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Posts Tagged ‘Madonna/whore’

People don’t come alone to Mardi Gras to find a hooker.  –  Helena

Whores and Wives

Amateur women’s attacks on sex workers are always pretty pathetic, but this one is truly stupefying:

…real men don’t pay for sex.  A man who needs to objectify women obsessively is not a man at all…when a man pays for sex, it says a lot about his character.  It takes a certain type of man to believe that women can be bought and sold…just because you need sex doesn’t mean you have to get it through prostitution; a real man knows how to get it without his credit card…sex shouldn’t be bought, but earned…A real man would never take another man’s daughter, forced to live a life of prostitution, to bed. A real man isn’t satisfied with fake moans…

The way she flails wildly between demonizing whores and denying our agency is especially fascinating.

Not To Be Taken Internally (February Updates)

“Lillian” is the professional name of Padge Victoria Windslowe, who is on trial…[for] third-degree murder…in the Feb. 8, 2011, death of exotic dancer Claudia Aderotimi…[who] flew to Philadelphia from London for a buttocks-enhancement procedure that consisted of silicone injections administered by Windslowe…The 20-year-old died after the silicone migrated to her lungs…Windslowe is [also] charged with aggravated assault for injections she gave 23-year-old Sherkeeia King in February 2012 at a “pumping party”…King was hospitalized, vomiting blood and struggling to breathe.  Doctors found that silicone in her buttocks had migrated through her bloodstream to her heart and lungs…

Above the Law rapist cop James Greene

This week’s rapist cops hail from Louisiana:  “…James Greene [of Shreveport] was [only] charged with abuse of office…[for raping] a woman [at gunpoint]“…and Canada:

Three Toronto police officers…have been charged with…gang sexual assault…Constables Leslie Nyznik, 38, Joshua Cabero, 28, and Sameer Kara, 31…[raped] a female [cop]…

Sex Work is Work

The ridiculous need to deny that sex work is legitimate work has some weird results at tax time:

…Ms X…set out her business plan for the Tax Office in considerable detail and sought confirmation that her earnings from her proposed activities would not attract tax in Poland.  She would supply, she said, “virtual sex services”, using internet cameras and microphones to connect [to] the service buyer…Prostitution is not forbidden by law in Poland, but at the same time does not constitute a “socially desirable or acceptable behaviour”, and so contracts for prostitution cannot amount to valid and legally-enforceable undertakings.   No income tax is due if a particular activity cannot be the subject of a legally-binding and enforceable agreement…the Tax Office…took the view that…as there was no physical contact in the services proposed, there was no…prostitution…and therefore…not tax-exempt.

Don’t be stupid, ladies; it was “tax evasion” that finally took down Al Capone:

A South Dakota man…paid $1 million over a four-year period for sex with an exotic dancer…David Karlen…was a star witness in a federal trial last year against Veronica Fairchild.  She was accused of failing to pay taxes…sentenced to nearly three years in prison and ordered to pay more than $214,600 in back taxes.

Original Sin (#321)

An especially amusing twist on the “porn causes sex trafficking” trope:

…Pat Robertson…linked women who enjoyed…Fifty Shades of Grey to an increase in sex trafficking around the world…“How many women have read the book and how many women are going to the movie…It’s about all kinds of sadomasochism, it’s about bondage, about whips, it’s about boiling oil, it’s about various types of restraints”…

Girls, Girls, Girls! (#337)

This article on how Mardi Gras affects the sex industry in New Orleans is interesting and more or less accurate (though I see some things have changed since my time, like this new “single woman” rule), but woefully incomplete:  the “New Orleans sex economy” ain’t just strip clubs, y’all.

Imaginary Evils 

Remember, huge police operations have never found more than a single-digit number of “sex trafficking” cases in the UK:

Inside one of Britain’s biggest special anti-trafficking operations, police officers surrounded by files, forms and photographs attempt to unravel a complex network of crime…Operation Retriever was set up in September after police in northern England were alerted to a Slovakian woman who had been tricked into travelling to Britain and then forced to marry a man…There are as many as 13,000 victims of slavery in Britain, forced to work in factories and farms, sold for sex in brothels, or imprisoned in domestic servitude…

devilsdoorbell

Innocence Never Had

Why can people not get this simple concept through their thick skulls?

Homelessness is one of the main reasons youth…engage in “survival sex”…LGBTQ…youth are dramatically more likely to trade sex for a place to stay, according to a new study…Prior research has shown homeless LGBTQ youth were “seven times more likely” to trade sex than their heterosexual counterparts…Those surveyed saw, on average, 11 to 18 customers weekly…The law considers any minor participating in the sex industry to be “trafficked”…but…only 15 percent said they had been in an exploitative situation during their time in survival sex…

Bread and Circuses

It’s good to see the mainstream media getting it:

…on June 25, 2014, visitors to RedBook got a rude shock.  Instead of a directory of links to sexy ads, forums, and reviews, they saw a dire-looking alert from the Department of Justice, FBI, and IRS stating that RedBook’s domain had been seized.  The Feds’ message, still up today, asserts that there is probable cause that the site was involved in “money laundering derived from racketeering based on prostitution”…

Legal Is As Legal Does (#450)

Banning prostitution from Auckland’s troublespots will not be a job for the Government.  Instead, Auckland Council has been told it already has the power to pass a bylaw to address the problem.  There had been interest in the law change because other cities, in particular Christchurch, were keen to have similar powers to ban prostitution near schools, family homes or sports facilities…

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I recently started dating an escort that I’ve been seeing professionally for a while, but I found out that all of her escort friends are warning her away from me.  Why are they so skeptical about my feelings toward her?

Relationships with escorts are fraught with complications for a number reasons, including but not limited to:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

  • Clients trying to get free sex by promising “love”, just as men have done to amateur women for millennia;
  • Clients who are turned on by whores qua whores, and not really attracted to the women as individuals;
  • Guys who really think they love a whore, but are not  prepared for the social stigma or the burden of having to keep her secret from employers, family, friends, etc;
  • Men who really are in love with whores, but let jealousy destroy the relationships;
  • Men who fancy themselves pimps and try to manage their girlfriends’ work, even to the point of abusive and controlling behavior;
  • Boyfriends or husbands who demand that the sex worker give up her work and either become economically dependent (“barefoot and pregnant”) or go to work in a shitty non-sex “straight” job that will wear her down;
  • Clients who think they’re in love with a woman, but are actually just infatuated with her business persona;
  • Guys who imagine that sex workers’ sex drives are higher than those of amateur women, or that they’re always more open-minded about preferences and kinks that they’re not being paid to indulge.

Those last two are probably the most insidious, because they may be hard for either party to tell apart from real affection and only reveal themselves once the couple is cohabiting and he discovers that he doesn’t like her relaxed, yoga-pants-wearing, housework-hating, menstruating, bad-hair-day-having, moody, personal-problem-suffering, family-drama-experiencing, opinion-expressing, not-always-in-the-mood, idiosyncratic self.  And this is just a start; if I sat here for a while I could probably think of half a dozen more, and I invite sex workers to include others in the comments.  I’m not saying a relationship with a sex worker is impossible; most of us do indeed have intimate partners, most of whom are male and some fraction of whom were formerly clients.  But there are special difficulties inherent in such relationships that require patience, wisdom and love to overcome or circumvent, and because several of those only apply to partners who started as clients, many sex workers are of the opinion that it’s better to minimize problems by eliminating those potential avenues of difficulty through the strategy of never, ever becoming emotionally involved with clients in the first place.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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People who think they can abolish [sex work] entirely from any country are living in a dream world.  –  Ronald Weitzer

Coming and Going

In 2012, more than 1,000 people were booked into the Bexar County Jail for prostitution and the cost to taxpayers was more than $1.2 million dollars.   State Representative Eric Johnson…has introduced House Bill 1363 to reduce punishment for prostitution.   The bill would make a first or second offense of prostitution a Class C Misdemeanor and calls for an intervention program…community service, counseling, and treatment…

Do As I Say, Not As I Do Samuel Riggi

an Orlando [Florida] police lieutenant…[is] accused of having a sexual relationship with a prostitute and taking nearly $10,000 from her…Gricelda Umana…[said] she and Lt. Samuel Riggi had sex every two weeks for two years, sometimes at the massage parlor where she worked.  She said he asked her for money and said she made 17 deposits totaling almost $10,000 from her prostitution proceeds into his account to protect her from arrest…

One Born Every Minute

A new site that claims to be “the AirBnB for escorts” doesn’t seem to be anything like AirBnB…or like a legitimate escort site, for that matter.  AirSnB—which stands for “Air Sexy Buddy,” I was told— launched in December  and, according to owner Amir Mo, is supposed to be the escort industry’s answer to the sharing economy…Mo said customers pay AirSnB upfront for a date arranged with their escort of choice (based on hourly rates).  After the date, AirSnB transfers the money to the escort, skimming their percentage off the top…if there are any issues—like the escort doesn’t show up or doesn’t follow through…AirSnB will return the money to the customer or give them a percentage back, depending on the situation.  But as if this didn’t sound sketchy enough already, many of the escort listings on the site don’t appear to be…real.  Almost every profile I found was copied word-for-word from listings elsewhere on the internet…

The Course of a Disease

Anti-prostitution campaigners have made grand statements about the effectiveness of Sweden’s hugely influential approach to prostitution.  However, researchers say the claims are grossly exaggerated and the law has put sex workers in greater danger.  The so-called “Swedish model”…portrays itself as an example to emulate.  Ambassadors for the approach preach its virtues to government regulators worldwide…But an increasing number of voices…say claims exaggerate its successes for ideological reasons.  The most recent attacks on the 1999 Kvinnofrid law come from Malmö University researcher Charlotta Holmström.  In contrast to the loud claims of anti-prostitution campaigners, that it has made sex workers safer, Holmström says they are far more vulnerable to exploitation and violence…

J’accuse (#42)

A high-profile pimping case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn nearly unraveled…[when] five of six plaintiffs…dropped their accusations against him…Strauss-Kahn has testified to having orgies…to being “rough” with his sexual “conquests,” and to needing sex with exceptional frequency.  But none of that is illegal…Strauss-Kahn insists he didn’t know the women involved were prostitutes…

But while Straus-Kahn will probably walk away free, French sex workers may not be so lucky:

…Morgane Merteuil…of the French sex worker’s trade union Strass…believes the trial has increased the stigmatisation of the sex industry and has presented a skewed view of the profession.  “There is a confusion with abolitionist organisations between when a client respects a contract and when he does not.  [DSK] didn’t respect the contract…not all clients act like him”…Merteuil says she believes the trial may result in the criminalisation of the sex industry…

Skin To Skin

For many disabled people, sex is off the cards.  While most needs are met through the provision of carers, or by parents, sex is often missed out entirely.  But now a number of sex workers are looking to combat this, stepping into the breach to provide specialist services to help disabled people to fulfil their sexual desires.  It’s easy for disabled people’s sexuality to become obscured by a web of societal assumptions about what it is to be disabled. But of course, disabled people are just as horny as anybody else…

Be Careful Who You Rape

After all, we wouldn’t want to waste effort investigating the rapes of “criminals”:

A new controversial policy requires sexual assault and rape victims to undergo police background checks before they can receive services…[including] rape kits or medical investigations into the criminal activity that was perpetrated against them…The bizarre policy has been around since 2007, but it has only been implemented and enforced since November…Critics of this law suggest that many will not come forward to report sexual assaults and rapes if they feel they maybe prosecuted for something…

Sex Rays

Sometimes it’s hard to believe the people who write these stories actually take them seriously:

Their locations are blended right into the fabric of busy communities. They set up shop next to store fronts and restaurants…police raided the Queen Spa, an illegal massage parlor set up near the University of Rhode Island…next to a Dunkin’ Donuts and Subway sandwich shop…other suburban locations where illegal massage parlors open…[include one] just feet from an ice cream stand and a toy shop…

Remember, sex work was only recriminalized in Rhode Island five years ago.

The Roof Caves In (#425) 

Disgraced anti-sex trafficking activist Somaly Mam’s new charity – which is headed by former staff of her fallen foundation, a Hollywood actress and a PR guru – announced…that it has been given the green light in the US…The organisation, which will employ about 37 full-time staff and expects to generate more than $682,000 this year…

Bread and Circuses

The war on sex worker advertising continues:

A [Colorado] man…was arrested…for “Use of a Facility in Interstate Commerce to Promote a Business Enterprise Involving Prostitution”…David A. Warmack owned and operated a website business named “Sowet.com”…[which] promoted and facilitated prostitution that took place at multiple massage parlors across the Metro Denver area…

The Face of Trafficking

In the largest ever study into the health of trafficking victims, researchers interviewed more than 1,100 men, women and children in Southeast Asia who had been trafficked into at least 15 sectors – including factory work, domestic labor, sex work and fishing…Most previous studies [only] looked at…women trafficked into sex work…[but] this study found…that women trafficked for other forms of labor, including factory work, domestic work and as brides, suffered worse mental health problems than those trafficked into sex work…

A Year Later

Sex worker advocates are warning Ontario Attorney General Madeleine Meilleur that Canada’s new controversial prostitution law will “force people in the sex trade in harm’s way.”  Meilleur is reviewing Bill C-36 and will file a report on the law to Premier Kathleen Wynne, who has expressed “grave concerns” about the federal Conservative government’s latest effort to deal with prostitution…

Moving Pictures

Add another “sex trafficking” porn fantasy to the list:  “Tricked…features interviews with people in all areas of the sex trafficking trade, including prostitutes who are often victims, the traffickers (pimps), customers (Johns) and the vice officers who fight the trade…

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It is…easier to characterize sex work activists as traffickers and pimps than what they really are: vulnerable women advocating for themselves within a system that is set up to marginalize and dehumanize them.  –  Alana Massey

Amsterdam

What the fuck is this patronizing bullshit?

Amsterdam may open a brothel where fifty women will get a chance to do their work without pimps. The municipality proposes five buildings with a total of 19 windows available…A feasibility study has been launched to see what all is involved in a prostitution business that is run by prostitutes. The municipality believes that a company which sex workers themselves are responsible for the affairs, will contribute to a prostitution industry with good working conditions without abuses…

If Dutch politicians would stop mistaking their masturbatory fantasies for reality, they’d know that most prostitutes already run their businesses without the dubious “help” of pimps or politicians.

Real People Bella Robinson

Here’s a good profile of Bella Robinson, written by fellow activist Tara Burns:

Bella Robinson entered the sex industry as a homeless 18-year-old fleeing an abusive marriage that had rescued her from the foster care system.  She’s exactly the sort of “victim” for whom sex trafficking laws were invented.  But Robinson—now a human rights activist who has been a hooker (her preferred term) for 30 years—doesn’t think of herself as a victim of the sex industry.  She says she’s been sex trafficked by the state and victimized by laws intended to help people like her…

One Size Fits All

Because Shazam!

51-year-old Robert Edward Neves, an American National arrested in the Philippines, will face trial for [dating] a 17-year-old [woman]…Neves is also being charged with [sex trafficking]…it is illegal for any person…to keep or have in their company a minor which is 12 years or under – or who is 10 years or more his junior in any public place…The [young woman said she]…and Neves…met in an online date site…eventually becoming lovers…after they met in person…

Follow the Leader

Costumed hooligans with titles like “officer” abduct and abuse people in much the same way every day:

A 6-year-old boy in Missouri endured an emotional four-hour staged kidnapping because his family thought he was being too nice to people he didn’t know…the boy’s mother, grandmother, aunt and a co-worker of the aunt…have been charged with kidnapping and other felonies…the boy was lured…into a pickup after getting off his school bus, tied up, threatened with a gun, taken to a basement where his pants were removed, and told he could be sold into sex slavery…that he would never “see his mommy again,” and he would be “nailed to the wall of a shed”…[he was bound] in the basement for some time before he was unbound and…lectured…about stranger danger…

Uncommon Sense

Ticino has always been considered a haven of the Swiss sex industry.  Dozens of Italian sex workers, both women and men – regularly commute…there…roughly 600 registered sex workers [work] in Ticino out of a total population of 340,000 residents…But…the local government is trying to push through a new law aimed at cracking down on unregulated prostitution by confining the oldest trade to just licensed brothels, apartments and authorised sex districts…

Umpteen Thousand People Can’t Be Wrong

Dear clergymen:  STOP STICKING YOUR DAMNED NOSES INTO OUR BUSINESS.  Love, sex workers everywhere.

Representatives of the Church of Scotland have joined other churches and faith groups, including Catholics, Anglicans, Muslims, Sikhs, Quakers and the Free Church, in urging the First Minister to…follow the kind of prostitution law adopted in Nordic countries…Sex worker-led charity Scot-Pep said laws criminalising the buyer exposed sex workers to HIV and violence and had been rejected by UNAIDS, the World Health Organisation and Human Rights Watch…a Swedish report on the issue published this week had concluded that the law made sex workers more vulnerable.  Fiona Gilbertson…of Scot-Pep…said…”This is clearly a subject about which the Church has been misinformed, and I would invite them…to read the evidence and to speak to sex workers before proceeding any further with this campaign…”

Here’s my friend Laura Lee on the subject.

The Last Shall Be First

A bill…in the Florida Legislature…would make it a crime for transgender people to use single-sex public facilities…including restrooms…that correspond with their gender identity.  Violators would be [subject to]…a year in jail or a $1,000 fine.  The bill would also empower people in a…restroom during any “unlawful entry” to sue the alleged interloper and owner of the facility…single-sex facilities…would be restricted to those with a corresponding “biological sex…at birth”…

Yellow Fever

Lauren HershMost of this reads like a script for a really lurid TV cop show, because reporters nowadays believe everything cops tell them as though it were engraved on stone tablets.  There’s also infantilization of young people, agency denial, bogus statistics, conflation of all “missing child” cases with stranger abduction and all stranger abduction with “sex trafficking”, the evocation of imaginary “criminal gangs”, pro-criminalization propaganda and a special guest appearance by the vile Lauren Hersh, the prohibitionist who was a prosecutor until she was forced out in disgrace for railroading two innocent men for rape.

Policing for Profit 

Here’s another prohibitionist badge-licker who is so busy wanking to his fantasies of “slave ships” that he is unable to comprehend that expanded state power to steal private property will eventually come back to bite him:

Tim Heffer [fantasizes] so strongly that sex [work] is…slavery that he compares the cars…owned by [clients] to slave ships…he testified in support of HB 1558, which would allow [cops to steal]…the cars and money of people arrested for soliciting a prostitute, even if they are never convicted.  “Rather than one large ship, they’re smaller vessels…we need to take these ships away from traffickers and buyers”…

Rough Trade (#339)

Who else but a sociopath could “appear to be in disbelief” when he is convicted for the same kind of rape he’s been convicted for at least twice before?

Akis Livas, 52, appeared to be in disbelief when his lawyer explained to him that he would be locked up for…[booking a sex worker] for four hours, and [bringing] an envelope stuffed with paper which he pretended was the $850 to pay her.  The woman said when she discovered there was no money, she became scared…she has suffered from a lack of trust in others and [is] still receiving counselling…Livas continued to minimise his responsibility and had not shown remorse…

Shame, Shame

A mugshot…is a photo designed to tell the state’s side of a story.  The subject of the photo, taken at one of the lowest points in their life, has no voice, but the language of the form – the unflattering bright light, the drab background, the name and prisoner ID at the bottom – tells us we are looking at a “criminal”.  With the internet, that “we” has expanded to the far reaches of the globe…before the subject can mount a defense, a 1,000-word photo pronouncing their guilt may have already gone viral.  Stacking the deck in favor of the already advantaged police, the photos discourage empathy in favor of judgment…this humiliation becomes just another manifestation of punishment…The press partakes readily in this ritual debasement, the most respectable of media outlets eagerly distributing the state’s unflattering photos, of people who have yet to be convicted of anything, on the front page and on the evening news and on dedicated websites that feature nothing but mugshots…

Uncommon Sense (TW3 #420)

After months of negotiations, [German politicians]…agreed the final details of a new law governing sex work…but prostitutes say it isn’t fit for [the] purpose…Undine de Rivière…[of the] sex workers’ union BeSD…[said] the rule requiring sex workers to be registered with the authorities…was unacceptable…[as is] requiring prostitutes to have a doctor’s note…while sex workers are happy to discuss measures that can help them practice their profession and maintain their health, they want them on their terms…

Wise Investment (TW3 #440)

Much more of this, please:

A metro Atlanta dominatrix…is suing a…private investigator for secretly filming their…session…Lakenya Monfort…contends Reginald Walker…posed as…[a] client…[and used a] hidden…video-camera to record the session without Monfort’s knowledge…[to use] as evidence against Monfort in her child-custody case…Georgia law…prohibits secretly…video-recording someone in a place where he or she has a reasonable expectation of privacy…

The Notorious Badge (#452) 

50 shades of clusterfuck:

…the press tour for…50 Shades of Grey [is] now firmly established as among the most disastrous of the past decade…The most glaring problem…is [that]…romantic leads Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan do not like each other…A routine visit to TODAY takes on the excruciating air of a court-ordered couples therapy session…It is not difficult to picture Dornan and Johnson luring one another into a “Red Room of Pain.”  It stretches the capacity of the imagination to think that both would emerge alive…[both]…routinely display discomfort…when talking about sex…Dornan [said]…”I had to do stuff to her that I’d never choose to do to a woman…The first day…was kind of an out-of-body experience…I’m like, ‘What the fuck is happening?  I’m a dad.  What?’…

The way Dornan repeatedly mentions his child, as if to provide a ward against evil, is fascinating in a Victorian kind of way.

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Any politician or law enforcement agent who believes that criminalizing both suppliers and buyers of sex will improve the safety of sex workers and their clients is delusional.  –  Charles Hill

He or She?

A new study scheduled for publication in Psychological Science provides strong evidence that trans children’s understanding of their own gender identities is indistinguishable from that of their…cisgender…peers…running counter to common assumptions that trans kids are “pretending” or “confused” about their gender…the researchers assigned the same set of tasks to 32 trans children, 18 of their siblings, and 32 nontrans children, all aged 5-12…”Across all these tasks, across the more and the less controllable measures of gender development, our transgender participants look just like other kids, but in the direction of their gender identity rather than their sex assigned at birth”…

In other words, all kids who identified as female performed similarly to each other on the tests whether they were biologically female or not, and all the kids who identified as male performed more like each other than like the girls.

See How Well It Works?Cuckoo Clock McCain

“Cuckoo Clock” McCain ignores the collapse of the “gypsy whores” myth, insisting that the reason the Lost Tribe of Gomorrah failed to materialize in her backyard was because of her own hysteria:

“The Super Bowl, unfortunately, happens to be the largest human trafficking venue on the planet,” said Cindy McCain…”It’s gone on for decades unchecked,” said [FBI] Agent George Steuer…”When Arizona was awarded the Super Bowl, we had no human trafficking legislation on our books”…McCain said.  “Unless we were going to be racked with a dangerous Super Bowl, we had to get to work.”  It has worked, according to authorities…[though] there is no empirical evidence of an increase in trafficking during the Super Bowl, Steuer [pretends without presenting evidence that] his office has seen a “definite uptick in activity”…

Profound Mental Disabilities

Usually, it’s being submissive that they pretend is a mental illness:

…a 17-year-old girl…[was] in a car accident in 2008, [started] working as a dominatrix five years later, and a B.C. Supreme Court judge [decided] that…whipping people for a living…[instead] of “being a filmmaker or actress…showed a lack of ‘correct thinking’ and was proof she’d taken an unnecessary risk due to a loss of cognitive function from a moderate traumatic brain injury”…

Welcome To Our World (The Hits Keep Coming)

It never stops with whores:

Anyone helping homeless people by offering them travel money, shelter or food could face up to a year in prison…in Norway…Vidar Brien-Karlsen, Secretary of State…said it was necessary…as the police needed authority to crack down on those running begging networks as an organised business…

Can you smell the “trafficking” filth?

The Widening Gyre 

The last part of this item degenerates into “Swedish model” cheerleading, believe it or not:  “A [Utah politician] wants to give convicted child sex traffickers the…death penalty…He said he’s been working on bills to target prostitution…for years…”  And this barely-comprehensible muddle is as stupid as anything we’ve ever seen under this heading:

For the past three weeks…an R-storm warning has been in effect.  R-storm is a new multi-jurisdictional prostitution and sex trafficking operation…the women involved are not only at risk legally, they now face new risks on the street as guinea pigs for drugs dealers…”to test their products”…It’s that connection to other crimes…that R-storm is trying to fight…R-storm says…If you see behavior that looks suspicious, call your local police.

Puerile cop nomenclature, agency denial, demonization, the gateway myth, police-state propaganda…all in a few sentences!

Checklist 

The utterly ridiculous idea that a “sex buyer” is a particular kind of man that one can be “trained” to spot derives from the even more ludicrous notion that paying for sex is unusual and pathological:

One of Sweden’s largest hotel chains…has announced additional training for staff as part of a government initiative to counter prostitution in the hospitality industry…including watching an educational video designed to help them better identify clues that suggest plans to buy or sell sex…“It is incredibly important that there won’t be a witch hunt on individual customers”…[a hotel manager lied before advising]…all staff to call police immediately if they suspected prostitution…

Frequently Told Lies

The English Collective of Prostitutes has put out another debunking of prohibitionist myths; the more of these we see, the better.

Traffic Circle

It’s so good to see articles like this appearing in regular newspapers, especially when they quote me:

When media reports use the term “sex slave,” it sensationalizes rape and abduction…campaigns [against]…sex trafficking…end up making life more difficult and dangerous for sex workers…[because they] don’t differentiate between those who chose sex work versus those who are coerced…Take it from Maggie McNeill, a former sex worker who is now an activist and blogger.  She talks about how much of the data about…sex trafficking might be unreliable and how confounding the idea that all sex work is sex trafficking is problematic.  In an interview with Reason.com, McNeill says that until sex work is decriminalized, it’s difficult to have any real idea of how many sex workers are choosing the work versus needing to versus being forced into it.  Not having reliable data hasn’t stopped countless…organizations from bold…unsupported claims…

Property of the State Purvi Patel

Purvi Patel…faces two different, and contradictory, charges after suffering a premature delivery and seeking medical care.  The story…[gives] a frightening look of what’s to come as increasingly draconian abortion restrictions force pregnant people to turn to other, sometimes illegal and often dangerous, means…Patel went to an emergency room in…Indiana…for vaginal bleeding…prosecutors allege…she told staff she believed she was roughly two months pregnant and miscarried the fetus at home…Prosecutors initially charged Patel with felony neglect of a dependent, a class A felony that carries with it a 50-year prison sentence.  But in order to convict Patel with felony neglect, prosecutors must be able to prove the fetus she delivered was born alive…That’s why they have also charged Patel with feticide…

Vendetta (#432)

Swanee Hunt’s private pogrom has been moved up to January so cops can vomit out the lie that it has something to do with the Super Bowl:

A national coalition of local law enforcement agencies conducted a sting operation that led to the arrests of 570 would-be sex buyers…and 23 pimps or traffickers, Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced…The ninth “National Day of Johns Arrests” ran for approximately two weeks, from January 15 through February 1…

Who but a government functionary would see nothing wrong with calling a two-week period a “day”?  The article boasts that the program has “grown rapidly”, and here’s why: “$341,330 in minimum fines…221 cars towed/forfeited…

Something Rotten in Sweden (#445)

Professor Hill strikes again:

…The last people that clients and/or sex workers who have been beaten, robbed, threatened, stalked or raped are going to go to are law enforcement agents…because [the latter] are actively seeking to arrest them and (in the case of clients) seize their assets…there is no reliable data to suggest that more than a small minority of sex workers are coerced or “trafficked”.  The often cited “statistics” on trafficking in sex work do not stand up under scrutiny and are systematically misquoted and exaggerated by NGOs and other interested groups in order to elicit funding and political support for…the abolition of all sex work for moral reasons.  One misleading statistic that keeps making the rounds is the claim that there are 300,000 minors being trafficked for sex in the United States…This figure is mathematically implausible since it represents 1 in every 50 girls in the US between the ages of 12 and 18…[such] estimates have been widely criticized as inflated and absurd…

Safe Targets (#452)

Terra [sic] Burns…is…a graduate student who studies the sex industry, and…[an activist] with…Community United for Safety and Protection, which opposes [bad] human trafficking laws…“Most of the people [charged]…have been women who have been working together”…says Burns….[who] thinks the law should be amended so those who work in the sex industry of their own volition are not…entrapped by [cops]…Burns launched a “Tilt” crowdfunding campaign three weeks ago…to raise $1,500 to pay for Burns to live out of a camper in Juneau for a month…[as] a…lobbyist…[a prohibitionist politician lied that an anti-whore law]…“doesn’t touch…voluntary sex workers in any way, shape, or form”…

Secret Squirrel (#509)

Note the starkly different tone when the stalker is a woman:

I can’t remember exactly when I decided to start Geotagging my partner…It wasn’t that I didn’t trust him; I just wanted to build on that trust with cold hard evidence.  Friends who think my behaviour is creepy, controlling or borderline obsessive have pointed out that just because you know where someone is doesn’t mean they are not in that place cheating on you.  That’s true, but this is something which means he’d have a harder time getting away with it…This isn’t…invading his privacy…If he had refused to use it, I would only presume he had something to hide…

The More the Better (#509)

Cracked continues its run of excellent pro-sex worker articles with “5 Ways Being a Legal Prostitute Is Weirder Than You Think“:

We didn’t expect to become the Internet’s primary source for insider perspectives on sex workers, but life is funny that way.  In our quest to understand society’s weird love/hate relationships with prostitutes, we’ve talked to those working outside the law and the few who ply their trade in legal brothels, and the consistent theme seems to be that it can be an awful job, but only because polite society insists on making it awfula…legal brothel worker…walked us through some of the bizarre rules, regulations, and everyday bullshit that pervades every aspect of their lives.  It really made it clearer than ever that the concept of someone accepting money for sex just scares the shit out of people…

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[When we fail to] require lawyers and courts to base arguments on real evidence…not conjecture or faux science…we give government unlimited power to mandate harmful laws, with no recourse for those whose lives or health are jeopardized.  –  Kathryn Kolbert

Don’t Confuse Us With Facts

Compare the judge’s comments about Rue to those made by Judge Himel about Melissa Farley:

…the U.S. Court of Appeals…heard oral arguments in a Texas case challenging the constitutionality of an abortion law, H.B. 2, that has shuttered half the abortion clinics in the state…Judge Catharina Haynes…questioned whether the law was medically justified…“Are we saying if you can find someone in the world to say we need marble floors in an abortion clinic, then that would be good enough to allow the Texas legislature to pass that?”…in recent abortion cases across the country, that is indeed what state attorneys are doing when they hire Vincent Rue, the pioneering junk scientist  behind “post-abortion syndrome”…Rue, discredited by courts decades ago, has since made a career as a behind-the-scenes litigation consultant…Judge Daniel Huyett found that Rue’s testimony “…is not credible…Moreover, his admitted personal opposition to abortion, even in cases of rape and incest, suggests…personal bias”…In…the Texas trial…the state was caught red-handed:  Four of the state’s five expert witnesses were forced to change their testimony on the stand when confronted with emails showing they had lied about who had written their reports…

The More the BetterBetty White nude

Recognize this young lovely?  She’s one of America’s best-loved comic actresses, Betty White, practically a symbol of wholesomeness and niceness.  And she started her career by posing nude in the early ’40s.  I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to discover this; it’s yet another refutation of the Madonna/whore dichotomy and a demonstration of the ubiquity of sex work and the fact that sex workers aren’t mostly pathetic victims.

A Broker in Pillage

Translation of the last line:  “Let us keep your car or cash and we won’t publish your name and picture.”  The quaint non-“law enforcement” term for this is “blackmail”.

…HB713 would allow [cops] to [steal] a car or other property that was [nearby during] a first-time prostitution…offense.  Right now, property can only be [stolen] for a felony prostitution charge…the Texas Department of Public Safety [pretends] there’s a link between human trafficking and prostitution…Property…could be used as part of a deal in settling a case with the person arrested…

Above the Law 

criminally-charged drug court participants were forced into sexual activity by drug court officer Winfred Eugene Vance Jr. and…Vance’s supervisors did nothing to stop it…Vance blackmailed drug court participants into sexual activity after the participants were threatened with a false failed drug test that could lead to jail time if they did not comply…

Naked Truth

Articles from sex workers, telling the truth about sex work, continue to appear in more mainstream venues.  This one from transgender sex worker Diana Hemingway, entitled “9 Things I Learned in My First Year as a Sex Worker“, does a lot to bust stereotypes and reiterate what I say repeatedly:  sex workers aren’t intrinsically different from others, and sex work is work.

First They Came for the Hookers…

A particularly-blatant example of how sex prohibition never stops with whores:

A couple who lost their teenage daughter to prostitution is now speaking out against a proposed [strip club] in Regina.  Nearly 25 years ago, Ed and Linda Smith’s daughter was killed at age 18…  “We’re opposed to this strip club…not only will it be demeaning to women by treating them as…a commodity, it will also have a huge negative impact on the men who attend”…said Ed Smith…[who is] a regular speaker at “John schools” in Saskatchewan…

The Widening Gyre 

“Sex trafficking” is caused by commercials!

A Youth Exploitation Safety Symposium aimed at keeping young people safe from human trafficking is scheduled…Keynote speaker Nicole Clark will explore media’s negative effects on girls’ self image and self-esteem, from oversexualization to the pressures to be thin and pretty…

Bottleneck (#313)

This licensing law was sold as a way to “protect” women:

Saskatoon has imposed a temporary freeze on issuing adult services licences, something the operator of a local brothel says is a “very big mistake” and will force the city’s sex workers to resort to illegal and “sketchy” ways of making a living…Canada’s new prostitution laws…now make reference to “offering, providing or obtaining sexual services”…no licences will be renewed until the city determines whether it needs to change its bylaw in light of [this]…

Still a Child 

Agency denial, pimp mythologizing, ludicrous numbers and the other typical trappings are used to divert the reader’s attention from the fact that the “sex trafficked child” who is “rescued” by an “FBI Child Exploitation Task Force” in this story is 18, which the last time I checked is still a legal adult in every part of the United States.

Drawing Lines

A particularly loathsome example of a porn performer trying to pretend she isn’t a whore, because whores are degraded and disgusting and she’s pimped by big companies.  Bonus hypocrisy points: it’s well-known that, like many in her profession, she escorts on the side.

Consider this her nomination to the Hall of Shame.

Facts in the Case of Monica Jones

Monica Jones’ conviction was overturned on appeal:

Defendant-Appellant Monica Renee Jones…was convicted in Phoenix Municipal Court of manifesting an intent to commit…prostitution.  Defendant contends as follows: (1) the trial court abused its discretion in admitting evidence of her prior conviction; (2) the trial court erred in considering her potential punishment in assessing her credibility; (3) the trial court erred in not holding a jury trial; and (4) the trial court erred in holding the city code constitutional.  For the following reasons, this Court vacates the judgment of guilt…

Skewed By Taboo

Another, very thorough look at how the GSS and similar surveys are absolutely useless on sexual topics:

…One of the many reasons sex is puzzling is that we lack reliable data.  People lie to friends, lovers, doctors, surveys and themselves…[in] the General Social Survey…Heterosexual men 18 and over say that they average 63 sex acts per year, using a condom in 23 percent of them.  This adds up to more than 1.6 billion heterosexual condom uses per year.  Heterosexual women say they average 55 sex acts per year, using a condom in 16 percent of them.  This adds up to about 1.1 billion heterosexual condom uses per year…[but] fewer than 600 million condoms are sold every year…About 11 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 44 say they are sexually active, not currently pregnant and not using contraception.  Even with relatively conservative assumptions about how many times they are having sex, we would expect 10 percent to become pregnant every month.  But this would already be more than the total number of pregnancies in the United States…

Traffic in Nonsense

There are actually several of these “anti-trafficking” trucker groups:

…“Truckers Against Trafficking” [are]…teaming up with the Iowa Department of Transportation to educate those who know the roads best…officer Jared Arbegast is reaching out to give more awareness to the…nearly 300,000 young people at risk of being trafficked for sex each year…They say this can happen anywhere there is a large gathering of people, for example major sporting events…TAT recommends that if you do encounter a sex trafficker, do not approach them, instead notify the police…photos of “Victims” and pimp would be great…

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It’s no exaggeration to describe Elizabeth Nolan Brown as one of the strongest, most stalwart allies of sex workers writing today; she covers several sex work stories per week in her space at Reason, and never flinches or missteps.  Regular readers have seen me praise her in many a news item, so I’m sure y’all can guess that I was thrilled when she agreed to contribute my first guest spot of 2015. 

If You Give a Masochist a Cookie

Elizabeth N BrownIt wouldn’t be quite accurate to say I had my first kinky boyfriend at age 25.  My most significant college beau and I dabbled in all sorts of not-totally-vanilla play, from ice cubes and hot wax to strangling and faux non-consent.  But for the most part, these endeavors felt clumsy and inauthentic, two 19-year-olds parroting what we thought kinky* sex was supposed to be.  For years after that, I dated people who seemed perfectly content with perfectly “normal” sex lives—I think the kinkiest thing I did with my post-college boyfriend was watch the Paris Hilton sex tape together before fucking.  I wasn’t unsatisfied, at least not with the sex (monogamy, my friends, is another story).  But I also had no idea what I was missing.  And then along came the man I’ll call “Chris”.  He had a beautiful body, a giant cock, and a sexy voice, but easily the best part about him when it came to sex was that he knew what he liked and wanted.  These days I still loathe asking men to do this or roleplay that in bed, because as it turns out I have a very strong sexually submissive streak.  But I couldn’t have told you that at the time–I didn’t have the vocabulary.  I needed someone like Chris not because I was hesitant to ask for what I wanted, but because I honestly had no idea what that was.

Thank goodness Chris and I were on the same kink wavelength—had my first dom liked dressing in leather, or insisted I call him master, or been into ball-gags and caning, I may have balked and thrown the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak; I don’t mean to disparage any of these activities, but they are just not for me.  Instead, Chris and I sometimes role-played realistic situations where he might be in a position of power over me—boss, professor, etcetera.  I remember one time asking, early on, if he was going to punish me, and his answer was an emphatic “no”—punishment was cruel, he explained; what he was meting out was “discipline.”  Part of this discipline involved him slapping me across the face from time to time during sex; I loved it, and I fell in love with him.  For the first time in the history of my sex life, I was never, ever bored during sex.  The relationship with Chris didn’t last, but my conviction that I needed a little kink in my sex life did.  Not all the time, mind you—I am not a fetishist.  But I am also never going to last with someone who isn’t at least a little bit dominant, a little bit weird, and a little bit rough in bed.

The reason I bring all this up has to do with a series of tweets I saw from Jillian Keenan in late December.  Earlier in the year she wrote for Slate about enjoying being spanked, an essay she called “the first piece that truly demanded courage” for her to publish.  Why should Keenan, a seasoned writer published in places such as The Atlantic, The Washington Post, and the New Yorker, feel such trepidation admitting to such a little thing as liking spanking?  Especially in these post-50 Shades of Gray times in which we live?

A few incidents give us a clue, the first involving 50 Shades film actor Jamie Dornan.  Dornan recently told Elle magazine that after visiting a dungeon for research, he had to take a “long shower” before touching his wife or child.  Despite starring in a movie about BDSM, Dorman apparently thinks he can catch kink cooties just by being near people who like a little real life BDSM action.  The other incidents comes from Keenan herself, who relayed them in the aforementioned series of tweets.  An acquaintance “apparently used to hang out in a building with an adjacent dungeon, and watched people as they entered and left it.”  The dude’s “major takeaway—the biggest ‘shock’ of watching this dungeon entrance—he repeated several times: ‘They were all businessmen!’chocolate chips  Another person Keenan had talked with recently, a private investigator, was shocked when she followed a man to an “S&M party” and found that “they served cookies there!  At this S&M thing—cookies!”  Keenan concluded, “Stigma is subtle, but it’s real…We’re still seen as ‘creepy’ anomalies rather than as what we are:  cookie-eating, job-having humans.”

Since my time with Chris, I’ve encountered all sorts of respectable, cookie-eating, job-having humans who enjoyed engaging in any number of kinky activities (many of which I went along with, some which I did not).  There was the amiable real estate agent and local kickball star obsessed with face-fucking, enemas, faux-incest, and someday having a submissive housewife.  There was the professor and family man who liked to leave me dirty messages about tying me up and cumming on my face.  There was the high-powered lawyer who flew women from around the country to an apartment decorated with expensive bondage art and featuring a medieval-looking spanking chair and a wide assortment of canes.  There was the sadistic civil liberties activist who genuinely scared (and also thrilled) me with his unflinching roughness…the professionally-conservative couple who invited me into a threesome…the shy writer who wanted to pick out slutty clothing for me and then watch from afar as I paraded publicly in it.  There were run-of-the-mill rough-sex fans who worked in architecture, journalism, tech entrepreneurship, financial planning, education, construction.  A shocking (to me) number fantasized about watching a girlfriend with another man, sometimes multiple men.

Beyond the realm of my personal lovers, I’ve met more polyamorous people than I can count over the past few years.  I’ve lived with women really into whipping and spanking.  I’ve known lawyers and art curators and students to slip easily in and out of various forms of sex work.  I’ve also never gone to any sort of kink meetup, joined any sort of fetish website, or otherwise specifically sought these people, with the exception of one Craigslist paramour.  When you open up with friends and lovers about kink, it’s kind of amazing what you can uncover.  Most people have at least some sexual fantasies that are much “weirder” than the easily-scandalized would dream.  And the kinkiest people I’ve known are the sorts you’d never suspect if your idea of kink only involves large women in leather corsets and “creepy” losers in flasher trenchcoats.

Regular readers of Maggie’s blog are certain to be unsurprised by any of this—I know I am preaching to the proverbial choir here.  But while I’ve hinted around about my own kinky side previously, I suppose I’ve never come right out online and said it.  I’ve certainly never noted the normalcy of all my own kinky lovers and friends.  And in the interest of doing my little part for destigmatizing, it’s probably about damn time I did so.  Am I feeling a little of the trepidation Keenan felt when admitting to an enthusiasm for spanking?  Of course.  I’m a professional writer, also, often about quite serious subjects.  And there are those who will use any hint of sexual “deviance” to try and discredit you.  As a woman, there are those who will use writing about your sex life at all as evidence you’re not fit for more intellectual pursuits.  But to bluntly use one of my favorite idioms:  fuck that noise.  My vagina and my competence actually have very little bearing on one another.  And isn’t that the crux of the kink issue?  People want certain sexual activities to stand for so, so, so much more than they do.

To those who can’t imagine liking bondage, group sex, submission, latex, cuckolding, strap-ons, spanking, or whatever, enjoying any of these things must be part of some pathology, or at least indicative of more widespread weirdness.  (Much the same way people think about sex workers who don’t fit their victim narrative.)  But sometimes sex is just sex; turn-ons are just turn-ons.  They say nothing about who someone is as a person, what their life must be like, or their larger value system.  They reveal nothing more than that someone likes bondage, group sex, submission, etcetera.  Human beings contain multitudes, y’all.  And even sexual sadists eat cookies.

*I kind of hate lumping all sorts of dissimilar sexual activities together under the term “kink”, but for purposes of this essay it will have to do. I’m equally un-fond of describing some sex as “vanilla”, but (like hipster) it’s an imperfect yet appropriately connotative term.

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