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Archive for the ‘Perception’ Category

As anyone who knows me well can tell you, I’m a very affectionate person.  I touch a great deal, I like to hold hands when I walk with a partner or friend, and people I love are likely to hear me tell them so at least once every time I see them (and most of the times I text with them).  I don’t form romantic partnerships easily, and when I do they tend to be long-lasting (and devastating to me when they end); while they endure I enjoy spending time with my partner and having special things we do together, even to the point of having pet names and private jokes and all that good stuff.  I’m telling you all this so that you understand that I’m not actually biased against love or romance when I say that in the West in general and the US in particular, the “couple” has become a cultic totem second only to “The Children!” in repulsiveness and maladaptation.

Now, I’ve been part of couples for a large fraction of my adult life, and probably so have most of you reading this.  But in all that time, I have never tolerated a partner who attempted to own me, control me, or monopolize my time.  Jack’s childish jealousy was one of the reasons we fought so much and broke up so often, and even as a young adult I was never very sympathetic to girlfriends who whined that their boyfriends had interests other than them and didn’t want to spend every fucking free minute with them.  I’ve always disliked Valentine’s Day, and one of the reasons my relationship with Matt endured for 14 years was that he traveled a great deal and had interests other than me.  So when I saw these creepy things in a tweet recently, they reminded me of the hallucinations Greg Kihn’s character has when looking at the wedding guests in this video:

Sorry, couples; you’re not actually “one flesh” with a conjoined circulatory system, and it won’t hurt you to sit separately for the length of a domestic flight:

Alaska Airlines faces a public-relations storm after a gay couple were forced to give up their seats on a flight from New York City to Los Angeles…to make room for a straight couple.  Though the complainant …accepted an apology from Alaska, which said the outcome was a mistake [due to the gate agent’s being given incorrect information] and not reflective of any disrespect, dissemination of the incident on social media has damaged the airline’s image…as…gay-friendly…David Cooley, owner of a popular upscale gay bar in…West Hollywood…[was] on board [with his partner] in their assigned premium seats when a gate agent asked his companion to give up his seat and move to [steerage] so that another couple could sit together.  Although Cooley…protested that the two men were also a couple and wanted to sit together…the agent insisted that his traveling companion had to either move to coach or get off the plane…

NOBODY, single or coupled, queer or straight or asexual, should be forced to move from their seat so a “couple” can sit together.  What the fuck is that about, really?  “Hi, you need to move because these two people like to shove their body parts into each other’s orifices.”  Really?  Wanna sit together?  Plan ahead & get reserved seats; done.  And if you have those seats, as Cooley and his partner did, you shouldn’t be forced to move for those who didn’t (and certainly not moved from First Class back into the cattle car).  I’ve been separated from partners on planes because of circumstances (standby flying, last-minute plans, poor planning on our part or whatever) before and we lived.  But then, we weren’t the devotees of a weird religion which teaches that we somehow deserve precedence over other people because we habitually boink each other.

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I am a mid level ($250/hr) escort in a large US city and have been in the business for a dozen or more years, and I’ve never seen so many clients assume they can have sex without a condom.  It used to be if they even asked for bareback I wouldn’t even see them; now that request is more than half the people I speak with, and a good percentage think they can just hop on bareback without even asking.  Is it because I am older?  One guy said he assumed I would be OK with it because I can’t get pregnant (which isn’t even correct).  Haven’t these idiots heard of STIs?  Also, what is the definition of GFE?  A good portion of men now seem think it means BBFS.  That has never been my definition of those letters.

It’s not because you’re older; it’s because of the government’s war on us.  The increase in stings and persecution of clients has made some guys either stop seeing escorts for a while, or stick with girls they already know and trust, or turn to higher-priced girls with a bigger web presence.  That means a lot of the semi-pros and low-priced full-timers don’t get the business they did only a few years ago, and some of them have (understandably) become more desperate because of that.  Some are lowering prices, others are relaxing screening, and some are doing bareback to catch the foolish guys others are turning away.  Also, with the demise of Backpage, a lot of the budget providers who advertised there don’t know where to turn & can’t afford more expensive ad sites like Eros or Slixa; a lot of the guys who were able to find “anything goes” semi-pros on Backpage are also flooding into other ad sites & they don’t know the rules.  So the whole market is in chaos, and mid-range providers like you are forced to deal with stupid yo-yos who think “STI” is a government agency.

I’ve been in the business since the ‘90s, and I can state categorically that GFE does not and never has meant “bareback”; it has always meant a style that’s more relaxed & friendly, with conversation, kissing & cuddling.  In fact, I remember arguing on hooker boards around 2010 with guys who were trying to claim it meant some checklist of activities (which it doesn’t & never has), but even then everyone understood it did not mean bareback.  I’m not sure where the idea that it does came from, but this is the second time recently I’ve heard this; the other was on Twitter, where someone quoted from an idiot cop’s claim to a court that GFE and PSE both mean “bareback”.  My only guess is that over the past decade some group of really dumb hobbyists, probably on a “bros before hos” site like TER, intentionally decided to try to shift the meaning of GFE (because they’re stupid and think with the wrong head), and now that their site has been shut down due to FOSTA they’re spilling out into the general community and can only be stopped from their filthy habits by scrupulous professionals like us. 

(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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It never surprises me when some new expression like “big dick energy” surfaces, because men all over the world are obsessed with their penises and wont to ascribe magical powers to them.  And I don’t just mean stupid, brutish men either; even reasonably intelligent, sophisticated men seem to believe deep down that their phalluses are mighty weapons which contain their “manhood” and have the ability to damage women’s bodies and destroy our souls.  And because the great majority of men believe in this idiocy, it’s unsurprising that many women do as well.

Take the myth that a lot of sex causes vaginal looseness, for example; barely a month passes that some lackwit advertises his deep insecurity online with a post or tweet claiming that whores, sluts and other “loose women” (see that word?) eventually develop extra-roomy vaginas due to frequent sex.  Of course, this is completely idiotic; the vaginal walls are made of muscle, and when muscles are exercised they grow stronger, not flabbier.  Furthermore, the dudes who believe in this silly myth seem to imagine that only penetration by different penises can cause this supposed loosening; frequent sex with the same penis causes no such damage, presumably because of some kind of mystical key-like effect.  Well-meaning guys worry that their penises might hurt a woman, and even some MDs who should obviously know better have wasted their valuable time experimenting on sex worker volunteers to develop a therapy to “restore tone” to vaginal muscles.  Well, I hate to break this to y’all, but no matter how big you think your cock is, it’s NOT AS BIG AS A BABY’S HEAD.  It’s not a large amount of sex (with one penis, multiple penises, scads of different penises or even a sex-toy-store’s worth of dildoes) which causes a woman to loosen; it’s complications of childbirth.  And if a woman has never had a baby, the only other thing that can affect tightness of those muscles is learning to relax.  Most virgins aren’t somewhat tighter than experienced women because their muscles aren’t yet “worn out” (which is not a thing); they’re tighter because they’re nervous or scared from all the talk about how much it’s going to hurt, or because they’ve been conditioned that “good girls” don’t do that.  And once they learn to relax they revert to their normal level of tightness.  It’s not due to “stretching” or “overuse”; it’s due to getting over fear of the Dangerous Dick, and if a woman you’re fucking is too loose for you, it’s not because her pussy is too big; it’s because your dick is too small.

If this were the only silly myth about the destructive power of the Almighty Phallus, we could just laugh it off and mock the dudes who absurdly advertise their deep ignorance by attempting to lecture women on Twitter about the havoc wrought on their twats by daring to admit more than one dong in a lifetime.  But there’s a much more dangerous notion, based in the idea that penises ejaculate ectoplasm in addition to semen, and can therefore damage women’s souls:

The dominant cultural narrative is that both men and women can get over just about any personal tragedy – financial ruin, the loss of a limb or a loved one, persecution by governmental authorities, etc – except rape, which if it doesn’t leave a woman a psychological wreck is supposed to at least cast a dark pall over the rest of her life…this [misogynistic] doctrine…portrays the penis as some sort of semi-divine instrument capable of destroying a helpless woman’s entire life at the whim of the man to whom it is attached… this absurd mythology…is so pervasive…that a rape victim who fails to behave according to the approved script may not be believed…

Really, guys; come in out of the Bronze Age.  I understand that y’all get a lot of pleasure from your cocks, and that y’all only have enough blood to run one head at a time.  But the big one gives you the power to understand that however much you may enjoy the little one, it’s just a boneless organ, not a magic sword.

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Many people have used Craigslist to find a “causal encounter”, and some of them got lured into police sting operations.  I’m trying to determine what fraction of the stuff that used to be posted to that section (before Craigslist closed it a few months ago) was real, and what percentage prostitution (as opposed to a real, no strings attached encounter).

All sexual encounters which actually happen are as “real” as one another; being paid for sex does not magically make the ensuing sex imaginary.  Lots of people used Craigslist to advertise seeking or offering sex, and they had a plethora of different motivations; it’s a prohibitionist mentality to pretend that a pragmatic motivation for sex draws a bright, clear line between that sex and other sex.  You seem to want to exploit that imaginary difference to argue that cops stalking and victimizing people for sex in which no currency is directly exchanged is somehow different and worse than them stalking people who make a clear and honest exchange.  I can’t help you with that, and I wouldn’t if I could; the only assistance I can offer is to tell you that most scams only work on those with “larceny in their hearts”, i.e. those trying to get something for nothing.  Men seeking sex would be wise to stop trolling around trying to get it for “free” (the most expensive kind) or cheap, do their research, and deal only with known providers with established reputations.  Furthermore, the idea that sex work can be dependably differentiated from what you call “real sex” is not only wrong philosophically, but also practically; because sex work is only distinguished by its motivation, any procedure intended to ensnare sex workers and/or clients will also ensnare lots of other people.  The only way to ensure that no amateurs are caught up in prostitution stings is to do away with prostitution stings, and the only way to do that is to completely decriminalize all forms of sex work.

(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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Where does the phrase “turning tricks” come from? Is there any connection here to magicians pulling rabbits out of hats, or the proverbial bag of tricks?

Savannah Sly asked me his question on Twitter, and I replied that I think it’s most likely from cards. In card games like rummy, a “trick” is one hand, and to “win the trick” or “turn the trick” is to win that single hand, though not necessarily the whole game.  So I strongly suspect “to turn a trick” is closely related to the general “that did the trick”, meaning “that thing just accomplished what I was trying to do in the moment”.  Turning a “trick” in sex work, getting one gig, is like winning one hand in a very long game of cards.

After I’d given this answer, a reader chimed in with this link wherein a non-whore attempts to trace the origin to the French triquer, due to a slang usage meaning “to fuck in a bestial fashion”.  My sense is that this is a false cognate; it’s not unusual for languages to have words which resemble those in other languages, but have nothing to do with them either etymologically or semantically.  For example, the German word gift means “poison”, but the French poisson means “fish”.  The thread following the original attempt at derivation is quite interesting in that it’s made up of a bunch of men trying to trace the meaning of a word used by women to the client side of the equation, when obviously that’s silly.  I’m often fascinated by amateurs’ attempts to explain the demimonde when they know nothing about it, as exemplified by the one dude who attempts to derive it from 19th century criminal slang by claiming that street whores working with robbers was once “common”; of course it was nothing of the kind, as reflected in the fact that there are a number of historical slang terms for such women to differentiate them from honest whores.  Obviously, even professional lexicographers cannot be certain of the derivation of a word, but given the origin of the term in the US of the early 20th century, I think my hypothesis a much stronger one than either the “French” or “criminal” hypotheses.

(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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It is not possible to support individuals and also call for the abolition of their profession.  –  WAVAW Board

The Sky is Falling!

Even by prohibitionist standards, this is hilariously hysterical:

“Sugar daddy” dating sites such as Seeking Arrangement…are aggressively targeting college students — with free premium memberships for signing up under an .edu email plus plenty of assurances that being a “sugar baby” is safe, empowering and profitable.  But sugar babies typically do not, in fact, have control over these relationships, which often turn dangerous and exploitative, [pearl-clutchers whined]…at a “World Without Exploitation Youth Summit” held in Downtown Brooklyn for high school and college students…“Sugaring” almost always involves a coercive exchange of money for sex, the [pearl-clutchers moaned]…even if the coercion is subtle and regardless of the dating website’s promises of “pampering,” “mentoring” and “networking”…“There’s an expectation that the buyer or the sugar daddy can do whatever he wants, so very often we hear there’s extraordinary violence when the door gets shut,” adds Lauren Hersh, national director of World Without Exploitation, a [prohibitionist] group…

This is your regular reminder that Lauren Hersh is a former prosecutor who was forced to resign in disgrace after she was caught trying to railroad two innocent black men for rape.

Watershed

For those who think I’m wrong about sex worker rights having passed the watershed:

As a [rape crisis centre] we always say that systems and perpetrators of violence need to be held accountable.  This is no different when we have enacted harm ourselves…We have taken actions that have caused harm to sex workers, and it is important that we take responsibility for those actions.  In 2008, we produced a position paper on sex work titled “Stepping out of the Binary”.  The paper framed the sex work industry as inherently violent and oppressive…and…conflated sex work with trafficking and exploitation…Our [excuse] was that we critiqued and challenged the sex work industry as a whole, but would not turn away individual sex workers who wanted to access our services.  This position is inherently flawed.  It is not possible to support individuals and also call for the abolition of their profession…We support sex work.  We support the rights of sex workers.  We believe sex workers should have access to the services they need, when they need them…

Theatrics

Though this subtitle is now used for prohibitionist publicity stunts, the original covered this:

…dozens of female workers in Spain’s Huelva region, most of them Moroccan…reported having been harassed, raped, blackmailed, physically assaulted or insulted by their superiors…

Good News, Bad News (#409)

Australian prohibitionists are just as vile as those in the US & UK:

Prostitution legislation is currently being discussed in the Northern Territory…Prostitution affects everyone because…[the private acts of individual women magically inflict] violence against [other] women…Australia’s acceptance of [civil liberties] is becoming embarrassing internationally, as progressive countries move towards [authoritarian regulation]…of [the bodies and lives of] all women.  When it is acceptable for women to [make their own choices]…every woman is devalued [to the state].  The availability of women’s [sexual services for free] creates a sense of entitlement in too many men which inevitably plays out in their day to day interactions with women…

Only in the warped prohibitionist mind could reducing women to mere parts of a collective entity and demanding government control over people’s private lives be characterized as “human dignity”.

The Face of Trafficking (#646) 

Note that even a horrifying case like this doesn’t look anything like the “sex trafficking” myth as prohibitionists tell it:

One of New Zealand’s most sickening criminal cases, just the third conviction for slave trading in the country’s legal history, can now be revealed.  A mother of a teenage daughter has been jailed for six years and 11 months [for pimp]ing her daughter…some 1000 times over a two-year period…as many as five times a day.  The teen…escaped…in November 2016 and fled to police.  Kasmeer Lata, the teen’s mother, was sentenced…for dealing in slaves and receiving earnings from commercial sexual services from an underage person…

While I usually edit items to point out the truth in authoritarian propaganda, in this case I did so to eliminate the lurid language the reporter used to exploit this young woman’s ordeal for clickbait.  Because yellow journalists are just as awful in New Zealand as anywhere else.

Elephant in the Parlor (#828) 

Just in case you forgot about the other sex workers Trump paid off:

…investigators discovered recordings made by Michael Cohen which include a then-candid Donald Trump talking about a payment to…former Playboy model…Karen McDougal [who] previously claimed that she had an affair with Mr. Trump…

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic (#833) 

All the disclaimers won’t stop charlatans from pretending this is their imaginary “sex addiction”:

The World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases (ICD) list…filed “compulsive sexual behavior disorder” — often [incorrectly] referred to as sex addiction — as an impulse-control disorder…WHO’s new list will not take effect until Jan. 1, 2022, as revisions still need to be made…clinicians…fear that recognizing compulsive sexual behavior disorder would pathologize normal sexual behavior, [said] Dr. Stefanie Carnes…“One of the things WHO did…is say specifically, ‘You can’t make the diagnosis of the compulsive disorder just due to shame or moralistic thoughts and feelings’”…In other words, a diagnosis cannot be made for someone with conservative religious views who frequents pornography sites a few times a month and thus believes that is a problem…the…proposed inclusion characterizes the disorder as “a persistent pattern of failure to control intense, repetitive sexual impulses or urges, resulting in repetitive sexual behavior over an extended period (e.g., six months or more) that causes marked distress or impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning.”  Carnes…[said] “I have patients who…spend $300,000 on a prostitute”…

Say, Dr. Carnes, would you introduce me to these guys? I’ll take good care of them, I promise.

All-Purpose Excuse (#834)

I hope this finger-pointing keeps up until the hysteria implodes:

…the Trafficking in Persons Report directly references the vulnerability of migrants and children to trafficking without mention of recent U.S. policies that increased family separation and detention.  This dissonance is not new [to this administration], although recent events have been particularly egregious.  Since his inauguration, President Trump has espoused strikingly different — and dramatically inconsistent — approaches to immigration and human trafficking…Despite the administration’s [typical] rhetoric about protecting survivors of trafficking, the brutal fact is that indiscriminate targeting of undocumented immigrants…has sown chaos and fear in immigrant communities.  This makes survivors much less likely to cooperate with [pigs], and more likely to be targeted as victims…on June 28, 2018, USCIS issued a new policy memorandum specifying that any survivor who applies for T visas — and is denied — will be placed in deportation proceedings…

Trumpists: “YOU’RE helping ‘human traffickers’!”
Anti-Trumpists:  “No, YOU’RE helping ‘human traffickers’!”
Me: “LOL, please continue.”

The Real World

Despite some highly exaggerated claims about the prevalence of serious mental illness among sex workers, this article recognizes criminalization as a major cause of stress:

Sex workers already operate at the social and economic margins.  SESTA-FOSTA makes it increasingly difficult for them to advertise and screen clients safely, deeply cutting into their incomes and threatening their livelihoods…The conflation of consensual sex work with trafficking, abuse, moral decrepitude, and shame is as pervasive as is it is lacking nuance…Mental health providers must wade through social discourse thick with misinformation to be effective allies to sex workers in their practice.  Scholars and practitioners alike propose harmful and stigmatizing models of understanding sex work…Although sensationalist media outlets frequently use sex trafficking as a boogeyman to encourage tougher policing of sex work, research from New Zealand, Australia, and Spain shows that decriminalizing sex work has made the industry safer…In the wake of SESTA-FOSTA, sex workers are scared that they won’t be able to provide for themselves and their families…

Pyrrhic Victory (#851) 

Hey, Seattle!  Get your kids into the facial recognition database before they even hit puberty, and help the government to analyze how people’s faces change with time, so nobody can EVER escape surveillance!

RealNetworks, the Seattle company best known for pioneering streaming media…will offer a new facial recognition technology, called SAFR, for free to K-12 schools to help upgrade their on-site [surveillance] systems.  SAFR can be used with the same cameras that traditional surveillance systems to recognize students, staff, and people visiting schools…in addition to security, the tool can also help with [normalization of constant surveillance] and [the school-to-prison pipeline]…

Disaster (#852)

Woodhull, et al’s request for a preliminary injunction vs FOSTA is a thing of beauty, and even if you don’t really understand legalese you should read it, because most of it is in plain English and its arguments are solid.  Reading it for yourself is the only way you can fully grasp what a crock of shit the judge’s inaction was:

A federal judge on Thursday tabled a motion brought by the Woodhull Freedom Foundation and four other plaintiffs, who are suing to stop the government from enforcing…FOSTA…Judge Richard Leon…made no ruling on Woodhull’s request for a preliminary injunction that would stop the law from remaining in effect until the group’s lawsuit…is decided. Nor did he announce a date when he would issue a ruling.  According to one account from inside the courtroon, Leon “sounded skeptical” that the law had actually caused harm to the plaintiffs in the case…

Basically, the judge wants time to try to think of the proper legal wording for “Yes, I know this law is blatantly unconstitutional, but I’m not gonna be the one to issue an injunction on it because whores”.

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As so often happens, partisans got outraged last week over something they’ve never given a shit about until they thought it gave them some political advantage:

…Adult film star and locus of national scandal Stormy Daniels was arrested [on July 11th] at Sirens, a strip club in Columbus, Ohio.  The stop was part of a tour Daniels is taking across the country…Attorney Michael Avenatti, who is representing Daniels in her lawsuit against Donald Trump, tweeted…that Daniels was arrested while “performing the same act she has performed across the nation at nearly a hundred strip clubs.  This was a setup & politically motivated….They are devoting law enforcement resources to sting operations for this?  There has to be higher priorities!”  Higher priorities for local cops than getting to take in naked ladies for a few hours and then assert their authority over the most famous of them?  Avenatti can’t be that naive…

The charges were dropped the next day due to a loophole excluding featured performers, but the two other dancers arrested with her are not so fortunate; Stormy donated all her tips from the next night to their legal defense.  Naturally, sex workers and supporters of free speech were irate:

…almost any law aimed at free expression can be used to punish a political opponent.  These regulations—typically known as “no touch” or “proximity” rules—are common, and throughout their history they have been used to make end-runs around the First Amendment…erotic dancing is a form of expression protected by the Bill of Rights…so…those who wanted to restrict strip shows were forced to get more creative…Enter the “adverse secondary effects” doctrine…in which the Supreme Court said that the government can’t restrict adult businesses because the government doesn’t like the expression therein—but it can restrict them, using zoning regulations, because of harmful effects the businesses may cause…in reality, these secondary effects rarely actually exist outside of the imaginations of those who want to regulate the businesses…There are a number of dances that require proximity—and not just lap dances:  Think of a hula dance in which the dancer places a lei around the spectator’s neck.  Unfortunately, courts have been hostile to this notion, and almost universally uphold proximity and no-touch rules…Daniels was arrested under one of these laws after an extensive sting operation.  Why did the State of Ohio devote a team of police officers and hours of taxpayer-funded overtime to an investigation, raid, and arrest of a woman for the grave crime of touching another person while semi-nude?…When you give law enforcement a tool that can be used to target someone who has unpopular views, they will use it.  So, not only was the expression demonstrated by the nude dancing suppressed, but the tool of suppression may have been used to punish someone for their political activism…

Democrats have always joined Republicans in enthusiastic support for anti-sex worker laws since such laws first started popping up in the late 19th century, and half of the blame for “sex trafficking” hysteria and the horrible laws it has enabled is scattered all over the Dems’ front lawn like overturned garbage cans.  But now that their chief political enemy has a long history of interaction with sex workers, their opinion of us changes with every news cycle.  When it was revealed that Trump’s wife has a history of sex work, his enemies happily used that as an attack.  But when the Stormy Daniels scandal broke, suddenly we became heroes and the anti-whore laws magically become the fault of “conservatives”, while the “progressive” rhetoric which has been used to push them for this entire century so far is swept under the rug.  So though Susan Shepard’s article on the incident does mention the feminist “exploitation” argument (and contains an excellent survey of “pole taxes” and other anti-stripping laws, many authored by Christian hit-shyster Scott Bergthold), her editor at NBC chose to lay the blame solely on “evangelicals” and to call attention to Shepard’s rather tone-deaf and divisive statement that “club owners and customers generally skate by with a slap on the wrist or a ticket…It’s a double standard that unfairly punishes working women while leaving those who purchase and profit from their work unscathed.”  I’m rather annoyed to see this strongly Swedish-scented assertion from Shepard, a former stripper who co-founded Tits and Sass, but I guess one has to cater to one’s audience, and her audience for this article is composed of holier-than-thou “progressives” now looking for ways to pretend they aren’t anti-whore by blaming everything on holier-than-thou “conservatives”, and, naturally, those nasty old clients who provide sex workers’ income.

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