Posts Tagged ‘Backpage’

Backpage [is a]…bête noire for…misguided meddlers—a symbolic entity on which to project all their moral- and techno-panic concerning prostitution in the Internet era.  –  Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Rough TradeAnthony Riley

In the US, she would’ve been arrested when she reported the rape to cops:

A man who raped a sex worker in a brutal knifepoint attack in Leeds has been jailed for ten years…Anthony Riley…dragged her to the ground by her hair and punched and kicked her before putting a knife to her throat and raping her.  He ran off after the attack, taking two mobile phones that had fallen out of the victim’s bra [with which he was later found]…

A Tale That Grew in the Telling

Dude claims that 1% of the world’s population is “enslaved” and says he runs a top-secret organization of nuns who pose as whores to infiltrate brothels.  I am not making this up:

An army of religious sisters who rescue victims of human trafficking by posing as prostitutes to infiltrate brothels and buying children being sold into slavery, is expanding to 140 countries…John Studzinski, an investment banker and philanthropist who chairs Talitha Kum, said the network of 1,100 sisters currently operates in about 80 countries but the demand for efforts to combat trafficking and slavery was rising globally.  The group…estimates one percent of the world’s population is trafficked in some form, which translates into some 73 million people.  Of those, 70 percent are women and half are aged 16 or younger.  “I’m not trying to be sensational but…this is a world…where dark forces are active,” said Studzinski…He [fantasized aloud about] one woman…who was locked up for a week without food, forced to eat own her faeces, when she failed to have sex with a target of 12 clients a day…

Just curious, John; do the nuns have sex with clients while “infiltrating brothels”?  If not, why aren’t they locked up and forced to eat shit?  Or is that just a clever metaphor for what you’ve tricked Reuters reporters into doing in this story?

The Pro-Rape Coalition 

Long-time readers will remember that I’ve made similar points in the past:

Third-wave feminists are the best friends a rapist could ask for.  With their promotion of the idea of “rape culture”—the notion that images and culture propel men to hate and harm women—they have done more than anyone to diminish rapists’ responsibility for their foul crimes.  And the evidence suggests rapists are really grateful…30 years on from Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon’s scaremongering over porn and its impact on the putty-like male mind, feminists are still depicting porn as the instigator of criminal activity. And in the process they’re excuse-making for criminals…In the New StatesmanSarah Ditum argued that…men are almost possessed by porn…[which] takes hold of us…and drives us, automaton-like, to evil…

The Mote and the Beam

Previous Senate hearings of this same ilk have included the ones against communists, comic books and “dirty” music lyrics:

Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer is refusing to participate in the U.S. government witch-hunt against his company, and for that he may face criminal charges.  Ferrer failed to show up on Capitol Hill [on November 19th] despite a subpoena to testify before a Senate committee about Backpage’s alleged involvement in sex trafficking.  Now a…group of senators is calling for his head…Ferrer’s attorneys told legislators that he would be out of the country and unable to make the hearing.  Were he to attend, they added, he would likely invoke his fifth amendment right not to self-incriminate…

The Crumbling Dam

It’s strange that Washington, which is so regressive on sex work, is moving forward so quickly on drugs:

Safe drug sites—places people can use illicit drugs under medical supervision—are coming to Seattle, advocates say…Dr. Caleb Banta-Green…[of] the University of Washington…says such locations are a public-health no-brainer…This matters, he says, in a city where 70 percent of injection-drug users are infected with hepatitis C.  The site would be the first of its kind in the United States…Every single member of the incoming City Council…say they either support or are open to safe drug sites.  Mayor Ed Murray also says he’d consider [them]…Vancouver, B.C., has had a “supervised injection facility” for over a decade…InSite…consists of little stalls where people can prepare and inject their drug of choice, with medical staff standing by in case of overdose and to connect people with treatment services if they want them…A 2011 study in The Lancet found that InSite’s creation correlated with a large drop in drug deaths in the surrounding neighborhood.  And while it’s seen more than a thousand overdoses…there has never been a single fatality…InSite also reduced public injecting, lowered syringe sharing, and increased participation in addiction treatment—all without any discernible negative side effects.  It even seems to save taxpayers money

A Broker in Pillage

Once again, the British government displays its dedication to literally robbing sex workers of their life savings:

A former prostitute and brothel keeper…may have to sell her house after a judge gave her six months to hand over [£50,000]…under the Proceeds of Crime Act.  Lucy Whelan…was convicted 10 years ago of running a brothel in Gloucester but at that time she had assets of only £300…Last week, however, she was back before the court after the prosecution discovered that subsequent to her conviction her parents had bought her a house in Bristol to help her get back on her feet…Judge Michael Cullum…gave her six months to pay and said if she does not she will go to prison for 18 months…

Note again the weird “pay back” euphemism; the money wasn’t taken from the government in the first place, so it can’t be paid “back” to the government.  This is just a means of making armed robbery seem like compelling a debtor to pay money she legitimately owed.

Above the Law 

These are the people “feminists” want in charge of sex workers:

On March 20th, a female inmate was being transported from Brooklyn to Rikers Island when she claims she was brutally sexually assaulted by one of the [jailers] on the bus. The attack, which lasted more than 15 minutes, was witnessed by another guard who did nothing to protect the victim but stayed to watch…the attack…occurred after she and a male inmate had had consensual sex on a bus during transport. The male inmate…paid the guard to leave the two of them alone [but] when the guard returned…he decided he wanted a turn, too…[the prisoner] says she begged the guard raping her to wear a condom.  He ignored her…

Above the Law (#47)

Scotland Yard “apologizes” for letting cops create fake identities, seduce women into thinking they were having real relationships, get them pregnant and then vanish without any concern about child support:

Scotland Yard has settled legal claims from seven female activists who said undercover police had formed “intimate sexual relationships” with them while investigating protest movements.  The police apologized Friday for the “totally unacceptable” behaviour of a number of undercover officers in the now-disbanded units.  The financial terms of the settlement are being kept secret…The women claimed they were traumatized by the deception, which in some cases lasted for years…two of the undercover police had fathered children with women from the groups they had infiltrated…a criminal investigation and a misconduct investigation is continuing…

Protest against undercover rapistsGregory Katz of the AP says they only “claimed” they were traumatized.  Just imagine how you would feel if your partner, with whom you had a child, suddenly vanished and you later discovered he or she was a pig spying on you in an attempt to chain and cage you and all of your friends.  Imagine how that would affect your ability to form new relationships in the future, then tell me they only “claimed” they were traumatized.  Fuck you, Mr. Katz.


Trans people have been hanged, stoned to death and even killed by their own parents, according to a new report.  It highlights the tragedies of 271 trans and gender-variant people…who were murdered in the last 12 months.  Thirty-seven were 21 years old or younger.  Brazil (118 murders) and Mexico (34)…lead the list…The USA has seen 27 killings of trans people, an increase of 17 from last year…But even these…are likely just the tip of the iceberg.  Media organizations…are often guilty of misgendering the victims…making it even more difficult to get a real sense of the problem…

Available Weapon

As long as these laws exist, amateurs will be harmed by them as well:

Southern California authorities have apologized to a South Carolina nurse who was incorrectly charged with prostitution and had to fly across the country to clear up the paperwork mix-up.  Kendra Dawn Speed, 37, was told by her employer…that a background check revealed she was wanted on a warrant out of Riverside County, California…Even though she’d briefly lived in Los Angeles, Speed had never set foot in Riverside County — and had never been a prostitute.  After being told the issue couldn’t be resolved over the phone…[she]  hopped on a flight to California the next morning [and] appeared in Riverside County court, where a judge issued a new warrant for Kendra Michelle Speed, born in 1981, not Kendra Dawn Speed, born in 1978…

Lying Down With Dogs (#427)

What wonderful company the US is in!

The Tajik Parliament wants to abolish sex work.  They are introducing harsher measures…hoping this will deter sex workers…sex workers caught breaking the law for the first time will be required to pay double what they paid in the past.  If the same sex worker breaks the law a second time, they will face up to 15 days in jail.  Under Tajik law, sex work is not a criminal offense.  However, sex workers in Tajikistan are penalised…in the form of fines….[the law] is used by police to target sex workers for extortion under threat of fines, arrest, and detention…In most cases when sex workers are arrested, they are brought to a police department where there is an “investigation”.  Sometimes sex workers are subjected to gynaecological exams for sexually transmitted infections, which is a humiliating procedure that violates their human rights…

Full of Themselves (#535)

What is it about massage parlors that brings the puritans out of the woodwork?

Work permits are being handed to foreign massage therapists at a rate of one a week, prompting concerns that a number of massage parlours are serving as a front for prostitution…In all, 508 employment licences for female massage therapists were issued in the past 10 years, going up to 93 permits last year from a mere 23 in 2006.  A Chinese former massage parlour worker told The Sunday Times of Malta that “some ladies who come here as massage therapists are sex workers…in Malta, they earn at least €4,000 a month, but they declare some €700.  Some pocket much more, especially if they are young,” she said…police sources said their experience supported her views that a substantial percentage of massage parlours did in fact provide sex services…

Traffic Circle (#569)

Glenn Kessler does it again:

…Throughout 2015, The Fact Checker has dug into dubious statistics concerning sex trafficking, so this recent speech by Attorney General Lynch caught our eye…Lynch spoke of “hundreds of sex traffickers” and the FBI release only mentioned “more than 150 pimps.”  How does that math work?…a DOJ spokesman…blamed an editing error when Lynch’s speech was written…Neither DOJ nor the FBI can provide evidence that “hundreds of sex traffickers” have been arrested through [all years combined of] Operation Cross Country — unless one plays fast and loose with legal language.  The FBI…used to reveal exactly how many people were rounded up through Cross Country, essentially exposing the fact that the effort to find exploited children also led to the arrests of hundreds of adult prostitutes and their customers…The FBI [pretends] no one under the age of 18 is arrested…after 2010, the “others” arrested was dropped from the news releases.  Instead, officials only listed the number of juveniles recovered and “pimps” arrested…FBI officials [pretend] they no longer report these numbers because this is a matter for local jurisdiction…government officials appear to believe they can boost their success rate by slapping the word “sex trafficker” on adults who have been arrested even though such charges have not — and could not— be brought in a court of law…

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Social policies do not have to be so dumb.  –  Laura Agustín

The Scarlet Letter

This article is so stupidly evil it’s almost fascinating:

A plan to publicly shame those who solicit sex with minors moved forward…with a draft ordinance covering Los Angeles County expected next week…Don Knabe has been pushing for a “shame campaign” since late last year…the…ordinance that would provide for the publication of names and booking photos of those convicted of soliciting prostitution or loitering with intent to solicit prostitution…Sheila Kuehl…questioned the practice of arresting people for loitering with intent, saying she thought the allegation amounted to “mind reading”…The Los Angeles Times editorial board, when Knabe first made his proposal, called the plan “anachronistic” and said it amounted to “sensationalism”…

Parable Kesha

Noah Berlatsky with another analogy for the absurdity of prohibition:

Should young women be allowed to enter the music industry?  That seems like a preposterous question.  But consider:  Kesha…filed a lawsuit against her former producer Dr. Luke…alleging that he had sexually, physically, and mentally abused her for a decade…Kesha’s lawsuit also alleges that Sony music refused to take steps to stop the abuse, and even covered up for it…The situation is not rare; producers and managers like Phil Spector and Ike Turner have physically and mentally abused their artists for years…Shouldn’t there be laws in place to prevent women from entering an industry such as this where they can be abused and harmed?  It should be clear why this is a bad idea.  Heavy-handed restrictions on women would hurt women, not protect them.  To make it illegal for women to be musicians and pop stars would be abusive and unfair in itself…And yet, when it comes to sex work, restricting women’s options in the name of “protecting” them is suddenly seen as reasonable, logical, and necessary…

Saving Them From Themselves

How many more kids’ lives have to be destroyed before we stop the cops?

Police in a Pennsylvania school district have charged at least three kids—one of them just 11 years old—with distributing sexually explicit pictures of other minors.  They…face juvenile detention, expulsion, and a variety of other life-altering consequences.  This is somehow in their best interests—and the interests of kids everywhere—authorities claim…The levelling of charges…should not be viewed as some low-cost precondition to keeping kids safe, but a horrible, life-derailing consequence in and of itself…But we live in a country where paranoid delusions about safety provide cover for police to enforce absurd laws that make life miserable for kids…

Surplus Women 

Kenyan police are investigating the murders of 10 women working as prostitutes, a record number of attacks in one month that has led to fears of a serial killer…campaigners have called on the government to legalise prostitution and offer proper protection to vulnerable women.  The police commander in the town of Nakuru, where four bodies were found, said an intense manhunt was under way…Hassan Barua said security had been improved in the area, but would not comment on whether one suspect was wanted for multiple murders…

Bad Fantasy, Good Reality

Because they are?

When the issue of sex workers in Thailand is brought up, any discussion is usually characterized with words of “exploitation”, “coercion”, and “human trafficking”.  However…Some…girls…[feel] that sex work [is] a means of emancipating themselves economically…A prevailing attitude…[is] that they feel better being paid for the sex they provide, rather than providing sex to a husband in a dead end relationship that they get nothing for.  This was most prevalent in those who had been married before…Some even talk about providing sex as helping clients with a basic need…What was most common with those sex workers who had been prudent financially, was a satisfaction with their career as a sex worker…

The Mother Learns From Her Children

Sex worker rights activists from around the world will join researchers and experts to present evidence to parliament in support of the decriminalisation of sex work.  The day-long symposium, organised by the English Collective of Prostitutes and hosted by shadow chancellor John McDonnell, is an opportunity for parliamentarians and the public to sidestep the charged emotion of international debates on the nature of sex work and hear crime-related, humanitarian, and public health analyses from leading academics and campaigners…The symposium will compare the outcomes of Sweden’s criminalisation of the buying of sex with the full decriminalisation model that has flourished in New Zealand…activists from Thailand, Taiwan, Canada and South Africa will explain how criminalisation, rescue and rehabilitation programs have affected sex workers there.  Rachel West, an American sex worker rights activist, will explore how a recent surge in anti-trafficking policing has disproportionately affected black sex workers and their clients…

The Lion and the Ox

Laura Agustín on the uselessness of the term “human trafficking”:

…There are young people now who have grown up surrounded by campaigning against trafficking, unaware there is conflict about how to define the term.  Some want to dedicate energy to combating what is figured as a modern social evil.  Some compare themselves with 19th-century anti-slavery advocates and feel outraged that anyone would question what they are doing…after…the idea of trafficking began its ascent…we who were interested in migration, sex work and labour policy realised it was useless for gaining equity or rights…the assumption is this human mobility to work is fomented by criminals who use force and coercion against their victims…Behind this over-simplification and over-focus on sex lie real social inequalities and oppressions:  migration policies that favour middle- and upper-class jobs, out-of-date notions of the formal economy and productive labour, young people who want to get away from home, job-seekers willing to take risks to make more money, laws that make commercial sex illegal, laws that make sweatshops illegal and…more.  To lump all this under a single term simply disappears the array of different situations, encourages reductionism and feeds into a moralistic agenda of Good and Evil…

King of the Hill (#421)

“The Harvard of sex trafficking” has now morphed into “The Harvard of pimp school”.  Or was it really the other way around?  Does it really matter, when both phrases are utterly ludicrous?

Milwaukee has become “the Harvard of pimp school” and Wisconsin is a hub of human trafficking, a [self-declared] expert has said in the wake of an FBI sting last month in which nine adolescents were [arrested]…meaning Milwaukee is tied with Las Vegas for the third highest number of young people [arrested]…Denver topped the list, with 20…and Detroit was next with 19.  Over the past four years, however, Milwaukee has consistently ranked among the top five cities in the nation for [arrests of underage sex workers]…

If Men Were Angels

Government is just a word for the things we choose to do together:

A…Houston mother of two says she was raped in her hospital bed by a doctor…she reported the rape to nurses who responded with cold skepticism.  She had to wait nearly two years for police to collect the alleged attacker’s DNA and make an arrest.  And now…Dr. Shafeeq Sheikh…may get off scot-free in civil court.  And Texas law may entitle her to only modest compensation from Sheikh’s employer at the time of the rape, the prestigious Baylor College of Medicine…Baylor doctors staff Ben Taub, which is a public hospital owned by Harris County.  The doctor isn’t the only one who can deploy the “government unit” shield.  Baylor lawyers have successfully argued that the college itself can be construed as a government entity and is entitled to the same protections a county institution would enjoy…Baylor can argue it is immune to the claim altogether…and…the Texas Supreme Court has ruled that rape in some circumstances is covered by medical malpractice laws…Gillian Anderson looking stupid again

Acting and Activism (Traffic Updates) 

Anderson’s right at home in a movie based on ridiculous, exaggerated conspiracy theories:

Gillian Anderson wasn’t expecting to appear in the movie Sold.  The actress, known for her role on The X-Files, had initially been approached by…director Jeffrey Brown…about just being part of the film’s campaign.  She immediately said yes because she felt passionate about…sex trafficking…”High school students go missing and they are…forced into prostitution where there is violence and they don’t get paid for being a sex slave…And they get brainwashed into being a part of a community and they are terrified for their lives to escape”…

Safe Targets (#452)

Tara Burns, Maxine Doogan and two others on “sex trafficking” in Alaska:

…Last year a woman dialed 911 in Anchorage and reported that she had been a victim of sex trafficking.  When the [cops]…decided to follow up with her they…traveled to where she was working as an independent escort and…posed as a customer to book an appointment with her and meet her in a sexual context.  Then [they] placed her in handcuffs, threatened her with felony charges, and told her nobody would be able to “actually” love her as she was.  In response to a…complaint about this incident, the Department of Public Safety explained that this is a common “strategy of building rapport” with victims…

Vendetta (#518)

Oakland City Council Takes Stand Against Sex Workers“.  Seriously.

On October 20…[Oakland, California] endorsed…The “CEASE Network”…a project of Demand Abolition, a Boston-based program dedicated to “eradicating the illegal commercial sex industry” by going after “demand.”  That means targeting clients…Demand Abolition is a program of Hunt Alternatives, the foundation of Swanee Hunt…the daughter of…oil tycoon H.L. Hunt…The groups fund law enforcement and public media campaigns and advocate for stronger legal penalties…when police agencies and district attorneys broadly target demand, they end up wasting resources on arrests and prosecutions that further criminalize adult sex workers and their clients…the Demand Abolition approach…[threatens] marginalized workers in the sex industry.  That was a concern of government officials in San Francisco, which last year ended a brief partnership with Demand Abolition after facing a backlash from…sex workers…

End Demand (#576)

My friend Savannah Sly is quoted extensively in this article about the fascist BEST program:

…a new public-private coalition that aims to have sites like backpage.com blocked in…workplaces…free speech advocates and…sex workers…are critical of the BEST Employer Alliance’s methods, warning that it errors on the side of censorship and endangers sex workers…If third-party Web hosting were akin to aiding in criminal activity, then Facebook and Twitter would quickly cease to exist…By pressuring credit card companies to divest, and now by pressuring employers to block the site en masse, the anti-Backpage set hopes to slowly choke the site out of its users…Savannah Sly, the director of…SWOP…said…”This painting of all clients as pedophiles reminds me of how we use to paint all homosexual men as pedophiles…If you shut down Backpage adult listings…You’re denying thousands and thousands of workers who need money.  And if you shut down all of Backpage, you’re punishing hundreds of thousands of people who want access to roommate listings, sale items, general classifieds…all for the crimes of a very, very small few”…

In fact, I’m relatively sure she was riding in my car while giving this interview.

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A prison might be defined as any place you’ve been put into against your will and can’t get out of, and where you are entirely at the mercy of the authorities, whoever they may be.  –  Margaret Atwood

Bad Jobs

You’ll notice that sex workers are immune to most of these factors:

People often like to groan about how their job is “killing” them.  Tragically, for some groups of people in the U.S., that statement appears to be true.  A new study by researchers at Harvard and Stanford has quantified just how much a stressful workplace may be shaving off of Americans’ life spans.  It suggests that the amount of life lost to stress varies significantly for people of different races, educational levels and genders, and ranges up to nearly three years of life lost for some groups…

A Tale That Grew in the Telling

There are about 40,000 girls aged 13-17 in San Diego; this “study” claims that 30% of them become “victims of sex trafficking” every year:

A new study released by the University of San Diego and Point Loma Nazarene University revealed that the dark and secret world of sex trafficking in San Diego is the second largest underground economy locally after drugs…sex trafficking is an estimated $810 million-a-year industry and it is run mostly by gangs.  The study revealed that as many as 11,773 become victims to human trafficking in San Diego alone on a yearly basis…Victims are primarily underage…The study was funded by the Department of Justice, and found that more than 100 gangs are involved in the local sex trafficking operations…next to schools, other recruitment hot spots include:  trolley and bus stops, house parties, social media, tattoo parlors, churches, malls…about 1,776 victims/survivors come in contact with law enforcement…

That last is larger than the total number of “sex trafficking victims” that have ever been identified as such in the entire US.

With Folded Hands

Margaret Atwood on the asininity of giving away freedom for “security”:

…Governments know our desire for safety all too well, and like to play on our fears.  How often have we been told that this or that new rule or law or snooping activity on the part of officialdom is to keep us “safe”?  We aren’t safe, anyway:  many of us die in weather events – tornados, floods, blizzards – but governments, in those cases, limit their roles to finger-pointing, blame-dodging, expressions of sympathy or a dribble of emergency aid.  Many more of us die in car accidents or from slipping in the bathtub than are likely to be done in by enemy agents, but those kinds of deaths are not easy to leverage into panic…

Above the Law Patrick Quinn coercive cop

Sometimes sexually-exploitative cops stop short of rape:

In August Patrick Quinn, a 27-year-old…Texas [cop]…pulled over a driver and [claimed he] spotted marijuana paraphernalia in her car.  He told her he would not arrest her if she would let him lick her feet or give him her underwear.  He…was [fired and] sentenced to a year in jail…

Parting of the Ways

Peter Barbey is wasting no time as the new owner of the Village Voice.  Per an interview with [the] Wall Street Journal…he’s nixed the thought of changing the print edition size, pitched to staff the concept of special themed inserts and decided it’s time for a major ad dollar shift:  “Barbey plans to get rid of escort ads, a racy fixture of many an alt-weekly.  ‘Adult women can be escorts, that’s fine with me’, Mr. Barbey said, ‘but it’s not the kind of advertising that fits where we want go’.


Beyoncé Karungi, a 35-year-old campaigner…is in hospital following [a] horrific attack.  The activist had recently penned an article on surviving in Uganda as a trans sex worker, an occupation that can be dangerous and occasionally deadly.  After recieving several hate threats, she went into hiding.  When she emerged, she was attacked by a group of five unknown men.  She sustained several serious facial and bodily injuries…This is not the first time Beyoncé has been attacked…one time police undressed her, took her bag, money and phone and then cut her hair to make her “masculine”…

Frequently Told Lies

The title is “Feminism’s Sex Work Problem“, but this thorough article contains a large section debunking the usual lies prohibitionists employ:

I’m not going to make the pro-decriminalization case here.  Others have made it far more eloquently than I could…However, there are some elephants in the room that simply have to be addressed before a real conversation can occur.  These are mistruths that seem to have become cemented as fact through sheer force of mindless repetition, and unfortunately they severely derail any objective discussion of sex work…

Wise Investment (#440)

Much more of this, please:

Las Vegas police will pay more than $80,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by a woman who said officers detained her for two hours in The Cosmopolitan after falsely accusing her of being a prostitute.  A federal judge wrote that the case showed…prostitution sweeps in casinos were overly broad and threatened people’s constitutional rights.  Chentile Goodman was released without charge after the 2011 incident and filed a lawsuit later that year…

The Camel’s Nose (#504)

Meet CISA, formerly known as CISPA, AKA SOPA, alias PIPA, née COICA:

The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) passed the Senate today by a vote of 74 to 21.  A different version passed the House earlier in the year, so they’re going to have to conference to hammer out differences.  Retail business interests supported the legislation.  Major Internet and tech firms like Google, Apple, Yahoo, and Twitter…opposed it…”CISA…allows companies to monitor users and share their information with the government without a warrant, while offering a backdoor that circumvents any laws that might protect users’ privacy“…Attempts to add amendments to narrow the bill’s focus all failed…The Sunlight Foundation…notes that CISA creates a new exemption from the Freedom of Information Act…”That means if they overstep and share the wrong information — as this bill seems to intend — the public won’t know, and even if it did, it would have no legal recourse…CISA guarantees the public will have no ability to see what information is going from companies to the government“…

What Were You All Waiting For? Richard Branson

I’m glad Richard Branson is speaking out against criminalization, but I wish he’d talk to sex workers so as to avoid gaffes like this:

…There are good Catholic countries like Chile that have legalised prostitution.  And I know its very controversial.  Most people would put their arms up in horror.  But by legalising it, they got rid of the pimps.  The girls are monitored properly to make sure that they are healthy, to make sure they can come forward if they’ve got a problem.  And they believe a lot of the illegal trafficking of young girls has gone away…

Now They Notice

One of the more loathsome uses of asset seizure:  stealing all of the victim’s bank accounts so he can’t pay for a legal defense.

Things aren’t looking good for rentboy.com…The company’s bank accounts containing millions of dollars were frozen and its website was seized by Homeland Security…Now, the company is selling its office supplies and furniture on Craigslist in an effort to raise money to pay for its mounting legal fees…Some of these “goodies” include glass desks, chairs, filing cabinets, and video monitors.  Other items for sale include cables, software, books, magazines, artwork, lamps, a copy machine, and “a lot of special, one of a kind rentboy.com ephemera”…

Seizing Power (#574)

The Cato institute supports sex workers’ right to advertise:

Prior restraints—legal prohibitions on disseminating information before publication—are an odious burden on the freedom of expression and come with a “heavy presumption” against their constitutionality.  Indeed, they are so disfavored in the law as to be virtually impossible to obtain outside of wartime.  Informal prior restraints—government pressure without formal sanction—are even more unconstitutional than formal ones, as the Supreme Court noted in Bantam Books v. Sullivan(1963)…But that strong precedent didn’t stop…Thomas Dart and his crusade against Backpage…As Cato, Reason Foundation, and DKT Liberty Project point out in our amicus brief before that court, Dart’s claimed “epidemic” of sex trafficking has evaded any sort of empirical verification for over two decades.  Indeed, State Department data indicate that the opposite may be true.  Nevertheless, Sheriff Dart, along with a new-age Baptist-and-bootleggers coalition matching the religious right and radical feminists, have raised the human-trafficking bugaboo to rally against prostitution—mimicking the drug war and all of its worst legal mechanisms…

Welcome To Our World (#578)

Here’s the first part of an in-depth look at how the New York Times callously maligned an entire industry – one that, like sex work, provides income for undocumented migrants with little money to squander on bureaucratically-imposed startup costs:

Sarah Maslin…Nir’s coverage broadly [mischaracterized] the nail salon industry, [and] several of the men and women she spoke with say she misquoted or misrepresented them.  In some cases, she interviewed sources without translators despite their poor English skills.  When her sources’ testimonies ran counter to her narrative, she omitted them altogether.  The second article lent the Times’ imprimatur to unproven theories, while committing science journalism’s cardinal sin of highlighting alarmist anecdotes that aren’t representative of systematic research.  If it hadn’t had real-world consequences, the series—and subsequent attempt by Nir and her editors to parry criticism—wouldn’t be worth such intense scrutiny.  But the day after the first article appeared in the print edition of the Times, Gov. Andrew Cuomo…announced a new multi-agency task force to inspect nail salons…The rush to legislate based solely on the Times’ shoddy reporting has hurt the industry.  New nail salons, “which used to open every week in New York,” have stopped appearing…Salons once provided a steady source of jobs for undocumented immigrants; now many owners say they’ll hire only legal workers who’ve completed an occupational licensing program because they’re afraid of getting in trouble…

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Crowding what I do into the larger umbrella of “sex work,” without its own name, makes it seem as if I’m supposed to experience what I do as shameful.  –  Charlotte Shane

What’s In a Name?

I agree with Charlotte Shane on words like “prostitute”:

I’ve called myself a prostitute for about as long as I’ve been one…it felt like the most accurate term given the service I provide, and I like the solidarity of it, the refusal to kowtow to class-related stigma or what is sometimes called the “whorearchy”…I believe the difference between “escort” and “prostitute” is that one term relies on euphemistic window dressing while the other is unapologetic and unashamed…I’m at odds with the party line in this stance, though…Increasingly, prostitute is…regarded as a slur…Taking euphemisms on permanently and in a political context, outside of marketing material or work-related correspondence, feels to me like ceding way too much power.  The state forces me to use certain language to protect myself in some contexts; I don’t want to willingly employ that language in all others…


One rather nasty side-effect of prohibition is that it gives moral retards like Mary Mitchell leave to vomit their odious bigotry all over the pages of major newspapers:

Authorities say Roy Akins went to Backpage.com and agreed to pay a prostitute $180 for sex.  When the unidentified woman showed up at his…home…Akins…pulled a gun.  I imagine most prostitutes in this situation would have run straight to a pimp.  But after leaving Akins’ home…the…woman called the police…I’m grateful [Akins] isn’t being accused of snatching an innocent woman off the street…the way this case is being handled makes it look like sex trafficking is a legitimate business…because this incident is being charged as a criminal sexual assault — when it’s actually more like theft of services — it minimizes the act of rape…For law enforcement to put what happened to a Backpage.com prostitute on a par with [real] rape victims…is an insult.

A few observations:

  • “I imagine most prostitutes…would have run straight to a pimp.” I’ll leave you to imagine what she’s doing while she “imagines” this.
  • Note the conflation of sex work and sex trafficking, and the badge-licking idolization of the clownish tyrant Tom Dart.
  • For another example of a woman using the “theft of services” slur, see the original of this title.
  • Given that last line, would Mitchell be more sympathetic toward the rape of a prostitute like me, who advertises somewhere other than Backpage?

Lack of Evidence

It’s rare to see someone attempt this defense with a straight face:

Lisa Marie Carroll, 34, was charged with one misdemeanor count of prostitution…Police [pretend] that she offered to perform various sex acts…for [specific] pricing…”I did not agree to have sex with that cop…I’m an escort companion and go on dates and sometimes clients make a donation and that doesn’t have to do with sex”…[a sleazebag cop accompanied her] to her room where…they both undressed and laid in bed.  The [cop then tried to get her to coomit to specific prices for specific acts] “And I said, ‘No, honey.  This is not how this works'”…A little while later, [the cops invaded] her house…

She’s lucky; many Pennsylvania cops rape women in order to arrest them.

Harm Magnification

Kerry Porth discusses the Harper government’s campaign to harm as many people as possible via increased prohibition:

…After winning a majority government in 2011, the Harper government quickly…introduced mandatory minimum sentencing for drug possession…despite warnings from current and former law enforcement from the United States…and respected Canadian drug policy experts…the Harper government has waged a costly war against Insite…[and] established 26 new requirements…that are costly, onerous and designed to prevent future sites from opening.  Then…the…government…reintroduced the old laws [that the Supreme Court had struck down] and introduced a prohibition on the purchase of sex and the explicit advertising of sexual services for the first time in Canadian history.  Despite a great deal of florid rhetoric about the government’s desire to ensure the safety of sex workers, the real intent behind the new laws was memorably stated by Senator Donald Plett: “Of course we don’t want to make life safe for prostitutes; we want to do away with prostitution. That’s the intent of the bill”…

The Proper Study

a…new Canadian study…concludes the average porn user holds, if anything, more egalitarian views regarding women than non-users.  Many pornography aficionados might even be “useful allies” in women’s struggles for equality in work, income and public office, the researchers…argue…Taylor Kohut…and his colleagues analyzed data from 35 years of the General Social Surve…the 23 per cent who reported having watched an “X-rated” movie in the previous year were no more or less likely than porn abstainers to identify as feminists, or voice support for the traditional family.  And the blue-movie watchers expressed on average more positive attitudes toward women in positions of power, and less negative attitudes toward abortion and women in the workforce than those who refrained from pornography…

Divided We Fall

Unfortunately, this revolting attitude is not unusual among picket-fence queers:

…had there been a sequel to [Pretty Woman], it would have been salacious. We would watch Richard Gere struggle with the fact that his girlfriend was a confirmed whore and had been with hundreds, maybe even thousands of men…There would be a scene at a dinner party when other women were whispering about Julia Roberts, all of them knowing that she could be found at one time on Hollywood Boulevard spreading her legs for any man with $200 in his pocket…I have been poor…and never once was selling my ass an option…When you make a choice to work in the sex industry…you are immediately shrinking your dating pool…I would never subject myself to a How-was-your-day,-honey? conversation with a partner who took anonymous loads for a living…


The robed simian who presided over this case planned to use this young man to “send a message” about having sex without a state license to do so; he should be caged for several years and then put on the “sex offender” registry for life.

A young man from Indiana who had consensual sex with a 14-year-old girl who told him she was [17] has been removed from Michigan’s sex offender registry pending his resentencing.  Zach Anderson [who was 19 at the time]…spent 75 days in jail after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor.  He was given a five-year probation that banned him from using computers or the Internet and also had faced 25 years on Michigan’s sex-offender registry.  But…Anderson’s lawyer successfully argued prosecutors failed to remain neutral on a key part of the plea deal, which would have erased Anderson’s record if he stayed out of trouble…Anderson’s resentencing will be Oct. 21…

What “crime”? He had consensual sex with a physically-adult woman he believed to be a peer.  The concept of strict liability is an abomination in any civilized society.

They Still Don’t Get It

The jaw-dropping stupidity of this article takes precedence over the FBI money grab it talks about:

At the click of a mouse, almost anyone can buy a girl online, anytime…ads with identical phone numbers can be traced to other cities…a sign, police say, that the women are on the move with their traffickers.  Some ads even state “only in town for three days, special.”  That’s the pattern of traffickers, always on the move, according to…Charlie Benton, who is known locally as the foremost law enforcement expert on sex trafficking.  The ads give no clue, though, which women are being forced to sell themselves or are under 18.  And the men who often answer the phone aren’t about to volunteer that information…

Yes, that’s what touring looks like to the warped mind of a pig obsessed with BDSM masturbatory fantasies involving adolescents.  Guys, have you EVER called an independent escort’s ad and had a man answer?  Ever?  It’s almost idiotic enough to distract the reader from the FBI agent asking for more money to fulfill his sick dream of attempting to entrap and cage literally every single escort on Backpage.


So Close and Yet So Far

Why do so many would-be allies insist on including vile, insulting garbage like this in otherwise-supportive essays?

…You may not approve of prostitution, and many quite reasonably do not.  It raises serious, ethical questions.  Having sex with people for money is degrading.  It transforms an intimate and private act into a commercial transaction.  It can pose a threat to those involved, especially women…

Torture Chamber 

This is what our society refers to as “correction”:

…Gesnerson Louisius…was slammed in the back of his head with a bar of soap stuffed inside a sock.  Six inmates pinned him down, and one grabbed him by his throat, as two others dragged him across the carpeted floor by his ankles…The young prisoners, between the ages of 18 and 20, kept demanding that he pay them money to stop the beating, but Louisius refused…The extortion ritual is so common and well known by both inmates and corrections officers that it has a name.  It’s called a “test of heart”…Hakiem Blount, 18, grabbed a broom and began pushing it into Louisius rectum…as far up as he could push it…there were no video cameras in the room, and the one corrections officer assigned to the dorm that afternoon was inexplicably nowhere to be found…Louisius…lost a lot of blood.  His rectum was ruptured and he underwent an emergency colostomy…he…served out the rest of his three-year prison term while wearing a colostomy bag, and had five or six surgeries in prison that likely cost Florida taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars…

Uncommon Sense (#557)

The Professional Association Erotic and Sexual Services [of Germany] (BesD) criticises the draft bill by the Ministry for Family Affairs for a “Prostitutes Protection Law” in the strongest terms…the BesD concludes, “A law that pretends to aim at strengthening the right to self-determination of a group of people but then denies them the maturity to make their own decisions, attempts to paternalistically ‘protect’ them from those decision, needlessly interferes with their basic rights, and that, quasi in passing, also creates regulations to save society from this group of people, allegedly in need of protection, via arbitrarily expandable ordinances…should be rejected in its entirety.”  Instead, the association calls for a complete decriminalisation of sex work…

R.I.P. Candida Royalle 

Elizabeth N. Brown on Candida’s legacy:

Candida Royalle is the kind of sex positive, free-speech-friendly artist and advocate that…is…relatively rare in feminist circles…[she] founded the (now defunct) nonprofit Feminists for Free Expression (FFE), which described its mission as “working to preserve the individual’s right to read, hear, view and produce materials of her choice without the intervention of the state ‘for her own good'”…The group opposed speech-censoring legislation; defended free speech in court cases, on college campuses, and in the media; and opposed the book, movie, and music banning efforts that were popular at the time.  Royalle and FFE’s other leaders believed that “freedom of expression is especially important for women’s rights” and that the suppression of sexist messages “will neither reduce harm to women nor further women’s goals”…

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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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Different people have different types of sex for all sorts of reasons that are really no one else’s business.  –  Steve ChapmanNew Zealand coat of arms

Down Under

Here’s a good article on how New Zealand achieved decriminalization:

…Tim Barnett…became involved with the PRA shortly after he won his first campaign for Christchurch Central’s parliamentary seat in 1996.  He did so on the request of Catherine Healy, the national coordinator of the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective (NZPC), who actively sought out his support for decriminalisation after the election…Barnett entered into an already vibrant political field.  The Massage Parlours Act of 1978 was, nearly a decade after its implementation, suddenly causing controversy because police had announced that the legislation effectively allowed indoor commercial sex work.  As a result, a working group comprised of NZPC and mainstream liberal feminist groups…began work on a pro-decriminalisation reform bill…

The Last Shall Be First

Anti-trans people just can’t get their minds out of the toilet:

…Jared Woodfill…and his group, the “Campaign For Houston”, are trying to get “no” votes for the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance…which voters will vote on in November…“No men in women’s bathrooms,” the ad actually begins. “This ordinance will allow men to freely go into women’s bathrooms, locker rooms and showers.  That is filthy, that is disgusting, and that is unsafe,” the [female announcer says, claiming] to represent “all moms, sisters, and daughters”…

Too Young To Know

Far too many sex worker rights activists are afraid to discuss this topic:

…Generally, if someone is working underage, it’s because they’re aware their alternatives are worse.  With a system that entirely fails to protect and serve young people, either forcing them back into abusive homes or shuffling them into new, potentially even more violent environments such as group homes, foster homes, and juvenile halls, it’s no wonder these young people take their fate into their own hands.  The few jobs that will hire young workers pay a pittance, and signing a lease isn’t even an option for minors…

Sexual Predators

If you have a weak stomach, you may want to skip this badge-licking article; it is, however, refreshing to see “sex trafficking” mentioned only in passing after all the talk of “morality” and dirty whores.  Note also the bizarre use of scare quotes around ordinary words like “time”:

…Websites like Backpage.com are a playground for people looking for “escorts,” and the people who put up ads are barely discrete [sic] about what they’re selling.  While some allege that anyone who responds is paying for their “time” and “companionship,” others say things like, “No pimp, no drama”…Some people believe that prostitution arrests are just about the actual sex acts…Police say they’re not.  “It was important to make these arrests for the sake of prostitution itself, but it also curtails other crimes as well, such as drugs and robberies…You have to realize prostitution not only offends some citizens as far as moral standards, it can become a nuisance to businesses and residents”…

Uncommon Sense (#435)

The number of prostitutes using Zurich’s [tippelzones] has nearly doubled over the last year say city authorities, who are hailing the two-year-old scheme a success.  Around 25-30 sex workers are now using the guarded drive-in brothel, up from around 15 this time last year…

The Face of Trafficking

This is what really happens when a wannabe “pimp” abducts a girl:

A 16-year-old girl snatched right off an Indianapolis street and sold into prostitution is back home after a terrifying weekend…The victim [was] walking home when a young man pulled up and offered her a ride…the…man…24-year old Kevryn Gaines-Dukes [raped her] then met up with a second suspect, Myeisha White…the two [drove her to]…Nashville, Tenn., where White took pictures of the teen and posted them on backpage.com, a site known by solicitors and investigators for sex trafficking…”If they ever outlawed backpage.com, we’d have trouble finding victims,” said Sgt. Jon Daggy, who investigates human trafficking as part of the Vice Unit with IMPD.  The 16-year old told police her captors made a thousand dollars that weekend, forcing her to have sex with at least 10 men…She had been secretly texting messages like “police” to her father and sister….Gaines-Dukes then texted the father, demanding $25,000 in ransom…The texts were traced to a Nashville motel…

Yet we’re supposed to believe that 100,000 cases a year go unnoticed. By the by, John Daggy “investigates human trafficking” by making excuses for cops who rape sex workers.

Choke Point (#511) 

Ashley Madison (#557) 

I did try to tell y’all:

…the world of Ashley Madison was a far more dystopian place than anyone had realized.  This isn’t a debauched wonderland of men cheating on their wives…it’s like a science fictional future where every woman on Earth is dead, and some Dilbert-like engineer has replaced them with badly-designed robots…the more I examined those 5.5 million female profiles, the more obvious it became that none of them had ever talked to men on the site, or even used the site at all after creating a profile…the overwhelming majority of men using Ashley Madison weren’t having affairs.  They were paying for a fantasy…About two-thirds of the men, or 20.2 million of them, had checked the messages in their accounts at least once.  But only 1,492 women had ever checked their messages

And all those guys who didn’t listen to me?  Well, they’re not very happy:  “Two Canadian law firms have filed a $578m class-action lawsuit against the companies that run Ashley Madison after a hacker group’s data breach exposed some 39 million memberships in the adultery website earlier this week“…

Seizing Power (#559)

As I said, nearly toothless:

A federal judge…denied a preliminary injunction request that would have forced Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart to retract statements he made in lobbying credit card companies to block their cards from being used to buy sex ads on Backpage.com…Judge John Tharp wrote that the “cease and desist” letters Dart wrote to Visa and Mastercard…could have been construed as threats.  But they did not amount to censorship, since the sheriff had no legal authority to force the credit card companies to act…The judge also said he considered “the profound interests of the victims of the human trafficking that Backpage’s advertising facilitates”…The ruling does not affect the underlying lawsuit against Dart seeking damages…

Something Rotten in Sweden (#564)

Dave Ross of KIRO radio interviews Mistress Matisse about her debunking of Seattle politicians’ agency-denying garbage; what never ceases to amaze me is the tenacity with which reasonably-intelligent people cling to stupid preconceptions and asinine myths when the subject is sex.  And that crack about her age…really, Dave?  Matisse was much more charming to you than you deserved.

Not Good Enough (#565) 

Just in case you didn’t think the approval of flibanserin could’ve been any shadier:

If you happen to be a woman interested in taking Addyi…your doctor will…tell you…You absolutely cannot drink — at all — as long as you’re taking the drug, because alcohol has been shown to exacerbate its side effects, including fainting, dizziness, and low blood pressure…but…Nobody actually even knows what would happen if a woman taking Addyi were to cheat and have, say, a glass of wine with dinner — because the research…was done almost entirely on men.  The alcohol-safety study included 23 men, and a grand total of two women…alcohol affects men and women very differently…and women are more susceptible to toxicity effects than are men…

What Were You All Waiting For?

It’s as though every anti-prohibitionist was just waiting for Amnesty:

Banning things you don’t like has a long history, though not a happy one.  Americans have tried banning alcohol, marijuana, pornography and homosexuality.  All of them persisted anyway.  So we learned to not only tolerate but allow them.  Nowadays, you can have a glass of scotch in a gay bar while looking at porn on your iPad, and the police won’t care.  In Colorado and Washington, you can walk out and buy weed at a state-licensed dispensary.  Prohibition has also been a failure for commercial sex…banning prostitution doesn’t get rid of it.  It merely pushes it underground, where abuses are more likely and harder to detect…The denunciations of decriminalization come from a strange alliance of feminists who regard all sex workers…as victims of oppression and Christians who see them as drenched in depravity.  Both exploit the sense that some types of sex are shameful, dangerous and intolerable — an attitude that long fueled the persecution of gays…

And speaking of gays, this denunciation of Amnesty by two Swedish politicians taking their travelling medicine show to Los Angeles could win some kind of award for bad timing; it was published the day after the federal raid on Rentboy.com triggered a groundswell of public support for decriminalization, thus making its moronic representation of sex work as a form of gendered violence look utterly tone-deaf in addition to being dishonest and fascist.  The Swedes refer to their snake oil as a “middle way” between criminalization and decriminalization, which is exactly the same as saying, “There is a middle way between Jim Crow and treating black people like human beings.”

Now They Notice

As I pointed out yesterday, many people who didn’t give a shit about the criminalization of sex work when it was women, our clients and our advertising venues being attacked, suddenly care very much now that they see the anti-sex machine is also going to be turned loose on the queer sex trade.  And while I absolutely welcome these folks as allies, I’m not going to accept this kind of sexist, patronizing bullshit from queer boys who couldn’t be bothered to speak up for me and my sisters last week:

Yesterday’s raid on the offices of Rentboy.com…was a bizarre, unprovoked crackdown on people it’s easy for “respectable” folks to stigmatize or ignore…this thoroughly unnecessary bust should be the impetus to legalize and regulate consensual sex work.  It should become the “Stonewall” of sex workers, the moment in which they and their allies say:  Enough…this is not about sex trafficking…it’s not alleged in the government’s complaint in this case…Want to fight sex trafficking?  Fight sex trafficking.  Not Rentboy…No one is disputing that prostitution can be exploitative, especially to women and minors, and that the global sex trade is often a kind of slavery.  Even legal prostitution can trap women in exploitative power relationships.  The question is how best to address these problems, and the emerging answer is that legalization-and-regulation…is better than criminalization…

Fuck you, Jay Michaelson.  Fuck your patronizing picket-fence queer bullshit.  Fuck your attempt to pretend that sex workers (backed by Amnesty International and many others) are asking for “legalization and regulation” because women (though obviously not men) are too fucking weak and stupid to protect ourselves from “exploitation”. Fuck your trying to co-opt our movement, which was already going on for forty fucking years before you deigned to fucking notice it.  Stonewall was the fucking Stonewall of sex workers, you asshole; the riot that started the avalanche that gave gay amateurs their rights was started by professionals.  And I’ll be goddamned if I’m going to remain silent while sleazy douchebags like you call for my body and my choices to be “regulated” by the same kind of fucking pigs those rioters were fighting against, just so middle-class vanilla fucks like you don’t have to feel threatened by my unregulated sexuality.

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Kristof is the sort of acute observer who, upon witnessing plantation slavery, decides that farming must be abolished.  –  Jacob Sullum

Amnesty At Last

The biggest story of the year so far is that Amnesty International has at long last come out in support of absolute decriminalization of sex work, as sex workers ourselves have wanted for decades.  Amnesty has a tremendous amount of clout; this will strongly affect small countries, and even in big countries like the US some politicians may now begin to doubt the wisdom of backing laws that allow the cops to persecute adults for consensual sex.  It will also undermine the prohibitionists’ arguments; they can no longer pretend that their views are common-sense and mainstream.  To me the most important lines in the document are these:

…the need for states to not only review and repeal laws that make sex workers vulnerable to human rights violations, but also refrain from enacting such laws…the harm reduction principle…Recognizing and respecting the agency of sex workers to articulate their own experiences and define the most appropriate solutions to ensure their own welfare and safety…the evidence from Amnesty International’s and external research on the lived experiences of sex workers, and on the human rights impact of various criminal law and regulatory approaches to sex work…

A Procrustean Bed

Super-ally Elizabeth N Brown again:

A four-part series from Capital News Service (CNS) looks at human trafficking in Maryland…[and] contends that “Maryland has some of the lightest penalties in the nation for human trafficking of adults”…yet a bill to enhance criminal penalties…recently failed to pass…it was a rare moment of legislative sanity on this issue…advocates for the increased penalties claim that sex trafficking of adults is a mere misdemeanor in Maryland…[but they] aren’t really talking about human trafficking.  They’re talking about prostitution.  Which they want felony punishments for…”misdemeanor human trafficking” is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.  And what does this category entail?…driving a sex worker to a job…letting a sex worker work from your…building…taking money from a sex worker for any reason…

Profound Mental Disabilities

A man in Orlando is suing a local dominatrix, accusing her of taking more than $500,000 and his house…Judith Gumbrecht…[offers]…“financial slavery”…[and] former client Alex Abrams…[alleges]  Gumbrecht took more than $500,000 after he added her name to his financial accounts, and took ownership of his 1,450-square-foot townhome…the lawsuit accuses Gumbrecht of exploitation of an elderly person, theft, and unjust enrichment…Abrams’ attorney, Brian Mark, claims Abrams suffers from clinical depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, and said this affected his decision when adding Gumbrecht to his bank accounts and signing a deed…to transfer his home to her.  Abrams met Gumbrecht after he divorced his wife of 32 years about four years ago…“She went with him to the doctor when he was diagnosed. She was fully aware,” [said] Mark…”When you’re in that professional relationship with them, you cannot exploit them”…

If Gumbrecht really did know that Abrams was demented, it was both unethical and unwise for her to take this kind of advantage.  However, I must point out that A) if she had married him this deal would be a great deal harder to break; and B) it’s amazing how often a submissive’s supposed mental incapacity is used as the excuse for a legal attack on a dominant.  Also, was Abrams suddenly & miraculously cured of his Alzheimer’s, so that his actions now are assumed to be lucid, while his previous actions are not?

Real Men Support Sex Worker Rights (#4)extra-stupid kristof

I really, really love it when Jacob Sullum tears into Nick Kristof:

Kristof says some…teenagers are exploited by pimps who take out…ads…on Backpage.com…He mentions two examples…[but] wisely does not include the source who claimed to have been advertised on Backpage before it existed…Kristof…is condemning Backpage because some of its customers are criminals.  Would he apply similar logic to the carmakers that produce getaway vehicles, the sporting goods stores that sell baseball bats occasionally used in vicious beatings, and the cellphone companies that help terrorists communicate with each other?  Probably not…it’s clear (as usual) that Kristof’s concern is not underage prostitution or coerced prostitution but prostitution in general…by [his] reasoning, alcohol should be prohibited because of the parallel underground market serving minors, all sexually explicit material should be banned because some of it involves children, and housework for pay should be forbidden because rich Saudis have been known to beat domestic workers and hold them against their will…

I’m Sure You Feel Safer Now

An 87-year-old man is fighting allegations he was soliciting a prostitute when he approached an undercover officer during a police sting [in Grand Rapids Michigan]…police and prosecutors say this is likely the oldest person ever charged with this crime.  Howard Arthur Klein…claimed he thought the woman he spoke to was someone he knew from church.  Nevertheless, Klein faces a maximum of 93 days in…jail if convicted…[though he] has no previous criminal record…he has pleaded not guilty…

The Pro-Rape Coalition (#316)

Lone man on a crusade manages to censor adult content on the internet by circumventing a court order.  Sound familiar?

…[An] Indian lawyer’s formal request for a nationwide ban on access to 857 specific pornographic websites was rejected by the country’s Supreme Court but appears to have been enacted by the administration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi…Kamlesh Vaswani, a lawyer who failed to persuade the Supreme Court to block online pornography, gave thanks…to [the] Prime Minister…for [ignoring]…the Supreme Court…Vaswani [said]…“pornography…is worse than Hitler, worse than AIDS, cancer or any other epidemic…It is more catastrophic than nuclear holocaust, and it must be stopped”…

Traffic Circle

It’s becoming possible for mainstream journalists to question central tenets of the “sex trafficking” religion:

…Researchers agree that labor trafficking is the leading form of human trafficking, but sex trafficking is the focus of more federal prosecutions…In 2012, the Department of Justice successfully prosecuted 138 traffickers, with 76 percent of the cases predominantly sex trafficking and 24 percent predominantly labor trafficking…

Checklist (#345)

Now useful idiots don’t even need to dial a phone to snitch!

Anyone with a smartphone can do their part in the fight against human trafficking thanks to…The GPS-based app…called Redlight Traffic.  It’s a free download designed to help police [persecute sex workers]…Greater Seattle is [pretended] to be one of the worst areas in America when it comes to human trafficking.  Police [fantasize] hundreds of children are worked every day in King County…Amin and Jessica Haq…say…their app…has helped rescue 25 children from sex traffickers…

Proof of that last statement? Oh wait, there is none, because you’re lying.

Number Puzzle (#349)brothel ad

Ah, so “flat rate” isn’t actually flat rate; no wonder the girls like it!

In [Germany]…”flat-rate”…brothels…are a familiar sight, there are at least six in Berlin alone…On an average day, six or seven girls will be working, with the numbers rising to nine or ten at weekends.  Some of them may have sex up to 20 times per shift…The women are able to refuse a customer if he is particularly unpleasant or aggressive but it’s rare.  Once in the bedroom, “extras” are negotiated by the women, who keep 100% of any further money that changes hands.  Not much is off limits, with the exception of unprotected sex…the flat-rate model works from a financial perspective because men over-estimate how many times they can have sex…From the women’s perspective, he says the guaranteed daily pay is the main lure.  Of the entrance fee, 49 euros goes to the club and 50 euros to the women…

An Example to the West (#412) 

Imagine the NOW going to bat for sex workers like this:

The National Network of Sex Workers (NNSW) and women’s rights organisations in India have expressed outrage over…Swati Maliwal calling sex work…akin to “rape” and calling for its “eradication”.  “We call on her to immediately withdraw her statement and tender an unconditional apology to the all women in sex work,”…[said] Meena Saraswathi Seshu…At a national consultation on Human Trafficking…Maliwal equated prostitution with rape and said, “It is a ‘blot’ on society which needs to be eradicated with [more violence from] the state”…

License to Rape (#502)

Charnesia Corley was…detained by [Houston] police for allegedly running a stop sign…the deputy…asked her to step out of the vehicle after “smelling what he believed to be marijuana.”  However, during a search of Corley’s vehicle, without her consent, no illegal plants were found…a…female deputy…then stripped [Corley] down in public and forcefully penetrated [her]…“I bend over and she proceeds to try to force her hand inside of me.  I tell her, ‘Ma’am, No. You cannot do this’,” Corley explained.  Corley maintains that at no time did she ever consent to be raped by deputies…

Dutch Threat (#504)

“Politicians lie” = “the sky is blue”.

Warner ten Kate, the public prosecutor [for] human trafficking in Holland…claimed there was…research that showed that 70% of the prostitutes were forced in Holland…during [a radio] interview…Kate was specifically asked about the 70% and…claimed [it came] from…research done by…Erasmus University…[but the] University never did any such research…the Sneep case [cited by Kate] also doesn’t say 70% is forced, but claims it’s 50 to 85%…Warner [says he wants]…to “stop talking about numbers”…[but] this whole debate started because he…and the police keep mentioning numbers which are pure bullshit

Acting and Activism (#559)

A group of 20 academics in the fields of law, medicine, anthropology, sociology and other fields, some of whose names have appeared on this blog before, wrote a letter to Amnesty International in support of decriminalization:

AI’s general policy is to be wary of criminal law regulating gender and sexuality…We focus on two specific issues: 1) why existing credible research supports the rejection of the so-called Nordic model…and 2) why rigorous studies on the relationship between human trafficking and the sex sector supports total decriminalization.  In particular we note empirically and analytically sound research that debunks the Nordic model and refutes claims that legalization or decriminalization of sex work will “increase” the risk of trafficking into the sex sector…

And in The Nation, Melissa Gira Grants writes:

Using the criminal law to control sex work means police are pitted against sex workers, and sex workers can pay the price with their lives…as has also been documented by Amnesty—and others, like Human Rights Watch, UNAIDS, and the World Health Organization, all of whom support the decriminalization of sex work, a stance also backed by recent research in the medical journal The Lancet.  Sex workers’ own rights groups, such as the 237 organizations in 71 countries under the Global Network of Sex Work Projects, report the same from their own experience: Criminal laws only add to the challenges…that many sex workers already face…Amnesty’s sex work proposal has drawn the ire of campaigners who support the [Swedish model]…precisely because it illustrates how these laws, marketed as compassionate towards sex workers, have exposed them to danger.  They argue for more criminalization at a time when on most other issues, the public is turning away from using the police and prisons as a solution…

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