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Posts Tagged ‘ethics’

Last Friday, Dan Savage tweeted a question he’d received to get the opinion of several sex workers, namely Mistress Matisse, Mike Crawford and me (plus anyone else who cared to chime in).  The question itself is interesting, and I found it fascinating how much the answers diverged.  So although Dan already published the question and answers on his Stranger blog, I’d also like to feature it here:

man courting womanI’d appreciate your thoughts on a matter of sex worker etiquette and social boundaries.  Someone I’d describe as an acquaintance/casual friend recently let me know that she is working as an escort.  I’ve known her for a few years, and have always been more than a little attracted to her.  We dated very briefly when we first met and have had an intermittent friendship in the years since.  We’re close enough to talk about subjects like sex work and our mutually non-judgmental attitudes toward it, though this is someone I bump into fairly rarely—maybe a couple of times a year.  If there’s an appropriate and respectful way to bring up that I’d be interested in her professional services, I’d love to do it in the right way.  Or would you advise me to leave this alone?  We’re well enough acquainted that I could broach the subject in an in-person conversation or by text (as opposed to, say, booking an appointment anonymously and saying “Surprise! Remember me?”).  Any thoughts?  –  Friend In Favor Of Compensating For Benefits

My answer:  It’s a delicate one. If they had never dated I’d say it was pretty straightforward. But as it is she could conceivably feel awkward. My advice: He should tell her he’d like to see an escort and ask if she has any recommendations. Then IF she’s comfortable, she can volunteer her own services, and if not he’ll get a very good recommendation to another.

Matisse:  I personally do not accept people as clients if I’ve been friends with them socially. But that is partly because I’m a dominatrix and some fantasies and D/s rely on a certain level of mystery and distance. Definitely via email, NOT in person. Tell her it’s cool if she doesn’t feel comfortable. And accept it will change things.

Mike Crawford:  “How’s business? Are you taking new clients? Would you be open to seeing me professionally?” Best approach I can think of. As mentioned, the prior relationship could make it awkward. As any client should, if she declines to see him, FIFOCFB should accept that graciously.

Lara Belle:  I would choose one of the zillion other SWs where boundaries are not an issue. The question can be broached: “Are you open to seeing clients who are part of your personal life,” etc., but don’t even go there at all if he expects her to keep it a secret and have a whole range of new pressures forced upon her with her other friends/acquaintances.

Conner Habib:  Yes, he definitely has the right to ask! But I want him to ask himself why he’s asking, too! I’d ask: Out of all the escorts in the world you can hire, you chose one whose boundaries may be problematic for you and would need negotiation. What does that tell you about yourself? Self-investigate & move on.

Rosemary Lashes:  I had a friend ask this of me when I came out and frankly I find it insulting. For me, I want compartmentalization. I do not mix business/clients w friends. It complicates too much, and $ creates power dynamics regardless of intention.

Ava Grace:  Definitely don’t surprise her with a booking without notice. But considering the history of the friendship you can always ask the question. If she’s not ok with it she will say no. And you need to be prepared for and ok with accepting that no if it comes. Good luck.

Daddy’s Princess:  It would be awkward to see him professionally & maintain a friendship.

Melodie Nelson:  Sex -paid for or not-can change relationships. But he should ask simply. No more stigma 1 day.

Sensual Muse:  IMO no on this-personal life is sep from work: 2 mix risks never having down time.  it’s personal I think…just my boundary pref. no clients in personal spaces

Mandy Mitchell:  every SW is different but to me the “used to date” part gets a little dicey, there are plenty of other pros to seek, always

Sophie Darling:  I NEVER EVER mix business into my personal life. Just my MO though…

Buttercream Bombshell:  My view is to face to face express interest politely and let her decide.

Violet Baudelaire:  IF she says yes, he needs to realize that all her normal work rules still apply, even though they know each other.

There were also a good number of conversations on the topic; Matisse especially had some good discussions with a number of the respondents, as you can see by following the links.  It just goes to show you:  everyone’s different, and on matters of sex work etiquette there’s sometimes no one “correct” answer.

(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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Madison Graham is the pseudonym of a sex worker who was working for one of Dennis Hof’s brothels in Nevada; she recently contacted me because of her deep distress over an immense ethical violation Hof committed in the full view of the entire world last autumn.  Here in her own words (edited only for style and brevity) is what she told me.

Dennis Hof, self-promoting buffoonDennis Hof courts the media and has specialized in hijacking news; he takes current relevant stories that have nothing to do with him and finds a way to insert himself into the story.  For example, when Hillary Clinton announced she was running for president, suddenly the Bunny Ranch issued a press release about their working ladies forming a “Hookers 4 Hillary” campaign, a maneuver I am certain did not impress Mrs. Clinton.  When hackers released the names of millions of Ashley Madison members, Hof boasted, “Ashley Madison hacking victims’ privacy would’ve been safe with my prostitutes.”  Hof then launched a media tour to every Morning Zoo style radio show that would have him, focusing on how Ashley Madison should have taken the BunnyRanch’s approach to client privacy and not stored anyone’s information.  He often bragged that “If those guys who are about to have their lives ruined had been meeting beautiful women on BunnyRanch.com instead, their identities would’ve remained completely anonymous…”

No one had reason to question the BunnyRanch’s privacy policy until basketball player Lamar Odom was picked up by an ambulance from Hof’s southern Nevada brothel, Love Ranch Vegas, after being found unconscious in the VIP suite where he’d been staying.  Within minutes, TMZ had the scoop on their website, utterly destroying Lamar’s career; he will never receive another endorsement deal again, and the various children’s charities he has been involved with will distance themselves.  But Hof fed off of Odom’s crisis and milked it as hard as he could, so that he could get his face on TV as much as possible to say “LoveRanch” in front of millions of viewers.  Hof displayed absolutely no empathy, no awareness and certainly no consistency; he contradicted himself in just about every media op he got.  First Lamar didn’t have drugs when he came in, then Hof fired the two girls who were with Lamar because he feared they gave him drugs, then a 180 degree turn to claiming there were no drugs at the Love Ranch.  Well, the truth is I have never seen so many drugs and drug-addicts in my life until I started working in legal brothels; hardly a week goes by without an incident of a lady getting too drunk to work, or the management discovering drug paraphernalia in a lady’s room.  If the lady makes good money, her problem is largely ignored; once she becomes too impaired to make money, she is quickly packed out and told to get herself into a treatment program.  One top earner at the Bunny Ranch was caught over and over with drugs in her room and giving drugs to other girls; eventually cops pulled her over and found drugs in her car and now she is in prison, but when she is released I guarantee she will be returning to the ranch:  She makes a lot of money and America’s Biggest Pimp wants his 50%.

The careless way Lamar’s personal information got out is disturbing because it reaches far beyond surface titillation.  Lamar Odom will never get another endorsement deal ever again – a multi-million dollar loss.  The revelation was a violation of the Hooker Code that is understood by most sex workers:  loose lips sink ships, so you keep your mouth closed.  That is the real reason we make so much money:  it’s for remaining quiet.  But Emperor Hof just couldn’t keep his mouth shut, and now he’s in denial about the severity of repercussions he and his empire are about to incur.  Hof is a defense lawyer’s worst nightmare; he appears to think he is in one big never-ending infomercial for his corporate brothels.  For example, once the Odom news veered away from the brothel and began to focus on the human-interest element, Hof blurted out that if Odom’s wife, Khloe Kardashian, contests the credit card charge, he will sue her because she “has the money”.  What kind of human-being would make such a statement to a grieving wife?  Whether you like her or not, she is clearly suffering and being as supportive as possible to her husband, but all Hof can think about is $ signs and publicity.  Hof is like that semi-lucid grandfather who blurts out the most ridiculous and offensive rubbish and you just sit there in shock, mute with embarrassment for him.

After this, I can’t imagine anyone with real money would walk into one of his establishments; they know they can’t trust Hof’s nonexistent discretion.  And what if Odom, Kardashian or whoever sues the brothel over this?  The suits and reputational damage could destroy all that Hof has created, and this is a shame because whether you may think of Hof’s character, he knows how to run his brothels.  He knows how to train his girls to make money, and to provide a level of service that keeps the clients coming back; the working conditions in his brothels are also better than those in any of his competitors’.  The biggest threat to Hof’s brothels comes from Hof himself, the self-proclaimed “Pimpmaster General”.  Rather than recognizing the danger posed by the Odom situation, Hof truly believes this is the best thing ever to happen to the Love Ranch Vegas (in spite of the onslaught of death threats the employees receive on the phone daily); he thinks this will triple his business.  But the locals are getting restless.  You can sit at a restaurant or saloon and hear the people saying things like “When are they going to close Hof down?”  Public officials are elected and if they don’t give the locals what they want, they won’t be re-elected.  Lamar Odom’s overdose at the Love Ranch Vegas could result in the closure of one or more of Hof’s brothels, and trouble for the entire industry.

Love Ranch signBrothels are an ideal place for men who have been going through a divorce, or breakup, who need to have their ego-stroked a little, feel desirable again.  I consider myself a sexual healer offering a public service.  If a man has a need for sexual intimacy, and he isn’t able to get that from his wife, he has this safe, legal outlet for his needs and when he leaves, nothing follows him home.  He is truly anonymous and there will be no negative consequences from his visit.  A big part of my sales pitch to potential customers during the negotiation was about how his family and friends won’t ever find out…but how can I possibly offer that guarantee now, after Hof blasted one of his guests’ name and secrets all over the media?  I have always said that I wouldn’t work for any other brothel owner, and I still feel that way; as bad as Hof is, he is much better to his employees than the other owners are.  However, I don’t think I can remain working for a man who would do the things he has done.  I may take my chances and go back to working independently and screening out the cops and the creeps.  Or I may return to the work I did before I became an escort, which I left because I burned out.  But that’s fine for me; what about the people who can’t just move over to escorting, such as the cashiers, bartenders and housekeepers?  What about the money Hof’s businesses bring in to an area that isn’t exactly overflowing with other industries?  If Hof continues to destroy the reputation of his businesses in his constant pursuit of publicity and self-aggrandizement, he’s going to hurt a lot of people beside himself and those whose secrets he betrayed.

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Ordinary Men

Not long ago you linked to a piece about what sex workers want from their clients, and I was deeply depressed by it because of the very low bar for client behavior that it seemed to set.  I cannot imagine showing up dirty, nor behaving meanly unless I were greatly provoked.  Is that so terribly unusual?  What is the percentage of clients who are honest and courteous men?  I grew up as a “local” in a coastal resort community, surrounded by wealthy retirees and summer vacationers, and spent several years in retail there.  Some of these people were outright asses, some were oblivious or self-absorbed, and some were kind and interesting people.  Is it really as simple as that?  To some extent, is all service work the same?cartoon guy

In a word, yes.  The clients of sex workers are neither paragons of humanity nor the cartoon villains imagined by prohibitionists; they’re just ordinary men.  I would say that the fraction of them who are really awful is extremely small; the majority are polite and honest, and anything they do to offend is mostly unintentional (born of social awkwardness, poor habits or a bad sense of sexual boundaries and/or practices).  That having been said, it’s a well-known observation that the less a guy pays, the more he wants; girls who charge less probably see a lot more misbehavior than those at a higher price point.  I don’t think that has anything to do with wealthier people having more “class”; you and I both know that rich people are very often boorish, rude and unpleasant, and poor people are very often polite and gracious.  No, I think it has more to do with the fact that the more people pay for things (and that includes experiences), the more they value them; nearly every whore I know has remarked that men who pay here usually treat her much better than those she dated for “free” before starting her career.  Furthermore, I’ve noticed that as I’ve aged, the clients have become much more polite and respectful; part of that may be that older men are on average more mature and better understand how to treat a woman, and part may be that my own presence has developed to the point where it silently demands more respect.  Nobody’s ever done a survey, but I suspect that younger sex workers, inexperienced ones and those who charge less see a lot more misbehavior from clients than older ones, those who charge more and those who have the self-assurance that comes with years of experience.

(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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Amateur Night

I’m a 33 year old man who was the victim of more than 20 years of physical, emotional and non-penetrative sexual abuse; as you might imagine this has impacted my sexuality in pretty negative ways.  But thanks to more than a decade of therapy, I believe that I have put the most of the worst behind me and I would like to lose my virginity.  I respect prostitutes a great deal, but there’s a part of me that doesn’t want that as my first experience.  I could go out and get a girlfriend (I’m actually quite comfortable with women), or I could attempt to have a one-night stand, though I don’t know the first thing about doing that.  I could go back into more therapy, but at this point I’m leaning towards doing the deed itself being the best form of that.  I would appreciate any assistance you might possibly render with your wisdom and experience in this field.Amateur Night

There’s nothing wrong with taking the slow, socially-approved route of getting a girlfriend and losing your virginity to her, provided you

A) aren’t in a rush;

B) are reasonably sure you won’t have any extreme reactions if she accidentally does something that triggers a traumatic memory; and

C) don’t really care about the quality of the sexual performance itself.

If, however, you feel a sense of urgency about this, like you “need” to lose your virginity right away, it’s probably much better to get a professional.  With a pro you can control the time and pacing; it will happen when YOU are ready, not when an amateur decides she’s ready.  And while navigating the dance of consent and the give-and-take of a romantic relationship is probably something you should learn at some point in the future, learning it right now, at a time when you aren’t yet sure you’re completely over your trauma yet, might be more than you can handle.  Furthermore, I’m a little uncomfortable with the way you say, “go out and get a girlfriend”, like “go and get takeout food”.  It makes it sound like you plan to use her to lose your virginity, and then…what?  What if you have a traumatic reaction, as I touched on above?  What if you get really needily-attached to her, or have a bad experience and reject her?  While those are things an adult woman should be able to handle, it’s just not ethical to dump your garbage in someone else’s yard without her permission, and frankly, most amateurs really have no idea what they’re doing when it comes to dealing with any sexuality more complicated than the typical vanilla “love” or lust-based interaction (which is why their STI rates are so damned high).  To me it’s a lot more honest, ethical and sensible for you to pay a seasoned professional (choose one who has a long internet history and a reputation for patience) for a multi-hour session, take her to dinner, get to feel comfortable and tell her about your issues so she can be ready.  Once you’ve got that troublesome first time out of the way, you can decide how you want to proceed in the future.  But given that most amateurs are barely even competent to give an untraumatized person a decent first time, I think your reticence runs counter to your best interests.  At one time it was quite normal for young men to have their first experiences with a whore; the modern preoccupation with amateur initiations is based in foolish romanticism, not good sense and a sober analysis of what would provide the best results.

(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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What do you think makes for a healthy sexuality?  I’m a 26 year old professional and have a much higher libido than most other people I know.  I’ve had many partners who have been satisfying to me in many different ways, but I have often felt baffled by my intense level of sexual pleasure and excitement.  I’m not afraid of my sexuality, but how does one go about understanding something so powerful?  Does it require study?  A good partner?  Much of the time I feel that my sexuality is offensive to some people, particularly other women.  How do you deal with jealousy from other women?  Do you feel that it is important for a young woman to control her sexuality in some way?

First of all, I want you to understand that there is absolutely nothing wrong with you; in fact, many women are troubled by having the opposite issue from you, a low sex drive  (and pharmaceutical companies are trying to capitalize on that).  I hope you never feel that you need to suppress your sexuality, especially not to make other people comfortable; it’s a large part of who you are, and if other people are bothered by it that’s their problem, not yours.  Now, obviously I’m not telling you to run wild and do whatever you feel like regardless of consequences; as ethical people we need to be aware of how our actions might harm others, and we need to respect others’ boundaries and to be up-front about our motives and intentions so they have the information they need to make valid decisions about consent.  But as long as you are honest and open with potential partners about your intentions, desires and needs, and refrain from pushing clearly-expressed boundaries, you have absolutely no cause to feel ashamed.

Now, it’s true that some other women may react to you with jealousy or competitiveness, but in my experience that usually happens when an attractive woman only pays attention to the men in the room.  I’ve found such reactions can usually be minimized by friendliness, openness and paying just as much attention to the women around you as to the men, thus counteracting the perception that one is trying to be a “queen bee” and monopolize all of the male attention.  Now, I have the advantage of being bisexual, and therefore at least as interested in female sexual attention as male (and maybe just a little bit more).  You didn’t mention whether your sexual interest is confined to men, but even if it is being friendly and platonically affectionate with the women in your social environment will go a long way toward defusing jealousy.  Some people are going to be judgmental of you no matter what you do, but I’m afraid there isn’t much you can do about that, and it would be the same even if you were as prim as a nun; as the expression goes, “Haters gonna hate”.

I wish I could tell you how to go about understanding your sexuality; I’ve been wrestling with trying to understand mine since more than a decade before you were born, and I still haven’t made a lot of headway.  I think sexuality is less something to be understood, and more something to be experienced, explored and accepted.  We still don’t really understand why people’s sexualities manifest in the myriad ways they do; for example, I’ve been attracted to both sexes and fascinated by bondage, dominance and submission since I was a wee lass, long before I had any actual idea of what “sex” meant.  Why?  I never experienced any kind of childhood trauma that might have “perverted” my development, and I can’t recall a time I was any other way.  In high school, I knew a pair of identical twin brothers: one was straight and the other gay.  How in the world could that happen, when they were genetically identical and raised in the same home?  Yet it did.  My advice to you is to accept your sexuality as an intrinsic part of yourself, just as you accept your preferences in food, clothes, entertainment and everything else.  Don’t let anyone tell you that a high libido, a large number of partners and/or enjoyment of kinky activities are signs that something is wrong with you, and whatever you do don’t succumb to pressure to conform.  The intense level of pleasure you can experience is a precious gift, and when one is given such a gift the only gracious and proper reaction is to accept and enjoy it.queenkatherinesdream

(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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If you criminalise buying sex, the prostitute knows she becomes the evidence.  –  Brooke Magnanti

Whore Madonnas

South Africa is another country with awesome sex worker activists:

Mothers for the Future is an initiative of the Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT).  It provides support groups, outreach and home visits.  Mothers discuss difficulties such as domestic violence, child grants, and the challenges that they face when their children are targeted as a result of their mother’s work.  Duduzile Dlamini, the programme coordinator, says that some mothers even have their children taken away from them by social services and that their children, like their mothers, are criminalised…Porcia, who is a member of Mothers for the Future, has two children and…makes donations to the church from the money that she earns as a sex worker.  Sometimes she is arrested on a Friday night and kept at the police station for the whole weekend.  Her children are then at home alone and without any food…

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Guys, please do your research, and let the pigs hunt each other:

Dayton Police arrested ten men for solicitation….[including] Todd Pultz of the North Hampton Police Department…“if you are sworn to uphold the law the last thing you want to do is break it, especially in this fashion” [oinked a spokespig]…“These women have sex hundreds of times–that’s hundreds of men that could be infected and take it back to their family”…

“Especially in this fashion”, as opposed to acceptable crimes like robbery, rape, mayhem and murder.

Droit du Seigneur 

Sometimes “authorities” prefer to rape vulnerable men instead:

An East Arkansas judge accused of trading sex with defendants in exchange for reduced sentences is resigning after…sexually explicit photos [were] recovered from his computer…District Judge Joe Boeckmann was…accused of having sex with defendants…[and] demanding [they] take sexually explicit photos…the photos also depicted evidence the young men had been paddled and…the judge…was instructed not to destroy the paddle depicted in the photos…investigators believe…the judge’s sexual misconduct extended to more than 30 years ago to his time as a deputy prosecuting attorney…in…one scenario…Boeckmann took [a young man] to the courthouse after hours, forced him to strip inside the district courtroom, put him in handcuffs and took naked pictures of him in the courtroom.  The man said Boeckmann paid him $50 and told him “case dismissed” at the conclusion of the photo shoot…

See No Evil

All censorship seems this futile and ridiculous to me:

…New regulations mean that live-streaming sites must monitor all their output round-the-clock to ensure nothing untoward is going on, keeping an eye out for any “erotic” banana-eating…wearing stockings and suspenders while hosting a live stream is now also forbidden.  The move is the authorities’ latest attempt to clamp down on “inappropriate and erotic” online content…that “harms social morality”…such sites are attracting more and more users in China…News of the banana ban has prompted thousands of users to chime in on Chinese social media…”How do they decide what’s provocative when eating a banana?”…”Can male live-streamers still eat them?”…”They will all start eating cucumbers, and if that’s no good, yams”…

Above the Law  

Anyone who actually believes that a rape is worse if a cop commits it “in uniform”, “on duty” or “on police property” is part of the problem:  “A [Newark, New Jersey cop] was charged with sexually assaulting a woman on police property…Kenneth Gaulette…[raped] the…woman…Nov. 29, 2015…”  And that problem is far more extensive than “authorities” want you to know:

The young victim of a [rapist cop]…in Kern County, California, has settled a civil lawsuit for $1m, marking the second violent misconduct case the beleaguered sheriff’s office has settled in just five days…a Guardian investigation…identified law enforcement in the county as the deadliest in the US and revealed a program of attempted cash payoffs to vulnerable women who had been [raped] by Kern County deputies…Gabriel Lopez in March 2013…forced the young woman to strip naked…and then [raped] her [mere hours after arresting her] boyfriend at the same house…another…young woman Lopez was convicted of [raping] accepted a cash payment of $5,000 from the sheriff’s office…

Hall of Shame

Outing a famous non-prohibitionist client just to make money?  Instant ticket to my Hall of Shame:

While the debate over the UK gagging order preventing publication of the identity of an A-list actor who allegedly slept with an escort continues, Sydney-based sex worker Amanda Goff said…Helen Wood, the prostitute who claims she was paid $380 for sexual services with the British thespian, “committed the number one crime…An escort never talks about names…It has ruined someone’s life…The details she gave to the press about what they did in bed is appalling.  Why would she do that?  How can she sleep at night?”…

The Schizoid State

If a woman under 18 chooses to be a whore she’s automatically a victim because she’s a “child”, but if she helps someone else to do it she’s a “criminal” because she’s old enough to know better.  Yet she still can’t be named because she’s a “child”. Got that?

Toronto police say they have charged a 17-year-old girl after a 16-year-old girl was forced into the sex trade last year.  [Cops] allege the suspect…introduced the victim to two men, who told her she could make a lot of money working for them…Police allege the victim was “controlled through intimidation and threats,” and forced to work in the sex trade.  The 17-year-old suspect allegedly took photos of the victim in various states of undress and posted them on backpage.com…She cannot be identified per the terms of the Youth Criminal Justice Act…

The Widening Gyre

Fact: woman with drug problem goes missing.  Conclusion: sex trafficking!

For the last six months, Michael Fusaro, 33, has repeatedly traversed a shadowy criminal underworld, all in the hopes of finding his 27-year-old sister, Jamie Nastali…Fusaro was convinced his sister…was being held by human traffickers based on one of the last conversations he had with her late last year.  Nastali, who Fusaro acknowledges has a drug problem, called him with a cloak-and-dagger story of being kidnapped and taken to San Diego…[on May 7th] his sister…was [arrested and jailed]…for drug and identity theft charges…Fusaro said he believes there may also be a prostitution charge…[but] no prostitution offense shows up on her booking record…[prohibitionist] Dianne Amato…said…“One of the biggest misconceptions is that women who are 24, 25, 26 years old are adults”…

Obviously the belief that adult women are not adults is “feminist”.

Sexual Predators (#449)

Police chief decides to destroy a few lives to give bored cops some fun:

…Terre Haute [Indiana] Police…Chief Ed Tompkins…[used a] sting…[to arrest five people as] “a way to give the detectives something different to do other than work property crimes, arsons and burglaries”…The objective of Operation Back Page to Front Page was…to…make an arrest.  Detecting human trafficking was also a goal…

Repeat Offenders (#563) bra drive

Why do prohibitionists who want to “rescue” sex workers invariably push them into menial garment-related work?

University of Georgia students…Emily Wilhoit…and Joshua Dunn…to support their first annual bra drive for Free The Girls.  The…drive…brought in 1,239 bras…Free The Girls is a nonprofit organization based out of Denver, whose mission is to “provide jobs to survivors of sex trafficking in developing countries by helping them set up micro enterprises selling bras”…

What Were You All Waiting For? 

This would’ve been better without her moral signalling at the beginning, but still:

The rationale for making prostitution illegal while protecting the filming and selling of pornography as protected speech under the First Amendment eludes me.  Morally I’m opposed to both, but criminalizing one and not the other hurts people more than it helps and lacks intellectual cohesion.  But who cares what I think?  The question is, what do the candidates think?  While Americans have been fixated on the surreal primary contests between Republican and Democratic gladiators, a huge international movement has been heating up that touches upon the lives of millions and millions of people and involves billions and billions of dollars…Next month the board of Amnesty International is slated to approve its final policy in support of the full decriminalization of consensual sex work…And Amnesty is not alone; other groups, including the World Health Organization, Human Rights Watch and the Open Society Foundation, are on board…

Eternal Vigilance (#587)

Decriminalization in New South Wales is safe for now:

The Baird government has rejected a call to more strictly regulate brothels through licensing and a specialist police unit, arguing it would recriminalise prostitution and put the health of sex workers at risk…A government response…rejects the inquiry’s call for a special police unit, similar to that which exists in Victoria, to be created to ensure brothels are licensed, comply with planning laws and don’t have foreign nationals working in violation of their visas.  The licensing of brothel managers has also been rejected on the advice of NSW Health.  Minister for Better Regulation, Victor Dominello, said: “Introducing a licensing regime for brothels may drive more operators underground, which could adversely affect the health and protection of sex workers. The evidence from other jurisdictions is that licensing simply doesn’t work”…

The Course of a Disease (#606) 

My friend Brooke Magnanti schools politicians on their latest attempt to persecute adults for wanting sex:

The criminalisation of payment for sex would dissuade sex workers from reporting violence against them, Brooke Magnanti…has told a group of MPs…looking into the way prostitution is dealt with in legislation…Magnanti appeared alongside Paris Lees, a journalist and equality campaigner who has also previously been a sex worker.  Both were critical of the witnesses the select committee had called to question as part of the inquiry. “Of the four sex workers you’ve spoken [to] face to face, three of us aren’t doing it any more…Who are the people who should have been asked here instead of us?  People from the Sex Worker Open University, people from the English Collective of Prostitutes, current sex workers.  They weren’t asked because me and Paris come with great media platforms, we bring attention, so you can tick a box and say we spoke to some ex-sex workers”…Both witnesses…warned against trusting reduced crime statistics from countries such as Sweden and Northern Ireland…“Part of the problem with statistics being currently produced by Sweden is they don’t have statistics [from] before the law came into place,” Magnanti said…“When you look at the countries most affected by trafficking such as India, Cambodia, which also have very strong sex worker-led organisations, the percentage of people who are actively trafficked are comfortably under 5%”…

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China Nympho CreamWould you write something for me?

No.

You wrote something for So-and-So!

So-and-So is a personal friend of mine, and I rarely say no to friends.

Will you do it if I pay you?

Sure, as long as it’s on a topic I care about or think is important.

What if I want you to say a specific thing?

You mean like writing you an ad?  If I were any good at that, I’d make a lot more money than I do.

Well, could I write a guest post and pay you to publish it?

Don’t even go there.

But you have guest posts every month!

Yeah, from people I invite; they’re guests, not infomercials.

Well, some of your guests are definitely selling things.

Yes, and those people are friends.  Did you miss the part where I’m loyal to my friends?

Do you have something against monetizing your reputation?

You’re kidding, right?

So, what’s the harm in my paying you to call attention to my product?

Nothing, if your product is any good and I’ve actually used and liked it.  Like, for example, I don’t mind giving Steak ‘n Shake restaurants a plug because I freaking love Steak ‘n Shake and will eat there every time I get the chance.  Hell, I once did a whole column on Waffle House.  But if you’re, say, a Nevada brothel where I’ve never worked, I’m not going to sing your praises just because you paid me to.  I’m the Honest Courtesan, remember?  If I like your book, movie, restaurant, brand of lube or whatever I’ll praise it, and if you want to give me money to really emphasize that praise I won’t turn you down.  But if your product is shitty I’m not going to damage my reputation by endorsing it.

I think you’ll like my product; how do I get you to try it?

Well, publishers do it by offering me promotional copies.  And right now I’m testing out a service that I may end up endorsing pretty soon, provided it measures up as it looks like it might.  If you genuinely think I’ll like what you have to offer, and you think my name will lend respectability to whatever it is, and I think you’ll be a friend to the sex worker community, and you’re willing to support my work by giving me lovely money, please feel free to email me and we’ll talk.  The worst thing that can happen is I’ll tell you “no”.

(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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