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Posts Tagged ‘A Narrow View’

We have been so brainwashed by talk of trafficking that we imagine we see it everywhere.  –  Lenore Skenazy

Enabling Oppression

It’s hard to get more vile and disgusting than white prohibitionists using the names of dead black icons to support campaigns of oppression that disproportionately affect black people.  Most of this is a typical Julie Bindel smear screed, referring to sex worker rights advocates as “pimps” and “pro-prostitution pressure groups” (Bindel, you may remember, is the one who says Brooke Magnanti and I, along with Amnesty International and a corpse, are the heads of the imaginary “pimp lobby”).  But here’s the money quote, edited for clarity and truth:

…The [prohibitionists fantasize about an imaginary Utopia]…free from prostitution.  Many are keen to campaign for the introduction of a law to criminalise the demand.  “These men [sex buyers] have a comfortable life,” says one of the women, “after they [complete a mundane business transaction] they go back to their homes and their wives.  We want them to be exposed [as people who conduct business transactions]”…”Mandela would understand,” says [one prohibitionist] “I seriously believe that if we had gone to him …he would have [supported police violence against peaceful people having consensual sex]”…

The Notorious Badge

I’d be interested in hearing what actual sex workers think of this show:

Somewhere in the vast terrain between the hooker-as-fairytale-princess fantasy of Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman and the prim, grim Victorian sociology of Stephen Crane’s Maggie: A Woman of the Streets lies Harlots, Hulu’s odd but engrossing new drama about life inside an 18th-century London brothel.  Screenwriter Moira Buffini, one of the five British women who produce, write, and direct Harlots, said in unveiling the project that the goal was “everything from the whore’s-eye view.”  The result is that the women in Harlots are neither glamorous courtesans nor broken flowers, and their depiction is never erotic…

A Narrow View (#25)

Mark Draughn on the hypocrisy of arresting underage sex workers under guise of “helping” them:

Is it really necessary to send cops with guns to forcibly “help” people?  And even if you think it’s necessary to coerce child victims of sex trafficking into accepting social services, can’t you do it without giving them a criminal record?…There are better alternatives. We know this because non-governmental organizations like the Sex Work Outreach Project (SWOP) don’t have arrest powers, and they’ve been doing outreach to sex workers for years…Here in Chicago, the Young Women’s Empowerment Project spent years studying ways to help young women in the sex trade, and they had some useful observations, especially about what they call institutional violence

Profound Ignorance 

This is at least less harmful than the usual ignorance-based sex work “study”, though no less stupid:

To get a feel for what a certain dollar amount can get someone seeking escort services, we averaged 277 images of Las Vegas escorts using face-morphing software and organized them by price point…beauty is not only affected by our personal preferences but is also shaped by our culture…When looking at the women in our composite comparison, the most expensive female escort seems to have more refined features…She also has lighter skin and looks much younger than the woman charging $10 to $99 per hour for her services…

More beautiful escorts are more in demand and can therefore charge more. Gee, who’d have guessed?

Micromanagement

Please, ladies, don’t be so stupid as to give cops evidence they can & will use against you:

Sara Katsanis, a bioethicist at Duke University…was surprised to hear of a program initiated by Dallas [cops] to collect DNA from truck-stop sex workers to solve hypothetical future crimes…Voluntarily give a DNA sample now, the program promised, and if it’s your dead body, at least your family will know.  Can sex workers truly consent when it’s police doing the asking?…The program, which was first proposed in 2007, had done a very small survey and found women universally willing to contribute their DNA with no major concerns.  “So the ethicist [part of me] said, ‘Oh really, no concerns?,’’ recounted Katsanis.  “And who asked?  Oh the police”…So she and a colleague, Jennifer Wagner, went down to Dallas, to talk to the sex workers themselves, without [Porky Pig] in the room…

Case Study

Dysphemisms and gawking abound in UK articles about sex work:

A Fulham brothel operator and head of a London sex empire is facing jail after he admitted a series of crimes including making money from prostitution and human trafficking.  David Archer…pleaded guilty…to running a string of brothels, trafficking women and controlling their profiles on adult websites…Detective Sergeant John Kirby [drooled]…”Archer exploited vulnerable women to build his lucrative empire in the sex industry over a number of years…once he lured the women, they were instructed to pose for explicit photos, and in some cases forced to engage in sexual activity…Neighbours describe seeing women as young as 18 “dancing naked in the garden” before [one] brothel was shut…

Nice While It Lasted

What could possibly go wrong?

Senior council figures have backed plans to give officials the power to dish out £100 [trial-free] fines for drinking, begging and urinating…[the due-process-free penalties are to be euphemistically labeled] Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)…the orders would allow police…and council officers to issue instant £100 fines for anyone [they claim committed] one of several anti-social behaviour offences in the areas…deputy council leader…Clyde Loakes [lied]…“This is not an attack on homeless people…this is not infringing human rights”…A third PSPO, aimed at curbing street prostitution, has also been proposed for the Lea Bridge area of Leyton…

Signs 

This woman calls bruises and rope burns “signs of trafficking”. I call them “signs of a fun evening”:

…the Southwest Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force recently unveiled two training mannequins that exhibit common physical signs of human trafficking, including bruising, rope burns and possessive tattoos, said Cathy Knauf…She said the tattoos are usually not professionally done and say “Daddy” or are a UPC bar code.  “It shows ownership by the trafficker that this is his property,” she said.  She said the task force started collecting money for Freethem Ink, which will pay to have a survivor’s tattoo changed into something beautiful or removed…

Lies Piled on Lies

Nebraska is vying with Washington, Arizona and Florida to be the state which produces the stupidest “sex trafficking” nonsense:

Seven score and 14 years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, a different form of slavery lingers in the United States…human trafficking…ensnares children as young as 13 in the sex industry…Glen Parks [a pig mouthpiece, bloviated while secretly masturbating]…“It’s treating someone like you own them, like they’re an object”…The [pig] who pulls over a suspect transporting three inappropriately dressed and unrelated teenage girls, needs [to lock the girls up]…he said…“We can train motel workers to spot the signs of sex trafficking.  These victims get sick more than most, and must be taken to a clinic or a hospital, where if nurses are trained to spot the signs they can [rat them out]”…Connie Lofgreen, a sex addiction [profiteer] in Omaha, [pearl-clutched] that pornography is a “theater” of trafficking…“You don’t know when you look at pornography if that person is participating as a willing participant.  You don’t know that they’re not a minor or that they haven’t been trafficked in from another country.”  Lofgreen said an entire generation of men has developed an addiction to pornography, and that like all addicts they need increasingly stronger doses, a process that sometimes causes them to drift into child pornography…

Under Every Bed (#669)

We’ve heard all these lies before; this is only notable for the sheer density of bullshit, and the fact that it’s claimed to take place in a state with a smaller population than Greater Seattle:

Amber Lawrence…travels…Iowa [for] Teens Against Human Trafficking…trying to protect young people from being “Taken” down a heartbreaking road in which life expectancy is a stark seven years…an educational exhibit…features art of young women in a cage, an empty pair of silver high heels, and an abandoned teddy bear symbolizing loss of innocence…as a college freshman at 19, she had been the target of an attempted human trafficking incident…

An “attempted human trafficking incident”.  You know, like in “The Widening Gyre” below.

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (#714)

Politicians the world over promise the same evil, impossible things, and stupid people just keep believing them:

With mascots dressed as smiling fish and a police rock band, Thai authorities launched a “Happy Zone”…to [sanitize] the image of a city [known] for sex tourism…the…sex…industry…remains economically vital while being officially excoriated…The latest of many crackdowns in Pattaya happened…last month…A handful of bars were raided.  Bar owners and working women were fined.  Scared to venture out, tourists…stayed in hotels.  Street vendors and shops saw sales tumble.  The money which flows to all levels in the city – including law enforcement agencies – fell off.  The Happy Zone approach is a softer way to try to [pretend] that something is being done…Apichai Krobpetch, chief of Pattaya city police, [said] “We will also stamp out prostitution in the area”…

Guinea Pigs (#723) 

More on the “banks looking for whores to rat out to the pigs” evil from last week:

…banks have become adept at mining data to comply with anti-money-laundering regulations.  Much of that same data can also be used to detect signs of human trafficking…Some financial patterns that could potentially indicate human trafficking include credit card purchases on some classified-ad sites, several individuals with a common address depositing money into the same account, or multiple accounts transferring money to the same beneficiary…analytics tools can also cross-reference customer phone numbers to see if those same numbers appear on classified-ad pages where illegal services might be sold…

“Multiple accounts transferring money to the same beneficiary”.  You know, like when different people pay for purchases from one company.

The Widening Gyre (#723) 

Lenore Skenazy’s take on yet another hysterical “sex trafficking” fantasy:

89,000 shares of this piece from ForEveryMom…”Diandra Toyos is a Southern California mom of three kiddos aged 4, 1.5, and 7 weeks.  Looking for a fun outing, she and her mom decided to take the kids to their local IKEA recently to do some couch shopping…But Toyos never could have imagined that their lighthearted shopping trip was about to take a sinister turn“…This “My kids were about to be trafficked, I just KNOW it” post is so shockingly similar to last week’s “My kids were about to be trafficked, I just KNOW it” post that it feels…creepy.  A lot creepier than being at Ikea where a couple of men glance at my kids…What, two men are going to grab two or three kids, all under age 7, IN PUBLIC, in a camera-filled IKEA, with the MOM and the GRANDMA right there, not to mention a zillion other fans of Swedish furnishings?…You can TELL nothing happened, because the whole thing was described as an “incident”.  And Lenore’s #1 Rule of Reporting is: When something is called an “incident,” it’s because nothing happened…

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Sex workers are…the sacrificial offering that people outside of the industry are willing to make in an attempt to attain an impossible state of societal purity.  –  Clay NikiforukClay Nikiforuk

The Red Umbrella 

This excellent December 17th column by Clay Nikiforuk only came to my attention this week:

…Canadian law…C-36 [supporters]…talk of wanting to “end demand” for sexual services, and I wonder what that could mean.  Is there a lab somewhere cooking up a pill to end cravings for intimacy?  Or maybe an army of attractive sex robots are being programmed as we speak?  Ending demand seems like an imaginary Conservative wonderland, and no one wants to talk about the fact that it doesn’t exist and thus no one has any idea of how to get there.  In the meantime, prostitution abolitionists are content with an approach that…will result in nothing but violence against a marginalized group if these heinous laws are enforced…[prohibitionist] language suggests that sex workers are things to be purchased rather than lucid, valuable people who make choices, among others, to market and sell services…no sex worker sells their body.  They are not passive ragdolls, slaves for the enjoyment of ravenous perverts, as the pornographic imagination might wish to believe…they are complex and complete people who have their own stories and are part of communities.  They cannot be sacrificed for a supposedly feminist ideal that wishes to ignore, silence, and erase them…

A Narrow View

Ask yourself:  if the operators of “rescue homes” really have the best interests of “rescued” sex workers at heart, why must they invariably deny these women’s agency and reduce them to passive, doll-like creatures to be done to?

A St. Louis charity will open a home next year where a small group of women who are trying to escape from a cycle of prostitution and prison can rebuild their lives.  Christine McDonald has spent months visiting prisons searching for women…[to] be the first residents of the 10,000-square-foot home being opened by Magdalene St. Louis.  The women will live there two years and will have access to free food, health care, counseling and job training…director…Tricia Roland-Hamilton…said many people believe these women choose a life of prostitution, but they don’t…

The Widening Gyre 

An escort is murdered, and cops immediately pimp her corpse to promote their crusade by declaring her a “victim of sex trafficking”:

A Vancouver woman found murdered inside her…Portland hotel…was a victim of sex trafficking, according to…Police…Ashley Renee Benson’s…body was found in a stairway at the Double Tree [sic] Hotel…Benson’s family [said]…they didn’t know Benson was a sex trafficking victim until they heard it on the news…they didn’t notice anything different about Benson when they saw her on Christmas Day, just 21 hours before she was found dead…

The reason the family didn’t know she was a “victim” is because she wasn’t.

Checklist bingo prostitution

Baltimore hotels would be required to train their staffs to recognize signs of forced prostitution under proposed legislation that also would prohibit rooms from being rented for less than half a day.  City Councilman James B. Kraft said the anti-human trafficking bill is necessary to combat an “international plague”…[because] Baltimore …[is near] Interstate 95…Hotel staff may recognize individuals who frequently rent rooms…The victims may eat all their meals inside the room and only…pay in cash…

Original Sin

It’s unusual to see an evangelical break with the party line on “trafficking”, but refreshing to be cast as a powerful witch instead of a helpless “victim”:

…why it is that only clients should be criminalised, but not the prostitute?  The question that must be asked is who the victim is and who is the predator…Modern society generally deems the prostitute to be “hurt” or “harmed” because she is used by clients…This is a dangerous half-truth.  The prostitute is the woman of Proverbs 7 who is brash, rebellious, sly, and of a wicked bitter tongue…She victimises even strong men through her sexual immorality and wicked flattering words…While she may indeed be used by others for sexual gratification, she is a predator…Prostitutes are harlots – they seduce unsuspecting men who do not know about the moral dangers of indulging in sexual immorality…

Original Sin (#321)

Another self-proclaimed “authority” helpfully explains that porn causes “sex trafficking”:

…sex trafficking and exploitation exist…even [in] Utah…social media and easy global access have made it more simplistic [sic] for criminals to entice targets…young men and women…are more exposed than ever [due to online flirting]…chat rooms are still…the weapon of choice for criminals…Sgt. Jason Randall…[fantasizes about] minors being forced to engage in sexual acts…on pornographic…websites…Randall said he believes pornography is at the source of all the exploitation problems…“Pornography is just like drugs.  People can dabble in it and never get addicted to it.  But some people — it’s just taking that first hit of meth, and then they’re hooked…There’s no question that there’s a correlation between pornography and sex offenses”…

Highlight of the story:  a bureaucrat named Tammy Atkin wisely pronounces that nobody grows up and then makes a statement about what she’d like to do when she is 12.

Welcome To Our World (#327)

Fifteen people have been arrested in Beijing in connection with a prostitution ring which used websites to connect young mothers with men who paid to be breastfed by them…Wet nurses that serve adults are paid $2,600, nearly four times the monthly average…

Mumbo Jumbo

Sometimes the connection between “sex trafficking” hysteria and the Satanic panic is subtle, and other times…well, see for yourself:

Traffic Circle

It’s a small development, especially considering that the publication is Reason and the author is steadfast ally Elizabeth Nolan Brown; however, it’s still fantastic to see “Sex Trafficking Hysteria” as a heading in a national magazine article that treats both the hysteria itself and the bullshit used to promote it as what they are rather than deferentially pretending that there’s any doubt at all, as even most skeptical articles do.

Shame, Shame (TW3 #348)

“Cyber Civil Rights Initiative” is a front organization for Mary Anne Franks:

Illinois became the latest state to criminalize “revenge porn,” crafting what its creators hope will become a model for federal legislation…The…law…will punish offenders with one to three years in prison and up to a $25,000 fine.  “We believe [revenge porn] is a form of sexual assault,” [figurehead sponsor] Scott Drury [said]… “You could be someone working at Burger King, and now you’re a sex object.”  Carrie Goldberg…of the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, which [wrote] the Illinois law [downplayed valid concerns about the unintended consequences of the vague, overbroad legislation]…

Property of the State

Note how the police state uses the mere existence of a sex worker’s child as an excuse to proclaim consensual sex a “felony”:

A woman was arrested for promoting prostitution while her 2-year-old was at daycare…Trishta Daniels [was ratted out by hotel employees and ambushed by cops upon] leaving her room…Police [abducted] the child and [trafficked her to] the Department of Children’s Services…

That Old Black Magic (#422)

West African “penis stealing” hysteria, now with whores!

A 23-year-old woman, Uche Agunta, who works as a prostitute confessed that her gang specialises in cutting off victims’ manhood during sex…[she] had har­vested about seven [penises] be­fore she was arrested…her method is to lure men into sex…and at the height of ecstasy, she would sneak out razor blade and cut off her partner’s manhood…for money rituals…

Follow Your Bliss (#424) White Slaves of Chinatown

There’s something profoundly perverse about many of the “grim truth behind prostitution”…articles…Rescue stories read like erotica, but they sensationalise sex workers’ lives at their expense and commodify the experiences of actual victims.  They are obsessed with how many penises in filthy surroundings and rape by their stepfather and forced abortions and getting peed on and condomless blowjobs.  While sex workers and sex work activists want to talk about human rights, international law, respecting the agency of other adults and stopping violence, rescue fetishists get all flushed as they emphasise that thousands of women get raped with objects and are forced to drink buckets of sperm and they get tattoos so everyone can see they are a whore…The rescue industry exploits others for financial gain, which is morally reprehensible, but their non-consensual use of vulnerable women for their perverse sexual preferences is a grim truth about the rescue industry that really nobody is telling you…

Worse Than I Thought (#433)

As I predicted, this trope is becoming much more common:

Darlene Pawlik…was…sold into prostitution…before she reached legal adulthood…[she] found herself sold hundreds of times, bought by local businessmen, a city councilman, and a candidate for sheriff..[when she] found herself pregnant…[she] faked an abortion so she could leave the lifestyle.  She reached a new home and began a new, restored life and eventually became a nurse, business owner, married mother of 5 children, and pro-life advocate…

All conveniently far in the past and without names or evidence, natch.

Backwards into the Future (#439)

Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!

Vietnam will not see prostitution as a legitimate profession…[said] Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam…[he also pretended] that anti-prostitution measures [could somehow be considered]…human rights protection…The [repetition of political dogma]…came in response to a number of opinions from…officials who suggested that sex work should be legalized in Vietnam as it serves an essential need of people and such legalization would help improve the management of sex workers…

Subtle Pimping (#445)

Jin Ohashi…is being questioned for his unethical way of taking photos [of]…Thai sex workers who don’t even know their photos were exhibited at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography…[Ohashi has] fondly and proudly talked about how he pretended to be a regular tourist and sneaked his camera into the brothels, where cameras are strictly prohibited.  He talked about his bravery of doing so against his local coordinator’s warning.  He even said, without the slightest nuance of guilt, that sex workers got panicked when his camera flashed and ran about trying to hide from him…the attitude shown by Ohashi indicates the less-than-human views he holds of the Thai sex workers…in [a] 2007 interview [he said]  sleeping dogs by the roadside and those girls had the same tension… whatever that means…Sandra

Monkey Business (#449) 

An orangutan named Sandra has become the first non-human animal recognized as a person in a court of law.  The Association of Officials and Lawyers for Animal Rights…had asked Argentine courts recognize the 28-year-old great ape’s right to freedom from unjust imprisonment…if the zoo does not challenge the decision within 10 working days, Sandra will be sent to a sanctuary in Brazil…The decision may have ramifications for other great apes.  In the United States, a group called the Nonhuman Rights Project is currently seeking similar rights for four privately-owned chimpanzees in New York state…

Banishment (#452)

Predictable as sunrise:

Timothy Poole, the…registered [sex offender who won the Florida] lottery…is being sued by two alleged victims who say he owes them for pain, suffering and psychological damages.  The two are brothers who were 5 and 9 years old at the time of the abuse in 1996…Their attorneys…are seeking a court order to freeze Poole’s [assets] until the proceedings are over because Poole may “squander, hide or otherwise dispose of assets”…

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After breaking down doors and waving…guns around, it’s gratifying [for cops]…to pacify terrified slaves by tasering them.  –  Joyce Arthur

Recognition

An elderly Italian man got a rather unwelcome surprise when he ordered an escort – and his…40-year-old son’s South American girlfriend…arrived at his house…the pair declined to take the encounter further and swiftly parted ways.  The man [decided]…to tell his son…prompting a bitter fight between the pair…the son [sued] his father for injuries…Barbie and Lammily

Barbie

While whitebread feminists wet themselves over the newest version of “Happy To Be Me”, Virginia Postrel isn’t having any of it:

…All right-thinking people  seem convinced that Barbie instills in her pre-school fans a false and remarkably detailed standard of beauty.  Hence the widespread  praise for Lammily, the latest anti-Barbie concept doll.  A crowd-funded project from artist Nickolay Lamm (the source of her ungainly moniker), Lammily is based on the average proportions for a 19-year-old…[but] the average 19-year-old female American stands 5 feet 4 inches tall.  She has a 33.6-inch waist and…weighs 150 pounds…If Lammily were true to life…she’d have rolls of fat, not a firm plastic tummy…Celebrating one version of average as “normal” and “realistic” implicitly stigmatizes everyone who doesn’t meet that standard.  Barbie doesn’t pretend to do that; Lammily does…

A Narrow View

This NPR article on diversion programs is full of the usual “sex trafficking” nonsense and dishonest platitudes about the programs’ effectiveness, but one section was especially troubling:

…Judge Pratt says that initially her treatment-focused approach…improved the ability to prosecute the traffickers.  But…a lot of the boys…were becoming pimps.  “The foster care system and juvenile justice system is creating both sides of this market, the suppliers and the goods,” she says…

Her revolting dehumanization of girls as “goods” is bad enough, but her willful mischaracterization of young male sex workers as “pimps” in order to prop up the vile “pimps and hos” myth is utterly reprehensible.

To Protect and Serve (August Updates)

San Diego cops use “sex trafficking” as an excuse to send a SWAT team to a strip club:

A manager at Cheetahs strip club says his dancers felt violated by police who photographed them almost nude…10 officers swarmed the building with guns and bulletproof vests, interrupting business for a couple of hours…to make sure all 30 dancers had proper permits and were in compliance…

Don’t Take My Word For It

Male delusions about sex work start extra-early in Sweden:  “Swedish police have received a report that three underage boys [as young as ten] speaking bad German tried to sell sex to women at a busy commuter hub in central Sweden…

Not for Everybody

Though Meg Munoz had a very bad time as a sex worker and for a while supported prohibition, she eventually recognized the harm it creates:

…Poorly conducted, [biased]…research needs to stop being used as the foundation for fundraising…the refusal to have sex work acknowledged as real work…has all but halted any civil discourse…Allowing moral biases to dictate policy is dangerous for those who are there by choice and force…

Above the Law Deon Nunlee

No, you lying asshole, it’s exactly what police officers do, which is why this is the second most common subtitle on the blog:

…while police responded to [a] domestic violence call, one of the officers allegedly took the woman into an upstairs bedroom and sexually assaulted her…Deon Nunlee has been charged…Detroit Police Chief James Craig said…“This is an anomaly.  This is not what our police officers do”…

In fact, here’s another in the same city:Geoffrey Townsend

A former Detroit police officer who was convicted of criminal sexual conduct involving participants in his boot camp for misbehaving teens is being sued by two of the victims…Geoffrey Townsend…began making unwelcome sexual advances [eventually culminating in rape when one]…victim was 13 years old…and…the…[other] 16…

And it’s not limited to the US, eitherScott Andrew Terry

[Durham, Ontario police Constable Scott Andrew Terry] sexually exploited [a 16-year-old girl] …with whom he first came into contact after she was busted for shoplifting in May of 2000.  Instead of filing charges…he…[offered] her a rental room in his house…[then] began making advances which…escalated to nude photos, sexual touching and eventually rape…“in exchange for the rent”…

First They Came for the Hookers… 

This dumb story about dumb strip-club restrictions in Chicago is, as you might expect, mostly just dumb.  But these comments from anti-whore zealot Bob Fioretti venture into a higher realm of dumbness:  “we have an underlying social problem.  Between 15,000 and 25,000 women a day engage in prostitution…in this city.  That underground activity undermines us a city — a world-class city…”  I’ll bet you didn’t know we were so dangerous, or that roughly 4% of the adult female population of Chicago were whores.

Higher Education (TW3 #23)

Unlike the last time we saw this, these teachers are actually qualified:

An enterprising association of sex workers in Barcelona has angered some of Spain’s most prominent feminists by offering an “intro to prostitution” course…at a cost of €45…the four-hour intensive course for aspiring sex workers was held last month by the Asociación de Profesionales del Sexo…Lidia Falcón…[who] has spent years fighting to have prostitution [criminalized] in Spain…said…the problem with the course lies in its underlying suggestion that some women are working in the profession out of their own free will…

So Falcón wants the course banned because it blatantly disproves her lies.

Imagination Pinned Down

Though the social climate which led to the Satanic Panic had been building for years, it was the McMartin Preschool hysteria that really launched it.  Now that it’s a generation in the past, even media outlets like the New York Times which fully embrace “sex trafficking” hysteria recognize its earlier incarnation for what it was.  Here’s a good retrospective called “McMartin Preschool: Anatomy of a Panic”; watch it with the current hysteria in mind and note the many parallels.

The Widening Gyre

If “authorities” don’t want stupid myths about women being abducted spreading around, they sure have a strange way of showing it:

[A rumor] warns of attempts to abduct women and girls in broad daylight at crowded shopping centers.  It warns that a new gang initiation requires members to kidnap, rape and beat womenBig Pimp and then dump them in parking lots.  For years, authorities have tried to keep such messages from spreading, debunking their claims as urban myths…

To clarify:  Women being abducted by gangs for quick rape = “right up there with Bigfoot”, but women abducted by gangs for years of captivity and sexual slavery = 100% credible.

South of the Border

In Mexico, a respected advocate is arrested as a “pimp” for helping sex workers organize:

…the recent arrest of Alejandra Gil…[is due to] new legislation, which…conflates sex work with human trafficking…Gil has worked tirelessly for the human rights of sex workers for many years…Laws and policies that target “third parties” under the premise of “protecting” sex workers, increase our vulnerability to abuse and exploitation, and create real barriers for sex workers organising…

Bottleneck

Considering that more than 90% of whores prefer to work illegally than submit to licensing, how well do you think this colossally stupid Italian law will work?

…prostitution will be permitted in private houses, subject to certain conditions, including the use of condoms…the draft law, which was presented…by…Maria Spillabotte…includes the issuance of a licence, stating that the holder is free of sexually transmitted diseases and confirming that a payment has been made…of €6,000 for a full-time licence or half that amount for part-time work…Prostitutes will also be required to get a certificate of mental fitness.  “This is a fundamental way of getting women away from coercion,” says Spillabotte.  “During an interview, the specialist will be able to tell if the girl is being forced into prostitution or if it is her free choice”…

That Old Black Magic

Patrick RockThe Sharjah Police…arrested an Arab woman and a man for forcing women into prostitution and engaging in black magic…

Buried Truth

When a politician obsesses about “protecting children from porn”, this is usually the reason:  “A senior aide to David Cameron resigned…the day before being arrested on allegations relating to child abuse images.  Patrick Rock…was involved in drawing up the government’s policy for…online pornography filters…

Between the Ears (TW3 #133)

This article on “Why Viagra Ruined Sex Work” quotes a few ladies whose names regular readers may recognize:

…“I wouldn’t say ED drugs are the worst thing, but they are really annoying,” laughed…Jolene Parton…“it…makes it harder for the client to come.”  Anna Gristina…dubbed [it]…“The working girl’s worst nightmare come true…It went from wham-bam, thank you ma’am,’ to ‘Oh my god, can you just finish, man’”…Amanda Brooks…says…men become obsessed with having an erection at the expense of any enjoyment for anyone…

It Looks Good On Paper (TW3 #311)

Texas joins the states arresting people to force them into “diversion” programs:  “The Corpus Christi Police…conducted a ‘Jane Sting’…in conjunction with the Red Cord Diversion Program…all six arrested persons were signed up to participate…rather than have criminal charges immediately applied.”  Yes, they actually referred to sex workers as “janes”.

The Crumbling Dam (TW3 #315)

Joyce Arthur hits it out of the park with this satire:

In a bold move aimed at protecting workers from exploitation while on the job, the government today passed a new law that criminalizes most employers and customers…Law and Order Minister Punter MacCunny…pointed out that 95 per cent of people hate their jobs and want out, according to a new government-commissioned study…Police welcomed the new law, which gives them sweeping new enforcement powers to target the huge increase in organized crime.  According to Det. Sgt. Billy Clubber, head of the RCMP’s new Slave Save Squad, “We’ll be cracking down on slavery rings, basically any place where workers are bribed with wages to provide services”…The law now designates employers and customers as “pimps” and “johns,” respectively…

Long Spoon (TW3 #351)

Reason’s video on condom criminalization specifically refers to the Human Rights Watch report condemning the practice in New Orleans:

Ladies of the Night

Saith Dr. Brooke Magnanti in The Telegraph:

It’s an unusual move to go from policy and social commentary to fiction, especially as the stories cover a range of genres from romance to crime to sci-fi.  And yet it works.  The eye for detail that fans of Maggie’s non-fiction writing appreciate is well played here.  She invents worlds with ease and populates them with thought-provoking, yet never two-dimensional, women and men.  If you love plots with twists, she has them to spare.  (If you’re not into twists, or women who aren’t always whiter than white, probably best to stay away.)  And the cover art by acclaimed cartoonist and Louis Riel author Chester Brown is wonderful.

She also reviews Daddy by Madison Young and Playing the Whore by Melissa Gira Grant.

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #410)

Sex columnist Suzi Godson presents “10 Things You Need to Know Before You Support the Swedish Model of Sex Work” in response to the new push by UK prohibitionists.  It’s not anything new for readers of this blog, but it’s possible ammo for online discussions you may get involved in.

Traffic Jam (TW3 #410)

Dominique Roe-Sepowitz answers the many criticisms of Project ROSE by denying them to Christian Post after refusing interviews with mainstream reporters.  And if you imagine the denials are substantive or backed by facts, think again:  her entire rationale for cooperating with cops to railroad people and deny them lawyers is, “sex-work…is against the law.”  Meanwhile, in last week’s other installment of “Traffic Jam”, a demonstration of the motivation behind the fakery:

A study of advertising placed during the recent Super Bowl in New Jersey suggests the volume of sex trafficking that will occur when the event comes to Arizona in 2015 will likely exceed the ability of any one law enforcement agency to address.  Phoenix Police Lt. James Gallagher, who co-authored the study…said law enforcement must coordinate to combat sex trafficking during major events…

In other words, “give us more money and power!”  Here’s a Storify of the fun several of us had with this mess last Saturday.

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There is nothing so absurd that it cannot be believed as truth if repeated often enough.  –  William James

Sixteen updates and two metaupdates.

Rough Trade (Part One) (July 25th, 2010)

Ah, synchronicity; the same week this early essay was featured on Debatbond to introduce the topic “Can a prostitute be raped?”, two California lawyers presented their own views on the subject in court.  Representing the “no” position:

Prosecutors dropped rape charges…against…Michael Stanford…[Defense attorney Roberto] Dulce said…the alleged victim was a prostitute and…the sexual contact between her and Stanford was consensual…In a dispute over money, the woman accused Stanford of rape…Dulce said he had witnesses who would testify that they, too, had engaged in sex with the woman…

Yet she didn’t accuse the other “witnesses” of rape, probably because they didn’t rape her.  I think we can guess what happened; “dispute over payment” means he cheated her, but since Fresno isn’t Cartagena he got away with it.  The story says the charge was dropped because “the alleged victim could not be found for Stanford’s trial”; she was probably afraid to go into a building full of cops.  It might have been different in Modesto:  “[Judge Linda McFadden]…denied a motion to overturn a grand jury indictment against…police officer…Lee Freddie Gaines…The alleged victim…testified…that she was working as a prostitute…[when Gaines] handcuffed her and demanded oral sex…

Amsterdam (November 1st, 2010)

Despite a total lack of evidence, Dutch police and anti-whore politicians keep beating the “sex trafficking” drum:

…Amsterdam…plans to force brothel owners to submit a business plan to the city describing what measures they are taking to ensure sex workers are healthy and not being exploited…in recent years both the city and national government have become increasingly critical of the industry.  [They claim] many prostitutes are victims of human trafficking or coerced by pimps…

It’s impossible to prove a negative (“whores are not coerced”); that’s why the burden of proof is supposed to be on the accuser.  And greater legal restrictions will only force whores into the shadows, providing greater opportunity for coercion as they always do.

December Q & A (December 28th, 2010)

Not even doctors and scientists are immune to idiotic male-ego-boosting myths:

…A stem cell expert is looking to treat sex workers with their bodies’ own stem cells, so they can have tight, toned vaginal muscles…“The idea…was tried…by a team of scientists in Japan.  They recruited commercial sex workers who wished to give up the trade and get married…” said Dr Himanshu Bansal…The clinical trial involved mostly young women, some of them mothers, who were worried that their vaginal muscles were too lax…

I hate to break this to you, guys, but your penises are not as big as babies.  Not even close.  No amount of sex, commercial or otherwise, can loosen the vaginal muscles; only babies do that.  Notice that “some of them mothers?”  The truth is “most of them.”

I Really Shouldn’t Even LOOK at an Issue of Cosmopolitan (January 18th, 2011)

I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s willing to say out loud that Cosmo’s “sex advice” is ludicrous; Ben Reininga writes “Ridiculous Tips for a Miserable Sex Life”, which this month features his hilarious picks for Cosmo’s 44 most ridiculous tips of all time.  Enjoy.

A Narrow View (April 29th, 2011)

An organization of young Chicago sex workers fights for their rights against a system which treats them as infantilized victims:

When youth who live on the streets and work in the sex trade…are victimized…often the institutions that are supposed to help them…do more harm than good.  [Leaders of]…the Young Women’s Empowerment Project…said, “We don’t dictate a young person’s future and make decisions for them, we support them to make it on their own”…While many organizations dealing with sex workers aim to help them leave sex work, YWEP maintains that it is a valid individual choice and practices a harm reduction philosophy…

Social Construction of Eunuchs (July 18th, 2011)

Apparently forced feminization of little boys isn’t enough for Swedish neofeminists any more:

Vänsterpartiet, [a feminist socialist party,] tabled a motion that would require office washrooms to be genderless with a sit-down-only requirement…Party speakers cited medical research they said shows men empty their bladders more efficiently while seated…[which] reduces the risk for prostate problems…[motion author] Viggo Hansen…[said] the move does not represent an attempt to meddle in the bathroom habits of citizens…

Wholesale Hypocrisy (October 12th, 2011)

It’s always refreshing to see judges slap witch-hunters down:

Instead of presenting prostitution-related charges against former University of New Mexico President F. Chris Garcia and others to a grand jury this week, prosecutors are now discussing the future of the case…[after] Judge Stan Whitaker…ruled that neither a website, an online message board nor a computer amount to a “house of prostitution or a place where prostitution is practiced, encouraged or allowed”…Garcia’s attorney, Robert Gorence…last month called on District Attorney Kari Brandenburg “to…[exonerate] Dr. Garcia” after owning up to “the mistake she made when she bought in to APD’s flawed investigation and exaggerated charges…[Garcia] never received a penny from any such activities nor did he control or direct the activities of women who advertised as escorts”…

As another legal expert stated, “Connecting people to do whatever they want to do is not illegal, it never has been.”  And as Melissa Gira Grant succinctly put it, “Data is not prostitution.”

Forward and Backward (November 22nd, 2011)

While American prohibitionists continue to demand that whores’ advertising be censored, Spain has moved into the 21st century:  “…the Spanish parliament reversed a 2010 ban on advertising by…prostitutes and brothels…[in order] to stimulate Spain’s poor economy.  The sex industry spent approximately €40 million annually on advertising, according to a 2007 report…”  Perhaps if the economy continues to worsen, American politicians may eventually wake up; this is, after all, the same reason alcohol Prohibition was repealed in 1932.

The More the Better (January 9th, 2012)

This article about University of Wyoming students who work as strippers is not only fairly sensible, but includes these encouraging words from Women’s Studies (!) professor Susan Dewey:

“It is a reality that some women see sex work as a form of liberation…in recent years…trafficking has become conflated with sex work…I have many students who will use [the] terms prostitution and trafficking synonymously, interchangeably.  This is very, very problematic because when you say to someone ‘you do not have the right to do something legally’ that’s one thing…but when you say to a person ‘you think are making a choice but you’re actually not, because no person with self-respect would make that choice,’ that’s a real problem.”

The Course of a Disease (February  16th, 2012)

This week Scottish Labour MP Rhoda Grant was defeated in her attempt to fast-track Swedish Model legislation without allowing opponents to speak:

The proposal…must now go out to consultation, instead of taking a quicker route through the Scottish Parliament.  Ms Grant argued a previous attempt to pass such a law meant the issues had already been aired…A similar proposal in 2010 was opposed by ministers, who feared it would push the sex trade underground.  Critics of such legislation believe that making workers in the sex trade less visible to the authorities would place them in greater danger…

Here’s an example of how different the US and UK can be sometimes:  one of the groups opposed to client criminalization is the Association of Chief Police Officers.  Dr. Brooke Magnanti’s excellent essay on the issue concludes with the eminently-quotable line, “It’s time we started acting like grownups and stopped pretending that making something illegal makes it cease to exist.”

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (March 3rd, 2012)

The new “Trafficking in Persons Report” has been released; Algeria, Central African Republic, Congo, Cuba, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Kuwait, Libya, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen and Zimbabwe are now on Tier 3, “Countries whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so” (those “standards” are defined by the US via methods it neither discusses with anyone else nor even explains).  Several other countries were raised to Tier 2 after they stepped up pogroms against whores (as Malaysia did in 2008), and Israel was promoted to Tier 1 (probably due to its flirtation with the Swedish Model).

The Immunity Syndrome (March 5th, 2012)

Parents in Onalaska, Washington are reportedly “furious” that a school principal honestly answered students’ questions in a sex education class; apparently, the parents expected her to lie, and one of them said that talking about sex in a sex education class is “just the same as raping somebody.”

Above the Law (March 8th, 2012)

The British government has finally admitted that cops are allowed to trick women into having sex while spying on them:  “[Home Office Minister Nick] Herbert said it was important police were allowed to have sex with activists because otherwise it could be used as a way of outing potential undercover officers…” In other words they’re allowed to do whatever they like, including rape, in order to accomplish whatever it is they want to do.

Little Boxes (April 29th, 2012)

The inevitable result of trying to make artificial distinctions between consensual behaviors:

The owner of a [Las Vegas] massage business…says she’s losing crucial business because of a [new] city law requiring her to close at 10 p.m…”If we don’t get an extension, I’ll be closed within a month…The daytime does not pull in what we need to cover.  It is barely paying the rent for that space and utilities.”  Mayor Carolyn Goodman said changing the ordinance for the Johnsons would set a precedent for more than 50 other “massage establishment” licensees…

As I’ve said before, “attempting to define sexuality…as being in the… ‘legal’ category rather than the…‘illegal’ one is a tacit acknowledgement that such lines of demarcation are valid and that government has the right to draw them…even if one wins the battle, the government can simply re-draw the line to include one’s entrenched position.”  The Johnsons are learning that the hard way.

Naked Truth (May 23rd, 2012)

I’m going to use this title for articles written by current or former sex workers in mainstream sites or publications.  This time, two outstanding pieces by Tits and Sass contributors:  “The Ways We Don’t Talk About Wealth” by Charlotte Shane in The New Inquiry, and “Can Sex Workers Transition to a Cashless Economy?” by Susan Shepard (AKA Bubbles Burbujas) in Forbes.

Reframing (June 20th, 2012)

My friend LilyRose sent me a link to this “reframed” trailer, which is exactly the opposite of the Mrs. Doubtfire one and just as clever:

Metaupdates

Law of the Instrument in TW3 (#20) (May 19th, 2012)

Think about these stories next time you hear some “authority” blathering about how “trafficking” has increased.  The first one comes via Wendy Lyon:  “A 30-year-old man…[was] charged with an offence under the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act…[after] travelling to Ireland [to meet] a child, having…communicated with that child on two or more previous occasions with the intent of doing an act that would constitute sexual exploitation…” And here’s another one from Minneapolis, Minnesota:

[Mickey Cupkie]…has been charged under Minnesota’s new Sex Trafficking law for having sex with two teen prostitutes, ages 15 and 17…The girls were runaways, says Minneapolis Police Sgt. Grant Snyder…He says pimps picked the girls up…and then placed an add [sic] on Backpage.com…Ramsey County Attorney John Choi says he hopes the charges send a message to the Johns…

Said message being, “’trafficking’ means whatever we want it to mean, and if girls act alone we’ll just invent pimps and ‘traffickers’ to fit the narrative.”

See No Evil in TW3 (#21) (May 26th, 2012)

Even Sweden gets it right once in a while:  “Swedish news outlet The Local  reports that their Supreme Court has overturned the conviction of manga translator Simon Lundström on child pornography charges…The court’s decision reflects the viewpoint of free speech advocates…that sexually explicit manga images are…not child pornography…

One Year Ago Today

Lola Montez” was one of the most colorful courtesans of the 19th (or any other) century.

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Corruption is worse than prostitution.  The latter might endanger the morals of an individual, the former invariably endangers the morals of the entire country.  –  Karl Kraus

As we’ve discussed many times before, Americans have the distressing tendency to pretend that all prostitutes are streetwalkers, even though any person who isn’t living in a fantasy world has at a minimum heard of escorts and massage parlor girls.  And in the past few years this already-distorted view has become even narrower as the rhetoric that the “vast majority” of streetwalkers (whom the fanatics represent as the “vast majority” of whores) are both underage and coerced.  And though people like Kristin Davis try to build their fortunes on these lies, the truth is that only about 3.5% of all prostitutes are underage.  This means there are only about 15,700 underage prostitutes in the United States, and as we shall see only a small percentage of those are coerced in any way, much less “trafficked sex slaves”.

When I wrote the above-linked column in January I had no way of estimating what percentage of underage girls are coerced, but I recently came across that information in an article from Feministing written in response to the media hullabaloo surrounding the publication of Rachel Lloyd’s book Girls Like Us.  Lloyd is a former underage prostitute who founded the Girls Educational & Mentoring Services (GEMS), a New York City organization dedicated to offering a refuge to young girls involved in street prostitution.  And though Lloyd has done some important work, including advocating for the decriminalization of underage prostitution, I’m afraid that her message (she points out that criminalization hurts prostitutes of all ages) has been hijacked by creeps like Nicholas Kristof (a trafficking fetishist of the most transparent kind whom I have mentioned before) to promote persecution of adult prostitutes and clients.  The Feministing article appeared on April 25th and  includes this long excerpt from a comment written by one of the organizers of an organization called INCITE! in response to this article on Colorlines:

The Safe Harbor Act, along with initiatives like it that Lloyd and others are promoting across the country, are NOT simple or solutions for most of us.  First, they don’t stop arrests of young people for prostitution-related offenses, or the police abuses of young people in the sex trades, including police trading sex in exchange for promises of dropping charges.  They also don’t stop arrests of young people in the sex trades that involve “charging up,” i.e. charging young people with weapons or drug-related offenses which may be easier to prove.  Second, while they may stop criminal prosecutions of young people for prostitution-related offenses, these laws do not eliminate detention and punishment of young people involved in the sex trades, they just shift young people from the jurisdiction of the criminal courts to family court systems, where they can remain entangled until the age of 21.  And, in the end, only a very narrow group of people can benefit from these laws.

For example, in order for the Safe Harbor Act to benefit a young person, they must be under 16 and arrested for the first time and must never have been in family court before.  Young people between the ages of 16-18 continue to be charged in adult court.  Even those under 16 who can meet the Act’s criteria must still convince a judge that they are a “victim” of a “severe form of trafficking” – a hurdle that both Sen and Lloyd acknowledge is almost impossible for young girls of color.  This is also a problem because most young people’s stories do not fit into a neat box.  A National Institutes of Justice funded study by researchers at John Jay College in New York City found that only 8% of young people involved in the sex trades in New York City had been forced into prostitution by a “pimp,” and only 10% currently worked with one.  The same study found that 16% of girls and 6% of boys trading sex were coerced, but the vast majority of girls (84%) engaged in the sex trades in New York City had never come into contact with a “pimp.”  When young people can’t respond to police and prosecutors’ pressure to give up a “pimp” they never had they get punished by law enforcement and service providers alike, and find themselves back on the delinquency and detention track.  Even when the Safe Harbor Act (and other laws like it) is found to apply to a young person, they must still follow the rules a family court judge sees fit, which can involve attending a court-mandated program…, many of which enforce Christianity on participants.  Additionally, for young people for whom no such services are available, including LGBTQ young people and young men in the sex trades, such legislation offers little or no relief whatsoever.

The Feministing article includes a great deal more and is, I think, worth your time; it contains points such as “…it’s important to remember – there are people, including young people, who want to do sex work in a safe environment, without experiencing state violence at the hands of the police and social services – which is the greatest danger they face according to young people in the sex trade.”  But the thing which caught my attention the most was the John Jay study:  only 16% of underage female prostitutes are coerced, which is a direct repudiation of Estes and Weiner’s ridiculous claim that ALL underage female prostitutes, without exception, are coerced.  If we apply that 16% to my estimate of the total number of underage prostitutes, we arrive at a total of 2511 coerced underage female prostitutes in the United States…roughly 1% of what the trafficking fanatics would have us believe.  And that certainly explains why they, the cops and the FBI have so much trouble finding any.

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