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Archive for February, 2016

Four Years Ago Today

The title is a phrase you won’t see around here too often; after all, even though I call attention to posts from past years every day on Twitter, that retrospective stops at three years.  But given that leap day only occurs every four years, I don’t have much choice if I want to refer back to my last column on the subject.  And when I was thinking earlier today about what I’d like to do with this essay, I realized an awful lot has changed since the previous one; frankly, I’m hoping that the next four years doesn’t see quite so much change, unless it’s because I marry a billionaire or something.

On Leap Day of 2012, this blog wasn’t even two years old yet; I was still doing a daily feature called “One Year Ago Today”, and I had just started reporting sex work news on a weekly basis rather than a monthly one (now, of course, it’s semi-weekly).  I was still months away from a regular links column, and though my traffic was increasing it wasn’t anywhere near what it is now; I was still half a year from my first million pageviews, and now I’m at four and a half million.  I hadn’t yet made any public appearances, and didn’t show my face on the internet at all; indeed, it would still be more than two years before I would do that clearly.  I had been on Twitter for only two months, so my follower count was in the low hundreds rather than approaching 8000 as it is today (and if you want a laugh, take a look at this column I wrote about it).  I was still quietly living on my ranch in Oklahoma, hoping against hope that my husband and I (who had already been estranged for almost two years) would be able to reconcile our differences; I had returned to work part-time soon after starting the blog, but I didn’t dream I’d ever be back doing it full time again (and under the name “Maggie McNeill”, no less).  I could never have guessed that in only two years I’d have published a book and be preparing for a national tour, that in three years I’d be divorcing my husband and moving to Seattle, that I’d soon have a whole new circle of wonderful friends, and that I’d become a minor celebrity.  And that’s only the stuff I care to mention publicly; there are a number of other things, equally major and at least as radically different from my life in February of 2012, that I think it’s better not to publicize too widely.

Where will I be on February 29th, 2020?  Will I still be posting every day, or will I have wound down somewhat?  How many new books will I have written?  Will I still be living in Seattle?  What will my income be like?  What new experiences will I have had?  How well-known will I be?  Will the “sex trafficking” hysteria be over, as I predicted just before that last Leap Day?  Will I even be alive?  There’s no way to know, or even to guess; the only way to find out is to wait.

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These structures can be hazardous to the individuals living in them and to the community at large. – Connie Llanos

If you aren’t familiar with the Lovecraft story “The Statement of Randolph Carter“, you may want to read it (at that link) before watching this funny video provided by the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society.  The links above the video were contributed by Mike SiegelMarc RandazzaEd KrayewskiNun YaEmma EvansLaura LeeTim Cushing, and Mistress Matisse, in that order.

From the Archives

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What emerges from [DoJ “sex trafficking” statistics] is an interesting portrait of a solution in search of a crisis.  –  Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Book Reviews

My friend Brooke Magnanti has written her first crime novel, and here’s a video promo for it:

Here are the other four videos in the series, and you can buy the book on Amazon.

Oops

Most incompetent pimp ever:

A Seattle-area sex offender accused of offering to pimp an undercover police detective has been charged with promoting prostitution.  Jerry G. Wood Jr. is alleged to have offered to protect the detective in exchange for 40 percent of her prostitution earnings.  What protection Wood might have provided is unclear – the 39-year-old was hospitalized rather than jailed after his arrest due to a claimed medical malady…Wood offered to provide her with “many Microsoft and Amazon clients who call him for ladies,” the detective told the court…

Above the Law 

No, NBC, this is not “bribery”; it’s rape.

…federal deportation officer…Arnaldo Echevarria…demanded and pocketed $78,000 in bribes from…immigrants in exchange for hiding the fact that they were in the country illegally…He also demanded sex from two of the immigrants, and one of them got pregnant…Echevarria encouraged her to have an abortion, but she had the child — and he continued to [rape] her afterward…

They Still Don’t Get It

These types of stories are often stunningly incoherent:

…Members of the Child Exploitation Task Force…[arrested] 15 [adults]…14 are facing prostitution charges and one was arrested on a warrant for probation violation…Julie Shrader [of] Rejuvenating Women…[imagines] prostitution is a real problem [in Omaha, Nebraska]…and with every bust comes hope that this will be their chance to leave the business…“They need intense trauma counseling.”  She [pretends that] according to research, only one to three percent of prostitutes voluntarily stay in the business…“these guys that are buying these girls are sex addicts and they need help, too…The girls have been so desensitized to sex that it doesn’t mean anything to them and to survive they sell themselves”…

So if a guy has sex prohibitionist dislikes he’s an “addict”, but a woman who does is “desensitized”.  And they all need “help” to be brainwashed into Shrader’s way of thinking.

King of the Hill

WE’RE NUMBER FOUR!  WE’RE NUMBER FOUR!

…Statistics from the National Human Trafficking Resource Center in Washington, DC show human trafficking cases in Ohio are some of the highest in the nation…Ohio reported 289 human trafficking cases in 2015…the fourth-highest tally in the nation, behind only California, Texas and Florida…

Monsters 

Unless prisons in Western Australia are guarded much more closely than those in the US, she’s facing a lot worse than mere “discrimination”:

…a trans woman living with HIV, who is a sex worker…has been moved to a men’s prison…“People For Sex Worker Rights in WA spokeswoman Rebecca Davies told reporters [the prisoner] was distressed…“Someone who identifies as a woman has been put in a male prison where they’re probably going to be subject to discrimination, possibly abuse from other prisoners”…the woman…was arrested over allegations of unprotected sex with a male client, resulting in charges of grievous bodily harm…

Seeking Sappho

I am a woman in her mid-40s, in a same-sex relationship, suffering the same problem as many couples out there: The sex part has died.  Absolutely everything else is wonderful…I decided last year to start looking into escort services, and I’ve grown to love my time as a female client.

The Eye of the Beholder (#340) corpse bride

Do Swedish politicians think about anything else other than who’s allowed to fuck whom?

The youth wing of the Swedish Liberal party has filed a motion to legalize necrophilia and incest.  Liberal Youth of Sweden said that just because it is “viewed as unusual and disgusting”, does not mean that the…acts should be illegal.  They want to legalize sex between two consenting siblings over the age of 15, and sex with a corpse if there is a written permission made before the person died…The controversial announcement was quickly criticised by…several senior figures within the mother party.  Former Liberal MP Carl B Hamilton lashed out at the youth wing, calling them “nitwits”, accusing them of craving publicity over politics…

But outlawing consensual sex between adults based on a motive is totally sensible, and not at all done for publicity.

Traffic Circle

In a series of three articles the Queen of Whore Allies, Elizabeth Nolan Brown, mines a Department of Justice report for government “sex trafficking” statistics.  The first part shows that highly-touted “tough on crime” laws don’t actually increase arrests or prosecutions; the second part demonstrates that most arrests are bogus and don’t even result in prosecutions; and the third part is a frightening look at government ideas about sexual thoughtcrime.

The Widening Gyre (#546)

These are getting funnier and funnier:

In a Facebook status shared by more than 139,000 people, Texas mom Amanda Cropsey Florczykowski tells of a harrowing run-in with child sex traffickers at an unnamed store in Longview.  Florczykowski is “convinced” that her two-year-old daughter was the target of a brazen ring of traffickers who literally pluck children out of their mothers’ arms in checkout lines.  Luckily, with her wits and the Lord at her side, Florcyzkowski was able to thwart the nefarious gang, retrieve her child, and use the experience as a warning to others…Longview, Texas…police…reviewed surveillance video and…the interaction in question lasted approximately “two seconds”…this isn’t the first time a “strange encounter” in a chain-store checkout line has spurred rumors of roving, calculating criminals intent on abducting women and children in public.  Last spring, for instance, an Oklahoma woman was convinced that she’d been the target of intended abduction at her local Hobby Lobby…

I think it’s safe to say we’ve reached the “possessed toaster” level of hysteria.

Bad Fantasy, Good Reality (#586)

Korean cops are learning US-style agency negation:

South Korean police have alerted Thai police to a crackdown on prostitution rings…that resulted in the arrest of 48 Thai women and five prostitution brokers…Some of the women entered South Korea as tourists after the brokers promised them jobs in massage parlours but were forced to work as prostitutes…Of the 48 Thais arrested on Thursday, 12 [have] already been deported…Thai police would determine if the women arrested in the raids were victims or chose to do sex work…

The Swedish Pimpocracy (#606)

It’s illegal to pay for sex in Sweden, unless you’re using it as a defense against rape charges:

A Swedish doctor who kept a woman locked up in a soundproofed bunker for almost a week has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.  Stockholm District Court…[found] Martin Trenneborg guilty of kidnapping the woman…[but] not guilty of aggravated rape.  He was also told to pay 180,000 kronor ($21,200) in damages to the victim…”They had sexual intercourse, but that was consensual.  She’s a sex worker and he paid for the sex he had,” his defence lawyer Mari Schaub [said]…

The Course of a Disease (#606) 

Governments now think they own their citizens:

British men who [hire] prostitutes while abroad…should be prosecuted in the UK under new laws that make paying for sex illegal, according to a report…commissioned for the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Prostitution by the [prohibitionist] group End Demand…

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Back Issue: February 2013

I’ve never been a big fan of either solitaire or masturbation; they both always seemed a bit pointless to me.  –  “My Favorite Games

Tom the Dancing Bug 1-31-13One of the things that’s made this blog easier to write over time is my increasing practice of doing certain kinds of columns on certain days, which decreased the time I had to spend figuring out what to write about.  You’ve probably noticed how much shorter these “back issues” have grown over the past three years; that’s because I don’t have to write about all the news and links columns, and that was eight or more columns per month at the time.  But even outside of that, there were a lot of columns whose formats or even topics were predetermined.  Take February 2013, for example; once we remove the harlotography and fictional interlude (“Cora Pearl” and “Point of View“, respectively); the holiday columns (“Oimelc“, “Mardi Gras” and “St. Valentine’s Day“); the weekly Q&A (“Off Track“, “AC/DC” and “There Ain’t No Bad Guys“); the Cliterati reprints (“Skin To Skin“, “Caring Professionals” and “Straining at Gnats“); Anthony Fremontthe monthly “favorites” column (“My Favorite Games“); a diary column (“Symposium“) and one of my periodic summaries (“Savage Breast“), I only had to come up with seven topics.  Those were: why some women are attracted to murderers (“Bad Boys“); how tyranny starts and grows (“Us and Them” and “The Devil’s Toys“); the Irish governments’s sick catering to abusive nuns (“Unclean Situation“); how prohibitionists lie with numbers (“Number Puzzle“); how “sex trafficking” is used to justify tyranny (“Blunt Instrument“), and how “authorities” have adjusted their “Super Bowl” rhetoric (“Learning Curve“).Alice in railway carriage

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Is P411 safe and reliable in your opinion? What other alternatives could you advise? Should anyone consider seeing an escort who does not employ verification practices? I am considering finding an escort but the laws are ridiculous in my state; theoretically sex on a first date is prostitution here if the man pays for the date. 

South Park stingI’ve published a column and several updates detailing why P411 isn’t safe for escorts, most recently this one.  However, I’ve never heard of a client being tricked that way, and if you think about it you’ll realize the platform works a lot better to scam escorts about client’s safety than vice versa.  As far as I know, Date-Check has never had a security breach, so they would be the best alternative.  I’m not sure what you mean by the next line; do you mean an escort who isn’t a member of either P411 or Date-Check?  Because as long as she has a website and an online presence and reputation on boards and such, I honestly can’t fathom what difference her screening methods could possibly make to you, nor how you could know what they were in any case.  I hate to break this to you, but the “sex trafficking” laws all over the country are basically similar now; the only thing that differs dramatically is the aggressiveness with which cops pursue whores and/or clients.  As long as you choose a lady who’s been around for a while and has a good reputation, you should be fine; the vast majority of men ensnared by cops are those seeking streetwalkers or reputationless, unverifiable Backpage girls.  Cops have neither the time, the money nor the patience to set up a fake escort site and purchase ads on Eros and the like, and how would their fake escort get reviews from anyone but fake, reputationless “hobbyist” profiles also set up by cops?  It’s much easier for them to put a pig in some Hollywood streetwalker getup or make up a fake Backpage “new in town” ad and then harvest the guys who are too cheap and/or too impatient to do their research.

(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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Can you tell me why I am imprisoned like this if I’m the one who was wronged?  –  Jasmin, Bangladeshi sex worker

Against Their Will

It’s for their own good!

…when I first arrived at one of the most well-known “rescue and rehabilitation” centres for women and girls in Dhaka, Bangladesh, I was immediately struck by the iron bars on all the doors and windows.  A number of female security guards paced up and down the dark hallways.  The atmosphere in the building was a far cry from what the NGO staff at the main office had described as an “oasis of freedom from violence and degradation”…this organisation [was reputed to be]…committed to women’s economic empowerment [and]…was widely acknowledged by national and international funding agencies…In the weeks and months that followed, my conversations with the young women whom the shelter labelled as “trafficking survivors” revealed that…their “rescue” had…led to another series of experiences of coercion and disempowerment, this time perpetrated…by their “rescuers”…

The Last Shall Be First

I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that politicians can’t get their minds out of the toilet, given the contents of their heads:

The South Dakota state legislature…passed a bill that would require public school students to use the bathroom, shower and locker room that correspond to their biological sex.  If Gov. Dennis Daugaard…signs the bill, as expected, South Dakota would become the first state to enact such a law.  The bill has provoked outrage from gay and transgender rights activists, who say it discriminates against transgender children.  They say that it could put schools at risk of lawsuits; in 2014, the Education Department issued guidance finding that Title IX…requires that students be permitted to use facilities that match their gender identity.  But the bill’s proponents [pretend]…that the legislation…respects privacy while also meeting the needs of transgender students by requiring [them to be singled out by using] private facilities, such as a teacher’s or nurse’s bathroom…

Pyrrhic Victory

All too often, evil arrives cloaked in the mantle of expediency:

School lunch lines in the UK can be fraught: students receiving free lunches may not want their peers to know, lost payment cards mean some go without, and code-based payments leave children at risk of “shoulder surfing”, where others spot their number and use it to buy their own meal.  Fingerprint scanners are being presented as one solution for doing away with this stress…biometrics company BioStore [says] “Biometrics can’t be lost or forgotten, stolen or used by someone else…this improves a school’s safety”…The Department for Education doesn’t track how many schools use biometric systems, but in 2014, campaigning group Big Brother Watch estimated that more than a million secondary schoolchildren had handed over their fingerprints…Add in other new technologies such as wearables, and civil rights campaigners fear the result is that surveillance is quietly being normalised in children from a young age…

King of the Hill

The only thing more ludicrous than big cities competing to be “sex trafficking hubs” in the US is small cities competing to be the top “hubs” in their states:

The Newport News Department of Human Services…held a community [panicmongering session]…about human sex trafficking…Lt. Michael Hudgins…said Hampton Roads ranks number three for hotspots for sex trafficking in Virginia…

Above the Law (#132)

Three years. That’s how long it took them to bring this to trial:

Two [LAPD pigs] have been charged with repeatedly raping and sexually assaulting several women…The men threatened their victims with arrest…and [raped] at least some of the women in the back seat of the unmarked police car they drove together…Luis Valenzuela…and James C. Nichols…face more than a dozen felony charges, each stemming from allegations they preyed together and alone on four women from late 2008 to 2011…They [vaginally raped some and orally raped others]…Valenzuela also is accused of assaulting one woman with a gun.  The charges carry a possible punishment of life in prison…

Under Every Bed

A “sex tourism destination” about an hour’s drive from Chicago.  And they’re serious.  “Prostitution has long been an issue in the City of Rockford.  Academic studies, news reports, and anecdotal evidence show Rockford is a popular sex tourism destination for men all over the stateline…”  The rest is just typical “end demand” filth and gloating about how much money they’re stealing from men.

Stupor Bowl

Even papers skeptical of the “gypsy whores” myth often accept the larger “sex trafficking” mythology:

…much like the myth of a Super Bowl sex trafficking boom, [the FBI’s] “success” isn’t so convincing once you peek behind the numbers.  The FBI arrested 12 pimps, “made contact” with 129 prostitutes, and busted 85 johns…during the two weeks preceding Super Bowl Sunday…Crime statistics can be malleable — and trafficking statistics especially so…not all the victims were trafficked.  [FBI mouthpiece Bertram] Fairries [said]…some of the 129 prostitutes the agency “contacted” were just independent sex workers conducting business as usual.  But much like the SFPD, which counts every sex worker it encounters as trafficked, the FBI considers all prostitutes “victims.”  According to FBI spokeswoman Michele Ernst, the only sex workers arrested were those who directly helped recruit or pimp other victims.  Strangely, the FBI claims it doesn’t know how many that was…

Bread and Circuses 

“Authorities” don’t care how many sex workers are hurt or killed in furtherance of their show:

Law enforcement in the Seattle area seized thereviewboard.net, a website where local sex workers posted advertisements and clients reviewed their services.  In related police raids, people who ran and moderated the site were among those arrested and charged with promoting prostitution, a felony.  That was just the most recent salvo in what human rights advocates call an “ongoing war against sex” under the guise of fighting sex trafficking.  Last August…officials in New York City shut down the gay escort site Rentboy.com and charged seven of its employees with promoting prostitution and laundering money.  Earlier in 2015, the sheriff of Cook County, Ill., pressured MasterCard and Visa to stop processing financial transactions for backpage.com…And in 2014, federal authorities shut down myRedbook.com…These closures represent a crusade to stamp out advertising outlets for sex workers.  But that’s not how law enforcement portrays it.  They [pretend] to be fighting sex trafficking…Shortly after the Seattle raids, for instance, Bellevue Police Chief Steve Mylett said that his men, working with the King County Sheriff’s office and the FBI, had broken up a “well-organized ring promoting sex slavery.”  Likewise, the Cook County sheriff called backpage.com a haven for pimps and traffickers.  There’s one big problem with that narrative: There’s little evidence that these web sites abet sex trafficking.  But we do know that shutting them down these makes life more dangerous for sex workers…

Challenge (#524)

Court delays favor the rich and powerful, so this is unsurprising:

A sex worker’s legal challenge to a new law criminalizing clients in Northern Ireland was put on hold after a last-minute intervention by Stormont’s First and deputy First Ministers.  Laura Lee issued unprecedented judicial review proceedings in a bid to quash [the] legislation…But the case was adjourned…after a judge was told Attorney General John Larkin QC has been instructed to oppose her challenge on behalf of Arlene Foster and Martin McGuinness…Justice Maguire requested full reasons for an intervention made on the eve of the hearing…[saying] “This application…has not been accompanied with any clear or cogent explanation as to the course of events”…

The Hooker Vote (#530) Hookers for Hillary

Actually, “Hookers for Hillary” doesn’t speak for any sex workers, much less “all”; it’s just a Dennis Hof PR scam:

The organization Hookers for Hillary…organized by Dennis Hof…is back in the news…with a major profile in The Guardian…other sex workers were skeptical of their motives…Anna Saini, an advisory board member of Best Practices Policy Project…said that Hookers for Hillary…“sounds like a mouthpiece for the Ranch owner, Dennis Hof…I’m certain Hillary Clinton has driven more people into the sex industry than any pimp or trafficker.  The policies that Clinton proactively supported—pushing people out of public housing, dismantling welfare, discriminating against formerly incarcerated people—have produced economic circumstances that force people into survival sex”…one of Hookers for Hillary’s key points on their website [is]…“Nevada’s mandatory testing of legal prostitutes for sexually transmitted diseases is a successful example of effective government regulation…responsible government oversight is a key to protecting the public’s health from widespread disease.”  Saini called this aspect of their campaign “particularly appalling,” since it’s “an oppressive policy that is universally opposed by sex worker activists”…

Tyranny By Consensus (#568)

Is Michael Weinstein’s bizarre one-man crusade against porn over at last?

Cal/OSHA did not pass proposed regulations for the adult industry…that [would have required] safety goggles, condoms and dental dams in pornographic movies produced in the state.  The decision…brings to an end a years-long debate over instituting stricter workplace regulations around the potential transmission of sexually transmitted infections in the adult industry…AIDS Healthcare, the primary supporter of the proposed rules…[pretended] the amendments [would not] require goggles…[even though] the text of the rules states that “the employer shall provide … appropriate personal protective equipment such as, but not limited to, condoms, gloves for cleaning, and, if contact of the eyes with [bodily fluids] is reasonably anticipated, eye protection”…

Challenge (#582)

This good article on the challenge to California’s prostitution laws also contains a short profile of escort and activist Kimberlee Cline:

…Mother.  Traveler.  Activist.  And, in the eyes of the law, a career criminal who’s one encounter away from arrest and exposure…she’s represented by interest, if not name, in a federal lawsuit that seeks to overturn California’s anti-prostitution law on constitutional grounds…The courtroom drama…pits sex workers and their advocates against more than a century of morality-minded prohibition laws.  An up-or-down ruling has the potential to reverberate throughout the country…

Bell, Hook and Kettle (#609)

There’s a word for collaboration between government and private corporations; it’s “fascism”:

…Budget cuts forced [the Tucson, Arizona Police Department] to disband the vice unit years ago, but more than $700,000 from a three-year federal grant will provide money and resources to once again [harass and persecute sex workers and clients…pigs] have already made more than 100 arrests since the program started seven weeks ago…Only three people have shown an interest in receiving any sort of support services.  [Only] one…actually accepted them, but…she left after a couple weeks…[mystifying people too stupid to understand the concept of “bills”]…That’s where agencies like Gospel Rescue Mission and the Salvation Army come in…Myrna Garcia…said…“This collaboration is awesome”…

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Diary #295

Alice growingOne year.  That’s all it’s been since I wrote this, and the amount my life has changed since then is almost unfathomable.  My nervous system has never been one that could handle sudden shifts very well; perhaps it’s related to my vertigo, but the more rapid and dramatic a change, the less likely I am to be able to handle it well.  Take modern television, for example; on the rare occasion I see it (such as at my nail parlor or friends’ houses) I have to close my eyes or look away when commercials come on, because all the flashing and shifting images make me nervous and give me a headache.  Even the pacing of the shows seems much too fast for me.  And though reality isn’t usually as choppy as the cutting of a TV show, I’ve been through so many relatively-abrupt changes and adjustments in almost every aspect of my life that it often seems unreal, dreamlike and disconnected from my previous existence.  For example, less than two years ago, my readers were surprised when I actually showed a full-face picture on the blog for the first time; now a Google image search on my name will turn up many such pictures, and even non-readers sometimes recognize me from television.  Given that I’m now working on a documentary about sex worker rights (of which I will be the hostess/narrator), and otherwise doing a lot of public events and the like, even more people will know my face soon.  That increasing “outness” is only one way in which things have changed for me; it might be easier to count the ways in which my life is the same as it was two years ago, instead of the ways it’s different.  And as it shows little sign of slowing down any time soon, I’m just trying to hold on and enjoy the ride.

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