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Our cause…isn’t just ours after all, but rather a vital part of the rights of all individuals to control their own voices, bodies, and lives without the interference of violent busybodies.  –  “Sex Worker Rights Day 2020

The landscape of sex worker rights activism looks very different from the way it did when I wrote my first essay for this occasion ten years ago; then almost nobody outside of Asia celebrated the day, and now it’s observed worldwide.  Sex worker activism in the US is no longer the domain of a small number of activists; vast numbers of sex workers now speak out online, belong to various activist groups, and politically mobilize to oppose prohibitionists, who not so long ago could count on their lies going unchallenged by any but a vocal minority.  The War on Whores has alienated enough people that a majority now support decriminalization, and support for sex worker rights is no longer the kiss of death for politicians.  The evolution of “sex trafficking” hysteria into a new Satanic Panic has many of the hacks who once eagerly spread prohibitionist wanking fantasies distancing themselves from the mythology and even debunking the tales they until-recently represented as facts.  As I wrote last year, “The younger activists, those in their twenties and thirties, have got this, and they are more than capable of carrying it; it’s time for older activists like me to move into a more advisory role…”  As part of that shift, I think it’s time for me to stop writing new essays on this topic, lest I grow irrelevant due to repetition.  Besides, I’ve already written plenty:

2011:  “International Sex Workers’ Rights Day
2012:  “Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs
2013:  “International Sex Worker Rights Day
2014:  “Sex Worker Rights Day
2015:  “Hands On
2016:  “The ‘Active’ in ‘Activism’
2017:  “Out and Proud
2018:  “365 Days of Activism
2019:  “More Than Ever
2020:  “Sex Worker Rights Day 2020

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, or fear that our cause is hopeless, I suggest you read all of those in order; you may be surprised just how much things have changed for the better over that short span, and just imagine what the political landscape will look like in 2031 if things keep developing at the same rate as they have for the last three years.  We still have a very long way to go, and the fight will never be completely over until we as a species discard the wicked dogma that consensual behavior can somehow be a “crime”, and the pretense that inflicting violence on people is somehow “helping” them.  But it’s important to recognize the progress we’ve already made, and to draw from it hope for a better future.

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Anti-sex, pro-censorship gangs want to be called “abolitionist” because it lets them pretend their racist schemes are a continuation of the 19th-century campaign against chattel slavery.  But in actuality, they are a continuation of the 19th-century campaign to harass, spy upon, inflict state violence upon, and generally destroy the lives of people who did things the prohibitionists (whose movement was rooted in US evangelical Protestantism) disapproved of, such as alcohol, extramarital sex of any kind (including masturbation, homosexuality, and sexual imagery), abortion, interracial fraternization, etc, etc.  Only the most deranged of this warped cult of busybodies actually believe they can “abolish” human nature; what most of them really want is a permanent government-backed war on human nature, AKA Prohibition.  Prohibitionists not only live in a fantasy world, but demand that the rest of us live in it with them.  And they want the state to restrict the liberties of those they fantasize about, and enact violence on those who refuse to pretend their fantasies are real.  Supporters of Prohibition are properly called Prohibitionists, not “abolitionists”.  Words mean things; call prohibitionists what they are, not what they pretend to be.

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“Approved” voices rise to the top of [a social media] feed as if by magic.  –  Josephine Livingstone

Storyville

Half a year old, but since the events were over a century ago anyhow:

Willie V. Piazza, known as “The Countess,” was a successful Storyville madam who reigned relatively serenely over her mansion at 317 N. Basin Street. Hers was one of several so-called octoroon houses in the district which featured light-skinned women of color for white clients…The literature about her depicts a regal woman who lived up to her nickname: sophisticated, intelligent, elegant, and always fashionably dressed, she sported a monocle, smoked Russian cigarettes held in a diamond-studded ivory-and-gold holder, wore a diamond choker, and spoke four languages fluently…Piazza’s legacy grew further when she took a stand against racial segregation in the waning months of the district’s legal existence…Ordinance 4118, proposed in early 1917…decreed that Storyville would be entirely racially segregated…Piazza was disturbed by the prospect of being forced from her Basin Street property, which had been a considerable investment…the Louisiana Supreme Court, in City of New Orleans v. Willie V. Piazza (1917)…ruled in her favor, finding that Ordinance 4118 overstepped the original intent of the 1897 act regulating where prostitutes could live. The Countess and her ladies stayed put…

Permanent Record

If prohibitionists really want to “rescue” sex workers, why do they keep trying to stop us from getting other jobs?

Lonna Wells was [fired from an Arkansas Taco Bell because]…a customer had lodged a formal complaint that there was a woman working the drive-thru who was doing internet porn, and as a [hypocritical] Christian they didn’t feel comfortable [see]ing the [performers from the porn they watch in real life]…

Welcome to the Future (#977)

Everything I read about modern corporate work makes me happier I became a whore:

A…silicone wristband…called a Moodbeam…allows your employer to track your emotional state.  The gadget…[currently requires the wearer to] press the yellow [button] if [they] are feeling happy, and the blue one if [they] are sad…employees…can [currently] say no…[but obviously that will change]…Managers can then [snoop into the private feelings of their]…workers…[since they are] no longer able to [spy on them] in p[erson]…

Quiet Genocide (#1081)

The US finally decides to call a spade a spade:

With just one day left in President Trump’s term, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo…officially de[clar]ed that China’s campaign of [genocide]…in Xinjiang constitutes “genocide”…The U.S. has become the first country to…describe the Chinese Communist Party’s gross human rights abuses [as what they are]…The Biden campaign has previously [recognized] China’s…genocide….[as a genocide but] it had been unclear whether the Trump administration would make this formal determination before Biden assumed office…

You Were Warned (#1097)

The bipartisan war on the internet continues without even a pause:

Section 230′s untouched days may be numbered [now that] Joe Biden will be president.  [He has repeatedly stated that he]…think[s] the law should be [repealed]…that…is an extreme — and unlikely — option, but many [politicians]…on both sides of the aisle have introduced bills and pushed for change to the legislation…

From the subtitle link:  “Biden doesn’t like Section 230 and…doesn’t understand what it does…his…top tech policy advisor…published a bizarre and misleading “but think of the children!” attack on [it] that…suggests incredibly dangerous changes…citing FOSTA as a ‘good example’…

R.I.P. Margo St. James

What do you do when you’re a prohibitionist rag which pretends to quasi-official status when the most famous sex worker activist in the world dies?  You do a proper, detailed obituary which nonetheless subtly dismisses her achievements and intentionally confuses decriminalization with legalization.  Hey New York Times, would it have really hurt you to have actually consulted any of the people you quoted from other sources instead?

Traffic Jam (#1104)

Rashida Jones’ sleazy prohibitionism ties into a much bigger picture:

…Rashida Jones, Meryl Streep, and Laverne Cox had all signed on to produce a “documentary adaptation” of Sell/Buy/Date, a one-woman [prohibitionist] play…A few days later, Cox…quit because of pressure from her core fanbase, who took up and amplified the performers’ concerns on Twitter.  If they hadn’t, the complaints would probably have sunk without a trace.  It’s harder now than ever for sex workers to be heard on social media, but even easier for producers like Rashida Jones to tell their stories on mega-streaming platforms like Netflix…Big platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok use proprietary algorithms and shadow banning…to minimize a user’s reach to the community without alerting them…“Rashida Jones can post to her two million followers without worrying about her posts being invisibilized by a platform,” Danielle Blunt, dominatrix and Hacking//Hustling member explained.  “Sex workers can’t.  Jones can buy ads to promote her movie.  Sex workers can’t”…

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Margo might be the single most important sexual liberationist and feminist revolutionary who ever slapped society upside its head.
–  Susie Bright

R.I.P. Margo St. James

The founder of the US sex worker rights movement, Margo St.James, died Tuesday at the age of 83; she had been in an assisted living facility in Bellingham, WA (her home town) for several years now due to dementia, but from the ’70s to the ’90s she was involved to one degree or another in practically every major national and international push for sex worker rights.  It’s impossible to overstate her importance to sex workers all over the world; you may get some idea of why by reading this essay I published on her almost eight years ago, and more in the linked obituary from the San Francisco Chronicle.  But so many 20th-century activists knew and loved her, there will no doubt be many articles and memories; I’m going to link every single one that comes to my attention over the next several weeks.  Farewell, Margo; not a one of us could have done it without your amazing example.

Dysphemisms Galore 

“The pimps who sell sex” may be one of the most clueless headlines ever:

Two…Southend [politicians bloviated about]…street prostitution…[with a plethora of ridiculous terms and phrases] in[cluding]…notorious hotspot…emotional effects of prostitution…“sexual harm”…urgent action to finally get street prostitution under control…“The psychological impacts of [consensual adult] sex are immense”…[they also bloviated about “the dangerous cycle of prostitution”]…high levels of anti-social behaviour…pimping…drug-dealing, hazardous litter and noise nuisance….end the harms caused by…sex…sexual exploitation and a form of violence against women and girls…trauma-informed support…and holding organisations [who actually assist sex workers] to account

I can’t help imagining these politicians wanking furiously while vomiting out these sexual fantasies.

Traffic Jam (#443)

This isn’t a “documentary”; the only thing it “documents” is Jones’ creepy fantasies about other women’s lives:

Sarah Jones is about to [present her ugly fantasies about] the sex industry…[in what she claims is a] documentary [even though it’s merely an expanded adaptation of her one-prohibitionist propaganda vehicle] Sell/Buy/Date…[s]he [dazzled a Deadline reporter with meaningless wokespeak about “]how the sex industry sits at the intersection of race, feminism, power and economics in our current cultural climate[” and dropped three big Hollywood names as executive producers:] Rashida Jones, Meryl Streep and Laverne Cox…[other idiotic belching included] “Is sex work exploitative or empowering?” [and “]The sex industry is hiding everywhere in plain sight during the pandemic[“]…

To her credit, Cox listened to sex workers’ complaints about this revolting propaganda (click on the subtitle link for a description) and has already withdrawn her support. The same cannot be said for the clueless Streep, and Rashida Jones is prohibitionist trash with a long history of endangering marginalized women with her videotaped hatespew.

The Prudish Giant (#897) 

It usually starts with sex workers, but it never stops with us:

When [Facebook-owned] Instagram introduced [censorship] guidelines aimed at stopping “sexual solicitation” in December, sex workers were the first to raise the alarm…But [of course they] aren’t the only ones with cause for anxiety.  A whole swathe of sex-related accounts, including those of certified sex educators and sexual wellness brands, are now being [censored]…sex educators [who couldn’t be bothered to stand with sex worksers now realize] censorship on Instagram has gone too far, with some calling it an all-out ban on sex

Pyrrhic Victory (#1030)

Useful idiots destroying any possibility that the facial recognition djinni can ever be rebottled:

After the Capitol riot, Clearview AI…has seen a spike in use…The F.B.I. has posted the faces of dozens of [rioters] and has requested assistance identifying them…Clearview, which is used by over 2,400 [cop shops to violate citizens’ privacy]…relies…on a database of more than 3 billion photos [stolen] from social media networks and other public websites…

Social Distancing (#1080)

I’m sure you feel safer now:

…a…woman [was brutalized and abducted] by four [costumed thugs for] sitting on a bench.  [Video shows] the woman…protesting…”I was sitting on a bench” as she is surrounded by [pigs]…in Bournemouth, Dorset…A furious woman filming the…disgrace…shout[ed] at [pigs]: “What side are you on?”…

Between the Ears (#1081)

“Smart” devices are not, part umpteen:

A hacker took control of people’s internet-connected chastity cages and demanded a ransom to be paid in Bitcoin to unlock it…a security researcher [who] goes by the name Smelly…obtained screenshots of conversations between the hacker and several victims…he…demand[ed] a payment of 0.02 Bitcoin (around $750 today) to unlock the device…These hacks show once again that just because you can connect something to the internet, it doesn’t mean you have to…It’s incidents like these that make some people think the Internet of Things is just a marketing term for the Internet of Hackable Things, as we call it, or even the Internet of Shit, as others call it.  Qiui, the Chin[ese] manufacturer of the device…did not respond to a request for comment…

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I thought y’all might enjoy this Twitter conversation I recently had, primarily with Matisse and Carol Leigh; it touches on a number of themes that recur frequently in my work.  Twitter conversations tend to branch, but I think I’ve managed to gather the main elements I want to share.

 

 

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Why are you in my home?  –  Kawaski Trawick, last words

Though there are rarely any decent holiday videos on YouTube any more (and when there are, they appear only a few days in advance), Christmas has long been a time for celebrating via mind-altering substances.  I therefore present this video, provided by Jesse Walker, who also supplied “corpse” and both obits.  The other links above the video are from Mike Siegel, Walter Olson, Mistress Matisse, Phoenix Calida, and Radley Balko, in that order.

From the Archives

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She was yelling orders at the squirrels and telling them to attack me.  –  James Robinson

Through a series of connections too complicated to describe without an entire paragraph, I recently realized that I have never posted the video of Brak singing “I Love Beans”.  I am not sure how that happened, but it is past time to rectify the situation.  The links above it were provided by Franklin Harris, Walter Olson, Melanie Moore, I Am Curious Blue, Mike Siegel, and Jesse Walker, in that order.

From the Archives

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The wars of the 21st century, unlike their 19th and 20th century counterparts of finite length, will continue on interminably until the Empire waging them is consumed in the flames of its own collective insanity.  –  “War Without End

In the year since my last Armistice Day polemic, the severity of the cracks in the American Empire have become far more evident to everyone who isn’t willfully ignoring them.  As I wrote in “Post-Imperial“,

…whatever prestige the US enjoyed [has been undermined by] the ascension of a mad emperor who has made himself an international laughingstock, burned nearly every bridge, and weakened the economy with a ridiculous trade war; the exposure before the eyes of the world of the violent, racist, authoritarian rot that permeates the entire fascist sytem; the childish bickering and deranged tyrannies of nearly every member of the US political class, trying to one-up each other instead of fulfilling one of the few legitimate functions of government, disaster management; and said government’s shameless funneling of money into the hands of the well-connected on a scale unseen since the collapse of the Ancien Régime…The era of US hegemony is over; it looks, may the gods help us, as though the dominant world political power of the twenties is going to be an empire even more outrageously evil and single-mindedly authoritarian than the US ever was…

Last week, the process of replacing that mad emperor with a senile and more conventionally authoritarian one began, and how exactly that process will unfold is, at the time of this writing, not entirely clear.  But while the antics of the new god-king are likely to be less openly clownish than those of the deposed one, all of the other problems listed in the quote above will remain.  And the wars will go on and on, because as I said a year ago today:

…given the popularity of astonishingly-wasteful military adventurism across the monolithic ruling party naive Americans absurdly refer to as “the political spectrum”, including among those who profess to have better and far more productive ideas for the trillions being flushed down Ares’ toilet, it seems obvious that…a great deal of the impetus for modern warfare, like the impetus for the domestic wars (on drugs, whores, “crime”, etc), comes directly from those reaping profits and gathering political power from the bloodshed…

Furthermore, we can expect most of the voices which have criticized all of this over the past few years to grow silent, as the pretentiously-named “Resistance” evaporates almost as completely as the Bush-era antiwar movement did after the inauguration of Obama, leaving “their guy” free to indulge himself in “empire-building, setting new records for mass deportation, murdering children with flying war robots and using strips of the shredded Constitution to wipe his arse with“.  I say “almost” because it seems at least some of those who describe their beliefs with the silly 18th-century label “left” are at least somewhat more skeptical of Emperor Biden than they were of Emperor Obama, and appear to be at least beginning to comprehend that would-be rulers who choose a jackass as their totem are just as enamored with violence and just as devoted to the principle of “might makes right” as their chums who prefer the totem of a clumsy, lumbering pachyderm.  One way or the other, it’s far too late for the American Empire.  But perhaps those of us who have been sounding the warning for decades may be joined by at least a few extra voices over the next four years.

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Government is at best a barely-necessary evil, and in most cases just a plain evil.  –  “Anarchy?

Every year on this day, following as it does The Day of the Dead, I remind readers that nation-states are, no matter what politicians and other control freaks would like you to believe, every bit as mortal as the humans who create them (albeit somewhat longer-lived on average).  And because the day also falls in close proximity to the US election day, I also use it to remind readers that absolutely no one can be trusted with power over others, and a tyranny which claims legitimacy via the charade of “democratic elections” is no more legitimate than any other because it still claims the “right” to inflict violence upon those who want nothing to do with it and have done nothing to harm anyone.  Nor does the race, gender, sexual orientation, political party or any other characteristic of the power-holders matter; power corrupts, and every last human being is corruptible.  This year, we have seen a greater number of Americans than ever before recognizing that the standing armies created to enforce the arbitrary diktats of sociopathic “leaders” upon their subjects are hopelessly corrupt, evil, and violent, and that their power must be sharply curtailed.  But unfortunately, many well-meaning but naive people will fight to prevent that from happening because they have been brainwashed into fearing what politicians like to call “anarchy”, but is actually nothing of the kind.  Mob violence is not “anarchy”; it is merely a less-organized, less-established form of Might Makes Right, the same principle used to justify every other form of government and policing.  As I wrote two years ago today,

Humans are not yet ready for pure anarchy, and may never be; however, there are functional anarchist societies (I happen to be a member of one), and a small government of strictly-enumerated powers with ironclad guarantees of individual rights is probably the closest we will ever come to a just and incorruptible one…a large part of the problem is that people’s moral perspectives are blighted by a sick infatuation with government, a belief that there are some circumstances in which it’s not only tolerable but desirable to inflict violence on people who have done none to others, in furtherance of some pipe-dream of Utopia…

There is absolutely zero possibility that the United States or any other empire or massive state will ever achieve anything like this, and the empire which will move into the power vacuum left behind by the collapsing US is devoted to exactly the opposite goal.  But it is remotely possible that in the Balkanized North America of the near future, some small independent realm will at least make the attempt.

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Death is what gives life meaning, and fighting excessively against it is as childish and futile as the behavior of a toddler who refuses to let another child take his place on the carousel once his ride is done.  –  “Thanatopsis

Every year on the Day of the Dead I write about the inevitability and goodness of Death.  Yes, I said “goodness”; as I wrote in “Eternity“, “Eternal life wouldn’t be a gift; it would be a horror literally beyond imagining.”  I’ve never been especially afraid of death; part of that is due to the fact that “I was a strange, wild, moody Wednesday Addams of a child, born on Halloween night and fascinated with horror lore and imagery.  Autumn was both my native season and the one in which I felt most comfortable” The rest, of course, was a combination of chronic depression and ruthless pragmatism; for much of my life I endured long periods in which I would have viewed death as a welcome release, and even when I was in a cheerier frame of mind I was still rational enough to recognize that the continuance of life for any given creature requires the regular deaths of countless others.  But it wasn’t until my forties that I started become really philosophical about mortality, and only five years ago did I really start to deeply ponder its spiritual dimension.  The latter development was not merely due to age, though that undoubtedly helped put me in the right headspace; a catalyst was required, and that catalyst was edible cannabis.  I started experimenting with what are typically and not-entirely-correctly called “recreational drugs” near the end of 2014, and though several of them gave me very rewarding experiences with others, it was the psychedelic experiences I had from using largish doses of edible cannabis alone (or more accurately, without human company) that opened the doors to the Infinite and gave me a perspective on death, the soul and my place in Everything which eventually led to a spiritual peace unlike any I had ever known.  I was far from alone; those who refuse to be bound by the Puritanism which has trapped modern humanity in a death-grip have for decades tried to tell everyone else about the healing and mind-expanding power of psychedelic drugs, and since the 1990s studies have increasingly demonstrated the power of such substancies to alleviate depression, PTSD and other mental health issues.  But this is not a new discovery, it is, rather, a rediscovery of truths known to our ancestors millenia ago:

…sacred tripping was not simply a function of prehistoric religious rituals and shamanism, but an integral, even central part, of the world of the ancient Greeks….The Immortality Key: The Secret History of the Religion With No Name, by Brian Muraresku…shows…the centrality of psychedelic use…in an elaborate and mysterious once-in-a-lifetime ceremony at the Temple of Eleusis, a short distance from Athens.  We’ve long known about…the Mysteries…and the rite of passage they offered — because it’s everywhere in the record.  Many leading Greeks and Romans went there, including Plato and Marcus Aurelius…The Greeks and Romans went to Eleusis only once in their lives, like the Muslim hajj, to participate in a nocturnal rite, and were sworn to secrecy as to what went on.  But the constant theme in the ancient literature around this ritual is that it somehow took the sting of death away.  “Death is for mortals no longer an evil, but a blessing” was the phrase attached to it…Historians and classicists have long pondered what this meant and what exactly happened, but all agree that it required drinking a special brew.  And new discoveries of ancient chalices and cups — and new techniques of testing ancient residue — have begun to suggest what made these archaic potions so special…they contained countless herbs and spices and ingredients, among them, critically, elements of ergot, a fungus that infected barley and rye and had potent hallucinogenic effects…Another re-examined excavation in Pompeii found the preserved remains at the bottom of large barrels jars dated to 79 CE:  chemical analysis found it included seeds of cannabis, opium, and hallucinogenic nightshades.  The recipe for the psychedelic brew and the preparation of it was restricted to women, who passed on the secret recipes from mother to daughter, and was the particular preserve of older women.  The effect, we’re told in the sources, was transformative: you saw past life and death, you became unafraid of your own mortality, you gained perspective and inner peace…
When I read this article a few days ago, I wasn’t really surprised; I have long understood that knowledge is cyclic, and many truths are gained, lost, and gained again, not merely on a societal level but in the lives of individuals treading paths new to us, but well-worn by countless others.  And my own life is replete with “coincidences” and “happenstances” which are in actuality nothing but; I see them as the Hand of the Divine, though you of course are free to draw your own conclusions.  I do not have access to the sacred recipe for the transformative cocktail at the center of The Mysteries, and yet I nonetheless have followed in the footsteps of my many-times-great-grandmeres by offering to others the wisdom that mortality is not a thing to fear, but rather a blessing to accept when it comes to us in the fullness of time.

 

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