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Posts Tagged ‘bogus studies’

I am not sure when being a selfish, misogynistic jerk became a medical disorder.  –  David Ley

Do As I Say, Not As I Do 

When another man pays an underage sex worker, she’s a “sex trafficking victim”.  When a cop does it, she’s an “underage hooker”:

A Bronx cop was busted for having sex with an underage girl and recording their encounters — even after the investigation started and his home had been searched…Raul Olmeda was arraigned on a 67-count indictment…[because] five times between January and April…[he] paid the teen for sex…police found out about them while conducting a sex trafficking investigation…Olmeda’s lawyer, Stuart London, said…”This isn’t numerous underage women.  This is one underage woman, and we don’t know her credibility at all”…

The Daily News changed the last word of the headline after people jumped on them for the language, but you can still see it in the URL.

The Proper Study

It looks like Scott Cunningham has finally done a good one:

In a groundbreaking study, researchers at Baylor and West Virginia universities have found evidence indicating that Craigslist’s erotic advertising site may have prompted a 17 percent decrease in female homicides throughout the United States, principally because sex workers were able to use the free advertising service to move into a safer indoor environments and screen clients more carefully…The study, which has been submitted to a peer-reviewed economics journal, offers…evidence of what sex workers have been saying for years: that having the ability to advertise online for their services allows them to work in safer indoor environments and screen out violent clients.  The new study reinforces previous research showing a decline in sexual violence in regions where prostitution has been legalized or decriminalized…the researchers also did an analysis of how many more police officers would need to be hired to reduce the female homicide rate by the same percentage that Craigslist’s free service apparently did.  They concluded that this would require an additional outlay of 200,832 police officers, costing the U.S. an added $20 billion per year.  “Craigslist, in other words, saved 2,150 female lives at a profoundly lower social cost,” concluded the three authors, Scott Cunningham…Gregory DeAngelo…and John Tripp…

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic 

If Weinstein brings down the “sex addiction” scam, he’ll have inadvertently done some good in the world:

…While there’s no official confirmation of where Weinstein is headed or what type of therapy he may be getting, experts…said that…he’s not a sex addict.  And most say there’s no such thing as sex addiction…Holly Richmond…said…”There is no such thing as sex addiction”…[Dr. David] Ley says…“We see this parade of men getting caught…then they claim their behavior is the result of this alleged disorder when we all know these were men who were abusing their power and privilege…after 40 years…there is still no published evidence that this treatment works…This is an exploitative industry that loves to capitalize on these celebrity sex addiction scandals so they can get referrals”…

Yellow Fever

Like the New York Times, the BBC has discarded whatever credibility it once enjoyed:

Basis Yorkshire was set up to support sex workers across Leeds in 1989.  Over that time, we have worked closely with sex workers across the sex industry to provide safety, information and support…We believe the BBC documentarySex, Drugs and Murder; Life in the Red Light Zone has done a great deal of damage to the stereotypes of sex workers in Leeds (and across the country) by portraying the women in a highly sensationalist, voyeuristic way.  The footage often none-to subtly focuses the shot on drug paraphernalia and rubbish in their home, or the area they work in – giving deliberately unpleasant, grubby feel to the program and the women that are featured…The program could have been made about a group of women with complex needs and had the same content – but…[instead] focuses only on women who have severe addiction issues, or on complex, even at times violent, social situations, rather than allowing viewers to see the diversity of women we work with (or indeed the diversity of the lives of the women they chose to film)…

Skin To Skin

A “feminist” calls other women “toilets” for ministering to disabled men:

Men with disabilities are a hugely important group served by sex workers” [tweeted] Amy Alkon…Check out the, paternalism, uh, maternalism [in the response] here, from social psychologist Dina McMillan


All-Purpose Excuse

Meanwhile, Oakland allows cops whose actions DO qualify as “trafficking” under law to get away scot-free:

Following a controversial Aug. 16 raid of a West Oakland home by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, Oakland Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick said repeatedly that the operation was part of a criminal human trafficking investigation…but…the raid hasn’t resulted in a single criminal prosecution…the only person arrested, Santos de Leon, is facing civil immigration charges and could be deported..ICE has recently begun to classify the act of providing shelter and other assistance to unaccompanied minors who recently immigrated to the United States as “human trafficking,” and is charging adults, often close family members, with the crime…by providing assistance to ICE for the raid, OPD violated Oakland’s sanctuary city policies…Kirkpatrick made false statements on several occasions — including in emails to city councilmembers, statements at a town hall meeting, and through several OPD press releases — about the raid…The statements included a social media posting from OPD asserting that the arrest was related to “sex trafficking”..and that…victims were rescued by ICE and received services.  But there is no evidence to back up those statements…

Signs 

The dysphemisms are thick in this one:

Students at Quinnipiac University’s law school [who have never done sex work] have [indoctrinated] nearly 1,000 of Connecticut’s hospitality industry workers on how to recognize and report the [mythical] signs of sex trafficking…Taylor Matook [said]…“we have a narrative.”  By [filling the heads of] hospitality workers with [sexual fantasies, prohibitionists]…hope to [create an army of stool pigeons]…to stop…sex [workers from making a living by turning them in to the pigs]…Theresa Leonard…founder of a ministry [fantasizing about] eradicating sex [work] in Connecticut, said…“It’s amazing to me how few women [agree with my claim]…that they were exploited or trafficked”…

The Prudish Giant (#641)

People sometimes ask why I’m not on Facebook:

Leila is a sex worker.  She goes to great lengths to keep separate identities for ordinary life and for sex work, to avoid stigma, arrest, professional blowback, or clients who might be stalkers (or worse).  Her “real identity”—the public one…joined Facebook in 2011.  Her sex-work identity is not on the social network at all; for it, she uses a different email address, a different phone number, and a different name.  Yet earlier this year, looking at Facebook’s “People You May Know” recommendations, Leila…was shocked to see some of her regular sex-work clients.  Despite the fact that she’d only given Facebook information from her vanilla identity, the company had somehow discerned her real-world connection to these people—and, even more horrifyingly, her account was potentially being presented to them as a friend suggestion too, outing her regular identity to them.  Because Facebook insists on concealing the methods and data it uses to link one user to another, Leila is not able to find out how the network exposed her or take steps to prevent it from happening again…When Leila queried secret support groups for sex workers, others said it had happened to them too…

This isn’t new; I first heard about it about a year or so after starting this blog.

Morality Lessons (#689)

No, this isn’t the same huge child porn site run by the FBI; this is a different one:

The world’s largest child sexual abuse forum, “Childs Play” is running in the darkweb. [Nowegian newspaper] VG exposed…[that Australian police are] behind the website’s continued operation…Under the supervision of Jon Rouse, detective inspector, and investigator Paul Griffiths, thousands of members have shared photos and videos of children being sexually abused…Some members of the forum got together in person to commit child abuse, which they filmed and shared on the forum…the police deny they are responsible for what was shared on [their own website] while they ran it…

Morality Lessons (#703)

A Utah politician’s bizarre anti-porn antics continue:

For the past 14 years, Utah has made do without a “porn czar.”  The position—officially known as the “Obscenity and Pornography Complaints Ombudsman”—has been vacant since 2003, though it was never officially eliminated.  Now state Sen. Todd Weiler…may revive it, even as the Utah attorney general suggests legislators strike it from the books.  Weiler has been on an anti-porn crusade for several years now.  He’s the architect of a 2016 declaration to declare porn a public health crisis (which passed the state legislature unanimously) and a proposal passed earlier this year to encourage “porn addicts” to sue porn platforms…Weiler “says he became convinced that the obscenity and pornography complaints office may be needed because of an ad campaign attacking Cosmopolitan magazine as illegal porn”…

I kinda hope the “Cosmo is porn” nonsense continues; maybe it’s push the magazine into siding with sex workers.  Weiler is also the dangerous loon who claimed sex workers “force” cops to rape us.

Checklist (#755)

The real purpose of this scheme is to cut sex workers off from the healthcare system:

Arizona State University College of Nursing and Health Innovation Assistant Professor Samantha Calvin spoke at the 14th Annual Human Trafficking and Social Justice Conference in Ohio last month…Calvin focused on human trafficking in the clinic setting, red flags to look for, questions to ask and what to do if someone is identified…

You may recall that ASU, home of Dominique “Body Fluids” Sepowitz, is a major hotbed of “sex trafficking” propaganda and source of several bogus studies made to order to support both the hysteria and carceral “solutions” to the nonexistent “problem”.

Of Course It Is (#758)

I hope none of you find this even remotely surprising:

Charges that Oakland [pig] Giovanni LoVerde sexually assaulted an underage girl were dismissed…after Alameda County prosecutors dropped the case…Several other Oakland [swine] were not criminally charged in the case, but twelve were disciplined by the department, and four were fired.  Some…still work at OPD despite social media evidence they sexually exploited the girl or ignored signs of wrongdoing…many more Northern California [pigs] were implicated in the sprawling sex crimes scandal, but few have faced criminal prosecution.  The dismissal of the case against LoVerde ends, for now, the Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley’s effort to prosecute five Oakland cops — three former and two current — as well as a former Contra Costa County sheriff’s deputy and a former Livermore police officer who all exploited the girl…

The Widening Gyre (#778) 

Watching “sex trafficking” hysteria spin out of control is deeply gratifying:

School officials in Ohio are on alert following reports of a drone…at Windemere Community Learning Center in Akron over the weekend..several witnesses [claim to have] heard a voice coming from the drone, attempting to coax the children off the playground”…This bizarre story is not questioned by the media, because whether or not the threat is real, doesn’t matter…of course, the advice given to parents is always the same — just as it has been in all the reports of “near” abductions by sex traffickers at the local store (that never actually occurred): PARENTS, NEVER LET YOUR KIDS OUT OF YOUR SIGHT!…

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The…big problem is dealing with middle class saviours trying to save me from my job.  –  Sarah from Bristol

Advice for Clients

Ignore step two, because you’ll almost certainly be breaking some law. But the rest of this is pretty good:

So you’ve decided to spend time with an escort, but now what?  Your first call can be nerve-wracking, and you don’t want to creep the woman out!  Start with Step 1 below to learn how to make things easier on yourself, and on your potential date…

Hey prohibitionists: we’re winning, and there’s not a damned thing you can do about it.

Jezebel 

The owner has since taken down all the pirated porn and apologized:

Bellesa.co is essentially a piracy curator.  This site subsists…off of pirated videos.  Those videos have been uploaded to other piracy-based tube sites, and then a person or persons at Bellesa.co curates them into the single biggest piracy site focused entirely on female-centric videos.  This site is absolutely no more ethical than The Pirate Bay or any number of piracy sites designed to exploit producers and performers for financial gain…it…puts ZERO DOLLARS into the pockets of female producers or performers…

Rooted in Racism

Hmmm, I wonder why they accused this particular restaurateur?

A few weeks ago, RÚV (The Icelandic National Broadcasting Service)  reported on the Chinese restaurant Sjanghæ in Akureyri, claiming its owner, a Chinese born woman, was suspected of human trafficking…RÚV [accused] the owner…of paying her Chinese staff a monthly salary of 30.000 kr ($285)…[when actually] the staff’s monthly salary was 465 thousand krónas ($4355), which is well over the Icelandic minimum wage of 300 thousand ($2810)…the restaurant has been closed since RÚV’s report, as no customers have wanted to show up…[Jóhannes Sigurðarson, Sjanghæ’s lawyer] believes the restaurant will open again, although it’s unclear when exactly.  He and the owner will be determining shortly whether or not to press charges…

Trafficking, Trafficking Everywhere!

Prohibitionists are desperate to make New Zealand look bad:

A report, released by University of Auckland researcher Natalie Thorburn, claims child sex trafficking is prevalent in New Zealand and children as young as 12 were being exploited for money and drugs…Counsellor Tania Blomfield [claimed] that she knew of a child as young as nine being forced into the sex trade by her mother…Blomfield [fantasizes] child sex trafficking is “a growth industry, sadly.  I think it’s getting worse and worse because we are not dealing with it”.  However National Coordinator for the Prostitutes’ Collective Catherine Healy says sex trafficking is a catch all phrase that does not fully describe the situation…”Let’s not conflate it with sex work and say ‘oh they’ve been trafficked into sex work’ when actually they’re being abused by family members”…

The Prudish Giant

Though this is about coerced labor, Wal-mart is notoriously anti-sex and IJM is one of the sleaziest of the rescue industry groups; I suspect this will soon turn to whore persecution:

International Justice Mission…announced support from the Walmart Foundation to address human trafficking, also known as modern slavery, in the Thai fishing industry…there has not yet been a comprehensive study documenting the prevalence of forced labor and exploitation of fishermen on Thai fishing vessels.  With funding from the Walmart Foundation, IJM commissioned Issara Institute to conduct groundbreaking research in Thailand documenting the prevalence of forced labor…

Law of the Instrument (#560)

It’s not the number of “human trafficking victims” that’s increased, but the number of “human trafficking” charges:

The numbers of victims of human trafficking in Ireland has almost doubled in four years, with 94 [claimed] to have been children…The majority of…persons [labeled by “authorities” as “trafficked”] between 2012-2016 were women, with most subject to sexual exploitation…The authors of the report, however, [fantasize] that the true scale of trafficking could be much higher…

Remember, Ireland charges people with “human trafficking” for crimes ranging from undocumented immigration to rape.

An Example To the West (#582) 

Not so long ago, most US brothels were owned by sex workers:

…Dennis Hof…is offering the 540 women who work in his brothels the chance to buy shares.  He first wants to see if they would help buy the famous Chicken Ranch, which is for sale in Nye County.  “I want to give the girls the opportunity to not only invest in it and be shareholders but also have input in the management style…we want a $25,000 minimum investment.  The purchase price is $4.5 million”…Barb Brents, a UNLV sociology professor who researches the adult industry in Nevada, said some brothels in other countries share ownership with sex workers.  But to do it in Nevada would be a sweeping change…There are still some hurdles for Hof’s plan.  The biggest might be the background checks for brothel investors…

Check Your Premises (#773) 

Though “debating” prohibitionists is a bad idea, attacking their statements is a good one:

…Sarah…accused [politician] Thangam [Debbonaire] of “prejudice and hatred” towards sex workers and questioned whether the MP had met many…”Client criminalisation leads to sex workers having less time to suss out potential clients…because the client is keen to give the worker less info about himself, and to move the interaction into more private spaces where he is less in danger of being arrested…when the criminalisation of kerb-crawling was introduced in Scotland in 2008…violence against street sex workers went up by 50 per cent in just the first six months…sex workers are arrested all the time for brothel-keeping offences, which can mean sharing a workspace with other sex workers for safety.  Of course, having a criminal record relating to prostitution would make it almost impossible for me to ever leave sex work.  When the police raid premises they take everybody’s money – all the money I had earned that day, and probably my phone too – no receipt, no way of getting it back…

Lower Education (#773)

Anti-sex crusaders love their pseudoscience:

…Journalist Emily Yoffe dove into the “neurobiology of trauma”  nonsense last week as part of her series of articles at The Atlantic on campus rape.  This phrase has appeared in federal legislation, state legislation, Department of Education guidance to colleges, and campus sexual assault proceedings.  It is used to explain why victims of sexual assault might not resist or even say no at all; why their memories of the incident might be spotty; and why changes to their stories over time are normal.  Under this theory, hormones and other neurotransmitters go mad and can cause temporary brain damage; memories of an assault are stored perfectly somewhere in the brain but are “fragmented” at first, so it might take victims time to piece together the true story of what happened…But…these claims…fly in the face of almost all recent research on memory and trauma…We have been here before.  In the 1980s, the idea that childhood sexual abuse caused…repressed memories grew quite popular…

The Mote and the Beam (#774)

Some tech companies are willing to destroy the internet to secure a temporary business advantage:

Since the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017 was introduced in the Senate in August, tech companies and advocacy groups have…called it “disastrous for free speech online,” asking its members to call their representatives in Congress.  Meanwhile, supporters of the bill have emerged from unlikely quarters — including tech giant Oracle and Hollywood studio 21st Century Fox — and are using the legislation as an opportunity to take shots at Google…

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Julie Bindel, the well-known British “feminist” and prohibitionist, likes to call herself a journalist; however, I can think of a few more apt labels:  Huckster.  Charlatan.  Fruitcake.  And most of all, lazy twit who can’t even keep track of her own lies.  She’s been hawking a new book for a while now, but despite the help of a major UK newspaper giving her plenty of free column-inches in which to vomit out her regurgitated feces, it looks as though it’s going to flop in a big way.  And though I lack the intellectual endurance to even scan her overpriced doorstop, fortunately my friend Brooke Magnanti has far more critical wherewithall than I do, and was happy to volunteer this synopsis so none of y’all have to bother touching it, either.

This week Julie Bindel releases a new text which I have been privileged to see an advance copy of.  Unlike her previous efforts it’s aimed more at a scholarly market than a popular one, with aspirations to be a summary of investigations into sex workers’ organizations.  The newspaper coverage in Britain has been unescapable in the run-up to its release, with Bindel herself penning vicious invectives against sex workers in all the major papers.  Bindel initially crowdfunded the book to the tune of £7000.  Backers could pay £250 for the honor of having lunch with the woman herself (ironic when criminalized sex workers are also often forced to advertise their services as “lunch dates”).  On top of this, the book had an advance from Palgrave, so the punters end up paying twice.  The title, The Pimping of Prostitution, is ironic given anti-sex work crusades demonstrably attract and spend far more money than shoestring operations like rights orgs do; it is offered at an eye-watering $39.99 for the paperback (and an unbelievable $37.99 for the Kindle edition).  But while supporters paid a premium for the content, does the book deliver?

In a word:  no.  While advertised as a scholarly work it lacks any academic rigor.  Most of the references are self-citations of privately published reviews written by Bindel and Melissa Farley.  Peer review?  What peer review?  A few debunked statistics are trotted out as well.  There is no content of note here, which is unsurprising given Bindel’s most famous quote is that if given a gun and forced to choose between shooting a pimp and an academic, she would shoot the academic.  Bindel claims to have interviewed 250 people in 40 countries about sex work – by her own admission they are journalist friends of hers, police, and “regular members of the public who knew very little, if anything, about the sex trade”.  If this were a middle school project it would be laughed out of class for its utter lack of quality.  She notes in the acknowledgments that “the other side” trusted her to “represent their words and views fairly”.  Is that so?  She has called legalization and decriminalization the same thing when they are not.  Despite being told many times sex workers support decriminalization, not legalization, Julie is too dishonest to admit this, setting up a straw (wo)man and knocking it down over and over.

She states over and over again that there is a “pro-prostitution lobby”.  Who?  She never exactly says and cannot produce any paper trail.  That is for the simple reason that it is she and her friends who are lobbying politicians, setting up All Party Parliamentary Groups stuffed with MPs who want to see more women imprisoned, and paying for events to try to sway lawmakers to their ideology.  The other side, such as it is, is sex workers unpaid for standing up for their rights, and a handful of front-line organizations trying desperately to make sure any sense is heard in the prohibitionist din.  In any case, the claim she interviewed sex work activists is false; she has not so much interviewed her opponents as hand-selected people uninvolved in activism or sex work.  Why are her lengthy conversations with Peter Tatchell about gay men and the age of consent here, if not to stoke pedophilia fears on the back of homophobia?  Why does she place so much importance on tearing down sociologist Dr Catherine Hakim, whose area of research this is not?  How is politician Keith Vaz’s relationship with male escorts related to violence against women?  A few contextless quotes from Conner Habib and Janet Mock are thrown in to prove – well, it’s not clear what, actually.  It’s a mystery:  a bunch of unconnected hit jobs padding out an otherwise shoddy book.  The rest is a collection of personal anecdotes, old feminists she once met, and so on.  She also details the time in the ’70s she was pen-friends with imprisoned sex worker Emma Humphreys, while dodging the question of why the laws she supports would still put women like Emma in jail.

When discussing sex workers condescension drips from every sentence and it is clear she is used to having the floor to herself.  Unable to take criticism or debate (the launch party for her book at “independent intellectual venue” Conway Hall expressly forbade sex work activists), disgusted by the humans she so profitably claims to save.  Her schtick would be funny if it didn’t have real and damaging repercussions on people’s lives.  But the main takeaway from the book is its desperation.  The money she raised appears to have gone towards an all-expenses-paid international jaunt with only the slenderest of results to show for it.  The text reads less like a new movement and more like a last gasp.  If this is Bindel’s final shot at the history books than let it also be the epitaph for her career.  Here lies prohibition: illogical, illiberal, and entirely without merit.

If you want real scholarship about sex work, including hard-hitting debunking of Bindel’s lies (and those of her cronies), please purchase Brooke’s new book Sex, Lies and Statistics (with a foreword by yours truly).  And until Monday evening, Brooke is donating 100% of the profits from ALL preorders globally to SWOP Behind Bars, the nonprofit organization which specializes in helping the women Bindel and her ilk want to keep locking up in cages.

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The trade union movement has to decide whether it’s going to back workers…or…police.  –  Laura Watson

Monsters 

The Swedish model protects sex workers!

Last year, France passed [the Swedish model, under the pretense of]…protecting sex workers from prosecution, but…[as sex worker activists predicted] it is simply driving them further underground and exposing them to far more danger.  Transsexual prostitutes who work in Paris’s Bois de Boulogne…are disproportionately affected…

Prudesville 

A new twist in Everett, WA’s absurd “bikini barista” melodrama:

Bikini baristas…are suing [Everett] over its ban on serving “quick service” food and drinks with bare shoulders, midriffs, or upper thighs…a group of seven baristas and one coffee stand owner filed a federal lawsuit alleging a violation of their rights to free expression, privacy, due process, and equal protection…Everett isn’t claiming that the regulations serve any food safety or public health purposes…the point of the dress code is to prevent…baristas from giving customers a peep show for extra cash…Employee violations can lead to fines for business owners, along with a requirement to register for a special license (which the city can deny)…if the owners are judged to have “facilitated” the “lewd conduct,” they can be slapped with a $5,000 fine and a year in jail.  Essentially, Everett has created a crime similar to promoting prostitution—but for facilitating skimpy clothing…

Law of the Instrument (#560)

Picture what you’d think of as “sex trafficking”, then compare it to this:

A St. Louis man who was employed at a high school is facing child pornography and sex trafficking charges after police said he exchanged illicit texts with a 15-year-old male student at the school.  Michael A. West…told the [young man] he could get him an opportunity to make money for performing sexual acts…

Cases are this are why even some not-completely-stupid people believe that “sex trafficking” is increasing; “sex trafficking” charges certainly are.

Social Autoimmune Disorder (#594)

Add Dayton, Ohio to the cities mailing blatantly-unconstitutional “Dear John” letters to the registered addresses of vehicles passing through certain neighborhoods:

So far this year, the Dayton police Vice Unit has mailed 18 [threat letters] to the owners of vehicles that were spotted in areas [police claim to be] known for high levels of prostitution.  The letters are supposed to [scare] people [by claiming that wanting sex]…is a “serious offense” that carries potential…deadly disease and other sexually transmitted infections…[often] the recipients are spouses or business owners whose vehicles were in the possession of [others] when [cops decided to stick their noses into others’ business]…

To Molest and Rape 

The US government claims it takes reports of cops raping women seriously…as long as they’re not US cops:

…two U.S. students…were raped by Carabinieri policemen who [took] them home in a patrol car from a nightclub…three patrol cars went to a nightclub to investigate a fight.  Two cars left after calm was restored, but the third remained.  The women…told authorities that the [cops] drove them to their apartment building and raped them…witnesses…confirm[ed] they saw the women enter the patrol car…

Uncommon Sense (#669)

The IWW was the first major union to support sex workers rights, but it won’t be the last:

The GMB and ASLEF have come out in support of the full decriminalisation of sex work in Britain, the first major unions to do so…The unions, which have a combined membership of over 600,000, are calling for the UK to adopt full decriminalisation, similar to the approach adopted by New Zealand, which since 2003 has provided sex workers with legal protections…

The Pygmalion Fallacy (#687) 

“Sex robot” hysteria gets ever sillier:

A cybersecurity scientist has issued a bizarre warning that sex robots could one day rise up and kill their owners if hackers can get inside their heads…cybersecurity lecturer Dr. Nick Patterson [fantasized] that the lifelike dolls could end up going all “Terminator” on us…hackers could breach the realistic robots’ inner defenses and catch their owners with their pants down…

Does this idea seem familiar to regular readers?

The Widening Gyre (#735)

They finally realized they could expand the panic by adding male “sex slaves”:

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation [formerly “Morality in Media”], Washington College, and The U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking held a historic press conference…to kick off the first ever symposium on the sexual exploitation harming boys and men.  The government, NGOs, and society at large have overlooked male victims of sexual exploitation, the organizations [pandered]…Haley Halverson…of…the [NCSE fantasized]…that [the] estimated range of male trafficking victims hovers in the hundreds of thousands”…

The NCSE is a fundamentalist Christian anti-porn organization which is also behind the recent tactic of getting conservative states to declare porn a “public health crisis”.

Comfort Zone (#769)

Sometimes the attempt to hide migration control behind the “sex trafficking” narrative is especially apparent:

…”It had been more than 10 years since Gari, an undocumented immigrant from Guatemala…had seen his younger brother.  So he was surprised earlier this year when he received a call from a federal government agency telling him his teen brother had emigrated alone from the Central American country to the Arizona-Mexico border…the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services…asked Gari to take legal guardianship of his brother….officials [lied]…that it wouldn’t jeopardize his own safety….[but] Gari…was arrested…by federal immigration agents who had used his little brother as bait“…immigration attorney Yazmin Rodriguez…knows at least three other similar cases…ICE [pretends] using children fleeing violence as bait “[is] part of a broader mission to disrupt human trafficking”…

The Mote and the Beam (#773)

The odious Nick Kristof finds it “baffling and perplexing” that internet companies don’t want the internet destroyed by sociopathic politicians on a witch hunt:

Sex traffickers in America have…a…crucial (if secret) ally: Google…organizations it funds have for years been quietly helping Backpage.com, the odious website where most American [passive, vegetable] victims of human trafficking are sold, to battle lawsuits from [ambulance-chasers fantasizing that] children [are] sold there for sex.  Now Google is using its enormous lobbying power in Washington to try to kill bipartisan legislation that would [enable profiteers to sue]…websites that [they claim] promote sex trafficking [or virtually any other federal crime]…as Backpage fights off prosecutors and worries about the legislation, the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act, Google has emerged as its behind-the-scenes champion…

What I find “baffling and perplexing” is that so few people recognize “One-hand” Kristof’s BDSM masturbatory fantasies about underage girls for what they are.

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Brooke Magnanti has released a new, revised edition of her book The Sex Myth, retitled Sex, Lies and Statistics.  This was adapted by Brooke from her afterword (the foreword was written by yours truly), and I hope it will serve to encourage you to buy the book, which demolishes the shoddy garbage prohibitionists hold up in place of actual facts.  And it’s on sale now!

Media are obsessed with promoting a view we would previously have dismissed as Victorian.  There are indeed parallels.  The end of the 19th century and start of the 20th brought new technologies to add to the dissemination of ideas through mass media (much like the Internet today)…with the predictable horror and blame that brought then, just like now.  The political class made some unexpected alliances as a result; again, we see this happening.  Feminism has joined the anti-sex bandwagon in a big way.  Not just by blaming men for inequality between the sexes, but perhaps more profitably and successfully by blaming other women.  Many mainstream feminist critiques gloss over old “man-hating” attitudes and place blame squarely on other women.  Instead of embracing women who challenge convention, the preoccupation is with shooting them down.  On the one hand, we’re told that anyone who believes women and men should have equal rights under the law is a feminist, whether they know it or not.  On the other, we are told that one or another group of women are traitors.  It’s the feminists who have taken up the finger-wagging role of the patriarchy.  Take, for example, this quote by Julie Burchill:  “When the sex war is won prostitutes should be shot as collaborators for their terrible betrayal of all women.”  Advocating the murder of large numbers of women is such a great way to win supporters to the cause, no?

The more you look at the key players behind some of the stories, the more you notice odd pairings.  A group working closely with the anti-gay, anti-abortion US lobbying group using a female MP as the mouthpiece of their opinions on porn.  The well-known feminists signing up to work with far right groups.  Celebrities lending star power to issues they don’t understand at all.  Almost all approaches to these issues fail to consider the diversity of factors involved.  The “Swedish model” of sex work is an example of this.  Lots of hype, not a lot of data on whether paid sex work has stopped or whether anyone’s life has been improved as a result.  Columnists like Joan Smith can gush about jumping in to a cop car to see how the law is panning out, all while ignoring the fact that sex workers repeatedly confirm that the police are their greatest source of harassment, assault, and rape.  Proponents of the Swedish approach mention how “pressure” is ramping up on this topic – pressure that they themselves have generated through unchallenging media coverage.  When in doubt, follow the money.  Over and over again the people fronting these campaigns are connected to industries with vested interests, radical right-wing think tanks, or anti-LGBT lobbyists.  The deputy editor for the New Statesman previously worked at the Mail and is rumoured to have subedited Jan Moir when she wrote a viciously homophobic column about Stephen Gately’s death.  Arch-feminists like Julie Bindel write for staunchly right wing, regressive magazines like the Spectator.  There’s a saying where I come from:  you got to dance with the one who brung you.  I wonder, when everyone gets to the end of their dance cards, what promises feminists have made and what obligations they’ll have to honor.

Before 2009, when I wrote books under a pseudonym about my experiences as a sex worker, there was no small amount of grumbling in the press.  After I won the Guardian Best British Weblog award in 2003, a number of female contributors to that paper signed a letter vowing that if I was commissioned to write for the paper, they would quit.  Yet I continued to believe that if they knew I was real, they would feel differently.  It’s probably not a surprise to you that I was unprepared for what any fool could have predicted would happen.  Since coming out as a former sex worker, I have been criticized for being too middle class, too well educated, too independent.  As if my very existence in sex work was, somehow, unique.  But data across the spectrum of sex work shows this not to be true.  In any case, if I admitted to a drug addiction instead, or had been homeless?  That would have been used to write me off, too.  It is bizarre to read articles by people who’ve never met me attempting to dissect this or that bit of my life.  Some lazy commentators “blame” me for the existence of other call girls, or whatever new student sex worker is uncovered by the tabloids.  As flattering as that is, it is not true.  Prostitution is called “the oldest profession” for a reason.

After a while all such nonsense became background noise.  I assumed the combined forces of feminists and the Rescue Industry had nothing worse up their sleeves.  I was wrong.  When the first edition of this book was published in Britain in 2012, it was embargoed before publication day and available to fewer than 20 people to review.  Journalists who saw the book signed confidentiality agreements.  So it was a great surprise to wake up on the morning of publication slapped with a libel lawsuit from Eaves For Women, the domestic violence charity whose hapless forays into research are touched on in this book.  If their work had been published in academic journals, anyone writing to correct their numbers would have been treated professionally, but this was not academia I was dealing with.  Obviously, I did not write anything about Eaves that could not be verified, and just as obviously, they had not been sent a pre-publication copy of the book by my publisher but had been given one by book reviewer – and Eaves board member – Julie Bindel.  The firm representing Eaves in this lawsuit threat?  The one with Bindel’s wife as a founding partner.  The Eaves claims would have been hilarious if they had not been so ludicrous.  They claimed I “hacked their servers” to get information about their income and expenditures (as with all UK charities, it’s public information available on government websites) and “broken confidentiality agreements” to discuss their research (I looked up their publications from conferences, also available online).  Their arguments depended on evidence so far-fetched it could have served as a bad science example in the book itself.  I later learned this was not the first time this had happened.  Eaves had threatened to sue so many people, so often, they even served legal threats on Bindel’s own employer at the time, the Guardian newspaper for an article by Belinda Brooks-Gordon (Bindel is no longer on Guardian staff, but freelances for them).  The intellectual dishonesty of someone like Bindel, who claims to be “silenced” and a “free speech” advocate yet uses archaic laws to try to silence opposition, is staggering.  Unsurprisingly the threatened suit was without merit and quickly dropped.

Meanwhile, the media feminists of the UK rounded on me.  Julie Burchill wrote one article claiming I was a “sex addict”, another calling me a “human toilet”, and compared me to a convicted (and executed) Nazi war criminal; this was especially offensive as I am of Jewish heritage.  The “feminist” literature magazine that published those last two tidbits claimed they did not know what the words meant.  Sorry, Mslexia, but ignorance is no excuse.  They did not apologize.  One feminist turned up at a talk in Edinburgh to shout to the audience that I was a pedophile and claim my screenshots of the Glasgow City Council’s website (showing how much they paid for anti-strip club consultations) were faked.  Others picketed talks and book signings, sent death threats, and harassed me so frequently by phone that I gave up on carrying a mobile altogether.  They contacted my former editor at the Telegraph in an attempt to get me fired – long after I’d already quit.  Few in journalism seem to care that the people doing this are all a couple of degrees of separation from known anti-LGBT and white supremacist orgs in the US.  All anyone wants is to see the naughty, naughty sex lady be punished.  They don’t care how it’s done or who does it.  This, I was told, was the price of being a sex worker in public.

Writers with the left-leaning New Statesman magazine, many of whom launched careers by harassing trans women and sex workers, also got the boot in.  Their assistant editor, Helen Lewis, sits on the board of a charity that is anti-sex work and anti-trans women.  She and other feminists joked on social media when a former partner tried to sue me for reporting his abuse (he later dropped the suit to much less fanfare).  They encouraged Breitbart to run a week-long campaign of harassment and abuse.  They egged on nasty “investigative journalist” Jeremy Duns who made sexual threats against me and my husband.  They examined photos from my escorting days, speculating on whether I was “hot enough” have been a sex worker, and speculating about what diseases I might have.  They circulated a list at public events suggesting that I and others were employed by a shadowy “Pimp Lobby” and financially benefitting from trafficking (if that’s the case, I have yet to receive a paycheck).  The laughable list, compiled by Julie Bindel, included a number of people uninvolved with sex work at all, including an artist who died in 2010, so it’s clear fact-checking is not a valued quality among these people.  The abuse peaked when they outed a trans camgirl whose Twitter account they thought had been written by me.  It wasn’t – but in the process they humiliated a woman who was not yet out to her family.  Their supposed evidence?  We both supported Scottish independence, and both, at different times, used the phrase “snake oil”.  In spite of having got it drastically wrong, no apology to the woman they doxxed was forthcoming.  Why would anyone do this?  In short, to control the narrative.

It would be unthinkable – to most people, anyway – to have a discussion about women’s rights that did not involve any women.  Or a discussion about race that did not include people of color.  But time and again when the topic is sex work, sex workers themselves are not simply ignored, they are actively excluded.  What do sex workers want?  A seat at the table.  To be able to work together for safety.  To report crimes against them without fear of arrest.  For services to be made available that are not dependent on them giving evidence against others.  To not live in fear of deportation or abuse by police.  In short:  they want the same protection under the law that any other worker can expect.  And not only is this what sex workers want, it’s what the evidence supports as best practice.  We’ve seen the benefits of decriminalization in New Zealand, in New South Wales Australia.  We’ve also seen what goes wrong in Sweden, in the Netherlands, and in the US.  International agencies from the WHO to Amnesty agree.  But this evidence-driven support for decrim hasn’t come out of thin air.  Much has been written on the disruptive effects of social media, but this much is true:  if not for the internet, people like me would never have been able to challenge the stereotypes with facts.  Marginalized people with multiple oppressions – black trans sex workers, drug using sex workers – who would otherwise fear being outed, are being taken seriously by a mainstream that otherwise would never have known they existed.  The infantilized victims who need rich white ladies to save them, it turns out, are fully capable adults who can make their own decisions and won’t hesitate to tell you that.  And that makes some folks with vested interests very upset indeed.

What happened to me was not the first nor even worst example.  Entrenched second-wave feminists in media have harassed trans politicians out of their jobs, driven black cultural commentators off of social media, and consistently outed and trashed any sex worker who crosses their paths.  Heaven help you if you happen to belong to more than one of these groups.  They reserve the worst treatment for the most marginalized, secure in the knowledge that society does not care because they told society not to.  The disinformation campaign used to sustain sex myths was a glimpse into a post-truth world where what matters is not what is right, but who can get the most money.  Some of those folks were so threatened by one woman and one book that they tried to bankrupt, discredit, and silence one blogger.  A movement backed by billions of dollars in international grants is so susceptible to people seeing the real data, they will stop at nothing to keep the truth from getting out.  And they are not interested in ethical debate; they demand that their point of view be bowed to in any discussion, even (and especially) if that means keeping the discussion centered on their feelings rather than other people’s right to exist.  They use the media not to understand, but to bludgeon.  They simply do not care if their information is incorrect.  I started off believing that open debate was the best way to win hearts and minds; I ended up realizing that some people will use that to drown out anyone who does not agree with their own intolerant, hate-filled views.  There simply is no way to have a debate with people who characterize you as an “orifice” who “should be dead in a ditch.”  There is no common ground to be found with people who willingly promote your abusers.

And yet, in all the negativity, there are signs of light.  In the years from when I was a sex worker in 2003, since I came out in 2009, and after the first edition of this book in 2012, the ground has rapidly shifted.  When Amnesty International rejected threats from famous feminists and backed the decriminalization of sex work based on the evidence, it was a win for a sex workers’ movement that far predates and will long outlast any one person.  When I gave evidence to UK Parliament in 2016, the MPs – to my surprise – took the suggestions of sex workers on board in their report, rather that listening to entrenched and well-funded special interests.  In Scottish Parliament, Rhoda Grant (who receives funding from the anti-gay, anti-abortion charity Care) has tried three times to introduce criminalization of sex work, and been defeated all three times.  Evidence really does win out from time to time; it might not seem that way in the moment, but things are changing, slowly and surely.  In 2009 and 2012, it felt as if every week brought new abuse from a media obsessed with surfaces instead of content.  So-called progressives shame and reject us, even when sex workers were early supporters of feminism, gay rights, and other movements that have since gained public acceptance on the back of that effort.  In particular, the most marginalized sex workers from black and trans communities were the ones most likely to be erased, people like Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P Johnson, and many more.  Slowly and surely their legacy is being reclaimed, too.  The pendulum of attitudes about sex and sexuality is always in motion.  I hope that in my lifetime the burden of shame felt by so many for so long will be lifted.  With evidence and hard work we can reclaim the narrative – and take back our lives from the playground bullies of shame and fear.

Brooke doesn’t pull any punches in this new, US edition; it’s a vital debunking resource for those who support sex worker rights, and you really, really, REALLY ought to read it!

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The whole idea of shelter homes is steeped in morality, not rights.  –  Satyawati from Bhumika

Legal Is as Legal Does

What “legalized and heavily regulated” actually looks like in practice:

According to the Greek sex work legislation adopted in 1999, sex work is legal but heavily regulated.  Only sex work that occurs in state-licensed brothels is legal.  Street-based sex work and sex work that occurs in hotels is illegal. Municipalities are allowed to determine the number of licensed brothels.  Brothels are not allowed within 200 meters of public buildings, i.e. schools, churches, kindergartens, playgrounds, health clinics, hospitals, sport centers, libraries, squares and nursing homes.  This means it is impossible to have a state-licensed brothel in any Greek city…sex workers are not allowed to be married.  They…are only allowed to work for 3 years and require a number of legal and medical documents to work legally…[including] a chest X-Ray…mandatory medical testing for STIs every 15 days…prohibits sex workers from working together.  The use of an apartment…requires the consent of all the residents and the owners of the rest of the apartments…[and] the assistant staff of brothels should be older than 50 and should have mandatory medical testing…

Torture Chamber

Just in case you thought screws restricted their petty sadism to the prisoners:

A California prison psychologist has filed a lawsuit against the state alleging she was threatened and demoted after she reported mistreatment of gay and transgender inmates at a correctional facility in Vacaville…Lori Jespersen [reports that a screw] locked her in a confinement area with dangerous criminals after she filed complaints on behalf of transgender inmates…The lawsuit describes a number of incidents…includ[ing]…[screws] prevented transgender inmates from attending a therapy group and insulted them…[screws] compelled transgender inmates to strip in the open and denied them privacy screens…[screws] “outted” a transgender inmate by disclosing personal information about her on Facebook…In both cases [where she was locked in with violent criminals] she was “unsupervised, alone and without access to a safety alarm”…

Traffic Circle

Criticism of “anti-trafficking” propaganda from inside the “anti-trafficking” ranks:

At all levels of anti-trafficking work, the collection and analysis of data…continues to be underemphasised…in comparison to the use of emotionally-charged rhetoric and hyperbole…A substantial and ever growing body of research has convincingly demonstrated that the evidence base is lacking…Interventions continue to be designed and funded largely based upon donor policy agendas—and the outsized supply of anti-trafficking organisations that are ready to pursue them—rather than results-based decision-making on what works…the same strategies will be continued indefinitely regardless of the outcomes produced…Evaluators and the organisations who hire them are participants in what can be described as an economy of bad faith.  There’s an unspoken agreement that no serious concerns will be raised about the interventions examined, and in return, the evaluator will be kept on the roster for future assignments…What is particularly disturbing is the efforts made to cover up the knowledge gap by vastly overstating what has actually been achieved…with organisations even claiming that their beneficiaries have been “liberated from slavery”…

License to Rape (#562) 

“Charges dropped” is about as close as the state will come to admitting cops have license to rape anyone they please:

Charnesia Corley was a 21-year-old college student with no criminal record when two cops from the Harris County Sheriff’s Office stopped her in June 2015 for running a red light…[cops] threw her to the ground, pushed her partially underneath her own car, and yanked Corley’s pants down to her ankles.  For the next 11 minutes, dash cam video of the incident shows, she was held down…while…[cops] repeatedly probed her vagina [with their fingers]…No drugs were found…Sam Cammack, an attorney representing Corley in a multi-million-dollar civil rights lawsuit against the county, [recognizes that] the search [constituted] “rape by cop…they sexually assaulted her…You can’t pull someone over, think you might find something, and do that to them.”  The full dash-cam video…confirm[s] Corley’s [account.  Cops] William Strong and Ronaldine Pierre…were indicted in June 2016 by a Harris County grand jury on charges of official oppression, but those charges were dropped last week…Cammack…hopes…to force the county to reopen the case with a new prosecutor…he does not believe that a second grand jury has the authority to overrule a grand jury that lawfully charged the two [rapists, who]…are still employed by the department…

Permanent Record

If you think they’ll keep this limited to sex crimes, you’re a fool:

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed legislation that will remove the statutes of limitation for sexual abuse crimes…That will allow for the prosecution of those crimes [long after evidence or witnesses who might exonerate the accused are gone]…

Schadenfreude (#725)

There’s now more than one outfit cashing in on “sex trafficking” tours in Houston:

Elijah Rising, a [profiteer group] dedicated to [cashing in on]sex trafficking [hysteria] in Houston, is [spreading ridiculous propaganda about] the sex trade with its Awareness Van Tours…During the tour, a volunteer for the group points out all the places where sex trafficking happens in Houston, including strip clubs, massage parlors and nondescript apartments…Houston is a massive hub for the North American sex trade, with more than 300,000 Texas victims alone – 80,000 of those being underage…one of the main reasons…is…I-10, which spans the entire United States and frequently serves as a pipeline for smugglers in the illegal sex trade…

From grotesque mathematical illiteracy to sociological absurdity, this story packs a lot into a few lines.

Signs (#734) 

“Linked with trafficking”.  Pigs just love to make their fantasies sound “scientific”:

The Modesto [California] Police Department…joined with…[a prohibitionist profiteer group called] Without Permission to produce a video that [claims a nonexistent] rise in high school-age victims and…goes over some…red flags…They have an older boyfriend…bruises or other injuries…Tattoos or branding…linked with trafficking are bar codes, dollar signs, horseshoes and the word “Daddy”.  A change in wardrobe toward sensual, seductive clothing also is worth noting, the [perverts fantasized]…In the video, [a pig oinks] about the importance of parents [spying on]…their children’s social media accounts and Internet history…

Against Their Will (#751) 

How different the same story sounds when stripped of euphemisms:

Twelve sex workers escaped from Ujjwala House in Hyderabad India, where they had been detained for months following a raid on their workplaces…It is not the first time this has happened, with local residents reporting a few women detained in the shelter fled several years ago.  There are widespread, longstanding reports of abuses and complaints relating to the shelter and many like it in Hyderabad.  Amongst the myriad of concerns is the way in which the “shelters” are described as a service to support individuals.  However, those kept in the facilitates are referred to as “inmates” and detained against their will…

Cooties (#756) 

Despite the popularity of this masturbatory fantasy with UK cops, not one has ever been found:

Prostitutes working in [Jersey] are turning short-term accommodation lets into “pop up brothels”…organised-crime gangs, book the accommodation for short periods to avoid detection.  Border authorities have witnessed women they [fantasize] are involved in the sex trade travelling into the Island with [fantasized] “male chaperones, pimps or alpha females (female pimps)”, [cops fantasize].  Detective Chief Inspector Lee Turner…[fantasized] that…a ‘significant proportion’ were being forced into the sex trade by mainly eastern European organised-crime gangs working out of the UK…

“Pop-up brothel” is UK copese for “AirBnB incall”.  But “alpha female” is just the latest in absurd terms made up by prohibitionists to sound sinister; presumably “alpha females” go hand-in-hand with “gorilla pimps“.

Safe Targets (#763) 

Never call the cops for any reason whatsoever:

…a…Brazilian woman…was robbed at knifepoint by five men…in Enfield in the early hours of June 24th.  When the victim called the police, she said their focus seemed to be more on her activities as a sex worker than the attack itself.  After returning from a recent trip to Spain, she was detained at Gatwick airport for several hours and later given a letter…demanding that she leave the UK…Campaigners for sex workers’ rights say that by focusing on the prosecution and deportation of the worker rather than the attack against her, police were discouraging other women from coming to them for help…

In the US, roughly 60% of sex worker arrests result from some crime being committed against the sex worker, attracting the attention of the cops.

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Radfems…use terms like “sell herself” as though, at the end of the transaction, a woman has sold off a body part.  –  Lauren Rosewarne

Saving Them From Themselves

Apparently Dan Rubinstein has never heard of this thing called “pregnancy”:

…Ronald Lee Love faces a felony child sexual-exploitation charge for exchanging explicit text-messages with someone with whom it would have been legal for him to have had sex.  Love, who lives in Mesa County, Colorado, began corresponding last summer when he was 25 with a 15-year-old girl who lives in New England…he explicitly insisted that their relationship remain digital because he believed physical activity was illegal…In Colorado, however, the age of consent is 15, so long as a sexual partner is not 10 or more years older…Yet authorities in this same state have decided someone…Receiving or possessing sexually-oriented images of someone under age 18…is a felony punishable by one to six years per offense…Local authorities defended their position that sexting is worse than actual sex, contending that…while a real-life sexual liaison might be a one-or limited-time thing, the teen sending Love her photo could “potentially come back to haunt this girl 30 years from now,” said Mesa County District Attorney District Attorney Dan Rubinstein.

Because obviously being saddled with a brat at 15 wouldn’t be NEARLY as bad as the kind of nudie pics that every ordinarily-sexual woman in the developed world has floating around.  Do pigs (I count DAs as part of that species) ever sound as stupid as they do when coming up with moronic rationalizations for moronic laws?

I’m Sure You Feel Safer Now

Heroic Irish “authorities” save a man from getting his kidney transplant paid for:

A 73-year-old Brazilian prostitute…working in a brothel in…Kildare…walked free from court because she planned to return home as soon as the…case was over…She…was running the brothel…to pay for her 40-year-old son’s kidney transplant.  She also wanted to return home to her seriously ill 98-year-old mother…gardai…found just €80 in cash at the property…but…Judge Zaidan…[stole it anyway] and [gave it to Ruhama]…

Irish judges have a long an sadistic history of robbing sex workers and giving the money to those who want us imprisoned in workhouses and our families destroyed.

The Notorious Badge

You know peak hysteria has been reached when a moral panic features in afternoon soaps:

Young and the Restless (Y&R) spoilers for the week of August 7 and 14 reveal that Sharon…finds herself in grave danger while investigating a sex ring in Genoa City…Crystal…claims she is being held against her will by a prostitution ring…[and] is trying to escape from her captors who are following her… Zack is involved in the prostitution ring and…his dating app project with Abby Newman is linked with the operations of the criminal ring.  Abby Newman will soon find out that the dating app she is developing with Zack is part of a sex trafficking operation…

End Demand

Authoritarians would be even more dangerous if they could actually get their shit together:

People convicted of buying sex have, since February, been eligible for a program to [indoctrinate] them [in anti-sex propaganda]…But no one has been sentenced to it yet…[because] Bismarck [North Dakota]…City Attorney Jason Hammes…did not know it existed…”It appears the municipal prosecutors and judges may not be aware of it,” Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem wrote in a letter to city attorneys and municipal judges on July 25…

Watershed

Australia has far more sane feminists than does the US:

While women’s libbers have spent decades fighting to get us dominion over our own bodies, radical feminists have spent almost as long trying to insert caveats.  Apparently there are right and egregiously wrong ways to use our bodies – more specifically our genitals – particularly when dollars are involved…I not only vehemently disagree with the radfem position, but I view it as fundamentally un-feminist…If feminists aren’t fighting for my right to use my body how I choose, then they’ve dramatically detoured from their mission…

Decentralization (#444)

Remember “titcoin”?

“Lust” is an initial coin offering based on the Ethereum blockchain platform, designed for prostitutes and their customers to exchange money for sexual services.  It uses…anonymity features to escrow funding of the parties and keep their identities private, in order to avoid law-enforcement scrutiny and public shaming.  Leaving aside the thorny moral and social questions raised by the currency’s intended use…the “smart contracts” favor one side of the bargain: the “key has to be scanned later if they make an agreement and meet otherwise the contract gets automatically closed in 48 hours, and the client gets his Etherium tokens back in the wallet”…if the “client” has sex with the worker, and then does not scan her (sic) token, the client gets to have sex, and the worker gets nothing.  Despite high-minded talk about preventing violence against sex-workers, the major threat-model addressed by these smart-contracts is men who don’t feel like they got value for money when having sex, not women who perform sex-for-money and don’t get paid for it…

Despite Cory Doctorow’s pompous pearl-clutching (since when is consensual sex a “thorny moral question” to anyone but authoritarians?) he’s right about the way this would work, which means no sane sex worker will ever use it.  Cash up front, guys, or you get nothing.

Shift in the Wind (#510)

The Adam Smith Institute continues its support of decriminalization with a commentary on a new paper by Ron Weitzer:

…sociologist Ronald Weitzer…gives new insight into the sorry state of the academic literature on these topics.  First on his list of grievances is the unreliability of the data that is often used…[but] Flawed data is just the tip of the iceberg…[often] the authors’ approach to study design also leaves a lot to be desired…”The authors use aggregate national trafficking estimates (which combine labor, sex, and other kinds of trafficking) in their attempt to assess whether legal prostitution makes a difference. This means that there is a gross mismatch between the trafficking figures and prostitution law:  In assessing whether prostitution law is related to the incidence of trafficking, figures on sex trafficking alone should be used, not the totals for all types if trafficking“…A subsequent study by Cho (2016) using a different data source contains another howler…”Without citing any source, Cho claims that ‘prostitution is closely linked to human trafficking because sex trafficking for the purpose of prostitution is the most common form of human trafficking and constitutes the largest fraction of trafficking victims’…This claim is contradicted by the International Labour Organization (ILO)…[which states] ‘Forced commercial sexual exploitation represents 11% of all cases’ of forced labor worldwide“…Weitzer’s paper would be an interesting academic exercise in the perils of low-quality data and poor research methodology, except for the fact that policies being enacted on the basis of [these bad] studies are hurting marginalized women…when it comes to scaremongering stories about sex trafficking epidemics and accompanying calls for the “Nordic Model”, extra caution should be exercised.

Cops and Robbers (#629) 

More vigilantes playing with people’s lives and lying to men in an attempt to steal income from sex workers who may need it to pay rent and feed their children:

A new [chat]bot built by Microsoft employees in their spare time…[was] tested recently in Seattle, Atlanta, and Washington…[it] lurks behind fake online ads…posted by [anti-sex worker profiteers]…and responds to text messages sent to the number listed.  The software initially pretends to be the person in the ad, and can converse about its purported age, body, fetish services, and pricing.  But if a would-be buyer signals an intent to purchase sex, the bot pivots sharply into [prohibitionist propaganda]…”Buying sex from anyone is illegal and can cause serious long term harm to the victim, as well as further the cycle of human trafficking…Details of this incident will be reviewed further and you may be contacted by law enforcement for questioning”…Project Intercept’s lead partner, Seattle Against Slavery, is working with counterparts in 21 other U.S. cities, including Boston and Houston, to deploy the bot more widely…Project Intercept was started in 2012 by two Microsoft employees after seeing a [movie] about sex trafficking…

Given the involvement of the vile SAS and the list of cities involved, methinks Swanee Hunt’s foul reek is all over this.

Lack of Evidence (#696)

As long as these laws exist, all women are vulnerable to persecution by cops:

On July 31, an undercover cop in Columbus, Georgia, invited a 51-year-old woman into his car and offered her $5 for oral sex. When she rebuffed his offer and tried to get out, he arrested the woman for loitering for the purpose of prostitution…a controversial charge commonly used by the Columbus Police Department (CPD) to target those such as homeless women, people who’ve previously been arrested on prostitution charges, or people who don’t meet a [cop’s] standard of gender conformity.  On Sunday morning, CPD officers arrested a 24-year-old homeless woman for allegedly waving at two passing cars from the side of the road…Last summer, 24-year-old C. Williams was arrested while sitting at a bus stop because…Williams was carrying condoms and “dressed as a woman”…the city statute…expressly says evidence of an intent to commit prostitution or sodomy includes the person being “a known prostitute, pimp or sodomist”…

The Widening Gyre (#696) 

Given the number of companies profiting from “sex trafficking” hysteria, it should come as no surprise when individuals start using it for publicity stunts:

British model Chloe Ayling…claims she was held captive for almost a week after being lured to Milan, Italy, for what she was told was a photo shoot.  Her alleged captor, Lukasz Pawel Herba, [supposedly] drugged her and placed her in a large suitcase in a car boot…Ayling was allegedly held hostage for up to six days as her abductors [supposedly a group called “Black Death” with ties to the Russian mafia] tried to sell her as a sex slave…The gang says its victims can be “transported globally” and advertises its activities, saying: “If you wish, we can kidnap a specific target for your needs…The advert claims the abductors “do not sell girls that are terminally ill, pregnant, have STDs or are young mothers”.  It has been suggested the gang let Ms Ayling go after realising she had a two-year-old son…While [sensible] people have raised doubts about her story, her lawyer, Francesco Pesce, said investigators believed her claims…

That cops, whose credulity on the topic of crime knows no bounds, believe the story is an argument against its being true, not for it.  Another is the notion of a gang which has no problem selling women into slavery, yet revere the sanctity of motherhood, and yet another is the fact that Ayling was seen shopping for shoes with her alleged abductor during the time she was supposedly bound to a chest of drawers (?) at a farmhouse.

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