Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Backpage’

The [only Super Bowl-related] surge was in cops and busybodies looking for something to do.  –  J.D. Tuccille

Safe Targets

In the US, the victim would’ve been arrested as well:

A woman and her two accomplices, who tried to blackmail a sex worker and extort money from her customer, were arrested by [Hyderabad] police…Moina Nayeeda…established a fake NGO…and…went to the house of Sabha, a sex worker…and told her that she was in financial trouble and want to make some money by prostitution.  Then Sabha arranged a customer one Jaheer…Nayeeda came to Sabha’s place along with her brother Sohail and some others…After entering the house, Nayeeda closed the doors with the customer inside and shouted loudly about the illegal acts going on there.  Nayeeda’s brother Sohail and others rushed to the house and threatened the owner of the house and the client saying they were from an NGO and would file a complaint against their illegal activities…

Barbie

This article contains no new info, but it’s of interest for the selection of Lilli cartoons:  “So it turns out Barbie’s original design was based on a German adult gag-gift escort doll named Lilli.  That’s right, she wasn’t a dentist or a surgeon, an Olympian gymnast, a pet stylist or an ambassador for world peace. And she certainly wasn’t a toy for little girls…Lilli cartoons

A Tale That Grew in the Telling

WTF, Vice?  Seriously?  You’re back to spreading “sex trafficking” myths again?  Make up your minds whose side you’re on, you sleazebags:

There are 20-30 million victims of human trafficking living in the world today.  These modern slaves cost an average $90-a-head…human trafficking is the third largest international crime industry, generating profits of around $32 billion each year…This January was National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month…we asked three organizations fighting trafficking about how things have progressed over the last few years, as well as what steps we can take to actually eradicate the practice…

This is your periodic reminder that one of the big wheels at Equality Now, one of the orgs included here, is a former prosecutor who resigned in disgrace after she was caught railroading innocent men for rape.

The Pro-Rape Coalition 

I’m not sure who’s stupider:  the idiots who claim that porn will replace whores, or this moron who claims that porn increases our business:

A Utah state senator is taking a stand against pornography, blaming skin flicks for creating a “sexually toxic environment,” increasing the demand for prostitution and ruining families.  Sen. Todd Weiler…is…asking that the state recognize that porn is creating a public health hazard…The politician [fantasized]…that porn was more addictive than powerful drugs, and the public needed to start seeing adult films as a national epidemic.  “I have read books and I have experts tell me pornography is more difficult to overcome than cocaine,” he said…He said he hopes to shift the public opinion on [pictures he doesn’t like] the same way it has on cigarettes…”These are scientific facts, just like global warming”…

A presume he envisions an anti-porn firewall around Salt Lake City, or something.

Surplus Women 

Butterfly (Asian and Migrant Sex Workers Support Network) mourns the death and honours the memory of Tammy Le…[who] was found dead early morning on January 23rd at a hotel in Hamilton [Ontario]…Following the murders of Jiali Zhang and Evelyn Bumatay Castillo, she is the third Asian sex worker in Hamilton and Mississauga to be murdered within the past two years.  Violence against Asian sex workers is a direct result of repressive laws and a climate of hatred towards sex workers and sex work…Since December…six sex workers – also members of Butterfly – have been arrested, detained or deported.  Sex workers with legal immigration status have been charged and harassed arbitrarily by city police.  These conditions encourage sex workers to work and live in isolation and to avoid mainstream services and protections.  They encourage a targeting of migrant sex workers and create a climate of impunity for predators who are aware of the vulnerabilities migrant sex workers face because of criminalization and their risk of deportation…

See No Evil 

A slight glimmer of sanity in the totally mad world of “child pornography” prosecution:

Jack Weinstein, a federal judge in New York City who for years has criticized penalties for…child pornography as excessively rigid and harsh, was recently called upon to sentence a man who had pleaded guilty to possessing two dozen photos and videos.  The federal sentencing guidelines recommended a prison term of six-and-a-half to eight years.  Instead Weinstein sentenced the defendant—identified by his initials, R.V.—to time served (five days), a fine, and seven years of supervised release.  “The applicable structure does not adequately balance the need to protect…juveniles…against the need to avoid excessive punishment, with resulting unnecessary cost to defendants’ families and the community, and the needless destruction of defendants’ lives,” Weinstein wrote in a 98-page explanation of his reasons for departing so dramatically from the guidelines…

They Still Don’t Get It

This truly bizarre article uses the arrest of two petty thieves who also did sex work as a springboard to launch into…well, see for yourself:

Chloe Marie Schutz…and Cynthia Leshay Reichow…were arrested Tuesday and charged with burglary.  Reichow was also charged with prostitution…prostitution in Idaho pale in comparison to neighboring states — in 2010, Utah reported 414 arrests for prostitution, Nevada documented 3,738 and Idaho reported 13…In September, the Washington Supreme Court ruled in favor of three girls who sued Backpage.com after they were sold as prostitutes on the site*…More than 70,000 people are arrested for prostitution each year in the U.S., costing taxpayers an estimated $200 million.  Seventy percent are female prostitutes and madams, 20 percent are male prostitutes and pimps, and just 10 percent are johns, or clients.  About 40 percent of prostitutes are former child prostitutes who were illegally forced into the profession through human trafficking**…Sgt. Bryan Lovell…said drug use is common…[and fantasized that]…runaway girls…are pimped out and then dumped off in eastern Idaho…

*No, it didn’t.  **No, they aren’t.

Feeding On Their Own

Much more of this, please:

Migrant children in the government’s care were placed in U.S. homes and left vulnerable to human trafficking due to sometimes nonexistent screening by the Department of Health and Human Services, according to a congressional report…HHS failed to run background checks on the adults in the sponsors’ households, failed to visit sponsors’ homes and failed to realize some sponsors were accumulating multiple unrelated children, which can be a sign of human trafficking.  Some lawmakers contend that the government weakened its child-protection policies as it was overwhelmed by tens of thousands of children crossing the border…HHS officials declined to fully answer many of the senators’ questions…saying they did not have the legal authority from Congress to follow up on the children…

Monsters Monica Loera

The nation’s first reported murder of a transgender person in 2016 is…Monica Loera of Austin [Texas]…Loera…was…reportedly involved in sex work…In the wake of her death, Loera was misgendered by both police and the media, referred to by masculine pronouns and her birth name…

Stupor Bowl

I figured I’d wind up this year’s “trafficking bowl” coverage with a couple of debunkings; the first one is from J.D. Tucille & quotes me directly:

…That term–not “prostitution,” but “trafficking”—is a deliberate choice, selected to confuse people…44 percent [of Americans now] favor…legalization of prostitution…That’s up from 38 percent…in 2012…Opponents of commercial sex find themselves on the wrong side of shifting public opinion, so they pull a little rhetorical sleight of hand to get around that inconvenient word “consensual”…”Coercion is much rarer than ‘trafficking’ fetishists pretend it is,” insists Reason contributor and former call girl Maggie McNeill.  “The term ‘trafficking’ is used to describe many different things along a broad spectrum running from absolutely coercive to absolutely not coercive, yet all of them are shoehorned into a lurid, melodramatic and highly-stereotyped narrative.”  Evidence for McNeill’s take is apparent in the difficulty authorities often have in convincing the trafficking “victims” they rescue that they’re in need of heroic intervention into their lives…And government officials and anti-trafficking activists are poised to rescue a wave of such trafficking “victims” when the Super Bowl comes to town.  Once they convince them that they’re victims, that is…

The other, from Dr. Marty Klein, (perhaps unintentionally) paraphrases me without attribution:

…Simple economics would explain why event-specific trafficking rarely happens: it makes no sense for traffickers to spend huge amounts of money dragging victims across the country, housing them, advertising for business, and charging reduced rates to undercut local prostitutes, all for a single weekend of illicit income—in a place crawling with law enforcement…

Check Your Premises (#422)

Under Swedish-flavored criminalization, underage boys are claimed to have more sexual agency than adult women of any age:

Visalia [California] police, working with the FBI…arrested eight suspected female prostitutes, along with their suspected pimp — a 17-year-old Fresno boy.  The women…range in age from 18 to 47…the teenage boy…[was] described as a pimp and “one of the main players in this operation”…some of the women appeared to be victims of human trafficking…they didn’t want to engage in prostitution but “they’re being forced by pimps to go that route”…the women were arrested [anyhow] because…they reportedly broke the law…

Consider that both these cops and the reporter parroting this idiocy are supposedly rational adults.

Eternal Vigilance

Until prohibition is itself outlawed, decriminalization of any consensual activity is at best a temporary respite:

The Labour Party’s “shock, horror” response to the exposure of a growing sex-for-rent trend amongst some landlords and tenants is ironic given Labour was [pivotal in achieving decriminalization in New Zealand]…says [an anti-sex worker] group…Stop Demand Foundation…notes that [politician Ruth] Dyson and her colleagues have been avid supporters of decriminalising and destigmatising the sale and purchase of sexual services…Stop Demand…supports the Nordic model of prostitution…and…notes that if New Zealand had followed the Nordic model…these landlords could be prosecuted [for consensual sexual arrangements]…

Choke Point (#593) 

Lux Alptraum on financial discrimination vs sex businesses:

…frustrated with the high rate of chargebacks related to porn sites (…likely due to shame-induced buyer’s remorse on the part of porn consumers), Visa and MasterCard made the decision to classify adult sites as “high risk,” and require anyone hoping to process payments for adult content to pay an upfront registration fee, plus annual renewal every year after…this might seem like nothing more than an annoying additional expense, one easily borne by any successful business.  But in practice, it provided payment processors with a license to discriminate against anyone working in sex—even in situations that have nothing to do with their work.  Shortly after the Visa/MasterCard announcement, PayPal announced that it would no longer be processing payments for anyone tied to sex…dig into the TOS of virtually any popular digital payment platform, and…you’ll find some sort of ban on adult content and services…There are mainstream payment processors are slightly more adult friendly…but oftentimes these processors are obscure, complicated to use, and much shadier than their competitors.  It can be difficult to get a client to connect their bank account to a payment platform they’ve never heard of, and it’s hard to feel comfortable using a service that could easily shut down overnight, taking whatever money that might be owed to you with them as they cut and run…

Read Full Post »

[Under universal criminality] the cop becomes a law unto himself, with the ability to criminalize or wholly dehumanize any individual at will.
–  Steve MartinotJason Foster

License to Rape

Cops raping sex workers is so ubiquitous, non-cop rapists often pose as cops to facilitate the crime:

A [Maine] mechanic who pretended to be an undercover [cop] to [rape] prostitutes…will spend more than eight years in prison…Jason Foster was…also sentenced to seven years of suspended prison time…Foster claimed he was just a paying prostitution customer…[he] must also register for life as a sex offender.

Universal Criminality

The only flaw in this otherwise-excellent essay is that the author buys into the “pimp” myth:

…around 70% of all prisoners in the US are convicted of victimless crimes…the person charged with a crime has harmed no one.  Some might say they harm themselves, but each individual would have to be involved in any discussion of whether that were true or not.  Regardless, they are thrown in prison…those convicted of victimless crimes are themselves the victims…of the victimless crime law system.  The mythology of imprisonment is that all those in prison are violent offenders, “bad guys” who need to be taken off the streets for the safety and security of the average person.  If 70% of all prisoners are there for victimless crimes, then this is worse than a myth.  It is a malicious lie…

The Widening Gyre

“Sex trafficking terrorists”.  Because one moral panic at a time isn’t enough any more.

There are terrorists in the United States who actively seek victims for their sex trafficking businesses.  According to Shared Hope International, this enterprise is booming.  The market for human beings is profitable…Sex traffickers target children as young as 11 years old.  Moreover, younger boys and girls are also subject to these predators…over 100,000 children…are bought, sold, and rented every year…It is, in fact, considered “a form of modern-day slavery…The terrorists in the U.S. are not only those the media discusses daily, but they are also the sex traffickers who are active in their pursuit of victims.  These terrorists are pimps and they are not always strangers…

Shifting the Blame (#33)

Long-time readers may recall that I said this almost four years ago:

Disgraced former Suffolk County Police Chief James Burke…stymied the FBI’s investigation into the Gilgo Beach serial-killings for years…Burke…refused to keep the feds in the loop on the unsolved murders of eight women, a man and a toddler on or near the beach…because he learned he was in the FBI’s cross hairs for assaulting Christopher Loeb…a handcuffed suspect who swiped items from his vehicle— including pornography and sex toys…[Burke] then tried to cover up the assault…Suffolk Police Commissioner Tim Sini announced that the FBI would now play a major role in the Gilgo Beach cold case…

That Old Black Magic

No sillier than the anti-sex propaganda favored by Western charlatans:

A “spiritualist” in Ghana named Mallam Ya Wadudu asserts that tattoos can cause “homosexuality and prostitution”…he said, “The snakes, lions, scorpions, frogs and other animal symbols they put on themselves all have spiritual meanings.  Those who put the symbols on their bodies have to be delivered from the influence of the spirits in the symbols.”  He firmly believes tattooing such symbols onto your body will lead to demonic possession…side effects may include homosexuality, alcoholism, or prostitution…

Drawing Lines

The mental gymnastics on display here would be truly Olympian if they weren’t so wholly clownish:

…Whether or not Sugar dating resembles “prostitution,” this tired argument is outdated and hardly applicable in the modern world.  Not only does it neglect the nuance and idiosyncrasies that exist in the world of Sugar dating, but it also assumes that, in the general population, only two types of intimate relationships exist: ones that include money and ones that do not…the phenomenon of the Girlfriend-Experience (GFE) is an example of the growing similarity and fusion between sexual and marriage markets.  To an onlooker, a GFE in action appears identical to any other dating scenario, but with the added certainty that…sex will be included somewhere in the evening’s antics.  And the woman will be compensated…the [sugar baby]…is more than a sex object – and her Sugar Daddy is more than an ATM.  To call Sugar dating prostitution is to reduce the individuals involved to one-dimensional stereotypes, when life is much more complicated and interesting than that…

Do you think we ought to tell “Sara-Kate” that GFE is a prostitution term?

Saving Them From Themselves (#428) 

Consensual crime laws enable predators, part umpteen:

Police Detective David Edward Abbott, a member of the Northern Virginia-Washington D.C. Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, committed suicide…before law enforcement could arrest him on suspicion of sexually abusing minors.  Abbott…was the detective [who]…sought a warrant to take [a] 17-year-old male…to the hospital, inject him with a drug that would give him an erection, photograph his genitals, and compare the photo with existing pictures of his genitals the police had confiscated from his 15-year-old girlfriend’s phone.  The teen was eventually sentenced to one year of probation…Abbott sued the teen’s lawyer for defamation.  The lawyer, Jessica Foster, remarked to the media that the warrant to take pornographic pictures of her client–to be used as evidence that he was guilty of creating child pornography–was “crazy”…Abbott said the comments caused him severe emotional distress; he claimed he was threatened and called a pedophile…Abbott…had inappropriate contact with two young boys, ages 11 and 13…

Worse Than I Thought (#536)

And you can bet they’re going to get help from civil liberties groups:

Following a First Amendment victory against meddling Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart…Backpage.com is now taking on the federal government.  On December 11, the company filed a civil action against U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, claiming that the…SAVE…Act…is unconstitutionally vague, overbroad, and infringes on First Amendment rights.  The…Act added “advertising” a victim of sexual exploitation to the list of thing that can trigger a sex-trafficking charge, meaning that user-generated ad platforms such as Backpage and Craigslist could find themselves facing the same charges as someone who forces someone else into prostitution—regardless of whether the platform knew anything about the ad.  It also stipulated a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence (up to life imprisonment)…A wide swath of free-speech and civil-liberties advocates opposed the SAVE Act…[warning]  that [its] reach wouldn’t just extend to Backpage but also social media such as Facebook and Twitter, online dating websites, and apps such as Tinder and Grindr…

Bait and Switch (#545)

If you’ll look back at what I’ve previously reported on Grady Judd, I’m sure you can guess what kind of tactics were used to entrap these people so Judd could destroy their lives for his self-aggrandizement:

A five-day human trafficking undercover operation in Polk County netted 95 arrests…The suspects range in age from 15 to 68 years old…Detectives filed 21 felony charges and 111 misdemeanor charges…“We’ve seen firsthand the negative social costs of how prostitution hurts families, children, and communities.  And more often than not, there is a high correlation between other crimes and prostitution,” Polk Sheriff Grady Judd [vomited onto reporters]. “There is also a direct nexus between prostitution and human trafficking, and we are committed to identifying victims of human trafficking and getting them into [brainwashing] programs and out of lives of crime.”

Good Fantasy, Bad Reality (#578)

Because the government can’t find imaginary “sex slave rings”, it creates criminals in order to uphold its narrative:

…FBI agents…devised an undercover operation targeting…individuals…pursuing [an extreme BDSM]…fantasy…four individuals were…willing to pay thousands of dollars for a sex slave…The four…were indicted on human trafficking charges between December 2013 and May 2014.  They all pled guilty, and in September 2015, an Arizona federal judge sentenced them to prison terms ranging from seven to nine years…[Agent Ryan] Blay said…“We didn’t want to wait until there were actual victims.”

It’s a sign of how badly US “justice” has deteriorated that the agent sees nothing wrong with that chilling final statement.

Between the Lines

Here’s a firsthand account of what it’s like to be targeted by an “Operation Cross-Country” sting (video courtesy of Tara Burns):

Fallen Idol

A porn studio has published a performers’ bill of rights in the aftermath of the sexual assault allegations against porn actor James Deen, which have driven the adult industry to reexamine some of the on-set concerns surrounding the issue of performer consent…Angie and Colin Rowntree, long-time adult film veterans who operate sssh.com (a porn for women site) and Wasteland.com (a BDSM site), instituted their studio’s first formalized “On-set Policies And Best Practices” document…Sssh and Wasteland said they are taking their current principles and making them crystal clear for all parties.  According to Angie Rowntree, the document, which is now publicly available on their site, “is going to be an ongoing process” and will evolve as new potential concerns pop up…

Seizing Power (#593)

NPR has parroted government “sex trafficking” propaganda for years, but writing about this issue without mentioning Dart’s smackdown by a federal court is a remarkably revealing display of the organization’s total disregard for the truth:

Across the country, law enforcement is cracking down on sex trafficking of minors by going after online escort ads.  Five years ago, Craigslist was pressured to shut down its adult-services forum.  The new target is Backpage.com — Visa and MasterCard stopped processing transactions with Backpage this summer.  Some in the sex industry are getting around that by using the virtual currency bitcoin.  That’s the latest adaptation by an industry used to getting creative to avoid detection…Cook County Illinois Sheriff Tom Dart called a news conference to announce a victory this summer…Backpage…is fighting back.  It’s suing Sheriff Dart and making its ads free…

Read Full Post »

There are no reliable statistics on which Sheriff Dart could base a judgment that sex trafficking has been increasing in the United States.  –  Richard Posner

Surplus Women 

Why do reporters either focus on or try to entirely avoid saying a crime victim was a sex worker?

A Missouri man has been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of a woman he allegedly met on Facebook…Stassie Greer also faces charges of first-degree robbery and two counts of armed criminal action in the death of 25-year-old Sharae Bradford…she was shot in the head.  Money and a cellphone were taken.  Court documents say Greer arranged through social media to meet Bradford at the apartment to have sex in exchange for money…video surveillance helped lead police to Greer, and Bradford’s phone was found at his home.  Bradford was a single mother with a 6-year-old daughter.

Small Choice

Imagine the headline “Many NK defectors resort to better-paying jobs in South“:

A considerable number of female defectors from North Korea have become sex workers here after experiencing difficulties adjusting to life in the South…KBS…aired a program…about the plight of some 40 to 50 female defectors who work at…coffee shops that illegally sell sex…The women said that they used to work at normal companies or work as waitresses in restaurants after they defected, but their monthly salaries of some 1.3 to 1.7 million won was not enough to maintain their livelihood and support their family members left behind in the North.  “It is much better to earn some 3 to 4 million won here,” a woman told the program…

Checklist

Proving that stupidity & gullibility are no barriers to becoming a physician, two gynecologists wrote an exceedingly dumb and inflammatory article about – you guessed it – “signs” of “sex trafficking”, in which they suggest their fellows should waste their valuable time asking patients about their tattoos and prying into their privacy instead of actually treating their gynecological complaints.  Among the “signs” they list: “Often, there may not be a concrete sign at all – just the counter-transference of a feeling…of…sadness throughout your conversation“…Yes, “sadness” is now considered evidence of “sex trafficking”.

Leviathan

Any government so big, sluggish and cumbersome that it does this, is too big to be allowed to exist:

A militant who fought for the Taliban in Afghanistan and has been held without charge at Guantanamo Bay for 13 years was largely the victim of mistaken identity, according to U.S. defense officials.  Mustafa Abd-al-Qawi Abd-al-Aziz al-Shamiri was captured in 2002 and believed to be an al Qaeda facilitator or courier, and trainer…”We now judge that these activities were carried out by other known extremists” with similar names or aliases, the profile of the Yemeni detainee dated Sept. 25 added…

I Spy

Cathy Reisenwitz interviewed sex workers for their tips on maintaining privacy:

There are lots of reasons a sex worker might need to keep their sex worker identity separate from the rest of their lives.  Society is still extremely anti-sex-worker…in a custody dispute an allegation that a mother is engaging in sex work will prejudice a judge against her and may result in her losing even unsupervised visitation rights.  Even without a custody fight, Child Protective Services can take your children because you engage in sex work…And forget some forms of future employment if you’re out as a sex worker.  You will never, ever be allowed to work with children if you’ve ever engaged in any sex work.  And, last but not least, there’s always the remote threat of criminal prosecution…no matter what you do, there is a point at which enough skill, money, and time will reveal everything you want to keep secret.  So your only hope is to make it more difficult to hack you than it is rewarding.  These tips will keep your difficulty level higher than default…

Paint By Numbers

Why bother doing anything extraordinary to “fight sex trafficking”, when you can just get dressed in the morning?

…This month isn’t just December, for some, it’s Dressember…a call, not only to wear a dress for 31 days in a row, but to give attention and funds to [rescue industry group] the International Justice Mission…Participants in Dressember are looking for sponsors who will donate funds…Wearing dresses is a tribute to the dignity of women…There will also be a 24 hour Stand for Freedom at Fountain Mall…

Choke Point 

Here’s Violet Blue on the federal campaign to suppress sex businesses by pressuring financial institutions to choke off our air:

For nearly a decade, PayPal, JPMorgan Chase, Visa/MasterCard, and now Square, have systematically denied or closed accounts of small businesses, artists and independent contractors whose business happens to be about sex.  These payment processing authorities have also coerced websites to cease featuring sexual content under threat of service withdrawal, all while blaming ambiguous rules or pressure from one another…a federal appeals court ruled that pressuring credit card companies…to stop doing business with speech-protected websites violates their First Amendment rights…and in June, the FDIC clarified that it’s against the rules for businesses like PayPal, Chase and Square to refuse business or close accounts based on “high risk” assessments related to human sexuality.  But it may not be enough to stop what’s become an entrenched pattern of systematic discrimination by payment processors…Redlining, outlawed in 1968, is the practice of refusing to do business with…applicants from “high risk” neighborhoods who are otherwise completely qualified.  Since the 1930s, actual maps with red lines were used by banks to demarcate black and hispanic neighborhoods…To redline a community was to cut it off from equal financial access, rights and opportunities….there are no literal lines on a map here, but it appears there are virtual ones around an entire section of the internet.  So let’s call this “weblining”…

Welcome to the Future radicalization leaflet

The party will be very displeased if your children question diktats, comrade:

Child protection officials [in the UK] been criticised after warning parents that young people who take issue with government policy or question what they are told in the media may have been radicalised by extremists.  A leaflet drawn up by a…child safeguarding board warns that “appearing angry about government policies, especially foreign policies” is a sign “specific to radicalisation…showing a mistrust of mainstream media reports and a belief in conspiracy theories” could be a sign that children are being groomed by extremists…

Sexcrime

[Last December the UK’s new] Audio Visual Media Services regulations (AVMS) banned sex acts that were deemed morally damaging or life-threatening, including strangulation, face-sitting and fisting.   Spanking beyond what was deemed to be a gentle level, humiliation, full bondage and restraint…female ejaculation, and depictions of non-consensual sex were also forbidden…Campaigners slammed the rules as subjective, and said they unfairly targeted women…Myles Jackman, a UK-based obscenity lawyer, warned that the ban would pose an unnecessary trade barrier to beleaguered UK pornography producers.  It is now clear their fears were founded…customers with “tastes that are not mainstream enough to fit with the draconian limits of the new regulations” have simply taken their business to overseas websites and producers…

The Public Eye (#532)

A short profile of Laura Lee:

…When she is not working as a dominatrix, she offers her services as a “standard” sex worker to the terminally ill and physically disabled…Lee is also working to change society’s “polarised” perception of sex workers.  While there are glamorous escorts who jet around the world and curb-crawling girls battling addiction, she says the truth is far more boring. “Seventy per cent of sex workers right now are mothers working from flats quite discreetly…You could be standing in a queue…next to a sex worker and you wouldn’t know it”…

Checklist (#542)

Strip clubs and massage parlors in Orange County [Florida] will be required next year to post…signs displaying the hotline for the National Human Trafficking Resource Center…Florida ranks behind only California and Texas in the number of reported human-trafficking cases in the U.S., a [myth] cited by state legislators who passed a law requiring warnings signs in rest areas, truck stops, airports and emergency rooms…Adult entertainment clubs and massage parlors are [fantasized to be] venues that tend to serve as recruitment centers for human traffickers…

Stupor Bowl (#581)

It’s really kind of pathetic to watch the crippled remains of the “gypsy whores” myth gasping for air:

Santa Clara County officials launched a campaign…calling on the public to be on the lookout for human trafficking victims…The campaign will feature ads on…Valley Transportation Agency buses, bus shelters and light-rail vehicles with images provided through the National Human Trafficking Resource Center…The campaign comes ahead of Super Bowl 50…on Feb. 7…“These large events have a tragic consequence of attracting and increasing human trafficking,” VTA general manager Nuria Fernandez said…“I’m really confident that with the county working together, we’re going to find more victims in our area”…Supervisor Cindy Chavez said…

Cindy sounds almost ecstatic about the fantasy of tens of thousands of sexually enslaved children.

Seizing Power (#589)

Cathy Reisenwitz on Backpage’s win against Swanee Hunt crony Tom Dart:

…the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals told…Dart…that his misplaced fear of sex work doesn’t trump…free speech…The lawsuit describes a man obsessed with censoring adult-oriented ads.  Dart spent six years harassing Visa and Mastercard with threatening letters demanding they stop doing business with Backpage…Judge Posner…wrote…“A public official who tries to shut down an avenue of expression of ideas and opinions through ‘actual or threatened imposition of government power or sanction’ is violating the First Amendment…Actually, as explained in an amicus curiae brief filed by the Cato Institute, Reason Foundation, and DKT Liberty Project, citing voluminous governmental and academic studies, there are no reliable statistics on which Sheriff Dart could base a judgment that sex trafficking has been increasing in the United States”…

Yes, an important federal judge just officially declared that “sex trafficking” hysteria is bullshit.  And here’s Glenn Greenwald on some of the larger implications of the case:

…Beyond the positive outcome in this specific case — What kind of person would become sheriff of Chicago and then choose to spend his time worrying about adult sex ads? — the…ruling is crucial for protecting free speech rights generally.  That’s because corrupt public officials have realized that they can abuse their power to pressure corporations to “suffocate” private actors whom they dislike but who are breaking no laws.  The most notorious, most dangerous case was in late 2010, when Joe Lieberman blatantly abused his power as chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee to implicitly threaten and coerce companies like Amazon to terminate website hosting and payment processing services to WikiLeaks…That quickly led other companies, including Visa, MasterCard, Bank of America and PayPal, to terminate credit card processing for the group, driving them close to bankruptcy.  In other words, Joe Lieberman almost completely destroyed a media and political organization group he disliked not through prosecution but with nothing more than thuggish threats to the companies that serviced it…This new ruling…highlights how dangerous such extra-judicial pressure campaigns can be, and makes them much more difficult by clearly ruling them to be unconstitutional…

Read Full Post »

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.

Monsters 

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…

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

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’.

Monsters 

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…

Read Full Post »

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…

Rough Trade MARY MITCHELL

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 commit 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…

Moloch

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.

Reframing

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”…

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 7,996 other followers