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Archive for December, 2014

The Old Year has gone. Let the dead past bury its own dead.-Edward Powell

Maggie sketch 8-30-14As has been my custom for five years, New Year’s Eve is the occasion for a retrospective of the year’s news.  But while in previous years I mostly reported on the things other people did, the biggest story this year (at least in this blog) is the stuff I did.  Besides too many interviews to count (including one for Reason TV that has been seen over 20,000 times so far), I made dozens of personal appearances all over the country, as detailed in my tour diaries from May until the present.  The excuse for these was the publication of my book, Ladies of the Night (and if you haven’t bought a copy yet, you probably should); I know that last year I said that the second one (tentatively entitled The Essential Maggie McNeill) would be ready by summer, but obviously the tour pre-empted that.  I still hope to have it ready in the next couple of months, but I’m not promising anything because I’ve finally decided to take everyone’s advice and try to make just a tad more time for myself.

The best news of the year is that we’re still right on track for an end of “sex trafficking” hysteria by 2017, as I predicted three years ago; already we’re beginning to see skeptical articles from journalists and academics in addition to consultation of actual experts, prominent reporting on anti-hysteria studies and increased placement for articles from yours truly (including ReasonThe Washington Post and a law journal).  Though the hysteria is still in full bloom in most quarters (especially among cops, rescue industry opportunists and others with a vested interest in keeping the panic going), the exposure of “trafficking” darlings Somaly Mam and Chong Kim opened the door to allowing skeptics to openly express their doubts.  Still, just as the bad laws spawned by the last round of “sex trafficking” hysteria have endured to the present day, so will those spawned by this one endure for decades after the panic is over.  This year saw an expansion in efforts (some of them surreptitious) to impose the horrible Swedish model, and while France barely escaped it Canada and Northern Ireland have not, with the Republic of Ireland almost sure to follow.  And while there’s no way the US will ever stop persecuting sex workers without a Supreme Court order halting the practice, Swedish-flavored “end demand” rhetoric provides a palatable “feminist” excuse for endemic police violence and hounding of sex workers.

rapist copBut it’s not only sex workers who are infantilized in the name of “feminism”; female university students, too, are treated as moral imbeciles too delicate to make sexual decisions without the help of coercive patriarchal institutions.  And it’s not only sex workers who are the victims of police violence; nearly every week sees at least one report of a cop raping at least one woman (I reported 60 this year).  Not one of my Links columns is free of at least one incident of police brutality, and cops’ unrestrained and consequence-free murders of young men, especially young black men, has provoked mass protests all year.  Nor do all cop attacks involve physical violence; actual robbery under cover of “law enforcement” pretenses is at an all-time high, and many police and FBI operations are motivated by profit and/or the desire to create a spectacle in advancement of a political narrative.

At first glance, this hasn’t been a good year for sex workers; our rights are even under attack in countries where they’ve been reasonably secure for years, and agency-denying “sex trafficking” propaganda is promoted in virtually every mainstream venue and pretended to be factual in legislatures and police circles worldwide.  But at the same time academics, human rights organizations and many others are beginning to open their eyes to the truth, and everywhere I traveled this summer I found receptive audiences.  Moral panics do not slowly fade away; they usually get worse until they very quickly collapse.  The end of widespread societal support for persecution of sex workers is coming…and sooner than you might think.

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Diary #235

What a wonderful Christmas this has been!  I picked up Jae from the airport last Tuesday, and she and Grace got along famously; as I tweeted on Boxing Day, it’s a good thing I had cooking to do because once they started talking about motorcycles it was essentially a foreign language to me.  Everything for the Christmas feast came out perfectly, and I received such lovely presents, including two vintage nightgowns and a vintage vibrator (yes, whores really do give each other presents like that, at least sometimes) and from Gumdeo, a copy of The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft (thank you!) As those of you who follow me on Twitter have probably already noticed, I’ve been as good as my word about taking more time off; I stayed offline for most of Wednesday & Thursday, and even after that I haven’t been working nearly as hard as usual.  I really am trying to lighten up and enjoy myself more; you may call that a New Year’s resolution if you like, but since I first made the shift in November I hardly think it counts.  That’s probably for the best, though; New Year’s resolutions rarely survive January, and I hope this shift in my life is a permanent one.

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Back Issue: December 2011

If you’re at Wal-Mart, how do you know your cashier doesn’t have a lazy boyfriend at home who forces her to work and takes her money?  You don’t.  And are you somehow wrong or immoral for checking your purchases out in her line if she does?  –  “Thought Experiment

PedobearBy the end of 2011 I had achieved a kind of equilibrium, thanks to a predictable schedule and a set of procedures that allowed me to plan my work ahead of time.  I still had to tinker with it for a few months to get it just as I wanted it, and of course there have been periodic slight changes in the past three years, but all in all the blog looked and read very much as it does today (recently-announced new changes notwithstanding).  December 2011 and January 2012 show why one of those changes, the shift to a weekly news column, was inevitable; in addition to  December Miscellanea and a two-part update column, I was forced to write “The Hits Keep Coming” and “Girls, Girls, Girls!” in order to keep up with the influx of new items.

massive tumorThe two-part “My Favorite Things” was the beginning of a new feature, though its second installment didn’t appear until April.  It’s not the only name from this month that should seem familiar, though; “Neither Addiction nor Epidemic“, “Legal Is as Legal Does” and “Presents, Presents, Presents!” are all frequently used as update titles, and “Where Are the Protests?” was for a while before it was largely superseded.  Of course, holiday titles can’t help being familiar, and this month had a plethora of them; besides  YuleChristmas Eve, Christmas DayBoxing Day and New Year’s Eve, I also wrote about Hanukkah and the Roman festival  Larentalia (which honored a courtesan).  Bell, Hook and Kettle observed St. Nicholas’ Day by warning about the evil behaviororgone accumulator of the Salvation Army, and A Day Against Hate was my annual column for the Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers.  Two other essays gave a nod to the season: “Tempest in a Toybox” looked at adults’ weird fixations on children’s toys, and though “Ambition” is not a Christmas story per se, it belongs to that tradition of heartwarming stories set in the season.

iDosingOf course, not every December column has to be holiday-related, though “Édith Piaf” does appear on the singer’s birthday and “The Prudish Giant” reports on Google’s huge holiday donation to anti-whore organizations.  “Heads in the Sand” offers evidence that ignorance really is bliss; “Traumatic Effects” answers a reader’s question about “rescuing” a sex worker; “Pigeonholes” examines people’s tendency to infantilize underage sex workers; “The Liars’ Club” exposes the lies on which AHF’s “condoms in porn” crusade is founded;  “Thought Experiment” suggests a way for readers to understand the truth about exploitation in sex work; “Gullible’s Travels” uses ridiculous mini-panics to talk about fraud in social science, and “Three Steps Back” explains how New Orleans descended into a new agenda of sex worker persecution. Holmes and his mysterious companion

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How about if I see you post this on YouTube, I’ll find a way for the DA’s office to arrest you?  –  “Trooper” Rosenblatt

It’s not surprising that I have so little for you this week; besides it being Christmas, I’ve had a lovely guest taking up my time (and that is not a complaint).  As I explained last week, there were few holiday links this year, not even videos, so I’ve chosen two videos that I think will amuse you and make you feel good.  The first (via Aspasia) is pretty self-explanatory, and I don’t know that I’ve ever in my life felt the kind of pure, canine joy the woman in the second video (via Tushy Galore) displays for her sponges.  The links above the first video are from Popehat, and those between the two are from Grace, Angela Keaton, Ed KrayewskiWalter Olson, and Nun Ya, in that order.

From the Archives

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Apparently learning when to use a turn signal is twice as complicated as conducting an undercover operation that jeopardizes women’s lives.  –  Samantha Allen lowest depression graph

Bad Jobs

I’ll just point out that sex work is an “amusement and recreation service”.  So much for “PTSD” and “90% would quit if they could”:

A study published last month…suggests that some jobs have much higher rates of depression than others…the…authors calculated the incidence of depression across 55 industries.  The highest rate of depression (16.2 percent) was found among bus drivers.  The lowest (6.9 percent) was…among those in “amusement and recreation services,” a broadly defined group that includes the sports, fitness, and performing-arts industries…

Feminine Pragmatism 

Part-time casual prostitution to supplement meager earnings has been a fact of female existence since at least Roman times, so this is not anything remotely like “news”:

…salaries for Japan’s flight attendants have slumped significantly over the past decade…This has lead to some stewardesses engaging in [casual prostitution]…“Girls willing to do it with a pilot passed their number to a person who was effectively a female pimp,” says [one] stewardess….other stewardesses may take up part-time work as party companions or bar hostesses in Tokyo’s ritzy Ginza district…

The Pro-Rape Coalition

Have I told you lately how much I love Elizabeth Nolan Brown?

So I was going to ignore this silly study about how pornography is serving as a widespread “marriage substitute” for young American men.  But it just keeps popping up on my radar…the study actually found [that]…the more hours of pornography a young man watched, the less likely he was to have a spouse…bachelorhood makes watching a lot of porn…more possible…than it is for people living with a wife and family…and…married individuals are less likely to self-report ample pornography consumption…Correlation does not imply causation. And “low-cost sexual gratification” probably isn’t the end of civilization as we know it.

Meanwhile, over at Slate, Jordan Weissmann goes into even more detail about why the study is, in his words, “deeply silly”.  You will not be surprised to know that the “researchers” used data from the General Social Survey, whose unsuitability for questions of this nature I have noted before.

Above the Law 

They just can’t call it rape when the rapist is a cop, can they?  Especially if his victims are whores:  “A Dallas police officer has been arrested for…using his position…to force prostitutes to perform sexual acts…David Kattner…will be [given paid vacation]…pending the results of the…investigation…

The Notorious Badge Jamie Dornan

What is it with actors presuming to judge sexual minorities they make big bucks playing on screen?

Jamie Dornan went to a sex dungeon for work.  He was preparing to play Fifty Shades of Grey’s…Christian Grey, and…found it underwhelming.  “I went there, they offered me a beer, and they did…whatever they were into…Then going back to my wife and newborn baby afterwards… I had a long shower before touching either of them”…

Jamie, I’m sorry to hear that your prudish sex life is so boring.  I’ll leave you with a message from my friend, Mistress Matisse:

…Guess what?  There were happily married people at that party doing BDSM.  Some of them have children, too, just like you.  How dare you take a role as someone who does BDSM and then blatantly insult the very people who allowed you into their party and let you observe them in their intimate moments?…I think it’s a shame the makers of 50SOG didn’t cast someone more emotionally mature and more secure in his own sexuality than this.  Perhaps Mr. Dornan is more like the character of Christian Gray than he’d like to think…

Banishment

The continuing crusade to treat “sex offenders” as subhuman:

…A registrant in Florida won a three million dollar scratch-off lottery…Timothy Poole…[is the subject of a] hue and cry…that he should, by any means possible, be denied his winnings…because he is a SEX OFFENDER.  Florida has no prohibition against any convicted felon profiting from lottery winnings, not even SEX OFFENDERS.  I am currently making book that Florida’s next legislative session will see a bill introduced that will do just that…Mr. Poole, since his release from prison in 2006, has maintained a record as spotless as the proverbial driven snow…None of that quashed the flood of outrage or deterred the cesspool of nasty headlines, articles, and commentary as to why he should not receive the money and how inherently wrong it is for him to have won it to begin with…

Dirty Laundry (TW3 #337)

Sadistic Irish judges think it’s funny to rob sex workers and our associates and give their money to an organization dedicated to destroying our entire profession:

…Dublin road engineer [Thomas Lyons] rented an apartment for use as a brothel…[he] has been given a suspended jail sentence and ordered to pay over €10,000 to…Ruhama, an organisation which [profits from the harassment of sex workers]…

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #341)

A rare example of criminalization blowing up in the faces of “authorities”:

A prostitute won a landmark victory against police [when] an Oslo court…ruled that police were wrong to claim taxes for the money she had made selling sex…the court queried whether the state should tax income from prostitution, given that related activity such as pimping and human trafficking are crimes…

Property of the State

A new proposed bill in the Missouri state legislature would require women…seeking an abortion to get consent from the man who is the father of the child.  Exceptions are allowed in cases of rape or incest, but [not]…if the woman is in an abusive relationship…

Or, presumably, if she just doesn’t know who the father is.

Because We Say So (TW3 #421) poverty tourism

Next Generation Nepal (NGN) has launched its…report showing that…orphanages in Nepal contain over 15,000 children, yet at least two out of three…are not orphans…many…are being used as poverty commodities to raise money from well-intentioned but naïve fee-paying foreign volunteers and donors…almost 90 percent of “orphanages” in Nepal are located in the top five tourist districts for this reason…the growing global phenomenon of voluntourism…has the potential to…cause considerable harm…

The Mote and the Beam (TW3 #428)

Remember, consensual sex work is usually defined as “trafficking” in the US; this law would felonize the posting of an ordinary escort ad:

A state representative wants to make it a crime to post an ad on the internet if the person posting it knows it could result in human trafficking.  It could be an ad anywhere – on websites such as Craigslist or Backpage, or even on a gas station bathroom wall…House Bill 152 would make that person guilty of sexual trafficking of a child; a felony that carries a penalty of up to life in prison…[sponsor] Elijah Haahr…says the idea is based on the SAVE Act…

Safe Targets (TW3 #439)

the relationship between law enforcement and sex workers in Alaska has supposedly altered in recent years…[due to dogma pretending that] sex workers[are] victims who need to be rescued…[but] a new report by Tara Burns titled People in Alaska’s Sex Trade: Their Lived Experience and Policy Recommendations…found…that…the role of the police has not changed that much…the law has been used against people selling sex (who are said to be trafficking themselves)…”In none of the documents I’ve examined since the law’s inception,” Burns says in the report, “has it been used to benefit a victim”…women Burns surveyed and interviewed see the police as a threat…More than a quarter of the women surveyed said they had been sexually assaulted by police; 9 percent said they had been robbed or beaten…

Theatrics (TW3 #446)

On December 19…[a spam] text message [landed] on mobile phones of [about 300,000] users [in Kathmandu, Nepal].  The…message…read “young boys and girls are available for commercial sex inside the Kathmandu Valley” and asked the recipients to call certain numbers for further details…the message was being delivered by Terre des Hommes…whose website says “it works against child exploitation”…[the NGO] defended the message…[as] “part of its campaign to aware [sic] the general public about child exploitation and end commercial sexual exploitation of children”…

Marching Up Their Own Arses (TW3 #450)

For a change, many outside the demimonde recognize anti-whore douchebaggery for what it is:

The retired cop used to interfere in sex worker’s lives by arresting them, now he just ambushes them with cameras…sex workers…rightly call [reality show 8 Minutes] “vile,” “gross,” “terrifying,” and “exploitative”…[Kevin] Brown was profiled in the LA Timesas founder…of Safe Passage OC, a group with a website that looks like it was made in 1998 and a moral worldview from at least a hundred years earlier than that…Volunteers only need to “attend a 16-hour course”…about half as long as it takes to get a learner’s permit in the state of California…

A Year Later

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While it’s true that we can no longer put the entire world on hold for twelve days, I’m sure most of you can manage two.Maggie McNeill

Xmas kitty sleepingDoctors, so it is said, make the worst patients; they will not heed the advice they give to everyone else.  I guess I’m the same way; though I’m always giving others advice that is generally lauded as good, I never seem to heed my own counsel.  One timely example is the advice I always give in this blog on Boxing Day, as stated in the epigram above;  though I’m always telling y’all not to be in too much of a rush to get back to work, I myself tend to be in motion every waking hour…and that’s  sometimes as many as 20 per day when I’m on tour, and 18 per day at home.  And yes, holidays too.  But I had a lot of time to think when I was alone in the car this summer, and that was even more true on the long train trip from Chicago to Seattle, over 48 hours without internet.  And right after that came the visit to Seattle itself, which affected me profoundly for a number of reasons; the end result is that I realized I really don’t have to knock myself out quite so much, and I really can relax just a little bit.  Oh, don’t worry, I’m much too tightly-wound to slack off for very long; however, when one is over the top of a hill and rolling down the other side, there’s no harm in stepping on the clutch and just letting gravity and momentum do the work for a little while.  Things will continue here as they always have, but right now I’m just enjoying the last bit of three days of coasting.

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Christmas 2014

Merry Christmas, Dear Readers, and Blessed Be!

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Christmas Eve 2014

Christmas is…big enough for all the varied traditions which it encompasses, and then some, and any attempt to reduce it to one specific “reason for the season” which excludes all others is selfish, childish and ultimately a theft of the spirit of the holiday, which is about giving and sharing.  –  Maggie McNeill

Over the past five years, I’ve written quite a lot about Christmas; every year I do columns for Yule, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day, and that isn’t even including the annual Saint Nicholas columns and my day-after-Thanksgiving grouse, the one I did for Cliterati last year, several different  Christmas fictional interludes and other Christmassy sorts of columns.  Unless you’ve been reading me religiously for most of those five years, I doubt you’ve read everything I have written on the subject…and if you have been reading me religiously for most of those five years, you’re probably ready for me to shut up about it by now.  So this time, I’m just going to point you to the columns I linked above, and to suggest you also scan the December archives for each of those years.  Y’all have probably noticed that my holiday columns are a lot shorter these days; I’m mostly down to the equivalent of a greeting card now, and I’m comfortable with that because I’ve written a lot about those other holidays, too.  Christmas is for being with those one loves, so that’s exactly what I’ll be doing for the next several days; I hope all of you have similar opportunities, and I wish all of you the very merriest of Christmases. 

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Diary #234

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo here I am, down to the last few hours before Christmas; I’m writing this on Sunday morning, after making the dough for the pumpkin gingerbread cookies but before making the toffee bars and divinity.  Chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter fudge and one kind of Rice Krispies treats (the chocolate ones) are already done, and the pfefferneuse dough has been sitting in the fridge since yesterday (to let the flavors blend before making the actual cookies).  Tomorrow morning (yesterday by the time y’all read this) I’ll make the fruity Rice Krispies treats and then pack all of this stuff into boxes to bring to the businesses that we have a close relationship with, including the mechanic who’s getting my touring car ready for long-distance travel.  He is, BTB, one of the few people who lives in this area who knows my story, and even has a signed copy of my book.  Anyhow, in the process of inspection he discovered that someone had bypassed something in the electrical system, so he’s trying to figure out what that is; it shouldn’t be too expensive but if you want to give me a little Christmas present to help pay for it, I wouldn’t say no!  Just PayPal it to maggiemcneill@earthlink.net.  And speaking of presents, thanks to Daz for sending me a copy of Annie Sprinkle’s comic book (which I’ve always wanted to see), and to Gumdeo for the snakeskin pumps!

In addition to the treats, I still have two more columns to write today and three to post; some of that work could roll over into Monday and Tuesday, but there’s other stuff I have to do those days.  On top of that, I have to finish cleaning the house before Jae arrives Tuesday (tonight, from the time you read this) to stay through the holidays.  Yes, there will be pictures.  Oh, and speaking of pictures, subscribers and gift-senders should have received one from me yesterday; if you did not, it’s because I’m not yet used to doing mass mailings and accidentally left you off the list.  Please let me know so I can add you to the list and get your Christmas card sent out!

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Yule 2014

Here comes the sun,
Here comes the sun
And I say it’s all right.
 –  George Harrison

Some people wonder why I, a pagan, celebrate Christmas.  Certainly many pagans don’t, and the same could be said of many atheists and many others of non-Christian faiths.  At the same time, many other non-Christians do indeed celebrate Christmas; it’s the single most popular holiday in the world, with thriving observances outside majority-Christian lands in Bangladesh, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore and South Korea.  It’s also the oldest, with roots reaching back roughly 6000 years to a land whose name is now lost to memory.  In a very real sense, the story of Christmas is the story of human civilization, and it belongs to everyone rather than only to the members of the Johnny-come-lately religion whose label and rationale is now most commonly associated with it (and whose leaders, until quite recently, wanted absolutely nothing to do with it because they recognized it as the pagan rite it is).

Though people have affixed all sorts of mythology to the holiday, the real reason it exists is the event which occurred last night at 23:03 UTC:  the winter solstice, when the apparent course of the sun reaches its southernmost point.  Last night was the longest of the year, and for the next six months the days will increase in length while the sun’s apparent course moves northward.  For modern people, wrapped in our technological cocoons and insulated from Nature, it hardly makes any difference; but for our ancestors, dependent upon the return of the spring for their crops to grow, the “rebirth” of the sun was a cause for joy and celebration.  It meant they could be sure that, no matter how cold the rest of the winter to come might be, that it would eventually end; the snow would melt, the plants would blossom and the crops upon which civilization depended could be cultivated.  There’s still a lesson there for us:  no matter how bleak things may appear, and no matter how oppressive the weight of tribulation, there is yet hope; the sun always returns, and spring always comes, even if we must endure dreadful storms before it does.  And if that isn’t a reason to celebrate, I can’t think of a better one.

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