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Posts Tagged ‘Book Reviews’

A while back my friend Allena Gabosch asked me to write an essay for a new collection called Sex Positive Now, and a few days ago I received a press release for the book with the request that I share it.  So without further ado:

Allena Gabosch and Jeremy Shub have written Sex Positive Now , a book about sex-positivity.  The book contains essays and interviews by and with sex positive celebrities, activists and educators along with additional content written by Allena and Jeremy.  The book covers topics including the History of Sex-Positive Culture , Sex Negativity, Cultural Taboos about Porn and Sex Work, Health and Emotions, Intimacy, Relationships, Polyamory, Kink, Tantra/Sacred/Taoism, Consent, and Community.  Our goal is to support the change of cultural norms around sexuality and relationships so people have the freedom and permission to be the sexual beings they already are.  Pleasure and joy are vital to our wellbeing and sexual shame is a thing of the past.  People are celebrated for their sexuality, gender, who or how they love.  Consensual sexuality in all of its forms is healthy and life affirming.  People can make conscious choices about their sexuality and relationships.  A few of our 55 contributors include Annie Sprinkle, Janet Hardy, Race Bannon, Susie Bright, Buck Angel and Cunning Minx.  If you want to review and promote the book, free ebooks will be available for review.  You can purchase the book at sexpositivenow.com and the book launch will be in Melbourne and Seattle on 28th Oct.

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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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Prohibitionists are fond of claiming that sex worker rights advocates are part of a wealthy, connected and powerful “pimp lobby” from which we draw virtually-unlimited funds; this is not only an outrageous lie, it’s an incredibly hypocritical one.  In truth, prohibitionists receive oceans of funding from governments invested in growing the police state, private corporations who want to look “moral”,  religious groups who want to impose their ideas of morality on everyone, billionaire sociopaths with axes to grind, and well-meaning but ignorant people who believe the “sex trafficking” masturbatory fantasies vomited out by the prohibitionists; advocates for sex workers, on the other hand, are largely self-financed and therefore operating at a loss all the time.  So when we offer products for sale, please understand that you’re not just getting a good book or a fun product, but also helping out those who tirelessly fight for the rights of those whom society has decided do not deserve them.  Here are some things you can currently purchase which will genuinely help some of the most important and powerful voices in our movement:

First, reader Deviant Ollam came up with these clever T-shirts for an imaginary McNeill/Matisse presidential campaign; they’re an excellent conversation starter and 100% of the profits go to o SWOP Behind Bars, which works to help incarcerated sex workers.  If everyone who reads this buys one, just imagine how many women, mostly from very disadvantaged circumstances, will be helped!

Next, Dr. Laura Agustín, author of the blog The Naked Anthropologist and Sex at the Margins, the seminal work on “sex trafficking” hysteria (in which she coined the term “rescue industry”), has written The Three-Headed Dog, a novel dramatizing the problems faced by migrants.  It’s another way of introducing readers to the issues the “sex trafficking” paradigm attempts to paper over, which Dr. Agustín has studied for over 20 years and understands in a way very few others do.

Last but certainly not least, Dr. Brooke Magnanti has re-released her three Belle de Jour books, Secret Diary of a London Call GirlFurther Adventures of a London Call Girl, and London Call Girl:  Playing the Game, in new Kindle editions.  You can buy all three of these blockbuster novels for the cost of a modest meal, and start reading them tonight!  Find out why Brooke became famous, and show some love for a woman who’s done more than almost any other to draw attention to the movement.

Please buy at least one of these, or be a real ally and get them all!  I think I can safely speak for all the ladies I’ve mentioned in today’s column in saying we’re very grateful for your patronage.

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Victimless crime creates the surveillance state.  –  Wendy McElroy

Amazingly Stupid Statements

License to Rape

At least the European media aren’t afraid to apply the word “rape” to the actions of rapist cops:

Hundreds of people took to the streets of a Paris suburb…to denounce police brutality, after a 22-year-old black man was…sodomised with a baton during an arrest last week…One [cop] was charged…with rape, while three others were charged with assault…The man suffered severe anal injuries which required surgery and was also treated for damage to the head and face…The severity of his injuries led a doctor to declare him unfit to work for 60 days…[cops] deny the [obvious evidence] and [pretend] they were targeting lookouts for drug dealers…

Decentralization

Wendy McElroy on bitcoin and consensual crime:

…There are people who use bitcoin to buy “immoral goods” (whatever that means) just as there are people who use cash to do so.  As long as the participants are consenting adults, that’s their business.  Not yours, not mine.  The state is the one who interjects violence and harm when it points a gun at peaceful adults…The attack on bitcoin will be framed…as a way to protect vulnerable and misguided individuals who use their own bodies in “unacceptable” ways.  Or it will unfold as a campaign of resentment against those individuals who do not pay their so-called “fair share” toward maintaining the surveillance state.  A moral attack must be met with moral indignation, not an apology…

Broken Record 

How fetishists are trying to back away from the thoroughly-debunked “Super Bowl sex trafficking” trope without abandoning the larger “gypsy whore” myth:

While there was a considerable increase in the number of [sex work] ads surrounding the Super Bowl, other events like a Memorial Day motorcycle rally in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and various industry conferences had a bigger impact than expected, suggesting that resources devoted to combating the problem of forced prostitution have been misdirected….[“sex trafficking” fetishists fantasize] that traffickers and pimps use online classified services like Backpage.com to advertise their victim’s sexual services…[pigs bizarrely fantasize that] words like “young” and “no pimps” can be indicators that the person in the photo is a trafficking victim…

Imaginary Evils

Since there are virtually no actual “sex trafficking” cases in the UK despite massive, multi-million-pound crusades to discover them, cops keep themselves busy with fantasies of “pimps” lurking behind every ordinary escort ad:

West Midlands Police has confirmed they now [waste] a substantial part of their [time] in [fantasizing about] sex trafficking victims in the region…[based on propaganda from] The Salvation Army…The content of profiles leads to more suspicion…A lot of the prostitutes also claim to be ‘independent’…But [since we know women are too stupid to plan travel or get pictures taken] their profile pictures…[and] the fact they move around the country would…allude to a larger, more organised, illegal operation…

Cops and Robbers

These are the kind of people who call us “bad” women:

…a group of sex workers…operate from one of three houses [in suburban Johannesburg] which were attacked by [a mob which]…marched to their house on [February 5th] and tossed their belongings outside before torching them.  Beds‚ bedding‚ plasma TV sets‚ music systems‚ clothes and money were some of the things that the girls lost in the [unprovoked attack which] locals [rationalized as taking] a stand against what they say are drug dens and brothels run by Nigerian nationals…

Guinea Pigs (#630) 

Maker of fascist surveillance software uses Backpage as a prop for self-fellation:

Marinus Analytics LLC has joined DeliverFund’s International Human Trafficking Analysis Center (iHTAC), a consortium of organizations who’ve partnered to [come up with more ways to profit from hysteria over]…human trafficking…The combined capabilities of Marinus Analytic’s Traffic Jam and DeliverFund’s uniquely qualified personnel allowed [pigs]…to continue [oppressing people] without disruption during the recent Backpage.com’s closure of its adult ads section…

To Molest and Rape child-molester-cop-chris-wilbanks

Lying, tricking someone into doing something wrong, threatening harm to compel behavior…gee, I wonder where he learned to act this way?

A [South Carolina cop] was arrested after federal investigators say that he coerced an 11-year-old girl into sending him a nude picture, then told her to send more naked photographs or he would show the first one to others…Chris Wilbanks…is charged with production of child pornography…[he] posed as a 14-year-old boy nicknamed “Redneck Rick” on social media and talked to the girl, who said she was 12…the girl sent about a dozen pornographic images to Wilbanks and was crying in many of them…

Challenge (#677)

What could be more Orwellian than referring to groups trying to take away women’s rights as “women’s rights groups”?

Two women’s rights organisations are to feature in a High Court challenge to a new law making it illegal for men to pay for sex in Northern Ireland…Space International, a [prohibitionist] group [backed by the nuns who abused women in the infamous Magdalene laundries], and Equality Now, [a group led by a former prosecutor who resigned in disgrace after railroading two innocent black men for rape,] have been granted intervener status in proceedings brought by sex worker Laura Lee…amendments to the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Act breach [sex workers’] human rights to privacy and freedom from discrimination.  Northern Ireland is currently the only UK region to make the purchase of sex a criminal offence…

The Naked Anthropologist (#701) 

Noah Berlatsky reviews Laura Agustín’s new book:

Laura Agustín’s novel The Three-Headed Dog…argues that the notion of innocent young girls exploited, waiting to be rescued by daredevil Kristofs, is a pernicious myth.  People who cross borders generally do so to find a better life.  They end up doing sex work because it can sometimes be the best option available, especially given prejudiced restrictions placed on immigrant entry and employment…Immigrants are often victimized, but they aren’t solely victims…The Three-Headed Dog doesn’t have an exciting rescue narrative…[it shows] exploitation [as]…a fact of life, a constant backdrop too ubiquitous to be felled with a single punch or raid…

The War Goes On 

We have so many more vocal allies now than we did when I started blogging seven years ago!

Last month, authoritarians…forced Backpage, the world’s second-biggest classified-ads website, to shut down its adult section.  A motley crew of elected officials at all levels of government…bullied Backpage and its executives into getting rid of it, supposedly because they were concerned about people being “sex trafficked”…Of course, as Reason’s Elizabeth Nolan Brown points out, Backpage was already cooperating with law enforcement…something that won them numerous accolades from state and federal cops.  Purely with respect to fighting crime, the government’s victory was somewhere between empty and actively harmful…What’s more, politicians and law enforcement conflate sex trafficking with voluntary prostitution. As…Maggie McNeill has been arguing for years, there are no good data to suggest anything but a tiny fraction of sex workers are trafficked…a lot of prostitutes…used Backpage’s adult section, and the government’s self-indulgent crackdown put their livelihoods at risk…

I Swear To God (#708)

Michelle Chen on how the US tests oppressive tactics abroad before inflicting them domestically:

One of the first policy measures taken by Donald Trump…was reinstating and expanding a piece of presidential policy known as the “Global Gag Rule.”  The policy bars USAID funding for any organization abroad that provides abortions or even presents abortion as a family planning option…In another global campaign to spread “Christian values,” the US government’s long-standing “anti-prostitution pledge” restricts funding from going to any organizations that promote or support sex work.  The oath forces organizations to choose between providing comprehensive services to their constituencies, or cutting back on certain services in order to get US funding…the worst abuses of Washington’s hegemonic power have always taken place in international arenas before creeping inward.  The use of private detention facilities and military contractors in border enforcement and migration detention have been experimental sites for the most exploitative forms of prison profiteering.  It was, after all, the expansion of immigration detention that helped revive the private prison industry across the country, after the traditional prison industry’s profits plateaued after decades of mining black communities to fill its facilities…

Stupor Bowl (#711)

Liz Brown finds the usual total lack of “sex trafficking” at this year’s Super Bowl:

To hear the hysterics tell it, thousands—perhaps tens of thousands—of sex-selling women will flock like cockroaches to cities where sports-fans gather, and only some will be there willingly; the rest, including many children, are trucked in by opportunistic pimps and traffickers.  As ample people have pointed out…there’s not a shred of evidence to support this rumor…examinations of actual arrest data in Super Bowl cities shows no corresponding spike in sex trafficking, compelling prostitution, or any other similar charge—despite the verifiable spike in law-enforcement and media attention to the issue…Between the Saturday before the Super Bowl and the Tuesday morning after, no criminal complaints were filed against anyone [in Houston] for sex trafficking, soliciting a minor, pimping, promoting prostitution, compelling prostitution, etc…[the rumor is] what people today like to refer to as “fake news,” and the people who propagate it year after year—police departments looking to justify vice stings and asset forfeiture, missionary groups looking to fundraise or justify federal anti-trafficking grants, sensationalist media, and state and national politicians with human-trafficking measures to promote—are not…“abolitionists” but propagandists, plain and simple.

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Chester Brown is one of the most renowned and respected cartoonists in the world; he and I first met online about four years ago and quickly became friends.  And while I did give him a little help with his revised edition of Paying For It, and he drew the cover for my book Ladies of the Night, his new book is the first one I’ve been privileged to see developed from the very first kernel of the idea (shared in a letter to me several years ago) all the way to distribution and book signings.  So once the initial release whirlwind had died down and I figured he might have some time, I asked him if he’d like to do a guest column introducing the book; he sent this the very next day.  Oh, and one more thing:  Chester now has a Patreon account, and if supporting outspoken allies of sex workers is important to you, you really should consider signing up to that.  Just sayin’.

While the subtitle of my new book is Prostitution And Religious Obedience In The Bible, and there are stories about several biblical prostitutes in it, Mary Wept Over The Feet Of Jesus is mostly about the connections that Jesus had to prostitution.  I’m proposing three interrelated ideas:

  • Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a prostitute.
  • Mary of Bethany, the woman who anointed Jesus as a christ, was a prostitute.
  • Jesus’s parables about The Prodigal Son and The Talents indicate that he didn’t see prostitutes and their clients as sinners to be forgiven but, rather, saw paying for sex as socially beneficial.

The Prodigal Son (page 164)I’m not going to try to convince you that I’m right about all that here; that’s what the book is for.  Instead I want to talk about the issue of bias.  Some critics have dismissed my ideas because I have a bias; for example, see this piece in the A.V. Club.  It is true that I have a bias; I’ve been a client of sex workers for seventeen years and do happen to see the profession as socially beneficial.  I’ve made no attempt to hide that fact.  The question is, does having a bias on a particular subject necessarily invalidate one’s views on that subject?  Should Martin Luther King Jr’s views on civil rights have been dismissed because, being a black man, he had a bias?  I think it’s precisely because I have a bias that I was able to see certain things in the Bible that haven’t been obvious to others.  And it’s not like others who’ve written about Jesus and prostitution before me did not have a bias on the subject of sex work; in fact, I’d venture to guess that the vast majority of biblical scholars, past and present, had and have a whorephobic bias against sex work.

Let’s talk about two relatively recent examples that I came across while researching for my book.  Karen King is a biblical scholar whom I have a lot of respect for.  Her fascinating book What Is Gnosticism? transformed my understanding of that subject.  In 2003, she published a book titled The Gospel of Mary Of Magdala.  In it, King translates and analyzes an ancient text known as The Gospel Of Mary, which presents a woman named Mary as Jesus’s wisest disciple.  Most people assume that the woman is Mary Magdalene, and they’re probably right; I would recommend King’s book to anyone who wants to understand this difficult text.  On page 3, King writes that The Gospel Of Mary “exposes the erroneous view that Mary of Magdala was a prostitute for what it is — a piece of theological fiction”.  However, reading the text of the gospel, one finds no mention of prostitution; there’s no indication what Mary’s source of income was.  (Even a spiritual person in first century Palestine needed some sort of income, whether it was from begging or some other source.)  There’s no sign one way or the other in The Gospel Of Mary, as we have it, that Mary was or wasn’t a prostitute, nor is there any mention of sex; furthermore, King doesn’t interpret any of the material as relating to prostitution or sex.  Now, since there are many pages missing in the two surviving manuscripts of the text, it’s possible that one of those missing pages mentioned that Mary was a prostitute.  (I hesitate to get conspiratorial, but perhaps it wasn’t a coincidence that certain pages went missing in both surviving manuscripts.)  But even if those missing pages didn’t mention that Mary was a prostitute, that still wouldn’t prove she wasn’t one.  So why does King think that the The Gospel Of Mary PROVES that Mary never had sex for pay?  King doesn’t explain her reasoning, but there can be only one reason:  The gospel presents Mary as the most wise and spiritual of the disciples of Jesus, and King whorephobically assumes that a prostitute could not be wise and spiritual.

In the 2006 book Secrets Of Mary Magdalene, edited by Dan Burstein and Arne de Keijzer, there’s an essay by the respected historian James Carroll in which, on page 24, he quotes Luke 8:2-3.  In that biblical passage, it’s mentioned that Mary Magdalene and several other women “provided for them [Jesus and the male disciples] out of their own resources.”  Carroll reads this as an indication that Mary and the other women must therefore have been “well-to-do, respectable figures.”  In other words, they could not have been prostitutes, because, of course, only well-to-do, respectable women had money — prostitutes had absolutely no way to get ahold of money.  This isn’t quite as obviously whorephobic as the Karen King example, but it does indicate a desperate over-eagerness to distance Mary Magdalene from prostitution.  Why wasn’t it obvious to Carroll that, while evidence that Mary Magdalene had money could indicate that she was “respectable”, it could just as easily be evidence that she was a prostitute?  There’s a probably unconscious bias going on there, and one sees it over and over while reading books about biblical prostitutes in general and Mary Magdalene in particular.

Tamar (page 27)On the question of whether Mary Magdalene was a prostitute, I don’t have a definite opinion one way or the other.  It’s true that none of the biblical books link Mary Magdalene with the profession, but Jesus was close with Mary of Bethany, who definitely was a prostitute, and it could be that Mary Magdalene and Mary of Bethany were the same person.  It’s also possible that they were two separate women, since the name Mary was popular at the time. (See pages 245 to 253 of Mary Wept for more on this.)  A basic rule: when a scholar claims with certainty that Mary Magdalene absolutely could not have been a prostitute, that scholar probably has a bias against sex work.  That doesn’t mean that all of that scholar’s conclusions should be dismissed, any more than my pro-sex work bias means that my conclusions should be dismissed.  All it really means is that readers should keep authorial bias in mind when reading any book.

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The first seats at the table ought to be reserved for those from the sex work community– and everyone else should listen.  –  Benjamin L. Corey

Droit du Seigneur Milton Anthony

Not quite a rapist cop, but bad enough:

An Oklahoma sheriff requested a sexual relationship with one of his female employees in exchange for hiring her husband…Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation agents arrested Carter County Sheriff Milton Anthony at his office [on June 1st]…The female employee’s husband was hired shortly after the sexual contact started, and sexual contact between the sheriff and the employee continued for several months…When the woman tried to end the contact, Anthony allegedly insinuated he would alter her work hours and even fire her and her husband if she did not continue with their agreement.  The woman began saving the sheriff’s texts and recorded a conversation between her and the sheriff in April…

One Born Every Minute

I strongly suspect that these rapists are the same ones discussed in the original of this title:

…a Jane Doe plaintiff sued Internet Brands, parent company of popular networking site Model Mayhem, alleging that the site’s operators had violated California state law by failing to notify Model Mayhem users of the very real risk that they could be targeted by…a pair of…sex offenders that the plaintiff claims Internet Brands had known about for years before they — under the pretense of being a “talent scout” — lured her to Florida, where she was allegedly drugged and raped in Feb. 2011…the pair had been at this scheme for around five years, using Model Mayhem as a hunting ground for victims; not only sexually violating…[them] but then allegedly distributing video of the acts…the plaintiff points to a 2010 lawsuit filed by Internet Brands against the original owners for allegedly failing to disclose the potential for civil suits arising from the activities of these particular rapists…“Posting or emailing such a warning could be deemed an act of publishing information, but [the Communications Decency Act] bars only liability that treats a website as a publisher or speaker of content provided by somebody else,” reads the ruling.  “A post or email warning that Internet Brands generated would involve only content that Internet Brands itself produced”…This ruling…determines that the lawsuit against the company can move forward…

Universal Criminality

That whole “freedom of speech” thing was nice while it lasted:

Lancaster [Pennsylvania] police arrested 13 people after a recent crackdown on prostitution…12 men solicited an undercover Lancaster police officer posing as a prostitute during the sting…Charde Clawges…was charged with obstructing administration of the law because she approached the undercover officer and began yelling that she knew the woman was a police officer.  Police said Clawges and the undercover officer had prior contact…

Worse Than I Thought

“Sex trafficking” laws keep getting broader and scarier:

…advocates against…sex trafficking of minors, are celebrating the passage of [a draconian new Connecticut law]…Public Act No. 16-71 will require [hotels] to keep records of their guests’ receipts and transactions for a minimum of six months after the guest has vacated.  [Indoctrination] programs will be recommended for staff at hotels and motels to learn to identify the signs of human trafficking and report the suspected crimes…The [law] now [requires] a mandatory $2,000 fine for convicted buyers of sex and an automatic $2,000 fine for those who [hire] a sex worker in a motor vehicle…accused buyers…cannot…claim…that they did not know the age of the sex worker to avoid harsher penalties that come with trafficking minors…

Legitimate Outrage

Being an ignoramus is no impediment to a career in politics:

Another Republican lawmaker suggested women and girls are unlikely to become pregnant from rape or incest.  Idaho State Rep. Pete Nielson…expressed his doubts that post-rape pregnancies were medically possible…“It is a logical conclusion that any woman who got pregnant after such a despicable and gruesome act must have, in fact, enjoyed it even on a small scale, which eventually led to the obvious consequences…the brain and our emotions affect our bodies.  So, when a woman gets raped, if she experiences that as a trauma, she doesn’t get pregnant.  And you can say what you want, but when she does get pregnant after such a crime, that undoubtedly means that she liked it at some point, regardless of how strange or unbelievable that sounds.  Medicine and biology don’t lie.  They just don’t.”

Grow the Hell Up! (#139)

The bullshit is so deep in this, you’ll need waders to get through it:

…Up until her 18th birthday, that would have made Lexi a sex slave and the hotel sting her emancipation.  A social worker would have been summoned and the man who booked the room arrested for human trafficking.  But Lexi’s 20 now—too old to rescue unless she asks.  Instead, she’s cited for prostitution…Women and children involved in prostitution are now seen as victims instead of criminals…A vice squad goes after prostitutes.  A human trafficking unit looks for slaves and their captors…San Jose specifically has received annual grants ranging from $50,000 to $500,000 to pay for police overtime pay, cameras, binoculars, night vision monoculars, cellphones and phone number-reset software, body wire and other equipment for undercover ops…When a sting nets an adult instead of a minor, he adds, sometimes they just let them go…Still…commercial sex breaks laws police have sworn to uphold, so they can’t let them walk every time…

Traffic Circle (#429)

Theologian Benjamin Corey is quickly distinguishing himself as one of Christianity’s most outspoken sex worker allies:

…the stories of those in the sex work community are individual, varied, nuanced and complex, and do not line up with some prefabricated narrative where one size fits all…far too many in the anti-trafficking movement are not in dialogue with the sex work community…I hear voices expressing feelings of being silenced, discounted, stigmatized, ignored, and even parented by strangers who think they know what’s best for them– without even knowing them or their individual stories…What is happening today in the anti-trafficking/anti-sex industry movement would be offensive in any other context.  It’s a form of moral colonialism:  “Oh, hey– I’m here, I have moral objections to how you’re living, and I know exactly how your life needs to change without even listening to your story.”  The only reason why it’s tolerated in this context is because of the stigmatization associated with the sex industry– one that is often perpetuated by the very people who claim they want to help…

Dr. Corey’s work also appeared in this blog earlier this year when he debunked the “gypsy whores” myth.

All-Purpose Excuse

When men get caught in some kind of sexual misbehavior, the usual excuse is “sex addiction”.  I really hope “sex trafficking” doesn’t start providing an equivalent excuse for women:

The 15-year-old girl had only been a student at South Fort Myers High School…for two weeks when she went looking for her new crush in the boys’ bathroom.  She’d spent the prior two years in and out of treatment facilities…learning to cope with the horrors of the sex slave industry into which she had been trafficked at age 13.  So when…her crush…asked her for sex…[she] agreed.  But…someone started filming, and over the next hour as many as 25 male students were shown on school surveillance footage passing through the bathroom…Multiple boys had sex with the girl…Sixteen students were disciplined…Though the sex was described as consensual…the girl was not legally old enough to give consent.  And because of her troubled background, the teen’s mother and advocates have said this behavior, called promiscuous by many outraged community members, is actually quite common among sex-trafficking survivors…

Vendetta (#588) 13 billboard

It isn’t just morally-warped billionaires’ money going to vomit anti-whore propaganda all over the landscape, but yours as well:

Not content to spread false sex-work statistics in the media and legislature, Indiana activists and officials have now put up billboard advertisements to promote their anti-fact, anti-prostitution message.  One billboard—emblazoned at the top with “‘She looked 18.’  She’s not”—claims that 13-years-old is “the average age kids are first used in the sex trade.”  Any way you slice it, that’s simply not true: whether we are talking about the average age of entry into prostitution in general or the average age of minors engaging in prostitution, there’s no good evidence to back this assertion and a whole lot to suggest that it’s wrong. Even Polaris Project, arguably the most influential anti-trafficking organization in the United States, says that “this stat is not actually supported by any data“…The misleading ads are made all the more egregious because they’re paid for with taxpayer money.  The billboards were a project of the Indiana Protection for Abused and Trafficked Humans Task Force, a group that lists itself on Facebook as a “nonprofit” but is funded by the U.S. Department of Justice and headed up by U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler and Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller.  In addition to billboards, the group’s “Not Buying It” campaign also features ads on city buses and elsewhere…

Book Reviews (#630)

Another good interview with Chester Brown about his new book:

…Brown was last in the public eye in 2011 with Paying for It…a book that generated extreme reactions with its frank and dispassionate treatment of a [controversial] subject…and its advocacy for the rights of sex workers.  “I hadn’t been intending to do any kind of followup (to Paying For It)…I thought I would do a very different book”…Mary Wept Over The Feet of Jesus…is, as planned, a very different book.  Yet it’s a followup too, or at the very least a complementary companion piece.  Going back two thousand years and more in search of the roots of what Brown calls our culture’s “whore phobia,” the new book reinterprets a range of parables and stories from the Old and New Testaments, emerging with a thesis…that “Jesus was arguing that prostitution is a good thing, something that benefits society”…What specifically spurred Brown into writing Mary Wept was an interpretation he read of the enigmatic Parable of the Talents, in which seemingly the least responsible of three slaves entrusted with a master’s fortune – he literally spends his whole stake on prostitutes – gets rewarded…

To Molest and Rape

It’s rare to see a new outlet actually use the word “rape” in reference to a rapist cop:  “An Owenton [Kentucky cop] was arrested [on June 2nd] and charged with first-degree rape…Rufus Shearer…is being held at the Carroll County Detention Center…

Turning Point

Kari Lerum, a UW professor I’ve worked with as an activist, discusses the wrongheadedness of opposition to decriminalization:

…with Amnesty International’s recent unflinching policy recommendation to decriminalize all adult consensual sex work…it is becoming increasingly difficult for naysayers to ignore the well-documented ways that sex workers are harmed by criminalization.  Amnesty’s position is based on many years of empirical research by leading health and human rights researchers, as well as calls by sex workers and advocates…for some individuals, no amount of evidence or logic will change their opinion that sex work is intrinsically wrong.  For them, decriminalizing any form of sex work – including adult consensual encounters – would send the unacceptable message that sex work is a legitimate form of income generation…I ask students to honestly reflect on how their life experiences might shape the way they approach the issue of exchanging sexual services for pay.  At the end of the course I ask students to revisit their feelings.  I have found that when given the opportunity to make space for their feelings and to evaluate the best empirical evidence…most students conclude that adult consensual sex work should be decriminalized…even if they still personally do not “believe” in it…I wish that I could also give this assignment to all policymakers and anti-sex trade activists…

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Self-professed progressives fight for middle class utopias at the expense of the socially weak.  –  Cas MuddeMary Wept Over the Feet of Jesus

Book Reviews

An interview with Chester Brown about his newest graphic novel:

Mary Wept Over the Feet of Jesus may be the most provocative comic book published this year.  Beginning as a series of short Bible stories, many of them with a sexual edge—Tamar grappling with her husband, Onan, Bathsheba’s affair with King David—it gradually transforms into a polemic.  Drawing variously on academic scholarship, apocryphal texts, and his own keen interpretative eye, Brown argues that Jesus’ mother was a prostitute—and that Jesus’ own appreciation of prostitution was suppressed by later authors.  Though he tells familiar stories, Brown often pushes them in surprising—and sometimes even shocking—directions.  In one especially memorable sequence, he suggests that the anointment of Jesus described in all four gospels may have been sexual…Brown defends this conclusion in a series of lengthy exegetical endnotes that capture both the scope of his inquiries and the shape of his own fascinations…

Remember, Chester will be signing books in Seattle tonight!

Sales Pitch

The Swedish model has virtually eliminated prostitution in Sweden!

Streetwalkers have largely disappeared from the sidewalks but prostitution remains alive and well in northern Europe where laws criminalising the purchase of sex have been in place for years, illustrating the limits of legislation…Sweden was the first country to do so in 1999, and Norway and Iceland followed suit a decade later.  But prostitution is far from being eradicated in these countries, despite the fact that sex clients risk heavy fines or even prison sentences…Authorities…however [pretend to be] satisfied with the effects the legislation has had…

Girls, Girls, Girls!

Laws banning alcohol in strip clubs are among the most Puritanical and asinine of all sex industry “regulations”:

For years, the city of Chicago has prohibited businesses from mixing alcoholic beverage sales with nude dancing.  Strip clubs within the Windy City limits have to choose between serving booze and featuring dancers that exhibit their “genitals, pubic hair, buttocks” or, if female, “any portion of the … breast below the areola”, though clubs may permit patrons to bring their own drinks.  But now some Chicago city lawmakers are trying to open topless establishments for alcohol business…of course the dispensation doesn’t come without strings attached: “If a would-be owner sought to open a new club with drinks and partial nudity, it could do so only if it obtained a cabaret license,” a new designation which would require meeting “strict zoning codes” and “a special-use permit that would require community hearings”…

Our descendants will view such laws with much the same horror as many Westerners view strict hijab laws.

The Course of a Disease

One can never have too many anti-Swedish model editorials:

…The so-called “Nordic Model” is a return to the darkest periods of left-wing paternalism, in which…the opinions of the “protected” are either ignored or dismissed by the “protectors”.  Sex workers, who in large majority oppose the criminalization of people who buy sex…are stripped of their agency, reduced to “victims” of the “sex industry” who suffer from “false consciousness”.  A recent editorial of The Guardian, the British standard bearer of the European progressiveness, gives an interesting insight into the increasing difficulties that progressives have with justifying criminalization of sex work.  It is a remarkable combination of confusion and desperation.  While it actually refers to some of the little reliable research that is out there, it largely ignores its implications and recommendations.  This is because most serious research shows that the “Nordic Model” has neither improved the situation of sex workers nor significantly decreased the “sex industry”…

Above the Law  

It’s hard to be sure, but this one may have really been an ex-cop:

A former Carolina Beach police officer is being accused of pretending to [still] be a cop and threatening to arrest women if they didn’t [submit to rape]…Joseph Adam Silva…[raped one] escort…on March 15…[but he] allegedly committed [others] between Jan.1 and Jan. 20…he reportedly told [one] victim he was a police officer investigating a prostitution sting…he is now facing a total of 18 charges.  [Six] women have come forward…and…Detectives [claim] that anyone who comes forward will not be incriminated…

I wouldn’t trust the cops, ladies; just because they don’t prosecute you now doesn’t mean you won’t go on a watch list for later harassment.

The Notorious Badge 

I don’t own a TV set, so I won’t be watching this show.  But Lux Alptraum’s review jibes very well with my impressions from watching the trailer, including my opinion that the lead was dreadfully miscast:

The Girlfriend Experience…is a strange beast.  Despite being made seven years after Soderbergh’s Sasha Grey vehicle, it feels, weirdly, more regressive in its attitude towards sex work.  The film sought to draw comparisons between escorting and other service industries…In contrast, the show seems determined to double down on the “exotic” nature of the industry…at no point does Christine seem like a woman who would be drawn to escorting.  I don’t mean that she’s “too smart” or “too driven” or that she has “other options” (many of the sex workers I know are smart, driven, and with plenty of career options). It’s more that she seems to completely lack any of the basic skills that are necessary for the job.  Escorts who cater to wealthy gentlemen tend to place a great emphasis on being able to blend into expensive environments, something Christine seems incapable of doing even in her straight life.  Most notably, she’s not very good with people — in most of her interactions throughout the episode, she seems distant, disengaged, and bored. In other words, she’s the exact opposite of what a good sex worker needs to be: empathetic and able to connect with other people…

With Friends Like These…

Janet Street-Porter basically argues that whores are passive animals who should be harvested by the state:

…the sex industry is thriving – and a huge amount of money changes hands every day, none of which is subject to tax.  This means millions of euros that governments could be profiting from…The vast majority…who offer sex for sale…are poor migrants…controlled by organised crime and a large number are addicts…Please don’t…tell me there are happy prostitutes who love their job…every time a massage parlour is raided in the UK, who do you see cowering in the police vans?  Vulnerable women who have been trafficked…Women regularly get beaten up by clients, they are rarely in control and abusive clients can make their lives a misery…

Apparently, Porter believes that people of other professions who are arrested by cops and know their entire lives may be destroyed go happily smiling, singing and dancing into the police vans.

Backwards Into the Future (#408)

Malawi continues to do what the US won’t:

Sex workers in Mwanza district have received a boost as the district’s council has revealed plans to recognise them and help improve their trade…the council hopes the female sex workers alliance will give the sex workers opportunities to find solutions to problems they face…Mwanza District Aids Coordinator, Pearson Mphangwe said the move will help curb the spread of HIV and AIDS…

The Rape Question (#409) Yes To Sex app

Considering the doctrine that consent can be retroactively revoked months or years after the fact, I sincerely doubt an informal contract without  a lawyer witness  would really offer much protection:

…A mother of three aims to…confirm mutual consent before sexual intercourse via Yes to Sex, an app…for both iOS and Android.  In less than 25 seconds, partners can whip out a smartphone, fire up the app and flash through a series of one-touch agreements that culminate in a request to record a short audio confirmation that the parties have agreed to intercourse.  A safe word is generated.  Both parties agree to stop having sex if one partner says the word.  The app essentially amounts to a technological record of consent.  Once a user closes out of the app, no information remains saved on any phone.  The date, time, place and voice recordings are stored on Yes to Sex’s secure servers, which according to a company news release…”can only be retrieved with court-endorsed orders, ensuring anonymity”…

Full of Themselves (#414)

Even though “massage therapists” are pushing back on this idiocy, they just can’t resist anti-whore posturing:

Owners of some of Evanston [Illinois’s] estimated 50 massage therapy businesses turned out…to protest a proposed city licensing ordinance that they said could force them out of business…James Specker…[of] the American Massage Therapy Association…said city staff had failed to reach out to the profession before developing the new regulatory scheme.  That failure to consult with affected businesses also marked a city effort four years ago to impose zoning restrictions on massage businesses — a proposal ultimately defeated after the massage therapists turned out in force to oppose it.  Sarah McLaughlin…said the ordinance’s definition of prohibited areas for massage is overbroad and raised objections to other provisions, including one that would forbid locks on the doors of rooms where massages were given…She suggested…prohibiting overnight operating hours, when, she said, no legitimate massage business would be operating, as ways to address the prostitution problem.  Steve Rogne [fantasized] a need for more regulation to protect against human trafficking…

Guinea Pigs 

Remember: they say it’s about “pimps”, but really it’s about sex workers and clients today, and about everybody once they get it perfected:

…21-year-old Emily Kennedy trawls through hundreds of online ads offering up women for sex.  The ads are posted publicly online, and they’re endless.  Emily’s trying to find patterns in ads posted by pimps in the illegal sex trade – consistent phone numbers, spelling mistakes, syntax, phrasing; any clues to link handfuls of ads together.  It’s 2011.  By 2016, those nights…have paid off.  Emily’s senior thesis research has become the basis for Traffic Jam, a piece of software that finds patterns in ads posted by pimps.  Those patterns now help detectives – even in agencies like the FBI – to figure out who’s behind each post.  Traffic Jam has helped detectives rescue hundreds of victims of human trafficking in the US, Emily Kennedy [claims]…

Dating Game

I don’t date outsiders except for money, but I think the way everyone just assumes breaking off with a woman because she’s a sex worker is the “right” thing to do, is kind of revolting:

The [UK] culture secretary, John Whittingdale, is facing calls to withdraw from his role in the regulation of the press following the disclosure that he had a relationship with a sex worker.  Whittingdale, who is divorced, was forced to explain…how he had a six-month relationship with a woman who he did not realise worked in a brothel.  But campaigners for tighter press regulation have claimed his position is compromised after it was reported that a number of newspapers had investigated the claims but decided not to run the story…Whittingdale described the situation as embarrassing…“Between August 2013 and February 2014, I had a relationship with someone who I first met through Match.com…She was a similar age and lived close to me.  At no time did she give me any indication of of her real occupation and…As soon as I discovered, I ended the relationship.  The events occurred long before I took up my present position and it has never had any influence on the decisions I have made as culture secretary”…

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic (#625) 

“Sex addiction” is the defense of choice for non-violent sex offenders:

Jeffrey Zapora…avoided jail, and was instead sentenced to four years of probation for three counts of indecent exposure…Zapora [claimed]…increasing stress in his life…led him to act out…[by using] masturbation and sexual behaviors as a coping mechanism, and the flashing was an extension of that…Zapora said he attends a 12-step program for sex addiction, as well as counseling, and started going to church again…Before his arrest, Zapora was a first-year plastic surgery resident with Lehigh Valley Health Network…he was terminated from the program following his arrest…

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It’s the oldest profession in the world for a reason.  –  Jami Rodman

A Moral Cancer smoking ban cartoon

As a lass, I never imagined there was a Western culture more puritanical than the US:

Sweden needs to limit the number of public spaces where people are allowed to smoke, according to a lengthy review of tobacco laws… “One should not be exposed to the temptation to smoke,” concluded the report’s author Göran Lundahl…It suggests that legislation should be extended to include “certain public places outdoors, such as café and restaurant terraces, entrances to establishments and other spaces to which the public has access”…The review also argues that e-cigarettes, herbal cigarettes and other products which simulate tobacco smoking should be banned…

The Pro-Rape Coalition 

I don’t think I need to tell you that there’s absolutely no evidence for these claims, even if they constituted a valid argument for censorship (which they don’t):

Children as young as five are sexually abusing their peers after being exposed to pornography, a Senate inquiry has been told.  In chilling evidence that would shock parents, a [former] child development expert has outlined a [parade] of cases where primary school aged children were coercing classmates into performing sex acts including intercourse.  University of South Australia Emeritus Professor Freda Briggs…cited her own work that found fathers were watching online porn with their young sons for “fun” because “that’s what guys do”.  The prevalence of internet pornography — especially how children can stumble on it while innocently doing homework — has alarmed…[the] inquiry [on] the harm it is causing children, including sexualising them at a young age…Senator Back said he was keen to explore what could be done to protect children, including seeing whether technological advances had made internet-wide filtering possible…

Note that Australia dumped a countrywide censorship plan as unworkable four years ago.

A Whore in Church 

Sex worker tells preacher exactly why she does sex work; preacher ignores her and blathers about imaginary “pimps” instead:

New Day Ministry Pastor Helen Wolfe…[pretends that] prostitutes proposition her church members before and after church services.  “These ladies are literally chasing them to the front door,” she said…[this wonderful Christian threatened] one of them, “Somebody is going to cut you up, somebody is going to kill you…Tell the pimps I’m coming after them.”  One of the ladies agreed to come inside the sanctuary and share her story…”I had a good job, a nice home, car, everything, and I got really badly hurt and got on pain pills.”  She…[is] no longer be addicted to drugs but continues to work as a prostitute because she can’t find another job…”The pimps are now getting into my pocket,” Helen said. “Now the daycare is decreasing because…they say they get chased down by the prostitutes.  I’m going to flip this and get in the pimp’s pocket.”  Pastor Helen plans to start taking pictures of people involved in criminal activity outside her church, including the men who pick up the prostitutes, and sending them to the police…

Enabling Oppression

What could be more outrageous and tone-deaf than prohibitionists trying to link their campaign to increase state control over individuals with the drive to end slavery?  How about linking support for an increasingly-violent and all-pervasive police state with a famous victim of such a state?

[Rescue industry-supporting BDSM fantasist “One-Hand”] Kristof and [violent prohibitionist “Cuckoo Clock”] McCain were presented with the 2015 Anne Frank Award and the Anne Frank Special Recognition Award, respectively, for their work fighting [advertising websites and consensual sex between adults]…The award ceremony took place February 25 in the Members Room of the Library of Congress…

Dysphemisms Galore 

Accurate headline: “Life Continues As Usual When Foreign Politicians Visit City

As politicians grappled with Britain’s EU future at a crunch summit, other more sordid deals were being thrashed out nearby.  David Cameron was locked in talks at the European Parliament as the Brussels’ sex trade was ­thriving from an influx of well-off EU politicans and officials…­hundreds of prostitutes from Romania, Albania and Bulgaria were plying their trade.  Flooding in to meet ­increased ­demand ­at the time of top EU ­meetings, they blew kisses to ­smart-suited men trawling the ­fleshpots of Rue d’Aerschot.  Some offered “40 euros for one sex position or 50 for several”…

Catastrophic Consequences

Much more of this, please:

The Crown Office has dropped the cases against eleven people charged with brothel offences, prompting criticism of Police Scotland for its high profile raids on Edinburgh’s saunas.  Six men and five women were set for a court hearing in November, but prosecutors backed off and have now abandoned the proceedings.  Many of Edinburgh’s saunas have effectively operated as brothels since the mid-1980s.  The approach had the tacit support of the former Lothian and Borders police force and the council in Edinburgh, which provided saunas with public entertainment licenses…

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (#431)

Indonesian officials decide to prevent a repeat of the Dolly fiasco by means of extreme violence:

One of Indonesia’s oldest red-light districts was demolished in an operation overseen by hundreds of police and troops…Dozens of illegal bars and brothels along a…strip in north Jakarta…known…as Kalijodo…were reduced to rubble by excavators….leaving behind nothing but splintered wood, brick and old mattresses…North Jakarta Mayor Rustam Effendi…said…the demolition would make way for a public park.  “There was open prostitution there and all kinds of other things as a result, like liquor,” he [said]…During the eviction of residents over the past week, police seized and destroyed large quantities of alcohol…The government last week instructed local authorities to shut down an estimated 100 red-light districts across the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country…

Shift in the Wind (#451)

Fraught With Complications

Here’s a good, thorough article on what to do if you fall in love with a whore:

So you met a hooker and at first you were cool with it.  You didn’t freak out when they first told you about their job and you didn’t freak them out with your response.  You started seeing each other and maybe you had some reservations but figured you would…talk them into your way of thinking…Or you figured whatever you had with them wasn’t so serious so it didn’t need to be a big deal…But…Over time and as your feelings for them have grown, you’ve found your acceptance for their job has diminished…So now what?…

Welcome To Our World (#588)

Maybe the Times thinks if it backs away slowly enough, nobody will notice:

When New York Times editors were defending the paper’s two-part series on alleged labor abuses in nail salons last year, they repeatedly pointed to the high rate of violations uncovered by a state inspection task force…A spokesperson for the paper later used the same defense when responding to my own critical appraisal of the nail salon series.  After Bernstein and I demonstrated that the original articles…by…Sarah Maslin Nir…were filled with blatant mischaracterizations and misquotes from key sources…theeditors clung to the notion that the state’s findings demonstrated that Nir basically got the story right.  Now the Times has taken a close look at those labor inspections and discovered that they “reveal another reality” that doesn’t match up with Nir’s findings.  As reporters Russ Buettner and Kim Barker explain, immigrant nail salon owners were often tripped up by the technicalities of New York State wage and hour regulations…”In two dozen cases, for instance, owners paid employees an equivalent of at least the state minimum wage and overtime for the hours they worked, but because they did not correctly account for the overtime hours, they were still cited for underpayment…”  If you exclude those two dozen cases, Buettner and Barker report that 67 nail salons, or a little more than one quarter of those investigated by the state, paid less than the minimum wage.  And of those 67, 25 missed the mark by less than $50.  In other words, the original Times story argued that three-quarter of nail salons in New York paid less than the minimum wage, but the state inspections have found roughly the opposite to be true…

Too Close To Home

Once again, the Seattle Times demonstrated its deep prohibitionism and disgusting obsequiousness by publishing this asinine regurgitation of prohibitionist feces its editors eagerly lapped off the boots of King County cops and prosecutors.  And when Mistress Matisse called those editors out via Twitter for publishing lies that five minutes of high-school-level Googling would have disproven, they either ignored her or doubled down defending this dumpster fire of an editorial.  Fortunately, not every reporter in Seattle feels that “journalism” is a synonym for “fellating authority”; Sydney Brownstone of The Stranger responded thus:

…it’s clear that the Ed Board…has not interrogated the sex work “research” cited by King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg very deeply…The “age of entry” myth—a common one—has been challenged by sex work advocates and research from anti-trafficking group Polaris…the “local” research being cited by Satterberg’s office….[is] a collection of studies that drew flawed, biased conclusions about sex work and trafficking based on small sample sizes of populations that already skewed heavily toward victims of abuse or street workers…when I asked legislators to send me research about the claim that sex workers often come from a background of abuse, I was forwarded a letter from local anthropologist-activist Debra Boyer that incorrectly cited…a famed book on trauma research…[which] had used clinical vignettes from sex workers already in trauma treatment to illustrate the idea that survivors of child abuse are vulnerable to revictimization…[it] did not claim that a majority or plurality of sex workers came from backgrounds of abuse…Even if sex workers did have histories of sexual abuse or assault—histories that many women share, regardless of their occupations—does that mean they’re incapable of making decisions in their own best interest?…

The Public Eye (#608)

Another shrug-inducing interview with Jami Rodman.  At the risk of sounding conceited, I have to tell you there’s nothing here I haven’t covered before (and in greater detail, and far more eloquently); however, I’m still glad to see the facts of our lives getting out there from as many sources as possible, and her conclusion was strong.

Book Reviews (#616)

Some people are just so hateful:

…On the 18th of February, my follower count was 34,872.  It started going up sharply, by about 500 a day…I remembered seeing a tweet from @Popehat from a few years ago.  Someone had maliciously bought the account thousands of followers; this is something people do so they can report the account for the fakes, and try to get them kicked off Twitter.  I DM’d a couple of people with experience of both being the target of online harassment and of communicating with Twitter.  The response was unanimous: someone is trying to get you banned. Lock your account and start deleting the fake followers…Publishers increasingly expect authors to use social media presence to publicise their work to readers.  My publisher likes that social media is embedded in my writing and that I engage with a lot of people online – without the Internet, I would never have become a writer at all…By Friday night the Twitter follower count was touching 40k with no sign of slowing.  I didn’t have much choice anymore.  I locked the account and started blocking the bots and declining the hundreds of follow requests from fakes coming in.  This is an ongoing effort. If you have recently followed me and find yourself blocked, I apologise — there are going to be some false positives in this process…

I wish my friend the best, and I encourage all of you to support her writing in the most pragmatic fashion possible.

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What emerges from [DoJ “sex trafficking” statistics] is an interesting portrait of a solution in search of a crisis.  –  Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Book Reviews

My friend Brooke Magnanti has written her first crime novel, and here’s a video promo for it:

Here are the other four videos in the series, and you can buy the book on Amazon.

Oops

Most incompetent pimp ever:

A Seattle-area sex offender accused of offering to pimp an undercover police detective has been charged with promoting prostitution.  Jerry G. Wood Jr. is alleged to have offered to protect the detective in exchange for 40 percent of her prostitution earnings.  What protection Wood might have provided is unclear – the 39-year-old was hospitalized rather than jailed after his arrest due to a claimed medical malady…Wood offered to provide her with “many Microsoft and Amazon clients who call him for ladies,” the detective told the court…

Above the Law 

No, NBC, this is not “bribery”; it’s rape.

…federal deportation officer…Arnaldo Echevarria…demanded and pocketed $78,000 in bribes from…immigrants in exchange for hiding the fact that they were in the country illegally…He also demanded sex from two of the immigrants, and one of them got pregnant…Echevarria encouraged her to have an abortion, but she had the child — and he continued to [rape] her afterward…

They Still Don’t Get It

These types of stories are often stunningly incoherent:

…Members of the Child Exploitation Task Force…[arrested] 15 [adults]…14 are facing prostitution charges and one was arrested on a warrant for probation violation…Julie Shrader [of] Rejuvenating Women…[imagines] prostitution is a real problem [in Omaha, Nebraska]…and with every bust comes hope that this will be their chance to leave the business…“They need intense trauma counseling.”  She [pretends that] according to research, only one to three percent of prostitutes voluntarily stay in the business…“these guys that are buying these girls are sex addicts and they need help, too…The girls have been so desensitized to sex that it doesn’t mean anything to them and to survive they sell themselves”…

So if a guy has sex prohibitionist dislikes he’s an “addict”, but a woman who does is “desensitized”.  And they all need “help” to be brainwashed into Shrader’s way of thinking.

King of the Hill

WE’RE NUMBER FOUR!  WE’RE NUMBER FOUR!

…Statistics from the National Human Trafficking Resource Center in Washington, DC show human trafficking cases in Ohio are some of the highest in the nation…Ohio reported 289 human trafficking cases in 2015…the fourth-highest tally in the nation, behind only California, Texas and Florida…

Monsters 

Unless prisons in Western Australia are guarded much more closely than those in the US, she’s facing a lot worse than mere “discrimination”:

…a trans woman living with HIV, who is a sex worker…has been moved to a men’s prison…“People For Sex Worker Rights in WA spokeswoman Rebecca Davies told reporters [the prisoner] was distressed…“Someone who identifies as a woman has been put in a male prison where they’re probably going to be subject to discrimination, possibly abuse from other prisoners”…the woman…was arrested over allegations of unprotected sex with a male client, resulting in charges of grievous bodily harm…

Seeking Sappho

I am a woman in her mid-40s, in a same-sex relationship, suffering the same problem as many couples out there: The sex part has died.  Absolutely everything else is wonderful…I decided last year to start looking into escort services, and I’ve grown to love my time as a female client.

The Eye of the Beholder (#340) corpse bride

Do Swedish politicians think about anything else other than who’s allowed to fuck whom?

The youth wing of the Swedish Liberal party has filed a motion to legalize necrophilia and incest.  Liberal Youth of Sweden said that just because it is “viewed as unusual and disgusting”, does not mean that the…acts should be illegal.  They want to legalize sex between two consenting siblings over the age of 15, and sex with a corpse if there is a written permission made before the person died…The controversial announcement was quickly criticised by…several senior figures within the mother party.  Former Liberal MP Carl B Hamilton lashed out at the youth wing, calling them “nitwits”, accusing them of craving publicity over politics…

But outlawing consensual sex between adults based on a motive is totally sensible, and not at all done for publicity.

Traffic Circle

In a series of three articles the Queen of Whore Allies, Elizabeth Nolan Brown, mines a Department of Justice report for government “sex trafficking” statistics.  The first part shows that highly-touted “tough on crime” laws don’t actually increase arrests or prosecutions; the second part demonstrates that most arrests are bogus and don’t even result in prosecutions; and the third part is a frightening look at government ideas about sexual thoughtcrime.

The Widening Gyre (#546)

These are getting funnier and funnier:

In a Facebook status shared by more than 139,000 people, Texas mom Amanda Cropsey Florczykowski tells of a harrowing run-in with child sex traffickers at an unnamed store in Longview.  Florczykowski is “convinced” that her two-year-old daughter was the target of a brazen ring of traffickers who literally pluck children out of their mothers’ arms in checkout lines.  Luckily, with her wits and the Lord at her side, Florcyzkowski was able to thwart the nefarious gang, retrieve her child, and use the experience as a warning to others…Longview, Texas…police…reviewed surveillance video and…the interaction in question lasted approximately “two seconds”…this isn’t the first time a “strange encounter” in a chain-store checkout line has spurred rumors of roving, calculating criminals intent on abducting women and children in public.  Last spring, for instance, an Oklahoma woman was convinced that she’d been the target of intended abduction at her local Hobby Lobby…

I think it’s safe to say we’ve reached the “possessed toaster” level of hysteria.

Bad Fantasy, Good Reality (#586)

Korean cops are learning US-style agency negation:

South Korean police have alerted Thai police to a crackdown on prostitution rings…that resulted in the arrest of 48 Thai women and five prostitution brokers…Some of the women entered South Korea as tourists after the brokers promised them jobs in massage parlours but were forced to work as prostitutes…Of the 48 Thais arrested on Thursday, 12 [have] already been deported…Thai police would determine if the women arrested in the raids were victims or chose to do sex work…

The Swedish Pimpocracy (#606)

It’s illegal to pay for sex in Sweden, unless you’re using it as a defense against rape charges:

A Swedish doctor who kept a woman locked up in a soundproofed bunker for almost a week has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.  Stockholm District Court…[found] Martin Trenneborg guilty of kidnapping the woman…[but] not guilty of aggravated rape.  He was also told to pay 180,000 kronor ($21,200) in damages to the victim…”They had sexual intercourse, but that was consensual.  She’s a sex worker and he paid for the sex he had,” his defence lawyer Mari Schaub [said]…

The Course of a Disease (#606) 

Governments now think they own their citizens:

British men who [hire] prostitutes while abroad…should be prosecuted in the UK under new laws that make paying for sex illegal, according to a report…commissioned for the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Prostitution by the [prohibitionist] group End Demand…

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I’m sorry, barista. I need to give this latte back. I didn’t see any joy from you while making it.  —  Cathy Reisenwitz

Book Reviews

Thaddeus Russell reviews a book on sex work during the Alaska gold rush:

…From Saloons, Prostitutes, and Temperance in Alaska Territory, the independent historian Catherine Holder Spude’s book on the rise and fall of gold-rush Skagway, we learn that women…used the proceeds from selling sex to open brothels and purchase substantial tracts of land as well as hotels, saloons, and numerous houses…historians have found that in the late 19th century the average brothel worker received from one to five dollars for every “trick” they turned, earning in one evening what women who worked as maids, department store clerks, or teachers made in a week.  In 1916 the U.S. Department of Labor, concerned by reports that respectable women were being lured into “the Social Evil” by high wages, surveyed a broad sample of prostitutes and found that they earned an average of $40 per week, which was roughly double what white, male, unionized construction workers were making…most madams not only paid their employees far higher wages than they would find in any other employment, but also provided clothing, birth control, health care, legal assistance, housing, and meals.  Few American workers of either sex have ever enjoyed such benefits…

Get Out of the 19th Century Often?

Men who think they can “abolish prostitution” by such ham-handed tactics are delusional:

On 28 May, 2015, the Nepalese Army imposed a strict 8pm curfew on entering and exiting the central Kathmandu, Tundikhel field where over…1000 people are currently residing in tents following the 25 April 8.1 magnitude earthquake, which killed over 8000 people and left hundreds of thousands of people displaced…Citing concerns that the field would be patronised by “prostitutes and thieves”, the army erected razor wire fencing across the field’s only public access point, causing distress to many residents of the field…Commander Bishun also said that the army was concerned that “prostitutes may enter the field and attempt to ply their trade to family men during the night”…Bishun agreed to allow access to the camp if all the male residents attempting to enter agreed to undergo a test for drunkenness, provide army guards with a copy of their identification and/or their names and contact details…and could explain the relationship they had with all women accompanying them…

Uncommon Sense

The Swiss government says it is against outlawing prostitution or the buying of sexual services, but has proposed measures to better protect sex workers and to fight against human trafficking…Experience from abroad shows that a ban on prostitution is not the solution, the government said.  Studies from other countries have shown that this usually leads to the criminalisation of prostitutes or prostitution going underground. Complementary measures usually produce more success…The situation in Sweden and the United States, both of which have partially banned prostitution, remains difficult…

Finding What Isn’t There

You know why?  Because there is almost never any evidence.  You know why?  Because the people accused of “trafficking” are almost never actually criminals:

Baltimore has become a hub for human trafficking because of its interstate highways and proximity to major airports, city and state officials say.  But few human traffickers are arrested, and even fewer are convicted…police have made approximately 800 prostitution arrests a year on average…but…charged only 10 suspects with sex trafficking since January 2013…and prosecutors dropped all charges in eight of the cases.  The only conviction was on a separate charge…

Is there a large US city that doesn’t have an airport and interstate highways?

The Widening Gyre 

Ninja pimps with mind-control powers don’t appear as often in the Canadian folklore as in the American:

…one year after [London, Ontario] police said a recruiter was working high school hallways — parents are reaching out for help like never before.  An agency that helps women trafficked for sex in London says requests for help…are off the charts…police…work…to identify and build relationships with…“potential victims,” who include women and girls that officers believe are being forced to sell their bodies, though they may insist they’re doing so by their own choice.  Last year officers identified three times the number of victims they did the year before…Const. Jim Pottruff…said…“I don’t have any evidence…but I’ve been hearing about it and I believe it’s true”…

Between the Ears (#334) lovely stupid sex toy

the Lovely [is] a sex toy that’s been touted as “the fitbit, but for your penis”…[it’s] a stretchy silicone ring, which attaches around the base of your penis.  It also has a vibrator tucked inside…The product can apparently collect all kinds of data about your lovemaking skills – after you’ve finished, the Lovely app connects to your smartphone and provides you with a report, containing information on how many calories you’ve burned, your top and average speed, and even the g-forces you’ve exerted on each other’s respective pelvises…

Not Good Enough

The pill pushers just won’t stop until they can sell an ineffictive “cure” for something that isn’t actually a dysfunction:

The drug industry’s decade-spanning search for a female equivalent to Viagra took a major step forward…as government experts recommended approval for a pill [claimed] to boost sexual desire in women…side effects [include] fatigue, low blood pressure and fainting…the…”female Viagra”…has been plagued for years by concerns of lackluster effectiveness and safety issues.  The FDA has rejected the drug twice since 2010…FDA’s experts acknowledged that flibanserin’s effect is not very strong…women taking [it] reported between 0.5 and 1 more sexually satisfying event per month, compared with women taking a placebo…

The expense and trouble of a daily pill that can cause fatigue & fainting for half an extra orgasm per month, and these bozos actually think that’s worth it? I wonder how much payola that took?  Meanwhile, Tracy Clark-Flory writes about responsive desire (like mine) and how Flibanserin fits into conversation about it.

Bootlickers (#414) 

Now he asks:

Law enforcement spent countless hours working to shut down coffee stands in Snohomish County where employees were engaging in prostitution, and to make a case against…Sheriff’s sergeant Darrell O’Neill, who is accused of providing information to bikini baristas about police stings in exchange for sexual favors…But was all the effort put in to take down one corrupt sheriff’s sergeant worth the effort?…

A Mound of Filth

Most of this is about the mound of money being shoveled down the “sex trafficking” toilet, but this particular passage’s brazen assertion that the “Dream Project” is intended to brainwash women is quietly horrifying: “Kathleen Winn, executive director of the newly formed Arizona Anti-Trafficking Network, said…the first step…is…getting the women to see themselves as victims, rather than women who willingly sold sex.  ‘They don’t self-identify as victims’, Winn said. ‘It really is an education (for the women)’…”  Winn has previously been quoted as saying that phones and computers are a “curse” because they hinder parents from totally controlling adolescent’s lives:  “We even try to break up Internet businesses…We are looking for ways…[to destroy] Backpage.com…

Making It Up As They Go

What coffee stands are to Everett, massage parlors are to Bellevue:

Two Bellevue spas are the target of a new city ordinance designed to get unsavory or problem businesses closed or cleaned up…Jolee Spa and Factoria’s Sunnyday Spa both were deemed “chronic nuisances” by the Bellevue police, opening both up for future fines and potential prosecution.  The “chronic nuisance” law went into effect in April as a tool to clean up prostitution and drug activity…”Prostitution in our city is not going to be tolerated,” said Bellevue Police Deputy Chief Mike Johnson. “We understand there’s quite a bit going on, so we’re doing our best to combat that”…

Allowing the police to designate any business a “nuisance”; what could possibly go wrong?

Bait and Switch

Try not to get sick when you read the vile propaganda vomited up all over these reporters by Grady Judd of Polk County, Florida, and his accomplice Gary Borders of Lake County; remember, these are nearly all young men who were tricked into talking to cops pretending to be women just a few years younger than they are.  Despite the slander and character assassination, these men are not criminals of any kind and certainly not “child predators”, not even in Judd’s warped mind.

The Widening Gyre (#534) 

GOOD:  Snopes debunks the “teen job sex trafficking scam” rumor.  BAD:  In the process they quote the Polaris project, whose “sex trafficking” propaganda is every bit as absurd:

Are human trafficking rings using job interviews to lure college student through invitations to interviews for a summer job?  Almost certainly, no.  While human trafficking is a real (and serious) problem, its facilitators deliberately target populations of people whose absence is likely to go unnoticed for a time.  We could find no incidents wherein job interviewees were drugged, kidnapped, and forced into sex work.  Criminals tend to target people they believe won’t immediately be marked as missing…Jill Bauer, Rashida Jones, Ronna Gradus - Edited

The Pro-Rape Coalition (#543)

Here’s another article on the prohibitionist documentary Hot Girls Wanted, featuring quotes from my friends Endza and Mistress Matisse:

The documentary Hot Girls Wanted, an expose of the world of amateur porn produced by Parks and Recreation star Rashida Jones, has rattled some sex workers…who feel the film is a negative and inaccurate portrayal of the industry…”Hot Girls Wanted was…very obviously planned to fulfill an agenda…to make the sex industry look bad,” said writer and activist Mistress Matisse…Jones has been criticized further for comments she made while promoting the film…referring to porn as a negative experience for actresses that “aren’t getting any joy from it”…”What I and other sex workers would like is realistic coverage of our industry,” said Endza, a college student and actress in BDSM porn films…

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