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Diary #468

It’s always relaxing to go and spend the weekend at Sunset, but I’m going to have to figure out a way to get myself to actually write when I’m out here because I invariably neglect it in favor of watching movies, cooking, drinking, getting stoned and doing stuff to get the place in order.  I mean, look at this picture below and I think you will get the idea of what I’m talking about; how can a person be expected to focus on writing with a triple white Russian (with chocolate milk; maybe “brown Russian”?) on hand, a pig hanging around on the other side, and a friendly outside cat continually trying to jump on one’s lap?  It’s just not going to work.  But apparently, there’s a rolltop desk out in the garage, and it has been proposed that this desk could be cleaned up and moved inside so I can work on it as I do at The Den (where I also have a rolltop).  See, the people I bought the place from were kinda semi-hoarders, which is not unusual for folks who came of age during the Great Depression.  So actually, they left a LOT of things out here; most of them were just junk and we had to get rid of them in order to make use of the shop, garage and barn, and when we expanded the barnyard over the weekend we found lots more that will have to be removed for the safety of the animals.  For example, we keep finding old box springs and mattress springs buried just below the surface of the ground, interspersed with other metal rubbish, broken bottles, ceramic fragments, electrical transformers, car batteries…I have no explanation other than hoarding behavior.  But the yard is expanded and the animals now have more lush grazing area and trees, and there are now three proper gates.  We’re about to start the bookcase-building project, and once we hit the dry season next month it’ll at last be floor-repair time.  Now do you see why I have trouble writing out here?   

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In the past few weeks I’ve seen my name and my work all over the place!  The War on Whores is starting to get more attention, and this coming weekend I’ll be doing three screenings in Florida with the help of SWOP Behind Bars:  Friday at 4 PM at the LGBT Center in Orlando; Saturday at 11 AM for an academic audience in St. Petersburg; and Sunday at 5 PM at a pub in Tampa (contact SWOP Behind Bars for details).  Thank y’all so much for responding to my request for more reviews, and Stephen Lemmons of Frontpage Confidential wrote a long-form review here:

Sex worker, writer and savant Maggie McNeill’s new documentary, The War on Whores, should be required viewing for all journalists covering the movement to decriminalize sex work…The film is part autobiography, part exposé  on the deceitfulness of the so-called “rescue industry,” a cabal of nonprofits, talking heads and cops that has created a nationwide moral panic over “sex trafficking”…[which] these fascistic do-gooder types [conflate with]…garden-variety prostitution…to [further] the rescue industry’s long con…McNeill has an intellect sharper than a diamond cutter, possesses more than one college degree, and is a brilliant writer whose work has appeared in Reason magazine, the Cato Institute’s Cato Unbound, and the Washington Post,  where a 2014 column of hers, “Lies, damned lies and sex work statistics”, remains part of the requisite syllabus for anyone following the fight for decrim, one of the great civil rights struggles of our age…

As it happens, I’ve got an article in the current issue of Reason, “Consenting To Be Paid for Sex Is Still Consenting!“; it inspired this essay on Patheos:

…If a man…believes that women are resources to be bartered among men, resources who control access to sex but don’t actually deserve control over their own bodies, then we have a problem.  Because, as McNeill points out…“sex is an exchange, whether you like it or not.”  It’s just that when the relationship is coded as intimate, monogamous, mutually affectionate, and non-transactional, there seems to be no cost to either party (despite the bartering around chores and such that obviously happens between some long-term monogamous couples).  But thinking of sex in these terms does not negate the importance of consent…if you firmly, utterly believe that women are capable of giving consent in intimate relationships but not in sex work, then you need to reexamine your assumptions about what it’s like to live and work under capitalism.  If you believe that women “owe” men sex, and that sex is thus a resource that the government can step in to redistribute through “enforced monogamy” or whatever nonsense of the day is being spouted, then you need to examine your internalized misogyny.  People can and do give consent under conditions that are not always of their choosing – but hey, welcome to life…

And even though I’m not directly quoted in this one from the Chicago Tribune, I did assist author Steve Chapman in finding the sources he needed (note that Steve understands the difference between legalization & decriminalization even i the editor who wrote that headline doesn’t):

…Most commodities and services that may be legally given away may also be bought and sold.  But not sex.  A person can use all sorts of persuasive means to get another person to go to bed with them.  And a person can consent to do so for a vast range of motives.  When money changes hands for that explicit purpose, though, the law suddenly intrudes…Tens of thousands of men and women are arrested each year for their role in it…We have long since embraced the idea that what adults choose to do for sexual gratification is not the business of the government.  One day we may accept that the same is true for whether they pay for it…

After ten years of very public activism, it looks like my message is finally beginning to sink into enough heads to attract even politicians’ attention.  And given how big and loud the sex worker rights movement is becoming, it’ll just go up from here.

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Sumer is Icumen In

Long-time readers know that I have kind of the opposite of seasonal affective disorder; because I’m so high-strung the short, gloomy winter days actually bring my natural tensions down into the manageable range, whereas the long, bright summer days increase my anxiety to the point where it can become almost intolerable.  Even when it’s a rainy day, the higher levels of ambient light throw my pineal gland way off, and it’s very difficult to get my brain to calm down before midnight (it’s not so bad in the morning because I use blackout curtains and cover my eyes with my hair).  Like so many other things, I’ve learned over the years how to manage the problem to some degree; as anyone who’s ever visited The Den (as I call it, evoking ideas like “Snake Den”, “Den of Iniquity” and “Drug Den”) knows, I keep it rather dark in here, and then of course there’s my nightly cannabis edible.  I usually consume that about 11 or 11:30, but when I’m out at Sunset I tend to start a lot earlier because I know I won’t be required to go anywhere or do anything.  Maybe that’s one of the reasons I’m more relaxed out there; Jae says she can actually see my shoulders drop, and Grace agrees with her.  Because of that, I’m trying to bring as much of that experience as I can into the city; I no longer answer voice calls from numbers I don’t recognize (at any time of day or night, but especially in the late evening), and I’m trying to enforce an 11pm writing curfew on myself whenever possible so I can force my brain to just relax into the THC and wind the fuck down.  It also helps that even though the summer days are longer here than at lower latitudes, they’re also much cooler, which removes one of the things that used to stress me out about summer (true fact: in my twenties I used to lose roughly 5-10 pounds every summer in Louisiana because the heat killed my appetite for anything more than a glass of iced tea and maybe an egg salad sandwich or a few french fries).  No mitigation technique is perfect, of course, but at least my advancing age makes the summers seem much shorter than they used to be, and once the Dog Days are over I can start looking forward to the comparative (emotional) peace and (mental) quiet of autumn.

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I promised I’d show y’all a photo of the lovely steel rose sculpture a gentleman gave me three weeks ago, but I’m afraid photography is not one of my strong suits and this was the best I could do (I decided to hold it in my hand for scale).  It’s one of several generous gifts I’ve received lately; another was a very fancy drill press for Grace, which I’ll be taking her when I visit Friday for her birthday.  Alas, unlike the rose I don’t know who sent the drill press; ever since Amazon started doing its own deliveries it has really dropped the ball on packaging, so the first I knew of the delivery was when one of my neighbors told me it was sitting outside my door, just as though it had been taken from a shelf at Home Depot, with no shipping carton or packing list or anything to let me know who sent it (other than the shipping label with my address on it).  I’ve mentioned it on Twitter several times, but no answer; if you sent it, please let me know!  And speaking of presents, it’s now my turn to give one to some of y’all:  Paul Johnson received our first shipment of DVDs late last week, so I’ll be sending those out to donors very soon!  If you donated at the $60 or $125 level, expect me to ask your address in the next few days.  In just over a week I’ll be flying to Florida for three screenings arranged by SWOP Behind Bars; thanks to all my donors for helping that to happen!  And thanks to everyone who kindness and generosity – in the past, in the future and every day – helps make my life just a bit easier and a whole lot nicer.

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Back Issue #71

For a man to…stare into my vulva as though he expected to see the future in it, makes me very uncomfortable.  –  “Aversions

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Diary #465

As those of you who read this blog every day already know, a week ago today I flew cross-country to see a lovely and generous gentleman overnight; I returned the next day and on Friday rode out to Sunset for the weekend.  My gent gave me a lovely metal sculpture of a rose, and I would’ve featured a picture of it in this column had I been able to take a good one in time.  See, because of the metal “thorns” neither he nor I was willing to risk some TSA goon deciding it was a “weapon” and stealing it from me, so he instead shipped it and it arrived a few hours after I left on Friday, and my landlord kept it and gave it to me last night, when it was too dark to get a good shot.  Had my brain been operating at full capacity I probably could’ve figured out a way to take one, but as I explained yesterday I was just emotionally exhausted, so it’ll have to wait.  As a poor but interesting substitute, please enjoy this picture of an actual egg one of my hens laid on Thursday; when I first saw it I thought it was a goose egg (for those who don’t have a good idea of the size of my hand, the egg is over 3″ long and a typical large egg is about 2″).  Anyhow, I ate it for dinner last night and it not only had two yolks, but covered roughly the same area in my skillet as three eggs ordinarily would, so I’m guessing it’s from the same hen who used to regularly lay double-yolked eggs last year (maybe it’s something she does in warm weather?)  Anyhow, we’re just about finished expanding the corral, we’ve started on the bookcases and Jae is just about finished decorating my room, so I’ll share a pic of that soon; it’s so nice to have my canopy bed back after it was in storage for 17 years!

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Some of you may have noticed that for all my steel, thunder and rationality, I’m also a very sentimental person.  The top of my desk is cluttered with cards, small gifts and other mementos given me by people I love, and I have difficulty getting rid of things I’m used to having around even if they don’t actually work well anymore.  But a car is something that must be reliable to be useful at all, so when my mechanic told me that my automatic transmission’s shifting difficulty was a harbinger of its imminent demise (and that wasn’t even the only issue), I knew it was time to retire my burgundy-colored 2000 Honda Accord (just a few months after the premiere of The War on Whores, in which she has a small part).  Fortunately, another sex worker I know was thinking of getting rid of her 2002 Saturn; the car’s in very good shape (and very low mileage for an 18-year-old) but she rarely drove it, and didn’t feel it was worth the expense of maintaining any longer.  She gave me a very good price, and yesterday I sold the old one to a mechanic who’s going put a salvage transmission in it for his teenage daughter to drive.  All very reasonable and practical and for the best, and it wasn’t like I was really in love with the Accord, and she’s going to a good home.  But I was used to her, and comfortable with her, and I really dislike change.  So I’m sure you’ll forgive me if I shed a tear for the old girl, and thank her for getting me around dependably for the past three and a half years.

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