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Archive for the ‘Perception’ Category

Idiocracy

Just in case you missed it, Twitter’s completely mindless algorithms (which are not supervised or monitored by humans in any way) have locked my account again; it happened Monday afternoon and my account will (presumably) be back to normal this coming Monday afternoon.  Until then, I’ll be tweeting from my backup account, which I ask that you follow because this is bound to happen again.  What happened this time is that a prohibitionist experienced some kind of glitch while attempting to troll Prostasia‘s website, and accused the members of the advisory council (which includes yours truly) of trying to “hide” our participation in a child protection and pro-civil-rights organization (because apparently the most delusional prohibitionists believe that wanting to protect children and civil rights are somehow positions to be ashamed of).  When those accused asked the loser what he was blabbering about, he quickly descending into calling all of us “pedos”.  I replied in thread with the tweet you see here; apparently the loon took offense and reported my analysis of his level of cognitive function.  I sincerely doubt this rather mild insult was what Twitter refers to as “abuse and harassment”; what I believe happened is that complaints trigger an algorithm which scans the reported tweet for “bad words”, and my quoting what the abusive chimp was accusing us of was taken as my calling him a “pedo”.  As Isaac Asimov once pointed out, computers are high-speed morons; tell a computer that certain words are verboten and the electronic idiot cannot tell the difference between someone initiating use of the words, and someone quoting the insult.  Going forward, I’m going to keep this in mind because it’s the second time I’ve been shut down by this same censor-moron (the first one was for calling myself “queer” when a speech cop wanted me to call myself “gay”; see the similarity?)  As long as Twitter and other websites allow themselves to be governed by mindless machines, this will never stop, but cheer up:  think of how exciting driving wil be once this same kind of algorithm is actively operating a sizeable fraction of automobiles.

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I recently heard you speak, but was unclear on your point that the criminalization of prostitution suppresses the sexuality of women in general, not just the sexuality of sex workers.  Could you please make this connection clearer?

The criminalization of sex work is nothing less than the criminalization of thought.  Sex outside of committed relationships, even with total strangers, is perfectly legal for motives such as fun, excitement, relief of boredom, experimentation, gratitude, friendship or whatever; it’s only when the woman has a “bad” motive, ie profit, that the act becomes illegal.  Criminalization of sex work therefore gives cops the “right” to guess what a woman’s motive for sex might be, and if they decide (correctly or incorrectly, with or without proof) that her motive is a pragmatic one, to brutalize, rob, abduct and cage her, and in most places even to rape her to “collect evidence”.  Prostitution laws therefore suppress all women’s sexuality, because women who dare to be sexual outside of committed relationships, especially women of color, are always in danger of cops deciding to harass or violate them under the premise of “investigating the crime of prostitution”.  And in the aftermath of FOSTA, we are even beginning to see an erosion of women’s right to go unescorted in a public place without being discriminated against or even accused of “prostitution” or being a “sex trafficking victim”.

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

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Police are a substantial cause of death…for lots of people. – Frank Edwards

The Cop Myth

1/3 of all Americans killed by strangers are murdered by cops:

…[an average of 3.25] Americans are killed by police every day…of all the homicide victims in the United States, police kill an estimated six percent…But the actual numbers are likely higher…government data is woefully inadequate, so the best available datasets have been created by journalist-driven public programs…In a [new] study…in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team of sociologists and criminal justice researchers…determined that police violence is one of the leading causes of death of young men in the United States.  Overall, it’s estimated that the mortality rate is about 1.8 per 100,000 for men between the ages of 25 and 29.  This ranks police…as the sixth leading cause of death for young men, placing it behind…suicide and “accidents” — a category that includes drug overdoses and car accident deaths…

Stalkers in Blue

With modern surveillance and data processing, no woman is safe from sexually-aggressive cops:

…Scott Martin of the Ringgold [Georgia] Police Department [was fired]…for…a pattern of stalking, sexual advances, and abuse of authority…Martin…found [one victim] on Facebook…and repeatedly [messaged her to] suggest…that she sleep with his wife….Martin [stalked] the second victim, a college instructor, through her Linkedin page.  He…[even] sat in her class about gender and sexuality…she tried to avoid him.  The third victim [was a]…bank [teller whom]…he [messaged] on Snapchat…request[ing nudes and sending her a dick pic]…He eventually married one of her former coworkers and added her as a friend on their joint Facebook account…[then] continued to ask for sexual favors…The fourth victim…said Martin continuously followed her at [her city job] and…repeatedly…questioned her intentions when he saw her at the grocery store or gas station…Martin was supposed to be one of her points of official contact if she [was] ever [sexually harassed] at work…[before] Martin…[became a cop he tried teaching but]…was fired…[for sexting] a female student.  At another job…he rep[ea]tedly made…sexual remark[s] toward a…female co[worker]…

Banishment (#882)

Threatening landlords to get them to evict sex workers is a popular pig trick:

Billings…[Montana pigs], prosecutors and [prohibitionists promoted “pimp” propaganda to politicians to push]…the passage of two new laws [persecuting]…property owners who are collecting rent from…businesses [the pigs want punished]…In California, the Sacramento City Council has proposed some form of [persecution of] massage parlor landlords…In New York City, [pigs]…have [done the same] to [get around the necessity of] prov[ing anything]…Polaris Project, a national [prohibitionist profiteer gang]…has also called for greater [persecution] of…property owners…

On Tape

Where did Trump get these exaggerated ideas about how “sex trafficking victims” are treated?  IT’S A MYSTERY!  “Sandy Middleton…[of] the Center for Violence Prevention [in Mississippi]..said…’These girls are starved, beaten, raped, chained to trees and locked in trunks’“…

End Demand (#939)

Mar Brettmann is a sleazy opportunist who will say anything to sell her anti-whore snake oil:

Mar Brettmann…of the Seattle-based Businesses Ending Slavery & Trafficking, which [among other obscenities spreads lurid propaganda about sex workers]…to hotels—share[s her disgusting sexual fantasies about sex workers as though they were facts, because she knows most people are too gullible to as for evidence of any kind, such as names, links to police reports or even the places these lurid tales are supposed to have occurred]…BEST is one of the [profiteers making a killing from the] American Hotel & Lodging Association’s No Room for Trafficking campaign…[others] include ECPAT-USA…and Polaris…In addition, some [ambulance-chasers]…have filed lawsuits against hotel owners and operators

Top Cop (#944)

One can never have too many attacks on this power-hungry sociopath:

…support for the Nordic Model fits with Harris’s self-branding as a “progressive prosecutor” who offers a “smart on crime” third way between the excessively carceral conservatives and social justice-minded but squishy liberals.  It’s a schtick she’s carried over into her bid for Democrats’ 2020 presidential nod, after perfecting it during years as attorney general of California and district attorney of San Francisco…During [the] last…Democratic presidential debate, fellow candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard grilled Harris about her sordid record as top cop in California.  Harris “kept people in prison beyond their sentences to use them as cheap labor”…and “put over 1,500 people in jail for marijuana violations”, Gabbard said…All Harris offered in response was an insistence that she is “proud” of her record and, later, an ad hominem attack on Gabbard.  Meanwhile, Harris’s press secretary tweeted that Gabbard was supported by Russia…

Dangerous Speech (#950)

This excerpt from Reason‘s video “The War on Backpage is a War on Sex Workers” (click on subtitle link for complete video) discusses a subject long-time readers may remember:

Pyrrhic Victory (#955)

As I keep saying, it’s already far too late to stop this tyranny:

…if [you]’ve ever gotten a Michigan driver’s license or a state ID card…the State Police has [your] mug shot.  The…database may even contain [your] Facebook profile photo or another social media image…There are only about 8 million adults in Michigan, but there are nearly 50 million facial images in the MSP’s Statewide Network of Agency Photos (SNAP), with 2.7 million photos added to the database last year alone.  Though the MSP didn’t start using facial recognition technology until 2001, the Secretary of State’s Office has been giving State Police all its digital photos — without notice to motorists — since 1998…[and the] 2020 budget…gives [cops] more than half a million dollars to enhance the facial recognition search functions of the growing database…

Between the Lines (#960)

This is what the FBI meant by “re-evaluating” Operation Cross Country: changing its name and quadrupling its length and cost:

A monthlong FBI-led [pogrom] to…arrest sex [workers] and [infantilize them]…has resulted in [hundreds] of arrests [of adult sex workers] and…[103 underage sex workers]…The [rebranded] Operation Independence Day…[involved] more than 400 [gangs of violent thugs]…67 [other people were arrested and charged with vague “sex trafficking” crimes.  Beside the rebranding]…FBI field offices had a longer time window to plan and execute [pogroms] as part of the national initiative, with the goal being to [circumvent sex workers’ increased security measures by dragging the raids out long enough that marginalized workers become desperate]…

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Last week, I mentioned that I had done a lecture at the University of Michigan via video link.  Unfortunately, our connection was poor, so I had to keep restating points that were lost when the signal dropped; this ate up the time we had for questions, so I asked the teacher to collect student questions and I would answer them via email.  Most of the questions were ones I’ve answered in other places, and though that’s also mostly true of this one, I don’t recall ever directly answering it in one go:  How does violence against women change with different regulatory regimes?

When the demand for anything is inflexible, as in the case of sex and drugs, prohibition does nothing to curtail that demand; what happens instead is a black market develops to supply the commodity.  And because black markets are illegal, there is no way for those involved in them to call upon courts, lawyers, etc to settle trade disputes.  That means violence, and such markets also tend to draw people who aren’t afraid of breaking the law (which of course includes career criminals).  Alcohol prohibition is a fine example: in the 1920s, if one wanted some booze one had to deal directly or indirectly with bootleggers or smugglers, and turf wars became very bloody indeed.  But after Prohibition ended in December 1933, that all ended practically overnight; when was the last time you heard of a turf war between bars or liquor stores?  Similarly, sex workers who are raped, robbed, or otherwise harmed by violent men cannot go to the police at all under criminalization because they will be arrested for prostitution.  Under most forms of legalization they usually don’t dare, because even though selling sex isn’t illegal the cops may spy on them afterward to catch them in some prohibited behavior such as working together for safety or having dependents.  That’s also true under the Swedish model, and in addition the cops use sex workers as non-consenting bait to catch clients; that in itself increases violence against street workers in particular because the clients are afraid of busy, well-lit areas so they need to move to darker, quieter ones.  All these factors also draw rapists, robbers and serial killers, because they know it’s less likely they will be caught if they prey upon women the law defines as “criminals”.  Only under decriminalization, in which sex work is treated as work, are sex workers free to take whatever precautions they feel necessary without violating some law, and can call on the police if they wish (though I personally advise against that course of action).

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

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I’ve been studying moral panics since I was in high school, and I’ve noticed something a bit odd about the current one over “sex trafficking”.  Normally, as I’ve written before, such panics tend to get more and more hysterical until they implode; that is certainly happening with this one, as anyone knows from following my “Widening Gyre” columns chronicling cop attempts to regain control of the narrative from the “sex traffickers followed me in Ikea!” crowd.  But the “official” hysteria, that is the kind vomited out by cops and politicians and eagerly lapped up for re-regurgitation by the media, has since FOSTA taken on a very tired, perfunctory tone.  For example, this recent USA Today iteration of the same old ridiculous, repeatedly-debunked “statistics” contained the following disclaimer:

…Law enforcement has ramped up it’s [sic] tough-on-trafficking language in recent years, touting raids on illicit spas as proof of crackdowns.  Yet…the outcomes don’t match the rhetoric.  Only one woman in the raids that saw Kraft arrested faces a charge related to trafficking.  And in other cases…business at sex spas returned to normal within months of police activity…

The rest is the typical farrago of lies about “the enormity of the global sex trade”, billions of dollars and millions of victims “hidden in plain sight” and somehow “growing”, yet it’s almost as though the reporter is saying in an aside, “I’m sorry y’all, I know you’ve heard this a thousand times but I need to obediently parrot this if I want to be paid.”

And here’s one which starts with politicians bloviating about “pervasive evil” while pompously calling their propaganda “educating the public”, but quickly degenerates into a bunch of professional “survivors” and other “rescue” profiteers on the make.  After some demands for more government handouts and complaints about how the cops can’t find “pimps” and “traffickers” who only exist in “rescue” fantasies, the politicians almost sheepishly follow their initial bluster with empty promises to “do better” while loons like “Cuckoo Clock” McCain and the head of Polaris spout incoherent nonsense about why decriminalization is bad.  You can look at the resulting dog’s breakfast if you care to, but I honestly can’t even imagine most “sex trafficking” fetishists making it to the end.

So what’s going on here? Why do these media outlets repeatedly publish the same tinned nonsense over and over, even in outlets such as the Washington Post that employ their own fact-checkers? Why are the cracks in the narrative spreading so slowly, despite repeated debunking and the total inability of cops & FBI to produce more than a handful of “pimps” when we’re told they’re lurking around every shopping mall, bus stop, school and Facebook page in the country and magically home in on runaways in under 48 hours?  The answer, I think, is evident in the sources of most of the disinformation:  Government.  This is no ordinary moral panic, but one manufactured and maintained by government as an excuse to expand its own power and feed the carceral system; it is, as I have said before, the replacement for the dying War on Drugs (another campaign of terror started and fed by relentless government propaganda).  But even though the mainstream media joined the fascist establishment decades ago, individual reporters are still individuals and not everyone can effectively turn off their brains and obediently parrot the propaganda they’re ordered to dish up.  As the popular hysteria dries up and the War on Whores is maintained only by state money and misinformation, we can expect to see reporters growing ever wearier of the nonsense, and that it will become inceasingly noticeable in the tone of their articles.

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Unfortunately, the government’s wanton destruction of advertising platforms has thrown the industry into disarray. Idiots like the one who sent me this a week ago today are now approaching professional escorts when they’re used to dealing with unprofessional dabblers, and things like screening flummox them.  But screening protects decent, normal clients as much as it does sex workers; it demonstrates to the client that he’s dealing with someone professional and careful who has something to lose.  You know who doesn’t screen?  Cops.  They just want to get as many warm bodies into their trap as possible before the word of it gets out, and that means they just love it when guys who are thinking with the wrong head and want a no-questions-asked nownownow date contact them through their fake ads.  This certainly doesn’t mean that everyone who doesn’t screen is a cop; however, it does mean that of those who don’t a share approaching 100% are either unprofessional, extremely desperate, totally inexperienced, or up to no good.  From our side of the equation, even the request for screening info acts as a form of pre-screening; if a man is in too much of a rush or is too much of an entitled clod to comply, or else refuses because he has something to hide, I’m uninterested in seeing him anyway.  The short exchange illustrated here demonstrates another value of the process.  A large fraction of low-intelligence, poorly-socialized men respond to what they perceive as rejection with insults and rage; imagine if I had upset this cretin in person, in a private setting.  And then think again about whether you want to eschew screening.

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In “Bad Advice”, a man was concerned about losing the image of his wife’s body as the years rolled by with no sexual contact with her.  Several readers noticed I didn’t say anything about that aspect of his question; the truth is, I didn’t feel I could answer it because men are much more visual creatures than women, and I honestly wasn’t sure what I could’ve said that wouldn’t have sounded either Pollyanna or dismissive, so I left it alone.  But one regular reader has had similar experiences himself, and last week he sent me this short answer and told me it was OK to share it.

Maggie gave me some excellent advice over 6 years ago in “On a Mountaintop”.  I took that advice, and am very glad that I did.  Seeing sex workers brings touch back into my life, affirms my sexuality, and makes me feel more whole.  My mind is more clear and focused, my mood brighter, my outlook better.  It’s been a wonderful set of experiences and I have no regrets.  But I can tell the man what will happen, or at least what happened to me.  This rejection of a man’s sexual being, coupled with his continued love and desire, creates a wound that never heals.  It’s been 10 years since I last had sex with my wife, but when we are watching a movie or TV show and a romantic scene is shown, it can penetrate my armor; when the scene suggests a happy and fulfilling sex life between an older married couple, it pierces my heart like a hot needle.  There’s nothing a sex worker can or should do about this; I am responsible for my decision to stay and endure this occasional injury.  Long term marriages are complex things, with economic and familial ties and obligations, vows and trusts and all manner of complications known only to the couple.  I have no advice for the man who wrote, just the knowledge that he will probably experience the same pain.

Here is a wound that never will heal, I know,
Being wrought not of a dearness and a death,
But of a love turned ashes and the breath
Gone out of beauty; never again will grow
The grass on that scarred acre, though I sow
Young seed there yearly and the sky bequeath
Its friendly weathers down, far Underneath
Shall be such bitterness of an old woe.
That April should be shattered by a gust,
That August should be levelled by a rain,
I can endure, and that the lifted dust
Of man should settle to the earth again;
But that a dream can die, will be a thrust
Between my ribs forever of hot pain.  –  Edna St. Vincent Millay

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