We should…be open for the possibility that prostitutes are harmed, not because prostitution is harmful, but because society at present seriously wrongs prostitutes. – Ole Moen
The Naked Anthropologist
Dr. Laura Agustín recently uploaded this video of a talk she gave in 2010 which synopsizes in just a few minutes a number of her most important observations on the roots of “sex trafficking” mythology, agency denial, the rescue industry and more. Her influence on me and many other writers on this subject cannot possibly be overstated, and if you don’t read her blog you really should.
A new study looked at escort board postings and concludes what I and other escorts have said many times and people like Melissa Farley deny: that many clients really feel a sense of emotional intimacy with some escorts:
…Christine Milrod and co-author Ronald Weitzer analyzed 2,442 postings on…a sex provider review site…Approximately one-third included a discussion about emotional intimacy between sex workers and their clients…“In recent years, we have come to see a gradual normalization of independent escort prostitution, where sexual encounters have come to resemble quasi-dating relationships,” stated…Milrod. “Our study shows that regular clients of a particular sex provider often come to experience feelings of deep affection, which can progress into an authentic love story”…The study uncovered feelings ranging from “counterfeit intimacy” to “authentic emotional bonds” between many prostitutes and their respective customers…
This is one way to deal with an extortionist, though the idiot is lucky he wasn’t arrested as well. What I’m wondering, though, is why she stuck around after he called the cops? “Police in Ann Arbor [Michigan] say they took a call from a man who was upset that the price he agreed to pay for prostitution services had increased…the…19-year-old woman he had contacted online…upped the cost after taking his money…the woman was arrested and the man wasn’t…[after they] gave vastly different accounts of what happened…”
Here’s a new slideshow of the “most stressful jobs in America”; notice that NO sex work jobs are on the list, despite prohibitionist claims of PTSD and other such nonsense.
“Marc McAndrews…visited the legal brothels in 11 Nevada counties over a period of five years [to create]…the book Nevada Rose, which documents these brothels and their workers, owners and customers. What he uncovered was a view of prostitution that didn’t adhere to culturally appointed preconceptions: of sex work as a living as humdrum as any other…” Unfortunately the article credits the Nevada brothel system, reserving the typical insults and libel for independents. But you’ve got to start somewhere, and this is a big improvement over the typical New York Times “sex trafficking” lies.
It’s hilarious to watch Swedes trying to reconcile the “whore as criminal” and “whore as victim” myths:
Prostitutes in Stockholm are using short-term rented apartments to sell sex, which is proving to be a difficult case for police…and a bitter pill…for the holidaying homeowners…who…are completely unaware of what’s going on…One woman…[said] “It felt disgusting. I wanted to just burn the bed and move house…[but] when you get a little perspective on things – I’m not actually the victim here. I think of how the girls have ended up as prostitutes, whether they’ve been exposed to people smuggling and how they live today”…
It would be difficult to imagine a more bizarre combination of agency denial and plain arse-backwardness than this:
Four sex workers were allegedly abducted by an armed gang from a rehab centre…police have registered a case of kidnapping…the gang members were [allegedly] Mumbai-based pimps, whom the girls telephoned and asked to be “rescue’’ from the rehab centre run by an NGO…they were rescued from the flesh trade by the…police and were accommodated at the rehab centre…six months ago…Other sex workers…said life is hell at the centre. “A prison would be better than this,” said a 24-year-old inmate. “Given a chance, we too would like to leave”…
The reversed scare quotes around the two uses of “rescue” are especially striking; their literal rescue by friends or associates is scare-quoted, while the use of the term for abduction and imprisonment is not.
…William Hillar…was sentenced…to 21 months in prison…for…his scheme to pass himself off as a colonel in the U.S. Army Special Forces…Hillar was also ordered to pay restitution of $171,415 and perform 500 community hours at the Maryland State Veterans Cemeteries……the FBI said Hillar fabricated a gruesome tale that his own daughter had been kidnapped, forced into sex slavery, sodomized and tortured before being hacked to death with machetes and thrown into the sea. He further claimed that this experience and his life story was the basis for the 2008 film “Taken”. The significant press attention…generated free press for his business. Hillar admitted…his daughter…was [actually] alive and well…
Speaking of “sex trafficking” liars: “Ashton Kutcher [in Delhi to film a Steve Jobs biopic]…posted a photo that has him posing with about a dozen…victims of sex trafficking [supplied by rescue industry NGO Apne Aap]…”
“…the cast of the 1990s Nickelodeon series The Adventures of Pete & Pete was reunited…before a packed and ardent crowd at L.A.’s Orpheum Theater for…a…three-hour celebration of the deepest children’s show — and one of television’s best shows — ever.” The article includes an interview with the creators, who explain that a great deal of the show’s unique style derived from the fact that their background was in producing advertising spots rather than situation comedies, so they didn’t know what they were “supposed” to do.
As I pointed out, the public health community almost universally backs decriminalization, and apparently that support has reached the bioethics field as well:
…one of the latest…articles in the…Journal of Medical Ethics…bears the provocative title “Is Prostitution Harmful?” Unsurprisingly, Norwegian academic Ole Martin Moen says No. “More and more of us…believe that sexual encounters need not be deeply personal and emotional…if casual sex is acceptable, then we have few or no reasons to reject prostitution.” Dr Moen demolishes…nine objections to legalised prostitution…but perhaps most interesting from a bioethical standpoint are his assumptions…First, that [if] sex…has no special value, it is unlikely that arguments against selling it will stand. Second, that a utilitarian calculus is the best way to determine the ethics of prostitution…Third, that contemporary attitudes towards homosexuality are appropriate precedents for assessing the moral value of prostitution. Back in the 20s and 30s, homosexuality was deemed to cause people severe psychological problems. But we now know that this was due to social stigma. Homosexuality was also associated with disease, drug use and violence. But we now know that this was due to social and legal oppression. Similarly, Dr Moen suggests, if we destigmatise and liberate prostitution, these issues will disappear among prostitutes as well…
Korean communities in Australia are campaigning…for a crackdown on Korean prostitutes who have entered the country on working holiday visas…The association of Korean communities said Korean prostitutes are a national disgrace. “…Korea’s reputation is being tarnished as they see the country as an exporter of prostitutes,” said an association spokesman…Since the Korean government launched its crackdown…in 2004…many sex workers have moved to Australia, Japan, the United States and other countries…Accordingly, the number of crimes involving Koreans staying on such visas is rising at an alarming rate in Australia and other countries…72…felonies, including murder and rape, committed against or by Korean working visa holders were reported in Australia in 2009, while no such crimes were reported in 2005.
One can’t help wondering if the Korean community’s bigotry is not part of the reason Australian politicians keep claiming that thousands of Asian women are “trafficked”, despite a total lack of evidence .
Emi Koyama does it again with this convincing economic analysis demonstrating not only that “end demand” schemes don’t work, they actually increase the amount of prostitution among low-end (street) sex workers:
“End demand” approach to addressing human trafficking continues to gain traction, as law enforcement agencies across the country hold the third “National Day of Johns Arrests”…I have in the past pointed out why “end demand” policies are harmful…and even provided a further explanation for the economics of “end demand” policies. But recently I had an…exchange with someone who…helped me explore a possibility…that “end demand” approach to prostitution, which seeks to reduce demand for commercial sex through public education, prosecution, public humiliation, and other means, may increase prostitution, rather than decrease it…
The nutshell version: As demand drops, so does the price. But because survival and near-survival sex workers are already making barely enough to live on, they are therefore forced to work longer hours and see more clients in order to make ends meet. If any of my readers is an economist and can either confirm or find flaws in Koyama’s analysis, please let me know.
This is really good news; intellectuals are respected and influential in France:
Some of France’s leading intellectuals have poured scorn on the government’s goal of eradicating prostitution…a collection of academics, artists and writers suggest efforts to get rid of the world’s oldest profession are bound to fail…Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, the minister for women, caused a stir in June when she announced the new government would attempt to end the sale of sex…the intellectuals…argued that talk of “abolishing” prostitution was based on “two debatable assumptions: that charging for sex is an affront to women’s dignity and that all prostitutes are all victims of their bastard clients…A women who prostitutes herself…is not necessarily a victim of male oppression. And the clients are not all horrible predators or sexual obsessives who treat the woman as disposable objects.” Among the signatories to the article were philosopher Elisabeth Badinter, writer Regine Desforges and film-maker Claude Lanzmann…
Politicians just can’t resist trying to drum up moral panic, even in soil as unfertile as the largely pro-decriminalization British Columbian academic community:
Recruiters could show up at B.C. colleges and universities this year looking for students to work as strippers, says the province’s minister of advanced education, Naomi Yamamoto. “The [adult entertainment] industry itself has a reputation of exhibiting some risky behaviour, and we don’t want our students exposed to that,” she said, “especially if [it means] aggressively recruiting at our campuses”…She said the issue came to her attention through news stories about the trend in Windsor, [Ontario]…She added that she could not direct institutions to bar adult entertainment companies from job fairs but is “strongly recommending” that they reject any requests for space…A representative of the Camosun College Student Society, Madeline Keller-MacLeod, said she would resist the presence of adult entertainment industry representatives on campus… “Our members are particularly vulnerable to any economic opportunities,” she said…
Ask yourself: what sort of warped mind could produce the phrase “vulnerable to economic opportunities”?
This Week in 2010 and 2011
Three different columns featuring lyrics and video links for songs about whores; two columns defining various terms used by hookers; a short history of New Orleans’ famed Storyville and a biography of one of its most famous madams; and an analysis of why politicians persecute whores. We also see that genitals come in “All Shapes and Sizes”, that a picture really can be worth “A Thousand Words”, and that many feminists will cut off their noses “To Spite Their Faces”. Plus: my very first update column; another one featuring items on trafficking myths, an odd breach of confidentiality and prohibitionists using feminist and Marxist rhetoric; and another with items about fornication laws, sex rays, Michael Weinstein and a less-fortunate counterpart of the client from today’s first item.