Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘History’ Category

We have been so brainwashed by talk of trafficking that we imagine we see it everywhere.  –  Lenore Skenazy

Enabling Oppression

It’s hard to get more vile and disgusting than white prohibitionists using the names of dead black icons to support campaigns of oppression that disproportionately affect black people.  Most of this is a typical Julie Bindel smear screed, referring to sex worker rights advocates as “pimps” and “pro-prostitution pressure groups” (Bindel, you may remember, is the one who says Brooke Magnanti and I, along with Amnesty International and a corpse, are the heads of the imaginary “pimp lobby”).  But here’s the money quote, edited for clarity and truth:

…The [prohibitionists fantasize about an imaginary Utopia]…free from prostitution.  Many are keen to campaign for the introduction of a law to criminalise the demand.  “These men [sex buyers] have a comfortable life,” says one of the women, “after they [complete a mundane business transaction] they go back to their homes and their wives.  We want them to be exposed [as people who conduct business transactions]”…”Mandela would understand,” says [one prohibitionist] “I seriously believe that if we had gone to him …he would have [supported police violence against peaceful people having consensual sex]”…

The Notorious Badge

I’d be interested in hearing what actual sex workers think of this show:

Somewhere in the vast terrain between the hooker-as-fairytale-princess fantasy of Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman and the prim, grim Victorian sociology of Stephen Crane’s Maggie: A Woman of the Streets lies Harlots, Hulu’s odd but engrossing new drama about life inside an 18th-century London brothel.  Screenwriter Moira Buffini, one of the five British women who produce, write, and direct Harlots, said in unveiling the project that the goal was “everything from the whore’s-eye view.”  The result is that the women in Harlots are neither glamorous courtesans nor broken flowers, and their depiction is never erotic…

A Narrow View (#25)

Mark Draughn on the hypocrisy of arresting underage sex workers under guise of “helping” them:

Is it really necessary to send cops with guns to forcibly “help” people?  And even if you think it’s necessary to coerce child victims of sex trafficking into accepting social services, can’t you do it without giving them a criminal record?…There are better alternatives. We know this because non-governmental organizations like the Sex Work Outreach Project (SWOP) don’t have arrest powers, and they’ve been doing outreach to sex workers for years…Here in Chicago, the Young Women’s Empowerment Project spent years studying ways to help young women in the sex trade, and they had some useful observations, especially about what they call institutional violence

Profound Ignorance 

This is at least less harmful than the usual ignorance-based sex work “study”, though no less stupid:

To get a feel for what a certain dollar amount can get someone seeking escort services, we averaged 277 images of Las Vegas escorts using face-morphing software and organized them by price point…beauty is not only affected by our personal preferences but is also shaped by our culture…When looking at the women in our composite comparison, the most expensive female escort seems to have more refined features…She also has lighter skin and looks much younger than the woman charging $10 to $99 per hour for her services…

More beautiful escorts are more in demand and can therefore charge more. Gee, who’d have guessed?

Micromanagement

Please, ladies, don’t be so stupid as to give cops evidence they can & will use against you:

Sara Katsanis, a bioethicist at Duke University…was surprised to hear of a program initiated by Dallas [cops] to collect DNA from truck-stop sex workers to solve hypothetical future crimes…Voluntarily give a DNA sample now, the program promised, and if it’s your dead body, at least your family will know.  Can sex workers truly consent when it’s police doing the asking?…The program, which was first proposed in 2007, had done a very small survey and found women universally willing to contribute their DNA with no major concerns.  “So the ethicist [part of me] said, ‘Oh really, no concerns?,’’ recounted Katsanis.  “And who asked?  Oh the police”…So she and a colleague, Jennifer Wagner, went down to Dallas, to talk to the sex workers themselves, without [Porky Pig] in the room…

Case Study

Dysphemisms and gawking abound in UK articles about sex work:

A Fulham brothel operator and head of a London sex empire is facing jail after he admitted a series of crimes including making money from prostitution and human trafficking.  David Archer…pleaded guilty…to running a string of brothels, trafficking women and controlling their profiles on adult websites…Detective Sergeant John Kirby [drooled]…”Archer exploited vulnerable women to build his lucrative empire in the sex industry over a number of years…once he lured the women, they were instructed to pose for explicit photos, and in some cases forced to engage in sexual activity…Neighbours describe seeing women as young as 18 “dancing naked in the garden” before [one] brothel was shut…

Nice While It Lasted

What could possibly go wrong?

Senior council figures have backed plans to give officials the power to dish out £100 [trial-free] fines for drinking, begging and urinating…[the due-process-free penalties are to be euphemistically labeled] Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)…the orders would allow police…and council officers to issue instant £100 fines for anyone [they claim committed] one of several anti-social behaviour offences in the areas…deputy council leader…Clyde Loakes [lied]…“This is not an attack on homeless people…this is not infringing human rights”…A third PSPO, aimed at curbing street prostitution, has also been proposed for the Lea Bridge area of Leyton…

Signs 

This woman calls bruises and rope burns “signs of trafficking”. I call them “signs of a fun evening”:

…the Southwest Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force recently unveiled two training mannequins that exhibit common physical signs of human trafficking, including bruising, rope burns and possessive tattoos, said Cathy Knauf…She said the tattoos are usually not professionally done and say “Daddy” or are a UPC bar code.  “It shows ownership by the trafficker that this is his property,” she said.  She said the task force started collecting money for Freethem Ink, which will pay to have a survivor’s tattoo changed into something beautiful or removed…

Lies Piled on Lies

Nebraska is vying with Washington, Arizona and Florida to be the state which produces the stupidest “sex trafficking” nonsense:

Seven score and 14 years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, a different form of slavery lingers in the United States…human trafficking…ensnares children as young as 13 in the sex industry…Glen Parks [a pig mouthpiece, bloviated while secretly masturbating]…“It’s treating someone like you own them, like they’re an object”…The [pig] who pulls over a suspect transporting three inappropriately dressed and unrelated teenage girls, needs [to lock the girls up]…he said…“We can train motel workers to spot the signs of sex trafficking.  These victims get sick more than most, and must be taken to a clinic or a hospital, where if nurses are trained to spot the signs they can [rat them out]”…Connie Lofgreen, a sex addiction [profiteer] in Omaha, [pearl-clutched] that pornography is a “theater” of trafficking…“You don’t know when you look at pornography if that person is participating as a willing participant.  You don’t know that they’re not a minor or that they haven’t been trafficked in from another country.”  Lofgreen said an entire generation of men has developed an addiction to pornography, and that like all addicts they need increasingly stronger doses, a process that sometimes causes them to drift into child pornography…

Under Every Bed (#669)

We’ve heard all these lies before; this is only notable for the sheer density of bullshit, and the fact that it’s claimed to take place in a state with a smaller population than Greater Seattle:

Amber Lawrence…travels…Iowa [for] Teens Against Human Trafficking…trying to protect young people from being “Taken” down a heartbreaking road in which life expectancy is a stark seven years…an educational exhibit…features art of young women in a cage, an empty pair of silver high heels, and an abandoned teddy bear symbolizing loss of innocence…as a college freshman at 19, she had been the target of an attempted human trafficking incident…

An “attempted human trafficking incident”.  You know, like in “The Widening Gyre” below.

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (#714)

Politicians the world over promise the same evil, impossible things, and stupid people just keep believing them:

With mascots dressed as smiling fish and a police rock band, Thai authorities launched a “Happy Zone”…to [sanitize] the image of a city [known] for sex tourism…the…sex…industry…remains economically vital while being officially excoriated…The latest of many crackdowns in Pattaya happened…last month…A handful of bars were raided.  Bar owners and working women were fined.  Scared to venture out, tourists…stayed in hotels.  Street vendors and shops saw sales tumble.  The money which flows to all levels in the city – including law enforcement agencies – fell off.  The Happy Zone approach is a softer way to try to [pretend] that something is being done…Apichai Krobpetch, chief of Pattaya city police, [said] “We will also stamp out prostitution in the area”…

Guinea Pigs (#723) 

More on the “banks looking for whores to rat out to the pigs” evil from last week:

…banks have become adept at mining data to comply with anti-money-laundering regulations.  Much of that same data can also be used to detect signs of human trafficking…Some financial patterns that could potentially indicate human trafficking include credit card purchases on some classified-ad sites, several individuals with a common address depositing money into the same account, or multiple accounts transferring money to the same beneficiary…analytics tools can also cross-reference customer phone numbers to see if those same numbers appear on classified-ad pages where illegal services might be sold…

“Multiple accounts transferring money to the same beneficiary”.  You know, like when different people pay for purchases from one company.

The Widening Gyre (#723) 

Lenore Skenazy’s take on yet another hysterical “sex trafficking” fantasy:

89,000 shares of this piece from ForEveryMom…”Diandra Toyos is a Southern California mom of three kiddos aged 4, 1.5, and 7 weeks.  Looking for a fun outing, she and her mom decided to take the kids to their local IKEA recently to do some couch shopping…But Toyos never could have imagined that their lighthearted shopping trip was about to take a sinister turn“…This “My kids were about to be trafficked, I just KNOW it” post is so shockingly similar to last week’s “My kids were about to be trafficked, I just KNOW it” post that it feels…creepy.  A lot creepier than being at Ikea where a couple of men glance at my kids…What, two men are going to grab two or three kids, all under age 7, IN PUBLIC, in a camera-filled IKEA, with the MOM and the GRANDMA right there, not to mention a zillion other fans of Swedish furnishings?…You can TELL nothing happened, because the whole thing was described as an “incident”.  And Lenore’s #1 Rule of Reporting is: When something is called an “incident,” it’s because nothing happened…

Read Full Post »

No amount of intuition from one’s training and experience is a substitute for the basic laws of light and physics.

The absurdity of malum prohibitum “crimes” is amply demonstrated in this WWII propaganda video, in which the US government encourages farmers to grow cannabis (specifically hemp, but even that was illegal for decades).  The video was contributed by Jesse Walker and the links above it by Emma Evans (“porn”),  Charles Hill (“works”), Mike Chase (“clone”), Tim Cushing (“taunts”), Kevin Wilson  (“Australia”), and Mike Siegel (“water”).

From the Archives

Read Full Post »

I’m going to assume most of you, even those with English degrees, are unfamiliar with the term “counter word”.  It’s a linguistic term; a counter word is a word or phrase with no current intrinsic meaning, which is used to signal one’s membership in the in-group who use that word.  “Counter” in this sense means a counter used in a game, such as a poker chip; it has no actual value outside of the game, but it is used to participate in the game.  Two examples from my younger days both came from television commercials for hamburger chains; one was from this 1992 commercial for Rally’s:

The ad was so popular that soon everyone (at least on the Gulf Coast) was running around yelling “Cha-ching!” at every available opportunity.  At first it was mostly used appropriately, as a way of saying something was expensive (“I paid $100 for these sneakers.” “Whoa, cha-ching!”) but it soon turned into an exclamation of victory or appreciation for an insult (something like the way people use “Oh, snap!” now), and within months, due to somehow becoming associated with the New Orleans Saints football team, it meant nothing at all; it was just something people would randomly exclaim to show that they were “cool” and in on the joke.  At the nadir of this absurdity, a local used car dealer actually exclaimed “Cha-ching!” at the end of one of his television commercials, apparently unaware that to anyone who remembered the original ad he was implying that his autos were badly overpriced!  The other example, which perhaps more of you may recognize, was from a 1984 Wendy’s ad:

As with “cha-ching!” it didn’t take “Where’s the beef?” long to go from an expression people used to mean something like, “What’s going on?” or “Are you kidding me?” to signifying nothing more than, “Hey, I’ve heard other people saying this, aren’t I cool?”  This isn’t a phenomenon of my lifetime; soon after the turn of the 20th century the phrase “23 skidoo!” went from meaning something like “let’s make tracks” or “scram!” to meaning, as in the other examples, essentially nothing; it was printed on buttons and pennants and people would shout it at each other in greeting as they did with “Cha-ching” over 80 years later.

If you’re wondering why I’m bringing this up now, it’s because the phrase “human trafficking” has become nothing more than a political counter word.  In the ’90s, it was generally used to mean the smuggling of people across borders in defiance of immigration restrictions, but by the turn of the century governments and anti-immigration groups had subtly twisted it to mean only exploitative smuggling practices (which they of course represented as all of them), and it didn’t take long for the exploitative labor situations migrants often ended up in to be rolled into the term.  Prohibitionists started representing all migrant sex work as a form of “human trafficking”, and the US government soon obligingly negated the agency of all underage sex workers by defining them as “human trafficking victims” whether they actually migrated, were coerced or were treated in any way which could even tangentially intersect the previously-understood meaning of the term “trafficking”.  Certainly, the shift in meaning of the term “drug trafficking” from meaning “drug smuggling” to mere “drug selling” is parallel and probably intertwined with this broadening and thinning of the meaning of “human trafficking”, but the latter became far more nebulous than the former ever did; by 2012 I had identified 23 different meanings of the phrase “human trafficking”, 11 of the phrase “trafficking victim” and 12 of the slur “human trafficker”.  In the past five years those related phrases have become broader and far more vague, and are applied willy-nilly to anyone and anything “authorities” or prohibitionists want to restrict, censor, spy on, interfere in, attempt to ban, or inflict violence upon.

“Human trafficking” (and especially “sex trafficking”) have become nothing but authoritarian counter words; they have lost their original meanings as surely as “23 skidoo” and “Where’s the beef?” did.  I therefore call upon all activists, allies, and well-meaning people in the so-called “anti-trafficking” movement (and yes, there are some, such as GAATW) to stop using the term unless there is no other alternative.  If you mean “exploitative labor conditions”, say that.  If you mean “forced prostitution”, say that.  If you mean “underage survival sex”, say that.  If you mean “smuggling undocumented migrants”, say that.  A phrase used to mean everything means nothing at all, and a phrase that means nothing isn’t a useful term for serious adults; it’s a fad for the immature and silly.

Read Full Post »

inannaMost of you probably already follow me on Twitter (and if you don’t, you should).  But while Twitter is a very powerful tool for publicity and activism, tweets are intrinsically ephemeral; though they do actually continue to exist indefinitely, they’re very difficult to find after a few days.  Therefore, I hope you’ll forgive me if, when I write a string of tweets that I think are particularly important, I republish them here for more attention ad greater permanence.  On January 14th, in response to the widespread fear in our community due to the Backpage takedown, I tweeted out the following message; it isn’t long, but it expresses a truth I think it’s very important that whores remember in these trying times.

Our profession truly is the oldest one on Earth.  Older than the pyramids, older than cities.  Older even than Homo Sapiens.  The US as an institution is just a toddler, albeit one of those toddlers we read about that gets ahold of a gun and kills their parents.  We have survived the fall of empires and the disappearance of whole peoples. We have survived fire, flood, famine, pestilence, war and every other disaster.  We have survived persecution, pogroms, confinement in brothels, literal slavery, mutilation & even burnings.  We will survive this too.  Read what the ancients wrote about us. We are the mothers of human civilization; it couldn’t exist without us.  And these so-called “leaders” know it.  They’re petulant children who resent their debt to us and are acting out violently.  But like all children they have a short attention span, and when some new shiny toy or victim to torture catches their attention they’ll leave us alone.  What we need to do is to survive until then, and to keep fighting to be heard and recognized by good people who will stand with us.  But no matter what, we WILL survive.  And our tribe will exist when The USA is nothing but a thing kids learn about in history, then forget.

We are as eternal as the sea; our enemies are mere insects, who annoy for a season and are then gone.  In order for them to win, they would have to completely destroy human sexuality; in order for us to win, all we need do is practice the patience and courage which we have in abundance.  And though it’s difficult to remember that in trying times, it doesn’t even matter if we do or not because even if we as individuals forget, we as a group will survive and triumph nonetheless.

Read Full Post »

When I say by any means necessary that would be up to those in charge.  –  James Tomes

It recently came to my attention that Mystery Science Theater 3000 has been uploading full episodes onto YouTube, so to call attention to that I’m going to feature their treatment of Prince of Space, one of my favorite so-bad-it’s-good movies (though it pales in comparison to the Starman movies).  The links above it are from Radley Balko (“necessary”), Mike Siegel (“sirree”), Jesse Walker  (“gaslight”), and Mark Bennett (“smug”).

From the Archives

Read Full Post »

Inside of the White Slave TrafficWith Backpage in the news so much, and various government actors vomiting out so many egregious lies about it, I thought it might be a good idea to recap how this whole shitshow developed from its roots in the previous “sex trafficking” moral panic to the present political circus.  See, while the politicians want you to believe that Backpage is some sort of magical pimp machine the likes of which has never been seen before, the truth is that Backpage ads are the end result of a slow and steady progression of advertising starting roughly a century ago, just after prostitution was criminalized in the US at the height of the last go-round of hysteria over “sex trafficking” (or as it was called then, “white slavery”).  Once brothels could no longer operate openly, escort services appeared, while some women chose to frequent hotels and such and others preferred to take out personal ads in newspapers.  Once the alternative weeklies appeared in the 1960s, the latter approach became far more popular; escorts were able to be more blunt than they could in major newspapers, though not remotely as blatant as they later became once those weeklies went online.  Even the name “Backpage” is a tribute to the site’s origin as an online version of the back pages of alt-weeklies, where the classified ads (including escort ads) were located.  In fact, the only important differences between the online version and its print ancestors are those directly related to the differences between the online medium and the print medium, such as ease of access and speed of both posting and reply (ask a whore who worked prior to the late ’90s about going to one’s PO Box to pick up actual paper letters from clients answering one’s ad, requesting appointments days or weeks in the future).

So when Craigslist first appeared in 1996 as an online classified ad site, it was a foregone conclusion that whores would post ads in its classified and massage sections, just as they had in newspaper sections.  It wasn’t any kind of “revolution”; it just sped things up and made them more efficient.  But whenever a new technology is involved, you can be absolutely sure the Puritans and Luddites will insist that it’s the source of all manner of new evils, and that it will surely bring about the end of civilization (usually by corrupting women and harming children, naturally).  It took them over ten years, however; though Craigslist had a dedicated “erotic services” section by 2002 (I’m not sure of the exact date it was added), the “sex trafficking” fetishists, at that time far less numerous and vociferous than they are now, did not really begin to take note of it until sometime after 2005.  That was the year bureaucrats from the San Francisco Department of Public Health embarked on a campaign to blame the site’s personals section for a rise in syphilis among gay men, using the typical government argument that adults are so stupid and passive that they need to be “encouraged” or “facilitated” by some corporation or communications medium to do things like have sex.  The blame-game seemed to attract the attention of the “sex trafficking” fetishists, and by the following year they were starting to put pressure in the site to “do something” about their favorite imaginary problem.  A group of 40 state attorneys general demanded that Craigslist facilitate pigs’ attempts to arrest sex workers (under guise of “stopping “trafficking”, naturally) and the site responded by requiring a working phone number and charging a fee to post in the erotic services section (to keep underage people out).  Of course, that wasn’t enough; the following year Craigslist renamed the section to “adult services” while prohibitionists blathered about how much money the company was making from the fee they had forced it to charge.  Finally, in 2010 the site shuttered the section, putting up a “censored” bar over the link to it, and advertisers either migrated to Backpage (founded in 2004 specifically as a competitor to Craigslist) or went back to advertising in the personals & massage sections as they did before the “erotic services” category was established.

Drunk with their victory, the prohibitionists immediately turned to Backpage; within weeks of Craigslist’s defeat they sent a similar letter to the one they had sent Craigslist, no doubt expecting a similar reaction.  Instead, they got a fight which has gone on for over six years, with Backpage winning at every turn for the simple reason that the government’s demands are blatantly unconstitutional.  But the evil don’t stop being evil merely because they’re wrong; faced with repeated defeats in their attempts to take legal action against the company, government prohibitionists decided to simply take illegal actions instead, ranging from Tom Dart’s threats against credit card companies to Senate “hearings” of the same sort previously held to intimidate moviemakers, comic book publishers and the music industry.  Then in October, California attorney general Kamala Harris upped the ante by committing the blatantly criminal act of arresting the CEO and both owners of Backpage and filing charges against them that she absolutely knew were illegal for her to file.  Naturally, a judge slapped her down, and she replied by filing even more ridiculous charges, shitting all over the dying protection against double jeopardy in her quest to be a hero to fanatics.  Exhausted and facing the prospect of an infinite succession of similar nuisance charges from criminal tyrants the courts seem unwilling to charge or even rein in, Backpage finally followed in Craigslist’s footsteps and censored its adult ads one week ago today.

But while the mainstream reaction to Craigslist’s defeat was largely a collective yawn, the same is not true this time around.  While Craigslist’s resistance and eventual surrender was generally conducted rather quietly, the war on Backpage has been extremely noisy and impossible to ignore; as a result there have been many articles about it already.  The best of these, as usual, is by Elizabeth Nolan Brown; David Meyer Lindenberg of Fault Lines and Mike Ludwig of Truthout, both strong and dependable allies, also wrote on the topic, and Alison Bass ridiculed Nicholas Kristof’s predictably-ridiculous take on the subject.  Sex workers are coming together to help each other find alternative advertising resources, and other groups such as free-speech advocates and anarchists are chiming in as well.  Backpage has vowed to continue the fight, and I certainly hope they do, because as soon as they stop struggling the prohibitionists will need to find another advertising site to turn into a monster.  Their campaign of eternal outrage needs a target for its hate, or else it means the end of all the accumulation of money and power which is the true aim of this ugly anti-sex crusade.

Read Full Post »

The government concedes it presented no evidence.  –  9th Circuit Court

We’ve all seen American propaganda cartoons from the Second World War, but here’s an interesting twist: a Japanese propaganda cartoon from 1936 in which the evil Mickey Mouse bombs Japan and is defeated by Japanese cartoon characters.  Like so many interesting videos lately, it was called to my attention by Jesse Walker; the links above it were provided by Rick HorowitzEd KrayewskiJason KuznickiTim CushingEmma EvansKevin WilsonDave Krueger, and Tim Cushing again, in that order.

From the Archives

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »