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Posts Tagged ‘harm reduction’

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…

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Backpage [is a]…bête noire for…misguided meddlers—a symbolic entity on which to project all their moral- and techno-panic concerning prostitution in the Internet era.  –  Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Rough TradeAnthony Riley

In the US, she would’ve been arrested when she reported the rape to cops:

A man who raped a sex worker in a brutal knifepoint attack in Leeds has been jailed for ten years…Anthony Riley…dragged her to the ground by her hair and punched and kicked her before putting a knife to her throat and raping her.  He ran off after the attack, taking two mobile phones that had fallen out of the victim’s bra [with which he was later found]…

A Tale That Grew in the Telling

Dude claims that 1% of the world’s population is “enslaved” and says he runs a top-secret organization of nuns who pose as whores to infiltrate brothels.  I am not making this up:

An army of religious sisters who rescue victims of human trafficking by posing as prostitutes to infiltrate brothels and buying children being sold into slavery, is expanding to 140 countries…John Studzinski, an investment banker and philanthropist who chairs Talitha Kum, said the network of 1,100 sisters currently operates in about 80 countries but the demand for efforts to combat trafficking and slavery was rising globally.  The group…estimates one percent of the world’s population is trafficked in some form, which translates into some 73 million people.  Of those, 70 percent are women and half are aged 16 or younger.  “I’m not trying to be sensational but…this is a world…where dark forces are active,” said Studzinski…He [fantasized aloud about] one woman…who was locked up for a week without food, forced to eat own her faeces, when she failed to have sex with a target of 12 clients a day…

Just curious, John; do the nuns have sex with clients while “infiltrating brothels”?  If not, why aren’t they locked up and forced to eat shit?  Or is that just a clever metaphor for what you’ve tricked Reuters reporters into doing in this story?

The Pro-Rape Coalition 

Long-time readers will remember that I’ve made similar points in the past:

Third-wave feminists are the best friends a rapist could ask for.  With their promotion of the idea of “rape culture”—the notion that images and culture propel men to hate and harm women—they have done more than anyone to diminish rapists’ responsibility for their foul crimes.  And the evidence suggests rapists are really grateful…30 years on from Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon’s scaremongering over porn and its impact on the putty-like male mind, feminists are still depicting porn as the instigator of criminal activity. And in the process they’re excuse-making for criminals…In the New StatesmanSarah Ditum argued that…men are almost possessed by porn…[which] takes hold of us…and drives us, automaton-like, to evil…

The Mote and the Beam

Previous Senate hearings of this same ilk have included the ones against communists, comic books and “dirty” music lyrics:

Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer is refusing to participate in the U.S. government witch-hunt against his company, and for that he may face criminal charges.  Ferrer failed to show up on Capitol Hill [on November 19th] despite a subpoena to testify before a Senate committee about Backpage’s alleged involvement in sex trafficking.  Now a…group of senators is calling for his head…Ferrer’s attorneys told legislators that he would be out of the country and unable to make the hearing.  Were he to attend, they added, he would likely invoke his fifth amendment right not to self-incriminate…

The Crumbling Dam

It’s strange that Washington, which is so regressive on sex work, is moving forward so quickly on drugs:

Safe drug sites—places people can use illicit drugs under medical supervision—are coming to Seattle, advocates say…Dr. Caleb Banta-Green…[of] the University of Washington…says such locations are a public-health no-brainer…This matters, he says, in a city where 70 percent of injection-drug users are infected with hepatitis C.  The site would be the first of its kind in the United States…Every single member of the incoming City Council…say they either support or are open to safe drug sites.  Mayor Ed Murray also says he’d consider [them]…Vancouver, B.C., has had a “supervised injection facility” for over a decade…InSite…consists of little stalls where people can prepare and inject their drug of choice, with medical staff standing by in case of overdose and to connect people with treatment services if they want them…A 2011 study in The Lancet found that InSite’s creation correlated with a large drop in drug deaths in the surrounding neighborhood.  And while it’s seen more than a thousand overdoses…there has never been a single fatality…InSite also reduced public injecting, lowered syringe sharing, and increased participation in addiction treatment—all without any discernible negative side effects.  It even seems to save taxpayers money

A Broker in Pillage

Once again, the British government displays its dedication to literally robbing sex workers of their life savings:

A former prostitute and brothel keeper…may have to sell her house after a judge gave her six months to hand over [£50,000]…under the Proceeds of Crime Act.  Lucy Whelan…was convicted 10 years ago of running a brothel in Gloucester but at that time she had assets of only £300…Last week, however, she was back before the court after the prosecution discovered that subsequent to her conviction her parents had bought her a house in Bristol to help her get back on her feet…Judge Michael Cullum…gave her six months to pay and said if she does not she will go to prison for 18 months…

Note again the weird “pay back” euphemism; the money wasn’t taken from the government in the first place, so it can’t be paid “back” to the government.  This is just a means of making armed robbery seem like compelling a debtor to pay money she legitimately owed.

Above the Law 

These are the people “feminists” want in charge of sex workers:

On March 20th, a female inmate was being transported from Brooklyn to Rikers Island when she claims she was brutally sexually assaulted by one of the [jailers] on the bus. The attack, which lasted more than 15 minutes, was witnessed by another guard who did nothing to protect the victim but stayed to watch…the attack…occurred after she and a male inmate had had consensual sex on a bus during transport. The male inmate…paid the guard to leave the two of them alone [but] when the guard returned…he decided he wanted a turn, too…[the prisoner] says she begged the guard raping her to wear a condom.  He ignored her…

Above the Law (#47)

Scotland Yard “apologizes” for letting cops create fake identities, seduce women into thinking they were having real relationships, get them pregnant and then vanish without any concern about child support:

Scotland Yard has settled legal claims from seven female activists who said undercover police had formed “intimate sexual relationships” with them while investigating protest movements.  The police apologized Friday for the “totally unacceptable” behaviour of a number of undercover officers in the now-disbanded units.  The financial terms of the settlement are being kept secret…The women claimed they were traumatized by the deception, which in some cases lasted for years…two of the undercover police had fathered children with women from the groups they had infiltrated…a criminal investigation and a misconduct investigation is continuing…

Protest against undercover rapistsGregory Katz of the AP says they only “claimed” they were traumatized.  Just imagine how you would feel if your partner, with whom you had a child, suddenly vanished and you later discovered he or she was a pig spying on you in an attempt to chain and cage you and all of your friends.  Imagine how that would affect your ability to form new relationships in the future, then tell me they only “claimed” they were traumatized.  Fuck you, Mr. Katz.

Monsters 

Trans people have been hanged, stoned to death and even killed by their own parents, according to a new report.  It highlights the tragedies of 271 trans and gender-variant people…who were murdered in the last 12 months.  Thirty-seven were 21 years old or younger.  Brazil (118 murders) and Mexico (34)…lead the list…The USA has seen 27 killings of trans people, an increase of 17 from last year…But even these…are likely just the tip of the iceberg.  Media organizations…are often guilty of misgendering the victims…making it even more difficult to get a real sense of the problem…

Available Weapon

As long as these laws exist, amateurs will be harmed by them as well:

Southern California authorities have apologized to a South Carolina nurse who was incorrectly charged with prostitution and had to fly across the country to clear up the paperwork mix-up.  Kendra Dawn Speed, 37, was told by her employer…that a background check revealed she was wanted on a warrant out of Riverside County, California…Even though she’d briefly lived in Los Angeles, Speed had never set foot in Riverside County — and had never been a prostitute.  After being told the issue couldn’t be resolved over the phone…[she]  hopped on a flight to California the next morning [and] appeared in Riverside County court, where a judge issued a new warrant for Kendra Michelle Speed, born in 1981, not Kendra Dawn Speed, born in 1978…

Lying Down With Dogs (#427)

What wonderful company the US is in!

The Tajik Parliament wants to abolish sex work.  They are introducing harsher measures…hoping this will deter sex workers…sex workers caught breaking the law for the first time will be required to pay double what they paid in the past.  If the same sex worker breaks the law a second time, they will face up to 15 days in jail.  Under Tajik law, sex work is not a criminal offense.  However, sex workers in Tajikistan are penalised…in the form of fines….[the law] is used by police to target sex workers for extortion under threat of fines, arrest, and detention…In most cases when sex workers are arrested, they are brought to a police department where there is an “investigation”.  Sometimes sex workers are subjected to gynaecological exams for sexually transmitted infections, which is a humiliating procedure that violates their human rights…

Full of Themselves (#535)

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

Work permits are being handed to foreign massage therapists at a rate of one a week, prompting concerns that a number of massage parlours are serving as a front for prostitution…In all, 508 employment licences for female massage therapists were issued in the past 10 years, going up to 93 permits last year from a mere 23 in 2006.  A Chinese former massage parlour worker told The Sunday Times of Malta that “some ladies who come here as massage therapists are sex workers…in Malta, they earn at least €4,000 a month, but they declare some €700.  Some pocket much more, especially if they are young,” she said…police sources said their experience supported her views that a substantial percentage of massage parlours did in fact provide sex services…

Traffic Circle (#569)

Glenn Kessler does it again:

…Throughout 2015, The Fact Checker has dug into dubious statistics concerning sex trafficking, so this recent speech by Attorney General Lynch caught our eye…Lynch spoke of “hundreds of sex traffickers” and the FBI release only mentioned “more than 150 pimps.”  How does that math work?…a DOJ spokesman…blamed an editing error when Lynch’s speech was written…Neither DOJ nor the FBI can provide evidence that “hundreds of sex traffickers” have been arrested through [all years combined of] Operation Cross Country — unless one plays fast and loose with legal language.  The FBI…used to reveal exactly how many people were rounded up through Cross Country, essentially exposing the fact that the effort to find exploited children also led to the arrests of hundreds of adult prostitutes and their customers…The FBI [pretends] no one under the age of 18 is arrested…after 2010, the “others” arrested was dropped from the news releases.  Instead, officials only listed the number of juveniles recovered and “pimps” arrested…FBI officials [pretend] they no longer report these numbers because this is a matter for local jurisdiction…government officials appear to believe they can boost their success rate by slapping the word “sex trafficker” on adults who have been arrested even though such charges have not — and could not— be brought in a court of law…

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Last year, my husband had a drunk night out and called several prostitutes, but claims that no actual sex ever occurred.  I have all of the numbers he called.  Is there any way I could approach these women and ask whether one of them saw my husband that night?  I feel like I’m fairly open minded, but in my book, sex outside of a marriage is cheating, period, and I just need to know.  Is this a foolish endeavor?lips sealed

Well, it’s a futile one.  It is extremely unlikely that any of the ladies will answer that question; our professional ethics forbid it.  More than anything else, what a man is paying for when he sees a professional is discretion; if it got around that a sex worker had betrayed one of her clients to his wife (or anyone else), word would quickly get around and her reputation would be sunk.  There is a small chance someone might slip and give you info that she absolutely shouldn’t, but the chance is vanishingly small; you’d probably have similar luck calling a clinic to ask if your husband had been treated there.  Even if he really did see a pro that night, please understand that it has absolutely no bearing on his feelings for you; men sometimes just think with the wrong head, and it’s our job to minimize the harm that can come from that.  And if it continues to bug you, you might consider talking to a wise friend or counsellor so as to let off the stress before it ends up hurting your marriage over something that may not even really have happened.

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

 

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Why is it so hard for us to see how profoundly a $100 billion illegal market in anything, even in popcorn or “My Little Pony” toys, would distort a society?  –  Danielle Allen

Good Fantasy, Bad Reality Dr Blakemore

So how would Dr. Blakemore react to an amateur physician injuring someone through incompetence?

A female GP who left her businessman lover covered in bleeding welts following a caning session has been cleared of assault.  The sex life of Elvira Blakemore, 41 and James Austin, a 57-year-old businessman, culminated in a trial…the couple began to experiment sexually after Dr Blakemore was said to have been interested in the fantasies portrayed in the film, 50 Shades of Grey…At the heart of the case was whether the caning amounted to assault or was, as the GP insisted, purely consensual…On one occasion, Mr Austin told the court, she hit him with the cane after he had passed out on their bed.  “She was violently hitting me with the cane very many times on the back.  There was a cut on my cheek also, but she just kept going and by the end there was blood on the bed,” he said…

Forward and Backward

The fact that “prostitution-free zones” are unconstitutional never deters politicians:

Police in North Carolina could soon have the authority to designate “public safety zones” and ban citizens arrested for certain crimes within those areas from returning for up to a year.  Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department officials are flirting with the plan, which was tried with limited success in other cities and briefly used to target prostitution in Charlotte a decade ago…The plan…would allow police commanders to designate a section of the city as a “public safety zone” in response to specific crimes and aggressively police that area.  Anyone arrested for one of the targeted crimes inside the safety zone would face a one-year ban…

Change a Few Words

Need I point out that the War on Whores is the same?

…The drug war is a perfect example of the breakdown of the rule of law and the knock-on effects of such a breakdown.  Our drug laws are fundamentally unenforceable, and this distorts the judicial system, including by producing prosecutorial overload, which is a driver of low homicide clearance rates, which beget a culture of increasing violence, which puts more fathers of young children behind bars or under the ground, makes it harder for children in poor, urban areas to walk to school safely, and forces on those children a choice between the culture of the schools, inside the rule of law, and the culture of the streets, outside the rule of law…

The Sky is Falling!

Radhika’s clutching her pearls so hard she’s about to break them:

…Porn is no longer shocking.  It has become normalised to the point where young children are getting their first sex education lessons via RedTube.  Recent studies show that pupils as young as 11 watch pornography…The consequences have been severe.  These porn videos showed a one-sided, male perspective of sex – with overly-eager girls and absolutely no emphasis on female pleasure.  A number of my peers now have sexual issues they directly relate to porn, such as struggling to orgasm, hating pubic hair and needing “stimulants” such as rough sex in order to come.  As scientists have previously suggested, many can also struggle with intimacy…While girls of my generation would watch porn simply to learn what third base was, now a new generation of girls is watching it for career advice…

Buried Truth Donny Pauling

Vociferous opposition to anything sexual should be considered strong evidence of an attraction to it:

[Porn prohibitionist] Donny Pauling Jr. pleaded no contest…to four felony sex charges involving two minors, a plea deal that would send him to state prison for six years…Pauling, 41, acting as his own attorney, admitted to oral copulation and having sexual intercourse with a victim 14 years old in 2012, continuing into 2014…Pauling also must register as a sexual offender for life…A former Chico-based pornography producer, Pauling had said he found God and traveled to churches around the country as an anti-pornography activist…

Innocence Never Had

Prax(us)…will shutter its doors this December.  The nonprofit set itself apart from the army of Christian anti-sex-trafficking organizations that demand participants be abstinent and sober, by focusing specifically on homeless youth in exploitative situations and offering individuals support without judgement.  Prax(us) didn’t require youth be sober.  It didn’t require them to work with law enforcement.  It didn’t stigmatize youth for criminal activities or participating in sex-work…encouraged clients to reduce harm by learning about and practicing safer drug use and safer sex.  Staff handed out condoms, dental dams and lube, and referred clients to the local syringe exchange where they could trade dirty needles for clean ones…Refusing to turn away active sex workers limited the amount of money Prax(us) could get from government grants.  Foundations preferred money that went to clear-cut human trafficking cases — not services for sex workers who don’t feel exploited…

Femme Fatale (#409)

Since neither medical episodes nor deaths suffered at Nevada’s brothels are publicly available statistics, how often does it actually happen?  And what are the protocols for when they occur?…We interviewed employees at three of Nevada’s 20-plus legal brothels, all of whom denied that anyone has ever had a medical episode at their establishments…Bella Cummins, owner of Bella’s Hacienda Ranch…[claimed] the prostitutes are all so good at their jobs, no John so much as passes out…However, according to one Swiss report, seven customers died while visiting brothels between 2004 and 2014.  And that’s just in Switzerland.  An American Heart Association report found that 93 percent of married men who died of sudden death during sex did so due to extra-marital sex in unfamiliar settings—both of which increase stress levels…

Stupor Bowl (#424)

The Bay Area tries desperately to cash in on the “gypsy whore” myth before it collapses completely:

Preparation for Super Bowl 50 has been well underway for more than a year and includes a massive collaboration amongst local law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and the FBI as criminals engaged in human trafficking are anticipated to take advantage…officials are certain federal and local agencies must work together to crack down on pimps and Johns while assisting victims.  For the ninth year, the FBI is setting up a human trafficking operation center while bringing in additional agents and intelligence analysts specifically in response to the Super Bowl…In previous host cities, there’s been “an increase in activity with respect to…sex trafficking and the exploitation of juveniles and minors around the Super Bowl”…[FBI agent Bertram] Fairries [lied]…

Dysphemisms Galore (#565)

Amber Batts, convicted as a “sex trafficker” for running exactly the same kind of business I did, has sent a letter to supporters from prison:

I have lost much through this ordeal, but the one thing I cannot ever replace is time…I am…unable to call my family or friends unless there is an expensive phone account set up and prepaid…I ran an escort agency…but I was more than that person.  I was a mom and a friend.  I paid my bills, my taxes, I was a wife, I had hobbies…I will continue to have hope as I live what feels like a surreal nightmare at times…

New Excuse (#568)

I love Liz Brown, and I mean that in whatever way she finds most appealing:

…the tough-on-crime approach to sex-trafficking is about arresting as many people as possible and wresting as many assets as possible from them, not legitimately helping sex trafficking victims (legitimately helping people means paying attention to what they actually need, not threatening them with arrest if they don’t testify against others or sending them to church-run “prostitution diversion” camps or giving them bags filled with socks and toiletries and calling it a day.) Just look at the language used by Marinus Analytics, a company getting lots of attention for using big data analysis to aid in human trafficking investigations. In its intro, Marinus promises to help cops and prosecutors “focus your attention to high value criminal targets” and “track the highest value criminal targets in less time.”  The assets that can be seized are the prize, the teens selling sex are just convenient cover…

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Off Limits

I think married men should be off limits for prostitutes.  Why don’t you care about other women?

Cheating.How do you propose whores determine a man’s marital status, demand he produce his certificate of bachelorhood?  You do realize a married man looks exactly like an unmarried one, don’t you?  Frankly, it’s not our responsibility to determine which men are married, just like it isn’t a bartender’s job to guess which of his customers may belong to a religion that forbids drinking.  If a man wants to have extracurricular sex he’s going to, and there’s nothing his wife or any whore within driving range can do to stop that; even if we had some sort of professional code against providing services to married men, they’d simply lie and say they weren’t married.  However, it would be really stupid for us to make such a code, even if it could somehow be enforced; for one thing, married men make up easily 75% of our clients, and for another you wouldn’t actually WANT us to stop seeing them, even though you believe that you do.  As I wrote almost five years ago in “Harm Reduction“,

…at least two-thirds of married men will at least occasionally seek extramarital sex.  No woman has any way of knowing whether the man she chooses will be a member of the minority who is able to resist temptation, so if she defines a “successful marriage” as one in which her husband never strays she is playing Russian Roulette with at least four bullets.  But if she defines it as one in which her husband’s probable infidelities cause no overt damage, difficulty or social consequences, all she need do is keep him from getting involved with amateurs…whores allow men to cheat in a managed fashion and thereby minimize harm to their wives and children.  Far from being a “social evil” as it usually referred to in the United States, prostitution is a positive good because it provides a controlled outlet for male sexual impulses which might otherwise cause tremendous problems, including (but by no means limited to) rape and broken marriages.  While it’s true that for a wife to discover her husband has been patronizing whores might damage their marriage, would an affair or constant pressure for unwanted sex do any less?…

Insecure women may refer to sex workers as “homewreckers”, but in fact we save far more marriages than we destroy because we allow men to manage the sexual impulses their wives either can’t or won’t cater to, and which they would otherwise follow into affairs which might indeed wreck the home.  Finally, married men are the safest of clients; they have good boundaries and aren’t likely to get obsessed, fall in love or turn into stalkers.  They come to us precisely because they want to stay married, so they choose to dally with women who are absolutely not going to jeopardize their marriages by getting involved with them.

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

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I am the secret ingredient in a lot of healthy marriages, because when he’s seeing me, both of you are getting the amount of sex you want. – April Adams

Harm Reduction

As I always say, we save far more marriages than we wreck:

…if your husband is seeing me, it’s because he wants to stay married…Imagine if instead of me it was the babysitter, your neighbor, your best friend…I’m a professional.  I am discreet, but more than that I am discrete:  My time, attention, and sexuality are measured in hours, beyond which he is yours.  And importantly, I don’t love your husband and never will…I will never be a threat to your marriage because when I’m off the clock I don’t want anything to do with either of you…

Divided We Fall

I wish gay people stuck up for whores as often as whores stick up for them:

A gay man…in…Italy…who worked as a chef in a restaurant was often harassed by his manager…one night, his manager told him that he “had to prove to the rest of the staff [I] was not gay by having sex with a prostitute…I met Marta, a Romanian girl.  I explained her the situation and she accepted.  We went back to the restaurant, where my manager spoke with her and told her what she had to do…We then went to a room to have sex, but I could not manage…The manager then gave €40 to the prostitute while my colleagues started asking the woman whether I was gay or straight.  She replied I was fine, but they did not believe her.”  A few days after the episode, Marco decided to sue his manager…

Above the Law 

Cops say it’s not “fair” that they were fired, merely for gang-raping a teenage girl at gunpoint:

They were arrested for sexual abuse involving a minor, but now…[Illinois cops] Steven…Bonynge…and Seth Degelman [have filed suit]…the victim was “slightly under the age of 17.”  In other words, she was 16…Bonynge…used a weapon in the commission of the [rape]…

I’m Sure You Feel Safer Now

A man’s career is destroyed for seeking consensual sex:

Basketball analyst and former NBA player Greg Anthony was suspended indefinitely by CBS…after he was arrested on a charge of soliciting a prostitute in a Washington, D.C., hotel room…Anthony…issued a statement…apologizing to his wife, family and colleagues…Anthony was suspected of using a computer as part of the crime, and that his arrest was part of an undercover operation targeting prostitution.  The hotel is less than a mile from the White House…

What possible fucking difference does the computer or the hotel’s location make?  Does the reporter wish the audience to fear that the President was endangered by evil sex rays?

Broken Record

This would be hilarious except that the “authorities” are destroying real people’s lives in furtherance of a rather pedestrian wanking fantasy:

The Detroit Auto Show draws thousands to the Motor City.  And…that means…the demand for sex spikes…The Department of Homeland Security is fighting the transport of mostly young women, many of them underage, against their will.  “When you have a big international event like this…there is a sex trafficking industry that springs up around it,” [fantasized] Special Agent Michael Ball.  They are likely lurking at the bars and hotels…Pimps [use] websites like Priceline.com to book hotel rooms…websites like Backpage.com have…graphic catch lines like, “meat is fresh.”  Code, for someone new has been brought to town…Officials want you to be on the lookout for young people…[with] tattoos on the neck or thigh…

See also “A Mound of Filth” below.

Public Property

Dudes pretend responsibility for women’s abortions, because you know we silly women can’t make decisions like that for ourselves and are therefore totally dependent on male guidance.

A Tale That Grew in the Telling (#339)

This is mostly just the usual lurid “survivor” masturbatory fantasy (in this case intended to hawk a book), but it contains only the second instance I’ve seen of this literally impossible claim: “‘They…were queuing up outside…If I did 40 to 50 people, that would be nothing’…On one particular night, she says she had sex with 110 men before being violently sick…

Number Puzzle (#402)

And this is why I call Wendy Lyon “indispensable”:

…the Swedish police’s…2013 report…just repeats…the 2011 report…trafficking statistics are pretty much meaningless, because they only measure what officials detect and identify as trafficking, which doesn’t necessarily coincide with the actual amount of activity taking place that fits the legal definition of “trafficking”.  But…if this was a Dutch or German study showing a 95% increase in sex trafficking in a single year, don’t you think we’d be hearing all about it…[to paraphrase one statement]:  “In cases where women are exploited in prostitution in Sweden but not willing or able to cooperate with law enforcement, they may be deported, because we don’t want their kind here”…previous claims [were that] that traffickers avoid Sweden because they can’t make any money there.  15 years of the sex purchase ban, and police say that traffickers are still moving victims to Sweden in order to “maximize their profits”.  What does that tell you about how effective they think their law really is?…trafficking victims…[are] only [valuable] to Sweden…as a law-enforcement tool…the Swedish state uses them for its own purposes, and then discards them like unwanted goods…

One-line version: the Swedish model is a failure, and the Swedes know it.

Learning Curve (All Traffick, All the Time)

Remember the big “Super Bowl sex trafficking bust” the cops were crowing about last January?

TMZ, the New York Daily News and other media outlets face a federal action from a woman arrested in what they hyped as the “Super Bowl Prostitution Bust.”  Janice Lee…sales account manager for an international seller of wigs and hair products…[was libeled] when various media outlets reported the juicy details of a prostitution ring’s takedown…”The statements told defendants’ audience that Mrs. Lee is a whore; that she is a drug dealer; that she is part of a gang”…TMZ’s article…mentions that wig shops were among the “phony businesses” that pimps used to funnel millions in “sex profits”…In addition to saying that Lee belonged to “a small army of Asian hookers”…TMZ also published her picture…

A Mound of Filth

Here’s a heaping helping of the usual “trafficking” feces served up Arizona style, with lots of lurid detail for the salivating reader to masturbate to.  It does, however, have a few interesting details, such as “the Super Bowl…has been dogged by claims that it brings…a rise in underage girls for sale…an idea that even anti-trafficking activists now say isn’t grounded in fact.”  I like to think I had a major role in dynamiting that particular toilet.  Then there’s the “dog crate” trope:  “…She would have sex with as many as five men each day….[and] be kept in a dog crate for hours at a time…” Given that this one seems limited to Arizona, one must wonder why dogs and sex seem so inextricably linked in the minds of “authorities” there.Dominique Roe-Sepowitz  But the real money shot is from arch-fanatic Dominique Roe-Sepowitz:

…Roe-Sepowitz…said…women should be seen as trafficking victims even if they are not…controlled by a pimp…her belief, widely shared by other [prohibitionists], is that most women enter the trade at a young age…”I believe every adult (prostitute), I believe almost every single one of them was trafficked…Someone coached them into that life”…women can be being forced into prostitution by their life situation. She referred to it as “trafficked by circumstances”…

Business As Usual

As usual, the media and everyone else are pretending this is an unusual policy, when in fact it is the norm everywhere in the United States:

A police officer in Arkansas recently lost his job after he exposed a massive scheme that allowed officers to have sex with prostitutes and then arrest them…The way that Former Fort Smith…Sgt. Don Paul Bales’ department had it set up, cops would “prove” that they weren’t really police officers, by having sex with prostitutes…[Bales has sued to get] his job back…

False Witness

And those who wish to manufacture “sex trafficking victims” can use exactly the same methods:

Innocent people can be questioned by police in such a way that they end up convincing themselves that they’ve committed a crime.  And this belief can be so strong, they can sometimes follow that belief up with a false confession…a study…from the University of Bedfordshire in the UK…found that…“false memories of committing crime with police contact can be surprisingly easy to generate, and can have all the same kinds of complex details as real memories…All participants need to generate a richly detailed false memory is three hours in a friendly interview environment, where the interviewer introduces a few wrong details and uses poor memory-retrieval techniques”…of 30 students who were told they’d committed a crime in their teenage years…71 percent…ended up developing a false memory of the event…

A Year Later

Despite the Harper government’s best efforts to convince them otherwise, Canadians still don’t want the state butting into their consensual sexual transactions.  That’s the results of a new Forum Research poll…which shows…only 27 percent of Canadians support that law, while 52 percent oppose it outright…Even among Conservative supporters…only 37 percent support the bill, while more than four in ten oppose it.  When asked if they support legalizing sex work outright, 54 percent of the country is onboard, with a third disagreeing…

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Dr. Paul Maginn is an Associate Professor of Urban Planning at the University of Western Australia; he is the co-editor and co-author of several chapters in the recently published book (Sub)Urban Sexscapes:  Geographies and Regulation of the Sex Industry.  I asked him to comment on his book and explain why a planner & geographer is so interested in sex work.

Suburban SexscapesAt social events whenever we meet someone new for the first time it can be guaranteed that they will ask, “So, what do you do for a living?”  In the past, my stock response was generally:  “I’m an academic…an urban planner”!  The stock replies to this usually range from:  “Oh! What does that mean?” to “Oh, that’s nice! I have to go now because there’s my friend over there”.  You see, being an academic doesn’t seem to capture too many non-academic peoples’ attention.  So nowadays, when I’m asked what I do for a living I say:  “I’ll give you three guesses”.  I do this because it’s a good way to sustain conversation, it can be fun, and it’s a way of testing people’s perception of oneself.

Invariably, posing this question to people seems to immediately get their imaginations racing; it’s something of a “loaded” question, after all.  Hence, people start to think that you do something weird, exciting, dangerous or risqué for a living.  Whilst I was in my hometown of Belfast, Northern Ireland, in July 2013 I had the pleasure of meeting up with activist Laura Lee, who was on tour at the time.  We were sitting outside a well-known bar having a drink when a woman and her adult nephew, out celebrating the latter’s birthday, asked if they could sit at our table.  Of course, being sociable creatures we said, “Sure, no problems!  But you may want to avert your ears because of our conversation”.  They laughed and insisted that they were big enough not to be offended by whatever we were discussing.

Sure enough, this being Belfast, the nephew turned to us shortly after sitting down and said: “So what do yous’ do for a living?”  Laura and I looked at one another, smirked and replied:  “We’ll give you three guesses!”  Then without skipping a beat Laura replied in her Dublin burr:  “I’m a professional dominatrix!”  The nephew was dumbfounded, even more so when Laura presented him with her business card.  He excitedly asked if he could keep the card, adding quickly, “Not that I want to book you or anything”.  Then he looked me up and down and asked, “Are you in porn?”  Laura Lee can testify on a Sisters of Mercy bible that this actually happened!  I replied:  “Close, but no cigar.  I’m not in porn.  But, I’m into porn!”  I qualified this by explaining that I was an academic planner who researched the geographies and regulation of the sex industry and was working on a book on the subject.

So, what do planners and planning have to do with the sex industry? When commercial forms of sex – street- or brothel-based sex work; adult entertainment (e.g. stripping, lap-dancing or pornography); BDSM services; and sex shops, novelty stores or erotic boutiques – manifest they require spaces or premises to operate from.  This is where planning and zoning come into play.  Put simply, planning is concerned with trying to create “orderly” spaces by ensuring that there is a place for everything, and that everything is in its place via zoning.  Planners basically use rationality and technical skills to ascertain whether or not certain land-uses should permitted; however, when commercial sex premises are presented for planning/zoning approval they are often hijacked and held for political and moral ransom by politicians and others who often vehemently object to such proposals, even when such land-uses are perfectly legal.

It is this politicisation of planning and the wider politics and political rhetoric that tend to surround commercial sex industry activities that particularly interest me as an academic.  I’ve done some work looking at how state politicians in Western Australia (WA) have framed sex work in the wake of proposals to introduce legislation to regulate street- and brothel-based sex work.  In short, the political debates here in WA (and elsewhere in Australia for that matter) tend to be informed and dominated by moral arguments as opposed to evidence.  The same also applies to Northern Ireland, which recently passed the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Bill.  This Bill, when it finally receives Royal Assent, will see the introduction of the so-called Swedish Model of regulation of sex work.

There has been a fervent (some might say unhealthy) over-interest by governments, certain religious organisations and some branches of the feminist movement, in the sex lives of citizens.  Such over-interest has spurred the introduction (or efforts to introduce) legislation designed to exclude sex shops, curtail the number of strip clubs, prevent people from downloading “extreme porn” and criminalising the purchaser of sex services.  I am not suggesting for one minute that there should be no regulation of the different sectors of the sex industry, and neither do the various sex workers I know.  But recent efforts to regulate different forms of sex work are akin to using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.  It also seems fairly clear from observing proceedings in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Canada, for example, that politicians have little regard for the nuanced evidence on sex work and the “Swedish model”. I mean, who needs evidence when you have blind faith on your side?

Moreover, they seem to have contempt for the real experts in the field – sex workers – and a fixation that sex work is populated only by “fallen women” in need of “rescue”.  But sex work is a highly complex form of labour that takes places in a variety of spaces – streets, cars, bars, hotels, casinos, brothels, houses/apartments and the internet – and involves people who identify as female, male transgender and intersectional, who are straight, queer and bisexual, and who come from a range of nationalities and ethnic backgrounds.  Whilst sex is obviously a key facet of the transactional relationship between sex workers and clients, there is much more to sex work than just sex.

If governments were sincere about reducing harm to sex workers, their efforts would be better placed on protecting the human and workplace rights of sex workers.  As we know, banning, prohibiting or over-taxing particular goods and services (e.g. alcohol, tobacco, drugs, pornography and diesel) merely creates alternative unregulated markets which are often controlled by criminal elements; they thus represent a loss of tax revenue for governments and pose a higher risk to people (the very thing that governments claim they want to reduce).  Government regulation of the sex industry needs to be measured, pragmatic and evidence-based; policies premised on stereotypes, religious beliefs and moral superiority do more harm than good and result in unintended consequences.

So, next time you’re at a party, a wedding, Bar Mitzvah or funeral and you happen to bump into an urban planner why not say to them:  “Let’s talk about sex”?  I’m sure you’ll make their day, but be sure to clarify what you mean if you want to avoid them thinking that you’re coming on to them. 

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