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Posts Tagged ‘internet’

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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Our civilisation cannot afford to let the censor-moron loose. The censor-moron does not really hate anything but the living and growing human consciousness.  –  D.H. Lawrence

defend-the-1st-amendmentEvery year, the last week of September is designated as “Banned Books Week“; the name seems to imply the kind of top-down state censorship which was at one time very common even in the US, and is still common in many countries we generally think of as advanced ones with Western values.  But this kind of censorship is very rare now in the United States, and has been for decades; the majority of “challenges” now (despite the celebration’s name, it’s pretty rare that books are actually removed from public collections) originate not with state officials or other “authorities”, but with individuals seeking to “protect the children” from thoughts their parents don’t want them to have.  Nor are those thoughts only sexual ones any more, though obviously those are still the most common reason; nowadays, demands that books be burned controlled are just as likely to come from soi-disant “progressives” as from cultural conservatives, and the reasons may include “racism”, “sexism”, “religious viewpoint”, “violence” and so on.

In a way, the name “Banned Books Week” is far too narrow to encompass everything we should be talking about, and a week is far too limited a time to be talking about it.  As I wrote above, “banned” implies a top-down regime, while in reality the majority of censorship now is the result of morons trying to self-lobotomize our entire culture; the word also implies a governmental action, when in reality the rise of social media and mega-media corporations has resulted in a de facto delegation of the censorship authority to them.  And if you’re tempted to suggest that this isn’t as bad, I suggest you ask yourself how much distribution your book will get if Amazon & Wal-mart refuse to stock it and Google monkeys with your search results to make it difficult to find.  Furthermore, “books”, as much as I love them, are now only a tiny fraction of the ways information can be shared; people who would balk at the idea of censoring actual paper books suddenly feel very differently when the conversation turns to magazines, or movies, or pictures, or music, or video games, or public lectures, or articles, or blogs, or other social media postings, or (most especially) advertising.  The same “right-thinking” folks who would march in protest if a school library declined to stock And Tango Makes Three grow strangely silent when Twitter bans a member’s account for “hate speech”, and may even be willing to march in support of censoring escort ads on Backpage.  As I wrote last year,

We are living in the past of Fahrenheit 451, the early stages of a culture which values feelings above thought, the history of a world in which the solution to any troubling idea is to eradicate it.  Right now it’s going on in the universities, where sheltered young people who have been coddled by overprotective parents for two decades are declaring themselves to be “triggered” or “offended” or even “violated” by ideas – whether spoken or in print – that they haven’t encountered before, or that contradict their opinions, or that they find unpleasant, or that bear some superficial resemblance to any of the preceding.  Just as their parents “protected” them from these unpleasant thoughts by banning them from their homes with internet filters or “parental controls”, so they feel entitled to “protect” themselves – and every other person within their sphere of influence – from those bad, icky ideas by banning them…

The censor-morons are loose, and they’re coming after everyone who dares to disagree with them.  And the only way to stop them is to oppose every attempt to limit the free expression of ideas, even if you disagree with them or find them offensive.  Correction: especially if you find them offensive.  Because as always, tyranny starts with those nobody really wants to defend.think-for-yourself

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The courts, instead of keeping our lawmakers honest, have instead opted to craft ostensibly thoughtful and well-reasoned opinions allowing the legislature to do whatever ridiculous and often horrible things pop into their heads.  –  Matt Brown

Bad Fantasy, Good Reality (#12)

Criminalization always makes sex work conditions shittier:

…the International Labor Organization interviewed…sex workers…and local authorities in Vietnam, and strongly suggested that the country do something about the occupational safety and health risks that come with the industry.  Most workers had casual jobs before they chose to enter the sex industry, after considering it a better option.  Out of the 73 workers surveyed, only one reported to having been deceived into selling sex, but many workers had their movements controlled by employers and some had their identity papers held…According to the workers, conditions would be better in well-maintained, expensive bars, discotheques, spas, massage parlors and restaurants, while brothels and cheap cafés, restaurants, karaoke bars and parlors are dirty and do not guarantee security and safety.  However, no matter where they work, there is always the threat of violence and police raids, especially for women working on the streets…

Too Young To Know

Despite the emphasis on asinine dysphemisms like “resorting to sex work” and “selling their body” [sic], at least this article understands that young people nearly always sell sex out of necessity, and not because they’re abducted by bogeyman “pimps”:

Teenagers in America are resorting to sex work because they cannot afford food, according to a study…by the Urban Institute…Evidence of teenage girls turning to “transactional dating” with older men is likely to cause particular alarm…The consistency of the findings across gender, race and geography was a surprise…Teens would overwhelmingly prefer to earn money through a formal job but prospects for youth employment are extremely limited…

The two red flags I see here are 1) the Urban Institute has produced shoddy sex work studies in the recent past; and 2) the study seems to rely more heavily on anecdotes told by teens about other, unidentified teens, rather than on reports given by teens about their own behavior.

Still a Child 

It’s shocking & saddening to see how low the journalistic standards of PBS and the New York Times have dropped:

An exposé on the shocking number of girls who continue to be forced into marriage in the United States will air…as part of a two-part special for PBS NewsHour….“This is a story so few know is happening right down their street,” [Gayle] Lemmon [said]…in an email…Among the stories featured will be that of a New Jersey girl named Jada, whose father brought her with him to live in Saudi Arabia.  At the age of 12, her father decided to marry her off…he…forced her to walk on his right side while they were together in public — so other Saudi men would know that she was for sale.  Apparently, it’s a cultural signal there.  Another woman…is Nina, a 33-year-old Michigan woman, who said she was seeking an annulment because she had been married against her will at the age of 19.  The case is perhaps the first of its kind in the U.S., and could shape future legal precedent…Nina…talks about [how] sex with her “husband” came to feel like imprisonment and tantamount to rape…

“Right down their street” sounds like something borrowed from “sex trafficking” hysteria, which this whole story resembles. “Apparently, it’s a cultural signal…” “Apparently“?  Didn’t y’all bother to fucking find out, like by consulting an expert on Saudi culture?  And as for Nina, last I checked, 19 was not considered a “child” anywhere in the US, at least not yet.  I’m certainly sympathetic to women who may feel economically trapped in a bad marriage, or feel unable to leave due to threats of violence, but this seems to be conflating adult women with 12-year-old girls, and that’s an extremely dangerous road for self-respecting women to be allowing our culture & media to follow without speaking up.

Policing for Profit 

This excuse is pathetic, even by cop standards:

NYPD brass testified before the…City Council…that it has no idea how much money it [steals] from citizens each year…and an attempt to collect the data would crash its computer systems…NYC councilmember Ritchie Torres introduced legislation this year that would require annual reports from the police department about how much money it [steals], but at Thursday’s hearing, the NYPD said it has no technologically feasible way to track [thefts that were]…not [challenged by the rightful owners in court]…Bronx Defenders…is suing the NYPD for public records on its asset forfeiture program, which rakes in millions in seized cash and property…every year.  According to the scant records Bronx Defenders did manage to get back, the NYPD reported more than $6 million in revenue in 2013 from seized cash, forfeitures, and property sold at auction, and it had a balance of more than $68 million in seized currency in any given month of that year…the vast majority of [stolen] assets are simply forfeited…after the…property owner fails to go through the burdensome and Byzantine process of trying to retrieve them by the deadline…

Nice While It Lasted

Now that the precedent’s firmly established, you’re going to see an increasing number of laws that presume guilt:

In Arizona, the legislature…decided to define sexual abuse and molestation of a child in such a way that intentionally or knowingly touching the genitals or anus of a child or the breast of a female younger than fifteen is a felony.  That should come as no surprise to anyone who is remotely familiar with Arizona, as the one thing the legislature is good at is passing the broadest and most Draconian criminal laws they can imagine…thanks to the Supreme Court of Arizona’s opinion in State v. Holle, the terms of the statute are to be applied literally…the defense that there was no sexual motivation is one the defendant must prove by a preponderance of the evidence…the court justifies making every parent in Arizona a sex offender tasked with proving his or her innocence should a prosecutor decide to ruin his or her life with charges…

Vendetta (Traffic Updates)

More anti-sex violence and attempted brainwashing funded by the sociopathic Swanee Hunt:

[Boston] is stepping up efforts to shame prostitution customers — including the prospect of sending them off to “john school” to [indoctrinate them in the religion of] human trafficking.  It’s all part of a police [fantasy that they can] reduce the online sex trade in the city by 20 percent over the next year…Police are set to receive a $30,000 grant from Demand Abolition…

Between the Ears (#545) 

Have a device that connects to the internet? Assume it can be used to spy on you:

…in a class-action lawsuit representing…tens of thousands of users, [an] Illinois woman has…[sued] sex-toy company Standard Innovation.  She accuses the company, which is based in Ottawa, Canada, of consumer fraud, unjust enrichment, intrusion upon seclusion, and violating the Federal Wiretap Act and the Illinois Eavesdropping Statute…The woman reportedly bought her We-Vibe Rave for $130 in May and proceeded to use it several times before learning via a Defcon hacking convention talk…that her extremely personal usage was being scrutinized for marketing purposes by its maker…the toy can connect to a smartphone for such activities as adjusting vibration type…and intensity…not to mention allowing someone else to be at the controls from afar…

The Widening Gyre (#545) sex-trafficking-flyer

I guess that “outside agency” never heard of Snopes:

The Boys and Girls Club in Chico [California] was notified…about a suspicious job flyer…Devon Saul says these flyers are raising some serious questions.  “For very minimal work it does through [sic] up a red flag to say okay what’s the catch…It promises great pay. 60, 80, 100 dollars a day.  Great trips, great gifts and bonuses and things like that”…His concerns were solidified when an outside agency in Tehama County notified then non-profit that this may be a sex trafficking scam…the club decided education on human trafficking was needed for staff…

Actually, it says $60 to $100 a week, which is about $12-$20 a day; not exactly a fortune.  But I guess we can’t expect literacy from a man who mixes metaphors so egregiously and thinks that if two people are both hysterical, that “solidifies” their fantasies.  And I guess it’s too much to expect these people to actually call the number to investigate what it’s about instead of jumping at their own shadows.

Social Autoimmune Disorder (#594)

I encourage residents to use public computers to report every police car and other official vehicle they can find:

Oakland is…introducing a website…[where busybodies can report] the license plate numbers of suspected johns’ vehicles and describe the specific activity they witnessed.  The sightings are uploaded to the police, who will send a letter to the address where the vehicle is registered…The predecessor…was a program called Dear John, introduced in 2013, which allowed residents to fill out a form that they submitted to the police.  That program generated more than 300 “Dear John” letters mailed to the owners of the vehicles spotted by residents…[cops pretend that] there had been no signs of false reporting in [that] program…

The crowning hypocrisy?  This is Oakland.

To Molest and Rape 

Another woman raped by cops answers headline: “Almost certainly.”

A woman who was…raped by a [cop] said much of which she recalled from that night was “blurry,” but that at one point she woke up and “he was on top of me”…an acquaintance…[drove] her [home from a bar] because she wasn’t in a condition to drive…[Erich] Fritz pulled the man over…and arrested him for operating while intoxicated…Fritz [then] took her to…a hotel room [and raped her]…

Turning Point

Tina Horn uses the New York Times Magazine cover story as a jumping-off point for an article entitled “10 Reasons Decriminalizing Sex Work Is A Feminist Issue“.  And though I think there are much better arguments to be made than most of these, every little bit helps and it’s great to see the number of articles like this one ever increasing.

Too Close To Home (#672)

Read Liz Brown’s fantastic expose, then understand that this is talking about the same events through an anti-sex filter:

The men didn’t know that Hillman, the man they had invited into their elite circle, was actually an undercover detective.  Law enforcement is beginning to take notice of so-called “John boards” — review sites where customers rate prostitutes.  The men busted in this Seattle group earlier this year exposed a secretive world where online sex buyers are treading on a whole new level of criminal behavior…Hillman wrote fake reviews and was invited to join a subgroup that called itself “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”…The League attracted the attention of law enforcement not because its members bought a lot of sex, but because of how they worked together…After six months of undercover surveillance, law enforcement closed in.  They busted eight brothels.  A dozen Korean women were offered human trafficking victim services and released…

Hillman didn’t write “fake reviews”; he paid and wrote reviews just like the others, which (considering he used the acts to harm us) makes him a serial rapist.  And no, those women weren’t “offered” anything, nor were they “released”, because the cops never got their filthy hands on them; they were tipped off and fled.  But because that would ruin the narrative of “exploited victims”, this story was invented so the “authorities” could look benevolent to ignoramuses.  Also note this story doesn’t bother to mention the ruined lives and the suicide this ham-fisted pogrom left in its ugly wake.

Of Course It Is (#673)

I hope she gets every damned penny:

…a lawsuit was filed against the city of Oakland [by] attorneys for Jasmine Abuslin, formerly known as Celeste Guap…her attorneys expect to file similar suits against other jurisdictions involved in this sex scandal.  So far, only two [cops] have been formally charged…

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Almost none of [the “sex trafficking” narrative] is true—and the little that is technically true is so lacking in context that it’s utterly misleading.  –  Elizabeth N. Brown

Anatomy of a Boondoggle 

Just another example of “authorities” paying men to rape whores:

Police raided two flats used as brothels…in Nicosia [Cyprus], arresting a woman from China and detaining another female sex worker [pretended] to be a victim of human trafficking.  A civilian associate of the police visited the brothel and used marked bills to buy sexual services…After [raping the women] the man signalled the police by sending them an SMS message…Police located the two marked bills and [stole] 347 condoms, four of which had been used, along with four mobile phones, sex toys, a computer, and the amount of €345 in cash…

Something Rotten in Sweden

It’s good to see that even reporters who credulously parrot cop anti-whore propaganda now feel compelled to at least mention Amnesty’s findings:

…It can be difficult for police to build cases against traffickers when their primary witnesses — victims — are too afraid to talk [and] don’t trust police [who]…still conduct stings against sex workers…To create more trust among potential victims and curb the demand for commercial sex, sting operations should focus more on catching johns and pimps, [fetishist cop Mark Keller] said…He also suggested changing state law to the so-called Nordic model, which makes it legal for people to prostitute themselves but illegal to pimp, traffick or purchase sex…The model could help [cops] gain the trust of sex trafficking victims…Keller said.  However, it was recently scrutinized in a report by…Amnesty International…which found it subjected sex workers to increased police scrutiny, evictions and other penalties…

The Eye of the Beholder (June Updates)

Given that there is no possibility of a child, what exactly is the rationale behind this prosecution, other than “The ‘authorities’ find this skeevy” or “The law is the law”?

A mother and daughter are facing incest charges in…Oklahoma after authorities learned they were legally married earlier this year.  It is unclear what motivated Patricia Ann Spann, 43, and her daughter, Misty Velvet Dawn Spann, 25, to wed…Investigators also found Patricia Spann married her son in 2008.  He filed for an annulment 15 months later, citing “incest”…Police discovered the marriages late last month during a child welfare check-up.  Patricia Spann told investigators she had lost custody of her biological children as a young mother and only came into contact with her daughter two years ago…the couple believed the union was legal, since she was not listed as the biological mother on her daughter’s birth certificate.  Each woman faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic weiners-weiner

Maybe if we keep repeating this enough, it will eventually sink into the thick public skull:

…Despite popular headlines and self-promoting TV doctors’ proclamations to the contrary, sex addiction isn’t real…There is no doubt that some people have trouble regulating their sexual thoughts, desires, and behaviors.  But addiction has a real meaning and a real clinical definition…When addicts…are shown pictures of their drug of choice there is a clear and uniform response in their P300 brain waves…However, when UCLA researchers studied the response to viewing sexually explicit images in people who self-defined as being unable to regulate their porn viewing, the results showed no similar response…In fact, they found the only thing correlated with brain wave activity was sexual desire such that the higher their self-reported sexual desire, the more brain wave activity they showed.  The authors concluded that there was no evidence to say that even problem sexual regulation fit the definition of addiction as defined by brain response and that these people simply had high sex drives…

Divided We Fall (#13)

Why does Gay, Inc never speak up for sex worker rights until it’s too late?

Indonesian police are taking aim at Grindr and other gay social networking apps following the arrest of three men accused of running a “gay prostitution ring” [advertising] underaged boys for sex.  The arrests come amid an unprecedented uproar about homosexuality in the country, where it has never been a major political issue before this year.  Members of the legislature announced…they would…ban “gay propaganda” online.  The country’s Constitutional Court is likewise currently in the middle of hearings on a petition to [criminalize]…all sex outside of marriage…Police have told local media they have identified 148 victims of the network, though only 27 of them are [supposedly younger than 18]…“More than a few gay communities have been growing and targeting kids as victims,” said Asruron Ni’am Sholeh, chair of the Child Protection Commission…

“Targeting kids”…hmm, where have we heard that accusation before?  But back when the moral retards were just warring on female sex workers, the big GLBT organizations couldn’t be bothered to notice.

Finding What Isn’t There

Note how dysphemisms and weasel-words are used to conjure a story out of nothing but rumors, exaggerations and hysteria:

More than 1,000 women and girls have been apparent victims of sex trafficking in illicit cantinas in the United States that largely operate beyond the reach of law enforcement, the anti-[sex work] group Polaris [fantasized]…Half of the…cases…arose in Houston, Texas, a city near the Mexican border with a large Latino population…Cantinas…may disguise the cost of commercial sex in very high drink prices, and women are forced to flirt and drink with patrons…hotlines run by Polaris got reports of 201 cases of sex and labor trafficking, involving 1,300 potential victims at cantinas and bars in 20 U.S. states from 2007 to 2016.  More than half the victims were underage…At one illicit cantina in Houston, some victims were forced to have sex as often as 50 times a day, it said.  The cantina owner, convicted of sex trafficking, conspiracy and other charges, was sentenced to life in prison earlier this year…Cases can be hard to investigate and prosecute because traffickers and owners may hide their ownership of cantinas or liquor licenses, and because victims are too scared to testify in court, afraid that traffickers will retaliate by hurting their families…

“Apparent” victims, meaning reports from busybodies that added up to nothing.  Reports of “force” that don’t hold up because there isn’t any, which Polaris then insists are real except that the “victims” won’t admit it.  Impossibly-high claims of clients per day such as we haven’t seen in a couple of years now, using a high-profile racism-based railroading case as “evidence”, and moving the entire city of Houston hundreds of miles south to bolster their fantasy.  This is absurd even by Polaris’ standards.

Too Close To Home

Serious question: How do we nominate Liz Brown for a Pulitzer?

…On January 7, Washington officials [claimed]…women [had been] lured from South Korea under false pretenses and “held against their will” at local brothels.  [They crowed about seizing] a website where deviant men promoted and reviewed these enslaved women…King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg [said]…”The systematic importation of vulnerable young women for sexual abuse, exploitation, and criminal profiteering has been going on for years and it came to a stop this week…This is what human trafficking looks like.”  But as more information about the case has become available, Satterberg’s narrative starts to break down.  The reality—as evidenced by police reports, court documents, online records, and statements from those involved—is…a story of immigration, economics, the pull of companionship and connection, the structures and dynamism that drive black markets, and a criminal-justice system all too eager to declare women victims of the choices they make…

The piece is long, thorough and damning. I strongly urge you to read the whole thing, even if you need to do so in three sittings (it’s broken into three parts).  The “sex trafficking” narrative has been slowly crumbling, and in this important article Liz has handily taken a sledgehammer to a very prominent outcropping of it.

The Mote and the Beam (#613) 

Another victory against a political witch hunt:

The Supreme Court temporarily blocked a congressional subpoena that seeks information on how Backpage.com screens for possible sex trafficking in classifieds advertising.  The order…came hours after Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer asked the high court to intervene, saying the case threatens the First Amendment rights of online publishers…the…stay means that Backpage need not comply…until further action from the Supreme Court…The Senate panel has tried for nearly a year to make Backpage produce certain documents as part of its [persecution of sex work advertisements] over the internet.  After the website refused to comply, the Senate voted 96-0 in March to hold the website in contempt…

To Molest and Rape rapist-cop-james-robinson

Go on, keep giving male cops power over women; what could possibly go wrong?

The Georgia Bureau of Investigations arrested Riverdale [cop] James Robinson Jr…[for] raping a woman he was transporting to jail…Robinson stopped the car next to an empty building near a Custom tire shop…as soon as the woman was released from jail she…asked the shop for footage from its security cameras…

One Born Every Minute (#644)

Interesting that this article doesn’t mention the anti-Backpage mob:

In a 2014 opinion in a case involving a woman who was drugged, raped, and filmed by men she met through the website ModelMayhem.com…the Ninth Circuit wrote that the CDA was not “an all purpose get-out-of-jail-free card for businesses that publish user content on the internet.”  The court found that Model Mayhem…could be sued for failure to warn as the site was aware of the model’s rapists because they were the subject of a criminal investigation for doing the same thing to other Model Mayhem users…the court found that Section 230 did not protect the website when it failed to do anything about the rapists it knew were prowling its site…a…Match.com case is very similar.  [Wade] Ridley, the suit claimed, had attacked other women using Match.com and the company had done nothing to warn love-seeking online daters about the possibility of attack.  The Ninth Circuit upheld the dismissal of some claims, but it found that the logic supporting the court’s Model Mayhem ruling applied here, too…

Of Course It Is

A step in the right direction, at least:

…Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley [announced] criminal charges against seven [cops]…O’Malley [also] said she found evidence of [rapist cops]…in Contra Costa, San Francisco and San Joaquin counties, all outside her jurisdiction.  She said she has  contacted her counterparts there to pursue criminal action…The most serious Alameda County charges — felony oral copulation with a minor — will be filed against Oakland [cop] Giovanni LoVerde and Contra Costa Sheriff’s deputy Ricardo Perez…Oakland [cop] Brian Bunton also faces a felony charge of obstruction of justice and a misdemeanor charge of engaging in prostitution.  Three other Oakland [cops] will be charged with crimes…Terryl Smith…LeRoy Johnson…and…Warit Uttapa…Dan C. Black of the Livermore Police Department…faces [four] misdemeanor charges…O’Malley said it’s likely that formal charges against the officers will not be filed until Guap, the case’s primary witness, returns to California…“If the [City of Richmond] does not pay for her to come back, we will pay for her airfare,” O’Malley said…

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Most of the whores l’ve met are women who question things, who value their independence over social norms.  –  Kaytlin Bailey

Droit du Seigneur Darryl Stasher

He didn’t rape her, but he sure seems to think it was his privilege to fuck her:

A Mississippi cop was fired…after a video that went viral on social media shows him lurking in his patrol car near a high school, trying to coax a teenaged girl into cutting class, pressuring her into accompany him to “room” to have sex instead.  [Darryl Stasher] said he “wanted to do more than just talk.”  He then assured the teen nobody would find out what they were doing, and that he’d “take care of her”.  “Oh.  So you saying you ain’t fucking,” a disappointed [Stasher] can be heard asking after the student declined his advances that were caught on camera in the 49 second clip…

Schadenfreude 

It’s always so sweet when a rescue industry scam is exposed:

For years, Jenny Williamson…has [hawked] her [fantasy] of rescuing girls from sex traffickers, spreading the Gospel while [raking in] hundreds of thousands…[she] has regaled audiences with the litany of horrors these girls suffer…Courage House [was]…closed…effective June 14, amid a flurry of state inspections that found numerous violations, including inadequate staffing levels…[despite] assets of…$1.4 million…Courage House was cited 16 times in the first six months of this year…10 were classified by the state as Type A, or serious enough to have an immediate impact on clients’ health, safety or personal rights…former workers [describe] Williamson as a temperamental leader with no child-development background who micromanaged her trained staff and became…swept up in her own publicity…staff members were…abruptly fired for…expressing concerns over [her inclusion]…of clients’ confidential information in fundraising or publicity efforts…[including]  identifiable images of [inmates]…on the company’s Facebook page…[Williamson] routinely “paraded the girls around” for marketing purposes…Arlicia Lorentty, who was a social worker/case manager in the home in 2015, said…“Everything was a photo op”…girls were…[forced to attend] a Christian church…whose leaders and congregation have been heavily involved in Courage House…

The More the Better 

There’s no “if” about it; Melania Trump is or was a sex worker.  Even if she was never an escort as rumors allege (and I think it very likely that she was indeed one), she posed for nude photos (including a lesbian scene) and is now a trophy wife…and sorry, ladies, but both of those are definitely kinds of sex work.  When people started mocking her for using an incompetent speechwriter, I defended her not on the grounds of the political beliefs she claims to profess, but on the grounds that she is a fellow whore doing her job (which for a wife means emotionally & socially supporting her husband) and should not be mocked merely because he happens to be a delusional narcissist.  Margaret Corvid has more to say about the new rumors:

…when you share those allegations, pointing and laughing, saying “Look!”, calling her a liar, calling her a whore, saying that she is unfit for the White House because she was photographed sexually, you are stepping on everyone who does sex work in this country every day—most of whom are much more vulnerable than Melania Trump…[she] isn’t a liar for covering up sex work…[because] it…is necessary for survival in a country where selling sex is illegal and where it is so stigmatized that it can get you fired from your “mainstream” job, get your kids taken away, and destroy your reputation for life…

I’m Sure You Feel Safer Now 

…that Canada’s new law is “protecting” sex workers from making money from lonely old men:

Two Sydney men have pleaded guilty and were fined…in connection with a prostitution sting…after…Judge Brian Williston ruled that [entrapment isn’t entrapment when it’s politically popular]…Gordon Ernest MacLean, 66, and John Howard MacLean, 66…were fined a total of $500 after the judge waived costs and surcharges.  They also must submit a DNA sample…

Because obviously, the cops never know when these hardened “sex criminals” may strike again.

Monsters

[Mexican] police do little to protect the transgender community and [rarely investigate trans sex workers’] deaths…Mexico has one of the highest rates of transphobic violence in the world, according to a recent report by the Cornell University Law School in New York and the Transgender Law Center…The number of documented murders of transgender people rose to 46 in 2012 from four in 2008, with actual figures likely to be significantly higher…transgender women in particular have suffered from a fierce backlash against same-sex marriage and other advances…

Passive Voice

Even though it’s a year old, this tutorial in how the past exonerative tense works is too brilliant to pass up.  It’s also too brilliant for me to risk butchering by any attempt at synopsis, so do yourself a favor and go read it.

Devil’s Advocate

This article could’ve appeared under so many headings; “Cops and Robbers” due to the vigilantism and “Bait and Switch” because of the sleazy entrapment tactics (“18” in big letters and “15” in fine print, for example, when any whore can tell you horny guys rarely read past the pictures).  But I think the fact that the state convicted two men for non-crimes against a “person” who does not even exist puts it in this category:fake Tinder profile

The creators of the “Tinder Experiment” set up a fake profile of a [a fake 18-year-old girl pretending to be] 15…in a bid to [entrap careless, stupid men]…They then secretly filmed conversations and face-to-face meetings with the men before shaming them online.  Those videos were removed and their website shut down by police, but [the sleazy pigs were still happy]…to use the information from the “experiment” [to destroy lives]…Nicolaos Katsamas was…sentenced last month to two- and-a-half years’ jail…Tobias Kilsby was also jailed for two years…Detective Senior Constable Tas Gagatsakis [admitted that]…Tinder is [only] for users 18 and over…

Don’t Call It Trafficking

This isn’t called “trafficking”, while the same demographic choosing to sell sex to survive is:

…Island View…housed more than 100 [“troubled teens”]…aged 13-17, and charged parents at least $10,000 a month…the staff tormented and abused them — pitting teens against each other, physically restraining them, secluding them, medicating them with high doses of powerful antipsychotics and forcing them to sit without speaking for hours or days at a time…[after a lawsuit] it…closed…[and] a new company, Family Help & Wellness, took over the property.  The facility began to operate under a different name, Elevations RTC.  It continues to bring in new students today…39 of the 48 employees listed on Elevations’ website worked for Island View…At least 1,500 [teens] in 30 states alleged that they were abused at private treatment facilities in 2005 alone…The troubled-teen industry is almost entirely unregulated…Congress has repeatedly refused to intervene…Parents who send their children to residential treatment centers like Island View often hire independent contractors, colloquially known as “transporters,” to forcibly [abduct] their kids…

Yellow Fever (#509) 

Remember Tenancingo, the Mexican town which was supposedly infested with “pimps” but actually had only two (plus employees) and 26 supposed “victims”?  Apparently Canada wants a “pimp town” too, and naturally they claim it’s the country’s largest black community.  But they’re not racists, no sirree!

One of the first things you notice when you enter this community northeast of Halifax is a large billboard that tells you you’re in “Canada’s Largest Black Community”…every driver here acknowledges oncoming drivers — even strangers — with a wave of the hand.  It’s not the welcome you expect in a place that has repeatedly been described as the birthplace of North Preston’s Finest, a violent gang that specializes in trafficking young women and girls as young as 14 in the sex trade…residents, even local police…insist the claims about a criminal gang originating in North Preston are exaggerated, misleading or manufactured by outsiders who don’t know their community…But police [and other prohibitionists] outside the province…[masturbate furiously to fantasies of] a community that has churned out generations of ruthless pimps who are spread across the country and unafraid to use brute force to punish women in their “stable” if they step out of line…

Guest Columnist:  Kaytlin Bailey

My friend Kaytlin’s one-woman show is part of the Fringe Festival:

Cuntagious [is] a one woman show, written by Kaytlin Bailey – now a stand up comedian, once a sex worker…“the first run was really a coming out process.  I performed the show before I told my family.  I knew most of the audience members personally, so they were very supportive…when you come out, other people come out.  I’ve had a lot of people reach out to me to tell me their own experience with sex work, I love that”…

I’ve seen the show twice, and I will again when she brings it back to Seattle; you really should, too.

Another Fine Mess (#547)

As I and many others have said, sex drives technological development.  And I think that’s what the prudes are really afraid of:

…The World Wide Web turned 25 this month…The sexualized female body has, from the beginning, been the catalyst for attempts to regulate what’s on the Web, ultimately shaping what the Internet looks like today.  Only a couple of years after Berners-Lee began to worry about an incoming flood of photos of nude women, Congress was gripped by the “great Internet sex panic of 1995”…the Communications Decency Act…was signed into law on Feb. 8, 1996, and thousands of websites went dark in protest…provisions that criminalized sending or displaying to a minor “any comment, request, suggestion, proposal, image, or other communications” that were sexual in a “patently offensive” way…[were determined by] the Supreme Court…[to be] unconstitutionally vague and [were] struck…down…Yet another part of the widely loathed CDA — one the Supreme Court has never heard any challenges to — also helped bring about the Web we now know.  Section 230 immunizes service providers from lawsuits over the speech of their users.  It’s the law that lets Facebook, YouTube, WordPress, Twitter, Yelp, Craigslist and Reddit exist.  Without its provisions, a service such as Twitter could be sued into nonexistence if an individual user sent a single defamatory tweet…

Eternal Vigilance (#617)

Rent in exchange for sex isn’t “free”; it has been paid for with sex:

A room in return for sex…the…landlord cashing in on desperate, vulnerable and homeless women in London.  A recent report has unveiled a disturbing attempt to exploit homeless women by offering free accommodation in return for sexual favors…There are hundreds of listings…by men either obliquely or explicitly (some very explicitly) offering free housing to women for sex….they also include men who are expressly targeting adverts at homeless women…

How are the ads “explicitly targeting homeless women”?  Do they read, “only homeless women need apply” and require proof of homelessness?  This looks to me like nothing more than Puritans upset about the fact that some women are comfortable paying our rent (and other expenses) with sex.

Check Your Premises (#636)

Another cop so disconnected from reality that she thinks she can “build communication with sex workers” while stealing their income by harassing their clients:

A new strategy to tackle prostitution in [Redbridge, London] will see the police’s focus shift from the sex workers to [demonized clients and partners]…Insp Gellatley’s team aims to disrupt clients while engaging in a relationship of trust with prostitutes.  “We are trying to build communication with the sex workers” [she said]…

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