Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘naturalness’

America is a complicated, conflicted country founded by Puritans, constituted by libertarians and built by salesmen.  –  Mark Simpson

An Older Profession Than You May Have Thought

It’s impossible to state this too often:

While, on the surface, discussion of sex has become far more acceptable in recent years, in practise, many facts are still considered unpalatable.  And no subject arouses more emotion than the evolution of sex as a tradeable commodity: the biology of prostitution.  The idea that prostitution might be a biological impulse can deeply upset those with dogmatic viewpoints.  For religious people, the thought of a God that created prostitution is too much to take…But revulsion at the thought of sex trade goes far beyond religion.  As the political left has become increasingly conservative in its attitudes, it has become common to blame the existence of prostitution on Patriarchy or Capitalism.  Thus, for some feminists, banning prostitution is a part of their war on Patriarchy. And for socialists, attacking prostitution is part of a righteous war against Capital.  But the history of sex trade goes back many millions of years before humanity…

The Pro-Rape Coalition John Harvey Kellogg

This excellent article about anti-porn hysteria is also very droll at points:

PORN HORROR! headlines zoom repeatedly into our sightlines, warning us that pornography is “addictive” (despite an inconvenient lack of evidence), “ruins relationships” and “rewires men’s brains“, turning them into sex zombie automatons…The UK Government…is currently in the sweaty grip of…this hysteria.  With David Cameron’s controversial (and somewhat porous) ISP porn filters only recently installed, MPs are now turning their attention to the popularity of anal sex in online pornography…it’s important to note that the religious and legal definition of “sodomy” is not restricted to anal sex – it is essentially any non-procreative naughtiness, whatever the shape of the genitals involved…porn today is basically broadband sodomy – non-procreative sex acts piped into people’s hands for them to commit non-procreative sex acts over.  Current porn panics represent a digital-age, socially-concerned update of warnings about the terrible fate of Sodom and Gomorrah…The crusade against “fapping” is eerily reminiscent of the anti-masturbation movements of the 19th century …Dr John Harvey Kellogg…was one of the most famous foes of the “solitary vice”.  His bland cornflakes were supposed to save you from it – like porn today, an exciting diet was thought to lead to overstimulation…

Rooted in Racism

How can people not see that “sex trafficking” hysteria is firmly rooted in xenophobia?

…Although freedom of movement is guaranteed within the European Union, the right to stay – after the first three months – is dependent on new arrivals “exercising their treaty rights”, for example, by working or studying.  Operation Nexus, a combined police and immigration initiative…has been targeting [European migrants] …since 2012.  Among those detained and served with deportation papers are an increasing number of [sex workers] from…Romania…Several women fighting deportation are now being supported by the English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP)…Previous EU law cases have established that prostitution constitutes self-employment…

Saving Them From Themselves

Another teen’s life destroyed for flirting:

Another male teenager’s future is in jeopardy after police charged him with possession of child pornography…because he swapped sexy photos and videos with a girl.  Levar Allen, a 17-year-old athlete at his Louisiana public school, is black.  The girl, a 16-year-old, is white.  Local news stories note that she initiated the sexting, and he reciprocated…For what it’s worth, the girl was also charged with sexting.  But since she’s under the age of 17, it’s a misdemeanor.  Since Allen is a year older, he’s technically guilty of a felony…

Surplus Women

A prisoner is seeking an early release after having spent 15 years out of a life imprisonment…the Dubai Court of First Instance jailed the Uzbek convict, K.S., for life for trying to kidnap [a] Russian [sex worker], asphyxiating her and throwing her body from the balcony of [a] seven-storey flat…in 2001.  The 59-year-old petitioner has been…at Dubai Central Jail since his arrest on March 19, 2001…

Maier’s Law

Fanatic finds data disproves “sex trafficking” theory, concludes we need new data:

Sarah Godoy…has now authored a new comprehensive literature review of sex trafficking in the United States, with components of global human trafficking as well…Godoy included more than 135 pieces of [prohibitionist] literature [based] on [the] sex trafficking [narrative], dating from 1999 to 2016…While she found some enlightening and often horrific statistics…what she didn’t find was equally disturbing.  “Weak methodologies in empirical evidence, and small data sets that urge readers to not republish as…representative…That’s what we found.  We don’t really have a comprehensive, representative sample of what sex trafficking in the U.S. really is”…the [made-up] numbers compiled by Godoy are daunting.  According to the study, human trafficking is the fastest-growing criminal enterprise in the world…21 million…”I think it shows that not enough resources are being put into adequately capturing data…We have [myths about] what traffickers look like, but in every single capacity, there are a lot of gaps”…

Across the Pond

The main laws governing prostitution in the UK are still the 1956 Sexual Offences Act, which makes brothel-keeping an offence, and the 1959 Street Offences Act, which criminalises solicitation.  The Street Offences Act was created on the back of a 1957 document called the Wolfenden Report…[which] didn’t include testimony from a single working prostitute…Since sex workers began to demand a voice in law-making, there have been victories – the 1984 defeat of a dangerous bill; 2014’s quashing of another – but the pattern of legislating over their heads continued…And here we are in 2016, discussion raging once more.  Sex workers sidelined, once more.  When the current UK inquiry gathered oral evidence there [was]…just one current sex worker, Laura Lee…

The Last Shall Be First 

the Marion County [Florida] School Board approved a North Carolina-style Gender Inspection resolution that will prohibit transgender students from using the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity.  Over 100 people showed up to the School Board meeting…where this resolution was brought forward as an “emergency” agenda item just six days after it was introduced.  Forty-six people testified at the hearing, and the majority of testimony was in strong opposition…

The Course of a Disease

As I’ve said before, there can never be too many anti-Swedish model articles:

…What adherents to [the Swedish model pretend they]…don’t understand is that such laws only make working conditions much more dangerous for sex workers and do very little to curb the demand for commercial sex…laws criminalizing buyers…make…screening much more difficult…Since 2000, studies show, [Swedish] sex workers…have a much more difficult time negotiating safe sex (i.e. sex with condoms) and assessing dangerous clients…Sweden’s approach has actually increased the overall number of sex workers in that country and did not reduce trafficking in the region at all, according to the Swedish government’s own reports.  By contrast, countries that have decriminalized sex work…report no increase in…trafficking…and…sex workers in those countries are better able to protect themselves…

Soap Opera Trump hand sanitizer

For some reason, “sex trafficking” fetishists seem to trot out even more lurid masturbatory fantasies than usual for the Republican convention:

Both law enforcement and advocacy groups are predicting an increase in sex trafficking during Cleveland’s Republican National Convention in July…the Renee Jones Empowerment Center and the Collaborative Initiative to End Human Trafficking are actively working to [spread hysteria about] human trafficking in the weeks leading up to the convention.  “We know that it will occur,” said founder Renee Jones. “There’s no question in my mind”…Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution…visit…local motels to [harass]…employees [with nonsense about]…potential trafficking victims.  S.O.A.P volunteers…handed out…small bars of soap with a national trafficking hotline number.  The group’s founder, Therese Flores, [has made a career out of claims she] was once herself a trafficking victim and [repeats masturbatory fantasies about being] auctioned off at Detroit motel…

Original Sin

Officials invite religious fanatic to speak about her dogma, then feign surprise when she does:

…guest speaker Tajuan McCarty…told…roughly 300 people who attended…[an] event [at the US Army’s Redstone Arsenal] that “the only way to truly overcome the horrors of rape and sex trafficking is to have Jesus as your ‘King'”…McCarty is director of The Wellhouse in Birmingham, Alabama, often described as “a Christian home” for women rescued from the sex industry…[and] has told her [tragedy porn]…[on] 700 Club...

Under Every Bed

Another ridiculous tale of spineless women & pimps with magical powers:

…Yarmouth [Massachusetts] police raided a…house…and arrested a man on charges of running a prostitution operation…Police Chief Frank Frederickson [bloviated about] “Bringing women into this seedy atmosphere”…Kenneth E. Silva Jr…pleaded not guilty…Police…searched the house [and claimed] they found evidence of human trafficking…At least three women were working for Silva…Police did not arrest them because they were considered victims…pimps…control women through…a…”mind shift” [fantasized prohibitionist Stacy Gallagher]…”just like at major sporting events, women and kids are being sold.”

Paint By Numbers

“Anti-trafficking” publicity stunts are growing ever more bizarre:

Eddie Quann [imagines changes in propaganda represent changes in reality]…“Two years ago, 13-15 million people a year were being trafficked…Now…it’s 30-35 million.  It’s doubled.”  Human Trafficking — a modern-day form of slavery — is the second largest organized crime in the world next to drug trafficking…The workshop is a hands-on craft that runs about two-and-a-half hours.  Everyone is given a partially-made cloth doll, and with needle and thread, ribbon, yarn and so on, they stuff their doll and decorate it…As the dolls are sewn, participants learn all about human trafficking…“You can decorate it everywhere but the face,” said Gina. “The faceless doll represents all those sold into trafficking as faceless people.  To the ones selling them, who they are doesn’t matter.”  The doll goes home, hopefully to a prominent place in the house, as a reminder to pray daily for the millions of victims trapped in a degrading, powerless life…

Read Full Post »

How infinitely one of Your own Sex ador’d You, and that, among all the numerous Conquest, Your Grace has made over the Hearts of Men, Your Grace had not subdu’d a more intire Slave.  –  Aphra Behn

Some women are whores out of necessity, some by circumstance and some by nature, but Hortense Mancini carried whoredom in her blood.  She was an especially wild, bold and lusty whore from a family of whores, and a number of her descendants followed in her footsteps.  The fact that she, her family, her clients and her lovers were all noble as well does not change her essential whorishness, as we shall see; it did, however, ensure that her assignations, adventures and escapades would be recorded for posterity.

Hortense (or as her father called her, Ortensia) was born in Rome on June 6th, 1646; she was the fourth of five daughters borne by Girolama Mazzarini to her husband, Baron Lorenzo Mancini, who dabbled in astrology and black magic and died rather suddenly in 1650.  Fortunately, Giraloma’s older brother Giulio had joined the clergy, become active in politics, and risen to the rank of both cardinal and chief minister to Louis XIV of France (where he was known as Cardinal Mazarin); she therefore packed up her brood and moved them to Paris, where she hoped their powerful uncle would find them rich and influential husbands.  And that he did; Laure married Louis de Bourbon, duc de Vendôme; Olympe married Eugène-Maurice of Savoy-Carignano; Marie was the first love of the young Louis XIV, but was married off to Prince Lorenzo Colonna of Italy; and Marie Anne married Maurice Godefroy de la Tour d’Auvergne, duc de Bouillon.  But Hortense was the most beautiful and most favored by her uncle, so it’s unsurprising he turned down the suit of the penniless Stuart who was only a few months later restored to the throne of England as Charles II.  The cardinal then offered Charles a dowry of 5 million livres to make Hortense Queen of England, but Charles refused; this, however, does not mean he never got to bed the girl he was so enamored with; he just had to wait a few years.

Three months before her 15th birthday, Hortense was married off to Armand Charles de La Porte, Duc de La Meilleraye, one of the richest men in Europe; unfortunately, his miserliness and prudishness matched his wealth and he was also mentally ill.  Among his more bizarre behaviors were searching Hortense’s room for hidden lovers before locking her in at night, having his maidservants’ front teeth knocked out to make them unattractive, and vandalizing art to eradicate the genitals of human figures.  But this doesn’t mean he was uninterested in sex with his wife; within five years she had borne him four children.  Still, one can only imagine the dreariness of sex with such a man; sometime in 1666 she began a lesbian affair with Sidonie de Courcelles, and when he discovered them he sent them both to a convent (from which they escaped after tormenting the nuns for a while).  Finally, her brother helped her to escape her awful husband just a week after her 22nd birthday; he hired an escort to take her to Rome, where she moved in with her sister Marie (now the Princess Colonna).  King Louis was still very fond of Marie, and as a favor to her he granted Hortense an income of 24,000 livres.  She also became the mistress of the Duke of Savoy, whom her uncle had turned down as a suitor ten years before; he gave her a house, where she lived until his death in 1675.  At that point, two things happened:  the Duke’s jealous widow evicted her, and her husband managed to get a judgment freezing all of her income, including the royal pension.

Hortense was desperate; she only knew one way to get money, and nobody wanted to cross her powerful and vindictive husband.  In stepped Ralph Montagu, the English ambassador to France; he secured her passage to England (she made the voyage in male drag) and an introduction to her former suitor, Charles II…and Hortense did the rest.  By the summer of 1676 she had displaced Louise de Kerouaille as chief mistress, securing thereby an income of £4,000 (English money, inaccessible to her husband).  His Majesty did not much mind her lesbian affair with Anne, his 16-year-old daughter by Lady Castlemaine (except for the time they had a fencing match in their nightgowns in St. James’s Park); her affair with Louis I of Monaco, however, was another thing entirely.  He even cut off her income, and though he relented on the money less than three days later, he did not restore her to her position (which was again taken up by Louise de Kerouaille).

History does not have much to say about Hortense’s lovers after the King, except for a lesbian affair with the writer Aphra Behn.  After Charles’ death her income was continued by his brother James II, whose wife Mary was her cousin; even after James was deposed in 1689, Queen Mary II continued to support her (though at a lower level).  She spent her time running a salon in her home, and died of drink (or suicide, depending on whom one believes) on November 9th, 1699; she was 53 years old.  Her long-estranged husband then added a creepy epilogue to her story by claiming her body and taking it around France for months before finally allowing it to be buried in the tomb of her uncle, Cardinal Mazarin.

Back in the first paragraph I mentioned that several of Hortense’s descendants followed in her footsteps.  Her son, Paul Jules de La Porte, duc Mazarin et de La Meilleraye, had two children, a son and a daughter.   The son, Guy de la Porte, had a great-granddaughter who married Prince Honoré IV of Monaco in 1777 and thus became the ancestress of the current Prince.  But the daughter, Armande, married Louis de Mailly, Prince d’Orange and became the mother of five beautiful daughters, of which four would later become mistresses to King Louis XV of France; she herself became the mistress of the King’s chief minister, the Duc de Bourbon.  For some women, whoredom is only skin deep; some have it in their blood, and others are whores to the bone.  But Hortense Mancini was a whore down to her genes, and I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that many of her descendants are still plying the trade in one way or another to this day.

Read Full Post »

A man can go from being a lover to being a stranger in three moves flat…but a woman under the guise of friendship will engage in acts of duplicity which come to light very much later.  –  Anita Brookner

“We’re going to have to move soon; I really think Eleanor is beginning to suspect.”

“What makes you think that?” asked Hazel, handing him his drink and then moving behind him to rub his shoulders.

“Nothing I can really explain,” he said, then after a sip: “When you’ve been married to somebody for twenty-seven years, you get to know all her little ways, and you notice when they change.  You were married before, you know what I mean.”

“Yes.  But how do you know she isn’t cheating on you, too?”

Ted laughed.  “You don’t know Eleanor; she’s as cold a fish as there is.  We were both virgins when we got married, and once we were done having kids she just wasn’t interested any more.  I’ve already told you this more than once.”

“There’s no need to get testy,” she said reassuringly.  “I just want you to consider all the possibilities so you don’t start acting nervous and setting off her radar.”

“Like I said, I think I already have.  Oh, I’ve been very careful; before I met you I saw escorts for years, and before that I had cultivated a pattern of not really telling her much about my comings and goings.  And since she leaves the money to me, it’s always been easy to use as much as I want without her being the wiser.  But lately, she’s been requesting a lot more money for all sorts of things, as if she’s trying to probe the state of our finances.”

“Has she been questioning you or anything like that?” 2X

“No, she wouldn’t.  Eleanor is maddeningly indirect; she never makes a statement when an insinuation will do, and whenever she’s angry at me it always takes me days to figure out why.  I’ll never understand why so many women are like that; is it something on the X chromosome?”

“You have an X chromosome as well, Ted.”

“I know, but maybe something on the Y cancels it out.  Maybe real sneakiness requires a double X.”

“Oh, really!  Now you’re just being ridiculous.  I’m relatively straightforward, and you’re extremely sneaky; if quietly converting most of your investments to negotiable form so you can fly off to Tahiti with your mistress doesn’t qualify, I can’t imagine what would.”

Ted looked as though he had been slapped.  “I’m not leaving her destitute,” he said quietly; “In fact, as per your suggestion I transferred the house and several large investments into her name.  I just want to divide the money fairly rather than leaving it to courts and lawyers who would probably give her everything.”

“Oh, I’m sorry!” she said, hugging him closely.  “I didn’t mean to hurt you.  It’s just that I feel nervous, too, and dumb female stereotypes always get me irritated.  Please forgive me.”

“See, Hazel, this is what I’m talking about.  You know how many women would apologize like you just did?  Practically none.  That’s not a stereotype, it’s just the truth; men usually end up having to apologize no matter who was wrong.  I don’t think you really understand how different you are from most women.  I never believed I would fall in love with anyone ever again, much less want to live my life with her.  But you just make me feel so special, so safe.  I know I can trust you, and that we won’t end up being strangers sleeping in the same bed like Eleanor and me.”

“I promise you that will never happen,” she said through glistening eyes.  And then she kissed him, and for a while there was no more conversation.

****************************************************************

airliner in flightA few days later, though, she brought up the subject again on the airplane.  “I just can’t help but feel guilty about what we did.  I know the two of you really shouldn’t have married in the first place, and that you haven’t had a sex life in over 15 years.  I know the kids are grown up, and we really do love each other, and there really wasn’t a home to break up.  But damn, don’t you feel bad about running off with all the negotiables as well as the stuff he put in your name?”

Eleanor shrugged.  “Not really.  I left documents donating the house back to him, and he’s still under fifty; he has twenty more years to build up again, and with no alimony that’ll be easy with his salary.  He’ll be a lot better off in the long run than I would’ve been had he been the one to run off with you as he thought would happen.”

“I suppose you’re right,” sighed Hazel.  “But I still feel bad about playing him like I did.”

“No worse than he thought he was playing me,” Eleanor huffed.  “He got what he deserved.”

“Maybe,” she replied.  “But I guess he was right about women being the sneakier ones, after all.”

Read Full Post »

Impenetrable in their dissimulation, cruel in their vengeance, tenacious in their purposes, unscrupulous as to their methods, animated by profound and hidden hatred for the tyranny of man…  –  Denis Diderot, “On Women”

As I have written on numerous occasions, the fallacious notion of the prostitute as a specific type of woman, with characteristics that set her apart from all other women, is a relatively recent one.  Prior to the mid-19th century it was widely understood that transactional sex was a normal female behavior, one that any woman might engage in under the proper circumstances.  This is not to say that it was accepted and condoned; far from it.  But nobody imagined that a woman was entirely defined by the act, either, nor embraced the foolish fantasy that only women of a certain background or experience made the choice.  I have also often pointed out that women are far more pragmatic than men like to believe; many if not most of us, even those from relatively sheltered lives, are perfectly capable of trading sex for money or other advantages should the need arise.

Jeanne de ClissonCase in point Jeanne-Louise de Belleville, Dame de Montaigu, born in 1300 to the powerful Breton nobleman Maurice IV of Belleville-Montaigu and his wife Létice de Parthenay.  She was married off at the age of 12 to a 19-year-old nobleman named Geoffrey de Châteaubriant and bore him two children.  Geoffrey died young in 1326, and four years later she married Olivier III de Clisson, bearing him five children.  But while her first marriage seems to have been a typical one, the second one was unusually passionate for a 14th-century noble couple.  The two were extremely close, and Jeanne was very devoted to him…so devoted, in fact, that what would have been the easy and unremarkable life of a wealthy French noblewoman became remarkable indeed after her husband was executed for treason in 1343.

It happened like this:  in the early part of the Hundred Years War, there were two rival claimants for the title of Duke of Brittany; Charles de Blois was favored by the French and John de Montfort by the English.  Olivier was on the French side, but after he lost Vannes to the English in 1342, de Blois complained that Olivier had not fought enthusiastically enough, and accused him of having defected to the English.  Olivier responded, predictably enough, by defecting to the English, but was captured by French forces and beheaded by order of King Philip VI on August 2nd, 1343; in a particularly barbaric touch, his severed head was then displayed on a pole at Nantes.  Jeanne was devastated by his death and furious at the King and de Blois, and swore revenge on both.  But while a lesser woman might’ve been content with cursing them from afar, spreading rumors or bribing someone to poison the royal wine, Jeanne was no ordinary woman.  She promptly sold off all of the Clisson lands the King had not seized, purchased the three best warships she could find, and had them painted black and rigged with sails dyed blood-red.  To raise money for a crew and to win allies from amongst the other Breton noblemen (who were none too fond of the French to start with), she sold her favors to them and charmed them into swearing to support her.  Keep in mind she was 43 years old at the time, had borne seven children and presumably had only been to bed with two men before this; she must have had a powerful charisma.

But that charisma, however great, paled beside her hatred.  From 1343-1356 the “Lioness of Brittany” mercilessly hunted and pillaged every French ship she could find, slaughtering the crews except for one or two who would be released on shore to tell the King who it was that had done the deed.  At the Battle of Crécy (1346), she helped to secure an English victory by bringing in supplies on her ships.  And after King Philip died in 1350, Jeanne only got worse; apparently enraged at his having escaped her wrath by fleeing into Hades, she began specifically hunting down ships owned by French nobles, and whenever she caught one she would personally behead him with an axe and have his body thrown into the sea, despite the fact that she could’ve made tremendous profit by ransoming them.  Were this a Hollywood movie, she would have eventually caught up with Charles de Blois and given him his comeuppance, but real life is rarely so neat; de Blois not only outlived the Lioness by five years,Château de Clisson but was also made a saint (though the canonization was annulled by the next pope on request from the English-supported Duke John V of Brittany, whose side had eventually won).  By the time she was 56 Jeanne’s thirst for vengeance was apparently slaked at last; she retired from piracy, married Sir Walter Bentley (who had personally fought de Blois) and settled in Hennebont, France, where she died in 1359.  Her son, Olivier Jr, earned the sobriquet “The Butcher” for his fierceness in war; he obviously inherited that from his mother, whose ghost is supposed to haunt the ruins of the old Château de Clisson (which was destroyed during the French Revolution).

Jeanne de Clisson was neither poor nor disadvantaged; neither sexually abused as a child nor mistreated by a husband; and neither homeless nor addicted to any drug.  Perhaps it could be said that she was emotionally disturbed by the loss of her beloved husband, but if so it was a very lucid kind of madness:  Jeanne knew exactly what she was doing, and chose to sell sex as a means toward that end.  And though most whores have far more mundane goals than the death of a king and the downfall of an entire country, our choices are every bit as pragmatic – and often as temporary – as hers.

Read Full Post »

Bigotry is the disease of ignorance, of morbid minds.  –  Thomas Jefferson

This is not a real news story; I cobbled it together out of bits and pieces of five real articles, removing identifying details and changing just a few words here and there to make the point I wish to make.

miniskirtsLast Friday, the President signed the new Anti-Pornography Act into law; in addition to banning actual pornography it outlaws suggestive music videos and revealing clothing, specifically miniskirts and tops that show cleavage.  Then on Monday, he signed into law another bill toughening penalties for prostitutes after legislators agreed to remove a clause criminalizing those who do not report them to the police.  The new law allows life imprisonment as the penalty for acts of “aggravated prostitution”, which includes prostitution while infected with HIV; coercing anyone into prostitution; and paying for sex with a minor whether the customer was aware of her age or not.  The bill originally proposed the death penalty for these offenses, but that was later removed amid international criticism.  A section imposing a 14-year sentence for first-time offenders was removed, but a sentence of seven years for “attempting to commit prostitution” remains in the law.  It also criminalizes the “promotion of prostitution”, which includes allowing prostitutes to advertise in a publication or on a website; businesses or non-governmental organizations found guilty of “promotion of prostitution” would be fined $40,700 and have their certificates of registration cancelled, and directors could face seven years in jail.

The President said in an interview that prostitution is “unnatural” and not a human right.  “They’re disgusting.  What sort of people are they?” he said.  “I’ve been told recently that what they do is terrible.  Disgusting.”  He denied that prostitution had always been practiced in the country, claiming instead that it was a recent import from the West caused by pornography and the other “immoral influences” banned by the bill he signed Friday.  Lawmakers said the influence of Western lifestyles risked destroying family units.

Activists sharply criticized the new laws, claiming that both of them are designed solely to win votes from the evangelical churches in the 2016 elections.  “They are shallow and oppressive pieces of legislation that violate a host of fundamental human rights, including the right to freedom from discrimination, to privacy, freedom of association, peaceful assembly, opinion and expression and equality before the law — all of which are enshrined in the constitution and in the international treaties the legislature has ratified,” said one activist who wished to remain anonymous.  It was also alleged that the ministerial task team asked by the president to advise him on prostitution falsified the information contained in the report given by legal and psychological experts, twisting it to show that prostitution should indeed be further criminalized.  The Scientist Consensus Statement concluded that prostitution “needs regulation like any other human behavior, especially to protect the vulnerable”, and concludes:  “Prostitution has serious Public Health consequences and should therefore not be tolerated.”

The President insisted that activists are motivated by “mercenary reasons”, and stated that prostitution is more common in Western societies because “on account of random breeding, they have generated many abnormal people.”  His views are espoused by 96% of the population, leading activists to fear violence against those whose names appeared on a list of the “200 most wanted prostitutes” a tabloid published the day after the law was signed.  The front-page story included some pictures and many addresses, and carried the headline:  “EXPOSED!”

sexual minorities UgandaMost of you have probably already guessed that the real country is Uganda, the real president is Yoweri Museveni, and the real activity being prohibited is homosexuality rather than prostitution (except for the first sentence, which is almost verbatim from the original article).  All the quotes from the president and others are also essentially verbatim.  There is one major difference between my patchwork construct and the originals, however:  the originals contain statements like, “The White House issued a statement [saying] ‘Instead of standing on the side of freedom, justice, and equal rights for its people, today, regrettably, Ugandan President Museveni took Uganda a step backward’…”  But as we know all too well, there isn’t a government in the world with the nobility and decency to openly criticize other countries’ abusive legal regimes against sex workers, and the Hypocrite-in-Chief of the United States feels entitled to criticize one other country’s treatment of one sexual minority while at the same time he actively promotes horrific abuse of another all over the world.

Read Full Post »

This essay first appeared in Cliterati on January 19th; I have modified it slightly for time references and to fit the format of this blog.

Idealized Portrait of a Courtesan as Flora by Bartolomeo Veneto (1520)For most of human history, nobody thought of taking money for sex as a defining activity.  This is not to say that there were no whores, because of course there were; it isn’t called “the world’s oldest profession” for nothing.  But it wasn’t the fact that a woman took money for sex which defined her as a whore, but rather the fact that she made a living from it.  As I wrote in my Cato Unbound essay, “Treating Sex Work as Work”,

…It was almost universally understood that many working-class women and a not-inconsiderable number of those in higher classes would accept money for sex, at least on occasion, and it was impossible to draw a bright, clear line between behaviors that constituted “prostitution” and those (such as concubinage, mistresshood, and political marriage) which did not despite their often-mercenary basis.  The manifold laws regulating sex work were not intended to preclude pragmatic motivations for sexual behavior, but rather to keep up appearances, guard the purity of bloodlines, and maintain public order.  But as the Victorian Era dawned, a new idea began to take hold of European minds: if science could perfect Man’s tools and techniques, why couldn’t the same process be applied to Mankind itself?  The immediate result of turning (pseudo-)scientific inquiry upon sex was that taking money for it was no longer considered merely something that “unladylike” or “sinful” women did for a living or extra income; instead, the “prostitute” was defined into existence as a specific type of woman, separate and distinct from other women.

Prior to the 19th century, any sexual behavior outside of marriage was considered “sinful”, regardless of its motive, but there were also class considerations; sexual “immorality” was both expected and assumed of working-class women, and whether a girl occasionally asked for money or not could make little difference in the way she was perceived by her so-called “betters”.  This is why it was not unusual in pre-industrial cultures for a disgraced upper-class woman to turn to sex work; once she had fallen from her elevated station, taking money for sex did no more harm.  But once the idea of “prostitution” as some uniquely disgraceful activity was invented, and the “prostitute” was defined as the lowest of the low, it was inevitable that women who would previously have been considered more or less the same as whores would attempt to draw lines between themselves and the new pariah class.  And once governments began to criminalize prostitution or activities around it as a result of the new ideas, distinguishing oneself from a “common prostitute” became a matter not only of dignity, but practical necessity.

The first group to successfully shed the whore stigma was actresses, who had since classical times been considered interchangeable with harlots; after the dawn of cinema they actually moved into a de facto higher social class, especially in the United States.  Dancers whose style could be credibly represented as asexual or highbrow (preferably both) followed them, then masseuses and women who had extramarital sex for non-financial reasons.  In the past several decades, the number of such groups has exploded and now includes many whose claim to being different from sex workers is threadbare indeed; burlesque dancers, competition pole dancers, glamour and lingerie models, professional “cuddlers”, nude maids, waitresses catering to sexual fantasies  and even sugar babies insist that they are different from strippers, hookers and fetish workers in some real (and legally defensible) way.  Even people who are directly paid for a hands-on sexual service claim that being “certified” or “spiritual” or whatever makes them not sex workers, and some who cannot possibly deny that they are still pretend to be “better” than other sex workers because they are “legal”, or because they don’t have direct intercourse and parrot “trafficking” propaganda to kiss up to cops.  But this example from the January 15th Guardian takes the biscuit:  “As a professional dominatrix, I…[know] sex is a human need, and kink can be a meaningful part of the sexual spectrum.  We sex workers turn the erotic into a humane and powerful art.  [But] too many of us, particularly escorts, are miserable slaves, and we must fight tirelessly for their freedom…Mudflap Girl Tesselation  Way to go there, Margaret Corvid; boost yourself up on the backs of all us pathetic, dirty escorts…oh, excuse me, “miserable slaves”.  Because only wonderful, superior dominatrices can choose freely, while those of us who prefer to sell more mundane sexual services are clearly dysfunctional.  In my essay “Whorearchy” I wrote,

…a whore is a whore is a whore, and legal, moral or procedural lines serve only to break people into smaller groups which are more easily dominated by the power-hungry.  If you accept money from someone that he gives due to sexual interest in you, then you are a whore and everything else is just semantics.  When politicians, pundits or rulers use some arbitrary determinant like penetration, duration, location or motivation to bless some harlots while damning others, what they’re actually doing is reducing the size of the group who might oppose them and winning supporters from among those granted legitimacy.  This is why I’m harshly unsympathetic to those who vehemently maintain that their species of sex work or sensual therapy is absolutely not prostitution:  all they’re doing is throwing other women under the bus, and if we had all stuck together from the beginning of second-wave feminism…prostitution would’ve been decriminalized long ago and many women who are now dead or damaged might still be alive and healthy…

As I’ve pointed out before, gay people only won their civil rights by forming a coalition, and until sex workers stop drawing arbitrary lines between each other and accepting the lies and false divisions promoted by those in power, we will never have the same kind of success.

Read Full Post »

When the newspapers have got nothing else to talk about, they cut loose on the young.  –  Kenneth Rexroth

goofy woman swinging hammerAs I’ve written before, all prohibitionism is the same:  some object, substance or activity is depicted as intrinsically harmful  regardless of context or actual outcome, a connection to children is invented if one does not exist, and the prohibitionists then argue that any abrogation of personal liberty (no matter how invasive) and any expansion of the police state (no matter how destructive, evil and counterproductive) is justified to stop the threat to Our Treasured Way of Life.  Moral panics involving young people are basically interchangeable as well: parents discover their (usually biologically adult) offspring doing something unfamiliar; overreact; imagine all sorts of horrible consequences that probably didn’t actually happen; insist that someone else induced their perfect, innocent little angel to do this horrible thing; and then pretend that it’s a “growing problem” because they refuse to believe that Johnny or Suzie might be unusual in any (bad) way.  The penultimate item in that list will likely be embraced by the young person in an attempt to eschew responsibility, and the ultimate is amplified by the Law of the Instrument:  once the outraged parent is armed with this shiny new hammer, suddenly nails in need of pounding start appearing all over the place.  The interesting thing is that it makes no difference whether the behavior might conceivably pose genuine risks or if it’s completely harmless:  the parent’s moral outrage, lack of rational thought and unwillingness to accept parental responsibility for the youth’s mistakes are the drivers of the panic, not any genuine assessment of danger.

What made me think of this was the development of two moral panics in the same week and just a few hundred kilometers apart:  the one which started in Nova Scotia involved a behavior which could pose real risks, while the one which started in Rhode Island was mere juvenile foolishness, yet the reactions to the two and the development of the panic were essentially interchangeable. Let’s start with the Nova Scotia case:

A Halifax mother is on a quest to stop underage prostitution…after discovering her daughter was appearing on classified sites with near-nude images of herself…A CBC News investigation reveals that the problem of underage prostitution is growing, and police are seeing more girls — some as young as 13 — being exploited…Karen said she learned that there are many girls — at least 40 — in the area selling their bodies for sex…Her daughter says she’s out of it, but that isn’t enough for Karen…Fiona Traynor is chair of the board at Stepping Stone, an outreach organization for sex workers based in Halifax.  She said some young girls may be hesitant to come forward because service providers [are legally required]…to report any [underage sex worker to the cops, which] puts a barrier between offering services and being in conflict with the law…

Now, even as a whore who fully supports both a woman’s right to harlotry and a biological adult’s right to do as she pleases with her own body, I can understand a mother getting upset over discovering that her daughter was doing full-fledged sex work with ads and all.  We aren’t told how old the girl was (I’m going to guess 16 because if she were any younger the reporter would have been sure to mention it), but it’s pretty clear she was pretty damned careless to use an ad in which she could be recognized by the person who ratted her out to Mom.  Anyone that careless isn’t ready for professional-level sex work; she should have stuck to dating college guys she could hit up for cash.  Furthermore, given all the prohibitionist disinformation flying about nowadays, it’s unsurprising that the mother had a conniption.  But that’s not actually what’s at issue here; the problem is that after resolving the situation with her daughter to her satisfaction, she has taken it upon herself to harass, endanger and sic the cops on other people she does not know, waving her ignorance as a flag while charging wildly across an imaginary battlefield bellowing that oft-heard cri de guerre, “FOR THE CHIIIIILDREEEEEENNNNN!!!!”  And the reporter, rather than investigating the facts, reports the whole thing without a trace of skepticism, larding the account with the usual Copspeak and silly dysphemisms.

Now, here’s the one from Rhode Island:

A middle school in Portsmouth, R.I. recently sent parents an alarming e-mail about kids who are “snorting” or “smoking” Smarties, a silly fad in which kids grind up the tart candy into a fine powder, then blow out the vapor as if they were smoking…Yet everyone is worried. Portsmouth School Committee Chair Dave Croston asserts that the fad “would not be normal behavior” (God forbid!), and raises the “troubling issue of modeling.”  That is, kids who pretend to smoke today will become smokers later.  The warning sent to parents also cautions that the act may be a “precursor to future cigarette smoking and drug use.”  I don’t know of any empirical data to support that contention…in 2009, a Wall Street Journal article on [a previous iteration of] the alleged trend quoted a Mayo Clinic physician who warned that the act could lead to something called nose maggots.  That was also mentioned in the warning to Portsmouth parents.  Local blogger John McDaid  interviewed that doctor, who conceded that he’d never actually seen a case of “nose maggots” from Smarties, only that it was a possibility.  Nevertheless, the fallout from these panics has already led to suspensions of students across the country  for improper ingestion of a confectionery…

smoking SmartiesThese parents and teachers, their heads full of drug-war propaganda and “social construction” idiocy, go off exactly the same way as the Nova Scotia mother, despite the relative harmlessness of the observed behavior; when McDaid sent the story to CBS, they turned it into a scare story which called it a “dangerous activity” and included an interview with a loon who not only said it could be fatal, but also opined that “children who engage in this behavior may need a mental health evaluation from a medical professional.”  I agree that somebody needs a mental health evaluation, but it isn’t kids playing a silly game.  Fortunately, because of the internet we are no longer at the mercy of big media corporations selling panic for a fast buck; there are plenty of writers challenging the “sin, fear and crime” mold into which the mainstream outlets try to force any story about behavior which isn’t mind-numbingly conformist.  Here’s what a skeptical blogger had to say about the “quest to stop underage prostitution”:

A teenage girl becomes involved in sexual activity that most grownups, regardless of their own sexual behaviour as teens, find shocking and horrific…the distraught…parents construct a frame…[which] invariably posits the existence of a large but hitherto unacknowledged social problem that explains how a good child falls into bad situations…a journalist…[publicizes the] salacious…story…in which digital media are implicated…and…police are interviewed…[they] call for greater resources…and…powers…to deal with the putative trend…In extreme cases, this unholy coalition will propel politicians to pass hastily contrived, ill-thought-out legislation giving authorities over-broad powers to address problems that may or may not exist.

Some say the internet is killing the traditional media, and when I compare the way they handle stories like this to the way alternative sources like bloggers do, I must say that their death isn’t coming quickly enough to suit me.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »