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Posts Tagged ‘harm reduction’

Even those who mean well are often operating with bullshit information when it comes to figuring out how to help sex workers.  –  Tristan Greene

Where Are the Victims?

In which renting rooms to people in a legal trade is pretended to be a “crime”:

Paul McGrory…sub-let a three bedroom house to prostitutes over a nine month period in 2016…McGrory…charged the women £350 per week for each room…the prosecution [admitted] McGrory was not involved in human trafficking and had not coerced the prostitutes, taken a cut of their earnings or…obtain[ed] clients for the[m, but felt compelled to pontificate that]…”You were not a pimp, but by your activities you have upset the good law abiding people of Argyle Street”…The judge…imposed [60 hours of community service and] three year[s of]…probation…

With Friends Like These…

What kind of warped mind quotes prohibitionist myths while claiming it wants to “help” sex workers?

A recent report from KIRO 7 on sex workers on Seattle’s…Aurora Ave….[gave lip service to] the increased dangers in the profession [created by prohibitionists].  But is there a way the city could actually help?…“Women who experience prostitution have a rate of PTSD that’s twice that of returning war veterans,” [lied prohibitionist] Alisa Bernard…“In a city where we’re going to have safe injection sites, there are not safe places for [street workers] to go to exchange money for sex,” said The Ron and Don Show’s Don O’Neill on KIRO Radio…“I know that kids sometimes become sex slaves.  I know those stories…The johns want to be left alone, and the prostitutes want to be left alone, so why not tax it?…Why not make sure that they are safe?  If they want a way out, why not help them with a way out?”…

The popular myth that sex workers don’t pay taxes is probably one of the most subtly damaging ones.

No Difference 

Statists tell us that the slippery slope is a “fallacy”:

[Ugandan] model and socialite Judith Heard was asked to pay $3,000 in blackmail money to stop her stolen nude selfies being published online…she…didn’t pay up and…her…photos…were [published]…followed by a warrant for her arrest…under Uganda’s Anti-Pornography Act…the Ugandan…Pornography Control Committee (PCC)…issue[s] arrest warrants for…women who[se]…nude pictures and sex tapes [a]re shared online without their consent…PCC chair Annette Kezaabu…[bloviated] “We know that she took this photo privately, but…why did she take it in the first place?…Where do we want to see Uganda in the next 50 years? Do we want to be led by perverts?”…She said the government’s “eventual aim is to have no footage of sex or nudity on TV whatsoever,” and that the committee intends to “go after” pop stars who wear revealing clothing…

Traffic in Nonsense

Since Quickel’s “Vigilante Truckers” got out-competed by “Truckers Against Trafficking”, he apparently decided to rebrand:

The organization Vigilante Truth [cl]aims…sex trafficking…is a growing epidemic in Charlotte…North Carolina…“We’re not law enforcement,” said Bo Quickel, the owner of Vigilante Truth, “we’re just citizens out here trying to [profit from] the [hysteria by spreading myths to] the public”…Quickel…explained [that women are so stupid we can’t take selfies or run a business on our own, so]…“there’s somebody else there taking the picture…and that person’s always going to be a pimp, a trafficker, a handler…none of them get any of the money, so it’s all about forced coercion, fraud, blackmail”…

Even by “sex trafficking” standards, Quickel’s misogyny is outrageous; all of his propaganda presents women as inert vegetables.  Once he even compared us to bottles of laundry detergent.

Virtual Unreality 

Why do “futurists” prefer to make ignorant statements about sex work rather than consulting sex workers?

A recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Surrey and the University of Oxford [fantasizes] that autonomous cars will usher in…a new paradigm for sex workers…within a few years – a decade, tops…they could provide a safe place for people to be alone in public…there are obvious reasons why sex workers shouldn’t visit client’s homes under most circumstances, or allow them to visit theirs…Driverless cars provide a solution…both the non-participating public and those engaging in sex work could benefit from a paradigm that keeps prostitutes out of seedy motels and off the sidewalks by putting them on the streets, inside warm cars full of security features and snacks…

Though the writer clearly means well (and even quotes yours truly), he’s too caught up in this silly fantasy to see the gaping holes in it.  First, there’s the typical belief that street workers are common, when in fact less than 10% of us work that way (and that number was shrinking before the US government started intentionally destroying advertising venues).  The “obvious reasons” why we “shouldn’t” do outcalls or incalls aren’t “obvious” to either me or the very large number of escorts in the developed world, making this a solution in search of a problem for us.  Robot cars have 27% higher rates of rider motion sickness than human-piloted vehicles, meaning some 6-10% of riders, and there would be no way to be sure that their insides were not full of hidden surveillance devices; in any regime where sex work was not 100% decriminalized, robot cars could lock their doors and transport both sex worker and client to the nearest pigpen.  And though these futurists tout such vehicles as “safer” for sex workers, imagine trying to escape a violent client in an area too small to get out of his grip which is also going at 100 kph down a motorway.  It’s rare that an epigram I choose is so correct, yet so ironic in context.

Full of Themselves (#807) 

As I predicted, it looks like Rubmaps may become the new prohibitionist bogeyman to replace Backpage:

Many San Diego Massage parlors are offering [happy endings]…and [yellow journalists] found [what wasn’t hidden:] a public website…[named] “RubMaps” [which] publishes reviews for massage parlors…[there are] 243…listed in San Diego County and, according to the reviews on the website, 173 of those parlors offer sex services…An online company statement [reeks of terror that it will be targeted, parrots “sex trafficking” hysteria and obsequiously promises to lick cop boots]…16 of the 173 parlors that are allegedly offering sex services…are within 1,000 feet of a public school…

Sex rays! Pearl-clutching! Bootlicking! Pretending reviews are a new thing! So much filth in so few words.

Pyrrhic Victory (#814) 

Another step toward the end of privacy, everywhere:

Chinese authorities have begun deploying a new surveillance tool:  “gait recognition” software that uses people’s body shapes and how they walk to identify them, even when their faces are hidden from cameras.  Already used by police on the streets of Beijing and Shanghai, “gait recognition” is part of a push across China to develop artificial-intelligence and data-driven surveillance that is [not] raising [anywhere near enough] concern about how far the technology will go.  Huang Yongzhen, the CEO of Watrix, said that its system can identify people from up to 50 meters…away, even with their back turned or face covered…“Gait analysis can’t be fooled by simply limping, walking with splayed feet or hunching over, because we’re analyzing all the features of an entire body”…Security officials in China’s far-western province of Xinjiang, a region whose Muslim population is already subject to intense surveillance and control, have expressed interest in the software…

Welcome To Our World (#853)

Locking pregnant women in cages for “trafficking” themselves.  Had enough yet?

The Phnom Penh Municipal Police arrested 15 people related to surrogacy who were together in a house in Sen Sok district.   Eleven of the persons…are surrogate mothers, two cooks for the ladies, and two unspecified men…the detainees were sent to the Anti-Human Trafficking Office for [interrogation]…

Whither Canada? (#860)

Why do journalists with the facts in front of them feel compelled to cede ground to prohibitionist lies?  Why do they keep repeating the blatant lie that Canada’s Swedish Model Plus was “meant to protect sex workers” when we have reams of data, including the clear and on-the-record statements of politicians, that exactly the opposite is true?  This law was not intended to “protect” sex workers; it was intended to exterminate us:

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Those of you who follow me on Twitter may remember that on several occasions I’ve tweeted GoFundMe appeals for homeless sex workers, organized by a close friend of mine who does street outreach.  Recently, I asked her to write something for me so that in future, I can point back to it to explain who it is I’m asking charity for.  This lady is a Seattle sex worker who is well-known in our community, but prefers to remain anonymous for her activism.  If you’d like to help her out (because she does 95% of this out of her own pocket), please let me know and I’ll arrange a way for you to donate to her important work.

Like so many things in this industry, it started with Kristen D’Angelo, who contacted me because her friend from Sacremento had a daughter living in Seattle.  Kristen’s friend was concerned his daughter was working on the streets and was hoping to get someone to check on her; she (let’s call her Jess) was homeless, using drugs, and working on Aurora Avenue.  Maggie and I ended up taking her out for dinner.  More than anything, she was surprised that instead of being met with judgement and Jesus, she was met by peers with compassion and kindness (along with some screening tips for seeing clients).  Shortly thereafter, I found out an acquaintance of mine had lost her housing, and she and her boyfriend were living out of their car.  I would go see her once, occasionally twice, a week, bringing lunch or dinner, and we would eat together and talk.  After a couple visits I starting meeting some of the people that they had befriended in their time on the streets.  I was struck by the situations of the women there.  To see women so vulnerable was terrifying…but I wasn’t sure what I could do.  I asked them: what do you need?  How can I help?  While I don’t have a tremendous surfeit of disposable income, I could certainly spend $100 a week buying food for people that badly needed it.  So I did.

Simultaneously, I was keeping in (more sporadic) contact with Jess.  It wasn’t long before I was heading up to Aurora once a week (give or take) as well.  Eventually I was out two or three nights a week talking to young women from Aurora to Belltown to SoDo, both in the jungle and working the streets.  I found myself out at 7pm, 10pm, or midnight walking through the city, talking to people.  Instead of being in Greenlake or Madrona, I found myself in places with appellations like the Batcave and Clowntown; I was under the viaduct and in tent cities along the highway.  Within this world, it takes time to earn trust; there are always, to this day, some women that refuse to talk to me or that I have met five times but act as if they don’t know me…and that’s fine.  For the ones that do talk, I hand out condoms and Narcan.  I bring jackets, food, toiletries, clean socks, and camping propane tanks.  I take girls to Planned Parenthood for panel tests; to emergency shelters; to drop them off at detox.  Many of them, if you asked, would not identify as a sex workers, and if you called them a sex worker, you might get punched in the face.  But, if you said, “if you give me a blowjob, you can sleep in my tent tonight.”  Well, that’s an easy yes!!  Whether they identify as sex workers or not, they know when they see me that religion isn’t coming into the conversation and I am not going to tell them what they should do or have to do.  Giving these women autonomy in their decision-making is very important; even when, in my opinion, they may make a terrible choice, it’s theirs to make and I won’t try to take that away from them.  Similarly, none of the things I hand out have strings attached; the only rules are I will not give out cash or buy drugs.

When I meet women that are open to talking, I may make some harm reduction suggestions or ask them what they need.  Much of the time, I listen.  Many of these women have suffered extensive trauma, have drug abuse issues (the desire to anesthetize a terrible situation is strong), or have mental health problems – or all three.  In addition, there is the pervasive sense of hopelessness that comes with being utterly marginalized and, in effect, thrown away by society; just having someone listen and acknowledge you can be significant.  It definitely isn’t the easiest volunteer path I could have taken.  There have been multiple calls from girls that have been raped, assaulted, or robbed.  I helped a girl that had been thrown out of a moving car by a client, and another girl that was pistol-whipped by her boyfriend.  I’ve Narcan’d people through countless overdoses (if anyone ever needs to be resuscitated – I am a fucking pro).  I’ve been hung up on by police when calling 9-1-1 for help and been told by the paramedics that they “can’t” go where they are needed.  I’ve stepped over dead bodies and had rats the size of Boston Terriers leisurely swagger over my toes.

The other side is that there are happier stories.  I paid out my own pocket for a girl to go to rehab because I believed in her when no one else did; she completed 90 days of treatment and moved back to her parent’s house in Minnesota.  That was over a year ago and she is still clean and sober.  Two girls had been living in and out of motels on Aurora and we worked together to get them into a low-income apartment; two other girls saw what they did and decided they could do it too.  I’ve acted as an advocate for a girl that was brutally raped by a prominent Seattleite; I connected her with a lawyer and could not have been happier for her when she got a ridiculously large settlement.  Money didn’t make the PTSD disappear, but it certainly put her in a situation where she could take time and heal.  Unfortunately, the stories with (ahem) happy endings are exceptionally few and far between; the emotional labor can be intense, overwhelming, and exhausting.  I’ve asked myself more than once why I’m not walking dogs at the Humane Society, and I have spent more hours than I can count crying on Maggie’s couch.  But I very strongly believe that everyone needs some help now and then; if I can help someone make a more informed decision or turn a corner, then it’s worth it.

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Why, in discussions about monogamy, do you use the words “harm reduction” or “pressure valve” to characterize the act of seeing a sex worker within an outwardly-monogamous marriage or partnership?

Every person has the right to control their own sexuality and no one else’s.  What this means in a monogamous marriage is that if a partner (nearly always the wife) loses sexual interest, she has the right to refuse sex; she does not, however, have the right to stop her husband from procuring what he needs elsewhere.  But while this is ethically true, most marriage laws take a dim view of so-called “infidelity” even if the only alternative is celibacy.  And even in jurisdictions where the court isn’t supposed to consider “fault”, in fact many judges do, and a husband who is caught “stepping out” is likely to get an even shorter end of the stick than he otherwise would.  Furthermore, marriage is primarily an economic and social arrangement, despite the popular lie that it’s about love and romance; even a sexless marriage may have many benefits, and the husband may wish to remain with his family rather than weather the pain and upheaval of divorce.  So if he’s going to get his sex elsewhere, it’s better for all parties if he does so discreetly, from a qualified professional practicing safe sex who has no interest in him romantically and is highly motivated to keep his secrets, rather than from an unpredictable amateur with questionable hygiene who may get pregnant, become emotionally entangled with him, start making extracontractual demands and otherwise making a mess out of what should’ve been a simple business transaction.  In simpler terms, I call sex work a harm reduction method for monogamy because it is.

(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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[Sex workers] are selling sex by choice…[no matter] what Demand Abolition says.  –  Alison Bass

The Public Eye 

The more sex workers write and speak in public, the harder it will be to ignore us:

The recent book Philosophy, Pussycats and Porn by the pornstar known as “Stoya”…is…a…collection of essays that discusses different topics from technology to religious iconography…a new generation of porn performers taking an intellectual stand on social issues…intellectual porn stars have turned into the avant-garde academics in this field, philosophers of the flesh and some of society’s most serious thinkers on human sexuality…Angela White is known for her advocacy of women’s rights and body positivity…Conner Habib…was a college lecturer of English at the University of Massachusetts Amherst before he began shooting porn scenes.  Now he’s also known for his writing and his thought-provoking podcast Against Everyone with Conner HabibValentina Nappi in Italy and Amarna Miller of Spain are both porn stars who attended art school and grew up in countries where the Catholic Church held a firm grip on the social and political life.  Yet these women have boldly voiced a feminist and hedonistic worldview, pushing the boundary of public opinion…

Vendetta 

Stephen Lemons speculates on the origin of billionaire sociopath Swanee Hunt’s fanatical hatred of sex workers:

…Hunt also frowns on “the use of pornography to masturbate” and seems to take a dim view of the male sex drive in general.  As for the right of sex workers to make choices for themselves, she opines that “every decision must be weighed in the terms of the overall effect on the [State], even at the cost of the impingement on personal freedom.”  Demand Abolition’s donations to law-enforcement agencies have secured the kind of enforcement against “sex buyers” that Hunt favors.  In a groundbreaking article published in The Intercept, Alison Bass…details how Demand Abolition’s donations to law-enforcement agencies in several cities helped fund local crackdowns…But there may be more at work in Hunt’s worldview than radical feminism.  Her father, H.L. Hunt, was an infamous philanderer who maintained two secret families in addition to the one he shared with his first wife…Swanee is the daughter of the woman who would become Hunt’s second wife, Ruth Ray Hunt, following the death of the first Mrs. Hunt…The billionaire oilman would visit his second family when his first wife was off playing bridge…She describes her mother’s “anguish” at the situation…Swanee…admits to wondering as a kid why she “didn’t have a daddy like the children next door”…Such lachrymose reminiscences may add some context to her anti-prostitution jeremiad.  Take, for instance, this passage from “Deconstructing Demand”:  With most monogamous couples, fidelity includes not only abstaining from sex with another person, but also honesty and transparency.  Buying sex, however, is largely a secret affair that requires a web of deception involving one’s location, time, and money…Children’s lives are strained and they may well become disillusioned with their fathers…

The Forest for the Trees

Sex abuse hysteria, like its twin sister “sex trafficking” hysteria, is the child of the Satanic Panic:

Moral panics…have occurred throughout history.  Two of the most notorious are the Salem Witch Trials of the 1690s and the Satanic Panic of the 1980s and ’90s.  The panics almost exclusively involve women and children and fears for their safety, especially from sexual abuse.  We are in the midst of another such panic, but despite the similarities to past episodes, we are still unable to recognize it as such.  The current panic has been playing out in the military and on college campuses for nearly a decade, but…the…hysteria is creeping into our regular legal system as well…five of the biggest signs…of mass hysteria [are]…1. Due Process Goes Out The Window…2. “Believe The Victim”…[accusations are all the evidence needed]…3. Misleading And Faulty Statistics4. Evidence, Schmevidence…and…5. Pseudo-Scientific Theories About Memory Reign Supreme

Traffic Jam (#411)

The ethically-bankrupt Dominique Roe-Sepowitz has invented another idiotic “study” designed to find exactly what its funders wanted found:

“I would also like to share on the record that…we [chose] to place our office in formal lockdown, file a police report, and get sheriff escort”  Khara Jabola-Carolus…of the Hawai‘i State Commission on the Status of Women [claimed dramatically] following [what she pretended was] a threat of “imminent physical danger” her office received…“This is a big business and no one…wants their money flow interrupted.”  The threat, Jabola-Carolus said, was in response to the organization’s [prohibitionist] stance and publication of a [bogus] study by HSCSW and Arizona State University School of Social Work, titled Sex Trafficking in Hawai‘i Part 1: Exploring Online Sex Buyers, that [pretends] prostitution demand is much higher in Hawai‘i than it is in the rest of the U.S.  The study used the O‘ahu and Big Island “Women Seeking Men” personals section of Backpage…

The nonsense opening this article?  A politician got a flood of organized calls from people opposed to prohibition and chose to frame them as “threats” to cast activists as members of a sinister cabal.  Other interviewees make a number of ridiculous statements, including one favorite claim of the more racist kind of prohibitionist that non-white women are too stupid to be pragmatic on their own, and had to learn pragmatic sexual motives from more-sophisticated-but-evil white people.  In case you’re wondering why this drama is centered around tiny Hawaii, it’s because there is some support for decriminalization in the state legislature and the prohibitionists want that crushed.

Counter-Countermeasure

Since prohibitionists pushing the “pimp” myth have failed miserably to debunk the John Jay study, they’ve decided to attack its primary author instead:

…Four professors at [John Jay] criminal justice college are on paid leave while the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and State Inspector General probe allegations they brought the underworld they studied into the hallways of John Jay.  Accusations of rape, sexual harassment, facilitating prostitution, and using and selling drugs first surfaced several weeks ago in the written complaints of two John Jay graduates…Naomi Haber [and Claudia Cojocaru]…Ric Curtis…received a $520,000 grant in 2005 from the US Department of Justice to research child sex workers in New York City.  He also led a study on young people working in the sex trade as part of a $1.3 million federally-funded research project in Atlantic City and other cities across the US.  But the feds halted the Atlantic City study in 2012 after receiving…[complaints that] Curtis handed out cigarettes to underage sex workers.  Investigators eventually found that Curtis offered smokes to people who agreed to connect him with prostitutes to interview, but he did not give them to interview subjects…Curtis later wrote that “the findings from my research in 2008 and 2010 earned me scorn among a number of leading practitioners in the…rescu[e industry]…because it undermined the rationale behind their appeals for funding,” according to an email he sent to one of the alleged victims that was included in her complaint…

Gorged With Meaning (#711)

People who pretend students need to be “groomed” into sex work are living in a dangerous fantasy world:

The University of Brighton has been accused [by prohibitionists] of encouraging prostitution after [the Sex Workers’ Outreach Project Sussex] ran a stall offering help for students at its freshers’ fairs…In a series of tweets it promoted its attendance, it said: “1 in 6 students does sex work or thinks about turning to sex work…If you…want to talk and don’t know where to go… we’re here for you.  We respect your autonomy, privacy and confidentiality.”  [Prohibitionist fanatics] Julie Bindel…and…Sarah Ditum [called the outreach]…”a grooming operation…preying on the naivety of young students”…academics and students jumped to the defence of the group.  Alison Phipps, professor of gender studies at the University of Sussex, thanked them for their “great work” and doctor Gemma Ahearne, a lecturer and sex industry researcher at Liverpool John Moores University, said their work was “amazing”.  Parker Robinson, student union’s vice president of academic experience at Brighton, said it was “great knowing there are services available ready to help students through difficulties they might be experiencing”…

The fact that Bindel, Ditum and company want young women denied support and advice, potentially resulting in their being harmed or even killed, tells you all you need to know about their sociopathy.

Whither Canada? (#808)

Edmonton has a long history of abusing & dehumanizing sex workers:

Last year, Edmonton [Alberta] police charged more people for purchasing sex than anywhere else in the country.  Edmonton accounted for more than 40 per cent of charges nationwide…The…271 charges in Edmonton…[were] more than double the 114 recorded in Winnipeg, which was second on the list…A vast majority of [victims of the law] were [forced in]to a [“johns school” and made to endure propaganda infantilizing sex workers and demonizing clients]…They pay a $750 [fine], increased from $500 earlier this year, which goes toward…[a prohibitionist] group that runs the day-long session…More than half of the arrests…came from online sting operations…[which] have made clients increasingly skeptical of web-based advertising and [screening]…

Uncommon Sense (#855)

How countries with healthy ideas about sex react to moral panic:

More…sex workers in Bern are renting apartments through…sites like Airbnb or using hotel rooms to carry out their business, according to a new report…Bern is currently home to 28 licensed brothels [but] this number is sinking…[because] rules introduced in 2013 requiring brothels to register have made sex work more expensive…prostitutes are required from 100 to 150 Swiss francs a day to rent a room in a legal brothel.  However, there are dozens of apartments listed on Airbnb for less than this amount.  The trend towards the use of private apartments for sex work runs counter to the intention of [the] rule changes…which [were] designed to [infantilize] prostitutes…and exploit…[their work with taxes and fees]…despite this tendency, police are positive about the new rules, arguing…that authorities now have much tighter control.  [Bern cantonal parliamentarian Christa] Ammann, meanwhile, is calling for prostitution to be completely decriminalized…

Compare Swiss police’s collective yawning over sex workers renting AirBnBs to work with UK cops’ lurid masturbatory fantasies about “sex slaves” in “pop-up brothels”.

Business As Usual (#871) 

I love it when rival herds of swine feed on each other:

Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs has formally transferred the investigation into the police vice [gang] to the FBI…as [too much] evidence [to hide] has [been discovered] during an internal investigation…The arrest of adult-film actress Stormy Daniels in July by [disguised] vice [cops] and the August [murder] of 23-year-old Donna Castleberry [during an attempted rape] by…vice [pig] Andrew Mitchell have put a spotlight on the 20-member [gang].  Mitchell, a 30-year veteran of the [gang], was relieved of duty [on September 26th.  Besides the rape and murder]…he had been the subject of a potentially criminal complaint that had been filed about a week before…Todd Lindgren, a spokesman for the FBI…[said] a search…[was] conducted…on…Mitchell[‘s home]…

The Widening Gyre (#872) 

Even celebrities are seeing “sex trafficking” everyplace they go:

Lindsay Lohan wins the most bizarre video of the month…as she accuses parents of trafficking her children and then gets punched in the face.  Lindsay, who was in Moscow, gets out of her car and approaches the family — 2 boys and their parents.  She says they’re Syrian refugees who need help…then…accuses them of trafficking their [own] kids, as she speaks in both English and Arabic…After tailing the family for a bit and trying to [abduct] the children, you see the mother snap and attack Lindsay…

I’m really grateful for moments of comic relief from hysterical young women like Lohan, which at least break the tension of the hysteria being used to destroy lives and abolish civil liberties.

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Fucking over sex workers is a way [Democrats] can be bipartisan.
– Sean McElwee

Life Imitates Artifice

Prohibitionist tactics remain the same no matter what they’re trying to prohibit:

Members of Congress…held a press conference…to announce a letter signed by 56 GOP lawmakers calling for investigations into a report from discredited anti-choice group Live Action Network accusing Planned Parenthood of covering up child sexual abuse…[this] follows a familiar game plan, including coordination between an anti-choice activist group and Republican lawmakers.  This round of attacks come as the Trump administration looks to reinstate a…restriction blocking federal family planning funds from organizations that provide abortion services in the same location as Title X-funded services…The Live Action report…includes discredited and extensively edited “sting” footage originally reported in 2008 and 2011…

This laudatory article from Christian Post has a bit more meat:

Laura J. Lederer, president of Global Centurion…[fantasized] that abortions and the sex trade are “inextricably linked.”   She recently conducted a study…in which the findings revealed that approximately 30 percent the trafficking victims surveyed reported multiple abortions.  Traffickers would routinely threaten their lives and beat them if they became pregnant, Lederer said.  One survivor whose abuse was especially brutal at the hands of her trafficker “said that she had 17 abortions over the time she was trafficked, all of them at the same clinic”…

I’m honestly surprised that the “forced sex trafficking abortions” myth didn’t become more popular, given the considerable overlap between anti-whore and anti-abortion activism.

Moloch 

Is this idiotic enough yet?  Can we stop now?

…18-year-old Mariea Starr…[of] Waynesboro, Pennsylvania…was caught by another student allegedly performing oral sex on a boy in a school stairwell…Because Starr had turned 18 two months before the incident and the boy she allegedly engaged in oral sex with…was [16, school pig Matthew Gordon]…charged [Starr] with…felony unlawful contact with minors which carries a Tier II sex offender designation…for 25 years, including being photographed by Pennsylvania State Police twice a year…Gordon brought the case without oversight from the district attorney’s office or school district administration because in Pennsylvania [pigs have absolute power to inflict charges on students]…Franklin County District Attorney Matthew Fogal…reduced the charges against Starr to open lewdness.  She was sentenced to 12 months’ probation and will not be placed on the registry.  Nonetheless, Starr will graduate from high school with a criminal record, which will significantly affect her educational and job opportunities…Starr is far from the only student that Gordon…has [fed] into the criminal justice system…

Dirty Laundry

And yet the Times supports the evil of Ruhama, the Magdalene orders’ rebranding:

…220 survivors of Ireland’s notorious Magdalene Laundries convened for a state-sponsored meeting in Dublin…The laundries were filled not only with “fallen women” — prostitutes, women who became pregnant out of marriage or as a result of sexual abuse and those who simply failed to conform — but also orphans and deserted or abused children…The Magdalene Laundries were part of an interlocking system of orphanages, industrial schools, “mother and baby homes” for unwed mothers and church-run institutions in which Ireland…confined…At least 10,000 women and girls…between independence from Britain in 1922 and the closing of the last one in 1996…

The Spiral of Absurdity 

Why do reporters repeat this egregious nonsense without fact-checking?

A sting on the sex-trafficking trade in metro Atlanta netted dozens of arrests and the rescue of dozens of children forced into sexual servitude, the FBI announced…Operation Safe Summer was a collaborative effort between the FBI’s Atlanta field office and 38 law enforcement agencies…The sting ended with nearly 160 children rescued, including one as young as 3 years old, and nearly 150 arrests, convictions or sentences…

Really?  If cops had really discovered 160 kids being held hostage, this would be international news, not a minor local story.  Looks to me like some mouthpiece repeated the number of arrests as the number of “rescued children”.

Between the Ears (#407)

Velvet Swing is the first female sex aid that actually works:

…it’s not exactly surprising that [Mistress Matisse] ended up in the cannabis industry…It’s even less surprising that her first product is a weed lube, called Velvet Swing.  While weed lube—rightly touted as the first truly effective female sex aid—is nothing new, Velvet Swing is the first water-soluble version.  Which kind of means it’s the first one that really qualifies for the term weed lube.  Oil-based lubricants are…not condom safe, meaning that products like Foria or Bond Sensual Oil are effectively restricted to people in monogamous partnerships…

And naturally, Matisse uses the interview to wake up pot-business folks to sex worker rights.

Bait and Switch

Entrapment so blatant even a judge couldn’t swallow it:

…In 2014…Skagit County [Washington] detective Theresa Luvera…posted a sex solicitation on Craigslist’s casual encounters…Craigslist’s rules required all participants to be 18+. something that has undermined sex stings in the past…After some online exchanges between the detective and the defendant, the detective claimed she is underage (“almost 15 but waaay advanced”).  Even further in…the detective brought up money-for-sex.  At every step along the way but the end, the defendant seemingly made it clear he was seeking free sex with a female adult.  Eventually the defendant shows up at the designated rendezvous point baitwith the requested items…The trial court dismissed the prosecution because the “State engaged in outrageous misconduct in violation of a defendant’s due process right to fundamental fairness”…Now that Craigslist has shut down its personals section, I’m not clear where law enforcement will conduct its online sex stings…

The Crumbling Dam (#709)

Alas, Seattle “officials” think harm reduction principles only apply to drug use:

Seattle’s efforts to find a location for its…supervised injection site has turned up nothing, and now the mayor’s office is looking to go mobile.  Jeff Sakuma…point person in finding a site…[said] there are no city or county-owned buildings that meet the criteria…the $2 million the council had set aside is to low to purchase an existing building or buy land and build…a private party that could partner with the city to allow the use of their property as an injection site, “could be subject to seizure by the federal government”…As an alternative…Seattle & King County would purchase a recreation[al] vehicle and remodel it…The mobile [unit] would park either on the street or in a parking lot near a facility that would provide space for a reception area, a waiting area, restroom storage and utility space…

Worse Than I Thought (#745)

Another shitty law specifically designed to harm sex workers:

Phoenix is ramping up the penalties for [adult consensual sex] as part of the city’s ongoing effort to curb [adult consensual sex].  The City Council voted…to fine individuals convicted of soliciting sex workers $2,000 for a second offense, $2,250 for a third offense and $2,500 for each additional conviction. The mandatory fines will be in addition to jail sentences of 15-180 days.  “If we catch you … we’re going to make it as unpleasant for you as we possibly can and I don’t feel bad about that at all,” said Councilman Jim Waring, chair of the Phoenix [anti-consensual sex] Task Force…

The Widening Gyre (#764) 

Yeahno.  This still smells like a publicity stunt gone wrong:

British model Chloe Ayling has thanked those who “believed in me from the beginning” after a Polish man was jailed for kidnapping her.  Lukasz Herba held Chloe Ayling captive for six days in a farmhouse near Turin in Italy, after abducting her during what she thought would be a photo shoot last July.  He was arrested after releasing her at the British consulate, and has now been sentenced to 16 years and nine months in jail…Ayling…has always insisted she has told the truth about her captivity.  She told police she never tried to escape because she was terrified and believed Herba’s threats that he was part of a bigger criminal gang that was watching her constantly…

Pyrrhic Victory (#836)

Once men turned their thinking over to machines in the hope that this would set them free.  But that only permitted other men with machines to enslave them.”

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is quietly building what will likely become the largest database of biometric and biographic data…in the United States. The agency’s new Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology (HART) database will include multiple forms of biometrics—from face recognition to DNA, data from questionable sources, and highly personal data on innocent people.  It will be shared with federal agencies outside of DHS as well as state and local law enforcement and foreign governments…HART will chill and deter people from exercising their First Amendment protected rights to speak, assemble, and associate…face recognition makes it possible to identify and track people in real time, including at lawful political protests and other gatherings.  Other data DHS is planning to collect—including information about people’s “relationship patterns” and from officer “encounters” with the public—can be used to identify political affiliations, religious activities, and familial and friendly relationships.  These data points are also frequently colored by conjecture and bias…

Blunt Instrument (#841)

With the demise of Backpage, anti-whore pogroms turn back to low-hanging fruit:

Three indictments were unsealed…alleging massage parlors in Topeka and Lawrence were fronts for prostitution…Five people were charged in federal grand jury indictments alleging prostitution businesses generated millions of dollars in revenue.  Charges included conspiracy, interstate racketeering, bank fraud and money laundering…

Note the way pigs try to make this seem like a big-time cartel by throwing around terms like “millions”; any business that doesn’t gross at least $1 million over a five-year period is probably failing.

Safe Position

If the Democrats were smart, they’d adopt this as their official platform:

…when it comes to the rights of…sex workers…elected Democrats still overwhelmingly side with the religious right and consistently fail to consult the people most affected by their policies…Now, however, a small but growing group of…candidates are heeding the outrage of their constituents and have turned against laws that make it harder for sex workers to safely practice.  At least three Democrats running in competitive House primaries are currently campaigning on their opposition to SESTA/FOSTA, legislation that passed in April and holds websites criminally liable for any [claims of] sex trafficking that occurred on their pages…the bill effectively shut down the websites that were the safest venues for sex workers to ply their trade.  Following its passage, Backpage.com and the personals section of Craigslist immediately folded.  Their collapse has already prompted many sex workers to return to the streets, where conditions are much more dangerous…

Lack of Evidence (#848)

The recrudescence of a public health nightmare:

…If you believe that all prostitutes are forced into it against their will…then prostitutes are victims.  If you believe it’s possible that it’s just a transaction between consenting adults, then it shouldn’t be a crime at all.  If you’re just a prude determined to tell other people how to conduct their sex lives in accordance with your sniffling sensibilities, then it doesn’t matter…As advocates like Maggie McNeill have made clear, there are women who choose prostitution as their occupation without shame or excuse.  This is what they choose to do, and they don’t give a damn about your Victorian mores.  You don’t have to like it, but…the demand exists and always has, and despite your sniffling, it’s not going away.  But is the answer to force prostitutes, and their customers, to risk the choice between contracting a loathsome, if not deadly, disease or enhance their time in jail?  That’s what Allegheny County is trying to do…the possession of condoms means the difference between a summons and a custodial arrest…

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I consider myself an upstanding guy and a good provider but I’m now engaged in what some consider the lowest behavior a man can engage in and I am feeling tremendous guilt. Up until about 6 months ago I had been completely faithful.  About 9 months ago my wife had a meltdown over something unrelated to this and told me to leave, then a few days later asked me to come home.  Over the following 3 months this happened 4 more times.  One night I was lonely and decided to call an escort.  I’m prepared to be thrown out again at any time, and I found that I really enjoyed seeing escorts and do not intend to stop.  I feel like cheating scum.  I’m honest with the providers and disclose that I’m married.  How do these providers see me?

What low behavior are you involved in?  Are you a cop or politician?  The only thing you mention doing is seeing escorts because your wife has, to put it bluntly, turned into a flake.  You have needs; you’re dealing with them pragmatically.  When she threw you out, did you just stand outside in the rain?  No, you went and rented a hotel room.  If she refused to feed you, would eating at a restaurant have been “low”?  No, it would be sensible.  And so is seeing escorts to get your sexual & emotional needs met now that your wife seems to think you’re a human yo-yo for her to play with.  You mention telling your escorts you’re married; honey, 70% or more of our clients are married.  We are the safety valve which allows the highly unnatural institution of monogamy to exist at all, and civilization itself would be literally impossible without us.  Every person has the right to control their own sexuality, and nobody else’s (unless that’s part of some kink dynamic they both consent freely to).  In other words, your wife has the right to say “I will not fuck you”, but she does not have the right to tell you that you can’t have a sex life because she’s too busy playing non-consensual tease-and-denial games.  By seeing an escort, you are mitigating the harm that would come from extracurricular fucking of amateurs whose ideas of consent, hygiene and respect for boundaries probably range from confused to nonexistent.

And though you didn’t ask for advice on this other topic, I’m going to give it anyway:  at one point in your very long letter you mentioned the difficulty of finding a good therapist for yourself.  From what I can see, you don’t need therapy (except for your inappropriate feelings of guilt for taking care of your own needs, and maybe to uncover why you accept this kind of treatment); your wife does.  It’s not normal to keep repeatedly throwing a partner out and then summoning them back; it’s emotional abuse.

(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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Last week, a long-time client of Laura’s asked if I’d publish this tribute to her today, the day of her funeral.  And how could I not?  This text was approved by her daughter Cat prior to publication.

Today is the funeral of Laura Lee, “Ant” (Antoinette) to her friends, but I can’t be there celebrating her full but short life and grieving at her unexpected death.  Yes, I am one of those, a client, who has another life which made it impossible for me to attend.  I have no one to share my grief with, other than other sex workers, clients, allies and academics who knew Laura; they have been an immense help.  It has been a hard few days for me and I am sure I am not alone.  I have known Laura for twelve years, and online even longer than that.  She was a moderator on the forum call Punternet…yes, that so-called “patriarchal” review site so beloved by the antis had real life sex workers as moderators.  The first time I met Laura was in Edinburgh, and after our appointment she asked me back to accompany her on a midnight Edinburgh ghost walk tour.  I did, and that was the start of a long relationship.  Little did I know she was fascinated in ghosts, and only days before she left us she was staying in a haunted coach house.

During the next few years I would meet Laura wherever our paths crossed, often in Edinburgh or London, and once a coincidental meeting in Carlisle where we both happened to be working at the same time.  One year I took the plunge and invited her to come to Glastonbury music festival with me; I already had a ticket, but her ticket was a late booking on the Glastonbury ticket resale, and the only tickets available included coach transfer.  So, I drove there on Wednesday and set up camp; she arrived by coach the next day.  I met her on Thursday afternoon and we spent the rest of the day looking around and eventually making our way back to the small tent, soaking wet from the rain which had started.  We didn’t mind; we were together for the weekend.  There were no showers, and the loos at Glastonbury are diabolical stinking holes in a tank; wet wipes and cider become the currency of the festival.  The privacy in a small tent sited within a foot of other tents is virtually non-existent; three middle aged men nearby were discussing the moans of ecstasy they had heard during the night.  We would lie together listening to the requests for Ketamine and the inflation of balloons throughout the night.

She loved the Green Fields area and the Healing Fields, the Hippy area Laura called it, where there are various massages available, Yoga and Tarot card readings.  Having a wicked sense of humour, she went up to one young police officer and asked him about the laws on opening a massage tent and would it be alright if she supplied extra services.  The poor man flushed and stammered with embarrassment, eventually saying he would have to ask a superior.  Laura was supportive of all harm reduction initiatives and spent time talking with the helpers at a drug help tent.  Here they would advise people on safe drug use and they would spend the night and early hours touring the stone circle area handing out water and helping anyone in distress.  She was impressed by the care they gave.  The Green Fields area and especially the Peace Garden were a quiet safe space where one could sit and contemplate; it’s where we lay in the sun and I told her I loved her.  I felt so embarrassed after saying this, but no she said it was sweet and a lovely thing to have said.

Laura’s determination to come with me to Glastonbury was revealed next year, after she broke her ankle and damaged her knee in a fall in the bath tub a few weeks before the festival.  Her whole leg was placed in plaster all the way up to her crotch.  I was sure she would not come, but she did; luckily, we had upgraded to glamping and were sleeping in a bed, with showers and flush loos.  I was over the moon when she told me she hadn’t even contemplated not coming.  The only downside of the location of our yurt was the hill up to the campsite; pushing Laura up the wet grass in the wheel chair was punishing and very challenging work at the end of a long night.  But it was an amazing festival, and people were always ready whenever we needed help in the mud, or faced a steep hill.  We had hospitality tickets that year, so we celebrity spotted in the area between the Pyramid and Other stage; Laura was in her element being photographed with Paolo Nutini.

We managed five Glastonburys, two T in the parks, TRNSMT in Glasgow and even did the small Pilton party together last year.  From there Laura has a selfie of herself with Michael Eavis.  The great highlights of Glastonbury for her were Dolly Parton and Adele; she also valued her meeting with the Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell (a vocal supporter of sex workers rights who knew of Laura) at the Left Field stage.  Taking an out-sex worker with a public profile and those unmistakable long black curls to such a public event has its risks; she had appeared on many chat shows and on TV shows such as Sex on Wheels which featured disabled people’s sexual needs and had been aired several times.  Generally, the reaction to her was positive, with women coming up to be photographed with her.  One time after Glastonbury at Bristol airport she was hugged and thanked for all she was doing.  During that last festival she was spotted by another sex worker and ended up giving advice and help.  Of course there were downsides too, such as the Irish doctor at our glamping site who recognised Laura and started making loud audible snide comments.  Last year we spotted a woman who just kept glaring angrily at Laura without saying anything.  Thankfully the glamping area had grown large, so we didn’t have to see either of them again.  Laura would outwardly laugh these slights off, but I knew it hurt her and put a damper on the late evenings sitting around the brazier in Love Fields.

The Greenfields area of Glastonbury had a debating and lecture area, and this is where she met Ruby Wax giving a talk on mental health, which was a personal issue for Laura, though when I was with her I very rarely saw it.  She was so pleased to have the opportunity to speak with Ruby and get her autograph.  She worked hard promoting sex worker rights, even while we were enjoying ourselves at festivals; there were always emails or phone calls for help or for an interview, and she tried to fit these in when she could.  She took every opportunity to promote sex worker rights, to the extent of questioning those working on the Glasgow Sexual Health stand at the TRNSMT festival about their attitudes toward sex workers.

Outside of her work Laura tried to fit in speaking engagements, TV debates and protest marches where ever she could, along with actively working with different campaign groups and building relationships with the Belfast Reclaim the Night, feminist organisations and Repeal the 8th.  This often cost her money for hotels and travel, and importantly her time when she could have been working.  Campaigning is not cheap, with the costs increasing, and her earnings reduced, her stress levels increased with bills needing payment.  This spiral was having on effect on her health and made me very aware that allies must step up and help by donating money unconditionally to activists.  Not just money for a specific court case or cause, but money for the travel, accommodation and the loss of income from not being able to work on those days.

I loved Laura and I believe she had affections for me, often sharing with me aspects of her life, and sometimes having petty arguments like married couples.  I loved her forthrightness and the way she picked me up on my occasional tactlessness.  I greatly miss her; her death has left a hole in my heart and life.  I bitterly regret not attending the Beyond the Gaze event in Manchester where Laura received a standing ovation for her speech.

May Laura continue to haunt the lives of those who fight against total decriminalisation of sex work.

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