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Archive for the ‘Perception’ Category

Hamlet:  Do you see yonder cloud that’s almost in shape of a camel?
Polonius:  By th’ mass, and ’tis like a camel indeed.
Hamlet:  Methinks it is like a weasel.
Polonius:  It is backed like a weasel.
Hamlet:  Or like a whale.
Polonius:  Very like a whale.

Rorschach_blot_06A fantasy is in many ways like a cloud formation or a Rorschach inkblot; because its form is unmoored to anything concrete, the shape the human mind imposes upon it is determined by the patterns of the mind rather than any external phenomena.  A psychologist can sometimes tell something about the workings of a subject’s mind by the shapes he imagines he sees in inkblots and the stories he tells about those shapes; likewise, it’s possible to tell something about a fabulist’s mind by the content of the fantasies she spins about the lives of people she knows absolutely nothing about.  This recent “sex trafficking” article from Alabama is a fine example; we’ve seen all theses tropes before, but this time let’s think about what they say about a person who either believes them herself or expects everyone else to believe them.

Eliminating Homewood’s prostitution problem isn’t about going after the girls, said Tajuan McCarty–founder of the Birmingham-based anti-trafficking organization The Wellhouse–it’s about going after the pimps and Johns…

The first thing we can tell about McCarty is that she has little or no capacity for original thought; the “end demand” nonsense spewed here is the cant du jour among prohibitionists, so espousing it takes roughly the same level of cognition as “Support our troops!” or “Smash the Patriarchy!”  It’s nothing more than a shibboleth to demonstrate that she belongs to the “us” group.

…Homewood resident Andy Conaway…is spearheading efforts to eliminate issues that plague their neighborhood—including prostitution.  McCarty…said…Birmingham is a hub of prostitution…

As I’ve pointed out before, dysphemisms play an important part in the demonization of peaceful, consensual transactions; sex is a “plague” (later it’s referred to as an “epidemic”), and a rather unremarkable American city is cast as a “hub” from which the imaginary pestilence spreads to nearby, smaller towns (“…the area…is known for prostitution well outside Alabama’s borders…“)

…both grown women and children [are] being trafficked in plain sight…a 17-year old girl rescued in Homewood…had been kicked out of the prostitution ring she was part of…because she was “too old”…”Pimps will talk about how they can walk into any middle school and leave with five girls who willingly run away with them,” said McCarty…

Nearly all “sex trafficking” propaganda relies heavily on the fetishization of pubescent girls; believers dwell upon lurid descriptions of the bondage, humiliation and rape of teenagers, and the “average debut at 13″ myth is lovingly and obsessively repeated despite its evident absurdity to anyone with even fifth-grade mathematical ability (much less that expected of actual 13-year-olds).  But McCarty goes much further than usual; while it’s not unusual for prohibitionists to vomit out the vile, misandrist fantasy that literally no man wants a woman over some arbitrary age, I’ve never seen that age set below 18.  Moreover, the idea that a “victim” would actually be released from her supposed “slavery” because she had reached that age is not only novel, but also contradicts her earlier statement that “grown women” (a term usually considered to refer to people of at least 18) are “being trafficked in plain sight”.  But the most telling content is what follows next; it occurs in several places in the article, but I’ve gathered it together here for ease of demonstration:

…”These women are victims…whether they are willing participants or not.  She is a princess; she is someone’s daughter”…They are always viewed as commodities and not people…Asked if there are ever any cases where women work for themselves, McCarty said absolutely not.  “Somebody’s got her…every single time”…

The defining characteristic of McCarty’s weltanschauung is her shocking disregard for the intellect and capacity for the self-determination of her own sex.  Even if a woman decides to sell sex, McCarty tells us, her decision cannot be trusted; she is not a rational actor but a pawn of malevolent “pimps and johns” and a passive “princess” to her parents, no matter how old she may be.  That doll-like view of women is echoed a few sentences later, where we are told that “prostitutes sit and wait under the watchful eyes of their pimps“, like toys unable to move until someone fully human – i.e. a male – winds them up and sets them in motion.  Nor does she imagine this to be merely a common or even typical situation; she insists in no uncertain terms that it is a universal one.  In McCarty’s view, no woman is ever capable of self-determination, ever.  She believes that cops should actively hunt sex workers, trap them like animals and then transfer ownership to her organization like dogs sent to the pound; meanwhile, men who violate what she considers to be the proper usage for these mindless playthings should be utterly destroyed without even a semblance of due process:  “It should be about helping her and arresting him…Send her to us and plaster his face all over a billboard.”  McCarty’s mind is a horrifying landscape of self-loathing and reality-denial, and she wants the state to use violence to force everyone else to live in it with her.

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I am a man living in Asia and I have, on my many lonely nights, reached out to sex workers who have invariably helped and made a difference to my life.  I’ve always endeavoured to treat all with the greatest respect I can provide and I really want to help make a difference because I really respect their work.  My question is how to get engaged in a drive for decriminalisation.  It doesn’t matter where; I just think it should be legal and safe for whomever wants to engage in this line of work anywhere.  I know I have been a huge beneficiary of their efforts and care and I really want to give something back if I can.

monkey see monkey doI believe that charity begins at home, and that your efforts would be best expended on the sex workers in your country.  You don’t mention which Asian country you live in, but there are sex worker rights organizations in India, Bangladesh, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, South Korea, Hong Kong and a number of other parts of the continent.  In fact, I’ve always admired the strength and courage of Asian sex worker organizations; Asian sex workers are my heroes, and if you can help them in any way, such as by donating money or helping through your profession, it would be invaluable to their struggle.  And that doesn’t just affect your country, either:  humans may be the smartest monkeys, but we’re still monkeys, and “monkey see, monkey do”.  The Swedish model has spread because the monkeys in power get the idea from watching other boss monkeys impose it on their tribes, and the more countries decriminalize sex work the more likely it is that the monkeys in other trees will see and imitate that behavior, too.  So to elaborate on my initial statement: charity does indeed begin at home, but the ripples spread out to affect the whole world.

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

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I’d rather drink and die.  –  Barbara Payton

I’ve often pointed out that the professions of actress and whore were at one time indistinguishable from one another, and that even now they are at best two branches of one stem (with a large area of overlap in porn and explicit general cinema).  Furthermore, it’s not unusual for actresses in difficult circumstances to practice the more stigmatized branch of our shared profession in a more direct fashion.  But generally, such deals are both highly discreet and in the “high end” price range; the case of Barbara Payton is an extreme and notable exception.

Barbara PaytonBarbara Lee Redfield was born in Cloquet, Minnesota on November 16th, 1927, to Erwin and Mabel Redfield.  Her family moved to Odessa, Texas when Barbara was 10, and though she was very  fortunate in the looks department of the genetic lottery, another of her inheritances eventually destroyed her: both parents were alcoholics.  Barbara eloped with her high-school boyfriend William Hodge just after her 15th birthday, and though her parents had the marriage annulled she was determined to get out of their house via matrimony; just two years later she dropped out of school and married a decorated combat pilot named John Payton, with whom she moved to Los Angeles.  Barbara dreamed of Hollywood success, and persuaded her husband to have some professional photos done; she quickly attracted attention and was a very successful model before she turned 20 (despite the birth of her son in March of 1947).

But success went to her head, and Payton eventually tired of being married to a party girl; they separated in July of 1948 and were divorced in 1950.  Her self-promotion had already attracted the attention of William Goetz of Universal Studios, however, and in January of 1949 he signed her to a $100/week contract (about $1000/week today).  After a couple of minor films, she won critical attention for her performance in Trapped (1949), and was highly praised for her work in Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (1950) opposite James Cagney.  The star’s brother, William Cagney, was so taken with her that he bought out her contact with Universal and got her one with Warner Brothers for $5,000/week, an unheard-of amount for such an inexperienced performer.  Despite this, her career began a sharp decline by the following year, when she appeared in Bride of the Gorilla (1951) with Raymond Burr; by 1955 Hollywood was done with her.  Ironically, her career was destroyed by the same thing which had first ignited it: her hard-partying lifestyle.

From the very beginning, Barbara used speed to keep her weight down, tranquilizers to sleep and alcohol for just about everything else.  She was incredibly promiscuous, and was not afraid to ask for money; soon after she signed with Universal she caught the eye of Bob Hope, who gave her an allowance and kept her in a luxurious apartment.  But Hope dumped her when she started demanding more money, and she took up with her drug dealer, a sometimes-movie-extra named Don Cougar; that ended sometime after Cougar beat up Payton’s elderly landlady over a rent dispute.  Over the next couple of years she is known to have been involved with Howard Hughes, Guy Madison, George Raft, John Ireland, Steve Cochran, Gregory Peck and Gary Cooper, plus many others who weren’t involved in the movie industry.  In 1950, Franchot Tone fell in love with her and proposed; she accepted, but began an affair with a minor actor named Tom Neal.  While Tone was away she even invited Neal to live with her (in the apartment Tone was paying for); when Tone returned she kicked him out.  She went back and forth between the two men until September 14th, 1951, when Neal beat Tone so severely he was hospitalized; she then married Tone on September 28th, lived with him for 53 days and then returned to Neal, who as you might expect beat her regularly as well.  The two never married, but stayed together for four years; and though both their careers were badly damaged by the scandal, the straw that broke the camel’s back in racist 1950s Hollywood was Payton’s relationship with her next boyfriend, black actor Woody Strode.

I Am Not AshamedHer life soon followed her career onto the rocks; she began pawning valuables to pay bar tabs and was arrested for giving bad checks to a liquor store.  She was temporarily reprieved in November of 1955 by marrying George Provas, a furniture store owner, but after their divorce in August of 1958 she resumed her downward spiral.  Her face and figure ruined by hard living, she was no longer able to attract patrons of the caliber of Bob Hope or Howard Hughes, and turned to streetwalking to survive; on February 7th of 1962 she was busted for prostitution on Sunset Boulevard.  She was homeless for much of that year, and was beaten on multiple occasions; she lost several teeth and once was severely stabbed.  In 1963 she got $1,000 for a ghostwritten autobiography entitled I Am Not Ashamed, but the money didn’t last long and things just kept getting worse.  In 1964 she was arrested for shoplifting, and in 1965 for possession of heroin.  Finally in 1967 she admitted she could not survive on her own, and moved back in with her parents (who now lived in San Diego); there she died on May 8th of heart and liver failure.  She was only 39 years old.

Barbara Payton had always been a whore from the time she first realized that she had sexual power over men, in her mid-teens; it’s a sign of our society’s deep misunderstanding of harlotry that nobody ever really accused her of it until she lost control of her behavior and was unable to actually make a living at it any more.  The most successful whores are never so labelled, and the greatest legal penalties and social stigma fall upon the least.

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A hidden sexual scourge is revealed.  Sex considered consensual by its participants is redefined as coercion.  A newly discovered predator…exhibits impulses far outside erotic and moral norms, yet rare as he must be, his numbers are inexplicably mounting.  There is a cry for vigilance and prosecution.  –  Judith Levine

Do As I Say, Not As I Do 

Cops can commit murder, mayhem and rape and still keep their jobs, but if they look for consensual sex…”The sheriff of Bossier Parish has fired one of his deputies…[who was] charged with solicitation of prostitution…Deputy Larry Harrell…was arrested in Shreveport…

Saving Them From Themselves

A 17-year-old who sent her boyfriend intimate photographs has been left shattered after police decided to charge him for possession of child pornography.  Alison (not her real name), who is four months away from being 18, says she’s been traumatised by the way that she and her partner Peter, 22, (also not his real name) have been treated by police, the stress of which has forced them both out of education…people aged 16 and 17 can legally consent to sex but can get into trouble for making “child pornography” if they possess and share images of their own lawful sexual activities…Alison and her mother are now calling for a change in the law to protect consenting couples from getting into distressing legal situations like this…”I feel my consent has been total violated by the people who are supposed to be protecting children…I chose to send pictures of myself to Peter.  I did NOT choose for all those detectives, solicitors and goodness knows who else to see them…”

Surplus Women Shukan Jitsuwa 5-14-15

The violent death of a sex worker in Japan:

Last month…police found the body of Manae Noguchi, 18, buried on a farm in Shibayama, Narita City…police have arrested four suspects…The victim was last seen getting into a rented car in Chiba City…at around 10:00 p.m. on April 19.  It was later determined that the occupants of the vehicle were the four suspects…an anonymous…tip…indicated Noguchi had run up a large amount of debt…

…and Hungary:

The Association of Hungarian Sex Workers (SZEXE)…condemns the victim-blaming articles and reports published in the media that followed the death of Nancy, a Hungarian sex worker who was murdered in…Budapest..the media focused on assumed client of Nancy instead of examining state regulation that coerces sex workers into isolation, exile and personal stigmatization, police violence…

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic 

When a respected scientist starts spouting nonsense terms, it’s time to put him out to pasture:

A leading psychologist has warned that young men are facing a crisis of masculinity due to excessive use of video games and pornography.  Psychologist and professor emeritus at Stanford University Phillip Zimbardo…spoke about the results of his study, an in-depth look into the lives of 20,000 young men and their relationships with video games and pornography…Zimbardo says there is a “crisis” amongst young men, a high number of whom are experiencing a “new form of addiction” to excessive use of pornography and video games…

Change a Few Words

Siouxsie Q on the really newsworthy question about sex work in Silicon Valley:

Why are many tech platforms so inhospitable to sex workers?  Payment processors like Pay Pal and WePay are notorious for shutting down the accounts of sex workers and even seizing their funds.  Facebook has booted hundreds of sex workers, including myself, from its platform with the adoption if its “real name policy;” and both the Apple and the Android app stores prohibit adult content of any kind.  Venture capitalists have been willing to go toe-to-toe with lawmakers to obtain legal wiggle room for companies like Uber and AirBnB, that dance the razor’s edge of legality…They argue that…though these services may be technically illegal at the moment, they perpetuate victimless crimes — peer-to-peer transactions that benefit both the buyer and the seller — and therefore the laws need be changed to catch up with the innovation.  The same argument could be made of…sex work…though technically illegal, it is a peer-to-peer transaction that often perpetuates a victimless crime.  But no headstrong venture capitalist or idealistic design team has stepped up to innovate the oldest profession…

An Example To the West

Phnom Penh sex workers and rights advocates met…to denounce police brutality and corruption, and called on the government to establish a zone where sex workers can operate in safety.  The plea was made during a press conference led by NGO Women’s Network for Unity (WNU), which was attended by around 100 sex workers, who complained police often sought bribes or sexual services…prior to the introduction of a 2008 law intended to combat human trafficking, brothels operated openly.  But…the law heralded a brutal crackdown that saw women and girls…mistreated and stigmatised by officials…researchers found that the heavy-handed response of authorities…forced sex workers into more precarious settings for their work, placing them in greater danger of rape and sexual assault…

The Widening Gyre Walking Prey

It’s everywhere! It’s everywhere!

A woman who was lured into commercial sex when she was 14 brought a warning to Charleston parents…Just about any unhappy teen can be enticed in the same way, according to Holly Austin Smith, who…[wrote] Walking Prey: How America’s Youth Are Vulnerable to Sex Slavery…At the same time as Smith was speaking in Charleston, S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson was giving a similar message to a Rotary Club in Mount Pleasant.  “Trafficking is far more nefarious than what you see in Hollywood,” Wilson said…He [made up]…a story of a woman…who was blackmailed into sex trafficking…For two years she was trafficked over and over and over again…[while] living under her parents’ roof and they did not realize she was being trafficked…Wilson has been tirelessly [pretending]…that sex trafficking is a major threat in South Carolina.  Yet the arrests on trafficking charges have been relatively few since the state passed its law in 2012…

Shift in the Wind

Imagine if big foundations started giving grants for sex worker advocacy:

The health and safety of sex workers…[is] yet another example of how marginalized populations are often left out of essential public policy discussions…due to the social stigma of sex work, people are generally more comfortable avoiding the issue…the issue of sex-worker rights is still taboo among some of the leading [philanthropic] foundations.  But if these foundations recognized how sex work is connected to other issues that funders are working on—like over-incarceration, homelessness, and poverty—the work they do could be more effective…The safety of sex workers…would also be greatly improved by decriminalization.  Because of criminalization, sex workers are at greater danger for physical and sexual violence, because perpetrators know they are unlikely to come forward to police.  With decriminalization, more sex workers could report the violence they experience, making the community safer for everyone…

The Public Eye

a…special edition of [of TMI (Too Much Information) Storytelling] called Sex Worker Diaries…kicks off the weeklong San Francisco Bay Area Sex Worker Film And Arts Festival, which features lives performances, film screenings, workshops, and panels throughout the East Bay and San Francisco…the festival…showcases a diverse range of artistic projects rooted in celebrating, supporting, and accurately portraying people involved in the sex work industry.  The goal is to push back against the ongoing criminalization and stigmatization of sex work — by providing a platform for marginalized workers in a highly misunderstood profession to share their stories and show audiences they aren’t helpless victims…

Welcome To Our World (#450)

Henry…Rayhons’s ordeal was not the first example of overzealous protection of the supposedly defenseless and asexual aged, nor will it be the last.  In 2009, a Massachusetts bill sought to amend the state’s child pornography law to include the disabled and people over sixty among those statutorily unable to consent to posing nude or performing sexually before a camera…The bill’s lead sponsor, thirty-eight-year-old…Kathi-Anne Reinstein—also author of a proposal to make the Fluffernutter the state sandwich—told the Boston Herald that advocates had informed her “elder exploitation and pornography [were] on the rise.”  She called her bill (which, thankfully, failed) a “no-brainer.”  This assessment, I commented at the time, was indisputable…

Public Property (#506)

Men urged to control uppity women by choking off their income:

…a Dallas anti-[sex worker] group is telling men to stop paying women for sex…New Friends New Life…is asking men to stop buying sex and patronizing strip clubs.  It also plans to create an emblem for businesses to display to show they don’t fund business meetings at strip clubs…experts say…the average age of a girl first sold into prostitution is 13…it will take time for attitudes to change about…strip clubs…some of the women who work there aren’t there of their own volition and are barred from leaving…Chris Kleinert said…“No father, when their daughter’s born, says ‘Wow, I can’t wait for her to be violated 10,000 times by the time she’s 21 years old’,”…

Just for comparison:  I’ve had roughly 5000 in my entire career.

Broken Record (#536) 

That so many people could believe in such lunacy explains a lot about the world:

…Houston is…a major hub for human slavery and sex trafficking in the United States.  For years, this intersection of business and widespread prostitution has provided a boon to sex traffickers in Houston every year.  However, the difference this year is a coalition of anti-human trafficking organizations who have joined with city law enforcement and conference organizers to combat the widespread sex trafficking that usually occurs during this event…OTC conference staff have been trained in identifying suspicious sex trafficking activities, law enforcement set up  prostitution stings, and volunteers hit the city streets to raise awareness…the majority of sex victims brought in to service the convention is between the ages of 12 to 14 years old…OTC also warned conference attendees against participating in sex slavery…

Yes, they’re essentially saying that their silly chanting and rattle-shaking scared away the demonic “pimps”.

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Even boredom has its crises.  –  Mason Cooley

two-faced womanClementine was dreadfully bored.  Once in school she had been punished because, chafing at the incredibly slow pace of a reading lesson, she had forged far ahead of the rest of the class; when it was her turn to read aloud she had no idea where the others were.  Even at eight years old she had bristled at the absurdity of being chastised for excellence, and resolved to learn to split her focus between whatever she was supposed to be doing and what she really wanted to do.  And after many years of practice, she had succeeded to a degree few others could manage; when at work, she carried out her tasks so well and so efficiently that nobody ever imagined that something else entirely unrelated might be going on behind her china-blue eyes.  She had become so good at it, in fact, that her inner mind actually needed something else to do while her outer mind was occupied.

Hence today’s boredom; though she enjoyed her job, there were some parts of it that were repetitious.  And if she had nothing else to think about during those times, she might very well fall asleep.  Yet try as she might, she just couldn’t think of anything else to do.  She had already ordered her schedule for the rest of the day, planned dinner and made a grocery list; after that she had decided on a color of paint for her house, composed a stern letter to the contractor who had left a large pile of building materials in her back yard, and made a mental note to call her little sister.  And that was all she could think of, despite the fact that there were still 45 minutes left before she was done.

She considered the possibility of trying to finish a song she had been working on, but even her admirably-organized mind couldn’t manage that well without a guitar to strum on; besides, the might start humming or singing aloud, and that would obviously betray the fact that her focus on the work at hand was something less than total.  Similar objections applied to practicing her shibari knots, and the idea of doing anything at all about her ballroom dancing lessons was wholly ridiculous.  The very fact that it had crossed her mind in the first place was a bad sign; she must already be experiencing a kind of boredom-induced mental lapse.

What if, she thought, I focused both of my channels on the same thing?  Maybe I’d be able to do it that much better and twice as efficiently!  But it was no use; after 10 minutes of futile introspection she could not escape the conclusion that her current task didn’t even use the full resources of one of her cognitive channels, much less both.  No, it was just hopeless; she just had to give up, and almost surrendered to the urge of throwing her hands up into the air in a gesture of exasperation.  There was a clock in sight, but as it was a digital one she couldn’t even play mental games with the hands; she just had to watch as the minutes crawled by with aching slowness. Twenty-five minutes left.

Twenty-four.

Twenty-three.

Twenty-two.

semaphore womanTwenty-one, and Clementine’s inner mind realized that her outer one was frantically trying to get its attention, like a woman performing semaphore motions while jumping up and down.  And it slowly dawned on her that while she had been fascinated by the clock, her client had gotten up and left the room, and she had absolutely no idea where he had gone.  The confusion didn’t last long; he soon stepped back into the room, drying his hair with a towel, and smiled at her.  “That was amazing!” he said.

“Amazing?” she echoed stupidly.  “What makes you say that?”

“I’ve never seen a woman come like that before!  Once you stopped moaning and bucking, you just sort of went all limp and your eyes glazed over, as though you were hypnotized or something.  It was so hot!”

“Oh, yeah, well, I think you deserve the credit for that,” she lied.  “I mean, I don’t climax like that all the time; I just got lost in the moment.”  Well, at least that part wasn’t a lie.  “Hey, don’t include that in your review, OK?  I don’t want the other gents to feel bad if I don’t react that way with them.”

“Of course, of course,” he beamed, as he opened his wallet and fished out an extra hundred for her.  “But I sure hope you react that way with me again!”

“Oh yes, I think that’s probably likely,” she said, putting on her prettiest smile before she even reached for her robe.  Behind her eyes, inner Clementine was already trying to take credit for the performance; she’d have to sit her down as soon as the client left and patiently explain that it was a team effort, in preparation for a brainstorming session dedicated to working out how to do the same thing regularly and predictably.  And afterward, she’d task inner Clementine with working out what to do with the increased income.

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Sex workers know that they are generally not thought of as human by police.  –  Kristina Dolgin

Old Men and Young Women

Old people must be punished for being sexual:

…a man living in a suburban Philadelphia assisted-living facility has lost his housing subsidy after officials found a prostitute underneath his bed…the man, believed to be in his 70s, paid prostitutes using profits earned from peddling alcohol to fellow residents…

Surplus Women Lidia Pascale

A prostitute allegedly killed by one of her customers kept her working life secret from a friend, a murder trial has been told.  Lidia Pascale’s body was discovered…in a wheelie bin…two weeks after she had been killed.  Matthew Cherrington, 32, has denied murder.  Adrian Albulescu …drove [Pascale] to the address…When she failed to reappear after an hour he phoned her “many times” but her mobile was switched off…he also knocked at the door but got no reply…

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic 

Paging Dr. David Ley:

…as a sex addiction/trauma therapist…I have spent many hours reading testimonials of former sex workers, many who started their sex working career as a stripper [sic].  I have come to believe strip clubs exploit wounded women who often have severe trauma in their backgrounds…It is very difficult to disconnect emotionally for dancers who perform lap dances or oral sex for money.  Many strippers display post traumatic stress disorder symptoms and will often times self-medicate with alcohol or other drugs…Some women in the sex industry develop their own sex addiction as a result of the neuro chemical changes in their brain…Many attendees to strip clubs struggle with communication and intimacy with their wives or partners, which can promote a secret life.  A secret life also changes the neuro chemistry in the brain…Often sex addiction co-exists with another addiction such as alcohol or drugs, gambling and sexual anorexia.  So…men who go to the strip clubs are also being exploited…Recovery from sex addiction requires exposing the trauma, stopping the behavior, and a commitment to rewire the brain through therapy…

Regarding the notion that the brain can be “rewired” through therapy: that sure worked out for all the gay people who sought to be “cured”, didn’t it?

Broken Record 

Even “sex trafficking” fetishists now have to address the debunking of one of their pet myths:

…[Prohibitionists claim] they want to fight the forced sex work…that they say is sure to spike during the many Super Bowl events in the Bay Area preceding the game on Feb. 7.  And, perhaps more so, they want to use the football extravaganza…as a platform for their cause.  But the linking of human trafficking to the Super Bowl and other sporting events in recent years has prompted a backlash.  Critics say evidence of the relationship is weak and overblown, and…sex workers…say the pressure to crack down on prostitution hurts them…But [prohibitionists pretend]…it worsens around big events that draw big spenders.  They must, they say, use whatever tool they can to attack [sex work]…

King of the Hill

I literally laughed out loud reading this:

…North Carolina regularly ranks in the top 10 worst states for the illegal act.  This statistic came as a shock to audience members at a seminar…Many let out gasps…Emily Fitchpatrick…of On Eagles Wings Ministries…[said] “Charlotte is the No. 1 city for human trafficking”…the girls like it so much because they make a lot of money…[there, cop mouthpiece Joel] Shores said…“There have been no arrests, but it is a problem…It’s easier to sell a woman than it is to sell drugs…”…Shores also talked about his campaign to…[arrest people for] sexting and how it can lead to becoming part of this growing illegal industry.  “We need to let these women and girls know that they have worth [by arresting them]”…

Comfort Zone (#320)

“…immigration controls are claimed to be a mechanism of protection for migrants, rather than a mechanism of oppression…”:  “Ottawa police say 11 women will be deported after a human trafficking investigation into commercial massage parlours…All 11 were found to be working without a valid work permit…

The Roof Caves In

She’s like the proverbial bad penny:

Disgraced anti-trafficking activist Somaly Mam on Monday appeared on television to promote Afesip, the NGO that she founded…and to ask for donations from Cambodian viewers.  Ms. Mam resigned as president of the Somaly Mam Foundation last year after media reports revealed she had fabricated her backstory and coached young girls to lie about their past in order to raise funds. She resigned from Afesip in 2013…

Bad Girls (#429) 

The details surrounding 27-year-old Alix Tichelman’s arrest in Santa Cruz last July—the Lifetime-esque sting operation, the “Harbor Hooker” hook, the drugs, the Google executive with a $345K yacht—were every reporter’s wet dream.  But some activists believe the case against her has been distorted by media bias against sex workers…Kristina Dolgin…[of] Red Light Legal…reached out to Tichelman…to offer additional legal services and support; she says she wants people to remember that Tichelman is innocent until proven guilty, regardless of her profession.  “They’re using language that is clearly seeking to demonize [Tichelman], strip her of her humanity and make her less than a person—to be vilified and not protected,” Dolgin says…

Served Cold Operation Underground Railroad

If this doesn’t make you nervous, you haven’t been paying attention:

…Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes announced today he will testify on Thursday, May 14, 2015 at a Congressional hearing titled A Pathway to Freedom: Rescue and Refuge for Sex Trafficking Victims…Reyes participated in a rescue sting operation with Operation Underground Railroad in Colombia where he and several others liberated over 120 young children from a modern-day sex slavery ring operated by a network of human traffickers.  Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R) Founder and CEO and former CIA agent and special agent for the Department of Homeland Security Tim Ballard will also testify on the growth of NGO rescue operations and how organizations such as O.U.R. can complement government agencies in expediting human and child sex trafficking rescue and rehabilitation efforts worldwide…

Naming a fascist organization which works with government to enforce the status quo after an historical organization dedicated to opposing the government-enforced status quo makes me want to throw up.

Dutch Threat (#534)

More on Dutch sex workers’ protests, from regular reader Frans van Rossum:

As sex workers fight back against the Mayor of Amsterdam’s attempt to “legalise” violating their privacy rights, they receive some unexpected and unprecedented support from Magda Berndsen-Jansen, a member of parliament…Her parliamentary enquiry…demands answers to the very questions raised by newly founded sex worker organisation PROUD [and] proves that sex workers are finally being heard…Amsterdam’s mayor Eberhard van der Laan…[wants] city administrations nationwide to collect and…share personal data about sex workers, which the Dutch Privacy Protection Law explicitly  prohibits to be collected and shared…[in order] “to combat human trafficking effectively…and…to promote the self-reliance of prostitutes” …if this were to happen, all sex workers could consider  themselves de facto outlaws despite the fact that sex work…has been legal in the Netherlands since 1811, and still is…Berndsen-Jansen…demands no less than that sex workers are being treated equally under the law, just as anyone else…

Marching Up Their Own Arses (#535)

This story just keeps getting more horrible:

Producers employed by Relativity Media, the production company behind A&E’s 8 Minutes, manipulated sex workers and did not prioritize their privacy, [said] a person who worked…for the production’s unaired pilot…neither Relativity nor A&E had any intention of directly helping the women, but instead referred them to a local organization in Las Vegas…Mark, whose name has been changed to protect his anonymity, [said]…“Anybody can be pointed to resources …I can tell you, ‘If you’re hungry, you can go to CVS, there’s a bag of chips there that you can afford’.”  The charges of manipulation and indifference to privacy are very similar to allegations made by sex workers who were filmed for episodes of 8 Minutes that did begin airing…one of them said the “resource” she was given was just the phone number of a counselor.  The interviews with the sex workers, which Mark said usually lasted about an hour, as opposed to the eight minutes suggested by the series, lulled the women “into a false sense of security”…Early in the shoot, the production would start filming the women’s interaction with…Kevin Brown before they were aware that there were cameras; when these unwitting sex workers were surprised by the revelation that Brown is a pastor, most of them would quickly leave the hotel room…[so] the production changed tactics, informing the women beforehand that this was for a show so that they would stay…

Welcome To Our World (#536)

Looks like the expensive salons are trying to drive out their more reasonably-priced competition:

…scores of New York City women say they are disgusted that many nail salons pay their workers next to nothing, and vowed to try to help change things by seeking out higher-end shops, tipping more — or even foregoing the finger and toe pampering altogether.  “It’s just bad. It starts to feel like prostitution [with the exploitation of women],’’ said Sara Bashor…“I don’t feel good supporting it.”  Gov. Cuomo announced …that he is creating a multiagency Enforcement Task Force to fine or shut down nail salons caught violating labor laws.  The heightened regulation came [after] a report that the salon industry in and around the city was rife with exploitation as workers — mostly undocumented women — earn paltry wages while breathing in hazardous fumes and plastic dust…

The astounding ignorance of amateurs is highlighted by the notion that whores make low pay under bad conditions.

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sugar bowlOn the day my last diary appeared, I went to dinner with a potential sugar daddy; he was quite nice and I enjoyed our conversation, but unfortunately we couldn’t quite make a deal because he wanted more time than I could give for the money he was offering, and I wanted more money than he could give for the time he wanted.  C’est la vie; this was only my second attempt, and it felt a lot closer to something that could work than my first one did.  Last week I was also contacted by several readers due to last Monday’s bald statement of my return to sex work; it did wonders for my ego, let me tell you!  And now you readers that missed that column may want to act on it as well!

On Wednesday, I went to dinner at the home of one of the SWOP members, and it made me realize how truly amazing the sex worker community here in Seattle is.  Most of my friends here are sex workers; we see each other often, socialize with each other, visit each other and help each other.  And that is simply not the norm in this country; in most cities one might have a couple of sex worker friends or see each other at SWOP meetings, but the sense of community here is like nothing I’ve seen in any other US city (and remember, I visited quite a few last summer).  It’s one of the reasons I chose to relocate to Seattle; I really wanted to share in that, and I think it will really help me get into the right mindset to write my big book.  Oh, speaking of activism, I was on a panel that spoke to a class at the University of Washington last Thursday night; the other members were Danielle Askini of the Gender Justice League, Tobi Hill-Meyer of both GJL and SWOP, and Hawk Kinkaid of HOOK and Rentboy.com.  I asked Hawk if he’d like to do a guest column on male sex work soon, and he said he would; that will probably appear in July.

Today I’ve got a photo shoot with Mistress Matisse; I’m sure y’all are all anxiously awaiting the results!  And all this week, Jae will be working to turn my office into a comfortable space for writing, giving interviews and the like; I’m anxiously awaiting the results of that!

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