Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Case Study’

The cops are the villains of this story, not the heroes.  –  Elizabeth N. Brown

Torture Chamber 

It’s unusual to see them actually use the word “rape” in this context:

A deputy jailer at Hardin County [Kentucky] jail has been arrested after…inmate Amanda Chambers [reported] that Deputy Stephen Renfrow provided her with tobacco dip in exchange for sex…He was arrested on Friday and is facing charges for rape, promoting contraband, and official misconduct…

If it was a true “exchange” as the story suggests, why did Chambers report him, and why the charge of rape?  It seems more likely he raped her and then gave her the tobacco in an attempt to bribe her into silence.

Case Study

Is it sexist of me to wonder why men seem to be pearl-clutching even more than women these days?

There are two brothels operating…[in an apartment building]…each containing several “sex workers”.  They advertise their services openly on websites.  Clients pick a woman from a menu of hundreds and make a phone call to get directions…A garda familiar with the case confirms there are several brothels operating out of apartment complexes in the area, as well as “pop-up” brothels in the local hotel.  He says there is little that can be done unless they witness cash been handed over…Street prostitution still exists but the vast majority of prostitution is now advertised on the internet.  Ruth Breslin of Ruhama, an organisation [that persecutes sex workers]…estimates there are no more than 70 prostitutes working on the streets in Dublin…“Women are moved around an awful lot in the indoor trade because the market is all about new girls. Buyers are often not interested in going back to the same woman,” Breslin says…

Scare quotes for a job title.  Advertising being described as “open” as though there were another way for it to be effective.  Can you imagine a site featuring ads for physicians or lawyers being described as a “menu”?  Ruhama interviewed instead of sex workers.  Women described as passive objects who “are moved” rather than being able to move themselves. And it goes on from there…

Moving Pictures 

Salon’s definition of “everyone” excludes all people who actually know anything about sex work, or have critical thinking skills and access to Google:

“It’s all a lie. It’s all a big lie.”  That’s how director Josie Swantek Heitz, her face stunned and expressionless as she leans against a wall, informs director/cinematographer Dave Adams that they have been hoodwinked.  This discovery occurs moments into the intro of their film The Wrong Light…[first intended to be a fakumentary] about trafficked girls in the stateless Hill Tribe communities that border Northern Thailand.  After this initial confusion…we are suddenly plunged headlong into the world of Mickey Choothesa and COSA (Children’s Organization of Southeast Asia), a [rescue profiteering] organization…A half hour in, the film flips to include an intricately woven fiction that fooled everyone, including both filmmakers, the producers, a slew of international donors, a parade of interns, and even foreign correspondent Adam Ramsey…It is as though the [fantasy] of witnessing pretty girls being trafficked…[turns moralists on so much that they]…open…their…wallets without further investigation…

Readers with long memories will remember that I debunked COSA in this blog five and a half years ago.

Theatrics (#549)

People who can’t admit their kinks unknowingly display them to the world:

The group ‘Yet She Rise’ hopes people will see their human trafficking displays this weekend in [Chicago’s] Wicker Park and feel uncomfortable…there is a box with two child actors inside it, tape over their mouths and wrists.  “In a box, you know, roped and tied, with tape across their mouth, just to show how [sexy], and how [arousing], this situation is,” sa[livate]d Lamar Flowers, who’s with the organization…

This is at least the fourth iteration we’ve seen of this same inane stunt.

The Widening Gyre (#663)

Italy sends its navy to stop brown people from coming into the country; everyone pretends it isn’t racist:

Italy’s prime minister, Paolo Gentiloni…announced…that the Italian navy would be patrolling with Libyan ships just off the Libyan coastline…to curb human trafficking and [turn] migrants back…to Libya…Italy has already threatened to stop allowing boats carrying rescued migrants to dock in Italian ports…Most of the migrants are from African countries, and many try to travel on to France…However, the border is being policed by French officials.  Migrants who are caught are sent back to Italy.  Austria has announced that it too will close its border with Italy if the number of migrants starts to rise…The interior ministry has…announced that it will reinforce repatriation programs…

“Repatriation” is the currently-fashionable euphemism for “deportation”.

Power Play (#701)

The only part of this I disagree strongly with is Petro’s conciliatory statement that “There are lots of good reasons to root for Kamala Harris”:

…Like racism, homophobia, transphobia, and all the rest, casual whorephobia and anti-sex work sentiment and views — even among so-called progressives — is endemic…The latest and most vivid example of this is the growing popularity of superstar Democrat Kamala Harris…[who] has been called a “liberal hero” and a “rising star” in the party…There are lots of good reasons to root for Kamala Harris…But the fact that Harris was an active force behind a campaign that endangered the lives of sex workers makes it understandably difficult for people with experiences in the sex trades to throw her our support…

No, there are no good reasons to root for Harris; she’s a corrupt, self-serving, two-faced demagogue who, in addition to her anti-whore campaigns, participated in political cover-ups and actively campaigned against prison reform because, she claims, California needs the slave labor prisoners are forced to do.  She is a vile, loathsome monster even by the standards of politicians, and that’s saying something.

Devil’s Advocate (#723) 

Your periodic reminder that a child-shaped toaster is still a toaster:

A surge in the number of seizures of child-like sex dolls by border officers has led investigators to identify dozens of previously unknown suspected paedophiles.  The…dolls…are a “relatively new phenomenon” in the UK and should be criminalised, said Hazel Stewart [a sex cop]…those who order them can be prosecuted under a specific charge of importing an indecent or obscene article…[but] it is not illegal to own a child sex doll…Stewart said: “I think it’s got to be through the full range of this criminality, from manufacturer to sale, to import, to possess – the full range.  And we need to make sure it’s future-proofed in case there is the introduction of…sex robots”…

I’m sure you guessed this would merge with the sex robot hysteria.

The War Goes On (#731) 

Prohibitionists just don’t realize how obvious their masturbation to the “pimp” fantasy is, bless their little hearts:

For pimps and prostitutes, gift cards have become a currency to pay for sex ads on Backpage.com, anti-prostitution activists say…Credit card companies [were illegally threatened into cutting off] business with the website two years ago.  People could still buy Backpage ads, but it became more difficult:  They had to mail in checks or use complicated digital currencies like bitcoin.  But now, Backpage has begun accepting gift cards from major retailers…that means a pimp could walk into any local grocery store and pick up a convenient, untraceable way to pay the site to post ads selling women…[prohibitionists publicly masturbate to the fantasy that] Backpage’s new payment system will make it easier to sell vulnerable girls online…

What’s also fascinating is the number of anti-sex women who insist that other women are far too stupid to do anything as simple as pay for an online service by themselves, without an all-powerful male doing it for them.

Too Close To Home (#760)

Liz Brown on the warped thought patterns of Seattle prosecutor Val Richey:

In Seattle, sex must be a “leisure activity” for both parties or it’s nonconsensual, according to…Val Richey—a senior deputy prosecuting attorney for King County…”What you have is someone paying this person essentially to turn a ‘no’ into a ‘yes,'” Richey [said]…”these women, as a leisure activity, are not looking to have sex with 10 guys in a day. They’re doing it for the money.”  By that logic, anyone who wouldn’t perform their job without remuneration is a victim of labor trafficking!  But Richey is “adamant”…that what Korean sex workers…”were doing could not be called consensual because they were being paid”…

Read Full Post »

This is the most disgusting way of profiting from sex workers I’ve ever seen.  –  Felicia Anna

Maggie in the Media 

Two years ago, during a weekend I mentioned in a diary column, I gave an interview to Dr. Heather Branstetter for her recently-published book, Selling Sex in the Silver Valley.  Sadly, the interview didn’t make it into the final text (such are the ways of editing!), but Dr. Branstetter recently published a post about the interview in her blog (in which she says some very lovely and flattering things about me).  Do give it a look, and if the subject intrigues you be sure to buy a copy of the book!

The Notorious Badge

Why does everyone involved in any show about sex work feel compelled to vomit out all kinds of neofeminist nonsense?

The Deuce producers and stars want to draw a [whorearchical] line about the series:  It’s about porn, but is not porn itself.  That means that all of the problems associated with porn — the misogyny, the abuse, the objectification – are featured…as part of the exploration of the topic, not for gratuitous storytelling…co-creator David Simon [bloviated]…“It would be a mistake to look at this and think that we are in any way trafficking in misogynistic imagery or objectification”…As an actress playing one of those objectified women, [Maggie] Gyllenhaal also weighed in…“It should make you consider your position in how sex is commodified”…

But it’s OK when it’s “commodified” by actresses with six-or-seven-figure paychecks, isn’t it Maggie?  It’s just not OK for us lowly three-or-four-figure a pop girls.

Subtle Pimping (#330)

Remember that moronic “escape the pimp” video game? Now there’s a live-action version:

…how about visiting the Red Light District Escape Room, where you have to escape from a window brothel before your “pimp” returns, isn’t that a fun idea?!  Yes, this is now possible in the Red Light District of Amsterdam.  A great way to profit over the existence of prostitutes…plus as as a  bonus you get to increase the stigma of sex workers as victims!…Original Tours & Activities Nederland B.V. is now offering…a fun experience, where you get locked up in a fake window brothel, and you have to “escape” by following the clues in the room within 60 minutes, before your “pimp” comes back.  According to the website the hilarious rating is 8/10, with a difficulty degree of 4 stars and an escape ratio of 63%.  The costs?  Only €14,50 per person, or €12,50 with 13 people or more…

Case Study

Another dumb, sensationalized article, now with added whorearchy:

…Peter Dandos…[has been accused] of operating a brothel…a lot…lately:  protests have been held outside his massage parlour for more than six weeks…Dandos is confused by the protests.  “If they really want to stop something, why don’t they start with the escorts?…if they want to stop something they should start there”…

Too Close To Home (#672)

The fanatically-prohibitionist Seattle Times has once again revisited the takedown of The Review Board, vomiting out the same old cop lies and masturbatory fantasies as they have on the subject for the past 19 months.  Compare this exercise in cop fellation and myth-regurgitation with Liz Brown’s thorough & well-researched piece on the subject (linked in the subtitle above), and then understand the the reporter who prepared this new trash read Liz’s one and completely ignored it, except for the lines she plagiarized without attribution.

Send In the Clowns 

Only another month or so before the “creepy clown” hysteria returns!

A man is accused of drunkenly strolling down a Maine road wearing a black-hooded sweatshirt and a clown mask and brandishing a machete taped to where his arm had been amputated…Corey Berry…was arrested…and charged with criminal threatening…

Checklist (#732)

Clearly, critical thinking skills are not a prerequisite for passing medical school:

As physicians who have treated victims of human trafficking and research this scourge, we believe that this form of severe exploitation is under-recognized in health care settings and live are being lost because of that.  The International Classification of Disease (ICD) codes aim to describe diseases and causes of death and disease.  These codes, which are used for everything from hospital billing to research, establish legitimacy for the conditions that harm and kill people every day.  As the World Health Organization works toward its 11th iteration of these codes, we urge that “victim of human trafficking” be recognized as an official diagnosis…

A medical diagnosis.  Seriously.

The Pro-Rape Coalition (#735) 

Even for the prohibitionist New York Times, this is pretty jaw-dropping; somehow this reporter imagines that going from writing an anti-porn rant to producing two anti-porn documentaries somehow constitutes Rashida Jones “changing her mind about porn”.  The stupidity and colossal ignorance on display here are almost unbelievable.

Bogeymen (#754)

Remember this story the next time you hear pigs oinking about how they “busted” some “pimps”:

Ms Norman, the 70-year-old woman who was arrested because she stayed to try to save the life of a man who had collapsed in the brothel where she was working as a cleaner, was…found guilty of assisting in the management of a brothel…This prosecution sends a signal to sex workers everywhere that the police are more concerned with their targets…than with the value of human life…Ms Norman…got paid £6 an hour…We now wait to see if the police and courts further persecute Ms Norman by trying to take her savings and assets under proceeds of crime law…

Read Full Post »

We have been so brainwashed by talk of trafficking that we imagine we see it everywhere.  –  Lenore Skenazy

Enabling Oppression

It’s hard to get more vile and disgusting than white prohibitionists using the names of dead black icons to support campaigns of oppression that disproportionately affect black people.  Most of this is a typical Julie Bindel smear screed, referring to sex worker rights advocates as “pimps” and “pro-prostitution pressure groups” (Bindel, you may remember, is the one who says Brooke Magnanti and I, along with Amnesty International and a corpse, are the heads of the imaginary “pimp lobby”).  But here’s the money quote, edited for clarity and truth:

…The [prohibitionists fantasize about an imaginary Utopia]…free from prostitution.  Many are keen to campaign for the introduction of a law to criminalise the demand.  “These men [sex buyers] have a comfortable life,” says one of the women, “after they [complete a mundane business transaction] they go back to their homes and their wives.  We want them to be exposed [as people who conduct business transactions]”…”Mandela would understand,” says [one prohibitionist] “I seriously believe that if we had gone to him …he would have [supported police violence against peaceful people having consensual sex]”…

The Notorious Badge

I’d be interested in hearing what actual sex workers think of this show:

Somewhere in the vast terrain between the hooker-as-fairytale-princess fantasy of Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman and the prim, grim Victorian sociology of Stephen Crane’s Maggie: A Woman of the Streets lies Harlots, Hulu’s odd but engrossing new drama about life inside an 18th-century London brothel.  Screenwriter Moira Buffini, one of the five British women who produce, write, and direct Harlots, said in unveiling the project that the goal was “everything from the whore’s-eye view.”  The result is that the women in Harlots are neither glamorous courtesans nor broken flowers, and their depiction is never erotic…

A Narrow View (#25)

Mark Draughn on the hypocrisy of arresting underage sex workers under guise of “helping” them:

Is it really necessary to send cops with guns to forcibly “help” people?  And even if you think it’s necessary to coerce child victims of sex trafficking into accepting social services, can’t you do it without giving them a criminal record?…There are better alternatives. We know this because non-governmental organizations like the Sex Work Outreach Project (SWOP) don’t have arrest powers, and they’ve been doing outreach to sex workers for years…Here in Chicago, the Young Women’s Empowerment Project spent years studying ways to help young women in the sex trade, and they had some useful observations, especially about what they call institutional violence

Profound Ignorance 

This is at least less harmful than the usual ignorance-based sex work “study”, though no less stupid:

To get a feel for what a certain dollar amount can get someone seeking escort services, we averaged 277 images of Las Vegas escorts using face-morphing software and organized them by price point…beauty is not only affected by our personal preferences but is also shaped by our culture…When looking at the women in our composite comparison, the most expensive female escort seems to have more refined features…She also has lighter skin and looks much younger than the woman charging $10 to $99 per hour for her services…

More beautiful escorts are more in demand and can therefore charge more. Gee, who’d have guessed?

Micromanagement

Please, ladies, don’t be so stupid as to give cops evidence they can & will use against you:

Sara Katsanis, a bioethicist at Duke University…was surprised to hear of a program initiated by Dallas [cops] to collect DNA from truck-stop sex workers to solve hypothetical future crimes…Voluntarily give a DNA sample now, the program promised, and if it’s your dead body, at least your family will know.  Can sex workers truly consent when it’s police doing the asking?…The program, which was first proposed in 2007, had done a very small survey and found women universally willing to contribute their DNA with no major concerns.  “So the ethicist [part of me] said, ‘Oh really, no concerns?,’’ recounted Katsanis.  “And who asked?  Oh the police”…So she and a colleague, Jennifer Wagner, went down to Dallas, to talk to the sex workers themselves, without [Porky Pig] in the room…

Case Study

Dysphemisms and gawking abound in UK articles about sex work:

A Fulham brothel operator and head of a London sex empire is facing jail after he admitted a series of crimes including making money from prostitution and human trafficking.  David Archer…pleaded guilty…to running a string of brothels, trafficking women and controlling their profiles on adult websites…Detective Sergeant John Kirby [drooled]…”Archer exploited vulnerable women to build his lucrative empire in the sex industry over a number of years…once he lured the women, they were instructed to pose for explicit photos, and in some cases forced to engage in sexual activity…Neighbours describe seeing women as young as 18 “dancing naked in the garden” before [one] brothel was shut…

Nice While It Lasted

What could possibly go wrong?

Senior council figures have backed plans to give officials the power to dish out £100 [trial-free] fines for drinking, begging and urinating…[the due-process-free penalties are to be euphemistically labeled] Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)…the orders would allow police…and council officers to issue instant £100 fines for anyone [they claim committed] one of several anti-social behaviour offences in the areas…deputy council leader…Clyde Loakes [lied]…“This is not an attack on homeless people…this is not infringing human rights”…A third PSPO, aimed at curbing street prostitution, has also been proposed for the Lea Bridge area of Leyton…

Signs 

This woman calls bruises and rope burns “signs of trafficking”. I call them “signs of a fun evening”:

…the Southwest Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force recently unveiled two training mannequins that exhibit common physical signs of human trafficking, including bruising, rope burns and possessive tattoos, said Cathy Knauf…She said the tattoos are usually not professionally done and say “Daddy” or are a UPC bar code.  “It shows ownership by the trafficker that this is his property,” she said.  She said the task force started collecting money for Freethem Ink, which will pay to have a survivor’s tattoo changed into something beautiful or removed…

Lies Piled on Lies

Nebraska is vying with Washington, Arizona and Florida to be the state which produces the stupidest “sex trafficking” nonsense:

Seven score and 14 years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, a different form of slavery lingers in the United States…human trafficking…ensnares children as young as 13 in the sex industry…Glen Parks [a pig mouthpiece, bloviated while secretly masturbating]…“It’s treating someone like you own them, like they’re an object”…The [pig] who pulls over a suspect transporting three inappropriately dressed and unrelated teenage girls, needs [to lock the girls up]…he said…“We can train motel workers to spot the signs of sex trafficking.  These victims get sick more than most, and must be taken to a clinic or a hospital, where if nurses are trained to spot the signs they can [rat them out]”…Connie Lofgreen, a sex addiction [profiteer] in Omaha, [pearl-clutched] that pornography is a “theater” of trafficking…“You don’t know when you look at pornography if that person is participating as a willing participant.  You don’t know that they’re not a minor or that they haven’t been trafficked in from another country.”  Lofgreen said an entire generation of men has developed an addiction to pornography, and that like all addicts they need increasingly stronger doses, a process that sometimes causes them to drift into child pornography…

Under Every Bed (#669)

We’ve heard all these lies before; this is only notable for the sheer density of bullshit, and the fact that it’s claimed to take place in a state with a smaller population than Greater Seattle:

Amber Lawrence…travels…Iowa [for] Teens Against Human Trafficking…trying to protect young people from being “Taken” down a heartbreaking road in which life expectancy is a stark seven years…an educational exhibit…features art of young women in a cage, an empty pair of silver high heels, and an abandoned teddy bear symbolizing loss of innocence…as a college freshman at 19, she had been the target of an attempted human trafficking incident…

An “attempted human trafficking incident”.  You know, like in “The Widening Gyre” below.

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (#714)

Politicians the world over promise the same evil, impossible things, and stupid people just keep believing them:

With mascots dressed as smiling fish and a police rock band, Thai authorities launched a “Happy Zone”…to [sanitize] the image of a city [known] for sex tourism…the…sex…industry…remains economically vital while being officially excoriated…The latest of many crackdowns in Pattaya happened…last month…A handful of bars were raided.  Bar owners and working women were fined.  Scared to venture out, tourists…stayed in hotels.  Street vendors and shops saw sales tumble.  The money which flows to all levels in the city – including law enforcement agencies – fell off.  The Happy Zone approach is a softer way to try to [pretend] that something is being done…Apichai Krobpetch, chief of Pattaya city police, [said] “We will also stamp out prostitution in the area”…

Guinea Pigs (#723) 

More on the “banks looking for whores to rat out to the pigs” evil from last week:

…banks have become adept at mining data to comply with anti-money-laundering regulations.  Much of that same data can also be used to detect signs of human trafficking…Some financial patterns that could potentially indicate human trafficking include credit card purchases on some classified-ad sites, several individuals with a common address depositing money into the same account, or multiple accounts transferring money to the same beneficiary…analytics tools can also cross-reference customer phone numbers to see if those same numbers appear on classified-ad pages where illegal services might be sold…

“Multiple accounts transferring money to the same beneficiary”.  You know, like when different people pay for purchases from one company.

The Widening Gyre (#723) 

Lenore Skenazy’s take on yet another hysterical “sex trafficking” fantasy:

89,000 shares of this piece from ForEveryMom…”Diandra Toyos is a Southern California mom of three kiddos aged 4, 1.5, and 7 weeks.  Looking for a fun outing, she and her mom decided to take the kids to their local IKEA recently to do some couch shopping…But Toyos never could have imagined that their lighthearted shopping trip was about to take a sinister turn“…This “My kids were about to be trafficked, I just KNOW it” post is so shockingly similar to last week’s “My kids were about to be trafficked, I just KNOW it” post that it feels…creepy.  A lot creepier than being at Ikea where a couple of men glance at my kids…What, two men are going to grab two or three kids, all under age 7, IN PUBLIC, in a camera-filled IKEA, with the MOM and the GRANDMA right there, not to mention a zillion other fans of Swedish furnishings?…You can TELL nothing happened, because the whole thing was described as an “incident”.  And Lenore’s #1 Rule of Reporting is: When something is called an “incident,” it’s because nothing happened…

Read Full Post »

They want to give rapist policemen more power over sex workers.  –  Waiting Girl

The Red Umbrella 

A [man] who robbed a sex worker at knifepoint in her own home has been jailed for eight years.  Richard Ansell, 25, made an appointment to visit the woman at her house…Soon after arriving, he pulled out a 10″ knife from the inside of his jacket and demanded money…

The Pro-Rape Coalition 

It’s amazing how little their arguments have changed in 54 years.

It Looks Good On Paper

Noah Berlatsky on underage sex workers:

…Most domestic minors in the sex industry are not kidnapping victims.  They’re [teenagers] who have fallen out with their parents (often because they are gay or trans)…and…sell sex to survive.  And the biggest danger they face is not from organized rings of predatory criminals, but from the police.  That’s one of the central insights in Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking: Beyond Victims and Villains, a new book by…Alexandra Lutnick…[who] told me…that…“young people experience violence more often from law enforcement officials than from any other group.”  In the worst cases, this violence takes the form of physical and sexual assault…The legal system itself is abusive…between 2000 and 2009 arrests of minors for prostitution and related vice charges rose by 8.5 percent.  Lutnick found that even in places where minors have technically been decriminalized, young people are arrested for what is essentially a prostitution offense; police find something else to charge them with, like loitering, disturbing the peace, or even lying about their age…Young people are supposedly arrested for their own good, to remove them from the influence of pimps and from their own dangerous choices.  But…arresting young people means that they are less likely to be able to get jobs and education, which means that they have even fewer options other than selling sex…

Above the Law 

This isn’t the only brutality police chiefs ignore, which makes the “misogyny” explanation pure bullshit:

…recent investigations suggest it’s not uncommon for…[cops] to sexually assault, abuse and harass female civilians…While media exposés in recent months have highlighted the pervasiveness of police sexual misconduct, the problem isn’t new — and few departments appear to be doing anything to address it.  In 2011, the International Association of Chiefs of Police…produced a series of recommendations designed to change a culture that the IACP noted may encourage some officers to sexually abuse, harass and assault those they’re sworn to protect.  But…only three departments of 20 surveyed appear to have taken any of the recommended steps for curbing sexual misconduct…departments put themselves at risk of expensive lawsuits by not having policies in place, putting taxpayers on the hook for millions of dollars in payouts.  And…a broken system of laws and background checks [allows cops]…accused of sexual misconduct to get jobs in departments where new allegations would later surface, including rape…

The real reason isn’t “male-dominated police culture” or any of this crap; it’s that absolute power corrupts absolutely, and cops rarely if ever face any consequences even for murder, much less rape.

Capricious Lusts (#37)

As we’ve seen before, Bollywood is actually pretty sex work-friendly even if the Indian government isn’t:

When a TV journalist asked a popular Bollywood actress whether she was “lowering the level of the fine art of cinema” because she used to act in porn movies, the interview went viral and many Indians jumped to her defense…Sunny Leone, a Canadian-born former porn actress of Indian origin, has been able to build a whole new reputation — and fan base.  After the interview aired over the weekend on a television news channel…the criticism was immediate and widespread.  Leone…has seamlessly journeyed from her porn-star past to a stint on a TV reality show to a successful career in the Indian film industry.  She has acted in a murder thriller, a horror movie and an upcoming sex comedy.  But…Bhupendra Chaubey…peppered her with aggressive questions about her past as “a porn queen”…Leone answered the questions calmly, insisting that she had no regrets and that she did not find anything “vulgar” or “wrong” with her former line of work…she said: “I don’t have any horror stories – I wasn’t abused, I wasn’t beaten, I wasn’t molested”…

Vendetta

Swanee Hunt’s latest campaign to ruin the lives of whores and clients alike is one of her most twisted yet; it tricks young people into aiding the police state by lying to them about imaginary “victims” and “exploiters”:

With the sex-for-hire trade increasingly shifting to the Internet, a Cambridge advocacy group brought together dozens of high-tech volunteers for a series of weekend workshops aimed at giving law enforcement new tools to combat human trafficking.  Tasked with developing software programs and apps for everything from monitoring John chat rooms, compiling Top 100 lists of prostitution customers and promoters and enabling police to record real-time arrest information on their cellphones…as part of an initiative run by…Demand Abolition…

But the prohibitionists no longer control the whole narrative; the media are increasingly listening to sex workers:

Sex workers around the world are expressing outrage about a tech event…called #hacktrafficking4good after its namesake hashtag…it included participants from MIT who came together to develop…surveillance tools that could help [cops]…“identify” and “disrupt” the online market…But sex workers and activists…bashed the project on Twitter, called it patronizing and said the effort made sex workers more vulnerable to abuse…Some, including Boston’s Sex Workers Outreach Project, also accused police of being more dangerous to sex workers than clients.  Data from the National Blacklist site, where sex workers post warnings about clients to avoid, backs up that claim.  It shows that Boston police are one of the local sex workers community’s greatest concerns.  Several local listings warn against [pigs]…asking for unprotected sex and trying to entrap sex workers…hack trafficking protest

Case Study

Dysphemisms and gawking abound in UK articles about sex work:

This mousy-looking Fife housewife helped run a sex-for-sale empire that straddled Scotland.  Ana Calder, 36, built a thriving vice business with her boyfriend, recruiting women from Brazil to sell their bodies in a dozen brothels in eight towns and cities across the country. They took a cut of the women’s earnings and raked in more than £150,000 before they were caught…The couple searched the internet for [Brazilian sex workers]…and encouraged them to come and work in Scotland…Undercover police…saw…condoms and…checked that the women were safe…

Mind Over Matter

Ruchira Gupta wants women like me banned by law from ever having sex:

Ruchira Gupta…[of “rescue” profiteer group Apne Aap repeated a long-debunked prohibitionist lie about Germany]…”a woman who had applied for a job…was [given] a job in a brothel…she…was taken off the social security benefit because she had refused the job that she was given!”…Gupta [bloviated that]…There is a difference between “welcome sex” and “consensual sex”.  I used this term because consent can be obtained under many different circumstances, like marriage, employment and power relations.  But in “welcome sex”, the woman wants the sex which then becomes all about participation and collaboration rather than domination…it becomes about mutual pleasure rather than one person’s pleasure…

Out of Control (#410) 

If he had simply paid to enact this fantasy, he’d still have a career:

A prominent doctor at Mt. Sinai Hospital is accused of heavily sedating a 22-year-old patient with morphine and then ejaculating on her face while she was semi-conscious.  Dr. David H. Newman, who has reportedly given lectures on the importance of improving the patient-doctor bond, has not been arrested or charged…

Prudesville

How much longer can this absurd melodrama continue?

An Olympia man may get a $45,000 check from the city of Everett to settle a case about public records requests for surveillance videos showing bikini baristas engaging in illegal activity…West filed a lawsuit after police denied his request for the…videos in 2014.  As part of the settlement, West offered not to publish any of the videos unless they contain images of public officials engaged in misconduct.  The videos were part of a 2013 investigation into public corruption and prostitution at bikini espresso stands in Everett and other areas of Snohomish and King counties…

Bread and Circuses (#533) 

Translation: “Landlady railroaded for allowing whores to work on her property“:

The madam of a brothel that operated in Houston’s East End for years was sentenced to life in federal prison…for her role as the leader of an international sex-trafficking ring that forced women and girls into prostitution.  Hortencia “Tencha” Medeles, 70, was convicted during a trial last year…Houston is a major hub for sex trafficking due to its size, proximity to the border and large immigrant population.  The ring was built on the backs of women and teenagers who were smuggled into the United States from Mexico and Central American by smooth talking pimps who promised them love and marriage.  When they got to Houston, however, they were beaten, raped and threatened that they as well as their families back home would be killed if they did not perform or tried to escape…

Given her age, it’s likely she’ll die in prison before her conviction is reversed after the end of the moral panic.

Welcome to the Future (#543)

All prohibitionists are liars, but Irish ones may be the most egregious:

…“Women are just like pawns in the whole structure of it,” said Linda Latham of The Women’s Health Project…rape, violence and forced criminality is a common experience…Not all sex workers are duped or coerced into the lifestyle – however evidence suggests the majority are.  Statistics indicate 98%…Denise Charlton…with The Immigrant Council of Ireland stated:  “Almost without exception the women…have been trafficked…We call for much-needed action to stop the pimps and traffickers”…

The most fascinating lie here: 98% is actually the fraction of sex workers who are not coerced.

Above the Law (#591)

An undercover [cop]…proposed to an activist and lived with her for 18 months…The previously unknown case will place fresh pressure on [Scotland Yard], which last year was forced to apologise to seven women who had similar relationships.  The woman…told BBC Newsnight she was a victim of “psychological torture”…[She] was friends with a group of left-wing political activists…who are thought to have been the target for long-term infiltration…the relationship…lasted from 2002 to 2004…

Read Full Post »

The only difference between an escort and, say, your sister is probably that an escort charges money.  –  Felix Clay

Rough Trade

Reporter casts violent rapist as a victim of prostitution:

…The havoc prostitution can wreak on lives played out in a London [Ontario] courtroom…when [Nelson] Martinez…was sentenced for what was described as a “callous and dangerous” attack on a sex worker…Martinez received a sentence of [merely] 38 months…[because] Justice Peter Hockin [was] impressed by Martinez’s promise to take counselling for his anger and sexual problems…[his] marriage was healthy until…Martinez turned away from his wife and children, and to pornography and prostitution…

Quite Possibly the Most Uptight Nerd EverPeppr

Actually, the author of this particular article isn’t uptight; he seems accepting, though he’s a bit ill-informed about screening and seems to believe streetwalking is the norm:

…the Berlin-based Peppr app uses GPS to connect potential clients with prostitutes in their immediate area…to save prostitutes from having to pound sidewalks for customers.  It was created by…Pia Poppenreiter…after seeing sex workers out of doors on a cold night…To help make sure that its sex workers don’t become part of any human trafficking chain, Peppr interviews its advertisers over the phone before they sign them up…The company will also not work with brothels, only individuals and escort agencies…

Full of Themselves

Megalomaniac speaks for thousands of people, claiming they all want celibacy:

Massage parlors…have multiplied over the past decade, and city leaders don’t believe the boom is based on increased demand for back rubs…South Pasadena City Manager Sergio Gonzalez said…“That is something I believe is exploitation of women…it’s promoting sex, and that’s not what we want in South Pasadena”…

The rest of the article lays the blame for this terrifying invasion of peaceful businesswomen on the incompetence of the California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC), an organization which claims to be such an efficient investigative body that it “did what the FBI couldn’t:  uncover PROOF of a “vast network” of traffickers!”  The law which created the CAMTC contained a “sunset clause” which will expire next year, and many politicians want it to do just that; however, CAMTC director Richard McElroy warns of dire consequences if his crack team of super-massage-cops is dissolved:  “The human trafficking cartel…are [sic] praying we sunset because we are the biggest thorn in their side”…

Don’t Take My Word For It

Men just can’t let go of the pathetic fantasy of the high-income heterosexual male prostitute with gorgeous customers:

…in…Fading Gigolo…John Turturro…plays…a gentle bookstore employee who loses his part-time job…For his first trick – a passionate one-on-one with [Sharon Stone] – Fioravante earns $2,500…A string of satisfied clients follow…and the money rolls in…

Follow Your Bliss

A [Washington state cop]…involved in fighting…sex trafficking was arrested…on child porn charges…Donald Glunt…described himself on his LinkedIn page as being a training coordinator for the church-based group Hope4Justice…officials…discovered images on Glunt’s city-owned cell phone while conducting an internal administrative investigation…

Gullible’s Travels

Just when you thought fake teen drug scares couldn’t get any stupider, Ohio local news brings us beezin, in which kids rub Burt’s Bees lip balm on their eyelids…If I had to guess, I’d say beezin is probably most popular at rainbow parties after drinking hand sanitizer and butt-chugging some vodka…”The peppermint oil in the lip balm is a very strong irritant and can cause inflammation in the eye”…[said] Dr. Brett Cauthen

The scare appears to have been touched off by this parody video:

Three Steps Back

Panhandling…in Louisiana would be banned if a bill the House unanimously [approved] …gets signed into law…[sponsor] Austin Badon…proposed the bill…[in] answer to a call by [cops] to help…break up obvious patterns of prostitution…The legislation would allow for prostitutes to be “hassled by the cops,” he said…it would also apply to hitchhikers…

Above the Law 

Four French police officers are being held in custody on suspicion of raping a 34-year-old Canadian woman at their Paris headquarters…[after she met them] during a night of heavy drinking at a nearby Irish pub…

Scapegoats (TW3 #10)

Given that politicians who obsess about certain kinks are nearly always practitioners of those same kinks, what are we to make of Joe Arpaio’s crusade against zoophiliac women?

Once again, deputies from the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office have busted someone who went to Craigslist looking for sex with an animal.  This time, a 22-year-old Phoenix man went to…Craigslist seeking a male horse “on which to commit the act of fellatio”…Detectives were able to identify the poster as…Donald Waelde…

It takes a truly sick mind to vomit out the phrase “commit fellatio”, and unless I miss my guess that’s not a man but a transwoman; of course, Arizona’s pretty intolerant of them as well.

Stand-Up Guys sexy clown

Once again, Cracked demonstrates it has the smartest talent pool in journalism today:

…I feel that if an adult woman…wants to charge money for sexual services, it’s not a lot different from anyone else charging for massage services, or to be a clown at your birthday party, except the balloon animals are way more fun.  They have an ability others are interested in that they have monetized.  If that upsets you, it’s probably because you have an issue, not them.  Naturally, I’m opposed to human trafficking, sex slavery, underage prostitution, violence, and substance abuse, but I really believe a person can sell sex and not be involved in any of that, just as you can be a pot smoker and maybe not be involved in Mexican drug cartels, the beheading of civilians, organized crime, robbery, and meth-related buggery…

The Pygmalion Fallacy

At least this particular iteration of “robot hooker” idiocy recognizes the possibility that sex work is here to stay:

John Danaher…published a paper that…lays out two contrasting hypotheses: one in which robots dominate the sex industry; and another in which robot use actually leads to an increase in human sex work…The displacement hypothesis says sex robots will eventually push human sex workers out of a job…The resiliency hypothesis…[argues] that human prostitutes are here to stay…[because] humans will overwhelmingly prefer a human-on-human encounter to one with a robot…and…somewhat humorously suggests that there will be a spike in human prostitution because robots will edge people out of otherwise conventional jobs…

Yes, women turning to sex work because they can’t find any other profitable work is “humorous”.  Naturally, the first hypothesis is “supported” with nonsense about “exploitation”, “sex trafficking” and “diseases”.

Small Choice

“Sex trafficking” is caused by abortion!

The one-child policy in China has resulted in more than just forced abortions and sterilizations — it has led to massive cases of child trafficking as families attempt to buy children.  It’s also leading to international sex slavery rings and selling women as brides…

The Public Eye

SWOP [Chicago held a]…public event…called, “Understanding Sex Work and Allyship”…on…the…social misperceptions surrounding sex work, and the services that SWOP provides…including…the need for decriminalization and basic labor rights as a way of countering isolation and shame…SWOP should be respected as a union organization, and equally as fighting an important civil-rights battle…

Buried Truth Martin Ssempa

“Eat the Poo Poo” sounds like the title of a punk album:

A Ugandan pastor who has spent years calling for a stricter anti-gay law could now be charged under that very same law…Martin Ssempa is notorious for screening gay porn in church and claiming it is common for gay men to “eat the poo-poo”…Paul Kaliisa, from Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST)…[suggests Ssempa] is almost “obsessed” with [gay porn].  “He moves everywhere with clips of gay men”…

Original Sin

Melissa Gira Grant has a good article about the evangelical Christian basis of “sex trafficking” hysteria, focusing especially on Sold No More (the ones who claimed a mineral show was a hotbed of “trafficking”) and Shared Hope International.  One interesting point:  Sold No More began as a “crisis pregnancy center”, one of those scams that trick women seeking abortions into anti-abortion propaganda sessions.

Dutch Threat

I’m Felicia Anna, a 27 year old prostitute from Romania working in the heart of the Red Light District in Amsterdam.  I’ve been working there now for more than 4 years, unforced, unexploited and completely on my own free will…Before I got in touch with my boyfriend, I had no idea of the stories, witch hunt and simply false facts…about my work place…and prostitution in general…most of the prostitutes don’t speak out…because they’re scarred of a pimp, or because what people are saying is true, but simply because they just don’t know what’s going on…almost nobody does anything to debunk these false stories and bring out the truth, and the people who did hardly got heard…

Race to the Bottom

What the hell is going on in Washington state?  These recent anti-whore editorials read more like something one might expect from a small-town paper in the Bible Belt than from a major newspaper in a supposedly “liberal” state.  This one urges the government to grant itself censorship powers over the internet and includes pearl-clutching sentences like “The Internet empowers pimps to post an endless stream of titillating photos of sex workers, many of whom are forced into the trade as children” (gotta love the juxtaposition of the term “sex worker” with blatant anti-agency propaganda).  Another one infantilizes women even further with prudish arsehole-clenching about “illicit ads that reduce people’s daughters to faceless bodyshots…body measurements…and suggestive pseudonyms.”  Yes, a grown woman with a university education wrote that.  A third one from Olympia quotes the usual idiocy, calls strip clubs “hotbeds of human trafficking” and cheers the enacting of a new law which “makes it a felony to coerce someone into involuntary servitude” (apparently, they’ve never heard of the 13th Amendment up there).  All I can say is, I know a lot of people who will be very disappointed when this moral panic collapses and they need to find a new way to sell papers.

Held Together With Lies (Hysteria on Parade)

This article is an odd hybrid; it admits that the majority of “trafficking” is for manual labor rather than sex, yet inflates the Bales number to 32 million, then claims that exploitative sweatshops aren’t exploitative if they’re owned and operated by “rescue” organizations. 

The Widening Gyre (TW3 #348)

Another mob-with-torches story from Los Angeles, containing this gem:

“We’ve got to swarm these girls with love,” said the Rev. Deborah Manns, who…works with police, probation officers and parents to reclaim runaway girls…”We go to parties, we go to parks, we go to malls…I will chase a girl down the street, grab her, hold her, fight her…whatever it takes to keep her from going back to the track”…where trafficking victims are often forced to sell their bodies…

Ignoring people’s choices, spying on them, tackling them and betraying them to cops is “love”.

Case Study

This Random Brothel Exposé Generator is pure brilliance.    

Worse Than I Thought (TW3 #403)

It’s really good to see Reason expressing such strong opposition to sex work criminalization lately, especially when they quote me in the process; I just wish they wouldn’t give quite so much time to the awful Dennis Hof.

Under Every Bed (All Traffick, All the Time)

The grandiosity of these delusions increases by the day:

Windie Jo Lazenko …went  to [North Dakota]…to fight the sex trafficking…that…is a direct result of the oil boom…she said…she has helped 10 trafficked girls escape the sex trade…“Some…hotels…actually have floors that are bought out by pimps…and it operates pretty much like a brothel”…

Marching Up Their Own Arses (TW3 #414)

You should’ve known that Arizona, which is trying to market itself as whore-hater central, would be the next to jump on the “escort licensing” fad:

Gov. Jan Brewer…signed sweeping legislation that…[forces]  businesses such as massage parlors and escort services that advertise online…to post their license numbers…[and] have written permission of any women they depict and have evidence they are not minors.  Cindy McCain…said the…law will help close off the state to…traffickers…[it] received unanimous support in…the…Legislature…

Read Full Post »

This essay first appeared in Cliterati on December 8th; I have modified it slightly to fit the format of this blog.

stack of newspapersIn the process of writing my blog, I read and scan a tremendous number of news stories every week, from websites based all over the world.  I get many of them from links on Twitter, and my readers send many others; some of them I stumble onto by chance while looking at other things.  The majority of sex work-related items end up in my weekly “That Was the Week That Was” news summary, which normally appears on Saturday; other interesting stories appear in my weekly “Links” column, which normally appears on Sunday.  Some are worth quoting in a longer discussion, and others aren’t noteworthy enough to get any coverage in my work at all.  But every once in awhile a story comes along which is so interesting, funny, horrible, odd or whatever, that I like to analyze it at length.  Today I present such a story; it appeared in the Edinburgh News on October 30th,  but the date hardly matters because it’s illustrative of so much of what’s wrong with the way the news media report on sex work.

Two prostitutes are plying their trade just yards from a bustling police station amid warnings that private flats are increasingly being used for business by sex workers.  The cheeky sex workers are operating from a plush £700-a-week mews house in Dewar Place Lane to the rear of the busy West End police base in Torphichen Place.  Their decision to “set up shop” in the shadow of the key station follows an unprecedented period of focus on the Capital’s sauna trade…

One distinguishing characteristic of the truly awful sex work story is its use of inane, annoying and dysphemistic language to pretend that sex work is “dirty”, “seedy”, titillating, lurid or otherwise fundamentally different from other kind of work.  The language in many such articles is positively Victorian, but even when it isn’t, it’s still of a type only found in reference to sex work.  It starts in the very first sentence: can you imagine caterers, carpenters, cartographers or cab drivers being described in an early-21st century article as “plying their trade”?  Or that a reporter would find it noteworthy that a pub, pawnbroker, photographer or piano-tuner had set up shop near a police station (or to enclose that phrase in scare quotes)?  The UK is not the US; prostitution is not illegal in Scotland, no matter how much the leadership of Police Scotland might wish otherwise.  While I agree that it is a bit “cheeky” to do business so close to the hideout of a gang with a long history of violence against sex workers, that’s not the “spin” this reporter appears to be trying to put on it.  Finally, there’s the mention of the rent…which would certainly not appear were the story about a medical practice or a law firm.

…one…Police Scotland insider said…“We’re going to see a lot more sex sold from private flats like this…with all the unique problems that can bring with it.”  Sex industry insiders say more prostitutes are now operating from flats.  And today Independent Lothians MSP Margo MacDonald warned it would lead to a rise in sexually transmitted diseases and attacks on prostitutes…

Edinburgh saunaSex has been sold from private residences for as long as private residences have existed; this is neither new nor “uniquely problematic”.  Stories about sex work often present minor shifts in the number of women working in one type of venue or another as some sort of mass migration; in the US, it is commonly claimed that indoor sex work was practically nonexistent before the advent of the internet, when in reality the change was from about 15% of all sex workers on the street to perhaps 10% or a bit less…hardly a seismic shift.  The same can be said about brothel workers starting to go independent in Edinburgh.  And though I’m sure MSP MacDonald means well, if she’s concerned about STIs she should turn her attention to the amateurs; we professionals have far lower rates than they do, even without government nannies looking over our shoulders to be sure we wash properly.

…Our investigation was sparked by members of the public concerned at the comings and goings in the well-heeled cobbled street.  The attractive pair – who aren’t linked to the saunas – are only believed to have arrived in the city a week ago.  Their arrival, however, has merely swelled the ranks of a burgeoning scene which leaves prostitutes vulnerable to the whims of…violent pimps…

Can you imagine two new members of any other profession being described as “swelling the ranks” when there are already about 700?*  As for “public concern”, that’s utter nonsense; escorts know how not to attract attention, and in the next section the reporter admits to making an appointment through a website.  Without the directions provided by the sex workers, neither he nor the supposedly “concerned public” would have known where they were.  But the worst part of this short paragraph is the insulting pretense, so beloved by prohibitionists, that whores are largely at the mercy of “pimps”, when actually nothing could be farther from the truth.

…Incredibly, officers pass the flat, as they use the lane for access, unaware of the seedy activities inside…a girlish voice called out to come up the spiral staircase to…a large and immaculate living room with…two empty wine glasses…on a low table alongside untouched finger food…Wearing heavy eye make-up and scantily dressed in a see-through negligee, black underwear and red high heels, she welcomed our reporter…

Every sentence has words intended to evoke a lurid atmosphere.  A legal business is “seedy”, the sex worker is “girlish” (implying “underage”), the cleanliness of a business-place is somehow considered remarkable (would a hotel lobby be similarly described?), the empty glasses hint at a recently-departed client, and the descriptions of the sex worker’s makeup and attire would be more at home in a cheap novel than a serious news story.

…Asked whether she knew about the nearby police station she rolled her eyes, smiled and said: “I know, I know.  I don’t mind.  I’m doing nothing wrong.  I don’t sell drugs, I pay my taxes.  I’m quite happy about it”…She claimed to be working alone from the house, but the Evening News has learned that she is one of two prostitutes based there…The offence of brothel-keeping is only committed when two or more women work from the same home…Police officers have been informed by the News of [the] brothel…

In revealing that the women work from the same place, the reporter has guaranteed that the police will subject them to mindless violence in the name of upholding an asinine law, especially since he helpfully provided them the address in violation of every principle of journalistic ethics.  This wicked game of outing sex workers is woefully common in UK journalism of the sleazier sort…which is to say, most of it.

But the worst part about the entire article is that the reporter seems to imagine himself to be genuinely concerned about sex workers’ safety, or is at least trying to convince the reader that he is.  A reporter chooses whom to interview, which quotes to feature, how to parse them and how much weight to give each interviewee, so two different people with opposite agendas could produce two extremely different articles from the exact same set of interviews; this story comes back over and over again to the harm Police Scotland’s new harassment policy will inflict upon sex workers.  Yet at the same time, it wallows in the lurid, is peppered liberally with dysphemisms and tortured phrases, presents sex workers as weak, dirty victims and even goes so far as to directly betray two of them to the tender mercies of the police, hinting that they have a lot of money so as to make them a more attractive target for a profit-motivated raid.  If this is what passes for “sympathy” in British journalism, I’d hate to see what hostility looks like.

*This number comes from Scot-Pep, and though it seems a bit low to me we’ll go with it.

Read Full Post »