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Archive for August 3rd, 2013

We only have so many criminal justice dollars, and we need to apply them…toward the areas where we’re afraid of the perpetrators…We’re not afraid of prostitutes. We’re just mad at them.  –  John Whitmire

R.I.P. Virginia Johnson

Virginia JohnsonThe female half of Masters and Johnson, the pioneering sex researchers, has died at the age of 88 (Dr. Masters died in 2001).  Though she never got a degree, Johnson’s intelligence, insight and willingness to speak candidly about the female sexual experience allowed the duo to accomplish what Masters’ academic credentials alone could never have: a thorough exploration of the sexual responses of both men and women, with a strong emphasis on direct measurement rather than the omnipresent questionnaires of most latter-day sex research.  Johnson’s importance to sexology cannot be overstated; it is not an exaggeration to say that modern women, in large part, are indebted to her for their current ability to openly discuss sex and sexual needs.

Bad Girls

How much of this story about the “Starlet Bandits” (a gang of hookers turned bank robbers) is true, and how much a combination of moral panic, journalistic exaggeration and Tarantinoesque tale-telling from a pimp who wanted to be a star?  There’s no way to tell, but I won’t be at all surprised to see it presented as a movie in about seven years.

Reading Between the Lines

Yet another “Operation Cross-Country” has resulted in the persecution of many hundreds of American sex workers.  The FBI is crowing that it “rescued 105 child sex-trafficking victims” and arrested “150 pimps”, but in reality the young women claimed to be “rescued” were also arrested, as demonstrated by this video released by the FBI itself.  As in the last couple of raids, officials are hiding the number of adult hookers busted in this vast boondoggle; however, if the proportions are the same as in the last case for which full figures are available, there were almost 1200 of them.  Even the identities of the so-called “pimps” (most likely male sex workers, drivers, etc) and “rescued children” (some of whom might actually be the children of the arrested women) are in question because the FBI plays fast and loose with the facts.  Consider that in the initial press release it was claimed that the youngest “victim” was 9 and another was so happy to be “rescued” she consented to an interview; later it came out that the youngest was 13 and the interviewee was actually an informant who has been working with them for years.  I suggest you judge the veracity of the other claims by that measure.

Real People

Cathryn Berarovich, a sex worker who writes a column for The Gloss, interviews a streetwalker who has recently gone indoors via online advertising.  Not only is the interview itself quite interesting, so is the story of how Cathryn met her.Tizzy Wall

What the Hell Were You Thinking?

Tizzy Wall (one of my pals from the Desiree conference) recently published “Safety Tips from Sex Workers”, in which she teaches amateurs how to use some of our screening tricks to keep safe:

Although meeting someone at a bar is not necessarily any safer, removing the ability to judge someone’s mannerisms and demeanor can understandably make the less tech-savvy nervous.  Who knows if that hottie on Grindr is going to turn out to be scary?  Even common dating sites like OkCupid host their fair share of creeps who can put the bravest of romance-seekers on high alert…Thankfully, the web offers a bevy of nifty little options that allow us to vet someone before a face-to-face meeting.  You may not be able to screen just like a sex worker, but you can still get some use out of their tools.  This may be the one (and only) time you find a sex worker giving tips rather than collecting them, so take note of these hard-earned harm-preventative measures that anyone can use…

Peeping Toms

…In…at least a dozen cases since 2011…[the Baton Rouge] Sheriff’s Office…used [Louisiana’s anti-sodomy law, which was struck down by Lawrence vs. Texas a decade ago]…to ensnare men who merely discussed or agreed to have consensual sex with an undercover agent…District Attorney Hillar Moore III said his office refused to prosecute…the cases…a Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman…denied that investigators had been misapplying the…law [because it] remains among the state’s criminal statutes…Peter Renn, an attorney with Lambda Legal…said the pattern…suggests authorities are using the stings as a means to harass gay men…“This is basically like the police putting up a sign that says ‘Please sue me’”…

The Mote and the Beam

You know that quote that says insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results?

Kirkland police served a search warrant against the infamous online ad company backpage.com, seeking information about its alleged promotion of prostitution…at the Motel 6 in north Kirkland…State Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced…he and 49 attorneys general are asking Congress to give them the power to fight online ads promoting prostitution…

Say, Bob, how’d it turn out last time y’all tried that?  Oh, yeah, the State of Washington admitted it knew trying to hold websites responsible for third-party content was unconstitutional.  But hey, the $200,000 the judge made y’all pay Backpage didn’t come out of your pocket, so it’s no big deal to you, right?

Law of the Instrument (TW3 #25)

Another case of “human trafficking” meaning whatever the “authorities” want it to mean:  “Two men who were arrested…in connection to a large marijuana growing operation are now facing human trafficking charges…the pair brought a 15-year-old runaway girl from Southern California to their grow location [and] sexually assaulted her…”  She was not forced to work in any way; in other words, this is a case of abduction and rape.  Remember this next time you see “trafficking” statistics.

The Pro-Rape Coalition (TW3 #35)

Spongebob upsetMorality in Media’s campaign to get men’s magazines banned from military property has failed, sort of.  While the Department of Defense stated categorically that “the department’s Resale Activities Board of Review previously…concluded those magazines do not meet the definition of sexually explicit material under the [Military Honor and Decency Act of 1996], and are permissible for sale”.  However, Army and Air Force Exchange stores have announced they will no longer sell them:

…the decision…was not based on morality, but merely because the magazines were not selling, as people now get their pornography online…AAFES said it was permanently removing 891 magazines from its stock, including SpongeBob Comics and the Home Buyers Guide…to…create 33% more space in the stores to sell items such as DVDs and video games…

There is no word on whether the separately-run Naval Exchange stores are planning to do the same; SpongeBob was not available for comment.

King of the Hill

Cleveland obviously couldn’t stand Toledo claiming to be the biggest “sex trafficking hub” in the region:  “Ohio is a major pipeline for human trafficking, taking young, lost girls and turning them into sex slaves…the average age is now 12 for entry into this dark world…”  I just love the expression “turning them into sex slaves”; it sounds so science fictional.

Down Under (TW3 #40)

The predictable result of the years-long “crackdown” on street work in St. Kilda:

Members of the Victorian sex industry are calling on the state government to decriminalise street-based sex work after the death of a woman in St Kilda…Tracy Connelly, a 40-year-old sex worker known professionally as Kelly, was murdered in daylight…on July 21…Police said she had severe face and upper-body injuries and had suffered a “horrific” death…Janelle Fawkes…of…Scarlett [sic] Alliance, said by decriminalising street-based sex work, workers would look to police as protector rather than prosecutor, and thus feel safe to speak out when threatened or assaulted…

Follow Your Bliss (TW3 #44)Larry Kobielnik

As previously explained, “The TSA attracts criminals and those with personality disorders that exaggerate control and sociopathic tendencies…”:

A former [Florida] police officer kidnapped a woman at gunpoint and raped her while he held her captive for several hours…Larry Kobielnik, 37…an officer with the [TSA] for 11 years…offered the 30-year-old a ride…then pulled out a handgun and a police badge, placed the woman in handcuffs and told her she was under arrest…[he then] drove her…to a house…where he raped her…he [eventually] fell asleep, allowing her to escape and record his car’s license plate number…

The Public Eye (TW3 #49)

Here’s an interview with Kristen DiAngelo about her film, American Courtesans; it was screened at Desiree, but for some reason it was scheduled last in the evening (after two other movies I didn’t want to see), so I was not able to attend.  The interview doesn’t cover any new ground for readers of this blog, but note the venue (MSN) and the positive attitude of the interviewer.  Given some previous pro-decriminalization stuff from the Gates Foundation, perhaps Microsoft may eventually develop into a real ally.

Skin To Skin

Since prostitution is already legal in Spain, I’m guessing this campaign wants to ensure that no ridiculous “pimping” laws can be used to harass organizations which connect sex workers with disabled clients:

A Catalan organization which helps provide disabled people with sexual relations is pushing for “disability” prostitutes to become legal in Spain…Jaume Girbau…is…the engine behind Sex Asistent Catalunya…[which] wants the…government to…make sexual assistants legal as they already are in many countries across Europe, including Germany, Switzerland, Holland and Denmark.  Some of these countries pay for the services with public funds…The group is already putting together the teaching material with the aim of offering those interested inEscape from the White Savior Industrial Complex professional training a…university degree…

FarmVille (TW3 #138)

Escape from the White-Savior Industrial Complex”  is a simple parody of Nicholas Kristof’s Half the Sky FaceBook game, designed and programmed by a recovering Kristof groupie.  Can you help Radhika escape “rescue”?

Coming and Going (TW3 #311)

You know that Texas “diversion” program that’s supposed to be so bloody wonderful?  One of things it does is teaches the women to blame themselves for the state’s criminalization of consensual behavior.

Dutch Threat

Amsterdam city council can continue with its policy of reducing the number of brothel owners in its red light district, the government’s highest advisory body…said…The city council began cleaning up the red light district in 2008 and has now introduced new zoning laws which make it possible to evict brothel owners who are uncooperative.  The aim is to reclaim one of the oldest and most picturesque parts of the city by encouraging exclusive shops to open there…62 red light windows will have to close…

Credit Where Credit is DuePat Robertson

Pat Robertson seems to be slowly going sane:

…Pat Robertson said on his show…that he believes transgender people are real, and that there’s “no sin” associated with that.  While Robertson’s entire comment isn’t perfect, it’s still surprisingly positive… “There are men who are in a woman’s body… it’s very rare but it’s true, or women that are in men’s bodies, and they want a sex change…I don’t think there’s any sin associated with that.  I don’t condemn somebody for doing that.”

An Example to the West (TW3 #316)

Nicaraguan sex workers have…set up an office to assist in protection from abuse, violence and discrimination…Prostitution is illegal in Nicaragua but authorities often turn a blind eye to it…Retrasex is part of a Latin American and Caribbean network of 1,000 affiliates…[which] is fighting to change the vocabulary used by media and official institutions to…the term “sex workers.”  The organization also seeks to influence social, health and education policy, as well as push for rights…

Celebrity

Steph Wilcock, another of my friends from Desiree, has unveiled her “Sex Workers Speakeasy” project, “the aim of [which] is to allow current and former sex workers a platform from which to express our experiences of working in an industry besieged by blame, discrimination, prejudice, and stigma.”  It will consist of very short videos like the one at this link, which Steph made of me just before we went to the after-party on Thursday night; if you’re a sex worker who’d like to participate, Steph explains how following the video.

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