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”
By 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.
The 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 was for a while before it was largely superseded.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 Yule, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing 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 behavior 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.
Of 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.