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Archive for the ‘Perception’ Category

I don’t pay much attention to where blog traffic comes from any more; Google hides so much now that it’s no longer possible to easily deduce why there might be a sudden spike in traffic on a given day.  But when I saw an unusually-large spike one day last week, my curiosity got the better of me so I decided to search for the source.  As you might expect I found nothing, but in the process I followed a link back to some kind of bulletin-board site on which a newbie client was asking other dudes for advice on what to do on his first professional date.  One of the repliers had linked back to my site (alas, not to this article or this resource); a couple spouted “sex trafficking” nonsense at him; and one was clearly an exploitative hobbyist-type who gave him “advice” that mostly involve looking for the youngest, lowest-priced sex workers available because they have poor boundaries in comparison with older, established escorts.  But I was honestly a little surprised at the number of replies from guys containing various bizarre tales about how most escorts are robbers, a large number have “pimps” literally hiding under our beds or in our closets, etc.  Now, part of this is undoubtedly propaganda (possibly from either prohibitionists or “incels”) which those who shared it don’t actually believe, but use in an attempt to scare the gullible away from pragmatic sexual arrangements.  But the rest seems to me to be a resurgence of the “whore as criminal” myth popular through much of the 20th century, and still secretly popular among cops and other assorted lawheads no matter how much “sex trafficking” garbage they vomit up.  Given that we seem to finally be approaching the end of the “sex trafficking” moral panic (though a few years later than I originally predicted), this may be a bellwether for the direction prohibitionist propaganda will turn next; it certainly fits in well with charging sex workers as “pimps” for helping each other, etc, and follows the pattern we saw in the US following the collapse of the last round of “sex trafficking” hysteria about 90 years ago.  But we didn’t have social media then, and this time sex workers need to be ready to jump on these old lies as they’re taken out of mothballs, before they can be fully laundered and trotted out as popular fashions again.

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As I’ve repeatedly stated over the past ten years, cops are not only not protectors of women; they are an active menace to women.  They regularly stalk and sexually harass women, and that often escalates to rape, a crime for which they only rarely face any consequences even when they don’t claim the rape was “consensual sex“, a “search“, or a “prostitution investigation“.  They beat their wives with horrifying regularity, and have apparently no compunctions against violently attacking or restraining women who pose them absolutely no physical threat.  And yet probitionists want to give these deranged perverts even more power over women’s lives.  For four decades I’ve talked about this, only to be repeatedly dismissed as a crank, a political extremist, or simply a whore with an axe to grind (sometimes all three).  But thanks to the current zeitgeist, it has now become possible for a woman whose name isn’t Maggie McNeill to publish something like this:

…the notion that abolishing the police will have negative repercussions for women radically misunderstands both American policing and sexual violence.  Police abolition need not be considered an abdication of the responsibility to protect women, but rather a way to fulfill it…police…frequently use the privileges and protections of their job to hurt women with impunity.  Police households have dramatically higher rates of domestic violence than other homes, with approximately 40% [beating their wives], compared with roughly 10% of the general population.  Worse, women beaten by cop partners often have no one to call:  the very people they are told to seek help from are the friends and colleagues of their abusive husbands and boyfriends.  And if their abuser is a cop, he has a gun, knows the locations of women’s shelters, and knows how to shift the blame to his victim if she seeks help…The police also have a tendency to commit sexual violence on the job…sexual violence is the second most commonly reported kind of police misconduct…A large, unaccountable group of primarily men, empowered to commit violence to maintain existing hierarchies of power, is not going to end the scourge of sexual violence against women.  As feminists, we must recognize that the police are more likely to hurt women than to help us…

If “feminists” had spent more time listening to sex workers and less gazing into their own navels, they’d have understood that 50 years ago instead of conspiring with armed rapists against other women.  But you know what?  I’m not actually bitter.  I’m just glad these dumb bunnies are beginning to wake up, albeit decades too late.

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I think it’s extremely important that sex workers have resources inside our own community, because far too many companies are happy to use the demimonde to boost their growth, then suddenly become all pious and kick us out when they decide they don’t need us any more.  Regular readers know that I’ve featured sex worker-owned web businesses before, so when I saw Estelle talking about her company online, I invited her to introduce her service to y’all.

Before I tell you about Red Cloud Hosting, let me tell you about me.  I’m a Muslim who’s been a sex worker for 11 years; I predominantly work as a private escort in Melbourne, Australia, but I’ve toured many countries and worked in an agency in Europe.  From the beginning of my career, technology captured my interest and my curiosity led me to investigate its influences and how it can enhance our work.  Sex workers have the right to practical, reliable, dependable and simple technology to build, organise, advertise and work safely online, so four years ago I created Red Files Inc, a digital space that allows sex workers to share resources and information safely and securely.  I created this project as part of my wider sex work activism, and it’s a registered non-profit charity.

Now that you understand my background, it’s obvious why I created Red Cloud Hosting in May 2018, a digital solutions company with a strong focus on sex workers which started as a safe web hosting platform.  As my activism primarily focused on local or national laws in Australia, I didn’t notice the sinister nature of FOSTA/SESTA until it was too late; I also could not have anticipated how pervasive these laws were, and how they threatened sex work advocacy efforts globally.  While any laws or regulations that punish sex workers are horrible in of themselves, this law seemed particularly far-reaching and conniving.  For example, I operate my business in the legalised state of Victoria in Australia, yet American laws continually curtail and hinder my ability to work safely.  So I put my utilitarian mind to work and concocted a solution.  One year after launch, Red Cloud evolved to provide further reliable digital and web solutions for sex workers.  Through the course of my work I found too often workers kicked off web creation platforms, or swindled by self-proclaimed webmasters that overpromise, overcharge, and under-deliver; others are completely boggled by the complicated process of setting up a website for themselves. Red Cloud now offers simple, affordable web and technology solutions for sex workers wanting more personalised, secure and friendly services.

As I believe in self-determination, Red Cloud Hosting focuses on empowering workers to learn how to manage their websites in a clean, simple and supported manner.  If I’m the brains of Red Cloud, then my work colleague and Webmistress Kim Cums is the brawn.  There’s not much you can’t do with a website when you have Kim on your team; she’s a jill of all trades who learned how to set up shop online from the ground up.  Her personal sex working website offer a variety of engagements from videos, images, member signup sections, a forum, mailing lists, sex worker friendly payment processes and more; she launched the sex worker focused Bumbershoot Creative and now offers her technological expertise to others.  While Kim’s skills lay in website creation, I specialise in copywriting and editing.  In my muggle life I’m a writer, and with my experience, I know exactly what content attracts clients.  Much of my work with Red Cloud is writing up new, fresh copy for sex workers, because we all know how cumbersome it can be to write about yourself in a sexy light.  I’m also socially aware of the sex work laws in different countries and can use language to circumvent legal issues.  I have another sex worker colleague, Chelsea who is in charge of SEO Audits.  In her other life she’s an SEO whiz and that’s all I’ll say about the mysterious woman to protect her identity.  She goes over your website with a fine comb and teaches you on how to improve your SEO traffic.  I haven’t been able to showcase much of our work in the area of image editing just yet but my little worker bee Finnley is well-versed in the area and I will be sharing some photos soon.  While the rest of our services don’t have much to do with FOSTA/SESTA, I have found in my two years of running Red Cloud, that most people want everything setup in one spot.  That’s why I added additional services such as Kim’s photography and videography for those in Sydney. When she resumes travelling interstate, I’m sure this will be applicable for the rest of Australia, although I’m sad to say you Americans might miss out until the pandemic fades out.

Our websites come in the form of Packages that are customised for the level of investment a sex worker is wanting to put into their business. They start from $490AUD setup fee, with an ongoing $30 monthly fee for maintenance, security plugins, updates and so on.  All websites are FOSTA/SESTA consequence free. For every Package purchased with Red Cloud, a donation is made to Red Files Inc or to a sex worker organisation of your choice. Red Cloud can now offer sex workers in Australia and internationally:

  • Dedicated and trusted servers for website hosting based in Australia.
  • Hundreds of website templates specifically tailored and curated to appeal to the sex industry.
  • Personalised domain (for example www.myescortwebsite.com).
  • Domain email setup (for example professionalescort@me.com).
  • Complete and customisable website creation and build-up on WordPress.
  • Migration or replication of past website onto Red Cloud.
  • A variety of website packages aimed at sex workers at any stage of their business.
  • Add-ons to provide your website a personal touch such as mailing lists, blog, screening forms or tours page.
  • Content creation, copywriting and editing that suit the legality of your country.
  • General website tweaks and must-have plugin, security and SSL updates.
  • Professional videography for escorts, porn performers and webcam models.
  • Professional photography geared for content creation, escort portfolios, brand building.
  • Professional editing of images including colour correction, blemishes, body modification, lighting, facial blurring, tattoo removal and airbrushing.
  • Dedicated sex working support team to help and guide you with quick responses.
  • Individual, one-on-one website creation coaching and training.
  • SEO audits and analytics setup.

Red Cloud is entirely sex worker-led and I aim to educate sex workers on technological literacy while I build their websites. If you want to transfer the hosting for your website to a sex worker owned company that’s FOSTA/SESTA proof, then I’m your girl.  There are a few limitations:  if you’re transferring from Wix or Squarespace their technology locks you into their services, and if you host pornographic material, Australian federal laws prevents me from hosting it.  However, I have other solutions if you need.  Red Cloud is also a great company to engage with if you want to rejig or refresh your brand with a new name or if you’ve just entered the industry.  Our Add-Ons means that anything you want can be added on top of your Package so it suits your needs.  I am not here to make big bucks off sex workers; I want to contribute to the growth and profit of sex worker businesses.  I understand not everyone has a casual $500 to invest and that is why I often create flexible financial arrangements; monthly payments instead of once-offs. I would much rather see you maximising your earnings when you are ready and not have to wait for that initial investment to come in.

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When I was younger, I made it a point never to say “I told you so” even when I had, because it struck me as annoying and arrogant even when it was justified.  Well, those days are gone.  I’ve been warning people about what I see coming, and largely being ignored (when I’m not being dismissed as paranoid or overly cynical), for decades now, so maybe if I rub some noses in it when events prove me right in spades, a few more will start fucking listening.  Take the current protests, for example; regular readers know I’ve been writing about police brutality for a very long time, and I’m certainly not alone in recognizing policing as a dangerous societal malady.  But even many soi-disant “leftists” who claim to be against police violence haven’t been against policing itself, and have long comforted themselves with fantasies about “reform”; many of them now seem to be waking up to the recognition that the only “reform” that will work is defunding, disarming, downsizing and eventually abolishing them.  Furthermore, these same people have blathered nonsense about gun control for years, foolishly concerning themselves with rare acts of violence by private citizens instead of recognizing the need for citizens (especially minorities) to be armed against the depredations of government actors; I notice they’ve been a lot quieter for the past week, and some have even started talking about the Second Amendment they until recently idiotically criticized as an anachronism.  And then there are the protests themselves; I’ve been predicting since at least early April that the first riots would occur on May 1st (I was off by one day; it was April 30th) and would become a major crisis by the end of May.  Obviously, the current riots are mostly about cop violence, but if you really think anger at government declaring them “nonessential”, stealing their livelihoods and “locking them down” like prisoners aren’t contributing factors, I have nothing to say to you.  Also:  if the whole idiotic “lockdown” scheme was really necessary to control the spread of the virus, why isn’t anybody panicking & shaming the protesters gathering in vastly larger crowds than their “leaders” declared acceptable?  I think that’s enough; you get the picture, and if I keep listing examples I’m just going to get more insufferable than I already am.  But Cassandra is done being polite, and isn’t ever going to let y’all forget that she warned y’all about that fucking horse.

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It will be neither an easy fight nor a quick one, but neither was the struggle for LGBT rights and look how far that’s come.  –  “Galvanized

Today is International Whores’ Day, a celebration of the power and resilience of sex workers in the face of state violence and social stigma alike.  This year, when our community is suffering from pandemic-caused privation in addition to the evil crusade which many governments subject to US hegemony have increasingly inflicted upon us since the beginning of the century, it may seem as though there is little to celebrate; some even worry (and others hope) that current conditions will accomplish what no other menace in history has been able to, the end of sex work as a viable profession.  The yellow journalists at CNN even published a story whose headline shrieks, “Can the world’s oldest profession survive the age of social distancing?” and I’m here to answer it:  Of course we fucking can.  As I wrote over three years ago in “For My Sisters“,

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…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.

The prohibitionists’ best attempts to crush us have all backfired; public support for decriminalization is higher than it has ever been, and a week doesn’t pass that some prominent magazine, newspaper, website or even politician calls for it.  Every prominent human rights organization, medical organization, and academic who has studied the subject agrees.  Sex work is even increasingly viewed as “cool” by young people, and the same pandemic which is causing us so much pain right now has also turned “sex trafficking” hysteria into yesterday’s news (a fact even prohibitionists are starting to grasp).  Yes, things are very damned bad right now…and it will pass, as everything does.  And when it does we will still be here, just as we always have been.

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One of the things Twitter users sometimes do is post old pictures with the hashtag #ThrowbackThursday (on Thursdays, natch).  Well, I recently discovered some old photos, and picked a few to share with you.  I hope you enjoy them!  This first is the oldest; it’ a picture of my kitty Sheena from about September 1984, when she was only a few months old:

This is from my very first professional photo shoot (on actual film), April 2000:

Here’s another from the same shoot; my boob job was only about three months in the past, so they were still very hard & shiny:

Here’s a promo shot from a year later, Easter 2001:

Here’s one taken by my wasband Matt on a hike in the Cleveland National Forest, probably summer of 2002:

This was from an experiment in black on black, I believe sometime in 2001:

And here’s another from my very first shoot; as you can see I was already playing up the librarian thing:

And finally, another shot of my pussy; this was immediately after moving into a new apartment, I believe July 1988:

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Phrases like “essential worker” and “nonessential business” are now being bandied about by the collectivists without any apparent recognition of what such phrases say about their ugly view of humanity.  People are complex individuals who often find comfort in belonging to something larger than themselves; they are not ants or mechanical parts to be reduced to “workers” and declared “essential” or “nonessential” (for the latter read “disposable”) by their owners.  The idea that bureaucrats have the right to make such pronouncements over the lives of individuals, and to dictate that some people are unworthy of being allowed to make a living and feed their families, is a totalitarian abomination.  Even if you accept the extremely shaky premise that it was “necessary” to forcibly cut off some people’s income in order to manage a pandemic, no society which pretends to be “free” has any business sorting human beings into categories as though they were produce.  Rather than subjectively (and such decisions were extremely subjective, varying wildly from state to state and country to country) declaring some people’s businesses, jobs, and needs expendable, governments could instead have established clear, objective criteria to which businesses had to adhere in order to go unharassed.  For example, the plexiglass shields which have now appeared in grocery stores and other “essential” outlets would be equally effective in many other businesses, regardless of whether politicians declared them “essential” or not, and cops have repeatedly demonstrated in the past few weeks that they imagine their busybody interference in the lives of people who are doing mundane things that aren’t remotely unsafe (such as walking with a spouse in a park) to be “essential” despite its potential to expose people to infection (especially when they actually manhandle such people and lock them in the filthy cages which have become breeding grounds for pestilence).  In short, the only people who have demonstrated themselves to be “nonessential” during this crisis are the sociopathic control freaks who imagine that everything they do and say is important, while other people are simply interchangeable objects to be sorted through and either used or discarded.

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My marriage has been sexless for last 20 years.  During that time I’ve been fortunate enough to find three married lovers, but nothing recently despite dating sites.  I did search “escorts” but I’ve never paid for sex and can’t contemplate $750 an hour for those I saw on these sites.  However, I’ve heard housewives selling sex for money are much cheaper; how do I reach these?

Hire. An. Escort.

You are going to get caught if you keep playing around with amateurs, and unless you’re looking in NYC or at porn actresses, escorts aren’t charging $750/hour.  I’m “high end” and I charge $400 for one hour, $1200 for a four-hour dinner date; that’s pretty typical in most sizeable US cities.  I wrote an article for Reason a couple of years ago with advice on finding a good pro; I suggest you follow that advice before you get caught.  And I guarantee you a divorce will set you back more than a few hundred bucks once or twice a month.
(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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I’ve been following Maya Morena, an undocumented migrant sex worker and tireless activist, since she became more prominent a year or so ago; I’ve wanted to publish a guest column from her for a while now, so I was pleased to have the opportunity to offer her this space to describe yet another effort by prohibitionists to silence us.

On March 10, 2020 I had the pleasure of attending the Sex Workers’ Pop-Up with some friends.  Sex workers and undocumented immigrants are subject to constant epistemic injustice, so something so simple as basic human respect from outsiders is rare.  We were trusted to represent ourselves and not be symbols for someone else’s white savior project.  I was excited by how many people showed up to support, knowing I would be looking at my friends’ faces on the gallery walls, and their artwork and stories would be showcased. The event itself mostly consisted of a panel of sex workers and people who identify as sex trafficking victims (or both). Personally, I didn’t think the event was radical enough and I’m hopeful that new platforms will spring up in the future.  But the hatred and exclusion that we were met with by a highly organized network of organizations was unbelievable, and considering that the exhibit was closed ahead of schedule due to COVID-19, the SWERFs who fought so hard for weeks to get it shut down have gotten their wish in the end.

On March 2, 2020 “New Yorkers for the Equality Model”, a coalition of organizations fighting for Swedish-style criminalization, created a letter with their partners.  I had protested the very formation of that group a few months earlier, and started http://www.equalitymodel.com to educate the public on what they were doing; in response, they filed a bogus DMCA takedown against it (as they have done many times against female content creators) and had a whole section of the site taken down.  I ended up paying $550 trying to file a counterclaim to protect my information from them, but didn’t have funds to keep fighting.  Various SWERFs such as Rachel Moran, and Julie Bindel (who don’t even live in New York) have been demanding that the MTA and Outfront Media take down our (paid-for) posters for the events we were hosting.  This is very on-brand for Bindel, who has argued that giving sex workers hand sanitizers and medical advice on how to reduce potential disease is a “waste of time” since it would “encourage” sex workers to stay working longer (as though people were doing sex work for the sole reason that someone gave them hand sanitizer).  The letter itself – hosted on their website and promoted through mainstream media – claims that there’s an evil conspiracy by George Soros to target children through the ads and get them to become sex slaves.  The letter makes the claim that “The term ‘sex work’ is a euphemism for prostitution, coined in the 1980s by people with financial interests in the sex trade, whose goal was to mainstream and normalize the systems of prostitution and commercial sexual exploitation.”  The “people with financial interests” referred to are sex workers, because “sex work” encompasses everything from stripping, to webcamming, to dominatrix work – not only prostitution, and not all illegal; the term was actually coined by Carol Leigh, a sex worker and activist.  The letter goes on to dehumanize sex workers by comparing us to drugs, cigarettes, guns, and organs harvesting, then makes veiled threats against sex workers by stating that we are still criminalized in New York in an attempt to get the ads censored by New York state.  Many of the organizations who penned the letter worked hard to create the Human Trafficking Intervention Courts which still incarcerate and deport sex workers, despite their repeated claims that they wouldn’t.

The organizations who make up “New Yorkers for the Equality Model” are deeply racist, but try to obscure this is by exploiting a few migrants as tokens via the “Trafficking Visa“, which has only been given to 6780 people over the past 11 years despite having an annual cap of 5,000 (it is one of the only visas that never meets its cap).  And even it is very weak help; it only gives an immigrant the right to work in the US for 4 years.  This is best the  US and “anti-trafficking” groups have to give to people they label victims.  The US spends millions every year on “human trafficking”, most of which goes toward police and border control efforts; the prohibitionist organizations are “law and order” types, and only “help” migrants – exploited or otherwise – who are willing to help them put others behind bars.  These tokens are therefore not good representatives of sex workers or marginalized groups.  They represent oppressive institutions that exclude and criminalize undocumented immigrants from services; they are an exceedingly small minority which promotes criminalization of other minorities; and when they work for the state or “anti-trafficking” organizations, they often consider themselves “legal immigrants” and thus superior to sex workers and “illegal” immigrants.  Even the kids who have been separated from their parents, molested by guards at the border, and sold through adoption are not considered worthy of assistance; they are “criminals” just like me, who was a child migrant and a DACA kid.  It does hurt that the people who work hard to erase marginalized people get to claim they’re “saving” us to a gullible public.

But despite the Sex Worker Pop-Up’s short duration, it did give me a glimpse of how many sex workers allies there are, and how much they desire to listen to and support us.  I met more sex workers in that one place then I have anywhere else except for the internet, and was able to connect with radical activists, content creators, professionals, and even male sex workers that our sciety prefers to pretend don’t exist.  We even spoke about creating other, future events to educate the public, even though we know we’ll have to fight those who want to silence and harm us to do so.

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Are “talkers” still a type of customer?  It seems like sex workers perform a lot of therapy as part of their job; there’s a lot of sexual stuff I would never talk about to any therapist, and I’m sure there are plenty like me out there.

Oh, sure.  Contrary to the twisted, ugly sexual fantasies of prohibitionists, most clients aren’t interested in the human equivalent of a sex doll; as I wrote in “The Pygmalion Fallacy“,

Prohibitionists…are fond of characterizing men’s interaction with whores as “use”; they constantly speak of hookers “selling their bodies” or clients “objectifying” us.  But as every one of my readers who has ever participated on either side of the equation knows, this is pure bunk; the vast majority of men who hire prostitutes aren’t just looking for warm holes, but rather interaction with real women…

If the fantasies of prohibitionists and “sex robot” fetishists were based in reality, one would expect the demand for passive, inarticulate whores to be much higher than the demand for those with strong minds, strong wills and strong communication skills.  But if anything, the opposite tends to be true:  in general, the more an escort charges, the less sex she has and the more talking she does.  Most guys won’t pay high-range prices for a companion who can’t carry on a conversation, and this has been true throughout history (as demonstrated by the number of famous courtesans who were also accomplished poets, writers, artists, and even philosophers).

This is only half of the equation, however.  As you pointed out, many people don’t feel comfortable discussing intimate (and possibly embarrassing) details of their sexualities with academic types; it’s why surveys about sexual topics are so notoriously unreliable, and the results of such polls are a better indicator of what the respondents think the researchers want to hear than what they actually think, feel and do.  Add to that the existence of “mandated reporting” laws which demand that pschiatric professionals snitch to the cops about the feelings some of their patients divulge under the mistaken belief that their confidences will be kept confidential, and I think you can understand why many men prefer to discuss their private sexual feelings with members of a profession who have been comforting men and keeping their secrets since the dawn of human civilization.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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