Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Rome’

This essay first appeared in Cliterati on March 23rd; I have modified it slightly to fit the format of this blog.

The Vestal Virgins were among the most important people in classical Roman society; they were charged with keeping the sacred fires burning, and accorded numerous privileges in return.  One of the greatest of these was that their persons were sacrosanct; in other words, no person could touch them without their permission, upon penalty of death.  That meant no one at all, not even high state officials; a Vestal could not be touched even if she were convicted of the greatest crime of which she could be accused, that of breaking her vows by having sex or allowing the sacred fires to go out.  Because these offenses were believed to anger the gods and thus risk the safety of all Rome, the penalty for them was death; but since nobody could touch them to administer the sentence there was only one way carry it out:  the dishonored priestess was buried alive.  In order to avoid breaking another law against burialVestal Condemned to Death (attributed to Pietro Saja, about 1800) within the city, the tomb was provided with a candle and a small quantity of food and water in order to establish the legal fiction that it was a “habitable room” rather than a sepulcher, and the unlucky woman was thus left to a lingering death by slow suffocation to preserve the illusion of piety which would have been shattered by spilling her blood.

Whores are in many ways the diametric opposites of the Vestals:  we are as far from virgins as it’s possible to be, are stigmatized and rejected by our societies rather than being honored by them, and are responsible for banking men’s sexual fires rather than keeping actual ones burning.  But in the past few decades, there has arisen a legal doctrine which represents all women as helpless, pure and sacred; we are supposed to be delicate flowers who are irremediably damaged by the evil lusts of brutal men, from whom the Sacred State must “protect” us.  Harlots sin against that precept by being strong, self-willed beings who deal with men on equal ground and make a living from male lust rather than being “ruined” by it as the catechism claims we should be.  We must therefore be punished, but since Holy Writ has declared us blameless victims how can that be accomplished?  The answer, as it was for the Vestals, is slow suffocation…though in this case economic and social rather than literal.

The tomb disguised as a “habitable room” into which prohibitionists want sex workers sealed is called the “Swedish model”; just as the Vestals’ persons technically remained inviolate, so women under this abominable regime are not technically criminalized.  Our meager provisions consist of the fact that we can, on paper, carry out our work unhindered.  But just as the Vestal was prevented by the earth above her “room” from getting any more food, water or air, so Swedish prohibition attempts to starve and suffocate their victims by persecuting their clients, getting them evicted from their homes, hounding them with police surveillance, denying them social benefits and even stealing their children.  Swedish proponents even go so far as to proclaim that sex workers are “decriminalized”…just as the Romans could say that the condemned Vestals had not been directly executed.

In all of Roman history, only ten Vestals were ever condemned to this horrible fate.  But unfortunately for the mad totalitarian dreams of the prohibitionists, there are millions of whores in the world; it would be absolutely impossible for them to ever entomb all of us, no matter how fervently they might wish to do so.  In order to advance their scheme to extinguish as many of us as possible, they must find and close up every possible gap through which economic sustenance might flow, and that means eliminating our means of attracting and contacting clients.  Increased police surveillance could drive street workers into the dark, dangerous places where the Pure and Holy need not see them, but street work has always been a minority of all sex work and that’s even more true now thanks to the internet (which allows incredibly cheap advertising with greater reach than even the most expensive venues had twenty years ago).  Banning escort advertising has no effect whatsoever; there is no way to stop people from hiding commercial sex adverts within other, unbanned forms, and almost no way to stop buyers living under such a censorship regime from accessing websites hosted outside its jurisdiction.  This utterly infuriates the prohibitionists, who are well aware of sex workers and clients conducting our business right under their noses; they have therefore embarked upon an all-out effort to destroy its most visible manifestations, no matter what the costs in human rights.  Irish prohibitionists have proposed giving police the power to steal sex workers’ phone numbers in order to convert them into traps for clients.  Scottish prohibitionists, defeated in their attempt to impose the Swedish model, are trying to drum up support for advertising censorship by demonizing clients.  And American prohibitionists are willing to totally destroy the internet as we know it:

…members of Congress have asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to prosecute Backpage.com for its role in prostitution and sex trafficking or to recommend legislation that would make prosecution possible…[they claim] that…tens of thousands of children are sold for sex…every year…Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 protects websites from liability for content posted by a third party. That means a website can’t be prosecuted when someone posts an illegal ad on their website…

Vestal Condemned to DeathWere websites to be held liable for third-party content, they would have no choice but to shut it down.  All of it.  Amazon reviews, YouTube videos, comments on websites, free hosting of sites like mine on larger entities like WordPress…all gone, wiped out overnight.  If you think this only applies to American websites, guess again; a large fraction of the internet’s backbone is on American soil, and the US government has given itself the power to shut down any website in any country which it decides has violated some US law, through the simple expedient of shutting down traffic to it at the point it passes through the US.  And while the article above restricts its language to “children”, others are more honest about the politicians’ intent:

…proposed legislation…would allow for federal felony charges to be brought against operators of web sites that fuel the illicit sex trade through commercial ads…Under the Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation Act, individuals would face felony charges for promoting an advertisement…that…facilitates any of numerous crimes against children and adults in the sex trade, including…pimping and prostitution.  The legislation would also allow federal authorities to shut down advertisements…

What these megalomaniacs seek is nothing less than the power to shut down any escort’s ad and to prosecute the website that carries it; even websites outside the US could be attacked as described above.  There is probably very little danger of the Roasting the Pig By Burning Down the House Act going through, or of it withstanding a challenge even if it did; US judges have repeatedly proven themselves wiser than politicians by striking such laws down every time they’ve been tried.  But the fact that they do keep trying is a measure of their hatred and disdain for the women they wish to suffocate in the name of “protecting” our sacred bodies from “violation” by consensual sex.

Read Full Post »

There’s nothing constant in the world,
All ebb and flow, and every shape that’s born
Bears in its womb the seeds of change.
  -  Ovid, Metamorphoses (XV, 177-8)

hollyThe holiday season just isn’t like it used to be any more; in fact, I’m rather beginning to dread it.  When I was a little girl I looked forward to it with great anticipation; I suppose all children do.  The food, the presents, the shows, the excitement, the new clothes, the break from routine, the visits from relatives…by the beginning of December I’m sure I was quite insufferable, counting down to the Big Day.  But now it always seems so disappointing.

I guess part of it is just that I’m not a child any more, and therefore unable to see things uncritically as children do.  And certainly, the world has changed in the past twenty years; we are not as innocent as we once were, and things are getting so commercial.  I know that probably sounds like hypocrisy coming from one who sells that which other women give away, but there’s a time and place for everything; just as there are times when I won’t work and men I won’t trade with, so I think an ethical merchant should not view the holidays solely as a means of enrichment.  Obviously, I’m not against business, and clearly food and gifts and decorations and everything else aren’t going to drop out of Heaven.  But isn’t there a difference between making money from what is supposed to be a religious holiday, and replacing the true meaning with a purely economic one?

Maybe that’s what’s bothering me; things are changing as things are wont to do, and I simply haven’t adjusted yet.  That will never work; I have to get myself out of this way of thinking before I end up like my grandmother, trapped in a world she barely recognizes.  She goes on and on about all the immigrants, and how their foreign ways have ruined what used to be a god-fearing country, and how all of our troubles derive from losing our traditional morality.  At this time of year she’s especially insufferable; why, just yesterday she was complaining that nobody even calls the holiday by its proper name any more.  “Sol Invictus!” she said; “Who’s that supposed to be?  Some combination upstart god!  When I was a girl the holiday was called Saturnalia, and it went on for a week, not one day as it is now!  We knew what was right then, and even though we still had barbarians bringing in their outlandish gods from all over the Empire nobody was confusing them with the true gods of Rome.  But now what do we have?  A Greek emperor ordering Romans to worship the Jewish god!  It’s madness, the world turned upside-down!”  Mother and I tried to explain to her that the Emperor had done no such thing, and everyone was free to worship whatever gods they chose, but it was no use; she just kept mumbling about “keeping Saturn in Saturnalia.”

Perhaps Granny has done me a favor by showing me how not to think.  After all, I enjoyed the Dies Natalis Solis Invicti of my youth just as much as Granny enjoyed her Saturnalia, and even if my grandchildren turn Christian will they not enjoy the festival as well, even if it has some new name and a new rationale?  Though I can no longer embrace the holiday as a child I can embrace it in another way, accepting the change rather than fighting it.  Perhaps the specific reason for the season isn’t actually important, as long as there is one; maybe it’s the celebration itself that actually matters, rather than any single reason any given group of people try to impose upon it.  And if I can only keep that in mind, maybe I’ll enjoy my holiday this year after all.

Read Full Post »

There’s a certain color someone uses that I won’t mention that tells me someone’s been demonized.  Everything that I talk about is based on numbers, is based on studies, which is what you do…when you’re a scientist.  -  Jerry Mungadze

Another good week for general links, though I’m glad it wasn’t quite so heavy on topical ones; if I start getting too many more of those I’ll have to expand to two TW3 columns, and I’m really not anxious to do that yet.  Our leading contributor for the week was Jesse Walker, with everything down to the first video; that one and “cat physics” were supplied by Mike Siegel.  The second video is just footage from a probe on the Martian surface of Phobos eclipsing Deimos, and was provided by Antonio Lorusso; the links between the videos are courtesy of Popehat (“science”), Aspasia (“nanotechnology”), Brooke Magnanti (“tentacles”), Franklin Harris (“haters”), Cthulhuchick (“Azathoth” and “canyon”), Mistress Matisse (“menstruation”), my husband (“allergies”),  Mike Riggs (“presence” and “prohibition”), Dean Clark (“taboo”), Cop Block (“never call cops”, “legless” and “bicycle”), and Radley Balko (“SWAT”).

From the Archives

Read Full Post »

To God, there is no zero.  -  Richard Matheson, The Shrinking Man

Richard MathesonR.I.P. Richard Matheson

Another of the greats has passed on.  Though his name is less familiar to the general public than those of many far less talented and far less influential authors, virtually everyone has seen and appreciated screen versions of his work; he wrote almost half of the best Twilight Zone episodes, most of the Vincent Price “Poe” movies of the early ‘60s and many other films you may know (including the thrice-filmed I Am Legend).  And since I can’t possibly do his memory justice in this small space, here’s a proper tribute from regular reader Franklin Harris.

Meretrices and Prostibulae

Archaeologists recently uncovered an ancient brothel attached to a gymnasium and restaurant in northern Greece…It was likely built in the second century BCE, which means it had been a going concern for about 250 years when an earthquake…shut [it] down forever.  Put another way, this brothel operated longer than the United States has so far…

N.B.:  I used this title because Greece was under Roman rule at that time.

License To Rape

Tanzanian police torture, rape and assault sex workers, sexual minorities and drug users, while medical staff deny them healthcare…Human Rights Watch…said in a report…[they] were [also] arrested and detained for days on end…Officers gang raped children as young as 12 years old…One drug user had his eyes burned out with acid…

Jezebel (January Updates)

hotel maidsNordic Choice Hotels…has announced the removal of pornography from its television channels.  ‘We believe it is a natural part of our social responsibility to not support an industry that contributes to…trafficking,’ said [CEO] Torgeir Silseth…”  There was no statement from Nordic Choice about shutting down their whole chain because many so-called “trafficking” victims work in hotels, but I guess one has to have priorities.

Old Men and Young Women

Silvio Berlusconi was given a seven-year prison sentence and banned from holding public office for life…after an Italian court found him guilty of abuse of office and paying for sex with…underage prostitute…Karima El Mahroug…” Berlusconi and the girl both deny having had sex, and even if they had it would’ve been completely legal had no money changed hands because she was 17 at the time.

Neither Cold nor Hot

The Miami New Times does an article on sugar babies; frantic pearl-clutching ensues at Jezebel:

…What really sucks about sugar baby relationships is that most of the arrangements don’t seem like they’re entered into freely; they’re a desperate response to a shitty set of circumstances — a lack of job opportunities, lack of job abilities, and last, but not least, the insanely high cost of college education…the site even targets advertising to women who search “help with college tuition”…

The Author Formerly Known as Morning Gloria has a history of this sort of neofeminist prohibitionism disguised under a thin veneer of sex-positive platitudes, and that’s not even counting her apparent belief that the law of conservation of energy somehow proves that “America is…fucked up.”

May Q & A

Veteran Brazilian activist Gabriela Leite on why she likes the word “whore”:

Bootlickers

How will historians judge a culture that spent many man-months and tens of thousands of dollars on this?

A bikini-barista stand owner who twice before has been accused of lewd conduct recently managed to get a…[cop] to warn her of any undercover surveillance…Carmela A. Panico, and Sgt. Darrell L. O’Neill…were charged with conspiracy to promote prostitution…at seven Java Juggs and Twin Peaks espresso stands…The FBI assisted with the investigation…

Yes, the FBI actually helped bluenoses harass coffee shops because the waitresses wear bikinis.

Somehow, I Doubt She Thought This Through

Julie Ann Carey, 41, not only was robbed at knife point after providing sex to a customer, police then arrested her for solicitation after she reported the crime…

The Crumbling Dam

Try to imagine an editorial like this in an American newspaper:

…In…[the] Globe & Mail, paid typist and self-confessed plagiarist  Margaret Wente [published]…”Legal Prostitution? Are We Nuts?”, [in which she] brings her swollen puritanism to bear on the current Supreme Court case…Calling prostitution, “the most exploitative, degrading work on Earth” Wente opposes the “feminists and other progressive types”…who are endeavoring to make it less exploitative and degrading…What she doesn’t acknowledge…is that prostitution is already legal in Canada

It’s That Time Again

New Jersey is getting an early start on the annual campaign to look really stupid and transfer a lot of money to cops’ pockets:

New Jersey law enforcement officials expecting a rise in forced prostitution leading up to the 2014 Super Bowl said…efforts to crack down on criminals and help victims will span the entire state…New Jersey is believed to be a major entry point for human trafficking due to its dense and diverse population and convenient access from New York to Philadelphia…Selling Sex

Presents, Presents, Presents!

Joyce Arthur sent me a copy of the new anthology Selling Sex:  Experience, Advocacy and Research on Sex Work in Canada, to which she contributed an essay.  Thank you!

Naked Truth

Laura Lee published “Sex Workers Don’t Deserve to be Stigmatised – and We Don’t Want Your Pity Either” in The Independent:

…I can go out…get hopelessly drunk and jump into bed with Mr. A. Random…the chances are any form of protection will go out the window, as will any form of valid consent.  As a society, we deem that okay, because everyone does it, right?  If I go to a hotel, meet Mr. A. Random in the middle of an afternoon, spend a couple of pleasant protected hours and get paid for it – pearls everywhere are clutched and horror levels soar.  But in my second example, I’m safer.  I know his name, his phone number, where he is staying and I am…surrounded by people…

Bottleneck

The Prague Assembly has approved a bill to regulate prostitution…[both brothels and individual] prostitutes would have to apply for a licence…prostitutes would have to be over 18, without criminal record and…would have to undergo regular medical check-ups…”  The bill’s author claims its intent is “to divide legal prostitution from the illegal.”  It’ll do that, all right, but not in the way he seems to think.

Dirty Laundry

There were a few Magdalene Laundries in the United States as well:

…at…fourteen, Diana [O’Hara] entered the gates of the Good Shepherd Laundry in Buffalo, New York with the label of “incorrigible”…talking was allowed only when the nuns clapped their hands…[a misbehaving girl would be]…locked inside [a] closet…[or] an old [rat-infested] shower room with stone benches [sometimes for days]…followed [by] a severe beating…to “make her strong”…

Gorged With Meaning (TW3 #52)

While jobs are difficult to find and money is tight, should the Welsh Government be helping women find extremely lucrative and flexible work?”  Yes, someone actually asked that.Johnny Depp & Amber Heard

False Target (TW3 #135)

Hugo Schwyzer is still pretending that men’s preference for young women is “socially constructed”; Christopher Ryan corrects him:

In a recent column at The Atlantic…Hugo Schwyzer asks us to consider, “What would happen if men stopped chasing much younger women?”…he’s not talking about pedophiles…[but rather] men like Johnny Depp, who is apparently dating a woman in her late 20s, while he’s just hit the big 5-0…Schwyzer argues…that this isn’t…happening in response to…innate biological desire…despite the overwhelming…evidence…Schwyzer cites [only] a 2007 study done in Sweden…[which] actually says the opposite of what he thinks it does…Schwyzer somehow knows Depp’s…attracted to his 27 year-old girlfriend because…she’s powerless and he’s intimidated by less “malleable” women of his own age….[this] attempt to shame consenting adults out of what he considers to be inappropriate relationships strikes me as quite the opposite of an informed feminist perspective…

The Auctioneer Effect

If you thought ultrasound requirements for abortion were bad…

…a last-minute amendment to Ohio’s budget…requires an ultrasound and 24-hour wait before birth control… “Pregnancy” in the context of the informed-consent requirements now means “any fertilized egg”…so…“the disruption of implantation of a fertilized egg” now counts as an abortion.  Prescribing birth control is, in Ohio, a ticking time-abortion…

Comfort Zone (TW3 #320)

Usually, the equation of migration with “trafficking” as an excuse to restrict it isn’t quite this transparent:

At least 200 Nigerian girls are trafficked every month to Russia…the crime…declined in Western Europe following strict laws on illegal migration…to curb the menace…[so] attention…shifted to Eastern Europe…you will be shocked at the extent of resistance [to being “rescued”] from the girls. We tell them Russia is not a destination for prostitutes yet they still come…the parents of those trafficked encourage…their children…Casey Kids Playhouse

Think of the Children! (TW3 #321)

More hysteria over structural sex ray contamination:

Parents’ outrage at an advertisement for a swingers party at a [Victoria] children’s play centre has forced the local council to close the business…the centre’s owners [had] said they would repeat the event every month at Casey Kids Playhouse once they found six other couples…a local mother…[who] had booked her son’s fourth birthday party there…[said] ”I am disgusted…This is so morally wrong, not to mention unhygienic”…

I just can’t stop laughing at the word “unhygienic” in that context.

Absolute Corruption (TW3 #323)

The inevitable result of allowing “authorities” to “investigate” themselves:

Jesse Friedman…was properly convicted and should not have his status as a sexual predator overturned…[claims] Nassau County district attorney…Kathleen M. Rice…Mr. Friedman’s lawyer, Ron Kuby, and…Andrew Jarecki, [director of Capturing the Friedmans]…[said] the report was a biased whitewash by the office that originally botched the case…“Rice has made a craven, but not surprising, political decision in failing to admit to the wrongdoing of the…D.A.’s office and former sex crimes chief Fran Galasso, in the face of overwhelming evidence of Jesse’s innocence,” Mr. Jarecki said.  Mr. Kuby said that the district attorney’s office had fought Mr. Friedman’s efforts at every turn and that this was just more of the same…“Fortunately, the conclusion of this bogus reinvestigation clears the way for the Friedman team to return to court”…

Rotten to the Core

This is how service disputes are handled when the profession is legal:  “Sunset Thomas…the…onetime cast member of…Cathouse…and [retired] porn star…[who works] at the Chicken Ranch in Pahrump [Nevada, is being sued by regular client Robert Proffitt for]…$2,200 for services he alleges were not rendered…

Which I Doubt

Tracy Quan considers the connection between the recent Supreme Court decision and the New York “condoms as evidence” bill, and discusses the rather unpleasant bedfellows the sex worker rights movement picked up in both cases, quoting yours truly in the process.

Across the Pond (TW3 #324)Jack Vettriano painting

Gee, I can’t imagine why the police took these paintings:

Jack Vettriano paintings worth £500,000 were seized from a former brothel boss in a police crackdown on vice…detectives…smashed into the home of Ian Haig, 70, whose brother Charles, 73, runs a…sauna in Edinburgh.  Vettriano…regularly visited Scorpio sauna…in the 1990s and painted…girls working there.  He gave paintings to Ian Haig as a thank-you before he became one of Britain’s most successful artists…Police [claim the paintings are]…potential evidence…

Number Puzzle (TW3 #324)

Why is it that people just don’t get that sex work follows the same rules of economics as any other business?

The presence of thousands of brothels and hundreds of thousands of prostitutes has heightened competition and pushed prices down steeply in the German sex trade…Prostitution became legal in Germany in 2002, and the open sex trade has taken off in the years since…It’s been estimated that more than 1 million men pay for sex in Germany every day.  One of the classic arguments for legalizing prostitution is that recognizing and regulating the world’s oldest profession would improve the conditions of sex workers.  Instead, recent reports paint legalized prostitution in Germany largely as a failure…Despite the critics’ claims of atrocious conditions brought on by legalized prostitution in Germany, there are many who don’t want to go back to the days when the trade was cordoned off in the black market…

This is a prime example of American criminal ignorance about sex work; consult the title link for a thorough debunking.

Read Full Post »

It is reasonable to wonder if the lack of scientific research involving codependency may relate to the fact that there is a strong academic bias against studying possible negative outcomes of empathy.  -  Barbara Oakley

It was another busy, busy week, trying to get all of my work done in advance for the month of July so I don’t have to take as much time while my husband’s home; I’ll also be away for a total of nine days to attend the Desiree Alliance convention in Las Vegas (five days plus two travel days each way).  And on top of that, I’m working on a scholarly paper for the Albany Law Review; it’s about five to ten times the length of a normal column and much more serious in tone, and everything has to be carefully attributed, so it’s much slower going.  However, I’m almost halfway done with the first draft and hope to get it to the editors on July 2nd.  Once it’s published in the autumn, I hope to make a PDF available so y’all can see what I sound like when I’m actually trying to sound as though my education wasn’t entirely wasted.  Anyhow, Radley Balko squeaked out everyone else, providing the three links before the first video (which was itself contributed by Kevin Wilson, along with “digital lineup”); those between the two videos came from Grace (“just wrong”), Walter Olson (“altruism”), Mike Siegel (“concrete”), Luscious Lani (“Scooby-Doo”), Emil Kirkegaard (“New Zealand”), and Scott Greenfield (“registry”).

From the Archives

Read Full Post »

The idea that [no coerced prostitutes] ever indicate their plight to any of the hundreds of thousands of men who make up their clientele, or that if they do none of those men reports it to police, is simply fantastical.  No one with any experience of real live human beings could possibly believe it.  -  Tim Worstall

Think of the Children!

…For the past two decades, parents who’ve lost children in horrible ways have tried to memorialize them in law…But…support for… “apostrophe laws”…is waning…recession…made officials…hesitant to increase costs…from…more prisoners and longer sentences…the drop in the crime rate…made tougher laws…less politically compelling…[and] the lower-hanging fruit has been picked…

Rebecca Williams
Lack of Evidence

A [West Australian] businesswoman claims…police have stopped her repeatedly…in the crackdown on street prostitution.  Rebecca Williams says…officers…[demanded] to know what she was doing and [checked] her identification…”  Of course she’s wholly clueless, protesting that she doesn’t “look like a prostitute”.

Must…resist…snark…

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

A [Las Vegas] police officer is facing five counts of soliciting…while he was investigating crimes of prostitution…Investigators followed [Peter] Connell for months and witnessed him…visiting the apartment of Mary Anne Moore, who had previous prostitution arrests…

Somehow, I Doubt He Thought This Through

A man…dialed 999 to complain about a prostitute’s looks…[saying] he “wished to report her for breaching the Sale of Goods Act”…Officers…sent…a letter warning him about wasting police time…

The Enlightenment Police

A young Muslim woman miscarried after being attacked by two Parisian champions of women’s rights:  “first [they] tried taking her headscarf off and later cut off her hair…After she screamed out that she was pregnant, one of the attackers started kicking her in the stomach…[shouting] that the veil was no longer acceptable in France…Lorna Dueck

The Crumbling Dam

This article entitled “Faith Groups Oppose Legal Prostitution Because They Care About Women’s Lives” is just the usual collection of sin-and-degradation prohibitionist control freak myths; the comment thread, however, is a thing of beauty.

Mind Reading (November Updates)

Why do so many politicians think sex overrides the Constitution?

Pierce County [Washington] might make it illegal for suspected prostitutes and their customers to attempt to detect undercover officers…by “exposing oneself or asking another to do so; by asking to be touched sexually; or by requesting to touch or touching another sexually”…

Where Are the Protests?

Notice what words we aren’t seeing here:

Agents from the Department of Homeland Security raided [several] 7-Eleven shops in New York and Virginia…Nine store owners and managers have been arrested on charges of harboring and hiring undocumented immigrants…the raids are a part of an investigation into human smuggling, identity theft and money laundering…authorities described the alleged situation as a “modern day plantation system“…

Not To Be Taken Internally

Suyima Torres…[died 10 hours after receiving buttocks injections] at…Cuerpos Health and Aesthetics on April 11…she…was rushed to the hospital…by the center’s owner, Ruth Planas…the Venezuelan doctor who performed the surgery…is thought to have fled the country…Torres died only 16 days after…20-year-old Dailen Garcia, received butt implants from the same facility…[and] was hospitalized …for vision problems and bleeding lungs…Meet the Fokkens

Presents, Presents, Presents!

Reader George sent me a copy of Meet the Fokkens and a gift card, with the suggestion I use it to buy the movie Diamond Men (which I did).  Thank you so much, George!

Above the Law

Texas jailers…”repeatedly raped and humiliated female inmates”…[who've now] sued Live Oak County and its…jailers Vincent Aguilar, Israel Charles Jr. and Jaime E. Smith…All three…were arrested in August 2010 and charged with sexual assault…Smith and Aguilar are in…prison…”these guards would withhold food and water, engage in physical abuse, restrict privileges and verbally and emotionally abuse the women – even threaten to kill them in order to compel their compliance”…

The Widening Gyre

In which we learn that nail parlors are havens of “sex trafficking”:

…the advocacy group ECPAT estimates 100,000 minors are forced into prostitution or pornography each year — but no one knows how vast the problem is because it’s under reported and underground, said Kathy Maitland of the Michigan Abolitionist project…”It’s the second-largest-growing activity in our country”…She says Michigan is especially vulnerable because of a large agricultural industry…and its location along an international border…Lt. Wendy Reyes…said…”If we had more manpower we…could get online…and find these victims”…trafficking is often linked to online and street prostitution, ethnic restaurants, masseuse businesses, pornography and nail salons…iEmpathize founder Brad Riley…called…the proliferation of pornography…a “super fuel” that promotes trafficking…

Beside the usual rampant illogic, mathematical illiteracy, blatant racism and “King of the Hill” foolishness, you’ve got to love Wendy’s claim that cops need to web surf all day to “find victims”.

The More the Better (TW3 #27)

French footballers Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema go on trial in Paris…accused of paying…Zahia Dehar…for sex in 2008 and 2009…Algerian-born Dehar, now 21, has since become designer Karl Lagerfeld’s muse and protégée, launching her own lingerie line…State prosecutors have requested that the case be dropped, however, arguing the footballers did not know Dehar was a minor…

Follow Your Bliss (TW3 #44)

A…top [TSA] officer…[named Miguel Quinones] was arrested on child pornography charges after items were seized from his locker at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport…”  As explained in the referenced column, the TSA is well-known for attracting pedophiles.

Q & A (TW3 #134)

P411 lilyTwenty-two female escorts were arrested last week during a two-day sting in…Denver…The women were advertising on two websites — DenverBackPage.com and Preferred411.com…” Despite the involvement of the FBI’s lugubriously-named “Innocence Lost” project, note that verified professional adult escorts were targeted via P411; these cops had no illusions they might find “trafficked children”.  In fact, the sting was enabled by one creating a fake profile and then arranging several “coffee dates” with escorts and asking for “OKs”, which the escorts gave in violation of P411 rules; their accounts were suspended for their negligence in enabling predatory monsters to hurt other sex workers.  Ladies, ONLY give OKs to men you actually see behind closed doors; how can you possibly know whether a man is dangerous if you’ve only seen him in public?

Profound Ignorance (TW3 #310)

A scathing demolition of the horrendous “study” which claimed legalized prostitution increases “sex trafficking”, and also of the “sheer implausibility of the claims that 30% of all prostitutes are trafficked…”:

The…scare campaign…over “sex trafficking”…becomes a complete and total mess…because [campaigners confuse]…the transport of unwilling people…into forced prostitution…and…the illegal movement of willing people across borders to enter the sex trade…people from poorer countries…wish to…move…to richer countries.  And such is the system of immigration laws that many of them will be unable to do this legally…

Cathy Reisenwitz also had a few things to say:

The Guardian recently quoted UK solicitor general Oliver Heald QC describing “victims” of trafficking as people who pay a lot of money to escape their home countries and then are forced to pay it back…That’s not slavery, it’s indentured servitude, and it accounts for two-thirds of immigrants to America from the British Isles in the 17th century.  Anti-prostitution and anti-immigration campaigners have  hijacked the term “human trafficking” to describe any instance of a person crossing a border to do sex work…It requires buying into the rather insulting idea that women aren’t capable of choosing to leave their homes and do sex work abroad…once you establish that women aren’t capable of making their own choices, you can justify taking all kinds of rights and liberties away from them…

The End of the Beginning

Corrections officials are refusing to remove a sex offender’s name from the state’s public database, defying [the] order…[of] The Court of Appeals [which] ruled…that [Robert Merle Haines Jr.] should not be named on the…registry because [it] did not exist at the time of his crime and registration would be a form of retroactive punishment, which the Maryland Constitution doesn’t allow.  Corrections officials say federal…requirements prevent them from complying with the ruling…

Meanwhile, in Minnesota:

…Minnesota’s Sex Offender…Task Force…[is] redesigning the…program…each of the state’s 687 committed sex offenders [costs]…about $120,000 a year…with…50 more…each year…The task force came into existence as part of a lawsuit filed by the committed sex offenders, who argue the…program is unconstitutional because…no one is actually treated and released, thereby creating an indefinite incarceration system even after the offenders have served their criminal [sentences]…

Another Small Victory (TW3 #317)

As expected, the “anti-prostitution pledge” was struck down in the SCOTUS.  This is not actually a victory for sex worker rights in the big picture; it was decided wholly on first-amendment grounds and the “allies” were at best ones of convenience.  If you’d like to read more about the details and implications, I recommend Melissa Gira Grant, Popehat and Mike Siegel.

"The Ionian Dance" by Sir Edward John Poynter (1895) was recently rediscovered after being "lost" since 1915.  It depicts a scene from ancient Pompeii.

“The Ionian Dance” by Sir Edward John Poynter (1895) was recently rediscovered after being “lost” since 1915. It depicts a scene from ancient Pompeii.

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (TW3 #318)

If anyone really believes this is anything but an attempt to save face, I have some lovely beachfront property for sale:

For the first time, the State Department on Wednesday declared China and Russia among the worst offending countries…a designation that will lead to sanctions against both…the…2013 report on Trafficking in Persons (TIP)…officially downgraded China, Russia, and Uzbekistan to the lowest possible rating…along with Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Sudan, and Zimbabwe…

What If They Threw a Party and Nobody Came? (TW3 #321)

The prevalence of dangerous strains of the human papillomavirus…has dropped by half among teenage girls in recent years, a striking measure of success for a vaccine…that was introduced only in 2006…The magnitude of the decline…surprised…experts because only about a third of teenage girls in the United States have [received]…the full course of three doses.  By comparison, vaccination rates in…Denmark…Britain [and]…Rwanda…[have] reached 80 percent…

Deafening Silence

When this happens in India, it’s a media circus; in Sweden…{cricket sounds}:  “Six teenage boys aged 15 to 17 were convicted on Friday after raping a 15-year-old girl in…Stockholm…The case was the third…gang rape to take place in the Stockholm area…this year…

The Mills of the Gods

Despite the annoying visuals and a few clumsy phrases in the first third, this is an excellent argument against prohibition of sex work.

Where are the Victims? (TW3 #322)

A novel attempt to use New York State’s sex trafficking law…ended with mixed results…as the men were convicted…of promoting prostitution and of money laundering, but…acquitted of…sex trafficking…The law defines trafficking based on the methods the pimps use to control the prostitutes, rather than whether the prostitutes view themselves as victims…prosecutors…presented an expert to testify that women working as prostitutes are often not aware that they are victims.  But three of the women themselves  testified for the defense…and…were upset…at the…[suggestion] they were not to be believed…

Consider for a moment the incredibly dangerous precedent a prosecution victory would have set; state “experts” would be allowed to define any person as a victim in any crime regardless of that person’s viewpoint.

Zurvivor

The owner of a Lawrence [Massachusetts] massage parlor coerced employees to perform sex acts on…customers, some of whom were videotaped without the clients’ knowledge…Authorities said Barron used the videotapes to blackmail employees to keep working for her…”  Dear ethically-challenged sex business owners:  Stop videotaping clients, you moron.  See, there’s this thing called “evidence”…

Pimping the Pimp

More egregious use of “pimp” mythology to justify Nevada’s draconian “sex trafficking” law:

Because of their age, they will have difficulty working inside most [hotels].  For most, that means hitting the streets under the eye of a pimp and more experienced prostitutes.  And the more they must rely on the pimp, the more difficult it is to pry them from his clutches…So when Assembly Bill 67 surfaced…earlier this year, the police welcomed it as a way to send a message to pimps that there would be a higher price to pay for running young girls…

Once again:  teens don’t turn to sex work because a “pimp” abducts them from their loving families, and 84% of them have never as much as met one.

Read Full Post »

Informally known as “mooning,” exposing one’s buttocks is a practice often intended as a sign of defiance or disrespect.  -  Will Greenlee

Another quiet week, and I’m disappointed there weren’t even any memorable April Fool pranks except for this one from REI discovered by my husband.  That is, of course, unless you count has-been comedian Jim Carrey making an April Fool of himself over gun control a few days early; today’s first video mocks the fact that opposing vaccination (as Carrey does) probably kills far more people than guns do.  The second video continues our Star Trek theme of the past few weeks, and was provided by Grace; everything above the first video was contributed by Radley Balko, and those between the two by Jolene Parton,  PopehatLenore Skenazy (two items), Jesse WalkerAmy Alkon and Aspasia (in that order).

From the Archives

Read Full Post »

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

R.I.P. Harry Reems

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

Bad Girls

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

Dr. Schrödinger and His Amazing Pussycat

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

micro-drug-dogSecret Squirrel

A new low in intra-family spying:

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

Size Matters

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

The Last Shall Be First

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

Lupercalia

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

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

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

A Broker in Pillage

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

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

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

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs

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

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

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

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

Oscillation

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

Fokkens twinsReal People (TW3 #21)

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

First They Came for the Hookers…

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

The Public Eye

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

Monkey Business

Baboons have been observed keeping dogs as pets:

Birth of a Movement (TW3 #39)

French sex workers continue to push back against increased criminalization:

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

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

King of the Hill

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

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

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

Accredited Whores

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

Like a Horse and Carriage

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

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

Still More Mentoring

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

The Joy of Juxtaposition

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

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

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

Skin To Skin

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

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

Comfort Zone

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

An Ounce of Prevention (TW3 #310)

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

Hard Numbers (TW3 #311)

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

Read Full Post »

The desire to write for publication is one which inheres strongly in every human breast…the whole intelligent public are today seeking expression…and yearning to behold their thoughts and ideals permanently crystallized in the magic medium of type.  -  H.P. Lovecraft

We’re just about back around to our normal configuration; look for next week’s news columns on Saturday and Sunday again (though not yet in the usual order), and we’ll also be back to numbering the links columns rather than naming them.  I’ll be coming home from the symposium today (see yesterday’s column) so you may not see me around at all, but I should be back to business as usual tomorrow.  Our top link contributor this week was Michael Whiteacre, who supplied everything down to the first video; that one (and “911″) was suggested by my cat.  The second video (the beginning of a documentary on the making of A Clockwork Orange) was provided by Jack Shafer, and the links between the videos were contributed by Radley Balko (“desensitize”), Antonio Lorusso (“turn signal”), Cliterati (“vomiting” and “Lovecraft”), Neil Gaiman (“Kipling”), Pee-wee Herman  (“magic crayon”), Jesse Walker (“endometriosis” and “Sherlock Holmes”), and Aspasia (“persecution”).

From the Archives

Read Full Post »

Mardi Gras 2013

Mardi Gras is the love of life. It is the harmonic convergence of our food, our music, our creativity, our eccentricity, our neighborhoods, and our joy of living.  -  Chris Rose, 1 Dead in Attic

Mardi Gras 2013 by Andrea MistrettaIt’s just not possible to explain Mardi Gras to those who have never lived in the New Orleans area, because they absolutely will not get it.  It’s not simply a matter of their never having experienced it, because mere attendance won’t put one into the proper state of mind; I daresay I could sit on a Vieux Carré balcony on Fat Tuesday, guessing whether each person who passed below was a local or a visitor, and achieve over 90% accuracy.  It’s not simply that the visitors are the ones who are either stiff as boards or wildly out of control, nor the fact that most of them don’t wear costumes (I rarely did, either), nor the fact that most of the really obnoxious and/or disgusting drunks are hundreds or thousands of kilometers from home.  All of those things are merely symptoms of the same general aura of Not-Getting-It-ness which manifests itself either in the belief that the holiday is just another excuse to get totally bombed out of one’s skull, or in that ultimate statement of Carnival Cluelessness, “How can a woman expose herself for a string of plastic beads?”  Though the festival has a Christian excuse, it is (like Christmas) wholly pagan; indeed, much of its symbolism and customs have come down through the centuries from the Roman Saturnalia and even older celebrations, and Yule gives way seamlessly to Carnival on King Day.  Carnival is also like Christmas in another important way; it is not a day but a whole season, and having the right spirit is far more important than the observation of any single ritual or combination of traditions.  A person who goes through the motions during Yuletide but doesn’t have the “Christmas spirit” will not have a true experience of the festival, and the exact same thing is true of Mardi Gras.  In a way, the spirit of Mardi Gras is the spirit of New Orleans, and anyone who is unwilling or unable to appreciate her style will never, ever be able to appreciate her signature holiday.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,407 other followers