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Posts Tagged ‘psychology’

Are very shy women fit to be prostitutes?  Also, does semen always smell bad or does it depend on the man?

If by “shy” you mean “painfully introverted” or “extremely  modest”, sex work is definitely not for you.  Though a whore needn’t necessarily be gregarious (and in fact many are somewhat introverted), she needs to at least be able to meet and smoothly interact with new people in order to carry out the basic activities of her trade.  Likewise, she need not be so comfortable with nudity that she can flash crowds on Bourbon Street in broad daylight, but she can’t be so averse to it that she’s paralyzed by the prospect of getting undressed in front of strange men.  If, on the other hand, you simply mean the shyness that comes of inexperience and uncertainty, my previous column “Inexperience”  may provide an answer.

In answer to your second question: the smell and taste of a man’s semen varies with his body chemistry, health and diet.  The semen of two different men living in the same environment, or of the same man under different health conditions or diets, can vary to a surprisingly wide degree; however, some factors (such as muskiness) may be relatively constant in an individual no matter what his diet.  In other words, if you find the taste or odor of a particular man’s semen intolerable, it may be something he’s eating, or it may be due to a health condition, but it could also just be the way he’s put together (or the way you’re put together).

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

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 Young ladies are being grabbed off bus stops and forced into prostitution…and it’s happening in our own back yard.  –  Sharee Sanders Gordon

Acting and Activism Scully confused

Another entry in the clueless celebrity division of “sex trafficking” fetishism:

Hollywood actress Gillian Anderson says the growing problem of human trafficking must no longer be ignored, and hopes her new film [Sold] about a young Nepali girl sold as a sex slave will highlight the horrors of the trade…Anderson…rose to fame playing Agent Dana Scully in The X-Files

Remember, kids, an actor doesn’t actually have to be skeptical or rational to play a rational, skeptical character on TV.  But really, Anderson’s right at home in a story based on ridiculous, exaggerated conspiracy theories, so I guess it makes sense.

A Tale That Grew in the Telling

This otherwise-typical collection of “sex trafficking” tropes contains an interesting inflation; prohibitionist politician Jeffrey Chiesa claimed that his favorite masturbatory fantasy “is most likely to occur at large stadiums or arenas with a steady stream of events”…in other words, he’s claiming that the so-called “trafficking” occurs at the stadium itself, merely than in the host city.  It’ll be interesting to see if this particular absurdity catches on.

Law of the Instrument

The need to see all transactional sex as coercive is a mental illness:

The Gucci handbag often gives her away.  Along with the expensive lingerie, the sex toys, the designer watch and the multiple iPhones.  But the dead giveaway is the tattoo, often of the pimp’s street name, marked on the back of her neck or the inside of her wrist.*  Sometimes, there is another woman in the hotel room known as the “bottom bitch” who is in charge of…ensuring the working girl hustles seven days a week and has sex with up to 15 men a day…young girls…are being trafficked by pimps…having sex with countless men and never seeing a dollar of their earnings**.  Everyone agrees they are victims…The girls are often beaten to keep them in line and some are fed drugs to get them addicted…[usually they] are hostile and refuse help, often suffering from Stockholm syndrome…

**See “The Widening Gyre” below.
*Except for the money they use to buy the Gucci handbags, expensive lingerie, designer watches and multiple iPhones, of course.

Maier’s Law

When the facts don’t fit the theory

…South Carolina…investigators are looking…for…indicators that [arrested masseuses] were involved in a larger-scale human-trafficking operation…the women…specifically told authorities they weren’t [coerced].  One…drove a BMW and another a Mercedes, and each explained to authorities that “this was just their job”…but the…case does share some similarities with many recent cases…that have been described as human trafficking.  From Colorado to Michigan and from Alabama to the Carolinas, dozens of…trafficking rings have been uncovered.  Many times, the businesses are masquerading as…massage parlors, but they offer no licensed therapists…

The obtuseness of both cops and reporter is almost Pythonesque.

The Law of Averages 13 cult

This particular myth-element has grown so large, it has become a cultic totem:

April Bentley…stood alongside more than 50 volunteers …on the steps of the Milwaukee Central Library to promote the campaign dubbed  “Unlucky Thirteen,” which…is meant to call attention to sex trafficking …through the number 13 — the average age a person starts being trafficked for sex…

As is typical, Bentley’s experiences supposedly took place decades in the past…much too long ago to actually check on.

Profit from Panic

Notice that none of those supposed activities actually produce any concrete, measurable results that might have to be reported to investors:

Through EPCAT USA, the leading anti-trafficking policy organization…the travel industry is taking an active role against sex tourism…with continued support ECPAT USA can continue fighting for these child victims of exploitation. A gift of $50, $100, $250 or any amount will be used to…advocate for improved…laws…Raise awareness that children are being commercially sexually exploited…Equip…students to fight this problem…[and] collaborate with ECPAT affiliates around the world…

The Widening Gyre

There’s a PhD dissertation in examining the absurdities people will believe without any proof whatsoever if they’re part of a moral panic:

Sharee Sanders Gordon…an…attorney in Los Angeles, said…One middle school…is having a serious problem with prostitution…“Young ladies are being grabbed off bus stops and forced into prostitution…and it’s happening in our own back yard”…According to Gordon, a pimp in San Diego County brands his girls with tattoos inside their mouths, as if they were property.  The branding is all part of the pimps’ indoctrination process…

Worse Than I Thought

However horrible a fad law is already, Louisiana politicians can figure out a way to make their version worse:

Governor Jindal signed four bills into law that will crack down on human trafficking in Louisiana…HB 1025…[creates] the crime of “unlawful purchase of commercial sexual activity” and…expands the definition of “racketeering activity” to include pornography involving juveniles [and] computer-aided [violation of any prostitution law]…It…[also permits] the court to seize…personal property…HB 569…[establishes]…human trafficking courts…HB 1105 …requires posting of the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline in outpatient abortion facilities.  Often perpetrators of human trafficking force women and children to undergo abortions so that the victims can continue working in the industry…HB 1262…requires that, prior to undergoing an…abortion, a woman must be provided with information on coerced abortions and human trafficking…

Yes, the first law defines any sex worker who advertises on the internet and any client who contacts her via the internet as a gangster.  Note also the increasing connection between “sex trafficking” hysteria and abortion restrictions, which activists have been predicting for several years now.

Thought Control would-be censor Andrea Lavigne

Grosse Pointe Park [Michigan] residents demanded that the Metro Times be banned in the city and in libraries…[the excuses] went beyond typical complaints about obscenity when some charged the…tabloid’s advertisers with promoting human trafficking…the editor…countered that [sex work] ads are no more sexually explicit than many of the books on public library shelves.  And she said that complaints about sex trafficking should be taken to police, not to librarians…officials…[insisted] that constitutional freedom-of-speech guarantees would trigger a lawsuit…The…Library Board…then voted…to stack the Metro Times out of sight…Patrons…will have to ask for copies from now on…

King of the Hill

Forget about states or even cities; a New York politician claims he can place the “epicenter” of “sex trafficking” on one particular street:

…Sen. Jose Peralta…said…“Roosevelt Avenue is a mecca of human trafficking in Queens and throughout the five boroughs…[gangs] are participating in bringing women from all over the world…right to Roosevelt Avenue…It’s really a hub and epicenter of human trafficking”…

Checklist

This article includes the following telltale indicators of “sex trafficking”:

Warning signs include sleeping bags in nail salons…or workers who appear exceptionally young…a young girl might refer to an older man as her…”daddy”…Other signs might be security measures…[such as] barbed wire inside a fence or bars covering the insides of windows…

The Widening Gyre (TW3 #314) Tracy Dean

A young woman leaves home after telling friends that she was in some kind of trouble; naturally, all possible explanations are instantly discarded in favor of the panic du jour:

A 17-year-old Washington girl missing for the last [month] left a chilling message in her journal…”If you’re reading this, I’m either missing or dead”…Authorities fear she’s become a victim of human trafficking…The blue-eyed brunette left behind her cellphone, ID, bank cards and the eyeglasses she needs to see…”She had been telling some people for a while that she was involved in something, that she was in over her head, that she was scared. But they couldn’t get any more information than that out of her,” [said] her…mother, Lynda Jorgenson…

Dysphemisms Galore

Cops and prosecutors do their best here to make a perfectly ordinary escort service, much like the one I owned, seem like a sinister and nefarious criminal conspiracy; of course, any sex worker or client can tell this was written by a pompous clown:

Investigators say [Amber Batts, who is] accused of sex trafficking to roughly 800 clients in [Alaska] maintained a slick website and multiple payment methods — which led straight to her bank account [as opposed to where?]…“The website advertises for escort services…and is organized into different sections, including a…‘providers’ (listing the women being trafficked)…the Blog section… describes a sexual encounter for money.”  The material on the website also included advice for patrons of the sex trafficking ring…

Profit from Panic (TW3 #321)

Other countries teach their young people math and science; we indoctrinate ours in ridiculous myths and teach boys to demonize their own sexuality:

…20 [high school] seniors…watched a documentary about child sex trafficking and wanted to do something about it…The students…visited with a [cop] who specializes in [persecuting sex workers] and talked with [a politician]…”Harsher punishments for johns,” said Ben Prewitt.  “If there were harsher punishments, the demand would go down”…Prewitt wanted [paying for sex] to be a felony with a requirement to be registered as a sex offender…the average age of a victim is 16 with some as young as 8…Jeff Goode said he used to live behind three strip clubs…and saw some of the ugliness surrounding the places…

That “as young as 8″ is popping up often now; look for the focus to shift to that number soon.

Schadenfreude (TW3 #322) Paul Libri

More of this, please:

…Tim Taylor of the Metro Atlanta Human Trafficking Task Force…isn’t Tim Taylor.  His real name is Paul Michael Libri.  He has a criminal record and currently faces trial for impersonating a police officer…Libri…is seen as a pest by police officers – someone in the way when they are trying to solve trafficking cases…

Long Spoon

These people are NOT allies!

…anti-human-trafficking advocates raised concern about the arrests of adult females [in FBI raids]…even adult women in the sex trade likely began as trafficked children…“The vast majority of those people…are currently victims, or they have been victims,” said Lauren Hersh…Traffickers and pimps subject their victims to a process called  “seasoning,” involving rape and forced drug use to break down the woman who is to be sold…

Lauren Hersh is a prosecutor who resigned in disgrace for railroading men for rape; she’s a sleazy prohibitionist whose most recent scheme involved trying to set up fake sex worker organizations to lobby for imposition of the Swedish model.  Also note the latest “trafficking” fantasy-term no actual sex worker ever heard of.

Vendetta

There’s never a shortage of politicians willing to lick Swanee Hunt’s arse:

The city of Boston has launched an initiative to reduce demand for prostitution…by going after the men who buy sex…Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced the program…at a [prohibitionist circle-jerk]…Boston…is partnering with Demand Abolition…to develop and implement campaigns…to disrupt the commercial sex industry…

A Mound of Filth

It’s hard to imagine how this article could be more fellatory:

…Young women who used to be dismissed as bad-girl prostitutes are now recognized as victims…That’s where Arizona is now, as police, prosecutors and courts look for realistic ways to deal with people whose histories left wounds and unspeakable scars…Making the effort to identify victims of sexual trafficking among minors arrested for…other crimes is part of the new paradigm…Gov. Jan Brewer gets credit for naming a task force…to look into how little girls become merchandise in the sex trade…Take a moment to savor this shining example of public officials doing absolutely the right thing.

Nice While It Lasted

How can the perpetrators of this violent GFE “circuit” hope to outwit a genius who can violate the Law of Conservation of Energy at will?

In an effort to combat prostitution and sex trafficking, California’s Oakland police department is engaging in…public humiliation…On a new website, the department lists the mug shots of alleged pimps and johns, along with their names, dates of birth and charges…Kevin Wiley…describes Oakland as “the hub of the West for child prostitution.”  Oakland and Eastern counterpart Atlanta, he says, tend to be entry points into “the circuit,” a human-trafficking ring that cycles victims around the country…Prostitution is becoming more…closely associated with shootings, homicides and the illegal drug market…“We don’t have a lot of resources,” he says. “But the ones we have, we dedicate 110%”…

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An abolitionist is an abolitionist…whether Radfem or Muslim.  It is a little bit moot whether you kill someone with a bullet or by making their lives impossible while cranking up the stigmas…You are still just as dead, and in my honest opinion the bullet is quicker and cleaner.  –  Maggie Jones

Bad Girls Alix Tichleman

Ladies, it is NEVER a good idea to provide drugs to a client, because if something goes wrong they’ll be looking for a scapegoat:

An alleged prostitute has been charged with manslaughter for injecting a Google executive with heroin and then leaving him to die of an overdose…Alix Tichelman …is being held on…$1.5 million [bail]…Forrest Timothy Hayes…died Nov. 23 on his 50-foot yacht, Escape…His body was discovered the following morning by the yacht’s captain…Police say security footage from the yacht shows…Tichelman… gathering her belongings including drugs and needles, downing a glass of wine and lowering the blinds before leaving…Tichelman had an “ongoing prostitution relationship” with Hayes that began when she met Hayes on SeekingArrangement.com…

Only the sick mind of a cop could belch out a phrase as moronic as “ongoing prostitution relationship.”

Do As I Say, Not As I Do 

Get it straight, cops; you have to rape a whore not to get in trouble.  Fairly paying her demonstrates you’re not the kind of person they want in their ranks: “[Florida cop Trenton Moore] was arrested for soliciting a prostitute.  Now he’s out of a job…”  And stealing the cash from the leaders of your cop gang is an even worse idea:

….£120,000 of seized criminal cash was taken from [a Scottish] police office by…Robert Moffat…£90,000 of that cash was found in Moffat’s house and buried under a slab in his back garden…That cash was then taken by…Dean Burnett as part of a £205,000 haul he blew on gambling and vice girls…Burnett…was jailed for 45 months…but was only ordered to pay back £5000…

Rooted in Racism

Sometimes “trafficking” just means “bringing in black people“:

A 30-year-old man has been sentenced to six months in prison for attempting to smuggle refugees into Sweden, after claiming he met them at a wedding in Germany and offered them a lift back…the man…hired a car from a rental firm in Stockholm.  He opted for a vehicle which could accommodate seven people, arguing that he needed the space as he intended to transport a set of large loudspeakers…He offered a lift to six people from Eritrea, who…were seeking asylum in Germany.  He said he received €600…as a thank you…but when he was picked up by border police he had €1,150 in his pocket…

They Just Don’t Get It (TW3 #18)

Reading stuff Pennsylvania reporters write about cops is like watching fellatio porn:

…Sgt. Rick Blake said…he’s discarded the notion that prostitution is a “victimless crime” because women choose to sell their bodies.  He said many women are forced into it…”backpage.com…is a way for them to advertise without being directly out in the view of…law enforcement,” Blake said…”None of them want to lead this life”…When a Florida woman was picked up in a sting…”She thanked us because this was truly her only way to escape from the people she was being used by”…

As Mistress Matisse pointed out, “women we arrest thank us” is the moral equivalent of “she liked it when we raped her”. 

Whatever They Need To Say

Bangladesh’s oldest brothel has been shut down following pressure from local clerics and politicians…More than 750 prostitutes in Tangail City were forced out of a cluster of houses that made up the 200-year-old Kandapara brothel…after the dwelling’s owners ordered them shut…[following] a march last week demanding the eviction of the sex workers…Monowara Begum, who heads a sex-workers group at Kandapara, accused the local mayor…of…threatening the women…“He…sent dozens of young men…they told us that we have only one hour to leave…or they would burn down the brothel with kerosene”…

Under Every Bed 

Just the same old revolting “all prostitutes are pimped addicts”, but nearly all of these wastes of ink include this nowadays: “South Burlington [Vermont] is a busy city of more than 18,000 people…right on Interstate 89…

An Example to the West (TW3 #316)

To commemorate the National Day of Sex Work, the Secretariat of Labour and Employment Promotion (STFE) of [Mexico City] gave 50 credentials to persons exercising sex work and recognized them as self-employed workers with social and labor rights.  The event…represents the second delivery of these documents…since last March, when the first group of 19 persons filed an injunction against the Law…which criminalized prostitution [in the city] as a crime “against the peace of the people”…[agency head] Patricia Mercado… admitted that public policy change was driven by the “Elisa Martínez” Street Brigade in Support of Women directed by Elvira Madrid and Jaime Montejo…[and] litigated by attorney Barbara Zamora…

Passive Voice

Radley Balko on a syndrome I’ve discussed before:

…Use of the passive voice in an admission of wrongdoing has become  so common that the political consultant William Schneider suggested a few years ago that it be referred to as the “past exonerative” tense.  You’ll often see a similar grammatical device when a police officer shoots someone.  Communications officers at policy agenies are deft at contorting the English language to minimize culpability of an officer or of the agency…

Policing for Profit Michael Mobley

When you’re a cop, armed robbery becomes “misdemeanor embezzlement” and decades in prison becomes a few weekends in the county jail:

[Virginia cop Michael Mobley] was sentenced to 30 days in jail…for stealing more than $3,000 from three prostitutes…he…pleaded guilty…to two counts of misdemeanor embezzlement…[and] can serve his sentence on consecutive weekends…Mobley…questioned [the victims] under the guise of a police investigation…[and stole their] money…

If he’d turned the money in to the head thugs, this would’ve been legal.

Buttons, Bags & Banknotes

Dr. Brooke Magnanti on the latest development in British “feminism”:

…Twitter has been a-bubble with prominent feminists endorsing Who Made Your Pants, a company which employs refugee women…to sew…underwear…with prices between £18 and an eye-watering £21.50 a pop…the implication (from people on Twitter, not the company itself) that not wearing them makes you not ethical or not feminist leaves a bad taste in the mouth…Many of the people who can’t afford to spend £20-plus [$34] on purportedly feminist knickers are themselves workers in a marketplace that devalues their labour.  This does not make them bad feminists, bad consumers, or bad people.  If we who are in a position of financial privilege are unable to recognise that, the fault lies with us – not with them…

Traffic Circle

Even the more ethical “human trafficking” folks are now starting to distance themselves from “sex trafficking” hysteria:

Human trafficking has become the cause célébre for sensationalist…media…a great deal of the…content is both inaccurate and irresponsible …[This] sensationalizing or falsification…is often excused…[as] “raising awareness”…[but] misinformed people…support policies and  organizations that are ultimately counter-productive…

The author, Ryan Turner, goes on to list what he considers the worst offenses:

…All human trafficking statistics should be regarded with some  skepticism…Misleading statistics obscure the true nature of the problem and…when…inevitably exposed as false or methodologically unsound, it undermines the credibility of the whole anti-trafficking movement…Conflation of sex work and sex trafficking often leads to policies that criminalize prostitution, making sex workers more vulnerable to violence and exploitation.  Meanwhile, the distinct needs of trafficking survivors are ignored in favor of “demand reduction”  programs that…harm…sex workers…Reveling in graphic details does not help victims and survivors, nor does it contribute in any meaningful way…The myopic focus on sex trafficking…draws attention away from the fact that the tomatoes we eat may be the product of forced labor in Florida…

Down Under (TW3 #350)

Prohibitionists insist decriminalization doesn’t work:

Police resolved a dispute between a sex worker and a client who refused to pay — by escorting the man to a cash machine to settle his $100 bill…A [New Zealand] police spokesperson said…”It…is a routine thing. Police would help any citizen having a disagreement whether they were a sex-worker or working in a pizza shop”…

What a Week! (TW3 #402)

Gunmen…attacked two buildings…in Baghdad’s Zayounah neighbourhood, killing at least 33 people including 29 women…there are suspicions the buildings were being used as a brothel.  The words “This is the punishment of those practising prostitution” were scrawled in black on one of the buildings…Michelle Obama bring back our girls

Here’s an excellent commentary on the story from another Maggie:

…where is the outrage…Where is the team of “British specialists” sent… to Bagdad to investigate…Where is Michelle Obama gormlessly holding up a #BringBackOurGirls sign?  Where is the hysterical Twitter campaign?  Perhaps if we were to relabel those women as “vulnerable victims of evil sex traffickers” their death might attract more sympathy?  As independent women…supporting themselves, not relying on some well funded NGO organisation to “rescue” them…they were…simply the “wrong kind of women” to be deserving of the ritual hand wringing…

Devil’s Advocate

Intellectual honesty is dead in the West:

Once we start creating sex-robots, what will be the limits we put on them?  It’s not a human being so you should theoretically be able to rock your human-like Rumba however you want, but there may be some situations that create moral panics even if the Cylon-victim involved is just a bundle of algorithms and plastic.  I asked the panel how society would deal ethically and legally with a hypothetical company that starts producing child sex-robots to satisfy deviant sexual desires…

You can guess the result.  Nobody wants to admit that a child-shaped toaster is still a toaster.

Drawing Lines

Another excellent Marijke Vonk essay:

…It’s a mistake to think that prostitutes are fundamentally different from other people…that sex is obviously and clearly different from non-sex, that sex work is strictly different from other types of work, that prostitution is clearly different from non-prostitution.  Violence against sex workers should be stopped…but it’s a mistake to think that violence won’t harm us all.  There’s no clear line between sex workers and the rest of us…

Maggie in the Media (TW3 #424)

Recorded while I was in Los Angeles early last month:

Schadenfreude (TW3 #425) 

More and more reporters are discovering the truth about “sex trafficking”:

Eden supposedly follows the life of Chong Kim…whose…story has been trumpeted [by "trafficking" fetishists while]…activists…have been busy poking holes in…it…In 2004, Kim published an essay titled “Nobody’s Concubine”…[which] has little in common with Eden.  Kim writes that she suffered abuse at home and was…raped by an acquaintance…She started working as a stripper and then for an escort service after escaping an abusive boyfriend and falling on hard times…Missing…is the desert warehouse full of teenage sex slaves in Nevada and the daring escapes described in her later accounts.  Over the years, Kim’s story has grown more lavish and sensational as the bad guys morphed from abusive clients and boyfriends to international gangs of kidnappers, pimps, human traffickers and johns that included law enforcement agents and even an unnamed former state governor…

Consult my research paper “Mind-witness Testimony” for an explanation of the psychological mechanism behind the inflation of stories like Kim’s.

Divided We Fall (TW3 #427)

Canada’s Bill C36 is merely the hook for this excellent essay against sexual prohibition:

…“unnatural” sex has always been problematic for moral crusaders.  For example, masturbation and homosexual acts were previously depicted as “harmful” to individual and collective health; yet such claims proved not only to be unfounded, but dangerous.  This, however, has not stopped the perfectionists among us from endorsing a new cause:  the present obsession with prostitution …the so-called deleterious effects of masturbation [were] widely discredited in…[the early] 20th century…and…by 1973, the American Psychiatric Association no longer considered homosexuality a disease…Yet here we are in the 21st century, justifying state repression of prostitution…we can get over our anxiety…whenever we come to realize that sex workers and their clients do not require “treatment”…

Whither Canada? (TW3 #428)

Many religious groups in Canada…have been enthusiastically supporting the government’s new prostitution bill…But dozens of Anglican clergy say the proposed law is immoral and endangers sex workers, and they are urging the government to withdraw it.  Rev. Bruce Bryant-Scott…has submitted an open letter to the justice committee signed by 33 of his…colleagues…

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Weave again for sweet Eurydice life’s pattern that was taken from the loom too quick.  –  Ovid, Metamorphoses, Book X

After more than eighteen hours of struggle, during which half a dozen different solutions had been developed and tried, Tanya finally had to accept the fact that the mission for which they had trained so long was a failure.  Their orbit was decaying; already the heat resulting from atmospheric friction was too much for the climate control to handle, and her clothes were plastered to her body with sweat.  Richard was pale when he should have been flushed, and she knew that he, too, grasped the full import of the situation:  they were going to die when the ship broke up, and there was absolutely nothing either they or Mission Control back on Earth could do about it.

“Orpheus One to Mission Control,” he said calmly into the mike.  “Request permission to initiate protocol six-seven-four.”  She did not let her face betray her sinking feelings; though she well understood that the self-destruct mechanism would be far less awful than waiting as many as twelve or fourteen more hours for the inevitable end, this was being televised to the whole world and she was unsure how the authorities were explaining it to the viewers.  “Repeat, protocol Six.  Seven.  Four.”

Venus“Request for protocol six-seven-four received and understood.  Stand by, Orpheus One; will advise shortly.”  Then, more quietly on the private channel:  “Hang in there, Rich, we’ll get an answer for you ASAP.”  Richard smiled bravely at her and squeezed her hand.  The two of them had been selected for compatibility; they both believed passionately in the project and had trained together for two years even before embarking on the months-long voyage to Venus in the cramped quarters of the seeding ship.  It would have been a miracle if they hadn’t fallen in love.  But there was no time to talk about it now when there were still dozens of tasks to perform; even if they were doomed, the telemetry and their reports would make Orpheus Two’s descent into Hell much less likely to fail.

The response from Earth came back with surprising speed; obviously Mission Control concurred with their assessment of the situation.  “Orpheus One, you are cleared for protocol six-seven-four once the commanding and biology officer’s reports are filed.”  And on the private channel: “I’m sorry, Rich, Tanya.  Whenever you’re ready.”

Though they had hoped it would never be necessary, they had drilled this a dozen times.  Tanya had already filed her final report; since the engineering problem had developed before they even started to seed the clouds, there was very little to report.  She checked the valves that would release the anesthesia gas into the cockpit, then opened them once Rich gave the all-clear; as soon as the computer registered that they were completely unconscious, the self-destruct device would automatically engage and the shattered fragments of Orpheus One and her two human occupants would soon come to rest on the surface of the hostile world they hoped to one day make fit for human habitation.

“I love you,” he whispered, embracing her for the last time.

“Oh, I love you so!” she answered through tears, as she slipped into sleep.

***************************************************************

The next thing Tanya was aware of was that it was very cold and much too bright; she thought she must only feel cold because it had been so hot before, but that begged the question of why she should feel anything at all when she was dead.  Eventually her drugged brain concluded that she must not be dead, however impossible that seemed; she started to make out fragments of conversation that seemed to be about her, and then understood that someone – a doctor or nurse? – was telling her that she was safe.  She ventured a complaint about the light, but it was ignored until she had repeated it several times; she then asked for a blanket and that was granted much more quickly.  Then it was a dizzying and unpleasant trip by gurney to a quieter, darker room, strong arms lifting her into a soft bed, and oblivion again.

The next time she woke her mind was instantly alert and full of questions; the attending nurse claimed not to know anything, and called for help when Tanya responded to her advice to lie calm with a string of profanity and demands to talk to someone who “Does know something goddammit!”  That succeeded in getting a hospital administrator there, and he assured her that he didn’t know much more than she did, that he was under orders not to discuss the little he did know, and that a VIP would be there to explain things to her in a few hours.  She used the time to eat, to take her first proper shower in months and to ascertain that wherever she was, it was definitely on Earth (judging by air and gravity) but had no windows.  After an interminable amount of time an orderly brought her one of her own uniforms (freshly laundered) and bade her dress, and then she waited still longer.

Finally, she was ushered into a briefing room, and the VIP turned out to be no less than the Undersecretary of Space Exploration himself.  He had visited the project many times during the training period, and Tanya felt she knew him well enough to be blunt with him; after he greeted her and shook her hand, she responded with “No offense, Mr. Secretary, but what the hell is going on here?”

He sighed and steepled his fingers.  “Tanya, I know you may find this hard to accept at first, but your mission didn’t fail; it succeeded.”

“How so?  The hull design turned out to be unable to withstand the conditions in the upper Venusian atmosphere, and its integrity was compromised before we could even begin the seeding run.”

“Didn’t you find that at all suspicious?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean we’ve studied Venus for decades; we’re almost as familiar with its atmospheric conditions as we are with Earth’s.  We’ve sent dozens of unmanned probes there; don’t you think we should know how to build a ship that would stand up to it by now?”

“I’m not an engineer,” Tanya retorted, but she inwardly felt very foolish; of course they could.

“The ship didn’t break up, Tanya; it did exactly what it was designed to do, which was to simulate a doomed terraforming mission.”

“Simulate?” she asked weakly.  “But there was a real ship.  We saw it several times a week for two years.”

“A real mockup.  When you entered the cockpit module, the crane transferred you into the simulator instead of the dummy ship.”

“But why?  What was the point?  I mean obviously you wanted to put on some big survival drama for television, and you didn’t tell us…was Richard in on this?” she asked angrily.

“Richard was as much in the dark as you were.  We wanted your reactions to be authentic.”

“WHY?” she exploded.  “For the love of God, what was it all for?  It must have cost billions!”

He sighed more deeply this time, and seemed to let his practiced poise drop a little.  “Tanya, there are twelve billion people on the planet now; thanks to advances of the past century hunger is a thing of the past, and the number of people in dire poverty is so low it’s barely worth mentioning.  Automation handles all of the jobs that are too dangerous for humans, and we’ve banned all dangerous sports and unhealthy activities; the average person now lives to be one hundred and eight, and spends most of his non-working hours immersed in unproductive fantasy.  Depression is epidemic, and our whole society is drowning in ennui; the population needs a great adventure they can experience vicariously, something they can believe in.  Because when people have nothing to look forward to, they have no reason to go on living.”

“Richard and I often wondered why the government was sending humans on a dangerous mission a robot ship could’ve handled just as well.”

“Now you know.  The point of the mission wasn’t to terraform Venus, which won’t be technically feasible for decades yet despite those bogus figures you were taught; the point was to get the world excited about a huge adventure, to give them heroes to root for and love and cry over and mourn for.  Tomorrow I’m going to a ceremony to unveil plans for a giant memorial for you and Richard.”

“But we’re still alive!”

“A technicality.  We couldn’t allow two such talented scientists to be lost, especially with all the training the state has invested in you; you’ll be given new faces and new identities, and retrained for other work.”

“So we don’t even get to enjoy being heroes,” Tanya said bitterly.

“This isn’t about you.”

“Obviously not.”

“Look, Tanya, I understand you’re upset; the rug’s just been yanked out from under you and everything you thought you knew has been turned upside-down.  I’ve authorized a 50% salary increase plus a very generous bonus package, and I’ve had all your baggage moved from the training center to a secure residence facility near here; soon you’ll be discharged from the hospital and moved there, and you can take as much time off as you need.  We won’t start your retraining until you’re ready, OK?”

“Yeah, great.  Thanks.”

When Tanya was left alone in her new quarters hours later, she proceeded to nervously dig through her bags, hoping to find something which had been among her toiletries at the training center.  At last, she found it; the housekeeper had apparently received no instructions other than to collect all of her things, because if anyone had given it some thought this bottle would almost certainly have been confiscated.  She carefully counted out the pills, allowing four extra to provide a margin for error; she had always had almost textbook reactions to medicine, so she was certain it would be enough.  For the first time since they had embarked on their fake voyage, there was no telemetry taped to her body; by the time anyone checked on her tomorrow, she would already be cold.  As she swallowed the pills in small handfuls with a glass of filtered water, she reflected that the secretary was right about one thing:  she had believed in Project Orpheus with all her heart, and was fervently dedicated to the goal of opening another world up to human colonization.  But that had all been ripped away from her in the last 24 hours, along with her name, her identity, the man she loved and her entire life history.  She had nothing left, except whatever the state decided to magnanimously dole out to her; given the way she had been used without her consent, she had absolutely no faith that her new life would be anything worth looking forward to.  And when people have nothing to look forward to…

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Since the very beginning of this blog, I’ve endeavored to be brutally honest on the subject of sex work; I have neither exaggerated the good aspects of the work nor hidden the bad ones.  This is not only because of my sincere belief that honesty is the best policy, but also because ugly truths that are hidden become weapons for enemies when discovered; sex worker activists must hide nothing, so the public will understand that we’re being just as honest about the things we deny as those we confess.  This month’s guest column is about one of those unpleasant aspects of sex work; sex workers’ ad copy often presents us as insatiable sex goddesses getting paid for having a ball, but in truth we really aren’t all that different from other women and work sex is generally much more about work than sex to us.  The essay is also quite unusual in that it asks for advice, much like a Q & A column; however, since the question came from a celebrity I thought it needed a different treatment.  Furthermore, though I was able to give the lady some advice from my own experience, in my opinion she needs very specialized input pertaining to an area of sex work I have no personal experience with:  commercial porn.  Because the nature of the question would tend to undermine her public persona, she asked to be published anonymously and of course I have agreed;masked woman I used the name “Anonyma” both in reference to Catherine Walters, and because the title “Guest Columnist:  Anonymous” has already been used.  Please respect her wish for anonymity by not speculating on her identity in the comments.  I hope that readers with porn industry experience (I have at least two of you in mind) will weigh in, and if you feel your advice is better given privately please email me with “Anonyma” in the subject line and I’ll forward it to her.   

I am an award winning porn performer. My image is that of a hypersexual young woman who is insatiable—a sex symbol for my fans. But off camera, that image could be farther from reality.  At first, my porn life didn’t interfere too much with my  real life; I was still able to have sexual relationships on camera, and my libido was as high as ever.  But after I was in the industry for a while, my sex drive dropped to non-existent and the thought of a man’s penis penetrating me now makes me cringe.  Why?  A lot of reasons.

On set, I’m expected to have sex for hours.  After a while, the sex isn’t pleasurable; it’s actually quite painful.  Long days on set paired with exhaustion cause tears and cuts in my vagina- oftentimes it happens on set and I am told to power through to complete the scene.  Having sex with a tear is excruciatingly painful.  My many sexual partners and exploits have also led to another painful problem:  pelvic inflammatory disease, an infection that causes inflammation of the uterus and ovaries. In other words, every time a penis gets deep inside me the pain is unreal.  Normally, pelvic inflammatory disease is treated with antibiotics and abstinence from sex, but being that my job is to have sex, it comes and goes for me.

Sexual trauma from my past has also given me a mental block that arises whenever I have a sexual encounter.  I, like many other survivors, suffer from PTSD because of the assaults I have experienced.  Also, the thought of having sex and not being paid for it now bothers me; it’s as though I only view men as dollar signs, as games to be won.  Before, I always loved men AND women!  But now I’m encumbered by this aversion to men, and the thought of having sex with a man does not appeal to me in the slightest.  I still find men attractive, but I don’t have the urge to jump on him and fuck him like I used to.

Obviously, this is causing issues in my relationship with my boyfriend.  He is amazing and understanding, but I feel guilty for not being able to please him; we have only had sex 2 times this summer (I know, it’s horrible).  I have seen a therapist and he advised me to quit sex work, and maybe he’s right; maybe it is causing permanent damage to my psyche.  But it’s my livelihood and I still love it in most ways.  Does anyone have any advice?  What do I do to get over this mental blockage?  How do I begin to have a normal sex life again?  Help! 

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Theoretically, all children in the United States are at risk of being trafficked.  Theoretically, I’m at risk of drowning in a bucket or getting eaten by a cannibal.  –  Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Savaging

Enjoy this thorough denunciation of sex work “abolitionism” as “the worst abomination created by [neo]feminism” (from the French):

…these vile bastards…attempt to starve the prostitutes, to make them homeless, to…force them to change jobs…They claim that the vast majority of prostitutes are sex slaves enslaved by pimps…[feminists] are…[as] proud of the damage [they do] as the soldiers were once proud banner of the Crusades because each pillage every rape, every murder was an expression of superiority over the enemy…they pull figures out of nowhere…and prostitutes are not allowed to talk at their meetings unless they “repent”…

Parable

Another excellent parody of “sex trafficking” nonsense, this one from Marijke Vonk:

…“Marriage is happening right in our neighbourhoods” warns Angela Tite, co-founder of Concerned Maidens for America, a non-profit organisation against domestic abuse and romantic slavery…“Young women are lured in with promises of love and respect, only to find themselves entrapped in what can only be called modern-day slavery…it is estimated that over 70% of wives experience some form of violence or coercion…Nobody would choose that kind of life voluntarily” …According to the FBI, the average girl becomes involved in romantic relationships between 13 and 15, and some 500,000…are at risk of becoming victims of marriage and domestic violence every year.  “Child abuse is most commonly found inside homes” explains Mary Addington of No Child Left At Home…Over three thousand children and women  have been taken out of homes into…protective shelters, where home-raised children and wedlocked women are rehabilitated…deputy [Tom] Kreapy makes it very clear: “if it saves just one child, we must continue home-stings and neighbourhood raids”…

Saving Them From Themselves 

Cops want to create “child porn” to prosecute teen for creating “child porn” of himself.  I am not making this up:

A Manassas City [Virginia] teenager accused of “sexting” a video to his girlfriend is now facing a search warrant in which…police and…prosecutors want to take a photo of his erect penis…by taking him to a hospital and giving him an injection, the teen’s lawyers said…The teen is facing two felony charges, for possession of child pornography and manufacturing child pornography, which could lead not only to incarceration…but inclusion on the…sex offender data base for…life…

Saint Death Santa Muerte of Nueva Laredo

the “indicia” of drug-dealing has always been…bizarre…The defendant had $324 in cash in his pocket?  Proof he’s a drug dealer…If he has no cash…it’s proof he’s a major drug dealer…[who has] people who do the dirty transactions for [him]…It used to be the beeper that proved someone was a drug dealer…Then it became cellphones…The prosecution will put a cop on the stand…to explain to the ignorant…jury why that cash in the defendant’s pocket is so fundamentally different than the cash in their pockets.  (Hint: It’s because he’s a criminal)…the latest…is  [representing icons of] Santa Muerte…[as] “tools of the drug traffickers’ trade”…the…notion [of] “narco-saints” borders on incomprehensible…But give it a cool name like “narco-saint” and it suddenly turns religion into proof of guilt…

Finding What Isn’t There

At least US “authorities” don’t yet lock up people who debunk “sex trafficking”:  “Police in [The Gambia]…detained Sanna Camara, a journalist…as a result of a story…[in which police officials] admitted that [they] face challenges in combatting human trafficking…due to the unwillingness of victims or their families to aid investigations…”  In other words, those identified as “victims” refuse to play their assigned roles.

Wise Investment (TW3 #335)

The Chief Justice of the British Columbia Supreme Court, Allan McEachern, ruled on July 4, 1984, that sex workers on the Davie Street stroll were a “blatant, aggressive, and disorderly public nuisance”…and…banned [them] from their neighbourhood…[they] were forced to relocate…to what became the killing fields of…Downtown Eastside, with 65 women murdered since the mid-1980s…we seek a formal, public apology from Vancouver…[and] financial reparations…for a permanent memorial near the corner of Bute and Davie streets…

Innocence Never Had

Emi Koyama on how the “trafficking” paradigm harms young sex workers:

…please don’t refer to the youth as “children”…most are 16- and 17- year olds who resent being referred to as “children”…”Rescue” approach presumes that young people have a safe home to go back to and the only problem is the presence of the “trafficker.” That is not the reality for the vast majority…Youth often engage in sex trade in order to escape from violence and abuse at home or in the child welfare system…”Rescue” only sends them back to the unsafe situation that they are escaping from in the first place…It may be convenient for…society to pretend that…violence only comes from pimps and sex buyers, but it is not true…police, hospitals, and schools are much larger source of violence than pimps in the life of street youth…

Opting Out (TW3 #401)

The parental filters of U.K. ISPs are blocking 20 percent of the 100,000 most-visited websites…according to the Open Rights Group…”Different ISPs are blocking different sites and the result is that many people…can’t access their websites…there is a lack of information about how to get sites unblocked”…

Hall of Shame (TW3 #406) Dennis Hof

Your periodic reminder that Dennis Hof really is a revolting excuse for a human being:

The man who owns a well-known brothel in Nevada…is submitting plans to Phoenix city leaders asking permission to open a similar business…a month before the Super Bowl and then close it down a month after…”After [an] initial $500,000 up front, the city would take in additional tax dollars…I was raised in Phoenix…and prostitution was rampant then and is still a problem now…I do background checks on all my girls, they get tested frequently, I will cut down on the pimps and the clients will not go to an illegal source for sex if they have a legal source…Phoenix is one of the worst sex trafficking places in America and this will combat that”…

Drawing Lines

Another good one from Belle Knox, this time on Jezebel:

…I am often asked if there is solidarity among sex workers.  The answer, as I’ve come to slowly and painfully discover, is no.  We’re all essentially doing the same job — selling tickets to a fantasy — so you might imagine that, like retail, food service, or any other profession, we might have some form of solidarity.  But what I’ve learned about the…whorarchy…has helped shed some light on some of the lies I believe all women are buying to one degree or another…

Meanwhile Margaret Corvid, the dominatrix whose writing I criticized in the original of this title, apologized for her original wording and wrote this article to demonstrate her real feelings on the subject:

…I’ve seen the reports of people…forced to do sex work.  They are called trafficked women, and are often depicted at the point of a police raid, with flashing cameras shoved in their faces…I write today to stand with Agustin, Grant, and Maggie McNeill, who have so powerfully argued that this portrayal, and the very concept of “sex trafficking” that underpins it, is a myth…[which] deprives sex workers of agency and identity, as it…fetishises our lives and bodies…

Marching Up Their Own Arses (TW3 #414)

If your local cops claim that “prostitution is…one of the biggest problems they face,” I suggest it’s time to stop wasting money on a police department.  The most hilarious part of this article: the idea that there is such a thing as a “legal escort service” that can be “differentiated from illegal prostitution”.  Blah blah blah “not a victimless crime”, blah blah children, blah dirty whores, blah disease, blah licenses, booga booga SEX TRAFFICKING!

The Mote and the Beam (TW3 #419)

Elizabeth Brown analyzes the danger of the latest “sex trafficking” Trojan horse:

The “Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation (SAVE) Act“…would…require all sites that host adult advertising (whether paid or free)…to review ads before publication, request a valid telephone number and credit card number from each poster, “prohibit the use of euphemism and codewords”…and prohibit the use of prepaid debit cards or cryptocurrencies in placing paid ads.  For sites that run paid adult advertisements, publishers would be responsible for verifying the identity of every person who placed an adult ad by obtaining a copy of a government-issued ID containing their name, photo, and date of birth.  The publisher would have to hold on to these records for seven years and make them…available to the ["authorities" on demand]…The bill insists that information won’t be used against registrants in criminal proceedings unrelated to sex trafficking.  But knowing how fond government and law enforcement officials are of privacy and keeping promises, you can see why those advertising adult services…may be reluctant to hand over such information…

The most important real-world effect of this law would be to drive virtually 100% of adult advertising to sites hosted outside of the US.

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #422)

France avoids the Swedish rot for now:

A landmark bill in France that would see clients of prostitutes hit with fines of up to €1,500 may never see the light of day after senators voted to scrap the legislation…Senator Esther Benbassa cited the bad example…[of] Sweden where…it has failed to reduce prostitution and simply made life more dangerous for sex workers…

Whither Canada? (TW3 #423) C-36 protest

The proposed prostitution bill could make sex work even more dangerous and may be unconstitutional, more than 200 legal experts said in an open letter to the prime minister …In fact, they argue, it’s no better than the old law struck down by the Supreme Court late last year for violating sex workers’ Charter rights…

If Men Were Angels

A job centre employee has admitted demanding sex from unemployed former prostitutes in exchange for work…[and] is now facing sexual assault and bribery charges…The man had been responsible for a project since 1990 in which women who wanted to escape prostitution were found work…

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (TW3 #426)

Digging through the prohibitionist nonsense in this article yields this kernel:

…Dolly has been home…to 1,187 sex workers and 311 pimps (according to official data)…Unofficial reports found no fewer than 9,000 people, including those operating hundreds of lodges, cafés, karaoke bars, massage parlors and food stalls, were involved either directly or indirectly in the…sex industry…The possible massive exodus of former Dolly residents has caused great concern among provincial and regional governments…health campaigners, women and human rights advocates and members of community-based organizations across Indonesia, especially in Bali, which many consider a…perfect spot for sex tourism…“Within the framework of our [Bali’s] efforts to end the HIV epidemic, the closure of Dolly could become a time bomb — a social and health disaster for the island,” a doctor who conducts outreach programs for sex workers…said…

Bread and Circuses

The June 25 seizure of…MyRedBook…by the FBI has been heralded by some as another win in the war against…child sex traffickers…the FBI and CNN…fail to mention that the site also functioned as a critical exchange for sex workers looking to reduce harm and share best practices…the seizure has not only cut off a source of income for sex workers, but also a source of information and community…among crusaders committed to criminalizing sex workers and the people who purchase their services…sex workers…are either trafficked girls shackled to beds when they’re not servicing sadistic ghouls, or they are thrill-seeking degenerates blissfully unaware of their privilege…The former daydreams of a police raid that will liberate her…while the latter feverishly supports the “Pimp Lobby” from Twitter…The massive gulf of silence between these two caricatures gives space to a convenient narrative that…the overwhelming majority of sex workers require intervention by benevolent law enforcement agencies…

Lucy Steigerwald points out that there are scary implications for amateurs, too:

…The warning on My Red Book states that domain names count as property, therefore they can be taken under racketeering laws.  But that is a wide and rocky road towards censorship which needs to be challenged.  A website is speech…Shutting one down without due process is nothing more than censorship.  Just because the federal government wants to shield our eyes from prostitution doesn’t mean we should let it…

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Neither Here Nor There

I’m in a serious relationship with an escort; when we met a year ago I was her client, and since I’m not the jealous type her job was not an impediment to our becoming lovers.  I’m in my 40’s and she’s about the same age; she only started escorting after her divorce to provide for her kids.  However, we don’t have a lot of sex anymore, and when we do it’s nowhere near as good as it was the first few months we were together.  I would never ask her to quit her job, but she seems to have nothing left for me; she hasn’t even worn anything attractive at home since Christmas.  I was married for 17 years before divorcing a few years ago because our physical relationship deteriorated, and I don’t want to be trapped in that same situation again, but when I bring sex up with my girlfriend it just leads to fights.  I’m close to calling it quits and am desperate to find a solution.

Elvgren waitressOne of the most important missions of my blog, if not the most important mission, is getting people to understand that sex workers are not intrinsically different from other people.  The prevailing myth is that we’re “different” in some way, that we’re bad, flawed, broken, victimized, slutty or whatever; that is completely untrue.  Sex workers are as different from one another as are people in the general population, and there is no one harlot personality profile; though some might like you to believe otherwise, our willingness to have sex for pay has nothing to do with relative sex drive levels, and we don’t have predictably-greater libidos than anybody else.  I know it’s difficult for a man (except for one who has done sex work himself) to understand this; when you have sex it’s because you want to, and when you don’t want to you don’t have it.  But though neofeminists are unhappy about it, the fact is that women have sex for lots of reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with desire, and that’s even more true for sex workers.  A whore’s job performance has no more to do with sex drive than a waitress’s, teacher’s or nurse’s does.

What this means to you is that your lady’s job is neither here nor there in relation to the problem you’re having.  While in general sex workers are probably much more likely to understand a man’s needs than other women are, people tend to have a blind spot regarding their own situations; one who can understand a problem in relation to others may be completely unable to see it in herself.  Also, you said that she came to escorting later in life, long after her ideas about sex and love had formed; that makes it much less likely that she was unable to internalize the “whore’s-eye view”, and still looks at relationship sex as any amateur would.  Her quitting would make absolutely no difference in her sexual response to you; she’s not uninterested because she’s having “too much sex” or she’s “satisfied” due to her work activities, and it’s a virtual certainty that things would be the same no matter what job she did.

incompatibleYou mention that you’re only recently divorced, and I suspect she hasn’t been single again for long, either; what this looks like to me is a “rebound” relationship.  You both wanted to be with someone, and the other was convenient, but you may not be as compatible as your hormones have led you to believe.  I think this calls for introspection on your part; it’s not a good sign that she’s lost sexual interest in you even before you’re married, and it’s not going to get better by itself.  Though breakups are never pleasant, I think y’all both need to consider if you’re really right for each other, or if you’re just lonely and afraid to be alone.

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The mind demands rules; the facts demand exceptions.  –  Mason Cooley

kiwiOf all the different varieties of irritating weenies in the world, one of the worst is that species of tiny-minded pedant who is completely unable to comprehend the concept of a generality.  Though there is no such thing as a rule without exceptions (except, perhaps, for that one), this perennial poop feels compelled to interrupt any general statement with the unnecessary declaration that there are exceptions to it.  Make the statement, “Birds have wings,” and this knob will invariably remind you that kiwis do not; it doesn’t matter to him that kiwis are but five species of the roughly 10,000 in the class Aves, that they are entirely limited to New Zealand, and that they number only about 60,000 of the total 400 billion birds in the world (approximately 0.000014%).  Expressed another way, if at birth you were given a magic hat which produced a randomly-generated bird once per minute, you’d probably be past puberty before the first kiwi popped out.  But to the anti-generalist, that doesn’t matter; his creed is, “If it results in the recognition of even ONE KIWI, it will all be worth it!!!!1!11!”

Though I used the masculine pronoun in the paragraph above because that’s what one does in English, I’ve never noticed any difference in the gender distribution of this particular personality flaw; men and women seem equally afflicted by the inability to comprehend that exceptions don’t invalidate rules.  For years, MRAs have complained about the syndrome they refer to as “NAWALT” (Not All Women Are Like That), and in the past year feminists have started making the same complaint, which they refer to as “Not All Men” and bizarrely associate with fedoras and the Kool-Aid Man character.  Of course, both of them are right in considering this sort of person annoying, and dead wrong in pretending the syndrome is limited to the opposite sex…which, as it turns out, supports my contention that feminists and MRAs are actually the same critter with different genitalia.  Yes, there are some negative characteristics that tend to appear in many women…and not all women are like that.  And yes, there are some negative characteristics that tend to appear in many men…and not all men are like that.  And in neither case is it actually necessary to say so, because fanatics won’t believe it anyway and rational people already know it.

Unfortunately, the word “rational” does not actually describe very many people in the modern West.  As the spring wore on and the “Not All Men” thing grew from an inane trope into a fad far more annoying than the behavior it was intended to mock, some master of Not Thinking Things Through apparently decided that the way to counter the truthful-but-unnecessary assertion that not all members of a sex are identical was to wrongfully assert that they are.  At least, that seemed to be the premise behind #YesAllWomen, a Twitter hashtag apparently dedicated to the notion that the actions of a homicidal psychopath were somehow indicative of the behavior of ALL men, and that ALL women constantly live in mortal terror of this.  Or something.

At some point in the past century, extremism became the norm in the United States; that defective way of seeing the world seems to have since spread to much of the West.  No longer is it enough to disagree with someone else’s political position; now its opponents must assume a diametrically opposite posture.  Dislike some aspect of x?  Crusade for its total eradication, no matter how many civil liberties must be trampled, how many billions wasted and how many people killed in the process.  Dislike a politician?  Oppose all of his policies, even those which were started by your party the last time it held the office.  Irritated with “Not All Birds” yo-yos?  Insist that every last bird is as identical as a plastic toy made from a mold, and that one draconian, narrow-minded policy is good for all of them.  Then argue until you’re blue in the face with your supposed “enemies”, and don’t be too surprised when reasonable people want  nothing to do with either of you.

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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on May 25th; I have modified it slightly to fit the format of this blog.

Though human beings have developed a highly technological society based on scientific principles, the great majority of them are still immersed in magical thinking.  I don’t merely mean a few irrational beliefs which we recognize as irrational; everyone, including the most die-hard skeptics, have such beliefs, and there’s nothing wrong with that as long as we recognize them as irrational and proceed accordingly.  What is not harmless, however, is basing laws and policies on primitive superstitions such as the idea that inanimate objects can be evil, that talismans or inscriptions can grant power over others or turn evil actions into good ones, and that innocuous actions which violate cultural taboos can render a person ritually impure.  Many of the systemic evils of modern societies (such as the drug war, censorship and police brutality) spring from one or more of these beliefs, and the “taboo” principle is the source of most of the harmful laws and social stigma surrounding sex work.  But today I’d like to discuss another magical belief, the principle of contagion, and demonstrate how it generates some truly bizarre and harmful discrimination against sex workers.

The principle of contagion is the one which underlies most sympathetic magic; it is the belief that once an object has been in contact with something or someone, it is forever affected by that thing.  This is why old-style barber shops in New Orleans used to offer to put newspaper on the floor to catch one’s cut hair; superstitious people feared allowing the clippings to come into the possession of an enemy, who might use it to inflict harm via black magic.  Similarly, relics of saints are believed to share in the saint’s holiness.  It is this belief which underlies the absurd behavior I mock as fear of “sex rays”:

The dirtier and more “illicit” the sex, the more intense the sex rays …BDSM and swinging  produce concentrations that can contaminate surrounding objects, and sex work produces such intense levels that sex workers cannot be allowed near children ever again for the rest of their lives.   Even objects we handle  (including money and virtual objects such as emails) must be kept far away from “children” (including young adults), and the danger is so great that kids inadvertently exposed to the dreaded rays must be quarantined from other kids…

sketch of possibly-imaginary parasites by Dr. Michel Ettmuller (1682)But it isn’t only children who are believed to be harmed by the contaminating touch of harlots; adult human beings in the 21st century actually behave as though commercial sex inflicts some magical taboo radiation into bedclothes and other surroundings, while amateur sex does not.  Nobody is disturbed by the knowledge that any hotel bed one occupies has previously been shagged in by complete strangers, but apparently sex workers carry pernicious and undetectable cooties which we deposit everywhere we work, and which cannot be removed from bedding without washing it in holy water and soap made from the fat of virgin lambs:

The owner of budget hotels in…[England] has admitted prostitutes have used his properties…Tony Burlingham…said he was taking action to tackle the issue, but said the law made it hard for hotel owners to do so…“One in five hotel bedrooms have got a prostitute in them.  Police have taken the crime off the street and have moved it into [hotels]”…selling sex behind closed doors is legal, as is buying sex…“What we have done is turned the internet off and have put car park restrictions on”…He said switching off the internet aimed to stop prostitutes in his rooms [going online]…and…limiting the number of cars would prevent pimps from parking in the car park…

For now, let’s just ignore the absurdity of calling sex work a “crime” in one sentence while admitting it isn’t in the next; let’s just wonder how any sane, modern adult believes that sex for pay in a hotel room is somehow intrinsically different from “free” sex in the same room.  The principle of contagion is even more obvious in this story about Airbnb, a website which allows people to rent their homes to strangers for short periods of time.  A person would have to be hopelessly naïve to imagine that none of these renters ever have sex in their beds, yet when money is exchanged for the exact same activity we get this:

Hookers are using…Airbnb…to turn prime Manhattan apartments into temporary brothels…One apartment…belongs to publicist Jessica Penzari…But when a hooker got slashed by a client in the…apartment over the price…Penzari got a call from cops…Airbnb put her up in the swanky InterContinental hotel in Times Square for two nights…and also paid to change her door locks, clean her apartment and replace her pillows and other belongings…Airbnb said…“we have zero tolerance for this activity”…

They replaced her belongings…why, exactly?  Because of contamination by sex rays or malignant magical microorganisms, obviously.  The story (or others like it) inspired this incredibly loathsome scheme:

…The landlords of swanky Manhattan buildings are hiring private investigators to smoke out tenants who use Airbnb to illegally rent rooms – including to prostitutes and drug users…investigators respond to ads featured on the online home-sharing service…[then] gather evidence — including photos, receipts and copies of keys — to [enable] landlords [to] evict [them]…Landlords [supposedly] hire the private investigators after [busybody neighbors] complain…about…unfamiliar visitors in the building…[Vincent] Parco also uses a team of attractive women — who sometimes pose as hookers — to catch the…tenants…It’s illegal for tenants in New York to rent out apartments while they’re not on the premises…

bed cootiesWhen this story broke, some sex workers questioned why it was necessary for the hired rats to pose as honest sex workers, if any subletting is illegal.  The reason, of course, is whore stigma; if the fake renter was pretending to be a sweet, virginal secretary, a judge might side with the tenant against the sleazy, spying landlord and his hired snoops.  But let the fake pretend to be a whore and all sympathy goes out the window; after all, no measure is too extreme to prevent filthy strumpets from contaminating real people’s beds with their invisible cooties.

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Every civilization when it loses its inner vision and its cleaner energy, falls into a new sort of sordidness, more vast and more stupendous than the old savage sort.  An Augean stable of metallic filth.  –  D.H. Lawrence

bagasse moundsI grew up in an area of south Louisiana whose primary industry (in those days) was sugar production; one of the places we used to play was in a sugarcane field near our street, and from the late 19th century until the 1960s the majority of the area’s population worked for a large sugar refinery.  Once the sugar-bearing juice has been extracted from the cane, the remaining vegetable matter is called bagasse; it can be burned to generate power and is also used for an agricultural fertilizer.  But as you can imagine, it has a powerful odor, and the vast heaps of bagasse which are piled up in holding areas look and smell a lot like huge mountains of manure after sitting for a while in the damp Louisiana climate.

That was the image which entered my mind unbidden when I read this article  almost two months ago.  Like bagasse or manure, there is absolutely nothing new in it; it’s the end result of other processes, piled up in a 3000-word mound (and this is only part two!) and reeking to high heaven.  And like those vegetable waste products, this type of filth is also very useful as fertilizer; unfortunately, the only crop it works on is the unwholesome one called the police state.  “Sex trafficking” hysteria is prime manure for encouraging the growth of internet censorship, mass surveillance, border control, police violence, sexual repression and state control of women’s bodies, and though humanity would be better off if these noxious weeds were exterminated, all too many “journalists” are happy to nurture them instead by generating mounds of reeking rubbish like this one:

…“The technology of…phones and…computers and everything…is also a curse because we can’t track all the places our kids go,” said Kathleen Winn…[of] Phoenix’s sex trafficking task force…“we can’t control who reaches our children.”  Social media…provides an egress for pimps into the lives of their victims, and a way for them to monitor their victims, according to…Dominique Roe-Sepowitz…the Phoenix Dream Center, a task force affiliate…said…“We even try to break up Internet businesses…We are looking for ways…[to destroy] Backpage.com…they make millions of dollars a year on their adult services ads”…

One of the most psychologically fascinating things about fanatics is that they’re so completely unable to recognize their own fanaticism, they often make statements that blatantly demonstrate it.  The freakish need to “control” every interaction adolescents (the real meaning of “children” in this context) have with other people (at a time in their lives when they’re supposed to be learning how to function in adult society) is used as an excuse for schemes to “break up” internet businesses and a larger campaign to destroy the internet as we know it; this and the Luddite hysteria itself are openly avowed without any attempt to disguise them to fool non-fanatics.  I’ve noticed this about many articles (whether anti-sex, anti-migration or pro-censorship) coming out of Arizona these days; due to the process of group polarization  Arizonans seem completely unable to recognize how extreme their beliefs and rhetoric are in comparison with the rest of the country.  When delusional maniacs like Joe Arpaio or John and Cindy McCain start barking at the moon, they do not realize how deranged they sound to others because everyone in Phoenix political circles encourages and applauds their howling.  Dominique Roe-Sepowitz was completely unable to recognize what her creepy statement about “body fluids” and “normal relationships” sounded like to normal people until it started to be quoted in articles critical of Project ROSE; even then her response was not introspection, but simply refusing to give interviews to anyone other than a religious magazine.  But I digress:

Two years ago…a civil case was filed…“against Backpage.com and the pimps…alleging that these kids were trafficked on Backpage.com,” said Erik Bauer, a Tacoma-based attorney…

The article ignores the fate of previous frivolous suits like this one, and of every single law designed to destroy the internet in the name of “shutting down Backpage” for “THE CHILDREN!!!!!”  It also ignores the part where a federal judge forced Washington state to pay for Backpage’s defense on the grounds that it knew the law was unconstitutional when it was enacted; instead, it promotes an anti-sex lawyer’s spurious view that sexual speech is magically different from all other forms of speech:

Bauer predicted that Backpage’s future is foggy at best.  “There are some weird legal decisions in our country, and so far they have enabled Backpage to exist and even thrive,” said Bauer. “Blatant prostitution advertising is what they are…I actually believe that Backpage’s days are numbered…We have a legal theory that works and they don’t”…

Blah blah blah pimps, blah blah children, blah “promoting prostitution”.  I find it especially interesting that the only non-Arizonan quoted at length in this dungheap is from Washington…which foams at the mouth over sex nearly as much as Arizona does.  And that’s a lot of foam:

Katie Resendiz of Arizona Training and Resources to Stop Trafficking (AZ TRUST)…said…“The hypersexualization of the youth and commodification of women’s bodies is exactly why we have a sex-trafficking crisis in the United States.  We train young boys to think of women as objects and sex as something to be purchased, and we train women to think of their bodies as purchasable”…

Another astonishing aspect of “sex trafficking” rhetoric is the repeated assertion (not limited to Arizona) that prostitution is “accepted” and “normalized” in the United States, the only developed country in which the sale of sex is itself illegal.  It requires an almost incomprehensible level of provincialism and ignorance to make such a statement, yet we see it over and over again like the tenet of faith it obviously is (often in close proximity to “prostitution is not a victimless crime”).  And just in case you needed more proof of how deeply statist “trafficking” cultists are, Resendiz delivers this gem:  “If you see something, say something, because if it looks bad, it probably is.”  The conventional wisdom is that the police state, big religion and “feminism” are all different things, and some will claim that different proponents of “sex trafficking” hysteria have different motives.  But that simply isn’t so; even if it had been true before the advent of the moral panic it certainly isn’t now, and Arizona’s fascist “trafficking” establishment is a perfect example.  Much has been written about Project ROSE’s fusion of police state, religious and “feminist” social work elements, and the “Dream Center” featured in this article is no different:

…the Phoenix Dream Center is one of the municipal sex trafficking task force affiliates…There are 183 churches in the…Dream Center’s network.  Its $2 million budget is supported…[in part] through…government programs…Classes at the center are life-recovery and spiritually based, and are taught by retired police…The organization works intimately with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation…

Nor is it only streetwalkers they label as “trafficked”:

The organization is the largest strip club outreach in the region, and has handed out gifts to more than 800 women on its Phoenix route…“We have outreaches at the malls, games, concerts, and Backpage.  We’re working on the massage parlors, we will get there by 2015,” [operative Jessica] Knight said…“Whether it is a girl being trafficked…or a mom selling herself on Backpage to feed her family, we are there for them…[with] a…rescue squad that snatches the victim away from her pimp”…

Her ideas about “what sex trafficking abduction looks like” include “[letting] a person you do not know take pictures of you with their cell phone” and “kids talking to people they don’t know.”  And like Resendiz, Knight encourages adolescents to report “suspicious” people “to the proper law enforcement authorities”; after her “training”, one shudders to think how many men are being investigated by the Phoenix Stasi as “pimps”,dung critters especially given that her philosophy is “It is better to cry wolf and be wrong, than to have a friend, neighbor, or family member disappear and end up in slavery.”  Too bad for all the innocents who end up caged in Arpaio’s dungeon, I guess.

This article was a particularly large, particularly fragrant heap of prohibitionist manure, but the American journalistic landscape is dotted with them and they’re especially common in places like Arizona and Washington; puritanical control freaks are right at home in these mounds and can always be found wallowing ecstatically in their decomposing environment without as much as a clue about how they look and smell to everyone else.

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