Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Backpage’

I met Elsi Dawson at my Vancouver screening a few weeks ago, and when our conversation turned to new advertising venues she offered to do a guest column on the new site Tryst, which I have recently started an ad on myself.  I really like the way the site looks and operates, and I’m really hoping it catches on well enough that we can all start to abandon platforms which regularly invent new ways to annoy or actively hurt us while offering no customer service.

It’s been well-established that FOSTA/SESTA has shuttered, or at least, stunted many advertising platforms that are based out of the US.  While that nightmare has been felt most acutely by American sex workers, especially those in marginalized positions, the ripple effects have hurt sex workers in Canada as well.  The puritan moral panic that sought to end all sex-slavery has succeeded—if their goal was to cut the legs out from under independent sex workers and drive human trafficking underground.  Bravo.

Backpage went down, but the supply didn’t.  In Canada, the overflow moved to the next nearest website, Leolist – similar in function, but with better aesthetics and a much higher price tag.  Initially it seemed much more sex worker friendly, with the ability to verify yourself, bump your ad, purchase upgrades with premium features and navigate on a mobile platform.  But the longer you stay on Leolist, the more you notice that, even though it’s your credit card attached to the account, you’re not the client, you’re the product.  And, with all the people hustling on Backpage now looking for somewhere else to grind, Leolist found themselves running a monopoly.  A few years ago, an ad cost about $2 US, would go to the first page, scroll off onto subsequent pages until it expired thirty days later on page 16 or so.  Or, one could pay another $2 US to bring it back to the top of the list again at any time, multiple times a day.  A heavy volume day would probably be four or five bumps, and one could expect nearly a thousand views on their ad from that.  But post-FOSTA/SESTA, ads which used to be on Page 1 for an hour on a busy day, now barely last 30 minutes.  The result is a sex worker either not getting as much “primetime” ad exposure, or bumping more frequently to make up the difference.  After a small struggle (and a change of bank vendor) the prices changed to Euros, with a promise to keep the rates comparable.  In a move that surprised exactly no one, they did not.  Every few months for the past year, their rates have been climbing.  Not content with being at the top of the pile or having the most local traffic, Leolist gradually increased the cost of an ad, the cost of a bump, the cost of premium features.  Was it a move to try to starve out the scam artists and the fake ads?  Maybe, but we’ll never know because Leolist doesn’t have any interest in answering to their advertisers.  They don’t take comment or feedback, and even their Twitter is locked (after they directed people to contact them there).  The result is a frustrated group of independent sex workers who are watching their overhead costs tick up like the start of a rollercoaster, while their ads get less visibility and fewer bites.

And then there are the review boards.  In Western Canada, we have the archaic and wholly unwieldy Pacific Escort Review Board (PERB.cc) run on vBulletin (you know it’s bad when even academia has left the format behind).  On any given day, the old guard of “perberts” post degrading and vulgar comments about providers, their bodies and a scale-ten judgment of their services.  Hobbyists take nit-picky circle-jerk punches at “girls with boyfriends” and “girls who have cellulite” and “girls who think they have golden pussies.”  They routinely marvel at how providers could even dare to ask them for a deposit.  They jostle to outdo one another on their conquests and oscillate between “I think I’m going to quit this hobby” and “I can’t wait until the market pulls the prices back down and these girls get a good idea of what they’re actually worth.”  A month of all the ad posting you can eat (but only two ads a day, and posting a selfie counts as an ad, by the way) runs $113.  There are a litany of rules spread across eight different threads, with vague wording and a system of infractions, points, expirations, perbatory and permanent deletion.  A provider is allowed to comment on their own review, but not anyone else’s, and only while they’re “in red” (a bassackwards term that means “paid up” to them and no one else in the English-speaking world).  Necroposting (replying to an old thread to bring it back into discussion) is an infraction, and so is reposting (starting a new thread on a topic that has already been discussed but may have long since gone quiet).  It’s a minefield and a distraction from the day-to-day operations of running an independent sex work business.  Oh, and Leolist has exclusive rights to advertise on PERB – a cute little bromance that keeps client traffic swirling around the same toilet bowl.

Suddenly, a ray of hope appears.  Tryst.link arrives on the scene to balm our wounds and bring sanity to online marketing.  The superhero geniuses that brought us Switter (the Sex Worker Twitter, get it?!) when FOSTA/SESTA scared the other Twitter into shadow banning everyone with a visible nipple, have branched into making an advertising platform and it’s like a breath of fresh air.  Their team, Assembly Four, has put together a platform that works for the sex worker.  Do you want to set your weekly availability?  Sure. Wanna promo a tour? Here’s a drop-down menu for that.  Do you have different rates for different session types and lengths?  Go ahead and list them in as much or as little detail as you’d like.  Tryst, like Switter, has been built while avoiding the use of US companies, and prioritizing the privacy of the workers who reside on their platforms.  They ask for minimal personal information from clients (the basic username, email, and password) upon sign up.  Provider verification for Tryst is also quite standard and based on a handful of factors such as social media presence, other verified accounts, and verification photos.  They don’t ask for or require any civilian forms of ID for verification, and any information sent to them is treated with extreme sensitivity.  Tryst is rapidly gaining user profiles in Asia, Australia + NZ, Canada, Europe and – you guessed it – the United States of America.  As their traffic has increased (by 15.6x since November), they have encouraged feedback from providers and clients alike.  Since their launch, they’ve added features to better advertise genders, ethnicity, and transgender disclosure options at the suggestion of their members.  Their mission is not to be “your elite [cis white conventionally attractive woman in her mid-twenties] companion website” but to offer affordable and effective advertising with a sleek, contemporary, and user-friendly interface to sex workers at all price points and in all specializations.  This year, Tryst plans to implement a range of other features to further help workers of all demographics thrive in a post FOSTA/SESTA world.  For the first time, possibly ever, the way we advertise online is within our own control.  Solutions which cater to the needs of sex workers and still bring in clients are finally within reach.

What this development says to me is that whores are collaborating, investing in our communities, and coming back stronger than ever.  FOSTA/SESTA is devastating and terrifying, particularly for US providers, but It’s going to take more than a short-sighted and thinly-veiled prohibition/censorship bill to break us apart.  We’ve got a revolution on our hands, honey, and we’re not going anywhere.  This may be the world’s oldest profession, but we’re also gunning for the title of boldest as well.

Read Full Post »

I’m not sure what’s scarier, the idea of putting people permanently on a public list, or aggressively incentivizing hotels to pry into the sex lives of their guests.  –  Kaytlin Bailey

The More the Better

It’s so very important for celebrities to be “out” if they did sex work in their youth:

Janet Mock, the writer, television presenter, and activist, grew up in Honolulu…she fell into the protective company of a glamorous cadre of transgender friends and mentors; her seventh-grade hula teacher was a māhū, a native Hawaiian term, Mock explains, for people who live outside of the gender binary…”Merchant Street…was…where the girls worked…I first went there when I was, like, fifteen, when I was able to go out at nighttime.  At first I came with…all these puritanical views…about what it meant to use your body, your only asset, in a world that’s not taking care of you…And so I knew that, by doing this sixty-dollar hand job, I would be able to have two months of hormones.  And so I remember making the decision to get in that car and, at fifteen years old, to do this, and to continue to do this…for, like, the next two years of my life.  And that was my way into sex work…

Business As Usual

It’s the same everywhere our work is even partially criminalized:

Sex work is legal[ized] in the Dominican Republic.  But despite this, sex workers are still vulnerable to abuse—particularly at the hands of [cops], who know they can torture…sex work[ers] with impunity…A new report…by Amnesty International…“If They Can Have Her, Why Can’t We?” features interviews from 46 trans and cisgender women sex workers, all of whom report suffering horrific violence at the hands of [cops]…“At least 10 out of the 24 cisgender women interviewed for this research described having been raped by police officials, often at gunpoint…Most of the transgender women had been subjected to…violent actions by the police that could amount to torture or other ill-treatment, typically focused on their gender-identity or expression”…

Now They Notice

It’s about goddamned time:

…LGBTI activists worldwide resolved to address the stigmatisation of sex workers, including in the LGBTI movement…and [to] oppose…all forms of criminalisation and legal oppression of sex workers – an historic first for…the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association.  “By approving this resolution, our global LGBTI family is saying…that addressing violence, criminalisation and human rights violations against LGBTI and all sex workers must be a priority for our movement”, said outgoing ILGA co-Secretaries General Ruth Baldacchino and Helen Kennedy…this global LGBTI network representing more than 1,500 organisations from each region of the world join a growing number of human rights, health and anti-trafficking organisations demanding governments recognise sex work as work, and protect sex workers’ labour and human rights…

A False Dichotomy (#652)

Even in Australia, spineless “journalists” prefer to print prohibitionist pap than to consult experts:

Air Asia…decided to use “Get off in Thailand” as a campaign slogan, but considering the abundance of sexual tourism in the country, you’d think the…airline might have put a bit more thought into the reaction such a tagline would attract [from puritans].  Posted around the city of Brisbane, Australia the “Get off in Thailand” campaign promoting the airline’s direct route to Bangkok has not gone over well [with puritans].  Collective Shout, a [prohibitionist organization best known for its] campaign…against [pictures of]…women, [screeched] that the campaign was promoting sex tourism in Thailand…

“Collective Shout” has a long and infamous history of campaigning against lucrative jobs for women, including such tame & innocuous forms of sex work as bikini modeling.

The Course of a Disease (#778)

Remember that Irish prohibitionists celebrated this increase in violence vs sex workers:

Crime against sex workers has almost doubled in the two years since…Ireland adopted the “Nordic Model” on March 27 2017…[despite the warnings of] sex worker organisations [that exactly this would happen]…Statistics from UglyMugs.ie…[demon]st[r]ate that since the law came into force, the number of incidents of abuse and crime…has greatly increased…The number of sex workers using UglyMugs.ie has remained steady at between 6,000 and 7,000 per year.  The number of incidents reported from 2015-2017 was 4,278.  Since the law change, from 2017-2019, incidents rose to 10,076…crime has increased 90% whereas violent crime specifically has increased 92%…

Disaster (#885)

We did warn you dilettantes that this wouldn’t stop with actual sex workers:

Targeted online advertising by the Hump! Film Festival has been kneecapped by FOSTA/SESTA, according to festival founder Dan Savage…“Hump is largely dependent on targeted Facebook ads for ticket sales, and thanks to Facebook’s overreaction to…SESTA/FOSTA …it will not accept ads for the festival any longer, despite the fact that the ads themselves are G-rated and are only targeted at adults”…Savage notes that “Facebook no longer allows ads for, quote-unquote, adult content…as a result…we can no longer advertise on Facebook and Instagram, which Facebook also owns”…the festival’s Facebook business account was [also] “shuttered”…Savage urged listeners to follow Hump! on their social media channels and to subscribe to the festival’s official newsletter to stay up-to-date…

Elephant in the Parlor (#894)

I’ve been saying I distrusted Avenatti since the beginning:

Celebrity attorney Michael Avenatti has been arrested and charged with federal wire fraud and bank fraud in California as well as four counts of extortion in New York…Avenatti tried to extort more than $20 million from Nike…[and] embezzled a client’s money to, in part, pay off expenses for his coffee business, Global Baristas US LLC, which operated Tully’s Coffee stores…Avenatti purchased the coffee stores in 2013 with actor Patrick Dempsey, who sued Avenatti that same year to break their business partnership…prosecutors in California also accused the lawyer of defrauding a bank with phony tax returns to obtain millions of dollars in loans…

The Course of a Disease (#896)

Looks like the Spanish case of the Swedish rot may be especially virulent:

Finnish websites used by sex workers to advertise and share information with each other have been closed down following a judicial warrant by Spanish police…Sihteeriopisto (Secretary College) and the international counterpart, sexworknet, were launched in Finland but…maintenance was moved overseas when the sale of sexual services was outlawed in Finland in 2003…A sex worker in Spain said:  “The…website had [a] forum, where sex workers were sharing warnings about bad clients, robbery…There are of course other websites, but none of them has a forum.  We lost the platform…where we could communicate and support each other”…These closures follow closures of similar websites in other countries, including in the USA following FOSTA-SESTA…

You may have noticed that the cops always go for the best boards, noted for civility and sex worker forums.  This is not accidental.

Lack of Evidence (#900)

All prostitution “stings” are entrapment; that’s the whole point of them:

Dee Curry…an outspoken advocate for transgender rights in the District of Columbia for many years…said she…was arrested on Feb. 8…as part of a D.C. police “sting” operation…she considers the police tactics used to arrest her as a form of entrapment…and…a misuse of police resources…her arrest involved a…[vice pig] who posed as an Uber driver and…[offered] her…a ride…then…said…[he] wanted a blowjob for $30 and [specifically wanted to] park [next to]…a school …“I said no you’re not, not with me…And that’s when the police came”…Curry [is a former]…sex work[er who retired] after a previous arrest in 2011 in which she said she was similarly entrapped…[but] found not guilty…when the [lying pig] gave the signal, three or four police cars with flashing lights and sirens rushed to the scene, with at least two [pigs] in each of the [swinemobiles]…to arrest her…[instead of dealing with actual] crime…

Yes, cops are actually trying to press prostitution charges against a 64-year-old woman for walking down the street.  I’m sure you feel safer now.

Worse Than I Thought (#914)

A rare victory for sex workers against the state:

Florida [politicians] have for now ditched plans to create a registry of prostitution clients…after sex workers and activists showed up at the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee to protest and give testimony…A version of the legislation passed the committee without the solicitation registry included…It [still] requires that cleaning and reception-desk staff at hotels and motels be trained on spotting the “signs” of trafficking—a list of absurd and ordinary behavior that includes not wanting cleaning service—and creates new regulatory liabilities on hospitality businesses…Heather Fitzenhagen…author of the failed solicitation registry idea [was unhappy, and vomited out some lawheaded bigotry]…”a prostitute…is committing a crime…It is not my intent to work with them going forward”…

An Avalanche of Bullshit

This could potentially be very good for us:

Lawyers for…Robert Kraft…want the 77-year-old’s solicitation of prostitution case to be tried by a jury instead of a judge…Kraft…was charged [after a massive massage-parlor pogrom] along with…about 300 men…in total…Kraft rejected a plea deal in which…he…and his fellow defendants [would be forced to pretend]…they would be found guilty if their case went to trial, [pay] a $5,000 fine, [perform] 100 hours of community service…attend…a [brainwashing] class [much like the dangerous “gay conversion therapy” which has been banned in a number of states]…and be tested for sexually transmitted diseases…

A jury trial will allow the lawyers to present expert witnesses and debunking of the “sex trafficking” hysteria which drove the raids; it will allow them to dig into the money trail and present that in open court; it will provide ammunition for the lawyers of the other victims of this raid, and other raids like it; and it may inspire other men to fight.  As I’ve been saying for the past decade, if everyone charged in a “prostitution sting” would fight the charges by demanding a trial, the machine would grind to a halt and the carceral system would be forced to change its tactics.

On the Simultaneous Having and Eating of Cake (#922)

Even “legal” sex workers were harmed by FOSTA:

…HB 1756…strives to improve working conditions for strippers in Washington by implementing mandatory trainings, establishing an adult entertainer advisory committee, putting panic buttons in VIP rooms, and making a blacklist for abusive patrons…Savannah Sly, a sex worker and community organizer with Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP) Seattle, believes the organizing started after FOSTA/SESTA…[and the government destruction of]…Backpage…sent shockwaves throughout the sex worker community…”There are displaced sex workers and clients who are looking for a place to connect,” Sly told the Senate Labor & Commerce Committee…[w]hen…internet spaces for sex work…disappeared…it forced [many] sex work[ers] offline and back onto the streets…former [escort] clients, without the spaces they used to frequent, are making their way into strip clubs…

Read Full Post »

Since the beginning of the internet, politicians have been trying to get control of it.  The idea of a vast landscape completely outside of their control, where people can associate with each other from thousands of kilometers away and even transact business anonymously, with cops being powerless to stop them or even spy on them very effectively, was obviously a terrifying nightmare to sociopathic control freaks whose entire lives revolve around telling others what to do and enforcing their arbitary diktats with threats of violence.  So naturally, an attempt to destroy it was made before most people had even heard of it, much less figured out how to access it; this was the Communications Decency Act of 1996, an attempt to turn the internet into a walled garden under Congressional control.  Large portions of the Act were so blatantly unconstitutional they were struck down the following year, and the only important section to survive was the one which had exactly the opposite effect the law was intended to have:  Section 230, which immunized websites from nuisance lawsuits and megalomaniacal prosecutors alike.  Naturally, both politicians and wannabe internet cops of all types couldn’t stand that, and have been trying to overturn that immunity ever since; after years of attempts, generally pretended to be about “THE CHILDREN!!!!!TM” and always dying before passage or being executed by judges in court (again, due to their blatant unconstitutionality), they finally succeeded with FOSTA just one year ago.

Longtime readers will recall that I’ve been sounding the alarm about these attempts since the beginning of this blog; as I wrote in “The Camel’s Nose” (October 2nd, 2010): “once Big Brother has the power to shut down big hunks of the internet for one specific purpose, does anyone honestly believe that he will only use that power for the stated purpose and no other?”  Whores understand only too well what useful idiots never do: that though surveillance, censorship, criminalization of consensual behavior and other such obscenities often start with whores, they never, ever stop with us.  I wasn’t even close to the only harlot warning that laws like FOSTA would destroy the internet as we know it, and basically every single civil liberties organization and internet company were saying exactly the same thing.  This broad opposition might have prevented disaster had Facebook not betrayed every internet user on the planet in order to curry favor with Congressional censors, but that was exactly what it did and I don’t think any regular reader needs an itemized list of the damage that has already been done as a result.  Until now, all the damage has been self-inflicted, as companies eagerly castrate and/or lobotomize temselves in order to avoid liability; however, that changed last week with the filin of the first big nuisance lawsuit under FOSTA, against a company that even few “sex trafficking” fetishists would have predicted as a target:

[Shysters recruited] fifty women [as plaintiffs in a predatory lawsuit claiming that deep-pocketed]…tech giant Salesforce…help[ed] the now-shuttered website Backpage facilitate sex trafficking…The [shysters claimed the]…women…were “sexually exploited and trafficked through Backpage”…[in] New Orleans, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Seattle, Chicago and Phoenix, among others.  The lawsuit filed in San Francisco Superior Court accuses Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff of overseeing a strategy where the company claimed to be fighting trafficking but “Behind the scenes … kept taking Backpage’s money and supporting it with the CRM [customer relations management] database of pimps, johns, and traffickers that Backpage needed to operate”…

Basically, this is equivalent to suing a paper mill because lawyers claim that its paper was used to print a book that a woman claims inspired a nameless boyfriend to beat her up at some point in the past (even though there were neither witnesses nor evidence to said beating).  Such lawsuits, however flimsy, are generally settled out of court for tens of millions of dollars and are thus accepted by the hoi-polloi as “proven” even if they could never have actually won in a jury trial.  And that’s not even the worst of it; as Elizabeth Nolan Brown explained,

…Backpage and FOSTA tested the waters.  [Politicians]…are now talking about carving out more exceptions in Section 230 or abolishing it entirely.  That would allow not just any politically disfavored platforms but anyone that provided any services to them—cloud companies, payment processors, any kind of software, vendors, etc.—to be sued or charged criminally.  It could make it completely untenable for many such services to work with companies that let user-generated, social, free speech flourish.  That’s the end goal.  Don’t be fooled by the cynical “sex trafficking” spin…

The internet may survive outside of the US and be accessible to US citizens, but that would require other countries to invest in building new internet “backbones” out of the reach of power-mad US politicians, and nobody seems inclined to spend that money yet.  Until and unless they do, the internet as we know it will be gone in a very short time, replaced by something much more like cable TV than the powerful engine of free thought it has been until now.

Read Full Post »

The government has…tried to financially strangle these defendants at every turn.  –  Ariel Neuman

Droit du Seigneur

Hey, King County; maybe you should consult Matthew 7:3 for your “sex trafficking” policy:

Mark L. Norton, the superintendent of transit security…for King County Metro, was arrested…for allegedly “coercing a female to engage in commercial sex acts in King and Snohomish Counties.”  Norton…allegedly “groomed” the victim for five years while [she] was a babysitter for Norton’s children, using “emotional and psychological coercion [to] convince [her] to participate in prostitution for his benefit…the suspect operated as a pimp and pressured the victim to engage in prostitution on numerous occasions…and kept [her fees]”…ironically, King County Metro’s buses were recently covered with anti-trafficking signs as part of a [propaganda] campaign…by the…County…

What the Hell Were You Thinking? (#335)

Destroying sex workers’ safety net, one internet “improvement” at a time:

…Google could be putting [Irish sex workers] at risk by blocking key functions on an app used to warn of dangerous clients.  The tech giant decided…to include limits on call logs and SMS permission access on apps in the Google Play store…[this could cripple] an Android app called Ugly Mugs, which…has been using advanced access features since 2013…[to] screen…incoming calls and text messages to sex workers and alert…them if [the initiating] number…is in the app’s database…

He Said, She Said (#624)

A psychiatrist who has sex with patients is a fool.  A male psychiatrist who draws vulnerable female patients into kink relationships is a dangerous fool:

…psychiatrist…Keith Ablow…[is facing malpractice lawsuits from three female patients who say he] abused his position while treating them for acute depression…the…therapist…encouraged women to trust and rely on him, then coaxed them into [BDSM] sexual activities, often during treatment sessions for which they were charged…three women who worked for Ablow [also] agreed to file affidavits, included in the lawsuits…that Ablow sexually harassed them, too.  One former staffer, Amy Dixon, said she had sex with Ablow during which he would regularly hit her and that he told her he wanted a “master/slave relationship”…In all three cases, the women…relocated from other states, at Ablow’s request, to be closer to his Newburyport [Massachusetts] office where he…treat[ed them] for depression…[with] Ketamine…in conjunction with talk therapy…

Ablow, who was a consultant for Fox News for years, has been mentioned in this blog before.

To Molest and Rape

When a cop rapes kids, there’s usually at least some chance of a conviction: “…[cops from] the Cascade County [Montana] Sheriff’s Office and agents from Homeland Security [quietly] arrested [rapist pig] Virgil Wolfe on 80 counts of sexual abuse of children…

False Target (#873)

Using “gayness tests” to deport refugees spreads to the UK:

A [67-year-old] man faces deportation to Malaysia, where homosexuality is illegal, after the Home Office [claimed] it did not believe he was gay – suggesting it was suspicious that [a 67-year-old migrant] did not have a boyfriend.  Yew Fook Sam…will be persecuted and imprisoned for his sexuality if he is deported to Malaysia, where homosexual acts are punishable under federal and sometimes sharia law.  He fears he will be forced to undergo gay conversion therapy should he be returned to the country, where the opposition leader last year blamed gay people for causing earthquakes and a lesbian couple were caned publicly for having sex in a car…

Dangerous Speech (#880)

The government keeps making up new rules in its war on thought:

…federal prosecutors are arguing that they’re entitled to all money made by Backpage, even proceeds derived from unquestionably legal ads, and that decades worth of earnings made by former Backpage leaders before the website even existed are also tainted…their lawyers [state in a recent filng that] “Virtually all of the Defendants’ assets have been seized, virtually all of the money in their attorneys’ trust accounts designated to fund the defense has been been seized or is effectively frozen,” and defense lawyers “may expose themselves to criminal liability if they use those funds to pay fees” from the case…the Cato Institute, DKT Liberty Project, and the Reason Foundation…filed a brief in support of the defendants on this matter…”The government has shut down a major internet site and confiscated millions of dollars of assets and proceeds not only from that site, but also from defendants’ numerous other publishing venues—ventures completely unrelated to the alleged criminality of the site and indisputably protected by the First Amendment…The history of government efforts to suppress and censor disfavored speakers, particularly speakers who offer sexually explicit materials, is long [and has]…involved tactics…designed to bankrupt speakers by forcing them to litigate on multiple fronts to prove that their speech is protected by the First Amendment”…

Dutch Threat (#885) 

Dutch authorities are now pretending their attempts to Disnify De Wallen are really intended to help sex workers:

…the De Wallen neighborhood…could soon face [forcible gentific]ation as local government officials strive to implement a new policy, set to increase the number of sex-work permits beyond De Wallen in an attempt to p[ush] sex workers…elsewhere…the Netherlands has been increasingly [aggressive] in [selling its Disnification efforts as] combating human trafficking…the…government…shut down many coffee shops and 112 sex-worker windows…pushing many sex workers towards illegal work or abroad to Brussels…[due to increased harassment] it’s often no longer in the interest of many independent workers to be registered under Amsterdam’s Municipal Ordinance…because sex workers [are rightly concerned] that their…work might be [criminalized or they might be branded “victims” against their will]…sex workers are increasingly demanding…the ability to book clients online and work [legally]  from home…

Traffic in Nonsense (#896)

The “sex trafficking” propaganda from these fetishists is some of the most blatantly derived from sexual fantasy in the entire rescue industry:

A national group is trying to get people not to…[listen to] sex workers, but to [instead label] them as…victims of human trafficking [no matter what they say about their own lives].  The group Truckers Against Trafficking [indoctrinates] truck drivers–and others–[in] how to [project their fantasies about] modern day slavery [on other people without their consent]…Ohio has been [trying to convince people that it’s] a hotbed of human trafficking in recent years…

A Broker in Pillage (#896)

SCOTUS demolishes a major pillar of government extortion schemes:

States are bound by the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against excessive fines and fees when they seek to [steal]…assets from individuals charged or convicted of a crime, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously…It’s a decision that hands a major victory to critics of civil asset forfeiture, and it opens another avenue to legal challenges against that widely…abused…practice by which states and local governments can seize carscashhomes, and pretty much anything else…[under the pretense that it was] used to commit a crime…Timbs v. Indiana, involved the seizure of a $42,000 Land Rover…from Tyson Timbs…During oral arguments in November, Indiana’s solicitor general got boxed into a corner by Justice Stephen Breyer, who managed to twist the government’s lawyer into arguing that Indiana should be allowed to seize vehicles for as small an offense as driving 5 mph over the speed limit, which literally elicited laughter in the courtroom…

The Crumbling Dam (#901)

The law is the law and if more people die, tough shit“:

…The U.S. Department of Justice took aim…at the movement to open a supervised consumption site in Philadelphia…[with] a civil lawsuit…against Philadelphia-based nonprofit Safehouse, asking the the U.S. District Court to rule that safe injection sites violate federal law…Ronda B. Goldfein, vice president of Safehouse…said the federal government is using the “crack house” statute in the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986…[which] was [supposedly] intended to prevent businesses from profiting off drug consumption…

The Widening Gyre (#911)

I’m really happy to see Uber hoist on its own “sex trafficking” petard:

On February 19 2019, a woman shared a [fantasy of the type common in moral panics]…that a phony Uber driver in Tampa had nearly successfully abducted her for the purposes of sex trafficking…Within 48 hours, the post had been shared more than half a million times…[because of] its similarities to long-circulating urban legends involving nearly identical scenarios at locations [such] as Target, Hobby Lobby, and Walmart…police were able to verify that she did indeed get in the wrong car, but [pretended] they were perplexed as to how Hurley concluded that the mix-up was due to “sex trafficking” [despite the fact that they have themselves been spreading scare stories about “sex trafficking” for a decade now]…the car entered by Hurley was in fact a legitimate Uber driver, not an Uber impersonator.  The [hysteric] called for an Uber at the airport and appeared to have entered one of the several other Ubers not there for her…[her claim that] she “later found out” that the Uber driver was “a sex traffic worker”…[even though] police said [no]thing like that at all [is typical of the way “sex trafficking” propaganda tales are boosted by false claims of official verification]…

Pyrrhic Victory (#913) 

The fascists don’t want their surveillance powers limited by mere civil rights:

Microsoft is pushing back on a bill sponsored by a…group of Washington state [politicians] that would ban local and state governments from using facial recognition until certain conditions are met…Microsoft has endorsed a [much weaker]…bill…[with largely cosmetic] facial-recognition rules…Shankar Narayan, director of the technology and liberty project of the ACLU’s Washington chapter, says requiring public notice of face recognition won’t check its use, and he warns that authorities [will] use the “emergency” exception as a loophole. “Microsoft’s bill has us heading to a world where face surveillance is ubiquitous and the norm,” Narayan says…

Read Full Post »

Diary #452

I thought last week seemed slower than it should’ve been, since the snow was over and the weather is warming up.  So I checked my Eros ad, and discovered that it was not online because someone over there decided my ad (which has been on the site in much the same form for years) violated some of their new and ever-changing “publishing standards”.  This has become the new normal for US escorts; all of our advertising sites are being murdered, committing suicide, dropping dead of sheer terror or else lobotomizing or castrating themselves.  Eros is in the latter category; although it has periodically installed some new and ninnyish changes over the past few years, ever since FOSTA it has gone completely bonkers, inventing new and increasingly-incomprehensible rules and then declining ads for failing to adhere to them, yet refusing to tell advertisers what rule was broken other than “it’s a picture” or “it’s text”.  So all one can do is to guess, make changes based on the guess, resubmit the ad and then wait a day or two for Eros to either post it or decline it again.  I’ve been watching friends deal with this for the past year, and I reckon it was finally my turn; luckily, I’m a good guesser and got it right in only two tries (taking almost a week).  If you’ve had this problem yourself and can’t understand why they won’t tell you what’s going on, I suggest you familiarize yourself with both the text of FOSTA and the prosecution’s rhetoric in the Backpage persecution.  The law now prohibits “knowing” faciltation of sex work, and the government has claimed that Backpage’s telling advertisers WHICH words and pictures were prohibited constitute “knowing” facilitation (this is phrased as “Backpage told pimps how to disguise their sex trafficking ads”).  So Eros is whistling past the graveyard, thinking that the government won’t simply change the rules again when they feel like it.  And the sooner I can broaden my media exposure to the point where Eros (and every other ad platform) is superfluous to my income generation, the happier I’ll be.

Read Full Post »

Hotel…staff are being told to imagine that sex slavers lurk behind every pair of big sunglasses.  –  Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Wise Investment 

Even though we’re going to lose many of these, lawsuits are for the present our best weapon against prohibitionists:

A Colorado industrial hemp company filed a federal lawsuit…against the Idaho State Police after its 6,701 pound shipment was seized during a stop in Boise…The company’s driver was…arrested for…trafficking marijuana from a farm in Oregon to a distribution center in Colorado…the seizure and arrest were both unlawful due to the 2018 federal farm bill and that the goods being transported were hemp and not marijuana…Both plants fall under the cannabis family, though Congress approved the industrial use of hemp last year in products such as clothing, biofuel, building materials and paper…a…spokes[pig bloviated that]…Idaho law recognizes both hemp and marijuana as illegal…[but] “The 2018 Farm Bill prohibits states from blocking the transportation of industrial hemp in interstate commerce…states cannot prohibit the shipment of a legal good through interstate commerce”…

The More the Better 

Every debunking of anti-whore BS helps:

Misha Mayfair, a former cam girl turned porn performer…struggles with the discord between what she sees in the media, and what she experiences on a day-to-day basis.  “People really have this strange, falsified fantasy world that they think porn exists in,” she tells me. “They think it operates in this world where Taken has happened: they imagine that it’s all blonde girls who have been dumped into car boots and stolen by local Albanian men… It’s like: do I live in the same reality as everyone?”  Mayfair debunks some of the most frustrating myths she’s come across so far…

The Missing Word 

That word appears only in a tag hidden way down at the bottom:

The Telegraph talked to 22 Nepali and Bangladeshi employees of Karex’s condom and catheter factories…Despite the products they produce being supplied to some of the world’s biggest and most “ethically conscious” brands, all told similar stories…workers were living in cramped and undignified conditions, housed up to 12 in a room in damp and unhygienic dormitories.  For £9 a month deducted from their wages, workers in Pontian received half of a steel bunkbed – but no mattress – a piece of string on the grimy wall for a wardrobe, access to a filthy, broken toilet, and a kitchen consisting of two gas burners…In Port Klang, a dormitory of 12 workers seen by the Telegraph was more hygienic, but still devoid of basic facilities.  In one corner stood a makeshift dining table crafted out of scrap plywood, with upturned buckets as chairs…Karex produces five billion condoms a year, accounting for roughly 15 per cent of the world market.  It has a turnover of nearly £70 million and it’s senior director, Goh Siang, is listed as one Malaysia’s richest men…On the company website, a corporate video claims the firm is “helping humanity one condom at a time”.  It describes itself as a “champion social responsibility and sustainability”…

Schadenfreude (#766)

“Elijah Rising” profits from anti-sex hysteria by taking busloads of yokels around Houston to gawk at street workers and the outsides of strip clubs:

…Elijah Rising…lead[s an] hours-long [expedition to annoy sex workers]…once-a-month…[one of them fantasized] “A lot of these women here are being trafficked…They came over (from Asia) and they were expecting a job…But now because of the papers they have, the person who brought them here is kind of in control of that whole situation.”  Vanessa Forbes, inter[ference] coordinator at Elijah Rising, said…”Everyone goes out of their way to find the missing 17-year-old suburban white girl, but let’s talk about the women who are here in the middle of our neighborhoods who [do really mundane work]…They are hidden in plain sight.  They are [not] overlooked [by cops looking for low-hanging fruit].”  While efforts by community groups to bring [foment hysteria around imaginary] human trafficking…have been successful…not all law enforcement believe the [propaganda they’re continually fed]…

Most of the story is just pigs oinking about their fascist collaborations with private companies and other pig gangs.

Disaster (#844)

I love seeing tyrants hoist by their own petard.  Due to the omniprevalence of the “sex trafficking” paradigm, cops are forced to call ordinary street work “sex trafficking” and thereby admit the dismal failure of prohibition:

Violent crime is way down in San Francisco…But…police recorded a 170 percent jump in reports of human trafficking in 2018.  The huge spike appears to be connected to the federal shutdown of sex-for-sale websites…But [using prohibitionist lies that] Backpage was linked to sex trafficking of underage girls, [politicians] in Washington voted almost unanimously to [give themselves the long-desired power to censor the internet]…“It has suddenly re-empowered this whole underclass of pimps and exploiters,” said Pike Long, deputy director of St. James Infirmary…Long estimates the number of street-based sex workers has tripled…

The article also features a spokespig making the outrageous lie that “abatement” means helping the thing that is supposed to be “abated”.

Quite Possibly the Most Uptight Nerd Ever (#867)

Yet another “Uber for escorts” app; I’ve never heard a single good thing about any of these:

Escort booking app Smooci is finally coming to the UK…London will be the seventh city in which it operates…[starting] on 14 February.  Other cities…include Hong Kong, Bangkok, Singapore and Manilla.  Currently the only European city covered is Berlin (and there are only three escorts registered there so far) but Amsterdam will also follow suit with its own launch in February.  The app promises to make escorting safer for both parties, using a two-way rating system…Buyers can see when escorts are available, check their ratings, chat to them and negotiate service requirements…Smooci does not take a cut from the transactions.  Instead it’s primarily by a premium membership tier, functioning in a similar way to many dating apps…

Micromanagement (#881)

Any new technology which can be used to spy on you, will be:

Family Tree DNA, one of the largest private genetic testing companies whose home-testing kits enable people to trace their ancestry and locate relatives, is working with the FBI and allowing agents to search its vast genealogy database…Federal and local [cops]…have used public genealogy databases for more than two years to solve cold cases, including the landmark capture of the [cop who was the] Golden State Killer, but the cooperation with Family Tree DNA and the FBI marks the first time a private firm has agreed to voluntarily allow [pigs to root through] its database…

Hard Numbers (#884)

Another Australian state moves toward decriminalization:

July 3 this year will be the 30th anniversary of the release of the final report from the Fitzgerald Inquiry, a judicial inquiry that found systemic corruption among Queensland Police in relation to organised sex work…The now infamous report concluded that arguments by police for special powers and a sex work-related police squad were unjustified.  Yet, 30 years later, Queensland Police…still ha[ve]…extreme powers in relation to sex work…Imagine running an independent business where it’s illegal to contact a colleague to let them know a client has arrived or left.  It’s also illegal to work with another colleague, employ a receptionist to manage your calls, use a driver that a colleague recommends, or describe the services you provide in your advertising…Every day we choose between working  safely or legally…Police look through sex worker advertising…searching for an incorrect word or banned acronym.  Finding such a breach triggers their ability to gain a warrant, set up a stingpose as a client, make a booking, turn up at a sex workers’ workplace,  pressure sex workers to agree to sex without condoms or other protection, and seek evidence for further charges.  The evidence they are looking for includes: text messages to other workers about clients or bookings, proof of assisting colleagues with advertising, evidence of a receptionist, or the sharing of phones or accommodation…

Pyrrhic Victory (#885) 

As long as cops suffer no consequences for disobedience, laws like this are mere political grandstanding:

Municipal [politicians] in San Francisco unveiled an ordinance proposal…that, if passed, would make the city the first in the country  to completely ban government use of facial recognition systems.  The bill would also establish an audit system for agencies acquiring any surveillance technologies.  “The propensity for facial recognition technology to endanger civil rights and civil liberties substantially outweighs its purported benefits, and the technology will exacerbate racial injustice and threaten our ability to live free of continuous government monitoring,” the proposed legislation reads…

A Mound of Filth (#907) 

“Cuckoo Clock” McCain’s creepy, racist BDSM fantasies are getting out of control:

Cindy McCain was heard in a radio interview…claiming she stopped a human trafficking incident at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, but Phoenix police has debunked that claim…“I spotted…a woman of a different ethnicity than the child…[so] I went over to the police and told them what I saw, and they went over and questioned her, and, by God, she was trafficking that kid.”  McCain [also fantasized] that she discovered the woman was waiting for the man who bought the child to arrive from his flight…Phoenix police said…that while [cops] did respond to the Jan. 30 call…they were able to determine “there was no evidence of criminal conduct or child endangerment”…

In McCain’s world, mixed-race families deserve to be harassed by cops for making racists uncomfortable.

Signs (#909) 

The unsinkable Liz Brown with a deep dive into hotel “sex trafficking” surveillance:

…the surveillance tactics that have been adopted by hotel chains are part of a disturbing partnership between hospitality businesses, federal law enforcement, and rent-seeking nonprofits that increasingly seeks to track the movements and whereabouts of people, especially women, all over the country.  Under pressure from the federal government and driven by persistent myths about the nature and prevalence of sex trafficking, hotel chains like Marriott have become the new frontiers of the surveillance state.  Like the indiscriminate spying campaigns that grew out of the 9/11 attacks, it’s an effort based on panic, profiling, and stereotypes, and it is nearly certain to ensnare more innocents than it helps…these efforts have largely wound up as law-enforcement-driven attacks on sex workers and their clients, on immigrants, and on other members of marginalized communities…Many of these efforts fall under the purview of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) “Blue Campaign,” which has been in place since 2010…as an update to the war-on-terror surveillance systems developed under the George W. Bush administration.  It relies on tactics adapted from “If You See Something, Say Something“…

Stupor Bowl (#909)

As the myth implodes, you’ll see ever more rats deserting this sinking ship:

Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields said that…claims of multiple sex trafficking arrests in the city of Atlanta during that period were not…true…the Department of Homeland Security announced that 33 people had been arrested for sex trafficking in the Atlanta area.  When asked about those arrests…Shields was far more particular with her wording. She pointed out that the APD works with the FBI on the Match Task Force to arrest sex [workers]…on a year-round basis…”it was not sex trafficking victims in Metro Atlanta, because I think that label is unfairly applied to this city”…

A Woman’s Point of View (#910) 

More on the new organization “Decriminalize Sex Work”:

In response to the new federal law that resulted in widespread censorship of websites…a new national organization has formed to repeal this law and decriminalize sex work nationwide.  The mission of Decriminalize Sex Work – a new national organization with offices in AustinNew York City, and  Washington DC – is “to end the prohibition of prostitution in the United States.”  The…national strategy is to inform the public about the harms caused by prohibition, with a focus on lobbying state governments to remove penalties for adult prostitution and all other forms of consensual sex work if conducted in private… “Dozens of allied organizations are already doing great work advocating for decriminalization,” said Kaytlin Bailey, communications director for Decriminalize Sex Work. “What makes our organization different is that Donald Trump’s new law inspired a California philanthropist to donate sufficient seed money to pay for a full-time staff and lobbying firms”…

Read Full Post »

Prophecy is not an exact business.  –  “Cassandra’s Mirror

My January 2012 prediction on the future of sex trafficking hysteria was right on schedule up until 2017, and then, unfortunately, started to fray and become more difficult to interpret (as so often happens with prophecy).  On the one hand, articles critical of the hysteria have become far more common, just as I originally predicted, and the passage of FOSTA seems to have served as a bucket of cold water on a large number of American journalists; it’s now not at all unusual to see articles calling for decriminalization, attacking the War on Whores and even openly labeling the moral panic as a scam intended to justify censorship of the internet and persecution of sex workers and our clients, families and associates.  It is clear even to many of the stupider members of our society (including some cops) that the intentional destruction of Backpage has harmed sex workers, driven many of us to the street, and dramatically increased violence, and the increasing absurdity of “sex trafficking” scary tales involving litter and meaningless non-incidents at retail outlets has forced even cops to deny some of the more extreme and idiotic elements of the mythology.  The “Super Bowl sex trafficking” myth is all but dead, and it’s now relatively safe for politicians to support decriminalization.  Unfortunately, the US government, billionaire sociopaths like Swanee Hunt, and Hollywood nitwits like Ashley Judd and Ashton Kutcher continue to double down on the fading hysteria, expending huge sums of money and investing their considerable influence on the Very Stupid to artificially prolong the moral panic beyond its natural shelf-life.  One year ago today I wrote (quoting myself from a year earlier):

by [2020] ([2021] at the outside), we’ll be able to get through a day without having to hear fetishists like Nick Kristof non-consensually foisting their nasty wanking fantasies of gang-raping traumatized 13-year-olds in bondage upon us.  Cops and politicians may still prattle about it for a while, but once they realize nobody actually cares any more, that will soon fade away…it may take a year or two longer than I originally predicted, so let’s say…around the end of 2021).  And…remember that even after the moral panic is over, “the laws spawned by the panic will still exist and will continue to be used to destroy the lives of sex workers and our clients and families until decriminalization is achieved a decade or two from now…

I’m still confident in that prediction; already we’re starting to see a few cops and politicians drifting away from the “sex trafficking” myth to return to the malodorous bosom of the “criminal whore” myth.  And while the latter is just as conducive to oppression of sex workers as the former, it’s also far less effective in bamboozling the large number of people who understand that government has no place in the private lives of individuals.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »