Posts Tagged ‘male prostitutes’

The criminalization of sex work is based in nothing more than petty moral outrage.  – Chris Sosa

RentboyWhile sex workers were  celebrating the growing recognition among decent people that sex work prohibition is nothing less than the violent suppression of consensual sexual behavior, the most rabidly-prohibitionist government on the planet was scheming to prove the pro-decriminalization forces correct by unleashing yet another act of violence against peaceful businesspeople.  Like Escorts.com and MyRedbook before it, the venerable gay escort site Rentboy was raided by federal officials anxious to put on a good show:

Federal agents raided the Manhattan headquarters of Rentboy.com as part of a money laundering and state prostitution investigation Tuesday…Seven people, including CEO Jeffrey Hurant, were arrested…Department of Homeland Security agents and members of the NYPD, which assisted in the raid, were seen removing boxes from the offices…More than $1.4 million from six bank accounts was seized in connection with the probe…the government said it was taking steps to shut down the website…”Rentboy.com attempted to present a veneer of legality, when in fact this Internet brothel made millions of dollars from the promotion of illegal prostitution,” Acting U.S. Attorney…Kelly Currie [bloviated]…

As it later turned out, the raid was not justified under the typical excuse of “money laundering”, but rather under a different infinitely-elastic federal “crime” statute, the Travel Act of 1961:

…the Travel Act makes it a federal crime to use the mail or interstate or international travel or communications for the purposes of engaging in certain illegal acts or for distributing the proceeds of certain illegal acts.  The list of illegal acts covered by the law includes crimes like gambling, prostitution, drug trafficking, extortion, bribery, and arson.  This is not a complete list…these…acts don’t have to be federal crimes to be covered by the Travel Act.  They can be violations of the laws of the state where the crime took place…Rentboy.com allegedly violated New York’s laws against prostitution, but the U.S. Attorney’s Office…is arguing that Rentboy.com facilitated and promoted prostitution crimes across state and international borders…

Though by the timing it may seem that this was intended in retaliation for Amnesty International’s call for decriminalization (which essentially reveals the US as among the world’s most oppressive regimes as far as sexual freedom is concerned), or in reaction to the Ashley Madison debacle, in actuality the feds can’t do anything that quickly; this has been planned for months.  The usual “sex trafficking” rhetoric used to cram these pogroms down the credulous public gullet was notably (and tellingly) absent here; it was all talk of sin crime and chastisement prosecution rather than “rescue” and “exploitation”.  Because while women are delicate, chaste little fluffy-bunnies who could never ever ever conceive of a pragmatic motivation for sex, men are perverted abusers who are never more than an errant thought away from criminality (unless they’re government actors, of course, in which case they’re totally incapable of evil).  But all snark aside, the government actually had very compelling reasons for the raid…1.4 million reasons, to be exact.

In the long run, though, it may prove very expensive for the prohibitionists.  As I’ve complained on a number of occasions, mainstream gay rights organizations seem unconcerned at best and hostile at worst to sex worker rights, despite the fact that members of the GLBT community are disproportionately represented among both sex workers and clients (many closeted gay men rely almost entirely on escorts for male contact).  Gay, Inc has obsessively pushed its white-picket-fence married-couple big-table fantasies to the exclusion of the majority of queers who will never want lifelong committed monogamy, despite the fact that the entire gay rights movement owes its origin to sex workers.  But special-interest groups don’t simply disband once they’ve achieved their original goals; indeed, they actively seek out new goals so as to justify their continued existence.  Now that picket-fence queers have every conceivable right their straight vanilla counterparts enjoy, Big Gay will need a new campaign to pursue…and the feds may have just provided it.  The personal information of thousands of closeted gay men is now in the hands of evil monsters who view human beings only as points to be racked up, and if that’s not a gay rights issue I’m not sure what is; even the hopelessly-square Advocate reported on Lamba Legal’s pro-decriminalization stance (though its headline idiotically asked, “Decriminalize sex work?” as if they didn’t quite get it).  When the victims are women, most Americans seem content to swallow the patronizing & agency-negating “rescuing trafficked girls” narrative, but since the victims are men this time journalists seem to have suddenly awakened en masse.  The Huffington Post‘s reporting on the issue is typical of what I’ve seen since Tuesday:

The site has operated within public view for many years. This is not a secretive, dark web enterprise hidden from the public eye.  It’s a popular online destination that allows escorts to set their own rules and rates.  RentBoy’s platform gives its escorts a degree of agency that sex workers forced to walk the street or be managed by a pimp simply do not have…The Department of Homeland Security…took millions of dollars and ripped six employees from their homes.  While these employees face huge financial and reputational damage, thousands of sex workers who rely on RentBoy as a safe place to conduct business could find themselves in genuine danger…The United States has a responsibility to reform its outdated and violent laws around sex work.  RentBoy’s high-profile raid should make us think about all the quiet acts of violence committed by our government against sex workers…We supposed-progressives chant about bodily autonomy and criticize the American Right for denigrating women, but we participate in the same denigration when we shame sex workers who conscientiously exercise authority over their bodies…

There’s nothing in that excerpt that doesn’t also apply to female sex workers and our advertising venues, but without the “sex trafficking” smoke and mirrors many of these writers appear to be recognizing it for the first time.  Though I have the deepest sympathy for everyone who will be hurt by this monstrous injustice, it may be that the Rentboy raid was the biggest blunder the prohibitionists ever made; if it attracts the big Gay guns and makes sex worker rights “safe” for ordinary people to talk about again, decriminalization is already on the way.

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Sex…is the only area where amateurs are respected more than professionals.  –  Anna Leventhal

The Red Umbrella 

Client gets angry when he recognizes that his whore is a whore:

A businessman…shot a sex worker when she ended their relationship…Jonathan Kovacik, 58, gave Rosalynde Pitcher £6,000 in cash towards [breast enlargement] cosmetic surgery…He also offered her £50,000 to “give up drugs, alcohol and the work” and marry him…However, armed with a Walther CP88 competition air pistol, Kovacik is alleged to have flown into a fit of rage when he suspected the 21-year-old was “stringing him along” for his money…Miss Pitcher was working…[as a cam girl] for the website adultwork.com…Kovacik, who has a property portfolio and owns a car garage, frequently “lavished” Miss Pitcher with a car and other expensive gifts…

A Procrustean Bed

The law is definitely unconstitutionally vague, but that would be a politically unpopular finding right now:

The constitutionality of a Massachusetts law that targets sex trafficking was upheld…by the state’s highest court, which rejected claims by two men that the statute was vague and its scope too broad…the two men…are…the first people convicted under the statute…lawyers for Tyshaun McGhee and Sidney McGee claimed the statute’s language, particularly the phrase “commercial sexual activity,” was unconstitutionally vague.  They said the law also lacked the elements of use of force and coercion that a federal sex trafficking statute requires to establish the crime…

The Proper Study

We’re seeing this sort of thing more and more:

When I first began looking into the research on decriminalizing prostitution, I didn’t know where the evidence would take me. I was familiar with the arguments on both sides of the debate, but I had little idea what the empirical literature said.  But after reviewing dozens of studies, papers, and articles and talking to researchers, the issue is much clearer to me:  Sex work should be fully decriminalized and regulated, similar to other businesses…prohibition doesn’t appear to have any good empirical evidence behind it…

One Size Fits All

Is there any behavior in Ireland that isn’t “trafficking”?

…the Office of the Registrar General has been given more extensive powers to prevent the institution of marriage being abused for immigration purposes…An unexpectedly high occurrence rate of marriages between women from Eastern Europe and Portugal, and men from the Indian subcontinent has been noted…The Registrar will now have…the right to refuse a marriage registration form if they feel that a marriage is not legitimate…The Minister…[is] concerned that sham marriages [are] leading to a proliferation of women being trafficked into Ireland for this purpose…

Above the Law Bryan Lee

An Ohio State Trooper has been sentenced to five years in prison after using his authority to force women into sexual acts, using Facebook to send his victims vague threats, and using Craigslist to advertise for “traffic stop sex.”  The investigation into Trooper Bryan Lee, 31, began in October of 2013 and he was allowed to resign prior to being terminated and prosecuted…

Dysphemisms Galore (Traffic Updates)

Tara Burns turns in a top-notch piece of long-form investigative journalism on the case of her friend, Amber Batts, who was this week sentenced for “sex trafficking” in Alaska.  I’m not even going to attempt to excerpt it; the piece needs to be read in its entirety so you can get the full picture of the sort of people the State destroys in order to support its lurid and melodramatic “sex trafficking” narrative, and the way that neither facts nor evidence has the slightest power to halt or even slow the machinery of injustice once cops and prosecutors have thrown someone into it.

Shift in the Wind (#433)

There’s nothing unusual in this article from The Economist explaining why decriminalization is a good idea; however, I’m very pleased to see that the paper hasn’t made its pro-decrim stance a one-time thing.  I hope it continues to debunk prohibitionist nonsense on a regular basis, even though the writer in this case subscribes to the dumb canard that Rhode Island “accidentally” decriminalized in 2003 (when in fact it purposefully did so in 1980).

Think of the Children! (#445)

Since no outside charity will take money contaminated by “sex rays”, Rentboy decided to create its own charity:

Rentboy.com has created a “Cash4Class” scholarship fund designed to help escorts who advertise on their site to afford school.  To win the $1500 fund, the boys can either submit a 500-1000 word essay or a 1-5 minute video that answers the following question: “Why is going to school part of achieving your dream?”… adult film star Colby Keller will be the official judge of the entries…deadline [is] September 15th, and [the contest is] open to current Rentboy.com advertisers who have proof of enrollment in…classes…

Seizing Power

For those who forgot why Backage started taking payment in the first place:

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal…was leading the charge to force all social networks to police adult content and establish age and identity verification tools…As part of that agreement, Craigslist began charging for ads in its erotic services section at the end of 2008.  “Requiring phone numbers, credit cards and identifying details will provide a roadmap to prostitutes and sex traffickers — so we can track them down and lock them up,” Blumenthal said in a statement…he…[called] the erotic services section an “online brothel” and “hooker haven,” and asserting there was a link between adult entertainment and “human trafficking, drug activity and child exploitation”…

An Example To the West (#554)

Journalists like to pretend the bad consequences of US “anti-trafficking” policy are unintentional; they most certainly are not.  American “anti-trafficking” policy has not “failed” in Southeast Asia; it is doing exactly what it is intended to do:

…the U.S.-led anti-trafficking agenda…has failed or even hurt migrants and refugees.  It has fed a chaotic global obsession with policing and prosecutions, but resulted in few concrete policies to address the underlying causes of trafficking or to assist its victims.  This has been acutely felt in Thailand, a politically volatile country seesawing between military coups and failed democratic governments.  In recent months the ruling junta has led an aggressive anti-trafficking campaign to satisfy its Western critics.  But instead of reducing trafficking and forced labor, these efforts appear to have marginalized human rights and trampled on the most vulnerable…

Not Good Enough (#555) flibanserin

The dangerous psychotropic drug flibanserin, which poorly treats a normal variation in female sex drive which is being defined as a “disorder” by an industry hungry to cash in by selling people drugs they don’t need, has now been approved:

…critics said the campaign behind Addyi had made a mockery of the system that regulates pharmaceuticals and had co-opted the women’s movement to pressure the F.D.A. into approving a drug that was at best minimally effective and could cause side effects like low blood pressure, fainting, nausea, dizziness and sleepiness…Addyi’s label has a boxed warning — the strongest kind — saying the drug should not be used by those who drink alcohol, since that can increase the risk of severely low blood pressure and fainting…Leonore Tiefer, a sex therapist…and critic of the drug, predicted the restrictions on use would keep Addyi from becoming popular.  “It’s going to be more trouble than it’s worth,” she said…Addyi is thought to work by changing the balance of certain brain neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin…women who took the drug had an average of 4.4 “satisfying sexual experiences” a month, compared with 3.7 for women getting a placebo and 2.7 before the study began.  The drug did not increase desire more than a placebo when measured by a daily diary…

Acting and Activism (#559) 

I’m really pleased to see just how hard Hollywood’s prohibitionism is backfiring on it lately:

Dunham & Co. structured their opposition to the draft policy on the flawed assumption that decriminalization a) encourages non-consensual sex work…and b) promotes men’s dominance over women, in a grand philosophical sense.  This is akin to saying that because women and children are often exploited in the garment industry, we should outlaw garment manufacturing and make sure conditions are really unsafe for anyone who wants to make clothes…

Here’s another example:

Lena Dunham, a woman who by most accounts has never had to worry a day in her life about paying rent and putting food on the table, put her name on a petition aimed at stopping women around the world from doing what she does on television in front of millions of people on a regular basis: acting like she’s enjoying sex for money…You can imagine how confusing Dunham’s position is to those of us who actually do sex work for a living.  She doesn’t see that she’s contributing to our distress by openly calling for the end of our freedom to do sexual work…

Amnesty At Last (#564)

Though the Washington Post has published many pieces attacking “sex trafficking” hysteria, its editorial board is apparently still dominated by prohibitionist fossils who prefer lies and pearl-clutching to facts and self-ownership:

…Supporters of the resolution assume that sex work can be a profession like any other and that sex transactions can be consensual.  This is…not true for the vast majority, who resort to selling their bodies because they feel they have no other option.  Decriminalizing prostitution…would allow pimps to operate with impunity, using the money and status that comes with their newfound legitimacy to scale up trafficking operations that hurt the most vulnerable…The evidence seems to bear that out in Germany and the Netherlands, where [sex work is not decriminalized]…

“Decriminalizing the sale of liquor…would allow bootleggers to operate with impunity, using the money and status that comes with their newfound legitimacy to scale up trafficking operations that hurt the most vulnerable…The evidence seems to bear that out in the United States, where liquor was legalized in 1932″…

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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 


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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