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Archive for May, 2015

Some habitual farters argue that they need to fart for medical reasons but that doesn’t mean my kids should have to smell their farts.  –  Peter Walters

An excellent crop this week!  The video, a musical version of my adage “Never call the cops for any reason whatsoever”, was brought to my attention by Formerly Dave, and the links above it were provided by Radley Balko (“safety” and “elderly”), Grace (“shitty” and “Walters”), Carol Fenton (“Gideon”), Jesse Walker  (“travel”, “equivalent” and “population”), Franklin Harris (“another”), Michael Whiteacre (“PETA”), Dan Savage (“stroke”), and  Domina Elle (“flashbang”).

From the Archives

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The [Satanic] panic…was instigated and perpetuated mostly by groups of fundamentalist Christians who saw Satan in every heavy metal album, “Smurfs” episode, and Dungeons & Dragons game.  –  Radley Balko

The Biggest Whores

An Australian lawyer chides prohibitionist peers:

…If lawyers picked and chose…their clients…based on morality, then those individuals who fall on the wayside of public opinion would be completely without assistance…I was essentially being called morally bankrupt by two men who have acted for some of the most notorious criminals this state has come across.  They have also acted on behalf of alleged criminals who have been found not guilty.  If these men had subjected their clients to the same moral rigour as they have with sex workers, those clients may not have had the benefit of their legal services to begin with, and may have subsequently found erroneously guilty…when lawyers cast…moral aspersions on parts of society, something we are specifically trained not to do in ethics class, that does not leave much hope for the minority that are subject to those aspersions…

Do As I Say, Not As I Do 

The inevitable result of criminalization:

…Tucson [cop]…Shane Barrett said the department first received complaints about [an alleged brothel]…on Nov. 29, 2011.  The Pima County Attorney’s Office used Barrett’s affidavit as the basis for trying to seize $15,000 and a long list of property from the accused operators…Clarissa Lopez and Ulises Ruiz…[cops] finally obtained and served search warrants on Ruiz and Lopez’s home and their places of business…three years and two months after the initial reports…TPD is conducting an internal affairs investigation alongside the criminal investigation…It’s unclear whether the implicated officers are thought to be customers of the brothel or involved in some other way…

Held Together With Lies

Prohibitionists make up a bunch of big numbers, then multiply them to get an even bigger fake number.  SCIENCE!

…Prostitution in France brings in an annual turnover of €3.2 billion, a new study funded by the European Commission has found…France’s nearly 40,000 prostitutes…bring in an average gross total of €87,700 a year – much of which is sent abroad.  The authors of the report, who are campaigning for the abolition of prostitution, say that there is a serious tax evasion on these earning that totals €853 million a year.  They added that the total “cost” on society was €1.6 billion…The profession also proves costly for indirect social consequences, the study noted, such as imprisonment for pimping, health expenses, and addictions.  Maîtresse Gilda, spokeswoman from the French sex-workers union Strass said the figures in the study were “delusional”…

The idea that sex workers are to blame for the costs of criminalizing us is the exact moral equivalent of a bully who hits another child with his own hand while mocking, “Stop hitting yourself!”

First They Came for the Hookers…

“Sex trafficking” fetishists target strip clubs because they’re much more easily located than online escorts:

…OneHeart Ministry in Dayton…is…helping women who work at strip clubs who are at risk of being trafficked or are being trafficked…children ages 10 to 12 are being targeted for prostitution…“If you see something, say something,” she said…

Yes, these fanatics are un-ironically using one of the police state’s more notorious slogans.no trafficking shelter here

Gingerbread House

It’s satisfying when the mask of concern for “trafficking victims” slips:

Controversy continues to grow over the proposed safe house for male victims of sex trafficking in [North Carolina]…The group against the safe house said their major complaints were that no one told them it was going right behind their houses, and the fact the boys living there could run away and cause damage to their property. However, they remain adamant that they have nothing against the boys or mission…

NIMBY at its finest and most literal.

Checklist

It’s hard to imagine an article with a lower opinion of female intelligence and agency than this one:

…a…Florida…bill…requires public-awareness signs be placed at rest areas, turnpike service plazas, some emergency rooms, weigh stations, strip clubs and bodyworks businesses not operated by health-care professionals.  The signs will outline how to identify a human trafficking victim along with the phone number of the awareness center.  Signs could also be placed in restroom stalls, allowing victims to self-identify during a rare moment of privacy…a…second bill attacks the root cause of much human trafficking…without the demand by so-called johns, the pimps would be out of business.  To that end, the bill targets first-time offenders with a $5,000 fine, 100 hours of community service and completion of [“john school”]…That should serve as a stronger deterrent than current penalties…

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (#312)

Prostitution activities maybe [sic] permitted in several areas [in Jakarta, Indonesia] in an effort to control illegal prostitutions [sic] in rented rooms and apartments…In addition, allowing prostitutions in specific places was said to enable a check on activities to offer sex by underaged girls…Indonesia Ulama Council’s general head’s representative Ma’ruf Amin…[said] the proposal…deviated from Islamic teaching…

Theatrics 

But hey, they weren’t selling sex, so there’s no need for a crusade or anything:

An Ontario Human Rights Tribunal ruling has highlighted the vulnerability of temporary foreign workers in a case where two women worked in what the tribunal called a “sexually poisoned work environment.”  The women had their work permits revoked and were sent back to Mexico after resisting the sexual overtures of their employer at Presteve Foods…One woman was forced to perform sex acts under threat of being sent home and both were sexually harassed in other ways…

Dysphemisms Galore 

It’s kind of nice to see sex workers described as depraved temptresses rather than helpless victims:

…more terms [have emerged for an] escort [such as]…PSP — or personal service provider…prostitution is utilizing the power of the Internet to lure those who patronize it…The underground flesh trade has become more wired and clandestine…Ashley…moonlights as a PSP to support her obsession with material possessions…mostly…gadgets and signature dresses…she does this to…mask what was really behind her personality…the person she is…too ashamed for others to see…according to psychologist Dr. Estrella Tiongson-Magno, women dabble into prostitution because it is easy money…some men buy sex as a way to escape problems or uncomfortable emotions…however…since the pleasure is not lasting, men have to do it over and over again…Ronald Aguto…of the Cybercrime Division of NBI, said that self-advertised prostitution is rampant online…

Tyranny By Consensus (#346)

I’ll bet you thought opponents of condoms in porn were exaggerating:

California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health has issued a set of safety standards for all California porn production sets.  The 21-page standards presentation…goes into graphic detail about the safety precautions that are to be undertaken when adult video actors perform various acts.  Here’s one eye-opening detail from the document:  “the employer shall provide, at no cost to the employee, appropriate personal protective equipment such as, but not limited to, condoms, gloves for cleaning, and, if contact of the eyes with OPIM-STI is reasonably anticipated, eye protection.  Personal protective equipment will be considered “appropriate” only if it prevents blood or OPIM—STI* from passing through to or reaching the employee’s eyes, mouth, or other mucous membranes“…“OPIM—STI” means pre-ejaculate, ejaculate, semen, vaginal secretions…or…any other bodily fluid…in situations where it is difficult or impossible to differentiate between bodily fluids…

Yes, that means goggles.

Absolute Corruption (#449)

Radley Balko uses the case of Fran & Dan Keller to discuss the Satanic Panic in general:

…”[Texas’] highest criminal court…threw out the 1992 sexual assault convictions against Dan and Fran Keller but declined to find the former Austin day care owners innocent of crimes linked to a now-discredited belief that secret satanic [sic] cults were abusing day care children nationwide.  The Kellers spent more than 22 years in prison…The nine judges did not provide an explanation for why they rejected the Kellers’ innocence claim”…dozens of innocent people were sent to prison for crimes for which there was no evidence other than the coerced testimony of kids, and for which those same defendants would later be exonerated.  Here’s an excerpt from the concurring opinion of Judge Cheryl Johnson, who would have declared the couple innocent:  “This was a witch hunt from the beginning.  The allegations…were based on the testimony of a three-year-old child who…was in therapy for numerous psychological and behavioral issues“…That the highest court in Texas still can’t bring itself to declare the couple innocent, in spite of all that we know now, shows just how difficult it can be to undo the damage caused by a moral panic and junk science in the courtroom…One of the best treatments of the panic is the movie Witch Hunt, which focuses on Kern County, arguable the epicenter of the panic…

Bottleneck (#508)

Prohibitionists never understand how ridiculous they sound to normal people:

Edmonton should stop licensing body rub centres and crack down on their customers instead…four speakers argued…Kylee Nixon from the Friends and Families of McCauley Society called on the city to reduce demand for these services by focusing on johns.  This should include forcing customers to provide their names at the centres and arresting them when they break prostitution laws, she said…

Traffic Circle (#532)

The Washington Post continues to hammer at “sex trafficking” myths:

…many…lawmakers [have] repeatedly cited the statistic that “300,000” children were “at risk” of being sexually exploited.  Often, the source of the statistic was claimed to be the Justice Department…But it turns out that this is another one of those nonsense statistics, based on data so old that the original researcher even says it is no longer relevant.  It also does not have the imprimatur of the Justice Department. In recent months, The Fact Checker has exposed a series of dubious factoids, each of which are endlessly repeated by politicians and, even more irresponsibly, by the media…In 2008, Michelle Stranksy and David Finkelhor of the respected Crimes against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire wrote a report explaining the problems with the Estes/Weiner estimate, as well as other claims about the extent of the juvenile prostitution.  “PLEASE DO NOT CITE THESE NUMBERS,” the report pleaded…how did such an out-of-date guesstimate get touted as a current “Justice Department” figure?…in 2010, the Office of Justice Programs published an article in its Juvenile Justice Bulletin that cited the Estes/Weiner estimate…But the bulletin makes clear that this is only an opinion article and it does not express the official position of the Justice Department.  A Justice Department spokeswoman confirmed that…“No reliable national estimate exists of the incidence or prevalence of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States”…[politicians] should be ashamed of citing a figure that is so out of date and discredited…All lawmakers should stop using it and post prominent corrections of their statements on their Web sites…

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Memory will lay its hands
Upon your breast
And you will understand
My hatred.

–  Gwendolyn Bennett

Today is the twentieth anniversary of an event I’ve alluded to often and described once, and though I did say I was going to write about it again today, I have changed my mind.  Perhaps I should’ve realized this would happen; as I wrote in the last-linked column,

By the time it was over, I felt as though my psyche had received the equivalent of a sustained beating with a wide assortment of blunt instruments; it took me years to recover from the accumulated stress, and I was still subject to panic attacks (often provoked by unpredictable stimuli) until about 2003.  Even to this day I dread being alone with my own thoughts unless I have something like writing or a book to focus on; when unoccupied by work, reading or conversation my brain is wont to start dwelling upon things best left shut up in mysterious boxes under my mental stairs…

I don’t often have panic attacks any more; not from flashbacks to the Year of Disaster, anyhow, and I’ve learned to contain them well enough that only people very close to me can tell something’s wrong.  But though my intellect says it’s ridiculous to let a specific day on the calendar affect me to that degree (no matter what else is going on in my life), I woke up in a depressive, uneasy mood Monday morning, and it took Jae hours to get me out of it; I suppose next Memorial Day will be the same, as it has been for the last 20 years.  I still prefer to avoid thinking or talking about that part of my life even when it isn’t the last week of May, so it probably won’t surprise you when I tell you that even though I had the opportunity to write this essay earlier in the week I kept putting it off and doing other things instead.  As of this writing posting time is only six hours away, and I can’t procrastinate any more…but neither do I have to punish myself further by dwelling upon awful memories.  I don’t think I will ever be able to forget the violent execution of the last pathetic vestiges of my faith in any kind of government actor, but creating more tragedy porn won’t serve any constructive purpose.  As much as it’s humanly possible, I’d rather leave those memories to howl in their crates and never give them the satisfaction of knowing with certainty that I can hear them quite as well as if I were sitting right on top of them.

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I agree with you that “a whore is a whore is a whore”, but it’s one thing to say that and quite another to practice it personally.  I have nothing against women who advertise on Backpage – two of my best friends fall in that category – but the prospect of doing it myself results in a special kind of revulsion.  How would you propose that a whore more accustomed to the “high class call girl” route get over that kind of internalized whorephobia?  It’s not morality, and it’s not even logic; my mentor has suggested that my earnings would improve considerably if I’d get off my damn high horse, work in the big cities at the market rate taking callers on short notice, and quit waiting on men to book long sessions well in advance.  I just can’t stomach the idea of myself as “that kind” of whore, even though I was once previously successful working like that and could use the money.

Don’t be too hard on yourself.  None of us can help what squicks us out, and sometimes the squick factor is stronger than the desire for money.  There’s also the simple fact that we’re all good at different things; “high-end” GFE is so natural and easy for me I can practically do it in my sleep, but domination takes effort and PSE is so hard it’s practically impossible.  But I have friends for whom the order of difficulty is different, and some tell me GFE is so difficult for them they prefer to avoid it entirely.  I don’t think preferring to stick to what one is good at and avoiding what’s difficult or revolting is necessarily a sign of whorephobia; it could just be that you prefer to take a little pay cut to make your life easier (a sin against commerce of which I, too, am guilty).  If it doesn’t bother you that your friends do mid-range touring, and you don’t look back on your own past with disgust, and you don’t treat other sex workers any differently or talk down to them, your problem may not be whorephobia but rather the kind of genteel indolence which causes many of us to pick sex work over our other options in the first place.  If a woman prefers to do sex work because it gives her a higher return for less effort than “straight” jobs, it’s certainly no surprise if she chooses to do a form of sex work she personally finds easier and more palatable over one she finds less so.

(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 a woman is to be believed when she asserts that she did not consent to sex, it follows that she must be believed when she asserts that she did.  –  Pandora Blake and Niki Adams

The Red Umbrella 

A lady suspected to be a prostitute has been beaten by a client…in Accra [Ghana].  According to reports, the unknown young man picked the lady up…and they had a sexual marathon…The man then suggested they go to his house…to finish off the business…but…instead of receiving her wage for the job, she received severe beatings from her client.  Her screams drew the attention of neighbours who came to her rescue…the young man is insisting he never had sex with her…

Dirty Amateurs

Anything that increases the number of amateurs having amateur sex (such as criminalizing sex work) invariably increases the STI rate:

The Rhode Island Department of Health…released data…showing that the rates of HIV and several other STDs are increasing…from 2013 to 2014…The number of infectious syphilis cases increased by 79%…The number of gonorrhea cases increased by 30%…The number of newly-identified HIV cases increased by nearly 33%…The increase has been attributed to…high-risk behaviors that have become more common in recent years…[including] using social media to arrange casual and often anonymous sexual encounters, having sex without a condom…and having sex while under the influence of drugs or alcohol…

Don’t Take My Word For It

This sounds interesting on its face, but keep in mind how abysmally bad most sex work research is; note the small sample and highly questionable methodology.

Women are buying more sex than ever before, according to new research…[which] found that women who pay for sex come from all ages [and] backgrounds and it appears that one of the main reason for the transaction is they lack the time for a relationship.  Researchers…spoke to 21 escorts and are now seeking female customers to continue their study.  The study…found that advertisement profiles of men rose from 5,246 in 2010 to 15,732 this year.  Female profiles rose from 11,056 to 28,614 over the same period…

Under Every Bed 

Grodd

Though most of this is the usual hilarious pearl-clutching hysteria, note the sinister propaganda that “drug dealers are shifting to sex trafficking”; in other words, “authorities” are just using a new excuse to target the same victims they always have:

…Panelists at a forum…told a full room at Beloit Public Library…that human trafficking takes place, even in Beloit [Wisconsin, population 37,000]…“We have drug dealers shifting over to human trafficking as their crime of choice,” said Milwaukee County Prosecutor Christopher Ladwig…Sgt. Theresa Janick of the Milwaukee Police Department has worked undercover in the Sensitive Issues Unit that includes prostitution…“The average age for girls entering into human sex trafficking is 12…”The gorilla pimp…beats on his own chest”…Guns and more violent problems are all wrapped up into one giant crime scene…“Pimps…use mind control”…Detective Joe Cassioppi of the Beloit Police Department [made up] a local case of sex trafficking in which a mother of three was first victimized by an online trafficker in Ohio, then began victimizing her own children…Cassioppi said the mother in this case is now serving 30 years in prison [but presented no names or links to the story]…

My favorite bit is the pimp gorilla with mind-control powers.

Deafening Silence

“Rectification” is a particularly horrifying euphemism:

Beijing Police has ordered six entertainment venues to suspend trading for rectification after being found involved with alleged prostitution and gambling…[this] is the first major raid…in the Chinese capital this year…police has clamped down 68 criminal groups and captured more than 600 criminals charged with prostitution…

Policing for Profit 

At least they’re not pretending that this money is being paid “back” to anyone:

A brothel madam who earned a fortune running an Edinburgh prostitution racket has agreed to hand over £1m.  Margaret Paterson, 62, was jailed for five years in 2013…The crown brought an action to seize any crime profits from Paterson and a…settlement [has] been reached in the case…

Opting Out

Now, this is an interesting development:

…A leaked EU document showed that David Cameron’s approach to online pornography – have it banned by default and make people opt in – has not been viewed in positive terms in Brussels…with the EU reportedly considering making the PM’s plan illegal.  Instead, the European officials would opt for a system that allows pornography by default with users, then being able to opt into a deal where the ISP blocks such content.  The user would also be able to back out of the agreement with the ISP at any time…It [would] at least partially…[ease] the burden on ISPs who have had to deal with numerous issues thanks to the Tory government’s blanket approach…

Fever DreamTBI logo

You may remember the TBI’s bogus “sex trafficking report” from several years ago:

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation announced results of a week-long operation to…identify potential victims of trafficking, arrest those seeking to purchase illicit sex, and learn more about the specific nuances of this type of crime…Governor Bill Haslam signed…a…law giving TBI original jurisdiction over investigations of human trafficking [and]…the state legislature approved funding for four Special Agents, who will exclusively investigate human trafficking cases…the TBI and Vanderbilt University partnered on in-depth studies to better understand the scope of human trafficking in Tennessee…

The idea that cops are interested in the “nuances” of sex work is an insult to the intelligence of anyone who has ever been involved in it in any capacity.

Original Sin (#407)

I’m sick of hearing otherwise-reasonable people declare that the use of violence to suppress consensual adult behavior is something that’s up for “debate”:

Last week the New Statesman organised a debate on “buying and selling sex”…this debate was not about sex workers with different experiences trying to find common ground.  It was not about propping up a flawed binary between “happy hooker” and “helpless victim” (categories that are both used to silence sex workers who speak up).  And it wasn’t a stimulating academic conversation exploring ideological difference.  Sex work is a survival strategy used by real people…The campaign to criminalise clients, and the industry devoted to “rescuing” sex workers from their chosen source of income, is a moralistic crusade with financial and ideological connections to fundamentalist Christianity…Many of the organisations [involved]…oppose gay marriage, sex outside marriage, and abortion.  For example, the [APPG]…choose as its secretariat Care, a notorious Christian charity which sponsored conferences promising to [“cure”] gay people…During the debate, panelist Fiona Broadfoot showed her colours when she claimed that since clients were criminalised in Sweden, the country had become “less sexually deviant” because there was less prostitution.  Are we really going back to the days when consenting sex between adults, in this case where payment is involved, is labelled deviant?…

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Diary #256

Things were a little quieter last week than they have been, which is to say only “very busy” rather than “incredibly busy”.  Unfortunately, very little of what was going on would be of any interest to my readers.  I spent a good bit of it dealing with decorating (as discussed in last week’s diary), a lot of it socializing with sex worker friends, less than I would’ve liked making money (or preparing to make money, or arranging to make money, or laying the groundwork to make money, or…), and far too much doing bookkeeping and dealing with affairs back at the ranch.  And speaking of the ranch, I was also a bit homesick this week; I really had been looking forward to seeing Grace again in April, and was very disappointed when our plans for a visit fell through.  Well, I’ll definitely be seeing her in July; I’ve got a trip scheduled for then that’s much too important to cancel.  So if you live anywhere along my route (Boise, Denver, Wichita, Oklahoma City, and all points in between) and would like to see me when I pass through, now is the time to make yourself known so I can fit you in!  Don’t worry, if you can’t make it on the way out in the last week of July, you could on the way back in early August.

I’ve picked the best shots from the photo shoot I did with Mistress Matisse last week, but they haven’t been processed yet; in the meantime, here’s an unprocessed as-is candid shot Matisse took of me during a break.  See how dedicated I am to keeping up on my communication with my readers?  So if I answered an email from you on the 12th around 3 or 4ish PDT, this is what I looked like when I was writing it.

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Back Issue: May 2012

The only defense against [totalitarianism] is absolute rejection of its underlying premise:  that it is acceptable and even moral for “authorities” to abrogate the rights of individuals for a “greater purpose” or the “common good”.  –  “Pyrrhic Victory

The Destruction of the Army of Sennacherib by Gustave DoreThe columns from May of 2012 seem so familiar and recent in my mind that it’s strange not to see Links columns on the Sundays.  But they didn’t start until August of that year, and descended from my July guest posting on Radley Balko’s old blog, The Agitator.  There are a few other differences; Q & A columns were still monthly rather than weekly (plus the occasional special like “Mentoring“), and I had just begun the “My Favorites” feature which lasted for two years (this month it was “poems”, the harlotography was “Deborah Jeane Palfrey” and the fictional interlude was “Vocation“).  I was also still doing occasional biographies of people I knew personally (such as this month’s “Terrance“), and in addition to familiar holidays like Beltane and Mother’s Day I was writing about classical Roman holidays like Floralia.

Bizarro SuperMason“Sex trafficking” had by then become a very major topic of this blog; “The Naked Emperor“, “Traffic Jam” and
The Power of Myth” all deal with it directly, while “The Pygmalion Fallacy” covers it in passing as part of a larger discussion of stupid beliefs about robotic whores.   “Whorearchy“, “Naked Truth“, “The Daughters of Shamhat” and “Confined and Controlled” all discuss other beliefs about whores in comparison with reality, while  “Mythbusters” hits on tangential issues; “Greeks Bearing Gifts” and “Stranger Danger” cover other wrongful beliefs about sex;  “Variations on a Theme” compares drug prohibition to sex work; “The Shape of the Spoon” and “Push Comes To Shove” address the nanny state; and “Pyrrhic Victory” looks at widespread surveillance and the descent of the West into fascism.  Finally, “Change of Heart” is a statement about the ethics of outing clients, and “Patterns of Schwartz” profiles the man behind some of my favorite comic book heroines. Untitled Landscape with Man and Two Women by Randall Sellers

 

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