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Posts Tagged ‘neofeminism’

I have to laugh when I hear people say: “Oh, I’ve never met a sex-worker before” and I have to say, chances are you have, you just don’t know it.  -  Valerie Scott

Bad Girls Andrea Alvira

Men:  Pay your hookers!  Ladies:  Get the damned money up front!

A 19-year-old…prostitute choked a [Florida] man to death after he tried to stiff her out of money he owed her for sexual services…Andrea Alvira…[chased] Brandon Day, 22…into a yard, where she dropped him by hitting him in the neck. She got on top of Day’s chest and forced her knees into his throat, suffocating him…

Grow the Hell Up!

Politicians, cops and naïve, whiny women are a dangerous combination:

…Rebecca McHood of [Mesa, Arizona] said she belongs to “a community of women who have been affected by pornography and sex addiction of their spouses…”I have five close friends whose husbands or ex-husbands have frequented [massage] parlors…I have seen the effects [sic] this has on their families, including the effects of divorce”…Lynnette Greybull…said she has found a website that lists 36 Mesa sex shops masquerading as massage parlors.  “They have a page…of acronyms…[detailing] what they’re able to do to these women…it’s very disgusting and perverted…These establishments are fake businesses…that…sell women.”

A Tale That Grew in the Telling

You know the oft-repeated lie that a third of teen runaways are approached by a “pimp” within 48 hours (when in reality, 84% of teen sex workers literally never meet a pimp)?  Well, it’s down to 45 minutes now:

Last year, King County’s Committee to End Homelessness issued a fact sheet that [stated]…“76 percent of unaccompanied minors [are] approached by either a known gang member or pimp in less than 45 minutes”…“That study has been altered, revised and bastardized beyond recognition,” says…Captain Eric Sano…“The actual study was from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.  They say that one in three teens will be recruited by an exploiter.  In 2009 we…put a very youthful female member of the department [in a park in disguise] and within 45 minutes she was approached by two members of the Westside Street Mobb”…

It’s a good sign when a claim is too ridiculous even for cops and reporters.

Forward and Backward (TW3 #4)

An unusually-sensible attitude for a politician:

…I have decided to implement [activists’] recommendations…by introducing a bill to repeal “prostitution free zones” in D.C…transgender women…[say cops] regularly view and treat them as criminals…The prostitution free zones reinforce this bias…it is also critical that police officers help someone who is assaulted or raped, even if they were involved in sex work.  MPD is responsible for the safety of everyone, including sex workers…

Above the Law  

…Cleveland police officer Gregory Jones [was found] guilty of raping and kidnapping a woman…Prosecutor Jesse Canonico said…’He was a rapist masquerading as a police officer’…”  According to Canonico, cops and rapists are two mutually exclusive things!  Obviously he’s never been to New York:

Yonkers police officer Alex Della Donna…arrested…Sonia L. Gomez…[and] coerced her into having [sex] with him at least a half-dozen times…continually [reminding her] that drug charges…might be reinstated if she didn’t continue…[the rapes] ended only after Gomez’s husband threatened to tell departmental higher-ups…

Or California:  “…West Sacramento Police officer…Sergio Alvarez was convicted of…numerous counts of aggravated assault and rape…and…[given] a 205-years-to-life sentence…he raped women while on the job, sometimes even in his patrol car…”  Or even Utah:

…police officer Jeremy Rose has been charged with 15 offenses in the collection of thousands of photos of a teenage girl in various stages of undress…Rose convinced a then-15-year-old…to pose semi-nude for photos he said he would sell for her on the Internet…he also allegedly hid a camera in the girl’s bedroom to record video of her dressing and undressing…

Traffic Jam (TW3 #21)

Note the moronic “people can be sold repeatedly” canard:

[California] officials say gangs have become more involved in human trafficking because people can be repeatedly sold for profit, unlike drugs and guns…The legislature is considering a…bill…[to classify] human trafficking…as “gang activities”…Sentences for gang-related crimes are usually stiffer…

Feet of Clay (TW3 #22)

Following in the illustrious footsteps of Lauren Hersh:

An assistant district attorney was verbally berated and banished from a Bronx judge’s courtroom after failing to reveal evidence that would have freed a man held at Rikers Island on bogus rape charges…“This is an utter and complete disgrace — not just for you, but for your office in general”…Judge John Wilson told…Megan Teesdale before dismissing the case…The defendant, Segundo Marquez, had been held…for more than eight months awaiting trial…

Above the Law (TW3 #28) Jeffrey Holmes

A…Kansas City police officer who was accused of forcing two women to have sex with him was found guilty of acceding to corruption…and sentenced…to 15 days in jail…” When a non-cop does the same thing it’s called “rape” and gets more than 2 weeks in jail.

The Public Eye

In this interview with Valerie Scott (one of the plaintiffs in Bedford vs. Canada) she touches on the landmark case and the Swedish model; however, the more interesting part for me is her discussion of pre-internet sex work in Canada, sex work ethics, myths about sex work and “pimps” and the absurdity of trying to suppress the trade.

Where Are the Protests? (TW3 #48)

The…son of a peasant farmer from…China has been in custody since being found in a…Dublin…grow house with an estimated €1 million worth of cannabis…Fergal Kavanagh…said his client…[was] imprisoned in the grow-house by traffickers…[and] should be released pending a full investigation into his case…

Caring Professionals

Another nursing home ignites controversy by hiring sex workers for residents:

The elderly residents of a Long Island nursing home…[attended a male] striptease in the facility’s rec room, a new lawsuit claims.  The son of one resident, 85-year-old Bernice Youngblood, was shocked when he…found a picture of his mom stuffing dollar bills — which are supposed to be locked away in her commissary account — into a dancer’s briefs…“Plaintiff Bernice Youngblood was placed in apprehension of imminent, offensive, physical harm, as she was confused and bewildered as to why a muscular, almost nude man, was approaching her and placing his body and limbs, over [her],” the suit states…Youngblood’s attorneys argue she “lacks the mental and physical capacity” to protect herself…

Photo4by6.jpgUnless Mrs. Youngblood is unquestionably suffering from dementia, it sounds more to me like her son is just revolted by the idea that his mother might enjoy male strippers and might actually exert a little control over her surroundings instead of existing as a passive, passionless vegetable under others’ “care”.

Traffic Jam (TW3 #321)

Government officials in Phoenix are violating the law by compelling [sex workers]…to participate in a program administered by religious groups, Americans United for Separation of Church and State says…the program, Project ROSE, clearly violates the First Amendment…those arrested…are forcibly taken to Bethany Bible Church…in handcuffs…[and] given the option to avoid criminal prosecution by participating in a sectarian program.  “Phoenix is essentially telling criminal suspects that they can go to church or go to jail,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn…

Shame, Shame (TW3 #348)

[Congresswoman] Jackie Speier…has apparently decided to introduce a federal “revenge porn” bill, which is being drafted, in part, by Prof. Mary Anne Franks, who has flat out admitted that her goal is to undermine Section 230 protections for websites…to make…third parties — like “Google, any website, Verizon… face liability”…[she claims] she’s not seeking to undermine Section 230 in any way…[because it] has never protected sites from liability of federal crimes – just civil infractions and state crimes.  So her goal is to make the amorphous concept of “revenge porn” a “federal crime” thereby suddenly making third-party websites liable…this effort is fraught with dangerous consequences and potential First Amendment problems…

Subtle Pimping (TW3 #403)

You’ve got to love the way she makes it sound as though it were her idea:

University of Colorado sociology professor Patti Adler has axed the prostitution skit…that led administrators to pull her from the classroom last semester…[she] cited difficulty with consent forms and worries among participants after the…skit drew national attention…In the end, Adler canceled the controversial skit and invited local sex workers to her class…Adler interviewed the sex workers…and then allowed the students to ask…questions…

Uncommon Sense (TW3 #405)

More on the German politicians who want to make life harder for whores:

…the Union [Party] wants to impose stricter controls on brothels and threaten clients with punishment.  The police and other authorities may also get the power to raid brothels without concrete suspicion, [sponsor] Thomas Strobl…said…clients should not be able to “make excuses” [if police declare that] a…prostitute has “obvious signs of ill-treatment”…the Union also wants [to reward] foreign prostitutes with…residence [if they agree to testify against]… “their tormentors” …presently, foreign forced prostitutes…do not report to the police because they…fear deportation…I Am Jennie

Drawing Lines

Former porn actress Jennifer Ketcham incoherently argues that the best way for porn actors to fight for decriminalization is to draw an artificial line between themselves and other whores.  Or something.

…Porn…advocates…are quick to distinguish between pornography and prostitution, and…it is way more okay to be a porn star than it is to be a prostitute…porn stars…[should] drop the label of “sex worker” and adopt the title of “adult film actor”…[to sever] it from the morally-loaded concept and illegality of prostitution…by drawing imaginary lines between sex work performed on camera and sex work performed behind closed doors, porn (unintentionally) debases the majority of sex workers…

The Sky is Falling! (TW3 #413)

Regarding the last line: what the hell does she think prostitution is?

…Équipe d’Action…has…[filed] legal proceedings against a “sugar daddy” dating site, which they accuse of operating a disguised prostitution racket.  The existence of such sites in France…[was ignored until] the arrival of the US site Seeking Arrangement…If the complaint is upheld in court it could change the definition of prostitution in France…Angela Jacob Bermudo, a spokeswoman for the French Seeking Arrangement site…[said] “Seeking Arrangement is not prostitution…For many girls, this is a viable option to be able to concentrate on their studies without the financial burden”…

Deafening Silence (TW3 #413)

Chinese officials violently suppress a city’s major industry, then wonder why its economy dies:

Prostitution was once rife in Dongguan…Local analysts estimated there were more than 250,000 prostitutes at its peak, and that the business generated about 50 billion yuan (HK$63 billion) a year…But…in February…authorities started a campaign to wipe out prostitution…hotel managers estimate…up to 70 per cent of prostitutes had left the city.  “The crackdown may not kill us, but it will kill [the nearby town of] Changping and then the city itself.  Without our xiaojie [whores], Changping is going to be a ghost town”…Many people working in the city’s retail and service sectors – from taxi drivers to snack sellers, landlords to restaurant bosses – grumble that their business has suffered since the…raids began…At the New South China Mall, the largest shopping centre in the world when it opened in 2005 with more than 2,000 shops, at least half the stores are vacant…

Whither Canada? (TW3 #413) 

In Canada, articles like the ones below and at right appear in the mainstream media:

…more than 300 of our fellow Canadian and international academics and researchers expressed their profound concern that the federal government is blatantly ignoring a large body of scientific evidence…that criminalization of any aspect of sex work, including the purchasing of sex, has overwhelmingly negative [effects]…banning the purchasing of sex is not scientifically grounded and sorely misguided by moral judgment of sex workers as victims.  In fact, evidence strongly suggests that this approach would recreate the same social and health-related harms of current criminalization regime…there is no evidence that criminalizing the purchasing of sex reduces or eliminates prostitution…

Whither Canada? (TW3 #414) 

Boo fucking hoo:

The person who runs Saskatoon’s “john school” is disappointed because he hasn’t had any participants since the start of this year.  Albert Brown…said that since the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the country’s anti-prostitution laws last year, his class has been empty…

Synopsis of the rest of the article: “Dirty, dirty, filthy, diseased whores!”

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Nobody was ever meant
To remember or invent
What he did with every cent.
  -  Robert Frost

People who have never owned a company often fail to understand that any institution formally organized and registered with the government is a separate entity from its owner, even if there is only one owner.  I am the sole owner and member of Maggie McNeill, LLC, yet I cannot simply take money from that entity as I please; I can pay myself as much salary or bonuses as I like, but it must be recorded that way, and if I spend the company’s money on myself without proper documentation (say, by buying cat treats or going to a movie) it is considered embezzlement.  It can get complicated; when I’m on my book tour this summer, for example, I can buy myself dinner with company funds (as long as I keep the receipts), but I could not do the same tonight because I’m not travelling on company business right now.  And though I could give copies of my book purchased with company funds to reviewers or other business contacts, if I wanted to give them to friends as gifts I’d have to buy them from the company because there is no valid promotional reason to give them to friends.

Al CaponeTo those who have never owned a company, this probably seems remarkably silly, and it would be if not for the existence of income taxes.  But because businesses and individuals are taxed differently, using company funds directly for personal use avoids having to disburse those funds on paper, so it then becomes undeclared income.  When the company is small and the amounts meager it’s unlikely the taxman will discover anything amiss, but as the amount of money in question increases the government pays a great deal more attention:  remember, while Al Capone got away with many murders and other violent crimes, it was for tax evasion that he was finally imprisoned.  And when the entity in question is a nonprofit organization, the rules are even more strict; the owner of a nonprofit is still subject to income tax even if the organization isn’t, so spending nonprofit funds on personal use is considered an even more serious offense.

The reason I’m bringing all this up right now is not merely because I got a short lecture on it from my banker last Friday, but also because of certain information a confidential source provided me just the day before that.  Remember Rachel Moran, touted by Irish prohibitionists as a former sex worker despite the fact that she doesn’t know the first thing about the profession and nobody in the area she supposedly worked had ever set eyes on her before?  And then there was her confederate Justine Reilly, who was convicted of “pimping” in 2001 but repeatedly “reframed her experiences” until she was magically transformed into the “victim of pimps” herself.  Well, with the help of Magdalene laundry front Ruhama, the two of them formed an “independent” liar’s club named “SPACE International” and then set about soliciting (ahem) donations (ahem ahem).  Here’s an interesting email exchange with Norma Ramos of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (a major prohibitionist group instrumental in spreading Swedish rot propaganda); I’ve inverted the order from the way it appears on the forwarded email so as to make it easier to read, and I’ve also hidden details like addresses and bank account numbers.

From: Rachel Moran [mailto: rachel.moran8@gmail.com]
Sent: Monday, November 11, 2013 11:05 AM
To: Norma Ramos
Cc: justine reilly
Subject: Bank account details

Dear Norma,

After more nonsense with the bank today where I have been advised that Justine and I will need to set an appointment for next week, we have decided that the commonsense thing to do is have our funding transferred into my account, where it will stay only until we have set up our joint account.

I am going to Norway tomorrow for five nights and myself and Justine are going to the UK the following week, and of course you are leaving CATW within weeks, so we feel this is the best way to deal with things for the time being and are hoping this is okay with you.

Mine is a current account, not a savings account (in case you are asked) and my bank details are below:

AIB (Allied Irish Bank) – ***** Branch
Account name: Rachel Moran
Account Number: 6******7
National Sort Code: 9****1

My home address is, * S_____ Lane, ********, Dublin **, in case you should need that. If there is anything else you need please let me know.

Thank you for this, and for everything, xx

Rachel

From: Norma Ramos <NRamos@catwinternational.org>
Date: Tuesday, November 12, 2013 4:03 PM
To: Rachel Moran < rachel.moran8@gmail.com>
Cc: justine reilly <justinereilly@ymail.com>, Corey Backes <CBackes@catwinternational.org>, Janet Gumbs <jgumbs@catwinternational.org>
Subject: RE: Bank account details

Dear Rachel,

CATW is thrilled to an award a seed grant in the amount of $5000.00 to SPACE to facilitate the development of this NGO dedicated to working against the commercial sexual exploitation of human beings. Thank you for the leadership you and Justine have shown been working to end this human rights violation. Warmest, Norma

Norma Ramos, Esq.
Executive Director
Coalition Against Trafficking in Women
Phone: (212) 643-9895
www.catwinternational.org

On Tue, Nov 12, 2013 at 9:31 PM, Janet Gumbs <JGumbs@catwinternational.org> wrote:

Dear Rachel,

I am confirming that a wire for the amount of USD 5,000,  Euro 3,656.31 was processed today.  The funds should be in your account within two days.  Please confirm receipt of these funds at such time.

Best,

Janet Gumbs
Director of Finance
Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW)
t. 212.643.9895
http://www.catwinternational.org/

From: Rachel Moran [mailto: rachel.moran8@gmail.com]
Sent: Wednesday, November 20, 2013 6:35 AM
To: Janet Gumbs
Cc: Norma Ramos; Corey Backes; justine reilly
Subject: Re: Bank account details

Dear Norma and Janet,

We are very grateful for the kind donation of USD 5,000 (Euro 3,656.31) which arrived in my account during my recent stay in Norway. We will be spending this money on communications equipment and fees and technological support, and will be retaining all receipts associated.

Our deepest thanks for your kind assistance,

Rachel and Justine

accountantWell, that’s all pretty clear; the $5000 was awarded as a “seed grant” to SPACE to “develop” its work of ending the terrible human rights violation of consensual sex.  And SPACE’s directors said the money would be spent on “communications equipment and fees and technological support,” complete with receipts.  So nothing to see here, then…except for the part where organizational funds were deposited into a private account, and also that I’ve been hearing rumors that Moran & Reilly are not exactly friends any more.  Perhaps the estrangement is due to the fact that while Moran’s star is rising (she was even interviewed by Rupert Everett for his upcoming Channel 4 documentary, Love for Sale), it seems Reilly is being quietly retired as an embarrassment.  But if Moran & Reilly are no longer a team, what about those company funds that went into Moran’s personal account?  Here’s what my source said about that:

Ms. Moran is currently living it up in the states with the funding from SPACE.  All the original founding members left, including Justine Reilly, and none of the original members had access to SPACE funding or any of the internal administration.  SPACE International is all Rachel Moran!!!

Obviously, this is merely an allegation, but it seems it would be an easy one for the Irish tax authorities to investigate were they of a mind to do so.  While the Irish government seems afraid of crossing the Laundry Orders or looking too closely at anything they’ve polluted with their foulness, governments invariably seem much more likely to sit up and take notice when taxes are involved than when it’s a matter of some trifle like the enslavement of thousands of women.

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For a model that is supposed to help prostitutes…[the Swedish model] shows them remarkably little respect.  –  Mishka Gora

Rough Trade Danford Grant on video

Accused rapist says it wasn’t rape because his victims were only whores:

Danford Grant, a prominent Seattle lawyer…is charged with six counts of rape, one count of attempted rape and one count of burglary for allegedly attacking multiple women at massage clinics…Grant’s lawyers claim Jie Shao, owner of Carnation Massage:  “deleted all the footage that recorded what really occurred…to destroy what was evidence of prostitution, not rape or attempted rape”…attorney…Richard Hansen…has repeatedly put…responsibility …on the…victims…saying…“a lot of these…(massage businesses) were advertising on Backpage…that should tell you something”…

The Lesser of Two Evils

An excellent Christian argument against criminalization of sex work, especially via the Swedish model:

…To criminalise male purchasers while simultaneously exonerating female vendors…is a violation of natural justice…this…“denial of consent”…fails to understand the motivation of women who…prefer prostitution to the alternative…the duplicity and irrationality of wanting to eliminate prostitution…while simultaneously denying the moral agency of prostitutes…is mind-boggling.  The contortions of the mind needed to support this feminist narrative have…also led to…prostitutes [being treated]…like children incapable of taking responsibility for their actions…[while] male clients…are…“sex offenders”…along with rapists and child abusers…According to Dr Melissa Farley, upon whose dubious “research” seemingly every justification of the Swedish model is based, they are “predators”…For Christians, promiscuity has [always] been the defining aspect of prostitution…medieval canonists agreed that although it was wrong for a prostitute to practice her trade, there was no wrongdoing in her receipt of money for her services…It is…hypocritical and inconsistent to criminalise only this one form of promiscuity…It is not…criminal…for a woman to have a different sexual partner each night…nor…for a man to buy his mistress an apartment, clothing, etc…integrity would demand…prohibition [of sex work] apply to all illicit sex…Such a prohibition…was ludicrous in Catholic medieval Europe, and…even more so in a modern western democracy…

Actually, This is Good News

The more sex workers are treated as other professionals are, the better:

Prostitutes could be sued for breaching the Consumer Guarantees Act, the same as any other service provider, a law professor says.  A man who tried to sue a prostitute for compensation and damages  had his claim dismissed…But…Professor Cynthia Hawes said prostitutes were…no less accountable than other service providers…”if you’ve made a contract with somebody there could be a case.  A contract of prostitution is not unlawful in itself”…

Maggie in the Media

On Wednesday I was a guest on the Inspireland podcast; you can listen to it at that link or download it on iTunes.

Parable white slave girl

For April Fools’ Day, Jenny Heineman wrote a satire entitled “It Happened To Me:  I Read And Believed Nick Kristof”:

Despite ample warnings about the prevalence of con men seeking to prey on easily malleable puppets like me…I almost became the victim of a murky, seedy, dark, sex trafficking ring operated by equally murky, seedy, dark (-skinned) men…prostitution…is never a victimless crime…all fact-based evidence to the contrary should be deeply scrutinized…Furthermore, prostitution and sex trafficking are synonyms because if you disagree…you’re a pedophile…

Somehow, I Doubt She Thought This Through

A [Connecticut] woman faces prostitution charges after…she reported being robbed by a man who responded to her ad…Nikoletta Herman…became nervous about the way he was acting…changed her mind and…the man got upset, assaulted her and stole her cellphone…

Marching Up Their Own Arses

The newest anti-whore fad:  using “licensing” to jack up prostitution fines:

…Wausau [Wisconsin] Police Chief Jeff Hardel [wants]…an escort license…ordinance [which] would impose fines in the $2,000 to $5,000 dollar range, and [require] licensed escorts to be fingerprinted, pass background checks, and file a…business plan.

Full of Themselves (Updates Galore)

Massage parlors are victims of licensing as well:

…Minneapolis will require massage businesses to be licensed…to prevent sex trafficking…With cooperation from…victims, prosecutors are…working to drive down the demand…through aggressive prosecuting of “johns.”  The city also has conducted training sessions to educate hotel and motel owners and employees to recognize, report and stop sex trafficking…

coffee crack pipe
To paraphrase one line from the article, “The new law is intended to make Minneapolis a safe police state to call home.”

Gullible’s Travels

Coffee smoking is a dangerous new trend that could be going viral among teens…But the side effects can be dangerous. People have reported trouble breathing, dizziness, vomiting and even hallucinations.”

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs

violence and assault against sex workers by the police…has come under the scanner of the Karnataka State Human Rights Commission…Peoples’ Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) filed a complaint…on behalf of the sex workers…”Women have been beaten up just for standing on the road, or while walking towards the bus stop…Women have been…compelled to pay money, failing which they are threatened that false cases will be filed against them,” Professor Rajendra Y J of PUCL said…

The Prudish Giant (TW3 #9)

PayPal is at it again; here’s a letter sent out on Monday by the crowd-funding platform Patreon (which lets patrons pledge a set amount to an artist for every new work created) to artists who create “adult” material:

…we had to change your custom URL and set your Patreon page to “private”…users must [now] have a specific link to view your page, as it no longer appears in our search results.  We got a notice from Paypal this morning that they were shutting down their entire integration with Patreon because of “adult content” on our site!  As you can imagine, this would be detrimental to creators – hundreds of thousands of dollars were to be “frozen” unless we flagged all adult content pages, made them private, and removed Paypal functionality from their individual pages…We have already emailed your patrons who signed up to become your patron through Paypal, and we have asked them to switch over to a credit card.  No action is needed on your part, however, if you would like to email your patrons as well, that could be helpful in converting patrons from Paypal to credit card…

Above the Law 

Kansas jailer Kenneth Reese “has been arrested, accused of sex crimes against jail inmates”; the first allegation a year ago didn’t go anywhere, but a second accusation seems to have tipped the balance.  Meanwhile, in Louisiana, “Richland Parish Sheriff’s Deputy Dewey Allen has been arrested on charges of sexual battery and malfeasance…

Held Together With Lies

Emily J does a splendid job of ripping apart prohibitionist nonsense:

…here are the basic numbers of their claims:  140 girls & women in Ottawa right now are trafficked sex slaves…[each makes] $260 000 – $280 000…on average…[at] $200/Hour average price…$260 000 per year at $200/hour…[is] 1300 sessions in a year…if each one works 365 days per year, they earn $712 per day…[and] 3.56 clients per day, every single day…that’s 498 unique men seeing trafficked girls in Ottawa…[and] 182,000 sessions per year…[which would mean] 65% of all men in Ottawa have had sex with a trafficked sex slave…

Number Puzzle

The invaluable Wendy Lyon debunks another bogus “trafficking” study:

There’s been much in the Irish media…about a new report on sex workers’ clients…You’d need a pretty small population size for 58 [respondents] to…tell us anything about clients as a class – and the authors can hardly claim simultaneously that the population size is small enough, and that it spends €250m a year…if the respondents amounted to even 10% of the sex-buying population of Ireland, that would still require them to pay an average of €431,034 per year for sex…the…survey…asks…Have you ever changed your mind and walked away because the person seemed…a list of options follows, including “scared”, “controlled”, “unwilling”, “unhappy” and “too young”…a client who…walked out of an appointment with an independent escort who was in a bad mood…[was] recorded as having encountered a sex worker who he believed was exploited or trafficked.  This…is a gigantic leap that undermines whatever credibility this survey might otherwise have had…

Under Every Bed

This collection of single sentences  about the “sex trafficking problem” in Boise, Idaho (population 200,000; known chiefly for lumber and potatoes) is not actually organized into a coherent article; apparently, its “writer” is a dual devotee of the “sex trafficking” cult and the Hemingway software.  The gems found therein include (multiple sic):  “a child is taken in…they’re used not only for prostitution but also in gang organized crimes”; “victims…go through a ‘moral development’ period…in order to stay safe they must go along with their captures”; and “investigators…believe that a major problem stems from the Internet…‘where kids play online’”.

Bottleneck (TW3 #324)

This breathless article from the Canberra Times is clearly intended as an attack on decriminalization in New South Wales:  it spouts “sex trafficking” nonsense; quotes cops, politicians and an NGO named “Brothel Busters”; and does not quote any sex worker organizations at all.  But like many prohibitionist screeds about the “failure” of legal sex work regimes, it ignores a vital point:  the women it discusses are only victims because they are specifically excluded from working legally via some legal bottleneck, in this case the inability to get visas for sex work.  Naturally, Scarlet Alliance has repeatedly warned the government about this exact issue.

Bootlickers (TW3 #326) 

Because surely there are scads of women who think escort to barista is a good career move:

[Sheriff's Sgt. Darrell L. O'Neill] was charged…with felony promoting prostitution…for allegedly tipping off bikini baristas in exchange for sexual favors…[cops claim] Java Juggs stands hire young women who have worked as strippers and escorts and “essentially operate as drive-through strip clubs or brothels”…

Innocence Never Had

Another useless public policy based upon the absurd notion of magical “pimp” mind control powers:

[Los Angeles] officials are exploring a plan to require more…training for foster parents and group home workers to help them recognize …signs that children and teens under their care may be victims of sex trafficking…pimps sometimes recruit underage sex workers from group homes…Rachel Thomas, a sex trafficking survivor [said]…”There’s a grooming process…with recognizable signs.”

The Punitive Mindset (TW3 #352) 

Campaigners fighting the Ministry of Justice over a ban on books being sent to prisoners…threatened to take their battle to the courts…Geoffrey Robertson QC, who has offered his services for free, said…justice secretary Chris Grayling [is] acting “unlawfully and irrationally”…to inflict “cruel and unusual punishment” on literate prisoners.  “Grayling is not a lawyer, he is a politician who seems to think he is above the law,” said Robertson…”He has no power to impose additional punishment on prisoners over and above that which is imposed by the courts.  The action has nothing to do with prison security or any other legitimate purpose”…Grayling [pretends]…”the arrival of thousands of unknown parcels in our prisons each day”…would undermine the…battle against drugs…

R.I.P. Andrew Hunter

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #410)

Sex workers from across the UK and rest of Europe crammed into a select committee room in the House of Commons to argue against plans to change prostitution laws that would criminalise clients…

Whither Canada? 

Canadian prohibitionist is sad because he can no longer force sex workers traumatized by arrest to listen to his “rescue” sales pitch:

A prostitute rescue program…is now on hold because police are no longer laying prostitution charges in Saskatoon, says…Don Meikle…once an arrest was made “we would be sitting at the police station waiting for them…It’s…very disappointing…It’s taken away that crisis that quite often created change”…

The rest of the article is littered with words like “combating prostitution” and the program is praised by a pro-Swedish model prohibitionist group.

Delightful Conversation

Go back and look at the text below the second picture on yesterday’s column (which I actually posted on March 8th) before reading this:

…[Miranda Barbour] made up the claim that she killed more than 20 people and is drawing on the escapades of television serial killer “Dexter,” her sister said…”She takes a lot of truths and puts the lie in the middle so when people…see all these truths…they believe the lie”…Ashley Dean said Elytte Barbour loved the TV show Dexter and suggested that her sister…”is using descriptions from the show”…

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We call on the Government of Canada to join with global leaders, community, researchers and legal experts in rejecting criminalization regimes, including those that criminalize the purchase of sexual services, and instead support the decriminalization of sex work…as scientifically-grounded and necessary to ensuring the safety, health, and human rights of sex workers.  -  The Gender & Sexual Health Initiative

Maggie in the Media

Here’s an interview with me on the Euvoluntary Exchange podcast, and a guest column I did for Radley Balko’s blog at the Washington Post.

Do As I Say, Not As I Do Steve Smith

The Robbinsdale [Minnesota] police chief resigned from his position…after…he was arrested in a prostitution sting…ten people were arrested…including…Steven Smith…

The Scarlet Letter

Richmond, California’s…police department…plans to…post…photos of men arrested in prostitution stings to Facebook and Twitter…even though these men might not ever be convicted of any crime…

And Speaking of Victim Blaming…

It’s blessedly absent from this story:

Two…thugs bound and gagged a prostitute after robbing her — thinking that she wouldn’t call the police.  Jason Barton…and John Coulter…were joined by David Coulter from Northern Ireland, in a sickening attack on the 27-year-old Polish woman…[who] was found in her flat after her muffled cries for help were heard.  She pleaded with the tower block caretaker not to call the police but he ignored her protests…the vile trio…[was] found guilty… Book of Legendary Lands

Presents, Presents, Presents!

This week I received Playing the Whore and The Book of Legendary Lands from Korhomme and The Pink Panther Classic Cartoon Collection from Gumdeo.  Thank you both so much!

The Sky is Falling!

The arrival of…Seeking Arrangement…has caused…consternation in France…40,000 French “sugar babies” have already signed up…“Seeking Arrangement takes advantage of the financial misery of students.  The site hides violence against women in beautiful wrapping paper,” said Anne-Cecile Mailfert…[of] Osez le Feminisme…“We hope lawmakers will [ban] websites when they…adopt…the law criminalizing the purchasing of sex”…

Thou Shalt Not

Because prohibition always works so well:

Leading doctors have called for a ban on cigarette sales to those born after 2000 in a programme of “progressive prohibition”…They urged the British Medical Association to lobby for a complete ban on the sale of cigarettes to anyone born in this century…

Above the Law 

Maryland Transit Administration Officer Martez Johnson…[gave a woman] a ride…after an MTA bus hit her car about 3 a.m. March 13…Martez walked the woman to the front door of her home…[then] forced his way inside…pushed her onto her couch and raped her…After he left, she called 911…Earlier this week, a Baltimore City police officer was charged…[with buying sex from] a 14-year-old girl advertising prostitution services online…

Finding What Isn’t There

In science, theories change to fit facts.  In politics, facts change to fit beliefs:

…a law designed to catch human traffickers…has netted few charges and even fewer convictions in Canada, anti-trafficking advocates complain.  There have been [only] 35…convictions since new laws…came into effect in 2005…MP Joy Smith…says more charges and convictions [must be created]…Jennifer Mann, a…Crown attorney, said…it’s…under-reported…But…John Ferguson, a retired RCMP superintendent, says the lack of convictions…may indicate that it is not that widespread…

Only one man is willing to accept that women have agency; all the women interviewed insist that childlike women are “controlled” by evil men.

An Example To the West (TW3 #39) Rajib Boy

The impoverished son of a sex worker in Calcutta…has been selected to participate in a Manchester United soccer training camp…Rajib Boy, 16…will head to the U.K. in April…amid hopes that the sport will liberate them both from poverty…”I am not ashamed of being a sex worker’s son…She is my main source of inspiration.  But I want to take her out of the red-light district as early as possible”…

Buried Truth

[Illinois] State Rep. Keith Farnham stepped down…after Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents raided his home and his state office [for child porn]…Farnham…has…co-sponsored two laws cracking down child pornography [including] one…stiffening penalties for its possession…

Prudish Pedants (TW3 #133)

A federal appeals court…upheld the convictions of…fetish filmmaker…Ira Isaacs…A three-judge panel of the…9th Circuit Court of Appeals…rejected Isaacs’ arguments that the lower court…abused its discretion by excluding [his] proposed expert testimony.  Defense attorney Roger Jon Diamond said he would discuss with Isaacs whether to file a petition for rehearing before the full 11-judge appeals panel…

The Proper Study (TW3 #319)

Porn Studies has released its first issue:

…In the introduction…editors-in-chief – Feona Attwood…and Clarissa Smith…write:  “Recent years have seen a resurgence of public discussions (and scares) about…pornography-related topics, perhaps most notably the expansions of pornography across the internet, its putative links to rape and sexual violence, and erotic life-styling or the oft-cited ‘sexualisation of culture’”…

Predictably, Gail Dines used the occasion to bark at the moon.

FearusOscillation (TW3 #321)

You’ve probably seen this image floating around the internet, and since it contains the address of a long-abandoned website someone bought that domain in order to debunk the image.  The nutshell version: in the original 1979 survey, students were given a five-point range from “always” to “never”, and this chart counts all responses except “never” as a “yes” response.  It certainly changes one’s impression to know that the “yes” percentages are actually four different gradations of agreement added together, doesn’t it?

Unmentionables

Chase Paymentech…told Lovability founder Tiffany Gaines…that the company considers it a “reputational risk” to handle online payments for condoms, which it classifies as an “adult-oriented product”…Gaines…created Lovability with the goal of making it less awkward for women to buy condoms

Micromanagement

Dr. Feelsad wants DNA surveillance of sex workers because of his sadfeelz:

…DNA…can be a powerful tool in combating human trafficking, according to forensic scientist Timothy Palmbach…[who] set out…to…develop…a DNA database of victims and at-risk persons…Palmbach ventured to a number of places, including Costa Rica, Nepal and Djibouti to see if he could successfully identify and obtain DNA samples from victims and possible perpetrators…in Costa Rica…police asked for help investigating a hotel known for sex tourism… he eventually found himself alone with a 14-year-old girl…[who would have charged him] $400 an hour…Palmbach [said] “I really almost started to cry…I just saw the depravity of the situation and how much it’s all driven by money and demand”…

O, Canada! (TW3 #405)

More harassment of legal sex workers in Canada:

…CEASE, the Centre to End All Sexual Exploitation…[is harassing sex workers with offensive] texts…Any sex worker with a phone number listed in the Edmonton…Backpage.com has likely received one of [the]…messages…Project Backpage [is] a new collaboration between the University of Alberta, Chrysalis Network…and CEASE…Because the sex industry has mostly moved from the streets to the Internet, [rescue industry] groups are finding it more difficult to [annoy] women…Susan Davis…[of] the West Coast Cooperative of Sex Industry Professionals…takes the view that the texting tactic is a preferable alternative to police raids and sting operations, such as Operation Spotlight…

ritual shaming
Deafening Silence (TW3 #407) 

China aims to prove it can be at least as stupid and brutal as the US when it comes to destroying businesses and hurting the economy through liberal use of cops and dysphemisms:

The vice crackdown that began in Dongguan last month has resulted in the arrest of more than 850 suspects and will expand across Guangdong before it wraps up in May…the three-month campaign against the illegal sex trade has already led to the break-up of more than 60 criminal gangs…[and] cost more than 3,000 hotels, saunas and massage parlours their licences…In addition, some 854 websites and more than 96,000 public instant-messaging accounts have been closed for promoting sex services online…

Imaginary Crises (TW3 #410)

Articles like this give me hope that we’ll eventually start seeing similar ones about “sex trafficking” hysteria:

The nation’s largest and most influential anti-sexual-violence organization is rejecting the idea that culture — as opposed to the actions of individuals — is responsible for rape…Recently, rape-culture theory has migrated from the lonely corners of the feminist blogosphere into the mainstream.  In January, the White House  asserted that we need to combat campus rape by “[changing] a culture of passivity and tolerance in this country, which too often allows this type of violence to persist.”  Tolerance for rape?  Rape is a horrific crime, and rapists are despised…there’s no evidence that it’s considered a cultural norm…Rape-culture theory is doing little to help victims, but its power to poison the minds of young women and lead to hostile environments for innocent males is immense…But now…RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network)…repudiates the rhetoric…and…is especially critical of the idea that we need to focus on teaching men not to rape…

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #410)

A poll…shows that over half the population of the UK is opposed to the criminalisation of prostitution.  Only three in ten nationwide were in favour.  In London it was only one in four…The exact wording for the poll was:  Currently in the UK under certain circumstances, it is legal for men and women to pay for sex.  There are some people that wish to make it illegal for the user to pay for sex.  Do you think such a criminalisation is a good idea or not?…51% agreed that “No, paying for sex should not be criminalized.”  31% agreed that “Yes, it should be illegal to pay for sex.”  The other 18% had no opinion.  There was little difference between the sexes with 53% of men and 49% of women opposing criminalisation.  Under a third of both sexes were in favour…

To Protect and Serve (TW3 #411)

25 exotic dancers filed suit against the [San Diego Police] Department for violating their civil rights…during a routine permit inspection…10 unidentified officers detained the dancers under no stated suspicion and began photographing…[them] against their will for roughly one hour…

Whither Canada? Joy Smith

It’s good to see real information in the public discussion of sex work in Canada:

The Conservatives say they are listening to all the submissions they receive before they draw up Canada’s new prostitution law…But the…government [is using] a report by Conservative MP Joy Smith, titled The Tipping Point, as the intellectual underpinning for…the so-called Nordic model…The problem is much of the research cited in The Tipping Point is highly selective — ignoring truths that are inconvenient or cast the Swedish model in a poor light…The…report contends that countries like New Zealand that have decriminalized…have seen a dramatic increase in sexual exploitation and violence.  But anyone who reads the Prostitution Law Review Committee report assessing New Zealand’s legislation comes away with a very different impression…

And here’s one from the Ottawa Citizen:

…In Canada, we’ve been sold a false dilemma that presents only the possibility of a “Nordic”…regime or…“Dutch” approach…But Canadian sex workers…know that New Zealand’s model…merits much closer consideration…Sex workers in New Zealand are now covered by labour laws…the Prostitution Reform Act has not resulted in any growth of the sex industry or increase in number of sex workers, nor has the sky fallen.  The Prostitution Law Review Committee…found that there has been a marked improvement in employment conditions and a decrease in violence…

And an open letter signed by 300 academics:

We…are profoundly concerned that the Government…is considering …new legislation to criminalize the purchasing of sex.  The proposed legislation is not scientifically grounded and evidence strongly suggests that it would recreate the same…harms of current criminalization.  We join other sex worker, research, and legal experts across the country and urge the Government of Canada to follow the Supreme Court…decision and support decriminalization of sex work as a critical evidence-based approach to ensuring the safety, health, and human rights of sex workers…

Surplus Women (TW3 #412)

What if…Orange County [California is] dealing with a serial killer preying on prostitutes?…Orange County…formed a multi-agency task force when homeless men were being fatally stabbed over a few months…but [are] not doing so now when the victims [are] female prostitutes…Are cops making a judgment call on which type of victims are worthy of their attention?  Anaheim Police Lt. Tim Schmidt…[says] “We don’t have the evidence to say they’re connected”…of the cases involving missing persons Kianna Jackson, Josephine Vargas…Martha Anaya…Tina Hoang and Jarrae Estepp…[rescue industry figure] Lois Lee…of Children of the Night…[says] “It’s just a high-risk job”…

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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on March 9th; I have modified it slightly to fit the format of this blog.

Great Social EvilFor most of the Twentieth Century, “authorities” in many Western countries (especially the United States) chose to portray sex workers as either criminals to be jailed or “problems” to be solved, “social evils” as the Victorians had termed us.  But by the 1970s, that narrative was wearing thin:  the sexual revolution had opened many people’s eyes to the fact that sex is not some magical polluting force, and early feminists campaigned for sex workers’ rights.  Though mainstream feminism went anti-sex in the ‘80s, the legacies of the civil rights movement, the gay rights movement and the sexual revolution had by then undermined the official narrative; the portrayal of sex workers in movies and TV shows had become much more positive, and the average person was beginning to see anti-harlot crusades for what they are:  authoritarian interference in people’s private lives.  Clearly, that couldn’t be allowed to continue; something had to be done, so prohibitionists

…created the “sex trafficking” hysteria as a means of rallying the public behind criminalization again.  As the “Nation Strategy” of Swanee Hunt’s Demand Abolition organization states, “Framing the Campaign’s key target as sexual slavery might garner more support and less resistance, while framing the Campaign as combating prostitution may be less likely to mobilize similar levels of support and to stimulate stronger opposition.”  In other words, “since people now recognize it’s wrong for the government to stick its nose into private bedrooms, we have to pretend this is really about something else.”

Nowadays, it’s rare to hear old-style police talk about locking up the dirty whores to protect the public from them; far more often, armed raids in which women are terrorized, handcuffed, evicted in freezing weather, humiliated, caged, gang-raped or otherwise brutalized are described as “rescues”.  “Sex trafficking” does far more than let cops rebrand their usual sadism as heroism, however; it also produces more practical results, such as immigration control:

Specialist anti-slavery teams are to be based inside UK airports in a bid to clamp down on human trafficking…The first team will be based at Heathrow from 1 April before the scheme is rolled out to other airports.  They will be tasked with identifying victims and disrupting criminal gangs involved in international trafficking.  The government says the scheme will ensure there is “no easy route into the UK for traffickers”…

“The scheme is part of a larger plan to ensure there is no easy route into the UK”.  There, fixed it for you.  But pandering to xenophobia is only one way in which “sex trafficking” hysteria is useful to politicians:

[Maine state] Rep. Amy Volk…would give courts permission to vacate prostitution convictions against people who [can prove they] were forced or coerced into the crime.  [Her] bill…also would set up a compensation fund for victims, paid for with increased fines for those who are convicted of promoting prostitution.  It also would make the crime of furnishing drugs to a prostitute an aggravated offense…Ben Grant, chairman of the Maine Democratic Party, accused Volk, a pro-life legislator, of trying to “soften her edges” on women’s issues by sponsoring the bill…

Rob Bell preachingThis is, of course, a nonsensical accusation; a bill which infantilizes women (compare “furnishing drugs to a prostitute” with “furnishing alcohol to a minor”) would hardly seem out of character for an anti-abortion politician, and the “sex trafficking” hysteria is so thoroughly grounded in Protestant Christian morality that the politician Linda Smith, founder of Shared Hope International, once described “anti-trafficking” activism as “an extension of the ‘pro-life’ cause”.  Yet the most important advantage of the hysteria to governments is only hinted at in the article above; it is spelled out clearly in the one below:

Recently the Virginia House of Delegates passed two bills ostensibly aimed at…human trafficking…HB 235 forces people convicted of soliciting an underage prostitute to register as sex offenders.  HB 660 enables prosecutors to seize the earnings of sex workers.  The bills were submitted by…Rob Bell…who in 2012 voted in favor of a bill requiring all women to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound prior to having an abortion.  In the same session, he was the primary sponsor of a bill…requiring police to inquire into the citizenship of anyone arrested, regardless of criminal charges…[So-called] abolitionists want to eliminate sex work through more punitive legislation.  Generally motivated by moral opposition to sex work, they have moved into using outrage and concern over human trafficking to push for harsher laws aimed at punishing sex workers.  HB 660 is exactly this sort of bill.  It allows police to take possession of these women’s property, including cash and vehicles, upon their arrest.  The women don’t even need to be convicted…incentivizing cops to arrest more grown women by allowing them to seize their earnings will do nothing but line the pockets of police department at the expense of an already-vulnerable population…

All three strands come together in the person of Rob Bell:  the fundamentalist Christian crusade to control women’s bodies, a xenophobic anti-immigrant agenda and an opportunity to fill the state’s coffers by legalized theft.  Official narratives pretend that government actors want to “help” sex workers, but in reality the only people these “authorities” are “helping” is themselves.

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If you believe that selling sex means selling women, you believe that a woman’s value equals her capacity to have sex.  -  Kate Heartfield

The Slave-Whore Fantasy Timothy Jay Vafeades

Yet another example of what  real sex slavery looks like:

A Utah truck driver kept sex slaves in his semitrailer for months at a time while he traveled the country, filing down their teeth, forcing them to alter their appearance and beating them until they nearly passed out…The charges against [Timothy Jay Vafeades] include kidnapping, [Mann Act violations] and possession of child pornography, and could bring a life sentence if he is convicted…

Sisters in Arms

When I miscarried at 22 weeks in 1994, the cops weren’t even informed, much less involved.  If that happened today, it might be very different (especially if I weren’t white).  This detailed article on the Rennie Gibbs case touches on other, similar travesties, but also establishes the case as part of the pattern of willful incompetence perpetrated by Steven Hayne, Mississippi prosecutors’ go-to medical examiner for over 20 years because he was willing to declare just about anything a murder without the slightest scrap of valid scientific basis.  Veteran Agitator readers will no doubt remember Hayne, whom Radley Balko wrote about many times.

Surplus Women

Prohibitionists use a young woman’s murder as an excuse to deny her agency and talk about short skirts:

A…nonprofit that works with sex workers is holding a candlelight vigil for a 21-year-old woman whose naked body was found last week on a conveyor belt inside an Anaheim [California] trash-sorting facility…No Boundaries International…said they had frequent contact with Jarrae Nykkole Estepp in Oklahoma City in 2012, when she was featured in several videos…on…JohnTV.com…Detectives believe the woman was probably [murdered, then] dumped in a garbage bin and…delivered to the plant by a trash truck…

See No Evil

Graphic illustrations of child molestation in a vintage book have landed librarians in…Sweden in…trouble with police…I Last Och Lust…contains illustrations…to show how sexuality has been depicted historically…head librarian [Anna-Karin Axelsson said]…”We cannot go back and clean up history…that’s not what libraries are meant to do”…the title [will now] be kept for…research only…

Hark, Hark, the Dogs Do BarkFree To Be You and Me

On March 11, 1974, ABC aired Marlo Thomas’ “Free to Be…You and Me” — a musical program celebrating gender-free children…and…[envisioning] a world…[of] non-gendered human persons…But, after 40 years of gender activism, boys and girls show few signs of liking to do the same things.  From the earliest age, boys show a distinct preference for active outdoor play…with…clearly defined winners and losers…[while] girls…are more drawn to imaginative theatrical games…the…preferences…hold cross-culturally and even cross-species…ignoring differences between boys and girls can be just as damaging as creating differences where none exist…

Above the Law 

Another week, another rapist cop:

A San Jose [California] police officer has been arrested and charged with raping a woman…after she had argued with her husband…  Geoffrey Graves…and three other…officers responded to a [domestic violence call]…the woman…[said] she wanted to spend the night at a hotel…Graves…[followed her] to her room…and…[forcibly] raped her…Police Chief Larry Esquivel called the case…”an isolated incident”…

It’s so very isolated that I have another one right here:

Sheriff’s deputies arrested [an]…Irwindale police sergeant on suspicion of sexually assaulting a woman…David Paul Fraijo…stopped [a newspaper carrier on her route, then groped and orally raped her]…the [resulting] lawsuit…was [settled] in January…for $400,000…Fraijo faces a maximum penalty of life in…prison…

Some cops don’t even “isolate” their attentions to one woman at a time:

A U.S. Border Patrol agent [who raped] three undocumented immigrants was found dead in his Texas home, likely by his own hand…a…woman…told officials that [Esteban Manzanares] had attacked her, her 14-year-old daughter, and another 14-year-old girl…She and [her daughter] had been raped and left for dead…[Manzanares tied up the other girl in his home] until he finished his shift…then returned…raped her, and committed suicide…

An Example to the West 

Megan Schmidt-Sane and Meena Seshu respond to rescue industry types:

In a CNN piece…last year…Jane Wells and John-Keith Wasson…blatantly ignore the voices of sex workers…As representatives of two of the largest sex worker rights organizations in India and Uganda, we hope to ensure that [their] voices…are heard…Wells and Wasson…cite imaginary statistics…[and] falsely state that a “small percentage of voluntary sex workers” are somehow condemning a vast number of women into sexual slavery…

Broken Record

The latest gypsy whore tale is among the funniest yet:  “High school tournament season in Des Moines…[has] a dark side…human trafficking victimizes over 25 million…worldwide each year…The state of Iowa is not immune to this crime…”  Yes, 4% of the world’s population has been “sex trafficked” since the hysteria started, many at high school football games.

Pull the String!

Turns out Ed Wood made a few commercials in the late ‘40s, before he embarked on his movie career; note that these are generic so the local sponsor could insert a card for his specific business.  Look for Wood himself as the magician in the last one.

King of the Hill

Two for one!

…the film Chosen…was produced by Shared Hope International…and portrays true experiences of two young All American girls who were lured into sex trafficking…Oregon and Washington along the Interstate 5 corridor leads the nation in the number of victims…

Lying Down With Dogs (TW3 #44)

A group of Tunisian sex workers have demanded to be allowed to return to work, 18 months after their brothel in the coastal town of Sousse was attacked by Salafists and closed down.  A delegation …[presented] a petition signed by 120 women calling for their brothel…to be allowed to reopen…

Skin To Skin

The Netherlands is known for its social subsidies on everything from education to housing, but it’s also subsidizing sex for the disabled…While there is no direct “sex grant” per se…benefits…can be spent however they like…social workers, caretakers and affected individuals are calling for increased access to sex services for citizens with disabilities…

First They Came for the Hookers… (TW3 #322) Reema Bajaj

The spectacle of lawyers censuring other lawyers for lying probably exceeds safe levels of irony for a public facility:

The Illinois Supreme Court has agreed to a three-year suspension for a solo lawyer who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of prostitution and failed to disclose her illegal work history on her bar application.  Reema Nicki Bajaj…was suspended [for not mentioning sex work she did to put herself through law school]…in response to a question about jobs she held in the last 10 years…

Wise Investment (TW3 #335)

An agreement has been reached with the City of Vancouver and the provincial and federal governments to pay $50,000 to each of 11 families whose relatives were victimized by serial killer Robert Pickton…The civil suit was launched last May by the children of four women whose remains…were found on  Pickton’s…farm after his arrest in 2002.  Other families had since joined…The lawsuit claimed police…failed to warn women on the Downtown Eastside that a serial killer may have been on the loose…

Buttons, Bags & Banknotes

Jerry Barnett…of…Sex & Censorship, said he was “delighted” with the turnout at the “Don’t Censor Me!” protest…against the Stop Porn Culture conference, including representatives from the English Collective of Prostitutes, the Sex Worker Open University and Queer Strike campaign groups…Stop Porn Culture [leaders]…Gail Dines and…Julie Bindel…aim…to expand the “antipornography feminist movement” in the U.K…Dines and Bindel appeared outside…to debate with the…crowd…for about 15 minutes…

Catastrophic Consequences (TW3 #406)

Police carried out inspections of Edinburgh’s…saunas hours before a new system came into force that is likely to make brothel raids more difficult…police will [now] need a warrant to search premises…Margo MacDonald MSP said…”Last year’s raids have backfired badly on the police…There was a successful policy in place for 30 years, but now the women have less protection and police will have less access to intelligence.  Trust has been shattered”…

Gingerbread House (All Traffick, All the Time) arrested teen girl

If a sex worker doesn’t see herself as a victim, the state must victimize her to prove her wrong:

A [Florida] bill…was temporarily postponed after senators determined that placing human trafficking victims in a locked facility is not a good idea…The…bill…was created by the House Healthy Families Subcommittee, where…[its sponsor] said…[it] was designed to break young trafficking victims away from former lives…“So many of [them] don’t see themselves as victims”…

An earlier version of the story informs us that “Florida [has] the third-highest rate of child sex-trafficking in the country.  Jacksonville is third in the state…

Traffic Jam (All Traffick, All the Time)

More busybodies who want to help cops brutalize and cage women:

…three St. Louis area women…are developing a website of hotel room photographs that can be accessed by police…hoping to track down…victims of sex trafficking…and their pimps…millions of [sex workers post]…pictures of [themselves in] their rooms [in their Backpage ads]…the website is in initial development and needs about $200,000 in funding.  When it is ready, images…will be cataloged by hotel name, city and date taken and possibly made searchable by room color or other basic decor…

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #408)

The European Parliament recently recommended that its member states should criminalise sex work.  This has prompted 26 Danish researchers to sign a protest letter against the proposal, as they believe that…politicians have ignored the majority of the research in this field, including reports from the UN, WHO and Human Rights Watch, who all recommend a decriminalisation of sex work…

Traffic Jam (TW3 #409)

The ACLU actually did something for sex workers for a change:

Dozens of supporters packed the courtroom…in support of…activist Monica Jones…[whose] lawyer filed a motion to challenge [the law] on constitutional grounds, resulting in the trial being postponed until April 11th.  Ms. Jones [stated], “We will be back with twice as many people”…Sex Workers’ Outreach Project (SWOP) of Phoenix is continuing to build momentum for Monica Jones’ case with the support of the ACLU motion…

The Public Eye (TW3 #410)

Noah Berlatsky proves himself a valuable ally to sex workers with another good article in The Atlantic, this one using the hubbub surrounding Belle Knox to launch a sensible and well-informed discussion of student sex workers which also quotes Melissa Gira Grant and regular reader Christina Parreira.

Whither Canada?

The Canadian government’s consultation on prostitution laws ended on Monday, but it hardly seems likely to have much influence over politicians, who have already decided to pursue some form of criminalization instead of listening to the sensible advice of sex workers, human rights advocates and even many criminologists.  By the public discourse, one would think the New Zealand model didn’t even exist; editorials like that in the Globe and Mail pretend that the only two legislative models in the world are the Dutch and Swedish modelsdisguised cop (which criminalize either some or all sales of sex, respectively).  And though a sizeable fraction of the members of the Liberal Party (whose past leader Pierre Trudeau famously said, “There’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation”) support decriminalization, a motion to adopt that as official policy was pulled in the name of political expediency.  So though most of the Canadian media oppose blanket criminalization (even under its fake-moustache Swedish disguise), only the Ottawa Citizen has come out in favor of full decriminalization:

…supporters of the Nordic model…say [prostitution] is a commodity sale [that] is inherently objectifying and exploitative…A woman who believes she is freely choosing her job…is a victim whether she knows it or not…that same notion underpins many of the world’s most sexist ideas — including the idea…that rape is a property crime.  We in Canada don’t generally talk about rape that way any more, but we still use that language when we talk about prostitution.  We use phrases like “selling her body” or even “selling herself” — rather than “selling sex”…We don’t say that a hairstylist “sells her hands” or that a doctor “sells herself”…a woman’s value as a human being has nothing to do with whom she chooses to have sex with or how often or what conditions she imposes on that choice…sex is merely the service she sells…

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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on February 16th; I have modified it slightly for time references and to fit the format of this blog.

Bedford victoryAs you probably know unless you’ve been living in a cave, three months ago the Supreme Court of Canada overturned the laws which made the legal activity of selling sex much more difficult and dangerous, just as similar laws in the UK, India, parts of Australia and many other countries do.  As I wrote in “What Next?” just two weeks after the decision, “there is nothing in it to prevent the imposition of American-style criminalization”:

Were this the United States, you can bet the legislature’s immediate response would be criminalization. However, it’s a little different in Canada…[which] has since the late 1960s maintained a [relatively] strong tradition…that “the state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation”…On the other hand, the government has heavily invested its…case in neofeminist rhetoric, and recently adopted the Swedish model as its official position; several MPs have released long-winded “explanations” of the “fact” that women are permanent victims who shouldn’t be allowed to choose sex work.  There is little likelihood that a system proven to increase violence and stigmatization of sex workers would pass muster under Bedford, yet at the same time it would be rather embarrassing for the government to push for the direct criminalization of sex workers after proclaiming us too weak to avoid being controlled by morally-superior clients and “pimps”…

Once politicians started returning to work after the holidays, they immediately began to issue the predictable torrent of nonsense and panic-mongering.  The chief font of this flow of sewage has been Justice Minister Peter MacKay, who emitted the ludicrous (but typical) claim that Canada would become “a haven for sex tourism” (despite the fact that New Zealand and New South Wales have not), and the even more absurd statement that the sex industry is more complicated than the medical industry; he then pontificated on the “significant harms flowing from the sex trade” (ignoring the court’s finding that the laws he supports are the cause of those harms) and delivered a pitch for the abominable Swedish model (which, as pointed out above, could not possibly stand under the Bedford decision because it’s at least as harmful as the laws that were overturned, if not more so).  He also boasted that the new laws would be ready “well before” the court’s December 20th deadline.

Say NO to the Nordic Model in CanadaBut outside of Conservative Party enclaves, evangelical Christian churches and anti-sex feminist cults, there just isn’t much support in Canada for the puritanical pretense that consensual sex magically becomes violent and sinful merely because money overtly changes hands.  Young Liberals in British Columbia are pushing for their party to officially adopt a pro-decriminalization stance and have castigated Justin Trudeau and other party leaders who seem ready to get in the Swedish bed with the Conservatives.  The Vancouver City Council has “unanimously passed a motion to accept recommendations intended to increase safety and services for sex workers”.  British Columbia, Ontario, New Brunswick and Alberta are all declining to pursue ordinary prostitution charges, and Newfoundland has had virtually no new cases since the Himel decision in 2010.  Newspapers routinely print sex worker-friendly articles, and editorials like this one are typical:

You’d think the sky was falling with all of the misconceptions circulating concerning the recent Supreme Court of Canada decision striking down our prostitution laws.  No, the Supreme Court has not legalized prostitution…[which] was [already] legal…No, sex trade workers will not be flocking to your neighbourhood any more than they already have…They are already in many neighbourhoods…[seeing] clients in the warmth of their homes, apartments, condominiums and hotel/motel rooms…albeit illegally…because the use of any home, apartment or even a hotel room on a frequent basis for the purposes of prostitution violates the brothel prohibition.  No, the Supreme Court decision won’t increase the number of sex trade workers…Does anyone think…[they] decide to get into the business after a thorough study of the criminal law and the legal risks of prosecution?…No, the decision won’t increase the incidence of sex slaves and human trafficking…attempting to enforce a moral code by criminalizing prostitution, or the activities surrounding it, is a waste of resources…

There’s still no way to tell how long and winding a road Canada will have to traverse before it reaches the inevitable conclusion that Canadian courts, sex worker rights activists, the UN and organizations like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International are correct in saying decriminalization is the only moral and effective model for sex work; it may be mere months, or years, or decades, and the way may be littered with the corpses of failed attempts to re-criminalize it before the busybodies eventually give up.  But unlike the UK (which seems to be going in circles) or the US (which is insanely marching in the wrong direction), the Canadians at least seem to be on the right course.

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Last week I published a letter from an exceptional woman:  though she’s a Christian with a strong personal aversion to sex work, she has deeply considered the issues and realized that there are many, many problems in “anti-trafficking” discourse.  After my last letter she wrote again with more good questions, but her letter was so complex that I have separated out the individual questions not only to make this column easier to read, but to protect her privacy by eliminating personal details.  If you haven’t yet read last Wednesday’s column, you really ought to do so before proceeding with today’s.

A friend of mine belongs to an anti-trafficking ministry which gives out gift bags to ladies in brothels and tries to build friendships with them.  The gift bag includes shampoo and sometimes cookies and earrings, and also a packet of tissues, inside which they have slipped a hotline for getting out of prostitution.  Would you personally find such a message with a hotline number insulting?

trafficking soapMost sex workers would probably consider that more funny than insulting, because the idea outsiders have that we’re all “trapped” or “victims” or “slaves” is very amusing when it isn’t backed up by uniformed thugs.  But once the cops start smashing down doors, beating, raping and robbing sex workers before caging them and giving them criminal records that will follow them for life, it goes far beyond mere insult.  The idea that we’re “victims” is a symptom of what you mentioned in your first letter:  the refusal to listen.  It’s kind of like the way gay people are treated in some churches:  “I can’t understand how a man could be attracted to another man, so there must be something wrong with them.”  The old narrative was that sex workers were “bad” women, but over the past 800 years Christianity has slowly shifted toward viewing us as “fallen” creatures to be redeemed, and that became the dominant social discourse in English-speaking countries from the 1880s on (largely due to the influence of the Salvation Army and other groups promoting the “white slavery” hysteria).  After criminalization became the norm in the US (from 1910-1914), people naturally started seeing prostitutes as “criminals”, and that view persisted until the beginning of the present moral panic in 2004 (though several years earlier in Sweden).

I have seen sites that quoted (at least they claim) comments from clients about prostitutes, 95% of which were horrendous.  So why do clients come to you?  Is it really that men who are willing to buy women are often aggressive and do not respect women in general? 

Those “client quotes” are totally cherry-picked.  The idea that men pay good money to spend time with women they hate is about as absurd as anything I can think of; it’s related to the radical feminist notion that all intercourse is rape.  The fact is, I was often treated better by the men who paid me than guys who just dated me, and that’s a very typical experience.  The majority of sex workers’ clients are either horny or lonely, and that’s it.  They’re not looking for women to “objectify” or “abuse”, and the only people who can believe otherwise without being lied to are people who believe the Marxist foolishness that all economic transactions are innately exploitative, or those who believe that all sex not sanctified by marriage (or all heterosexual sex, period) is bad.  The only reason they pick on sex work is that when they try to apply those ideas more universally, most normal people mock, shun or ignore them.  Sex workers have been turned into a pariah caste against whom rhetoric that wouldn’t last five minutes when directed against anyone else, suddenly becomes palatable.  The most common form of prostitution these days is probably GFE escorting, where GFE stands for “girl friend experience”.  In other words, the majority of clients want a girl who is nice and friendly and chatty and sweet, just like a regular date.  Yes, there are bad clients…but that’s true of every business in the world, as anyone with experience in retail or waitressing can tell you.

Do you not mind when a man comes to you only for your body, with no interest in your personality, your soul, your mind, your history?  Although if I must think of sex work as normal work, I suppose it would be as ridiculous as if I asked an office worker, do you not mind that your boss has no interest in your personality etc and that you are reduced as just a working cog in a cooperation.  In an office, ideally you’d find a caring manager who does care about your well-being – and I guess there are clients who are similar?

sex dollAs I explained above, most clients are.  If you talk to sex workers who have had “straight” jobs, you’ll find they usually felt far more objectified in those than in sex work.  People who talk about “bodies to be used” must have a very low opinion of men, to believe that that’s how men see sex.  In fact, one of the most annoying client behaviors is when they go on about “I want to give you pleasure” and “what would you like to do?” and that sort of thing, which many of them do.  We hate it because it makes it much harder to satisfy a customer who won’t say what he wants, but as you can see it’s exactly the opposite of that “objectification” jazz.  When I was an escort I advertised myself as “the thinking man’s companion” because I have a hard time “dumbing down” my conversation and wanted to attract men who liked that…and there were plenty.  You were talking about reviews earlier; you know who gets the worst reviews?  Girls who just lie there like a “body to be used”.  What prohibitionists claim men are looking for, is actually the thing which will probably kill a sex worker’s business faster than anything else.

My anti-trafficking friend never says “prostitute”, but rather “ladies in the sex industry”; she also never gives out their names “in order to protect their confidentiality”.  But if sex work is just work, what difference does the word make?  And why wouldn’t prostitutes want people to know their names?

If sex work were completely accepted, normal and legally protected, I would agree with you that there would be no need for aliases.  But that isn’t the way it is, and it won’t be in our lifetimes.  Your friend is wise to be discreet.  As for the term “prostitute”, it’s a very legalistic word that has acquired  considerable negative baggage.  So while I myself use it because many outsiders with whom I discuss it (especially lawyers & politicians) see it as a neutral term, it is in fact pejorative and should be avoided.  “Sex worker” is considered the most polite term; “prostituted woman” is the most insulting and demeaning because it casts us as passive, inert victims without intellect, will or agency.

I’m uncomfortable saying that sex work should be okay and treated as any other job, but I’m also uncomfortable with criminalization because everyone has the right to choose what they will do and how they want to live their lives.  How do I resolve this conflict?

Now we’re getting into the philosophy of harm reduction, which is quite complicated but here’s the nutshell version.  I personally think cocaine is awful; I hate the way people act when they use it, I hate the way it makes their noses run and their mouths get crusty, I hate the weird fantasies they have when they’re on it.  Eventually I got to the point where I’d refuse clients I knew were using it because I didn’t want to deal with it.  However, the harms that result from cocaine aren’t nearly as bad as those that result from attempting to suppress it, such as the establishment of a surveillance state, empowerment of police to violate civil rights on a massive scale, bloody cartel wars, bad (even fatal) reactions to tainted drugs, the attraction of criminals to the business, the vast waste of money and the highest incarceration rates in history.  I don’t have to like cocaine or approve of its use to recognize that its prohibition is a horrible thing and the wellspring of myriad evils, and you don’t have to like or approve of sex work to have the same view about its prohibition.  And considering that it is the prohibition of sex work that is the chief enabler of coercion, I would think that every moral person who is truly concerned about that would join with the UN, the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and many others in calling for the decriminalization of sex work.

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After breaking down doors and waving…guns around, it’s gratifying [for cops]…to pacify terrified slaves by tasering them.  -  Joyce Arthur

Recognition

An elderly Italian man got a rather unwelcome surprise when he ordered an escort – and his…40-year-old son’s South American girlfriend…arrived at his house…the pair declined to take the encounter further and swiftly parted ways.  The man [decided]…to tell his son…prompting a bitter fight between the pair…the son [sued] his father for injuries…Barbie and Lammily

Barbie

While whitebread feminists wet themselves over the newest version of “Happy To Be Me”, Virginia Postrel isn’t having any of it:

…All right-thinking people  seem convinced that Barbie instills in her pre-school fans a false and remarkably detailed standard of beauty.  Hence the widespread  praise for Lammily, the latest anti-Barbie concept doll.  A crowd-funded project from artist Nickolay Lamm (the source of her ungainly moniker), Lammily is based on the average proportions for a 19-year-old…[but] the average 19-year-old female American stands 5 feet 4 inches tall.  She has a 33.6-inch waist and…weighs 150 pounds…If Lammily were true to life…she’d have rolls of fat, not a firm plastic tummy…Celebrating one version of average as “normal” and “realistic” implicitly stigmatizes everyone who doesn’t meet that standard.  Barbie doesn’t pretend to do that; Lammily does…

A Narrow View

This NPR article on diversion programs is full of the usual “sex trafficking” nonsense and dishonest platitudes about the programs’ effectiveness, but one section was especially troubling:

…Judge Pratt says that initially her treatment-focused approach…improved the ability to prosecute the traffickers.  But…a lot of the boys…were becoming pimps.  “The foster care system and juvenile justice system is creating both sides of this market, the suppliers and the goods,” she says…

Her revolting dehumanization of girls as “goods” is bad enough, but her willful mischaracterization of young male sex workers as “pimps” in order to prop up the vile “pimps and hos” myth is utterly reprehensible.

To Protect and Serve (August Updates)

San Diego cops use “sex trafficking” as an excuse to send a SWAT team to a strip club:

A manager at Cheetahs strip club says his dancers felt violated by police who photographed them almost nude…10 officers swarmed the building with guns and bulletproof vests, interrupting business for a couple of hours…to make sure all 30 dancers had proper permits and were in compliance…

Don’t Take My Word For It

Male delusions about sex work start extra-early in Sweden:  “Swedish police have received a report that three underage boys [as young as ten] speaking bad German tried to sell sex to women at a busy commuter hub in central Sweden…

Not for Everybody

Though Meg Munoz had a very bad time as a sex worker and for a while supported prohibition, she eventually recognized the harm it creates:

…Poorly conducted, [biased]…research needs to stop being used as the foundation for fundraising…the refusal to have sex work acknowledged as real work…has all but halted any civil discourse…Allowing moral biases to dictate policy is dangerous for those who are there by choice and force…

Above the Law Deon Nunlee

No, you lying asshole, it’s exactly what police officers do, which is why this is the second most common subtitle on the blog:

…while police responded to [a] domestic violence call, one of the officers allegedly took the woman into an upstairs bedroom and sexually assaulted her…Deon Nunlee has been charged…Detroit Police Chief James Craig said…“This is an anomaly.  This is not what our police officers do”…

In fact, here’s another in the same city:Geoffrey Townsend

A former Detroit police officer who was convicted of criminal sexual conduct involving participants in his boot camp for misbehaving teens is being sued by two of the victims…Geoffrey Townsend…began making unwelcome sexual advances [eventually culminating in rape when one]…victim was 13 years old…and…the…[other] 16…

And it’s not limited to the US, eitherScott Andrew Terry

[Durham, Ontario police Constable Scott Andrew Terry] sexually exploited [a 16-year-old girl] …with whom he first came into contact after she was busted for shoplifting in May of 2000.  Instead of filing charges…he…[offered] her a rental room in his house…[then] began making advances which…escalated to nude photos, sexual touching and eventually rape…“in exchange for the rent”…

First They Came for the Hookers… 

This dumb story about dumb strip-club restrictions in Chicago is, as you might expect, mostly just dumb.  But these comments from anti-whore zealot Bob Fioretti venture into a higher realm of dumbness:  “we have an underlying social problem.  Between 15,000 and 25,000 women a day engage in prostitution…in this city.  That underground activity undermines us a city — a world-class city…”  I’ll bet you didn’t know we were so dangerous, or that roughly 4% of the adult female population of Chicago were whores.

Higher Education (TW3 #23)

Unlike the last time we saw this, these teachers are actually qualified:

An enterprising association of sex workers in Barcelona has angered some of Spain’s most prominent feminists by offering an “intro to prostitution” course…at a cost of €45…the four-hour intensive course for aspiring sex workers was held last month by the Asociación de Profesionales del Sexo…Lidia Falcón…[who] has spent years fighting to have prostitution [criminalized] in Spain…said…the problem with the course lies in its underlying suggestion that some women are working in the profession out of their own free will…

So Falcón wants the course banned because it blatantly disproves her lies.

Imagination Pinned Down

Though the social climate which led to the Satanic Panic had been building for years, it was the McMartin Preschool hysteria that really launched it.  Now that it’s a generation in the past, even media outlets like the New York Times which fully embrace “sex trafficking” hysteria recognize its earlier incarnation for what it was.  Here’s a good retrospective called “McMartin Preschool: Anatomy of a Panic”; watch it with the current hysteria in mind and note the many parallels.

The Widening Gyre

If “authorities” don’t want stupid myths about women being abducted spreading around, they sure have a strange way of showing it:

[A rumor] warns of attempts to abduct women and girls in broad daylight at crowded shopping centers.  It warns that a new gang initiation requires members to kidnap, rape and beat womenBig Pimp and then dump them in parking lots.  For years, authorities have tried to keep such messages from spreading, debunking their claims as urban myths…

To clarify:  Women being abducted by gangs for quick rape = “right up there with Bigfoot”, but women abducted by gangs for years of captivity and sexual slavery = 100% credible.

South of the Border

In Mexico, a respected advocate is arrested as a “pimp” for helping sex workers organize:

…the recent arrest of Alejandra Gil…[is due to] new legislation, which…conflates sex work with human trafficking…Gil has worked tirelessly for the human rights of sex workers for many years…Laws and policies that target “third parties” under the premise of “protecting” sex workers, increase our vulnerability to abuse and exploitation, and create real barriers for sex workers organising…

Bottleneck

Considering that more than 90% of whores prefer to work illegally than submit to licensing, how well do you think this colossally stupid Italian law will work?

…prostitution will be permitted in private houses, subject to certain conditions, including the use of condoms…the draft law, which was presented…by…Maria Spillabotte…includes the issuance of a licence, stating that the holder is free of sexually transmitted diseases and confirming that a payment has been made…of €6,000 for a full-time licence or half that amount for part-time work…Prostitutes will also be required to get a certificate of mental fitness.  “This is a fundamental way of getting women away from coercion,” says Spillabotte.  “During an interview, the specialist will be able to tell if the girl is being forced into prostitution or if it is her free choice”…

That Old Black Magic

Patrick RockThe Sharjah Police…arrested an Arab woman and a man for forcing women into prostitution and engaging in black magic…

Buried Truth

When a politician obsesses about “protecting children from porn”, this is usually the reason:  “A senior aide to David Cameron resigned…the day before being arrested on allegations relating to child abuse images.  Patrick Rock…was involved in drawing up the government’s policy for…online pornography filters…

Between the Ears (TW3 #133)

This article on “Why Viagra Ruined Sex Work” quotes a few ladies whose names regular readers may recognize:

…“I wouldn’t say ED drugs are the worst thing, but they are really annoying,” laughed…Jolene Parton…“it…makes it harder for the client to come.”  Anna Gristina…dubbed [it]…“The working girl’s worst nightmare come true…It went from wham-bam, thank you ma’am,’ to ‘Oh my god, can you just finish, man’”…Amanda Brooks…says…men become obsessed with having an erection at the expense of any enjoyment for anyone…

It Looks Good On Paper (TW3 #311)

Texas joins the states arresting people to force them into “diversion” programs:  “The Corpus Christi Police…conducted a ‘Jane Sting’…in conjunction with the Red Cord Diversion Program…all six arrested persons were signed up to participate…rather than have criminal charges immediately applied.”  Yes, they actually referred to sex workers as “janes”.

The Crumbling Dam (TW3 #315)

Joyce Arthur hits it out of the park with this satire:

In a bold move aimed at protecting workers from exploitation while on the job, the government today passed a new law that criminalizes most employers and customers…Law and Order Minister Punter MacCunny…pointed out that 95 per cent of people hate their jobs and want out, according to a new government-commissioned study…Police welcomed the new law, which gives them sweeping new enforcement powers to target the huge increase in organized crime.  According to Det. Sgt. Billy Clubber, head of the RCMP’s new Slave Save Squad, “We’ll be cracking down on slavery rings, basically any place where workers are bribed with wages to provide services”…The law now designates employers and customers as “pimps” and “johns,” respectively…

Long Spoon (TW3 #351)

Reason’s video on condom criminalization specifically refers to the Human Rights Watch report condemning the practice in New Orleans:

Ladies of the Night

Saith Dr. Brooke Magnanti in The Telegraph:

It’s an unusual move to go from policy and social commentary to fiction, especially as the stories cover a range of genres from romance to crime to sci-fi.  And yet it works.  The eye for detail that fans of Maggie’s non-fiction writing appreciate is well played here.  She invents worlds with ease and populates them with thought-provoking, yet never two-dimensional, women and men.  If you love plots with twists, she has them to spare.  (If you’re not into twists, or women who aren’t always whiter than white, probably best to stay away.)  And the cover art by acclaimed cartoonist and Louis Riel author Chester Brown is wonderful.

She also reviews Daddy by Madison Young and Playing the Whore by Melissa Gira Grant.

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #410)

Sex columnist Suzi Godson presents “10 Things You Need to Know Before You Support the Swedish Model of Sex Work” in response to the new push by UK prohibitionists.  It’s not anything new for readers of this blog, but it’s possible ammo for online discussions you may get involved in.

Traffic Jam (TW3 #410)

Dominique Roe-Sepowitz answers the many criticisms of Project ROSE by denying them to Christian Post after refusing interviews with mainstream reporters.  And if you imagine the denials are substantive or backed by facts, think again:  her entire rationale for cooperating with cops to railroad people and deny them lawyers is, “sex-work…is against the law.”  Meanwhile, in last week’s other installment of “Traffic Jam”, a demonstration of the motivation behind the fakery:

A study of advertising placed during the recent Super Bowl in New Jersey suggests the volume of sex trafficking that will occur when the event comes to Arizona in 2015 will likely exceed the ability of any one law enforcement agency to address.  Phoenix Police Lt. James Gallagher, who co-authored the study…said law enforcement must coordinate to combat sex trafficking during major events…

In other words, “give us more money and power!”  Here’s a Storify of the fun several of us had with this mess last Saturday.

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Memory works a little bit…like a Wikipedia page: You can go in there and change it, but so can other people.  -  Elizabeth Loftus

One of the forms of magic characters might encounter in a Dungeons and Dragons game is illusion.  Some kinds of wizards or magic-using beings can create realistic illusions that fool the victims into believing something awful is happening, and unless they realize these phenomena are unreal and actively refuse to believe in them, they will suffer harm just as though they were real.  My friend Walter (whom I’ve mentioned before) had a running joke; whenever his character was in some sort of a dire predicament that he couldn’t think of a way out of, he would announce “I disbelieve it!” in the forlorn hope that whatever-it-was would vanish away like an illusion dispelled.

The ArrivalOf course, since the situations in which Walter announced this were never illusionary ones, his goal was just to make everyone laugh and/or break the tension of a harrowing episode.  But many people in real life think that disbelieving things, no matter what the proof of their existence, should have the legal or actual power to make them vanish; those same people also imagine the reverse, that strongly declared belief in something will make it so no matter what the evidence to the contrary.  Fortunately for those of us who prefer to live in the real world, neither of these is true:  bad things, or those which are inconvenient to one’s political agenda, cannot be dispersed by denying their existence; neither can nonexistent things, or those convenient to one’s agenda, be materialized by repeating a Shahada often enough.  But unfortunately, those who imagine otherwise are in the majority, and the law is often on their side.  The declared “beliefs” of cops (whether sincere or otherwise), and the first-person testimony of victims (or those who believe themselves to be victims, or who have been convinced by others that they’re victims) regularly trumps physical evidence in court, even when that evidence is solid and the human statements are incredible, absurd or even impossible.  And legislatures are even more disconnected from reality than courtrooms:  in statehouses, senates and parliaments the world over, sound evidence and credible, well-supported testimony is routinely disbelieved in favor of political or religious dogma, and the laws enacted from such beliefs are then enforced by vast armies of thugs prepared to inflict violence upon anyone who refuses to let the faith of irrational busybodies define his reality.

If human memory were like a videotape, and people were basically honest, the credibility gap between physical or documentary evidence and human testimony would at least be narrower than it is, and that might justify some degree of prejudice in the minds of the irrational and overly-emotional.  But it isn’t, and they aren’t; memory is both fallible and flexible, and people will lie to advance their own interests even when they know it will harm others (and even more so when they can convince themselves that the falsehood advances some “greater good”).  These two uncomfortable truths converge in special interest groups; as I explain in my forthcoming research paper “Mind-witness Testimony”,

…after-the-fact input from other people, either peers or authority figures, can distort memories so powerfully that after many repetitions the false memory will actually be much more powerful than real ones from the same time frame.  When confronted with proof of the falsity of their memories, some people have even insisted that such proof is either mistaken or manufactured…But even if there has been no external interference at all, the mere repetition of a distorted memory has the effect of strengthening it…The retelling of stories within a group biased toward a particular view produces an even more pronounced distortion, thanks to a psychological mechanism called group polarization…Obviously this dynamic tends to intensify moral panics, but because it alters the mental schemata of those involved it also affects the process of stereotypic conformation…[which means that] memories which fit the individual’s preconceptions are reinforced and those memories which do not are discarded, regardless of whether those memories are true or false

believe in fairiesIn other words, even if nobody is actively trying to manufacture false memories, then tend to occur anyway due to the powerful psychological need for group cohesion; when the leaders are actively working to create such confabulations via “reframing experiences”, they can will new memories into existence as easily as audience members heal Tinker Bell by demonstrating their belief in her.  And given the willingness of juries and lawmakers to believe in these fictions, the motive to create them is very strong indeed.  It is long past time we as a culture grew beyond believing in fairies and imagining that if we shut our eyes and cover our ears, unpleasant things will go away and trouble us no more.  Judicial proceedings and public policy must be based on evidence, not on belief, and such evidence cannot be disbelieved away even when we don’t like what it says.

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