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Archive for August, 2017

I notice that a lot of escorts whine about criminalization, yet don’t want to do anything about it.  How are we ever to evolve change if we attack each other, or if we won’t speak up, or at least get behind someone who is out on the front line fighting for our rights?

It has been said that trying to organize sex workers is like herding cats.  I’ve always found it darkly amusing that prohibitionists paint us as meek, passive, spineless creatures at the mercy of anything with a penis, when in actuality sex workers in general are the most stubborn, willful, independent and even defiant women I know.  In fact, if you look at anti-sex worker rhetoric from prior to about a century ago, you’ll notice that these exact characteristics were used to support the claim that we are “bad” women, because the Establishment likes women meek, passive and spineless and we’re the opposite.  We like to do things our own way, on our own schedule, by our own rules, and we’ve been well-known since Biblical times for rebelling against authority and refusing to jump when told to or speak only when spoken to.  I’m sure you see where this is going: the very characteristics that drive women toward sex work in the first place, the same characteristics which enable us to succeed in a profession without structure, bosses or trade unions, are the very traits that make us difficult to organize.

There is hope, of course.  The submissive or weak-minded are easily driven from the rear by “leaders” who don’t actually lead, but rather stay in safety and shout orders while others take the risks.  But the ornery and self-motivated can only be led from the front, by those willing to take the risks and model the behavior they’d like others to adopt.  Nor can these leaders be motivated by the desire for power, glory or adulation; most sex workers are keen judges of human behavior and can smell hypocrisy and manipulation a mile off.  The only way we’re ever going to win our rights is by ceaselessly fighting the lies prohibitionists tell about us, and relentlessly opposing the police state’s desire to control us.  The best way to do that is by speaking up and being out, by refusing to hide our light under a bushel, by fearlessly living our lives no matter who tries to threaten and terrorize us into submission.  If we do a good job of that, others will follow our examples, and those gifted with the ability to organize will take on those roles.  It won’t be a fast process, but it’s already well underway; there are strong sex worker organizations in many countries, and though criminalization makes that harder in the US it’s gradually happening here as well (albeit at a maddeningly-slow pace).  In her book The Love Project, Arleen Lorrance wrote, “Be the change you want to see happen instead of trying to change anyone else.”  This quote is usually shortened to “Be the change you want to see in the world” and misattributed to Gandhi, but I prefer the original phrasing and try my best to live by it.  I don’t have the power to change anyone else, and I wouldn’t want it; however, I do have the power to behave in the way – independently, fearlessly, honestly and ethically – that I’d like others to behave.  And I can only hope that by so doing, others will like what they see and want to do it as well…not because anyone forced them to, but because they want to in order to win rights for themselves, their friends and all their sisters.

(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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The satanic panic…reached a fever pitch…and like most hysterias, it thereafter died away.  –  Keith Hampton

Rough Trade

In the US, the victims would’ve been arrested when they reported the attacks:

Two brothers who threatened and raped sex workers in violent attacks in Canberra…will each spend at least five years behind bars…Ahmed Al Abbasi…and his younger brother Mohammad Alabbasi…pleaded guilty to offences arising from two terrifying ordeals against three sex workers…in early 2016.  One…was dragged into a bedroom, stripped of her clothes, threatened with a knife and raped [by] Ahmed…his brother also showed up [and orally raped her incall mate]…The men fled when two people arrived at the door to help.  In the second attack…Ahmed raped the woman…[after] his brother had driven him [there]…

Harm Reduction

Dan Savage answers a letter from a young woman who regrets cutting off contact with her father for getting caught in a prostitution sting:

…It is possible for someone to be a good dad and a shitty husband.  The good dad you knew your dad to be?  That wasn’t a lie.  It was one of your father’s truths.  That he failed as a husband and hurt your mom—with an assist from laws criminalizing sex work—is another of your father’s truths.  You don’t say why your dad was seeking sex outside the marriage, PH, and I can’t imagine that was a conversation you wanted to have with your dad in your mid-teens—and it may not be one you ever want to have.  But it’s possible your parents’ marriage was more complicated than you know.  (“The victim of an affair is not always the victim of the marriage,” as Esther Perel says)…

To Protect and Serve

The cops took two months to “investigate” a massage parlor. I wonder how many hand jobs that was?

A two-month investigation by Reedley [California] police resulted in a prostitution arrest at a massage parlor…assisted by the Fresno Police Department’s vice unit…Jiang Bing…was cited and released from police custody following her arrest…

Dirty Amateurs

Even though the facts here clearly specify that the disease is spreading among drug users and gang members, the reporter feels compelled to blame sex workers anyhow (without any cited evidence for that):

Syphilis…is returning [in Oklahoma City] and around the country…Syphilis has led [health officials] to members of 17 gangs; to drug dealers; to prostitutes, pimps and johns; and to their spouses and lovers, all caught in the disease’s undertow…in February, a prison inmate tested positive.  In interviews, he listed 24 sex partners — some his own, others the so-called pass-around girls for gangs, usually in exchange for heroin or methamphetamine.  Contact information from the Entertainment Manager, as he called himself, pointed the way to a syphilis spread that, by March, led health officials to declare an outbreak, one of the largest in the country…

Follow Your Bliss 

Yet another example of the McNeill Rule:

A…[cop] and karate instructor pled guilty…to multiple charges of sex crimes…Bruce Arlie Harvey of Reva, Virginia was assigned to the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force prior to his arrest.  “Harvey abused his positions of trust…to sexually exploit two of his female karate students beginning when each was approximately 13 years old,” said acting United States Attorney Rick A. Mountcastle.  “This case shows that child predators”…flock to jobs that put them in close contact with kids [or give them power over people, such as police work]…

Dysphemisms Galore 

Funny how even when the real reason is clear, “authorities” and reporters prefer to blame sex workers instead:

…The Französisches Gymnasium highschool lies on a sidestreet of the German capital’s notorious Kurfürstenstraße.  The street is…also the center of the city’s street prostitution scene.  Prostitutes can be seen soliciting clients at all hours of the day there.  A build-up of discarded condoms and syringes, as well as excrement, were evidence that the school grounds were being used in unsavory ways.  “There were always complaints about unscrupulous characters including prostitutes walking shamelessly and illegally into school grounds even during the day,” the district school inspector Carsten Spallek [said]…City officials spent 57,000 euros ($67,000) to build a fence to keep such characters off school grounds…Residential developments are increasingly pushing sex workers out of the areas they used to ply their trade, forcing the business into the sidestreets…district coordinator Michael Klinnert [said] “The women have no stations to wash themselves…And they relieve themselves wherever they please”…In 2016 the German parliament, the Bundestag, passed legislation that further [imposed bottlenecks on] sex work in a bid to [force more sex workers onto the street]…

The Immunity Syndrome (#666)

There’s a long US tradition of harmful policies that fly in the face of evidence:

…a few years ago, Congress began to shift funding for sex education to focus on evidence-based outcomes, letting effectiveness determine which programs would get money.  But…the Trump administration recently canceled funding for 81 projects that are part of the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, saying grants would end in June 2018, two years early — a decision made without consulting Congress…

Challenge (#679)

ESPLERP vs. Gascon reaches a court which could potentially do something:

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has slated oral arguments for mid-October in ESPLER Project’s challenge to California’s prostitution law…Earlier this year, industry attorneys D. Gill Sperlein and H. Louis Sirkin asked the appeals panel to toss a lower court’s judgment, remand the case to the lower court and declare the anti-prostitution law unconstitutionality.  In the appeal, ESPLER Project also is seeking a permanent injunction…

That Old Black Magic (#714)

Europeans just adore the masturbatory fantasy of helpless Nigerian women enslaved by black magic:

Policia Nacional have busted an international sex trafficking ring operating out of Malaga and Benidorm.  Some 25 people were arrested…Some 16 [sex workers] were [also arrested]…The ring…was present at every stage of the journey of the trafficked sex slaves…The investigation began when agents of the Madrid Asylum and Refuge Office detected [with their magic powers] two young Nigerian women suspected of being victims of trafficking…The victims were forced to submit to various voodoo rituals to “ensure their absolute fidelity”…

Stupor Bowl (#749) 

A lot of reporters are still masturbating to this thoroughly-debunked fantasy:

Minnesota authorities and…profit[eer] organizations are [spreading propaganda about an imaginary] criminal sexual enterprise that has taken hold of the state.  These new efforts are intended to increase programs focused on “keeping teens out of the sex trade” and stopping…prostitution customers…Minneapolis…[is] the host of Super Bowl 2018.  The annual U.S. event attracts…“a small surge in sex trafficking”…The Super Bowl plan led by the anti-sex-trafficking committee is set to work together with…“Minnesota Girls Are Not For Sale,” a campaign aimed at [profiting from]…sex-traffic [hysteria]…by [spreading anti-sex propaganda]…

Absolute Corruption (#751) 

At last, a very small measure of justice for Fran & Dan Keller:

Texas will pay $3.4 million to a couple who were wrongfully imprisoned for more than two decades on prosecutors’ [fantasies] that they sexually abused children as part of satanic rituals at a day care they operated…The Kellers were freed in 2013 after the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals found a doctor was mistaken in determining there was physical evidence of assault…the doctor himself also recanted it…[and] the alleged victim…acknowledged having no memory of being abused…The determination of outright innocence made Dan Keller, 75, and Fran Keller, 67, each eligible for $80,000 in compensation for every year they were wrongfully imprisoned.  They’ll also receive a matching annuity that provides annual payments of 5 percent interest for as long as they’re alive…

Checklist (#755)

The scheme to cut sex workers off from the healthcare system spreads to the UK:

Nurses, social workers and [cops] are being [indoctrinated in ways to brand sex workers as]…victims of human trafficking…Some 180 frontline public sector staff in London have attended [indoctrination] sessions over the past two months designed to [fill their heads with ridiculous & meaningless] clues.  They will be expected to return to their organisations and [indoctrinate] colleagues…people [will now be harangued rather than helped by staff]…in particular in maternity units…

Comfort Zone (#765)

Sometimes the attempt to hide migration control behind the “sex trafficking” narrative is especially apparent:

A…Border Force team at Glasgow Airport has returned almost 100 [migrants]…to their home countries since last November [using the excuse that they were supposedly “potential victims”]…of modern-day slavery or sexual exploitation…Some…were [not even] going into the sex industry…some [were sex workers]…in the country to make better money…more than 250 were Romanians and less than 50 were male…

The rest is a nauseating exercise in cop masturbatory fantasy and pretending that women are mindless, helpless vegetables.

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Diary #374

While I was enjoying the eclipse with Lorelei last Monday, Grace was encountering problems in Oklahoma.  I’d rather not go into the nature of those problems, except to say that they were human-caused, completely unnecessary and painfully expensive.  I don’t mean car-repair expensive, either; I mean cost-of-a-moderate-new-car expensive, and bad enough that poor Grace (who had to deal with it firsthand) was quite depressed all week.  On top of everything else, her departure was delayed from Monday until Friday, and the rest of the moving schedule is now kind of uncertain.  But the return trip was relatively uneventful except for having to replace two trailer tires, so they arrived back at Sunset last night with the second load and the dogs, and we’ll figure out how quickly I can get them back on the road again.  It’s a damned good thing I have no more debt, because this move was expensive even before an asshole I won’t name elected to at least triple the cost of it by being entitled, evil scum.  Meanwhile, I flew into San Francisco this morning and will be here until Thursday morning; there’s a possibility I might still have room for another appointment into my schedule tomorrow, but that’s a bit iffy, so only contact me if you’re flexible.  Otherwise, we’ll have to try on my next trip.  And if you’ve been thinking about booking me, now would be a really good time; I might even be flexible about the length of appointment I’m willing to fly out for.

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Back Issue: August 2014

To hear the cops tell it, they’re the “thin blue line” that stands between civilization and a species of chaos resembling Mad Max meets Lord of the Flies in the midst of an immense drunken free-for-all in Somalia.
–  “Bait and Switch

Even with only one holiday,  Lammas, August had plenty of regular features:  the guest columnist was Marijke Vonk; the fictional interlude was “Coming Up Short“; the harlotography was “Liu Rushi“; the Q&A columns were “Bad Idea“, “The Wrong Track“, “Screen, Screen, Screen“, and “Getting Caught“; and the Cliterati reprints were “Prudesville“, “Business As Usual“, and “Another Fine Mess“.  That leaves only “844,739“, a paean to Waffle House; “The Monsters Are Due“, an old Twilight Zone episode about moral panic; “New Excuse“, my first full-length statement that the War on Whores is the new War on Drugs; “Making It Up As They Go“, a look at how “sex trafficking” hysterics literally just make things up; and “Bait and Switch“, an explanation of how police departments create “child sex predators” out of ordinary young men. 

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It’s so nice to be insane; no one asks you to explain.  –  Alan O’Day

Here’s another of those early cartoon videos which, as I mentioned last week, used to be featured in The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour; this one is for Helen Reddy’s “Angie Baby”, an extremely weird song that was one of my favorites as an extremely weird kid.  The links above it were provided by Kevin Wilson  (“does”), Scott Greenfield (“stupid”),  Furrygirl (“Florida”), Boatfloating (“kids”),  Amy Alkon  (“know”), and Dave Krueger (“together”).

From the Archives

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[Cops are] notorious for using data out of context or drawing grand conclusions that data ultimately do not support.  –  John Hudak

The Enlightenment Police 

Australia appears much more committed to human rights than Europe:

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson has triggered a firestorm around religious freedoms, after wearing a burqa into [the Australian] Parliament, a stunt that has united all sides of politics in condemnation…As senators could be heard groaning and gasping at her entrance, Senate President Stephen Parry confirmed it was Senator Hanson beneath the face covering, while seeming unsure of how to officially respond to the performance…Attorney-General George Brandis showed no hesitation.  When Senator Hanson whipped off the garment with a dramatic flourish…and asked Senator Brandis if the government would join her in banning the burqa, he did not hold back.  “Senator Hanson, no, we will not be banning the burqa,” he said, visibly angry, and looking at one point like he was close to tears… “we all know that you are not an adherent of the Islamic faith…be very, very careful of the offence you may do to the religious sensibilities of other Australians.  We have about 500,000 Australians in this country of the Islamic faith and the vast majority of them are law-abiding good Australians…to ridicule that community, to drive it into a corner, to mock its religious garments is an appalling thing to do”…

Change a Few Words

All prohibitionism is the same:

Government-rooted misinformation has long been central to the very existence of War on Drugs…the Drug War has always been fueled by alleged facts that have no basis in reality…As most state and federal research documenting the impact of legalized marijuana show encouraging results reflecting responsible regulation, one federally funded agency is still producing reports that paint a very different reality.  Reports from High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas [figure heavily in]…anti-legalization campaign[s]…[but] the reports are “garbage”, according to John Hudak, a senior fellow at the nonpartisan Brookings Institute who studies (maintaining a neutral position) marijuana legalization…

The Last Shall Be First (#38)

Pakistan surpasses the US in at least one area of civil rights:

Pakistan’s Parliament is poised to pass the nation’s first law recognizing transgender people as equal citizens and laying out penalties for discrimination and violence against them…The  Transgender Persons Protection of Rights bill…has the support of all the major political parties [and] is expected to pass easily in Parliament in the coming weeks…The draft law gives…anyone whose gender identity or expression “differs from the social norms and cultural expectations based on the sex they were assigned at the time of their birth” the right to identify as a transgender person and enjoy the same rights as other men and women in Pakistan…

Skin To Skin (#313)

This seems to be the same case as in the earlier news item, but it’s worth revisiting:

At 93, Roger’s libido is far from fading.  He might have dementia and live in a nursing home but he has an active sex life, thanks to the care and support of his children, his nursing home professionals and a woman called Emma…who…visits Roger monthly…They laugh together, talk about things that were once important in Roger’s life, they touch each other and they have sex…Emma said the nursing home staff understood the important role sex workers played in the lives of people with dementia.  “They roll out the red carpet for me, because they know the profound nature of this service and what it really means for this client,” she said…

Monsters 

When “diversion” programs are subject to prosecutorial discretion:

In December 2015…a video was posted online featuring a Black woman on the New York City subway arguing with a man and a woman…then lunging at them with an object in her hand.  Days later, Merci Chrisette turned herself in.  There was no record of what sparked the apparent outburst…For the tabloids, it was all a juicy story—and one they were quick to frame about Chrisette’s transgender identity…Nobody…even required medical care as a result of the incident…[but] Chrisette is set to go to trial later this fall for a host of charges related to the incident…Because she has a conviction for a previous felony assault…Chrisette…could face as many as seven years behind bars…Since 2002, people with serious mental illnesses…have been potential candidates for Brooklyn’s Mental Health Court…Chrisette, who has previously been diagnosed with chronic post-traumatic stress disorder and agoraphobia with panic disorder…has not yet been allowed to plead into the court—a reality she and her supporters worry may be influenced by how she’s perceived as a trans woman of color…

Traffic Circle

Criticism of “anti-trafficking” propaganda from inside the “anti-trafficking” ranks:

…progress against human exploitation has been painfully slow, despite the vast investment of political capital, resources and expertise…Few public figures speaking on this issue have resisted the temptation to cite trafficking statistics that are at best unverifiable and at worst demonstrably false.  The anti-trafficking community as a whole has been unconscionably silent about the shoddy research methodologies that regularly produce the wildly varying numbers on which it so heavily relies…Presenting our data as better than it really is smacks of hubris and overreach.  It also risks validating interventions that can only pretend to be evidence-based…

Property of the State (#436)

Texas comes up with some of the sleaziest, most underhanded anti-abortion tricks of any state:

On Tuesday, August 15, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed House Bill 214…[which] mandates abortion coverage be removed from all private, state-offered, and Affordable Care Act insurance plans and sold as a separate — and unprecedentedly specific — policy.  What this means in theory is that people who want to be covered in the event that they need an abortion will have to purchase extra insurance for it.  In practice, it means insurance companies may simply stop covering the procedure altogether, the profitability of an “abortion-only” add-on being questionable at best.  As with many such laws, the…stated purpose is to “prevent those with moral, religious and philosophical objections from having to pay for the procedure”…Governor Abbott…did not say what Texans who want to subsidize abortions via group health plans are supposed to do, or what religious groups with objections to other legal medical procedures should do to avoid funding them…

Broken Record (#534) 

They’re literally recycling “gypsy whore” tall tales now:

…hoards [sic] of people will be in [Las Vegas] for the much anticipated Mayweather- McGreggor bout at the MGM Grand.  Police will also be looking for illegal activity, including prostitution…One person who [prrtends to] know…first hand [sic] is former sex worker Annie Lobert.  She now runs…[Liars] for Jesus and Destiny House, a [rescue industry scam]…How big is the take on fight weekend?  Lobert said, “I would normally make $5 thousand a night, Fight Night $15 thousand, $10 thousand, $20 thousand”.  But what isn’t talked about she says, are the victims; girls and boys sometimes trafficked here from other countries, many lured from Clark County schools, and quite a few underage.  The only event bigger than Fight Night may be The Super Bowl…

The subject of a 14-year-old moral panic in full swing “isn’t talked about”.

Tyranny By Consensus (#608) 

Looks like LA still isn’t done beating this very dead horse:

We are deeply troubled by the vote today by the Board of Supervisors to approve a Measure B permit structure drafted by those without any knowledge of the adult industry, and over the objections of the performers it [claims] to protect…Anyone filming adult content in Los Angeles is now required to pay a $1671 health permit fee, undergo sexual health training, and mandate that performers wear condoms.  Anyone who fails to comply with those strictures faces $1000 fine, and up to six months in jail.  Despite having five years to formulate a plan and work with stakeholders, the Department of Public Health submitted the proposal to the Board of Supervisors just over a month ago, without consulting performers or alerting the industry to the opportunity to provide public comment.  This is not surprising — Dr. Ferrer, the new head of the Department of Public Health, sat after the proceedings with AHF, the controversial organization that put Measure B on the ballot…Dr. Ferrer ignored performers when they attempted to make public comment, and performers were heckled and shouted at by members of the AHF contingent.  One performer was called a whore.  Make no mistake: like Measure B, this vote was done based on bias and ignorance, an attempt by moralists to punish an already stigmatized minority…

Of Course It Is (#674)

I hope she gets every damned penny:

[Celeste Guap]…has filed a lawsuit against one of the [police departments whose cops exploited her]…She…had sexual encounters with four Richmond [cops] in exchange for protection from arrest and tipoffs to prostitution operations…a fifth [cop] fondled her.  Several…face criminal charges…

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Letting Go

As regular readers know, it’s always been extremely difficult for me to relax; my brain never stops and rarely slows, and if I don’t keep it occupied it tends to veer off into things I prefer it not to think about.  That means I can’t concentrate when there are distractions, and being “in the moment” is impossible without the help of drugs or other means of altering brain chemistry.  So as you might expect, just letting go and allowing someone else deal with stuff has never been my strong point, especially since most of the people in my life have always relied on my hypercompetence and therefore entrusted all the preparation and administration to me.  I’ve always been the mommy, the planner, the Girl Friday, the designated driver, the navigatrix, the detail-noticer, the problem solver, the solution-finder, the bearer of burdens.  But over the past few years I’ve been fortunate enough to find myself in a circle of extremely competent women, and I’ve learned that it’s safe to trust them to deal with things when they volunteer to do so, rather than having to take care of everything myself.  Traveling with Lorelei is a special delight; she thinks of all the details I’d think of plus some, and isn’t afraid to delegate back to me if she needs help.  On our recent eclipse trip, she did everything from booking the lodging to plotting our route, and I was happy to be her passenger and companion and help out when needed.  This whole “letting go and enjoying the ride” thing is pretty novel for me, but I’m really beginning to enjoy it; maybe it’ll even help to reduce my stress levels in the long run.

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