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Archive for the ‘Perception’ Category

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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I recently started dating an escort that I’ve been seeing professionally for a while, but I found out that all of her escort friends are warning her away from me.  Why are they so skeptical about my feelings toward her?

Relationships with escorts are fraught with complications for a number reasons, including but not limited to:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

  • Clients trying to get free sex by promising “love”, just as men have done to amateur women for millennia;
  • Clients who are turned on by whores qua whores, and not really attracted to the women as individuals;
  • Guys who really think they love a whore, but are not  prepared for the social stigma or the burden of having to keep her secret from employers, family, friends, etc;
  • Men who really are in love with whores, but let jealousy destroy the relationships;
  • Men who fancy themselves pimps and try to manage their girlfriends’ work, even to the point of abusive and controlling behavior;
  • Boyfriends or husbands who demand that the sex worker give up her work and either become economically dependent (“barefoot and pregnant”) or go to work in a shitty non-sex “straight” job that will wear her down;
  • Clients who think they’re in love with a woman, but are actually just infatuated with her business persona;
  • Guys who imagine that sex workers’ sex drives are higher than those of amateur women, or that they’re always more open-minded about preferences and kinks that they’re not being paid to indulge.

Those last two are probably the most insidious, because they may be hard for either party to tell apart from real affection and only reveal themselves once the couple is cohabiting and he discovers that he doesn’t like her relaxed, yoga-pants-wearing, housework-hating, menstruating, bad-hair-day-having, moody, personal-problem-suffering, family-drama-experiencing, opinion-expressing, not-always-in-the-mood, idiosyncratic self.  And this is just a start; if I sat here for a while I could probably think of half a dozen more, and I invite sex workers to include others in the comments.  I’m not saying a relationship with a sex worker is impossible; most of us do indeed have intimate partners, most of whom are male and some fraction of whom were formerly clients.  But there are special difficulties inherent in such relationships that require patience, wisdom and love to overcome or circumvent, and because several of those only apply to partners who started as clients, many sex workers are of the opinion that it’s better to minimize problems by eliminating those potential avenues of difficulty through the strategy of never, ever becoming emotionally involved with clients in the first place.

(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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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on January 18th; I have modified it slightly for time references and to fit the format of this blog.

The Golem (1920)One would think that after a century of the motion picture as an art form, people would grasp that just because something appears on film does not make it real.  Despite its name, even cinéma vérité is less than truthful; as in subatomic physics, even the mere presence of an observer changes the observational subject.  And given that a self-professed “documentary” filmmaker still chooses what to film and what to edit out, whom to interview and whom to ignore, how to frame different viewpoints and what the narrator will say, no reasonable person could imagine that simply granting a production replete with exaggeration, distortion and outright lies the dignity of a “nonfiction” label actually has the power to make it so.  Unfortunately, the majority of the population is anything but reasonable, and misnaming a drama a documentary or claiming that it is “based on a true story” is more than enough to convince them that real life is truthfully and objectively portrayed therein.

As you might expect, moral panics have often been amplified by such means, but the advent of cheap digital cameras and software-based editing has democratized the filmmaking process to such an extent that the first moral panic of the internet era, the “sex trafficking” hysteria, has been promoted thus to an unprecedented extent.  So while the two most prominent examples of “sex trafficking” fetishism misrepresented as fact, namely Taken and Eden, are products of the professional moviemakers’ craft (the former a big-budget studio release, the latter a smaller-budget “independent”), there have also been a plethora of semi-professional and amateur films, ranging from small-budget to no-budget, which purport to tell the “truth about sex trafficking” to credulous, slack-jawed audiences who prefer their BDSM porn in disguised form.  Much has been written about the fraud named Eden and the chief perpetrator of the scam, Chong Kim; applying the same scalpel to the body of low-end “sex trafficking” cinema soon results in a gory mess too graphic even for the slasher movies which appeal to roughly the same sensibilities as these so-called “documentaries”.

In just the past two years I’ve logged eight of these cheapies:  Ente, Lot Lizard, Anna, Dirty Little Secret, The Making of a Girl, International Boulevard, Chosen and The Long Night; it’s entirely possible that there may have been others which escaped my notice.  Then early last month I read reports of not one but three more, all in the same day.  The headline for the first, 8 Days, alludes to the aforementioned blockbuster Taken, and the article itself seems to have been written by a Hollywood wannabe:

A new film based on actual events exposes the shocking secrets of Human Trafficking.  If you think it isn’t happening in your hometown, you’re wrong…8 Days…is…based on a true story…a teen named Amber who comes from an affluent Texas family, goes to a…party where she gets drunk, is kidnapped, and later sold to pimps…“kids are targeted at the mall or the movies, parties and at school,” said Jaco Booyens, the film’s director.  “In the movie, Amber was trafficked by a friend.  A friend!  They’re using people you know to create a comfort zone”…Booyens says the average age…is 12 years old…raped sometimes up to 20 or 30 times in a single day…Victims are often snatched from places such as a party, the mall or the movies, and often, sex traffickers pay someone who is friends with the teen to bring her to a party where they will take her…

Note the repetition, the use of familiar-but-bogus “facts”, and the director’s pretense that because something appears in his movie that somehow constitutes evidence of its reality.  Note also that the story starts with what I call the “Profession of Faith”, the central creed of the “sex trafficking” cult, as does this one:

Filmmakers behind The Trafficking Life…want to get their point across that human trafficking is not just happening somewhere else.  It’s become a big problem here at home…Diana Cisneros…is the center of a new documentary in which she shares the growing problem taking place in Kern County [California]…

Kern County is infamous for this kind of moral panic; it was one of the early centers of the Satanic Panic as well.  But while fanatics claim that “sex trafficking happens everywhere”, the truth is that it’s sex trafficking hysteria that’s nearly omnipresent:

A Path Appears investigates young women in America forced into a life of prostitution…in our own backyards — in Chicago and Nashville and Boston.  The Department of Justice estimates that there are 300,000 children at risk of being trafficked into sexual slavery in the U.S…Ashley Judd and Nicholas Kristof are guided through the streets of Nashville by a woman who was first sold to a pimp by her mother at the age of 12, and then visit an example of a solution that works…sting operations cracking down on the buyers of sex…

David DelayNone of these fakumentaries take the trouble to investigate squat; as should be obvious from the repetition of prohibitionist lies in these articles, all they do is to parrot the same old nonsense about “children”, “pimps”, “sex slavery” and the like while infantilizing sex workers, demonizing clients, lionizing cops and celebrating criminalization.  But when anything becomes as popular as these films have, it’s inevitable that life will start imitating art, at least in the minds of the corrupt:

The…founder and owner of “Grandpa’s RV Productions,” David Delay, Sr., is accused of coaxing two teens into prostitution and then threatening to expose them on Facebook if they stopped working for him.  Delay, 48, has been charged with a host of pimping-related crimes alongside Marysa Renee Comer, a 20-year-old woman accused of assisting in running the operation from their Lynnwood [Washington] apartment…an 18-year-old young woman…fell in love…with Comer, who began picking her up at school with Delay.  The [young woman] began dating Comer and Delay, in an effort to make a life with Comer…they told [her] they were making a documentary about human trafficking and  prostitution.  “They stated it was best for her to be involved in the documentary by escorting so that she can know what it is really all about”…said [the] charging papers…Comer and Delay set up the encounters and took all the money she was paid…a subsequent search of prostitution advertisements by police supported [her] claims that she’d been taken around the country to work as an escort…

In other words, an actual criminal got the idea for his criminal acts from the propaganda put out by the people who pretend to be interested in fighting such exploitation; given that it happened in the state that’s most heavily invested in “sex trafficking” hysteria, it’s the kind of irony one might expect to find in a Hollywood screenplay.

Cut.  Print.

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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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No sex worker I know reports clients as being the biggest problem…it’s always the rescuers, the police and the state who seem to do them the most harm.  –  Marijke Vonk

Real People 

First They Came for the Hookers…

Police cracked down on four dancers and two managers at a San Antonio gentleman’s club…after the strippers allegedly revealed a little bit too much skin…undercover [perverts entrapped]…dancers [into] pulling down the waistband of their thongs to reveal “the crevice of their buttocks,” which is a violation of a city ordinance…

Sexual Predators

There’s no badge-licking quite as nauseating as that which appears in stories about vice stings:

…Philadelphia…Vice squad posted provocative ads on backpage.com…men…were completely unaware that the women they had arranged to meet were actually undercover female police officers…Northeast Philadelphia has become a “hotbed” for prostitution…So…police are attacking the demand…”We’re taking their cell phones, we’re taking their money and we’re publicizing their names…” [a cop mouthpiece bragged]…Police say prostitution is a magnet for all types of crime including guns, drugs and human trafficking which can put even innocent bystanders in danger…

You heard it here first, folks; when a man pays me to have sex in private, a magical magnetic field is created which attracts guns and drugs, and those inanimate objects in turn emit radiation which can “put innocent bystanders in danger”.  Nor is this kind of obsequious toadying limited to the broadcast media, or to Pennsylvania:

…Since January, D.C. police have run a string of stings…luring men with fake ads on the Internet…[the cops pretend to be] responding to complaints from residents…[about] prostitutes along 14th Street [by going after internet escorts who aren’t on the street]…

Feminine Pragmatism (#133)

More accurate headline:  “Woman prevented from working to support her child”:

Valerie Fairman, who appeared on the second season of MTV’s Sixteen and Pregnant, was arrested…in…a…prostitution sting…[in] Delaware  [which cops pretended was] “in response to numerous citizen complaints about prostitution”…

Under Every Bed 

It’s astonishing to realize that these people are serious:

…It is often difficult for citizens and law enforcement to identify cases of human trafficking because the deals often happen online…said Jodi Emerson…[of “rescue” profiteer group] Fierce Freedom…“If I had someone call me up today and say, ‘I’m a victim of human trafficking and want to get out of it,’ I don’t really have anywhere to put them”…an unintended effect of strengthened drug trafficking laws in Wisconsin is a shift in criminal enterprises from drugs to prostitution…it is becoming easier and more profitable for gangs and other criminals to sell something repeatedly rather than only once…

Monsters Penny Proud

The rash of murders of black transwomen continues:

Penny Proud, who was fatally shot…in New Orleans, is the fifth transgender woman of color in the United States to be killed within the past month…Proud’s death also reinforced other common trends when transgender women are killed: Police misgendered Proud and media coverage dwelled on prostitution, even though it had no apparent connection to the homicide…An article and video posted on Nola.com called the victim “male” and a “man”…

These same ugly trends appear in the coverage of yet another such murder:

…a Texas College football player [named Carlton Ray Champion]…has been arrested for the murder of Tyrone Underwood…the two men had been seeing each other for several weeks…Carlton…thought [Underwood] was female…The police aren’t saying if the motive was the killing was because Mr. Underwood was a transgender male, but that seems to be the working theory they are going with.  Several members of the transgender community have reached out to say that Ty Underwood shouldn’t be IDed as a male, but as a female, but for accuracy of this reporting we went off the police affidavit…

“We had to parrot the police report even though we knew better” = “we were only following orders”.

Confined and Controlled (#335)

I’m not sure why The Local thinks prostitution is illegal in Italy, when it definitely isn’t:  “A number of Milan politicians have come out in support of opening a red light district in Italy’s financial capital, just days after plans for a prostitution zone were unveiled in Rome…Politicians from both left and right have backed the idea…despite prostitution being illegal in Italy…

Deafening Silence (#413)

Just in time for Chinese New Year, when millions of young Chinese will…be bugged by relatives about if or when they’ll tie the knot, China’s Internet regulator has decided it’s time to crack down on dating websites…[claiming] fraud is rampant…and has become a “public nuisance to millions of users.”  The statement also said prostitution would be targeted and that dating sites must enforce real-name registration…China state media…[have previously] accused [mobile flirting app] Momo of hosting sex workers, saying the “hormone-filled” app provides “a new ‘mobile base’ for sexual trades and other illegal activities…”

Buttons, Bags & Banknotes (#423)

Never forget that according to Bindel, members of the “pimp lobby” include me, two prohibitionist shills, two human rights organizations and a dead guy:

Across the globe, a dangerous, elusive group is gathering force…the Pimp Lobby…refuses to show its true face, hiding instead behind such apparently benevolent fronts as grassroots activist groups, academics, student unions and sex worker rights campaigners…Kate Smurthwaite, a comedian who’s loudly vocalised her belief that paying for sex should be criminalised, recently had a show at Goldsmith’s University cancelled as ticket sales were low…Smurthwaite labelled the night “a pro-pimp event”…requests from people in the industry that they be referred to as “sex workers” have been slammed as cynical obfuscations designed to deceive the public and keep pimps in business.  Some, however, question the existence of this shady lobby, and instead wonder if the label is just a useful way to discredit loud-mouthed sex workers standing up for their beliefs…a new guide was released for journalists (easy prey for this secretive group) advising on how to spot members of the pimp lobby.  The guide was produced by…Julie Bindel…According to Bindel, all sex work is abuse.  Women in sex work should be referred to as “prostituted women”, all their agency removed…Bindel’s guide is full of heart-wrenching statistics.  Many of them don’t stand up to scrutiny, but how important are a few digits?…

Checklist (#441) 

A functioning police state needs no police:

Flight attendants are often the only people outside of government and law enforcement who interact with victims of human trafficking on a regular basis…DHS helps train airline workers to recognize typical signs that a person is being trafficked…now the [rescue industry] group Airline Ambassadors is announcing the launch of a new app that will allow the group to track airline personnel’s reports of suspected trafficking.  The app allows airline workers to upload video footage of suspected trafficking cases to provide evidence something shady is going on…

Drawing Lines (#508) Lisa Ann

Lisa Ann doubles down:

…I’m not a prostitute.  I’m never gonna ask you for money.  I do like to go to games, so if you leave me tickets at will call, I’m there…I tell [basketball players] what to be prepared for.  Lock your wallet, watches or anything valuable in the safe before they invite a girl up…take her phone as soon as she gets into the room and put it in the safe as well…I’m training these boys how to be better men….these guys admit to me that they don’t mind paying for sex…I’m always dealing with the upper echelon.  I’m not a gold digger though…

In fact, this whorearchy-reinforcing, sister-endangering idiot has just doubled herself down into my Hall of Shame.  Welcome to the gallery of obnoxious, clownish sleazebags, Lisa!

Guest Columnist:  Hugo

It’s easier to negatively judge a group of people when they are nothing but “others”, a group of “they” who are different from us.  That’s why visibility is so important when you’re fighting for human rights…Outspoken sex workers force others to accept that prostitutes, not victims of trafficking or coercion, but actual sex workers with opinions and choices who demand some basic respect for their autonomy in fact exist.  It makes it harder to treat us, the sexual “others”, as non-human concepts to theorise about…That’s why I was so happy to read the guest column by Hugo on Maggie McNeill’s blog.  Clients of sex workers are perhaps the most stigmatised and misunderstood people in the entire sex work debate…clients…are often portrayed as horrible abusers…It’s that disgusting stigma that’s behind a lot of the trafficking-rhetoric, the idea that most clients could not care less about her well-being and that there is in fact a big market for abused, tattooed, caged and malnourished girls…a lot of men pay for sex.  There are many sex workers, they all have multiple clients and assuming those clients are not rich enough to see all sex workers, there are more clients than prostitutes.  We know that true psychopaths, people with anti-social personality disorder who enjoy the suffering of others, are thankfully extremely rare.  So it logically follows that most clients are normal men…

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Friday the 13th, In Tandem

Please remember that any contribution – loud or quiet, public or private, eloquent or laconic, lengthy or brief – is important and worthy, and everyone one will hasten the day when governments no longer believe it’s acceptable for them to persecute sex workers, our clients and our associates in any way they please.  –  “Friday the 13th

Except in leap years, February is exactly four weeks long; that means every date in March falls on the same day as it does in February, except in leap years.  And that means that both February and March will have a Friday the Thirteenth this year.  “So what?” new readers may ask; “You aren’t superstitious, are you?”  Well no, I’m not; not about Friday the Thirteenth, anyway, which if anything would be a good luck day for whores.  In fact I intentionally chose to be on the road today – in Las Vegas, to be precise, but not in a casino because I don’t actually believe in luck.  But I digress.  Long-time readers know that every Friday the Thirteenth I ask those of you who aren’t sex workers to speak up for us in some way.  In 2013, I explained it like this:

The gay rights movement didn’t really take off until the friends and families of gay people got involved, and it’s the same for us; since only about 1% of Western women ever formally work as whores, we’re going to need a lot of help to make our voices heard.  We need all the sex workers (such as strippers, dominatrices and porn actresses) whose fields aren’t currently criminalized, and the sugar babies and other women who have informally or indirectly taken money for sex at least once (which might be as high as 10% of all women).  We need all of the men who hire us at least occasionally, which comes to about 20% of the adult male population.  We need all of the women who recognize that cops can’t tell the difference between professionals and amateurs, and that laws which can be used to arrest us will also work to arrest you.  We need all of those who love porn, polyamory, BDSM or kink, because even though policing of sex usually starts with harlots, it never stops with us.  We need all of the public health and human rights experts who understand the necessity of decriminalization in light of their respective fields, all of the libertarians who recognize that governmental prohibition of consensual behavior is both indefensible and dangerous to individual liberty, and all of the feminists who recognize that a woman’s right to control her own body and make her own sexual and economic choices is the primary feminist issue.  And we need all of the decent human beings who don’t fall into any of those categories, but are simply disgusted by the idea of armed thugs arresting, humiliating and ruining people for the “crime” of consensual sex.

In 2012, I even provided a number of suggestions for how you could do it; one such suggestion was to fund activism, and since then I’ve even made it possible for you to donate directly to me if you like (and I’d welcome it if you did, since I have a lot of work to do this year).  But because we’ve got two Friday the Thirteenths so close together this year, what I’m going to do is the same thing I did in December 2013: provide links to every post any of you makes today.  And this time, I’ll also include a section acknowledging every fund-donor by whatever name he or she prefers.  Ready?  Set?  Go! red umbrellas against the sky

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“Hugo” is the pseudonym of a disabled reader in the UK whom I asked for his perspective on the intersection of sex work and disability.  As regular readers know, I am an advocate for the right of disabled people to hire sex workers, and I have written on the subject a number of times.  But since everything I can write myself is from the sex worker’s perspective, I felt it was important to also present the view from the clients’ side.

Sex is everywhere; it is pleasurable, and as natural as breathing.  Sex is also life-affirming and helps human beings connect to one another on a spiritual level; it releases endorphins that reduce pain, it eases frustration, and it reduces the effects of loneliness and depression.  Sex is even a soporific that can help with sleep problems.  It’s at the core of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (under the banner of physical needs).  Sex is the reason why the human race continues to exist.

Willy Wonka chocolate roomNEWSFLASH: DISABLED PEOPLE LOVE SEX, TOO.  Since the arrival of the internet, it has become easier for a lot of people to have a lot of sex, but this is not always so for disabled people like me.  I am reminded of the scene from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory where all the golden ticket winners enter the room where everything is made of chocolate and they can eat everything; I feel as though I am in that room and I am the only one not allowed to fulfill my natural appetites because I am different.  Can you imagine someone telling you by the time you are in your mid-thirties you may never see a naked woman again, or share a bed with a lady for intimate experiences?  In the past I was able to see escorts on a few occasions; these sessions helped with my depression and pain, and even with my self-esteem (I often feel ugly because women don’t choose me).  But now I can no longer see escorts; because of my worsening physical condition I am reliant on other people, and they tend to impose their moral value system onto the proceedings.  Unlike the able-bodied, I cannot even be in charge of my own sexuality; I am totally reliant on other people as to whether I will experience any earthy pleasures before I pass away.  I can barely even masturbate any more, except when I happen to hit my prostate from a certain angle. Because of this degeneration in my physical condition, the future scares me.  I would have loved children, but alas that can never be; I must face the march to the undiscovered country alone.

I understand that able-bodied people tend not to look in the direction of disabled people for mates; I cannot imagine a woman thinking of emptying her dream man’s catheter.  The biological imperative drives people to desire strong physical specimens in order to produce healthy offspring (damn that prefrontal cortex), and even fairy tales teach everyone from a very early age that good people are attractive and well-formed; anyone who is different, with a withered hand or a crooked nose, is always a witch or some other wicked character.  Difference equates to undesirability, both biologically and socially.  We can intellectualise this argument all we want, but as I type this tears are rolling down my cheek and I need a cuddle…or any human contact at all.  But neither society nor its leaders care about that; people with disabilities are dehumanised to a set of symptoms, living packages to be physically maintained but nothing else.  Nor do feminists give a damn about their disabled sisters; they just sit there sipping their gin and tonics fretting about “glass ceilings” and “objectification” while disabled women are denied both employment opportunities and sexual opportunities.

The female body is such a rarity to me; I appreciate every inch of it in every shape and size, and I tremble at the thought of touching a naked woman.  Can you imagine never again feeling a woman’s lips on yours?  It’s maddening to need human contact, but to be shut off from it; I sometimes cry myself to sleep, and have even been driven to suicidal thoughts.  I can only imagine what it must be like to be a disabled person with a particular kink; it must be soul destroying.  But those in power never experience need; they’re able to have all the sex they want, which is why they have such a blinkered attitude towards the sexuality of disabled people and other sexual minorities.  The saying is that one should never judge anyone else until one has “walked a mile in his moccasins”, but politicians never even have to walk a mile in their own shoes, let alone anyone else’s.  Sex workers and disabled people really have a lot in common; we are both marginalised groups who are misunderstood by society and maltreated by the powerful for being different.  Have you ever seen a disabled person as a sexual being with the same urges?  Sex workers do; they understand our needs and are willing to provide for them, so in my eyes they are the most human and understanding of people, and I will always stand in solidarity with them.

In conclusion, I would like to thank Maggie for letting me post on the best and most informative blog on the internet.

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