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Posts Tagged ‘Bad Fantasy-Good Reality’

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

The Scarlet Letter

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

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

Parable Kesha

Noah Berlatsky with another analogy for the absurdity of prohibition:

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

Saving Them From Themselves

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

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

Surplus Women 

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

Bad Fantasy, Good Reality

Because they are?

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

The Mother Learns From Her Children

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

The Lion and the Ox

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

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

King of the Hill (#421)

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

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

If Men Were Angels

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

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

Acting and Activism (Traffic Updates) 

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

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

Safe Targets (#452)

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

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

Vendetta (#518)

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

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

End Demand (#576)

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

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

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

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We never encountered any [people tortured in brothels], and we certainly looked for it…I think [sex trafficking fetishists have] been watching too many movies.  –  Thomas Steinfatt

Maggie in the Media

While in San Diego last Sunday I appeared on the Edge of Chaos podcast, which is now available; I was also interviewed for Reason TV the previous Friday, but that will take a few weeks to edit so watch this space.

Feminine Pragmatism

Women do whatever they need to do to survive in a worker’s paradise:

[Venezuelan] prostitutes more than double their earnings by moonlighting as currency traders…they are the foreign exchange counter for sailors in a country where buying and selling dollars in the streets is a crime — and prostitution isn’t…The bolivar has fallen to 71 to the dollar from 23 on the black market…[but] the official exchange rate…is 6.3 bolivars per dollar.  The dollar shortage is turning Venezuela into a two-tier society similar to the Soviet Union and Cuba…those with access to dollars such as prostitutes, tour agents, airport taxi drivers and expatriates are able to shield themselves from inflation by trading their greenbacks at ever higher rates.  Those who can’t are seeing their living standards decline…

Parable

Another spot-on sex work comparison:

…What if…the government legislated that piano teachers couldn’t…advertise…hanging out at houses of piano would be evidence you were illegally living off the avails of piano lessons…learning piano would be a crime, and so the piano teachers would operate in the dangerous shadows…some piano teachers might need to switch careers, but a police record won’t get them there, and…there are people adept and inclined and happy to teach piano…“But,” I hear some say, “why would a guy need professional piano lessons anyway?  It disgusts me.  Doesn’t he have a friend who can teach him piano?”…

Schadenfreude Chong Kim

Another “sex trafficking survivor”  bites the dust:

…Chong Kim whom [sic] has claimed to be a survivor of human trafficking is not…after thorough investigation into her story, people, records and places, as well as, [sic] many interviews with producers, publishers and…organizations, we found no truth…In fact, we found a lot of fraud, lies, and the most horrifically capitalizing [sic]…several other organizations…have [also] been defrauded by Chong collecting money in their name…

Follow Your Bliss

Yasmin Nair is on the same page as I am about Kristof:

…Nicholas Kristof’s collected work on sex trafficking constitutes a masturbatory text…there’s a pornographic impulse at its heart, a sexual fantasy about dark-skinned women and children being raped by sexual predators on the dirt floors of basements, until the white saviour smashes the door down to save them.  I don’t decry fantasy, but it’s about time we started to name Kristof’s fables of sex and rescue for what they are: Trafficking porn.  And it’s about time we started to openly question whether Kristof isn’t in fact actually projecting some of his own sexual fantasies onto helpless women across the world; little else helps to explain his excessive desire to probe…into the intimate details of his subjects’ lives…

Above the Law

FBI reports make rape sound humdrum and almost accidental:  “…Bryan Robert Benson pleaded guilty…to a civil rights offense for sexually assaulting a woman while transporting her to jail…Benson pulled into a parking lot….and engaged in intercourse with her against the police car without her consent…

Bad Fantasy, Good Reality (TW3 #12)

Sex workers who quit the trade will become eligible for low-interest loans this month of up to VND20 million (US$940)…But the scheme beneficiaries apparently don’t buy its efficiency…loan applicants must  produce certification from high-ranking commune-level authorities  that they have given up sex work….most young sex workers earn…more than VND30 million a month…[so] VND20 million is…unlikely to convince anyone to leave the business…

The Pygmalion Fallacy

Joyce Arthur pointed me to this amusing “future story” in a Canadian newspaper:

A Nova Scotia man is suing a pleasure provider after the sexbot he rented behaved erratically during their night together…Andy Smith is suing for $100,000 in damages he alleges were made to his vehicle when the sex worker began pounding the windshield with her fists and slashed the hood of his vehicle…BestSexEver (BSE)…is countersuing Smith, claiming that he disrespected the sexbot by ignoring her programmed suggestions for best sexual positions in a vehicle, and speaking rudely about robots in general…A witness at the scene said a naked Smith jumped from his vehicle and started yelling obscenities at the sexbot…

A follow-up story imagines sexbots demanding the right to unionize.

Broken Record

On a really big tour bus with 40,000 seats, plus a Cadillac for the pimps:

Texas ranks second only to California…[in] human trafficking, according to the FBI.  Right now, San Antonio is in the national spotlight…[because of] the Spurs…”The sexual trafficking rings…are attracted to San Antonio,” said…Michelle Lee… “They travel much like a band would travel”…

See No Evil (TW3 #41)

Residents of wealthy Old Westbury, N.Y…[are] concerned…that a millionaire neighbor will plop a 33-foot, painted bronze sculpture of a beyond-naked pregnant woman with an exposed fetus on his front lawn…

It Looks Good On Paper (TW3 #311)

18 months for whores, 8 hours for clients. Yeah, that’s fair.

Los Angeles police…announced plans…for a prostitution crackdown…The city is working with the Mary Magdalene Project…to provide an 18-month course to help prostitutes find another career.  Those arrested on suspicion of soliciting prostitutes may be given a chance to attend an 8-hour “John’s School.”

Under Every Bed 

IT’S EVERYWHERE, IT’S EVERYWHERE!!!!!  In Missoula, Montana (population circa 69,000):

…pimps are often former drug dealers…[ignoramus Guy Baker said] “I have an ounce of cocaine and I sell it for a gram.1  I get my money but I lose my product.  But with a human…it’s a re-usable commodity2…[a cop arresting a sex worker is] their knight in shining armor”3…Baker says 77% of adult prostitutes were lured into the sex trade when they were juveniles4.

and in La Crosse, Wisconsin (pop c. 52,000):

It can happen in Internet chat rooms, private parties and even at home…Stopping the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children…was sponsored by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration…and other local groups…organizers hope to draw attention to sex trafficking…of children in the La Crosse area…[ignoramus Alan Krok said] “The exploiter’s teaching them that the police are the bad guys”3

and even in Cheboygan, Michigan (pop c. 5000):

Theresa Flores…was talking about the growing…practice of human sex trafficking…According to recent estimates by the  FBI5, approximately 293,000 American youth are at risk of being trafficked…students were “dumbfounded” that…trafficking could happen so close to home…Malls are popular locations…along with any major gathering of people like the North American International Auto Show…girls…said…it made [them] scared6 because [they] go to the mall often…

1If these dudes were trading an entire ounce of coke (28.35 grams) for a gram, it’s no wonder they couldn’t make any money at it.
2Standard gang-flavored “trafficking” rhetoric these days.
3Cops trying desperately to pretend they aren’t the bad guys in prohibition.
4Bogus stat pulled totally out of his arse, and smells like it.
5Actually, a bad 13-year-old guess from Estes & Weiner.
6Exactly the point

Cuckoo Advertising

Will these “reporters” never wake up?

A new survey conducted by Ashley Madison…[asked] 105,000 of its members…about their religious affiliation…one in four…who responded described themselves as “born again” Evangelist Christians.  Catholics comprised the next largest group at 22.75 percent, followed by Protestants (22.7 percent)…

Mumbo Jumbo

Here’s the magical pimp mind-control philter again:

…800,000…victims are added each year…Anti-Trafficking signs are posted in seven different languages in rest stop bathrooms along Interstate-90…“They just keep them so drugged that they don’t even know what’s happening to them,” said AmberDawn McCall, who was…was born into the world of human trafficking…[and] trapped…until the age of six…every child is a target, and traffickers…look for kids at places where no one is watching…

And in this one, we learn that “By just saying hello, a human trafficker can know whether or not a young boy or girl is worth pursuing as a victim…

Innocence Never Had

The truth about “child sex trafficking”:

The media warns readers about violent pimps stealing girls from malls, but most victims’ stories are very different…I was a teen trafficking victim, and my experience reflects much of the research that’s been done…When my dad pimped me out during the Clinton era, the state called his crime “sexual abuse of a minor.”  When the cops decided to try to “rescue” me when I was 15, they pressured the state to take custody of me…[though] I had been living independently and with friends for years…Most of my foster-home stints lasted less than a week…I was lucky.  Other teens have been raped and pimped in foster care…Within a few months, the state had run out of foster homes for me, so they dumped me in a youth shelter…my caseworker…[stole] my money, saying that I would probably spend [it] on drugs…

Please, please read this in its entirety.

Stupor Bowl

The Bay Area tries desperately to cash in on the “gypsy whore” myth before it collapses completely:

As football fans wait…for Super Bowl…in February 2016…officials and advocates are bracing for what they expect to be a perfect storm for human trafficking during that game…The last Super Bowl held in the region was in 1985…human trafficking may have been occurring but was not quite identified as prevalent as it is today…

Choke Point 

Possible good news:

The House of Representatives passed an amendment…to stop all federal funding to…Operation Choke Point…“This is a major victory for consumers, law-abiding businesses, and anyone who believes in due process and restraint of government encroachment,” said the Community Financial Services Association of America…“Our banking system…[should]  not…police customers or make judgments about the political popularity of businesses”…

Hard Numbers (TW3 #422)

Sonja Dolinsek on the harm caused by the “gypsy whores” myth in Brazil:

…human trafficking and its connection to sports events have been discussed since the World Cup 2006 in Germany.  Big and costly media campaigns warned of the rising problem…not only [were] media estimates of…victims for both South Africa and Germany…exactly the same (40,000 people), but…after both events, there was no evidence…many of the migrant sex workers who had arrived in Germany hoping to earn more money left earlier because business did not increase as they had expected.  The same was true for South Africa…the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW)…criticised the…uncritical…reporting…as counter-productive and even harmful…the way human trafficking is represented resembles more a myth than…reality…

The Roof Caves In

Last Saturday, Kristof the Rat turned on his “hero” and downplayed his pivotal role in enabling her depredations on Cambodian sex workers:  “I wrote one column about her life story in 2008 after her autobiography was published in the U.S., and made several references to her after that, most recently in 2011…”  Kristof’s numerous columns on Mam, his “live tweeting” of one of her brothel pogroms, his spending a large fraction of his Half the Sky catechism on her…all would be flushed down the memory hole if he had his way, though the readers aren’t having it (see the comments) and neither is at least one editor of Kristof’s own newspaper.  Kristof wants to pretend that he was no more gullible than others, that everyone shares his credulity and his perverse need to impose his Gorean BDSM fantasies onto the lives of real women; he states “we were all hoodwinked” despite the fact that Cambodian sex worker activists have been documenting Mam’s lies and abominations for years.  He also wants people to keep believing in the “sex trafficking” mythology he’s been so instrumental in building, but that’s starting to unravel, too:

…willing sex workers who had been rounded up off the street during a police raid and…confined…for months as purported victims…[were] instructed by [Somaly Mam] to tell foreign visitors they had been trafficked…Although [her personal] stories…have now been widely scrutinised in the media, less examined have been Mam’s frequent embellished statements about the scale and nature of sex trafficking in Cambodia.  The term “trafficking” has become trendy…in the Western world…but it leaves out a whole spectrum of complex choices and negotiations, and often erases women’s agency entirely…

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Every decision I’ve ever made, including the decision to be a prostitute, is linked to a desire to be free.  –  Gabriela Leite

R.I.P. Gabriela Leite

Gabriela LeiteSex worker rights activist Gabriela Leite died of cancer on October 10th at the age of 62.  She organized the first Brazilian whores’ convention in 1987, then in 1992 founded a rights NGO named Davida; in 2010 she ran for the Brazilian congress (as depicted in the documentary A Kiss for Gabriela).  Though she lost the election she won tremendous respect, and a bill to eliminate the contradictory provisions in Brazilian prostitution law was recently named in her honor.  She was one of the greats, and will be sorely missed in the sex worker rights community.

Social Autoimmune Disorder

Police in Florida have begun…recording license plate information from cars that drive through areas frequented by sex workers and sending a letter to that individual’s home…[including] a close-up image of the license plate and…reminders about the potential for sexually transmitted diseases…Authorities speaking to the media seemed to assume that someone’s mere presence near illegal activity presumes their guilt…

An Educated Idiot

Charlotte Shane’s scathing review of Sudhir Venkatesh’s new book Floating City levels many of the same criticisms I and others have already made against the duplicitous sociologist (such as his total ignorance of the history of sex work, his dreadfully-low “estimates” of our income, etc).  But it also contains many telling observations about his character flaws:

…when one of his subjects is assaulted, and her co-worker asks that he not report it:  “I stood there, frustrated…What should I do?  Go along with them or call the damn police like a normal person?  I didn’t want to get sucked into their criminal value structure and end up doing the wrong thing.”  This alarming response encapsulates…[his] problem.  The desire to avoid arrest after suffering a brutal assault is a sensible one…but Venkatesh can’t wrap his head around it…he is “normal” and they are deviants…his responses are the right ones and theirs are not…Venkatesh clings to the notion that sex work is inherently, unavoidably risky, regardless of the legal and cultural circumstances…when the issue of…legalization…is raised, it’s only to dismiss it…

Not An Addiction (May Updates)rat with Oreos

Crypto-moralists are once again trying to pretend that fatty foods are addictive, but as Jacob Sullum points out:

…the study’s findings could just as truthfully be summarized… “Research Shows That Heroin and Cocaine Are No More Addictive Than Oreos.”  Putting it that way would have raised some interesting questions about the purportedly irresistible power of these drugs, which supposedly justifies using force to stop people from consuming them.  But the researchers are not interested in casting doubt on the empirical basis for the War on Drugs…they are trying to build an empirical basis for the War on Fat…if the neurological effects of Oreos make them impossible to resist, how is it that most people manage to resist them, consuming them in moderation or not at all?…

Dirty Amateurs

Whether the infection is biological or technological, it’s always the same:

…Symantec…found…that hackers…target…religious sites at a much higher rate:  “…religious and ideological sites…have triple the average number of threats per infected site than adult/pornographic sites.  We hypothesize that this is because pornographic website owners…have a vested interest in keeping their sites malware-free – it’s not good for repeat business”…

Dominating the News

Ex-vice madam Natalie Rowe has had her home raided by police days before she will make new claims about her relationship with Chancellor George Osborne…12…officers…with a battering ram burst into her London flat…[at] dawn…claiming they were acting on a tip-off…no drugs were found in the two-hour search…“WHY did one officer involved in the raid ask me whether I was about to publish my memoirs and WHY did a police inspector tell me I’d be opening a ‘whole can of worms’ if I complained?”…

Meanwhile, in Japan, “Yuka Fujisawa was arrested…for…sticking needles in gentlemen’s genitals for money…Fujisawa’s ‘needle play’ was performed on consenting adults, so her arrest is purely for the act of drawing blood without a medical license…

Elephant in the Parlor

Beleaguered former…MLA Mike Allen has received a rare note of support…from the Alberta Sex Workers.  Mr. Allen was one of 13 men caught in a St. Paul, Minnesota-area sting in July…He…could face up to a year in prison and a $3,000 fine.  “Alberta sex workers wish to assure MLA Mike Allen…that his activities…would be lawful, private and welcome in Alberta…sex workers in Mr. Allen’s riding…want him to continue as their MLA.  We feel he made a mistake taking his business out of Alberta to puritan…Minnesota, but sex workers in his constituency are still pleased to have an MLA who values the services they offer”…Christian Adamek

Moloch

How many more kids have to be sacrificed on this loathsome altar?  “A popular 15-year-old student has committed suicide after he reportedly faced expulsion and being placed on the sex offenders’ register simply for streaking at a high school football  game.  Christian Adamek, from Huntsville, Alabama,  hanged himself on October 2, a week after he was arrested…

Full of Themselves (TW3 #4)

I hope this keeps happening, so pole dancers will be forced to stand with sex workers rather than pretending they’re different:  “…Swansea University [banned its]…Pole Fitness Society…[saying] ‘Pole fitness and pole dancing are a direct spin off from lap dancing…Everyone knows where it comes from…and that pole dancing is…specifically designed to sexually excite the watcher’…”  Swansea has a long history of pearl-clutching over sex work.

The Course of a Disease

The International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe has come up with a “tool kit” containing “information, ideas and resources…to help sex worker rights…organisations and activists…challenge…[the] Swedish model.”  You can view and download the tool kit and its associated worksheets here, or visit the ICRSE website to download one individual section at a time.

Bad Fantasy, Good Reality (TW3 #7)

This short interview with Dr. Heidi Hoefinger on her book Sex, Love and Money in Cambodia supports everything I always say about Asian bar girls, but the comments are illustrative of the deep state of denial in which “trafficking” fanatics exist:  among them are the claim that a woman who spent ten years living among her subjects is “naïve” and the astonishing assertion that literally 99.99% of whores are coerced.

Above the Law

A [California] Sheriff’s Department deputy…sexually assaulted a [woman] he…pulled over…[he offered to] let [her] go in exchange for sex…[but when she] declined …he [forced her anyway]…”  The unedited original is almost incomprehensible for all the “alleged” and “unknown male” and passive voice; it even describes forcible rape as “sexual contact occurred”.  And in Kentucky, “A sexual assault lawsuit has been filed against…Sheriff Rick Clemons…‘I’m upset.  I’m very offended.  I’m actually shocked’, said Clemons…”  Cry me a fucking river.Rupert Everett

Stand-Up Guys

Rupert Everett is supporting a campaign against proposals…to criminalise sex workers’ clients.  The actor, who participated in sex work as a younger man is making a [TV] programme on the subject.  He has signed an open letter by the English Collective of Prostitutes and Queer Strike…journalist Cary Gee and a whole range of activist groups…have all added their names too…Former New Zealand MP Tim Barnett, who sponsored the…Act which decriminalised prostitution, described the…way…[end demand] laws were used…“Half of those arrested were transgender sex workers who were identified as men”…

Greeks Bearing Gifts

The noisome fruit of the “mandatory prosecution” tree:

…In an incident back in April, Joel Darvell, 36, allegedly choked his wife while drunk, causing his son to tackle him…Darvell allegedly pistol-whipped his son and then fired a .45 caliber round into the wall of their home.  No injuries were sustained.  Darvell was charged with assault…but [his] wife and children…refused to testify…Judge Michael Evans…[had them] dragged away…[to] jail…where they were held in cuffs and shackles…John Hays, who is representing Darvell’s wife…said…“The prosecutor wants to put the defendant in prison for over 20 years, and (his family members) really do not want that”…After 48 hours…the 13-year-old girl…broke…and…agreed to testify against her father.  The son and mother…were made to agree…as well…

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #28)

Everyday Whorephobia interviews Morgane Merteuil of STRASS about the especially-revolting French version of the Swedish model:

…The law also proposes to fight…[advertising] websites…all the help…[for exploited migrants] is conditional on stopping sexwork…[and] working with  an “agreed organization”; of course…sexworkers rights [groups] won’t be [among] them…if students do sexwork, it is because they don’t have the consciousness that this is “prostitution”; so the solution is to add lessons about the “objectification of the body” at school…

Schadenfreude (TW3 #43)Meas Ratha

Somaly Mam has been caught in yet another huge lie:

…in January 1998, Ms. Mam was propelled…into the international media spotlight largely owing to the harrowing on-camera testimony of the young Meas Ratha…[who supposedly had] been promised a job as a waitress in Phnom Penh, but wound up a captive in a brothel…Sixteen years [later]…Ms. Ratha—now 32 years old and married—said her testimony…was fabricated and scripted for her by Ms. Mam…Ratha…said that she did not want to cause trouble for Ms. Mam’s NGO, which had provided an education for her, but that she could no longer continue a lie that had followed her for half her life…the fabrication of Ms. Ratha’s sex slave story is only the latest incident of false information to emerge from Ms. Mam and her organizations…

And how exactly does Somaly Mam “help” sex workers?

…Estée Lauder…has opened the Somaly Mam Beauty Salon…providing survivors of sexual slavery and human trafficking with…education and vocational training…in high-touch beauty services in hair care, makeup application and nail treatments…

Well, I guess it’s better than putting them to work in her fashion industry sponsors’ sweatshops.

Us and Them

These abuses always start with stigmatized groups, but never stop there:

[UK] police are to get the power to restrict the freedom of anyone they suspect of being a sex offender, even if the person has never been convicted of a crime…This can include limiting internet use, stopping the person from being alone with a child under 16 and preventing travel abroad.  Anyone breaching the so-called Sexual Risk Order, which lasts for at least two years, could be jailed for up to five years…

Unmentionables

WH Smith shut down its website…after it was revealed that a search for the term “daddy” brought up hardcore pornographic  ebooks featuring bondage and humiliation alongside stories for children.  At least 60 pornographic ebooks…could also be found on Amazon, Waterstones and Barnes & Noble…WH Smith apologised to customers and said the “explosion” of self-publishing had left book retailers exposed to pornographic content…

They weren’t “exposed” to shit; they just had a poor website design and are passing the buck.Jerry Brown masturbatory gesture

The Punitive Mindset (TW3 #337)

The governor of California pretends prison inmates don’t have sex with each other:

…Jerry Brown…vetoed a bill a that would have…required…condoms [to be] available in every California prison.  Supporters…argued that [this] would help reduce the spread of sexually transmitted diseases among inmates, who have higher rates of HIV/AIDS…Brown…noted that family visitors are already allowed to bring condoms for…overnight visits…

Policing for Profit (TW3 #341)

A money-making venture to lure…drug buyers into Sunrise [Florida] to purchase cocaine from police has been halted…Mayor Michael Ryan…lay blame…on the [newspaper story exposing the racket]…Ryan did not express concerns about…[the busts taking place] in such public locations as parking lots and family restaurants…

Shift in the Wind (TW3 #341)

Another UN agency has reaffirmed…support of sex workers in response to Equality Now’s anti-sex worker campaign…This leaves Equality Now starkly on the fringes of the global women’s movement, as organisations as authoritative as UN Women…assert…that sex work is work, not trafficking.  The statement…also…[backs] safe workplaces – which come with decriminalisation – and the right to self-determination, including the right to stay in sex work…[this] precludes…the “Swedish model”…supported by Equality Now…which tries to drive sex workers from sex work (against their consent) through making it intolerably dangerous…

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It’s not about promiscuity, which makes you sound square; it’s not about prostitution, which makes you sound dirty; it’s about sex-trafficking, which makes you sound like you’re on the side of the angels, know-nothing though they might be.  –  Michael Wolff

Amazingly Stupid Statements

Just Don’t Call It Slut-Shaming: A Feminist Guide to Silencing Sex Workers” is a funny and dead-on-target lampoon of neofeminist anti-whore rhetoric in the form of a mock primer.  Definitely a must-read.

Cracks in the Dam

Canadian courts slap down another government attempt to stop sex workers from claiming human rights:

The Supreme Court of Canada has upheld the right of a non-profit group representing women…in downtown Vancouver’s sex trade to challenge the country’s anti-prostitution laws on constitutional grounds.  The ruling means the Downtown Eastside Sex Workers United Against Violence Society can go back to B.C. Supreme Court to pursue a case it launched five years ago…

The government’s argument against the suit relied on the sophistry that one of the parties in the suit (Sheryl Kiselbach) was no longer affected by the laws due to being retired, and that the other party (the DESWUAVS) could not be affected because it was an organization, therefore neither had the right to sue.  But the judge realized that the government’s claim that streetwalkers had to bring such suits individually was absurd, and ruled in favor of the group.  It’s not only good news for sex workers, but for other marginalized Canadians as well:

…[attorney] Katrina Pacey…explained [that] “This would provide a real opportunity for marginalized people, people with mental health issues, people with HIV, prisoners, refugees, children to form a collective organization whereby they then have the support and capacity to bring these cases forward, as a community”…

Japanese Prostitution

The bad economy and political tensions between their countries have combined to make things increasingly difficult for Chinese whores in Japan, creating a dangerously unbalanced buyer’s market:

…“Rumors have been spreading that Chinese girls have been beaten up by Japanese Johns, and some of them are even begging off on transactions with customers they don’t know out of fears for their safety,” says “pink” journalist Yasuhiro Ebina.  “Many Chinese women tend to be blunt and unsociable, but of late they are forcing themselves to smile, and have been primping themselves to improve their appearance.  Before a deri heru (out-call sex) service might have charged an additional 8,000 yen for honban (the “real thing,” i.e., intercourse), but now they’ve knocked as much as 5,000 yen off the total price”…women from Shanghai tend to be proud and many refuse to dispense oral sex, but over the past week they are now even providing lip service bareback.  And some ladies from Dalian or Harbin are even allowing customers condom-free rides…

Forward and Backward

The stupidity, it burns!  “…[Washington, D.C.] police lieutenant Jeffery Carroll told residents at a neighborhood meeting…that [a perceived] jump in [street] prostitution may be related to the surge in construction activity and increase in construction workers in the neighborhood.  Carroll told residents that prostitution activity typically takes place between midnight and…6:00 a.m. The recent surge has come between 3:30 and 7:30 a.m. or else at around 3:30 p.m….which police say could correlate to changes in construction shifts…

Not To Be Taken Internally

Yet another poor fool has died from allowing a non-doctor to inject filth into her arse in a non-medical setting:

…52-year-old Morris Garner…who has had gender changing procedures and goes by the name Tracey Lynn Garner, is charged with depraved-heart murder in the March death of 37-year-old Karima Gordon, of Atlanta…Gordon became ill within 30 minutes of leaving Garner’s house in Jackson after…injection [of a silicone-like substance into her buttocks] but decided to try to make it home to Georgia before seeking medical treatment…[investigator Lee McDivitt]…said her chance of surviving the injections was small, anyway…”The [medical examiner] told me…[that when he] cut the victim open…this material ran all over the floor, all over their shoes, all over the place”…

What I can’t understand is why so many of these self-proclaimed cosmetic surgeons are transgendered.

Above the Law

Once again:  As long as government actors have excessive power over individuals, this will keep happening:  “…Pittsburgh Public Schools police officer…Robert Lellock…was arrested…[on] 23 counts of crimes including corruption of minors, child endangerment and sex crimes…”  Lellock allegedly raped several 13-14 year old boys, ensuring their silence by a combination of threats to kill their families and rewards of marijuana and class-skipping privileges.

An Example To the West

You may remember that DMSC had formed its own football (soccer) team for the children of Calcutta sex workers; well, two of the boys were picked for a world championship team:  “Two sons of sex workers from India’s eastern state of West Bengal will play soccer…in the Indian…team for the Homeless World Soccer Cup 2012 in Mexico…’This is a big achievement in integrating children of sex workers with the mainstream sports community,’ said Dr Samarjit Jana of DMSC.”

The Birth of a Movement

This Guardian article is mostly about sex workers’ reaction  to the socialist scheme to inflict the Swedish model on France, but it also contains interesting information on French hookers’ efforts to circumvent busybody laws and the sleazy tricks cops use to harass them.

…The “white van women”…embody the French state’s difficult attitudes to prostitution.  As in the UK, prostitution itself…is not a crime.  But…[a] 2003…law [forbids being]…in a public place known for prostitution dressed in revealing clothes.  To get round this, women started working in private vans.  Selling sex inside a vehicle was not breaking the law.  But police are now using any means to crack down on the growing number of sex-work vans, namely parking tickets and tow-trucks…some…owe thousands of euros in parking tickets and pound-release fines accrued each month…

Shift in the Wind

An excellent op-ed against “end demand” rhetoric appeared last Sunday in, of all the unexpected places, The New York Times; I’ll bet Nick Kristof isn’t happy:

…policy makers have started to push to eradicate all prostitution, not just the trafficking of children into the sex trade.  Under the catchphrase “no demand, no supply,” they advocate increasing criminal penalties against men who buy sex — a move they believe will upend the market that fuels prostitution and sex trafficking…[but] the “end demand” campaign will harm trafficking victims and sex workers more than it helps them…End-demand advocates’ prototypical victim — an abused teenage girl…forced into the sex trade…does exist.  But they disregard the fact that individuals, including boys, men and transgender people, enter the sex trade for a variety of reasons.  The pimped girl who has inflamed the public’s imagination needs government services and protection, not to be made into a symbolic figure in an ideological battle to eradicate the entire sex industry, which, like many other sectors, includes adults laboring in conditions ranging from upscale to exploitative, from freely chosen to forced…despite their righteous anger, the end-demand crowd is quick to dismiss what many sex workers actually have to say.  Some activists have gone so far as to brand those who criticize their campaign as “house slaves” unable to recognize their own oppression…

The writer is being polite; Melissa Farley’s actual term was “house nigger”.  The article goes on to strongly criticize the Swedish model, flatly stating that it has failed to reduce prostitution and explaining how it harms women; it reports that most abuse of sex workers is by police rather than clients or “pimps” as claimed by the prohibitionists; and it discusses real solutions very much like those advocated in this blog.  The article is not long, and well worth your time.

Worse Than I Thought

Proposition 35 is so awful (Chorus:  How awful is it?) that even trafficking victim advocates oppose it:

…The opponents, who range from a South Bay nonprofit to a co-author of California’s current law against trafficking, say that, instead of helping, Proposition 35 will set back their work by years.  Chief among their concerns is the measure’s focus on hefty penalties rather than a collaborative attack on the problem…That approach, they say, ignores the victims…[they] also condemn the discrepancy between penalties for labor and sex trafficking…Most victims don’t end up in the sex trade…yet Proposition 35 provides for lower penalties for labor victims…

The Phoenix Pharisees

The Maricopa County sheriff’s office only “treats prostitutes as trafficking victims” when they find it convenient:  “…Over the course of a month, detectives made 37 arrests on suspicion of prostitution-related crimes…in an unincorporated area of the county tucked between Tempe and Guadalupe…suspects made contact with an undercover deputy, who secured an offer of sex for money and then used a code word as a signal for other deputies to storm the hotel room…”  “Code word?”  “Stormed” the room?  Their pomposity would be hilarious if they weren’t ruining the lives of real women.

Thoughts On My First Conference

I’m the third interviewee in this video.  It’s not very long, but I still figured y’all would want to see it.

Parting of the Ways

This Guardian op-ed presents Michael Wolff’s opinion of the Backpage-Village Voice split; though he has no love for Lacey and Larkin he has even less for Kristof and company, and the article provides the interesting tidbit that some of the anti-Backpage campaign was funded by the Church of Scientology in revenge for the Voice’s relentless attacks on it.

Metaupdates

Bad Fantasy, Good Reality in TW3 (#7)

Cambodian cops are learning to parrot their American masters quite well:

Chan Sreynuch, the owner of Mikasa Coiffure and Beauty…was arrested…on suspicion of human trafficking, according to the national military police spokesman Kheng Tito…According to him, Sreynuch would lead young women — often aspiring singers and students — to her salon, then connect them with wealthy businessmen…Three of her manicured and coiffed callgirls were also detained…[and] sent to Phnom Penh Municipal Hall’s rehabilitation centre for “re-education”…

Coming and Going in TW3 (#12)

Anna Gristina…has pleaded guilty to promoting prostitution…[she] will be sentenced…to time served and probation as part of a plea deal.  The judge warned the Scotland-born woman she could also be deported…

An Example To the West in TW3 (#14)

Workers in the [Korean] sex industry called…for the scrapping or revision of anti-sex trafficking laws…[which limit their] rights to sexual autonomy and their freedom to enjoy a free sex life as adults…another sex worker surnamed Kim submitted a petition…for…judgment on whether the laws are constitutionally acceptable…

Real People in TW3 (#21)

British prohibitionist Julie Bindel interviewed the Fokkens sisters, the elderly Dutch whores about whom a documentary was recently made; unsurprisingly, she only reports the negative parts and dismisses the “rosy picture the twins paint of prostitution” as just a kind of weird twin-thing.  Of course she is pleased to report that the Fokkens say legalization has been bad for Dutch hookers (largely because of the exaggerated tax assessments European officials commonly use to persecute sex workers), but cannot or will not comprehend that no sex worker rights organization in the world supports Dutch-style legalization.

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic in TW3 (#29)

If you’re impressed by those brain studies that “prove” porn, sugar, the internet or whatever is “as addictive as cocaine”, you need to consider the study which won this year’s Ig Nobel Prize in neuroscience “for demonstrating that brain researchers, by using complicated instruments and simple statistics, can see meaningful brain activity anywhere — even in a dead salmon.”

This Week in 2011

My columns on Mabon and Banned Books Week were followed by others on misuse of the word “vagina”,  the fallacy of “empowerment”, dehumanization of whoresdominatrices in the news and women’s views of male sex workers.

This Week in 2010

My first Mabon column, the problems caused by unsatisfied male sex drives, my sex-related pet peeves, one of my earliest columns on “sex trafficking” hysteria  and an angry reply to it, the growth of opposition toward prohibition and my announcement of the Himel decision.

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No oppression is so heavy or lasting as that which is inflicted by the perversion and exorbitance of legal authority.  –  Joseph Addison

We’re halfway through the year already!  Here’s a new item followed by eight updates and four metaupdates.

Feeding On Their Own

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (one of the goons behind the toothless threats against Backpage and a major promoter of the “gypsy whores” myth) has accused Google (which gave $11 million to anti-whore groups) of failing to enable Abbot’s snooping.  I’m not really concerned with the conflict itself; I’m just glad to see two supporters of trafficking hysteria at each other’s throats.  Maybe Abbott will be too busy fighting Google to persecute as many consenting adults as usual, and if this costs Google a lot of money they’ll have less to give to prohibitionists this year.  Let’s hope this becomes a trend; perhaps Martha Coakley will sue CNN next.

Updates

Reading Between the Lines (November 11th, 2010)

The last time the FBI diverted federal funds to conduct local prostitution busts under the guise of “fighting sex trafficking” I had a full report to dissect, but this time they’re playing coy; though press releases for “Operation Cross-Country 6” crow about the “rescue” of 79 “children” and the arrest of 104 “pimps”, no mention is made of the hundreds of adult women who were no doubt arrested as well (over 800 of them if the proportions are similar to those of the last raid).  As for those “children”:  most underage whores are about 17 so the majority of these probably are as well, though we’re only told they were “as young as” 13 (which would be true if only one was).  Statistically, 66 of these “child sex slaves” have never even met a pimp, so where did 104 “pimps” come from?  The answer is that most of them are probably male or transgender prostitutes, cast as “pimps” to fit the narrative.  I’ll write more on this when more complete data becomes available, but in the meantime here’s an analysis of local reports compiled by the ever-thorough Emi Koyama.

Hooters, Japanese Style (December 15th, 2010)

Japanese cops are adopting American-style prudishness and repression:

…police…arrested five employees affiliated with a restaurant chain  that features female staff members in revealing clothing.  Nikkan Gendai…sees the bust as another example of the demise of another popular form of salaryman entertainment…Attired in bikinis that expose their midriffs, the girls perform dance routines…and shake their hips as they take food orders…“After these girls get off work, they’ll attract stalkers,” says lawyer Toshi Okabayashi…“Since this type of employment could also develop into a hotbed for prostitution, the police cannot overlook these places.”  The lawyer adds that these recent arrests are intended to set an example…

I’m not sure why the police should be concerned with “hotbeds of prostitution” when the trade is essentially legal in Japan; that “set an example” bit is chilling.

Check Your Premises (March 10th, 2011)

Another man convicted of “child pornography” for taking photos of a woman with whom he was legally having sex:

…Marshall Hollins had a 17-year-old girlfriend…perfectly legal in Illinois, where the age of consent for sex is 17.  Yet because Hollins took pictures…he was convicted of three child pornography offenses and sentenced to eight years in prison…the Illinois Supreme Court rejected Hollins’…arguments…While 17 might be old enough to have sex, the court said, allowing the event to be photographed entails additional risks that arguably require another year’s worth of maturity and wisdom…dissenting Justice Anne M. Burke noted…that…”all five photographs…are extreme closeups of the couples’ genitals,” including neither faces nor “visible identifying marks such as scars or tattoos”…

So in the American mind, the “risk” of creating an unidentifiable “dirty” picture outweighs that of creating a human life.

Surplus Women (September 27th, 2011)

This rather bizarre item from The Sun presents a sympathetic view of an accused serial killer, but dismisses the three Winnipeg sex workers he may have murdered in a single phrase.  Well, at least it doesn’t dwell in lurid and loving detail on the women’s profession as an equivalent American article would.

Bell, Hook and Kettle (December 6th, 2011)

Though the Salvation Army claims that whores are all “victims” who need rescue, it apparently feels differently about homosexuals:

…In talking to…Serena Ryan and Pete Dillon on their Salt and Pepper radio show [audio here]…Major Andrew Craibe, a media relations director for one of the [Salvation Army’s] Australian branches, had this exchange with the hosts:

Ryan: According to the Salvation Army, [gay people] deserve death. How do you respond to that, as part of your doctrine?
Craibe:  Well, that’s a part of our belief system.
Ryan: So we should die.
Craibe: You know, we have an alignment to the Scriptures, but that’s our belief.

The doctrine they’re referring to is…the Salvation Story: Salvationist Handbook of Doctrine, which borrows heavily from Romans 1:18-32…the Salvation Army has officially distanced itself from Craibe’s remarks…

The Course of a Disease (February 16th, 2012)

The Norwegian body politic may yet fight the Swedish cancer into remission:

Norway should rip up a law that criminalizes sex buyers, Oslo’s social affairs chief believes, as a new report shows a marked rise in violence against prostitutes…Anniken Hauglie [said]…”The reality is that the law has made it more difficult for women…It’s our political responsibility to take this feedback seriously”…the Pro Sentret report indicates that the law has…made prostitutes much more susceptible to violence at the hands of their clients as the sex trade moves further underground…Many of the women also said the new law had scared off many of their more reliable customers, while troublesome and violent clients were relatively undeterred…

The fact that the ban hasn’t decreased prostitution may also help:  “In 2011, the number of prostitutes…rose by 28 percent compared to the previous year, according to…Pro Sentret, the country’s official help centre for prostitutes…

Meanwhile, in France:

…Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, the [French] women’s rights minister…said in an interview that she would be organising a conference of experts on how to contain the sex-trade and human-trafficking… “Since the 19th century and…Josephine Butler, Britain and France have been the core countries in the international mobilisation against prostitution.  I really hope that these common roots are still alive”…

I hope so, too; though Josephine Butler was against prostitution personally and promoted the idea of whores as “victims”, she also opposed the idea of using laws to control or “abolish” it.

Yellow Fever (June 18th, 2012)

If you thought 20 clients a night was a bit hard to believe, and 35 a night wholly absurd, how do you feel about 50?

Tamara Vandermoon…ran away when she was 12, the same age she turned her first trick…before she knew it she was prostituting herself up to 50 times a night, the money going to her pimp or to feed [her] drug habit…When it comes to child and adolescent sex-trafficking in the United States, the FBI ranks Minneapolis-St. Paul among the top 13…With its tangle of highways…its year-round sporting events and frequent conventions, millions pass through on any given day…many teens who wind up in the sex trade are runaways targeted by men who coerce or threaten them through physical or psychological abuse…

It would be hard to imagine a more ludicrous collection of myths and fallacies in one short article.  Besides the turgid client count there’s the ridiculous belief that a large number of highways constitutes evidence that a city is a “sex trafficking” hub, the myth that sporting events attract whores and the lie that most teen whores are recruited by “pimps”, and that’s just in the first six bite-sized paragraphs (before it descends into badge-licking, “trafficking” platitudes and “end demand” rhetoric).  I almost feel I should stand up and applaud.

My Favorite TV Dramas (June 27th, 2012)

William Shatner gets it, even if the former mayor of Ilfracombe doesn’t:

Star Trek actor William Shatner…[appeared on] the BBC show Have I Got News for You…When he mispronounced the town’s name, guest panellist Charlie Brooker said he had made it sound “deeply sexual” and Shatner replied:  “The place is laced with prostitution.”  [Paul Crabb, Former Mayor of Ilfracombe] emailed Shatner’s agents:  “As Captain James T Kirk, Mr Shatner has been to places where no man has gone before, however, [this]…clearly shows he has never been [here].  If he came, we could show him that there is no prostitution in Ilfracombe”…In an email…Shatner replied that prostitution “commonly means sex for something of value…I would be hard pressed to believe that sex was not being had in Ilfracombe for something of value, perhaps a lengthy marriage, children or a valuable career.  In any event, my apologies for having singled out Ilfracombe as a potential haven for prostitution…”

N.B:  With 10,840 people, Ilfracombe might have as many as 15 whores.

Metaupdates

Counterfeit Comfort in TW3 (#8) (February 26th, 2012)

Louisiana just won’t give up trying to destroy people’s lives:

A new Louisiana law requires sex offenders…to state their criminal status on their Facebook or other social networking page…[it] builds upon existing sex offender registration laws, in which the offender must notify immediate neighbors and a school district of his or her residency near them…The law states that…[a registrant] “shall include in his profile…an indication that he is a sex offender or child predator and shall include notice of the crime for which he was convicted, the jurisdiction of conviction, a description of his physical characteristics… and his residential address”…

In other words, he’s “required” to provide lunatics with detailed instructions to make it easier to murder him.  No doubt other states will follow Louisiana’s lead, despite the fact that onerous sex offender notification requirements are known to increase the risk of re-offense by socially isolating the registrant.

Coming and Going in TW3 (#17) (April 28th, 2012)

Anna Gristina finally left prison Tuesday evening after her bail was reduced to a more reasonable figure:

…A Manhattan judge signed…Anna Gristina’s $250,000 bond package, clearing the way for her to be released with an ankle bracelet…Gristina, 44, is a mother of four who tends to rescued pigs…but prosecutors say she also was the madam of an upscale sex service for 15 years…Gristina has said she was merely starting a matchmaking service, not peddling prostitutes…

Tracy Quan published an interesting article on Gristina’s defense which points out, as I have before, that the line between matchmaking and “pandering” is a purely arbitrary one.

Bad Fantasy, Good Reality in TW3 (#20) (May 19th, 2012)

Dr. Kimberly Hoang was not satisfied with merely publishing the truth about Vietnamese sex workers in her dissertation; she also gave an interview to Vietnamese media:

…Dr Kimberly Kay Hoang…[said] “Most people assume that women engaging in the sex industry do so because they are kidnapped, forced, or coerced into sex work…However, few studies have been able to furnish empirical evidence to support these claims…Legalizing this work would provide women with the same legal rights as other working people”…

What a Week! in TW3 (#22) (June 3rd, 2012)

As part of the process of licensing what will be Australia’s largest brothel, Urbis think tank did a study on the effects of brothels on neighborhoods.  Its findings?

There is not a definitive relationship between the opening and expansion of…brothels and any increase in crime.

There is no proven correlation between decreases in property value and the location of sex premises in an area.

There is no evidence that anti-social behaviour in inner city areas can be attributed to the clients or staff of sex premises.

So, sex industry premises, much like other contentious uses such as funeral parlours, can cause a level of discomfort for some members of the community.  At the same time, the sex industry has a role to play in the social and economic vibrancy of cities and sex premises are a legal and legitimate land use.

One Year Ago Today

June Q & A” defines my own terms “archeofeminism” and “neofeminism”, discusses the Indonesian “Obedient Wives Club” and offers assistance to a man who has difficulty achieving orgasm with a partner.

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A fool is very dangerous when in power.  –  Denis Fonvizin

Two new items, twelve updates and one metaupdate.

End Demand

More Bizarro behavior from Zimbabwe:

A Zimbabwean politician has…[suggested] the spread of HIV can be curbed if women…deliberately make themselves…unattractive.  Morgan Femai…said the measures were required because men were finding it difficult to resist well-dressed, attractive women…“…I propose…a law that compels women to have their heads clean-shaven…they should also not bathe because that is what has caused all these problems.”  Senator Femai also appeared to suggest female circumcision would help stop the spread of disease…“Women have got more moisture in their organs as compared to men so there is need to research on how to deal with that…because it is conducive for bacteria breeding”…another…Senator, Sithembile Mlotshwa…recently suggested men be injected with drugs that reduce their libidos.  She also called for prisoners to be given sex toys to satisfy their sexual desires.

You may laugh or cry, but are these suggestions really any more stupid than Western “end demand” rhetoric?

Femme Fatale

…67 year old…Robert Gene got multiple lap dances during his time at the Red Parrot in El Paso, [but]…suffered from a heart attack, which the strippers failed to notice…employees tried to give Gene CPR but were unsuccessful in reviving him…

Updates

Lying Down With Dogs (November 24th, 2010)

Another example of the strong resemblance between anti-whore policies in the US and Uganda:

…police authorities in…Gulu…raided [a sex worker drop-in centre] and arrested two staff and three members of the Women’s Organization Network for Human Rights Advocacy (WONETHA)…This raid…appears to be part of a deliberate strategy by the Gulu Police to play tough…[it] is in direct violation of the rights of…human rights defenders at WONETHA…“they are accusing us of promoting prostitution…of sleeping with other women and recruiting girls into prostitution.”  All five arrested advocates were finally charged with “Living off the earnings of prostitution,” an accusation that they vehemently denounce…

Compare with attacks against Backpage and other advertising venues for “facilitating prostitution”.

Law of the Instrument (August 26th, 2011)

“It is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail,” wrote Abraham Maslow; Wendy Lyon writes at length on how Irish authorities who desperately need “human trafficking” cases to justify their crackdowns are using the label for everything from undocumented immigration to attempted rape.

The Crumbling Dam (October 14th, 2011)

Organized persecution of Canadian whores continues to crumble in the face of the recent court decisions; under the embattled law, even a landlord who knowingly rents an apartment to a hooker could be prosecuted for “brothel keeping”, but one Vancouver charity openly violates it anyway:

…Janice Abbott, CEO of the Atira Women’s Resource Society, said tenants of…housing complexes for low-income women are entitled to the same rights as any other renter…even if they are sex workers…when Atira opened Bridge Housing in 2001…there was no conscious decision to create a safe…space for women to do sex work…[but] Atira decided not to question the women’s guests… “They’re paying rent and it’s their home and they get to do everything all the rest of us take for granted in our homes, which is have guests come and go, among many other things”…

The article also mentions that “…the City of Vancouver has proposed a new…policy…indicating that consensual adult sex work is not an enforcement priority for the police and that their priority should be ensuring the safety of sex workers.”  Apparently, Toronto feels the same way:

…The Toronto Police Service confirmed…the force has put “on hold”…sweeps in which female officers pose as street prostitutes to arrest men willing to pay for sex…spokesman Mark Pugash said…the decision…is based on the force’s reluctance to use “finite” resources to arrest people when so much “uncertainty” currently surrounds prostitution laws…[however] investigations into illegal massage parlours, brothels and escort agencies will carry on as usual…City Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti…[criticized] the policy…”When you’re sleeping with a prostitute, you’re probably sleeping with 150 guys at the same time”…

It’s good to see officials brushing aside politicians spouting the “dirty whore” myth to justify imposing their personal morals on others.

Bad Fantasy, Good Reality (October 27th, 2011)

Another female academic dares to tell the truth about prostitution in East Asia:

Kimberly Hoang…won the American Sociological Association’s…award for her doctoral dissertation on sex work in Vietnam.  The winning entry, New Economies of Sex and Intimacy in Vietnam, was based on 15 months of ethnographic research in Ho Chi Minh City, where Hoang worked as a bartender and hostess in four bars that catered to different groups of clients…Hoang’s research “highlights not just the structure and practices of sex work in Vietnam, but demonstrates how it serves as a vital form of currency in Vietnam’s political economy.”  In her nominating letter, [sociology professor Raka] Ray called the dissertation “a stunning piece of work” by “an absolutely fearless and creative thinker,” adding that Hoang had done “the sort of fieldwork few others dare”…

Neither Addiction nor Epidemic (December 4th, 2011)

Contrary to what you may have heard, the upcoming 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) does not greatly increase the number of things labeled as “addictions”; in fact, it entirely eliminates the word “addiction”:  “Instead, they are labeled ‘use disorders’…[because the] group thought the word…was less pejorative and stigmatizing.”  I’m willing to bet it’s also to put a stop to pop psychologists’ labeling everything an “addiction”:

Despite substantial pressure…the…workgroup rejected proposals to recognize addictions to sex, food, the Internet, and caffeine…[workgroup chairman Charles O’Brien, MD] said…emphasis on scientific justification precluded listing them…”We looked at sex addiction, but there was no science at all.  None.”

Another positive change is the replacement of DSM-IV’s false dichotomy of “drug abuse” and “drug dependence”:

…research conducted in recent decades pointed to substance-related problems as occurring on a continuum, such that the abuse-dependence distinction was purely arbitrary…[a new] requirement [is] that the patient…demonstrate craving for the particular substance…[which is] the key symptom that separates addiction from mere heavy use…

Legal Is as Legal Does (December 14th, 2011)

Here’s a generally objective article on prostitution in Turkey which demonstrates the problems of legalization.  The country has licensed brothels since the late days of the Ottoman Empire, but it will surprise none of my readers to hear that 97% of Turkish harlots prefer to work illegally than to be registered and subjugated to politically-connected brothel owners who keep their employees in conditions virtually indistinguishable from slavery.  This government-approved abuse is now being used by Islamist politicians to justify closing all brothels and forcing the girls onto the street, thus establishing the state as their pimp by setting them up for fine-garnering police “crackdowns”.

Presents, Presents, Presents! (December 29th, 2012)

This week, Rob Arthur sent me a copy of his book You Will Die, and a reader who prefers to remain anonymous sent me a DVD of The Wicker Tree, writer/director Robin Hardy’s “re-imagining” of his classic, The Wicker Man.  My sincere thanks to both of you for thinking of me!

Above the Law (March 8th, 2012)

The police have always used sexual assault as a weapon of oppression, but in the US the tactic was generally reserved for sex workers; however, as police brutality and immunity from prosecution have increased, amateurs have been on the receiving end as well.  Female Occupy protesters are now reporting being repeatedly groped by cops:

…No doubt it’s partly…to brutalize those you think are weak, and more easily traumatized.  But another reason is, almost certainly, the hope of provoking violent reactions on the part of male protestors…Soldiers who oppose allowing a combat role for women almost invariably say they do so not because they are afraid women would not behave effectively in battle, but because they are afraid men would…become so obsessed with the possibility of women in their unit being captured and sexually assaulted that they would behave irrationally.  If the police were trying to provoke a violent reaction on the part of studiously non-violent protestors, as a way of justifying even greater brutality and felony charges, this would clearly be the most effective means of doing so…

An Example to the West  (April 3rd, 2012)

In the US, “feminists” encourage police to persecute sex workers; in India such behavior provokes protest marches:

Women’s groups and progressive organisations in India are shocked that Ms. Anu Mokal, a pregnant sex worker in Satara, was beaten up by police inspector Dayanand Dhome on April 2, along with her friend Ms. Anjana Ghadge.  Three days later, on 5th April, she suffered a miscarriage…[the women] were bringing dinner for their friend…in the…hospital…[when] Dhome accused them of soliciting and when they refuted it abused them and called them liars.  Dhome and his subordinates started beating…[and kicking] them and said that women like Anu are a ‘shame’.  Her pleas that she was four months pregnant fell on deaf ears…Women’s organisations are outraged that…no action has been taken against the policemen…Anu…feels that the [incident is]…not taken seriously because she is a sex worker.  In fact, the police had the audacity to tell these women that sex workers cannot be mothers…

Hard Numbers (April 20th, 2012)

While Western Australia continues its self-destructive drive toward the Swedish Model, South Australian politicians apparently comprehend the concept of “evidence” and are moving toward decriminalization:

…Status of Women Minister Gail Gago and former minister Steph Key [spoke about]…Bills aimed at decriminalising prostitution.  Ms Key aims to introduce her Bill…on May 31 – the eve of International Whores’ Day…It would decriminalise all forms of prostitution…but retain soliciting as an offence where it occurred in the presence of other people…Minors would be banned from sex work and there would also be provisions making it an offence to practise unsafe sex…Ms Key believes there is growing support for the move…

The Pygmalion Fallacy
(May 6th, 2012)

It’s good to see that at least one tech writer has his eyes partially open on the subject of sexbots; though this article by Sebastian Anthony still buys “sex trafficking” myth, it at least understands that any gynoid real enough to please a normal man (as opposed to one with a robot fetish) is also real enough to be considered a sentient being with rights.

Mother’s Day (May 13th, 2012)

After a journalist made shockingly clueless statements about the Secret Service prostitution scandal, Christopher Ryan (co-author of Sex At Dawn) published a reaction which echoes many of the same points I made in this column:

NPR’s Scott Simon…suggests that the real scandal may be the original decision to hold the Summit…in Cartagena…”Why were world leaders meeting in a place with legalized prostitution?”…there are a host of very ugly realities often associated with prostitution…But all these things are mitigated by legalization, and Simon wasn’t suggesting the meeting shouldn’t have been held in a place where prostitution exists, but in a place where it’s legal…Simon asks, “Would you want someone you love to live that way?”  No, probably not.  But…I wouldn’t want someone I love working in a steel mill or a coal mine, either…nor…sent off to distant deserts…in defense of jingoistic abstractions…But nobody’s proposing that we make industry [or] the military…illegal…we gain nothing from legally prohibiting the expression of human nature, and what we lose is…the opportunity to…mitigate the damage…If someone you love chose to work as a prostitute, would you rather she had legal and medical protection, or would you prefer she be forced into the shadows…That’s the question we need to be asking.

Metaupdates

Against Their Will in August Updates (Part Two) (August 4th, 2011)

Add Malaysia to the list of countries the US State Department encourages to violently persecute whores:  “In 2008 the US…gave Malaysia the lowest rating in its annual Trafficking In Persons Report…Now nearly all brothels…have been shut.  Sex workers are forced to work in dangerous and difficult conditions on streets throughout the capital.  For its violent efforts to suppress the sex industry the US Government raised Malaysia to tier 2 level in its 2009 TIP report.”

One Year Ago Today

A Procrustean Bed” explains how a new Massachusetts law defines women as helpless infants and men as international gangsters.

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Man’s mind is so formed that it is far more susceptible to falsehood than to truth.  –  Desiderius Erasmus

Eleven updates and two meta-updates.

Amsterdam (November 1st, 2010)

Prohibitionists claim that “sex trafficking” decreases when prostitution is criminalized and increases when it is legalized or decriminalized; the Netherlands is one of their favorite targets, and here Wendy Lyon of Feminist Ire demonstrates that recent statistics fail to support prohibitionist claims, and that what “trafficking” there is seems more the fault of Dutch controls than of the sex trade itself.

Sea Change (November 4th, 2010)

Increasing numbers of educated people reject prohibitionist claims about sex work and even recognize it as a positive good.  One of these is Dr. Hernando Chaves, sex columnist for AskMen, who recently answered the question “Is there anything wrong with [seeing] a prostitute? What risks are there…?

…This answer for you depends on…personal attitudes, social judgments, religious/spiritual views, your culture…and a host of other variables…In many cultures throughout history, money…[has] been exchanged for…sexual activity, sometimes as a form of…worship…besides the risk of being arrested and charged where it’s not legal, the risks are quite similar those you would take on with a non-sex-work partner.  Any partner can break your heart, take your money, pass along an STI…and so on.  It’s not fair to attribute these risks [only] to sex workers…some…bring up sex slavery…and other dark sides to sexual activity, but…true sex work…is a business decision made by consenting adults…

Welcome To Our World (January 20th, 2011)

Most of you have probably heard of the controversy over Mike Daisey’s highly-falsified report of conditions in Apple’s Chinese factories:

Public radio’s popular This American Life episode about abuses in the Foxconn factories…has been retracted on the grounds of… “significant fabrications”…When you read something bad about a Foxconn factory and then see that thousands of people line up for the chance of a job at one of them, that really ought to make you wonder.  What were those guys doing the day before they decided to stand in line?…

This is of course what writers like Dr. Laura Agustín keep trying to make people understand:  prohibitionists harp on what they consider horrible conditions in third-world brothels, or in the process of migration to a more affluent country, but ignore that people nearly always chose them as the best available option.  Furthermore, busybodies just can’t resist depicting these choices as worse than they actually are:

…If you’ve ever tweeted about how bad Apple is, blogged about the evils of Foxconn’s sweatshops, or “Liked” a Facebook post excoriating how iPads are made, then you should listen [to the retraction of Daisey’s story]…I’ve covered the company as a reporter for more than a decade…Mike Daisey claimed to have come across 12-year-old workers, armed guards, crippled factory operators.  We saw none of that.  And we did try to find them.  Nothing would have been more compelling for us and our story than to have a chat with a preteen factory operator about how she enjoyed (or not) working 12-hour shifts making iPads.  We didn’t get such an anecdote…The biggest gripe, which surprised us somewhat, is that they don’t get enough overtime.  They wanted to work more, to get more money…It wasn’t paradise…some of their managers were harsh…and…others found their job boring.  Some were just plain homesick…Compared to the lies, the truth just doesn’t make good theater.

Now substitute “Nick Kristof” for “Mike Daisey”, “brothel” for “factory”…you get the picture.

Shifting the Blame (January 26th, 2011)

This story has been pitched by a number of advocates as good news, but my skeptical mind can’t help noticing that the commissioner who said “What activities these victims may have engaged in…does not matter…They were young women whose lives were cut tragically short,“ has been replaced by one who is “on the same page” with the DA who says it was the victims’ fault for being whores:

The Suffolk police…has a new chief who says he plans a fresh look at…the Gilgo Beach murders, and believes more than one killer was responsible…That view is at odds with a single-killer theory that was aired last December by then-Police Commissioner Richard Dormer, setting off an unusual public argument with District Attorney Thomas Spota, who also believes there were multiple killers.  Spota said it’s good that he and Fitzpatrick are “on the same page…Not one detective familiar with the facts of this case believes one person is responsible for these homicides”…

Of course, that’s what they would say since the chief suspect is a cop.  And speaking of serial killers…

Surplus Women (September 27th, 2011)

The FBI suspects a number of serial killers are working as long-haul truckers, the better to cover up their monstrous deeds.”  It looks like they’ve found one:

A 54-year-old truck driver from San Antonio…[named] Kenneth Dunn picked up Stephanie Williams, 43, at a truckstop outside of Dallas in February.  Dunn then fatally beat Williams and dumped her body in an industrial area…about a week later, Dunn was arrested and charged with murder…Police said that five other prostitutes have been found dead in the Lubbock area over the past dozen years…Dunn…hasn’t [yet] been charged in any of them…

Elephant in the Parlor (October 23rd, 2011)

Politicians hiring hookers isn’t news, unless they’re impotent Swedish politicians:

…[A former government] minister…has been convicted for trying to buy sex from a known prostitute…police saw him pick up the woman in his car…[but he] felt that he was being followed, [so] he stopped the car…and let her out…When he found out he was under suspicion for attempting to purchase sex he confessed straight away and was fined 19,200 kronor ($2,814).  Now, however, he denies all allegations.  “I have prostate cancer and it is treated with hormones, which means the sex drive disappears.  I am medically castrated, one could say,” he told Aftonbladet.  Instead, the man claims he was giving the woman a ride home…“The police told me that I could choose between the case being taken to court with all the public exposure that would entail or accept an order of summary punishment…”

Note how, though women are supposedly not targeted by the Swedish Model, the police spy on “known prostitutes” in order to entrap and shake down men.

Bad Fantasy, Good Reality (October 27th, 2011)

Yet another Asian prostitute study confirms what we already know:

Female prostitutes on average earn VND10.6 million per month (over $500) while male prostitutes earn VND6.55 million (over $300), around 2.5 times over the average earning of the group of 20 percent highest income earners in Vietnam…Dr. Nguyen Huu Minh…says that around three fourths of the interviewed prostitutes began …at the age of less than 25; 18 percent of them at the age of 16-18 and around four percent at the age of less than 15…nearly 50 percent…have secondary, high school and university degrees…over 60 percent of the interviewed prostitutes work independently or in a group of friends and acquaintances…Most…said that they became prostitutes because of high income (53 percent)…

Note also that even in one of the poorest countries in the region, very few girls enter the trade at an age below 15…just like everywhere else.

Schadenfreude (November 28th, 2011)

Southeast Asian sex worker rights organizations enjoy making videos to call attention to their mistreatment at the hands of police spurred on by American busybodies; here’s a cute little silent comedy named “Last Rescue in Siam” from the Thai organization EMPOWER.  Enjoy!

Gullible’s Travels (December 27th, 2011)

In the first paragraph of this column I provided a short list of recent media scares; if you’d like more of the same, here’s Gawker’s “Timeline of Moral Panics in the Last Decade”.  Sex trafficking hysteria is conspicuous by its absence; I guess they only wanted scares rather than full-blown panics.

Twice as Interesting (February 11th, 2012)

The prostitute and the stripper who participated in the Ottawa “Human Library” recently published an article in which they take exception to a reporter’s coverage of the program:

…Anthony Furey…balks at “activist agendas” that “turn human beings into stereotypes”…he considers most of the human books to be “of a decidedly fringe flavour”…[and] insists that the…event “fetishizes people’s differences” and argues that “whatever differences there are have more to do with their character…”  [But] as much as we’d like to think that people are judged only by their characters, that is simply not true…for those of us “of a decidedly fringe flavour,” our experiences with stigma and discrimination have shaped our lives.  These are precisely the differences that are important to hear about.  As such, the Human Library is not fetishizing people’s differences, but rather bringing diverse (and in many cases, rarely heard) experiences to light…

Knights Erroneous (March 18th, 2012)

A couple of hours after last Sunday’s column was published, I noticed a huge surge in traffic; as it turns out, Nicholas Kristof had discovered the column and “tweeted” it to his 1.2 million followers, eventually resulting in a new record for visits in one day (3522).  A number of those visitors subscribed, so I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome them and to thank Kristof for all the new readers.  On the same day he published another of his Backpage smear columns, only this time he failed to cover his tracks:

Nicholas D. Kristof…wrote…”Alissa says pimps routinely peddled her on Backpage”…That is not true.  According to Alissa’s court testimony, she was 16 in 2003.  Backpage.com did not exist…in 2003…she…came to the FBI’s attention in August, 2005 [and] was…relocated away from…Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Atlantic City…In the summer of 2005 Backpage.com did not exist in [those cities]…Had Kristof followed any of The New York Times’ standards of journalism, he would have known this.  He could have read the court transcripts…[or] coverage in The Boston Globe…[or even] asked us…Instead, he concocted a story to suit his agenda and then asked his readers to boycott Village Voice Media…

This isn’t the first time Kristof has lied to advance one of his crusades; look for “Feet of Clay”, coming April 5th, for another example from a decade ago.

Metaupdates

Coming and Going in That Was the Week That Was (#10) (March 10th, 2012)

The Manhattan district attorney’s office spent five years and hundreds of man-hours spying on Anna Gristina, and for what? “Gristina…is considering pleading guilty to the one charge against her — felony promoting of prostitution.  Even if prosecutors were successful at winning the maximum sentence…2½ years…she’d serve only…a year…before…work release as a nonviolent first offender…”  New York readers, do you really feel this is a valid use of your public funds?  This editorialist doesn’t:  “…See, crimes should have an actual victim. If they don’t, than they don’t make any sense.  Crimes without victims are well, stupid.  They are a waste of resources, tax dollars and waste the freedoms and liberties of the people charged…This prosecution is simply idiotic…

The Sky is Falling! in That Was the Week That Was (#11) (March 17th, 2012)

Last week I reported that a newspaper editor had died while visiting his sugar baby; well, it turns out she wasn’t a sugar baby and he was a total hypocrite:

…The young woman Caldwell visited was a full-time call girl…[who] has been advertising…for three years on a regional website called TNA Board…Since 2000…Caldwell …published at least 16…editorials on prostitution.  “Some people will tell you that prostitution is a victimless crime,” an Oregonian editorial said in 2001.  “They’re wrong…[W]hen you think about it, you realize prostitution isn’t ‘victimless’ even when prostitutes reach the grand old ages of 15 or 17 or 19.”  In 2008, another…editorial linked prostitution to “distress, blight and violence,” and…[in] 2010 [another]…in favor of a city proposal to seize assets…[said] “The embarrassment factor probably doesn’t weigh heavily on pimps…but with johns, it’s a different story.”

Maybe once enough of these lying bastards are exposed, they’ll finally begin to publicly support the rights of women they patronize in private.

One Year Ago Today 

The Soft Weapon” reports on the Village Voice’s debunking of the Schapiro Group, and a Canadian editorial’s comparing sex work to hockey.

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