result prohibitionists are free to make the sort of outlandish claims with which everyone is familiar (all sex workers have pimps, we were all abused as children and/or suffer from PTSD, the average age at debut is 13, most of us are coerced, etc, etc, ad nauseam).  Unfortunately, in reacting to these lies many sex workers espouse a false dichotomy; as I explained in my column of that name,

…they believe there are two and only two kinds of prostitutes, free-willed high-dollar independent escorts and pimped, coerced slaves.  This, of course, is pure poppycock…The only people who…have…absolutely free choice to do any kind of work are the Paris Hiltons of the world, those who have a guaranteed inheritance, income and secured future no matter what they choose to do with the present.  Every other person has no choice but to work in some fashion; the choice not to work at all simply doesn’t exist unless one considers starvation an option.  At that point, then, the choice boils down to what kind of work one is able and willing to do.

Some harlots absolutely adore their work; others like it but don’t love it; others tolerate it for the high income and flexibility; still others dislike it but prefer it to their other options; and some dislike or hate it but have no other options (due sometimes to literal coercion, but more often to conditions such as drug addiction or a criminal record).  The distribution may be fairly even along the spectrum, or it may be a classic bell curve; it’s difficult to be sure because of the issues discussed above.  But one thing is certain; the majority lie not on the ends, but somewhere in the middle.

mystery manClients are, if anything, even harder to get data on than sex workers; after all, even in countries where prostitution is decriminalized most men have good reasons to be discreet (including wives and social stigma).  In the 19th century nearly every man paid for sex from time to time, but as sexual mores progressively relaxed decade by decade in the 20th, that fraction undoubtedly dropped because at least some men could obtain casual sex without direct payment.  In the 1940s Kinsey found that 69% of men had paid for sex at least once in their lives, and though it’s probably lower now (due, again, to the increased availability of “free” sex), it still gives us a reasonable baseline to work from.  But when we look at modern claims about this percentage, we find them all over the map.  A few studies still produce reasonable figures, but most go wildly in one direction or another due mostly to questions and categorization criteria specifically designed to give the “researcher” exactly what she’s looking for.  On the one extreme, early in 2011 the well-known prohibitionist Melissa Farley defined “paying for sex” so broadly she literally couldn’t find any men who hadn’t (and therefore had to redesign the parameters to produce a less-obviously-bogus result).  On the other, the General Social Survey claims only 14% have ever paid, a figure so ludicrously low the industry would collapse; reader Kevin Wilson (a research consultant) showed that when taken with other claims from the survey, this would mean the average American sex worker only has about 10 clients per year (a number I exceeded every week of my career).

Obviously, neither of these extreme claims can be true; logic dictates that the fraction of men paying for sex now could neither be higher than it was before the sexual revolution made casual sex socially acceptable, nor too low to support the observable economic reality.  The most credible studies I’ve seen indicate that though a slight majority of men have directly paid for sex at least once, most don’t repeat the experience; about 20% of all men do it occasionally and 6% regularly.  So once again, we see the same pattern; sex-worker-hiring is neither ubiquitous nor rare but, like most other human behaviors, somewhere in the middle.

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

Cops and Condoms

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

See No Evil

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

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

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

The Notorious Badge (TW3 #15)

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

Little Boxes

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

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

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

First They Came for the Hookers…

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

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

Beyonce Mrs Carter Show costume
The Widening Gyre

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

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

Bogeymen

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

Too Young To Know

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

Bottleneck

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

Poe Folksteen on laptop at bedtime

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

Another Small Victory (TW3 #133)

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

Big Sister (TW3 #138)

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

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

Anatomy of a Boondoggle (TW3 #314)

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

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

The More the Better (TW3 #314)

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

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

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

Held Together With Lies (TW3 #316)

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

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

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

The End of the Beginning

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

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Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.  -  Marie Von Ebner-Eschenbach

The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali (1931)A couple of months ago, a person I know online became very upset with me for disagreeing with her contention that it was possible to judge an idea by one’s attitude toward some person who supports it.  In other words, she insisted that because a person she thoroughly dislikes agrees with some position, that it was valid for her to discard the idea through a process of guilt by association.  This is, of course, one of the classic logical fallacies; human beings are complex creatures, and it’s inevitable that any given person will agree with any other person on something.  Just because Charles Manson enjoyed Beatles music does not make it bad, and I’m sure many abusive cops enjoy a nice dish of ice cream as much as I do.  Nor is this congruence limited to aesthetic judgments; people often arrive at the same position via completely different cognitive paths, or recognize a fact while drawing a completely divergent conclusion from it.  For example, Sheila Jeffreys correctly recognizes traditional marriage as a form of prostitution, yet bizarrely insists that this means marriage should be abolished!

It’s impossible to draw an equals sign between any person’s likability or moral character and the quality of his ideas, or between the value of an idea and the likability or moral character of any given person who espouses it; yet, people insist on doing this all the time.  Up until 70 years ago eugenics was a major tenet of the “progressive” philosophy, and it logically follows that if wise “authorities” can be trusted to dictate what people consume, say, see, hear, think and do in bed, they should certainly be allowed to control reproduction.  But once eugenics became associated with the Nazis, it was rejected from the “progressive” canon despite the fact that its place there is undeniable.  People also base their appraisal of someone’s character on the fact that he holds some or many of the same views as they do; again, that makes no sense.  While politics does make strange bedfellows, I refuse to grant someone my blanket approval merely because he and I have some common cause.

Even the most predictably ignorant, habitually wrong and thoroughly confused individual gets it right once in a while, and when that does happen it deserves recognition.  Pat Robertson deserves credit for statements opposing marijuana criminalization and young-earth creationism, Barack Obama for recognizing that the penny (like much of the government) is an obsolete waste of money, and Jezebel for actually publishing something funny and on-target for a change:

Colorado pastor…Kevin Swanson…[claims] “certain doctors and scientists…have…compared the wombs of women who were on birth control pill versus those who were not…and they have found that with women who were on the…pill there are these little tiny fetuses—these little babies—embedded into the womb…these wombs of women who have been on the…pill effectively have become graveyards for lots and lots of little babies.”

ALARMING INDEED.  Intrigued by Swanson’s research, I consulted a respected doctor-scientist from my local university, and uncovered a whole bunch of other substances that have been found in the birth-controlled wombs of scarlet women:

Kevin Swanson Sketch by Cliff Roth (2-2-13)teeth
snails
other, smaller wombs
watermelon rinds
a grizzled undertaker
apples
Jimmy Hoffa
tiny living babies
a bar of soap with a hair on it
Desmond from Lost
pine cones
hot lava
pieces of curb
Turtle Man
eels
goblins
imps
Hitler’s mustache
a DVD of Scrubs, season 4
a portal to John Malkovich’s brain

I laughed especially hard at “other, smaller wombs”.  Unfortunately, the comments are just as off-cue and humorless as usual, but one can’t have everything.  I’m sure even Jezebel commenters are right sometimes, but of course the odds against more than a few of them being right at the same time are astronomical…which is exactly why ideas must be judged on their own merits rather than which or how many people espouse them.

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Humanity has a bad track record of selectively appealing to authority to justify our biases.  -  Andrea Castillo

R.I.P. Harry Reems

Harry ReemsHarry Reems, the first male porn star, died of pancreatic cancer on Tuesday (March 19th) at the age of 65.  For his role in Deep Throat, Reems was convicted in 1976 of “conspiracy to transport obscene material across state lines”, and though that sentence was overturned a year later the stress of the trial drove him to start drinking; he spent the late ‘80s as a homeless alcoholic before sobering up in 1989, then getting married and going into real estate a year later.  Unlike his co-star Linda Lovelace, however, he never regretted his choices or blamed porn for his troubles, and went by his stage name (his birth name was Herbert Streicher) until the end.

Bad Girls

I left out the very rarest, but worst type:  “[Houma, Louisiana] police arrested 15 men…alleging they solicited a prostitute through [Backpage]…one of [two] prostitutes…[was] issued a summons…[but] the other…was not arrested [because she] agreed to be a part of the sting…”  There is absolutely no lower life-form in the whoring ecosystem than a person who collaborates with cops to ensnare others in order to save his or her own worthless hide.

Dr. Schrödinger and His Amazing Pussycat

Andrea Castillo’s “When Science Looks Like Religion” explores the territory discussed in Monday’s comment thread:  When people blindly accept scientific findings which reinforce their irrational beliefs while rejecting equally-valid results which contradict those beliefs, the result is not science but religion.  The last part is doubly germane:  it describes Norwegian social scientists’ knee-jerk denial of all data which contradicts their cultic social constructionism.

micro-drug-dogSecret Squirrel

A new low in intra-family spying:

…Suspicious moms and dads are hiring trained drug detection dogs to sniff out their kids’ drug stash…the RK Agency…[charges] $350…[to] “discreetly perform a thorough inspection of your entire property”…Jeffrey Gardere, a child psychologist …[told] the Today Show… “I don’t know if you can [have a relationship with your kids] if you’re bringing in drug-sniffing dogs”…

Size Matters

According to this post from Dr. Annie Sprinkle, Tracy Elise of Phoenix Goddess Temple has been “deemed…’incompetent’ to go to trial…she will be sent to psych ward and forced to take psychiatric drugs for about 15 months until she’s ‘competent’…I feel that if…sex workers…criticise Tracy Elise…we are in a way colluding with the [police]…and…contributing to the problem, which is exactly what the ‘sex negative society’…wants us to do…”  I totally agree.

The Last Shall Be First

[Arizona] legislators…are attempting to pass legislation that forces transgender people to only use public restrooms…associated with the gender…on their birth certificate…in response to a [Phoenix] …bill…which prohibits gender identity discrimination in public accommodations…

Lupercalia

Dr. Brooke Magnanti on the lessons we can learn from Pompeii:

…women in Ancient Rome [married] sometimes as young as 14…[but] were permitted to own land and houses and have jobs.  Women of the upper classes were educated to a high standard…It’s well known that Pompeii…boasted a large sex industry…and…open attitudes about sexuality and prostitution didn’t hold back other women from achieving

And if you just can’t get enough of Brooke, here’s a short but wide-ranging interview with her in The Age.Rong Chen

A Broker in Pillage

Once again, the British government displays its dedication to literally robbing sex workers of their life savings:

A Chinese brothel madam and her husband have been ordered to pay back £125,000 within six months or she will face another jail sentence and he will join her…Rong Chen…and her husband Jason Hinton…only [have] £125,000 of realisable assets…[namely] their marital home in…Worcestershire, which…will have to be sold or remortgaged…

Note the weird euphemism “pay back”, implying that the money is refunded to customers; in reality it is split between the police, court and Inland Revenue.

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs

If politicians’ minds weren’t befuddled by prohibitionist idiocy, they wouldn’t be so confused by wholly predictable outcomes like this:

…Jakarta…has tried…to offer sex workers ways to escape the sex industry…[for] example…sex workers…[given] a dressmaking course…did not return to their villages…but rather…to their old lives in Jakarta…the income from sewing was just too far below sex work…A high ranking health official…[said] it would be better to legalize prostitution; closing Kramat Tunggak would result in the dispersion of prostitution sites to several unidentified locations — making health checkups impossible…Surabaya…is still trying to phase out Dolly, East Java’s famed prostitution site…

But as this second article from the same newspaper explains, closing Dolly would be an economic disaster:

…Dolly…consists of at least 300 brothels…employing thousands of prostitutes…[plus] numerous supporting businesses — clinics, mini markets, sexual enhancement medicine vendors, parking lots, banks, rented houses, Internet cafes, small restaurants…University of Indonesia economist Lana Soelistianingsih said that…economic transactions triggered by prostitution [alone] could contribute around Rp 1.5 trillion to Surabaya’s gross domestic product…

Oscillation

Family Research Council…fellow Pat Fagan…claims that Eisenstadt v. Baird, the 1972 case that overturned a Massachusetts law banning the distribution of contraceptives to unmarried people, may rank “as the single most destructive decision in the history of the Court”…because it effectively meant that “single people have the right to engage in sexual intercourse…Society never gave young people that right, functioning societies don’t do that, they stop it, they punish it, they corral people, they shame people, they do whatever”…

Fokkens twinsReal People (TW3 #21)

…Amsterdam’s oldest prostitutes have retired after more than 50 years each in the business.  Louise and Martine Fokkens, 70, have decided they are too old…Louise…says arthritis now makes some sexual positions “too painful”…and Martine…admits she finds it hard to attract punters – though one elderly man still has his weekly sadomasochism session…The pair were the subject last year of a documentary Meet The Fokkens and they have written a book called The Ladies Of Amsterdam

First They Came for the Hookers…

As I pointed out recently, Nevada isn’t remotely pro-whore:  “Two [Nevada] state Senators introduced bills…[to] regulate strip clubs…Mark Manendo…wants to charge …a $10 per customer fee…[to fund] programs related to domestic violence…Barbara Cegavske…would ban anyone less than 21-years-old from performing…

The Public Eye

Caty Simon of Tits and Sass interviews well-known activist Audacia Ray on the Red Umbrella Project, speaking to the media, condom criminalization, the Long Island Killer and why sex workers need to ally with harm reduction and anti-drug war activists.

Monkey Business

Baboons have been observed keeping dogs as pets:

Birth of a Movement (TW3 #39)

French sex workers continue to push back against increased criminalization:

10 years ago, the Internal Security Act (LSI) penalized public solicitation, including so-called “passive solicitation”…[this] has reinforced the isolation of sex workers, relegating them to more remote places where they are…more prone to violence…since the introduction of the LSI, “the conduct of the police deteriorated sharply.  Their attitude is less respectful and humiliation increased…their protective function…has virtually disappeared and [they are]…most often perceived as strictly punitive”…Médecins du Monde demand the immediate repeal of the offense of soliciting…[and] rejects any proposal to penalize customers…

Women’s Rights Minister Najat Belkacem responded in a typically clueless manner; though she promised repeal of the law, she also made the absurd claim that “90% of [sex workers] are victims of human trafficking” and refused to back down on her scheme to impose the Swedish model.

King of the Hill

Portland, Oregon’s bid for the “largest trafficking hub” title isn’t a new one, but now they’re claiming that this is “proven” not only by highways, but by rivers:

…Portland [has]…one of the largest sex industries of any U.S. city…human trafficking…is a growing problem in Oregon due in part to the traffic permitted by Interstates 5 and I-84 [and] the Willamette and Columbia rivers…the problem [is] one that’s inextricably linked to gangs…“When people think of prostitution, their first instinct is a girl walking on the street,” [police spokesman Pete] Simpson says.  “They’re not thinking about the fact that she’s being traded as a commodity, sold as a product”…The change [in strategy] humanizes the victims…

Simpson robs women of agency, then claims he’s “humanizing” whores who were already human before he turned them into things to be acted upon.  It would be funny if it weren’t so sad.An Intimate Life

Accredited Whores

Charlotte Shane’s review of An Intimate Life: Sex, Love, and My Journey As A Surrogate Partner, the memoirs of sex surrogate Cheryl Greene (of The Sessions fame), covers much the same ground as my column, and that’s a good thing; the more of us there are speaking out against these artificial lines drawn between types of sex work, the more people will finally get it.

Like a Horse and Carriage

I’m glad to see that others are recognizing that “marriage equality” applies just as well to polygamy as it does to same-sex marriage, and are making good arguments for it:

I’m in favor of leaving marriage to the religious institutions, and registering households in whatever configuration people want to live.  If a same-gender couple, or a heterosexual couple, or an elderly couple who can’t have children, or any couple want to be responsible to and for each other, let them.  If three people want to be responsible to and for each other, let them.  If a gay man and his female best friend want to be responsible to and for each other, let them.  Let’s stop worrying about who is screwing who, and just make it easier for people to be responsible in their relationships.

Still More Mentoring

SWOP-NOLA posted these “Client Screening Tips and Helpful Links from a New Orleans Provider”; I already mentioned a few of these, but she provides many more I didn’t know about.

The Joy of Juxtaposition

One would never know that these claims have been repeatedly debunked:

The Georgia attorney general and other law enforcement officials kicked off a public awareness campaign…[which] bears the slogan “Georgia’s not buying it” and includes a [commercial] featuring professional athletes…”We’ll continue to go after the pimps and rescue the victims, but we know that the only way to truly eradicate this evil is by ending the demand,” Attorney General Sam Olens said…It is a problem throughout Georgia, in both urban areas and in small towns and rural areas…

Georgia is indeed “buying it”, wholesale.  I’m sure millions in federal grants and an excuse to further erode civil rights have nothing to do with all this.

Skin To Skin

An Australian sex therapist argues that disability insurance should cover the hiring of sex workers:

Sexual expression is a fundamental part of being human…Decades of research have uncovered the many benefits of sex, which include physical health, quality of life, psychological well-being and sexual self-esteem.  Unfortunately, because of social taboos and hypocrisy…barriers are created to stop people from fully realising these benefits…Some people with disabilities have limited opportunities for sexual relationships because they lack privacy and are dependent on others…Maggie in Albany

Comfort Zone

The video of the Albany Law School symposium is now available!  If you don’t have the time or inclination to watch the whole thing (4 hours), my part runs from minute 170 to 185.

An Ounce of Prevention (TW3 #310)

Earlier this month, doctors announced that a baby had been cured of…HIV…Now…it appears that 14 adults have…been successfully treated…70 people…[received] combination antiretroviral therapy (cART)…much sooner than…normal…[because] all [were] diagnosed…early…they…stuck to the [regimen] for an average of three years…[but then] stopped…for various reasons…Normally, HIV will return when patients stop taking their ARVs.  But this time…14…patients…were functionally cured…

Hard Numbers (TW3 #311)

Apparently, the proposed legislative reform in South Australia isn’t quite decriminalization (though it’s a lot closer to it than anything we’ll see in the US anytime soon):  “…it makes special provisions for sex work such as special licensing, laws about safe sex and possibly restrictions on location…once a ‘reform’ law has been passed the chances of getting better legislation in the near future drop to zero.  So many people feel it’s better to stay with a bad situation and hope to get good reform rather than settle for an unsatisfactory ‘improvement’…

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Remember that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return.  -  Genesis 3:19

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of the solemn liturgical season of Lent; because Church doctrine formerly forbade the eating of meat (and other indulgences) during the season, “Fat Tuesday” was a sort of last goodbye to meat and other pleasures for the next six weeks.  Even the word carnival (whose meaning has shifted a great deal in English, especially American English) was originally derived from the Old Italian carne levare, “taking meat away”.  And though I’m no longer Catholic, I think the modern world has suffered for the lack of holidays like Ash Wednesday and the Day of the Dead, which were intended to remind us of our own mortality; certainly little tin gods and “safety”-hysterics alike could benefit from such rituals at least semi-annually.  In keeping with that thought, today’s first video (which I discovered on EconJeff‘s website) is a reminder that even one of the great necessities of life can kill you.

Everything down to that video was provided by this week’s top contributor, Jesse Walker; those between the videos were contributed by Popehat (“Twitter felony” and “pulp generator”), Radley Balko (“forbidden fun” and “insane judge”), Dean Clark (“cops at play”), Amy Alkon (“imaginary weapons” and “TSA generator”), Nun Ya (“cop gropes woman” and “illiterate librarian”), Grace  (“handicapped parking”), Aspasia (“spiders”), and Franklin Harris (“Mr. Rogers”).

From the Archives

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