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Archive for the ‘Tyranny’ Category

Sex work is the most pervasive profession for a reason: acquiring human connection is essential for life.  –  Jerome NicholsEric Mischel

Droit du Seigneur

Most cops think they’re nobles, but this one thinks he’s King David:

A Cowetta County, Georgia District Attorney, Peter Skandalakis…has said that his office will not pursue charges against an officer who used his special badge powers to have several men arrested and thus detained while he dawdled their romantic partners.  Luthersville Police Department Officer Eric Mischel became involved in several affairs with women in relationships with men whom he violated…Even though an investigation has revealed a mountain of unscrupulous and unlawful behavior, he will not be charged because D.A. Scandalous says he was unable to find evidence that he broke his oath of office…

The More the Better

A few of my favorite lines from “6 Reasons to Hire a Sex Worker“:

…a good sex worker will do their best and that’s more than you can expect from a lot of volunteer sex partners…Pros are professionals; they know what they’re doing and make more money when you have fun.  The better sex they offer you, the more likely you are to return…Sex workers have experience and wisdom to share with you.  They can offer you lessons in an afternoon some people take years to acquire…You’d never say no a driving lesson before getting your license…

The Last Shall Be First

Somehow I doubt this will stop morally-retarded politicians (pardon the redundancy):

…OSHA now requires all employers under its jurisdiction provide employees with restroom facilities…According to the new guidelines, “Restricting employees to using only restrooms that are not consistent with their gender identity, or segregating them from other workers by requiring them to use gender-neutral or other specific restrooms, singles those employees out and may make them fear for their physical safety.  Bathroom restrictions can result in employees avoiding using restrooms entirely while at work, which can lead to potentially serious physical injury or illness.”  The new memo states employers must accommodate their employees based on which gender that employee identifies with…

For Those Who Think Legalization is a Good Idea (#34)

millions of…sex workers…[are] anxiously waiting for [India’s] highest court to hand down a ruling which they hope will finally clarify the age-old profession s legal status.  Soliciting is illegal in India along with running a brothel and pimping, but the law, an archaic throw back to British colonial times, is vague on prostitution itself.  Sex workers are hoping the Supreme Court’s ruling will force the government to decriminalise the industry.  They say they are tired of being randomly targeted by police and sent to correction homes where they say conditions are worse than jails…

With Friends Like These…

Please, David Rosen, become a prohibitionist; if your attempt to hurt us is as totally wrong as your attempt to “help”, it’ll be a great pro-decrim argument:

…The real victims of commercial sex industry are the women, girls and some young men who are forced (or “choose”) to work in the sex trade.  These people most often live in poverty, have suffered physical and/or sexual abuse, lack affordable housing, have limited education, [and] have few job opportunities…The decriminalization of prostitution can help bring sex workers — the real victims of this “victimless” crime— out of the social shadows so they could secure labor rights, unemployment benefits, health care and life insurance…sex trafficking has reached epidemic proportion, with between 100,000 and 300,000 people annually at risk.  The Department of Homeland Security reports the average age for a girl sex worker at between 12-14 years and 11-13 years for boys.  The decriminalization of prostitution can help contain sex trafficking…

Science!

Another entry in the “climate change causes ‘sex trafficking’!” genre:

Pope Francis said he…believed the United Nations needed to play a central role in the fight against global warming…“the trafficking of human beings…has been created by climate change,” the pope said.  The remarks followed a day-long meeting of mayors from around the world…hosted by the Vatican…and…began by hearing [lurid tales] from two Mexican women who [claim to be] victims of modern-day slavery…

Unfortunately, this Pope seems to have completely swallowed the “sex trafficking” myth.

Policing for Profit

Just in case you don’t believe cops & politicians are completely out of touch:

An assistant district attorney in…Oklahoma lived rent-free in a house confiscated by local law enforcement under the practice of asset forfeiture.  His office paid the utility bills.  He remained there for five years, despite a court order to sell the house at auction.  Another district attorney used $5,000 worth of confiscated funds to pay back his student loans.  These are just a few of the gems unearthed during a recent hearing on Oklahoma authorities’ liberal use of asset forfeiture to take property from suspected criminals and spend it on personal enrichment…State Sen. Kyle Loveless…has sponsored a bill to…prohibit asset forfeiture unless a suspect was actually convicted of a crime, and stipulate that the money go to the state’s general fund…Unsurprisingly, cops are desperate to preserve the practice…We can’t stop people from having drugs unless we are allowed to steal more money has to be one of the least-convincing arguments for maintaining the drug war…

Hall of Shame (#428) 

Your periodic reminder that Dennis Hof is a revolting excuse for a human being:

…Dennis Hof…has started an exploratory committee to pursue a run for US Senate in Nevada, and created a plan to end sex trafficking…he plans to run on the libertarian ticket…Sex trafficking is an American epidemic far more dangerous than Ebola…and…the third biggest black market industry after drugs and arms trafficking…Hof…believes his experience with legal prostitution proves that decriminalizing the oldest profession would end one of the world’s biggest human rights issues…

Hof has never spoken in favor of decriminalization; he speaks in favor of legalization, and regularly implies that women are too stupid and weak to have sex for our own reasons without crony pimps holding our leashes.  He’s a “libertarian” like I’m a socialist.Hanna Fanni

Whore Detection

It isn’t only in the US that black women are routinely profiled as whores:

…on July 8th…the hotel staff at [the] five-star…Mövenpick Hotel [in Dubai] refused to serve [a Nigerian woman named Hanna Fanni ]…when she visited the hotel’s popular West Beach Bistro & Sports Lounge with her black American friend…“They suspected us of being prostitutes…solely because of the colour of our skin.  I have lived here for 10 years and have never been treated in such a disrespectful and despicable manner…First the waitress refused to serve us and then a security guard ordered us to leave the hotel.  At one stage he was ready to engage with us physically…he kept telling us that the bar didn’t allow unaccompanied women…[but] there were several tables occupied by women.  When I pointed to them, he said he was merely following orders…I showed [the bar manager] my business card…his face contorted in panic as it dawned on him that they had racially profiled the wrong people.  But instead of making amends, he said the security guard had asked us to leave as some black women had come in earlier and solicited their guests”…the hotel tried to make amend but they were so humiliated they had to leave…

Repeat Offenders (#449) 

Prohibitionists cut into street workers’ income by hanging around them:

They are a band of Christian soldiers who walk Akron’s streets looking for prostituted women.  Their sole goal is to pray that the weighty chains that bind these women to their lifestyles will be severed.  To tell them that there is a God who is mightier than their pimps.  And to say that He loves them for who they are — not because they can turn tricks.  The men and women who make up this army are part of RAHAB, a nonprofit ministry of hope.  To make themselves more accessible to those who are forced to sell their bodies, they work out of a house on the east side of Akron.  They say the girls who have been coerced onto the streets…are victims. And the…mission is to help them recover from the atrocities of human trafficking…

Seizing Power

Backpage.com is suing the sheriff in Chicago over his successful campaign to urge credit card companies to cut ties with the classified ads company…[the] lawsuit…[alleges] that…Thomas Dart…[is] censoring the company and its customers’ right to free speech…“Sheriff Dart’s actions to cripple Backpage.com and all speech through the site are an especially pernicious form of prior restraint,” the complaint says.  “He has achieved his purpose through false accusations, innuendo, and coercion, whereas, if he had brought suit directly or Cook County had attempted to pass a law to shut down the website, Backpage.com would have had a fair opportunity to respond and defeat such efforts, given well-established law”…

The Scarlet Letter (#553)

Unfortunately, the writer felt compelled to counter SWOP’s statements with anti-whore propaganda:

…”I’m a sex worker.  I’m not coerced.  I’m not trafficked.  I’ve been a sex worker my entire life,” [said Liz] Coplen…of the Sex Workers Outreach Project in Tucson.  Coplen said many women enter…sex work to make money.  The women on these sites range from college students, to single moms, to professionals with a side job.  Their clients also run the gamut, from police officers…to doctors, lawyers, soldiers and college professors…

Ashley Madison (#557) 

News that hackers are threatening to expose the personal information of the affair website AshleyMadison.com’s 37 million users undoubtedly has its members panicking.  The rest of us, though, are thinking, “Thirty-seven million?”  That is a whole heck of a lot of people who are looking to have affairs—roughly equivalent to the entire population of Poland.  But…only 2.3 million of those members are active users…(Think:  The population of Queens, New York.)  Disparities between total members and active users are typical with dating sites.  PlentyOfFish boasts 100 million registered users…but 3.6 million active daily users…OkCupid has 10 million active users…one in 10 dating profiles…are fakes made by scammers or spammers.  The rest are users who joined a given site and are no longer active—maybe they found love or just gave up on the whole proposition…

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I knew he was there to kill me.  –  the woman who stopped Neal Falls

lady who took out Neal FallsI’ve written a number of times about “NHI” (“No Humans Involved“), the informal police policy that (in the absence of some sort of public outcry) violence against sex workers is to be ignored and left uninvestigated.  Even a serial killer preying on whores is usually allowed to continue the slaughter unimpeded by police action unless he mistakenly includes an amateur in his spree, and even then you can be sure the cops are going to let everyone know that the reason they’re taking action is to protect the “good” women and not the harlots.  Sometimes, the cops even go as far as to deny that there’s a serial killer in the first place, to cover up for him or to announce more persecution of potential victims, just so everyone knows they’re no friends of dirty whores.  So generally, the killing will continue until the murderer widens his appetites to include amateurs, or the cops catch him for something else (and then pretend it was part of their “investigation”), or he stops on his own, or someone else takes him out.  Remember the serial killer operating in Chillicothe, Ohio?  Well, he was stopped in nearby Charleston, West Virginia, by a woman he tried to add to his tally:

Neal Falls, the man shot to death by a prostitute after he attacked her on Saturday, had a cache of weapons and a list of online escorts inside his vehicle…police…suspect he may have been involved in other unsolved crimes.  “He had a machete, shovel, two axes, a bunch of knives, a double-headed ax, a bulletproof vest, numerous sets of handcuffs, as well as the firearm used to kill him,” [said] Lt. Steve Cooper of the Charleston, West Virginia, police…”Nearly immediately after he stepped into her apartment, he said ‘live or die’ and a struggle ensued,” Cooper said. “[Falls] laid his gun on a counter so that he could get a firmer grip around the victim’s throat with both his hands and she was able to scoop that weapon up and fire one round, killing Mr. Falls.”  The escort, who has not been identified, was hospitalized with multiple injuries, including broken vertebrae.  Authorities have determined the shooting was a justifiable homicide…

The Daily Dot had more detail:

When Falls began to strangle her, she…reached for a nearby rake.  Falls put down his gun to try and wrestle the rake out of her hands—that’s when she grabbed the gun and shot him.  Falls died from the gunshot wound, and she ran outside to get help…police…found an extensive “kill kit” in the trunk of Falls’s Subaru…[including] knives, a shovel, a machete, several axes, a sledgehammer, a pair of hiking boots covered in dirt, trash bags, and cleaning supplies.  In Falls’s pocket, said police, they found a list of names of future targets:  all sex workers who advertised on Backpage.  Police have not released the names, or the exact number, of women on the list…Falls…previously worked as a security guard in Oregon, and may have been living “off the grid” out of his car…

Besides the murders in Chillicothe, he may have committed four in Las Vegas:

…according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal…Falls…has been linked to the deaths of four young women:  Lindsay Harris, 21, Jodi Brewer, 19, Jessica Foster 21, and Misty Saens, 25…Harris, Brewer and Saens…were found dead near highways.  Foster has yet to be located…

Neal FallsMaybe, or perhaps cops in various parts of the country are just going to try to pin unsolved murders of sex workers on Falls so they don’t have to waste their time on “NHI” crimes; after all, time spent investigating violence against whores is time they can’t spend harassing, raping, robbing or brutalizing us.  One has to have priorities, after all.  But for now, the as-yet-unnamed sex worker is a heroine to her sisters all over the US, and if she reads this I ask that she let us show our gratitude to and solidarity with her.  She’s an inspiration to all of us, and I hope the next sex worker to be threatened by a monster like Falls is able to follow her example and do for herself and the rest of us what the cops can’t and won’t.

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I guess when you gotta go, you gotta go.  –  Carrie Bilbao

I’m spending a lovely weekend at a mountain lake with Mistress Matisse and a wonderful gentleman, prior to heading for Oklahoma on Monday.  So I apologize for the paucity of links this week; I barely had time to think, much less scan the news.  Regarding the video (contributed by Franklin Harris):  yes, I know what the songwriter meant, but it isn’t like that adjective hasn’t been used in another way since at least the late 19th century, and it strains credulity to believe that absolutely nobody involved in writing, selecting, producing & marketing this turkey had heard of that.  And that makes it funny.  The links are from Robert King,  Radley BalkoJesse Walker, Radley again and Cassandra Fairbanks, in that order.

From the Archives

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One of the most dangerous aspects of our work is the swarm of moral, political and legal authorities…who treat us like children and victims and, when we won’t behave like children and victims, criminalize us in a manner that sometimes leads to fatal exchanges.  –  Fleur de Lit

Ashley Madison 100% secure

Though I’m tempted to gloat, real people are being endangered here; furthermore, the hackers’ professed motives are horrific:

Data stolen by hackers from AshleyMadison.com, the online cheating site that claims 37 million users, has been posted online…The breach was confirmed in a statement from Avid Life Media Inc…the company said it would offer all users the ability to fully delete their personal information from the site — an option that was previously only available for a fee…the hackers, who identify as “The Impact Team,” got a hold of “sensitive internal data” not only for AshleyMadison, but also for other hookup sites owned by the company, Cougar Life…and Established Men… which promises to connect “young, beautiful women with successful men”…The Impact Team is threatening to expose all customer records unless Avid Life Media takes AshleyMadison and Established Men offline “permanently in all forms”…

The hackers described Ashley Madison as “a “prostitution/human trafficking website for rich men to pay for sex” and added, “too bad for those men, they’re cheating dirtbags and deserve no such discretion“.

Against Their Will

A 23-year-old woman’s pregnancy has blown the lid off a prostitution racket allegedly being run in an Ulhasnagar rehabilitation centre, which is supposed to be a safe home for women rescued from prostitution…no men, except for those who may be working at the centre, are allowed in…Senior police inspector Dhananjay Dhopavkar of Hill Line police station said, “What can we do? This centre has no security.  The women living there have been freely moving in and out of the place”…Dhopavkar added that the centre has been allowing sex workers to continue engaging in prostitution while living there…

Surplus Women 

A man aged 91 has confessed to the murder of a prostitute outside a Soho nightclub nearly 70 years ago.  The British expat walked into a police station near his home in Canada to admit to the killing in 1946 after he had been diagnosed with cancer.  He said he had shot the woman…after she had cheated him out of money…detectives scoured through old files of the unsolved murders…and the…man picked out a picture of…Margaret Cook…It is thought to be the longest gap between a crime and a confession in British criminal history.

Divided We Fall

Much more of this, please:

…Gay culture has a long history of sex work, from 1950s “hustle” bars where “straight” guys paid a commission to the bartender in order to hook up with gay johns, to 1990s go-go bars where queer dancers were often there to display their wares to potential clients…Gay literature celebrated sex work in the ’80s and ’90s…Plenty of gay men have written memoirs of their sex work…A disproportionate number of trans and queer youth…have done sex work for survival…[yet] at a time when we should be decriminalizing sex work, there’s a movement in the LGBT world to pretend sex work doesn’t exist, isn’t a queer and trans issue, isn’t something we’ve historically embraced…It’s time the LGBT community get behind legalization of sex work and embrace rather than distance ourselves from the unique role LGBT people have historically played in the sex industry.  Legalization actually makes a safer world for the women and men who do sex work, and it destigmatizes something as old as time.  Yes, especially now, in this new age of marriage equality and post-gay parenting and our happy white-picket-fence lives, there’s a need for us to stand up for the least-protected class of people, LGBT sex workers, and demand their rights now, too.

Gingerbread House

Another paint-by-numbers “sex trafficking” tall tale:

…the Twin Cities metro area is among the nations’ 13 largest centers for child prostitution with Minneapolis as the home base of a large domestic prostitution ring…More than 50 percent of all domestic prostitution victims are classified as runaway youth...living on the street…in almost all cases, youth are not choosing this life.  Traffickers/pimps recruit youth who may…be struggling…One…group of concerned citizens has been meeting and praying about…A Christian-based, safe housing facility focused on girls ages 12-18 with equine therapy…ranch residents will get guidance to realize their deep value and potential through the love of Jesus Christ…as they heal and transition into permanent housing…“We’ve heard that Highway 2 is a corridor to Duluth for sex trafficking – from the reservations to the ports and to the oil fields,” said [a prohibitionist]. “We often don’t think it’s here in our own town but it is”…“If…men…would understand that if they stopped using [girls] the problem would go away.  They need to realize the feeders into sex trafficking, like porn”…

Monsters Meagan Taylor

Hey, Gay Inc: if prostitution weren’t criminalized, transwomen couldn’t be arrested for being profiled as prostitutes:

…Meagan Taylor was…visiting Des Moines with a friend who is also transgender, and they were staying at a hotel…where…police showed up at their hotel room….[after the staff called the cops on] “two males dressed as females…[because the] staff was worried about possible prostitution activity”…[the pig stole her hormone pills and] charged [her] with possession of prescription drugs without a prescription…Taylor could be there for months…There is…no good reason for a 22-year-old nonviolent person like Taylor to be locked up indefinitely…the real offense is a private business calling police on paying guests because they didn’t conform to gender stereotypes…

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (#318)

People are starting to recognize the “Trafficking in Persons” report as a political weapon:

…the State Department is preparing to certify that Malaysia has made significant strides in fighting human trafficking — upgrading it to a Tier 2 “watch list”.  The timing couldn’t be better for the Malaysian government, which is eager to join the Obama administration’s landmark Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a massive trade deal…that aims to unite nearly 40 percent of the world’s GDP into one free-trade zone…[but] anti-trafficking campaigners say that no real progress has been made.  “Human trafficking and forced labor are as bad as ever here,” [said] Charles Santiago, a member of the Malaysian parliament…But in order for Malaysia to join the trade deal, it is crucial that its status be upgraded…legislation…[prohibits negotiation] with countries that have been designated Tier 3…”If we get Tier 2, it will be a blatant display of American hypocrisy…they might as well throw the entire TIP in the trash”…

Of course, Malaysia’s problem isn’t SEX “trafficking”, so it’s all good.

Drawing Lines 

Kudos to Margaret Corvid for being willing to eat crow with a good heart:

New sex worker writers often justify their sex work with respectability politics.  I did it. I fucked up with my very first piece, in a big venue, the Guardian, contrasting my sex work to that of hypothetical trafficked workers, so-called “miserable slaves”.  Even after taking feedback about that mistake, it took me a while to quit using my own favorable personal circumstances to make sex work more palatable to my readers.  I think that I did it because I was intoxicated with the power of my writing, and I thought my experience was important.  Guess what—sometimes it’s not…

Uncommon Sense (#420)

German politicians are determined to wreck their fairly-decent sex work system:

A proposed law reform would require Germany’s sex workers to carry licenses at all times.  It would mandate their clients wear condoms.  And it would authorize police to check up on these things without notice…“News travel fast, especially in small towns and villages,” said Undine de Riviere, a sex worker and spokeswoman of the Professional Association of Erotic and Sexual Services…“Many sex workers only work part-time. It would be a big problem if their main employer would know about it.  You can imagine what the parents of their children’s friends would think”…

Lack of Evidence (#439)

I did tell you so:

In a trend bristling with public-health implications, Sacramento sex workers are forgoing condoms because they fear they can be arrested for possessing them, say activists and clinic workers.  “We have a huge epidemic of sex workers who are not using protection because of the police activity,” said Kristen DiAngelo, who heads up a local branch of the Sex Workers Outreach Project…multiple street workers relayed similar tales of intimidation:  cops emptying their purses and photographing condoms as evidence, and even poking holes in their rubbers before handing them back while laughing…

The Public Eye (#549)

Funny, but I started sex work at 30 because “I wanted my body to belong to me again”.  Still, it’s good to see basically-positive articles on sex workers appearing in Cosmo.

First They Came for the Hookers… (#555)

Notice how bad laws often follow fads?

…if a controversial bill dubbed the “stripper registry,” is revived…all exotic dancers in Pennsylvania would be required to pay a $50 registration fee with the Department of State.  Dancers would need to provide full name, aliases, place and date of birth, height, weight, hair color, eye color, home address, telephone number, place of employment, a copy of their photo identification and a separate passport-sized photograph of themselves.  It also would require dancers to report whether they were victims of sex trafficking or had been convicted of a crime.  Other provisions in the bill would limit alcohol sales and ban lap dances in clubs.  Amid a flurry of public criticism, the legislation, originally intended as an anti-sex-trafficking bill, was…shelved — for now…

Seizing Power

I always know sex workers are in for a jolly good ride when an influential abolitionist invokes Pretty Woman…Tom Dart did just that when he persuaded Mastercard and Visa to stop allowing their credit cards to be used…for adult service ads on…Backpage…”We cannot turn a blind eye…and pretend this is some twisted Pretty Woman situation,” Dart told CNN…I am struggling to imagine what “a twisted Pretty Woman situation” looks like, so I’ll just say that the several dozen sex workers I know personally and professionally – and all those I’ve encountered in online forums and communities and at conferences – generally understand, because we do sex work and don’t just watch it on TV, that it isn’t like Pretty Woman.  In fact, it isn’t like it’s depicted in most films, songs, photographs, paintings or any other media, including some documentaries…

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I can’t breathe.  –  yet another unarmed black man

It’s been a while since we’ve had a good short film, and this one comes to us courtesy of Jesse Walker.  The links above it were provided by Nun Ya (“horse” and “wallet”), Cassandra Fairbanks (“lane change”), Clarkhat (“naked”), and Rick Horowitz (“seizure”).

From the Archives

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“Grandpa worked really hard so that we can find out the most sensitive part of the penis” generally isn’t the sort of story family foundations want to tell.  –  Miro GudelskyLa Bodega Negra - Edited

Subtle Pimping

Another example of amateurs profiting from sex workers’ images while giving us nothing:

As Soho’s sex trade is destroyed, a twee pastiche is being created in its place. A sex-work themed theme-park…Across Soho, the bordello theme is a default.  You don’t have to stumble far to find décor suggestive of dimly lit backrooms and women of the night; a fantasy, filmic version of the sex trade.  Marketers aren’t afraid to use the trope for all its worth…As the reality of sex work in Soho disappears, its essence has become a marketing tool.  Brothel chic.  A Disneyland version of what was for many, a life, work – a world that wasn’t particularly exotic or glamorous but simply the thing they did for a certain number of hours a week to pay the bills…

Perquisites

Only in the US could the idea that men like to look at pretty girls while they relax be represented as strange or even bad:

In a city that’s being gentrified by the engineers and startup employees, the Gold Club is perhaps the most outré illustration of San Francisco’s recent excesses, a place where curious crowds come for the cheap fare and stay for the alcohol and extracurriculars.  It is also an example of how tone deaf many in the male-dominated tech industry can be.  In recent years, critics have called out technology companies for their workforces’ gender imbalances, which some argue foster a boys’ club culture and sexual discrimination…

The Proper Study

Why there are few good studies on sex work:

…Even researchers…with adequate funding and support…may find that they’re not always taken very seriously because of the stigma still attached to sexuality…and…unlike colleagues in other fields, sex researchers are often forced to contend with assumptions that their professional interests reflect their personal habits.  Few assume that ornithologists harbor a secret wish to be birds, or that medical researchers are drawn to their field due to a history of illness, but sex therapists and researchers are frequently presumed to be incredibly adventurous in the bedroom…

Saving Them From Themselves

Some stories are so egregiously stupid I just can’t resist editorializing:

A 14-year-old boy in Nova Scotia has been sentenced to…probation…[re-education] and restricted internet access for possession of child pornography…[actually nude pictures of his same-age girlfriend]…the boy…will also have to provide a DNA sample and [the state will steal] his smartphone…[Judge] Atwood laid out his decision to [pretend that] the crime [was] a violent one.  He said…that even if…sexting [hurts no one, prudes imagine]…that some day, there will be a [mysterious and indefinable] psychological impact…

First They Came for the Hookers…

If prohibitionists really want to “rescue” sex workers, why do they keep trying to stop us from getting other jobs?

…Miami police officer Sabine Raymonvil…does not deny that she used to work in the porn industry [but]…her work in porn films was completed prior to her becoming a police officer…the requirements to work for the Miami Police Department don’t specifically state anything against porn…[but] she may be terminated because of “conduct unbecoming” an officer…

I don’t really want to think too hard about why someone would leave honest sex work to become a pig, but there you are.Sex Slaves MSNBC

Marching Up Their Own Arses (#349)

How many of these must we endure?

Several organizations that advocate on behalf of both sex workers and survivors of trafficking have written a letter to MSNBC, urging them to cancel Sex Slaves in America, saying it…misleads the viewing public about the realities of both sex work and trafficking…The letter, which you can read in full here, is signed by the Sex Workers Project, the New York Anti-Trafficking Network, Freedom Network, Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive, and Florrie Burke, a longtime human rights advocate…they’re particularly concerned with the way it seems to conflate sex work and human trafficking, and that it could compromise the anonymity of the women it films…In 2013, amid protests and another sternly-worded letter from the same organizations, MSNBC cancelled a program called Slave Hunter, in which a guy named Aaron Cohen claimed to rescue victims of trafficking…

Acting and Activism (#419)

Why is CNN so in love with the “sex trafficking” narrative and the empty-headed actresses who promote it?

Jada Pinkett Smith is helping to expose the ugly world of sex trafficking…The actress has teamed up with CNN for an hour-long special report…”Children for Sale: The Fight to End Human Trafficking” delves into the gritty underbelly of child sex slavery in America…Smith…traveled to Atlanta — a trafficking hot spot — to sit down with courageous survivors and come face to face with a trafficker…

Policing for Profit (#520) 

Presumption of innocence?  What’s that?

A D.C. Council member wants to take a page from Spokane, Washington, and several other cities and start impounding the cars of people suspected of soliciting prostitution.  Councilman Jack Evans…is calling this rights-infringing nonsense the “Honey, I lost the car” program.  As with the Spokane law, it wouldn’t matter whether the person is eventually convicted of any crime or not; if you look to some cops like you’re cruising for sex, that’s all the probable cause they need to snatch your vehicle…

The Pro-Rape Coalition (#555) 

If you thought good old-fashioned Moral Majoritarians were just going to concede Puritanism to fourth-wave feminists, think again…the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCSE)—a group founded in 1962 as Morality in Media (the name was changed this year)—is holding an anti-pornography summit…[which] features a who’s who of anti-sex-work, anti-science, and anti-free-speech zealots, along with the father of famous kidnapping victim Elizabeth Smart

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When I published “Empathy” three years ago this month, I was confronted in the comments by the dumbfounding realization that some otherwise-intelligent people do not understand that the protagonist of a story need not be good, morally-upright or even admirable in the author’s eyes; she is merely the person the story follows, not some moral exemplar.  Marilith is a courtesan on an Earth very different from the one we know, who has used her paranormal ability to excel in her profession and climb the social ladder.  This tale takes place three years after the first, and if you haven’t read that one yet I strongly suggest you do so before embarking on this one…but do yourself a favor and skip the comments.  You’ll be glad you did.

decanterMarilith’s guest was ten minutes late, and even the aftereffects of the laudanum could not calm her agitation.  It was not the disruption to her schedule that upset her so; Prince Jamal was her only client scheduled for the day, nor were any set for the next.  The disquiet was at least partly due to the empathic focus she was struggling to maintain in the face of nearer, stronger voices, but the rest of it…

“Mistress, please,” begged her handmaiden; “let me bring you something to calm you.  I have never seen you in such a state.”

“No!” snapped Marilith.  “It’s too late for that, Cynthia; he’s long overdue already, and I’ll need all my willpower for this.  I’ve done all I can do, and now all that remains is to wait.”  As if in punctuation to her sentence, the soft gong which signified a new arrival on the landing stage sounded in the antechamber.  And yet Cynthia hesitated with uncharacteristic inefficiency until her mistress ordered her to go.

The trip to the roof and back was not a long one, yet today it seemed interminable; by the time the Prince was announced, his hostess felt as though she was about to scream.  But luckily for her, the emotional communication enabled by her psychic gift was unidirectional; he had no idea of the turmoil which raged behind her penetrating purple eyes and her soft, enigmatic smile.  “Welcome back, Your Highness.  It has been too long.”

“Lies do not become you, Marilith,” he said, and a wave of panic engulfed her; did he know what she was planning?  How could he have discovered…”You would be just as happy if you never saw me again, except for the fact that you would then be cheated of the ridiculous fee I pay you.”

“Your Highness does me an injustice; surely you don’t believe I could hide such unkind thoughts without wearing them on my visage.”

He laughed, an especially unpleasant laugh even by his standards.  “You must think me a very great fool, woman; even a common whore knows how to disguise her true feelings for the men who pay her, and you are no common whore.”

“As you say, My Lord.  But if you believe this of me, perhaps you should find another courtesan more to your liking.”

He pulled her up against him, and the wave of anger and hatred which engulfed her almost drowned her doubts and fears.  “I would, if there were another fit to wash your feet,” he said in a tone which weirdly mingled resentment with admiration; “besides, you know very well I couldn’t trust anyone else.”

“So you have said, My Lord,” she said, suppressing a shudder as his right hand moved down from her waist, “but I fail to comprehend what makes me especially trustworthy.  I can sense your feelings, not the other way around.”

“You do more than just sense feelings, witch,” he spat; “they become a part of you and overwhelm your own.  I had prepared quite a dossier on you ere I approached you the first time; my advisors feel you would be incapable of violence because your victim’s terror would overwhelm you.”

“That is true, My Lord,” she whispered in his ear, “but I am not the only one here.”

weaponized nailsThough she had experienced it many times, Marilith never failed to be astonished by the incredible silence with which Cynthia could move when necessary.  And though she had been fully apprised of her attendant’s capabilities before she even purchased her, the reality was more terrifying than she could have dreamed.  Two extra pairs of arms shot forth from her gown with the speed of striking cobras; six sets of razor-sharp fingernails glinted like gems for only an instant before they were coated in blood; thirty powerful digits ripped out the princely entrails with the ease and energy of a child scattering shredded paper from the interior of an eagerly-awaited package.  And Marilith was not sure if she would ever stop screaming, much less sleep again.  She drew her ornate dagger and plunged it into her servant’s body over and over and over again; for her part Cynthia quietly accepted the attack, each wound closing instantly as though the blade had been plunged into water rather than flesh.  And when the hysterical girl finally collapsed into wracking sobs and let the blade drop from her nerveless fingers, the dispassionate handmaiden gathered her up as gently as one might handle a sleeping kitten, and bore her toward the bath after stepping through the gore that had until recently been a human being.

Once she had pressed the prepared wine to her mistress’ lips, bathed her tenderly and tucked her exhausted body into bed, Cynthia returned to scrub the carnage from the other room; she was unsurprised to find another man waiting there, surveying the scene with satisfaction.  “So it’s done?” he asked unnecessarily.

“As you see, Your Highness.  My mistress’ plan worked perfectly; she was able to remain focused on your emotions and thereby exclude Prince Jamal’s, at least until I could strike.  The kinsman who so troubled you is no more.”

“Good, very good.  And my other operatives have informed me that all of his precautions have been foiled; he will not return this time.”

“Forgive my boldness, Your Highness, but are you absolutely certain there is no chance my mistress will be implicated in this?”

“None whatever.  Once you physically clean the area with the fluids you have been provided, my people will arrive  before morning to remove the more intangible residues.  If the investigators come here at all – which I doubt – they will find nothing.”

“She has done you a great favor this evening, Mighty One.”

“I am aware of that, Cynthia, and she will be handsomely rewarded as we agreed.”

“You know that she will never be the same again.”

“Indeed she will not; her patent of nobility is already in process, and once that’s done it will be a small matter to negotiate an advantageous marriage for her.”

“Thank you, Your Highness.”  Before she rose from the deep bow, the lifelike image had faded from view.  And as she began the arduous process of cleaning, Cynthia thought to herself that though it might be disrespectful, she was very glad indeed that she was not human.

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