Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Acting and Activism’

No one should be comfortable with state-funded employees determining what is or isn’t acceptable for adults to read.  –  Eric Paul Leue

The Pro-Rape Coalition 

Are there still people who believe the French are sexually liberal?

“We are not a puritan society,” French President Emmanuel Macron claimed…He then called for the criminalization of wolf-whistling and gender-based insults, and for requiring France’s TV and radio regulators to police video games and web content…[especially] online pornography, which Macron sees (sans evidence) as a prominent cause of violence against girls and women.  Porn is infiltrating French schools, Macron warned, and “we cannot ignore the kind that makes women an object of humiliation”…

What Would Orrin Hatch Do?

I guess six and a half years without a library internet censorship attempt isn’t too bad a run:

[Using the excuse] of out-in-the-open porn viewing, public sex, drug use and theft at [Los Angeles] city libraries, a pair of [politicians] is proposing [censorship software]…David Ryu…[and] Nury Martinez [vomited out several variations of “For the children!”, pretending this constituted an actual argument]…the Free Speech Coalition (FSC)…[correctly] argues that doing so could violate taxpayers’ First Amendment right…FSC executive director Eric Paul Leue said… “Filtering software sounds like an easy solution, but we know that such software often casts an egregiously wide net, blocking not only sexually explicit content but also sexual health information, LGBTQ sites and sites…which…discuss…issues relevant to the adult industry…In the past year alone, we’ve seen magazines like Cosmopolitan  attacked as pornography in conservative districts, just as we’ve seen crackdowns on LGBTQ content and imagery, and mere nudity elsewhere”…

Setting Women’s Rights Back a Century

It’s a little reassuring to see somebody else recognize this:

…while we think we are moving forward, we may be willingly transporting ourselves back to a more sexually restrictive era, one that denied agency to women…sexual laws and regulations have most often been strengthened in the name of protecting children…Sometimes the children are symbolic: anti-gay crusades are almost invariably framed in terms of “saving the children”— not specific children, but just the children who have to share a country with queers.  In the current American conversation, women are increasingly treated as children:  defenseless, incapable of consent, always on the verge of being victimized.  This should give us pause.  Being infantilized has never worked out well for women.

Acting and Activism (#565) 

Good riddance to bad anti-whore rubbish:

Lena Dunham may be the first person to fabricate details of her alleged rape, then proclaim all women’s claims need to be believed, and then publicly accuse a young woman of lying about having been raped.  Finally, the star and creator of Girls has been exposed as the empty vessel she is…Dunham…speaks, usually unbidden, with complete moral and philosophical authority — until she’s called out online, at which point she furiously and pathetically backpedals…She’s a total hypocrite…and…narcissist who possesses no intellectual rigor, no belief system, no relationship with the truth…

The Puritan Recrudescence

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

Each new revelation since the first reports of the Harvey Weinstein scandal adds to the discussion about how to deal with sexual harassment and sexual violence in American society. And yet nobody is talking about what could be one of the most effective ways to attack the problem: Recognizing that pornography consumption is a public health crisis…the heavy use of pornography skews the users’ perception of what is normal…We have a sexual violence problem because we have a porn problem…the evidence is mounting that porn is addictive…

All of this is pure, undistilled bullshit; as this article explains, the “porn as public health crisis” propaganda is a dodge dreamed up by prohibitionist Gail Dines and used by politicians in socially-conservative states as an excuse for censorship.  In reality (as opposed to prohibitionists’ anti-sex fantasyland) all the evidence points to porn viewing decreasing sexual violence, and regular readers know that the “sex addiction” myth, the big sister of “porn as health crisis”, is not only unsupported by evidence but dying a quick death due to the antics of the same abusive douchebag this prohibitionist tries to hang his pro-censorship screed on.

Against Their Will (#707)

Prohibitionists call this “rescue”:

A…sex worker fell to her death in Queens [New York because of] a police raid [last]…Saturday night…[grown men pretending to be big heroes] stormed a massage parlor [as though they were in a war or something]…Police say they were trying to [capture and arrest] the 38-year-old woman when they saw her fall to the sidewalk from a third floor window.  She suffered serious injuries, and died Sunday at the hospital.  The medical examiner will determine the exact cause of death.

Because “falling to her death while fleeing in terror from rapists who want to torture her & lock her in a cage” isn’t exact enough?

Rooted in Racism (#732) 

No, this wasn’t a “mistake”; it was a deliberate action proceeding directly from government-approved profiling guidelines:

A vacation to Cancun…ended in anguish when an Atlanta-area woman…and her friend were mistaken on the flight home for human trafficking victims.  The incident…has put a spotlight on the [harms inflicted on minority women by “sex trafficking” hysteria]…Stephanie Ung…was [interrogated] by U.S. Customs and Border Protection…for more than an hour upon arriving at the airport…”I just kept telling them that I wanted to go home for my family Thanksgiving dinner, and that they were making me late, but they just didn’t care,” Ung said through tears.  “They just laughed”…Ung, who is Asian American, said that she believes her race was a factor in the situation…A Delta spokesperson said that another passenger on the flight [fantasized] someone else was in possession of the women’s passports…and [snitched]…to the crew…

Is anyone so gullible as to believe that their being young Asian women had nothing to do with this?

Against Their Will (#766) 

It’s good to see this getting more attention lately:

In Hyderabad in particular there are some very powerful and very well-funded anti-trafficking organisations that…[pretend] any form of sex work [is] a form of trafficking…NGOs…[are] working in combination with the police…processing women and locking them up in “shelters”….[that] operate as jails…Their phones are taken away.  They’re not allowed to contact their families, they’re not allowed to contact their friends that could help them.  Their money is taken away, sometimes even their jewellery is taken away…They are kept against their will…completely cut off from…their life…there is an actual monetary gain to be had by trafficking these women off the streets and into shelters.  So…it actually meets all of the qualifications set out by the Palermo Protocol.  Women themselves are calling this a form of trafficking and…attempt to…escape…Some women attempt suicide…

Safe Targets (#766) 

Not for ANY reason WHATSOEVER.  No, your reason is not an exception:

A woman who reported being kidnapped and raped over a six month period to the police was arrested as she sought care…The woman, who was five months pregnant…was…taken into custody at an east London police station. She was then interrogated over her immigration status…

The Notorious Badge (#772)

OK, so maybe she was listening after all:

Maggie Gyllenhaal thinks prostitution should be decriminalised.  The…actress plays a sex worker in her new TV show The Deuce and she thinks it would be safer and healthier for everyone involved…if it was no longer a criminal act…

Wise Investment (#779)

Even though we’re going to lose many of these, lawsuits are for the present our best weapon against prohibitionists:

…it looked like City Attorney Pete Holmes’ tactic for leveraging harsh punishments against sex buyers was in trouble.  A filing from a public defender working on behalf of one of the men caught up in the city’s massage parlor stings revealed that the prosecutor had directed his attorneys not to offer pre-trial diversion to men accused of buying sex.  The strategy…contradict[s] the city’s lauded criminal justice reform efforts allowing people accused of other misdemeanor crimes to avoid criminal convictions.  Public defenders also expressed concern that a sting operation that trapped defendants into guilty pleas could have far more serious consequences for undocumented residents…A law firm hired by the city (to the tune of $60,000) argued in King County Superior Court that…the sex buyer in question didn’t have a due process right to pre-trial diversion…attorney Bob Goldsmith…asked King County Superior Court Judge Sean O’Donnell to recuse himself from the case…[because] O’Donnell had participated in the King County Commercially Sexually Exploited Children Task Force, which supported the “end demand” strategy enshrined in the city attorney’s prosecutorial decisions…Judge O’Donnell [naturally] rejected the motion to recuse himself, as well as Goldsmith’s other arguments…


To Molest and Rape (#782)

What kind of sick fuck enrolls their kids in a program specifically intended to groom them into members of a gang of violent thugs?  “A San Leandro [cop] resigned…[after admitting] sexual misconduct with a teenage Police Explorer…Marco Becerra…[molested] a 17-year-old girl…”  I mean, just LOOK at this creepy fuck; would you trust him around your daughter?

Buried Truth (#790) 

Given their propensity for badge-licking, I reckon it’s no surprise social conservatives like sleazy entrapment schemes so much:

A woman who falsely claimed to The Washington Post that Roy Moore…impregnated her as a teenager appears to work with an organization that uses deceptive tactics to secretly record conversations in an effort to embarrass its targets…During the interviews, she repeatedly pressed Post reporters to give their opinions on the effects that her claims could have on Moore’s candidacy if she went public…When Post reporters confronted her with inconsistencies in her story and an Internet posting that raised doubts about her motivations, she insisted that she was not working with any organization that targets journalists.  But on Monday morning, Post reporters saw her walking into the New York offices of Project Veritas, an organization that targets the mainstream news media and left-leaning groups.  The organization sets up undercover “stings” that involve using false cover stories and covert video recordings meant to expose what the group says is media bias…

You may recognize the resemblance to the failed attempt at framing Planned Parenthood in 2011.

Read Full Post »

The only issue is that the people having sex are consenting to it and anything else is an arbitrary moral judgement which no one has the right to make.  –  Stephanie Farnsworth

The Rescuers

Harassing streetwalkers to scare away their clients has become a popular “Christian” pastime:

Valerie Carter…has been prowling some of the toughest highways in Richmond, Virginia…for the past eight years.  She and her “streetwalking ministry” volunteers look for women and girls caught up in the local sex trade……they…pray with the women, hug them, give them a list of resources to help them get out of the trade.  They keep the visits short to avoid putting the women at risk of beatings from their pimps…Carter says. “No one dreamed about being in this kind of business.”  But they are in it, most of them unwillingly.  Someone else makes money by exploiting them, whether it’s a pimp or a trafficker…

Acting and Activism Amal Clooney

Apparently, she’s less human rights lawyer and more Hollywood propagandist these days:

Amal Clooney took her first trip to Dallas to…[speak] before a sold-out crowd at the annual New Friends New Life luncheon…The event raised more than $1 million for the anti-trafficking organization, which [claims to] offer…counseling, housing and other services to 1,400 formerly trafficked teens and women every year…

In actuality, the “services” this organization “offers” are the usual things: feel-good bullshit like art therapy and a photocopied list of government welfare programs.

Droit du Seigneur 

I just love watching them eat their own:

Federal prosecutors…have indicted two DEA employees for moonlighting as strip club owners and then purportedly lying about it to their bosses…Special Agent David Polos and Greg Glover, a telecommunications specialist, have been charged with conspiracy and making false statements in connection with the forms they submitted to renew their national security clearances…Polos and Glover conspired to conceal their ownership of the New Jersey strip joint, “Twins Go-Go Lounge”, and that Polos also failed to disclose an “intimate relationship” with one of its foreign dancers that lasted for months…the government [alleges]…prostitution, drug use, employment of illegal immigrants, and running the club during “DEA business hours”…

Divided We Fall

Go, Stephanie Farnsworth!

The fact that many LGBT people end up in sex work is an issue often overlooked rather conveniently by many activists and charities.  Sex work is still talked about in moralizing terms, and the…image of the LGBT world in recent campaigns has been that of white cisgender gay people in long term relationships, often with children…The heart of the demand for LGBT rights is the idea that all people should be granted autonomy over their lives and bodies, that anyone should be allowed to sleep with who they choose and that it only concerns the people in the relationship and not the government or bigots…People enter into sexual relationships for all kinds of reasons.  It is rarely a fairytale of two people falling in love.  Sometimes it is for fun, but many engage in [transactional] sex…or…to shut their partner up.  The list is endless and every reason is valid…It is simply hypocritical for LGBT activists to fight for bodily autonomy but deny it to sex workers, and given the huge numbers of people within the community who engage in sex work it also throws a lot of LGBT people under the bus…

I’m Sure You Feel Safer Now

Norman Ochs is facing charges for allegedly hiring prostitutes…The 76-year-old was charged…with four crimes.  Each misdemeanor count carries up to a 93-day jail sentence…

Blunt Instrument

Massage parlors are popular targets of “anti-trafficking” pogroms because they’re low-hanging fruit and the sex workers, nearly always immigrants, can easily be pressured to “co-operate” or be deported:

…federal law enforcement has rebranded as a sort of national ministry for vice prevention…Department of Homeland Security (DHS) investigators and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials conducted a widespread raid on Korean massage parlors in New York City, which the feds allege were…fronts for commercial sexual activity…11 massage-parlor owners were…charged with conspiracy to launder money and to violate the federal Travel Act…informants…who…[are] “cooperating with law enforcement in the hope of receiving a more lenient sentence”…[say] the alleged prostitution…was not being forced upon the staff.  Any money earned from such endeavors was split between workers and business owners, and workers were free to come and go as they pleased…Nonetheless, the indictment refers to the massage parlors as “commercial sex trafficking businesses”…

Monsters 

Though the reporter couldn’t resist mentioning a past criminal charge, at least NBC refrained from publishing her mugshot:  “…a transgender woman who may have been working as a prostitute…Keyonna Blakeney…was found dead, with trauma to the upper body, in a [hotel in] Montgomery County [Maryland]…

Cops and Robbers Adam LaRoche

The rescue industry provides many opportunities for wealthy white folks to play cowboy:

Adam LaRoche is a 36-year-old who played Major League baseball for 12 seasons before causing a ruckus by retiring earlier this year…the first baseman, a conservative Christian, “spent 10 days in November in Southeast Asian brothels, wearing a hidden camera and doing undercover work to help rescue underage sex slaves”…LaRoche…[and] Milwaukee Brewers pitcher…Blaine Boyer… “tried to determine the age of the girls…and identify their bosses”…

Safe Targets (#512)

My friend Tara Burns, still doggedly fighting for sex workers in Alaska, with the help of Maxine Doogan of ESPLERP:

…What Burns and Maxine Doogan really want is for prostitution to be decriminalized.  That’s the mission of the advocacy group they started, Community United for Safety and Protection (CUSP)…[but in the meantime] they’re after the next best thing:  improved safety and protection for those in Alaska’s sex industry and equal protection as citizens under the law…The two women…stayed in Juneau the entire legislative session, pushing for the passage of Senate Bill 21…[which] grants prostitutes immunity for prosecution when they come forward as a victim or witness of a violent crime…

Doubling Down

This is mostly just ignorant cheerleading for a do-nothing law, but it contains a repetition of the moronic statement, “It is estimated that here in the United States more than 100,000 children are victims of human sex trafficking each year.”  For an analysis of what that would actually look like in the real world, click on the subtitle above.  I reckon it’s a good thing Aleeshia Carroll is majoring in social work, because basic math is obviously far out of her grasp.

The Widening Gyre (#616)

Misinterpreting ordinary interactions is common at the height of a moral panic:

The propaganda-created panic over sex trafficking in your own backyard!!!! has claimed yet another victim…Amanda Kalidy…was shopping at Target [in Edmond, OK] with her 4-year-old daughter when another young girl began following them and repeatedly asking her daughter for candy.  Kalidy says she asked the other child where her mom was, but the girl, who looked about 9 years old, did not answer.  Later the girl offered her daughter some gum.  That’s when Kalidy noticed a “strange” man nearby.  Obviously, the only explanation for the situation is that the man wanted to steal Kalidy’s daughter so he could sexually exploit her and was using this other child as bait…She reported the incident to a Target manager, who allegedly told her that that’s “what [sex traffickers] do is target places like Target.”  For the record, there have been zero reported cases of sex traffickers kidnapping children from Target in the history of the United States…

The Public Eye (#618)

Color me unsurprised:

The Las Vegas Madam: The Escorts, The Clients, The Truth is the tell-all memoir of Jami Rodman, the madam who came to fame by employing…Suzy Favor Hamilton...this book was…written more to play to outsiders’ expectations than to advocate for the people Rodman worked with…What really got to me, though, wasn’t the manner in which Rodman chose which stories to tell, focusing on titillating accounts such as nonconsent roleplays gone wrong and customers with pedophilic ageplay fetishes.  It was her disdainful attitude toward other sex workers and the industry…the book certainly doesn’t foster sex worker solidarity, nor does it paint a nuanced picture of escorts…At one point, Rodman cites statistics from [Melissa Farley‘s] “Prostitution Research”, a site which is heavily affiliated with rescue industry organizations…it became painfully clear to me that she was buying into the flawed statistics, salacious reporting, and misleading accounts of the wider industry put forward by abolitionists rather than trusting her own sex work experiences and those of the many women she worked with whose lives stand in direct contrast to prohibitionist tropes.  It’s funny that she quotes a website which would label her a trafficker…

Traffic Jam (#619)

Of course, even if Weyker and the department lose, the money won’t come out of their pockets. But the more lawsuits against the cops, the better:

A dozen or more people who say they were harmed by a discredited sex trafficking case soon could be suing the St. Paul Police Department and Sgt. Heather Weyker, according to the attorney representing…Yassin Abdirahman Yusuf [who] is seeking $20 million in damages for the more than four years he spent in jail on sex trafficking charges based on exaggeration and lies…[Attorney Robert] Bennett said he has another nine or 10 people preparing to sue, and other lawyers have several more.  Earlier this month, Hamdi Ali Osman…filed the first suit arising from the dismissed charges, seeking $12 million…

Read Full Post »

Social policies do not have to be so dumb.  –  Laura Agustín

The Scarlet Letter

This article is so stupidly evil it’s almost fascinating:

A plan to publicly shame those who solicit sex with minors moved forward…with a draft ordinance covering Los Angeles County expected next week…Don Knabe has been pushing for a “shame campaign” since late last year…the…ordinance that would provide for the publication of names and booking photos of those convicted of soliciting prostitution or loitering with intent to solicit prostitution…Sheila Kuehl…questioned the practice of arresting people for loitering with intent, saying she thought the allegation amounted to “mind reading”…The Los Angeles Times editorial board, when Knabe first made his proposal, called the plan “anachronistic” and said it amounted to “sensationalism”…

Parable Kesha

Noah Berlatsky with another analogy for the absurdity of prohibition:

Should young women be allowed to enter the music industry?  That seems like a preposterous question.  But consider:  Kesha…filed a lawsuit against her former producer Dr. Luke…alleging that he had sexually, physically, and mentally abused her for a decade…Kesha’s lawsuit also alleges that Sony music refused to take steps to stop the abuse, and even covered up for it…The situation is not rare; producers and managers like Phil Spector and Ike Turner have physically and mentally abused their artists for years…Shouldn’t there be laws in place to prevent women from entering an industry such as this where they can be abused and harmed?  It should be clear why this is a bad idea.  Heavy-handed restrictions on women would hurt women, not protect them.  To make it illegal for women to be musicians and pop stars would be abusive and unfair in itself…And yet, when it comes to sex work, restricting women’s options in the name of “protecting” them is suddenly seen as reasonable, logical, and necessary…

Saving Them From Themselves

How many more kids’ lives have to be destroyed before we stop the cops?

Police in a Pennsylvania school district have charged at least three kids—one of them just 11 years old—with distributing sexually explicit pictures of other minors.  They…face juvenile detention, expulsion, and a variety of other life-altering consequences.  This is somehow in their best interests—and the interests of kids everywhere—authorities claim…The levelling of charges…should not be viewed as some low-cost precondition to keeping kids safe, but a horrible, life-derailing consequence in and of itself…But we live in a country where paranoid delusions about safety provide cover for police to enforce absurd laws that make life miserable for kids…

Surplus Women 

Kenyan police are investigating the murders of 10 women working as prostitutes, a record number of attacks in one month that has led to fears of a serial killer…campaigners have called on the government to legalise prostitution and offer proper protection to vulnerable women.  The police commander in the town of Nakuru, where four bodies were found, said an intense manhunt was under way…Hassan Barua said security had been improved in the area, but would not comment on whether one suspect was wanted for multiple murders…

Bad Fantasy, Good Reality

Because they are?

When the issue of sex workers in Thailand is brought up, any discussion is usually characterized with words of “exploitation”, “coercion”, and “human trafficking”.  However…Some…girls…[feel] that sex work [is] a means of emancipating themselves economically…A prevailing attitude…[is] that they feel better being paid for the sex they provide, rather than providing sex to a husband in a dead end relationship that they get nothing for.  This was most prevalent in those who had been married before…Some even talk about providing sex as helping clients with a basic need…What was most common with those sex workers who had been prudent financially, was a satisfaction with their career as a sex worker…

The Mother Learns From Her Children

Sex worker rights activists from around the world will join researchers and experts to present evidence to parliament in support of the decriminalisation of sex work.  The day-long symposium, organised by the English Collective of Prostitutes and hosted by shadow chancellor John McDonnell, is an opportunity for parliamentarians and the public to sidestep the charged emotion of international debates on the nature of sex work and hear crime-related, humanitarian, and public health analyses from leading academics and campaigners…The symposium will compare the outcomes of Sweden’s criminalisation of the buying of sex with the full decriminalisation model that has flourished in New Zealand…activists from Thailand, Taiwan, Canada and South Africa will explain how criminalisation, rescue and rehabilitation programs have affected sex workers there.  Rachel West, an American sex worker rights activist, will explore how a recent surge in anti-trafficking policing has disproportionately affected black sex workers and their clients…

The Lion and the Ox

Laura Agustín on the uselessness of the term “human trafficking”:

…There are young people now who have grown up surrounded by campaigning against trafficking, unaware there is conflict about how to define the term.  Some want to dedicate energy to combating what is figured as a modern social evil.  Some compare themselves with 19th-century anti-slavery advocates and feel outraged that anyone would question what they are doing…after…the idea of trafficking began its ascent…we who were interested in migration, sex work and labour policy realised it was useless for gaining equity or rights…the assumption is this human mobility to work is fomented by criminals who use force and coercion against their victims…Behind this over-simplification and over-focus on sex lie real social inequalities and oppressions:  migration policies that favour middle- and upper-class jobs, out-of-date notions of the formal economy and productive labour, young people who want to get away from home, job-seekers willing to take risks to make more money, laws that make commercial sex illegal, laws that make sweatshops illegal and…more.  To lump all this under a single term simply disappears the array of different situations, encourages reductionism and feeds into a moralistic agenda of Good and Evil…

King of the Hill (#421)

“The Harvard of sex trafficking” has now morphed into “The Harvard of pimp school”.  Or was it really the other way around?  Does it really matter, when both phrases are utterly ludicrous?

Milwaukee has become “the Harvard of pimp school” and Wisconsin is a hub of human trafficking, a [self-declared] expert has said in the wake of an FBI sting last month in which nine adolescents were [arrested]…meaning Milwaukee is tied with Las Vegas for the third highest number of young people [arrested]…Denver topped the list, with 20…and Detroit was next with 19.  Over the past four years, however, Milwaukee has consistently ranked among the top five cities in the nation for [arrests of underage sex workers]…

If Men Were Angels

Government is just a word for the things we choose to do together:

A…Houston mother of two says she was raped in her hospital bed by a doctor…she reported the rape to nurses who responded with cold skepticism.  She had to wait nearly two years for police to collect the alleged attacker’s DNA and make an arrest.  And now…Dr. Shafeeq Sheikh…may get off scot-free in civil court.  And Texas law may entitle her to only modest compensation from Sheikh’s employer at the time of the rape, the prestigious Baylor College of Medicine…Baylor doctors staff Ben Taub, which is a public hospital owned by Harris County.  The doctor isn’t the only one who can deploy the “government unit” shield.  Baylor lawyers have successfully argued that the college itself can be construed as a government entity and is entitled to the same protections a county institution would enjoy…Baylor can argue it is immune to the claim altogether…and…the Texas Supreme Court has ruled that rape in some circumstances is covered by medical malpractice laws…Gillian Anderson looking stupid again

Acting and Activism (Traffic Updates) 

Anderson’s right at home in a movie based on ridiculous, exaggerated conspiracy theories:

Gillian Anderson wasn’t expecting to appear in the movie Sold.  The actress, known for her role on The X-Files, had initially been approached by…director Jeffrey Brown…about just being part of the film’s campaign.  She immediately said yes because she felt passionate about…sex trafficking…”High school students go missing and they are…forced into prostitution where there is violence and they don’t get paid for being a sex slave…And they get brainwashed into being a part of a community and they are terrified for their lives to escape”…

Safe Targets (#452)

Tara Burns, Maxine Doogan and two others on “sex trafficking” in Alaska:

…Last year a woman dialed 911 in Anchorage and reported that she had been a victim of sex trafficking.  When the [cops]…decided to follow up with her they…traveled to where she was working as an independent escort and…posed as a customer to book an appointment with her and meet her in a sexual context.  Then [they] placed her in handcuffs, threatened her with felony charges, and told her nobody would be able to “actually” love her as she was.  In response to a…complaint about this incident, the Department of Public Safety explained that this is a common “strategy of building rapport” with victims…

Vendetta (#518)

Oakland City Council Takes Stand Against Sex Workers“.  Seriously.

On October 20…[Oakland, California] endorsed…The “CEASE Network”…a project of Demand Abolition, a Boston-based program dedicated to “eradicating the illegal commercial sex industry” by going after “demand.”  That means targeting clients…Demand Abolition is a program of Hunt Alternatives, the foundation of Swanee Hunt…the daughter of…oil tycoon H.L. Hunt…The groups fund law enforcement and public media campaigns and advocate for stronger legal penalties…when police agencies and district attorneys broadly target demand, they end up wasting resources on arrests and prosecutions that further criminalize adult sex workers and their clients…the Demand Abolition approach…[threatens] marginalized workers in the sex industry.  That was a concern of government officials in San Francisco, which last year ended a brief partnership with Demand Abolition after facing a backlash from…sex workers…

End Demand (#576)

My friend Savannah Sly is quoted extensively in this article about the fascist BEST program:

…a new public-private coalition that aims to have sites like backpage.com blocked in…workplaces…free speech advocates and…sex workers…are critical of the BEST Employer Alliance’s methods, warning that it errors on the side of censorship and endangers sex workers…If third-party Web hosting were akin to aiding in criminal activity, then Facebook and Twitter would quickly cease to exist…By pressuring credit card companies to divest, and now by pressuring employers to block the site en masse, the anti-Backpage set hopes to slowly choke the site out of its users…Savannah Sly, the director of…SWOP…said…”This painting of all clients as pedophiles reminds me of how we use to paint all homosexual men as pedophiles…If you shut down Backpage adult listings…You’re denying thousands and thousands of workers who need money.  And if you shut down all of Backpage, you’re punishing hundreds of thousands of people who want access to roommate listings, sale items, general classifieds…all for the crimes of a very, very small few”…

In fact, I’m relatively sure she was riding in my car while giving this interview.

Read Full Post »

Sex…is the only area where amateurs are respected more than professionals.  –  Anna Leventhal

The Red Umbrella 

Client gets angry when he recognizes that his whore is a whore:

A businessman…shot a sex worker when she ended their relationship…Jonathan Kovacik, 58, gave Rosalynde Pitcher £6,000 in cash towards [breast enlargement] cosmetic surgery…He also offered her £50,000 to “give up drugs, alcohol and the work” and marry him…However, armed with a Walther CP88 competition air pistol, Kovacik is alleged to have flown into a fit of rage when he suspected the 21-year-old was “stringing him along” for his money…Miss Pitcher was working…[as a cam girl] for the website adultwork.com…Kovacik, who has a property portfolio and owns a car garage, frequently “lavished” Miss Pitcher with a car and other expensive gifts…

A Procrustean Bed

The law is definitely unconstitutionally vague, but that would be a politically unpopular finding right now:

The constitutionality of a Massachusetts law that targets sex trafficking was upheld…by the state’s highest court, which rejected claims by two men that the statute was vague and its scope too broad…the two men…are…the first people convicted under the statute…lawyers for Tyshaun McGhee and Sidney McGee claimed the statute’s language, particularly the phrase “commercial sexual activity,” was unconstitutionally vague.  They said the law also lacked the elements of use of force and coercion that a federal sex trafficking statute requires to establish the crime…

The Proper Study

We’re seeing this sort of thing more and more:

When I first began looking into the research on decriminalizing prostitution, I didn’t know where the evidence would take me. I was familiar with the arguments on both sides of the debate, but I had little idea what the empirical literature said.  But after reviewing dozens of studies, papers, and articles and talking to researchers, the issue is much clearer to me:  Sex work should be fully decriminalized and regulated, similar to other businesses…prohibition doesn’t appear to have any good empirical evidence behind it…

One Size Fits All

Is there any behavior in Ireland that isn’t “trafficking”?

…the Office of the Registrar General has been given more extensive powers to prevent the institution of marriage being abused for immigration purposes…An unexpectedly high occurrence rate of marriages between women from Eastern Europe and Portugal, and men from the Indian subcontinent has been noted…The Registrar will now have…the right to refuse a marriage registration form if they feel that a marriage is not legitimate…The Minister…[is] concerned that sham marriages [are] leading to a proliferation of women being trafficked into Ireland for this purpose…

Above the Law Bryan Lee

An Ohio State Trooper has been sentenced to five years in prison after using his authority to force women into sexual acts, using Facebook to send his victims vague threats, and using Craigslist to advertise for “traffic stop sex.”  The investigation into Trooper Bryan Lee, 31, began in October of 2013 and he was allowed to resign prior to being terminated and prosecuted…

Dysphemisms Galore (Traffic Updates)

Tara Burns turns in a top-notch piece of long-form investigative journalism on the case of her friend, Amber Batts, who was this week sentenced for “sex trafficking” in Alaska.  I’m not even going to attempt to excerpt it; the piece needs to be read in its entirety so you can get the full picture of the sort of people the State destroys in order to support its lurid and melodramatic “sex trafficking” narrative, and the way that neither facts nor evidence has the slightest power to halt or even slow the machinery of injustice once cops and prosecutors have thrown someone into it.

Shift in the Wind (#433)

There’s nothing unusual in this article from The Economist explaining why decriminalization is a good idea; however, I’m very pleased to see that the paper hasn’t made its pro-decrim stance a one-time thing.  I hope it continues to debunk prohibitionist nonsense on a regular basis, even though the writer in this case subscribes to the dumb canard that Rhode Island “accidentally” decriminalized in 2003 (when in fact it purposefully did so in 1980).

Think of the Children! (#445)

Since no outside charity will take money contaminated by “sex rays”, Rentboy decided to create its own charity:

Rentboy.com has created a “Cash4Class” scholarship fund designed to help escorts who advertise on their site to afford school.  To win the $1500 fund, the boys can either submit a 500-1000 word essay or a 1-5 minute video that answers the following question: “Why is going to school part of achieving your dream?”… adult film star Colby Keller will be the official judge of the entries…deadline [is] September 15th, and [the contest is] open to current Rentboy.com advertisers who have proof of enrollment in…classes…

Seizing Power

For those who forgot why Backage started taking payment in the first place:

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal…was leading the charge to force all social networks to police adult content and establish age and identity verification tools…As part of that agreement, Craigslist began charging for ads in its erotic services section at the end of 2008.  “Requiring phone numbers, credit cards and identifying details will provide a roadmap to prostitutes and sex traffickers — so we can track them down and lock them up,” Blumenthal said in a statement…he…[called] the erotic services section an “online brothel” and “hooker haven,” and asserting there was a link between adult entertainment and “human trafficking, drug activity and child exploitation”…

An Example To the West (#554)

Journalists like to pretend the bad consequences of US “anti-trafficking” policy are unintentional; they most certainly are not.  American “anti-trafficking” policy has not “failed” in Southeast Asia; it is doing exactly what it is intended to do:

…the U.S.-led anti-trafficking agenda…has failed or even hurt migrants and refugees.  It has fed a chaotic global obsession with policing and prosecutions, but resulted in few concrete policies to address the underlying causes of trafficking or to assist its victims.  This has been acutely felt in Thailand, a politically volatile country seesawing between military coups and failed democratic governments.  In recent months the ruling junta has led an aggressive anti-trafficking campaign to satisfy its Western critics.  But instead of reducing trafficking and forced labor, these efforts appear to have marginalized human rights and trampled on the most vulnerable…

Not Good Enough (#555) flibanserin

The dangerous psychotropic drug flibanserin, which poorly treats a normal variation in female sex drive which is being defined as a “disorder” by an industry hungry to cash in by selling people drugs they don’t need, has now been approved:

…critics said the campaign behind Addyi had made a mockery of the system that regulates pharmaceuticals and had co-opted the women’s movement to pressure the F.D.A. into approving a drug that was at best minimally effective and could cause side effects like low blood pressure, fainting, nausea, dizziness and sleepiness…Addyi’s label has a boxed warning — the strongest kind — saying the drug should not be used by those who drink alcohol, since that can increase the risk of severely low blood pressure and fainting…Leonore Tiefer, a sex therapist…and critic of the drug, predicted the restrictions on use would keep Addyi from becoming popular.  “It’s going to be more trouble than it’s worth,” she said…Addyi is thought to work by changing the balance of certain brain neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin…women who took the drug had an average of 4.4 “satisfying sexual experiences” a month, compared with 3.7 for women getting a placebo and 2.7 before the study began.  The drug did not increase desire more than a placebo when measured by a daily diary…

Acting and Activism (#559) 

I’m really pleased to see just how hard Hollywood’s prohibitionism is backfiring on it lately:

Dunham & Co. structured their opposition to the draft policy on the flawed assumption that decriminalization a) encourages non-consensual sex work…and b) promotes men’s dominance over women, in a grand philosophical sense.  This is akin to saying that because women and children are often exploited in the garment industry, we should outlaw garment manufacturing and make sure conditions are really unsafe for anyone who wants to make clothes…

Here’s another example:

Lena Dunham, a woman who by most accounts has never had to worry a day in her life about paying rent and putting food on the table, put her name on a petition aimed at stopping women around the world from doing what she does on television in front of millions of people on a regular basis: acting like she’s enjoying sex for money…You can imagine how confusing Dunham’s position is to those of us who actually do sex work for a living.  She doesn’t see that she’s contributing to our distress by openly calling for the end of our freedom to do sexual work…

Amnesty At Last (#564)

Though the Washington Post has published many pieces attacking “sex trafficking” hysteria, its editorial board is apparently still dominated by prohibitionist fossils who prefer lies and pearl-clutching to facts and self-ownership:

…Supporters of the resolution assume that sex work can be a profession like any other and that sex transactions can be consensual.  This is…not true for the vast majority, who resort to selling their bodies because they feel they have no other option.  Decriminalizing prostitution…would allow pimps to operate with impunity, using the money and status that comes with their newfound legitimacy to scale up trafficking operations that hurt the most vulnerable…The evidence seems to bear that out in Germany and the Netherlands, where [sex work is not decriminalized]…

“Decriminalizing the sale of liquor…would allow bootleggers to operate with impunity, using the money and status that comes with their newfound legitimacy to scale up trafficking operations that hurt the most vulnerable…The evidence seems to bear that out in the United States, where liquor was legalized in 1932″…

Read Full Post »

Kristof is the sort of acute observer who, upon witnessing plantation slavery, decides that farming must be abolished.  –  Jacob Sullum

Amnesty At Last

The biggest story of the year so far is that Amnesty International has at long last come out in support of absolute decriminalization of sex work, as sex workers ourselves have wanted for decades.  Amnesty has a tremendous amount of clout; this will strongly affect small countries, and even in big countries like the US some politicians may now begin to doubt the wisdom of backing laws that allow the cops to persecute adults for consensual sex.  It will also undermine the prohibitionists’ arguments; they can no longer pretend that their views are common-sense and mainstream.  To me the most important lines in the document are these:

…the need for states to not only review and repeal laws that make sex workers vulnerable to human rights violations, but also refrain from enacting such laws…the harm reduction principle…Recognizing and respecting the agency of sex workers to articulate their own experiences and define the most appropriate solutions to ensure their own welfare and safety…the evidence from Amnesty International’s and external research on the lived experiences of sex workers, and on the human rights impact of various criminal law and regulatory approaches to sex work…

A Procrustean Bed

Super-ally Elizabeth N Brown again:

A four-part series from Capital News Service (CNS) looks at human trafficking in Maryland…[and] contends that “Maryland has some of the lightest penalties in the nation for human trafficking of adults”…yet a bill to enhance criminal penalties…recently failed to pass…it was a rare moment of legislative sanity on this issue…advocates for the increased penalties claim that sex trafficking of adults is a mere misdemeanor in Maryland…[but they] aren’t really talking about human trafficking.  They’re talking about prostitution.  Which they want felony punishments for…”misdemeanor human trafficking” is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.  And what does this category entail?…driving a sex worker to a job…letting a sex worker work from your…building…taking money from a sex worker for any reason…

Profound Mental Disabilities

A man in Orlando is suing a local dominatrix, accusing her of taking more than $500,000 and his house…Judith Gumbrecht…[offers]…“financial slavery”…[and] former client Alex Abrams…[alleges]  Gumbrecht took more than $500,000 after he added her name to his financial accounts, and took ownership of his 1,450-square-foot townhome…the lawsuit accuses Gumbrecht of exploitation of an elderly person, theft, and unjust enrichment…Abrams’ attorney, Brian Mark, claims Abrams suffers from clinical depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, and said this affected his decision when adding Gumbrecht to his bank accounts and signing a deed…to transfer his home to her.  Abrams met Gumbrecht after he divorced his wife of 32 years about four years ago…“She went with him to the doctor when he was diagnosed. She was fully aware,” [said] Mark…”When you’re in that professional relationship with them, you cannot exploit them”…

If Gumbrecht really did know that Abrams was demented, it was both unethical and unwise for her to take this kind of advantage.  However, I must point out that A) if she had married him this deal would be a great deal harder to break; and B) it’s amazing how often a submissive’s supposed mental incapacity is used as the excuse for a legal attack on a dominant.  Also, was Abrams suddenly & miraculously cured of his Alzheimer’s, so that his actions now are assumed to be lucid, while his previous actions are not?

Real Men Support Sex Worker Rights (#4)extra-stupid kristof

I really, really love it when Jacob Sullum tears into Nick Kristof:

Kristof says some…teenagers are exploited by pimps who take out…ads…on Backpage.com…He mentions two examples…[but] wisely does not include the source who claimed to have been advertised on Backpage before it existed…Kristof…is condemning Backpage because some of its customers are criminals.  Would he apply similar logic to the carmakers that produce getaway vehicles, the sporting goods stores that sell baseball bats occasionally used in vicious beatings, and the cellphone companies that help terrorists communicate with each other?  Probably not…it’s clear (as usual) that Kristof’s concern is not underage prostitution or coerced prostitution but prostitution in general…by [his] reasoning, alcohol should be prohibited because of the parallel underground market serving minors, all sexually explicit material should be banned because some of it involves children, and housework for pay should be forbidden because rich Saudis have been known to beat domestic workers and hold them against their will…

I’m Sure You Feel Safer Now

An 87-year-old man is fighting allegations he was soliciting a prostitute when he approached an undercover officer during a police sting [in Grand Rapids Michigan]…police and prosecutors say this is likely the oldest person ever charged with this crime.  Howard Arthur Klein…claimed he thought the woman he spoke to was someone he knew from church.  Nevertheless, Klein faces a maximum of 93 days in…jail if convicted…[though he] has no previous criminal record…he has pleaded not guilty…

The Pro-Rape Coalition (#316)

Lone man on a crusade manages to censor adult content on the internet by circumventing a court order.  Sound familiar?

…[An] Indian lawyer’s formal request for a nationwide ban on access to 857 specific pornographic websites was rejected by the country’s Supreme Court but appears to have been enacted by the administration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi…Kamlesh Vaswani, a lawyer who failed to persuade the Supreme Court to block online pornography, gave thanks…to [the] Prime Minister…for [ignoring]…the Supreme Court…Vaswani [said]…“pornography…is worse than Hitler, worse than AIDS, cancer or any other epidemic…It is more catastrophic than nuclear holocaust, and it must be stopped”…

Traffic Circle

It’s becoming possible for mainstream journalists to question central tenets of the “sex trafficking” religion:

…Researchers agree that labor trafficking is the leading form of human trafficking, but sex trafficking is the focus of more federal prosecutions…In 2012, the Department of Justice successfully prosecuted 138 traffickers, with 76 percent of the cases predominantly sex trafficking and 24 percent predominantly labor trafficking…

Checklist (#345)

Now useful idiots don’t even need to dial a phone to snitch!

Anyone with a smartphone can do their part in the fight against human trafficking thanks to…The GPS-based app…called Redlight Traffic.  It’s a free download designed to help police [persecute sex workers]…Greater Seattle is [pretended] to be one of the worst areas in America when it comes to human trafficking.  Police [fantasize] hundreds of children are worked every day in King County…Amin and Jessica Haq…say…their app…has helped rescue 25 children from sex traffickers…

Proof of that last statement? Oh wait, there is none, because you’re lying.

Number Puzzle (#349)brothel ad

Ah, so “flat rate” isn’t actually flat rate; no wonder the girls like it!

In [Germany]…”flat-rate”…brothels…are a familiar sight, there are at least six in Berlin alone…On an average day, six or seven girls will be working, with the numbers rising to nine or ten at weekends.  Some of them may have sex up to 20 times per shift…The women are able to refuse a customer if he is particularly unpleasant or aggressive but it’s rare.  Once in the bedroom, “extras” are negotiated by the women, who keep 100% of any further money that changes hands.  Not much is off limits, with the exception of unprotected sex…the flat-rate model works from a financial perspective because men over-estimate how many times they can have sex…From the women’s perspective, he says the guaranteed daily pay is the main lure.  Of the entrance fee, 49 euros goes to the club and 50 euros to the women…

An Example to the West (#412) 

Imagine the NOW going to bat for sex workers like this:

The National Network of Sex Workers (NNSW) and women’s rights organisations in India have expressed outrage over…Swati Maliwal calling sex work…akin to “rape” and calling for its “eradication”.  “We call on her to immediately withdraw her statement and tender an unconditional apology to the all women in sex work,”…[said] Meena Saraswathi Seshu…At a national consultation on Human Trafficking…Maliwal equated prostitution with rape and said, “It is a ‘blot’ on society which needs to be eradicated with [more violence from] the state”…

License to Rape (#502)

Charnesia Corley was…detained by [Houston] police for allegedly running a stop sign…the deputy…asked her to step out of the vehicle after “smelling what he believed to be marijuana.”  However, during a search of Corley’s vehicle, without her consent, no illegal plants were found…a…female deputy…then stripped [Corley] down in public and forcefully penetrated [her]…“I bend over and she proceeds to try to force her hand inside of me.  I tell her, ‘Ma’am, No. You cannot do this’,” Corley explained.  Corley maintains that at no time did she ever consent to be raped by deputies…

Dutch Threat (#504)

“Politicians lie” = “the sky is blue”.

Warner ten Kate, the public prosecutor [for] human trafficking in Holland…claimed there was…research that showed that 70% of the prostitutes were forced in Holland…during [a radio] interview…Kate was specifically asked about the 70% and…claimed [it came] from…research done by…Erasmus University…[but the] University never did any such research…the Sneep case [cited by Kate] also doesn’t say 70% is forced, but claims it’s 50 to 85%…Warner [says he wants]…to “stop talking about numbers”…[but] this whole debate started because he…and the police keep mentioning numbers which are pure bullshit

Acting and Activism (#559)

A group of 20 academics in the fields of law, medicine, anthropology, sociology and other fields, some of whose names have appeared on this blog before, wrote a letter to Amnesty International in support of decriminalization:

AI’s general policy is to be wary of criminal law regulating gender and sexuality…We focus on two specific issues: 1) why existing credible research supports the rejection of the so-called Nordic model…and 2) why rigorous studies on the relationship between human trafficking and the sex sector supports total decriminalization.  In particular we note empirically and analytically sound research that debunks the Nordic model and refutes claims that legalization or decriminalization of sex work will “increase” the risk of trafficking into the sex sector…

And in The Nation, Melissa Gira Grants writes:

Using the criminal law to control sex work means police are pitted against sex workers, and sex workers can pay the price with their lives…as has also been documented by Amnesty—and others, like Human Rights Watch, UNAIDS, and the World Health Organization, all of whom support the decriminalization of sex work, a stance also backed by recent research in the medical journal The Lancet.  Sex workers’ own rights groups, such as the 237 organizations in 71 countries under the Global Network of Sex Work Projects, report the same from their own experience: Criminal laws only add to the challenges…that many sex workers already face…Amnesty’s sex work proposal has drawn the ire of campaigners who support the [Swedish model]…precisely because it illustrates how these laws, marketed as compassionate towards sex workers, have exposed them to danger.  They argue for more criminalization at a time when on most other issues, the public is turning away from using the police and prisons as a solution…

Read Full Post »

Aya de Leon teaches creative writing in the African American Studies Department at UC Berkeley and blogs here on WordPress; her sex worker Robin Hood novel, Uptown Thief, will be published in the spring.  This essay grew from a conversation she and I had on Twitter; I was so impressed with her ideas, I asked her to expand them into an essay.

Hollywood has a lot in common with the sex industries; for one thing, it thrives on selling sexualized access to young women.  Some would argue that Hollywood only sells images and fantasies of sex, while the sex industries offer more; however, any in-depth exploration of the film and TV industries reveals widespread transactional sex and sexually predatory behavior towards women (we need only look at Lena Dunham’s autobiography or recent revelations about Bill Cosby to see examples).  In addition, women of color are marginalized in both industries, and most female participants are seen as less valuable as they age.  While the sex industries have niche markets for women over 35, and particular actresses manage to remain hot commodities in Hollywood beyond their youth, both industries cater to male appetites for young and naïve ingenue-type women.

Children for SaleRashida Jones (39) and Jada Pinkett Smith (43) are two African American actresses who have recently found themselves standing at the crossroads of Hollywood and the sex industries.  Jones produced the documentary Hot Girls Wanted, and Pinkett produced the CNN special report, Children for Sale: The Fight to End Human Trafficking.  There are vast differences between the two, but what they have in common is the way they reflect both women’s attempts to reinvent themselves from aging black actresses into producers.  Former Hollywood ingenues themselves, both women have seized an opportunity to reassert their relevance via spotlighting the sexuality of younger women, in the time-honored role of moralistic crusader.  Both women concentrate on the sexual exploitation of young women, and in both cases they miss the mark (Pinkett by an especially wide margin).  Rashida Jones faced heavy backlash for her slut-shaming comments when she began to publicly voice her concerns about “pornification” and sexualized behavior of younger women in mainstream media.  But at least Hot Girls Wanted was a collaboration with a pair of women filmmakers who put together a compelling and coherent (albeit problematic and whorephobic) narrative.  In addition, it maintained the focus on the young women, as opposed to including Jones in the film; in contrast, Children for Sale features Pinkett as commentator, and its central story is about her emotional journey around the issue.

The only compelling quote in Sale was Pinkett’s “People who are having sex with children are not johns and tricks.  They are child rapists and pedophiles, so we should call them what they are.”  This crucially differentiates between sex work and sex trafficking, but unfortunately, she doesn’t demand that level of precision around other language in her film.  To begin with, her subtitle “The Fight to End Human Trafficking” is misleading because the vast majority of human trafficking is non-sexual labor; ending sexual trafficking would only end a small portion of human trafficking.  But then, the entire film was misleading and imprecise.  Pinkett claims that girls as young as 11 are being trafficked in the United States, but she presents no evidence to support this claim, nor shows any girls that age, nor reveals any situations where girls were being held in slavery-like conditions.  We see interviews with young (adult) women who go from stripping to full service sex work, and Pinkett slurs stripping as a “gateway drug”, but that doesn’t constitute a story of child sex trafficking.  The central interview subject in the film tells of starting a relation with a seductive older man when she was 14; he later manipulated her to have sex with other men in the back of a barbershop for money, but she continued to live at home and go to school.  While she was clearly exploited and the sexual activity was statutory rape by any definition, this isn’t a story of slavery.

Jada PinkettAnother problem:  from the beginning, the police are presented as heroes and saviors.  There’s a raid, and a young “victim” is found, yet she “refuses help” to return to the “only life she’s ever known.”  A psychologist then attributes this refusal of help to a lack of self-esteem.  But if she’s a victim, why is she being handcuffed and marched into the back of a police cruiser?  And what rescue services do police have to offer young people?  Juvenile hall?  Foster care?  Even the trafficking survivor-led program they profiled doesn’t have long-term housing options.  By aligning herself first and foremost with the police, Pinkett is inevitably unable to effectively investigate anything; as a visiting celebrity, she doesn’t have any real connection with anyone in the situation.  The entire tone of the film is set by various images of blurred face individuals with voice-overs by police and anti-trafficking advocates, and police cruisers driving down streets.

In fact, the film totally fails to provide visual documentation of the “facts” of Pinkett’s narrative.  One segment included a tour of an area where the anti-trafficking advocate says there is supposed to be a great deal of street solicitation, but for some reason it’s quiet that night, and they don’t send cameras on any other night to capture it; we must take their word for it.  There may indeed be 11-year-olds being trafficked in the very places Pinkett was looking, but she never found them.  In other cases, the production manufactures what it fails to capture.  They interview a grandmother who calls a hotline for help with her 14-year-old granddaughter, and the police work tirelessly to find her; she is discovered with another “victim”, a fifteen-year-old, who is allegedly on the way to her first trafficked sexual encounter.  Thus, they “rescue” both girls from “the life.”  Yet all of these assertions remain unsubstantiated by evidence of any kind; only in the hysteria surrounding child sex trafficking could such shoddy reporting get such a large platform.  People have an appetite for sexual drama and tragedy, especially with black women; it need not be well-documented or even have a coherent narrative, only salacious innuendos.

Hot Girls WantedUnlike the CNN documentary, Hot Girls Wanted had a coherent story, following one young woman and her cohort through their introduction and overall disillusionment with amateur porn and the sex industries; the New York Times‘ Mike Hale described it as characterized by “an uncertain tone that vacillates between weary outrage and motherly concern.”  The film exposes some real problems with working conditions with “amateur porn”, which though it is actually very organized and professionalized, sells the scenario of the initiation of a given young woman into porn.  Thus, after the first film, their prospects quickly decline.  However, these labor practices where the “it girl” fades away and the spotlight moves on are not exclusive to amateur porn or even sex work; they are certainly at work in Hollywood, as well.

Furthermore, Hot Girls Wanted ignores the fact that today’s young women face relatively bleak prospects for employment and career development, even if they do go to college, and the internship model for entry level professional positions effectively excludes poor and working class girls.  In this time of limited prospects, sex industry entrepreneurs can exploit young women’s aspirations for something other than dreary work for low pay, no security and no benefits.  Yet Jones’ solution to the situation is to deny young women the choice.  Harvard-educated Jones is the daughter of wealthy celebrities; she has always had access to fame and money without taking any risks of her own, yet she criticizes girls for taking the risks associated with sex work in the hope of gaining fame.  She suggests that a central problem with amateur porn is that the women involved are too young to make their own decisions, but I would argue that the only way one learns to make decisions is by having the power to make them.  Young women entering the sex industries generally face two kinds of older adults:  On the one hand, they face shaming adults with little information about the industries who judge their desires and dismiss what they hope to gain; on the other hand, they face exploiters who withhold information, exaggerate and romanticize the payoffs and underplay the risks.  In either case, the young women generally cannot get the support they need to make informed decisions, which would include access to older adults with accurate information and probabilities about women’s trajectories in the industry, as well as non-judgmental listening and feedback.

Rashida JonesI see both Children for Sale and Hot Girls Wanted as part of a classic cycle for women in general and black women in particular.  Many young black women enjoy the attention that sexual currency brings, yet when they get older, many pick up the rallying cry that “we’ve got to save these young girls from themselves.”  I don’t think it’s coincidence that both of these older African American actresses are making films and speaking out on these topics; after all, the media aren’t interested in what black women have to say about global warming or the IMF, and they don’t put a microphone in black female hands to talk about Middle East foreign policy or immigration reform.  Jones and Pinkett are actually doing the very thing they claim to despise, trading on the public’s fascination with young women’s sexuality.  It’s a quandary all women must face:  when a society is far more interested in a woman’s sexuality than in anything else about her, how can she navigate through her life?  Yet neither documentary includes veteran sex workers, the women who did figure out how to navigate through the sex industries, especially those who entered the industries on someone else’s terms and then figured out terms of their own.  In Children for Sale, they are non-existent; in Hot Girls Wanted, their stories are glossed over.  The girls who stay in the industry are reduced to a footnote, while the film’s main subject quits and moves in with her boyfriend (in an implicit “happily ever after” ending).  Due to the lack of input from veteran sex workers both films lacked nuance, breadth, depth and insider information, and reached deeply flawed conclusions.

As an over-35 black woman, myself, I understand the need to stay relevant and maintain career momentum; like Jones and Pinkett, I’m a non-sex worker who chooses to write about sex work.  However, any vision of justice for people in the sex industries must be informed by a spectrum of voices that centers those currently working in those industries.  Criminalization and social stigma shrouds much of sex work in secrecy and silence, so a casual observer cannot get a clear picture of it (much less a celebrity with a camera crew).  These are areas of society that desperately need clear illumination, not the distorted and exploitative stories in today’s media; unfortunately, Jones and Pinkett chose to produce work suffused with moralistic narratives, which can only fail to change conditions for the young women they had hoped to help.

Read Full Post »

The inevitable and terrifying end result of giving legal rights to fetuses [is] a woman…legally reduced to being nothing more than a vessel incubating a future ward of the state.  –  Maya Dusenbery

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

An Indianapolis police chaplain was arrested on multiple prostitution charges after he told a prostitute [who] he was…police [arrested a sex worker]…and…she told [them] that the day before “Bob from Noblesville showed me his shiny IMPD officer badge and told me he was a chaplain”…police determined “Bob from Noblesville” was actually…Chaplain Bishop John Robert Fiers…

The Mote and the Beam

The stupid, it burns!

The [Georgia] trial lawyer who wants to [profit from] sex trafficking through civil litigation said his phone hasn’t stopped ringing since he announced his plan late last year…David Boone, president and founder of Civil Lawyers Against World Sex Slavery, known as CLAWS…[said] “We’re really tried to take a business approach to this”…Boone [pretends he can sue] those who pay for sex as well as those who allow the business to exist…He said his research shows the “sex slave” industry is a $9.5 billion business in the United States, exploiting primarily girls starting at the age of 13 who are lured in or kidnapped.  Most die within seven years from drug overdoses, AIDS or murder.  Atlanta has become a hub for the trade largely as a side-effect of having one of the world’s busiest airports…

Schadenfreude 

Yet another rescue industry “hero” is revealed as an opportunistic fraud:

…Vednita Carter…started Breaking Free…nearly 20 years ago, vowing to help women and girls free themselves from prostitution…[by convincing them that] they were victims of abuse and sexual exploitation.  In recent years [“sex trafficking” hysteria] won [the organization] more funding and expanded its [hunger for money]…Carter…was named a CNN News Hero and the Bush Foundation gave Breaking Free an award…but…a group of former employees…wrote a letter in April to government agencies that have funded or worked with Breaking Free, detailing concerns about how victims were being treated and served, its adherence to laws and regulations, alleged “misuse of funds, property, and services and employment of family members,” and “staff misconduct and lack of training”…

Harm Magnification (The Beat Goes On)

Prostitutes have…accused police of trying to “ghettoise” them…after [it was] revealed that Gwent Police were planning a “managed” sex zone…One working girl feared that forcing them into designated zones could lead to more being raped and murdered.  “They tend to put these areas in out-of-the-way places in the back of commercial and industrial sites where there are rough roads and the lighting is poor, and access in and out is abysmal,” Michelle said…anti-prohibition DARE editorial

Change a Few Words

Drug Abuse Resistance Education, better known as DARE, has spent decades telling schoolchildren…to “Just Say No” to marijuana.  For a few hours [on July 27th], however, they appeared to just say yes to legalization.  [Journalist] Christopher Ingraham…found a strange re-post on the DARE website…which originally ran in the Columbus Dispatch…[and contained] a full-throated endorsement of marijuana legalization by Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) speaker Carlis McDerment…Ingraham contacted DARE for clarification and [they immediately removed the article]…

Above the Law 

Ever notice that cops “state” or “explain” their versions of events, but the rest of us merely “claim”?

A Garda forced a prostitute to perform a sexual act on him in order to have her laptop computer returned to her after it had been seized in a raid…Almost half (48.7%) [of sex workers surveyed] said they had garda clients and 2.7% said they had [been forced to] provide…”free or discounted” sexual services to officers…The purpose of the survey, by…Uglymugs.ie, was to establish how sex workers viewed policing in Ireland given plans to introduce new laws which will effectively criminalise the entire sex trade…

Sex Work is Work

Guess what, Mr. Huckabee? If “prostitutes, pimps [and] drug dealers” weren’t criminalized, we’d easily be able to contribute to your system:

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said…that if elected President he would increase the money going into Social Security, Medicare and other entitlement funds by…”[transforming] the process by which we fund [them]…the money paid at consumption is paid by everybody — including illegals, prostitutes, pimps, drug dealers, all the people who are freeloading off the system”…The line was met with thunderous applause…

Scrambled Eggs (#311)

I’m sure everyone who dies while waiting for a kidney is happy to go to his grave to prevent people from making their own decisions about what to do with their bodies:

Last year in the United States, more than 4,000 people died while…waiting…for a new kidney.  An additional 3,600…left the list when they became too sick for a transplant…In every country that does transplants — except one — patients have two legal ways to get a new kidney.  One is to have a friend or relative…donate a kidney.  The other is to get on the waiting list for a deceased donor.  In America, the average time on that list varies from 3 years to 10…Patients can’t even get on the list until they are about to start dialysis, and the average life span of someone who starts dialysis is only 5 to 10 years…And the longer a patient spends on dialysis before getting a transplant, the greater the chances of complications and death with a new kidney…[but] in Iran…people wait to donate a kidney.  That’s because donors are paid…

Buttons, Bags & Banknotes

Hey Cosmo, are you ready to speak out for decrim yet?

Several major retailers have agreed to censor…Cosmopolitan behind blinders, after facing pressure from a campaign led by the granddaughter of William Randolph Hearst, the man who founded the company that owns the publication.  Victoria Hearst…began a campaign…called Cosmo Harms Minors, which…eventually [wants] shops to be banned from selling the magazine to anyone under the age of 18…

Sex RaysOur Lady of the Pillar

Spain’s Guardia Civil police force will no longer accept donations from a brothel in Navarra, even if the money is put towards a good cause…The unusual funding arrangement came to light…when the citizen group Observatory Against Corruption filed a complaint …The money was used to throw a celebration dedicated to Our Lady of the Pillar, the patron saint of the Guardia Civil…

Choke Point 

Could be worth looking into for non-porn sex workers as well:

Major U.S. banks have closed or denied banking accounts to individuals working in the adult industry…the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee (APAC) is now offering…financial services offered by First Entertainment Credit Union…which…was first established as the credit union for Warner Bros. Studios in 1967 but now extends membership to many entertainment industry organizations, including the Free Speech Coalition…Services offered to APAC members will include checking and savings accounts, financial planning, home and auto loans, as well as business account services…For more information on becoming a member…visit the APAC website or email apac.information@gmail.com.

Property of the State 

Another abomination from Alabama:

A woman imprisoned in an Alabama jail wants an abortion…but her request…was denied…and…the state is attempting to strip her of her parental rights over a “child” that is not actually a born child yet and arguing that if she doesn’t have parental rights, she has no right to terminate the pregnancy…the state is arguing that since this woman has “endangered” her fetus by using drugs, it should now effectively become a ward of the state, and therefore the state can do anything it wants—including forcing her to carry it to term against her will…

Acting and Activism (#559)

My friend Savannah Sly on the Hollywood response to Amnesty:

These famous voices are…out of touch with the reality of sex work…[they] are connected to anti-trafficking organizations, which…fail to illustrate to these celebrities…that criminalization actually makes [things]…worse.  For some reason, celebrities are held up as just being wiser than the rest of us because they’re famous…Who are [Americans] going to trust, this seemingly familiar person they’ve seen on TV a lot or a bunch of social pariahs?…

And while the Guardian has long provided a platform to vehement prohibitionists, it did allow this one from Molly Smith to slip through:

…by prioritising the supposed “eradication” of the sex industry, [the Swedish model empowers] police…to harass, evict and deport migrant sex workers…Amnesty found that sex workers in Norway were routinely evicted by the police…“a number of migrant sex workers were violently attacked and raped…They reported the incident to the police…they returned to their apartment to find the police have removed all their money and electronic equipment.  Four days [later] they were forcibly evicted.”  It’s hard to believe that those Hollywood signatories read this and thought:  “Brilliant, the police evicting migrant women when they report rape sounds like the feminist solution to prostitution; we should support the legal model where this occurs.”  But that is what appears to have happened – unless they signed up to attack Amnesty over a document they had not read…

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »