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Diary #317

selfie 7-19-16I didn’t exactly have a lot of down-time after getting home from Desiree (read: none); I was up until four in the morning to get Saturday’s “In the News” column done, and I don’t think I actually got dressed on Saturday because I couldn’t get away from the computer until after dinner (and then not for long).  Tara Burns was briefly in town on her way back to Alaska from the conference, so we visited for a while on Sunday, then I saw a regular on Monday and on Tuesday I was zooming down to Portland for a very brief (one-night) tour.  Don’t worry, Portland guys; if you missed me this time there will be other opportunities (and I’m even willing to drive down there just to see YOU if you’re willing to book a large enough block of time).  But boy, are your streets confusing!  I actually passed my hotel and had to double back twice because the street sign was both small and hidden by a tree.  Still, I had dinner in a nice restaurant on the riverfront that evening (where I took this selfie), brunched with Thaddeus Russell (who spends part of his time there) on Wednesday morning, then visited the massive Powell’s Bookstore before returning to Seattle.  Between errands, emails, phone calls, writing, work and activist strategizing  I still haven’t actually stopped, but I’m ahead of my self-imposed quota, getting things accomplished and scheduled for several more beauty treatments in the next few weeks, so it’s all good.  And I might still be making the tour to Washington DC that I can’t remember whether I mentioned here, but I’ll keep you posted as soon as I can slow down enough to figure it out!

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Diary #316

As I predicted, the Desiree Alliance conference was a blast!  Vignette, Jae & I flew down on Sunday, and as I explained in Friday’s column the trip was very tolerable for me despite moderate turbulence.  “Moderate”, that is, for any normal person; if not for my Valium-Zofran one-two punch I’d have been puking and sobbing.  But thanks to Better Living Through Chemistry, I instead passed the trip tweeting and writing and arrived in my home town only slightly Valium-dopey.  Dinner and cocktails with Kaytlin Bailey, Joy de Vive and my traveling companions soon set me to rights, and by the time Grace arrived via motorcycle I was feeling just grand.  The next day was dominated by socializing, cocktails, a performance of Kaytlin’s new show “Consensual Business“, and a very memorable dinner with her, Grace and Tara Burns in which we got Grace to eat octopus, Tara scored us a free round of cocktails and Kaytlin googled “Maggie McNeill naked” on her smartphone to show the waiters.

On Tuesday, I took a break from the conference to visit my gynecologist, my cousin Alan and my friends Frank & Olivia, in that order; Grace took me on her motorcycle and we didn’t get back until about 2:30 in the morning.  On Wednesday Allena Gabosch and I bummed around the French Quarter; I bought two new dresses from my friend Solomon and a print of this beautiful Tara McPherson painting, which I like more every time I look at it.  We then had cocktails with Matisse, and later Matisse and I hung out together and talked, which we’ve both been too busy to do with each other for the past few months.  Then on Thursday evening the two of us, Savannah, Stacey Swimme and another lady were taken to dinner by a lovely and generous gentleman, and the party which followed…well, let’s just say absolutely nobody knows how to party like whores.

On Friday Vignette and I walked around the Quarter while Jae, Matisse & Savannah went to lunch together; I bought another dress from Solomon and some souvenirs from the flea market.  The flight home was just as endurable as the one down, despite even more turbulence, and that, my friends, means I am air-mobile again!  I plan to start limited touring, so if you want me to visit your city and can spring for a plane ticket, just drop me an email and we’ll go from there.  If you can’t afford my travel expenses but would still like to see me, no worries; just keep your eyes on this space, where I’ll announce each trip as soon as I start planning it.

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Anti-prostitution advocates…incorrectly portray the global sex workers’ rights movement as dominated by Western, white, middle-class, cisgender women…as a way of dismissing the movement as “non-representative.”  –  Chi Adanna Mgbako

License to Rape Joseph Stanton

Good riddance to bad rubbish:

Joseph Raymond Stanton…was arrested on June 29…[for] the rapes of two prostitutes and the attempted rape of a third…In each case…Stanton…passed himself off as a…[cop] and lured the victims to his car.  He then drove them to a secluded location and raped them.  One of the women was able to escape before he could [rape] her…Stanton posted bail and was released…the day after his release [cops] found him dead in what appeared to be a suicide…

Do As I Say, Not As I Do 

Remember, cops: raping whores is OK; it’s paying them fairly that isn’t:

Four Montreal police officers who work with informants have been arrested…Fayçal Djelidi…is facing nine charges, including perjury, attempting to obstruct justice, breach of trust by a public officer and obtaining sexual services for consideration…David Chartrand…was charged with two counts of perjury and two counts of attempting to obstruct justice…Two more officers were also arrested and are being questioned by Montreal police…Djelidi…is alleged to have communicated with unknown persons with the aim of procuring sexual services for himself in exchange for payment…

An Example To the West

Chi Adanna Mgbako on sex worker activism in Africa:

…In the past 10 years or so, sex worker activism has exploded throughout Africa, and there are now sex-worker-led organizations in African countries as diverse as Botswana, Cameroon, DRC, Ethiopia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda, and many more.  In Kenya alone, there are now over 80 sex-worker-led collectives.  All of these groups are advocating for their right to work, to access de-stigmatized health care, and to live free from violence and discrimination.  It’s also important to note that outside of formal civil society actors like sex-worker-led NGOs, sex workers informally organize and resist criminalization by supporting each other financially, socially, and emotionally in their local communities.  This informal activism is an indispensable part of movement building…

The Pygmalion Fallacy 

Kate Iselin gets it, though four years after I did:

…The scenario that gives rise to the demand for android sex workers reads like a great big “told you so” fantasy of anyone involved in anti-sex work campaigning…It’s a creepy, shallow rendering of the nightmare portrait of sex work we’re too-often sold:  An industry that we worry dehumanises women can only be saved by, in this case, literally replacing humans with what amounts to an almost-sentient Fleshlight.  The idea that a robot brothel can solve all of our problems is naïve at best, and deeply ignorant at worst.  What assumptions does one need to make about our clients to suggest that they would be just as happy – or happier – penetrating chrome steel instead of receiving the touch of a human?…the “any hole’s a goal” mentality presumed in the [notion] overlooks the vast reasons one may have for seeing a sex worker: loneliness, curiosity, sexual or emotional unfulfilment, desire, the want for a certain skillset, or perhaps simply the need to be touched by a new and unfamiliar pair of hands…Plus, it’s telling – and hurtful – that little to no consideration is given to the skills of the sex worker.  I know myself and the service I provide well, and there is no possible way that the warmth of my body and the skill of my touch could be unnoticably replaced by an android…

Damned If You Don’t

But picket-fence queers say cops aren’t our enemies:

On July 4, police made sweeps and arrests at a gay beach in New York City, much to the surprise of beachgoers.  At the far corner of Jacob Riis Park—a gay beach that has been a notorious LGBT safe haven for decades…police descended unannounced…gay Brooklyn photographer Krys Fox…stood with a towel wrapped around his waist…Suddenly, the towel loosened and dropped.  Before Fox could refasten it around his waist, he was tackled to the ground by a squad of police.  Fox told the Daily Dot that police had dominated the gay beach all day—”on horses, in uniform, undercover”—and were “everywhere.”  But he didn’t expect to be arrested, he said, because he hadn’t done anything wrong…those who…were [there]…noted that police targeted the gay section of the beach specifically, stating that there were no police on the rest of the beach…

Dysphemisms Galore 

It’s kind of refreshing to read an article which portrays us as depraved monsters rather than pathetic victims:

…Police raided a Warsaw [Indiana] massage parlor…next door to Kevin Love’s home.  He said he knew something suspicious was happening for about three years now…The two women were arrested after police found evidence related to prostitution, tax evasion and corrupt business practices.  Love said he often saw two women walking around the neighborhood in the evening…”just like any normal person would get out and go for a walk”…Love…is just relieved it is over.  “There are children on back further in the neighborhood, and they don’t need to be around something like that,” he said…

Bait and Switch

One can always assume there’s a wide gap between what actually happened and what the cops claim happened:

Aren Lindquist…has been sentenced to 25 years at Montana State Prison with 20 years suspended…[he was tricked by a fake] online ad for an escort service called “Barely Legal 18.”  [Cops told] the respondents…that no 18-year-olds were available and they had the option of having sex with a 15-year-old or a 12-year-old…

Another Fine Mess

Reporters never get tired of pretending that ordinary sex work practices are new and novel:

…at least 60 prostitutes from China [are] advertising their services online and operating in condominiums and apartments in Geylang…Instead of relying on pimps and brothel keepers, the women post suggestive photos of themselves and ask those interested to contact them on mobile phones directly.  These freelance prostitutes enter Singapore on tourist visas and typically work for up to one month…

A Procrustean Bed (#440) Judge Paul Herbert

It’s enough to make one vomit:

…These weekly court sessions are the core of a special probation program for victims of sex trafficking in Columbus. [Judge] Herbert started the program—known as CATCH (Changing Attitudes to Change Habits)—in 2009.  Women arrested on prostitution charges in Columbus can opt into this program – where they get safe housing, counseling, and close supervision instead of jail time.  Nearly all are in recovery from addiction.  As he moves through the docket, Herbert calls each defendant by her first name…”He said we’re going to love you until you can love yourself. And…I see something in you that you can’t see yet”…

King of the Hill (#537)

It looks like they’ve scaled back the claims about Charlotte, North Carolina’s “hub” status, maybe because the kids they’re trying to scare with it are smarter than the adults who believe this crap:

Starting this fall, sex trafficking will be addressed in seventh and eighth-grade classrooms across Charlotte…Director of Present Age Ministries Hannah Arrowood [said] “Charlotte is actually the number one city in the state of North Carolina for human trafficking”…Five-hundred new ads are posted soliciting sex in Charlotte every day…many of the women in the ads are not women at all, but rather trafficked teenagers and young girls…forced to have sex with multiple men…

Checklist (#593)

Because there aren’t enough real “victims” to go around, the rescue industry creates fake ones:

Catherine Pisha…is…an actor learning how to portray a [stereotype of a] human trafficking victim.  Pisha works at the University of Vermont’s Clinical Simulation Lab…[and] helps health care professionals improve the quality of their care by being a human guinea pig…Edith Klimoski…writes the scripts for these actors…Studies show that anywhere between 50 percent and 80 percent of human trafficking victims will come in contact with someone in the medical community during the time they’re being trafficked…

The Public Eye (#609)

Laura Lee braves the hostile waters of Mumsnet:

…One of the most infuriating strands to the current feminist discourse around sex work is the assertion that we are abused, or even raped, every time we sell sex.  That statement is injurious and grossly insulting to those who have survived abuse and rape, and it also strips sex workers of our agency.  As much as we campaign for the right to say “yes”, we absolutely reserve the right to say “no”.  I detest the use of the word “empowerment” in any debate on sex work.  My job is no more empowering than anyone else’s; it allows me to support my family and pay my bills.  But as a community, there is no doubt that we are more empowered to say “no” when we are permitted to work together for safety…

Uncommon Sense (#619)

the upcoming German law…will enforce mandatory registration of sex workers nationwide.  The law pretends to fight human trafficking…Forced registration through obligatory counselling includes the evaluation of one’s mental status by a state authority and implies sex workers…are perceived as irresponsible, mentally incapable beings…Our very own whore ID will be a state-issued document including our picture; our profession (that is “prostitute”, as the word “sex worker” is a bit too modern for the German state), our real name and address…In order to get it we will be forced to visit a state body and undergo counselling…You read that right: a functionary will decide in a compulsory talk if you have the marbles in your brain to be a sex worker…

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Diary #315

Desiree 2016So much has happened since the last Desiree Alliance conference three years ago!  Besides returning to full-time work and becoming much better known than I was then, I’ve become very close indeed to a number of the people I first met in person at that conference (take a look at that last link for some names you’ll recognize).  So this will be a very different experience for me than the last one; then, I was just beginning to come into my own as an activist, and nervous about being far from home.  I had absolutely no idea what to expect, and though I hid it well I was very deeply in pain about the dissolution of my marriage (when Matt left me at the conference hotel in Las Vegas, it was to be the last time I’d see him for almost a year, and the third-to-last time I’d see him while we were still technically married).  But this time, I’m going home to New Orleans, accompanied by a number of my friends; I’ll be meeting many people I know online, and I won’t be surprised by being treated like a celebrity.  Grace will be there too, and I’m making time to visit some old friends.  Maybe I’ll even make some new friends, too, though this time I will definitely not be open to any new romantic attachments.  So all in all, I think it’s going to be a blast; I’ll tell you all about it next week!

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Given…that criminalization discourages us from helping, trusting, or even communicating with each other…creating a community of people who reject the stigma surrounding this work is an act of rebellion in itself.  –  Annie Calhoun

The Slave-Whore Fantasy IS slavery app

It’s been a while, so here’s another example of what real sex slavery looks like:

The advertisement on the Telegram app is as chilling as it is incongruous:  A girl for sale is “Virgin. Beautiful. 12 years old…. Her price has reached $12,500 and she will be sold soon.”  The posting in Arabic appeared on an encrypted conversation along with ads for kittens, weapons and tactical gear.  It was shared with the Associated Press by an activist with the minority Yazidi community, whose women and children are being held as sex slaves by the extremists.  While the Islamic State group is losing territory in its self-styled caliphate, it is tightening its grip on the estimated 3,000 women and girls held as sex slaves.  In a fusion of ancient barbaric practices and modern technology, IS sells the women like chattel on smartphone apps and shares databases that contain their photographs and the names of their “owners” to prevent their escape through IS checkpoints.  The fighters are assassinating smugglers who rescue the captives, just as funds to buy the women out of slavery are drying up…

Check Your Premises

I’m not going to expedite cops’ shaming people, but this jewel of self-contradiction was too good to pass up:

…Narcotics Detective Kim Lippincott…says prostitution is a huge issue in Monroe County. She has a message for any “john” paying for sex.  “The sex you are engaging in, the sex you are paying for, may not be as consensual as you think it is”…Detective Lippincott says the three women arrested for prostitution worked independently.  No traffickers were arrested…The Monroe County District Attorney’s Office says the big bust is part of a larger effort to combat human trafficking…

Across the Pond

While Parliament contemplates repealing some of the laws cops use to persecute sex workers, some UK “authorities” are demonstrating how ineffective that will be without full decriminalization:

…[Funding for] Open Doors, a pioneering NHS sex worker support service…has been cut substantially and…National Ugly Mugs (NUM)…has expressed “grave concern for the safety of sex workers in Hackney,” describing the changes as a “seismic shift towards criminalisation … recklessly compromising [sex workers’] safety and ignoring national guidelines.”  Until 2014, Hackney authorities worked in partnership with Open Doors to keep street sex workers out of the criminal justice system…As a result, sex workers had more trust in the police…The picture now is very different. NUM data shows a “startling decrease in the numbers of Hackney sex workers willing to report crimes to the police,” says Alex Feis-Bryce…of NUM…Sex workers are increasingly subject to enforcement by the police and local authorities in the form of dispersal orders, fines and even prosecution…local authorities have asked Open Doors to hand over their clients’ names to an “enforcement panel”…[Georgina] Perry, Open Doors’ manager of 13 years, has announced her resignation…

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (#27)

Another small country stands up to American bullying:

Sudan…criticized being placed by the United States on the blacklist countries involved in human trafficking, saying the report [was] “biased and intentionally distorting [sic]” Sudan’s efforts to combat human trafficking…The report mentioned unverified reports about South Sudanese children sold for agricultural work…[and] accused the Sudanese army of recruiting children aged between 16-17 years…It further said that asylum seekers from African and Arab countries are “highly vulnerable” to sex trafficking and forced labor…Sudanese law enforcement agencies are accused of being involved in this criminal activity…

And other kinds of small jurisdictions, too:

…the government is whole-heartedly rejecting…a recent report from the U.S. Department of State regarding the condition of human trafficking globally.  The report, which gave Macau a serious “Tier 2” rating…was criticized for its “wrongful conclusions” by Secretary for Security Wong Sio Chak…“Findings in the report are not based on fact and involve groundless speculation”…

Against Their Will (#310)

The Philippine government has carried out a weird crusade against “cybersex” since it was criminalized four years ago; some stories cast the sex workers as depraved and some as “victims” or even “children”, so it’s very difficult to discern what the truth might be in a story like this:

A British national was charged…with large-scale human trafficking involving seven women and for having in his possession pornographic materials that he produced and created, with intent to publish and distribute them to online customers…The Prosecutor’s Office also indicted [Wade] Allsopp for cybersex…Two laptops that contained photos of women in different age brackets who were either posing nude or clad in skimpy attires were also found in the scene, along with several sex toys, pieces of lingerie, gadgets, and instruments apparently used for pornography.  The rescued victims…claimed they met Allsopp through Facebook and that he allegedly recruited and offered them a deal where he would assist them in finding foreigner husbands allegedly on the condition that they would submit sexy and nude photos of themselves…[to be] downloaded and viewed in a dating website…

The End of the Beginning

More articles like this, please:

…the sex offender registry…was designed for “sexual predators” who repeatedly preyed on children (at least according to the fears of 1990s policymakers).  The purpose was supposed to be not punishment but prevention.  The theory:  Sexual predators” were unable or unwilling to control their urges, and the government could not do enough to keep them away from children, so the job of avoiding “sexual predators” needed to fall to parents…Twenty years later, the focus on sex crimes has shifted from sexual abuse of children to sexual assault and rape…Yet the…registry is still going strong.  It hasn’t worked as a preventive tool.  Instead, it’s caught up thousands of people in a tightly woven net of legal sanctions and social stigma.  Registered sex offenders are constrained by where, with whom, and how they can live — then further constrained by harassment or shunning from neighbors and prejudice from employers.  Some of the people on the…registry have had their lives ruined for relatively minor or harmless offenses; for example, a statutory rape case in which the victim is a high school grade younger than the offender…

Rubbing Elbows

A nice article on the Desiree Alliance conference, which starts tomorrow in New Orleans, in the local alternative paper:

…This will be the first time the Desiree Alliance convenes in the South…Organizers see the…conference as vital to a region and city with social justice issues that pertain significantly to sex workers.  Local escort Annie Calhoun…[of] SWOP-NOLA…says, “I hope that sex workers of all types from the area are present, and that they see the amazing community of people who are on our side”…What has steadily driven sex workers’ rights before the public eye…is the persistent efforts of sex workers to make their voices heard, their humanity acknowledged and their civil and labor rights honored.  Calhoun believes some of the progress made is, ironically, a response to journalists like New York Times op-ed columnist Nicholas Kristof, “who have built careers on the idea that sex work can be reduced to the idea of big bad men exploiting poor women — a classic evil villain/innocent victim dichotomy”…

Ashley Madison (#571) 

Sweet, sweet schadenfreude:

The parent company of infidelity dating site Ashley Madison, hit by a devastating hack last year, is now the target of a U.S. Federal Trade Commission investigation…the closely held company is spending millions to improve security and looking at payment options that offer more privacy.  But it faces a mountain of problems, including U.S. and Canadian class action lawsuits filed on behalf of customers whose personal information was posted online, and allegations that it used fake profiles to manipulate some customers…An Ernst & Young report…confirmed that Avid used computer programs, dubbed fembots, that impersonated real women, striking up conversations with paying male customers.  Avid shut down the fake profiles in the United States, Canada and Australia in 2014 and by late 2015 in the rest of the world, but some U.S. users had message exchanges with foreign fembots until late in 2015, according to the report…

O, Canada! (#617)

Most of this is the creepy, US-style “sex trafficking hub” bullshit we’ve come to expect from Ontario government, but note this especially nasty little bit of agency-negation:

In many cases of trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation, trafficked persons may develop “trauma bonds” with their traffickers, and may not view themselves as victims.  As such, human trafficking is believed to be a vastly underreported crime.

How convenient; it basically translates to “anybody we claim is a victim is one, regardless of what she says.”

To Molest and Rape rapist cop Tramaine McCray

There’s a short, concise word for “forced to have sex”; funny how reporters can’t seem to remember it when cops are the perpetrators:

[Orange County, Florida sheriff’s deputy] Tramaine McCray was arrested…after a male prostitute said he felt forced to have sex with McCray and feared he would be arrested if he did not…McCray…admitted to having multiple sexual encounters with prostitutes…A second prostitute came forward and said…McCray showed up at his apartment several times and asked for sex, deputies said.  At one point he said McCray said, “I am the police and nobody would believe you over the police.”  During questioning, McCray [admitted to raping]…multiple…male and female prostitutes between March 2014 and June 2015…

The Pro-Rape Coalition (#642) 

Dr. Marty Klein on the recent upsurge in anti-porn hysteria:

Marty Klein likens the current moral panic around online porn to the epidemics of fear and suspicion that sprung up around satanic cults in the 1980s, and even around comic books in the 1950s.  Pornography, he argues, is simply a catalogue of human sexual fantasies, and for most people, those fantasies have very little predictive value when it comes to real desire.  The most crucial thing people can do when it comes to protecting their children, according to Klein, is to inform them that porn is fictional…Klein issued a list of porn literacy checkpoints for parents to go over with their kids that includes emphasizing that most people don’t have bodies like porn performers, that many recurring images in porn…are theatrical devices and don’t reflect what many men and women want from sexual encounters, and that most women don’t want violence or rough play during sex.  But he decried common assumptions that watching pornography leads to sex addiction, or cheating, or degrading and abusive treatment of women…

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Diary #311

It looks like things are getting busy again for me, and probably will be for the next month or so.  I’m going to the Desiree Alliance conference in New Orleans from July 10th to 15th, so if you live in the Big Easy and want to see me professionally you need to speak up pretty soon.  I have a two-day gig this week and a three-day gig the weekend after next, and a bunch of other stuff mixed in between now and early July (including a much-anticipated beauty procedure today).  The interviews also seem to be ramping up again; a couple of weeks ago I talked to a reporter from Michigan for this story, then last week local reporter Sydney Brownstone for this one.  On June 2nd, I appeared on Jeff Richardson’s podcast:

Then on Saturday, I spoke to an ally (who used to be a politician, of all things!) about client criminalization for an article he’s working on for a mainstream publication.  Finally, I’m going to be doing some more filming on the documentary project, and I hope to be doing at least a couple of more photo shoots for the nudes project before the summer is out.  And that’s just the stuff I know about now; if you’ve been reading for a while, you know things can change awfully fast, and for all I know I could be running hot all the way down until autumn.

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Diary #310

666Emboldened by my successful flights to and from Los Angeles, last week I bought our tickets for the Desiree Alliance conference in New Orleans.  But lest you think I’ve become reckless, I must point out that I still took a number of precautions.  First of all, I bought tickets for Jae and Vignette at the same time as mine, ensuring we’ll be on the same flight in case I need to dope myself up more than last time.  Also, I was careful to select nonstop flights both coming and going; unless a flight is unusually rough, the chance of vertigo is highest during takeoff and landing, so one of each is better than two of each.  Also, nonstop flights obviously result in less travel time, which means less risk of my meds wearing off too soon.  I was also careful to select flights with a “very good” rating; less turbulence, less bullshit and less chance of delay are all good things for me.  And as you can see from this screencap Vignette tweeted, the price was probably a good omen; after all, what would one expect when flying to a harlot convention in New Orleans with the Whore of Babylon?  But in all seriousness, I’m really looking forward to the conference; the last time I went to one, I was just beginning to realize how well-known I had become, and I was meeting many people in the flesh for the first time.  But this time, I’m going with a large group of close friends, and it is going to be a total blast, especially since it’ll be the first time I can show those friends some of the sights of my home town.  And that, dear readers, is well worth risking airsickness for.

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