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Posts Tagged ‘internet’

If all the little black books in the world were opened, far more than golden showers would trickle out.  –  Brooke Magnanti

License to Rape

Another excuse to justify rape:

…Inmate visit procedures for Rikers Island state visitors are subject to search at any time.  Before anyone is allowed to visit an inmate, he or she must pass through a metal detector and have items such as handbags pass through a fluoroscope machine. If the metal detector sounds an alarm, prospective visitors might face a “pat frisk” search…Jasmine Quattlebaum…was led to a private area by a female [screw] who asked her during the pat frisk to unbutton her pants…“Once I put my hands back up, she pulled my panties out, takes her two fingers, and just jams it in between my crotch…I slapped her hand away a little bit”…When she objected…the [screw] “tried to pull both of my hands together with one hand, and she tried to still put her fingers into my crotch”…her experience is one many female Rikers visitors experience, according to information from 311 complaint calls obtained by The Intercept…

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

After arresting one of their own, pigs oink a lot of nonsense about how the families they damage in stings were magically damaged before (but presumably didn’t know it):

Dunwoody [Georgia] Police say a months-long [violation of peaceful citizens’ private lives] has netted nearly 60 arrests…Police Chief Billy Grogan [bloviated that sex work]…“damages families” [yet somehow arresting fathers doesn’t]…DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston said the arrests should send a strong message…“Both supply and demand must be eradicated if we are to stop…consensual sex”…Among the accused customers arrested is Gwinnett County Assistant District Attorney Chris Quinn…

A Tale That Grew in the Telling 

My friend Cris Sardina of Desiree Alliance on the ridiculous “statistics” spouted by prohibitionists:

…If you look at any leading anti-trafficking organizational rhetoric…hundreds of thousands of sexually exploited people…are held captive by hundreds of thousands of pimps…[Norma Jean] Almodovar satirically makes a valid point in questioning Polaris’ statement as to why neighbors wouldn’t take notice of the lines of men waiting outside to be sexually serviced in the approximate 15 minutes they would have from the door to the sexual act itself?  In truth, these much cited numbers would entail victims to service 25 to 48 men daily during a 12 hour shift, with no time to take care of daily functions such as using the bathroom, eating, sleeping, or texting the Polaris BeFree Textline…andrew-sustaita

Scapegoats 

Presented without comment:

A [Houston, Texas] sheriff’s deputy is out of a job after a [not remotely] shocking allegation…[involving] production of obscene material that includes sexual contact with a dog…Andrew Sustaita Jr…was relieved of duty after his arrest…

End Demand

On what planet is “end demand” anti-client bullshit “disregarded” in “sex trafficking” propaganda?

[New Hampshire’s] Trafficking in Persons Council announced its new “End Demand” campaign…“Conversations about sex trafficking almost exclusively disregard the role of the individual buying sex — the ‘john,’” TIPC Chairwoman Jillian Gilchrest said [moronically]…

Sold Out

Pride Toronto has voted to ban police from having any official presence at future parades, making good on a demand made by Black Lives Matter Toronto last year…

Size Matters (#566)

If Rainbow is “notorious”, I’d hate to see what adjective they use for me:

Seattle-area madam Rainbow Love has again avoided prison time for operating a string of Seattle-area “temples”…Love, 51, pleaded guilty to pimping- and drug-related crimes…[and] was sentenced…to inpatient drug treatment, rather than jail…

Choke Point (#593) 

Think you’re safe being a sexual minority just because money isn’t involved?

Recent censorship enacted at FetLife is the result of financial discrimination by multiple credit card processors who have ceased business with FetLife for what the processors claim are “Illegal or Immoral” reasons.  It began for users one week ago when FetLife announced changes to content guidelines, stating “We can no longer allow FetLifers to publicly share sexual pics and vids containing blood visible in them.”  Then without warning, Fetlife deleted hundreds of groups and literally thousands of fetish categories that represented a range of kinky communities (like ones with hypnosis, blood, and humiliation in the name).  This was in response to to significant pressure from FetLife’s credit card processor…

A Woman’s Point of View kate-murray

Given all the “sex trafficking” rhetoric and agency denial, I smell a whiff of Swedish rot here rather than actual decriminalization:

Four female [New Hampshire] representatives have sponsored a bill that proposes establishing a committee to study decriminalizing…sex work…[yet] one of the bill’s sponsors…Kate Murray…said…”I have no interest in legalizing prostitution…this is about…human trafficking with the goal of protecting the victim”…the committee would study reports about sex work and human trafficking by Amnesty International, the World Health Organization, the International Labour Organization, the Global Alliance Against Trafficking in Women, the Global Network of Sex Work Projects, the Global Commission on HIV and the Law, Human Rights Watch, the Open Society Foundation and Anti-Slavery International…and…would also study prostitution laws in Germany, Great Britain and New Zealand where it is legal…

To Molest and Rape

Your regular reminder that rapist cops aren’t solely an American aberration:

a garda detective has been suspended after a woman accused him of demanding sexual favours…this…is the third garda from the same district to be suspended, transferred or disciplined over separate sexual assault cases…the Garda Ombudsman (GSOC)…shows 70 allegations of sexual offences were made between 2010 and 2015. However, so far, only one of these cases has resulted in the DPP directing there be a criminal prosecution…

Permanent Record

The prohibitionist Seattle Times once again prints a story containing the typical libel against sex workers without consulting any sex workers for the story, despite the fact that this particular reporter knows several of us and has our phone numbers:

[New and awful Washington state] legislation would extend the statute of limitations from three to 10 years for the crimes of human trafficking, commercial sex abuse of a minor and promoting the commercial sex abuse of a minor.  “For victims of human trafficking, the very nature of that relationship is that they’re under the control of their trafficker,” [attorney general] Ferguson [fantasized while touching himself]…Many victims are reluctant to go to police and are so traumatized by their exploitation that by the time they come forward, “three years has gone by and there’s no justice for that victim”…Embedded in the bill to extend the statute of limitations is a request to alter the legal definition of commercial sex…[to] change “fee” to “anything of value,” which could mean drugs, food or even a bed for the night…

The War Goes On 

Lawheaded idiots are amazed that their persecution of Backpage didn’t magically make sex work go away:

Backpage.com…shut down its erotic services section where most prostitution ads were posted.  But in New Orleans, people posting ads for prostitution have found an easy workaround:  Just post them in the section reserved for people looking for dates.  At least 60 ads had been posted in the “Women seeking men” section of the website…Jan. 17…Some of those ads contained emojis that [fetishists fantasize]…the prostitute may be underage…the volume of ads began rising significantly on Jan. 10, the day after Backpage announced it was shuttering its adult services section…

Elephant in the Parlor (#705)  

My friend Brooke Magnanti on politicians & whores, including a quote from me:

The rich are jaded souls.  Kinks that we otherwise associate strictly with lifestyle BDSM seem to litter stories about wealthy men caught in compromising positions…For some sex workers, golden showers are bread-and-butter work.  Dominatrix friends admit to chugging diet cola by the litre in preparation for such dates…Nearly every sex worker has at some time met someone powerful and famous.  Because it isn’t just about the kink, it’s about the discretion…Maggie McNeill, an escort in Seattle, remarks: “I personally could wreck the careers of a dozen politicians.  And there are roughly half a million [sex workers] in the US”…

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Dr. Kate Lister runs the wonderful, informative and entertaining Whores of Yore Twitter account, and when she recently decided to start a website to go with it I invited her to tell my readers about it.  Kate’s mission is much the same as mine: to demystify and destigmatize sex work by improving communication between sex workers and the general public.

whores-of-yore-logoLast month, on International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers (2016), I launched the Whores of Yore website; it was the culmination of a year’s hard work on a wonderful project that took me completely unawares.  Whores of Yore grew out of a Twitter feed, that grew out of a research project on medieval sexuality, that grew out of a PhD into women and medievalism.  I am a post-doctoral researcher at Leeds Trinity University (UK) and was reading into medieval attitudes surrounding sexual sin, when I found a London court record from 1340 of two “notorious strumpets”; Alice Strumpette and Clarice la Claterballock.  I thought that was just wonderful.  The wry wit in the aliases made me laugh, as I am sure they were supposed to.  But, beyond being funny, the fact that such names would be adopted said more about sex work in the fourteenth century then many academic texts I have read; there was a real humanity to it.  I started the Twitter feed @WhoreofYore to share snapshots of history like that.

I had not foreseen any interest in the feed, but very quickly the followers grew and online articles began to be published about the content.  I started getting feedback from followers who were reacting to the material I was posting in ways I could have never predicted.  Twitter is a great leveller; your voice is on an equal footing with everyone else, and the feedback is instant.  In the beginning, getting daily, uncensored and anonymous feedback about your work is daunting, but I learnt to listen, to respond and serve.  I do get trolled, but follower feedback also made the feed better; it encouraged me to break away from a western focus, include more trans voices and bring in a daily dose of #HistoricalHottie (photographs of handsome men from history to balance up the eye-candy on offer).  But, what changed my research was that Twitter allowed me to engage directly with the sex worker community.  Suddenly, the history I was researching was no longer dead and buried; it was correcting my terminology on Twitter, and calling me a cunt when I got things wrong.  Without realising it, I had been guilty of viewing sex work only through a historical, academic lens; it wasn’t real to me.  But when a sex worker from Australiawhores-of-yore-screencap made contact with me to say she enjoyed the feed, but please could I stop using the word “prostitute” and use “sex worker” instead, I finally got it.  History is powerful because it frames contemporary debate, but it is not to be archived away and accessible only to (well meaning) academics; it should engage with lives today.  I was using the word “prostitute” in a clinical, academic way, but that perpetuated narratives that exists outside of historical research and the ivory tower.  That was the moment that I saw a project that could make history relevant to contemporary issues.  I wanted @WhoresofYore to facilitate an active process of feedback, reciprocal communication and attribution between sex workers, historians, activists, and anyone else who had a view to express.

As sex workers are stigmatised, often criminalized people, historically, they have had little opportunity to speak without intermediaries.  Rather, their stories and voices have been assumed by journalists, activists, and academics (like myself – the irony is not lost on me).  However, with the advent of social media platforms, this is rapidly changing; social media has allowed sex workers a public voice, a space to engage with those speaking for them and about them, like never before.  Online sex worker communities have been formed, alliances made and agendas set.  “Nothing about us without us” is the mantra of the sex worker rights movement; the web and social media provide a platform for the sex worker voice to be heard, and invited academics to genuinely listen to the group they research.  I wanted to build on this dynamic with a website and further bridge the gap between academic, historical research, and the sex worker voice; I hoped the website would create a space that enabled a process of democratisation and facilitate a discussion, rather than a lecture into the study and history of sexuality.

I wanted the website to feature articles on the history of sexuality and sex workers, but to retain an emphasis on sexuality and contemporary voices.  To that end, I created a several article sections: sex history, sex talk, sex worker voices, LGBT History, politics and the law and an interactive timeline of sex workers throughout history.  I put out a call for article submissions on the Twitter feed, and articles started to roll in.  I have been extremely fortunate and BASIS Yorkshire (a charity who work with street sex workers and some of the most vulnerable members of the sex work community) have agreed to write a monthly blog about their work.  BASIS is very private and protective of the people they work with, so to be able to facilitate a space for them is a real honour.  I also have a sex therapist, Drew Lawson, who is regularly blogging on the site and answering all kinds of questions about sexuality.  I work with the archivist at Delta of Venus, the web’s largest collection of vintage erotica, to bring a selection of historical pornographic images.

kate-listerBut, this is only the beginning.  So far, the project has been entirely self-funded, but I am looking into investment to grow.  The project will expand to include podcasts, vlogging and interviews with historians, activists, members of the sex work community, and those who feel they are marginalised by their sexuality.  The history of sexuality will be placed side by side with sexuality today in the hope we can join up some of those conversations.  The purpose of this archive is not to create a goldfish bowl for others to stare into, but to provide a platform and invite people to share their experience and story; if you have an article to bring to the conversation, please email me.  Shame and stigma are broken down through conversation, and when we listen to one another; I hope that’s what this project can play a part in.  As Shannon L. Alder once wrote, “Never be ashamed of who you are.  True shame always belongs to the person that enjoys being ashamed of who you are.”

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Sex workers are literally dying because of [brothelkeeping] law.
–  Wendy Lyon

Whores and Wives

Let’s hope this means Snopes will start doing more to debunk “sex trafficking” lies:

Snopes.com’s founders, former husband and wife David and Barbara Mikkelson, are embroiled in a lengthy and bitter legal dispute in the wake of their divorce.  He has since remarried, to a former escort and porn actress who is one of the site’s staff members.  They are accusing each other of financial impropriety, with Barbara claiming her ex-husband is guilty of “embezzlement” and suggesting he is attempting a “boondoggle” to change tax arrangements, while David claims she took millions from their joint accounts and bought property in Las Vegas…

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Could this bootlicking be any more pompous?

Like many other law enforcement agencies throughout Southern California, Long Beach police have turned their attention to eliminating the scourge of human trafficking…The department formed a task force and vowed to arrest people who profited from and exploited the sex trade…[except] when one of their own officers was accused of trying to exploit the illicit sex trade the department wants to stamp out…William Scott Holder…was arrested last year in a…sting in Corona…[but] remains employed by the department…

Check Your Premises

Remember that these statements are being made by supposedly rational adults who have the power to inflict violence on others at will:

[A confused & self-contradictory propaganda] notice from the Malheur County (Ore.) Sheriff’s Office didn’t [make much sense]…“Victims of sex trafficking and prostitution are forced, coerced and manipulated into this lifestyle against their will…prostitutes…still may be charged no matter what…Because if you don’t charge them, then there’s no incentive to change…we don’t throw them out to the same manager, or pimp, if you will…Most often, they won’t [pretend the cop narrative is true], so you do everything you can to [force] them…to [pretend] that they were or are victims”…[cops pretended that] the 11 men charged with commercial sexual solicitation…responded to decoy ads police placed on “known sex trafficking websites” [even though there is no such thing]…

Profit from Panic 

Three quarters of a million no-strings dollars to spread propaganda & infantilize women:

The Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, was awarded a three-year, $750,000 grant…from the U.S. Department of Justice…The charity’s victim assistance program partners directly with local law enforcement to help human trafficking victims become more independent…”We help them go from not being able to tie their shoes to being independent and able to sustain themselves,” [chief propagandist Chuck] Anderson said…Typical signs that someone may be a victim include signs of physical abuse, tattoos or brand marks, especially ones that say “property of,” and possessing large amounts of cash…

Wait, large amounts of cash?  I though the “pimps” took every penny?  I guess people who can’t tie their shoes can’t count, either.

Imagination Pinned Down kazaam-poster

Another example of how people’s memories can be rewritten by others:

…[many people]…recall…a movie called Shazaam…in the early Nineties …the movie starred the American stand-up comedian Sinbad…as an incompetent genie who granted wishes to two young children…[some claim] detailed scene-by-scene recollections of the film…hundreds of Redditors…have used the popular social news site to discuss their memories of Shazaam.  Together they have scoured the internet to find evidence that the movie existed but each has repeatedly come up empty-handed.  Sinbad himself has even taken to Twitter to deny that he ever played such a role…It all began in 2009 [when] an anonymous individual took to…Yahoo! Answers to pose its users a simple question. “Do you remember that…movie in the early 90s where sinbad the…comedian played a genie?”…it took another two years for somebody else to ask about it again online…last year…things took [off on Reddit]…In 1996, the basketball player Shaquille O’Neal played a genie who helped a young boy find his estranged father in a commercially unsuccessful film…[named] Kazaam

The Naked Anthropologist

Dr. Laura Agustín is back with a novel dramatizing the problems faced by migrants:

European borders are the gates of Hell, lurked over by hounds of police and organized crime…illegal migrants and smugglers are outsiders doing whatever it takes to make good, often by selling sex…In the realm of undocumented migration, knuckling under to thugs can be the sensible alternative to drowning at sea, and putting up with rotten jobs preferable to pointless lives back home…The Three-Headed Dog is international mystery in a downward-spiralling scenario for human mobility…

With Friends Like These…

You might be forgiven for thinking that an article which starts out like this would be pro-decriminalization:

Jamie Rosseland…remembers the day her mugshot and charge were published in a Jacksonville newsletter [ironically] called the Victim’s Advocate as part of a column called “Shame, Shame, Shame”…those publications fuel a stigma against women who are arrested for prostitution…

Unfortunately, you’d be wrong; the rest is a typical “whores are mindless victims” mess which quotes (among others) arch-prohibitionist Pete Holmes, the Seattle city attorney paid to lap up Swanee Hunt’s “end demand” vomit and puke it out again all over reporters.

The Mote and the Beam (#332)

Once the courts waver in slapping down attempts to destroy legal protections, it won’t be long before the vultures start circling:

The families of three fatally shot victims [from the Pulse nightclub in Orlando]…filed a lawsuit against Google, Twitter and Facebook…[pretending] the tech companies provided “material support” for the radicalization of Islamic State (ISIS)-inspired shooter Omar Mateen…The suit [pretends]…all three tech giants…”knowingly and recklessly” [chose not to censor]…accounts associated [by unnamed “authorities”] with ISIS…and allowed the extremist group “to use its social networks as a tool for spreading extremist propaganda, raising funds, and attracting new recruits”…

The most dangerous part of the suit is that Mateen, an adult, was magically “radicalized” against his will by these mind-control messages; i.e., they paint a disturbed murderer as the passive victim of hypnotic rays beamed through the internet.  Sound familiar?  This is what happens when you allow a precedent to be established that people are passive victims of anyone who can be “othered”, especially when the so-called villains are multi-billion dollar corporations who may be bullied into paying up because it’s cheaper in the long run than fighting these nuisance suits.

Soap Opera (#520) 

Just when you thought the “anti-pimp personal hygiene products” trope couldn’t get any stupider:

…America and Penelope, “The CyberCode Twins,” are developing Beacon of Hope…once activated, [it] can give authorities real-time updates on victims’ whereabouts.  The trackers are embedded into tampons and pads, which would be available from dispensers at highway rest stops, gas stations and casinos.  At the press of a button, a woman in trouble could get a tracker tampon and carry it in her purse or pocket…Beacon of Hope is part of a larger movement to show how tech can be used more broadly to combat…human trafficking…

To Molest and Rape rapist-pig-barrett-boeker

Once again: if you think it matters whether a costumed rapist was “on duty” or not at the time of the rape, you are part of the problem:

An assistant warden at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola…[committed] rape inside the prison walls.  Barrett Boeker…was charged with one count of second-degree rape…and [arrested]…[Boeker committed] the rape [while off duty]…on Nov. 30 at [his] home on Angola property…the…victim was “not an inmate”…

Traffic Circle (#675)

Wendy Lyon demonstrates that criminalization of sex workers via “brothel keeping” laws is not a mere police & prosecutorial misuse of such laws, but an intended use from the beginning:

…Supporters of the [Swedish model]…regularly insist…that [it]…“decriminalises” [sex workers]…On the rare occasions they’re pressed on it, they usually witter on about how this law is “intended to punish pimps”…that the law is…aimed at…sex workers themselves…can be proven clearly enough just by looking at how the law is actually used in real life…nearly all the reported prosecutions [in Ireland] have in fact been of sex workers, not of anyone managing…them…Go back to the original debates over the 1993 Act and you see very clearly that sex worker prosecutions are a feature, not a bug, of the brothel-keeping law – which was intended to address the public nuisance factor of brothels…it was clearly envisaged by the law, at the time it was introduced, that a sex worker would be prosecuted under it – even in her own home, if she allowed someone else to sell sex there.  This is not a law about pimps…

Too Close To Home (#682)

This is a man who claims he wants to “protect” women, and portrays the men we choose to have sex with as “sexual predators”:

New documents in an ongoing lawsuit against the King County Sheriff’s Department [reveal] that…Sheriff John Urquhart told investigators in his department to ignore a woman who [reported that] Urquhart raped her…[in] 2002…numerous people were made aware of the [report]…a deputy also complained that Urquhart and the woman had an affair but…the sheriff didn’t want that complaint documented.  Urquhart denies the allegations, [claiming] the woman [is mentally ill]…

That last is no surprise; Urquhart thinks women aren’t mentally competent to understand which sexual acts are consensual & which aren’t.

Power Play (#698)

Still think you don’t live in a police state?

Never let it be said that Kamala Harris gives up after being told her totally bogus legal crusade is totally bogus.  She’s now filed brand new charges against the execs who run Backpage.com — despite having the very same lawsuit thrown out a few weeks ago…Harris…knows that she has no legal basis for arresting the execs behind Backpage…because three years ago she signed a letter whining about how she had no legal authority to arrest Backpage because it’s (rightly) protected by Section 230 of the CDA…The press release from Harris claims that the reason for the new charges is that she’s “uncovered new evidence” but that’s a load of hogwash.  The new charges still include bogus “pimping” charges, but now also have a bunch of [bogus] “money laundering” charges as well…

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Abolitionists have failed to acknowledge the utter mundanity of most sex work.  –  Frankie Mullin

License to Rape

Prohibition turns the body of every citizen into a “crime scene”, which can be violated by “authorities” at will:

…upstate New York school…principal Eric Luther sought [underage student Jane] Doe out…and told her to “go for a walk with him”…two members of the New York State Police were stationed outside the…office…[and] the district superintendent, Robert Finster, [was] in the principal’s office, along with Amy Bird, the principal of the middle school.  Upon learning that other students had accused her of possessing drugs, Doe insisted that the allegations were false…Doe offered to let Luther search her backpack in front of her, but…school officials had a more humiliating search in mind.  Doe had to leave her backpack…while Luther and Bird took her to the nurse’s office…With [school nurse Kelly] Avallone and Bird looking on, Doe…[was forced] to disrobe completely…[and] stand exposed for several minutes…while they inspected her shirt, bra, boots, pants and underwear…Then nurse Avallone allegedly offered to perform a rectal exam…Jane [refused, but]…Avallone…[forced]…her…to…bend over [while she]…pried Jane’s buttocks apart with her hand, exposing Jane’s rectal cavity…Avallone [then] pried apart the opening to Jane’s vagina and shined her flashlight inside…there was absolutely nothing concealed…When Luther returned Doe’s backpack…her belongings were rearranged and…Luther admitted to searching the backpack outside of her presence.  All Luther had to say…was “Stop having your name associated with people with drugs”…

The Red Umbrella 

It’s always great to see good December 17th essays from allies:

…No one “dies of prostitution” any more than they do from domestic partnerships.  That women are killed in prostitution, as in relationships – the sphere in which women are most in danger of male violence – is the result of specific conditions:  misogyny, poverty, racism, stigma.  To claim that sex work is intrinsically violent is to let men off the hook…When deaths occur in other industries (there were 27 in agriculture this year, 43 in construction)…the usual response is to ask how working conditions can be made more secure, not whether the industry should be scrapped.  Of course men don’t need to buy sex, but nor does London need more luxury flats.  These arguments should have no impact on the right of workers to be protected…

Maggie in the Media 

Full of Themselves

Of all the semi-whores, none are as pompous as licensed massage practitioners:

…seven…Kitsap County [Washington massage businesses were defamed]…as suspect by cop-turned consultant Lavon Watson, who has made a new career out of investigating the rising tide of what some call “Illicit Massage Businesses,” or IMBs…They are easily identifiable if one knows what to look for, say those [persecuting]…them.  But they are not easy for authorities to shut down…Their proliferation has blurred the lines in the massage industry, with many legitimate massage practitioners reporting advances by their clients.  Their presence also worries those fighting human trafficking…Massage Network Solutions [is] a group of local therapists that met…with Watson, a retired Redmond police officer and massage therapist himself…while police and prosecutors here have [dumped dirty money into persecuting so-called]…pimps involved in human trafficking, storefronts — licensed by state and local governments to operate — might be furthering sex slavery…

First They Came for the Hookers…

Just in case you think being a “legal” sex worker protects you:

[Reporters for WSB in Atlanta dutifully promoted cop propaganda by accompanying pigs]…as they raided three local strip clubs looking for illegal activity.  [Prior to]…the raid [cops spent public money ogling strippers and getting lapdances for]…about a month-and-a-half to two-months…Sandy Springs police issued nine citations at Flashers, mostly for permit violations, and one for a solicitation for an illicit sexual act…At the Dollhouse…police issued 19 citations…[and] arrested [a dancer]…police issued six citations at Mardi Gras [and]…arrested [another dancer]…

Gingerbread House

The rescue industry is big business:

Phoenix will launch a project next year to convert an apartment complex into supportive housing for victims of human trafficking, an effort city officials [pretend] is the first of its kind in the country.  The City Council…unanimously approved plans for Phoenix Starfish Place, which the city expects will serve primarily sex-trafficking victims.  The project includes buying a vacant affordable rental complex, designing trauma-focused services and providing residents with vouchers to subsidize rent…[prominent “sex trafficking” fetishist & profiteer] Dominique [“Body Fluids”] Roe-Sepowitz…is [involved] with the project…

Shifting the Blame (#33)

Called it.  Four and a half years ago.

Suffolk County’s disgraced former Police Chief James Burke, long suspected of keeping the FBI in the dark about the Gilgo Beach murders, faces a new accusation from a sex worker who says there’s a link between him and the killings…The escort, who according to an affidavit has been in the profession for five years, discussed multiple times she said she partied with Burke in 2011 at an unknown Oak Beach home and engaged in “rough sex”.  Numerous people, prostitutes, and drugs, including cocaine, were at the gatherings, she said, adding that she observed former chief Burke use cocaine at the two parties she’d attended with him present…

“People, prostitutes and drugs”.  Because prostitutes aren’t people?  That kind of thinking is why those bodies ended up on the beach & their murders still haven’t been solved.

I Saw My Brain

Another pogrom in the pocket police-state that is Polk County, Florida:

More than 100 people, including [a bureaucrat]…were arrested in a six-day [pogrom]…in Polk County…the [persecution] was aimed at people who either advertised sexual services online or responded to prostitution ads online….[lying sows] posted fake online ads, and male [rapist pigs] responded to ads posted online by others…

Choke Point (#610)

It looks like there’s a new payment processor, PervoutPay, which promises to be sex work friendly.  Of course, all their ad copy I’m seeing is about porn, and this testimonial from Lance Hart has a strong whiff of whorearchy:  “We offer a legitimate service that is legal, yet we ask our customers to lie about what they are paying for…That has to make the customers feel at least a little weird(er) about paying us…like this is some kind of back alley deal.  PervOutPay is a big step forward in legitimizing sex work…”  Note the equation of “legal” and “legitimate”, which is bullshit; my business is as “legitimate” as Hart’s despite its illegality.  So what about it, PervoutPay?  Are you going to screw over escorts who try your service, or are you truly interested in “legitimizing sex work”?

To Molest and Rape pervert-cop-jason-miller

Serial sex offender let off easy, later assaults teen boy. Guess his profession:

Jason Miller was a New Jersey cop when he was caught on his dash cam pulling male motorists over to show them his penis, unzipping his pants to give them a close-up view of his genitals before walking back to his car without writing any citations…turning off his dash cam to allow himself to shove his genitals in their faces without it being recorded.  But there were times he forgot to turn the camera off, which led to his arrest after the department received two anonymous tips…He…struck a plea deal to avoid serving jail time or having to register as a sex offender…He was also forced to resign and forbidden to ever work as a New Jersey cop again.  On [December 15th]…he…was arrested again; this time for following a 16-year-old boy into a Burger King bathroom and sexually assaulting him…Miller claims the teen came onto him…

Utter Cluelessness

Just because we can’t find “victims” doesn’t mean the “problem” isn’t “overwhelming”.  Pizza!  Words With Friends!  EVERYBODY PANIC!!!

Aimee Schroeder…starts her day [t]rolling through listings on Backpage.com.  Her task is to pinpoint which Twin Cities ads are selling…children…for sex.  Photographs of girls…with bruised bodies and the track marks of drug use tip her off to possible sex-trafficking crimes…Schroeder keeps an eye out for small hands and children’s clothing…Imran Ali [is] the Washington County assistant attorney who is heading up the county’s year-old effort to [profit from hysteria over]…sex trafficking…because Washington County is a hub for major highway connections, sex work is often headquartered there…Pete Orput [fantasized while secretly touching himself].  “I can order up a human being to come to my house and sell her body to me, and then I can order a pizza — and I’ll bet the gal beats the pizza to my door”…Victims can get sucked into trafficking a number of ways, including through…”Words With Friends”…

The Clueless Leading the Hysterical (#687) 

This is what a moral panic looks like:

Aoshilong, a Chinese clothing manufacturer that sells its line on Amazon, produces leggings for little girls in various prints…According to a December 12 story from WFTX…in Fort Myers, Florida, that was uncritically repeated by many other outlets, “the pants are covered with marijuana leaves”…an…anti-drug activist [vomited out]…”Anything that normalizes marijuana with kids is child abuse”…which is more plausible:  that a Chinese manufacturer of decidedly mainstream clothing made leggings for little girls printed with marijuana leaves…or that a few hyperventilating cannabiphobes mistook Japanese maple leaves for marijuana leaves?…

Opting Out (#694)

For those of you who still insist I’m an alarmist:

Last month, the UK moved forward with the latest version of its ridiculous “Digital Economy Bill” which will put in place mandatory porn filtering at the ISP level — requiring service providers to block access to sites that don’t do an age verification check.  But it was at least somewhat vague as to which “ISPs” this covered.  The bill has moved from the House of Commons over to the House of Lords, and apparently we now have at least something of an answer — and it’s that social media sites like Twitter and Facebook will be covered by this regulation…The debate over regulating Twitter got pretty silly pretty fast.  At least one person noted that the UK was at risk of looking like idiots…

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Desmond Ravenstone is an activist and organizer with more than thirty years of experience, from his student days at Oberlin College, to the marriage equality movement in Massachusetts and the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom.  Knowing his reputation, I was very pleased when he became interested in organizing clients, and his efforts with COSWAC have exceeded my expectations. 

anonymous-clientIf I ever met Swanee Hunt, one of the leading prohibitionists in this country, do you know what I’d say to her?  “If you’re so concerned with stopping trafficking and moral uplift, there’s another area where you need to focus your efforts.  So many selfish and negligent people feel that it’s okay to pay off some stranger to act as surrogates in a vital relationship.  Sometimes they find some untrained, underage girl whom they can pay a pittance.  Other times, they connect with some ring that lures unsuspecting young women from other countries on the promise of ‘seeing the world’, only to be trapped in a house to satisfy their demands.  Clearly, this must be a form of trafficking.  After all, no one dreams of having to care for another person’s child.”  Many folks would find it offensive to have babysitters, au pairs, and nannies called “victims of human trafficking”.  But I’d also wager that parents would feel personally offended at being called “selfish and negligent” or compared to slave keepers.  They would argue rightly that, with the complexity of their lives and needs, they have important reasons to hire someone to watch or care for their kids.

The same holds true for sex work clients.  Some have been in loving relationships lasting decades, only to suddenly find themselves alone due to divorce, abandonment, disease or death.  Some have escaped abusive relationships and are now struggling to regain confidence and trust.  Some have difficulty finding intimacy due to disability, poor socialization, or questions about their own sexuality.  And some just need cathartic, pleasurable release without the baggage of expectations or judgement.  Knowing that isn’t enough, however; prohibitionists have painted a black-and-white picture of clients as heartless predators to be persecuted and shamed.  It’s time for clients to speak up, and to work together with sex workers for change.  That is why CoSWAC – Clients of Sex Workers Allied for Change – was started.

It began with Maggie’s July 18th blog post on the recent “johns sting” in Seattle, and her battle cry for clients to begin speaking up more for decriminalization.  As a longtime activist for sexual and personal freedom, I responded quickly; soon others joined in, and we began online discussions on how to get clients organized.  It was decided that launching a website, to provide information and a contact point for interested clients, was the best way to start.  As we began our plans, Dan Savage echoed Maggie’s call to arms at the end of August, so it was decided to speed up our efforts and launch the site as soon as possible.  Within two weeks, the CoSWAC site was public, and already attracting attention.  The most distinctive element of the website is a page where clients share their stories.  While they are predominantly from hetero male clients in the United States, there are also female and gay male clients, and stories from Australia, New Zealand, and Europe.  These stories shatter many of the prohibitionist myths around commercial sex, revealing an important dimension to our understanding, including narratives of emotional healing.

Ultimately, we hope to go further.  Right now, a smaller group is working on the process of creating a more formal structure – board, advisory body, and a framework for local groups.  We hope to encourage and empower more sex work clients to come out of the shadows, and work with sex workers and other allies towards decriminalization and other common goals.  As we grow and network with existing groups, we hope to provide more resources towards this end.  So, if you are a client, we encourage you to connect with CoSWAC.  Visit our website, and bookmark it to stay updated.  Share your story among the growing number being sent to us.  If you’re interested in helping us to build, let us know through the contact page.  Keep educating yourself on the issues around sex workers’ rights, and share that knowledge with those around you.  CoSWAC is here to provide a vehicle for clients to engage in the effort for the human rights of all involved in the commercial sex industry.  Get on board and pitch in!

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Obviously, she didn’t come out of it well.  –  Danielle Bargala

Another Halloween cartoon?  Yep.  Pleasant dreams.  The links above it are from  Tim Cushing (“fascism”, “serves” and “hope”), Jesse Walker (“machine”), Amy Alkon (“shoes”), and Women With A Vision (“cops”).

From the Archives

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I recently became aware of Science Hooker, and I was so impressed I immediately asked her to do a guest column.  She was able to achieve what in my youth I wanted to achieve, but couldn’t, and that makes her even more awesome in my estimation.science-hooker

Fucking science.
Science does not need to be dry.
Safe.
Boring.
Middle and upper class.
Clean.
Even though people fitting these values dominate it.
Serve my science as a double shot in a sleazy bar.
“What was your name again?”
Learning and ability is not about background.
It’s about will, thought, curiosity, stubbornness and passion.
Science Hooker is about science for ALL.

Nerves jostle my stomach stepping onto the podium, adjusting the mic.  Hundreds of academic faces, mostly white, mostly men, mostly upper middle class, peer at me from the cavernous dark.  Mars rover tools.  I’m here to talk about Mars rover tools, about how ultrasonics enhance performance.  The focus envelopes, I calm…. begin.  A significant part of my confidence in academia traces back to me fucking for a living.  Honing those social skills.  Escort, prostitute, courtesan, whore; the label has never seemed important.  I remember perching on the radiator in a cold Edinburgh flat, nervous energy bubbling through me and a client due to arrive any minute.  The doorbell chimed, the focus enveloped, calm… begin.

I’ve never been ashamed or embarrassed about escorting.  Why should I?  There was so much learning.  So much living. I was an escort in Edinburgh, Scotland, and was studying part time at the Open University of Scotland, a truly fantastic institution for social mobility.  I gained a 1st in a geoscience BSc and was half way through an MSc when offered a PhD with the UK Space Agency, investigating the loss of the Mars atmosphere into the rocky crust and what lessons we can take from this in respect to climate change on Earth.  I’d never studied full time, nor physically attended an institution.  The integral snobbery, bigotry and discrimination is real.

Many academic peers are surprisingly religious, mass on Sunday sort of thing.  Their attitude to open discussions of prostitution backgrounds is full of the usual “saddening”, “terrible” and “disgusting”, coupled with trite ignorant sentiments such as, “Well, at least that is behind you know, or I hope it is, otherwise I don’t know what to say”.  The idea that there could be any positive life or value within the confines of escorting is anathema.  The message clearly announced that sex workers do not belong in academia unless they are very repentant, and acknowledge that their life was very sad, and how grateful they are to have transcended into the academic’s world.  Fuck conforming to fit in with this scene.

Science Hooker is my reaction to this elitist, insular environment of privilege.  It started in December 2015 as website, Twitter and Facebook platform where I simply shared fun science, but with an “escort” slant, which probably tasted daring and risqué to most academics.  The few thousand followers were mostly academics.  Yet, the project has evolved since the early days, becoming less timid.  A regular blog slot was provided by The Huffington Post, with a relatively free hand regarding content; this has been a powerful platform to engage larger audiences.  Following a Huffington article I wrote on prostitution, the House of Commons invited me to a panel discussion on reforming prostitution laws; it suddenly felt like Science Hooker could make an impact.  A short film was produced as a Cairn Productions-Science Hooker collaboration about my science research.  Thousands of academics followed, hundreds of professors; but still, I felt Science Hooker was pointless in a way.  Sharing academic content with academics is preaching to the converted.  It is not outreach.  It is not real science communication.  Added to this, a dozen other platforms are doing the exact same format of science dissemination.  I found myself asking: why am I doing Science Hooker?  What is the goal?  Where is it going?

The answer is still forming.  Fermenting.  Recently, large numbers of sex workers have followed, sharing their content, thoughts, jokes and issues.  I am glad of this demographic shift.  Interestingly, the extent I engage with the sex work community correlates with a proportionate decline in academic followers; a price worth paying, but informative about attitudes, and reinforcing my previous conclusions.  There has been a mixture of positive and negative reactions to Science Hooker.  Recently an academic pulled their copyright and association with a mineral reference book I had been working on with other students because they had stumbled over Science Hooker and my escort history.  This was no loss, academics are plentiful; we simply replaced his contribution and took the incident as a perfect example of bigotry and exclusion in the sciences for those from alternative backgrounds.  At the other end of the spectrum, Science Hooker recently got nominated by a post-doctoral fellow for the Annie Maunder medal from the Royal Astronomy Society for public outreach.  Science Hooker generates impact, disparagement, respect, hatred, encouragement and dismissal in a messy bundle of reactions.

Science Hooker ethos has always been about making science accessible and understandable to all, yet the tangible application of this goal is difficult.  How does one achieve this in any concrete sense?  Initially the accessibility I had in mind was all about explaining science, but now I feel it has morphed to include smashing down ivory walls of the academic tower, or at least graffiti them up a bit; highlighting discrimination, denial of access and judgemental hatred to sex workers in relation to formal science, education and academia.  A new project on the drawing board just now is called “Ask a scientist!”  I am collecting a network of scientists from a wide range of disciplines willing to answer public questions in a 1-1 personal way.  There will be two functions.  Anyone will be able to search for a scientist from a database, read about their history and motivations, their area of research and contact them directly via email.  Alternatively, people will be able to ask a question on the website, and any scientist can choose to respond and answer it, or not.  Possibly different scientists will forward different viewpoints and a conversation will develop.  I hope so.  Once this has been trialed successfully, it would be interesting to create another database called “Ask a sex worker”, again, with the aim of developing conversation, connection and mutual understanding.  I firmly believe it is through knowledge of each other that stigma dies.

The university is ending my funding soon, and I won’t have finished the PhD in time.  I don’t know what will happen, with me, or with Science Hooker.  I may even return to escorting.  Life is uncertain. I am unpredictable.  Science Hooker is fluid.  We can all only play with the cards in our hand, make a difference where opportunity and circumstance allow. So why not visit Science Hooker?  See what it’s all about.

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