Prostitution has a social value, and it’s necessary in a city. – Daniël Termont
Without Let or Hindrance
Those who have dealt with “Child Protective Services” know that they are granted powers of which the Inquisition would have been envious. They routinely abduct people’s children on the flimsiest of pretexts, often on hearsay and without even a warrant, and once this happens parents may never regain custody; if they do it is after years of jumping through ridiculous and ever-changing hoops, playing endless games of “Mother May I?” with power-mad bureaucrats, submission to outlandish violations of their rights and privacy, hundreds of hours in court and total financial ruin…and that’s not even counting the emotional damage to the children. On Wednesday, an activist named Kathi Duran began a hunger strike on the steps of the California state capitol to call attention to these abuses; as expected, she was arrested almost immediately. She asked me to call attention to her protest and share this press release, and I’m happy to do so and will provide updates as I get them.
An ex-Houston police officer [named Abraham Joseph]…was sentenced to life in prison…for raping a waitress…Joseph could have received as little as five years…but jurors chose the maximum sentence instead.
News articles always refer to criminal cops as “ex-cops”, implying they had already been fired when they committed the crimes.
The San Francisco Police Department announced…that [it] will [temporarily] stop using condoms as evidence in prostitution cases…Under current city policy, police cannot confiscate condoms…But…police sometimes broke the policy…A July report from Human Rights Watch criticized San Francisco, along with New York, Washington, DC and Los Angeles, for [the practice]…
Sex educator Debby Herbenick on the need for more research on anal sex: “…In an incredibly short period of time, anal sex has become a common part of Americans’ sex lives. As of the 1990s, only about one-quarter to one-third of young [Americans]…had tried anal sex at least once. Less than 20 years later, my research team’s 2009 National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior found that as many as 40-45 percent…in some age groups had…[yet] taboos persist and…the list of what we don’t know about anal sex is far longer than the list of what we do. This makes it difficult for sex educators to feel truly confident in answering people’s very real and important questions…”
Add Malawi to the list of countries whose legal experts understand human rights better than those in the US; one of them said that “Despite the fact that Malawi has not outlawed sex work…police officers on night patrols pounce on sex workers and…charge…[them] with rogue and vagabond…This is a clear violation of rights of sex workers…” He also commented on the unsanctioned compulsory HIV testing I reported in TW3 (#24), stating that it “is not recommended by…UNAIDS” and “it is impractical and unworkable and more effective results can be reached by supporting sex workers’…access [to] testing, prevention, and support…”
…Several [New York] attorneys have shared the craziest [prenuptial agreements] they’ve penned…[including] items like “no piano playing while the husband is home”, cash bonuses…if either is caught cheating and an agreement to terminate a pregnancy if one should occur…[some include]a weight clause…[another] said [the wife] would never wear green and if she did, her husband [could]…destroy the item…One husband demanded “wife not allowed to cut her hair”…
The article also mentions the wives’ demands, including husbands being home by a certain time and (surprise!) being paid for sex.
Amanda Hess adds to our list of good articles about “sexting” hysteria:
When Polaroid inventor Edwin Land introduced the first commercial instant camera…in 1948, he ushered in what Christopher Bonanos …in The Atlantic calls a “magnificent new era” in photography…for “instant, shareable nudie pics”…The new…format for…nude photographs—sexting—[is]…basically the same: instant explicit photographs, taken under the radar, shared between lovers and friends. In a recent report on a new study of teen sexting…dating “expert” Dr. Wendy Walsh favored terms like “embarrassment,” “shame,” “risky,” and “pressure” to describe the photographic form. And negative terms like those permeate the…discussion around teen photo sharing, though for years research has shown that the media-wide concern-trolling is overblown…
On November 6th Los Angeles county will decide whether to impose AHF’s “condoms in porn” measure; this video explains the real motive behind the whole thing:
…In Ghent’s red-light district, as in many other cities, prostitutes sit in windows to attract potential clients. According to the new law in Ghent, women must wear something in addition to lingerie and may not dance or make suggestive gestures…[Mayor Daniël] Termont…stressed that the measures were intended to reduce the nuisance caused by customers…rather than to victimise the workers.
This US Army report on the Santa Muerte belief refers to it as a “death cult” (technically true, but the phrase has false and pejorative connotations), declares that it isn’t a “true” religion and states that “Although not all members of the cult are criminals, all live an existence that is dominated by crime.” I’m sure that bartenders, taxi drivers and prostitutes (who are not criminalized in Mexico) might disagree that their lives are “dominated by crime”, though cops (another large segment of her devotees) probably wouldn’t.
It’s good to see some journalists finally starting to listen to us:
…Backpage’s critics say they are facilitating sex slavery…[but] all the figures quoted in the media come from a single source, a consultancy called AIM Group…[whose] methodology is shaky at best…they ignore major adult ad networks and mainstream ad networks that accept adult ads…and traffic, revenue and share-of-market numbers, even accurate ones, are no indication of how many…ads…actually convert into…transaction[s]…nor what subset of those…are with a minor or…coerced [person]…Backpage publishes about 3.2 million…ads a month…about 11 percent…are listed in…Adult Services…Backpage removes over a million ads a month…[mostly] for spam and fraud…Only 1.6 percent of the [removed] ads…are from the Adult Category…Only 2 percent of that 1.6 percent, or about 400…a month, are suspected of advertising a minor. Backpage reports those…immediately (and under no legal obligation) to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). In other words, about 1/25 of 1 percent (.04 percent) of the ads Backpage removes…are suspected of advertising a minor for sexual services, a number that represents 1/100 of one percent (.01 percent) of its…ad volume…
Instead of the usual prohibitionists, the article interviewed folks like researcher Ron Weitzer and Kate D’Adamo of SWOP.
…Lucinda Latimer…whose real name is Jan…was…broke, isolated and almost suicidal… she had sold her car and had no idea where her next penny was coming from when she saw a documentary on former career women who turned to the sex industry to make a living. Previously, she had [earned] up to £1000 a night as a graphologist…but ill health and the break-up of her marriage forced her back to Perthshire…[she now does phone sex work and] what has struck her about the men is how normal and pleasant most are and how well educated…Trying to hide her work would have made it shameful and sordid…[so] Jan decided to speak out…she has written…The Diary of a Rookie Phone Sex Floozie, and is about to launch volume two…
Jezebel’s “sex advice” columnist gives a reader advice on how to shove her finger up a guy’s arse without his consent because she wants “to massage someone’s prostate goddamnit!”. Take note of the tepid protests to the columnist’s suggestions on how to trick and bully him into it, then imagine the firestorm if a male writer gave a man advice on how to pressure a woman into something because he wants “to fuck some chick in the arse goddamnit!”
I’m never happy to see a sister pilloried, but I suspect the police decision to expose her customers is going to backfire so badly that this may have some positive results in the long run:
[Alexis Wright has]…been charged with running a prostitution business out of her Zumba dance studio [in Kennebunk, Maine] and secretly videotaping her encounters…Police have begun issuing summons to Wright’s customers and will release the names in the weeks ahead. Townspeople say they’ve heard that lawyers, doctors, law enforcement officials, a television personality and other well-known people in town are included in a detailed clientele list police found. A lot of people would rather not see the names made public because it will hurt families, children and careers…
Another would-be ally undermines her own case by accepting the false claims of prohibitionists:
…In the Netherlands, prostitution is legal. Nonetheless, over 60% of the women involved in prostitution are involved in the sex trade illegally. The Mayor [of Amsterdam] and others refer to these as ‘trafficked’ – either because they are exploited and involved in the sex trade against their will…or because they are illegal workers brought to the country to work voluntarily in conditions different from those they expect…the argument for legalization included belief that it would…decrease trafficking, it has had the opposite effect…prostitution has gone from a predominantly home-grown industry to one very heavily dependent on illegal foreign workers…a [recent law criminalizes hiring]…a prostitute who is not registered with the government…But…this…means that…[the] information must be public so that…[clients] can verify that the sex worker is…licensed…[this] invades the privacy of both…prostitutes and…customers…
Prohibitionists intentionally confuse legalization and decriminalization, ignore the bottleneck effect of registration, pretend that correlation equals causation and conflate “unregistered” with “trafficked”, and the author, Dr. Nancy Darling, fails to question any of it.
Ilfracombe, the English town which claims to be unique in the world by being absolutely whore-free, proves it can be as prudish about lumps of bronze as anyplace in the Bible Belt: “Damien Hirst refers to ‘Verity’ as a ‘modern-day allegory for truth and justice’…[but hundreds of local residents and law officials]…call the 66-foot bronze statue of a half-exposed pregnant woman ‘soft porn masqueraded as art’…”
Australian sex worker activist Christian Vega has more to say on that “end demand” story from St. Kilda:
…As I read through [the article] the stench of bovine excrement almost made my eyes water…street sex work doesn’t relocate itself to another suburb on the other side of town…there is not an itinerant population of these workers who move en masse from one place to the next like migrating wildebeest across the African savannah…It’s more comfortable for people to think that sex work doesn’t happen in their community…and…that street sex workers must board a shuttle from planet Whore to our neighbourhoods under the cover of darkness before disappearing as the sun rises…
I think I like that imagery at least as much as my own.
This Week in 2010 and 2011
A federal judge enjoyed pleasures he persecuted others for and escaped with a slap on the wrist because officials always have different rules for their own class than for others; they’re also hilariously clueless about sex work and are only beginning to realize what a scam the “anti-trafficking” industry is. I discussed America’s weird love-hate relationship with prostitutes, what a 1947 sci-fi story can teach us about the nanny state, how sex workers arrive at our prices and how prostitution is a much older profession than most people think, and I related the story of a famous whore-obsessed preacher, told some hooker jokes, shared my answers to some amazingly stupid prohibitionist statements and presented two spooky stories for the Halloween season.