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Archive for February, 2018

Imagine…saying that domestic violence victims need to be arrested because they’re too morally damaged to know what’s good for them.  –  Tara Burns

Do As I Say, Not As I Do 

Boo hoo hoo, the poor widdle piggie CWIED because he got caught!

A police officer breaks down in tears after being arrested on suspicion of blackmail as part of an investigation to weed out corrupt cops.  DC Gareth Suffling is led away in handcuffs after he was found to have accessed a blackmail victim’s details on his police computer to find out his address before the victim reported he was being blackmailed…[the] married man [was] sent a letter threatening to tell his family he had received oral sex from a sex worker unless he pays the blackmailer £1000.  The letter also contained photos of the man visiting the sex worker…

Moloch 

Naturally, there are people opposed to this, because THE CHILDREN!!!!

A Kansas state legislator has proposed a bill that would decriminalize consensual sexual contact between kids under the age of 14…the state’s draconian laws…currently criminalize sexual contact up to age 16…The bill is partly inspired by the ordeal of Randy Masten, whose 14-year-old son was charged with a felony for engaging in mutual, consensual kissing and touching with a 13-year-old girl…”The charges were later dropped.  Masten…spent nearly $13,000 on an attorney and never found out why the case went away…his son and the girl were 55 days apart in age.  ‘What if we did not have the means to defend our son?  An overzealous DA…could have destroyed my son’s life and wrecked the lives of my wife and myself as well’, Masten said“…

Watershed

Articles like this one are now becoming quite common:

…sex workers are challenging…misleading and harmful efforts to link prostitution to sex trafficking.  “People have used this moral panic, this idea that there is a trafficking epidemic, to create so much funding and so much policy that now they’re being pressured to show the evidence”…said Tara Burns, researcher and founding member of the Community United for Safety and Protection (CUSP)…“That’s where we see police arresting [prostitutes] for sex trafficking themselves, just so they can get those sex trafficking numbers up, and match the moral panic they’ve created”…

Policing for Profit

When victims have nothing to steal, cops profit from them by fucking up their lives instead:

Moving in on what [they claimed] to be a crack deal, [two cops planted] two packets, which turned out to contain little more than a residue of the drug.  Two men — [claimed] to be the buyer and the seller — were arrested, but the charges against one of the men were eventually dismissed.  What the [cops] did get that day was more than 20 hours in overtime for hauling in and processing the men…as much as $1,400 in extra pay…four of the [cops] involved…fac[e] accusations that they detained one of the men, Hector Cordero, simply to increase their income.  If any of the [four] are found liable, another trial will be scheduled, one that could represent the biggest challenge to New York policing practices since stop-and-frisk.  The second trial would examine the broader question of whether the city’s [cops] habitually use false arrests to bolster their pay.  Accusations about the practice — known as “collars for dollars” — have dogged the department for decades.  The Mollen Commission’s 1994 report about police corruption, which used the term, detailed the various and devious overtime schemes that have been used…

Torture Chamber 

I can tell you exactly how high it goes, but you won’t like or accept the answer:

S[even screws]…have been charged with sexually abusing female inmates, some for more than a decade, at a…prison in Pennsylvania…The seven men created a culture of fear and [rape] inside the Lackawanna County Prison in Scranton, using their positions of power over the inmates to [rape] them…in cells and utility closets…The sexual abuse was common and widely known within the prison, where guards alerted one another if supervisors were approaching while they were [raping their victims]…Josh Shapiro, the state’s attorney general, said…“This was not one rogue prison guard…Whenever you see this kind of scope, whenever you see this kind of pervasive culture that was allowed to exist, you have to wonder how far up the chain this goes”…

Eternal Vigilance

Even in Australia, where one state has decrim and it’s frequently talked about in others, prohibitionists keep trying to spread their lies:

Respect and the peak national sex worker organisation, the Scarlet Alliance, are calling on every state and territory to follow the example of New South Wales, which repealed laws against prostitution…But legitimacy is vehemently opposed by the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women Australia (CATWA).  Spokeswoman Dr Meagan Tyler…says decriminalisation does not recognise [what she fantasizes are] prostitution’s systemic harms and imbedded inequalities…

False Witness 

Just in case you thought stuff like this ended with the Satanic Panic:

Gabby Sones…along with a nephew and two nieces—all of them between the ages of four and eight—had [been led by cops, prosecutors, “child protection” bureaucrats and other malignant busybodies to support a] made[-up] series of accusations that rocked their community.  They’d claimed that Gabby’s parents, Jimmy and Sheila, as well as five other local adults, had committed a series of depraved, almost incomprehensible sex crimes.  The defendants, the children [were led to] testif[y], had set up a “sex kindergarten” in a trailer outside Tyler [Texas].  Then the adults [fantasized that the Sones & the others] had put the children on a stage at a swingers club in nearby Mineola, where the kids were drugged and forced to dance and have sex with one another…“Mineola Child Sex Ring: ‘Indescribable Acts,’ ” blared the Tyler Morning Telegraph.  Across the country, people read in Newsweek about the case…A war would rage for eight years, pitting children against parents, social workers against cops, and one district attorney against another.  But above all else, it would pit a woman named Margie Cantrell, a lifelong [busybody] and de[lusional pathological liar]…against a group of people portrayed [by “authorities”] as redneck deviants.  In 2008 and 2010, based on the [coerced] testimony of Gabby and the other children, four of the defendants were put on trial and sentenced to prison for life.  As a young child, Gabby had…accepted whatever [cops] told her.  But she was an intelligent kid, curious and hardheaded, and the older she got, the more she tried to make sense of what she’d supposedly been through.  As a teenager, the questions in her mind became more difficult to suppress.  The stories just didn’t add up…

In this case, several of the victims of the witch hunt managed to escape without their lives being entirely destroyed, and Gabby is working to clear their names.  But until our “justice” system renounces its sick obsession with doing anything, even pretending that impossible nonsense is credible, in order to score “convictions” by destroying people’s lives, this is going to keep happening over and over and over.

Prudesville (#794) 

Stays like this always favor the party with more money and power, in this case the city:

The city of Everett, Washington, has filed an appeal after a federal judge ruled in favor of bikini baristas, who sued the city over new dress code ordinances that ban bare skin…the baristas’ lawsuit has been put on hold as the city appeals the judge’s decision in December to extend an injunction, preventing the city from enforcing its two laws. The judge last month agreed to stay the case as the appeal proceeds…

Lest you forget, Everett’s argument for its law is “women who dress like sluts are asking to be raped”.

Cooties (#811)

AirBnB knows very well there’s no “sex trafficking” going on, because sex workers rent the spaces under their own individual profiles.  But this makes good publicity for the very stupid:

Airbnb said…it would invest in new technology to crack down on modern slavery [in order to capitalize on fantasies]…that traffickers are turning its properties into “pop-up brothels” to sexually exploit [passive, doll-like] women and girls.  Airbnb…has teamed up with anti-[sex worker profiteers] Polaris to [indocrinate] its employees, develop new [means of spying on AirBnB users] and [rat suspected sex workers out to] the police…

 

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This coming weekend is SASS; I’m only taking a small role this year, but my friend Angela is on the panel discussion so she’ll be staying with me and that’s always fun.  I’ve also got my annual telelecture to a human sexuality class at OSU this week, and it’s special for me because the new teacher told me she remembers my guest lecture from when she was a student taking the class, and was very excited about it.  It really helps me to hear things like that, or to help expose a rapist, or to be asked to write a magazine article (more on that when it comes out), because as regular readers know my energy is not what it once was and it’s good for me to know that I’m making a difference in the world.  Oh, and speaking of the world, UK readers may be interested in knowing that I’m starting to plan a trip there in May, and I wouldn’t be averse to seeing a few of y’all professionally; I’ll give you more details as I get them.  In the meantime, now that I have Sunset I plan to get some chickens next week; the place has a big henhouse and a nice-sized coop area, and it’ll be wonderful to have fresh eggs again.  A small thing?  Sure.  But sometimes those make all this difference in one’s emotional health.

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Back Issue: February 2015

Most lawmakers have always been pompous ignoramuses too obsessed with telling other people what to do to actually have normal lives.  –  “Moving Pictures

With my move to Seattle and the resulting shakeup to the rhythm of my life, I made a number of changes that resulted in even fewer “stand-alone” columns than before; since February is already a short month with a large number of holidays, the effect is striking.  After we account for the news, links, diary and other recurring columns; the holidays (ImbolcFriday the 13thValentine’s Day, and Mardi Gras); the guest columnist (“Hugo“), fictional interlude (“Magna Mater“), and harlotography (“Lady Hamilton“); the Cliterati reprints (“Rotting Fruit“, “Moving Pictures“, and “Nothing New“); and the Q&A columns (“Unconventional” and “Fraught With Complications“), there are literally no columns left over to account for.  And though subsequent months weren’t quite so packed with regular features, the effect is pretty dramatic when one compares it to the contents of the Back Issue from the month in question.

 

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Tyranny is our inclination to punish and oppress the other.  –  Ken White

A tweet about favorite Rolling Stones songs got me thinking about this one (surely you didn’t think my favorite Stones song would be a happy, upbeat one?), so here it is.  The links above it were provided by Mark DraughnPopehatDave KruegerAdi MacArtney, and Carol Fenton (x2), in that order.

From the Archives

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[Laura Lee] put herself on the line in a way few have the guts to do.  –  Brooke Magnanti

Storyville 

An interesting look at brothel archaeology in Australia:

Sex work was one of the major ways poor women could earn a reasonable income in the 19th century.  Especially unmarried women with babies.  But we don’t hear people say “my great-great-grandmother was a sex worker”…Social stigma belies the importance of prostitution in providing an independent living, and even property ownership, for numerous women in this period…the Little Lon district in Melbourne CBD’s north-east corner…has been extensively excavated by a series of archaeological projects over the last 30 years, and our recent intensive research on the artefacts recovered (held at Museum Victoria and Heritage Victoria) is revealing much more about the brothels and the women who owned them that had disappeared from memory…

Whore Madonnas 

While mainstream media mindlessly parrots “sex trafficking” propaganda, the alternative press is listening to sex workers:

…Liz Afton works as a counselor at the Sex Workers Project…which provides legal and social services to people involved in sex work…“Mothers…who are involved in sex work often have it used against them to separate them from their child,” Afton says.  Atossa Movahedi, director of legal services and development at the UJC’s domestic violence project, says…“More often than not…the opposing party had knowledge of, or even was involved directly, in the client’s participation in the sex work, and is now using it as a tool to exploit them in the court system.”  When dealing with custody disputes, courts [supposedly] first look at a parent’s ability to provide a loving and stable home.  Financial status, mental health, drug use and domestic violence all fall under consideration.  Though many mothers involved in sex work pass inspection in these areas, they’re left with the fact that the job is usually illegal—and in the eyes of some on the bench, immoral…

The Pro-Rape Coalition 

Liz Brown is becoming our most powerful voice against sex hysteria:

Evidence-free freakouts over erotica are a time-honored tradition…history is littered with authoritarians of all stripes convinced that censoring sexual imagery was a necessary social good.  And with each iteration, what porn prohibitionists lack in actual facts to support their doomy view they make up for with warnings that this time it’s different — that whatever new medium exists for producing or distributing porn is uniquely dangerous to the youth and degrading to good women.  For decades now, this supposed difference has been chalked up to the proliferation of online pornography…there’s no evidence that internet porn has been destroying millennials — some of whom now have two decades of…data to offer…all the available evidence shows…teens today are starting sex later, and more likely than previous generations to use condoms when they do.  Teen pregnancy rates are at their lowest levels in decades…In addition, there’s now a huge body of research showing that…it’s “time to discard the hypothesis that pornography contributes to increased sexual assault behavior”…sexually well-adjusted adults “reported more experience with pornography as teenagers” than their maladjusted counterparts…

Finding What Isn’t There

Too bad all prohibitionism isn’t focused on harassing women who don’t exist:

Lake of the Woods boasts 15,000 islands and more than 100,000 kilometres of shoreline — more coast than Lake Superior…the [area]…near the Manitoba border sees its population double in the summer months.  When [masturbatory fantasies] of women and girls being forced into the sex trade on Lake of the Woods arose at a 2013 human trafficking conference in Kenora, even local social service workers were shocked…“Dock girls,” as they came to be known…are [fantasized] to be overwhelmingly Indigenous [minors who]…are [fantasized] to be transported…from…northwestern Ontario and Manitoba as part of a human trafficking circuit…only…one social service worker [in the area claims]…they’ve come face-to-face with a “dock girl”…[yet]…Kenora will receive $504,000 over three years to [indoctrinate] frontline hospitality workers…[in the usual anti-whore propaganda]…there is so little hard evidence for the “dock girl” phenomenon that it raises questions about whether the problem exists at all.  And if it doesn’t, critics say, wouldn’t the government’s funding…be better spent elsewhere?…

Policing for Profit

Cops are starting to admit that this is about nothing other than profit:

In Alabama…two [politicians] introduced legislation that would require that prosecutors actually convict people of crimes in order to keep their stuff.  It would put the burden on the state to prove that the property they want to seize is connected to a crime…It would move the proceeds of forfeiture to the state’s general fund to eliminate the profit incentive for police and prosecutors to try to seize whatever they could get their hands on.  And it would close a loophole that would forbid local law enforcement agencies from bypassing restrictions by participating in the federal “equitable sharing” Department of Justice forfeiture program…the head of the Alabama District Attorney’s Association and the Alabama Sheriffs Association teamed up with an op-ed that urges against reforms to asset forfeiture…Brian McVeigh and Dave Sutton warn that requiring successful prosecutions will lead to them filing more charges against people…When you find yourself threatening to find more reasons to put even more citizens in jail in order to protect your revenue stream, it’s maybe time to…think about what you’re doing…

Torture Chamber 

Stop faking!

Women imprisoned at California’s Santa Rita Jail say they’re being [caged] in filthy conditions, denied basic hygiene products, pressured to have abortions, subjected to incessant strip searches, and forced to endure many other manners of cruel and inhumane treatment from guards and staff…In a new federal lawsuit, they’re asking a federal judge to intervene on behalf of them and future female prisoners, particularly those who are pregnant…The jailhouse horror stories…provide an invaluable glimpse at the…systemic degradation…such institutions foster…female inmates face the standard abuses inflicted on male prisoners as well as those unique to their sex, from being forced to “free bleed” during their periods if they can’t afford to buy tampons to facing higher levels of sexual assault and coercion from guards and staff…pregnant prisoners [are] denied proper nutrition and prenatal care and, in some places, forced to give birth in shackles.  At Santa Rita…one inmate was…left alone in solitary confinement to give birth…”She was banging on her metal door…[the screws] closed the slider-window…so she could not see out, and no one could see in…Only after we could hear the crying of the baby did the deputies finally go over and open her door”…

Opting Out (#401)

This is no surprise to those of us who have actually studied the effects and history of censorship:

Sky UK has been called out for blocking a…website that its algorithms deem as “pornographic”…as part of the Digital Economy Act 2010…Sky UK have blocked gay-teen advice website gayteenresources.org…an important resource for teenagers exploring their sexuality and for those that may be struggling…blocked.org.uk, which lists sites that cannot be accessed, reveals that O2, EE and Three have also automatically filtered the site from their mobile networks…

“Filtered” is a euphemism for “censored”, and this will continue until the media acknowledge that.

The Spiral of Absurdity (#792) 

At least universities in Washington state aren’t generally used to spread “sex trafficking” propaganda, unlike those in Arizona and Texas:

The “Artifacts of Human Trafficking” exhibit is designed to [facilitate masturbation] to [the fantasy of] human trafficking in Texas…there are more than 300,000 victims of human trafficking in the state…From Feb. 12 to March 16, the School of Social Work will host the art exhibit, created by Austin artist Amie Stone King…illustrat[ing] themes of isolation, captivity and desperation…Prominent in the center of the exhibit is a “seclusion room.”  Attendees are invited to enter the small space and [masturbate in private while fantasizing about pubescent girls in]…a life of captivity…

The Public Eye (#797)

Though Rolling Stone is far too timid to write honestly about escorts, it’s good to see a sex work-positive article in it at all:

At…the 35th Annual Adult Entertainment Expo and Adult Video News Awards…plenty of big names were in attendance – stars who had led more traditional adult-film careers – but they were outnumbered by scores of up-and-coming models who primarily built their own businesses using cam shows, original clip stores and monetized social-media platforms.  The mass availability of easily pirated streaming video may have decimated the porn economy, but it seems that women are the ones adapting, finding fresh ways to connect directly with consumers.  As these models gain more economic influence, they are also raising the bar for consent conversations throughout the industry…

Tit For Tat

One day, our culture will grow up enough that this won’t be noteworthy:

Eva Sless…is a sex columnist, a sex educator and a sex worker  who…[is] married.  Sless’ husband, Justin…is completely supportive of her work, though they’re both aware it’s an unconventional life.  “I know we are a rare couple.  Our life and marriage is built on a foundation of strong friendship, trust, love, and respect…I don’t know if the life we live is for everyone, but it works for us. I love our world.”  Below, they tell us more about Sless’ work, how it affects their marriage and what Justin thinks of his wife’s clients…

Elephant in the Parlor (#806)  

This ought to be interesting:

Stormy Daniels, the porn star whom Donald Trump’s attorney acknowledges paying $130,000 just before Election Day, believes she is now free to discuss a…sexual encounter with the man who is now president…At the same time, developments…are fueling questions about whether such a payment could violate federal campaign finance laws.  Daniels…believes that Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, invalidated a non-disclosure agreement after two news stories were published [early last week]…one in which Cohen told The New York Times he made the six-figure payment with his personal funds, and another in the Daily Beast, which reported that Cohen was shopping a book proposal that would touch on Daniels’ story, said the manager, Gina Rodriguez.  “Everything is off now, and Stormy is going to tell her story,” Rodriguez said…

Watershed (#809)

When stuffy Time publishes an article who only major nod to prohibitionism is to quote dried-up dinosaur Gloria Steinem vomiting up her “body invasion” nonsense, you know things are changing:

Like millions of others, Melony Hill took to social media last fall to say “me too”…But rather than receiving an outpouring of support, Hill said she’s gotten messages saying that she deserved to be sexually assaulted — because she has worked in the sex industry for 20 years…“They’ll say we’re just whores anyway — ‘How can you sexually assault a whore?’ I’ve had that said to me multiple times”…Sex workers are particularly vulnerable to sexual violence on the job, but have few good options to report it…Some…sex…[workers] told Time that they have posted their #MeToo stories anonymously to avoid potential legal repercussions.  Others said that they don’t want to speak out publicly because they anticipate they’ll be shamed, or not believed because they aren’t “perfect victims”…there’s also the damaging notion that sex workers can’t be sexually assaulted…“Not all women are being supported in the #MeToo movement,” said Cris Sardina…of…Desiree Alliance…“It’s what type of woman”…

R.I.P. Laura Lee

A very nice tribute from The Herald:

She was, in the words of Scots author Kirstin Innes, “a powerhouse, a formidable, vital, hilarious and angry star”…Others described her as a “fierce warrior” for women.  She appeared regularly in the pages of this newspaper fighting the corner of the most marginalised women in society – sex workers.  She was Laura Lee – a brilliantly clever Irish woman who found an adoptive home in Scotland and made the choice to work in the sex industry.  Last week, she died aged just 39…

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Though Laura Lee is gone, her friends will not let her be forgotten; there were many awful people who hurt her for her work, from Catholic nuns to “feminist” crusaders to pompous politicians.  But there is one we have kept silent about for years; no more.  Brooke Magnanti obtained permission from Laura’s surviving family to write this; she published it on Medium, and asked me to mirror it here as a signal-boost.

I first met activist Laura Lee at a signing for my book The Sex Myth in 2012.  We became friends instantly, united by our belief that no activism is more powerful than being honest to people about sex work.  That showing our faces is the only way to speak truth to power.  Both of us experienced the ups and downs of going public with our pasts.  From Laura Lee’s grilling in Stormont, or how we were spoken about and treated by the press, it’s safe to say that being known as a sex worker invites vicious criticism, to the extent that we both received threats of death and violence.  We bitched and bonded over it behind the scenes, but got on with life, because some things were more important than cowering while cowards raged.  Laura was always keen to show as full a picture of sex work as possible.  She had worked at almost every level of the industry and knew the business inside out.  As she liked to say, she’d been everywhere from chicken sheds to five-star hotels.  Laura had a knack of telling her story in a way that was relatable, especially to other single mothers and concerned parents.  She had a gift.

Unfortunately that producer was not successful in developing a show featuring Laura, so the plans were put on the back burner.  But he did have other media connections, and it was his acquaintance with a music journalist in Dublin that convinced Laura to give an in-depth interview to well-known Irish writer Olaf Tyaransen.  You already know the kind of man Olaf is:  middle aged but refuses to wear ties, brags about going backstage with Bono, tweets “edgy” comments about drugs.  But he was the friend of a friend, so we figured he was probably alright.  The interview happened in October of 2014.  With so much interest in Laura’s activism, I hardly paid attention to what surely would be just one of the many positive and impactful interviews she gave that year.  When she messaged me shortly after, I was stunned by what she said.  After the interview, Laura told me, Olaf had invited himself back to her room for more chat.  And it was there he drugged her, beat her, and sexually assaulted her.  Now, for those who didn’t know Laura: she was not only formidable in activism, she was just as formidable in person.  A tall, strong woman whose physical presence served her well in domination — the part of sex work that comprised the majority of her appointments.  She was no meek submissive, and experienced enough to follow her instincts on who was potentially dangerous.  In a business that is never risk-free, she handled herself.  He still beat her black and blue.

Laura was not the kind to throw around false accusations.  I believed her as soon as she told me.  But she even shared pictures of a chat with another friend describing what he had done.  She didn’t report it, not right away.  Sex workers know that feminist solidarity rarely if ever applies to us.  Laura was a strong person but also realistic.  What power does a sex worker, even a well-known one, have against a journalist?  Who would be believed?  Sex workers are the “surplus women” who absorb men’s violence, in the view of the mainstream press.  When attacks happen we do not expect to be cared for or supported.  At worst we can expect to be disbelieved; at best, to be told that we deserve it.  Take for example the case of Morgan Marquis-Boire, a hacker from New Zealand.  The violent abuse he perpetrated was covered up not only because of who he was, but because of who his victims were, including sex workers.  It is exactly this kind of stigma that Laura spent years fighting.  The stigma that is heightened by the Swedish Model and other anti-sex worker propaganda.  The stigma that suggests it’s “feminist” for sex workers to operate in the shadows and be victimised.  The stigma that says women are only valuable if they are sweet and virginal and blameless.  The kind that makes it difficult for sex workers who are attacked to go to the police.

The Hotpress piece by Tyaransen ran in December 2014, and eventually what she told me about the interview left my mind.  Laura continued to follow Olaf on Twitter after the assault, which was no surprise if you knew her.  She followed a lot of accounts she disagreed with, from Irish anti-sex work campaigners Ruhama to Abolition Scotland to Human Trafficking News.  Keep your friends close and your enemies closer as the saying goes.  Life went on.  Or seemed to.  Then 2017 happened, and so did #MeToo.  The movement began with Hollywood and Weinstein but it didn’t end there.  Suddenly the floodgates were opening.  Powerful men in media who for decades had gotten away with harassment, abuse, and rape were being called out by their victims.  Some were even being held to account, losing projects and positions.  #MeToo gave Laura hope.  Hope that finally she would be able to go to the Gardaí and be believed.  Hope that she could tell her story and, if not put her abuser in jail, at least prevent any other woman from going through what she went through.  Now, there are all kinds of men who abuse.  In the case of people such as Harvey Weinstein, power covers their tracks.  But others are more insidious.  They lurk in the shadows, picking off the vulnerable, the liminal, the unlikely to be believed.  They attack people with complicated pasts such as sex workers.  And they present a blameless face to the world.  Consider, for example, this tweet from Tyransen in December 2017:

My tweet (now deleted) asked if there was a reason he in particular might be afraid of the ground shifting.  I wanted to let him know, if he was self-aware enough to realise it, that what he had done would not stay secret for much longer.  Rape is more than an edgy lifestyle choice for sad middle aged journos on a Hunter S Thompson trip.  It’s fair to say he either didn’t get the hint or was still confident a man’s insistence would win out over a sex worker’s evidence.  This was his response:

Twitter spats count for very little; what matters is holding abusers to account.  In November 2017, Laura, supported by Wendy Lyon, gave a statement of evidence to the police at Store Street Station in Dublin.  The weight of what had happened troubled her in the years since it happened.  In particular the thought that with no one speaking out, he might have been able to do the same thing to someone else.  With police and papers suddenly interested in exposing abusers, Laura felt that — regardless of the stress it would cause her, with so much else going on — it was time to speak up.  Wendy stayed with her on that day, while Laura gave her statement for over six hours.  Laura was a strong person, almost unimaginably so.  And this took every bit of strength she had.  We waited for something to happen.  And waited.  And waited.  Meanwhile, her attacker went about his life as if nothing happened, because for him, it probably was nothing.  We continued to keep tabs on him, noting how dismissive he was of the Presidents Club dinner wait staff who had been abused.  A subtweet meant for Laura?  Maybe.  A shudder-inducing insight into the mind of a predator?  Definitely. 

And then everything changed, again.  I wish I could say this is the part where the guards kick in a door, cuff the guy, and justice prevails but many readers will already know how this story ends.  It ends with Laura Lee’s sudden death.  It ends with Gardaí closing the case because the main witness is gone.  It ends with a man who preyed on someone he thought would never speak out just…getting away with it.  Now it is over three years since Olaf Tyaransen sexually assaulted Laura Lee in a hotel room, drugged her, beat her black and blue.  For far too long we watched and waited and hoped for something to be done only to be told, now, there will never be justice.  But I am alive.  And I don’t give a shit about legal threats and bluster and the egos of violent men.  Laura would have done the same for any sex worker.  In fact she did: staying on social media all night to make sure a friend who was raped on tour was OK.  Lambasting journalists for how they reported on the trial of Bala Chinda, who murdered sex worker Jessica McGraa.  She was not one to let violence against sex workers by cowardly men be brushed under the rug.  Laura Lee tried, in a world that little cared for our lives and safety, to be an advocate.  She tried to put her abuser behind bars.  She can’t carry that on anymore, and between the indifference of the #MeToo movement to the stories of sex workers and the failure of the police to move forward as soon as they had evidence, perhaps this will go nowhere.  Perhaps I am just pissing in the wind.  But I don’t think I am, and I don’t think Laura would believe I was either.  It matters for people to know her struggle and her pain.  It matters for people to know who the predators are, the ones who bide their time so they can attack women they perceive as vulnerable and sneer about it all later.  Olaf Tyaransen drugged and raped Laura Lee.  He beat her.  And he went on with his life as if nothing happened.  He did it because of who she was, counting on her never being able to tell her side of the story.  She tried to fight the stigma and use the system to her advantage, but now she is gone, and he wins.  Just the way they always did and always do.

Beware this man Olaf Tyaransen, abuser, vile slime in journalist’s clothing.  And never let him do this to anyone ever again.

Laura left behind a teenage daughter on her own; please consider donating to the ongoing fundraiser to help Cat, which runs until the first week of March.

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Diary #399

Some weeks are difficult, some are easy and pleasant, and some are just…weird.  Last week was one of the latter; though it ended very well, with a weekend full of visits from friends, the rest of it was pretty up and down.  I took Jae to see Mamma Mia a week ago Sunday, then on Wednesday one of my regular gentlemen took me on a lovely dinner date (and I was rather proud of myself for finding a place not jam-packed with Valentine couples).  And on Tuesday and Friday I had the opportunity to help friends by driving around on errands; that may not sound like fun to you, but actually I find doing things for people I love deeply rewarding, even when the actions themselves are the kind of things most people would consider to be an inconvenience.  You could say it’s a maternal thing, or you could say that my primary love-language is “acts of service”; another way to look at it is that the intensity of my feelings is such that I have trouble expressing them in words without crying, so doing things to help is quieter and less intimidating.  On the other hand, I was also engaged last week in paying overdue bills (HINT: I wouldn’t mind donations to help with that), figuring out my taxes and dealing with two minor but extremely annoying sinus issues (the most defective part of my anatomy after my neurology).  All in all, I think the good outweighed the bad, but here’s to a week in which it does so more clearly and distinctly.

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A federal war on porn would be just as winnable as the federal wars on drugs and alcohol—in other words, not winnable at all.  –  Peter Suderman

The Punitive Mindset 

Only in the US could a fucking screw expect sympathy for having to endure the aberrant behavior of human beings she helped keep locked up in cages:

I…don’t watch porn because I’ve seen more men masturbate than I can count.  One of my first jobs out of college was working as a [fucking screw] at a county jail in the South.  Even after getting an Ivy League degree at the University of Pennsylvania, I had to take the work I could find that was related to my field: criminology.  And only one facility called me back…it got so bad that I whenever I saw an inmate masturbating, I would look away or pretend not to see it so I didn’t have to do all the paperwork.  Besides, I soon realized that for…men [locked up in cages and deprived of all normal human contact]…the punishment they would get…was no deterrent…Four years ago, I left the jail to go to grad school.  But this stays with me: I was a female [screw]…who had to figure out how to do my job while inmates masturbated to my presence, my voice, even my scent…And there is nothing at all that will help me forget it…

Waah, waah, waah.  People who make their living off of human misery deserve everything they get.  I’m glad she’ll never forget it; maybe she’ll think twice before taking another job keeping human beings in conditions that wouldn’t even be humane for chickens.

Elephant in the Parlor 

I can’t even begin to guess how much taxpayer money ended up in my bank account:

A Utah lawmaker who voted for tougher penalties for prostitution has resigned amid allegations that he used taxpayer dough to pay for hotel rooms to hook up with an online escort…Brie Taylor [said]…Jon Stanard paid her $250 for sex twice at the Fairfield Inn in Salt Lake City…Stanard…was reimbursed for two hotel stays while he was attending legislative meetings at the state capital…

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic 

“Sex addiction” is still being used to excuse bad behavior:

Mesa police have arrested a 50-year-old man accused of exposing himself on at least three occasions, dating back to February of 2017.  Erik Gerard Becker…allegedly exposed himself and [masturbated]…at least three times…to a 12-year-old girl in one of the instances…Becker is the Chief Financial Officer for Catholic Charities in Arizona…[and] has a history of public sexual indecency and indecent exposure charges…all the way back to 2012…Becker told police he had a lifetime problem with sex addiction and advised he was still in therapy…

Standard Operating Procedure

One day, amateurs will realize that “visitors to a country do business with locals” is neither “misconduct” nor even news:

Oxfam, one of Britain’s largest charities, acknowledged…that staff members committed “sexual misconduct” in Haiti in 2011, after a news report revealed that senior officials there had hired prostitutes, including for sex parties.  Oxfam fired four people and allowed three others to resign after an investigation, which also found that drivers were sometimes ordered to pick up prostitutes and that orgies were held at houses near Port-au-Prince that were used by the organization’s staff…

The Notorious Badge (#513) 

50 shades of clusterfuck:

Fifty Shades Freed is about as arousing as staring at a mildewed patch of wallpaper.  This is the third film to be adapted from EL James’ trilogy of zillion-selling “mommy porn” S&M bonkbusters, and its protagonists are two attractive young lovers who can’t keep their hands off each other, so it should be a turn-on, if nothing else.  And yet Fifty Shades Freed is so unarousing that it could be used as therapy in a sex addiction clinic…

The Puritan Recrudescence

On the absurdity of currently-fashionable calls to ban porn:

Imagine…what it would take to successfully ban pornography in the United States…you would need to stop the production of porn by business enterprises…Next, you would need to find a way to stop a slew of high profile, incredibly lucrative websites from posting, hosting, or otherwise distributing explicit material.  After you cracked down on the pros, you would need to go after amateurs by finding some way to stop tens of millions of iPhone-wielding Americans from making home movies…and distributing them anonymously online…you would also need to enforce criminal penalties against former professionals who continued to produce porn for the black market.  And you’d need to penalize thrill-seeking amateurs as well, which would mean going after, and perhaps locking up, a wide array of sympathetic and otherwise law-abiding individuals from all walks of life whose only crime was to record and distribute consensual sexual activity.  You’d also need to punish illicit viewers, whose numbers could easily reach into the tens of millions…Many of the most popular domestic hubs for porn would probably move to protected locations overseas…

The End of the Beginning (#703)

Another step toward eliminating arbitrary state oppression of “sex offenders”:

California must consider earlier parole for potentially thousands of sex offenders, maybe even those convicted of pimping children…Judge Allen Sumner…ordered prison officials to rewrite part of the regulations for Proposition 57.  The 2016 ballot measure allows consideration of earlier parole for most state prison inmates, but Gov. Jerry Brown promised voters all sex offenders would be excluded.  That goes too far, Sumner said…”If the voters had intended to exclude all registered sex offenders from early parole consideration…they presumably would have said so”…He said the scope of exclusions should be narrowed to only those now serving time for a violent sex offense…those who already served their time for a sex crime…and now are imprisoned for a different crime should be eligible for early release…Janice Bellucci…argued the measure requires earlier parole consideration for any sex crime not on the state’s narrow list of 23 violent felonies, which includes murder, kidnapping and forcible rape…

Reminder: “pimping children” usually means something like “a teen sex worker talking to her slightly younger friend.”

Stalkers in Blue 

When cops want to make life miserable for someone, it’s easy to do so without even assaulting them:

Ashley Diamond…sued the Georgia Department of Corrections in 2015 after suffering repeated sexual assaults in prison…After [filing the suit, she]…was routinely targeted by police officers in Rome, the Georgia town to which she would be confined as a condition of her parole…[she was] subject[ed]…to frequent random stops—as many as four times in a single day…Rhys Harper…an activist and filmmaker…[was] interviewing Diamond during the time of the…harassment…Nearly every time the two met to record a segment for his documentary, Diamond would get pulled over.  He says he “lost count” of how many times it happened….she was stopped 19 times in a single year…At the same time…a local Ku Klux Klan chapter…launched a full-fledged campaign targeting Diamond…When [she] didn’t come home to a torrent of white one-sheets in her yard, she would find feces smeared on her door or a noose hung in the entryway…Diamond requested her parole be moved to Atlanta…But her parole officer…wouldn’t allow the transfer…[even though its a common practice]…

Lest you think of this as two separate things, remember that in some rural areas the membership rolls of the police department and KKK are virtually identical.

Pyrrhic Victory (#805)

Expect this to spread to the US within just a few years:

Police in China have started wearing sunglasses outfitted with facial recognition technology to spot suspected criminals.  The sunglasses, which were designed to spot people in large crowds, are connected to a handheld device that scans an internal database…seven suspects — wanted for crimes ranging from hit-and-runs to sex trafficking — have already been arrested using the new technology.  Police have also caught 26 people with fake IDs…all…at the train stain in Zhengzhou…

To Molest and Rape (#806) 

It’s good to see this not only getting attention, but being called what is is:

Vaguely written statutes in many states…permit [cops] to escape sexual assault charges by claiming that the victims consented…The New York State Assembly last week passed legislation to close that odious loophole — and the State Senate, which is considering the same bill, needs to swiftly follow suit.  States across the country that [are] letting [cops] get away with rape need to revisit their statutes as well…

Legal Is as Legal Does (#811)

It’s good to see that somebody gets it:

While prostitution is a legal grey area in Hong Kong and has long been a distinctive part of the city’s nightlife, the laws…[make] them more vulnerable to abuse, sexual violence and robbery…“Since the current law prohibits them from hiring a bodyguard or someone like a helper or cleaner, they must face any dangerous situations alone,” said Cherry Chui of Action for Reach Out (AFRO), the first non-profit organisation established locally in support of sex workers’ rights…The restrictions effectively leave sex workers forced to work alone in one-woman brothels more powerless and vulnerable, especially those who are migrants and do not possess a Hong Kong identity card…

Checklist (#812) 

I’m not sure what, if anything, to make of this:

…the Junior League of Salt Lake City…is working hard to [harass sex workers and migrants using the excuse of]…human trafficking…They approached the airport about buying ad space to show travelers how to [spy on others looking for bogus] signs that someone may be being trafficked like refusing to make eye contact [or] looking disheveled…the airport told them…advertising space is reserved exclusively for people looking to sell a product.  They don’t allow [propaganda] campaigns…[because] airport…policy is to avoid controversy and err on the side of not offending anybody…the airport has decided it will run its own [propaganda] campaign…

Whither Canada? (#813)

Good news for the defendants, but the actual challenge to the law is just starting:

Human trafficking charges were dropped [last] Wednesday against the owners of a London [Ontario] escort agency whose case is testing the constitutionality of Canada’s prostitution laws.  Hamad Anwar and Tiffany Harvey were charged in November 2015 with more than two dozen charges each after their business, Fantasy World Escorts, was shut down by…police…[state] lawyers agreed to withdraw most of those charges, leaving only the ones that deal with procuring, advertising and materially benefiting from someone else’s sexual services…Those three offences are relatively new, brought in under Canada’s 2014 prostitution law, Bill C-36, which criminalize the buying of sex…Led by Toronto lawyer James Lockyer, the defence has put forward a motion to argue the constitutionality of those charges, saying it violates sex workers’ right to the security of person…

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Last week, a long-time client of Laura’s asked if I’d publish this tribute to her today, the day of her funeral.  And how could I not?  This text was approved by her daughter Cat prior to publication.

Today is the funeral of Laura Lee, “Ant” (Antoinette) to her friends, but I can’t be there celebrating her full but short life and grieving at her unexpected death.  Yes, I am one of those, a client, who has another life which made it impossible for me to attend.  I have no one to share my grief with, other than other sex workers, clients, allies and academics who knew Laura; they have been an immense help.  It has been a hard few days for me and I am sure I am not alone.  I have known Laura for twelve years, and online even longer than that.  She was a moderator on the forum call Punternet…yes, that so-called “patriarchal” review site so beloved by the antis had real life sex workers as moderators.  The first time I met Laura was in Edinburgh, and after our appointment she asked me back to accompany her on a midnight Edinburgh ghost walk tour.  I did, and that was the start of a long relationship.  Little did I know she was fascinated in ghosts, and only days before she left us she was staying in a haunted coach house.

During the next few years I would meet Laura wherever our paths crossed, often in Edinburgh or London, and once a coincidental meeting in Carlisle where we both happened to be working at the same time.  One year I took the plunge and invited her to come to Glastonbury music festival with me; I already had a ticket, but her ticket was a late booking on the Glastonbury ticket resale, and the only tickets available included coach transfer.  So, I drove there on Wednesday and set up camp; she arrived by coach the next day.  I met her on Thursday afternoon and we spent the rest of the day looking around and eventually making our way back to the small tent, soaking wet from the rain which had started.  We didn’t mind; we were together for the weekend.  There were no showers, and the loos at Glastonbury are diabolical stinking holes in a tank; wet wipes and cider become the currency of the festival.  The privacy in a small tent sited within a foot of other tents is virtually non-existent; three middle aged men nearby were discussing the moans of ecstasy they had heard during the night.  We would lie together listening to the requests for Ketamine and the inflation of balloons throughout the night.

She loved the Green Fields area and the Healing Fields, the Hippy area Laura called it, where there are various massages available, Yoga and Tarot card readings.  Having a wicked sense of humour, she went up to one young police officer and asked him about the laws on opening a massage tent and would it be alright if she supplied extra services.  The poor man flushed and stammered with embarrassment, eventually saying he would have to ask a superior.  Laura was supportive of all harm reduction initiatives and spent time talking with the helpers at a drug help tent.  Here they would advise people on safe drug use and they would spend the night and early hours touring the stone circle area handing out water and helping anyone in distress.  She was impressed by the care they gave.  The Green Fields area and especially the Peace Garden were a quiet safe space where one could sit and contemplate; it’s where we lay in the sun and I told her I loved her.  I felt so embarrassed after saying this, but no she said it was sweet and a lovely thing to have said.

Laura’s determination to come with me to Glastonbury was revealed next year, after she broke her ankle and damaged her knee in a fall in the bath tub a few weeks before the festival.  Her whole leg was placed in plaster all the way up to her crotch.  I was sure she would not come, but she did; luckily, we had upgraded to glamping and were sleeping in a bed, with showers and flush loos.  I was over the moon when she told me she hadn’t even contemplated not coming.  The only downside of the location of our yurt was the hill up to the campsite; pushing Laura up the wet grass in the wheel chair was punishing and very challenging work at the end of a long night.  But it was an amazing festival, and people were always ready whenever we needed help in the mud, or faced a steep hill.  We had hospitality tickets that year, so we celebrity spotted in the area between the Pyramid and Other stage; Laura was in her element being photographed with Paolo Nutini.

We managed five Glastonburys, two T in the parks, TRNSMT in Glasgow and even did the small Pilton party together last year.  From there Laura has a selfie of herself with Michael Eavis.  The great highlights of Glastonbury for her were Dolly Parton and Adele; she also valued her meeting with the Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell (a vocal supporter of sex workers rights who knew of Laura) at the Left Field stage.  Taking an out-sex worker with a public profile and those unmistakable long black curls to such a public event has its risks; she had appeared on many chat shows and on TV shows such as Sex on Wheels which featured disabled people’s sexual needs and had been aired several times.  Generally, the reaction to her was positive, with women coming up to be photographed with her.  One time after Glastonbury at Bristol airport she was hugged and thanked for all she was doing.  During that last festival she was spotted by another sex worker and ended up giving advice and help.  Of course there were downsides too, such as the Irish doctor at our glamping site who recognised Laura and started making loud audible snide comments.  Last year we spotted a woman who just kept glaring angrily at Laura without saying anything.  Thankfully the glamping area had grown large, so we didn’t have to see either of them again.  Laura would outwardly laugh these slights off, but I knew it hurt her and put a damper on the late evenings sitting around the brazier in Love Fields.

The Greenfields area of Glastonbury had a debating and lecture area, and this is where she met Ruby Wax giving a talk on mental health, which was a personal issue for Laura, though when I was with her I very rarely saw it.  She was so pleased to have the opportunity to speak with Ruby and get her autograph.  She worked hard promoting sex worker rights, even while we were enjoying ourselves at festivals; there were always emails or phone calls for help or for an interview, and she tried to fit these in when she could.  She took every opportunity to promote sex worker rights, to the extent of questioning those working on the Glasgow Sexual Health stand at the TRNSMT festival about their attitudes toward sex workers.

Outside of her work Laura tried to fit in speaking engagements, TV debates and protest marches where ever she could, along with actively working with different campaign groups and building relationships with the Belfast Reclaim the Night, feminist organisations and Repeal the 8th.  This often cost her money for hotels and travel, and importantly her time when she could have been working.  Campaigning is not cheap, with the costs increasing, and her earnings reduced, her stress levels increased with bills needing payment.  This spiral was having on effect on her health and made me very aware that allies must step up and help by donating money unconditionally to activists.  Not just money for a specific court case or cause, but money for the travel, accommodation and the loss of income from not being able to work on those days.

I loved Laura and I believe she had affections for me, often sharing with me aspects of her life, and sometimes having petty arguments like married couples.  I loved her forthrightness and the way she picked me up on my occasional tactlessness.  I greatly miss her; her death has left a hole in my heart and life.  I bitterly regret not attending the Beyond the Gaze event in Manchester where Laura received a standing ovation for her speech.

May Laura continue to haunt the lives of those who fight against total decriminalisation of sex work.

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Day Tripper

As I grow older, I’ve become increasingly fond of longer appointments.  I have also noticed that I am receiving a much larger number of requests for appointments from gentlemen who know me from this blog and from Twitter rather than from my traditional escort advertisements, and a lot of those guys want to spend a lot more time talking and socializing with me than in hanky panky.  So for a little while now, I’ve been giving some thought to how to best accommodate those gentlemen who might want a sort of mixed session, in other words one that is primarily a social date but also has a little bit of sexy time mixed in.  Well, just the other day, when I was in the shower (which, like many people, is the time I do some of my best thinking), I came up with an idea for a new kind of session I call the Day Tripper.  A traditional overnight session assumes exactly what it says, that we will sleep together.  But what if a gentleman isn’t necessarily interested in that?  What if he wants something more like a traditional date, where he takes me to some kind of event, whether that be a movie or a show or the zoo or a Museum or a picnic in the park, complete with food, and ending in the sort of thing that most men like to do with an attractive woman, then kissing good night and going home?  Since we will be in public most of that time, it hardly seems proper to charge full rate rather than social rate, but at the same time, if it includes private activities at the end, obviously I should be compensated for that.  And given that I get to sleep alone in my own bed, it doesn’t seem like an overnight rate is the appropriate one even if the number of hours is similar to an overnight.  With all that in mind, I have priced the Day Tripper about midway between a dinner date and an overnight; you can look at my rates page to get the ballpark on that, and if you are genuinely interested (serious inquiries only, please!) you can write me for the exact figure.  Here’s the fine print: we can start as early as noon and finish as late as midnight, with 7-10 hours duration in between; if the event you want to take me to is of especial interest to me, I might be convinced to stretch the start or ending times a little bit in either direction.  Most of that time needs to be spent in public; an actual party at your house would count, but just the two of us hanging out there would not.  Obviously you’re going to need to feed me at some point in there, and we can end up spending our private time (an hour or so, not strictly timed) at either my place or yours, whatever works best.

To launch this new kind of session, I’ve decided to offer a special on it: for the month of March, I’m willing to travel anywhere in the United States to do one.  That doesn’t mean you need to wait until March to arrange it; I will start accepting appointments on it immediately, as long as the session itself is in March or later.  However, you need to book by March 31st at the absolute latest.  If you live in Seattle or within three hours of travel from here, I’ll knock $200 off the price instead.  Been waiting for a good time to meet me?  Here’s your chance!

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