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Archive for February, 2015

People don’t come alone to Mardi Gras to find a hooker.  –  Helena

Whores and Wives

Amateur women’s attacks on sex workers are always pretty pathetic, but this one is truly stupefying:

…real men don’t pay for sex.  A man who needs to objectify women obsessively is not a man at all…when a man pays for sex, it says a lot about his character.  It takes a certain type of man to believe that women can be bought and sold…just because you need sex doesn’t mean you have to get it through prostitution; a real man knows how to get it without his credit card…sex shouldn’t be bought, but earned…A real man would never take another man’s daughter, forced to live a life of prostitution, to bed. A real man isn’t satisfied with fake moans…

The way she flails wildly between demonizing whores and denying our agency is especially fascinating.

Not To Be Taken Internally (February Updates)

“Lillian” is the professional name of Padge Victoria Windslowe, who is on trial…[for] third-degree murder…in the Feb. 8, 2011, death of exotic dancer Claudia Aderotimi…[who] flew to Philadelphia from London for a buttocks-enhancement procedure that consisted of silicone injections administered by Windslowe…The 20-year-old died after the silicone migrated to her lungs…Windslowe is [also] charged with aggravated assault for injections she gave 23-year-old Sherkeeia King in February 2012 at a “pumping party”…King was hospitalized, vomiting blood and struggling to breathe.  Doctors found that silicone in her buttocks had migrated through her bloodstream to her heart and lungs…

Above the Law rapist cop James Greene

This week’s rapist cops hail from Louisiana:  “…James Greene [of Shreveport] was [only] charged with abuse of office…[for raping] a woman [at gunpoint]“…and Canada:

Three Toronto police officers…have been charged with…gang sexual assault…Constables Leslie Nyznik, 38, Joshua Cabero, 28, and Sameer Kara, 31…[raped] a female [cop]…

Sex Work is Work

The ridiculous need to deny that sex work is legitimate work has some weird results at tax time:

…Ms X…set out her business plan for the Tax Office in considerable detail and sought confirmation that her earnings from her proposed activities would not attract tax in Poland.  She would supply, she said, “virtual sex services”, using internet cameras and microphones to connect [to] the service buyer…Prostitution is not forbidden by law in Poland, but at the same time does not constitute a “socially desirable or acceptable behaviour”, and so contracts for prostitution cannot amount to valid and legally-enforceable undertakings.   No income tax is due if a particular activity cannot be the subject of a legally-binding and enforceable agreement…the Tax Office…took the view that…as there was no physical contact in the services proposed, there was no…prostitution…and therefore…not tax-exempt.

Don’t be stupid, ladies; it was “tax evasion” that finally took down Al Capone:

A South Dakota man…paid $1 million over a four-year period for sex with an exotic dancer…David Karlen…was a star witness in a federal trial last year against Veronica Fairchild.  She was accused of failing to pay taxes…sentenced to nearly three years in prison and ordered to pay more than $214,600 in back taxes.

Original Sin (#321)

An especially amusing twist on the “porn causes sex trafficking” trope:

…Pat Robertson…linked women who enjoyed…Fifty Shades of Grey to an increase in sex trafficking around the world…“How many women have read the book and how many women are going to the movie…It’s about all kinds of sadomasochism, it’s about bondage, about whips, it’s about boiling oil, it’s about various types of restraints”…

Girls, Girls, Girls! (#337)

This article on how Mardi Gras affects the sex industry in New Orleans is interesting and more or less accurate (though I see some things have changed since my time, like this new “single woman” rule), but woefully incomplete:  the “New Orleans sex economy” ain’t just strip clubs, y’all.

Imaginary Evils 

Remember, huge police operations have never found more than a single-digit number of “sex trafficking” cases in the UK:

Inside one of Britain’s biggest special anti-trafficking operations, police officers surrounded by files, forms and photographs attempt to unravel a complex network of crime…Operation Retriever was set up in September after police in northern England were alerted to a Slovakian woman who had been tricked into travelling to Britain and then forced to marry a man…There are as many as 13,000 victims of slavery in Britain, forced to work in factories and farms, sold for sex in brothels, or imprisoned in domestic servitude…

devilsdoorbell

Innocence Never Had

Why can people not get this simple concept through their thick skulls?

Homelessness is one of the main reasons youth…engage in “survival sex”…LGBTQ…youth are dramatically more likely to trade sex for a place to stay, according to a new study…Prior research has shown homeless LGBTQ youth were “seven times more likely” to trade sex than their heterosexual counterparts…Those surveyed saw, on average, 11 to 18 customers weekly…The law considers any minor participating in the sex industry to be “trafficked”…but…only 15 percent said they had been in an exploitative situation during their time in survival sex…

Bread and Circuses

It’s good to see the mainstream media getting it:

…on June 25, 2014, visitors to RedBook got a rude shock.  Instead of a directory of links to sexy ads, forums, and reviews, they saw a dire-looking alert from the Department of Justice, FBI, and IRS stating that RedBook’s domain had been seized.  The Feds’ message, still up today, asserts that there is probable cause that the site was involved in “money laundering derived from racketeering based on prostitution”…

Legal Is As Legal Does (#450)

Banning prostitution from Auckland’s troublespots will not be a job for the Government.  Instead, Auckland Council has been told it already has the power to pass a bylaw to address the problem.  There had been interest in the law change because other cities, in particular Christchurch, were keen to have similar powers to ban prostitution near schools, family homes or sports facilities…

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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on January 25th; I have modified it slightly to fit the format of this blog.

group sex statueEvery generation thinks it invented sex, or at least non-vanilla sex.  And I don’t just mean teenagers who are squicked out by the idea of their parents shagging, either; among vanilla folk and/or those outside the demimonde, the delusion seems to persist through life that nearly everybody who lived before a moving line (hovering like a will-o-the-wisp exactly at the year the believer reached puberty) only had missionary-position sex for the purpose of procreation. Even if the individual is familiar with the Kama Sutra, knows about classical Greek pederasty or has seen the menu of a Victorian brothel, these are likely to be dismissed as islands of kink in a vast sea of unsweetened vanilla custard stretching back into prehistory.  Even doctors quoted in newspaper articles are wont to make incredibly stupid, totally wrong statements like “the concept of having oral sex is something that seems less obscure to you than it did to your parents or grandparents.”  Well, my dears, I’m old enough to have given birth to many of you reading this, and I can assure you that oral sex was not remotely “obscure” to us in those long-ago and far-off days of the early ‘80s; nor was it “obscure” to any of the older men I trysted with in my late teens, many of whom are now old enough to be your grandfathers; nor was it “obscure” to my own grandparents’ generation, who came of age in the Roaring Twenties; nor to the 5.5% or more of the female population who worked as whores in every large city of the world in the 19th century, nor the 70% or more of the male population who had enjoyed their company at least once; nor to any of the long procession of harlots and clients stretching back to before busybodies invented the idea of policing other peoples’ sexuality.  Know what else wasn’t “obscure” to them?  Anal sex.  BDSM.  Role-playing.  Exhibitionism & voyeurism.  Homosexuality.  Cuckolding.  I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea.  Here’s a hint:  most lawmakers have always been pompous ignoramuses too obsessed with telling other people what to do to actually have normal lives, so by the time they get around to banning something it’s a pretty safe bet the majority of everybody else in that culture over the age of 16 already knows about it, and many of them are doing it.

Chief among the popular sex acts that modern mythology pretends were “obscure” is masturbation, at least for women.  The common delusion is that because a culture didn’t like to talk about something, it must not have existed; accordingly, the idea has arisen that Victorian girls were somehow so carefully controlled that they never discovered that touching oneself between the legs (or riding rocking horses) feels good.  And because many women have difficulty reaching orgasm without some form of masturbation, that must mean that pre-20th century women all went around in a perpetual state of sexual frustration.  In the past few years, the ridiculous myth has arisen that Victorian doctors actually gave women orgasms without knowing what they were, and that the vibrator was invented to speed up what they viewed as an odious task.

Where do I begin?  In the first place, this tale is so incredibly recent I never heard of it during any of my extensive sexological reading in my teens and twenties; it seems to date to the nineties at the earliest.  Next, it’s a lovely example of Anglocentrism; just because Britons and Americans were so publicly hung-up about sex in the 19th century, doesn’t mean everyone else in Europe, Asia, Africa and the entire Southern Hemisphere was; are we to believe the bulk of female humanity was bereft of the blessing of orgasm until wise white sagesVictorian dildo ad bestowed the gift of the vibrator on their benighted nether regions?  Furthermore, the idea that public posturing actually indicates private feelings, to the point that those who spread this legend actually imagine that dudes were strenuously trying to avoid touching strange women’s twats, is just so colossally dumb it could only be believed in the middle of the neo-Victorian Era.  And a brain has to be pretty deeply mired in 21st-century chauvinism to actually believe that those silly old Victorians didn’t know what a freaking orgasm looked like.  But you don’t have to take my word for all that:

…some historians have claimed women were brought to a “hysterical paroxysm” (supposedly an orgasm that nobody wanted to admit to), by their doctors through “pelvic massage” (masturbation).  To aid them, a vibrating device was invented because there were just so many women who needed this form of treatment that the poor doctors’ hands were getting tired, and they had to use a machine…this…idea…seems to have taken root in our popular culture, helped by “shock exposés”, a few books, and the 2011 film Hysteria, where…Victorian doctor…Mortimer Granville, turns his 1880s invention of a muscular massage device into a sexual awakening for his female patients.  So did the real Dr Granville invent an electronic device for massage?  Yes.  Was it anything to do with the female orgasm?  No.  He actually invented it to help stimulate male pain relief, just as massage is used today.

Victorian doctors knew exactly what the female orgasm was; in fact, it’s one of the reasons they thought masturbation was a bad idea…Marriage guides…often claimed that a woman in a sexually satisfying relationship was more likely to become pregnant, as the wife’s orgasm was just as necessary to conception as her husband’s…The Art to Begetting Handsome Children, published in 1860, contains a detailed passage on foreplay…A Guide To Marriage, published in 1865 by the aptly named Albert Sidebottom…[advises] young couples…that “All love between the sexes is based upon sexual passion”…In 1877, Annie Besant, a one-time vicar’s wife, helped to publish Fruits of Philosophy, a guide that set out every possible contraceptive method available…its British circulation reached over 125,000 in the first few months alone.  So can we please stop saying Victorian women were having unknown orgasms stimulated by their doctors?…

Unfortunately, most people value the truth far less than they value the ability to feel smug.  And people several generations dead are so easy to feel smug about; after all, they aren’t around to tell you that you’re more ignorant about their lives than you pretend they were about sex.

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I recently started dating an escort that I’ve been seeing professionally for a while, but I found out that all of her escort friends are warning her away from me.  Why are they so skeptical about my feelings toward her?

Relationships with escorts are fraught with complications for a number reasons, including but not limited to:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

  • Clients trying to get free sex by promising “love”, just as men have done to amateur women for millennia;
  • Clients who are turned on by whores qua whores, and not really attracted to the women as individuals;
  • Guys who really think they love a whore, but are not  prepared for the social stigma or the burden of having to keep her secret from employers, family, friends, etc;
  • Men who really are in love with whores, but let jealousy destroy the relationships;
  • Men who fancy themselves pimps and try to manage their girlfriends’ work, even to the point of abusive and controlling behavior;
  • Boyfriends or husbands who demand that the sex worker give up her work and either become economically dependent (“barefoot and pregnant”) or go to work in a shitty non-sex “straight” job that will wear her down;
  • Clients who think they’re in love with a woman, but are actually just infatuated with her business persona;
  • Guys who imagine that sex workers’ sex drives are higher than those of amateur women, or that they’re always more open-minded about preferences and kinks that they’re not being paid to indulge.

Those last two are probably the most insidious, because they may be hard for either party to tell apart from real affection and only reveal themselves once the couple is cohabiting and he discovers that he doesn’t like her relaxed, yoga-pants-wearing, housework-hating, menstruating, bad-hair-day-having, moody, personal-problem-suffering, family-drama-experiencing, opinion-expressing, not-always-in-the-mood, idiosyncratic self.  And this is just a start; if I sat here for a while I could probably think of half a dozen more, and I invite sex workers to include others in the comments.  I’m not saying a relationship with a sex worker is impossible; most of us do indeed have intimate partners, most of whom are male and some fraction of whom were formerly clients.  But there are special difficulties inherent in such relationships that require patience, wisdom and love to overcome or circumvent, and because several of those only apply to partners who started as clients, many sex workers are of the opinion that it’s better to minimize problems by eliminating those potential avenues of difficulty through the strategy of never, ever becoming emotionally involved with clients in the first place.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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If sex has no value, how can prostitution be illegal?  –  Beaufort Observer

The Biggest Whores

Quite possibly the stupidest statement ever made about sex:

North Carolina government officials who are having secret sex with lobbyists need fear no more:  The state’s ethics commission has decided such illicit relationships are completely fine…The opinion…essentially says that…Sex has no value…and so it doesn’t need to be disclosed…In an editorial published under the headline “Has the State Ethics Commission made prostitution legal in North Carolina?” the Beaufort Observer denounced the…idea that sex has no monetary value….[and] suggested that the latter idea may lead to the legalization of prostitution…

Surplus Women 

Dominick Everson admitted to police that he hired Ezrhea Danyell Cherry…[and claimed he] paid [her] before…sex…[but when] he pulled out “a wad of money” to tip [her, she] pulled a gun on him and told him to give it up.  Everson [claims]…he [then] pulled a gun of his own and opened fire, striking the woman once in the front and three times in the back.  He then fled from the scene in Cherry’s car…During a different interview, Everson told authorities that he didn’t kill the woman at all, and that another man [did]…When prosecutors pressed Everson about why the gun supposedly carried by Cherry wasn’t found, Everson replied that the police had not done a thorough enough investigation.

Gorged With Meaning

The idea that men paying for women’s company is “unconventional” is so naive it’s hilarious:

A controversial website is connecting…men with young women for cash…is it safe?  Is it even legal?…the average sugar baby receives about $3,000 in monthly allowances…legal analyst Gil Soffer…says this is a legal grey area…It’s fulfilling unconventional needs in a 21st century way.

These articles all contain quotes from “experts” pontificating on the obvious:

…“I absolutely think this is prostitution,” says Laura Killinger, a…former prosecutor…“They have sugar-coated this type of prostitution so that it seems so much more socially acceptable…As a prosecutor, I wanted to take legal action against this activity…but it would take tremendous resources…to make…a misdemeanour case”…

Above the Law 

Sometimes “authorities” completely get away with serial rape:

A prison doctor in New Mexico sexually assaults inmates with rectal exams for everything from tooth pain to toenail fungus, seven inmates claim in lawsuits…Dr. Mark Walden regularly performed “digital rectal exams” for no legitimate medical reason, sometimes without wearing gloves, and fondled them inappropriately…When…asked the doctor…”claimed he was milking the plaintiff’s prostate and other medically nonsensical responses”…wardens and prison staff knew about the sexual assaults but did nothing to stop them…complaints and reports…were either ignored, “lost,” or met with retaliation…

And sometimes they only mostly get away with it:rapist cop Jonathan Bleiweiss

A…Florida [cop] has admitted to [raping] undocumented immigrants…Jonathan Bleiweiss…pleaded guilty to…14 counts of armed false imprisonment, 15 counts of battery and four counts of stalking.  However, he avoided all of the charges with [the word] “sex” in them…and as such will not be required…to register as a sex offender…

Profound Ignorance

Clueless academic makes stupid, ignorant statements about sex work; Elizabeth N. Brown calls him on them:

…In a new Iowa Law Review article, “Prostitution 3.0“, University of Colorado law professor Scott Peppet…[lays] out the myriad benefits of a “technology-enabled sex market” as well as the legal barriers that “inhibit prostitution-related innovation” in America…the legal climate prevents innovation that could make the industry safer and more socially acceptable, and then this danger and stigma is used to justify continued prohibition…Unfortunately, Peppet’s ultimate vision here is “legalizing Prostitution 3.0 while criminalizing the purchase of sex outside of Prostitution 3.0’s parameters”—which seems far from the lofty liberalism and freedom-of-contract ideas Peppet pays lip service to…It’s a vision that seems predicated on a strange sort of techno-utopian statism, and a disappointing one for those of us who believe prostitution problems stem from black markets and state interference.  In a nice response article…Scott Cunningham and Todd D. Kendall argue similarly, writing that “most of the social problems associated with prostitution are not inherent to the industry, but they are the logical result of the prohibition itself, a conclusion supported by the fact that other, similar, markets not subject to a prohibition experience few of the problems associated with prostitution”…

So Close and Yet So Far

If you’re going to argue against bad sex work laws, it’s probably best if you eschew language like this:

Selling sex is clearly not a job many people would care to have…If you criminalize the pimps, then it means women cannot be compelled into selling their bodies for sex, right?  Wrong…Some prostitutes will be people who freely choose to engage in prostitution; many, however, “have no meaningful choice…Whether because of financial desperation, drug addictions, mental illness, or compulsion from pimps, they often have little choice but to sell their bodies for money”…The new laws…do not protect women from violent johns…

Blunt Instrument

Three massage parlors were shut down in Lomita [California using the excuse of]…exploitation of women and human trafficking.  Although no violations of that nature were found, each business was cited for poor record keeping on matters [of red tape]…Fines could cost the businesses thousands of dollars.  They will remain closed until they [fork over the tribute]…Deputies [pretended that]…the operation [was] in response to complaints from residents…

Shame, Shame

Tracy Clark-Flory interviewed sex workers, including me, for this article on police body cameras:

…Naming and shaming…has a long history in sex work policing.  Police departments have routinely published sex worker photos in local newspapers…”I can’t help but wonder what would have been done with the footage had such a camera been rolling at the time of my arrest,” says Maggie McNeill, who was caught in a sex work sting in 2005…”The potential for shaming is staggering, especially given that sex workers are very often nude or nearly so when the police spring the trap—I was…It’s one of the reasons stings so often employ such huge mobs of cops—15 in my case—when two or three would do…The mentality in play is like a low-level version of a gang rape, a group of thugs bonding over sexual humiliation of a woman…I have absolutely no doubt that particularly juicy video clips will end up in cops’ private collections to be traded between them, even if some authority decides that such clips will not be publicly released,” she says…Audacia Ray…of the…Red Umbrella Project…is worried about body cameras being “used as a tool to shame people who are being arrested…police often make sexual or degrading comments at women as they are arresting them”…”We have strong concerns about what malicious third-party content producers might do with records of police encounters,” said Matt Kellegrew, the lead staff attorney for Red Light Legal…”My worst fear is some type of sex-worker-shaming-meets-Cops-style slander/shock videos popping up”…

Drawing Lines Sheri's Ranch

a press release…from…Sheri’s Ranch, a licensed brothel in Nevada…was…incredibly vile, self-serving (even by PR standards) and stigmatizing to sex workers…We’re used to seeing efforts to deride and harm sex workers, and ugly, flagrant whorephobia, from radical feminist and anti-sex nut jobs like Melissa Farley and Gail Dines, but this one came from a business…that profits off the efforts of sex workers…“We’re concerned that sugar dating websites, platforms promoting prostitution and operating without interference from law enforcement, may one day negatively impact our legal prostitution business.”  This is what our friend Maggie McNeill calls “badge-licking”.  What sex worker on the planet — and what individual citizen, for that matter — thinks that increased interference in their lives or business by law enforcement is a good thing?  While, I give them points for honesty on the “we’re concerned” this will hurt our business bit, the whole thing sounds as though Sheri’s is trying to smear its  competition.  And by “competition” we mean, other sex workers…

Deafening Silence (#415)

End result of prohibitionism: more women are pushed into sex work:

The sex industry that once thrived in Dongguan [China]…has now scurried underground after the hammering of official raids and crackdowns seeking to eradicate the industry last year…Shops and parlors closed down; people were arrested by the hundreds…though places which once provided sex services were forced to close and all the businesses attached to them [were] damaged…sex workers remain…and work at home…[or on] the streets…some female residents who used to work at the region’s bars or catering businesses that failed to survive have become sex workers “for the better pay”…

BDSM (#505)

Just in case you think BDSM isn’t still heavily stigmatized, take a look at this remarkably stupid, impressively ignorant hate-screed:

Dr. Miriam Grossman…[says that] Fifty Shades of Grey teaches your daughter that pain and humiliation are erotic, and your son, that girls want a guy who controls, intimidates and threatens…The first thing you’ll hear from advocates of BDSM is that consent makes it all A-Okay.  That’s bullshit, folks.  Domestic violence shelters are filled to the gills with women who deluded themselves into thinking that intimacy involved consent to being abused…Somewhere along the way, it ends up like the bonding with one’s captor that occurs in Stockholm Syndrome…Young people…especially females, grossly underestimate the effect of sexual activity on their emotions…Men who habitually indulge in BDSM can also end up thinking that a woman’s “consent” to be abused excuses every abusive thing they might say or do to her…indulgence in…BDSM acts as an addictive drug.  It can render such men incapable of any sex that is not BDSM…

Harm Reduction (#506)

Another wake-up call to wives:

Monogamy is against most men’s biological nature.  But nest-building and settling down with one primary woman to raise a family is not.  He’s chosen you, not me.  He might see me as more fun, vivacious or sexual, but he sees you as the best candidate for wife, mother and life companion.  He takes you seriously; not me…he…would rather seek out a willing mistress than rock the boat with you by expressing his frustration at your loss of interest in sex…I’m basically a young, good-looking version of a therapist…[whom] he gets to fuck…

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Diary #243

Maggie 2-19-15The trip to Seattle went as smoothly as I could have wished; the car performed very well, averaging 30 miles per gallon over the whole trip (and remember, a lot of that was over mountains).  The weather was fine nearly the whole way (aside for very light snow between Amarillo and the Texas border), and I was only harassed by one cop (in a Nevada speed trap where the limit abruptly dropped from 70 to 25 while several prowl cars lay in wait).  On Wednesday the 11th I had a lovely dinner with Dr. and Mrs. David Ley in Albuquerque, then met my husband in Las Vegas the following night; Jae and I left Vegas on Sunday morning, stayed in Reno that night and made Seattle by midnight the following night after a 13-hour drive.  Last week mostly involved settling in, though I did find the time to help Mistress Matisse with one of her clients on Wednesday, to do a photo shoot on Thursday and to throw a party for Reason writer (and super sex worker ally) Elizabeth Nolan Brown on Saturday.  And let me tell you, you haven’t really lived until you’ve been to a party where most of the guests are sex workers!  This week I’ve got a lot of catching up to do, and a meeting with a patron tonight; remember, a $500 donation will get you both dinner with me and the satisfaction of knowing you’re contributing to a worthy cause.  If you aren’t in Seattle (or visiting here), keep an eye on this space for my travels and contact me when I’ll be near you.  Even if you can’t afford that much, I truly appreciate each and every donation and I’m working on a way for you to help me out while ordering things you need or might like online.

Needless to say, my life is still in a lot of upheaval right now, so I really appreciate your patience with my chaotic tweeting schedule, slow response to correspondence and other irregularities.  Monday’s column will provide a lot more detail about what’s going on with me, and I’ll continue to keep you posted on developments in these diary entries.

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Back Issue: February 2012

The official and popular paradigm appears to be based on the belief that sex is such a horrible, monstrous abomination that the mere mention of it to an adult can constitute “violence”, that participating in it for taboo reasons can be a “crime”, and that if a person is exposed to sexual contact, conversation or imagery…even one minute before midnight on her 18th birthday she will be instantly and irreversibly ruined beyond any hope of redemption.  –  “Scorched Earth

DarkseidThis was the month in which the structure of the blog began to rapidly shift into the form it held for almost three years, and is not very different from today.  Before this, update and miscellanea columns were separate and monthly; as my news-gathering procedures improved, however, I had far too many items to wait so long between editions.  In the latter part of 2011 there were many extra news columns, and I realized that I had to go weekly to keep up; I’m still not sure exactly why I waited until February, but there you are.  “February Miscellanea” was followed immediately by “That Was the Week That Was“, the column which introduced the new feature and explained the name it bore until less than two months ago; in order to catch up the numbers I then published two a week until #8, which looked very much like the feature still looks, fine-tuning of subtitle appearance and order notwithstanding.

KristofvilleBut though the new feature was the first weekly one, other recurring columns were still monthly; February’s harlotography was “Olympe de Gouges” and its fictional interlude  “Companion“.  Holidays of course still appeared annually; this month’s were CandlemasValentine’s Day and Mardi Gras, with a special tetra-annual appearance by Leap Day.  Another kind of continuity appears in the fact that three columns (“Repeat Offenders“, “One Year Later” and “The Course of a Disease“) are direct sequels to those from a year before, connected by the “one year ago today” feature which had only a few months left to run;half-head man similarly,  “You Oughta Be In Pictures” discussed the importance of pictures in drawing traffic to the posts in which they appear.

Due to fully nine days in this already-short month being taken up in news columns, there isn’t much left to tell.  “Change a Few Words” demonstrates the principle that all prohibition is the same; “Gumbo” provides detailed directions for preparing my sister’s peerless recipe; “Do You Know What It Means?” describes a trip to New Orleans; “That’s the Ticket!” shares another example of absurd “sex trafficking” lies; “The Anti-Life Equation” uses the work of comics legend Jack Kirby to illustrate the evil of denying individuals control over their own lives; “The Sky is Falling!” discusses the panic over young women profiting from sex as they always have; “Profit from Panic” looks at some particularly-egregious rescue industry profiteering; “FarmVille” introduces Nick Kristof’s fun new way to fantasize about controlling brown-skinned women; “Scorched Earth” explores the United States’ all-out war on sex; and “Why is Sex Such a Taboo?” attempts to answer the titular question. Excalibur wedding

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I am outraged that Mr. Alexander for two and a half decades failed to take this matter seriously.  –  Judge Kathleen McCarthy

It’s not often that we have a tie for the most links, but we do this week.  Radley Balko provided everything down to the first video, and Jesse Walker the second video plus “rumor” and “clowns”.  The other links were provided by Grace  (“trigger”), Elizabeth N. Brown (“facts”), Cop Block (“thanks”), Angela Keaton  (“mean”), and Nun Ya (“ANY”).

From the Archives

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People who think they can abolish [sex work] entirely from any country are living in a dream world.  –  Ronald Weitzer

Coming and Going

In 2012, more than 1,000 people were booked into the Bexar County Jail for prostitution and the cost to taxpayers was more than $1.2 million dollars.   State Representative Eric Johnson…has introduced House Bill 1363 to reduce punishment for prostitution.   The bill would make a first or second offense of prostitution a Class C Misdemeanor and calls for an intervention program…community service, counseling, and treatment…

Do As I Say, Not As I Do Samuel Riggi

an Orlando [Florida] police lieutenant…[is] accused of having a sexual relationship with a prostitute and taking nearly $10,000 from her…Gricelda Umana…[said] she and Lt. Samuel Riggi had sex every two weeks for two years, sometimes at the massage parlor where she worked.  She said he asked her for money and said she made 17 deposits totaling almost $10,000 from her prostitution proceeds into his account to protect her from arrest…

One Born Every Minute

A new site that claims to be “the AirBnB for escorts” doesn’t seem to be anything like AirBnB…or like a legitimate escort site, for that matter.  AirSnB—which stands for “Air Sexy Buddy,” I was told— launched in December  and, according to owner Amir Mo, is supposed to be the escort industry’s answer to the sharing economy…Mo said customers pay AirSnB upfront for a date arranged with their escort of choice (based on hourly rates).  After the date, AirSnB transfers the money to the escort, skimming their percentage off the top…if there are any issues—like the escort doesn’t show up or doesn’t follow through…AirSnB will return the money to the customer or give them a percentage back, depending on the situation.  But as if this didn’t sound sketchy enough already, many of the escort listings on the site don’t appear to be…real.  Almost every profile I found was copied word-for-word from listings elsewhere on the internet…

The Course of a Disease

Anti-prostitution campaigners have made grand statements about the effectiveness of Sweden’s hugely influential approach to prostitution.  However, researchers say the claims are grossly exaggerated and the law has put sex workers in greater danger.  The so-called “Swedish model”…portrays itself as an example to emulate.  Ambassadors for the approach preach its virtues to government regulators worldwide…But an increasing number of voices…say claims exaggerate its successes for ideological reasons.  The most recent attacks on the 1999 Kvinnofrid law come from Malmö University researcher Charlotta Holmström.  In contrast to the loud claims of anti-prostitution campaigners, that it has made sex workers safer, Holmström says they are far more vulnerable to exploitation and violence…

J’accuse (#42)

A high-profile pimping case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn nearly unraveled…[when] five of six plaintiffs…dropped their accusations against him…Strauss-Kahn has testified to having orgies…to being “rough” with his sexual “conquests,” and to needing sex with exceptional frequency.  But none of that is illegal…Strauss-Kahn insists he didn’t know the women involved were prostitutes…

But while Straus-Kahn will probably walk away free, French sex workers may not be so lucky:

…Morgane Merteuil…of the French sex worker’s trade union Strass…believes the trial has increased the stigmatisation of the sex industry and has presented a skewed view of the profession.  “There is a confusion with abolitionist organisations between when a client respects a contract and when he does not.  [DSK] didn’t respect the contract…not all clients act like him”…Merteuil says she believes the trial may result in the criminalisation of the sex industry…

Skin To Skin

For many disabled people, sex is off the cards.  While most needs are met through the provision of carers, or by parents, sex is often missed out entirely.  But now a number of sex workers are looking to combat this, stepping into the breach to provide specialist services to help disabled people to fulfil their sexual desires.  It’s easy for disabled people’s sexuality to become obscured by a web of societal assumptions about what it is to be disabled. But of course, disabled people are just as horny as anybody else…

Be Careful Who You Rape

After all, we wouldn’t want to waste effort investigating the rapes of “criminals”:

A new controversial policy requires sexual assault and rape victims to undergo police background checks before they can receive services…[including] rape kits or medical investigations into the criminal activity that was perpetrated against them…The bizarre policy has been around since 2007, but it has only been implemented and enforced since November…Critics of this law suggest that many will not come forward to report sexual assaults and rapes if they feel they maybe prosecuted for something…

Sex Rays

Sometimes it’s hard to believe the people who write these stories actually take them seriously:

Their locations are blended right into the fabric of busy communities. They set up shop next to store fronts and restaurants…police raided the Queen Spa, an illegal massage parlor set up near the University of Rhode Island…next to a Dunkin’ Donuts and Subway sandwich shop…other suburban locations where illegal massage parlors open…[include one] just feet from an ice cream stand and a toy shop…

Remember, sex work was only recriminalized in Rhode Island five years ago.

The Roof Caves In (#425) 

Disgraced anti-sex trafficking activist Somaly Mam’s new charity – which is headed by former staff of her fallen foundation, a Hollywood actress and a PR guru – announced…that it has been given the green light in the US…The organisation, which will employ about 37 full-time staff and expects to generate more than $682,000 this year…

Bread and Circuses

The war on sex worker advertising continues:

A [Colorado] man…was arrested…for “Use of a Facility in Interstate Commerce to Promote a Business Enterprise Involving Prostitution”…David A. Warmack owned and operated a website business named “Sowet.com”…[which] promoted and facilitated prostitution that took place at multiple massage parlors across the Metro Denver area…

The Face of Trafficking

In the largest ever study into the health of trafficking victims, researchers interviewed more than 1,100 men, women and children in Southeast Asia who had been trafficked into at least 15 sectors – including factory work, domestic labor, sex work and fishing…Most previous studies [only] looked at…women trafficked into sex work…[but] this study found…that women trafficked for other forms of labor, including factory work, domestic work and as brides, suffered worse mental health problems than those trafficked into sex work…

A Year Later

Sex worker advocates are warning Ontario Attorney General Madeleine Meilleur that Canada’s new controversial prostitution law will “force people in the sex trade in harm’s way.”  Meilleur is reviewing Bill C-36 and will file a report on the law to Premier Kathleen Wynne, who has expressed “grave concerns” about the federal Conservative government’s latest effort to deal with prostitution…

Moving Pictures

Add another “sex trafficking” porn fantasy to the list:  “Tricked…features interviews with people in all areas of the sex trafficking trade, including prostitutes who are often victims, the traffickers (pimps), customers (Johns) and the vice officers who fight the trade…

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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on January 18th; I have modified it slightly for time references and to fit the format of this blog.

The Golem (1920)One would think that after a century of the motion picture as an art form, people would grasp that just because something appears on film does not make it real.  Despite its name, even cinéma vérité is less than truthful; as in subatomic physics, even the mere presence of an observer changes the observational subject.  And given that a self-professed “documentary” filmmaker still chooses what to film and what to edit out, whom to interview and whom to ignore, how to frame different viewpoints and what the narrator will say, no reasonable person could imagine that simply granting a production replete with exaggeration, distortion and outright lies the dignity of a “nonfiction” label actually has the power to make it so.  Unfortunately, the majority of the population is anything but reasonable, and misnaming a drama a documentary or claiming that it is “based on a true story” is more than enough to convince them that real life is truthfully and objectively portrayed therein.

As you might expect, moral panics have often been amplified by such means, but the advent of cheap digital cameras and software-based editing has democratized the filmmaking process to such an extent that the first moral panic of the internet era, the “sex trafficking” hysteria, has been promoted thus to an unprecedented extent.  So while the two most prominent examples of “sex trafficking” fetishism misrepresented as fact, namely Taken and Eden, are products of the professional moviemakers’ craft (the former a big-budget studio release, the latter a smaller-budget “independent”), there have also been a plethora of semi-professional and amateur films, ranging from small-budget to no-budget, which purport to tell the “truth about sex trafficking” to credulous, slack-jawed audiences who prefer their BDSM porn in disguised form.  Much has been written about the fraud named Eden and the chief perpetrator of the scam, Chong Kim; applying the same scalpel to the body of low-end “sex trafficking” cinema soon results in a gory mess too graphic even for the slasher movies which appeal to roughly the same sensibilities as these so-called “documentaries”.

In just the past two years I’ve logged eight of these cheapies:  Ente, Lot Lizard, Anna, Dirty Little Secret, The Making of a Girl, International Boulevard, Chosen and The Long Night; it’s entirely possible that there may have been others which escaped my notice.  Then early last month I read reports of not one but three more, all in the same day.  The headline for the first, 8 Days, alludes to the aforementioned blockbuster Taken, and the article itself seems to have been written by a Hollywood wannabe:

A new film based on actual events exposes the shocking secrets of Human Trafficking.  If you think it isn’t happening in your hometown, you’re wrong…8 Days…is…based on a true story…a teen named Amber who comes from an affluent Texas family, goes to a…party where she gets drunk, is kidnapped, and later sold to pimps…“kids are targeted at the mall or the movies, parties and at school,” said Jaco Booyens, the film’s director.  “In the movie, Amber was trafficked by a friend.  A friend!  They’re using people you know to create a comfort zone”…Booyens says the average age…is 12 years old…raped sometimes up to 20 or 30 times in a single day…Victims are often snatched from places such as a party, the mall or the movies, and often, sex traffickers pay someone who is friends with the teen to bring her to a party where they will take her…

Note the repetition, the use of familiar-but-bogus “facts”, and the director’s pretense that because something appears in his movie that somehow constitutes evidence of its reality.  Note also that the story starts with what I call the “Profession of Faith”, the central creed of the “sex trafficking” cult, as does this one:

Filmmakers behind The Trafficking Life…want to get their point across that human trafficking is not just happening somewhere else.  It’s become a big problem here at home…Diana Cisneros…is the center of a new documentary in which she shares the growing problem taking place in Kern County [California]…

Kern County is infamous for this kind of moral panic; it was one of the early centers of the Satanic Panic as well.  But while fanatics claim that “sex trafficking happens everywhere”, the truth is that it’s sex trafficking hysteria that’s nearly omnipresent:

A Path Appears investigates young women in America forced into a life of prostitution…in our own backyards — in Chicago and Nashville and Boston.  The Department of Justice estimates that there are 300,000 children at risk of being trafficked into sexual slavery in the U.S…Ashley Judd and Nicholas Kristof are guided through the streets of Nashville by a woman who was first sold to a pimp by her mother at the age of 12, and then visit an example of a solution that works…sting operations cracking down on the buyers of sex…

David DelayNone of these fakumentaries take the trouble to investigate squat; as should be obvious from the repetition of prohibitionist lies in these articles, all they do is to parrot the same old nonsense about “children”, “pimps”, “sex slavery” and the like while infantilizing sex workers, demonizing clients, lionizing cops and celebrating criminalization.  But when anything becomes as popular as these films have, it’s inevitable that life will start imitating art, at least in the minds of the corrupt:

The…founder and owner of “Grandpa’s RV Productions,” David Delay, Sr., is accused of coaxing two teens into prostitution and then threatening to expose them on Facebook if they stopped working for him.  Delay, 48, has been charged with a host of pimping-related crimes alongside Marysa Renee Comer, a 20-year-old woman accused of assisting in running the operation from their Lynnwood [Washington] apartment…an 18-year-old young woman…fell in love…with Comer, who began picking her up at school with Delay.  The [young woman] began dating Comer and Delay, in an effort to make a life with Comer…they told [her] they were making a documentary about human trafficking and  prostitution.  “They stated it was best for her to be involved in the documentary by escorting so that she can know what it is really all about”…said [the] charging papers…Comer and Delay set up the encounters and took all the money she was paid…a subsequent search of prostitution advertisements by police supported [her] claims that she’d been taken around the country to work as an escort…

In other words, an actual criminal got the idea for his criminal acts from the propaganda put out by the people who pretend to be interested in fighting such exploitation; given that it happened in the state that’s most heavily invested in “sex trafficking” hysteria, it’s the kind of irony one might expect to find in a Hollywood screenplay.

Cut.  Print.

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A cleaner, sweeter bed-fellow does not exist.  –  Greville’s letter praising Emma to Lord Hamilton

When Mandy Rice-Davies compared herself to Lady Hamilton, Lord Nelson’s mistress, it is doubtful that any of the reporters who made her famous for the reference had any confusion about what she meant.  But the 1960s were a more sexually honest time than our own, and nowadays writers are even more likely to prevaricate about Lady Hamilton’s harlotry than they are about Rice-Davies’; a BBC article on the famous affair even goes so far as to say that “[Nelson and Hamilton] had fallen out of love with their partners”, as if the Lady had married her patron due to “falling in love” in the first place.  In fact, there’s another modern term for the way they came to be together, more pejorative  even than “prostitution”; read on and you’ll see what I mean.

Amy Lyon, the daughter of a blacksmith named Henry Lyon and his wife Mary, was born on April 26th, 1765 in Cheshire, England.  Her father died when she was an infant and her mother raised her alone, later sending her to live with her grandmother in Wales.  At twelve she started working as a maid and soon met another maid named Jane Powell, who aspired to be an actress; through her Amy found work at the Drury Lane theatre as a maid to several actresses, during which time she lived in the home of a brothel madam named Mrs. Kelly.  Her beauty and grace attracted the attention of James Graham, the doctor who owned an establishment called the “Temple of Health and Hymen” where couples could pay £50 a night (over £3000 today) to have sex in the “Celestial Bed”, which administered mild electric shocks that were supposed to cure infertility and encourage the conception of “perfect” babies.  Amy’s job was to be a hostess, model and erotic dancer, presumably to augment the effects of the electric bed.  When she was sixteen she was hired by Sir Harry Featherstonhaugh to provide entertainment at a several-months-long standing party; she is known to have danced nude on the dining room table at this shindig, and her other activities may be guessed by the fact that she was pregnant by the end of the summer, presumably by Sir Harry.

As was typical in those days, Sir Harry blamed the pregnancy entirely on Amy, so though he was still supporting her she decided to become the kept woman of Charles Francis Greville, an MP and the second son of the first Earl of Warwick.  Though Greville was in love with Amy, he was quite domineering and appears to have viewed her as a piece of property.  When the baby, who was given the name Emma Carew, was born, he sent her away to be raised by a couple named Blackburn; around this same time he also demanded that Amy change her own name to Emma, specifically “Emma Hart”.  When he had her portrait painted by his friend George Romney, the painter became obsessed with her; he made so many sketches of her (both nude and clothed) at this time and later that he was able to paint a number of portraits of her without further sitting.  Because Romney was a popular painter, Emma became well-known in London society both for her wit and personality and as an artist’s model.

Unfortunately, Greville spent far beyond his means, and by 1783 he needed a new source of funds; he decided to acquire them by marrying the young heiress Henrietta Middleton, but since it was common knowledge that Emma was his lover he had to be rid of her.  He therefore convinced his uncle, Sir William Hamilton, to accept her as his mistress.  Hamilton was an art collector, and no doubt viewed the now-famous beauty as a valuable find; he also wanted to facilitate his nephew’s marriage so as to eliminate his frequent requests for money.  The deal was therefore made without Emma’s input or knowledge, and she was shipped off to Naples (where Hamilton was the British envoy) under the guise of a six-month holiday while Greville was supposedly away on business.  She was, in other words, “sex trafficked”, sent from one owner to another in a different country.

But though Emma was furious upon discovering what was really expected of her, she eventually adapted to her situation.  Hamilton’s home was beautiful and his art collection renowned, and he was a widower who, far from viewing her as an embarrassment, instead encouraged her modeling, singing and other performance.  The form for which she became known was called “attitudes”; this consisted of an act in which she would wear a simple gown dressed up by scarves and shawls which helped her to evoke images from history and classical mythology by posing.  The audience was then supposed to guess who she was portraying.  Though this may sound a bit silly to modern ears, the effect was apparently very striking; Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote, “The performance is like nothing you have ever seen before.  With a few scarves and shawls she expressed a variety of wonderful transformations.  One pose after another without a break”.  Within a few years of her first performance in the spring of 1787, a number of other actresses took up the art; over the years Emma herself evolved from mere posing into acting out short pantomimes, most famously portraying Medea.

Sir William eventually married Emma on September 6th, 1791; he was sixty and she twenty-six.  The match gave her the title by which she was forever known afterward, though friends still called her “Emma”.  It also gave her the duties of a diplomat’s wife, among them entertaining Horatio Nelson (then a mere post captain) when he came in 1793 to request reinforcements from the King of Naples.  By the time he returned in 1798 he had lost an arm, an eye, most of his teeth and the majority of his health, but had won both the Battle of the Nile and worldwide fame.  Sir William invited the great man to recuperate in their home, nursed by his young wife, and it was at this time that the two began their affair.

But while one might think this a betrayal of hospitality, the truth is that Sir William definitely knew about and seems to have even encouraged the affair; he and Nelson respected and admired one another, and Emma and Nelson had similar feelings for one another.  Indeed, the relationship soon developed into a ménage a trois; after the Neopolitan Revolution of 1799 the ailing Hamilton was allowed to retire and return to England, accompanied by Nelson, who openly moved in with the Hamiltons despite having a home (and wife) of his own.  In fact, the arrangement became such a huge scandal that the Admiralty ordered Nelson back to sea to keep him away from Emma.  The public, however, was fascinated and the Hamiltons seemed completely unconcerned with what anyone said; when Emma gave birth to a daughter on January 31st, 1801 she named her “Horatia”, flagrantly advertising her paternity.

Alas, their happiness was not to last long.  Sir William, whom Emma had grown to love, died in 1803 and Nelson returned to sea to fight Napoleon soon afterward.  The daughter Emma was carrying at the time died soon after her birth early the next year, and she consoled herself by gambling and otherwise wasting money; when Nelson died at Trafalgar in October of 1805, she had nothing left but Hamilton’s £800/year pension, which she exhausted trying to build up Merton Place (the house Nelson had bought for the three to live together in) as a monument to the great man.  Now the government decided to have its revenge on the woman it considered a double embarrassment for tarnishing the reputations of two of its favored sons: Emma was barred from Nelson’s funeral, and his request that she and Horatia be provided for was totally ignored; money and gifts were instead showered upon Nelson’s widow, brother and other family members.  As her looks and figure were long gone, Emma could no longer attract a patron; she fell deeply into debt and after Nelson’s love letters to her were stolen and published in 1814, the government exacted one more act of petty vengeance by throwing her into debtor’s prison.  After her release that autumn she fled to France with Horatia, where she died on January 15th, 1815.  Men in power are never kind to women who have embarrassed them, and neither Lady Hamilton’s title nor the exalted reputation of her most famous lover could save her from being treated like any other troublesome whore.

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