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Archive for the ‘Perception’ Category

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.  –  Mahatma Gandhi

NY Times magazine cover 5-8-16One of the points I cover in every basic presentation I give on sex worker rights is that criminalization is a very recent idea.  Invariably, most of the audience is surprised; having been reared in a culture soaked in anti-whore propaganda, they take it for granted that “naturally” we’ve always been persecuted, because victimization and “pimps” and disease and THE CHILDREN!  But of course, this is nonsense; though many cultures have come up with laws intended to restrict or “regulate” whoring, the idea that it was an evil which needed to be eradicated by state violence is a 19th-century one, rooted in racism and “progressive” Victorian thought about “correcting” the human race by using law to enforce a Puritanical agenda.  Prohibition of sex work sprang from the same filthy, poisonous soil as did eugenics, anti-masturbation torture devices and the prohibition of alcohol and drugs.  But while the former two ideas are widely recognized as dangerous nonsense and the latter is slowly dying, the use of armed thugs to commit pogroms against peaceful adults because authoritarians don’t like their reasons for having sex is still going strong.  That, however, cannot endure indefinitely; the internet has made it impossible to silence the voices of sex workers any longer, and study after study has concluded that we are correct when we say that criminalization is an evil which harms not only whores and our clients, but our families, friends and associates.

Furthermore, as we should have learned from the obscenity of alcohol Prohibition, the only way to stop adults from engaging in consensual behavior is to empower the cops to spy on people, violate their civil rights and destroy their lives.  Not that this actually stops the prohibited behaviors, mind you; no campaign of prohibition in history has ever worked.  But prohibitionist laws allow the state to terrorize the population and “send a message” that free thought is forbidden, and that the almighty State is the arbiter of right and wrong.  As should be obvious from the glacially-slow process of stopping the Drug War that every decent person in the world recognizes as an abject failure, modern fascist states like the US are heavily invested in the violent enforcement of arbitrary bans on peaceful, consensual behaviors.  Cronies have become fabulously wealthy via deals with prohibitionist governments, the machinery of the police state needs bodies to be fed into it, and those whose power derives from mindless obedience to nonsensical rules are not about to let go of such power without a fight.

But if history teaches us anything, it’s that respect for individual human rights is increasing; the majority of people no longer feel morally comfortable with the subjugation of minorities and the violent suppression of private behavior.  That’s why over a decade ago prohibitionists changed over to the “sex trafficking” paradigm, and why their rhetoric largely consists of the repetition of tragedy porn and the assertion of the ridiculous idea that every sex worker who speaks in public is lying, and that there is some invisible multitude of “victims” out there who will be magically helped by taking away their income and subjugating them to the control of gangs of violent rapists.  The problem with this sort of strategy is that it can’t be sustained forever; moral panics die, and the scales fall from people’s eyes, and both individuals and institutions wake up to the truth.  A few years ago the wind started to shift in favor of sex workers’ rights again; many more individuals began to question criminalization, and then last year we passed the watershed moment when Amnesty International officially espoused decriminalization as a policy, and the federal government’s ill-considered raid on Rentboy brought Gay, Inc grudgingly over to our side.  Make no mistake, the prohibitionists are terrified; they feel their grip on the narrative slipping, and they know they will lose it just as they lost other fights against the principles of self-ownership and sexual self-determination.  If you read some of the prohibitionist reaction to last week’s New York Times Magazine piece, you can practically smell that fear.  They’re losing, and they know it.  They’re going to double down on their efforts, and the number of pogroms will increase in order to “teach us our place”.  And that just means we need to hold the course all the more.

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You can only really help people if you respect them.  –  Emily Bazelon

Broken Record pizza girl

Canadian prohibitionists are desperate to cash in before the panic implodes:

…Ernie Allen…[helped to write] a new [wanking fantasy] study…The study refers to increased prostitution, some of it involving minors, during the annual Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal…“During (the Grand Prix) weekend, many adolescent girls run away from youth centres…because their traffickers need them to cater to tourist demand,” the study [fantasizes]…many of the girls are threatened, beaten up and enslaved…Atlanta and Las Vegas are also highlighted in the report.  “These are hub cities, magnet cities where people go for sporting events, for conventions, for trade shows…These are people who travel to a location for another purpose and while there encounter a situation where there’s an opportunity to have sex with a child and they do it…The purchaser doesn’t have to go to a city street. He can shop online for a child for sex from the safety of his home or hotel room”…

I’m disappointed that Ernie didn’t compare these “slave children” to pizza.

Bogeymen

Because women are passive dolls without volition who never make any decision without male coercion:

A New Port Richey [Florida] man is accused of being at the center of a human trafficking ring and targeting some of the most vulnerable women…Clent Ruffin…was already in jail on major drug charges…Melanie Snow, a spokesperson for the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office [claimed] Ruffin would target women in strip clubs…and convince them to come back to his house…then get them hooked on drugs, like heroin, and force them to do sexual favors for his customers…

Obviously, women never decide to take drugs on our own; there’s always some Svengali with magical pimp mind-control powers “getting then hooked”.

Worse Than I Thought

Missouri wants to define escort ads as “sex trafficking”:

The Missouri legislature has passed…a…bill [which] would add advertising sex with trafficking victims to the state’s definition of the crime of trafficking.  Trafficking is a felony punishable by 5 to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or 10-years in prison or life, depending on the age of the victim…

Bottleneck

Susan Shepard of Tits and Sass compares the persecution of ridesharing companies to the absurdity of stripper licensing:

…Stripper licensing [in Texas] is, like cab licensing, done on a city or county basis.  There isn’t yet any state-level licensing, although…representative Bill Zedler proposed one in 2013 that would have required strippers to take a training course on human trafficking, and in 2015 a Pennsylvania proposal to create a statewide stripper registry stalled out.  In both cases, the legislators were fairly transparent that they wanted to use the proposed licenses as disincentives…Like most laws around the industry, what is touted as protecting women and children is actually about controlling women’s movements and policing nonwhites.  The licensing process in most jurisdictions only looks for drug- and prostitution-related charges and convictions…a felony—even a homicide charge—isn’t going to disqualify someone from a stripper license, but a mere arrest on one of the specified charges can be enough to prevent the granting of a license even if the applicant was found not guilty…

So Close and Yet So Far

Protip: If you’re writing an article about “feminist” reasons to support decriminalization, do NOT get your definition of it from a prominent prohibitionist who led a successful re-criminalization campaign: “…decriminalization…essentially ‘eliminates all laws’ regulating sex work, according to Professor Donna Hughes at the University of Rhode Island…”  This is a common prohibitionist lie intended to frighten & confuse law-and-order types and progressives who think people shouldn’t be allowed to blow their own noses without some sort of government regulation.  Decriminalization is the removal of criminal laws intended to control or “regulate” sex work, hence that word “decriminalization”.  Hughes’ statement is exactly as true as the statement, “there are no laws regulating food service”; of course there are, but they’re not criminal laws. This is about the highest level of rhetoric of which prohibitionists are capable, yet the naive and ignorant just keep lapping it up.

Dutch Threat 

The Dutch seem determined to slowly throttle sex work to death:

…The leader of our Christian Party…wants to make it illegal to pay for the services of a sex worker when you should have been able to know she’s a victim of exploitation.  “For example, when she’s working from a cellar somewhere, bruised, with two big Bulgarian guys at the door”…Politicians often paint this picture of the perfect victim…many fall into a semi-pornographic style when describing their fantasies…In the last couple of years, over half of legal working places for prostitutes have been closed.  Brothels are shut down, windows are closed, and no new licences to work are given to anyone…Those who still work from a licenced location are harassed by police, their workplaces broken into, their homes smashed up and their belongings taken.  They are subject to random semi-arrests, where they’re put into police vans and taken to the station for questioning because they’re suspected of being a victim…Many hotels no longer accept escorts or try to keep them out.  Renting an apartment to work from is all but impossible, and working from home means your landlord can kick you out.  So voluntary workers are pushed into basements and sheds and caravans.  Regular security companies will not work with prostitutes…So if you’re working from a shed somewhere and you want some big guys to keep you safe, you’re forced to work with people who will do it.  You know, off the record.  Two big Bulgarian guys, perhaps.  And there you have it: the girl working from a shed with two big guys at the door…

Dysphemisms Galore 

It’s like they’re competing to see who can write the most cop-fellatory article imaginable:

Nothing shocks Sgt. Torrey Kennedy anymore…“We’re going after John’s [sic] and pimps, and calling them what they are — pedophiles and sex offenders,” he says…“Finding sex trafficking in Atlanta is easier than shooting fish in a barrel”…inviting CBS46 on a wild and exclusive ride into the city’s naked underbelly, teeming with predators…Thousands of women in Atlanta are sold for sex every day, including an estimated 200-300 underage girls a month…Kennedy straps on a bullet proof vest, and we head to a shopping center to join his backup; a squad of patrol cars circle a giant dumpster and hatch a plan take out the human trash…

Do As I Say, Not As I Do (#410)

Anyone who is “shocked” by this should probably consider moving to a remote farm without television or internet:

A female garda has allegedly been accused of working as an escort in her spare time…after gardai at a Dublin station allegedly received a tip-off…Gardai are allegedly probing whether the woman in question only started working as a call girl in the last two months.  If the claims are true, she will be facing the sack…A garda representative source also confirmed that they are aware of the shocking claims…

A Procrustean Bed (#502) Portrait of Love by Molly Crabapple (2016)

Molly Crabapple profiles a woman who fought New York’s agency-denying “trafficking courts”:

…Love…had once been a sex worker…but by the time she was arrested on the charge that brought her to the courtroom, she was out of the business and pursuing a degree as a surgical technician.  The problem was, the cops still knew her face, and…figured she was…an easy stat-padding arrest.  They snatched her, threw her in a cell, then charged her with misdemeanor prostitution…Love…demanded a trial…the prosecutor offered no hard proof any crime had been committed.  Instead he had only her prostitution record and an undercover officer’s word…the judge declared her not guilty.  Love wasn’t content just to prove her innocence.  She…hired an attorney to sue the city for false arrest.  The case was settled out of court for $15,000, and, exactly a year after the initial trial, in November 2015, Love had the money in hand…

What Were You All Waiting For? 

Though this editorial is a bit too accepting of “end demand” rhetoric, it’s a good counter to the Seattle Times‘ nauseating bootlicking & pompous prohibitionism:

The title of a powerful feature published in The New York Times Magazine on Sunday posed the question: “Should Prostitution Be a Crime?”  Reporter Emily Bazelon spoke with dozens of sex workers around the world, including several from Seattle, to draw a nuanced portrait of the underground sex economy…Many of Bazelon’s subjects (much like Amnesty International and the Human Rights Watch) want to decriminalize sex work.  She describes the health benefits of removing criminal sanctions from in New Zealand and part of Australia, achieved without any discernible increase in the overall sex trade.  She lists the harms that well-intentioned crusaders have wrought upon their rescue targets.  She details the unholy alliance between the Christian right and…“carceral feminists” to turn the abolition of sold sex into a moral crusade.  She describes an influential abolitionist casually dismissing sex workers’ very capacity for consent. And she raises questions about…the extent to which violence and coercion influence people’s choices about whether to do sex work…

End Demand (#576)

KIRO, you have my phone number; next time call it before printing this kind of ludicrous garbage:

…the Washington Technology Industry Association…has teamed up with [fascist organ] Businesses Ending Slavery & Trafficking to try and eliminate sex trafficking in the tech industry…“It’s predominantly white men exploiting women of color” [lied] Michael Schutzler of the WTIA…Schutzler said 75 percent of sex trafficking transactions happen at about 2 p.m., and 62 percent of prostituted people meet clients on company property…

Since “trafficking” is used to mean “sex work” these days, just let the absurdity of this claim sink in; I can assure you that there is no way anything like even 6% of outcalls are to clients’ offices, and not even restaurants do 75% of their business in such a narrow window. Yet idiots lap up this shit like a dog eating its own vomit.

Checklist (#599)

Why do people just accept these ridiculous made-up numbers?

A new app tracks vulnerable girls in India and Bangladesh so nonprofits can help prevent trafficking and child marriage…Girl Power…has already helped save more than 200 girls from being exploited, NDTV reported.  Community facilitators and teachers are given tablets or Android phones, which have the app installed, and are tasked with registering young girls in 20 villages…

“Maggie McNeill’s providing a sexual outlet to frustrated husbands has already saved over 2000 marriages, Maggie McNeill reported.”  That statement is exactly as credible as the one in the story, and based on exactly the same type of “evidence”.

Under Every Bed (#631)

Spokane guys, please be careful; your local cops are on a fanatical crusade targeting YOU:

…Local law enforcement and federal agents teamed up for what is called, [sic] Operation Cross Country…It is a problem that…unfortunately exists in the Spokane area…FBI leaders said they are currently looking into participating in the operation again in 2016 to help rescue even more victims.  Before the operation in 2015, the FBI brought [pigs] over from Seattle from the Child Exploitation Task Force to [indoctrinate pigs] in the Inland Northwest on the [newest popular anti-whore propaganda]…

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When the day at last comes that we win our right to live and work free from state violence, you will know that you helped that happen.  –  “Luck Has Nothing To Do With It

red umbrellas by daylightToday is Friday the 13th, which as longtime readers know is the day I ask non-sex workers to speak up for us.  Some years have as many as three of these special Fridays, but this is the only one this year; if you need suggestions on what to say, I suggest you consult this column I wrote for the occasion way back in 2012.  And if you do write something, please let me know and I’ll add a link to it below (and tweet it as well).  I do, however, recognize that some people simply can’t stick their heads above the parapet enough to write or speak openly about this, despite the fact that it’s quickly becoming more socially acceptable to do so; if you’re in that position, you can still help by donating money, something sex worker rights organizations are always in need of.  There are such organizations in every country; since I firmly believe that charity begins at home, I urge you to donate to help sex workers in your own land first.  In the US, SWOP can always use help, and I recently called attention to SWOP Behind Bars, which accepts donations of books for incarcerated sex workers.  I don’t understand why she felt the need to adopt such a critical tone, but Melinda Chateauvert published a good list of sex worker organizations in need of all the funding they can get, and Red Light Legal is down to the last few days in its attempt to raise $15,000 to provide legal assistance to sex workers.  Of course, there are plenty of individual sex workers you could assist, such as the heroic Heather Saul, who took out a serial killer who would otherwise have killed many other women.  And if you can’t think of anyone else, you could always send me a little something via PayPal.  It doesn’t so much matter what you do today, as long as you do something to promote sex worker rights; write, speak, donate, spread the word or all of the above.  And I’m going to try to spend as much time as possible retweeting today, so if you write something or have a sex worker fund you want promoted, please mention me on Twitter so I can promote it for you!

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Favor

I’ve been seeing the same sex worker for almost three years now, and I’m in love with her.  She wants us to continue as client and escort, yet she has extended me more trust than seems usual; she told me her real name, has seen me in her own house, and has stopped using protection when we’re together (her idea, not mine).  To me, all this seems to suggest something beyond the client-escort relationship, but I have never seen any other sex workers beside her.  I absolutely respect her decision not to pursue anything more right now, but is it foolish of me to keep hoping?  She is an amazing person and very dear to me.

Before anything else, you ought to read last Thursday’s column, which covers some of the same ground; if you treasure your relationship with this lady, please refrain from indulging yourself in the urge to try to make it something “more” (which in most cases actually means “less”) than it is.  The fact of the matter is that most romantic relationships are of short duration, and only survive by turning into something else.  Relationships in which both people know exactly what to expect from each other, on the other hand, can go on for years.  In your case, it’s pretty clear that you’re a very favored client; it’s not unusual for escorts to see clients in their homes (I do, as do several of my friends), and it’s unusual but by no means unique for favored clients to know a sex worker’s real name (a few of mine do).  However, her eschewing protection with you is highly unusual, and frankly I find it rather alarming; I can’t even imagine what she might be thinking, and she’s putting at least one of you in danger (possibly both).  Beside the danger of STIs (it’s obvious her preventative procedures are less than scrupulous, since she has no idea where you’re sticking your cock when you aren’t with her), there’s the very real danger of pregnancy; how are you going to feel if she tells you that she’s pregnant, doesn’t believe in abortion and you’re on the hook for 18 years or more?  As I said, I can’t imagine what she’s thinking; even if she is “amazing” as you say and harbors no intentional ill-will toward you, that doesn’t mean her judgment isn’t total crap.  To put it in D&D terms, a high charisma is no guarantee of a high wisdom.  Just because she doesn’t mean to harm you or herself, doesn’t mean one or both of you aren’t going to get hurt.  And if you plan to keep barebacking her (which you probably will because you’re male and y’all just can’t seem to grasp how dangerous an activity that is), I’d invest in a vasectomy and at least quarterly STI testing if I were you.

(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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Society creates a massive demand for sex work, then stigmatizes the people who take jobs in the field.  –  Mark Shrayber

Whore Madonnas Finley Fawn

Another woman’s child abducted by the state because of her work:

Finley Fawn…brought eight character witnesses and a mountain of paperwork to her initial custody hearing to prove [that she is not abusive but] courts have sided with her ex-husband in [claiming] that Fawn has allowed her son too much awareness of her job…Fawn…is…a cam model…Before hearing any witnesses, and with only Fawn’s Twitter introduced into evidence, the woman presiding over the case reportedly said that anything more than her ex’s testimony was superfluous.  Before Fawn even had a chance to speak…the judge…made up her mind…getting her child back on the same terms as before — joint custody — would cost more than $100,000…that Fawn doesn’t have…Fawn isn’t alone…Take the case of Tanaha Koontz, whose children were taken away from her and given to her ex despite numerous instances of domestic violence, two arrests, and a kidnapping…

Tanaha is a friend, and wrote one of my first guest columns on this subject.

All in the Family

Some sex workers’ mothers really do love unconditionally:

…My mother emailed me to say she had discovered that I was doing sex work…she…didn’t yell at me, or talk over me, or dictate to me what I should or shouldn’t be doing.  She listened.  She…never told me to quit.  She never told me I had made a bad decision.  She never asked me how I could be a feminist and a sex worker.  She made space for me and my experiences, and she gave me advice or sympathy when I asked.  So I found myself reaching out to her more often, grateful for her analysis and her wit.  Now, I consider her one of my closest friends…

Life Imitates Artifice

Wannabe “pimp” calls radio show & regurgitates popular “pimp” myths, probably while wanking; ignoramuses swallow every particle of the vomit:

…a former pimp talks about his victims and the sex trade…He doesn’t want to share his name, but he will share his [masturbatory fantasy].  He [fantasizes about being] a former pimp.  A sex trafficker who spent nearly a dozen years convincing young women in Massachusetts to sell their bodies and give him the money…He [imagines finding] victims at tanning salons, gyms, bars, and nightclubs…He [fantasizes] that…he had 16 girls working for him…and they’d turn trick after trick…Now, years later [he masturbates] as he thinks about [it]…Parents, he says, hold the key to protecting young girls from men like him.  “Fathers…have to show their daughters that I’m the man you want to find in life. I’m the man you want to marry.”

As our wanker switches from a pimp fantasy to an incest fantasy, fade to black.

Check Your Premises

Cops are so disconnected from reality that they think stalking, raiding and arresting sex workers and their clients will “build a positive relationship” with us:

…Calgary [cops charged]…27 people…[a spokesman vomited that] the goal was to reduce illegal activity and connect with sex trade workers to “build a positive relationship and provide any resources they may need to assist them in leaving the sex trade”…The charges were related to…communicating with any person for the purpose of obtaining sexual services, along with seven summonses for traffic-related offences.  Nineteen warrants for unrelated criminal code charges were also executed…

The Last Shall Be First 

More of this, please:

Public officials of a conservative enclave in Dallas almost unanimously repudiated an anti-transgender “bathroom” ordinance in a local battle that may help turn the corner on the discussion in Texas…Mayor Jim…Pruitt’s measure would have forced transgender individuals to use the bathroom that corresponds with the gender on their birth certificate.  Businesses and individuals who didn’t comply faced fines of up to $500.  Pruitt launched the proposal in response to Target’s…policy of allowing people to use the bathroom and changing facilities they believe is appropriate for them.  But he ultimately couldn’t find a single colleague to second his motion for a vote, despite using all the best scare tactics…

An Example To the West

Leaders from sex-work led organizations came together…in Kampala to pave way for a stronger and sustainable network for all Ugandan…sex workers’ organizations.  The sex work fraternity is one of the fast growing civil rights movement in Uganda…many coalitions have come up but breakdown after a short period of action…this time they are ready to disregard  all the past differences and create a solid network to make sure the sex workers voices are heard out there…

Down Under (#40)

This sounds good until one gets down to the “end demand” poison:

Street-based sex work in St Kilda is here to stay, say local police, and heavy-handed enforcement is of no use to anyone.  In 2012, St Kilda’s constabulary boasted of a plan to drive prostitution off the streets within four years, using a policy of banning notices, patrols and undercover stings.  But street-based sex work, which is illegal in Victoria, endures.  And St Kilda police Senior Sergeant Mark Denton said that wasn’t likely to change…So instead of going after the workers, policing is now focused on the client side.  Police have the power to issue banning notices stopping someone from visiting an area for 72 hours if they have a reasonable suspicious that person was attempting to solicit a sex worker…

Dutch Threat 

A prohibitionist’s notion of “helping” sex workers:

PROUD, the [Dutch] association of sex workers…sent an urgent letter to the Minister of Justice and the Mayor of Amsterdam on a serious matter…the family of [a trafficking] victim was informed of her work in prostitution without her knowledge…[after] explicitly [stating] that her family [should under] no circumstances be informed of her career…she worked voluntarily in prostitution, but was exploited by an employer. The victim is currently considering withdrawing her complaint as a result of these events…This case should be a reason to ask serious questions to the responsible people and services on their methods and motives…

An Example to the West (#316) RedTraSex in Honduras

In the US, we’re barely even tolerated, much less listened to:

Honduran sex workers have offered a proposal for reforming the country’s treatment of their profession that they hope will lead to them “being treated as human beings by police officers, health employees and society in general,” [said] Regina Barahona…of…RedTraSex…The text takes a human rights perspective on sex work, focusing on health, security and justice for those who work in the field…Barahona insisted that much of the violence sex workers currently face comes from police officers, not clients…

Broken Record (#318)

Politicians just can’t stop beating this dead horse:

Kentucky’s attorney general is warning Derby-goers to be proactive in the fight against human trafficking…Andy Beshear [fantasized that]…individuals use large sporting events, such as the Kentucky Derby, to traffic children and adults for sex…Beshear urged Louisville businesses and derby-goers to [spy on customers]…Beshear said signs of possible signs of human trafficking include [all the usual bullshit]…

Bait and Switch

Why bother looking for actual sex-trafficking victims when cops can just pretend to be them and reap the same rewards?

A new sex-trafficking law in Georgia clarifies that undercover cops totally count as minors for purposes of handing out 10-year mandatory minimum prison sentences…House Bill (HB) 770 says that it shall be no defense to charges of sex trafficking of a minor that no such minor actually existed…an undercover cop posing as a pretty 17-year-old girl could friend a young man on Facebook (a tactic cops frequently use in these kind of stings), start chatting with him, and mention that she needs to make money and isn’t averse to porn or prostitution but needs help getting started.  If the mark offers to help in any way, even just offering a ride or an introduction to someone else who could help her, he will be eligible to receive a minimum of 10 years in prison and up to 20 years, plus a $100,000 fine.  Prosecutors can invoke asset forfeiture to take even more from him, and add another “human trafficking” arrest to their press releases…many of the men cops target with these kinds of stings are only in their late teens or early 20s themselves…One 2014 study by the anti-trafficking organization Shared Hope International found that 50-60 percent of police efforts aimed at stopping “child sex trafficking”…involved no actual victims or minors at all…If there are really as many minor sex-trafficking victims out there as advocates, cops, and politicians would have us believe, how can they justify spending half of their time and money pretending to be victims rather than saving them?…

A Procrustean Bed (#600)

Politician’s brains are so tiny and narrow, thy can only conceive of humans existing in two states, like light switches:

The California Senate…passed legislation that would remove mandatory minimum jail sentences for repeat prostitution offenses.  Under current state law, a second conviction guarantees at least 45 days in jail, which increases to a minimum 90-day sentence for a third offense and beyond.  The court can also restrict an individual’s driving privileges for up to six months if the act occurs within 1,000 feet of a private residence…Bill Monning…said the current “tough-on-crime” approach does not deter prostitution and merely discourages victims of human trafficking and those who engage in sex work as a means of survival from participating in diversion and drug treatment programs…It comes amid a renewed interest in human trafficking this legislative session, as lawmakers debate whether prostitutes are criminals or victims…

Crying for Nanny (#623)

How many more such decisions will it take before judges start fining these lawyers for filing nuisance lawsuits?

In a victory for Backpage, a federal appellate court…rejected [soi-disant] sex-trafficking victims’ request to reconsider a decision dismissing their lawsuit…The move leaves in place an earlier ruling, which said the teens could not proceed with their case due to the federal Communications Decency Act.  That law says that companies offering interactive online platforms are immune from liability for activity by their users…

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Diary #306

NY Times magazine cover 5-8-16 Those of you who don’t follow me on Twitter and didn’t see Sunday’s New York Times Magazine may have missed this, so I’ll share it here.  What you’re seeing, my friends, is history being made; the staunchly-prohibitionist Times not only published a good, solid, respectful article on the sex worker rights movement, but also featured portraits of 36 real sex workers on the damned cover.  And not headless stereotypes dressed in garish clothing, fishnets & sky-high heels leaning into car windows at night, either; real people (including male & trans sex workers) of a variety of body types, dressed in normal clothing.  THIS is what prostitutes look like, y’all.  Some of you may recognize some of these faces, and if you don’t there’s a key in that link above (where you’ll also find a slideshow featuring portraits of 24 sex workers, including me).  Endza Adair (top left in white dress) wrote yesterday’s guest column, Kristen DiAngelo (between Mistress Matisse & me) is the writer/producer of American Courtesans, Savannah Sly (second row, far right) is the president of SWOP-USA…and those are just the ones y’all have heard me mention before.  Matisse worked with writer Emily Bazelon since the autumn (and appeared on this radio show with her yesterday), and Savannah organized photo shoots all over the country to create this article; to the Times‘ credit, it invested a lot of time and money in this, and it shows.  The sex worker rights movement is on the rise.  We’re tired of being relegated to the shadows, tired of being spoken over and misrepresented, tired of being treated as criminals, victims, mindless children or a social disease.  The watershed moment is past; though many probably can’t see it yet, all the people who actually think about things instead of believing some scripture without proof now recognize that prohibition in general, and prohibition of private sexual behavior in particular, are evil and destructive to society.  Anti-whore laws will die, and decriminalization will come.  It won’t happen in the next few years; it may not even happen in my lifetime.  But it will happen, and the history books will show 2015-16 as the turning point.  And I’m very proud to have played a small part in it.

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My dear friend Endza is wise beyond her years, as brave as she is beautiful, and far more together than I was at her age (in those long-ago and far-off times of the 1980s, Best Beloved).  You may be interested in following her (NSFW) Twitter feed or reading her “lackadaisically updated” blog, and she appeared with me (and many other sex workers) yesterday on the cover of the New York Times magazine (top row, first on the left).  Oh, and I have a dinner date with her a week from today; eat your hearts out, boys and girls.

I am that annoying girl sitting in the front row of class who knows the answer to every question the professor asks.  I am also that girl who had just finished washing the cum out of my hair before I got to school (I will never understand porn’s obsession with cumming on my face).  For me that is an unremarkable day.  I have no problem with carrying the labels of honor student and porn model; to me, they fit together like two of the many puzzle pieces that make up who I am.  It is the rest of the world that demands these two labels be a contradiction.  When I am at school I am allowed the label of “brilliant”.  I am nerd who adores learning just a little bit too much.  Yet, soon as I speak out in my public persona, as soon as it is mentioned that I am both a sex worker and a student. I become “a whore pretending to be an intellectual”.  Every ounce of my intelligence is degraded by what I choose to do for work; people cannot seem to believe that I can be both intelligent and happy in this world.

Yet, I am very happy with what I do.  I have an amazing job that celebrates my sexuality, facilitates me have amazing sex, and supports me in getting my degree.  Sex and learning, that sounds like the perfect life to me.  It is the stigma that makes these two worlds hard to coexist in.  One day I am in San Francisco surrounded by a whirlwind of makeup artists, costumes, sex, and cameras; the next I am two states away sitting in a classroom, my hair hidden under a hat hoping no one will recognize me.  You see, I have plans, plans that involve a grad school degree in medical neuroscience.  If I was outed it could put all of my academic plans in jeopardy.   Society is constantly trying to take away the autonomy of sex workers; I am fearful that someone may take it upon themselves to decide that just because I enjoy sex, it means I can’t handle a rigorous academic program.

And that is one of the best-case scenarios if I am discovered.  Belle Knox, a lovely porn star who attended Duke University, received death threats when one of her friends let her secret slip; people were so offended by a porn star going to college they felt the need to threaten physical violence.  I can’t even begin to understand the logic behind their threats; don’t sex workers deserve an education just as much as anyone else?  As a result, I take measures to make sure I am not discovered.  I look remarkably different without makeup or curly hair and that’s before I hide under baggy clothing.  I do my best not to make any close friends at school, because I know I will have to lie to each and every one of them.

Now this is the point where most people ask me why I don’t just quit?  Find a job that is less stigmatized and prioritize my academics?  This is because I am stubborn.  Porn is my chosen profession.  I am a consenting, autonomous adult and my right to chose a job will not be taken away from me.  Every time someone tells me I should quit, my resolve grows stronger.  I love my job, and I am good at it.  I refuse to let society’s opinion of my life change my behavior.  I am a 23-year-old honor student who is managing to not only support herself but also follow her academic dreams.  I adore my life.  So here I am.  I am just stubborn enough to stand and defiantly tell the world that it needs to change its opinion because I am not changing anything about my life.

Endza

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