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Posts Tagged ‘brothels’

It is…easier to characterize sex work activists as traffickers and pimps than what they really are: vulnerable women advocating for themselves within a system that is set up to marginalize and dehumanize them.  –  Alana Massey

Amsterdam

What the fuck is this patronizing bullshit?

Amsterdam may open a brothel where fifty women will get a chance to do their work without pimps. The municipality proposes five buildings with a total of 19 windows available…A feasibility study has been launched to see what all is involved in a prostitution business that is run by prostitutes. The municipality believes that a company which sex workers themselves are responsible for the affairs, will contribute to a prostitution industry with good working conditions without abuses…

If Dutch politicians would stop mistaking their masturbatory fantasies for reality, they’d know that most prostitutes already run their businesses without the dubious “help” of pimps or politicians.

Real People Bella Robinson

Here’s a good profile of Bella Robinson, written by fellow activist Tara Burns:

Bella Robinson entered the sex industry as a homeless 18-year-old fleeing an abusive marriage that had rescued her from the foster care system.  She’s exactly the sort of “victim” for whom sex trafficking laws were invented.  But Robinson—now a human rights activist who has been a hooker (her preferred term) for 30 years—doesn’t think of herself as a victim of the sex industry.  She says she’s been sex trafficked by the state and victimized by laws intended to help people like her…

One Size Fits All

Because Shazam!

51-year-old Robert Edward Neves, an American National arrested in the Philippines, will face trial for [dating] a 17-year-old [woman]…Neves is also being charged with [sex trafficking]…it is illegal for any person…to keep or have in their company a minor which is 12 years or under – or who is 10 years or more his junior in any public place…The [young woman said she]…and Neves…met in an online date site…eventually becoming lovers…after they met in person…

Follow the Leader

Costumed hooligans with titles like “officer” abduct and abuse people in much the same way every day:

A 6-year-old boy in Missouri endured an emotional four-hour staged kidnapping because his family thought he was being too nice to people he didn’t know…the boy’s mother, grandmother, aunt and a co-worker of the aunt…have been charged with kidnapping and other felonies…the boy was lured…into a pickup after getting off his school bus, tied up, threatened with a gun, taken to a basement where his pants were removed, and told he could be sold into sex slavery…that he would never “see his mommy again,” and he would be “nailed to the wall of a shed”…[he was bound] in the basement for some time before he was unbound and…lectured…about stranger danger…

Uncommon Sense

Ticino has always been considered a haven of the Swiss sex industry.  Dozens of Italian sex workers, both women and men – regularly commute…there…roughly 600 registered sex workers [work] in Ticino out of a total population of 340,000 residents…But…the local government is trying to push through a new law aimed at cracking down on unregulated prostitution by confining the oldest trade to just licensed brothels, apartments and authorised sex districts…

Umpteen Thousand People Can’t Be Wrong

Dear clergymen:  STOP STICKING YOUR DAMNED NOSES INTO OUR BUSINESS.  Love, sex workers everywhere.

Representatives of the Church of Scotland have joined other churches and faith groups, including Catholics, Anglicans, Muslims, Sikhs, Quakers and the Free Church, in urging the First Minister to…follow the kind of prostitution law adopted in Nordic countries…Sex worker-led charity Scot-Pep said laws criminalising the buyer exposed sex workers to HIV and violence and had been rejected by UNAIDS, the World Health Organisation and Human Rights Watch…a Swedish report on the issue published this week had concluded that the law made sex workers more vulnerable.  Fiona Gilbertson…of Scot-Pep…said…”This is clearly a subject about which the Church has been misinformed, and I would invite them…to read the evidence and to speak to sex workers before proceeding any further with this campaign…”

Here’s my friend Laura Lee on the subject.

The Last Shall Be First

A bill…in the Florida Legislature…would make it a crime for transgender people to use single-sex public facilities…including restrooms…that correspond with their gender identity.  Violators would be [subject to]…a year in jail or a $1,000 fine.  The bill would also empower people in a…restroom during any “unlawful entry” to sue the alleged interloper and owner of the facility…single-sex facilities…would be restricted to those with a corresponding “biological sex…at birth”…

Yellow Fever

Lauren HershMost of this reads like a script for a really lurid TV cop show, because reporters nowadays believe everything cops tell them as though it were engraved on stone tablets.  There’s also infantilization of young people, agency denial, bogus statistics, conflation of all “missing child” cases with stranger abduction and all stranger abduction with “sex trafficking”, the evocation of imaginary “criminal gangs”, pro-criminalization propaganda and a special guest appearance by the vile Lauren Hersh, the prohibitionist who was a prosecutor until she was forced out in disgrace for railroading two innocent men for rape.

Policing for Profit 

Here’s another prohibitionist badge-licker who is so busy wanking to his fantasies of “slave ships” that he is unable to comprehend that expanded state power to steal private property will eventually come back to bite him:

Tim Heffer [fantasizes] so strongly that sex [work] is…slavery that he compares the cars…owned by [clients] to slave ships…he testified in support of HB 1558, which would allow [cops to steal]…the cars and money of people arrested for soliciting a prostitute, even if they are never convicted.  “Rather than one large ship, they’re smaller vessels…we need to take these ships away from traffickers and buyers”…

Rough Trade (#339)

Who else but a sociopath could “appear to be in disbelief” when he is convicted for the same kind of rape he’s been convicted for at least twice before?

Akis Livas, 52, appeared to be in disbelief when his lawyer explained to him that he would be locked up for…[booking a sex worker] for four hours, and [bringing] an envelope stuffed with paper which he pretended was the $850 to pay her.  The woman said when she discovered there was no money, she became scared…she has suffered from a lack of trust in others and [is] still receiving counselling…Livas continued to minimise his responsibility and had not shown remorse…

Shame, Shame

A mugshot…is a photo designed to tell the state’s side of a story.  The subject of the photo, taken at one of the lowest points in their life, has no voice, but the language of the form – the unflattering bright light, the drab background, the name and prisoner ID at the bottom – tells us we are looking at a “criminal”.  With the internet, that “we” has expanded to the far reaches of the globe…before the subject can mount a defense, a 1,000-word photo pronouncing their guilt may have already gone viral.  Stacking the deck in favor of the already advantaged police, the photos discourage empathy in favor of judgment…this humiliation becomes just another manifestation of punishment…The press partakes readily in this ritual debasement, the most respectable of media outlets eagerly distributing the state’s unflattering photos, of people who have yet to be convicted of anything, on the front page and on the evening news and on dedicated websites that feature nothing but mugshots…

Uncommon Sense (TW3 #420)

After months of negotiations, [German politicians]…agreed the final details of a new law governing sex work…but prostitutes say it isn’t fit for [the] purpose…Undine de Rivière…[of the] sex workers’ union BeSD…[said] the rule requiring sex workers to be registered with the authorities…was unacceptable…[as is] requiring prostitutes to have a doctor’s note…while sex workers are happy to discuss measures that can help them practice their profession and maintain their health, they want them on their terms…

Wise Investment (TW3 #440)

Much more of this, please:

A metro Atlanta dominatrix…is suing a…private investigator for secretly filming their…session…Lakenya Monfort…contends Reginald Walker…posed as…[a] client…[and used a] hidden…video-camera to record the session without Monfort’s knowledge…[to use] as evidence against Monfort in her child-custody case…Georgia law…prohibits secretly…video-recording someone in a place where he or she has a reasonable expectation of privacy…

The Notorious Badge (#452) 

50 shades of clusterfuck:

…the press tour for…50 Shades of Grey [is] now firmly established as among the most disastrous of the past decade…The most glaring problem…is [that]…romantic leads Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan do not like each other…A routine visit to TODAY takes on the excruciating air of a court-ordered couples therapy session…It is not difficult to picture Dornan and Johnson luring one another into a “Red Room of Pain.”  It stretches the capacity of the imagination to think that both would emerge alive…[both]…routinely display discomfort…when talking about sex…Dornan [said]…”I had to do stuff to her that I’d never choose to do to a woman…The first day…was kind of an out-of-body experience…I’m like, ‘What the fuck is happening?  I’m a dad.  What?’…

The way Dornan repeatedly mentions his child, as if to provide a ward against evil, is fascinating in a Victorian kind of way.

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Any politician or law enforcement agent who believes that criminalizing both suppliers and buyers of sex will improve the safety of sex workers and their clients is delusional.  –  Charles Hill

He or She?

A new study scheduled for publication in Psychological Science provides strong evidence that trans children’s understanding of their own gender identities is indistinguishable from that of their…cisgender…peers…running counter to common assumptions that trans kids are “pretending” or “confused” about their gender…the researchers assigned the same set of tasks to 32 trans children, 18 of their siblings, and 32 nontrans children, all aged 5-12…”Across all these tasks, across the more and the less controllable measures of gender development, our transgender participants look just like other kids, but in the direction of their gender identity rather than their sex assigned at birth”…

In other words, all kids who identified as female performed similarly to each other on the tests whether they were biologically female or not, and all the kids who identified as male performed more like each other than like the girls.

See How Well It Works?Cuckoo Clock McCain

“Cuckoo Clock” McCain ignores the collapse of the “gypsy whores” myth, insisting that the reason the Lost Tribe of Gomorrah failed to materialize in her backyard was because of her own hysteria:

“The Super Bowl, unfortunately, happens to be the largest human trafficking venue on the planet,” said Cindy McCain…”It’s gone on for decades unchecked,” said [FBI] Agent George Steuer…”When Arizona was awarded the Super Bowl, we had no human trafficking legislation on our books”…McCain said.  “Unless we were going to be racked with a dangerous Super Bowl, we had to get to work.”  It has worked, according to authorities…[though] there is no empirical evidence of an increase in trafficking during the Super Bowl, Steuer [pretends without presenting evidence that] his office has seen a “definite uptick in activity”…

Profound Mental Disabilities

Usually, it’s being submissive that they pretend is a mental illness:

…a 17-year-old girl…[was] in a car accident in 2008, [started] working as a dominatrix five years later, and a B.C. Supreme Court judge [decided] that…whipping people for a living…[instead] of “being a filmmaker or actress…showed a lack of ‘correct thinking’ and was proof she’d taken an unnecessary risk due to a loss of cognitive function from a moderate traumatic brain injury”…

Welcome To Our World (The Hits Keep Coming)

It never stops with whores:

Anyone helping homeless people by offering them travel money, shelter or food could face up to a year in prison…in Norway…Vidar Brien-Karlsen, Secretary of State…said it was necessary…as the police needed authority to crack down on those running begging networks as an organised business…

Can you smell the “trafficking” filth?

The Widening Gyre 

The last part of this item degenerates into “Swedish model” cheerleading, believe it or not:  “A [Utah politician] wants to give convicted child sex traffickers the…death penalty…He said he’s been working on bills to target prostitution…for years…”  And this barely-comprehensible muddle is as stupid as anything we’ve ever seen under this heading:

For the past three weeks…an R-storm warning has been in effect.  R-storm is a new multi-jurisdictional prostitution and sex trafficking operation…the women involved are not only at risk legally, they now face new risks on the street as guinea pigs for drugs dealers…”to test their products”…It’s that connection to other crimes…that R-storm is trying to fight…R-storm says…If you see behavior that looks suspicious, call your local police.

Puerile cop nomenclature, agency denial, demonization, the gateway myth, police-state propaganda…all in a few sentences!

Checklist 

The utterly ridiculous idea that a “sex buyer” is a particular kind of man that one can be “trained” to spot derives from the even more ludicrous notion that paying for sex is unusual and pathological:

One of Sweden’s largest hotel chains…has announced additional training for staff as part of a government initiative to counter prostitution in the hospitality industry…including watching an educational video designed to help them better identify clues that suggest plans to buy or sell sex…“It is incredibly important that there won’t be a witch hunt on individual customers”…[a hotel manager lied before advising]…all staff to call police immediately if they suspected prostitution…

Frequently Told Lies

The English Collective of Prostitutes has put out another debunking of prohibitionist myths; the more of these we see, the better.

Traffic Circle

It’s so good to see articles like this appearing in regular newspapers, especially when they quote me:

When media reports use the term “sex slave,” it sensationalizes rape and abduction…campaigns [against]…sex trafficking…end up making life more difficult and dangerous for sex workers…[because they] don’t differentiate between those who chose sex work versus those who are coerced…Take it from Maggie McNeill, a former sex worker who is now an activist and blogger.  She talks about how much of the data about…sex trafficking might be unreliable and how confounding the idea that all sex work is sex trafficking is problematic.  In an interview with Reason.com, McNeill says that until sex work is decriminalized, it’s difficult to have any real idea of how many sex workers are choosing the work versus needing to versus being forced into it.  Not having reliable data hasn’t stopped countless…organizations from bold…unsupported claims…

Property of the State Purvi Patel

Purvi Patel…faces two different, and contradictory, charges after suffering a premature delivery and seeking medical care.  The story…[gives] a frightening look of what’s to come as increasingly draconian abortion restrictions force pregnant people to turn to other, sometimes illegal and often dangerous, means…Patel went to an emergency room in…Indiana…for vaginal bleeding…prosecutors allege…she told staff she believed she was roughly two months pregnant and miscarried the fetus at home…Prosecutors initially charged Patel with felony neglect of a dependent, a class A felony that carries with it a 50-year prison sentence.  But in order to convict Patel with felony neglect, prosecutors must be able to prove the fetus she delivered was born alive…That’s why they have also charged Patel with feticide…

Vendetta (#432)

Swanee Hunt’s private pogrom has been moved up to January so cops can vomit out the lie that it has something to do with the Super Bowl:

A national coalition of local law enforcement agencies conducted a sting operation that led to the arrests of 570 would-be sex buyers…and 23 pimps or traffickers, Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced…The ninth “National Day of Johns Arrests” ran for approximately two weeks, from January 15 through February 1…

Who but a government functionary would see nothing wrong with calling a two-week period a “day”?  The article boasts that the program has “grown rapidly”, and here’s why: “$341,330 in minimum fines…221 cars towed/forfeited…

Something Rotten in Sweden (#445)

Professor Hill strikes again:

…The last people that clients and/or sex workers who have been beaten, robbed, threatened, stalked or raped are going to go to are law enforcement agents…because [the latter] are actively seeking to arrest them and (in the case of clients) seize their assets…there is no reliable data to suggest that more than a small minority of sex workers are coerced or “trafficked”.  The often cited “statistics” on trafficking in sex work do not stand up under scrutiny and are systematically misquoted and exaggerated by NGOs and other interested groups in order to elicit funding and political support for…the abolition of all sex work for moral reasons.  One misleading statistic that keeps making the rounds is the claim that there are 300,000 minors being trafficked for sex in the United States…This figure is mathematically implausible since it represents 1 in every 50 girls in the US between the ages of 12 and 18…[such] estimates have been widely criticized as inflated and absurd…

Safe Targets (#452)

Terra [sic] Burns…is…a graduate student who studies the sex industry, and…[an activist] with…Community United for Safety and Protection, which opposes [bad] human trafficking laws…“Most of the people [charged]…have been women who have been working together”…says Burns….[who] thinks the law should be amended so those who work in the sex industry of their own volition are not…entrapped by [cops]…Burns launched a “Tilt” crowdfunding campaign three weeks ago…to raise $1,500 to pay for Burns to live out of a camper in Juneau for a month…[as] a…lobbyist…[a prohibitionist politician lied that an anti-whore law]…“doesn’t touch…voluntary sex workers in any way, shape, or form”…

Secret Squirrel (#509)

Note the starkly different tone when the stalker is a woman:

I can’t remember exactly when I decided to start Geotagging my partner…It wasn’t that I didn’t trust him; I just wanted to build on that trust with cold hard evidence.  Friends who think my behaviour is creepy, controlling or borderline obsessive have pointed out that just because you know where someone is doesn’t mean they are not in that place cheating on you.  That’s true, but this is something which means he’d have a harder time getting away with it…This isn’t…invading his privacy…If he had refused to use it, I would only presume he had something to hide…

The More the Better (#509)

Cracked continues its run of excellent pro-sex worker articles with “5 Ways Being a Legal Prostitute Is Weirder Than You Think“:

We didn’t expect to become the Internet’s primary source for insider perspectives on sex workers, but life is funny that way.  In our quest to understand society’s weird love/hate relationships with prostitutes, we’ve talked to those working outside the law and the few who ply their trade in legal brothels, and the consistent theme seems to be that it can be an awful job, but only because polite society insists on making it awfula…legal brothel worker…walked us through some of the bizarre rules, regulations, and everyday bullshit that pervades every aspect of their lives.  It really made it clearer than ever that the concept of someone accepting money for sex just scares the shit out of people…

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The enormous variations in prostitutes’ life stories make it impossible to fit them in binary categories like “forced” and “voluntary”.  –  Linda Duits

The Rescuers

The youth of the Christian Union conducted a demonstration…in the Red Light District, but the prostitutes wanted nothing to do with it…Mariska Majoor of PROUD, the sex workers’ union…[said] “The Christian fundamentalists make customers afraid while the…women in the Wallen just want to work”…PROUD performed a counteraction to make it clear that sex workers do not need to be saved by Christian fundamentalists…

Dirty Amateurs

Cruising for sex on Craigslist personal ads resulted in a 15.9 percent increase in HIV infections after the website entered various U.S. markets, according to a recent study by the University of Minnesota …Jason Chan…found that HIV incidence began to increase about a year after Craigslist entered a market, then climbed through the study period…the association…occurred only with respect to personal ads — not professional escort services.  Chan figures that sex workers took more precautions than people seeking sex in a social context…

Scapegoats 

Universal criminality in action.  Can’t prove a charge?  Just add another in mid-trial that you don’t actually have to prove:

A factory worker has been jailed for four years after he was cleared of having sex with a Shetland pony but convicted of outraging public decency.  Alan Barnfield was…spotted putting something around the neck of the…pony and leading it and another horse to the darkened end of the paddock.  Worried residents called police and he was found “sweating profusely and smelling strongly of horses”…the outraging public decency charge was only added halfway through the trial [because] it…carried an unlimited sentence whereas the main charge…[only] carries a two-year maximum.  The second charge was added when lawyers…realised that…[they would]  actually [have]…to…prove…[the main charge]…

Too Young To Know

Anyone who whose memory extends back to a time earlier than the age of eighteen should know that the doctrine of “sexualization” is total bullshit, yet people believe it anyway.  Will Matheson argues that since humans are naturally sexual, the actual problem is what we might call “Puritanization”, the societal suppression of those healthy, natural urges.  It’s a good essay, and I’m not just saying that because he quotes me right below Carl Sagan.

Whatever They Need To Say

This cannot be repeated too many times:

One of Amsterdam’s most iconic landmarks is being torn down.  The lights have been switched off in the famous Red Light District…the city’s politicians…have undertaken a massive gentrification project under the guise of rescuing women from the sex trade.  Project 1012 is…buying up brothels with public funds [and] re-selling the realty to “high-grade” enterprises:  dining, design and fashion…It was then Alderman Lodewijk Asscher…who managed to “sell” the project…[by pretending] that sex work is inextricably bound up with exploitation, oppression and human trafficking…This…cannot be substantiated with scientific data…Project 1012 has never been about the faith of sex workers, but about…ownership…of valuable real estate…That’s why brothel owners had to leave, despite the fact they were never charged with actual crimes, let alone convicted.  They merely needed to be branded as social pariahs…

Buried Truth 

Surprising no one:

A preacher who claimed that Starbucks flavour their coffees with semen has admitted that he…has been tempted himself by the gay lifestyle.  “Absolutely, no doubt about it.  I spent three and a half years in prison…I was tempted, but I didn’t yield to temptation…”

The Pygmalion Fallacy (#137) Shockspot

A hi-tech “teledildonics” contraption…lets lonely men thrust into an artificial vagina – and have a robot dildo penetrate webcam girls in time to their thrusts…They’ll have to be quite brave – the Shockspot produces 18lb of thrust…

What could possibly go wrong?

Paint By Numbers

“Fighting sex trafficking” by standing on lawns is so passé:

A group dedicated to saving young women from forced prostitution…[stood around on] Interstate-5 off-ramps for hours in the rain.  Interstate 5 is…where [prohibitionists pretend truckloads of]…sex trafficking victims are taken from Washington to Mexico.  A group of people in Portland…did something about it…[by standing around holding] bright pink signs…

Stupor Bowl

I think we can safely close the lid on the coffin of the “gypsy whores” myth; “Video Vigilante” Brian Bates (no friend of sex workers) is celebrating its demise, and a Phoenix criminal defense attorney mocked it with a poem which also lampooned cops and crusading prosecutors:

‘Twas the night before the Superbowl, when all through the state,
Not a hooker was stirring, who wasn’t a fake;
The cops posted their escort ads on the internet with care,
In hopes that potential Johns soon would surf there;

The police were nestled all smug on their hotel room beds,
While visions of entrapped soon-to-be sex offenders danced in their heads…

…The wrinkles on the face of the undercover cop
Gave the look of old age even with the tube top,
When, what to the client’s disbelieving eyes should appear,
But a detective with cuffs, claiming her age should’ve been clear…

Mind Over Matter

Nobody has any damn business telling people that their reasons for having sex are “wrong”:

Rashida Jones doesn’t think women are deriving pleasure from amateur porn.  “It’s performative, women aren’t feeling joy from it,” Jones said…while promoting Hot Girls Wanted, a documentary she produced on the amateur porn industry…”It’s fulfilling a male fantasy…what is the real cost to your soul and to your psyche?”

Yes, she thinks having sex can damage one’s soul.  But neofeminism isn’t a religion, noooooooo.

Choke Point choke point diagram

In what seems to be a retreat from its Operation Choke Point initiative, the FDIC has…[instructed] banks to judge their relationships with their customers on a case-by-case basis, rather than refusing to provide…services to entire categories of industries…[even] leading banks to close the…accounts of many churches…[because] a large percentage of [their] contributions [are] in cash…The Washington Times…argues that [this] effectively ends Operation Choke Point…

The Public Eye (#423)

This author is too deeply soaked in prohibitionist thinking to write a proper story, but the words of the sex workers shine through anyway:

…the critically acclaimed Sex Workers’ Opera…[was] scripted…to…speak out against…criminalisation…UK…policies are…geared towards rescuing “sex slaves”…but for…sex workers…there is nothing more terrifying than the idea of “being rescued”…In one skit, the cast compares [Swedish model proponents] to naïve fishermen, who tell others to go and fish in safer seas where there are, in fact, no fish…

A Whore in Church (#425)

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

A group of nuns and residents who live near a west suburban strip joint…[alleged] prostitution and liquor law violations…at the club, which they…have been seeking to shut down…the Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo and others [now] claim Club Allure…promotes and allows certain touching and “high friction rubbing” that could be considered prostitution…They also say the club…violates…liquor laws by serving alcohol in close proximity to the nuns’ convent…

Anatomy of a Boondoggle (#439)

Good riddance to bad rubbish:

A private investigator who gets paid by councils to have undercover sex inside illegal brothels has been fired after withholding information about a prostitute whom he met on a job…the investigator was accused…by [prohibitionist NGO] Brothel Busters…of having “deliberately omitted” important details…to…protect…an illegal sex worker, with whom he had become “enchanted”…

Divided We Fall (#445) Malooka Aldlouah

Prostitution charges are such a convenient bludgeon against minorities:

A court in Cairo has sentenced a 25-year-old transwoman named Malooka Aldlouah to six years in prison under a law that criminalizes “debauchery”.  Aldlouah may be the first person sentenced…since an appeals court announced…it would uphold the acquittal of 26 men accused of participating in a “gay sex party”…in December…police [pretended]  that [Aldlouah] had posted “hardcore” videos on YouTube that were intended to advertise sexual services including “sadistic sex”.  But a review of [her] YouTube and Facebook accounts…showed only videos of her dancing clothed…and none had been posted within the past year…

Sex Work is Work (#507)

A group of South African sex worker rights activists have published “A Guide to Respectful Reporting and Writing on Sex Work“, a hefty 4.7 meg compilation which covers everything from recommendations on language and stock photographs to admonitions against outing sex workers.  Given that it’s in English, it shouldn’t be too hard to adapt for American usage.

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In the world of anti-trafficking organizations, money and lies are deeply – perhaps inextricably – tied.  –  Anne Elizabeth Moore

Secret Squirrel

there are growing numbers of women…for whom the opportunities offered by smartphones for tracking and surveillance are nothing short of terrifying…“For women experiencing domestic violence, these technologies can be used to further terrorise and intimidate them,” says Sandra Horley, the chief executive of Refuge…Refuges, whose locations are kept closely guarded for the safety of their users, now often warn women fleeing abuse to check their phones for apps that might be spyware, and to switch off location services before they arrive…Jennifer Perry…of the Digital Trust [said]…“The easiest thing is to access the woman in the cloud.  A man might buy a phone and set it up for his partner to be ‘helpful’.  He knows the username and password.  You have women who don’t even realise they have a cloud account in their smartphone…The man can just sit at his computer and watch everything that happens on the phone”…

We Told You So

Super ally Anne Elizabeth Moore published a long, thorough report on the incredible amount of money “anti-trafficking” organizations make despite their total lack of any sort of quantifiable results:

…Considering their common mythical enemy – the nameless and faceless men portrayed in TV dramas who trade in nubile human girl stock – one would hope anti-trafficking organizations would unite in an effort to be less shady.  With names reliant on metaphors of recovery, light and sanctuary, anti-trafficking groups project an image of transparency.  Yet these groups have shown a remarkable lack of fiscal accountability and organizational consistency…anti-trafficking groups fold, move, restructure and reappear under new names with alarming frequency, making them almost as difficult to track as their supposed foes…

The Sky is Falling!

Great news!  There is no actual crime in Pennsylvania:

Pennsylvania State Police are going undercover to root out potential prostitution arranged through dating websites…Troopers work with vice, computer crimes and neighboring municipal police units to coordinate stings and monitor…“sugar daddy” websites…

Broken Record 

Most parroting of “gypsy whores” myth now contains a disclaimer.*  Note also that the writer slips and says “arrested” rather than “rescued”:

Catholic Charities of Arizona is preparing to serve an increased number of sex-trafficking victims arrested by local police in the days surrounding Super Bowl Sunday…The Phoenix metro area was bracing for a surge in visitors as it got ready to host a triad of large sporting events within an eight-day period.  The NFL’s Pro Bowl and Super Bowl XLIX and the Waste Management Phoenix Open golf tournament were all set to take place there Jan. 25 through Feb. 1…Although firm evidence of a correlation between the Super Bowl and an uptick in prostitution is lacking, a 2014 study by Arizona State University’s School of Social Work found that the game produces conditions that traffickers seek to exploit…

The ASU School of Social Work is nothing but a factory for generating bogus prohibitionist studies; it’s the academic leg of the awful Project ROSE.

*For another modified “gypsy whore” iteration, see “Soap Opera” below.

Soap Opera

First-magnitude fabulist Theresa Flores’ maudlin comedy act, distributing soap bars to fight “pimps” hiding in hotel lavatories, continues:

…the Grosse Pointe Soroptimists…offered [hoteliers]…bars of soap…wrapped in labels that feature the National Human Trafficking Hotline Number…A similar effort is under way this week at motels in Phoenix, in advance of the…Super Bowl.  Special events…provide an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the issue of human trafficking…Theresa Flores, 49…started the S.O.A.P. program…because she thought hard about what might have helped escape her torture…in the early 1980s…new Michigan laws designed to thwart human trafficking…[removes] the statute of limitations for people who were forced into prostitution as minors.  The new law is named the Theresa Flores Act…

Bottleneck

Another demonstration of how regulation of sex work hurts sex workers:

…There are…an estimated 20,000 prostitutes in Greece…of which fewer than 1,000 are…registered…There are brothels (or ‘studios’) where women can register to work legally…Each is granted a licence, issued by the state…There’s a list of…stipulations that must be met before a woman is allowed to work in one of these studios.  She must be over 18; have the right to live and work in Greece; be free from STI’s or other infectious illnesses; not suffer from mental illness or drug addiction; and not have been convicted of homicide, pimping, child porn, trafficking, robbery or blackmail.  Oh, and she must be unmarried, too…the law isn’t stopping married women from working as prostitutes.  It’s simply preventing them from operating in regulated environments and forcing them on to the streets, something which is both illegal and dangerous…

Rhinoceros (#403)

COAST isn’t mentioned here, but this is the same sort of insulting, patronizing bullshit they peddle, pretending that pigs, bureaucrats and other busybodies know more about our profession than we do:

…representatives from Homeland Security met with valley strip club workers to show them what to…look for [in] signs that women are being forced to strip or are underage.  The average age of girls entering the sex trade is 13…It’s something authorities worry could increase in Phoenix leading up to the Super Bowl…

Stupor Bowl

The first few paragraphs of this story look like typical “gypsy whores” idiocy and police puffery, then it makes a sharp turn to the right:

…The Phoenix vice squad’s order and earnest claims by [prohibitionists]…are odd in one very important respect:  Actual empirical evidence fails to support the claim that the Super Bowl is related to a prostitution spike.  “No data actually support the notion that increased sex trafficking accompanies the Super Bowl,” observes Snopes.comThe Village Voice succinctly busted the myth around this time last year…The Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women released a report in 2011 confirming that the “sporting events bring sex slaves” story was a myth…and relied on extremely negative imagery about women…In city after city, there has been no Super Bowl prostitution spike…

O, Canada! (All Traffick, All the Time) sex worker map

Click on the subtitle link above to see what Canadian cops do when they get their hands on information like this:

For two months, women involved in the sex trade in London [Ontario] have been marking places on a map…they’re noting where they live, work, buy drugs, get health care, experience violence, visit social service agencies, spend time and avoid trouble…The final map will be shared with social agencies in London, but not before the women themselves have been asked about their comfort level with the information released…The map will show concentrations of activities, but not identify what any individual woman — all of them anonymous — is doing and where…

Yellow Fever (#426) 

Remember Tenancingo, the Mexican town which was supposedly infested with “pimps” and derived “virtually its entire living from sex trafficking”?  Remember the hundreds of victims, tens of thousands of clients and millions of dollars?  Well, here’s a new story about the prosecution of some of those “pimps” which contains a few clear facts buried in the yellow garbage.  Actual number of “traffickers”?  Two, plus their employees.  Actual number of “victims”?  26.  And what was presented as an ongoing operation ended in 2011.

The Notorious Badge (#452) 

Given that what’s portrayed in 50 Shades isn’t anything like a healthy BDSM relationship, and that there is no sex work in the book, one must wonder what this is about:  “…The movie’s director was determined to make sure the kinky drama was portrayed as realistically as possible so she and [Jamie Dornan] spoke to real-life sex workers to gain an insight into their world…’so that we in no way portrayed it incorrectly’…”

The More the Better (#502)

Cracked appears to be positioning itself as solidly pro-sex worker; the latest is an article entitled “5 Things You Don’t Know About Strippers (Until You Are One)“, written with input from 7 actual strippers, which ends with this:

…we’ve done a few articles on sex workers and porn stars (including a woman who has sex with a ventriloquist dummy on camera) and we keep coming to the same conclusion:

A) The demand for these people’s services is enormous;
B) The vast majority of us partake in some form or another (by consuming porn, if nothing else);
C) They thus fulfill a basic need in a way that the world would sorely miss if they stopped; and
D) We fucking hate them for it.  Like, to the point of violence.

Why? We’re honestly asking. Someone let us know.

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I’m extremely curious about Asian massage parlors; the media portrays these businesses as pure human trafficking operations, in the sense that the girls are essentially indentured servants who are brought to this country in debt and pressed to work off the debt without any hope of actually doing so.  What is the truth of the situation? 

Asian massage parlorThere are several different ways that Asian women come to the US to work; the most common is via family connections, as is the case with restaurants, nail parlors and other Asian-owned businesses.  Some women do indeed borrow heavily to migrate, but the “indentured servitude” aspect is exaggerated and mischaracterized.  First of all, few of them are trapped in the slave-like conditions of police and media wanking fantasies; it’s just that they have debts to pay and want to pay them as soon as possible rather than letting them drag out for years and years as many Americans are wont to do.  Far from being passive “victims” who are “brought” to the US like cargo, these are young women who took stock of their situations at home and decided that moving to the US was worth the debt and hardship.

Next, there is no moral difference between a sex worker taking out a loan to emigrate to a wealthier country and a student taking out tens of thousands of dollars in loans  – except that the former has a guaranteed job and the latter doesn’t.  Here’s another comparison: poor people who take out high-interest “payday loans” because they can’t get better deals from somewhat-less exploitative finance companies or regular banks.  It’s absolutely true that sometimes migrants are tricked into worse deals than they expected, but as anyone with poor credit can tell you the exact same thing is true of American financing deals, which can sometimes result in paying back many times the sum that was borrowed and carry a bewildering load of unfair and excessive fines and penalties.

Lastly, the reason these girls go into debt is that immigration into Western countries is incredibly expensive now, and the reason for that is the “authorities” have erected so many barriers to it; many thousands in fees, bribes, permits, paperwork and other squeeze is required to get into the US, and that money has to come from somewhere.  If US authorities really wanted to “combat human trafficking”, they would remove all artificial barriers to immigration…but that would stop the flow of lovely money to the politicians and corporations who profit from the restriction of international travel for work.  Forget all the nonsense about gangster “traffickers”; these crony capitalists – and the police departments who receive huge “sex trafficking” grants to harass them and rob their businesses – are the real “pimps” who profit from the labor of migrant sex workers.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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It is a somewhat quaint, futile idea that the sex trade, an industry which has continued with hardly a murmur for 20,000 years, will be “ended” by a bill passed through an ineffectual Canadian parliament, but politicians have never had much self-awareness when it comes to the limits of their own power.  –  J.R. Ireland

License to Rape

Jennifer Stelly and her boyfriend Channing Castex were…pulled over for speeding in Brazoria County [Texas] in March  2013.  Castex said he was handcuffed and put into a patrol car after he admitted to a state trooper that he had smoked marijuana.  A female state trooper was called to search Stelly in full view of a dash-mounted camera.  “She started going into my clothing and she penetrated areas that I don’t wish to disclose at this point,” Stelly said.  “I was scared.  I was violated.  I didn’t know what to do”…the full, invasive cavity search happened on a busy freeway as people sped by…the same trooper [was] involved in [lawsuits over] two [other] roadside cavity searches two years ago…

I Told You So

Cowboys4Angels is at it again, trying to convince the world that their male escorts only have female clients; the “journalist” who wrote this fluff piece apparently didn’t do enough research to discover that they had to pay women to pretend to be clients on TV.  But now agency owner Garren James also wants us to believe the “time and companionship” dodge, which at least in this case is probably closer to the truth.

They Just Don’t Get It (May Updates) 

St. Louis cops are trying to convince politicians that knife-wielding hookers who need to be gunned down in the street are among “the risks officers face every day”.  I am not making this up.

The More the Better

This article in Cracked entitled “5 Ways Life as a Prostitute is Nothing Like You Expect” is nothing like perfect, and in some places it’s grating.  But the reporter troubled himself to interview five actual sex workers for the piece, which is something American non-humor media can’t seem to manage.

Japanese Prostitution (#346)

preparations for the upcoming Olympics Games in Tokyo include cleaning up red-light districts…“Nowadays, for job interviews at sex clubs, nine out of 10 women will be refused,” says “pink” writer Taizo Ebina…Such selectivity is due to a decrease in number of such businesses as the city attempts to sharpen its image prior to the arrival of hundreds of thousands of tourists in 2020…Tokyo had 847 “fashion health” joints…in 2007.  Six years later, there were 813.  Also experiencing declines over the same period were soapland bathhouses (1,239 to 1,218), adult-goods shops (340 to 232) and “encounter” coffee shops…

Something Rotten in Sweden (#445)

It’s a good sign when a blog post debunking prohibitionist mythology makes it into the national media:

…Charles Hill, a business school professor…starts from the increasingly validated position that most sex workers have personal agency, and haven’t been coerced to pursue their trade.  Dr. Hill suggests that…reducing demand side will [actually] increase supply…conservative aspects of society use morality as a tool to control sexuality, especially that of women, under the guise of providing a social good.  And that the ways in which they exercise these tools consistently puts the weakest members of society at the greatest harm…

A Procrustean Bed (#448)

Here’s Molly Crabapple with the most thorough, revealing look yet at New York’s “sex trafficking” courts:

…[Former sex worker] Love…caught up [with an old friend], hanging out on the corner of Edgewater Road and Lafayette Avenue.  When a car circled the block several times, Love assumed it was an acquaintance.  She waved.  “Hop in,” the man in the car demanded. “I’ve got thirty dollars for a blowjob.”

“OK, officer, have a nice day,” Love shot back.  As she walked away, the man shouted, “You must be a cop.  You’re calling me a cop.”  Love forgot the man, until, as she walked back to the train station, three police officers…arrested Love for prostitution…[she] spent the night in a cell—missing a day of classes.  The whole process took 24 hours…At the pre-trial hearings, Love had become increasingly confused.  Undercover officers are supposed to wear a recording device in order to have proof that solicitation took place.  Since Love never solicited anyone, the police department had no recording to present.  Yet Judge Michels would not throw out the case…when the undercover cop took the stand, Love began to panic.  She’d never seen this guy in her life.  His story was filled with inconsistencies, but the prosecutor later said this only proved he was honest.  The stranger on the stand testified that…Love offered him a $20 blowjob.  For $30, he said, she’d fuck him in the street…

Longtime readers may remember my own experience with the adolescent porn cops pass off as “testimony” in prostitution cases.

A Tale That Grew in the Telling (#449)

It’s bad enough that people think anything in a movie most be true; the new thing seems to be that anything written on a card held up by a po-faced person in a photo must be true:

Original Sin (#501)

I’m really happy to see evangelicals increasingly embarassing themselves with bombastic Bible-thumping anti-harlot rhetoric in support of prohibitionist laws; the more they do it, the more they’ll alienate their neofeminist allies and open the eyes of ordinary people who’ll buy the pseudoscientific crap but not so much the holy rolling.  Here’s a post on the Locust Kings blog which ably takes down both a ridiculously mouth-foaming anti-whore screed in Crisis magazine and the 2006 National Review essay which partially inspired it.

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Dr. Paul Maginn is an Associate Professor of Urban Planning at the University of Western Australia; he is the co-editor and co-author of several chapters in the recently published book (Sub)Urban Sexscapes:  Geographies and Regulation of the Sex Industry.  I asked him to comment on his book and explain why a planner & geographer is so interested in sex work.

Suburban SexscapesAt social events whenever we meet someone new for the first time it can be guaranteed that they will ask, “So, what do you do for a living?”  In the past, my stock response was generally:  “I’m an academic…an urban planner”!  The stock replies to this usually range from:  “Oh! What does that mean?” to “Oh, that’s nice! I have to go now because there’s my friend over there”.  You see, being an academic doesn’t seem to capture too many non-academic peoples’ attention.  So nowadays, when I’m asked what I do for a living I say:  “I’ll give you three guesses”.  I do this because it’s a good way to sustain conversation, it can be fun, and it’s a way of testing people’s perception of oneself.

Invariably, posing this question to people seems to immediately get their imaginations racing; it’s something of a “loaded” question, after all.  Hence, people start to think that you do something weird, exciting, dangerous or risqué for a living.  Whilst I was in my hometown of Belfast, Northern Ireland, in July 2013 I had the pleasure of meeting up with activist Laura Lee, who was on tour at the time.  We were sitting outside a well-known bar having a drink when a woman and her adult nephew, out celebrating the latter’s birthday, asked if they could sit at our table.  Of course, being sociable creatures we said, “Sure, no problems!  But you may want to avert your ears because of our conversation”.  They laughed and insisted that they were big enough not to be offended by whatever we were discussing.

Sure enough, this being Belfast, the nephew turned to us shortly after sitting down and said: “So what do yous’ do for a living?”  Laura and I looked at one another, smirked and replied:  “We’ll give you three guesses!”  Then without skipping a beat Laura replied in her Dublin burr:  “I’m a professional dominatrix!”  The nephew was dumbfounded, even more so when Laura presented him with her business card.  He excitedly asked if he could keep the card, adding quickly, “Not that I want to book you or anything”.  Then he looked me up and down and asked, “Are you in porn?”  Laura Lee can testify on a Sisters of Mercy bible that this actually happened!  I replied:  “Close, but no cigar.  I’m not in porn.  But, I’m into porn!”  I qualified this by explaining that I was an academic planner who researched the geographies and regulation of the sex industry and was working on a book on the subject.

So, what do planners and planning have to do with the sex industry? When commercial forms of sex – street- or brothel-based sex work; adult entertainment (e.g. stripping, lap-dancing or pornography); BDSM services; and sex shops, novelty stores or erotic boutiques – manifest they require spaces or premises to operate from.  This is where planning and zoning come into play.  Put simply, planning is concerned with trying to create “orderly” spaces by ensuring that there is a place for everything, and that everything is in its place via zoning.  Planners basically use rationality and technical skills to ascertain whether or not certain land-uses should permitted; however, when commercial sex premises are presented for planning/zoning approval they are often hijacked and held for political and moral ransom by politicians and others who often vehemently object to such proposals, even when such land-uses are perfectly legal.

It is this politicisation of planning and the wider politics and political rhetoric that tend to surround commercial sex industry activities that particularly interest me as an academic.  I’ve done some work looking at how state politicians in Western Australia (WA) have framed sex work in the wake of proposals to introduce legislation to regulate street- and brothel-based sex work.  In short, the political debates here in WA (and elsewhere in Australia for that matter) tend to be informed and dominated by moral arguments as opposed to evidence.  The same also applies to Northern Ireland, which recently passed the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Bill.  This Bill, when it finally receives Royal Assent, will see the introduction of the so-called Swedish Model of regulation of sex work.

There has been a fervent (some might say unhealthy) over-interest by governments, certain religious organisations and some branches of the feminist movement, in the sex lives of citizens.  Such over-interest has spurred the introduction (or efforts to introduce) legislation designed to exclude sex shops, curtail the number of strip clubs, prevent people from downloading “extreme porn” and criminalising the purchaser of sex services.  I am not suggesting for one minute that there should be no regulation of the different sectors of the sex industry, and neither do the various sex workers I know.  But recent efforts to regulate different forms of sex work are akin to using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.  It also seems fairly clear from observing proceedings in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Canada, for example, that politicians have little regard for the nuanced evidence on sex work and the “Swedish model”. I mean, who needs evidence when you have blind faith on your side?

Moreover, they seem to have contempt for the real experts in the field – sex workers – and a fixation that sex work is populated only by “fallen women” in need of “rescue”.  But sex work is a highly complex form of labour that takes places in a variety of spaces – streets, cars, bars, hotels, casinos, brothels, houses/apartments and the internet – and involves people who identify as female, male transgender and intersectional, who are straight, queer and bisexual, and who come from a range of nationalities and ethnic backgrounds.  Whilst sex is obviously a key facet of the transactional relationship between sex workers and clients, there is much more to sex work than just sex.

If governments were sincere about reducing harm to sex workers, their efforts would be better placed on protecting the human and workplace rights of sex workers.  As we know, banning, prohibiting or over-taxing particular goods and services (e.g. alcohol, tobacco, drugs, pornography and diesel) merely creates alternative unregulated markets which are often controlled by criminal elements; they thus represent a loss of tax revenue for governments and pose a higher risk to people (the very thing that governments claim they want to reduce).  Government regulation of the sex industry needs to be measured, pragmatic and evidence-based; policies premised on stereotypes, religious beliefs and moral superiority do more harm than good and result in unintended consequences.

So, next time you’re at a party, a wedding, Bar Mitzvah or funeral and you happen to bump into an urban planner why not say to them:  “Let’s talk about sex”?  I’m sure you’ll make their day, but be sure to clarify what you mean if you want to avoid them thinking that you’re coming on to them. 

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