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All the News That’s Fit to Print.  –  motto of The New York Times

The 24-hour news cycle made possible in the late ’80s by the popularity of cable TV is a veritable tortoise in comparison with the speed with which a story can break, develop and be over on the internet.  On cable, it was only possible to report the news within hours; feedback still largely progressed at the speed of snail mail (and a few phone calls).  But on the internet, a story once broken is within hours linked from many other places; it is then spread and critiqued on social media, and if the response is negative enough the original publisher may try to cram it down the memory hole.  From start to finish, the whole process can be completed while a third of internet users are asleep, depending on which time zone the posting site calls home.  A particularly striking example started last Thursday, and it was made all the more startling by the fact that it should never have been published in the first place.Brodie Sinclair

At 20:26 PDT Thursday, a rather nasty gossip post went up on Gawker:

David Geithner, brother of ex-Obama Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, is currently the chief financial officer of Condé Nast.  This past weekend, he’d planned to go to Chicago—where he planned to meet a gay porn star and escort for “2-3 hours” at a cost of $2,500.  But…the escort—who does not want to reveal his identity for professional reasons, but whom we will call Ryan—says he bailed on the date with the married (to a woman) father of three because Geithner declined to use his influence to help with a housing dispute…

That’s right, Gawker outed a non-politician who has no record of public statements attacking either gay people or sex workers.  And that’s not all:

…The escort then went to Gawker’s Jordan Sargent, who gleefully carried out the blackmail threat by publishing the story and (presumably) outing Geithner…Gawker’s commenters—and nearly all of Twitter—seem to agree that ruining Geithner’s life was excessively, baselessly cruel.  Geithner is not a government official; he is not running for office; he does not have a record of hypocrisy on gay issues.  The usual excuses one could propose to justify such treatment don’t really apply here.  Some Gawker writers are defending the story; others are not.  Natasha Vargas-Cooper, a writer for Gawker affiliate Jezebel, wrote: “Stories don’t need an upside.  Not everyone has to feel good about the truth.  If it’s true, you publish…I’m EXTREMELY suspicious of those who do not want press to have an antagonistic relationship to people in power.”  That’s a fair point, but it doesn’t come close to justifying the decision to turn a family’s struggles into front page news.  There’s just no compelling public interest here whatsoever…

By Friday morning, “Ryan” had himself been outed as Derek Truitt, whose stage name is Brodie Sinclair:

…regardless of how you feel about outing a public figure who’s attempting to break the law, the bigger and more important question for Gawker might be this:  What the fuck were they doing using a batshit insane conspiracy theorist as the sole source and entire catalyst for their story?…Brodie Sinclair, it so happens, is an absolute nut with a Facebook page that might make Alex Jones blush.  The even nuttier part?  Gawker acknowledges having looked at Sinclair’s Facebook pagecrazy truitt, which means they saw all of his insanity and still trusted him with his Geithner story anyway…

And by 18:04 EDT Friday, less than 19 hours after it started the whole debacle, Gawker tried to shove it down the memory hole:

Gawker.com said Friday afternoon it was removing an article about the CFO of Conde Nast allegedly soliciting sex from a gay porn star.  The decision came after the news and gossip site drew heavy criticism Friday for revealing life-changing details about a private individual’s life, for no clear social purpose…

But even while doing so, Gawker editor-in-chief Max Read tried to defend the original decision to publish the article:

the justification for this story offered by Gawker editor-in-chief Max Read is utterly laughable, and it’s grounded in a premise that is very common when people want to wallow in others’ private lives, yet incredibly toxic…Gawker is simply on the prowl to locate and punish adulterers who are vandalizing the sanctity of their marital vows.  It’s just about solemn retribution for sinners…the wife of this CFO is a victim.  Read is posing as her chivalrous defender:  he only published this article to avenge the wrong done to her.  There’s even the strangely sexist formulation to his vow: Gawker, he declares, will always “report on married [] executives of major media companies fucking around on their wives.”  What about when the cheating executives are women and the spouse is a man?  He doesn’t say.  His self-proclaimed mission is to protect this little lady from the harm that has been inflicted on her…But…Max Read has absolutely no idea what this CFO’s wife knows about what her husband does, nor does he have any idea what agreement or arrangement they have governing their marriage.  Nor should he know, because it’s none of his business…It’s possible the wife is a victim of his private behavior, but it’s also very possible there are no victims and he did absolutely nothing wrong…

As of this morning, the dust has yet to finish settling; it’ll be very interesting indeed to see the ultimate effect of the fallout.

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Hawk Kinkaid is the founder and president of HOOK, the association for male sex workers; he’s also the chief operating officer of Rentboy.com.  I met him at a panel discussion a few months ago and was impressed with his personality and intelligence, and since the views of male sex workers are not often represented on this blog I asked him to contribute this guest column.

Does the sex worker movement need men?  No.  Hawk Kinkaid

There.  I wrote it.  It’s what I feel like I’ve always wanted to say when people (frequently) ask me how men and women in the sex industry are different, or why there don’t appear to be many men at conferences or marches.  This is what they are getting at:  what place do men have in the movement, if any at all?  I don’t think it should come as a shock that the movement to decriminalize the American sex industry has rarely involved cisgender men, never actively sought out their participation, and most definitely never needed us to make the incredible strides and achievements made thus far.  The many regional and national programs which seek to represent and provide space for people in the sex industry haven’t needed men to drive significant shifts in raising awareness and developing programs for some of our culture’s most unjust abuses against sex workers (ranging from misogyny, homophobia and transphobia to immigration abuse, coercion, HIV and drug addiction).

Yet at the same time, there is so much left to do.  The same movement that has achieved so much still struggles against potent social stigmas and the shifting sands of public opinion; it has failed to build coalitions that support sexworker-sensitive legislation; and it is currently losing the battle against a polluted “anti-trafficking” sex-negative abolitionist wave.  Perhaps the question of “need” itself needs to be reframed.  What, in fact, do we need?  All of the programs I know have disparate and unique agendas representing their specific constituencies; the lack of a unified agenda appears to be the natural result of a complex network of organizations and networks, mostly at the grassroots level, all working toward independent goals serving their own communities.  This makes sense when you consider the entire legacy:  Our culture still revels in the archaic world where cisgender feminine sexual agency and persona must be policed, interrogated and incarcerated, and many of today’s programs started in response to local initiatives related to these injustices.  These programs range from the important community work of Maggie’s in Toronto, to the St. James Infirmary’s health care services in San Francisco, to NYC’s Sex Workers Project legal support, to HIPS’ DC needle exchange, and each is tied at some level into grant money, foundations and more.

In this tangled network of conferences and fundraisers, the one thing that fractures a conversation faster than an inappropriately placed pronoun is the perception of privilege.  This doesn’t only affect cisgender white men like myself; it is similarly shared by cisgender white women with economic success, or women who work in one particular segment of the industry over another, and so on.  But what happens if the movement is solely focused on messages that exclude sex workers with financial success and social capital (intentionally or otherwise)?  Recently, I was at an event at which a speaker began with a long preamble acknowledging all the elements of privilege we already recognized; I’m sure many in the audience welcomed the overture’s humble tones and quasi-martyrdom, but I tried to imagine the men I work with – the ones dancing in speedos on bars on the weekend, the ones shooting porn for amateur foot fetish sites, the ones working webcams between study sessions, the ones who are traipsing from city to city – feeling like they need to apologize for lives they don’t perceive as at all privileged before they can even speak.  This isn’t to absolve them of their inability to recognize the privileges their status as cisgender white men does, in fact, carry, but what movement has an official guide on how to allow for this?

Will & GraceUsing the LGBT movement as a limited parallel, we can see that recent strides in gay marriage most frequently benefit people who are already in privileged enough positions to normalize.  LGBT people of color, low-income or immigrant LGBT people and trans people struggle for attention in a movement whose focus is now dominated by those seeking respectability through monogamous heteronormativity…and sex work isn’t even a consideration.  When the photos of LGBT success surface the most privileged are always in the front row, buying tickets to the biggest of the celebrations and being asked to pose for the local newspapers, while the less privileged continue to struggle at the bottom.  Yet at the same time, the swift rise to civil rights got much of its momentum from privilege; whether from mainstream pop culture like Will and Grace, or via the murder of a young white man on a Wyoming fence, shifts in the public conversation occurred whenever a certain audience in America perceived something as close to home.  Getting the public to feel invested in the struggles of a minority group invariably fuels significant change.  I’m not advocating that Americans lean on their prejudices in order to justify change; I’d like to think this isn’t the only way forward for a movement, but I’d be ignoring past behavior if I failed to suggest we can learn from example.  And this time, can we please do it better and smarter, and avoid repeating the exacerbation of privilege?  Can we forge a divergent path that is more inclusive, more diverse, and more accepting of transgressiveness than the LGBT community has delivered?  Funding from foundations and government agencies often comes with sex-negative strings; if we enlarge our tent to include successful industry professionals we could potentially avoid the limitations inherent in organizational funding.  In the LGBT rights movement, for example, several porn company professionals bankrolled marriage movement campaigns; is there a place for them in advancing sex worker rights?  What about the high-earning porn performers or escorts I know taking in six-figure incomes?  Businesses historically uninterested in sex workers’ civil rights are starting to change their tune as they themselves come under fire; isn’t that an opportunity to broaden our tent?

I don’t know what place men have within the sex worker rights movement, even though I have been a collaborator and contributor to it for nearly two decades.  We may not be needed in the movement as it is today, but once there is a unified approach that acknowledges that those who work in the industry represent an inorganic cluster of privileges and injustices, it will be possible to develop a plan that all individuals working in the sex industry view as valuable, attainable and comprehensible.  We are, after all, in this together.

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If a woman is to be believed when she asserts that she did not consent to sex, it follows that she must be believed when she asserts that she did.  –  Pandora Blake and Niki Adams

The Red Umbrella 

A lady suspected to be a prostitute has been beaten by a client…in Accra [Ghana].  According to reports, the unknown young man picked the lady up…and they had a sexual marathon…The man then suggested they go to his house…to finish off the business…but…instead of receiving her wage for the job, she received severe beatings from her client.  Her screams drew the attention of neighbours who came to her rescue…the young man is insisting he never had sex with her…

Dirty Amateurs

Anything that increases the number of amateurs having amateur sex (such as criminalizing sex work) invariably increases the STI rate:

The Rhode Island Department of Health…released data…showing that the rates of HIV and several other STDs are increasing…from 2013 to 2014…The number of infectious syphilis cases increased by 79%…The number of gonorrhea cases increased by 30%…The number of newly-identified HIV cases increased by nearly 33%…The increase has been attributed to…high-risk behaviors that have become more common in recent years…[including] using social media to arrange casual and often anonymous sexual encounters, having sex without a condom…and having sex while under the influence of drugs or alcohol…

Don’t Take My Word For It

This sounds interesting on its face, but keep in mind how abysmally bad most sex work research is; note the small sample and highly questionable methodology.

Women are buying more sex than ever before, according to new research…[which] found that women who pay for sex come from all ages [and] backgrounds and it appears that one of the main reason for the transaction is they lack the time for a relationship.  Researchers…spoke to 21 escorts and are now seeking female customers to continue their study.  The study…found that advertisement profiles of men rose from 5,246 in 2010 to 15,732 this year.  Female profiles rose from 11,056 to 28,614 over the same period…

Under Every Bed 

Grodd

Though most of this is the usual hilarious pearl-clutching hysteria, note the sinister propaganda that “drug dealers are shifting to sex trafficking”; in other words, “authorities” are just using a new excuse to target the same victims they always have:

…Panelists at a forum…told a full room at Beloit Public Library…that human trafficking takes place, even in Beloit [Wisconsin, population 37,000]…“We have drug dealers shifting over to human trafficking as their crime of choice,” said Milwaukee County Prosecutor Christopher Ladwig…Sgt. Theresa Janick of the Milwaukee Police Department has worked undercover in the Sensitive Issues Unit that includes prostitution…“The average age for girls entering into human sex trafficking is 12…”The gorilla pimp…beats on his own chest”…Guns and more violent problems are all wrapped up into one giant crime scene…“Pimps…use mind control”…Detective Joe Cassioppi of the Beloit Police Department [made up] a local case of sex trafficking in which a mother of three was first victimized by an online trafficker in Ohio, then began victimizing her own children…Cassioppi said the mother in this case is now serving 30 years in prison [but presented no names or links to the story]…

My favorite bit is the pimp gorilla with mind-control powers.

Deafening Silence

“Rectification” is a particularly horrifying euphemism:

Beijing Police has ordered six entertainment venues to suspend trading for rectification after being found involved with alleged prostitution and gambling…[this] is the first major raid…in the Chinese capital this year…police has clamped down 68 criminal groups and captured more than 600 criminals charged with prostitution…

Policing for Profit 

At least they’re not pretending that this money is being paid “back” to anyone:

A brothel madam who earned a fortune running an Edinburgh prostitution racket has agreed to hand over £1m.  Margaret Paterson, 62, was jailed for five years in 2013…The crown brought an action to seize any crime profits from Paterson and a…settlement [has] been reached in the case…

Opting Out

Now, this is an interesting development:

…A leaked EU document showed that David Cameron’s approach to online pornography – have it banned by default and make people opt in – has not been viewed in positive terms in Brussels…with the EU reportedly considering making the PM’s plan illegal.  Instead, the European officials would opt for a system that allows pornography by default with users, then being able to opt into a deal where the ISP blocks such content.  The user would also be able to back out of the agreement with the ISP at any time…It [would] at least partially…[ease] the burden on ISPs who have had to deal with numerous issues thanks to the Tory government’s blanket approach…

Fever DreamTBI logo

You may remember the TBI’s bogus “sex trafficking report” from several years ago:

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation announced results of a week-long operation to…identify potential victims of trafficking, arrest those seeking to purchase illicit sex, and learn more about the specific nuances of this type of crime…Governor Bill Haslam signed…a…law giving TBI original jurisdiction over investigations of human trafficking [and]…the state legislature approved funding for four Special Agents, who will exclusively investigate human trafficking cases…the TBI and Vanderbilt University partnered on in-depth studies to better understand the scope of human trafficking in Tennessee…

The idea that cops are interested in the “nuances” of sex work is an insult to the intelligence of anyone who has ever been involved in it in any capacity.

Original Sin (#407)

I’m sick of hearing otherwise-reasonable people declare that the use of violence to suppress consensual adult behavior is something that’s up for “debate”:

Last week the New Statesman organised a debate on “buying and selling sex”…this debate was not about sex workers with different experiences trying to find common ground.  It was not about propping up a flawed binary between “happy hooker” and “helpless victim” (categories that are both used to silence sex workers who speak up).  And it wasn’t a stimulating academic conversation exploring ideological difference.  Sex work is a survival strategy used by real people…The campaign to criminalise clients, and the industry devoted to “rescuing” sex workers from their chosen source of income, is a moralistic crusade with financial and ideological connections to fundamentalist Christianity…Many of the organisations [involved]…oppose gay marriage, sex outside marriage, and abortion.  For example, the [APPG]…choose as its secretariat Care, a notorious Christian charity which sponsored conferences promising to [“cure”] gay people…During the debate, panelist Fiona Broadfoot showed her colours when she claimed that since clients were criminalised in Sweden, the country had become “less sexually deviant” because there was less prostitution.  Are we really going back to the days when consenting sex between adults, in this case where payment is involved, is labelled deviant?…

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sugar bowlOn the day my last diary appeared, I went to dinner with a potential sugar daddy; he was quite nice and I enjoyed our conversation, but unfortunately we couldn’t quite make a deal because he wanted more time than I could give for the money he was offering, and I wanted more money than he could give for the time he wanted.  C’est la vie; this was only my second attempt, and it felt a lot closer to something that could work than my first one did.  Last week I was also contacted by several readers due to last Monday’s bald statement of my return to sex work; it did wonders for my ego, let me tell you!  And now you readers that missed that column may want to act on it as well!

On Wednesday, I went to dinner at the home of one of the SWOP members, and it made me realize how truly amazing the sex worker community here in Seattle is.  Most of my friends here are sex workers; we see each other often, socialize with each other, visit each other and help each other.  And that is simply not the norm in this country; in most cities one might have a couple of sex worker friends or see each other at SWOP meetings, but the sense of community here is like nothing I’ve seen in any other US city (and remember, I visited quite a few last summer).  It’s one of the reasons I chose to relocate to Seattle; I really wanted to share in that, and I think it will really help me get into the right mindset to write my big book.  Oh, speaking of activism, I was on a panel that spoke to a class at the University of Washington last Thursday night; the other members were Danielle Askini of the Gender Justice League, Tobi Hill-Meyer of both GJL and SWOP, and Hawk Kinkaid of HOOK and Rentboy.com.  I asked Hawk if he’d like to do a guest column on male sex work soon, and he said he would; that will probably appear in July.

Today I’ve got a photo shoot with Mistress Matisse; I’m sure y’all are all anxiously awaiting the results!  And all this week, Jae will be working to turn my office into a comfortable space for writing, giving interviews and the like; I’m anxiously awaiting the results of that!

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Sex work is neither contagious nor a pathology.  –  Eva Gantz

Whores and Wives

I’m usually a very empathetic person, but I just can’t feel anything but pity for women who insist on willfully misunderstanding male sexuality, the nature of intimacy and the escort-client relationship despite ample materials that explain these online.  And you know what?  If this kind of maudlin schlock weren’t used to justify state violence while far-more-dangerous amateur cheating gets a free pass, I still might even manage to dredge up a teacupful of sympathy:

Contrary to popular belief, they come from all walks of life…Nor are they all lonely men seeking solace; many have partners and are in long-term relationships or marriages…Numerous academic studies and articles have explored the demographics of punters and sex workers, the horrors of trafficking, and the merits or otherwise of decriminalising prostitution.  But almost no attention has been paid to the partners of men who visit prostitutes…a growing number of…women…who discover their partner has been sleeping with prostitutes…are left feeling horribly isolated, with nowhere to turn…most of the men I spoke to…claimed feelings of undiminished love [for their wives].  Understandably, such hollow declarations neither reassured the women, nor repaired their sense of shame, grief and rejection.  Because there can be little as shocking as discovering that your trusted partner is paying for sex behind your back…

Lack of Evidence

Wild Guessing

Another marketing firm hard at work creating bogus prohibitionist “studies”:

…the NSPCC and ChildLine released the results of a survey suggesting that a tenth of 12- to 13-year-olds fear they are “addicted” to pornography.  Within days, the government had announced a new policy on internet restriction, justified in part by these statistics.  However, the NSPCC has been called out over the fact that these claims are alarmingly flimsy…The company that carried out the NSPCC-commissioned survey is a group called OnePoll, which specialises in generating “news angles and exposure for your brand”.  OnePoll is part of South West News Service (SWNS), a media group that offers “heartbreaking, random and shocking” content.  OnePoll was behind a recent survey revealing that “20% of people believe that smoking has improved their career opportunities”.  This one was commissioned by an E-cigarette company.  A poll commissioned during National Ferry Fortnight for Discover Ferries – which had just “invested heavily in improved seating” – revealed that travellers really hate aircraft seats.  You get the picture…

Don’t Take My Word For It

I realize one can’t expect quality journalism from YourTango, but this article entitled “I Went Undercover To See If A Girl Could Get Happy Ending Massage” is painfully dumb; from the author’s describing massage parlors as “a mixture of truth and urban legend that captivates male imaginations” [WTF?] to the eminently-predictable pomposity of licensed masseuses in the comment thread, the whole thing is a kiddie-train wreck.  Proceed at your own risk.

Broken Record 

Even the most ridiculous iterations of “gypsy whore” myth now contain disclaimers way down at the bottom:

With the biggest convention ever to hit Nashville — more than 70,000 members of the National Rifle Association are here this weekend for their annual meeting — law enforcement officials have prepared for what some see as the scourge of such large, male-dominated gatherings…Little data exists on the prevalence of trafficking.  Law enforcement often fails to categorize prostitutes who are voluntarily committing crimes separately from individuals who are being trafficked, under the duress of handlers.  As such, experts say there is little reliable data to prove or disprove that trafficking has spiked during large conventions or sports gatherings…

Note that the reporter’s tiny mind cannot conceive of pragmatic sex as being other than a “crime”, whether compelled or voluntary.

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (#312) APNSW anti-sweatshop logo

If people’s minds weren’t befuddled by prohibitionist idiocy, they wouldn’t be so confused by wholly predictable outcomes like this:

…Sex Workers…[in Zambia] show…no desire to abandon their…trade saying it gives them quick money to sustain their welfare as opposed to skills such as tailoring which take long for them to earn money…Agness Ng’andu…explained that her organisation had invested heavily in…sewing machines which are presently not being utilised…

Legal Is As Legal Does (#337)

Sex work is as legal in Christchurch as anywhere in New Zealand, but some would love it to be otherwise:

Christchurch street sex workers say not having access to basic toilet facilities while working makes them feel like “scum”.  Toilets near Manchester St have long been a contentious subject…plans [to install some] were thwarted by nearby residents…The nearest are…locked at night.  Women have to ask clients to drop them at toilets at service stations, or go behind bushes.  Auckland University…professor…Tracey McIntosh said the lack of facilities reinforced to sex workers that they are “seen as a blight on the city scape”…

Sex Rays

Tech and sex work have an uneasy relationship that traces back through decades…Sex work is seen as something to be kept as far away from women in tech as possible…I recently attended a meetup for women in digital currency…a woman [there]…told me casually, as if it were the most obvious conclusion in the world, “the underlying reason for gender discrimination in tech is porn.  That’s the root of it all.”  My face must have given me away, because she prompted, “don’t you agree?”  No.  No, I don’t agree in the slightest.  For one, the assessment reduces the incredibly complex issues of meritocracy, privilege, and misogyny into an oversimplified sound bite.  This view is every bit as reactionary as a conservative desire to regulate female sexuality…Even just the proximity of association with sex workers is too much to be borne…the…argument rests on the idea that if women in tech are viewed even in the same space as porn performers men will instantly see them as porn stars, too.  Not only does this insult the intelligence of men, but it also furthers the idea of sex work as contagion.  “Don’t get too close, or it might rub off on you”…

Moving Pictures

Maybe it’s just my peculiar sense of humor, but I find this weird mixture of lurid “sex trafficking” fantasy and technical-magazine writing terribly funny:

…More than three million women and children are slaves today.  In the dramatic narrative film, Don’t Look Away, the subject of sex trafficking—modern day slavery—is addressed head on.  Exploring the alltoocommon [sic] story of a young woman enslaved through tactics exploiting social networks, Don’t Look Away exposes the fertile hunting ground stalked by predators in the human trafficking trade…Don’t Look Away was filmed on location in Central Florida…The company consisted of over 20 crew members, 9 principal cast members and dozens of extras…Don’t Look Away was shot by…Michael Minock with the new VariCam 35 4K camera/recorder, provided by Panasonic…“We have an amazing opportunity to use our gifts and passions to forward the fight on sex trafficking,” said producer/writer/law student, Alex Couch…“If we can start caring for the victims more, we will be better equipped in our efforts to punish the real perpetrators of this horrific crime.”  Most of the film’s grip and lighting gear was generously provided by The Art Institute of Jacksonville…The color grading is being done by Daniel Parker at Myjive in Charlotte, NC…

Not Your Rescue Project (#526) 

Sydney sex worker Tilly Lawless posted a photo of herself smiling on Instagram with the hashtag #facesofprositution…[in] response to an article on the…website Mamamia…[which] presented images of bruised, emaciated, drug-addicted sex workers…in the days that followed sex workers from all over the world shared photos of themselves under the hashtag—in some cases outing themselves as sex workers for the first time—to protest against the stereotype that sex workers are intrinsically victims who need saving…

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I think that one of the most important purposes of my guest columnist feature is to provide a look at experiences I’m not qualified to speak about personally, so when I received this letter I immediately asked its author if I could publish it.  She very graciously consented, and I hope y’all will find it as fascinating as I do.

Dear Maggie,

I’m a middle aged lesbian-leaning bisexual academic who identifies as a feminist.  Your blog came to my attention a few years ago via Twitter, and your daily digest of police state violence against sex workers is an essential part of my political reading.  While you have a wide array of discussions on your blog and in the comment threads, I have noticed one voice missing:  That of The Jane.  Or at least, This Jane.

I am a woman who has paid for sex and I liked it.  If I were a rich woman, I would unabashedly procure sexual services from providers of various genders.  If I were powerful enough, I would be honest and unashamed by such too.

After graduate school in a small southern town, I took a corporate job in a major city.U-Haul  Young, devoted to my work and at that time, well-paid, I would make it a point a few nights a week to attempt to meet women in all the conventional ways including lesbian bars and political events.  What was to follow was a series of disappointments; not because I was not meeting women, I was.  What I wasn’t meeting were lesbians who could just enjoy sex without it being attached to a potential relationship.  We all know the old joke about what a lesbian brings on a second date:  A U-Haul.

Lesbian bars were dreadful.  Full of puritans.  Every attractive butch was in a 12-step program, often full of judgment when I ordered a second drink since God forbid one want to unwind.  If we made it far enough through the evening, I would get propositioned.  No, not of the “Let’s fuck” variety but invitations to play house.  If they were willing to just go back to my place and fuck, I would get lectures about smoking pot beforehand lest it interfere with my enjoyment or more importantly, my ability to consent.  “Consent culture” has been around for a long time; it’s less to do with avoiding accusations of rape, than it is to appease the insecure who think that my enjoyment of recreational drugs, sex toys, kink or any variety of base pleasures somehow implies that they might be sexually inadequate.  Further, there is this notion that one’s sexuality must be “healthy,” even spiritual; I never did figure out what the latter meant, but the former was a return to the days when women kept each other in check by making sure that one stayed virtuous (in other words, not promiscuous).  It’s not that there weren’t any women who did just want to fuck.  The bi-curious women appeared on my TV screen and in popular magazines, but in real life they generally consisted of women whose interest flagged when they reeled in which ever male they were using me as bait to hook, or those who believed that female sexuality consisted of a few slow French kisses, then our bodies would magically meld as we flew over lush fields of green as unicorn fairies.  In other words, they had no idea where the hell to put their tongues.

Then one night, I was with a group of male and female friends when we entered a local strip club as part of a birthday party, and I found a bright and vivid display of women, in every shape and color, who made themselves erotic visions.  I was transfixed watching their stage performances, and after a few shots I worked up my courage to approach them with dollar bills to get a closer look.  The bold eye contact the dancers made helped me to not merely sympathize but to have genuine empathy for men who are intimidated to speak to beautiful women.

Everything about stripping is ultimately more about what is on the dancer’s body than what is removed.  The sky-high heels create the muscularity that emphasizes and aligns the curve of her buttocks, through the smooth upper thighs curving back into the calf; they promote a straight posture and confident gait that turns breasts into beacons of life.  The thongs draw attention not only to the natural peach shape of the female rear, but affirm the wearer’s many hours of fitness and discipline.  Creamy, moisturized skin, long playful eye lashes, full lips brought to a shine and topped off by a crown of hair that tumbles and falls in waves…waves of free spirited sexual freedom.

When I could regain my powers of speech, I tipped one of the dancers and asked her to join us at our table.  Other members of my group were already getting dances; I wanted one too, but not just to titillate the men around me (not that I would have noticed).  Once the dance began, I was entranced by the way she slowly dragged her manicured fingertips down my exposed arms, her body gliding up and down mine as if she were as light as air, and her hands ever-so-discreetly making their way for a moment or two to the sides of my breasts – I was aware of nothing but her.  Our group enjoyed the club until late, then we left.  That in some ways was the best part; I had the high of experiencing female sexuality without having to cultivate an emotional connection that I was neither ready for nor could make room for in my life.

Writing about that was the fun part, but now it gets thorny:  Many years later and some relationships later, I discovered heterosexuality.  It affirmed both my feminism and my lesbianism; the dynamics of heterosexual romances are simply incompatible with the way I live my life.  My work requires me to spend long hours in solitude thinking, researching and writing.  I am married to my ideas, and so am simply unsuitable as a mate in any sort of conventional heterosexual relationship.  Ultimately, I realized I longed for only one aspect of them:  being fucked with a penis.  With age, my needs for privacy had grown; hence, affairs with colleagues were out of the question.  People love to gossip, especially about themselves.  Male friends to whom I felt close enough to ask for sex,  grew attached no matter how clear I made it that I was not able of reciprocating the same sort of love they felt.  Lacking feminine tact or any ability for small talk, the bar scene for straights proved even less inviting than the one for lesbians, and for whatever reason I could never convince myself I felt any chemistry with strangers under those circumstances.

Several months after the end of a long relationship, people who knew me less well were prone to ask if I had started seeing anyone yet (as if there were a social norm about remaining single too long).  Or worse, my lack of interest in dating seemed to indicate to armchair psychologists that I was not “healed” or over my last mate.  In reality, though, I was relieved to be single again, as it allowed me to focus on artistic projects which I had abandoned; I had been so busy maintaining a relationship out of obligation that I had lost sight of my own intellectual ambitions.

Cowboys 4 AngelsIn due time however, I craved the sexual touch of another person.  A few times a month I would get a massage at a nearby Thai parlor which (as far as I knew) was not in the business of providing sexual services; most of the masseuses were petite older women who had studied their craft, and I always left feeling as though my body had been put back in order.  Nothing more, nothing less.  At one visit however, the masseur was a young man I took as gay.  The massage was excellent, but he worked my entire body (including the groin area) in such a way that when I returned home, I did something I rarely needed to do after a massage:  masturbate.  Basking in the relaxation of my own bed alone, it occurred to me, why didn’t such a service exist as an outcall.  I must be horribly dumb after an orgasm, because there is a world full of male prostitutes – albeit one that caters nearly entirely to gay men.  After a quick internet search, however, I found one company that made a ham-fisted point of reminding anyone on the site that it was strictly a “Straight Elite Male Companions For Women” operation.

I made the call.

Two hours and a six hundred dollar charge to my credit card later, “Anthony” appeared.  He was wholesome looking in a countrified way:  lean, slightly muscular and sans tattoos and piercings (which was refreshing having been over exposed to such in the LGBT scene).  I was nervous, but he made me feel very at ease; he knew what to do and when do it.  And when it was over, I gave him a cash tip and spent a very relaxing evening in bed reading.  I had experienced sexual release without any of the complications, drudgery or expense of being in a romantic pairing.

Would I hire an escort again?  Certainly.  The only thing that keeps me from doing so are the rates, but what escorts do is worth the price.  With a professional, I am spared tedious discussions about sexual histories:  I want to fuck, not be probed by a nurse practitioner.  The boundaries, both mine and the sex worker’s, are clearly drawn.  I am not burdening others by dragging around a fuck partner whose name everyone is expected to remember or who needs a special term.  (Referring to someone as girl/boy friend at my age seems ludicrous and “lover” implies I’m a 65 year old gay man — I might be someday but will save my gender issues for another guest column if you so allow.)  Sex workers understand discretion so I am allowed my privacy, something the “friends with benefits/selfie” era lacks, with or without the NSA.  Finally, I do not have pretend to be seeking “romance”  when all I am interested in is sex.

Yours in freedom,

Mara

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If someone were trying to pass laws that would directly impact your job, your income, and your life…you’d hope that your input…would be heard.  –  Seattlish

Something Rotten in Sweden

[Thursday] morning a group of 10 people from Sex Worker’s Outreach Project Seattle…and the Gender Justice League traveled to Olympia to attend a public hearing in the Senate Law & Justice Committee on SB-5277…& SB-5041…which together seek to increase the penalties for patronizing a prostitute…Although testimony was allowed by several people in support of SB-5277, and by a lawyer speaking on behalf of clients, the meeting was adjourned before the Sex Workers themselves were allowed to testify.  The members then attempted to get meetings with Senators Kohl-Welles & Padden, but were unsuccessful.  They were told they have 24 hours to submit written testimony to the committee assistant…

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Moron writer refers to something only criminalized a century ago as “one of the oldest crimes in history“.  You just can’t make this stuff up.  “Police Officer Abel James…was charged with patronizing a prostitute in Brooklyn…

Secret Squirrel

snoopInvestigators…say business has boomed in recent years from clients who want their sweethearts investigated for…habits and secrets…The trend is partly driven…by [publicized]…examples of online daters embellishing their profiles, and of scammers using dating sites to lure people into false romances…Google [searching]…is like a gateway drug to professional snooping…“It’s the new prenuptial,” Jeffrey Schell of Kassel Investigations in Boise, Idaho, said…Except the “party being investigated doesn’t have to…agree”…

Nasty Words

the residents of Ulker Street [in Istanbul] used…a slang called Lubunca…[whose] earliest traces…can be found…as the Ottoman Empire was waning…Lubunca was found in spaces where men engaged in sex work, such as bathhouses…[in] the late 1980s and early ’90s…Lubunca became more prevalent, along with trans sex work…“A lot of the vocabulary…overlaps with Romani,” [linguist Nikolas] Kontovas says…“Sex acts are one of the largest categories, if not the largest…There’s also tons of vocabulary for money,” he says, and for what he likes to call fun, like alcohol and cigarettes…[now] Lubunca has evolved into a slang used by some gay people who are not trans and are not sex workers…as a way to exhibit one’s identity…

Surplus Women 

Michael Wenham…[stabbed] Karolina Nowikiewicz…to death in [an]…unprovoked attack at her flat…Wenham…was recovering from unsuccessful [penis enlargement] surgery…[and] still had a dressing on his penis which had affected his sex life with [his] wife…Wenham…called in sick to work before…buying a [prepaid cell phone,] Stanley knife, disposable gloves and plastic sacks which he used in the killing.  When the first [sex worker] he tried was unavailable, he booked…Ms Nowikiewicz…Attacking her from behind, he sliced open her neck, cutting through her major arteries and her spinal chord…[he then] washed himself in the bathroom, placed the bloody knife in a drawer…went outside and called the police to admit to what he had just done…there was no evidence of sexual assault, consensual sexual activity or even arousal.  Karolina was chosen because her job made her an easy target…

Above the Law 

Unfortunately, she learned what cops are really like:

Trumball, Conn…police officer William Ruscoe began a drastically reduced 30-month prison sentence for handcuffing and raping a teenage girl in his home…Ruscoe…blamed his crime on financial problems that made it hard to support his wife and two children…During a sentencing hearing Ruscoe pleaded with the court to give him a downward departure in sentencing from the 6-year prison term he agreed to in his plea bargain…The…victim was part of the department’s Explorer program, which provides educational training for young adults on the purposes, mission and objectives of law enforcement…

The Pygmalion Fallacy (#137) vajankle

…The vajankle – as its name suggests – is the unholy union of a vagina and an ankle…[for] serious foot [fetishists]…Sin boutique…explains: ‘These quirky feet have a vagina built right in at the ankle!’…the vajankle costs a toe-curling $179…

Sex Work is Work (#448)

Mistress Matisse draws in part upon Joyce Arthur’s suggestions to create a new style guide for journalists writing about sex work.  This will provide a handy reference to point to when correcting the rampant dysphemisms in modern yellow journalism.

A Year Later

This op-ed condemning Canada’s awful new anti-sex worker regime wouldn’t be at all unusual in the Canadian press, but it appeared in the American press, specifically in the deeply-prohibitionist New York Times:

…Many hoped this would be Canada’s chance to emulate New Zealand, where…decriminalization [has improved health and safety]…Instead…Bill C-36 has…[reproduced] many of the statutes struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013…[and also made] it a crime to purchase sex…and…advertise the sale of sex…If abolishing prostitution is the goal for some Canadian legislators, precedent suggests that the new measure is unlikely to succeed…instead of taking this opportunity to pass truly meaningful reforms, Canada has merely replaced one flawed policy with another.

The Widening Gyre (#501) 

Now will the cops stop pretending this woman was “sex trafficked”?

…Tae Bum Yoon…[was arrested for the murder of] Ashley Benson…in an eighth floor stairwell of the DoubleTree Hotel in [Portland]…It wasn’t the first time they had met, and evidence suggests they had some type of disagreement over money owed…

All Wet

Though the content of “5 REAL (And Absolutely Shocking) Reasons Men Hire Prostitutes” actually is pretty real (though not remotely shocking), what I found most interesting was that writer Suzanne Jannese said about the most recent absurdly-lowball figures on the fraction of men who have paid for sex, “The stats surprised me—they were higher than I had expected…”  One wonders how Ms Jannese thinks we even pay the rent.

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