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Archive for June, 2018

The government needs to get the fuck out of our bedrooms.  –  Cris Sardina

Under Every Bed

It’s almost like these people have never actually been to central Kentucky:

Human Trafficking is considered modern-day slavery and is widespread in Central Kentucky, where adults and children are being bought, sold and smuggled.  It…is the second-largest criminal enterprise in the world…“Any adult or child can fall prey to the manipulative recruitment and grooming tactics of traffickers,” said Attorney General Andy Beshear…This is worsened by Kentucky’s proximity to the I-75 corridor, where victims can be transported quickly to other states under the radar.  “When we talk about the crime of human trafficking, people often think of…people following people around Walmart or Target attempting a kidnapping,” said Robyn Diez d’Aux, a human trafficking advocate with Catholic Charities…

The Widening Gyre (#317)

Remember the Froot Loop who claimed pop stars cause “sex trafficking”?  Nicki Minaj says “hold my beer”:

“Maybe I was naïve, but I didn’t realize how many girls were modern-day prostitutes,” Nicki Minaj recently said in an interview with Elle Magazine.  “Whether you’re a stripper, or whether you’re an Instagram girl—these girls are so beautiful and they have so much to offer.  But I started finding out that you give them a couple thousand dollars, and you can have sex with them….It’s just sad that they don’t know their worth…And it makes me sad that maybe I’ve contributed to that in some way.”  Nicki, Nicki, Nicki.  Girl.  Why do you look down on sex workers?  You’re literally imitating one…For all intents and purposes, Nicki Minaj is at least sex worker adjacent.  She uses her body as a sexual prop, undergoing intensive cosmetic surgery to create a hyper-sexualized body…in order to sell hyper-sexualized music.  She’s…selling a sexual performance that relies on her sexuality just as much as it does the music.  Kinda like a stripper…It’s as if she’s just awoken from a deep coma in which her body and career were the handiwork of Norman Bates’ mother…

See, ladies, giving sex away for free is “knowing your worth”, but charging for it isn’t.  Thanks for clearing that up, Nicki!

Property of the State (#451)

One of the sleaziest legal dodges this year:

A three-judge panel of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals…vacated a lower court decision striking Wisconsin’s “cocaine mom” law, also known as a “personhood” law, [using the excuse that] the case was now moot because the woman challenging the law had moved out of state…Under the law, social workers can begin [Star Chamber] legal proceedings in which a court can appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the fetus in the legal proceedings against the pregnant person.  If that person is found to be a substantial threat to the fetus, the state can involuntarily detain them and subject them to involuntary medical treatment…In 2014, Tamara Loertscher  voluntarily sought medical help for depression and a severe thyroid condition that resulted in Loertscher experiencing debilitating lethargy.  Loertcher had begun to self-medicate with marijuana and methamphetamine as this condition took hold.  When she suspected she was pregnant, Loertscher disclosed this information to health-care workers who first confirmed Loertscher’s pregnancy then immediately reported her to…authorities, who initiated legal proceedings against her…the court appointed a guardian for Loertscher’s fetus but denied Loertscher counsel…

A Tale That Grew in the Telling (#506)

Remember 110 clients in one day? How about 182 a day for 15 years?

Kat Lee, 32, from Manchester, has spent 15 years working as a legal “out-call” escort but says the work was lonely, often dangerous and led to drink problems that resulted in her having her stomach pumped.  Now Kat – who was lured into the job by a photographer when she was still a teen – says people turn to prostitution for the wrong reasons and she would welcome a ban.  She said: “I worked (as an escort) from when I was 18 until I was in my 30s, I must have seen over a million clients…

To Molest and Rape 

Seattle doesn’t want anyone to know what this rapist looks like:

A jury found a former Seattle Police Department sergeant guilty…of four counts related to the rape and molestation of his two older daughters.  Daniel Amador…routinely raped his older daughter, A.B., about five times a week and also molested his younger daughter, C.A…The rapes began when [A.B.] was about 9 years old and continued until she was in college…

If anyone can find me a face shot of this disgusting pile of feces wrapped in human skin, please send it along.

Broken Record (#750)

Omaha has only one event it can pretend to be a “sex trafficking” magnet, and uses it every year:

The College World Series brings excitement to baseball fans…”We know 900 individuals are bought and sold in a month – multiple times,” [fantasized the drooling] Meghan Malik…[of] Women’s Fund of Omaha…Some possible warning signs from victims include [shyness and adults with their kids]…

Original Sin (#803)

There’s something very appropriate about an article full of lies & propaganda opening with a misattribution:

One of my favorite quotes is by Albert Einstein – “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”  That’s why I was drawn to working for Voices for Florida…Florida ranks 3rd in the country for the prevalence of human trafficking.  In 2016, 356 child victims of commercial sexual exploitation (CSE) were verified in Florida…

That quote isn’t from Einstein; it’s from Rita Mae Brown.  And as I’ve explained before, there is no comparative ranking of states for “human trafficking”.

Standard Operating Procedure (#814)

Charity barred from bringing money into poor country because white ladies are offended:

Oxfam GB has been banned from operating in Haiti permanently in the wake of revelations about..the charity’s employees….[hired] sex workers while in the country after the January 2010 earthquake that left more than 220,000 people dead…Oxfam will continue to operate in Haiti through its Italian, Spanish and Quebecois affiliate members [who are obviously all celibate and never, ever hire local people to provide any service whatsoever].  Oxfam’s projects in the Caribbean country help 750,000 people through work on reconstruction and development projects…

To Molest and Rape (#843) 

It’s rare that politicians’ tendency toward “monkey see, monkey do” actually works for good:

Louisiana just became the 19th state to make it illegal for cops to [rape] individuals arrested or in custody…It’s the latest in a wave of states acting on the issue since a high-profile case in New York brought it to national attention last fall [after sex workers have talked about it for years, but have been ignored].  Prior to the New York case, about 15 states had similar laws on the books…

Pyrrhic Victory (#844) 

Are the hoi-polloi finally waking up to how “cool” technology is used to expand the police state?

Amazon received an unexpected delivery [on June 18th] when community leaders dropped off four big boxes of signatures urging the company to stop selling image recognition technology to law enforcement agencies.  Activists representing faith groups, immigrants, and labor held a press conference at Amazon’s iconic Spheres in Seattle.  The event is part of an ongoing effort to get Amazon to stop providing police with its Rekognition software.  On [June 15th], nearly 20 groups of Amazon shareholders sent a letter asking the company to stop the practice…For weeks, the American Civil Liberties Union has been urging Amazon not to sell Rekognition to police…ACLU organized the event at Amazon’s headquarters…Amazon is not commenting on the petition but one of the company’s AI executives, Matt Wood, [falsely claimed that]…“There has been no reported law enforcement abuse of Amazon Rekognition”, [completely ignoring cops’ use of the technology to persecute sex workers]…

Safe Position

No, this isn’t a “turning point”; that title goes to the sea change which told politicians it was a safe move:

…close to 200 sex workers and their allies attended a town hall in Brooklyn, New York, to hear Democratic Congressional candidate Suraj Patel and a panel of sex workers and activists discuss the sex workers’ rights movement.  It’s the first known town hall to include sex workers in U.S. political history.  Patel’s campaign and Survivors Against SESTA organized the event…Patel is one of very few Democrat politicians to speak out against [FOSTA/SESTA] and openly support sex workers’ advocacy.  Prominent [authoritarian] Democrats and presidential hopefuls Elizabeth Warren…Bernie Sanders…and Kamala Harris…as well as Patel’s opponent in the New York primary, Carolyn Maloney…supported the anti-sex [worker] legislation [knowing full well] it would…[harm] sex workers…

Lack of Evidence (#848)

Another small but important victory for sex workers:

Allegheny County [cops] will no longer criminalize condoms in prostitution-related cases, the department superintendent said…Coleman McDonough…[admitted] that [cops] can still file possession charges based on cellphones, which are often categorized as instruments of crime…Activist groups — including the burgeoning Pittsburgh chapter of the Sex Worker Outreach Project — mobilized and began calling for the police and Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. to end the practice…PJ Sage [of SWOP Pittsburgh] said the group will remain dedicated to changing the practice of possession of instrument of crime charges relating to cellphones…

Disaster (#850)

Another casualty of the War on Whores:

The Desiree Conference…is regarded as the most important gathering of its kind for sex workers and allies.  [But] Due to FOSTA/SESTA enactments, our leadership made the decision that we cannot put our organization and our attendees at risk,” Desiree Alliance announced  on its website…Cris Sardina, director at the Desiree Alliance…said… “Even something as simple as hotel hospitality potentially alerting local police to suspicious people or behavior could put a group of 500 activists and sex works at major risk”…Even a workshop on how to advertise online could be [misrepresented by cops] as an intention to traffic a sex worker, so even the most tame of the conference activities could be up for legal scrutiny…

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Back Issue: June 2015

Is it just me, or does the idea of a TV show about Heroes of the Homeland fighting to rescue The ChildrenTM from evil dark-skinned foreigners have a vaguely goose-steppy, repurposed-Vedic-symbol sort of feel to it?  –  “They Never Learn

Now that news, link and diary columns make up the bulk of each month, the number of entries in these back issue columns has become very small.  After the holiday columns (Summer Solstice and “The Revolt of the Prostitutes” for Whores’ Day); the guest columnist (Bo Jensen); the fictional interlude (“The Generation of Leaves“); the harlotography (“Hortense Mancini“); and the Q&A columns (“East is East and West is West“, “Pussy“, “High End“, and “Purely Sexual“), the only ones left to mention are “Aloha, Oy!” (Hawaii’s awful anti-whore schemes), “They Never Learn” (anti-whore TV shows), and “Green Eggs and Ham” (my learning to try new things).

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I’m 23 years old and okay with waiting until I’m where I want to be career-wise to meet a nice girl and settle down, but I didn’t want to stay a virgin, so I went to a soapland.  I was really scared and nervous, but the girl was really nice and I think it was a great decision.  It was like going to a therapist, or a doctor, and even though I didn’t feel any romantic attraction to the working girl, it felt like she was a good friend helping me with my problems.  And of course it felt good to have sex.  I would like to go back, but I have a few questions.  Will seeing soapland girls instill me with a false sense of confidence?  Should I keep going to that one girl or try other girls out as well?  When I left, the people at the front desk gave me the address to a sister branch that was much closer to where I live.  Also, I feel weird when I hog the conversation in a normal situation, and I want to make the girl feel comfortable too, but at the same time I don’t want to pry into her personal life too much.

I don’t think you need to worry about “false confidence” as long as you remember that sex workers are professionals.  We are paid to make men feel good, emotionally as well as physically, and even though a genuine liking can develop it is not the same thing as romance.  I think you already understand this, and that understanding isn’t going to evaporate just because you keep seeing sex workers.  Some men like to keep seeing the same girl, whereas others like a lot of variety, and still others are somewhere in the middle (they have their regular lady but also see others as time & money allow).  I think you should probably adopt that strategy to start: keep seeing the girl you like regularly, say once a month, and if you have extra cash try other girls out.  As you become more experienced you’ll learn what works best for you.  Don’t worry about monopolizing the conversation.  Even if she likes you, it’s still a business transaction at its core, and if it makes you happy to talk most sex workers won’t have a problem with that.  Make conversation just like you’d make it with your barber, manicurist, or any other professional you spend time with, and you’ll be fine; the same rules of good manners (don’t ask rude or prying questions, etc) apply in this interaction just as they would anywhere.  Sex workers are people like any other, and will have different comfort levels; you’ll be able to suss that out just as you would with anybody else.  I understand this is new & strange to you, but you’ll quickly become comfortable with it over repeat visits.  Unless you’re intentionally rude, it’s very unlikely you will cause offense.

(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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When we come back, we come back stronger.  –  Kristen DiAngelo

Surplus Women 

Politicians won’t even wait for a whore’s body to be cold before launching vile attacks on her community:

Just a few hours before the march…in memory of [Eunice, a Nigerian sex worker] who was mortally stabbed on…5 June, the Committee of Brussels’s Alhambra District…speaks…in favor of…prostitution tolerance zones…and of a building complex to shelter…prostitutes’ shop windows…The Alhambra Committee [claims] that it is not against prostitution, but rather against the disturbance it causes in a residential district…“We can accept several independent prostitutes ‘working’ in the neighborhood, but it is difficult not to notice the Rumanian-Bulgarian-Albanian-Hungarian mafia installed on our streets since 2005″…the…Committee…[also stated] that they are favorable to police control of clients…[and] denounces the fact that [activists are against this ghetto because]…prostitutes without official papers could not work there…

Dehumanization, racism, end demand garbage, scare quotes around “working” and a bottleneck to keep “dirty foreigners” out.  They didn’t even include her name, just called her “a prostitute”.  But they’re not against sex work, no sir!

Broken Record 

Hysteria is like a disease; it spreads among friend & foe alike:

Even though prostitution is illegal in Russia, there are around three million regular sex workers in the country, according to activist group Silver Rose.  Until recently, the group says, the police had turned a blind eye to the practice or taken kickbacks.  But with hundreds of thousands of tourists descending on Russia for the World Cup, the authorities are [purging as “authorities” always do before such events]…this means frequent raids on well-known prostitution sites…Despite the authorities’ efforts, though, [prohibitionists fantasize] that the relaxed visa regime introduced to simplify travel to Russia during the tournament is encouraging illegal trafficking of women.  As Yulia Siluyanova of Alternativa, a Moscow-based [prohibitionist] organization, put it, “The World Cup is a gift for traffickers”…

Under Every Bed

Is it just me, or are “sex trafficking is EVERYWHERE!” articles beginning to sound very tired?

Some Central Texans are taking a stand against sex trafficking…the T.S.O.Y., Texas Save Our Youth organization, held a meeting…to [indoctrinate] the public…[in bogus] statistics, [fantasies] of trafficking and warning signs like strategically placed tattoos…The U.S. is the number one producer and consumer of sex trafficking in the world, and Texas is in the top three states in the country.

Bottleneck (#638)

“Licensing” is one of the ways governments try to surreptitiously ban things:

The state-run Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) ordered all unregistered bloggers and online forums…to suspend their websites immediately or face criminal prosecution.  Several sites, including popular online discussion platform Jamiiforums, have reportedly shut down to avoid prosecution.  Reuters reports: Regulations passed in March made it compulsory for bloggers and owners of other online forums such as YouTube channels to register with the government and pay up to $900 for a license.  Per capita income in Tanzania is slightly below $900 a year.  Digital activists say the law is part of a crackdown on dissent and free speech…Government officials [pretend] the new rules are aimed at tackling hate speech and other online crimes, including cyberbullying and pornography

Does that list of “crimes” justifying censorship sound familiar?

Morality Lessons (#689)

In which the FBI running an actual child porn site is called “law enforcement ingenuity”:

…we spearhead and coordinate massive nationwide and international operations to disrupt and destroy child exploitation networks….these…are most successful only when we can rely on our close partnerships with the many federal, state, local, tribal, and non-governmental partners here today.  Operation Pacifier was a prime example.  In that case, we…[took over] a highly sophisticated, global enterprise on the dark web called “Playpen,” where users exchanged tens of thousands of postings relating to the sexual abuse of children – even, revoltingly, children as young as infants and toddlers.  Operation Pacifier was a model of law enforcement ingenuity.  Agents identified and seized the “Playpen” server, which gave the FBI a very short window of time to [keep running it as normal]…to identify site users…

Your regular reminder that the word for a “partnership” between political and corporate interests is “fascism”.

The Spiral of Absurdity (#743) 

Another sighting of the “sex trafficking” fetishist who masturbates to the fantasy that emojis in low-rent escort ads are part of some mysterious pimp “code”:

“Human trafficking is a business,” said Jessica Whitney, “where people are treated as inventory”…Whitney [fantasizes] that traffickers use certain language and emojis (symbols) to appeal to certain buyers.  They market the girls — by age, race, skin color, “new in town” (i.e. limited time only) — as a retailer positions its products.  In fact, victims are often forced to write their own customized ads.  The [fantasy] doesn’t relent…

The Course of a Disease (#757)

Israeli prohibitionists ladle FOSTA slop on top of an already-bad anti-whore bill:

The state is petitioning the courts to remove five Israeli prostitution websites from the internet…[clients careless enough to be] caught [in pig stings] within three years of the first offense will pay doubled the original fine, according to the draft legislation…[Injustice Minister Ayelet] Shaked had decided that customers would be pursued through administrative rather than criminal enforcement: the offender would not be considered a criminal with a criminal record…The minister [bloviated] that the draft bill fining customers is…part of a wider plan she intends to bring before government in the months to come…Meanwhile…the Knesset approved a bill banning advertisement of prostitutes…for the first time, the prohibition will apply to the printing shop that printed the ad…offending internet sites and phone numbers involved in promoting prostitution services could be blocked…

Surprised how fast mass censorship is taking hold? We did warn you.

Devil’s Advocate (#761) 

Your periodic reminder that a child-shaped toaster is still a toaster:

The U.S. House approved a ban…on the importation and trafficking of anatomically correct child sex dolls…that [perverts wrongly claim] “normalize sex between adults and minors…These dolls can be programmed to simulate rape. The very thought makes me [excited]” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte…“Once an abuser tires of practicing on a doll, it’s a small step to move on to a child”…[fantasized bill sponsor] Dan Donovan…The proposal [imagines] the…dolls…“can resemble actual children”…Goodlatte [pretended to be] “distraught” that…child sex dolls even exist…“Customers can order bespoke dolls, providing pictures of specific children they would like the doll to resemble.  They can indicate a preferred facial expression such as sadness or fear”…

Even in the world of anti-sex propaganda, this bill and article are egregious.  They express psychologically-illiterate fantasies and scare-claims in declarative sentences, and make assertions that are not only untrue, but calculated to demonize the buyers of such dolls (eg, the last sentence).  I also remind you of the McNeill Rule.

Feminine Pragmatism (#778) 

One day, reporters will get that “People Work To Make Money” is not news:

…in Colombia’s border city of Cucuta…Venezuelan sex workers…now [do a fairly ordinary job] to support themselves and their families…About 672,000 Venezuelans have crossed into neighbouring Colombia alone, both legally and illegally, since 2015…The exodus from the oil-rich country is the largest migration of people in South America’s recent history, and it shows little signs of abating.  For some, sex work is [a reasonable, practical] option…

The Widening Gyre (#811)

Lenore Skenazy is doing great work reporting on these absurd “sex trafficking” panics:

Here’s [a] mom’s Facebook post:  “we are driving home from Cincinnati and got off at a rest stop for a quick bathroom break.  Just my daughter and I went inside…some lady who appeared to be on something, was trying to talk to my daughter…I heard…her say “the little girl” [to another woman]…As we leave I passed both women and the one that I originally saw had changed clothes and started to leave…I then made a dead sprint to the car, threw my daughter in and locked doors.  Once we were safely in car I noticed 3 men standing in front of a gold minivan with all the doors open…I have this terrible feeling that had I not been aware…my daughter may have been taken from me“…stranger danger is so rare that even the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children…has asked people to stop using the term.  And David Finkelhor, head of the Crimes Against Children Research Center, told me he had heard of no children ever abducted from their parents in public for sex trafficking purposes…A media organization uncritically promoting this hysteria is…reckless journalism…

Legal Is as Legal Does (#834) 

Lewis & her friends are fools; what they want is legalization & protectionism, and they’re not going to like it if they get it:

[A small group of] New Zealand sex workers have written an open letter…asking for the election of a Minister of Prostitution.  The letter also rejects the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective (NZPC) as the representative organisation of sex workers here, and attacks the collective’s support for illegal sex workers.  The letter by Hamilton sex worker Lisa Lewis carries 25 other names…In an unlikely alliance, the letter was written with the help of [conservative Christian group] Family First…Lewis said… “Prostitution needs to be governed in New Zealand.  If there is a legislation, there should be a Minister.”  The letter claimed migrants coming on temporary visas to work as prostitutes were “taking money off legal sex workers, not paying tax and going home with the money …NZPC’s current focus is legalising internationals to be allowed to provide commercial sexual services here in New Zealand and no legal New Zealand sex worker wants this”…Family First is highly critical of the Prostitution Reform Act and is calling for a Nordic model…

I am reminded of the fable, “The Frogs Who Desired a King”.

Choke Point (#839) 

Useful idiots are unable to understand how precedent works:

Several gun-related businesses were suddenly — and without warning — disrupted in recent weeks when Intuit stopped processing credit card payments because phone and internet sales were gun-related…Some of the payments stopped didn’t even involve firearms, but simply T-shirts and coffee mugs and gun safety classes…As a result, the businesses had to scramble to track down customers to get them pay their bills after Intuit credited back to customers’ accounts the purchases — even if the T-shirt was already shipped or the class already taken…

It always starts with a politically-unpopular group like sex workers or gun owners, but never stops there.

Disaster (#839)

I’ve never seen anything galvanize public support for sex workers like FOSTA has:

After…SESTA-FOSTA…organizing around sex workers has been reinvigorated with a new urgency.  The legislation…cripples sex workers’ ability to work safely online.  It’s merely the latest example in an unbroken history of harmful anti-sex work laws.  But at a time when activism…is all the more crucial…SESTA-FOSTA…[is] silencing and criminalizing the very organizing and advocacy that would help sex workers stay safe and fight persecution, even chilling journalists’ efforts to cover these issues…In one poignant example of how these laws harm advocacy, the Desiree Alliance Conference — the largest U.S. gathering addressing human, labor, and civil rights for workers in the sex industry — announced that it will not take place this year due to fears surrounding SESTA-FOSTA…

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Diary #417

As I was eating breakfast Thursday and preparing to head to the airport, there was a knock on my door.  When I opened it, what should I find but a large box containing a brand-new roller-bag in snakeskin print!  The sender only signed themselves “A children’s librarian in Texas”, so thank you, generous benefactor!  Then while I was in LA, I received a pair of snakeskin-print skinny jeans (no sender note in the package) and a copy of Vangelis’ Rosetta and the book The End of Policing, both from Robin Aguilar.  Thank y’all so much!  While at the airport and on the plane I participated in Liara Roux’s Reddit “Ask Me Anything”, which was apparently very successful judging by the number of questions and replies.  But the big news is that on Friday and Saturday I participated in a meeting at the ACLU offices in LA with roughly 30 sex workers, activists, academics, lawyers and other allies; we did some work I think will be considered very important, but I’ll let Cris Sardina announce it in her own time and manner.  We also got some slightly heartening news from ACLU, but again, I’ll wait until they speak up about it before saying anything (and yes, I’m going to keep needling them on Twitter until then).  This picture was taken at the very end; a few people had to leave early, and some didn’t want to be in the picture, but you’ll probably see more than one face you’ll recognize.  So keep your eyes peeled for the announcement of what we created sometime in the next week or so! 

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As I’ve written several times recently, we’re seeing a lot of new wannabe sex worker allies, from politicians to journalists to regular folks without any special platform.  And though some of them are very much on-point, or recognize that they can help best by amplifying the voices of sex workers, others seem to have a lot of uninformed, dumb, stereotyped or just plain wrong ideas about sex workers, clients, our work, third parties and the demimonde in general.  So today I’d like to welcome you all to the war zone, and to clear up a few persistent errors I keep seeing (other than the ones covered here).

This is Trump’s (or the GOP’s) war on sex workers.

Nope, not even close.  The US War on Whores, like so many bad US policies, is rooted in institutionalized racism.  The very first federal anti-prostitution law was the Page Act, which was intended to harass Chinese immigrants, and though it was indeed passed under a Republican president, that president was Ulysses S Grant.  And the Congress which passed it (in 1875) was Democrat-controlled.  The War was really ramped up under the administration of another Republican, William Howard Taft, but most of the action was in Congress (Democrat-controlled again) and at the state level (party control differing by state, though all Southern states controlled by Democrats).  The first chief executive to take direct presidential action against sex workers was Woodrow Wilson (yep, a Democrat, in fact one beloved by “progressive” scholars who make a point of ignoring his tyranny and racism).  After him, the war wound down on the federal level for a few decades; the groundwork for its revival was laid down in the latter days of the Clinton administration, begun in earnest under Bush the Younger and wound up to a fever pitch under Obama.  And no, it wouldn’t have been different had Hillary Clinton been elected president; not only did she participate in the promotion of anti-sex work rhetoric as a senator and cabinet secretary, she also identifies as “feminist” and…see the next entry.  The important takeaway from this one, though, is that the War on Whores is solidly bipartisan, and most “sex trafficking” bills (thinly-disguised anti-prostitution or even anti-sex bills) have one sponsor from each party. The awful FOSTA was passed nigh-unanimously, with only one “nay” from each party.

Feminists support sex worker rights. People who don’t are social conservatives.

I wish.  In truth, most factions of feminism have been against sex work for as long as feminism has existed, and in fact feminists have usually been in bed with evangelical Christians on the matter.

It would be best if sex work were legalized and regulated.

Nope.  Every sex worker organization, human rights organization, medical organization, and academic who has actually studied sex work recognizes that decriminalization is the legal regime which produces the best results. Under legalization, sex work is still pretended to be a “crime” for which the law makes allowances; a large fraction of sex workers (over 99% in Nevada, for example) prefer to work illegally than to submit to onerous “legalization” regimes which often require licensing, background checks, confinement in brothels, and other repressive (and expensive) requirements that marginalized sex workers won’t or can’t comply with.  Furthermore, most of us don’t want amateurs putting “laws and programs” in place that are claimed to “protect sex workers and clients”.  We just want to be left the fuck alone.  The majority of our problems come from government “laws and programs”, administrated by rapist thugs. No thanks.  If you want more explanation of the differences between legalization and decriminalization, you might consult this.

Sex workers need special protections (such as the Swedish model) from violent clients.

No. Violent clients are rare, and violent men pretending to be clients are like robbers who enter a store pretending to be customers in order to rob it; both groups (and also violent and/or exploitative third parties such as “pimps”) are empowered by criminalization, and the Swedish model both infantilizes women and increases our vulnerability to violent men, of whom the majority under every single regime where sex work is even partially criminalized (ie every place but New Zealand & New South Wales) are cops.

Nobody chooses to be a sex worker.

I have actually seen this stated by people who claim to be allies; it’s a deeply misogynistic and infantilizing notion based in the fallacy that women are fragile, asexual beings for whom sex without “loooooove” is uniquely damaging.  Just because you couldn’t have sex with strangers for a living doesn’t mean I can’t, so get this out of your head.  Related: a woman’s worth does not reside in her sexual “purity”, so selling sexual services is not “selling her body”, nor is the average sex worker “traumatized” or “ruined” by our work.

We’re really pleased to see our new allies, and welcome you to supporting our movement.  But if you go around spouting garbage, you’re actually helping the prohibitionists.  Please learn the facts before speaking about sex work, and you’ll be the kind of person we cherish and celebrate rather than the kind who does more harm than good.

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Raped female dogs were not oppressed because rape was normative at dog parks.  –  Helen Wilson

It’s a shame that many adults didn’t pay enough attention to Sesame Street, else they’d have learned stuff like, “don’t mouth off on subjects about which you have insufficient information”.  The links above the video were provided by Jesse WalkerCathy ReisenwitzScott Greenfield (x2), Desiree AllianceAmy Alkon, and  Tim Cushing, in that order.

From the Archives

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Fucking over sex workers is a way [Democrats] can be bipartisan.
– Sean McElwee

Life Imitates Artifice

Prohibitionist tactics remain the same no matter what they’re trying to prohibit:

Members of Congress…held a press conference…to announce a letter signed by 56 GOP lawmakers calling for investigations into a report from discredited anti-choice group Live Action Network accusing Planned Parenthood of covering up child sexual abuse…[this] follows a familiar game plan, including coordination between an anti-choice activist group and Republican lawmakers.  This round of attacks come as the Trump administration looks to reinstate a…restriction blocking federal family planning funds from organizations that provide abortion services in the same location as Title X-funded services…The Live Action report…includes discredited and extensively edited “sting” footage originally reported in 2008 and 2011…

This laudatory article from Christian Post has a bit more meat:

Laura J. Lederer, president of Global Centurion…[fantasized] that abortions and the sex trade are “inextricably linked.”   She recently conducted a study…in which the findings revealed that approximately 30 percent the trafficking victims surveyed reported multiple abortions.  Traffickers would routinely threaten their lives and beat them if they became pregnant, Lederer said.  One survivor whose abuse was especially brutal at the hands of her trafficker “said that she had 17 abortions over the time she was trafficked, all of them at the same clinic”…

I’m honestly surprised that the “forced sex trafficking abortions” myth didn’t become more popular, given the considerable overlap between anti-whore and anti-abortion activism.

Moloch 

Is this idiotic enough yet?  Can we stop now?

…18-year-old Mariea Starr…[of] Waynesboro, Pennsylvania…was caught by another student allegedly performing oral sex on a boy in a school stairwell…Because Starr had turned 18 two months before the incident and the boy she allegedly engaged in oral sex with…was [16, school pig Matthew Gordon]…charged [Starr] with…felony unlawful contact with minors which carries a Tier II sex offender designation…for 25 years, including being photographed by Pennsylvania State Police twice a year…Gordon brought the case without oversight from the district attorney’s office or school district administration because in Pennsylvania [pigs have absolute power to inflict charges on students]…Franklin County District Attorney Matthew Fogal…reduced the charges against Starr to open lewdness.  She was sentenced to 12 months’ probation and will not be placed on the registry.  Nonetheless, Starr will graduate from high school with a criminal record, which will significantly affect her educational and job opportunities…Starr is far from the only student that Gordon…has [fed] into the criminal justice system…

Dirty Laundry

And yet the Times supports the evil of Ruhama, the Magdalene orders’ rebranding:

…220 survivors of Ireland’s notorious Magdalene Laundries convened for a state-sponsored meeting in Dublin…The laundries were filled not only with “fallen women” — prostitutes, women who became pregnant out of marriage or as a result of sexual abuse and those who simply failed to conform — but also orphans and deserted or abused children…The Magdalene Laundries were part of an interlocking system of orphanages, industrial schools, “mother and baby homes” for unwed mothers and church-run institutions in which Ireland…confined…At least 10,000 women and girls…between independence from Britain in 1922 and the closing of the last one in 1996…

The Spiral of Absurdity 

Why do reporters repeat this egregious nonsense without fact-checking?

A sting on the sex-trafficking trade in metro Atlanta netted dozens of arrests and the rescue of dozens of children forced into sexual servitude, the FBI announced…Operation Safe Summer was a collaborative effort between the FBI’s Atlanta field office and 38 law enforcement agencies…The sting ended with nearly 160 children rescued, including one as young as 3 years old, and nearly 150 arrests, convictions or sentences…

Really?  If cops had really discovered 160 kids being held hostage, this would be international news, not a minor local story.  Looks to me like some mouthpiece repeated the number of arrests as the number of “rescued children”.

Between the Ears (#407)

Velvet Swing is the first female sex aid that actually works:

…it’s not exactly surprising that [Mistress Matisse] ended up in the cannabis industry…It’s even less surprising that her first product is a weed lube, called Velvet Swing.  While weed lube—rightly touted as the first truly effective female sex aid—is nothing new, Velvet Swing is the first water-soluble version.  Which kind of means it’s the first one that really qualifies for the term weed lube.  Oil-based lubricants are…not condom safe, meaning that products like Foria or Bond Sensual Oil are effectively restricted to people in monogamous partnerships…

And naturally, Matisse uses the interview to wake up pot-business folks to sex worker rights.

Bait and Switch

Entrapment so blatant even a judge couldn’t swallow it:

…In 2014…Skagit County [Washington] detective Theresa Luvera…posted a sex solicitation on Craigslist’s casual encounters…Craigslist’s rules required all participants to be 18+. something that has undermined sex stings in the past…After some online exchanges between the detective and the defendant, the detective claimed she is underage (“almost 15 but waaay advanced”).  Even further in…the detective brought up money-for-sex.  At every step along the way but the end, the defendant seemingly made it clear he was seeking free sex with a female adult.  Eventually the defendant shows up at the designated rendezvous point baitwith the requested items…The trial court dismissed the prosecution because the “State engaged in outrageous misconduct in violation of a defendant’s due process right to fundamental fairness”…Now that Craigslist has shut down its personals section, I’m not clear where law enforcement will conduct its online sex stings…

The Crumbling Dam (#709)

Alas, Seattle “officials” think harm reduction principles only apply to drug use:

Seattle’s efforts to find a location for its…supervised injection site has turned up nothing, and now the mayor’s office is looking to go mobile.  Jeff Sakuma…point person in finding a site…[said] there are no city or county-owned buildings that meet the criteria…the $2 million the council had set aside is to low to purchase an existing building or buy land and build…a private party that could partner with the city to allow the use of their property as an injection site, “could be subject to seizure by the federal government”…As an alternative…Seattle & King County would purchase a recreation[al] vehicle and remodel it…The mobile [unit] would park either on the street or in a parking lot near a facility that would provide space for a reception area, a waiting area, restroom storage and utility space…

Worse Than I Thought (#745)

Another shitty law specifically designed to harm sex workers:

Phoenix is ramping up the penalties for [adult consensual sex] as part of the city’s ongoing effort to curb [adult consensual sex].  The City Council voted…to fine individuals convicted of soliciting sex workers $2,000 for a second offense, $2,250 for a third offense and $2,500 for each additional conviction. The mandatory fines will be in addition to jail sentences of 15-180 days.  “If we catch you … we’re going to make it as unpleasant for you as we possibly can and I don’t feel bad about that at all,” said Councilman Jim Waring, chair of the Phoenix [anti-consensual sex] Task Force…

The Widening Gyre (#764) 

Yeahno.  This still smells like a publicity stunt gone wrong:

British model Chloe Ayling has thanked those who “believed in me from the beginning” after a Polish man was jailed for kidnapping her.  Lukasz Herba held Chloe Ayling captive for six days in a farmhouse near Turin in Italy, after abducting her during what she thought would be a photo shoot last July.  He was arrested after releasing her at the British consulate, and has now been sentenced to 16 years and nine months in jail…Ayling…has always insisted she has told the truth about her captivity.  She told police she never tried to escape because she was terrified and believed Herba’s threats that he was part of a bigger criminal gang that was watching her constantly…

Pyrrhic Victory (#836)

Once men turned their thinking over to machines in the hope that this would set them free.  But that only permitted other men with machines to enslave them.”

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is quietly building what will likely become the largest database of biometric and biographic data…in the United States. The agency’s new Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology (HART) database will include multiple forms of biometrics—from face recognition to DNA, data from questionable sources, and highly personal data on innocent people.  It will be shared with federal agencies outside of DHS as well as state and local law enforcement and foreign governments…HART will chill and deter people from exercising their First Amendment protected rights to speak, assemble, and associate…face recognition makes it possible to identify and track people in real time, including at lawful political protests and other gatherings.  Other data DHS is planning to collect—including information about people’s “relationship patterns” and from officer “encounters” with the public—can be used to identify political affiliations, religious activities, and familial and friendly relationships.  These data points are also frequently colored by conjecture and bias…

Blunt Instrument (#841)

With the demise of Backpage, anti-whore pogroms turn back to low-hanging fruit:

Three indictments were unsealed…alleging massage parlors in Topeka and Lawrence were fronts for prostitution…Five people were charged in federal grand jury indictments alleging prostitution businesses generated millions of dollars in revenue.  Charges included conspiracy, interstate racketeering, bank fraud and money laundering…

Note the way pigs try to make this seem like a big-time cartel by throwing around terms like “millions”; any business that doesn’t gross at least $1 million over a five-year period is probably failing.

Safe Position

If the Democrats were smart, they’d adopt this as their official platform:

…when it comes to the rights of…sex workers…elected Democrats still overwhelmingly side with the religious right and consistently fail to consult the people most affected by their policies…Now, however, a small but growing group of…candidates are heeding the outrage of their constituents and have turned against laws that make it harder for sex workers to safely practice.  At least three Democrats running in competitive House primaries are currently campaigning on their opposition to SESTA/FOSTA, legislation that passed in April and holds websites criminally liable for any [claims of] sex trafficking that occurred on their pages…the bill effectively shut down the websites that were the safest venues for sex workers to ply their trade.  Following its passage, Backpage.com and the personals section of Craigslist immediately folded.  Their collapse has already prompted many sex workers to return to the streets, where conditions are much more dangerous…

Lack of Evidence (#848)

The recrudescence of a public health nightmare:

…If you believe that all prostitutes are forced into it against their will…then prostitutes are victims.  If you believe it’s possible that it’s just a transaction between consenting adults, then it shouldn’t be a crime at all.  If you’re just a prude determined to tell other people how to conduct their sex lives in accordance with your sniffling sensibilities, then it doesn’t matter…As advocates like Maggie McNeill have made clear, there are women who choose prostitution as their occupation without shame or excuse.  This is what they choose to do, and they don’t give a damn about your Victorian mores.  You don’t have to like it, but…the demand exists and always has, and despite your sniffling, it’s not going away.  But is the answer to force prostitutes, and their customers, to risk the choice between contracting a loathsome, if not deadly, disease or enhance their time in jail?  That’s what Allegheny County is trying to do…the possession of condoms means the difference between a summons and a custodial arrest…

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As many sex workers and clients know, having a degree and/or certification is no guarantee that a therapist will not be completely clueless about sex work.  Disinformation about our work and lives is so widespread, and the stigma against properly investigating it so entrenched, that it’s possible for someone to earn a PhD in psychology or social work or whatever without even having a passing acquaintance with anything resembling a fact on the subject.  Moreover, interest in psychology is not equivalent to a belief in human rights or a desire to promote happiness and sexual health; there are just as many control freaks dressed up as therapists as there are dressed up as teachers, doctors, clergymen, judges or any other “authority” figure you can name, and people like Melissa “13” Farley and Dominique “Body Fluids” Roe-Sepowitz are perfectly happy to design fake “studies” to “prove” whatever anti-whore belief they want to lend credence to.  So when a sex worker or client goes looking for a therapist, they’re much less likely to find an Alyxx Berg or a David Ley than they are a misogynistic quack who insists that literally no woman is capable of making pragmatic decisions about sex, and knows nothing of any of the copious research disproving myths about sex work, sex workers, clients, third parties or any other aspect of the demimonde.  Therapists well-informed about sex work are so rare, in fact, that when I see an excellent article like this one by Katie Bloomquist I experience a palpable sense of relief that there are at least some members of the psychiatric community who live in the real world rather than in some Victorian fantasyland of male sexual predators and helpless, asexual female victims:

Assuming therapy clients who pay for sex have traits of sexual narcissism and feel “entitled” to women’s bodies is based on harmful myths and stereotypes about those who pay for sex.  As systemic mental health providers, being curious about the needs the client is getting met when they pay for sexual services is key– is it an emotional need?  A physical need?  A need to express a type of sex that is not “allowed” in the relationship”…Examining the systemic function the behavior of paying for sexual services plays usually reveals more about our clients’ needs and wants in their relationships and sex lives…Conversely, the antiquated notion that women should only have sex with men “for free” is based on male entitlement to women’s bodies and grossly gendered ideas of emotional and sexual labor.  This notion is also based on gendered assumptions…that women who engage in sexual behavior in exchange for money are either deviants or victims, as the stereotype of women who have any type of sex is that their sexual behavior must be “intimate” or “emotional”.  Gendering sex in this way is inaccurate and harmful – as it often results in female-identified people being expected to provide sex and intimacy “for free” and discounts emotional and sexual labor as a valuable type of work…

This isn’t Bloomquist’s only article on the subject, and informed therapists are not as rare as they were even ten or twenty years ago.  But they’re still rare enough that when I see reality laid out like this in a short, concise article, it gives me hope that many years of hard work by activists and ethical researchers is finally beginning to have lasting cultural impact.

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Summer Solstice 2018

The apparent path of the sun reached its northernmost point at the exact moment this column posted, 10:07 UTC, marking the longest day of the year and the beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, and the shortest day of the year & first day of winter in the Southern.  May all of your plans come to fruition in the fullness of time, and Blessed Be!

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