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Archive for the ‘Perception’ Category

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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Unspeakable

When one studies primitive cultures, one finds they always believe that words have magic power, for example the idea of a True Name, or not speaking the name of God aloud, or whispering certain words so as not to tempt evil spirits, or the idea that the very act of writing is a form of magic; consider that the Egyptian Thoth was among the greatest gods because he invented writing, and the Germanic Odin was said to have crucified himself to induce the vision that led to the discovery of writing.  We really haven’t changed much.  Take offensive words, for example; any reasonably-polite person will avoid words that he believes might offend his listeners, but many people nowadays are so terrified of the magical power of words that they avoid using a “bad” word even in the context of discussing the word itself rather than using it offensively.  And so we are forced to endure endless kindergarten formulations such as “the F word”, “the N word”, “the R word” (which I encountered for the first time this week), etc, as though the speaker or writer thought even spelling the word in question would summon Voldemort or Hastur the Unspeakable.  But such asininities are ultimately futile; I mean, is there any English-speaking adult who doesn’t recognize “f***” as “fuck”?  Of course not; the bowdlerized form merely becomes a synonym for the unholy combination of sounds.  This is what is called the “euphemism treadmill”; any euphemism eventually becomes the semantic equivalent of the Forbidden Word in the brains of listeners, so that it, too becomes contaminated and must be replaced with a new euphemism.  The process only stops when the negative associations do, and there is no shortcut.  It’s why I use old, new, clinical, and vulgar terms for whores mostly interchangeably; slapping a nice label on a stigmatized group doesn’t make oppressive laws and ugly propaganda go away.  For example, though many reporters are now using “sex worker” instead of “prostitute”, they might as well use the latter because the way they use it (ie the tone, accompanying adjectives, infantilizing statements about us, etc) is no different. The words aren’t the problem; bigotry, hate, and evil laws are.  It’s the same for every oppressed minority group, and subjecting someone to the fucking Inquisition because sinful sounds slipped forth from his larynx will change nothing except to make the world a poorer, uglier, nastier place.  So please, stop wasting your damned energy policing other people’s speech, and start using it to speak against policing others.

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From what I can tease out of the moralistic, hyperbolic language in the statement quoted in this article, plus online comments by others, a computer programmer who helped develop a modification for a popular video game intended for adults posted some animated cartoons on his own personal website that might potentially upset extremely sheltered people who have neither heard of Fritz the Cat nor paid much attention to Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, and his employer has as a result censored the modification.  Though it’s difficult to tell from what I’ve linked, the material that the company claims is “deeply disturbing to the entire team” of adults who not only play but program a post-apocalyptic game full of violence and gore, and which a company dedicated to profiting from such games feels it must “condemn…in the strongest sense” and “conduct…dialogue” about, was “furry cub porn”, ie cartoons depicting imaginary sexual behavior of wholly imaginary anthropomorphic animal characters who within the fictional universe depicted in the cartoons are “underage”.  In other words, though most people believe it’s OK for kids to watch cartoons depicting violence, mayhem and even murder of imaginary characters, it’s not OK for adults to watch cartoons depicting sexual behavior of such characters, presumably because doing so emits dangerous “sex rays” which can transcend time and space to contaminate a game intended for adults.  Said game must therefore be censored to “protect THE CHILDREN™!!!” (who aren’t supposed to be playing it anyway), despite the fact that the cartoons in question neither appear within the game, nor are attached to it in any way.  Of course we’re told the content was “pedophillic” [sic], a word intended to override the reader’s critical faculties so that he doesn’t stop to consider that despite being depicted as human babies, Maggie Simpson is 34 and Baby Herman at least 40.  And those are “human” cartoon characters; how would it work for imaginary anthropomorphic animals?  Since real dogs and cats are sexually mature at 1, full-grown at 2 and usually dead of old age before 18, what the hell would “underage” look like, assuming one were deranged enough to care?  People who actually think that the make-believe sexual activities of make-believe characters belonging to make-believe species in a make-believe society warrant serious real-life consequences are clearly detached from reality, so maybe what these folks need is to stop living in their make-believe game world for a while and reacquaint themselves with the one where each player only has one life and the make-believe “innocence” of creatures who do not actually exist is not generally viewed as a valid reason for moral condemnation.

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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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Almost three years after it became politically “safe” for politicians to openly support sex worker rights, it’s no longer news for a politician to merely belch out the word “decriminalization” without actually doing anything about it; many just want credit for claiming to support decriminalization while actually continuing the war on whores in a different form.  But putting stock in what politicians only say is like trying to build a castle on a cloud.  Democratic aspirant Andrew Yang is a perfect example; a year ago he espoused support for Swedish criminalization, describing it with the typical prohibitionist weasel-words “decriminalizing sex work on the part of the seller”.  And now he wants us to believe that he really does support real decrim this time: 

Never forget that for most politicians and cop-adjacent creatures, “sex trafficking” is essentially synonymous with “pimping”, and that means virtually any sex-work-adjacent activity.  If a politician claims to support decrim but still devotes a lot of rhetoric in his statement to “pimps” and “trafficking”, he probably doesn’t really support decrim; he just knows it will win him support from those who are insufficiently skeptical of politicians.  An old woman in Texas was convicted of “sex trafficking” for letting sex workers rent rooms in her motel.  A 19-year-old girl was convicted of “interstate child sex trafficking” for giving her slightly-younger friend a ride across town (Vancouver WA to Portland OR) to work.  Another young woman was convicted (and will be condemned to the “sex offender” registry for life) for letting an underage girl take a shower at her apartment.  It’s dangerous to merely accept politicians’ statements that they “support decriminalization but will ‘go after sex trafficking’,” because what cops & politicians call “sex trafficking” is not usually what non-authoritarians think of upon reading or hearing the term.

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For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.
–  Hosea 8:7

As usual, politicians and the mainstream media are pretending that a disaster they helped create, born from an evil they planted at the turn of the century and have lovingly tended and fed since then, has absolutely nothing to do with them.  As the internet meme expresses it, “But we didn’t think the face-eating leopards would eat our faces!”  So they point fingers and try to cover their tracks and repeatedly “explain” how an explosion happened while ignoring the powder residue all over their hands and clothes.  The Capitol riot was the direct result of hysteria that politicians of both major parties, aided and abetted by the US journalism establishment and supplied with propaganda by hordes of religious fanatics, violent thugs and sociopathic profiteers, have enthusiastically promoted for a generation in order to trick useful idiots into accepting ever-increasing levels of surveillance, censorship, and police violence.  Yet their reaction to this is akin to that of a lifelong smoker pretending that his lung cancer was due entirely to his most recent pack:

Sen. Ben Sasse…blasted GOP lawmakers who had…tacitly endorsed QAnon in an op-ed in The Atlantic…warning that the Republican Party risks destruction if it doesn’t repudiate the crackpot conspiracy theory…Sasse said the riot was a “blossoming of a rotten seed that took root in the Republican Party some time ago”…the…Party “faces a choice,” Sasse says: “Dedicate ourselves to defending the Constitution”…or be a “party of conspiracy theories, cable-news fantasies, and the ruin that comes with them…We have to repudiate people who peddle those lies”…

But Sasse isn’t the only one who refuses to recognize that QAnon is nothing more than the most recent flowering of the “sex trafficking” hysteria; look at the number of edits I needed to make to bring this Washington Post article into line with reality:

…the failed insurrection illustrated how the p[opular “sex trafficking” mythology]…has radicalized Americans, [justified extensive tyranny] and gained a forceful grip on [American] belief.  Born in [approved government anti-sex and anti-migrant propaganda], QAnon played an unmistakable role in energizing rioters during the real-world attack on Jan. 6.  A man in a “Q” T-shirt led the breach of the Senate, while a shirtless, fur-clad believer known as the “Q Shaman” posed for photographers in the Senate chamber…The [Evangelical Christian-] base[d narrative which has developed into a myth]…which imagines Trump in a battle with a cabal of deep-state saboteurs who worship Satan and [harvest] traffic[ked] children for [a magical life-extending chemical in their blood], helped drive the day’s events and facilitate organized attacks…The…movement’s evolution, from an [official fantasy intended to justify increased government surveillance, internet censorship, and oppression of sex workers] to a hallmark of pro-Trump violence, is a signal of the danger [moral panic, whether natural or synthetic,] poses to s[ocie]ty…“The takeaway from this is that [even government-approved] disinformation is a threat to our democracy,” said [psychologist] Joel Finkelstein…
Neither Biden nor Harris nor any of their cronies will ever publicly admit their complicity in this disaster.  But if we’re very fortunate, they may quietly distance themselves from the lunacy they’ve so enthusiastically promoted for many years, allowing it to at last die the natural death politicians’ sponsorship has to this point prevented.

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The phenomenon of politicians feeling safe in espousing support for sex worker rights is such a new one, it’s unsurprising that sex workers tend to get excited every time it happens, especially when a politician demonstrates that he’s read enough on the topic to use some of our own talking points.  But while most outsiders speaking against American-style full criminalization seem to have learned enough to know the word “decrminalization” will get our attention, few if any seem to understand what it actually entails (or if they do, they pretend otherwise).  Furthermore, the majority of journalists covering these stories do not comprehend that “decriminalization” has a specific meaning; it doesn’t mean “legalization” or Swedish-style criminalization as prohibitionists pretend, nor does it mean “temporary tolerance” as in this article:

…Washtenaw County [Michigan] Prosecutor Eli Savit announced…his office would no longer seek prosecution of individuals engaged in consensual sex work, focusing instead on cases involving human trafficking, sexual assault and the sexual exploitation of children…Savit, who was newly elected in 2020, has issued a variety of new policy changes in the prosecutor’s office including the ending of cash bail and the rescinding of zero-tolerance policies.  The newest policy, citing various reasons for the decision, aims to ease tensions and make it easier for consensual sex workers to report crimes committed against them and aid them in leaving the life.  Research demonstrates that the criminalization of sex work enhances sex workers vulnerabilities to violence and exploitation…“Some people who engage in sex work would prefer to do so for only a limited time.  But…being convicted of sex work-related offenses gives sex workers a criminal record, which can make it hard to find non-sex work employment.”  Savit emphasized the policy is only directed toward cases where the exchange of money for sex is the sole basis of the charge…

Though he carefully avoids the semantically-loaded dog-whistle “pimp”, the last sentence of that block quote makes me wary.  As sex workers in “legalized” regimes will tell you, this still leaves us wide open to cop persecution for “offenses” such as sharing an incall, doing duos, or helping other sex workers in any way (“pimping”), or from having an incall in the first place (“brothel-keeping” or the equivalent).  These non-legislative “tolerance policies” can also be revoked without warning at a moment’s notice (or due to an election), as has happened in many US cities many times over the past century.  Moreover, they don’t stop cops from raping sex workers via threat of bogus charges of the type described above, or harassing us or clients by bullshit arrests (complete with arrest record and press release) that don’t get prosecuted.  In short, “baby step” is the right term for this sort of announcement; it’s a development that signifies a politician knows something is wrong with the system, but is unwilling (or unable) to really do anything substantial about it beyond signalling his view.  Yes, it’s better than yet another sociopath vomiting out lies about our lives and sending out thugs to rape and abduct us and call it “rescue”.  But it is not decriminalization by any stretch of the imagination, and even the limited protections Savit is promising are nothing more than words written in the dust until they are enshrined in law.

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My friend Brooke Magnanti has a new project named Body of Work on the new platform Substack, and to call attention to it I’d like to share my favorite of the posts she’s published there so far. It’s both a moving memoir and a powerful rebuke to the sheltered puritans who pretend sex work is “The Worst Thing a Woman Can Do“, which is incidentally the title of this piece.

My dad was mowing strangers’ lawns on the day that he died.

He woke before sunrise – the habit of a blue collar lifetime – with his schedule for the day written out on a piece of college-ruled paper, copied from the app where homeowners booked him for reasonably priced lawn services. He had the rest of the week drawn up as a grid too, with blank spaces for last-minute jobs that might pop up on his newly purchased smartphone.

He loaded the truck with the tools of his trade: edgers and whips, a spade and a rake, a refurbished secondhand push mower, and drove the ride-on mower (also a refurb) onto the small trailer behind his 15-year-old F150. He put a lunchbox with two turkey sandwiches and four bottles of frozen water into the cab. They would melt during the hot Florida spring day, keeping his food cold and providing hydration as he worked in the full sun.

Sometime after 8am, he started having abdominal pains. The worst of his life. My father – no hypochondriac, also the habit of a lifetime – called 911. The hospital did some tests and discharged him by 10am, diagnosis mild constipation, prescription two kinds of laxatives. He didn’t feel better. His last few outgoing texts were to friends letting them know he couldn’t meet up later, he was sick. He went on to complete 3 of the 5 jobs on his schedule.

He died that night. 70 years old, retired not even one day of his life. When we found his phone, most of the missed texts and calls were from the app, set to automatically ping when he didn’t check in online for his agreed jobs.

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“What, are you too proud to scrub a toilet?”

That was a question I have heard a lot. After coming out as a former sex worker in 2009, I could count on at least one know-it-all standing up to pronounce more or less this exact accusation at every book signing, public speaking event, or festival I appeared at.

The question askers never stuck around to hear, really hear the answer: it’s hard to get a job in the UK as an American student, I couldn’t work more than 15 hours a week, no one was allowed to hire me if any qualified EU applicant was available, and that wouldn’t have made a dent in my bills anyway. ‘Too proud to scrub a toilet’ also seemed to be the takeaway most columnists went with when discussing my writing. According to everyone with a public opinion my problem was not lack of cash but that I was too proud, or precious, or whatever to do real work. I was spoiled.

Thing is, I wasn’t just spitballing about whether or not scrubbing toilets pays the bills. I knew already, from experience, that it would not – because cleaning was the very last job I held before moving to London. I worked for months at a hostel in Aviemore while writing up my PhD thesis. In between changing beds and mopping bathrooms, I collated data on forensic pathology cases and assembled chapters on the processes of human decomposition. Because I also was the hostel’s cook and lived on site, I was able to save almost everything I earned. I thought this would put me in good stead for the autumn, when I planned to submit my PhD back in Sheffield, then move to London to look for work.

Long story short: my calculations of expenses for life in the capital city were way, way off. By the time I paid the extortionate deposit and rent on a sad little room in Kilburn, I was already out of cash. But with my PhD not yet approved I couldn’t apply for science jobs. So I became a call girl. A choice that I thought (also mistakenly as it turned out) would be lucrative, not require a particular visa, and that I could leave behind as soon as I started my “real” career.

That was then.

This is now: I’m scrubbing a toilet in a million dollar house in one of my county’s fanciest neighborhoods. American Standard. The water in the American Southwest is mineral-heavy and leaves rings on everything; I’m not so much scrubbing as chipping away at stalagmites of built up lime.

It’s the first toilet I’ll clean today, the first of four bathrooms in this house, but it’s not the last time I’ll think about those people who imagined I was too proud to scrub a toilet. I’ve been scrub-a-toilet poor before; it’s not that big a deal. No, instead they were telling me the thing they considered to be the last-resort job of choice before “selling your body.” Their deepest fear, the most undignified thing short of being a whore (which as we all know is the worst thing a woman can do).

That’s the calculation according to society. Whore is worst, cleaner is second worst, and no one in their right minds would do either. Let alone both. Yet the jobs persist. Even in a recession. Even in a pandemic. Key workers both. Not the front lines, accumulating accolades and sometimes hazard pay, but the back lines, doing jobs few want to admit always need done.

Even in the midst of a global pandemic it seems cleaning after oneself is still a job for someone else. Lifestyle columnists Sarah Ditum and Janice Turner raised a few eyebrows when they staunchly declared the unavailability of house cleaners in the first wave of covid to be beyond bearable. Not for them picking up the mop, or worse yet, asking one’s husband and children to chip in. No, went the logic, cleaners wanted the work. They loved their clients.

I’ve heard people say things like that before almost word for word. People who are the customers of sex workers. Do I have to tell you women like those are just the sort of people whose husbands I once would have fucked for money? I know it, and I guess they know it too.

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If you too are in possession of a house and neither the time nor the inclination to clean it, you could book me or someone like me through any number of websites and apps. They all have slick, modern sites, enormous market capitalisations, and most importantly in this buoyant gig economy: they employ none of the people who show up at your door to do the work.

The landing pages show clean, modern homes resplendent in bare wood, white tile and brushed metal fixtures. Homes with six-burner gas ranges and fresh cut peonies in fishbowl vases. The kind of homes that few of the cleaners could ever dream of calling their own. The vibe is upscale, quiet suburb or cool high-rise urban.

And if you don’t mind what happens to your body, to your health, then there are always jobs like this, just not careers. With ubiquitous smartphones and widespread internet services that previously were available mainly to the well-heeled can be booked at the touch of a finger. In many ways the rise of sex workers on the internet when I was an anonymous blogger presaged the way many would soon be working in the 21st century.

My entry into cleaning for apps is straightforward. Sign up, submit a photo of my driver’s license, wait for a background check. Answer a few (very few) questions on my experience as a cleaner. I have a bit, from the aforementioned pre-London days turning over an 80-bed hostel in the Scottish Highlands for a summer, to helping out friends with holiday cottages.

I’m accepted on the platform and my rate is set at $15 per hour. That’s 4 dollars an hour above the nearest city’s minimum wage, more than twice the Federal minimum of $7.25, but well below anything that could result in the “thousands” the app’s ads on Craigslist promised. Up to thousands, I remind myself. Technically that means anything above zero. I’m assured through a short series of videos that work is straightforward and easy to come by, and that any problems I might experience with the app itself are quick to figure out. I’m told if I book 10 jobs this week my rate goes up, maybe as high as $22. I complete the series of Youtube videos that constitute training and log on.

There are no jobs. At all. Not today, and not tomorrow.

There’s one in three days! I click, eager to “claim” before anyone else does (because that must be what’s happening, right? There are no jobs because they’re already taken?) But when I google the location I find it’s in central Colorado – a 330-mile round trip from where I am now. Sure, there’s a $20 “bounty” for picking this one up, should I choose. But I decide to forego it. There is zero chance at this rate I will ever earn more than $15 an hour through the app.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

We live in the age of the side hustle. Everyone I’ve met since moving back to the US has one. The fine artists with an Air B&B, the candle maker who cleans for them, the solar installer who is also a part-time fire captain, the fire captains who sell third party phone cases on Amazon. The jiu-jitsu instructor with a window washing business. The college professor who works as a part-time paramedic on ski patrol. The ski patroller who proctors exams at the college.

There is no mystery as to why. None of these people are rich or have any illusions of becoming so. Side hustle as a phrase sounds cool, as if a few hours of your week here and there will make it rain and make the Moet pour. The reality is more prosaic. Life in the land of opportunity is expensive. With a stunted public transport infrastructure, cars are a necessity if you want to get by in most of America. The college degree has more or less taken the place of a high school diploma, sought out even for entry-level customer service, and the expansion of the student loan industry leaves many in debt long beyond their 40’s. Credit rating determines everything from your ability to rent accommodation to even whether or not you get a job, obliging people to spend and keep spending in the name of being a trustworthy consumer. Being a consumer obliges you to work. Once entered, the cycle has no end. Not even retirement, for those (unlike my father) lucky enough to contemplate it: in 1985, 10.8% of people over 65 in America were still working. The number in 2017 was double that, and expected to become still higher when the twilight years of Baby Boomers give way to geriatric Generation X.

It gets worse. A shocking number of America’s personal bankruptcies are due to inability to pay medical bills. From a high of 1.5 million in 2010, the year the Affordable Care Act came into law, it declined to 770 thousand in 2016. And yet the problem is not solved: the requirement to buy insurance even on price-capped markets still leaves a lot of room for expenses in the form of deductibles that can be thousands of dollars or more. People still avoid accessing preventive care and instead end up in the emergency room, sometimes not until they are on death’s door. We may be in post-Obamacare America, with many on the left making noises about some form of universal, free-at-the-point-of-delivery healthcare, but the wolf of sudden medical emergency could turn up and destroy your life anytime. Even in the coronavirus pandemic America did not manage to elect a candidate who promises universal healthcare.

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Four-Toilets is not a bad job as these things go. I know that immediately. It isn’t a 330 mile round trip to get there, for starters; only an hour from my house. The place is owned by a couple of about my age, pet- and child-free. They are not hoarders, and while some of it requires elbow grease (the aforementioned hard water in toilets situation) they’ve not left cleaning so long that any of it is out of hand, save a giant walk-in shower I spend about a third of the allotted five hours scrubbing.

The man goes out, and when he comes back, has brought me a sandwich. I don’t have time to eat on the clock of course. The app’s clients feed in the size of the job and the app gives them an estimated finishing time (no breaks). I do the last toilet, vacuum and mop, and am done bang on the hour the app predicted. I can’t help but wonder if there was a box they ticked that said “our house is already pretty clean” (it was) or if, in the future, similarly-sized jobs with less scrupulously tidy clients will be assigned the same five-hour time slot.

I don’t think about that, just sign on to the app to confirm completion of the job, load up my car (you are required to bring all supplies, including mop and vacuum, and more recently, PPE), and accept a shyly-offered $30 tip from the man. They want to book me again, once every fortnight. I say I’ll have a look on the app but I’d like that.

I have no illusions: few jobs will be as straightforward as this. On the drive home, I start making a list of what I need to replenish. Paper towels, microfibre rags, oven cleaner, furniture polish. Pick up some limescale remover! And some drain unclogging liquid. The tip covers my time driving to and from the house, and the gas, just about. It reminds me of being an escort when the client’s tips usually covered my transport.

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In the name of protecting women, [Kamala] Harris has pushed sex workers back onto dangerous street corners.  –  Cherie DeVille

The Puritan Recrudescence

A deep dive on the history of the current US pro-censorship cabal:

Adult content [i]s now routinely described…by both sensationalistic tabloids and supposedly liberal establishment papers as “a scourge”…“a danger,” “harmful,” “exploitation,” and “infestation.”  Newspapers and TV news segments f[eed] this rhetoric to politicians around the world…who happily regurgitate…exaggerations, deliberate obfuscations and outright cant such as “porn is a form of human trafficking,” “no person can consent to be a sex worker,” [and] “all sex workers are victims”…Porn, they declare…is not free expression protected by the First Amendment in the U.S. and by long-standing traditions of freedom of speech in other lands.  It is “a public health crisis,” “a drug” and “slavery.”  This language and these notions are, of course, not new.  They have been brewing for years — in some cases decades — in well-funded, religiously-motivated think tanks and lobbies.  These groups literally have an agenda: to shut down, by whatever means necessary, online porn…

To Molest and Rape (#843)

It took four years for a serial rapist to actually be tried. Guess his profession:

Roger Golubski…w[as a Kansas City cop for]…35 years…before retiring in 2010.  But it was[n’t until] 2017, when Lamonte McIntyre was freed from prison after serving 23 years for two murders he did not commit, that [“authorities”] began to…[final]ly [pay attention to stacks of complaints] about the [typical and representative]  cop who…had [used threats and sexual violence to] cultivate…a vast network of informants…Golubski, whose [lies] led McIntyre to prison…used his police badge to [threaten] vulnerable Black women [into submitting to rape] and coerced some of them into fabricating testimony to c[age innocent human being]s he [targe]ted.  In at least one instance, he…repeatedly rap[ed] a woman whose children he’d promised to help get out of legal trouble…[in a hearing for] the civil lawsuit filed by McIntyre and his mother, Rose McIntyre, who[m] the [typical and representative cop brutally raped]…Golubski [took the Fifth]…555 times…the McIntyres’ law[yers demonstrated that]…Golubski’s superiors in the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department [well] kn[e]w…[that he was a serial rapist of women stigmatized as] prostitutes [by the state]…and either look[ed] the other way or tacitly endors[ed the rapes.  Reports of]…Golubski[‘s behavior] date back 25 years…[but] “The Department never accepted] any formal complaints regarding misconduct” [said a spokesow]…the suit names [as accomplices]…Wyandotte County/Kansas City, detectives W.K. Smith, Clyde Blood, James Brown, Dennis Ware and the estates of…[cops] Dennis Barber, Steve Culp and James Krstolich…

Everything Old is New Again (#863)

This absurd language and association of sex work with pizza is not limited to Christian prohibitionists:

It is hard to believe the testimonies of Israeli tourists returning from the UAE, in which they describe Dubai as the Las Vegas of the Middle East…8,000 Israelis travelled to Dubai to celebrate the New Year.  They apparently took hashish and marijuana with them…the…dark reality…[is] gangs of Israeli men who set out for the new holiday destination with prostitution in mind…any Israeli tourist in Dubai can…pay $1,000 and jump into the pool of iniquity…The[y] can sit and eat next to a swimming pool while watching frenzied scenes of sexual activity…”Everything is open, like a menu with pizza toppings”…it is…an extension of the Israeli sex industry, with prostitution apps advertising women…The fruit of normalisation is that Israelis are now heavily involved in the whole shameful business…

The “swimming pool of iniquity” may be my favorite Middle-Eastern ludicrosity since “the dangerous cycle of prostitution”.

I Spy (#1001)

When it comes to mass surveillance, fascism beats communism hands down:

In recent years, [cops] have realized that automobiles — particularly newer models — can be treasure troves of [surveillance data].  Their onboard computers generate and store data that can be used to reconstruct where a vehicle has been and what its passengers were doing.  They reveal everything from location, speed and acceleration to when doors were opened and closed, whether texts and calls were made while the cellphone was plugged into the infotainment system, as well as voice commands and web histories…Privacy4Cars…makes a free app that helps people delete their data from automobiles and makes its money by offering the service to rental companies and dealerships…[Pigs mostly root] in…two main information sources: the telematics system — which is like the “black box” — and the infotainment system.  The telematics system stores a vehicle’s turn-by-turn navigation, speed, acceleration and deceleration information…when and where the lights were switched on, the doors were opened, seat belts were put on and airbags were deployed.  The infotainment system records recent destinations, call logs, contact lists, text messages, emails, pictures, videos, web histories, voice commands and social media feeds.  It can also keep track of the phones that have been connected to the vehicle via USB cable or Bluetooth, as well as all the apps installed on the device…

The Widening Gyre (#1019)

Here’s another entry in the “sex trafficking” scare story invasion of Twitter.  I find them both funny and sad;  funny because Chicken Licken here doen’t realize that there has never been a single case of an adult woman abducted by so-called “sex traffickers” from any public place (much less a crowded retail store), and sad because the hysteria feeds weak-minded panic over ordinary social interactions such as conversation and nodding “hello” to strangers (which I do almost every time I pass someone in public).  Add to that the uncritical acceptance of utterly absurd “King of the Hill” propaganda (“[Atlanta is] the human trafficking capital of the world“) and we have a nearly perfect cross-section of late-stage moral panic; all that’s missing is an actual violent attack on the people to whom she’s attached this waking nightmare.

I Spy (#1035)

I’ve been saying this would happen since politicians started belching about “contact tracing”:

Singapore has admitted data from its Covid contact tracing programme can also be accessed by police…Officials had previously [lied in order to trick as many people as possible into “voluntarily” downloading a surveillance]…programme, which is used to [track people’s movements and] also monitors who [the patsy has] been in contact with…To encourage people to enrol, Singaporean authorities [lied that] the data would never be used for any other purpose…But Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmond Tan told parliament [last week] that it can in fact also be used “for the purpose of criminal investigation”…

Top Cop (#1065)

Sex workers cannot let people who claim to be allies forget about this psychopath, now only an old man’s heartbeat from the power she so desperately craves:

Kamala…Harris’s hatred [of sex workers] goes back to her days as San Francisco District Attorney.  In 2008, Harris opposed a San Francisco ballot initiative to legalize prostitution.  “I think it’s completely ridiculous”…Harris told The New York Times.  She proclaimed the law would roll “a welcome mat out for pimps” and…“compromise…the quality of life in a community.”  In other words, sex work looks terrible.  As a district attorney, senator, and presidential candidate, Harris has trafficked in outdated sex-worker cliches.  Out reports that California Attorney General Harris fought in court in 2015 to ensure the state continued criminalizing sex work…[claiming that] sex…[workers are] disease…[vectors]…

Working From Home (#1079)

When a headline asks a question, the answer is nearly always “no”:

…the great sex boom of 2020…has been…widely publicized.  Outlets that usually skirted such tawdry subjects published how-tos for aspiring online sex workers.  Masturbation made The New York Times headlines, and reports of sex toy sales enjoying a 200 percent increase (tripling in New Zealand) were heard around the world…Then…no matter your age, race, gender or even perceived good looks, for the financially upended by Covid-19, OnlyFans became The Promised Land…and porn began to feel like yesterday’s news…especially once the celebrities caught on.  Bella Thorne elicited immediate backlash from online sex workers after [scamming] a record-breaking $1 million dollars in her first day on the platform…prompting OnlyFans to cap tips and pay-per-view charges.  While the move may have infuriated existing cam girls, it brought the platform widespread attention…

To Molest and Rape (#1098)

Notice how often rapist cops’ victims are underage?

…Chatham County [Georgia cop]…Christopher Crick was [arrested for raping]…a minor…he was booked on three felony charges: aggravated child molestation, sodomy and statutory rape.  The victim is apparently someone previously known to Crick…

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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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