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Diary #398

Last week was dominated by the sudden death of my friend Laura Lee on Wednesday morning; Matisse and I found out Wednesday evening about 10, but we were asked not to say anything until Laura’s daughter made a public statement.  Working out what to say to the press was a lot to ask of such a young woman, but she handled it with the strength and courage she inherited from her mother.  I never met Laura in person; we’ve been talking for a couple of years now about arranging that, but alas fate intervened.  But she and I have been online friends for years, and we shared the deep bonds of sisterhood that only whores can know with each other.  As I wrote in another diary column more than three years ago,

…when sex worker friends get together there’s a kind of camaraderie that I’ve not generally felt among groups of other adult women; it’s a sense of shared experience, of being denizens of a secret world unknown to the general population.  Perhaps we cleave to each other more tightly because the “good” women of the world reject us; perhaps it’s an outgrowth of the necessity for us to watch each other’s backs.  And perhaps it’s also due to our comfort with displays of affection and intimacy that others would find shameful…

That also extends to our online interactions; Brooke Magnanti and I were good friends and confidantes for years before I met her, and Matisse and I were so close that when we finally met for the first time in person, we were finishing each other’s sentences and people were surprised to hear that we hadn’t ever met before.  And the same goes for my relationship with Laura; we sent each other packages, chatted in DMs on Twitter, and supported and consoled each other through some extremely difficult times.  So when I heard the news, I didn’t receive it with the detached sadness one experiences at the death of a beloved celebrity or casual acquaintance, but with the pain of the loss of a real friend.  The sex worker rights movement has lost one of our greatest warriors, a fierce campaigner for human rights who was willing to go toe-to-toe with horrific evil for the benefit of thousands of women who didn’t even know her.  And those of us who did know her have also lost someone we dearly loved.

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Claudia Christophe is a Chicago-based escort currently on hiatus until 2019.  Nonetheless, she has returned to blogging on her own blog, The Claudia Chronicles, here on WordPress and she may very reluctantly return to Twitter later this year.  Previously, she has been an active participant with SWOP-Chicago under a different identity and remains an ardent sex workers’ rights activist in her own way.

Not one second, not one dime.

Let me make something very clear at the start:  I’m not interested in “not all” protestations.  I’m not interested in “No True Scotsmen” objections.  I’m not interested in catering to willful stupidity.  If we’re all on the same page, let’s proceed.

Sex workers need to screen Potential Feminist Allies (PFAs) the way escorts screen potential clients.  Why?  For the same reason escorts screen potential clients:  to make sure that those who will be sharing intimate space with us won’t violate us in said space.  In the case of the sex workers’ rights movement, that intimate space is the movement itself.  Thanks to the tireless, too often thankless, and overall, unpaid efforts of the worldwide sex workers’ rights movement, our voices and diverse experiences within the sex industry are being listened to with increasing respect.  But in the public sphere, that is the media and halls of power, we’re still drowned out by the voices of mainstream feminists who outright hate us or, at the very least, pity us as eternal victims.  It is the latter group of feminist allies that we have to guard against as the former will never be our allies.

It is tempting to accept help from our “sisters” in the feminist movement if they show even the slightest inkling of sympathy for us; it is equally tempting to lend support to a feminist event, even though there’s no hint that such sisterly support will be reciprocal.  But we have to make sure that the support is for sex work itself and not, ostensibly, just for the sex worker; that is how we get monstrosities like the Nordic Model and all its equally gross mutations.  Feminists who can only support sex workers when we talk about bad clients (because it reaffirms their belief that deep down all of us actually hate sex work and can’t wait to be violently rescued), or feminists who only support us because of similar reproductive organs (excluding male, trans and nonbinary workers), are not allies at all; they are the feminists who will inevitably turn on us as soon as it becomes inconvenient to stand with us.

The way we need to screen these PFAs is not a one-to-one analogy to client screening, but it’s close enough.  Let’s start with real-world identification:  Who are they, individual supporters or an organization?  At this point with a client, I would require employment information for verification but in the case of PFAs, I need references:  what background research did they do to make their decision to support the sex workers’ rights movement?  And how have they cast their votes regarding sex work and the law?  Have they consistently voted for politicians and propositions that promote carceral solutions?  Will they continue to vote for these politicians in the future because they subscribe to a “lesser evil” mentality in the voting booth?  Have they donated money to organizations that promote sex trafficking propaganda and an obviously biased exclusion of dissenting and highly nuanced sex worker voices?  Just like verifying references, employment information, checking for previous violent interpersonal actions, and IDs upon meeting, these would-be allies need to prove that our standards for safeguarding our autonomy are ones they will support also.

I, and many other escorts, have a requirement to meet clients in public first, with a few exceptions.  PFAs all need to meet us in public; we are not the “side-chick”, okay?  If we’re invited to participate in a function, we can’t let them hide our presence and thus lessen the impact of the invitation.  If an organization has come to the conclusion that their previous stance on sex workers’ rights was flawed, then the organization needs to publicly amend that stance at the same or greater volume as previous statements on the subject.  This is especially important if said organization ever promoted legislation and policies that have been proven harmful to sex workers:

This is extremely important if the PFA is a politician or other policymaker or influencer.  PFAs, whether individual or organizational, must take responsibility for any past harm they committed against us before we extend our hand in friendship, and nothing less than this.

And then there’s the money aspect.  The obvious screening analogy to this is the deposit:  would-be allies need to put their money where their mouths are before an alliance is solidified.  This is especially important with any famous, wealthy feminist celebrity who might decide, even for a brief moment, that openly supporting sex workers’ rights will be great publicity.  Oh, so Famous Actress made a statement with a half-hearted support for the movement?  Let’s contain our excitement until it’s backed up with cash or other valuable resources (like writers’ rooms!) that Ms. Actress has access to and we don’t.  If supporting our movement becomes unpopular again for whatever reason, at least let’s not expend our precious resources of time, money, energy, attention, etc., on a fair-weather friend.  Maxine Doogan brought up a similar point in this YouTube video where she called out Hollywood hypocrites who make money off portraying us for a substantial paycheck on-screen, while pleading with politicians off-screen to incarcerate us “for our own good”.  For individuals who aren’t wealthy but are new supporters to the cause, well, time is money and we’ll gladly tell you how best to spend it.  Goddess knows that the coffers of the sex workers’ rights movement are sorely in need of filling.

Harsh?  I don’t think so; this is merely the minimum we should expect.  I have a feeling that there may be an upsurge in new feminist support for the sex workers’ rights movement coming soon, but I also fear that it could be very superficial.  In other words, they might offer just enough support to lull sex worker activists into thinking we have more people on our side than ever before until, as I wrote earlier, it suddenly becomes inconvenient to stand with us…until Ms. Privileged Feminist with the large checkbook and larger voting bloc threatens to withdraw support from her feminist organization of choice for their support of sex workers’ rights.  It’s very important to make sure ally participation in our movement doesn’t become a “trend” with a shelf life shorter than an Instastory.

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Bills don’t evaporate when clubs shut down.  –  Reese Piper

R.I.P. Laura Lee 

In the eight years I’ve been writing obituaries for people important to the demimonde, I’ve never before had to write one for a personal friend.  It is with a heavy heart that I announce the untimely passing of Laura Lee, a titan of sex work activism, who left us without warning Wednesday morning.  Matisse and I were informed Wednesday night, but asked not to say anything until Laura’s daughter was ready to make a public announcement, which she did late Thursday:  “My mum unfortunately passed away on Wednesday 7th February 2018.  She asked me to let you all know that she was so grateful for everyone’s support.  I ask you to continue all of your amazing campaign work in her honour.  I’m so proud of all my mum accomplished in her tragically short life.  My family have asked for complete privacy at this difficult time.  Much love & power to you all!”  In respect for the wishes of my late friend and her family, this is all I can say for now, but I’m starting to collect information to write a proper harlotography for her soon. Rest well, sweet lady, and Aphrodite bless thee.

Sex Workers Against Trafficking

GAATW is the largest “anti-trafficking” organization which recognizes that sex workers are the best guardians against real (as opposed to prohibitionist-imagined) coercion:

Sex worker rights organisations are creatively responding to violence, exploitation and other abuses within the sex industry, including instances of human trafficking, according to a new report published by the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women, Sex Workers Organising for Change: Self-representation, community mobilisation and working conditions.  The report is based on research conducted with sex worker organisations in…Canada, Mexico, Spain, South Africa, India, Thailand and New Zealand.  It highlights cases where sex workers, or sex worker organisations, learnt of situations where a woman was experiencing violence, working under unacceptable conditions, or was brought to the industry through force or deception…sex workers resolved the issue…by providing advice and referral to other organisations, negotiating with the brothel owner/madam, chasing the pimp out of their area, or gathering money to help the woman return home.  Despite this important work, sex worker rights organisations are largely unrecognised and even vilified by the anti-trafficking community…

Gorged With Meaning

Both sugar babies and sugar sites are heavily invested in pretending sugar dating isn’t sex work:

Brook Urick approves every piece published on Let’s Talk Sugar, a lifestyle site aimed at sugar babies…[which] is the media arm of SeekingArrangement.com…It may sound strange that sugar dating is attempting to reshape itself into a lifestyle brand.  But if you’re familiar with this scene, and familiar with Seeking Arrangement’s legal treatise, you’re well aware of the motives at play.  Prostitution is illegal in most of America.  Dates that come bundled with a suggested donation?  Not quite…Anything that portrays the sugar community as a niche cultural curiosity with an entire lexicon of inscrutable customs, taboos, and salutations, helps the company’s case that sugar dating is fundamentally detached from sex work.  Seeking Arrangement’s refusal to genuinely engage with the rest of the adult industry has earned mixed reactions from other, self-acknowledged sex workers.  Bobbi Besos, a prostitute who works at the Bunny Ranch in Las Vegas, recently penned a blog post on the brothel’s website—”Sugar Dating: Let’s Stop Sugar-Coating Prostitution“—arguing that the sugar scene’s quasi-legal standing meant that Seeking Arrangement can recuse itself from anything dangerous, coercive, or otherwise destructive that happens over the course of the transactional encounters they help facilitate…

Original Sin

Casual sex causes “sex trafficking”!

During a speech to pastors in Kansas City in December, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley linked the [supposed] problem of sex trafficking to the sexual revolution of the 1960s.  Hawley, the top Republican prospect to challenge Democratic incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill in November…[fantasized] “We have a human trafficking crisis…because people are willing to purchase women…like commodities…The sexual revolution has led to exploitation of women on a scale that we would never have imagined, never have imagined…the false gospel of ‘anything goes’ ends in this road of slavery”…

Missourians have a choice of one lying prohibitionist control freak or another.  Lovely.

Buttons, Bags & Banknotes 

UK feminists win another battle against the employment of women:

…Formula One’s “grid girls”…will find themselves unemployed as of next season.  They are the latest battleground in what has ultimately been a long-fought [prohibitionist] war, which has, at various times, seen arguments about the Sun’s Page 3, Kim Kardashian’s nude selfies, dancers in music videos [etc]…These women are sexually objectified, the argument goes…[and] they send the wrong message to young girls and women…For an argument that is ostensibly about work…any analysis of labour itself is conspicuously missing…Working conditions…would seem a better place to start than sweeping moral judgments on the type of work itself…

Why I Wait

Seeming paradoxes arise when ignoramuses equate marriage rates and childbirth rates with rates of sex-having:

Deaths now outpace births, marriage is plummeting, and young people aren’t having sex.  The media are calling it sekkusu shinai shokogun, or “celibacy syndrome”—an alarming trend that has the Japanese government funnelling tax dollars into speed dating and matchmaking services over fears of an impending economic collapse.  But in a neon-lit pocket of Tokyo’s Shibuya district, BDSM equipment, mirrored ceilings, vibrating beds, and condom vending machines paint a different reality.  Welcome to Love Hotel Hill, where Japan’s sex industry is flourishing…It’s estimated that more than half of sex in Japan occurs in love hotels…There are more than 30,000…in the country, and hundreds in Tokyo alone.  With increasing life expectancies, the rising age of marriage, and high population density, multigenerational households are ubiquitous.  When married couples live in close quarters with elderly parents and children, love hotels offer a practical alternative to thin-walled Japanese homes where privacy is scarce…Discretion is a love hotel’s most important commodity—they often feature secret entrances, covered garages, and disposable license plate covers.  Patrons can make cash-only transactions with clerks stationed behind opaque screens to guarantee anonymity.  Others have sophisticated automated systems…

“Sex trafficking” hysteria is being used as an excuse to make it increasingly difficult for US hotels to offer their patrons similar anonymity.

Amsterdam (#530)

What are they going to do to tourists who won’t turn?  Arrest them?

Guided tours in Amsterdam’s red light district must ensure tourists turn their backs to windows and not photograph prostitutes.  These new measures…aim to lessen the number of tourists visiting the oldest parts of the city…The new rules also ban tours with drugs or alcohol and tighten up the “conditions for bike and Segway tours”…Guided tours will also have to end before 11 p.m. and tourists will not be allowed to stand in bridges or in front of store entrances during working hours…Tour companies that do not respect the new rules…will be heavily fined…

Lack of Evidence (#546)

Remember how New York City claimed doubling the size of its vice squad would magically “help” sex workers?  Here’s what the extra vice pigs are doing:

…Raquel is a 23-year-old trans woman from the Bronx, who [was arrested by plainclothes cops for walking down the street]…it wasn’t until she arrived at the 25th Precinct…that she learned she was being charged with prostitution, along with four other trans women arrested that night.  A police report [lies] that she agreed to perform oral sex…These arrests occurred against the backdrop of an NYPD [propaganda campaign claiming they would] arrest fewer people on prostitution charges and focus vice resources on arresting men who buy and traffic sex…The announcement won praise from [prohibitionists]…Sonia Ossorio, president of the New York City chapter of the National Organization for Women, called [harassing sex workers and cheating them of income] a “big step toward combating this form of modern-day slavery”…

Something Rotten in Sweden (#710)

California now has its own annual anti-whore pogrom:

More than 500 [people] were arrested…56 [of them were sex workers “authorities” claimed]…were rescued during a statewide [pogrom labeled with the Orwellian moniker]…Operation Reclaim and Rebuild…[only] 11 [of the sex workers were underage]…Among the 510 [men] arrested, 30 [were labeled] suspected traffickers and 178 [were labeled] “johns”…

Checklist (#753) 

Just in case you didn’t think you were spied on enough in airports:

If you pass through the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport, you may see new signs asking people to be on the lookout for sex trafficking.  Delta Airlines and the airport have [collaborated] with the Super Bowl and [prohibitionist profiteers] Polaris to [raise hysteria about] the [non-]issue…Delta has also [indoctrinated] thousands of its employees [in racial profiling techniques] to [harass passengers]…

The Course of a Disease (#796)

American politicians increasingly use Swedish-scented rhetoric in futile attempts to disguise the stench of tyranny:

Legislation just introduced in the [Pennsylvania] state House would tackle a key [PR issue] identified by [prohibitionists] seeking to improve the way [they are seen by the public]…[sex workers are] arrested while the customers [are less so.  Prohibitionists lie, claiming that]…a little more than half of victims of human trafficking are being used for sex work [when actually it’s less than 10%], according to the [prohibitionist] group Equality Now [which is led by disgraced prosecutor Lauren Hersh, who resigned in disgrace after she was caught trying to railroad two innocent black men for rape]…

Not So Easy

Prohibitionists are learning the hard way that the wind is shifting:

With more than 200 strip club workers and advocates filling a makeshift meeting room inside the Rosenwald Center’s gym Feb. 6, the New Orleans City Planning Commission (CPC) rejected parts of a plan from the New Orleans City Council to limit the number of strip clubs on Bourbon Street.  The CPC instead followed recommendations from its staff that call for a “soft cap” of 14 clubs, rather than a harder cap limiting clubs to one per block face, as the City Council had proposed…The CPC’s recommendations now head [back] to the City Council…The CPC…said in its report…that it “has not found a direct causality between the number of [Adult Live Performance Venues, or ALPVs] in the [Vieux Carre Entertainment District] and crime”…

That last line is a reference to the thoroughly-disproven dogma of “negative secondary effects“, which claims that sex rays emanating from sexual businesses damage the brains of bystanders, forcing them to commit crimes. 

But while the staid Times-Picayune promotes this ludicrous fantasy and worse:

…[Politicians] have been relying on Times-Picayune investigative series to stoke fears that strip clubs are hotbeds for trafficking…the piece [is]…riddled with more holes than a New Orleans paved road…its authors consistently equate exotic dancing and prostitution with “trafficking”…moreover, the Times-Picayune denies actually having uncovered a pervasive trafficking problem, explaining in the first part of the series that “there has been no evidence that clubs knowingly employed dancers who were victims of human trafficking”…the paper’s gripe with the clubs appears entirely based on the [fantastic] premise that “[s]ome pimps are known to require women under their control to dance in clubs”…

…competing news media are coming out on the sex workers’ side, and the Advocate even gave column space to stripper Reese Piper:

Stripping allows people to not just survive, but thrive, with flexible hours, high earning potential, and a low bar of entry.  When I graduated college, I had more than $80,000 in debt.  Dancing eased that burden…I am also autistic — a disability that makes it difficult to hold down a traditional job…it’s our right to work without fear just like everyone else…

Stupor Bowl (#811)

The real reason the government keeps pushing the thoroughly-debunked “Super Bowl sex trafficking” myth:

Guests at this year’s Super Bowl game in Minneapolis can expect cops, checkpoints, and security theater everywhere, in no small part thanks to the myth that the Super Bowl is a mass sex-trafficking event…”sex trafficking” gives federal and local authorities an excuse for posting police anywhere and everywhere people are gathering—and for enlisting citizens as spies, too…We’re transforming Minneapolis into a police state to…crack down on an issue that almost everyone admits is imaginary…Even crony charity groups that spread all sorts of sex-trafficking misinformation found this myth too easily debunkable to keep repeating.  Pretty much the only folks who haven’t gotten the memo that Super Bowl sex-trafficking panic is bunk are the law-enforcement agents who benefit from promoting it…

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Managing Resources

I’m really a terribly vain creature, so I love compliments and being described with adjectives like “magnificent” and “incomparable”.  But there is one word I often see applied to me which, while it might have been true in the past, certainly is no longer:  that word is “tireless”.  Yes, it’s true that I’m still churning out a column every single day, but compare the average length today with the average length in 2011 or 2012 and I think you’ll see what I mean.  And not only are the columns shorter on average, they’re also less complex and I’m increasingly shying away from labor-intensive columns like harlotographies and reviews.  Furthermore, I no longer do written interviews because they take far too much time and effort, and while I’m flattered by offers to contribute to essay collections or present papers at academic conferences, I’m afraid those are far too time-and-labor intensive for me to be able to handle any more.  The truth is, I’m tired, y’all; in fact, exhausted would be a more honest appraisal.  Don’t worry, I’m not going to call it quits just yet; I figure I can handle another three years at my current pace before I need to take stock again (though of course, that’s little better than a wild-ass guess based on my rate of decline over the past eight years).  But if I’m going to last even that long I’m going to need to manage my steadily-shrinking resources.  In my twenties and thirties I was nigh-inexhaustible; I could keep going at whatever task I set myself until it was done, and was notorious for knocking out short academic papers in one or two sittings.  Even in my forties I was able to marshal my preternatural levels of nervous energy to create the monstrous edifice of prose you’re visiting right now; as I wrote six months ago,

When I first started The Honest Courtesan, I was releasing a decade of pent-up self-expression and trying to distract myself from a disintegrating marriage by burying myself in work (which is pretty much what I always did back before I realized what a tremendously stupid idea absolute sobriety was); now I’m older, wiser, sadder and wearier, and I just can’t maintain the pace I could then (which, to be honest, wasn’t really healthy back then either).  I’m worn thin and threadbare, and I need to devote more time and energy to paying work and to self-care (which includes spending quality time with people who love me)…

I’ve done pretty well on that account in the ensuing half-year, to the point where I’m giving myself permission to generally stop writing by midnight so I can get stoned, and even taking entire days or clusters of days off (though to manage that I need the excuse of spending it with someone I love).  And because I have been doing better, the change to my procedures heralded by this column isn’t quite so big as most of them have been in the past; I’m just going to ask y’all to please be more succinct when emailing me to ask for advice.  I understand that the problem motivating you to write may be a very painful and thorny one, and that you may feel the need to explain it in great depth; however, the longer the letter the more of a sense of anxiety I experience upon opening it, and the greater the anxiety the more likely I am to procrastinate in reading and answering it.  As a rule of thumb, if you can’t see the beginning of your email by the time you reach the end, it’s probably too long; I’m much less likely to feel overwhelmed by emails which fit neatly within a standard computer screen, and that in turn means you’re much more likely to receive a timely answer to your question.

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If I send away all the loose females, there will be no women left here at all.  –  Antoine Laumet de la Mothe, sieur de Cadillac, first governor of Louisiana

New Orleans is one of the older European cities in North America; in fact, this is its tricentennial year.  As I wrote in “Storyville” nearly eight years ago, the city…

…was founded on May 7, 1718…Besides being terribly primitive like all new colonies, New Orleans was hot, mosquito-infested and disease-ridden and therefore had nothing to recommend it to women, so [its founder] petitioned King Louis XV for help in 1721.  The monarch responded by releasing all the prostitutes in La Salpêtrière prison and deporting them to New Orleans, where they of course resumed their trade…In 1728, the Ursuline nuns started to import convent-raised middle-class French girls as wives for the middle and upper-class male colonists and continued to do so until 1751; these were called “casket girls” (filles à la cassette) because the French government issued them small chests of clothing.  Most of the female population were still either whores or former whores, but this concerned few people other than the priests; prostitution in New Orleans was neither regulated nor suppressed at any time during the 18th century…[once the] colony was…sold it to the United States in…1803…the puritanical Americans could not allow things to stand as they were, so though prostitution was still legal a series of regulations were imposed to allow the police to arrest streetwalkers for “vagrancy” or harass madams for “brothel keeping”…New Orleans’ first actual anti-prostitution law was the 1857 Lorette ordinance which prohibited prostitution on the first floor of buildings; it was soon declared unconstitutional…

By the end of the 19th century New Orleans had decided a policy of containment was better than one of harassment, and the result – a large and thriving entertainment district popularly known as “Storyville” and remembered today as the birthplace of jazz – brought so much money into the city that its government fought tooth and nail against Woodrow Wilson’s closing it down by executive order in 1917.  But a city whose native population is mostly descended from whores, and whose fortunes were powerfully augmented by whores, can never shake off that legacy no matter how hard it tries.  Although politicians prefer to pretend otherwise, they’ve existed in an uneasy truce with sex workers for a century now; despite what politicians might want, people come to the Crescent City for vice, and that is an economic fact of life.  For all of my life and probably longer, indoor sex work has been basically tolerated except for the occasional “sting” designed to provide the pigs with entertainment.  Prior to the ’80s, strip clubs were occasionally subjected to publicity-stunt raids, but could mostly avoid trouble by putting up with cops walking in like lords and helping themselves to free booze and money from the till; after the ’80s they were treated as the lucrative tax-paying businesses they are.  And the occasional attempts to “Disneyfy” the city (and there were many) always failed and were quietly shelved later by saner heads, or else just became part of the fabric of the way things were without actually accomplishing the sanitization politicians hoped for.  The last attempt, after Hurricane Katrina, resulted in the de facto exile of many thousands of poor black people and the invasion of the French Quarter, previously packed with locally-owned businesses, by national chains just like those in every other city.  But apparently they’re trying again, aiming to turn the infamous Bourbon Street into the “family friendly”, heavily-surveilled, police-state tourist trap it can never be:

New Orleans officials…are considering a [scheme] that would create one of the most extensive video-monitoring systems for any midsize American city…[it] would require every business with an alcohol license to install street-facing security cameras, and connect them to a real-time [surveillance] center overseen by [cops]…along with typically vexing civil liberties issues, the proposal has sparked concerns that surveillance will…suck the soul out of the place….[pigs claim] live streams and recorded footage from the cameras would be used primarily to solve violent crimes. But…[visitors] count on New Orleans following the Las Vegas rule — that what happens there will stay there…“We have a very vibrant public life, where people feel free to express themselves in public — and I’m not just talking about beads and lifting your top on Mardi Gras,” said Bruce Hamilton, a staff attorney with the [ACLU]…Louisiana branch.  “Everyone acts different when they know the government is watching”…The broad public safety plan announced last year, which included an early version of the camera plan, discussed taking steps to “reduce the culture of permissiveness” in New Orleans.  One of its ideas, to force bars to…close their doors at 3 a.m…has already been shelved after a flurry of criticism…

Another form of violent Puritanism, building for the past couple of years, was more fully implemented in the past couple of weeks, using the excuse of “sex trafficking”:

…The raids appear in tandem with the City Council and City Planning Commission’s (CPC) recent production and upcoming review of an “Adult Live Performance Venues Study,” (ALPV) which recommends…that clubs be closed, due to their [mythical] “secondary negative effects”, though it presents no hard data in support of this claim.  Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s office placed attorney Scott Bergthold on a $15,000 retainer to advise on the ALPV Study.  His firm, adultbusinesslaw.com, litigates against adult businesses on behalf of cities and counties…[the recent] raids, as with the October 2015 raids called “Operation Trick or Treat,” uncovered not one instance of human trafficking or the presence of underage workers…[strippers] who resisted were handcuffed and many described being ridiculed, degraded, and molested by cops.  In response to stripper’s protests of the conduct of all-male officers during the raids, they laughed and replied “You lost your right to decency when you became a stripper”…

But if “authorities” thought sex workers would meekly submit as we so often did in the pre-social media days, they got a rude awakening:

A Jan. 31 press conference about the Bourbon Street infrastructure redevelopment turned cacophonous when a group of gentlemen’s club workers and their allies staged a demonstration, drowning out city and tourism officials.  Holding signs that said “Why the celebration?? Strippers are out of work,” “We are workers, not political pawns” and simply “Can you not?”, a group of at least 70 workers gathered behind officials on the 300 block of Bourbon Street, blocked by a few scattered New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) officers.  As the conference began (and cameras rolled), workers began to chant, rendering officials’ statements almost inaudible…

And while the staid Times-Picayune newspaper and Church-and-crony owned local TV stations obediently parroted prohibitionist myths about magical pimps and passive “sex slaves” somehow mysteriously hidden in busy clubs, their competition such as the Gambit (above) and the Advocate were unafraid to side with sex workers:

Four of the eight French Quarter strip clubs targeted in raids over the past two weeks will be able to start serving alcohol again soon after reaching settlements with state officials…Two other clubs have permanently shut down.  The settlements were announced hours after city and tourism officials were interrupted as they tried to hold a news conference to announce that Bourbon Street was “open for business”…The raids…were touted as an effort to curb human trafficking, but they have not yielded any arrests for that crime, and officials have not provided any public evidence of that activity…protesters said the focus on the clubs was absurd, given the extent of drug use, prostitution and “flashing” that they said typically get a blind eye on Bourbon Street itself.  Chanting “save our jobs” and holding signs with slogans like “Bourbon Street is not Sesame Street” and “Entertainers’ rights are human rights,” the protesters argued the shutdown had done little but hurt their ability to make a living…

And stalwart supporter of sex worker rights Truthout (not to be confused with the prohibitionist Truthdig) took aim at the real reason for the raids:

…The strip club crackdown appears to be part of what locals call the “Disneyfication” of New Orleans.  Wealthy investors and developers took increasing interest in the city as it recovered from Hurricane Katrina, driving up property values and attracting rich transplants to the historic homes in and around the French Quarter.  This has led to calls to “clean up” the streets, which have long been home to artists, travelers, street musicians and sex workers…

For too long, sex workers have been thought of as safe targets of tyranny by cops and politicians who feel secure in the conviction that nobody outside the demimonde will side with us.  But that has changed since I was a Bourbon Street stripper myself; now we’re organizing and fighting back, supported by the millions of supporters we’ve won on social media.  No longer are we afraid to speak up, silenced by the threat of outing; no longer are sex workers entirely isolated and unsure of who our friends are.  And in the very near future, “authorities” all over the US will learn what those in New Orleans are learning right now:  we are a vital part of every human society, and in the long run we will win against the State’s crusade to enslave some of us and wipe the rest of us out.

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Sexworkers don’t need their therapist to “rescue” them.  –  Ronete Cohen

Moloch 

How many kids need to be sacrificed to this obscenity before it’s enough?

A new study led by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that [legal minors] who were legally required to register as sex offenders were at greater risk for harm, including suicide attempts and sexual assault, compared to a group of [minors] who engaged in harmful or illegal sexual behavior but who were not required to register…The study found that registered [minors] were four times as likely to report a recent suicide attempt in the last 30 days, compared to nonregistered [minors.  They]…were nearly twice as likely to have experienced a sexual assault and were five times as likely to have been approached by an adult for sex in the past year….[they] also reported higher rates of other mental health problems, more peer relationship problems, more experiences with peer violence and a lower sense of safety…

The study inexplicably and inaccurately refers to all of its subjects as “children” even though most of them are young [teenage] adults.

The Notorious Badge

It’s good to see a few realistic movies about sex workers:

Anahí Berneri…focuses her lens on a young prostitute in Buenos Aires who struggles to make ends meet in the face of a police force that declares her profession legal, but closes down the brothel where she works…Sofía Gala Castaglione’s performance alongside her real-life son often feels like a documentary.  She imbues Alanis with spunk and determination while allowing for moments of heartbreaking vulnerability.  After two [vice pigs] conduct a sting, posing as potential clients, she is kicked out of the apartment she lives and works out of.  Her friend and roommate Gisela (Dana Basso) is [caged] for running a brothel out of her home which leaves Alanis out on the street without money, clothes, or diapers.  She turns to her aunt for a place to stay and looks for a less volatile line of work, but desperation and the promise of quick cash draws her back to sex work…

Worse Than I Thought

Better headline: “Most moronic & childish sentence ever”:

What is believed to be the longest sentence anywhere in the United States for human trafficking was given out on Tuesday in [Denver]…Brock Franklin was sentenced to 472 years for operating an organized crime ring that put females into prostitution. He was designated a habitual offender…

472 years?  Really?  This is patently absurd; if they wanted the guy locked in a cage forever, there’s a sentence called “life without parole”, but I guess that doesn’t produce as much amusement value at drinking parties.  Does anyone need any more evidence that this is a sick game for prosecutors?  The attorney general of Colorado said this sentence “sends a message”, and she’s right; the message is, “all prosecutors are sociopaths”.

Drama Queens (#48)

Dr. David Ley on sex workers and therapy:

In the minds of many clinicians, involvement in sexwork…is seen as a hallmark sign of behavioral health disturbance, typically associated with severe substance use disorders…Today, amidst a nationwide campaign about human trafficking, many therapists grow concerned that a patient involved in sexwork has been subjected to human trafficking…However…investigation of various risk factors for sexwork, such as drugs, mental health problems, or economic/social vulnerability, have not found consistent or replicated indicators.   Increasingly, individuals consensually involved in various aspects of sexwork are seeking mental health support, and experiencing stigma, assumptions, and judgment from their clinicians…

The Widening Gyre (#507) 

If there is a Hell, people who pimp sex workers’ corpses are going straight to the bottom:

The estate of a [sex worker murdered] by a [client] in a…Portland hotel in 2014 has filed a $3.6 million lawsuit against the owners of the Hilton hotel chain and Backpage.com…[claiming]…Ashley Benson…was forced to appear in multiple ads for sex on Backpage.com…Her killer, Tae Bum Yoon…met with her repeatedly, stalked her, monitored her activity and tracked her whereabouts for several months through the website, the lawsuit said.  He became upset when he saw her [touring] in Austin, Texas.  He used a stolen identity to check into the DoubleTree on Christmas Day 2014 and lure Benson there, the lawsuit said…

If you follow the links back, you’ll see that the greedy family got the “sex trafficking” narrative from the pigs, who started publicly wanking to “trafficking” fantasies over Benson’s corpse before it was even cold.

Dating Game

More evidence that “free” pussy is the most expensive kind:

…Lindy Lou Layman, a 29-year-old Dallas court reporter, was on [a first] date with attorney Anthony Buzbee on Dec. 23 when she…became intoxicated, hid from [Buzbee] inside his own $14 million mansion, and, when he tried twice to get her an Uber ride home, started attacking his art…she was charged with felony criminal mischief after allegedly tearing three paintings off the wall, pouring an unidentified liquid on them, and destroying two abstract sculptures by “throwing them across the room”…two of the paintings were original Warhols valued at $500,000 apiece.  The sculptures…were worth $20,000 each…

Hard Numbers (#624)

Whores in the so-called “developing world” are so much better at activism than those of us in the US:

…In Brazil, sex work remains politically and socially contentious.  But thanks to a staunch sex worker movement in the country, the people who actually do the work have made themselves key contributors to the debate.  It…has…fought tirelessly for the full recognition of sex work as a profession.  This year marks the 30th anniversary of that movement…In July 1987, sex workers Gabriela Leite and Lourdes Barreto held the first national meeting for Brazil’s prostitutes.  It resulted in the Brazilian Network of Prostitutes (BNP) as well as the publication of a newsletter Beijo da Rua (Kiss from the Street).  The BNP’s mission was to build a new discourse of prostitution, not tied to crime or victimisation…

To Molest and Rape 

I hope they tack on several years for running away:

…In April 2006, [Utah jailer William] Lawrence handcuffed a woman in his apartment…and [raped her]…He also showed the woman a badge and threatened to take her to jail and call the Division of Child and Family Services if she didn’t comply…Lawrence pleaded guilty to forcible sex abuse, a third-degree felony, in 2007.  In exchange for his guilty plea, a charge of forcible sodomy was dropped.  He failed to show up for sentencing in April 2008, so a warrant was issued for his arrest.  In October…investigators discovered that Lawrence had created a fake identity and was living in Hawaii.  He was arrested there without incident last month…

Too Close To Home (#760)

Here’s another exercise in cop-fellation and myth-regurgitation masquerading as journalism.  Do prohibitionists have so little to talk about that they need to keep rehashing a two-year-old story as though it happened yesterday? Are they so intellectually and morally bankrupt that they really don’t think it’s necessary to fact-check a self-congratulatory piece of racist, anti-sex propaganda when there are plenty of actual facts, including Liz Brown’s savage debunking of Seattle’s official claims, to be found all over the internet?  This moral panic needs to hurry up and die already, because judging by the stench it’s already putrefying.

The Widening Gyre (#778) 

It’s hilarious watching the cops trying to regain control of a runaway moral panic:

The Reno Police Department received reports of “at least 14 [non-] incidents” in the area over the past month of women [imagining they were] being followed by suspicious subjects…Lt. Zack Thew said…all incidents had one common thread:  No…crimes were committed…[but] “We are treating this as a top priority [anyhow]”…He said some of the suspicious subjects were reported as…”[talking] on a cell phone”…Some women have been with their children at the time of the reported [non-] incident…In the majority of [non-] incidents…there was no contact between the [supposedly] suspicious person and the woman…

The idea that being within sight of a woman while talking on a phone constitutes a “suspicious incident” is ludicrous even by “sex trafficking” standards.

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Sex workers…are fed up with being used as pawns…in…a publicity stunt.  –  Valerie Scott

Dirty Amateurs

Amateurs are a menace to public health; they should be licensed and heavily regulated:

A new campaign’s being launched by Public Health England to get more under-25s to use condoms…a survey carried out by PHE and YouGov revealed almost half of 16-24-year-olds have never used a condom with a new partner.  One in 10 of them had never even used one…

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs

The story is the same the world over:

…The Immoral Traffic Prevention Act 1986, which conflates trafficking and sex trade…and…other laws under the Indian Penal Code…look at trafficking only from the perspective of sex work…people being tricked into or forced into moving for labour related activities in construction, factories etc are left out of the equation…The proposed new anti-trafficking Bill makes small amends.  [sic] But, leaves a lot more to be desired…interestingly, the version of the Bill that was distributed to the stakeholders for feedback is not the version that is with the Cabinet.  So, when the Bill will be introduced in the Parliament in the Winter Session, the chances are that parts of it will come as a shock to various communities that will be affected by it…Sex workers have constantly expressed their opposition to the Bill, claiming that it presupposes that sex work always entails trafficking and can never be voluntary…

End Demand 

The “end demand” strategy carried to its logical conclusion:

21-year-old Creio Chance Bishop did not want his girlfriend dancing at JB’s Gentlemen’s Club in West Virginia.  The jealous boyfriend is facing second-degree arson charges after…he set the exterior of the strip club where his girlfriend worked on fire at 3:30 a.m. on December 13.  The manager…Jim Reed…[said] “It’s stupid.  She’s trying to make a living for herself.  He’s not doing nothing.  She’s paying the bills, from what I understand.”  Bishop fled the crime scene on foot, only making it as far as a Walmart parking lot right across the street before Cabell County Sheriff’s Department deputies detained him…

Monsters 

This brings the toll to 28 this year:

A transgender woman was shot to death in Houston’s Sunnyside neighborhood early Wednesday, Dec. 13…Brandi Seals, 26…is at least the 28th trans person murdered in the U.S. in 2017, the deadliest year on record for the community.  The vast majority of victims, including Seals, have been trans women of color.  Four of the murders have occurred in Texas.  Seals was repeatedly misgendered in a Fox 26 report about her murder, including by a Houston police detective who referred to the victim as “a man in women’s clothing”…

Bait and Switch

If you’re tempted to badge-lick about this, reread the original article of this heading:

A 22-year-old college student at Ohio’s Youngstown State University was arrested after falling for a fictional 15-year-old boy created by local cops…[who] used a phony dating-app profile for…an adult to lure in the student…After chatting, the catfish “revealed” he was [supposedly] 15 years old.  The college student, A.G. (not his full name), indicated he didn’t have a problem with his age.  The conversation eventually turned sexual and A.G. sent the faux boy some nude photos of himself.  It was clear from the exchanges, police [admit], that A.G. was developing feelings for the imaginary teen.  A.G. described him as “my one and only” and talked about being his husband someday.  On December 12…A.G. showed up at what he thought was the boy’s home with homemade chicken alfredo, soda, and lubricant…This a young man who is about 5’7″…weighs 450 pounds…[and] is gay in a part of Ohio where that’s still really difficult sometimes…he…was preyed on by police who pretended to be interested and said exactly what he wanted to hear, even after realizing the emotional attachment he was developing and the potential psychological effect this was having on him.  And now he will likely be branded a sex offender and a pedophile for life.

Harm Reduction (#627)

Alas, politicians, being exceptionally stupid creatures, cannot understand that the same principles hold true for all prohibition:

Norway is to become the first Scandinavian country to decriminalise drugs as it focuses on treatment rather than punishment.  The majority of the Norwegian parliament, the Storting, backed the historic shift…and…directed the national government to reform its policies on drugs.  Sveinung Stensland, deputy chairman of the Storting Health Committee, [said]…“It is important to emphasise that we do not legalise cannabis and other drugs, but we decriminalise…those who have a substance abuse problem should be treated as ill, and not as criminals with classical sanctions such as fines and imprisonment”…

Of course, the vast majority of people who use prohibited drugs have no “problem”, and if this new policy forces people into “treatment” it’ll just be another Scandinavian scheme to dress authoritarianism up as social justice.

The Puritan Recrudescence

“Environmental cost” = “public health crisis”.

…Is pornography in the digital era leaving a larger carbon footprint than it did during the days of magazines and videos?…if pornography experts’ estimates are accurate, they suggest a rare scenario where digitization might have increased the overall consumption of porn so much that…people to spend so much time looking at porn that it’s actually worse for the environment…

The Course of a Disease (#634)

It’s good to see Médecins du Monde make this position official:

Médecins du Monde has officially announced its position in favor of the total decriminalization of sex work…adopting a position similar to that of Amnesty International…Dr Françoise Sivignon [said]…”In France, a little more than a year and a half after the adoption of the law aimed at fighting against the prostitution system, we clearly see the deleterious impact of measures adopted…we are witnessing the isolation…of sex workers, their distance from care and prevention structures, as well as increased exposure to sexually transmitted infections and increased violence”…Doctors of the World had already made known its position against the penalization of the customers during the parliamentary debates of the previous years…The organization…explains…[that] criminalization policies are…incompatible with good access to [medical] care or prevention…

To Molest and Rape 

Two more cops, protecting and serving:

Two [Alabama cops]…Jonathan Perry Works…and Brian Edward Walker…were…charged with two counts of first-degree rape and two counts of first-degree sodomy…[for raping a] mentally incapacitated [woman]…

Whither Canada? (#748)

Articles like this are much more common in Canada, while US media self-destructively cheer censorship:

Recently, the owner of a [Greater Toronto] bar began a campaign against NOW Magazine.  Decals reading “NOW Sells Sex Slaves” have been appearing in parts of Toronto, including on public art.  Letters making false and misleading claims that NOW “facilitates human trafficking” have been sent to many of the magazine’s advertisers and to Chief Federal Prosecutor Morris Pistyner…NOW does not “facilitate human trafficking.”  In fact, quite the opposite.  By publishing the ads of sex workers, NOW facilitates our ability to remain safe and independent.  But religious fundamentalists – and some old-school feminists –  have formed alliances and been quite successful in redefining all sex work as human trafficking.  In their view, all adult women are incapable of making the choice of whom to have sex with if money is involved…

Scrupleless in Seattle (#772)

These guys dodged a bullet, but you may not; STOP going to see unknowns who may be cops!

After more than a hundred people were arrested early September following an eight-day prostitution sting in Bellevue, 61 of those cases have now been dismissed due to [cops’ violation of] Washington state law…Part of the [scheme] included hidden cameras…[but] state law requires two-party consent to record audio conversations…

The Pygmalion Fallacy (#778) 

A talking toaster is still a toaster:

In February…I ran an experiment in which I sexually harassed Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Google’s Google Home to document how these digital personal servants—whose names and voices are already feminized—peddle stereotypes of female subservience, putting their “progressive” parent companies in a moral predicament.  Now, those findings are being cited in a petition on the social network Care2 asking Apple and Amazon to “reprogram their bots to push back against sexual harassment”…

The idea that words and phrases without sexual motivation shouted at a circuit board constitute “sexual harassment” is like something out of a Monty Python sketch; the fact that people seriously think of this nonsense as a “moral predicament” doesn’t say much for their grasp of reality.

Against Their Will (#795)

Prohibitionists call this “rescue”:

Yang Song fell four stories onto a sidewalk in Flushing, Queens on the night of November 25th…while [fleeing] police…attempting to arrest her for allegedly engaging in sex work…Hai Song, Yang’s younger brother…and his 65-year-old mother, Yumei Shi…are haunted by details she shared with them over the phone this year.  Yang described being sexually assaulted by a man who flashed a badge and gun and claimed to be an undercover cop, they say.  Yang also told them that the police [pressured] her to become a [snitch] this fall…“I hope to know the truth,” Shi [said via]…a translator.  “We want to know whether this was a retaliation from the police and they forced her to die”…While the police [claim] that they were not in the room when Yang jumped…both Hai and Shi insist that she would not kill herself…they are left with the stories Yang shared with them about her life in Flushing — and of the police she…[was] harassed and intimidated by…

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