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Archive for August 8th, 2014

This essay first appeared in Cliterati on June 22nd; I have modified it slightly to fit the format of this blog.

There’s a persistent belief that some areas in the United States are more liberal and urbane than others, and while I suppose that’s true to some extent the differences are generally cosmetic.  It would be more accurate to say that some areas enjoy pretending to be more sophisticated than others, or at least that they delude themselves into believing they’re more sophisticated.  But pull back the curtains or lift the rug just a bit, and you’ll find the vilest and most disgraceful ignorance collected there, just out of view.

Seattle stereotypeTake the state of Washington, for example; it has a reputation for being very liberal, modern and forward-thinking, as exemplified by its being one of only two states to decriminalize recreational cannabis, and by being home to grunge rock, Microsoft and Starbucks.  But while Washingtonians may be very accepting of tech, drugs and rock and roll, they behave like pearl-clutching Victorians when the subjects is ess-ee-ecks and positively foam at the mouth if such impurity exists anywhere in close proximity to money.  For example, Washington is one of several states that forbid alcohol in strip clubs, and cities there regularly enact bizarre and schoolmarmish restrictions on lighting levels, the distance dancers must keep away from patrons, etc.  And when it comes to prostitution, they’re completely barking mad:

…some of the silliest, most absurdly exaggerated and just plain  stupidest “trafficking” tripe in the entire country erupts forth from the Pacific Northwest at least once a week these days…in the name of “fighting sex trafficking” the Washington legislature actually passed a law which would have totally destroyed the internet as we know it, and despite a federal slapdown they’re at it again; this is also the state which devotes hundreds of man-hours to trying to trick coffee-stand waitresses into flashing their tits so they can be charged with “prostitution”.  And who could forget the hilarity which ensued when Shared Hope International held a program warning high school girls, “Don’t run off to the other side of the country with strange adult men after turning over your life savings to them, because pimps are cool and abortion is sex trafficking”.  Or something like that…

white trash capital of the worldThe crusade against caffeine-dispensing harlots mentioned above is largely concentrated in Snohomish County, in other words suburban Seattle.  The police of the county’s largest city, Everett, are especially obsessed with the wanking fantasy that there are whores hiding in every coffee stand, and have aggressively persecuted a number of shops for years.  But they’ve apparently tired of this game, and decided to go after a bigger target:  rather than trying to “end demand” for coffee, they now want to regulate the sun on the grounds that it causes “sex trafficking”:

When the weather gets nicer in Everett, the number of suspected prostitute sightings increases…(the SUN) appears to be a strong factor in the increase in traffic.  Although, website traffic for prostitution maintains a steady pace throughout the year [sic].  We believe there is evidence that people are brought to Everett from neighboring states/counties by pimps…

I can’t help but be fascinated by this reporter’s idiosyncratic capitalization, fondness for sentence fragments and creative use of scare quotes:

…there are many factors that may lead someone into the “sex trade” and…some women are independent “workers”…

But the cops’ un-self-conscious hypocrisy is even more fascinating:

…There are many reasons and/or intricate layers involved for someone to enter the sex trade (either voluntarily or by force).  Drug addiction, mental health, lure of money, survival and forced/coercion just name a few [sic].  The bottom line:  Women are human beings; someone’s daughter, sister, mother or friend.  Treating them with respect and dignity is our priority…

Because deceiving, hunting, beating and caging a woman, subjecting her motivations for consensual behavior to state scrutiny, denying her right to choose her own work, thinking of her not as an individual but only in relation to some man, and referring to her normal economic needs with the dysphemistic phrase “lure of money”, constitute dignified and respectful treatment in the minds of Everett cops.  The rest of the article refers to other “end demand” practices embraced by the Everett police, including “Stay Out of Areas of Prostitution” orders, which are essentially similar to Britain’s ASBOs; in the United States, however, such practices are flagrantly unconstitutional and can only continue until challenged in court – which, needless to say, means they’ll probably be around until at least the end of the “sex trafficking” panic.

As I said at the beginning, there’s a persistent belief that some areas in the United States are more liberal and urbane than others; the actual truth is that they’re all pretty authoritarian and unsophisticated where sex is concerned.  It’s just that some places seem less aware of how ridiculous, childish, bluenosed and tight-arsed their anti-sex policies make them look to the adults of the world, and within those areas are cities which, due to being surrounded by normalized prudery, feel free to carry their priggishness to truly clownish levels.

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