Posts Tagged ‘Catholicism’

Laws don’t pay my bills!  –  unnamed Glasgow street worker

Five Women in Whitechapel 

Laura Lee on the appalling blindness of “authorities”:

…The last victim of Jack the Ripper, [Mary] Kelly’s body was so badly mutilated that she could only be identified by her hair and eyebrows…Fast forward 127 years and we have surely progressed a great deal since then in terms of sex worker safety, right?  Well no, actually.  If anything it’s worse.  Following the removal of the tolerance zone for street prostitution in Edinburgh, crimes against sex workers shot up by 95%.  The reason for that is simple, it became known that the police were no longer there to protect the workers, but rather to harass and arrest them, and their clients.  Let’s make a clear distinction for once and all, many attackers of sex workers are not or will never be “sex buyers”.  They are predators, looking for an easy target, and they know that sex workers are alone, vulnerable and highly unlikely to report an attack to the police…152 sex workers have been murdered since 1990.  How many more Mary Kellys must we have before the penny drops that leaving vulnerable people open to attack is not a good policy?

The Lesser of Two Evils Vatican City

If the Church were sanely-run, this article would be true:

The newest leaked information associated with the Vatileaks scandal states that properties owned by the Vatican along Piazza Barberini and the Italian parliament have now been converted to “massage parlours” and saunas, and their patrons are priests.  The leaked document points to the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith…[which] owns and operates numerous properties within Rome.  The properties in question are referred to as “peppercorn rents” and are said to be leased for cheap to “powerful colleagues” of the religious institution…

Check Your Premises

They worked for themselves, but it’s a “ring” and the cops are looking for “pimps”:

Four women have been arrested as part of an alleged prostitution ring operating in Mississippi…Arrested were Anjeni’ Qyanik Moore, 34, of Norfolk, Virginia; Heaven Leigh Nix, 23, of Memphis, Tennessee; Joneka Santrice Burns, 24, of Jackson, Mississippi; and Candace Renee Stewart, 30, of Byhalia, Mississippi…MBI spokesman Warren Strain said the women were working independently and are not believed to be victims of human trafficking.  He declined to say…whether they worked with pimps, citing an ongoing investigation…

Saving Them From Themselves

Lock ’em all up, New York!  Let’s put the entire next generation on the “sex offender” registry!

…17 states have changed their child pornography laws so that teenagers who swap nude photos of themselves with each other are not automatically treated as felons.  One of those states is New York, which makes an exception for images exchanged between people 20 or younger whose ages are no more than five years apart.  In such cases, the “offenders” can avoid criminal charges by undergoing an eight-hour “education reform program” that covers the dangers of sexting and cyberbullying.  Despite that provision, two Long Island teenagers were recently charged with felonies for producing and disseminating a 10-second video showing one of them having sex with a girl…the two boys…are both 14…the boys…were each charged with…disseminating indecent material to minors and promoting a sexual performance by a child…In addition to the two boys who were arrested, 20 students were suspended for receiving the video on their cellphones…

I’m Sure You Feel Safer Now

The cops are happy to serve as an ex’s revenge goons:

A 50-year-old woman…has been sentenced for soliciting prostitution…Marisa Frances Lang pleaded guilty to prostitution in a public place…and to disorderly conduct…Judge Michael A. Fahey…placed Lang on two years of probation.  She was ordered to continue mental health treatment and counseling…and must pay $585 in fines and fees…her ex-husband’s [ratting her out to cops]…led to a sting operation…

Finding What Isn’t There

“Authorities” amazed that an imaginary problem doesn’t materialize in response to their “mandating” that it exists:

…Around the country, pimps…force thousands of…women and girls…into prostitution every day.  Florida has the third highest number of sex trafficking cases…Reformers have argued that prostitutes are victims, not criminals, and more effort should be made to go after human traffickers – the pimps…Despite this new focus, a statewide analysis…found that efforts…to investigate and prosecute sex traffickers have yielded few results…[“rescue” profiteers pretend] the image of the independent prostitute, working for herself and selling sex by choice, is rarely accurate…“I [fantasize] the majority who are in the life have been the victims of trafficking,” said Katariina Rosenblatt, founder of There Is HOPE for Me…

The Widening Gyre 

The “Facebook pimps” myth is one of the silliest of the whole panic:

…Traffickers worldwide are increasingly using social media to contact vulnerable teenagers and sell them into sex work…Once limited to luring victims in the street, traffickers can now message thousands of people through Instagram, Facebook, Kik, Tagged and Twitter, with WhatsApp and Snapchat some of the latest tools in their arsenal.  “If just one of them answers … traffickers can make thousands of dollars off that girl very quickly,” said Andrea Powell, founder and director of FAIR Girls…a growing trend in the United States is to use WhatsApp or Snapchat where messages evaporate over time…Europol…said social media and other online technology have not only taken the recruitment and selling process off the streets but also allow traffickers to control victims using remote surveillance…

Here the magical “pimp” mind-control powers are claimed to be exerted via some mumbo-jumbo fantasy technology.Lucy Steigerwald

Shift in the Wind

Lucy Steigerwald presents a pro-decriminalization argument to a conservative audience:

Unfortunately, while the war on one vice dials back, law enforcement and government fight hard against another supposed danger…these days it sure seems as if the hot new thing to swoon over and vow to “do something” about is prostitution.  Worse than that, it’s prostitution-slash-sex trafficking, vaguely hand-waved together as the same thing…the solution to the latter is to legalize the former.  It’s that easy.  Or it could be, if people would do two things: stop filing trafficking with prostitution, and stop pretending that laws against selling and purchasing sex actually prevent people from selling and purchasing sex…Both hand-wringing liberals and worried social conservatives need to realize that some sex workers—perhaps the vast majority—have no need of rescue.  They need their line of work to be taken out of the black-market shadows.  They need to be left alone…We tend to look back with shame and bafflement at the obviously absurd moral panics that have gripped our society, but only after the damage has been done.  We are in the middle of a sex trafficking panic that not only exaggerates the threat that prostitutes pose to the moral fiber of society but, worse still, makes enormous exaggerations about the number of sex-trafficked (mostly) women and children…

Fever Dream

It’s like they’re not even trying any more:

Law enforcement officials on all levels – from local to international – are working together to crack down on human trafficking, which is a growing problem…[fetishists] call it “modern day slavery,” and it’s happening right here in East Tennessee…pimps…target young girls…on…social media…Interstate 40 is a convenient corridor for sex traffickers…the Community Coalition Against Human Trafficking…[trains] people to recognize victimization…traffickers and pimps employ manipulation…21 of Tennessee’s 95 counties reported at least 16 cases of sex trafficking involving a minor in 2010…

Yes, that’s the same discredited study they’re still quoting despite the fact that it isn’t even supported by the cops’ own records.

Shame, Shame

Here’s a excellent article on the State’s two-faced attitude toward “revenge porn”:

…Sex workers themselves are erased from anti–revenge-porn rhetoric.  Proposed remedies for revenge porn—criminalization of disclosures and liability for third-party websites—fail to address the sex-work stigma that creates repercussions for victims of revenge porn.  When a woman has her Google results bombed with nude photos and fake sex ads, she won’t pass a screening when she tries to get a job—because she’ll be mistaken for a sex worker.  The solution, we conclude, is to remove all possibility of that mistake—rather than to remove what bars a sex worker from getting that job…We propose new criminal statutes and partner with the police, even as the police threaten to post photos of sex workers during “busts” on social media accounts.  These are women who are being locked out of jobs because of nude photos of them on the Internet.  These are women who are being publicly disgraced as sex workers—because they are sex workers…the existence of sex work raises awkward questions about how to define revenge porn, how to understand its harms, and how to most appropriately redress its victims…

Blunt Instrument (#547)

And the gravy train just keeps rolling along:

Victims of human trafficking in Tampa Bay will have more access to legal help thanks to a $600,000 U.S. Department of Justice grant…Some…brothels take the form of what are called massage parlors.  Gulfcoast Legal Services attorney Sophia Lynn Denicolo says they can be hotbeds of human trafficking…

The Public Eye (#557)

Another sex work-positive article in Cosmopolitan.  Hey prohibitionists:  We’re winning.  And there’s not a damned thing you can do about it.

There are a few rules for dating a sex worker:  don’t compromise their cash flow by driving away their business, never out them to other people without their consent, and don’t expect them to eagerly perform activities they normally get paid to do for free…Ask any sex worker how they maintain their boundaries, and you’re in for a long conversation.  Some people develop a working identity that they keep entirely separate from their real-life persona, and others conflate the two.  Many sex workers desperately want to be out but don’t want to endure the invasive questions, or fear that their housing stability or the custody of their children would be compromised…The hardest boundary I’ve had to confront in my romantic relationships is the line between authentic desire in my work, and the “it’s just work” defense…But the world isn’t black-and-white, and while the vast majority of us are not regularly turned on by our work, real connections can happen with scene partners and genuine fun can be had with clients.  So where’s the line?…

Seizing Power (#574)

I’m adding Judge Posner to the very short list of men who can claim a freebie from me anytime they like:

A federal appeals court has ordered the Cook County Sheriff’s Department to cease lobbying major credit card companies that do business with…Backpage.com…At a hearing on Friday, Judge Richard Posner expressed unease with the notion, presented by the sheriff department attorneys, that Dart’s First Amendment rights protected his individual right to express his displeasure with Backpage to the credit card companies…on the sheriff department’s letterhead…“He can use the office of the sheriff to express any antipathy that he has to anything?” Posner posed to the sheriff’ department attorneys.  “So you’re saying there is no limit?  He can express his opinion on his office stationery on any subject that occurs to him.  What if he doesn’t like pets?  He doesn’t think people should have animals in their house.  He can suggest to everyone they euthanize their pets?”  Dart was also directed by the appeals court to send a copy of the order to Visa and Mastercard and all other recipients of the June 29 letter within 24 hours…

The recording is well worth your time, especially the segment from roughly the 18 minute mark to the 30 minute mark.  Dart’s mouthpiece clearly knows she’s spouting drivel, and the judges keep calling her on it.

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Sex work is the most pervasive profession for a reason: acquiring human connection is essential for life.  –  Jerome NicholsEric Mischel

Droit du Seigneur

Most cops think they’re nobles, but this one thinks he’s King David:

A Cowetta County, Georgia District Attorney, Peter Skandalakis…has said that his office will not pursue charges against an officer who used his special badge powers to have several men arrested and thus detained while he dawdled their romantic partners.  Luthersville Police Department Officer Eric Mischel became involved in several affairs with women in relationships with men whom he violated…Even though an investigation has revealed a mountain of unscrupulous and unlawful behavior, he will not be charged because D.A. Scandalous says he was unable to find evidence that he broke his oath of office…

The More the Better

A few of my favorite lines from “6 Reasons to Hire a Sex Worker“:

…a good sex worker will do their best and that’s more than you can expect from a lot of volunteer sex partners…Pros are professionals; they know what they’re doing and make more money when you have fun.  The better sex they offer you, the more likely you are to return…Sex workers have experience and wisdom to share with you.  They can offer you lessons in an afternoon some people take years to acquire…You’d never say no a driving lesson before getting your license…

The Last Shall Be First

Somehow I doubt this will stop morally-retarded politicians (pardon the redundancy):

…OSHA now requires all employers under its jurisdiction provide employees with restroom facilities…According to the new guidelines, “Restricting employees to using only restrooms that are not consistent with their gender identity, or segregating them from other workers by requiring them to use gender-neutral or other specific restrooms, singles those employees out and may make them fear for their physical safety.  Bathroom restrictions can result in employees avoiding using restrooms entirely while at work, which can lead to potentially serious physical injury or illness.”  The new memo states employers must accommodate their employees based on which gender that employee identifies with…

For Those Who Think Legalization is a Good Idea (#34)

millions of…sex workers…[are] anxiously waiting for [India’s] highest court to hand down a ruling which they hope will finally clarify the age-old profession s legal status.  Soliciting is illegal in India along with running a brothel and pimping, but the law, an archaic throw back to British colonial times, is vague on prostitution itself.  Sex workers are hoping the Supreme Court’s ruling will force the government to decriminalise the industry.  They say they are tired of being randomly targeted by police and sent to correction homes where they say conditions are worse than jails…

With Friends Like These…

Please, David Rosen, become a prohibitionist; if your attempt to hurt us is as totally wrong as your attempt to “help”, it’ll be a great pro-decrim argument:

…The real victims of commercial sex industry are the women, girls and some young men who are forced (or “choose”) to work in the sex trade.  These people most often live in poverty, have suffered physical and/or sexual abuse, lack affordable housing, have limited education, [and] have few job opportunities…The decriminalization of prostitution can help bring sex workers — the real victims of this “victimless” crime— out of the social shadows so they could secure labor rights, unemployment benefits, health care and life insurance…sex trafficking has reached epidemic proportion, with between 100,000 and 300,000 people annually at risk.  The Department of Homeland Security reports the average age for a girl sex worker at between 12-14 years and 11-13 years for boys.  The decriminalization of prostitution can help contain sex trafficking…


Another entry in the “climate change causes ‘sex trafficking’!” genre:

Pope Francis said he…believed the United Nations needed to play a central role in the fight against global warming…“the trafficking of human beings…has been created by climate change,” the pope said.  The remarks followed a day-long meeting of mayors from around the world…hosted by the Vatican…and…began by hearing [lurid tales] from two Mexican women who [claim to be] victims of modern-day slavery…

Unfortunately, this Pope seems to have completely swallowed the “sex trafficking” myth.

Policing for Profit

Just in case you don’t believe cops & politicians are completely out of touch:

An assistant district attorney in…Oklahoma lived rent-free in a house confiscated by local law enforcement under the practice of asset forfeiture.  His office paid the utility bills.  He remained there for five years, despite a court order to sell the house at auction.  Another district attorney used $5,000 worth of confiscated funds to pay back his student loans.  These are just a few of the gems unearthed during a recent hearing on Oklahoma authorities’ liberal use of asset forfeiture to take property from suspected criminals and spend it on personal enrichment…State Sen. Kyle Loveless…has sponsored a bill to…prohibit asset forfeiture unless a suspect was actually convicted of a crime, and stipulate that the money go to the state’s general fund…Unsurprisingly, cops are desperate to preserve the practice…We can’t stop people from having drugs unless we are allowed to steal more money has to be one of the least-convincing arguments for maintaining the drug war…

Hall of Shame (#428) 

Your periodic reminder that Dennis Hof is a revolting excuse for a human being:

…Dennis Hof…has started an exploratory committee to pursue a run for US Senate in Nevada, and created a plan to end sex trafficking…he plans to run on the libertarian ticket…Sex trafficking is an American epidemic far more dangerous than Ebola…and…the third biggest black market industry after drugs and arms trafficking…Hof…believes his experience with legal prostitution proves that decriminalizing the oldest profession would end one of the world’s biggest human rights issues…

Hof has never spoken in favor of decriminalization; he speaks in favor of legalization, and regularly implies that women are too stupid and weak to have sex for our own reasons without crony pimps holding our leashes.  He’s a “libertarian” like I’m a socialist.Hanna Fanni

Whore Detection

It isn’t only in the US that black women are routinely profiled as whores:

…on July 8th…the hotel staff at [the] five-star…Mövenpick Hotel [in Dubai] refused to serve [a Nigerian woman named Hanna Fanni ]…when she visited the hotel’s popular West Beach Bistro & Sports Lounge with her black American friend…“They suspected us of being prostitutes…solely because of the colour of our skin.  I have lived here for 10 years and have never been treated in such a disrespectful and despicable manner…First the waitress refused to serve us and then a security guard ordered us to leave the hotel.  At one stage he was ready to engage with us physically…he kept telling us that the bar didn’t allow unaccompanied women…[but] there were several tables occupied by women.  When I pointed to them, he said he was merely following orders…I showed [the bar manager] my business card…his face contorted in panic as it dawned on him that they had racially profiled the wrong people.  But instead of making amends, he said the security guard had asked us to leave as some black women had come in earlier and solicited their guests”…the hotel tried to make amend but they were so humiliated they had to leave…

Repeat Offenders (#449) 

Prohibitionists cut into street workers’ income by hanging around them:

They are a band of Christian soldiers who walk Akron’s streets looking for prostituted women.  Their sole goal is to pray that the weighty chains that bind these women to their lifestyles will be severed.  To tell them that there is a God who is mightier than their pimps.  And to say that He loves them for who they are — not because they can turn tricks.  The men and women who make up this army are part of RAHAB, a nonprofit ministry of hope.  To make themselves more accessible to those who are forced to sell their bodies, they work out of a house on the east side of Akron.  They say the girls who have been coerced onto the streets…are victims. And the…mission is to help them recover from the atrocities of human trafficking…

Seizing Power

Backpage.com is suing the sheriff in Chicago over his successful campaign to urge credit card companies to cut ties with the classified ads company…[the] lawsuit…[alleges] that…Thomas Dart…[is] censoring the company and its customers’ right to free speech…“Sheriff Dart’s actions to cripple Backpage.com and all speech through the site are an especially pernicious form of prior restraint,” the complaint says.  “He has achieved his purpose through false accusations, innuendo, and coercion, whereas, if he had brought suit directly or Cook County had attempted to pass a law to shut down the website, Backpage.com would have had a fair opportunity to respond and defeat such efforts, given well-established law”…

The Scarlet Letter (#553)

Unfortunately, the writer felt compelled to counter SWOP’s statements with anti-whore propaganda:

…”I’m a sex worker.  I’m not coerced.  I’m not trafficked.  I’ve been a sex worker my entire life,” [said Liz] Coplen…of the Sex Workers Outreach Project in Tucson.  Coplen said many women enter…sex work to make money.  The women on these sites range from college students, to single moms, to professionals with a side job.  Their clients also run the gamut, from police officers…to doctors, lawyers, soldiers and college professors…

Ashley Madison (#557) 

News that hackers are threatening to expose the personal information of the affair website AshleyMadison.com’s 37 million users undoubtedly has its members panicking.  The rest of us, though, are thinking, “Thirty-seven million?”  That is a whole heck of a lot of people who are looking to have affairs—roughly equivalent to the entire population of Poland.  But…only 2.3 million of those members are active users…(Think:  The population of Queens, New York.)  Disparities between total members and active users are typical with dating sites.  PlentyOfFish boasts 100 million registered users…but 3.6 million active daily users…OkCupid has 10 million active users…one in 10 dating profiles…are fakes made by scammers or spammers.  The rest are users who joined a given site and are no longer active—maybe they found love or just gave up on the whole proposition…

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The sacred whore may have largely ceased to exist in the mundane world of matter, but she still exists in the human unconscious.  And in the West, it has pleased her for a number of centuries now to work under the stage name Mary Magdalene.  –  “Magdalene’s Day”

Today is the feast day of St. Mary Magdalene, who was almost certainly not a whore; however, as I’ve explained before, that hardly matters.  Most people raised in the Christian tradition think of her as the patroness of whores, and that’s more important than any official designation.

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People you know and love purchase sex. And it doesn’t make them bad people at all.  –  Sarah Penello

Welcome To Our World

How irrationally stupid are people about sex?  This much:

…a study out of the University of Toronto Mississauga…looked at attitudes [on indoor prostitution and offering cash for organ donations. and] found that people generally disapprove of both, but are more firmly against indoor prostitution than they are against selling organs – particularly so among women…

Real People 

More of this, please:

I worked for a legal brothel in Australia and it was the best job I ever had…I loved and admired the women I worked with.  I took great pride in the pleasure I could give to people.  It was a job that I enjoyed, and I was better at it because I enjoyed it…Besides the inherent pleasure of a job well done, the monetary rewards of sex work are unmatched.  Try finding another job that allows me to choose my own hours and make over $1,000 per week on a part-time schedule.  In a legal, regulated and safe environment, the real trap of sex work isn’t usually the stuff of horror movies but the less exciting reality of the intoxicating quality of money…


He’s lucky he didn’t try to pay the pony:

A 74-year-old Frenchman who was caught in the act of having sex with a pony this week has walked free after escaping punishment…[he] was caught in the act…by a member of staff in the pony’s stable at a horse-riding centre…the witness…was unable to be absolutely sure that intercourse took place [so]…police released [him] due to insufficient evidence…

Above the Law John Van Trump

What a brave hero!

…[Texas cop] John Van Trump was [convicted] of sexually assaulting a girl younger than six-years-old…[he faced] a minimum sentence of 25 years in jail and the potential for life…The details of Trump’s crimes were so heinous that they were not released publicly.  We only know that Trump sexually assaulted the daughter of his former girlfriend on multiple occasions.  At the time of the…crimes, she was 5…However, instead of the minimum 25-year sentence he originally faced, Trump received far less time.  In fact, he received no time.  Trump will not serve one day in prison.  Trump was sentenced to 10 years deferred adjudication.  In other words, Trump, a convicted child rapist, will avoid jail altogether after admitting to these heinous accusations…

Uncharted Seas

Nathan Collier and his wives Victoria and Christine applied at the Yellowstone County Courthouse in Billings [Montana] on Tuesday in an attempt to legitimize their polygamous marriage…The Supreme Court’s ruling on Friday made gay marriages legal nationwide.  Chief Justice John Roberts said in his dissent that people in polygamous relationships could make the same legal argument that not having the opportunity to marry disrespects and subordinates them…

New Excuse

I’m really pleased to see others talking about the War on Whores as the new War on Drugs:

…As the drug war has lost popularity, the war on trafficking has gained momentum.  Both the war on drugs and the war on trafficking are housed within the criminal justice system, operating through punishment and incarceration.  Both wars seek to eliminate their abstract opponents by attacking communities of drug users and sex workers, composed mainly of poor people of color.  One way in which both…operate is through the use of increased sanctions.  The criminal justice system imposes harsh penalties on drug and sex related crimes, which in turn leads to mass incarceration, blocking upward mobility for those targeted…

Another Fine Mess

Though this story has some good features, it’s far too mired in the notion that prior to the internet, a very large fraction of sex work was street work (when in fact, street work has always been a minority).  And near the end of the story, the reporter makes the shockingly-incorrect statement that in the US, indoor sex work isn’t criminalized; I can’t imagine how anyone who hadn’t literally just arrived from some other country could possibly be so ignorant about the status of sex work in this country.

Coming and Going (#515) Greg Abbott applauds himself

Given his record of persecuting whores as Texas attorney general, I think we know which it is:

[Texas] governor Greg Abbott, three weeks after effectively telling drug overdosers to drop dead by killing a bill to protect Good Samaritan 911 callers from prosecution…took another…regressive potshot at the Legislature’s attempts to make Texas’ criminal justice system just a bit more humane.  Among the measures killed by…vetoes…was Dallas state Representative Eric Johnson’s HB 1363, which would have reduced penalties for certain prostitution offenses…It’s hard to find a policymaker in Texas…who isn’t in favor of cautiously reducing penalties for nonviolent offenders, and Johnson’s bill is nothing if not cautious.  That leaves only a few possible explanations for Abbott’s veto:  He’s a true believer in an outmoded punitive, tough-on-crime approach to criminal justice; he’s not a true believer but is in thrall to people who are; or he bears a deep-seated animosity toward prostitutes, as he does with drug users.

That Old Black Magic (#546)

Witch doctors do magic vs magic of other witch doctors that kings’ magicians dislike:

…thousands of Nigerian women trafficked to Europe…become sex slaves every year [have] been told [they owe tens of thousands of euros]…for [the] journey…Although the chains…are only psychological, they are extremely powerful.  In their desperation to break the hold over the girls, many of which are sent on the migrant boats crossing the Mediterranean, the Italians have even resorted to get Catholic priests to perform exorcisms on them.  There are estimated to be 25,000 Nigerian girls working as prostitutes in Italy and the numbers arriving rose 300 per cent in 2014, experts say…in Nigeria [witch doctors perform] voodoo [over them and]…promise…hairdresser [jobs but force them into prostitution instead.  They believe they must]…pay off the debt or face terrible repercussions…

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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 (#418)


…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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