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Posts Tagged ‘bogus studies’

Anti-prostitution activists need to get up off the ignorance couch and look at science.  –  Dinsa Sachan

R.I.P. Blaze Starr Famous pin-up Blaze Starr (real name Fannie Belle Fleming) in 1950

Blaze Starr, the voluptuous stripper who was billed as the Queen of Burlesque and whose affair with…Louisiana governor [Earl K. Long] was the basis of a 1989 movie, died on Monday…[at the age of] 83…the Ron Shelton film Blaze, starring Lolita Davidovich in the title role alongside Paul Newman as the governor…drew on her memoir, Blaze Starr: My Life as Told to Huey Perry, published in 1974.  Ms. Starr said that she and Mr. Long were engaged to be married when he died in 1960, two months before his divorce was to become final.  She continued to wear a five-carat diamond ring that she said he had given her…

Safe Targets

An article about women who sell panties on Reddit ends with the following paragraph:

…While sex work is still criminalized, its sellers are relegated to the dark outposts of the digital universe, where unsavory clients moderate the forums and self-employed workers walk on eggshells just to keep their business afloat…Until the laws surrounding sex work change, communities like Sex Sells are the last bastion of defense against the Internet’s faceless antagonists.

Harm Reduction

From the “no shit” department:

Sexual relationships that involve the exchange of money cannot be considered adultery, according to a Tokyo District Court ruling involving a couple and a bar hostess…No damages were rewarded to the plaintiff – the wife of a man who was allegedly sleeping with a hostess for more than seven years…she had sought more than $32,000 in compensation.  Judge Masamitsu Shiseki of the Tokyo District Court ruled…the sex between the plaintiff’s husband and the hostess was strictly business, and therefore did not harm the marriage…”such conduct does not damage peaceful marital life,” Shiseki…said.  “Even if the wife is disgusted by the act, it does not constitute a legal offense”…

Check Your Premises

Here’s another case exposing who really gets targeted under U.S. sex trafficking statutes.  Far from the cartoonishly evil kingpins or sociopathic perverts of political lore, it’s people like Oregon resident Julie Haner, who as a 19-year-old drove her 17-year-old friend across state lines so they could both make money via sex work.  Haner and the girl has previously attended high-school together and been on the same cheerleading squad…

Gateway

The sheriff of Charlotte County, Florida is adamant that sex work brings evil in its wake:  “There are obvious health risks, not only to the defendants, but also to their innocent family members, because of this type of activity…”  Obviously the sheriff must also believe that people who eat too much fatty food or work long hours should be arrested due to the “obvious health risks”.  But the head of vice for Charleston, West Virginia, isn’t so sure:

To people who say prostitution is a victimless crime and a waste of police resources, Young said the department is urged to make the arrests by members of the community…He conceded that the crime tends to have a “revolving door” of new offenders…officers don’t have reason to believe the women were trafficked or otherwise forced into the work…Young advocates for incarceration for the crimes so that arrests will be more of a deterrent…the women just make more deals to be able to pay the fines, he said…

Subtle Pimping

Looking for new vices to tax, Nevada lawmakers have turned their sights on escort services and massive music-and-light festivals in the desert.  Lawmakers…eliminated loopholes in Nevada’s live-entertainment tax, a lounge-lizard levy that had covered cabaret performances and burlesque dancing.  It now includes a 9 percent charge on tickets for events such as Burning Man…The tax…also would apply to “pickup fees” for escort services, but not prostitutes at Nevada’s 24 legal brothels…

Gorged With Meaning

Leave it to the Daily Fail to reverse the “sugar babies are exploited” narrative:  “Students lure online sugar daddies into paying their tuition fees: How young women are using the internet to find rich men who will give them cash in exchange for relationships” San Francisco Chronicle 1-20-1917

Hooker Humor (#31)

Miranda Kane uses her good reviews to catch reporters’ attention:

…her frank and funny one-woman show, The Coin Operated Girl, has won rave reviews…billed as “the cheapest hour you’ll ever spend with a prostitute”, it has drawn comparisons with the tell-all blog Belle de Jour…“There are a lot of people saying we should ban the buying of sex because all these women are being forced into it, but the only reason they are being forced into it are things like the Government cutting benefits and that there aren’t enough facilities out there to help with drug and mental health problems…we need to look at the base reasons why they are doing it”…

Watershed

After being drawn to the dynamic and outspoken prostitutes…at [a] conference…I met Ishtar Lakhani…who has been advocating for the decriminalization of prostitution in [South Africa]…“(Steinem’s) argument is that we live in a patriarchy.  All women are oppressed; all women are victims…a woman…[should] decide what [she wants] to choose…If you want to do sex work, it is your choice and should be respected”…The Nordic model is often touted as the solution to the prostitution problem.  However…the Nordic model has not helped women or reduced women in sex work or increased women’s safety…the model [also] affects the women’s ability to make money because of reduced number of clients…It is time for feminist activists and governments around the globe to recognize that New Zealand’s decriminalization model works.  Anti-prostitution activists argue that decriminalization expands the industry, but New Zealand’s government has found that not to be the case…

Full of Themselves (#418)

One can always tell a story influenced by the California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC):

…Unlike street walkers who ply their trade in motel rooms, those selling their bodies are doing so by intermingling with a legitimate business…Those using massage therapy as a front operate out of clean buildings indistinguishable from legitimate massage parlors…Manteca Police Chief Nick Obligacion…[lied] that [sex work] doesn’t qualify as a victimless crime…[because of] human trafficking…[even though his cops have never] found [any women who] said they were being forced into prostitution…[he pretends that] Human trafficking…is a growing problem in…Manteca [anyway and his DA crony] Tori Verber Salazar [tells old men lurid wanking fantasies of]…victims as young as 11 years old that are forced to do tricks…

Held Together With Lies (#542)

Remember that ridiculous probitionist “study” that pretended sex work “costs” France €1.6 billion a year?  Well, Mark Draughn took the time to work out the economic actualities, and it’s very interesting reading (and, as you might expect, completely different from what the prohibitionists pretend).  Like Gaul it’s divided into three parts, but it’s well worth your time.

Traffic Circle (#546)

Glenn Kessler isn’t the only one at the Washington Post who’s attacking “sex trafficking” mythology:

…At times, various government agencies have estimated that there were as many as 50,000 victims a year in this country.  Then, in 2004, another estimate came in at about 14,500 to 17,500, and then lowered it to 1,362, our colleague Jerry Markon wrote in a lengthy article in 2007…The FBI on April 6 put out its first report on human trafficking…The numbers were from just 13 states reporting…Even so, the total number of human trafficking offenses reported for either “commercial sex acts” or “involuntary servitude” in those 13 states was 14.  There were a total of four arrests…

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The assumption made by [neofeminists] is that sex workers are blind automatons, blithely wandering from one rape to the next, too blinded by the overwhelming glare of the “male gaze” and too fuzzy and confused in their stupid whore brains to differentiate between consensual sex and a violent, unwanted encounter.  –  Clare Bowden

Acting and Activism 

Tits and Sass does a good guide to the most loudmouthed and ridiculous Hollywood “sex trafficking” fetishists, including Susan Sarandon, Meg Ryan, Ashton Kutcher, Jada Pinkett-Smith and of course Mira Sorvino.rapist-murderer cop Richard J Aguirre

Surplus Women 

The only reason this cop is on trial for the rape and murder of a sex worker 30 years ago is that he just couldn’t give up the habit:

Shortly after Richard J. Aguirre appeared in court…in his Franklin County rape case…he…was arrested by Spokane police for the murder of a prostitute in 1986…The one time Officer of the Year and 27-year veteran of the force in Pasco has been charged…with first-degree murder…bail is set at $500,000…Aguirre voluntarily submitted DNA during the recent rape investigation and the sample…matched…DNA recovered from the [earlier case]…police interviewed Lawrence Cole, who grew up with Aguirre…The two men apparently frequented bars and strip clubs and solicited prostitutes at least once…After a night of drinking, Cole reported that Aguirre said he “hit a woman” and “choked her”…And when Aguirre walked away “he thought she was still moving.”  Detectives investigating the case determined it was likely [Ruby] Doss and her killer got into a struggle inside a manure pit after they had sex…She ran more than 250 feet before she was hit in the back of the head and forehead with an object.  [She]…was then strangled and the suspect returned to the pit to hide her fur coat, wig and earrings…

Follow Your Bliss (#38)

A [former underage sex worker]…says a lawyer who was supposed to take her to a shelter for abused girls instead raped her at a posh Dallas hotel…a lawsuit filed by the girl’s mother…alleges that Michael Harssema was…“employed and/or volunteering for Traffick 911,” an anti-trafficking organization…Traffick 911 officials deny any connection with Harssema…

Train Wreck (#48)

Looks like Nigeria’s getting into the “asset forfeiture” racket, too:

The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Special Task Team on City Cleaning and Management in Abuja has arrested 3,000 commercial sex workers in the last 90 days…[they] have been handed over to the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) for prosecution and rehabilitation.  The task team also arrested 2,534 street hawkers and beggars…and…impounded 4,790 commercial motorcycles, 883 [motor tricycles], 645 unpainted commercial vehicles and 84 illegal commercial buses…

The More the Better (#135)

As is so often the case in articles about brothels, this one dips into grotesquery.  Even so, it makes a few interesting points about how brothels like Sheri’s Ranch are still thriving while other, less competitive ones are dying off.

Monsters 

A teenager in India was allegedly forced to have sex with his own mother in an effort to “cure” him of being gay, Gay Star News reports.  According to LGBT Collective, a gay rights group in Telangana…there are more and more reports of “corrective rapes” being carried out by members of the victims’ own families.  Often families will handpick a cousin to carry out the act…

An Example to the West (#331)

Nicaragua’s Supreme Court has made sex workers official representatives of the government and the judicial system.  A pilot group of 18 sex workers have been provided with technical and legal training to try to manage the most common conflicts that arise in their line of work…The vice president of the Nicaraguan Judicial System, Marvin Aguilar…[said] “We are the only country in the world that treats sex workers as ‘judicial facilitators’…We do not put them in prison for the sexual work.  There are countries close to Nicaragua in which sex workers are sought after like any other criminal so to be sent to prison.”

Naked Truth (#346) Much Loved

A prostitution-themed film from Morocco that had its premiere at…Cannes…in May has set off a furor there…the government last week banned the movie from theaters, the female stars received death threats and a male actor was attacked with a knife…Much Loved, by…Nabil Ayouch, includes scenes of prostitutes in Marrakesh partying, speaking raunchy Arabic and servicing wealthy Saudi clients…The movie became the subject of protests outside Parliament in Rabat and of heated discussions on social networks in Morocco and France.  Conservative Muslims view Much Loved as scandalous.  Moderate Moroccans are offended that the film’s dark portrayal of their country was shown at a prestigious international film festival…

Catastrophic Consequences (#407) 

MSP Jean Urquhart speaks up for sex workers again:

…When the highly successful tolerance zones for street prostitution were abolished in Edinburgh…sex workers reported a 95% increase in violence over 12 months…it is hard to understand how…threatening the key witnesses to trafficking and coercion – the clients – with a sex-crime record if they come forward would help with investigating and prosecuting [sex trafficking]…There is little evidence that the criminalisation of clients even achieves its proponents’ aim of reducing demand for sex work…What sex workers tell us would actually protect them would be to ensure their labour rights, including the right to work in a shared premises, to eliminate stigma and discrimination against sex workers, and to decriminalise sex work.

New Excuse

Elizabeth Brown on the War on Whores as replacement for War on Drugs:

…the “War on Sex Trafficking” that the federal government is waging will fail, just as the “War on Drugs” has failed…just as giving local police and prosecutors an urgent mandate to fight drugs led mostly to the prosecution of low-level drug users and dealers rather than big-time drug traffickers, the fight against sex trafficking—plus federal funding to do so, contingent on arrests and convictions—sets up perverse incentives to treat everyday prostitution as sex trafficking.  All over the country, we’re now seeing what would have been deemed “vice” work reframed as human trafficking stings.  And who gets swept up in these stings?  Willing, adult sex workers.  Their would-be patrons.  Petty pimps…under the new banner of human trafficking even relatively minor crimes related to sex work can come with serious felony status, a sex offender registry requirement and a mandatory minimum prison term…

Held Together With Lies (#447)

It’s difficult to believe that anyone could take this idiocy, which only starts with that “35.8 million slaves” nonsense, seriously.  Oliver Twist!  “Potential victims”!  Nail salons!  Unfortunately, all this foolishness is used to justify something very serious: mass incarceration.

…the Modern Slavery Act…[increased] maximum custodial sentences…from 14 years to life and offenders with prior convictions for very serious sexual or violent offences face automatic life sentences. “It gives law enforcement more flexibility, more powers”…Home Office minister Karen Bradley says the government has “succeeded” in putting modern slavery at the top of the agenda and is “determined to eradicate it”…

Traffic Circle (#542)

Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post “Fact Checker”, continues to hammer at “sex trafficking” myths:

…The sex trade is an underground industry, so on what basis would the revenues from the trafficking of children…in the United States be calculated so precisely…as $9.8 billion?…a…graphic posted on the Internet by Shared Hope International…says it…[came from] a 2005 International Labour Organization report…But that report contains no mention of a $9.8 billion figure for…the United States…only a broad estimate of about $13 billion…for “forced commercial sexual exploitation” for 36 industrialized countries (of which the U.S. represents about 30 percent of the population).  ILO officials say they have never given a breakdown by country…it…is…a fantasy, unconnected to any real data…One could certainly say that the underground sex trade in the United States likely is worth more than a billion dollars, but it would be a serious mistake to conflate that with human trafficking…

Welcome to the Future (#543)

trafficking is being used as a flimsy justification to stigmatise sex workers…Trying to stay as inconspicuous as possible means that these women are forced to take unnecessary risks with their safety, thereby increasing the likelihood that they will be victims of a violent crime.  When this point was raised to the Justice Committee by Laura Lee…she was wilfully humiliated, effectively called a pimp, threatened with legal action, told to have sex with disabled people for free and otherwise completely disregarded…

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The [Satanic] panic…was instigated and perpetuated mostly by groups of fundamentalist Christians who saw Satan in every heavy metal album, “Smurfs” episode, and Dungeons & Dragons game.  –  Radley Balko

The Biggest Whores

An Australian lawyer chides prohibitionist peers:

…If lawyers picked and chose…their clients…based on morality, then those individuals who fall on the wayside of public opinion would be completely without assistance…I was essentially being called morally bankrupt by two men who have acted for some of the most notorious criminals this state has come across.  They have also acted on behalf of alleged criminals who have been found not guilty.  If these men had subjected their clients to the same moral rigour as they have with sex workers, those clients may not have had the benefit of their legal services to begin with, and may have subsequently found erroneously guilty…when lawyers cast…moral aspersions on parts of society, something we are specifically trained not to do in ethics class, that does not leave much hope for the minority that are subject to those aspersions…

Do As I Say, Not As I Do 

The inevitable result of criminalization:

…Tucson [cop]…Shane Barrett said the department first received complaints about [an alleged brothel]…on Nov. 29, 2011.  The Pima County Attorney’s Office used Barrett’s affidavit as the basis for trying to seize $15,000 and a long list of property from the accused operators…Clarissa Lopez and Ulises Ruiz…[cops] finally obtained and served search warrants on Ruiz and Lopez’s home and their places of business…three years and two months after the initial reports…TPD is conducting an internal affairs investigation alongside the criminal investigation…It’s unclear whether the implicated officers are thought to be customers of the brothel or involved in some other way…

Held Together With Lies

Prohibitionists make up a bunch of big numbers, then multiply them to get an even bigger fake number.  SCIENCE!

…Prostitution in France brings in an annual turnover of €3.2 billion, a new study funded by the European Commission has found…France’s nearly 40,000 prostitutes…bring in an average gross total of €87,700 a year – much of which is sent abroad.  The authors of the report, who are campaigning for the abolition of prostitution, say that there is a serious tax evasion on these earning that totals €853 million a year.  They added that the total “cost” on society was €1.6 billion…The profession also proves costly for indirect social consequences, the study noted, such as imprisonment for pimping, health expenses, and addictions.  Maîtresse Gilda, spokeswoman from the French sex-workers union Strass said the figures in the study were “delusional”…

The idea that sex workers are to blame for the costs of criminalizing us is the exact moral equivalent of a bully who hits another child with his own hand while mocking, “Stop hitting yourself!”

First They Came for the Hookers…

“Sex trafficking” fetishists target strip clubs because they’re much more easily located than online escorts:

…OneHeart Ministry in Dayton…is…helping women who work at strip clubs who are at risk of being trafficked or are being trafficked…children ages 10 to 12 are being targeted for prostitution…“If you see something, say something,” she said…

Yes, these fanatics are un-ironically using one of the police state’s more notorious slogans.no trafficking shelter here

Gingerbread House

It’s satisfying when the mask of concern for “trafficking victims” slips:

Controversy continues to grow over the proposed safe house for male victims of sex trafficking in [North Carolina]…The group against the safe house said their major complaints were that no one told them it was going right behind their houses, and the fact the boys living there could run away and cause damage to their property. However, they remain adamant that they have nothing against the boys or mission…

NIMBY at its finest and most literal.

Checklist

It’s hard to imagine an article with a lower opinion of female intelligence and agency than this one:

…a…Florida…bill…requires public-awareness signs be placed at rest areas, turnpike service plazas, some emergency rooms, weigh stations, strip clubs and bodyworks businesses not operated by health-care professionals.  The signs will outline how to identify a human trafficking victim along with the phone number of the awareness center.  Signs could also be placed in restroom stalls, allowing victims to self-identify during a rare moment of privacy…a…second bill attacks the root cause of much human trafficking…without the demand by so-called johns, the pimps would be out of business.  To that end, the bill targets first-time offenders with a $5,000 fine, 100 hours of community service and completion of [“john school”]…That should serve as a stronger deterrent than current penalties…

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (#312)

Prostitution activities maybe [sic] permitted in several areas [in Jakarta, Indonesia] in an effort to control illegal prostitutions [sic] in rented rooms and apartments…In addition, allowing prostitutions in specific places was said to enable a check on activities to offer sex by underaged girls…Indonesia Ulama Council’s general head’s representative Ma’ruf Amin…[said] the proposal…deviated from Islamic teaching…

Theatrics 

But hey, they weren’t selling sex, so there’s no need for a crusade or anything:

An Ontario Human Rights Tribunal ruling has highlighted the vulnerability of temporary foreign workers in a case where two women worked in what the tribunal called a “sexually poisoned work environment.”  The women had their work permits revoked and were sent back to Mexico after resisting the sexual overtures of their employer at Presteve Foods…One woman was forced to perform sex acts under threat of being sent home and both were sexually harassed in other ways…

Dysphemisms Galore 

It’s kind of nice to see sex workers described as depraved temptresses rather than helpless victims:

…more terms [have emerged for an] escort [such as]…PSP — or personal service provider…prostitution is utilizing the power of the Internet to lure those who patronize it…The underground flesh trade has become more wired and clandestine…Ashley…moonlights as a PSP to support her obsession with material possessions…mostly…gadgets and signature dresses…she does this to…mask what was really behind her personality…the person she is…too ashamed for others to see…according to psychologist Dr. Estrella Tiongson-Magno, women dabble into prostitution because it is easy money…some men buy sex as a way to escape problems or uncomfortable emotions…however…since the pleasure is not lasting, men have to do it over and over again…Ronald Aguto…of the Cybercrime Division of NBI, said that self-advertised prostitution is rampant online…

Tyranny By Consensus (#346)

I’ll bet you thought opponents of condoms in porn were exaggerating:

California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health has issued a set of safety standards for all California porn production sets.  The 21-page standards presentation…goes into graphic detail about the safety precautions that are to be undertaken when adult video actors perform various acts.  Here’s one eye-opening detail from the document:  “the employer shall provide, at no cost to the employee, appropriate personal protective equipment such as, but not limited to, condoms, gloves for cleaning, and, if contact of the eyes with OPIM-STI is reasonably anticipated, eye protection.  Personal protective equipment will be considered “appropriate” only if it prevents blood or OPIM—STI* from passing through to or reaching the employee’s eyes, mouth, or other mucous membranes“…“OPIM—STI” means pre-ejaculate, ejaculate, semen, vaginal secretions…or…any other bodily fluid…in situations where it is difficult or impossible to differentiate between bodily fluids…

Yes, that means goggles.

Absolute Corruption (#449)

Radley Balko uses the case of Fran & Dan Keller to discuss the Satanic Panic in general:

…”[Texas’] highest criminal court…threw out the 1992 sexual assault convictions against Dan and Fran Keller but declined to find the former Austin day care owners innocent of crimes linked to a now-discredited belief that secret satanic [sic] cults were abusing day care children nationwide.  The Kellers spent more than 22 years in prison…The nine judges did not provide an explanation for why they rejected the Kellers’ innocence claim”…dozens of innocent people were sent to prison for crimes for which there was no evidence other than the coerced testimony of kids, and for which those same defendants would later be exonerated.  Here’s an excerpt from the concurring opinion of Judge Cheryl Johnson, who would have declared the couple innocent:  “This was a witch hunt from the beginning.  The allegations…were based on the testimony of a three-year-old child who…was in therapy for numerous psychological and behavioral issues“…That the highest court in Texas still can’t bring itself to declare the couple innocent, in spite of all that we know now, shows just how difficult it can be to undo the damage caused by a moral panic and junk science in the courtroom…One of the best treatments of the panic is the movie Witch Hunt, which focuses on Kern County, arguable the epicenter of the panic…

Bottleneck (#508)

Prohibitionists never understand how ridiculous they sound to normal people:

Edmonton should stop licensing body rub centres and crack down on their customers instead…four speakers argued…Kylee Nixon from the Friends and Families of McCauley Society called on the city to reduce demand for these services by focusing on johns.  This should include forcing customers to provide their names at the centres and arresting them when they break prostitution laws, she said…

Traffic Circle (#532)

The Washington Post continues to hammer at “sex trafficking” myths:

…many…lawmakers [have] repeatedly cited the statistic that “300,000” children were “at risk” of being sexually exploited.  Often, the source of the statistic was claimed to be the Justice Department…But it turns out that this is another one of those nonsense statistics, based on data so old that the original researcher even says it is no longer relevant.  It also does not have the imprimatur of the Justice Department. In recent months, The Fact Checker has exposed a series of dubious factoids, each of which are endlessly repeated by politicians and, even more irresponsibly, by the media…In 2008, Michelle Stranksy and David Finkelhor of the respected Crimes against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire wrote a report explaining the problems with the Estes/Weiner estimate, as well as other claims about the extent of the juvenile prostitution.  “PLEASE DO NOT CITE THESE NUMBERS,” the report pleaded…how did such an out-of-date guesstimate get touted as a current “Justice Department” figure?…in 2010, the Office of Justice Programs published an article in its Juvenile Justice Bulletin that cited the Estes/Weiner estimate…But the bulletin makes clear that this is only an opinion article and it does not express the official position of the Justice Department.  A Justice Department spokeswoman confirmed that…“No reliable national estimate exists of the incidence or prevalence of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States”…[politicians] should be ashamed of citing a figure that is so out of date and discredited…All lawmakers should stop using it and post prominent corrections of their statements on their Web sites…

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To force through a bad law you seize on a convenient…victim, and declare that its sufferings trump all the traditions and rights of free citizenship.  –  Lloyd Evans

The Red Umbrella Hardeep Sandhu

A man who raped a prostitute for TWO HOURS after knocking her unconscious with a brick has been jailed for 15 years.  Hardeep Sandhu, 39, beat his victim with a brick until she passed out and then repeatedly raped her for two hours as she went in and out of consciousness.  She suffered multiple injuries to her head, face, arms and hands during the prolonged attack in a garden near Hartington Street in Derby…

Size Matters

This ain’t gonna work, y’all:

Last fall, The Social Club of Nashville left its current quarters for an isolated office park a few miles away.  Owners spent $750,000 on the building and began renovations fit for “a private club for the enjoyment” of sexual activity.  But when neighbors figured out the nature of club members’ intended socializing, they packed the city council in support of a zoning change which would prevent The Social Club from opening…So…it will now open as the United Fellowship Center, a house of unorthodox religious worship.  The dance floor is now a “sanctuary.”  The dungeon is now a choir room.  And dozens of small, private spaces have been designated “prayer rooms.”  The United Fellowship Center has even gotten a city permit to meet as a church…

Stand-Up Guys 

We need a LOT more men to write like this rather than licking neofeminist boots:

What strikes men about feminism’s approach to the sex trade is that it relies on a simplistic dichotomy: victims/abusers.  Female victims…and male abusers…Feminists like to promote the “predator myth”…which argues that porn and prostitution…encourage men to attack women.  However, the most basic statistic overturns this theory.  How many men use porn?  All men.  How many men assault women?  Few men…I’ve never seen a single erotic scenario featuring coerced or battered women…the idea that porn converts men into rapists…sends…the individual [sex worker]…the message…”Dressed like that you’re asking for it”.  Quite a familiar line.  But not often heard from women’s rights campaigners…the law’s supporters…say [it] is part of the war against slavery…Trafficked people…pick lettuces, but we don’t ban salad.  They hoover carpets, but we don’t outlaw rugs and vacuum cleaners.  They care for children, but should we all sterilise ourselves?…

The Scarlet Letter (#19)

Greece’s government announced…the abolition of a controversial health and hygiene regulation that allowed authorities to publish the details, including photographs, of workers that had tested HIV positive.  This is the second time the regulation has been abolished since its first introduction in 2012…the law led to the publication of women’s photographs in the press, arrested as prostitutes, as a means to “protect” public health.  Its implementation had led to a storm of protests and reactions over the public humiliation of the women involved, as well as for trampling their fundamental rights and the patient-doctor confidentiality…

The Widening Gyre 

This is extra-stupid and dishonest even by prohibitionist standards:

Women rent their bodies as a choice: a myth. Pornography is a harmless spectator sport: a lie. Both enable slavery, often with teenagers plucked from American neighborhoods. Sex trafficking is a $32 billion dollar industry worldwide. That only marginalized women fall prey is another false assumption…Pimps will recruit anyone, and white girls are more profitable,” said Audrey Morrissey…of My Life, My Choice…American culture lifts up female independence, which includes personal sexual choices…Many argue that stripping, for example, is a way to pay for college or to support a family. Fact: only 5 percent of female sex workers make and keep their money. The rest are prostituted through force and coercion in an industry led by men…

The Day of the Dead (#44) we don't buy it

China is cracking down on exotic dancers at funerals, the Ministry of Culture said April 23.  Although such entertainment is not widespread, strippers are thought to attract more people to a funeral, which is a sign of respect for the dead. Two recent cases “have been punished”…

The Public Eye (#324)

Another good profile of my friend Laura Lee:

Dubliner Laura Lee has the self-assurance of someone who has packed several lifetimes into her 40 years.  After a couple of cul-de-sacs in law and banking, Lee has returned to the job that funded her first law degree: sex work…“I’m not going to say, ‘I love my job’.  I don’t know any of my friends who leap out of bed on Monday morning and go, ‘Yes, work!’ ” she says.  “But I do choose to do it.  I enjoy the freedom is gives me in terms of managing my finances, spending time with my family and studying”…

Traffic Circle

As I predicted, articles questioning “sex trafficking” are now becoming more common in mainstream media:

…the Global Slavery Index (GSI), which received fawning publicity, including in The Washington Post….estimated that there were 29.8 million people in “modern slavery” around the world.  In November 2014, the GSI unveiled what it described as a more precise estimate: 35.8 million people.  That’s an increase of 6 million people!  What’s going on here?…there is a large gulf between the estimates of tens of millions of victims and the actual number of identified “survivors” — 44,000 at last count.  (This number is also a bit dubious)…the GSI figure has come under attack from other researchers for having a murky, inconsistent and questionable methodology…Clearly there is a problem with the numbers when the U.S. government cites a figure of 20 million and a well-funded, media-savvy organization touts a figure of “slaves” that is almost twice as high.  Media organizations are complicit in fostering misperceptions by often citing these figures as established fact, without even an explanation or examination of the methodology…these Pinocchios are for all-too-credulous acceptance of them…

Business As Usual

On 30 January, a mesmerizing report was launched at the Asia-Pacific Intergovernmental Meeting on HIV in Bangkok:  The Right(s) Evidence—Sex Work, Violence And HIV In Asia: A Multi-Country Qualitative Study.  It is a ground-breaking piece of work for several reasons.  It involved an unusual collaboration among governments, sex-worker organizations, communities, UN agencies, and regional agencies in Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal and Sri Lanka.  It is full of fascinating insights into the lives of women, men and transgender people in the sex industry.  It finds compelling evidence of widespread violence…and…points to a culture of impunity among the police, doctors, and other powerful players that in turn increases the threats of violence, trauma, disease and despair among sex workers, and by extension their families, communities, and customers…you’ve never heard of it…[because] it was greeted with “absolute and total silence”…the media is scared to touch it [because] the data is very clearly saying that the police are the biggest violators…

Worse Than I Thought (#531)

“…even if they appear to have been staked and beheaded“:

With an agreement now reached on (not) funding abortions for trafficking victims, the U.S. Senate voted unanimously…to pass the “Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act” (JVTA)…with little fanfare or discussion, Senators tacked on a late amendment to the legislation which radically alters the rules for Internet publishers.  Known as the “Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation” (SAVE) Act, the change is vehemently opposed by a broad coalition of free speech, web publishing, and civil liberties advocates.  If the SAVE amendment ultimately passes…it would go against decades of precedent related to web publishers and user-generated content.  In general, the owners of websites and online publications cannot be held criminally liable for the things that random people post. Under the new rules, however, these entities could be charged as sex traffickers if it turns out any trafficking victims are advertised on the site.  Sponsors have specifically stated that their intent is to shut down, or at least seriously cripple…Backpage.com…

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Sex work is neither contagious nor a pathology.  –  Eva Gantz

Whores and Wives

I’m usually a very empathetic person, but I just can’t feel anything but pity for women who insist on willfully misunderstanding male sexuality, the nature of intimacy and the escort-client relationship despite ample materials that explain these online.  And you know what?  If this kind of maudlin schlock weren’t used to justify state violence while far-more-dangerous amateur cheating gets a free pass, I still might even manage to dredge up a teacupful of sympathy:

Contrary to popular belief, they come from all walks of life…Nor are they all lonely men seeking solace; many have partners and are in long-term relationships or marriages…Numerous academic studies and articles have explored the demographics of punters and sex workers, the horrors of trafficking, and the merits or otherwise of decriminalising prostitution.  But almost no attention has been paid to the partners of men who visit prostitutes…a growing number of…women…who discover their partner has been sleeping with prostitutes…are left feeling horribly isolated, with nowhere to turn…most of the men I spoke to…claimed feelings of undiminished love [for their wives].  Understandably, such hollow declarations neither reassured the women, nor repaired their sense of shame, grief and rejection.  Because there can be little as shocking as discovering that your trusted partner is paying for sex behind your back…

Lack of Evidence

Wild Guessing

Another marketing firm hard at work creating bogus prohibitionist “studies”:

…the NSPCC and ChildLine released the results of a survey suggesting that a tenth of 12- to 13-year-olds fear they are “addicted” to pornography.  Within days, the government had announced a new policy on internet restriction, justified in part by these statistics.  However, the NSPCC has been called out over the fact that these claims are alarmingly flimsy…The company that carried out the NSPCC-commissioned survey is a group called OnePoll, which specialises in generating “news angles and exposure for your brand”.  OnePoll is part of South West News Service (SWNS), a media group that offers “heartbreaking, random and shocking” content.  OnePoll was behind a recent survey revealing that “20% of people believe that smoking has improved their career opportunities”.  This one was commissioned by an E-cigarette company.  A poll commissioned during National Ferry Fortnight for Discover Ferries – which had just “invested heavily in improved seating” – revealed that travellers really hate aircraft seats.  You get the picture…

Don’t Take My Word For It

I realize one can’t expect quality journalism from YourTango, but this article entitled “I Went Undercover To See If A Girl Could Get Happy Ending Massage” is painfully dumb; from the author’s describing massage parlors as “a mixture of truth and urban legend that captivates male imaginations” [WTF?] to the eminently-predictable pomposity of licensed masseuses in the comment thread, the whole thing is a kiddie-train wreck.  Proceed at your own risk.

Broken Record 

Even the most ridiculous iterations of “gypsy whore” myth now contain disclaimers way down at the bottom:

With the biggest convention ever to hit Nashville — more than 70,000 members of the National Rifle Association are here this weekend for their annual meeting — law enforcement officials have prepared for what some see as the scourge of such large, male-dominated gatherings…Little data exists on the prevalence of trafficking.  Law enforcement often fails to categorize prostitutes who are voluntarily committing crimes separately from individuals who are being trafficked, under the duress of handlers.  As such, experts say there is little reliable data to prove or disprove that trafficking has spiked during large conventions or sports gatherings…

Note that the reporter’s tiny mind cannot conceive of pragmatic sex as being other than a “crime”, whether compelled or voluntary.

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (#312) APNSW anti-sweatshop logo

If people’s minds weren’t befuddled by prohibitionist idiocy, they wouldn’t be so confused by wholly predictable outcomes like this:

…Sex Workers…[in Zambia] show…no desire to abandon their…trade saying it gives them quick money to sustain their welfare as opposed to skills such as tailoring which take long for them to earn money…Agness Ng’andu…explained that her organisation had invested heavily in…sewing machines which are presently not being utilised…

Legal Is As Legal Does (#337)

Sex work is as legal in Christchurch as anywhere in New Zealand, but some would love it to be otherwise:

Christchurch street sex workers say not having access to basic toilet facilities while working makes them feel like “scum”.  Toilets near Manchester St have long been a contentious subject…plans [to install some] were thwarted by nearby residents…The nearest are…locked at night.  Women have to ask clients to drop them at toilets at service stations, or go behind bushes.  Auckland University…professor…Tracey McIntosh said the lack of facilities reinforced to sex workers that they are “seen as a blight on the city scape”…

Sex Rays

Tech and sex work have an uneasy relationship that traces back through decades…Sex work is seen as something to be kept as far away from women in tech as possible…I recently attended a meetup for women in digital currency…a woman [there]…told me casually, as if it were the most obvious conclusion in the world, “the underlying reason for gender discrimination in tech is porn.  That’s the root of it all.”  My face must have given me away, because she prompted, “don’t you agree?”  No.  No, I don’t agree in the slightest.  For one, the assessment reduces the incredibly complex issues of meritocracy, privilege, and misogyny into an oversimplified sound bite.  This view is every bit as reactionary as a conservative desire to regulate female sexuality…Even just the proximity of association with sex workers is too much to be borne…the…argument rests on the idea that if women in tech are viewed even in the same space as porn performers men will instantly see them as porn stars, too.  Not only does this insult the intelligence of men, but it also furthers the idea of sex work as contagion.  “Don’t get too close, or it might rub off on you”…

Moving Pictures

Maybe it’s just my peculiar sense of humor, but I find this weird mixture of lurid “sex trafficking” fantasy and technical-magazine writing terribly funny:

…More than three million women and children are slaves today.  In the dramatic narrative film, Don’t Look Away, the subject of sex trafficking—modern day slavery—is addressed head on.  Exploring the alltoocommon [sic] story of a young woman enslaved through tactics exploiting social networks, Don’t Look Away exposes the fertile hunting ground stalked by predators in the human trafficking trade…Don’t Look Away was filmed on location in Central Florida…The company consisted of over 20 crew members, 9 principal cast members and dozens of extras…Don’t Look Away was shot by…Michael Minock with the new VariCam 35 4K camera/recorder, provided by Panasonic…“We have an amazing opportunity to use our gifts and passions to forward the fight on sex trafficking,” said producer/writer/law student, Alex Couch…“If we can start caring for the victims more, we will be better equipped in our efforts to punish the real perpetrators of this horrific crime.”  Most of the film’s grip and lighting gear was generously provided by The Art Institute of Jacksonville…The color grading is being done by Daniel Parker at Myjive in Charlotte, NC…

Not Your Rescue Project (#526) 

Sydney sex worker Tilly Lawless posted a photo of herself smiling on Instagram with the hashtag #facesofprositution…[in] response to an article on the…website Mamamia…[which] presented images of bruised, emaciated, drug-addicted sex workers…in the days that followed sex workers from all over the world shared photos of themselves under the hashtag—in some cases outing themselves as sex workers for the first time—to protest against the stereotype that sex workers are intrinsically victims who need saving…

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When two consenting adults have sex behind closed doors and if money changes hands then that is none of the state’s business.  –  Laura Lee

Do As I Say, Not As I Do 

Police in eastern India were left red-faced when a raid on a sex district discovered four of their own along with a convicted murderer whom they were supposed to be…transporting…to hospital for a check-up…

Who Watches the Watchmen?

I’m really happy to see the media slowly growing more skeptical of ludicrous statistical claims:

…[Several news sources claimed that] “According to the FBI’s latest study, more than 58,000 kids were abducted by non-relatives in one year”…The number is derived from data collected between 1997 and 1999, mainly from a telephone survey in 1999…these numbers come from an era that predates the wide use of mobile phones, which allow parents to keep much closer track of their children…this is an estimate, based on a survey, not based on actual incidents…Two key components of the 58,000 figure are children who are reported missing by their caretakers or children who were missed by the caretaker for at least an hour but no report was filed…These incidents may meet a legal definition of “abduction” but generally do not conform to the public’s understanding of an abduction…The number of stereotypical kidnappings is significantly smaller: 115…the most recent (2014) FBI data on abductions by a stranger in a single year is 332…

Down Under

A Porirua man is facing two rare charges of failing to use a condom during sex with a prostitute.  The safe-sex law is thought to have been applied only about seven times since the Prostitution Reform Act was passed in 2003…Before prostitution was decriminalised, sex workers were not able to complain about clients not wanting to use condoms…[The man] said he knew the prostitute would not have consented to his taking the condom off, so he did it without her knowledge…

Tyranny By Consensus

I certainly hope you saw this coming:

Since Los Angeles County passed a 2012 law requiring all male porn performers to wear condoms, some Californians have been trying to extend the requirement throughout the state.  Legislation to this effect failed last summer, but activists are now seeking to put the matter before voters in 2016…If…Michael Weinstein gets his way, he could be subsidized by the state to sit around reviewing porn.  Under the proposed condom measure…”Weinstein would be placed in charge of monitoring any adult film produced in California to determine if condoms were used…If a condom wasn’t readily apparent in each scene, Weinstein would be deputized by the Attorney General to review the raw footage of the production, and file lawsuits against anyone involved in the production, including but not limited to the producers, distributors, agents, and anyone with a demonstrable ‘financial interest’ in the production”…To remove Weinstein from this role would require a majority vote from both houses of the state Legislature…

Under Every Bed dopedopedope

Small towns can’t credibly claim to be “sex trafficking hubs”, so they call themselves “stops” instead:

Hundreds of social workers, police officers, clinicians and concerned locals gathered…to learn about the growth of…sex trafficking in southeastern Wisconsin…the Human Trafficking Forum…explored the causes and symptoms of what they call “modern-day slavery”…Every 10 minutes, a woman or child is trafficked in the U.S, resulting in more than 15,000 victims each year*.  An official with the Department of Homeland Security…described Kenosha as a “stopping spot” between Chicago and Milwaukee…[a cop bloviated that] “Twelve and 13-year-olds are the primary target, that’s middle schoolers.  We need to get the word out to parents and teachers”…

Canadian cops are just as absurd:

…Is there human trafficking in Guelph [Ontario, population 121,668]?  “Absolutely”…[lied cop Patty] Pronovost…girls as young as 12 are exploited by pimps…classified ad sites like Backpage…are popular among prostitutes and pimps…The average age of a girl entering the sex trade is 14.  On average, they would see 10 to 15 customers each day, but 30 in one day is not uncommon…

I wish 30 clients a day really were “not uncommon”; if that were true my bank account wouldn’t be in the sorry shape it’s in.

*15,000/year = 1.7/hour = 1/35 minutes ≠ 1/10 minutes.

Challenge

My friend Laura Lee does it again:

A sex worker is using European human rights legislation to try to overturn a new law in Northern Ireland that makes it illegal to pay for prostitutes.  Dublin-born law graduate Laura Lee is launching an unprecedented legal challenge that could go all the way to Strasbourg, against a human trafficking bill which includes banning the payment for sex among consenting adults…

Traffic Jam (#439)

Nearly two years ago, Monica Jones was…arrested for prostitution during a massive police sweep.  Now, she’s in Geneva, Switzerland, taking her case to the United Nations.  The arrest in May 2013 was not the first time the cops had harassed Jones, and she fought back, successfully challenging the charges in court while rising to become an outspoken activist and a widely recognized human rights advocate.  Beating her own charges was not enough for Jones, and now she is using her story to challenge the United States’ prostitution policies on the global stage.  The UN Human Rights Council is preparing its quadrennial review of the US’s human rights record in May, and this week Jones and advocates from across the world are lobbying the council’s member countries on policy recommendations…

The Last Shall Be First (#513)

A bill that would ban transgender people from using their preferred public bathrooms has now…been amended to make an exception for some transgender people who have legally changed their gender on government documentation.  In essence, it means transgender people would need to have their papers on them to pee…[the bill’s sponsor]  claims that the ordinance would prevent male sex offenders and other perverted, unsavory characters from entering women’s bathrooms and that it’s a matter of public safety.  Of course…such incidents…are almost unheard of in other states and municipalities that have passed protections for transgender individuals…

The Pro-Rape Coalition (#523) Cheetahs

The fact that money is tight and online porn free couldn’t possibly have anything to do with this; it must be video games!

Strip clubs, with flashy signs advertising nude dancers, once had a strong footing in downtown centres across Canada.  But…an adult industry insider says strip clubs are an endangered species being killed off by lack of demand…Tim Lambrinos…[said]  “It seems that young Canadian males are more distracted with other types of interests — Game Boys, plugging in things and so on”…Toronto had 63 strip clubs a decade ago, now it only has 14.  Lambrinos admits licensed clubs are plagued with the perception they are tied to crime and unsavoury characters, but…that doesn’t match with the reality.  “In terms of crime, even public complaints, the licensed adult entertainment clubs were the bottom of the list…There were nail salons and hair salons and barber shops, restaurants that got far more complaints”…

Worse Than I Thought (#523)

A new “sex trafficking” law is so bad (HOW BAD IS IT?) that at least one “anti-trafficking” NGO has denounced it:

Looking to criminalize our way out of something hasn’t worked in any other issue and won’t work here…Services shouldn’t have to push victims to cooperate with law enforcement in order to receive funding…We need to be removing children from the judicial system, not increasing their involvement…being a trafficker is a specific crime and not just a catch-all for everyone who did something wrong to a child…This bill buys into a sensationalized presentation of a complex issue, to which the criminal justice system is somehow the solution…

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The text of Eden folded seamlessly into the curriculum of U.S.-based anti-sex trafficking efforts with its images of taped mouths, chained wrists risen toward the heavens, “in our own backyard” and “stolen innocence” messages, and the idea that the average age of sex trafficked girls in the U.S. is age 13.  –   Kari Lerum

A Tale That Grew in the Telling

The only interesting thing about this tired rehash is that its fake numbers aren’t nearly as absurd as usual:

In 2010, there were 50,000 victims of human trafficking identified, with many more still being forced to…sell sex. But even the experts admit, the number of victims is difficult to quantify and largely unknown…Of…eight human trafficking cases, [Louisiana] prosecutors…[managed to win] only one [conviction]…

Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (#134)

One of the women who is suing the police after discovering that her former boyfriend was an undercover…[cop] has found a tracking device in her car…The woman – known as Lily – had a two-year relationship with Mark Kennedy without knowing his real identity.  She is part of a group of women taking legal action against the police for the emotional trauma they suffered after forming intimate relationships with men who were later revealed to be spies…the German newspaper Die Tageszeitung reported that a tracking device – wrapped in tape – was found near a wheel of her car…while she was at a conference…in Spain to discuss surveillance and censorship…

Profit from Panic 

The rescue industry is getting so successful it now has mergers and acquisitions:  “The Elizabeth Smart Foundation and Operation Underground Railroad have announced that they will now be working hand-in-hand in a joint effort to save children by merging the two organizations…

Worse Than I Thought

The [Utah] Legislature passed a bill…that would clarify that a person is guilty of prostitution not only when engaging in sexual activity with another for money but also for trade of goods…

Profound Ignorance 

Another astonishingly-stupid “study” produces predictably-stupid results:

Researchers with Mount Royal University and The Hindsight Group…[released] findings from a survey of men who were ordered to attend…“John schools”…66%…watched online pornography by the age of 15…67%…viewed online sites before venturing out to purchase sexual encounters…58%…said the Internet has made it more difficult for them to quit paying for sex…they’ve laid the groundwork for further investigation into prevention models that curb the demand for sex trade workers…

monkeysFor those who know nothing about the social sciences, here are a couple of hints: a “captive audience” is going to produce badly skewed results, and assuming the conclusion before the data is even recorded isn’t very likely to result in anything resembling actual data.

Diary of a Sad Man

In the coming weeks, the UK will see what must be a legal first – someone suing for libel over claims that they are not a former prostitute.  The development has come in the legal drama surrounding Dr Brooke Magnanti, who…[wrote] under the nom de plume “Belle de Jour” about her secret life as a £300-an-hour call girl, and her ex-lover Owen Morris…The adventures of Belle de Jour spawned the long-running TV series Secret Diary of a Call Girl, starring Billie Piper.  But in 2013, Morris – known as “The Boy” in Magnanti’s book The Intimate Adventures of a Call Girl– claimed she had lied about her history as an escort and sued for defamation and breach of privacy.  Morris claims that…his career has been damaged by the…revelation of her true identity…Magnanti is now counter-suing.  She claims that Morris’ assertions that she was never a prostitute are defamatory to her reputation…

Schadenfreude (#429) 

An in-depth analysis of how Eden and its ilk harm sex workers:

Does it matter when popular stories about “sex trafficking” are based on half-truths, junk science, and/or religious beliefs?…it is critical that we face the consequences of stories told in the name of rescuing girls and women…many individuals still derive most of their knowledge about human trafficking from sensationalistic media stories about so-called “sex trafficking….Hollywood action-adventure characterizations of victims and villains are deployed; complex structural problems are squeezed into personal morality tales; and the stories are then used by anti-sex work politicians and activists to justify heightened forms of criminal punishment.  While the stories may have popular appeal, evidence suggests that more criminalization actually hurts all sex workers across the continuum of privilege and oppression…

An Example To the West (#504)

A campaign by Thai authorities to crack down on human trafficking has led to the arrests…of…as many as 150 refugees and asylum seeker…Pakistan-based media and some Christian groups say the number may be as many as several hundred.  Among those arrested were people fleeing religious persecution and sectarian violence in Pakistan…

The Mote and the Beam (#510)

It’s interesting to compare coverage of the same “sex trafficking” story from two different media outlets. The Christian Science Monitor tells us:

…the women of the Senate…decided to take on the “despicable, vile issue of human trafficking”…Sex trafficking crosses party lines…the House passed a dozen, bipartisan anti-trafficking bills…about 300,000 American children are at risk of being trafficked…it can happen to anyone.  The average age is 11 to 14 years old…[cop] Michael Ferjak…[denied the agency of adult women and said] “We must…stop thinking that a 14-year-old can actually [think]”…

While in Reason, Noah Berlatsky writes:

According to the logic of many lawmakers, those engaged in prostitution are always victims.  And once you have victims, you need victimizers—people who can be heroically beaten back by courageous law enforcement personnel.  Generally, the victimizers are identified as sex traffickers or pimps.  But a bill from Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) targets another popular bete noire:  classified advertisers…the hope seems to be that negative publicity will cause the site’s owners to shutter Backpage, or at least its “adult” listings section…Kirk’s website throws around numerous frightening and dubious statistics, such as a claim that 300,000 children are “at risk of being trafficked for sex in the United States” every year…The implication, of course, is that the Internet makes prostitution more dangerous and exploitive.  But is it really less safe for women to advertise online than (as one obvious alternative) to work on the street?…

Profound Mental Disabilities (#512) Alissa Afonina

Though the court’s statements and the media coverage of the story both came across as “doing sex work is evidence of brain damage”, Alissa Afonina doesn’t see it that way:

My brain injury is supported by far more than just the sexual symptoms, which is all the media decided to focus on…I have brain scans, countless assessments and [a] history of behavior that is totally congruent with my type of brain injury…I worked…because making that amount of money felt good and I wanted to save as much as I could…

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