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Posts Tagged ‘Catholicism’

How infinitely one of Your own Sex ador’d You, and that, among all the numerous Conquest, Your Grace has made over the Hearts of Men, Your Grace had not subdu’d a more intire Slave.  –  Aphra Behn

Some women are whores out of necessity, some by circumstance and some by nature, but Hortense Mancini carried whoredom in her blood.  She was an especially wild, bold and lusty whore from a family of whores, and a number of her descendants followed in her footsteps.  The fact that she, her family, her clients and her lovers were all noble as well does not change her essential whorishness, as we shall see; it did, however, ensure that her assignations, adventures and escapades would be recorded for posterity.

Hortense (or as her father called her, Ortensia) was born in Rome on June 6th, 1646; she was the fourth of five daughters borne by Girolama Mazzarini to her husband, Baron Lorenzo Mancini, who dabbled in astrology and black magic and died rather suddenly in 1650.  Fortunately, Giraloma’s older brother Giulio had joined the clergy, become active in politics, and risen to the rank of both cardinal and chief minister to Louis XIV of France (where he was known as Cardinal Mazarin); she therefore packed up her brood and moved them to Paris, where she hoped their powerful uncle would find them rich and influential husbands.  And that he did; Laure married Louis de Bourbon, duc de Vendôme; Olympe married Eugène-Maurice of Savoy-Carignano; Marie was the first love of the young Louis XIV, but was married off to Prince Lorenzo Colonna of Italy; and Marie Anne married Maurice Godefroy de la Tour d’Auvergne, duc de Bouillon.  But Hortense was the most beautiful and most favored by her uncle, so it’s unsurprising he turned down the suit of the penniless Stuart who was only a few months later restored to the throne of England as Charles II.  The cardinal then offered Charles a dowry of 5 million livres to make Hortense Queen of England, but Charles refused; this, however, does not mean he never got to bed the girl he was so enamored with; he just had to wait a few years.

Three months before her 15th birthday, Hortense was married off to Armand Charles de La Porte, Duc de La Meilleraye, one of the richest men in Europe; unfortunately, his miserliness and prudishness matched his wealth and he was also mentally ill.  Among his more bizarre behaviors were searching Hortense’s room for hidden lovers before locking her in at night, having his maidservants’ front teeth knocked out to make them unattractive, and vandalizing art to eradicate the genitals of human figures.  But this doesn’t mean he was uninterested in sex with his wife; within five years she had borne him four children.  Still, one can only imagine the dreariness of sex with such a man; sometime in 1666 she began a lesbian affair with Sidonie de Courcelles, and when he discovered them he sent them both to a convent (from which they escaped after tormenting the nuns for a while).  Finally, her brother helped her to escape her awful husband just a week after her 22nd birthday; he hired an escort to take her to Rome, where she moved in with her sister Marie (now the Princess Colonna).  King Louis was still very fond of Marie, and as a favor to her he granted Hortense an income of 24,000 livres.  She also became the mistress of the Duke of Savoy, whom her uncle had turned down as a suitor ten years before; he gave her a house, where she lived until his death in 1675.  At that point, two things happened:  the Duke’s jealous widow evicted her, and her husband managed to get a judgment freezing all of her income, including the royal pension.

Hortense was desperate; she only knew one way to get money, and nobody wanted to cross her powerful and vindictive husband.  In stepped Ralph Montagu, the English ambassador to France; he secured her passage to England (she made the voyage in male drag) and an introduction to her former suitor, Charles II…and Hortense did the rest.  By the summer of 1676 she had displaced Louise de Kerouaille as chief mistress, securing thereby an income of £4,000 (English money, inaccessible to her husband).  His Majesty did not much mind her lesbian affair with Anne, his 16-year-old daughter by Lady Castlemaine (except for the time they had a fencing match in their nightgowns in St. James’s Park); her affair with Louis I of Monaco, however, was another thing entirely.  He even cut off her income, and though he relented on the money less than three days later, he did not restore her to her position (which was again taken up by Louise de Kerouaille).

History does not have much to say about Hortense’s lovers after the King, except for a lesbian affair with the writer Aphra Behn.  After Charles’ death her income was continued by his brother James II, whose wife Mary was her cousin; even after James was deposed in 1689, Queen Mary II continued to support her (though at a lower level).  She spent her time running a salon in her home, and died of drink (or suicide, depending on whom one believes) on November 9th, 1699; she was 53 years old.  Her long-estranged husband then added a creepy epilogue to her story by claiming her body and taking it around France for months before finally allowing it to be buried in the tomb of her uncle, Cardinal Mazarin.

Back in the first paragraph I mentioned that several of Hortense’s descendants followed in her footsteps.  Her son, Paul Jules de La Porte, duc Mazarin et de La Meilleraye, had two children, a son and a daughter.   The son, Guy de la Porte, had a great-granddaughter who married Prince Honoré IV of Monaco in 1777 and thus became the ancestress of the current Prince.  But the daughter, Armande, married Louis de Mailly, Prince d’Orange and became the mother of five beautiful daughters, of which four would later become mistresses to King Louis XV of France; she herself became the mistress of the King’s chief minister, the Duc de Bourbon.  For some women, whoredom is only skin deep; some have it in their blood, and others are whores to the bone.  But Hortense Mancini was a whore down to her genes, and I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that many of her descendants are still plying the trade in one way or another to this day.

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That is how we ended up in the church, without knowing how it would all end, without knowing if we would get out dead or alive.  But it was really the last thing that we could do to try and save our skin.  –  Maria de Lourdes

Protest at St. Nizier's 1975Forty years ago today, the sex workers of Lyon, France protested the unrelenting torment the cops inflicted upon them by occupying the Church of St. Nizier.  Despite its bawdy reputation in the English-speaking world, France has never been friendly to whores; beginning in the 16th century the French pioneered many of the laws and tactics used to harass us throughout the world to this day, and the Code Napoleon officially gave the police power to “control” prostitution (with results any regular reader could predict).  The severity of the maltreatment ebbed and flowed throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries until the government decided to revenge its humiliation at the hands of the Nazis on the bodies of sex workers, and France became officially “abolitionist” in 1960.

By August of 1973 the cops’ depredations had become so severe a street protest was organized, but it did not end well and the police were only emboldened to make things worse.  Early in 1975 they closed down the hotels de passe, cheap establishments where street workers took their clients, then proceeded to harry them with fines; the department decreed that each girl was to receive two or three fines per day, but because multiple cops were involved it could sometimes be five or more.  If a woman went to pay her fines, she was intentionally delayed in the police station for several hours so she would lose most of her night; if she didn’t pay she would be arrested and jailed, and her children abducted by the state if there were no relatives to take them.  Meanwhile, the tax department would present them with huge bills assuming numbers of clients that would fit comfortably in the masturbatory fantasies of “sex trafficking” fetishists.

Something had to give, and on June 2nd two sex workers named Ulla and Barbara led a group of 100 prostitutes to occupy a church in hopes of calling attention to their plight.  They had an ally in Father Louis Blanc, who secured the cooperation of several other priests; they planned to occupy the Church of St.Bonaventure, but the police found out and began to prepare for mass arrests of the protesters as they arrived.  Fortunately, Ulla was tipped off in time and diverted the protesters to St. Nizier instead; volunteers waited inside to direct each arrival out through the side doors while the cops waited outside in their cars, thinking they would wait until they could get a good crop of victims before springing their trap.  Father Blanc remembers, “The police officers looked as if they were having fun in their cars.  But after a while, they were having less fun because…’what is happening?’ We have disappeared!  In the meantime the prostitutes have entered the Church of St. Nizier, where there are no police.”  The priest at St. Nizier was Father Béal, and with his help over 100 whores were able to congregate there before the cops realized where they had gone.

By the evening of June 3rd, the news of the protest had spread across France, and over the next few days to other countries as well.  Sex workers all over France began to occupy other churches; in Paris 200 whores occupied the Chapel of Saint Bernard.  The media interviewed Ulla and other sex workers, allowing them to air their grievances for all to hear and they issued a “Letter to the People of Lyon” which read, in part,

…we haven’t taken up prostitution because we are depraved.  Prostitution is the only means we have found to deal with the problems of life…People regard us as “dirty” or “abnormal” women, but at the same time they say we are needed…Prostitution is not forbidden under French law and theoretically we are citizens like everyone else.  But because society is ashamed of the fact that it needs us, it treats us as criminals, people who can be subjected to the full repressive might of the police…

Most feminists of 1975 still actually supported women’s choices, and figures like Simone de Beauvoir spoke up for the sex workers; other activists protested outside the church in a show of solidarity. Their demands were simple; as stated in a pamphlet they circulated outside, “We will only leave the church once you have given us the guarantee that you will stop throwing us in jail each time you think there is a repeat offense.  Our children do not want their mothers to go to jail.”  The protesters told the media they wished to speak to Madame Giroud, then State Secretary for Women, but before the request could even be officially made Giroud refused, claiming this was not a women’s issue at all but rather the responsibility of the Minister of Interior; the latter politician, Michel Poniatowski, decided to reply with violence, and at 5 AM on June 10th ordered the police to remove the protesters from all of the churches.

In Paris and some other places, the removal was accomplished with the usual police tactics of smashing down doors and beating women with truncheons, but at St. Nizier they decided to use a trick.  A cop called Father Béal pretending to be a reporter who wanted to speak to Ulla, and when the church door was unlocked to admit the priest with his fake message, armed cops sprang from hiding; they pushed him aside and swarmed into the building 120 strong, accompanied by 20 dogs and equipped with tear gas.  Most of the women were simply ordered out, but Ulla and Barbara were beaten so severely they had to be hospitalized.  Father Béal lodged a formal protest against the violation of the ancient principle of asylum, but Poniatowski replied that police could enter anywhere when “public order” was disturbed, citing a law from 1905 in support of his actions.

Hooking vans in LyonBut despite the government’s refusal to peacefully grant the demands, officials must have been anxious to avoid similar embarrassment in the future; the harassment stopped, the cops with the highest numbers of sex worker arrests were reassigned to other duties, and the ludicrous tax bills no longer appeared.  By 1994 the culture had shifted sufficiently for “pimping” to be defined more narrowly, thus ending for a time the harassment of partners, roommates, adult children, etc with “avails” charges.  Of course, that didn’t last long, and regular readers have seen the tide once again turn toward repression in the form of the “Swedish model“, laws against “looking like a whore” and even repeated parking fines for the vans from which most street workers now operate.  But the protesters and their successors have not passively watched all this happen:

…the whores began holding regular meetings and soon formed the French Collective of Prostitutes, on which the English Collective of Prostitutes was later modeled.  Women in a number of other countries were also inspired to form groups, and a number of these came together with Margo St. James’ COYOTE to form the International Committee for Prostitutes’ Rights (ICPR), the organization whose work and example helped to win prostitution law reform in a number of European countries and provided an example which inspired similar campaigns in many other parts of the world.  In a way, the modern sex worker rights movement was born on that June 2nd in Lyon, so we celebrate it now as International Whores’ Day.

I’ve written about this occasion before, but the greater detail in today’s column was made possible by a French-language documentary being broadcast today on both Radio France and Radio Belgium; it was produced by Australian sex worker rights activist Eurydice Aroney, who called it to my attention about six weeks ago and reminded me of it again recently.  You can listen to the show at the link above, and Eurydice kindly provided me with this English translation of the transcript.  She and I both think it’s very important that sex workers know about the history of our movement; please help us accomplish that goal by publicizing the documentary and this column on social media!

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If the causal link between coercion and victimhood is the reason why prostitution is harmful and should be banned…this can be argued to be the case with most…professions on earth.  –  Phuong-Mai Nguyen

Old Men and Young Women

Why are people surprised that old men still have sex drives?

At adult cabarets across Costa Rica, entertainers…are noticing an interesting demographic trend:  With greater frequency, men old enough to be their grandfathers are among their admirers.  Such was the conclusion presented by Paula Ruiz Guevara, an investigative journalist from national newspaper La Prensa Libre…Through statistical research, field investigations and interviews with psychologists, social workers, prostitutes, and sociologists, Ms. Guevara’s work paints an interesting portrait of an aging population whose appetite for sexual commerce has not diminished…

See No Evil 

Anyone who sees 15 years in prison for consensual sex as anything other than a tyrannical abomination should himself be locked up:

A couple found guilty of having sex on a public beach in Florida face 15 years behind bars…Elissa Alvarez, 20, and Jose Caballero, 40, were charged with lewd and lascivious exhibition…The couple claimed they were not actually having sex…Both Caballero and Alvarez will now have to register as sex offenders because the crime happened in front of children.  The couple were arrested July 20, 2014, after witnesses recorded video of the couple grinding on the beach and called 911 to complain…Assistant State Attorney Anthony Dafonseca said…it was important to prosecute Alvarez and Caballero to let the public know such behavior wouldn’t be tolerated…

Repeat Offenders 

Why is it that nuns who want to “rescue” sex workers invariably push them into menial garment-related work, like laundering or sewing?

…at the shelter, known as Casa Ruth…[a “rescued” sex worker from] Nigeria…shares a tidy apartment…with a half-dozen other women…They work together in a sewing cooperative run by the shelter called Newhope…”They can make money not with their bodies, but through their creativity,” said Sister Rita Giaretta…Dozens of safe houses run by Catholic nuns have sprung up in recent years…

Change a Few Words killer pot

Prohibitionists of all types are willing to believe any “statistics”, no matter how stupid and obviously false, which seem to support their schemes:

“Marijuana candies, sold on the street as ‘Uncle Tweety’s Chewy Flipper’ and ‘Gummy Satans’ are taking the country by storm.” That’s the breathless opening sentence of a news story posted on the website of D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), the infamous anti-drug organization that sends police into schools to teach kids about the dangers of drug use.  After I called to inquire about it, D.A.R.E. removed the story immediately without commenting…topkeasnews.com [the story’s original source] is a satire website…D.A.R.E. still receives funding from the Justice Department, the Department of State and numerous other government agencies and corporations.  For the past month, that funding has been used to spread the message that marijuana is a “third world drug” that causes teen pregnancies and leads to “primal aggression,” and to promote demonstrably false claims about people killed by marijuana edibles…

Above the Law 

A CBS News investigation has found sexual misconduct in the ranks of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is “significantly” higher than other federal law enforcement agencies…In April, one agent in Arizona was indicted for sexually assaulting a 5-year-old child…Between 2012 and 2014…there [were]…more than 35 sexual misconduct cases against agents…in the last six years, at least 21 customs or border patrol agents have been indicted or pleaded guilty to sexual offenses…ranging from sexual assault, to possession of child pornography and child molestation…

Full of Themselves (TW3 #418)

OH MY GOD PEOPLE CAN TOUCH OTHER PEOPLE WITHOUT EXPLICIT GOVERNMENT PERMISSION!  THE HORROR!!!

…Kansas is one of just five states in the nation that do not regulate the massage therapy industry.  While most states require masseuses to pass background checks, attend accredited massage schools or obtain certain certification…massage therapists in Kansas go completely unchecked.  Such was the case with Chen Li, 50, and Guihong Xiao, 45, who were arrested Tuesday after an investigation into allegations that sex crimes were occurring at their business…Li, charged with felony promoting the sale of sexual relations and aggravated human trafficking, and Xiao, charged with felony promotion, misdemeanor selling of sexual relations and two counts of aggravated human trafficking, have been down this road before…AMTA Kansas lobbyist Stuart Little said if Kansas regulated its massage industry, and if a background check were required to own a massage business or perform massage therapy, Li and Xiao may have been prevented from setting up shop again…

New Excuse

Another blatant example of the War on Whores as replacement for the moribund War on Drugs:  “Drug agents…raided a [Charlotte, North Carolina] massage parlor, arresting two women accused in a prostitution sting…

Backwards into the Future (#439)

This Vietnamese academic, unlike her Western counterparts, stopped being a prohibitionist when confronted with facts:

…To a certain extent, all of us are coerced into doing what we are doing, since none of us is 100 percent free to do what we individually want.  Freedom is never absolute, and as members of a society, we all have to sacrifice, compromise, or adjust ourselves to suit the situation…criminalizing prostitution creates double incrimination…30 percent of exotic dancers and 24 percent of street-based sex workers who had been raped identified a police officer as the rapist.  Up to 17 percent of sex workers interviewed reported sexual harassment and abuse, including rape, by police.  They had been forced to strip or engage in other sexual conduct while in police detention…we also need to accept the fact that…Many of them choose this profession voluntarily because it fits their life style and personality, or because it is economically efficient, without any pressure.  In the last few months, I have been part of a volunteer group helping to deliver tea and coffee to sex workers in the Red Light District of Amsterdam.  I started the job with the idea that all these people are victims, and I could not be more wrong…Sex work is exactly that, work.  And what well-intended people should do is to protect those who are forced to enter the industry, and support those who are the boss of their life, regardless of who they choose to be…silly beliefs about sex work

All Wet

Buried deep in this prohibitionist screed are these truly dumb statements:  “A recent poll by Red C found that 88% of Irish men have never paid for sex. It also showed three out of four Irish adults believe women who sell sex have
experienced abuse from sex buyers…” First we have the usual ridiculously-low client number I’ve already debunked, but it’s followed by a statement about what ignorant people in the general public believe to be true about a subject in which they have no experience; it’s a bit like taking a poll of what people believe to be true about the stars an quoting it as though it were astronomical fact.

Marching Up Their Own Arses (#533)

Sex worker activists have forced the vile 8 Minutes off the air:

Sex workers who were filmed for A&E’s 8 Minutes, which says it provides resources for women who want to get out of sex work, allege that the production lied to them…they wanted help getting out of sex work, and were never given any of the promised assistance.  When reached, a representative for the network said the show is no longer on the air and, thus, they have no comment…

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Magdalen laundryFor many years, Irish sex workers dreaded being captured by cops and imprisoned in the Magdalene laundries, where they were enslaved by nuns and forced into a life of unremitting toil to “cleanse” them from their “sins”.  The last Magdalene laundry was closed only 19 years ago, but the nuns who ran these torture chambers did not merely go away; their zeal to torment and punish whores was so great that they re-invented themselves as Ruhama and rebranded their anti-whore crusade as a fight against “sex trafficking” and “pimps”, whom they depict as hiding behind every bush and lamppost like some sort of oversized fetish leprechaun.  Longtime readers will remember that Ruhama is the chief force behind “Turn Off the Red Light”, a campaign to impose the Swedish model on Ireland; to that end they have fed tons of bullshit to obsequious Irish politicians and employed shills and sock puppets to sell their tragedy porn to the credulous press.  My friend Laura Lee has been at the forefront of the fight against them for years, and on Wednesday she called my attention to the testimony of a sex worker who went in undercover to see what Ruhama really offers sex workers who come to them for help:

I decided to go to Ruhama after seeing their posters around train stations whilst touring.  The posters advertised a number to text as part of their REACH Project, so I decided to contact them directly.  I was aware that there was a lack of resources for sex workers to access support, and the one organisation that seemed to dominate the media coverage of the issue was Ruhama, so I decided to see what they would offer me.  The Services Manager, Sheila Crowley, called to give me an appointment to see her, and a week later I found myself standing outside a pub across from St. Patrick’s college waiting to meet her.  As we walked down towards her office I was told about the religious history of most of the buildings that we passed; going through the entrance to Ruhama felt like entering an old church, as their offices are located in All Hallows College (which has been run by the Vincentians since 1892).

I sat down with Sheila and discussed my financial concerns; I told her of my desire to go to full time education and the consequent worries of paying for the fees and not having enough time to work to earn the money to pay my bills and college fees.  She discussed the different supports that Ruhama offers to sex workers, and explained that some women don’t want to leave the industry and just want practical support.  However, she then said that after meeting with a Key Worker, it usually turns out that they do want to leave after all.  She seemed to be telling me that sex workers don’t really know what we need, but that people who don’t live our lives would be able to convince us that what we need is to leave the sex industry.  It would therefore seem reasonable to assume that Ruhama would be eager to offer whatever practical support we was necessary to achieve that end, but such was not the case; as the meeting went on, it became clear that practical support wasn’t on offer.  In fact, Sheila told me that they don’t have the financial resources to offer the kind of practical support I was expecting.  This surprised me as I was aware that the EU had awarded a grant of €284,302 to the REACH Project; the beneficiaries of which are the Irish Department of Justice and Equality and Ruhama.  In fact, as I write this, Ruhama have just launched a new campaign targeting the clients of sex workers; it would seem to me that Ruhama are more invested in awareness campaigns with no substance behind them instead of actually providing us with any real help when we come to them.

PrintI’ve heard the audio recording this young woman secretly made during the interview; Crowley tells her to go on the dole for a while because she isn’t going to be able to get a regular job without references.  No assistance, not even a job program; just emotional support and verbal urging to stop doing sex work.  What struck me the most, however, was that Crowley clearly understands the reality of sex work quite well, despite Ruhama’s promotion of nonsensical “pimp” and “exploitation” mythology; she understands touring and advertising, recognizes that independent girls outnumber those with managers (“traffickers”) and even gets that most clients are very decent.  Her issue with sex work seems to be due to some sort of belief in contamination, so that if three girls work together and the landlord doesn’t evict the one with a boyfriend, that makes the other two complicit in “trafficking” (or something like that; I had trouble following her “logic”).  It just goes to show Ruhama’s incredible duplicity, spreading lies they know to be lies in order to further their rotten agenda.

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From a financial perspective, the American rescue industry may be the third most popular sports franchise in the world.  –  Anne Elizabeth Moore

The Slave-Whore Fantasy 

Yet another example of what real sex slavery looks like:

Peter Hamilton…[was walking his dog when] he heard a woman’s voice coming from across the street…The woman was lying on the porch floor, her hands and feet bound by cloth restraints, duct tape, and handcuffs.  Her pants and underpants were pulled down around her ankles, tangled up in her leg restraints.  She was shaking quite a bit, and had bruises on her arms and legs.  “She said, ‘Help me, I’ve been kidnapped and held hostage for five days.”  She told him that her captor was still in the house — she had managed to wriggle down the stairs while he slept — and that he had a gun and a knife…he began trying to free her from her restraints, using the only tool in his pocket, a nail clipper, to snip away at the duct tape on her hands to get it to tear…That’s when her captor emerged from the doorway…leapt over the woman, and ran past…Later…police would arrest Rejean Perron, and charge him with repeatedly sexually assaulting the woman…between March 31 and April 5…the accused picked up the 27-year-old woman, a sex worker…when she tried to leave, he allegedly threatened her, bound her, and held her captive…

Gateway

Using one consensual “crime” as an excuse to persecute another is like building a house of cards:

The prostitution sting last week…marked at least the third organized crackdown this year by [New Hampshire] police departments in response to complaints about ongoing prostitution in their communities…it was part of a weeks-long enforcement campaign prompted by reports of salacious behavior in an area frequented by young children on their way to school…it points to a trend that has at least remained constant as the state continues to buckle from opiate addiction.  “We’ve been getting a lot more street complaints than before, and we relate that directly to heroin,” said Nick Willard, assistant chief of police in Manchester…

Tyranny By Consensus

One of the nation’s largest suppliers of HIV and AIDS medical care is accused of bilking Medicare and Medicaid in an elaborate $20 million dollar scam that spanned 12 states, according to a lawsuit filed in South Florida federal court.  Three former managers of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation filed a suit…alleging the company paid employees and patients kickbacks for patient referrals in an effort to boost funding from federal health programs…The referrals were key to the company’s business model and touted by AHF President Michael Weinstein at a 2013 leadership summit…

An Example To the West (#133)

Some 900 [Korean] sex workers…submitted a petition to the Constitutional Court to repeal the prostitution law, which they say infringes on their rights…In December of 2012, the Seoul Northern District Court asked the Constitutional Court for a constitutional review of the law after a prostitute who was charged made the request.  The crux of the issue is whether prostitution is a profession and cracking down on it violates sex workers’ rights or whether the practice is a public hazard and exposes minors to danger…Chung Kwan-young, a lawyer representing prostitutes, said the law goes against the “principle of minimal intervention” as it punishes a voluntary choice made by adults.  Critics of the law also point out that crackdowns have failed to eradicate prostitution.  Kim Kang-ja, a former chief at the Jongam Police Station who spearheaded crackdowns in the 2000s, said her operations only exacerbated the situation of sex workers…stop closing our windows

Dutch Threat

Hundreds of Amsterdam’s window prostitutes took to the streets yesterday in protest against the city authorities’ attempts to clean up the red light district.  Sex workers say they have been targeted over the years as local politicians try to reinvigorate the area, under the guise of stopping human trafficking.  Some 250 prostitutes and their supporters marched against the latest proposals to shut down more of the city’s brothels.  Since 2008 115 of the 500 windows…have been closed…

Confined and Controlled (#335)

Italian law allows [Rome] to issue an ordinance banning the solicitation of sex on certain streets…Rome City Hall has agreed to…a pilot program that would include greater police surveillance and fines of up to $500…for men caught with a sex worker on a prostitution-free street…the idea is vehemently opposed by Catholic organizations that say it legitimizes the exploitation of women.  Father Aldo Buonaiuto [wants imposition of the Swedish model]…

Uncommon Sense (#404)

The Assembly of Sex Work Pro-rights Activists of Catalonia, is made up of sex workers and allies…“We are the most stigmatised and criminalised group of women in society,” said Montse Neira, one of the group’s founders…“From now on, nobody else is going to speak for us”…Paula Vip from…Asociación de Profesionales del Sexo (Aprosex) [said] “The violence we face doesn’t come from our clients, but from the institutions that govern based on the interest of a moral minority.  From now on, we prostitutes will be organised, convinced, ready to fight and ready for war”…

Prudesville

Yes, these are actual adults panicking over coffee stands:

…From the way…bikini baristas have been in the firing line of [Washington state] officials, you’d think this was the first time anyone combined nearly nude women and food.  But practically the same controversy continues to pop up in headlines across America:  Girls want to serve coffee mostly naked, people want to buy it, someone wants to stop it…Buxom girls and fast food have been lumped together since topless servers started waiting on San Franciscans in the 60s…and Hooters…has been around since 1983…To Mike Fagan, a Spokane city councilman who just saw a voter-led initiative to restrict bikini baristas flop…[the] model is too risqué not to regulate.  But he says he’s taken heat for trying to impose a moral code on local businesses…If they’re not offensive, he wonders, why then are school-buses being rerouted so kids won’t see the coffee stands?…“I think bikini baristas are sex workers, because their work involves using sexual appeal,” says…Savannah Sly…“Because they may be stigmatized or their place of employment scrutinized due to the erotic nature of the work, I deem it worthy of the label of sex work.”  Sly says some might argue that bikini baristas aren’t sex workers because they don’t strip, touch customers, or explicitly talk about sex.  But…“a lot of people who do phone sex and cam work…also don’t do sexual stuff for a lot of their clients”…

We Told You So (#509)

Another great article from Anne Elizabeth Moore:

The images are compelling:  young, White women, bound and bedraggled, alone and vulnerable.  The first-person tales are equally attention-grabbing:  rape, emotional abuse, graft, torture…Yet what we can definitively state about [the rescue industry]…makes for a much less satisfying narrative…the 50 most prominent anti-trafficking organizations in the United States…command over half a billion dollars every year, and focus primarily on sex trafficking, as opposed to the far more pressing global concern of labor trafficking.  Fundraising pitches for these groups rest largely on the recitation of widely disputed statistics, many of which have been entirely disproven…The claims are ludicrous.  Even if the number of rescues was believable, it represents approximately a quarter of all the cases of sex trafficking worldwide reported to the US Department of State…This would make the United States the global hotbed of sex slavery…

Broken Record (#519)

sex workers’ safety could be at risk if police launch sweeps to clean up city streets heading into this summer’s Pan Am Games…fears over potential trafficking during sports competitions are typically overblown and sometimes serve as excuses to round up local and foreign sex workers…a stronger police presence could have a “harsh impact” on street-based sex workers, who would be forced to work in more isolated — and potentially unsafe — conditions…a study examining the impact of the Vancouver Olympics suggests there was no significant influx of sex workers or reports of a spike in trafficking there.  The survey of sex workers found there was less demand for their services, possibly due to the difficulty in meeting clients…

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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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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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