In reality, sex work isn’t stigmatised because it is dangerous. Sex work is dangerous because it is stigmatized. – Laurie Penny
This is a pretty good introduction to Storyville, though it has a few errors and two really odd misinterpretations: she refers to “not on the first floor of any building” as a “district”, and she only counts business owners (rather than individual whores) when discussing income. Worth watching for the pictures.
Since young colonies rarely have anything to recommend them to women, they often have a pronounced gender imbalance; King Louis XV solved the problem in New Orleans by sending a boatload of whores, and George III did the same thing 68 years later for Australia. The ship was named the Lady Juliana, and this recent article draws on a recently-unearthed jail log to tell a little about the ship and its passengers.
…a former Eatontown [New Jersey] detective accepted a plea agreement…[for raping] an informant. His victim…explained to the court…how [Philip] Emanuele used the threat of prison for a theft charge…to coerce her into performing oral sex…When she refused, he raped her…Emanuele acknowledged what he had done in open court, and was sentenced to 5 years of probation for criminal coercion, and 3 years of probation for tampering with evidence…
A New York district attorney has dropped a prostitution charge against former reality TV star Alicia Guastaferro…after further investigation revealed it was unmerited…The D.A. still plans to pursue [other] charges…Guastaferro…[and] attorney James D. Doyle [were found unconscious in Doyle’s car after]…a…motorist…[reported] a car being driven erratically…Guastaferro …told police Doyle pays her $500 to $700 to perform sexual acts and spend the night with him…
Yes, the cops actually filed a prostitution charge on the word of a semi-conscious drunk.
This San Francisco Weekly op-ed by Chris Hall is the best December 17th article by a non-sex worker I have ever seen. It deserves to be read in its entirety, but its tone is illustrated by the statement “…there really is no conversation about sex work…only a monologue by media and politicians with the workers themselves meant to stay silent. December 17 events represent a concerted effort to break that silence.”
Another Christmas present to sex workers from a journalist who isn’t one of us, but gets it; this one was published in The New Statesman by repentant neofeminist Laurie Penny:
…Laws regulating sex work are written…by people who have never done sex work and who have no sustained contact with those who do. The most well-meaning legislation…often backfires, pushing the sex trade further underground and giving the police licence to punish and victimise women…feminist author Ellen Willis termed this handkerchief-clutching zeal to “save” prostitutes, porn actresses and other “fallen” women “neo-Victorianism”…It’s a school of so-called women’s liberation that [believes]…work can’t possibly be the problem, so…If sex workers are victimised by the police and…face higher levels of violence and assault at work, then it can only be because of their dirty moral choice to have sex for money…This isn’t about evidence…It’s about morality, just as it was…when…women organised charity centres to ‘save’ street prostitutes from sin by finding them alternative employment as charwomen, in workhouses or scrubbing the streets…any kind of work, however exploitative and badly paid, must be better than sex work because it doesn’t involve sex, wicked sex, sinful sex…
…Rémy Couture [is a]…Canadian special-effects artist charged with “corrupting morals” by illegally combining sex and gore…[in] two short films depicting the crimes of a necrophiliac serial killer and various photographs of simulated torture and dismemberment that were posted on Couture’s now-defunct website…The prosecution argues that Couture’s work is obscene under Canadian law because “a dominant characteristic” of it is “the undue exploitation of sex” combined with “crime, horror, cruelty and violence.” He faces up to two years in prison for this prohibited mixture…
The word “trafficking” is not to be found in this article, nor are calls for paving to be abolished:
…William Connors…his wife Mary…[and] their sons…were all convicted of conspiracy to require a person to perform forced…labour…the Connors would pick up…homeless drifters or addicts…[who then] lived in squalid caravans…as they moved around the country working on the Connors’ paving and patio businesses…and…were controlled by discipline and violence…[they] were beaten, hit with broom handles, belts, a rake and shovel, and punched and kicked…[they] were often made to strip for a “hosing down session” with freezing water…[and] were paid as little as £5 for a day’s hard labour on jobs that would earn the family several thousand pounds. They were given so little food they resorted to scavenging from dustbins…
And as Furry Girl points out, nobody seems to care if children are forced to act in movies for their parents’ profit, either: “Imagine if anti-sex worker activists treated all forms of entertainment the same way they treat [sex work]…Where are the Nick Kristof-led raids of acting classes for children, the protests against movie studios that utilize under-18 performers, and the arrests of live studio audiences at the taping of TV family sitcoms?”
Furry Girl writes about the way people’s acceptance of unfamiliar things like marijuana use, homosexuality and sex work tends to grow as they get to know real people who are involved with those things, and she proposes an experiment for those shy about coming out:
Go to a bar in the next city over, or a music festival out of town, or just tell the person sitting next to you on the bus or subway. Try openness on for just a day, or even 15 minutes. You will get some bad reactions, but I think it will surprise you how many people won’t be an asshole to you. Be prepared for questions, which you can choose to answer or not.
Amazingly, all 13 victims of an Argentinean “sex trafficking” witch hunt were acquitted of all charges last week: “…the judges said there was no way to prove that Marita, a 23-year-old mother and wife who vanished on…April 3, 2002, was kidnapped and forced into a prostitution ring…For the last decade Marita’s mother, Susana Trimarco, has waged an uphill battle [against]…the people she believed were responsible for her daughter’s disappearance into the netherworld of human trafficking…” Trimarco has insisted from the beginning that her daughter was abducted by “sex traffickers”, despite a total lack of evidence for such an outlandish interpretation of the meager facts. The article points out that Trimarco “almost single-handedly changed the way that human trafficking is viewed…across much of Latin America,” and this is true: with the help of cops and prohibitionists she has succeeded in introducing American-style “sex trafficking” mythology to a culture which has a much healthier view of sex work than that of the US.
The California Commission on Judicial Performance…[admonished] Judge Derek Johnson…[for] comments [made] in the case of a man who threatened to mutilate the face and genitals of his former girlfriend with a heated screwdriver, beat her with a metal baton and made other violent threats…Johnson, a former prosecutor in the Orange County district attorney’s sex crimes unit, said…”I’m not a gynecologist but I can tell you something: if someone doesn’t want to have sexual intercourse the body shuts down…[and] will not permit that to happen unless a lot of damage is inflicted, and we heard nothing about that in this case”…since 1980, California law has not required rape victims to prove they resisted or were prevented from resisting.
Several people called to my attention a recent paper claiming that legalizing prostitution increased human trafficking; I pointed out to them that without good data and clear definitions, a prohibitionist can “prove” whatever he likes. But Dr. Laura Agustín said it much better than I did:
I’ve been asked several times to comment on a recently published article, Does Legalized Prostitution Increase Human Trafficking?…This study belongs to a trend to use econometric concepts and techniques in a (vain) attempt to prove this or that about prostitution…fancy modelling and sophisticated analysis cannot help when the data being analysed is next to useless…Any critique of this work has to begin by asking how the authors define human trafficking, inflows, legalised prostitution, the prostitution market, trafficked women and legal prostitutes. None of these terms is self-explaining. After more than 15 years, we do not even have agreement about what the fundamental terms mean, so anyone writing in the field has to tell us which definitions they are using and they have to make sure they compare and contrast categories using the same definitions…The best way to understand this work is Garbage in, garbage out…
Wally Oppal says the scores of women missing and presumed murdered by Robert Pickton and others in the Vancouver area were doubly forsaken – by society and by police. In fact, they were triply forsaken…The law itself forsook many of them, by criminalizing them for selling sex and driving them to the extreme margins…“I cannot ignore the reality that this legal regime played an important role in shaping the relationship between the police and women…potentially affecting…investigations…” Mr. Oppal writes…The report is a death knell for prostitution laws in their current form.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health – yes, that’s his full title…has…come down firmly on the side of decriminalising the sex industry. In fact, a 2010 report of his is one of the strongest statements I’ve ever seen in this regard by a UN official…
A group of adult industry leaders announced…their intent to file a lawsuit soon against Los Angeles County over Measure B…an ill-conceived law that makes it mandatory for adult actors to wear lab coats, goggles and gloves as well as condoms while shooting adult films in the County. The law was funded solely by AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF)…The attorneys plan to challenge the law on the [grounds that]…health and safety…issues…fall under…State regulation…[they also] plan to challenge…on constitutional grounds…
“Detectives investigating a website offering to pay the tuition fees of female students in return for sex have arrested [Mark Lancaster] on suspicion of inciting prostitution…” WTF? “Inciting prostitution”? How about fraud and sexual assault?
It’s astonishing that these people just can’t understand and accept that nothing has to “be done”, and that student sex workers will get along without their “help” just as they always have: “…ex-brothel madam [Becky Adams] has been enlisted to help…Swansea University…research…what motivates [students] to [do] sex work…” I’ll save them the trouble: the answer is “good money and flexible hours”. Now, where’s my £500,000?
This Week in 2010 and 2011
Beside my two previous columns for December 17th, my two previous columns for Yule, my two previous yuletide fictional interludes and a history of Hanukkah, this week also featured a look at what passes for “evidence of prostitution”, a look at the truth of Swedish “feminism”, a statement of some of my principles, a thought experiment about coercion vs. free choice and a biography of Edith Piaf. Finally, there were also short items on Craigslist, the UK attempt to block all internet porn, PC celebrities, “john schools”, Bronte sister action figures, nanny-state dating advice, Julian Assange, hate crime, an awkward call, men’s magazines, a fatal BDSM accident, Barbie hate, a begging ban, another hooker-hiring politician and religious persecution.