When you have sex with someone, you give them a part of your soul. – quoted un-ironically by Time
After the events of the last several weeks, a recent article in Time seems bizarrely anachronistic. Now, long-form articles like this one aren’t written in days, but in weeks; it’s pretty obvious that this one was started on the other side of the watershed, and the passages about Amnesty may have been grafted on as an afterthought. Because while many reporters these days are beginning to be skeptical of “sex trafficking” lies, this one swallows them like a local-paper stenographer. While in the wake of the Rentboy raid, most large media outlets are beginning to view the shockingly sexist rhetoric of “sex trafficking” fetishists with more skepticism, Time instead parrots neofeminist gobbledygook about “prostituted women” and evil men who “exploit” them by offering them pay for services rendered. And while many stories now quote experts who have actually studied the violence inflicted by cops upon sex workers, this one instead quotes cops as though they weren’t pathological liars and licks badges with a fellatory gusto that is quite nauseating. The article is much too long and derivative to bother quoting at length, but I would like to focus on a few of the more horrific passages.
The first subsection sets the tone by mindlessly repeating prohibitionist claims without an investigation whatsoever. Even the slightest bit of research, for example, would have revealed the egregious lie behind Tom Dart’s “end demand” pogroms: while the claim is that Tom Dart’s Chicago police operations now concentrate on clients and “help” sex workers, in fact felony convictions for sex workers have increased 68% since the start of the program, and now make up 97% of all prostitution-related felony convictions in Cook County. Furthermore, while it pays lip service to the recognition that transwomen are disproportionately represented among sex workers, it doesn’t mention Dart’s vile practice of charging trans sex workers as clients to boost the appearance of “ending demand”. It relies heavily on stigmatizing language like “some men…grasp at the sexual cornucopia they think they are owed” to generate anti-client feelings, despite the obvious illogic in the idea that people who seek to buy a thing actually think they are “owed” that thing. And it revels in the degradation of men who are treated as criminals for seeking consensual sex, an approach that would be vilified if it were discussing busts of gay men in bathhouses.
The next section is propaganda for the Swedish model on which “end demand” is based, but like all pro-Swedish articles does not mention that violence vs sex workers increases under that model; furthermore, it pretends that Dart’s “CEASE network” is an independent association of cities, when in fact it is merely a front for a private organization, “Demand Abolition”, run and funded by morally-warped multi-billionaire Swanee Hunt. It also fails to mention that those who have attacked Amnesty’s support for decriminalization are not sex workers or objective researchers, but moralistic ideologues committed to suppressing the truth about the harm caused by the Swedish model, ideologues who repeatedly mischaracterize the model as “decriminalization” in order to fool the uninformed into thinking sex workers, Amnesty and other human rights organizations support it. And as usual, it conflates legalization with decriminalization, then touts the problems of the former (which virtually no sex workers support) as though they occurred under the latter.
No article lionizing the revolting Tom Dart could be complete without praising his campaign against Backpage, which of course ignores the terrifying constitutional and practical implications of allowing a local politician to make decisions affecting not only the whole US, but the entire world...including countries in which prostitution is perfectly legal. And though it quotes Amnesty about the violence of some clients vs. sex workers, it totally ignores the far greater problem of police violence – including rape – against sex workers in criminalized and legalized regimes. But of course, this makes perfect sense; if one is going to publish propaganda, one can’t be distracted by facts. And if one’s going to publish a hagiography of a monster, one’s going to have to ignore or misrepresent the various evils and tyrannies for which he is responsible.