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Posts Tagged ‘activism’

Thanks in part to my foresight in getting ahead in my writing before I left for the UK, it wasn’t difficult to catch back up when I returned; I’ve made similar (though lesser) preparations for my trip to Los Angeles this weekend (leaving Seattle on Thursday & returning Sunday).  And that’s good news not only for my stress levels, but for my off-blog writing as well; it looks as though I’ll finally be in the right headspace to start compiling The Essential Maggie McNeill, which I’ve been promising y’all for about three years now.  Even better news:  once I get in the swing of doing that work, I should be able to get out about three volumes of that in reasonably-rapid succession.  I’ve also got another story in mind, and I’ll probably write it before the end of the summer.  But back to the short term:  at 10 AM PDT Thursday (17:00 UTC) I’ll be taking part in an “Ask Me Anything” on Reddit organized by Liara Roux.  More accurately, the AMA starts at that time; there are over 25 of us participating, so though it’s very unlikely you’ll see me there very early, I’ll try to answer as many questions as I can while at the airport and on the plane to LA, so roughly 4 – 8 PM PDT.  Which reminds me:  my venerable rolly-bag carry-on, which I’ve had since the mid-90s or thereabouts, seems close to giving up the ghost; one of her zippers is now broken and the other lost its pull-tab quite a while back.  So I’ve put a new one I’d like on my Amazon wishlist, along with a lot of other nifty things I’d like; if you’re in a mood to give me a present, there’s your chance!  Amazon arranges the list by order things were put on, so don’t be afraid to scroll down and get me something from further down the list if you’re so inclined.  And anyone who does gets a copy of “Bird of Prey” if they haven’t got one already.

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If you’re a regular reader you’ve probably noticed that I’m fond of metaphors, and I’ve used a number of different ones over the years to describe the way public opinion about sex work has been slowly changing.  I’ve used the cycle of day and night, shifting winds, and crossing a watershed, but today I’m going to return to one I first used almost three years ago, the turn of the tide.  I rather like that image right now because, like the tide, the apparently-sudden shift seems to have surprised those unable to read the signs I’ve been telling you about for quite a while now.  The turning started when Amnesty International announced its support for decriminalization, but most prohibitionists were unable to read that and so encouraged the US government in what is beginning to look like a fatal overstep, the awful FOSTA censorship law which is designed to gut the internet in its haste to force sex workers back into the shadows under the pretense of fighting “sex trafficking”.

I call it an overstep because it’s fairly clear that its proponents had no idea it would not silence sex workers, but rather amplify our voices instead; US sex workers have finally begun to come out in unprecedented numbers to fight for our rights:

…over 300 sex workers and allies gathered…in downtown Oakland for International Whores Day…The rally’s focus on FOSTA shows just how dramatically the legislation has shifted the sex work debate…the rally mobilized hundreds of sex workers—in the past…events like this might have drawn only 15 people.  “People are hungry, people have lost their screening tools,” said Hunter [Leight].  “They’re coming out because they’re desperate, they’re stressed, and they’re under attack”…

in other words, FOSTA has finally made US sex workers aware that we’re being backed into a corner, and that we are at war.  For decades US sex workers, pushed into the shadows by criminalization, have been afraid to mobilize to the same levels as our sisters in the majority of the world, where our work is at least legal (albeit heavily stigmatized and persecuted by cops); these new laws have forced American whores to understand that our enemies will not stop until we’re dead, and that our only alternative is to fight back.  And we’re not alone; the mainstream media are finally beginning to notice us, and it’s no longer politically fatal for politicians to support sex worker rights.  But perhaps one of the most telling signs of how much the tide has turned came last week from Down Under; Australia and New Zealand aren’t all that different from the US culturally, though they stayed with the British Empire instead of breaking away as the US did.  And since they’re more advanced than the mother country in the area of sex worker rights, we got to see this

Named in [New Zealand’s] twice-year allotment of knighthoods…is life-long advocate and founding member of the nation’s prostitutes’ collective, Catherine Healy, who has been made a dame companion for her services to the rights of sex workers…While working as a school teacher in the ’80s, Dame Catherine signed up for a receptionist job at a brothel to earn extra money for travel.  She was the collective’s national coordinator by the end of the decade.  She built the group into an internationally-recognised organisation, becoming the country’s leading voice for sex worker rights, health and education and eventually organised the charge towards decriminalisation of prostitution in 2003…

And this:

Julie Bates laughs at the way she instinctively responded when the emblem of the Crown bobbed up on an email in her inbox a few weeks ago.  “I thought ‘Oh my God, what have I done now?’” It’s been 23 years since the sex industry was decriminalised in NSW, and still,  sometimes, “the only thing you expect first thing in the morning is a knock on the door from the cops…that kind of trauma and instinct still sits with you, no matter how many years ago it was.”  The email, however, bore good news: the 68-year old becomes an officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in the Queen’s Birthday honours, recognising the work she’s done over decades to champion the rights of sex workers and mobilise the sex industry against the spread of HIV/AIDS…

Naturally, the prohibitionists are furious, but they’re as helpless against this as sea creatures washed up on the beach are to stop the retreating tide.  For US politicians and staid Commonwealth governments to feel comfortable supporting something, that thing must already have considerable public support.  The prohibitionists put all of their hopes into “sex trafficking” hysteria, and as that hysteria dries up – in part due to their own incredible overconfidence and total lack of restraint in inventing absurd numbers and outrageous lies – they’re going to find themselves abandoned in the dirt and slowly dying of neglect as the rest of humanity leaves them behind.

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Diary #415

After two weeks of wandering around Great Britain, I returned home and hit the ground running; though my body clock took longer to reset than I’d have liked, that didn’t stop me from having a busy week of work.  I spent a lot of it where you see me in this picture, and I don’t mean sleeping; that’s a good thing, because my bills aren’t going to pay themselves.  But I also spent some time working on catching up on my blogging and engaging in some activism stuff which I can’t tell you about yet, but which I think will be big; the only hint I’ll give is that I spent some considerable time emailing and talking on the phone with a person who’s been in the news quite a bit over the past few years, and whose work you’ve often seen mentioned in this blog.  Yes, I’m a terrible tease, but you knew that; don’t worry, it should only be a few weeks before I can say anything.  Speaking of a few weeks, I’ll be in Los Angeles from the 21st to the 24th, but that’s on activism business rather than harlotry business; I don’t really plan to see any clients, but if you’re absolutely desperate to see me I might be able to squeeze you in somewhere (see what I did there?) before I fly back to Seattle.  Anyway, that’s about all I have to say for now, except yes, I really do have red sheets on my bed (except when they’re purple); if you’d like to see ’em in person, you know what to do.

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The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.  –  Frederick Douglass

Revolutions are caused by governments.

I don’t just mean that in the loose sense that tyranny will eventually provoke revolt; I mean it in a much more direct sense, namely that it is the intrinsic nature of government to continue growing ever more tyrannous until a revolution becomes inevitable.  Those in power are, as Prince said of his mother, never satisfied; they are irresistibly compelled by their own sociopathic and unquenchable thirst for control over others to continually increase the number and breadth of laws and the intensity of the viciousness of their enforcement until at some point they become, like the aforementioned musician’s father, too bold.  In less purple prose, they eventually increase the pressure on their subjects so much that an explosion inevitably occurs.  But most humans are more like sheep than doves; they will placidly endure any mistreatment from their masters, occasionally uttering an angry bleat but otherwise standing by, idly grazing while other members of the flock are herded off to the slaughterhouse.  One wonders if actual sheep have primitive thoughts somewhat akin to “he had it coming”, “she was no angel” or “the law is the law” when rams, ewes and even lambs are taken away by the herdsmen, never to be seen again; perhaps there are even apologists among them, telling the others that this is a positive good intended to protect them from bogeysheep which are often bleated about but never actually seen.  Of course, this extended metaphor is absurd in one important way: shepherds are not of their own species, and really are wiser and more able to deal with problems that might arise than the sheep themselves.  The same cannot be said of humans, who are not only herded by members of our own species, but specifically its least wise, least able members (for the simple reason that the wise and spiritually evolved do not desire to control other sentient individuals).  And since we are governed by those least capable of governing themselves, they are incapable of saying “enough” and so continue to increase the pressure until something bursts.

43 years ago today, the French government discovered to its chagrin that its moronic and evil “abolitionist” policies had surpassed the point French whores were willing to endure; their cry of protest against that tyranny was heard by the entire world and spawned the worldwide sex worker rights movement which eventually won improved conditions in many countries.  Needless to say, these victories encouraged the control freaks to double down rather than simply accepting their fellow humans as human, and the “sex trafficking” myth was reanimated from its century-old grave to serve this vile purpose.  This succeeded quite well for well over a decade, but now it seems that the power-mad have once again gone too far for their own good:  sex workers are organizing like never before to fight these evil laws and policies, and this time even the less-criminalized branches of our profession are joining us.  Yesterday in the US, hundreds of whores descended upon Washington, DC and many state capitals to lobby against FOSTA and other tyrannies, and in the past few months a number of politicians all over the country have started openly opposing the criminalization of our profession, a position which would have meant political death only a few years ago.  Once again, the tyrants have gone too far; they have inflicted so much brutal violence that even the sheep are fighting back alongside bitches like me who have never submitted obediently to the control of our self-appointed masters.  As always, the tyrants have been unable to exercise enough self-control to quit while they were ahead, so that when we eventually win our rights back we will, in a strange way, have our oppressors to thank for it.

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It’s a privilege that [clients] choose us to share their hopes, fears and dreams with.  –  Rachel Wotton

Lack of Evidence

Discrimination against sex workers invariably affects other women as well:

Landlords in Nairobi…are threatening to smoke out single women from their apartments, claiming that their houses have been turned into sex dens.  The[y]…have now resorted to vetting potential tenants and turning away single women…“We have instructed our agents and caretakers to ensure that female tenants provide proof of marriage or that they have serious boyfriends before they are allowed to live in our apartments,” said one of the landlords…most of have been outwitted by shrewd women who [circumvent] the…[discrimination] process by bringing male companions to pose as husbands during their house-hunting missions…

Long-time readers may remember that similar practices in 19th-century Europe led to the appearance of pimps.  I also find it fascinating that so many ignoramuses seem to think marriage is a magical ward against harlotry.

The Public Eye 

The more out sex workers there are, the harder it will be to ignore us:

In 1995 New South Wales  became…the first place…in the world to decriminalise sex work.  Against a backdrop of the AIDS epidemic and a recommendation to fight police corruption from a royal commission into the state’s police service, sex workers succeeded in lobbying the government for change.  The NSW model is often cited as an example of best-practice, evidence-based regulation.  The state has an estimated 10,000 sex workers and many of them are active globally in law reform, human rights and HIV prevention campaigns.  But 23 years since decriminalisation, how much has changed for sex workers and what does the future hold?  The Guardian spoke to six sex workers about their personal experiences and the diverse nature of the work they do…

Most of y’all will probably recognize at least one or two of these names, especially that of Rachel Wotton, whom I deeply admire and got to meet last month.

Catastrophic Consequences

After harassing sex workers for the past five years, Scottish police now pretend they want to be “fair”:

Police Scotland is to review thousands of warnings handed out to sex workers in a bid to ensure prostitutes are not being unfairly criminalised.  Warnings…will also be removed from the internal police system after two years as part of a new policy designed to reduce the risk of discrimination…Under the existing system…A range of warnings are “weeded”…after two years, but there is a higher hurdle for sex workers to overcome.  A single warning for a prostitute will be erased from the system after 24 months, but two or more sanctions for the same individual triggers the so-called “40-20” rule.  This means that a person has to be 40 years old or over, and the information would have had to be on record for at least 20 years, before a weed is carried out…The move comes nearly five years after Police Scotland raids on saunas in Edinburgh effectively ended the regulated brothel system in the city…The action is believed to have damaged police relations with sex workers…

“Is believed to have damaged relations”.  Really?  I can’t imagine why hounding people out of safe working conditions, destroying their livelihoods and saddling them with 20-year criminal records would make them unhappy.

Nice While It Lasted

Remember when a person had to actually be found guilty to get a life sentence?

In New York a defendant can be forced to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life based on accusations a jury rejected.  So the state’s highest court ruled last week in a case that illustrates how fear and loathing of sex offenders  lead to results that would be recognized as unjust and illogical in any other context.  Quinn Britton’s 13-year-old niece, identified in court documents as A.B., accused him of raping her during a Thanksgiving Day visit to her grandmother’s home in Brooklyn…when she was 11.  Britton denied any inappropriate behavior, and his mother said A.B. had spent the whole evening watching TV in the living room with her.  The girl’s older brother said she had described a sexual assault to him, but…A.B. told her brother Britton had tried to engage in vaginal intercourse with her but couldn’t because his penis “wouldn’t fit”.  By contrast, she told police Britton had penetrative sex with her for about 10 minutes.  A detective testi[l]ied that Britton had admitted touching, kissing, and performing oral sex on A.B., but he had no recording or written statement to corroborate the confession, which Britton denied making.  The jurors…found Britton guilty of second-degree sexual abuse, a misdemeanor, based on the allegation that he kissed A.B.’s breasts, but not guilty of three felonies…the judge nevertheless assumed that Britton had committed the felonies and therefore assigned him to risk level two…which triggers lifetime registration…

The reason the judge can get away with this abomination is the loathsome pretense that “sex offender” registration is merely a administrative requirement rather than a penalty.

The Missing Word (#735)

Note that state-sanctioned near-slavery isn’t called “trafficking” herein:

Two Bangladeshi men…have been charged at a Dubai court with human trafficking after they allegedly tried to sell an Indonesian absconding maid…via WhatsApp…They are also facing charges…of running a…prostitution den, facilitating prostitution…and sexual exploitation…the victim…[was] subject to a deportation order…[she] said…”I got in contact with a countrywoman and told her I was not happy at work because the sponsor’s wife was very demanding.  That woman introduced me to another compatriot (a wanted runaway) who promised me a part-time job…The runaway woman told me I would work as a prostitute and that I had to accept as I had no other choice”…

The “sponsors” of such migrant workers hold officially-granted power over them, and often abuse and exploit them because they can have them deported at a whim.  Women who flee the exploitation are treated as criminals (note the terms “absconding” and “runaways”); is it any wonder other nasty characters can take advantage of them?  But only the people they flee to are called “traffickers”, never the well-connected abusers they flee from.

The Punitive Mindset (#804) 

If there’s anything narrower and meaner than the mind of a prison official, I’m not sure what it might be:

The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is quietly rolling out a pair of new policies that could restrict access to books and communications for the system’s nearly 200,000 prisoners.  The first of the new policies bans all books from being sent into federal facilities from outside sources including Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  These retailers are usually the only means by which prisoners can receive books because most facilities reject reading material sent from individuals or small bookstores due to [arbitrary bullshit]…Now, prisoners instead will have to submit a request to purchase books — a limit of five per order — through an ordering system in which they must pay exorbitant prices and don’t have the option to buy cheaper used paperbacks.  In addition, prisoners must pay a 30 percent tax plus shipping cost…Under the new protocol, a book purchased from Amazon for as little as $11.76, with shipping included, could cost more than $26.  The new books policy…has been in effect in [two facilities for months]…and…has resulted in a massive price increase for books as well as months of wait time between orders…

Unchristian Nation 

Government thugs continue their crusade against Christian charity:

Scott Warren was arrested by Border Patrol agents…just north of the Mexican border, in January…he was indicted by a grand jury in February, on two counts of harboring illegal aliens and one count of conspiracy to transport and harbor illegal aliens…Warren is also one of nine volunteers with No More Deaths, an official ministry of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson, to be hit with federal charges in recent months for leaving water in a remote federal wilderness preserve where migrants routinely disappear and die.  His arrest came just hours after No More Deaths published a report that documents evidence of Border Patrol agents destroying jugs of water that the group leaves for migrants in the desert…

This Means War (#831)

It’s good to see they’re going to fight this:

Backpage.com co-founder Michael Lacey offered his first public comments about allegations of running prostitution ads and money laundering.  “Nonsense!” Lacey said before his attorney added that his client had no further comment.  Lacey, and co-founder James Larkin are scheduled to stand trial Jan. 15, 2020…Five site employees will also stand trial.  Attorneys were given enough time to review an estimated 7 million to 9 million pages of documents about the case…CEO Carl Ferrer, has pleaded guilty to a separate federal conspiracy case in Arizona and state money laundering charges in California.  In addition, [Ferrer] pleaded guilty [in the company’s name] to human trafficking in Texas and in a federal money laundering conspiracy case in Arizona.  Ferrer has agreed to testify against others…

Legal Is as Legal Does (#837) 

I should’ve realized a change like that wouldn’t be a merely administrative one:

Experience in the sex…industry will no longer help would-be immigrants move to New Zealand, it seems.  The recently-hyped addition to the employment list, for visa hopefuls, has vanished from the immigration website…While the Immigration New Zealand (INZ) website did not issue any official statement on the development, the agency’s area manager Stephanie Greathead told local media that the removal was done to avoid “further confusion”

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Last week was just as crammed full of the same kind of stuff as the week before, plus I’m trying to get as many columns in the pipeline as possible before I leave a week from today to visit the UK with Brooke Magnanti.  So far it’s going well; if I keep up this pace I’ll have everything done through June 2nd by the time I land in London, with the exception of the next couple of diary columns (which I obviously can’t do that far ahead), two picture columns like the ones I did on my trips with Lorelei, and the news column for June 3rd (which I will be able to finish on the trip as long as I can average a paltry one item per day).  You may have noticed that my news columns run 9 to 13 items; I’ve been artificially keeping them at 9 for the past couple of weeks so I can use a sort of toothpaste-tube effect to ensure I get all the May columns done by the time I arrive in London.  That way, I don’t have to stress about it on my trip.  Of course, the pipeline will be empty by the time I get back, but of late I’ve gotten pretty good at rebuilding the queue, so it won’t take long to get back up to my normal lead of 3 to 5 columns.  If you’re interested in taking advantage of my special, you only have until Sunday; but if you just want to see me and hear my Jessica Rabbit voice you need look no further than the podcast below, recorded two weeks ago when I was in LA.

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Whenever things in the demimonde go haywire, as with the recent ramping up of the US War on Whores, my own schedule gets much busier (as might be expected).  Between interviews, consultations, answering questions from nervous sex workers, planning for moving this blog and my escort website offshore, joining Switter, dealing with the time-wasters & harassers these events have drawn out of the woodwork, modifying my upcoming article for the next print edition of Reason (on sale in about 3 weeks) and doing my regular paying work, I’ve also had to push myself harder to plan and write as many columns in advance as possible so I don’t have to stress about it so much while I’m in the UK with Brooke Magnanti.  If you want to see me there, please let me know ASAP so we can schedule, and if you’re in the US you may want to take advantage of my “Two Out of Three” special.  However, the week wasn’t all work work work; I received this lovely lilac dress and a very flattering casual top from Paddy from NY, some super-sexy black snakeskin tights from Cdk, and a very generous cash donation from a reader in the Netherlands who wanted to show his support during these dark times.  Thank you all, and especially to my subscribers whose regular donations brighten my days; I couldn’t do this without y’all!

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