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Posts Tagged ‘Agony Aunt’

I don’t really like to criticize other high-profile sex workers, but Buzzfeed has given the porn performer Stoya an advice column, and bluntly speaking, a lot of her advice is just plain badI criticized one of her responses before, in a column back in February, but the advice she gave that time wasn’t nearly as bad as the advice in this column from April 30th, which if followed is very likely to destroy the questioner’s marriage. Since most porn performers have done at least some escorting, I presume Stoya isn’t completely ignorant of that type of sex work, so I can’t fathom how she completely missed the bus here.  This is an edited version of the reader’s question:

My wife and I stopped having sex regularly after our kids were born.  It dwindled from almost daily sex to maybe once a month…We…tried therapy, but…she would get angry if I suggested sex and would say she found my sexual “neediness” unattractive.  I love my wife and the last thing I wanted to do was push her, so I stopped trying and decided to take care of my needs through masturbation, but she caught me once and said she found it pathetic.  About a year ago…I tried to open up a discussion about our missing sexual life but was quickly shut down.  “That part of my life is over” was my wife’s response.  She’s 41…One day, I went to a massage parlor…there was something so healing about human touch.  Since then, I’ve been to several…and…I’ve found a few regular spots that are friendly and well-run…The women I see are thoughtful, funny, and empathetic about sex and men’s bodies’ needs…While I still desire my wife, I don’t feel the need to press and annoy her, and I understand that part of her life might be over.  (It’s been six years since we even kissed.)  The thing I fear the most is that the image of my wife, of her body, is being replaced by the images of these other women, with these massage ladies fill a gaping hole in my life.  Should I stop?

And here are the parts of Stoya’s answer which caused me to think “What the fuck?”

…to be on the ethical side of things, you would need to at least float the idea of opening things up with your wife.  Ideally your wife would know about and be OK with—or even approve of—your behavior, but her shaming reaction to finding you masturbating leads me to suspect she’d be very upset, so brace yourself for a less-than-enthused response.  Your wife sounds closed off to communication about sex in general, and I agree a life without sex doesn’t sound healthy for you at least, so you’d likely both benefit from a professional third party to help along any future discussion…

No, no, no, FUCK no.  I have no idea what she was smoking when she wrote that, but it’s a recipe for disaster.  This is a woman who shamed and ridiculed her own husband for masturbating after she unceremoniously cut him off; how could anyone who has lived among adult humans for more than a few months believe that asking such a narcissistic, controlling, authoritarian prude for an open arrangement would result in anything but a catastrophe?  Women who are mature enough to accept “open” relationships do not go around calling their husbands “pathetic”, “unattractive” and “needy” for having a sex drive in their forties.  And asking a selfish, judgy, sexually-immature woman for an open relationship is going to be about as productive as throwing a stick of dynamite into a cesspool.  If she doesn’t immediately demand a divorce (which might very well happen), she’s going to A) subject her husband to more ridicule and abuse; and B) become suspicious and start watching his every move to detect “infidelity”.  If this dude had written me I’d have given him the same advice I give every husband in a similar situation:  find a discreet sex worker you like and trust, keep your damned mouth shut about the subject, and just be satisfied with whatever aspects of your married life have caused you to stay married to someone who, from where I’m sitting, doesn’t seem to give a shit about you.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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Now is the moment for celebrities to give up the fantasy of saving “Jane Doe” and do the hard work of seeing and listening to people in the sex trades as fully formed, complex individuals who have actual names.  –  Alana Massey

Here We Go Again 

Here’s an interesting biography of Anthony Comstock, the deeply-deranged, self-loathing pervert behind the previous American crusade against “obscenity” and “pornography”.  Given that we’re currently deeply immersed in a very similar crusade (though driven this time by many pathological prudes rather than one), this two-year-old article might offer some insights which could prove useful…though I think it’s fascinating how moderns writing about such things (another example is “white slavery” hysteria) in smug or condemnatory tones never seem able to connect the Victorian campaigns to their modern counterparts.

Wise Investment 

Everyone harmed by prostitution laws needs to keep suing over them:

SWARM and ECP congratulate the three [UK] women who last week won in court the right not to reveal their criminal convictions for prostitution to prospective employers.  The women have multiple convictions for soliciting or loitering under the Street Offences Act, and their records will be amended to filter out these convictions…ECP and SWARM …[insist] that criminal records for prostitution should be fully expunged.  Under [this] court ruling the police will still have access to the information that someone has been convicted for soliciting…

Wise Investment (#428)

Evil laws and policies cause tremendous harm; here’s what happens when they’re repealed:

Increasing understanding of the mistakes of the past—and the violent impacts of taking action based on moral or ideological assumptions about sex workers and their lives—has changed the way sex work is viewed and monitored in Vancouver…police created a sex work enforcement guidelines policy, which clearly stated that adult consensual sex work would no longer be a priority…The City of Vancouver also adopted a policy of non-enforcement through their sex work response guidelines, which states explicitly that sex work is not a bylaw violation…The net result…has been de facto decriminalization of sex work in the city of Vancouver…Not only are crimes against sex workers being reported more often…but…there have been no murders of sex workers in Vancouver since 2009…

The Puritan Recrudescence

Though the silly notion that ejaculation saps a man’s vitality is a very old one, the even sillier “porn as abuse” belief is of recent vintage:

The [manager of the] Kansas City Royals [forced players to attend] a [propaganda session] for minor-league players…[organized by] anti-porn group “Fight the New Drug“…[which pretends] it is not religiously affiliated…general manager Dayton Moore is [obsessed with] the issue, and [though] the [supposed] goal is for players to be zeroed in on their performance for games…Moore [has in the past vomited out a lot of nonsense to reporters such as]…“pornography…what that does to the minds of players and the distractions, and how that leads to…abuse of women”…

The notion that healthy, physically-active young men can simply be ordered to be asexual was first imposed on the military by politicians, but now appears to be spreading.

Agony Aunt (#666) 

“Dear Prudence” gives good advice to a gay man whose lover has a sugar mama:

You don’t seem to have much of an issue with the arrangement qua arrangement if you’ve met her several times, enjoyed her company, and taken money from her yourself.  Your jealousy isn’t centered around the connection your boyfriend shares with his patron; it’s that his job requires significant emotional and romantic output on his part, and you want to make some space in your relationship where the two of you connect on a romantic rather than a merely domestic level…it’s very much worth talking about, especially if you make it clear that you’re not trying to discourage him from continuing with his patronage and that you support his work…

Pyrrhic Victory (#691) 

When it comes to mass surveillance, fascism beats communism hands down:

After the prosecution of a California doctor revealed the FBI’s ties to a Best Buy Geek Squad computer repair facility in Kentucky, new documents released to EFF show that the relationship goes back years.  The records also confirm that the FBI has paid Geek Squad employees as informants…The relationship potentially circumvents computer owners’ Fourth Amendment rights.  The documents…show that Best Buy officials have enjoyed a particularly close relationship with the agency for at least 10 years…Geek Squad employees were financially rewarded for finding child pornography.  Such a bounty would likely encourage Geek Squad employees to actively sweep for suspicious content…

Elephant in the Parlor (#815)  

Powerful men never learn that whores aren’t afraid of them:

…Trump’s lawyer is trying to silence adult-film star Stormy Daniels, obtaining a secret restraining order in a private arbitration proceeding and warning that she will face penalties if she publicly discusses a relationship with the president…The new pressure on Daniels…comes a day after she filed a lawsuit in a Los Angeles court alleging that a nondisclosure agreement she made to keep quiet about an “intimate” relationship with Trump is invalid because he never signed it…[the] lawsuit says that Trump attorney Michael Cohen — who brokered the agreement…during the presidential campaign — attempted to “intimidate” [Daniels] and “shut her up” by initiating what it calls a “bogus arbitration proceeding” against her in Los Angeles on Feb. 27…

The Mote and the Beam (#818)

Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Teen Vogue and now Allure…it’s so heartening to see so many women’s fashion & beauty magazines recognizing that they owe their very existence to whores, and speaking up:

…FOSTA…[and] SESTA …target websites…that enable people in the sex trades to do their work safely and independently…[in a celeb-heavy PSA with Seth Meyers, Amy Schumer, and others] Schumer calls [Section 230] a “stupid loophole” [in the Communications  Decency Act]…Both those in the sex trade and those with any understanding of free online expression consider this so-called “stupid loophole” a “core pillar of Internet freedom” and the “most important law in Internet history.” The bills that would alter it have been roundly condemned by advocates for trafficking victims and survivors of trafficking, as well as by those willingly in the industry who would be at greater risk for exploitation in the absence of online platforms that allow them to share information…the PSA [is]…based [on]…the premise…that right this second and in your own hometown, it is totally possible to go online and buy a child for sexual slavery — that it’s “as easy as ordering a pizza,” according to Schumer.  I put this claim to the test…via a set of searches on Backpage that have likely landed me on an FBI watch list.  Not one lousy “kid”, “minor”, “teen”, or “child” was available for purchase.  Meanwhile, Domino’s is at my house within 21 minutes of me placing an order…It is almost as if perpetrators of human trafficking aren’t really all that likely to advertise using photos of shackled minors…

Morality Lessons (#819) 

Moral panic + censorship = profit:

Rhode Island has joined a host of other states in considering an irrational measure to regulate online porn by charging consumers a $20 access fee.  But the Rhode Island bill actually beats others like it in terrible and unconstitutional requirements…the Rhode Island bill wouldn’t just block overtly sexual content but anything deemed “patently offensive,” too–even though there’s no clear definition of this term…It would also require devices to automatically block “any hub that facilitates prostitution”—again, not a legal or well-defined category of content…device makers would also have to “ensure that all child pornography and revenge pornography is inaccessible” on their products…If it were that easy to stop the spread of child porn, companies would be doing it already…

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Just Say No started with drugs, then spread to sex education.  It didn’t work effectively in either setting.  –  David Ley

It Looks Good On Paper

As I’ve explained many times, “safe harbor” laws are nothing but Potemkin villages, empty legal husks designed to please the ignorant while actually sparing nobody from the injustice system:  “Lawmakers [pretending] to help children escape prostitution are advancing a bill to decriminalize the act for minors…SB1322…would…allow them to be taken into temporary custody…to keep [them] away from pimps…”  Translations: “Children” = young adults.  “Temporary custody” = indefinite imprisonment; all prison sentences other than death or life without parole are “temporary”.

Legal Is as Legal Does 

This is not decriminalization & isn’t “similar” to it; this is legalization & protectionism, and they’re not going to like it if they get it:

Sex workers in Kazakhstan want to make the world’s oldest profession a legal trade…an open letter signed by 597…sex workers…called for the legalization of prostitution and its regulation by the state…the sex workers argued that legalization would better protect them from potential harassment and harm done by customers and pimps…state regulation would better protect Kazakhstani prostitutes from competition on the part of migrant sex workers from…Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine…taxation of the commercial sex trade could contribute a tidy sum to…government coffers at a time when state revenue streams in other areas…are declining.  The positions…are similar to those advocated by…Amnesty International…

Above the Law  Harry Morel

It always pleases me to see a political name I know in front of the verb “sentenced” or “convicted”:

Harry Morel Jr., the former St. Charles Parish district attorney who pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice during a sex investigation, was sentenced…to three years in prison — the most allowed by law.  The…judge…also fined Morel $20,000, well short of the maximum of $250,000, and ordered him to serve a year of probation after his release from prison.  Morel was St. Charles’ top prosecutor for 33 years.  He admitted his guilt in April after a three-year federal inquiry into whether he solicited sexual favors from women in exchange for help on cases pending in Louisiana’s 29th Judicial District Court.  Authorities labeled Morel a “sexual predator” and said his pattern of misconduct in office spanned 20 years and included at least 20 women.  Although not charged with trading sex for official help, Morel admitted [it] as part of his plea bargain agreement…in May, the Louisiana Supreme Court stripped Morel of his law license, barring him from practice for life…

The Immunity Syndrome (#21)

For decades, the majority of sex education provided to adolescents in the US has focused on encouraging young people to refrain from sex.  Our country has taken the approach that it is young people’s moral obligation to not engage in sex until they are adults…Even programs that aren’t “abstinence-only” typically promote abstinence as the best strategy…In July 2016, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended to its nationwide membership, that they must educate children and teens about sex.  They joined countless other groups of experts, physicians, and educators, all of whom oppose abstinence-based education…[which] puts these teens at great risk for sexual problems, and increased chances of unsafe sex…

Under Every Bed

This woman is so puffed up, I think she’d pop if one stuck her with a pin:

Nita Belles, who founded…In Our Backyard…[bloviated]  “It has long been known that Central Oregon is a recruiting ground.  Traffickers…find this a good place to find and groom trusting young people — and then after they have been “turned out” they are usually taken out of the area to be trafficked in what is called the circuit…Central Oregon is a place where traffickers can get more money for their victims because we are a small town…Additionally, we have a lot of conventions, vacations and other gatherings here…victims become traumatically bonded to the trafficker, something like the ‘Stockholm Syndrome’…traffickers take pictures while stalking their victim’s family and when a victim indicates she is unhappy, her trafficker responds ‘Here is a picture I took of your little sister last week, she gets out of school at 2:40 p.m. and I will be there to pick her up tomorrow if you don’t do what I tell you’…I have known of cases where traffickers have burnt down their victim’s family’s home just to prove to their victims that they will do anything to keep them under their control”…

Do sane people actually, genuinely believe this ridiculous, completely unsubstantiated nonsense?  This is literally pure fantasy.

Agony Aunt

“Dear Prudence” calls a reader on her whorephobia:

I am trying to imagine why, if you had a suspicion that your sister was molesting your son, you did not ask more questions of her immediately.  Her past work as a dominatrix has nothing to do with your current situation, although it sounds like at least part of you believes that if she was willing to tie up adult, consenting men for a living she’d be equally willing to abuse a prepubescent child, which is a horrific false equivalence.  Set aside your assumptions about her former employment…

Banishment (#434)

Ignoring for a moment the moronic modifier “very”, this situation is not even close to “unique”:

It as “a very unique” situation, Union County [Pennsylvania] District Attorney D. Peter Johnson says about a…man who has been [held illegally in]…jail because he can’t get an approved housing plan…a Commonwealth Court panel [has now] vacated his most recent sentence.  Since 2002 [Samuel] Grove has been in jail for all but two days serving a sentence of four to eight years followed by 12 years of probation…He completed his prison sentence in 2011 but has been charged three times since with violating his probation by not having an approved home plan…The third time…expired on May 29, 2015.  The prosecution immediately again accused Grove of violating his probation by not having an approved home plan…[but when that was proven untrue the prosecutor immediately] accused [Grove] of violating his supervision [by] not obtaining sex offender treatment [and a judge played along by sentencing him]…to…86 months in jail…The state court panel vacated that sentence, saying…none of the sentencing orders required Grove to undergo sex offender treatment during imprisonment…

Follow the title link for earlier examples of “sex offenders” being imprisoned indefinitely by similar state shenanigans.

Another Fine Mess

OMG, WHORES KNOW HOW TO USE PHONES!!!!!!!

…many…fresh-faced high school girls in Hong Kong…[use] online forums to run [their] own [businesses] as…“compensated daters”…without the help of a middleman…it’s common for one girl to find an ad she likes, and then copy it—with just minor adjustments…there are some 2,500 compensated daters in the city…police have been slow to catch on to these girls now that they’ve taken refuge online…So long as they’re not soliciting clients in public spaces, they’re not breaking the law in Hong Kong…

Now They Notice

I really wish this were going to trial, but because the government stole all of the company’s money it had nothing to pay for a legal defense with:

The former chief executive of…Rentboy.com is finalizing a plea agreement after his indictment for promoting prostitution…lawyers for Jeffrey Hurant…asked that a plea hearing be scheduled for the week of Aug. 29…The case prompted criticism from some gay rights activists and sex worker rights groups, who questioned why prosecutors were targeting the service after it had operated transparently for nearly two decades…Following the criticism, federal prosecutors in February dropped charges against the six Rentboy employees.  But they continued to prosecute Hurant and the company itself…

To Molest and Rape rapist cop David Wright

A shining example of the ethics of “law enforcement officers”:

An Illinois [cop] who raped a…girl…to testify in court in order to torment her one last time before he entered a guilty plea…David Wright…pleaded guilty to repeatedly raping the unnamed girl for 10 years, beginning when she was only 7 years old.  Wright was arrested in 2015, but continued to collect paychecks…right up until he entered his…plea.  He was charged with 33 felonies that carried a combined minimum prison sentence of 143 years and a maximum of 648 years…[but] was allowed to enter into a plea deal where he will have the chance for parole in less than 20 years…Wright first raped the girl in the bathroom at a children’s party, telling her, “This is gonna hurt” before the assault…in November of 2005…in April of 2015…the victim finally overcame her fear and reported the abuse.  Up to that point, she told prosecutors, she’d been afraid she would cost Wright his livelihood…

Across the Pond (#653)

How prohibitionists want to “help” sex workers:

An editorial in the British Medical Journal, published this week, warned of “avoidable harms and disastrous long-term costs” of ongoing funding cuts to services available to sex workers…[which] have so far controlled outbreaks of HIV, syphilis and tuberculosis…outreach programmes have halved the risk of them contracting sexually transmitted infections…An estimated 10,000 sex workers use such services , according to National Ugly Mugs…Georgina Perry, a former manager at Open Doors…resigned last week over the cuts…after Open Doors was asked to share confidential client information…[with] police and immigration officers…

Rubbing Elbows (#653)

An ally uses the Desiree Alliance conference as a springboard to discuss larger issues:

Sex workers and their allies gathered in New Orleans recently for the 6th…Desiree Alliance Conference…This year’s conference was about 50 percent bigger than the one held in Las Vegas three years ago.  There were about 300 attendees, about three-quarters of whom were current or former workers.  The rest were allies, like myself…the sex worker’s rights movement…is shaping up to be the next great civil rights effort in the United States and elsewhere…Fears over human trafficking have been used to create a massive anti-prostitution moral crusade.  Falsehoods about the nature of the industry are widely repeated, with sex workers seldom allowed access to media to rebut them.  Broad-based laws that attack all sorts of harmless people have been passed and justified in the hysteria over trafficking…A…self-serving rescue industry, funding for which is contingent on there being lots of trafficking victims to save, has grown around the country…

So Close and Yet So Far (#661)

Gary Johnson’s position on sex work wasn’t quite so muddled in 1991:

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Agony Aunt

Honest advice is unpleasant to the ears.  –  Chinese proverb

Honey Boo Boo hates Justin BieberCultural literacy is a funny thing.  We all share a stock of common knowledge which is not directly taught to us by parents, teachers or peers, but rather simply absorbed from our surroundings, taken in like air.  Because the process is so subtle and pervasive, it’s generally safe to assume that everyone who lives in a given culture for a long enough time is familiar with all of the common cultural elements even if he has no particular interest in some of them; for example, though I’ve never had any interest whatsoever in football and have never watched more than a few minutes of a game, I still know the basic rules and many of the particulars.  I didn’t have to read about it, research it or study it; I simply picked it up unconsciously from other people’s conversations, seeing games on television in the background, and other such means of involuntary learning.  In fact, it’s difficult to avoid familiarity with popular cultural elements even if one might prefer to; for example, I know who Honey Boo Boo and Justin Bieber are (and can even recognize their pictures) despite not having watched broadcast television in a decade (and despite wishing I could allocate the memory space devoted to them for something more useful and aesthetically appealing, such as a catalog of domestic animal parasites).

So it’s always a bit strange to discover someone who has somehow never learned about something which everyone else takes for granted; in this particular case, the way advice columns work.  It’s not like they’re something new; the first such column appeared in the Athenian Mercury in 1691, and they rapidly proliferated throughout the 18th century.  Nor have they vanished with the newspaper; if anything they’ve multiplied, and the freedom of the internet allows modern agony aunts to answer questions with a frankness that would have been completely impossible just twenty years ago.  Advice columns aren’t even a novelty on this blog; I answered my first reader question within weeks of starting it, and the Q & A columns were a regular monthly feature by the third month; since the beginning of this year, I’ve answered at least one reader question nearly every Wednesday.  But despite all this, a reader recently sent me a very nasty letter for publishing his question and its answer in my column, despite the facts that A) he didn’t ask for confidentiality, and I hid the few identifying details anyway; B) it’s the way I’ve always done it; C) it’s the way advice columns have been done for 322 years; and D) in my email reply to him, I specifically told him the date it would appear in the blog!  Apparently, this is not an isolated case; just over a year ago Amy Alkon of The Advice Goddess had a letter from a similarly-misinformed reader accusing her of “asking for your readers to write in with their problems so you can take your ideas from them (also called stealing) and write your own column.”  The mind boggles.

Thinking of You by Gil ElvgrenGiven two not-dissimilar cases only a year apart, I am forced to conclude that there really are some people out there who honestly don’t know how advice columns work; it would therefore seem prudent to put my own policy in writing for the benefit of such readers.  First of all, I try to answer every letter I get which asks for a reply; if I get behind in my work due to holidays, travel or other such events this could take as many as three weeks, but most of the time it’s more like three days (or three hours if the answer is short or I’m all caught up).  Not every question makes it into a column, but anything which I think other readers will find interesting or illuminating almost certainly will; however, I always remove identifying details and slightly rephrase the language (if necessary) to simplify and/or broaden it.  For example, if a reader mentions that he lives in a particular European country I will change it to “Europe” (or else leave it out entirely if I don’t think that’s significant to understanding the answer).  If you would like to ask a question but don’t want it to appear even in disguised form, all you have to do is say so; I have answered many questions confidentially and would not even dream of violating such a request.  Most importantly, I think honesty is the most important quality of advice; though I answer questions as politely as I can, I am not going to lie to spare your feelings; would you really even want that?  It’s better to take the bitter medicine which may cure the ill, than to swallow a sugar pill and continue to suffer.  One last thing: if your letter does appear in the blog, I suggest you read the comments left by other readers; it never hurts to get other opinions, and sometimes a reader may add something that I hadn’t even considered.

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