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Archive for the ‘Perception’ Category

Nothing about the human animal is absolute; we’re all complicated organisms with the ability to feel several conflicting things at once.  So even though I’m among the most cynical creatures you’ll ever encounter, there is still a part of me that wants to believe that there is a limit to the stupidity of most of the creatures I encounter.  Alas, I am disappointed in that respect on the order of several times a day, with the result that my cynicism increases still more.  It is my fervent hope that sometime in the next three years I will achieve such a high density of cynicism that no hope of any kind will be able to resist it, and I will collapse into a sort of black hole of cynicism, from whose event horizon not even the slightest particle of faith in humanity is able to escape.  Then and only then will I be able to resist the urge to either beat my head against a wall or actually strangle every yahoo endowed with a one-dimensional sense of ethics who brays that the current sorry state of the American empire is the fault of whichever “wing” of the US Fascist Party he does not identify with.  The idiocy of this tribalism has only increased with the waxing of this century, and despite the fact that the venue in which most of it is displayed happens to be the greatest research tool ever devised by Man, we are still forced to endure deeply, deeply stupid pronouncements from deeply, deeply stupid people that it’s all the fault of Clinton Bush Obama Trump despite the fact that most of what’s wrong is the predictable result of processes going on at least since the Adams administration, picking up speed during and after the American Civil War, exploding during the Progressive Era and New Deal, and coalescing into the basis for their current form during the Reagan administration.  The latest example (and as most of you have probably surmised, the one which inspired this rant) is seeing apparent humans with the attention span of a goldfish and the research skills of a ficus tree blaming FOSTA (the 100% predictable end product of a War on Whores with its roots in the Clinton administration, midwifed by the Bush administration and raised to sturdy adolescence by the Obama administration) on a man who couldn’t find his own moral center with both hands, Google maps and a burning dumpster full of advisors.  No, this scheme for purging all sexual content from the internet is not the product of Trump, the GOP or even “Trump’s America” (whatever the fuck that intensely-moronic phrase means); it is a wholly bipartisan tyranny, and the only difference is that the Republicans are slightly more apt to claim that sex is “immoral” while the Democrats are somewhat more apt to claim it’s “demeaning to women”.  Don’t fucking take my fucking word for it; go fucking look at the fucking vote totals for every fucking “sex trafficking” law ever fucking passed, up to and including fucking FOSTA.  You will find overwhelming numbers of members of both official parties lining up to shred the Constitution, censor the internet, grow the power of police and other government functionaries, and heap every harm and indignity imaginable upon sex workers, our clients, or anyone else who dares to be openly sexual.  Hell, we’ve already got the concentration camps (though we now call them “correctional institutions”); all that remains is to see what final solution they dream up to “help” us.  And whatever it is, you can bet it will be passed with near-unanimity while a vast chorus of toadies cacophonously croak that it’s all the other party’s fault.

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Last week was one of those ones where I just could not get caught up, no matter how hard I tried.  I can’t quite put my finger on the reason; I didn’t have an unusually-high number of work hours or anything like that, and I wasn’t traveling or doing an excessive number of errands  So I suppose it must’ve just been the general chaos resulting from FOSTA and the Backpage shutdown, including fielding lots of communications from worried ladies and clients and trying to decide how to protect this blog (y’all will be glad to know it’s all backed up and I’m currently working with a generous reader to figure out how to re-domicile it in a country which isn’t willing to lobotomize itself in a vain attempt to get rid of whores).  But for whatever reason, I ended the week in no better a position writing-wise than when I started, which is actually quite irritating to me given that I’m leaving tonight for Los Angeles and won’t be home until Saturday.  Which reminds me:  the dates for my trip to the UK are May 17th to 30th, and though I won’t have a lot of free time I can probably squeeze a few dates in.  So if you’d like to see me, let me know and I’ll see what we can do.  Anyhow, I’m hoping to manage this week a little better than last, but I don’t think it’s likely I’ll be treated to seeing a cartoon version of myself this week.  Oh, well, one can’t have everything.

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This month I’ve had an unusual number of guest columns, but then this has been a most unusual month.  Just Saturday I received an email from one of my contacts, containing a description of Michael Lacey’s arrest; since it says everything that I think needs to be said, I’ve only edited it slightly to redact information that could identify my contact’s source.

I got some of the backstory of Lacey’s arrest from a former editor at one of his papers, who was getting ready to travel to Phoenix for a wedding reception for Lacey (apparently he had just gotten married) when the news broke that he’d been arrested.  The Feds did a full on tactical arrest:  kicked in his door,  came in guns out,  and even forced his elderly mother-in-law who was there at the time to get down on the floor.  Given that Lacey has no criminal background of any kind (let alone a violent one), it is very questionable why they didn’t use the common sense approach used with white collar suspects and just call his lawyer and direct him to surrender at the Federal courthouse.  Unless of course you are striving for maximum political theater.  My contact says after the reception Lacey and wife were going to leave for Spain on their honeymoon, and suspects his imminent trip abroad may have been their excuse for overkill on the arrest, though Larkin had also flown abroad at the time the indictment was handed down and was turned around by police in Scotland.  The crux of the new case against Lacey and Larkin seems to be that the Feds succeeding in intimidating Carl Ferrer, the former CEO of Backpage, and they got him to flip on them.  Given this, Lacey’s only hope would seem to be mounting a major first amendment constitutional challenge the likes of which we haven’t seen since the Larry Flynt case.

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Today is Friday the 13th, when I ask non-sex workers to stand up for us.  So when Stacey Swimme, one of the founders of SWOP-USA, started discussing this on Twitter a few days ago, I asked her to elaborate for this column.  This is the result.

Come out only to the people you know, and who know you, not to anyone else…Once they realize that we are indeed their children and we are indeed everywhere- every myth, every lie, every innuendo will be destroyed once and for all…. And when you do, you will feel so much better.  –  Harvey Milk, 1978

When I told my mom in 2008 that I was an escort, she was accepting, but she told me it’s not something she wants me to discuss with other family members.  I agreed, but later when I joined Facebook for a brief period, my personal and activism lives collided.  Any one of my extended family members could see my posts about International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, posts vehemently opposing the censorship of the Craigslist Erotic Services section, and if they chose to, they could read through commentary left on posts by me and my sex work friends.  I’m sure they have gossiped about it over the years, but nobody ever says anything to me about it.

It’s a strange sort of in-between place for me.  “Everyone” in my life knows that I’m a sex worker.  I am “accepted” by my family in a way that I can appreciate, but I don’t call them allies.  There’s no talk of disowning me, no exclusion of me or my son or my intimate partners from family occasions, but they won’t voluntarily make it known that someone they love is a sex worker.  It’s just another weird thing I do that they don’t understand and don’t want to understand, but they love me anyway.  I’m generally at peace with how this has played out with my family.  I have a compartment in life where I can keep feelings, priorities and responsibilities associated with my birth family neatly tucked away to pull out for holidays and birthdays.  Then I have a larger compartment, a space preserved for my Found Family, the people I get to share my full identity with.  This doesn’t mean that while we are together I am constantly in “sex work mode”; it’s more that these people don’t need me to suppress any part of my identity in order to keep them comfortable.

Prohibition forces most of us to keep our activities and our whereabouts a secret from those who care for us the most.  That secrecy makes sex workers more vulnerable to abuse; opportunistic predators seek out victims who are least likely to be reported missing by loved ones.  The fear our loved ones have of shame-by-association is an asset to those who aim to harm us- predators and politicians alike.  The Green River Killer said he targeted sex workers because “….they were easy to pick up without being noticed.  I knew they would not be reported missing right away and might never be reported missing.  I picked prostitutes because I thought I could kill as many of them as I wanted without getting caught.”  Sex workers need the world to know that we have people who care about us in our lives, in our communities, in our families.  Below is a micro-Call-To-Action for different communities who intersect with sex workers.  Find your own way; there’s something small and meaningful you can do for the sex worker in your life, something you can do within your own comfort zone.  No matter who you are, if you care about sex workers, please start with educating yourself.  There’s been plenty of writing on how to be an ally to sex workers.  This article from psychologist Marijke Vonk covers essential tips for allies plus links to even more resources for you; also go over to Black Girl Dangerous for a piece on allyship written by a sex worker.

Micro-Call to Actions:

Parents of sex workers:  Tell your child that you love them, no matter who finds out what they do; bonus points if you attend a sex work community event with them.  Get to know the area of their life that they traditionally hide from you; you’ll be relieved to find that the people you meet are just ordinary humans with an extraordinary job- and your child is not the one sane, stable exception in an industry reputed to be unsavory.

Partners of sex workers:  Support each other!  Yes, I’m sure you were expecting me to say, “go talk to media” or “post on social media” or “reveal to your parents that your partner is a sex worker.”  And yes, I do want you to do every single one of those things.  However, I don’t believe that you all, at this time, collectively have enough support, information and expertise to minimize the harms and maximize the benefits of coming out as a partner.  Please get there.  Figure it out, folks.  This needs to be peer-led; you all need each other.  Maybe a live twitter discussion by and for partners to kick it off?  Start with something small and achievable.

Friends of sex workers:  In recent weeks my friends have done some amazing things!  Several have made bold statements in support of sex worker rights on social media for all of their friends and family to see.  One friend of mine asked how she and her husband can help sex workers right now, so I sent her over to Red Light Legal to sponsor legal research for sex workers impacted by record seizures at BackPage and other ad sites.  Yes!  Married feminists can be allies to sex workers!  Donate if you can, make calls to lawmakers when we ask for it, correct misinformation when you hear it within your social networks.

Clients of sex workers:  Be good clients.  Donate to funds that support the most marginalized workers in the aftermath of FOSTA/SESTA.  If you are wealthy and can make a substantial contribution, do it!  If you’re paranoid about your financial statements showing something sex work related, give to SWOP Behind Bars or Desiree Alliance because their fiscal sponsors’ totally un-sexy name will appear on your statements.

Cannabis Industry:  It is time to retire the strain name “Jack The Ripper”.  This is insulting because it reveres a name that is infamous due to the brutal murders of sex workers in London.  It does not give due reverence to the long struggle of cannabis legalization and the healing properties of this wonderful plant.  In 2009, I pointed this out to a dispensary operator in San Fernando Valley; he said, “You’re right, I’m sorry to offend, I’ll change the name and let me hook you up with a free eighth, I didn’t mean to offend you ma’am.”  Boom!  Ally in action.  Nine years later, I have a new Call To Action for California’s cannabis industry:  Let’s collectively change the name of the Jack the Ripper strain to Jacq The Stripper, a true hero who deserves to have her name glorified in weed.  Also- hire sex workers for legal cannabis jobs!  As the legal cannabis industry booms, prison mongers are moving to recover lost profits by increasing legal penalties against sex workers.  It’s not a coincidence.

There are dozens of ways to actively support the sex worker in your life.  Ask your loved one what they need as an individual.  Be there for them first, then look at how you can support our community as a whole.  The next opportunity to both educate yourself and help us raise awareness is June 2, 2018 for International Whore’s Day; follow Survivors Against SESTA for organizing updates.  Sex workers have struggled for decades to build the peer-led resources, safety networks and community spaces that reduce the harms we face.  These resources are now under direct attack by policy-makers, law enforcement and misinformed advocates who believe that eliminating our safety resources will make sex work disappear from the world.  We will not disappear, but we need our allies to ensure that we are not silenced and excluded.  Please stand with us so we are not alone in this fight.

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I hate these website confiscation notices.  The agencies involved always plaster their logos all over the damned thing, like they’re so proud of how they wrecked someone’s business, like a bunch of dogs pissing all over to mark their territory.  It makes me sick.  –  Mark Draughn

So it’s finally happened; after seven and a half years of illegal persecution, the federal government finally wiped its fat, disgusting arse with the last remaining shreds of the Constitution and seized Backpage on a number of trumped-up charges, meaning the usual no-evidence-needed “money laundering” and “conspiracy” to ensure they can still loot the corpse of the victim even after repeated attempts on ridiculous “sex trafficking” charges fell flat.  Judges have repeatedly and consistently sided with Backpage in every challenge

…for the simple reason that the government’s demands are blatantly unconstitutional.  But the evil don’t stop being evil merely because they’re wrong; faced with repeated defeats in their attempts to take legal action against the company, government prohibitionists decided to simply take illegal actions instead, ranging from Tom Dart’s threats against credit card companies to Senate “hearings” of the same sort previously held to intimidate moviemakers, comic book publishers and the music industry.  Then in October [2016], California attorney general Kamala Harris upped the ante by committing the blatantly criminal act of arresting the CEO and both owners of Backpage and filing charges against them that she absolutely knew were illegal for her to file.  Naturally, a judge slapped her down, and she replied by filing even more ridiculous charges, shitting all over the dying protection against double jeopardy in her quest to be a hero to fanatics.  Exhausted and facing the prospect of an infinite succession of similar nuisance charges from criminal tyrants the courts seem unwilling to charge or even rein in, Backpage finally followed in Craigslist’s footsteps and censored its adult ads

…but that did no good.  The War on Whores in general, and on Backpage in particular, is just the latest chapter in the government’s vile “public morality” circus, and once Backpage was chosen to be the big bogeyman the “authorities” had to make a grand spectacle of taking it down, complete with raids on the homes of the company’s founders and the arrest of Michael Lacey, whom the Arizona political establishment has been trying to destroy for years (try not to vomit when you read “Cuckoo Clock” McCain’s sanctimonious braying in that article).  In order to increase the melodrama and drag out their victims’ torture, officials intentionally staged the raid on Friday afternoon, then lied about the time they would release a statement so as to push it past the weekend; all the “authorities” would say is that their Star Chamber Court had charged Lacey with 93 counts of something, but didn’t think it was necessary to tell their victim, his attorney or the public what any of those somethings are until yesterday.  When they did, it was just the usual “money laundering”, “conspiracy” and “travel act” nonsense (same as Rentboy), and not one single “sex trafficking” charge.  In the meantime, sex workers all over the world who relied on Backpage are scrambling to find new advertising venues at a time when many of those venues are closing due to the blatantly-unconstitutional and tyrannous FOSTA, yet the bloated corpse of what was once the nation’s greatest civil rights organization hasn’t said a single word on the subject; apparently ACLU is much too busy helping middle-class white men to force bigots to cater their ostentatious displays of conspicuous consumption to bother even making a statement about the most extensive and shameless act of civil rights abrogation since the USA-PATRIOT Act.  And if those who claim it’s their mission to protect people from civil rights violations won’t help us, we’re going to need other allies ASAP.

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Here’s another article so deeply stupid that a single paragraph just couldn’t represent its truly moronic whole.  So without further ado, let’s play “Count the Idiocies”:

…Once all the neon lights come on, Annandale – a small city in Fairfax County, Northern Virginia – transforms into a Koreatown, with restaurants and karaoke bars…one such bar has blacked out windows and a facade decorated with fairy lights.  Beyond its doors, an unwelcoming middle-aged Korean woman stands behind the dimly lit bar and a large screen shows Korean video-clips.  An Asian man on a stool stares at newcomers1…A young Korean woman wearing an off-the-shoulder top sits alone in one of the karaoke booths.  Too bored to look up2, she plays on her phone as a huge screen blasts a K-pop classic…The surroundings may appear a little grim, but a good time in a bar like this will set back the average punter far more than in many of the trendiest bars in Washington3. That’s because many of these bars provide…hostesses known as doumis, who[se job is] to entertain clients by singing and drinking with them, and in the seediest establishments, having sex with them4…Karaoke bars like this have opened up a new front in America’s war on human trafficking and the illegal sex market5.  Massage parlours in the US – where prostitution is illegal everywhere except Nevada6 – have long been notorious as fronts for the sex trade and for exploiting women mostly from China and Korea7.  But as…new government policies are introduced, the enslavement strategies used by traffickers…are getting more sophisticated8…History shows that human traffickers are quick to adapt to, and take advantage of, changing societal norms9.  One of the latest trends traffickers have managed to bend to their advantage is an increasing fashion for South Korean women to undergo plastic surgery as a way of enhancing their career prospects10…Limited access to legitimate financial services leaves many women no option but to seek informal loans, making them vulnerable to traffickers11…Once a woman is lured into prostituting herself, traffickers also use plastic surgery as a way of perpetuating the debt bondage12…Few women can break the vicious circle as they go from loan to loan, trying without success to stitch their lives together13…Complex networks – from drivers to pimps and brokers who lend money at extortionately high interest rates in both countries – are built around the victims of sex trafficking14…Not only is plastic surgery used to trap women in these networks, but an array of beauty salons in the US…profit from it…[prohibitionist weirdo] Connie Chung Joe [said]…“First they go to the nail salon, then the hair salon, then they get their make-up done.  These girls have to pay for it”15…Polaris…found that out of more than 32,000 cases of human trafficking16 between December 2007 and December 2016…massage parlours accounted for 2,949 cases, putting them second only to escort services as a source of the problem17…[prohibitionists] and [pigs] say that trafficked women tend not to regard themselves as victims18, and that this is particularly the case with Asian women19…Constance Rossiter, YMCA’s programme director for Trafficked Persons Assistance…says the networks that bring Chinese women into the US are complex20…Rossiter says…“it’s a shame-based culture”21…[a Washington bureaucrat named Steven Wagner] says…“the fact they have to work…to pay off a sum of money that had been agreed, they find that acceptable”22…cultural backgrounds combined with stigma…often lead women arrested at massage businesses to insist to police they are prostituting themselves “of their own free will”23

1) I’ll bet she’s only “unwelcoming” to busybody American women who positively reek of racism. And the dude on the stool was probably staring at Raquel’s camera and wondering how bad the othering in her story is going to be (answer: pretty damned awful).

2) That’s not boredom; she’s just ignoring nosey parkers like Raquel who obviously have no intention of paying her.

3) You get what you pay for: fun K-girls rather than prudish beltway hipsters like Raquel.

4) You know you’re about to see a torrent of prohibitionist vomit as soon as the word “seedy” appears.

5) I did warn you.  “Illegal sex” is about the least-bootlicking phrase in this mess, so proceed accordingly.

6) As regular readers know, it ain’t really legal in Nevada either, but discovering that would’ve required actual research rather than simple regurgitation.

7) “Fronts” is a fairly subtle dysphemism, unlike “exploited” to mean “employed”.

8) “Sophisticated” is the excuse pigs use to rape women who work in massage parlors.

9) That would be a good trick, considering the concept was invented less than a generation ago.

10) See, unlike men, women are much too stupid to make conscious decisions about enhancing our incomes.  So any time it seems like a woman (especially a nonwhite woman) is making such a rational decision, it’s really “sex traffickers” luring her into it.

11) Yes, non-bank loans now constitute “trafficking”.  But student loans that you have to pay for decades & can go to jail for defaulting on aren’t at all exploitative, no sirree!

12) “Lured into prostituting herself”?  Surely Raquel didn’t mean to imply that women have so much agency; doesn’t she get we’re all “prostituted” by others?  And obviously anyone incapable of deciding to have sex is surely unable to decide to have plastic surgery.  Women are incapable of making any decisions about our bodies without evil men coercing us, except for abortion of course.

13) Funny how these imaginary “trafficking victims” sound a lot more like people outside the demimonde, struggling to pay debts with fixed paychecks from which the government extracts huge fractions, than like all the real-life sex workers who find it much easier to pay debts than they did when they had straight jobs.

14) Prohibitionists love the “giant international cartel” fantasy of coercion; in reality, coerced sex work is usually not much different from any other kind of coercive relationship.

15) This is quite possibly the most mind-bogglingly stupid and blatantly racist part of this whole heap of filth.  I can’t think of any industry other than show business in which the employer pays for beauty treatments.  So if a white woman gets her nails done, it means the nail techs are “trafficked”, but if an Asian woman gets her nails done, it means she’s trafficked?  What?  How does this even make sense to prohibitionists?

16)  There haven’t been 32,000 cases of “trafficking” since the term was invented.  This is the number of calls to Polaris’ hotline, almost none of which actually correspond to anything in the real world.

17) Could it be any clearer that the term “human trafficking” is being used here as a dysphemism for “sex work”?

18) Gee, I wonder why that might be?

19) Why won’t those damned Asian women accept the slurs their benevolent white saviors label them with?  Don’t they know their kind is too stupid to understand their own lives, and they should accept the wise guidance of white cops and religious fanatics who want to “save” them via unemployment and deportation?

20) And “sophisticated” too, I’m sure.

21) Unlike enlightened US culture, in which nobody is ever shamed.

22) Whereas in the US, not paying one’s debts is completely acceptable, which is why we have credit ratings and debtor’s prisons.

23) Because that couldn’t possibly be true.  No, it must be this Occam’s razor-defying psychobabble I just made up.

Anyhow, you get the idea.  If you’re bored today, see if you can find any I missed due to having to fight down nausea for two hours while I edited and analyzed this demeaning racist filth.

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The do-not-step-on-sex-workers movement needs someone who, in addition to many other qualities, has the temperament & tolerance of a wronged wolverine.  –  Tanya Charbury

Recently, I saw a gent who told me he’d followed me for years and asked if I’d unmute him on Twitter.  I asked why I had muted him, and he confessed to being a bit bratty to me a while back.  We had a laugh about it and of course I unmuted him before he left my incall, but it did demonstrate to me that it was time to do something I don’t often do:  revisit a question I’ve already answered, in this case the one from “Short Fuse“:  Is it just me, or are you less patient than you used to be?

The answer I gave then was honest and accurate for its time, but that was almost four years ago and a lot has changed since then.  As I said then, “I’ve never been patient with fools, trolls, ninnies, sophists, fanatics and the other assorted riff-raff who attempt to lay claim to my time and energy.  In fact, my impatience with such people is almost legendary…”  But while the set of such annoyances was at one time reasonably small, it has grown over time to encompass a lot of people who, while they aren’t completely blameless, are also not necessarily working at annoying me.  Regular readers know that the past three years have been extremely difficult ones for me, and my emotional reserves have been at a very low ebb; I need to ration my psychic and temporal resources, spending them on myself, my clients, the people I love, and my role in this war the government has been conducting on us for the past two decades (which has recently heated up dramatically).  And that means I simply can’t take the time and energy to deal gently with strangers who step on my tail, either intentionally or otherwise (such as by ignoring my clearly-stated ban on bootlicking or partisanism in my timeline); it’s much easier to simply mute them, with or without delivering a parting shot, and then move on.  Ideal?  Not at all, as the incident with the gentleman I mentioned above demonstrates.  But I’m afraid at this stage of my life, it’s either that or expend my precious energies on unproductive discussions that will drag me down while failing to make a particle of difference in the struggle to which I’m committed.  So for now, at least, my temperament is going to more closely resemble that of a wronged wolverine than a playful pussycat, at least for those who deliberately or carelessly stroke my fur the wrong way.

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