Archive for the ‘History’ Category

The sex is ever to a soldier kind.  –  Homer, Odyssey (XIV, 246)

camp followersSince the time humans began carving out territories for ourselves, we’ve been going to war with one another.  Since the rise of centralized governments such wars have usually been conducted by a professional warrior class, and wherever the soldiers have gone whores have never been far behind.  Every army, whether on the march or in garrison, has attracted “camp followers”, non-military personnel who follow along because it’s profitable to do so.  And because armies are (and always have been) mostly made up of healthy young men, deprived of the company of young women and with nothing in particular to accomplish with their pay, many camp followers have always been prostitutes (indeed, the former is often used as a euphemism for the latter).

Up until a century ago, nobody pretended to be surprised by this or subscribed to the ridiculous delusion that it could or should be prevented somehow; the first country to imagine otherwise, the United Kingdom, first contented itself (starting in 1864) with a series of increasingly-oppressive “Contagious Disease Acts” justified as a means of preventing the spread of STIs in the military.  But even the British allowed their officers in the Great War to avail themselves of well-run “blue lamp” brothels…while denying the enlisted men prophylactics and restricting them to makeshift “red lamp” facilities staffed by near-amateurs, then wringing their collective hands at an STI rate seven times that of their German foes.  And while the French, Canadians and New Zealanders followed the same sort of pragmatic practices as the Germans did, the Americans preferred the British “order the men to be asexual” approach; New Orleans’ “Storyville” district was closed by federal order in 1917 at the urging of Josephus Daniels, Secretary of the Navy, who considered the whores a “bad influence” on the sailors at the nearby naval base.

By the time of World War II, it seemed the pragmatic approach was winning:

…The military governor of Hawaii did everything he could to make the hookers of Honolulu happy; Hitler ordered that his troops be issued blow-up sex dolls; the American authorities distributed condoms; and the Japanese resorted to the abominable “comfort women” scheme (which was also used in reverse form, with Japanese whores for American troops, during the first year of the occupation)…illustrations of feminine pulchritude…brightened barracks, bunks, tents and even the noses of bombers.  On British planes, those paintings were often of Jane, a shapely Daily Mirror comic-strip character who would always somehow manage to lose her clothes by the last panel, usually in some incredibly unlikely fashion;nose art In the Mood Christabel Leighton-Porter, the model upon whom she was based, also posed for nude photos which were literally dropped in bundles to the troops to increase morale…

But this swing toward rationality was short-lived, and soon after the war the world lost its collective mind on the subject:

…The Vietnamese and Ouled-Nail prostitutes who served as nurses during the siege of Dien Bien Phu have almost been erased from history, as have the women of Honolulu’s tolerated brothels who served the same function after Pearl Harbor and entertained the Navy for the rest of the war.  The French like to pretend that women who survived by providing services to the occupying Nazis were somehow different from the others who were forced to deal with them; the Japanese still deny the extent or even the existence of the military brothels in which they enslaved (mostly Korean) women for the “comfort” of their troops.  And the American military establishment continues to demand that its men avoid the company of professionals no matter how much this policy angers the host country or how many sexual assaults result from it, thus prioritizing the wishes of prudish fanatics above the health and happiness of the troops of both sexes…

There is no way to tell how long this will go on, but sooner or later this neo-Victorian prudishness must end; things go in cycles, and eventually the sex-negative phase we’ve been in for over a generation now will be discarded by younger people eager to do things differently.  But as military organizations themselves are also changing due to the advance of technology, what will that mean for sex workers?  Only time will tell, but I feel perfectly safe in declaring that as long as military organizations exist, they will continue to have a deep and close relationship with whores, whether those in power approve or not.

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The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.  –  Thomas Jefferson

sequoia wildfireThe quote which forms today’s epigram is probably a familiar one, but few people are familiar with the larger paragraph in which it is embedded.  Jefferson was referring to Shay’s Rebellion (arguably the single strongest motivator which caused the weak central government of the Articles of Confederation to be replaced by the strong one established by the US Constitution) when he wrote:

God forbid we should ever be 20 years without such a rebellion…If [the people] remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty…what country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance?

Every November 5th I call for a rededication of the holiday from one in which rebels are burned in effigy to one in which tyrants are burned in effigy instead; in most of those essays I have quoted what I wrote the first time, words which echo Jefferson’s sentiments expressed above:

Governments need to be reminded (at least annually if not constantly) that they only hold power by the sufferance of all the people, not merely the majority, and that the overthrow of any government by a disgruntled minority is always a possibility.  I would like to see most if not all politicians and their minions paying for their power and privilege by being forced to live in a constant state of nervous anxiety; maybe then fewer would choose that path and more would concern themselves with keeping all the citizenry happy rather than merely pleasing barely enough of the population to keep themselves in office.

Every time a cop murders some unarmed person, pig apologists sonorously remind us how dangerous police work is (which it isn’t, by the by), and how tewwified the poor widdle coppies are, boo hoo hoo.  To which I reply:  They aren’t nearly terrified enough.  I want them to be so fucking terrified that they can’t sleep at night, so utterly frightened that they don’t dare leave their fucking stations.  I want them so scared they piss themselves on a daily basis and quit long before they can develop the kind of swagger that lets them go around beating, robbing, raping and murdering without fear of repercussions.  I want them to have nightmares of surveillance cameras recording their every move, and I want televised trials of bad cops every fucking day to serve the same function as a coyote’s hide nailed to a fence post by a rancher.  Tyrants and their thug-enforcers alike deserve to be burned in effigy, to be cursed and spat upon every time they venture into public, to be (figuratively) crucified for the slightest abuse of power.  We make government positions attractive to sociopaths by heaping accolades and privileges upon them; instead, those positions need to be made so repellent that nobody will stay in them for very long.  The price of power needs to be very high indeed to prevent exactly what the United States has turned into: a fascist police state whose rulers can do anything they like to the ruled without any consequences at all.

It’s much, much too late for this to happen in the US; no decaying empire in the history of the world has ever been revived once it got to the level of corruption this country reached a generation ago, and things have grown much worse since then.  Two years ago I wrote:

…old, decaying things must be cleared away – sometimes forcibly – in order to make way for new, younger and often better things.  Old people must pass on to make room for new children; dilapidated buildings must be demolished to pave the way for new construction.  And old, moribund governments which serve only the entrenched and wealthy must be removed if we are to build new ones which better serve all of the people and protect minorities from oppression by both majorities and other, more privileged minorities…

Like it or not, this is the future Americans face; our rulers have made peaceful change impossible, therefore violent change has become inevitable.  The system will be burned to the ground, whether we want it to or not; I don’t really want to see it, but if I live to be as old as Maman that will be a forlorn hope, as I don’t actually believe the system can survive another 40 years the way things are going.  The fire is coming, but as The Onion satirically reminds us, that is not a bad thing:

…a study…found that regular, controlled Washington, D.C. wildfires are crucial to the restoration of a healthy political environment.  “Periodic blazes that destroy sections of the Beltway region are a natural part of the political cycle and play a key role in maintaining democratic balance,” read the study in part, which explained that occasional wildfires of mild to moderate intensity are the most important and effective mechanism for clearing out old federal agencies so that new ones can take their place and flourish.  “Although such fires are often considered a hazard, without them government would quickly become dense, overrun, and impenetrable, stifling political diversity and inhibiting the germination of new ideas”…The study concluded that attempts to suppress the wildfires would likely only lead to the occurrence of far more powerful blazes in the future capable of causing significant, permanent damage to the government’s branches.

In reality, the entrenched establishment has prevented those moderate fires; the big one which will cause permanent damage is coming.  We can only hope that the ashes left behind are fertile soil for something better, leaner and healthier.Washington burning

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Mainstream feminism rejects sex work as an acceptable choice.  So…I don’t describe myself as an adherent to a political philosophy that wants to eliminate me.  –  Mistress Matisse

Five Women in Whitechapel 

Almost certainly not:

They All Love Jack: Busting the Ripper [is] more than 800 pages in length…Michael Maybrick was a hugely popular singer and composer in the Victorian era, who is virtually forgotten today – for reasons that Robinson believes are no accident…Maybrick was close friends with Sir Arthur Sullivan and the painter Frederick Leighton, among many other prominent public figures.  Both Sullivan and Leighton were Freemasons, as was Michael Maybrick.  He was…on the Supreme Grand Council of Freemasons, whose members also included the Prince of Wales…Maybrick was 47 at the time of the murders; a bachelor and, [author Bruce] Robinson believes, homosexual…

Yes, it’s a new version of the Masonic theory.

Above the Law rapist cop Jeff Sowers

When you’re a cop, rape becomes “official misconduct”:

A [Tennessee cop]…who resigned amid allegations of [raping prisoners]…pleaded guilty…to one count of official misconduct…Judge John Dugger sentenced Jeff Sowers to 18 months in jail…Dugger denied a request by Sowers’ attorneys for judicial diversion, which would have allowed for Sowers’ record to be expunged after his sentence…

The Pygmalion Fallacy

Such a lot of stupid writing on something that not only doesn’t exist, but will never exist in the way and on the timescale these idiots are wanking to the fantasy of:

…a recent report claims intimacy between robots and humans will be more common than that between two people by 2050.  The work, written by futurologist Dr. Ian Pearson, purports that engaging in virtual sex acts will be as prevalent in 2030 as our engagement with porn today, and that the majority of people will own sex toys that employ an alternate reality in some way come 2035…

Storyville (#139)

Over the last 150 years, rights for sex workers have…diminished, according to West Virginia University journalism professor Alison Bass.  In her book Getting Screwed: Sex Workers and the Law…Bass surveys the history of laws regulating prostitution in America and abroad.  In the past and today, Bass finds, sex workers have been marginalized by stigma that portrays them as immoral, dangerous, even diseased figures. B ut while the stigma hasn’t changed, the laws have—in many cases…for the worse…

Dutch Threat

Lawheads are completely unable to comprehend the bottleneck effect:

Entrepreneurs in Amsterdam who want to open a brothel must speak at least one common language with the sex workers they rent space to, according to a…ruling handed down by the European Court of Justice.  The court [claimed] the decision as…a way to guarantee the safety of the women, [reduce] human trafficking, and…help prevent pimping…and [pretended it] was…not discriminatory in any way…the court also noted the Council of State’s notion that the seeming overreach in authority was meant as a protection of public order, and that being able to converse with a sex worker allows a brothel owner the possibility of stopping child prostitution…

Dysphemisms Galore 

Because nobody would care about a headline reading, “Man minds his daughter while mother works”:

A Michigan man held his 9-month-old daughter in a motel room while the baby’s mother had sex with another man for money…Derohn Wilburn…is charged with…felony promoting prostitution and misdemeanor child endangering…Melissa Coleman…is charged with misdemeanor child endangering and prostitution…police released the baby to a family member.  She was unharmed…

Played Out

I don’t know who Robert Fullinwider is, but I thank him for taking the time to read through Moran’s drek so as to be able to rip it to shreds:

…Moran is not content to offer her particular life-story…She also sets herself up as the Universal Prostitute, a woman whose experiences define prostitution and trump the “experiences” of anyone else — sex worker, academic, or otherwise — who views prostitution differently than she does. She is not content to let her story speak for itself but instructs the reader on the proper conclusions to draw, and engages in arguments based on her experiences and “research”…Moran writes: prostitutes are “coerced” into prostitution (pp. 49, 227); they have no “choice” (p. 161); they have no “free will” (p. 201); they act out of “desperation” and “destitution” (pp. 43, 96)…Moran…[claims] she didn’t consent to prostitution because “it is not possible to consent to a lifestyle you don’t comprehend” (p. 50).  Yes it is.  People do it all the time.  “I didn’t know marriage was going to be like this!”  “I didn’t know how stressful being a parent would be!”  “I didn’t know military life would be this tough!”  [She claims] she didn’t consent to prostitution because she wasn’t an adult and children can’t consent (pp. 50-51).  Yes they can.  Society frames laws that say people below certain ages can’t “consent” – to contracts, to mortgages, to sexual relations, and the like – but the “no consent” here is a legal fiction…a sixteen year-old girl who finds prostitution utterly repulsive, revolting, and disgusting, and who is “desperate to escape,” yet who passes up on an opportunity to get out of the trade because she’s unwilling to be bound by any rules, is a person who’s made a choice— a bad choice, to be sure, but a real choice…Moran…speaks of allowing herself to be coerced (an odd locution) into prostitution by her boyfriend.  What did her boyfriend do?  Did he beat her?  Did he threaten her?  No, he “suggested” that she turn tricks; he “encouraged” her (pp. 47, 186)…Moran seems to think you haven’t acted freely unless you are as happy as a lark with what you’ve chosen (p. 227); that you are not self-determining unless you are “controlling the totality of your life” (p. 175).  These are just fundamentally unserious engagements with the notions of freedom and self-determination.  We always act under constraints, we never control the totality of our lives, and we are often unhappy with what we’ve chosen, just less unhappy than with the alternatives…

Rooted in Racism (#429)

Sweden’s “liberal reputation” is bullshit:

…a recent report by the United Nations…concludes that a rising level of racist violence and “Afrophobic” hate crimes in Sweden are “an extensive social problem”.  “There continues to be a general Swedish self-perception of being a tolerant and humane society, which makes it difficult to accept that there could be structural and institutional racism faced by people of African descent,” says the report…The country’s official [lie] of equality and respect for human rights “blinds” it to the racism faced by African-Swedes, it says.  Hate crimes against the 200,000 or so black people…in Sweden increased by more than 40% between 2008 and 2014…with more than a fifth of incidents last year involving violence…

On the Simultaneous Having and Eating of Cake (#505)

On Working It, the magazine at the center of the stripper labor rights movement in Portland:

…Each magazine brings together about 50 pages of writing and art by sex workers from around the country.  In addition to permanent sections including “Client Hall of Shame” “Best/Worst Tip$” “Tales from your Shift” and art, each volume of Working It has a theme…After Danzine went dormant, [Matilda] Bickers and Portland’s sex worker activism also went relatively dormant.  [SWOP] took over Danzine’s bad date list.  In 2005, Bickers and her friends tried to start a dancer union — “but that failed miserably, and I was really burnt out for a while,” Bickers says.  In the following years, Bickers worked at strip clubs and…graduated from Portland State University.  “I kind of never stopped doing sex worker activism,” Bickers says…

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic (#550)

The history of the concept of sex addiction is a complex, somewhat contentious one…I’ve often cited the concept back to the initial writings of Patrick Carnes…Now, three New Zealand historians have contributed a wealth of astounding, rich and often surprising information to the issue…Sex Addiction, A Critical History…represents a remarkable detailing of the troubling, often hidden, history of this concept…Reay and his coauthors found powerful writings by Hatterer from the 1960’s and 70’s, where he blamed a sexually addictive process for sexual excesses. Powerfully, they detail [Dr. Lawrence] Hatterer’s disturbing history of treating homosexuality as an illness, and the way he treated homosexuality “like an alcoholic”…in his writings…from its inception, the concept of sex addiction has been applied to treatment of homosexuality as an illness…

If You Want Something Done Right…

I have the most awesome friends:

…Mistress Matisse…heard about Heather’s experience and was determined to help.  Through other sex workers she tracked Heather down, called her and booked a flight to West Virginia.  She showed up at Heather’s door…organized fund-raising, lined up medical assistance and connected Heather with nonprofit help.  This isn’t a new role for Matisse.  She’s worked as a sex worker in various capacities since she was 19.  But as she’s gotten established in Seattle, she says, “I have gotten to the point in my career where it is in many ways self-sustaining.”  As a result, she’s had more time to devote to activism.  Matisse was there to help Heather because she’s made it her business to help sex workers who are in crises.  I talked to Matisse about her activism, her work with Heather and why sex workers are the best ones to help sex workers…

Amnesty At Last

Here’s an NPR show which purports to present a “discussion” of the Amnesty International position statement on decriminalization, but which was designed from the get-go to promote prohibitionist propaganda by stacking the panel three to one (Swanee Hunt, Rachel Moran and Andrea Powell) vs. Maxine Doogan.  Unfortunately for the antis, Maxine had logic and facts on her side and acquitted herself quite well.  What you won’t hear:  Sol Finer of SWOP-Seattle called into the live show and Moran absolutely lost her mind, screaming and shouting at Sol in such a clearly unbalanced manner that the tirade was edited out of the archived version of the show.  So much for NPR’s commitment to the truth.

New Excuse (#576)

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Thargelia…made her onslaughts upon the most influential men [of her time].  –  Plutarch

Thargelia by Victor Tchetchet (1930s)In these harlotographies, I try to alternate between modern ones (who died in the 20th or 21st centuries) and those of earlier times.  Unfortunately, even those of earlier times tend to have lived in the Renaissance or later; a precious few date to medieval or classical times, and none at all from earlier.  As I wrote in my biography of Thaïs,

…it seems as though Rhodopis of the 6th century BCE may be about as early as I’m able to go; her life story is a mixture of fact, surmise and legend, and though we know the names of earlier whores…they are largely inhabitants of the sphere of legend.  This is really not so surprising when one considers that we know little more than the names and dates of most kings from earlier times, and virtually nothing about anyone else unless they had some impact on the affairs of kings…

Most of the hetaerae I have discussed lived in or near the time of Alexander, and a couple (Aspasia and Lais) were born in the 5th century BCE.  As Thargelia flourished only half a century or thereabouts after Rhodopis, y’all probably won’t be surprised at how little is known about her, but since what is known is quite fascinating, I wanted to share it with y’all.  Like Aspasia, she was from Miletus; like Lais, she is sometimes considered to be two different women with the same name; and like Thaïs, her claim to fame is bound up in the story of the Greco-Persian conflicts that dominated the 5th and 4th centuries BCE.  But while Thaïs gleefully witnessed the collapse of the Persian Empire from the train of its conqueror, Thargelia was born a Persian subject and worked to sway Greek opinion toward the Empire when the Wars were just beginning.

Here’s what we know with a fair degree of certainty about Thargelia:  she was an exceptional beauty with an exceptional brain and devastating powers of persuasion who managed to bring more than a few of her powerful and influential lovers over to the Persian side.  Her name is also the name of an important spring festival of Apollo and Artemis, celebrated in prehistoric times (like so many ancient Greek festivals were) with human sacrifice; it probably had the same sort of ring in her culture that the names “May” or “Easter” might have in ours.  Hippias of Elis claimed that she had been married fourteen times, but this seems highly unlikely; he may have garbled reports about the number of important clients whose support she won for Darius.  Other accounts claimed that she married Antiochus, ruler of Thessaly, and ruled for thirty years after his death; the latter is known to be false because it was Antiochus himself who ruled for 30 years, and he was succeeded by Thorax of Larissa.  She was eventually assassinated by an anti-Persian politician from Argos whom she had used her influence to imprison.

It’s such a pitifully meager amount of information, yet it’s enough to inspire the imagination: given a few more years to work, who knows how many great men she would have lured into the Persian camp?  And had that happened, Darius’ invasion of Greece might have gone very differently…and with it the entirety of European history.  In a world where that unnamed Argive had been killed rather than merely imprisoned, Thargelia might have been the most influential whore in history instead of a mere footnote.

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Human trafficking is what we call it when women make choices that make us uncomfortable.  –  Cathy Reisenwitz Hiram Johnson

Here We Go Again

In 1913, former California Gov. Hiram Johnson signed the California Red-Light Abatement Act, outlawing bordellos…advocates promised the law would stymie the “scattering of the evil throughout the residence district…[and wipe] out the unclean profits of those who prey upon fallen women.”  Voters approved the measure by a 53.3 percent majority.  As for those “fallen women,” their jobs became more treacherous.  You see, the Abatement Act…just made it so they could no longer operate indoors without breaking the law.  As bad and exploitative as some bordellos were before the Act passed, the street only magnified these dangers and presented new ones…More than a century later, an escalating campaign to crack down on online classified portals is fanning a similar migration…activists say…


An Orpington dominatrix has defended her secret fetish dungeon…after neighbours complained to police…From the outside it is a large, detached home on a quiet, leafy street but inside is a thriving fetish establishment…Neighbours…[claim] to have heard “whipping” and “screaming” coming from the address.  But the dungeon’s operator…”Mistress Evilyne”, said the business is legal, she is registered with the HMRC and no sexual services are offered…A tennis club spokesman [said]…”We host Crofton School for coaching and we are concerned the children might be exposed to something that they shouldn’t see at their age”…the police have not found any evidence of illegal activity…

Out of Control (The Camel’s Nose) 

Well, this is different:

An NYPD sergeant with the Organized Crime Control Bureau has been suspended, but not arrested, after throwing semen at a co-worker…Sergeant Michael Iscenko, 54, had previously told the victim, a civilian administrative aide in her 60s, that he liked her…[she] had just left the ladies restroom and was heading back to her office when Iscenko crept up behind her and threw something on the woman’s leg and her shoe…The woman…immediately filed a complaint with her supervisors, who sent a sample of the substance out to be tested, it turned out to be semen…people who know the sergeant…[said] they wouldn’t have pegged him as a pervert, because of the way he dresses…

A Procrustean Bed

“Justice system” destroys woman’s life for giving a friend a ride:

[An Ohio] woman convicted of promoting prostitution and labeled a sex offender after she drove a friend to what turned out to be a prostitution sting was granted judicial release after serving about seven months of an 18-month sentence.  But Aimee Hart…is continuing with an appeal of her…conviction because she doesn’t believe she should have to register as a sex offender…“I personally feel that they perverted the intention of the law to fit my circumstances,” Hart said…

Yeah, they do that.

Childish Things

Cathy Reisenwitz on the psychology behind support for prohibition:

…you’re at brunch with a pretty normal person.  But better educated and smarter than normal, smarter than you, in fact.  But they’ve not heard that a conservative estimate for the average age at which women enter the trade is 25.  They don’t know that even underage prostitutes start at an average of 15-16, and only 15% of teen hookers (themselves a small minority of all sex workers) enter at an age below 13.  They’ve never had Maggie McNeill in their living room.  In fact they’ve never talked to a person they knew was a sex worker.  So why do smart, well-educated people buy into the sex trafficking moral panic?  And the larger question, why do we condescend to sex workers by assuming they can’t consent to sex work?…

An Example To the West (#343)

Of course Reuters is too mired in American carceral thinking to see any of this as a problem, but this report on police responses to “human trafficking” in Thailand gives a few clues as to what an unholy mess the attempt to stop people from migrating to work has created.

A Year Later

Canada has a problem.  Her highest court ruled in 2013 that prostitutes have a constitutional right to work, but federal officials still do all they can to impose prohibition…This ad hoc law is likely unconstitutional as well…prohibitionists are driven by moralism, as opposed to policy outcomes and concern for the wishes of prostitutes.  This becomes apparent as they frame all prostitution as coercive and parrot the [myth] that Canadians enter the industry on average between the ages of 12 and 14…when it comes to practical enforcement, prohibition efforts in the United States have seen prostitutes more likely to have “freebie” sex with officers than get arrested.  Further, sites such as SugarDaddie.com...beg the question as to when dating ends and prostitution begins (as pointed out on the Bob Zadek Show with Maggie McNeill, a call girl turned blogger…

Fever Dream (#541)

Readers over 40:  in your youth, could you have imagined living in a country where statements like this were made with a straight face?

Just a few years ago, Tennessee was scrambling to combat sex trafficking.  Now…there have been 36 new laws in the past four years, including…money for more special agents assigned to investigate sex traffickers for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.  And for the first time, TBI will have the power to conduct electronic wiretapping…Until now, that kind of surveillance has only been allowed for the most serious murders, drug dealing, and gang crimes…Margie Quin…says…“With the advent of websites that are strictly geared toward selling women and children for sex, being able to combat that through electronic authority will be, I think, very beneficial”…

Seizing Power 

This article on the Backpage credit card issue doesn’t break any ground readers will find unfamiliar, but the more mainstream articles on the topic the better.  And besides, it quotes me!

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My country, ’tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing;
Land where my fathers died,
Land of the pilgrims’ pride,
From ev’ry mountainside
Let freedom ring!
 –  Samuel Francis Smith

homeland-securityI’m always a little astonished when I encounter someone, online or off, who says something like “The United States is becoming a police state” or “may become a police state” or the like; I can only assume it’s because the realization that what was once called “The Land of the Free” has been a full-blown police state for over a decade now is too terrible for many people’s minds to accept.  The term “police state” is not a well-defined one, but I think most people would agree that such regimes are characterized by extensive surveillance of the population; a huge number of arbitrary laws punishable by disproportionate penalties; a slow and arbitrary court system in which the outcome of important cases is essentially pre-ordained; a requirement that ordinary citizens carry identity documents everywhere and present them to officials on demand (“papers, please!”); a bloated police force whose powers are limited only by the imaginations of officials and whose members are able to inflict violence upon anyone they choose without any consequences whatsoever or recourse of any kind for the victims; and a powerful bureaucracy which regularly violates the laws which supposedly constrain it and ignores due process when it proves inconvenient.  For good measure, let’s throw in worshipful reverence of officials and a media which largely parrots every press release those officials come out with, and I think you’d be hard-pressed to come up with some way in which the US isn’t a police state.

One might be tempted to be somewhat pessimistic about the US’s descent into naked fascism; after all, the country was founded on the right of the individual to be free of tyranny, and our present governmental system practices nearly every one of the abuses Jefferson and Company complained about in the Declaration of Independence.  But this is nothing new; the Roman Republic was founded on anti-royalist principles, and yet the Roman Empire which replaced that republic was as bad as any monarchy.  Nor was it obvious when the tyranny replaced the republic, except in retrospect; Romans went right on thinking of their country as the same one their ancestors had loved and died for.  Many Americans who would recognize that another country had changed beyond recognition are blinded by the myth of “American exceptionalism”, the irrational belief that the United States is somehow magically different from any other country in history…you know, kind of like how kings ruled by Divine right because they were just so much better than other human beings.  This is not fact or even politics; it’s religion, an irrational faith held in defiance of mountains of proof to the contrary.  “Freedom” has become nothing but a worship word, and the flag is venerated like an idol; cops are the priests and politicians the bishops, and those who violate – or even question – the holy Laws are dealt with like heretics.

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How infinitely one of Your own Sex ador’d You, and that, among all the numerous Conquest, Your Grace has made over the Hearts of Men, Your Grace had not subdu’d a more intire Slave.  –  Aphra Behn

Some women are whores out of necessity, some by circumstance and some by nature, but Hortense Mancini carried whoredom in her blood.  She was an especially wild, bold and lusty whore from a family of whores, and a number of her descendants followed in her footsteps.  The fact that she, her family, her clients and her lovers were all noble as well does not change her essential whorishness, as we shall see; it did, however, ensure that her assignations, adventures and escapades would be recorded for posterity.

Hortense (or as her father called her, Ortensia) was born in Rome on June 6th, 1646; she was the fourth of five daughters borne by Girolama Mazzarini to her husband, Baron Lorenzo Mancini, who dabbled in astrology and black magic and died rather suddenly in 1650.  Fortunately, Giraloma’s older brother Giulio had joined the clergy, become active in politics, and risen to the rank of both cardinal and chief minister to Louis XIV of France (where he was known as Cardinal Mazarin); she therefore packed up her brood and moved them to Paris, where she hoped their powerful uncle would find them rich and influential husbands.  And that he did; Laure married Louis de Bourbon, duc de Vendôme; Olympe married Eugène-Maurice of Savoy-Carignano; Marie was the first love of the young Louis XIV, but was married off to Prince Lorenzo Colonna of Italy; and Marie Anne married Maurice Godefroy de la Tour d’Auvergne, duc de Bouillon.  But Hortense was the most beautiful and most favored by her uncle, so it’s unsurprising he turned down the suit of the penniless Stuart who was only a few months later restored to the throne of England as Charles II.  The cardinal then offered Charles a dowry of 5 million livres to make Hortense Queen of England, but Charles refused; this, however, does not mean he never got to bed the girl he was so enamored with; he just had to wait a few years.

Three months before her 15th birthday, Hortense was married off to Armand Charles de La Porte, Duc de La Meilleraye, one of the richest men in Europe; unfortunately, his miserliness and prudishness matched his wealth and he was also mentally ill.  Among his more bizarre behaviors were searching Hortense’s room for hidden lovers before locking her in at night, having his maidservants’ front teeth knocked out to make them unattractive, and vandalizing art to eradicate the genitals of human figures.  But this doesn’t mean he was uninterested in sex with his wife; within five years she had borne him four children.  Still, one can only imagine the dreariness of sex with such a man; sometime in 1666 she began a lesbian affair with Sidonie de Courcelles, and when he discovered them he sent them both to a convent (from which they escaped after tormenting the nuns for a while).  Finally, her brother helped her to escape her awful husband just a week after her 22nd birthday; he hired an escort to take her to Rome, where she moved in with her sister Marie (now the Princess Colonna).  King Louis was still very fond of Marie, and as a favor to her he granted Hortense an income of 24,000 livres.  She also became the mistress of the Duke of Savoy, whom her uncle had turned down as a suitor ten years before; he gave her a house, where she lived until his death in 1675.  At that point, two things happened:  the Duke’s jealous widow evicted her, and her husband managed to get a judgment freezing all of her income, including the royal pension.

Hortense was desperate; she only knew one way to get money, and nobody wanted to cross her powerful and vindictive husband.  In stepped Ralph Montagu, the English ambassador to France; he secured her passage to England (she made the voyage in male drag) and an introduction to her former suitor, Charles II…and Hortense did the rest.  By the summer of 1676 she had displaced Louise de Kerouaille as chief mistress, securing thereby an income of £4,000 (English money, inaccessible to her husband).  His Majesty did not much mind her lesbian affair with Anne, his 16-year-old daughter by Lady Castlemaine (except for the time they had a fencing match in their nightgowns in St. James’s Park); her affair with Louis I of Monaco, however, was another thing entirely.  He even cut off her income, and though he relented on the money less than three days later, he did not restore her to her position (which was again taken up by Louise de Kerouaille).

History does not have much to say about Hortense’s lovers after the King, except for a lesbian affair with the writer Aphra Behn.  After Charles’ death her income was continued by his brother James II, whose wife Mary was her cousin; even after James was deposed in 1689, Queen Mary II continued to support her (though at a lower level).  She spent her time running a salon in her home, and died of drink (or suicide, depending on whom one believes) on November 9th, 1699; she was 53 years old.  Her long-estranged husband then added a creepy epilogue to her story by claiming her body and taking it around France for months before finally allowing it to be buried in the tomb of her uncle, Cardinal Mazarin.

Back in the first paragraph I mentioned that several of Hortense’s descendants followed in her footsteps.  Her son, Paul Jules de La Porte, duc Mazarin et de La Meilleraye, had two children, a son and a daughter.   The son, Guy de la Porte, had a great-granddaughter who married Prince Honoré IV of Monaco in 1777 and thus became the ancestress of the current Prince.  But the daughter, Armande, married Louis de Mailly, Prince d’Orange and became the mother of five beautiful daughters, of which four would later become mistresses to King Louis XV of France; she herself became the mistress of the King’s chief minister, the Duc de Bourbon.  For some women, whoredom is only skin deep; some have it in their blood, and others are whores to the bone.  But Hortense Mancini was a whore down to her genes, and I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that many of her descendants are still plying the trade in one way or another to this day.

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