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Links #246

Detective Conway’s use of force was justified and commensurate for the situation.

We had to spend the night away from our place last night, and like an idiot I forgot the power cord for my laptop so I couldn’t finish this column in time!  I know this is happening more frequently than it did prior to the start of my tour last year, but I’m afraid that’s just a consequence of my far-less-settled schedule.  This week’s video is from Mike Siegel, and the links above it are from Rick HorowitzJesse WalkerJillian Keenan and Franklin Harris, in that order.

From the Archives

Sex workers in…[current] media accounts are not people, but fever dreams, to be pitied, laughed at, hyperbolically loathed, and surreptitiously lusted after.  –  Noah Berlatsky

Good Advice Jon Cryer

Jon Cryer, Charlie Sheen’s co-star on Two and a Half Men, says in his new memoir So That Happened:

I was in a bad state right after my divorce, and I certainly didn’t feel dateable…I decided I might as well pay someone for company and certain intimate pleasures so that I could at least get my equilibrium back with the opposite sex.  Charlie suggested a few online purveyors he used…

Surplus Women 

Would this excuse have worked for a victim with any other job?

A jury found Bradley Barton not guilty…in the death of sex worker Cindy Gladue…Barton, a long-distance trucker from Ontario, rented [a] room at the Yellowhead Inn…in Edmonton…On the second night, [he] called 911 and reported the discovery of the body of an unknown woman in his bathtub…But closed circuit video…shows Barton and Gladue…walking together holding hands the first night and meeting up again the next evening…Barton [claimed he] didn’t mean to [stab] Gladue, and that the wound was caused accidentally by rough sex…

The Prudish Giant

Since 2006, the venerable libertarian anti-interventionist website AntiWar.com has hosted uncensored photos of abuses committed by United States troops at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq…On Wednesday morning, AntiWar.com received an automated email from Google explaining that the site was being suspended from Google’s AdSense ad network, because that page violates AdSense policy.  Either Google is incorrectly enforcing its own policies, or their policies do not allow for controversial — but clearly and objectively newsworthy — content…

Hall of Shame

Outing a famous non-prohibitionist client just to make money?  Instant ticket to my Hall of Shame:

Kim Petro, a plus-size dominatrix…apparently passed a lie detector test before selling her story to the National Enquirer…Petro claims [Olympic athlete Michael] Phelps contacted her off her “busty festish” Craigslist ad in February 2013.  They allegedly negotiated a $900 “donation” before Phelps…”removed his shirt and…shorts to reveal that he was wearing…women’s underwear…’I got above him [on the bed] to [urinate on him],’ said Petro“…She says she recognized him right away and apparently provided “a cellphone number that The Enquirer independently verified as belonging to the Olympic legend”…

On the Simultaneous Having and Eating of Cake 

An exotic dancer who was shot at a Columbia nightclub is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for her injury, the S.C. Supreme Court ruled…The court ruled that dancer LeAndra Lewis was an employee of the Boom Boom Room Studio 54 – not an independent contractor…the…decision could bolster efforts in South Carolina to classify other topless dancers as employees of clubs that hire them…

Checklist 

Another absurd story about “sex trafficking” informs us, without any evidence at all, that “87% of…victms have had contact with a healthcare provider while being trafficked” and “10% of doctors recognize trafficking victims”.  It also informs us that “sex trafficking” is “about the pimping of modern American culture” And advises doctors to “speak love into [victims]”.  I couldn’t make up anything this wack-a-doodle if I tried.

The Pro-Rape Coalition (#452)

It’s a popular cultural trope these days that…porn is making men, especially young men, sexually dysfunctional…This basic narrative, with its mixed techno/sex panic and vaguely scientific undertones, can be seen everywhere from New York magazine to consumer health sites, Esquire to The American Conservative to The Daily Mail, Christian websites to Thought Catalog…The genre subtly shames both women and men—the former for not being enough like porn stars to keep their men interested, the latter for letting their libido rule them—and often veers into discussions of whether more government intervention is warranted.  But the narrative at the core of this genre is a crock, according to a new study published in the journal Sexual Medicine…The researchers found no relationship between pornography habits and experiencing erectile dysfunction among sexually active participants…

Vendetta (#518) Peter Qualliotine

As usual, only the alternative media questions the noxious rhetoric which suffuses Swanee Hunt’s “end demand” crusades:

Peter…Qualliotine, co-founder of a Seattle group called Organization for Prostitution Survivors, has for several years been teaching a local “john school”…little evidence exists to show that the class is changing anyone’s behavior…with…a grant from Demand Abolition…he recently began a new…john school that runs for 10 weeks—longer than almost any other comparable program in the county…“Many of these men really are dangerous sexual predators,” Qualliotine says.  Many, of course, are not.  But even the nonviolent men, Qualliotine argues, cause harm—by perpetuating an industry that traps prostitutes…into what he deems degrading work while sexually objectifying women at large…He says that of all the johns he’s met, almost none have said they “feel great” about buying sex or that prostitution is meeting their needs…because they’re coming…from a place of “brokenness” and “desperation”…SWOP, however, found a number of men who agreed to speak, albeit anonymously.  “It’s been something that’s been really positive for me, to be honest with you,” says one man…another sex buyer, whom we’ll call Charlie, doesn’t feel like he’s violated anybody’s rights by paying for sex…“It was very civilized,” he says …One woman he’s seen repeatedly…earns more than he does…

Blasphemy (#520)

Chris Hedges’ piece “The Whoredom of the Left”…is about the evils of prostitution, but the photograph that opens the piece speaks a different language, and points to different interests…it…is exploitive, in the most deliberate sense—the site, Truthdig, is using the women in the photo as a way to provoke titillation and/or moral outrage and/or (more likely) both…The main difference between Truthdig and the owner of…a…brothel is that the brothel owner presumably provided the women in the picture with a cut.  Truthdig shows its higher morals by keeping all the money for itself.  Hedges probably didn’t choose the art himself, and most likely didn’t even get to approve it.  Still, it’s not out of line with his essay, which wallows in feverish, sweaty prose and lurid excitation…Hedges concern is not…for sex workers, or for women being trafficked, but for himself.  Looking at sex workers, or thinking about sex workers, leads him to a hideous, exciting dream of his own violation…

Worse Than I Thought (#520)

Might be“?  Try again, Emily:

Senate Democrats and Republicans have been bickering since last week over whose fault it is that they’re now fighting over abortion in what had been a popular, bipartisan human trafficking bill…Democrats say Republicans slipped anti-choice language into the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (JVTA) that would expand the already onerous Hyde Amendment…Republicans say Democrats should have known that the language was in this version of the bill from the start…advocates don’t think the JVTA is worth trying to save in the first place…although the Hyde language is obviously a bad idea, that’s not the only problem with the bill…

Ostara Witch

The apparent path of the sun will cross the celestial equator at 22:45 UTC tonight.  Happy Ostara, Dear Readers, and Blessed Be!

Contract

I am curious whether you or any of your friends has ever signed or formally negotiated any kind of employment contract with the man involved?  My husband and I are considering taking me out of the workplace to keep the house and raise the children, but he’s expressed doubt about my ability to do a good job as a housekeeper because I haven’t in the past while working full-time.  I told him I like the idea of a formal contract, so that we have expectations on both sides absolutely laid out, but he sort of rolled his eyes and said it wouldn’t have “legal weight.”

Willy Wonka contractWhether such a contract would have any legal weight depends a great deal on where you are.  Prenuptial agreements are very enforceable in some jurisdictions, while in others they’re very easy to break; in Louisiana a court once declared them null and void on the grounds that only the legislature can define the conditions of legal marriage (I do not know if this decision was later reversed).  And in New York, unusual and even extreme conditions are relatively common in the prenuptial agreements of the wealthy.  If I were you I would consult a local marriage & family law expert to find out what the legal landscape for such agreements is like where you live.

It’s interesting that you asked me this question, because sex workers’ situation is if anything exactly the opposite; our contracts with our clients are understood rather than spelled out, and spoken rather than written.  Even if a whore made such a contract, it wouldn’t be enforceable anywhere in the US due to criminalization.  Where our work is legal sex workers can usually expect the police and courts to give our agreements a similar level of respect as they would give other informal contracts, and where it is decriminalized we have the same legal recourse for a broken contract as anyone else.  This is but one of the reasons decriminalization is so vital to the rights and safety of sex workers, but I’m sure you’ll agree it’s an important one; the enforcement of contracts is one of the few legitimate functions of government, and denying it to sex workers makes our work far more precarious and dangerous.

(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.)

The text of Eden folded seamlessly into the curriculum of U.S.-based anti-sex trafficking efforts with its images of taped mouths, chained wrists risen toward the heavens, “in our own backyard” and “stolen innocence” messages, and the idea that the average age of sex trafficked girls in the U.S. is age 13.  –   Kari Lerum

A Tale That Grew in the Telling

The only interesting thing about this tired rehash is that its fake numbers aren’t nearly as absurd as usual:

In 2010, there were 50,000 victims of human trafficking identified, with many more still being forced to…sell sex. But even the experts admit, the number of victims is difficult to quantify and largely unknown…Of…eight human trafficking cases, [Louisiana] prosecutors…[managed to win] only one [conviction]…

Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (#134)

One of the women who is suing the police after discovering that her former boyfriend was an undercover…[cop] has found a tracking device in her car…The woman – known as Lily – had a two-year relationship with Mark Kennedy without knowing his real identity.  She is part of a group of women taking legal action against the police for the emotional trauma they suffered after forming intimate relationships with men who were later revealed to be spies…the German newspaper Die Tageszeitung reported that a tracking device – wrapped in tape – was found near a wheel of her car…while she was at a conference…in Spain to discuss surveillance and censorship…

Profit from Panic 

The rescue industry is getting so successful it now has mergers and acquisitions:  “The Elizabeth Smart Foundation and Operation Underground Railroad have announced that they will now be working hand-in-hand in a joint effort to save children by merging the two organizations…

Worse Than I Thought

The [Utah] Legislature passed a bill…that would clarify that a person is guilty of prostitution not only when engaging in sexual activity with another for money but also for trade of goods…

Profound Ignorance 

Another astonishingly-stupid “study” produces predictably-stupid results:

Researchers with Mount Royal University and The Hindsight Group…[released] findings from a survey of men who were ordered to attend…“John schools”…66%…watched online pornography by the age of 15…67%…viewed online sites before venturing out to purchase sexual encounters…58%…said the Internet has made it more difficult for them to quit paying for sex…they’ve laid the groundwork for further investigation into prevention models that curb the demand for sex trade workers…

monkeysFor those who know nothing about the social sciences, here are a couple of hints: a “captive audience” is going to produce badly skewed results, and assuming the conclusion before the data is even recorded isn’t very likely to result in anything resembling actual data.

Diary of a Sad Man

In the coming weeks, the UK will see what must be a legal first – someone suing for libel over claims that they are not a former prostitute.  The development has come in the legal drama surrounding Dr Brooke Magnanti, who…[wrote] under the nom de plume “Belle de Jour” about her secret life as a £300-an-hour call girl, and her ex-lover Owen Morris…The adventures of Belle de Jour spawned the long-running TV series Secret Diary of a Call Girl, starring Billie Piper.  But in 2013, Morris – known as “The Boy” in Magnanti’s book The Intimate Adventures of a Call Girl– claimed she had lied about her history as an escort and sued for defamation and breach of privacy.  Morris claims that…his career has been damaged by the…revelation of her true identity…Magnanti is now counter-suing.  She claims that Morris’ assertions that she was never a prostitute are defamatory to her reputation…

Schadenfreude (#429) 

An in-depth analysis of how Eden and its ilk harm sex workers:

Does it matter when popular stories about “sex trafficking” are based on half-truths, junk science, and/or religious beliefs?…it is critical that we face the consequences of stories told in the name of rescuing girls and women…many individuals still derive most of their knowledge about human trafficking from sensationalistic media stories about so-called “sex trafficking….Hollywood action-adventure characterizations of victims and villains are deployed; complex structural problems are squeezed into personal morality tales; and the stories are then used by anti-sex work politicians and activists to justify heightened forms of criminal punishment.  While the stories may have popular appeal, evidence suggests that more criminalization actually hurts all sex workers across the continuum of privilege and oppression…

An Example To the West (#504)

A campaign by Thai authorities to crack down on human trafficking has led to the arrests…of…as many as 150 refugees and asylum seeker…Pakistan-based media and some Christian groups say the number may be as many as several hundred.  Among those arrested were people fleeing religious persecution and sectarian violence in Pakistan…

The Mote and the Beam (#510)

It’s interesting to compare coverage of the same “sex trafficking” story from two different media outlets. The Christian Science Monitor tells us:

…the women of the Senate…decided to take on the “despicable, vile issue of human trafficking”…Sex trafficking crosses party lines…the House passed a dozen, bipartisan anti-trafficking bills…about 300,000 American children are at risk of being trafficked…it can happen to anyone.  The average age is 11 to 14 years old…[cop] Michael Ferjak…[denied the agency of adult women and said] “We must…stop thinking that a 14-year-old can actually [think]”…

While in Reason, Noah Berlatsky writes:

According to the logic of many lawmakers, those engaged in prostitution are always victims.  And once you have victims, you need victimizers—people who can be heroically beaten back by courageous law enforcement personnel.  Generally, the victimizers are identified as sex traffickers or pimps.  But a bill from Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) targets another popular bete noire:  classified advertisers…the hope seems to be that negative publicity will cause the site’s owners to shutter Backpage, or at least its “adult” listings section…Kirk’s website throws around numerous frightening and dubious statistics, such as a claim that 300,000 children are “at risk of being trafficked for sex in the United States” every year…The implication, of course, is that the Internet makes prostitution more dangerous and exploitive.  But is it really less safe for women to advertise online than (as one obvious alternative) to work on the street?…

Profound Mental Disabilities (#512) Alissa Afonina

Though the court’s statements and the media coverage of the story both came across as “doing sex work is evidence of brain damage”, Alissa Afonina doesn’t see it that way:

My brain injury is supported by far more than just the sexual symptoms, which is all the media decided to focus on…I have brain scans, countless assessments and [a] history of behavior that is totally congruent with my type of brain injury…I worked…because making that amount of money felt good and I wanted to save as much as I could…

Diary #246

PrintIt hasn’t even begun to let up yet; if anything, last week was even more hectic than the week before.  We’re working on a secondary business venture in addition to the primaries, and though Grace does a good job of holding down the fort while I’m gone there’s still a plethora of issues I have to deal with myself (such as taxes).  That’s not to say it was all a grind; Jae and I still had a lot of fun together, including attending a performance of a burlesque show set to Led Zeppelin music as guests of a friend of hers (in a private box, no less!)  I also sequestered myself for a long night of writing in a room of the Merchant Cafe, a former brothel reputed to be Seattle’s most haunted building; I wasn’t disturbed by any manifestations, but perhaps that’s because I’m not out of place in a brothel.  This week it’s writing, work, interviews, a photo shoot and a dinner party, and that’s just the beginning; I’ve got to get my new routine balanced and settled so I don’t fall badly behind.  Have no fear, dear readers; I’ve always managed it before, even during last year’s three months of touring, so there’s no reason to believe I won’t continue to manage.  But if you want to send me a bit of inspiration in the meantime, I’d certainly be grateful!

Time travels in divers paces with divers persons.  –  William Shakespeare, As You Like It (III,ii)

The two of them lay as still as a statue in bed, their white limbs entwined so extensively that they seemed to have been carved by a master from a single block of marble.  Nearby lay one of their cats, equally still, another statue placed as an accent beside the larger subject.  Even had their position not advertised their last activity before sleep, the various objects on the nightstand and the cast-aside clothes on the floor would have; not that they would’ve been ashamed of that, even if they had been aware of my presence.  The only motion in the room beside my own was that of the ceiling fan above them, and that was only barely perceptible.

I had to stand for what seemed a long while to me, staring at it in order to be sure it was moving at all.  Observing it was no more the point of my trespass into the room than voyeuristically spying on my housemates was; it’s just that I have not yet had this power long enough to have become jaded with it.  Things like the sight of two beautiful women frozen in embrace, or a fan’s blades moving so slowly that to a casual glance they seem motionless, are still so strange and fascinating to me that I can’t help but stop and take them in.  I also find myself tiptoeing in such situations, despite the fact that it’s completely unnecessary; any sound I made would be so momentary and so highly-pitched it would be a wonder if they heard it at all.

clock closeupCrossing the room took a few seconds to my perception, but how much time was it really?  I can’t be exactly sure, except that I can fit several minutes of activity between two ticks of a clock.  Where the power came from, or where it will lead me, I have no idea; all I know is that a short course of meditation allows me to access this accelerated state, and that I have no trouble maintaining it for as long as I like.  There do seem to be some limits on the power; for example, it’s very difficult to move large objects while I exist between tick and tock.  And that’s why I was passing through the lovers’ room this morning:  I knew their window would be open against the late springtime heat, and their door would be ajar from one or the other of them visiting the bathroom during the night.

Kitty #2 was on the windowsill, glassy eyes fixed on an equally-motionless bird suspended in midair nearby.  She presented no obstacle; I simply slipped past her onto the fire escape and then made my way spider-like down the wall.  There was no other way to get to the ground; I had discovered the hard way that gravity worked no more quickly on me than it did on the bird or any other object, so if I tried to jump down I would simply hang there in space until I decided to move back into normal time.  But the roughness of the brick wall was enough for me to pull myself down with, and I could go up as easily as down for the same reason.

The street below was already busy even at this hour, but that made little difference to me; the cars were as motionless as everything else, so I could move in any direction I liked, right down the middle of the street if I wanted to, without regard for traffic.  My destination was miles away, but I had no choice other than walking it; pedaling a bicycle, as I had discovered earlier, is utterly exhausting when accelerated.  No matter; I’m a strong walker, and to achieve today’s goal I would’ve been willing to walk clear across the city if need be.  Furthermore, I’ve done this every day for several weeks now, except for the days when the rain created a curtain of suspended droplets that’s almost as hard to move through as if I were walking underwater.  I know the route well, and have already discovered several shortcuts unavailable to those who can be seen by others.

Over a high brick wall lay my final destination; it was no harder to climb than the wall outside my own place, despite the spikes on top.  And then down into the courtyard, and into my hiding place in the shed.  I took the time to make myself comfortable, knowing I might have a relatively long wait in real time; my quarry did not visit here every morning, but when he did he always left around the same time.  And less than an hour ago, the remote camera I concealed here earlier this week had already alerted me to his presence.  There’s no way I could have possibly made it here in time moving at normal speed, and no way I could’ve entered the walled garden without attracting attention even if I did; but for one with my talents, both were child’s play.

camera lensComing back into normal time, I set up the digital camera to record the Great Man’s departure from his mistress’ home; it seemed like forever before he left, though it was probably no more than twenty minutes at the outside.  I started recording as soon as I heard the door open, and the champion of Family Values and sworn enemy of whores obligingly made my mission a success by giving his lady friend a passionate kiss on the threshold.  My excitement made it difficult to achieve the meditative state necessary to going back into accelerated time, but I managed it soon enough; I then returned the way I had come, over the wall and across the miles and into the alley behind my own home, scaling the wall in blatant disregard for the feeble efforts of gravity to pull me back down to the pavement.  The cat must have lost interest in the goings-on outside at some point in the last half-hour, because she was no longer on the sill; the lovers, however, were still exactly where I had left them, though one had thrown a proprietary hand over the other’s nipple as if to conceal it from the unconsciously-sensed intruder in the room.

Kissing their still, silent faces was the one deviation I allowed myself from strict propriety before slipping out, unseen and unheard; I then returned to my room, returned to normal time and connected the cable so my computer could download the footage while I returned to bed.  It was still absurdly early for us, and I was tired from both the exertion and the excitement; but more importantly, I wanted my brain to be well-rested when I sat down to draft the blackmail letter.

 

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