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Archive for October, 2015

Why is it so hard for us to see how profoundly a $100 billion illegal market in anything, even in popcorn or “My Little Pony” toys, would distort a society?  –  Danielle Allen

Good Fantasy, Bad Reality Dr Blakemore

So how would Dr. Blakemore react to an amateur physician injuring someone through incompetence?

A female GP who left her businessman lover covered in bleeding welts following a caning session has been cleared of assault.  The sex life of Elvira Blakemore, 41 and James Austin, a 57-year-old businessman, culminated in a trial…the couple began to experiment sexually after Dr Blakemore was said to have been interested in the fantasies portrayed in the film, 50 Shades of Grey…At the heart of the case was whether the caning amounted to assault or was, as the GP insisted, purely consensual…On one occasion, Mr Austin told the court, she hit him with the cane after he had passed out on their bed.  “She was violently hitting me with the cane very many times on the back.  There was a cut on my cheek also, but she just kept going and by the end there was blood on the bed,” he said…

Forward and Backward

The fact that “prostitution-free zones” are unconstitutional never deters politicians:

Police in North Carolina could soon have the authority to designate “public safety zones” and ban citizens arrested for certain crimes within those areas from returning for up to a year.  Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department officials are flirting with the plan, which was tried with limited success in other cities and briefly used to target prostitution in Charlotte a decade ago…The plan…would allow police commanders to designate a section of the city as a “public safety zone” in response to specific crimes and aggressively police that area.  Anyone arrested for one of the targeted crimes inside the safety zone would face a one-year ban…

Change a Few Words

Need I point out that the War on Whores is the same?

…The drug war is a perfect example of the breakdown of the rule of law and the knock-on effects of such a breakdown.  Our drug laws are fundamentally unenforceable, and this distorts the judicial system, including by producing prosecutorial overload, which is a driver of low homicide clearance rates, which beget a culture of increasing violence, which puts more fathers of young children behind bars or under the ground, makes it harder for children in poor, urban areas to walk to school safely, and forces on those children a choice between the culture of the schools, inside the rule of law, and the culture of the streets, outside the rule of law…

The Sky is Falling!

Radhika’s clutching her pearls so hard she’s about to break them:

…Porn is no longer shocking.  It has become normalised to the point where young children are getting their first sex education lessons via RedTube.  Recent studies show that pupils as young as 11 watch pornography…The consequences have been severe.  These porn videos showed a one-sided, male perspective of sex – with overly-eager girls and absolutely no emphasis on female pleasure.  A number of my peers now have sexual issues they directly relate to porn, such as struggling to orgasm, hating pubic hair and needing “stimulants” such as rough sex in order to come.  As scientists have previously suggested, many can also struggle with intimacy…While girls of my generation would watch porn simply to learn what third base was, now a new generation of girls is watching it for career advice…

Buried Truth Donny Pauling

Vociferous opposition to anything sexual should be considered strong evidence of an attraction to it:

[Porn prohibitionist] Donny Pauling Jr. pleaded no contest…to four felony sex charges involving two minors, a plea deal that would send him to state prison for six years…Pauling, 41, acting as his own attorney, admitted to oral copulation and having sexual intercourse with a victim 14 years old in 2012, continuing into 2014…Pauling also must register as a sexual offender for life…A former Chico-based pornography producer, Pauling had said he found God and traveled to churches around the country as an anti-pornography activist…

Innocence Never Had

Prax(us)…will shutter its doors this December.  The nonprofit set itself apart from the army of Christian anti-sex-trafficking organizations that demand participants be abstinent and sober, by focusing specifically on homeless youth in exploitative situations and offering individuals support without judgement.  Prax(us) didn’t require youth be sober.  It didn’t require them to work with law enforcement.  It didn’t stigmatize youth for criminal activities or participating in sex-work…encouraged clients to reduce harm by learning about and practicing safer drug use and safer sex.  Staff handed out condoms, dental dams and lube, and referred clients to the local syringe exchange where they could trade dirty needles for clean ones…Refusing to turn away active sex workers limited the amount of money Prax(us) could get from government grants.  Foundations preferred money that went to clear-cut human trafficking cases — not services for sex workers who don’t feel exploited…

Femme Fatale (#409)

Since neither medical episodes nor deaths suffered at Nevada’s brothels are publicly available statistics, how often does it actually happen?  And what are the protocols for when they occur?…We interviewed employees at three of Nevada’s 20-plus legal brothels, all of whom denied that anyone has ever had a medical episode at their establishments…Bella Cummins, owner of Bella’s Hacienda Ranch…[claimed] the prostitutes are all so good at their jobs, no John so much as passes out…However, according to one Swiss report, seven customers died while visiting brothels between 2004 and 2014.  And that’s just in Switzerland.  An American Heart Association report found that 93 percent of married men who died of sudden death during sex did so due to extra-marital sex in unfamiliar settings—both of which increase stress levels…

Stupor Bowl (#424)

The Bay Area tries desperately to cash in on the “gypsy whore” myth before it collapses completely:

Preparation for Super Bowl 50 has been well underway for more than a year and includes a massive collaboration amongst local law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and the FBI as criminals engaged in human trafficking are anticipated to take advantage…officials are certain federal and local agencies must work together to crack down on pimps and Johns while assisting victims.  For the ninth year, the FBI is setting up a human trafficking operation center while bringing in additional agents and intelligence analysts specifically in response to the Super Bowl…In previous host cities, there’s been “an increase in activity with respect to…sex trafficking and the exploitation of juveniles and minors around the Super Bowl”…[FBI agent Bertram] Fairries [lied]…

Dysphemisms Galore (#565)

Amber Batts, convicted as a “sex trafficker” for running exactly the same kind of business I did, has sent a letter to supporters from prison:

I have lost much through this ordeal, but the one thing I cannot ever replace is time…I am…unable to call my family or friends unless there is an expensive phone account set up and prepaid…I ran an escort agency…but I was more than that person.  I was a mom and a friend.  I paid my bills, my taxes, I was a wife, I had hobbies…I will continue to have hope as I live what feels like a surreal nightmare at times…

New Excuse (#568)

I love Liz Brown, and I mean that in whatever way she finds most appealing:

…the tough-on-crime approach to sex-trafficking is about arresting as many people as possible and wresting as many assets as possible from them, not legitimately helping sex trafficking victims (legitimately helping people means paying attention to what they actually need, not threatening them with arrest if they don’t testify against others or sending them to church-run “prostitution diversion” camps or giving them bags filled with socks and toiletries and calling it a day.) Just look at the language used by Marinus Analytics, a company getting lots of attention for using big data analysis to aid in human trafficking investigations. In its intro, Marinus promises to help cops and prosecutors “focus your attention to high value criminal targets” and “track the highest value criminal targets in less time.”  The assets that can be seized are the prize, the teens selling sex are just convenient cover…

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Diary #277

0818152252-1Another thing I’ve learned about the medical bureaucracy:  discharges sometimes happen unexpectedly and with lightning speed.  One can go to bed after being told, “discharge will be in the next few days”, and wake up eight hours later to “it’s happening right now!  Why aren’t you here yet?”  It happened to a friend of mine when she had a baby; it happened to another friend after major surgery.  And yesterday, it happened to Jae.  After over two months of constant hospitalization in four different facilities altogether, the doctors suddenly decided that it was time for her to go home.  And then it was wham, bam, here are your discharge papers and sayonara.  Needless to say, we weren’t ready; we still thought we had several days in which to make preparations, but nope!  That all went out the window.  I started moving about 8:30 yesterday morning, and only stopped about 12 hours later; I didn’t even realize I hadn’t eaten dinner until sometime after 9 PM.  And now tomorrow is her first outpatient doctor appointment, and I still haven’t filled out the rehab application that I originally planned to do first thing yesterday morning.  But at least she’s home, and I reckon that by the end of the week we’ll be more or less where we should’ve been today.  Ah, well, what’s life without stress?

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“I hate computers!”

“If it weren’t for computers, you’d probably be working for a service taking half of your money.”

“Don’t be an asshole.  You know what I mean.”

“Actually, I don’t, Athena.  Honestly, it seems like kind of a stupid thing for you to say, considering how well you’ve marketed yourself using them.  You could never have gotten this kind of exposure without the internet, and that exposure is the main reason you’re so fucking successful.  If you don’t want all those clients, you can give some of ’em to me.”

“You’re not exactly hurting yourself, Heather.”

“I didn’t say I was, but I’m not the one about to buy a new Lexus without financing it.”

“I’m not going to be buying it either, unless these stupid computers stop fucking with me!”

“What computers?”

“The ones at the New York state vital records office.  They keep saying my birth certificate doesn’t exist.  See this? ‘Record not found.’  That’s what it says every time I try to get a copy.”record not found

“Why do you want one?”

“Because I need it to get a driver’s license so I can buy the goddamned Lexus!”

“OK, calm down.  Don’t you have an old copy somewhere?”

“Not that I know of.”

“Doesn’t your mom have a copy?”

“I’ve never met my mom.  CPS took me away from her when I was a baby and I was raised in foster homes until I finally ran away and started living on my own eight years ago, when I was 16.”

“Hey, you told me your mother was a teacher.”

“That’s part of the backstory I tell clients.  I also tell them I’m studying to be a psychologist, when in fact I don’t even have a GED.”

“So much for my suggestion you call your old high school.  Damn, honey, don’t you know any of your relatives?”

“Not a one.  And I’m beginning to think that what I thought was my real name isn’t my real name at all, but one somebody gave me somewhere along the way.  Which is why it isn’t showing up in the computer.”

“Well, that’s hardly the computer’s fault.”

“Are you fucking kidding me?  What fucking difference does that make?  Holy shit, Heather, I’m trying to vent here and you’re giving me this Pollyanna bullshit about assigning blame!”

“OK, I’m sorry, you’re right; my dad is a scientist and my mom says I sound just like him sometimes.  But there’s gotta be a way to crack this; I mean, you were in the foster system, so there must be a record of you there.  Have you tried them?”

“Of course; just because I’m a dropout doesn’t mean I’m stupid.  But they won’t give me any information without a social security number.”

“Wait, you don’t know your social?”

“Would we be having this fucking conversation if I did?”

“But Athena, how the hell have you even managed to survive until now without a social security number?”

“Cash.  Prepaid Visa.  Renting places from little old ladies who don’t do credit checks.  And I don’t know about you, but none of my clients have ever required it as a condition of seeing me”.

“Point taken.  So what made you decide to go on the grid?  You’ve been doing a great job living outside of it, and…shit, you’ve never paid taxes either, have you?”

“Nope.”

“Girl, are you crazy?  Why the hell do you want to ruin a sweet deal like this?  So you can’t get a car; who needs it?  Just call a freaking Uber when you need a ride, just like you always have.”

“Because now I’m scared!”

“Of the IRS?”

“No, not the fucking IRS!  I’m afraid because as far as I can determine, I don’t have any past at all prior to eight years ago!”

“Well, you have your memories…no, you don’t, do you?”

“Not before I started working.  My earliest memories are of living on the street, trading sex for food and a place to stay; I just started talking about foster care because the other street girls I knew talked about it.  And somewhere along the line I guess I started to believe it, but all this has forced me to confront the truth that I don’t actually know who I am or where I came from.  Everything I say about my life prior to moving out here and taking out my first Backpage ad five years ago is a lie, and even my memories of street work are pretty vague; the more I think about it, the more contradictions I find.  It’s as though I didn’t really exist before that.”

“But you sure do exist on the internet.  I mean, you are all over the place; I’ve never seen anybody use social media as well as you do.  You use it like…”

“Go on, like what?”

“Like your life depended on it.”

“As you said yourself, my income does.”

“Of course.  Hey, sweetie, this conversation has gotten way too heavy; what say we go get a drink?”

“Sure, sure, that’s a great idea.  I’m sorry I got so upset at you.”

“Don’t apologize; you’ve got a lot on your mind.”

“Thanks.  It’s just really hard not knowing who I am.”

“I know exactly who you are; you’re Athena Logan, the most popular escort in the whole freaking country.”

“You’re full of shit, and I love you for it.  I guess one advantage of not knowing my real name is that I don’t have to answer to some stupid, boring name I didn’t choose.”

“Do you remember why you chose Athena?”

“Nah, I’ve always used it since my very first ad; don’t you think it suits me?”

“Oh, definitely, babe; I can’t imagine your being called anything else.”Birth of Athena by Rene Antoine Houasse (before 1688)

 

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Als Gregor Samsa eines Morgens aus unruhigen Träumen erwachte, fand er sich in seinem Bett zu einem ungeheueren Ungeziefer verwandelt.  –  Franz Kafka

Even though it’s in German, I think you’ll appreciate this short animation of Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis” provided by Ed Krayewski (or else you won’t).  The links above it were contributed by Nun YaScott GreenfieldWWAVMike Siegel,  Brooke Magnanti, and Michael Whiteacre (in that order).

From the Archives

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What better way to stop people from trading sex for money than taking all their money away?  –  Jamie Peck

Celebrities

I’m nauseated every time the word “illegal” comes out of Dennis Hof’s mouth:

[Disgraced basketball star] Lamar Odom…was found…face down and alone…after spending four days at the Love Ranch…Odom started “throwing up all kinds of stuff” after a 911 operator told them to turn him on his side, Love Ranch owner Dennis Hof [said]…Odom had “spent time socializing with some of my girls,” but wasn’t seen taking any illegal drugs, Hof said…a brothel employee who called 911 reported Odom did cocaine Saturday and had taken up to 10 tabs of a sexual performance enhancer over the past three days…he was found unresponsive with blood coming from his nose and mouth…

Barbie Jane Goodall doll

More women badly in need of lives:

Wendy Tsao has created a collection of feminist dolls all women will want to play with.  Jane Goodall, J.K. Rowling and Malala Yousafzai stand among the ranks of Tsao’s “Mighty Dolls”, a collection of repurposed Bratz dolls meant to inspire young girls to greatness…Australian native Sonia Singh made waves earlier this year by repurposing used Bratz dolls to look like real girls.  She posted the transformations on her Tumblr page, Tree Change Dolls…[they] fetch anywhere from AU$300 (US $219) to AU$1,600 (US $1178) in auctions on eBay.  Tsao says she plans to list her “Mighty Dolls” on eBay in “a few weeks”…

Check Your Premises

Words can’t express how pleased I am to see so many reporters adopting this tone of late:

The police of Hoover, Alabama, provided a prime example of government hypocrisy recently when they claimed to be helping the “victims” of the sex trade…right after arresting seven women in a prostitution sting and releasing their names and photos to the public…Norman McDuffey conflated consensual sex work with sex trafficking and claimed the women he’d just arrested were victims…of the crime they’d just been arrested for…crimes [that cops pretend]…“go…along with prostitution”…have all been shown to decrease substantially when sex work is decriminalized…To use them as justification for further arrests is like pouring gasoline onto a fire and getting upset when it flares up…and then pouring on some more, because you still don’t get it…

Another Example of Swedish “Feminism”

Only the willfully ignorant imagine Sweden to be a “feminist” country:

…Undercover footage shot by reporters…showed doctors across the country agreeing to perform illegal tests for religious families to determine whether or not their daughters had had sex…Human rights groups have condemned the practice.  Liesl Gerntholtz, of the Human Rights Watch [said]…”In a country that internationally has played a leading role in protecting women’s human rights, it was almost unthinkable to me that this would be happening in a country like Sweden”…

Droit du Seigneur

Pimping underage girls is another of the crimes (like rape and domestic violence) that cops commit in far greater proportions than members of the general public:

…two [Chicago cops]…are accused of sex-trafficking a 14-year-old girl and there may have been other victims as well…[they] were first caught with child pornography, but as Internal Affairs investigators looked further into the case, they uncovered additional evidence the [pigs] had been using some online web pages to advertise the girl, or girls, for prostitution…

Dirty Amateurs

There should be a law forcing amateurs to get regularly tested for STIs:

…monogamy…isn’t necessarily any better for our health than being consensually nonmonogamous…consider the results of a study I recently published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine…people in consensually nonmonogamous relationships reported more lifetime sex partners than those who were monogamous (6.4 vs. 3.9, respectively)…about three-quarters of people in open relationships said they currently had multiple partners; however, it turned out that nearly one-quarter of monogamous participants did, too…compared to people in open relationships, monogamous people reported using condoms less often with all partners (primary and secondary) and were less likely to have ever been tested for STIs.  In other words, a large number of people in “monogamous” relationships were cheating, they weren’t telling their partners about it, they weren’t using protection reliably, and they weren’t getting tested to see whether they’d picked up any infections along the way…There was actually no difference between monogamous and consensually nonmonogamous participants in reported rates of sexually transmitted infections…

Saving Them From Themselves

A woman dares to challenge the nonsense that young women are asexual “children” without agency:

…I had [a webcam] arrangement with around five or six boys in my year at school when I was 13 years old…They would usually ask me to strip, sometimes half-naked, sometimes completely…After a blissful year of camming, my entire life as I knew it flipped on its head in the space of a day.  One of the boys told his mother, or maybe she found out some other way.  And despite my activities being more or less widely known throughout the male population of my year at school, the fact that it was now known outside of the sanctioned circle turned it unacceptable…Despite my peers and teachers unequivocally agreeing that what I had done was Wrong and Bad, I was never offered any form of comfort, guidance, or support at school.  At home, my diary was taken off me and analyzed for further evidence of sexual misconduct; a strict curfew and constant surveillance of my goings-on was put in place…in…my camming days, I remember being at peace with myself.  I wanted to be sexual.  I chose to engage in sexual activity…The camming never changed anything in me while it was happening; it was the reaction that destroyed my perception of myself and my sexuality…

The Pro-Rape Coalition (#331) Playboy brand

“…instead of calling the process by which we limit our expression of dissent and wonder ‘censorship’, we call it ‘concern for commercial viability’.”  –  David Mamet

Playboy’s recent decision to stop publishing nude photos marks a watershed moment in media, as the porn pioneer buttons up and turns its back on what made it famous.  But the company’s core has had little to do with pornography for a long time…Over the course of a decade, Playboy has steadily transformed itself from a publishing company to a company that sells bunny drawings to T-shirt manufacturers.  Revenues from licensing Playboy merchandise went from $37 million in 2009 to $65 million in 2013…about half the company’s revenues at the time.  Dumping the brand’s association with nudity, however mild compared to online porn standards, gives it a better image in countries where government policies towards pornographers can be highly critical—which just happen to be the two most populous countries in the world…Playboy earns 40% of its revenues from China…“In…Asian markets, Playboy has positioned itself as a lifestyle brand for sophisticated, suave, fashion-conscious consumers by working with strong licensees in premium mass-market apparel, sportswear, eyewear etc,” said Torsten Stocker…at AT Kearney…magazine sales, on the other hand, have been a lost cause for some time…

Broken Record (#419)

Poor North Carolina; the only big event it can pretend to be a magnet for gypsy harlots is ludicrously pathetic:

Beginning Saturday and running through Oct. 22, an estimated 75,000 people will flock to High Point from around the world to buy, sell and market furniture, accessories and design services.  The twice-annual market is the largest furnishings industry trade show in the world…there’s a dark side to any temporary population boom…“The statistics show that any time there is a large gathering of people…victims of sex trafficking are usually brought in,” Sandra Johnson…of Triad Ladder of Hope [said]…

Gift Horse

Pay attention, sex worker activists; this is NOT a pro-decriminalization article but rather a pro-Swedish model one.  Swedish model proponents fraudulently refer to their evil, misogynistic regime as “decriminalization” in order to fool people into thinking it is supported by groups like Amnesty International, when in actuality it still criminalizes sex workers’ clients, partners, families and associates, infantilizes sex workers themselves and pathologizes our profession.  If the tragedy porn that makes up the bulk of this article and the penultimate line (“We should be focusing on arresting those who sell or buy victims of trafficking“) weren’t already dead giveaways, the source of the propaganda – Washington, DC “rescue” profiteers  FAIR Girls – should certainly have been.

It Looks Good On Paper (#543)

Once again: “safe harbor” laws are nothing but evil bullshit designed to distract the naive from the evils of criminalization:

…On 29 May, President Obama signed the Stop Exploitation Through Trafficking Act, which gives preferential consideration for some federal grants to states that have enacted a “safe harbor” law.  [Such] laws…universally require some form of law enforcement arrest or protective custody…being prosecuted for prostitution as a minor in family court in most states may result in court supervision and institutionalization in a geographically isolated and restrictive “staff secure” facility until the age of majority…In the prosecution of adult offenses, indeterminate commitment is regarded as unconstitutional, and even in juvenile criminal courts, it is generally seen as a drastic and final step.  By contrast, family courts often use indeterminate adjudications, effectively keeping non-criminal youth tied to the judicial system, which is what this new law would now impose on minors who…engaged in survival sex work…

Between the Lines

Most of this story is just the usual cop-fellating coverage of an “Operation Cross Country” pogrom, but I would like to point out that “We have dope guys that have stopped selling drugs and have started selling human beings” is just Copese for “we’re going to keep targeting the same people, but we’re using this new excuse because you’ve stopped swallowing the old one”.

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Essentially, what we have here is a massive, coordinated, and federally funded vice sting.  –  Elizabeth N. Brown

Five years ago I published “Reading Between the Lines“, my dissection of the FBI press release of that year’s “Operation Cross Country”, the fifth in a series of coordinated pogroms against sex workers perpetrated under the umbrella of the lugubriously-entitled “Innocence Lost Initiative”, which has been going on since the dawn of the “sex trafficking” hysteria in 2003.  Since then there have been four more such operations, each growing larger and victimizing more sex workers.  Expressed in plain English, “Innocence Lost” is an immense boondoggle designed to funnel federal funds into local police departments for the harassment of adult sex workers on the basis of misdemeanor laws against wholly consensual activities the US government wishes to discourage in the name of “morality”.  Of course, that’s not how it’s sold to the American public; the typical “Operation Cross Country” story fawns on cops to a truly fellatory level and swallows every drop of “enslaved children” funk with the greatest enthusiasm.  Here’s an example from the Wisconsin Rapids Tribune:

…Nationally, 149 underage victims were rescued and 153 “pimps” arrested in 135 cities during an initiative dubbed “Operation Cross Country IX” the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced Tuesday…Because the women have few other options, police have realized that arrests will seldom convince them to leave prostitution…Officers in last week’s crackdown used a different approach:  Women who cooperated were given a canvas bag of supplies indicative of a fresh start.  Each bag…contained a blanket, socks and toiletries and was designed to convey a message that someone cares…Nationwide, the youngest victim was 12 years old…

Before we get to the meat of the matter, I need to ask:  Can you imagine any sane human, no matter how much she dislikes her job, being convinced to rat someone out to the pigs AND give up the income that pays for her rent, bills and food because someone gave her some socks, toothpaste and tampons?  It would be hilarious if it weren’t so mind-bogglingly insulting and infantilizing.  But that’s a small-town paper, right?  Surely a publication from an ultra-sophisticated place like Seattle will be different:

A weeklong FBI operation aimed at helping sexually exploited children recovered three juveniles in Washington state.  The FBI task force also made contact with 119 adults who were being victimized through prostitution.  FBI spokeswoman Ayn Dietrich says some of the adult victims had been forced into engaging in prostitution since they were juveniles.  The victims were offered services in the community, including job training, housing, counseling and medical help…

“Offered services in the community” means “here’s a pamphlet from the Department of Human Services”.  In other words, they didn’t even get the bag full of bog rolls.  But the important thing to notice here is the lie that the stings were “targeted” at “rescuing children”; if that were really true, they have some mighty poor aim.  In the very first “Operation Cross Country” story I covered, 69 “children” (in other words, 16- and 17-year-old young women) were “recovered” (in other words, arrested) along with 99 “pimps” (in other words, male sex workers, drivers, roommates, boyfriends, older work partners and maybe about 7 actual pimps) and – here’s the meat – 768 adult female sex workers.  After 2010, someone at the FBI must’ve realized that the arrest proportions, more than 10 adult sex workers arrested for every teen even in an operation specifically targeted at young-looking sex workers, demonstrated the egregiousness of the lie that most whores are underage; they therefore stopped reporting how many adult sex workers were arrested nationwide, leaving activists to make estimates based upon local news reports and the proportions of earlier pogroms.  And it looks like this:

# Date minors “pimps” adults
V November 2010 69 99 768
VI June 2012 79 104 ≈800
VII July 2013 105 150 ≈1200
VIII June 2014 168 281 ≈1800

adding machineThis year, the proportions are harder to calculate; in previous years, the number of adult sting victims was about 11x the number of underage ones, or 7-8x the number of “pimps”.  But this year, the number of claimed “pimps” is almost the same as the number of “rescued children”, probably because male & transgender underage sex workers who were previously charged as “pimps” were this time counted as “victims” (which might get the “pimp” conviction rate above the usual 4% this time).  That puts the number of adult sex workers arrested at somewhere between 1200 and 1800; it’s impossible to get a much closer estimate because the FBI doesn’t want us to have one, though the indispensable Elizabeth Nolan Brown gave it a try.  It’s heartening to note that the curve is flattening; taken together, the number of underage sex workers and people charged with “pimping” this year is only barely higher than the number charged with “pimping” alone last year, and that means it’s likely that the number of adult sex workers assaulted, robbed, caged and possibly raped by cops is also probably lower than last year.  Does this mean that sex workers are getting wise to cop’s tricks, or that the cops are getting sloppier, or both?  And will the numbers continue to drop next year, or will the federal government double down by vastly increasing the amount of money and manpower it dumps into persecuting adults for daring to have unlicensed consensual sex?  Only time will tell, because you can be sure the FBI won’t.

 

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Buying Time

With everything going on, why don’t you take a vacation from the website?  Even 1 week off might help refresh your “batteries”.  Maybe take it the week Jae comes home.

puzzle with missing pieceI’m sure the reader who sent me this question isn’t alone in thinking it, and in fact others have made similar suggestions in the past (though nobody else has proposed a whole week).  And while it’s very sweet and honestly quite touching, the fact is that I’m far too high-strung to even consider it.  It’s absolutely true that I have a lot more short commentary-type columns than I used to, and my holiday columns are now basically greeting cards, and the diaries are so easy to do I literally knocked one of them out on my smartphone while waiting for a ferry.  But the idea of actually skipping a column completely is so abhorrent to my well-ordered (by which I mean OCD) mind that on several occasions this year I actually battled exhaustion to finish by posting time, which is 3:01 AM here in Seattle.  Remember the story “Surprise“?  I wrote that after coming home from an orgy & hit “schedule” at exactly 3:00.  The only thing like a vacation I’ve had in many, many years was the day I spent with Jae in Idaho…and given that her motorcycle wreck was the very next day, that doesn’t exactly strike me as a very good omen (if I believed in omens, which I kind of do).  On top of all that, work is therapeutic for me; long-time readers know that I’ve battled depression for my entire adult life, and work I care about is one of the few things that lets me keep it under control.  Indeed, in the years while my marriage was collapsing, creating this blog was what kept me going.  Some of my friends have asked how I can manage to see clients right now, when I’m pouring so much of myself into caring for Jae; my answer is that the productive, closed-ended emotional labor of entertaining a gentleman is satisfying and restorative, because it lasts for a finite time and produces results I can clearly see, namely making someone happy.  And that helps me to balance the seemingly-unproductive, open-ended emotional labor of caring for a badly-injured partner and navigating a labyrinthine medical system.  I’ve always been a giver; it’s intrinsic to my sense of who I am and what my place is in the world.  I could no more stop giving than I could stop breathing the air, and even relaxing and letting go for short periods of time is so incredibly difficult for me that I literally can’t do it without the assistance of trusted friends.  So the idea of just skipping a day because I feel like it fills me with the sort of horror a struggling dieter might experience if locked inside the world’s best buffet.

But after I answered the reader who sent this question (a bit snarkily, I’m afraid), I started thinking.  I’ve begun to do more self-care lately not to please myself, but to placate the friends who are demanding it and to make sure I’m fit to do what I have to do for Jae.  So I could probably be induced to skip a column by a strong enough motivation, and when that thought crossed my mind I remembered this incident:

It was one of those really good calls in which one really feels a connection to the client and has a strong sense that she has made him very happy, the kind she feels he will remember for a very long time.  Somehow in the pillow talk it came up that my birthday was in a few days, and he asked how I planned to celebrate; I responded that I was still planning to work, but might go out to dinner with my business partner at the beginning of the evening.

He got that look of someone who has had a sudden thought, and asked “How much is your agency fee?”

“$100,” I replied.

“So of the $300 fee, you keep $200?”

“That’s correct.”

He then went to his wallet, pulled out $200 and gave it to me, saying, “This is so that you can turn off your phone at dinner and not have to worry about having missed a call, because I’m paying for the time.”

buying timeSo here’s what I’m thinking: if anyone out there really wants me to take a day off, he could simply purchase my time for that day.  Obviously it wouldn’t be right to charge my full rate, or even my social rate, because A) I’m not actually going to be spending the time with the donor, and B) I’m going to put up some column, even if it’s just a nice thank-you card type picture.  So let’s go with half my social rate for 24 hours:  for every $1500 donation I’ll take a day off.  Yes, I’m shameless, but y’all already knew that; I’m a whore, after all.  Now, I don’t actually expect anyone to take me up on this offer, but there it is.  And if nothing else, the question gave me something to write about.

(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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Any act that would not be illegal if no money changed hands is not a crime just because money changes hands.  –  Mistress Matisse

R.I.P. Grace Bellavue Grace Bellavue

The prominent Australian sex worker and activist, Grace Bellavue, died on Sunday.  I’m told she wrote her own obituary some time ago, and I’ll publish it in its entirety as soon as it can be located; in the meantime, this profile  and this account of how she came out to her family may give you some vague idea of what this extraordinary woman – one of the first in Australia to risk legal and social consequences by showing her face as an activist – was like, and why she will be sorely missed.

Rough Trade 

A King County Superior Court judge sentenced [Christopher Beck] to 33 1/3 years in prison…for raping three women — two of them sex workers — over 15 days in March 2014…should he be released, Beck will be required to register as a sex offender for life…defense attorney Walt Peale said…each victim “contributed significantly to the crime being committed” by engaging in illegal sex work…[in reality] Beck is a serial rapist who terrorized women he specifically targeted because he thought they wouldn’t report the rapes to police and if they did, that no one would believe them…Beck didn’t pay any of the women…

Profit from Panic 

Listed below are job openings in non-profit organizations and for-profit (FP) companies that are fighting human trafficking.”  I’m sure it won’t surprise you to see that most of them are in either PR or finance.

The Public Eye

Here’s a profile of Denver’s Domina Elle:

I like to call myself an adult play facilitator.  The type of work I do is much broader than just BDSM or fetishistic type stuff.  I specialize in helping people to open this part of their sexual selves, and be playful and creative.  That’s one reason I love balloons.  It’s a very friendly catalyst.  It’s erotic and playful, and yet it’s not as scary as some of the other stuff when you start looking at BDSM…

Cuckoo Advertising

Uber-sleaze Dennis Hof is another master of tricking gullible reporters into printing his ads for free as “news items”:

…the owner of Nevada’s Bunny Ranch…announced a new perk for his…employees:  He will match their student loan payments 100% for two months, up to the amount they make as prostitutes at the ranch.  Brothel owner Dennis Hof says he was inspired by the growing number of debt-laden college students he’s seen turning to sex work as a fast way to pay off their loans.  His offer covers payments for education at any two- or four-year university…

The Privilege Paradigm

I’m part of a nascent but growing movement within the left to question the efficacy of current left political and rhetorical tactics, particularly concerning the privilege frame…[it] is a deeply limited way to look at the world, and at times it leads to perverse consequences.  To see the way in which they can really screw up political analysis, check out this Daily Kos piece by Shaun King…The question for people like King…is whether or not they really want to oppose mass incarceration and our current police state.  Because that edifice is so powerful, and so deeply embedded into our system, that it will take a genuinely unified front to oppose it.  That means not siding with the police…What’s the priority?  Scoring the purely rhetorical point of identifying privilege?  Or actually transforming the system that hurts so many poor people and people of color?

Frequently Told Lies

Eithne Crow explains the problems with common responses to prohibitionist propaganda:

When someone is telling you that you don’t know your own life or your own experiences, that you don’t know what you do or don’t consent to, and they’re making no attempt to hide their revulsion – asking invasive questions and telling you that you’re damaged and a liar and a victim – it’s hard to keep it all together.  The implication that we’re dirty, disgusting and desperate draws on a narrative so firmly established, institutionalised and legitimised by nearly everything in our culture that sometimes it’s hard to keep swimming against the tide…I still see these narratives of empowerment versus exploitation being perpetuated all over the place. and I think we need to start saying to each other: “I see you, and I understand that your back’s against the wall and that’s really hard, but when we’re trying to demand rights and you say ‘I like my job’, what does that mean for people who don’t?”…

Another Fine Mess

No, Rhode Island didn’t “accidentally” decriminalize prostitution.  But maybe Georgia did:

In Georgia, it is an absolute defense to a charge of prostitution that the defendant was being sexually trafficked….but the law is so broad that virtually any…prostitute can make a credible claim to being trafficked.  Coercion can mean threats of “bodily harm,” but it can also mean “threatening to expose… information… that if revealed would tend to subject to…. ridicule,” “providing a controlled substance,” or “threatening financial harm.”  So a prostitute who accepts crack cocaine…meets all the elements of the statute…Or let’s say a prostitute…asks the john for $40, and the john declines, saying it will be either $30 or nothing.  Now there’s a threat of financial harm.  Deception is even broader.  It can include promising a benefit…then not delivering.  Or “[c]reating or confirming another’s impression of an existing fact or past event which is false and which the accused knows or believes to be false”…Arguably, [this] might even apply to police officers making undercover busts…

Little Boxes (#504)

It looks like the “cuddlers” are competing with masseuses to see who can come up with the most pompous rationalizations of why they aren’t sex workers:

…To help [pretend that it’s]…an…industry with no connection to prostitution, the therapeutic massage industry emphasizes training and certification.  Most states have massage therapy licensing boards that regulate practitioners. To obtain a license typically takes at least 500 hours of supervised, in-class training…Such requirements help reinforce the [notion] that massage therapy is a skilled discipline practiced by experienced professionals who possess genuine medical knowledge and hard-to-acquire skills…Along with the training costs, some states or municipalities impose additional fees [and legal restrictions] on therapeutic massage businesses…But if professional cuddling attempts to go this route, an obvious issue arises.  “There’s only so much information you can give on teaching cuddling versus massage,” says Evan Carp…

Guinea Pigs Female Head with biometric facial map

Note Facebook’s half-assed “correction” near the bottom of the original:

…New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced Facebook engineers will help his office use “innovative data and analytical methods” to combat online child sex operations…Facebook declined to further provide details, but a likely guess is the project will draw on Facebook’s massive database of “faceprints” to identify victims who appear in the sex ads…law enforcement agencies could cross-check images of their faces to discover their identities—and possibly pictures of the people who are controlling them…

What Were You All Waiting For?

Another pro-decrim article, this one quoting Mistress Matisse:

…In August, Amnesty International voted that the best policy to protect sex workers is the full decriminalization of consensual sex work…the recommendation…served as a mainstream wake-up call about the dangers of the current legislation in the U.S…Current laws regarding sex work can be seen as the criminalization of an exchange between consenting adults.  However, Nevada is currently the only state in the U.S. that allows for the legal exchange of sexual service, legalizing prostitution in regulated brothels (as opposed to decriminalization, as argued for by most sex work activists)…

The Face of Trafficking (#567)

This is what really happens when a wannabe “pimp” abducts a girl:

[On October 5th, Alabama] Police received a call from family members of a 14-year-old saying she wasn’t where she was supposed to be and was missing.  Moments later, an anonymous caller told police a girl about that same age was being used as a prostitute inside a residence…“After talking with the parties there, we located the juvenile,” explained Tuscumbia Police Chief Tony Logan…[he] said there were drugs and money exchanged to have sexual contact with the 14-year-old girl in a back bedroom…Rashard Ricks, has been charged with human trafficking…Jerrin Donley is charged with rape…

Broken Record (#575) 

The descent of “sex trafficking” hysteria into self-parody continues unabated:

…The New Colossus is a…group in Sioux Falls that raises awareness about…human trafficking…[they] say here in South Dakota there’s two times a year when there’s a spike in trafficking – during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, and the [pheasant] hunting season….[which] brings the problem into rural communities…[Polly] Dean says some of the girls being trafficked…are from reservations in the state, but also from places like Las Vegas, Minneapolis, and Milwaukee.  While people will be keeping an eye out for birds…The New Colossus want everyone to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity as well…Some of the things people should look for are women who appear in multiple locations…

That’s right, women moving around in public (instead of staying in the home, presumably) are inherently suspicious.

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Diary #276

1007151635This was not the best of weeks for us.  On Wednesday, a careless asshole decided to run a stop sign in the rain, and guess whose car he decided to do this directly in front of?  Luckily, the cop correctly placed the blame on him, so now I’m waiting for his insurance company to tell me where to go to get my car fixed; also luckily, it’s still driveable for the time being.  But that was just the warmup; apparently, the universe took exception to my stating that things were going to slow down for a while in Jae’s treatment, because on Saturday afternoon the hospital called to tell me that her low fever of the day before had turned into a high fever accompanied by an extensive rash.  I of course rushed over there and stayed with her for the next 11 hours, keeping her company, trying to calm her fears and answering many, many questions from doctors.  By about midnight the culprit had been identified:  a very rare but very serious allergic reaction to one of the drugs she’s been taking to stabilize her condition.  I left for home about 1:30 AM and got back to the hospital by 8 AM, to find her fever had soared dangerously high and she was about to be moved into the ICU.  Fortunately her fever was quickly brought under control, and by last night she was moved back into a regular room once the doctors deemed the danger was past; unfortunately the rash in question (and its related symptoms) are so severe the doctors estimate they’re going to take at least two weeks to clear up, perhaps longer.  And as if that weren’t bad enough, now a substitute will have to be found for the drug she had the reaction to.  Her poor body is just so worn out she slept through most of Sunday and yesterday, and she was not in a good mood last night.  But we are still working on the treatment plan to get her home, and as you read this I will probably be either at the hospital, getting ready to go there or coming from there; still, I have learned my lesson about overdoing it, and I do plan to take time for a little rest tonight now that we know she’s out of danger again.

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As regular readers know, I’ve had a really full plate lately between blogging, work, caring for Jae and acceding to the demands of dear friends that I take care of myself for a change.  So although I realized around the 1st of this month that I hadn’t secured a guest column, I got into a peculiar kind of lethargy about it; it was less my usual “Shit, I need to get on that!” and more a sort of exhausted, “Oh, look, that deadline’s approaching really fast and I don’t have anything lined up.  I wonder if someone will volunteer an essay before Sunday night?”  The same lack of energy caused me to sort of miss the fact that some important research was being conducted that I should say something about, but hadn’t.  Well, synchronicity filled in for initiative in this case, and a gentleman who had taken the survey wrote to ask me why I hadn’t said anything about it.  I asked if he’d write something about it, and here it is; it’s rather short, but what it talks about is very important, and if you have ever paid for sex please use the time you would’ve used to read a longer column in taking the survey so we can fight prohibitionist lies with real data.     

UNLV sealPlease spread the word:  A research study currently being conducted by the (sex worker-friendly) sociology department at the University of Nevada – Las Vegas (UNLV), seeks to collect data and broaden the scholarship and research on the attitudes of adult clients of prostitutes.  Customers of both brothel workers and/or independent providers, whether working legally or illegally anywhere in the United States, are invited to take the brief, 100% anonymous survey.  Currently, the research literature in this field is dominated by the junk science of rabid prohibitionists such as Melissa Farley.  This UNLV survey will take approximately 15 minutes to complete and will help researchers to gain a fuller understanding of the clients of sex workers.

Instead of a prohibitionist or “rescue” profiteer, this research project is headed by UNLV’s Dr. Barbara Brents, co-author of the book, The State of Sex (Routledge Press, 2010), as well as many pro-decriminalization articles and editorials such as “Why Decriminalizing Sex Work is Good for All Women” and “Nevada’s Legal Brothels Make Workers Feel Safer”.  Brents has spent more than a decade studying political sociology, gender and sexuality, urban sociology, and public sociology.  Her research focuses on the sex industry as a way to understand the intersections of culture and economics, political debates around sexuality, the relationship between tourism, consumption, and sexuality, and the emotional and bodily labor of selling sex.  You can see other research she has published on her website.

This survey is being conducted under strict Institutional Review Board (IRB) ethical guidelines; the purpose of IRB review is to assure, both in advance and by periodic review, that appropriate steps are taken to protect the rights and welfare of humans participating as subjects in the research.  For more on the university’s IRB protocols for its studies, please visit this link.

To take the survey, please click here.

By the by, those ethical guidelines aren’t a mere formality; researchers like Farley and Dominique Roe-Sepowitz of ASU routinely ignore them, as explained in “The Pigeons Come Home” and “The Phoenix Pharisees“, resulting not only in indirect harm (from the use of their answers to promote violence against them and others), but sometimes direct harm via sharing the data with the police.  IRB guidelines absolutely prohibit any such misuse of data, so readers who take this survey can be absolutely sure that their answers won’t be used wrongfully.

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