Posts Tagged ‘escort review sites’

Silly men…thought they were better than me…[but] I was smarter than all of them.  I made them pay the few coins that they had on my softness of my body.  –  Gladys, grandmother of Rachel Almeida

Real People My Grandma the Sex Worker

A young woman tells how she discovered her grandmother had been a sex worker:

…”I don’t want you to take sides, Rachel, but your mom’s family isn’t what you think it is.  They’ve lied to you.  Your grandma was a prostitute, and that’s how she met your grandpa.”  And that’s how my dad broke the news to me that my grandmother was a sex worker, and that my “childhood was a lie”(his words).  My initial reaction was that of a fairly-mature-but-still-naïve 16 year old: “Wow, Grandma was a hooker”…I didn’t feel disgusted or betrayed; I…thought it was badass and I wanted to be like her.  I tried to probe my dad about the details of the huge family secret he just revealed—very clearly only to spite my mother—but he said that was all he knew.  My dad kept holding his head in his hands, repeatedly saying, “You’d just never expect it; she doesn’t look like a prostitute,” as if sex workers even wear some kind of easily identifiable uniform…Seven years on from my parents’ divorce, I called my grandmother, Gladys, to talk about her past…I refused to let my Dad have the final say in her life story and what she’s been through.  When she picked up the phone, I could tell she was nervous to speak to me about this…She’s 82 now and lives a long way from appointment-only brothels of Caracas.  Down the phone, she told me her story with the same authority and confidence she had back then.  “If men have the right to pay for sex without judgment,” Grandma told me, “then women also have the right to make sex their career”…

Sales Pitch

The Swedish model has virtually eliminated prostitution in Sweden!

At least six teenagers who were living at a centre for vulnerable young women are reported to have sold sex, with staff doing little to intervene despite being aware of their actions.  Prostitution has been part of everyday life at the centre in Södertälje, south of Stockholm, for several years…Neighbours also reported spotting cars picking the teenagers up late at night…


After Arizona and Washington, Florida is the state most hysterically tyrannical over “sex trafficking”:

A local nonprofit organization, Wings of Shelter, conducted a presentation in front of nearly 50 healthcare professionals…They taught them how to identify the signs of trafficking and how to treat the young victims they find in the schools…They said between 100,000 to 300,000 girls under the age of 18 are victims in the United States every year…the majority of these victims will visit a school nurse due to an injury sustained while trafficking…the three most obvious  physical signs are long sleeves, tattoos, and malnourishment.  The long sleeves are used to hide the marks of abuse and the tattoos may represent ownership in the form of a man’s name or a Chinese symbol…

That “long sleeves” bit comes straight from a Golden Age Wonder Woman comic book.

The Widening Gyre (#348)

Los Angeles’ response to “sex trafficking” is, as one might expect, increased police brutality:

A new human trafficking task force in the Valley has arrested several pimps and dozens of “Johns” in sting operations in the last two weeks…The LAPD Operation-Valley Bureau Human Trafficking Task Force was created to address the “massive influx of human trafficking cases”…said [cop mouthpiece] Marc Evans…“We have a large influx of hard-core gang members that are buying and selling girls on the streets in the form of prostitution”…the task force has [also]…issued 155 traffic citations and [stolen] 10 vehicles, he said. Evans [would] not say how many prostitutes had been arrested…In 2013, 1,077 prostitution victims were arrested by Los Angeles Police Department…

The cops’ idiotically convoluted language is so hard to follow that the reporter accidentally writes the truth by stating that the so-called “victims” (i.e. sex workers) were arrested instead of using one of the usual lies, “rescued” or “recovered”.

The Missing Word

Two brothers in…South Carolina are facing charges that they treated a mentally handicapped black employee like a slave for years…two Charleston attorneys filed a civil suit on behalf of Christopher Smith, who worked at the J&J Cafeteria…for 23 years, but was hideously abused and exploited from 2010 to 2014…[by] Ernest J…and…Bobby Paul Edwards…Smith worked at the Edwards brothers’ business for more than two decades, but it was when Bobby took over as manager in 2010 that Smith’s situation turned ugly.  Smith was…savagely beaten with a frying pan, hot tongs, butcher knives, belt buckles and fists.  He worked 18-hour shifts Monday through Saturday and 11-hour shifts on Sundays with no breaks, receiving little pay.  His total wages for each year added up to less than $3,000…When he wasn’t at work, Smith lived in a filthy, cockroach-infested apartment owned by the Edwards brothers…

Policing for Profit (#446) 

In New Mexico, civil forfeiture is big business…Albuquerque alone brings in more than $1 million through civil forfeiture every year.  Police and prosecutors seize all this property without convicting anyone of a crime—and then keep the property for their own use…This business..came to the public’s attention in late 2014, when an attorney charged with overseeing one city’s forfeiture programs described civil forfeiture as a “gold mine” and property seized through civil forfeiture as “little goodies”.  The resulting wave of public outrage brought landmark legislation, as the state legislature voted unanimously to abolish civil forfeiture…But cities across New Mexico are refusing to follow the law.  In Albuquerque, police and prosecutors…have even announced plans to purchase a new, bigger parking lot to hold all the cars they expect to seize—a parking lot that will be paid for through civil forfeiture…New Mexico Senators…Lisa Torraco and Daniel Ivey-Soto…have joined with the Institute for Justice to enforce the Forfeiture Reform Law…A decision forcing Albuquerque to follow the law will have implications across the state and even across the country…

A Year Later Jody Wilson Raybould

Fleur de Lit is a lot more optimistic than I am; I hope she’s right:

…our new prime minister, Justin Trudeau, has appointed Jody Wilson-Raybould, an aboriginal woman…his justice minister…Wilson-Raybould says she’s been in discussions about Bill C-36 – which the Liberals have promised to repeal – and that in moving forward, “the safety of the workers is fundamentally important”…I am optimistic about this, specifically about [her] use of the word “workers”…

Traffic in Nonsense (#508)

The rhetoric is ridiculous, but even stupid snitches are dangerous:

…a fleet of truck drivers…are leading the charge in exposing the criminals behind these acts and in freeing victims…pimps often bring their victims to rest areas where they present the girls as willing sex workers, according to…Polaris Project [propaganda]…truck drivers, in many cases, have become [informants]…for authorities…seeking to [harass sex workers]…One group in particular, Truckers Against Trafficking, has already [indoctrinated] about 170,000 drivers in [anti-sex worker propaganda]…

Full of Themselves (#535)

What is it about massage parlors that brings the puritans out of the woodwork?

…Massage parlors that offer services well beyond backrubs are not unique to New Orleans…[they] have proliferated in the United States in recent years, expanding their foothold beyond the country’s coastal metropolises.  Though almost universally regarded by law enforcement as shady, the establishments have proved resistant to regulation…the New Orleans Police Department has sharply curtailed vice investigations as officers grapple with huge backlogs of emergency calls…officials said they are confident that erotic massage parlors remain a barely veiled front for prostitution…online [client] forums have been highlighted on social media in recent months by an organization called Lady Trieu, which has…also has posted photos of the cars of alleged johns parked in front of some of the businesses in an attempt to shame them…James Kelly…of Covenant House…said…“It’s degrading of women.  This is a lack of respect.  This isn’t something that you just dismiss”…The federal interest in erotic massage parlors typically hinges on whether investigators can prove the masseuses are being forced to sell their bodies against their will…

The “sex trafficking” rhetoric sprinkled into articles like this isn’t even enough to disguise the true motivations that drive the writers, cops and “activists”:  prudishness, control-freakishness and plain old ugly racism.

For Those Who Think Legalization is a Good Idea (#558)

the All India Network of Sex Workers (AINSW), and other organisations are now…filing a petition before [the Supreme Court hears] a petition for [forcing] sex workers…[into brainwashing camps run] by anti-[sex worker] NGO Prajwala, set to be heard on December 9…“Sex workers…should be accepted and be able to live without stigma,” explains Amit Kumar, an AINSW national coordinator.  India has over three million sex workers but while they are increasingly accepted, they face ‘administrative problems’, says Kumar.  “When police raid a brothel or a sex worker’s house, they smash everything…they arrest every woman and ruin everyone’s lives”…Dr Jana, chief adviser to the Kolkata-based Usha Multipurpose Co-operative Society Ltd…says few women get into sex work because of coercion…

Between the Lines

And don’t think this is atypical:

During [the last “Operation Cross-Country”]…in Virginia, FBI and local [cops]…allegedly nabbed 12 “pimps“…along with the recovery of three “child sex trafficking victims”…two of the…suspects [were] released without charges…And…[another] was…only charged with gun and drug possession…two are juveniles.  And what about the three “children” police “rescued?”  One, a 16-year-old who was allegedly coerced into selling sex…went to police on her own accord…another…age 17, was willingly working in prostitution when she was arrested by police…In the course of this year’s OCC, the FBI helped Virginia vice squads arrest at least 30 people for prostitution, drug possession, and other non-violent or petty offenses…[such as] marijuana possession…driving on a suspended license…providing a false ID…outstanding warrant…and…providing false information to the police…

Now They Notice (#584)

Supporters of Rentboy need to do more than just protest; they’re going to need to literally put their money where their mouths are, because the government stole all of the money Rentboy could have used for its legal defense:

Staffers at a gay escort web site that was raided and shut down in August are trying to hammer out plea deals with prosecutors…Calling it a “digital Stonewall,” gay activists blasted the raid as a needless invasion of people’s private sexual lives and demanded that the raps be dropped.  Protesters — including several escorts who advertised on the site — massed outside of the Brooklyn federal courthouse after the arrests to voice their objections…

Little Tin Gods (#588)

None of this surprises me even one tiny bit:

For years, people in the tiny Louisiana town of Marksville watched the feud between their mayor and local judge like some kind of daytime soap opera…Then came the Nov. 3 shooting that killed a 6-year-old boy…Why in the world, residents ask, were deputy marshals — whose main job is serving court papers for the judge — out there chasing cars and shooting up suspects?  How did one of the deputies — who had been charged twice for aggravated rape and racked up a string of lawsuits accusing him of using excessive force — even get hired?  And how did a speck of a town like Marksville wind up with a shadow police force on its streets?…For years in Marksville, the marshal has been a local bus driver, Floyd Voinche Sr., who carried out his duties with one full-time employee and one part-timer…But sometime in the past two months, that changed…Voinche’s office bought two used police cruisers, hired several part-time deputies, and started patrolling the streets and issuing tickets like regular city police…Voinche has refused to explain his actions…citing a Louisiana law that empowers deputy marshals “in making arrests and preserving the peace”…

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Raising the minimum age perpetuates the notion that sex workers are naive individuals with little to no agency or understanding of their own situation.  –  Laura Marks

Lack of Evidence

A fine example of barking up the wrong tree:

During a recent trip to Miami, San Francisco residents Heather Cox and Gigi Otálvaro-Hormillosa visited Dean’s Gold strip club in North Miami Beach…they were denied entry…[because] they’re women and weren’t “accompanied by a man”…”The message that women must be accompanied by men is totally infantilizing,” says Otálvaro…”it’s a direct statement of exclusion targeted at bisexual women and lesbians”…

Nope and nope. It’s not “infantilizing” and it isn’t “targeted at lesbians”; the Florida policy is an anti-whore measure intended to keep us from “poaching” clients from the clubs.  Don’t like it, lesbians?  Fucking lobby for decriminalization, then, because as long as we have no rights yours will continue to be infringed.  And guys, don’t think these laws don’t affect you, too:

…The YouTube video’s original caption to the video…“Bought a burger and pulled over to have a few bites. I suppose that constitutes probable cause?”  Fortunately, the citizen…pulled out his phone and started recording when the Austin cop  approached the vehicle…Rick asked, “Why am I getting pulled out of my car?”  “Because you’re being detained.” answered the unknown Austin PD officer…Rick immediately asked, “Why am I being detained?”  “Let’s see. It’s 2 o’clock in the morning and you’re in a parked here by yourself in a high prostitution, high drug area”…

They Still Don’t Get It

This “editorial” cannot have possibly been written by an actual editor, unless this paper hires its editors from the local eighth-grade class.  It is also virtually fact-free and if its nose were any higher up the arse of authority it would suffocate:

…Prostitution has always been a money-making endeavor.  It generates an income for the women and the men who often control them.  But, the profession has become more dangerous because many of the prostitutes are desperate for money to support drug addiction.  That, of course, means crimes related to prostitution have increased dramatically…Most of the women are not street-walkers, but advertise themselves on a website called The Back Page…police respond to ads to snare women, and place fake ads on the site to entice the male customers…Fewer women are now advertising on the site, but the demand from male customers was still too high…prostitutes were more numerous 40 years ago and they frequented the heart of the downtown.  Development in the center city that has attracted families chased the prostitutes away.  We appreciate the police for continuing to work on the prostitution problem and…the developers who continue to make the downtown a better place…

End Demand

Ever wonder what kind of sick propaganda men are subjected to in “john school” for the “crime” of sexual desire?

Imagine your mother or the person you think of like a mother.  Now picture her on the street, offering sexual services for $10 at least a half-dozen times a day…The goal of the day was to outline not only the “what ifs,” such as being assaulted and robbed, but to impart that many prostituting are forced there by circumstances, whether that’s another person, addiction, or mental illness…the men also hear about possible health impacts, from HIV to pubic lice, sexual addiction, and the impacts of prostitution on communities…


All anti-sex laws are repeatedly supported by courts until the day they aren’t:

A…judge has refused to find the laws that outlaw prostitution in Ohio unconstitutional in the case against two women who were operating a massage parlor…“Ohio prostitution statue compromises the protected right to sexual privacy by denying consenting adults the right to make decisions about sexuality in the commercial market place,” [defense attorney] Blake Somers wrote in his motion. “Such an instruction is not justified or mitigated by societal moral concerns…making the sale of sex illegal violates the right of sexual privacy derived from the due process clause and the defendant herein seeks nothing more that to invoke the principals of liberty that already exists”…

Still a Child 

Twenty-five years ago, Jim Kelly argued before the New Orleans City Council that women ages 18 to 20 shouldn’t be allowed to work as exotic dancers…The proposed ordinance was approved…but after a recent murder case involving 19-year-old dancer Jasilas Wright, Kelly realized it was not being enforced.  In July, he returned to City Hall to put teeth into the existing ordinance…Local dancers say the ordinance shouldn’t exist at all…”Don’t tell women they can’t work a f—king job when they’re adults,” says Lilith, a 27-year-old dancer at Babe’s Cabaret who started when she was 20. “To assume we’re all victims and have no other options or are forced to be there is simply disrespectful.”  Kelly says he is trying to protect young women…

Buttons, Bags & Banknotes Zoo Weekly

Bauer Media announced that Zoo Weekly would be closing “due to tough retail conditions”.  It has been declared that its October edition will be its last…it is a victory that Collective Shout, Australia’s most vocal anti-porn campaigners, is claiming as its own.  In August…Zoo Weekly was removed from Coles’ shelves after a “successful online campaign” was waged by Collective Shout…history has shown that Collective Shout’s real problem lies with the idea of women displaying their bodies in men’s magazines…The women who appear in these magazines, often dressed in string bikinis, have done so consensually and have been paid for their work…there have been no instances where Zoo Weekly has placed a woman on their cover without that woman’s approval…

A Tale That Grew in the Telling (#419)

Americans disapprove of teaching kids about sex, but they’re all for filling their heads with stupid anti-sex propaganda:

…North Carolina Senate Bill 279 would amend state sex-education standards to require all schools teach age-appropriate info on “the threats” of sex trafficking…The bill also says school administrators must collaborate with law enforcement agents when developing or presenting this material…Training cops on sex trafficking issues is often a collaborative effort by religious nonprofits and the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) who preach the new gospel of prostitution: that almost all women…were…forced into it and should be treated as victims; that the Internet fuels a thriving child sex-slavery trade; that “ending demand” for adult prostitution by targeting johns and using other tough-on-prostitution measures are necessary to stop children from being sold into sexual slavery; and that there’s a rampant and escalating problem with sex trafficking in the United States.  But there is no solid evidence that any of these things are true.  A DOJ-orchestrated, law-enforcement-centered sex trafficking “awareness” program for public school kids seems likely to spew the kind of fact-lite, panic-heavy propaganda that fueled school anti-drug programs like DARE…

The Course of a Disease (#423)

The Israeli journalist who wrote this article on brothels in Tel Aviv presents a much more nuanced view of sex work than one would see in the American media:

…Reports on prostitution tend to focus on exceptional cases, such as…an underage sex ring…[or] human trafficking, a phenomenon of the 1990s…They concentrate on…“notorious drug and prostitution den[s]”…[such as] the Hasan Arfa area…a warren of tin shacks and garages supposedly overrun by drug users and sex workers…[prohibitionist]  Rebecca Hughes…writes, “Most women do not choose to be prostitutes.”  The actual face of prostitution is more nuanced.  There are hundreds of brothels in Tel Aviv. Many of them operate openly, advertising their services on the street with business-sized cards scattered on sidewalks throughout the city by young men…

Innocence Never Had (#428)

Yet another attempt to cast young people as passive vegetables without agency:

On Tuesday night Sean ’Diddy’ Combs tweeted a petition asking the Associated Press to stop using the phrases “child prostitute” and “child prostitution” in their style guides and news stories.  “They are victims [and] survivors of rape,” he wrote, sharing a link to the Change.org campaign…Because the terms deal with the issue of people who are too young to consent to sex, let alone sex work, the group argues that saying “child prostitute” or “child sex worker” is both insensitive and factually inaccurate.  Instead, the group suggests that outlets refer to these children as “victims and survivors of child rape”…

No.  The number of underage sex workers who are “children” in any meaningful sense is virtually nil; the vast majority are above the age of consent, albeit below 18.  To call them “victims of child rape” is both insulting and factually inaccurate.

Imaginary Crises (#445) 

The people who profit from rape panic just won’t stop creating new bogus “studies” designed to uphold their cherished “1 in 5” myth:

More than 20 percent of female undergraduates at an array of prominent universities said this year that they were victims of sexual assault and misconduct, echoing findings elsewhere…The survey from the Association of American Universities drew responses from 150,000 students at 27 schools…Researchers acknowledged the possibility of an overstated victimization rate because there was evidence that hundreds of thousands of students who ignored the electronic questionnaire were less likely to have suffered an assault…

Here’s another hint: counting everything under “sexual assault and misconduct” as assault is the same as counting everything under “murder and assault” as murder.grumpy Gloria

The Leading Players in the Field, Not (#449)

This Indian critique of anti-whore “feminists” has especially strong words for Gloria Steinem:

…[Steinem’s] opposition to the AI proposal is based upon a rather parochial view of what sex work means to impoverished women, especially in developing countries…Since 2010 I have been engaged in ethnographic research with Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (DMSC)…Steinem visited  Sonagachhi in April 2012 on a six-day “learning tour”, under the guidance of Apne Aap Women Worldwide, an anti-[sex work] organisation…She called this tour a “life changing experience” because she met several women who were…victims of unspeakable abuse.  However…In the last five years I have only met a handful of women in Sonagachhi who were trafficked.  In the initial phase of this research I gathered stories of how the women arrived in Sonagachhi and a pattern soon emerged consisting of abject poverty, abandonment, hunger, motherhood, familial responsibilities, and finally survival.  Most women told me that they arrived in Sonagachhi through a friend, a relative, or a neighbour who was either working in and/or had contacts in Sonagachhi…The women also do not necessarily see their work as “making a choice” in the classic dyad of forced into, or chose to engage in, prostitution or sex work.  Rather, it is the absence of choice and the structural barriers of poverty that lead them to sex work…

Seizing Power (#567)

Backpage wants a federal appellate court to prohibit Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart from pressing credit card companies to de-fund the site…The company set the appellate process in motion…when it filed…paperwork to appeal U.S. District Court Judge John Tharp, Jr.’s refusal to grant a preliminary injunction against Dart…

Now They Notice

In another example of how the Rentboy raid is being treated differently from the many raids on female escort sites which preceeded it, here’s an interview with a gay Rentboy client; how often have you seen interviews with the clients of female sex workers, despite their far greater numbers?

…I now enjoy my sexuality in a way  in which I don’t think would have happened unless I hired escorts.  It’s specifically because the cash makes it professional.  It’s bad customer service for him to judge me for my interests…I’m not saying he has to put up with everything I want.  In fact, there’s some things that I’ve asked for that he says not to…If he says no, then it’s no…That professionalism and that distance is profoundly helpful.  It takes me to a place where I can just enjoy sexuality.  It’s nice and clean…I see laws against prostitution as intolerant…We know from Romer v. Evans, that mere moral prohibition against something is not sufficient grounds for making a practice illegal.  In Lawrence v. Texas, for the life of me, I cannot see how Kennedy’s reasoning about an ordered liberty about private choices between consenting adults doesn’t cover prostitution.  He has that weird declaration at the end of his opinion that this case has nothing to do with prostitution.  It comes out of nowhere, he just stuck it in there to cover his ass…It strikes me as profoundly cruel for people who have more barriers to an enjoyable sex life, to just criminalize a method that works for both parties…

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It’s basically a vice-squad operation writ large over the entire nation and imbued with overstated moral urgency.  –  Elizabeth Nolan Brown

R.I.P. Candida Royalle Candida Royalle

Former porn star Candida Royalle, regarded as a pioneer for her work in front of and behind the camera, has died after battling ovarian cancer.  She was 64.  The actress — whose [legal] name [was] Candice Vadala — performed in more than two dozen adult films, but was best known for her work as a director… “Everyone assumes I was probably given a hard time by the adult film biz but they always treated me fairly, even if they at first doubted me,” she explained on her website.  “They’ve come to respect that I was the first one with vision and recognition of what would become the ‘couples’ market”…

A Load of Farley

Farley’s going to keep hawking this same snake oil until she croaks:

Last week, research making the media rounds declared that men who pay for sex are more sexually aggressive, pathologically masculine, and likely to commit sexual assault than other men…this study—led by noted anti-sex work activist Melissa Farley and funded by a group which aims to “eliminate” prostitution—comes with a host of important caveats before taking too seriously its purported conclusions…all participants live in Boston…The kind of people likely to be trolling newspapers and Craigslist for gigs and to be enticed to talk about their sex lives for cash may also differ in significant ways from the general male population…The claim that men who pay for sex are more likely to commit sexual violence is based not on their criminal pasts but on their answers to a number of personality questions and hypotheticals…on a 34-item questionnaire…it’s a stretch to say they’re “more likely to commit rape” and not at all the same as saying they have “a dark history of violence against women”…Farley has a long history of publishing research that casts prostitution in a negative light, frequently speaks about prostitution’s perceived ills, and has run an anti-prostitution advocacy group…for the better part of the past two decades. Its goal is “to abolish the institution of prostitution.”  The research was funded by a group with a mission to eliminate “men’s assumption of the right to prostitution” [and]…study authors thanked famous anti-pornography activist Catherine MacKinnon for her “invaluable” and “critical feedback regarding the summary and interpretation of these findings.”  In promoting this study, Farley casually calls strip clubs hubs of child sex trafficking and says things like, “We hope this research will lead to a rejection of the myth that sex buyers are simply sexually frustrated nice guys”…

Monkey Business

They’re on their way

In April, a chimp in The Netherlands took down a drone being used to film the Burgers’ Zoo…researchers now say the video shows that the chimp planned out its actions in advance.  The drone had already flown by in a practice run, at which time it caught the attention of several chimps in the enclosure…And when it came back, they were ready:  Two females sat where the drone was going to hover, holding long twigs…their faces show exertion, but not fear — indicating that they were acting deliberately, and not flailing around in terror at the foreign object…

Sold Out 

The modern LGBT rights movement has been veering toward conservatism for some time, evidenced by its primary and overarching mission to finally achieve Marriage Equality…a civil rights movement which once championed our right to sexual liberation and a declaration of our right to be “different”…essentially withered into a call for assimilation…Promiscuity, probably the most common of vilified behaviors, is regularly regarded not as an individual’s command of their own sexual agency but instead an expression of their lack of self respect or sense of self worth, as something pitiable and damning.  Likewise sex work…is a shameful and exploitative act…blanket generalizations of “right” and “wrong” rule the discourse…

The Missing Word

I know I’ve written about this before, but I can’t find it:

A Pennsylvania judge convicted of sending young kids to juvenile detention centers in return for cash has been sentenced to 28 years in prison…Mark Ciavarella Jr. was convicted of taking up to $1 million in bribes from developers of juvenile detention centers in…Pennsylvania.  The disgraced judge became known for doling out harsh sentences for small, petty crimes in order to receive payment for each kid sent…

Crying for Nanny (#539)

“Induce sex trafficking”? That’s some serious bullshit there:

…Washington’s Supreme Court has refused to dismiss a lawsuit against [Backpage] by three minors who say they were raped by adults who responded to ads on the site.  The ruling is at odds with other decisions that have held Backpage, Craigslist and other sites are immune from civil lawsuits based on crimes by users…Backpage asked for the lawsuit to be dismissed at an early stage, arguing that the federal Communications Decency Act immunizes Web services companies from liability for acts by users.  But the Washington Supreme Court ruled that the Communications Decency Act doesn’t protect Web sites that “develop” objectionable content, as opposed to sites that merely “host” the content…”It is important to ascertain whether in fact Backpage designed its posting rules to induce sex trafficking,” Judge Steven Charles Gonzalez wrote for the majority…

Shifting the Blame (#553)

Nobody ever sold sex before Backpage!

…Backpage.com…now turns up in countless police reports…sex workers and those who exploit them for profit increasingly turn to the Internet to facilitate their activity…Research suggests many sex workers enter the trade as teenagers…and more than one third have had abusive or violent clients…The danger inherent in the trade was highlighted on July 2 when…34-year-old…Sanisha Johnson was…robbed and murdered by two Massachusetts men who arranged to meet her on Backpage…

Ashley Madison (#557) escorts-ca

Surprising no one:

Avid Life Media, the…parent company of…Ashley Madison, secretly operated an online escort service, recently leaked documents reveal.  The company was allegedly actively recruiting escorts for a separate “dating” website that was aimed at “sugar daddies”…escorts.ca…is similar to other online directories for escort services which have triggered anti-prostitution raids by US law enforcement authorities.  The website was reportedly leased though a shell company called Pernimus Limited…

Amnesty At Last

Kari Lerum on the Amnesty declaration:

…While celebrities typically capture more attention than scientists, Amnesty listened to the latter.  After two years of consulting with global health and human rights researchers as well as sex workers and victims of human trafficking, the largest and arguably most respected human rights organization in the world made its game-changing declaration.  Amnesty International will now develop policy on nation-states’ ethical obligation to decriminalize sex work…Immediately following the vote, CATW issued a press release declaring that Amnesty International…“deliberately excluded the voices and expertise of survivor-leaders and women’s rights organizations”…given the rigorous and prestigious research cited by Amnesty, in combination with a dearth of medical and academic researchers affiliated with either CATW’s board of directors or petition, this particular accusation may ring hollow…

Vendetta (#569)

The differences between the way this is covered by badge-lickers:

A coalition of dozens of law enforcement agencies arrested more than 1,000 pimps and sex buyers in a summer-long series of prostitution stings…known as the National Johns Suppression Initiative…A total of 39 law enforcement agencies across 18 states arrested 961 men trying to buy sex and 71 pimps or traffickers…Sheriff [Tom] Dart [said]…“These women and girls have been brutalized and exploited – and the most effective way to deter these heinous crimes is to target the demand.”  The Cook County Sheriff’s office has repeatedly attacked Backpage.com as a haven for pimps and traffickers…occasionally, officers encountered children while carrying out the stings…

…and the way it’s covered by rational people is both striking and instructive:

Every summer, police and prosecutors from around the country come together…to saddle men with criminal records for attempted sex…the months-long effort…turned up fewer than 75 individuals suspected of anything tangentially related to sex trafficking (including “pimping”, pandering or “promoting prostitution”).  But police were able to arrest nearly 1,000 men who indicated they might like to pay adult women for sex, along with an untold number of sex workers themselves…This summer’s Johns Initiative will net law enforcement a minimum of $189,170 in fines for the solicitation arrests alone…Dart claims they uncovered 308 sex-trafficking victims, including 258 adults and 50 minors.  But it’s hard to say what this really means, since all minors engaged in sex work are labeled de facto victims by police…and many police departments have started classifying sex workers of any age as trafficking victims—at least for public-relations purposes.  After the press releases come out, however, these adult and teen sex workers are all-too-often arrested if they refuse to cooperate with cops, and sometimes even if they do.  Pittsburgh’s Detective Ryczaj said arresting sex workers is “the kindest thing you can do for them,” because he thinks they’re mostly homeless, drug addicts, or mentally ill…

Little Boxes (#569)

A 46-year-old…from Charleston, South Carolina was arrested…after allegedly assaulting two women who pose painted and topless for tips in Times Square…Mark Walters took a picture with…20-year-old [Lourdes Carrasquillo]…then “became irate,” and “dragged” the woman to the ground by her hair. When…32-year-old [Maria Ruiz] attempted to break up the “fight,” Walters allegedly hit her in the right ear…Walters accused Carrasquillo of stealing his wallet before assaulting her, although cops have found no evidence to support this claim…in an unrelated incident, undercover officers arrested a desnuda [named Destiny Romero] after she allegedly agreed to perform oral sex on an undercover officer for money…

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The criminalization of sex work is based in nothing more than petty moral outrage.  – Chris Sosa

RentboyWhile sex workers were  celebrating the growing recognition among decent people that sex work prohibition is nothing less than the violent suppression of consensual sexual behavior, the most rabidly-prohibitionist government on the planet was scheming to prove the pro-decriminalization forces correct by unleashing yet another act of violence against peaceful businesspeople.  Like Escorts.com and MyRedbook before it, the venerable gay escort site Rentboy was raided by federal officials anxious to put on a good show:

Federal agents raided the Manhattan headquarters of Rentboy.com as part of a money laundering and state prostitution investigation Tuesday…Seven people, including CEO Jeffrey Hurant, were arrested…Department of Homeland Security agents and members of the NYPD, which assisted in the raid, were seen removing boxes from the offices…More than $1.4 million from six bank accounts was seized in connection with the probe…the government said it was taking steps to shut down the website…”Rentboy.com attempted to present a veneer of legality, when in fact this Internet brothel made millions of dollars from the promotion of illegal prostitution,” Acting U.S. Attorney…Kelly Currie [bloviated]…

As it later turned out, the raid was not justified under the typical excuse of “money laundering”, but rather under a different infinitely-elastic federal “crime” statute, the Travel Act of 1961:

…the Travel Act makes it a federal crime to use the mail or interstate or international travel or communications for the purposes of engaging in certain illegal acts or for distributing the proceeds of certain illegal acts.  The list of illegal acts covered by the law includes crimes like gambling, prostitution, drug trafficking, extortion, bribery, and arson.  This is not a complete list…these…acts don’t have to be federal crimes to be covered by the Travel Act.  They can be violations of the laws of the state where the crime took place…Rentboy.com allegedly violated New York’s laws against prostitution, but the U.S. Attorney’s Office…is arguing that Rentboy.com facilitated and promoted prostitution crimes across state and international borders…

Though by the timing it may seem that this was intended in retaliation for Amnesty International’s call for decriminalization (which essentially reveals the US as among the world’s most oppressive regimes as far as sexual freedom is concerned), or in reaction to the Ashley Madison debacle, in actuality the feds can’t do anything that quickly; this has been planned for months.  The usual “sex trafficking” rhetoric used to cram these pogroms down the credulous public gullet was notably (and tellingly) absent here; it was all talk of sin crime and chastisement prosecution rather than “rescue” and “exploitation”.  Because while women are delicate, chaste little fluffy-bunnies who could never ever ever conceive of a pragmatic motivation for sex, men are perverted abusers who are never more than an errant thought away from criminality (unless they’re government actors, of course, in which case they’re totally incapable of evil).  But all snark aside, the government actually had very compelling reasons for the raid…1.4 million reasons, to be exact.

In the long run, though, it may prove very expensive for the prohibitionists.  As I’ve complained on a number of occasions, mainstream gay rights organizations seem unconcerned at best and hostile at worst to sex worker rights, despite the fact that members of the GLBT community are disproportionately represented among both sex workers and clients (many closeted gay men rely almost entirely on escorts for male contact).  Gay, Inc has obsessively pushed its white-picket-fence married-couple big-table fantasies to the exclusion of the majority of queers who will never want lifelong committed monogamy, despite the fact that the entire gay rights movement owes its origin to sex workers.  But special-interest groups don’t simply disband once they’ve achieved their original goals; indeed, they actively seek out new goals so as to justify their continued existence.  Now that picket-fence queers have every conceivable right their straight vanilla counterparts enjoy, Big Gay will need a new campaign to pursue…and the feds may have just provided it.  The personal information of thousands of closeted gay men is now in the hands of evil monsters who view human beings only as points to be racked up, and if that’s not a gay rights issue I’m not sure what is; even the hopelessly-square Advocate reported on Lamba Legal’s pro-decriminalization stance (though its headline idiotically asked, “Decriminalize sex work?” as if they didn’t quite get it).  When the victims are women, most Americans seem content to swallow the patronizing & agency-negating “rescuing trafficked girls” narrative, but since the victims are men this time journalists seem to have suddenly awakened en masse.  The Huffington Post‘s reporting on the issue is typical of what I’ve seen since Tuesday:

The site has operated within public view for many years. This is not a secretive, dark web enterprise hidden from the public eye.  It’s a popular online destination that allows escorts to set their own rules and rates.  RentBoy’s platform gives its escorts a degree of agency that sex workers forced to walk the street or be managed by a pimp simply do not have…The Department of Homeland Security…took millions of dollars and ripped six employees from their homes.  While these employees face huge financial and reputational damage, thousands of sex workers who rely on RentBoy as a safe place to conduct business could find themselves in genuine danger…The United States has a responsibility to reform its outdated and violent laws around sex work.  RentBoy’s high-profile raid should make us think about all the quiet acts of violence committed by our government against sex workers…We supposed-progressives chant about bodily autonomy and criticize the American Right for denigrating women, but we participate in the same denigration when we shame sex workers who conscientiously exercise authority over their bodies…

There’s nothing in that excerpt that doesn’t also apply to female sex workers and our advertising venues, but without the “sex trafficking” smoke and mirrors many of these writers appear to be recognizing it for the first time.  Though I have the deepest sympathy for everyone who will be hurt by this monstrous injustice, it may be that the Rentboy raid was the biggest blunder the prohibitionists ever made; if it attracts the big Gay guns and makes sex worker rights “safe” for ordinary people to talk about again, decriminalization is already on the way.

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I want to start escorting as an independent… but as you know, it can be hard to get the ball rolling if you’re new in the industry.  Should I advertise myself on TER boards as a new escort?  I’m worried that advertising myself as “new” will attract who will want to take advantage of my lack of experience.  Also, I saw another post on your blog where a certain escort preferred not to have any reviews.  If an escort chooses to go down that route, what other types of verification are available to show clients you are reliable and trustworthy?

Frankly, I wouldn’t advise you to advertise on TER at all; I never have, don’t now and never plan to.  The site is just vile; it’s the apotheosis of the “bros before hos” mentality, and its rating system is insultingly reductive.  There are plenty of other sites you can advertise on without supporting that model of review board.  I don’t think it will hurt you to advertise as new, but I don’t really think it’s necessary either; it will be obvious that you’re new because of your lack of reviews and the fact that none of the “hobbyists” have seen you before.  That in itself can be a draw, especially if you’re young and your prices are competitive; yes, you may attract some exploitative types, but since you know that may happen you’ll just have to keep your wits about you and firmly maintain your boundaries until you’re experienced enough to judge each client on a case-by-case basis.  Re lack of reviews, there is no substitute for reputation; you will not yet have one to start, and that will hurt.  Even without reviews you’ll slowly build up a client base and a reputation, but it may take longer in their absence.  It may be better for you to research the boards with a more positive culture than to eschew reviews entirely, but in the end you’ll have to make that decision for yourself.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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How do I know what is a reputable agency in my area?  I’m interested in being a high-end courtesan.

blackIt’s always been difficult to know which agencies are reputable & which aren’t unless one talks to other pros who have worked for them, and that’s just as true now as it ever was.  However, agencies are no longer king as they were for decades; I advise ladies who are starting out now to go independent.  But whether you work for an agency or for yourself, you probably can’t start out at the “high end” nowadays; most men simply won’t pay that much for someone with no reputation.  What you need to do is to create an escort site for yourself (or pay for it to be done for you) with the best professional pictures you can afford, then look at the other escort ads in your area and try to objectively consider what you should charge in relation to them (HINT: it shouldn’t be more, and a hair less might help you to break into the market).  Lest that offend your pride, consider that since I’ve recently entered a new market, I can’t charge any more than most of the other ladies here despite my reputation (and I actually charge less than some).  As you develop a good name, you can slowly raise your rates and judge how it affects your business; most ladies (myself included) keep regulars at the same rate even when we raise it for new guys.  Eventually you’ll find the price point that works best for you.  But before you even start, I’d suggest you read my other mentoring columns; there are a number of things you don’t seem to be considering (such as screening), and those may help you decide if this is really the profession for you.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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Though sex workers usually have stage names which are different from those our mothers gave us (or burdened us with, as the case may be), those of us who are activists often have another name.  Ayna is a Seattle sex worker, but that’s not the name on her advertising; you’ll see why when you read this essay.  It struck me as timely given that when I reminded readers of my bisexuality by announcing my lesbian relationship with Jae, at least one reader felt repelled enough to voice his disapproval; I’m sure there are clients who would react in much the same way.

I have a good twin.  Although we are not related we are similar enough in style, looks and interest that people often get us confused.  We are both writers who are short, curvy, bespectacled, curly-haired, queer gamer girls who laugh out loud and spill beer everywhere.  I want her hair; not in some weird hirsute Freudian way, but in a lusty “Rebel Girl” way.
I envy and covet her side shave immensely; side shaves in Seattle are code for queerness.  I become sexually aware in a repressed state adjacent to Washington, so my nascent entrances into queer culture were formed with hidden meanings and slow looks.  My brain goes into Sherlock mode when checking women out – key ring check, side shave check, reusable tote from co-op check – Code Level Purple – flirt is a go.  I still tend to to seek out queer symbols and codes in order to safety flirt with other women, and I envy her side shave because I have long, healthy, flowing, dark, curly hair.  I want her side shave so when I go into the queer spaces which have been my home for so long, I feel like I belong.

I envy my friend’s side shave because she has a job were it is okay to be openly queer, and even though I love doing sex work, it is one of the last places a female-identified person cannot be openly queer.  I still have to pass as a non-queer person to the majority of my white, male, mid-40s customer base; I can’t freak out the normal majority.  Plus, men love my hair; they caress it, run their fingers through it, seek me out because of it.  I give good hair.  We are socially groomed to believe that long hair is the same thing as feminine, and in the type of sex work I do (mid tier escort), the equation is feminine = attractive = money.  A non-sex worker has more freedom in doing what she wants with her body in the world place whereas sex workers do not.  A sex worker’s image, in order to gain the most money from the most clients, must be built, maintained and curated for the gratification of the normative male gaze; if I were to change my hair to a “queer” style (such as a side shave) I would lose money, since I would lose the male gaze.  I would be seen as a “feminist” (heaven forbid), not the (semi) complacent sex bunny that the majority of my clients open their wallets for.

Girl Sex 101I often ask for two hours notice before seeing visitors to my place; I let people believe this is so I can get ready.  But since I wear very little makeup and routinely clean my house, the “getting ready” part takes thirty minutes; what takes the rest of the time is what I call the “Queer Roundup”.  Allison Moon’s Girl Sex 101 quickly hid under the couch, flyers from Insert Coin (a fabulous queer dance party), tossed in the kitchen drawer, “Fuck Your Patriarchal Bullshit” pillow thrown in the closet.  I have to literally “straighten” my place up.  If my queerness is seen, my femininity/straightness is called into question; the idea that a femme presenting person can be queer is a bit beyond the scope of most people.  If there is any question that I am enjoying myself or am off the center mark for bisexual providers (bi enough to do duos for male pleasure, but not enough to actually seek women out), then not only is my sexuality under scrutiny, my business ethics are as well.  This scrutiny comes into play via social mores built by hobby boards/escort review boards.

Escort review boards prize the idea of the “authentic” GFE (Girl Friend Experience); there is a constant conversation/argument about who and what is or isn’t.  Rumors abound of lesbian sex workers and how awful they are by lying to men for money; they are bogeyman stories to scare sex workers into behaving in an acceptable manner.  Men like to believe that sex workers are all natural nymphs and would fuck them regardless of money; this frees them from class guilt, the stigma of paying for sex and other emotions that might accompany seeing a sex worker.  And this happy lie is fed to them in sex worker ad content, promotion and branding.  They believe in this lie so intensely that it becomes cultural truth.  While we accept that sex workers exist outside of cultural norms, they can not exist outside of client-created normative ideals; if I have a client over to my house and it is is covered in rainbow stickers and Queer Liberation posters, and Feeldoes are drying in the dish drain, this happy lie becomes an ugly truth.  And if there’s one thing that the majority of “hobbyists” don’t like, it’s the truth.

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