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Posts Tagged ‘Enabling Oppression’

The idea that prostitution should be stopped by non-sex workers…devalues and dehumanizes people who are struggling to make ends meet. – Svati Shah

Check Your Premises

Oh, the mental gymnastics:

…Law enforcement and [feminist] groups [pretend that] tough…penalties are an appropriate response to pimps who prey on vulnerable young women…But at times, the law enforcement efforts that are meant to target the pimps also sweep up the women who assist them in their crimes, women who often are also victims themselves…

Blah blah “sold for sex”, blah blah “sex-trafficking network”, blah blah “control over her”, blah blah “enslaved to their pimps”.  You get the idea.

Repeat Offenders 

There’s something deeply disturbing about Catholic nuns aiding and abetting the police state; it’s even more disturbing when the collaborators name their operation after a Biblical whore famous for hiding fugitives from the police:

Sister Ancy Mathew …founded a charity called Rahab…and accompanied officers…raiding flats where trafficked women might be held…Women who have been trafficked into Britain to become sex workers have invariably been lied to, and have often been encouraged by the criminals who control them to fear police.  As a result, few trust the police enough to be able to open up…about what they know after they have been freed…

Enabling Oppression

Even the more perceptive survivors of forced prostitution recognize that criminalization enables it:

…I would never have had to go through that terrible situation if prostitution was legalized…If it was legal, I would have signed a contract, I would have known what I was getting myself into, and I could have held the recruiters accountable for their actions…

The Scarlet Letter (TW3 #19)

A woman that had been arrested in 2012 for allegedly working illegally as a prostitute and accused of intentionally causing clients serious bodily harm, has died from a drug overdose…she also left behind a suicide note.  Katerina…was among 12 HIV-positive women…whose names and photographs were published on the Greek police’s website in 2012…HIV stigma victimPositive Voice, a group that helps people with HIV, had denounced the incident as an unacceptable breach of  ‘medical confidentiality…Katerina…served a one year prison sentence and was released after a court…[found] no evidence [she] engaged in illegal prostitution…

The Widening Gyre 

Evidence?  This is Sweden, we don’t believe in evidence:

Sweden’s Security Service has expressed concerns about a rapid rise in the number of Swedes heading to Iraq and Syria to fight for Isis, as Sweden’s official coordinator against violent extremism suggests some girls are being forced to make the journey…she said that while many young people choose to join…others – especially girls – are…”trafficked” to the middle east and southern Asia…

Sexual Predators

Yakopovich believes cops should relax, have fun, rape a few whores and laugh at their tears:

Police say they are cracking down on prostitution…Lt. Vince Yakopovich said…”We always try to take the time and say, ‘Hey, drop what you are doing and let’s go'”…Local motels are cooperating for the most part…

Coming and Going (TW3 #311)

In the long run, tight budgets work in our favor:

Dallas County’s prostitution diversion [scheme]…was meant to serve as a model for the state’s largest counties.  But some officials, including those in Collin and Denton County, have passed on the state’s mandate…that counties with more than 200,000 people start [similar schemes]…Officials…say…prostitutes…in their jurisdictions …aren’t at the street level…and [harassing them] requires more [expensive]…investigations…

The Leading Players in the Field, Not (TW3 #316)

Gloria Steinem went to India earlier this year…with Ruchira Gupta…of Apne Aap…Feminists in India…disagree with Steinem’s take on prostitution…Steinem…repeatedly calls Apne Aap a “grass roots” organization, which would imply that it has little or no international profile, and primarily works with local people…[but] Apne Aap…receives funding from outside India regularly, and…is part of the international trafficking industrial complex, that combination of non-governmental organizations, governments, and money that has enabled the strange rise of the idea that “trafficking”, whatever it may be (chattel slavery, forced prostitution, any prostitution, forced labor, illegal migration, and/or debt bondage) is a universal problem requiring huge resources to resolve…

Original Sin (TW3 #322)

Pope Francis and other leaders of the world’s main religions…signed a joint declaration to work together to eradicate modern slavery…by …2020…they declared that “Modern slavery, in terms of human trafficking, forced labor and prostitution…is a crime against humanity”…

A Tale That Grew in the Telling (TW3 #329)Yoda

If something’s in a movie, it must be true!

When Tim Matsui began working on his project about the sex trafficking of teenagers around Seattle in 2012, he followed a group of police officers…The Long Night, a film…directed by…Matsui and funded by the [rescue industry] is a gut-wrenching [fantasy] of the effects of sex trafficking on seven people, including victims, survivors and law enforcement officers…

Policing for Profit 

Wally Kowalski, an engineer living in a farmhouse in rural southwest Michigan, came home one day…to find his property swarming with cops…Kowalski has a license to grow and distribute medical pot to several low-income people who depend on the drug…state police…seized his power generator—even though it had nothing to do with his marijuana plants—and some expensive equipment.  They also destroyed the plants.  Kowalski [said]…they grabbed anything likely to be sold at a police auction…”When they found my bank accounts here in my office, they let out a yell.  They said, ‘Here’s the bank accounts, we got him.’  It’s like the happiest thing for them, to find my bank accounts.”  The police froze his accounts, rendering him unable to make payments on his student loans or other bills…The authorities haven’t charged Kowalski with a crime…

Scapegoats (TW3 #334)

Once again, vanillas reveal themselves as the true perverts:

A report in the journal Archives of Sexual Behaviour describes an unusual field trip made by Canadian researcher Debra W. Soh – to a furry convention…she had expected to find herself in a dimly-lit orgy “filled with couples – or groups – of costumed folks engaging in kinky sex” but she saw nothing of the kind.  In fact, she saw nothing sexual at the whole convention except some erotic…fan art that was on sale.  Instead, the furries were chatting, playing board games, smoking, and so on…

Absolute Corruption (TW3 #349)

Former day care owners who spent 21 years in prison…[for Satanic panic] convictions…are struggling to convince prosecutors that they should be fully exonerated.  Dan and Fran Keller…were freed on bond last year when the only physical evidence against them was found to be a mistake…But…prosecutors remain unwilling to proclaim them innocent [despite the fact that everyone knows their conviction was the product of a witch hunt]…[their] claim…will be decided by…conservative judges [who protect the status quo and]…will be guided by the recommendations of [the] judge…who [convicted them in] 1992…and…has already twice ruled that they had failed to prove their innocence.

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #410) Fiona MacTaggart

a few weeks ago in Parliament…Labour MP Fiona MacTaggart added two clauses to the Modern Slavery Bill that would criminalise the clients of sex workers in England and Wales…MacTaggart and her supporters hoped to bring the Nordic Model here with almost no notice or debate…The English Collective of Prostitutes…lobbied their MPs on the phone or in person, and parliamentarians were blasted with anti-criminalisation briefings from left-wing Labour MP John McDonnell…Supporters Women Against Rape pointed out that: “To target men who have not been accused of violence just because they purchase sexual services, diverts police time and resources away from reported rapes”…MacTaggart has claimed that the majority of sex workers were coerced in some fashion – a view based on discredited statistics, and one for which she has been taken to task before

Shift in the Wind (TW3 #430)

Rare honesty in a mainstream American newspaper:

Let’s be honest.  Paying for sex has been around a long time, and it’s not going away anytime soon.  Recent court cases have established sexual rights and privacy in protecting what consenting adults do behind closed doors, but those rights end for people who wish to exchange sex for money…some people do not believe sex workers should have the same legal rights as other workers.  A study recently published in The Lancet found that even partial criminalization…such as the Swedish model…places sex workers at equal risk for human-rights violations and exploitation.  Trying to stop demand will not stop prostitution…Nearly every industrialized nation has made prostitution partially legal or outright legal. It’s time America does the same thing…

Special thanks to Mark Bennett for the unlocked version of the story.

Uncommon Sense (TW3 #433)

Any amount of criminalization of sex work allows cops to play their evil games:

Five people were arrested…after police raided brothels in Germany…Austria, Bosnia and Romania.  More than 900 [cops]…took part in the raids…Police also seized cash, computers, hard drives, business records and one pistol.  Stuttgart prosecutors [demonized the sex workers’ relationships and told lurid “trafficking” tales]…

The Public Eye (TW3 #439) 

She’s a victim!  So let’s help her by making her homeless, too!  “Connected‘s Kate McGrew has revealed that she’s found it hard to find somewhere to live since revealing she is a sex worker on the reality show…

Monkey Business (TW3 #442)

Let’s hope this legal rationale of why chimps aren’t “persons” is extended to fetuses, too:

petitioner requests that this Court enlarge the common-law definition of “person” in order to afford legal rights to an animal.  We decline to do so, and conclude that a chimpanzee is not a “person” entitled to the rights and protections afforded by the writ of habeas corpus…chimpanzees cannot bear any legal duties, submit to societal responsibilities or be held legally accountable for their actions.  In our view, it is this incapability…that renders it inappropriate to confer upon chimpanzees the legal rights…that have been afforded to human beings…

Held Together With Lies (TW3 #447)

thousands of…sex slaves in Russia are…waiting for a good samaritan [sic] to come along and save them…since the government and society in general prefer to look the other way, anti-trafficking activists [pretend]…Russia…is now at once a destination, origin and transit country for sex slaves…and…ranked as the country with the sixth-biggest slave population in the world…in a fresh annual report by the…Walk Free Foundation…

Divided We Fall (TW3 #447)

Twenty-five Toronto city councillors have signed a letter asking Premier Kathleen Wynne to take…Bill C-36…to the Ontario Court of Appeal to determine if it is constitutional.  The new legislation, which received royal assent last month, will become law on Saturday…”we work to promote measures that increase public safety…In particular, we are united in our efforts to end violence against women…Bill C-36 has introduced…unsafe conditions into Canadian society, bringing foreseeable detriment and real danger to some of the most vulnerable women we represent”…The letter will be presented at City Hall on Friday (Dec. 5), which is the National Day for Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women and the 25th anniversary of the Montreal massacre…

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What is wrong with a contract to sell sexual services between consenting adults who enter voluntarily into the transaction, neither of whom is harmed by the exchange?…nothing at all.  No harm is done here, so why should this be regarded as a crime?  –  Charles Hill 

Subtle Pimping

Two “artists” thought it would be “artistic” to exploit the poorest, most tragic, heroin-addicted Russian streetwalkers they could cajole by photographing them as fashion models:  “Loral Amir and Gigi Ben Artzi constructed studio portraits of heroin-addicted prostitutes…adorning their subjects in [designer] clothing…[removes] them from the context of their daily lives…”  The results are predictably horrifying.

Crying for Nanny

Nick Kristof knows these lawsuits haven’t got a leg to stand on, and can’t be so ignorant that he doesn’t recognize the havoc which would result should one succeed.  But as with Somaly Mam, he pretends that he’s not responsible for promoting lies and myths which harm many thousands of people, and washes his hands when they blow up in his face:

Two young women who say they were…sold on Backpage at age 15…are suing the company in Boston in federal court.  Another suit is winding its way through Washington State courts, pursued by three girls who say they…were sold for sex…when they were 13…The suit charges that Backpage has “perfected a business model that profits substantially from aiding…pimps and traffickers in the sexual exploitation of children”…

Surplus Women

A British financier has been arrested on suspicion of murder after two [sex workers] were found dead inside the bloodied walls of his luxury apartment in Hong Kong…The body of one was heavily decomposed, stuffed inside a large suitcase left on the balcony…She was nearly decapitated and her hands and legs were bound with ropes…The other…was found with her throat cut, lying naked in the living room.  She had been stabbed multiple times…

With Folded Hands

Cowardice disguised as class warfare:

A brave test pilot is dead and another one critically injured—in the service of a millionaire boondoggle thrill ride…in the wake of this tragedy out at Mojave—not even the first time a SpaceShipTwo test has killed someone—we’re going to hear a lot about exploration, about pioneers and frontiers…and we should call bullshit on thatSpaceship Two crash…Virgin Galactic is building the world’s most expensive roller coaster…When it costs the lives of the workers building that system, we should stop accepting it…

Except neither Wired writers (nor those at Time or The Guardian) nor politicians nor rich people get to decide what any given individual thinks is worth risking his life for; the only person who gets to decide that is the individual himself.  And it doesn’t matter how stupid or pointless anyone else thinks it is, because his life is not theirs to manage.

Divided We Fall

When will Gay, Inc finally admit prostitution laws disproportionately affect its constituency?

…an Egyptian court convicted eight men for…their appearance in a video…depicting…the country’s first same-sex wedding party…Egypt…has no laws against homosexuality…the law that was used to prosecute the men is one…meant to rid the newly independent Egypt of the licensed brothels that had existed under British rule…it banned prostitution of all forms…and…also prohibited what it called “debauchery”—without actually defining [it]…

Enabling Oppression

Even some who believe in the “sex trafficking” myth are beginning to place the blame where it belongs:

…human trafficking is a parasite of legal prohibitionism…It is time for students of trafficking to call out states for creating the conditions that enable this crime…legislative and police efforts to suppress the sex trade are counterproductive.  They drive sex-for-money…further underground…You would think that Americans would know better.  Their first experiment in prohibition…should have brought home the message that prohibitionism cannot kill…commerce.  It only cordons it off inside a zone of non-regulated trade…The link between prohibitionism and trafficking has been most clearly documented in America’s war on undocumented immigration

The Rape Question Latiqwa Mayes

Neofeminists claim that false rape accusations are too rare to even consider, and that we live in a “rape culture” where rapists get away with it:

…Latiqwa Mayes was walking down [a Baltimore] street…when she saw…Donald Robinson…[who] had reportedly once assaulted her friend…Mayes was not happy that he didn’t receive a harsher sentence, so…in retaliation [she screamed] “He raped me!  He’s a sex offender!” …Almost immediately, a mob lead by Mayes’ father proceeded to beat Robinson and…pepper spray [him]…hours later, he died…Mayes and her father…have been sentenced to…six years…

The Pygmalion Fallacy

Though my opinion on “sex robot” nonsense is well-known, this critic of it reveals that he’s just as ignorant about human sexuality (and sex work) as those he attacks, not to mention incredibly prudish and anti-whore:

David…Levy’s vision in Love and Sex With Robots is…profoundly creepy, and has troublesome implications now that sex robots are quickly becoming a reality.  He…[presents] sex robots as…the inevitable and desirable future…and it won’t just be the lonely men who are the usual clientele of prostitutes…he…even retrieves the long-discredited defense of pornography as a marital aid…Levy’s understanding of sex is almost entirely degraded…it’s the view of the chronic masturbator and porn addict…healthy sexual desire does not take as its object a mere sensation or state, but a person …the recognition of pornography addiction as a serious problem…is…evidence that something goes wrong when sexual desire is directed away from people…Just as with prostitution, the more sophisticated their illusions become, the more intense will be the guilt that comes after their mechanical gimmickry has done the job…

Show and Tell

It’s Ashley Madison’s turn next:

The Federal Trade Commission has fined UK-based JDI Dating for using fake, computer-generated profiles to trick users into upgrading to paid memberships.  JDI…must pay a $616,165 fine and reform its practices.  The case is the first for the FTC against an online dating site.  JDI allowed users to set up profiles on its sites for free, and then sent them fake messages purportedly from people living nearby who wanted to meet…The users were unable to respond without setting up paid memberships…

Something Rotten in Sweden (TW3 #36)

demand in the sex work marketEconomist Charles Hill explains why “end demand” strategies are not only morally bankrupt, but have the opposite effect their proponents claim:  “Economic analysis suggests that this policy may not have the desired effect.  In fact, I contend that it might actually have the perverse effect of increasing the supply of sex services…”  I’m not even going to try to synopsize this, but it’s definitely worth your time even if your eyes glaze over once the  statistical analysis starts.

King of the Hill

This is mostly about another rescue industry gimmick, but it contains the announcement that “San Diego is the 13th highest child prostitution area in the country, according to the FBI…1.2 million children are trafficked every year

Think of the Children! (TW3 #40)

[before] Arbor Day this year, Pornhub launched its “Give America Wood” campaign…to plant a tree for every 100 videos watched in the “Big Dick” category…[the NGO which got the check] “politely requested” not to be identified.  Pornhub ran into the same reluctance when they ran their  “Save the Boobs” campaign…in 2012…Komen…publicly rejected the money…Pornhub split the cash between three smaller unidentified organizations…this month, James Deen…was rejected by…a slew of major breast cancer organizations.  Instead, he’ll donate 50 percent of all profits from his website during…October to smaller organizations like The Rose and Living Beyond Breast Cancer…

On the Simultaneous Having and Eating of Cake

the state Supreme Court decided that dancers at one Las Vegas club are employees, not independent contractors, and are entitled to be paid minimum wage.  The unanimous ruling…was issued in a class-action lawsuit filed…on behalf of dancers at Sapphire Gentlemen’s Club…Clark County District Court…hearings [will] determine how much more than 6,600 current and former dancers at the club are owed…the amount could reach $40 million, including back wages, plus the return of “house fees” the dancers paid the club to be allowed to work…

Original Sin

Yvonne Zimmerman & Letitia Campbell on “sex trafficking” mythology’s roots in the evangelical/neofeminist alliance:

…As the members of the alliance worked together to combat pornography, some Christian groups began to incorporate [feminist] rhetoric …Soon…members of religiously conservative groups were rehearsing arguments about the degradation of women, violence against women, and even women’s inequality…the feminist-evangelical anti-pornography alliance was instrumental in setting the stage for the contemporary…anti-trafficking movement…the rhetoric of “sexual slavery”…appears much earlier (and with different meaning) in radical feminist critiques…[and] concerns about the media’s sexualization of ever-younger girls…remain a staple of the contemporary anti-trafficking movement…

Whither Canada?

As vile as any similar badge-lickery from the US:

Since three key prostitution laws were overturned nearly a year ago, Ottawa police have struggled with how to [harass sex workers and clients]…Insp. Mike Laviolette…[pretends] he wants to…keep an eye out for human trafficking…[and lied that] the average age of sex slaves…was 18 years old…

The rest includes a leering, lip-smacking description of a sleazy female cop used to trick men so they can be abducted and forced into “john school” and subjected to propaganda about “the dark and dangerous aspects of prostitution“.

Whither Canada? (TW3 #423)

A Liberal senator will propose more amendments to the Conservative government’s controversial anti-prostitution bill as the clock ticks down on a court-imposed deadline…George Baker said…he intends to introduce 15 amendments…seeking to remove provisions which would criminalize those who sell sex…

Buttons, Bags & Banknotes (TW3 #429) 

Feminist T-shirts proudly worn by [British celebrities and politicians] are made in “sweatshop” conditions by migrant women paid just 62p [99¢] an hour…on…Mauritius…[the workers] sleep 16 to a room – and earn much less than the average wage on the island.  The £45 [$72] T-shirts carry the defiant slogan “This is what a feminist looks like”.  But one of the thousands of machinists declared:  “We do not see ourselves as feminists.  We see ourselves as trapped”…

Dysphemisms Galore (Traffic Updates) 

It’s good I got out of owning an escort service when I did, but how can even cops mouth these ridiculous dysphemisms with a straight face?

Dunwoody [Georgia] police said… they have busted a prostitution ring masquerading as high-end modeling outfits where clients paid $300 or more an hour.  Police have charged the owners and operators of Atlanta Fantasies and Ashley’s of Atlanta with human trafficking for sexual servitude, keeping a place of prostitution and racketeering.  Charged so far are Robert Tyler…and Donna Allen…Some 26 women — all adults — were identified as “victims” of the organization…

Imaginary Crises (TW3 #441) 

Mike Siegel corrects bad “campus rape crisis” math:

…the…0.2 percent rate touted in a recent op-ed…misses the mark because it uses the wrong numbers and some poor assumptions…The…National Crime Victimization Survey…indicates about a 10% lifetime risk or about 3% college-age risk…the one-in-five stat is inconsistent with another number claimed by advocates of new policies:  a reporting rate of 12%.  If you assume a reporting rate near that and use the actual number of reporting assaults on major campuses, you get a rate between 3% and 5%…Further research is consistent with this rate…Mark Perry finds 3-5%.  Texas schools show 5-6%.  NCVS and RAINN stats indicate 2-5%.  Basically, any time we use actual numbers based on objectives surveys, we find the number of women who are in danger of sexual violence during their time on campus is 1-in-20, not 1-in-5…if one in five women on college campuses are being sexually assaulted…we should shut down every college in the country since they are the most dangerous places for women in the entire United States…

Lack of Evidence (TW3 #444) Tim Osrin

This isn’t the first time that South African swim coach has beat up a woman:

Tim Osrin claimed that he had never assaulted anyone before but had mistaken [Cynthia] Joni for a “prostitute” and “snapped”.  Now, a…sex-worker has come forward to claim that earlier this year, Osrin told her to “fuck off out of my street”, before hitting her so hard that he knocked a tooth out of her mouth.  The woman laid a charge of assault against Osrin…At least five sex-workers who operate in the area attested to [her] injuries and alleged they had also been harassed…

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All prostitution laws are conceived as methods to control women who, before ideas of victimhood took hold, were understood to be powerful, dangerous figures associated with rebellion, revolt, carnival, the world upside down, spiritual power and calculated wrongdoing.  –  Laura Agustín

The Pro-Rape Coalition

Dr. Robert King on porn, with a nice endorsement of yours truly:

…Some would like to ban fantasies—hide them away…fantasy can function as an outlet for desire…violence—including sexual violence–has been decreasing across the board.  Has consumption of violent fantasy decreased?  Quite the reverse.  Violent video is everywhere but violent crime has gone down…we really need to stop thinking that we…know what is good for others—especially when those others are consenting adults…puritans…try to control others’ sexuality…through guilt, fear, and misinformation… as documented in exhaustive detail by the excellent Brooke Magnanti and Maggie McNeill…If the puritans were serious about harm to children they would spear-head proper realistic sex education…

Decentralization

Brian Doherty draws on a Forbes article to discuss the government’s latest efforts to shut Bitcoin down, destroy everything good about it or, failing in both of those, to steal a cut of it.

If It Were Legal

One wonders how much more often sex workers could help to fight actual crime were we not absurdly and arbitrarily classed as criminals ourselves:

A prostitute given $300 in dye-stained $20 bills led police to the home of the man suspected of robbing a…bank…she…told the FBI agent [that the suspect, Anthony] Nugent…began behaving erratically [after paying her, so]…she left…later that night…her boyfriend…told her [the money] appeared to be dye-stained…Bubblegum Husky

Scapegoats

Frankly, what’s most “unclear” to me is how this is even physically possible:

An Idaho man was arrested Thursday after police say he sexually penetrated a cat on more than one occasion.  Ryan Havens Tannenholz, 28 – a…”furry” who dresses up as a dog he calls Bubblegum Husky — is charged with six counts of crimes against nature, and one count of cruelty to an animal…It’s unclear how [police] learned about [his] alleged actions…Furry News Magazine Flayrah reports that Tannenholz was a member of…furry fandom…who portrayed himself as a “sparkly” husky, a blue fox named Kismet…and another purple canine…

Above the Law

I’ve said it countless times:  As long as government actors have excessive power over individuals, cops will continue to rape women in their homes:  “A deputy in Texas accused of raping a woman in front of her children has resigned…Lisa Rodriguez…said [he] told her if she resisted he would take her to jail…” or during traffic stops:  “…Thomas Merenda and Franklin Hartley…are charged with unlawful compensation, a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison…Hartley ordered the passenger to perform oral sex on him, then [raped] her.  Merenda…asked the victim…to punch him in the…genital area…’Tom really enjoys this’, [Hartley] reportedly told the driver…”  Note that the cops are charged with “accepting bribes” rather than rape, and the reporter even avoids the word.  TSA agents can’t even confine their groping to travelers:  “A [TSA] manager at Lexington’s Blue Grass Airport resigned after he was charged with sexually abusing a co-worker…Shane Hinkle, 38…is accused of forcibly touching [his victim]…

Enabling Oppression

The Polaris Project continues its loathsome and exploitative campaign to link sex work to historical American black slavery:

New undercover footage of pimp-controlled prostitution will be shared…at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and End Slavery Cincinnati to show the realities of enslaved women.  The Polaris Project developed the 20-minute footage from the streets of Washington, D.C.  Following the showing, representatives from The Salvation Army’s Anti-Human Trafficking Program, the Cincinnati Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Off the Streets program will speak about the reality of pimp-controlled prostitution in Cincinnati…

Imagination Pinned Down

Elizabeth LoftusHere’s a short overview of the work of Elizabeth Loftus, the foremost expert on the malleability of human memory:  “…Loftus…has done more than any other researcher to document the unreliability of memory…and…has used what she has learned to testify as an expert witness in hundreds of criminal cases…informing juries that memories are pliable and that eyewitness accounts are far from perfect recordings of actual events…Now…[her] research is starting to bring about lasting changes in the legal system…” I drew heavily upon Dr. Loftus’ work for the research paper I wrote for the Albany Government Law Review, to be published this autumn.

Hooker Humor (TW3 #31)

Miranda Kane, the BBW escort turned comedienne, is getting good reviews; here’s an introduction she wrote for the Edinburgh Festival:

…There’s a stigma to sex-workers, as well as their clients.  We’re all shown the negative side, the poor, helpless trafficked victims.  But all the women I knew were just ordinary, happy ladies who just happened to enjoy having sex for money…Our clients weren’t seedy, sex-obsessed perverts.  They were kind, keen, appreciative men who just wanted a moment of luxury, intimacy… to be able to be with the kind of women they could only fantasise about normally…My show exposes the every-day life of a sex-worker; how we work in the digital age, the bizarre and strange requests from clients, what both elated and annoys us.  I try and show the human aspect – that the women are normal, they’re not drug addled victims, nor are they overtly beautiful and wealthy courtesans.  They’re women you see every day…

Bottleneck

[Queensland] Police Minister Jack Dempsey is considering allowing sex workers to make suburban house calls after lobbying by the Prostitution Licensing Authority.  While it is lawful for sole operators to make house calls it is illegal for brothels to send their workers to clients…brothel owners…[say they] need the extra business to remain profitable…[PLA] chairman Manus Boyce…[said] that illegal prostitution was operating without fear in Queensland and that allowing more outcalls could put more pressure on the illicit trade…

The Naked Anthropologist

Last week Dr. Laura Agustín published “Prostitution Law and the Death of Whores”, a primer for those who haven’t thought much about the harm anti-prostitution laws cause:

…Twenty years ago I first asked two questions that continue to unsettle me today.  The first is answerable:  What does a woman who sells sex accomplish that leads to her being treated as fallen, beyond the pale, incapable of speaking for herself, discountable if she does speak, invisible as a member of society?  The answer is she carries a stigma.  The second question is a corollary:  Why do most public conversations focus on laws and regulations aimed at controlling these stigmatized women rather than recognizing their agency?  To that the answer is not so straightforward… My focus on the female is deliberate.  All who propose prostitution policy are aware that men sell sex, but they are not concerned about men, who simply do not suffer the disgrace and shame that fall on women who do it…

Though it’s not extremely long, the article covers agency denial, the “rescue industry”, the irrationality of prostitution law, neofeminism, the Swedish model and media sensationalism; it’s thus one you should bookmark for sharing with people who are ignorant, but will listen to reason.floating brothels Utrecht

Dutch Threat

As the Netherlands continues to cave in to greed and hysteria, Dutch sex workers have been forced to find their own solutions:  “A group of 15 prostitutes in Utrecht have set up a cooperative to run floating brothels after the council withdrew operating permits from their previous landlords.  The cooperative, named Macha’s, is now applying for a…brothel licence and a boat mooring permit…Some 300 Utrecht prostitutes lost their place of work when the council cancelled contracts for the operation of brothels…because of human trafficking fears…

Backwards into the Future (TW3 #321)

The Commission for Gender Equality has [submitted] a proposal…for the decriminalisation of sex work [in South Africa]…“The current position of total criminalisation has not succeeded in addressing problems associated with sex work”…said the…commission…[which] was informed by studies conducted in…New Zealand and Australia.  “Legislation…should adopt the principle that sex work is work, and allow the industry to be governed by the wealth of existing labour and business laws aimed at preventing unsafe, exploitative and unfair business practices”…The commission said studies…offered strong and concrete evidence that decriminalisation empowered sex workers to protect themselves from violence…improved relationships…[with] the police…[and] reduced chances of sex trafficking or sexual exploitation of children…

Zurvivor

Deals with devils always have more conditions than anticipated:

The Maine woman convicted of running a prostitution business out of a Zumba fitness studio is headed back to court…to fight having to testify at the trial of one of her clients.  Alexis Wright…has been subpoenaed by prosecutors to testify at the trial of Donald Hill…

It’s That Time Again (TW3 #326)

A politician’s wife wants her state to look even stupider than New Jersey by starting “gypsy whores” panic a year and a half in advance:

The wife of Sen. John McCain…is calling on the [Arizona] legislature to pass tougher laws against human trafficking…[for] the Super Bowl in 2015.  “The Super Bowl, as all of you know, is one of the world’s largest human trafficking centers when it goes on in the world,” McCain said…Forbes reported that 10,000 prostitutes were brought to Miami for the 2010 Super Bowl.  There were 133 prostitution arrests in Dallas during the 2011 Super Bowl…

No, Forbes said that habitual liars NCMEC claimed there were that many, and there were 133 arrests of all kinds in the entire Dallas-Fort Worth area during a 2½ week period before the Super Bowl…which is typical for DFW.Spreadsheets

Between the Ears (TW3 #332)

Dr. Brooke Magnanti writes about others who think good sex can be defined by statistics:

…Thanks to the new [iPhone] app Spreadsheets, no longer will you have sex without being able to save and analyse the stats of your performance…according to the company’s website:  “Spreadsheets monitors data from user’s movement and audio levels through the accelerometer and microphone to provide statistical and visual analysis of their performance in bed”…The notion that longer is better…and that loud equals enjoyment has gained such traction in popular culture that it’s hard to find any other measure of what “good” sex is…I once dated a guy whose sole measure of whether a good time had been had was how long he stayed erect.  Being jackhammered long into the wee hours is hardly a great way to spend your time…

Do As I Say, Not As I Do (TW3 #332)

A pastor from…Sweden has been convicted of buying sex from a prostitute after…police broke up a major pimping operation…[he] has been temporarily relieved of his duties…”  Synopsis of the rest:  “human trafficking”, “These woman were used as if they were on a conveyor belt“, blah blah blah.

Election Day (TW3 #332)

As you might imagine, I find this new trend of cops arresting retired madams on drug charges to be a highly disturbing one:

…Heidi Fleiss has been charged in Nevada with possession of marijuana with the intent to sell…officers found nearly 400 marijuana plants growing in and around…[her] home in Pahrump…She said she had been growing marijuana without a license and that she intended to sell it to a cooperative in Las Vegas…she was not arrested.  All the plants were taken away by police as evidence.

Yeah, “evidence”.  Pull the other one, guys.

The Privilege Paradigm

Coincidentally, someone else wrote about the problem with the word “privilege” and came to almost exactly the same conclusions as I did:

…A privilege is something extra — and from a very young age, I knew that when something was referred to as a privilege, I was in danger of losing it.  How does that make sense…with something like being free from fear of police harrassment?…when it is called a “privilege,” my initial thought is that it is something unjustified that should be taken away — i.e., we should all have to be stopped and frisked…I [have] some degree of autonomy and dignity in my work — do we really want to say that that’s a “privilege”?  In both cases, aren’t we dealing with something more like a right that’s been denied to a great many people?…

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Innocent people should not be trapped for engaging in their legal right to ask to have sex in private with another adult.  –  Ezekiel Edwards

Beneath the Veil

It isn’t often we hear anything credible about sex work in strict Muslim countries, which are among the few places in the world more oppressive of sex workers than the United States, but this one seems both realistic and relatively non-judgmental:

…In Yemen, sex work is punishable by stiff prison sentences of up to three years…women earn 50,000 to 60,000 riyals [$230-$280] per client…Wealthy Gulf playboys are known to drop 100,000 riyals [$470] or more per woman…[but women] picked up at a restaurant or club…earn [only] 10,000 [to] 15,000 riyals ($47-$70).  Condoms are standard…testing for sexually transmitted diseases is less common but not rare…Because of the illicit nature of the work, sex workers have virtually no protections against abuse.  It is not uncommon for men to refuse to pay.  Sometimes, a woman will meet a client, only to discover his three friends have accompanied him…

The reporter’s source is a Somali woman working in Yemen who, like so many of us, has been in and out of sex work for much of her life.

Updates

Rough Trade

At least British juries recognize that a prostitute can be raped:  “Arturas Vasilivas attacked the girl…on October 13 last year…Prosecutor Mary Loram…[said] ‘He clearly viewed her as an object with which he could do as he pleased. She was absolutely terrified’…”  He was convicted after only 3½ hours of deliberation and will be sentenced next month.  In the United States, however, the rapist usually has to be shockingly violent to ensure conviction:

A limo driver faces up to 14 years in prison…[for] running down a teenage prostitute…Adekunkle Adefeyinti, 42, of Chicago, [was convicted] of two counts of aggravated battery…[for injuring] the 16-year-old girl while fleeing in his Hummer to avoid payment…part of her scalp [was] ripped off and [she suffered] facial nerve damage…

Walking Stereotype Sues Whore

Of course, criminalization also allows whores to cheat clients as well:

…Ernesto S. Tapang, 42, and Shuzhen Santos both have been charged with misdemeanor prostitution…Tapang…paid Santos $120 for an hour of sex…[but] twenty minutes later she allegedly told him…it was over and…refused to give [him] a refund so he flagged down a patrol car and reported her to police…

A False Dichotomy

It’s always a pleasure when people who have never done sex work get it:

Beyond the simplistic dichotomies within western feminism on the nature of sex work there is a complex picture in which many women take a pragmatic approach, negotiating with their sexuality an income while withstanding the “occupational hazard” of rampant violence, says Sehin Teferra.  In Ethiopian cities…many young women become sex workers having failed to make ends meet by waiting tables or working as house-help, or [after] personal hardship such as an unplanned birth…[or running] away from home…Nearly all the women [Teferra] spoke to had faced violence at some point…[but] did not portray themselves as victims, and neither were they presented as victims by the men…Despite the low stature of women in Ethiopia in general, sex workers [including casual ones who do not identify as such] are recognized as making good money…[so] many couples and families [depend] on a young woman who sells sex.  Many male partners of sex workers expressed frustration that as unskilled labour, they cannot find work that pays as well, and as regularly, as their partners’ sex work…while many sex workers…express a desire to leave their line of work, others recognize that [it] has allowed them to provide for themselves and their families…

Peeping Toms

Until I read this thorough and sensible article, I hadn’t realized that both major American presidential candidates this year are descended from polygamists (and much more recently in Obama’s Kenyan family than in Romney’s Mormon one).  But that fact has not escaped the notice of those fighting for the right to live in whatever consensual arrangement suits them, who also point out that banning a practice because a minority abuse it is tyranny.  This should obviously sound familiar, but the similarities don’t stop there; Romney has stated, “I can’t imagine anything more awful than polygamy,” which is exactly the same sort of absurdly-exaggerated denunciation politicians usually emit when talking about sex work.

An Ounce of Prevention

Y’all may discuss this in the comments as you wish; please just keep it factual and avoid “mutilation” hyperbole and unverifiable claims about sensitivity:

A 20-year decline in male circumcision has cost the country $2 billion in medical costs that could have been prevented, Johns Hopkins researchers say in a [new] study…boys who are not circumcised are more prone to sexually transmitted diseases and other [costly] health problems over a lifetime…”The economic evidence is backing up what we already know medically,” said Dr. Aaron Tobian…about 55 percent of the 2 million baby boys born each year are circumcised, compared with a peak of 79 percent in the 1970s and 1980s…Studies have long shown that when babies are not circumcised…bacteria and viruses can get trapped in the extra layers of skin left on the penis…circumcision reduces the number of infant urinary tract infections.  Men who are uncircumcised are more at-risk for cancer-causing HPV, HIV, herpes, bacterial vaginitis and other sexually transmitted diseases…

Legal Is as Legal Does

As I’ve stated many times, any artificial bottleneck in the legality of sex work (such as licensing, venue restrictions or immigration controls) inevitably creates problems in the restricted sector.  This excellent article by Christian Vega explains the problems Asian sex workers face in the legalized system in Victoria.

The Course of a Disease

Considering the progress of Swedish Rot in Ireland, it should come as no surprise that Northern Ireland has contracted the disease as well:

…the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Bill…aims to enhance services for victims as well as making it an offence to pay for sexual services from a prostitute…Lord Morrow said…”In Sweden, there’s a very clear message of zero tolerance for the purchase of sex that has had a clear impact on trafficking”…

His Lordship is correct: it has made trafficking worse.

Enabling Oppression

If these women were vulnerable to arrest for prostitution, would this have turned out the same way?

The six-year-old daughter of a sex worker, who was allegedly being tortured by her mother and her partner for the past few months, was rescued by other sex workers…[who heard her] yelling out in pain…and…took her to Medical College and Hospital Calcutta for treatment…The little girl, who looked relieved, kept saying that she did not want to return to her mother…”If the girl meets this kind of treatment from her own mother, she would surely become a victim of circumstances soon…we want the girl to stay at a safer place,” said a member of DMSC.

Soap Opera

Penthouse Club Tampa RNC adTampa Police have arrested nearly 20 women at area strip clubs as part of a crackdown ahead of the Republican National Convention…Tampa Police said they are investigating prostitution and human sex trafficking of minors based on tips that prostitutes may be coming to Tampa to work in adult establishments during the convention.”  Because if Telisia Espinosa says pimped, trafficked streetwalkers work out of strip clubs, that’s good enough for them.

Damned If You Don’t

Maybe if this sort of thing keeps happening, the ACLU will get off its collective arse and actually start challenging these laws:

The South Carolina chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is accusing the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office [of] routinely making unlawful arrests of women they suspect of being prostitutes and men who have sex with men, even though they haven’t broken any laws.  The ACLU says it sent a letter [outlining] “several incidents in which undercover officers approached people parked in their cars, sitting on their own porches or walking down the street and asked suspects to engage in illegal sexual activity, including prostitution and having sex in a public place.  The individuals either declined or offered to engage in lawful private sexual contact, but were arrested anyway”…

Metaupdates

For Those Who Think Legalization is a Good Idea in August Updates (Part One)

It looks like the Indian Supreme Court is starting to back down from its year-old decision to move toward decriminalization:

A year after trying to provide a dignified life to sex workers, the Supreme Court on Thursday said its orders should not be construed as an encouragement to prostitution…Justice [Gyan Sudha] Mishra said, “I prefer to add…sex workers have a right to live with dignity but the collective endeavour must be on part of the sex workers to give up the trade in case they are given alternate platform”…Justice [Altamas] Kabir said:  “It is all very good for your (government’s) policy to say prevent prostitution but will you provide to fill their stomach.  Even a prostitute has a right to live with dignity”…

The other judges waffled even more, and one claimed he was only talking about “sex trafficking” victims.  Well, at least they rejected the government’s attempt to remove DMSC from the advisory panel.

A Tale That Grew in the Telling in October Updates (Part Three)

A news release of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO), said…[a human trafficking] hotline…established a year and a half ago…”has received 11,000 calls from local and overseas sources, with…165 case calls, of which 52 are reportedly victims of human trafficking”…the CFO said “many victims still do not file charges against their recruiters.”

Would that be “many” more than the 11,000 callers, the 165 operators opened files on, the 52 staff represent as real or the much smaller, undisclosed number which actually turn out to be cases of victimization?

An Example To the West in TW3 (#14)

Here’s another article by Matthias Lehmann on sex work in South Korea, this one in response to an article written by a woman who seems to believe that volunteering at a woman’s shelter for a few months makes her a “sex trafficking” expert.  It includes an excerpt from this excellent letter (dated last September) to “human trafficking ambassador” Luis CdeBaca from Ann Jordan and other respected academics:

“…[W]e are concerned that the Obama Administration has produced a document that asserts as matters of proven fact a number of statements, which…are unsupported or unproven by valid research methods and data…the document is illogical, misleading and therefore potentially damaging to on-going efforts globally to prevent trafficking and protect the rights of trafficked persons…these assumptions are not proven in any empirically meaningful way, and [we] believe that they only serve to deflect attention away from the structures and actors that in fact lead to trafficking of women, men and children.  The proposals and statements in the document threaten to divert precious resources from protecting victims of trafficking who urgently need help into a politically contested and futile anti-prostitution campaign…”

Interestingly, Lehmann also compares the “anti-trafficking” campaigns in South Korea with California’s Proposition 35, about which I wrote last week.

Whorearchy in TW3 (#19)

Barcelona’s ill-considered and Swedish-flavored campaign to drive vulnerable women into poverty continues:

…[As of ] 17th August, street prostitution will be totally banned in Barcelona…the…ban will persecute both prostitutes and clients; although the later will have to pay significantly higher fines.  Clients might be fined between €1,000 and €3,000…[while] prostitutes will…[be fined] €100 [to] €750, depending on the situation…

This Week in 2011

I examined a claim that porn causes terrorism, described my “girls’ night out” with two other whore activists, discussed attempts to restrict adult behavior under the excuse of “protecting children”, expressed my opinion on a conflict between two activists, published the tale of an experiment in sexual robotics, looked at several examples of sex work scams and criticized the demonization of “sexting”.

This Week in 2010

What happens when an escort already knows her client personally or because he’s famous?  How should clients treat hookers, and what sorts of presents do they give in addition to fees?  What kinds of tricks do unscrupulous whores use?  What do we think about people who try to “rescue” us?  And what does one do with a talking painting?

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This is a world of compensations; and he who would be no slave, must consent to have no slave. Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves…  –  Abraham Lincoln

Few words (other than merely functional ones such as articles, prepositions, conjunctions and the like) are semantically neutral; most have a connotation which functions in addition to or completely supersedes their denotation.  Expressed in plainer language, most words have a “feel” or emotional weight in addition to their plain dictionary meaning, and ofttimes this weight is more important than the actual definition.  Because of this, one of the most effective tools of propaganda is one we might call “reassociation”; it is accomplished by linking or even equating a concept whose descriptors have a low semantic weight with one of very great semantic weight.  We’ve talked about one common example of this before; because the terms “habituation” and “obsession” lack the powerful onus of “addiction”, those who wish to cast habits (whether semi-physical or wholly psychological) in a negative light label them “addictions”.  Similarly, “trafficking” fetishists equate many things they oppose with slavery; this is especially odious when the propagandists are official ones, since both real slavery and the lesser practices so glibly equated with it can only exist on a large scale with the cooperation of government.

Chattel slavery is an institution in which one human being can legally own another; the slave is classified in the eyes of the state and the society as property, and his only rights are those the state deigns to grant him.  Contrary to popular depictions, slaves are not usually chained; they would be useless for most labor if they were.  Newly-captured slaves who have not yet been transported to the country in which they will be enslaved, or slaves who are being disciplined or held for some purpose from which they might flee (such as sacrifice) are generally the only ones restrained with actual, physical chains.  The bonds of a chattel-slave are invisible, yet far more binding; they are the chains of law and custom, which hold the slave in a condition of servitude even should he physically escape his master.  Would-be social engineers who go about defining every form of labor they dislike as “slavery” insult the experiences of every chattel slave in history and completely miss the worst part of slavery:  its inescapability.  In a society which allows chattel slavery (virtually the entire world prior to the 18th century, and much of it until the second half of the 19th), the slave is viewed by both law and custom as property; even should he escape every law-abiding, “right-thinking” citizen will be against him, and even if he avoids recapture he faces life as a perpetual outlaw until and unless he can somehow reach a land which will not enforce the laws of the one in which he was enslaved.

One of the conditions frequently mislabeled as “slavery” is captivity, the state in which some individual or group holds a person by confinement, force or threat; though it may be extremely brutal and/or frightening, captivity differs from slavery chiefly in that it’s illegal, and should the captive escape he will not usually be returned to his captors…though he may, of course, be persecuted, imprisoned or deported should he be a member of some group officially classed as undesirable by the government.  In other words, captivity can only approximate slavery when a government cooperates with the captors by defining a group of “safe” victims (such as prostitutes or “illegal aliens”) which it will hound should they escape.  A government which defines such a group enables criminals to hold members of that group captive, both by providing them with a credible threat to discourage flight and by ensuring that their captives will not be considered credible witnesses should they flee despite threats.

When the captivity is economic rather than physical, it is referred to as “debt bondage”; like physical captivity, it can only really be enforced by laws which allow the debt holder to steal the property of the victim so bound or even to demand that the debtor be imprisoned.  Wage slavery is a related condition which is enabled by protectionist laws that make it difficult or impossible to start new small businesses (thereby ensuring that most people have to work for the established big ones), and by compulsory union laws which require workers to forfeit a percentage of their wages to a politically-connected NGO which assumes the right to speak for them.  And then there’s serfdom, in which members of a government-defined group “owe” that government a certain percentage of their labor (in other words, an income tax) and can only live or travel in places the government allows them to live or travel.

In every kind of bondage, it is government which creates the legal climate which allows oppression to flourish; remove the laws which chain people to their captors and there is nothing other than plain brute force – which is extremely limited in its usefulness – to keep the serfs, slaves, captives, debtors or bondsmen from simply walking away.  And that’s why things like this make me so furious:

The house where President Abraham Lincoln drafted the Emancipation Proclamation some 150 years ago is confronting the reality that more people are held in modern-day slavery than at the height of the trans-Atlantic slave trade…The…2011 Trafficking in Persons report…[claims that] as many as 27 million men, women and children are living in such bondage.  In an exhibit titled ‘Can You Walk Away?” …President Lincoln’s Cottage…tells the stories of women working as domestic servants without pay, of women forced to work as prostitutes and of men held in servitude through debt contracts and other coercion.  It will remain on view in a small gallery at the site through August 2013.  Curators partnered with the nonprofit Polaris Project…to create the exhibit…

“Plenty of Americans see slavery as an issue that was resolved during the Civil War or by the 13th Amendment…not as a growing humanitarian crisis in our own country”…said [museum director Erin Carlson Mast].  “But fundamentally, the same issue is at stake:  People’s right to freedom”…Since 2007, the Washington-based Polaris Project has received about 45,000 calls to its tip line, including about 11,000 from victims or others calling to report suspected forced servitude or sex trafficking, said executive director Bradley Myles.  More than 2,000 cases have been referred to law enforcement.  “I think that’s just the tip of the iceberg,” Myles said, noting that not all slaves are held by physical force.  “What has grown more is other, broader forms of coercion that are more psychological, are more subtle, are more economic”…

Aside from the incredible insult to the long-dead victims of the Atlantic slave trade and the pimping of Lincoln’s reputation to promote an oppressive agenda, there’s a deeper hypocrisy on display here.  Myles is wrong; few if any modern “slaves” are held by physical force.  They are held by the laws and policies of the United States and other governments, executed by the very “law enforcement” organizations Polaris so happily supports.

One Year Ago Yesterday

How Old is Oldest?” discusses the prehistoric origin of prostitution and describes my first correspondence with evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa.

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