Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Perception’ Category

Different people have different types of sex for all sorts of reasons that are really no one else’s business.  –  Steve ChapmanNew Zealand coat of arms

Down Under

Here’s a good article on how New Zealand achieved decriminalization:

…Tim Barnett…became involved with the PRA shortly after he won his first campaign for Christchurch Central’s parliamentary seat in 1996.  He did so on the request of Catherine Healy, the national coordinator of the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective (NZPC), who actively sought out his support for decriminalisation after the election…Barnett entered into an already vibrant political field.  The Massage Parlours Act of 1978 was, nearly a decade after its implementation, suddenly causing controversy because police had announced that the legislation effectively allowed indoor commercial sex work.  As a result, a working group comprised of NZPC and mainstream liberal feminist groups…began work on a pro-decriminalisation reform bill…

The Last Shall Be First

Anti-trans people just can’t get their minds out of the toilet:

…Jared Woodfill…and his group, the “Campaign For Houston”, are trying to get “no” votes for the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance…which voters will vote on in November…“No men in women’s bathrooms,” the ad actually begins. “This ordinance will allow men to freely go into women’s bathrooms, locker rooms and showers.  That is filthy, that is disgusting, and that is unsafe,” the [female announcer says, claiming] to represent “all moms, sisters, and daughters”…

Too Young To Know

Far too many sex worker rights activists are afraid to discuss this topic:

…Generally, if someone is working underage, it’s because they’re aware their alternatives are worse.  With a system that entirely fails to protect and serve young people, either forcing them back into abusive homes or shuffling them into new, potentially even more violent environments such as group homes, foster homes, and juvenile halls, it’s no wonder these young people take their fate into their own hands.  The few jobs that will hire young workers pay a pittance, and signing a lease isn’t even an option for minors…

Sexual Predators

If you have a weak stomach, you may want to skip this badge-licking article; it is, however, refreshing to see “sex trafficking” mentioned only in passing after all the talk of “morality” and dirty whores.  Note also the bizarre use of scare quotes around ordinary words like “time”:

…Websites like Backpage.com are a playground for people looking for “escorts,” and the people who put up ads are barely discrete [sic] about what they’re selling.  While some allege that anyone who responds is paying for their “time” and “companionship,” others say things like, “No pimp, no drama”…Some people believe that prostitution arrests are just about the actual sex acts…Police say they’re not.  “It was important to make these arrests for the sake of prostitution itself, but it also curtails other crimes as well, such as drugs and robberies…You have to realize prostitution not only offends some citizens as far as moral standards, it can become a nuisance to businesses and residents”…

Uncommon Sense (#435)

The number of prostitutes using Zurich’s [tippelzones] has nearly doubled over the last year say city authorities, who are hailing the two-year-old scheme a success.  Around 25-30 sex workers are now using the guarded drive-in brothel, up from around 15 this time last year…

The Face of Trafficking

This is what really happens when a wannabe “pimp” abducts a girl:

A 16-year-old girl snatched right off an Indianapolis street and sold into prostitution is back home after a terrifying weekend…The victim [was] walking home when a young man pulled up and offered her a ride…the…man…24-year old Kevryn Gaines-Dukes [raped her] then met up with a second suspect, Myeisha White…the two [drove her to]…Nashville, Tenn., where White took pictures of the teen and posted them on backpage.com, a site known by solicitors and investigators for sex trafficking…”If they ever outlawed backpage.com, we’d have trouble finding victims,” said Sgt. Jon Daggy, who investigates human trafficking as part of the Vice Unit with IMPD.  The 16-year old told police her captors made a thousand dollars that weekend, forcing her to have sex with at least 10 men…She had been secretly texting messages like “police” to her father and sister….Gaines-Dukes then texted the father, demanding $25,000 in ransom…The texts were traced to a Nashville motel…

Yet we’re supposed to believe that 100,000 cases a year go unnoticed. By the by, John Daggy “investigates human trafficking” by making excuses for cops who rape sex workers.

Choke Point (#511) 

Ashley Madison (#557) 

I did try to tell y’all:

…the world of Ashley Madison was a far more dystopian place than anyone had realized.  This isn’t a debauched wonderland of men cheating on their wives…it’s like a science fictional future where every woman on Earth is dead, and some Dilbert-like engineer has replaced them with badly-designed robots…the more I examined those 5.5 million female profiles, the more obvious it became that none of them had ever talked to men on the site, or even used the site at all after creating a profile…the overwhelming majority of men using Ashley Madison weren’t having affairs.  They were paying for a fantasy…About two-thirds of the men, or 20.2 million of them, had checked the messages in their accounts at least once.  But only 1,492 women had ever checked their messages

And all those guys who didn’t listen to me?  Well, they’re not very happy:  “Two Canadian law firms have filed a $578m class-action lawsuit against the companies that run Ashley Madison after a hacker group’s data breach exposed some 39 million memberships in the adultery website earlier this week“…

Seizing Power (#559)

As I said, nearly toothless:

A federal judge…denied a preliminary injunction request that would have forced Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart to retract statements he made in lobbying credit card companies to block their cards from being used to buy sex ads on Backpage.com…Judge John Tharp wrote that the “cease and desist” letters Dart wrote to Visa and Mastercard…could have been construed as threats.  But they did not amount to censorship, since the sheriff had no legal authority to force the credit card companies to act…The judge also said he considered “the profound interests of the victims of the human trafficking that Backpage’s advertising facilitates”…The ruling does not affect the underlying lawsuit against Dart seeking damages…

Something Rotten in Sweden (#564)

Dave Ross of KIRO radio interviews Mistress Matisse about her debunking of Seattle politicians’ agency-denying garbage; what never ceases to amaze me is the tenacity with which reasonably-intelligent people cling to stupid preconceptions and asinine myths when the subject is sex.  And that crack about her age…really, Dave?  Matisse was much more charming to you than you deserved.

Not Good Enough (#565) 

Just in case you didn’t think the approval of flibanserin could’ve been any shadier:

If you happen to be a woman interested in taking Addyi…your doctor will…tell you…You absolutely cannot drink — at all — as long as you’re taking the drug, because alcohol has been shown to exacerbate its side effects, including fainting, dizziness, and low blood pressure…but…Nobody actually even knows what would happen if a woman taking Addyi were to cheat and have, say, a glass of wine with dinner — because the research…was done almost entirely on men.  The alcohol-safety study included 23 men, and a grand total of two women…alcohol affects men and women very differently…and women are more susceptible to toxicity effects than are men…

What Were You All Waiting For?

It’s as though every anti-prohibitionist was just waiting for Amnesty:

Banning things you don’t like has a long history, though not a happy one.  Americans have tried banning alcohol, marijuana, pornography and homosexuality.  All of them persisted anyway.  So we learned to not only tolerate but allow them.  Nowadays, you can have a glass of scotch in a gay bar while looking at porn on your iPad, and the police won’t care.  In Colorado and Washington, you can walk out and buy weed at a state-licensed dispensary.  Prohibition has also been a failure for commercial sex…banning prostitution doesn’t get rid of it.  It merely pushes it underground, where abuses are more likely and harder to detect…The denunciations of decriminalization come from a strange alliance of feminists who regard all sex workers…as victims of oppression and Christians who see them as drenched in depravity.  Both exploit the sense that some types of sex are shameful, dangerous and intolerable — an attitude that long fueled the persecution of gays…

And speaking of gays, this denunciation of Amnesty by two Swedish politicians taking their travelling medicine show to Los Angeles could win some kind of award for bad timing; it was published the day after the federal raid on Rentboy.com triggered a groundswell of public support for decriminalization, thus making its moronic representation of sex work as a form of gendered violence look utterly tone-deaf in addition to being dishonest and fascist.  The Swedes refer to their snake oil as a “middle way” between criminalization and decriminalization, which is exactly the same as saying, “There is a middle way between Jim Crow and treating black people like human beings.”

Now They Notice

As I pointed out yesterday, many people who didn’t give a shit about the criminalization of sex work when it was women, our clients and our advertising venues being attacked, suddenly care very much now that they see the anti-sex machine is also going to be turned loose on the queer sex trade.  And while I absolutely welcome these folks as allies, I’m not going to accept this kind of sexist, patronizing bullshit from queer boys who couldn’t be bothered to speak up for me and my sisters last week:

Yesterday’s raid on the offices of Rentboy.com…was a bizarre, unprovoked crackdown on people it’s easy for “respectable” folks to stigmatize or ignore…this thoroughly unnecessary bust should be the impetus to legalize and regulate consensual sex work.  It should become the “Stonewall” of sex workers, the moment in which they and their allies say:  Enough…this is not about sex trafficking…it’s not alleged in the government’s complaint in this case…Want to fight sex trafficking?  Fight sex trafficking.  Not Rentboy…No one is disputing that prostitution can be exploitative, especially to women and minors, and that the global sex trade is often a kind of slavery.  Even legal prostitution can trap women in exploitative power relationships.  The question is how best to address these problems, and the emerging answer is that legalization-and-regulation…is better than criminalization…

Fuck you, Jay Michaelson.  Fuck your patronizing picket-fence queer bullshit.  Fuck your attempt to pretend that sex workers (backed by Amnesty International and many others) are asking for “legalization and regulation” because women (though obviously not men) are too fucking weak and stupid to protect ourselves from “exploitation”. Fuck your trying to co-opt our movement, which was already going on for forty fucking years before you deigned to fucking notice it.  Stonewall was the fucking Stonewall of sex workers, you asshole; the riot that started the avalanche that gave gay amateurs their rights was started by professionals.  And I’ll be goddamned if I’m going to remain silent while sleazy douchebags like you call for my body and my choices to be “regulated” by the same kind of fucking pigs those rioters were fighting against, just so middle-class vanilla fucks like you don’t have to feel threatened by my unregulated sexuality.

Read Full Post »

The criminalization of sex work is based in nothing more than petty moral outrage.  – Chris Sosa

RentboyWhile sex workers were  celebrating the growing recognition among decent people that sex work prohibition is nothing less than the violent suppression of consensual sexual behavior, the most rabidly-prohibitionist government on the planet was scheming to prove the pro-decriminalization forces correct by unleashing yet another act of violence against peaceful businesspeople.  Like Escorts.com and MyRedbook before it, the venerable gay escort site Rentboy was raided by federal officials anxious to put on a good show:

Federal agents raided the Manhattan headquarters of Rentboy.com as part of a money laundering and state prostitution investigation Tuesday…Seven people, including CEO Jeffrey Hurant, were arrested…Department of Homeland Security agents and members of the NYPD, which assisted in the raid, were seen removing boxes from the offices…More than $1.4 million from six bank accounts was seized in connection with the probe…the government said it was taking steps to shut down the website…”Rentboy.com attempted to present a veneer of legality, when in fact this Internet brothel made millions of dollars from the promotion of illegal prostitution,” Acting U.S. Attorney…Kelly Currie [bloviated]…

As it later turned out, the raid was not justified under the typical excuse of “money laundering”, but rather under a different infinitely-elastic federal “crime” statute, the Travel Act of 1961:

…the Travel Act makes it a federal crime to use the mail or interstate or international travel or communications for the purposes of engaging in certain illegal acts or for distributing the proceeds of certain illegal acts.  The list of illegal acts covered by the law includes crimes like gambling, prostitution, drug trafficking, extortion, bribery, and arson.  This is not a complete list…these…acts don’t have to be federal crimes to be covered by the Travel Act.  They can be violations of the laws of the state where the crime took place…Rentboy.com allegedly violated New York’s laws against prostitution, but the U.S. Attorney’s Office…is arguing that Rentboy.com facilitated and promoted prostitution crimes across state and international borders…

Though by the timing it may seem that this was intended in retaliation for Amnesty International’s call for decriminalization (which essentially reveals the US as among the world’s most oppressive regimes as far as sexual freedom is concerned), or in reaction to the Ashley Madison debacle, in actuality the feds can’t do anything that quickly; this has been planned for months.  The usual “sex trafficking” rhetoric used to cram these pogroms down the credulous public gullet was notably (and tellingly) absent here; it was all talk of sin crime and chastisement prosecution rather than “rescue” and “exploitation”.  Because while women are delicate, chaste little fluffy-bunnies who could never ever ever conceive of a pragmatic motivation for sex, men are perverted abusers who are never more than an errant thought away from criminality (unless they’re government actors, of course, in which case they’re totally incapable of evil).  But all snark aside, the government actually had very compelling reasons for the raid…1.4 million reasons, to be exact.

In the long run, though, it may prove very expensive for the prohibitionists.  As I’ve complained on a number of occasions, mainstream gay rights organizations seem unconcerned at best and hostile at worst to sex worker rights, despite the fact that members of the GLBT community are disproportionately represented among both sex workers and clients (many closeted gay men rely almost entirely on escorts for male contact).  Gay, Inc has obsessively pushed its white-picket-fence married-couple big-table fantasies to the exclusion of the majority of queers who will never want lifelong committed monogamy, despite the fact that the entire gay rights movement owes its origin to sex workers.  But special-interest groups don’t simply disband once they’ve achieved their original goals; indeed, they actively seek out new goals so as to justify their continued existence.  Now that picket-fence queers have every conceivable right their straight vanilla counterparts enjoy, Big Gay will need a new campaign to pursue…and the feds may have just provided it.  The personal information of thousands of closeted gay men is now in the hands of evil monsters who view human beings only as points to be racked up, and if that’s not a gay rights issue I’m not sure what is; even the hopelessly-square Advocate reported on Lamba Legal’s pro-decriminalization stance (though its headline idiotically asked, “Decriminalize sex work?” as if they didn’t quite get it).  When the victims are women, most Americans seem content to swallow the patronizing & agency-negating “rescuing trafficked girls” narrative, but since the victims are men this time journalists seem to have suddenly awakened en masse.  The Huffington Post‘s reporting on the issue is typical of what I’ve seen since Tuesday:

The site has operated within public view for many years. This is not a secretive, dark web enterprise hidden from the public eye.  It’s a popular online destination that allows escorts to set their own rules and rates.  RentBoy’s platform gives its escorts a degree of agency that sex workers forced to walk the street or be managed by a pimp simply do not have…The Department of Homeland Security…took millions of dollars and ripped six employees from their homes.  While these employees face huge financial and reputational damage, thousands of sex workers who rely on RentBoy as a safe place to conduct business could find themselves in genuine danger…The United States has a responsibility to reform its outdated and violent laws around sex work.  RentBoy’s high-profile raid should make us think about all the quiet acts of violence committed by our government against sex workers…We supposed-progressives chant about bodily autonomy and criticize the American Right for denigrating women, but we participate in the same denigration when we shame sex workers who conscientiously exercise authority over their bodies…

There’s nothing in that excerpt that doesn’t also apply to female sex workers and our advertising venues, but without the “sex trafficking” smoke and mirrors many of these writers appear to be recognizing it for the first time.  Though I have the deepest sympathy for everyone who will be hurt by this monstrous injustice, it may be that the Rentboy raid was the biggest blunder the prohibitionists ever made; if it attracts the big Gay guns and makes sex worker rights “safe” for ordinary people to talk about again, decriminalization is already on the way.

Read Full Post »

About 15 minutes after leaving a great appointment with a touring escort I realized I had left my cell phone in her room.  I went back to retrieve it and knocked on the door; she was talking with another client, but quickly looked around and couldn’t find it.  Later I texted her to see if she found it before leaving the hotel, and I haven’t heard back.  I’d like to see her again, and I’m wondering if I crossed any lines of etiquette that might give her second thoughts about seeing me again.

approach patternYou bet you did, and how.   It is never, repeat never (and I do mean never) permissible for a client to invade an escort’s space when she isn’t expecting him.  Don’t knock on her door, stick a note in her mailbox to say you forgot her number, drive by to see if she’s home or intentionally go someplace you know she’s going to be; unless you’ve got an appointment with her, don’t approach her in any way other than the ones she has indicated are OK for unexpected contact (phone, text, email or whatever).  And if you do have an appointment with her, don’t show up early and malinger in the parking lot, or loiter outside checking your messages after you’ve left, or return 15 minutes later because you forgot something.  You pay her for a certain block of time, and to forcibly occupy other time she has not agreed to sell you is rude at best and threatening at worst.

But that’s not the only issue here, because despite the well-known disclaimer sex workers are indeed selling you something other than time and companionship; we are selling discretion.  Would you want another client knocking on the door while you’re still there, or hanging around outside to watch you leave and note your license plate number?  Naaah, I didn’t think so.  And other gents don’t want you doing it to them, either.  Furthermore, do you really want to know how soon your appointment was after the one before you, or how soon the next one is after you?  Even if that’s your kink, you don’t have the right to draft another client to participate in it without his consent.  An escort’s scheduling practices are nobody’s business but hers; she may choose to space her appointments out or to schedule them very tightly, and when she’s on tour the latter is much more likely than the former.  Sure, it’s unlikely that she’s got them only fifteen minutes apart, but what if she does?  Or in your case, what if the next client was scheduled only half an hour behind you, and his time management was just as loosey-goosey as yours but in the opposite direction so he was arriving fifteen minutes early?  Awkward, that, and possibly damaging to her business.

What you should’ve done was to immediately call or text her by whatever means you used to text her later; if you didn’t have that phone and/or her number with you, it would’ve been better just to wait until you did.  I’m guessing that the phone you misplaced was a disposable “burner”, and the one you texted her from later was your normal one; if that’s the case, it was not really pressing that you recover it immediately. But even if it was your primary phone and you absolutely needed it, your needs don’t trump hers; discretion and courtesy both demand you always ask permission before approaching an incall, and refrain from doing so until that permission is granted.

(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.)

Read Full Post »

The forms of “rescue” and “victim rehabilitation” promoted by…NGOs often contradict their benevolent positions, because the labour requirements of such minimum wage work perpetuate the…restriction and coercion that they associate…with sex work.  –  Elena Shih

Think of the Children! 

The City of West Linn [Oregon] has ordered a local man to stop operating a bondage and discipline-sadomasochism room out of his home…Mead Hall Dungeon is advertised as a private play space available for rental.  David Levine said he hosts parties at the space twice a month…after a neighbor complained about several cars parking along West A Street…police determined no criminal activity was taking place, but the city then issued a cease and desist letter when they learned Levine did not have a business permit…The dungeon is in a soundproofed, converted garage that sits off a long driveway…[a pearl-clutching busybody] said she was shocked when she found out about Mead Hall, especially because it’s located a few blocks down from West Linn High School.  “I just find it just totally inappropriate…in a neighborhood”…

For Their Own Safety

Prostitutes in Italy will now be forced to replace their miniskirts and revealing tops for a reflective jacket and trousers worn by road workers…sex workers gathering on a main road into Milan…face a 500 euro fine if they refuse to wear the unappealing high-visibility attire.  Authorities…[pretend] the prostitutes caused a road-safety problem…and should be treated as construction workers…

A Moral Cancer

The crypto-moralists have been relatively quiet for a while:

People with a family history of cancer should seriously consider stopping drinking alcohol altogether experts have warned…The study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) concludes that drinking just a small amounts of alcohol increases the risk of cancer in women and men who smoke…After allowing for other risk factors…they found that light to moderate drinking – less than two drinks a day for women, and three to four drinks daily for men – is linked to…a 13 percent increased risk of cancer regardless…no association was found in men who had never smoked…

13%!  Why, that’s a virtual CERTAINTY!!!!!!

Against Their Will

In India, the…[law] equates prostitution with commercial sexual exploitation.  [Arrested adult] women…ostensibly…victims, are then placed in institutions from which they are forbidden to leave until released by a court.  The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act (ITPA) of 1956 prescribes state…custody for them until the suitability of their families or guardians to “take charge of them” is verified…activists have long questioned the constitutionality of this provision vis-a-vis the fundamental rights to life and liberty…After verification, courts can either order their release to a suitable guardian’s custody, or commit them to be detained in the protective home for one to three years for “care and protection”.  To appeal against detention orders, women must approach an appellate court, for which they seldom have the resources…Rainbow Love

Size Matters

The Seattle prosecutor claims that whores “have nothing to fear from us”:

Rainbow Love…dodged jail time in 2010 when she was caught running “temples” in Seattle and the suburbs.  Now, though, the Marysville woman could see prison as King County prosecutors accuse her of operating a string of brothels out of apartments in and around Seattle…Love is alleged to have admitted…to taking thousands of dollars in prostitution earnings from women she managed…Love has now been charged with three counts of second-degree promoting prostitution related to a sting operation conducted in May 2014…Last prosecuted five years ago, Love had been caught in mid-2008 running a chain of “goddess temples” deemed to be brothels by investigators…Prosecutors claim Love was again operating brothels presented as religious spaces…

I’ve never met Rainbow, but some of my friends have (some have even worked for her). The idea that she’s some sort of criminal, and that her beliefs are insincere, is evil coppery of the highest magnitude; note the dysphemistic phraseology here such as “taking thousands of dollars” (in other words, receiving thousands in fees like any agent would).  This is the “new and improved” regime of sex work policing we aren’t supposed to fear.

Schadenfreude 

The only “training” women receive at Prey Speu is in how to be beaten, robbed, gang-raped and starved:

Authorities in the capital’s Daun Penh district rounded up dozens of sex workers…before sending them..for “re-education” at the notorious Prey Speu detention centre…43 sex workers and 10 homeless people were arrested…as part of ongoing efforts to rid Phnom Penh of its so-called “undesirables”…Since it opened in 2004, Prey Speu has been plagued with allegations of abuse.  Staff and former detainees have [reported] that it is ill-equipped to offer any of the advertised training…

The Public Eye

This story on Seattle sex workers’ reactions to the pompous posturing of prohibitionist politicians quotes three friends of mine:  Maggie McMuffin, Vignette Velo & Savannah Sly; the show mentioned in the text was this one, and in the recording you can hear a tiny bit of my attempt at emceeing at the very end.  Unfortunately, the ignoramuses get to vomit out their lies and agency-negating myths in the story, too.

Skin To Skin

Deliciously Disabled held its first official event…at Toronto’s Oasis Aqualounge…it was not an “orgy” like so many media outlets had purported it to be…the event was there to allow people with disabilities of all forms to interact with each other in a space where they felt both comfortable enough to express themselves and safe enough to retract and just watch the show….[it] was designed to be fully accessible, with gadgets like hydraulic lifts and harnesses being set up to allow participants to explore each other sexually and, if they want to, even get some good ol’ banging going on.  There was also booze—lots of booze—along with various forms of entertainment, from DJs to burlesque dancers, all for the reasonable price of $20…

Little Boxes (#138)

It amazes me how worked up some people can get about tits:

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is promising to take action against women who pose nearly naked for photos in Times Square in exchange for cash.  The practice seems to be on the rise…many…wear only body paint and a thong.  They charge a few dollars to pose for photos with tourists.  Police say they can do little to stop it, and some local politicians and newspaper editorials are calling for a ban of the practice.  De Blasio says…he believes the practice is “wrong”…

Tamara Dominguez
Ever notice that consensual transactions prudes want to ban are always claimed to be “on the rise”?

Monsters 

Gee, I can’t imagine why they think this was done hatefully: “Kansas City police say they still cannot say if the murder of a transgender woman was a hate crime.  Tamara Dominguez, 36, was hit by a truck early Saturday morning, then driven over by that truck again and again…

Business As Usual

What makes this newsworthy is that the cases were actually thrown out:

Three prostitution cases have been thrown out this month by…judges and the Minneapolis city attorney, who said Minneapolis undercover police investigators went too far.  The officers’ [rape of sex workers] also drew a sharp denunciation from the county’s chief public defender, Mary Moriarty…two of the cases were dismissed…in rulings that found the officers’ actions constituted “outrageous government conduct”…Minneapolis police said the department has discontinued such undercover investigations pending a full review of its policies…[but] none of the three officers involved in the cases is [being charged]…

Unfortunately, Moriarty then rudely follows up her denunciation of the cops by vomiting prohibitionist filth all over the reporter.

Schadenfreude (#434) 

anti-trafficking NGOs have created a cottage industry of “victim repair” through vocational training…Numerous faith-based and secular NGOs…focus on selling wares made by the women they employ…Jewellery, tote bags, blankets, and placemats are among the many products sold online and at anti-trafficking conferences and fairs..for most of the women [their wages] represents only one-third to one-fifth of their previous monthly earnings as sex workers…NGOs rely heavily on moral rehabilitation to “repair the victim”.  The NGO employing [one Chinese intervewee] requires workers to contractually agree to neither sell sex nor patronise their former entertainment establishments in the future.  They are also required to live in mandatory shelter housing, have a nightly curfew, and are forbidden from receiving male visitors during the weekdays.  There is also optional daily Bible study, but if they choose not to attend, they must work through the hour making jewelry…

Worse Than I Thought (#532)

Under the new Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (JVTA)…anyone who solicits or engages in prostitution with a person under age 18 is subject to federal sex-trafficking charges…So why wasn’t former Subway spokesman Jared Fogle booked on federal sex trafficking charges?  In addition to Fogle’s alleged child-porn collection, he is accused of traveling to New York City on two occassions to pay for sex with 16- and 17-year-old girls.  Whether these girls were forced into the sexual activity is irrelevant as far as federal law is concerned; the JVTA makes very clear that anyone paying for sex with a teen is…guilty of the crime of human trafficking…But the feds didn’t even attempt to book Fogle on sex trafficking charges, instead charging him with “traveling to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor”…not even the media have been throwing around the words “sex trafficking” in conjunction to Jared, though they seldom miss an opportunity to work the phrase into coverage of consensual sex work of any kind…

Read Full Post »

There’s this notion of treating sex workers like children who need watching over, but we don’t, and our model is evidence of that.  –  Catherine Healy

eugenics treeFor years I have held the position that the cause of sex worker rights, as part of the whole fabric of recognition of the individual’s right to be unmolested by the state due to private sexual behavior, must inevitably succeed.  As civilization has developed, respect for individual civil rights has steadily grown; certainly the growth has been neither smooth nor consistent, but as a rule the rights of individuals are greater at any randomly-selected point on the timeline of history than they were at any randomly-selected previous point.  For the past century or so the development of individual rights has been impeded by the cancer known as Progressivism, the belief that “experts” have more right to determine what is “good” for any individual than that individual has to determine that for himself, and that said “experts” have the right to dispatch armed thugs to use violence to punish those who dare to violate the arbitrary pronouncements of those experts, in order to terrorize the greater population into meek obedience.  But the bloody consequences of “progressive” thought are at last becoming obvious to all but the True Believers and the hopelessly collectivist, and it’s only a matter of time before drug prohibition follows eugenics, and prohibition of pragmatic sexual activity follows prohibition of non-procreative sexual activity, onto the ash-heap of history.

In recent years, the prohibitionists who saw this trend have been fighting a last, desperate, all-out campaign against the inevitable; it’s no accident that “sex trafficking” hysteria appeared on the scene immediately after three huge developments in sexual freedom (loosening of restrictions on sex work in Germany, decriminalization in New Zealand and the abolition of “sodomy” laws in the US) made it obvious that state control of individual sexual behavior was on its way out.  But any campaign driven entirely by disinformation, conflation, negation of individual agency and pure moral panic cannot last forever, no matter how many billions are pumped into it; slowly but surely the truth will out.  Since the summer of 2012 momentum for decriminalization has been building outside of the demimonde, and a broad coalition of UN agencies, health officials, human rights groups, think tanksacademics and journalists has joined sex workers in demanding that the state keep its filthy hands out of whores’ lingerie.  For over two years now I’ve been waiting for signs that our society had reached the watershed moment, the point at which the momentum would begin to run away from prohibition and toward respect for individual rights again, and I think that finally came two weeks ago when Amnesty International declared its support for decriminalization.  Since then, prohibitionists’ wailing and gnashing of teeth has largely been drowned out by the sounds of jubilation from the harlots’ camp, and a chorus of assent from many who had remained silent on the issue for a long time, such as drug anti-prohibitionist Richard Branson; even prohibitionist-leaning news organizations like The Guardian and Al Jazeera published op-eds cheering the Amnesty decision.  But none of them were as welcome to me as the statement from venerable GLBT rights group Lambda Legal:

…we…applaud and support Amnesty International’s recent resolution to protect the human rights of sex workers by calling for decriminalization of sex work…For many LGBT people, participation in street economies is often critical to survival…Transgender people engage in sex work at a rate ten times that of cisgender women, and 13% of transgender people who experience family rejection have done sex work…LGBT people are regularly profiled, harassed, and criminalized based on the presumption that they are sex workers, contributing to the high rates of incarceration and police brutality experienced by these communities …Laws criminalizing sexual exchange—whether by the seller or the buyer—impede sex workers’ ability to negotiate condom use and other boundaries, and force many to work in hidden or remote places where they are more vulnerable to violence.  Research and experience have shown that these laws serve only to drive the industry further underground…We look forward to working…with sex workers and…Amnesty International, to replace laws that criminalize sex work with public policies that address sex workers’ real…needs.

Lamda-LegalThis is huge; Lambda was a major player in the advances in gay rights over the past forty years, and its support may give our movement the much-needed legal firepower that the ACLU’s abdication of its responsibilities has cheated us of for decades.  To be sure, the conditions mentioned in this statement are nothing new, and had mainstream gay rights organizations not been obsessively dedicated to pursuing the agenda of white, middle-class, monogamous, vanilla gay folk for this entire century so far, they could have been addressing these issues long ago.  But if they’re willing to stop ignoring us at last, and to put their might behind us in earnest, I for one am willing to forgive them.  Gay rights groups, anti-prohibitionist groups, sex-positive groups…I don’t know where you’ve been hiding for the past eleven years, or what you’ve been waiting for to speak up.  But if that’s finally changed, we can discuss it later; right now you’ve got a lot of catching up to do, and we are sorely in need of your help.

Read Full Post »

The enemy of my enemy is my friend.  –  Sanskrit proverb

So a couple of weeks ago, this item hit the internet:

…The sex industry should be fully decriminalised, the Westminster based Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) said in a new report.  The IEA argues that existing attempts to restrict prostitution are “ineffective, ill-informed and a waste public money”…The…report says rules that criminalise sellers directly, or criminalise third parties who supply them with services, simply push the sex industry underground, increasing the risks for sex workers.  “The very concept of prostitution is no longer workable in today’s fluid sexual markets, where anyone can meet anyone, on whatever terms they choose,” said report author Catherine Hakim.  “Decriminalisation is the only workable way forward. The proposal to copy Sweden and criminalise customers in the sex trade is a complete waste of public money, unforgiveable in a time of austerity”…

Catherine HakimOne would think this news would’ve been welcomed by activists; every additional voice calling for decriminalization not only adds to the chorus, but also increases the chance that any given politician will be in direct contact with one of those voices.  But was that what happened?  Nope.  Instead, I saw numerous voices declaring that the cause of sex worker rights “doesn’t need” this support because the IEA endorsed decriminalization for the “wrong reasons”.  You know, kind of like prostitution is criminalized because it’s sex for the “wrong reasons”.  But it wasn’t just one “wrong reason”; oh, no!  As I’ve explained before, neofeminists do not like Catherine Hakim, because she says things like this:

The report by the social scientist Catherine Hakim says that international surveys have demonstrated a large gap in sexual desire between men and women which “cannot be dismissed as an outdated patriarchal myth as argued by some feminists”.  Dr Hakim says the “sexual deficit” between men and women “helps to explain many puzzles, including why men are the principal customers for commercial sexual entertainments of all kinds…male demand for sexual entertainments…is…growing, and ineradicable”, she concludes.  She says the available evidence suggests that prostitution and pornography have no damaging social impact and may even help reduce sex crime.  Dr Hakim says: “Spain, where prostitution is legal, also has exceptionally low rates of rape”…

These statements should not be controversial to any whore, yet for some people common sense and personal experience are always trumped by “feminist” dogma, despite the fact that most people who adopt that self-identifier are our implacable enemies.

cliqueSex worker activists who care more about “feminist” nonsense than about our cause, or who think that we have the luxury of working only with would-be allies who can pass some sort of ideological purity test, need to get the hell out of sex worker rights activism; they are sleeping with the enemy and cannot be trusted to do what is necessary to advance our struggle.  This is a war, not a game; our enemies use tactics specifically intended to expose us to police violence and starve us to death if we manage to escape that.  They are perfectly willing to make whatever alliances are necessary to advance their cause, and to employ doomsday weapons that cause widespread collateral damage, yet some of the people on our side still treat this as a jolly game in which the identity of one’s playmates is far more important than the outcome.  If that’s the way you feel, please go home and find another cause; we need allies who will actually help us, not cliquish schoolgirls who want to turn down three-quarters of our potential allies because they’re boys, have cooties, wear unfashionable clothes or live in the wrong part of town.  Anyone who is willing to watch the bodies of her sisters continue to pile up because she’s too prissy to sit down at a table with people whose philosophies differ from hers is helping the prohibitionists, and that makes her a liability at best and an enemy at worst.  But anyone who speaks up for the decriminalization of sex work is the enemy of prohibitionists, and that makes her my friend and ally.

 

Read Full Post »

They’re parroting back what they’ve been told to say, as actors do, and they got their names in the headlines, as actors like.  –  Mistress Matisse

Just in case you somehow missed it on Tuesday, and in my news column on Wednesday:

Amnesty International has at long last come out in support of absolute decriminalization of sex work, as sex workers ourselves have wanted for decades.  Amnesty has a tremendous amount of clout; this will strongly affect small countries, and even in big countries like the US some politicians may now begin to doubt the wisdom of backing laws that allow the cops to persecute adults for consensual sex.  It will also undermine the prohibitionists’ arguments; they can no longer pretend that their views are common-sense and mainstream…

Here’s a video from Amnesty, answering the propaganda attacks prohibitionists have hurled at the organization in the past few weeks:

Sex workers all over the world were jubilant; tens of thousands of tweets went out in minutes.  I retweeted many of them, texted Mistress Matisse, called Matt to tell him; the news spread like wildfire through the demimonde, and many a cheer and victory dance ensued.  But as you might suspect, there was no joy in the Mudville occupied by prohibitionists; the ones on Twitter who dared to show their faces at all tried to piss on sex workers (without negotiation, consent or payment), only to be chased back to their troll-caves.  The staunchly prohibitionist New York Times huffed,

…The proposal…provoked an aggressive lobbying campaign by international groups opposed to sparing buyers and pimps from penalties.  Competing petitions were organized by women’s groups and celebrities— including former President Jimmy Carter…appealing to the group to…“stay true to its mission”…

It’s rather telling that the prohibitionists, including the senile evangelical Carter, are so blinded by their bigotry that they can’t see that Amnesty is staying true to its mission, which has always opposed criminalization of non-violent consensual behavior.  Of course, the Times couldn’t be bothered to ask any uppity whores for our opinions; rather, it quoted prohibitionists foaming at the mouth about “pimps”:

“It is a myth about the happy prostitute who does this as a free choice.  Unfortunately, I can now hear people saying ‘hurrah’ — all those johns and pimps who run the brothels. It’s a multibillion-euro industry.”

For those who have been asleep for the past few years, prohibitionists pretend that all the millions of sex workers who ask for decriminalization are disguised “pimps and johns”, or else poor victimized drug addict women with “Stockholm syndrome”.  Stockholm, you know, like in Sweden.  The Guardian was even worse:

…Many former sex workers have criticised the decision.  “We feel that Amnesty International are supporting the men who are killing our women and it’s a slap in the face,” said Bridget Perrier, [a disgruntled former sex worker]…Fiona Broadfoot, [a former teen runaway, pretends that]…“The vast majority of women working in this industry are abused on a massive scale…Legalising it will not take away that abuse”…Broadfoot is a strong advocate for the Nordic model…Rachel Moran, [a paid shill for the violent prohibitionist group Ruhama who has never actually done sex work]…called the…decision “breathtakingly disgraceful”…

Yes, they quoted three prohibitionist “survivors” and not one single current sex worker.  But as I’ve pointed out before, The Guardian is in business to make money, and so was happy to also carry this:

…criminalising sex workers contributes to their vulnerability to violence, exploitation, and HIV.  Evidence from New Zealand and New South Wales…reveals that [decriminalization]…led to increased use of sexual health services…encouraged greater condom use and yielded fewer reports of harassment by police.  Conversely research shows that countries that continue to prosecute sex workers have higher HIV rates, increased stigma and discrimination, increased violence and abuse against…sex workers, and limited access to health services and condoms.  At the Elton John Aids Foundation, we continue to support organisations fighting for sex workers’ rights…We stand with Amnesty, and applaud it for its wise and bold approach.

Amnesty International logoThat was written by the Foundation’s head, Scott Campbell, but given the number of songs he’s written about sex workers I suspect it closely mirror’s Sir Elton’s own sentiments.  And because I’m not a prohibitionist, I’m going to close with the words of an actual, current sex worker, my dear friend Mistress Matisse:

…Phrases like “pimping” have a heavy sound—but technically if I call a friend and say, “I have a client who wants to see both of us—come on over,” that’s pimping.  When I was 24 years old I managed a massage parlor…I was not coercing or harming anyone, but I was technically and legally a pimp…There are…bad and abusive husbands and boyfriends but we don’t outlaw marriage.  There are bad abusive bosses in non-sex work jobs…In a decriminalized system a sex worker with an abusive pimp can go to the police and complain.  And in countries where sex work has been decriminalized—Australia and New Zealand—that happens now…There are all sorts of institutions, and all sorts of legal employers, that harm women but there no other jobs that we point to say say, “The women doing that job have to be arrested—and arresting them is rescuing them!”

Fortunately, the world’s most respected human rights organization is not afraid to say that infantilizing sex workers and criminalizing our choices is bullshit; let’s hope some politicians (even in the deeply prohibitionist US) begin to recognize that the wind is shifting, and decide to stand with Amnesty and sex workers as we look toward the future and away from the fear of consensual sex.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 7,798 other followers