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Archive for the ‘Perception’ Category

Usually, when I devote a whole column to picking on a news article, it’s because said article is so hilariously bad or deeply disturbing (or both) that I can’t bear to limit myself to a quick jab of the knife in a news column, and instead prefer to lovingly vivisect it until the entire virtual room is spattered in blood.  But this is, alas, not one of those cases; the article’s author, Sonja Sharp, clearly believes herself an ally of sex workers, or is at least open-minded to the idea that sex workers deserve human rights, yet she can’t quite bring herself to shake off her childlike trust in government and her belief that cops are the “good guys”.  So what we get is an article that is generally supportive of sex worker rights, yet fails to properly place the blame for our oppression on the prohibitionists; instead, it adopts a kind of mealy-mouthed “moderation”, pretending that there is a legitimate “debate” to be had between those who say humans own ourselves and have unalienable rights, and those who pretend that individuals are owned by the State, which has the “right” to use violence to “protect” us from choices with which our owners disapprove.  There’s very little point in quoting the good parts, so I’m just going to concentrate on pointing out the bad ones.

[When] Police Commissioner James O’Neill and the city’s First Lady Chirlane McCray…[announced] the NYPD would bolster the size of its vice squad in order to stamp out sex trafficking…the hope on part of some advocates was that sex workers might see relief from the pressure traditionally brought to bear by police…

I have no idea who these “advocates” Sharp refers to are, but none of them are sex worker rights activists; we know better than to harbor naive beliefs that doubling the size of a police unit could in any way signal “relief” for those the unit is specifically intended to oppress.

…a growing number of law enforcement agencies…are forming their own anti-trafficking units—often using grants from the feds—and deploying similarly gallant rhetoric despite limited evidence their arrests do much to stop exploitation…But alternatives are time-consuming and remain opaque to most law enforcement agencies, which have been deputized to fight human trafficking in part because it’s widely understood to be synonymous with illegal sex work…Modernizing their approach is still a work in progress, to say the least…

Because the writer can’t bring herself to question the institution of policing, she buys into the claim that cops are interested in “stopping exploitation”; she imagines that the idea of just leaving people alone instead of persecuting them for private, consensual activities is “opaque” to cops, rather than recognizing “sex trafficking” as a boondoggle intended to disguise the ugly persecution of sexual behavior under a mask of “helping”.  The idea that cops’ behavior needs to be “modernized” is the most asinine of all; what they’re doing now IS the modern approach, by definition, since it’s less than 20 years old.  What we really need is a return to the approach which predominated throughout most of human history: recognizing that sex work is normal and not a government matter, and leaving it the fuck alone.

…Jean Bruggeman, executive director of the national anti-trafficking organization Freedom Network USA [says] “I think in their zeal to help [cops] are doing some very wrongheaded things,” including mass arrests of sex workers and John stings using fake Backpage ads…

More exoneration of cops, pretending their abusive behavior (including surveillance, rape, robbery, brutality, destruction of homes and lives and even driving people to suicide) is motivated by a “zeal to help”.  You know, like terrorists blow up innocent people in their “zeal to help” them get to Heaven.

…In what appears to be a more concerted approach than that of the NYPD, LA Sheriff’s detectives bring an outreach worker with them whenever they approach sex workers…always offering them diversion first, before an arrest is made…”if they flat-out refuse, we book them, and then they’re sent to the appropriate court,” where they are then [forced into] a system of mandatory services…It seems like progressive approach, one most people—even those who think sex work should be legal—might be able to get behind…

Yeah, it’s “progressive” all right, considering that the Progressive movement spawned the concept of Prohibition in the first place.  To pretend that people who want to suppress consensual sex are actually trying to “help” anyone but themselves is disingenuous in the extreme, yet Sharp just can’t see that attacking peaceful people and then forcing them at gunpoint to accept the government’s idea of “help” is evil even if implemented exactly as planned, both in theory and in practice.

…demand reduction…is hotly contested among advocates and experts.  While less explicitly harmful than arresting sex workers, opponents say it does little to rout traffickers, while those who endorse it argue arresting Johns makes sexual exploitation less attractive as a business…

Aaaaaaaand I’m gonna stop right there before I am seized with the urge to disembowel Sharp along with her crappy article.  No, “end demand” isn’t “hotly contested” among anyone who actually gives a shit about human rights, nor is it less harmful than arresting sex workers (indeed, in the US it always includes arresting sex workers despite the rhetoric).  There is no legitimate “debate” over whether people own their own bodies, nor whether they have the right to consensual sex with other adult partners; pretending that there is such a “debate” is nothing more than catering to evil control freaks and sucking the dick of power.  The pretense that cops are some kind of sweet, well-intentioned social justice squad, and that it isn’t their fault the laws are bad, is so incredibly nauseating it boggles the mind.  Stories like this, written by sheltered little girls barely out of their parents’ houses, are vile apologies for evil policies that enable uniformed rapists and soft-peddle operations intended to destroy lives, enable armed robbery of citizens and increase the real “modern slavery”, mass incarceration.

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Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.
We pillage and plunder, we rifle and loot.
Drink up me ‘earties, yo ho.
We kidnap and ravage and don’t give a hoot.
Drink up me ‘earties, yo ho.

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.
We extort and pilfer, we filch and sack.
Drink up me ‘earties, yo ho.
Maraud and embezzle and even highjack.
Drink up me ‘earties, yo ho.
 –  X Atencio

I often struggle to comprehend the incredible ability of the modern mind to not only reconcile cognitive dissonance, but to apparently function without even being aware of its existence.  Last week we had to endure the false “controversy” over Disney’s announcement that it was making changes in the animatronic figures featured in the 1960s-era Pirates of the Caribbean ride.  The story was covered in a number of places, but the writer from The Mary Sue made it easiest to zero in on the point I wish to make, so here she is:

Starting next year, Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride will no longer include the iconic Auction scene as we know it, in which animatronic “wenches” are sold as potential brides.  The pirates in the scene chant “we want the redhead,” but that redhead will now be reimagined as a pirate herself.  In a statement…Senior VP of Imagineering Kathy Mangum said, “We believe the time is right to turn the page to a new story in this scene, consistent with the humorous, adventurous spirit of the attraction.”  I took regular vacations to Disneyland growing up and absolutely loved the Pirates ride.  Yet I do remember, even as a child, finding something off about this scene.  I never tried to articulate it, and didn’t yet know terms like sex trafficking, but I did know that these women for sale weren’t in keeping with that “humorous, adventurous spirit” that permeates the rest of the ride…

So Vivian Kane, like so many puffed-up prudes, imagines she can project her adult feelings back into her child self, pretending that she “knew” there was something about the slave auction scene that “wasn’t in keeping” with the other activities of pirates.  Which other piratical activities, pray tell, is slave-taking “not in keeping” with, Vivian?  Robbery?  Kidnapping?  Arson?  Extortion?  Torture?  Murder?  I mean, it’s not like the famous song heard throughout the ride doesn’t list them.  In order: “We pillage, plunder, rifle, loot, kidnap, ravage, extort, pilfer, filch, sack, maraud, embezzle, hijack, kindle, char, enflame & ignite.”  Most of these are synonyms for “steal”, the last few connote arson, and though murder is basically cheated of a direct reference, it’s present as the warning “Dead men tell no tales” (intoned earlier in the spookier part of the ride).  But “kidnap and ravage” in the first verse there is pretty clear; it’s a nicer way of saying “abduct and rape”.  Because despite the weird 21st -century idea that pirates are somehow humorous, whimsical characters with ridiculous vocal mannerisms, they are actually (note the tense; they’re not mere historical figures) violent criminals, hijackers and robbers at sea with little compunction against mayhem, torture, murder and yes, rape.  But while nobody has yet managed to sell the idea of a humorous ride centering around terrorists, a kids’ movie series about carjackers or a “Talk Like a Rapist Day”, somehow pirates (bizarrely conceived as forever locked in the late 17th century) have been stripped of basically all of their realities (except maybe the ships) and re-imagined as lovable seafaring clowns led by strangely gender-and-sexual-orientation-ambiguous performance artists with highly idiosyncratic fashion senses.

Now, I’m not arguing against black humor; I’m actually a fan of it, and plays like Arsenic and Old Lace are among my favorites.  I see absolutely no problem with using very nasty subjects such as theft, murder, insanity, war, tyranny and yes, even rape and slavery, in entertainment (even humorous entertainment), provided it’s done competently (“dead hooker” jokes are badly overused & I’ve never seen one act as anything but a cheap laugh).  And the historically-illiterate man-children who have a problem with the existence of female pirates can sit and spin; here are two articles to start the rotation.  My problem is the neo-Victorian pretense that rape (and by extension, sexual slavery) is one topic that is absolutely off-limits, even when depicting fictional characters who joyfully commit every other crime of violence imaginable, including murder and torture!  Another example of the same asininity is provided by “feminists” who moan lugubriously about the lyrics of the Rolling Stones songs “Under My Thumb” and “Brown Sugar”, while failing to notice that the narrator of “Sympathy for the Devil” is boasting about having caused murder, war and genocide (because clearly, sexual exploitation of one single woman is much worse than the Holocaust).  This is the old “fate worse than death” argument writ large across the face of our whole decaying culture; it’s worse than ridiculous, it’s completely deranged.  If murder, piracy and the sack of whole cities are fit subjects for a “humorous, adventurous” amusement-park dark ride, so is “sex trafficking”; and if Disney’s going to start removing all subjects of moral panic from its properties, I’d like to see how it’s going to replace all of those witches.

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I’m a member of a site from which people can purchase videos and pictures of women, and after a friendly messaging conversation I asked her for a series of pics.  We agreed on a price for a set number of pics and general outline of them; in the detailed description I provided with the money, I asked for her to smile because I loathe the frowny model face and the “open mouth, vacant stare” model face that seems fashionable in glamour photography.  She replied telling me that asking for a woman to smile is sexist.  Now, I get that if I was passing her on the street it might be sexist, but on a site that exists explicitly for the sale of sexually titillating content, this seems ridiculous.  Am I wrong? 

She’s full of shit and has been reading too much feminism.  This isn’t the street, and you’re not demanding uncompensated emotional labor from a stranger; you are a client ordering a custom product from a vendor, and that vendor specifically asked you to describe the product you want.  So when you do so, she tells you you’re “sexist”?  Is it “sexist” for a client who’s a lingerie fan to request I wear stockings to a date he’s paying me for, or for a diner to tell his waitress how he wants his steak cooked?  The very idea is idiotic.  My advice is that you tell her that her pointing out your sexism has caused you to rethink the situation, realizing that for a man to buy sexy pictures from a woman is not only “sexist” but also “objectification”, and you don’t want to participate in that.  Then cancel the deal with this airhead who doesn’t understand that sex work is work, and find an actual professional who understands professional behavior and will respond to a polite and reasonable request that’s outside her boundaries with a polite “sorry, I don’t do that” rather than with a hypocritical and absurd attack on your character.  The online sex market is full of unprofessional ninnies who make it harder for the pros, and you’re not doing anybody any favors by rewarding that kind of unprofessionalism with your money.

(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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You can…Google me naked and get a lot of applicable results, which is not something most people can say.  –  “Sixth Anniversary

Seven years, and I don’t even have the fabled itch yet!  Doing a blog in my own peculiar way, with its rigid scheduling and content requirements, really is something like a marriage; but like a good marriage, it’s a labor of love.  And it is a good marriage; I take care of The Honest Courtesan, feeding her and grooming her and getting her lovely ornaments to adorn her, and I make sure she gets plenty of attention from readers (over 2500 posts, nearly 100 pages and over 48,000 comment; nearly 2000 subscribers and almost 14,000 Twitter followers; and nearly 6 million page views from all over the world).  In return, she has made me a minor celebrity, extremely well-known in the demimonde and libertarian circles, and even occasionally recognized in public; she helps me to get work and has made my writing much more than the exercise in vanity it was seven years ago.  I have published two books (with more to come), have written many articles and been interviewed too many times to count, and I’m even widely considered a sex symbol now, which is still very difficult for my chubby, homely 13-year-old self to believe.  There will be a documentary about me released sometime next year, and at the end of this week I’ll be visiting Europe for the first time (something which would’ve been basically impossible two years ago).  And all because just over seven years ago, I enjoyed an online friend’s blog post about Wonder Woman and asked how I could set up a blog myself.  In some ways, seven years ago seems like yesterday, and in some ways it feels like forever; there’s no guarantee I’ll still be around in another seven years, because there are no guarantees in life.  But as of right now, I  plan to keep this blog/creatrix relationship going for as long as my brain and fingers allow me to do so.

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On Monday evening I sent out this tweet, quoting an article someone else had tweeted (CAUTION: loud & obnoxious autoplay video):
People who follow me are mostly used to my hyperbole, but I reckon I touched a nerve because a couple of male internet friends took exception, asking whether I was passing judgment on women who have sex with men because they like them, and questioning whether I thought there was anything wrong with doing things for free that one could charge for, out of principle or affection, such as pro bono legal work or favors for friends.  I think my answer deserves a little expansion, and presentation in a more permanent medium than Twitter.

Like most people, I also do things for others I care about or whom I think it’s right to do things for, without asking for direct monetary compensation; however, I don’t deceive myself that those things aren’t labor.  I sometimes do have sex with men without cash changing hands, but those guys (or their wives or girlfriends) pay me in other ways; currency is not the only form of payment.  The problem isn’t when sexual labor is uncompensated by money, it’s when women buy into the male lie that sexual labor isn’t labor at all, because “mutuality”.  Oh, please.  I cook for people I love; I give them rides all over the place; I help them do manual labor; I wait on them when they’re sick.  And nobody pretends those things aren’t work just because I’m doing them for people I care about; that’s why we have expressions like “labor of love”.  But suddenly, when the work is sexual, everybody wants women to buy into the lie of “mutuality” even though I can sell my sexual labor & few men can; because so many men are willing to stick their dicks into anything warm (alive or not), dick is abundant and of low value.  It is not in any way an equal or fair trade for pussy, no matter what many men like to believe.  Expressed in economic terms, my sexual labor has value & his does not (except to other men); it’s a simple case of supply & demand.  So I’ll give sex for “free” (where that means “no direct cash exchange”) if and only if the recipient (note that word, which designates the one who receives a thing of value) recognizes that what I give him is a gift, a precious thing of high value that I choose to bestow upon him for some reason of my own, and not a thing he’s “owed” or, even worse, a thing that his own low-value participation constitutes “payment in kind” for.  In the case of a physical gift like jewelry, or a gift of labor like cooking a meal or helping a friend with some task, the recipient recognizes that the gift so conferred has value and expresses gratitude (unless he’s a semi-savage without proper manners).  But in the case of sex, men want to pretend that what was given wasn’t a gift but a “mutual experience”, and a woman who disagrees and demands recognition of her value is stigmatized & punished with insults, the threat or infliction of violence and, in barbaric regimes like the United States, organized state persecution, police violence and ostracism.  If that last weren’t true, this would be an academic discussion; however, it is true, and the recognition of the value of female sexual labor is not a mere intellectual exercise, but rather a matter of life and death for millions of women all over the world.

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Though I no longer use different stage names (in fact, virtually nobody except the government uses my legal name any more), I still have different email addresses and different websites for my activism and my sex work.  This blog and this email address are for my blogging and activism, while my escort site (Google my name & “Seattle escort” to find it) and this email address are for hiring my professional services as an escort.  And if you approach me through Twitter I’ll probably point you to whichever of those seems more appropriate.

Now, I don’t mind getting inquiries about my professional services through my activism address (though I will probably switch the correspondence to the other address when I realize what you want); the activism address is a lot better known and some people who want to hire me don’t know where to find the other one, so it’s all good.  However, I find myself rather annoyed when I answer an email to my escort address and find something blog-related.  Anyone with the most rudimentary understanding of human psychology, and/or a few months of following my writing, should understand why:  when I see an email come in through that account, I naturally expect it means potential income, and that pleases me on both a practical and a sexual level (because money turns me on).  So how do you think I feel when I find no money is being offered?  Exactly.  And I don’t like feeling that way about communications from my readers, so please don’t do that.  The other day, some chowderhead made an even worse faux pas; he actually used my escort site booking form to request an (uncompensated) interview.  Given that the fraction of booking-form emails which actually turn into paid bills is quite high, I was even more annoyed at this false alert than I would’ve been from a simple email to the wrong address, and when he told me that he used the booking form on purpose because he figured it would get my attention better…well, let’s just say my response was somewhere between “cross” and “I have a good mind to tell you to fuck off”.

But even this irritation is not as powerful as the seriously-pissed-off feeling of opening my escort email to find someone trying to extract money from me by hawking some product or service.  Here’s a word of advice on that: Don’t.  As in, don’t ever do that.  If you want to interest me in your whatever-it-is, send an email offering me a free trial or sample or whatever, and if it sounds good I’ll let you send it to me (with no guarantee I’ll buy it or even like it).  But a straight-up sales pitch or begging letter with not even the pretense of a gift or offer?  Forget it.  And if you’re dumb and rude enough to do that, expect me to immediately install a new filter so future emails from you go straight to the trash.

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I’m over 70 and no longer able to get an erection even with the meds available.  I’m in good shape, not bad looking and can afford it, but am reluctant to engage a girl.  What do you think?

One thing that I (and nearly nearly every sex worker I talk to) wish men understood is that we really don’t care about most of the things men think women care about, and that includes most of the things some amateur women do care about.  We really don’t care about clients’ looks, age, relative levels of physical fitness, penis size, ability to perform tricks they saw in porn movies or anything like that; what we do care about is that our clients are polite, generous, clean, respectful, prompt, appreciative, gentlemanly and realistic about their expectations.  What I mean by that last is, it’s not a problem if a gentleman is unable to get an erection, understands that, and asks for activities that don’t require one (of which there are many); the problem only arises (no pun intended) if he believes a whore can perform the sexual equivalent of a resurrection, and gets angry at her if she can’t.  In my career I’ve had plenty of men, including many younger than yourself, who were suffering from temporary or permanent erectile dysfunction, and as long as they understood and accepted that we were still able to have a good time cuddling, kissing, playing with toys, engaging in kink and other such activities that don’t involve erections.  But when such a man expected some kind of high-level sexual witchcraft beyond even my considerable skills, it rarely turned out well.  My advice to you, then, is to find a mature lady whose company you think you’ll enjoy regardless of what happens in the bedroom; go into the date knowing your limitations and clearly communicate those limitations to her; and enjoy the journey rather than being hell-bent on reaching some kind of destination to which there may no longer exist a bridge.

(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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