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Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Police don’t take well to limits on their power.  –  Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Hawaii was the last American state to criminalize prostitution; our trade was tolerated there until 1944, when the police chief of Honolulu, William Gabrielson, closed the brothels in a fit of pique after the whores went on strike against the draconian rules he had imposed on them, and the military officials at Pearl Harbor sided with the whores.  A few years later prostitution was officially criminalized as part of the process of obeisance required for the territory to become a state, and since then Hawaii in general, and Honolulu in particular, have tried to make up for the late start by coming up with some of the most grotesque anti-whore shenanigans imaginable.

Hawaii flagOne example came to light in March of last year.  As longtime readers know, cops raping sex workers as part of a “sting” operation is standard operating procedure; it’s frowned upon in some places and tolerated in others, and in PennsylvaniaIndiana and  Florida it’s shamelessly defended in court every time a victim of this government-authorized rape complains about it (the usual excuse is that sex workers are “sophisticated” while simultaneously being pathetic, infantile victims).  But Hawaii had taken the unusual step of officially granting cops the right to rape sex workers by spelling the permission out in the text of the prostitution law.  When a legislator discovered this provision and rewrote the law to scrap it, the cops demanded that their decades-old droit du seigneur remain in place, and the politicians probably would’ve fallen over each other in their haste to lick the cops’ boots had not the media gotten hold of the story and a public outcry not ensued.  Of course, reporters misstated the new law as A) granting the cops a new right they hadn’t already enjoyed for a long time, and B) being unique to Hawaii (when in fact the only thing unusual about it was the clear delineation of the raping privilege).

Apparently, being unofficially allowed to rape isn’t enough for Hawaiian cops, though, so they had to come up with a new kind of sadism to inflict upon women.  On Monday we were treated to this scintillating example of local-TV journalism:

Honolulu police have arrested more than a dozen women at various massage parlors…It’s…a huge victory for a neighborhood fed up with illegal activity…Sixteen women were arrested ranging in age from 24 to 60…“I feel safer…It’s always good to get crime off the street,” said [a local badgelicker]…They were booked for sex assault, because, as former Honolulu prosecutor Peter Carlisle explained, “the person knowingly exposes themselves to another person under circumstances that is [sic] likely to cause alarm.”  This type of of sex assault is a misdemeanor, which could mean a year in jail for the women…

Though Hawaii is as invested in “sex trafficking” hysteria as most states, there’s virtually none of that here (except for an obligatory mention at the very end to justify Homeland Security funds being illegally diverted to enforce local vice laws); this is plain old “lock up the dirty criminals” talk, right down to the asinine characterization of a private room inside a business as a “street” and the warping of normal, peaceful behavior into something “criminal” in the sick minds of cops and prosecutors.  Fortunately, most others don’t subscribe to the twisted fantasies of these sociopathic deviants, and the uproar over the ridiculous charges has been considerable; SWOP has a petition asking that the charges be dropped, and attorneys representing the women had this to say:

…The assault charge is because the women allegedly groped the officers.  But attorney Myles Breiner, who represents several of the women, said his clients were forced to touch the men after they refused the officers’ solicitations for sex.  “To charge (the women) with sex assault in the fourth degree is so ludicrous it’s such an abuse of authority”…a prostitution arrest only requires an agreement on price…Legal experts said this new approach raises legal questions because a solicitation for sex implies consent.  “It’s not a sexual assault.  It perverts what the whole statute is about”…The charge…is…usually applied when someone is accused of groping another person.  [If convicted, the sex workers would]…have their green cards revoked [and would be forced to] register as sex offenders…

Python copSpeaking of “ludicrous”, take a look again at the prosecutor’s words in the first blockquote: “the person knowingly exposes themselves to another person under circumstances that is [sic] likely to cause alarm“.  The idea that a cop out to entrap a massage parlor worker would be “alarmed” at the sight of her genitals is too absurd even for a Monty Python sketch, but the charge takes on a darker (and larger) significance when one reads the rest of the sentence the prosecutor (mis)quotes, quoted (correctly) here by Elizabeth N. Brown: “likely to alarm the other person or put the other person in fear of bodily injury.”  What’s that cops always claim when they murder a dog or human, or tase a 5-year-old, a pregnant woman or an old man in a wheelchair?  Oh yeah, “I was in fear for my life.”  Is this the next step in American cops’ unending escalation of force?  It’s only one step from a cop claiming a woman half his size put him “in fear of bodily injury” from the sight of her pussy, to tasing her or gunning her down using the same excuse.  “Aloha” can mean either “hello” or “goodbye”; though Hawaiian cops intend it to be the former for this new and horrifying anti-whore tactic, sex worker activists and our allies need to make absolutely sure it’s the latter.

 

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The enforcement of anti-trafficking laws…[has always grown] the power of the state while criminalising the behaviour of migrating women.  –  Jessica Pliley

Whore Madonnas

Social wisdom would have us believe that sex industry workers are terrible parents who routinely jeopardize their children’s safety by bringing “perverts” around, leaving them to raise themselves, and setting an example of depravity.  Social wisdom is INCORRECT.  Children of sex workers…are more likely to be level-headed, socially aware, critical thinkers.  Rather than putting their parents through a lot of grief, they are strong allies of their parents.  Gutsy, confident, young people who speak their minds and care about others…

The Red Umbrella 

Gail Brown…worked as a private escort and [Warren] Mann, a long haul truck driver, was a regular client.  But Mann fell in love and wanted a relationship.  When she wouldn’t give him that, he flew into a cold rage and tried to kill her July 26, 2012.  Brown’s teenaged daughter, Kayla…ran into her mother’s room…as Mann straddled her and repeatedly smashed her head on the floor…she ran for help while Mann made an eerie 911 call…to report [himself]…Brown’s liver was busted into multiple pieces, she suffered severe head trauma, her throat and larynx were crushed…For two months, Brown lay in coma…her memory is poor, her health is bad, and she suffers permanent physical and emotional pain, she can still walk, although with a limp…

My Readers Write Kirsten Gillibrand

Absolute genius from Mark Draughn:

Last summer, on June 28th, I saw Arizona Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand place an 8-week old calico kitten in a DeWalt 5-quart blender and press the start button, killing it instantly. She then feasted hungrily on the bloody remains, consuming the poor creature, scales and all. It is the single most vile act of animal cruelty I have ever witnessed, and by coming forward now, I hope to put a spotlight on the problem of animal cruelty…

And it gets much, much better from there.

Full of Themselves (#4)

One of the latest examples of shaming strippers comes from a community that appropriates stripper traditions, but vehemently denies any association with the sex industry. Many pole dance hobbyists, or women who practice the pole dancing fitness trend, are on a mission to distance themselves from exotic dancers.  That’s what happened last weekend in Beijing, when competitive pole athletes at the World Pole Dance Championships set the record straight to the AFP that their sport is inspired by ancient Indian and Chinese dance traditions and has absolutely no relationship to strippers who might claim otherwise…

Above the Law 

This article is no surprise to regular readers, who know that cops commit rape at a rate several times that of men in the general population.  But it’s nice to see SOMEBODY in the media acknowledging that rapist cops aren’t “a few bad apples” engaging in “isolated incidents”:

…sexual misconduct is the nation’s second most reported allegation of officer misconduct, according to a 2013 report by the Cato Institute.  Nevertheless, broad narratives of police brutality tend to ignore both female victims and the often specific nature of the violence leveled against them in favor of focusing on the highly visible use of weapons to kill men…Women are subject not only to differential forms of violence by police, but also to entrenched stereotypes surrounding sexual assault, which may further inhibit their seeking justice for this abuse…

The Widening Gyre 

This rather ordinary anti-streetwalker nonsense bears clear signs of infection by “sex trafficking” tropes:

…[Luton] residents who say the area has become a “designated hub” for prostitution…The police, who are two years into a five-year anti-prostitution strategy, said they have seen “significant improvements” in ending the trade…Mr Khadam said:  “The new girls are teenagers and one of them I saw was quite short only about 5’2″ and I am quite concerned about that”…Matt Ryan said:  “High Town has become a processing hub/centre for street prostitution”…Wendy Walker…said…”You get kerb crawlers stopping and asking if you want business, even if you are a disabled, old pensioner or a pregnant woman.”  A Bedfordshire Police spokeswoman said…”The operation has also resulted in the detection of other criminality…including alcohol and drug-related crime and anti-social behaviour…Our multi-agency approach aims to support women to leave sex work and to lead crime free, healthy and happy lives.”

busybodiesIt’s hard to pick the funniest part of this; is it the cop pretense that the world’s oldest profession can be “ended” by cop violence, and in 5 years no less? Is it the old lady’s sexual fantasy that punters still find her desirable? Or is it the notion that a woman who’s 5’2″ tall must be a teenager?

So Close and Yet So Far

Dear would-be allies, please talk to the actual experts on sex work – sex workers ourselves – before belching up a bunch of asinine myths, bogus statistics and wrongheaded opinions in an attempt to speak up for us:

It often feels like the only barrier is a society of puritanical simpletons, but there are legitimate concerns…If legalized, the unsafe, archetypal pattern of pimp and hooker and trick could be readily dissolved.  In a study of 854 street prostitutes, 95 percent had been physically assaulted and 75 percent raped.  This exploitative model could be easily transformed to the healthier brothel system.  Nevada is already ahead of its time with 19 legal brothels, all requiring condoms and weekly tests for sexual transmitted diseases…pragmatic legalization could end the unhealthy reality of street hooking…

Bread and Circuses 

The “sex trafficking” circus needs victims to die for the crowd’s satisfaction:

…the FBI…trumpeted the federal jury conviction of “sex trafficking ring leader” Hortencia Medeles-Arguello, a 71-year-old Houston woman…was…found…guilty of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking, conspiracy to harbor aliens, aiding and abetting to commit money laundering, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.  She…faces life in prison.  The feds also seized $2.5 million in assets…So who is this apparent criminal mastermind, and how did she oversee an enterprise involving at least 13 sex-traffickers and countless trafficking victims?  Well, she owned a bar. And she didn’t ask too many questions about what people were doing in rented rooms upstairs…The FBI contends that Arguello “should have known” that some of those selling sex in her establishment “were either underage or victims of the beatings by their pimps”…

There will be many more such travesties before this is over, and they’ll rot in prison for about two decades until their convictions are reversed as those of Satanic panic victims have been.

Here We Go Again (#504)

The more of Jessica Pliley’s work I read, the more I like her:

In its 140-year history of fighting sex trafficking, the United States has always prioritised law enforcement, border control, and national security over aid to victims or concerns about privacy…the Immigration Bureau sought to build a stronger moral wall at the border in order to better identify sex workers who were evading the law.  It asked Congress to fortify the 1875 law with the Immigration Acts of 1903, 1907, 1910, and 1917.  Combined, these outlawed the importation of sex workers, women coming for other “immoral” purposes, and men demonstrating “moral turpitude”.  They also made the acts of procuring, pimping, and sex work deportable offences.  With each additional law, the Immigration Bureau found itself in need of more manpower to carry out its mandate, surveilling the borders and the interior of the country in order to ensure both remained secure…

Marching Up Their Own Arses (#525)

The truth about the anti-whore “reality” show, 8 Minutes:

…one woman, who goes by Kamylla…received a call on her work number from the producers of the show, who immediately identified themselves as such (this is in contrast to the premise of the show, which implies that the women believe they are coming to a normal appointment)…She agreed to tape a segment for the show, in which she said she wanted help getting out of the business…She never heard back from them, and instead reached out herself, but no meaningful help was to come.  Kamylla found herself broke and needing to work again.  She posted an ad…and was arrested in a sting.  Now she was broke, frightened, and facing criminal charges, and when she reached out for help from 8 Minutes, Brown offered to pray for her…Kamylla wrote to Dan Savage after seeing a mention of the program on The Stranger’s blog, and Savage put her in touch with prominent Seattle sex worker activist Mistress Matisse.  Matisse leapt into action and began soliciting donations from trusted friends to help Kamylla with her immediate crisis.  Other members of the community soon followed: Domina Elle and Tara Burns helped create a website to tell her story…Kamylla’s own description of her experience in this Storify…[makes] it clear how little help she received in exchange for being fodder for reality TV…

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Unlike Takao who is very much missed, Komurasaki is missed by no one.  –  a Yoshiwara courtesan, quoted in 1683

By now the regular reader should have noticed three recurring themes in my harlotographies: one of them pertains only to whores of pre-modern times; the second up to at least a century ago (though it is more pronounced in ancient stories); and the third up until the present day.  Taking these in reverse order, they are as follows: the inability of amateurs to simply report biographical facts without embellishing, dramatizing and romanticizing them; the difficulty of ascertaining even numeric biographical details with any certainty; and the confusion of more than one harlot with the same name.  All three principles are highly noticeable in the tale of Takao, a Japanese oiran (courtesan) who lived from 1640 to 1659; the lady in question was one of at least six courtesans (some sources say as high as eleven) with that name, and so is generally designated with the unimaginative moniker “Takao II”.  Very little is known about her with any certainty other than the day of her death, December 5th, 1659; however, that didn’t stop talespinners from turning her story into one of the most popular of kabuki plays.

I’ve written at length about the world of the oiran, but this passage bears repeating:

Until 1617 prostitution was completely legal in Japan, but in that year the Tokugawa Shogunate issued an order restricting prostitution to certain areas on the outskirts of cities.  Yujo (“women of pleasure”) were licensed and ranked according to an elaborate hierarchy, with oiran (courtesans) at the top and brothel girls (who were essentially slaves) at the bottom.  These “red-light districts” were not implemented for the moralistic reasons which spurred their creation in the West, but rather to enforce taxation and keep out undesirables such as ronin (masterless samurai); prostitutes were also not allowed to leave the district except under certain rigidly-controlled circumstances.  Soon the districts grew into self-contained towns which offered every kind of entertainment a man might want, all entirely run by women.  Once a girl became a prostitute her birth-rank ceased to matter, and her status was determined by such factors as beauty, personality, intelligence, education and artistic skills.  Even among the oiran there were ranks, of which the highest were the tayu, courtesans fit to entertain nobles…

Takao was a tayu under contract to the Great Miura, the largest brothel of the Yoshiwara district.  Though we know absolutely nothing about her personality or skills, they must have been as striking as her beauty for her to achieve the position of “top girl” at the Miura house soon after her debut, and to become the most sought-after courtesan in Yoshiwara within a short time thereafter.  Every contemporary source (of which there are three) say she died of tuberculosis; Takabyōbu kuda monogatari (Tales of Grumbling Otokodate) also states that several of Takao’s clients paid for her funeral even though they had failed to visit her on her deathbed.  But despite “consumption” being the traditional cause of courtesan demise in Western romance, Takao’s tragic death at the peak of her success wasn’t nearly dramatic enough for kabuki; for that love, treachery and violent death needed to be added. 

Enter Date Tsunamune, who had become Lord of Mutsu at the age of eighteen after the death of his father.  Some of his kin, however, plotted against him and managed to trick him into visiting Yoshiwara as a means of getting him out of the way.  While there he hired Takao and immediately fell in love with her, proposing to buy out her contract and marry her.  This much is largely historical; Tsunamune was a real person whose did indeed face opposition from his family (and was deposed in 1660).  He may indeed have visited Yoshiwara, though a letter claimed to be from Takao to him has been proven a nineteenth-century forgery.  But the rest of the story as told for generations is the stuff of fiction.  Naturally, Takao is supposed to have rejected his offer; some sources feel mere dislike for the man or a desire for independence after the termination of her contract are insufficient motivations for the rejection, and invent a lover who had pledged to marry her when her term of indenture was up.  I’m sure y’all can guess where the story goes next:  Tsunamune refused to take “no” for an answer and made the brothel owner an offer she couldn’t refuse, Takao’s weight in gold for the contract.  The owner accepted, but took advantage of Tsunamune’s lust by putting iron weights into the sleeves of Takao’s robe, boosting her weight to 75 kilograms.  Some storytellers say that on the boat trip from the brothel, Takao hurled herself into the river to drown, counting on the weights to take her to the bottom; others say Tsunamune caught her in the attempt and killed her with his sword instead, then dumped her body.  Still another version says that Tsunamune had one of her fingers broken for every day she refused his bed, and after he had gone through both hands he had her hanged.  But all of these say that her death (whether by murder or suicide) was the excuse used by Tsunamune’s uncle to remove him from power.

Co-opting the lives of sex workers to tell lurid stories of woe and tragedy is nothing new; it’s been done for centuries, perhaps millennia, and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.  But at least in the Japanese variety, the tragedy derives from the freely-chosen actions of a proud, accomplished woman in defiance of fate, rather than from the pathetic subjugation of a cookie-cutter victim stereotype.  And I don’t think there’s any need to explain which I prefer.

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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on January 25th; I have modified it slightly to fit the format of this blog.

group sex statueEvery generation thinks it invented sex, or at least non-vanilla sex.  And I don’t just mean teenagers who are squicked out by the idea of their parents shagging, either; among vanilla folk and/or those outside the demimonde, the delusion seems to persist through life that nearly everybody who lived before a moving line (hovering like a will-o-the-wisp exactly at the year the believer reached puberty) only had missionary-position sex for the purpose of procreation. Even if the individual is familiar with the Kama Sutra, knows about classical Greek pederasty or has seen the menu of a Victorian brothel, these are likely to be dismissed as islands of kink in a vast sea of unsweetened vanilla custard stretching back into prehistory.  Even doctors quoted in newspaper articles are wont to make incredibly stupid, totally wrong statements like “the concept of having oral sex is something that seems less obscure to you than it did to your parents or grandparents.”  Well, my dears, I’m old enough to have given birth to many of you reading this, and I can assure you that oral sex was not remotely “obscure” to us in those long-ago and far-off days of the early ‘80s; nor was it “obscure” to any of the older men I trysted with in my late teens, many of whom are now old enough to be your grandfathers; nor was it “obscure” to my own grandparents’ generation, who came of age in the Roaring Twenties; nor to the 5.5% or more of the female population who worked as whores in every large city of the world in the 19th century, nor the 70% or more of the male population who had enjoyed their company at least once; nor to any of the long procession of harlots and clients stretching back to before busybodies invented the idea of policing other peoples’ sexuality.  Know what else wasn’t “obscure” to them?  Anal sex.  BDSM.  Role-playing.  Exhibitionism & voyeurism.  Homosexuality.  Cuckolding.  I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea.  Here’s a hint:  most lawmakers have always been pompous ignoramuses too obsessed with telling other people what to do to actually have normal lives, so by the time they get around to banning something it’s a pretty safe bet the majority of everybody else in that culture over the age of 16 already knows about it, and many of them are doing it.

Chief among the popular sex acts that modern mythology pretends were “obscure” is masturbation, at least for women.  The common delusion is that because a culture didn’t like to talk about something, it must not have existed; accordingly, the idea has arisen that Victorian girls were somehow so carefully controlled that they never discovered that touching oneself between the legs (or riding rocking horses) feels good.  And because many women have difficulty reaching orgasm without some form of masturbation, that must mean that pre-20th century women all went around in a perpetual state of sexual frustration.  In the past few years, the ridiculous myth has arisen that Victorian doctors actually gave women orgasms without knowing what they were, and that the vibrator was invented to speed up what they viewed as an odious task.

Where do I begin?  In the first place, this tale is so incredibly recent I never heard of it during any of my extensive sexological reading in my teens and twenties; it seems to date to the nineties at the earliest.  Next, it’s a lovely example of Anglocentrism; just because Britons and Americans were so publicly hung-up about sex in the 19th century, doesn’t mean everyone else in Europe, Asia, Africa and the entire Southern Hemisphere was; are we to believe the bulk of female humanity was bereft of the blessing of orgasm until wise white sagesVictorian dildo ad bestowed the gift of the vibrator on their benighted nether regions?  Furthermore, the idea that public posturing actually indicates private feelings, to the point that those who spread this legend actually imagine that dudes were strenuously trying to avoid touching strange women’s twats, is just so colossally dumb it could only be believed in the middle of the neo-Victorian Era.  And a brain has to be pretty deeply mired in 21st-century chauvinism to actually believe that those silly old Victorians didn’t know what a freaking orgasm looked like.  But you don’t have to take my word for all that:

…some historians have claimed women were brought to a “hysterical paroxysm” (supposedly an orgasm that nobody wanted to admit to), by their doctors through “pelvic massage” (masturbation).  To aid them, a vibrating device was invented because there were just so many women who needed this form of treatment that the poor doctors’ hands were getting tired, and they had to use a machine…this…idea…seems to have taken root in our popular culture, helped by “shock exposés”, a few books, and the 2011 film Hysteria, where…Victorian doctor…Mortimer Granville, turns his 1880s invention of a muscular massage device into a sexual awakening for his female patients.  So did the real Dr Granville invent an electronic device for massage?  Yes.  Was it anything to do with the female orgasm?  No.  He actually invented it to help stimulate male pain relief, just as massage is used today.

Victorian doctors knew exactly what the female orgasm was; in fact, it’s one of the reasons they thought masturbation was a bad idea…Marriage guides…often claimed that a woman in a sexually satisfying relationship was more likely to become pregnant, as the wife’s orgasm was just as necessary to conception as her husband’s…The Art to Begetting Handsome Children, published in 1860, contains a detailed passage on foreplay…A Guide To Marriage, published in 1865 by the aptly named Albert Sidebottom…[advises] young couples…that “All love between the sexes is based upon sexual passion”…In 1877, Annie Besant, a one-time vicar’s wife, helped to publish Fruits of Philosophy, a guide that set out every possible contraceptive method available…its British circulation reached over 125,000 in the first few months alone.  So can we please stop saying Victorian women were having unknown orgasms stimulated by their doctors?…

Unfortunately, most people value the truth far less than they value the ability to feel smug.  And people several generations dead are so easy to feel smug about; after all, they aren’t around to tell you that you’re more ignorant about their lives than you pretend they were about sex.

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A cleaner, sweeter bed-fellow does not exist.  –  Greville’s letter praising Emma to Lord Hamilton

When Mandy Rice-Davies compared herself to Lady Hamilton, Lord Nelson’s mistress, it is doubtful that any of the reporters who made her famous for the reference had any confusion about what she meant.  But the 1960s were a more sexually honest time than our own, and nowadays writers are even more likely to prevaricate about Lady Hamilton’s harlotry than they are about Rice-Davies’; a BBC article on the famous affair even goes so far as to say that “[Nelson and Hamilton] had fallen out of love with their partners”, as if the Lady had married her patron due to “falling in love” in the first place.  In fact, there’s another modern term for the way they came to be together, more pejorative  even than “prostitution”; read on and you’ll see what I mean.

Amy Lyon, the daughter of a blacksmith named Henry Lyon and his wife Mary, was born on April 26th, 1765 in Cheshire, England.  Her father died when she was an infant and her mother raised her alone, later sending her to live with her grandmother in Wales.  At twelve she started working as a maid and soon met another maid named Jane Powell, who aspired to be an actress; through her Amy found work at the Drury Lane theatre as a maid to several actresses, during which time she lived in the home of a brothel madam named Mrs. Kelly.  Her beauty and grace attracted the attention of James Graham, the doctor who owned an establishment called the “Temple of Health and Hymen” where couples could pay £50 a night (over £3000 today) to have sex in the “Celestial Bed”, which administered mild electric shocks that were supposed to cure infertility and encourage the conception of “perfect” babies.  Amy’s job was to be a hostess, model and erotic dancer, presumably to augment the effects of the electric bed.  When she was sixteen she was hired by Sir Harry Featherstonhaugh to provide entertainment at a several-months-long standing party; she is known to have danced nude on the dining room table at this shindig, and her other activities may be guessed by the fact that she was pregnant by the end of the summer, presumably by Sir Harry.

As was typical in those days, Sir Harry blamed the pregnancy entirely on Amy, so though he was still supporting her she decided to become the kept woman of Charles Francis Greville, an MP and the second son of the first Earl of Warwick.  Though Greville was in love with Amy, he was quite domineering and appears to have viewed her as a piece of property.  When the baby, who was given the name Emma Carew, was born, he sent her away to be raised by a couple named Blackburn; around this same time he also demanded that Amy change her own name to Emma, specifically “Emma Hart”.  When he had her portrait painted by his friend George Romney, the painter became obsessed with her; he made so many sketches of her (both nude and clothed) at this time and later that he was able to paint a number of portraits of her without further sitting.  Because Romney was a popular painter, Emma became well-known in London society both for her wit and personality and as an artist’s model.

Unfortunately, Greville spent far beyond his means, and by 1783 he needed a new source of funds; he decided to acquire them by marrying the young heiress Henrietta Middleton, but since it was common knowledge that Emma was his lover he had to be rid of her.  He therefore convinced his uncle, Sir William Hamilton, to accept her as his mistress.  Hamilton was an art collector, and no doubt viewed the now-famous beauty as a valuable find; he also wanted to facilitate his nephew’s marriage so as to eliminate his frequent requests for money.  The deal was therefore made without Emma’s input or knowledge, and she was shipped off to Naples (where Hamilton was the British envoy) under the guise of a six-month holiday while Greville was supposedly away on business.  She was, in other words, “sex trafficked”, sent from one owner to another in a different country.

But though Emma was furious upon discovering what was really expected of her, she eventually adapted to her situation.  Hamilton’s home was beautiful and his art collection renowned, and he was a widower who, far from viewing her as an embarrassment, instead encouraged her modeling, singing and other performance.  The form for which she became known was called “attitudes”; this consisted of an act in which she would wear a simple gown dressed up by scarves and shawls which helped her to evoke images from history and classical mythology by posing.  The audience was then supposed to guess who she was portraying.  Though this may sound a bit silly to modern ears, the effect was apparently very striking; Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote, “The performance is like nothing you have ever seen before.  With a few scarves and shawls she expressed a variety of wonderful transformations.  One pose after another without a break”.  Within a few years of her first performance in the spring of 1787, a number of other actresses took up the art; over the years Emma herself evolved from mere posing into acting out short pantomimes, most famously portraying Medea.

Sir William eventually married Emma on September 6th, 1791; he was sixty and she twenty-six.  The match gave her the title by which she was forever known afterward, though friends still called her “Emma”.  It also gave her the duties of a diplomat’s wife, among them entertaining Horatio Nelson (then a mere post captain) when he came in 1793 to request reinforcements from the King of Naples.  By the time he returned in 1798 he had lost an arm, an eye, most of his teeth and the majority of his health, but had won both the Battle of the Nile and worldwide fame.  Sir William invited the great man to recuperate in their home, nursed by his young wife, and it was at this time that the two began their affair.

But while one might think this a betrayal of hospitality, the truth is that Sir William definitely knew about and seems to have even encouraged the affair; he and Nelson respected and admired one another, and Emma and Nelson had similar feelings for one another.  Indeed, the relationship soon developed into a ménage a trois; after the Neopolitan Revolution of 1799 the ailing Hamilton was allowed to retire and return to England, accompanied by Nelson, who openly moved in with the Hamiltons despite having a home (and wife) of his own.  In fact, the arrangement became such a huge scandal that the Admiralty ordered Nelson back to sea to keep him away from Emma.  The public, however, was fascinated and the Hamiltons seemed completely unconcerned with what anyone said; when Emma gave birth to a daughter on January 31st, 1801 she named her “Horatia”, flagrantly advertising her paternity.

Alas, their happiness was not to last long.  Sir William, whom Emma had grown to love, died in 1803 and Nelson returned to sea to fight Napoleon soon afterward.  The daughter Emma was carrying at the time died soon after her birth early the next year, and she consoled herself by gambling and otherwise wasting money; when Nelson died at Trafalgar in October of 1805, she had nothing left but Hamilton’s £800/year pension, which she exhausted trying to build up Merton Place (the house Nelson had bought for the three to live together in) as a monument to the great man.  Now the government decided to have its revenge on the woman it considered a double embarrassment for tarnishing the reputations of two of its favored sons: Emma was barred from Nelson’s funeral, and his request that she and Horatia be provided for was totally ignored; money and gifts were instead showered upon Nelson’s widow, brother and other family members.  As her looks and figure were long gone, Emma could no longer attract a patron; she fell deeply into debt and after Nelson’s love letters to her were stolen and published in 1814, the government exacted one more act of petty vengeance by throwing her into debtor’s prison.  After her release that autumn she fled to France with Horatia, where she died on January 15th, 1815.  Men in power are never kind to women who have embarrassed them, and neither Lady Hamilton’s title nor the exalted reputation of her most famous lover could save her from being treated like any other troublesome whore.

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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on November 16th; I have modified it slightly to fit the format of this blog.

Salvation Army womenEvery time one reads an article that doesn’t mindlessly parrot “sex trafficking” hysteria or some other aspect of the anti-sex movement, yet isn’t written by a sex worker or ally, one can be sure there will be an obligatory sentence about how it’s “surprising” or “paradoxical” or whatever that neofeminists are in bed with evangelical Christians.  The only people who could actually consider this alliance to be anything other than wholly predictable are those who A) believe in the ridiculous “left wing-right wing” dichotomy which “was a poor fit to real political landscapes when it was first used in reference to the French Assembly more than 200 years ago and has become completely worthless since”; B) accept fanatical cults’ propaganda about their motives as truthful even if it demonstrably conflicts with their public behavior; and C) are completely ignorant of the history of the Anglo-American anti-sex movement.  My early essay “Traitors To Their Sex”  provides a brief sketch of this history, starting with the influential and charismatic Victorian feminist, Josephine Butler:

…who recognized that English law of the time…stripped prostitutes of their rights as Englishwomen and so campaigned tirelessly for the repeal of those laws for 16 years.  At the same time, Butler (like most Victorians) believed that women were essentially asexual, and so could not accept that any woman might freely choose to exploit the male sexual appetite in order to earn a living; the very idea was anathema to her rigid Christian thinking.  She therefore concluded that it was actually whores who were the exploited ones, childlike victims of male lust who had been forced into lives of “degradation” by male oppression…after the repeal of the Contagious Disease Acts in 1886 prostitutes were no longer the cause célèbre; when they refused to repent their whoredom and embrace “honest work” and conventional morality the feminists abandoned their sympathy like yesterday’s newspaper and declared war on our entire profession, vowing to abolish it entirely.  Butler founded the Social Purity Alliance…dedicated to imposing middle-class Victorian standards of chastity (i.e. repugnance for sex) onto men, and it was but the first of a host of similar organizations which sprang up on both sides of the Atlantic throughout the 1880s and ‘90s…middle-class “feminists” had shown their true colors and abandoned the drive to win rights for the disenfranchised in favor of one which aimed to restrict the rights of everyone…The purity crusaders used many propaganda weapons…but chief among these were disease scares and the “white slavery” hysteria…the unholy alliance of middle-class feminists and puritanical religious zealots managed to convince the public, the media and governments that there was a huge international trade in underage girls, abducted and forced into sexual slavery…The fact that there was absolutely no evidence for such a vast conspiracy made no difference whatsoever; the public devoured lurid stories of child prostitution, and…voluntary adult prostitution was banned or severely restricted under the excuse of combating involuntary prostitution of “children”…

In other words, though some early feminists (such as Mary Wollstonecraft and Olympe de Gouges) were individualists who were not at all anti-sex, feminism did not become a popular movement until it embraced a rigid, puritanical morality.  These “first wave” feminists were not merely anti-prostitution, but anti-pleasure; among other things, they campaigned against the “evil” of masturbation and drove the movement which eventually imposed Prohibition on the United States.  So although this early feminism died out in the Great Depression, it is wholly unsurprising that its legacy soon infected the “second wave” which flourished in the 1960s and ‘70s; by the mid-‘80s the anti-sex forces had not only taken over feminism, but had sought out and once again joined their old allies, evangelical Christians, in another loathsome attempt to impose a puritanical anti-sex regime on all of society.  Almost exactly a century after the first iteration of their social engineering crusade, they’ve brought back most of their old rhetoric (now blended with another morally-bankrupt 19th-century belief system, Marxism) and many of their old tactics, including “white slavery” hysteria (now called “sex trafficking”).

This is what a feminist's victim looks likeAs I’ve pointed out before, much of the language in “sex trafficking” and other anti-sex articles and essays is positively Victorian, and even when it isn’t the attitudes are.  Women like Julie Bindel and Meghan Murphy, who would almost certainly take exception with (or even ridicule) the notion that their attitudes fit more in the late 19th century than the early 21st, nonetheless expend considerable effort in arguing for massive censorship campaigns (even though they deny it) and trying to convince other women that only feminist thought leaders have the right to determine which kinds of sex constitute “rape” or “exploitation”, and that their individual consent is immaterial (the result of “false consciousness”, itself a 19th-century Marxist concept).  The “end demand” campaign backed by the Fawcett Society (itself founded in 1866) is based in the tired old Victorian conceit that men can be “taught” to dislike sex as much as prudish women do; furthermore, the recent revelation that the £45 “This is What a Feminist Looks Like” T-shirts hawked by the Society are made in Dickensian sweatshops reveals that middle-class white women’s trivial concerns still trump the serious problems of working-class and brown-skinned women, just as they did in the days when the sun never set on the Empire.  And I think we can all agree that the mind which can produce over 3100 words on whether porn can be “ethical” or “feminist” is one which could’ve been perfectly delighted with thinking up new venereal nouns or arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.  So no, it isn’t at all surprising that evangelical feminists conspire with evangelical Christians to make normal people’s lives as miserable as possible; they’ve been doing it for as long as there’s been such a thing as “feminism”.

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The pain [US sex policing] produces in the lives of sex workers…is nothing short of depraved and barbaric.  –  David Masciotra

Rough Trade 

A middle-aged Dublin criminal who is classified as one of Ireland’s most dangerous sex offenders has been arrested in Spain…after fleeing Ireland more than 18 months ago…At least four prostitutes…were raped and robbed by the man between 2010 and 2012…They…were [drugged] and then…sexually assaulted…

Don’t Take My Word For It

Here’s an article on a San Francisco service called ManServants, which has polite guys that women can hire to do romantic but not-directly-sexual stuff for them, like conversation, wine-pouring and hand massage:

For men, hiring a stripper has always been about performing a certain type of masculinity as much as it is about enjoying an attractive woman’s body.  In much the same way, ManServants is a performance. Even among sexually adventurous urban-dwellers, it’s déclassé to post photos of your friend receiving a lapdance from a male stripper.  But a handsome man in a tux refilling her cocktail?  Instagram gold.  According to the women behind ManServants, women want to be adored…They want a touch of theatricality, and to feel the thrill of male attention without worrying about whether they are sending the wrong signals or will have to shoo him away at the end of the night…

Heads in the Sand

We like to think that education changes people for the better, helping them critically analyze information and providing a certain immunity from disinformation.  But if that were really true, then you wouldn’t have low vaccination rates clustering in areas where parents are, on average, highly educated…researchers decided to look at a number of issues that have become politicized, such as the Iraq War, evolution, and climate change. They find that, for these issues, education actually makes it harder for people to accept reality, an effect they ascribe to the fact that “highly educated partisans would be better equipped to challenge information inconsistent with predispositions”…

Scapegoats Lucky the pit bull

I’m sure you feel safer now that these dangerous criminals have been arrested:

A married couple from Indiana were charged with bestiality after police say they made a video showing the wife performing sex acts on their dog…[which was] discovered by a police detective in Fairfax County, Virginia, on the website Beastforum.  The [cop]…was able to determine that the posts came from Anderson, Indiana, and then forwarded the information to local police…Their pit bull, Lucky, [was abducted by cops]…If convicted, the Johnsons could face…two and a half years in prison and a $10,000 fine…

So What Else Is New?

gynecologist Samuel Salama and his colleagues…have some evidence supporting the reality of female ejaculation.  Salama and his team have carried out the first ever ultrasound scans on women who express large amounts of liquid at orgasm. The results…have been published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine…the research showed that there are two forms of female ejaculation.  In the first form, a small amount of milky white fluid is expressed…by the Skene glands which drain into the urethra.  But other women [were observed] “squirting” a much larger amount of fluid…from the bladder…for two participants, there was no chemical difference between the urine and the squirted fluid.  But…samples of the other five women contained prostatic-specific antigen (PSA) which was not present in their first urine samples…

Dutch Threat

the biggest mistake Jojanneke [van den Berge] made was to think that sex workers would keep silence, she seems genuinely surprised to be hearing from them and has not managed to keep her composure.  It used to be you could just make up stuff…Sex workers who didn’t fit into the role of passive victim were simply ignored.  But with twitter and other forms of social media, sex workers have a place to get their voices heard and they are noisy indeed!  Jojanneke has attempted to fight back against those unruly whores and tried to silence them, but mainstream media is picking up on this story…Jojanneke claims she has never talked to a happy hooker while in a conversation with a happy hooker.  I know at least four genuinely happy, well-educated women who decided to get into sex work out of their own free will who have talked to Jojanneke, but [she] continues to lie she’s never spoken to them…

An Example To the West (#343)

In February 2008, Thailand passed the Prevention and Suppression of Human Trafficking Act.  Two months later…Fifty-four migrants from Myanmar suffocated and died while being transported…inside a cold-storage delivery truck…increased punishments, penalties and stricter border controls associated with combating human trafficking saw a change from open transportation to closed; and longer journeys resulted in diversions from normal smuggling routes to avoid checkpoints…The media portrays human trafficking in a one-dimensional way.  We see police carrying out raids and apprehending…women [who] are…stood over and herded like inanimate objects…countries such as New Zealand have reduced corruption and almost eliminated exploitation…by replacing prostitution under criminal law with labour and civil laws…

The Camel’s Nose (#344)

Dutch Ruppersberger, the NSA’s personal Rep in Congress…has announced that he’s bringing back CISPA, the cybersecurity bill designed to make it easier for the NSA to access data from tech companies…he’s using the Sony Hack as [an excuse even though]…it wouldn’t have helped…Even if Sony had opened up its system to the government, it seems unlikely that the NSA would have magically spotted this hack and done anything about it…

Here We Go Again (#344)

Though she doesn’t mention it in the video interview I posted before, and it’s pretty far down in this Alternet article, apparently Jessica Pliley does mention the connection of “white slavery” hysteria to the modern “sex trafficking” hysteria in her book Policing Sexuality: The Mann Act and The Making of the FBI.  This review makes it sound very worthwhile, so I’m adding it to my wishlist.

Little Boxes (#350)

I’m not sure which is more ludicrous, the cops’ insistence that this is prostitution, or the cuddlers’ insistence that it isn’t:

Two professional cuddling services, one from Vancouver and one from Montreal, are snuggling up to Toronto…cuddling services have popped up throughout North America in recent years…[but]  controversy…has often followed, amid concerns these businesses lead to illicit activity…The Cuddlery and CuddleMe.ca both [pretend] their services aren’t sexual in nature…But [ex-cop] Dave Perry…said there are risks of sexual assault for both clients and employees with kind of service…

Ad Absurdum (#441)

“Victim”.  Can these people even hear themselves?

A 23-year-old high school teacher was arrested in Tuscaloosa [Alabama]…after police investigated an on-going relationship with one of her students…Jessica Bonnett Acker…was charged with engaging in a sex act or deviant sexual intercourse with a student under the age of 19…the victim was an 18-year-old male student…

The Notorious Badge (#452)

Is this dude for real?

…Jamie Dornan [said] …“I fear I’ll get murdered, like John Lennon, by one of those mad fans at the premiere…I’m a father now, and a husband.  I don’t want to die yet”…

He keeps waving his wife and child around as though he thinks they’ll ward him from contamination by those dirty sex rays.

Subtle Pimping (#503)

I’m not going to quote any of it because it’s vile even by her incredibly low standards, but here’s neofeminist lunatic Meghan Murphy on the subject of the pro-sex worker video game currently being developed in Canada.  A warning for those unfamiliar with her:  nearly everything the evil MM writes is the prose equivalent of a parody of The Exorcist, wherein MM’s head spins wildly about at dozens of RPMs, spewing horrifying volumes of noxious green vomit on everything within range.  It’s definitely not for the faint of heart or those with weak stomachs.

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