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Can you tell me why I am imprisoned like this if I’m the one who was wronged?  –  Jasmin, Bangladeshi sex worker

Against Their Will

It’s for their own good!

…when I first arrived at one of the most well-known “rescue and rehabilitation” centres for women and girls in Dhaka, Bangladesh, I was immediately struck by the iron bars on all the doors and windows.  A number of female security guards paced up and down the dark hallways.  The atmosphere in the building was a far cry from what the NGO staff at the main office had described as an “oasis of freedom from violence and degradation”…this organisation [was reputed to be]…committed to women’s economic empowerment [and]…was widely acknowledged by national and international funding agencies…In the weeks and months that followed, my conversations with the young women whom the shelter labelled as “trafficking survivors” revealed that…their “rescue” had…led to another series of experiences of coercion and disempowerment, this time perpetrated…by their “rescuers”…

The Last Shall Be First

I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that politicians can’t get their minds out of the toilet, given the contents of their heads:

The South Dakota state legislature…passed a bill that would require public school students to use the bathroom, shower and locker room that correspond to their biological sex.  If Gov. Dennis Daugaard…signs the bill, as expected, South Dakota would become the first state to enact such a law.  The bill has provoked outrage from gay and transgender rights activists, who say it discriminates against transgender children.  They say that it could put schools at risk of lawsuits; in 2014, the Education Department issued guidance finding that Title IX…requires that students be permitted to use facilities that match their gender identity.  But the bill’s proponents [pretend]…that the legislation…respects privacy while also meeting the needs of transgender students by requiring [them to be singled out by using] private facilities, such as a teacher’s or nurse’s bathroom…

Pyrrhic Victory

All too often, evil arrives cloaked in the mantle of expediency:

School lunch lines in the UK can be fraught: students receiving free lunches may not want their peers to know, lost payment cards mean some go without, and code-based payments leave children at risk of “shoulder surfing”, where others spot their number and use it to buy their own meal.  Fingerprint scanners are being presented as one solution for doing away with this stress…biometrics company BioStore [says] “Biometrics can’t be lost or forgotten, stolen or used by someone else…this improves a school’s safety”…The Department for Education doesn’t track how many schools use biometric systems, but in 2014, campaigning group Big Brother Watch estimated that more than a million secondary schoolchildren had handed over their fingerprints…Add in other new technologies such as wearables, and civil rights campaigners fear the result is that surveillance is quietly being normalised in children from a young age…

King of the Hill

The only thing more ludicrous than big cities competing to be “sex trafficking hubs” in the US is small cities competing to be the top “hubs” in their states:

The Newport News Department of Human Services…held a community [panicmongering session]…about human sex trafficking…Lt. Michael Hudgins…said Hampton Roads ranks number three for hotspots for sex trafficking in Virginia…

Above the Law (#132)

Three years. That’s how long it took them to bring this to trial:

Two [LAPD pigs] have been charged with repeatedly raping and sexually assaulting several women…The men threatened their victims with arrest…and [raped] at least some of the women in the back seat of the unmarked police car they drove together…Luis Valenzuela…and James C. Nichols…face more than a dozen felony charges, each stemming from allegations they preyed together and alone on four women from late 2008 to 2011…They [vaginally raped some and orally raped others]…Valenzuela also is accused of assaulting one woman with a gun.  The charges carry a possible punishment of life in prison…

Under Every Bed

A “sex tourism destination” about an hour’s drive from Chicago.  And they’re serious.  “Prostitution has long been an issue in the City of Rockford.  Academic studies, news reports, and anecdotal evidence show Rockford is a popular sex tourism destination for men all over the stateline…”  The rest is just typical “end demand” filth and gloating about how much money they’re stealing from men.

Stupor Bowl

Even papers skeptical of the “gypsy whores” myth often accept the larger “sex trafficking” mythology:

…much like the myth of a Super Bowl sex trafficking boom, [the FBI’s] “success” isn’t so convincing once you peek behind the numbers.  The FBI arrested 12 pimps, “made contact” with 129 prostitutes, and busted 85 johns…during the two weeks preceding Super Bowl Sunday…Crime statistics can be malleable — and trafficking statistics especially so…not all the victims were trafficked.  [FBI mouthpiece Bertram] Fairries [said]…some of the 129 prostitutes the agency “contacted” were just independent sex workers conducting business as usual.  But much like the SFPD, which counts every sex worker it encounters as trafficked, the FBI considers all prostitutes “victims.”  According to FBI spokeswoman Michele Ernst, the only sex workers arrested were those who directly helped recruit or pimp other victims.  Strangely, the FBI claims it doesn’t know how many that was…

Bread and Circuses 

“Authorities” don’t care how many sex workers are hurt or killed in furtherance of their show:

Law enforcement in the Seattle area seized thereviewboard.net, a website where local sex workers posted advertisements and clients reviewed their services.  In related police raids, people who ran and moderated the site were among those arrested and charged with promoting prostitution, a felony.  That was just the most recent salvo in what human rights advocates call an “ongoing war against sex” under the guise of fighting sex trafficking.  Last August…officials in New York City shut down the gay escort site Rentboy.com and charged seven of its employees with promoting prostitution and laundering money.  Earlier in 2015, the sheriff of Cook County, Ill., pressured MasterCard and Visa to stop processing financial transactions for backpage.com…And in 2014, federal authorities shut down myRedbook.com…These closures represent a crusade to stamp out advertising outlets for sex workers.  But that’s not how law enforcement portrays it.  They [pretend] to be fighting sex trafficking…Shortly after the Seattle raids, for instance, Bellevue Police Chief Steve Mylett said that his men, working with the King County Sheriff’s office and the FBI, had broken up a “well-organized ring promoting sex slavery.”  Likewise, the Cook County sheriff called backpage.com a haven for pimps and traffickers.  There’s one big problem with that narrative: There’s little evidence that these web sites abet sex trafficking.  But we do know that shutting them down these makes life more dangerous for sex workers…

Challenge (#524)

Court delays favor the rich and powerful, so this is unsurprising:

A sex worker’s legal challenge to a new law criminalizing clients in Northern Ireland was put on hold after a last-minute intervention by Stormont’s First and deputy First Ministers.  Laura Lee issued unprecedented judicial review proceedings in a bid to quash [the] legislation…But the case was adjourned…after a judge was told Attorney General John Larkin QC has been instructed to oppose her challenge on behalf of Arlene Foster and Martin McGuinness…Justice Maguire requested full reasons for an intervention made on the eve of the hearing…[saying] “This application…has not been accompanied with any clear or cogent explanation as to the course of events”…

The Hooker Vote (#530) Hookers for Hillary

Actually, “Hookers for Hillary” doesn’t speak for any sex workers, much less “all”; it’s just a Dennis Hof PR scam:

The organization Hookers for Hillary…organized by Dennis Hof…is back in the news…with a major profile in The Guardian…other sex workers were skeptical of their motives…Anna Saini, an advisory board member of Best Practices Policy Project…said that Hookers for Hillary…“sounds like a mouthpiece for the Ranch owner, Dennis Hof…I’m certain Hillary Clinton has driven more people into the sex industry than any pimp or trafficker.  The policies that Clinton proactively supported—pushing people out of public housing, dismantling welfare, discriminating against formerly incarcerated people—have produced economic circumstances that force people into survival sex”…one of Hookers for Hillary’s key points on their website [is]…“Nevada’s mandatory testing of legal prostitutes for sexually transmitted diseases is a successful example of effective government regulation…responsible government oversight is a key to protecting the public’s health from widespread disease.”  Saini called this aspect of their campaign “particularly appalling,” since it’s “an oppressive policy that is universally opposed by sex worker activists”…

Tyranny By Consensus (#568)

Is Michael Weinstein’s bizarre one-man crusade against porn over at last?

Cal/OSHA did not pass proposed regulations for the adult industry…that [would have required] safety goggles, condoms and dental dams in pornographic movies produced in the state.  The decision…brings to an end a years-long debate over instituting stricter workplace regulations around the potential transmission of sexually transmitted infections in the adult industry…AIDS Healthcare, the primary supporter of the proposed rules…[pretended] the amendments [would not] require goggles…[even though] the text of the rules states that “the employer shall provide … appropriate personal protective equipment such as, but not limited to, condoms, gloves for cleaning, and, if contact of the eyes with [bodily fluids] is reasonably anticipated, eye protection”…

Challenge (#582)

This good article on the challenge to California’s prostitution laws also contains a short profile of escort and activist Kimberlee Cline:

…Mother.  Traveler.  Activist.  And, in the eyes of the law, a career criminal who’s one encounter away from arrest and exposure…she’s represented by interest, if not name, in a federal lawsuit that seeks to overturn California’s anti-prostitution law on constitutional grounds…The courtroom drama…pits sex workers and their advocates against more than a century of morality-minded prohibition laws.  An up-or-down ruling has the potential to reverberate throughout the country…

Bell, Hook and Kettle (#609)

There’s a word for collaboration between government and private corporations; it’s “fascism”:

…Budget cuts forced [the Tucson, Arizona Police Department] to disband the vice unit years ago, but more than $700,000 from a three-year federal grant will provide money and resources to once again [harass and persecute sex workers and clients…pigs] have already made more than 100 arrests since the program started seven weeks ago…Only three people have shown an interest in receiving any sort of support services.  [Only] one…actually accepted them, but…she left after a couple weeks…[mystifying people too stupid to understand the concept of “bills”]…That’s where agencies like Gospel Rescue Mission and the Salvation Army come in…Myrna Garcia…said…“This collaboration is awesome”…

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If you want to reduce abuse, you need to find a way to hack the system that increases the power of marginalized people, not of the police.
–  Noah Berlatsky

For Those Who Think Legalization is a Good Idea

Remember, sex work is legal but “regulated” in India.  Here’s what that looks like:

…police abuse and bad laws live on despite decades of evidence of the harm being done to millions of Indian women…[who] are arrested under charges of “possession of condoms”, or even on false charges of “possession of narcotics”…(They) are rounded up at the end of the month when the target for petty/minor offences are not met…Some [cops] are known…to be self-avowed crusaders against “prostitutes”.  Instead of protecting these women from…criminal elements, the police adds its own violence and abuse to that of other criminals…whether [under] the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1986, or the myriad “vagrancy” and “public indecency” acts commonly used against them…[police] “victimise the women,” doubling their “exploitation and extortion”…

It Looks Good On Paper

It’s not “surprising” in the least; as I’ve explained repeatedly, only very rare “perfect victims” are helped by so-called “safe harbor” laws:

…Latesha Clay…was sentenced to prison for up to 20 years…Clay, whose name was inexplicably released by local press despite her status as a minor, had been offered up as bait in a Backpage post advertising sex with the underage girl.  When the clients showed up at a Motel 6…they were met by an adult male, Trayvin Donnell Lewis, who used a realistic-looking airsoft gun to drive the clients to an ATM and rob them…However, Clay herself fits every guideline for qualifying as a trafficking victim just by virtue of being underage and [advertising] online for sex.  According to the Justice Department’s federal definition of sex trafficking, a person under 18 engaging in prostitution (even the mere “offering” of sex for sale) is automatically considered a trafficking victim regardless of whether a pimp or client used “force, threats of force, fraud, or coercion, or any combination of those means, to cause the minor to engage in a commercial sex act”.  When the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (JVTA) was signed into law in 2015, many advocates [imagined] the federal government [would] increase protections for underage…teens…in the sex industry…That’s why Clay’s prison sentence, rather than the kind of support and treatment outlined by the JVTA, is surprising…

Tyranny By Consensus 

Los Angeles County and the porn industry are at “a stalemate” over a mandatory condom requirement, according to criminal and constitutional lawyer Paul Cambria Jr…”Measure B”…was approved by L.A. voters in 2012, and has been embroiled in legal challenges ever since…Both a U.S. district court and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Vivid’s argument that the condom law violates the First Amendment…But…affirmed the lower court’s decision to enjoin several key provisions…including stipulations that noncompliant production companies could have their permits taken away and a provision related to searches and seizures…The state can still go after filmmakers under California’s occupational safety rules, however…the agency’s heart doesn’t seem to be in enforcement…Karen Fuller Tynan…who specializes in adult-industry cases…helped one client settle with the agency for $685—down from an initial attempt to fine the company more than $20,000 for “lack of barrier protection” in a film scene.  She also represented porn company Evil Angel…they went to trial, and half way through the first morning in court the agency dropped all charges related to condoms…

The Public Eye

This interview with retired madam Jami Rodman is overblown & sensationalized, as such interviews tend to be when the interviewed sex worker was connected to some kind of scandal.  But the more the public sees us as real people, the harder it will be to keep the “sex trafficking” lie afloat.

Bottleneck

How Laws Regulating Sex Work Ignore Workers Themselves” is another good example of the stupid, evil laws created by amateurs to “regulate” sex workers, justified under the excuse of “protecting” us from our own choices.  Click to open the image at right, then click again to enlarge.

Checklist

Fellow librarians: this is bullshit.  It is a serious breach of your professional ethics to support the surveillance state against patrons:

…More than 800 staff members at all of San Diego’s 36 library locations recently received training on how to spot sex trafficking victims, how to start a conversation with them, and ultimately how to steer them to the appropriate resources for help…Local law enforcement statistics show an alarming rise in sex…trafficking cases.*  San Diego is one of the top 10 worst cities in America for human trafficking**, and…it is the second most lucrative industry in the region, right behind drug trafficking.^  “It’s a big problem with gangs,” said [library director Misty] Jones. “Gangs are actually trafficking people more so than trafficking drugs now”^^…

*  No, they don’t.   **No, it isn’t.
^ No, it isn’t.        ^^No, they aren’t.

Opting Out

New Zealand bureaucrat imagines he can stop people from seeing online porn he doesn’t like, despite the fact that Australia abandoned a similar censorship scheme as unworkable:

…deputy chief censor Jarred Mullen detailed the harm that [he pretends] increasingly extreme pornography that can cause, and outlined some possible steps towards regulating it.  These steps could include an ISP level ban, where pornography viewers have to “opt in” to viewing pornographic content, similar to that of the United Kingdom’s…Current censorship law…already bans certain types of pornography, including [BDSM & scat]…Censors also look at whether the pornography “degrades or dehumanises or demeans any person,” but this does not necessarily result in a ban.  The censor’s office reviews every DVD released in New Zealand, as well as anything customs seize at the border, but their control over online market is essentially non-existent…

All-Purpose Excuse

in California…an elected official [is] attempting to use the latest law-and-order magic words—”human trafficking“—to push for mandatory decryption on smart phones…Jim Cooper wants to order smartphone manufacturers to be capable of decrypting and providing access to their products on demand…Cooper [bloviated]…”We’re going after…people who are doing bad and evil things.  Human trafficking trumps privacy, no ifs, ands, or buts about it“…

Moving Pictures 

Yet another ridiculous “sex trafficking” fakumentary:

…Filmmaker Gunther Meisse II teamed up with…Mark Lovely to create a…30-minute documentary on human trafficking, “Shadow in the Heartland”…The pair hope to [sell] the documentary…to schools throughout the state so teachers can show it in…schools where it can be seen by young people who are most vulnerable to human trafficking…In 2013, Ohio ranked fifth among all states for calls to the Nation Human Trafficking Hot Line.  Each year an estimated 1,078 Ohio children become victims…

Stupor Bowl (#601)

This is the typical “Super Bowl sex trafficking” story now; it debunks the specific gypsy whore myth while still accepting the greater “sex trafficking” myth:

Media briefs screamed into inboxes, blaring in all caps that the Super Bowl is NOT the largest human trafficking event in the world.  But…officials from the D.A.’s office and City Hall took the mic at Boeddeker Park to declare human trafficking an invisible scourge that haunts us 365 days a year…It’s hard to say how what began as an urban legend became the animus for ad campaigns and undercover stings involving everyone from local police departments to the FBI to the Department of Homeland Security…The Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women reported that in 2008, 2009, and 2011, local law enforcement observed “no increases in sex work-related arrests” during the Super Bowl…judging by statistics, San Francisco is a hub of the global trade in humans.  The city has the 13th-highest number of child sex trafficking cases in the country…Many victims are shuttled through brothels, massage parlors, and other underground channels, while some are never counted at all…

But because the rescue industry can see the end of the hysteria is coming, it’s really trying to milk this Super Bowl for everything it can get:

…Traffickers from all over the nation and local traffickers already here are believed to gravitate toward the thousands of fans in town for the game.  Lisa Blanchard, executive director of the Grateful Garment Project, believes a sizable number of girls and boys trapped in the sex trade will be arrested or detained, enough to persuade her to organize Sunday’s backpack-stuffing event…”We’re already a hot spot…so when you bring in a big event like the Super Bowl, common sense tells you there will be an increase.”  Her…group assembled two dozen or so volunteers…to fill 165 backpacks with several items, including fleece pants and sweatshirts, underwear, socks, toiletries, flashlights and books — memoirs by people who survived the illicit trade.  Blanchard said the youths would need the clothing and items because they’re dressed “scarcely, almost naked,” when they’re [arrested]…by police…

The idea that “trafficking” fanatics arrive at their beliefs by anything remotely involving common sense is hilarious, but it may not be as funny as this:

The Archdiocese of New Orleans is calling on all Catholics to take a stand against human trafficking.  They want people to fast from social media on February 1…“the…day of Prayer and Awareness coincides well with two major events that cause a spike in human trafficking activity:  the Super Bowl (February 7) and, locally, Mardi Gras (February 9),” the Archdiocese said…Barbarella orgasmatron

The Pygmalion Fallacy (#605) 

You almost have to feel sorry for geeks, wanking to their ludicrous fantasies of a day when they only have to pay once for sex instead of every time.  But really, the idea that computers or highfalutin’ 3D goggles could ever replace actual women is deeply misogynistic at best, and misanthropic at worst:

…The world’s oldest profession is under attack from the newest…VR displays video through screens that strap to your face and create lifelike scenes…[Nevada brothel] Sheri’s Ranch has taken notice of the changes shaking the porn industry and is worried they could be bad for business…Demand for sex might be a constant, but how people go about getting it done has changed.  These days, they’re not paying for it like they used to. In 1948, 69 percent of American men reported having at least one experience with a prostitute, according to a study by The Kinsey Institute.  By the 1990s, that fell to as little as 15 percent…

No, it didn’t.  Honestly, repeatedly refuting this bullshit gets exhausting.

The Pro-Rape Coalition (#605)

Contrary to a…report by CNBC, picked up by numerous other media outlets, Penthouse is not shutting down its print magazine.  According to [managing director] Kelly Holland…the magazine is launching a digital edition, [but] that will be a companion to, not a replacement for, its print publication…

Vendetta (#607)

Noah Berlatsky on Swanee Hunt’s HackTrafficking4Good scheme:

…the righteous, adrenalin-fueled approach to battling sex trafficking isn’t likely to help much of anyone.  The statistics on the site are grossly exaggerated and confused.  The claim that hundreds of thousands of children are at risk of sex trafficking is based on what the Washington Post calls “nonsense facts,” and the 12-14 year age of entry is similarly dubious.  In fact, the whole narrative that pimps are systematically kidnapping children and forcing them into sexual slavery doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.  Most underage people…engage in survival sex because they are fleeing abusive situations at home…not because they are in the thrall of criminal gangs.  The vision of noble hackers helping police to swoop in and save exploited women is dear to the hearts of anti-prostitution groups like conference sponsor Demand Abolition.  But it’s also fanciful—not least because police are in fact one of the chief dangers faced by sex workers…But the HackTrafficking4Good conference doesn’t see law enforcement as a potential threat.  Instead, the conference is focused on helping police with surveillance…

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You will hear our voices, because they are becoming louder and louder and you can’t drown us out any longer.  –  Laura Lee

Above the Law 

Well, this is different:

Male strippers stopped by gardai for having no tax disc performed for female officers to get out of a fine…They…entered the Garda station and began their performance.  But one female is understood to have fallen during the incident, injuring her back…an internal investigation is underway…the officer who brokered the “deal” is also being investigated…

The Rape Question rape rate by age

I’ve been saying this for 30 years:

In…1975…Susan Brownmiller…asserted that “rape is about power, not sex.”  Ever since, the conventional wisdom has been that rapists are misogynistic men seeking domination and power over women, not violent men seeking sex…there has been no significant empirical research to support her claim.  Yet, almost everyone repeats it…Social science has demonstrated a strong relationship between age and sexual attractiveness.  Heterosexual men are sexually attracted to young women, while homosexual men are attracted to young men…If rapists are primarily motivated by the desire for power and domination, then one would expect them to prefer middle-aged, career women.  However, if rapists primarily desire sex, then one would expect them to prefer young women and men…The percentage of female victims who are over 50 is close to zero…A 15-year-old male is more likely to be a victim of a sexual assault than a 40-year-old female…An analysis of whether female robbery victims are sexually assaulted during the incident suggests that the sexual attractiveness of young people is an important factor.  Since the robber has already established dominance over a vulnerable victim, the effects of opportunity and vulnerability are removed, and only the effect of the offender’s age preference remains.  In such cases, robbers are much more likely to rape victims between the ages of 15 and 29…The reason most rapists target females is that a larger percentage of males are heterosexuals, not that they hate females…Gay men are just as likely to attack males as straight men are to attack females…

The Pygmalion Fallacy

Plus the fact that so-called “virtually reality” doesn’t involve actual touch:

Virtual reality technology is unlikely to kill off real sex work, according to people working in the business, even if the biggest predictions about it come true…Virtual reality allows people to strap on a headset and move around a world as if they are really there, with the image changing as they move their head for an immersive experience. But that experience will never be enough to threaten the business of real sex workers…

Imagination Pinned Down

I’ll just leave this right here:

Stories are so natural that we don’t notice how much they permeate our lives…That’s precisely why they can be such a powerful tool of deception.  When we’re immersed in a story, we let down our guard…[and] may absorb things…that would normally pass us by or put us on high alert…In his book Actual Minds, Possible Worlds, Jerome Bruner…proposes that we can frame experience in two ways:  propositional and narrative.  Propositional thought hinges on logic and formality.  Narrative thought is the reverse.  It’s concrete, imagistic, personally convincing, and emotional.  And it’s strong…What kind of person do you need to be to make up a history of…sex trafficking?  For one thing, you need to have an intimate grasp of the workings of human psychology—you have to understand that this story, above any other, will elude scrutiny even when the facts that justify it are sparse.  Victims, in the right light, stand above reproach.  No one questions an escapee from human trafficking…

The central example of the article is the case of Samantha Azzopardi, but I don’t think you need me to point out dozens of other important examples.

Shift in the Wind (#134)

Mary Emily O’Hara of the Daily Dot published a very decent review of the year’s top sex work stories; however, in the course of preparing the article she used some materials without permission, possibly endangering sex workers.  Though the materials were removed when their original author protested to O’Hara, the incident just goes to show how little even sex-worker-friendly journalists stop to think about the effect of stigma on sex workers’ lives.

Little Boxes (#138)

Anyone who would be “alarmed” at the sight of a nipple needs to just stay home with a coloring book:

A proposed law in New Hampshire would charge women with a misdemeanor for exposing their nipples in public, with an exemption for the act of breastfeeding. Toplessness is currently legal for both women and men under New Hamphire state law, although some local ordinances forbid it…[the] bill would update the state’s indecent exposure and lewdness statute to include “a woman [who] purposely exposes the areola or nipple of her breast or breasts in a public place and in the presence of another person with reckless disregard for whether a reasonable person would be offended or alarmed by such act.”

Oscillation (#312)

This is what prohibition looks like when given perspective by time:

Hundreds of letters were received by [Irish] President Patrick Hillery in 1985, urging him not to sign legislation that allowed condoms to be purchased without prescription…In a file…released as part of the 30-year rule, letters warned of the “imminent dangers to which young people will be exposed” and claimed the “lives of decent people” would be “threatened in the streets and even in their homes” if [people could buy condoms]…A woman from Clontarf, Dublin, reminded Hillery that it wasn’t long since the people “voted to protect unborn life” in the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution.  “This Bill is totally opposed to the whole concept of unborn lifescreaming loony because it closes the door to the right of unborn life to be conceived,” she said…

Under Every Bed

I found out that human trafficking affects every single community.  Places big, small, urban or rural, human trafficking is everywhere.  The realities of human trafficking are disturbing and unsettling.  Experts at a conference I attended in September said the multi-billion dollar industry has now surpassed the drug and arms trades…

Uncommon Sense (#337)

Once again, myths and agency denial convince Switzerland to narrow the bottleneck for legal sex work:

…Switzerland began awarding eight-month permits in 1995 to women from outside the European Union who wanted to come to the country to work as strippers…The programme was meant to protect people who may have otherwise been vulnerable to sex traffickers…But…Swiss authorities…announced that [blah blah blah sex trafficking so]…the programme will formally be cancelled as of the new year…the visas, called “L permits”…gave women a chance to earn significant money in wealthy Switzerland which they could send home to their families…

This will, of course, result in these women working illegally, thus making them vulnerable to persecution by cops.  Progress!

Innocence Never Had

People are so unwilling to let go of the ridiculous “pimps & hos” myth and the “enslaved children” wanking fantasy, that even when they question a few of the elements they can’t let go of the rest:

While headlines tout stories of women and children trafficked from overseas…you need look no further than the streets of Los Angeles to find America’s sexually exploited kids.  Over 90 percent of [young people] under 18 [arrested by LAPD]…have not been kidnapped and stuffed into the back of a van, which is Hollywood’s version of sex trafficking…While “trafficked” implies transportation of victims across borders, anyone…under age 18 performing commercial sex acts is considered a trafficking victim…whether or not there is…force or coercion…When [a vice cop] suspects someone on the street is underage, he approaches her and introduces himself as an officer from the trafficking unit…Then, instead of arresting her, he [arrests her]…But girls like this aren’t usually rejoicing to be “rescued.”  In fact, they are usually afraid of law enforcement and attached to their pimp…

The Public Eye (#407)

Laura Lee published an open letter to prohibitionists:

…You’ve decided I’m the “dirty girl”, the one who ought to be ashamed.  You pour scorn on me when I don’t feel that shame…You tell me I must have been abused as a child, that can be the only explanation.  You tell me I’m irrational, I have PTSD or I simply don’t care about myself.  You tell me I can’t possibly parent, I can’t look after myself, let alone my daughter…You tell me that if I like what I do so much, I should work for free…you even tell me I target vulnerable disabled men, without one thought for their ability to make their own choices.  You lie, you do it all the time.  You tell the public that the country is awash with victims of trafficking when you know that simply isn’t true.  You put your own funding and career above my life…

No Other Option (#420)

In the US, this business would be violently suppressed and its customers and workers shamed, robbed and caged: “A 24-hour brothel in central Bankstown [NSW] will include…seven rooms for clients, including one [specially fitted] for people with a disability…

Checklist (#542)

A ridiculous and insulting new law takes effect in Florida:

Posters are going up in adult businesses, airports and other places where human trafficking victims might see them throughout Florida.  They are aimed at combating sex trafficking.  The FBI says Florida ranks third when it comes to human trafficking.  A new state law goes into effect Jan. 1 requiring adult businesses and other locations to display posters with telephone numbers and other information to assist potential human trafficking victims…

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I dazedly chose or hired the companionship of unsavory and insipid types. Regardless of their saltless reputations, I always led with condoms and honesty when it came to my condition.  –  Charlie Sheen

By now you’ve probably all heard that Charlie Sheen is HIV positive, and that in his Today show appearance he basically blamed it on sex workers.  He also claims to have “led with condoms” and denies any IV drug use.  Now, I’ve never seen Mr. Sheen professionally, but as it turns out I know someone who did in ’07.  This is her story, exactly as she told it to me yesterday; I have not changed a single word except to correct a few minor typos.  As you will see, it disagrees with two points of his denial of risky behavior; I have heard rumors of another, even riskier behavior, but unless someone is willing to write a firsthand account of that one I am not at liberty to mention it.  Normally, accounts like this one are outside my ethical bounds, but I’m not going to sit idly by while my sisters are blamed for something that they had nothing to do with.

“He’s a major player.  Don’t screw this up.”

That was the injunction issued to me by the booker of my agency in Los Angeles.  Curiosity piqued, I touched up my lipstick and ran down the stairs to get in my driver’s car.  The first words out of his mouth were, “Don’t you have anything more…revealing?”

Exasperated, I replied, “I can’t even sit down in this dress without starting a riot.  What do you want me to wear, a Band Aid?”  My driver informed me that this particular client was a known connoisseur of adult performers, and my chic little black dress was a bit too conservative for his liking.  I asked why he called our agency in the first place; we were a well respected escort service with a strict ” no adult performers” policy.

“He’s used us before.  He’s got money to burn and he’ll take good care of you.  Just don’t be…yourself.”  My driver soared up the Sherman Oaks side of the Hollywood Hills.  We turned into the Mulholland Estates and the guard cheerfully waved us through the gate.  I groaned, since I never had much luck in this neighborhood.  Something always seemed to go wrong.  A couple of muscular gentleman came to the car and told my driver he couldn’t stay.  My driver clearly expected this, patted me on the head and told me to go make money.

Charlie Sheen July 19, 2007Heart sinking, I walked to the garage with the security guards.  They checked my purse for a weapon.  After I passed that, one of them asked me if I knew who I was going to be seeing.  I replied that this wasn’t my first high profile client and certainly wouldn’t be my last.  He looked at me and started laughing.  I batted my lashes and laughed back.  “Oh, he’ll like you.  I’ll walk you up.”  We started the long trek uphill to the house.  The door opened and I heard a man yelling on the phone.  The security guards told me to have fun, and walked out of the foyer.  I heard a thud, as if something was thrown at the wall, and my client descended down the staircase…and his smile dissolved into one big question mark.

“Hi, I’m Charlie.  Nice to meet you.”  He stepped back and said “I expected you to be a little more…endowed?”

“My agency has a model quality guarantee.  If you don’t like me, the cancellation fee is $150, and I’ll go.  No hard feelings.”

I put my hands on my hips and turned to leave.  “No wait.  Please don’t go.  I just didn’t expect someone so…conservative.  You’re really pretty, I just like porn girls better.”  I asked him if he was sure.  He gave me a bear hug and said “Of course I’m sure, gorgeous.  Let’s go upstairs.”

We walked upstairs into a small bedroom.  I could tell by the smell someone had been smoking some form of narcotic.  Porn was playing on one television,baseball on another.  The smell was getting to me.  He watched my nose twitch.  “It’s crack, and I only do a few hits a night.  I try to be a good boy when I’m working.”  He asked me if I partied.  I replied that it depended on what it was.  He flashed his trademark grin and told me he had literally anything I desired.  I politely asked if we could take care of business first.  He turned and unlocked a drawer that had an astonishing amount of cash in it.  The amount he gave me was basically enough to ensure I would be staying a while.  He bragged that two well known adult stars had seen him last night.  I knew one of them, and I asked why he hadn’t called them back tonight.  “Cause I pay them to disappear, sweetheart.  Now come over here and sit on my face.”

Things took a turn for the awkward a few minutes later when he requested bareback.  I explained as delicately as I could that my agency didn’t allow that, and I personally preferred to use condoms as well.  He took the news in stride, but it was clear the condoms were interfering with things.  We proceeded to engage in other forms of contact.  After he finished, it was clear he didn’t hold it against me.  I cleaned him up, cleaned myself up, and I asked him what his call time was.  “Early!” he laughed.

I asked him if he wanted me to leave, and he gripped my hand and said he really wanted me to stick around longer.  I said that was just fine, and asked if I could party with him.  He located my drug of choice on the table and asked if I smoked it,snorted it or shot it.  I asked for a line.  He said most girls he knew smoked it or shot it, and that his nose was so messed up that he had to smoke most of what he did.  He also told me he had overdosed when he had mainlined years ago, so he only had needles around if someone he called over liked doing something that way.  I asked him if he was scared of someone ODing in his bathroom.  He said he had enough money to hush people up if they did.

His cellphone rang.  “I’m sorry, sweetie.  I’ll be right back after I take this call.”  He went into the other room and I heard him in an argument with a very pissed off woman.  He returned and it was clear he was agitated.  “That woman is going to be the death of me.”  I looked at him quizzically.  “My girlfriend.  She’s jealous of EVERYTHING.  Even my kids.”  I told him I was sorry about the drama.  “This is why I like porn chicks.  They don’t give a shit and they don’t wanna marry you.  It’s just awesome sex and they’re off.”

By now, it was 2 AM.  We dropped some Ecstasy, and he just wanted to hug me.  And he would not shut up….it was irritating and endearing at the same time.  He spoke of his love for women, and how he needed women as much as he needed alcohol, but his 12 step program at least helped him control the alcohol.  That, and something called gabapentin.  He droned on about how “nice girls” were just glorified whores, so dealing with actual whores was a pleasure by comparison.  “The world is better off with girls like you.  You’re an honest fuck.  And you have a pretty pussy.  Get out of this business while you can.”

I’m not sure if he knew what all he was saying.  He was rich and famous and he had the luxury of not making sense.  Behind the bravado, I saw a man who seemed genuinely terrified of being alone, yet also terrified of leaving his house.  Although it was clear he was a volatile individual, he wasn’t necessarily the monster he has been made out to be.  He complied with the rules of my agency, and we had a nice time.  I do think at the time he considered himself indestructible.  As I was leaving, he asked me if I knew any girls I could send him.  He said all he needed was titties and a hole.  I half jokingly told him I wasn’t doing my agency’s job for him.  That made him laugh.  “You are a very smart girl.  Don’t ever change.”

I watched his descent into madness a couple years later, and it saddened me; that wasn’t the man I had seen in 2007.  I do think the shock of his diagnosis sent him into a free fall.  The first stage of grief is denial and I think he genuinely wanted to believe he was fine, and the people he kept company with would be fine as well.  Unfortunately, I don’t think he had any idea of what potentially exposing the women in adult industries to HIV could mean for their careers.  The current stigma against people in the sex industries means that if they contract HIV, they can’t do their jobs.  And if they get caught by police while doing their jobs, they could be arrested under California’s draconian criminal transmission laws.  A felony charge makes it really hard for a former sex worker or adult performer to find a straight job with insurance benefits.  I think it behooves Mr. Sheen to pay for the testing of the sex workers he saw from 2011 to 2014 and if they do test positive, to set up a trust contributing for their medications.

lambskin condomsWhich brings us to the million dollar question:  did Charlie Sheen maliciously expose dozens of sex workers to HIV?  I honestly don’t think so.  I doubt that he knew that the lambskin condoms he preferred can’t prevent HIV transmission.  I also think the antiviral medications he is taking have lowered the virus to an almost undetectable level.  As far as informing people of his status…I wouldn’t want to be a straight celeb saying they’re HIV positive for all the money in the world.  People will sell anything to a tabloid.  Although his allegedly not informing partners that he is HIV positive is wrong, if nobody so far has come up with HIV, how is this the public’s business?  Selling pictures of his medication to the highest bidder was wrong.  And if the person who did so had previously signed a nondisclosure agreement, it’s just as illegal as deliberately exposing someone to HIV.

As for the infamous open letter and the Today show interview…I don’t think writing it was his idea.  His PR team is shitting bricks right now and knows this is the only real defense he will have if he is named as a defendant in any potential lawsuit in the future.  He also has his children to think about.  He could afford to be honest and testify for Heidi Fleiss in 1996, because he wasn’t in the middle of two separate child custody cases.  Right now, he and his team are in damage control mode, so the spin doctors have to take advantage of the stigma against sex workers.  Otherwise their client would be forced to take responsibility for his own actions, which in Hollywood carries even more stigma than sex work does.

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The sex is ever to a soldier kind.  –  Homer, Odyssey (XIV, 246)

camp followersSince the time humans began carving out territories for ourselves, we’ve been going to war with one another.  Since the rise of centralized governments such wars have usually been conducted by a professional warrior class, and wherever the soldiers have gone whores have never been far behind.  Every army, whether on the march or in garrison, has attracted “camp followers”, non-military personnel who follow along because it’s profitable to do so.  And because armies are (and always have been) mostly made up of healthy young men, deprived of the company of young women and with nothing in particular to accomplish with their pay, many camp followers have always been prostitutes (indeed, the former is often used as a euphemism for the latter).

Up until a century ago, nobody pretended to be surprised by this or subscribed to the ridiculous delusion that it could or should be prevented somehow; the first country to imagine otherwise, the United Kingdom, first contented itself (starting in 1864) with a series of increasingly-oppressive “Contagious Disease Acts” justified as a means of preventing the spread of STIs in the military.  But even the British allowed their officers in the Great War to avail themselves of well-run “blue lamp” brothels…while denying the enlisted men prophylactics and restricting them to makeshift “red lamp” facilities staffed by near-amateurs, then wringing their collective hands at an STI rate seven times that of their German foes.  And while the French, Canadians and New Zealanders followed the same sort of pragmatic practices as the Germans did, the Americans preferred the British “order the men to be asexual” approach; New Orleans’ “Storyville” district was closed by federal order in 1917 at the urging of Josephus Daniels, Secretary of the Navy, who considered the whores a “bad influence” on the sailors at the nearby naval base.

By the time of World War II, it seemed the pragmatic approach was winning:

…The military governor of Hawaii did everything he could to make the hookers of Honolulu happy; Hitler ordered that his troops be issued blow-up sex dolls; the American authorities distributed condoms; and the Japanese resorted to the abominable “comfort women” scheme (which was also used in reverse form, with Japanese whores for American troops, during the first year of the occupation)…illustrations of feminine pulchritude…brightened barracks, bunks, tents and even the noses of bombers.  On British planes, those paintings were often of Jane, a shapely Daily Mirror comic-strip character who would always somehow manage to lose her clothes by the last panel, usually in some incredibly unlikely fashion;nose art In the Mood Christabel Leighton-Porter, the model upon whom she was based, also posed for nude photos which were literally dropped in bundles to the troops to increase morale…

But this swing toward rationality was short-lived, and soon after the war the world lost its collective mind on the subject:

…The Vietnamese and Ouled-Nail prostitutes who served as nurses during the siege of Dien Bien Phu have almost been erased from history, as have the women of Honolulu’s tolerated brothels who served the same function after Pearl Harbor and entertained the Navy for the rest of the war.  The French like to pretend that women who survived by providing services to the occupying Nazis were somehow different from the others who were forced to deal with them; the Japanese still deny the extent or even the existence of the military brothels in which they enslaved (mostly Korean) women for the “comfort” of their troops.  And the American military establishment continues to demand that its men avoid the company of professionals no matter how much this policy angers the host country or how many sexual assaults result from it, thus prioritizing the wishes of prudish fanatics above the health and happiness of the troops of both sexes…

There is no way to tell how long this will go on, but sooner or later this neo-Victorian prudishness must end; things go in cycles, and eventually the sex-negative phase we’ve been in for over a generation now will be discarded by younger people eager to do things differently.  But as military organizations themselves are also changing due to the advance of technology, what will that mean for sex workers?  Only time will tell, but I feel perfectly safe in declaring that as long as military organizations exist, they will continue to have a deep and close relationship with whores, whether those in power approve or not.

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Somewhere, some document says I am entitled to the pursuit of happiness.  I can’t think of many things that make most people happier than sex.  –  “Bacchus”

Lying Down With Dogs

The US should be proud to be in such august company:

A Russian lawmaker intends to draft a bill introducing fines and community service for using the services of prostitutes.  The existing draft suggests…significantly harsher sanctions for married men and women.  Oleg Mikheyev…said…his suggestions would help to combat prostitution more effectively [because of “end demand” dogma]…He [incorrectly claimed] that similar measures had worked in…Sweden and Norway…

Acting and Activism 

After two years of waffling, Amnesty International appears ready to finally get off the fence about decriminalization.  And the usual cast of Hollywood airheads is very unhappy about it:

Amnesty International says its proposed policy “is based on the human rights principle that consensual sexual conduct between adults…is entitled to protection from state interference”.  It cites many examples in which criminalization increases risks to sex workers…”This policy does not change Amnesty International’s longstanding position that trafficking into forced prostitution should be criminalised”…the proposed policy states…[this] prompted a letter of protest from more than 400 [prohibitionists]…including actors Meryl Streep, Kate Winslet, Anne Hathaway, Angela Bassett, Kevin Kline, Emma Thompson, Lisa Kudrow, Lena Dunham, Kyra Sedgwick, and director Jonathan Demme…The proposed policy will be addressed at Amnesty International’s international council meeting next month in Dublin, Ireland…

empty-headed celebrities

Rooted in Racism

You can be as bigoted as you like, as long as you blame it on whores:

…Alecsandra Puflea tried to check into a room at the Holiday Inn Express in Hull with her boyfriend…but…was turned away after the receptionist found out she was from Romania.  The 22-year-old criminology and forensic science graduate…had booked the room online…The hotel introduced a policy of [discrimination]…after other Romanian women were found to be using the rooms for prostitution…the hotel has now apologised to her and is reviewing its policy…

Above the Law 

A police chief in a small island village in Ohio looked the other way when one of his officers used “roofies” to drug and rape two female cadets, then threatened the victims and covered up the crime, two federal lawsuits allege…the women charge that [Robert] Lampela, 53, wouldn’t allow them to file criminal complaints after they were…attacked in 2003 [in the town of Put-in-Bay]…Lampela…harassed them repeatedly when they complained, held a gun to one cadet’s head at her home and said he was the “God of Put-in-Bay and could make or break” their careers.  When one of the cadets allegedly got a verbal confession from their attacker, Lampela responded that “No whores are going to take down my department,” and “Who do you think they will believe, you or the chief of police?”  Lampela was [finally] arrested in February…

Finding What Isn’t There

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

The Michigan State Police claim few cases of human trafficking were reported last year…despite widespread publicity from elected officials and new laws aimed to combat the issue…only three [accusations] of human trafficking were [made] statewide in 2014…the…state Attorney General[‘s]…spokeswoman, Andrea Bitely…said the nature of human trafficking makes it difficult for law enforcement to…distinguish…victims from criminals…

If that last line doesn’t enrage you, I don’t know what would.

Broken Record 

The tiny numbers and silly language make this Irish version of the “gypsy whores” myth rather comical:

The Galway Races are set to turn sordid as…more than 50 hookers will descend on the city to coincide with one of the biggest events in Irish sport.  Plainclothes gardai will be on duty throughout the week in a bid to clamp down on prostitution…Escorts…as young as 18 are advertising on sordid websites, with 30-minute rates starting from €60 upwards, and hourly rates from €120.  All-night packages are also available for €2,000 or more.  Ruhama…[pretends] the influx of hookers is orchestrated by criminal gangs….[and] that men who pay for sex at the festival are helping to fuel organised crime…Up to 150,000 punters are expected to descend on Galway Racecourse over the course of the festival…

Skin To Skin

Kerry Porth describes her experience with a disfigured client:

…James…had severe scars from burns and skin grafts that covered 40% of his body…when he was 14 years old, his family home caught fire…he ran back in to save his sister by lowering her out her window…He continued to see me every few weeks for about 18 months.  During that time he told me about dating situations where young women had reacted in terrible ways to the sight of his scars, even though he had told them why he had them.  I wanted to find those girls and slap them.  I encouraged him to keep trying – that one day he would find the right woman.  And then one day he did…and…[came to] see me one last time to say…thank you for…convincing him that he wasn’t disgusting…

Challenge

What If They Threw a Party and Nobody Came? (#321)

The largest review of the available evidence on the…HPV vaccine Gardasil, has found no evidence of any serious short-term or long-term safety issues.  Bringing together the findings from clinical trials, post-licensure studies and data presented at scientific meetings but not yet published, the researchers focused particularly on autoimmune diseases, nervous system disorders, anaphylaxis, blood clots and stroke – but none of them is caused by the vaccine, they found…

A Year Later

The more female sex workers feel connected to their colleagues, the less they engage in risky transactions with clients who refuse to wear condoms, according to a new study urging the Conservative federal government to repeal its anti-prostitution law.  The study…found a third of the 654 Metro Vancouver sex workers interviewed over a three-year period reported being coerced into letting a client perform vaginal, anal or oral sex without a condom in the previous six months…The ability of sex workers to organize and protect themselves will continue to be severely hampered by…Bill C-36…which…pushes such workers into more dangerous areas and activities so they can protect their clients…

Welcome To Our World (#536)

As I said, “nothing more than a concern troll“:

…a series of articles published in The New York Times purported to expose rampant labor abuses in New York City nail salons.  Reporter Sarah Maslin Nir claimed to have interviewed more than 100 employees of such salons and found that manicurists working long shifts for as little as $10 per day was the norm.  Public response was swift and emotional, sending the Internet-outrage-spiral into full force and even influencing New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to pass emergency regulations for nail salons…But as with so much high-profile message journalism recently, the Times article seems based on dubious facts and broad generalizations.  In The New York Review of Books, Richard Bernstein challenges many of the claims on which Nir’s narrative is based…Nir [claimed]…that “Asian-language newspapers are rife with classified ads listing manicurist jobs paying”…just $10 per day.  Bernstein and his [Chinese] wife found this surprising, so they started combing through the employment ads in those papers themselves.  What they found…was a lowest rate of $70 per day plus tips, and many…up to $110…

Seizing Power

“Crucified” is a much stronger word than I would use for this nearly-toothless rebuke:

A federal judge crucified…Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart [for his]…attack…on Backpage.com…Backpage sued Dart after he coerced Visa and Mastercard to refrain from doing business with the classifieds portal.  Dart labeled the company a “sex trafficking industry profiteer“…because of its adult ads.  Backpage claimed…that Dart’s actions amount to “an informal extralegal prior restraint of speech”…[and] Judge John Tharp Jr. agreed…ordering the sheriff to cease the attacks…The judge added that “Dart’s informal lobbying of the credit card companies violated the First Amendment by imposing an informal prior restraint on the advertisements hosted by Backpage.com”…The judge did not immediately order Dart to retract the letters…more litigation is expected…

If You Want Something Done Right…

The only important nugget of information in this article:

Neal Falls, the suspected serial killer slain by an escort in West Virginia, may have…[been] involved in serial slayings in eight other states—Nevada, Illinois, Ohio, New York, Oregon, Texas, Kentucky, and California…

The rest is the typical garbage which appears so often in stories about such psychopaths:  he had a weird online profile, came from an abusive family, was a loner, had a puppy, etc.

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One of the most dangerous aspects of our work is the swarm of moral, political and legal authorities…who treat us like children and victims and, when we won’t behave like children and victims, criminalize us in a manner that sometimes leads to fatal exchanges.  –  Fleur de Lit

Ashley Madison 100% secure

Though I’m tempted to gloat, real people are being endangered here; furthermore, the hackers’ professed motives are horrific:

Data stolen by hackers from AshleyMadison.com, the online cheating site that claims 37 million users, has been posted online…The breach was confirmed in a statement from Avid Life Media Inc…the company said it would offer all users the ability to fully delete their personal information from the site — an option that was previously only available for a fee…the hackers, who identify as “The Impact Team,” got a hold of “sensitive internal data” not only for AshleyMadison, but also for other hookup sites owned by the company, Cougar Life…and Established Men… which promises to connect “young, beautiful women with successful men”…The Impact Team is threatening to expose all customer records unless Avid Life Media takes AshleyMadison and Established Men offline “permanently in all forms”…

The hackers described Ashley Madison as “a “prostitution/human trafficking website for rich men to pay for sex” and added, “too bad for those men, they’re cheating dirtbags and deserve no such discretion“.

Against Their Will

A 23-year-old woman’s pregnancy has blown the lid off a prostitution racket allegedly being run in an Ulhasnagar rehabilitation centre, which is supposed to be a safe home for women rescued from prostitution…no men, except for those who may be working at the centre, are allowed in…Senior police inspector Dhananjay Dhopavkar of Hill Line police station said, “What can we do? This centre has no security.  The women living there have been freely moving in and out of the place”…Dhopavkar added that the centre has been allowing sex workers to continue engaging in prostitution while living there…

Surplus Women 

A man aged 91 has confessed to the murder of a prostitute outside a Soho nightclub nearly 70 years ago.  The British expat walked into a police station near his home in Canada to admit to the killing in 1946 after he had been diagnosed with cancer.  He said he had shot the woman…after she had cheated him out of money…detectives scoured through old files of the unsolved murders…and the…man picked out a picture of…Margaret Cook…It is thought to be the longest gap between a crime and a confession in British criminal history.

Divided We Fall

Much more of this, please:

…Gay culture has a long history of sex work, from 1950s “hustle” bars where “straight” guys paid a commission to the bartender in order to hook up with gay johns, to 1990s go-go bars where queer dancers were often there to display their wares to potential clients…Gay literature celebrated sex work in the ’80s and ’90s…Plenty of gay men have written memoirs of their sex work…A disproportionate number of trans and queer youth…have done sex work for survival…[yet] at a time when we should be decriminalizing sex work, there’s a movement in the LGBT world to pretend sex work doesn’t exist, isn’t a queer and trans issue, isn’t something we’ve historically embraced…It’s time the LGBT community get behind legalization of sex work and embrace rather than distance ourselves from the unique role LGBT people have historically played in the sex industry.  Legalization actually makes a safer world for the women and men who do sex work, and it destigmatizes something as old as time.  Yes, especially now, in this new age of marriage equality and post-gay parenting and our happy white-picket-fence lives, there’s a need for us to stand up for the least-protected class of people, LGBT sex workers, and demand their rights now, too.

Gingerbread House

Another paint-by-numbers “sex trafficking” tall tale:

…the Twin Cities metro area is among the nations’ 13 largest centers for child prostitution with Minneapolis as the home base of a large domestic prostitution ring…More than 50 percent of all domestic prostitution victims are classified as runaway youth...living on the street…in almost all cases, youth are not choosing this life.  Traffickers/pimps recruit youth who may…be struggling…One…group of concerned citizens has been meeting and praying about…A Christian-based, safe housing facility focused on girls ages 12-18 with equine therapy…ranch residents will get guidance to realize their deep value and potential through the love of Jesus Christ…as they heal and transition into permanent housing…“We’ve heard that Highway 2 is a corridor to Duluth for sex trafficking – from the reservations to the ports and to the oil fields,” said [a prohibitionist]. “We often don’t think it’s here in our own town but it is”…“If…men…would understand that if they stopped using [girls] the problem would go away.  They need to realize the feeders into sex trafficking, like porn”…

Monsters Meagan Taylor

Hey, Gay Inc: if prostitution weren’t criminalized, transwomen couldn’t be arrested for being profiled as prostitutes:

…Meagan Taylor was…visiting Des Moines with a friend who is also transgender, and they were staying at a hotel…where…police showed up at their hotel room….[after the staff called the cops on] “two males dressed as females…[because the] staff was worried about possible prostitution activity”…[the pig stole her hormone pills and] charged [her] with possession of prescription drugs without a prescription…Taylor could be there for months…There is…no good reason for a 22-year-old nonviolent person like Taylor to be locked up indefinitely…the real offense is a private business calling police on paying guests because they didn’t conform to gender stereotypes…

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (#318)

People are starting to recognize the “Trafficking in Persons” report as a political weapon:

…the State Department is preparing to certify that Malaysia has made significant strides in fighting human trafficking — upgrading it to a Tier 2 “watch list”.  The timing couldn’t be better for the Malaysian government, which is eager to join the Obama administration’s landmark Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a massive trade deal…that aims to unite nearly 40 percent of the world’s GDP into one free-trade zone…[but] anti-trafficking campaigners say that no real progress has been made.  “Human trafficking and forced labor are as bad as ever here,” [said] Charles Santiago, a member of the Malaysian parliament…But in order for Malaysia to join the trade deal, it is crucial that its status be upgraded…legislation…[prohibits negotiation] with countries that have been designated Tier 3…”If we get Tier 2, it will be a blatant display of American hypocrisy…they might as well throw the entire TIP in the trash”…

Of course, Malaysia’s problem isn’t SEX “trafficking”, so it’s all good.

Drawing Lines 

Kudos to Margaret Corvid for being willing to eat crow with a good heart:

New sex worker writers often justify their sex work with respectability politics.  I did it. I fucked up with my very first piece, in a big venue, the Guardian, contrasting my sex work to that of hypothetical trafficked workers, so-called “miserable slaves”.  Even after taking feedback about that mistake, it took me a while to quit using my own favorable personal circumstances to make sex work more palatable to my readers.  I think that I did it because I was intoxicated with the power of my writing, and I thought my experience was important.  Guess what—sometimes it’s not…

Uncommon Sense (#420)

German politicians are determined to wreck their fairly-decent sex work system:

A proposed law reform would require Germany’s sex workers to carry licenses at all times.  It would mandate their clients wear condoms.  And it would authorize police to check up on these things without notice…“News travel fast, especially in small towns and villages,” said Undine de Riviere, a sex worker and spokeswoman of the Professional Association of Erotic and Sexual Services…“Many sex workers only work part-time. It would be a big problem if their main employer would know about it.  You can imagine what the parents of their children’s friends would think”…

Lack of Evidence (#439)

I did tell you so:

In a trend bristling with public-health implications, Sacramento sex workers are forgoing condoms because they fear they can be arrested for possessing them, say activists and clinic workers.  “We have a huge epidemic of sex workers who are not using protection because of the police activity,” said Kristen DiAngelo, who heads up a local branch of the Sex Workers Outreach Project…multiple street workers relayed similar tales of intimidation:  cops emptying their purses and photographing condoms as evidence, and even poking holes in their rubbers before handing them back while laughing…

The Public Eye (#549)

Funny, but I started sex work at 30 because “I wanted my body to belong to me again”.  Still, it’s good to see basically-positive articles on sex workers appearing in Cosmo.

First They Came for the Hookers… (#555)

Notice how bad laws often follow fads?

…if a controversial bill dubbed the “stripper registry,” is revived…all exotic dancers in Pennsylvania would be required to pay a $50 registration fee with the Department of State.  Dancers would need to provide full name, aliases, place and date of birth, height, weight, hair color, eye color, home address, telephone number, place of employment, a copy of their photo identification and a separate passport-sized photograph of themselves.  It also would require dancers to report whether they were victims of sex trafficking or had been convicted of a crime.  Other provisions in the bill would limit alcohol sales and ban lap dances in clubs.  Amid a flurry of public criticism, the legislation, originally intended as an anti-sex-trafficking bill, was…shelved — for now…

Seizing Power

I always know sex workers are in for a jolly good ride when an influential abolitionist invokes Pretty Woman…Tom Dart did just that when he persuaded Mastercard and Visa to stop allowing their credit cards to be used…for adult service ads on…Backpage…”We cannot turn a blind eye…and pretend this is some twisted Pretty Woman situation,” Dart told CNN…I am struggling to imagine what “a twisted Pretty Woman situation” looks like, so I’ll just say that the several dozen sex workers I know personally and professionally – and all those I’ve encountered in online forums and communities and at conferences – generally understand, because we do sex work and don’t just watch it on TV, that it isn’t like Pretty Woman.  In fact, it isn’t like it’s depicted in most films, songs, photographs, paintings or any other media, including some documentaries…

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