Posts Tagged ‘activism’

Sex worker rights are human rights, and there can never be too many voices speaking up for them, nor too many occasions on which to speak.  –  “Never Too Many

many red umbrellasIt’s that day again:  Friday the 13th, the day on which I ask non-sex workers to speak up for us.  As I’ve explained many times before, there is no possible way we can ever hope to win our rights without the help of allies; since only about 0.3% of the female population are whores at any given time (about 1% over their lifetimes), we simply don’t constitute a large enough voting bloc for politicians to give a damn about us, especially at a time when the popular fad is to pretend that we’re passive victims in need of “rescue” from our own choices.  As I explained two years ago,

…the gay rights movement didn’t really take off until the friends and families of gay people got involved, and…we’re going to need [similar] help to make our voices heard.  We need all the sex workers (such as strippers, dominatrices and porn actresses) whose fields aren’t currently criminalized, and the sugar babies and [others] who have informally or indirectly taken money for sex…We need all of the men who hire us at least occasionally…[and] all of the women who recognize that…laws which can be used to arrest us will also work to arrest you.  We need all of those who love porn, polyamory, BDSM or kink, because even though policing of sex usually starts with harlots, it never stops with us.  We need all of the public health and human rights experts who understand the necessity of decriminalization…all of the libertarians who recognize that governmental prohibition of consensual behavior is both indefensible and dangerous to individual liberty, and all of the feminists who recognize that a woman’s right to control her own body and make her own sexual and economic choices is the  primary feminist issue.  And we need all of the decent human beings who don’t fall into any of those categories, but are simply disgusted by the idea of armed thugs arresting, humiliating and ruining people for the “crime” of consensual sex…

Over the past few years, the number of voices supporting us has grown by leaps and bounds; decriminalization is now supported by every major human rights organization (including Amnesty International), every major health organization (including the WHO), several UN organizations (including UNAIDS), and literally hundreds of other groups concerned with law, labor, women’s rights, individual liberty and many other subjects.  Every academic who has made a methodologically sound and ideology-free study of the subject has reached the same or very similar conclusions, and after the ill-considered raid on the gay escort site Rentboy, even most gay rights organizations and activists have come over to the side of individual rights and self-ownership.  But that’s still not enough; stupidity, ignorance, prudishness, statism, control-freakishness and bigotry run deep in human society, and it will take vast resources and millions of voices to beat those back into the outer darkness where they belong.  We need everyone to speak up for us, not just today but every day; however, today is a start.  Please say something in favor of decriminalization today, either in person or online; if it’s online, link it in a comment below and call it to my attention on Twitter so I can signal boost it.  And if you can do a little more than talk, such as by making a donation to my work or that of a local, national or international sex worker rights organization, today would be a great day to do it!  And when the day at last comes that we win our right to live and work free from state violence, you will know that you helped that happen.

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Diary #280

Sunday was the one-year anniversary of the day I arrived in Seattle by train on the visit that was to change my entire life.  I thought it was just going to be an ordinary, albeit extra-nice, tour stop; I had no idea that I would bond so deeply with my friends here, nor that I would develop such deep feelings for Jae so quickly.  By the time I left I knew I would return for at least a visit; within a few weeks I had decided to relocate.  And before 90 days had passed since my departure, I was back.  But that was no mere change of residence, oh no; those who have followed this diary feature over the past year know what a long, strange trip it’s been.  Where will it take me next?  I have absolutely no idea, and I’ve given up on trying to predict; I can barely even keep on schedule with this blog.  But I’m going to keep on working, and keep on writing, and keep on fighting the good fight, and keep on expanding my horizons, and chronicling the whole thing right here.  And maybe one day, I’ll even figure out what it all means.

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I think I just wasted my time doing all these other jobs before I did sex work.  I should have been doing it a long time before.  –  Mai Jantawhite slave girl

It Looks Good On Paper

Another bullshit story touting bullshit “safe harbor” laws that allow “perfect victims” to expunge their records of prostitution charges after going through the hell that is the US “justice” system:

…states have dramatically changed laws…to distinguish between voluntary prostitution and the trafficking of women and girls…Before the new laws, states primarily dealt with the sex trade by charging sex workers, usually women, with prostitution.  Many of those laws remain on the books, but states are supplementing them with “safe harbor” laws that protect minors—and sometimes adults—who can prove they were coerced into selling sex…

There’s so much wrong in this one short section: the organized crime myth; agency denial; the pretense that only “many” prostitution laws remain (they all do); the pretense that “safe harbor” laws protect anyone; the reversal of the burden of proof…it’s truly staggering that people can’t see this for what it is.

The Punitive Mindset

Authoritarians think people can simply be ordered to be asexual:

…Sexuality in prison is a controversial topic, and the rare studies that explore the subject focus mostly on the impact of conjugal visits or on the same-sex relationships that develop behind bars.  The general consensus, though, is that helping inmates relieve sexual tensions can actually lead to a reduction in violence and prison rape.  Still, many governments around the world have refused to offer prisoners the “privilege” to watch racy content.  French judge Nina Califano, author of Sexualité, Incarcérée (Sexuality, Imprisoned), [says]…”Sexuality is a basic need that doesn’t go away when you are incarcerated”…[she] argues that allowing inmates to cater to their basic sexual needs — through erotic visual stimulation and masturbation — does more than calm inmates who are behind bars; it is also an important part of ensuring [they]…can later be reintegrated into society…

Change a Few Words

All prohibition is the same, so any move away from it affects all types:

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) appeared set to call on governments to end the criminalization of drug use and possession…but in a dramatic turn of events withdrew a briefing paper under pressure from…the U.S. government.  More than 1.5 million drug arrests are made every year in the U.S. – the overwhelming majority for possession only.  Roughly two dozen countries, and dozens of U.S. cities and states, have taken steps toward decriminalization of drug use and possession.  “There is simply no good basis in science, health or ethics for bringing someone into the criminal justice system solely for drug possession,” [said Ethan] Nadelmann [of the Drug Policy Alliance].  “This will hopefully help accelerate the global trend toward ending the criminalization of drugs”…

St. James Infirmary

This fundraiser for the St. James Infirmary met and surpassed its goal in only a few days, but they’re such an important organization that I’m not going to miss giving it a mention and ask that you consider helping out.

Comfort Zone (#320)

Sometimes the attempt to hide migration control behind the “sex trafficking” narrative is especially apparent:

The International Organization for Migration (IOM)…called on governments to more closely monitor sex trafficking and lend specialized assistance to the 1.5 million refugees expected to enter the European Union this year, warning of a surge in sexual assault against women being smuggled across the Mediterranean Sea from West Africa…

Perquisites (#340) 

Dear Dave Zirin: please STFU and stop trying to get free pussy from feminists by parroting their nonsense:

In revelations that the University of Louisville basketball program may have paid a…madam to supply recruits with strippers and sex, the reactions have congregated into two camps: moralizers and cynics.  The moralizers are bleating that this scandal has forever tarnished the innocent joys of amateurism…the cynics…[are] fashionably bored by all of this.  They shrug, saying that these kinds of things happen everywhere…But both of these reactions miss the most urgent issue—the NCAA’s political economy of misogyny…

An Example To the West (#343) Not Drowning - Waving

The writer hasn’t got much of a sense of history; not so long ago, a substantial fraction of the bars in the US were owned by sex workers:

The stereotype of trafficked Asian women exploited by sex tourists means that few people in the west expect Thai sex workers to be at the forefront of a radical push for sex workers’ rights, but…Can Do bar represents just that…it…is the only bar in Thailand, if not the world, that is owned and run by a collective of sex workers, and designed to model exemplary working conditions in the industry…[Liz] Hilton explains.  “One day a group of sex workers here in Chiang Mai said, ‘Actually the government doesn’t get it, nobody understands what we’re talking about, we’re going to have to build it ourselves, we can’t wait anymore.’  And so they pooled their money and raised a million baht [almost $30,000] between them all and created the bar”…

Secret Squirrel (#344)

I’ve written about this issue before, but this is a new low:

Halloween…is a totally subversive day, proving to kids that however much they are supervised the rest of the year, they obviously don’t need it.  They can go out with their friends, roam the neighborhood and have a great time.  So, naturally, this rebellion must be squashed.  Enter…child tracking devices that are pitching parents on the necessity of electronically monitoring their kids’ spoooooooky journey to…the neighbor’s homes. AireLive’s press release promises that its livestreaming capacity will allow “kids to communicate with their parents in real time should any questions arise.  Parents can view the livestream and assess the situation should a teen ever be in need of assistance.”  Nooooooo!  The whole idea is that if “questions” arise, kids should solve them on their own…

Legal Is as Legal Does (#440)

As Leona Hameed once wrote, “Sex work under ‘legalisation’ is still…conceived of as a crime for which the law makes allowances“.

…The ECP and [MSP Jean] Urquhart are campaigning for decriminalisation.  This is not – as has been suggested in countless media reports – legalisation.  Insisting on clarification isn’t petty quibbling.  The models are so distinct that when York Union…changed the title of its debate to “This House believes the legalisation of prostitution would be a disaster”, both sides thought they were arguing in favour of the motion…The York mix-up wasn’t unique.  Since Amnesty released its draft proposal for the decriminalisation of sex work, countless articles have conflated the terms, inaccurately holding up Germany and the Netherlands as examples of “decriminalisation gone wrong”…under legalisation, sex work is controlled by the government and is legal only under certain state-specified conditions.  Decriminalisation involves the removal of all prostitution-specific laws, although sex workers and sex work businesses must still operate within the laws of the land, as must any businesses…

Surplus Women (#550) 

I’m honestly not sure why the writer chose to link this woman’s death those of a serial killer’s victims merely because they happened in the same town:

The body draped over the fence was so bruised and mangled, passerby thought it was a Halloween decoration…Rebecca Cade, a 31-year-old resident of Chillicothe, Ohio…is the seventh Chillicothe woman found dead or missing in the past 16 months—a staggering number for a town of just 21,000 residents.  Then there’s the media coverage of Cade’s murder.  As news spread of the grisly discovery, websites across the nation used Cade’s own mugshot from a previous arrest to illustrate articles about her death—a confusing and ethically murky editorial decision that strikes at the heart of why women like Cade become victims at all…Donnie Couchenuer Jr., 27, was charged with murder and is currently in jail awaiting trial.  But it was Cade’s mugshot that dotted the digital landscape all week long…

Challenge (#559)

California legislators heard from a diverse range of voices about human trafficking and prostitution in America.  The proceedings before the Assembly Public Safety Committee provided a rare chance for people with divergent viewpoints…to come together and have their say.  And then something even more rare happened: some California politicians even seemed to come away with new perspective…Fox News Sacramento reported on the hearing with the headline “Some Suggest Legalizing Prostitution Would Put an End to Sex Trafficking“, noting the “odd mix of legislators, policy wonks, (and) sex workers” in the room…Actually, sex work and human rights advocates tend to focus on decriminalization, not legalization, of prostitution…Nonetheless, the Fox article presents an atypically nuanced perspective on prostitution…It goes on to note that “many adult sex workers say they won’t be able to protect a child, or show her how to stay safe on the streets, for fear of being arrested as a trafficker”…

Innocence Never Had (#574)

Even when authoritarians do something right, they can’t resist warping it into something wrong:

Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell announced Wednesday that his department will immediately stop arresting children on prostitution charges.  “They are child victims and survivors of rape,” McDonnell wrote in a letter to his employees.  “We must remember that children cannot consent to sex under any circumstance.”

No, no, fucking no.  Young adults are not “children”, and the notion that they “cannot” consent is a legal fiction, not a reality.  The article goes on to delineate that these young people will still be coerced into “help” by cops, such as by confining them in the foster care system many of them fled in the first place.  At the end, the story quotes a prohibitionist named Withelma Pettigrew as saying “Labels are a big deal.” I agree, and labeling young adults as “children” and passive “victims” both demeans and infantilizes them.

Celebrities (#580)

The phrase “sanctimonious bullshit” comes to mind:

Dennis Hof is not paying the 2 hookers who cavorted with Lamar Odom at the Love Ranch brothel, because he now believes they may have had something to do with Lamar doing drugs at the facility…The…deal with Hof was to split the $75k Lamar paid — so they were to get $37,500 which they would equally divide.  But now Hof says…”They will not answer questions about Lamar or possible drug use while he was here.  I’m suspicious”…

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When you get into a tight place, and everything goes against you till it seems as if you couldn’t hold on a minute longer, never give up then, for that’s just the place and time that the tide’ll turn.  –  Harriet Beecher Stowe

Olivier as HamletI’ve stated several times recently that I think the sex worker rights movement has finally passed our watershed moment; Amnesty International’s affirmation of decriminalization as the only moral way for governments to relate to sex workers, followed closely by the incredibly tone-deaf fiasco that was the Rentboy raid, has resulted in a dramatic shift in the way the American public views the topic of sex worker rights.  The tide has turned at last, and now the current is flowing away from eroding the human rights of sex workers instead of toward it.  (Yes, I realize that I just mixed my metaphors; so did Shakespeare on occasion.  Deal with it.)  I mean, take a look at this editorial from a student newspaper in Arizona:

…Much of the violence associated with sex trafficking is believed to be made worse by its illegal status because violent people are more likely to prey on sex workers, confident they won’t be reported to police…The legalization of prostitution would take the disputes between clients and workers off the streets and into the courtroom.  Black market sex trade leaves little accountability between either parties involved, but by legitimizing the markets, new processes would be made available to alleviate this problem…after both Germany and New Zealand legalized sex work…the violence against sex workers decreased, workers’ quality of life improved and occupational health and safety laws now protect sex workers…Americans are growing tired of a government that is so involved in the personal decisions of its citizens.  The kind of government that kept same sex marriage from being legalized is a thing of the past, and maybe so is the kind of government that still classifies sex work as illegal.

There are a number of problems and sour notes in the short article (for example, the author seems to believe criminalized US sex workers can’t screen clients or take credit cards), but the general tone is extremely supportive; what makes that even more remarkable is that this was published in Arizona, one of the main sources of “sex trafficking” filth:

…due to the process of group polarization Arizonans seem completely unable to recognize how extreme their beliefs and rhetoric are in comparison with the rest of the country.  When delusional maniacs like Joe Arpaio or John and Cindy McCain start barking at the moon, they do not realize how deranged they sound to others because everyone in Phoenix political circles encourages and applauds their howling.  Dominique Roe-Sepowitz was completely unable to recognize what her creepy statement about “body fluids” and “normal relationships”  sounded like to normal people until it started to be quoted in articles…even then her response was not introspection, but simply refusing to give interviews to anyone other than a religious magazine

But this tide is just beginning to turn, and its outward current isn’t very powerful yet; there are still plenty of vile, nauseating little creatures struggling against it to spread as much shit as possible on the beach.  Consider, for example, this recent piece from the other main hotbed of “sex trafficking” lunacy, Washington state:

…Spokane…passed an ordinance…allowing for [cops to steal] the cars of drivers [accused of] soliciting prostitution…Officials [pretend] the new approach to the age-old problem is already making an impact.  It is hard to say what is more disappointing.  The fact that people still think prostitution is a valid way to earn a living or that there are still johns willing to keep the women in business.  Pastor Kevin Ch’en…said he extends an open door to anyone who wants to be inspired and uplifted – including prostitutes.  “There’s so many stories and so many issues,” he said, “but the biggest problem is always a broken heart.”  To prevent even more heartbreak, Spokane Police took the unique approach of going after the drivers who keep the prostitutes in business…

Bart's PeopleThis sounds like the kind of crap Bart Simpson wrote when he was trying to be a “human interest” reporter.  “Heartbreak”?  Sentence fragments getting all judgy about the way non-reporters earn a living?  Asset seizure a “unique approach”?  Is this guy even for real?  Believe it or not, he actually tried to argue with Matisse and me on Twitter the other night while we were on our way to a rather nice restaurant, but he slunk away pretty quickly; I guess he couldn’t make up his mind whether it was more “disappointing” that we think being beautiful and charming is a valid way to get treated to an expensive steak dinner, or that there was a gentleman willing to pay for it.  Alas, it’s not just fourth-rate local TV reporters who haven’t yet got the memo about prohibition being on the way out; the venerable “leftist” magazine Mother Jones recently published (for pay) propaganda made up by the “right wing” rescue organization Covenant House, proving once again that “left” and “right” are just two wings of the same vulture when there’s money to be made and individual rights to be crushed:

…In a sponsored message sent to Mother Jones readers…Covenant House claimed…that “85% of sex trafficking victims are U.S. citizens—mostly runaway children.”  Eighty-five percent of sex trafficking victims where?  The group doesn’t say, leaving it open to the interpretation that the majority of sex trafficking victims worldwide are American citizens.  That’s a conclusion that may defy common sense, but a lot of people’s only information on sex-trafficking comes via scaremongering legislators, local news, and activist groups…the…claim…that the majority of sex trafficking victims are runaway children…conjures bad guys snatching up 10-year-olds…But the runaway children claim is only true insofar a large number of teens engaged in prostitution…are indeed runaway and/or homeless youth [and only if you accept that 16- and 17-year-olds are “children”].  Multiple recent studies have shown, however, that the majority of these teens…do not have pimps…the…email goes on to state that “over 100,000 American children are forced into prostitution every year,” a claim that has been debunked again and again (look, here’s someone doing it in 2011! Here’s someone doing it in 2014!  Here’s Washington Post doing it last May!  Here’s me doing it last week!)…

Yes, it’s going to be a while before that ebb becomes forceful enough to carry most of the creepy-crawlies out to sea with it.  But in the meantime, please forgive me if I amuse myself by poking at the stragglers with sticks.

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Mainstream feminism rejects sex work as an acceptable choice.  So…I don’t describe myself as an adherent to a political philosophy that wants to eliminate me.  –  Mistress Matisse

Five Women in Whitechapel 

Almost certainly not:

They All Love Jack: Busting the Ripper [is] more than 800 pages in length…Michael Maybrick was a hugely popular singer and composer in the Victorian era, who is virtually forgotten today – for reasons that Robinson believes are no accident…Maybrick was close friends with Sir Arthur Sullivan and the painter Frederick Leighton, among many other prominent public figures.  Both Sullivan and Leighton were Freemasons, as was Michael Maybrick.  He was…on the Supreme Grand Council of Freemasons, whose members also included the Prince of Wales…Maybrick was 47 at the time of the murders; a bachelor and, [author Bruce] Robinson believes, homosexual…

Yes, it’s a new version of the Masonic theory.

Above the Law rapist cop Jeff Sowers

When you’re a cop, rape becomes “official misconduct”:

A [Tennessee cop]…who resigned amid allegations of [raping prisoners]…pleaded guilty…to one count of official misconduct…Judge John Dugger sentenced Jeff Sowers to 18 months in jail…Dugger denied a request by Sowers’ attorneys for judicial diversion, which would have allowed for Sowers’ record to be expunged after his sentence…

The Pygmalion Fallacy

Such a lot of stupid writing on something that not only doesn’t exist, but will never exist in the way and on the timescale these idiots are wanking to the fantasy of:

…a recent report claims intimacy between robots and humans will be more common than that between two people by 2050.  The work, written by futurologist Dr. Ian Pearson, purports that engaging in virtual sex acts will be as prevalent in 2030 as our engagement with porn today, and that the majority of people will own sex toys that employ an alternate reality in some way come 2035…

Storyville (#139)

Over the last 150 years, rights for sex workers have…diminished, according to West Virginia University journalism professor Alison Bass.  In her book Getting Screwed: Sex Workers and the Law…Bass surveys the history of laws regulating prostitution in America and abroad.  In the past and today, Bass finds, sex workers have been marginalized by stigma that portrays them as immoral, dangerous, even diseased figures. B ut while the stigma hasn’t changed, the laws have—in many cases…for the worse…

Dutch Threat

Lawheads are completely unable to comprehend the bottleneck effect:

Entrepreneurs in Amsterdam who want to open a brothel must speak at least one common language with the sex workers they rent space to, according to a…ruling handed down by the European Court of Justice.  The court [claimed] the decision as…a way to guarantee the safety of the women, [reduce] human trafficking, and…help prevent pimping…and [pretended it] was…not discriminatory in any way…the court also noted the Council of State’s notion that the seeming overreach in authority was meant as a protection of public order, and that being able to converse with a sex worker allows a brothel owner the possibility of stopping child prostitution…

Dysphemisms Galore 

Because nobody would care about a headline reading, “Man minds his daughter while mother works”:

A Michigan man held his 9-month-old daughter in a motel room while the baby’s mother had sex with another man for money…Derohn Wilburn…is charged with…felony promoting prostitution and misdemeanor child endangering…Melissa Coleman…is charged with misdemeanor child endangering and prostitution…police released the baby to a family member.  She was unharmed…

Played Out

I don’t know who Robert Fullinwider is, but I thank him for taking the time to read through Moran’s drek so as to be able to rip it to shreds:

…Moran is not content to offer her particular life-story…She also sets herself up as the Universal Prostitute, a woman whose experiences define prostitution and trump the “experiences” of anyone else — sex worker, academic, or otherwise — who views prostitution differently than she does. She is not content to let her story speak for itself but instructs the reader on the proper conclusions to draw, and engages in arguments based on her experiences and “research”…Moran writes: prostitutes are “coerced” into prostitution (pp. 49, 227); they have no “choice” (p. 161); they have no “free will” (p. 201); they act out of “desperation” and “destitution” (pp. 43, 96)…Moran…[claims] she didn’t consent to prostitution because “it is not possible to consent to a lifestyle you don’t comprehend” (p. 50).  Yes it is.  People do it all the time.  “I didn’t know marriage was going to be like this!”  “I didn’t know how stressful being a parent would be!”  “I didn’t know military life would be this tough!”  [She claims] she didn’t consent to prostitution because she wasn’t an adult and children can’t consent (pp. 50-51).  Yes they can.  Society frames laws that say people below certain ages can’t “consent” – to contracts, to mortgages, to sexual relations, and the like – but the “no consent” here is a legal fiction…a sixteen year-old girl who finds prostitution utterly repulsive, revolting, and disgusting, and who is “desperate to escape,” yet who passes up on an opportunity to get out of the trade because she’s unwilling to be bound by any rules, is a person who’s made a choice— a bad choice, to be sure, but a real choice…Moran…speaks of allowing herself to be coerced (an odd locution) into prostitution by her boyfriend.  What did her boyfriend do?  Did he beat her?  Did he threaten her?  No, he “suggested” that she turn tricks; he “encouraged” her (pp. 47, 186)…Moran seems to think you haven’t acted freely unless you are as happy as a lark with what you’ve chosen (p. 227); that you are not self-determining unless you are “controlling the totality of your life” (p. 175).  These are just fundamentally unserious engagements with the notions of freedom and self-determination.  We always act under constraints, we never control the totality of our lives, and we are often unhappy with what we’ve chosen, just less unhappy than with the alternatives…

Rooted in Racism (#429)

Sweden’s “liberal reputation” is bullshit:

…a recent report by the United Nations…concludes that a rising level of racist violence and “Afrophobic” hate crimes in Sweden are “an extensive social problem”.  “There continues to be a general Swedish self-perception of being a tolerant and humane society, which makes it difficult to accept that there could be structural and institutional racism faced by people of African descent,” says the report…The country’s official [lie] of equality and respect for human rights “blinds” it to the racism faced by African-Swedes, it says.  Hate crimes against the 200,000 or so black people…in Sweden increased by more than 40% between 2008 and 2014…with more than a fifth of incidents last year involving violence…

On the Simultaneous Having and Eating of Cake (#505)

On Working It, the magazine at the center of the stripper labor rights movement in Portland:

…Each magazine brings together about 50 pages of writing and art by sex workers from around the country.  In addition to permanent sections including “Client Hall of Shame” “Best/Worst Tip$” “Tales from your Shift” and art, each volume of Working It has a theme…After Danzine went dormant, [Matilda] Bickers and Portland’s sex worker activism also went relatively dormant.  [SWOP] took over Danzine’s bad date list.  In 2005, Bickers and her friends tried to start a dancer union — “but that failed miserably, and I was really burnt out for a while,” Bickers says.  In the following years, Bickers worked at strip clubs and…graduated from Portland State University.  “I kind of never stopped doing sex worker activism,” Bickers says…

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic (#550)

The history of the concept of sex addiction is a complex, somewhat contentious one…I’ve often cited the concept back to the initial writings of Patrick Carnes…Now, three New Zealand historians have contributed a wealth of astounding, rich and often surprising information to the issue…Sex Addiction, A Critical History…represents a remarkable detailing of the troubling, often hidden, history of this concept…Reay and his coauthors found powerful writings by Hatterer from the 1960’s and 70’s, where he blamed a sexually addictive process for sexual excesses. Powerfully, they detail [Dr. Lawrence] Hatterer’s disturbing history of treating homosexuality as an illness, and the way he treated homosexuality “like an alcoholic”…in his writings…from its inception, the concept of sex addiction has been applied to treatment of homosexuality as an illness…

If You Want Something Done Right…

I have the most awesome friends:

…Mistress Matisse…heard about Heather’s experience and was determined to help.  Through other sex workers she tracked Heather down, called her and booked a flight to West Virginia.  She showed up at Heather’s door…organized fund-raising, lined up medical assistance and connected Heather with nonprofit help.  This isn’t a new role for Matisse.  She’s worked as a sex worker in various capacities since she was 19.  But as she’s gotten established in Seattle, she says, “I have gotten to the point in my career where it is in many ways self-sustaining.”  As a result, she’s had more time to devote to activism.  Matisse was there to help Heather because she’s made it her business to help sex workers who are in crises.  I talked to Matisse about her activism, her work with Heather and why sex workers are the best ones to help sex workers…

Amnesty At Last

Here’s an NPR show which purports to present a “discussion” of the Amnesty International position statement on decriminalization, but which was designed from the get-go to promote prohibitionist propaganda by stacking the panel three to one (Swanee Hunt, Rachel Moran and Andrea Powell) vs. Maxine Doogan.  Unfortunately for the antis, Maxine had logic and facts on her side and acquitted herself quite well.  What you won’t hear:  Sol Finer of SWOP-Seattle called into the live show and Moran absolutely lost her mind, screaming and shouting at Sol in such a clearly unbalanced manner that the tirade was edited out of the archived version of the show.  So much for NPR’s commitment to the truth.

New Excuse (#576)

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It’s basically a vice-squad operation writ large over the entire nation and imbued with overstated moral urgency.  –  Elizabeth Nolan Brown

R.I.P. Candida Royalle Candida Royalle

Former porn star Candida Royalle, regarded as a pioneer for her work in front of and behind the camera, has died after battling ovarian cancer.  She was 64.  The actress — whose [legal] name [was] Candice Vadala — performed in more than two dozen adult films, but was best known for her work as a director… “Everyone assumes I was probably given a hard time by the adult film biz but they always treated me fairly, even if they at first doubted me,” she explained on her website.  “They’ve come to respect that I was the first one with vision and recognition of what would become the ‘couples’ market”…

A Load of Farley

Farley’s going to keep hawking this same snake oil until she croaks:

Last week, research making the media rounds declared that men who pay for sex are more sexually aggressive, pathologically masculine, and likely to commit sexual assault than other men…this study—led by noted anti-sex work activist Melissa Farley and funded by a group which aims to “eliminate” prostitution—comes with a host of important caveats before taking too seriously its purported conclusions…all participants live in Boston…The kind of people likely to be trolling newspapers and Craigslist for gigs and to be enticed to talk about their sex lives for cash may also differ in significant ways from the general male population…The claim that men who pay for sex are more likely to commit sexual violence is based not on their criminal pasts but on their answers to a number of personality questions and hypotheticals…on a 34-item questionnaire…it’s a stretch to say they’re “more likely to commit rape” and not at all the same as saying they have “a dark history of violence against women”…Farley has a long history of publishing research that casts prostitution in a negative light, frequently speaks about prostitution’s perceived ills, and has run an anti-prostitution advocacy group…for the better part of the past two decades. Its goal is “to abolish the institution of prostitution.”  The research was funded by a group with a mission to eliminate “men’s assumption of the right to prostitution” [and]…study authors thanked famous anti-pornography activist Catherine MacKinnon for her “invaluable” and “critical feedback regarding the summary and interpretation of these findings.”  In promoting this study, Farley casually calls strip clubs hubs of child sex trafficking and says things like, “We hope this research will lead to a rejection of the myth that sex buyers are simply sexually frustrated nice guys”…

Monkey Business

They’re on their way

In April, a chimp in The Netherlands took down a drone being used to film the Burgers’ Zoo…researchers now say the video shows that the chimp planned out its actions in advance.  The drone had already flown by in a practice run, at which time it caught the attention of several chimps in the enclosure…And when it came back, they were ready:  Two females sat where the drone was going to hover, holding long twigs…their faces show exertion, but not fear — indicating that they were acting deliberately, and not flailing around in terror at the foreign object…

Sold Out 

The modern LGBT rights movement has been veering toward conservatism for some time, evidenced by its primary and overarching mission to finally achieve Marriage Equality…a civil rights movement which once championed our right to sexual liberation and a declaration of our right to be “different”…essentially withered into a call for assimilation…Promiscuity, probably the most common of vilified behaviors, is regularly regarded not as an individual’s command of their own sexual agency but instead an expression of their lack of self respect or sense of self worth, as something pitiable and damning.  Likewise sex work…is a shameful and exploitative act…blanket generalizations of “right” and “wrong” rule the discourse…

The Missing Word

I know I’ve written about this before, but I can’t find it:

A Pennsylvania judge convicted of sending young kids to juvenile detention centers in return for cash has been sentenced to 28 years in prison…Mark Ciavarella Jr. was convicted of taking up to $1 million in bribes from developers of juvenile detention centers in…Pennsylvania.  The disgraced judge became known for doling out harsh sentences for small, petty crimes in order to receive payment for each kid sent…

Crying for Nanny (#539)

“Induce sex trafficking”? That’s some serious bullshit there:

…Washington’s Supreme Court has refused to dismiss a lawsuit against [Backpage] by three minors who say they were raped by adults who responded to ads on the site.  The ruling is at odds with other decisions that have held Backpage, Craigslist and other sites are immune from civil lawsuits based on crimes by users…Backpage asked for the lawsuit to be dismissed at an early stage, arguing that the federal Communications Decency Act immunizes Web services companies from liability for acts by users.  But the Washington Supreme Court ruled that the Communications Decency Act doesn’t protect Web sites that “develop” objectionable content, as opposed to sites that merely “host” the content…”It is important to ascertain whether in fact Backpage designed its posting rules to induce sex trafficking,” Judge Steven Charles Gonzalez wrote for the majority…

Shifting the Blame (#553)

Nobody ever sold sex before Backpage!

…Backpage.com…now turns up in countless police reports…sex workers and those who exploit them for profit increasingly turn to the Internet to facilitate their activity…Research suggests many sex workers enter the trade as teenagers…and more than one third have had abusive or violent clients…The danger inherent in the trade was highlighted on July 2 when…34-year-old…Sanisha Johnson was…robbed and murdered by two Massachusetts men who arranged to meet her on Backpage…

Ashley Madison (#557) escorts-ca

Surprising no one:

Avid Life Media, the…parent company of…Ashley Madison, secretly operated an online escort service, recently leaked documents reveal.  The company was allegedly actively recruiting escorts for a separate “dating” website that was aimed at “sugar daddies”…escorts.ca…is similar to other online directories for escort services which have triggered anti-prostitution raids by US law enforcement authorities.  The website was reportedly leased though a shell company called Pernimus Limited…

Amnesty At Last

Kari Lerum on the Amnesty declaration:

…While celebrities typically capture more attention than scientists, Amnesty listened to the latter.  After two years of consulting with global health and human rights researchers as well as sex workers and victims of human trafficking, the largest and arguably most respected human rights organization in the world made its game-changing declaration.  Amnesty International will now develop policy on nation-states’ ethical obligation to decriminalize sex work…Immediately following the vote, CATW issued a press release declaring that Amnesty International…“deliberately excluded the voices and expertise of survivor-leaders and women’s rights organizations”…given the rigorous and prestigious research cited by Amnesty, in combination with a dearth of medical and academic researchers affiliated with either CATW’s board of directors or petition, this particular accusation may ring hollow…

Vendetta (#569)

The differences between the way this is covered by badge-lickers:

A coalition of dozens of law enforcement agencies arrested more than 1,000 pimps and sex buyers in a summer-long series of prostitution stings…known as the National Johns Suppression Initiative…A total of 39 law enforcement agencies across 18 states arrested 961 men trying to buy sex and 71 pimps or traffickers…Sheriff [Tom] Dart [said]…“These women and girls have been brutalized and exploited – and the most effective way to deter these heinous crimes is to target the demand.”  The Cook County Sheriff’s office has repeatedly attacked Backpage.com as a haven for pimps and traffickers…occasionally, officers encountered children while carrying out the stings…

…and the way it’s covered by rational people is both striking and instructive:

Every summer, police and prosecutors from around the country come together…to saddle men with criminal records for attempted sex…the months-long effort…turned up fewer than 75 individuals suspected of anything tangentially related to sex trafficking (including “pimping”, pandering or “promoting prostitution”).  But police were able to arrest nearly 1,000 men who indicated they might like to pay adult women for sex, along with an untold number of sex workers themselves…This summer’s Johns Initiative will net law enforcement a minimum of $189,170 in fines for the solicitation arrests alone…Dart claims they uncovered 308 sex-trafficking victims, including 258 adults and 50 minors.  But it’s hard to say what this really means, since all minors engaged in sex work are labeled de facto victims by police…and many police departments have started classifying sex workers of any age as trafficking victims—at least for public-relations purposes.  After the press releases come out, however, these adult and teen sex workers are all-too-often arrested if they refuse to cooperate with cops, and sometimes even if they do.  Pittsburgh’s Detective Ryczaj said arresting sex workers is “the kindest thing you can do for them,” because he thinks they’re mostly homeless, drug addicts, or mentally ill…

Little Boxes (#569)

A 46-year-old…from Charleston, South Carolina was arrested…after allegedly assaulting two women who pose painted and topless for tips in Times Square…Mark Walters took a picture with…20-year-old [Lourdes Carrasquillo]…then “became irate,” and “dragged” the woman to the ground by her hair. When…32-year-old [Maria Ruiz] attempted to break up the “fight,” Walters allegedly hit her in the right ear…Walters accused Carrasquillo of stealing his wallet before assaulting her, although cops have found no evidence to support this claim…in an unrelated incident, undercover officers arrested a desnuda [named Destiny Romero] after she allegedly agreed to perform oral sex on an undercover officer for money…

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Whore Nation

When I was on the way out to stay with Jae, and in the first few days afterward, I had (as you can imagine) many practical concerns in addition to the ones about Jae’s health.  One of these, naturally, was money; supporting myself was only the beginning of that, because obviously my ongoing bills wouldn’t patiently await my return. But the city we’re in is small, and I no longer have an alternate work persona; if I advertised it would be announcing our location, ans I didn’t want to do that.  I mentioned my dilemma to Mistress Matisse, and she had an answer: “Don’t even try to work right now; you just concentrate on Jae.  The whore nation will provide for you.”

Babylon the WhoreI knew exactly what she meant.  Though we’re a long way behind our sisters in other countries, especially those in the Global South, American sex workers are at long last beginning to come together as a force to be reckoned with.   With our constitutional right to assemble ignored in most places (gatherings of sex workers can, and sometimes have been, raided and the participants charged with “conspiracy to commit prostitution” or “communicating for the purpose of prostitution”) and our activities spied on by the police, it was historically very difficult for pre-internet American sex workers to organize.  But social media changed all that; escort message boards, blogs and Twitter (especially the latter) have allowed whores to talk, plan, and organize collective effort.  Hashtag campaigns like #whenantisattack#notyourrescueproject and #rightsnotrescue attracted so much attention outside the demimonde that they were even covered in mainstream media, and we began to use our collective efforts to shut down prohibitionist evils and opportunistic exploiters alike.  But it was in the past year that the American whore nation has really come into its own: while SWOP chapters have sprung up like mushrooms and we’ve steadily won new allies, we’ve also expanded our ability to shut down dangerous “trafficking” rubbish that feeds on whores while amplifying the narrative that endangers us all.  Meanwhile, Amnesty International’s announcement of its support for decriminalization and the ill-considered federal raid on Rentboy have brought would-be allies out of the woodwork in startling numbers; the power of the Whore Nation is growing, and ESPLERP’s lawsuit could open a breach in the enemy’s defenses through which our forces could pour.  It is inevitable that we will win, and gain the same rights as anyone else, and once we do this time period will be the one our historians view as the turning point.

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