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Reap the Whirlwind

For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.
–  Hosea 8:7

As usual, politicians and the mainstream media are pretending that a disaster they helped create, born from an evil they planted at the turn of the century and have lovingly tended and fed since then, has absolutely nothing to do with them.  As the internet meme expresses it, “But we didn’t think the face-eating leopards would eat our faces!”  So they point fingers and try to cover their tracks and repeatedly “explain” how an explosion happened while ignoring the powder residue all over their hands and clothes.  The Capitol riot was the direct result of hysteria that politicians of both major parties, aided and abetted by the US journalism establishment and supplied with propaganda by hordes of religious fanatics, violent thugs and sociopathic profiteers, have enthusiastically promoted for a generation in order to trick useful idiots into accepting ever-increasing levels of surveillance, censorship, and police violence.  Yet their reaction to this is akin to that of a lifelong smoker pretending that his lung cancer was due entirely to his most recent pack:

Sen. Ben Sasse…blasted GOP lawmakers who had…tacitly endorsed QAnon in an op-ed in The Atlantic…warning that the Republican Party risks destruction if it doesn’t repudiate the crackpot conspiracy theory…Sasse said the riot was a “blossoming of a rotten seed that took root in the Republican Party some time ago”…the…Party “faces a choice,” Sasse says: “Dedicate ourselves to defending the Constitution”…or be a “party of conspiracy theories, cable-news fantasies, and the ruin that comes with them…We have to repudiate people who peddle those lies”…

But Sasse isn’t the only one who refuses to recognize that QAnon is nothing more than the most recent flowering of the “sex trafficking” hysteria; look at the number of edits I needed to make to bring this Washington Post article into line with reality:

…the failed insurrection illustrated how the p[opular “sex trafficking” mythology]…has radicalized Americans, [justified extensive tyranny] and gained a forceful grip on [American] belief.  Born in [approved government anti-sex and anti-migrant propaganda], QAnon played an unmistakable role in energizing rioters during the real-world attack on Jan. 6.  A man in a “Q” T-shirt led the breach of the Senate, while a shirtless, fur-clad believer known as the “Q Shaman” posed for photographers in the Senate chamber…The [Evangelical Christian-] base[d narrative which has developed into a myth]…which imagines Trump in a battle with a cabal of deep-state saboteurs who worship Satan and [harvest] traffic[ked] children for [a magical life-extending chemical in their blood], helped drive the day’s events and facilitate organized attacks…The…movement’s evolution, from an [official fantasy intended to justify increased government surveillance, internet censorship, and oppression of sex workers] to a hallmark of pro-Trump violence, is a signal of the danger [moral panic, whether natural or synthetic,] poses to s[ocie]ty…“The takeaway from this is that [even government-approved] disinformation is a threat to our democracy,” said [psychologist] Joel Finkelstein…
Neither Biden nor Harris nor any of their cronies will ever publicly admit their complicity in this disaster.  But if we’re very fortunate, they may quietly distance themselves from the lunacy they’ve so enthusiastically promoted for many years, allowing it to at last die the natural death politicians’ sponsorship has to this point prevented.

Baby Steps

The phenomenon of politicians feeling safe in espousing support for sex worker rights is such a new one, it’s unsurprising that sex workers tend to get excited every time it happens, especially when a politician demonstrates that he’s read enough on the topic to use some of our own talking points.  But while most outsiders speaking against American-style full criminalization seem to have learned enough to know the word “decrminalization” will get our attention, few if any seem to understand what it actually entails (or if they do, they pretend otherwise).  Furthermore, the majority of journalists covering these stories do not comprehend that “decriminalization” has a specific meaning; it doesn’t mean “legalization” or Swedish-style criminalization as prohibitionists pretend, nor does it mean “temporary tolerance” as in this article:

…Washtenaw County [Michigan] Prosecutor Eli Savit announced…his office would no longer seek prosecution of individuals engaged in consensual sex work, focusing instead on cases involving human trafficking, sexual assault and the sexual exploitation of children…Savit, who was newly elected in 2020, has issued a variety of new policy changes in the prosecutor’s office including the ending of cash bail and the rescinding of zero-tolerance policies.  The newest policy, citing various reasons for the decision, aims to ease tensions and make it easier for consensual sex workers to report crimes committed against them and aid them in leaving the life.  Research demonstrates that the criminalization of sex work enhances sex workers vulnerabilities to violence and exploitation…“Some people who engage in sex work would prefer to do so for only a limited time.  But…being convicted of sex work-related offenses gives sex workers a criminal record, which can make it hard to find non-sex work employment.”  Savit emphasized the policy is only directed toward cases where the exchange of money for sex is the sole basis of the charge…

Though he carefully avoids the semantically-loaded dog-whistle “pimp”, the last sentence of that block quote makes me wary.  As sex workers in “legalized” regimes will tell you, this still leaves us wide open to cop persecution for “offenses” such as sharing an incall, doing duos, or helping other sex workers in any way (“pimping”), or from having an incall in the first place (“brothel-keeping” or the equivalent).  These non-legislative “tolerance policies” can also be revoked without warning at a moment’s notice (or due to an election), as has happened in many US cities many times over the past century.  Moreover, they don’t stop cops from raping sex workers via threat of bogus charges of the type described above, or harassing us or clients by bullshit arrests (complete with arrest record and press release) that don’t get prosecuted.  In short, “baby step” is the right term for this sort of announcement; it’s a development that signifies a politician knows something is wrong with the system, but is unwilling (or unable) to really do anything substantial about it beyond signalling his view.  Yes, it’s better than yet another sociopath vomiting out lies about our lives and sending out thugs to rape and abduct us and call it “rescue”.  But it is not decriminalization by any stretch of the imagination, and even the limited protections Savit is promising are nothing more than words written in the dust until they are enshrined in law.

In the News (#1105)

We open or we die.  –  open letter from Mexico City restaurateurs

Feminine Pragmatism (#913)

One day, reporters will learn that “people work to make money” is not news:

Like many other young Venezuelans, Valery Lopez has found a way to survive the…country’s crippling economic crisis…[by selling] online sexual content…she has found a way to avoid joining the exodus of five million migrants [who] have left the country since 2015.  “I was…[able] to stay in Venezuela thanks to OnlyFans,” [said] Lopez…[her] channel has more than 50 [international] subscribers…each one pays $10 a month: a figure six times the minimum salary in Venezuela…[but professional busybodies like] Abel Saraiba…[bemoan Lopez’ and others’ entrepreneurship, absurdly referring to merely selling pictures from the privacy of her own home as]…”a risky (line of work)”…

Hot Mess Alabama

Alabama is trying to make up for its late start by spewing “sex trafficking” idiocy most other states have quietly dropped:

…the purpose of the event series is “to promote…myths surrounding [sex work]”…focusing on…the sex [fantasies of prohibitionists about]…how traffickers recruit and subjugate young women and children…[chief busybody] Julia Meyers [recited the Shahada and tired old “King of the Hill” tropes about]…I-20 and I-65 as…major human trafficking corridors…the commercial sex industry generates $110 million each year in the Birmingham-metro area…this does not include illegal activity that occurs in massage parlors or strip clubs…90 percent or more people that are prostituted people are actually being trafficked…

“People that are prostituted people” is a tautology that well encapsulates the circularity of these wankers’ parade into their own rectums.

False Witness (#980)

Once the Satanic panic returned as “sex trafficking”, charlatans began to work on rehabiltating the dangerous and discredited doctrine of “repressed memories”, which was use to destroy so many lives in the 1980s and ’90s.  In this article from The Cut, writer Katie Heaney pretends that the science debunking “repressed memories” is “controversial” (it isn’t), and that the theory behind what is now called false memory syndrome originated in a couple’s defense against accusations of abuse from their adult daughter (it didn’t).  She also tries her best to smear Elizabeth Loftus, whose work in the field of memory was the actual origin of the theory.  Heaney’s motivation is probably just page-clicks, but the people who want to re-convince courts that memories can magically reappear decades after the end of a statute of limitations (and the disintegration of any evidence or alibi) have a decidedly more sinister motive, and unless mental health professionals nip this in the bud, we’re once again going to start seeing people’s lives destroyed based on nothing more than delusions created or validated by unscrupulous, malicious cops, bureaucrats and prosecutors.

Nonessential

Working people all over are done with arbitrary authoritarian “lockdowns”:

It was assumed that…[on] January 11, Mexico City and the State of Mexico would [be done with the government-assigned COVID risk category called “]the red light[“, the most restrictive designation, but politicians arbitrarily] decided to extend it for another week.  Given this, many restaurateurs decided to ignore this measure and under the social media hashtag #AbrimosOMorimos, they announced that as of today they will reopen…”Open or die is a reality in the industry in general, from the taco stand to the most sophisticated restaurant…and the oxygen is over,” said José Sánchez…of Sonora Grill…Manolo Ablanedo…of…Fisher’s, said…more than 500 restaurants in [Mexico City] will open…”because…the next option to survive is to fire waiters and cooks”…[in] a letter addressed to the…government…the…restaurateurs requested to be considered essential…”They are extinguishing us…Let’s not condemn restaurant workers to unemployment, or thousands of businesses to bankruptcy!”

The Crumbling Dam (#1057)

Remember this when apologists claim prohibitionists are “well-intentioned”:

A divided federal appeals court…blocked…the nation’s first supervised drug-injection site from opening in Philadelphia, saying it ran afoul of a federal law originally passed to [further criminalize] drug [users]…The decision overturned a lower court ruling in favor of Safehouse, a non-profit that aims to open a facility where drug users can safely inject heroin, fentanyl or other drugs in the presence of medical professionals who could treat them for overdoses…[attorney] Ilana Eisenstein…who represents Safehouse [said]…”We remain confident that the law was not intended to force Americans to stand by as idle witnesses while our brothers and sisters are dying.  Conscience compels us to pursue all legal options, and we shall”…The government[‘s case relies on]…a provision of the Controlled Substance Act commonly known as the “crack house statute,” which makes it a crime to knowingly open or maintain a place for distributing or using controlled substances [such as a doctor’s office, hospital, or pharmacy]…

Quiet Genocide (#1086)

Another firsthand account of China’s torture of Uighurs:

My [family] fled to France…in May 2006, just before Xinjiang entered an unprecedented period of repression.  My daughters, 13 and 8 at the time, were given refugee status, as was their father.  In seeking asylum, my husband had made a clean break with the past.  Obtaining a French passport in effect stripped him of his Chinese nationality…[but] I couldn’t bring myself to do [the same]…so instead, I’d applied for a residence permit that was renewable every 10 years…[then in November 2016] I [was tricked into] going back to Xinjiang…[so the police could] pull [me] in for questioning…[about] a photo…[of] my daughter Gulhumar…in Paris…[holding] a miniature East Turkestan flag in her hand, a flag the Chinese government had banned…I…was [condemned]…to…two years…of…violent…brainwashing…[until] on 2 August 2019…a judge…pronounced me innocent…[after] they had tortured my body and brought my mind to the edge of madness…

One of the more subtle ways that Western governments enable this abomination is by supporting the evil doctrine that countries permanently own their citizens, even if those citizens choose to live elsewhere.

You Were Warned (#1099)

Remember that whores are even less popular with the Establishment than MAGA types are:

Parler has — for now, at least — vanished, after Amazon canceled its web hosting contract with the company…Google also banned Parler, on [January 8th], with Apple following suit [the next]…day.  The companies cite posts making threats against Mike Pence, organizing last week’s events in Washington, D.C., and making plans for further action to challenge the 2020 election results…Plenty of digital platforms — including those much bigger and more mainstream than Parler — provide a place for conspiracy theorists, MAGA riot organizers, and threats of violence, as well as the politicians who back and encourage these forces.  To take action against Parler and no other social media sites or web forums — and to do it so swiftly, without providing them with a little buffer to find new options — feels…designed to stave off becoming a target themselves…this provides…a…glimpse of what a world without Section 230 would look like all the time, not just in the wake of incidents that rattle us.  Nobody would want to even tangentially do business with apps and other web forums that don’t aggressively police and limit user speech, for fear that liability would work its way up the food chain to them…

Diary #551

Since Sunset is very near an actual rain forest, we’re used to seeing a great deal of rain, especially in the winter.  But this year the rain went on for much longer and harder than expected until we finally got a respite starting Thursday afternoon.  We’d been feeding the animals in the barn since the rain started, so I took advantage of the break to feed them in the normal outdoor spots.  But Orville didn’t show when I called him, so the next morning I went to the barn to check on him and found the poor beast actually stuck in a hollow in the dirt floor he’d made into a nest.  He was squealing pitifully, clearly unable to get up, so I had to get behind him and push; that allowed him to get unstuck, but his left hind leg appeared to be “asleep” because he was very unsteady on his feet and kept almost toppling over.  But Chekhov and I kept watch on him for a while, and within an hour he was moving around much more normally.  He’s obviously a bit constipated, though, probably from being unable to move overnight, and I couldn’t get him to eat anything until Sunday morning, when he eagerly devoured half of a bagged salad Grace suggested I try on him.  He ambled about pretty well for a while, and sunned himself (lying on the opposite side) for most of the afternoon, as you can see.  So I had Chekhov pick up several of the bagged salads (on sale!), and he devoured them; I suspect he was instinctively seeking vegetables to clear up his issue, and it seems to have worked because he was making his usual rounds yesterday, even coming to the porch to beg for peanuts.  But if dealing with a constipated pig isn’t the perfect example of what #TheSexyNeverStops hashtag is for, I’ll be damned if I know what is.

Body of Work

My friend Brooke Magnanti has a new project named Body of Work on the new platform Substack, and to call attention to it I’d like to share my favorite of the posts she’s published there so far. It’s both a moving memoir and a powerful rebuke to the sheltered puritans who pretend sex work is “The Worst Thing a Woman Can Do“, which is incidentally the title of this piece.

My dad was mowing strangers’ lawns on the day that he died.

He woke before sunrise – the habit of a blue collar lifetime – with his schedule for the day written out on a piece of college-ruled paper, copied from the app where homeowners booked him for reasonably priced lawn services. He had the rest of the week drawn up as a grid too, with blank spaces for last-minute jobs that might pop up on his newly purchased smartphone.

He loaded the truck with the tools of his trade: edgers and whips, a spade and a rake, a refurbished secondhand push mower, and drove the ride-on mower (also a refurb) onto the small trailer behind his 15-year-old F150. He put a lunchbox with two turkey sandwiches and four bottles of frozen water into the cab. They would melt during the hot Florida spring day, keeping his food cold and providing hydration as he worked in the full sun.

Sometime after 8am, he started having abdominal pains. The worst of his life. My father – no hypochondriac, also the habit of a lifetime – called 911. The hospital did some tests and discharged him by 10am, diagnosis mild constipation, prescription two kinds of laxatives. He didn’t feel better. His last few outgoing texts were to friends letting them know he couldn’t meet up later, he was sick. He went on to complete 3 of the 5 jobs on his schedule.

He died that night. 70 years old, retired not even one day of his life. When we found his phone, most of the missed texts and calls were from the app, set to automatically ping when he didn’t check in online for his agreed jobs.

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

“What, are you too proud to scrub a toilet?”

That was a question I have heard a lot. After coming out as a former sex worker in 2009, I could count on at least one know-it-all standing up to pronounce more or less this exact accusation at every book signing, public speaking event, or festival I appeared at.

The question askers never stuck around to hear, really hear the answer: it’s hard to get a job in the UK as an American student, I couldn’t work more than 15 hours a week, no one was allowed to hire me if any qualified EU applicant was available, and that wouldn’t have made a dent in my bills anyway. ‘Too proud to scrub a toilet’ also seemed to be the takeaway most columnists went with when discussing my writing. According to everyone with a public opinion my problem was not lack of cash but that I was too proud, or precious, or whatever to do real work. I was spoiled.

Thing is, I wasn’t just spitballing about whether or not scrubbing toilets pays the bills. I knew already, from experience, that it would not – because cleaning was the very last job I held before moving to London. I worked for months at a hostel in Aviemore while writing up my PhD thesis. In between changing beds and mopping bathrooms, I collated data on forensic pathology cases and assembled chapters on the processes of human decomposition. Because I also was the hostel’s cook and lived on site, I was able to save almost everything I earned. I thought this would put me in good stead for the autumn, when I planned to submit my PhD back in Sheffield, then move to London to look for work.

Long story short: my calculations of expenses for life in the capital city were way, way off. By the time I paid the extortionate deposit and rent on a sad little room in Kilburn, I was already out of cash. But with my PhD not yet approved I couldn’t apply for science jobs. So I became a call girl. A choice that I thought (also mistakenly as it turned out) would be lucrative, not require a particular visa, and that I could leave behind as soon as I started my “real” career.

That was then.

This is now: I’m scrubbing a toilet in a million dollar house in one of my county’s fanciest neighborhoods. American Standard. The water in the American Southwest is mineral-heavy and leaves rings on everything; I’m not so much scrubbing as chipping away at stalagmites of built up lime.

It’s the first toilet I’ll clean today, the first of four bathrooms in this house, but it’s not the last time I’ll think about those people who imagined I was too proud to scrub a toilet. I’ve been scrub-a-toilet poor before; it’s not that big a deal. No, instead they were telling me the thing they considered to be the last-resort job of choice before “selling your body.” Their deepest fear, the most undignified thing short of being a whore (which as we all know is the worst thing a woman can do).

That’s the calculation according to society. Whore is worst, cleaner is second worst, and no one in their right minds would do either. Let alone both. Yet the jobs persist. Even in a recession. Even in a pandemic. Key workers both. Not the front lines, accumulating accolades and sometimes hazard pay, but the back lines, doing jobs few want to admit always need done.

Even in the midst of a global pandemic it seems cleaning after oneself is still a job for someone else. Lifestyle columnists Sarah Ditum and Janice Turner raised a few eyebrows when they staunchly declared the unavailability of house cleaners in the first wave of covid to be beyond bearable. Not for them picking up the mop, or worse yet, asking one’s husband and children to chip in. No, went the logic, cleaners wanted the work. They loved their clients.

I’ve heard people say things like that before almost word for word. People who are the customers of sex workers. Do I have to tell you women like those are just the sort of people whose husbands I once would have fucked for money? I know it, and I guess they know it too.

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

If you too are in possession of a house and neither the time nor the inclination to clean it, you could book me or someone like me through any number of websites and apps. They all have slick, modern sites, enormous market capitalisations, and most importantly in this buoyant gig economy: they employ none of the people who show up at your door to do the work.

The landing pages show clean, modern homes resplendent in bare wood, white tile and brushed metal fixtures. Homes with six-burner gas ranges and fresh cut peonies in fishbowl vases. The kind of homes that few of the cleaners could ever dream of calling their own. The vibe is upscale, quiet suburb or cool high-rise urban.

And if you don’t mind what happens to your body, to your health, then there are always jobs like this, just not careers. With ubiquitous smartphones and widespread internet services that previously were available mainly to the well-heeled can be booked at the touch of a finger. In many ways the rise of sex workers on the internet when I was an anonymous blogger presaged the way many would soon be working in the 21st century.

My entry into cleaning for apps is straightforward. Sign up, submit a photo of my driver’s license, wait for a background check. Answer a few (very few) questions on my experience as a cleaner. I have a bit, from the aforementioned pre-London days turning over an 80-bed hostel in the Scottish Highlands for a summer, to helping out friends with holiday cottages.

I’m accepted on the platform and my rate is set at $15 per hour. That’s 4 dollars an hour above the nearest city’s minimum wage, more than twice the Federal minimum of $7.25, but well below anything that could result in the “thousands” the app’s ads on Craigslist promised. Up to thousands, I remind myself. Technically that means anything above zero. I’m assured through a short series of videos that work is straightforward and easy to come by, and that any problems I might experience with the app itself are quick to figure out. I’m told if I book 10 jobs this week my rate goes up, maybe as high as $22. I complete the series of Youtube videos that constitute training and log on.

There are no jobs. At all. Not today, and not tomorrow.

There’s one in three days! I click, eager to “claim” before anyone else does (because that must be what’s happening, right? There are no jobs because they’re already taken?) But when I google the location I find it’s in central Colorado – a 330-mile round trip from where I am now. Sure, there’s a $20 “bounty” for picking this one up, should I choose. But I decide to forego it. There is zero chance at this rate I will ever earn more than $15 an hour through the app.

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

We live in the age of the side hustle. Everyone I’ve met since moving back to the US has one. The fine artists with an Air B&B, the candle maker who cleans for them, the solar installer who is also a part-time fire captain, the fire captains who sell third party phone cases on Amazon. The jiu-jitsu instructor with a window washing business. The college professor who works as a part-time paramedic on ski patrol. The ski patroller who proctors exams at the college.

There is no mystery as to why. None of these people are rich or have any illusions of becoming so. Side hustle as a phrase sounds cool, as if a few hours of your week here and there will make it rain and make the Moet pour. The reality is more prosaic. Life in the land of opportunity is expensive. With a stunted public transport infrastructure, cars are a necessity if you want to get by in most of America. The college degree has more or less taken the place of a high school diploma, sought out even for entry-level customer service, and the expansion of the student loan industry leaves many in debt long beyond their 40’s. Credit rating determines everything from your ability to rent accommodation to even whether or not you get a job, obliging people to spend and keep spending in the name of being a trustworthy consumer. Being a consumer obliges you to work. Once entered, the cycle has no end. Not even retirement, for those (unlike my father) lucky enough to contemplate it: in 1985, 10.8% of people over 65 in America were still working. The number in 2017 was double that, and expected to become still higher when the twilight years of Baby Boomers give way to geriatric Generation X.

It gets worse. A shocking number of America’s personal bankruptcies are due to inability to pay medical bills. From a high of 1.5 million in 2010, the year the Affordable Care Act came into law, it declined to 770 thousand in 2016. And yet the problem is not solved: the requirement to buy insurance even on price-capped markets still leaves a lot of room for expenses in the form of deductibles that can be thousands of dollars or more. People still avoid accessing preventive care and instead end up in the emergency room, sometimes not until they are on death’s door. We may be in post-Obamacare America, with many on the left making noises about some form of universal, free-at-the-point-of-delivery healthcare, but the wolf of sudden medical emergency could turn up and destroy your life anytime. Even in the coronavirus pandemic America did not manage to elect a candidate who promises universal healthcare.

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

Four-Toilets is not a bad job as these things go. I know that immediately. It isn’t a 330 mile round trip to get there, for starters; only an hour from my house. The place is owned by a couple of about my age, pet- and child-free. They are not hoarders, and while some of it requires elbow grease (the aforementioned hard water in toilets situation) they’ve not left cleaning so long that any of it is out of hand, save a giant walk-in shower I spend about a third of the allotted five hours scrubbing.

The man goes out, and when he comes back, has brought me a sandwich. I don’t have time to eat on the clock of course. The app’s clients feed in the size of the job and the app gives them an estimated finishing time (no breaks). I do the last toilet, vacuum and mop, and am done bang on the hour the app predicted. I can’t help but wonder if there was a box they ticked that said “our house is already pretty clean” (it was) or if, in the future, similarly-sized jobs with less scrupulously tidy clients will be assigned the same five-hour time slot.

I don’t think about that, just sign on to the app to confirm completion of the job, load up my car (you are required to bring all supplies, including mop and vacuum, and more recently, PPE), and accept a shyly-offered $30 tip from the man. They want to book me again, once every fortnight. I say I’ll have a look on the app but I’d like that.

I have no illusions: few jobs will be as straightforward as this. On the drive home, I start making a list of what I need to replenish. Paper towels, microfibre rags, oven cleaner, furniture polish. Pick up some limescale remover! And some drain unclogging liquid. The tip covers my time driving to and from the house, and the gas, just about. It reminds me of being an escort when the client’s tips usually covered my transport.

Links #550

Pretending that ordinary incidents are dangerous and ordinary objects are toxic recalibrates reality.  –  Lenore Skenazy

I’m really pleased to see that others are beginning to mock the kindergarten pretense that there is some meaningful difference between authoritarians who call themselves “left” and those who take the label “right”.  We’ve seen these guys before, but this example was provided by Franklin Harris; the links above it are from Lenore Skenazy, Emma Evans, Cop Crisis, Walter Olson, Amy Alkon, and Emma again, in that order.

From the Archives

In the News (#1104)

Margo might be the single most important sexual liberationist and feminist revolutionary who ever slapped society upside its head.
–  Susie Bright

R.I.P. Margo St. James

The founder of the US sex worker rights movement, Margo St.James, died Tuesday at the age of 83; she had been in an assisted living facility in Bellingham, WA (her home town) for several years now due to dementia, but from the ’70s to the ’90s she was involved to one degree or another in practically every major national and international push for sex worker rights.  It’s impossible to overstate her importance to sex workers all over the world; you may get some idea of why by reading this essay I published on her almost eight years ago, and more in the linked obituary from the San Francisco Chronicle.  But so many 20th-century activists knew and loved her, there will no doubt be many articles and memories; I’m going to link every single one that comes to my attention over the next several weeks.  Farewell, Margo; not a one of us could have done it without your amazing example.

Dysphemisms Galore 

“The pimps who sell sex” may be one of the most clueless headlines ever:

Two…Southend [politicians bloviated about]…street prostitution…[with a plethora of ridiculous terms and phrases] in[cluding]…notorious hotspot…emotional effects of prostitution…“sexual harm”…urgent action to finally get street prostitution under control…“The psychological impacts of [consensual adult] sex are immense”…[they also bloviated about “the dangerous cycle of prostitution”]…high levels of anti-social behaviour…pimping…drug-dealing, hazardous litter and noise nuisance….end the harms caused by…sex…sexual exploitation and a form of violence against women and girls…trauma-informed support…and holding organisations [who actually assist sex workers] to account

I can’t help imagining these politicians wanking furiously while vomiting out these sexual fantasies.

Traffic Jam (#443)

This isn’t a “documentary”; the only thing it “documents” is Jones’ creepy fantasies about other women’s lives:

Sarah Jones is about to [present her ugly fantasies about] the sex industry…[in what she claims is a] documentary [even though it’s merely an expanded adaptation of her one-prohibitionist propaganda vehicle] Sell/Buy/Date…[s]he [dazzled a Deadline reporter with meaningless wokespeak about “]how the sex industry sits at the intersection of race, feminism, power and economics in our current cultural climate[” and dropped three big Hollywood names as executive producers:] Rashida Jones, Meryl Streep and Laverne Cox…[other idiotic belching included] “Is sex work exploitative or empowering?” [and “]The sex industry is hiding everywhere in plain sight during the pandemic[“]…

To her credit, Cox listened to sex workers’ complaints about this revolting propaganda (click on the subtitle link for a description) and has already withdrawn her support. The same cannot be said for the clueless Streep, and Rashida Jones is prohibitionist trash with a long history of endangering marginalized women with her videotaped hatespew.

The Prudish Giant (#897) 

It usually starts with sex workers, but it never stops with us:

When [Facebook-owned] Instagram introduced [censorship] guidelines aimed at stopping “sexual solicitation” in December, sex workers were the first to raise the alarm…But [of course they] aren’t the only ones with cause for anxiety.  A whole swathe of sex-related accounts, including those of certified sex educators and sexual wellness brands, are now being [censored]…sex educators [who couldn’t be bothered to stand with sex worksers now realize] censorship on Instagram has gone too far, with some calling it an all-out ban on sex

Pyrrhic Victory (#1030)

Useful idiots destroying any possibility that the facial recognition djinni can ever be rebottled:

After the Capitol riot, Clearview AI…has seen a spike in use…The F.B.I. has posted the faces of dozens of [rioters] and has requested assistance identifying them…Clearview, which is used by over 2,400 [cop shops to violate citizens’ privacy]…relies…on a database of more than 3 billion photos [stolen] from social media networks and other public websites…

Social Distancing (#1080)

I’m sure you feel safer now:

…a…woman [was brutalized and abducted] by four [costumed thugs for] sitting on a bench.  [Video shows] the woman…protesting…”I was sitting on a bench” as she is surrounded by [pigs]…in Bournemouth, Dorset…A furious woman filming the…disgrace…shout[ed] at [pigs]: “What side are you on?”…

Between the Ears (#1081)

“Smart” devices are not, part umpteen:

A hacker took control of people’s internet-connected chastity cages and demanded a ransom to be paid in Bitcoin to unlock it…a security researcher [who] goes by the name Smelly…obtained screenshots of conversations between the hacker and several victims…he…demand[ed] a payment of 0.02 Bitcoin (around $750 today) to unlock the device…These hacks show once again that just because you can connect something to the internet, it doesn’t mean you have to…It’s incidents like these that make some people think the Internet of Things is just a marketing term for the Internet of Hackable Things, as we call it, or even the Internet of Shit, as others call it.  Qiui, the Chin[ese] manufacturer of the device…did not respond to a request for comment…

Tweets on the Hill

While we’re waiting for the rain to slack off enough to do some more work on the bathhouse, here are some of my recent Twitter musings:

 

 

Green

For someone fairly “green”, how much of an obstacle will lack of references be?  I only have one prior engagement made through an international agency some years ago; would that suffice?  I saw a reference to “verification service” on the contact form on your website; could this help me?  Also, I’m from a small city; scheduling an appointment in the nearest large one is challenging for a variety of reasons, though I do intend be opportunistic, if I’m in the area.

First of all, you may find this article I wrote for Reason magazine three years ago useful; it has a lot of basic information you may not have considered.  I think it’s unlikely most US escorts would accept an international reference, except from Canada; since it’s rare for prospective US clients to produce international references, even the attempt might seem odd to most US escorts.  And because we learn to trust our instincts, even an odd feeling might cause an escort to reject you, especially during this time when cops are aggresssively trophy-hunting.  I therefore think it would be better for you to look for an escort who is “newbie friendly” (ladies who are will generally advertise thus), and relies on some form of screening other than references.  You will need to provide whatever information she uses for the check (probably full name, profession, phone number, stuff like that; she may also require a deposit).  After you see her, she can in turn provide references to other escorts.  A verification service may help you; this is a company which verifies that you are who you represent yourself to be, usually by checking your employment and/or a background check.  You needn’t worry about discretion; it is not in such services’ best interest to violate your confidence or risk exposing you, because such a breach would undermine its business model (the same can be said for escorts, BTB; one of the things you’re paying for is discretion).  The best-known such service in the US is probably P411; it is not without faults, but I doubt you’ll have to worry about them.

I think it would probably be better for you to seek your first US experience in the nearby large city rather than your own small one, even if that means making some excuse to travel to the city overnight.  In a larger city, you’re more likely to find experienced professionals who will work with you, and references from well-known escorts are more likely to be widely accepted than references from a relative unknown in a small city.  Also, many of the escorts in smaller cities tend on average to be less professional for the simple reason that they have less business and fewer personal contacts with other pros; many small-city escorts don’t screen as thoroughly, and their vouch for you is therefore less likely to be useful when booking other escorts in the future.  Plan ahead; do your research and make a date well in advance rather than simply blowing into town and then opportunistically trying to make a same-day appointment, because that will sharply limit your selection and you may not be able to arrange anything at all.

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

In the News (#1103)

In the name of protecting women, [Kamala] Harris has pushed sex workers back onto dangerous street corners.  –  Cherie DeVille

The Puritan Recrudescence

A deep dive on the history of the current US pro-censorship cabal:

Adult content [i]s now routinely described…by both sensationalistic tabloids and supposedly liberal establishment papers as “a scourge”…“a danger,” “harmful,” “exploitation,” and “infestation.”  Newspapers and TV news segments f[eed] this rhetoric to politicians around the world…who happily regurgitate…exaggerations, deliberate obfuscations and outright cant such as “porn is a form of human trafficking,” “no person can consent to be a sex worker,” [and] “all sex workers are victims”…Porn, they declare…is not free expression protected by the First Amendment in the U.S. and by long-standing traditions of freedom of speech in other lands.  It is “a public health crisis,” “a drug” and “slavery.”  This language and these notions are, of course, not new.  They have been brewing for years — in some cases decades — in well-funded, religiously-motivated think tanks and lobbies.  These groups literally have an agenda: to shut down, by whatever means necessary, online porn…

To Molest and Rape (#843)

It took four years for a serial rapist to actually be tried. Guess his profession:

Roger Golubski…w[as a Kansas City cop for]…35 years…before retiring in 2010.  But it was[n’t until] 2017, when Lamonte McIntyre was freed from prison after serving 23 years for two murders he did not commit, that [“authorities”] began to…[final]ly [pay attention to stacks of complaints] about the [typical and representative]  cop who…had [used threats and sexual violence to] cultivate…a vast network of informants…Golubski, whose [lies] led McIntyre to prison…used his police badge to [threaten] vulnerable Black women [into submitting to rape] and coerced some of them into fabricating testimony to c[age innocent human being]s he [targe]ted.  In at least one instance, he…repeatedly rap[ed] a woman whose children he’d promised to help get out of legal trouble…[in a hearing for] the civil lawsuit filed by McIntyre and his mother, Rose McIntyre, who[m] the [typical and representative cop brutally raped]…Golubski [took the Fifth]…555 times…the McIntyres’ law[yers demonstrated that]…Golubski’s superiors in the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department [well] kn[e]w…[that he was a serial rapist of women stigmatized as] prostitutes [by the state]…and either look[ed] the other way or tacitly endors[ed the rapes.  Reports of]…Golubski[‘s behavior] date back 25 years…[but] “The Department never accepted] any formal complaints regarding misconduct” [said a spokesow]…the suit names [as accomplices]…Wyandotte County/Kansas City, detectives W.K. Smith, Clyde Blood, James Brown, Dennis Ware and the estates of…[cops] Dennis Barber, Steve Culp and James Krstolich…

Everything Old is New Again (#863)

This absurd language and association of sex work with pizza is not limited to Christian prohibitionists:

It is hard to believe the testimonies of Israeli tourists returning from the UAE, in which they describe Dubai as the Las Vegas of the Middle East…8,000 Israelis travelled to Dubai to celebrate the New Year.  They apparently took hashish and marijuana with them…the…dark reality…[is] gangs of Israeli men who set out for the new holiday destination with prostitution in mind…any Israeli tourist in Dubai can…pay $1,000 and jump into the pool of iniquity…The[y] can sit and eat next to a swimming pool while watching frenzied scenes of sexual activity…”Everything is open, like a menu with pizza toppings”…it is…an extension of the Israeli sex industry, with prostitution apps advertising women…The fruit of normalisation is that Israelis are now heavily involved in the whole shameful business…

The “swimming pool of iniquity” may be my favorite Middle-Eastern ludicrosity since “the dangerous cycle of prostitution”.

I Spy (#1001)

When it comes to mass surveillance, fascism beats communism hands down:

In recent years, [cops] have realized that automobiles — particularly newer models — can be treasure troves of [surveillance data].  Their onboard computers generate and store data that can be used to reconstruct where a vehicle has been and what its passengers were doing.  They reveal everything from location, speed and acceleration to when doors were opened and closed, whether texts and calls were made while the cellphone was plugged into the infotainment system, as well as voice commands and web histories…Privacy4Cars…makes a free app that helps people delete their data from automobiles and makes its money by offering the service to rental companies and dealerships…[Pigs mostly root] in…two main information sources: the telematics system — which is like the “black box” — and the infotainment system.  The telematics system stores a vehicle’s turn-by-turn navigation, speed, acceleration and deceleration information…when and where the lights were switched on, the doors were opened, seat belts were put on and airbags were deployed.  The infotainment system records recent destinations, call logs, contact lists, text messages, emails, pictures, videos, web histories, voice commands and social media feeds.  It can also keep track of the phones that have been connected to the vehicle via USB cable or Bluetooth, as well as all the apps installed on the device…

The Widening Gyre (#1019)

Here’s another entry in the “sex trafficking” scare story invasion of Twitter.  I find them both funny and sad;  funny because Chicken Licken here doen’t realize that there has never been a single case of an adult woman abducted by so-called “sex traffickers” from any public place (much less a crowded retail store), and sad because the hysteria feeds weak-minded panic over ordinary social interactions such as conversation and nodding “hello” to strangers (which I do almost every time I pass someone in public).  Add to that the uncritical acceptance of utterly absurd “King of the Hill” propaganda (“[Atlanta is] the human trafficking capital of the world“) and we have a nearly perfect cross-section of late-stage moral panic; all that’s missing is an actual violent attack on the people to whom she’s attached this waking nightmare.

I Spy (#1035)

I’ve been saying this would happen since politicians started belching about “contact tracing”:

Singapore has admitted data from its Covid contact tracing programme can also be accessed by police…Officials had previously [lied in order to trick as many people as possible into “voluntarily” downloading a surveillance]…programme, which is used to [track people’s movements and] also monitors who [the patsy has] been in contact with…To encourage people to enrol, Singaporean authorities [lied that] the data would never be used for any other purpose…But Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmond Tan told parliament [last week] that it can in fact also be used “for the purpose of criminal investigation”…

Top Cop (#1065)

Sex workers cannot let people who claim to be allies forget about this psychopath, now only an old man’s heartbeat from the power she so desperately craves:

Kamala…Harris’s hatred [of sex workers] goes back to her days as San Francisco District Attorney.  In 2008, Harris opposed a San Francisco ballot initiative to legalize prostitution.  “I think it’s completely ridiculous”…Harris told The New York Times.  She proclaimed the law would roll “a welcome mat out for pimps” and…“compromise…the quality of life in a community.”  In other words, sex work looks terrible.  As a district attorney, senator, and presidential candidate, Harris has trafficked in outdated sex-worker cliches.  Out reports that California Attorney General Harris fought in court in 2015 to ensure the state continued criminalizing sex work…[claiming that] sex…[workers are] disease…[vectors]…

Working From Home (#1079)

When a headline asks a question, the answer is nearly always “no”:

…the great sex boom of 2020…has been…widely publicized.  Outlets that usually skirted such tawdry subjects published how-tos for aspiring online sex workers.  Masturbation made The New York Times headlines, and reports of sex toy sales enjoying a 200 percent increase (tripling in New Zealand) were heard around the world…Then…no matter your age, race, gender or even perceived good looks, for the financially upended by Covid-19, OnlyFans became The Promised Land…and porn began to feel like yesterday’s news…especially once the celebrities caught on.  Bella Thorne elicited immediate backlash from online sex workers after [scamming] a record-breaking $1 million dollars in her first day on the platform…prompting OnlyFans to cap tips and pay-per-view charges.  While the move may have infuriated existing cam girls, it brought the platform widespread attention…

To Molest and Rape (#1098)

Notice how often rapist cops’ victims are underage?

…Chatham County [Georgia cop]…Christopher Crick was [arrested for raping]…a minor…he was booked on three felony charges: aggravated child molestation, sodomy and statutory rape.  The victim is apparently someone previously known to Crick…