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Posts Tagged ‘consensual crime’

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

The Slave-Whore Fantasy 

Yet another example of what real sex slavery looks like:

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

Gateway

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

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

Tyranny By Consensus

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

An Example To the West (#133)

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

Dutch Threat

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

Confined and Controlled (#335)

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

Uncommon Sense (#404)

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

Prudesville

Yes, these are actual adults panicking over coffee stands:

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

We Told You So (#509)

Another great article from Anne Elizabeth Moore:

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

Broken Record (#519)

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

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I don’t understand the logic.  -Anders Varveus

So this week the internet went out in our entire building, and it won’t be fixed until tomorrow; I finished Saturday’s & yesterday’s columns on my laptop in a local pub, and I had to finish this one via cell connection so if there are formatting issues, that’s why. The links below are from Emma Evans (“headline”), Jasper Gregory  (“lose”), Radley Balko (“laws”), Grace (“call”), and Wendy Lyon (“spontaneous”). The video is the first in Jae‘s favorite YouTube series; they’re really extremely clever & well-done.

From the Archives

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You should have seen what we did to this guy—we jacked him up!  –  “Officer” Cynthia Whitlatch

This week’s top link contributor was nobody!  Actually, it was Reason articles tweeted by the Reason account, but I don’t give self-evident credits (i.e. articles tweeted by their own authors or host media) because they’re self-evident.  Got it?  The first video is from Mark Draughn, and even though I don’t like hip-hop I think this song needs to be promoted, especially because the NYPD wants it censored.  And since 50 Shades of Grey has appeared so often here lately, I thought y’all might enjoy this parody of E.L. James’ execrable prose and abysmal plotting.  The links between the videos were provided by Franklin Harris (“does” and “ad”), Walter Olson (“cuckoo”), Grace (“effect” and “never”), Jillian Keenan (“horrible”), Clarissa (“safer”), Radley Balko (“touch”), Nun Ya  (“lives” and “butch”), Tushy Galore (“dog”), Rick Horowitz (“cane”), Elizabeth N. Brown (“Uber”), Popehat (“rescue”),  and Domina Elle (“menstruating”).

From the Archives

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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on December 14th; I have modified it slightly for time references and to fit the format of this blog.

Canadian Supreme CourtA year ago tomorrow, the Supreme Court of Canada decriminalized prostitution in every part of the country with its ruling in Bedford vs. Canada, which struck down the criminal laws (very similar to those in the UK) which attempted to “control” and “discourage” the sale of sex by making it more difficult and dangerous.  Unfortunately, though the judges ruled the only way they could ethically rule under the circumstances, they still allowed themselves to be swayed by prudishness and deference to busybody ideas about government control of the personal lives of individuals:  they voluntarily stayed their own decision for one year to give the government time to cobble together some new, equally-indefensible, equally-vile law to replace those the court was striking down.  There’s little doubt that the resulting hot mess, The Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (or if you prefer something a bit less Orwellian, Bill C36), is merely a ridiculous rephrase of the rejected laws, combined with new, even more oppressive statutes, with the whole smothered in popular tinned Swedish sauce.  The government knows the law will never stand constitutional muster, and has known from the beginning; it simply didn’t care. The sole purpose of C36 was to delay the issue and “send a message”; even though it will certainly be struck down, that may take years, and the Conservatives will be out of power by then. In other words, they know they’ve lost and have now switched to a “long game” strategy, minimizing the political fallout by trying to ensure that the hot prostitution potato is in some other party’s lap next time the Supreme Court stops the music.  But Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne may have derailed that plan:

Just one day after a new and controversial federal prostitution law came into effect, the premier of Ontario is calling on her attorney general to look at the “constitutional validity” of the law…Kathleen Wynne said she is gravely concerned the new law will not protect sex workers or communities.  Wynne has asked Attorney General Madeleine Meilleur to advise her on the options available to the province, should it be found that the legislation’s constitutionality is in question…Wynne’s comments come as more than 60 organizations, including the Canadian AIDS Society and John Howard Society, demand the new laws be scrapped.  Now Magazine, an alternative publication in Toronto, has also said it will defy the new law, and continue to run advertisements by sex workers…Supporters of the new rules [pretend] the law will help reduce demand for prostitution…

Chronicle Herald editorial cartoon 7-9-14 by Bruce McKinnonBut even police state functionaries know that it will do no such thing; one cop interviewed in the Edmonton Sun said, “At best, it’ll be useless…at worst, it will make things worse than the old law.”  Politicians like Joy Smith are either entirely dishonest or entirely delusional when they call for the censorship and suppression of those who reveal the facts about prohibition and debunk prohibitionists’ propaganda and outright lies; fortunately, however, they are in the minority.  Most of the Canadian media and academia, and a large fraction of the population, understand that threatening people with violence and caging for consensual behavior is an abomination, and it’s inevitable that laws that enable such tyranny eventually go the same way as laws criminalizing BDSM, homosexuality, masturbation and other private sexual behaviors in which the government has no legitimate interest.

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Dr. Paul Maginn is an Associate Professor of Urban Planning at the University of Western Australia; he is the co-editor and co-author of several chapters in the recently published book (Sub)Urban Sexscapes:  Geographies and Regulation of the Sex Industry.  I asked him to comment on his book and explain why a planner & geographer is so interested in sex work.

Suburban SexscapesAt social events whenever we meet someone new for the first time it can be guaranteed that they will ask, “So, what do you do for a living?”  In the past, my stock response was generally:  “I’m an academic…an urban planner”!  The stock replies to this usually range from:  “Oh! What does that mean?” to “Oh, that’s nice! I have to go now because there’s my friend over there”.  You see, being an academic doesn’t seem to capture too many non-academic peoples’ attention.  So nowadays, when I’m asked what I do for a living I say:  “I’ll give you three guesses”.  I do this because it’s a good way to sustain conversation, it can be fun, and it’s a way of testing people’s perception of oneself.

Invariably, posing this question to people seems to immediately get their imaginations racing; it’s something of a “loaded” question, after all.  Hence, people start to think that you do something weird, exciting, dangerous or risqué for a living.  Whilst I was in my hometown of Belfast, Northern Ireland, in July 2013 I had the pleasure of meeting up with activist Laura Lee, who was on tour at the time.  We were sitting outside a well-known bar having a drink when a woman and her adult nephew, out celebrating the latter’s birthday, asked if they could sit at our table.  Of course, being sociable creatures we said, “Sure, no problems!  But you may want to avert your ears because of our conversation”.  They laughed and insisted that they were big enough not to be offended by whatever we were discussing.

Sure enough, this being Belfast, the nephew turned to us shortly after sitting down and said: “So what do yous’ do for a living?”  Laura and I looked at one another, smirked and replied:  “We’ll give you three guesses!”  Then without skipping a beat Laura replied in her Dublin burr:  “I’m a professional dominatrix!”  The nephew was dumbfounded, even more so when Laura presented him with her business card.  He excitedly asked if he could keep the card, adding quickly, “Not that I want to book you or anything”.  Then he looked me up and down and asked, “Are you in porn?”  Laura Lee can testify on a Sisters of Mercy bible that this actually happened!  I replied:  “Close, but no cigar.  I’m not in porn.  But, I’m into porn!”  I qualified this by explaining that I was an academic planner who researched the geographies and regulation of the sex industry and was working on a book on the subject.

So, what do planners and planning have to do with the sex industry? When commercial forms of sex – street- or brothel-based sex work; adult entertainment (e.g. stripping, lap-dancing or pornography); BDSM services; and sex shops, novelty stores or erotic boutiques – manifest they require spaces or premises to operate from.  This is where planning and zoning come into play.  Put simply, planning is concerned with trying to create “orderly” spaces by ensuring that there is a place for everything, and that everything is in its place via zoning.  Planners basically use rationality and technical skills to ascertain whether or not certain land-uses should permitted; however, when commercial sex premises are presented for planning/zoning approval they are often hijacked and held for political and moral ransom by politicians and others who often vehemently object to such proposals, even when such land-uses are perfectly legal.

It is this politicisation of planning and the wider politics and political rhetoric that tend to surround commercial sex industry activities that particularly interest me as an academic.  I’ve done some work looking at how state politicians in Western Australia (WA) have framed sex work in the wake of proposals to introduce legislation to regulate street- and brothel-based sex work.  In short, the political debates here in WA (and elsewhere in Australia for that matter) tend to be informed and dominated by moral arguments as opposed to evidence.  The same also applies to Northern Ireland, which recently passed the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Bill.  This Bill, when it finally receives Royal Assent, will see the introduction of the so-called Swedish Model of regulation of sex work.

There has been a fervent (some might say unhealthy) over-interest by governments, certain religious organisations and some branches of the feminist movement, in the sex lives of citizens.  Such over-interest has spurred the introduction (or efforts to introduce) legislation designed to exclude sex shops, curtail the number of strip clubs, prevent people from downloading “extreme porn” and criminalising the purchaser of sex services.  I am not suggesting for one minute that there should be no regulation of the different sectors of the sex industry, and neither do the various sex workers I know.  But recent efforts to regulate different forms of sex work are akin to using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.  It also seems fairly clear from observing proceedings in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Canada, for example, that politicians have little regard for the nuanced evidence on sex work and the “Swedish model”. I mean, who needs evidence when you have blind faith on your side?

Moreover, they seem to have contempt for the real experts in the field – sex workers – and a fixation that sex work is populated only by “fallen women” in need of “rescue”.  But sex work is a highly complex form of labour that takes places in a variety of spaces – streets, cars, bars, hotels, casinos, brothels, houses/apartments and the internet – and involves people who identify as female, male transgender and intersectional, who are straight, queer and bisexual, and who come from a range of nationalities and ethnic backgrounds.  Whilst sex is obviously a key facet of the transactional relationship between sex workers and clients, there is much more to sex work than just sex.

If governments were sincere about reducing harm to sex workers, their efforts would be better placed on protecting the human and workplace rights of sex workers.  As we know, banning, prohibiting or over-taxing particular goods and services (e.g. alcohol, tobacco, drugs, pornography and diesel) merely creates alternative unregulated markets which are often controlled by criminal elements; they thus represent a loss of tax revenue for governments and pose a higher risk to people (the very thing that governments claim they want to reduce).  Government regulation of the sex industry needs to be measured, pragmatic and evidence-based; policies premised on stereotypes, religious beliefs and moral superiority do more harm than good and result in unintended consequences.

So, next time you’re at a party, a wedding, Bar Mitzvah or funeral and you happen to bump into an urban planner why not say to them:  “Let’s talk about sex”?  I’m sure you’ll make their day, but be sure to clarify what you mean if you want to avoid them thinking that you’re coming on to them. 

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Adults should be able to make their own choices—even if that adult is a woman.  –  Marty Klein

Rough Trade 

This would, of course, make prostitution stings legally rape (not that a cop would ever actually be prosecuted for it):

A man woos a woman to bed with tales of his riches, fast cars and a vacation home in Monaco.  But he actually lives in his mother’s basement…Under a bill recently proposed by a south Jersey lawmaker, such actions…could prompt charges of rape…Troy Singleton…introduced the bill…which would create the crime of “sexual assault by fraud,” which it defines as “an act of sexual penetration to which a person has given consent because the actor has misrepresented the purpose of the act or has represented he is someone he is not”…

License to Rape garbageman Trent Barker

As long as any aspect of sex work is criminal, whores will be vulnerable to cops and impersonators:

A Melbourne garbage inspector has been fined $1500 for impersonating a police officer in what a magistrate has described as an “amateurish” attempt to have sex with a prostitute…Trent Barker..told [her] he was a police officer investigating crime and prostitution…then showed the woman a radio, a binder and his council badge, which he claimed was a police badge…He then left the hotel after she refused to have sex.  Barker was arrested a fortnight later and sacked…

Welcome To Our World

[Georgia] Police raided an elderly woman’s home because they suspected that she was allowing people to play cards and bet money inside without government permission — an “illegal gambling house”…90-year-old Mary Helen…Morgan’s guests were [also] allegedly…paying [her] to serve them beverages…without government permission, oversight, or licenses.  [She] was charged with multiple crimes, including…disorderly house…and illegal alcohol sales.  Police charged or cited sixteen other adults with an array of other victimless crimes…[and seized] loot…[including] a gun, drugs, a 2004 Chevy Silverado…a 2003 GMC Yukon and trailer containing miscellaneous lawn care equipment…$4,100 in cash…alcohol, tobacco products, snacks and drinks…

Sales Pitch

Advocates for the Swedish Model claim that the law has led to declining numbers of buyers and sellers of sexual services.  However, according to Ann Jordan…the Swedish government doesn’t actually know…claims of its ‘success’ lack reliable evidence, and the source of such claims “is primarily the government’s initial and short English-language summary”…[which] cites a survey…[suggesting] that fewer men had bought sex compared to a 1996 study, but crucially omits the reservations expressed by the very person who conducted it:  Jari Kuosmanen…[who] explains…the lack of evidence…”There is nothing to support the claim that prostitution in Sweden has decreased…the problem is that politicians didn’t base the legislative change on research…

Profound Mental Disabilities

Funny how often relatives seeking revenge for BDSM relationships of which they disapprove focus on mental illness:

A [Connecticut] jury has awarded about $638,000 to a woman who sued a man she said had a sadomasochistic sexual relationship with her adult daughter…Mary Kortner…filed a civil sexual battery and assault lawsuit in 2006 against Craig Martise…saying her daughter wasn’t able to consent…because of her mental condition…In 2009, a jury found in favor of Martise.  In June, the state Supreme Court overturned that verdict and ordered a new trial…Kortner’s daughter…died in 2010 at age 39 from an undisclosed illness.  She was diagnosed with clinical depression, borderline personality disorder, bulimia and anorexia, and she twice tried to commit suicide…the state Supreme Court ruled that people don’t necessarily give up their ability to consent to sex, including sadomasochistic encounters, when they are placed under the legal conservatorship of others.  The court also said it is up to juries to decide if people are able to consent to sex…

Surplus Women

A Swazi sex worker has been killed in…South Africa by a client during payment at her residence.  Nomsa Dlamini (25)…was strangled and…robbed…The man is said to have paid with a R200 ($18) note…and asked for change.  [He attacked her when she]  took out her moneybag which contained a sum of R2000 ($180)…over eight…sex workers [were] killed in South Africa this year…

Profit from Panic Love146 profiting from panic

Rob Morris…established [Love146]…In its early years, the organization gained a certain amount of attention by building its marketing around [bogus] statistics, such as the [lie] that two children are sold into prostitution every minute.  But Morris knew that they were capable of much, much more.  So he started telling a [bullshit trafficking] story…[about one imaginary child “victim”]…The story went viral, sparking a grassroots campaign that generated worldwide awareness and hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations.  Between 2007 and 2012, the organization’s total revenue grew from $1.1 to more than $2.6 million, and it now has permanent offices in the UK, Cambodia, and the Philippines…[bogus] statistics can make an impression, but [bogus] stories raise emotion …and emotion leads to action.

Profound Ignorance

Any study which equates sex work with “crime” is flawed from the forge:

Gina Neff…of…the University of Washington…noticed [that] “Uber took down data science blog post showing correlation between prostitution and ridership…“…The blog post in question…takes a somewhat lighthearted look at how Uber’s own ride data mashes up with local crime statistics…the team [found that]…“Areas of San Francisco with the most prostitution, alcohol, theft, and burglary also have the most Uber rides…

So Close and Yet So Far

I get that Alison Phipps really believes she’s on our side, but writing like this supports the fallacy that sex work derives from an “evil” which would not exist in an imaginary Utopia:

Sex workers are part of an industry which…is profoundly gendered and based on the commodification of sex and desire…they have unique insights into how gendered power relations and sexual scripts work.  Some…may tell us how these can be reworked and resisted…Others may have harrowing stories about being the target of the worst misogynist impulses of our culture

The “commodification of sex and desire” is not a bad thing, but a good one; it anchors sex solidly in reality instead of consigning it to the Rainbow Unicorn Candyland of “romance”.

Sex Work is Work

Prohibitionists are terrified of people realizing that sex work really is work:

The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW) recently published an open letter to Associated Press Stylebook editor David Minthorn in response to an online campaign to replace the word “prostitute” with “sex worker” in AP’s 2015 Stylebook.  CATW and its allies oppose the phrases “sex work” and “sex worker” because they feel “these terms…legitimize prostitution as an acceptable form of work”…CATW’s letter also deploys…a litany of unreferenced statistics…[including the] statement:  “The average age of mortality of a person in prostitution is 34 years old”…[which was debunked by] Maggie McNeill…in 2011

It Looks Good On Paper (TW3 #340)

Here’s a little more on that religious brainwashing program to which Florida sex workers can be sentenced:

…“Turn Your Life Around” [is] a diversion program…[run by religious NGO] Selah Freedom…[and subsidized by the] Sarasota Police Department…[and] State Attorney’s Office…State Attorney Ed Brodsky [pretends this program is]…unprecedented…Selah Freedom recently moved into a larger [facility in which]…even more women [can be confined after being labeled as victims of]…sex trafficking…

Another Fine Mess (TW3 #435) fake base station setup

Though the technical aspect of this story is newsworthy in itself, the reporter seems to feel that sex businesses’ use of a new spamming technique transforms it from sleazy and annoying to sinister and frightening:

Spam text messages advertising prostitution are a nuisance to many people in…[China]…They have not disclosed their phone number to any strangers, but their phones are still mysteriously reached by unknown people…a fake mobile base station…is a device that can send out a powerful signal which forces all mobile phones in an area to disconnect from the legitimate base station…and connect to it without the owners’ consent…Most…can affect phones within a radius of around a kilometer and can send more than 20,000 messages per hour.  “We can send out all kinds of messages, such as adverts for property, private tutoring, financial services, stocks and [illegal businesses]”…[said] a cellphone spammer based in Shanghai…

Prudesville (TW3 #436)

If it weren’t for the fact that real women are harmed by Everett, Washington’s ridiculous crusade against coffee stands, the language deployed by cops and reporters in these stories would be hilarious.  The dark hints in this first one seem like something out of a film noir thriller, as though owner Carmela Panico was conducting an assassination business rather than just allowing tit-flashing:  “Everett PD says looking into Panico’s crime ring was one of their largest investigations.  ‘It was very important to…stop the criminal activity’, says Captain Bill Deckard…”  One can almost hear the reporter clutching her pearls as she informs us that “the sex acts are continuing” and her satisfied smugness when she informs us that the Everett Pimp Department is going to enrich itself by stealing both the coffee-making equipment and the money the women earned from their sexual labor.

Book Review:  America’s War on Sex (TW3 #440)

It looks like Dr. Marty Klein may be trying to make up for his long silence on sex worker rights:

…providers of erotic services…face enormous criticism and discrimination over their choice of work. One of the worst kinds…is the assumption that escorts are either coerced into doing their work, or that they’re too stupid to realize how bad it is for them.  That’s the basis for…so-called “rescue” operations…There’s some serious sexism in the idea that “escorts can’t be trusted to make adult decisions”…So it’s especially ironic that many would-be rescuers (including Gloria Steinem herself) call themselves feminists…Today’s coalition of feminists, conservatives, and even human rights activists are attempting to impoverish escorts’ lives as a way of defending “women’s rights.”  Their critiques are translated into criminalization, exclusion from social systems such as child daycare, and the prospect of discrimination in child custody battles or allegations of sexual violence…

A Procrustean Bed (TW3 #441)

For the second time since SeptemberThe New York Times profiles one of the state’s…”human trafficking intervention courts”.  This one, in Queens, sees…a large number of undocumented immigrants…This is…precisely the cohort that gets white-savior boners popping.  All those American-born sex workers on Twitter may insist they want rights not rescue, but surely these low-income, low-skill women are victims.  Surely they’ll appreciate state power being used to help rend them from their wretched lives.  Yeah, no.  The women the Times talked to…”said…that they did not feel like trafficking victims, but victims of the police…

He Said, She Said (TW3 #444)

Jian Ghomeshi, 47, former host of the internationally syndicated music and arts program Q…surrendered to police and was charged with four counts of sexual assault and one of choking…The charges follow a month-long police investigation into allegations that Ghomeshi…sexually assaulted and harassed several women…Ghomeshi [claimed]…it was…consensual [BDSM]…

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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on October 26th; I have modified it slightly to fit the format of this blog.

As long-time readers know, I’m very fond of science fiction and fantasy; the difference between the two is that the latter describes a world which (by our understanding of the laws of the universe) could not actually exist, while the former describes a world which could but does not (at least yet).  As some have pointed out, though, the term “science fiction” is really too limited; very often the world described in such a story differs from our own not due to some scientific discovery or technical development, but in a social or cultural way.  For this reason, some writers and critics prefer the term “speculative fiction”, which broadens the genre to include things like alternate-history stories; my tale “For I Have Sinned”, for example, imagines what our modern world might be like had the Catholic Church won the Crusades and successfully suppressed the Protestant Reformation.  The story is an example of a type called a dystopia; while a “Utopia” is a fictional world better than our own1984 (at least in the writer’s estimation), a dystopia is one that is worse.  But just as the traditional science fiction of yesterday (e.g. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Destination Moon) can become the science fact of today, so can what was once the stuff of dystopian speculation become the true and horrible political reality.

The process is usually very gradual, just as technological development is; a poisonous idea becomes established in one place and spreads to others, expanding in scope once it’s in place.  The wicked Swedish model of prostitution law, which defines women as moral imbeciles and men as their evil oppressors, is sold to the delusional, the misandrist and the ignorant as a means of “protecting” women from dirty, bad sex, and though it has been repeatedly beaten back in England and Scotland it has now taken root in Northern Ireland:

The Northern Ireland Assembly has voted by 81 to 10 in favour of making it a crime to pay for sex…Northern Ireland is the first part of the UK to vote in favour of the measure.  There is still some way to go before the bill becomes law, but the prospect of a ban on paying for sex in Northern Ireland has taken a significant step forward…Opponents included Justice Minister David Ford who claimed it would be difficult to enforce…

“Difficult to enforce” is an understatement; the US has criminalized both the buying and selling of sex for a century now, and though only a tiny fraction of all such transactions are caught by police it takes “sting” operations and other violations of civil liberties to accomplish it.  In other words, even if you believe that stopping consensual behavior is somehow a good thing, prohibition can’t actually accomplish that.  It does, however, provide a useful excuse for the construction of a vast police state; “protecting children from porn” was the rationale for establishing the UK’s internet censorship regime, but it’s now being extended to allow suppression of any viewpoint of which “authorities” disapprove.  Nor will they be content with merely silencing such people:

People found guilty of Internet “trolling” in Britain could be jailed for up to two years…following a number of high-profile cases of abusive and threatening behaviour on Twitter.  Justice Secretary Chris Grayling…[said] “This is a law to combat cruelty — and marks our determination to take a stand against a baying cyber-mob”…last month a man was jailed for 18 weeks for what prosecutors described as “a campaign of hatred” against a [politician].  “These internet trolls are cowards who are poisoning our national life…” Grayling said.  “That is why we are determined to quadruple the current six-month sentence”…The government proposes to amend two existing laws to extend the maximum jail term and also the time limit for prosecutions, from six months to three years…

I edited this item to remove the cases politicians are using to win the support of the thoughtless and focus on their real motive: shielding politicians from criticism.  Thoughtcrime is now a very real offense in Britain; perhaps you read about this case:

Robul Hoque…[was convicted for] his collection of Japanese Manga or Anime-style images alone…His barrister Richard Bennett said:  “These are not what would be termed as paedophilic images.  These are cartoons”…Police found the images when they seized Hoque’s computer…none were of real people.  They were classified as prohibited images as they depicted young girls, some in school uniforms…exposing themselves or taking part in sexual activity…Six years ago he was prosecuted for having “Tomb Raider-style” computer-generated pictures of fictional children…

That’s right, he was convicted for having drawings of a taboo subject.  Drawings.  And pay attention to that line about how they found the forbidden doodles, because their power to search you for “evidence” (or any other excuse) is increasing all the time:

Registered gun owners in the United Kingdom are now subject to unannounced visits to their homes under new guidance that allows police to inspect firearms storage without a warrant.  The new policy from the British Home Office went into effect Oct. 15…Britain’s gun owners were subject to the home visits before the update, but the inspection had to be conducted with prior notice…the Association of Chief Police Officers [claimed] the revamped guideline does not grant police any new powers…ACPO is also encouraging [informants] to call a new Crimestoppers hotline to report any [people they want harassed by police]…The Home Office is [pretending] that legitimate guns could easily be stolen and wind up in the hands of terrorists…

Of course, guns aren’t the only things which terrorists might use; knives, household chemicals, cars, computers, money…why, the list is endless!  Clearly the police need the power to “inspect the storage” of those things in private homes, without warning or warrant.  And if the owners aren’t home when they arrive, well, in the interests of national security the police should clearly be given the power to let themselves in, and if the place gets ransacked in the process you can be sure those in charge will dismiss any claims the householders make with the assurance that proper procedures were followed.

time machineAll of us are time travelers, and though the process is both slow and unidirectional, it inevitably brings us into a world very different from the one where we started.  Unfortunately, we cannot merely hop into the TARDIS and return to the past or visit a different future if we don’t like the one in which we find ourselves; we are stuck there, like it or not.  Tyrannies don’t materialize without warning overnight, nor are they usually imposed from outside any more; the world around us is a prison we have allowed the powerful to build, stone by stone and bar by bar.  They capitalized on our fears, our intolerance, our greed, our envy, our laziness and our wrath, and though we could have stopped them many times over we were always more concerned with what other people were saying, doing or thinking, and thus handed our self-proclaimed “leaders” the weapons they needed to dominate us all.  Welcome to the future, and if you think all the things I described above are hunky-dory just wait until the inexorable action of legal precedent brings your face under the boot next.

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