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Posts Tagged ‘marriage’

Coincidentally, this article about “financial abortion” came to my attention just the day before yesterday’s reader question did, but they both touch on the same subject:  the oppressive “family court” and mandated-child support system.  The article points out that while a pregnant woman has the right to “opt out” of the burden of unwanted motherhood by choosing abortion, the man who got her pregnant has no similar right; if she chooses to have the baby he’s on the hook financially for over two decades, even if she told him she was using contraception and he strenuously objects to fatherhood.  Some MRAs, anti-abortion nuts and politicians have proposed that a man should have veto power over a woman he has impregnated, but this is obviously an abomination; every person owns their own body, and absolutely nobody else (and certainly not the state) has the right to control what that person does with their body.  At the same time, it seems reasonable for a man to have some recourse against consent violation, so some have proposed that a man could legally sever all ties during the pregnancy, dodging his financial responsibilities by voluntarily surrendering his parental rights.

I’m not going to waste my time or energy in a fruitless Mars/Venus emotional discussion about men’s inability to keep their dicks in their pants, the responsibility for contraception, the “unfairness” of Nature, “But the children!” or any other insoluble malarkey.  Nor do I believe for one second that a government which claims every citizen as property of the state and uses violent threats in an insane attempt to micromanage every aspect of its citizens’ lives, to the point where it is willing to lock people in cages to keep them from experiencing pleasure in a way it doesn’t approve of, or literally force unwilling women to endure the dangers and burdens of pregnancy and childbirth against their wills, would ever agree to let men out of a convenient noose and women out of a trap where they’re forced to rely on Big Brother and be tied to a useless man for two decades.  Puritanical US “authorities” want sex to be as dangerous and consequence-laden as they can make it, which is why prostitution is criminalized, abortions & birth control are the subjects of so many ban attempts, and “family court” is a nightmare for everyone but the lawyers and bean-counters.  The only thing I want to do here is to propose (not debate, sorry) a framework which a hypothetical free society (in which the rights to contraception and abortion were unquestioned) might use to resolve this dilemma.

The principle of self-ownership demands that the government stay completely out of the lives of individuals who have not committed violence against others, and that includes their reproductive lives.  Therefore, the only just and ethical way of dealing with the situation is to simply recognize reality: the child is the chattel, sole responsibility and sole right of the mother.  Up until the advent of DNA testing just a few years ago, there was no sure way to determine the male parent of a child anyway, so the whole concept of “legitimate fatherhood” hasn’t any more tangible connection to reality than angels dancing on pinheads (as any loving adoptive father or stepfather will tell you).  Fatherhood in the social sense has absolutely nothing to do with DNA and everything to do with emotional and economic investment in the child, and the idea that someone can be compelled to love by court order is as vile as it is absurd.  If the biological parents of a child want DNA tests, in other words if biological parentage matters to them, well and fine and may Hera bless them.  But the outcome of such a test should have absolutely no legal weight; it should confer neither paternal rights nor paternal obligations.  If a man wants the former, he can offer the mother the latter; if a mother wants the latter, she can offer any man (not necessarily the biological father) the former.  If they both agree on the terms, a lawyer makes a contract and they’re done; disputes are settled in ordinary civil courts under ordinary contract law, with no special “family” mumbo-jumbo involved.  No more custody battles; no more bureaucrats making intimate decisions for mothers.  Just the recognition of biological reality and the removal of one of government’s most effective means of controlling the individual.

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I’m a sex worker in love with a wonderful, kind, but very weak man who, after years and several children with an abusive, mentally ill wife is financially fucked and legally cornered by a Kafkaesque divorce court system.  Jail might be in his future, if not suicide, and in the meantime court-ordered child support and other payments have left him literally unable to afford rent so he’s now homeless.  I feel like I will have to decide to leave him because he can’t emotionally or financially survive the abuse by his ex and the court, and I can’t be in relationship with a broken person who feels entitled to a reality that will not come.  Any advice would be appreciated. 

Since he has allowed this to go on for far too long, whatever chance he might have had at the beginning has long since gone down the toilet; the only way he’s going to carve out even the most basic protection is to hire a top-notch divorce lawyer who will fight his ex’s no-holds-barred assaults with even more ruthless assaults.  What could such a lawyer win for him?  I have no idea, but at this point, he will be doing well to be left with some money to live on and protection from further spurious accusations.  Of course, if he doesn’t even have enough money to pay rent, he can’t afford a lawyer.  And that means you need to decide – I’m sorry, but there’s no nice way to say this – if this relationship is worth your emotional and financial investment.  I believe you when you say that he’s a wonderful man, and that you love him.  But I also agree with you that he’s weak, and has not fought this to win but to “roll over”.  From what you describe in your very detailed letter, he made a long succession of mistakes in every single interaction with his ex from the very beginning, starting with his decision to fuck her in the first place.  Does that mean he “deserves” what has happened to him?  Absolutely fucking not.  And yet, here we are.  And you need to make decisions based in current reality, not romantic fantasies or might-have-beens or “if I won the lottery”.  If you stay with this man you will be supporting him until his youngest child is out of university, and maybe even longer than that.  Any legal fees will need to come from you.  His housing and support will come from you.  Whatever malicious fees the court levies on him?  You.  And he’ll expect you to provide all the usual emotional and practical labor as well, because beside being a man he’s too devastated to provide emotional support even to himself, much less you.  I hear that you love him and he’s wonderful, but is whatever he gives you enough to justify that cost?  He is already draining you like a vampire, emotionally, financially, sexually and even physically, and that will not stop unless you stop it.

I’m sorry, honey, I know this is incredibly painful, and I wish I had some good news or happy thoughts for you.  The legal system of this country is designed to grind people into pulp, and your boyfriend obediently jumped into that machine on the orders of a dangerously unhinged woman.  So now the only thing left for you to decide is whether to risk getting sucked in yourself by reaching into the gears on the probably-vain hope of pulling him out; to just stand there and be splattered by blood and gore as the machine does its horrifying work; or to wash your hands of the whole thing.

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

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Why, in discussions about monogamy, do you use the words “harm reduction” or “pressure valve” to characterize the act of seeing a sex worker within an outwardly-monogamous marriage or partnership?

Every person has the right to control their own sexuality and no one else’s.  What this means in a monogamous marriage is that if a partner (nearly always the wife) loses sexual interest, she has the right to refuse sex; she does not, however, have the right to stop her husband from procuring what he needs elsewhere.  But while this is ethically true, most marriage laws take a dim view of so-called “infidelity” even if the only alternative is celibacy.  And even in jurisdictions where the court isn’t supposed to consider “fault”, in fact many judges do, and a husband who is caught “stepping out” is likely to get an even shorter end of the stick than he otherwise would.  Furthermore, marriage is primarily an economic and social arrangement, despite the popular lie that it’s about love and romance; even a sexless marriage may have many benefits, and the husband may wish to remain with his family rather than weather the pain and upheaval of divorce.  So if he’s going to get his sex elsewhere, it’s better for all parties if he does so discreetly, from a qualified professional practicing safe sex who has no interest in him romantically and is highly motivated to keep his secrets, rather than from an unpredictable amateur with questionable hygiene who may get pregnant, become emotionally entangled with him, start making extracontractual demands and otherwise making a mess out of what should’ve been a simple business transaction.  In simpler terms, I call sex work a harm reduction method for monogamy because it is.

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

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A phantom pregnancy is actually a real pregnancy but you have a phantom inside you rather than a human baby.  –  Amethyst Realm

Our society is in love with unnecessary warning signs, but the ones in this video (courtesy of Lenore Skenazy) are absurd even by modern US standards.  The links above it were provided by Mistress MatisseFranklin HarrisRadley BalkoWalter OlsonPhoenix Calida, Emma Evans, and David Ley, in that order.

From the Archives

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As anyone who knows me well can tell you, I’m a very affectionate person.  I touch a great deal, I like to hold hands when I walk with a partner or friend, and people I love are likely to hear me tell them so at least once every time I see them (and most of the times I text with them).  I don’t form romantic partnerships easily, and when I do they tend to be long-lasting (and devastating to me when they end); while they endure I enjoy spending time with my partner and having special things we do together, even to the point of having pet names and private jokes and all that good stuff.  I’m telling you all this so that you understand that I’m not actually biased against love or romance when I say that in the West in general and the US in particular, the “couple” has become a cultic totem second only to “The Children!” in repulsiveness and maladaptation.

Now, I’ve been part of couples for a large fraction of my adult life, and probably so have most of you reading this.  But in all that time, I have never tolerated a partner who attempted to own me, control me, or monopolize my time.  Jack’s childish jealousy was one of the reasons we fought so much and broke up so often, and even as a young adult I was never very sympathetic to girlfriends who whined that their boyfriends had interests other than them and didn’t want to spend every fucking free minute with them.  I’ve always disliked Valentine’s Day, and one of the reasons my relationship with Matt endured for 14 years was that he traveled a great deal and had interests other than me.  So when I saw these creepy things in a tweet recently, they reminded me of the hallucinations Greg Kihn’s character has when looking at the wedding guests in this video:

Sorry, couples; you’re not actually “one flesh” with a conjoined circulatory system, and it won’t hurt you to sit separately for the length of a domestic flight:

Alaska Airlines faces a public-relations storm after a gay couple were forced to give up their seats on a flight from New York City to Los Angeles…to make room for a straight couple.  Though the complainant …accepted an apology from Alaska, which said the outcome was a mistake [due to the gate agent’s being given incorrect information] and not reflective of any disrespect, dissemination of the incident on social media has damaged the airline’s image…as…gay-friendly…David Cooley, owner of a popular upscale gay bar in…West Hollywood…[was] on board [with his partner] in their assigned premium seats when a gate agent asked his companion to give up his seat and move to [steerage] so that another couple could sit together.  Although Cooley…protested that the two men were also a couple and wanted to sit together…the agent insisted that his traveling companion had to either move to coach or get off the plane…

NOBODY, single or coupled, queer or straight or asexual, should be forced to move from their seat so a “couple” can sit together.  What the fuck is that about, really?  “Hi, you need to move because these two people like to shove their body parts into each other’s orifices.”  Really?  Wanna sit together?  Plan ahead & get reserved seats; done.  And if you have those seats, as Cooley and his partner did, you shouldn’t be forced to move for those who didn’t (and certainly not moved from First Class back into the cattle car).  I’ve been separated from partners on planes because of circumstances (standby flying, last-minute plans, poor planning on our part or whatever) before and we lived.  But then, we weren’t the devotees of a weird religion which teaches that we somehow deserve precedence over other people because we habitually boink each other.

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I consider myself an upstanding guy and a good provider but I’m now engaged in what some consider the lowest behavior a man can engage in and I am feeling tremendous guilt. Up until about 6 months ago I had been completely faithful.  About 9 months ago my wife had a meltdown over something unrelated to this and told me to leave, then a few days later asked me to come home.  Over the following 3 months this happened 4 more times.  One night I was lonely and decided to call an escort.  I’m prepared to be thrown out again at any time, and I found that I really enjoyed seeing escorts and do not intend to stop.  I feel like cheating scum.  I’m honest with the providers and disclose that I’m married.  How do these providers see me?

What low behavior are you involved in?  Are you a cop or politician?  The only thing you mention doing is seeing escorts because your wife has, to put it bluntly, turned into a flake.  You have needs; you’re dealing with them pragmatically.  When she threw you out, did you just stand outside in the rain?  No, you went and rented a hotel room.  If she refused to feed you, would eating at a restaurant have been “low”?  No, it would be sensible.  And so is seeing escorts to get your sexual & emotional needs met now that your wife seems to think you’re a human yo-yo for her to play with.  You mention telling your escorts you’re married; honey, 70% or more of our clients are married.  We are the safety valve which allows the highly unnatural institution of monogamy to exist at all, and civilization itself would be literally impossible without us.  Every person has the right to control their own sexuality, and nobody else’s (unless that’s part of some kink dynamic they both consent freely to).  In other words, your wife has the right to say “I will not fuck you”, but she does not have the right to tell you that you can’t have a sex life because she’s too busy playing non-consensual tease-and-denial games.  By seeing an escort, you are mitigating the harm that would come from extracurricular fucking of amateurs whose ideas of consent, hygiene and respect for boundaries probably range from confused to nonexistent.

And though you didn’t ask for advice on this other topic, I’m going to give it anyway:  at one point in your very long letter you mentioned the difficulty of finding a good therapist for yourself.  From what I can see, you don’t need therapy (except for your inappropriate feelings of guilt for taking care of your own needs, and maybe to uncover why you accept this kind of treatment); your wife does.  It’s not normal to keep repeatedly throwing a partner out and then summoning them back; it’s emotional abuse.

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

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[Laura Lee] put herself on the line in a way few have the guts to do.  –  Brooke Magnanti

Storyville 

An interesting look at brothel archaeology in Australia:

Sex work was one of the major ways poor women could earn a reasonable income in the 19th century.  Especially unmarried women with babies.  But we don’t hear people say “my great-great-grandmother was a sex worker”…Social stigma belies the importance of prostitution in providing an independent living, and even property ownership, for numerous women in this period…the Little Lon district in Melbourne CBD’s north-east corner…has been extensively excavated by a series of archaeological projects over the last 30 years, and our recent intensive research on the artefacts recovered (held at Museum Victoria and Heritage Victoria) is revealing much more about the brothels and the women who owned them that had disappeared from memory…

Whore Madonnas 

While mainstream media mindlessly parrots “sex trafficking” propaganda, the alternative press is listening to sex workers:

…Liz Afton works as a counselor at the Sex Workers Project…which provides legal and social services to people involved in sex work…“Mothers…who are involved in sex work often have it used against them to separate them from their child,” Afton says.  Atossa Movahedi, director of legal services and development at the UJC’s domestic violence project, says…“More often than not…the opposing party had knowledge of, or even was involved directly, in the client’s participation in the sex work, and is now using it as a tool to exploit them in the court system.”  When dealing with custody disputes, courts [supposedly] first look at a parent’s ability to provide a loving and stable home.  Financial status, mental health, drug use and domestic violence all fall under consideration.  Though many mothers involved in sex work pass inspection in these areas, they’re left with the fact that the job is usually illegal—and in the eyes of some on the bench, immoral…

The Pro-Rape Coalition 

Liz Brown is becoming our most powerful voice against sex hysteria:

Evidence-free freakouts over erotica are a time-honored tradition…history is littered with authoritarians of all stripes convinced that censoring sexual imagery was a necessary social good.  And with each iteration, what porn prohibitionists lack in actual facts to support their doomy view they make up for with warnings that this time it’s different — that whatever new medium exists for producing or distributing porn is uniquely dangerous to the youth and degrading to good women.  For decades now, this supposed difference has been chalked up to the proliferation of online pornography…there’s no evidence that internet porn has been destroying millennials — some of whom now have two decades of…data to offer…all the available evidence shows…teens today are starting sex later, and more likely than previous generations to use condoms when they do.  Teen pregnancy rates are at their lowest levels in decades…In addition, there’s now a huge body of research showing that…it’s “time to discard the hypothesis that pornography contributes to increased sexual assault behavior”…sexually well-adjusted adults “reported more experience with pornography as teenagers” than their maladjusted counterparts…

Finding What Isn’t There

Too bad all prohibitionism isn’t focused on harassing women who don’t exist:

Lake of the Woods boasts 15,000 islands and more than 100,000 kilometres of shoreline — more coast than Lake Superior…the [area]…near the Manitoba border sees its population double in the summer months.  When [masturbatory fantasies] of women and girls being forced into the sex trade on Lake of the Woods arose at a 2013 human trafficking conference in Kenora, even local social service workers were shocked…“Dock girls,” as they came to be known…are [fantasized] to be overwhelmingly Indigenous [minors who]…are [fantasized] to be transported…from…northwestern Ontario and Manitoba as part of a human trafficking circuit…only…one social service worker [in the area claims]…they’ve come face-to-face with a “dock girl”…[yet]…Kenora will receive $504,000 over three years to [indoctrinate] frontline hospitality workers…[in the usual anti-whore propaganda]…there is so little hard evidence for the “dock girl” phenomenon that it raises questions about whether the problem exists at all.  And if it doesn’t, critics say, wouldn’t the government’s funding…be better spent elsewhere?…

Policing for Profit

Cops are starting to admit that this is about nothing other than profit:

In Alabama…two [politicians] introduced legislation that would require that prosecutors actually convict people of crimes in order to keep their stuff.  It would put the burden on the state to prove that the property they want to seize is connected to a crime…It would move the proceeds of forfeiture to the state’s general fund to eliminate the profit incentive for police and prosecutors to try to seize whatever they could get their hands on.  And it would close a loophole that would forbid local law enforcement agencies from bypassing restrictions by participating in the federal “equitable sharing” Department of Justice forfeiture program…the head of the Alabama District Attorney’s Association and the Alabama Sheriffs Association teamed up with an op-ed that urges against reforms to asset forfeiture…Brian McVeigh and Dave Sutton warn that requiring successful prosecutions will lead to them filing more charges against people…When you find yourself threatening to find more reasons to put even more citizens in jail in order to protect your revenue stream, it’s maybe time to…think about what you’re doing…

Torture Chamber 

Stop faking!

Women imprisoned at California’s Santa Rita Jail say they’re being [caged] in filthy conditions, denied basic hygiene products, pressured to have abortions, subjected to incessant strip searches, and forced to endure many other manners of cruel and inhumane treatment from guards and staff…In a new federal lawsuit, they’re asking a federal judge to intervene on behalf of them and future female prisoners, particularly those who are pregnant…The jailhouse horror stories…provide an invaluable glimpse at the…systemic degradation…such institutions foster…female inmates face the standard abuses inflicted on male prisoners as well as those unique to their sex, from being forced to “free bleed” during their periods if they can’t afford to buy tampons to facing higher levels of sexual assault and coercion from guards and staff…pregnant prisoners [are] denied proper nutrition and prenatal care and, in some places, forced to give birth in shackles.  At Santa Rita…one inmate was…left alone in solitary confinement to give birth…”She was banging on her metal door…[the screws] closed the slider-window…so she could not see out, and no one could see in…Only after we could hear the crying of the baby did the deputies finally go over and open her door”…

Opting Out (#401)

This is no surprise to those of us who have actually studied the effects and history of censorship:

Sky UK has been called out for blocking a…website that its algorithms deem as “pornographic”…as part of the Digital Economy Act 2010…Sky UK have blocked gay-teen advice website gayteenresources.org…an important resource for teenagers exploring their sexuality and for those that may be struggling…blocked.org.uk, which lists sites that cannot be accessed, reveals that O2, EE and Three have also automatically filtered the site from their mobile networks…

“Filtered” is a euphemism for “censored”, and this will continue until the media acknowledge that.

The Spiral of Absurdity (#792) 

At least universities in Washington state aren’t generally used to spread “sex trafficking” propaganda, unlike those in Arizona and Texas:

The “Artifacts of Human Trafficking” exhibit is designed to [facilitate masturbation] to [the fantasy of] human trafficking in Texas…there are more than 300,000 victims of human trafficking in the state…From Feb. 12 to March 16, the School of Social Work will host the art exhibit, created by Austin artist Amie Stone King…illustrat[ing] themes of isolation, captivity and desperation…Prominent in the center of the exhibit is a “seclusion room.”  Attendees are invited to enter the small space and [masturbate in private while fantasizing about pubescent girls in]…a life of captivity…

The Public Eye (#797)

Though Rolling Stone is far too timid to write honestly about escorts, it’s good to see a sex work-positive article in it at all:

At…the 35th Annual Adult Entertainment Expo and Adult Video News Awards…plenty of big names were in attendance – stars who had led more traditional adult-film careers – but they were outnumbered by scores of up-and-coming models who primarily built their own businesses using cam shows, original clip stores and monetized social-media platforms.  The mass availability of easily pirated streaming video may have decimated the porn economy, but it seems that women are the ones adapting, finding fresh ways to connect directly with consumers.  As these models gain more economic influence, they are also raising the bar for consent conversations throughout the industry…

Tit For Tat

One day, our culture will grow up enough that this won’t be noteworthy:

Eva Sless…is a sex columnist, a sex educator and a sex worker  who…[is] married.  Sless’ husband, Justin…is completely supportive of her work, though they’re both aware it’s an unconventional life.  “I know we are a rare couple.  Our life and marriage is built on a foundation of strong friendship, trust, love, and respect…I don’t know if the life we live is for everyone, but it works for us. I love our world.”  Below, they tell us more about Sless’ work, how it affects their marriage and what Justin thinks of his wife’s clients…

Elephant in the Parlor (#806)  

This ought to be interesting:

Stormy Daniels, the porn star whom Donald Trump’s attorney acknowledges paying $130,000 just before Election Day, believes she is now free to discuss a…sexual encounter with the man who is now president…At the same time, developments…are fueling questions about whether such a payment could violate federal campaign finance laws.  Daniels…believes that Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, invalidated a non-disclosure agreement after two news stories were published [early last week]…one in which Cohen told The New York Times he made the six-figure payment with his personal funds, and another in the Daily Beast, which reported that Cohen was shopping a book proposal that would touch on Daniels’ story, said the manager, Gina Rodriguez.  “Everything is off now, and Stormy is going to tell her story,” Rodriguez said…

Watershed (#809)

When stuffy Time publishes an article who only major nod to prohibitionism is to quote dried-up dinosaur Gloria Steinem vomiting up her “body invasion” nonsense, you know things are changing:

Like millions of others, Melony Hill took to social media last fall to say “me too”…But rather than receiving an outpouring of support, Hill said she’s gotten messages saying that she deserved to be sexually assaulted — because she has worked in the sex industry for 20 years…“They’ll say we’re just whores anyway — ‘How can you sexually assault a whore?’ I’ve had that said to me multiple times”…Sex workers are particularly vulnerable to sexual violence on the job, but have few good options to report it…Some…sex…[workers] told Time that they have posted their #MeToo stories anonymously to avoid potential legal repercussions.  Others said that they don’t want to speak out publicly because they anticipate they’ll be shamed, or not believed because they aren’t “perfect victims”…there’s also the damaging notion that sex workers can’t be sexually assaulted…“Not all women are being supported in the #MeToo movement,” said Cris Sardina…of…Desiree Alliance…“It’s what type of woman”…

R.I.P. Laura Lee

A very nice tribute from The Herald:

She was, in the words of Scots author Kirstin Innes, “a powerhouse, a formidable, vital, hilarious and angry star”…Others described her as a “fierce warrior” for women.  She appeared regularly in the pages of this newspaper fighting the corner of the most marginalised women in society – sex workers.  She was Laura Lee – a brilliantly clever Irish woman who found an adoptive home in Scotland and made the choice to work in the sex industry.  Last week, she died aged just 39…

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