Posts Tagged ‘holidays’

No Thanks

Were it not for Halloween’s growing popularity as an adult drinking holiday [Christmas displays] might have broken into October by now.  –  “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Black Friday memeIt didn’t take long for my prediction to become a reality; last year I saw Christmas displays at a farm supply store two weeks before Halloween, and this year I saw them at Lowe’s around the same time.  Stores that don’t carry Halloween merchandise have now broken the Halloween barrier, and even retailers like Wal-mart are inching past it in parts of the store, with full-on Christmas displays emerging on Halloween afternoon.  Long-time readers know that though I love Christmas, I like seasons to be seasonal; part of what makes Christmas fun is that it’s a special time of year, and something that occupies a quarter of the calendar can hardly be considered “special”.  Did you notice the color of my nails in the photo I posted Tuesday?  Brown.  For autumn, and for the browned foods of Thanksgiving.  They won’t go Christmas red until my next visit to the nail parlor this coming Tuesday.  And they haven’t been black since shortly after Halloween; no matter what the marketers may push, black is not the appropriate color for today or for any other part of the Christmas season.  If you want to go out there and risk death, dismemberment or police brutality for a chance at one of an artificially-small number of low-priced bait-and-switch items hurled down by the millionaire top-management of “big box” stores like scraps tossed off the palace balcony to the starving peasantry, be my guest; I won’t be joining you.  Though I won’t be spending the day out in the country as I have for the past 10 years, I’ll mostly be spending it with friends and I’m not going anywhere near a retail store.  I will, however, be continuing one of my long-standing traditions:  collecting toys to donate to needy children via the Toys for Tots program.  If you live in or near Seattle and would like to help me in this effort, please email me; from now until the 18th I’m also offering a special deal for clients as part of that effort, and if you’d like to take advantage of that you can click here to get in touch with me about it.  Christmas is what we make it:  it can be a time to rush and stress, or a time to relax and enjoy; a time to let marketers lead you around by the nose, or a time to share what you have.  I know how I’m going to celebrate, and as I do every year I invite you to join me.  And if you see any Sallies ringing bells, please give them this with my compliments.Salvation Army donation

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Thanksgiving 2015

Happy Thanksgiving to my American readers!  To you, and also to my readers outside the US, I wish y’all all the peace and prosperity you could hope for, and then some.  Blessed Be!

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Sex worker rights are human rights, and there can never be too many voices speaking up for them, nor too many occasions on which to speak.  –  “Never Too Many

many red umbrellasIt’s that day again:  Friday the 13th, the day on which I ask non-sex workers to speak up for us.  As I’ve explained many times before, there is no possible way we can ever hope to win our rights without the help of allies; since only about 0.3% of the female population are whores at any given time (about 1% over their lifetimes), we simply don’t constitute a large enough voting bloc for politicians to give a damn about us, especially at a time when the popular fad is to pretend that we’re passive victims in need of “rescue” from our own choices.  As I explained two years ago,

…the gay rights movement didn’t really take off until the friends and families of gay people got involved, and…we’re going to need [similar] help to make our voices heard.  We need all the sex workers (such as strippers, dominatrices and porn actresses) whose fields aren’t currently criminalized, and the sugar babies and [others] who have informally or indirectly taken money for sex…We need all of the men who hire us at least occasionally…[and] all of the women who recognize that…laws which can be used to arrest us will also work to arrest you.  We need all of those who love porn, polyamory, BDSM or kink, because even though policing of sex usually starts with harlots, it never stops with us.  We need all of the public health and human rights experts who understand the necessity of decriminalization…all of the libertarians who recognize that governmental prohibition of consensual behavior is both indefensible and dangerous to individual liberty, and all of the feminists who recognize that a woman’s right to control her own body and make her own sexual and economic choices is the  primary feminist issue.  And we need all of the decent human beings who don’t fall into any of those categories, but are simply disgusted by the idea of armed thugs arresting, humiliating and ruining people for the “crime” of consensual sex…

Over the past few years, the number of voices supporting us has grown by leaps and bounds; decriminalization is now supported by every major human rights organization (including Amnesty International), every major health organization (including the WHO), several UN organizations (including UNAIDS), and literally hundreds of other groups concerned with law, labor, women’s rights, individual liberty and many other subjects.  Every academic who has made a methodologically sound and ideology-free study of the subject has reached the same or very similar conclusions, and after the ill-considered raid on the gay escort site Rentboy, even most gay rights organizations and activists have come over to the side of individual rights and self-ownership.  But that’s still not enough; stupidity, ignorance, prudishness, statism, control-freakishness and bigotry run deep in human society, and it will take vast resources and millions of voices to beat those back into the outer darkness where they belong.  We need everyone to speak up for us, not just today but every day; however, today is a start.  Please say something in favor of decriminalization today, either in person or online; if it’s online, link it in a comment below and call it to my attention on Twitter so I can signal boost it.  And if you can do a little more than talk, such as by making a donation to my work or that of a local, national or international sex worker rights organization, today would be a great day to do it!  And when the day at last comes that we win our right to live and work free from state violence, you will know that you helped that happen.

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The sex is ever to a soldier kind.  –  Homer, Odyssey (XIV, 246)

camp followersSince the time humans began carving out territories for ourselves, we’ve been going to war with one another.  Since the rise of centralized governments such wars have usually been conducted by a professional warrior class, and wherever the soldiers have gone whores have never been far behind.  Every army, whether on the march or in garrison, has attracted “camp followers”, non-military personnel who follow along because it’s profitable to do so.  And because armies are (and always have been) mostly made up of healthy young men, deprived of the company of young women and with nothing in particular to accomplish with their pay, many camp followers have always been prostitutes (indeed, the former is often used as a euphemism for the latter).

Up until a century ago, nobody pretended to be surprised by this or subscribed to the ridiculous delusion that it could or should be prevented somehow; the first country to imagine otherwise, the United Kingdom, first contented itself (starting in 1864) with a series of increasingly-oppressive “Contagious Disease Acts” justified as a means of preventing the spread of STIs in the military.  But even the British allowed their officers in the Great War to avail themselves of well-run “blue lamp” brothels…while denying the enlisted men prophylactics and restricting them to makeshift “red lamp” facilities staffed by near-amateurs, then wringing their collective hands at an STI rate seven times that of their German foes.  And while the French, Canadians and New Zealanders followed the same sort of pragmatic practices as the Germans did, the Americans preferred the British “order the men to be asexual” approach; New Orleans’ “Storyville” district was closed by federal order in 1917 at the urging of Josephus Daniels, Secretary of the Navy, who considered the whores a “bad influence” on the sailors at the nearby naval base.

By the time of World War II, it seemed the pragmatic approach was winning:

…The military governor of Hawaii did everything he could to make the hookers of Honolulu happy; Hitler ordered that his troops be issued blow-up sex dolls; the American authorities distributed condoms; and the Japanese resorted to the abominable “comfort women” scheme (which was also used in reverse form, with Japanese whores for American troops, during the first year of the occupation)…illustrations of feminine pulchritude…brightened barracks, bunks, tents and even the noses of bombers.  On British planes, those paintings were often of Jane, a shapely Daily Mirror comic-strip character who would always somehow manage to lose her clothes by the last panel, usually in some incredibly unlikely fashion;nose art In the Mood Christabel Leighton-Porter, the model upon whom she was based, also posed for nude photos which were literally dropped in bundles to the troops to increase morale…

But this swing toward rationality was short-lived, and soon after the war the world lost its collective mind on the subject:

…The Vietnamese and Ouled-Nail prostitutes who served as nurses during the siege of Dien Bien Phu have almost been erased from history, as have the women of Honolulu’s tolerated brothels who served the same function after Pearl Harbor and entertained the Navy for the rest of the war.  The French like to pretend that women who survived by providing services to the occupying Nazis were somehow different from the others who were forced to deal with them; the Japanese still deny the extent or even the existence of the military brothels in which they enslaved (mostly Korean) women for the “comfort” of their troops.  And the American military establishment continues to demand that its men avoid the company of professionals no matter how much this policy angers the host country or how many sexual assaults result from it, thus prioritizing the wishes of prudish fanatics above the health and happiness of the troops of both sexes…

There is no way to tell how long this will go on, but sooner or later this neo-Victorian prudishness must end; things go in cycles, and eventually the sex-negative phase we’ve been in for over a generation now will be discarded by younger people eager to do things differently.  But as military organizations themselves are also changing due to the advance of technology, what will that mean for sex workers?  Only time will tell, but I feel perfectly safe in declaring that as long as military organizations exist, they will continue to have a deep and close relationship with whores, whether those in power approve or not.

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The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.  –  Thomas Jefferson

sequoia wildfireThe quote which forms today’s epigram is probably a familiar one, but few people are familiar with the larger paragraph in which it is embedded.  Jefferson was referring to Shay’s Rebellion (arguably the single strongest motivator which caused the weak central government of the Articles of Confederation to be replaced by the strong one established by the US Constitution) when he wrote:

God forbid we should ever be 20 years without such a rebellion…If [the people] remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty…what country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance?

Every November 5th I call for a rededication of the holiday from one in which rebels are burned in effigy to one in which tyrants are burned in effigy instead; in most of those essays I have quoted what I wrote the first time, words which echo Jefferson’s sentiments expressed above:

Governments need to be reminded (at least annually if not constantly) that they only hold power by the sufferance of all the people, not merely the majority, and that the overthrow of any government by a disgruntled minority is always a possibility.  I would like to see most if not all politicians and their minions paying for their power and privilege by being forced to live in a constant state of nervous anxiety; maybe then fewer would choose that path and more would concern themselves with keeping all the citizenry happy rather than merely pleasing barely enough of the population to keep themselves in office.

Every time a cop murders some unarmed person, pig apologists sonorously remind us how dangerous police work is (which it isn’t, by the by), and how tewwified the poor widdle coppies are, boo hoo hoo.  To which I reply:  They aren’t nearly terrified enough.  I want them to be so fucking terrified that they can’t sleep at night, so utterly frightened that they don’t dare leave their fucking stations.  I want them so scared they piss themselves on a daily basis and quit long before they can develop the kind of swagger that lets them go around beating, robbing, raping and murdering without fear of repercussions.  I want them to have nightmares of surveillance cameras recording their every move, and I want televised trials of bad cops every fucking day to serve the same function as a coyote’s hide nailed to a fence post by a rancher.  Tyrants and their thug-enforcers alike deserve to be burned in effigy, to be cursed and spat upon every time they venture into public, to be (figuratively) crucified for the slightest abuse of power.  We make government positions attractive to sociopaths by heaping accolades and privileges upon them; instead, those positions need to be made so repellent that nobody will stay in them for very long.  The price of power needs to be very high indeed to prevent exactly what the United States has turned into: a fascist police state whose rulers can do anything they like to the ruled without any consequences at all.

It’s much, much too late for this to happen in the US; no decaying empire in the history of the world has ever been revived once it got to the level of corruption this country reached a generation ago, and things have grown much worse since then.  Two years ago I wrote:

…old, decaying things must be cleared away – sometimes forcibly – in order to make way for new, younger and often better things.  Old people must pass on to make room for new children; dilapidated buildings must be demolished to pave the way for new construction.  And old, moribund governments which serve only the entrenched and wealthy must be removed if we are to build new ones which better serve all of the people and protect minorities from oppression by both majorities and other, more privileged minorities…

Like it or not, this is the future Americans face; our rulers have made peaceful change impossible, therefore violent change has become inevitable.  The system will be burned to the ground, whether we want it to or not; I don’t really want to see it, but if I live to be as old as Maman that will be a forlorn hope, as I don’t actually believe the system can survive another 40 years the way things are going.  The fire is coming, but as The Onion satirically reminds us, that is not a bad thing:

…a study…found that regular, controlled Washington, D.C. wildfires are crucial to the restoration of a healthy political environment.  “Periodic blazes that destroy sections of the Beltway region are a natural part of the political cycle and play a key role in maintaining democratic balance,” read the study in part, which explained that occasional wildfires of mild to moderate intensity are the most important and effective mechanism for clearing out old federal agencies so that new ones can take their place and flourish.  “Although such fires are often considered a hazard, without them government would quickly become dense, overrun, and impenetrable, stifling political diversity and inhibiting the germination of new ideas”…The study concluded that attempts to suppress the wildfires would likely only lead to the occurrence of far more powerful blazes in the future capable of causing significant, permanent damage to the government’s branches.

In reality, the entrenched establishment has prevented those moderate fires; the big one which will cause permanent damage is coming.  We can only hope that the ashes left behind are fertile soil for something better, leaner and healthier.Washington burning

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Diary #279

1030152107aSlowly but surely, I’m getting back into the swing of things in Seattle.  Last week I attended a lovely party at which I got to meet quite a few inhabitants and habitués of the Seattle demimonde, and to catch up with some friends and fans I hadn’t seen in a while.  I wasn’t sure what I was going to do for my birthday; in a few days I’m going to be marking the occasion by getting together with a small group of friends, but I still wanted to do something on Halloween and Jae goes to sleep quite early these days.  She doesn’t like horror movies anyway, and since that’s my usual Halloween entertainment I was at a bit of a loss.  But Abby May came through for me by taking me out to Guillermo del Toro’s new release, Crimson Peak; it was a treat to see a Gothic on the big screen again, and since it’s been years since I’ve been to a theater at all that was already a treat in itself.  Late in the (rainy, spooky) afternoon I got a lovely flower arrangement from Grace, along with a card that had me crying like a baby.  And Jae displayed her knack for clever gifts by presenting me with the lady in the picture, who now occupies a place of honor atop my desk; if you don’t understand why this gift is appropriate, I call your attention to my book cover and several stories I published almost a year ago.  And if you know me in person, you might want to pay attention to a certain recurring theme in my wardrobe.

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What caused this…is still a mystery.  –  Chuanmin Hu

It always seems that the best Halloween videos appear after it’s too late to feature them before Halloween!  This one’s from Claudia Cristophe and the links above it are from Clarkhat (the first two), Elizabeth N. BrownNun Ya, and Radley Balko (in that order).

From the Archives

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