Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘ethics’

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.)

Read Full Post »

Punishing women who voluntarily sell sex for a living is human rights violation threatening their survival and another violence by the state.  –  Judge Cho Yong-ho

The Pro-Rape Coalition 

Another fact-free anti-porn polemic, quoting a bogus “study” created by prohibitionists:

Watching natural-looking people engaging in sex that is consensual, pleasurable and realistic may not be harmful…but that is generally not what the $97 billion global porn industry is shilling.  Its producers have one goal: to get men off hard and fast for profit.  That means eroticizing the degradation of women.  In a study of behaviors in popular porn, nearly 90% of 304 random scenes contained physical aggression toward women, who nearly always responded neutrally or with pleasure.  More insidiously, women would sometimes beg their partners to stop, then acquiesce and begin to enjoy the activity, regardless of how painful or debasing…

Harm Reduction (May Updates)

Alas, politicians, being exceptionally stupid creatures, cannot understand that the same principles hold true for all prohibition:

…Hawaii…lawmakers…are proposing to commission a study looking at the merits of decriminalizing all drugs…The study would look to Portugal…[which] decriminalized all drugs in 2001…[leading] to a drastic reduction in drug use, overdoses and crime…The U.S. Surgeon General…announced in January, “It’s time for us to have a conversation in this country that’s based on facts; A conversation that’s based on medicine and science”…

Saving Them From Themselves

Cops continue their quest to destroy people’s lives for the “crime” of being human:

Redding, Connecticut, cops arrested a 14-year-old boy and charged him with possession of child pornography, harassment, and obscenity…This news story makes it impossible to determine the exact nature of his crime, but…I would say that he likely shared an illicit photo of a similarly-aged female—perhaps his girlfriend—with some of his friends…This is simply not a matter for the police…It’s not wrong for 14-year-olds to express sexual interest in each other…the cops investigated this teen for three months….How many police resources were tied up…figuring out why two teens were sexting each other?…

Above the Law  

“Rape”, reporters.  The word you’re looking for is “rape”:

A Wichita [Kansas] woman says a…[cop raped] her multiple times over a two year period…Richard Bachman…used his power as a cop to [rape her from 2010 to 2012]…This is the second suit against the [rapist] cop…[who]  threatened to plant drugs on the woman, and…handcuffed her while [raping] her.  “I don’t want him to ever be in a position where he has the authority over anyone again,” she said…Bachman’s attorney [vomited out the legalese equivalent of, “She asked for it”]…

I’m Sure You Feel Safer Now

The only people who “endangered children” here are the brutal thugs who invaded the child’s house, abducted her mother and have probably destroyed the mother’s ability to provide for her in the future:

A…[deceitful pig] contacted Alysia Mericle…[pretending to be an honest client, then called more thugs] to arrest her…Mericle locked the door with the [lying pig] still inside…[so his pig friends] used a battering ram [to destroy her] front door…[they then searched]…her place [without a proper warrant] and…found Focalin and Vyvanse, which are used to treated ADHD.  [Rooting pigs] also discovered [her business] ledger…Mericle was charged with promoting prostitution, possession of controlled substances, endangering children, drug paraphernalia and soliciting prostitution. She was [caged]…and a judge set her bond at $75,000.  The child was placed in the custody of her grandmother.

Mentoring

Anybody want to try these out and see how well they compare to the tried-and-true makeup sponge method?

…The Flex Company wants to replace outdated pads and tampons with a sleek, disc-shaped blood blocker.  Flex can be worn during sex to prevent making a mess.  The Flex discs are disposable, can be worn for up to 12 hours and even come in a stylish little packet.  They’re doctor-approved to be hypoallergenic, BPA-free and they won’t cause toxic shock syndrome…Flex will have to compete with SoftCups, a well-distributed brand with a similar product, though one that doesn’t focus on portability or sex…

One lady on Twitter reported her partner could feel it, which would obviously not be good.

An Example To the West (#133)

Human rights suffer a predictable, but crushing defeat in South Korea:

The Constitutional Court ruled in favor of the country’s antiprostitution law Thursday, dismissing “voluntary sex trade” unconstitutional.  In a 6-to-3 ruling, the court confirmed the legality of the antisex trade act punishing both those who voluntarily sell and buy sex, citing the need to repress demand for prostitution.  The verdict came three years after the top court began to review the act to rule whether it violates voluntary sex workers’ freedom to choose their job and what to do with their own bodies…Kang Hyun-joon, head of sex workers’ rights group Hanteo National Union, called the decision “unacceptable”…He also vowed to submit a petition to the United Nations‘ Human Rights Council…[which has] suggested [decriminalizing] prostitution as a way to create safer conditions for sex workers and to combat human trafficking as well as sex-related diseases like HIV…

Only one of the dissenting judges understands the moral issues here; the other two argued for the hypocritical and misogynistic Swedish model.

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (#318)

It’s so good to see more widespread recognition of this:

…social scientist Dr Kamala Kempadoo…argued that legitimizing the world’s oldest profession would reduce human trafficking and bring security and respectability to women in the profession…She called on [Caribbean] governments to…recognize that prostitution ought not automatically be construed as violence to women…she…was dismissive of the United States State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) reports, contending that they were politically motivated and did not recognize Caribbean practices or cultural norms…in responding to the pressure exerted on regional countries that receive bad marks in the TIP reports, Caribbean governments [have] created a regime to counter what [the US represents] as human trafficking.  However, she said that regime had itself become an industry…

Frequently Told Lies

Here’s a nice little collection of debunking resources (including some of mine) from Sex, Lies & Duct Tape.  Many things to bookmark here!

If You Want Something Done Right…

In which Brooke Magnanti considers the implications of Mistress Matisse’s piece from yesterday:

…When does reporting become rubbernecking?  When does wanting to help someone become wanting to control them?  These are topics that need exploring, both in public and in our own hearts and minds. Especially for people who, like me and…Melissa Gira Grant, are former sex workers who are now full-time writers…Some former sex workers elect to not discuss their personal experiences, and I respect that…But if you don’t write about yourself who do you write about?…What do we really take away from the piece apart from the feeling that everyone who got involved in Heather’s cause had bad intentions apart from (miraculously) Gira Grant herself?  With the subject of the story not supportive of its publication, and considering the fact that it gives a significant national platform to people who may have abused Heather — is this where the ally ends, and the hard-headed journo chasing after a byline begins?…As Gira Grant spent the days after the Buzzfeed piece appeared refusing to answer requests to clarify what happened, it did unfortunately start to seem like she could ignore criticism precisely because those making the criticism were sex workers…

Above the Law (#595)

Whoopsie!  Now where did we put that serial rapist?  He was here a few months ago…

Oklahoma prison authorities are working with attorneys for a [mass serial rapist]…to serve a civil rights lawsuit filed by some of his victims…prison officials revealed…that Daniel Holtzclaw…had been moved from a state prison but would not disclose where he was being housed…Holtzclaw was sentenced to 263 years in prison…and…seven women involved in the criminal case filed a federal lawsuit against Holtzclaw and city officials [because] the city and its police force [gave him free reign to rape at will]…efforts to serve Holtzclaw with the lawsuit have been unsuccessful because he can’t be located within the state prison system…

License to Rape (#601)

Prohibition turns the body of every citizen into a “crime scene”, which can be violated by cops at will:

…According to a federal lawsuit filed by attorney Robert Phillipswhite police officers in Aiken, S.C…[pulled over] Lakeya Hicks and Elijah Pontoon…in Hicks’s car…[using the illegal pretext that] it still had [current] temporary tags…[cop Chris] Medlin [ordered] Pontoon out of the vehicle and [handcuffed] him…Medlin then [told] Pontoon, “Because of your history, I’ve got a dog coming in here.  Gonna walk a dog around the car.”  About 30 seconds later, he [added], “You gonna pay for this one, boy”…four [cops spent]…15 minutes conducting a thorough search of the car…After the search of the car [came] up empty, Medlin [told] the female officer to “search her real good,” referring to Hicks…this was all done in direct view of the three male officers.  That search, too, produced no contraband.  The officers then [anally probed] Pontoon…[repeatedly] grabbing his hemorrhoids…for another three minutes…[finding] no contraband…Medlin [then told] Pontoon…that [this was due to his supposedly recognizing] him from when he worked narcotics…

Bad Girls (#625) 

about 20 sex workers and…allies took to Daley Plaza [in Chicago] to show solidarity with Alisha Walker, a 23-year-old woman sentenced to 15 years in prison after fatally stabbing a client…”We could all be Alisha,” [said] Cathryn Berarovich…”Because our work is criminalized, there is no recourse for when bad things happen to us.  We’re standing up for someone who did what she had to do to survive, then was punished for surviving”…[they also called] out the Sun-Times report on Walker’s sentencing…for its…language…the paper described Walker with terms like “the prostitute” and “hooker”…[but] to Filan…as a “wonderful father”…in spite of the fact that…Filan was the aggressor in their confrontation, threatening her with a kitchen knife because she and the other woman declined to have unprotected sex with him.  Filan had also…been drinking…

Read Full Post »

This is an important article by my friend Mistress Matisse, cross-posted from Medium.

Notorious MGGIt’s ironic that journalist Melissa Gira Grant decided to write an article on how media attention can cause chaos in someone’s life, because in the life of a West Virginia woman named Heather, Melissa Gira Grant has become an agent of exactly that sort of chaos.

It began late last summer, when serial killer Neal Falls contacted Heather through her escort ad, and when they met, he tried to murder her. Heather fought back against Neal Falls and killed him. In doing so, she removed a dangerous predator from the world. Charleston police say she almost certainly saved the lives of other women Neal Falls would have gone on to kill.

At some point, a few weeks after the attack (she does not specify when), Grant says she came to Heather’s house and spoke with her. A lot of reporters came to Heather’s door after the attack, and many of them were vague about details such as to exactly what publication they wrote for, or when any piece they wrote about her would be published.

Fast forward to March 30th, almost seven months later, when Grant published a meandering and somewhat confusing Buzzfeed story about Heather. Part of it touches on the sex worker community’s peer outreach to Heather and our ongoing support for her. Grant portrays our efforts as problematic, and singles me out in particular as having questionable motivations for offering Heather my friendship. Bafflingly, she also chooses to spotlight the voices of three other people who, while they only had contact with Heather briefly, caused her further distress in that time: Kathy Brown, Laura Gandee, and a man known as Nostra-Thomas Koenig, aka Charles de Koenig. Brown and Gandee’s behavior towards Heather could be described as “well-intentioned but coercive”. Koenig, on the other hand, was openly controlling and abusive to Heather from the start, and quickly escalated into public harassment and threats aimed at not only Heather, but at the group of sex worker/activists who were supporting her, and all sex workers in general.

The hard truth is: sex workers (and sex worker’s rights activists) expect biased treatment from journalists who have no ties to the sex work community. But people could be forgiven for thinking Melissa Gira Grant was different. In her past, she did sex work herself, and since then she’s written extensively on sex workers’s rights. She uses that position to get insider-information about sex worker-centered stories as they develop. She watches such journalism closely and often critiques it in a territorial manner, calling such stories “her beat”.

Grant focuses exclusively on the weeks immediately following the attack, but she does not present a sharp timeline. Here is how the first stages of sex worker rights activists community’s outreach to Heather occurred.

The attack on Heather occurred July 18th.

July 29th, I talked to Kathy Brown and Laura Gandee, and also to the man calling himself Nostra-Thomas Koenig/Charles de Koenig, who were doing the already-existing fundraiser.

On July 31st, I talked to Heather personally for the first time. I was the third member of the sex work community to have direct contact with her.

Around Aug 2nd, desperate because money raised by Gandee, Brown and Koenig was not being released to her for rent and utilities, Heather asked sex work activist Tara Burns to set up a Crowdrise fundraiser that she could have direct and sole control over. A group of sex worker/activists coalesced to promote Heather’s fundraiser and offer her support: Tara Burns, Meg Munoz, Marisa Anne, Lily Fury, and myself. Kristen D’Angelo had also reached out to Heather in this time and was in frequent contact with our group.

On Aug 5th, an article was published in Cosmopolitan about Heather’s fundraiser, and the sex worker community outreach to her. “Meg Vallee Munoz, a former sex worker and co-founder of Abeni, an organization that offers individuals with experiences in the sex trades practical services and holistic support, is the spokeswoman for the new campaign.”

So for Melissa Gira Grant to say “Seattle dominatrix Mistress Matisse…led her own effort to help Heather” is incorrect. Grant either didn’t bother to research this, or she excluded these activists from the narrative for reasons of her own.

But more trouble arose in August, when Koenig began posting extremely abusive statements about Heather, and about sex workers in general, on the Facebook page he made about Heather. He began harassing and threatening her. He said repeatedly that anyone who contributed to Heather’s fundraiser instead of his would be arrested, and that Heather herself would be too. There was an article documenting this on Tits and Sass. (This article also documents the incident of Brown and Gandee calling the police to force Heather to see them.)

Upon getting Heather’s agreement, and after discussion of the group of SW/activists, I went to West Virginia on August 3rd and spent four days with Heather, to offer her coercion-free support. On this visit, we accomplished the following: we negotiated that Brown, Gandee, and Koenig would turn over all funds collected to her immediately. We opened a bank account (in Heather’s name only) that linked to her fundraiser, so that all funds would be transferred directly to her. We also bought her a new phone. During this period, I observed Koenig constantly harassing and threatening Heather and her mother by phone, and I related this to Maryclaire Akers, assistant prosecuting attorney for Kanawha County, who agreed to contact Koenig and warn him off.

In Grant’s presentation of the narrative, these behaviors are somehow suspicious. I think that says more about how she approaches Heather than how I do. There are many kinds of predators in the world, but they all have one thing in common: predators take, they don’t give. Neal Falls was a predator of the most extreme variety. Nostra-Thomas Koenig was a different type of predator in Heather’s life. But what about Melissa Gira Grant? Grant came into Heather’s life to get something of value to herself and her career. She gave nothing whatsoever to Heather. She certainly did not offer her friendship or support. At no time has she donated to Heather’s fundraiser, or promoted it using her platform. One might say that she could not have done so before she published her story, for fear of seeming to display journalistic bias. But she hasn’t done so since the article was published, either.

The other feature of predators is: they don’t get consent for what they do. There’s a lot of good discussion of what the word consent means, and who can give clear, fully informed, and unimpaired consent. I myself am a strong believer that consent in any interaction is crucial, and that the person who has the most control over the situation is morally bound to make absolutely sure they have fully-informed consent at all times. Consent cannot be assumed by silence, and it can be revoked at any point in the process. Melissa Gira Grant did not have Heather’s consent to publish their interview.

You may think, “But the question of consent doesn’t apply to someone who gives an interview to the media.” I would say perhaps it doesn’t apply to someone who has power equal to (or even greater than) the journalist, and who has put themselves forward to the press. For example, someone running for public office has given blanket consent to being asked questions, and to be quoted in ways that may or may not reflect what they think they said.

Heather SaulHeather is not such a person. She is a private individual, leading a quiet life, who was thrust into the spotlight because she was the victim of a terrible crime. Heather had never dealt with the media before the attack. I think it highly likely that when Grant approached Heather, she mentioned the names of sex workers who’d already befriended her, in order to gain Heather’s trust and make the visit seem more like friendly outreach, not an actual interview. Once Grant left her house that day, Heather was never given any further say over where, when, or how her words would be used.

After such a violent attack, a victim could be in a state of emotional and intellectual shock for weeks, and Heather was. Grant clearly describes Heather’s intense post-traumatic stress symptoms. She also notes that Heather was injured in the accident and has impaired movement, and that she’s in pain. So she knew that Heather was in shock, injured, in pain, and thus probably taking pain medication. No one can give meaningful, informed consent in that situation. To ignore that, and make use of someone’s extreme fragility and media inexperience like that is breathtakingly predatory.

Grant also knew that Heather was battling an addiction issue. Notice: Heather chose not to speak of it to Grant — Grant calls this “talking around it” — so Grant tells us about it in through the words of her abusers, with their shaming and stigmatization of her. This is what troubles me the most about this article: Melissa Gira Grant gives a platform to Heather’s known abusers. Nostra-Thomas Koenig harassed, insulted, and threatened Heather and her mother both online and by phone for months. His voice has absolutely no place in this article. To have him quoted talking about Heather’s life is intensely re-traumatizing to her.

Reporting the opinions of Laura Gandee and Kathy Brown is also highly questionable. They literally called the police to force Heather to see them. That’s a blatant abuse of social power. Why are the opinions of these people being reported as if they had value? And why would Grant then juxtapose non-violent peer outreach with the actions of an abuser and two carcerally-inclined ladies? To call this a false equivalency is to do it far too much justice. This article lends credence and legitimacy to the non-consensual brands of “help” that for Heather, ranged from controlling and coercive all the way to violent.

In that way, Heather’s experience is unfortunately not unique. For a sex worker who wants to exit the industry, especially women as isolated as Heather, there is almost no non-violent peer support available. Many anti-sex workers openly support the idea that arresting sex workers is a good way to get them services and protection — but statistically, police are the worst perpetrators of violence against sex workers, and being arrested makes any situation worse, not better. Grant does not go quite so far, but she does lend authority to the idea that sex workers offering non-coercive peer support to other sex workers is something to be viewed with suspicion, and discouraged. This is not acceptable to the sex work community.

I navigate consent for a living, and judging by the quotes of mine she pulled from another story, perhaps Grant took exception to my comparison of how that’s done within a BDSM scene to how I practice obtaining consent when I do outreach? Regardless of how you frame it, you either have someone’s consent or you don’t, and there are very clear steps that must be taken if you get this wrong. Heather has made her statement. Now Melissa Gira Grant needs to acknowledge that she violated Heather’s consent. She needs to take total responsibility for how her actions re-traumatized Heather. She needs to reach out to Heather, publicly, apologize to her, and do whatever Heather feels is appropriate to atone for her violation. Only then can she ethically continue to report on sex worker issues.

Read Full Post »

It is apparent that the attenuated causal chain proposed by [those suing Backpage] is forged entirely out of surmise.  –  Justice Bruce Selya

Rough Trade 

Just imagine this ridiculous defense working for anyone in another profession:

A Melbourne real estate agent…was cleared of raping and imprisoning a sex worker in a vacant house…Henry Jiang…was accused of binding the woman with cable ties and raping her repeatedly…after…his booking with her had ended.  His defence barrister [Con Heliotis] said everything that happened was consensual, and the woman had agreed to extend her time with Mr Jiang after he offered her more money and drugs…[but] didn’t tell her escort agency she was staying later…because she didn’t want to pay them a higher commission.  Mr Jiang admitted taking money from the woman, because he calculated he was owed it for the drugs…Heliotis said the sex worker was concerned she had been robbed and only claimed she had been raped…when asked directly by police…In explaining the woman’s…screams as she [fled] the house, Mr Heliotis said: “She would be extremely distressed if she had lost her money and couldn’t buy drugs”…

Lying Down With Dogs

Another US-style “prostitution crackdown” in a country the US should be proud to resemble:

Tanzanian authorities are holding some 800 people suspected of involvement in prostitution…around 500 suspected sex workers and almost 300 alleged customers have been arrested…Tanzanian President John Magufuli, who was elected in October…[on a] law and order [platform has not]…banned…miniskirts [as reported in January]…though…the president and his government [say they are] are “strong proponents of decent dressing”…

Do be sure to click that link to see what Tanzanian ideas of “law and order” entail.

St. James Infirmary

St. James Infirmary, San Francisco’s health care organization for sex workers, cut the ribbon on its new Tenderloin clinic Monday, March 14.  St. James shares the space, located at 234 Eddy Street, with the Transgender Gender Variant and Intersex Justice Project…In addition to primary medical care, the peer-based organization also offers HIV testing and prevention services, including PrEP; sexually transmitted disease testing and treatment; transgender hormone therapy; mental health care; harm reduction services, including needle exchange and naloxone; case management; support groups; food and clothing; and other assistance to people of all genders involved in the sex trade and their families.  All services are free and confidential…

Above the Law  

Some rapist cops go out and look for victims:

A [New Jersey cop] has pleaded guilty to using his badge [and a loaded gun] to [rape] a prostitute…Dinis Oliveira…pleaded guilty…to…third-degree criminal coercion……[he] is expected to be sentenced to probation and…must give up his job and forfeit his pension…Oliveira had been charged with sexual assault, official misconduct and criminal coercion [but of course not aggravated rape as anyone else would’ve been]…

And some just wait for victims to be brought to them:

A Philadelphia-area [cop] is accused of [raping] three women [locked up] inside the police department…Roosevelt Turner is charged with official oppression, indecent exposure and indecent assault.  The charges are based on separate encounters in 2015…

It’s amazing how reporters are seemingly unable to use a simple word like “rape” when the rapist, even one who rapes a woman at gunpoint, is a fucking pig.

Change of Heart

As far as I’m concerned, any sex worker who outs a prohibitionist politician has not violated professional ethics; it’s just too bad this woman waited until the day Rubio pulled out of the race:

Marco Rubio…just suspended his campaign after Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump won [Florida] in a landslide victory.  Adding to his problems, his personal life is being shopped around by a dominatrix who alleges she had a kinky sex romp with Rubio…

First They Came for the Hookers…

It doesn’t matter what a sex worker does with her life after leaving sex work; to the media, she’ll always be a whore:

An ex-stripper who went on to law school and later was elected a judge was found dead inside her Nevada home [on March 13th]…authorities do not suspect foul play.  Municipal Judge Diana Hampton, who was 50…appeared to be the perfect picture of health…Hampton, who served as a municipal judge for more than a decade, worked with youth in the community to discourage them from crime…

Buried Truth 

Vociferous opposition to anything sexual is nearly always strong evidence of an attraction to it:

…As the prosecuting attorney for Ingham County, Michigan, since 1997, Stuart Dunnings III spend decades helping to put people behind bars for commercial sexual activity.  But at the same time, Dunnings was routinely shelling out money for sexual services…Dunnings…instituted tougher penalties and a program of impounding johns’ vehicles…Now…authorities allege that Dunnings “paid for commercial sex… hundreds of times…between 2010-2015.”  For five years, Dunnings met with one sex worker up to four times per week, in addition to his encounters with others.  For what it’s worth, the arrest affidavit paints Dunning as considerate client who tipped well and acted more like a “sugar daddy” to some of the women, taking them out to dinners and paying their rent, cellphone bills, and other expenses…After one woman confessed to a heroin habit, Dunnings paid for her weekly methadone treatments and attended Narcotics Anonymous meetings with her…the feds went after Dunnings under the guise of stopping “human trafficking”, because that’s what law enforcement calls all prostitution circa 2016.  Most of the charges actually brought against him, however, are misdemeanor charges for “engaging in the services of prostitution” (10 counts) and “willful neglect of duty” (4 counts).  The one felony charge is because Dunnings…allegedly coerced a domestic violence victim…into having sex with him, then paid her for it…about $600 every two weeks as well as…some of her bills…

The Washington Post coverage that first broke the story preferred to soak in dysphemisms and libel the sex workers that to actually cover the facts.

Backwards into the Future (#334)

UNAIDS welcomes the roll-out of South Africa’s National Sex Worker HIV Plan, 2016–2019.  Launched by the Deputy President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, in his role as the Chairperson of the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC), this unique plan will ensure equitable access to health and legal services for sex workers in South Africa…

A Tale That Grew in the Telling (All Traffick, All the Time)

Here’s another “rescue” scam designed to recruit unhappy whores into the anti-whore brigade; it resembles a “crisis pregnancy center”, which is not surprising since a number of “anti-trafficking” NGOs also operate (or formerly operated) such schemes.  What makes it interesting to me is that it’s the highest claimed number of clients per day (60) we’ve seen in a while, since the high-lunacy mark of 110 current from 2012-2014.  With the exception of a brief requote of that figure (which actually seems to have originated among prohibitionists in 2001) a few months ago, most of the claims have returned to the pre-June 2012 typical claim of 15/day, which is high but not literally impossible.Lake Pahoe

King of the Hill (Traffic Updates)

These moral crusades labeling one particular thoroughfare a “hotbed of sex trafficking” remind me of the Monty Python episode in which there is an entire lake in a basement flat:

Jillian Gilchrest, chairwoman of the [Connecticut] Trafficking in Persons Council, says the Berlin Turnpike is a hotbed for sex trafficking, often involving minors who are exploited…The Underground, a faith-based organization…[identified]…27 of which offer hourly rates…“For far too long, state laws and culture accepted that the purchase of sex will happen,” said Gilchrest…The Judiciary Committee advanced two bills…to attempt to address the issue…[one] would mandate additional training for law enforcement and employees at hotels and motels to identify victims of sex trafficking.  It would also require businesses that offer lodging to maintain detailed records of [cash] transactions for at least six months…[Gilchrest] said… “It was shocking to me [that people are allowed to conduct business with legal tender]”…The bill initially included a provision that would make it illegal to charge hourly for a room at a hotel or motel…But the Judiciary Committee voted…to strike the measure from the bill in response to testimony…[that] hourly rates are often used by truck drivers and travelers seeking a break from the road…

Sex Work is Work (#517)

Bureaucrats can turn anything into a hassle:

New tax laws in Austria is [sic] causing problems for sex workers as rules now dictate that all customers need to be issued with an itemised bill listing all services rendered…As services provided by sex workers covers a wide spectrum, bosses ask how, for example, a two-hour chat with no sexual contact should be written down…others questioned how a self-employed sex worker would issue receipts…

Guinea Pigs 

Americans are so ovine, all one needs do is say “THE CHILDREN!” and everyone cheers while big tech companies give cops horrifying new surveillance tools:

Palantir Technologies…isn’t unique in its efforts to turn its software toward social good—plenty of tech companies do that.  But unlike most, Palantir says it treats nonprofits like any other customer..in 2012, Polaris’ chief executive, Bradley Myles, heard Palantir’s CEO, Alex Karp, speak at a White House event…Myles knew it was something his [corporation]—which is dedicated to eradicating [sex work]—needed but couldn’t afford…Just a few weeks later, Palantir engineers were integrating data from thousands of [sex worker arrest] records, public tips and financial networks…The…company [also] integrates tips, case reports, public records, videos, social media feeds and other data sources and helps draw connections…To help…law enforcement [spy on adult sex workers and clients in the name of fighting] the abduction and sexual exploitation of children…

Crying for Nanny (#539)

The outcome was a foregone conclusion; the lawyers who orchestrated this shitshow were only appealing to cover their arses:

Backpage.com…has been sued a bunch of times, almost always by people [deliberately] misunderstanding Section 230 of the CDA which, as we’ve discussed hundreds of times, says that sites are not liable for the actions of their users…the appeal on [a] Massachusetts case has brought another good Section 230 win, saying that Backpage.com is not liable…The crux of the argument…is that…the way Backpage is set up…makes it different from a standard “publishing” platform.  This is a pretty common attack on Section 230, claiming that it does more than a publisher and thus isn’t protected.  Courts have almost universally rejected that, unless those additional actions themselves could be seen to break the law…the court rejects this argument, saying that everything Backpage.com does is a traditional publisher activity…

Read Full Post »

Lopsided Deal

What if a woman was offered a lucrative, plum position in a particular field – let’s say engineering – for which she was required and expected to perform said tasks and critiqued accordingly.  To finalize the mix, her supervisor expected an ongoing sexual relationship.  But the woman employee would be expected to perform the job requirement tasks and subjected to the same performance reviews as any other employee.  So, is this prostitution or is its removal from the direct exchange of sex for money take it out of that category?  The situation has a very murky feel to it IMO.

Yeah, it’s murky all right.  If the employee initiated the deal, it would certainly be a form of prostitution (though kind of a dumb one for reasons we’ll go over in a minute).  But if the employer initiated it – which is what I assume you’re proposing due to the phrase “expected an ongoing sexual relationship” – it would be sexual harassment in the purest form.  Such arrangements were at one time not at all uncommon; I’m sure you’ve heard of the Hollywood “casting couch”.  In the days when men pretty much ran everything and women were hard-pressed to break into decent jobs, many women felt as though they had little choice but to accept such lopsided deals when they were offered; it wasn’t until women as a group had gained enough clout in the marketplace that individual women felt secure enough to call attention to this kind of extortion when it happened.  But since the language you use seems to indicate that you don’t see the fundamentally coercive nature of these work conditions, let me spell it out for you:  the employee would be expected to perform two jobs for one paycheck, and as you describe it she wouldn’t be getting any kind of slack in the “official” job.  So not only would she have to put out for her sleazy boss without any guarantee of job security, she’d also have to labor under the Damoclean sword of the Coolidge Effect.  Sooner or later he’d get tired of her, and then what?  Would he let her keep the job and stop pestering her for sex, or (as seems much more likely) would he begin to find fault with her, sabotage her efforts so she gets bad performance reviews, write her up for bullshit infractions, and the like so he could fire her and bring in a new honey in her place?  Only a desperate woman would accept such a crappy arrangement, and because Western society now recognizes just how exploitative sex-for-job deals are, any man who would still propose one would have to be a total fool who deserved everything he got.

(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.)

Read Full Post »

Siren

I’ve been a hobbyist since 2007 and have been with many ladies, but a year ago I started seeing a young woman less than half my age and became utterly intoxicated with her.  I see her about twice a week now, always paying more than her full posted rate; despite this she never stays longer than the time we agreed on, even though she sees other people at a lower rate.  She does, however, text with me every day, though most of them are rather short.  I take her shopping, bring her many presents, and loaned her a lot of money; I have also told her I love her and even proposed.  She has never said she loves me, but she says she has more feelings for me than she does other clients; she gets a little angry if I push her to explain her feelings, and says she’s not in the same place I am.  Last autumn I was in alcohol rehab for a while, and she was very annoyed that I did not keep in contact while I was in the facility (because I couldn’t use my cell phone there).  After that I started getting very obsessed with her and have figured out her real name, where she lives and other personal information.  She won’t commit to a relationship, but says anything is possible.  It’s beginning to get around the local escort/client community that I’m infatuated with her, and the other providers I know tell me I’m not the only one, and that she’s known for using people.  One of my hobbyist friends tells me I should stop seeing her for at least six months, and see other providers instead; I’ve tried that, but no other woman makes me feel like she does.  Help!

I’m afraid I have to echo what everyone else is telling you:  you need to walk away from this if at all possible.  You are completely infatuated with her, and though I won’t say she’s using you because she isn’t lying to you, that doesn’t make this a healthy relationship.  There’s absolutely nothing morally wrong with her refusing to overstay her time, or insisting on full rate; though I do think it’s a bit strange that she gives other people a cheaper rate than her most regular client, on the other hand she also gives you a lot of “off the clock” interaction via texting and the like.  What makes it unhealthy is your level of emotional investment in something that isn’t going to go where it’s obvious you desperately want it to go.

We like to believe that we have complete free will, but the truth is that chemicals dramatically affect our thinking and emotions.  People with mental illnesses caused by chemical imbalances can find their whole lives thrown into turmoil for no apparent reason, and the right medication can make them feel dramatically better.  Recreational drugs can profoundly affect the way we feel or view the world, and can even lead to powerful insights or religious experiences.  And given that you have suffered from alcoholism yourself, I don’t think I need to remind you of the powerful effect that chemical has on the brain.  Well, the feeling of being in love is also caused by chemicals, though they’re ones which originate within the body rather than outside of it; the primary culprit is dopamine, but norepinephrine and phenylethylamine are also important, not to mention the “love hormone” oxytocin (which is released during skin-to-skin contact, including cuddling, even in situations where no sex or erotic attraction is involved).  So while it’s not possible to be addicted to sex (as I have explained many times in my blog), it is indeed possible to be addicted (in a way) to the feeling of being in love.  And just as the compelling need for alcohol or other drugs can cause erratic or even dangerous behavior in the addict, so can the compelling need for the “fix” provided by that potent neurochemical mixture one’s brain releases during interaction with the subject of one’s infatuation.  The good news is that, as with any other addiction, the hold of love can be broken; the bad news is that I don’t know of any way to do it other than cold turkey withdrawal.  I would strongly counsel you to take your friends’ advice:  stop seeing your siren and try to distract yourself with other ladies and other pastimes, before you go broke and/or get yourself arrested for doing something you will regret, which I fear is a very strong possibility in this situation.brain in love

(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.)

 

 

Read Full Post »

How dare someone tell another person how they should or should not feel.  –  Rachel Wotton

Barbie Hello Barbie

I’m sure “feminists” will be much more concerned with analyzing the “sexism” of Barbie’s utterances than with this:

…As part of the Investigatory Powers Bill, children’s…toys could be the next item to be used by the government in an effort to spy on people, claims Antony Walker, deputy CEO of technology trade association techUK…Walker warned MPs of how the…Bill could be abused to turn any Internet-connected device into a snooping tool…Smart Toys, such as Hello Barbie and My Friend Cayla – that come Wi-Fi enabled and have microphones and cameras built-in – could become spying tools for intelligence agencies…After concerns were raised early December by Bluebox Labs, Barbie’s manufacturer Mattel reportedly tightened the security on Hello Barbie that allows kids to talk to dolls over a cloud server connection…

O, Canada!

Canadian “authorities” are nearly as obsessed with “trafficking” porn as US ones:

Ontario needs a police task force to fight human trafficking of girls as young as 13…“They really are the girls next door”…MPP Laurie Scott said…[fantasizing about] the vast majority forced into the sex trade by human traffickers…[and] calling human trafficking an “underground and very fast-growing crime”…

Where Are the Protests? 

Woman works for herself selling sex: It’s a national tragedy!  “Rescue” her against her will!  This story: {crickets}

Every morning at 2 a.m., they heard a kick on the door and a threat:  Get up or get beaten.  For the next 16 hours…[they] stood in the factory that owned them with their aching hands in ice water.  They ripped the guts, heads, tails and shells off shrimp bound for overseas markets, including grocery stores and all-you-can-eat buffets across the United States…Pervasive human trafficking has helped turn Thailand into one of the world’s biggest shrimp providers.  Despite repeated promises by businesses and government to clean up the country’s $7 billion seafood export industry, an Associated Press investigation has found shrimp peeled by modern-day slaves is reaching the U.S., Europe and Asia. The problem is fueled by corruption and complicity among police and authorities.  Arrests and prosecutions are rare.  Raids can end up sending migrants without proper paperwork to jail, while owners go unpunished…

The main reason this goes on?  Because the US is too busy forcing Thai authorities to raid brothels for nonexistent “sex slaves” to bother policing its own food supply chains.

Bell, Hook and Kettle

This shelter was not operated by the Salvation Army; however, as I demonstrated just a year ago, the Salvation Army has done very similar things:

A Kentucky homeless shelter said that it has banned all women and children in an effort to stop them from having sex with male residents.  Emergency Christian Ministries Director Billy Woodward [said]…he had to put a stop to the “sex problem…It seems like these last days it’s getting worse…the ungodly type”…Emergency Christian Ministries forced up to a dozen women to leave…It was not immediately clear if the women had been able to relocate because Emergency Christian Ministries is the only shelter for the homeless in Williamsburg.  A female-only…shelter in Gray, Kentucky was reportedly accepting women.  However, that shelter is a 40 minute drive from Williamsburg…

The Public Eye

many candid, eye-opening stories…populate a new theatrical production in Vancouver called The Hooker Monologues, which brings nine sex workers and…allies…together on stage to deliver real-life stories about the world’s oldest profession…The Monologues were recently workshopped for a select audience, as the performers gear up to unveil their stories at the Firehall Arts Centre next March.  They hope to dispel stereotypes about prostitution by giving voice to women who perform sex work…

Skin To Skin

Here’s another good article about one of my heroines, Rachel Wotton:

In Australia and overseas, disability advocacy groups are trying to raise awareness about disabled people and sex.  Veteran sex worker Rachel Wotton is one of the co-founders of Touching Base, an organisation that allows people with disabilities to connect with sex workers.  She says the stigma surrounding the sex lives of people with disabilities is disheartening.  “It’s ridiculous. Just because someone can’t walk the same way as others, or doesn’t have the same technique to use their voice, doesn’t mean they haven’t got the same sexual desires as other people…People need to move away from the idea that sex is intercourse.  Our sexuality is expressed in many different ways,” said Ms Wotton, who has worked in the industry for more than 20 years and was featured in the documentary Scarlet Road

Blunt Instrument

Due to their visibility, massage parlors are taking the brunt of the “sex trafficking” hysteria in smaller cities:

Columbus is banning those convicted of drug- and human-trafficking crimes from obtaining operating licenses for massage or bathhouse businesses…The Columbus City Council…also has approved spending $50,000 to help hire a probation officer…who will focus on [brainwashing]…women convicted of prostitution…City officials said the new laws and new probation officer are efforts to reduce human trafficking, which police [fantasize] is on the rise in central Ohio…

Lack of Evidence (#314) Oh My Girl

I’m sure racist “sex trafficking” myths had nothing to do with this:

A pop group has flown back to South Korea after officials in Los Angeles thought they might be sex workers.  The eight members were travelling to America for an album cover shoot but were detained for 15 hours in customs…Oh My Girl…had…been booked to perform at a gala event in Los Angeles…

Backwards into the Future (#334)

[South African] sex workers have made impassioned pleas for the decriminalisation of their trade…to fight…exploitation, abuse, discrimination and violence…In a report…that was unanimously adopted at the legislature…sex workers decried how police officers confiscated their condoms as evidence that they were sex workers and [explained] how they were…denied their HIV antiretroviral treatment when in police detention…

Torture Chamber 

No, you assholes; when a guard coerces a prisoner into sex, it’s rape, not “barter”:

…Lowell [state prison in]…Florida…[is] the largest women’s prison in the United States…women who have done time here say Lowell’s quiet veneer belies the corruption, torment and sexual abuse within…[jailers] spit in their faces, threaten to slam them into concrete and call them whores, bitches and porch monkeys…male prison staffers tramp through the showers, make them flash their breasts on a whim and force them to beg for basic necessities…[guards] use their positions of power to pressure inmates to have sex…in bathrooms, closets, the laundry and…isolated areas of the prison…those who yield to the…demands are…rewarded with soap and sanitary pads, cigarettes, drugs and money…[those] who don’t comply…are harassed and humiliated…and…threatened with [solitary] confinement…their belongings [are stolen]…and the privilege of visits from their families [withheld]…

Out of Control (#451)

Celibacy erodes men’s judgment, sometimes until their behavior becomes completely out of control:

A Catholic priest swiped collection-plate donations to pay…[a professional dominant]…a new lawsuit…alleges he…stole…at least $1 million since 2003 while leading churches on Roosevelt Island and in The Bronx, where he is currently pastor of St. Frances de Chantal…[Reverend Peter] Miqueli also spent $60,000 in 2012 alone for “illicit and prescription drugs” he used with [Keith] Crist, bought a $264,000 home in Brick, NJ, and paid $1,075.50 a month for his master’s East Harlem apartment…The suit…also charges that the Archdiocese of New York and Cardinal Timothy Dolan knew about Miqueli’s “illegal scheme” and did nothing to keep it from growing into “the monster it is today”…In addition to skimming $20 bills from the collection plate…Miqueli ripped off money raised to buy a new pipe organ at his former church…He also put Crist in charge of the Cabrini thrift shop, where Miqueli “misappropriated and diverted money . . . for his own personal use” and destroyed financial records to cover up the theft…The suit seeks unspecified damages from Miqueli, Crist, Dolan and the archdiocese on grounds that include negligent supervision, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud and unjust enrichment…

Now They Notice

The hopelessly-square Advocate is slowly coming around on sex work, though its misleading headline makes it sound as though the report is urging politicians to make a special case for transwomen:

A new report on transgender sex work sponsored by the Red Umbrella Project, the National Center for Transgender Equality, and the Best Practices Policy Project urges policy makers and legislators to “repeal criminal laws for prostitution and related offenses.”  Building on data from the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, “Meaningful Work: Transgender Experiences in the Sex Trade” concludes that decriminalization is “essential to protect the safety of people in the sex trade and to combat HIV.”  The report finds that transgender people engage in the sex trade to forge a better socio-economic existence for themselves, to provide for their families, to find employment alternatives that do not expose them to the harsh discrimination that they may face in traditional workplaces, and to ameliorate high rates of joblessness and homelessness.  Black transfeminine individuals are particularly impacted by these problems…

The Pygmalion Fallacy (#573)

I’m not sure which are more pathetic:  the poor saps who think they’re going to get artificial, programmable whores in the next few years, or the sociopathic control freaks who want to use violence to stop them from diddling with dolls in private:

…Kathleen Richardson…director of the Campaign Against Sex Robots…[says] “David Levy is taking people’s insecurities and offering a solution that doesn’t exist…Paedophiles, rapists, people who can’t make human connections – they need therapy, not dolls”…It’s a direct path, she believes, from the way we communicate through machines, from social networking, to robots.  And this, she says, is dangerous…If the future of sex…is in robotics, then Richardson is right:  it requires a thoughtful discussion about the ethics of gender and sex.  But while she identifies the relationships that appear to be emerging as modelled on [prohibitionist myths about] sex work – the robot as passive, bought, female; the man as emotion-free and sex-starved – surely rather than calling for a ban on them, to forlornly try stalling technology, the pressure should be to change the narrative.  To use this new market to explore the questions we have about sex, about intimacy, about gender…

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 8,039 other followers