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Posts Tagged ‘Florida’

Fruits and veggies we adore thee
You are good and good for us.  –  USDA propaganda department

I was traveling this week and therefore couldn’t collect as many links as usual.  The video was suggested by Jae and the links by PopehatRick Horowitz and Lucy Steigerwald (in that order).

From the Archives

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Kristof is the sort of acute observer who, upon witnessing plantation slavery, decides that farming must be abolished.  –  Jacob Sullum

Amnesty At Last

The biggest story of the year so far is that Amnesty International has at long last come out in support of absolute decriminalization of sex work, as sex workers ourselves have wanted for decades.  Amnesty has a tremendous amount of clout; this will strongly affect small countries, and even in big countries like the US some politicians may now begin to doubt the wisdom of backing laws that allow the cops to persecute adults for consensual sex.  It will also undermine the prohibitionists’ arguments; they can no longer pretend that their views are common-sense and mainstream.  To me the most important lines in the document are these:

…the need for states to not only review and repeal laws that make sex workers vulnerable to human rights violations, but also refrain from enacting such laws…the harm reduction principle…Recognizing and respecting the agency of sex workers to articulate their own experiences and define the most appropriate solutions to ensure their own welfare and safety…the evidence from Amnesty International’s and external research on the lived experiences of sex workers, and on the human rights impact of various criminal law and regulatory approaches to sex work…

A Procrustean Bed

Super-ally Elizabeth N Brown again:

A four-part series from Capital News Service (CNS) looks at human trafficking in Maryland…[and] contends that “Maryland has some of the lightest penalties in the nation for human trafficking of adults”…yet a bill to enhance criminal penalties…recently failed to pass…it was a rare moment of legislative sanity on this issue…advocates for the increased penalties claim that sex trafficking of adults is a mere misdemeanor in Maryland…[but they] aren’t really talking about human trafficking.  They’re talking about prostitution.  Which they want felony punishments for…”misdemeanor human trafficking” is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.  And what does this category entail?…driving a sex worker to a job…letting a sex worker work from your…building…taking money from a sex worker for any reason…

Profound Mental Disabilities

A man in Orlando is suing a local dominatrix, accusing her of taking more than $500,000 and his house…Judith Gumbrecht…[offers]…“financial slavery”…[and] former client Alex Abrams…[alleges]  Gumbrecht took more than $500,000 after he added her name to his financial accounts, and took ownership of his 1,450-square-foot townhome…the lawsuit accuses Gumbrecht of exploitation of an elderly person, theft, and unjust enrichment…Abrams’ attorney, Brian Mark, claims Abrams suffers from clinical depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, and said this affected his decision when adding Gumbrecht to his bank accounts and signing a deed…to transfer his home to her.  Abrams met Gumbrecht after he divorced his wife of 32 years about four years ago…“She went with him to the doctor when he was diagnosed. She was fully aware,” [said] Mark…”When you’re in that professional relationship with them, you cannot exploit them”…

If Gumbrecht really did know that Abrams was demented, it was both unethical and unwise for her to take this kind of advantage.  However, I must point out that A) if she had married him this deal would be a great deal harder to break; and B) it’s amazing how often a submissive’s supposed mental incapacity is used as the excuse for a legal attack on a dominant.  Also, was Abrams suddenly & miraculously cured of his Alzheimer’s, so that his actions now are assumed to be lucid, while his previous actions are not?

Real Men Support Sex Worker Rights (#4)extra-stupid kristof

I really, really love it when Jacob Sullum tears into Nick Kristof:

Kristof says some…teenagers are exploited by pimps who take out…ads…on Backpage.com…He mentions two examples…[but] wisely does not include the source who claimed to have been advertised on Backpage before it existed…Kristof…is condemning Backpage because some of its customers are criminals.  Would he apply similar logic to the carmakers that produce getaway vehicles, the sporting goods stores that sell baseball bats occasionally used in vicious beatings, and the cellphone companies that help terrorists communicate with each other?  Probably not…it’s clear (as usual) that Kristof’s concern is not underage prostitution or coerced prostitution but prostitution in general…by [his] reasoning, alcohol should be prohibited because of the parallel underground market serving minors, all sexually explicit material should be banned because some of it involves children, and housework for pay should be forbidden because rich Saudis have been known to beat domestic workers and hold them against their will…

I’m Sure You Feel Safer Now

An 87-year-old man is fighting allegations he was soliciting a prostitute when he approached an undercover officer during a police sting [in Grand Rapids Michigan]…police and prosecutors say this is likely the oldest person ever charged with this crime.  Howard Arthur Klein…claimed he thought the woman he spoke to was someone he knew from church.  Nevertheless, Klein faces a maximum of 93 days in…jail if convicted…[though he] has no previous criminal record…he has pleaded not guilty…

The Pro-Rape Coalition (#316)

Lone man on a crusade manages to censor adult content on the internet by circumventing a court order.  Sound familiar?

…[An] Indian lawyer’s formal request for a nationwide ban on access to 857 specific pornographic websites was rejected by the country’s Supreme Court but appears to have been enacted by the administration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi…Kamlesh Vaswani, a lawyer who failed to persuade the Supreme Court to block online pornography, gave thanks…to [the] Prime Minister…for [ignoring]…the Supreme Court…Vaswani [said]…“pornography…is worse than Hitler, worse than AIDS, cancer or any other epidemic…It is more catastrophic than nuclear holocaust, and it must be stopped”…

Traffic Circle

It’s becoming possible for mainstream journalists to question central tenets of the “sex trafficking” religion:

…Researchers agree that labor trafficking is the leading form of human trafficking, but sex trafficking is the focus of more federal prosecutions…In 2012, the Department of Justice successfully prosecuted 138 traffickers, with 76 percent of the cases predominantly sex trafficking and 24 percent predominantly labor trafficking…

Checklist (#345)

Now useful idiots don’t even need to dial a phone to snitch!

Anyone with a smartphone can do their part in the fight against human trafficking thanks to…The GPS-based app…called Redlight Traffic.  It’s a free download designed to help police [persecute sex workers]…Greater Seattle is [pretended] to be one of the worst areas in America when it comes to human trafficking.  Police [fantasize] hundreds of children are worked every day in King County…Amin and Jessica Haq…say…their app…has helped rescue 25 children from sex traffickers…

Proof of that last statement? Oh wait, there is none, because you’re lying.

Number Puzzle (#349)brothel ad

Ah, so “flat rate” isn’t actually flat rate; no wonder the girls like it!

In [Germany]…”flat-rate”…brothels…are a familiar sight, there are at least six in Berlin alone…On an average day, six or seven girls will be working, with the numbers rising to nine or ten at weekends.  Some of them may have sex up to 20 times per shift…The women are able to refuse a customer if he is particularly unpleasant or aggressive but it’s rare.  Once in the bedroom, “extras” are negotiated by the women, who keep 100% of any further money that changes hands.  Not much is off limits, with the exception of unprotected sex…the flat-rate model works from a financial perspective because men over-estimate how many times they can have sex…From the women’s perspective, he says the guaranteed daily pay is the main lure.  Of the entrance fee, 49 euros goes to the club and 50 euros to the women…

An Example to the West (#412) 

Imagine the NOW going to bat for sex workers like this:

The National Network of Sex Workers (NNSW) and women’s rights organisations in India have expressed outrage over…Swati Maliwal calling sex work…akin to “rape” and calling for its “eradication”.  “We call on her to immediately withdraw her statement and tender an unconditional apology to the all women in sex work,”…[said] Meena Saraswathi Seshu…At a national consultation on Human Trafficking…Maliwal equated prostitution with rape and said, “It is a ‘blot’ on society which needs to be eradicated with [more violence from] the state”…

License to Rape (#502)

Charnesia Corley was…detained by [Houston] police for allegedly running a stop sign…the deputy…asked her to step out of the vehicle after “smelling what he believed to be marijuana.”  However, during a search of Corley’s vehicle, without her consent, no illegal plants were found…a…female deputy…then stripped [Corley] down in public and forcefully penetrated [her]…“I bend over and she proceeds to try to force her hand inside of me.  I tell her, ‘Ma’am, No. You cannot do this’,” Corley explained.  Corley maintains that at no time did she ever consent to be raped by deputies…

Dutch Threat (#504)

“Politicians lie” = “the sky is blue”.

Warner ten Kate, the public prosecutor [for] human trafficking in Holland…claimed there was…research that showed that 70% of the prostitutes were forced in Holland…during [a radio] interview…Kate was specifically asked about the 70% and…claimed [it came] from…research done by…Erasmus University…[but the] University never did any such research…the Sneep case [cited by Kate] also doesn’t say 70% is forced, but claims it’s 50 to 85%…Warner [says he wants]…to “stop talking about numbers”…[but] this whole debate started because he…and the police keep mentioning numbers which are pure bullshit

Acting and Activism (#559)

A group of 20 academics in the fields of law, medicine, anthropology, sociology and other fields, some of whose names have appeared on this blog before, wrote a letter to Amnesty International in support of decriminalization:

AI’s general policy is to be wary of criminal law regulating gender and sexuality…We focus on two specific issues: 1) why existing credible research supports the rejection of the so-called Nordic model…and 2) why rigorous studies on the relationship between human trafficking and the sex sector supports total decriminalization.  In particular we note empirically and analytically sound research that debunks the Nordic model and refutes claims that legalization or decriminalization of sex work will “increase” the risk of trafficking into the sex sector…

And in The Nation, Melissa Gira Grants writes:

Using the criminal law to control sex work means police are pitted against sex workers, and sex workers can pay the price with their lives…as has also been documented by Amnesty—and others, like Human Rights Watch, UNAIDS, and the World Health Organization, all of whom support the decriminalization of sex work, a stance also backed by recent research in the medical journal The Lancet.  Sex workers’ own rights groups, such as the 237 organizations in 71 countries under the Global Network of Sex Work Projects, report the same from their own experience: Criminal laws only add to the challenges…that many sex workers already face…Amnesty’s sex work proposal has drawn the ire of campaigners who support the [Swedish model]…precisely because it illustrates how these laws, marketed as compassionate towards sex workers, have exposed them to danger.  They argue for more criminalization at a time when on most other issues, the public is turning away from using the police and prisons as a solution…

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I can’t breathe.  –  Joseph Sheldon Hutcheson

You may think of this week’s video as either an affirmation or a not-very-subliminal hint, depending on your personal preference; I don’t much care as long as it works!  It was suggested by Eddie J Cunningham, and the links above it were provided by Radley Balko (“faking” and “more”), Nun Ya (“waste” and “blasphemy”), Carol Fenton (“death”), and Rick Horowitz (everything else).

From the Archives

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“Grandpa worked really hard so that we can find out the most sensitive part of the penis” generally isn’t the sort of story family foundations want to tell.  –  Miro GudelskyLa Bodega Negra - Edited

Subtle Pimping

Another example of amateurs profiting from sex workers’ images while giving us nothing:

As Soho’s sex trade is destroyed, a twee pastiche is being created in its place. A sex-work themed theme-park…Across Soho, the bordello theme is a default.  You don’t have to stumble far to find décor suggestive of dimly lit backrooms and women of the night; a fantasy, filmic version of the sex trade.  Marketers aren’t afraid to use the trope for all its worth…As the reality of sex work in Soho disappears, its essence has become a marketing tool.  Brothel chic.  A Disneyland version of what was for many, a life, work – a world that wasn’t particularly exotic or glamorous but simply the thing they did for a certain number of hours a week to pay the bills…

Perquisites

Only in the US could the idea that men like to look at pretty girls while they relax be represented as strange or even bad:

In a city that’s being gentrified by the engineers and startup employees, the Gold Club is perhaps the most outré illustration of San Francisco’s recent excesses, a place where curious crowds come for the cheap fare and stay for the alcohol and extracurriculars.  It is also an example of how tone deaf many in the male-dominated tech industry can be.  In recent years, critics have called out technology companies for their workforces’ gender imbalances, which some argue foster a boys’ club culture and sexual discrimination…

The Proper Study

Why there are few good studies on sex work:

…Even researchers…with adequate funding and support…may find that they’re not always taken very seriously because of the stigma still attached to sexuality…and…unlike colleagues in other fields, sex researchers are often forced to contend with assumptions that their professional interests reflect their personal habits.  Few assume that ornithologists harbor a secret wish to be birds, or that medical researchers are drawn to their field due to a history of illness, but sex therapists and researchers are frequently presumed to be incredibly adventurous in the bedroom…

Saving Them From Themselves

Some stories are so egregiously stupid I just can’t resist editorializing:

A 14-year-old boy in Nova Scotia has been sentenced to…probation…[re-education] and restricted internet access for possession of child pornography…[actually nude pictures of his same-age girlfriend]…the boy…will also have to provide a DNA sample and [the state will steal] his smartphone…[Judge] Atwood laid out his decision to [pretend that] the crime [was] a violent one.  He said…that even if…sexting [hurts no one, prudes imagine]…that some day, there will be a [mysterious and indefinable] psychological impact…

First They Came for the Hookers…

If prohibitionists really want to “rescue” sex workers, why do they keep trying to stop us from getting other jobs?

…Miami police officer Sabine Raymonvil…does not deny that she used to work in the porn industry [but]…her work in porn films was completed prior to her becoming a police officer…the requirements to work for the Miami Police Department don’t specifically state anything against porn…[but] she may be terminated because of “conduct unbecoming” an officer…

I don’t really want to think too hard about why someone would leave honest sex work to become a pig, but there you are.Sex Slaves MSNBC

Marching Up Their Own Arses (#349)

How many of these must we endure?

Several organizations that advocate on behalf of both sex workers and survivors of trafficking have written a letter to MSNBC, urging them to cancel Sex Slaves in America, saying it…misleads the viewing public about the realities of both sex work and trafficking…The letter, which you can read in full here, is signed by the Sex Workers Project, the New York Anti-Trafficking Network, Freedom Network, Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive, and Florrie Burke, a longtime human rights advocate…they’re particularly concerned with the way it seems to conflate sex work and human trafficking, and that it could compromise the anonymity of the women it films…In 2013, amid protests and another sternly-worded letter from the same organizations, MSNBC cancelled a program called Slave Hunter, in which a guy named Aaron Cohen claimed to rescue victims of trafficking…

Acting and Activism (#419)

Why is CNN so in love with the “sex trafficking” narrative and the empty-headed actresses who promote it?

Jada Pinkett Smith is helping to expose the ugly world of sex trafficking…The actress has teamed up with CNN for an hour-long special report…”Children for Sale: The Fight to End Human Trafficking” delves into the gritty underbelly of child sex slavery in America…Smith…traveled to Atlanta — a trafficking hot spot — to sit down with courageous survivors and come face to face with a trafficker…

Policing for Profit (#520) 

Presumption of innocence?  What’s that?

A D.C. Council member wants to take a page from Spokane, Washington, and several other cities and start impounding the cars of people suspected of soliciting prostitution.  Councilman Jack Evans…is calling this rights-infringing nonsense the “Honey, I lost the car” program.  As with the Spokane law, it wouldn’t matter whether the person is eventually convicted of any crime or not; if you look to some cops like you’re cruising for sex, that’s all the probable cause they need to snatch your vehicle…

The Pro-Rape Coalition (#555) 

If you thought good old-fashioned Moral Majoritarians were just going to concede Puritanism to fourth-wave feminists, think again…the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCSE)—a group founded in 1962 as Morality in Media (the name was changed this year)—is holding an anti-pornography summit…[which] features a who’s who of anti-sex-work, anti-science, and anti-free-speech zealots, along with the father of famous kidnapping victim Elizabeth Smart

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Essentially it boils down to the idea that if the percent of people harmed is low enough, then we don’t have to care. –  Francis Walker

Gateway

Whores are bad, because drugs!  And “trafficking”!  And disease!  And vehicles!

It’s gone from the back alleys to websites like Backpage.com.  Some women are no longer working the streets, but rather the keyboard…Huntington [West Virginia] Police Chief Joe Ciccarelli said…it’s really all…to fuel the woman’s drug habit.  “While almost universally, the women involved are addicted or drug users…this plague of drug addiction knows no bounds.  Somebody who might be your next door neighbor yesterday could be unfortunately a prostitute tomorrow”…most of the ads on…Backpage.com…are trapped in sex trafficking rings…Police say it’s a dangerous situation…for the paying customers, as well.  “Certainly, the customers always run the risk of being robbed, or having their vehicles being stolen…communicable diseases that are spread by IV drug users in sexual situations is astronomical.”  So what’s being done to stop this?  Several local police agencies, including the Charleston Police Department, now run online sting operations… “We’re well aware of what’s going on.  Anybody who thinks they can evade us by using some sort of anonymity online is sadly mistaken”…


If this pompous, doughnut-addicted ignoramus knows as little about internet security as he does about sex work, even the most elementary precautions would be more than enough to evade him.

The Pro-Rape Coalition 

This is all pure nonsense, of course, and dozens of studies (including two US government ones) have found the exact opposite.  But look at the cast of characters:

…Patrick Trueman…of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCSE)…said Congress passes appropriations to fight sex trafficking, child pornography and sexual violence against women, but fails to address the root causes of those crimes.  To change that, the NCSE is holding a symposium next week intended to educate lawmakers and congressional staffers about the effects of pornography on society and criminal activity…NCSE said pornography shapes the sexual templates of children and contributes to the rise in sexual dysfunction now experienced by young men…“You have to address what attracts a man to enslave a woman or…have sex with an enslaved woman, and that’s pornography,” Trueman said.  Speakers…include…Ernie Allen…and Melissa Farley

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic

More of this, please:

A clinical psychologist has ruled out “sex addiction” as the motive for a 22-year-old’s manipulation and threats that led to charges of blackmail and fraud…James Charles White…admitted charges of blackmailing one gay sexual partner, and obtaining sexual services from another young and vulnerable victim…by offering large amounts of money which were never paid…White had said he had a sex addiction and was getting help.  But defence counsel Phillip Allan said the clinical psychologist’s view was that there was no such thing as sex addiction…

Girls, Girls, Girls!

This listicle debunking myths about strippers would be better without the gratuitous whorearchy:  “The lie: You can always pay more for “extras”.  The truth: There’s no price for that.  Nope. Just nope.”  Except that some (certainly not all) girls do indeed sell “extras”, and Elle Stranger knows it as well as I do.

Above the Law 

Yeah, I’m sure this sex was 100% consensual; we always give it up for free to cops who arrest us because they’re just so damned sexy:

…a young Eastern European sex worker [was arrested] after her apartment was raided because it was being used as a “brothel”…after she and another sex worker…were…questioned [and released, one of]…the [gardai] later returned alone to the apartment and raped her.  The garda denied this and said they had “consensual” sex and that he was off-duty at the time…The second woman…gave evidence that she had witnessed the rape…

First They Came for the Hookers…

Strippers and other adult entertainers may soon find themselves having to register with the Monroe County [Florida] government as a way to deter sex trafficking…The Monroe County Commission could opt for a less drastic measure and have adult entertainment clubs “post human trafficking awareness signs printed in both English and in Spanish in conspicuous locations clearly visible to the public and employees”…

The Truth About “The Truth About…”

A statistician vivisects the ridiculous notion that false accusations of rape are so rare they can be ignored:

…Even if false reporting of rape is low, rape as percentage of total sex is even lower and very few people would argue that we don’t really need to care about rape.  About the only argument you can make here with any validity would be that rape affects more people than false accusations of rape.  But that isn’t a particularly great argument either…On a percentage basis, there aren’t many Jews in the US, nor are there many homosexuals.  The percentage of trans-gendered individuals is even smaller.  What rights would society be rightfully allowed to deprive those populations of simply because they are in the minority?…If You Experience a Tiny Bump in Libido Lasting More Than Four H

Not Good Enough (#545)

More than two hundred scientists are calling on the Food and Drug Administration to reject the so-called “female Viagra” pill…experts in disciplines ranging from bioethics to sexology say that flibanserin is “minimally effective”…only 9 to 15 percent more effective than a placebo in increasing desire.  They also highlight its…side-effects, including hypotension and sudden unconsciousness, and its negative interactions with several drugs, including…alcohol and birth control pills…Flibanserin was rejected by the administration twice before, but an FDA panel recently…recommended it for approval [after]…an effective public relations campaign…blamed…previous rejections on sexism on the part of the FDA.  “Approving flibanserin will not only unleash an unsafe drug onto the U.S. market…but will send a message to industry that pressuring the FDA through public relations campaigns can get a drug approved.”

Seizing Power

They’re not even trying to be credible any more:

…According to Shared Hope International, 495 victims of child sex trafficking in 46 states and D.C. have been linked to Backpage.com.  A study by YouthSpark in Atlanta, Georgia, found 53% of children receiving care from service providers across the country were bought and sold for sex on Backpage.com.  With the recent decision of Visa, MasterCard, and American Express, many are wondering what’s next for Backpage.com and its impact on the future of the child sex trafficking industry…

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[Tom] Dart says sex workers are victims, but his actions suggest he intends to make sure they’re victims, one way or the other.  –  Noah Berlatsky

Shifting the Blame

Politician blames advertising site for damage caused by criminalization:

[Massachusetts] Attorney General Maura Healey called on Backpage.com to shut down its “adult” section after two men allegedly killed an escort…whom they had met through the website…Epshod Jeune…and Derrell Fisher…carried out a “joint venture to rob escorts at gunpoint’’…[but] Healey [pretended it was somehow the advertisement’s fault]…

The Scarlet Letter

This week in serious civil-liberties violations in the name of stopping sex, the city of Tucson, Arizona, has released information on hundreds of people with “ties” to suspected sex workers.  The move is part of a years-long investigation into a handful of massage parlors that may offer more than just muscle-pain relief.  Obviously, such nefarious criminal activity (hand jobs—for money? the horror!) warrants extreme measures, which is why Tucson cops couldn’t just stop after raiding the six massage parlors in January and seizing the owners’ assets.  Now the department has publicized the names of all the phone contacts stored in 15 cellphones seized during the raids…getting a massage is apparently now grounds for public shaming at the hands of the state…

Feminine Pragmatism 

Dog bites man:

…Nearly a third of Greeks are living below the poverty line, and children and families make up a significant proportion of those most vulnerable as a result of brutal austerity measures.  This is well-known and well-documented.  Yet one fallout of Greece’s mass unemployment is largely concealed – the rising rate of women turning to sex work to make ends meet. There are reportedly around 18,000 sex workers in Greece, up from the estimated 17,000 in 2012…the number of people selling sexual services in Greece has soared by 150% during the crisis – driven by those desperate to put food on the table after the nation’s financial meltdown…

Above the Law 

Brave heroes of the week:

A…[cop named Nakia Johnson] has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for sexually abusing…an 11 year-old girl.  Deputies say he was in the car with the child when he accidentally pocket dialed the girl’s mother…

Meanwhile, in Maryland:

A Maryland state trooper has been charged with forcing a woman to perform a sex act on him at gunpoint…Brian Tucker…and the woman had previously arranged an agreement for a sex act for money, but the woman…was forced to perform an additional sex act at gunpoint…

Full of Themselves (#439)

The luridly-pompous language used in massage parlor hit pieces from California is probably the most unintentionally-hilarious anti-whore pap out there:

…The number of state-certified masseuses has risen 13% since 2014 to 51,885 this year, according to the California Massage Therapy Council…Nationwide, the massage industry is growing as medical establishments increasingly embrace massage’s therapeutic benefits…more than 5,400 massage technicians list home addresses in [the San Gabriel Valley]…10% of the massage technicians in the entire state.  Now that cities have more authority over massage parlors, officials are weighing how to balance the rights of a growing profession of legitimate massage therapists against the responsibility to solve problems caused by the less savory businesses.  An athlete with sore muscles or an office worker with a stiff neck could not browse long online without running into websites offering Yelp-style reviews of sexually oriented massage parlors.  Posters swap information, using abbreviations and acronyms to throw authorities off the trail…A study by the Urban Institute…described a highly organized sex trafficking ring revolving around a chain of massage parlors in New York City, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles…

Soap Opera (#509) 

First-magnitude fabulist Theresa Flores’ maudlin comedy act, distributing soap bars to fight “pimps” hiding in hotel lavatories, continues:

As the Major League All-Star Game approaches, local law enforcement officials as well as anti-human trafficking activists are bracing for a spike in sex traffic in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.  One of their main weapons to combat such an influx?  Bars of hotel soap…The shower is one place where victims are alone and away from their pimps/controllers.  “We know with any big event or big sports event, there is always an increase in demand for commercial sex (prostitution),” said Erin Meyer, the anti-human trafficking program coordinator for the Cincinnati branch of The Salvation Army and coalition manager for End Slavery Cincinnati.  “And that will no doubt mean an increase in human trafficking.  That data is there“…The effort is part of the national SOAP (Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution) program started by Theresa Flores, a former victim of sex slavery…

Worse Than I Thought (#530)

It’s like they’re competing with each to see who can inflict the most mindlessly-draconian sentences:

[Florida] lawmakers have increased the penalties for people soliciting prostitutes…The first offense is now punishable by up to $1,000 fine…up from $500.  Second and third offenses become felonies.  First offenders will now serve 100 hours of community service, but a second offense will get you ten days in the county jail…State Representative Jeanette Nunez [belched out] “The wives and spouses…this will certainly be a wake up call for them”…Domestic Violence counselors are especially keen on provisions that require Johns to pay for and attend an education program on prostitution and sex trafficking…

Seizing Power Backpage free

As I explained Friday, Backpage has issued a big “fuck you” to Tom Dart & Swanee Hunt by making adult ads free for the time being; Elizabeth Nolan Brown writes:

…Backpage’s move to make adult ads free is a big screw you to fearmongering, First-Amendment-hating, Internet-freedom-stifling nanny statists who think they can control financial-services firms, foreign-based websites (Backpage.com is owned by a Dutch company), and the way women choose to earn a living…

Meanwhile, over at New Republic, Noah Berlatsky writes:

Dart [pretends that]…sex work is “outrageously dangerous”…and [claims] that life expectancies for sex workers [are] comparable to those in “a Third World nation”—though such statistics are notoriously unreliable.  It’s certainly true that putting up barriers to Backpage makes sex work more difficult.  But that doesn’t seem like it will help sex workers.  Instead, sex workers who use Backpage.com say Dart’s successful campaign will make their jobs more dangerous, not less…the changes to Backpage may mean that [some women]…have to work on the street—or find a manager or pimp who has developed alternate payment methods…

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There’s no such thing as a war on sex work without a war on sex workers.  –  Frédérique Chabot

The Going Rate

This article’s dick-strokingly lurid descriptions of stings make it really unpleasant to read, but it did call my attention to this chart from The Economist that I somehow missed last year:hourly rate

Thinking With the Wrong Head

While staking out a hotel room suspected of hosting prostitution activity, local police observed Mason [Ohio] Councilman Rich Cox entering and, about 15 minutes later, leaving.  Surprise, surprise, Mason Police Chief Ron Ferrell said he does not expect charges to be filed against Councilman Cox…somehow I suspect that not everyone in Cox’s circumstances would get such fair treatment from the city police…the councilman offered up an astoundingly far-fetched explanation for what he was doing at the hotel…[he said that] “he visited the [hotel]…to pass a note to a Chinese woman whose father he met at a nearby Verizon Wireless store…[because] the man’s car was broken down“…

Down Under

In the US, this would be called a “trafficking circuit”, Queenstown would be called a “hub” and the reporter would interview cops talking about how “pimps” make all the arrangements because women are too stupid to do that for ourselves.  But in New Zealand:

Queenstown is the adventure sport capital of New Zealand.  But as the tourist numbers swell during the ski season, so do the stag parties, boy’s weekends, corporate retreats, and international business meetings.  As a result, the city has developed a largely hidden yet hugely profitable sex industry…Jasmine tours New Zealand’s South Island throughout the year, but spends most of her time in the mountain town…she is one of the longest-staying sex workers in Queenstown. “Most of the girls book a room for about five days,” explained Alice, a receptionist at a bustling motel in town.  “Jasmine stays for longer because she’s so busy”…July to October and December to March [are] the busiest periods.  The seasons on either side are so dead that girls working in strip clubs can make as little as $50 a night, and escorts…often make nothing at all.  During this time, Jasmine drives to towns like Nelson, where she…has regular customers who guarantee her income…The women say the quiet months are worth it though, as they more than make up for it during the busy ski season…

Rooted in Racism

As I’ve pointed out many times, “sex trafficking” is often a cover for xenophobia:

Bad enough that they’re isolated by race, culture and language and, worse, stigmatized by a false human trafficking narrative, but they’re also endangered unjustly by the Harper government’s anti-prostitution laws.  Now those working legally in Canada say they’re being further victimized, dealing with constant police harassment, illegal detention and invasion of privacy…Elene Lam…is the face of Butterfly, the Asian and Migrant Sex Workers Network, established last fall to advocate for the rights of Asian women in the trade.  The group’s mission includes countering the myths that…have been perpetuated by the…”rescue industry”…even before the new law was introduced, police had been intimidating legal sex workers…in…operation…Northern Spotlight, plainclothes officers…posed as clients and…bullied [sex workers] as they pretended to rescue them.  For Asian sex workers, who may not speak English and have no reason to trust police, these recent warrant-less incursions into their homes and workplaces are especially frightening…

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic

How many times will we have to say this?

A new study out of the University of California Los Angeles suggests porn addiction does not exist.  Researchers found that people who said they had trouble controlling their consumption of pornography did not show a typical addiction response to sexual images.  With addiction, increased brain activity is expected in response to relevant stimuli—heroin in the case of a drug addict, for example.  But the porn study’s participants showed decreased brain activity in response to pornography…This builds on a previous study conducted by the same researchers in which they found no connection between the extent of participants’ pornography problems and their brain responses to sexual images…

Above the Law 

A South Florida cop is accused of pulling a lesbian couple over [without even a pretext], taking one of them into custody and ordering her to undress as he rubbed his penis…”[He asked me] how do I have intercourse, and I told him, ‘Why do I need to answer that? Why is that necessary?’ He insisted me to answer it”…the [17-year-old] victim said.  “After, he asked if I was a virgin…[and] if if I had any diseases”…The woman explained that she…followed the officer’s orders out of fear…[and] believed that she was going to be raped…[when she protested he] said “Oh, I thought you wanted to fuck”…The cop…has been identified as…Jesus Menocal, Jr., the son of a recently retired police chief…who was caught on video during the 1980s plotting a cocaine rip-off…Menocal’s grandmother…said there was no way he would order a female to strip because he was once named “officer of the year”…

Imagination Pinned Down

Here’s another excellent example of stereotypic conformation:

They pimped me for a while, six months or so…Later on, I was trafficked by other men…Pimps are very good at torture, they’re very good at manipulation…When people describe prostitution as being something that is glamorous, elegant, like in the story of Pretty Woman, well that doesn’t come close to it.  A prostitute might sleep with five strangers a day…These are not relationships, no-one’s bringing me any flowers here, trust me on that.  They’re using my body like a toilet.  And the johns – the clients – are violent. I’ve been shot five times, stabbed 13 times.  I don’t know why those men attacked me, all I know is that society made it comfortable for them to do so…on 1 April 1997, when I was nearly 40 years old, a customer threw me out of his car.  My dress got caught in the door and he dragged me six blocks along the ground, tearing all the skin off my face and the side of my body.  I went to the County Hospital in Chicago…emergency room…they gave me a bus pass to go to a place called Genesis House, which was run by an awesome Englishwoman named Edwina Gateley, who became a great hero and mentor for me.  She helped me turn my life around…I stayed almost two years…

I believe that Powell was a streetwalker, and even that she had a few bad pimps; what reveals her story as propaganda is its absolutism.  All the pimps were evil and controlling, though in real life more than half aren’t; all the clients are abusive and “used her body like a toilet” (a classic prohibitionist slur); all sex work is equated with street work, though every street worker I’ve ever spoken to knows that isn’t so.  And of course there’s the classic car-dragging tale; let Powell produce her medical records (it should be easy enough, given that she knows the exact date and hospital) and I’ll believe her.  Otherwise, I call bullshit; it’s pretty obvious that part of her two-year stay at Genesis House was the usual prohibitionist brainwashing sessions, including lessons in “reframing experiences”.

On the Simultaneous Having and Eating of Cake 

I don’t expect to see any of these strip club “contractor” lawsuits go any other way now; what makes this one noteworthy is that it includes SWOP:

…while working at Scarlett’s Cabaret in Pembroke Park [Florida, Adonay Encarnacion]…got fed up.  Her frustration fueled a fight that could now result in a $6 million settlement, after a collective action involving 4,709 dancers who worked at three Scarlett’s cabarets.  “They treated us like employees when it was convenient to them and like independent contractors when it was convenient to them…If they were going to treat us like employees, then they needed to be paying us minimum wage and overtime”…Katherine Koster works for the Sex Workers Outreach Project, an organization that advocates for the human rights of sex workers and aims to raise awareness on the negative impact of their criminal status in the U.S…”Disorganized labor markets are fertile ground for the sort of labor practices that victimize  low-income and marginalized female workers,” Koster said.  “Most of them…just don’t really know that they have rights”…

Monsters 

Though the feminist jargon is a bit too thick, the central tenets are valid:

…I believe that the eroticization of trans bodies and the resulting homophobia from the rejection of that body are the primary drivers of many instances of…anti-transgender violence…Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s claim in…Rolling Stone that…“no community living in America today is as openly terrorized as transgender women” is correct…questioning of a trans woman’s gender identity leads the questioner to their subjective identification of a trans woman as a man.  If the questioner is a heterosexual cisgender man, the reaction that follows the initial eroticization is one of visceral disgust as he sexually rejects the “man” he sees in the trans woman’s place.  The transphobia and anti-transgender violence that follows are inherently political acts, meant to discipline the trans woman for attracting the male gaze in the first place…eros to thanatos, lust into vengeful rage…

Subtle Pimping (#330)

A different kind of “video game” designed to profit from sex workers (and in this case, our clients) without giving us anything in return.  This one’s especially revolting for its badge-licking subtext, but there are many in the genre.

Paint By Numbers

“Fighting sex trafficking” by standing on lawns is so passé:

Two men [are] on a cross-country bike ride…to bring awareness about a serious issue…Mike Rutter and George Cook…started…in Santa Monica California on May 24…When it gets tough, Cook says they think about why they are riding.  “The more uncomfortable the day, the more we realize about the discomfort of the girls being human trafficked and sexually exploited,” said Cook…It’s part of Bright Hope’s “Break the Chains Cycling Tour”…Rutter [said] “It’s like a mission.  I feel like a Navy Seal…The girls we are trying to do this for, they don’t have a choice what’s happening to them that day so we’re going to plow ahead”…

Sex Rays

Imagine any other profession in place of “stripper” and you may get an inkling of how stupid this kind of story looks to sex workers:

…a woman…[climbed] the flagpole at the South Carolina Statehouse…removed the Confederate flag, and then returned to the ground where she was [arrested]…Many believe that Bree Newsome was courageous for her act…however someone who claims to know her stated that she did it all for fame and to show off her ex-stripper skills…

Surplus Women (#550) 

What kind of warped mind sees arresting potential victims as a solution to dealing with a serial killer?  “Police in [Chillicothe] Ohio…have announced a crackdown on drugs and prostitution…[as] part of a larger investigation centered on several drug-addicted women who went missing…

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