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Posts Tagged ‘Madonna/whore’

This essay first appeared in Cliterati on August 31st; I have modified it slightly to fit the format of this blog.

To those who aren’t sex workers and don’t make a full-time job out of following the developments in our  persecution, it must sometimes seem as though I’m exaggerating the awfulness of the situation.  Furthermore, those same people may not think the difference between decriminalization (as practiced in New Zealand) and legalization (as practiced in The Netherlands) is all that big a deal; many times I’ve been asked some variation of “every other job is regulated these days, so why should sex work be an exception?  And what about all the trafficked children?”  So I’m always glad to see someone else write about some specific aspect of the War on Whores in a degree of detail that neither my format nor my crowded schedule allow me time to match.  Today I present highlights of a recent article by the Dutch sex worker Zondares; the original is almost 5000 words and only the last in a series of six.  However, it is well worth your time, especially if you’re skeptical about the situation as I’ve described it; I’m hoping to whet your appetite by these selections, so that you’ll be moved to read the whole thing.

…very hostile actions against prostitutes have become not just accepted by the general public, but are actually viewed as productive efforts to combat trafficking…It started out with police raids on window prostitution areas.  The neighborhood would be closed down, a huge police force would storm the streets, with a ratio of more than 8 policemen per girl…These policemen would force their way into the work areas and take the sex workers to…government buildings for an all-night interrogation.  Meanwhile, police ravage the working areas and adjoining rooms, destroying any closed lockers, boxes, suitcases or bags…Police claim the women are free to go during these raids.  However…if you do try to leave they can order you to stay, and you’ll be arrested if you don’t comply…Every raid is claimed to be a success…[but] very few arrests are attributed to raids – and on closer inspection, this is always found to be false.Die Wallen  So far none of the raids have started any investigation ending in conviction…

So if the raids don’t do what they’re supposed to do, what’s the profit in doing them?

…Communications equipment like telephones or computers are taken, mostly never to be returned, and…there is…great emphasis on tracing your money.  If they can track down where your money has gone, it will be impounded, and never be released.  This is supposed to strike at the heart of trafficking.  If you don’t have a pimp to siphon off your earnings, you can lose much.  Hiding it at home doesn’t help you, because while you’re being interrogated, police has broken down your home door and is ransacking the place…As long as [your money was] moved legally, they can easily find it and take it…They claim you could get it back if detective work shows it to be clean, but so far I haven’t heard from anyone who actually had any returned.  Procedures to get anything returned are a waste of effort…

Think it’s better for independent escorts? Think again:

…The municipality is informed you’re working without a license…whether you need [one] or not…you’ve been in violation during your whole career, and they’re able to fine you tens of thousands of Euros…unless you submit to some other stipulation, like leaving the municipality or joining a licensed brothel.  Police will inform your building society, landlord or mortgage bank that you’re “running an illegal bordello” in your house.  This very often means eviction…If you’re the owner of your house, and it is not mortgaged, there is still the option of evicting you because you’re in breach of zoning laws…If [a part time] sex worker is caught…and they manage to track down where you work, they commonly inform your employer.  This very often ends in dismissal…In rare cases, insurance companies and banks have been informed their client was a sex worker.  Even those few financial institutions that don’t flat-out refuse services to hookers will do so after being “warned” by police.  Whether this is done intentionally to further ruin the sex worker or is a side-effect of police trying to track down money to impound is unclear…As if all the above weren’t enough, they go after your loved ones.  Not only do they tend to inform parents if you’re still in your early 20s, but if you have kids, those will come into the sights of youth services….Men in the house must mean violent pimps, another woman must mean that this was a crowded brothel where clients are tag-teamed, and when a 15-year old girl was present…the press…[didn't ask who she was]…Prostitution to them is a world of cardboard cut-outs, who don’t have relatives, who can’t babysit for a neighbour when between clients, who don’t live in houses where they also have a family, so anyone near them must be part of the misery porn story…

So why all of this torture; is it just petty sadism?  Not quite:

Once they’ve threatened you with all they’re willing to do to make you miserable, childless, homeless and jobless, they explain that if you would turn out to be a trafficking victim, then all this would disappear.  You would even get help, if you wanted.  All you have to do is claim that you were coerced, and accuse somebody.  Then everything will be right…every time a sex worker doesn’t want to give enough information to actually put anyone in prison, the cops are baffled…the National Rapporteur in her reports calls for even more explicit explanation of the choice between the government ruining your life or you coming up with an accusation.  Because if it isn’t because we’re too stupid to understand the decision we’re making, then she doesn’t understand why we would choose bearing the brunt of what government can throw at us over falsely accusing an innocent.  It can’t be morals, whores don’t have any, right?

The driver for all this, as you may have guessed, is “sex trafficking” hysteria:

The police [are] pretending to be fighting…gangs that don’t exist anymore, mafia structures that never did exist, claiming success after success, but never getting any real gangsters.  They use excessive violence to force whores to help them shore up their fantasy war on trafficking…the media are completely uncritical of government…and…choose to be complicit in hoaxes…pornographic element in the stories is camouflaged by pretending it is a story of heroism and courage…A small number of semi-professional victims dominate the soft news, misery porn books and documentaries.  They get new fake names for each publication, and because their stories change each time to fit prohibitionist fashion, the public tends to view each appearance as a new case…Nor are the media ever disillusioned when large scale police raids fail, over and over, to uncover any significant amount of trafficking, let alone coercion…

And absolutely everything constitutes “evidence”:

…If your husband picks up your work phone, he is obviously controlling you.  If you both testify you love each other, then that is an obvious lie, because no real loving husband would tolerate his wife doing something so vile as prostitution…If you work during your period, you’re working while sick, and that’s proof of coercion.  If your friend spots for you by calling for security words before and after bookings, that’s controlling your work and therefore evidence of coercion.  If your man bought lingerie or condoms, then he is supplying your work and this is proof of coercion…If [your husband] carries your handbag, he’s controlling your documents …If there are deeds to his name, that’s evidence of him exploiting you – and if the deeds are to your name, that’s evidence he’s using you as a shield…

There’s a lot more, but I think you get the idea. Of course, some who read this still won’t believe it:

People are very hesitant to question trafficking dogma, even if they can see that it defies facts.  They will not…doubt the overarching mythology despite seeing it conflicts with reality in any part they can actually see for themselves…They view us as bizarre caricatures, and find it difficult, inconceivable, embarrassing, painful even, to consider that we might be people in charge of our life, with different choices and different values…Toy theatre c.1845-50

Cardboard cutouts are useful for acting out childish narratives; they can be moved around and put in any part of the flat, simply-colored background picture one wishes.  And unlike real people, they don’t argue and refuse to play the parts for which they were created.

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I started to fall in love with an escort I first saw as a client; there was a tremendous spark between us from the first, and she always gave me extra time and soon started refusing payment entirely.  We had great dom/sub sexual chemistry, but it wasn’t just that and we soon started to get very serious.  However, she did not want to give up her financial independence and I’m not wealthy.  Also, I was worried that I only believed I was in love with her; I couldn’t trust that there wasn’t a pimp or pimp-surrogate somewhere, or that she was somehow scamming me.  I also didn’t want to be a rescuer figure, and didn’t want a relationship I could never really be honest to my family about.  I didn’t disapprove of what she did, but the whole thing made me uncomfortable regardless and I worried something terrible could happen.  So it eventually got messy and complex and I cut it off terribly and hurt her.  The whole thing feels unresolved; I don’t know if it’s over, or if I’m over her.  Should I just stay away because of what it is?

As I’ve explained in many previous essays, sex workers’ relationships actually aren’t dramatically different from others’ relationships unless their partners try to make them different.  When a reader asked my husband,  “How do you know that she won’t fall for someone else the same way that she fell for you?”, this was his reply:

Like any other marriage.  She’s not more likely to fall in love with someone else than any other woman would be.  You might as well worry about your wife falling in love with some guy she sees in the produce aisle at the supermarket.  There has to be trust.  I have to trust her just like any other man has to trust his wife; if you don’t have trust your relationship won’t work whether she’s an escort or a secretary.

Unfortunately, you could not give the lady your trust.  This is not a recrimination; you said it yourself, and people can’t help their feelings.  You mentioned “pimps”, but as I have explained before that is nothing more than a pejorative term for any non-client male in a whore’s life; managers, drivers, bodyguards, boyfriends, landlords and even male relatives and friends are tarred with the epithet “pimp” even if their behavior is no different from that of a man in the equivalent relationship with an amateur.  I might point out, in fact, that had your girlfriend been arrested while the two of you were together, the police might very well have accused you of being her “pimp”.  So you’re right in that there really was a pimp somewhere…and it was you.  Again, that’s not a recrimination, just a wake-up call about how cops and prohibitionists would have labeled your relationship (especially since it was a dom-sub one; just imagine what a reporter would’ve made of that!)  Not wanting to play the part of a white knight, and not wanting to be dishonest with your family, are certainly valid concerns…however, I must point out that her not wanting to give up her independent income makes her a far less likely candidate for “rescue” than many a husband-hunting amateur.  And since I sincerely doubt you are planning to discuss the intimate details of any future dom-sub relationship with your family, I do think the thing about honesty is a bit of a cop-out.

As I said, nobody can help the way we feel; we practically absorb cultural prejudices and fears with our mothers’ milk, and it’s nearly impossible to root all of them out no matter how hard we try.  I wish I could give you some magical means of erasing your concerns, but I don’t have that power; had the relationship gone on you would probably both been hurt a lot worse.  So I think it’s for the best that y’all both move on:  you to a woman who won’t trigger the biases you never asked to be burdened with, and her to a man who somehow managed to avoid or shed them.

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

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It seems to me that since sex doesn’t invariably lead to procreation any more, we have a lot of mumbo jumbo about “emotional commitment” and such.  Why is sex supposed to be for fun when you are young and single, but then when you get married it is supposed to take on some sacred, personal significance such that you don’t do it with anyone else?

Reed warbler and cuckoo chickFor most of recorded history, female marital fidelity was more important than male for the simple reason that we always know who a baby’s mother is, but until recently had no way of being sure of the identity of the father.  Since most men were repulsed by the idea of spending their resources on (and even leaving their property to) a cuckoo in the nest, a woman’s “purity” and “chastity” became the ancient world’s version of a credit rating; just as the latter helps to convince lenders that a modern person will pay back credit which has been extended him, so the “purity rating” helped to convince men with resources to invest them in a woman and her children.  Originally, women without such a rating weren’t shunned or stigmatized; they simply weren’t considered good marital prospects.  But as the centuries wore on such “purity” went from being a bonus to being a necessity, and the lack of it became a mark against a woman’s character (much as poor credit is becoming in our modern society).  By the Victorian Era, the emphasis on chastity had spawned the notion that proper women were totally asexual, and female sexuality thus became a sign of either bad breeding or psychological/spiritual damage.

For all this time, male fidelity was never important to society as a whole because children’s maternity was never in question; it wasn’t until the appearance of that peculiar blend of pseudoscience, authoritarianism and Christian moralism we call “progressivism” that anyone other than Christian clergy and wronged women really gave a damn about male sexual behavior.  Progressive thought held that if only “experts” educated in “scientific” methods of social engineering (including eugenics and control of the foods and other substances people ingested) could gain control of society, the human race could be “perfected” and we’d all live in a Utopia.  First-wave feminists embraced this excuse to mind everyone else’s business, and one of the main goals of the resulting “social purity” movement was inflicting the societal expectation of female asexuality on men as well (because sex is dirty and nasty and a “superior” man wouldn’t want it).  An avalanche of busybody laws followed, including the first widespread criminalization of sex work and alcohol, and if it weren’t for the Nazis giving eugenics a bad name it would no doubt still be just as popular as prohibitions against certain substances and sex acts (which are its ideological siblings).

Some rather ignorant people believe that these Victorian growths are things of the past, but nothing could be farther from the truth.  Oh, they were tweaked somewhat in the middle decades of the 20th century, but the basic notion that members of the ruling class have the right to inflict violence upon everyone else “for their own good” is so useful a tool of control they’ll never let it go until it’s ripped from their cold, dead, severed hands.  Alcohol prohibition was scaled back somewhat, but violent pogroms against users of other intoxicants were piled on top of it; the insistence that “official” sexual relations be licensed was replaced by sanction of unlicensed but noncommercial relations coupled with violent repression of commercial ones and the expectation that “immature” non-monogamous relations would eventually give way to serial monogamy based on romantic “love”.  Furthermore, the party of the first part (hereinafter referred to as “the individual”) agrees that the party of the second part (hereinafter referred to as “society”) has the right to discourage “immature” pleasure-based relations by propaganda, shaming, pseudoscience about “sex addiction” and “negative secondary effects”, criminal prosecutions of sexual encounters that for one reason or another violate the expectations of one or more of the participants or uninvolved bystanders, or any other method society cares to introduce at a later time in perpetuam; the individual further agrees to internalize society’s discouragement of such “immature” relationstoilet plunger by a date not to exceed that of the individual’s thirtieth birthday or date of his or her first legally-contracted marriage, whichever comes first.

I think you get the picture.  Society hasn’t actually changed its old, repressive ways; in fact, it has actually expanded them and repackaged them in a different-shaped box with a colorful, “modern” wrapper in the hopes that you won’t notice that the same old oppression is still being rammed down your throat with a toilet plunger.

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

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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on July 20th; I have modified it slightly for time references and to fit the format of this blog.

All week long I collect sex-work-related news stories for my Saturday “That Was the Week That Was” news columns, and when I prepare the columns each item is filed under a subtitle which refers back to a previous post.  But as I explained in “Case Study”, “every once in awhile a story comes along which is so interesting, funny, horrible, odd or whatever, that I like to analyze it at length.”  This is one of those stories, and my attention was attracted to it by two things: one, that it was difficult to fit into only one heading; and two, that there’s so much ignorance here one almost has to admire the journalist’s dedication to spreading misinformation.  After all, she could have obtained nearly all the information she needed from the two activists she interviewed; instead, she chose to shove their input to corners of the article and instead concentrate on the pronouncements of a clownish cop and a self-important academic (whom I’ve criticized on several occasions for his dopey assumptions).  Author Jessica Guynn wastes no time, starting off with monumentally dumb statements from the very beginning:

For years, sex workers have been the entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley that no one talks about.  But…the sex industry has been closely linked to boom times in the Bay Area going back to the Gold Rush…

Scott CunninghamThat it’s the San Francisco Bay Area is neither here nor there; every place there are men with money to spend, there will be sex workers for them to spend it on.  Guynn seems to imagine herself an intrepid investigative reporter exposing some hidden scandal; I’m sure she thought it clever to intersperse sentences about the mundane doings of sex workers with those describing recent anti-sex worker pogroms and the overdose death of a Google executive, no doubt hoping the latter two would lend some lurid spice to the rather dry meat of the former.  And even when she’s dealing with basic, easily-checked facts, the “pimps and hos” mythology she learned from cops (or television, or other equally-ill-informed sources) seems to interfere with her ability to transcribe them; when the story first appeared she referred to the screening service Preferred 411 as “Preferred911”, and even in the corrected story she portrays it as an escort service directory (with obligatory scare quotes around the perfectly ordinary word “escort”) rather than what it is, a screening service and ad platform.  I’m sure activist Siouxsie Q (the first source quoted herein) could’ve thoroughly explained P411 to Guynn, but instead she quickly turns to Scott Cunningham, who might actually be able to turn out good research if he’d consult sex workers instead of proceeding from his own wholly-erroneous preconceptions:

Scott Cunningham, an associate professor at Baylor University who studies the economics of prostitution, said the Internet has made the sex trade “extraordinarily efficient,” taking it from the streets and red-light districts to home computers and smartphones.

This is the fundamental flaw in Cunningham’s work:  he believes (and has repeatedly stated) that prior to the internet, the majority of whores worked on the street; all of his studies are based on this fallacy.  Street workers have never been the majority at any point in history, and under criminalized 20th-century conditions they represented 15% or less of American prostitutes.  While it is true that some street workers moved indoors after the advent of the internet, the majority of internet-based escorts are those who used to work in hotels, take out ads in alternative papers or contract with escort services (which largely advertised in phone books).  But Cunningham insists on comparing apples to oranges, resulting in strikingly-wrong statements like, “Before the Internet, clients didn’t know where to find the prostitutes and prostitutes did not know where to find the clients.”  That’s news to me, and to every other sex worker who did quite well in pre-internet times; I can assure Professor Cunningham that my clients had no trouble whatsoever finding me, and the idea that hookers had trouble finding clients seems to proceed from another ridiculous and false assumption:  that clients are only a small subset of all men.

Kyle OkiThe belief in a lost era of woebegone streetwalkers crying plaintively in the night for rare and elusive clients (and its counterpart, the creed of the magical whore-multiplying powers of the internet) is also clearly evident in the statements of Sgt. Kyle Oki of the San Jose Police Department Human Trafficking Task Force (formerly known as the San Jose vice squad), who said “prostitutes are gravitating to the Internet because they can charge clients they find there more money for the same sex acts”.  This is a fine example of the principle of Garbage In, Garbage Out; Oki proceeds from a set of faulty assumptions, and authoritatively states a conclusion which is literally the exact opposite of the truth:  because the internet makes it easier for amateurs to place ads, cheapskates can more easily find cut-rate girls and established ones must either charge less or do more to compete, or else resign themselves to less business.  In other words, contrary to Oki’s blather, most prostitutes find that because of the internet they can charge clients less money for the same sex acts.  In 2000, the going rate in New Orleans was $300 per hour, above the national average; though it’s still possible for an established lady to get that, $300 buys a lot less than it did 14 years ago.  And in some areas (such as Las Vegas and Los Angeles) the bottom has almost dropped out of what was once a very lucrative market.

The rest of the article suffers from the same syndrome that permeates all of prostitution law and much of the public’s conception of sex work:  the fallacious belief that sex is different from all other human activity, and sex work different from all other work.  Would a reporter find the idea that any other entrepreneur had grossed almost $1 million over several years of brisk business remarkable?  Of course not, but somehow it becomes so when the entrepreneur is a sex worker (I also doubt Guynn would use the demeaning word “servicing” to describe the work of a landscaper, chef, masseuse or therapist, but we’ll leave that discussion for another day).  And then there’s this line: “One sex worker [said] she uses credit-card payment processor Square to charge clients…” to which any normal person’s response should be, “So what?”  How many businesses have you run into lately that don’t take credit cards?  Accepting credit cards is not remotely notable, for sex workers or anyone else, and it hasn’t been for at least two decades; the fact that a businesswoman uses a popular payment processor doesn’t make it any more interesting.  But that’s par for the course with mainstream articles on sex work; rather than discuss important issues like sex worker rights, police brutality and how “authorities” use the moral panic around “sex trafficking” to justify massive violations of human rights, reporters prefer to present dry-as-dust details that they portray as somehow shocking because the transaction involves sex, then liberally moisten the mixture with lies, myths and sexual fantasies from self-appointed “experts” who know less about sex work than they do about quantum physics.

Professor Scott Cunningham says these indoor sex workers will have to wait at least another century for their clients to find them.

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To seek in the bright sky a place for freedom and unrestraint.  –  Liu Rushi, “On the Kite”

The gender roles of traditional Asian cultures were even more rigid and uncompromising than those of contemporary European cultures, but harlots have always stood outside of the limits their societies set for “good” women.  Where “good” women were expected to be chaste, whores were promiscuous; where “good” women were expected to be meek, whores were bold; where “good” women were expected to be ignorant, whores were well-educated; where “good” women were supposed to be submissive, whores accepted or rejected clients as we pleased; and where “good” women were prisoners of convention, whores flouted it.  And despite the feminist claims that men prefer women as ovine as possible, and that the patriarchal system is set up for men’s benefit at women’s expense, yet men have throughout history sought out the company of (and paid high prices for) women who were not only their equals, but often their superiors.  Like other courtesans, Liu Rushi ignored the rules her society set for “good” women, but unlike others she often ignored the rules it set for any women.

Liu RushiYang Ai was born in 1618 to a poor family of Zhejiang province, but her exceptional looks and intelligence allowed her family to sell her at the age of eight to the courtesan Xu Fo for training in the profession.  She learned so well that Xu was able to place her as a concubine to the prime minister, Zhou Daodeng, soon after she turned thirteen; however, Zhou died a year later and his widow threw her out of the household.  She sought out the famous poet Chen Zilong, whom she had met at Zhou’s house a few months before; he took her in as a concubine and the two fell in love and exchanged many poems.  Unfortunately, Madame Chen was just as jealous of her as Madame Zhou had been; when Chen went to take the Imperial Examination in 1635, she abused the poor girl so terribly that she fled back to Xu Fo, who now owned a brothel.  When Xu married in 1638, Yang Yin (as she now called herself) took over the management; she was already famous as a poet and painter by this time, and published three collections of poetry between 1638 and 1640.  But though she was doing well financially, she craved the stability of marriage; when a regular client named Song Yuanwen kept promising to marry her but never followed through, she is said to have thrown him out in a violent tantrum.

It was during her time as a madam that her androgyny began to assert itself; though her romantic poems were conventionally feminine, she also wrote in a masculine, “heroic” style and often left the narrator’s gender ambiguous.  In letters she favored gender-neutral terms for herself, and her calligraphy is distinctly masculine, using the “wild grass” style.  Her gender-bending behavior reached its zenith in 1640, when she decided to marry the famous scholar and poet Qian Qianyi.  She travelled to his home in her boat, dressed in men’s clothing, and asked Qian to give her his opinion on one of her poems.  He told her the poem was excellent and asked to see more, but before she left she made sure she let him see the small (bound) feet which left no doubt as to her sex even if he had been fooled at first.  The combination of her writing and her intriguing behavior captured his attention, and they were married in 1641.  Though she was only his concubine, they had a formal ceremony and he treated her as though she were a full wife, despite this being considered improper.  He gave her the nickname Hedong, which she often used in her writing thereafter; it was one of about twenty different names she used at different times and for different purposes.  The name by which she is best known, Liu Rushi, came from her continuing habit of cross-dressing; she would sometimes go on errands as her husband’s representative while dressed in his formal Confucian robes, for which people nicknamed her “rushi” (“gentleman”).

Rushi had finally found the stability she sought, but it was not to last long.  The Ming Dynasty her husband served collapsed in 1645, and she had become so deeply patriotic by that time she actually tried to persuade him to martyr himself by committing suicide; instead, he surrendered, served as an official to the new Qing regime for five months, then quit and joined the resistance.  Liu Rushi joined him and the two were active in the movement for over a decade thereafter; much of Qian’s poetry from the 1650s depicts her as a courageous Ming loyalist.  But in 1663, her life started to spin out of control.  First, the Qing finally crushed the last Ming resistance, burning her husband’s enormous library in the process; she was so aggrieved she took Buddhist vows.  Qian’s spirit was broken, and he died the following year; his creditors and enemies then began to hound Liu Rushi for money.  Alone again for the first time in decades, too old (at 46) to return to her former profession and deeply bereaved by the loss of both beloved husband and beloved cause, she was pushed over the edge by the legal persecution and hanged herself in 1664.  But though her life ended in despair and tragedy, her own poetry and that of her husband had already made her a legend; the historian Chen Yinke’s said she “embodies the independence of spirit and freedom of thought of our people”, and others have called her “the most respectable prostitute in Chinese history”.

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Treating adult humans as children, pets or dolls is offensive and repugnant.  –  Zoee Garza

License to Rape

Cops raping whores is so ubiquitous, non-cop rapists often pose as cops to facilitate the crime:

…Michael Edward Baker…was convicted [of rape in Maryland]…after…[rejecting] a plea deal in which he would have received a six-month sentence…Baker sexually assaulted a 25-year-old prostitute…after she…refused to have unprotected sex with him, he flashed what appeared to be a police badge…and then pretended to call a superior officer, before propositioning that he wouldn’t arrest her if she obliged him.  After she refused, once again, to have unprotected sex with him…Baker punched her in the mouth and raped her, before forcing her to perform other unprotected sex acts and fleeing…After he had raped the woman, Baker had called the victim’s cell number a few times in an attempt to befriend her…

Welcome To Our World

Note the easy way inane arguments that prostitution magically ignores economics also work against surrogate motherhood:

Proponents of surrogacy claim that it is completely different from prostitution…The fact that altruistic surrogacy is legal in Great Britain and commercial surrogacy is legal in many American states (but not anywhere in Australia), ought to suffice to keep people from looking abroad, according to this argument.  On the contrary, however, Americans, Britons and Australians are dominant amongst the foreign buyers in India…If the procedure is legalised…the risk that a black market will develop increases…the distinction between altruistic and commercial surrogacy is a dishonest one…in both…the woman is reduced to a container…

The author, though a neofeminist fanatic, is right about one thing: surrogacy is absolutely a form of prostitution.  See also One Size Fits All (TW3 #311).

A Whore in Church Strippers Protest Church

I know I covered an earlier round of counterprotests, but I can’t seem to find it:

Topless dancers at an Ohio strip club went on the offensive…baring their breasts in front of a church where congregants have protested their presence for…nearly a decade by picketing the venue on weekends and photographing guests’ license plates…[last] Sunday, workers, friends and family of [Foxhole North protested New Beginnings Ministries]…during service…Because it’s legal for both men and women to be topless in public in Ohio, the demonstrators faced no criminal charges…

Against Their Will (TW3 #3)

Rescue industry organization abducts the children of sex workers and brainwashes them against their mothers:

Far away from the murky world of brothels, children of sex workers have found shelter in a free residential school on the outskirts of Kolkata…To ensure their minds are free from the stigma attached to the lives of their mothers, they are kept with other children…”Apne Aap Women Worldwide” rescued these children…and brought them to the school…Reluctant initially to stay away from their mothers, the children, aged between 6 and 16, are now a happy lot…

Apne Aap is probably the most unscrupulous and dishonest of the many anti-whore groups in India.

A Broker in Pillage

Despite years of criticism of the state’s asset forfeiture laws, Pennsylvania lawmakers approved a new human trafficking law that expands law enforcement’s ability to seize assets of the accused, without any statutory oversight of where seized property and proceeds end up…There is no required audit of the proceeds, something civil liberties advocates say could lead to abuses…

Above the Law

“Authorities” will call it anything to avoid saying a cop raped someone:

Former Jemez Springs [New Mexico] police chief Shane Harger – fired by the town in February for “questions of judgment” – has been indicted on criminal sexual penetration and other charges…A 19-year-old woman filed a complaint in January after she…was taken…to the police station [and raped] for three hours…a grand jury indicted Harger on charges of kidnapping, criminal sexual penetration, criminal sexual contact and extortion…

Gingerbread House

It takes a special kind of obtuseness and cultural illiteracy to actually name your disguised prison “Gingerbread House”:

[Sex] trafficking of children…is a growing problem around the world.  Thirty-five local kids that entered the Gingerbread House last year are victims or potential victims of trafficking.  Caddo Parish…is handling 13 red flag cases where trafficking may be a factor….Shobana Powell…says…sex trafficking…is…”not this highly organized crime that you see in the movies”…

It’s interesting, however, that even some rescue industry people are now moving away from the myth of international “trafficking rings”.

The Widening Gyre (TW3 #30) Somaly protest

Another example of the effectiveness of disruptive protests:

On Sunday 15 June…Traffic Jam, an Internet based anti-trafficking organisation…[linked to] the American…A 21 Campaign (A21) , attempted to launch their new website in…Sydney…To the surprise and ill-disguised antipathy of the organisers, a group of sex worker activists…gatecrashed the event, refusing to pay the AUD $25 entrance fee, and demanded stage time to speak to the audience about trafficking issues.  The protesters carried placards referring to the recent [exposure] of Somaly Mam…once migrant sex workers and their allies took the stage, their interactions and exchanges with the audience seemed to far out-weigh any of the previous engagement the audience had with the anti-trafficking speakers…[and] the…take-over of the stage outlasted the initial time allotted to the Traffic Jam event…

Checklist

Another pathological-liar cop (pardon the redundancy) spouting ridiculous “signs of sex trafficking”:

Every two minutes, a child is exploited in the sex industry…and Portland has one of the highest…rates…[cop] Mike Gallagher has personally talked with more than 2000 sex trafficking victims…He and others…held a conference to instruct people on the signs of a sex trafficker.  “Things like paying with a prepaid Visa or cash at check in”…Traffickers are often proud of their work and often sport tattoos alluding to it…

Traffic Jam (TW3 #318)

Ugly Mugs…by Peta Brady…is…based on confidential accounts of assaults…given by sex workers for inclusion in the Ugly Mugs  publication (closed, for distribution only to sex workers)…this represents both a breach of trust and an alarming low point in exploitation of sex workers through “pity porn”…Concerns were promptly raised with both hosts of the play – Malthouse Theatre and Griffin – neither were willing to accept sex workers concerns.  Instead we were offered free tickets…presumably because seeing your rape played out live…always makes you feel better…

It looks as though Brady, a Salvation Army worker, used her status as a social worker to steal a copy of Ugly Mugs from an ally’s office in order to use it for her own purposes.

Still a Child undeveloped brain

On July 25, FIRE President Greg Lukianoff testified before the United States Commission on Civil Rights…Commissioner Michael Yaki asked Greg…whether college students’ brains are sufficiently developed to handle freedom of speech…The following is Greg’s answer…”What we’re really saying is that 18- to 22-year-olds are children…[who] can’t handle the real world…[or] the duties of citizenship…we have decided in this country that 18…is considered the age for majority.  We also send our 18-year-olds to war.  Unless you’re actually also willing to make the argument that nobody below the age of…22 should go to war, and we repealed the 26th Amendment, we’ve got a serious problem…

Race to the Bottom

Sex workers in Seattle are trying to fight the anti-whore madness that’s now epidemic there:

Seattle Against Slavery would have us believe that anyone who patronizes a sex worker is guilty of exploiting a victim of human trafficking.  But only a tiny percentage of sex workers are trafficked…Seattle Against Slavery is…partnering with “members of the law enforcement community” to [spread lies]…despite the fact that “criminalization [of sex work] and aggressive policing have been shown to increase sex workers’ vulnerability to violence, extortion, and health risks“…

Shift in the Wind (TW3 #404)

Another respected policy magazine calls for decriminalization, this time The Economist:

…This newspaper has never found it plausible that all prostitutes are victims.  That fiction is becoming harder to sustain as much of the buying and selling of sex moves online.  Personal websites mean prostitutes can market themselves and build their brands.  Review sites bring trustworthy customer feedback to the commercial-sex trade…the web will do more to make prostitution safer than any law has ever done…Governments should…rethink their policies.  Prohibition, whether partial or total, has been a predictable dud.  It has singularly failed to stamp out the sex trade…

Sincerely Seeking

Here’s a superb essay from recently-retired stripper Zoee Garza on the “Cupcake Girls” and their patronizing “ministry” to sex workers:

…On August 3, 2014 Oregonian journalist Kelly House reviewed a spa event thrown by the Portland branch of The Cupcake Girls…The stereotype that I found most troubling is that sex workers are not loved…It is judgmental to assume that being a sex worker and being loved are mutually exclusive…Another myth the article seemed set on perpetuating is that all sex workers are in dire need of primping…The stripping industry is one of image, entertainment and competition.  As with many professionals, dancers make a point to have enough money…for massages, pedicures and dye jobs…if we were [needy] we would need some quinoa or a steak—not a cupcake…In the video on her website [founder] Joy [Hoover] compares the women that she has helped through The Cupcake Girls to her unborn child, she goes on to refer to herself as “The Stripper Whisperer,” similar to the “Dog Whisperer”…

Delightful Conversation Danielle Staub

Seriously, what is it with stupid ex-whores who actually expect people to believe they never had sex with their clients?

…Danielle Staub…of…The Real Housewives of New Jersey…[was] confronted…with…allegations of prostitution…Staub [pretends that]…she made money without actually having sex with her clients…”[Men] thought they were…paying for sex…but I was so good at twisting them into making sure that we didn’t have sex…They keep returning [to] me in hopes that it would happen…I made a lot of money doing it…”

Pull the other one, Danielle; maybe those who believe hookers can see 100 clients a day will believe men are that gullible, but don’t expect it from the rest of us.

Uncommon Sense (TW3 #420)

Cops are liars everywhere:

Politicians in Germany have called for the laws on prostitution to be tightened…the…Christian Democrats (CDU) want the minimum legal age of sex workers to be raised from 18 to 21…They also want…punishments…for men who [hire] women forced into prostitution, and for compulsory health checks…According to police, 50 to 90 per cent of the country’s prostitutes have been forced into the work…

Worse Than I Thought (Traffic Updates)

Expect this trope to become much more common in the next few months:

Last year, LifeNews shared a story about a woman named Veronica (referred to as ‘Ana’) who escaped forced abortion by jumping out of the window at an abortion clinic.  Veronica was a former sex worker trafficked from Albania…Although this case of sex trafficking occurred in London, the United States is a hub for predators who look to exploit women and girls.  Oftentimes, these predators are hidden by the abortion industry…

I Saw My Brain (TW3 #432)

Once in a while a reporter wakes up:

…many of the men whose mugshots have been paraded out by [Grady Judd and his ilk] in made-for-TV press conferences were not seeking to meet children online.  Instead, they were minding their own business, looking for other adults, when detectives started to groom and convince them to break the law.  While detectives used to post ads suggesting an underage teen or child was available for sex, they now routinely post more innocuous personal ads of adults on traditional dating sites.  When men – many of them under 25 with no criminal history – respond, officers switch the bait and typically indicate their age is really 14 or 15 years old.  However, sometimes the storyline isn’t switched until the men…start falling for the undercover agent…law enforcement is also now routinely making first contact with men who have done nothing wrong, responding to their ads on dating sites…after men start conversing with what they think are adults, officers change the age they claim to be, but try to convince the men to continue the conversation anyway…If the men indicate they [aren't] interested, they [are] still often arrested for just talking to [a cop]…

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I don’t believe I have to give it away for free no matter how many district attorneys and politicians say I do.  –  Norma Jean Almodovar

Peeping Toms

Keep in mind that the subject of all this state snooping, prying and pompous posturing is consensual adult sex:

[Utah] police…found the man in charge of a state-run polygamous trust in a motel room with a suspected prostitute…and prosecutors say he has since failed to appear as a subpoenaed witness at the woman’s trial.  Bruce Wisan…has not been charged with any crimes…and…the 26-year-old woman…did not appear [in court] either…[so the] judge…issued a $2,000 warrant for her arrest…[prosecutor Scott] Cowdell said the woman could have been tried in absentia if Wisan had appeared…[and] he is prepared to force Wisan to…explain his absences…

Surplus Women

A “sadistic” construction worker murdered a 55-year-old woman with a Stanley knife before mutilating her body…Nicolae Patraucean, 20, strangled Rivka Holden and slit her throat before dismembering her body…Ms Holden, who worked as a prostitute, was found dead on March 16…

Meanwhile, in Michigan:

…25-year-old Charles…Oppenneer’s decapitated body…[was] found in a park last [week]…his…[pregnant] girlfriend, [Brooke] Slocum…could not be located…on Slocum’s computer, police found e-mail exchanges with a local man named Brady Oestrike…[who planned] to meet the couple at…the park where Oppenneer’s body was subsequently found…and pay them for sex…investigators saw him leave his home in a car, setting off a police chase…[which] ended when Oestrike’s car crashed into a [concrete] barrier.  Police found him…dead from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head…they found Slocum’s body in the trunk.  An autopsy determined that she had been strangled…Oestrike often traveled to different states…for his…church…as a missionary…

Sex, Lies and Busybodies Emma Livry

I’ve often pointed out the similarities between “art” performers and sex workers, but this is an interesting parallel I hadn’t heard of:

…[The legendary ballerina] Emma Livry…was…[critically] burnt when her costume was set alight by the open flames of stage lighting…the French government had introduced legislation years before…which required costumes to be treated with flame retardant chemicals…[but] a number of dancers had refused to wear the treated tutus because the chemicals made their skirts dingy and stiff, spoiling the ethereal effects they went through years of punishing physical training to achieve…After [her accident but before her death by infection]…someone asked Livry if her opinions…had changed.  She…maintained that she still would not wear them if she were ever able to return to work.

Dancing in a stage production [is much] like performing in an adult film…Risks are taken and sacrifices are made for a chance at success.  That success [is] a slim possibility, and even if it is achieved it lasts for a very short window of time…Like Emma Livry’s distaste for stiff skirts spoiling her illusion of weightlessness, I dislike the idea of being forced to use barrier protection when the accompanying friction impedes my ability to deliver the best performance possible.  If members of the French government had listened to the dancers they were trying to protect, they could have explored options like moving the lights two feet forward or enclosing them in cages…

End Demand

The petty absurdity of social engineering:

…A new [“end demand”] campaign is distributing beer mats to bars and hotels with the [lurid tale] of a 15-year-old survivor of human trafficking.  She [claims to have been] forced to have sex with 15 men a day before she escaped.  The Immigrant Council of Ireland, supported by a European Commission [grant] project, is trying to [frighten]…young men [out of hiring sex workers]…

First They Came for the Hookers…

If prohibitionists really want to “rescue” sex workers, why do they keep trying to stop us from getting other jobs?

A German single mum who has worked as a nurse caring for disabled people for 17 years has been fired after her bosses discovered that she had taken a job as an erotic model to make extra money.  Lisa Burger, 38, had worked for the evangelical church owned care home…since she was 21, and after struggling to make ends meet had also taken on jobs as an erotic model wearing sexy underwear for catalogues.  But…when she also agreed to do a porn movie…her employers were told about it…

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (TW3 #31)

Still think prostitution laws don’t affect you?

A Zambia Reports reader sends in a complaint about the Zambia Police and their patrols in search of prostitutes in the mining town of Solwezi… “I was shocked to be awaken on 24th July 2014 by…police officers in my room…at a named lodge to be told they were looking for prostitutes…Does it mean every woman they find in a lodge or guest house is a prostitute?  If they found a man in bed with his wife, because they are at a guest house or lodge they will take away his wife as a prostitute?”…

Monsters Reginald Anthony Klaiber

The original title read “Man stabbed in back”:

A transgender 15-year-old girl was stabbed in the back aboard a [Washington, DC] train…Reginald Anthony Klaiber, came up to the group…and insulted the victim’s appearance, asking why she was wearing a wig and commenting on [her clothes]…Klaiber was apprehended after witnesses pointed him out to police…

Challenge

Other than the fact that one of three editors felt the compelling need to interject such outrageous inanities as the word “consensual” in scare quotes (referring to sex work) and phrases like “[sex workers] seek independence from pimps, traffickers and intimidating customers“, this article isn’t really too bad:

…Maxine Doogan…dreams of a future when she won’t be treated like a criminal and could earn a little respect in the city that launched the fight for sex worker rights 41 years ago.  Calls by Bay Area sex workers for decriminalizing…prostitution have been spurred anew following the FBI seizure of [MyRedbook]…the battle…has lost ground in recent years in the face of the increasing influence of religious conservatives, continued opposition by [neo]feminists and the [pretended] link made by law enforcement between prostitution and sex trafficking of children and immigrants…

License To Rape (TW3 #340)

The San Diego DA says it’s better for women to be raped and innocent people jailed than for the public’s rapidly-diminishing opinion of cops to be further damaged:

[San Diego] District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis keeps a list of law enforcement officers that her prosecutors do not trust as witnesses…and…will not say how many people are on the list or which agencies employ them.  The so-called Brady Index is a closely guarded secret that includes officers and deputies with a track record of lying or other misconduct that could undermine credibility…[reporters] sought the information in advance of a civil trial requested by a woman…who was [sexually assaulted]…by…Anthony Arevalos…her lawyers allege San Diego police command staff knew about…Arevalos and did nothing to stop him from preying on young women…

How egregious a liar does a cop have to be before prosecutors won’t believe him?

Dominating the News (TW3 #342)

A woman was arrested [for "abusive behavior" on Wednesday] after posting a photograph on Twitter of chancellor George Osborne at her flat when she worked as a madame…Natalie’s home was also searched last year…after she tried to publish her memoirs…Of course this could all be coincidence.  Or perhaps more proof…that our police are being used to protect politicians’ reputations rather than catching criminals?

Traffic Circle

Tanzania’s envoy in Beijing…refuted claims that sex workers from Dar es Salaam are tricked by human traffickers into travelling to China…He refuted claims that some are hoodwinked into believing that there are hotel jobs or hair saloon work that pays handsomely in China…He said some women fall into trouble for overstaying their welcome…or for engaging in illegal activities.  He said that the women…rush to the embassy [and claim to have been "trafficked"] when trouble knocks on their doors…

Drawing Lines moral problems

Burlesque performers:  you can deny your connection to sex workers all you like, but society is going to treat you like us anyway so you may as well fight alongside us:

A troupe of circus performers has been refused a business account after bank managers described their skimpy burlesque costumes as a “moral problem”…Joshua Morris set up “Circus Uncertainty” earlier this year and applied for a business bank account with Santander so he could get grants to fund work with terminally-ill children…The performers are baffled by the decision as there is no nudity in the family-friendly act…

No Difference

This is only on procedural grounds and the law will probably be rammed through again, but a victory is a victory:  “The constitutional court [of Uganda] has declared the passing of the anti homosexuality bill into an act as null and void…on grounds that [it] was passed without the required quorum…Court also awarded the petitioners 50% of the costs of the suit…

The Missing Word

The word “trafficking” was included in the accusations [and used by protesters], but the court’s decision says it did not exist in the eyes of the State:

A Greek court’s decision to acquit local farmers who admitted shooting 28 Bangladeshi strawberry pickers when they dared to ask for [six] months of back pay has sparked outrage…Four of the strawberry pickers were badly injured in the attack…Media investigations showed the migrants to be working in subhuman conditions without access to proper hygiene or basic sanitation…

The Widening Gyre (TW3 #419)

Behold the results of the mental illness I call lawheadedness:

The barriers police set up months ago in [Cincinnati] to curb prostitution were removed…one day after residents asked for damages and a restraining order against the city…police [pretended the roadblocks] would stop johns from picking up prostitutes along West McMicken Avenue…resident Vanessa Sparks…said once the barriers started blocking her neighborhood, public transportation was no longer close by, and her friends and family were afraid to drive through the area to her home…Attorney Peter Stackpole represents the city…[and pretends that]…the lawsuit…”lacks merit”…

Property of the State 

Jennifer Goodall of Coral Gables [Florida] was informed [by]…letter…that because she decided to attempt vaginal delivery before agreeing to cesarean surgery in her fourth pregnancy, her prenatal care providers intended to report her to the Department of Children and Family Services [and] seek a court order to…perform cesarean surgery on her “with or without [her] consent” if she came to the hospital…

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (TW3 #426)

Lawheads are mystified their proclamation didn’t “abolish prostitution”:

Indonesian police…fired tear gas at hundreds of protesters at the… “Dolly” red-light district, where workers are refusing…government orders to close shop. Around 300 protesters…tore out and set alight a sign erected by the Surabaya city that read:  “This area is free from brothels and prostitution”…”We reject the instalment of this sign here.  And after Ramadan, we will operate as normal.  We refuse to shut down,” said head of Dolly’s workers’ forum Ari Saputro…Hardline Muslim groups have threatened violence if brothels continue to operate beyond the end of Ramadan.

Whatever They Need To Say (TW3 #429)

I’m sure his sending miscreants to threaten to burn them alive had NOTHING to do with it:

Tangail…mayor Shahidur Rahman Khan Mukti has come up with a most intriguing theory explaining why more than 600 sex workers left the Kandapara brothel in a single night.  If he is to be believed, these women…[all suddenly] decided to quit the work they have been doing for years.  What motivated them all of a sudden into deciding, and collectively too, to go for a change of profession is not explained…

The Widening Gyre (Traffic Updates) 

Perhaps the “sex traffickers” got sick of her melodramatics?

A missing…teenager who disappeared more than two weeks ago has been found alive and safe…Anji Dean, 17, [has] been returned to her family…[despite claims she had been "sex trafficked", cops found] Dean [alone] at a mall…Earlier [that]…day, a woman known only as Jennifer…told [reporters] she had spent several days with Dean and was trying to help her…[the girl's mother denied her agency and competence, claiming earlier] “She can’t be doing this on her own, so we’re really, really afraid for her”…

Tour Diary:  Week Nine

Here’s the video SWOP Chicago did while I was there:

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