Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Rome’

This essay first appeared in Cliterati on June 15th; I have modified it slightly to fit the format of this blog.

Emperor JulianDuring the reign of the Emperor Julian a man named Numerius, who was governor of Narbonensis (what is today southern France), was accused of embezzlement by one Delphidius; because Numerius was a high official his trial was presided over by the Emperor himself.  Numerius’ defense consisted entirely of denying his guilt, but since Delphidius had no actual evidence this was enough.  When it became clear that his attempts to trick Numerius into self-incrimination had failed, and that the charge would fail with them, Delphidius cried out, “Oh, illustrious Caesar!  If it is sufficient to deny, what hereafter will become of the guilty?”  Julian’s famous (and quotable) reply was, “If it suffices to accuse, what will become of the innocent?”

The principle was not new in 4th century Rome; it is clearly stated many times in Roman law, appeared in both Athenian and Spartan legal codes, and traces of it appear in Deuteronomy.  From Rome it passed into the Western legal tradition, and it is one of the pillars of English common law.  Indeed, every schoolchild knows that a person on trial is presumed innocent until proven guilty.  However, this is no longer true in many cases; all over the West, but especially in the United States, this powerful defense against tyranny once enjoyed by everyone from beggar to prince has been slowly eroded away in the name of expediency.  Prosecutors eager to “score” convictions take advantage of the vast arsenal of overlapping laws to charge people with so many different crimes for one supposed act that conviction on even a small fraction of them would result in decades of imprisonment; the frightened (and often completely innocent) victim nearly always agrees to some lesser charge rather than face the prospect of spending most of his life in a cage where he may be repeatedly raped, tortured  and denied even the respite of death.  Intimidating a victim into confession circumvents the need to have any evidence at all, much less enough to secure conviction in court.

In some kinds of cases, however, prosecutors don’t even need this kind of barbaric threat to induce a confession, because the presumption of innocence is either directly weakened or effectively nullified by other prosecutorial weapons; or, the accusations are handled in special kangaroo courts where the presumption does not exist; or, the accused is simply punished directly by the police without the need for a trial, evidence or anything else.  And what kind of crime, you may ask, is so heinous that it justifies undermining a venerable principle and virtually ensuring that huge numbers of people will be punished for things they did not do, or else receive punishments that are wildly disproportionate to something they did do?  Mass murder, perhaps?  High treason?  Burning down orphanages?  Stealing war widows’ pensions?  Plunging whole countries into economic depression?  No, something that in the minds of American is far worse than any of those:  pleasure-seeking, especially sexual pleasure.

In many American states, if a neighbor calls the cops because the couple next door is fighting, “the husband is arrested…no matter what the wife says…and prosecuted.  Because many wives rightly refuse to cooperate with such proceedings, the Office on Violence Against Women…authorized so-called “evidence-based” prosecutions, kangaroo courts in which…hearsay…is allowed and the accused man is denied the constitutional rights of confrontation and cross-examination.”  On university campus, a similar third-party accusation can subject a young man to a “campus tribunal” such as the one described here:

…the tribunal does pretty much whatever it wants, showing scant regard for fundamental fairness, due process of law, and the well-established rules and procedures that have evolved…for citizens’ protection…the…allegations were a barrage of vague statements, rendering any defense virtually impossible…Nor were [they] supported by any evidence other than the word of the ex-girlfriend.  The [accused]…was expressly denied his request to be represented by counsel…The many pages of written documentation…were dismissed as somehow not relevant…witnesses against him were not identified…nor was he allowed to confront or question either them or his accuser… 

The war against people who enjoy ingesting substances spawned an even viler abrogation of the presumption of innocence:  civil asset forfeiture, by which the police or a court can steal a victim’s property under the ludicrous pretense that it (the property) has committed a crime; since inanimate objects have no rights, the state can take it unless its owner can prove its innocence (a reversal of  the normal burden of proof).  From the drug war the practice expanded to the War on Whores, and in the US and UK the police now routinely rob sex workers and clients of money, vehicles and other property.  And when there’s nothing else for greedy cops to steal, there’s always a victim’s reputation:

[St. Louis, Missouri] police are reviving a push to…humiliate…those prowling the streets for prostitutes.  “Johns”…will receive postcards…admonishing them for their crime, giving reminders about…sexually transmitted diseases and listing their court dates…In addition, police say they plan to routinely provide local news media with mug shots of those charged with prostitution crimes…

Pillory stocksThese so-called “Dear John” letters are not unique to St. Louis, nor even to the United States; the practice of publicizing “mug shots” on television, the internet  or even billboards is also widely used.  The pretense used to justify this is that these shaming tactics are not punishments but merely “public records”; I’m sure people who lose their jobs or families due to these actions are comforted by the distinction.  The truth is obvious to anyone whose mind is not warped by the “law and order” sickness:  all of these practices – the extrajudicial punishments, the legally-sanctioned robbery, the kangaroo courts, the plea bargains – are just ways to get around the inconvenient necessity of actually having to prove a person has done something wrong before subjecting him to violence.  Oh, well, presumption of innocence had a good run, almost 3000 years; I suppose we should be grateful for that much.  But it sure was nice while it lasted.

Read Full Post »

History is the interpretation of the significance that the past has for us.  –  Johan Huizinga

Those of you who were paying attention in world history class may remember that the Western Roman Empire ended on September 4th, 476 AD with the accession of Flavius Odoacer as King of Italy, and that the Eastern Roman Empire was thereafter known as the Byzantine Empire.  But this is merely a convenient lie invented by historians; to the citizens of Rome, Italy, areas of Europe still dominated by either Eastern or Western Empires and foreign governments who had dealings with the Romans, 476 was very much like 474 and 475 had been, and nobody noticed much change in the years 477-493, either.  To be sure, the Empire under Odoacer was quite a different place than it had been under Augustus, but then the same could be said of the Empire under Hadrian, Constantine, Honorius or Justinian.  The laws, structures and political realities had changed dramatically (and not for the better) since the end of the Republic, yet even when the vast territory was divided in two (temporarily, then later permanently) it was still called the Roman Empire, and its people still thought of their government as continuous with what had gone before.  The term “Byzantine Empire” for the eastern half is a total fiction; it was still referred to both officially and in popular use as the Roman Empire (even after its territory had shrunk to only part of the area of modern Turkey) until Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453.  And even then, Germanic kings who had been granted the title of Roman Emperor by Papal edict continued to use it until the last of them, Francis II, abdicated the title to Napoleon in 1806.

By the 14th century it would have been obvious to all but the dullest historians that neither the German nor the Greek pretenders to the title of “Roman Empire” were remotely the same as the original entity which had borne that name, and unconnected to it by anything other than a long and winding chain of historical events.  But it would not have been so obvious to an historian of the 10th century, and one of the 6th would probably have violently disputed the claim (at least in the case of the Eastern Empire).  Modern scholars looking at the events from over a millennium later decided that after 476, things began to change so dramatically and so quickly that a different name needed to be applied to the political entities existing after that date so as to make the difference clearer for purposes of study and discussion.  But the people living at that time had no such historical perspective; few of them would have agreed that the differences between Odoacer’s reign and that of Julius Nepos were any more meaningful than those between the reigns of Constantine and Constantius, and probably less significant than the difference between the reigns of Diocletian and Aurelian.  They were emotionally invested in the name “Roman”, and the changes in both the Empire and its people had been so gradual that only by viewing the events from a period completely removed from them could a meaningful line be drawn between “Roman” and “Post-Roman”.

Rome is an especially prominent and striking example, but by no means the only one; except in cases where a culture is completely overrun by wholly alien invaders (as in the case of the European conquest of the Americas), most lines drawn between historical periods and most names given them by historians are rather arbitrary and only make sense to people of later eras.  Those living at the time see no seismic shift, no change of identity; the English still considered themselves English after the Norman Conquest, and the lives of peasants were largely the same in 1067 as they had been in 1065…but historians regard the unified England of the late 11th century as a different thing from the Anglo-Saxon realm of a generation before, and not only because the rulers were speaking a different language.

Declaration of IndependenceExactly two months short of exactly 1300 years after what we now think of as the end of the Roman Empire, a group of colonies belonging to a country which had itself once been a Roman province declared themselves independent of their parent nation.  And though colonies, provinces and other dependent entities had done this sort of thing many times before, what made this one unique in world history was that the revolutionaries were not merely the followers of a rival monarch determined to wrest the territory from its legal ruler by military force; instead, they were philosophically-inclined sons of the Enlightenment who argued that human beings had certain unalienable rights which no ruler, no matter what his titles or antecedents, had the right to abrogate.  This was such a new idea that historians recognized it as a dividing line as soon as the British government did, five years later…but for the average working man, not much really changed, and for the slaves absolutely nothing did.  Even most of the laws of the states and cities of the new country were the same laws they had before the revolution…laws based on traditions dating back to the time when almost no educated person would have agreed that the Roman Empire was a thing of the past.

But less than a hundred years later, that began to change; the United States now bears more resemblance to the bloated, top-heavy, militaristic, moribund Roman state inherited by Odoacer than the lean, minimal government conceived of by the Founders.  Yet for now, the people of the US are still so emotionally invested in the label “American” and so blindly devoted to worship-words like “freedom” that they are unable to recognize that we’ve already crossed the line future historians will draw between the American Republic and the American Empire.  When did we pass from one to the other?  Alas, I’m in the same forest as you are; only the perspective of time will allow us to determine that.  Perhaps they’ll draw it at the end of the Cold War; perhaps even earlier, at the end of World War II.  Maybe they’ll make it simple for student memorization by setting it at the beginning of the 21st century.  But one way or another, it is insulting to the Founders’ memory to associate any patriotic feelings you have for the memory of the nation they created with the repressive fascist police state that now occupies its territory; the 4th of July is now a memorial rather than a celebration, and the Spirit of ‘76 is nothing but a ghost.

Read Full Post »

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 »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 5,529 other followers