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Archive for October, 2015

Halloween 2015

Halloween Witch 3 by Darla V (2014)

Happy Halloween, Dear Readers, and Blessed Be!

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A prison might be defined as any place you’ve been put into against your will and can’t get out of, and where you are entirely at the mercy of the authorities, whoever they may be.  –  Margaret Atwood

Bad Jobs

You’ll notice that sex workers are immune to most of these factors:

People often like to groan about how their job is “killing” them.  Tragically, for some groups of people in the U.S., that statement appears to be true.  A new study by researchers at Harvard and Stanford has quantified just how much a stressful workplace may be shaving off of Americans’ life spans.  It suggests that the amount of life lost to stress varies significantly for people of different races, educational levels and genders, and ranges up to nearly three years of life lost for some groups…

A Tale That Grew in the Telling

There are about 40,000 girls aged 13-17 in San Diego; this “study” claims that 30% of them become “victims of sex trafficking” every year:

A new study released by the University of San Diego and Point Loma Nazarene University revealed that the dark and secret world of sex trafficking in San Diego is the second largest underground economy locally after drugs…sex trafficking is an estimated $810 million-a-year industry and it is run mostly by gangs.  The study revealed that as many as 11,773 become victims to human trafficking in San Diego alone on a yearly basis…Victims are primarily underage…The study was funded by the Department of Justice, and found that more than 100 gangs are involved in the local sex trafficking operations…next to schools, other recruitment hot spots include:  trolley and bus stops, house parties, social media, tattoo parlors, churches, malls…about 1,776 victims/survivors come in contact with law enforcement…

That last is larger than the total number of “sex trafficking victims” that have ever been identified as such in the entire US.

With Folded Hands

Margaret Atwood on the asininity of giving away freedom for “security”:

…Governments know our desire for safety all too well, and like to play on our fears.  How often have we been told that this or that new rule or law or snooping activity on the part of officialdom is to keep us “safe”?  We aren’t safe, anyway:  many of us die in weather events – tornados, floods, blizzards – but governments, in those cases, limit their roles to finger-pointing, blame-dodging, expressions of sympathy or a dribble of emergency aid.  Many more of us die in car accidents or from slipping in the bathtub than are likely to be done in by enemy agents, but those kinds of deaths are not easy to leverage into panic…

Above the Law Patrick Quinn coercive cop

Sometimes sexually-exploitative cops stop short of rape:

In August Patrick Quinn, a 27-year-old…Texas [cop]…pulled over a driver and [claimed he] spotted marijuana paraphernalia in her car.  He told her he would not arrest her if she would let him lick her feet or give him her underwear.  He…was [fired and] sentenced to a year in jail…

Parting of the Ways

Peter Barbey is wasting no time as the new owner of the Village Voice.  Per an interview with [the] Wall Street Journal…he’s nixed the thought of changing the print edition size, pitched to staff the concept of special themed inserts and decided it’s time for a major ad dollar shift:  “Barbey plans to get rid of escort ads, a racy fixture of many an alt-weekly.  ‘Adult women can be escorts, that’s fine with me’, Mr. Barbey said, ‘but it’s not the kind of advertising that fits where we want go’.

Monsters 

Beyoncé Karungi, a 35-year-old campaigner…is in hospital following [a] horrific attack.  The activist had recently penned an article on surviving in Uganda as a trans sex worker, an occupation that can be dangerous and occasionally deadly.  After recieving several hate threats, she went into hiding.  When she emerged, she was attacked by a group of five unknown men.  She sustained several serious facial and bodily injuries…This is not the first time Beyoncé has been attacked…one time police undressed her, took her bag, money and phone and then cut her hair to make her “masculine”…

Frequently Told Lies

The title is “Feminism’s Sex Work Problem“, but this thorough article contains a large section debunking the usual lies prohibitionists employ:

I’m not going to make the pro-decriminalization case here.  Others have made it far more eloquently than I could…However, there are some elephants in the room that simply have to be addressed before a real conversation can occur.  These are mistruths that seem to have become cemented as fact through sheer force of mindless repetition, and unfortunately they severely derail any objective discussion of sex work…

Wise Investment (#440)

Much more of this, please:

Las Vegas police will pay more than $80,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by a woman who said officers detained her for two hours in The Cosmopolitan after falsely accusing her of being a prostitute.  A federal judge wrote that the case showed…prostitution sweeps in casinos were overly broad and threatened people’s constitutional rights.  Chentile Goodman was released without charge after the 2011 incident and filed a lawsuit later that year…

The Camel’s Nose (#504)

Meet CISA, formerly known as CISPA, AKA SOPA, alias PIPA, née COICA:

The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) passed the Senate today by a vote of 74 to 21.  A different version passed the House earlier in the year, so they’re going to have to conference to hammer out differences.  Retail business interests supported the legislation.  Major Internet and tech firms like Google, Apple, Yahoo, and Twitter…opposed it…”CISA…allows companies to monitor users and share their information with the government without a warrant, while offering a backdoor that circumvents any laws that might protect users’ privacy“…Attempts to add amendments to narrow the bill’s focus all failed…The Sunlight Foundation…notes that CISA creates a new exemption from the Freedom of Information Act…”That means if they overstep and share the wrong information — as this bill seems to intend — the public won’t know, and even if it did, it would have no legal recourse…CISA guarantees the public will have no ability to see what information is going from companies to the government“…

What Were You All Waiting For? Richard Branson

I’m glad Richard Branson is speaking out against criminalization, but I wish he’d talk to sex workers so as to avoid gaffes like this:

…There are good Catholic countries like Chile that have legalised prostitution.  And I know its very controversial.  Most people would put their arms up in horror.  But by legalising it, they got rid of the pimps.  The girls are monitored properly to make sure that they are healthy, to make sure they can come forward if they’ve got a problem.  And they believe a lot of the illegal trafficking of young girls has gone away…

Now They Notice

One of the more loathsome uses of asset seizure:  stealing all of the victim’s bank accounts so he can’t pay for a legal defense.

Things aren’t looking good for rentboy.com…The company’s bank accounts containing millions of dollars were frozen and its website was seized by Homeland Security…Now, the company is selling its office supplies and furniture on Craigslist in an effort to raise money to pay for its mounting legal fees…Some of these “goodies” include glass desks, chairs, filing cabinets, and video monitors.  Other items for sale include cables, software, books, magazines, artwork, lamps, a copy machine, and “a lot of special, one of a kind rentboy.com ephemera”…

Seizing Power (#574)

The Cato institute supports sex workers’ right to advertise:

Prior restraints—legal prohibitions on disseminating information before publication—are an odious burden on the freedom of expression and come with a “heavy presumption” against their constitutionality.  Indeed, they are so disfavored in the law as to be virtually impossible to obtain outside of wartime.  Informal prior restraints—government pressure without formal sanction—are even more unconstitutional than formal ones, as the Supreme Court noted in Bantam Books v. Sullivan (1963)…But that strong precedent didn’t stop…Thomas Dart and his crusade against Backpage…As Cato, Reason Foundation, and DKT Liberty Project point out in our amicus brief before that court, Dart’s claimed “epidemic” of sex trafficking has evaded any sort of empirical verification for over two decades.  Indeed, State Department data indicate that the opposite may be true.  Nevertheless, Sheriff Dart, along with a new-age Baptist-and-bootleggers coalition matching the religious right and radical feminists, have raised the human-trafficking bugaboo to rally against prostitution—mimicking the drug war and all of its worst legal mechanisms…

Welcome To Our World (#578)

Here’s the first part of an in-depth look at how the New York Times callously maligned an entire industry – one that, like sex work, provides income for undocumented migrants with little money to squander on bureaucratically-imposed startup costs:

Sarah Maslin…Nir’s coverage broadly [mischaracterized] the nail salon industry, [and] several of the men and women she spoke with say she misquoted or misrepresented them.  In some cases, she interviewed sources without translators despite their poor English skills.  When her sources’ testimonies ran counter to her narrative, she omitted them altogether.  The second article lent the Times’ imprimatur to unproven theories, while committing science journalism’s cardinal sin of highlighting alarmist anecdotes that aren’t representative of systematic research.  If it hadn’t had real-world consequences, the series—and subsequent attempt by Nir and her editors to parry criticism—wouldn’t be worth such intense scrutiny.  But the day after the first article appeared in the print edition of the Times, Gov. Andrew Cuomo…announced a new multi-agency task force to inspect nail salons…The rush to legislate based solely on the Times’ shoddy reporting has hurt the industry.  New nail salons, “which used to open every week in New York,” have stopped appearing…Salons once provided a steady source of jobs for undocumented immigrants; now many owners say they’ll hire only legal workers who’ve completed an occupational licensing program because they’re afraid of getting in trouble…

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For the past couple of years I’ve seen an amazing escort about once a month, and early this year she let me start contacting her via text.  This past summer, I developed deep feelings for her and began to text her frequently just to see how she was doing; I also expressed my affection via emails, cards and gifts.  Two weeks ago she cancelled a session for a reason which sounded good at the time, but I couldn’t get in touch with her for the next four days; we rescheduled, then she cancelled again five minutes before our appointment time.  We rescheduled again, and again she cancelled and has been impossible to reach since then.  I have a feeling she doesn’t want to see me anymore, but why not just tell me?  I’m hurt and angry, and I realize now that I can never have anything serious with her, but is there anything I can do to regain her trust?

Miracle of the Jealous Husband by Titian (1511)It’s not at all unusual for a client to fall in love with a whore; sometimes, as in my case, that can actually go somewhere.  But there were a lot of men who fell in love with me before Matt, and every one of my sex-working friends has had clients fall for her; it’s a natural outgrowth of a situation in which a lonely man spends a lot of time in the company of a beautiful, alluring woman who only shows him her best side.  Sometimes she’s able to manage the situation so he can continue enjoying her company and she can continue enjoying the income, but at other times the situation spins out of control; he may become obsessive and begin to stalk or harass her, and might even become violently jealous.  On rare occasions, an unstable client’s infatuation with a professional can even lead to murder.  Now, I’m sure you’re protesting that you would never hurt a woman, and maybe that’s true; however, it’s equally true that most of the whores who wind up dead didn’t think their murderers would go that far, else they wouldn’t have been caught alone with them in the first place.  The fact of the matter is, all any woman has to go on when deciding whether to be alone with a man is her gut.  And though the instincts of most sex workers eventually become far more finely-tuned than those of our less-experienced amateur sisters, there is no such thing as an infallible cognitive process.  When you started straying out of bounds, wasting the lady’s time with non-appointment-related texting and violating her professional boundaries with excessive courtship displays, her alarm bells started to go off; it’s even possible that the first couple of cancellations were tests to see how you’d react.  And how did you react?  By repeatedly calling her and trying to reschedule multiple times in a very short period of time (your email to me was dated only 16 days after the date of your first cancelled appointment).  And given that you openly admit to being “hurt and angry”, I can imagine what some of your (probably dozens of) texts or voicemails to her during that 16 days sounded like.

stalkerYou ask if there’s anything you can do to regain her trust, but there’s no way I can answer that because I’m not in her confidence and I don’t know how badly you’ve broken it.  It may be that if you let her alone for a few months before sincerely apologizing and asking for an appointment, she’ll give you another chance; most of the whores I know have “fired” clients before, and sometimes they’ve taken them back later.  Before you could violate her trust she had to grant it, and she let you overrun her boundaries for months before doing anything about it; that tells me she was reluctant to end your arrangement, and perhaps that will play in your favor.  But I’ve lived in the demimonde far too long to believe that your repeated attempts to reschedule were anything other than highly alarming, or that you’re as contrite as you represent yourself to be; it’s possible that she will never even speak to you again (much less agree to be alone with you).  Your only chance is to back off and thereby show her that you’re not a deranged stalker; that may not return you to her good graces, but it may at least keep her from adding your name to a blacklist.

(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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Diary #278

1027152344So here we are 9 days after Jae was discharged from the hospital, and we still haven’t got everything in place; I’m waiting for appointment-setting callbacks from two different rehab and therapy agencies, and she has a follow-up appointment with her primary doctor in just a few weeks.  On Monday I need to make some necessary changes to her health insurance, and it will still be another two weeks before my car goes in to be fixed by the insurance of the guy who hit me.  My stupid cell phone carrier sent her replacement phone to the wrong address, but it should be here today so she’ll be back to answering her own calls and making her own tweets.  What that means is, this will be the last column dominated by news of her recovery; I think it’s important that she start taking control of her own life again after two and a half months of other people doing that for her.  I’m still going to be managing a lot of the paperwork so as to keep her from getting overwhelmed by the sheer volume and depth of bureaucratic bullshit, but she should be in charge of her own story again; from here on out I’ll only be talking about her as she impacts my life, just as it was prior to the accident.  And that is the way it should be.

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Once you’ve been arrested for prostitution…that is a stigma that will stick to you for the rest of your life.  –  Norma Jean Almodovar

All in the Family

I sometimes wonder how my life would’ve been different had I had the sense to lie:

What lies do people tell if they work in the sex industry?  For starters, it depends on exactly what they do…An escort named Jane (I’ve changed the names of everyone in this story) tells everyone she’s a real estate agent.  It fits all the data, and also explains why her income is variable…Agency escorts have a different set of challenges, mostly surrounding the “call on” system.  When an escort calls on at an agency, it means that they are dressed and ready to work; if they get a booking, they pledge to arrive to the call within an agreed-upon amount of time…Strippers have a different set of challenges…Jill works in a dominatrix parlor, and her hours are ten to six, Monday through Friday. Equipment is stored at the Midtown studio…Her babysitter thinks she works in HR…

Follow Your Bliss Nathaniel Schlueter

A man involved with helping sex trafficking victims was arrested…during an undercover prostitution sting…Nathaniel Schlueter was arrested by an undercover officer…[whom he] offered $30 in exchange for sexual favors….Schlueter served on the board of directors for The Refuge Ranch, which helps teenage women who have rescued from sex trafficking…

A Moral Cancer (Metaupdates)

Why do people still listen to “nutritionists”?

Bacon, sausage and other processed meats are now ranked alongside cigarettes and asbestos as known carcinogens, the World Health Organization announced…a…scientific panel examined more than 800 epidemiological studies…to…[classify] “consumption of processed meat as ‘carcinogenic to humans’ on the basis of sufficient evidence for colorectal cancer”…Red meat carries a slightly lower risk…but is still “probably carcinogenic to humans.”  Aside from the “strong mechanistic evidence” related to colorectal cancer, the “consumption of red meat was also positively associated with pancreatic and with prostate cancer.  As a main line of evidence, the group cites one study from 2011…

For the source of that 2011 study, click on the subtitle.

BDSM (#30)

A “cult”.  Because mentioning their sex practices wasn’t quite lurid enough.

Three members of a reported “master-slave” sex cult were convicted…of murdering [Brittany Killgore]…Marine Staff Sgt. Louis Perez, 49, Dorothy Grace Maraglino, 40, and Jessica Lynn Lopez, 28, were convicted of torturing and murdering…Killgore “for their own sadistic pleasure,” Deputy Dist. Atty. Patrick Espinoza [claimed]…Killgore was not a part of the cult, which enjoyed bondage, whipping, spanking, cutting, sadism and masochism…Without knowing the three had a “sex dungeon” in their rented home, Killgore had agreed to go on a dinner cruise with Perez in exchange for his helping her move…

Image Enhancement

That the Nevada brothel segment of the sex industry is in decline is not news:

…The Love Ranch epitomizes the sorry state of the industry….there are currently just 17 brothels employing around 300 prostitutes in the state. That’s down from 30 brothels in 2009…“These brothels are really a relic of the past,” a state senator told the LA Times. “The urban areas have an appetite to abolish them.  And given the state’s rapid urbanization, there’s really little popular support left for these businesses”…

That senator is full of shit; 66% of Nevada voters believe they should be legal everywhere in the state.  But just in case you think this is really a serious economic issue, consider that those 300 licensed prostitutes represent less than 1% of Nevada’s estimated whore population.

Paint By Numbers

Why ride a bike or stand around on lawns or off-ramps when you can just sit?

The CNN Freedom Project has been shining a spotlight on the horrors of modern slavery, but now we need your help.  We want you to join our #FlyToFreedom campaign to help fight slavery.  The Freedom Project’s symbol is a paper plane…so we’re asking you to:

1) Make a paper plane.
2) Write a pledge on the plane — something you’re going to do to help fight modern slavery.
3) Show us your plane and pledge on social media using the hashtag #FlyToFreedom.
4) Nominate two friends to do the same by tagging them in your social media post.

O, Canada! (All Traffick, All the Time)

Women continue to have bills despite cops’ intimidation attempt:

Twelve Nova Scotia sex-trade workers were [targeted by] a national RCMP [intimidation campaign]…Operation Northern Spotlight [tricked]…11 women and one man in Nova Scotia…[a pig mouthpiece had the audacity to describe the intimidation attempt as] “a fostering and nurturing conversation”…[but fortunately] “they chose to continue their [work]”…

If Men Were Angels

An Idaho college’s former financial aid director has been sentenced to 107 days in jail for charges related to offering students financial aid in exchange for sex…Joseph Bekken…[also got] three years of probation and a $10,000 fine…Bekken advertised on Craigslist for several semesters while working for Northern Idaho College, saying he would provide scholarship money in exchange for sex…

Business As Usual

Though some people refuse to accept this, every sex worker knows it:

…the majority of National Blacklist posts address other issues entirely—things like time-wasters, stalkers and thieves.  But it’s remarkable that  sex workers using a resource describing itself as the “world’s largest bad client database and escort safety tool” seem more concerned about warning each other about police officers than the dangers from which law enforcement is ostensibly meant to protect them…A 2002  study in Chicago found that 24 percent of street-based female sex workers who said they were raped identified a police officer as the perpetrator, and one-fifth of other forms of sexual violence against these women were attributed to police.  A study by the Sex Worker’s Project of the Urban Justice Center found that 16 percent of indoor sex workers surveyed reported having been “involved in sexual situations with the police,” and 14 percent reported experiencing police violence…

Profit from Panic (#448) Scrap Force

How transparent does this have to be before people see it?

Kids are the heroes in a new mobile game [from] Naked Sky Entertainment…and their virtual adventures will provide funds to help children around the world escape from the horrors of human trafficking.  Love146…will receive 14.6 percent of the profits that come out of the new mobile game “Scrap Force”…

The Course of a Disease (#449) 

Cop says it’s “wrong” that he isn’t allowed to arrest people who aren’t doing anything illegal:

…Sgt Neil Radford, the head of Nottingham’s prostitution task force, said:  “On the street, the law allows you to deal with people who are purchasing sex.  But there is no equivalent legislation for off-street work.  If somebody goes into a brothel to purchase sex…he isn’t committing any offence at all.  That’s wrong and we have to be able to do something about it”…

Naked Truth (#544) 

An Egyptian actress…has ignited a nationwide controversy for suggesting that Egyptian men would benefit from watching more pornography.  In fact, she’s facing jail time. Entissar…told a TV audience…that “These films are useful for men, especially those who have no pre-marriage sex experience.”  But beyond what men might be able to learn about sex from such films, Entissar thinks that, “Everyone should be free in watching porn films if they want”…”This is a call for debauchery and depravity,” according to one unhappy cleric quoted in the press…A group called “Who Loves Egypt?” was unhappy enough…to take her court for “inciting debauchery.”  The charge carries a one-year prison term…

Against the Tide

It’s kind of sad to watch Kristoff pathetically flailing about against the inexorable departure of the sea that nourishes him:

…Plenty of well-meaning people back Amnesty International’s proposal for full decriminalization of the sex trade…Yet in practice, approaches similar to Amnesty’s have ended up simply empowering pimps.  And while under these proposals human trafficking would remain illegal, the police would no longer have a reason to raid brothels…

For comparison: “Plenty of well-meaning people back the 21st amendment, yet in practice similar approaches have ended up simply empowering bootleggers.  And while under these proposals poisoned liquor would remain illegal, the police would no longer have a reason to raid speakeasies…”

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Back Issue: October 2012

Death and I are old dance partners, and he knows I won’t play hard to get when he eventually comes to claim me.  – “Halloween

goth witchOctober is Halloween season for me, and that means I try to work in as many horror-themed columns as I can (I know this year I didn’t manage any, but I think I can be forgiven under the circumstances).  In 2012, I published “That Old Black Magic“, “Red in Tooth and Claw“, “My Favorite Halloween Stuff” and “Eros and Phobos“; the fictional interlude was the three-part special “Pandora“, and even “Dear Parasite” (the sequel to the previous day’s “Parasites“) had a Halloween component.  The month started with another observance, Banned Books Week; my column for it this time was “Thought Control“, and the harlotography was “Thaïs“.  The month also featured several sequel and series columns, namely “More Hooker Humor“,  “Book Reviews (October 2012)“, “The Price is Right” (a songs column), and “Q & A (October 2012)“.  And in a sense, “My First Million” was the start of a series,Cathedral by LilyRose (2012) though the others were simply news-column entries.  Rounding out the month was an essay about the “Pathologization” of normal behavior; my recipe for perfect “Popcorn“; a complaint that the writings of would-be allies are often “So Close and Yet So Far“; the revelation that government actors hiring whores is “Standard Operating Procedure“; an analysis of the “Smoke and Mirrors” that often surround “sex trafficking” stories; and an explanation of why sex for women can be like “Ice Cream in the Hand“.The Monolith Monsters

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I always believed you had to do something wrong to be arrested.
–  Joy McFarlin

I couldn’t let Halloween pass without at least one horror short; I hope you like this one.  The links above it are from Radley Balko (“traveling”, “pretext” and “never”),  Jillian Keenan  (“women”), Mistress Matisse (“capitalism”), Nun Ya  (“magnets”, “colors” and “yard”), Popehat (“fuck you”), Jesse Walker  (“homeopaths”), and  Tushy Galore (“cheese”).

From the Archives

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