Posts Tagged ‘acting’

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″…

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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.

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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…


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…

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There’s never been a rational argument against the legalization of prostitution, and as far as I know there never will be.  –  J.R. Ireland

Where Are the Victims?

Irish judges just love stealing sex workers’ money and giving it to our worst enemies:

Two Hungarian women working as prostitutes in Ireland described their brothel keeper as a “second mother” and a friend…Diana Karacsony (aged 32) was ordered to pay €10,000…to Ruhama…Detective Garda David Kenny told…[the court] that there was no evidence that any of the 25 Hungarian…prostitutes were trafficked, coerced or “anything other than willing”…

If It Were Legal

The girls who did this better hope no other sex workers ever learn their names:

…Lydia…was…outed by a tabloid as a part-time sex worker, a situation which cost her a public-sector career and lost her friends…[she] says the [Lord] Sewel [scandal] “feels like a betrayal”.  Sex workers already have a lot to contend with…and client trust is something they need to rely on…“It’s like a doctor-patient relationship.  That’s why people pay good money to see us.  Outing a client goes against…[our] ethical code”…Sinead [says] “Client-sex-worker confidentiality is something almost sacred”…

Divided We Fall

Another good essay urging queer folk to support sex worker rights, this one from Hawk Kinkaid:

…While it’s great that gay men and lesbians are building wedding registries…and openly holding hands…many of our most high profile spokespeople risk encouraging a spineless edit of history…We must challenge our collective desire to strip a story that subverts a normative way of seeing the world.  We as LGBT individuals and allies must tap our recent tragedies and triumphs to prevent our own story from disappearing into the exact same narrative most embraced by the bigots who used that norm against us…Conversations about [Stonewall] selectively ignore significant components of the rioters’ identities, often…excluding the fact that many of these individuals were hustlers and street workers…

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic

It’s funny, but the marketing for this movie makes it look more like a lurid drama than like the fantasy it is.  Because surely, everyone knows that there’s no such thing as an “addiction to escorts”, right? RIGHT???Jeromie Palaoro

Above the Law 

As often as we hear of incidents like this, I’ll bet they’re only a fraction of the ones that actually occur:

A Portland [cop named Jeromie Palaoro] is on paid [vacation] and under criminal investigation after a woman accused him of demanding sex acts and a massage…The…victim, a…relationship and sex coach, says she was trying to report details of an alleged assault at the time…Roni Reid-James…was staying at a hotel…while visiting her boyfriend.  She…called police on him [after he]…attacked her at his mother’s home on July 4…Palaoro, one of the officers who responded, called and texted her late that night…then showed up at her hotel room around 3:30 a.m…pulled out his gun and set it on a table…then took off all his clothes and ordered her to massage him…staying in the hotel room for seven hours…he [also]…groped her and asked for sexual favors…

because very often, this is what happens at trial:Oscar Araiza

A…Dallas [cop]…facing 20 years in prison after he…[raped] a woman who had passed out on his couch was offered a plea deal…that spared him any jail time or having to register as a sex offender…if Oscar Araiza does not get arrested for another five years…the conviction will be wiped off his record…Araiza…maintains the sex was consensual, even though the woman ran out of his home at 3:30 a.m. and called police, accusing him of rape.  Araiza, who had scratches on his arms and neck, claimed the woman assaulted him after agreeing to have sex with him…

Law of the Instrument (#20)

Remember the guy who was charged with “sex trafficking” because he dragged a girl off of her bicycle in a rape attempt?

Ireland is using anti-trafficking laws to prosecute crimes unrelated to trafficking…The Trafficking in Persons Report…said there were no convictions for sex or labour trafficking in Ireland last year and urged the Government to do more to identify victims.  It found that…the State…“continued to prosecute a high number of non-trafficking crimes as trafficking cases, including child molestation cases”…

But the US never prosecutes as “trafficking” things that don’t involve coercion, no sirree!

Worse Than I Thought

The Polaris Project says the more laws, and the more broad and carceral those laws are, the better:

…The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) reported that 381 individuals were arrested…on human trafficking charges from Jan. 1, 2007, to Aug. 31, 2014, and 484 were arrested for pushing [?] prostitution…47 of these individuals have been convicted of human trafficking and 124 have been convicted for compelling prostitution…98 individuals were incarcerated in Texas prisons for convictions of either…The FBI has long identified Interstate 10 as a significant corridor when it comes to trafficking…

Obfuscation Via Dysphemisms

Yes, they actually sent a SWAT team after whores:

Six people were arrested and at least a dozen others were detained…when Tulsa police and the FBI conducted a room-to-room raid at a Tulsa motel believed to be the home of a large-scale drug and prostitution operation…[a cop mouthpiece] said…“Given the high-risk nature of the warrant, the Tulsa Police Special Operations Team (SOT) was used to clear each of the rooms”…


This one’s hilarious even by CNN’s low standards:

…Airports are…hubs for human trafficking…But…by being aware of the telltale signs that someone is being trafficked, you may be able to keep them from a life of modern slavery…do not confront suspected traffickers or attempt to rescue suspected victims — instead…alert the airport authorities….victims may be less well dressed than their companions…a barcode tattoo, or a tattoo with “Daddy” or even a man’s name could be a red flag that the person is a victim…A child being trafficked for sexual exploitation may be dressed in a sexualized manner, or seem to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol…

Fetishists simultaneously believe that “pimps” have magical mind-control powers, and that they’re so stupid they create these obvious “telltale signs”.

Sex RaysExxxotica

Readers inclined to claustrophobia should probably refrain from thinking too much about the smallness and narrowness of these people’s minds:

The EXXXOTICA Expo is…”the largest adult event in the USA dedicated to love and sex”…but the venue is the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center — run by the City of Dallas — and that has some unhappy…The Dallas Women’s Foundation says it takes issue with the sponsors of the Expo, which include online escort services.  They say those businesses contribute to the sex trafficking and exploitation of young women and children.  “There is a huge correlation between pornography, sex trade, violence against women, and trafficking,” [Roslyn] Thompson said…Dallas police estimate more than 400 women a night may be part of sex trafficking in the city…”We are deeply troubled by the fact that the EXXXOTICA Expo is being hosted here in Dallas, not to mention in a facility that is named to honor one of the Dallas Women’s Foundation founders”…

Here’s hoping the building is so contaminated by sex rays it has to be torn down or turned into a huge brothel.

A Year Later

It’s rare to see an essay like this in the US, but not in Canada:

…it’s impossible for me to take any argument against legal prostitution seriously.  They are all broadly the same – a ridiculous amalgamation of moralizing bluster, cherry-picked and often inaccurate statistics, and a mendacious willingness to fall back on accusations of sex-trafficking or rape or exploitation when their arguments have been soundly defeated…But…no matter how continuously it is shown that outlawing prostitution does more harm than good, the same arguments wiggle their way back into view and re-assert themselves as if they had never been countered.  So today, in Canada, we have the same gibberingly absurd arguments being uttered yet again in order to support the continued suppression of legal prostitution…in direct contravention of a Canadian Supreme Court decision…They merely…declare that they are in no way in breach of the Supreme Court decision because they’re letting prostitutes work – they’re just arresting all their potential clients.  It’s…almost impressive in its underhanded lack of conscience…

Do As I Say, Not As I Do (#542) 

Actually, he’s right; this does give an inaccurate image of cops.  They are vastly more likely to rape sex workers than to peacefully do business with us:

Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villaseñor announced…that he is firing five officers accused of being involved in a prostitution ring…The…chief…said that he’s saddened that the incident gives an image of the department that is not accurate…

Acting and Activism (#559)

Can denying people the choice to decide what they do with their own bodies…ever be an advancement of their human rights?  That’s what a sensationalist campaign led by radical feminists is claiming.  They are protesting against Amnesty’s leaked proposal that consenting sex work should be decriminalised, and…the…campaign has garnered the support of a number of Hollywood A-listers, including…Anne Hathaway…Perhaps…[her] experience of playing Fantine…in Les Miserables made her feel like she had a glimpse of the reality of life as a sex worker.  As far as representations of sex work go, that film’s all-singing, all-dancing portrayal of early 19th century Paris is perhaps more accurate than the ludicrous distortion its star now finds herself attached to…

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“Grandpa worked really hard so that we can find out the most sensitive part of the penis” generally isn’t the sort of story family foundations want to tell.  –  Miro GudelskyLa Bodega Negra - Edited

Subtle Pimping

Another example of amateurs profiting from sex workers’ images while giving us nothing:

As Soho’s sex trade is destroyed, a twee pastiche is being created in its place. A sex-work themed theme-park…Across Soho, the bordello theme is a default.  You don’t have to stumble far to find décor suggestive of dimly lit backrooms and women of the night; a fantasy, filmic version of the sex trade.  Marketers aren’t afraid to use the trope for all its worth…As the reality of sex work in Soho disappears, its essence has become a marketing tool.  Brothel chic.  A Disneyland version of what was for many, a life, work – a world that wasn’t particularly exotic or glamorous but simply the thing they did for a certain number of hours a week to pay the bills…


Only in the US could the idea that men like to look at pretty girls while they relax be represented as strange or even bad:

In a city that’s being gentrified by the engineers and startup employees, the Gold Club is perhaps the most outré illustration of San Francisco’s recent excesses, a place where curious crowds come for the cheap fare and stay for the alcohol and extracurriculars.  It is also an example of how tone deaf many in the male-dominated tech industry can be.  In recent years, critics have called out technology companies for their workforces’ gender imbalances, which some argue foster a boys’ club culture and sexual discrimination…

The Proper Study

Why there are few good studies on sex work:

…Even researchers…with adequate funding and support…may find that they’re not always taken very seriously because of the stigma still attached to sexuality…and…unlike colleagues in other fields, sex researchers are often forced to contend with assumptions that their professional interests reflect their personal habits.  Few assume that ornithologists harbor a secret wish to be birds, or that medical researchers are drawn to their field due to a history of illness, but sex therapists and researchers are frequently presumed to be incredibly adventurous in the bedroom…

Saving Them From Themselves

Some stories are so egregiously stupid I just can’t resist editorializing:

A 14-year-old boy in Nova Scotia has been sentenced to…probation…[re-education] and restricted internet access for possession of child pornography…[actually nude pictures of his same-age girlfriend]…the boy…will also have to provide a DNA sample and [the state will steal] his smartphone…[Judge] Atwood laid out his decision to [pretend that] the crime [was] a violent one.  He said…that even if…sexting [hurts no one, prudes imagine]…that some day, there will be a [mysterious and indefinable] psychological impact…

First They Came for the Hookers…

If prohibitionists really want to “rescue” sex workers, why do they keep trying to stop us from getting other jobs?

…Miami police officer Sabine Raymonvil…does not deny that she used to work in the porn industry [but]…her work in porn films was completed prior to her becoming a police officer…the requirements to work for the Miami Police Department don’t specifically state anything against porn…[but] she may be terminated because of “conduct unbecoming” an officer…

I don’t really want to think too hard about why someone would leave honest sex work to become a pig, but there you are.Sex Slaves MSNBC

Marching Up Their Own Arses (#349)

How many of these must we endure?

Several organizations that advocate on behalf of both sex workers and survivors of trafficking have written a letter to MSNBC, urging them to cancel Sex Slaves in America, saying it…misleads the viewing public about the realities of both sex work and trafficking…The letter, which you can read in full here, is signed by the Sex Workers Project, the New York Anti-Trafficking Network, Freedom Network, Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive, and Florrie Burke, a longtime human rights advocate…they’re particularly concerned with the way it seems to conflate sex work and human trafficking, and that it could compromise the anonymity of the women it films…In 2013, amid protests and another sternly-worded letter from the same organizations, MSNBC cancelled a program called Slave Hunter, in which a guy named Aaron Cohen claimed to rescue victims of trafficking…

Acting and Activism (#419)

Why is CNN so in love with the “sex trafficking” narrative and the empty-headed actresses who promote it?

Jada Pinkett Smith is helping to expose the ugly world of sex trafficking…The actress has teamed up with CNN for an hour-long special report…”Children for Sale: The Fight to End Human Trafficking” delves into the gritty underbelly of child sex slavery in America…Smith…traveled to Atlanta — a trafficking hot spot — to sit down with courageous survivors and come face to face with a trafficker…

Policing for Profit (#520) 

Presumption of innocence?  What’s that?

A D.C. Council member wants to take a page from Spokane, Washington, and several other cities and start impounding the cars of people suspected of soliciting prostitution.  Councilman Jack Evans…is calling this rights-infringing nonsense the “Honey, I lost the car” program.  As with the Spokane law, it wouldn’t matter whether the person is eventually convicted of any crime or not; if you look to some cops like you’re cruising for sex, that’s all the probable cause they need to snatch your vehicle…

The Pro-Rape Coalition (#555) 

If you thought good old-fashioned Moral Majoritarians were just going to concede Puritanism to fourth-wave feminists, think again…the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCSE)—a group founded in 1962 as Morality in Media (the name was changed this year)—is holding an anti-pornography summit…[which] features a who’s who of anti-sex-work, anti-science, and anti-free-speech zealots, along with the father of famous kidnapping victim Elizabeth Smart

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Today’s the 46th anniversary of the Stonewall Riot, the beginning of the gay rights movement; I’ll say more about that in my column for Tuesday (and I think you’ll like the picture).  But today’s video is from Jesse Walker, and the links above it are from Saladin Ahmed, SkyeFranklin HarrisMistress Matisse and Walter Olson, in that order.

From the Archives

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The assumption made by [neofeminists] is that sex workers are blind automatons, blithely wandering from one rape to the next, too blinded by the overwhelming glare of the “male gaze” and too fuzzy and confused in their stupid whore brains to differentiate between consensual sex and a violent, unwanted encounter.  –  Clare Bowden

Acting and Activism 

Tits and Sass does a good guide to the most loudmouthed and ridiculous Hollywood “sex trafficking” fetishists, including Susan Sarandon, Meg Ryan, Ashton Kutcher, Jada Pinkett-Smith and of course Mira Sorvino.rapist-murderer cop Richard J Aguirre

Surplus Women 

The only reason this cop is on trial for the rape and murder of a sex worker 30 years ago is that he just couldn’t give up the habit:

Shortly after Richard J. Aguirre appeared in court…in his Franklin County rape case…he…was arrested by Spokane police for the murder of a prostitute in 1986…The one time Officer of the Year and 27-year veteran of the force in Pasco has been charged…with first-degree murder…bail is set at $500,000…Aguirre voluntarily submitted DNA during the recent rape investigation and the sample…matched…DNA recovered from the [earlier case]…police interviewed Lawrence Cole, who grew up with Aguirre…The two men apparently frequented bars and strip clubs and solicited prostitutes at least once…After a night of drinking, Cole reported that Aguirre said he “hit a woman” and “choked her”…And when Aguirre walked away “he thought she was still moving.”  Detectives investigating the case determined it was likely [Ruby] Doss and her killer got into a struggle inside a manure pit after they had sex…She ran more than 250 feet before she was hit in the back of the head and forehead with an object.  [She]…was then strangled and the suspect returned to the pit to hide her fur coat, wig and earrings…

Follow Your Bliss (#38)

A [former underage sex worker]…says a lawyer who was supposed to take her to a shelter for abused girls instead raped her at a posh Dallas hotel…a lawsuit filed by the girl’s mother…alleges that Michael Harssema was…“employed and/or volunteering for Traffick 911,” an anti-trafficking organization…Traffick 911 officials deny any connection with Harssema…

Train Wreck (#48)

Looks like Nigeria’s getting into the “asset forfeiture” racket, too:

The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Special Task Team on City Cleaning and Management in Abuja has arrested 3,000 commercial sex workers in the last 90 days…[they] have been handed over to the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) for prosecution and rehabilitation.  The task team also arrested 2,534 street hawkers and beggars…and…impounded 4,790 commercial motorcycles, 883 [motor tricycles], 645 unpainted commercial vehicles and 84 illegal commercial buses…

The More the Better (#135)

As is so often the case in articles about brothels, this one dips into grotesquery.  Even so, it makes a few interesting points about how brothels like Sheri’s Ranch are still thriving while other, less competitive ones are dying off.


A teenager in India was allegedly forced to have sex with his own mother in an effort to “cure” him of being gay, Gay Star News reports.  According to LGBT Collective, a gay rights group in Telangana…there are more and more reports of “corrective rapes” being carried out by members of the victims’ own families.  Often families will handpick a cousin to carry out the act…

An Example to the West (#331)

Nicaragua’s Supreme Court has made sex workers official representatives of the government and the judicial system.  A pilot group of 18 sex workers have been provided with technical and legal training to try to manage the most common conflicts that arise in their line of work…The vice president of the Nicaraguan Judicial System, Marvin Aguilar…[said] “We are the only country in the world that treats sex workers as ‘judicial facilitators’…We do not put them in prison for the sexual work.  There are countries close to Nicaragua in which sex workers are sought after like any other criminal so to be sent to prison.”

Naked Truth (#346) Much Loved

A prostitution-themed film from Morocco that had its premiere at…Cannes…in May has set off a furor there…the government last week banned the movie from theaters, the female stars received death threats and a male actor was attacked with a knife…Much Loved, by…Nabil Ayouch, includes scenes of prostitutes in Marrakesh partying, speaking raunchy Arabic and servicing wealthy Saudi clients…The movie became the subject of protests outside Parliament in Rabat and of heated discussions on social networks in Morocco and France.  Conservative Muslims view Much Loved as scandalous.  Moderate Moroccans are offended that the film’s dark portrayal of their country was shown at a prestigious international film festival…

Catastrophic Consequences (#407) 

MSP Jean Urquhart speaks up for sex workers again:

…When the highly successful tolerance zones for street prostitution were abolished in Edinburgh…sex workers reported a 95% increase in violence over 12 months…it is hard to understand how…threatening the key witnesses to trafficking and coercion – the clients – with a sex-crime record if they come forward would help with investigating and prosecuting [sex trafficking]…There is little evidence that the criminalisation of clients even achieves its proponents’ aim of reducing demand for sex work…What sex workers tell us would actually protect them would be to ensure their labour rights, including the right to work in a shared premises, to eliminate stigma and discrimination against sex workers, and to decriminalise sex work.

New Excuse

Elizabeth Brown on the War on Whores as replacement for War on Drugs:

…the “War on Sex Trafficking” that the federal government is waging will fail, just as the “War on Drugs” has failed…just as giving local police and prosecutors an urgent mandate to fight drugs led mostly to the prosecution of low-level drug users and dealers rather than big-time drug traffickers, the fight against sex trafficking—plus federal funding to do so, contingent on arrests and convictions—sets up perverse incentives to treat everyday prostitution as sex trafficking.  All over the country, we’re now seeing what would have been deemed “vice” work reframed as human trafficking stings.  And who gets swept up in these stings?  Willing, adult sex workers.  Their would-be patrons.  Petty pimps…under the new banner of human trafficking even relatively minor crimes related to sex work can come with serious felony status, a sex offender registry requirement and a mandatory minimum prison term…

Held Together With Lies (#447)

It’s difficult to believe that anyone could take this idiocy, which only starts with that “35.8 million slaves” nonsense, seriously.  Oliver Twist!  “Potential victims”!  Nail salons!  Unfortunately, all this foolishness is used to justify something very serious: mass incarceration.

…the Modern Slavery Act…[increased] maximum custodial sentences…from 14 years to life and offenders with prior convictions for very serious sexual or violent offences face automatic life sentences. “It gives law enforcement more flexibility, more powers”…Home Office minister Karen Bradley says the government has “succeeded” in putting modern slavery at the top of the agenda and is “determined to eradicate it”…

Traffic Circle (#542)

Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post “Fact Checker”, continues to hammer at “sex trafficking” myths:

…The sex trade is an underground industry, so on what basis would the revenues from the trafficking of children…in the United States be calculated so precisely…as $9.8 billion?…a…graphic posted on the Internet by Shared Hope International…says it…[came from] a 2005 International Labour Organization report…But that report contains no mention of a $9.8 billion figure for…the United States…only a broad estimate of about $13 billion…for “forced commercial sexual exploitation” for 36 industrialized countries (of which the U.S. represents about 30 percent of the population).  ILO officials say they have never given a breakdown by country…it…is…a fantasy, unconnected to any real data…One could certainly say that the underground sex trade in the United States likely is worth more than a billion dollars, but it would be a serious mistake to conflate that with human trafficking…

Welcome to the Future (#543)

trafficking is being used as a flimsy justification to stigmatise sex workers…Trying to stay as inconspicuous as possible means that these women are forced to take unnecessary risks with their safety, thereby increasing the likelihood that they will be victims of a violent crime.  When this point was raised to the Justice Committee by Laura Lee…she was wilfully humiliated, effectively called a pimp, threatened with legal action, told to have sex with disabled people for free and otherwise completely disregarded…

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