Posts Tagged ‘Jill Brenneman’

Porn is not addictive.  Sex is not addictive.  The ideas of porn and sex addiction are pop psychology concepts that…have no legitimate scientific basis.  –  David Ley

Interview: Jill Brenneman

Jill has largely retired from activism, but has written a guest post about the Cleveland kidnap victims on Amanda Brooks’ blog:  “…Gina DeJesus, Michelle Knight, and Amanda Berry…likely have many years of very costly medical expenses and the need for equally costly psychological help…Like me, their lives were interrupted at a young age.  Now they have to move on with the physical and emotional issues…and…rebuild their lives…

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic

Once again, Dr. David Ley tells it like it is:

…when people buy into the belief that porn is addictive, it changes the argument…sex and porn aren’t the problems…one part of this issue is an attack on aspects of male sexuality, including masturbation and use of pornography…which society fears…


Though this was first published nearly a year ago, this updated version appeared last week:

…even though experts and studies have denounced the [sex offender registry] as ineffective, the battle cry of its supporters is still, “If it saves one child…!”…There is no evidence that [it] has done that at all.  However, many, many thousands of children have had their lives made a living hell because of it…parents on the registry…are subject to the whims of local and state laws, including severe restrictions on where they may live…Vigilantes have murdered registrants, leaving their children fatherless…and…children [as young as]…nine…have been [registered]…Registered 12-year-olds aren’t even rarities…in Wisconsin…a district attorney did everything he could, and bragged about it, to have a 6-year-old prosecuted and targeted…for “playing doctor.”  Some of these children find escape only in suicide

I’m Sure You Feel Safer Nowhot dog hooker

New Yorkers are so very fortunate to have brave, dedicated professionals protecting them from dangerous criminals:

…Catherina G. Scalia, 47…was arrested after she…gave [an] undercover cop a massage…without a license…She’s also accused of unauthorized practice…[and an] offer for additional services…Scalia disputed the charges at her arraignment…”They keep framing me.  I am broke.  I am jobless.  All these arrests are entrapment”…When CNN…profiled Scalia and her hot dog truck a year ago, Scalia asserted she was a stripper, not a prostitute…

Bullies With Badges

Anael Ibanez…[was arrested] for distributing pornographic material and exploiting prostitution [in] Syracuse [Utah]…the only ones who actually watched the sex show [Ibanez arranged] were a couple of undercover police officers and…[a man they] charged with sexual solicitation.  Four sex show performers also were arrested…and…charged…SWAT team members were dispatched to clear the theater…[they] broke a glass door…to gain entry…Ibanez works for a janitorial company…and had access to the theater after hours…

Yes, they dispatched a SWAT team to bust adults having sex.

Sleazier Than Thou (TW3 #18)

May must be Ashley Madison’s slowest month, because it’s always the one in which owner Noel Biderman makes some claim like this:  “…its membership registration spiked [last] week following Sunday’s…season finale of The Simpsons…[Biderman] said new registrations surged a whopping 230% this week after…a frustrated Marge Simpson stumbled onto…’Sassymadison.com’…

First They Came for the Hookers…

Reema BajajIf prohibitionists really want to “rescue” sex workers, why do they keep trying to stop us from getting other jobs?

In June 2011…Reema Bajaj…was accused of prostitution…in June 2012 [she] pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor charge…Although she kept her Illinois law license…she…had trouble attracting clients.  Earlier this month, she dissolved her law practice…and…sued three local lawyers: a former prosecutor who worked on her case, Calvin Campbell; one of her own former defense attorneys, Timothy Johnson, who is now law partners with Campbell; and a “John Doe” defendant.  Bajaj alleges that the three lawyers circulated nude photos of her, causing her emotional distress and hurting her ability to generate business…

I hope she wins, restarts her practice and specializes in defending sex workers, since she knows firsthand how difficult it is for us to get justice in America.

Where are the Victims? (TW3 #28)

Because you know, “false consciousness” and all:

To hear the testimony of the women who worked for them, Vincent George Sr. and his son were not the violent and manipulative sex traffickers that prosecutors described, but, rather, the heads of a happy extended family…Bridgette Carr, director of the Human Trafficking Clinic at the University of Michigan Law School, said it was…“not shocking” that women would assist the defense, and may actually be evidence of how effective the pimps were in manipulating the women…

Worse Than I Thought

The cancer has now spread to Tennessee:

…12 new laws…include harsher criminal penalties on traffickers…and the creation of a state trafficking task force…a statewide study in 2011 documented incidents of sex trafficking… authorities will be able to prosecute those paying for sex – the “johns” – as traffickers…[thus allowing] for…termination of parent rights…

Read that again:  Tennessee is going to call clients “traffickers”, charge them with a felony and steal their children.  In other words, they’re going to punish fake “child trafficking” with the real, state-sanctioned variety.

Creating the Crisis

The largest study on domestic violence ever done demonstrates that the MRAs were much closer to the truth than the feminists:  men and women commit partner abuse at roughly equal rates.  23% of women and 19.3% of men have been physically abused by a partner, while 28.3% of women and 21.6% of men have physically abused one.  Lifetime rates of abuse are higher among women, while past-year rates are higher among men.  41% of women and 43% of men reported emotional abuse.  Motives were similar in both sexes.  Here’s a short summary of the findings; the full report is available at the first link.Liu Xiaozhen

Follow Your Bliss (TW3 #50)

Being an official busybody for an oppressive regime is hard work!

Despite China’s ongoing sexual revolution…  anyone found to be producing and distributing  obscene material can get three years in jail…[this] requires many pornography censors…[like] 70-year-old Liu Xiaozhen…[who said] “You have to watch even if you don’t want to”…

What a Week! (TW3 #52)

As bad as American prohibitionists are, at least most of them aren’t murderous:

Unidentified gunmen have shot dead at least seven women and five men at a [Baghdad] brothel…[near] where alcohol shops were attacked last week…The attackers apparently…[used] silenced weapons, as residents…said they did not see or hear anything out of the ordinary…Zayouna is an upscale…district…where a number of brothels have opened in recent years…

Between the Ears (TW3 #133)

Ethicists and feminists are concerned [about]…a drug that can amp up female sexual longings…Male-sexual-enhancement drugs…are about…improving blood flow to the penis…while research so far suggests that most women need more than mere physical arousal…To stoke female desire with pharmacology, then, you need to get into the brain…some feminists anticipate that the marketing of these drugs will pathologize normal losses of desire…when in fact…[they] may result from stress or relationship problems that should be addressed in other ways…

I agree.  If female desire were mostly about hormones, placebos wouldn’t be as effective as testosterone; in fact, they are often more so.  Nor is this a problem limited to women, as Dr. Marty Klein discusses in the linkback.

Miracle Village aerial viewBanishment

Florida’s “sex offender” residence restrictions are so bad that a small, isolated settlement named “Miracle Village” has become a haven for them.  Meanwhile, David Vitter (who has been the center of several sex scandals) is trying to keep them from getting food stamps:

…This…will…contribute to the continuing cycle of trapping the same individuals in the criminal justice system.  All released felons have difficulty gaining employment…those with sexual offenses face even more impediments due to the public registry and the myriad of restrictions placed upon [them]…Studies…show that, denied benefits, there is a higher rate of return to drug use and crime…anything gained financially from a reduction in the food stamp program will just show up as increased prison costs…

But wait, there’s more!

A network of…internet companies is mining data from sex-offender sites…[for] an extortion racket [which demands] up to $499 for removing names…and other personal data…SORArchives.com, Offendex.com and Onlinedetective.com did not take down individual profiles after payments were made and launched online harassment campaigns against those who balked at financial demands or filed complaints…the websites [also] list individuals…who no longer are required to register and…include names and addresses of people who never have been arrested or convicted of a sex crime.  The…operators ensure that anyone in their databases can be found easily [via] Google…[and] have prominently profiled specific individuals, published their home and e-mail addresses, posted photographs of their relatives and copied their Facebook friends onto the…websites…

Original Sin

Pope Francis…urged mobsters…to abandon their evil ways, particularly…trafficking rackets…”I think of the great pain suffered by men, women and even children, exploited by so many mafias”…He decried the crime syndicates for “making them do work that makes them slaves, prostitution”…Francis…has branded human trafficking as one of the most terrible evils plaguing the world…

Big Sister (TW3 #317)

This pro-censorship Guardian article isn’t nearly as interesting as Jezebel’s response to it, written by revolting neofeminist toady “Lapdoug” Barry:

There’s a campaign afoot in Iceland to seriously restrict underage access to hardcore porn…the argument that porn is a form of free expression smells…a lot like the sort of bullshit the multibillion-dollar porn industry shovels…the porn industry does not have the interests of Icelands [sic] malleable adolescent minds at heart when it argues that limiting access to its productions is tantamount to government censorship…

The biggest lie of several here is that the porn ban is intended to “protect adolescents”, when in fact it was specifically sold (as part of the Swedish model) to “protect” women.  But let’s give Lapdoug’s argument the benefit of the doubt; if he’ll agree to let his writings be censored by a government agency for a trial period (twenty years or so should suffice), I’m sure people who respect human agency far more than he does can be counted on to give a nationwide censorship regime all the consideration it deserves.

James LiptonThe More the Better (TW3 #317)

Are people really so stupid they believe it’s totally different now?

[James Lipton]…of…Inside the Actors Studio used to be a pimp…the youthful 86-year-old admitted…that he had pandered “a whole bordello”…in 1950s Paris…”The French mecs didn’t exploit women.  They represented them, like agents”…Lipton…added that…he was against people paying for sex.  “I think if you can’t earn it on your own, then you don’t deserve it.”

Because obviously celebrities are morally superior beings qualified to judge what others “deserve”.

Objectification Overruled (TW3 #320)

Pathetic middle-class white British feminists are at it again:

The UK’s main supermarkets could be exposed to legal challenges…if they refuse to remove magazines and newspapers with naked women on their covers…In a letter published in the Guardian, 14 equalities lawyers say…retailers are vulnerable…under sexual discrimination law…A campaign launched by UK Feminista and…Object aims to put pressure on Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Asda and WHSmith to remove lads’ mags from their shelves…[they] threaten…a test case and will support employees uncomfortable with images of naked and near-naked women…

This is a load of rubbish and they know it; such a precedent would mean that anyone could bring a case against any product she finds “offensive”, for example Catholics suing to have birth control removed.  But lest you think this idiocy is limited to Britain:

…the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has unanimously passed a proposal…to ban the display of bikini-clad mannequins outside lingerie shops…With Mumbai recording the second highest number of rapes in the country, [law sponsor Ritu] Tawade said the display of inadequately clothed mannequins was indecent and could lead to “wrong acts” by men…corporator Sunil Prabhu backed her…”I agree…that such scantily clad mannequins do invite unwanted attention of men and the resulting surge of sex crimes”…

Schadenfreude (TW3 #320)

Yet another rescue industry “hero” is exposed as a con artist:  “[Andy Conner]…the [Washington state] Sheriff’s Deputy who funded a charity to help young women escape prostitution…is on administrative leave while the King County Sheriff’s Office investigates allegations that thousands of dollars may have gone missing…

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Why?  It paid the rent.  –  Marilyn Monroe (on posing nude)

Ten updates from the seventh week of 2012.

Whore Madonnas (August 29th, 2010)

The classic Madonna/whore fallacy teaches that women can be one or the other, but as I’ve said many, many times before this is complete and utter hogwash.  Any normal woman is capable of playing either role as required or even both simultaneously, and about half of the girls who worked for me had children.  In fact, I think it’s safe to say that many women enter prostitution because of their children…”  Case in point, from Offbeat Mama:

…I have the perfect suburban mommy resume [but] I keep a huge secret from my family, neighbors, and friends…I’m an escort…Scoop those jaws up off of the floor, moms and dads, because…it could happen to you.  I don’t mean you’ll be trafficked into sex work by some skeevy creeper on the internet — I mean that you may some day be in a position you never dreamed you’d be in doing things you never saw yourself doing in order to make ends meet…And you know what?  It’s not horrible.  I don’t hate my life.  In fact, sometimes I think I have it better than most American moms.  I work on the evenings and weekends the kids are at their father’s place…They never even know I’m gone.  Then when they are with me, I get to be a devoted single stay-at-home mom…

The piece is well worth reading in its entirety, and even the comments are overwhelmingly positive!

BDSM (Part One) (September 15th, 2010)

OK, I like abduction fantasies as much as the next healthy woman, but most of us have the sense not to act them out in public:

…Nikolas Harbar, 31, [of Portland, Oregon] was only “role-playing” when he…tied up his naked girlfriend, 26-year-old Stephanie Pelzner and threw her in the back of his Subaru [on Valentine’s Day]…but…a concerned witness [called the cops and when they arrived]… Pelzner confirmed that “she was voluntarily bound and nude”…[the couple was] arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, but released later that day.

Real People (February 6th, 2011)

Bethany St. James is a brothel prostitute who advocates extending the Nevada model to the whole United States.  And while I disagree with her belief that women can’t be trusted to manage our own sex lives, her recent essay in Huffington Post is excellent:

…when I recently appeared on a daytime talk show to discuss an article…I wrote…I was shocked to find that it was nearly impossible for the…audience to…fathom that a woman who works in the sex industry could be educated, happy and goal driven.  The stereotype that all prostitutes are drug addicted women with sad childhoods who’ve been reeled into a life of shame and disease…remains…prevalent.  No matter how I attempted to explain that just as in all professions, there are a multitude of factors and variables, my words seemed to have fallen on deaf ears…Not all sex workers and adult entertainers are the same, just as not all people within the same ethnic background are the same.  Although many women in the adult industry have problems, couldn’t the same be true of every profession?…there are college educated professionals with problems far worse that any prostitute I’ve known.  Job description alone should not be the sole factor when forming an opinion of a person…

Interview:  Jill Brenneman (Part Four) (February 24th, 2011)

One year ago today I published the final installment of my interview with activist and sex trafficking survivor Jill Brenneman; coincidentally, a Dutch website named Nederlandse Debatbond recently reposted her July 2010 article “Prohibitionists’ Comparing Sex Work and Straight Work:  They are Dead Wrong”, which originally appeared in Bound, Not Gagged.  If you’ve never read it, now’s your chance.

It’s Different Because It Involves Sex, Part Umpteen (June 16th, 2011)

Last year, judges in New York ruled that dancing isn’t dancing if it’s sexy.  That bizarre belief appears to be shared by a California woman who claims porn can’t be copyrighted:

…Hard Drive Productions…demanded $3,400 to make their threatened lawsuit go away but [Liuxia Wong] not only says she’s innocent and harassed, but also that porn cannot be copyrighted…In a lawsuit filed at the end of January, Wong says that she did not download the work in question and goes on to attack Hard Drive on a number of fronts…the alleged infringement [took] place [on] March 28th, 2011, but…the movie…wasn’t officially registered until April 22nd…[and though]…Hard Drive insist[ed] that [she] would be liable…even if her router was unsecured and someone else [used it] without her knowledge…Wong’s suit dismisses that…as “erroneous”.  But perhaps most interestingly, Wong is challenging the notion that Hard Drive can own the copyright to its own work – indeed, that porn can be copyrighted at all.

“…the Copyright Clause [of the US Constitution] empowers…Congress: ‘To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries,” the lawsuit details, adding:  “Early Circuit law in California held that obscene works did not promote the progress of science and the useful arts, and thus cannot be protected by copyright”…Wong is asking the court to…[declare] that not only is she not liable…for infringement, but that the company’s movie is not copyrightable and is illegal due to Hard Drive engaging in “solicitation, conspiracy to commit prostitution, pimping and/or pandering,” during its production…

While I’m sympathetic to Wong’s right to defend herself against those who misuse the law, that defense doesn’t require actions which are just as immoral as Hard Drive’s and could potentially cause a great deal of trouble and expense for others who aren’t even involved in the dispute.

Déjà Vu (June 25th, 2011)

This column examined the strong resemblance between the Victorian and modern incarnations of anti-whore rhetoric, and its epigram was from a letter sent to The Times by an anonymous prostitute in 1858.  Well, on February 11th Dr. Laura Agustín discussed the “fallen woman” metaphor and the persistent idea that whores need to be “rescued” from our “plight”; she also wrote of Charles Dickens’ involvement with a “rescue home” and mentioned that he once tried to “save” a woman who didn’t want “saving”…the very lady who wrote the letter from which my epigram came.  If you’d like to read that letter in its entirety, take a look at Dr. Agustín’s February 14th column.

An Ounce of Prevention (October 15th, 2011)

More news about potential HIV vaccines:

The discovery of HIV-resistant sex workers in Africa could pave the way for a more effective AIDS vaccine, according to a new study by University of Montreal researchers.  “Studying women who are naturally resistant…[may enable] researchers to…[develop] vaccinations or . . . gels that could prevent transmission of HIV,” said lead researcher, Dr. Michel Roger…”Our research shows that…we should turn to the entry points…to find a means for blocking the virus.”  The year-and-a-half-long study involved 52 commercial sex workers who were uninfected with HIV, 44 sex workers who were HIV-positive and 71 uninfected [non-prostitutes]…in Benin…researchers found that the…uninfected sex workers had fewer inflammatory molecules in the vagina than [HIV-positive] women…working under similar conditions.  “We have identified prostitutes, who of course, are highly exposed to the virus and some of them, they don’t get infected even though they practise in the same way as others, in the same building, with the same clients.  They don’t get infected after four, five, seven years of prostitution,” Roger [said]…this group of HIV-resistant women [even] had fewer inflammatory molecules than [non-prostitutes]…”we need to understand better the mucosal response against HIV in order to design an efficient vaccine,” he said.  This new kind of vaccine could be administered through the nose and would immunize all mucus membranes in the body…

Bad Fantasy, Good Reality (October 27th, 2011)

Another Western female academic studied Asian hostess bars and discovered that the women there are neither “degraded” nor “victimized”, but rather following a deliberate strategy:

…seven years of in-depth research into the hostess bar scene in Phnom Penh has revealed…that…aspirations and obligations drive the girls from the countryside to the cities in search of opportunity.  For many…it was…a personal desire to earn money, after seeing friends…return to the provinces bedecked in gold, make-up and new clothes…Upon arrival in the capital, the easiest and most fruitful job for a newcomer is work in a hostess bar, where the monthly salaries range from $60-$100.  On top of that, tips and ‘ladies drinks’ (a $1 surcharge added to drinks bought for them by customers, which is then given back in their wages) can increase their earnings to as much as $300 per month.  In a country where the average monthly salary for a teacher or police officer is approximately $60-$80…bar work is incredibly lucrative…and is considered by many to be more ‘fun’ than other unskilled employment options, such as garment factory work or street trading…Most women arrive unable to speak English, but learn within months…they enjoyed the friends they made and the financial power it gave them.  All people…need money to survive; they work because of economic…motivations.  These young women are no different.  This is not to glamorise the bars – there are plenty of downsides, such as structural inequalities, exploitative bosses, large fines and gropey customers who are sometimes racist and rude.  However, [they] can also be viewed as places of opportunity, which the women exploit in order to empower themselves and improve their lives…

…these women are highly stigmatised by wider Cambodian society.  And those who…supplement their incomes by trading in sex…are considered srey kouch or ‘broken whores’…traditionally strict moral and social rules…require ‘good women’ to stay at home and take care of their families, be indoors before dark, and remain virgins until marriage…[but] within their families, the ability to speak English, learn about life outside of Cambodia, socialise with foreigners, and use the internet to communicate are also all markers of prestige and status…On the one hand, they completely defy all the social rules of respectability, such as being submissive and ‘virtuous’.  Yet the high status their families receive as a result of material goods provided by the women sometimes helps [them] improve their reputations.  In the end, they are virtuous for the help they give to their families…bar workers and professional girlfriends…don’t want to be viewed as bad women or helpless victims of exploitation that are in need of rescuing…

The author, Dr Heidi Hoefinger of the University of London, is the author of the upcoming book Sex, Love and Money in Cambodia.

Legal Is As Legal Does (December 14th, 2011)

US law allows politicians and cops to tyrannize whores as they like, but in New Zealand even prohibiting streetwalkers from working in certain areas requires a new law:

…A bill that will allow Auckland Council to ban street prostitution in specific places is to be considered by the local government select committee.  Other city councils including Christchurch are expected to show interest and may seek to have the same powers applied generally…Chairwoman Nicky Wagner, who is MP for Christchurch Central, said…street prostitution in the inner city had moved out to the residential areas…[Manurewa MP George] Hawkins said he would have preferred to have had a bill amending the Prostitution Reform Act 2003 to outlaw street prostitution nationally…[but] the committee believed [that] would negate the intentions of the…Act…

The story also illustrates that freedom can never be taken for granted, because there will always be those who want to criminalize anything that isn’t currently criminal.

Moloch (January 29th, 2012)

Here’s another story of American “authorities” sacrificing kids to their filthy devil-god; the February 10th episode of the public radio show This American Life tells of attractive young police women posing as students in Florida high schools in order to ruin the lives of teenage boys by using their sex appeal to trick the boys into getting marijuana for them.  Once again, the sickness of American culture is revealed for the world to see:  Independent whoring to support one’s kids = degraded criminality, but whoring for the State Pimp to destroy innocent teenagers = heroic and laudable.

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A man’s jealousy is a social institution; a woman’s prostitution is an instinct.  –  Karl Kraus

What is it about the end of the year and prostitution-related news?  Last year saw an explosion of such stories after mid-November, so that I ended up doing a number of miscellanea columns between then and Christmas; one year ago today “Bits and Pieces (Part One)” appeared, featuring Derrick Burts’ self-outing, a Melissa Petro follow-up, the duplicitous Annie Lobert of “Hookers for Jesus” and an astonishingly ignorant “child sex trafficking” story from NPR.  Well, this year was much the same; I had so many short articles I had to spread them across six different columns!  Don’t worry, I won’t throw them at you all in a row; we’ll start with a two-part update column and a miscellanea column on Sunday, then save the others for the end of next week.

Think of the Children! (September 30th, 2010)

The list of teachers “outed” as porn actors continues to grow; first Tera Myers, then Benedict Garrett, and now Kevin Hogan of Malden, Massachusetts, whose stage name was “Hytch Cawke”.  But if reporter Mike Beaudet of WFXT in Boston imagined he would be hailed as a hero for exposing the dirty porn-making fag lurking in our schools to corrupt innocent children, I’m sure he was unpleasantly surprised.  Oh, he was easily able to find the usual assortment of sheeple to bleat out quotes like “I’m disturbed. I’m surprised…This is scary” and “he’s teaching our children.  Everyday.  It does bother me a lot.”  But take a look at the comments on the story, which are not only overwhelmingly defensive of a person’s right to do (legal) sex work, but also overwhelmingly condemnatory of the TV station and reporter.  Beaudet actually went on the air the next day to defend his actions, probably because there’s a “Support Kevin Hogan, FIRE Mike Beaudet” Facebook page and a Fire Mike Beaudet petition at Change​.org.  I don’t believe for one second that the furor would be this strong if the teacher were a heterosexual woman, or if Hogan had been a gay prostitute rather than a gay porn actor, but any vociferous public support for any flavor of “sex work is work” is a huge step in the right direction.

An Older Profession Than You May Have Thought (October 12th, 2010)

In this post I explained that in some species of cricket, males give females large bags of low-quality food as their payment for sex; I compared them to human clients who pad their pay envelopes with low-denomination bills hidden among the large ones.  Well, this November 13th article from Physorg.com introduces us to the arthropod equivalent of clients who try to cheat hookers with envelopes full of worthless paper strips:

Male nursery web spiders (Pisaura mirabilis) prepare silk-wrapped gifts to give to potential mates.  Most gifts contain insects, but some gifts are inedible plant seeds or empty exoskeletons left after the prey has already been eaten…New research…examines the reproductive success of deceitful males and shows that females are not impressed by worthless gifts.  [In the experiment] male spiders were provided with either a potential gift of a fly, or a worthless item, such as a cotton wool ball, a dry flower head, a prey leftover (previously eaten housefly), or no gift at all.  All the gifts were approximately the same size, so the females would not be able to tell what the gift was without unwrapping it.  Males that offered any gift were more likely to successfully mate than males without.  However the length of time the females allowed males with worthless gifts to spend transferring sperm was shorter than those with edible gifts (and even shorter for those with no gift at all!)  It appears that both male and female spiders are apparently able to assess the value of the gift and modify their behavior accordingly…Maria Albo who led the research explained, “The evolution of male deceit involves a complex equation of costs and benefits.  It costs the males to find and wrap a gift, but these costs can be reduced if the male does not have to first catch his gift, or gives one that has already been eaten.  The benefit of the gift is longer mating, which leads to more sperm being transferred, and potentially a higher number of offspring.  However, the females are wise to deception and terminate mating early for worthless gifts”…

Keep this in mind next time some neofeminist tries to tell you that gender-based human sexual behavior is “socially constructed”.

No Other Option (October 17th, 2010)

Most severely-disabled men and many whose handicap is less severe are completely unable to acquire sex by noncommercial means, so prostitutes are their only recourse.  Neofeminist fanatics declare that sex is not a “need” and that such a transaction still constitutes “male oppression”, but sane, moral, decent people know better and fortunately many whores are happy to help these men experience sex.  A newly-released documentary named Scarlet Road follows an Australian professional who specializes in helping disabled clients:

Australian sex worker Rachel Wotton works with many clients who have disabilities.  Her work has become the subject of the latest documentary from award-winning director Catherine Scott and producer Pat Fiske.  Filmed over a three-year period, Scarlet Road follows Rachel in her relationship with John, diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 26 years ago, and Mark, a client with cerebral palsy.  It reveals the therapeutic aspects of human touch and sexual intimacy.  This unique documentary gives voice to two men generously sharing moments of sexual self-discovery.  “People with disability are not seen as sexual beings and on the other hand sex workers are often portrayed as oversexed, victims or damaged goods.  I really wanted to tackle these stereotypes head on”…Scarlet Road shows Rachel in her daily life and follows her on a journey to the UK, Denmark and Sweden, where she meets with sex workers, people with disabilities and their families, as well as making quite an impression as a speaker at the World Congress for Sexual Health.

Aphrodite bless Rachel and her work; I’ve added a link to her charity, Touching Base, to my “Resources” box at the right.

Interview:  Jill Brenneman (starting February 21st, 2011)

On December 2nd our friend Jill spoke at the Sex Worker Summit in Asheville, North Carolina hosted by the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition and several other organizations (including New Orleans’ own Women With a Vision).  Local newspaper Mountain Xpress covered the event and according to Jill even got it mostly right.  I don’t have a lot of hope for North Carolina becoming a center for sex worker rights in the U.S., but I’d love to be proven wrong!

Validation (May 25th, 2011)

Even when one already knows something, it’s good to get validation from others.  And when one is beset by enemies on all sides, particularly ruthless enemies who are willing not only to lie but to distort or completely fabricate bogus “research” to support their lies, every extra bit of academic research which soundly supports one’s position is another arrow in one’s quiver.”  So I was quite pleased to see this November 11th article on the Migrants’ Rights Network; we’ve seen this study before in my November 15th column, but this article mentions a different aspect:

A new study on migration and trafficking in the UK sex industry has challenged the idea that trafficking is the main factor in trapping people in exploitative and abusive employment.  Based on a survey of 100 people of migrant background involved in the industry, [Dr Nick Mai of the Institute for the Study of European Transformations (ISET)] has found that a majority of them had not been forced or trafficked into the profession…[and that] difficulties in exercising rights…were more likely to come from the issue of official immigration status than from forced labour.  Many of the workers had entered the industry because the alternative employment available to them was likely to be more exploitative and unrewarding than sex work.  They also felt that the stigmatisation of the profession had a negative impact on their personal lives…[and that] criminalisation of clients…[would] not reduce demand or exploitation but [would] mean more insecurity for migrants working in the industry.  The report argues that better strategies to combat negative aspects of the industry would…[include allowing] migrants to become and remain legally documented…[allowing] the industry [to] operate legally…[and providing] victims of trafficking the right to remain in the country and the long-term support needed for integration.

This information needs to be pounded directly into the skull of every career politician and cop in the United Kingdom, United States and every other country which uses “human trafficking” as an excuse to persecute whores and/or our clients and partners.

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This is the second part of the collected questions and answers from the commentary threads on the Jill Brenneman interview columns which appeared in this blog last month.  I’ve arranged the questions into logical order, editing as explained yesterday.

Asehpe:  How do you manage to do sex work despite your scars?  This must take a lot of self-control and self-discipline.  I wonder if this doesn’t cause misunderstandings with your clients, who probably expect girls that at least look enthusiastic.

Jill: I’m a sex worker because I need the money and at present lack other opportunities.  I’m amazed that I have repeat clients; whatever success I have probably still comes from the training from the era with Bruce.  Some clients have left the date very unhappy with zero feeling on my end.  I got lax with self discipline and self control with the Federal Air Marshall.  I let my years as an activist, and my years of harm reduction training and crisis counseling give me a false sense of my own safety.  He wasn’t happy with the results, wanted what he didn’t want to pay for, he also wanted more enthusiasm than I was giving.  He insulted me and I reacted with a smart-ass comment…he had me down, handcuffed with a trash bag over my head and then restarted the negotiation.  He could get everything he wanted at no additional charge including enthusiasm and I could get to breathe and take no more blows that worsened the concussion he had given me…The only person I can truly blame is myself.  I knew better than to get cocky and aggressive…with a client and let my ego get in the way of doing the job safely.  Since then I have been much more careful.

It’s hard to have gone back to sex work.  While I totally respect that many of my colleagues enjoy the work, take pride in what they do and do it well, I’m not in that space with sex work.  I’m haunted by the violence, not sexually attracted to men and offer the clients more of what they want physically but very little emotionally.  I am able to recognize the difference between the past as a runaway teen and now as an adult consenting sex worker, and despite what the antis say, there is a huge difference.  In some ways, I feel better about my activism now that I have returned to sex work because of a sense that I am with my colleagues doing sex work and activism rather than just being an activist.  But from a client’s perspective, I admittedly suck.

Asehpe:  Where do you see yourself going in the future?  Do you have plans for the rest of your life, or are you just living each day as it comes?  Are you going to continue being active in the pro-prostitution/harm reduction movement?

Jill: I don’t have plans for the future.  I never have; I never felt safe making them.  Life can quickly take away what it has given.  I try to focus on remembering the gifts…of love and friendship in each current day.  I would like to be a flight attendant again.  I miss that, but who knows?  I’ve found it just isn’t wise to make plans for the future as they seldom work out.  I’d rather focus on what I have today then even ponder the future.  Yes, I will remain a sex worker rights/harm reduction activist.  It’s a passion for me; I suffered some horrendous things, [but] some really awesome people taught me that I could be loved, could give love and could make a conscious choice.  I could let the horror of my past make me into a monster, I could do nothing, or I could use it to understand oppression, to understand violence, to hate to see others suffer and try to make a difference for them when they are not able to do it for themselves.

In retrospect, even if I knew what I was facing with Bruce before I got into the car with him but knew what I could learn from that, and that it could…[make] the difference whether I grew up to be shallow and empty or to have humanity and to be able to rely on my own sense of right and wrong…I would still get in his car.  I would not be who I am today had I not…I will always do the activism because I have something to give as a result of my past.  Something that perhaps is a bit different than others, something that may bring constructive social change to someone.

Amanda:  [To Asehpe and other readers] I would like to clarify one thing:  there is no such thing as a “pro-prostitution” movement.  There is a “sex worker rights” movement.  “Pro-prostitution” is a label dreamed up by the antis who like to throw it at sex worker rights advocates.  Fighting for human and civil rights is very different from being “pro” anything.  The antis also like to claim that the vast, worldwide “pro-prostitution lobby” is funded by porn and encourages sex trafficking.  That does not describe the sex worker rights movement at all.

Jill: Amanda, thank you for illustrating the point about “pro-prostitution”.  There is NO “pro-prostitution” as it is represented by the antis.  I don’t know that people without experience from within the anti movement realize the horrible meaning [they] attach to that.  [They] believe that all prostitution is bought and sold rape; what they are saying by calling us “pro-prostitution” is that we are “pro-rape”, that we are deliberately trying to get as many women raped, assaulted and hurt as we can.  They malign the sex worker rights movement and its activists with that terrible term.  I have never met anyone who was “pro-prostitution” as they represent it.  Even many of the staunchest supporters of sex work have suffered rape and violence in their lifetimes and I don’t know anyone in our movement that wants anyone to suffer bought and sold rape.

Thus as Amanda illustrated, it is imperative to remember when describing yourself as “pro-prostitution” the meaning is completely different from how people here understand it and how the antis understand it.

Frank:  Jill, when you were at home, what did you want your parents to do that they weren’t doing, or what did you want them to stop doing?

Jill: It wasn’t so much about what my parents weren’t doing…it was that they never wanted me at all and made no secret of it.  I was malnourished and…froze in the winters for lack of winter clothes.  I was an unwanted child in an era pre-dating Roe V. Wade.  I was born many weeks premature…in an era where premature births almost always ended in death.  There was a lot of sexual abuse from [my mom’s boyfriend], who got extensive access to me with a blind eye from parents.  I wanted that to stop.

I had little choice in…leaving home…quite simply no one wanted me there in the first place.  Even if I had a choice, for me to stay would have meant the sexual abuse…would have had to stop, there would have had to be some concession on the amount of hatred…directed at me, I needed more food, clothes that weren’t falling apart and were warm enough for a very harsh New England winter.  My only support was from a paternal grandmother who died just before I was thrown out.  Without that I had nothing left and it was a matter of time.

Asehpe:  I am…curious about how you feel about your parents and other family members, if you want any contact with them.

Jill: I re-established minimal contact and was present the day my brother’s baby was born.  No one in the family has ever asked what happened to me.  I don’t have much contact with them, they have so little part of my life.

Brandy Devereaux:  What I would like to know is how…the run-in with Bruce could have been avoided.  What I mean is if there had been a youth drop in shelter that you could have gone to, would you have?  If you had been educated to the fact that there are creeps out there like Bruce and the signs to look for to avoid nutcases like that, would you have not gone with him?

Jill: The likelihood is nothing could have been done.  He offered what I needed right then, when I had nothing else.  I knew partially the risks yet went with him anyway.  I can’t say that I would do it differently if the same scenario happened again.  The warning bells of hunger, homelessness and basic needs ring louder than those of potential threats; it was a case of actual threat vs. possible.  The only logical answer was to go with him.  By the time I got to his car and he wanted me blindfolded, nothing had changed.  I still needed what he claimed to offer; I had nothing else.  I knew at the time I was probably going to be raped and hurt; I expected that to be part of the trade-off for food and shelter, [but] I just didn’t know the rest.  I couldn’t have, I’d never even heard of most of the rest.

Asehpe:  I have the impression that your life history makes certain things — intimacy, friendship, trust (especially of men) — much more difficult for you than they would otherwise have to be.  This is a sobering perspective for people who take such things for granted, and gives to your tragedy a depth of dimension that is really very moving.

Jill: I’ve learned over time how to build and maintain strong relationships with female friends which last well as long as sex isn’t involved, [but] my relationships with men are virtually nonexistent; while I recognize there are good men out there and have met some of them, I have virtually no ability to form any kind of trust with them.  The best…I can achieve is seeing that some of my friends are in relationships with good men and being happy about that situation.

Asehpe:  Perhaps if you at some point found a good man who needs your help, who was equally scarred by life… this might allow you to develop a relationship.  Nothing makes us feel more like we’re healing than helping others heal.  Cleaning other people’s wounds has a soothing effect on our own.

Jill: I agree with you that helping others is cathartic.  I’m empathetic by nature anyway, but found reward in being a crisis counselor in Minnesota, by being a non judgmental friend…helping others clean their souls has helped me a great deal…I’ve been fortunate to have made some really wonderful friends over the years that I have been able to learn from and regain my humanity.  I would like to believe and hope that I have been able to give back more than I have taken from the world…I wasn’t a particularly quality human being for years after I got away from Bruce.  I’ve been very fortunate in having had the opportunity to learn from mistakes and be able to make amends to the people I hurt and prove I could learn humanity.

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After the Jill Brenneman interview columns of February 21st24th, a number of readers had questions which Jill graciously answered in the commentary.  But since these were spread chaotically across four days, she asked if they could be gathered together and I thought that was a good idea.  I’ve placed the questions and answers in what I feel to be a logical order, editing them for length and punctuation; I’ve also changed the pronouns where needed so the questions are addressed directly to Jill.  In a few places I’ve moved sentences for clarity, but the only added words are in brackets.  I expect that these two columns will generate still more questions, but please wait until you’ve read tomorrow’s so as to avoid redundancy.

Kaiju0:  I am left feeling very confused about how men like this can exist.  It is almost unbelievable to me…I have such a difficult time imagining myself or men I know DOING these things to a woman, let alone a teenaged girl.  And I know they may have been deceived by Bruce regarding your age and…willingness to participate, but at some level they HAD to question it.  They had to know something was wrong.

Jill: There were times when both men and women involved questioned what was happening.  But I was presented as…his willing 19-year-old girlfriend, who was a Goth sub.  We role-played this until I could handle questions about it without much thought and…he could depend on my answers supporting him.  Bruce was very proud of the cover story of meeting a confident…women’s studies student and teaching her “her place”.  I upheld the cover story; to do otherwise was a brutal experience afterward, and there were times that he felt I wasn’t convincing enough.  He was very proud of what he could do to me, what I would let him do, that he could pass me around to his friends and mostly that he had taken me from college student to slave.  Of course, I was never a college student but that was immaterial.

Sometimes [people] probably could tell something wasn’t right…More than once some of the men told him to slow things down because they saw he was hurting me a lot and/or saw that he was so aggressive he was risking killing me.  Although, I don’t know that they cared about me as much as they were afraid…he would…make them witnesses.  But it is important to understand, I played my role, promising it was ok to keep going, telling people I was ok when I wasn’t, ensuring everyone was aware this was my choice even though it wasn’t.  I fought very hard to overcome their objections because to do otherwise was viewed as betrayal.

Asehpe: Did you ever find out what Bruce’s ultimate fate was…or has it become immaterial to you?  With experiences such as yours, one would imagine that sooner or later a desire for revenge, or at least justice, would appear.  Do you feel a need for something to give it closure?

Jill: Bruce’s current status is immaterial to me, other than I hope he hasn’t harmed anyone else…I don’t want revenge.  It wouldn’t give me anything [and] I’m afraid of him anyway [so] the point is moot…He is a large man.  There is no physical punishment I could or would want to give to him to equal what he did to me as a teenage girl.  They simply aren’t parallel.  My only wish is that he not be able to harm anyone else.

There won’t ever be closure; the closest I can come is speaking about what happened to try to protect others.  I don’t believe it’s possible to achieve closure with something this devastating…The best revenge would be to prevent the suffering of others.  I’d rather have that happen than any harm I could do to him.  The only thing I would like would be answers from him.  Certainly after the escape attempt I had learned the entire scope of his power; I don’t know why he had to continue to the very last day to be as violent and degrading as he was to me.  With the exception of the escape attempt, I did everything he told me to do that was humanly possible.  His rule was that I never speak first, never question anything, [and] I never broke that rule.  Many times he wanted displays of my willingness to die on command; I gave him those over and over whenever he wanted proof that I understood it was his right to demand that for his varying reasons.  I was broken within hours of being in his cellar; he had absolute control.  I would like to ask him why he still hurt me so much.

For the record, I’m not trying to present this as a sub thing; it wasn’t inherently that.  It was simply that he had that much control because I was not able to do what I wanted to do, [which was to] resist him until he did kill me.  The process of being killed was too long and painful…I wasn’t afraid of dying, I was afraid of living.

Maggie: There are a lot of things in sex which are a good fantasy but a terrible reality, and sexual slavery is one.  Though Bruce wanted others to think you were a willing submissive who could stop things if you wanted, that clearly was NOT the case and that makes the two things as different as charity and theft.

Jill: You’re right; I had never considered the idea that Bruce sold the events that happened as something I could stop if I wanted.  I knew he presented them as something I was willing to do, but it never occurred to me he would have also made it appear that I could have stopped it.  People openly commented about my bravery in how far I would go or let them go and about what a great “catch” I was and how truly wonderful it was that he had convinced me to “drop college” for him and [all] that.  But I always thought they knew I had no voice in stopping it.  But you must be right.  It makes far more sense than my thought process.

Kelly James:  You must be angry…at least I know I’m angry..angry like if given the opportunity I don’t think I’d have any problem personally flipping the switch on his electric chair kind of angry.  How do you deal with the anger?

Jill: I never really found the anger.  Bruce’s violence and…that [which] surrounded him through his associates and clients, along with the endless role-plays to make sure I acted the way I was prepared rather than with anything I felt, took an enormous emotional toll.  My assumption is that was Bruce’s plan from the outset.  I was far too scared and far too emotionally and physically wounded to do much other than what kept him from being more violent.  Essentially fear was overwhelming of any other emotion.  Freedom never really changed that; while the fear went down over time, I have never really had much anger.  Even to this day, therapists and psychiatrists have tried to get me to access my anger to break the cycle of depression and PTSD.  I just haven’t ever really found it.  Ultimately I probably bought his point that it was destiny and have yet to find a way to move beyond that.

Kelly James:  I understand….almost kinda thought you’d say that.  I’m sure as hell angry that happened to you and I bet if I told you that what happened to you happened to me, you’d be really angry…It was random chance that…you met Bruce – not your destiny.  It could have happened to any one of us…and it’s okay to be angry at the monster who perpetrated it.

Jill: You are entirely correct:  If you told me what happened to me, happened to you, I would be really angry.  While I’m never a good advocate for myself, I am always a really good advocate for others because then I can find the anger…As bad…as it is that I happened to be the one who ran into him, I honestly feel better with the concept that it was me than anyone else…There was another girl who was involved for a short time; the day she was no longer there was the same day we left for Los Angeles.  I don’t know what happened to her; I’ve always hoped that she simply escaped.  I can’t accuse him of anything other than making her suffer while she was there like he did me because I don’t know.

Kelly James:  Perhaps some self-defense/martial arts classes would give you a way to physically express anger and help you get over your fear.

Jill: You know, I’ve got 2 years of self-defense training.  As a flight attendant after 9/11, I found a serious need for it in order to feel safe working flights every day.  Although he is such a large man, I’m not sure even what I know and have practiced over and over in…class could overcome the size difference.  My fear of him is more about what lengths he would go to in order to get vengeance for me escaping.  I’ve always feared his return in my life would come at a time I was with a friend and a lot of thought has gone into how to deal with that so that at least the other person had the ability to get away from him.  I would hope self-defense would at least buy some time.

Lindsey:  I cannot even imagine what you’ve gone through and I don’t think that I could be that strong.  I found your insights into the anti-prostitution movement to be very enlightening because I was never fully aware of the intricacies…This interview brought so much depth to why criminalizing prostitution is a bad thing for everyone…I think the most discomforting part for me was not the graphic details of abuse…but rather the way the anti-prostitution activists pushed aside the sex workers as if their opinions didn’t matter.

Jill: Thank you for the kudos but they are unnecessary.  I speak out about the past in hopes of preventing a similar future for someone else.  IMO, that doesn’t make me deserving of honor or…reward, it just makes me human and means that I learned something from the violence that I was able to apply to myself to be more of a human being than I would have been otherwise.  In some ways it is much better that I experienced what I did; it gave me an understanding of myself that made me stronger and more empathetic.

Sailor Barsoom:  So you were speaking out against prostitution…and they still thought you were some evil infiltrator?  (The CIA?)

Jill: They still believed I was CIA or “a pro-prostitution” mole…I wasn’t dogmatic enough, didn’t know who the famous people in feminism were and didn’t care.  I was never meant to be an anti.  I wasn’t a good fit…despite my history.  Had I run into the sex worker rights movement first I would have started there anyway; the fit was much better, plus I’ve been free in the movement to be true to myself.  I wish I were a CIA mole infiltrating radical feminism; it would be a safe gig with good pay and really good insurance.

To be concluded tomorrow.

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I was…trying to create a voice for women who had actually been in prostitution within a framework that was largely made up of activists who hadn’t and who didn’t particularly want the opinions of those who had. –  Jill Brenneman

This is the conclusion of an interview which started Monday; if you have not read it please go back and read that part first, but be warned that the first two parts are the most graphic, disturbing narrative I have yet published or am likely to publish again, and I must caution sensitive readers to consider carefully before proceeding.  Today’s installment also contains one intense passage, but if you’ve read the others you should be able to handle this one.

Maggie: So due to Christine Stark’s resignation, you found yourself in charge of Escape immediately after you embraced harm reduction; what happened next?

Jill: Less than a month after International Day of No Prostitution, I sent a public press release and also modified the Escape website to advise that we were now modifying the existing operational model and bylaws to make harm reduction a major component in our ideology and services.  Christine resigned entirely from the organization and the radical feminist and anti-trafficking communities were quick and very strong in their condemnation of adding harm reduction.  They demanded my termination or resignation and there was an abundance of criticism, hate mail, a death threat and efforts to get me dropped from scheduled speaking events.  I reached out to the sex worker rights movement, and though I expected a very negative response given my activism over the previous 3 years the response I actually got was supportive, warm and open.  That same month Christine and I and another member of Escape fulfilled a contractual obligation to make a presentation in Washington, DC at a Justice Department, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention conference.  When I arrived, the moderators spoke to me about what they had been told about my “conversion to pro-prostitution” and gave me a list of topics and words that were banned; it said “harm reduction” was a banned topic, “sex worker” a banned term.  I still used both in the first breakout session and was advised immediately afterward that my input had been excluded from the record and that my services were not needed for the remainder of the event.  I was fine with that, and I flew back to Minnesota, brought in new members with a harm reduction and/or sex worker rights viewpoint and refused to sign the anti-prostitution oath attached to a $10,000 grant offer (which cost us the grant).  In 2006, what had once been Escape officially became an autonomous chapter of SWOP called SWOP East.

Maggie: What amazes me is how incredibly ignorant the “antis” are, and how much they want to remain ignorant; most activists have been directly affected by whatever it is they’re trying to fight (people who join MADD have usually lost love ones to drunk drivers, etc), but it seems most of these anti-prostitution crusaders don’t have even secondhand knowledge of sex work.  Their opposition appears to be entirely academic and based on fallacies and lies.  Would you say that’s a fair statement?

Jill: I would say it is entirely fair.  For the most part they are ultra second wave feminists who have taken it to an extreme.  It’s like their goal is to impose their ideology onto the world from an angle of a political tyrant.  Dissent is not tolerated.  They are easily threatened by activists with actual experience in the sex industry; they view them as damaged, unreliable and essentially good only for doing the footwork in whatever battle they are wrapped up in.  Donna Hughes used to whine about how taking on the issue of prostitution had so harmed her career and how we, meaning those who had been prostitutes, didn’t appreciate it.  Nikki Craft said she hated prostitutes.  Others said they wished they had been prostitutes because they would have the experience without being fucked up like we were and have their academic credentials for credibility.  Of all the former sex workers I did activism with on the anti side in the late ‘90s, all but one have left or have been driven out of the anti movement.  Most gravitated to sex worker rights or harm reduction or left activism on the issue entirely.

The antis encourage lies, which they call “re-framing experiences”, to make their point.  As difficult and extreme as my experiences were, they wanted me to re-frame them, meaning add things that didn’t happen to make it worse.

Maggie: Eventually, you returned to sex work, but this time as a consenting adult in charge of your own life.  Obviously that happened after you broke with the antis, but what inspired you to go back to a type of work that must’ve had some terrible associations in your mind?

Jill: I returned to sex work in 2009.  Just a month prior, desperate for a job after the flight attendant job ended with the airline going bankrupt, I accepted a position as a valet parking attendant for a local hospital.  It was 3/10 of a mile run for each customer’s car in the parking deck.  At 43 years old, I lasted 9 days running roughly 8 miles a day before seriously injuring both knees on a misstep from a curb to the pavement.  Both knees required surgery and long rehab, and the workers comp carrier paid $106 dollars a week which didn’t even cover the rent.  Needing money and having very limited options I met with a local escort service that agreed to market me as 34 rather than 43 and I started taking outcall clients.  My years of counseling had paid off as had my time in the sex worker rights movement, because I found that I could set boundaries with the clients and that it wasn’t as it had been with Bruce.  I wasn’t a slave this time.  I couldn’t care less how the clients felt.  The deal usually was one climax or one hour, with very few exceptions; I found that I had no stomach for the longer sessions that some wanted even though it was more money.  Sometimes I had to catch myself as falling into the slave mode still wasn’t that far a jump from the present moment.  But it worked, although I often felt dejected that I was a prostitute in my 40’s.  Somehow I’d envisioned a different picture for my 40’s.

The true challenge came in July of last year when I was violently raped and assaulted by a client whose full time job was as a Federal Air Marshal.  Being handcuffed again, having someone hold a trashbag over my head until I stopped resisting and being forced to swallow the used condom as his point to fully ensure that I understood that he was alpha.  The rape set me reeling emotionally, and the past flooded back.  A few days later I flew to Vegas for the Desiree Alliance Convention but was non-participating; I was emotionally lost and mentally affected by the concussion he had inflicted.  Rather than attend breakout sessions or speeches by my friends and colleagues, I was lost in flashbacks and had difficulty determining reality and separating the present from the past.  I became suicidal and spent time getting prescription meds from my psychiatrist faxed to a pharmacy in Vegas.  I think a close friend that I was sharing a room with realized how far over the edge I was because despite my protestations they wouldn’t let me be alone.

Maggie: From your writings I can see that by September at least that depression had turned into anger.

Jill: After I physically recovered I felt a strong sense of rage.  It fully struck me when the escort service called me and asked me if I would consider a date with the air marshal again even though I had told them what he did.  They said he praised me and offered more money to have me again.  I was powerless to do anything to him because he was law enforcement, I am a prostitute and as such, I likely would be the criminal to the police.  I had no evidence because he made me swallow the condom.  But ultimately my anger is at abolitionists who fight so hard to keep prostitution criminalized.  Criminalization denied me any hope of justice and protected a rapist from prosecution just as it had when I was a runaway teen.  Their criminalization efforts and their faux rescue ideology are as much to blame for the rape as the rapist himself; criminalization gave him a blank check to do what he wanted to.  It reminded me just how easy it was for a client to reset the clock and turn me back into a slave captive to his violence, with the alleged rescue/feminist abolitionist movement cheering the whole process as saving innocents.  All of us doing sex work remain in danger because of criminalization and because of the “work” of the abolitionist movement.  I realized on the flight back from Vegas how easily anyone at the convention, any one of my sex worker friends and allies, could be quickly reduced to where I had been without recourse, with no legal protection and with an alleged anti-trafficking movement helping enforce the victimization.

While I’m still doing sex work because I need the money and lack other options, my sense of safety is compromised.  I’m haunted by the fact that it happened before and can easily happen again.  I realize how close I still am to being the devastated teenager lying on a cold cement floor unable to move from the pain of violent rapes and physical and sexual assaults, yet chained to that floor for the visual stimulation of a predator.  I feel like those same chains are still there, they still rattle, only now they are invisible, they are instead criminalization.  That criminalization is advanced by academic activists who have never been on that floor and are doing their “work” not because they care about saving anyone but because it advances their careers and gives them an ideology in which they can claim moral superiority and starve their “enemies” of human rights…enemies who are sex workers trying to make a living.

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More harm emotionally was done to me by rad fem activists than any pimp. –  Jill Brenneman

This is a continuation of an interview which started Monday; if you have not read it please go back and read that part first, but be warned that the first two parts are the most graphic, disturbing narrative I have yet published or am likely to publish again, and I must caution sensitive readers to consider carefully before proceeding.  Today’s installment begins after Jill escaped her pimp through serendipity and took the cheapest flight she could find, to Las Vegas.

Maggie: So, after finding yourself suddenly free, what next?  Did you get a regular job, seek out help from a charity, or what?

Jill: When I got to Vegas, I found a fleabag hotel to stay in, and after faking a diploma through some creative cut and paste I got a job at Denny’s as a waitress.  Eventually, I started cocktail waitressing at Rio and made much better money and was able to get a car and an apartment.  Both jobs thought I was a really good employee; I did what I was told, worked really hard, never questioned anything.  I tended to approach jobs as I had been taught by Bruce:  Shut up, do what I was told, do it fast, without question etc.  So ultimately what broke me is partially what saved me. It took years to regain the fire in my personality, but eventually I got my GED and then a job as a flight attendant with Southwest, which worked really well to ease my paranoia because every day I was someplace different.  As a flight attendant for the first couple of years you don’t ever really know where you will be going from day to day, so neither would anyone else.  My efforts at dating were terrible; I couldn’t trust men or get by my fear of them, so I tended to make every guy I dated into a bad guy even if he wasn’t.  In 1996 I entered a program called Council for Prostitution Alternatives in Portland and had a really awesome counselor and finally started talking about what had happened.  Even though Council for Prostitution Alternatives ceased operations, I continued counseling steadily and am still doing it as there are still issues to work on, plus I need the meds for depression and PTSD.

Maggie: So between 1984 and 1996 you just tried to deal with your trauma alone?

Jill: Except for 3 counseling sessions after a 1994 suicide attempt, yes I tried to deal with it entirely alone.  For years I was truly terrified of Bruce finding me, to the point that I had contingency plans for someone to take my dog if I disappeared for more than 2 days without notice.  For a long time I really expected that his finding me was destiny and essentially thought of how I would surrender if he did.  So much of me for so many years partially believed that I was wrong to have escaped and that I should have stayed, waited for him to come back or tried to bail him out.  I know it sounds fucked up but I really struggled with whether I should have escaped and whether I brought bad karmic destiny on myself for doing it.  I didn’t tell anybody any of this until 1996 when I opened up to a friend in Portland.  Initially it had started as an interview as she was doing a website for a runaway teen shelter and had seen my posts on AOL challenging some asshole who said that all runaway teens were just spoiled brats that didn’t want to take direction and just wanted drugs.  I unloaded on him on that message board.  She read it, contacted me and asked if I would agree to an interview.  I found that she and I were similar emotionally and then had an even bigger shock that we had some similar experiences although hers were as an adult and related to a former boyfriend.  I finally made the breakthrough of realizing someone else had been broken as easily as I had, which ultimately was also really painful because it hurt me that someone as kind and empathetic and really cool had to suffer that.  She was far more advanced on the internet that I was so she searched the country for prostitution based programs and contacted one in Washington, DC called HIPS, which ironically directed her back to Portland and the Council for Prostitution Alternatives as HIPS felt I was going to need extensive counseling and CPA was highly regarded for their counseling program.

Maggie: Your mixed feelings don’t sound fucked up to me; his conditioning of you was extremely thorough and effective and your mind adapted as it had to in order to stay intact.  I’m astonished that you survived as long as you did without any outside help!

Jill: I survived as long as I did because it is hard to die.  I developed a reputation for my fearlessness and bravado for many years, but it wasn’t fearlessness or bravado, it was a death wish.

Maggie: But eventually you were drawn into the prohibitionist movement; did you first get involved with them through the Council for Prostitution Alternatives?

Melissa Farley, who says women are too stupid to decide for ourselves what we’re allowed to do with our own bodies.

Jill:  I was peripherally involved in the anti prostitution movement from 1997 to 1998 largely via posts on listservs, including the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW).  I wasn’t really doing much activism, more trying to create a voice for women who had actually been in prostitution within a framework that was largely made up of activists who hadn’t and who didn’t particularly want the opinions of those who had.  I had already run into steep conflicts with Nikki Craft and Melissa Farley; both felt I was an infiltrator from the “pro prostitution” movement or the CIA.  On CATW I and others wrote about our experiences in prostitution, and we tended to argue with Donna Hughes and the other academic members of CATW about their inaccurate and demeaning perceptions of prostitutes.  So CATW made a decision that those of us who had been in prostitution would be removed from the listserv and put on one specifically for us; their feeling was that an international listserv on trafficking wasn’t the place for survivors to discuss our experiences.  I balked very strongly at this; I felt CATW and specifically Donna Hughes were a farce not interested in trafficking or prostitution but only in advancing their careers, and I went public with it.

In late 1998, I accepted a position on the advisory board of the Women’s Recovery Center for Prostitution Resources in St. Paul, which was an exit program for those who wanted to leave the sex industry.  Then in 2001 I was invited to join Escape: The Prostitution Prevention Project, which was based in the Twin Cities.  In April 2001, I did my first speaking presentation, and this led to many other speaking events as Escape had become well known.  My role was largely to speak about my past; my colleague Christine Stark (who founded the organization) did the feminist/political side of the presentation.  Christine was very staunchly anti-prostitution using a very Andrea Dworkin-based approach.  In 2002, Christine and a collective of feminist activists in San Francisco created a protest called “International Day of No Prostitution”.  When Chris initially explained the concept to me I understood it to be a symbolic day to create awareness of violence in prostitution and a call to prostitution clients to end violence against prostitutes.  I had no further input into the event and it became an outlandish protest that went worldwide.  I felt it was academic and out of touch, and went to extremes like calling for the rescue of animals from “systems of prostitution”.

Escape got a lot of criticism from sex workers about the event, and I was chosen to respond to them but I heard what they were saying and it made sense to me.  Rather than challenge their views as I was expected to do, I heard their point and made no response.  At the height of the protest against International Day of No Prostitution, Christine Stark abruptly resigned as Executive Director of Escape, which left me in charge.  At the same time, the Sexual Violence Center in Minneapolis was seeking to expand its harm reduction-based services to offer them to prostitutes in need, so we agreed on a trade.  Escape had no office, just a phone and a fax; Sexual Violence Center would give Escape office space at their facility, access to a 24 hour crisis line run by Sexual Violence Center, legal advocacy for sex workers and a no-cost harm reduction-based counseling program for sex workers.  In return I gave my knowledge because no one on their staff had direct involvement in prostitution and they felt they weren’t qualified and thus reached out to me to fill that role.  As part of that process I went through their crisis counselor certification class (which was 40 hours of training) and became a certified crisis counselor in Minnesota.

To be concluded tomorrow.

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The only sense from me that seemed to interest him was pain. –  Jill Brenneman

This is a continuation of an interview which started yesterday; if you have not read it please go back and read that part first.  As I said yesterday, the first two parts are the most graphic, disturbing narrative I have yet published or am likely to publish again, and I must caution sensitive readers to consider carefully before proceeding.

Maggie: So were the clients just as bad as he was?

Jill: The clients tended to be less violent or sadistic than he was.  There were a variety of fetishes, of roleplays involving rape, torture, sometimes faking death.  Sometimes he gave me stims because after multiple clients in a day I often was in a daze and was struggling to remain attached to the present and coherent.  Eventually I started doing some outcall work, even occasional streetwalking on really cold nights ostensibly to remind me of where I would be without him.

Maggie: How did that “loyalty test” you spoke of earlier happen?  Was it a kind of trick to make you paranoid of anyone who offered to help?

Jill: One night I was brought to a client named Brian by one of Bruce’s friends, a guy named Chuck.  Brian invited me in, told me he just wanted to talk.  I mostly listened as he talked about wanting to understand what makes a girl do what I’m doing, then he asked me a question.  He said he knew who Bruce was, that he was a terrible man who was obviously hurting me.  He could see the bruises on my wrists and ankles, he saw some of the scars.  He told me, if I agreed, he would hire me again the next night and help me get away from Bruce.  I didn’t agree at the outset but he sold me on it and I agreed.

The next night I was dropped off at Brian’s house as promised.  Brian invited me in, this time inviting me upstairs to the living room; when I got there I saw Bruce, Chuck and some other men there.  Bruce said to me “you know what you’ve done, don’t you”.  I agreed that I did know.  He told me to strip, to get on my knees.  He threw a dog collar at me and told me to put it on so tight I couldn’t breathe.  I came as close to that as the collar would go, then he handcuffed me and left me kneeling for a long time while the guys talked about my betrayal, about how I was going to spend my last few hours alive.  They took me to Brian’s dungeon and every man got to do everything he wanted to.  For a while I was gagged because apparently they were realistic in realizing it was impossible to not scream.  Midway through the night Bruce took me to the bathroom, told me to get in the bath tub, that they’d had it with my bullshit.  He reminded me of the contract, that I was his slave and that I had to do whatever I was told.  He took the handcuffs off, then put a gun in my mouth and told me to grab it and pull the trigger.  The guys were impressed that I didn’t hesitate and didn’t try to turn it on one of them.  When I pulled the trigger nothing happened and the gun was taken away.  By then I was crying, but not for the reason they thought; I was crying because there wasn’t a bullet.  It wasn’t death that scared me, it was living through more.

The night was hours more torture which included hanging me by my neck, which damaged my larynx to an extent that is still obvious today.  It never fully healed correctly.  When the night was finally over I was left in the bathroom chained to the sink.  Everything hurt to such an extent it was virtually impossible to move.  I knew I was bleeding from either my vagina or rectum or both but didn’t care and couldn’t move enough to look.  They left me there for a couple of days, aside from kicking at me to see if I’d move or taunting me with water to drink…I didn’t work again for over a week until enough of the bruises had disappeared.

Maggie: So obviously, Bruce was a sexual sadist of an extreme kind; it seems that torturing and breaking you was really his primary motivation, and the money was only secondary.

Jill: Yes, I agree with that.  I don’t know that specifically as he never said it straight out.  And clearly money was important and I was bringing him a lot of it.  I was very young and clients could essentially do almost anything they wanted to with me and I would do almost anything the client wanted.  I didn’t have any say in the matter.  I believe Bruce found a way to make a great deal of money and indulge his motivation.  I think his sadism went to such an extreme that it kept getting harder and harder for him to be fulfilled.  He talked often about how hot he felt it was when I got a certain look in my eyes.  It’s hard to describe this in writing.  The look was essentially that I wasn’t there anymore emotionally.  That he had caused so much pain and so much degradation that it didn’t matter who did what anymore.  He took great pride in demonstrating to his friends and other men what he could do to me, how easily he could make me say anything he wanted.  Our cover story, that he came up with, was that I was a college freshman that was studying “women’s lib” until I had met him.  Now I was his slave and he was proud to demonstrate that to other men.

Maggie: Since you were so totally broken, how in the world did you ever get away from him?

Jill: All the violence, degradation and shame had left me totally compliant.  I also knew I had no place to go if I did get away; I had no one to call and I was terrified of the police as I had some awful cop clients.  So I finally only escaped his control through a fluke.  One day just a little before my 18th birthday I was locked in the closet like usual, naked, handcuffed.  I heard a ruckus, heard Bruce explaining to somebody that his girlfriend who was Goth and into BDSM and fantasy was in the closet, heard him showing my fake ID that said I was 19.  Then some cops opened the closet; they took off the blindfold and handcuffs, and told me to go put some clothes on then they would speak to me.  I actually asked Bruce what he wanted me to put on, but they told me not to worry about that, just get dressed.  I came back down stairs and they asked me what I was doing in the closet like that.  I stuck to the story that I was 19 and it was just a bondage fantasy with my boyfriend.  They explained to me that my boyfriend was being arrested on an outstanding warrant.  I asked weakly for a female officer.  They told me if I wanted to speak to a female officer there were plenty of them down at the station and asked if it was worth it to me to get arrested also just to talk to a female officer.  I realized then that the cops thought I was going to try to defend him; I don’t know what I was going to do, but I backed off on the request.  They explained the process for me to bail him out and took him.  I was terrified and had no idea whether this was real or just another loyalty test.  So I went back in the closet and waited a long time.  Still nothing.  I had reached a point where I really had to pee.  I wasn’t allowed to go to the bathroom at will, only when I was told to, and Bruce checked the toilet often to see if it was wet so I didn’t dare to use the toilet.  So I went outside, then realized I had locked myself out of the house.  I could only get into the garage, so I sat with the dog for a few minutes.  The dog, Rocky, was a pit bull and would likely have attacked anyone but Bruce and I, so Bruce kept some money hidden in the garage.  So I took the hidden money and fled out of fear Bruce would come back at any point; I let Rocky go out of the garage so he could find food and water in case Bruce really was arrested. I got a cab to Burbank Airport (by this time we had relocated to LA and were living in Pasadena), then went to the ticket counter and got a $29 one-way ticket to Vegas that departed in 40 minutes.  Literally 1.5 hours later, I was in another state and suddenly free, but I was terrified that Bruce was going to find me and much of me felt worse for escaping.  Now I had to watch over my shoulder and I had very little money, no idea where to go or how to rebuild my life and myself.

That is my escape.  No dramatic rescue.  No rescuing exit organization.   I got away for no other reason than I had to pee and didn’t think to leave the door unlocked to get back in.

Maggie: It’s almost impossible to imagine a person being that broken and yet eventually recovering, but you did it and I can’t even begin to tell you how much that impresses me.  I’m a strong person, but compared to you I’m a spoiled whiny-baby.

Jill: Eventually I came back from it.  I learned from it.  In some ways I don’t regret it because over time I learned about oppression, about understanding the suffering of other people.  I grew up in a very conservative family until they threw me out at 14.  I wouldn’t likely have learned about tolerance, about empathy, about diversity without the experiences I went through.

To be continued…

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All of us doing sex work remain in danger because of criminalization and because of the “work” of the abolitionist movement. –  Jill Brenneman

Regular readers have seen me refer to Jill Brenneman on several occasions before, and she commented extensively on my February 7th column as I had hoped she might.  You see, Jill is what many prohibitionists like to claim we all are:  a woman who was forced into prostitution in her teens by a brutal pimp.  But though she participated in the prohibitionist movement herself for several years (and really, who could blame her?) she was open-minded enough to see the truth and reason in the arguments for decriminalization and intellectually honest enough to be repulsed by the lies and misrepresentation rampant among the prohibitionists.  She thus became an outspoken advocate for sex worker rights, and her unique perspective makes her the one person whose opinion on the “sex trafficking” issue I most respect.  After the aforementioned column appeared Amanda Brooks suggested I interview Jill, and I thought that was a fantastic idea so I contacted her and she generously agreed.  The interview was conducted mostly via email on February 11th-13th and completed by telephone on the 13th, and though Jill suggested I edit it down I have done this as little as possible because I wanted her to be free to tell her story in her own words.  At first I was hesitant to ask direct questions, but she assured me that nothing I asked would faze her and that was absolutely true.

Jill is the same age as I am, 44, and has a rather raspy voice due to the throat injury she mentions in tomorrow’s portion of the interview.  Her parents threw her out of her New England home in May of 1981 after she told a school counselor she had been sexually abused, and over the next couple of months she hitchhiked her way to Cincinnati.  It was there on July 3rd that she had her ill-fated meeting with the freak who did his level best to destroy her, the sadistic pimp named Bruce.  The next four days will not be enjoyable reading; the first two parts are the most graphic, disturbing narrative I have yet published or am likely to publish again, and I must caution sensitive readers to consider carefully before proceeding.  The interview is quite long, but Jill and I both feel that it’s important to show the ugly side of the world of prostitution as well as its attractive side; our opponents are liars, but we are not.  If we hide facts which might make us look bad we are no better than the prohibitionists, and the suppressed information would then become a weapon in their hands.  The truth shines light into dark places inhabited by filth like Bruce; and Jill understands, as we hope most people will one day, that only decriminalization will grant free whores the power to help the law to uncover these monsters and liberate the girls they victimize.

Maggie: Would you explain, in as much or little detail as you feel comfortable with, how you became entrapped by a pimp?

Jill: It was a rainy day, I was hiding from the rain.  I was homeless, hungry, dirty, totally alone.  This really attractive man came up to the table, bought me lunch, told me about his entertainment agency, about his skyscraper headquarters, how he only hired the most beautiful women in the world.  I told him I looked awful, he said he could see me through the runaway teen veneer.  Which got me to open up to him why I ran away, that I had no one to call because it was more a throwaway than a runaway situation.  He offered me an audition at his headquarters.  I asked him if it was prostitution, he got pissed and walked away saying I wasn’t professional like he had believed because it was a really stupid question.  I caught up to him, begged him for another chance.  He agreed on the condition that I didn’t ask any more questions.  We got to his car, he was the total gentleman opening the door for me, etc.  When I got in the car he told me that because his agency was so popular and famous there were always corporate spies trying to get in thus I would have to be blindfolded.  The idea scared me but I was fourteen, with no other options other than to go back inside the mall or sit outside in the rain.  So I agreed.  He gave me a hat and sunglasses to cover the blindfold.  As we were driving I could hear the road sounds weren’t matching his narrative of the drive.  He was describing driving into a major city, the sounds all sounded like we had gone to a more rural area.  Which we had, we went to northern Kentucky.  When we finally stopped, I heard him click a garage door opener.  He explained it was to get into the parking deck.  We got out and he explained how we were going to go downstairs to his office.  I could hear the garage door closing, could smell the basement.  I knew it was all wrong and started to shake and cry.  He saw the tears coming out from beneath the blindfold and he went nuts shouting professionals don’t cry unless they don’t get the gig.  I still had a chance but was going to have to strip to my underwear and do bikini pics.  I hesitated for a second and he leveled me with a slap in the face.  I was shocked at how hard he had hit me.  He told me to get the fuck up and strip like he told me to, then he brought me up some stairs onto a stage of sorts and told me to put my hands over my head.  He put them in some kind of leather straps and dropped the floor out from under me.  He let me hang for a while, probably 10 minutes or so.  It really hurt a lot to hang like that.  He told me I could have the job or I could hang there until I died and he would dump me in the river.  Who was going to care if they found me?  No one was even looking.  I agreed without hesitation.  He whipped me a lot of times, he shoved things inside me then let me down and raped me.  He gave me a contract to sign which said that I was his slave, that I would do anything he said, would never break the contract, never try to gain freedom.   I didn’t read it that closely as he told me to sign and I signed.  He brought me to a closet, handcuffed me, blindfolded me and told me not to make a sound and not to move and that he would be back later to start my training and that if I went to the bathroom in the closet I would pay a huge price.

Maggie: What a horrible, horrible thing; obviously you were intelligent enough to know from the beginning that something was wrong, but the voices of hunger and desperation drowned out those of intuition and reason.

Jill: I knew the whole situation was wrong as soon as he said I had to be blindfolded.  But I wanted to work, wanted a place to sleep at night, a place to take a shower, food etc.  I was sleeping in cemeteries.  So I was really desperate when I got into the car with him.

Maggie: Was his treatment of you consistently horrible or did he mess with your head even more by rewarding you when you were “good”?

Jill: Constantly horrible.  There weren’t any times where he did the mindfuck thing of telling me I had done something good or that anything deserved a reward.  If anything I think he was repulsed by the idea of any kind of reward for me.  My sole purpose was to be hurt physically, sexually and emotionally, often to the farthest lengths possible either to fulfill his need for sadism or to bring in more money from clients.  He owned me, I was a slave, that was reinforced every day.  The only sense from me that seemed to interest him was pain.

The only affection scenarios I ever saw from him were when we role-played that we were boyfriend/girlfriend in case the police started asking questions, or if I was in the ER things like that where we had to pretend to be a couple.  We role-played those until they were second nature.  I never tried to escape even when I had plenty of opportunity, like when he would take me to the mall to get clothes, shoes, get my hair colored.  I tried to escape once and it was a loyalty test to see if I would.  Needless to say it was really bad, so bad that I was totally unwilling to do anything to risk the amount of pain of the escape night ever again.  My thoughts weren’t ever about trying to escape again but often were on why he wouldn’t just kill me and that I was a coward for not being able to endure the pain of the process I would have to live through before he finally did end my life.

Maggie: If he didn’t ever use reward, the punishment he subjected you to must’ve been horrific to break you down so much you didn’t even try to escape.

Jill: After the first 2 or so days in the closet, Bruce abruptly pulled me out, told me we were going to start my training.  He took me to another room which was his dungeon.  I couldn’t even conceptualize what most of the equipment was.  I hadn’t ever seen anything like it.  He laid out the first rule:  If I screamed even once no matter how much it hurt and made it possible for anyone to hear me, that he would throw me in the Ohio River as promised.  He also told me not to try to tell him to stop, not to beg him to stop, no matter how much it hurt because I had no right to speak first and beyond that my only role in life was to please him and the clients.  How I felt had no relevance and eventually he would train me on the right time to beg and the right methods so that it was sexy for the client.  Right now we were just going to learn what everything was.  He had equipment for suspension bondage, for water bondage, for asphyxiation.  There were huge dildos.  It became such a blur of torture that the daily rapes became largely a non-issue to me.  The sex was the least of my traumas.  His favorite was like a crucifix but lying flat rather than standing upright.  The idea was to bind my hands and feet then use some kind of winch to pull it so tight I could actually feel the cartilage between my ribs.  With his weight on top of me I literally couldn’t breathe, which got him off in a minute every time.  We spent weeks training until he felt I was finally ready to take clients.

To be continued…

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