Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. – Rita Mae Brown
Twelve updates and four metaupdates.
Acting and Activism (January 8th, 2011)
Yet another actor tries to prop up a sagging career with a flying leap onto the “trafficking” bandwagon: Hong Kong action star Jackie Chan is going to Myanmar this week on a…mission to help combat child trafficking…UNICEF announced…that…Chan will…meet with officials of the Social Welfare Ministry and…police…
Backwards Into the Future (March 30th, 2011)
Add Vietnam to the list of countries which aren’t known for their spectacular record on human rights, yet are doing better on the issue than the US:
The Vietnamese National Assembly recently [voted to stop detaining] thousands of sex workers in so-called rehabilitation facilities where they were held without right of appeal and forced to work (including for private companies) without pay…justice advocates…are hoping that drug detention centers…will follow soon…
Saddest Story of the Month (May 17th, 2011)
A new law…is forcing convicted sex offenders to…move into tents. More than 40 sex offenders at the Hand Up Ministries in Oklahoma City had to move out of trailers on the ministry’s property. The new state law limits the number of sex offenders who can live in one dwelling. Ministry founder David Nichols said without a place to live, many offenders won’t register and could go back to prison…”I don’t think that it’s going to lessen crime any. I think it’s going to increase crime”…
Nichols is correct, but don’t expect the fanatics to listen.
A False Dichotomy (June 22nd, 2011)
So here’s a thing in the Guardian (I hesitate to call a short collection of captioned photos an “article”) about “sex trafficking” in Burkina Faso. Though the author claims that “thousands of girls and women are trafficked from Nigeria to the African hub of Ouagadougou,” and that “many are lured by promises of jobs as hairdressers or nannies,”I was struck by two things: one, that the pictures look to me like any pictures of street or brothel workers in poor countries; and two, that the captions belie the claims of “trafficking”. The caption for the third picture reads, “Juliette, also from Nigeria, has been working at Mercy’s for six years. The 45-year-old sends money home each week to support her four children who live in Benin City.” In other words, she has enough disposable income to support four children, and is free to send it home. The caption for the 12th (and last) picture tells us that “trafficking victims” are free to attend a church whose pastor lectures on the evils of the sex trade, and the one for the 5th is the most telling: “At Mercy’s, women work seven nights a week and pay 2,000 CFA (£2.60) each day to rent a room. Men pay the women 5,000 CFA. This Burkinabe girl has turned up at the brothel looking for work.” In other words the rooms cost these “victims” less than half the price of one call (similar to the rates paid by American hookers), and local girls view it as a worthwhile place to work without being “forced” into it.
If It Were Legal (June 26th, 2011)
Remember that bogus study who authors were so ignorant they equated an increase in ads with migrating whores, and claimed that 0.4% of something constitutes a major fraction? Well, partisan prohibitionists are using it to blame Republicans for “sex trafficking” despite a greater rise in ads during the Democratic convention:
…Huffington Post and Jezebel are running with stories claiming that GOP convention-goers are “hands down” the biggest clients at area strip clubs during political conventions. Along with strip club attendance, conventions also increase prostitution…and child sex trafficking…HuffPo continues…“A Baylor University study found that…conventions ‘increased the count of Craigslist sex worker ads by a substantial amount’”…researchers…found that sex ads increased by between 29% and 44% over their baseline level during 2008′s Republican convention in Minneapolis. Ads increased by between 47% and 77% in Denver, the site of the Democratic convention. Further, the study pointed out that a plurality of convention attendees are members of the media…
Dirty Amateurs (August 17th, 2011)
MTV had the good sense to protect itself against STD-based liability claims from the cast members of Jersey Shore; there oughta be a law that these damned dirty amateurs get checked weekly by a government doctor, and arrested if they test positive.
Higher Education (December 11th, 2011)
A Western Nevada College student claims…that her human sexuality instructor required students to masturbate to pass his class, made them keep sex journals for class discussion, was obsessed with women’s orgasms and told the class “that he will increase their sexual urges to such a height that they won’t be able to think about anything other than sex”…Kubistant told the students that their final exam would be an assignment…which had to address such topics as early sexual exploration, sexual abuse, loss of virginity, homosexual experiences, promiscuity, cheating, arousal, climaxes, masturbation, sexually transmitted diseases and fetishes…
The Course of a Disease (February 16th, 2012)
Feet of Clay (April 5th, 2012)
…In a magnificent essay, “Be Aware: Nick Kristof’s Anti-Politics“, Elliott Prasse-Freeman…summarises Kristof’s oeuvre into a number of precise strokes: “By playing on his audience’s orientalist, classist and racist fantasies, Kristof fabricates legible narratives out of snapshots of distant worlds. He then crafts stunningly simplistic solutions to the seemingly irrevocable problems that plague those backwards places”…
And if you like that one, here are plenty more.
The Notorious Badge (April 9th, 2012)
Sarah Woolley’s excellent article from XOJane explains “Why I Wince Through Hollywood Sex Scenes and Not Porn”:
…if some actors exaggerate their distaste for nudity it’s because they’ve seen what happens to the women who enjoy themselves without penance…And so, a romantic, soft lit, topless scene from a chick flick can unsettle me in ways that a supposedly degrading, adult movie rarely manages to accomplish…I’m not saying that those who willingly participate in uncomfortable scenes are victims because…they get the last say on that matter. However, I would rather watch the person who isn’t trying to numb things out with a bottle of vodka. I’m not naive enough to think that sex workers are free from shitty days at the office but, given their job description, I’m less likely to be watching someone wary of getting their front bottom out, than if I were watching a mainstream actress in a sex scene…If a sex worker speaks out on slipping standards it is correct to condemn the appropriate parties but it is usually an entire industry that is maligned in the process. If a mainstream actor brings a drink on set in brown paper (keeping the latter to hyperventilate into later) we applaud her for her craft and possibly chuck an award her way…
First They Came for the Hookers… (June 5th, 2012)
…Connecting funding for victims of sexual assault to strip clubs is the primary reason I don’t like these taxes. It is absolutely offensive to have the government tell us that we—or, rather, our customers—are responsible for rape and domestic violence, and that we should be taxed specifically for that purpose…While strip clubs are certainly a luxury expense…There is…no guarantee that the taxes will be collected from patrons since the tax is on the clubs, not the customers. This means there’s a good chance that the fees dancers pay to work will go up to cover the club’s tax bill…Tracy Clark-Flory wrote about the latest round of state pole taxes at Salon, and spoke with anthropologist Judith Lynne Hanna…[who has criticized] the faulty “secondary effects” studies that blames strip clubs for increasing crime and breaks it down for the propaganda it is. I wrote about the myth of secondary effects here after the Texas Supreme Court’s decision came down, and it’s good they’re being exposed for the shoddy research they are…
The Widening Gyre (July 6th, 2012)
Even though the law’s supporters say “We simply cannot have drivers knowingly profiting from the sex trade, willingly taking prostitutes from john to john, job to job,” we’re also supposed to believe this:
Cabbies can pick up all the scantily clad women they want without worrying about being charged with promoting prostitution, Mayor Bloomberg declared…“There’s no penalty for transporting a prostitute or decoy, but only for knowingly engaging in a sex-trafficking operation”…the mayor said…City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras…sponsor of the legislation, said such fears were overblown because her bill was targeted at a small number of cabbies involved in hooker rings…“It’s not the majority of drivers. However, when you have a young girl being driven to 30, 40, 50 johns a night, it is a very big problem.”
Obviously third-grade math skills and a sense of the size of one’s own city are not requirements for a position on the New York city council.
…leading urban planning expert…Paul Maginn said the government’s …reform bill…would do little to move prostitution out of the suburbs. “If you look historically…the sex industry is quite adaptive…they’ll still continue, it’s not going to be eradicated”…Maryanne Kenworthy, owner of the Langtrees brothels in Perth and Kalgoorlie, supports Mr Maginn’s claim…”This government is trying to stamp out escorts, which no country in the world has successfully done…Instead, the industry is going to go completely underground…How many of WA’s 4000 sex workers are going to get a commercial industrial area to work out of? None, they can’t afford to, it costs half a million dollars just to get council approval”…
Zahia Dehar isn’t doing too badly for a “trafficked child”: “There aren’t many fashion designers who can say they got their starts as underage prostitutes. But Zahia Dehar…first earned her fame as the center of a high-profile sex scandal involving three elite European soccer players in 2010…[then] crossed over into fashion, earning praise from Karl Lagerfeld and a cover shoot for V‘s Spain edition…”
The Guyana Government today denounced the latest installation of the US State Department report on trafficking in persons…“The Report fails to establish not one single fact. The Task Force notes several inaccuracies and misrepresentations in the Report that must be addressed. What is clear is that the architects of this Report have not made significant progress in improving the veracity, coherence and validity of their annual assessments. The Ministerial Task Force denounces the Report since it comprises unsubstantiated generalisations and repetitive uncorroborated claims. The Task Force strongly recommends that the US State Department seek to improve its methodology, establish proper baselines to guide comparisons, avoid use of anecdotal claims and develop a consistent, understandable, transparent and logical tier ranking system if countries are to benefit from these rituals…”
Wendy Lyon takes a detailed look at the report which inspired Norway’s minister for social affairs to call for the Swedish Model to be scrapped; she discovers that besides the problems we’ve already discussed, the model literally forces sex workers into the street and promotes pimping.
One Year Ago Today
“Imaginary Lines” argues in favor of loosened immigration restrictions, and points out how the current situation helps to drive “trafficking” hysteria.