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Posts Tagged ‘left-right myth’

Let us not treat prohibitionists as misguided people who care, any more than we should waste breath over whether it is right or wrong to lynch black people or gas Jews.  –  Jerry Barnett

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

I hope they keep feeding on each other:

A [New Jersey cop] who claimed he was retaliated against after [ratting out] a former public safety director [who] sought prostitutes has been promoted and awarded $80,000.  Frederick Walz was promoted from sergeant to lieutenant, retroactive to Jan. 1, 2015…Walz also got wages equal to a year’s difference in salary between the sergeant and lieutenant positions, a year of pension payments retroactive to his promotion, and $80,000 in compensatory damages and attorney’s fees…

Backwards into the Future

Yes, Zimbabwe is actually ahead of the US in this area of human rights:

Sex workers in Zimbabwe have welcomed the recent court ruling that outlaws police arrest on charges of “loitering for the purposes of prostitution”…The ruling builds on another Constitutional court ruling last year that ruled against the arrest of women on allegations of soliciting for sex in the streets…

Rooted in Racism

ICYMI:  a tiny minority of French politicians managed to impose the Swedish model last week:

…it takes a truly Orwellian mindset to believe that one can outlaw the buying of a service without hurting those who sell it.  This is, of course, designed to hurt sex workers.  The bigotry of the anti-prostitution movement is there for all to see…It is well known that criminalising any aspect of the trade clearly harms sex workers…unlike last time around, the driving force of French fascism is the the political left.  A few days ago, for example, French Socialist government minister Laurence Rossignol said that women who wore veils were like “negroes who supported slavery”.  The anti-veil law was presented with a thin progressive veneer, using “secularism” as an excuse…to viciously abuse minorities…in the UK, a Labour-led parliamentary inquiry is also trying to ban prostitution.  Open anti-sex attitudes, and veiled racist attitudes are now commonplace on the political left everywhere…

The Pygmalion Fallacy toasters

Those trapped in magical thinking can’t see that a human-shaped toaster is still a toaster:

Touching a human-shaped robot in areas that would be considered “intimate” if they were on a person, has the power to arouse humans, a new study suggests.  Researchers from Stanford University…looked at how humans would respond when asked by a machine to touch parts of its robotic body; from the more accessible regions like hands, to the more “intimate”, like eyes or buttocks…test subjects…were wired up to a skin conductance sensor to measure their reaction time as well as their physical responses, while sitting next to the robot and following its instructions…when the…robot told test subjects to touch its “intimate” body parts, participants were “more emotionally aroused” but also “more hesitant”—suggesting potential discomfort—compared to touching less intimate regions, which saw subjects deliver a more natural, and typically quicker response…

So Close and Yet So Far

I believe J.R. Thorpe wants to be an ally; I really do.  But this listicle is more interested in being “cute” than it is in being accurate:

It’s important not to judge sex workers, assume that we know what motivates them or what experiences they have had — especially when we’re basing our ideas on film and TV depictions of sex work, as many of us are…It’s equally important to not glorify what can be an intensely exploitative and dangerous industry…particularly in countries and states where regulation doesn’t exist and workers are operating without state or government protection…a [really bad] study of…advertising…in the UK found that…over a third [of sex workers] identified as transgender or male…(The Urban Institute has a detailed exploration into the economics of that, including average pimp income and the various restrictions pimps place on their workers…in decriminalized places, the incidence of STDs among sex workers is really low

Smoke and Mirrors

Another case in which the truth is so obscured by exaggeration, dysphemisms, myths and lies that we’ll probably never know what really happened:

A woman chained to a stripper pole.  A man with four wives.  Child pornography photos.  This is what authorities stumbled upon during a raid in Detroit, where a house-of-horrors tale is unfolding in federal court, with prosecutors accusing one man of enslaving women, selling them for sex on the Internet and…[sharing] sexually explicit photos of [children]…The suspect is Ryon Travis, a 32-year-old unemployed Detroit man…“Sex trafficking occurs all around us, and the victims are sometimes hiding in plain sight,” [bloviated] U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade…

Long-time readers may recall that we’ve seen Babs McQuade (AKA Electrawoman) before, and she was spouting “sex trafficking” bullshit then, too.

Policing for Profit 

Burn. It. To. The. Ground:

…[UK] police [routinely robsex workers] under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA)…Janice [said] “They took my life savings, including money from my mom…They even tried to take my home. I was left with nothing after a lifetime of hard work”…Janice’s story isn’t unique.  Last year, Kent Police [stole] nearly £40,000 from two women accused of running a brothel in Folkestone.  One woman was forced to sell her home…or face an additional jail sentence…Jenny…called the police when men threatened to torch her working flat.  Police didn’t pursue her attackers; instead, they charged her with brothel-keeping and…[stole] her home and life savings…Niki Adams of ECP [said] “Their powers are draconian and they can take every penny earned from years of hard work—her house, her savings, her car, her jewellery, even her children’s and other family members’ money”…

An Example to the West (#349)

Indian sex workers are getting tired of bullshit:

Sex Workers in West Bengal are using the upcoming election to remind politicians they need to keep their promises…Many politicians have not shown commitment to taking action on the demands of sex worker-led organisations…Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (DMSC)…have made it clear they want “concrete” actions and measures [including]…Pension rights…Decriminalisation of the profession…and…self-regulatory boards to stop minors from being forced into the profession…

Cops and Robbers 

“Christian” vigilantes playing with people’s lives and lying to men in an attempt to steal income from sex workers who may need it to pay rent and feed their children:

Bait and Switch (#545)

If you’ll look back at what I’ve previously reported on Grady Judd, I’m sure you can guess what kind of tactics were used to entrap these people so Judd could destroy their lives for his self-aggrandizement:

A Florida sex sting targeting [supposed] child predators netted…Eighteen [victims of the sting] face multiple charges…Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said.  They all allegedly responded to fake online ads from undercover detectives posing as children…

Signs

It was only a matter of time before male “survivors” started cashing in:

Hundreds showed up for a first-of-its kind symposium to train…San Diego’s hotel and motel employees to recognize and respond to the warning signs of human trafficking…in preparation for upcoming summer events such as the MLB All-Star Game and Comic-Con…[religious nut] Jamie Gates [said]…”There are about three to eight thousand survivors in a year”…experts say…70% of transactions [utilize]…social media.  “You’re groomed into a certain…mind frame that makes you susceptible to anyone’s demands,” said Tom Jones, a sex traffic survivor…Sex trafficking in San Diego is a $810 million dollar industry…and is run mostly by more than 100 local gangs.

Ridiculous numbers!  Facebook pimps!  Magic pimp mind control!  Gangs!  Gypsy whores catering to comic book fans!  And more, coming up in the next episode of They’re Coming for Our Children!

Choke Point (#610) 

A few journalists are starting to see where this is going:

…In a cashless society, the cash has been converted into numbers, into signals, into electronic currents.  In short: Information replaces cash…But wherever information gathers and flows, two predators follow closely behind it: censorship and surveillance…Where money becomes a series of signals, it can be censored; where money becomes information, it will inform on you…Operation Choke Point…[was actually] a policing of vice…One pundit wrote, “[W]hile abortion clinics and environmental groups are probably safe under the Obama administration, if this sort of thing stands, they will be vulnerable to the same tactics if a different administration adopts this same thuggish approach toward the businesses that it dislikes”…The choke points are private corporations that are not only subject to government regulation on the books, but have shown a disturbing willingness to bend to extralegal requests—whether it is enforcing financial blockades against the controversial whistleblowing organization WikiLeaks or the website Backpage…A little bit of pressure, and the whole financial system closes off to the government’s latest pariah…For the most vulnerable, the cashless society…only extends the reach of the existing paternal bureaucratic state…

Challenge (#628)

This can only be a good thing:

Former adult star Bree Olson is joining forces with the ESPLER Project in a push to demand that California legislators act to outlaw discrimination for all types of sex workers.  ESPLER Project has posted a petition online that is intended to reach California state Assembly and Senate members…Olson…said…current and former as well as legal and illegally working sex trade workers are having their due process rights violated, both by the law and members of society…

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The narrative that law enforcement loves to go after sites like this is that they’re saving us, that they’re rescuing us.  They’re only rescuing us from being able to pay our bills.  –  Me, in a KING 5 interview

One thing that sex worker activists quickly learn when dealing with the media is that reporters and/or producers can take a long or moderately-long interview and chop it away to virtually nothing; the topic has come up in discussion quite often among Seattle activists recently due to the media exposure surrounding the recent raids.  All in all, I’ve been relatively lucky the past few years; even when an hour-long interview is reduced to a few sentences, they’ve generally chosen quotes that reflect well upon me (such as today’s epigram).  The one major exception I can think of was the interview I gave to the Baltimore ABC station in the summer of ’14; I was asked for my opinions on decriminalization, and had no idea the reporter would do a feature in which she adopted the sleazy prohibitionist strategy of defining the Swedish model as “decriminalization”, then editing me to make it seem as though I supported that vile, misogynistic tyranny.

Anyhow, on Wednesday I gave a short interview to a reporter from the Daily Beast; the first part was by email and I was rather pleased with my own answer, so I thought it might be interesting to share it with you, then show how little of it was printed to fit.  The reporter’s question was:

Writing a story about Marco Rubio, who as Florida House speaker [in 2006] proposed that whistleblower status “should be afforded to everyone who reports prostitution, even if they are involved in the act. As an incentive for reporting the illegal activities, whistleblowers should also receive half the proceeds from any forfeiture actions brought in this case.”  Wanted to see what you thought about this proposal…

And this was my complete answer:

As I began saying in public appearances two years ago, the “War on Whores” is the new “War on Drugs”.  It serves exactly the same functions as the War on Drugs:  as an all-purpose excuse for mass surveillance, mass incarceration, aggressive policing, asset forfeiture, social controls, universal criminality, etc.  And like the Drug War, useful idiots can be counted on to support it “for the children”.  Take a look at nearly any law purported to fight “sex trafficking” (which has become nothing more than a dysphemism for sex work) and you’ll find that it’s essentially a drug war law with new terminology…the ridiculously-long sentences, the harsh corollary penalties, the brainwashing of “victims” under the guise of “rehabilitation”, the surveillance measures, the artificial sense of urgency (“it’s a growing problem!”), the disproportionate enforcement vs. minorities & the poor, and ESPECIALLY the asset seizure*.  So it doesn’t surprise me that an ambitious politician in Florida (one of the three states – the other two being Arizona & Washington – which has come up with the most terrifying & profoundly stupid anti-whore laws of the past few years) came up with yet another asinine & tyrannical proposal to infringe upon the rights of individuals to own & control their own bodies & lives; Florida has, after all, been at the forefront of such efforts (previously in “Drug War” guise) since at least the ‘80s.

One more thing:  as with powder cocaine vs crack, politicians make sure that THEIR version of a vice isn’t the one targeted as much as OTHER people’s versions; mistresses, sugar babies & so-called “high class” escorts like me aren’t the ones being targeted by these anti-whore campaigns because politicians employ us & don’t wish to be hoist with their own petards.  Instead, the extramarital sex favored by poor & working-class men, such as street workers, massage parlors & Backpage girls, are the ones which are demonized and subjected to horrific “sting” operations.

*Elizabeth Nolan Brown has also written about this:
http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/06/justice-for-victims-of-sex-trafficking-war-on-crime-118512
http://reason.com/blog/2015/08/28/asset-forfeiture-for-sex-workers
https://maggiemcneill.wordpress.com/2015/10/07/in-the-news-577/#excuse
https://reason.com/blog/2015/10/17/sex-traffickers-in-blue

Marco RubioIn our phone conversation later that afternoon we covered several more points, the most important of which was first brought up by Mistress Matisse:  given that asset forfeiture doesn’t require a criminal conviction, what’s to stop disgruntled boyfriends and estranged husbands from accusing their exes of prostitution so they can bankrupt them and steal half of their possessions?  For that matter, what’s to stop jealous neighbors from doing the same?  As I’ve pointed out many times, “evidence of prostitution” is whatever the cops say it is; this insane law would literally be an excuse to rob anyone blind.  Given that the single quote which made it into the final story was “It would incentivize false claims,” I reckon the reporter wasn’t really listening to the rest of what I said; he seems to have been much more interested in criticizing one particular stupid, evil idea from one particular power-mad politician than in analyzing the greater fabric of universal criminality of which Rubio’s proposal is an intrinsic part.  And since that kind of narrow, partisan focus is not at all unusual among journalists, it should be obvious why activists need to be careful of what we say to them.

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Any act that would not be illegal if no money changed hands is not a crime just because money changes hands.  –  Mistress Matisse

R.I.P. Grace Bellavue Grace Bellavue

The prominent Australian sex worker and activist, Grace Bellavue, died on Sunday.  I’m told she wrote her own obituary some time ago, and I’ll publish it in its entirety as soon as it can be located; in the meantime, this profile  and this account of how she came out to her family may give you some vague idea of what this extraordinary woman – one of the first in Australia to risk legal and social consequences by showing her face as an activist – was like, and why she will be sorely missed.

Rough Trade 

A King County Superior Court judge sentenced [Christopher Beck] to 33 1/3 years in prison…for raping three women — two of them sex workers — over 15 days in March 2014…should he be released, Beck will be required to register as a sex offender for life…defense attorney Walt Peale said…each victim “contributed significantly to the crime being committed” by engaging in illegal sex work…[in reality] Beck is a serial rapist who terrorized women he specifically targeted because he thought they wouldn’t report the rapes to police and if they did, that no one would believe them…Beck didn’t pay any of the women…

Profit from Panic 

Listed below are job openings in non-profit organizations and for-profit (FP) companies that are fighting human trafficking.”  I’m sure it won’t surprise you to see that most of them are in either PR or finance.

The Public Eye

Here’s a profile of Denver’s Domina Elle:

I like to call myself an adult play facilitator.  The type of work I do is much broader than just BDSM or fetishistic type stuff.  I specialize in helping people to open this part of their sexual selves, and be playful and creative.  That’s one reason I love balloons.  It’s a very friendly catalyst.  It’s erotic and playful, and yet it’s not as scary as some of the other stuff when you start looking at BDSM…

Cuckoo Advertising

Uber-sleaze Dennis Hof is another master of tricking gullible reporters into printing his ads for free as “news items”:

…the owner of Nevada’s Bunny Ranch…announced a new perk for his…employees:  He will match their student loan payments 100% for two months, up to the amount they make as prostitutes at the ranch.  Brothel owner Dennis Hof says he was inspired by the growing number of debt-laden college students he’s seen turning to sex work as a fast way to pay off their loans.  His offer covers payments for education at any two- or four-year university…

The Privilege Paradigm

I’m part of a nascent but growing movement within the left to question the efficacy of current left political and rhetorical tactics, particularly concerning the privilege frame…[it] is a deeply limited way to look at the world, and at times it leads to perverse consequences.  To see the way in which they can really screw up political analysis, check out this Daily Kos piece by Shaun King…The question for people like King…is whether or not they really want to oppose mass incarceration and our current police state.  Because that edifice is so powerful, and so deeply embedded into our system, that it will take a genuinely unified front to oppose it.  That means not siding with the police…What’s the priority?  Scoring the purely rhetorical point of identifying privilege?  Or actually transforming the system that hurts so many poor people and people of color?

Frequently Told Lies

Eithne Crow explains the problems with common responses to prohibitionist propaganda:

When someone is telling you that you don’t know your own life or your own experiences, that you don’t know what you do or don’t consent to, and they’re making no attempt to hide their revulsion – asking invasive questions and telling you that you’re damaged and a liar and a victim – it’s hard to keep it all together.  The implication that we’re dirty, disgusting and desperate draws on a narrative so firmly established, institutionalised and legitimised by nearly everything in our culture that sometimes it’s hard to keep swimming against the tide…I still see these narratives of empowerment versus exploitation being perpetuated all over the place. and I think we need to start saying to each other: “I see you, and I understand that your back’s against the wall and that’s really hard, but when we’re trying to demand rights and you say ‘I like my job’, what does that mean for people who don’t?”…

Another Fine Mess

No, Rhode Island didn’t “accidentally” decriminalize prostitution.  But maybe Georgia did:

In Georgia, it is an absolute defense to a charge of prostitution that the defendant was being sexually trafficked….but the law is so broad that virtually any…prostitute can make a credible claim to being trafficked.  Coercion can mean threats of “bodily harm,” but it can also mean “threatening to expose… information… that if revealed would tend to subject to…. ridicule,” “providing a controlled substance,” or “threatening financial harm.”  So a prostitute who accepts crack cocaine…meets all the elements of the statute…Or let’s say a prostitute…asks the john for $40, and the john declines, saying it will be either $30 or nothing.  Now there’s a threat of financial harm.  Deception is even broader.  It can include promising a benefit…then not delivering.  Or “[c]reating or confirming another’s impression of an existing fact or past event which is false and which the accused knows or believes to be false”…Arguably, [this] might even apply to police officers making undercover busts…

Little Boxes (#504)

It looks like the “cuddlers” are competing with masseuses to see who can come up with the most pompous rationalizations of why they aren’t sex workers:

…To help [pretend that it’s]…an…industry with no connection to prostitution, the therapeutic massage industry emphasizes training and certification.  Most states have massage therapy licensing boards that regulate practitioners. To obtain a license typically takes at least 500 hours of supervised, in-class training…Such requirements help reinforce the [notion] that massage therapy is a skilled discipline practiced by experienced professionals who possess genuine medical knowledge and hard-to-acquire skills…Along with the training costs, some states or municipalities impose additional fees [and legal restrictions] on therapeutic massage businesses…But if professional cuddling attempts to go this route, an obvious issue arises.  “There’s only so much information you can give on teaching cuddling versus massage,” says Evan Carp…

Guinea Pigs Female Head with biometric facial map

Note Facebook’s half-assed “correction” near the bottom of the original:

…New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced Facebook engineers will help his office use “innovative data and analytical methods” to combat online child sex operations…Facebook declined to further provide details, but a likely guess is the project will draw on Facebook’s massive database of “faceprints” to identify victims who appear in the sex ads…law enforcement agencies could cross-check images of their faces to discover their identities—and possibly pictures of the people who are controlling them…

What Were You All Waiting For?

Another pro-decrim article, this one quoting Mistress Matisse:

…In August, Amnesty International voted that the best policy to protect sex workers is the full decriminalization of consensual sex work…the recommendation…served as a mainstream wake-up call about the dangers of the current legislation in the U.S…Current laws regarding sex work can be seen as the criminalization of an exchange between consenting adults.  However, Nevada is currently the only state in the U.S. that allows for the legal exchange of sexual service, legalizing prostitution in regulated brothels (as opposed to decriminalization, as argued for by most sex work activists)…

The Face of Trafficking (#567)

This is what really happens when a wannabe “pimp” abducts a girl:

[On October 5th, Alabama] Police received a call from family members of a 14-year-old saying she wasn’t where she was supposed to be and was missing.  Moments later, an anonymous caller told police a girl about that same age was being used as a prostitute inside a residence…“After talking with the parties there, we located the juvenile,” explained Tuscumbia Police Chief Tony Logan…[he] said there were drugs and money exchanged to have sexual contact with the 14-year-old girl in a back bedroom…Rashard Ricks, has been charged with human trafficking…Jerrin Donley is charged with rape…

Broken Record (#575) 

The descent of “sex trafficking” hysteria into self-parody continues unabated:

…The New Colossus is a…group in Sioux Falls that raises awareness about…human trafficking…[they] say here in South Dakota there’s two times a year when there’s a spike in trafficking – during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, and the [pheasant] hunting season….[which] brings the problem into rural communities…[Polly] Dean says some of the girls being trafficked…are from reservations in the state, but also from places like Las Vegas, Minneapolis, and Milwaukee.  While people will be keeping an eye out for birds…The New Colossus want everyone to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity as well…Some of the things people should look for are women who appear in multiple locations…

That’s right, women moving around in public (instead of staying in the home, presumably) are inherently suspicious.

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When you get into a tight place, and everything goes against you till it seems as if you couldn’t hold on a minute longer, never give up then, for that’s just the place and time that the tide’ll turn.  –  Harriet Beecher Stowe

Olivier as HamletI’ve stated several times recently that I think the sex worker rights movement has finally passed our watershed moment; Amnesty International’s affirmation of decriminalization as the only moral way for governments to relate to sex workers, followed closely by the incredibly tone-deaf fiasco that was the Rentboy raid, has resulted in a dramatic shift in the way the American public views the topic of sex worker rights.  The tide has turned at last, and now the current is flowing away from eroding the human rights of sex workers instead of toward it.  (Yes, I realize that I just mixed my metaphors; so did Shakespeare on occasion.  Deal with it.)  I mean, take a look at this editorial from a student newspaper in Arizona:

…Much of the violence associated with sex trafficking is believed to be made worse by its illegal status because violent people are more likely to prey on sex workers, confident they won’t be reported to police…The legalization of prostitution would take the disputes between clients and workers off the streets and into the courtroom.  Black market sex trade leaves little accountability between either parties involved, but by legitimizing the markets, new processes would be made available to alleviate this problem…after both Germany and New Zealand legalized sex work…the violence against sex workers decreased, workers’ quality of life improved and occupational health and safety laws now protect sex workers…Americans are growing tired of a government that is so involved in the personal decisions of its citizens.  The kind of government that kept same sex marriage from being legalized is a thing of the past, and maybe so is the kind of government that still classifies sex work as illegal.

There are a number of problems and sour notes in the short article (for example, the author seems to believe criminalized US sex workers can’t screen clients or take credit cards), but the general tone is extremely supportive; what makes that even more remarkable is that this was published in Arizona, one of the main sources of “sex trafficking” filth:

…due to the process of group polarization Arizonans seem completely unable to recognize how extreme their beliefs and rhetoric are in comparison with the rest of the country.  When delusional maniacs like Joe Arpaio or John and Cindy McCain start barking at the moon, they do not realize how deranged they sound to others because everyone in Phoenix political circles encourages and applauds their howling.  Dominique Roe-Sepowitz was completely unable to recognize what her creepy statement about “body fluids” and “normal relationships”  sounded like to normal people until it started to be quoted in articles…even then her response was not introspection, but simply refusing to give interviews to anyone other than a religious magazine

But this tide is just beginning to turn, and its outward current isn’t very powerful yet; there are still plenty of vile, nauseating little creatures struggling against it to spread as much shit as possible on the beach.  Consider, for example, this recent piece from the other main hotbed of “sex trafficking” lunacy, Washington state:

…Spokane…passed an ordinance…allowing for [cops to steal] the cars of drivers [accused of] soliciting prostitution…Officials [pretend] the new approach to the age-old problem is already making an impact.  It is hard to say what is more disappointing.  The fact that people still think prostitution is a valid way to earn a living or that there are still johns willing to keep the women in business.  Pastor Kevin Ch’en…said he extends an open door to anyone who wants to be inspired and uplifted – including prostitutes.  “There’s so many stories and so many issues,” he said, “but the biggest problem is always a broken heart.”  To prevent even more heartbreak, Spokane Police took the unique approach of going after the drivers who keep the prostitutes in business…

Bart's PeopleThis sounds like the kind of crap Bart Simpson wrote when he was trying to be a “human interest” reporter.  “Heartbreak”?  Sentence fragments getting all judgy about the way non-reporters earn a living?  Asset seizure a “unique approach”?  Is this guy even for real?  Believe it or not, he actually tried to argue with Matisse and me on Twitter the other night while we were on our way to a rather nice restaurant, but he slunk away pretty quickly; I guess he couldn’t make up his mind whether it was more “disappointing” that we think being beautiful and charming is a valid way to get treated to an expensive steak dinner, or that there was a gentleman willing to pay for it.  Alas, it’s not just fourth-rate local TV reporters who haven’t yet got the memo about prohibition being on the way out; the venerable “leftist” magazine Mother Jones recently published (for pay) propaganda made up by the “right wing” rescue organization Covenant House, proving once again that “left” and “right” are just two wings of the same vulture when there’s money to be made and individual rights to be crushed:

…In a sponsored message sent to Mother Jones readers…Covenant House claimed…that “85% of sex trafficking victims are U.S. citizens—mostly runaway children.”  Eighty-five percent of sex trafficking victims where?  The group doesn’t say, leaving it open to the interpretation that the majority of sex trafficking victims worldwide are American citizens.  That’s a conclusion that may defy common sense, but a lot of people’s only information on sex-trafficking comes via scaremongering legislators, local news, and activist groups…the…claim…that the majority of sex trafficking victims are runaway children…conjures bad guys snatching up 10-year-olds…But the runaway children claim is only true insofar a large number of teens engaged in prostitution…are indeed runaway and/or homeless youth [and only if you accept that 16- and 17-year-olds are “children”].  Multiple recent studies have shown, however, that the majority of these teens…do not have pimps…the…email goes on to state that “over 100,000 American children are forced into prostitution every year,” a claim that has been debunked again and again (look, here’s someone doing it in 2011! Here’s someone doing it in 2014!  Here’s Washington Post doing it last May!  Here’s me doing it last week!)…

Yes, it’s going to be a while before that ebb becomes forceful enough to carry most of the creepy-crawlies out to sea with it.  But in the meantime, please forgive me if I amuse myself by poking at the stragglers with sticks.

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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on November 16th; I have modified it slightly to fit the format of this blog.

Salvation Army womenEvery time one reads an article that doesn’t mindlessly parrot “sex trafficking” hysteria or some other aspect of the anti-sex movement, yet isn’t written by a sex worker or ally, one can be sure there will be an obligatory sentence about how it’s “surprising” or “paradoxical” or whatever that neofeminists are in bed with evangelical Christians.  The only people who could actually consider this alliance to be anything other than wholly predictable are those who A) believe in the ridiculous “left wing-right wing” dichotomy which “was a poor fit to real political landscapes when it was first used in reference to the French Assembly more than 200 years ago and has become completely worthless since”; B) accept fanatical cults’ propaganda about their motives as truthful even if it demonstrably conflicts with their public behavior; and C) are completely ignorant of the history of the Anglo-American anti-sex movement.  My early essay “Traitors To Their Sex”  provides a brief sketch of this history, starting with the influential and charismatic Victorian feminist, Josephine Butler:

…who recognized that English law of the time…stripped prostitutes of their rights as Englishwomen and so campaigned tirelessly for the repeal of those laws for 16 years.  At the same time, Butler (like most Victorians) believed that women were essentially asexual, and so could not accept that any woman might freely choose to exploit the male sexual appetite in order to earn a living; the very idea was anathema to her rigid Christian thinking.  She therefore concluded that it was actually whores who were the exploited ones, childlike victims of male lust who had been forced into lives of “degradation” by male oppression…after the repeal of the Contagious Disease Acts in 1886 prostitutes were no longer the cause célèbre; when they refused to repent their whoredom and embrace “honest work” and conventional morality the feminists abandoned their sympathy like yesterday’s newspaper and declared war on our entire profession, vowing to abolish it entirely.  Butler founded the Social Purity Alliance…dedicated to imposing middle-class Victorian standards of chastity (i.e. repugnance for sex) onto men, and it was but the first of a host of similar organizations which sprang up on both sides of the Atlantic throughout the 1880s and ‘90s…middle-class “feminists” had shown their true colors and abandoned the drive to win rights for the disenfranchised in favor of one which aimed to restrict the rights of everyone…The purity crusaders used many propaganda weapons…but chief among these were disease scares and the “white slavery” hysteria…the unholy alliance of middle-class feminists and puritanical religious zealots managed to convince the public, the media and governments that there was a huge international trade in underage girls, abducted and forced into sexual slavery…The fact that there was absolutely no evidence for such a vast conspiracy made no difference whatsoever; the public devoured lurid stories of child prostitution, and…voluntary adult prostitution was banned or severely restricted under the excuse of combating involuntary prostitution of “children”…

In other words, though some early feminists (such as Mary Wollstonecraft and Olympe de Gouges) were individualists who were not at all anti-sex, feminism did not become a popular movement until it embraced a rigid, puritanical morality.  These “first wave” feminists were not merely anti-prostitution, but anti-pleasure; among other things, they campaigned against the “evil” of masturbation and drove the movement which eventually imposed Prohibition on the United States.  So although this early feminism died out in the Great Depression, it is wholly unsurprising that its legacy soon infected the “second wave” which flourished in the 1960s and ‘70s; by the mid-‘80s the anti-sex forces had not only taken over feminism, but had sought out and once again joined their old allies, evangelical Christians, in another loathsome attempt to impose a puritanical anti-sex regime on all of society.  Almost exactly a century after the first iteration of their social engineering crusade, they’ve brought back most of their old rhetoric (now blended with another morally-bankrupt 19th-century belief system, Marxism) and many of their old tactics, including “white slavery” hysteria (now called “sex trafficking”).

This is what a feminist's victim looks likeAs I’ve pointed out before, much of the language in “sex trafficking” and other anti-sex articles and essays is positively Victorian, and even when it isn’t the attitudes are.  Women like Julie Bindel and Meghan Murphy, who would almost certainly take exception with (or even ridicule) the notion that their attitudes fit more in the late 19th century than the early 21st, nonetheless expend considerable effort in arguing for massive censorship campaigns (even though they deny it) and trying to convince other women that only feminist thought leaders have the right to determine which kinds of sex constitute “rape” or “exploitation”, and that their individual consent is immaterial (the result of “false consciousness”, itself a 19th-century Marxist concept).  The “end demand” campaign backed by the Fawcett Society (itself founded in 1866) is based in the tired old Victorian conceit that men can be “taught” to dislike sex as much as prudish women do; furthermore, the recent revelation that the £45 “This is What a Feminist Looks Like” T-shirts hawked by the Society are made in Dickensian sweatshops reveals that middle-class white women’s trivial concerns still trump the serious problems of working-class and brown-skinned women, just as they did in the days when the sun never set on the Empire.  And I think we can all agree that the mind which can produce over 3100 words on whether porn can be “ethical” or “feminist” is one which could’ve been perfectly delighted with thinking up new venereal nouns or arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.  So no, it isn’t at all surprising that evangelical feminists conspire with evangelical Christians to make normal people’s lives as miserable as possible; they’ve been doing it for as long as there’s been such a thing as “feminism”.

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Be careful who you honk at the next time.  –  Jeremy Sweet

Once again, I apologize for letting a “Links” column post in an unfinished state; the reason is the same as the last time, back in July.  I’m simply not a very good traveler, and even though train travel is better than air travel, it still has a tendency to get me sick and I was mortified to be in a rather bedraggled state to meet my hostesses last night.  The first video was contributed by Michael Whiteacre, and the second is a National Lampoon parody which was dislodged from the ’70s to buzz around my head again for the past few weeks.  The links above the first video are from Radley Balko, and those between the videos from Rick Horowitz (“more”), Jesse Walker (“Watterson”), Angela Keaton  (“transmen”), Clarkhat (“never” and “discourse”), David Ley (“old”), and Tushy Galore (“FBI”).

From the Archives

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Governments need to be reminded (at least annually if not constantly)…that [their] overthrow…by a disgruntled minority is always a possibility.  I would like to see most if not all politicians and their minions paying for their power and privilege by being forced to live in a constant state of nervous anxiety.  –  “Guy Fawkes Night

I only call myself a libertarian because it’s the only popular term which has some general resemblance to the way I see the world.  Technically, what I am is a minarchist, someone who is to an anarchist what an agnostic is to an atheist; I’m also more or less an agorist.  But use either of those terms to most people, even to many libertarians, and you’ll be greeted with blank stares; I had to add both of them to the Microsoft Word dictionary while writing this.  For most uses, “libertarian” is good enough, though it means that I have to endure opprobrium from semi-literates who write for sites like Think Progress, Alternet and Salon and seem to believe that “libertarian” means “caricature of a fundie plutocrat” or even “whatever I don’t like”.  The demonic misnamed “libertarians” in these yahoos’ tiny minds are like cartoon distortions of Ayn Rand characters,Gilded Age political cartoon mustache-twirling (excuse me, “beard-stroking”) villains who are perfectly happy with the system except insofar as their own power-plays are disrupted by the good, noble, valiant white knights in government.  Not counting the cops and the military, of course; those are bad parts of government, totally and completely disconnected from the good parts who only try to “help” people by telling them how to live, why to fuck, whom to associate with, where to shop and what to eat, wear, buy, watch, say, do and think.  Said directives are of course implemented by laws (for our own good, naturally) and enforced (look carefully at that word) by the cops they pretend to disapprove of and locked up in the prisons run by powerful crony-capitalist corporations they pretend to hate (in Facebook posts made on their iPhones).

In truth, I’m as far from many libertarians (especially Libertarians) as I am from most Republicans, Democrats, Greens and Socialists; the main difference is that the vast majority of libertarians, no matter what their flavor, respect my right to have different beliefs from them and different opinions about which issues are most important.  And that makes them in my estimation vastly better human beings than those who assert the right to ownership over my person, my time and my effort, even if I disagree with them on a lot of issues and just can’t get terribly excited about the trials and tribulations of people who’ve made more money since breakfast than I will in my entire life.  One important way, perhaps the most important way, in which I differ from most libertarians (especially Libertarians and “libertarian-leaning” anybodies) is that I do not believe our current system is salvageable.  Unlike most people, I harbor no delusions about American exceptionalism and no 21st-century chauvinism; I refuse to comfort myself with the childish belief that the culture and time in which I live is magically different from all others that have gone before, because of God or science or “democracy” or “feminism” or mass communications or what-have-you.  As a pragmatist and a student of history, I recognize that all cultures  – every last stinking or shining one of them – are as mortal as the humans who build them, albeit on a slightly larger time scale.  No culture is immortal; all of them are born, grow, mature, sicken, decline and die, usually over a period of a few centuries to a millennium at best.  And pretending that wholly different cultures are the same merely because they occupy the same territory and call themselves the same thing is as absurd as insisting that Elizabeth II is actually Queen Victoria.  The United States of history, the patriotic fiction to which so many believe they owe fealty, is as dead as the dodo; it was born with an ugly birth defect which doomed it from the start, and the monstrous doppelganger which grew like some loathsome fungus inside of its carcass would not be worthy of saving even if that were possible.  Nor are the majority of modern Western nations any better.

I’m not calling for a revolution; I’m saying that a revolution is inevitable, whether we like it or not.  The powerful have made it inevitable, despite the best efforts of those philosophically-inclined revolutionaries we call the “Founding Fathers” to minimize the extent to which the power-hungry could take control over the less-able, less-connected, less-ambitious and less-evil.  They wanted to make it impossible for anyone to gain very much power over anyone else; they failed.  It was partly due to the toleration of an institution in which one human being could literally own another (the birth defect to which I alluded earlier), partly due to oversights and errors in the legal instruments they created, and partly due to new and horrific disguises for totalitarianism developed by successive generations, but mostly due to the fact that what they wanted was flat-out impossible; any system of government can and will be remade by the evil to give them power.  Last December, Clark Bianco of Popehat wrote a powerful polemic about what our system has become; in it he refutes the common argument that the system is “broken” (which implies it can be “fixed”, a contention he and I both deny).  It’s well worth your time, but here’s a sample:

Twenty years ago I was a libertarian.  I thought the system could be reformed. I thought that some parts of it “worked”… whatever that means.  I thought that the goals were noble, even if not often achieved.  The older I get, the more I see, the more I read, the more clear it becomes to me that the entire game is rigged…the system is not reformable.  There are multiple classes of people…the bottom of the hierarchy…can, literally, be killed with impunity…Next up…are…regular peons…[who] can have our…rectums explored at the roadside…because the cops got permission from a dog…Next up…are the…disciplined-voting-blocks…[then] the cops…judiciary and…prosecutors…and…at…the [top]…the true ruling class: the cabal of (most) politicians and (some) CEOs, conspiring both against their own competitors and the public at large…The system is not fixable because it is not broken.  It is working, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to give the insiders their royal prerogatives, and to shove the regulations, the laws, and the debt up the asses of everyone else.

Burn it to the ground.

Burn it to the ground.

Burn it to the ground.

The fires have already started, though the Powers That Be are expending considerable effort to extinguish them while simultaneously denying that they exist.  Sooner or later they will develop into a conflagration which will consume the current edifice; with any luck those who next build on the site will be able to salvage a few sound parts of the old structure to incorporate into the new one.  Maybe the next experiment will get a bit closer to the goal and last a bit longer before it, too, degenerates into tyranny.  But history teaches us that is rarely the case; things have indeed slowly improved over the ages, and there’s no reason to suspect that trajectory will change.  But the improvements always come from virile young cultures learning from the mistakes of the old ones, not from moribund old ones too obsessed with past triumphs to bother gazing upon their own decaying visages in the mirror of time. burning capitol

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