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Though I’ve been aware of Whoretography for some time, the release of her e-magazine inspired me to ask her to contribute a guest column and she graciously obliged me.  I encourage you to explore her website, to buy a copy of her e-magazine and to help support the project via GoFundMe.

whoretography1I am addicted to photography; it’s a lifelong obsession of mine that began as a 2-year-old with the death of my father.  When you lose a parent as a baby, the only connection you can form with that parent is through imagery.  The last photograph before his death, the only one of us together, him proudly sitting on his 1970s motorbike.  His death sparked my purpose in life.  Now I am a documentary photographer, masters student, sex worker & activist interested in challenging the victim-centered nature of sex worker imagery on-line and how photography is instrumental the online sale of sex.  I know my father would be proud of me.

I bought my first camera when I was 12 and I have never been without one since; even when I was homeless for 18 months, I refused to sell my last camera.  My mother evidently thought photography was just a phase adolescent girls go through, because I was not permitted to study photography at secondary school; I went on to graduate with an undergraduate degree in Biochemistry and Genetics, Post Graduate in Criminology and a Graduate Diploma in Small Business Management.  I put photography to one side in this period, prioritising an institutionally-defined career in criminal justice, and I moved countries; I sold and traded cameras to pay rent, tuition and one-way tickets to London and Paris.  Finally, in April 2005, I followed my passion and become a full-time photographer; I also started as a sex worker the very same day.  And because photography is so ingrained in my psyche, I eventually managed to make sex work about photography too.  I simply refused to follow the photographic rules which dictated that in order to sell sex, I must photograph myself naked or semi-naked and bent over a table clutching my tits.  So, to stand out from the blowjob crowd in an industry that demanded the use of photography, I said no to selfies and soft porn boudoir imagery and instead harnessed the power of pop culture and iconic imagery to sell the essence of the girlfriend experience.  My reasoning was simple; I am not selling my body, so why do you need photographs of my body?  This initial rebellion against sex industry photographic expectations kick-started my fascination with the role photography plays in the online transaction of sex.

whoretography0212 years later, I am now an award winning published photographer, a sex worker and a master’s student undertaking research in sex work activism through the Whoretography project.   It’s difficult to pinpoint where exactly Whoretography began, but it was somewhere between realising I was in the business of a photographic conspiracy in which my camera was acting as an agent for the falsehood of couple cohesion and intimacy, and the idea of documenting paid-for sexual intimacy as the antidote to the visual falsehoods of wedding photography.  Whoretography sits nicely at the intersection of images, technologies, society and the sex worker rights movement.  It’s the first academic, ethnographic and creative platform dedicated solely to understanding the role photography plays in sex work via self-publishing as an artistic practice.  The objectives frame a body of creative work that takes the form of a collection of soon to be published photo and artist books, zines and the recently launched Whoretography E – Magazine.  My visual activism is about exploring a set of research questions through a mixed methodology approach designed to challenge the prevailing ideology of sex-work and to present to the viewer an alternative perception of the industry and its participants.  I wish to stop the over-simplification of the lives of cis, trans and non-binary sex workers, and to challenge current imagery that encourages the sense that the only way of interpreting the lives of sex workers is to see them as ripe for “rescue”.  This narrow and particular visual representation of male oppression reproduces a politics of pity that is embedded in the visual representation of sex workers; it suggests only pity makes sense as a political, social and cultural response.

I work within the photographic genre of found imagery, with other peoples’ photographic material and written documents.  The material for Whoretography is sourced using cyberethnographic methods; however, online interactions alone are insufficient to develop a deep understanding of the visuals of the sex worker online community.  So I’ve conducted offline research consisting of qualitative interviews with internet based sex workers, and their customers in the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States of America.  Found photography allows for an editorial style in which I can act as both as editor and author; this is not common when working with sex work imagery.  Standard approaches to visually representing sex workers include photo-voice, wherein sex workers themselves create the photographs (typically of their workspaces), and photo-essay; the publishing world is awash with photo essays that, for example, take a sneaky look inside brothels.  I wanted to avoid these visual clichés.  Working with found images means constructing new narratives from seemingly unconnected photographs to provoke critical dialogue about sex work and present an alternative view of sex work.  It allows me to take the discussion of sex worker imagery from the realms of the sex work community and place it in the wider community.  Fundamental to this goal is deconstructing the visual vocabulary of sex work imagery online to investigate the overarching questions, “Is it possible to reclaim the word ‘whore’ through creative practice as research?” and “What role does photography play in contemporary online sexual consumption?”  I have an interest in ensuring photography is relevant in the fight for the full decriminalisation of sex work.  We must celebrate the fact that sex workers are now image makers; we must challenge the exclusion of sex workers from online visual spaces; and we must talk about the posthumous humiliation of sex workers via the standard practice of releasing morgue photos.  The prohibitionist war on sex work is underpinned by their belief that their photographic rhetoric is photographic truth, and we must name the game when it comes to the middle-class masses being in an uproar about the apparent gentrification of sex work via some mythical photoshop gentrification tool.

whoretography03I wonder if I have made this article sound too clinical and academic, but it has not been an easy two years.  I have an overwhelming sadness for some of what I have seen; people’s understanding of sex work is based on a carefully constructed visual lie.  The media are in cahoots with exclusionary bullies to peddle that lie, and it bloody royally pisses me off that middle-class feminists seek to deny sex workers access to the digital revolution and visual online spaces.  I undertook a Master’s Degree because I was seeking a better theoretical understanding of my craft, and in stepping away from weddings I unwittingly stumbled across my life’s photographic purpose.  I am committed to setting up a visual activist platform and sex work-positive publishing house.  I have amassed over 20,000 images and a lot of what I have seen makes me cry.  I have seen child abuse victims marketed as teen sex workers; prohibitionists create rescue images with a tonal quality reminiscent of colonial missionaries “saving the natives from themselves”; the publication and subsequent outing of sex workers by newspapers; the dire consequences of the pixilated face in propelling stigma; and the shaming of sex workers as a police tactic to help in the gentrification of up and coming hipster neighbourhoods.  The way people have weaponised the camera as a tool of violence against sex workers is in marked contrast to the way we use the camera as an agent for couple cohesion in wedding photography.  I am on a mission to shift the political landscape of sex work by forcing people to understand its visual landscape.  Photography is currently used to silence the intentions, actions and feelings of sex workers and to make their lives more precarious; we need to change this, and I hope you will help me to make this happen.

Links #345

Poor Spider. Just on his way to work, and no one wants to sit with him.  –  Chrissy Nicole

This very strange Soviet animated short from 1989 is entitled “Fru-89 From Left to Right”; the words at the beginning read, “Frustration – a state of repressed needs”.  It was provided by Walter Olson and the links above it by Jason Kuznicki (“light”),  Jesse Walker (“nightmare”), Tim Cushing (“safety”), Ed Krayewski (“Melbourne”),  Amy Alkon (“laws”), and Violet Blue (“states”).

From the Archives

In the News (#712)

Victimless crime creates the surveillance state.  –  Wendy McElroy

Amazingly Stupid Statements

License to Rape

At least the European media aren’t afraid to apply the word “rape” to the actions of rapist cops:

Hundreds of people took to the streets of a Paris suburb…to denounce police brutality, after a 22-year-old black man was…sodomised with a baton during an arrest last week…One [cop] was charged…with rape, while three others were charged with assault…The man suffered severe anal injuries which required surgery and was also treated for damage to the head and face…The severity of his injuries led a doctor to declare him unfit to work for 60 days…[cops] deny the [obvious evidence] and [pretend] they were targeting lookouts for drug dealers…

Decentralization

Wendy McElroy on bitcoin and consensual crime:

…There are people who use bitcoin to buy “immoral goods” (whatever that means) just as there are people who use cash to do so.  As long as the participants are consenting adults, that’s their business.  Not yours, not mine.  The state is the one who interjects violence and harm when it points a gun at peaceful adults…The attack on bitcoin will be framed…as a way to protect vulnerable and misguided individuals who use their own bodies in “unacceptable” ways.  Or it will unfold as a campaign of resentment against those individuals who do not pay their so-called “fair share” toward maintaining the surveillance state.  A moral attack must be met with moral indignation, not an apology…

Broken Record 

How fetishists are trying to back away from the thoroughly-debunked “Super Bowl sex trafficking” trope without abandoning the larger “gypsy whore” myth:

While there was a considerable increase in the number of [sex work] ads surrounding the Super Bowl, other events like a Memorial Day motorcycle rally in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and various industry conferences had a bigger impact than expected, suggesting that resources devoted to combating the problem of forced prostitution have been misdirected….[“sex trafficking” fetishists fantasize] that traffickers and pimps use online classified services like Backpage.com to advertise their victim’s sexual services…[pigs bizarrely fantasize that] words like “young” and “no pimps” can be indicators that the person in the photo is a trafficking victim…

Imaginary Evils

Since there are virtually no actual “sex trafficking” cases in the UK despite massive, multi-million-pound crusades to discover them, cops keep themselves busy with fantasies of “pimps” lurking behind every ordinary escort ad:

West Midlands Police has confirmed they now [waste] a substantial part of their [time] in [fantasizing about] sex trafficking victims in the region…[based on propaganda from] The Salvation Army…The content of profiles leads to more suspicion…A lot of the prostitutes also claim to be ‘independent’…But [since we know women are too stupid to plan travel or get pictures taken] their profile pictures…[and] the fact they move around the country would…allude to a larger, more organised, illegal operation…

Cops and Robbers

These are the kind of people who call us “bad” women:

…a group of sex workers…operate from one of three houses [in suburban Johannesburg] which were attacked by [a mob which]…marched to their house on [February 5th] and tossed their belongings outside before torching them.  Beds‚ bedding‚ plasma TV sets‚ music systems‚ clothes and money were some of the things that the girls lost in the [unprovoked attack which] locals [rationalized as taking] a stand against what they say are drug dens and brothels run by Nigerian nationals…

Guinea Pigs (#630) 

Maker of fascist surveillance software uses Backpage as a prop for self-fellation:

Marinus Analytics LLC has joined DeliverFund’s International Human Trafficking Analysis Center (iHTAC), a consortium of organizations who’ve partnered to [come up with more ways to profit from hysteria over]…human trafficking…The combined capabilities of Marinus Analytic’s Traffic Jam and DeliverFund’s uniquely qualified personnel allowed [pigs]…to continue [oppressing people] without disruption during the recent Backpage.com’s closure of its adult ads section…

To Molest and Rape child-molester-cop-chris-wilbanks

Lying, tricking someone into doing something wrong, threatening harm to compel behavior…gee, I wonder where he learned to act this way?

A [South Carolina cop] was arrested after federal investigators say that he coerced an 11-year-old girl into sending him a nude picture, then told her to send more naked photographs or he would show the first one to others…Chris Wilbanks…is charged with production of child pornography…[he] posed as a 14-year-old boy nicknamed “Redneck Rick” on social media and talked to the girl, who said she was 12…the girl sent about a dozen pornographic images to Wilbanks and was crying in many of them…

Challenge (#677)

What could be more Orwellian than referring to groups trying to take away women’s rights as “women’s rights groups”?

Two women’s rights organisations are to feature in a High Court challenge to a new law making it illegal for men to pay for sex in Northern Ireland…Space International, a [prohibitionist] group [backed by the nuns who abused women in the infamous Magdalene laundries], and Equality Now, [a group led by a former prosecutor who resigned in disgrace after railroading two innocent black men for rape,] have been granted intervener status in proceedings brought by sex worker Laura Lee…amendments to the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Act breach [sex workers’] human rights to privacy and freedom from discrimination.  Northern Ireland is currently the only UK region to make the purchase of sex a criminal offence…

The Naked Anthropologist (#701) 

Noah Berlatsky reviews Laura Agustín’s new book:

Laura Agustín’s novel The Three-Headed Dog…argues that the notion of innocent young girls exploited, waiting to be rescued by daredevil Kristofs, is a pernicious myth.  People who cross borders generally do so to find a better life.  They end up doing sex work because it can sometimes be the best option available, especially given prejudiced restrictions placed on immigrant entry and employment…Immigrants are often victimized, but they aren’t solely victims…The Three-Headed Dog doesn’t have an exciting rescue narrative…[it shows] exploitation [as]…a fact of life, a constant backdrop too ubiquitous to be felled with a single punch or raid…

The War Goes On 

We have so many more vocal allies now than we did when I started blogging seven years ago!

Last month, authoritarians…forced Backpage, the world’s second-biggest classified-ads website, to shut down its adult section.  A motley crew of elected officials at all levels of government…bullied Backpage and its executives into getting rid of it, supposedly because they were concerned about people being “sex trafficked”…Of course, as Reason’s Elizabeth Nolan Brown points out, Backpage was already cooperating with law enforcement…something that won them numerous accolades from state and federal cops.  Purely with respect to fighting crime, the government’s victory was somewhere between empty and actively harmful…What’s more, politicians and law enforcement conflate sex trafficking with voluntary prostitution. As…Maggie McNeill has been arguing for years, there are no good data to suggest anything but a tiny fraction of sex workers are trafficked…a lot of prostitutes…used Backpage’s adult section, and the government’s self-indulgent crackdown put their livelihoods at risk…

I Swear To God (#708)

Michelle Chen on how the US tests oppressive tactics abroad before inflicting them domestically:

One of the first policy measures taken by Donald Trump…was reinstating and expanding a piece of presidential policy known as the “Global Gag Rule.”  The policy bars USAID funding for any organization abroad that provides abortions or even presents abortion as a family planning option…In another global campaign to spread “Christian values,” the US government’s long-standing “anti-prostitution pledge” restricts funding from going to any organizations that promote or support sex work.  The oath forces organizations to choose between providing comprehensive services to their constituencies, or cutting back on certain services in order to get US funding…the worst abuses of Washington’s hegemonic power have always taken place in international arenas before creeping inward.  The use of private detention facilities and military contractors in border enforcement and migration detention have been experimental sites for the most exploitative forms of prison profiteering.  It was, after all, the expansion of immigration detention that helped revive the private prison industry across the country, after the traditional prison industry’s profits plateaued after decades of mining black communities to fill its facilities…

Stupor Bowl (#711)

Liz Brown finds the usual total lack of “sex trafficking” at this year’s Super Bowl:

To hear the hysterics tell it, thousands—perhaps tens of thousands—of sex-selling women will flock like cockroaches to cities where sports-fans gather, and only some will be there willingly; the rest, including many children, are trucked in by opportunistic pimps and traffickers.  As ample people have pointed out…there’s not a shred of evidence to support this rumor…examinations of actual arrest data in Super Bowl cities shows no corresponding spike in sex trafficking, compelling prostitution, or any other similar charge—despite the verifiable spike in law-enforcement and media attention to the issue…Between the Saturday before the Super Bowl and the Tuesday morning after, no criminal complaints were filed against anyone [in Houston] for sex trafficking, soliciting a minor, pimping, promoting prostitution, compelling prostitution, etc…[the rumor is] what people today like to refer to as “fake news,” and the people who propagate it year after year—police departments looking to justify vice stings and asset forfeiture, missionary groups looking to fundraise or justify federal anti-trafficking grants, sensationalist media, and state and national politicians with human-trafficking measures to promote—are not…“abolitionists” but propagandists, plain and simple.

You must be a lost angel
Dressed in your silk lace
Born somewhere between heaven
And hell, I don’t know what place.
  –  Don Felder, “All of You”

“So, how close are you to the end?”  Abe was so startled he almost fell out of his chair; he had been so intent on his work he hadn’t heard Doris come in.  “Oh, shit, Abe, I’m so sorry; I didn’t mean to scare you!”

“It’s all right,” he lied, badly.  “Close to the end of what?”

“It was meant to be a joke; you’ve been staring at that computer screen for so long, I was implying you must be binge-watching a show or playing a video game.  Sorry about that.”  Doris now regretted the inappropriate attempt at levity; Dr. Steiner was a hell of an astronomer and had the most amazing visual memory she’d ever encountered, but he wasn’t much of a “people person” and had very little ability to hide his emotions.  And that included his intense annoyance right now, and something else she couldn’t quite identify. hubble-deep-sky-image

“Since when are you in charge of monitoring productivity?”

“Hey, calm down Abe, I really was just joking.  It hardly matters what you do while that deep-sky program is running; Dr. Wilbur usually just sleeps.”

“Sorry,” he said sharply, then more gently: “I am, honestly.  I’m just trying to solve a problem and I don’t really like what I’m finding.”

“Would another pair of eyes help?”

Steiner looked up at the PhD student; since she arrived at the Urania Project six months ago, she had proven herself both friendly and trustworthy.  And maybe a fresh perspective could make sense out of what he’d discovered; his own conjectures occupied the zone between “disturbing” and “impossible”.  He decided to risk it.  “Can I trust your discretion?”

Doris suppressed the urge to answer with a joke.  “Of course.”

“You have to promise not to tell anyone.”

“You have my word.”

He turned the monitor slightly so she could see it dead-on; it contained a badly-composed picture of this room with Dr. Wilbur and a woman she didn’t recognize.  No, wait…”Isn’t that the representative from the Foundation who was here last week?”

“Yes.”

“Why is this picture so crooked?”

“Because I didn’t want her to see me taking it, so I had to hide the phone and limit myself to a few shots.  This was the best one.”

Doris thought it prudent to let the Director explain things at his own pace; it was clear this picture was somehow very upsetting to him.  So she just remained quiet while he fiddled with the keyboard and mouse, bringing up another image which looked like the same scene from a different angle.  “Do you see what I did here?”

“It looks like you ran it through our image rotation software.”

“Right.  Then I cropped it down and sent it to a friend of mine who works with reconstructing faces from skulls, and he sent me back this.”  The next image was the same woman, but full-face; it was clearly a constructed image rather than a purely photographic one, but a very good one.  “Does that fit your memory of what she looked like?”

Abe didn’t need to ask that; he could sketch objects from memory after seeing them once.  But he clearly wanted her reassurance, so: “Yes.”

A few more clicks, and he removed her glasses, changed the image to black and white and then moved it to the left side of the screen, bringing up another photo on the right; it was an antique photo of a woman dressed in the fashion of over a century ago, and had clearly been run through a program to clean it up and artificially sharpen the resolution.  The two women were both stunningly beautiful and looked virtually identical.  “Well?” he asked, impatiently.

“The resemblance is certainly striking, but both of these images have been considerably enhanced.  We can’t be sure the original subjects bore more than a passing resemblance to one another.”

“Absolutely true.  But I can tell you that this one” – he pointed to the modern woman on the left – “is an exact resemblance of Gabrielle Ealing, whom I spent considerable time with on her visit here last week.  I never forget a face, especially one like hers.  And every biometric measurement I can apply to the older photo matches up with Ealing’s.”

“Who is the woman in the other photo?”

“Don’t you recognize her?”

“I’m afraid not.”

He looked irritated for a second, then softened.  “I forget others don’t have my memory.  Wait here for a minute.”  After he left the room, Doris continued to stare at the two images; they certainly looked a lot alike.  Allowing for the differences in grooming, they even appeared to be about the same age.  A few minutes later Abe returned with a large framed photo which Doris recognized as one of those hanging in the lobby; it had been taken at the dedication of the original observatory out in New Mexico, in 1910.  Abe tapped on one of the figures in the image:  “There.”

It was clearly the photo from which the image on the right had been scanned.  “Who is she?”

“Angela Ealing, wife of Charles Ealing, who made an obscene fortune in mining and banking and was apparently uninterested in women until he met her sometime after he turned 50.  She was the one who convinced him to establish the Foundation, and after he died in 1919 she ran it until her own death in 1980.”

Doris squinted at the picture.  “She looks young enough to be his granddaughter.”

Abe chuckled.  “Now, now, my dear, that was considered far more acceptable in those days.  According to her official biography, she was born in 1888, which makes her 22 in that photo.  He was about 60 then.”

“Still young enough to father heirs, apparently.”

“One, a posthumous son named Michael, a hellion who lived just long enough to beget a son of his own before getting himself killed in some foolishness on V-J Day.  The mother was apparently uninterested in that role, so the boy was raised by Angela.  Gabrielle is supposed to be his granddaughter, thus Angela’s great-great-granddaughter.”

“That’s quite a resemblance for sharing only one-sixteenth of a genome.”

“Indeed.”

“So what, exactly, are you suggesting?”

He sighed deeply.  “I’m a scientist, not a science-fiction writer.”

“Abe, this is just silly.  You’re an extremely rational man; surely you don’t think a remarkable resemblance is anything like evidence that Angela Ealing is still spry, hot as hell and supervising her foundation at the age of 134?”

“Have you ever read the mission statement of the Ealing Foundation?”

“Well, I’m a bit embarrassed to admit it, but no.”

“Its official purpose is to prepare the most comprehensive map and catalog of the universe possible; to that end it has funded telescopes in every part of the electromagnetic spectrum, given scholarships to promising astrophysics students like you, provided grants to develop better imaging software, and awarded prizes to scientists who think up new ways to observe, as the statement puts it, ‘the full extent of Creation, both visible and hidden‘.  For the past 20 years its’ been heavily investing in dark matter research.”deep-sky-dark-matter

“Well, yeah, I knew all that.”

“But do you know who wrote that policy?”

“Angela?”

“Yep.  At the ripe old age of 19.”

“But…she died 42 years ago.”

“As a recluse.  This is the only existing photo of her.  Would you like to see photos of Gabrielle’s mother, who incidentally was an Ealing too?  She was a single mother and supposedly moved to Sydney four years ago.”

“Do I really need to?”

Abe answered with a few mouse clicks, bringing up another enhanced image of what at first glance was exactly the same woman.  “She didn’t like pictures, but this was manipulated from a shot taken at a reception in 1999, the year Gabrielle was supposed to have been born.”

“OK, just for the sake of argument, let’s say I buy all this.  If it’s true, what’s she after?”

Abe pondered for a few minutes, trying to find the right way to express his idea.  “Imagine you’re a traveler; not an explorer or a scientist, just an ordinary tourist.  And let’s say some kind of accident happens, and your pilot or guide or whatever is killed, stranding you in some strange place far from home.  What do you do?”

“Well, obviously try to get home in any way I can.”

“And what if you don’t really know where home is, and neither does anyone in the country where you find yourself?”

Doris looked at the three images on the screen and felt the gooseflesh rise on her arms.  “I’d try to collect as many maps as I could until I saw something I recognized.”

Beck and Call

trump-protestI’m not easily surprised, but I definitely raised an eyebrow when I saw this on Monday:

…we propose to help build an international strike against male violence and in defense of reproductive rights on 8 March.  In this, we join with feminist groups from around 30 countries who have called for such a strike.  The idea is to mobilize women, including trans women, and all who support them in an international day of struggle – a day of striking, marching, blocking roads, bridges, and squares, abstaining from domestic, care and sex work, boycotting, calling out misogynistic politicians and companies, striking in educational institutions.  These actions are aimed at making visible the needs and aspirations of those whom lean-in feminism ignored: women in the formal labor market, women working in the sphere of social reproduction and care, and unemployed and precarious working women…

The hypocrisy of that call for sex workers to give up a day of income to make these cunts feel “inclusive” is amply demonstrated by the fact that sex work is notably absent from this list of forms of institutionalized violence against women:

…the violence of discriminatory policies against lesbian, trans and queer women; the violence of state criminalization of migratory movements; the violence of mass incarceration; and the institutional violence against women’s bodies through abortion bans and lack of access to free healthcare and free abortion…

There’s plenty of Marxist claptrap in this essay, but nothing for whores except the call for us to carry water for people who don’t give a damn about us.  As I said on Twitter, “The only water I’m going to carry for them is the water in my bladder, with which to piss on them & their hypocrisy.”  I also said this:

Until mainstream feminism starts calling for decrim – not Swedish model or other BS falsely represented as decrim – they can fuck themselves.  So, “feminists”, you want the support of sex workers in your pathetic little Lysistrata ripoff?  Start demanding decrim, and let female legislators introduce bills to decriminalize sex work in all 50 states & denounce “sex trafficking” hysteria in Congress.  THEN we’ll talk, and not a minute before.  We’re sick of your lies & insults, sick of being thrown under the bus.  Fuck you and your “protest”.  “Blah blah blah ‘male violence’!”  Except mainstream feminism promotes & enthusiastically cheers male governmental violence vs whores.  I don’t just “call out” misogynistic politicians & others on one day that YOU get to choose; I do it EVERY FUCKING DAY OF MY LIFE.

And yeah, I mean every word of that.  As Mistress Matisse said, “You really don’t get to just whistle us up when you want us & throw us right back under the bus when you don’t.”  You want sex workers’ help, feminists?  Actually prove you’re our allies in some substantive way.  Then, and only then, will you have the right to ask us to do anything at all for you.

 

In the News (#711)

[Sex worker] distrust of law enforcement…is well earned. – Kate Mogulescu

Surplus Women 

Imagine the murder of any other businessperson being described as a “scuffle”:

A 25-year-old Ugandan woman was…stabbed to death [in Bengaluru, Karnataka] in a scuffle over payment for sex…Ishan…has been arrested for fatally stabbing Florence Nakayaki…the deputy commissioner of police…PS Harsha [said]…neighbours called the police on hearing screams…Harsha [otherwise repeated the murderer’s version of events as though it were fact, casting blame on the victim for asking for her fee]…

Worse Than I Thought

A perfect storm of stupidity, sex fantasy and authoritarian violence:

A plan that would expand capital punishment in Utah so that [people] convicted of aggravated human trafficking or child sex exploitation that leads to death could be executed…[was passed by a] law enforcement …committee…despite concern from both [politicians] and [normal people]…sponsor…Paul Ray [fantasizes that] human trafficking is a big problem in Utah, so…“I want to be able to pull down a cartel kingpin or somebody and put them on death row if women or girls are dying in their trafficking rings,” he [bloviated]…The proposal is only the latest effort by Ray to institute hardline death-penalty plans…

Property of the State 

Authoritarians’ latest dodge for getting around civil rights: encouraging profiteers to file civil suits instead:

…Arkansas Act 45…bans dilation and evacuation abortions, the most common abortion procedure during the second trimester of pregnancy.  Rushed from filing to law in less than two months, the legislation effectively blocks abortions after 14 weeks by making the safest procedure a felony.  The earliest current abortion bans block the procedure after 20 weeks.  With no exception for rape or incest, and a clause that allows a woman’s spouse or parent to sue an abortion provider, the law potentially allows the fetus’s [sire] to sue even in cases of spousal rape or incest, abortion rights activists say.  The law could go into effect as early as spring…

Business As Usual deblasio-wife

Prohibitionists just can’t understand why sex workers refuse to believe that clients and imaginary “pimps” inflict the most violence on us, and that the police are our “rescuers” from it:

…[politician’s wife] Chirlane McCray urged [sex workers]…in New York City to trust the police to investigate, prosecute, and punish [our sources of income]…”We are already hearing that victims are afraid to come forward for fear of being deported,” McCray said. “If you are being forced to engage in any sex against your will, we want to help you…Please, do not be afraid”…[but in reality] prostitution-related charge[s] can land a non-citizen in a database accessible to federal immigration agents…NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill described [his own cluelessness by thinking sex workers want our clients persecuted]…But [in reality, as] Immigrant Defense Project attorney Genia Blaser said, “the city has investigated sex trafficking by arresting people…for…sex work”…between 2012 and 2015, the NYPD arrested 1,300 people…for allegedly “loitering for the purposes of prostitution”…631 people were arrested and charged with practicing massage without a license last year, up from just 31 in 2012…91 percent of the 2016 cases are against non-citizens…

Safe Targets (#452)

A profile of Tara Burns, with emphasis on her activism in Alaska:

…“people in the media were saying that they were using [a 2012 Alaska] law to ‘save’ the poor trafficking victims” Burns tells me.  But…“the law was only being used against us and not…to protect us…I was familiar with all of these different issues – police having sex with people and then arresting them, and people being turned away when they were trying to report crimes,” she tells me.  After studying for a Master’s Degree in Social Justice at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and conducting her thesis, Burns resolved to fight for change – using her research to find out the percentages of people who had experienced this.  “I brought that research to the Alaska legislature to tell them how their law was working and when I got down there I found out that I had to register as a representational lobbyist – so I was the first person in the history of Alaska’s legislature to be a representational lobbyist representing sex workers”, she explains.  Now, Tara is a founding board member of the organisation Community United for Safety and Protection, which works for safety and protection in Alaska’s sex industry…

Checklist (#514) 

More absurd “air hostesses vs pimps” nonsense:

…former flight attendant Nancy Rivard, founder of Airline Ambassadors, is trying to [indoctrinate] airline staff across the nation…[in] human trafficking [propaganda, using fake stats such as the fabricated claim that] U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested 2,000 human traffickers and identified 400 victims last year…[and promoting myths about] the Super Bowl…[prohibitionists like Rivard fantasize that] sex work and human trafficking often go hand-in-hand…Airline Ambassador Sandra Fiorini, 69, testified before Congress in 2010 about [her BDSM sexual fantasies about]…girls…flying from Moscow to the United States…

Vendetta (#523) 

A female “contributor” to GQ is paid to fellate Peter Qualliotine, the deeply misogynistic prohibitionist who runs Seattle’s “john school”, where he attempts to indoctrinate normal men in the dogma that their sex drives are pathological because women are too stupid to make sexual decisions for ourselves:

…Peter Qualliotine [is] a co-founder of the Seattle-based Organization for Prostitution Survivors [and a prohibitionist for many years]…In plenty of cities and counties around the country, men busted for buying sex get sent to a class known as “john school”—usually just a scared-straight afternoon with [propaganda] about STDs and jail time and the harms of prostitution…Peter had taught those classes and didn’t think much of their effectiveness.  He had something [more grandiose] in mind…In class, throughout those first weeks, a number of the men showed with their body language that they [understood] the whole exercise was bullshit, a waste of their time.  Several…made it clear that they [understood] it was nonsense that prostitution was a crime at all…

Naturally, Brooke Jarvis consulted no actual sex workers for the article, despite there being plenty of very public members of our community right here in Seattle.

A Woman’s Point of View 

As with cannabis legalization, if enough of these are thrown at the wall one of them may eventually stick:

Hawaii lawmakers are considering decriminalizing prostitution…after House Speaker Joseph Souki introduced a bill…Transgender activist Tracy Ryan says she’s pushing the bill because transgender women in the sex trade are disproportionately impacted by criminalization laws… Souki says he takes no position on the bill, but he introduced it as a favor to Ryan.  House Majority Leader Scott Saiki says this and a bill to decriminalize marijuana may be part of a push to reduce the prison population.

Gorged With Meaning (#639)

It’s so nice to see sex work treated as the normal thing it is:

…Portland State University’s (PSU) Women’s Resource Center… “supports the right of all students to seek and access safety in all aspects of life, including in the workplace.  For students working in the sex industry, this can be a unique and isolating challenge.”  Adrienne Graf is Portland State University’s Sexual and Relationship Violence Response Program Coordinator…and…created Portland State University’s Student Sex Worker Outreach Project…Graf’s been personally connected to sex workers since she was 18- or 19-years-old, when she first was starting her career in social work…“When I went into getting my Masters in Social Work, I was really intrigued and also disturbed by how social workers did and did not interact with the sex industry, and I became increasingly more involved in sex worker activism as a result”…

Pimps Ahoy wannabe-pimp-chef

I predict we’re going to see a lot more rescue industry dudes pretending to have been reluctant pimps:

[Self-proclaimed] pimp turned do-gooder Kaushic Biswas…is now teaching the sort of women he once exploited how to cook their way out of sex trafficking… in the 1990s…Biswas earned big money as a pimp, managing and selling women for sex after they had been trafficked into prostitution.  “Every night I broke down and cried…because I was part of the exploitation,” Biswas [fantasized]… “Sometimes they forced me to watch”…Biswas bought a plane ticket to Thailand to escape Mumbai, working once more as a chef, first in a 5-star hotel in Thailand, next under his mentor in Hong Kong…he found solace in a church and joined fellow believers…

Cooties (#703)

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

More than 30 “pop up” brothels each week are being opened in Swindon, with foreign prostitutes renting properties for a few days before moving on.  Wiltshire Police said that every week, as many as 40 sex-workers, most of whom are eastern European, were advertising their services in the town.  It is the latest in a spate of reports across the country of temporary brothels, where rooms are rented for just a few days before women are swiftly moved on to evade detection…[cops fantasize] many of the brothels [are]…linked to organised crime gangs which traffic women from Poland and Romania…

The War Goes On (#707) 

The idea that women have free will is incomprehensible to the misogynistic sociopaths in “law enforcement”:

…The shuffling on Backpage is being watched closely in Miami-Dade, where prosecutors have been aggressive about going after pimps and traffickers, while [locking up women by pretending they’ve]…been coerced into selling their bodies…State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle dismissed Backpage’s widely publicized closing of its adult section closing as nothing more than a “shell game…They’ve all moved to the dating section…The same victims are being found there”…[this attitude among] law enforcement hasn’t gone over well with…some advocates for victims of [coercion]…“It’s a symbolic crusade,” said Kimberly Mehlman-Orozco, a criminology professor at Georgetown University…“They’re trying to get some accolades and look like the heroes”…

Stupor Bowl (#709)

Barely a peep out of these fanatics this year, and even then only at the last minute:

Sex trafficking tends to increase during the Super Bowl and this year is no exception, according to…Nita Belles…of…In Our Backyard…The Houston Police Department [claims to be]…busy with multiple…sex trafficking [cases]…Belle said…”If somebody’s coming here for the Super Bowl [and has sadfeelz about sex work they should rat people out to the cops]”…

Diary #345

selfiecamera_2017-01-02-21-17-09-307Last week was another extremely busy one; much of it was devoted to a SOOPER SEEKRIT project that I can’t tell you about yet, but which seems to be moving along pretty quickly.  That’s a really good thing because I find that whenever I’m going the way the gods want me to go, things tend to be easy and fall right into place; if I’m going the wrong way, however, they’re nearly impossible.  Scoff if you like, but this is my experience of five decades, and I never told you that I was 100% rational.  But beside the big project, there were a few other high points of last week:  Matt visited me for a few hours on his way through Seattle, and Lorelei and I got to resume our normal Doctor Who date (and if you would like a date with both of us, that can be arranged), and I was able to crack a baking problem I’ve been working on for a couple of months.  So all in all, a very good week, and I hope this one is even better!