The cost of noticing is to become responsible. – Thylias Moss
Last Thursday, everybody suddenly noticed that cops think it’s all right for them to rape sex workers before arresting us. Of course, nobody used that word; all the stories said “have sex”, as though the interaction were consensual…despite being accomplished via deception for the express purpose of harming the victim (which qualifies as rape in my book, and no I don’t want to debate it). The immediate cause of this sudden revelation was that Hawaiian cops took the unusually-blatant step of asking politicians to explicitly grant them the right in state law, rather than leaving it implicit or officially tolerated as in the other 49 states:
Honolulu police officers have urged lawmakers to keep an exemption in state law that allows undercover officers to have sex with prostitutes during investigations…Authorities say they need the legal protection to catch lawbreakers in the act…they made assurances that internal policies and procedures are in place to prevent officers from taking advantage of it…
I’ll give you a moment to recover from choking after reading that last line.
…A…bill cracking down on prostitution…was originally written to scrap the sex exemption for officers on duty. It was amended to restore that protection after police testimony…advocates were shocked that Hawaii exempts police from its prostitution laws, suggesting it’s an invitation for misconduct…
The fact that Melissa Farley is described as an “advocate” will give you ample description of the rest of the article. But as I’m fond of saying, even a stopped clock is right twice a day; the Farley quote, “Police abuse is part of the life of prostitution,” is missing only two words to make it true: “under criminalization”. Since that’s as close to the truth as Farley ever gets on this subject, we’ll let it count as “right”; it’s far truer than the ideas of most of those commenting on the story, who seem to be laboring under the delusion that this is somehow unusual. Let me make it clear for y’all: This is standard operating procedure everywhere in the United States, and the only thing unusual about Hawaii is that it’s spelled out in law. Just in case you’re a new reader or have a short memory, here are three examples from just last year: Indiana, Florida and Pennsylvania are all especially shameless in their defense of government-authorized rape, excusing it by claiming that sex workers are “sophisticated” (while simultaneously being pathetic, infantile victims). As long as prostitution is criminalized this will keep happening every day all over the country; one of the reasons New South Wales decriminalized was to put a stop to such behavior.
Sex worker activists have labored for forty years to get the public to notice this kind of revolting thuggery, and for the past few years it’s happened with increasing frequency. But I think it has less to do with our efforts than with “sex trafficking” hysteria; ironically, the crusade to pretend a normal, everyday activity is part of an international criminal conspiracy has resulted in the media paying much more attention to what was once widely viewed as a ho-hum non-story fit only for inclusion on a slow news day. And when reporters shine light upon police interaction with sex workers hoping to find stories of brave heroes rescuing crying (and half-dressed) underage “sex slaves”, what they often find instead is cops arresting women for carrying condoms, wearing attractive clothes or walking down the street; sometimes they even find them committing rape without the excuse of a “sting operation”. So thank you, “trafficking” fetishists, for your unwitting help in exposing cops’ vile behavior. And thank you, media, for at last beginning to notice; I’m sure you’ll forgive me if I ask what took you so long.