Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘left-right myth’

Most of the change we think we see in life
Is due to truths being in and out of favor.
   –  Robert Frost

95 ThesesThe Nation is the oldest continuously-published weekly magazine in the United States, and describes itself as “The Flagship of the Left”.  So when it prints a story with the headline, “Liberals and Feminists, Stop Enabling the Police State”, it’s the rough equivalent of a nun sneaking copies of Luther’s 95 Theses into the hymnals at Easter high mass.  For several decades now, self-described “leftists” have done their level best to ignore or deny their part in the creation and expansion of the American police state, despite the fact that its chief rationales – the various wars on consensual behaviors – were birthed, nursed and reared to maturity by the Progressives, the intellectual and spiritual ancestors of today’s statist “left”.  This state of denial is especially pathetic when the subject is sexual prohibition; soi-disant “progressives” will reflexively and spasmodically point to the right whenever the subject comes up, their left eyes tightly shut so they don’t have to acknowledge that at least half of the crusade, and the lion’s share of the current rhetoric, is growing out of their own beloved sinister avian appendage.  But JoAnn Wypijewski isn’t having any of it; she demands that her compatriots recognize the blood on their hands:

…At the crux of [mass incarceration]…is a hard truth, a moral and political catastrophe…It is the lust for prosecution, the clang of the prison door; and the liberal/progressive/feminist hand in enabling the police state and confusing punishment with justice…any invocation of freedom or human rights or bodily integrity that does not also recognize this is hypocrisy…follow the wire linking Ferguson to swelling violence budgets and shriveled social ones, to “quality of life” policing and spatial control of the poor, to police-cordoned “free speech zones” and mass arrest of protesters, to the border “fence” and Border Patrol surge, to the “cleanup” of Times Square’s XXX underbelly for hypercorporatized, hyperpoliced space, to random police stops and dog sniffs, to random drug testing, to the ubiquity of surveillance cameras, to NSA snooping, to the $350 billion US security business, to TSA full body scans, to drug blimps, to asset forfeiture…to immigrant detention, to “zero tolerance” at schools, to enhanced penalties for “hate crimes,” to sex-offender registries, to civil commitment, to torture as policy, to legalized discrimination, to legalized suspension of constitutional rights for ex-cons, to the redefinition of pimps as “traffickers” who…may be sentenced to life, to vice squad entrapment systems, to law upon law passed amid the clamor for safety, to…the gulag of prisons…that [lock away] about 7 million Americans…

Sex, or fear of it, has been almost as important in the construction of this nightmare state as racism.  Just as the legal gains of the civil rights movement were blunted by…the incipient “war on drugs,” the sexual revolution…[was] short-circuited by serial sex panics, police power in loco mariti, Victims’ Rights as a mask for vengeance and the conception of the Sex Offender as a new, utterly damnable category of human being…“Carceral feminists”…elided personal power with state power, eschewed the project of liberation…and took as [their] armor the victim’s mantle…when a 6-year-old is called a sexual harasser for stealing a kiss, and men in civil commitment have their dicks hooked to plethysmographs while forced to watch violent porn as “treatment”…the sex-crime side of the prisoner supply chain shows no sign of slowing…

This is not the only recent article in The Nation which is critical of anti-sex feminism and its cringing enablers in the American left; others have questioned the Swedish model and Canada’s flagrant defiance of its own Supreme Court’s decision to decriminalize prostitution.  Nor is The Nation the only major publication to recently publish sex-work-friendly articles; the New Republic recently featured a very positive,Becoming Belle Knox accepting article on disabled men who hire sex workers, and the Daily Dot (not remotely in the same class as the other two, but still) published a review of the documentary Becoming Belle Knox which not only condemned anti-sex work bile from both the “right” and “left”, but also correctly categorized “sex work isn’t work” and “emotional connection and sex have to go hand in hand” as myths.

Many of my readers and my fellow activists are so stunned by the incessant “sex trafficking”, anti-whore din that they begin to despair; I would be lying if I said I never felt that way myself.  But history shows us that prohibitionist noise is always most cacophonous just before the masses begin to turn against those prohibitions; consider the history of “Drug War” propaganda and anti-gay activism and you’ll see what I mean.  Though it’s nearly impossible to find a story about sex work in the mainstream American media that doesn’t consist entirely of tinned prohibitionist rhetoric, parroted police statements and regurgitated neofeminist poison, the truth is beginning to percolate into the alternative press, some magazines and many professional organizations.  There has been a subtle but noticeable change in the air over the past two years, and it’s becoming more pronounced with every passing month; within a few years sex work will be a full-fledged controversy like gay rights was in the ‘90s, and that’s the first step toward our inevitable victory.

Read Full Post »

The political core of any movement for freedom in the society has to have the political imperative to protect free speech.  –  bell hooks

BBW posterThe last week of September is celebrated as “Banned Books Week”, a time not only to encourage the reading of books that busybodies (both official and otherwise) don’t want anyone to read, but also to remind people just how pervasive the urge to censor actually is.  Nor is it limited to those traditionally labeled “social conservatives”, who use words like “obscenity” and “immorality” to describe the things they want to censor; nowadays, the most belligerent, aggressive and effective proponents of censorship are those who consider themselves “progressive” or “feminist”, and who describe their targets with words like “sexist”, “racist”, “homophobic”, “objectifying”, etc, etc ad absurdum, ad nauseam.  You won’t see those excuses used as much in cries for the suppression of traditional un-illustrated print books, probably because the authorities these types follow have taught them that book-burning is something “conservatives” do.  But widen the scope to include comic books and graphic novels, music videos, movies and computer games and you will be absolutely inundated with them.  Furthermore, the promoters of this chic form of censorship very often don’t call for the direct government suppression of their targets; that would, after all, be censorship, and every thinking person knows censorship is bad.  So instead, they just “critique” the things they want banned and sling ad hominems like “misogynistic” at their targets’ creators, hoping to make them so radioactive in the public mind that risk-averse corporations will refuse to fund them.

Yes, I understand that this isn’t technically censorship in the strictest traditional sense of the word, because it isn’t being forcibly executed by a political authority.  Neither is Operation Choke Point direct criminalization of the businesses it targets; that doesn’t change the fact that those businesses are as effectively suppressed as if they had been criminalized.  In our present fascist system, government and big business are as intricately and symbiotically interconnected as the components of a lichen; to say that a cartel’s blocking of some sort of information isn’t really censorship is as specious as saying that a soccer player isn’t “handling” a ball because he’s moving it around with his feet, knees and head.  And if government, religion, academia or other respected “authority” figures spread lies in order to frighten even non-cartel businesses away from handling certain material, why that’s not censorship either.  These forms of “censorship lite” are very much in vogue right now; one might call them “censor chic” if one had a taste for puns.  And while they lack the violence associated with actual criminalization of forbidden ideas, they are still very effective in creating an intellectual soil highly toxic to free expression.

In last year’s essay for the occasion (which I republished yesterday in Cliterati), I wrote that…

…the desire to suppress knowledge and images of sex is so powerful that those afflicted with it are willing to devote tremendous amounts of money and manpower in a futile quest to that end; they are willing to deny millions of women income and freedom, to expose all women to much greater chances of rape, to risk the death of their children from disease, and to cripple the greatest tool of communication ever devised.  This is not rational behavior; it is a mental illness, and for sane people to give in to the censors merely exacerbates their condition and locks all of us up into a vast Bedlam with them.

Bradbury censorshipThinking people must not let themselves be intimidated by these self-appointed guardians of the public morality; we must speak out against all forms of censorship and speech suppression, whether advanced by guns, threats, intimidation or appeals to nebulous “harm” to women and children, and fight for everyone’s right to have his say…even if what he has to say is vile and offensive.  Bad ideas will eventually be shunned in the marketplace of ideas and die on their own; it is both unnecessary and wrong to try to keep others from hearing those ideas and making up their own minds about their quality.

Read Full Post »

 The left-right divide might be a division between social identities based on class or region or race or gender, but it is certainly not a clash between different political ideas.  –  Crispin Sartwell

Reading Between the Lines

FBI myth: crack experts at hunting dangerous criminals.  FBI truth: lazy pickers of low-hanging fruit:  “…The Grand Junction [Colorado] Police Department…and the Federal Bureau of Investigation gathered evidence at [four] massage parlors…on possible human trafficking and prostitution…”  Here’s the FBI press release; note that they’ve realized huge numbers of sex worker arrests make them look bad, so they only provide figures for underage workers arrested (under the  euphemism “recovered”) and men (probably mostly male sex workers) accused of being “pimps”.  If the proportions hold from previous operations, over 2000 adult sex workers were arrested in all.

Do As I Say, Not As I Do 

This is especially hilarious given the location:  “Authorities…say they’ve arrested…Phoenix police officer…John Geroulis…as part of a multi-agency undercover operation targeting human trafficking and prostitution…the 25-year veteran suddenly retired [the next morning].”  But this one is even more so:

A sheriff’s deputy and SWAT team member in Washington state was arrested…Darrion Holiwell…physically abused his wife and promoted her as an escort on…backpage.com.  He is also charged with using and distributing steroids, and with stealing thousands of pounds of brass and bullets from the police firing range and selling them to gun shops…

It Looks Good On Paper

I get that the writer is a “feminist” rather than a journalist, but surely the New York Daily News has editors qualified to recognize an incoherent mess when they see it:

The world is awaiting the return of nearly 300 Nigerian girls abducted from their school…girls as young as 14…are a familiar sight in the sex trade.  Demand is so great that traffickers not only import women from abroad, but target…American kids…Brianna [was]…kidnapped…by a school janitor at the age of 9, she was sold to a pimp…The bill she is championing creates the crime of…buying a child for sex…

Change a Few Words

Note how little you’d have to change in this excerpt from the first draft of Radley Balko’s book to make it about the war on whores:

…Nixonians…pushed the idea that drug use was connected to crime…They took their…absurd estimate of heroin addicts…multiplied it by another absurd figure—the amount of money the administration estimated the typical heroin junkie spent each year to get high…then capped off the equation with a third faulty assumption: that heroin addicts steal all of the money…The resulting figures, which seemed to increase with each reiteration of them, were several times larger than the total amount of property stolen in the entire country…Nixon’s top aides themselves didn’t believe their own bull…They were knowingly lying to bring the country along on a drug war.  The press jumped in with sensational stories to help dehumanize the drug offenders…

Pick a Color

It’s such a pleasure to see someone admit this in the mainstream media:

…the left-right axis…is conceptually confused, ideologically tendentious, and…infested by contradictions…the idea that…political and economic power…can be pulled apart and set against each other…is…obviously false, because hierarchies tend to coincide…  corporate capitalism has always completely depended on state power, and the basic practical thrust of left statism has always been annexation of the economyThe…robber-baron period is often held to have been…[eventually]  constrained…by the state [but] the…procedures employed by [industrialists]…depended fundamentally on state sponsorship and state violence…in the so-called Progressive Era…specific cartels and fortunes were compromised, [but] the consolidation…continued, as…government became the central bank…and the modern bureaucratic corporation emerged…the…spectrum stretches from authoritarianism on…one end to authoritarianism on the other, with authoritarianism…between…Instead of left and right, we should be thinking about vertical versus horizontal arrangements of power and wealth.

Yellow Fever Pimp City

Jezebel swallows the “trafficking town” myth like a big, slimy…

In an extensive investigative series called Pimp City: A Journey to the Center of the Sex Slave Trade, Fusion explores Tenancingo, Mexico, a town that makes virtually its entire living from sex trafficking…According to the documentary…”women are actually a commodity to be used over and over and over again…a pimp can make half a million dollars a year with three women working for him, each seeing an average of 20 clients a day, each for 15 minutes”…

In case you didn’t know, Fusion is a site attempting to position itself as the sleaziest organ in the yellow corpus, like an unfunny Weekly World News.

Number Puzzle

…the Dutch National Rapporteur Human Trafficking...recommends…to register individuals as victims more frequently, regardless of if there is an indication of actual trafficking…she acts as if the false positives …are not a big deal…we’re making reports…of situations that have nothing to do with human trafficking, which is making our data completely meaningless…only 2% of the so-called victims want help…[laws] make it impossible for…a sex worker to arrange [travel or visa] for…yourself, but if you get help then that’s called trafficking…Having a guard is seen as suspect, having lots of friends, too, and also having few friends…[even] if an agent…“feels” that it’s trafficking…that’s [enough]…

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (TW3 #312)

…mayor…Tri Rismaharini…announced the closure of the “Dolly” prostitution complex in [Surabaya]…hundreds of prostitutes and others who said their livelihoods depend on the sex trade blocked streets…in protest…The government plans to provide $425 to each of about 1,500 sex workers to help them start a new life…

Sex workers have defiantly vowed the district will remain open despite the edict.

Under Every Bed 

One day, we’re going to look back on all this and laugh.  All of us, that is, except people rotting for decades in prison on bogus “sex trafficking” charges.

…”The truckers…of Montana have partnered with us to put…human trafficking awareness posters on their trucks,” said…Attorney General Tim Fox. “The truckers move all across the country, they’re in…a lot of places that human trafficking might take place…We’ve had…young girls…trafficked out of Montana…and…into Montana.  Even right here in Billings…because…we’re…in the intersection of I-90 and I-94″…

Traffic Jam (TW3 #318) Manon Lescaut

I welcome ugly bandwagon-jumping like this because it hastens the day when the public is utterly sick of “sex trafficking” nonsense:

There are few things in opera more depressing than watching great singers struggling in the face of an obstructive and pretentious production.  Yet alas that is the case with the Royal Opera’s first presentation of Puccini’s Manon Lescaut for more than 30 years.  Jonathan Kent…opts for a contemporary setting in which wide-eyed Manon arrives – from eastern Europe? – with her pimp of a brother at a sleazy casino and becomes the fluffy mistress of a banker.  He forces her into soft porn…and then kicks her into sex-traffic hell…Puccini creates an atmosphere of lush melancholy romance, but Kent can interpret it all only in terms of today’s headlines…

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (TW3 #318)

It’s time once again for the pompous, asinine, methodology-free “Washington is the World’s Daddy” report (AKA the “Trafficking in Persons” Report), in which the US State Department presumes to judge and rank how every other country “deals with” an imaginary problem defined into existence by American prudishness and “analyzed” chiefly by how closely that country apes American anti-whore brutality.  Canadian prohibitionists are happy to cite the report this year in order to shore up their criminalization crusade, but New Zealand has no such agenda and therefore told Uncle Sam where he could stick his demeaning “report card”:

…The US State Department Trafficking in Persons 2014 Report…criticised New Zealand’s lack of a comprehensive anti-trafficking law, and recommended New Zealand’s legal framework be expanded to prohibit and punish all forms of human trafficking…The report [included evidence-free accusations]…of…children…subjected to street prostitution…[and infantilized Asian] women…at risk of coerced…prostitution…[Immigration Minister Michael] Woodhouse said all allegations of human trafficking were investigated, but none had resulted in substantiated evidence…

The Naked Emperor (TW3 #324)

In which danah boyd takes a few more steps toward the light:

…journalists and the public reify a Hollywood narrative of what trafficking is supposed to look like — innocent young girl abducted from happy, healthy, not impoverished home with loving parents and then forced into sexual acts by a cruel older man…the…reality…is much darker and implicates many more people in power…many youth…are not pimped…[they] begin trading sex for basic services — food, shelter, protection…when it comes to minors, most anti-trafficking advocates and government actors argue that it’s all trafficking.  Except when that label’s not convenient…

Magic Formulae

Most of this vile article glorifies the FBI’s pogrom against consenting adults under the guise of “fighting sex trafficking”, but this section needs to be pasted to the foreheads of every whore who believes in magic formulae:

…At least two of the women inquired…whether the supposed client was in fact a police officer…[one] woman…“did a cop check” on the officer and then said, “Okay, I just want to make sure you‘‍re not a cop.”  Undercover detectives agreed to a price…and exchanged the money — usually it had to be placed on a bedside table or television, as the women refused to handle the money directly.  The detectives then signaled for back-up, and detectives and agents swarmed the room…

Absolute Corruption (TW3 #326)

Jesse Friedman…filed a defamation suit against Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice for knowingly publishing false and defamatory statements in a report summarizing her review of Friedman’s 1988 conviction…In one example, DA Rice made the entirely fabricated claim that Jesse Friedman “wrote, possessed and distributed” shocking pornography involving incest, bestiality, and child rape while he was in prison.  The DA provided as proof a printout of a series of…stories…[from] the Internet, written by and credited to someone else, whose email address appears at the bottom with an invitation to contact her.  As the DA was well aware, Jesse Friedman was incarcerated at a maximum-security prison, and had no access to the Internet…

A Tale That Grew in the Telling (All Traffick, All the Time)

How low can they go?  “[Cop] Adam Kavanaugh…said…’[a sex worker] is a person who has been victimized and probably raped at age 8 if not earlier’…

Whither Canada? (TW3 #423)

While I’m happy to see political conservatives calling for decriminalization, I have to wonder why Tom Flanagan can’t see the moral panic is already well underway:

…Perhaps the most alarming thing about Bill C-36 is its potential to reunite the coalition of radical feminists, social conservatives, and law-enforcement authorities that gave us the triple moral panic of the 1980s over imaginary sexual abuse of children…I hope we’re not seeing a new moral panic over prostitution, but the signs are worrisome.  Conservative MPs are talking darkly about pimps in schoolyards.  The Minister of Justice has started to create a new class of folk devils by calling the customers of prostitutes “perverts”…

Hard Numbers (TW3 #424) 

I do keep telling you so.World Cup 2014 logo

…The World Cup is supposed to be good for sex workers’ wallets…But…sex workers aren’t having an easy time of things at Brazil 2014…with sex workers allegedly pushed out of their usual haunts by police looking to crack down…it’s…more difficult for the workers to find clients.  And when they do, the…crowd isn’t quite as imagined.  “They came here all dirty, thinking we are obligated to go out with them…They…get drunk and won’t spend money with us,” [one sex worker] said…

Feminine Pragmatism (TW3 #425) 

Matthias Lehmann, who studied Korean sex workers’ situations for several years, has some choice words for that “sex working grandmothers” story:

…Lucy Williamson…leaves out the police almost entirely…and…fails to mention the…[government's offer] to pay…rewards of up to one hundred million won (US$98,000) for tip-offs about prostitution activities…Williamson also omits that…South Korea’s constitutional court is mulling over the constitutionality of the country’s anti-prostitution law…

Cooties

Note the weird dehumanization of sex workers by calling them “networks”:

Swedish police have issued warnings that it’s increasingly common for prostitutes to rent apartments for work…”The better the hotel personnel get in seeing prostitution, the more unwilling these networks are to stay in the hotels” [said creepy cop Simon] Häggström [who] added that the number of rented apartments where prostitution occurs is minimal, but still “tragic”…

Read Full Post »

This essay first appeared in Cliterati on April 20th; I have modified it slightly to fit the format of this blog.

One of the tragic flaws of the human race is that the mass of people are wholly unable to see the big picture, which gives a powerful advantage to people and institutions wise enough and patient enough to invest their energies in a long game. While many people can recognize the immediate problems with some new, bad law (which is to say most of them, since virtually all the necessary laws were made long ago), they are completely unable to grasp how it fits in to the big picture. The purpose of government is to concentrate power in the hands of a few, and the purpose of getting involved in government is to be one of that few.The Blob movie poster And while the ways in which different politicians conceive of exercising and expanding that power may vary somewhat by individual and party, together all of these actions add up like countless threads in one vast fabric of tyranny.

Bureaucracy (the form of government firmly established in the US and UK) is essentially government by nobody; no matter who holds power at any given time, the whole amounts to a colossal, blind, amorphous entity whose only purpose is to grow and increase its grip on everything in its reach, especially people. One of its most potent mechanisms to accomplish this is what I call universal criminality, which is the establishment of…

…so many complex, broad, vague, mutually contradictory and intrusive laws that every single person is in violation of at least some of them at any given time. Then when any “authority” from the chief executive down to the lowliest cop wants to teach one of the peons a lesson, all he has to do is find a law to charge him with and the machine then proceeds to grind him up psychologically, financially, politically and often physically.

The machine sometimes even acts (seemingly) by itself due to the processes which were previously established; this can be seen whenever there is some awful prosecution that nobody is willing to take credit for, and officials stand around using words like “unfortunate” and excusing their inaction with tautologies like “the law is the law”. But to a large degree, they really are being honest about their inability to rescue a victim from the gears: it took hordes and generations to build this great Moloch, and it would take the concerted efforts of many thousands to dismantle it. Once a law or policy has been created for use against one group, the precedent it sets is gradually increased to affect others the original instigators never intended or even considered; single-minded fanatics with agendas like “decency” or “women’s empowerment” or “the children” never, ever understand that the weapons they demand for their “champion” today will not disintegrate with his regime, but will be inherited by his successors in years to come, and that the noose which fits the necks of “conservatives” will suit equally well to hang “liberals” (and vice-versa).

Over the last few centuries, would-be rulers slowly came to realize that sex laws were especially useful for establishing absolute control; before that such laws were largely concerned with maintaining public order and the purity of bloodlines. But since virtually everyone has sexual impulses, and many if not most people commit some sort of sexual indiscretion from time to time, sex laws are among the most effective methods of establishing universal criminality (which probably accounts for their increasing popularity over the last few decades). If all men can be vilified as “rapists”, “potential rapists” or supporters of “rape culture”, it’s easy to keep them under control; women, however, are a little more complicated. While underage women are effectively neutralized by classifying them as passive, asexual “children”, and any adult woman with a public or social life is vulnerable to accusations of “prostitution”, adult women with very private, monogamous sex lives are harder to target.

Fortunately for the control freaks, Nature burdened women with a built-in and highly exploitable weakness, namely pregnancy: the typical woman who has any sex at all will eventually end up pregnant, at which point she becomes uniquely vulnerable to state control via the child. While in pre-industrial times dependent children were basically classed as the property of their parents, in the past century they have been increasingly defined as the property of the state; a mother is therefore classified as the custodian of state property, and it’s a small matter to control her by threatening to take that property away. Because this is such a powerful tool of control, the state has worked diligently to maximize its period of absolute ownership by defining all legal minors as “children”, then pushing the upper age limit up and the lower age limit down to the period before birth, an historically-unprecedented power grab made possible by modern technology and expanding legal precedent. And so we get abominations like this:

The Tennessee…legislature gave final approval…to a bill that allows women to be charged with assault if they have a pregnancy complication after using illegal drugs…Farah Diaz-Tello…with National Advocates for Pregnant Women [said]…“The law…in no way limits the prosecution to misdemeanor assault, nor does it limit the prosecution to women who are illegally taking narcotics”…In other words, any woman who gives birth to a baby with health problems, or who loses a pregnancy at any stage, could be subject to criminal investigation, “because criminal investigation is the only way to rule out an unlawful act”…The most severe crime a pregnant woman could…be charged with under the new law is aggravated assault, which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison

Women in Mississippi, Indiana, Alabama, Utah, Louisiana, Texas and El Salvador have already been charged under similar laws; women in Wisconsin, Ohio, Oregon, Washington, DCEngland and Brazil have been subjected to shocking human rights abuses using similar logic; and politicians in New South Wales and Queensland have demanded similar control over pregnant women’s lives.  Nor does the nightmare end at birth:

Prosecutors successfully argued that a grieving mother was in fact a killer…[because] prescription painkillers [supposedly] tainted her breast milk and caused her infant’s death. Her sentence for this tragic accident…is 20 years in prison. Stephanie Green…was injured in a debilitating car accident…[and] also suffered from fibromyalgia…[so] she took doctor-prescribed morphine…At six weeks old, her daughter, Alexis…stopped breathing…it was determined that the baby had morphine in her system…there is little scientific evidence that morphine can gather in breast milk to toxic levels…Prosecutors [claimed] she “worked the system” to get her pain pills, did not keep all of her doctors in the loop, and should have known better…

Of course, birth control can prevent a woman’s coming into possession of state property to start with, so naturally many of those in power want to control access to it or at least hide information about it, but really that’s just gilding the lily; the majority of women do eventually want children, bringing them (and the fathers of those children) firmly under state control. Those who don’t want children usually still have sex lives, and everybody has to eat; once politicians realized the public would accept the morally-absurd concept of consensual crime, the achievement of universal criminality was just a matter of time.

Read Full Post »

This essay first appeared in Cliterati on April 6th; I have modified it slightly to fit the format of this blog.

Neofeminists are fond of pretending that women are not individuals, but rather mere appendages of some vast gestalt entity for which the neofeminists are the designated mouthpieces.  Many of their arguments against sex work rely on the notion that the private actions of individual women somehow resonate across this vast, incorporeal, hydra-like entity and magically harm all women everywhere in the world.  Therefore, they argue, the state is justified in using violence to suppress sex work for the “greater good”.  As so often happens with arguments based on irrational beliefs, however, the truth is exactly the opposite; prostitution laws pose a real and serious danger to all women, not just sex workers.  As I explained in “Be Careful Who You Rape”,

…women who will take money for sex are indistinguishable from those who won’t up until the moment the deal is made.  So it’s inevitable that aggressive campaigns of persecution against the former will ensnare some of the latter.  When prostitution is criminalized to any degree, women who carry condoms, answer personal ads, wear sexy lingerie, go without lingerie, fail forced “virginity tests”, ask a cop if he’s a cop, “act sexy”, go out after dark without a male chaperone, or even just “look like a prostitute” are regularly arrested and charged withboot on the neck having sex for a reason some people don’t like…

If one is prone with a boot on one’s neck, it makes very little difference whether that boot is a left or a right one.  Yet political feminists are forever attacking the misogynistic schemes of “conservatives” while actively supporting the misogynistic schemes of their own party, despite the fact that they’re impossible to tell apart from the vantage point of the one beneath the boot.  Control of women’s bodies is one issue upon which all statists can agree, and the tactics employed by the Cult of the Allwomyn are indistinguishable from those used by the devotees of other deities:

The sharia police in…[Indonesia] have rounded up 15 young women after they were “caught” in a late-night coffee shop.  They have been accused of not wearing appropriate Muslim clothing and for loitering outdoors after midnight…Police chief Rita Pujiastuti [said]…it was believed that certain teenagers choosing to hang out in coffee shops until the early hours were involved in prostitution…police…also arrested…female beauty-parlor employees who were allegedly caught engaging in immoral acts…and…jailed without being given access to legal advice

If you think this is the sort of thing that only happens in Islamic countries, you need to read the links in both of the block quotes above (not to mention my essay “Savages in Suits”).  But hey, you can’t make a morality omelette without breaking a few eggs, right?  Surely women should be happy to sit in jail for a few hours (or days, or weeks, or months, or years) if it serves the greater good of feminism (or Christianity, or Islam, or The Workers, or The Children!TM).  But speaking of children:

…Cirila Balthazar Cruz…gave birth to her daughter in November of 2008 at Mississippi’s Singing River Hospital.  Afterwards, Cruz, who grew up speaking Chatino–an indigenous language native to Oaxaca—was interviewed in Spanish…From Cruz’s very limited Spanish, the interpreter allegedly understood that Cruz was engaged in sex work…[she] was deemed an “unfit” mother, whose failure to learn English “placed her unborn child in danger”…we have no way of knowing how those details were possibly extrapolated from a conversation in a language that Cruz barely speaks…[but her] baby was taken away from her and placed with a foster family for an entire year…

Cirila Baltazar CruzThe article goes on to discuss the injustice of using inability to speak English as grounds for declaring a woman “unfit” to be a mother, but totally ignores the other excuse:  that she was a whore.  Note that Cruz may not actually be a sex worker at all; that may have been a misunderstanding deriving from her poor grasp of Spanish.  The mere accusation was enough, however, just as it was for Petite Jasmine (whose ability to speak her own tongue, Swedish, was not a factor).  As long as prostitution is defined as a crime or a pathology, it can be used to draw lines between “good” women and “bad” women regardless of whether “bad” is defined as succubus or victim.  And as long as the weapon of a prostitution charge is available, it can be used against any woman even if she’s never sold sex even once in her life.

Read Full Post »

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…

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 5,722 other followers