Not Your Monkey

behold the fieldI sometimes wonder how narcissists manage to get by in the world unless they’re wealthy or politically influential enough to attract a flock of sycophants eager to tell them that their egocentric weltanschauung is correct.  It must be crushing for them to be reminded on a daily basis that the universe absolutely does not give a shit about them, and that most of their fellow humans care hardly a particle more than that.  Of course, I’m assuming that they aren’t completely delusional; perhaps they go about distorting everything they hear and experience until it supports their own grotesquely-inflated sense of self-importance.  I can’t imagine any other way that some random tweeter with a couple of dozen followers could actually expect a positive response to his demands that I produce citations and links for statements made in 140-character tweets.  Yet I encountered not one but several of these last week; these champions of Not Getting It apparently failed to grasp the difference between a tweet and an academic paper until I none-too-gently reminded them that a tweet looks like this and an academic paper like this.  Narcissists of this sort are neither rare nor focused on me; as I explained in “Spoiled Children“,

Apparently, every last anonymous prohibitionist on the internet believes that I just lie about all day, looking at myself in the mirror and eating bonbons while my staff writes my blog; I therefore surely have unlimited time to refute all of his tinned arguments, look up links for him and restate the content of my entire professional oeuvre in convenient 140-character sound bites.  As I told one such individual recently, I would take as much time with him as necessary if he were a legislator trying to push for decriminalization or a celebrity who planned to advocate it on national TV; I’m sure you won’t be surprised when I tell you that he was offended by the suggestion that he did not have the power to influence millions.  Nor does the relative fame of his target make any difference to such a person; Laura Agustín…wrote a post explaining that no, she couldn’t do students’ research for them, and (despite her stage name being practically a household word) Brooke Magnanti still gets people who are Terribly Offended when she won’t take time out from writing, travelling and public appearances to refute prohibitionist myths for the umpteenth time on Twitter…

But it’s been almost two and a half years since I published that last, so I reckon it’s time for a re-iteration.  This blog is currently composed of almost two thousand posts and almost a hundred pages.  It’s exhaustively indexed and tagged, and can be searched either by WordPress’s own search function or by Google (via the simple expedient of putting “Maggie McNeill” before or behind any topic you wish to look at, like this).  There are also numerous other subtle functionalities designed to tie the blog together, plus a resources page, and the aforementioned Google will bring up beaucoup other sources to support just about anything I assert as fact.  I write this blog in order to advance the cause of individual rights in general and sex workers’ rights in particular, and to have a personal creative outlet.  None of those goals are advanced by wasting even a minute of my increasingly-precious time in spoon-feeding negative, narcissistic nobodies who have neither money nor influence nor anything else to contribute.  So if you’re one of those, please stop expecting me to dance like a monkey at your behest; either take the time to do your research, or else make it worth my while to do it for you.

Links #281

Possession of marihuana [sic] is generally a private behavior; in order to find it, the police many times must operate on the edge of constitutional limitations. Arrests without probable cause, illegal searches and selective enforcement occur often enough to arouse concern about the integrity of the criminal process.  –  Report of the Shafer Commission, 1972

It wasn’t a slow week for links; they’re just all on topics that need to go into the news columns, which as I write this are stacked three deep.  Anyway, I decided to share another movie from the Paramount Vault: King Creole, set in my home town, which most critics agree is Elvis’ best movie.  And the King’s love interest?  A young and stunning Carolyn Jones, best remembered as Morticia Addams.  The links above the flick were provided by Popehat (“boogers” and “19”) and Scott Greenfield (“together”).

From the Archives

In the News (#589)

Laws don’t pay my bills!  –  unnamed Glasgow street worker

Five Women in Whitechapel 

Laura Lee on the appalling blindness of “authorities”:

…The last victim of Jack the Ripper, [Mary] Kelly’s body was so badly mutilated that she could only be identified by her hair and eyebrows…Fast forward 127 years and we have surely progressed a great deal since then in terms of sex worker safety, right?  Well no, actually.  If anything it’s worse.  Following the removal of the tolerance zone for street prostitution in Edinburgh, crimes against sex workers shot up by 95%.  The reason for that is simple, it became known that the police were no longer there to protect the workers, but rather to harass and arrest them, and their clients.  Let’s make a clear distinction for once and all, many attackers of sex workers are not or will never be “sex buyers”.  They are predators, looking for an easy target, and they know that sex workers are alone, vulnerable and highly unlikely to report an attack to the police…152 sex workers have been murdered since 1990.  How many more Mary Kellys must we have before the penny drops that leaving vulnerable people open to attack is not a good policy?

The Lesser of Two Evils Vatican City

If the Church were sanely-run, this article would be true:

The newest leaked information associated with the Vatileaks scandal states that properties owned by the Vatican along Piazza Barberini and the Italian parliament have now been converted to “massage parlours” and saunas, and their patrons are priests.  The leaked document points to the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith…[which] owns and operates numerous properties within Rome.  The properties in question are referred to as “peppercorn rents” and are said to be leased for cheap to “powerful colleagues” of the religious institution…

Check Your Premises

They worked for themselves, but it’s a “ring” and the cops are looking for “pimps”:

Four women have been arrested as part of an alleged prostitution ring operating in Mississippi…Arrested were Anjeni’ Qyanik Moore, 34, of Norfolk, Virginia; Heaven Leigh Nix, 23, of Memphis, Tennessee; Joneka Santrice Burns, 24, of Jackson, Mississippi; and Candace Renee Stewart, 30, of Byhalia, Mississippi…MBI spokesman Warren Strain said the women were working independently and are not believed to be victims of human trafficking.  He declined to say…whether they worked with pimps, citing an ongoing investigation…

Saving Them From Themselves

Lock ’em all up, New York!  Let’s put the entire next generation on the “sex offender” registry!

…17 states have changed their child pornography laws so that teenagers who swap nude photos of themselves with each other are not automatically treated as felons.  One of those states is New York, which makes an exception for images exchanged between people 20 or younger whose ages are no more than five years apart.  In such cases, the “offenders” can avoid criminal charges by undergoing an eight-hour “education reform program” that covers the dangers of sexting and cyberbullying.  Despite that provision, two Long Island teenagers were recently charged with felonies for producing and disseminating a 10-second video showing one of them having sex with a girl…the two boys…are both 14…the boys…were each charged with…disseminating indecent material to minors and promoting a sexual performance by a child…In addition to the two boys who were arrested, 20 students were suspended for receiving the video on their cellphones…

I’m Sure You Feel Safer Now

The cops are happy to serve as an ex’s revenge goons:

A 50-year-old woman…has been sentenced for soliciting prostitution…Marisa Frances Lang pleaded guilty to prostitution in a public place…and to disorderly conduct…Judge Michael A. Fahey…placed Lang on two years of probation.  She was ordered to continue mental health treatment and counseling…and must pay $585 in fines and fees…her ex-husband’s [ratting her out to cops]…led to a sting operation…

Finding What Isn’t There

“Authorities” amazed that an imaginary problem doesn’t materialize in response to their “mandating” that it exists:

…Around the country, pimps…force thousands of…women and girls…into prostitution every day.  Florida has the third highest number of sex trafficking cases…Reformers have argued that prostitutes are victims, not criminals, and more effort should be made to go after human traffickers – the pimps…Despite this new focus, a statewide analysis…found that efforts…to investigate and prosecute sex traffickers have yielded few results…[“rescue” profiteers pretend] the image of the independent prostitute, working for herself and selling sex by choice, is rarely accurate…“I [fantasize] the majority who are in the life have been the victims of trafficking,” said Katariina Rosenblatt, founder of There Is HOPE for Me…

The Widening Gyre 

The “Facebook pimps” myth is one of the silliest of the whole panic:

…Traffickers worldwide are increasingly using social media to contact vulnerable teenagers and sell them into sex work…Once limited to luring victims in the street, traffickers can now message thousands of people through Instagram, Facebook, Kik, Tagged and Twitter, with WhatsApp and Snapchat some of the latest tools in their arsenal.  “If just one of them answers … traffickers can make thousands of dollars off that girl very quickly,” said Andrea Powell, founder and director of FAIR Girls…a growing trend in the United States is to use WhatsApp or Snapchat where messages evaporate over time…Europol…said social media and other online technology have not only taken the recruitment and selling process off the streets but also allow traffickers to control victims using remote surveillance…

Here the magical “pimp” mind-control powers are claimed to be exerted via some mumbo-jumbo fantasy technology.Lucy Steigerwald

Shift in the Wind

Lucy Steigerwald presents a pro-decriminalization argument to a conservative audience:

Unfortunately, while the war on one vice dials back, law enforcement and government fight hard against another supposed danger…these days it sure seems as if the hot new thing to swoon over and vow to “do something” about is prostitution.  Worse than that, it’s prostitution-slash-sex trafficking, vaguely hand-waved together as the same thing…the solution to the latter is to legalize the former.  It’s that easy.  Or it could be, if people would do two things: stop filing trafficking with prostitution, and stop pretending that laws against selling and purchasing sex actually prevent people from selling and purchasing sex…Both hand-wringing liberals and worried social conservatives need to realize that some sex workers—perhaps the vast majority—have no need of rescue.  They need their line of work to be taken out of the black-market shadows.  They need to be left alone…We tend to look back with shame and bafflement at the obviously absurd moral panics that have gripped our society, but only after the damage has been done.  We are in the middle of a sex trafficking panic that not only exaggerates the threat that prostitutes pose to the moral fiber of society but, worse still, makes enormous exaggerations about the number of sex-trafficked (mostly) women and children…

Fever Dream

It’s like they’re not even trying any more:

Law enforcement officials on all levels – from local to international – are working together to crack down on human trafficking, which is a growing problem…[fetishists] call it “modern day slavery,” and it’s happening right here in East Tennessee…pimps…target young girls…on…social media…Interstate 40 is a convenient corridor for sex traffickers…the Community Coalition Against Human Trafficking…[trains] people to recognize victimization…traffickers and pimps employ manipulation…21 of Tennessee’s 95 counties reported at least 16 cases of sex trafficking involving a minor in 2010…

Yes, that’s the same discredited study they’re still quoting despite the fact that it isn’t even supported by the cops’ own records.

Shame, Shame

Here’s a excellent article on the State’s two-faced attitude toward “revenge porn”:

…Sex workers themselves are erased from anti–revenge-porn rhetoric.  Proposed remedies for revenge porn—criminalization of disclosures and liability for third-party websites—fail to address the sex-work stigma that creates repercussions for victims of revenge porn.  When a woman has her Google results bombed with nude photos and fake sex ads, she won’t pass a screening when she tries to get a job—because she’ll be mistaken for a sex worker.  The solution, we conclude, is to remove all possibility of that mistake—rather than to remove what bars a sex worker from getting that job…We propose new criminal statutes and partner with the police, even as the police threaten to post photos of sex workers during “busts” on social media accounts.  These are women who are being locked out of jobs because of nude photos of them on the Internet.  These are women who are being publicly disgraced as sex workers—because they are sex workers…the existence of sex work raises awkward questions about how to define revenge porn, how to understand its harms, and how to most appropriately redress its victims…

Blunt Instrument (#547)

And the gravy train just keeps rolling along:

Victims of human trafficking in Tampa Bay will have more access to legal help thanks to a $600,000 U.S. Department of Justice grant…Some…brothels take the form of what are called massage parlors.  Gulfcoast Legal Services attorney Sophia Lynn Denicolo says they can be hotbeds of human trafficking…

The Public Eye (#557)

Another sex work-positive article in Cosmopolitan.  Hey prohibitionists:  We’re winning.  And there’s not a damned thing you can do about it.

There are a few rules for dating a sex worker:  don’t compromise their cash flow by driving away their business, never out them to other people without their consent, and don’t expect them to eagerly perform activities they normally get paid to do for free…Ask any sex worker how they maintain their boundaries, and you’re in for a long conversation.  Some people develop a working identity that they keep entirely separate from their real-life persona, and others conflate the two.  Many sex workers desperately want to be out but don’t want to endure the invasive questions, or fear that their housing stability or the custody of their children would be compromised…The hardest boundary I’ve had to confront in my romantic relationships is the line between authentic desire in my work, and the “it’s just work” defense…But the world isn’t black-and-white, and while the vast majority of us are not regularly turned on by our work, real connections can happen with scene partners and genuine fun can be had with clients.  So where’s the line?…

Seizing Power (#574)

I’m adding Judge Posner to the very short list of men who can claim a freebie from me anytime they like:

A federal appeals court has ordered the Cook County Sheriff’s Department to cease lobbying major credit card companies that do business with…Backpage.com…At a hearing on Friday, Judge Richard Posner expressed unease with the notion, presented by the sheriff department attorneys, that Dart’s First Amendment rights protected his individual right to express his displeasure with Backpage to the credit card companies…on the sheriff department’s letterhead…“He can use the office of the sheriff to express any antipathy that he has to anything?” Posner posed to the sheriff’ department attorneys.  “So you’re saying there is no limit?  He can express his opinion on his office stationery on any subject that occurs to him.  What if he doesn’t like pets?  He doesn’t think people should have animals in their house.  He can suggest to everyone they euthanize their pets?”  Dart was also directed by the appeals court to send a copy of the order to Visa and Mastercard and all other recipients of the June 29 letter within 24 hours…

The recording is well worth your time, especially the segment from roughly the 18 minute mark to the 30 minute mark.  Dart’s mouthpiece clearly knows she’s spouting drivel, and the judges keep calling her on it.

Sorry, Charlie

I dazedly chose or hired the companionship of unsavory and insipid types. Regardless of their saltless reputations, I always led with condoms and honesty when it came to my condition.  –  Charlie Sheen

By now you’ve probably all heard that Charlie Sheen is HIV positive, and that in his Today show appearance he basically blamed it on sex workers.  He also claims to have “led with condoms” and denies any IV drug use.  Now, I’ve never seen Mr. Sheen professionally, but as it turns out I know someone who did in ’07.  This is her story, exactly as she told it to me yesterday; I have not changed a single word except to correct a few minor typos.  As you will see, it disagrees with two points of his denial of risky behavior; I have heard rumors of another, even riskier behavior, but unless someone is willing to write a firsthand account of that one I am not at liberty to mention it.  Normally, accounts like this one are outside my ethical bounds, but I’m not going to sit idly by while my sisters are blamed for something that they had nothing to do with.

“He’s a major player.  Don’t screw this up.”

That was the injunction issued to me by the booker of my agency in Los Angeles.  Curiosity piqued, I touched up my lipstick and ran down the stairs to get in my driver’s car.  The first words out of his mouth were, “Don’t you have anything more…revealing?”

Exasperated, I replied, “I can’t even sit down in this dress without starting a riot.  What do you want me to wear, a Band Aid?”  My driver informed me that this particular client was a known connoisseur of adult performers, and my chic little black dress was a bit too conservative for his liking.  I asked why he called our agency in the first place; we were a well respected escort service with a strict ” no adult performers” policy.

“He’s used us before.  He’s got money to burn and he’ll take good care of you.  Just don’t be…yourself.”  My driver soared up the Sherman Oaks side of the Hollywood Hills.  We turned into the Mulholland Estates and the guard cheerfully waved us through the gate.  I groaned, since I never had much luck in this neighborhood.  Something always seemed to go wrong.  A couple of muscular gentleman came to the car and told my driver he couldn’t stay.  My driver clearly expected this, patted me on the head and told me to go make money.

Charlie Sheen July 19, 2007Heart sinking, I walked to the garage with the security guards.  They checked my purse for a weapon.  After I passed that, one of them asked me if I knew who I was going to be seeing.  I replied that this wasn’t my first high profile client and certainly wouldn’t be my last.  He looked at me and started laughing.  I batted my lashes and laughed back.  “Oh, he’ll like you.  I’ll walk you up.”  We started the long trek uphill to the house.  The door opened and I heard a man yelling on the phone.  The security guards told me to have fun, and walked out of the foyer.  I heard a thud, as if something was thrown at the wall, and my client descended down the staircase…and his smile dissolved into one big question mark.

“Hi, I’m Charlie.  Nice to meet you.”  He stepped back and said “I expected you to be a little more…endowed?”

“My agency has a model quality guarantee.  If you don’t like me, the cancellation fee is $150, and I’ll go.  No hard feelings.”

I put my hands on my hips and turned to leave.  “No wait.  Please don’t go.  I just didn’t expect someone so…conservative.  You’re really pretty, I just like porn girls better.”  I asked him if he was sure.  He gave me a bear hug and said “Of course I’m sure, gorgeous.  Let’s go upstairs.”

We walked upstairs into a small bedroom.  I could tell by the smell someone had been smoking some form of narcotic.  Porn was playing on one television,baseball on another.  The smell was getting to me.  He watched my nose twitch.  “It’s crack, and I only do a few hits a night.  I try to be a good boy when I’m working.”  He asked me if I partied.  I replied that it depended on what it was.  He flashed his trademark grin and told me he had literally anything I desired.  I politely asked if we could take care of business first.  He turned and unlocked a drawer that had an astonishing amount of cash in it.  The amount he gave me was basically enough to ensure I would be staying a while.  He bragged that two well known adult stars had seen him last night.  I knew one of them, and I asked why he hadn’t called them back tonight.  “Cause I pay them to disappear, sweetheart.  Now come over here and sit on my face.”

Things took a turn for the awkward a few minutes later when he requested bareback.  I explained as delicately as I could that my agency didn’t allow that, and I personally preferred to use condoms as well.  He took the news in stride, but it was clear the condoms were interfering with things.  We proceeded to engage in other forms of contact.  After he finished, it was clear he didn’t hold it against me.  I cleaned him up, cleaned myself up, and I asked him what his call time was.  “Early!” he laughed.

I asked him if he wanted me to leave, and he gripped my hand and said he really wanted me to stick around longer.  I said that was just fine, and asked if I could party with him.  He located my drug of choice on the table and asked if I smoked it,snorted it or shot it.  I asked for a line.  He said most girls he knew smoked it or shot it, and that his nose was so messed up that he had to smoke most of what he did.  He also told me he had overdosed when he had mainlined years ago, so he only had needles around if someone he called over liked doing something that way.  I asked him if he was scared of someone ODing in his bathroom.  He said he had enough money to hush people up if they did.

His cellphone rang.  “I’m sorry, sweetie.  I’ll be right back after I take this call.”  He went into the other room and I heard him in an argument with a very pissed off woman.  He returned and it was clear he was agitated.  “That woman is going to be the death of me.”  I looked at him quizzically.  “My girlfriend.  She’s jealous of EVERYTHING.  Even my kids.”  I told him I was sorry about the drama.  “This is why I like porn chicks.  They don’t give a shit and they don’t wanna marry you.  It’s just awesome sex and they’re off.”

By now, it was 2 AM.  We dropped some Ecstasy, and he just wanted to hug me.  And he would not shut up….it was irritating and endearing at the same time.  He spoke of his love for women, and how he needed women as much as he needed alcohol, but his 12 step program at least helped him control the alcohol.  That, and something called gabapentin.  He droned on about how “nice girls” were just glorified whores, so dealing with actual whores was a pleasure by comparison.  “The world is better off with girls like you.  You’re an honest fuck.  And you have a pretty pussy.  Get out of this business while you can.”

I’m not sure if he knew what all he was saying.  He was rich and famous and he had the luxury of not making sense.  Behind the bravado, I saw a man who seemed genuinely terrified of being alone, yet also terrified of leaving his house.  Although it was clear he was a volatile individual, he wasn’t necessarily the monster he has been made out to be.  He complied with the rules of my agency, and we had a nice time.  I do think at the time he considered himself indestructible.  As I was leaving, he asked me if I knew any girls I could send him.  He said all he needed was titties and a hole.  I half jokingly told him I wasn’t doing my agency’s job for him.  That made him laugh.  “You are a very smart girl.  Don’t ever change.”

I watched his descent into madness a couple years later, and it saddened me; that wasn’t the man I had seen in 2007.  I do think the shock of his diagnosis sent him into a free fall.  The first stage of grief is denial and I think he genuinely wanted to believe he was fine, and the people he kept company with would be fine as well.  Unfortunately, I don’t think he had any idea of what potentially exposing the women in adult industries to HIV could mean for their careers.  The current stigma against people in the sex industries means that if they contract HIV, they can’t do their jobs.  And if they get caught by police while doing their jobs, they could be arrested under California’s draconian criminal transmission laws.  A felony charge makes it really hard for a former sex worker or adult performer to find a straight job with insurance benefits.  I think it behooves Mr. Sheen to pay for the testing of the sex workers he saw from 2011 to 2014 and if they do test positive, to set up a trust contributing for their medications.

lambskin condomsWhich brings us to the million dollar question:  did Charlie Sheen maliciously expose dozens of sex workers to HIV?  I honestly don’t think so.  I doubt that he knew that the lambskin condoms he preferred can’t prevent HIV transmission.  I also think the antiviral medications he is taking have lowered the virus to an almost undetectable level.  As far as informing people of his status…I wouldn’t want to be a straight celeb saying they’re HIV positive for all the money in the world.  People will sell anything to a tabloid.  Although his allegedly not informing partners that he is HIV positive is wrong, if nobody so far has come up with HIV, how is this the public’s business?  Selling pictures of his medication to the highest bidder was wrong.  And if the person who did so had previously signed a nondisclosure agreement, it’s just as illegal as deliberately exposing someone to HIV.

As for the infamous open letter and the Today show interview…I don’t think writing it was his idea.  His PR team is shitting bricks right now and knows this is the only real defense he will have if he is named as a defendant in any potential lawsuit in the future.  He also has his children to think about.  He could afford to be honest and testify for Heidi Fleiss in 1996, because he wasn’t in the middle of two separate child custody cases.  Right now, he and his team are in damage control mode, so the spin doctors have to take advantage of the stigma against sex workers.  Otherwise their client would be forced to take responsibility for his own actions, which in Hollywood carries even more stigma than sex work does.

The Gift of Sight

I am a mistress right now.  I love my boyfriend very much, but I am very confused about everything that I have researched about mistresses and wives.  Apparently, I am supposed to be a homewrecker, an evil temptress whose only desire is to take him away from his family.  Nothing could be further from my mind–I even give my boyfriend advice on how to get along with his wife.  The more I look around the net, the more I find sites that tell me how I am going to be disappointed because he will not leave his wife, because he uses me sexually, because I will not have an intimate emotional connection with him.  But I do not want him to leave his wife, and if the affair was ever discovered I would call her and promise her that I would never see him again so that he can be with his family.  I don’t get money from him, either; I don’t really understand how I am supposed to fit into the expectations society has of mistresses.

succubusWhen I was a teenager, I figured that my sexuality made me a weirdo.  I didn’t think sex was some special, magical thing to be shared only with certain consecrated people; nor did I believe it was dirty and polluting and had some special power to destroy my soul.  I was attracted to men and women equally, was willing to try new things, and was polyamorous at a time and place where that term didn’t exist (we called them “open relationships”, and some of my older partners called it “free love”).  The idea of jealousy made no sense at all to me; I didn’t care if my partners had sex with other people and I probably had more three-ways before I was 20 than more conventional girls have had sex partners of any kind.  But society told me that was all abnormal; sex possessed some kind of magical mumbo-jumbo taboo energy which made it different from all other human activity, and if I had “too much” I would be “ruined”, and I should be angry and hostile and hateful and throw my relationship away if I discovered a boyfriend or girlfriend had slept with somebody else.  I didn’t believe any of that crap, but I did believe that believing in it was “normal”; I was therefore a freak.  By the end of my twenties I had a much broader outlook; I felt that everyone was different, and that my way of perceiving sex was no less “normal” than the more common view.  But after 18 years of harlotry, I’ve begun to realize that my initial position was closer to the truth, except for big difference:  I’m not the one with the freakish way of looking at sex; society at large is.  Sex isn’t any more magical or holy or special than any other thing we can do with other people; it doesn’t have any unique power to destroy souls, and it isn’t “ruined” or “polluted” or whatever if one has it with multiple partners, or pays for it, or engages in it for reasons other than “love” or “pleasure”.  Rape is not a fate worse than death, sex society brands as “illicit” is mostly harmful to young people because of the stigma society inflicts rather than because of the activity itself, and extramarital sex has no intrinsic power to “wreck” a home; it’s jealousy and insecurity which do that.  The taboo/magical/possessive paradigm of sexuality is deeply sick and twisted, and has probably caused more evil, sorrow and destruction than any other single cultural construct on earth.

There’s an old adage that goes, “in the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king,” but that’s total bullshit; as H.G. Wells illustrated in his story “The Country of the Blind“, the real response of a nation of blind people to someone trying to describe the concept of sight would be to conclude he was an imbecile.  Were the hypothetical one-eyed man to peruse the (Braille-like) records of this blind nation, he might discover other cases of “sick”, “crazy” and perhaps even “dangerous” individuals who had claimed to possess this imaginary power called “sight”; he might even find analyses of why these people should give up their delusions of a fifth sense, and how they’d never be happy or fit into society until they stopped claiming to see, or possibly even descriptions of how such troublemakers had been sentenced to have their eyes plucked out to rid them of this twisted delusion of “sight”.  What I’m getting at is this:  there’s absolutely nothing wrong with you or your way of looking at your relationship, but since you live in the Country of the Blind, don’t be surprised if the great majority can’t understand your gift of sight.  And because they can’t, they will all try to convince you that you’re the one who’s wrong and sick.

(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.)

In the News (#588)

Sex workers will only put up with being misunderstood and harassed and arrested…for so long.  –  Cameryn MooreCynthia Payne

R.I.P. Cynthia Payne

The former brothel owner Cynthia Payne…has died aged 82…She first achieved notoriety in 1978 when police raided a “sex party” at her home in Streatham, south London, that was, in her own words “in full swing…When the case came to court in 1980, I was sent to prison for 18 months…but on appeal, this was reduced to six months and a hefty fine”…In a second trial in 1987, Payne was acquitted of controlling prostitutes…Her colourful life inspired two films, both released in 1987: Wish You Were Here…and Personal Services

The More the Better

thanks…to [the success of] a monthly storytelling event in Manhattan known as “The Red Umbrella Diaries”…sex workers are telling their stories to an even larger audience with the release of a new documentary of the same name…the original storytelling event launched in 2009…[and] was a chance for sex workers to openly share the kinds of stories they had long kept to themselves…Most media about sex work strives to be sexy, says Audacia Ray…but that’s not what the film is about…Ray says she hopes the documentary will “complicate” common notions about sex work…

Above the Law 

Sometimes cops even rape other cops:

A [fairly typical cop]…who stole public funds before faking his own murder also abused his position to bully a junior colleague into sex…Charles Joseph Gliniewicz, 52, was mourned as a fallen hero in Lake County, Illinois after he was gunned down by “armed suspects” on the eve of his retirement.  But investigators revealed…that…he…shot himself in the chest and staged the crime scene because he feared his corruption was about to be exposed.  Gliniewicz…embezzled a “five figure sum” from the Explorers youth training scheme and instead spent it on vacations, mortgage payments and adult websites…in 2009 a letter was sent to then then-mayor, Cynthia Irwin…alleging sexual harassment of a dispatcher…he [also racked up]…complaints from bouncers at local bars for being drunk and belligerent, as well as…[raping] Denise Sharpe Gretz, a [policewoman]…on five occasions…

I’m Sure You Feel Safer Now

The brave heroes of Washington DC put a stop to the menace of rogue twerkers:

A Las Vegas woman has been arrested for sexual assault after she and a friend twerked up against and groped at a male stranger in a D.C. convenience store.  One of the women also put her arms around him and attempted to kiss him…22-year-old Ayanna Marie Knight…[is] charged with third-degree sexual abuse.  If convicted, Knight could face a fine of up to $25,000 and up to 10 years in prison…”The search for the other woman in the video continues,” DCist reports…the man in the video—a D.C. teacher who wishes to remain anonymous—suggested that the women may have been trying to solicit him for prostitution or steal his wallet, and also that they might have been “men dressed like women”…As a proponent of gender-blind law, I understand…men have as much of a right as women not to be grabbed at by strangers in public.  Yet something about the whole business rubs me the wrong way…we seem to be headed toward a world where there can be zero ambiguity about even the mildest romantic or sexual advance without it being considered sexual assault…

Bottleneck (#135)

The narrower the neck, the more “illegal” sex work there will be:

Playboy.com took a peek into “New York’s underground lap dance parties” recently.  Essentially pop-up strip clubs sans the pole dancing, the parties feature pretty women willing to offer lap-dances and sometimes make-out sessions for $20 a song.  They switch locations around the city to avoid hassle from regulators and law enforcement…The piece goes on to…women working these clubs, strangely fixating on the fact these women are “girl next door” types, more wholesome than your average stripper allegedly is.  It’s the sort of distinction you also see made in pieces about “sugar babies,” and seems to work as a defense mechanism for both women working these gigs and men availing their services…While underground lap-dance clubs in New York City may not be new…New York City has also been cracking down on traditional strip clubs, using zoning and liquor laws to shut them down…These measures have also made it incredibly difficult for new strip clubs to open…

Policing for Profit 

Little Tin Gods

People sometimes ask me why I moved out of Louisiana.

…the names of the [cops] who [murdered] 6-year-old Jeremy Mardis…were released to the public.  It didn’t take long for local press to uncover extensive rap sheets for both officers, which included two indictments for aggravated rape.  Derrick Stafford…also has five pending civil suits against him for various complaints of excessive force, including breaking the arm of a 14-year-old girl on a school bus as well as assaulting and pepper-spraying a 15-year-old boy…Norris Greenhouse Jr…is named in several of the same suits for acting in tandem with Stafford…

Something Rotten in Sweden (#445)

With the exception of a few ideologues, the field of economics has pretty much come over to our side:

Peter Antonioni, co-author of Economics for Dummies…described how…criminalising…clients was akin to the economics of a banking crisis…”if you are in the nice guy category [and paying for sex is criminalised] you are probably not likely to take the risk or at least at some level you are going to be less likely to do so.  That then leaves in the market only the customers that the sex worker would prefer to reject.  Because half of their customers have dropped out of the market they are now under pressure to take anything available.”

Vendetta (#568)

They’re “changing hearts and minds”, all right, but against their tyranny:

City leaders are stepping up their attack on sex buyers in Phoenix in the wake of a prominent billboard campaign that began in July.  “This…is going to be a consistent effort for years and years until [Swanee Hunt’s money runs out]”…Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said…Cindy McCain had been [conspiring] with the Polaris Project, an anti-[sex worker corporation]…Angie Bayless is local coordinator for [Swanee Hunt’s front organization] CEASE…“We are changing hearts and minds about prostitution,” Bayless said…

Pearls Firmly Clutched (#571) 

Tits and Sass interviews Suzy Favor Hamilton:

…I wish that every time I express my pride in my own sexuality, or speak with any degree of positiv[ity] about my experience, about fellow sex workers, or about consensual sex work in general, the public did not immediately go to the “she’s not well” assumption.  Listen, I’ll always be bipolar.  I’ll be manic some days.  I’ll be depressed some days.  I’ll be “off” some days.  But the whole idea that any degree of support I offer for sex work and sex workers means I’m not well is insulting…

Against the Tide

With all the real information about sex workers available, and the receding support for prohibitionism, ignorant, pearl-clutching screeds like this are beginning to seem almost quaint:

…About 80 percent who work in the sex industry aren’t there by choice.  They are coerced.  They are threatened.  They are trafficked…These women are beaten.  Their families are threatened.  Their pimps, who are really their captors, hold their car deeds and immigration status and sometimes their families’ safety hostage.  When they aren’t monsters, they’re manipulators who use affection, love and security to lure women and girls deeper into their dark worlds.  Prostitution is now a crime against humanity, and we’re glad to see law enforcement cracking down on it, the pimps who run it and the johns who perpetrate it…We need to support our legislators who push for even tougher laws to punish pimps keeping the girls captive…

Welcome To Our World (#584)

The New York Times apologizes for libeling nail salons, kind of:

In the wake of an exhaustive three-part series by Reason‘s Jim Epstein, New York Times‘ Public Editor Margaret Sullivan has acknowledged that the paper’s May expose of the nail salon industry “went too far” in its claims…alas…she defends the Times‘ slowness to respond to Epstein’s criticism by legitimating epistemic closure of the worst kind:  “Until now, The Times has not responded…because they think the magazine, which generally opposes regulation, is reporting from a biased point of view.”  That’s a pretty amazing admission that the Times will do whatever it can to avoid uncomfortable scrutiny.  Yes, Reason is explicitly libertarian…What that has to do with factual assertions and a very clear, step-by-step refutation of Nir’s account, remains unclear…a Times reporter can have “admirable intentions in speaking for underpaid or abused workers” and the Times‘ public editor can be “glad” to see her colleagues “take on situations in which the poor and voiceless are exploited.”  But when Reason‘s Epstein suggests that illegal immigrants—who are certainly among the poorest and most voiceless souls in America—have a right to improve their lives through hard work, well, that’s just really problematic…

The More the Better (#585) 

The amazing Tara Burns interviews Margaret Cho:

…The burning question on pretty much all the sex workers’ minds was whether (or how) Cho would help us achieve decriminalization and basic human rights.  “I don’t know,” Cho told me when I asked. “I was one, not a great one, but I was around a community for many, many years far after my short career was over.  I loved the sex worker community.  That’s my family…I think that they need to be protected and it should be legalized so that law enforcement protects them.  I’m in the process of learning about what needs to be done.  Fortunately there are a lot of people who can help me learn and talk about it in a more educated way”…

Diary #281

The Great UnknownIt’s been over a month since a careless driver wrecked into my car, and the slow wheels of his corporate insurance company have finally almost finished grinding; once the car was in the shop the damage was discovered to be far more extensive than it outwardly appeared, so the company decided to total it.  Luckily, I got a good deal on it, so I should actually be able to replace it with something at least as good; I’m looking at something today, and even if that doesn’t work out the insurance company is covering the rental until Friday.  So I reckon it’s all going to work out, but I’m still very annoyed at the whole affair; I didn’t think I was emotionally attached to the Hyundai, but I guess I was.  It was bought for me by my readers, carried me across the country several times, then dependably took me back to Idaho to tend to Jae and bring her home after her accident.  It served me well, never once stranded me and got excellent fuel mileage; this new car is going to have to go a long way to beat it.  Ah, well, all things must pass.

Today also marks the anniversary of a very memorable dinner party with Jae, Mistress Matisse and Savannah Sly; how much my world has changed since then!  If you had asked me two years ago, I would have predicted that my life would change only slowly and predictably in the future, but the gods delight in proving me wrong; I suppose the only way to stop that is to stop making predictions.  And maybe that’s for the best.


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