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In the News (#703)

Everyone knows that before ubiquitous internet porn, puberty-racked adolescents walked uphill both ways to and from school and never saw themselves as sexual beings.  –  Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Think of the Children! 

The subjects of moral panics are always “worse than ever”, yet somehow never reach the point of saturation:

A Hillfields [wanker] says prostitution in the area is worse than ever…Steve Bowen…[claims] residents have witnessed women waiting for business near the nearby school and used condoms have been found outside flats.  But despite the ongoing problem, only four arrests have been made since September 2014…Bowen says…“We have so many children who live round here and to see someone offering their services is life-changing…that is absolutely traumatic to a child…The social disruption they cause is engraved in the community.  The damage they cause to other people is never ending”…

“Life-changing”?  “Social disruption”?  I sometimes wonder if these people are even talking about the same thing.  Like maybe he’s using the word “prostitution” to mean “cops beating someone up” or something like that.

Lying Down With Dogs

What wonderful company the US is in!

An Iranian official has called for the sterilization of female sex workers and homeless drug addicts in Tehran to prevent “social harm”.  Siavash Shahrivar, head of the Social and Cultural Affairs Department in the Tehran Governorate, said those women should be “convinced” to undergo sterilization…”with her own approval, and not forcefully…Over 20 percent of them have AIDS and [they] spread various diseases…In addition to…spreading depravity, they reproduce like hatching machines and as their children have no guardians, they sell them”…

The Red Umbrella boot-cast-guy-who-attacked-sex-worker

In the US, she would’ve been arrested if she reported this:

[Toronto] police are searching for a male suspect wanted in the vicious assault and robbery of a female sex worker…on [December 29th]…After choking the woman unconscious…he…tied her up.  When she awoke, he demanded cash…he…is…approximately 25 years of age, at least six-foot-three with a thin build.  He has wavy red hair, a straggly beard and a light complexion with freckles.  He also has a boot cast on his right foot…

The Widening Gyre

“Sex trafficking” hysteria is now almost pure self-parody:

Eighteen-year-old Maddy’s family say they are terrified she is being “groomed” by a [19-year-old] in Argentina and are worried she is going to be sold as a sex slave!  Maddy’s mom, Tonia, says Maddy met…Andres, through a video game 13 months ago and ever since then, she’s been determined to fly to Argentina and start a new life with a man she has never met in person…Andres has promised her a place to live, money to spend, and…[assistance] with…schooling…Maddy says the reason she came on the Dr. Phil show is so she can prove her family wrong…she knows there is no way her online boyfriend is [a] sex trafficking criminal…

I love the way her dad declares Argentina is “known for human trafficking”, presumably because he saw it on TV or something.

The Public Eye 

It’s always heartening to see a sex worker run for office, especially when she wins:

A small Brazilian city, Manacapuru, recently made headlines after a local prostitute, Francisca da Silva, was elected deputy to the local municipality.  The candidacy…was put forward by local residents as a sign of protest against the city’s mayor Jaziel Tororó…The woman who started working as a prostitute when she was 11 earned about [$3] per client.  Starting next week, her salary will be about $2,300.  Silva currently lives with her parents and three children aged 6 to 10 years in a hut with wooden walls and a zinc roof.  After her election, she promised to distribute free food for prostitutes on the streets…

Moving Pictures 

To hear these yo-yos ranting, you’d swear this was this film had magic powers and was the only one ever made on the subject rather than one of dozens:

The digital version of SOLD…[was] released on January 10, the day before the Human Trafficking Awareness Day…a shorter PG-13 version of the film can be purchased or leased for screenings at schools, faith-based communities and corporations…The film tells the [fictional] story of a 13-year-old-girl, who is trafficked from rural Nepal to a prison brothel in India in order to repay her family’s debts…The movie has won [7 participation trophies]…at International Film Festivals…Since its release in 2014, the film’s creators have joined hands [to sing Kumbaya while standing on a lawn] with the Taught Not Trafficked campaign…The global average age of trafficked children is 13…“The International Labor Organization estimates that over 5.5 million children disappear every year into sex and labor slavery- more than at any other time in human history,” the press release said…

Cooties (#613)

It’s always “gangs”.  Because you know women are too stupid to use AirBnB for ourselves:

Police are warning owners of holiday lets in the south-west of England to beware of sex workers using their premises as pop-up brothels…Owners have no idea that their…properties have been used in the sex trade…Insp Dave Meredith, sector inspector for Newquay, has concerns that sex workers from central and eastern Europe may have been trafficked into the UK by organised gangs.  Meredith…said it was difficult to disrupt the scams…

Because renting a rental property and causing no trouble for the owner is a “scam”.

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (#639)

Note that pigs use the same tactics to harass migrant sex workers whether they’re portrayed as “job-stealing” aliens or pathetic victims:

While most people in Jakarta were watching fireworks displays on New Year’s Eve, Immigration officials put on a show for the media, inviting them to film as they did a raid on the Sun City nightclub…during which they detained 76 Chinese women for allegedly working in Indonesia illegally as sex workers…Indonesian social media has recently been filled with rumors that Chinese workers were coming to the archipelago to steal work from locals…News of the Chinese women’s arrest seems to have been taken by some as a form of validation…They face likely deportation though it is possible they could receive up to 5 years in jail for breaking Indonesian immigration laws.

Morality Lessons (#640)

The “progressives” have given religious fanatics a powerful censorship tool:  declare anything a “public health crisis” and it can be harassed at will:

A lawmaker in Virginia has filed a bill that would declare pornography a public health hazard in the state…Robert G. Marshall [fantasizes that]…pornography leads to problems including the hypersexualization of teenagers and the normalization of abuse of women and children.  While not calling for a ban on porn, the proposed bill [imagines] a “pornography epidemic” [which] needs to be addressed…

Utah has moved on to step two, using civil courts to attack since the target isn’t illegal:

…Todd Weiler…who sponsored last year’s porn resolution, said he will soon introduce new legislation that would allow Utah residents who imagine themselves addicted to porn to sue the websites where they watch it.  “I’m trying to kind of track the same path that was taken against tobacco 70 years ago,” [said] Weiler…this silly “porn as public health crisis” meme seems to now be spreading to other states, egged on by folks at the group formerly known as Morality in Media

The Prudish Giant (#641) fountain-of-neptune

Facebook can’t even follow its own “standards”:

…Facebook has famously waged war on the female breast…But it’s not just breasts that offend: so do the sculpted genitalia of Roman gods.  An Italian art historian was reportedly told…to remove an image from her page showing a statue of the Roman god Neptune…Elisa Barbari used the image as an example of “Stories, curiosities and views of Bologna.”  But Neptune was deemed too explicit…[even though] …“We also allow photographs of paintings, sculptures, and other art that depicts nude figures”…

Business As Usual (#664)

The final tally for 2016: 80% of all acts of violence vs sex workers in Hong Kong were inflicted by cops:

Abuse of prostitutes is on the rise and police officers are mostly responsible, according to…Zi Teng, which offers support for prostitutes…[out of] 615 reports of physical and ­verbal abuse…police were reported on 490 occasions…abuses…[included] 225 cases of [groundless] arrest…100 cases of [repetitive harassment]…11 cases [of rape]…17 [cases in which the cop used threats to obtain hand jobs]…making verbal threats and insults (57)…[sexual] assaults (three) and physical…assault…(three)…clients were accused of 125 abuses…Among them were theft (56 cases), removing a condom during sex (seven), [rape via] denial of payment (19), fraud (six) and one of [forcible] rape…

Presumption of Guilt (#684)

Remember the fascist bootlicker who wanted to eliminate high-denomination currency?  Well, India actually did that, and guess who it hurt the most?

A recent announcement which has seen two highest value bank notes in India (Rs 500 and Rs 1000) demonetised has had wide reaching impacts on many communities.  Demonesation means the bank notes are no longer legal to use.  Sex workers, women, hijra [trans people], refugees and rural poor people are reportedly amongst those standing to be most negatively affected.  The demonetisation policy was abruptly announced on 8 November 2016 with Prime Minister Narendra Modi stating the two cash notes would “not be legal tender from midnight tonight.”  An initial 30 December 2016 deadline was given for those able to present proper identity documents to bring the cash to banks or post offices for exchange or depositing into accounts…The Usha Multipurpose Cooperative Bank…announced it would accept the demonetised notes for a short interim period as the new policy came into place…

The End of the Beginning (#687)

Another setback for due process:

…a federal appeals court upheld a Minnesota program that indefinitely detains sex offenders after they have completed their prison sentences under the guise of treating them for mental illnesses invented by the state legislature…U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank concluded that the Minnesota Sex Offender Program (MSOP) violates the due process rights of the people it imprisons…he…correctly perceived that the “treatment” provided by the MSOP, which has never cured anyone in the program’s 23-year history, is a sham used to conceal a punitive purpose and justify preventive detention based on unsubstantiated fears of future crimes…According to the 8th Circuit, none of that matters, because all the state had to do was avow good intentions…

Diary #341

selfiecamera_2016-12-28-18-27-57-476Grace went back to the ranch last Wednesday, and today I’m the one leaving Seattle for my tour.  If you haven’t booked an appointment yet it’s too late to take advantage of the special, but I’m still available at my normal rate and I have availability in Portland, Los Angeles and Los Vegas (and I could probably make time for one in Albuquerque).  I’m thinking of shortening my return trip by a day so as to stay overnight in Salt Lake City instead of Denver, so if you’re in Denver and want to see me you need to speak up soon!  I’m pretty excited about the trip; I’ll get to see some friends I don’t get to see often, plus this is my first keynote address ever!  And though I don’t really enjoy driving such long distances, it doesn’t really bother me either.  The only thing that bothers me (besides being away from the people I love in Seattle, of course) is that I’m a bit wary of driving over both the Rockies and the Cascades in January.  But Grace got me a set of snow chains, so I’ll just be careful, watch the weather and hope I don’t have to use them, and I’ll be back two weeks from tomorrow or thereabouts!

Dr. Kate Lister runs the wonderful, informative and entertaining Whores of Yore Twitter account, and when she recently decided to start a website to go with it I invited her to tell my readers about it.  Kate’s mission is much the same as mine: to demystify and destigmatize sex work by improving communication between sex workers and the general public.

whores-of-yore-logoLast month, on International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers (2016), I launched the Whores of Yore website; it was the culmination of a year’s hard work on a wonderful project that took me completely unawares.  Whores of Yore grew out of a Twitter feed, that grew out of a research project on medieval sexuality, that grew out of a PhD into women and medievalism.  I am a post-doctoral researcher at Leeds Trinity University (UK) and was reading into medieval attitudes surrounding sexual sin, when I found a London court record from 1340 of two “notorious strumpets”; Alice Strumpette and Clarice la Claterballock.  I thought that was just wonderful.  The wry wit in the aliases made me laugh, as I am sure they were supposed to.  But, beyond being funny, the fact that such names would be adopted said more about sex work in the fourteenth century then many academic texts I have read; there was a real humanity to it.  I started the Twitter feed @WhoreofYore to share snapshots of history like that.

I had not foreseen any interest in the feed, but very quickly the followers grew and online articles began to be published about the content.  I started getting feedback from followers who were reacting to the material I was posting in ways I could have never predicted.  Twitter is a great leveller; your voice is on an equal footing with everyone else, and the feedback is instant.  In the beginning, getting daily, uncensored and anonymous feedback about your work is daunting, but I learnt to listen, to respond and serve.  I do get trolled, but follower feedback also made the feed better; it encouraged me to break away from a western focus, include more trans voices and bring in a daily dose of #HistoricalHottie (photographs of handsome men from history to balance up the eye-candy on offer).  But, what changed my research was that Twitter allowed me to engage directly with the sex worker community.  Suddenly, the history I was researching was no longer dead and buried; it was correcting my terminology on Twitter, and calling me a cunt when I got things wrong.  Without realising it, I had been guilty of viewing sex work only through a historical, academic lens; it wasn’t real to me.  But when a sex worker from Australiawhores-of-yore-screencap made contact with me to say she enjoyed the feed, but please could I stop using the word “prostitute” and use “sex worker” instead, I finally got it.  History is powerful because it frames contemporary debate, but it is not to be archived away and accessible only to (well meaning) academics; it should engage with lives today.  I was using the word “prostitute” in a clinical, academic way, but that perpetuated narratives that exists outside of historical research and the ivory tower.  That was the moment that I saw a project that could make history relevant to contemporary issues.  I wanted @WhoresofYore to facilitate an active process of feedback, reciprocal communication and attribution between sex workers, historians, activists, and anyone else who had a view to express.

As sex workers are stigmatised, often criminalized people, historically, they have had little opportunity to speak without intermediaries.  Rather, their stories and voices have been assumed by journalists, activists, and academics (like myself – the irony is not lost on me).  However, with the advent of social media platforms, this is rapidly changing; social media has allowed sex workers a public voice, a space to engage with those speaking for them and about them, like never before.  Online sex worker communities have been formed, alliances made and agendas set.  “Nothing about us without us” is the mantra of the sex worker rights movement; the web and social media provide a platform for the sex worker voice to be heard, and invited academics to genuinely listen to the group they research.  I wanted to build on this dynamic with a website and further bridge the gap between academic, historical research, and the sex worker voice; I hoped the website would create a space that enabled a process of democratisation and facilitate a discussion, rather than a lecture into the study and history of sexuality.

I wanted the website to feature articles on the history of sexuality and sex workers, but to retain an emphasis on sexuality and contemporary voices.  To that end, I created a several article sections: sex history, sex talk, sex worker voices, LGBT History, politics and the law and an interactive timeline of sex workers throughout history.  I put out a call for article submissions on the Twitter feed, and articles started to roll in.  I have been extremely fortunate and BASIS Yorkshire (a charity who work with street sex workers and some of the most vulnerable members of the sex work community) have agreed to write a monthly blog about their work.  BASIS is very private and protective of the people they work with, so to be able to facilitate a space for them is a real honour.  I also have a sex therapist, Drew Lawson, who is regularly blogging on the site and answering all kinds of questions about sexuality.  I work with the archivist at Delta of Venus, the web’s largest collection of vintage erotica, to bring a selection of historical pornographic images.

kate-listerBut, this is only the beginning.  So far, the project has been entirely self-funded, but I am looking into investment to grow.  The project will expand to include podcasts, vlogging and interviews with historians, activists, members of the sex work community, and those who feel they are marginalised by their sexuality.  The history of sexuality will be placed side by side with sexuality today in the hope we can join up some of those conversations.  The purpose of this archive is not to create a goldfish bowl for others to stare into, but to provide a platform and invite people to share their experience and story; if you have an article to bring to the conversation, please email me.  Shame and stigma are broken down through conversation, and when we listen to one another; I hope that’s what this project can play a part in.  As Shannon L. Alder once wrote, “Never be ashamed of who you are.  True shame always belongs to the person that enjoys being ashamed of who you are.”

Links #340

Says he’s got a thing about burnin’ witches
Ooh, some of these were mighty fine bitches.
– Carl Douglas

Some of you may remember the catchy 1974 hit “Kung Fu Fighting” by Carl Douglas, who was apparently a movie fan because he also wrote & recorded “Witchfinder General”, inspired by the Vincent Price film about Matthew Hopkins.  The video was called to my attention by Jesse Walker, who also provided “cities”; the other links above the video are from Scott GreenfieldTim Cushing (x2),  ClarissaSkye, and Dave Krueger, in that order.

From the Archives

In the News (#702)

We can’t…afford to waste public safety dollars on a problem that doesn’t exist.  –  Springfeld News-Leader editorial board

Surplus Women 

The two “real” women are named, but sex workers are subhuman so “teen hooker” is good enough:

Khalil Wheeler-Weaver, 20, is under investigation for the slaying of a teenage Philadelphia hooker whose burned body was left inside an abandoned building in Orange, N.J…Wheeler-Weaver…is already accused of strangling two other women: Joanne Browne…and…Sarah Butler…

Imagination Pinned Down

She has “big chunks of…memory gone”.  So she just filled the spaces with blatant lies:

Ontario’s first director of its anti-human-trafficking office brings to the job…first-hand insight, [claiming to have] lived through the experience herself.  “I was trafficked at 13,” Jennifer Richardson says…“I actually…have pretty big chunks of my memory gone…When you think of kids at 13, that’s the perfect stage to offend against children in this way…when you look at the stats worldwide, that’s one of the … stats that stays the same, no matter what country you look at the literature in: 13 1/2 is the average age of entry in every country”…

Obviously, among the missing “chunks” are basic arithmetic skills & the ability to read studies.

The Pygmalion Fallacy (#30) kissenger

Well, at least this new version doesn’t look as ridiculous as the prototype did:

Kissenger is a rubbery-looking dock that humans put their phones in.  It has a tactile surface they depress with their meat.  The movements are then transmitted in realtime over the internet, so that a replica of them may be experienced by another human…There’s an app that goes with it so the humans can interact on a audiovisual-discursive level at the same time…”High precision force sensors are embedded under the silicon lip to measure the dynamic forces at different parts of your lips during a kiss.  The device sends this data to your phone, which transmits it to your partner over the Internet in real time.  Miniature linear actuators are used to reproduce these forces on your partner’s lips, creating a realistic kissing sensation.  Kissenger provides a two-way interaction just like in a real kiss“…

Skin To Skin

There are a large number of valid criticisms of this lawsuit, most especially the fact that it’s pushing for legalization rather than decriminalization.  But every attack on the edifice of criminalization helps to hasten its eventual collapse:

Russell Greer…has Mobius syndrome, which means he can’t move his eyes from side to side or close his lips…He says he suffers from anxiety and depression, and has found intercourse to be healing…His only choice—other than taking Amtrak or a plane to Nevada…is to illegally pay for sex in Salt Lake City…On Oct. 18, 2016, Greer…filed a lawsuit against city, county and state officials…for violating his constitutional rights by upholding laws that make sex work illegal…But in his quest to legalize prostitution in Utah, Greer stumbles into territory regarding sex-worker rights, arguments over decriminalization and language that highlights just how complex, nuanced and fraught the struggle over privacy and sexual rights continues to be, despite recent landmark legal decisions that opened the door to same-sex marriage and polygamy legalization…

Dark Corners

Keep in mind that despite many huge and expensive raids, the UK has never found more than a single-digit number of cases of genuine exploitation; these are actually just immigration raids cloaked under the pretense of “rescue”:

…97 people have been arrested in the U.K. on suspicion of immigration offences after raids on 280 nail bars in London, Cardiff and Edinburgh…the majority of those arrested [are] Vietnamese nationals.  The [pogrom] also [arrested] people of Mongolian, Ghanaian, Chinese, Nigerian, Pakistani and Indian origin….[as] part of a Home Office…campaign named “Operation Magnify”…targeting [migrant-owned businesses] to “root out illegal working”…[using the excuse of so-called] modern slavery…The Home Office stated that victims of trafficking [of which none were found] will be offered support, while “those who have no right to be in the UK will be removed”…

Traffic Circle

Remember how last Monday I predicted public funds for anti-whore hate groups would start to dry up?

State legislators have…started to [fear-monger] about the dangers of human trafficking in Missouri…[but] such cases are incredibly rare in Springfield…We may feel in our gut that there’s more trafficking going on in Springfield than we know about…but we should understand that our instincts don’t equal facts, and…we’re not a community that can afford to waste public safety dollars on a problem that doesn’t exist…

Paint By Numbers (#593)

On the one hand, I’m disappointed that stupid “sex trafficking” stunts are being recycled. On the other hand…well, see for yourself:

Kyle Pipes wore a thin cotton dress with a blue paisley print pattern.  Pipes, a minister at Eastern Hills Bible Church in Manlius [New York went around in drag]…as part of the national Dressember campaign…[while cross-dressing] Pipes [also fantasizes that] there’s over…30 million people enslaved worldwide…

I guess the dress makes it easier for him to reach under & wank to his “sex slave” fantasy whenever he feels the need.

To Molest and Rape

Once again: If you think it matters whether a cop was wearing his magical clown costume when he raped someone, you are part of the problem:

A Texas [cop] was arrested [for]…repeatedly sexually assaulting his girlfriend’s 13-year-old daughter…the mother…discovered that the 13 year old had been texting lewd photos to…Jesus Gonzalez at his request…the girl revealed…that Gonzalez had sex with her more than 20 times between September and mid-December.  Gonzalez told the teen that he wanted to marry her…


“I want to marry you” is an even older line than “I’m going to rescue you”:

A…Vancouver police detective, who in 2015 received a special citation for his work on a sexual exploitation investigation, has been charged with sexual exploitation.  Det. Const. James Fisher was arrested…and faces three counts of sexual exploitation, one count of sexual assault, one count of breach of trust and one count of attempt to obstruct justice…He was the lead investigator in…human trafficking investigation[s]…

It Looks Good On Paper (#677)

This is nothing but a partisan wanking fantasy; what this law actually does is empower the cops to indefinitely detain underage sex workers “for their own protection”:

Beginning on Jan. 1, prostitution by minors will be legal in California…teenage girls (and boys) in California will soon be free to have sex in exchange for money without fear of arrest or prosecution.  This terribly destructive legislation was written and passed by the progressive Democrats who control California’s state government…Immunity from arrest means law enforcement can’t interfere with minors engaging in prostitution — which translates into bigger and better cash flow for the pimps.  Simply put, more time on the street and less time in jail means more money for pimps, and more victims for them to exploit…

One Born Every Minute (#681)

I hope this rapist scum is both bankrupted and imprisoned:

The Washington State Attorney General’s Office…filed a most unusual consumer protection lawsuit — charging a Seattle man with running a scheme for nearly a decade where he set up a fake talent agency for adult entertainers in order to trick women into posing nude and having sex with him.  Michael-Jon Matthew Hickey is accused of creating a fictitious business and using deceptive ads with bogus employment offers to find his victims…Hickey offered and advertised commercial services solely for his “own personal gain” and to “satisfy his sexual desires” with no intention of following through on the promised services to help these women find jobs.  Hickey…is charged with numerous violations of the Washington Consumer Protection Act and the Commercial Electronic Mail Act…In October, Hickey was charged with three counts of rape. He’s currently behind bars in the King County Jail in Seattle…

Checklist (#685)

Ladies, please heed my warning against using Uber unless you actually want to be “rescued” into jail:

A teenage girl is [in jail] after an…Uber driver helped rescue her from a suspected sex trafficking ring.  While he didn’t know it at the time, he was taking a young girl, her pimp and another person to a job.  But when they started openly discussing their plans in the car, the driver knew he had to [rat them out to the pigs]…Kevin Avila…picked up three female passengers…“I saw her legs are really long and she was a really young girl,” he said…The conversation turned to the how-tos of solicitation…Avila dropped off his passengers, then called police…He listened in depth and…even know what room they were going to…

Add to our list of “signs of sex trafficking”:  having long legs.  It’s a wonder I’m not “rescued” every time I leave the house.

An Example to the West (#698) 

Can you imagine American feminists criticizing a cop’s anti-whore fantasies?

Vishwas Nangre-Patil…has always been known for being progressive…Which is why his patriarchal misogyny at a recent press conference…came as a shocker [to people who don’t understand what progressivism actually is].  Announcing a crackdown operation against sex workers he wanted to know why they can’t work hard.  “They should be [forced] to make and sell pickles and papads instead of their bodies,” he [bloviated]…An activist [responded]…“Will he be able to match the corporate markets that sell papads and pickles?  And we are not even talking about matching a sex worker’s daily income here.”  All ears sir for your response.  Hopefully you’ll give the patriarchal conservatism a rest…

Power Play (#701)

The author of this article believes in a lot of the “sex trafficking” mythology, but seems to basically understand that going after websites is asinine:

…California Attorney General Kamala Harris filed new criminal charges against Backpage.com [officials]…after a Sacramento judge tossed out earlier pimping charges…While most advertisements posted in the “Escorts” section on Backpage.com likely come from [sex workers, fetishists pretend many]…sex traffickers…are posting others…If Backpage.com closes, the commercial sex advertisements will most likely be displaced to an alternative online platform…this crusade against Backpage.com is futile and could actually further inhibit America’s anti-trafficking efforts…while the majority of current cases may involve Backpage, this could simply be because the website is the primary [site] being used by [pigs to deceive people]…

purple-befana
If you don’t understand why I post a picture of a sexy witch on this occasion, I suggest you consult my column from two years ago today.  And this time I was fortunate enough to find one dressed in purple, which makes her appropriate for the carnival season as well!  But whichever holiday you celebrate today and whatever you may call it, I wish you a very happy one.

Live fast ’cause it won’t last.  –  Chris Stein & Debbie Harry

In Monday’s column “Crystal-Gazing” I wrote, “I don’t think it’s likely I’ll be around to see [the mid 2030s], but many of you will be.”  Several readers asked me why I believed I wouldn’t make it to that point; after all, I’d only have to live to 70, and the average white American woman born in the 1960s lives to about 75.  Now, I could point out that statistically, my chance of dying before 70 is roughly equal to my chance of living past 80, but that wouldn’t quite be true; a lot of the reason the life expectancy keeps increasing is that infant mortality keeps decreasing, so anyone who survives childhood isn’t statistically likely to live as much longer than her ancestors as it might appear just from looking at those life expectancy figures.  Also, most of the female members of my family live into their ’80s, even if the male ones have an odd tendency to die under strange and often newsworthy circumstances (ask me about that if we ever get drunk together).  That having been said, a fair number of relatives of both sexes have contracted cancer or more-exotic terminal diseases, some of them at early ages (like the maternal uncle who died of leukemia in his late teens), and I’ve had several close brushes with sudden death (two of them of the “hushed-nurse-saying-I-shouldn’t-be-alive” variety), so I don’t think my familial or personal life expectancy is quite as high as that of the general population.

And thereby hangs the tale.  As I’ve stated before, I have absolutely no intention of ever enduring chemotherapy; if I develop cancer I’m going to seek out palliative care, put my affairs in order and let the disease take its course.  I’ve seen more than my share of people I love spending their last days hooked to machines in sterile institutions, dying in infernal contraptions surrounded by shouting doctors and nurses pounding on their chests and shooting chemicals into their veins, or electrically shocking their soon-to-be-corpses, instead of expiring quietly in their own beds surrounded by loved ones.  So I have a DNR order; if it’s respected I will die when I die rather than being dragged violently back across the threshold because mere humans have decided I’m not allowed to leave this plane yet.  Furthermore, though the more strictly-rational among my readers may scoff, I’ve never claimed to be strictly rational; my several close brushes with death (and a frank assessment of the chances I have taken in the past and those I continue to take on a regular basis) have led me to feel that I’m living on borrowed time, and Death knows that “when he at last come to collect me it will be a rendezvous rather than a capture“.  Death and I are old friends; he was gracious enough not to interrupt my work before it was done, and it’s the least I can do to return that favor when the time comes.  He’s passed me by on several occasions when he probably should have taken me, and I’m not such a fool that I think he’s going to keep doing that indefinitely.

Nor would I want him to.  I’ve clearly stated my philosophy on this subject many times, including in my fiction; it’s mortality which gives life meaning, and I think it’s a bit rude for those whose dance is done to keep hogging the floor rather than making “room for the new dancers who are always waiting for their turn.”  And besides all of that, I’m far too independent to be able to enjoy a life of decrepitude and dependence, and far too vain to desire a life in which I’m no longer the object of desire.  The song below has always been among the larger group of my favorites, and I don’t feel any differently about it at 50 than I did at 15; when I go, I want people to still be able to honestly talk about how beautiful I was.  Shallow?  Probably.  Silly?  Maybe.  But my friends will tell you I rarely ask for anything, so I don’t think it’s greedy of me to ask that no one begrudge my wish to not have to endure years or decades of life after the things I like best about it are gone.