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Archive for December, 2017

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.
–  attributed to Lucius Annaeus Seneca

And so we come to the end of another difficult year.  I think it’s safe to say that most Americans considered it a pretty bad one, partly because of the behavior of our mad emperor but mostly because of the continuation of trends that were in place long before anyone even knew who he was…trends like the increasing violence of the police, the increasing prevalence of surveillance, and the increasing number of laws designed to criminalize every aspect of ordinary life.  The year was also not especially good for me personally; oh, I’m not under as much stress as I was last year or the year before at this time, and there were some wonderful high points like my weekly dates (and trip to Ireland) with Lorelei Rivers.  But I’m afraid the damage of decades is catching up with me; none of the old wounds are healing any longer and I just can’t get the howling things to go back in their boxes any more, so now my coping strategy is “spend as much time as possible in the less-haunted parts of the house; eliminate, ignore or refuse activities that might take me downstairs alone; turn the music up so loud they’re drowned out; and spend as little of the rest of the time conscious and sober as is practical.”  Case in point, this very essay; for most of my life this time of year was a happy one, but in the past few years it has become for me a time for melancholy and emotional exhaustion.  It seems the most certain way to ensure that a situation worsens is to declare that it’s already as bad as it can get, so I won’t do that.  But I will say that even in the midst of this blue period, I still dare to hope that maybe the coming year won’t be quite as difficult as the last three years have been, even if only because I’m so used to it now.

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I will eat Mum on Christmas Day.  –  Debra Parsons

Add to your list of Maggie’s weird little personality quirks: I love Rube Goldberg machines.  Always have, ever since childhood; I was very fond of the game “Mousetrap”, and loved such gimmicks in cartoons.  So naturally I’m kind of a sucker for elaborate domino layouts like this one (and it’s seasonal)!  The links above it were provided by Tim Cushing (“oops”), Eddie J Cunningham (“does”),  Maura Alwyen (“again”), Elizabeth N. Brown (“whatsoever” and “court”), Adjective Girl (“ago”), and Ed Krayewski (“bystander”).

From the Archives

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Back Issue: December 2014

[Sex workers] must love and care for each other so, because none of the “good”, “righteous”, “upstanding” members of “law-abiding” society will.  –  “On December Seventeenth

As the number of “independent” columns has decreased, these back issues have grown ever shorter, and that’s especially true of December.  Once the holidays (St Nicholas Day, December Seventeenth, YuleChristmas EveChristmas DayBoxing Day, and New Year’s Eve); the harlotography (“Lou Graham“); the guest columnist (Paul Maginn); the fictional interlude (“Serpentine“); the Q&A columns (“The Missing Piece” and “For Love“); and the Cliterati reprints (“Traffic in Nonsense” and “A Year Later“) are counted, the only two essays left are “False Witness” (on the fallibility of human memory) and “Unfolding” (on upcoming changes to my blog’s format).

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Diary #391

It’s rare that it snows in Seattle at all, much less right on time.  But this year, thanks to several hours of Christmas Eve snow all over this part of the Pacific Northwest, we had a genuine white Christmas.  And though we got a decent amount out at Sunset, it didn’t accumulate and was followed by rain; not exactly conducive to lovely pictures.  Not so in Seattle, though; this photo was taken by one of my guests on her way to my place on Christmas morning.  It’s been a few years since I cooked a Christmas dinner, so this was simultaneously nostalgic and chaotic (because I didn’t unpack the boxes and therefore didn’t know where anything had been put away in the kitchen).  Another thing that was a bit different:  two of my guests wanted to contribute a dish themselves, so there were as many as three of us in the kitchen at once (it’s fairly large, so we didn’t really get in each other’s way).  So even though most everything is still in boxes and it’s obvious that people only moved in recently, I was able to get a tiny glimpse of what holidays may be like there once the dust finally settles and I have things the way I want them.

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Democrats have been using internet sex panics to score political victories since the days of MySpace.  –  A.V. Flox

Rough Trade 

Please be careful out there, ladies:

[Los Angeles] detectives are searching for a serial rapist they say preys on prostitutes.  The suspect [pretends he want to]…pay…but…ends up kidnapping the women, raping them and then dumping them from his vehicle.  The man has struck at least 12 times since January 2014…victims have ranged from 15 to 46 years old…Despite the fact the man’s description has varied, and wildly, police [claim to] believe the one man is responsible for the attacks…

The Swedish Pimpocracy

If you’re raped in Sweden, claim the rapist offered to pay you; THAT, they’ll punish him for:

A Swedish court has acquitted five men accused of [gang] raping a woman and being complicit in her rape in Stockholm suburb Fittja in 2016…Video evidence from CCTV and images from the stairwell where the rape is alleged to have taken place were…used in the trial, as well as witness accounts.  The three men accused of rape acknowledged that they had sex with the woman, but insisted that it was voluntary.  And while it “was been established the woman had injuries after the incident in the form of skin discoloration and scrapes, the origin of or reason for them could not be established” the court’s summary of the trial states…

Profound Ignorance 

Even when economists produce research that supports sex worker rights, it’s riddled with dumb statements:

…Research published in the Review of Economic Studies  found that when prostitution was decriminalised in Rhode Island, sexual violence fell by 30 per cent and female gonorrhoea incidence decreased by more than 40 per cent.  The findings were based on an examination of the impact of a six-year prostitution decriminalisation policy in the state, from 2003 to 2009…Previous research shows that 23 per cent of female sex workers report they have had gonorrhoea, compared to 4.7 per cent for women who have never been paid for sex…the decline in sexual violence was due to a number of factors relating to the decriminalisation of prostitution.  When sex work is legal, prostitution firms are more likely to invest in locks, security cameras and security personnel to reduce the opportunity of premeditated client violence…Decriminalisation also reduces violence by increasing sex workers’ willingness to cooperate with police and reducing opportunities for police corruption.  Currently only 34 per cent of prostitutes who are victims of violence by clients report it to the police…

Manisha Shah is Scott Cunningham’s research partner for the previous version of this study, so seeing the usual Cunningham mistakes isn’t surprising.  Rhode Island decriminalized for almost 30 years, not 6.  Comparing the STI rates of street sex workers (it isn’t nearly 23% lifetime rate in the population of all sex workers) to that of all women – many of whom are in long-term monogamous marriages – produces meaningless results (sexually active amateurs have much higher STI rates than sex workers).  A minority of sex workers work for “firms” of any size (most are independent or work in small associations).  The majority of violence against sex workers is committed by cops, not clients, which is an important reason violence decreases under decrim, but this study ignores it.  And so on, and so on…

The Truth About “The Truth About…”

And now there are people who want to reverse the burden of proof in rape cases, which would make escaping this kind of false accusation impossible:

A student has described going through “mental torture” after a rape case against him was thrown out in court because police had [intentionally hidden] more than 40,000 messages from his accuser.  Liam Allan, 22, faced up to ten years in jail charged with six counts of rape and six counts of sexual assault against a young woman over a 14-month period that began when he was 19…Mr Allan claimed it was consensual and [the accuser] was acting maliciously because he refused to see her after he returned to university…The messages showed how she had continually messaged Mr Allan for “casual sex”, said how much she enjoyed it and discussed fantasies of violent sex and rape…The life-changing discovery was made at the 11th hour when a new prosecutor, Jerry Hayes, took over the case one day before the trial began and ordered police to hand over records — including a computer disk that contained 40,000 messages…[police had previously] denied [requests for the messages, claiming] there was nothing of interest in them…detectives had previously told [the prosecutor that] the sexual messages were “too personal” to share…

Banishment

Like all truly oppressive laws, this one is bipartisan:

Oregon is about to enact one of the country’s most draconian, carceral, and unnecessary “public safety” measures.  Beginning on January 1, 2018, certain sex crimes committed in the state will come with a presumptive sentence of life in prison, without the possibility of parole or release…[This] will apply to those convicted of first-degree rape, sodomy, or unlawful sexual penetration if they have a prior conviction …for any of these crimes…[or] similar charges…The measure was introduced by Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem) and Sen. Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer) in April 2017.  It was signed into law by Democratic Gov. Kate Brown in August.  An analysis of the proposed fiscal impact of the legislation found it “could impose significant increases in public defense costs,” estimating cost increases of around $800,000 to $1,350,000 per year…

Shame, Shame 

Once in a while a judge treats a sex worker as a human being:

Being a sex worker does not disqualify you from having a private life, a judge has said, as he granted an injunction to an escort who has been harassed online.  The woman, known as GYH, has been caused considerable distress by online publications about her sex life, physical and mental health…These include allegations that she has HIV/AIDS, which…are untrue.  GYH brought proceedings in London against “persons unknown” as, despite extensive efforts, it has proved impossible to trace any individual who has posted the material…the abuse began in December 2015 after she received a text message from someone claiming to be a student who wished to meet her socially but not pay for her services.  When GYH declined, the conversation deteriorated into abuse.  She also received anonymous phone calls with further abuse.  Posts on a series of websites made allegations that she had spread sexually transmitted diseases, was anorexic and mentally ill…They use both her work name and legal name and also include specific and identifiable information about her and pictures…

Choke Point 

An important article, despite the dumb & tone-deaf jab at libertarians in the end note:

…though it may come as a surprise to a few queers under the umbrella, the masters of political-ascent-via-internet-sex-panic are our political darlings, the Democrats…and they’re still doing it.  Take Kamala Harris.  One of her biggest achievements while she was Attorney General of California came at the expense of sex workers…Harris is a senator now, and we still don’t know how many cops are implicated in the sexual exploitation of a minor…sex worker…this is not the only account of victimization at the hands of police (in case you were wondering why some queers really don’t want police at Pride.  Hey, did you know that transwomen arrested during prostitution stings tend to be misgendered as pimps and johns and charged with human trafficking?  Helps pad the numbers!)…“Real name” policies that have terrorized the trans community?  We can thank Richard Blumenthal…for those…And…all the “adult content” guidelines on him, too…Payment processors and financial institutions getting squeamish about adult content?  Barack Obama was already president when he green-lit the FDIC on the operation to discourage legal businesses  extralegally, but the Cook County sheriff…sure took it to a whole new level

Bread and Circuses 

The time for Playboy to come on board as an active supporter of sex worker rights is long overdue:

…The…campaign [against sex workers] has shut down online advertising venues that sex workers depend on to acquire and screen their clients.  The FBI, the DOJ and Homeland Security launched the raids and closures of websites like Rentboy, Redbook and Backpage…The latest casualty appears to be the Eros Guide—its call center headquarters were raided in Youngstown, North Carolina in early November…These website crackdowns appear to be mere dress rehearsals for a wide-reaching, bipartisan piece of legislation now moving through Congress.  The Senate bill, Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act, and the House companion version, Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, both have feel-good titles, but activists argue that these proposed policy changes would have worrisome implications for free speech, and would actually worsen conditions for anyone in the sex trade…

To Molest and Rape 

If this were really a consensual “relationship” as they want us to think, why did the woman report him?

A Portland [cop]…pleaded guilty to first-degree official misconduct and was sentenced to a year and a half of probation with required community service for having sex on duty with a woman he [supposedly] met responding to a neighborhood noise disturbance call…Christian Robert Berge…[also] agreed to resign from the Portland Police…and surrender his police certification…Multnomah County Chief Deputy District Attorney Don Rees didn’t describe the offense during the brief court hearing…The alleged sexual relationship lasted from mid-August 2015 through this past May…The woman reported the behavior to police recently…

Lack of Evidence (#716) 

Pink News seems to think that if he really were a sex worker, this would be OK:

A gay German national was forced onto a flight to Japan after being refused entry into Australia.  As PrEP tablets and sex toys were found in his luggage, Border Force agents accused the man of coming into the country to engage in sex work…Michael (not his real name) had reportedly been living in Australia for more than two years when he took a week-long trip to Japan after his tourist visa expired…[he] hoped to apply for a partner visa with his boyfriend, Andrew (also not his real name)…Andrew alleged that his boyfriend was profiled by agents for appearing “visibly gay”.  Officials asked him to open his suitcase, where they found PrEP tablets and sex toys.  It is not illegal to bring either of these into Australia for personal use.  Despite this fact, guards…confiscated them and even went through Michael’s phone.  They found text messages on the phone which they have since used as proof that Michael was planning to engage in paid sex work…

The Widening Gyre (#718) 

Teenage sweethearts run away together; fetishists immediately start spinning “sex trafficking” fantasies:

Sex trafficking experts say they believe two missing Humble High School teens, a 14 year old and a 15 year old, may have been lured away from home by sex traffickers…[they were] found safe [on December 19th but] police aren’t releasing any other details.  Ame Carr…[and] Alexander Irizarry-Avila…were in a relationship.  Carr did not leave a note but Irizarry did…“telling [his mother] he’d check in once a week, telling her he’s OK…he said ‘Don’t call the police because it would make it that much harder for me to come home’”…

Business As Usual (#733) 

Michigan cops can no longer get away with openly raping sex workers; now they have to pretend they didn’t, as they do in the other 49 states:

Michigan law will no longer shield police from prosecution for prostitution-related offenses committed while on duty…Michigan was believed to be the last state in the country to give police [explicit] immunity for [raping] prostitutes [before arresting them]…

Rooted in Racism (#795) 

No, this didn’t “veer…close to racial profiling”; it was clear and deliberate racial profiling within government-approved guidelines:

…Brian and Renee Smith…were questioned on arrival at the airport in Phoenix, suspected of being human traffickers for traveling with [their] 16-year-old Asian…adopted daughter, Georgiana…During a flight from Florida to their home in Arizona on December 20, father and Georgiana were seated together, mom and the family’s three other children were not in the same row.  This [inspired]…the Southwest Airlines flight attendant to [have sexual fantasies about] the white man and [young] Asian [woman].  All flight attendants in America are required to receive training in spotting human traffickers under a law passed in 2016…to the Smith family, the experience was humiliating and worrisome, veering close to racial profiling…because Georgiana [is] not Caucasian…

Kudos to Forbes contributor Christina Negroni for recognizing that the “air hostess stops sex trafficking” story floating around for the past few years is bogus.

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Boxing Day 2017

Just a reminder of what this day is for:  relaxing and sharing with the less fortunate.  And they needn’t be strangers.  Happy Holidays, and Blessed Be.

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Christmas Day 2017


A Very Merry Christmas to all my readers, and Blessed Be!

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Christmas Eve 2017


Merry Christmas, dear readers, and may you all find everything you hope for under your tree!

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Your language is disgusting.  –  unnamed racist woman

One of my favorite musicians has just released a new Christmas album, and here’s her performance of one of my favorite Christmas carols!  The links above the video were provided by Radley BalkoAmy AlkonMike SiegelAlejandroTim Cushing,  Adjective Girl and Radley again, in that order.

From the Archives

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Sex workers…are fed up with being used as pawns…in…a publicity stunt.  –  Valerie Scott

Dirty Amateurs

Amateurs are a menace to public health; they should be licensed and heavily regulated:

A new campaign’s being launched by Public Health England to get more under-25s to use condoms…a survey carried out by PHE and YouGov revealed almost half of 16-24-year-olds have never used a condom with a new partner.  One in 10 of them had never even used one…

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs

The story is the same the world over:

…The Immoral Traffic Prevention Act 1986, which conflates trafficking and sex trade…and…other laws under the Indian Penal Code…look at trafficking only from the perspective of sex work…people being tricked into or forced into moving for labour related activities in construction, factories etc are left out of the equation…The proposed new anti-trafficking Bill makes small amends.  [sic] But, leaves a lot more to be desired…interestingly, the version of the Bill that was distributed to the stakeholders for feedback is not the version that is with the Cabinet.  So, when the Bill will be introduced in the Parliament in the Winter Session, the chances are that parts of it will come as a shock to various communities that will be affected by it…Sex workers have constantly expressed their opposition to the Bill, claiming that it presupposes that sex work always entails trafficking and can never be voluntary…

End Demand 

The “end demand” strategy carried to its logical conclusion:

21-year-old Creio Chance Bishop did not want his girlfriend dancing at JB’s Gentlemen’s Club in West Virginia.  The jealous boyfriend is facing second-degree arson charges after…he set the exterior of the strip club where his girlfriend worked on fire at 3:30 a.m. on December 13.  The manager…Jim Reed…[said] “It’s stupid.  She’s trying to make a living for herself.  He’s not doing nothing.  She’s paying the bills, from what I understand.”  Bishop fled the crime scene on foot, only making it as far as a Walmart parking lot right across the street before Cabell County Sheriff’s Department deputies detained him…

Monsters 

This brings the toll to 28 this year:

A transgender woman was shot to death in Houston’s Sunnyside neighborhood early Wednesday, Dec. 13…Brandi Seals, 26…is at least the 28th trans person murdered in the U.S. in 2017, the deadliest year on record for the community.  The vast majority of victims, including Seals, have been trans women of color.  Four of the murders have occurred in Texas.  Seals was repeatedly misgendered in a Fox 26 report about her murder, including by a Houston police detective who referred to the victim as “a man in women’s clothing”…

Bait and Switch

If you’re tempted to badge-lick about this, reread the original article of this heading:

A 22-year-old college student at Ohio’s Youngstown State University was arrested after falling for a fictional 15-year-old boy created by local cops…[who] used a phony dating-app profile for…an adult to lure in the student…After chatting, the catfish “revealed” he was [supposedly] 15 years old.  The college student, A.G. (not his full name), indicated he didn’t have a problem with his age.  The conversation eventually turned sexual and A.G. sent the faux boy some nude photos of himself.  It was clear from the exchanges, police [admit], that A.G. was developing feelings for the imaginary teen.  A.G. described him as “my one and only” and talked about being his husband someday.  On December 12…A.G. showed up at what he thought was the boy’s home with homemade chicken alfredo, soda, and lubricant…This a young man who is about 5’7″…weighs 450 pounds…[and] is gay in a part of Ohio where that’s still really difficult sometimes…he…was preyed on by police who pretended to be interested and said exactly what he wanted to hear, even after realizing the emotional attachment he was developing and the potential psychological effect this was having on him.  And now he will likely be branded a sex offender and a pedophile for life.

Harm Reduction (#627)

Alas, politicians, being exceptionally stupid creatures, cannot understand that the same principles hold true for all prohibition:

Norway is to become the first Scandinavian country to decriminalise drugs as it focuses on treatment rather than punishment.  The majority of the Norwegian parliament, the Storting, backed the historic shift…and…directed the national government to reform its policies on drugs.  Sveinung Stensland, deputy chairman of the Storting Health Committee, [said]…“It is important to emphasise that we do not legalise cannabis and other drugs, but we decriminalise…those who have a substance abuse problem should be treated as ill, and not as criminals with classical sanctions such as fines and imprisonment”…

Of course, the vast majority of people who use prohibited drugs have no “problem”, and if this new policy forces people into “treatment” it’ll just be another Scandinavian scheme to dress authoritarianism up as social justice.

The Puritan Recrudescence

“Environmental cost” = “public health crisis”.

…Is pornography in the digital era leaving a larger carbon footprint than it did during the days of magazines and videos?…if pornography experts’ estimates are accurate, they suggest a rare scenario where digitization might have increased the overall consumption of porn so much that…people to spend so much time looking at porn that it’s actually worse for the environment…

The Course of a Disease (#634)

It’s good to see Médecins du Monde make this position official:

Médecins du Monde has officially announced its position in favor of the total decriminalization of sex work…adopting a position similar to that of Amnesty International…Dr Françoise Sivignon [said]…”In France, a little more than a year and a half after the adoption of the law aimed at fighting against the prostitution system, we clearly see the deleterious impact of measures adopted…we are witnessing the isolation…of sex workers, their distance from care and prevention structures, as well as increased exposure to sexually transmitted infections and increased violence”…Doctors of the World had already made known its position against the penalization of the customers during the parliamentary debates of the previous years…The organization…explains…[that] criminalization policies are…incompatible with good access to [medical] care or prevention…

To Molest and Rape 

Two more cops, protecting and serving:

Two [Alabama cops]…Jonathan Perry Works…and Brian Edward Walker…were…charged with two counts of first-degree rape and two counts of first-degree sodomy…[for raping a] mentally incapacitated [woman]…

Whither Canada? (#748)

Articles like this are much more common in Canada, while US media self-destructively cheer censorship:

Recently, the owner of a [Greater Toronto] bar began a campaign against NOW Magazine.  Decals reading “NOW Sells Sex Slaves” have been appearing in parts of Toronto, including on public art.  Letters making false and misleading claims that NOW “facilitates human trafficking” have been sent to many of the magazine’s advertisers and to Chief Federal Prosecutor Morris Pistyner…NOW does not “facilitate human trafficking.”  In fact, quite the opposite.  By publishing the ads of sex workers, NOW facilitates our ability to remain safe and independent.  But religious fundamentalists – and some old-school feminists –  have formed alliances and been quite successful in redefining all sex work as human trafficking.  In their view, all adult women are incapable of making the choice of whom to have sex with if money is involved…

Scrupleless in Seattle (#772)

These guys dodged a bullet, but you may not; STOP going to see unknowns who may be cops!

After more than a hundred people were arrested early September following an eight-day prostitution sting in Bellevue, 61 of those cases have now been dismissed due to [cops’ violation of] Washington state law…Part of the [scheme] included hidden cameras…[but] state law requires two-party consent to record audio conversations…

The Pygmalion Fallacy (#778) 

A talking toaster is still a toaster:

In February…I ran an experiment in which I sexually harassed Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Google’s Google Home to document how these digital personal servants—whose names and voices are already feminized—peddle stereotypes of female subservience, putting their “progressive” parent companies in a moral predicament.  Now, those findings are being cited in a petition on the social network Care2 asking Apple and Amazon to “reprogram their bots to push back against sexual harassment”…

The idea that words and phrases without sexual motivation shouted at a circuit board constitute “sexual harassment” is like something out of a Monty Python sketch; the fact that people seriously think of this nonsense as a “moral predicament” doesn’t say much for their grasp of reality.

Against Their Will (#795)

Prohibitionists call this “rescue”:

Yang Song fell four stories onto a sidewalk in Flushing, Queens on the night of November 25th…while [fleeing] police…attempting to arrest her for allegedly engaging in sex work…Hai Song, Yang’s younger brother…and his 65-year-old mother, Yumei Shi…are haunted by details she shared with them over the phone this year.  Yang described being sexually assaulted by a man who flashed a badge and gun and claimed to be an undercover cop, they say.  Yang also told them that the police [pressured] her to become a [snitch] this fall…“I hope to know the truth,” Shi [said via]…a translator.  “We want to know whether this was a retaliation from the police and they forced her to die”…While the police [claim] that they were not in the room when Yang jumped…both Hai and Shi insist that she would not kill herself…they are left with the stories Yang shared with them about her life in Flushing — and of the police she…[was] harassed and intimidated by…

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