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Links #433

Look what I got for show-and-tell today.  –  “Deputy” Ricky Paurus

Amy Winfrey of Making Fiends is back with a new series, and here’s the first episode!  The links above it were provided by Wendy LyonPopehatThaddeus RussellTim CushingPhoenix Calida, and Radley Balko, in that order.

From the Archives

In the News (#881)

Fraudulently achieving sexual intercourse…constitutes rape.
–  Judge Hilary Penfold

Schadenfreude 

Despite the title of this subsection, I take no joy in reporting the horrible abuse perpetrated on young Liberian girls by the rescue industry group “More Than Me”:

…The charity would raise over $8 million, including almost $600,000 from the U.S. government. [Katie] Meyler would…rub shoulders with Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey, and even get invited to the Obama White House.  MTM’s footprint in Liberia would multiply to 19 schools teaching 4,000 students.  Yet some of the girls…[were not] saved from sexual exploitation, [but rather] being raped by the man standing beside Meyler on the stage.  His assaults went on for years and…he was protected by his position…he and Meyler had had an intimate relationship, and she kept him in place even after having reason to suspect his predilections.  But he was also shielded from exposure in the community by everything that she had brought: a school, scholarships and, above all, hope.  After his crimes became known…the charity worked to obscure the details and to place responsibility almost anywhere but with Meyler or MTM…They argued that the good they had done in Liberia more than made up for any harm…

Legal Is as Legal Does (#20)

As silly as this may seem, it’s an example of the kind of arbitrary control Turkish brothel owners exercise:

Three prostitutes sued a bordello that fired them…[for] feeding stray cats…in the Turkish province of Erdine…One of the prostitutes, Mürvet Taşvur, claimed:  “They fired us and kicked us out of the apartment due to us looking after the animals.  They shot one of our cats with a pump shotgun, he’s named Kinah.  He’s still alive with 11 pellets in his body.”  The three prostitutes filed a complaint to the Edrine Chief Persecutor’s Office…

King of the Hill

It’s fascinating to watch the various ways in which states try to claim the top spots in the “sex trafficking” pissing contest:

A new report…reveals Florida ranks third in the nation for active sex and labor trafficking cases being prosecuted in federal court…[prohibitionist] Alyssa Beck…said…“Jacksonville has a lot of hotels and also I-95 runs right through…So, it’s really just easy access to a lot of different things that traffickers may need”…

Micromanagement

Any new technology which can be used to spy on you, will be:

A new study argues that more than half of Americans could be identified by name if all you had to start with was a sample of their DNA and a few basic facts, such as the region where they live and about how old they might be…once 3 million Americans have uploaded their genomes to public genealogy websites, nearly everyone in the U.S. would be identifiable by their DNA alone and just a few additional clues.  More than 1 million Americans have already published their genetic information, and dozens more do so every day…This new reality represents the convergence of two long-standing trends.  One of them is the rise of direct-to-consumer genetic testing. Companies such as Ancestry.com and 23andMe can sequence anyone’s DNA for about $100.  All you have to do is provide a sample of saliva and drop it in the mail.  The other essential element is the proliferation of publicly searchable genealogy databases like GEDmatch.  Anyone can upload a full genome to these sites and powerful computers will crunch through it, looking for stretches of matching DNA sequences that can be used to build out a family tree…

Rough Trade (#513)

Yes, this is absolutely rape.  No, I don’t want to “discuss” it:

In some jurisdictions, courts have found that when a person cons a sex worker – refuses or evades the agreed payment for sex – such acts constitute rape, because consent for the sexual act was obtained fraudulently.  But [in other places such attackers are only]…convicted of fraud [if tried at all]…Experts and sex worker groups…believe such cases clearly constitute rape and say parts of Australia’s justice system still fail to properly deal with offenders who fraudulently obtain the consent of sex workers…many [of whom] fear…[going] to the police, and [a]re often not treated as sexual assault victims if they [do]…studies [also] show…sentencing [is] also comparatively low for men who…sexually assault…sex workers…[in a recent] case [in]…Queensland…the man was charged with two counts of fraud…and was ordered to pay $350 restitution to each woman and was fined $750 for each offence.  But…In the ACT, a similar set of circumstances led to a rape conviction for…Akis Emmanouel Livas…gave the woman a sealed envelope…[claiming] the full amount owed was inside, but [pretending]…“it’s part of my fantasy that it’s all about the romance and I need you to trust me”…Livas physically blocked her from opening the envelope…Eventually, she discovered there was no money inside…

In the US, most sex workers who report rape are arrested and charged with prostitution, and their rapes are ignored.

Guinea Pigs (#630) 

Remember: they say it’s about “pimps”, but really it’s about sex workers and clients today, and about everybody once they get it perfected:

Minerva [software] helps NCMEC find information in large, hard to search data sets.  Specifically, Minerva has helped NCMEC locate additional phone numbers in online advertisements and further analyze who that phone might be registered to, which can lead to possible current location for the [targeted sex worker]…with human trafficking, there are bad guys acting with malice…Minerva has now identified 989 individual [sex workers] and is tracking 22,000 more…

Signs (#813) 

“Sex trafficking” provides a new excuse for cops to use the same old bogus “evidence” to harass women:

It’s possible Amaya could have escaped sooner than she did, at 24 years old, had [cops] been trained to look for the warning signs of trafficking:  Maybe she had no identification…Did she avoid eye contact with [pigs]?  Was her purse full of condoms?  Was she really as old she claimed to be?  These are just a few of the many [excuses cops]…across the country are being trained to [employ].  The increased awareness and training reflects a shift as law enforcement agencies [use]…the [excuse of “sex trafficking” to]…arrest…prostitutes…

First They Came for the Hookers… (#840)

Stripping is no different from prostitution; say nothing when they attack the latter, expect them to come for the former:

…the government is…mulling rules for Malta’s strip-club industry which could ban the use of private rooms and…allow pole dancers only to be naked on stage…private dancing rooms will no longer be allowed, which previously meant that customers could get private dancers but also negotiate prices for sexual favours…There will also be restrictions on advertising outdoors [and] new zoning guidelines that could prevent such clubs from appearing within a certain distance of schools or places of worship…

Disaster (#853)

Another “monkey see, monkey do” FOSTA copycat:

The [South Korean] government plans to strengthen its monitoring of websites linked to prostitution and sex trafficking,…to control the websites and prevent prostitution…The ministry will develop a large data-based artificial intelligence program to monitor the prostitution situation in the country.  When the program is operational, the websites will be shut down and the operators warned of relevant punishment.  The government believes it is important to take pre-emptive actions against the sites because they lead many people to start paying for sex…

Gee, it’s almost like governments don’t like the open internet.

Fair-Weather Friends (#859)

Every sex worker arrested in a “sting” should sue the cops if at all possible:

Ohio police spent $768 on strip club tickets, tips, and booze during a July sting that ended in the arrest of Stormy Daniels…The undercover excursion could wind up costing cops a whole lot more than that.  The charges filed against Daniels and two other women arrested that night, Miranda Panda and Brittany Walters, were quickly dismissed.  Now Panda and Walters have sued several Columbus [cops] in federal court, arguing that the arrests were politically motivated.  As a result…Panda and Walters…suffered reputational harm and exposure to harassment.  Someone painted the word whore across the door of Panda’s home, for example, and reporters outed Walters as a stripper to her immediate family.  The women are seeking at least $50,000 in compensatory and punitive damages, plus attorneys’ fees…

Disaster (#878)

Mark Draughn does not see any good coming out of the FOSTA Facebook suit:

…I’m not…optimistic…about Facebook coming under attack in the sex trafficking panic.  I agree…that Facebook is going to throw money, lawyers, and lobbyists at the problem, and they’ll come out of this just fine.  But I’m not convinced that Facebook’s victory will be a victory for sex workers.  That’s because I expect Facebook to work toward a[n]…outcome [that will only benefit Facebook].  Their lobbyists and lawyers will offer their expertise at social media to work with Congress to help craft the most effective legislation for “protecting vulnerable people”…Facebook, with $40 billion a year or so in revenue, could easily afford to create a department and hire 10 or 20 people to comply with a law like that, as could many of the other social media giants.  But a lot of smaller businesses would be casualties, not all of them escort advertising sites…

Wendy McElroy is a respected anarchist writer whose work I’ve linked on a number of occasions.  Six years ago I linked the following piece in one of my earliest link columns, but when I recently went to look for it I found the link was no longer good; however, Wendy was kind enough to provide a copy and permission to reprint it.  It expresses some ideas I’ve written about many times in a way that perhaps may help you to understand them a bit more deeply.

I am not talking about spousal abuse.  I mean the abuse heaped upon you by the United States government.  The parallels are striking.

America claims to own you and, so, you pay a heavy price for leaving as an expat.  It cruelly invades your breasts and genitals through pat-downs at the airport.  Then it does the same to your children.  America swears it is protecting you while violating your rights at every turn; and you have become so brainwashed that you now mistake a fist in your face for safety.  There is no respect and no honesty in the relationship the government offers you – only a self-serving contempt that erupts into violence.  Your response is to return a love of country along with the money you earn, all the while making excuses for America’s bad behavior.  Or, perhaps, you even defend America to critics.

I know how you feel.  I was once in such an abusive domestic relationship that I am now legally blind in one eye from a fist in the face.  After I managed enough self-respect to leave, one question haunted me.  Why did I stay?  Why would an otherwise independent woman allow herself to be literally beaten up when there were options?

The reasons are similar to why people stay in America.  He expressed regret and swore he would make it up to me; I wanted to believe him because the love of a person diminishes slowly.  He vowed to change; I hoped we could go back to before he exerted soul-crushing control of who I was and what I could do.  I was frightened to be without him because I believed both his attacks on my self-worth and the pumped-up version of his own value.  Besides which, leaving meant severing ties with close friends who would be called upon to take sides.

America is doing much the same to you.  Officials mouth regret at violations like a ruinous tax burden and, then, they offer you entitlements with your own money.  You stay because love of a country also diminishes slowly.  America promises to change and you remember what “the land of the free” used to feel like; it was intoxicating.  You now believe you are powerless while the government is a relentless Goliath.  Besides which, leaving would mean moving away from family and friends.

But walking away was one of the best things I’ve ever done.  It was also one of the most difficult.  Despite my fears, however, I met someone else who taught me that love did not have to be packaged in bruises and pain.

There are places in the world that want you and they offer you respect instead of victimization.  For example, a few months ago, Panama adopted a policy to make residency faster and easier for you.  Executive Order 343 explicitly lists citizens of the United States as being welcome on its soil.  In short, Panama created an entirely new immigration sub-category for you.

The first step toward personal or political self-respect is to explore your options.  You may not choose to walk out the door but at least you will know where it is and how to turn the handle.

R.I.P. Dennis Hof

Dennis Hof, owner of half of the brothels in Nevada, died early Tuesday morning, apparently of natural causes; he was 72.  I have never hidden my deep dislike for the man, who is still the only male member of my Hall of Shame; that dislike is inextricably bound up with my deep dislike for the exploitative fascist system which made him both wealthy and infamous (and it’s impossible to say which of those he relished more).  The state of Nevada, as I’ve written before,

…is [no] more whore-friendly than any other American state…unless one considers a poultry factory-farmer to be a “friend” of chickens…[it] allow[s] a small number of politically-connected cronies to run brothel ranches (switching from one kind of livestock to another) out in the desert far from human habitation (so the “sex rays” from diseased harlots don’t contaminate real people)…like a collection of mummified monsters and pickled curiosities in a roadside tourist trap, and to harshly persecute any who dare show themselves in town.

Now, it’s absolutely true that there would be nothing immoral about the Nevada system as long as whores had a free choice whether to work there or not; furthermore, the restrictions of the Nevada system are largely state-imposed and not the fault of Hof or other brothel owners.  I’ve never worked in one of the Nevada brothels myself because I refuse to submit to being treated like a criminal, so I have no firsthand experience in what Hof was like as a boss (and the varying opinions I’ve heard from women who have basically average out to “he was no worse than the others”).  So my revulsion has nothing to do with the brothel system itself or what he was like as an employer, but rather with his opportunistic promotion of “sex trafficking” hysteria (which he privately admitted to me that he knew to be bullshit), the “dirty whore” myth, and the notion that women are too stupid, weak and incompetent to be trusted to manage our own sexual behavior.  I was also disgusted by his deep hypocrisy (claiming to be a libertarian while participating in a crony system, supporting Donald Trump, cuddling up to the vile Joe Arpaio, and revering the word “legal” as though it were a cultic totem) and his relentless and distasteful self-promotion.

That having been said, it’s also true that Hof’s participation in the reality series Cathouse probably served to demystify at least one kind of sex work to hundreds of thousands of people; that his businesses provided jobs to hundreds of sex workers and support staff; and that regardless of my personal opinion of him, he was liked and even loved by many of his employees, business contacts and others, including several people (such as my friend Christina Parreira and 1st amendment powerhouse Marc Randazza) I like and respect very much.  Furthermore, though some of the recent attacks on Nevada brothels were obviously retribution for his political activity, others had nothing to do with him personally and his notoriety and local popularity may have helped fend them off; now that he’s dead the whore-haters may redouble their efforts, and there’s no telling what effect Nevada’s deeply weird licensing laws may have on the fate of many, many people’s livelihoods.

There are people I know who are celebrating his death, and others who are mourning it; personally, I’m glad we won’t have to endure his signal-boosting of prohibitionist lies, but I’m also worried about the future of the women who work in brothels in general and his brothels in particular.  In short, Hof was a complex, often maddening man in life, and his death has left a situation that’s equally complex and maddening.

In the News (#880)

Apparently after reading the introduction to an Econ 101 textbook, many…believe the best way to eliminate the supply of sex trafficking victims is to end the demand for paid sex.  –  Eric Sprankle

The Course of a Disease (#344)

Indian sex workers often use Durga Puja as an occasion to protest tyranny:

A street graffiti dedicated to the life and struggle of the sex workers was unveiled by a Durga Puja organiser in…Kolkata…The graffiti, painted on a 300 [foot] stretch of road [near Sonagachi]…tells the tale of hardships and the circumstances that force a woman…into the flesh trade…soil from a brothel is an essential ingredient for the making of a Durga idol…”We are really happy that such a theme has been taken up by the puja committee depicting our lives and struggles,” Santana Das of Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee said…

Don’t Call It Trafficking 

Remember, this isn’t “human trafficking”, but consensual sex is:

…one foster family’s initially successful attempt to win full custody of [a child abducted by ICE pigs]…reveals what could happen to some of the infants, children and teens taken from their families at the border…this year.  The “zero-tolerance” crackdown ended in June, but hundreds of children remain in detention, shelters or foster care and U.S. officials [have arbitrarily declared that] more than 200 are not eligible for reunification or release.  Federal officials [claim] they are reuniting families…but an Associated Press investigation…identified holes in the system that allow state court judges to grant custody of migrant children to American families — without notifying their parents.  And today, with hundreds of those mothers and fathers deported thousands of miles away, the risk has grown exponentially…

Also note: this policy did not originate with Trump; it’s been going on under every president since the ’80s.

Torture Chamber (#421) 

Cops can be fired for consensual sex, but not for torturing people to death:

A former [screw] is set to lose his job as a cop after it was revealed he was hired despite locking a mentally ill prisoner in a scalding hot shower until he died.  Roland Clarke only resigned…two years after he forced Darren Rainey into the shower…in 2012…Clarke was never charged with a crime and…[almost immediately] began working as a [pig] for the Miami Gardens Police Department…Now, thanks to a new report from the Miami New Times, the city…is trying to get [rid of]…Clarke, who has racked up a number of violations…[for being] “distasteful”…[including] repeatedly visiting a woman…at her home while…on duty…

In the US, a pig can be as dangerously violent and psychopathic as he wants, as long as he does it tastefully.  For another violent uniformed psychopath from Miami, see “To Molest and Rape” below.

Traffic Jam (#534)

Schools are rewarded for “finding” what the government wants found:

Social media is increasingly being exploited to contact, recruit and sell children for sex, according to a study by The University of Toledo Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute.  The study, which was [commissioned] by the Ohio Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Commission, [spins tales about] how traffickers quickly target and connect with vulnerable children on the Internet through social media…Through a series of 16 in-depth interviews…with…[cops], judges, [rescue profiteers, prohibitionists], and [corrupt academics]…the [fantasies] outline…how [authoritarians fantasize about people having sex with teens]…The [so-called] experts…identities are not being released…

WTF? Interviewing 16 anonymous pigs, prohibitionists and profiteers about their masturbatory fantasies about sex workers is not anything remotely like a “study”.  But the government doesn’t care as long as the “researchers” come to the correct conclusions, and Ohio is one of the states whose “educational institutions” are sufficiently corrupt for the task (others include Pennsylvania and Arizona).

Finding What Isn’t There (#559)

Michigan has decided to increase its “sex trafficking” numbers by inventing imaginary “victims”:

One hundred and twenty-three missing Michigan minors were [supposedly] found during a one-day “sex trafficking operation”…[but actually] only three of the minors are even suspected of having been involved in prostitution…What’s more, all but four of the “missing children” were not actually missing.  In the remaining [119] cases, minors were listed in a police database as missing but had since been found or returned home on their own…Many were (homeschooled)…Some were runaways…Nothing in the U.S. Marshals report on the operation makes mention of any arrested kidnappers, “traffickers”, or other adults involved in endangering or exploiting any of the missing minors that were identified…

The Punitive Mindset (#600) 

If there’s anything narrower and meaner than the mind of a prison official, I’m not sure what it might be:

A new policy has put Pennsylvania prisoners’ communications under intense surveillance in the [pretense] of stopping contraband drugs [which are in reality smuggled in by screws for a price]…all incoming mail would be sent to a private company in Florida, Smart Communications, for scanning into a searchable database.  Prisoners would then receive photocopies of the incoming mail—and the originals would be shredded.  The DOC has also banned prisoners from receiving books from vendors…Instead, prisoners will have the option of paying for ebooks via [substandard] tablets that cost over $147 each…the Amistad Law Project…said the new policy will most likely result in self-censorship…and…has effectively ended mailed communication between lawyers and their clients because they cannot guarantee confidentiality…

The Puritan Recrudescence

Government thinks it can make any statement true simply by declaring it in a law:

…when I dug…into SF 2554, what I found wasn’t a law which links porn to human trafficking, but an embedded assumption that the two are fundamentally linked…being introduced into an existing state law by…changes to statutory language…the bill…adds “possession of pornographic work involving minors” and “harmful materials; dissemination and display to minors prohibited” to a list of crimes which the Minnesota government requires specified governmental and nongovernmental agencies to report on…In other words, what this law does to “link” pornography to human trafficking simply is to declare such a link exists

Unsurprisingly, the law was written by a religious anti-porn group.

To Molest and Rape 

Do I really need to say, “Don’t date one, either”?

Before a Miami-Dade [SWAT pig] was [arrested for] molesting a young girl, he was [given a pass by] his own department…[for] beat[ing] and abus[ing] his…lovers…two…women [reported that] Braulio Gonzalez [was] exceedingly jealous and pointed weapons at them, threatening their lives…he choked [one of them] and head-butted her so hard it broke her nose…[he] threw a bottle of whiskey at [anot]her and broke her arm.  A third woman also complained…about his…abuse…and [the department ruled he] had not followed proper procedure [in abusing her]…in [the latest totally]…related case…Gonzalez [was charged] with armed kidnapping and lewd and lascivious molestation of a child…[after] a young girl told a psychologist that Gonzalez fondled her repeatedly when she was between 8 and 10 years old…pointed a gun at her head and threatened to kill a relative unless she [submitted]…His domestic [violence was] well-known within the department…

The Widening Gyre (#703)

I really hope abusers keep using “sex trafficking” to justify their abuse:

…21-year-old…Whitney Harris made the long flight to India to meet 20-year-old Pulkit Monga, a man she’d connected with online two years prior.  “I left to India to meet my friend and to get away from my abusive mother and grandmother who have mentally and emotionally abused me all my life,” Harris [said]…The family…first had a Christian minister in the city of Amritsar “intercept” her and then came to collect her themselves 10 days later…Harris’ mother Destiny and father Brett met Monga’s hospitable parents who took them to holy sites and restaurants — all while “slandering” [their hosts] behind their backs…Harris agreed to buy a return plane ticket to assuage their concerns, but before she was able to book it, “her mother allegedly sent a letter to the local Indian police claiming that Pulkit was a rapist, had drugged their daughter and was a sex trafficker”…After Harris and the Mongas were interrogated by police, the young woman’s family conspired with people from the local Christian church to get her to the airport and out of the country…Harris refused to see her parents upon arrival back home in Alabama — and is working to reunite with Monga as soon as she can…

Pyrrhic Victory (#849)

Once men turned their thinking over to machines in the hope that this would set them free.  But that only permitted other men with machines to enslave them.”

…the Law Enforcement Data Service, a new super-database for [UK] police…would combine the current Police National Computer…and the Police National Database (PND)…with others at a later date.  It would include sensitive information on victims and on people unrelated to or cleared of wrongdoing.  The UK government has accepted that large amounts of data on the super-database would have nothing to do with crime, and intends to open up access to other organisations, such as the UK Border Force…the actions of the Home Office…have been repeatedly ruled unlawful in various cases regarding unlawful retention of surveillance or biometric data…the proposed database…contents would never expire or be removed – and the police have admitted that various types of data it has no legal right to hold will be transferred to the new database too…

Dangerous Speech

The government keeps making up new rules in its war on thought:

Federal prosecutors in the Backpage case appear to be employing a strangulation strategy:  Swipe the defendants’ money, then go after their lawyers…federal prosecutors…[tried] to disqualify a team of First Amendment lawyers from…Davis Wright Tremaine…[while] a federal judge in California has yet to rule on motions in which the defendants have challenged the asset seizures…on First Amendment grounds…Davis Wright’s First Amendment duo of Robert Corn-Revere and Jim Grant have successfully defended Backpage and its former owners from criminal and civil claims arising from adult advertising that appeared on the website.  Invoking both the First Amendment and Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996…Davis Wright has rebuffed criminal indictments, overturned adverse rulings on appeal, and nullified laws in three states, in cases involving allegations that Backpage promoted prostitution…and/or sex trafficking…Lacey and Larkin sold their interests in Backpage to CEO Carl Ferrer in 2015, but Davis Wright continued to represent Backpage and all three men.  Six days after seizing Backpage, the government revealed that it had secretly flipped Ferrer…Davis Wright has since withdrawn from representing Ferrer and Backpage…government attorneys argued that Davis Wright can no longer continue to represent [Lacey & Larkin]…because to do so would violate Arizona’s rules of professional conduct for lawyers, which forbid attorneys from representing clients whose interests are adverse to a former client…But defense lawyers pointed out that Ferrer had waived all attorney-client privilege in his deal with the government, and additionally, that he’d previously signed three joint defense agreements with Lacey and Larkin, allowing Davis Wright to remain as counsel if Ferrer withdrew from the pact…[in another example of misconduct] the government supplied the defense with 10.5 million documents in “an unusual format”…requir[ing] the use of special software that could result in up to $800,000 in costs, not including the hours that attorneys will have to devote to making sense of the information…

Though the judge seemed cowed by prosecutors, he nonetheless ruled against the attempt to disqualify the attorneys not on constitutional rounds, but rather on the grounds that prosecutors willfully ignored Ferrer’s waiver of privilege.

Traffic Circle (#876)

It’s wonderful that so many academic allies are debunking the hysteria:

…a billboard…in Two Harbors, Minnesota [became] the latest example of the ad nauseam awareness campaigns…that perpetuate the moral panic surrounding sex trafficking by conflating it with sex work.  The billboard warns “johns” to “end the demand” because “we’re someone’s children” and includes a police lineup photo of a chef, physician, a snowmobiler, a flannel-clad “every man,” and a college graduate, which could be used as an album cover for a Village People cover band.  Given that the billboard also features an ominous photo of two people in hoodies sitting with their backs turned, it left many wondering what it’s trying to communicate…maybe passing motorists will get the general gist that northern Minnesotans need to end the demand for sex trafficking because trafficking affects “someone’s children”…The Lake County Sex Trafficking Task Force celebrated the billboard’s unveiling, stating that the installation was the “fulfillment of a 4-5 year dream.”  Not to piss on anyone’s parade, but a billboard, in Two Harbors, was not only someone’s dream, but took 4 to 5 years to fulfill?  I guess if you dream to reach the stars, you’ll at least land 20 feet above Highway 61…

Diary #433

Here’s another month whooshing by, and my brain still hasn’t quite recovered from summer yet.  But I managed to break out of my inertia a little, starting a couple of projects I’ve been putting off for a while (such as a new and much-longer-than-usual story which I hope to have ready for your reading pleasure before Halloween).  Grace and Chekhov have been finishing up a number of projects at Sunset (such as re-waterproofing roofs just in time for the rainy season), and on Saturday Grace sent me the materials estimate for the floor-leveling project, which doesn’t look nearly as bad as I had feared.  It would be kinda nice if we could finish at least one aspect of this relocation for dramatically less money than expected; the initial estimate from contractors for the repair was $20,000, but Grace’s estimate is only about $5000-$7000, largely because A) no extra labor cost, and B) no profit margin.  That would be especially great, because by a shitty coincidence the move itself cost me $20,000 more than expected.  And once the floor is fixed, she can get working on the bookshelves I’ve been wanting for the past 16 years.  Ah, well; patience, they say, is a virtue.  I wouldn’t go that far, but it’s certainly a survival skill.

Readers whose sexuality is primarily vanilla may be unfamiliar with the kink term “topping from the bottom”, but it isn’t difficult to explain.  A “top” is the dominant or active partner in a scene and “topping” is acting as a top (ie dominating, putting the other in bondage, inflicting pain, etc); a “bottom” is the submissive or receptive partner and “bottoming” is the act of being tied up, having pain inflicted, etc.  “Topping from the bottom” is when the bottom keeps trying to run the scene, sometimes by sabotaging the top’s efforts (such as by fucking up a task on purpose so as to draw down punishment) and sometimes by volunteering what they want to do in faux-submissive language (“Let me please you by…” etc).  Now, obviously an ethical kink interaction is a mutual one in which both partners get their needs met, but the place for that is in the negotiation before the scene; if things during the scene become too intense or otherwise go south, the partners usually have a prearranged “safeword” which acts as a panic button.  For a bottom to “safe out” or express their needs and desires before or after a scene (eg “next time I’d like such-and-such”) is not topping from the bottom; the term is reserved for those who say they want to let go of control, but in actuality refuse to.  Sometimes it’s a subtle behavior and sometimes an overt one, but it’s always annoying, and I find it’s much more common in male bottoms.  Maybe that’s because guys are less able to control their sexual impulses, and maybe it’s because they’re used to making sexual demands of women and can’t let that go even when their sexuality is masochistic or “submissive”.  But whatever the reason, I know it’s not just me because I’ve heard many complaints from dommes about such behaviors, and every freaking week I see guys on Twitter with “slave” or “sissy” or “submissive” or whatever in their handles attempting to “correct” or argue with me or even with clearly-declared professional dominatrices.  Another (and IMHO even more egregious) form of this is the behavior Matisse calls “bottoming at” someone; this is when a self-declared bottom violates a top’s boundaries by enacting “submissive” behavior toward her without any kind of prior negotiation or consent (Matisse has told the story of a complete stranger who once came up to her in a very public place, got on his knees and started loudly addressing her as “Mistress”; needless to say she was mortified).

The reason I’ve explained all this is because of the recent mess involving the “Shitty Media Men” list, an attempt to create something like the DNS (“Do Not See”) lists used by sex workers, only for amateurs.  Unfortunately, because amateurs do not understand the need for discretion as pros do, and because the circulation of the list included female reporters, the list went public and its originator was outed within twelve hours despite the instructions “Please never name an accuser, and please never share this document with a man” clearly appearing at the top.  Even then, the damage might’ve been limited to some argumentation and finger-pointing which would’ve died down and sank into the greater “Me Too” pool within a few weeks if not for the antics of one of the men on the list, a writer named Stephen Elliott who attempted to defend himself in an essay thus:

My entry reads: “Rape accusations, sexual harassment, coercion, unsolicited invitations to his apartment…”  I was shocked to find myself accused of rape.  I don’t like intercourse, I don’t like penetrating people with objects, and I don’t like receiving oral sex.  My entire sexuality is wrapped up in BDSM.  Cross-dressing, bondage, masochism.  I’m always the bottom.  I’ve been in long romantic relationships with women without ever seeing them naked…I’ve never had sex with anyone who works in media.  I am not seeking to come out about my sexuality as a means of creating a diversion…I’ve always been open about my sexuality, and I have even written entire books on the topic

I don’t know Elliott, and I’ve never met him, but a number of sex workers I follow on Twitter have, and apparently he’s infamous among American professional dommes for…well, shitty sexual behavior (including bottoming at them).  But even had I not heard any of these stories, I’d still be inclined to point out that his “I can’t possibly have sexually harassed women because I’m a bottom” holds about as much water as the average colander.  As I described in the first paragraph, “submissive” men are quite capable of being creepy, pushy and even threatening, especially for vanilla women who don’t understand the dynamic; Elliott writes “I am not seeking to…creat[e] a diversion,” but that’s exactly what he’s trying to do.  Like so many bad male bottoms, he’s trying to get his way by being manipulative and then retreating behind “but I’m a slaaaaaaave!” when called on it.  But Mr. Too-Submissive-To-Be-a-Creep wasn’t content to just whine about how he’s a victim; he decided to weaponize that victimhood:

Stephen Elliott…is suing Moira Donegan, the creator of the Shitty Media Men List for libel and emotional distress…and is seeking at least $1.5 million in damages…According to the suit, Elliott also intends to sue other women who contributed to the Google spreadsheet (who he names as “Jane Does”), which briefly circulated last October and contained the names of over of 70 men who were anonymously accused of sexual misconduct, ranging from rape to harassment…Elliott intends to subpeona the Google metadata for the list in order to obtain this information…Elliott has acquired attorney Andrew Miltenberg…who has made a name for himself defending men accused of sexual assault…Elliott’s suit is the only legal action to have taken place in the aftermath of the controversial spreadsheet…

The New York Times story on the suit adds the telling detail that “Mr. Elliott is asking the court to order that the defendants ‘issue a written retraction to each and every person to whom they originally published the false and defamatory statements’,” a demand which only makes sense when one notes its resemblance to punishwork that a teacher might inflict on a misbehaving student (or a domme on a sub in a school role-play), a pointless and repetitive task intended to accomplish nothing but humiliation.  Elliott’s every action, from the tales I’ve heard of his behavior in person to his article to this lawsuit, looks like part of a strategy to cloak sexual demands behind a veneer of submission, weakness or victimhood.  It’s like a real-world version of topping from the bottom, and what he’s trying to accomplish is nothing less than scaring amateur women out of warning each other about shitty men like him.