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Archive for March, 2018

They’re good clients, they give good money, better than anybody else.  –  Gabby, Ghanaian sex worker

Subtle Pimping

So many “artists” feel no compunction against exploiting sex workers:

Michael Jacobs, the director of a new virtual reality movie that premiered at SXSW, says that his film aims to give sex workers a voice.  But according to its main and only character, real-life sex worker and indie porn director named Liara Roux, the movie, which currently doesn’t credit her at all, includes nudity and intimate scenes that she didn’t agree to have included in the final film.  GFE…follows an “anonymous escort” as she goes on a date with a client.  Jacobs…[says] it’s a fictional “documentary fantasy” with the goal of “demystifying escort work and bringing a sense of empowerment to escorts…and men.”  Roux, however, says that she never signed a release for the film, and that she felt that it was an exploitative experience.  A spokesperson for SXSW [said]…Jacobs voluntarily pulled the film on [March 15th]…

Beware of people who say they want to “empower you” or “give you a voice”; such pomposity means they think you’re beneath them & have no voice of your own.  It sounds like something a Victorian might say about people in India.

Checklist (#542)

The places “authorities” demand their magical anti-pimp posters be displayed demonstrate their origin in puritanism:

As part of a sharpened campaign to combat human trafficking, North Carolina [pigs & prohibitionists]…have urged people to [spy on each other and rat others out to the pigs]…A law adopted in 2017…requires the signs to be placed in liquor stores.  Other states such as California, Texas and Oregon have taken similar actions targeting liquor stores because [dirty sex] people…might be more likely to be in a liquor store than somewhere like a post office or some other public space [where good people go]…

The Course of a Disease (#583) 

Cop says he’s “hamstrung” because he can’t arrest people who aren’t doing anything illegal:

[Vermont politician] Peter Fagan…introduced a bill…that would have expanded the definition of prostitution, closing a loophole that [pigs oink] has stymied efforts to [harass consenting adults] in the state.  However, Fagan said…that bill missed the…deadline…Matthew Prouty of the Rutland City Police said that Vermont’s prostitution law is [specific] …which has hamstrung [attempts to persecute owners and patrons of] massage parlors.  “My probable cause can’t be a purchaser who says they had a ‘happy ending’ because that isn’t illegal,” he said [following by grunting a lot of bizarre nonsense like] “Any time you have a drug market, you have a sex market…There are very, very few people that are making a living and not being coerced…That is [my perverted masturbatory fantasy] of it”…

Broken Record (#631)

Farm machinery still causes “sex trafficking”!  And strip clubs!  And sex stores!

Arriving…for her stint as a guest speaker for a human trafficking symposium, Summer Dickerson easily spotted a strip club and sex store in Oak Grove.  “You know y’all have a problem here,” [said] Dickerson, a [delusional prohibitionist]…Attorney General Andy Beshear kicked off the symposium, speaking about the state’s efforts to combat human trafficking…[by running a prostitution] sting during this year’s National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville…

To Molest and Rape 

Rapist cops don’t only target women:

A Chicago [cop] was…charged with aggravated criminal sexual assault and official misconduct.  The…victim was a man suspected in a misdemeanor whom Carlyle Calhoun and another [cop] were assigned to guard at St. Bernard Hospital on Feb. 3…as the victim was shackled to a bed, the [molester cop] sucked the man’s toes, grabbed his penis and took a photo of the victim as he tried to use a portable urinal.  Once the two were in a bathroom, Calhoun…”performed oral sex on the victim…The victim repeatedly asked the defendant to stop and tried to convince him that his misbehavior would be discovered”…

The Sky is Falling! (#772)

Just in case you thought blaming whores for epidemics went out sometime before the invention of indoor toilets:

…36 percent of the adults in Vulindlela [South Africa] are [HIV] positive, as are about 60 percent of the women aged 25 to 40.  Although HIV infection rates have stabilized globally, hundreds of thousands of South Africans are infected every year; more than 7 million live with the virus in their bodies…the HIV prevalence among adolescent girls is roughly five times greater than that of boys…researchers have concluded that the high rate of infections here—among both sexes—is driven in part by [sugar] relationships…

Because obviously, what the writer smugly calls “egalitarian” sex magically protects people from infection.

The Spiral of Absurdity (#792) 

This hodgepodge of racist, sexist, anti-sex nonsense seems to be trying to fit in every single “sex trafficking” trope:

The Katy [Texas, population 14,000] area is contributing to what Gov. Greg Abbott calls a statewide health crisis of human trafficking…A December 2016 University of Texas at Austin report says 313,000 people were trafficked in Texas in 2016, 79,000 of whom were children [without anyone noticing].  Kelly Litvak, [another mathematically-illiterate prohibitionist]…said there is evidence of brothels and trafficking along the I-10 corridor…12-14 years of age…social media…lure them…recovery of victims…human trafficking’s grip…children can be recruited into sex work…the horror…[fetishist] Vanessa Forbes…said she knows of at least 11 brothels…staffed by women of Asian descent who are forced into prostitution…They are often in strip malls and disguised as…nail spas…Women trafficked for sex…are…delivered [in plain cardboard boxes] to people responding to online ads…A narcotic can be sold once and…a prostitute can be sold multiple times per day…76 percent of money for sex transactions processed online…mentally conditioned through abuse and coercion to defend their pimps in court…

This was ostensibly written by an adult man with a university degree.

Not So Easy

A rare victory for sex workers:

In a striking victory for [sex workers]…a divided New Orleans City Council shot down a proposal…to cap the number of Bourbon Street strip clubs…The council voted 4-3 against the limit after hearing from numerous dancers who called…police raids…a threat to their livelihoods and their freedom of expression…[proposal sponsor] Stacy Head…[lied] that the limit was no more than a routine move to rein in some of the excesses associated with crowded, high-traffic businesses, rather than an attack on adult entertainment…the…vote means strip clubs will be allowed to operate unencumbered once a temporary ban on new ones lifts in May…

Note that all three politicians who voted to infantilize women & destroy their livelihood were themselves women.

The Widening Gyre (#811) 

It’s hilarious watching the cops trying to regain control of a runaway moral panic:

Several Facebook posts have gone viral in [Colorado] detailing scary situations where human traffickers tried to lure new victims at popular shopping centers…“As far as we know, no.  It’s not real.  It seems like a hoax,” Thornton police Sgt. Ernie Lucero said. “Just sharing it just because [some “authority” says it’s real] doesn’t necessarily mean it’s always fact”…The posts are convincing to [ignorant] social media users.  They have been shared thousands of times, causing [stupid] people to worry about public safety…

That Old Black Magic (#813) 

Remember this next time prohibitionists try to blame migration on African religions:

On March 9, Oba Ewuare II, the traditional ruler of the kingdom of Benin, in southern Nigeria, put a voodoo curse on anyone who abets illegal migration within his domain.  At the same time, he revoked the curses that leave victims of trafficking afraid that their relatives will die if they go to the police or fail to pay off their debt.  Before being smuggled into Europe, women and girls in the area, which falls in present-day Edo State, [agree] to sign a contract with the [smugglers] who finance their journey…The agreement is sealed with a…juju, ritual…The oba has authority over all the spiritual priests in the Benin kingdom (not to be confused with the West African country of Benin)…What the oba has done is likely to be more effective than anything the international anti-trafficking community has managed to do after millions of dollars and many years…over 90 percent of the thousands of women [who migrate] from Nigeria to Europe to work as prostitutes are coming from Edo…in the early 1980s women there started traveling to Italy to trade in gold and beads, and “saw a thriving market in prostitution”…[they told other women, and those women’s choices to risk migration for a chance at success are now being branded] human trafficking…

Standard Operating Procedure (#817)

Bullshit-free headline: “How UN Staff are Helping Local Economies”:

Despite the UN’s “zero tolerance policy”, sexual exploitation continues in South Sudan…Last month, the U.N. recalled a 46-member Ghanaian peacekeeping police unit…following allegations of members of the unit [paying for services] with locals.  The action of the U.N. in this case will provide “interesting insight into whether or not the [U.N.] secretary-general is serious about sexual abuse,” [bloviated prohibitionist] Peter Gallo…Gabby [a sex worker in Juba] works three or four nights a week and can make up to $200 a night from one international aid worker or U.N. staff client, she said — an evening that often includes dinner, drinks, and a fully paid hotel room.  This is in stark contrast to her South Sudanese clients, many of whom don’t pay at all and sometimes turn violent…

Elephant in the Parlor (#822)

Though most people are focusing on the sex, the real story here is that she was threatened with violence:

Stormy Daniels…revealed the details of an alleged affair with President Donald Trump, telling Anderson Cooper on 60 Minutes that she felt threatened into remaining silent…Daniels said she feared for her and her family’s safety, and opted to sign a nondisclosure agreement instead of going public and cashing in for more money…“I didn’t even negotiate, I just quickly said yes to this…strict contract…and what most people will agree with me extremely low number”…in July 2006 at a celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe…Trump said during their initial encounter in his hotel room that she reminded him of his daughter Ivanka…she instructed Trump to pull down his pants so that she could spank him with a magazine, which featured his face on the cover.  “So he turned around and pulled his pants down a little—you know had underwear on…I just gave him a couple swats,” Daniels said…Later…she and Trump had unprotected sex.  She said that even though she did not want to have sex with him…it was entirely consensual…[because] Trump…kept dangling the possibility of signing her as a contestant on The Apprentice…[and] she viewed it as a potential “business deal”…Four years later, Daniels says she was physically threatened after [Trump’s lawyer] Cohen found out that she had tried to tell her story to a celebrity gossip magazine…she was in a parking lot with her infant daughter when a man approached her and said, “That’s a beautiful little girl.  It’d be a shame if something happened to her mom…Leave Trump alone.  Forget the story”…

Too Close To Home (#824)

Sydney Brownstone has more on Seattle’s evil scheme to sell human lives to a sociopathic billionaire:

…lawyers representing men caught in a sex work review website sting showed up in King County Superior Court with an unusual and bold request: to disqualify the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office from prosecuting their cases…thousands of documents show…the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office collaborated with the Massachusetts-based Demand Abolition, including…strategies for dealing with reporters and sex worker advocates…in 2018–after the World Health Organization and Amnesty International have endorsed research and policies showing that decriminalizing sex work, including buying sex, actually keeps sex workers safer—King County’s involvement with Demand Abolition raises questions about why prosecutors are still increasingly criminalizing…sex work…

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Back Issue: March 2015

Human beings are complicated creatures; not only is it possible for us to feel multiple conflicting emotions at the same time, but we do it with astonishing frequency. – “Fadeaway

The incredible shrinking list continues to shrink!  Since there’s no need to list news, link, diary or “back issue” columns, after the holidays (Sex Worker Rights DayFriday the 13th, and the Vernal Equinox); guest columnist (“Mara“); fictional interlude (“Tick Tock“); harlotography (“Takao“); Q&A columns (“Upside Down“, “Who Pays?“,  “Contract“, and “Fadeaway“); and Cliterati reprints (“Doubling Down” and “Guinea Pigs“), the only essay left to note is “An Ending and a Beginning“, the notice of my impending divorce and my move to Seattle.

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Recently two providers in one city discovered that they had me in common; I never intended to visit both.  I contacted one following her instructions and waited a week, but when she failed to respond I contacted the other.  After another week, both got back to me on the same day, so I saw both.  But they’re friends, and since they discovered I saw both of them, they’re both treating me kind of indifferently now.  Is this some kind of jealousy or possessiveness thing?

It would be highly unusual and unprofessional for an escort to get jealous over a client, unless his seeing other women would put her in dire financial straits (for example, if the economy is very bad in her city and she depends on him for a large part of her income).  But even in that case, it wouldn’t really be “jealousy” in the sense you’re thinking, but rather concern for economic survival.  Under ordinary conditions, escorts are not only non-jealous, we actually give each other references for clients or provide introductions; it’s not at all unusual for one of my gentlemen to ask me for an introduction to one of my friends, and I’m always pleased to see one of their names in the references a new gent provides me.  Aside from the pleasure of helping out people we like or love, and the necessity of sex workers being respectful of each others’ safety and survival, such cross-pollination sometimes leads to duos, which many of us enjoy a great deal.  All that having been said, I notice that one of these chicks took a week to get back to you and the other two weeks; unless they had some kind of vacation notices on their websites, that strikes me as both unprofessional and just plain bad business.  Plus, if they’re friends I can’t see why they’d object to both seeing you; that happens in my circle of friends quite frequently.  So it may be that you had the bad luck to run into two not-very-professional escorts who just aren’t very interested in making money, or else their indifference to you is caused by some other factor in your own behavior that you haven’t mentioned.

(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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Removing all references to sex trafficking will hurt our ability to grab reporters’ attention.  –  Sydney Asbury of “Demand Abolition”

The Cold, Grey Light of Dawn 

It’s been a long time since I’ve used this heading, but an even longer time since we’ve seen anything like this:

…lifelong civil rights attorney Larry Krasner was elected in a landslide…to become the new district attorney of Philadelphia…and…He’s doing something I’ve never quite seen before in present-day politics…keeping his word…In his first week on the job, he fired 31 prosecutors…because they weren’t committed to the changes he intended to make…Next, Krasner…release[d] a list of 29 [bad cops]…that…had lied…filed false reports, used excessive force, driven drunk, and burgled…but nothing is as essential and revolutionary as the internal five-page guiding document of new policies that Krasner sent to his staff…The first sentence says it all:  “These policies are an effort to end mass incarcerations and bring balance back to sentencing”…Krasner immediately instructs prosecutors to stop prosecuting marijuana possession regardless of the weight…[and] to stop charging …with any paraphernalia crimes…to stop charging sex workers that have fewer than three convictions with any crime and drop all current cases against sex workers who also fit that description.  All sex workers with three or more convictions are to be referred to Dawn Court…a…diversion…program created in 2010…Krasner instructed prosecutors to stop the wide-ranging practice of beginning plea deals with the highest possible sentencing and instead, begin those plea deals at the bottom end of the available range…Krasner instructed his prosecutors to now add up and justify the exact costs of every single person sentenced to a crime in Philadelphia…Stating that it costs between $42,000 and $60,000 per year to incarcerate a person, he reminded the prosecutors that the…annual cost of incarceration…is…more per year than the beginning salary of teachers, police officers, firefighters, social workers, addiction counselors, and even prosecutors in his office…

Pyrrhic Victory

When it comes to mass surveillance, fascism beats communism hands down:

In at least four investigations last year…Raleigh [North Carolina] police used search warrants to demand Google accounts not of specific suspects, but from any mobile devices that veered too close to the scene of a crime…These warrants often prevent the technology giant for months from disclosing information about the searches not just to potential suspects, but to any users swept up in the search…[“authorities” pretend] the practice is a natural evolution of criminal investigative techniques.  They [lie] that, by seeking search warrants, they’re carefully balancing civil rights with public safety [because most of the public is too stupid to know about the horrible “third-party doctrine”].  Defense attorneys and privacy advocates…are…[concerned about] how law enforcement turns to Google’s massive cache of user data, especially without a clear target in mind.  And they’re concerned about the potential to snag innocent users, many of whom might not know just how closely the company tracks their every move…

Under Duress 

The New York Times finally discovers what marginalized people have always known:

An investigation by The New York Times has found that on more than 25 occasions since January 2015, judges or prosecutors determined that a key aspect of a New York City [cop’s] testimony was…untrue…[they lie] about the whereabouts of guns…They…barge…into apartments and conduct…searches, only to testify otherwise later… they…give…firsthand accounts of crimes or arrests that they did not in fact witness…No detail, seemingly, is too minor to embellish…In many instances, the motive for lying was…to skirt constitutional restrictions against unreasonable searches and stops.  In other cases, the falsehoods appear aimed at convicting people…with trumped-up evidence…

Bogeymen

Read this ludicrous exercise in pearl-clutching, then the item under the same heading two items down:

…illicit prostitution businesses are thriving in a surprising place: the legitimate corporate world.  And, we’ve found that the inequities of that world…contribute to that sex trade…we interviewed 44 pimps…in Chicago…fewer than half…fit the pop culture stereotype of a pimp.  The other half did not: a full third had four-year college degrees, primarily in business administration…and most…were white.  In addition to their pimping work, nearly half worked in legitimate companies, not in massage parlors or erotica businesses…these illegal businesses grew directly from the misogynistic culture of the legitimate ones that housed them.  Some became pimps after learning of demand for paid sex through informal bantering about sexual conquests over lunch or beers with the bros.  Half of the pimps started out as customers of sex workers, and several arranged “entertainment” for business clients as part of their job…

Huffington Post needs to exercise more diligence on its contributors; these two fantasists [44 interviews of self-proclaimed “pimps” in one city is not anything like a representative sample] have been recycling this same bogeyman tale on the strength of their supposed academic credentials for years.

Trafficking, Trafficking Everywhere! (#314)

The only sex workers exploited in New Zealand are those who were intentionally excluded from decriminalization in order to appease prohibitionists:

Migrant prostitutes working illegally on temporary visas are “terrified” they will be deported if they report exploitative pimps and abusive clients…In the past year, 136 migrants suspected of coming here to carry out sex work were denied entry into New Zealand…Sex work is the only occupation migrants on temporary visas are not legally allowed to take up…However, migrants who have entered the country on temporary work, visitor, holiday or international student visas and work as prostitutes are being forced to carry out sexual acts without protection and often work 12-hour shifts, seven days a week…They would not speak to police because they would be deported…

Bogeymen (#317)

I’m glad to see Bruckert has expanded her study into a book:

“The sex industry, like mainstream businesses, rarely depends exclusively on clients and workers to operate efficiently and safely,” professor Chris Bruckert [said]…”Contrary to prevailing stereotypes that portray third parties [like pimps] as inherently abusive and controlling, these workers fulfill important roles and provide vital services.”  Bruckert and her team of researchers conducted interviews with 75 pimps — or “third-party” workers, as she prefers to call them — as well as 52 sex workers for her new book Getting Past ‘the Pimp’: Management in the Sex Industry…Bruckert said little research has been conducted on the role of pimps in the industry, adding that many people’s opinions are based on stereotypes…Most of the third-party workers Bruckert’s team spoke to were women — both surprising and understandable, she said, since the industry is female-dominated and the line between sex work and management is thin…

Torture Chamber

The PREA is just feel-good nonsense as long as screws have absolute power over their victims:

…the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA)…frequently fails to either address or eliminate sexual abuse.  In jails and prisons across the country, incarcerated people are subject to sexual harassment, abuse and assault, frequently at the hands of staff.  If they report these assaults, they risk retaliation, including greater violence…”Prisons are the worst distillation of toxic masculinity,” said Alan Mills [of the Uptown People’s Law Center (UPLC)]…”It’s all about inflicting punishment on people.  It’s about the use of force in order to force compliance to an arbitrary set of rules.  It’s about dehumanizing people.  It’s not surprising that this translates to harassment and abuse”…

Business As Usual

It’s the same everywhere our work is even partially criminalized:

Sex workers in South Africa will be arrested at least four times and will spend an average of 40 hours in custody if they are charged…one third of sex worker arrests never make it to a police station or courthouse‚ instead often ending in sex workers being abused by police or forced to pay bribes.  These were just some of the findings of The Policing of Sex Work In South Africa survey compiled by NGO’s Sonke Gender Justice and the Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT)…Advocacy officer at Sonke Donna Evans said that the most shocking thing to emerge from the report was the extreme levels of violence at the hands of police that were reported by sex workers.  “They were extremely disturbing and included incidents of torture‚ assault‚ rape and even permanent disability‚” Evans said…

Original Sin (#762) 

I guess this makes sense coming from a man who imagines condoms to be weapons of mass destruction:

Pope Francis asked forgiveness…for all Christians who buy sex from women, saying men who frequent prostitutes are criminals with a “sick mentality” who think that women exist to be exploited.  “This isn’t making love.  This is torturing a woman.  Let’s not confuse the terms,” Francis insisted…

The Puritan Recrudescence (#795)

At least Wyoming had the sense to vote this nonsense down:

A Wyoming bill that would have recognized porn as a “public health crisis” failed in the 2018 session of the state Legislature…HJ1 was typical of various “public health crisis” bills that have made their way across the nation.  Wyoming’s bill, introduced by…Lars O. Lone, would have made official language stating porn increases the demand for sex trafficking, impacts brain development and functioning, diminishes the interest of young men in getting married and creates infidelity, among other [evidence-free] statements.  Another porn bill…sponsored by Lone, failed to win support, as well.  HB 127 would have ordered the installation of porn blocking software on all computers sold in the state to prevent the viewing of “obscene” material as defined by the state Attorney General’s office…

The Pygmalion Fallacy (#811) 

SAVE THE TOASTERS!!!!

French activists are campaigning to shut down a new “sex doll brothel” on the grounds that it degrades women—and silicone.  Or something…Xdolls is registered as a gaming center, which makes sense if you consider doll-sex a form of escapist make-believe or wish-fullfilment akin to playing Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto.  But Paris Council communists and other activists argue that Xdolls amounts to a brothel, which are illegal in France.  Nicolas Bonnet Oulaldj, head of the Paris council’s communist group…compared the business to “prostitution” and the owner to “a pimp.”  Sounds like someone just started watching Westworld.  The rhetoric only gets more extreme from there.  Lorraine Questiaux, spokesperson for the anti-sex work organization Mouvement du Nid…[said] “It’s a place…where you rape a woman”…You can’t rape a non-sentient silicone doll any more than you can rape a vibrator or a Fleshlight…but apparently not even lifeless dolls are immune to…rescue attempts…

I’m so glad Tracy Clark-Flory is writing again; I’ve missed her good sense.

Disaster

The fallout will continue until there’s some legal action against this horrific law:

…SESTA’s passage by the U.S. Senate has had an immediate chilling effect on those working in the adult industry…stories of a fallout are being heard, with adult performers finding their content being flagged and blocked…escort site [Cityvibe]…suddenly becoming “not available,” Craigslist shutting down its “personals” sections and Reddit closing down some of its communities, among other tales.  SESTA…targets scores of adult sites that consensual sex workers use to advertise their work.  And now, before SESTA reaches President Trump’s desk for his guaranteed signature, those sites are scrambling to prevent themselves from being charged under sex trafficking laws.  “It’s not surprising that we’re seeing an immediate chilling effect on protected speech,” industry attorney Lawrence Walters [said]…”This was predicted as the likely impact of the bill, as online intermediaries over-censor content in the attempt to mitigate their own risks.  The damage to the First Amendment appears palpable”…

Too Close To Home (#823)

It’s great to see a spotlight on this ugly scheme to sell human lives to a sociopathic billionaire:

There is no mention in [propaganda about Seattle’s high-profile sex work stings] of the fact that [prosecutor Val] Richey’s work was handsomely supported by Demand Abolition, a nonprofit group whose stated mission is to end demand for sex work by going after buyers, or that the cost of some of his travels around the country has been defrayed by the same group.  Nor is there any mention of the fact that Demand Abolition, in exchange for providing approximately $191,667 in funding to the King County prosecutor’s office over four years, asked Seattle-area law enforcement to carry out regular arrests and prosecutions of buyers…As part of signed agreements for the funding, Richey and other law enforcement officials in King County were required to frame the activities of sex buyers and men involved with The Review Board as sex trafficking…even though there was no evidence of trafficking…and…none of the men arrested…were charged with trafficking — only with promoting prostitution…

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Diary #404

My friend Winnie figured out why I was so hormonal week before last:  in addition to the shift to let’s-all-lie-about-the time, it was exceptionally sunny in Seattle all week and my nervous system just couldn’t quite handle it.  But last week was more stable; not only was it chillier and gloomier (and thus more soothing to my overheated neurons), I was also very busy with work.  And really good work, too; three duos in 8 days (two of them with Lorelei), three regular clients and other work, much of it multi-hour.  So despite the disastrous news about FOSTA, at least I’m getting ahead of my budget and maybe I’ll even be able to pay my income tax on time this year (which hasn’t happened in over a decade).  That was an unusually merciful move on the part of the scheduling gods; had I had a slow, stressful week the FOSTA news would’ve been far more difficult for me to cope with.  Well, I’m going out to Sunset this Saturday and bringing the pullets with me; they’re big enough to go into the henhouse now, and I could use a couple of days in the country.  Here’s hoping the next few months keep going smoothly in my personal life, because something tells me I’m going to have to deal with plenty of fallout from the prohibitionists’ latest attempt to exterminate me and nearly everyone I care about.

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It’s weird how some people can look at an issue and, though they come to one more or less right conclusion, do so by such a totally wrong route, with emphasis on all the wrong things and coming to several wrong conclusions, it’s almost as though they might as well be on the wrong side because there’s no telling what all the ramifications of their logical, factual and moral errors might be in the future.  And forget trying to neatly classify such a mess under one news heading.  Take a look at this goofy pearl-clutching:

Deepfake porn”, which involves using artificial intelligence software to swap faces in pornographic videos, is quickly emerging as a troubling new method of sexual exploitation…videos do not always fall neatly into existing legal prohibitions, and free speech concerns may prevent new laws from specifically restricting such material.  As a result, the job of policing this obviously harmful content has fallen on private companies who host the servers and platforms where deepfakes are hosted and traded. Reddit and Pornhub, for example, both have announced that they will not allow deepfakes and have started deleting them.  Researchers are studying ways to use automated image-processing to detect faked videos…But new legislation could get in the way of these anti-deepfake efforts.  The House of Representatives passed…FOSTA…There’s no question that sex trafficking is a problem that demands powerful solutions.  But FOSTA’s solution is also troubling.  Traditionally, websites that allow outside users to post messages or information, like Craigslist and Facebook, do not share legal responsibility if the outside users post illegal or improper content, unless the website actually had a hand in making the content.  The worst case scenario is that, to avoid having “knowledge” of sex trafficking, Internet services will stop content-moderation entirely…[because] a mistake in content-moderation could land them in court…People are, sadly, remarkably good at coming up with awful uses of new technology: deepfake porn, fake news, cyberbullying, revenge porn, you name it.  The gatekeepers of the Internet need to be adept to quickly tackle these difficult problems as they arise.  Public pressure on internet companies is necessary to push those companies to do everything they can…The right way for Congress to get internet companies to deal with serious online problems like sexual abuse is, counterintuitively, to leave those companies alone…

It’s no surprise that this potpourri of prudishness comes from Vice, a company which despite its provocative name has a long history of being unable to decide whether it supports human rights and sexual freedom, or prohibitionism and pearl-clutching.  As I’ve pointed out before, the fact that realistic porn cartoons are the worst use for this technology these bird-brains can conceive of is a sign of a culture overdue for collapse.  The idea of, say, cops manipulating a body cam video to make it look as though a black man they murdered had pulled a gun on the cop, doesn’t even enter their sheltered little minds.

But that’s just the start of this exercise in arse-backwardness; next we’re told that a lack of moderation is a “worst-case scenario”, as though trolls had the magic power to crawl through the intertubes to throttle people and were only stopped by the valiant efforts of moderators looking to censor “bad words”.  There are lots of sites that apply little to no comment moderation, and the sky doesn’t fall; normal people just learn not to dip into such cesspools.  Nor does this delicate little flower of a think-tanker (who apparently lacks even the poor excuse of a degree in “womyn’s studies”) stop there; oh no!  When his theme demands a list of “awful uses of new technology”, does he include mass surveillance, people being outed by both cops and Facebook, the violent policing of consensual adult sexuality, the outsourcing of censorship to private corporations and other truly dangerous expansions of the police state?  Nope; the worst things he can think of are name-calling and embarrassing pics.  And the idea that it’s “counterintuitive” that totalitarian government creates more problems than it solves is one that could only emerge from the mind of a statist who learned history from a pop-up book.

But the worst element of all, which I see in a lot of articles far better-written and more firmly grounded in reality than this writer could even imagine, is this gem: “There’s no question that sex trafficking is a problem that demands powerful solutions.”  No, fucking NO!!!  There ARE questions, plenty of them.  “Sex trafficking” as depicted in the propaganda, an international criminal conspiracy of vast size and susceptible to suppression by government “wars” (including mass surveillance, censorship and brutalization of peaceful adults), does not exist.  STOP CEDING GROUND TO PROHIBITIONISTS.  This is why they keep winning; spineless ninnies keep validating their evidence-free fantasies.  It’s like watching people line up to be lobotomized.  Imagine if Churchill had regularly said things like, “We agree that the Jews are a pestilence who need to be exterminated, but Mr. Hitler’s well-meaning strategy will not accomplish that.”  Holy crap, people!  THERE IS NO EVIDENCE FOR THESE FANTASIES, and plenty to show they’re myths.  STOP ACTING LIKE THERE IS A CRISIS that doesn’t exist.  We can’t win vs prohibitionists while good but weak people keep pretending their sick wanking fantasies of legions of gang-raped toddlers are true.  It isn’t enough to say, “Oh, there’s this horrible crisis but x law or strategy is the wrong way to fight it.”  NO.  Fucking no.  There is no fucking crisis in the first place, and until all sane and decent people admit that, the war on adult consensual sex will never, ever stop.

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The committee didn’t achieve what it had hoped for.  –  Geir Lundestad

Even if you don’t usually watch my featured videos, you really should watch this scene from Stormy Weather (1943), which Fred Astaire called “the greatest dancing he had ever seen on film.”  And if that still isn’t enough to recommend it, maybe I should tell you it was unrehearsed and filmed in one take.  The video was contributed by Jesse Walker, and the links above it by Amy AlkonWalter OlsonFranklin HarrisCarol FentonTim Cushing (x2), and Rick Horowitz, in that order.

From the Archives

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Well-adjusted people realize that words have different meanings in different contexts.  –  Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Mary Magdalene 

No, it isn’t “orthodoxy” that Mary Magdalene was a whore; quite the opposite, in fact:

A new film about Mary Magdalene sets out to refute the commonly held assumption that she was a prostitute redeemed by Christ…A new film, though, flips the script to show Mary in a new light – as an independent free-thinker who…deserves to be considered as an apostle in her own right…This is deeply contentious territory that flies in the face of the commonly accepted orthodoxy that Mary of Magdala was a prostitute…It is a notion that has been perpetuated for centuries – partly thanks to Andrew Lloyd Webber, who had Mary sing about the “many men” she’s “had” in Jesus Christ Superstar…Put all the evidence together and it is easy to conclude that Mary has been the victim of 1,400 years’ worth of character assassination…

Critic Neil Smith’s madonna-whore complex is on full display here; portraying Mary as an “independent free-thinker” is supportive of the idea she was a harlot.  Before the advent of the currently-fashionable “victim” nonsense, we were always seen as independent, uppity women who won’t mind our “place”; in fact, that’s exactly why patriarchal religions dislike us.  But then, I guess we couldn’t expect much from a mind that thinks it makes sense to blame Jesus Christ Superstar (recorded October 1970) for a 1400-year-old tradition.

The Truth About “The Truth About…”

Another of those nonexistent false sexual assault accusations:

Thomas Mowbray didn’t even know Eboni Sanders.  They both lived [in Pittsburgh, PA] in the same…building…In early February 2016, they ran into each other in the laundry room.  Mr. Mowbray claims Ms. Sanders came on to him and that he declined…Twelve days after that, Pittsburgh police charged Mr. Mowbray with indecent assault after Ms. Sanders claimed that he had groped her…The charges marked the beginning of a nightmarish two years in the criminal justice system for Mr. Mowbray…and his girlfriend, Patrese Thompson …Over that time, Pittsburgh police filed six criminal cases against Mr. Mowbray and two against Ms. Thompson — all based on shocking allegations made by Ms. Sanders of gun-toting assailants, assaults, threatening letters and phone calls, stalking, contract killings and knife-wielding attacks…Mowbray spent more than six months in jail.  But on Feb. 22, the last of the cases was withdrawn by…prosecutors.  Police had finally [accepted] what the couple had long insisted — that Ms. Sanders was lying.  Now she is the one facing criminal charges.  “For two years of our lives, this woman has been using the criminal justice system to terrorize us,” Ms. Thompson said…

Too Close To Home

Everyone harmed by prostitution laws needs to keep suing over them:

Three men arrested in a 2016 prostitution sting in Bellevue are suing King County and Bellevue police for defamation, [explaining that] officials exaggerated their crimes to satisfy a private foundation that provided a grant for the [pogrom]…Keith Emmanuel, Richard Homchick, and Charles Peters…were only charged with second-degree promoting prostitution during the sweep…However, during press conferences and other public appearances, Bellevue Chief Steve Mylett, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, and former sheriff John Urquhart made statements that made it seem like the three men had engaged in crimes like rape and human trafficking…Those statements were made, the suit alleges, to satisfy Demand Abolition…[billionaire sociopath Swanee Hunt’s] foundation that had given the county a grant to [harass sex workers] and [persecute clients].  Demand Abolition gave the prosecutor’s office a $50,000 grant in 2014…and has continued to give grants each year since.  “Defendants have deliberately conflated that prostitution charge with human trafficking and sex slavery as part of a concerted plan to secure private funding by generating publicity and manipulating media coverage of the arrests,” the suit [states]…To keep the grant, the prosecutor’s office had to meet performance targets…increasing the arrests of [men] by 50 percent…

Full of Themselves (#614)

California produces the most horrifying and racist anti-massage-parlor propaganda, hands down:

Doug Bennett, the founder of Magdalene Hope, a [prohibitionist group]…and his [gang] of [busybodies]…[literally spy on Asian-owned massage businesses,] spending their evenings watching the parlors, [stalking] masseuses after they leave and gathering evidence to pass on to the…[cops]…Massage parlors have been [dysphemized as] “modern-day brothels” and “prostitution rings.”  They are [fantasized] by [“trafficking” fetishists] to be storefronts for a complex network of human traffickers shuffling victims throughout the region, multiple [conspiracy theorists, pigs, white supremacists]…and [other tinfoil-hat wearers] said on and off the record…

Naturally, the California Massage Therapy Council is quoted.  Don’t miss the part about how Bennett and his cronies pray together before literally stalking women late at night, and be sure to click on that link in the first line for a look at one of “Magdalene Hope’s” hilariously-bad propaganda ads.

The Widening Gyre (#663)

What hysteria about “crime” in Italy would be complete without bringing in the Mafia?  This lurid, self-righteous mess should serve as a warning to clients to be careful which “journalists” they talk to; this unethical, pompous fantasist fully admits that the only reason she didn’t out a man she interviewed, despite her promise that she wouldn’t, was that he had a wife and children.  Yet she clearly sees herself as moral while the women who honestly sell sex and keep their clients’ confidences are “degraded victims” and the clients who enable them to earn a living are “rapists” who “keep this lurid business of sex slavery alive”.

Opting Out (#700)

“At least one person noted that the UK was at risk of looking like idiots”:

Twitter and other social media companies have so far refused to engage with the government’s plans to introduce age checks to limit underage access to online pornography…Lord Erroll…who chairs the Digital Policy Alliance (DPA)…admitted the ultimate sanction intended for sites that fail to implement AV is unlikely to be applied to Twitter.  Unlike Instagram and Facebook, Twitter has no rules against the posting of sexually explicit material and hosts many accounts that promote publishers and stars of pornography.  “The challenge with that is if you block Twitter, people will just say this is an overreaction, it’s mad, and it would not go down well in public,” Erroll said…

For Those Who Think Legalization is a Good Idea (#737)

India’s pigheaded resistance to decriminalization continues:

On February 28…the Union cabinet approved the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018…[it] falls into the familiar trap of trying to use criminal law to solve a social problem.  The IPC already criminalises trafficking…The new Bill introduces 15 new offences on top of this, and introduces numerous…ambigu[ous]…clauses…[which] unfairly target…marginalised actors and rely…heavily on criminalisation…It only creates further confusion by introducing existing offences in the new packaging of “aggravated offences”, adding more layers of bureaucracy and complicating enforcement…The Bill…relies on the raid, rescue and rehabilitation model, which…is nothing but victim detention, resulting in the complete loss of liberty for an adult woman.  The rehabilitation process disregards the wishes and choices of the “rescued” person, especially sex workers.  Such a paternalistic approach…ignores the agency of adult women to determine what is good for them…

Torture Chamber (#770) 

The state wants us to call these subhuman monsters “correctional officers”:

Jailhouse video reveals California sheriff’s deputies watching and sometimes laughing as a schizophrenic man who had been strapped naked to a chair for 46 hours writhes on the floor of his cell, loses consciousness and eventually dies…the county [was forced to pay Andrew] Holland’s family $5 million for his death, which a medical examiner determined was caused by a pulmonary embolism…[directly caused by] the [inhumane] restraint chair…

Legal Is as Legal Does (#811)

What terrible “crimes” these “gangsters” are accused of:  not paying licenses.  Assisting migrants.  Illegally subdividing a building.  Doing their employees’ laundry.  The fiends!

A triad-controlled prostitution racket that brought sex workers from Europe, Asia and mainland China into Hong Kong has been broken up in one of the city’s biggest anti-vice crackdowns with the arrest of 75 people…the syndicate had turned 72 subdivided flats into one-woman brothels…four vice establishments and unlicensed massage centres in the same district were also controlled by the gang…the syndicate had its own laundry centre…and supplied towels to sex workers…police arrested 14 men and 61 women…

Overdue

“Fainting-couch feminism” is a brilliant coinage:

…[Massachusetts politician] Michelle DuBois…has been calling for the removal of a statehouse sign that reads “General Hooker Entrance” (so inscribed because it stands opposite a statue of [US Civil War] General Hooker), which she described as an affront to “women’s dignity”…If that isn’t the ultimate in futile, fainting-couch feminism, I’m not sure what is…attitudes like hers—which treat women as excessively fragile beings, and which posit that female “dignity” is diminished by even so slight an association with sex work as walking under a door that says “hooker”—just props up old-fashioned and patriarchal ideas about sex and gender…

Cops and Robbers (#813)

As I surmised, this sleazy attempt to hurt sex workers’ income is bankrolled by billionaire sociopath Swanee Hunt:

[Pigs trying to harm sex workers] are using cyber-based “patrols” to [harass potential clients]…[in] Los Angeles…Working in partnership with Demand Abolition, a [vanity project] focused on eradicating [sex workers]…sheriff’s deputies post ads to make contact with would-be buyers.  Once phone contact is made, detectives identify themselves as members of the [vice squad]…advise the caller that solicitation is a crime and offer referrals to sex addiction treatment.  Investigators also use electronic “bots” to send [propaganda] text messages to buyers…During the first month of operations this year, nearly 1,900 conversations took place with potential sex buyers which prompted more than 30,000 text warnings designed to disrupt [sex workers’ business]…

Guinea Pigs (#818) 

Every New Orleanian knows that cockroaches can’t stand sunlight:

[After] The Verge reported the existence of a six-year predictive policing collaboration between the New Orleans Police Department and Palantir Technologies…which…was unknown to the public and key members of the city council prior to publication…outgoing…Mayor Mitch Landrieu…[said] his office would not renew its pro bono contract with Palantir, which has been extended three times since 2012…The mayor did not respond to repeated requests for comment from…media since news of the partnership broke.  There is also potential legal fallout from the revelation…[which was not included in] discovery evidence [for a number of criminal trials]…

The Mote and the Beam (#818)

When an incredibly bad law skates through a legislature, follow the money:

FOSTA…offer[s] a powerful incentive for online platforms to police the speech of users and advertisers.  A perceived violation of a state’s anti-trafficking laws could lead to authorities seeking civil or criminal penalties, or a barrage of lawsuits.  So, why are movie studios involved at all in this debate?  Hollywood is lobbying for laws that will force online intermediaries to shut down user speech.  That’s what they’ve been seeking since practically the beginning of the Internet…For legacy software and entertainment companies, breaking down [Section 230] is another road to a controlled, filtered Internet—one that looks a lot like cable television.  Without safe harbors, the Internet will be a poorer place—less free for new ideas and new business models.  That suits some of the gatekeepers of the pre-Internet era just fine…An Internet that’s policed by “copyright bots” is what major film studios and record have advocated for more than a decade now…

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Forbidding the promotion of prostitution on the Internet…would be “to burn the house to roast the pig.”  –  Alex F. Levy

Unless you were overseas, deeply inebriated or in a coma for the past two days, I’m sure you’ve heard that the massive internet censorship bill known as FOSTA passed the US Senate Wednesday as unanimously as bad laws based on moral panic always do; all it lacks is Trump’s signature to become law, and unless he pulls one of his bizarre reversals that’s pretty much a given.  The law is so blatantly unconstitutional (on several grounds, including flagrant violations of the first and tenth amendments, and article 1’s ban on ex post facto laws) that even the DoJ (which never saw an expansion of federal power it didn’t like) recognizes that, and it will indubitably be challenged as soon as it hits the ground; unless the judge who hears that challenge is some kind of incompetent lunatic he’ll issue an injunction against enforcing it until the case is settled, which could take years.  But that doesn’t mean we can relax; the big businesses which control the internet are so risk-averse many of them are unlikely to wait for the outcome of that ruling, and will simply start pre-emptively censoring sex work content as Reddit already has:

Sometime around 2 a.m. [yesterday], Reddit banned several long-running sex worker forums from the platform.  The move comes just hours after the Senate passed a bill making digital facilitation of prostitution a federal crime.  Under the new law, social media sites and other hubs of user-generated content can be held criminally liable…Even if individuals aren’t targeted by law enforcement for placing ads, and even if individual cases brought by state prosecutors are struck down as unconstitutional, a lot of platforms will preemptively ban anything remotely related to sex work rather than risk it.  So far, four subreddits related to sex have banned:  Escorts, Male Escorts, Hookers, and SugarDaddy. None were what could accurately be described as advertising forums…The escort forums were largely used by sex workers to communicate with one another…

Craigslist followed last night, removing its US personals ad section and posting this apology:

US Congress just passed HR 1865, “FOSTA”, seeking to subject websites to criminal and civil liability when third parties (users) misuse online personals unlawfully.  Any tool or service can be misused.  We can’t take such risk without jeopardizing all our other services, so we are regretfully taking craigslist personals offline.  Hopefully we can bring them back some day.  To the millions of spouses, partners, and couples who met through craigslist, we wish you every happiness!

I and many others have explained why this law is so uniquely awful, but let’s just sum it up once more:

  1. It allows US government censorship of the entire internet, destroys social media in all but the most neutered form, and creates a de facto internet cartel controlled entirely by the wealthiest and most powerful media corporations;
  2. It criminalizes all sex work advertising and creates a new federal prostitution crime;
  3. It allows both ambitious DAs and greedy opportunists to attack any internet entity with either criminal charges or civil suits for activity that was perfectly legal when it occurred.

Even if you aren’t a sex worker or civil libertarian, you should be able to see the issues with this, and so should all of the politicians who voted for it, who are guilty of nothing short of criminal incompetence:

Notre Dame law instructor Alex F. Levy:

The law relies on the unsubstantiated idea that reducing prostitution will reduce trafficking.  Indeed, the legislative report defends the regulation by proclaiming, without citation, that “[p]rostitution and sex trafficking are inextricably linked, and where prostitution is legalized or tolerated, there is a greater demand for human trafficking victims and nearly always an increase in the number of women and children trafficked into commercial sex slavery”…But the claim that legalizing (or decriminalizing) prostitution leads to sex trafficking is widely controverted by scholars…Congress does not even inquire into the basic reliability of the premise that undergirds this sweeping content-based speech restriction…it…restricts Constitutionally protected speech, yet fails under both strict and intermediate scrutiny standards.  It is unconstitutional and should not be passed into law…

Tech law journalist Mike Masnick:

…Senator Richard Blumenthal — who has spent years attacking the internet, and who has already stated that if SESTA kills small internet businesses he would consider that a good thing…sent out a letter…[in which] almost everything stated…is 100% factually wrong…so wrong that it raises serious questions about whether Blumenthal understands some fairly fundamental issues in the bill he’s backing.  Professor Eric Goldman has a pretty concise explanation of everything that’s wrong with the statement, noting that it…shows that SESTA’s main sponsors don’t even understand the very basic aspects of CDA 230…you have to start wondering what the hell is happening in the Senate, and in particular in Senator Blumenthal’s office.  He is not just doing a big thing badly — he is gleefully spouting the exact opposite of basic facts about both the existing law, and the bill he sponsored.  I know that politicians aren’t exactly known for their honesty, but he seems to be taking this to new levels…

Even economist Scott Cunningham, whom I’ve castigated more than once for not grasping basic facts about the demimonde, sure understands this one:

…This bill claims to be all about sex trafficking, but it seems to have a deep ignorance about how these markets work and a deep ignorance about the benefits of these technologies.  The people who support it don’t know about the client screening, they don’t know about the movement indoors and they don’t know that women are using these online platforms in order to avoid danger.  They don’t know or they don’t care…

Though Cunningham is perhaps being cautious and/or polite in his last statement, I think it’s pretty obvious that the latter clause is far more likely than the former.  Don’t you?

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I consider myself an upstanding guy and a good provider but I’m now engaged in what some consider the lowest behavior a man can engage in and I am feeling tremendous guilt. Up until about 6 months ago I had been completely faithful.  About 9 months ago my wife had a meltdown over something unrelated to this and told me to leave, then a few days later asked me to come home.  Over the following 3 months this happened 4 more times.  One night I was lonely and decided to call an escort.  I’m prepared to be thrown out again at any time, and I found that I really enjoyed seeing escorts and do not intend to stop.  I feel like cheating scum.  I’m honest with the providers and disclose that I’m married.  How do these providers see me?

What low behavior are you involved in?  Are you a cop or politician?  The only thing you mention doing is seeing escorts because your wife has, to put it bluntly, turned into a flake.  You have needs; you’re dealing with them pragmatically.  When she threw you out, did you just stand outside in the rain?  No, you went and rented a hotel room.  If she refused to feed you, would eating at a restaurant have been “low”?  No, it would be sensible.  And so is seeing escorts to get your sexual & emotional needs met now that your wife seems to think you’re a human yo-yo for her to play with.  You mention telling your escorts you’re married; honey, 70% or more of our clients are married.  We are the safety valve which allows the highly unnatural institution of monogamy to exist at all, and civilization itself would be literally impossible without us.  Every person has the right to control their own sexuality, and nobody else’s (unless that’s part of some kink dynamic they both consent freely to).  In other words, your wife has the right to say “I will not fuck you”, but she does not have the right to tell you that you can’t have a sex life because she’s too busy playing non-consensual tease-and-denial games.  By seeing an escort, you are mitigating the harm that would come from extracurricular fucking of amateurs whose ideas of consent, hygiene and respect for boundaries probably range from confused to nonexistent.

And though you didn’t ask for advice on this other topic, I’m going to give it anyway:  at one point in your very long letter you mentioned the difficulty of finding a good therapist for yourself.  From what I can see, you don’t need therapy (except for your inappropriate feelings of guilt for taking care of your own needs, and maybe to uncover why you accept this kind of treatment); your wife does.  It’s not normal to keep repeatedly throwing a partner out and then summoning them back; it’s emotional abuse.

(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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