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Posts Tagged ‘hysteria’

People you know and love purchase sex. And it doesn’t make them bad people at all.  –  Sarah Penello

Welcome To Our World

How irrationally stupid are people about sex?  This much:

…a study out of the University of Toronto Mississauga…looked at attitudes [on indoor prostitution and offering cash for organ donations. and] found that people generally disapprove of both, but are more firmly against indoor prostitution than they are against selling organs – particularly so among women…

Real People 

More of this, please:

I worked for a legal brothel in Australia and it was the best job I ever had…I loved and admired the women I worked with.  I took great pride in the pleasure I could give to people.  It was a job that I enjoyed, and I was better at it because I enjoyed it…Besides the inherent pleasure of a job well done, the monetary rewards of sex work are unmatched.  Try finding another job that allows me to choose my own hours and make over $1,000 per week on a part-time schedule.  In a legal, regulated and safe environment, the real trap of sex work isn’t usually the stuff of horror movies but the less exciting reality of the intoxicating quality of money…

Scapegoats 

He’s lucky he didn’t try to pay the pony:

A 74-year-old Frenchman who was caught in the act of having sex with a pony this week has walked free after escaping punishment…[he] was caught in the act…by a member of staff in the pony’s stable at a horse-riding centre…the witness…was unable to be absolutely sure that intercourse took place [so]…police released [him] due to insufficient evidence…

Above the Law John Van Trump

What a brave hero!

…[Texas cop] John Van Trump was [convicted] of sexually assaulting a girl younger than six-years-old…[he faced] a minimum sentence of 25 years in jail and the potential for life…The details of Trump’s crimes were so heinous that they were not released publicly.  We only know that Trump sexually assaulted the daughter of his former girlfriend on multiple occasions.  At the time of the…crimes, she was 5…However, instead of the minimum 25-year sentence he originally faced, Trump received far less time.  In fact, he received no time.  Trump will not serve one day in prison.  Trump was sentenced to 10 years deferred adjudication.  In other words, Trump, a convicted child rapist, will avoid jail altogether after admitting to these heinous accusations…

Uncharted Seas

Nathan Collier and his wives Victoria and Christine applied at the Yellowstone County Courthouse in Billings [Montana] on Tuesday in an attempt to legitimize their polygamous marriage…The Supreme Court’s ruling on Friday made gay marriages legal nationwide.  Chief Justice John Roberts said in his dissent that people in polygamous relationships could make the same legal argument that not having the opportunity to marry disrespects and subordinates them…

New Excuse

I’m really pleased to see others talking about the War on Whores as the new War on Drugs:

…As the drug war has lost popularity, the war on trafficking has gained momentum.  Both the war on drugs and the war on trafficking are housed within the criminal justice system, operating through punishment and incarceration.  Both wars seek to eliminate their abstract opponents by attacking communities of drug users and sex workers, composed mainly of poor people of color.  One way in which both…operate is through the use of increased sanctions.  The criminal justice system imposes harsh penalties on drug and sex related crimes, which in turn leads to mass incarceration, blocking upward mobility for those targeted…

Another Fine Mess

Though this story has some good features, it’s far too mired in the notion that prior to the internet, a very large fraction of sex work was street work (when in fact, street work has always been a minority).  And near the end of the story, the reporter makes the shockingly-incorrect statement that in the US, indoor sex work isn’t criminalized; I can’t imagine how anyone who hadn’t literally just arrived from some other country could possibly be so ignorant about the status of sex work in this country.

Coming and Going (#515) Greg Abbott applauds himself

Given his record of persecuting whores as Texas attorney general, I think we know which it is:

[Texas] governor Greg Abbott, three weeks after effectively telling drug overdosers to drop dead by killing a bill to protect Good Samaritan 911 callers from prosecution…took another…regressive potshot at the Legislature’s attempts to make Texas’ criminal justice system just a bit more humane.  Among the measures killed by…vetoes…was Dallas state Representative Eric Johnson’s HB 1363, which would have reduced penalties for certain prostitution offenses…It’s hard to find a policymaker in Texas…who isn’t in favor of cautiously reducing penalties for nonviolent offenders, and Johnson’s bill is nothing if not cautious.  That leaves only a few possible explanations for Abbott’s veto:  He’s a true believer in an outmoded punitive, tough-on-crime approach to criminal justice; he’s not a true believer but is in thrall to people who are; or he bears a deep-seated animosity toward prostitutes, as he does with drug users.

That Old Black Magic (#546)

Witch doctors do magic vs magic of other witch doctors that kings’ magicians dislike:

…thousands of Nigerian women trafficked to Europe…become sex slaves every year [have] been told [they owe tens of thousands of euros]…for [the] journey…Although the chains…are only psychological, they are extremely powerful.  In their desperation to break the hold over the girls, many of which are sent on the migrant boats crossing the Mediterranean, the Italians have even resorted to get Catholic priests to perform exorcisms on them.  There are estimated to be 25,000 Nigerian girls working as prostitutes in Italy and the numbers arriving rose 300 per cent in 2014, experts say…in Nigeria [witch doctors perform] voodoo [over them and]…promise…hairdresser [jobs but force them into prostitution instead.  They believe they must]…pay off the debt or face terrible repercussions…

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If this newest expansion of the power of costumed clowns to ruin the lives of others by signing a piece of paper doesn’t bother you, I have to wonder if you’re even awake.  –  Maggie McNeill

Yesterday I published an article at Reason about the newest outrage:

Two major credit card companies this week announced that they will refuse to process payments for “adult” ads on the popular advertising site Backpage.com.  Mastercard said Tuesday that it would no longer process these payments; on Wednesday, Visa followed suit.  Since American Express did the same earlier this year, that leaves Bitcoin as the only current means of paying for adult ads on Backpage.  Both…decided to stop processing the payments upon request from Thomas Dart, a Cook County, Illinois, sheriff on a crusade against Backpage…the…conflation [of consensual sex work with “sex trafficking is based on]…the idea that women are such brainless, innocent creatures we’re unable to have sex for reasons other than pleasure or romance; the idea of actually profiting from men’s desire to have sex with us would never enter our fluffy, pink little brains.  So, even if a woman says she’s doing sex work voluntarily, she’s either lying or suffering from “Stockholm syndrome,” and has actually been coerced by a “pimp”…

Dr DoomThe essay covers the relative scarcity of “pimps”, the sick relationship between Dart and billionaire whore-hater Swanee Hunt, the resemblance to Operation Choke Point, and the fact that this is a flagrant violation of due process; Backpage has broken no laws and has consistently won challenges in court, so it has to be shut down by the actions of moralistic megalomaniacs.  This is not to “stop prostitution”, because it can’t and won’t, not even on Backpage; it’s to punish Backpage for refusing to get on its knees and lick the boots of “authorities” who wanted it to capitulate to their whims so they could win political points in the minds of the Great Unwashed.  I don’t use the term “megalomaniac” lightly; Dart’s actions are textbook examples of the mental disorder.  He’s not content with exerting his “authority” over Chicago, nor over the whole state of Illinois, nor even over the entire United States; as of this writing Mastercard and Visa are refusing to process payments to Backpage even in countries where sex work is legal, including Canada and Australia.  Dart has essentially asserted his will over hundreds of thousands of sex workers all over the globe, overruling their own governments in the process; he honestly thinks his political ambitions trump every single government in the world.  That is power-madness of Dr. Doom-like proportions, and if the US government allows his action to stand unchallenged the repercussions will be far greater than sex workers having to find new ways to advertise.

A few practical notes in closing:  it seems as though some forms of Visa (including cards issued by at least some Australian and Canadian banks, at least some prepaid debit Visa cards and the “virtual Visa” from Entropay) are still working as of 8:00 UTC today, and some sex workers have offered to help others learn to use Bitcoin.  Also, Backpage has issued a promo code which can be used to post if one’s credit cards won’t work; the code is FREESPEECH and can be used as often as one likes “until the payment issues are resolved“.  Furthermore, I’m meeting this morning with the CEO of a new escort advertising and screening service due to go online in the next few weeks, which promises to be even more affordable than Backpage; he’s seeking my help in making his site useful and helpful to the sex worker community, which is already a strong sign in its favor (what I’ve seen so far impresses me very much).  I’ll keep you posted on developments to this story in my News columns, and of course on Twitter, as I find out about them, and I’ll devote a whole column to that new escort site as soon as it goes live.

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

The Going Rate

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

Thinking With the Wrong Head

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

Down Under

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

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

Rooted in Racism

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

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

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic

How many times will we have to say this?

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

Above the Law 

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

Imagination Pinned Down

Here’s another excellent example of stereotypic conformation:

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

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

On the Simultaneous Having and Eating of Cake 

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

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

Monsters 

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

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

Subtle Pimping (#330)

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

Paint By Numbers

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

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

Sex Rays

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

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

Surplus Women (#550) 

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

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“Show us your humanity!” is more belittling and damaging than “Show us your tits!”  –  Conner Habib

Think of the Children! Rafe Esquith

Because ordinary English words can emit sex rays, too!

After being taken out of his classroom for two months, a famous Los Angeles teacher, Rafe Esquith, is filing a claim against the L.A. Unified School District…Esquith…was removed from the classroom and put on paid leave…while the district investigates him for misconduct…[because] he made a joke to his class that prompted a complaint from another teacher…that if the class couldn’t raise enough money for their Shakespeare play then they might have to perform some of it naked, like the king in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn…Superintendent Ramon Cortines [said] that the inquiry includes “serious issues that go beyond the initial investigation”…Esquith is well-known and renowned globally. H e is the recipient of the president’s National Medal of Arts and is the only K-12 teacher to receive that award.  Many of his books, such as Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire, are bestsellers…

Do As I Say, Not As I Do 

You know a jurisdiction is deeply immersed in “end demand” mania when it starts devouring its own and makes grandiose claims:

A former police chief, an attorney and six other area men are facing gross misdemeanor charges of soliciting prostitution…following a sting…Baxter Police Chief Jim Exsted…said the operation…is the first step toward uncovering the major players in sex trafficking in the Brainerd lakes area…

The idea that a Backpage sting could “uncover the major players” in anything is so hilariously stupid it’s almost unbelievable.  But down in Florida, it’s a bit different:

A woman is facing a felony prostitution charge after she was found in a hotel room with a Tallahassee Police Department sergeant…Afton Chewning…was found with 49-year-old TPD Sgt. Brian Davis in a Days Inn motel room…Davis turned himself in…on a misdemeanor charge of solicitation…[and] has filed a plea of not guilty…

Felony for her, misdemeanor (which he’ll certainly escape) for him.  Nice.

Check Your Premises

The fact that one of the “traffickers” really did rape and abuse one woman doesn’t change the incoherence of this first part of the article:

Four sex traffickers who brought more than 50 Hungarian women into the country and sold them as part of their highly lucrative vice empire…in…London are facing years behind bars.  Most of the victims came into the country voluntarily to work in the sex industry, promoted themselves on adult websites and kept half of their earnings…

A Tale That Grew in the Telling

This story on another creepy facial-recognition surveillance tool contains the following incredible claim: “In the United States, more than 800,000 children are reported missing every year, and nearly half end up living on the streets. Seventy percent will become sex trafficking victims, most within their first 72 hours of living on the street…

Surplus Women 

Chillicothe, Ohio…has crept…into headlines…[as] the place where women go missing and wash up dead.  In little over a year, at least six women have disappeared from the town of only 21,000.  Four of their bodies have been found, almost all of them dumped in creeks or streams flowing away from the town…Most of them were hooked on drugs, and many moonlighted as prostitutes to fund their addictions…Some of them even knew one another.  The similarities between the victims and the crime scenes have Chillicothe terrified that a serial killer is on the loose…

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic

In a new book, Sex Addiction: A Critical History, New Zealand academics Barry Reay, Nina Attwood and Claire Gooder claim that porn addiction is mythical; a product of “social opportunism, diagnostic amorphism, therapeutic self-interest and popular cultural endorsement”.  Reay argues that there’s little scientific basis for the classification of porn use as an addiction.  Instead, our sex-negative culture, click-bait media and flourishing therapy industry have combined to create a fanciful and frightening condition…

Above the Law Micah Meurer

An Amarillo [Texas cop] was fired…after investigators determined he had…sexually assaulted her…[the] woman reported…Micah Meurer…had sexually assaulted her in her…home…

Chauvinism

Conner Habib has written year’s best essay about prohibition so far:

I’ll refer to anti-sex-work and anti-porn campaigners here…as “anti-sex bigots”…because sex is what makes sex work so special for them.  Sex makes this line of work a singular profession, mystically distinguished from other jobs.  But…there is no substance to their arguments.  Their tactics are strung together not with understanding or data, but with hate.  Their bigotry is visceral, and their goals are clear:

1. Distort and destroy consent.

2. Create a framework of good vs. evil.

3. Cherry-pick voices.

4. Play the victim while holding the power.

5. Create apocalyptic urgency.

This list might sound like an exaggeration to outsiders.  To sex workers, it’s exhaustingly and overwhelmingly familiar…

Mumbo Jumbo

Apparently it isn’t just whores who have the power to grant demons “permission”:

Pat Robertson…told a woman her son’s “hatred and mental issues” might be brought on by demons, which in turn were brought on because she brought a Ouija board home one time.  “You can open the door to demons…There was one lady I heard about who was demon-possessed [because]…she had gone to an X-rated movie and done all these sex things”…

Challenge (#402) 

Tits and Sass has a pretty good rundown of the key players in the recriminalization of sex work in Rhode Island.  Well worth your time on the principle of “Know thine enemy”.

O, Canada! (All Traffick, All the Time)

At least Canadian media have the sense to put “rescue” in scare quotes:

Windsor police “rescued” two sex workers from harmful situations as part of a provincewide investigation into the sex trade…On June 17-18, human trafficking and vice units from more than 20 different police services across Ontario investigated whether sex workers were involved in human trafficking or exploitation…This latest investigation was the third phase of Operation Northern Spotlight, which is designed to open up lines of communication between police and sex workers…

Buttons, Bags & Banknotes (#423)

Bindel can’t possibly be as delusional as she pretends to be; her slipshod list of “pimp lobby” members proves that.  So what is she really up to?

Julie Bindel is…now raising money for a book she’s writing, to…“outline the emergence of a powerful lobby — the sex workers’ rights movement — that works in favour of a total decriminalisation of the sex industry”…Bindel’s project is…part of anti-sex-work eradicationists’ ongoing drive to paint all sex workers speaking out for their rights as pimps and punters in disguise.  (A reporter who attended one of Bindel’s talks at a Stop Porn Culture conference last year wrote that her “presentation on ‘the politics of the sex industry’” was “a succession of tabloid-style personal attacks on pro-sex industry activists, academics, escorts, and performers, complete with photos seemingly lifted without permission from their social-media profiles”)…

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We all know that a bullet doesn’t leap out the barrel of a gun of its own volition.  When law enforcement departments tie themselves up in shibari-style grammatical knots to imply that it did, they only undermine their own credibility even further.  –  Rhiannon Starr

Rough Trade 

A man has been found guilty of raping a woman in an Edinburgh park.  Faizan Ali attacked [her]…on 13 November 2014…Ali…will be placed on the Sex Offenders Register…

Above the Law 

A…jury found Rajat Sharda guilty…of sexually assaulting a woman in August 2013 after the on-duty officer came across the woman and her boyfriend having sex in a vehicle…Judge David Ricciardone sentenced him…to 5 to 7 years of imprisonment, followed by ten years of probation…

Surplus Women (#24)

A jury…found [Terry Speaks] guilty of killing and dismembering a stripper he lured from a New Orleans French Quarter bar along with his ex-girlfriend…Margaret Sanchez…the couple lured her from the club where she was working, killed her, cut her up and then drove the body parts to Mississippi where they dumped the pieces.  [Jaren] Lockhart’s head, lower legs and left thigh washed up on…beaches in June 2012, triggering an investigation that eventually led authorities to Speaks and Sanchez.  Sanchez’s trial has not yet been scheduled…hilarious trafficking nonsense

The Public Eye

Here’s a profile of sex worker Kitty Stryker, in Cosmopolitan of all places.  Better yet, it’s part of a continuing series.  Hey prohibitionists:  We’re winning.  And there’s not a damned thing you can do about it.

Theatrics

This wouldn’t “shock” anyone with the approximate timidity of a sheep, especially considering it’s at least the third example we’ve seen of this same inane gimmick:

Those who approached what appeared to be a working vending machine…were in for a surprise when they found it filled with an image of two young girls available for purchase.  Rather than candy or soda, the machine contained informational fliers about sex trafficking in Milwaukee as part of an awareness campaign…called “Children Are Not For Sale.”  The fliers highlighted warning signs to look for…Last year’s campaign, called Unlucky Thirteen, was named after the average age of trafficking victims…[a nearby prohibitionist vomited out]…”If you see something, say something” [and] “Milwaukee has been considered a hub for human trafficking”…

Dysphemisms Galore 

Gary is essentially a suburb of Chicago; “cross-border trafficking of prostitutes” therefore actually means “escorts driving across town”:

The Lake and Cook County sheriffs announced a joint initiative Friday to end cross border trafficking of prostitutes between Chicago and Gary.  Sheriff John Buncich and Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart said…they have formed a task force to arrest pimps who shuttle sex workers among clients in the Indiana-Illinois border…Dart singled out Backpage for allowing its classified advertising website…to be used in Indiana and Illinois for illegal activity.  He said human traffickers use the Internet to lure women into prostitution and force them to set up Facebook pages to lure their friends as well…

Yes, that’s the “Facebook pimps” myth again.

Torture Chamber 

Three [guards] at an Alabama county jail were caught coercing female inmates into nude dancing for them in exchange for doughnuts and cell phones…this…seems to be merely the latest in a string of indignities and abuses—some fatal—inflicted on prisoners at Alabama county jails.  Madison County is facing three federal lawsuits filed by the families of former inmates who died while in custody….of conditions that shouldn’t be fatal:  gangrene, a broken bone, and constipation…Sexual abuse, either at the hands of [guards] or simply ignored by them, also seems to be a major problem…

Sex Rays Bree Olson

I’m honestly not sure why this was controversial; nobody can deny it’s true:

…Bree Olson was…a Penthouse pet and the star of hundreds of adult movies…she posted [this] admonition to aspiring porn stars on Twitter…[many] adult performers…applauded Olson’s message…But it also generated some controversy…Olson insists that she has no problem with the porn industry itself, and that her experiences there were largely positive…the worst part…is…that…sex workers are frequently the target of discrimination, even long after they’ve left the industry…

Traffic Circle

Another mainstream article tearing down “sex trafficking” hysteria, this one from a sex worker:

…It is well documented that one of the largest and most conservative lobbies in Washington—Shared Hope International—is behind much of the so-called anti-trafficking policy in the U.S., policy with politically and socially vested interests in conflating sex work with sex trafficking.  It is no secret, of course, that the religious right opposes prostitution on purely moralistic grounds.  Regressive ideologies of gender and sexuality contribute to the belief that prostitution is moral bankruptcy for women and, furthermore, that Godly salvation is the only path to “restoration.”  As a result, sex workers—and other so-called sexually deviant women, often poor women—are scapegoats for anxieties surrounding sex and sexuality more generally.  Perhaps less well known is the link between lobbyists, anti-trafficking non-profits, allocations of federal grant money for academic research, and the subsequent propagation of sexual danger narratives…

Innocence Never Had

Imagine American cops making a statement like this:

Children as young as 12 are working in a hidden Auckland sex scene, according to new research…none of them are protected by the Prostitution Law Reform Act and they often work in unsafe circumstances.  Natalie Thorburn interviewed 10 underage sex workers for her Masters of Social Work (MSW) at the University of Auckland…Some of her participants had parents that had been suicidal or mentally ill and others claimed they were abused by the organisations set up to help them, including claims of sexual assault…Allegations of underage prostitution in Auckland have been made in the past…Police said they treated such allegations seriously but could not find any underage prostitution.  “The reality is we can find no evidence to support that child prostitution is happening, anywhere, at this point in time,” said Counties Manukau West Area Commander Jason Hewett…

Passive Voice (#429)

Police in the United States have fatally shot 455 people so far this year.  The phrase they would use is that 455 officer-involved shootings occurred.  That term is so ubiquitous that it even has its own acronym: OIS.  It’s vile to reduce the loss of a life to three euphemistic letters.  However, it’s not the only strange language in many press releases from US police departments.  Certain rhetorical devices are frequently used to deflect attention away from officers who shoot civilians…Three linguistic sleight-of-hands are wheeled out with wearisome predictability.  The first is suggesting the victim is to blame…The second…is to avoid explicitly stating that a police officer fired the fatal shot…The third…is to describe the gun as if it acted independently of an officer…D. Brian Burghart, the founder of Fatal Encounters…agrees.  “The grammar of officer-involved homicides is Orwellian.  It’s amazing the gymnastics these cops and media will perform to make the officers passive actors in these dramas”…

Crying for Nanny (#539)

Ignorance of the law creates train wrecks like this:

A group of [self-declared] teen sex trafficking victims are appealing the dismissal of their lawsuit against Backpage.com…the Communications Decency Act immunizes Web services companies from liability for crimes by users…[but] the plaintiffs’ [lawyers]…allege that Backpage…violated a host of laws…the Electronic Frontier Foundation and other digital rights advocates…[pointed out] that requiring Backpage to face the lawsuit would cause online platforms to become “more expensive, more restrictive, and ultimately less available for individual expression”…

Follow Your Bliss (#544)

Who are the “sex traffickers” again?

A 25-year-old male “transporter” with all of three days on the job, and no real background check.  And a 17-year-old girl who wound up in foster care partly because she had fallen victim to forced prostitution.  When the eight-hour drive was over, the [girl] had been victimized yet again, and the driver was under investigation for rape…Our Kids, the organization that oversees foster care and adoption services in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties under contract with the Department of Children & Families, declined to discuss the 17-year-old, whose case was being managed by the Family Resource Center, an Our Kids subcontractor…the man…got his job…partly upon the recommendation of another FRC employee, a case worker, to whom he is related…

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Investors and sex workers already know each other…frequently intimately.  –  Bardot Smith

Feminine Pragmatism 

It seems to me that these women knew exactly what they were doing:

Members of a U.N. peacekeeping mission engaged in “transactional sex” with more than 225 Haitian women who said they needed to do so to obtain things like food and medication, a sign that sexual exploitation remains significantly underreported in such missions…About a third of alleged sexual abuse involves minors under 18…And widespread confusion remains on the ground about consensual sex and exploitation…For rural women, hunger, lack of shelter, baby care items, medication and household items were frequently cited as the “triggering need”…urban and suburban women received “church shoes”, cell phones, laptops and perfume, as well as money.  In cases of non-payment, some women withheld the badges of peacekeepers and threatened to reveal their infidelity via social media…

Setting Women’s Rights Back a Century

Amherst says even unconscious men are morally superior to women:

An Amherst College student…accompanied a fellow student back to her dorm room after drinking in February 2012. While he was blacked out, she performed oral sex on him.  Nearly two years later, she would accuse him of sexual assault.  And under Amherst’s guilty-until-proven-innocent…hearing standards, the accused student was expelled…John Doe — is suing the college for denying him due process.  His lawyer had discovered text messages that prove the accused student did not initiate the encounter and in no way sexually assaulted the accuser.  Despite this evidence, the college refused to reopen Doe’s case…Doe was not allowed to directly cross-examine his accuser and could only write down questions for the panel to ask her, leaving no room for follow-ups…the accuser said during her hearing that she only texted one friend to help her handle the assault as she felt “very alone and confused”…Rather, the accuser texted her friend “Ohmygod I jus did something so fuckig stupid” [sic throughout].  She then proceeded to fret that she had done something wrong and her roommate would never talk to her again, because “it’s pretty obvi I wasn’t an innocent bystander”…

J’accuse (#42)International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Strauss-Kahn listens during a news conference in Vienna

Was this outcome ever in doubt?

Former International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn is not guilty of “aggravated pimping”, a French court has ruled.  A judge in Lille described…DSK…as a “libertine” and a “customer”, but said he was not a pimp…

Under Every Bed 

I wonder sometimes if the reporters who write pap like this realize how ridiculous they sound:

A message to those who would traffic in human life:  A crackdown is coming.  New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas plans to sharpen the state’s focus on investigating and prosecuting human trafficking crimes – and has requested a $750,000 federal grant to roughly double the number of personnel dedicated to such cases…Human trafficking is an underreported crime that too frequently goes uninvestigated…New Mexico…has prosecuted fewer than two dozen cases since an anti-human-trafficking law went into effect in 2008. But that number belies the real extent of the crimes committed…[Balderas’ toady] said “The numbers don’t really reflect the human trafficking that is happening in New Mexico…we know this is a rampant, billion-dollar industry.”

Skin To Skin (#315)

criminalisation of clients has negative effects on the safety, wellbeing and health of sex workers.  Yet there is another side to the problem – the sexual fulfilment of vulnerable clients, such as those with a disability…Clients are often portrayed as men who enjoy degrading women and even violent characters who like to abuse them.  But…research…contradicts this view…Tuppy Owens, sex therapist and founder of the TLC Trust, which connects people with disability with sex workers, argues the effects of criminalising clients would be tragic for people with disability…while many clients will simply go underground to avoid being caught if criminalisation becomes a reality, this is less of an option for people with disabilities.  Many rely on a third party to help them access sex services…We should promote rather than restrict initiatives that allow them to explore their sexuality in a safe and mutually respectful way with a…sex worker.

Pimping the Pimp

If Patricia Spencer doesn’t pace herself, she’ll burn out her Hitachi in no time:

…we’re pretty fortunate in Las Vegas because we have a full-time unit dedicated to vice and sex trafficking-related activities.  That’s why we’re unique, and that’s why we get so much exposure to everything going on, because we see it every day…If you publish an article…about a prostitution-related incident, and you read the comments at the bottom, it’s very discouraging because the comments…are almost always negative towards the police doing this type of investigation…the public does not understand…that 99.9% of the women are trafficked.   They’re beaten.  They don’t keep the money, and they are in a life that they can’t escape from.  The amount of juveniles that are being trafficked is astronomical…People are getting annihilated, and all for money…they’re enslaved into this life…It’s almost like addiction for these women.  They need treatment programs, just like addicts…Their kids are kidnapped and held from the victim a lot…My love and passion has always been chasing and going after gang members, and I can see that gang members have now evolved into pimping…we’re seeing a great deal of these girls turning into trick-rollers…if they have a quota to meet, they would much rather meet that quota by stealing than having to turn tricks all night.  I mean, who wants to do that?  It’s much easier, and there’s more money…

A woman who’s never done sex work (or any other useful labor) stating that theft is easier than fucking is a perfect example of the warped police mentality.

To Protect and Serve (#413)

Undercover inspections are one of vice unit’s main tactics in making sure San Diego’s strip clubs adhere to what some consider to be the most restrictive adult-entertainment ordinance on the West Coast…from April 20, 2013, to June 6, 2014, detectives from the vice unit visited Cheetahs on ten occasions…In March 2014, nearly a dozen [of them forced] the dancers to pose for photos in their lingerie…Two lawsuits…were soon filed…and [the city retaliated by revoking] their nude-entertainment business permit…a…former vice detective [says] “Vice unit is a club…detectives…go drinking every night.  When they decide to target a place they’ll send in vice cops, narcotics, code compliance to find violations.  Once they get a hard-on, they will do whatever they need to do”…

Property of the State 

I suspect Georgia politicians will close this loophole almost immediately:

Georgia prosecutors have dropped the murder charges brought against 23-year-old Kenlissa Jones, who attempted to abort her pregnancy at around five months by taking an abortion drug that she ordered online.  The drug sent Jones into early labor, delivering a child that allegedly was alive but died soon thereafter.  Jones was originally charged with malice murder and possession of a dangerous drug…The…district attorney’s office is still charging Jones with misdemeanor possession of a dangerous drug…(misoprostol).  But it dropped the murder charges after District Attorney Greg Edwards realized that…”although third parties could be criminally prosecuted for their actions relating to an illegal abortion…as the law currently stands in Georgia, criminal prosecution of a pregnant woman for her own actions against her unborn child does not seem permitted.  Applicable criminal law and statutes provide explicit immunity from prosecution for a pregnant woman”…

Another Fine Mess

Bardot Smith points out that sex workers aren’t only on the forefront of new technologies; we often drive their development:

…while women indirectly control the overwhelming majority of major purchases being made, they have limited exposure and access to the development of these new systems and tools.  The adult industry is the exception.  [It] and the financial sector…have always been connected…as women are always directly linked to the movement of resources in an economy…Nearly all men enjoy the…commercial sex industry in some way.  Venture capitalists are certainly no exception, and the finance industry in general has a long and storied love affair with the working girl…the end goal is always, unapologetically, a direct transfer of wealth to women…sex workers have long driven major revolutions in technology:  still photography, video cameras, telephone services, VCR, peer-to-peer computing, phone and video chat, and streaming.  They have also been at the forefront of innovating new business models for content, communications, and services themselves…And yet…despite the fact that adult content drives 30% of internet traffic, and the fact that companies are profiting from the traffic, ads and services involved in the industry, the women who power that capital flow are treated like criminals…

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (#442)

How much of this is due to the end of Somaly Mam’s disinformation, and how much to rescue industry repositioning?

The number of minors working in Cambodia’s sex industry is on the decline…A study by the International Justice Mission, which closely monitors the issue, shows a decline in the prevalence of girls under the age of 17 in brothels and other venues.  The IJM report found the prevalence of underage girls declined from around 8 percent to just over 2 percent from 2012 to 2015.  Holly Burkhalter, IJM’s vice president of government and advocacy…[said] Cambodia is “no longer the world’s No. 1 destination to buy a child,” though the threat of sex trafficking remains high…

IJM is one of the most notorious of all the “rescue” organizations, so what are they up to?McDonald's tattoo

Soap Opera (#447) 

The “trafficking tattoo” trope has taken on a life of its own:  “Some have bar codes.  Others are marked with their pimp’s name and phone number.  Branded like cattle, victims of human trafficking recovered in Pennsylvania could soon apply to the state to have any tattoos from their pimps surgically removed…

Blunt Instrument (#516)

“Sex trafficking” used as an excuse to destroy and loot businesses against which there is literally no evidence of criminality:

A 10-month investigation uncovered nearly a dozen Utah massage parlors being used as fronts for sex trafficking…the [allegations] led to the questioning of more than a dozen women and one man…[but] no charges have been filed.  “Our hope is to find evidence of trafficking in person [sic],” said Attorney General Sean Reyes…[who also pretended]  there is a lead person who moves women around to different fronts, collects money and sends it to the women’s home country.  The first words out of one woman’s mouth when investigators arrived was, “Help me. Please, please help me,” he said…

Yes, Mr. Reyes, that’s called “praying”.  People often do it in terrifying situations, such as when threatened by thugs waving guns around.

Drawing Lines (#516) 

The tax protest angle is interesting, but look more closely at what the brothel owner wants from the “authorities”:

A licensed brothel in…Salzburg has been offering free drinks and free sex in a protest against what its owner says is unfair taxation…the news “has spread like wildfire, with punters lining up to get inside”…Hermann “Pascha” Müller, who owns the…brothel, [said]…he no longer wants to be “the tax office’s pimp”…Müller says that he is paying the prostitutes’ usual hourly rate out of his own pocket.  “In the last decade I have paid taxes of almost €5 million…The problem is, the tax office wants more and more, and they are not cracking down on illegal street and apartment prostitution”…

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It’s not like prostitution is ever going to go away, or it would have gone by now.  –  Suzanne Harrington

R.I.P. Christopher Lee Christopher Lee

Lee strode like a titan through the favorite movies of my life; he starred in four of the movies I’ve listed as among my favorites, and pops up in various places in other columns as well (search his name and see).  So though he isn’t a sex industry figure, he joins others such as Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson and Carmine Infantino whose influence on the landscape of my fancy cannot possibly be credited enough.  Rest in peace, Sir Christopher, though I won’t be at all surprised if you’re still observed stalking about foggy London streets in a cape from time to time.

Lack of Evidence

This will continue for as long as our work is criminalized:

A Tempe bar issued a public apology…to a transgender woman whose claims of discrimination by workers ignited an online firestorm…bar manager Rob Tasso said Briana Sandy, 55, should not have been asked to leave…”We welcome all kinds of people in this business.  We have many gay customers, we have transgender performers.  In no way did we ever mean to discriminate against you”…Tasso…pointed out that Tempe Tavern…neighbors an adult bookstore.  “Unfortunately, there’s a male prostitution problem that’s around here that’s unique to our situation”…

In other words, “We welcome all kinds of people, but prostitutes aren’t people.”

It Looks Good On Paper

The asinine dysphemism “prostitution ring” (used to mean one underage sex worker, her boyfriend and his mother) is bad enough, but the real story here is that Washington is one of the states with so-called “safe harbor” laws, which are hawked as “protecting the victims” by blaming their “crime” of consensual sex on a pimp instead of the arrested girl.  But as I’ve written before, the laws only apply to lily-white “perfect victims” with no prior arrests who are willing to rat out a supposed “pimp”; the great majority of underage whores have neither a pimp nor a spotless arrest record, and just go to jail like any other victim of the police.  The idea that listening in on a teenager’s jailhouse phone call like a nosy parent picking up the extension constitutes some sort of brilliant detective work, however, is a great moment in badge-licking.

Broken Record 

“Gypsy whores” idiocy with a revolting new Swedish-Canadian police-state flavor:

…Grand Prix weekend…is the busiest time of year for escorts in Montreal.  This year, local police are warning tourists that they may spend more time in jail than at the racetrack if caught trying to buy sexual services…Chief Insp. Johanne Paquin…said a specialized squad will be on patrol in strip clubs, hotels, motels and massage parlours, as well as on all the sites in the city related to the Grand Prix festivities…Canada’s new prostitution laws…”give us more tools in our tool box,” Paquin said…Hobby Lobby

The Widening Gyre

If cops don’t want people spreading stupid rumors, they need to stop spreading such rumors themselves first:

Lest you need any further indication that sex trafficking has become a genuine Moral Panic, I bring you the tale of Emily Stringer…[who] was shopping at…Hobby Lobby in Oklahoma City when she noticed “a middle aged lady” following her around the craft store.  Stringer “stuck with (her) instinct” and left abruptly, calling local police afterward to report the incident.  “The policeman said that this is unfortunately a common thing,” Stringer posted in a subsequent Facebook warning.  “They are abducting people for sex trafficking.”  Except…. of course not.  There have been no cases of anyone, of any age, being stalked and abducted by sex traffickers at Hobby Lobby or any other Oklahoma City chain store.  Outlets from Snopes to The Washington Post tore holes in Stringer’s story, and the Oklahoma City police even distanced themselves from the apocryphal anecdote—but…Stringer’s sex-trafficking warning had received 147,000 shares. The police rebuttal, meanwhile, was shared less than 500 times

That Old Black Magic

The “juju sex slaves” myth just keeps going like a battered zombie:

Spanish National Police announced on Monday that they broke up a ring of human traffickers who used juju voodoo and animal sacrifices to coerce women into prostitution…The traffickers had put the women through a juju voodoo ritual that used the victims’ finger nails or public hair and involved animal sacrifice in front of idols in a temple in order to “guarantee that the women complied with everything they demanded, under threat of death to them and their families”.  Juju…has commonly been used to drive Nigerian women into sex trafficking…by exploiting the women’s fears of the powerful “magic”…

A few points of interest:

  • Most people in Spain practice Catholicism, a sect in which a woman can undergo a ritual involving sacred rings and magic water in front of idols in a temple in order to guarantee that she be bound to obey one man under threat of eternal torture by demons in a pit of damned fire.
  • There is no such thing as “juju voodoo”; Voodoo is a New-World syncretism of Catholicism and traditional African religion which is practiced in neither Nigeria nor Spain.
  • The readers of this article are being asked to believe without evidence in the word of “authorities” that powerful and unseen evil forces are lurking about to abduct their children unless they give these “authorities” greater power over their lives.

But obviously, Europeans and Americans are so much more sophisticated than the superstitious women who can be controlled by “magic”.

It’s Different Because It Involves Sex, Part Umpteen (#43)

Pole dancing is artistic expression — but lap dancing is not, a…[New York] judge has ruled…“There is a stage for the performers illuminated by spotlights; a dressing room for the dancers, who, at times, wear an array of different costumes; (and) tables and seating that are oriented towards the stage to focus audience attention on the performances;” and featured “choreographed dances,” [Judge] Pinto wrote…But the…more lucrative private dances were another story.  The auditor “credibly testified that in his 10 or 15 visits to Nite Moves over the course of years he purchased one or two private dances a night.  He said the private dances were very similar…He admitted he was not an expert in choreography but did not think what he experienced in the private dance was choreographed”…

Watershed

It’s so nice to see a few public intellectuals actually saying this:

…prostitution [has] been around as long as humanity itself, but…we don’t talk about it…Either it’s something glamorously Belle du Jour-ish, all swanning around five star hotels earning more cash per horizontal hour than the rest of us do in a vertical week, or it’s trafficked slaves, drugged and abused and held against their will in conditions so appalling we cannot bear to even think about it.  But what if in between these two extremes there’s a more mundane middle ground?…it’s a job.  It’s work…Dr Jane Pitcher…interviewed 36 self employed prostitutes…and…found that they all worked indoors, chose their own hours and clients, and set their own rates of pay.  None had been coerced into the work, and many were registered as self-employed.  They had good relationships with their clients.  It was far from the glamour/misery dichotomy…The obvious solution is to decriminalise all sex work, making it safer, more regulated, and not driven underground…

Umpteen Thousand People Can’t Be Wrong (#513)

Control freaks just can’t get that the Swedish model is unwelcome in Scotland:

The End Prostitution Now campaign…will call on the Scottish public, MSPs, charities and public bodies, to put pressure on the Scottish Government to [impose the Swedish model]…The campaign launch coincides with Labour MSP Rhoda Grant’s announcement yesterday of her amendments to the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Bill…She said…“I fear that if Scotland does not follow [Northern Ireland], it could become a haven for sex traffickers moving out of Northern Ireland“…

Fortunately, Grant’s attempt to circumvent the parliamentary process was immediately quashed.

The Course of a Disease (#515)

Activist Molly Smith on the problems with the Swedish model:

…Instead of focusing on creating bureaucratic hoops for sex workers to jump through, decriminalization prioritizes sex workers’ safety and health…While sex workers are not prosecuted simply for selling sex under the Swedish model, various laws continue to be used against them in punitive ways.  “Operation Homeless,” the memorably-named Norwegian police initiative, evicted people suspected of selling sex—a law aimed at “pimps,” but used against sex workers’ landlords…People who claim sex workers are “decriminalized” under the Swedish model tend to be…feminist…yet it’s hard to imagine the same feminists would consider abortion “decriminalized” if people suspected of seeking abortions were subject to deportation and extra-judicial (yet perfectly legal) eviction.  In fact, Sweden’s policymakers are remarkably open about the extent to which the law is supposed to harm people who sell sex.  The head of Sweden’s anti-trafficking unit told a journalist last year, “of course the law has negative consequences for women in prostitution, but that’s also some of the effect that we want to achieve”…

A Year Later (#515)

NO NO NO! This is absolutely awful!

…Under the old law, SNUG regularly partnered with Edmonton Police Service to run operations in which sex workers were taken into custody.  But instead of pressing charges, women were brought to SNUG offices, given some food and offered services.  When the law changed, police weren’t able to charge sex workers anymore and SNUG lost a crucial outreach opportunity…

Subjecting sex workers to violence in order to “outreach” to them is an absolutely terrible, dehumanizing, agency-negating idea; what next, shooting them with tranquilizer darts and RF tagging them for study?Primates of Park Avenue

Housewife Harlotry (#540)

Welcome to our world, New York housewives:

…is Primates of Park Avenue, an exposé on the moneyed mommies of Manhattan, really true?…Author Wednesday Martin…claims in the memoir to have spent six years “doing field work” with her two kids on the Upper East Side…But Martin only lived there for three years, with one kid, and mentions stores and services that didn’t exist, calling into question the scenes and ­behaviors she describes…Primates includes eyebrow-raising anecdotes, such as the claim that some women receive yearly “wife bonuses.”  After readers expressed doubt, Martin backpedaled, telling New York magazine:  “I don’t necessarily think it’s a trend or widespread.  It was just one of the many strange-seeming cultural practices that some women told me about.”  Although the book includes no such disclaimer and is advertised as a “memoir,” Martin [said] she “telescoped certain parts of the narrative in order to protect the privacy of friends, neighbors, associates and family.”  That “telescoping” seems to have moved events that happened in different neighborhoods and put them on the Upper East Side…

Traffic Circle (#544)

Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post “Fact Checker”, continues to hammer at “sex trafficking” myths:

…if you think about it for half a minute, [the “average debut at 13″] statistic makes little sense…if it is the “average,” then for all those who entered trafficking at age 16 or 17, there have to be nearly equivalent numbers who entered at age 9 or 10.  But no one seriously believes that.  Upon investigation, this claim crumbles to dust…FBI spokesmen say this is not their figure.  The Justice Department also says it is not a DOJ figure…Yet somehow this figure lives on in the echo chamber of Washington discourse.  The worst example we found was a Department of Homeland Security pamphlet for school administrators that boldly displayed both the claim about 300,000 children and the average age of 13.  It listed two sources:  The Department of Justice and the congressionally mandated Center for Missing and Exploited Children.  But the DOJ reference was to another opinion article that cited the Estes/Weiner report, not an official DOJ finding.  And the CMEC fact sheet referred to a report by Shared Hope International…which in turn relied on…the same Estes/Weiner report…in the end the source of the data is the same discredited and out-of-date academic paper.  It would be amusing if it were not so sad…The Washington Post and other news organizations also failed by allowing [the] claim to be published as an actual fact…This is a Four-Pinocchio statistic and should no longer be cited.

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