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Posts Tagged ‘bogus studies’

This is what a sex panic looks like.  – Mireille Miller-Young

Backlash

Whenever South African sex workers make some advance toward rights, you can be sure the cops will soon arrive to “teach them a lesson”:

Last week…police arrived at a field in Pretoria West known as “The Bush” and told sex workers they were there to get rid of them…Sex workers said about 100…cops arrived in two buses and told them that they “were a disgrace to schoolchildren” and they were there to “clean up” the area…This harassment has been going on since November…despite Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa saying in March that sex workers were “entitled to dignity”…[last] Wednesday the shacks in which they entertain their clients were burned down and condoms destroyed…SWEAT and Sisonke alleged that the metro police were ordered by Tshwane mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa to “clean up the site”.  Blessing Manale, the mayor’s spokesman, did not respond to requests for comment…

Surplus Women 

The [New Zealand] Prostitutes Collective will increase its presence in Christchurch…after the body of a sex worker was found…Renee Duckmanton, who was 22, was found…on…[the] night [of May 15th…it [is] not yet known if Ms Duckmanton’s work is connected to her death…[she] suffered burns and her death is being treated as a homicide…

The More the Better

This is a cute article on sex workers’ ideas of what a perfect brothel would look like.  But what makes it most interesting to me isn’t the content of the suggestions, but rather the fact that articles like this are seeing the light of day.  Hey, prohibitionists: We’re winning.  And there ain’t a damned thing you can do about it.

Blunt Instrument

Another asinine “crackdown” on massage parlors, using the usual excuse:

The Salt Lake County Council amended a business ordinance recently in the hopes of cracking down on the illegal sex trade…Under the old ordinance, if a contractor was found in violation of a criminal act, like prostitution, their license would be revoked.  Now, under the new amendment, authorities also revoke the business owner’s license…therapists, and the businesses they work for, can also be cited if they’re not licensed…[cops also] say they’re hoping the legislature [increases criminal penalties for sex workers]…

Under Every Bed

These articles aren’t even funny any more; they’re just pathetically stupid:

…sex trafficking…[is] happening in Louisiana — on a much larger scale than most people realize — and Caddo is among the parishes with the highest number of…victims recovered…according to Louisiana Department of Children & Family Services…only East Baton Rouge parish…and Orleans parish…had more…The state serves as a hub for sex trafficking mainly because of its interstates — particularly I-20 and I-49, according to FBI Senior Resident Agent Chris Cantrell…

Among other idiocies: a “child advocacy center” un-ironically calling itself “Gingerbread House“, as if completely oblivious to the meaning of the phrase.

Monsters 

another trans woman [has] been murdered and…misgendered in death. And again, it’s a Black trans woman who’s been murdered. This time it was 32-year-old…Mercedes Successful, who was found shot to death on [May 15th] in a [Florida] parking lot…

Paint By Numbers

Why just stand around, when you can HIKE to “raise awareness”?

On May 29, those who are hiking can also help a great cause by taking part in the fourth annual Tread on Trafficking hosted by Love 146…from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m., the group will have a table set up where hikers can come and register or even just ask questions about what Love 146 is all about.  Love 146 is an organization…that cares for survivors of child sex trafficking, and protects youth all around the globe…

Property of the State (#527) 

This case horrifies me more than almost any other of this century:

…Purvi Patel was…the first woman in the U.S. to be convicted and sentenced on “feticide” charges for ending her own pregnancy.  Patel says she had a miscarriage.  When she arrived, bleeding, at a hospital near South Bend, her doctor called the police on her.  The state of Indiana charged her with both feticide for allegedly inducing an abortion, and child neglect for allegedly having a premature baby and then allowing the baby to die — an inconsistent and contradictory set of charges.  On May 23, Ms. Patel’s case [came] up for an appeal.  And all of us who care about reproductive rights had better be paying attention, because…permitting a person to be charged based on the outcome of the pregnancy could mean requiring people to prove that a miscarriage or a stillbirth was unintentional.  This is a terribly slippery slope…

Quite Possibly the Most Uptight Nerd Ever (#611)

I’m going to cut straight to the meat of this article about whether escorting will survive dating apps:

…even with the rise of Tinder, and readily available casual sex, escorting isn’t likely to go anywhere.  Sex work isn’t solely about paying for sexual experiences; it’s about paying for a clearly defined relationship where the boundaries and expectations are out on the table.  Articles about the “dating apocalypse” supposedly fueled by Tinder and the like offer an argument for the continued appeal of escorting.  Though hookup culture superficially achieves the same goal, at least on the demand side, it brings with it a potential for emotional messiness and mismatched expectations that truly transactional sex work neatly avoids…

Size Matters (#619)

On the sentencing of Tracy Elise:

Her sentence is 4.5 years and she is receiving credit for the time she has already served…which is roughly 10 months.  She is not receiving credit for the year and a half she was on house arrest…With programs and “early kick-out” she will serve between 2-2.5 years.  We will know what her estimated release date is in about a month.  We are filing appeals, and will be filing a sentence of stay to get Tracy out for appeals, but this process takes time (6 months to a year)…

Morality Lessons

A powerful takedown of “porn is a public health crisis” nonsense:

Is pornography a public-health crisis?  Of course not.  While it is not surprising to see the Utah legislature unanimously declare it one…what remains shocking is the perceived legitimacy of anti-porn activists, despite the profound unreliability and inconsistency of their hyperbolic claims…How has a movement based on such shaky theoretical ground succeeded in a massive campaign to convince the public that sexually explicit media is responsible for an epidemic of sexualized violence against women and children; the rise of a zombie army of emotionally robbed and sexually desensitized men; and the explosion of an underworld of prostitutes trafficked directly from porn sets to street corners across the nation?  This is not real…Gail Dines…and her…claims are not just far-reaching, they are dangerous…

Do As I Say, Not As I Do (#633)

Letting cops get away with rape is OK, but we just CAN’T let them have consensual sex!

…Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office sergeant let a Boynton Beach police officer caught on camera soliciting sex from an undercover officer go free…Oscar Cardenas told deputies…to let…Vintyre Finney…go free — even after deputies had handcuffed and detained him…

Turning Point

In which NSWP counters the absurd prohibitionist arguments which have appeared in response to the New York Times Magazine piece:

…Branding the decriminalisation of third parties as an attempt to “legalise pimps and brothel keeping” undermines sex workers in their struggle for labour rights and justice…sex workers can be employees, employers, or independent workers and participate in a range of other work-related relationships with third parties, for example paying someone to drive them to appointments or do their advertising.  Third party laws…increase…sex workers vulnerability to HIV transmission…[and] expose…sex workers to unsafe working environments…The police use third party laws to harass sex workers and limit their access to services and support by targeting other parties, such as landlords…Sex workers themselves can be prosecuted if they work together using third party laws…The children or partners of sex workers can be prosecuted as third parties, for living of the earnings of a sex worker…

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You can only really help people if you respect them.  –  Emily Bazelon

Broken Record pizza girl

Canadian prohibitionists are desperate to cash in before the panic implodes:

…Ernie Allen…[helped to write] a new [wanking fantasy] study…The study refers to increased prostitution, some of it involving minors, during the annual Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal…“During (the Grand Prix) weekend, many adolescent girls run away from youth centres…because their traffickers need them to cater to tourist demand,” the study [fantasizes]…many of the girls are threatened, beaten up and enslaved…Atlanta and Las Vegas are also highlighted in the report.  “These are hub cities, magnet cities where people go for sporting events, for conventions, for trade shows…These are people who travel to a location for another purpose and while there encounter a situation where there’s an opportunity to have sex with a child and they do it…The purchaser doesn’t have to go to a city street. He can shop online for a child for sex from the safety of his home or hotel room”…

I’m disappointed that Ernie didn’t compare these “slave children” to pizza.

Bogeymen

Because women are passive dolls without volition who never make any decision without male coercion:

A New Port Richey [Florida] man is accused of being at the center of a human trafficking ring and targeting some of the most vulnerable women…Clent Ruffin…was already in jail on major drug charges…Melanie Snow, a spokesperson for the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office [claimed] Ruffin would target women in strip clubs…and convince them to come back to his house…then get them hooked on drugs, like heroin, and force them to do sexual favors for his customers…

Obviously, women never decide to take drugs on our own; there’s always some Svengali with magical pimp mind-control powers “getting then hooked”.

Worse Than I Thought

Missouri wants to define escort ads as “sex trafficking”:

The Missouri legislature has passed…a…bill [which] would add advertising sex with trafficking victims to the state’s definition of the crime of trafficking.  Trafficking is a felony punishable by 5 to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or 10-years in prison or life, depending on the age of the victim…

Bottleneck

Susan Shepard of Tits and Sass compares the persecution of ridesharing companies to the absurdity of stripper licensing:

…Stripper licensing [in Texas] is, like cab licensing, done on a city or county basis.  There isn’t yet any state-level licensing, although…representative Bill Zedler proposed one in 2013 that would have required strippers to take a training course on human trafficking, and in 2015 a Pennsylvania proposal to create a statewide stripper registry stalled out.  In both cases, the legislators were fairly transparent that they wanted to use the proposed licenses as disincentives…Like most laws around the industry, what is touted as protecting women and children is actually about controlling women’s movements and policing nonwhites.  The licensing process in most jurisdictions only looks for drug- and prostitution-related charges and convictions…a felony—even a homicide charge—isn’t going to disqualify someone from a stripper license, but a mere arrest on one of the specified charges can be enough to prevent the granting of a license even if the applicant was found not guilty…

So Close and Yet So Far

Protip: If you’re writing an article about “feminist” reasons to support decriminalization, do NOT get your definition of it from a prominent prohibitionist who led a successful re-criminalization campaign: “…decriminalization…essentially ‘eliminates all laws’ regulating sex work, according to Professor Donna Hughes at the University of Rhode Island…”  This is a common prohibitionist lie intended to frighten & confuse law-and-order types and progressives who think people shouldn’t be allowed to blow their own noses without some sort of government regulation.  Decriminalization is the removal of criminal laws intended to control or “regulate” sex work, hence that word “decriminalization”.  Hughes’ statement is exactly as true as the statement, “there are no laws regulating food service”; of course there are, but they’re not criminal laws. This is about the highest level of rhetoric of which prohibitionists are capable, yet the naive and ignorant just keep lapping it up.

Dutch Threat 

The Dutch seem determined to slowly throttle sex work to death:

…The leader of our Christian Party…wants to make it illegal to pay for the services of a sex worker when you should have been able to know she’s a victim of exploitation.  “For example, when she’s working from a cellar somewhere, bruised, with two big Bulgarian guys at the door”…Politicians often paint this picture of the perfect victim…many fall into a semi-pornographic style when describing their fantasies…In the last couple of years, over half of legal working places for prostitutes have been closed.  Brothels are shut down, windows are closed, and no new licences to work are given to anyone…Those who still work from a licenced location are harassed by police, their workplaces broken into, their homes smashed up and their belongings taken.  They are subject to random semi-arrests, where they’re put into police vans and taken to the station for questioning because they’re suspected of being a victim…Many hotels no longer accept escorts or try to keep them out.  Renting an apartment to work from is all but impossible, and working from home means your landlord can kick you out.  So voluntary workers are pushed into basements and sheds and caravans.  Regular security companies will not work with prostitutes…So if you’re working from a shed somewhere and you want some big guys to keep you safe, you’re forced to work with people who will do it.  You know, off the record.  Two big Bulgarian guys, perhaps.  And there you have it: the girl working from a shed with two big guys at the door…

Dysphemisms Galore 

It’s like they’re competing to see who can write the most cop-fellatory article imaginable:

Nothing shocks Sgt. Torrey Kennedy anymore…“We’re going after John’s [sic] and pimps, and calling them what they are — pedophiles and sex offenders,” he says…“Finding sex trafficking in Atlanta is easier than shooting fish in a barrel”…inviting CBS46 on a wild and exclusive ride into the city’s naked underbelly, teeming with predators…Thousands of women in Atlanta are sold for sex every day, including an estimated 200-300 underage girls a month…Kennedy straps on a bullet proof vest, and we head to a shopping center to join his backup; a squad of patrol cars circle a giant dumpster and hatch a plan take out the human trash…

Do As I Say, Not As I Do (#410)

Anyone who is “shocked” by this should probably consider moving to a remote farm without television or internet:

A female garda has allegedly been accused of working as an escort in her spare time…after gardai at a Dublin station allegedly received a tip-off…Gardai are allegedly probing whether the woman in question only started working as a call girl in the last two months.  If the claims are true, she will be facing the sack…A garda representative source also confirmed that they are aware of the shocking claims…

A Procrustean Bed (#502) Portrait of Love by Molly Crabapple (2016)

Molly Crabapple profiles a woman who fought New York’s agency-denying “trafficking courts”:

…Love…had once been a sex worker…but by the time she was arrested on the charge that brought her to the courtroom, she was out of the business and pursuing a degree as a surgical technician.  The problem was, the cops still knew her face, and…figured she was…an easy stat-padding arrest.  They snatched her, threw her in a cell, then charged her with misdemeanor prostitution…Love…demanded a trial…the prosecutor offered no hard proof any crime had been committed.  Instead he had only her prostitution record and an undercover officer’s word…the judge declared her not guilty.  Love wasn’t content just to prove her innocence.  She…hired an attorney to sue the city for false arrest.  The case was settled out of court for $15,000, and, exactly a year after the initial trial, in November 2015, Love had the money in hand…

What Were You All Waiting For? 

Though this editorial is a bit too accepting of “end demand” rhetoric, it’s a good counter to the Seattle Times‘ nauseating bootlicking & pompous prohibitionism:

The title of a powerful feature published in The New York Times Magazine on Sunday posed the question: “Should Prostitution Be a Crime?”  Reporter Emily Bazelon spoke with dozens of sex workers around the world, including several from Seattle, to draw a nuanced portrait of the underground sex economy…Many of Bazelon’s subjects (much like Amnesty International and the Human Rights Watch) want to decriminalize sex work.  She describes the health benefits of removing criminal sanctions from in New Zealand and part of Australia, achieved without any discernible increase in the overall sex trade.  She lists the harms that well-intentioned crusaders have wrought upon their rescue targets.  She details the unholy alliance between the Christian right and…“carceral feminists” to turn the abolition of sold sex into a moral crusade.  She describes an influential abolitionist casually dismissing sex workers’ very capacity for consent. And she raises questions about…the extent to which violence and coercion influence people’s choices about whether to do sex work…

End Demand (#576)

KIRO, you have my phone number; next time call it before printing this kind of ludicrous garbage:

…the Washington Technology Industry Association…has teamed up with [fascist organ] Businesses Ending Slavery & Trafficking to try and eliminate sex trafficking in the tech industry…“It’s predominantly white men exploiting women of color” [lied] Michael Schutzler of the WTIA…Schutzler said 75 percent of sex trafficking transactions happen at about 2 p.m., and 62 percent of prostituted people meet clients on company property…

Since “trafficking” is used to mean “sex work” these days, just let the absurdity of this claim sink in; I can assure you that there is no way anything like even 6% of outcalls are to clients’ offices, and not even restaurants do 75% of their business in such a narrow window. Yet idiots lap up this shit like a dog eating its own vomit.

Checklist (#599)

Why do people just accept these ridiculous made-up numbers?

A new app tracks vulnerable girls in India and Bangladesh so nonprofits can help prevent trafficking and child marriage…Girl Power…has already helped save more than 200 girls from being exploited, NDTV reported.  Community facilitators and teachers are given tablets or Android phones, which have the app installed, and are tasked with registering young girls in 20 villages…

“Maggie McNeill’s providing a sexual outlet to frustrated husbands has already saved over 2000 marriages, Maggie McNeill reported.”  That statement is exactly as credible as the one in the story, and based on exactly the same type of “evidence”.

Under Every Bed (#631)

Spokane guys, please be careful; your local cops are on a fanatical crusade targeting YOU:

…Local law enforcement and federal agents teamed up for what is called, [sic] Operation Cross Country…It is a problem that…unfortunately exists in the Spokane area…FBI leaders said they are currently looking into participating in the operation again in 2016 to help rescue even more victims.  Before the operation in 2015, the FBI brought [pigs] over from Seattle from the Child Exploitation Task Force to [indoctrinate pigs] in the Inland Northwest on the [newest popular anti-whore propaganda]…

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America is a complicated, conflicted country founded by Puritans, constituted by libertarians and built by salesmen.  –  Mark Simpson

An Older Profession Than You May Have Thought

It’s impossible to state this too often:

While, on the surface, discussion of sex has become far more acceptable in recent years, in practise, many facts are still considered unpalatable.  And no subject arouses more emotion than the evolution of sex as a tradeable commodity: the biology of prostitution.  The idea that prostitution might be a biological impulse can deeply upset those with dogmatic viewpoints.  For religious people, the thought of a God that created prostitution is too much to take…But revulsion at the thought of sex trade goes far beyond religion.  As the political left has become increasingly conservative in its attitudes, it has become common to blame the existence of prostitution on Patriarchy or Capitalism.  Thus, for some feminists, banning prostitution is a part of their war on Patriarchy. And for socialists, attacking prostitution is part of a righteous war against Capital.  But the history of sex trade goes back many millions of years before humanity…

The Pro-Rape Coalition John Harvey Kellogg

This excellent article about anti-porn hysteria is also very droll at points:

PORN HORROR! headlines zoom repeatedly into our sightlines, warning us that pornography is “addictive” (despite an inconvenient lack of evidence), “ruins relationships” and “rewires men’s brains“, turning them into sex zombie automatons…The UK Government…is currently in the sweaty grip of…this hysteria.  With David Cameron’s controversial (and somewhat porous) ISP porn filters only recently installed, MPs are now turning their attention to the popularity of anal sex in online pornography…it’s important to note that the religious and legal definition of “sodomy” is not restricted to anal sex – it is essentially any non-procreative naughtiness, whatever the shape of the genitals involved…porn today is basically broadband sodomy – non-procreative sex acts piped into people’s hands for them to commit non-procreative sex acts over.  Current porn panics represent a digital-age, socially-concerned update of warnings about the terrible fate of Sodom and Gomorrah…The crusade against “fapping” is eerily reminiscent of the anti-masturbation movements of the 19th century …Dr John Harvey Kellogg…was one of the most famous foes of the “solitary vice”.  His bland cornflakes were supposed to save you from it – like porn today, an exciting diet was thought to lead to overstimulation…

Rooted in Racism

How can people not see that “sex trafficking” hysteria is firmly rooted in xenophobia?

…Although freedom of movement is guaranteed within the European Union, the right to stay – after the first three months – is dependent on new arrivals “exercising their treaty rights”, for example, by working or studying.  Operation Nexus, a combined police and immigration initiative…has been targeting [European migrants] …since 2012.  Among those detained and served with deportation papers are an increasing number of [sex workers] from…Romania…Several women fighting deportation are now being supported by the English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP)…Previous EU law cases have established that prostitution constitutes self-employment…

Saving Them From Themselves

Another teen’s life destroyed for flirting:

Another male teenager’s future is in jeopardy after police charged him with possession of child pornography…because he swapped sexy photos and videos with a girl.  Levar Allen, a 17-year-old athlete at his Louisiana public school, is black.  The girl, a 16-year-old, is white.  Local news stories note that she initiated the sexting, and he reciprocated…For what it’s worth, the girl was also charged with sexting.  But since she’s under the age of 17, it’s a misdemeanor.  Since Allen is a year older, he’s technically guilty of a felony…

Surplus Women

A prisoner is seeking an early release after having spent 15 years out of a life imprisonment…the Dubai Court of First Instance jailed the Uzbek convict, K.S., for life for trying to kidnap [a] Russian [sex worker], asphyxiating her and throwing her body from the balcony of [a] seven-storey flat…in 2001.  The 59-year-old petitioner has been…at Dubai Central Jail since his arrest on March 19, 2001…

Maier’s Law

Fanatic finds data disproves “sex trafficking” theory, concludes we need new data:

Sarah Godoy…has now authored a new comprehensive literature review of sex trafficking in the United States, with components of global human trafficking as well…Godoy included more than 135 pieces of [prohibitionist] literature [based] on [the] sex trafficking [narrative], dating from 1999 to 2016…While she found some enlightening and often horrific statistics…what she didn’t find was equally disturbing.  “Weak methodologies in empirical evidence, and small data sets that urge readers to not republish as…representative…That’s what we found.  We don’t really have a comprehensive, representative sample of what sex trafficking in the U.S. really is”…the [made-up] numbers compiled by Godoy are daunting.  According to the study, human trafficking is the fastest-growing criminal enterprise in the world…21 million…”I think it shows that not enough resources are being put into adequately capturing data…We have [myths about] what traffickers look like, but in every single capacity, there are a lot of gaps”…

Across the Pond

The main laws governing prostitution in the UK are still the 1956 Sexual Offences Act, which makes brothel-keeping an offence, and the 1959 Street Offences Act, which criminalises solicitation.  The Street Offences Act was created on the back of a 1957 document called the Wolfenden Report…[which] didn’t include testimony from a single working prostitute…Since sex workers began to demand a voice in law-making, there have been victories – the 1984 defeat of a dangerous bill; 2014’s quashing of another – but the pattern of legislating over their heads continued…And here we are in 2016, discussion raging once more.  Sex workers sidelined, once more.  When the current UK inquiry gathered oral evidence there [was]…just one current sex worker, Laura Lee…

The Last Shall Be First 

the Marion County [Florida] School Board approved a North Carolina-style Gender Inspection resolution that will prohibit transgender students from using the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity.  Over 100 people showed up to the School Board meeting…where this resolution was brought forward as an “emergency” agenda item just six days after it was introduced.  Forty-six people testified at the hearing, and the majority of testimony was in strong opposition…

The Course of a Disease

As I’ve said before, there can never be too many anti-Swedish model articles:

…What adherents to [the Swedish model pretend they]…don’t understand is that such laws only make working conditions much more dangerous for sex workers and do very little to curb the demand for commercial sex…laws criminalizing buyers…make…screening much more difficult…Since 2000, studies show, [Swedish] sex workers…have a much more difficult time negotiating safe sex (i.e. sex with condoms) and assessing dangerous clients…Sweden’s approach has actually increased the overall number of sex workers in that country and did not reduce trafficking in the region at all, according to the Swedish government’s own reports.  By contrast, countries that have decriminalized sex work…report no increase in…trafficking…and…sex workers in those countries are better able to protect themselves…

Soap Opera Trump hand sanitizer

For some reason, “sex trafficking” fetishists seem to trot out even more lurid masturbatory fantasies than usual for the Republican convention:

Both law enforcement and advocacy groups are predicting an increase in sex trafficking during Cleveland’s Republican National Convention in July…the Renee Jones Empowerment Center and the Collaborative Initiative to End Human Trafficking are actively working to [spread hysteria about] human trafficking in the weeks leading up to the convention.  “We know that it will occur,” said founder Renee Jones. “There’s no question in my mind”…Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution…visit…local motels to [harass]…employees [with nonsense about]…potential trafficking victims.  S.O.A.P volunteers…handed out…small bars of soap with a national trafficking hotline number.  The group’s founder, Therese Flores, [has made a career out of claims she] was once herself a trafficking victim and [repeats masturbatory fantasies about being] auctioned off at Detroit motel…

Original Sin

Officials invite religious fanatic to speak about her dogma, then feign surprise when she does:

…guest speaker Tajuan McCarty…told…roughly 300 people who attended…[an] event [at the US Army’s Redstone Arsenal] that “the only way to truly overcome the horrors of rape and sex trafficking is to have Jesus as your ‘King'”…McCarty is director of The Wellhouse in Birmingham, Alabama, often described as “a Christian home” for women rescued from the sex industry…[and] has told her [tragedy porn]…[on] 700 Club...

Under Every Bed

Another ridiculous tale of spineless women & pimps with magical powers:

…Yarmouth [Massachusetts] police raided a…house…and arrested a man on charges of running a prostitution operation…Police Chief Frank Frederickson [bloviated about] “Bringing women into this seedy atmosphere”…Kenneth E. Silva Jr…pleaded not guilty…Police…searched the house [and claimed] they found evidence of human trafficking…At least three women were working for Silva…Police did not arrest them because they were considered victims…pimps…control women through…a…”mind shift” [fantasized prohibitionist Stacy Gallagher]…”just like at major sporting events, women and kids are being sold.”

Paint By Numbers

“Anti-trafficking” publicity stunts are growing ever more bizarre:

Eddie Quann [imagines changes in propaganda represent changes in reality]…“Two years ago, 13-15 million people a year were being trafficked…Now…it’s 30-35 million.  It’s doubled.”  Human Trafficking — a modern-day form of slavery — is the second largest organized crime in the world next to drug trafficking…The workshop is a hands-on craft that runs about two-and-a-half hours.  Everyone is given a partially-made cloth doll, and with needle and thread, ribbon, yarn and so on, they stuff their doll and decorate it…As the dolls are sewn, participants learn all about human trafficking…“You can decorate it everywhere but the face,” said Gina. “The faceless doll represents all those sold into trafficking as faceless people.  To the ones selling them, who they are doesn’t matter.”  The doll goes home, hopefully to a prominent place in the house, as a reminder to pray daily for the millions of victims trapped in a degrading, powerless life…

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The unhealthy alliance of medicine and government…blesses all sorts of unjustified limits on liberty.  –  Thomas Szasz

bootlickerEven though I live in the same world as the bootlickers, they are somehow unable to see what’s going on all around them, or else they see it but can’t correlate it.  To them, this news story (for example) appears as something other than an abomination:

…once every three weeks, [Marziya] won’t be working the streets of Qurgon-Teppa as a prostitute…Those days are reserved for the morality classes she was recently enrolled in by local police…to turn…sex workers away from their profession.  The main goal…is to “help these women to get themselves on the right path”…The speakers…lecture…their audience on moral values…

Yes, this is Tajikistan rather than the US, but the US-based website for which the story was written is clearly blind to the mind-boggling hypocrisy of  women being forcibly subjected to “morality lessons” from the police.  You know, the same people who do this kind of thing, also in the name of “morality”:

…Kimberlee Carbone was pulled over by [Pennsylvania] police in November 2013, ostensibly because “she did not apply her turn signal at least 100 feet before the intersection.”  She was then subjected to a degrading five-hour ordeal that included a bogus DUI arrest, a search of her person and her car, a strip search at the county jail, and multiple probings of her anus and vagina at a hospital…Carbone was forced to remove her clothing, “bend over, spread her buttocks, and cough”…two [jailers], April Brightsue and Niesha Savage, [pretended] they saw a plastic bag protruding from her vagina, so they repeatedly instructed her to “prod her personal areas by inserting her fingers into her vagina” in the hope of dislodging the imaginary item.  Then they…[took her] to Jameson Hospital in New Castle for “an internal examination of her body cavities”…the cops found a doctor, Bernard Geiser, who [played along]…Carbone “was restrained to a bed by her wrists and ankles” as Geiser “performed an internal inspection of her vagina and rectum.”  He did not find anything…she was [then] subjected to an involuntary CT scan, which found no foreign objects…[District Attorney Joshua] Lamancusa…told her the ordeal would end “if she helped him by provid[ing] information regarding drug-related activity.”  He also asked her “if she knew what prison felt like.”  The lawsuit says Lamanusca and…cops [David Maiella & Chief Robert Salem] added insult to assault by making “derogatory remarks about her compromised position”…

Naturally, Carbone is suing, and naturally, a judge has already dismissed the majority of her claims.  I hope this other woman fares better, though I sincerely doubt she will because “sex trafficking”:

A Minnesota woman who spent four years in jail after she was accused of participating in a sex trafficking ring has filed a lawsuit against the city of St. Paul and a key police investigator…Hamdi Ali Osman [reports that]…Heather Weyker framed [her] as the “madam” in the sex ring of mostly Somali-American immigrants and refugees…in 2010.  Last month, a federal judge reversed convictions for several people…after concluding that Weyker was repeatedly caught lying, and that the sex trafficking claims by…the alleged victims…were fictitious…Osman…and other inmates spent 23 hours a day locked in their cells…for four years and on home arrest for two years…She’s also suing three unnamed supervisors who…allowed Weyker to continue fabricating facts…

I’ll be very surprised if Weyker and the other monsters involved in this suffer any consequences at all; the function of modern judges is to lend a veneer of legitimacy to the arbitrary brutality of “authorities”, while shielding them from the consequences of their behavior:

A Cook County judge…cleared a…[cop] of the sexual assault of a colleague’s young daughter, convicting him instead of misdemeanor battery…[and ordering him] to undergo up to two years of sex offender counseling…Judge Charles Burns [pretended] prosecutors had failed…to prove…that Dennis Barnes fondled the girl for his own sexual arousal…The girl was 9 at the time of the…assault in [which]…he…reached into her shorts and attempted to sexually assault her…When her mother entered the room, the girl began crying and told her what had happened.  “(Barnes) told the victim that he was her mother’s boss,” Assistant State’s Attorney Tracy Senica told the judge. “And…she didn’t scream because she didn’t want to get her mom into trouble”…

I suspect the prosecutors in that case weren’t trying any harder than they absolutely had to in order to maintain the illusion that they weren’t all on the same side; take this other prosecutor, for example:

Stuart Dunnings III…remains a crafty lawyer already planning for what will likely be a plea bargain on multiple prostitution and pandering charges.  For those with resources…the “seeking treatment” tactic is widely practiced as a way to lessen fines or jail time…For Dunnings, establishing an “I’m in treatment defense” is no less calculating than his very public get-tough on prostitution proclamations…One of the oddities in this case…is the ease with which Dunnings has managed to delay court proceedings so that he can seek out treatment.  Prosecutors usually aren’t so willing to let [defendants] enroll in programs to buttress their defense…The very notion of sex-addiction treatment has a hollow ring.  Unlike drug, alcohol and even gambling, sex addiction seems more a punch line than a serious condition…

Though that reporter does seem to get that “sex addiction” is bogus, he spouts the usual anti-whore nonsense and seems remarkably naive about the way “authorities” all scratch each others’ backs while slamming everyone else as hard as they can.  He also misses the bigger picture, the way in which the medical and psychiatric bureaucracies have become part of the machinery of oppression, in what dissident psychiatrist Thomas Szasz referred to as the “therapeutic state”.  Doctors and hospitals assist pervert cops in sexually violating people on the grounds that they might be using substances the State has decided are not permitted.  Sex crimes are redefined as psychopathologies, allowing the well-connected to substitute “treatment” for prison while simultaneously providing an excuse for indefinite detention of the marginalized; meanwhile ordinary, non-problematic sexual behaviors are defined as both crimes and pathologies, thereby allowing the state to choose between various control strategies as it pleases.  One of the most terrifying ways in which this is being done is by redefining behaviors once considered “vices”, “crimes” or “moral turpitude” into “public health issues”, allowing religious fanatics to don the white coats of doctors and disguise their Puritanism as something akin to epidemiology.  So while just about everyone recognizes this as absolute barking madness:

A Christian author is warning women that “masturbation is a direct path to Satan.”  Mack Major of Eden Decoded wrote on Facebook that “too many Christian women are losing their salvation because they masturbate…Dildos and all of those other sex toys have been used for thousands of years in demonic sex rituals…those sex toys are an open portal between the demonic realm and your own life”…Another post…warned…“The danger in masturbating is that one could inadvertently summon a sex demon…And once that demon attaches, it…will drive you to masturbate, even when you don’t want to.  You’ll be hit with urges to play with yourself so powerful that only an orgasm will allow you some temporary relief”…

…most don’t recognize this lunacy from Gail Dines as the exact same “sin, degradation and possession” rhetoric dressed up in modern psychobabble:

…As the evidence piles up, a coalition of academics, health professionals, educators, feminist activists and caregivers has decided that they can no longer allow the porn industry to hijack the physical and emotional well-being of our culture…Culture Reframed, an organization I founded and currently chair, is pioneering a strategy to address porn as the public health crisis of the digital age…if porn is not discussed in a research-based, age-appropriate sexual health curriculum, its effects will surely show up as sexual harassment, dating violence and inadvertent “child pornography” on students’ phones.  Pornography can cause lifelong problems if young people are not taught to distinguish between exploitative porn sex and healthy, safe sex.  As the research shows, porn is not merely a moral nuisance and subject for culture-war debates.  It’s a threat to our public health.

Note that Dines doesn’t disavow the idea of porn as sinful (“a moral nuisance”); in fact, it’s central to her narrative.  Dines, like other authoritarians, wants human sexuality to be defined as both a moral and a psychiatric/medical problem, so the police state can feel thoroughly justified in violently subjecting individuals to whatever “therapy” or “morality lessons” it wishes in order to “correct” them.

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Punishing women who voluntarily sell sex for a living is human rights violation threatening their survival and another violence by the state.  –  Judge Cho Yong-ho

The Pro-Rape Coalition 

Another fact-free anti-porn polemic, quoting a bogus “study” created by prohibitionists:

Watching natural-looking people engaging in sex that is consensual, pleasurable and realistic may not be harmful…but that is generally not what the $97 billion global porn industry is shilling.  Its producers have one goal: to get men off hard and fast for profit.  That means eroticizing the degradation of women.  In a study of behaviors in popular porn, nearly 90% of 304 random scenes contained physical aggression toward women, who nearly always responded neutrally or with pleasure.  More insidiously, women would sometimes beg their partners to stop, then acquiesce and begin to enjoy the activity, regardless of how painful or debasing…

Harm Reduction (May Updates)

Alas, politicians, being exceptionally stupid creatures, cannot understand that the same principles hold true for all prohibition:

…Hawaii…lawmakers…are proposing to commission a study looking at the merits of decriminalizing all drugs…The study would look to Portugal…[which] decriminalized all drugs in 2001…[leading] to a drastic reduction in drug use, overdoses and crime…The U.S. Surgeon General…announced in January, “It’s time for us to have a conversation in this country that’s based on facts; A conversation that’s based on medicine and science”…

Saving Them From Themselves

Cops continue their quest to destroy people’s lives for the “crime” of being human:

Redding, Connecticut, cops arrested a 14-year-old boy and charged him with possession of child pornography, harassment, and obscenity…This news story makes it impossible to determine the exact nature of his crime, but…I would say that he likely shared an illicit photo of a similarly-aged female—perhaps his girlfriend—with some of his friends…This is simply not a matter for the police…It’s not wrong for 14-year-olds to express sexual interest in each other…the cops investigated this teen for three months….How many police resources were tied up…figuring out why two teens were sexting each other?…

Above the Law  

“Rape”, reporters.  The word you’re looking for is “rape”:

A Wichita [Kansas] woman says a…[cop raped] her multiple times over a two year period…Richard Bachman…used his power as a cop to [rape her from 2010 to 2012]…This is the second suit against the [rapist] cop…[who]  threatened to plant drugs on the woman, and…handcuffed her while [raping] her.  “I don’t want him to ever be in a position where he has the authority over anyone again,” she said…Bachman’s attorney [vomited out the legalese equivalent of, “She asked for it”]…

I’m Sure You Feel Safer Now

The only people who “endangered children” here are the brutal thugs who invaded the child’s house, abducted her mother and have probably destroyed the mother’s ability to provide for her in the future:

A…[deceitful pig] contacted Alysia Mericle…[pretending to be an honest client, then called more thugs] to arrest her…Mericle locked the door with the [lying pig] still inside…[so his pig friends] used a battering ram [to destroy her] front door…[they then searched]…her place [without a proper warrant] and…found Focalin and Vyvanse, which are used to treated ADHD.  [Rooting pigs] also discovered [her business] ledger…Mericle was charged with promoting prostitution, possession of controlled substances, endangering children, drug paraphernalia and soliciting prostitution. She was [caged]…and a judge set her bond at $75,000.  The child was placed in the custody of her grandmother.

Mentoring

Anybody want to try these out and see how well they compare to the tried-and-true makeup sponge method?

…The Flex Company wants to replace outdated pads and tampons with a sleek, disc-shaped blood blocker.  Flex can be worn during sex to prevent making a mess.  The Flex discs are disposable, can be worn for up to 12 hours and even come in a stylish little packet.  They’re doctor-approved to be hypoallergenic, BPA-free and they won’t cause toxic shock syndrome…Flex will have to compete with SoftCups, a well-distributed brand with a similar product, though one that doesn’t focus on portability or sex…

One lady on Twitter reported her partner could feel it, which would obviously not be good.

An Example To the West (#133)

Human rights suffer a predictable, but crushing defeat in South Korea:

The Constitutional Court ruled in favor of the country’s antiprostitution law Thursday, dismissing “voluntary sex trade” unconstitutional.  In a 6-to-3 ruling, the court confirmed the legality of the antisex trade act punishing both those who voluntarily sell and buy sex, citing the need to repress demand for prostitution.  The verdict came three years after the top court began to review the act to rule whether it violates voluntary sex workers’ freedom to choose their job and what to do with their own bodies…Kang Hyun-joon, head of sex workers’ rights group Hanteo National Union, called the decision “unacceptable”…He also vowed to submit a petition to the United Nations‘ Human Rights Council…[which has] suggested [decriminalizing] prostitution as a way to create safer conditions for sex workers and to combat human trafficking as well as sex-related diseases like HIV…

Only one of the dissenting judges understands the moral issues here; the other two argued for the hypocritical and misogynistic Swedish model.

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (#318)

It’s so good to see more widespread recognition of this:

…social scientist Dr Kamala Kempadoo…argued that legitimizing the world’s oldest profession would reduce human trafficking and bring security and respectability to women in the profession…She called on [Caribbean] governments to…recognize that prostitution ought not automatically be construed as violence to women…she…was dismissive of the United States State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) reports, contending that they were politically motivated and did not recognize Caribbean practices or cultural norms…in responding to the pressure exerted on regional countries that receive bad marks in the TIP reports, Caribbean governments [have] created a regime to counter what [the US represents] as human trafficking.  However, she said that regime had itself become an industry…

Frequently Told Lies

Here’s a nice little collection of debunking resources (including some of mine) from Sex, Lies & Duct Tape.  Many things to bookmark here!

If You Want Something Done Right…

In which Brooke Magnanti considers the implications of Mistress Matisse’s piece from yesterday:

…When does reporting become rubbernecking?  When does wanting to help someone become wanting to control them?  These are topics that need exploring, both in public and in our own hearts and minds. Especially for people who, like me and…Melissa Gira Grant, are former sex workers who are now full-time writers…Some former sex workers elect to not discuss their personal experiences, and I respect that…But if you don’t write about yourself who do you write about?…What do we really take away from the piece apart from the feeling that everyone who got involved in Heather’s cause had bad intentions apart from (miraculously) Gira Grant herself?  With the subject of the story not supportive of its publication, and considering the fact that it gives a significant national platform to people who may have abused Heather — is this where the ally ends, and the hard-headed journo chasing after a byline begins?…As Gira Grant spent the days after the Buzzfeed piece appeared refusing to answer requests to clarify what happened, it did unfortunately start to seem like she could ignore criticism precisely because those making the criticism were sex workers…

Above the Law (#595)

Whoopsie!  Now where did we put that serial rapist?  He was here a few months ago…

Oklahoma prison authorities are working with attorneys for a [mass serial rapist]…to serve a civil rights lawsuit filed by some of his victims…prison officials revealed…that Daniel Holtzclaw…had been moved from a state prison but would not disclose where he was being housed…Holtzclaw was sentenced to 263 years in prison…and…seven women involved in the criminal case filed a federal lawsuit against Holtzclaw and city officials [because] the city and its police force [gave him free reign to rape at will]…efforts to serve Holtzclaw with the lawsuit have been unsuccessful because he can’t be located within the state prison system…

License to Rape (#601)

Prohibition turns the body of every citizen into a “crime scene”, which can be violated by cops at will:

…According to a federal lawsuit filed by attorney Robert Phillipswhite police officers in Aiken, S.C…[pulled over] Lakeya Hicks and Elijah Pontoon…in Hicks’s car…[using the illegal pretext that] it still had [current] temporary tags…[cop Chris] Medlin [ordered] Pontoon out of the vehicle and [handcuffed] him…Medlin then [told] Pontoon, “Because of your history, I’ve got a dog coming in here.  Gonna walk a dog around the car.”  About 30 seconds later, he [added], “You gonna pay for this one, boy”…four [cops spent]…15 minutes conducting a thorough search of the car…After the search of the car [came] up empty, Medlin [told] the female officer to “search her real good,” referring to Hicks…this was all done in direct view of the three male officers.  That search, too, produced no contraband.  The officers then [anally probed] Pontoon…[repeatedly] grabbing his hemorrhoids…for another three minutes…[finding] no contraband…Medlin [then told] Pontoon…that [this was due to his supposedly recognizing] him from when he worked narcotics…

Bad Girls (#625) 

about 20 sex workers and…allies took to Daley Plaza [in Chicago] to show solidarity with Alisha Walker, a 23-year-old woman sentenced to 15 years in prison after fatally stabbing a client…”We could all be Alisha,” [said] Cathryn Berarovich…”Because our work is criminalized, there is no recourse for when bad things happen to us.  We’re standing up for someone who did what she had to do to survive, then was punished for surviving”…[they also called] out the Sun-Times report on Walker’s sentencing…for its…language…the paper described Walker with terms like “the prostitute” and “hooker”…[but] to Filan…as a “wonderful father”…in spite of the fact that…Filan was the aggressor in their confrontation, threatening her with a kitchen knife because she and the other woman declined to have unprotected sex with him.  Filan had also…been drinking…

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When sexual minorities burned, we burned together.  –  Jillian Keenan

Aversions

It’s not just many pros who dislike oral sex; some amateurs don’t either:

…While 91 percent of women perform oral on their male partners, only 79 percent of men perform oral on their female partners.  But…the discrepancy…has a lot to do with the fact that some women just don’t want to receive oral sex…I had orgasms a handful of times while receiving oral sex, but considering how rare it had been over the years…I finally decided to come clean with my partners…

The author lists 11 reasons, of which I’m with her on 2-7 and 11.

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

More “questionable” than being a vice cop?

A Seattle [cop] has been placed on paid leave [after]…he…was found, in his off-duty time, to be frequenting the Dancing Bare on Aurora Avenue…which was the target of a vice operation related to alleged prostitution activities…he…was not arrested and has not been accused of a crime.  He is under investigation after he was found to be “hanging around” the club and engaging in questionable conduct…

Cognitive Impairment tasteless Israeli sculpture

“Artists” claim that if a woman puts her phone number on a card, a fragment of her being is transferred to the card, and anything done to it happens to her.  I am not making this up:

…A 10-foot-high vagina sculpture was installed on a Tel Aviv thoroughfare…Artists Sasha Kurbatov and Vanane Borian crafted the giant vulva from cards that advertise sex work services.  A 50-foot trail of the same type of cards leads to the work…Hundreds of brothels operating illegally in Tel Aviv are reportedly responsible for the cards strewn about city sidewalks…“All the fragments of women that are on the floor, people are stepping on them, they see it, and there is no longer any value to it,” [said] Borian…”A woman simply loses all value and becomes an object, not even a complete object”…

But symbolizing the totality of a woman with a grotesque, cartoonish sculpture of a twat isn’t dehumanizing, no sirree.

The Scarlet Letter

A good, thorough article on the use of shaming tactics against sex workers’ clients:

…Tapping into the new power of the internet, along with our very old obsession with transgressive sex…officials hope to wield the fear of public judgment in the name of the public good, arguing that prostitution is linked to far more serious crimes than we ever thought.  But by taking punishment out of the hands of law enforcement and placing it in the hands of the public, whose emotions and reactions lie beyond their control, shaming campaigns can also be messy and unpredictable.  And the resulting stigma can last indefinitely…

The article pays especial attention to the horrendous “Flush the Johns” debacle.

The Clueless Leading the Hysterical 

So very many people completely bereft of the capacity for rational thought:

By buying a plush toy with a heart on it, Tampa mom Nicole O’Kelly unwittingly alerted predators that her little girl “is ready to be traded for sex”…correspondent Melanie Michael told viewers that the toy, a pink stuffed truck recently purchased at a Monster Jam event, “held a sick secret; a disgusting calling card for creeps. The heart on the toy was a symbol for pedophiles”…While presenting  no evidence whatsoever that the toy was made to be, or perceived as, some kind of secret signaling device, the reporter interviewed the toy-buying mom, who seemed as distraught as if her child had narrowly escaped a windowless van…Detective Anthony Bassone…said the hearts are used for girls while a separate symbol with triangles targets boys…

The Widening Gyre

The Facts“.  Seriously.

Just imagine…You’re glad to be home.  You crawl into bed and wrap yourself in your favorite blanket…Suddenly, a rustling in the next room jolts you awake…A bag is thrown over your head.  You’re carried away…No one knows where you are.  You have no hope of rescue.  You’ve vanished…The average age of a modern day slave is 12 years old…

These moronic tripe is full of “facts” like “traffickers profit $150 billion a year” though “the average price of a slave is less than that of a new cell phone”.  Obviously, these “facts” don’t include any math.

Worse Than I Thought

Keep in mind, all this requires is the “testimony” of a lying cop out to score arrests:

People who purchase illicit sex in South Carolina could soon be placed on the sex offender registry and pay stiffer fines…[blah blah “end demand”] the…bill…includes…stiffer consequences…for those soliciting sex from people who are “profoundly mentally disabled”…

This kind of tyranny is contagious; right next door in Georgia:

A bill…would go after the pimps and the people who pay for prostitution…It would…[make] solicitation a felony upon a second conviction…[and] put…twice-convicted customers on the state’s sex offender registry…

Want a good laugh? Look at the masthead of the TV station printing this bootlicking filth.

Checklist

There’s so very much stupidity here, but I guess the main thing is the “signs”:

Victims of human trafficking often can be the children in classrooms who frequently act up, who show abrupt changes in behavior and are picked up from school by a man who isn’t a family member…Rep. Ann Wagner [fantasized] that the victims are “hiding in plain sight”…St. Louis is one of the most active human trafficking locations in the country…schools are increasingly targets for recruitment…Students might wind up at a party with a friend whose boyfriend is a predator, or be enticed with expensive clothes or cellphones…”it could happen overnight,” said [“trafficking” fetishist] Jenee Littrell…It is estimated that at least 100,000 children across the United States are sexually exploited annually…But the real numbers may be significantly higher.  The average age of children who fall victim to human trafficking is 12 to 14 years old

Frequently Told Lies

It’s so good to see debunking spreading to the mainstream press:

…police do…dramatic busts…because of widely believed myths about sex work, which endlessly echo back and forth between policy and pop culture.  The politicians and activists who perpetuate these myths believe they’re saving people, but only through careful examination of the facts can governments begin to reduce the violence and marginalization that sex workers suffer.  Here are three myths in particular that impact legislation and enforcement (and help keep those harmful stereotypes alive in our heads).  Myth 1. The average age of entry into sex work is between 12 and 14…Myth 2….sex trafficking is the most common form of [coerced labor]…Myth 3. “Target the demand” works…

Feet of Clay (#416)extra-stupid kristof

The buffoonish Nick Kristof is up on his anti-Backpage hobby horse again, and as usual he’s not too concerned with the truth:

…we as a society are complicit…by allowing a popular website called Backpage.com to be used to arrange child rape…Backpage…has about 80 percent of the U.S. market for online sex ads in America, mostly for consenting adults but many also for women who are forcibly trafficked or for underage girls…Children in at least 47 states have been sold on Backpage…If there were a major American website openly selling heroin or anthrax, there would be an outcry.  Yet we Americans tolerate a site like Backpage.com that is regularly used to peddle children…

It’s interesting that Kristof mentioned anthrax, given his major role in destroying a man’s career over paranoid delusions about it.

Challenge (#615)

A legal bid to overturn the ban on paying for sex in Northern Ireland is being partly funded by an escort website.  Sex worker Laura Lee is leading the High Court challenge.  She was questioned about her financial support by members of the Home Affairs Committee…Ms Lee…said…”a lot of the sex workers that advertise on [Escort Ireland] put pressure on them to support me and said it was only fair, since they make money from the industry, that they should support my efforts of keeping our industry safe.”

Too Close To Home (#618)

Seattle Times‘ bootlicking editor Thanh Tan is at it again, characterizing my friends and me as heartless liars for countering her nauseating masturbatory fantasies about “sex slave children” with actual facts:

…Though no one knows exactly how much of the local sex trade involves consenting adults or coerced individuals, a 2008 study estimated hundreds of youths are bought and sold every night in the Seattle area.  In recent years, police and sheriff’s deputies…have shifted their focus…to targeting the patrons responsible for rising demand.  A coalition of sex workers and their allies have taken to social media recently to argue vehemently against this approach.  They say criminalization is unfair to them and their clients.  They are proud of what they do and reject a host of studies that have tried to estimate the age range and number of people being trafficked.  Most concerning is the tendency in some of these online tirades to downplay or ignore the widespread harm suffered within the same industry by far less-privileged people.  Disturbingly, there is a lack of compassion for the children getting caught or forced into the trade…

I do like the powerful graphic of a brutal, thuggish-looking cop standing guard over “rescued” sex workers; one can almost see him considering which woman he’s going to rape next.  Good work, Seattle Times!

Peeping Toms (#619)

Jillian Keenan schools ignoramus judges:

According to a new federal district court decision, the Constitution “does not prohibit the regulation of BDSM conduct.” In other words, the precedent implied by bans on anti-sodomy and anti-adultery laws—that adults have a constitutional right to freedom of noncommercial intimate conduct—doesn’t protect us…The court rejected the idea that Lawrence v. Texas might protect other sexual minorities…because “there is no basis to conclude that [BDSM]…is deeply rooted in … history.”  Excuse me?…BDSM, without question, has a “deeply rooted” history…there are references to BDSM throughout historical literature: Robert Dixon, Thomas Middleton, John Fletcher, and William Shakespeare all referred to sadomasochism in their work. A fresco from approximately 490 BC in the aptly-named Etruscan “Tomb of the Whipping” even depicts two men flogging a woman in an erotic context…the court…also argued that…because straights have long despised gay people, they have a special interest in legal protection…All consenting adults have the right to intimate lives that are free from government interference.  It’s a shame that the court refused to recognize that—and a shame that the ruling attempts to draw lines around Lawrence v. Texas to divide “protect[ed]”sexual minorities from unprotected ones.  Such divisions are, to steal the court’s language, not “deeply rooted” in history…

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Mark Draughn blogs and tweets as Windypundit, and has been reading this blog for at least five years (and maybe more).  He’s a staunch ally and has written some good pro-sex work articles on his own blog in the past, so naturally I had to ask him to do one for me sooner or later.

Mark DraughnAnyone who follows sex work issues has probably seen reports claiming that prostitution hurts the economy.  Sometimes the accuracy of these claims depends on subtle issues of data and methodology, but often you can deconstruct these reports by watching out for a few basic economic issues.  (A disclaimer: I’m not a trained economist.  I like to think that I’m an amateur economist the same way some people are amateur astronomers — I lack the breadth and depth of the professionals, but I pay attention to what they’re doing, and I try not to say anything that will make people stupider.)  The big problem with this narrative is that anti-prostitution crusaders use it to buttress the argument that prostitution is a bad thing that must be stopped, yet when you look at how they’re calculating the costs of prostitution, it turns out they’re implicitly assuming that prostitution is a bad thing that must be stopped.

Thus the first thing to note when you see one of these reports is that they almost never mention the economic benefits of prostitution.  Anti-prostitution crusaders would no doubt object to the very idea that there are benefits of prostitution, but if you begin your analysis by assuming away all benefits of prostitution, then of course your analysis will show that prostitution hurts the economy.  Sneaking your preferred answer into the calculation is no way to reach an honest conclusion.  Economically speaking, we know the sex trade has benefits for the participants because they keep doing it.  One of the foundational assumptions of economics is that people are smart enough to make choices that will improve their lives.  Obviously that isn’t literally true in all cases — people make mistakes — but it’s close enough, because people making choices about their own lives (a) can understand their situation better than anyone else, and (b) have the most to lose from deciding unwisely.  Most people don’t make perfect decisions, but it’s hard to see how distant cops, politicians, and do-gooders could make better decisions for thousands of people they barely know.

Actually, these reports sometimes do mention the benefits of prostitution without realizing it, usually when emphasizing the size of the “prostitution problem”.  Prostitution is a service produced by sex workers and consumed by clients.  We know prostitution provides benefits for clients because they are willing to pay money for it, and we know the value of those benefits must be at least as large as the payment, otherwise clients would not agree to the price.  Therefore, when a “cost of prostitution” story says men are spending billions of dollars on sex workers, we can safely assume that sex workers must be producing billions of dollars of valuable sexual services for the economy.  (That kind of thinking may sound strange if you’re not used to it, but it’s the same reasoning economists use for every consumer product in the economy.  If people willingly buy it, it must be worth at least what they’re paying.)  The benefits don’t all go to the clients, however, because as long as sex workers are free to refuse services, they can bargain for a share of the benefits in the form of payment.  Since sex workers are assumed to be smart enough to make choices that improve their lives, we know they wouldn’t participate in commercial sex unless they received benefits that exceeded their costs.

The assumption that participants receive a net benefit allows us to take a shortcut when calculating the costs of prostitution to the economy:  We can omit the benefits that participants receive from prostitution as long as we balance the account by omitting the costs as well.  Or to put it the other way around, if a report fails to include the benefits of sex work to participants, then it should not include any of the costs to participants either.  If you find such unbalanced costs in a report, you can ignore them.  This leaves one major set of costs remaining:  The costs of prostitution that are borne by non-participants.  These are almost always some kind of government expense, for which the burden ultimately falls on taxpayers.  For example, if sex workers are more likely to receive financial assistance from government anti-poverty programs, then the additional costs of those programs fall on taxpayers, and they are genuine costs of prostitution.  Even for these legitimate costs, however, there are a few things to watch out for:

  • Only excess costs count.  If the average sex worker costs some program $5000, we can’t count it as a cost of prostitution without first subtracting the baseline per-person cost of non-sex-workers.  If that’s $3000, then the excess cost of prostitution is only $2000 per sex worker.
  • Co-factors matter.  If women tend to have higher average medical costs than men, then sex workers will have higher average medical costs than the general population simply because sex workers are more likely to be women.  You have to subtract out the excess cost of being women to get the true excess cost of being sex workers.
  • Causality matters.  If a study discovers that sex workers have disproportionately poor health, leading to higher medical costs, that doesn’t tell us if they have health problems because they are sex workers, or if they are sex workers because they have health problems.  If the latter, then their medical costs are not attributable to sex work.

Much of this can be sorted out with statistics and good data, but not everybody does the hard work.  For all these costs, my guess is that sex workers already pay more than enough taxes to cover the costs they impose on society, and they’d pay even more if sex work was decriminalized.  I doubt that sex workers are nearly as much of a burden on society as, say, ethanol producers, auto manufacturers, or Amtrak.

hero cops arrest dangerous womanThat brings me to the last category of government expenses, for which sex workers shouldn’t owe a frickin’ dime.  I’m talking about the cost of fighting prostitution, which can includes things like the costs of arresting and jailing sex workers as well as the cost of taking care of a sex worker’s children while she’s locked up.  If we were talking about crimes such as murder, the costs of catching criminals and isolating them from society would be part of the cost of their crimes, as would the cost of caring for their families while they are in prison.  With sex work, however, those costs only materialize if we actually decide to fight prostitution by treating it as a crime, but making that decision is the whole reason we are talking about the economic costs in the first place.  It doesn’t make sense to argue that we should fight prostitution because of costs that only arise because we are fighting prostitution.  Furthermore, although I said earlier that we can ignore costs of prostitution borne by sex workers, that doesn’t apply to the heavy non-financial costs paid by sex workers who are imprisoned or who lose their children after being arrested.  Nor does it apply to the violent costs borne by sex workers who are attacked or killed in situations which would be avoidable if they could operate in the open and depend on the police for protection.  Not only should these costs not be held against sex workers, but they are the basis of a strong argument that decriminalizing prostitution would reduce economic costs.

Finally, many readers of this blog are sex workers or are otherwise familiar with the sex trade.  This means you are in a good position to answer a very important question about any “cost of prostitution” analysis:  Do the descriptions of sex work match what you see?  Much of the commercial sex industry operates in hiding, which leads to bad information about what really happens when people trade sex for money.  Analyses that depend on false assumptions — that most prostitutes start as children or that street prostitution is the most common form — are likely to reach poor conclusions.  In particular, many of my points — the benefits of prostitution, the reasons to ignore costs borne by sex workers, the argument that law enforcement costs favor decriminalization — depend on the crucial assumption that sex workers have agency to chose the sex trade.  At a time when we are becoming more accepting of people’s choices in recreational drugs and (non-paying) sex partners, it would be a shame if we allowed sensationalized claims of sex trafficking to undermine the agency of sex workers and cast doubts on the benefits of sex work.

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