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Posts Tagged ‘stereotypes’

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

Savaging

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

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

Parable

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

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

Saving Them From Themselves 

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

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

Saint Death Santa Muerte of Nueva Laredo

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

Finding What Isn’t There

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

Wise Investment (TW3 #335)

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

Innocence Never Had

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

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

Opting Out (TW3 #401)

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

Hall of Shame (TW3 #406) Dennis Hof

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

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

Drawing Lines

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

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

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

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

Marching Up Their Own Arses (TW3 #414)

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

The Mote and the Beam (TW3 #419)

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

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

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

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #422)

France avoids the Swedish rot for now:

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

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

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

If Men Were Angels

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

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (TW3 #426)

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

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

Bread and Circuses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Christina Parreira has done several different kinds of sex work, from stripping to camming to porn; she’s also an activist and is currently working on her PhD in sociology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.  When she started working at a Nevada brothel I asked if she’d write about her impressions for me; since most of the sex workers who post frequently here dislike brothel work, I thought it important to present a different view.

As someone who has worked in different sectors of the sex industry for years, I have met and befriended many sex workers in various parts of the industry, both legal and illegal.  But until January, I had never worked in a brothel, and like many sex workers only knew the stereotypes.  Although some sex worker publications have written about the brothels, they are missing the one thing that should be essential to any article about the experiences of a marginalized group: the voice of the workers.  I have only worked in one brothel for four 7-12 day stays, so I do not profess to be an expert;favoritesign that being said, I am happy to share some of my observations about brothel life, and I thank Maggie for giving me a platform to do so!

I will NEVER forget my first day moving into the brothel!  I was absolutely terrified and had no idea what to expect in terms of income, relations with other workers, and client interactions.  I was no stranger to sex work, but had never been required to live on premises.  The fear of confinement was anxiety-provoking, and having to obtain a sheriff’s card to legally work as a prostitute was no picnic either.  Despite the hassles of regulation, I pushed my reservations aside and instead focused on my aspirations to conduct brothel research as a worker.

First, a lengthy disclaimer:  I am not advocating brothel work, nor saying it is any better or worse than other types of sex work.  I cannot and will not speak for others, but I can certainly speak for myself.  Despite the flack that I caught from activists who labeled me as a “traitor” for working in the legal system, I enjoy working in the brothel.  I know myself well enough to know that I am not cut out for independent work:  the advertising, the screening, the (unfortunate) fear of arrest.  The brothel provides the comfort of structure and safety without the worries that accompany work in a criminalized system.  I believe that decriminalization (or rather, full legalization, the more accurate way to describe it) is the ONLY acceptable answer to the problems created and perpetuated by criminalization; however, I would still choose to work in a brothel rather than independently given the choice, a choice that ALL workers should have.  No one should be confined to working in a legal system that requires licensing and testing regulations, just as no one should be confined to working independently if there are other options available.  No one should be shamed for their decision to participate in the legal brothel system, regardless of whether or not anyone else believes that the brothel system is exploitative.  That’s the funny thing about rights; they should apply to everyone regardless of personal preference.  The whorearchy is still alive and well, but more on that later.

Life in the brothel is dictated by sound; something as simple as a doorbell could cause a spring to action or a sigh of relief.  The entrance is locked, just as any door to a home would be locked.  The manager on duty is referred to as “House Mom” by workers, which I believe helps to add to the “homey” feel of the brothel.  First and foremost it is a business, but it is also a home that houses sex workers of all ages, ethnicities, body types, and backgrounds.  The feminist assertions that brothels only employ “hegemonically beautiful” young, thin women is simply not true.  I will repeat:  the radical feminist assertion that all brothel workers are tall/thin/large breasted/blonde/young/blah blah blah is simply not true; I see women of all shapes, sizes, races, ethnicities, and ages.

bedroom2The majority of my time in the brothel is spent in bed writing, chatting with other workers in the parlor, and relaxing in the outdoor hot tub.  Sometimes I work out on the pole in the parlor or treat myself to a trip to the tanning bed.  There are no shifts, and workers are encouraged to spend time interacting with clients on the message boards during slow days.  I show up to line-up as frequently as I can, depending on my state of mind and how many clients I have seen (or turned down) that day.  As an independent contractor, I set my own prices.  These vary by amount of time, activity, and of course on the client’s disposition (yes, the “asshole tax” does exist!)  Negotiations between workers and clients take place in the worker’s bedroom behind a closed door – the only place where it is legal to discuss the exchange of money for sexual services.  Once a service is agreed upon, the house mom takes care of payment and keeps track of time.  After that, the client and worker disappear into her room until the house mom gently knocks on her door to let them both know that time is almost up.  Sometimes I go days without booking a single client, and turn many away (YES, we are allowed to turn down clients!)  Some days are quite profitable, but I have never seen more than three clients in one day.  Note that I use the word “client” rather than “man”; yes, women DO come to the brothel and pay for sexual services from other women.  Is it the majority?  Is this representative of all brothel patrons?  No, but does it need to be?

So, what about the line-up?  It all begins with the doorbell; one ring means a client, and two rings means a worker, friend, partner, or anyone else who knows better than to ring the bell once.  One ring means the potential for money!  House Mom answers the door, welcomes the visitors and asks if they would like a line-up.  Some visitors are tourists who want a tour and a free ogle, and thankfully others are patrons who are interested in our services.  At this point, we hear yet another bell; one that calls us to the parlor to line up for our visitors.  Unlike some other establishments, this brothel does not require workers to come to line-up, but to miss line-up could mean missing out on income.  Regardless, this is the worker’s choice, and thank goodness for that!  Some women choose to “sleep pretty” (usually in make-up and sexy nightwear) in order to always be ready for the bell, but I need my sleep.  Brothel workers have much more autonomy than most realize, but again, this really depends on the brothel; I can only speak for the uniquely decorated pink house that sits alone in the middle of the desert.

As with all forms of employment, there are pros and cons to working in the brothel, and one of the major cons is the stigma…from other sex workers,  mostly independent escorts who accuse me of pushing a legalization agenda by conducting academic research while working in the brothel.  The irony is that these are the very same people who spend their lives advocating for their rights to work in the ways that they deem appropriate, the same people whom I’ve respected for years.  If you believe that working legally offers many more protections than working in an “unregulated” system, then I suggest you remove your blinders; if, on the other hand, you believe that working independently makes you more of a target (or more of a “real activist”) than those who choose to work in the legal system, you’re just as misguided.

Some days the hypocrisy seems unbearable.  However, the whorearchy extends far beyond prostitution; whores in various sectors of the industry think that they are superior to one another.  Back in December, a porn performer had the audacity to publicly blame the “unregulated US escorting industry” for the few porn performers who tested HIV positive.  Her logic (or lack thereof) is problematic for several reasons.  First, ANY sex off camera presents a risk, whether the sex be with clients, lovers, life partners, or pool boys.  Second, anyone who has her own escort ad online should probably refrain from casting the first stone, but I will leave it at that.

I spoke to Belle Knox, Duke University student who was thrown into the spotlight after being outed as a porn performer, about her thoughts on whorearchy.  After being outed, Knox was taunted by classmates and perhaps more surprisingly by her own peers in the porn industry.  When I asked about her experiences with stigma within her own industry and from other sex workers, Knox said this:

I have been called a hoe by a stripper; others have sneered at me and taunted me by saying some variant of “at least I don’t suck dick for a living”.  Within my own industry, I have been marginalized for my participation in a rough sex scene early in my career.  In a world where sex workers face discrimination, stigma, and bigotry ubiquitously, it deeply saddens me that I cannot find solace among the very men and women who I work alongside.

It saddens me too; as Dr. Barb Brents pointed out in “Why Decriminalizing Sex Work is Good for All Women”, whore stigma affects ALL of us.  First, they came for the whores…  pooltable

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Companies will not change ‘til they learn that discriminating against sex workers gets them more flak than providing services to sex workers.  -  Molly Crabapple

I’ve been writing for several years now about the slow turn of public opinion in sex workers’ favor.  Despite the efforts of prohibitionists both in and out of governments to depict us as pathetic, broken victims or evil, calculating criminals (when we’re not depicted as both simultaneously), our voices are increasingly being heard and we are winning ally after ally.  Health organizations, human rights organizations, UN officials, academics and even some feminists and journalists are increasingly recognizing that the prohibition of consensual sex is a dangerous abomination that helps nobody but the police state.

buried aliveThis terrifies the prohibitionists, whose entire agenda depends upon keeping sex workers isolated and friendless and the average person misinformed about our lives and work; accordingly, they’ve embarked upon a campaign to bury sex workers alive, to return us to a state of voicelessness so they can again pretend to speak for us while working against us.  As Charlotte Shane explains at length in a recent essay, prohibitionists are now harping on how sex work is “hidden” while simultaneously recognizing that clients have no trouble finding us.  In a pathetic, yet dangerous attempt to make their fantasy of “invisible, voiceless” sex workers trapped in a “dark underworld” true, they continuously attack the online advertising which makes us anything but “invisible”, pretend that the many sex workers who speak online are “privileged” and “unrepresentative”, and ridiculously brand all of our allies from the UN to Human Rights Watch to academics who study the sex industry as “pimps”.

Though the erasure of many millions of people is obviously impossible, that never stops governments from trying (usually by turning their countries into police states and increasing levels of violence to near-genocidal proportions).  I’m happy to report, however, that the attempts are beginning to attract such bad publicity that at least a few of them are starting to fail.  On Sunday I discussed the backlash against a police department that thought it would be hip and fun to “live tweet” their destruction of peaceful citizens’ lives via a prostitution sting.  Operation Choke Point has attracted a lot more opposition than the “authorities” would have liked, and now another supposedly-private company’s vile behavior (almost certainly resulting from or at least inspired by Choke Point tactics) has resulted in another public relations nightmare for the perpetrators.  Stephen Elliott has a good summary on The Rumpus:

Eden Alexander…had a nearly fatal reaction to a commonly prescribed prescription drug and, because she’s a sex worker, it was assumed to be related to drug use…because she wasn’t treated she developed a staph infection.  A fundraiser was started for her on GiveForward, a Kickstarter like service [which] helps people seek funding for medical bills.  GiveForward processes payments through WePay…which is like Paypal.  A webcache copy of the fundraising page is here…She had raised over $1,000…[when] she got a note from WePay saying her fundraiser had been cancelled because the service cannot be used in connection with pornographic items…

Yes, they classed a human being (or her medical bills) as a “pornographic item” because she happens to be a cam girl; keep in mind this is a company originally started by two guys trying to raise money for a bachelor party, including “bottle service at a club” (i.e. strippers), a company which has welcomed everyone from revenge porn scammers to abortion prohibitionists.  But somehow, a sick woman who retweeted some things an eavesdropping bluenose didn’t like was beyond the pale?  Yeah, I smell the government’s nasty hand in this.

Eden Alexander's message from WePayFortunately for Eden, Molly Crabapple and other allies with loud social media voices started calling attention to her plight within hours after WePay kicked her in the face last Saturday morning (May 17th); the Rumpus article appeared early that afternoon, and was followed by a number of others on various blogs and news sources.  Even the Daily Mail picked it up, though in typical Mail fashion the story concentrated on the tragedy porn of a dying woman’s desperate and hysterical tweets rather than the unforgivably-callous action which precipitated them.  Soon WePay realized it had made a serious error in assuming “nobody will care what we do to a filthy whore anyway”, and issued a mealy-mouthed apology citing unspecified “rules” for the evil, stupid decision.  But whatever those mysterious “rules” are, they apparently don’t apply to another funding platform named Crowdtilt, whose founder reached out to Eden’s friends and invited them to start a new fundraiser on his site; they did, and the funding goal was exceeded within hours thanks to all the publicity  (as of this writing, more than 8x the amount WePay tried to deny her).

Ironically, the prohibitionists’ attempts to render sex workers invisible and mute, to bury us alive in unmarked graves and even erase us from history, are beginning to backfire on them.  Not so long ago, prostitution “stings” came and went with little media attention and many businesses discriminated against known sex workers without a peep from anyone outside the sex work community.  But once the whore-haters’ hubris grew so great they began to actually believe in their own mad sexual fantasy of “abolishing” us from all existence – past, present and future – the cacophony of violence and lies they have raised could not help but attract the attention of good people who previously hadn’t thought much about whores, and whose attention we might never have been able to attract on our own.  Eden Alexander’s fundraiser was far more successful than it would’ve otherwise been; Prince George’s County’s “sting” failed utterly instead of catching the usual modest harvest of victims.  Pay attention, prohibitionists:  we’ve lived in this world since long before anyone conceived of the idea of controlling others via organized violence, and we’ll be here long after that idea is consigned to the historical rubbish-heap along with human sacrifice, chattel slavery and other such atrocities.  And all your attempts to make us disappear only succeed in increasing our visibility.

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There is almost nothing more convincing than a live human being who takes the stand, points a finger at the defendant, and says “That’s the one!”  -  Elizabeth Loftus

AGLR coverAfter I participated in the Albany Law School Symposium in February of last year, the organizers asked if I’d like to submit a research paper for inclusion in the school’s journal; the invitation was both enticing and intimidating.  On the one hand, it would allow me to present my arguments in a form and medium through which they would both reach a professional audience that might otherwise be denied me, and give those arguments a certain gravitas denied to the contents of a “mere” blog.  On the other hand, I had not written a scholarly paper in twenty years, and even then not for a journal; furthermore, I was unfamiliar with what might constitute an acceptable style for a law journal, and also with the citation format.  I was assured that they would be happy to hold my hand if necessary on the matter of style, and that the editors checked all citations and put them into proper format.

So I accepted the invitation, and though the deadline wasn’t until September I worked on it through last June and submitted it on July 2nd so as to give the editors plenty of time for all the revision I was sure it would need.  To my great pleasure it needed very little; the editor wanted to double-check some citations, asked for a couple of alternate sources and requested that clarifying text be included in a few passages.  Finally, the journal was published in March and I received a box of copies last week.  I scanned it into a PDF and uploaded it, and today I’d like to formally present “Mind-Witness Testimony:  The Unreliability of First-Person Accounts in Sex Trafficking Discourse” (Albany Government Law Review, volume 7).  It’s much longer (34 pages), much more formal and much more scholarly than my usual writing, but I don’t think y’all will find it too dry and the points it makes are, in my opinion, very important.  Here’s the concluding paragraph of the introduction:

…While some fraction of the firsthand accounts, related by those who represent themselves as victims of “sex trafficking”, are almost certainly true as related (subject to the usual distortion of time), and another probably larger fraction have been altered by the process of stereotypical conformation described [herein], it is likely that the majority of reported narratives are not factually correct in any way, however real they may seem to the self-identified victim.  I realize this is an extremely bold and controversial claim; however, in this paper I will present three types of evidence to support it:  first, that “sex trafficking” is neither as common as the public has been led to believe, nor as consistently and stereotypically exploitative; second, that there is extremely strong evidence for a mechanism for the formation of absolutely false memories, and that the narratives reported by self- identified “trafficking victims” bear a striking resemblance to past examples that experts and the legal system alike now agree are undoubtedly false; and third, that there are strong sociological, political, and economic reasons for certain parties to encourage the development, dissemination, and public acceptance of these narratives.

It’s a topic I’ve covered in this blog before, but it’s examined in much greater depth in the paper; you may also appreciate the historical overview in the first section. Oh, and one more thing:  I reduced the scans by 40% to keep the PDF down to a manageable size, so you’ll need to expand the display to read it properly.  Class dismissed, and I promise not to give you a pop quiz. students taking test

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Making pimps the centre of things justifies more money to catch/punish them & keep the status quo where women are collateral damage in a war.  -  Laura Agustín

Es dimonióI’m sure you saw all the hype and ballyhoo about a “landmark” government study of pimp bragging the sex industry,  and if you’ve read my columns about the relative rarity and non-centrality of pimps, the so-called “facts” this report “found” must strike you as the farthest thing from.  As I wrote in my recent Washington Post article,

The researchers made bold statements about the “U.S. sex economy” based on interviews with law enforcement personnel, 73 men convicted as “pimps,” and only 36 incarcerated street workers.  As the sex worker activist Melissa Gira Grant observed, the average sex worker activist follows more sex workers on Twitter than these researchers managed to find for a supposedly “landmark” study.  Furthermore, the report’s bias is clear from the skewed proportion of its interviewees:  Street workers represent less than 15 percent of the trade, but were 100 percent of the sex workers interviewed for the study.  Moreover, fewer than half of street workers have pimps, and about half of the pimps are actually the employees of the women they manage, not the other way around.  Yet the researchers interviewed twice as many pimps as sex workers, thus inflating their perceived importance remarkably…

Dr. Laura Agustín had much more to say about the report than that, both on Twitter and in her blog.  But I’m not going to write more about how awful this report is; rather, I’m going to discuss the motive behind it.  Agustín’s statement in my epigram sums it up nicely, but more detail will provide a better picture.  The story starts in September of 2008 with the publication of “The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in New York City”, AKA the John Jay study, which was funded by the US Department of Justice:

[Meredith] Dank and [Ric] Curtis…interview[ed]…249 underage prostitutes…and…thoroughly obliterated the long-held core assumptions about underage prostitution:

• Nearly half the kids — about 45 percent — were boys.
• Only 10 percent were involved with a “market facilitator” (e.g., a pimp).
• About 45 percent got into the “business” through friends.
• More than 90 percent were U.S.- born (56 percent were New York City natives).
• On average, they started hooking at age 15…
• Nearly all of the youths — 95 percent — said they exchanged sex for money because it was the surest way to support themselves.

Jenny HaniverIn other words, the typical [underage sex worker]…is not a tween girl, has not been sold into sexual slavery, and is not held captive by a pimp.  Nearly all the boys and girls involved in the city’s sex trade are going it alone.  [Curtis and Dank] were…completely unprepared for the way law-enforcement officials and child-advocacy groups reacted… “I remember going to a meeting in Manhattan where they had a lot of prosecutors there whose job was to prosecute pimps,” Curtis recalls.  ”They were sort of complaining…that their offices were very well staffed but their workload was — not very daunting, let’s say.  They had a couple cases, and at every meeting you go to, they’d pull out the cherry-picked case of this pimp they had busted, and they’d tell the same story at every meeting.  They too were bothered by the fact that they couldn’t find any pimps, any girls.  So I come along and say, ‘I found 300 kids’ — they’re all perky — but then I say, ‘I’m sorry, but only 10 percent had pimps.’  It was like a fart in church.  Because basically I was saying their office was a waste of time and money.”

As Curtis explained, law enforcement “authorities” were very unhappy with the results of his study, which is why they have been buried (you won’t find them on any official website dealing with the subject of prostitution).  As Maier’s Law states, “If the facts do not conform to the theory, they must be disposed of”; the DoJ therefore immediately ditched Curtis in favor of his younger, hungrier and less-principled assistant Dank, who was obviously instructed to do another study which would find what the DoJ wanted found - that pimps run the whole show - so as to shore up “sex trafficking” mythology and justify the vast expenditures and rampant civil liberties violations of the War on Whores.  Since interviewing real sex workers would merely find the truth again, they were largely avoided except for an easily-manipulated handful in prison.  Since the John Jay study couldn’t find any pimps in the actual environment where sex work takes place, Dank instead just interviewed people the “authorities” had already decided were pimps.  And since interviewees might still tell some truth despite incentives to the contrary, the fantasies of cops and prosecutors were included to balance that.

Fiji mermaidTo ensure that the “researchers” stayed on-message, the report’s “recommendations” must have been dictated in advance:  they include “Cross-train drug, sex, and weapons trade investigators to better understand circuits and overlaps” (i.e. more money to cops); “Continue using federal and local partnerships to disrupt travel circuits and identify pimps” (i.e. justify illegal use of federal funds and manpower to enforce local prostitution laws); “Offer law enforcement trainings for both victim and offender interview techniques, including identifying signs of psychological manipulation” (i.e. teach cops to psychologically manipulate arrestees); “Impose more fines for ad host websites” (i.e. pressure the courts into giving politicians the power to censor the internet); and so on.  The result?  A Jenny Haniver, a methodological monstrosity cut and stitched and distorted to provide bogus “evidence” for a creature that exists only in the minds of prohibitionists:  a sex industry dominated by “pimps” and “trafficking gangs”.  When charlatans produce objects they claim to be mummified mermaids, chupacabra carcasses and yeti scalps, it’s the duty of skeptics to expose the scam.  And when the con artist is the government, and the goal destroying people’s lives rather than merely separating them from a few bucks, that duty is even more crucial.

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I and others have often written about the origin of “sex trafficking” mythology in evangelical Christian theology, and many of the largest “anti-trafficking” NGOs have strong ties to anti-abortion and anti-gay groups.  Shared Hope International is one of those organizations, and its founder Linda Smith has been involved in anti-sex causes for three decades.  Since they are based in Washington state I asked Portland, Oregon-based activist Carol Fenton to give us a short introduction to Smith and Shared Hope…

Linda SmithLinda Smith boldly proclaims that the same beliefs that guide her anti-abortion and anti-gay politics are the same values that pilot her domestic minor sex trafficking efforts.  “I started as a pro-life activist,” she says; “The children I serve today are children of God, labeled, stripped of justice, denied life in many cases…[I use] many of the same arguments that I used fighting for the unborn for many years.”  Smith gained notoriety for her staunchly conservative views from the very beginning of her political career in Washington State in 1983, and she landed in the House of Representatives with support from the Christian Coalition and “Linda’s Army”, a grassroots write-in campaign.  While in office, she worked to advance a fundamentalist agenda, formed relationships with Christian conservatives, and networked with a growing Evangelical base to promote her ideology.  After two terms in Congress, Smith started Shared Hope International, which she considers her ministry. Smith revealed, “My titles and political connections have opened doors for me around the world that wouldn’t have opened otherwise.”  In 2001, Smith kicked off the War Against Trafficking Alliance in conjunction with The Salvation Army, the International Justice Mission, and the Protection Project (founded by Laura Lederer, a Bush administration advisor and anti-pornography activist).  Along with Smith, the alliance worked to brand and sell anti-prostitution and anti-trafficking training as a human rights cause.

As the trafficking crusade continued to gain traction, funding began to pour into known “rescue” organizations including WATA, for which Smith obtained $1.8 million dollars for a global anti-trafficking conference in February of 2003.  During the first four years of the Bush administration, $300 million was awarded to anti-trafficking work, including Shared Hope International. With grants from the U.S. State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, Smith and SHI first released the DEMAND report in 2007, followed in 2009 by the National Report on Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking: America’s Prostituted Children, and in 2011 by the annual state report cards.  With DOJ funding, Smith and her team have gone undercover to obtain and create their own brand of “research” on the commercial sex industry.  The result is SHI’s Protected Innocence Challenge, a joint analysis done by SHI and the American Center for Law and Justice (founded by evangelical minister Pat Robertson).  In 2011, Smith promoted SHI’s state report cards and legislative framework to attendees at the Values Voters Summit in a breakout session entitled “Saving America’s Children From Pimps And Perverts: The Protected Innocence Initiative”.  The following year, while addressing a small crowd during one of the 2012 Value Voters breakout sessions, Smith said that efforts to stop the sale and trade of minors in the sex industry should be an extension of the “pro-life” cause.  “Believers and conservatives should put this issue [domestic minor sex trafficking] in its proper position,” and not treat it as tangential.

But Shared Hope International’s authority and influence extends far beyond Smith’s base. In 2009, with DOJ funding, SHI developed and released Intervene training for “identifying and responding to America’s prostituted children”. The curriculum is marketed as a tool that builds awareness in social agency workers and those who are in contact with children and youth who may be at risk.  Whenever this training takes place, local reporters refer to anti-trafficking panelists as “experts”, say that training will create a bridge between social services and law enforcement, and claim that people can learn how to identify human trafficking and strengthen their state laws.

sleazy Shared Hope billboardTo gain continued political support for this issue, an integral part of each report is sensationalistic storytelling and stereotyping.  In Oregon, Shared Hope International advocates use fear-based stories and anecdotal evidence to implement new legislation that is focused solely on domestic minor girls.  Joel Shapiro, a lobbyist with SHI, says “going after pimps and johns” is more difficult because the illicit business has gone from the streets to online.  Yet, U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall views the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) as a high priority, the Sexual Assault Resource Team has five full-time staff members that respond exclusively to CSEC cases, and the Multnomah County DA formed a Human Trafficking  Team and is using additional funds to pay for another CSEC prosecutor; with this team in place Oregon is already 5th in the nation for CSEC prosecutions.  None of this is based in anything resembling sound research and data, a fact which the abolitionists themselves admit in statements buried deep with the hysteria:

The exact number of child victims of sex trafficking in the United States is unknown because comprehensive research and scientific data are lacking.”

With regard to children affected by trafficking, there is a dramatic absence of harmonized and systematic data.”

There is little systematic and reliable data on the scale of the phenomenon.”

The U.S. State Department Office of Accountability found gaps in data, numerical discrepancies, methodological weaknesses, and no coordinated strategy or way to gauge results, yet funding and resources keep being thrown at these false claims.  It’s past time for officials who are truly concerned about exploitation to distance themselves from agenda-driven ideologues like Smith and start addressing the push factors, listening to key populations, and focusing on evidence-based harm reduction and anti-criminalization efforts which create healthy and safe communities for everyone.

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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on January 19th; I have modified it slightly for time references and to fit the format of this blog.

Idealized Portrait of a Courtesan as Flora by Bartolomeo Veneto (1520)For most of human history, nobody thought of taking money for sex as a defining activity.  This is not to say that there were no whores, because of course there were; it isn’t called “the world’s oldest profession” for nothing.  But it wasn’t the fact that a woman took money for sex which defined her as a whore, but rather the fact that she made a living from it.  As I wrote in my Cato Unbound essay, “Treating Sex Work as Work”,

…It was almost universally understood that many working-class women and a not-inconsiderable number of those in higher classes would accept money for sex, at least on occasion, and it was impossible to draw a bright, clear line between behaviors that constituted “prostitution” and those (such as concubinage, mistresshood, and political marriage) which did not despite their often-mercenary basis.  The manifold laws regulating sex work were not intended to preclude pragmatic motivations for sexual behavior, but rather to keep up appearances, guard the purity of bloodlines, and maintain public order.  But as the Victorian Era dawned, a new idea began to take hold of European minds: if science could perfect Man’s tools and techniques, why couldn’t the same process be applied to Mankind itself?  The immediate result of turning (pseudo-)scientific inquiry upon sex was that taking money for it was no longer considered merely something that “unladylike” or “sinful” women did for a living or extra income; instead, the “prostitute” was defined into existence as a specific type of woman, separate and distinct from other women.

Prior to the 19th century, any sexual behavior outside of marriage was considered “sinful”, regardless of its motive, but there were also class considerations; sexual “immorality” was both expected and assumed of working-class women, and whether a girl occasionally asked for money or not could make little difference in the way she was perceived by her so-called “betters”.  This is why it was not unusual in pre-industrial cultures for a disgraced upper-class woman to turn to sex work; once she had fallen from her elevated station, taking money for sex did no more harm.  But once the idea of “prostitution” as some uniquely disgraceful activity was invented, and the “prostitute” was defined as the lowest of the low, it was inevitable that women who would previously have been considered more or less the same as whores would attempt to draw lines between themselves and the new pariah class.  And once governments began to criminalize prostitution or activities around it as a result of the new ideas, distinguishing oneself from a “common prostitute” became a matter not only of dignity, but practical necessity.

The first group to successfully shed the whore stigma was actresses, who had since classical times been considered interchangeable with harlots; after the dawn of cinema they actually moved into a de facto higher social class, especially in the United States.  Dancers whose style could be credibly represented as asexual or highbrow (preferably both) followed them, then masseuses and women who had extramarital sex for non-financial reasons.  In the past several decades, the number of such groups has exploded and now includes many whose claim to being different from sex workers is threadbare indeed; burlesque dancers, competition pole dancers, glamour and lingerie models, professional “cuddlers”, nude maids, waitresses catering to sexual fantasies  and even sugar babies insist that they are different from strippers, hookers and fetish workers in some real (and legally defensible) way.  Even people who are directly paid for a hands-on sexual service claim that being “certified” or “spiritual” or whatever makes them not sex workers, and some who cannot possibly deny that they are still pretend to be “better” than other sex workers because they are “legal”, or because they don’t have direct intercourse and parrot “trafficking” propaganda to kiss up to cops.  But this example from the January 15th Guardian takes the biscuit:  “As a professional dominatrix, I…[know] sex is a human need, and kink can be a meaningful part of the sexual spectrum.  We sex workers turn the erotic into a humane and powerful art.  [But] too many of us, particularly escorts, are miserable slaves, and we must fight tirelessly for their freedom…Mudflap Girl Tesselation  Way to go there, Margaret Corvid; boost yourself up on the backs of all us pathetic, dirty escorts…oh, excuse me, “miserable slaves”.  Because only wonderful, superior dominatrices can choose freely, while those of us who prefer to sell more mundane sexual services are clearly dysfunctional.  In my essay “Whorearchy” I wrote,

…a whore is a whore is a whore, and legal, moral or procedural lines serve only to break people into smaller groups which are more easily dominated by the power-hungry.  If you accept money from someone that he gives due to sexual interest in you, then you are a whore and everything else is just semantics.  When politicians, pundits or rulers use some arbitrary determinant like penetration, duration, location or motivation to bless some harlots while damning others, what they’re actually doing is reducing the size of the group who might oppose them and winning supporters from among those granted legitimacy.  This is why I’m harshly unsympathetic to those who vehemently maintain that their species of sex work or sensual therapy is absolutely not prostitution:  all they’re doing is throwing other women under the bus, and if we had all stuck together from the beginning of second-wave feminism…prostitution would’ve been decriminalized long ago and many women who are now dead or damaged might still be alive and healthy…

As I’ve pointed out before, gay people only won their civil rights by forming a coalition, and until sex workers stop drawing arbitrary lines between each other and accepting the lies and false divisions promoted by those in power, we will never have the same kind of success.

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When one enjoys full liberty, one must use it with the utmost moderation.  -  Victor Hugo, preface to Marion Delorme

Marion De LormeLast month, sex worker activists discussed the case of Patricia Adler, a sociologist who had promoted ridiculous whore stereotypes in her classes on “deviancy” for twenty years; she of course never bothered to consult actual sex workers or even fellow academics who had actually studied us, instead preferring to let students simply make things up under her (almost wholly ignorant) guidance.  But while we were annoyed and insulted by her actions, we were by no means surprised by them; since time immemorial academics, artists, moralists, rulers and almost everyone else have considered prostitutes to be more like fictional characters than real people.  As I wrote in “Projection”, harlots “tend to be dehumanized into symbols for other people’s psychological needs and problems…people project their own concepts onto us and imagine us as the external representations of those concepts.”  The internet is the enemy of such projection because it allows us to speak for ourselves rather than allowing others to usurp that right, and because it allows real information about a person to be widely disseminated, thus disrupting the fictions.  In modern times, myths and other tales about whores are thus limited to those told about fictional characters (including those played by real people in “sex trafficking” roadshows), and those we tell about ourselves (and can successfully bury the truth about).  But it’s not always easy to separate fact from fiction when discussing the lives of courtesans who lived prior to the information age, and in some cases it’s practically impossible.

Case in point:  Marion Delorme, a French courtesan of the 17th century.  A few facts about her are well-known and not generally disputed:  she was born on October 3rd, 1613, the daughter of Jean de Lou, sieur de l’Orme and his wife Marie Chastelain.  She was rich, beautiful, well-educated and had little interest in conventional marriage, and her second known lover was Henri Coiffier de Ruzé, Marquis de Cinq-Mars, who was a favorite (and possibly lover) of King Louis XIII; she stayed with him until his death in 1642.  In her twenties she became the hostess of a salon which after 1648 became a meeting place for the enemies of the powerful Cardinal Mazarin, and when he sent men to arrest her on July 2nd, 1650 they reported back that she had died suddenly on June 30th from an overdose of antimony she had taken to induce an abortion.  And that is the extent of what we know for (reasonably) certain; everything else about her life is speculation, ranging from the highly likely to the highly dubious to the patently absurd.

idelorm001p1Though she began working as a courtesan sometime after she began hosting the salon, it’s uncertain how quickly the former followed the latter; she is said to have been secretly married to Cinq-Mars, but presumably it was in both their interests not to reveal that so as to avoid interfering with their other partners.  One of Marion’s was said to have been Cardinal Richelieu, who had first introduced Cinq-Mars to King Louis because he believed he could control the young nobleman and thereby influence His Majesty.  But Richelieu had completely misjudged Cinq-Mars; instead, the young man told the King of the Cardinal’s treachery, pressed for him to be executed and tried to organize a noble rebellion against Richelieu.  Alas, he was caught by Richelieu’s spies and executed in 1642.  Marion was not implicated in the conspiracy, but it seems likely that her sympathies were aligned with those of her dead husband; when the civil war called the Fronde began in 1648, those who opposed Richelieu’s successor Cardinal Mazarin gathered at her salon.  But some doubt her convenient death practically on the eve of her arrest; a legend claims that the officials sent to detain her were either deceived or bribed into reporting her death, that the elaborate funeral which followed was a sham, and that Marion fled to England, married a lord and lived to 1706.

None of those speculations test the limits of credulity, but they are only the beginning; other accounts claim she later had all sorts of adventures, eventually returned to Paris and died in abject poverty in 1741…which would have made her 127!  And in his Illuminati, the writer Gérard de Nerval recounts a legend that she used esoteric means to delay aging, was actually 150 at her death, and was already involved in the circles of power when King Henry IV died in 1610.  Furthermore, her involvement in court intrigue at a time later generations find fascinating ensured numerous fictional versions of her life;  most notably, Victor Hugo wrote the drama Marion Delorme (1831) which was later adapted into opera by both Giovanni Bottesini (1862) and Amilcare Ponchielli (1885).fictional Marion Delorme illustration  It has also been suggested that the villainous Milady de Winter of The Three Musketeers is based loosely on Marion, which if true would be rather ironic given that Milady was the agent of the fictional Richelieu and Marion the (eventual) enemy of the real one.

In general, the lives of famous people who lived more recently are clearer to us than those who lived very long ago, and the more remote the era the more likely true biographical details are to be mixed with legends and myths.  But when the subject is a whore, the truth tends not only to be harder to find (due to fabrications by the lady, her clients, her enemies and her clients’ enemies), but also harder to extract from the mythic landscape to which so many people would prefer to confine us.

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We don’t know what sex workers themselves think about [the Swedish model] because nobody, it seems, bothered to ask them.  -  Fionola Meredith

R.I.P. Andrew Hunter Andrew Hunter

The president of the Global Network of Sex Work Projects and founder of the Asia-Pacific Network of Sex Workers died suddenly on Boxing Day at the age of 47.  There is very little information available for a fitting tribute to this amazing and tireless activist, but I am in contact with his partner, Dale, and hope to get a proper full-length obituary ready in the next few days.

Out of Control (The Camel’s Nose)

It’s been quite a while since we’ve seen a creepy rapist doctor:

An [Ohio] emergency room doctor was sentenced to 35 years…after pleading guilty to raping and killing a pregnant prostitute…Deanna Ballman…died of a fatal overdose of heroin, which Salim [Ali] gave her at his home…Salim acknowledged that…he dumped her body.  However, he only intended to have sex and not harm her or the unborn child…

License to Rape

Another serial rapist cop protected by his department and given a slap on the wrist when caught:

…Michael Vagnini…had a thing he liked to do when he busted someone.  He liked to do it a lot.  “The complaint lays out in graphic detail how…Vagnini…conducted searches of men’s anal and scrotal areas, often inserting his [ungloved] fingers into their rectums”…when the complaints piled up so high that even…Police Chief Edward Flynn couldn’t come up with an excuse for ignoring it, Vagnini’s pleasure at humiliating and physically violating his victims was finally subject to prosecution…Of course, arrest and prosecution for serial anal rape is one thing.  What comes of it is another.  A deal was cut…“that would not require him to become a registered sex offender”…he [only]…got…a sentence of 26 monthsfat Barbie

I first reported this in “Links #119”.

Barbie 

More adults badly in need of lives:  “Plus-Size-Modeling.com is suggesting Mattel create a plus-size Barbie.  While some say more realistic curves would be a better role model for girls, others say an overly large Barbie would be an unhealthy example…

To Protect and Serve

Another casualty of the War on Whores:

A dog owner is demanding a [Florida] police officer’s badge, after that officer shot his dog while…[trying] to serve a woman with a warrant for prostitution charges…the woman doesn’t live there anymore. [Richard] Stotler moved in after her, and said he has no idea who the woman is…[but the cops] didn’t listen…[and trespassed] through the gate around the back of the house, where they found Lady…She’s…[now] on three different pain medications, with part of a bullet still lodged in her ear canal, and other wounds Stotler isn’t sure will heal…police…haven’t released the officer’s name or whether he will face any disciplinary action…

Subtle Pimping

Tragedy pornographer Erin Healy claims to have “investigated sex trafficking” for her latest novel, yet somehow she didn’t find any of the numerous debunkings of the myth which would have invalidated her premise.  To quote this plug piece Fox News published for her, “Go ahead, please cringe with me.”

Why Not Teach Them Critical Thinking Instead?
lurking traffickers

The New Jersey…Attorney General will sponsor assemblies statewide…to warn students about the dangers of human trafficking…surrounding Super Bowl XLVIII…the “Say Something Assembly” program…[says] traffickers may target minors through social media, telephone chat lines and after-school programs, and at shopping malls and bus depots.

Droit du Seigneur

Rebecca Woodard says…in her new tell-all tome that prosecutors forced her to continue to turn tricks after she agreed to wear a wire to help snare…Anna Gristina in 2008…“The [Assistant District Attorney] told me to work…and then turn over to his office the money and any gifts that clients gave me…this ADA was my pimp”…Woodard does not name the ADA…but gave several clues to his identity.  Sources…confirmed…that she is referring to former ADA Mark Crooks…[now working] as an assistant federal prosecutor in Maryland.  Woodard…says she didn’t tell prosecutors about all her gigs.  “Obviously, if I did this with every client I saw, I would have been broke”…prosecutors [threatened to]…arrest her for prostitution if she didn’t [work for them]…

Woodard also claims that while working earlier for Kristin Davis she was hired by Eliot Spitzer, who liked to choke escorts during sex.

The Crumbling Dam

The number of charges for prostitution-related offences in Toronto courts has dropped by 90 per cent over a five-year period, as the constitutional challenge against Canada’s prostitution laws [went on]…Toronto courts received 1,088 charges…in 2006.  In 2011, the number of charges was a tenth of that, just 110…Alan Young, the lawyer who argued the case, said…Prostitution-related offences have been low priority for enforcement…“The government kept asserting that when the laws were invalidated, there would be…chaos…and my position was, we’re charging so little, the community wouldn’t notice much difference”…Cartoon History of the Modern World 2

Presents, Presents, Presents!

The mails were a bit slow during Christmas, so I got a few cards and one present at the end of last week: The Cartoon History of the Modern World, Part 2 from Kevin Wilson.  Thank you, Kevin!

Legal Is As Legal Does (TW3 #7)

Prostitutes [in New Zealand] are hitting back at a bill that aims to restrict where they can work, saying it’s unnecessary and could put their safety at risk…The bill…would give police the ability to arrest and fine them and clients if they break the rules…Another…bill [proposes] to recriminalise street prostitution and confine the trade to brothels…

Useful Idiots

“Feminists” never, ever think of the implications of laws they push:

Domestic abuse involving “emotional blackmail” – but no violence – could become a criminal offence carrying a heavy jail term…the…bill…proposes making it illegal to…“intend to control or coerce” their spouse.  Anyone found guilty…would face up to 14 years’ imprisonment…its definition of abuse includes…“[depriving] them of the means needed for independence”…

As Tim Worstall points out, the definitions criminalize the normal behavior of most British wives.

Naked Truth

Melissa Gira Grant presents a long list of her picks for the best sex work writing of the year, including journalism which treats sex work rationally.  Many of these were linked here when they appeared, and you may enjoy reading the others.

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #34)

A rare Irish denunciation of the Swedish Model:

…the planned introduction of new laws criminalising the purchase of sex in Ireland, north and south…conflates sex workers and targets of human trafficking, treating them…as…one homogeneous group of oppressed and distressed victims…destroyed by the abhorrent appetites of men…[supporters] are wilfully blind to the consequences of their sanctimonious stance for the very individuals they say they want to rescue and protect:  the sex workers themselves, some of whom, inconveniently enough, refuse to allow themselves to be saved…criminalising clients does not wipe out prostitution, or even substantially reduce demand.  But it does hurt sex workers, placing them at increased risk of violence, exposing them to stress and ill-health, making them feel stigmatised and hunted…Where buying sex is outlawed, it is the people selling it who pay the price…Laura Lee

The Public Eye (TW3 #324)

Douglas Fox is retiring as the editor of Harlot’s Parlour, and handing the reins to our friend Laura Lee:

…I am handing harlots to Laura with the assurance that she will continue to encourage a wide and diverse opinion within sex work to be heard.  There is not, after all, only one message about what or who is a sex worker.  Despite our disagreements what unites us is a desire that our work is recognised and that we are provided the full protection of the law…

Sold Out

This at first seems to be just another of the inane “libertarians are bad because of this strawman I made!” articles we’ve seen so many of this year, but it contains this gem:  “Libertarians…called for the abolishment of ‘victimless crime’, which lumped homosexuality with prostitution, polygamy, recreational drugs, abortion, and gambling…certainly not a ringing endorsement of the LGBTQ community…”  How dare they include wonderful gays with that riff-raff!

Dirty Laundry (TW3 #326)

This is another long, horrifying article on the Magdalene laundries; it covers ground that will be mostly familiar to those who have studied the history of these monstrous slave-labor camps, but includes a fact I did not know before:  “Australia had eight Magdalene laundries – all at Sisters of the Good Shepherd convents – from the 1940s until the ’70s.  There is no firm data on how many girls they held but it’s estimated to be several thousand…[they] were for girls who were wards of the state or deemed delinquents but often were victims themselves who had committed no crimes…

Innocence Never Had

Let's Talk About TouchingImagine that you’re a young sex worker (say, 16-19) who’s just been arrested in a “sting”, manhandled by leering cops and pressured by scary perverts to reveal a “pimp” you don’t have.  Then a creepy middle-class woman comes in to see you in your cage and gives you… crayons and a coloring book:  “The Human Trafficking Coalition of the Palm Beaches…provides backpacks for immediate needs to those rescued from sex traffickers…items needed are:  travel size toiletries,  toothpaste and tooth brushes, small blankets, flip-flops…notebooks, pencils and cases, erasers, crayons and coloring books…

Bootlickers (TW3 #345)

More totalitarian prudery from Everett, Washington:

Everett police updated the boundaries of zones used to designate high-prostitution areas…The newly zoned areas include some of the bikini barista stands that have made headlines in recent months…and…are used to enforce court orders given to those convicted of prostitution activity, including people who buy sex…Offenders can be arrested on the spot for violating the court order…

Note that many people accused of “prostitution” in Everett are the aforementioned bikini baristas, so these “orders” deprive them of their jobs.

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #351)

An excerpt from Mindy Chateauvert’s Sex Workers Unite:

…despite the acceptance of “sluts,” the “prostitute” remains a deeply embedded symbolic marker between decency and disrespect.  The “ethical slut” engages in sex of her or his own “free” will, while the “dirty whore” insists on getting paid…Sex-positive feminists and other “sluts” believe there is nothing morally wrong with consensual sex between two (or more) people…but money changes everything…That cognitive dissonance — the deep chasm filled with stereotypes and prejudices — interferes with the capacity…to hear sex workers speak about their experiences.  Stories that don’t conform to the “superhappyfunsexysexwork!” narrative tend to flummox pro-sex feminists; they can identify with privileged exotic dancers, porn performers and professional dominants…but think “junkie whores” need to be rescued and should be prevented from working in their…neighborhoods…

Opting Out (TW3 #352)

A few more examples of the dirty, nasty porn Cameron’s filters are “protecting” British women and children from:

…One of your ISPs blocked access to the website for Glasgow’s St. Mary’s Cathedral [and] the blog of its provost.  A second ISP blocked access to charity sites including ChildLine, the NSPCC and the Samaritans.  Other websites blocked include the British Library, National Library of Scotland [and] your Parliament…best…of all is the site of Claire Perry, the Member of Parliament who campaigned so prominently for the new law.  How’s it feel, Claire?  Oh, your site is legitimate and shouldn’t be censored?  That’s how the owners of every single other site being blocked feel…

Cops and RobbersPot Noodle

A…police officer refused to deal with a harassment complaint from murdered Bijan Ebrahimi because it would mean his Pot Noodle would get cold…On a separate occasion…Mr Ebrahimi had banged on a police station door to make a complaint but no-one had answered, despite there being staff inside.  A…police spokesman…was unable to comment on the claims…until the conclusion of the [Independent Police Complaints Commission]  investigation…[Lee] James, 24, was jailed for life, with a minimum sentence of 18 years…for beating and stamping …Ebrahimi to death.  Stephen Norley, 25, was jailed for four years after helping James to set Mr Ebrahimi’s body on fire…

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