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Archive for May, 2017

Most [sex workers] are very well-informed about the conditions of factory work, and they know they’re not interested.  –  Ding Yu

Bad Fantasy, Good Reality

Another hysteria-free look at sex work in East Asia:

In the 1990s, if you were a young woman in any Chinese city, everyone from waiters to taxi drivers would call you “xiaojie”.  Ten years later, the once-ubiquitous term had become a euphemism for female sex workers…Though prostitution was outlawed in China in 1949, it has proven to be an extensive and resilient industry.  Chinese economist Yang Fan has estimated that up to 20 million people are engaged in some form of sex work…Ding Yu is an associate professor of sociology…[who] has spent more than 10 years researching the lives of female sex workers in…Macau, Hong Kong, and the…province of Guangdong…while academics and advocates often insist that sex work should be considered a form of labor, many xiaojie understand their role differently — and in fact delight in the ways their lives diverge from women laborers….”Within the community, many don’t especially like or understand the term ‘sex worker’ and prefer the term xiaojie…because they feel the…term “sex worker” reduces all their work to sex, which doesn’t…accurately represent the diverse forms of emotional work and entertainment that they’re engaged in; rather, it highlights the one part that’s stigmatized…

See No Evil

What a belief in sympathetic magic looks like:

New York State Senator Chris Jacobs has proposed a law that would prohibit any person serving time for a sex offense against a minor from “possessing a depiction of any minor.”  Taken literally, the text of the bill makes it a crime for such a person to receive a wallet photo of his own kid…Will security guards be expected to confiscate every picture—and drawing—of a kid?  Is a holiday card with baby angels contraband?  Would prisoners have to snip Robin out of their Batman comic books?  And how would this make anyone even one bit safer?…

Broken Record 

This is kinda like the Super Bowl of basketball, right?

A new human trafficking task force…stressed the upcoming NBA Finals, attracting tens of thousands of visitors from out of town, creates heightened concerns.  “Anytime we have an abnormal gathering of a large number of people…human trafficking goes up”, [panted] Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine [while fingering himself].  “The predators come in”…

Cops and Robbers

This may not have been intended as a vigilante action, but I’m not sure what else it could have been:

A man wearing body armor and a mask backed a tractor-trailer through the gate of the Moonlite Bunny Ranch and crashed it into the front door…Brian Brandt…was arrested and faces charges of assault with a deadly weapon, property destruction and possession of stolen property…The crash happened just after 4 a.m….Brothel owner Dennis Hof said [nobody]…inside at the time [was] hurt…Hof said…he did not know Brandt and none of the people working at the brothel did…

To Molest and Rape 

Wanna molest teen girls without serious consequences?  Just become a cop:

A…Houston…[cop] was facing 20 years in prison after he was charged with two counts of indecency with a 14-year-old student…at a local middle school [where he worked].  But after pleading guilty to a lesser charge, his sentencing was surprising light — five years probation, which will be erased from his record if he fulfills the terms, and not having to register as a sex offender…Jacob Ryan Delgadillo…pleaded guilty to having an improper relationship…

Backwards into the Future (#639)

Virtually no government “commission” will ever suggest taking power away from government:

A report by the SA Law Reform Commission is expected to recommend continued criminalisation of sex workers when it is unveiled today.  Former deputy health minister Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, now director of [the prohibitionist] group Embrace Dignity, said…”We know the…report…recommends continued criminalisation of both the buying and selling of sex with diversions…”

Traffic Jam (#680)

Remember what happened the last time Minnesota-based “authorities” claimed they had busted a “sex trafficking gang”?

…authorities…announced federal sex-trafficking conspiracy charges against 21 people, part of what they described as one of the most elaborate and extensive sex-trafficking operations they had seen.  The operation had gone on for at least eight years, netted tens of millions of dollars, and involved hundreds of women…“The women did not have freedom of movement and, until they paid off their bondage debts, were modern-day sex slaves,” an indictment unsealed on Thursday in Federal District Court in Minnesota said…

The “authorities” admit the women were willing to do sex work; what they don’t admit is that any exploitation this “ring” engaged in was only made possible by the criminalization of sex work and the difficulty of legally migrating to the US.  In other words, this isn’t a lurid tale of “sex slaves”; it’s a warning against prohibition and other bad laws.

The Spiral of Absurdity (#715) 

“Sex trafficking” fetishists are still masturbating to the fantasy that emojis in low-rent escort ads are part of some mysterious pimp “code”:

Child sex traffickers are using emoji symbols such as smiley faces to lure young victims…the symbols are found all over websites such as Backpage.com, where pimps are reportedly known to sell girls and boys as young as 12 and 13 years old for sex.  Masters student Jessica Whitney…and her professor Murray Jenney figured out the emoji code.  They said the cherry symbol means virgin.  The number of roses implies the price and an airplane means new in town.  A crown symbol indicates a girl or boy is under house arrest and the growing heart emoji let’s [sic] the buyer know the girl or boy is childlike and still has some growing to do…

Their interpretations of these symbols say a lot more about their sexual fantasies than they do about the ads.  Why, for example, would a “pimp” want to tell a client (“buyer”) that an escort is “under house arrest” (whatever that means; are they imagining “pimps” as some kind of legal authority)?  Do they think that men would find that somehow appealing?  What that tells me is that Whitney & Jenney do, which is disturbing to say the least.  The whole thing reminds me of cop masturbatory fantasies that Pedobear or plush toys with heart symbols on them are “pedophile” symbols used to lure children.

The Widening Gyre (#738)

Are most people such hopeless bootlickers that they can’t grasp what “denounce & cooperate” means?

Ivanka Trump met…with a group of African women in Rome who were trafficked into prostitution rings…Trump asked the 10 African women for suggestions on what the U.S. government…can do to help others like them…The women…praised an Italian law that allows trafficked persons to receive residency permits if they denounce their traffickers and cooperate with investigative authorities…

Some human rights groups, even in the UN, are very concerned about laws that incentivize claiming to be a “victim” and ratting out others in exchange for favors like residency permits.  These laws allow prohibitionists to pad their statistics & prop up a narrative which would otherwise have little to support it.

Policing for Profit (#738) 

I can’t help but think this is vindictive prosecution.”  No!!!

The San Diego District Attorney’s Office filed criminal charges against marijuana business owner James Slatic…two weeks after a judge ordered it to return more than $100,000 it had seized from Slatic and his family…prosecutors accused Slatic and five other employees of his business, Med-West, of illegally manufacturing and distributing hash oil to Colorado.  Slatic and the others face 12 counts of manufacturing a controlled substance, exporting more than 4 grams of concentrated marijuana, conspiracy to obstruct justice, and money laundering…

Notice the bullshit charges “conspiracy” and “money laundering”, added to increase potential sentences so prosecutors can force a plea deal which will almost certainly involve all or most of the money they stole.

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At last I can unveil the super secret project I’ve been working on since Christmas!  Last week, I completed the sale of my ranch in Oklahoma, and today I’m closing on a much smaller (but with more & better structures) property just a little over two hours from Seattle.  In other words, as of today I’m officially a permanent resident of Washington state.  It’s a bittersweet time for me:  on the one hand, it will be really wonderful to have Grace nearby, to have a country place I can reach without taking at least a week off of work, and to have a fully-built house with excellent outbuildings and no mortgage; on the other hand, it means giving up on a literally lifelong dream and the place in which I lived with Matt for years.  We poured so much effort and so many tears into that place, building it up from an empty tract that was so overgrazed it looked almost lunar into a lush, thickly-wooded ranch with its own road, shop, barn, fenced pastures, well system and house.  And I was trying to build another, bigger and better house, but that was not to be; too late I discovered that banks won’t give construction loans on rural property, no matter how good the borrower’s credit.  When I came to Seattle I still planned to finish that house, and then life happened; about a year and a half ago I had a vision that I’d never live there again, and I knew in my heart it was a true one (yes, I have visions when high on edibles; deal with it).  Then last summer I began to realize that there was really no way to make the economics of the situation work, ever; by autumn I began to understand what had to be done.  And once I had a plan and asked Grace if she was willing to move, everything fell into place within weeks (as it always does when I’m going the way Aphrodite wishes me to go).  The place I’m buying was the first one I physically looked at; we had discarded dozens from their listings, and this one looked so good I made sure it was the first we visited (on January 3rd, while Grace was still here for the holidays).  Most of the time between then and now was taken up with getting my buyer’s financing straight and dealing with inspections, title work, etc, but finally all that’s done.  Grace and a friend of ours are already packing and soon they’ll load the new-to-us trailer and hitch it to the new-to-us one-ton truck I bought a few months ago, and set off on the first trip up here (Grace reckons it’ll take about four).  By the end of summer that should be all done, and…well, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.  Goodbye, Avalon; hello, Sunset.  And may the pain I suffered while resident at the former purchase me some peace at the latter.

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Back Issue: May 2014

Laws should be based on facts, not faith, even were that faith to be accepted by the entire human race save one.  –  “Rhyme and Reason

Though the only holiday this month was May Day, the addition of a new weekly feature,  the diary column, continued the ongoing pattern of fewer standalone essays which has made this feature shrink in length over the four years I’ve been writing it.  After the harlotograpy (“Lillie Langtry“), the guest columnist (Molli Desi), the fictional interlude (“Shamhat“), the Cliterati reprints (“Available Weapon“, “All About the Men“, “Property of the State“, “Rescued To Death” and “Blood on the Sand“), and the Q&A columns (“Rhyme and Reason“, “When She Was Bad“, “My Turn“, and “Book Questions“) are all accounted for, the only columns left to mention are “Mind-Witness Testimony” (announcing the publication of a research paper I wrote); “Choke Point” (explaining the extralegal means by which the US government attacks businesses it doesn’t like); “The Big Lie” (demonstrating how “sex trafficking” is an example of the titular propaganda technique); “We Won’t Go Away” (challenging prohibitionist attempts to erase sex workers); “A Sop To Cerberus” (examining my own skepticism about allies); and “Continuing To Crumble” (featuring the beginning of the fall of Somaly Mam). 

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This bill would effectively end all police liability.  –  Robert Phillips

I laughed out loud several times at this very funny Doctor Who parody that Franklin Harris called to my attention a few weeks ago; he also gave us “RIP”.  The other links above the video are from Radley Balko (“welcome” and “state”),  ManCrack (“Florida”), Furrygirl (“upset”), and Walter Olson (“visible”).

From the Archives

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Sex work is a highly complex experience and must not be reduced to sensationalised fictions that do nothing to capture the lives of the very people being depicted.  –  Kate Lister

Profit from Panic 

Nice lady goes to slums and is horrified by poor sex workers; guess why she stayed:

…I set out to write a sex worker diary…out of [lurid] curiosity.  I had heard stories that in Bwaise, a slum in northern Kampala, women were selling themselves for as little as 500 Uganda shillings (US$0.14).  I wanted to get a first-hand view of the situation…Some…questioned my motive…I almost gave up…It was the encouragement I received from [“rescue”] organisations that…propelled me to continue writing.  Not for Sale Uganda…[blathered about “providing] them with alternative dignified work”…Divine Hearts, a Christian organisation…pledged…[to] pay school fees for two of the sex workers’ children…

I would be interested in seeing a comparison of these NGO executives’ salaries with the cost of sending a child to school in Uganda.

The Widening Gyre 

It’s really hilarious that cops are now starting to believe their own wanking fantasies:

Seattle police are investigating a purported prostitution ring said by one escort to service “persons in positions of power” in the city.  Detectives have searched a Capitol Hill home belonging to the suspected pimp…one former escort told investigators the Capitol Hill man named notable Seattle community members as his clients.  Police now have custody of electronic devices and records that may prove that claim…

In other words, a chickenshit pimp brags to somebody to make himself look good, Seattle’s Keystone Kops think they’ve stumbled upon an escort service catering to big wheels, and reporters breathlessly repeat the cops’ fantasies.  If you made this a TV show plot, people would say it was unbelievable.

Fever Dream

Tennessee “authorities” say it isn’t important what sex workers think; we’re “victims” whether we say so or not:

Law enforcement in Tennessee has altered the way it describes prostitution.  Now the preferred language is “sex trafficking”…[even though] big [pogroms]…have yielded few trafficking charges…Josh DeVine, a spokesman for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, [denies sex workers’ agency & vomits out a lot of propaganda]…Vanderbilt University professor Jill Robinson sees both sides of the argument, recognizing that it can “be problematic to expand the term so much that it includes everything”…[but she hates whores so she’s happy with policies that infantilize us & deprive us of income]…

Moloch (#342)

Is this enough blood yet? Can we please stop now?

Corey [Walgren] was at lunch…in his high school this past January when he was called into the office.  Waiting for him was the campus dean and a [cop].  They questioned him about what was alleged to be an image on his phone of a consensual sexual encounter with a female classmate, also 16.  The accusation was possession of and possibly sharing “child pornography.”  Evidence strongly suggests that [they threatened him with] being registered as a sexual offender…Only at that point were attempts made to contact his parents.  Corey was told that his mother was on the way to the school, and he was left alone to wait for her.  At some point before she arrived, Corey left…walked a mile and threw himself off of a six-story parking garage.  His death was not instantaneous, but it came before his mother could get to him…the images on the phone were so black that nothing could be seen.  Even though audio of the encounter was discernible, police records indicate that they would not have pressed charges after all…

A pig and a prude though it was a good idea to threaten a boy with a lifetime of ostracism because he had sex with a girl.  I hope the image of his shattered body is indelibly impressed on their brains; I hope it tortures them both until they end it the same way he did.  And I hope this story comes up every time some self-important wanker of a judge declares that the “sex offender” registry isn’t a punishment.

Innocence Never Had

So much fantasy, so many contradictions:

A 17-year-old girl has allegedly been used as bait to ensnare younger girls in a human trafficking ring operating out of [Johannesburg, South Africa]…This is according to the mother of a 14-year-old…girl whom police took from a barber’s shop that allegedly doubled as a brothel…five girls were [supposedly] found drugged…The 17-year-old and the [shop owner] were both arrested and…charged with human trafficking, kidnapping, rape, sexual exploitation and possession of drugs and pornographic material…the 17-year-old…was a “problem child” who had repeatedly run away from home since the age of 15…Prostitutes working in the area are not convinced that…the girls the police have taken from the premises were forced into the trade…

The Monsters Are Due 

The ugliest part of a peak moral panic: lynch mobs:

In the last photographs taken of him, Mohammed Naeem is pleading to a group of villagers as blood trickles down from his head.  Half of his body is soaked in red.  His shirt presumably ripped away, and dirt marks on his pants suggest he was kicked repeatedly…Naeem was the last of four people to be beaten to death…by villagers in Sobhapur, [India]…Naeem’s last moments became the face of a string of attacks…triggered by rumours…that child abduction gangs are on the prowl.  Villagers…picked up weapons such as sticks and bats, and were attacking strangers…Two people were killed over similar suspicions earlier in the week.  None of the victims were involved in kidnapping…Naeem and his cattle trader companions were passing through Sobhapur early in the morning on [May 18th when]…Villagers…stopped their SUV, dragged the four people out and tortured them for four hours before killing them…

This is the price of inventing myths to justify controlling other people’s private sexual behavior.

Broken Record (#643) 

Canadian prohibitionists are still desperate to cash in before the panic implodes:

The recruitment of young women in the weeks surrounding Montreal’s Formula 1 weekend isn’t new, according to [prohibitionists]…“We plan to…gather the already-existing information from various organisms [sic] who fight the human trafficking of women and girls,” said [prohibitionist] Cathy Wong…demand is so high during the Grand Prix, that women and girls are brought in from Ontario, and even the U.S…“In the end, it’s prostitution,” said Martine B. Côté, [another prohibitionist]…“You can pay for sexual services just by clicking your fingers”…

I’d like to reassure Martine that A) touring escorts are able to make their own travel plans without having to be “brought in” like cargo; B) escorts already know that what we do is prostitution, but thanks for telling us; and C) I’m afraid it takes just a bit more to pay for sex than just “clicking your fingers”, even if the escort accepts online payments.  But please, let Cathy tell us more about these organisms who “fight sex trafficking”.

Too Close To Home (#664)

This is especially ignorant in Seattle, where nobody can claim they don’t know of any sex workers to consult on the subject:

…as human trafficking rates continue to soar and the demand for paid sex grows…Seattle…decided to adopt the “Nordic Model”…It seems to be working well for Sweden, which has seen a dramatic drop in sex work since the law was implemented in 1999…an overwhelming amount of [sex] workers are poor women with few alternatives…[who] are lured or forced into “the life” through a history of sexual abuse, substance addiction, and severe poverty…the alternative, making prostitution legal, has failed time and time again…

Nearly every single sentence in this pile of shit is wrong; it’s actually quite an achievement.

Send In the Clowns 

Now, this is an interesting twist:

A 29-year-old man was slashed to death in the parking lot of Torchy’s Tacos in downtown Denver…[very early] Tuesday morning.  Witnesses referred to the suspect as a man in “white, clown-type makeup with black streaks on his face…[wearing] a glove with blades on the end of each finger”…the clown-faced man was seen hopping aboard a scooter and riding away into the night.  Shortly thereafter…the attacker…was spotted on a [surveillance]…camera a few blocks away…throwing what looked to be a knife in the bushes…police discovered that knife covered in blood…[the suspect] was subsequently arrested…[and] identified…as…Christian Lee Gulzow, a local death metal vocalist…[who] frequently posts photos and videos of himself wearing makeup and sporting gloves with extended and pointed fingertips—both of which seem to match the descriptions made by the witnesses…

The Notorious Badge (#726)

Kate Lister of Whores of Yore on the background history of the Harlots TV show:

Harlots has gone beyond simply dusting off the tit crushing corsets and has deftly woven historical facts into the warp and weft of this bloomer dropping, gin swilling, cinematic trupenny upright, and I love it.  But, I’m not here to tell you how much fun the show is (and it really is!) I’m here for the history.  Harlots tells a hell of a story, but there is more to consider here than a corseted dose of how’s your father in a sepia filter.  That Harlots so clearly uses historical truth to embellish the show is what really piques my interest… 

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Most cops would never think of using [laws allowing them to molest sex workers] for nefarious purposes because sex workers are exploited “victims” that they’re trying to “rescue”.  –  Me

It’s been a while since I’ve had an article at Reason, but as y’all know I’ve been pulling out of my two-year slump and as a result, my productivity is increasing.  So when I got the opportunity to get more eyeballs than usual on a topic I consider extremely important, you can bet I took it.  The article appeared yesterday, and starts like this:

Once again, cops are arguing that they need to be allowed to have sex with suspects in order to investigate prostitution allegations.  And once again, lawmakers and journalists are acting like exploitation and assault of sex workers by law enforcement is a rare occurrence, rather than a national epidemic.  Most people would agree that the deception, the power differential, and the subsequent arrest of sex workers make such contact utterly unacceptable, even if they don’t think that it rises to the level of rape.  Yet the behavior is common enough to bring police unions to its defense on a regular basis…

See, I can restrain myself and use less-inflammatory language when the need arises!  For those who haven’t seen my work on Reason before, here are the previous ones:

How a Crusading Chicago Sheriff Convinced Visa and Mastercard to Screw Sex Workers (7/2/15)

No, Rhode Island Didn’t “Accidentally” Decriminalize Prostitution (8/24/14)

The Mythical Invasion of the Super Bowl Hookers (1/26/14)

Reason articles use headlines rather than essay-type titles, so these are longer than you’re used to seeing on my work (and they’re written by editors rather than by me).  While we’re at it, this is as good a place as any to remind you on some other articles I’ve done for high-traffic sites:

Lies, Damned Lies and Sex Work Statistics for the Washington Post (3/28/14)

and

Treating Sex Work as Work in Cato Unbound (12/2/13), the lead essay in an online debate (including several follow-ups).

Anyhow, there will certainly be more, and I’ll certainly call your attention to ’em as they appear.

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I’m a Christian who has only had sex with the woman I married, and we waited until our wedding night for that.  About 8 months ago my wife took the kids and moved out, then divorced me; her excuse was that she caught me looking at porn.  She bailed out of counseling, telling the counselor that it was all my fault.  At first I felt she was wrong, but then I found a couple of books on sex addiction and found myself on every page.  Now I’m attending a sex addiction program, but I’m not sure I’ll ever be clean.  Can you give me some advice?

My advice is simple, though I’m going to elaborate on it a bit:  You were correct when you thought your wife was being unreasonable, and you should work on accepting your sexuality rather than letting a bunch of profiteering prudes inflict a never-ending guilt trip on you.  As I and others have written many, many times, the entire concept of “sex addiction” is bullshit; it’s just Christian morality dressed up in psychobabble.  Sex is a natural function, not an outside chemical you’re introducing into your body; it’s no more possible to be “addicted” to sex than it is to be “addicted” to breathing, eating or pissing.  Try not taking a crap for a few days and watch how your thoughts slowly become dominated by thoughts of pooping; after a while your concentration will probably deteriorate and you won’t be able to think about much else.  Yet when your sex drives go similarly unrelieved, you actually believe people who tell you that means you’re an “addict”?  This is nonsense.  Studies show that so-called “sex addicts” don’t have sex (or think about it, or watch porn, or masturbate, or whatever) any more than other people do; they just feel more guilt and anxiety about their normal sexual impulses, and those bad feelings are directly correlated with the degree to which they carry guilt-inducing moral & religious attitudes about sex.  Those who write “sex addiction” books, teach “sex addiction” courses and give “sex addiction therapy” are charlatans, con artists who are profiting from “treating” a condition that can never be cured because it doesn’t exist in the first place.  The only way to “cure” sexual impulses is by castration (chemical or surgical), and even that’s not 100% because a lot of sex derives from regions of the brain which are going to do their thing even if your testosterone level drops to nearly zero.  And of course, all humans crave touch and intimacy no matter what their sex-hormone levels; the only way to “cure” that is to die.

In your very long letter you didn’t mention when you started looking at more porn and thinking about sex more often, but I’m willing to bet it correlates nicely with a decrease in physical intimacy with your wife.  I get letters with depressing regularity from Christian men whose Christian wives cut them off dry and then complain that said husbands pester them for sex or watch porn; this makes about as much sense as refusing to keep food in the house and then bitching because their husbands complain about being hungry or sneak out to McDonald’s.  For whatever reason, your wife wanted out of the marriage; porn provided her a convenient excuse that would satisfy her Christian family and allow her to push the blame off onto you.  The “sex addiction” industry is feeding on your guilt and will try to encourage your unhealthy sex-negativity so it can keep feeding; if you want to be cured, what you really need to do is stop believing the abusers who keep telling you that you’re sick.

(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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