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Posts Tagged ‘He or She?’

When sex trafficking is somehow construed as the “natural consequence” of virtually any action, virtually no person or entity is safe from the threat of liability.  –  Alex Yelderman

Surplus Women

The Swedish model protects women!

[A sex worker was] found dead on Christmas morning…partially burned and stripped…near the pond of Font Merle, in Mougins [France.  Cops are]…trying to find out “who gravitated around this young woman” [in hopes of persecuting her clients or friends]…

Monsters

Yet TERFs want you to believe trans women are the dangerous ones:

David Bogdanov…is accused of second-degree murder in the [strangling] death of Nikki Kuhnhausen, a [Vancouver, Washington] teenager who had been missing since June…Bogdanov and Kuhnhausen appear to have first spent time together June 5 — the same day she last had contact with her family…Bogdanov [admitted]…that Kuhnhausen told him she was biologically male at some point after he picked her up from an apartment on the morning of June 6…He [claims that he then] asked Kuhnhausen to get out of his car…and…that was the last time he saw her.  [But] Bogdanov’s phone records [place him]…near Larch Mountain in east Clark County…[where] On Dec. 7, a passerby…found a human skull…[which] forensic analysis confirmed…[as] Kuhnhausen[‘s]…

Policing for Profit

Cops will never stop doing this as long as the state keeps giving them pretexts:

…St. Charles County [Missouri cops] coerced at least 39…motorists into signing over their assets in 2018…[the pigs] would lie in wait for a car [driven by a minority person, then accuse them of] committing a minor traffic violation…[the pigs] would then…direct them to a private towing lot owned by Superior Towing…[where they would] search the vehicle, all in the hopes of finding large amounts of cash..[they would then get a] dog [to bark, claiming that meant drugs were present, and give]…the motorists two options: they could go to jail, or sign their possessions away to the department and leave with a traffic ticket.  In the 39 documented stops, no criminal charges were filed.  A third of the targets were stopped and taken to the lot after midnight…nearly half of the drivers had either Hispanic or Asian surnames…Missouri…asset forfeiture laws…require…criminal conviction…before forfeiture, and the assets are supposed to go towards schools, not [pigs, but]…the federal Equitable Sharing program…[lets pigs violate state law].  A legislative effort to close this loophole and force [pigs to follow]…state law was defeated this year after the local police lobby quietly campaigned against it, calling it “anti-police”…

Torture Chamber

Just in case you thought screws restricted their petty sadism to the prisoners:

New York City has agreed to [steal] $12.5 million dollars [from taxpayers] to settle a class action lawsuit by people who were subject to invasive strip searches while visiting loved ones in jail…In the most serious cases, [screws digitally raped] women…or forced them to drop their pants and show their sanitary napkins…each person is entitled to up to $4,000 in damages…The city has also agreed to [tell] all [screws not to rape or humiliate people who aren’t prisoners]…[but] individual [screws] named in the lawsuit…[will not] be disciplined…

He or She? (#512)

Surprising absolutely no trans people:

Transgender children…start to identify with toys and clothes typical of their gender identity from a very young age, a recent study suggests.  And their confidence in their gender identity is generally as strong as that of cisgender children…researchers interviewed 317 transgender children, ages 3 to 12, and 189 of the children’s siblings.  They also interviewed 316 cisgender kids…The transgender kids showed strong preferences for toys and clothing typically associated with their gender identity, not their assigned sex…[and those] preferences didn’t appear to differ based on how long they had lived as their current gender.  Transgender kids also didn’t appear to have preferences much different from cisgender children with the same gender identity…The similarities among transgender and cisgender children were surprising [to cisgender people who believe in the tabula rasa doctrine]…

Amateur Night

This sounds like somebody who followed my repeated advice to older virgins:

Five years ago I wrote an essay for Salon about being a 33-year-old virgin…I wrote about how not having sex is not weird, and that if you haven’t met the right one, to not let bitterness and anger overtake you…I was wrong…last October I bought a plane ticket to Las Vegas…[did] the seven-hour drive to the Moonlite Bunny Ranch, and…lost my virginity…It was fine. It was fun…Sex is not a big deal.  Stop waiting.  Have it.  Experience it.  Enjoy it…It’s normal…staying away from sex all those years was like banning myself from the grocery store.  It’s not the end of the world to have sex with someone you have no connection with.  Also, we need to stop the stigma against sex workers.  I had a great time at the ranch.  It did wonders for me mentally.  I used to think I’d be ashamed if I lost it to a prostitute.  Not at all. I was given a great experience and was handled with real care…I’m dating now…and life is good…I [used to] let my fear of…doing it with someone I don’t care for block me from making connections with women…I put that wall up.  Life didn’t change.  I did…

A Moral Cancer (#790)

Prohibitionism is a mental illness:

[Irish] supermarket customers face a ban on using loyalty card points to buy alcohol under new regulations…aimed at [making it harder for poor people to buy] alcohol [under the excuse of]…health…

I Spy (#903) 

The US is following in the footsteps of China:

When Syracuse University freshmen walk into professor Jeff Rubin’s…class…Bluetooth beacons…connect with a…[compulsory] app on their smartphones and boost their “attendance points”.  And when they skip class…the…app…log[s] their absence into a campus database that tracks them over time and can sink their grade…campuswide WiFi networks are empowering colleges across the United States to track hundreds of thousands of students…Dozens of schools now use such technology to monitor students’ academic performance, analyze their conduct or assess their mental health…[only a few] professors and education advocates [recognize]…the systems [as] a new low in intrusive technology, breaching students’ privacy on a massive scale…[to power a Chinese-style “social credit”] system…[to] infantilize students in the very place where they’re expected to grow into adults, further training them to see surveillance as a normal part of living, whether they like it or not…

Loose Cannons (#982)

Florida prosecutors are desperately trying to wipe the egg off of their faces:

Florida prosecutors…[are now pretending that] Robert Kraft’s…two misdemeanor c[harges] of soliciting prostitution…[magic]ally co[nstitute] a felony [because they say so, thus ensuring that Kraft’s lawyers are highly motivated to work even harder to destroy the state’s case if]…the state wins its appeal of a lower court order [dismissing the evidence cops obtained with lies and an illegal warrant]…Observers across the country view it as a constitutional test that pits police powers to [terrorize consenting adults]…against individual privacy rights…

Quiet Genocide (#989)

Oh look, Western nations are starting to notice a genocide in progress:

Western coverage of one of China’s worst human rights abuses…has [very slightly] increased over the past year.  Satellite images revealed the Government destroying scores of traditional burial grounds belonging to Uighurs in northwest Xinjiang; drone footage revealed hundreds of blindfolded and shackled men being transferred to detention camps; and just last month, secret Chinese Government documents revealed how the regime was instructed to deal with the ethnic minority.  But [even] less…reported on is…a forced-living arrangement between Han Chinese men and Uighur women that…[constitutes] mass rape…[which] the Government claims [is] designed to promote harmony between the different cultural groups…The [Newspeak term for the mass rape scheme is]…the “Pair Up and Become Family” program…Rushan Abbas, a Uighur activist…[explained that] “The Government is offering money, housing and jobs to Han people to come and marry Uighur people.  Neither the girls nor their families can reject such a marriage because they will be [treated]…by Chinese authorities…as Islamic extremists for not wanting to marry atheist Han Chinese…

To Molest and Rape (#998)

Another specimen of the garbage the state pays to violate teenagers:

A [typical and representative pig Arizona hired to terrorize teenagers in] school…now faces multiple criminal charges [for molesting a teenage girl]…Yuma police arrested Bobby Garcia on numerous charges including [trying to hide evidence]…Police…receiv[ed] a complaint against [Garcia in May, but didn’t arrest him until December]…

Crying for Nanny (#998)

The hotel industry is really going to regret having collaborated with fanatics rather than fighting “sex trafficking” hysteria:

A case challenging FOSTA on constitutional grounds was dismissed on grounds that none of the plaintiffs…could demonstrate a credible threat of prosecution, civil liability, or redressable harm…Three recently-filed civil lawsuits have soundly refuted th[at claim]…Two of the federal  cases that will potentially implicate FOSTA were filed in state courts, one in Washington and the other in California…Craigslist [has] removed [both] case[s] to federal court, on grounds that 18 U.S.C. § 1595 creates a federal (not state) cause of action…The cases are essentially the same, with sections of their respective complaints copied verbatim…and…do not allege that craigslist knew anything about them specifically being trafficked…but rather claim that the website [should have shut itself down]…once [fanatics started spreading ridiculous myths and wanking fantasies about]…its ongoing operation “amount[ing] to a venture with sex traffickers to efficiently market victims”…This is a radical theory of liability, and…shows the Woodhull plaintiffs’ fear to be entirely reasonable…The third case…was filed in Georgia by an attorney who has also sued Facebook, Instagram, Backpage, and Salesforce, among others…the charges against Salesforce were dismissed due to the Section 230 immunity)…[if] the…[expansive] view of “natural consequences” [upon which these cases are based] is [allowed to stand]…there is no limiting factor in sight…

There is also another lawsuit in Texas.

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Any politician or law enforcement agent who believes that criminalizing both suppliers and buyers of sex will improve the safety of sex workers and their clients is delusional.  –  Charles Hill

He or She?

A new study scheduled for publication in Psychological Science provides strong evidence that trans children’s understanding of their own gender identities is indistinguishable from that of their…cisgender…peers…running counter to common assumptions that trans kids are “pretending” or “confused” about their gender…the researchers assigned the same set of tasks to 32 trans children, 18 of their siblings, and 32 nontrans children, all aged 5-12…”Across all these tasks, across the more and the less controllable measures of gender development, our transgender participants look just like other kids, but in the direction of their gender identity rather than their sex assigned at birth”…

In other words, all kids who identified as female performed similarly to each other on the tests whether they were biologically female or not, and all the kids who identified as male performed more like each other than like the girls.

See How Well It Works?Cuckoo Clock McCain

“Cuckoo Clock” McCain ignores the collapse of the “gypsy whores” myth, insisting that the reason the Lost Tribe of Gomorrah failed to materialize in her backyard was because of her own hysteria:

“The Super Bowl, unfortunately, happens to be the largest human trafficking venue on the planet,” said Cindy McCain…”It’s gone on for decades unchecked,” said [FBI] Agent George Steuer…”When Arizona was awarded the Super Bowl, we had no human trafficking legislation on our books”…McCain said.  “Unless we were going to be racked with a dangerous Super Bowl, we had to get to work.”  It has worked, according to authorities…[though] there is no empirical evidence of an increase in trafficking during the Super Bowl, Steuer [pretends without presenting evidence that] his office has seen a “definite uptick in activity”…

Profound Mental Disabilities

Usually, it’s being submissive that they pretend is a mental illness:

…a 17-year-old girl…[was] in a car accident in 2008, [started] working as a dominatrix five years later, and a B.C. Supreme Court judge [decided] that…whipping people for a living…[instead] of “being a filmmaker or actress…showed a lack of ‘correct thinking’ and was proof she’d taken an unnecessary risk due to a loss of cognitive function from a moderate traumatic brain injury”…

Welcome To Our World (The Hits Keep Coming)

It never stops with whores:

Anyone helping homeless people by offering them travel money, shelter or food could face up to a year in prison…in Norway…Vidar Brien-Karlsen, Secretary of State…said it was necessary…as the police needed authority to crack down on those running begging networks as an organised business…

Can you smell the “trafficking” filth?

The Widening Gyre 

The last part of this item degenerates into “Swedish model” cheerleading, believe it or not:  “A [Utah politician] wants to give convicted child sex traffickers the…death penalty…He said he’s been working on bills to target prostitution…for years…”  And this barely-comprehensible muddle is as stupid as anything we’ve ever seen under this heading:

For the past three weeks…an R-storm warning has been in effect.  R-storm is a new multi-jurisdictional prostitution and sex trafficking operation…the women involved are not only at risk legally, they now face new risks on the street as guinea pigs for drugs dealers…”to test their products”…It’s that connection to other crimes…that R-storm is trying to fight…R-storm says…If you see behavior that looks suspicious, call your local police.

Puerile cop nomenclature, agency denial, demonization, the gateway myth, police-state propaganda…all in a few sentences!

Checklist 

The utterly ridiculous idea that a “sex buyer” is a particular kind of man that one can be “trained” to spot derives from the even more ludicrous notion that paying for sex is unusual and pathological:

One of Sweden’s largest hotel chains…has announced additional training for staff as part of a government initiative to counter prostitution in the hospitality industry…including watching an educational video designed to help them better identify clues that suggest plans to buy or sell sex…“It is incredibly important that there won’t be a witch hunt on individual customers”…[a hotel manager lied before advising]…all staff to call police immediately if they suspected prostitution…

Frequently Told Lies

The English Collective of Prostitutes has put out another debunking of prohibitionist myths; the more of these we see, the better.

Traffic Circle

It’s so good to see articles like this appearing in regular newspapers, especially when they quote me:

When media reports use the term “sex slave,” it sensationalizes rape and abduction…campaigns [against]…sex trafficking…end up making life more difficult and dangerous for sex workers…[because they] don’t differentiate between those who chose sex work versus those who are coerced…Take it from Maggie McNeill, a former sex worker who is now an activist and blogger.  She talks about how much of the data about…sex trafficking might be unreliable and how confounding the idea that all sex work is sex trafficking is problematic.  In an interview with Reason.com, McNeill says that until sex work is decriminalized, it’s difficult to have any real idea of how many sex workers are choosing the work versus needing to versus being forced into it.  Not having reliable data hasn’t stopped countless…organizations from bold…unsupported claims…

Property of the State Purvi Patel

Purvi Patel…faces two different, and contradictory, charges after suffering a premature delivery and seeking medical care.  The story…[gives] a frightening look of what’s to come as increasingly draconian abortion restrictions force pregnant people to turn to other, sometimes illegal and often dangerous, means…Patel went to an emergency room in…Indiana…for vaginal bleeding…prosecutors allege…she told staff she believed she was roughly two months pregnant and miscarried the fetus at home…Prosecutors initially charged Patel with felony neglect of a dependent, a class A felony that carries with it a 50-year prison sentence.  But in order to convict Patel with felony neglect, prosecutors must be able to prove the fetus she delivered was born alive…That’s why they have also charged Patel with feticide…

Vendetta (#432)

Swanee Hunt’s private pogrom has been moved up to January so cops can vomit out the lie that it has something to do with the Super Bowl:

A national coalition of local law enforcement agencies conducted a sting operation that led to the arrests of 570 would-be sex buyers…and 23 pimps or traffickers, Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced…The ninth “National Day of Johns Arrests” ran for approximately two weeks, from January 15 through February 1…

Who but a government functionary would see nothing wrong with calling a two-week period a “day”?  The article boasts that the program has “grown rapidly”, and here’s why: “$341,330 in minimum fines…221 cars towed/forfeited…

Something Rotten in Sweden (#445)

Professor Hill strikes again:

…The last people that clients and/or sex workers who have been beaten, robbed, threatened, stalked or raped are going to go to are law enforcement agents…because [the latter] are actively seeking to arrest them and (in the case of clients) seize their assets…there is no reliable data to suggest that more than a small minority of sex workers are coerced or “trafficked”.  The often cited “statistics” on trafficking in sex work do not stand up under scrutiny and are systematically misquoted and exaggerated by NGOs and other interested groups in order to elicit funding and political support for…the abolition of all sex work for moral reasons.  One misleading statistic that keeps making the rounds is the claim that there are 300,000 minors being trafficked for sex in the United States…This figure is mathematically implausible since it represents 1 in every 50 girls in the US between the ages of 12 and 18…[such] estimates have been widely criticized as inflated and absurd…

Safe Targets (#452)

Terra [sic] Burns…is…a graduate student who studies the sex industry, and…[an activist] with…Community United for Safety and Protection, which opposes [bad] human trafficking laws…“Most of the people [charged]…have been women who have been working together”…says Burns….[who] thinks the law should be amended so those who work in the sex industry of their own volition are not…entrapped by [cops]…Burns launched a “Tilt” crowdfunding campaign three weeks ago…to raise $1,500 to pay for Burns to live out of a camper in Juneau for a month…[as] a…lobbyist…[a prohibitionist politician lied that an anti-whore law]…“doesn’t touch…voluntary sex workers in any way, shape, or form”…

Secret Squirrel (#509)

Note the starkly different tone when the stalker is a woman:

I can’t remember exactly when I decided to start Geotagging my partner…It wasn’t that I didn’t trust him; I just wanted to build on that trust with cold hard evidence.  Friends who think my behaviour is creepy, controlling or borderline obsessive have pointed out that just because you know where someone is doesn’t mean they are not in that place cheating on you.  That’s true, but this is something which means he’d have a harder time getting away with it…This isn’t…invading his privacy…If he had refused to use it, I would only presume he had something to hide…

The More the Better (#509)

Cracked continues its run of excellent pro-sex worker articles with “5 Ways Being a Legal Prostitute Is Weirder Than You Think“:

We didn’t expect to become the Internet’s primary source for insider perspectives on sex workers, but life is funny that way.  In our quest to understand society’s weird love/hate relationships with prostitutes, we’ve talked to those working outside the law and the few who ply their trade in legal brothels, and the consistent theme seems to be that it can be an awful job, but only because polite society insists on making it awfula…legal brothel worker…walked us through some of the bizarre rules, regulations, and everyday bullshit that pervades every aspect of their lives.  It really made it clearer than ever that the concept of someone accepting money for sex just scares the shit out of people…

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Firmness in decision is often merely a form of stupidity.  It indicates an inability to think the same thing out twice.  –  H.L. Mencken

Despite my steady progress toward cronehood, I find that I still do change my mind on some things from time to time.  Really, this isn’t surprising; while most people become steadily more conservative as they age, I have become steadily more radical.  The reason should be obvious: as many of you have observed, I am unusually pragmatic and unafraid to follow ideas and observations to their logical conclusions.  When I was younger and far less battle-scarred I allowed far more sentiment to contaminate my moral views, and was much less likely to recognize the extent to which people will abuse even the slightest power over others.  But as I’ve lived in the real world, paid attention to its mechanisms and watched even the best-laid plans of mice and men gang agley, I’ve come to understand that the more control anyone (individually or collectively) is given over the lives of anyone else, the more often things go horribly wrong.  And while it’s true that some small amount of authoritarian violence is, unfortunately, a necessary evil, the optimum amount is vastly lower than that which exists anywhere in the world today.

DUI checkpointI’ve expressed many ethical opinions over the past three years, and many of you have disagreed with me; I’ve also read the words of many other writers expressing different, tangential or totally contradictory opinions.  And while most of the time my own positions, developed as they have been over three decades of careful observation and consideration, remain unmoved, once in a while little things add up enough so that I recognize that my previous opinion on a subject was unformed, naïve, incomplete, erroneous or even dead wrong.  Sometimes it’s just because I never really thought deeply enough about the issue; for example, because I don’t drink I never thought enough about the way “drunk driving” laws are written to recognize them as fallacious and enabling of tyranny, but then I read an essay which asked why it’s legally considered worse to drive well with a blood-alcohol level above an arbitrary limit than it is to drive poorly (or even cause an accident) cold sober.  Had the authoritarians not taken these laws to their logical conclusion with police-state checkpoints (now with blood extraction and forced catheterization), I might never have been forced to consider the subject enough to recognize their wrongness.  Similarly, I never devoted any serious thought to the laws governing gender-reassignment surgery until a commenter on my column “He or She?” very politely pointed out that my supporting the psychiatric community’s “gatekeeping” over the process violated the principle of self-ownership:

…governments and moralists who presume to know more about our minds and ourselves than we do?  Telling us what we are and are not allowed to do with our bodies, “for our own good”?  People who have no experience (or even understanding) of transsexuality unilaterally deciding that the desire to be the opposite sex HAS to be the byproduct of disturbed thinking, simply because it’s not something they can conceive of wanting to do?  I’m not equating transsexuality with prostitution…but I hope the rhetoric sounds familiar…Those safeguards…are not, and never have been, for the benefit of transsexuals.  They’re a buffer for medical professionals against malpractice suits, and the next best thing for the moralistic assholes in power if they can’t criminalize transsexuality outright…it does much more harm than good to set up an endless row of hurdles that transsexuals must clear, usually with a hostile or uncomprehending system, before we’re “allowed” to be what the rest of the population takes for granted.  Prohibitively difficult “safeguards” don’t make the process any safer, they just make it longer, more humiliating, and far more expensive…

In other cases, however, my thinking was clouded by my own emotions.  As I’ve mentioned before, I have fairly pronounced maternal instincts and suffered a very late-term miscarriage (22 weeks gestation) which still tends to upset me emotionally if I dwell on it.  Rationally, I understand that it’s probably best I did not have children, and that my own feelings on the matter no more constitute an argument against the legality of abortion than my aversion to depictions of male homosexual behavior constitutes one against its legality.  And yet, up until last year it always seemed to me that 12 weeks was enough of a window for legal abortion; despite compelling arguments that the limit of viability (roughly 24 weeks) is a far more logical dividing line, I simply did not want to think about ending pregnancies more advanced than my own was at the time of its spontaneous abortion.

Homunculus by Nicolaus Hartsoeker (1694)But 18 years is a long time on a human scale, and I’m nothing if not reasonable; though dogmatic “feminist” arguments which ignore or even deny the fact that Roe vs. Wade also invalidates prostitution laws are even less convincing to me than Christian superstition about ensouled zygotes, arguments based in the philosophies of liberty and harm reduction are another matter entirely.  An email I received last July from Joyce Arthur of FIRST (the Canadian pro-sex worker feminist group) contained the following passage:

Delays in seeking abortion…are often the direct result of legal restrictions…making gestational limits even more unjust.  Canada has no laws against abortion whatsoever, not even gestational limits, yet only about 0.4% of abortions happen after 20 weeks, and over 90% are before 12 weeks.  This is what happens when you treat abortion like any other medical procedure, it does not turn into an irresponsible free-for-all when it’s not criminalized.  In fact, our abortion rates are much lower than the U.S. and have been in decline since 1997.  Abortion can be…handled the same way as any other medical procedure – through medical policies, codes of ethics, doctor discretion, etc.  The problem with imposing legal limitations…is that women will find a way – if you make it too difficult or too expensive, many will just try to do it themselves or have an illegal unsafe abortion…

Nor are unsafe abortions the only problem; government powers inevitably expand until they are forcibly stopped, and laws defining fetuses as citizens to be protected by law inevitably result in prosecution of women whose actions inadvertently result in miscarriage or stillbirth.  And it gets worse:

…Our study identified 413 criminal and civil cases involving the arrests, detentions, and equivalent deprivations of pregnant women’s physical liberty…between 1973…and 2005…[and] 250…since 2005…A [Utah] woman…was…charged with…homicide based on the claim that her decision to delay cesarean surgery was the cause of the stillbirth…a [Washington D.C.] court…[forced] a critically-ill pregnant woman…to undergo cesarean surgery over her objections.  Neither she nor her baby survived.  A judge in Ohio kept a woman imprisoned to prevent her from having an abortion.  A woman in Oregon…was subjected to involuntary civil commitment [for disobeying a doctor’s orders]…A Louisiana woman was charged with murder and spent…a year in jail…[for] miscarriage that resulted from [prescription] medication…In Texas, a pregnant woman who sometimes smoked marijuana…was arrested for delivery of a controlled substance to a minor.  A…Wisconsin…court…[arrested a] woman…and [subjected] her to involuntary…medical treatment [because she planned to use a midwife instead of an obstetrician]…if passed, so called “personhood” measures would: 1) provide the basis for arresting pregnant women who have abortions; and 2) provide state actors with the authority to subject all pregnant women to surveillance, arrest, incarceration, and other deprivations of liberty whether women seek to end a pregnancy or not…

pregnant caucasian woman portrait attached with handcuffs isolated studio on white backgroundFor those still stuck in fantasyland about the innate trustworthiness of government, consider that Brazil has already tried to force all pregnant women to submit to compulsory registration and monitoring.  Even people who believe abortion should be illegal don’t generally think women should be arrested for it, but that is exactly what would happen because authoritarian governments totally lack both self-control and the ability to differentiate between an illegal act and a criminal one.  Having given the matter all the consideration it is due, I have come to the conclusion that I can no longer back any legal limits on abortion whatsoever; though I still feel it is unethical for a doctor to abort a viable and healthy fetus without some compelling reason, I also believe it is no concern of the state or any other uninvolved party, and that laws governing pregnancy inevitably lead to far greater evils than the rare ones they prevent.

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You need to tailor your response to the reality. You should not tailor your response to the hype.  –  Ann Jordan

R.I.P. Robyn Few

The founder of SWOP-USA died Thursday (September 13th) at the age of 54 after a long battle with cancer.  She became an activist for HIV and medical marijuana in the early 1990s, but prostitution was at that time simply a way to pay the bills ; that changed after she was targeted for her activism by FBI and arrested in June of 2002.  In October of the following year she founded SWOP-USA on the model of SWOP Australia, and just two months later helped Dr. Annie Sprinkle organize the first Day To End Violence Against Sex Workers.  Biographical details are scarce, but I’m trying to get a proper obituary together for her for this Monday.

Updates

He or She?

Sometimes, men’s transgender paranoia is so severe it can lead to violence:

…20-year-old Christian Ariel Romero met [a] 41-year-old [transgendered prostitute]…and…offered [her] money for sex, Montgomery County police said…[but] when Romero discovered his companion was a man, he…repeatedly stabbed the victim…The judge set bail at $500,000, which [Romero’s lawyer] called harsh…“The defendant is a person who’s 20 years old, never done anything wrong in his entire life.  And the person who is on the other side is…a prostitute…with a track record, a history…”

As is typical in stories involving transgendered people, everyone dances around pronouns and facts are sparse or contradictory; the reporter says the victim was a “man” but she may have been a pre-op transsexual.  And the lawyer’s insinuation that the victim somehow deserved a murderous assault is “NHI” thinking at its most repellent.

All in the Family

Robin Hustle has a great deal more patience than I do; if I had a story of coming out to parents who were in denial about my sex work, I certainly wouldn’t tell it on Jezebel.  The article is intelligent, well-written, right on and even funny, but of course the comments are largely what you’d expect (starting with the very first one, which basically accuses her of lying).  No thanks; I learned my lesson with Feministe.

Follow Your Bliss

A disproportionate number of perverts, rapists and pedophiles have been discovered in a job which allows them to grope and fondle women and children with impunity in public.  Golly gee, who could’ve predicted that?

Crystal Ball

As I predicted, a few journalists are beginning to question the “sex trafficking” hype; though this article reprinted from Christian Science Monitor overstates the credibility of some of the fanatics’ claims and quotes professional victim Stella Marr at length, it also interviews prominent trafficking hysteria critic Ann Jordan, criticizes celebrity opportunists like Ashton Kutcher and flatly states that the scare-figures are wildly exaggerated:

…the…statistic…that there are 100,000 to 300,000 sex slaves in the US – figures repeated by interviewers, blogs, TV hosts and…movie stars…are wrong…the number of actual sex-trafficking victims has been estimated by the US government to be in the tens of thousands, but even those numbers have been criticized as unfounded and far too high; between 2008 and 2010, federally funded human-trafficking task forces opened 2,515 suspected incidents of human trafficking for investigation.  Among those cases, only 248 suspected sex-trafficking victims under the age of 18 were identified…Hype over such high and inaccurate numbers of “child sex slaves” leads to a misguided response at best…At worst, it siphons financial resources away from preventing other sorts of human trafficking…[and] undermines solutions to problems…that lead to exploited youth in the first place…

Bottleneck

Cause:  Making it essentially impossible for brothels to operate legally.  Effect:  Lots of illegal brothels.

…Elena Jeffreys said when sex work was decriminalised 16 years ago, local councils were given the job of regulating the industry…but…they are now knocking back brothels on moral grounds…”Their job is to regulate the sex industry, not just to blanket knock back every single (brothel) application they get.  There’s some local councils in NSW that have never approved a brothel application and then they wonder why there’s brothels in their suburb that are unapproved”…Ms Jeffreys said there were more than 6000 sex workers in the state and most people would have lived near a brothel or a sex worker at some point without knowing it…

Capricious Lusts

I don’t think I’ve ever seen an American sex worker activist (other than myself) make this enlightened point:

…Controversial model-actress [Gehana Vasisth] recently tweeted that she wanted to open a…high class hygienic brothel where men could come and satisfy themselves…with professional, medically certified commercial sex workers…According to Gehana, legalising prostitution and pornography in India – like it is in the West – will help reduce crimes against women drastically.  “If men can satisfy their carnal desires without any restriction, rape and other crimes against women will be reduced,” she explained…

Metaupdates

How Old is Oldest? in June Updates (Part Three)

Over a year after the controversy which caused his break with Psychology Today, evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa is back with a new blog entitled E pur si muove on a relatively new website named Big Think.  And though his debut is not without controversy even there, Kanazawa’s “about” blurb states:

E pur si muove is about science.  Science is the accumulation of pure knowledge for its own sake; it has no other goals or purposes.  In science, only logic and evidence are the arbitrators of the truth; nothing else matters.  No scientific conclusions can ever be good or bad, desirable or undesirable, sexist, racist, offensive, reactionary or dangerous; they can only be true or false.  No other adjectives apply.  If the truth offends people, it is our job as scientists to offend them.  In the memorable words of David Hilbert, Wir müssen wissen, wir werden wissen.  If what I say as a scientist is wrong, because it is illogical or lacks credible scientific evidence, then it is my problem.  If what I say offends you, then it is your problem.  Get over it.  Prepare to be offended.

And really, that’s pretty much my attitude in this blog as well; I wish Dr. Kanazawa the best of luck with his new site and hope Big Think proves to be more dedicated to free speech than Psychology Today has proven itself to be.

Hard Numbers in TW3 (#16)

Whenever it looks like something might be decriminalized (such as brothel ownership in Brazil), you can bet the police will launch as many “crackdowns” as possible before their window of opportunity closes:

On the eve of June 14…armed members of [Rio’s] Police…and  public prosecutor’s office arrived at a brothel called Centauros…[where] they arrested prostitutes, management and the owner, seized documents, computers…used condoms…and…$150,000…in cash.  The owner…spent a week at a maximum security prison.  The prostitutes were released the same night and found work at other upscale brothels…Quite a lot of drama when you consider that prostitution is not actually a crime in Brazil…But as Rio de Janeiro prepares for its turn on the global stage – as the host of the World Cup in 2014, then the 2016 Summer Olympics – the city is taking drastic action to keep its thriving sex industry out of the spotlight.  Rio has already shuttered 24 sex establishments…and…another 33 venues have been threatened or harassed by the police…It’s the biggest crackdown…in a generation…according to anthropologists Thaddeus Blanchette and Ana Paula da Silva, who have been studying prostitution in Rio since 2004 and have authored almost 20 academic papers on [the subject]…

Prudish Pedants in TW3 (#18)

Keep in mind, California is still under a SCOTUS mandate to reduce its prison population, yet this persecution for profit continues:

Fetish filmmaker and distributor Ira Isaacs’ sentencing was put on hold last month because federal prosecutors intended to present evidence to support…a two-level increase in sentencing…[for] federal crime[s] where the defendant knew or should have known that a victim involved in an offense was a “vulnerable victim”…presumably [this means] an actor or actors involved in films deemed obscene…prosecutors have recommended that Isaacs serve a term of up to seven years and three months in prison, as well as a three-year term of supervised release and a $10,000 fine…[the court also stole] all of his websites…copyrights…computers, servers, props and video equipment.

Against Their Will in TW3 (#20)

Another win-win situation ruined by busybodies:

The Malay Mail reports [that a] car wash in…Kuala Lumpur…had formed a partnership with a local massage parlour, enabling customers to redeem free sex from the brothel as part of a customer loyalty scheme…police stormed the parlour and found several stamped loyalty cards that had been used by customers…officer Emmi Shah Fadhil [said]…“To get the extra ‘offer’, customers must send their cars for washing nine times within a certain period…The tenth car wash will entitle them to free sex.”  The parlour would usually charge between 130 and 180 Malaysian Ringgit ($40-$55) – cheaper than the $65 price for a full-service car wash.  Prostitution is illegal in Malaysia.  As a result of the raid, nine Vietnamese women aged between 18 and 28 were arrested.

Actually prostitution isn’t illegal in Malaysia; only public solicitation is.  However, for the past four years the Malaysian government has been engaged in a campaign to violently suppress brothels under the guise of “fighting human trafficking” in order to win a pat on the head and a “good doggie” from the US State Department.

See No Evil in TW3 (#24)

An anti-sex fanatic’s crusade to criminalize a lump of bronze continues:

…a bare-breasted sculpture in an Overland Park arboretum has triggered a grand jury investigation into whether the city is promoting obscenity to minors.  The artwork, titled “Accept or Reject” and donated by Chinese artist Yu Chang, depicts…what the artist statement says is the incomplete identity expressed in one’s digital self — critics contend it promotes “sexting” to children…”The statue appeals to an unwholesome obsession with a sexual act” [said petition sponsor Phillip] Cosby…who calls sexting “the most under-prosecuted crime in America”…

Anybody who claims that any crime (other than those committed under color of authority) in America is “under-prosecuted” is certifiably insane.

Sisters in Arms in TW3 (#29)

If abortion is criminalized, do people really want women who get them imprisoned?  Or will this turn into another Swedish Model-like agency-denying thing which only persecutes abortion providers (and maybe men who urge or pay for them)?

Broken Record in TW3 (#32)

Here’s a long but must-read essay by Georgina Perry of Open Doors, a London health organization serving sex workers; she explains how Olympic “sex trafficking” hysteria was amplified by politicians, the police, the media and others, and collapsed when one especially vociferous NGO lost its main source of funding:

For the last three years I’ve been…relegated from a professional considered knowledgeable in her field, to a noisy troublemaker, determined to rail against received wisdom.  I’ve had the data I assiduously collect, analyse and make public quoted back to me by law enforcement agencies, the media and NGOs but with clumsy interpretations skewed to strengthen a particular rhetoric…as the 2012 London Olympics drew inexorably towards us, the whole of the UK suddenly became an expert on my job…[the]experience…left me cynical and at times speechless at the sheer effrontery of those who stood to gain from talking up a story that…is not, has not and is unlikely to ever be a reality…

Naked Truth in TW3 (#35)

Melissa Gira Grant was interviewed on “Behind the News with Doug Henwood” on public radio station KPFA in Berkeley, California this past Thursday; she talked about the rescue industry, agency denial and the neofeminist anti-sex work agenda (starting at 30:00).

This Week in 2011

How “feminist” laws infantilize or pathologize women, how Arianna Huffington panders to hysteria, how politicians judge others but never themselves, and why only some religions have freedom.  Also, an Algerian tribe in which prostitution was normal and accepted and an essay on whores in the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs.

This Week in 2010

The importance of caring for husbands sexually, the woman known to history as “The Yellow Rose of Texas”, a few book reviews, a story I wrote when I was 18, “whoredar”, and a little about my lesbian experiences.

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What a strange thing man is; and what a stranger thing woman. – Lord Byron

Tomorrow I’ll be doing a question and answer column, but there was one query which I realized needed a column all to itself because the answer really isn’t as interesting as the question.  It was, “How can you tell a transsexual from a biological woman?”  Most of my female readers probably consider the answer to be obvious, but since many of my male readers may be equally convinced that it isn’t I think it’s best to examine the reasons for the question before moving on to the answer.

You would probably have to have lived at the bottom of the sea for your entire adult life to be unaware that some people born male are, to one degree or another, uncomfortable in their gender role; obviously some born-female are as well, but while many women who feel that way attempt to deny all gender by becoming neofeminists, men adopt a variety of behaviors ranging from cross-dressing to sex-change surgery.  Women who cross-dress for sexual reasons are pretty rare and female-to-male transsexuals are unimportant to this  discussion, so when I use the term “transgender” in this column it will heretofore mean only a male-to-female transsexual.  The term “transgender” started out as an umbrella term for many kinds of gender nonconformity, but has settled in to basically mean what used to be described by the term “transsexual”.

Most cross-dressers are perfectly happy being male; they are not attracted to other men and their attachment to women’s lingerie probably arises from the same murky swamp of male sexuality as so many other “perversions” do.  Indeed, most escorts have probably encountered clients who ask if they can wear women’s lingerie during sex or even answer the door in such garb without asking first.  I never had a man surprise me that way, which is a good thing because my feelings on it would be the same as mixing BDSM with full service; I just can’t let a man inside me if I can’t take him seriously.  Dominatrices cater to clients who wish to be “forced” to cross-dress as a BDSM “punishment”, and some of these men even derive a sexual thrill from going out in public and attempting to pass as women.

But that’s not the same thing as a transwoman, who actually feels uncomfortable as a male and really wants to be a woman.  There are three types of transsexuals, Type 1, Type 2 and Extreme; as Dr. Helena put it, Type 1 transsexuals feel as though they are women in men’s bodies, Type 2 transsexuals only think they feel as though they are women in men’s bodies, and extreme transsexuals actually are women in men’s bodies.  Type 1 transsexualism appears to derive from some childhood environment which stunted the development of a male self-image and caused the transsexual to pattern his psyche on strong female role models, while Type 2 appears to derive from trauma which causes the transsexual to reject his male identity.  And extreme transsexualism (AKA gender dysmorphia) appears to derive from neurological causes which actually program a biological, XY chromosome male to think and feel like a woman, though he still has a physically and hormonally normal male body.  At one time strict standards were in place to allow all extreme transsexuals and those Type 1 cases who could learn to live and behave like women to be recommended for gender reassignment while prohibiting Type 2 cases from doing so, but in recent years “queer activists” and easy international travel have combined to wreck or circumvent many of the safeguards which were designed to keep disturbed individuals from implementing irreversible changes to their bodies and later regretting it.  Gender reassignment does not consist merely of sex-change surgery; it requires years of hormone therapy and electrolysis to remove his beard and other female-inappropriate body hair, and the candidate who wishes to do it by the numbers rather than simply flying to Thailand has to undergo years of psychological therapy as well.  The costs of all this are astronomical, many tens of thousands of dollars, so a certain percentage of transsexuals turn to prostitution (generally at the street level) to earn it.

So in any large city, there is a small population of prostitutes, mostly streetwalkers, who dress as women but are not biologically female.  Some of these are transsexuals earning their fees, while others are simply ordinary homosexual prostitutes who dress in drag; since all of these individuals lack female equipment they generally work at the low end where they can make a living only providing oral sex (unlike escorts, whose clientele presumes that full service is on the menu if desired).  Traditionally these drag prostitutes did not openly advertise their masculinity (though it was generally obvious to those with eyes to see), but in modern times the internet has provided them with a venue to seek out those men who actually want to have sex with pre-operative transsexuals (also called “she-males” or “chicks with dicks” by their aficionados).  But while some men actively seek transsexuals and some don’t care if only oral sex is involved, a much larger percentage are repelled by the thought of sexual contact with a male, however disguised, and in a few this goes beyond mere aversion to active concern.  For whatever reason, these men are haunted by the thought that a prostitute they hire might be a post-operative transsexual.

Let’s face it; men really don’t look much like women.  Even with padding in the right places they’re taller and larger, their faces, shoulders and waists are wider, they have thicker skin and deeper voices and hair everywhere, and their mannerisms aren’t much like those of women even when they try.  In Hollywood comedies, men often dress as women and succeed in fooling everyone, but in the real world someone encountering the title character from Tootsie would be more likely to say, “Why is Dustin Hoffman in drag?” than “Wow, what a babe.”  Normal men do not have access to Hollywood makeup artists and are seen from every angle rather than photographed in carefully-planned shots, and real people can’t help noticing the heavy theatrical makeup men need to cover their beard stubble.  Even drag queens who perform in clubs benefit from dim lighting conditions and the distance of the audience from the stage.  As I said above, transsexuals are physically and hormonally male; even years of hormone therapy and full-body electrolysis cannot erase greater height and larger bone structure, and once the larynx expands during puberty not even voice lessons can disguise the male vocal timbre.

Yet the myth persists; some men are absolutely convinced that a large percentage of escorts are actually post-operative transsexuals, and that it’s difficult to tell even when naked in the same bed with them!  I suspect this idea is really just an exaggeration of the fact that some streetwalkers are either pre-operative transsexuals or drag queens, and the fact that a blow job from a fully-dressed streetwalker in a dimly-lit car is a far cry from a full-service call with a naked escort in a well-lit hotel room gets lost in the paranoia.  Tourists to New Orleans, with its large homosexual population, seem especially worried about this; every week at least two or three guys, always tourists, asked if the girl I was about to send was a “real” girl, and every so often the number of such inquiries would explode for a few days (presumably after some “cautionary” TV show aired or magazine article was published).  In truth, I knew of exactly four transsexual prostitutes in New Orleans; three were streetwalkers who worked out of the seedy Tulane Motel and one was an escort whom I never met, but was described to me by Doug as looking “like a stevedore in drag.”  Despite the popular myth of their prevalence in the Big Easy, no service with which I was connected could even supply a transsexual hooker if a client wanted one!

But let’s assume for the sake of argument that a post-operative transsexual whore was short (by male standards), slender, possessed of very fine features and a high-pitched voice, and had received sufficient hormone therapy to give her a feminine shape and soft skin, and enough electrolysis to absolutely remove all facial hair and unfeminine body hair; are there any unalterable characteristics which would still allow one to tell that she was not biologically female?  Obviously fleshy tissues can be surgically altered, but bone structure cannot, and there are a few such ways in which the average woman differs from the average man.  The most obvious is in the proportional size of the hands and feet; even a short man tends to have larger hands and feet than a woman of the same physical size.  The necks of women are proportionately longer and more slender than those of men, and this cannot be altered even if the Adam’s apple is shaved down.  Also, women are leggier than men; though my husband is 8” taller than I am my waist is only barely below his, and I’m sure many of my readers have made comparable observations with their spouses.  Finally, the index fingers of women are generally the same length as our ring fingers or slightly longer, while those of men are usually shorter than the ring finger.  Of course none of these are foolproof tests; Uma Thurman has huge hands and feet, as did Jackie Kennedy Onassis, and I’m sure there are some men whose hands and feet are as small as a woman’s.  I’ve met men with long, slender necks and women with bull necks, and I had a friend whose legs were so short that even though we were the same height standing, she was noticeably taller when sitting.  And some studies suggest lesbians have longer ring fingers than other women, so that their hands are of similar proportions to those of men.

The short answer to my correspondent’s question, then, is that though there is no foolproof test, there are a few which would usually serve to allow a post-operative transsexual to be told apart from a woman of similar size and build.  But I have a rhetorical question for you:  Far be it from a bisexual woman to presume to understand a heterosexual man’s thinking, but why does it really matter?  If your escort looks, sounds, acts and performs so much like a woman that you need some sort of Blade Runner replicant test to tell the difference, then what is the difference?  If you were looking for a wife and planning to have kids I could see how it would be important, but for an hour’s diversion why is that particular aspect of an escort’s medical history more important than any other?  You’re not going to turn gay from unknowingly copulating with her, so I don’t think I’m out of line in saying that when it comes to whores, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.

UPDATE:  Since I first wrote this column, my thinking on the subject has evolved considerably; I now realize that despite the positive ending, I inadvertently perpetuated some harmful stereotypes and slurs in the text.  See “Due Consideration” for further discussion, and please accept my sincere apologies for the unintentional negativity.

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