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Posts Tagged ‘condoms’

Adults with critical thinking abilities realize they aren’t entitled to treat other people like characters in a dream sequence.  –  Anonymous

Deadbeats

I can’t emphasize this enough: Don’t try to get freebies from sex workers.  Seriously.

If you’re trying to date or hook up with someone you know from their work in escorting or porn, without paying them, your chances of success are close to zero…It may come as a shock to hear this.  You may feel like sexual attraction is only part of the connection you have with this worker, and that paying would deny the authenticity of that.  Or maybe you think that you are a really good (looking) person and only creepy or unattractive people pay.  Maybe both you and the sex worker are queer and/or have similar politics.  You know sex workers and are down with decriminalization.  There are many reasons you may feel you are exceptional.  You are operating under a basic misunderstanding of who we are and what we are doing…

Lack of Evidence

In which China aspires to be more like the US:

…Condoms have come to play a central role in police activity around sex work. …[cops] stop sex workers on the street, open their bags, and search for condoms; they burst into rooms to look for condoms in wastebaskets, beds, and quilts; and they even remove the trousers of clients in order to find condoms.  Police raid rooms rented by sex workers, as well as bars and massage parlors…Unsurprisingly, the danger of detention for carrying condoms discourages sex workers from using them…

Moloch

Don’t say I didn’t tell you before:

My piece in today’s New York Post will probably surprise folks who think the sex offender registry is filled with middle-aged men arrested for luring kids into white vans with the promise of puppies…But in fact, the most common age that people are charged with a sex offense is 14…because people tend to have sex with people around their own age…And much under-age sex is illegal…Of course, recognizing that young people experiment would require politicians and law enforcement to also recognize that people can do dumb things, even sexual things, and not be irredeemable monsters. Right now, that’s not a big political talking point.  So instead, over one fourth of the people we label “sex offenders” get that name when they themselves are juveniles.  Considering the registry has over 800,000 people on it, we’re talking about more than 200,000 people who get put on the list while they are in middle school or high school…

Above the Law  

Judge orders jury to find an “authority” not guilty of rape.  What a surprise!

…Judge Keenan Johnson directed the jury to return a verdict of not guilty of coercion after ruling that the prosecution had not established that complainant had been intimidated.  He stressed that he was making no determination on the truthfulness of either the accused, Andrew Gilmartin…or the complainant Martha Rooney…[who] alleged that the defendant [demanded] oral sex in return for her not being prosecuted for fraud…Gilmartin…was charged with intimidating Ms Rooney with a view to compelling her to do an act which she had a lawful right to abstain from doing…

Broken Record boat race

The “big events” that supposedly attract “sex trafficking” grow ever sillier:

As revelers gather for the Tri-City Water Follies this week…A church-based nonprofit is teaming with Tri-City hoteliers to train staff to recognize and report human trafficking rings that bring minors to town…during special events.  The Stop Under Age Domestic Sex Trafficking Project or SUDS is a five-year effort by Mirror Ministries… “Boat race weekend is our largest weekend. Every hotel is packed,” said Tricia MacFarlan, executive director…

Gingerbread House

Remember, “safe house” is a euphemism for “prison”.  These girls are not allowed to “transition” out until their keepers declare they are:

Freedom Place…[confines] minor girls who had been [arrested for doing sex work]…With Texas reporting the second highest sex trafficking rate in the United States and Houston considered one of its largest hubs…According to [prohibitionist propaganda] nearly all prostitution is involuntary and, legally in Texas, is considered to be the result of coercion for minors…

Calling a prison “Freedom Place” is about as Orwellian a touch as one could imagine.

Dirty Laundry

People need to be frequently reminded of what Ruhama actually is:

The Magdalene Laundries might have closed, but sex workers are not safe from Irish Sisters at all.  The nuns simply regrouped, renamed themselves and are still harming prostitutes…Ruhama does not offer any actual help to sex workers who need help.  Rescue organisations and anti-prostitution NGO’s rarely do,they mostly make money by “raising awareness”, abusing prostitutes, receiving money from governments and providing “education” to health professionals and policy makers.  But it seems they haven’t killed any babies.  Yet.  So, you know, that’s something…

The Prudish Giant (#414)

Note that this was accomplished via the usual whorearchical line-drawing:

…Patreon has been hard at work on behalf of its adult content creators, trying to win back what they lost.  And on July 12, Patreon sent an email to users announcing a PayPal about-face: “We were able to convince PayPal, or more specifically their subsidiary Braintree, that Adult Content creators on Patreon are not a serious risk.  Our content policy, and the nature of subscription payments, means that Adult Content creators on Patreon are less risky than most creators making adult content.”  Patreon’s adult creators, both PayPal and Patreon believe, will generate few chargebacks or fraud allegations, making the financial hazards to the payment processor negligible…

Worse Than I Thought (#433)

I’m honestly surprised this has taken so long to catch on.  Note how closely it resembles “sex trafficking” propaganda tactics:

A Texas GOP lawmaker has teamed up with an anti-choice organization to raise awareness about the supposed prevalence of forced or coerced abortion, which critics say is “wildly divorced from reality”…Molly White…[wants cops to intervene]…when [someone claims] a pregnant person is being forced to terminate a pregnancy…Allan Parker, the president of The Justice Foundation, a “Christian faith-based organization” that represents clients in lawsuits related to conservative political causes…alleges that the majority of those who have abortions may be forced or coerced…“I would would say coerced or forced abortion range from 25 percent to 60 percent”…This statistic is found in a 2004 study about abortion and traumatic stress that was co-authored by David Reardon, Vincent Rue, and Priscilla Coleman, all of whom are among the handful of doctors and scientists whose research is often promoted by anti-choice activists…Other research suggests far fewer pregnant people are coerced into having an abortion.  Less than 2 percent of women surveyed in 1987 and 2004 reported that a partner or parent wanting them to abort was the most important reason they sought the abortion, according to a report by the Guttmacher Institute

Full of Themselves (#533) 

I wonder if any of them recognize how pathetic their denials sound to us?

…KT Coates, president of the International Pole Sports Federation…wants to see pole sport included in the Olympics, although she admits that is probably a long way off.  It isn’t yet recognised by SportAccord, the umbrella body for sports federations, but Coates says that is “only around the corner”…There are rules aimed at moving pole sport away from its strip-club shadows – costumes can’t be too skimpy, and there are no sexualised moves (no gyrating, hair flicking or grinding).  “If someone got on stage and did that, the whole crowd would be in shock,” says Coates.  “We’re not embarrassed of our history, it’s just that [pole sport] is a polar opposite.”  Are there competitors here who work in strip clubs?  “No. I don’t know a single one.  These are athletes.  You are not going to get someone who does exotic dance doing the world sports championships – it just does not overlap.  We have the same apparatus, but it’s not the same thing”…

Crying for Nanny (#570)

Pro-censorship morons are still trying to destroy the entire internet:

In the last year, Backpage won two significant victories in battles stemming from adult ads on its online classifieds service.  Now, the losing parties both hope the Supreme Court will review the decisions.  In one case, lawyers for a group of [soi-disant] teen sex-trafficking victims recently took the first step toward asking the Supreme Court to revive a lawsuit accusing Backpage of facilitating crime through the design of its online classifieds site…A second battle involving Backpage that could reach the Supreme Court involves Sheriff Thomas Dart of Cook County, Illinois. Last November, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order prohibiting him from attempting to influence credit card companies to stop working with Backpage…

The Mote and the Beam (#613) 

The answer to the titular question: “Because it doesn’t actually exist as such”.

…a cancer…is metastasizing across the country:  Violent pimps and sex traffickers use online services like Backpage to exploit and profit off of unwilling victims.  To avoid detection, those creating the listings often use code words or phrases.  “New to town,” for example, is typically code for listing a teenager.  According to a recent U.S. Senate subcommittee report, Backpage enables this sort of behavior rather than preventing it.  While Backpage’s terms of of use and guidelines claim that they do not allow for bartering of sex or sexual services, let alone those of children, the committee charges that Backpage does little to prevent it…the subcommittee has subpoenaed the head of the website, Carl Ferrer.  Ferrer has refused to submit to the subpoena, arguing that Backpage is protected under the First Amendment…

This is plenty enough to give you the tone of this exercise in virulent anti-whore yellow journalism.

An Example To the West (#626) 

More on EMPOWER’s sex work museum:

…This Is Us tells the history and lives of sex workers in Thailand.  Inside the museum, which displays in one room, visitors can find a dance platform with a metal pole, a minibar, a karaoke machine, a bath tub, condoms, sex toys, a boxing ring and more — all with the stories of how the prostitution industry in Thailand has evolved over the years.  From brothels out of the Ayutthaya period to go-go bars, coyote bars, aab ob nuad (bath houses) and more, this museum collects and displays ideas rather than merely “old stuff”, as the foundation’s director puts it…

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Human trafficking is the new charge du jour.  –  Brian Thompson

Anatomy of a Boondoggle arrested Thai sex workers

Just in case you thought cops raping whores in order to arrest them was mostly a US thing:

…Sa…is from Laos and…[has] been arrested many times, mostly when a police officer who had been her client had informed on her…”They took me out…and…had sex with me.  Next thing I knew I was arrested and sent home”…the superintendent of Udon Thani city police, said the law specifically mentioned that to make an arrest for prostitution…the sex worker has to be caught in the act…Nid is from a Karen hill tribe village and is considered a “star” hostess at a bar in Chiang Mai.  Like Sa, she was “lured” to her arrest by a police officer who was a client…Chantawipa Apisuk, the director of Empower who has been working with sex workers for more than 30 years, said the methods the police used to secure an arrest are unacceptable…in Nid’s case…police produced marked banknotes allegedly handed over to her and a used condom as evidence…

License to Rape

Cops raping sex workers is so ubiquitous, non-cop rapists often pose as cops to facilitate the crime:

A Brooklyn jury…convicted a sexual predator for the rape and robbery of a prostitute while pretending to be a [cop]…Jason Forgetta flashed a fake police badge to a female sex worker who stopped his car…on July 30, 2014…The 26-year-old victim agreed to go with Forgetta to [her incall]…when he told her she was under arrest…Forgetta…shoved the woman against the wall, put a pillow over her head and raped her…[he then] told the woman to take a shower to “wash all the DNA” off…[and] stole her wallet, cellphone and underwear.  As he fled the scene, the woman ran after him and wrote down [his] license plate [number]…Forgetta…was convicted in 2004 for committing the same…crime.  He was sentenced to three years in prison in that case…

Lack of Evidence

This is pretty typical of the level of “evidence” in sex work trials:

A woman accused of running a brothel out of a Baltimore County massage parlor was acquitted of all charges…Di Zhang…was found not guilty…of 15 offenses, including human trafficking and prostitution…”There was very little evidence in the case,” said Zhang’s attorney, Brian Thompson…the state had one witness who worked at the business and claimed Zhang was running it…But when police kept watch at the business for several weeks, they only observed Zhang there once…to drop off some medication for the witness…Thompson said police were targeting Zhang after a previous case…Police wrote in charging documents that Zhang “continues to run illegal massage parlors without fear of the police or court systems”…

The Proper Study

This is, of course, obvious to sex workers, but it’s nice to see academics discovering it:

Most migrant sex workers are satisfied with their working conditions in Australia…Despite growing fears about human trafficking…the vast majority are content to be working in massage parlours and brothels for a satisfactory income, and that there is little evidence of widespread sex slavery.  The Australian Institute of Criminology and the Scarlet Alliance (Australian Sex Workers Association) surveyed 594 sex workers across Australia, 412 of whom were migrants. Most were female, with only 17 male and eight transgender respondents…One in five were married; one in three were parents; and while a small number had little to no education, the majority were highly educated. About one third said they did not speak English well…

The Punitive Mindset (#337)

Some countries…make condoms available to prisoners, while others cite security issues, or blanket prohibitions of sex…Even in places where condoms are available, guards sometimes limit distribution as a form of control.  In the medical journal The Lancetresearchers at Johns Hopkins cite this as one factor in the spread of infectious diseases in prisons…at rates far exceeding those in the communities from which they came.  Of more than 10 million incarcerated people in the U.S. alone, 4 percent have HIV, 15 percent have hepatitis C, and 3 percent have active tuberculosis.  These diseases are part of our criminal justice system, then, metered out and sanctioned implicitly by the state.  The penal system is also a primary reason that these diseases can’t be eliminated globally…The scale of the problem is due to the fact that so many people are incarcerated in the first place, which [researcher Chris] Beyrer traces to the war on drugs…

Paint By Numbers po-faced twits folding paper

Even in the world of stupid “sex trafficking” publicity stunts, this one is painfully stupid:

A piece of blue paper folded into the shape of a crane bird is a traditional symbol of origami.  In Japan, it’s believed that 1,000 of those symbolise hope, love, honour, and peace.  It’s also believed that if you have the patience to fold 1,000 pieces, your most desired wish will come true.  UCC student Laura Pauwels’s wish is to bring hope to survivors of and people affected by human trafficking.  And so she’s enlisted the help of Corkonians to make that wish come true — together, they will fold 1,000 blue cranes to make a stand against the illegal act…

Traffic Circle

Here’s a long, thorough debunking of “sex trafficking” hysteria by Brittany Turner of SWOP-Shreveport:

In the past year, local broadcast and print media have covered numerous stories regarding the perils of sex trafficking in Shreveport, without exercising due diligence to accurately assess the reality of this problem or the efficacy of anti-trafficking programs. This coverage often excludes key stakeholders from the conversation: sex workers themselves. Instead, the coverage frequently relies on inaccurate data and anecdotal evidence, corralling those who have chosen to work in the sex industry under the umbrella of “trafficking victims,” effectively silencing the voice of many sex workers…

Devil’s Advocate

As usual, the government’s using someone accused of especially nasty crimes to undermine liberty for everyone:

A Dallas, Texas man accused of prostituting underage girls was secretly ordered by a federal judge to unlock his iPhone using his fingerprint, according to federal court documents that are now unsealed…Experts also warned these demands [will] probably not [be interpreted by cop-worshiping courts as] a breach of the Fifth Amendment right against compelled self-incrimination…The authorities were unable to access the phone’s contents…[because] if a iPhone [sic] that has been fingerprint enabled has not been used for at least 48 hours, both the password and fingerprint are required to unlock it…Martavious Banks Keys…is charged with one count of sex trafficking of children…He allegedly forced two girls, ages 14 and 15, to have sex with men who paid him $150 a session…One girl told authorities that Keys made her perform anal sex when her vagina was bleeding from abuse…

Counter-Countermeasure

I’m not really sure why this article is discussing a two-year-old study as if it’s new, but I really don’t care.  All that’s important is that more and more mainstream media are presenting information that debunks “sex trafficking” hysteria:

…The results contradict some of the most common stereotypes we have about sex trafficking and sex work.  For example, only 14 percent of female New York respondents said that they worked for a pimp, and in New Jersey that number was just 13 percent including males and females; 47 percent in New Jersey said that they didn’t even know a pimp.  Most reported that they had not been introduced to sex work by a stranger at all, but rather by a family member or family friend, and most said that they were not forced into sex work by any one person, but rather because of a lack of housing, or money, or that they couldn’t get by on low-paying jobs.  The…research also calls into question the narrative of helpless girls and violent pimps who throw them into hotel-brothels…Busting the myths matters, because we pass laws and make policies that don’t help the people who need it most…

The More the Better (#544)

I’d be much happier with an article doing something like this for escorting, since there are literally thousands of escorts for every Nevada brothel worker.  However, every little bit helps to undermine the “sin and degradation” narrative:

Insatiably curious about what the process for becoming a legal, full-time sex worker might look like, I couldn’t help but wonder how a person even begins to go about working at a place like one of Nevada’s brothels.  Did someone like me have what it takes to become the object of another person’s desire?  Well, one cursory Google search later later, I discovered these places actually have online applications for employment!  And that is how I ended up applying for a job at Sheri’s Ranch…

Property of the State (#640) 

It’s impossible to overstate how important this reversal is:

The Indiana Court of Appeals…overturned the 2015 feticide conviction of Purvi Patel…In a 3-0 ruling, the judges said that the state feticide statute was not intended to apply to abortions, and legal experts said that…it should give Indiana prosecutors pause before bringing similar charges against pregnant women in the future…the court relied heavily on how prosecutors have applied the feticide law in the past, noting that this case was an “abrupt departure” from its typical usage:  cases in which a pregnant woman and her unborn child are the victims of violence…It stopped short of clearing her of any criminal responsibility…upholding a lower-level felony neglect conviction for failing to provide medical care to the baby, who medical experts testified was alive and breathing after birth…

If It Were Legal (#656)

I’m rather skeptical of the claimed disparity here, but at least they’re not pretending the escorts flocked from out of town for the conference:

It’s been a great week for gay escorts in Cleveland…Republican National Convention attendees…are clamoring for their services.  “Business has been way better. I’ve seen 10 clients so far,” one male escort said…Another escort said he had already earned $1,600 since Monday — over six times the amount he usually makes…But ladies of the night weren’t reaping the same benefits…females for hire said they’re making much less money than normal…

To Molest and Rape (#657)

And please don’t think South Africa is any worse than the US in this respect:

More than 400 sex workers reported cases of abuse at the hands of the police between 2011 and 2015, according to a Women’s Legal Centre (WLC) report on cases of physical assault‚ rape‚ harassment and unlawful arres…414 sex workers reported 682 instances of abuse‚ mostly harassment and verbal abuse at the hands of the police.  Almost 20% of those who reported police abuse said they had been physically assaulted and 3% said they had been sexually assaulted…

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An adult who chooses to engage in sexual activity, whether for recreation, procreation or in exchange for something of value, makes a private, individual choice that should not be subject to criminal sanctions.  –  Jeanne LoCicero and Udi Ofer

Something Rotten in Sweden

The 5th installment of the Tits and Sass series “Big Mother is Watching You” profiles notable American proponents of “end demand” and the Swedish model, namely  Rachel Durchslag, Tom DartBeth Klein, Shirley Franklin, Yasmin Vafa and  Dominique Roe-Sepowitz.

A False Dichotomy 

They “see it as a business transaction” because that’s exactly what it is:

…in recent interviews conducted to understand what is driving [migrants] into the hands of human traffickers, it is clear that those involved see the risk they are taking as a business transaction, not a crime.  Malick Traore of Mali…said…“It is even more risky to live in misery in my own home country with a family always having tears in their eyes from hungers…the traffickers…do not call the migrant from their homes, or force them to cross the sea.  It is just an agreement between shipman and client”…Mariam Camara…is a widow with two daughters…[she said] “the criminal is Malian government but not the traffickers.”  Hamidou Thierro…says:  “I do not see those traffickers as criminals, because they are helping the poor migrants who are sacrificing their life to get into Europe to help back their families and plan better life for their children.  The traffickers are not human life protection agent but normal transporter as air plane or train”…

Lawheads just can’t get that normal people don’t really give a shit about their bullshit regulations.

Gorged With Meaning

Just about everything you need to know about this craptastic mixture of the obvious, the pearl-clutching and the dead wrong is that the author interviews the sociopathic narcissist Meghan Murphy instead of one of the many sex workers who write on the subject (such as, oh, ME for example), and approvingly quotes her as saying that raping a sex worker is no big deal.  That, and the fact that it’s named “The New Prostitution Economy” because it pretends that young women trading sex to older men for resources is some kind of new thing.

Follow Your Bliss 

Again, don’t think this is unique to Oakland:

When Leneka Pendergrass’ seventeen-year-old daughter…escaped…a pimp…Pendergrass turned to an organization that had previously helped.  She called Patrick Mims…of the Sexually Exploited Minors program at Bay Area Women Against Rape…the lead East Bay nonprofit organization in the state’s Regional Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force…BAWAR works closely with Oakland police…to [indoctrinate] them about child sex trafficking.  And BAWAR employees…accompany Oakland cops on their anti-[sex worker] sting operations…Pendergrass…and Mims frequently texted the first few nights after she and her daughter escaped…Then…less than a week [later]…Mims came to her apartment and they had sex…[this continued for six weeks, then] Mims suddenly stopped responding to her calls and texts…[and] her daughter’s case was no longer a priority for BAWAR.  She felt Mims abused his position of power.  Feelings of confusion and remorse grew intense, she said.  She worried that her access to OPD and the DA was being curtailed, too…Pendergrass also wrote a letter to the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault, an umbrella organization of rape-crisis centers like BAWAR…nothing ever came of her letter, or the police report…BAWAR…appears to never have acknowledged what happened…Jacqueline Montero

The Public Eye 

It’s always heartening to see a sex worker run for office, especially when she wins:

…Jacqueline Montero…worked as a prostitute for years to feed her children.  Now, after a decade of activism for women’s rights in the Dominican Republic, she hopes to put her life experience to work following her election to the Chamber of Deputies as part of an opposition coalition…The 46-year-old wants to focus on improving opportunities for women, a significant challenge in a country where about 35 percent of households are led by single mothers in poverty…She plans to introduce legislation that would prohibit discrimination against…LGBT, sex workers, people with AIDS and the elderly.  The walls of her office are adorned with diplomas and posters from international conferences dealing with sex work…Activists say the significance of her election transcends her relatively minor legislative position because she will be a powerful voice for largely unrepresented people…

Cops and Condoms (#313)

Remember Bill Gates’ $100,000 grant to develop “the next generation of condom”?  Well, the first results are in:

…After weeding through 953 applications, the foundation awarded grants to 26 applicants.  Among them was Richard Chartoff, a polymer scientist at Oregon State University, who developed an idea for ultra-thin condoms made from polyurethane elastic polymers that respond to body heat and conform to the penis’s shape…the HEX condom, developed by luxury sex toy company LELO…[features a] “hexagonal net design [which] effectively holds together the condom,” [founder Filip] Sedic explains, “so we were able to make the majority of the condom’s surface very thin without forfeiting strength”…the hexagonal design gripped his penis without squeezing it.  My husband’s sensations were less dulled than usual, too, since it was the thinnest traditionally shaped condom we used…myONE Perfect Fit from ONE Condoms will bring 56 different sizes to the market, allowing men to use a kit…to measure their penis length and width to determine the best size for them…

Devil’s Advocate

This guy seems like a real scumbag…so why isn’t Thailand asking for Norway to extradite him for prosecution there? Do you really want a precedent that people can be prosecuted in one jurisdiction for things they did in another jurisdiction where their actions weren’t illegal?

A 34-year-old Swedish businessman based in Oslo is facing trial in Norway accused of sexually abusing a 13-year-old girl in Thailand for several years – including making her pregnant…the girl…is from a poor family and had started working as a prostitute straight after finishing school…at the age of 14 she gave birth to the baby…DNA records have shown that the man is the child’s biological father…Police launched their investigation after he was arrested for…drugs two years ago.  During a search of his home in Oslo officers found indecent images…and 51 movies showing children being sexually abused.  They also found pictures of the Thai girl…

Guinea Pigs 

This is one of those potpourris of hysteria that could fit into any of several headings, but I think the most important one is yet another surveillance tool for hunting down sex workers:

…Tim Wedge, a Forensics Science professor…in Defiance, Ohio…[created] FAGIN, Facial Analysis to Gain Information Now, a basic crude prototype…[which] is designed to take…pictures of missing children, run it through the facial analysis software by comparing them to pictures in ads for people being sold for sex online, and produce a report whenever there’s a match…Wedge says FAGIN has the possibility of rescuing a shocking amount of victims…800,000 children are reported missing each year.  One in five of them are sex trafficking victims…

Can this “science professor” even do math?  Because the reporter sure can’t.  But more importantly: the same program could also compare pics from ads to, say, a driver’s license database, thus giving cops an escort’s legal name and address.

Aloha, Oy!

Hawaii was the last state to criminalize prostitution, and now it’s become the last state to fully rebrand it as “sex trafficking”:

Hawaii has become the last state in the nation to explicitly ban sex trafficking.  Gov. David Ige signed the bill…[which] makes [acts that were already illegal illegal again], expands the statewide witness protection program to include sex trafficking and provides victims access to criminal injury compensation.  “It’s a historic day for Hawaii.  Now, from sea to sea, the United States can say it [criminalized some crimes twice],” said Kris Coffield…[a “sex trafficking” profiteer]…

What Were You All Waiting For? (#622) 

Is the ACLU finally beginning to do the right thing, at long last?

In honor of International [Whores’] Day, activists marched on Atlantic City on June 3 to call for the decriminalization of sex work…This is a goal the American Civil Liberties Union…strongly supports.  Since 1975, the ACLU has believed that prostitution…should be decriminalized…It’s time to stop sweeping consenting adult sex workers into the criminal justice system.  We need models that protect their rights, their health and their safety…Amnesty International adopted a policy advocating the decriminalization of adult consensual sex work in its efforts to prevent human rights violations.  Amnesty isn’t alone.  They joined the World Health Organization, UNAIDS, Human Rights Watch, the Global Alliance Against Trafficking in Women, the Global Network of Sex Work Projects and many other…groups in calling for the decriminalization of sex work to stem the abuse, discrimination and violence that too frequently plague the lives of sex workers…

King of the Hill (#623) The Keep

One of the more amusing tropes of this moral panic: labeling a particular street a “hotbed” of sex work or “trafficking”:

For more than three decades now, the corner of Cypress Avenue and Starr Street has been known as one of the old-school New York prostitution hotbeds.  Even as gentrification of the area rapidly progresses, prostitution as a symptom of the “bad old times” continues…Unbeknownst to the owners at the time of the opening, [a bar named] The Keep became somewhat of a local epicenter for…“Operation Losing Proposition,” the goal of which is to lock up johns as they solicit sex from undercover [sows who use]…the bathrooms at The Keep [without permission] to change into their [costumes]…Eli B. Silverman explains that the initiative was designed by CEU attorneys who researched the law that allows for [asset seizure]…In this case, johns’ cars could be seized…the operation has been yielding incredible [profits]…and [Silverman pretends] prostitution has been greatly reduced…the operation has been consistently dubbed a success, but 26 years later, one has to wonder whether the number of arrested johns is the correct indicator of success, or whether the operation opened a bottomless well of meaningless arrests…

To Molest and Rape (#651)

No, you fucking filthy liar, it’s not “unique” and you fucking know it:

Alameda County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Ray Kelly, a former sex crimes investigator who serves as the agency’s spokesman, said several members of his department were investigated but a review showed none had done anything illegal or against policy. Kelly would not say if the deputies had sex with [Celeste Guap]…“This case is unique, and it’s not a good example of the relationships between sex crimes victims and police officers,” he said…

In typical tone-deaf LA Times fashion, the reporter concludes a story about people abusing women under the guise of “rescuing” them from their choices by praising someone who abuses women under the guise of “rescuing” them from their choices:

…[Sylvia] Vigil…has been preaching to the girls she [condescendingly dehumanizes] as “twilight treasures” since 1982…when she founded the Oakland branch of Victory Outreach…On [a] recent visit to International Boulevard, Vigil shook her head as she watched [a] young woman enter [a client’s] car, said a prayer, then brought her van’s engine to life and hit the gas…As the man in the Cutlass attempted to drive away, Vigil pulled her van in front of his car, blocking him in.  A colleague from the ministry who sat in Vigil’s van held up a Victory Outreach business card and shouted “not tonight” at the man…

Naturally, Vigil didn’t offer to pay the girl for the client she scared away, so the girl probably didn’t eat that night. But I’m sure the knowledge that she had been “saved” from dirty, filthy sex assuaged her hunger.

The End of the Beginning (#653)

Another in an anti-registry series from Vox:

When I first became a public defender, I believed the worst punishment that my clients would face would be time in jail.  Since then, I’ve learned that incarceration is not the…worst…punishment the criminal justice system can impose.  The registration requirements imposed on those convicted of sex offenses are unfairly harsh and punitive…I had always assumed that sex offender registration was limited to those who committed the most egregious and dangerous offenses.  I had also trusted that the Supreme Court was right when, in 2003, it stated that sex offender registration laws are not punishments but merely administrative requirements to protect public safety.  But I realize now that many of my clients would choose…anything to avoid being labeled a sex offender for life…because our current…laws apply an…inhumane one-size-fits-all approach that does not prevent future sex crimes and in fact makes us all less safe…The registration process appears designed to make people fail.  The rules are so complicated that few non-attorneys can keep up with them…

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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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