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Posts Tagged ‘neofeminism’

I am not sure when being a selfish, misogynistic jerk became a medical disorder.  –  David Ley

Do As I Say, Not As I Do 

When another man pays an underage sex worker, she’s a “sex trafficking victim”.  When a cop does it, she’s an “underage hooker”:

A Bronx cop was busted for having sex with an underage girl and recording their encounters — even after the investigation started and his home had been searched…Raul Olmeda was arraigned on a 67-count indictment…[because] five times between January and April…[he] paid the teen for sex…police found out about them while conducting a sex trafficking investigation…Olmeda’s lawyer, Stuart London, said…”This isn’t numerous underage women.  This is one underage woman, and we don’t know her credibility at all”…

The Daily News changed the last word of the headline after people jumped on them for the language, but you can still see it in the URL.

The Proper Study

It looks like Scott Cunningham has finally done a good one:

In a groundbreaking study, researchers at Baylor and West Virginia universities have found evidence indicating that Craigslist’s erotic advertising site may have prompted a 17 percent decrease in female homicides throughout the United States, principally because sex workers were able to use the free advertising service to move into a safer indoor environments and screen clients more carefully…The study, which has been submitted to a peer-reviewed economics journal, offers…evidence of what sex workers have been saying for years: that having the ability to advertise online for their services allows them to work in safer indoor environments and screen out violent clients.  The new study reinforces previous research showing a decline in sexual violence in regions where prostitution has been legalized or decriminalized…the researchers also did an analysis of how many more police officers would need to be hired to reduce the female homicide rate by the same percentage that Craigslist’s free service apparently did.  They concluded that this would require an additional outlay of 200,832 police officers, costing the U.S. an added $20 billion per year.  “Craigslist, in other words, saved 2,150 female lives at a profoundly lower social cost,” concluded the three authors, Scott Cunningham…Gregory DeAngelo…and John Tripp…

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic 

If Weinstein brings down the “sex addiction” scam, he’ll have inadvertently done some good in the world:

…While there’s no official confirmation of where Weinstein is headed or what type of therapy he may be getting, experts…said that…he’s not a sex addict.  And most say there’s no such thing as sex addiction…Holly Richmond…said…”There is no such thing as sex addiction”…[Dr. David] Ley says…“We see this parade of men getting caught…then they claim their behavior is the result of this alleged disorder when we all know these were men who were abusing their power and privilege…after 40 years…there is still no published evidence that this treatment works…This is an exploitative industry that loves to capitalize on these celebrity sex addiction scandals so they can get referrals”…

Yellow Fever

Like the New York Times, the BBC has discarded whatever credibility it once enjoyed:

Basis Yorkshire was set up to support sex workers across Leeds in 1989.  Over that time, we have worked closely with sex workers across the sex industry to provide safety, information and support…We believe the BBC documentarySex, Drugs and Murder; Life in the Red Light Zone has done a great deal of damage to the stereotypes of sex workers in Leeds (and across the country) by portraying the women in a highly sensationalist, voyeuristic way.  The footage often none-to subtly focuses the shot on drug paraphernalia and rubbish in their home, or the area they work in – giving deliberately unpleasant, grubby feel to the program and the women that are featured…The program could have been made about a group of women with complex needs and had the same content – but…[instead] focuses only on women who have severe addiction issues, or on complex, even at times violent, social situations, rather than allowing viewers to see the diversity of women we work with (or indeed the diversity of the lives of the women they chose to film)…

Skin To Skin

A “feminist” calls other women “toilets” for ministering to disabled men:

Men with disabilities are a hugely important group served by sex workers” [tweeted] Amy Alkon…Check out the, paternalism, uh, maternalism [in the response] here, from social psychologist Dina McMillan


All-Purpose Excuse

Meanwhile, Oakland allows cops whose actions DO qualify as “trafficking” under law to get away scot-free:

Following a controversial Aug. 16 raid of a West Oakland home by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, Oakland Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick said repeatedly that the operation was part of a criminal human trafficking investigation…but…the raid hasn’t resulted in a single criminal prosecution…the only person arrested, Santos de Leon, is facing civil immigration charges and could be deported..ICE has recently begun to classify the act of providing shelter and other assistance to unaccompanied minors who recently immigrated to the United States as “human trafficking,” and is charging adults, often close family members, with the crime…by providing assistance to ICE for the raid, OPD violated Oakland’s sanctuary city policies…Kirkpatrick made false statements on several occasions — including in emails to city councilmembers, statements at a town hall meeting, and through several OPD press releases — about the raid…The statements included a social media posting from OPD asserting that the arrest was related to “sex trafficking”..and that…victims were rescued by ICE and received services.  But there is no evidence to back up those statements…

Signs 

The dysphemisms are thick in this one:

Students at Quinnipiac University’s law school [who have never done sex work] have [indoctrinated] nearly 1,000 of Connecticut’s hospitality industry workers on how to recognize and report the [mythical] signs of sex trafficking…Taylor Matook [said]…“we have a narrative.”  By [filling the heads of] hospitality workers with [sexual fantasies, prohibitionists]…hope to [create an army of stool pigeons]…to stop…sex [workers from making a living by turning them in to the pigs]…Theresa Leonard…founder of a ministry [fantasizing about] eradicating sex [work] in Connecticut, said…“It’s amazing to me how few women [agree with my claim]…that they were exploited or trafficked”…

The Prudish Giant (#641)

People sometimes ask why I’m not on Facebook:

Leila is a sex worker.  She goes to great lengths to keep separate identities for ordinary life and for sex work, to avoid stigma, arrest, professional blowback, or clients who might be stalkers (or worse).  Her “real identity”—the public one…joined Facebook in 2011.  Her sex-work identity is not on the social network at all; for it, she uses a different email address, a different phone number, and a different name.  Yet earlier this year, looking at Facebook’s “People You May Know” recommendations, Leila…was shocked to see some of her regular sex-work clients.  Despite the fact that she’d only given Facebook information from her vanilla identity, the company had somehow discerned her real-world connection to these people—and, even more horrifyingly, her account was potentially being presented to them as a friend suggestion too, outing her regular identity to them.  Because Facebook insists on concealing the methods and data it uses to link one user to another, Leila is not able to find out how the network exposed her or take steps to prevent it from happening again…When Leila queried secret support groups for sex workers, others said it had happened to them too…

This isn’t new; I first heard about it about a year or so after starting this blog.

Morality Lessons (#689)

No, this isn’t the same huge child porn site run by the FBI; this is a different one:

The world’s largest child sexual abuse forum, “Childs Play” is running in the darkweb. [Nowegian newspaper] VG exposed…[that Australian police are] behind the website’s continued operation…Under the supervision of Jon Rouse, detective inspector, and investigator Paul Griffiths, thousands of members have shared photos and videos of children being sexually abused…Some members of the forum got together in person to commit child abuse, which they filmed and shared on the forum…the police deny they are responsible for what was shared on [their own website] while they ran it…

Morality Lessons (#703)

A Utah politician’s bizarre anti-porn antics continue:

For the past 14 years, Utah has made do without a “porn czar.”  The position—officially known as the “Obscenity and Pornography Complaints Ombudsman”—has been vacant since 2003, though it was never officially eliminated.  Now state Sen. Todd Weiler…may revive it, even as the Utah attorney general suggests legislators strike it from the books.  Weiler has been on an anti-porn crusade for several years now.  He’s the architect of a 2016 declaration to declare porn a public health crisis (which passed the state legislature unanimously) and a proposal passed earlier this year to encourage “porn addicts” to sue porn platforms…Weiler “says he became convinced that the obscenity and pornography complaints office may be needed because of an ad campaign attacking Cosmopolitan magazine as illegal porn”…

I kinda hope the “Cosmo is porn” nonsense continues; maybe it’s push the magazine into siding with sex workers.  Weiler is also the dangerous loon who claimed sex workers “force” cops to rape us.

Checklist (#755)

The real purpose of this scheme is to cut sex workers off from the healthcare system:

Arizona State University College of Nursing and Health Innovation Assistant Professor Samantha Calvin spoke at the 14th Annual Human Trafficking and Social Justice Conference in Ohio last month…Calvin focused on human trafficking in the clinic setting, red flags to look for, questions to ask and what to do if someone is identified…

You may recall that ASU, home of Dominique “Body Fluids” Sepowitz, is a major hotbed of “sex trafficking” propaganda and source of several bogus studies made to order to support both the hysteria and carceral “solutions” to the nonexistent “problem”.

Of Course It Is (#758)

I hope none of you find this even remotely surprising:

Charges that Oakland [pig] Giovanni LoVerde sexually assaulted an underage girl were dismissed…after Alameda County prosecutors dropped the case…Several other Oakland [swine] were not criminally charged in the case, but twelve were disciplined by the department, and four were fired.  Some…still work at OPD despite social media evidence they sexually exploited the girl or ignored signs of wrongdoing…many more Northern California [pigs] were implicated in the sprawling sex crimes scandal, but few have faced criminal prosecution.  The dismissal of the case against LoVerde ends, for now, the Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley’s effort to prosecute five Oakland cops — three former and two current — as well as a former Contra Costa County sheriff’s deputy and a former Livermore police officer who all exploited the girl…

The Widening Gyre (#778) 

Watching “sex trafficking” hysteria spin out of control is deeply gratifying:

School officials in Ohio are on alert following reports of a drone…at Windemere Community Learning Center in Akron over the weekend..several witnesses [claim to have] heard a voice coming from the drone, attempting to coax the children off the playground”…This bizarre story is not questioned by the media, because whether or not the threat is real, doesn’t matter…of course, the advice given to parents is always the same — just as it has been in all the reports of “near” abductions by sex traffickers at the local store (that never actually occurred): PARENTS, NEVER LET YOUR KIDS OUT OF YOUR SIGHT!…

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So last week NBC News tweeted this vile, disgusting example of primitive leader-worship so obsequious it may make you vomit; everyone involved in this, or who thinks it’s wonderful, deserves to be ruled by fucking emperors again.  The childish need for all-powerful, superhuman heroes to tell you what to do is exactly what put Trump in power.  It’s exactly why the US is busily engaged in murdering people all over the world.  It’s why you’re groped before you can get on an airplane.  It’s why cops are murdering innocent people in the street without any repercussions whatsoever.  It’s why you no longer have the civil rights so many fought so hard for.  It’s why the US cages five times as many people as civilized countries do.  It’s why you have Gestapo asking for your fucking papers every time you turn around.  THIS; naked fascist authoritarianism.  And you know what?  I totally wouldn’t care if it didn’t affect me.  You are a free individual who has the absolute right to bow and scrape before an inhuman monster merely because she has a vagina if that’s what you like; go for it.  The problem is that you want to drag me along with you and I DO NOT CONSENT.  I don’t consent to authoritarians and fascists spying on me, robbing me, and threatening me with violence every time I try to do anything they don’t like.  I don’t consent to having my life, my sexuality, my substance use and even my fucking food intake monitored by “authorities” or “experts”.  And I don’t give a shit whether those control freaks have penises, vaginas, both or neither.  Evil is evil, tyranny is tyranny, and I DO NOT CONSENT, now or ever. 

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So all the neofeminists, crypto-moralists and consent-culture fanatics are upset because Hugh Hefner bought the mausoleum drawer next to the one holding Marilyn Monroe’s skeletal remains; most of these articles by folks without actual problems to worry about use phrases like “without her consent”, as though a carcass could consent to anything even before it completely rotted away.  Yes, actual adult humans are up in arms over the fact that a hunk of rotting meat is going to be sealed up in a box next to another one containing a half-century mouldered set of bones.  Really, people.  I know y’all have cherished mumbo-jumbo sympathetic magic beliefs about corpses, but the truth is that they’re hunks of dead meat, bones and viscera that quickly decompose into fertilizer.  They’re nothing but garbage.  They’re not “sacred” or magic; they don’t have mystic powers, nor even much monetary value unless they were under 40 or so and the organs are removed within minutes after death.  They’re not people; they have no feelings, and they can’t be “desecrated” because they aren’t sacred in the first place.  And they absolutely, positively, have no ability to “consent” to jack shit, nor does their nonexistent consent need to be sought.  Next you’re going to tell me it’s “creepy” that all the garbage from all the sex symbols in Hollywood are thrown together into the same dump without the previous owners’ “consent”.  OMG MEN’S SHIT GETS TREATED IN THE SAME PLANT AS WOMEN’S WITHOUT THEIR CONSENT!  RAAAAAPE!!!!  Furthermore, stop calling graves “final resting places”.  They’re garbage cans; nobody is “resting” there.  Organic matter is decomposing; that’s all.  I believe in souls; some of you reading this do and some don’t.  But I think we all agree that at death, whatever makes a person human departs; it’s gone, for good.  There is nothing of it left in the cadaver, which is no more “sacred” than discarded clothes.  The idea that the corpse is “sacred” is a primitive one from the childhood of Mankind; some believed (and a few still do) that at the end of the world souls would come back into their bodies, which would re-animate.  You know the song “Dem Bones“?  That’s what it’s about.  But this is a childish belief for childish minds.  One can believe in souls or gods without the silly notion that stiffs need to be cherished like treasured keepsakes for the next 5 billion years (which is roughly the end of the world).  Guess what?  If bodies really do need to be preserved for that long for you to have eternal life, you’re shit out of luck because I guarantee no one skeleton is going to be in resurrectable condition in a period of time further into the future than life has existed on Earth.  A couple of partial fossils maybe, from all the humans that have ever existed, all hundred billion or so of us.  So let this dumbass corpse-worship shit go; it’s even stupider than the pretense that a person’s motive for sex can magically pollute it and harm all women everywhere.  Which is to say, extremely stupid. 

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When you’ve been a sex worker for as long as I have, you begin to notice that the stigma against us isn’t just limited to cops, anti-sex fundamentalists, politicians, Puritans, busybodies and the Great Unwashed who swallow every lie they’re spoon-fed by all of those other groups; it extends to many, many people who should know better.  The ACLU, which in former times even stood up for the rights of despised groups like Nazis and the KKK, largely remains silent on the topic of sex work; oh, they’ll throw us a bone now and again, like a low-effort editorial, an amicus brief in a case somebody else is struggling to pay for, or the signing of a group letter in opposition to an insanely anti-whore law which just happens to create fallout that will hurt good people and not just dirty whores.  But most of the time, despite decriminalization being part of the group’s official platform since 1975, when an ACLU member opens her mouth on the subject in public it’s to vomit out prohibitionist shit like “people don’t choose to become prostitutes” that they need to have their faces forcibly rubbed in until they learn better.  The rest of the time, they’re too busy with Very Important Issues like the “right” of wealthy white queers to force bigots to bake $500 cakes for their displays of conspicuous consumption, or the “right” of women to beat, rob & murder people with impunity by putting on a magic costume.  But when it comes to the actual civil rights of people to have consensual sex and do the work of their choice without interference from armed thugs trying to stalk, entrap, rob, rape, brutalize and cage them, and otherwise destroy their lives?  Crickets.

And then there’s Gay, Inc, my term for the coalition of powerful organizations that have been instrumental in winning rights for queer people.  One would think, given that a very large fraction of sex workers are GLBT in one way or another; that more than 10% of transwomen admit to having done sex work (the real number is probably much higher); that in the early days of gay rights transactional sex was not only accepted, but celebrated; that before the ’90s many closeted gay men’s only sexual outlet was with sex workers; that even a very large fraction of female sex workers are lesbian or bisexual; and that the fucking riots which started the whole fucking gay rights movement in the first goddamned place were started by black trans sex workers, that Gay, Inc would be not only duty-bound but enthusiastic to support sex worker rights.  And one would be wrong; with the exception of a short-lived, chauvinistic and breathtakingly ignorant explosion of anger after the Rentboy raid, picket-fence gay boys and buttoned-up-to-the-neck lesbians have devoted all their energy and money to causes most gender and sexual minorities don’t give a flying fuck about, such as government-issued fucking licenses; the “right” to be a pig, screw or grunt; corporate sponsorship of “Pride parades” that cost enough to feed a small impoverished nation for a month; or the “right” to force bigots to bake the aforementioned overpriced cakes (one wonders what kind of unexamined privilege is necessary to trust eating food prepared by someone who hates you and is only complying at virtual gunpoint).  Oh, and let’s not forget the “right” to send the pigs after streetwalkers who dare to enter their gentrified neighborhoods; you know, the same pigs that used to raid their fucking nightclubs, back when they used to go to nightclubs to pick up guys (including, oh yeah, rentboys & hustlers).  The “leaders” of Gay Inc even openly compare sex workers to “killers or psychopaths”, and participate in the demonization of our clients.

And then there are “feminists”, whose idea of supporting women’s rights is infantilizing us, getting us evicted from our homes and killing us by slow starvation, when they’re not openly advocating for us to be murdered.  And I don’t just mean the mainstream ones, who have always been religious fundamentalists since the beginning; I mean whitebread feminists like Jill Filipovic with no real agenda intellectually more complex than the average Sex and the City episode.

To be sure, there are yellow, lily-livered followers in all of these groups who absolutely know that it’s wrong to persecute people for consensual sex; some of them were even given a little bit of the courage they otherwise totally lack by the announcement of Amnesty International’s backing of decriminalization.  But until the majority of the members of these groups grow a spine and start standing up for what they absolutely know in their hearts to be right, their deafening silence is just as damaging to us as are the cops and the laws which enable their depredations.

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The…big problem is dealing with middle class saviours trying to save me from my job.  –  Sarah from Bristol

Advice for Clients

Ignore step two, because you’ll almost certainly be breaking some law. But the rest of this is pretty good:

So you’ve decided to spend time with an escort, but now what?  Your first call can be nerve-wracking, and you don’t want to creep the woman out!  Start with Step 1 below to learn how to make things easier on yourself, and on your potential date…

Hey prohibitionists: we’re winning, and there’s not a damned thing you can do about it.

Jezebel 

The owner has since taken down all the pirated porn and apologized:

Bellesa.co is essentially a piracy curator.  This site subsists…off of pirated videos.  Those videos have been uploaded to other piracy-based tube sites, and then a person or persons at Bellesa.co curates them into the single biggest piracy site focused entirely on female-centric videos.  This site is absolutely no more ethical than The Pirate Bay or any number of piracy sites designed to exploit producers and performers for financial gain…it…puts ZERO DOLLARS into the pockets of female producers or performers…

Rooted in Racism

Hmmm, I wonder why they accused this particular restaurateur?

A few weeks ago, RÚV (The Icelandic National Broadcasting Service)  reported on the Chinese restaurant Sjanghæ in Akureyri, claiming its owner, a Chinese born woman, was suspected of human trafficking…RÚV [accused] the owner…of paying her Chinese staff a monthly salary of 30.000 kr ($285)…[when actually] the staff’s monthly salary was 465 thousand krónas ($4355), which is well over the Icelandic minimum wage of 300 thousand ($2810)…the restaurant has been closed since RÚV’s report, as no customers have wanted to show up…[Jóhannes Sigurðarson, Sjanghæ’s lawyer] believes the restaurant will open again, although it’s unclear when exactly.  He and the owner will be determining shortly whether or not to press charges…

Trafficking, Trafficking Everywhere!

Prohibitionists are desperate to make New Zealand look bad:

A report, released by University of Auckland researcher Natalie Thorburn, claims child sex trafficking is prevalent in New Zealand and children as young as 12 were being exploited for money and drugs…Counsellor Tania Blomfield [claimed] that she knew of a child as young as nine being forced into the sex trade by her mother…Blomfield [fantasizes] child sex trafficking is “a growth industry, sadly.  I think it’s getting worse and worse because we are not dealing with it”.  However National Coordinator for the Prostitutes’ Collective Catherine Healy says sex trafficking is a catch all phrase that does not fully describe the situation…”Let’s not conflate it with sex work and say ‘oh they’ve been trafficked into sex work’ when actually they’re being abused by family members”…

The Prudish Giant

Though this is about coerced labor, Wal-mart is notoriously anti-sex and IJM is one of the sleaziest of the rescue industry groups; I suspect this will soon turn to whore persecution:

International Justice Mission…announced support from the Walmart Foundation to address human trafficking, also known as modern slavery, in the Thai fishing industry…there has not yet been a comprehensive study documenting the prevalence of forced labor and exploitation of fishermen on Thai fishing vessels.  With funding from the Walmart Foundation, IJM commissioned Issara Institute to conduct groundbreaking research in Thailand documenting the prevalence of forced labor…

Law of the Instrument (#560)

It’s not the number of “human trafficking victims” that’s increased, but the number of “human trafficking” charges:

The numbers of victims of human trafficking in Ireland has almost doubled in four years, with 94 [claimed] to have been children…The majority of…persons [labeled by “authorities” as “trafficked”] between 2012-2016 were women, with most subject to sexual exploitation…The authors of the report, however, [fantasize] that the true scale of trafficking could be much higher…

Remember, Ireland charges people with “human trafficking” for crimes ranging from undocumented immigration to rape.

An Example To the West (#582) 

Not so long ago, most US brothels were owned by sex workers:

…Dennis Hof…is offering the 540 women who work in his brothels the chance to buy shares.  He first wants to see if they would help buy the famous Chicken Ranch, which is for sale in Nye County.  “I want to give the girls the opportunity to not only invest in it and be shareholders but also have input in the management style…we want a $25,000 minimum investment.  The purchase price is $4.5 million”…Barb Brents, a UNLV sociology professor who researches the adult industry in Nevada, said some brothels in other countries share ownership with sex workers.  But to do it in Nevada would be a sweeping change…There are still some hurdles for Hof’s plan.  The biggest might be the background checks for brothel investors…

Check Your Premises (#773) 

Though “debating” prohibitionists is a bad idea, attacking their statements is a good one:

…Sarah…accused [politician] Thangam [Debbonaire] of “prejudice and hatred” towards sex workers and questioned whether the MP had met many…”Client criminalisation leads to sex workers having less time to suss out potential clients…because the client is keen to give the worker less info about himself, and to move the interaction into more private spaces where he is less in danger of being arrested…when the criminalisation of kerb-crawling was introduced in Scotland in 2008…violence against street sex workers went up by 50 per cent in just the first six months…sex workers are arrested all the time for brothel-keeping offences, which can mean sharing a workspace with other sex workers for safety.  Of course, having a criminal record relating to prostitution would make it almost impossible for me to ever leave sex work.  When the police raid premises they take everybody’s money – all the money I had earned that day, and probably my phone too – no receipt, no way of getting it back…

Lower Education (#773)

Anti-sex crusaders love their pseudoscience:

…Journalist Emily Yoffe dove into the “neurobiology of trauma”  nonsense last week as part of her series of articles at The Atlantic on campus rape.  This phrase has appeared in federal legislation, state legislation, Department of Education guidance to colleges, and campus sexual assault proceedings.  It is used to explain why victims of sexual assault might not resist or even say no at all; why their memories of the incident might be spotty; and why changes to their stories over time are normal.  Under this theory, hormones and other neurotransmitters go mad and can cause temporary brain damage; memories of an assault are stored perfectly somewhere in the brain but are “fragmented” at first, so it might take victims time to piece together the true story of what happened…But…these claims…fly in the face of almost all recent research on memory and trauma…We have been here before.  In the 1980s, the idea that childhood sexual abuse caused…repressed memories grew quite popular…

The Mote and the Beam (#774)

Some tech companies are willing to destroy the internet to secure a temporary business advantage:

Since the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017 was introduced in the Senate in August, tech companies and advocacy groups have…called it “disastrous for free speech online,” asking its members to call their representatives in Congress.  Meanwhile, supporters of the bill have emerged from unlikely quarters — including tech giant Oracle and Hollywood studio 21st Century Fox — and are using the legislation as an opportunity to take shots at Google…

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Julie Bindel, the well-known British “feminist” and prohibitionist, likes to call herself a journalist; however, I can think of a few more apt labels:  Huckster.  Charlatan.  Fruitcake.  And most of all, lazy twit who can’t even keep track of her own lies.  She’s been hawking a new book for a while now, but despite the help of a major UK newspaper giving her plenty of free column-inches in which to vomit out her regurgitated feces, it looks as though it’s going to flop in a big way.  And though I lack the intellectual endurance to even scan her overpriced doorstop, fortunately my friend Brooke Magnanti has far more critical wherewithall than I do, and was happy to volunteer this synopsis so none of y’all have to bother touching it, either.

This week Julie Bindel releases a new text which I have been privileged to see an advance copy of.  Unlike her previous efforts it’s aimed more at a scholarly market than a popular one, with aspirations to be a summary of investigations into sex workers’ organizations.  The newspaper coverage in Britain has been unescapable in the run-up to its release, with Bindel herself penning vicious invectives against sex workers in all the major papers.  Bindel initially crowdfunded the book to the tune of £7000.  Backers could pay £250 for the honor of having lunch with the woman herself (ironic when criminalized sex workers are also often forced to advertise their services as “lunch dates”).  On top of this, the book had an advance from Palgrave, so the punters end up paying twice.  The title, The Pimping of Prostitution, is ironic given anti-sex work crusades demonstrably attract and spend far more money than shoestring operations like rights orgs do; it is offered at an eye-watering $39.99 for the paperback (and an unbelievable $37.99 for the Kindle edition).  But while supporters paid a premium for the content, does the book deliver?

In a word:  no.  While advertised as a scholarly work it lacks any academic rigor.  Most of the references are self-citations of privately published reviews written by Bindel and Melissa Farley.  Peer review?  What peer review?  A few debunked statistics are trotted out as well.  There is no content of note here, which is unsurprising given Bindel’s most famous quote is that if given a gun and forced to choose between shooting a pimp and an academic, she would shoot the academic.  Bindel claims to have interviewed 250 people in 40 countries about sex work – by her own admission they are journalist friends of hers, police, and “regular members of the public who knew very little, if anything, about the sex trade”.  If this were a middle school project it would be laughed out of class for its utter lack of quality.  She notes in the acknowledgments that “the other side” trusted her to “represent their words and views fairly”.  Is that so?  She has called legalization and decriminalization the same thing when they are not.  Despite being told many times sex workers support decriminalization, not legalization, Julie is too dishonest to admit this, setting up a straw (wo)man and knocking it down over and over.

She states over and over again that there is a “pro-prostitution lobby”.  Who?  She never exactly says and cannot produce any paper trail.  That is for the simple reason that it is she and her friends who are lobbying politicians, setting up All Party Parliamentary Groups stuffed with MPs who want to see more women imprisoned, and paying for events to try to sway lawmakers to their ideology.  The other side, such as it is, is sex workers unpaid for standing up for their rights, and a handful of front-line organizations trying desperately to make sure any sense is heard in the prohibitionist din.  In any case, the claim she interviewed sex work activists is false; she has not so much interviewed her opponents as hand-selected people uninvolved in activism or sex work.  Why are her lengthy conversations with Peter Tatchell about gay men and the age of consent here, if not to stoke pedophilia fears on the back of homophobia?  Why does she place so much importance on tearing down sociologist Dr Catherine Hakim, whose area of research this is not?  How is politician Keith Vaz’s relationship with male escorts related to violence against women?  A few contextless quotes from Conner Habib and Janet Mock are thrown in to prove – well, it’s not clear what, actually.  It’s a mystery:  a bunch of unconnected hit jobs padding out an otherwise shoddy book.  The rest is a collection of personal anecdotes, old feminists she once met, and so on.  She also details the time in the ’70s she was pen-friends with imprisoned sex worker Emma Humphreys, while dodging the question of why the laws she supports would still put women like Emma in jail.

When discussing sex workers condescension drips from every sentence and it is clear she is used to having the floor to herself.  Unable to take criticism or debate (the launch party for her book at “independent intellectual venue” Conway Hall expressly forbade sex work activists), disgusted by the humans she so profitably claims to save.  Her schtick would be funny if it didn’t have real and damaging repercussions on people’s lives.  But the main takeaway from the book is its desperation.  The money she raised appears to have gone towards an all-expenses-paid international jaunt with only the slenderest of results to show for it.  The text reads less like a new movement and more like a last gasp.  If this is Bindel’s final shot at the history books than let it also be the epitaph for her career.  Here lies prohibition: illogical, illiberal, and entirely without merit.

If you want real scholarship about sex work, including hard-hitting debunking of Bindel’s lies (and those of her cronies), please purchase Brooke’s new book Sex, Lies and Statistics (with a foreword by yours truly).  And until Monday evening, Brooke is donating 100% of the profits from ALL preorders globally to SWOP Behind Bars, the nonprofit organization which specializes in helping the women Bindel and her ilk want to keep locking up in cages.

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Brooke Magnanti has released a new, revised edition of her book The Sex Myth, retitled Sex, Lies and Statistics.  This was adapted by Brooke from her afterword (the foreword was written by yours truly), and I hope it will serve to encourage you to buy the book, which demolishes the shoddy garbage prohibitionists hold up in place of actual facts.  And it’s on sale now!

Media are obsessed with promoting a view we would previously have dismissed as Victorian.  There are indeed parallels.  The end of the 19th century and start of the 20th brought new technologies to add to the dissemination of ideas through mass media (much like the Internet today)…with the predictable horror and blame that brought then, just like now.  The political class made some unexpected alliances as a result; again, we see this happening.  Feminism has joined the anti-sex bandwagon in a big way.  Not just by blaming men for inequality between the sexes, but perhaps more profitably and successfully by blaming other women.  Many mainstream feminist critiques gloss over old “man-hating” attitudes and place blame squarely on other women.  Instead of embracing women who challenge convention, the preoccupation is with shooting them down.  On the one hand, we’re told that anyone who believes women and men should have equal rights under the law is a feminist, whether they know it or not.  On the other, we are told that one or another group of women are traitors.  It’s the feminists who have taken up the finger-wagging role of the patriarchy.  Take, for example, this quote by Julie Burchill:  “When the sex war is won prostitutes should be shot as collaborators for their terrible betrayal of all women.”  Advocating the murder of large numbers of women is such a great way to win supporters to the cause, no?

The more you look at the key players behind some of the stories, the more you notice odd pairings.  A group working closely with the anti-gay, anti-abortion US lobbying group using a female MP as the mouthpiece of their opinions on porn.  The well-known feminists signing up to work with far right groups.  Celebrities lending star power to issues they don’t understand at all.  Almost all approaches to these issues fail to consider the diversity of factors involved.  The “Swedish model” of sex work is an example of this.  Lots of hype, not a lot of data on whether paid sex work has stopped or whether anyone’s life has been improved as a result.  Columnists like Joan Smith can gush about jumping in to a cop car to see how the law is panning out, all while ignoring the fact that sex workers repeatedly confirm that the police are their greatest source of harassment, assault, and rape.  Proponents of the Swedish approach mention how “pressure” is ramping up on this topic – pressure that they themselves have generated through unchallenging media coverage.  When in doubt, follow the money.  Over and over again the people fronting these campaigns are connected to industries with vested interests, radical right-wing think tanks, or anti-LGBT lobbyists.  The deputy editor for the New Statesman previously worked at the Mail and is rumoured to have subedited Jan Moir when she wrote a viciously homophobic column about Stephen Gately’s death.  Arch-feminists like Julie Bindel write for staunchly right wing, regressive magazines like the Spectator.  There’s a saying where I come from:  you got to dance with the one who brung you.  I wonder, when everyone gets to the end of their dance cards, what promises feminists have made and what obligations they’ll have to honor.

Before 2009, when I wrote books under a pseudonym about my experiences as a sex worker, there was no small amount of grumbling in the press.  After I won the Guardian Best British Weblog award in 2003, a number of female contributors to that paper signed a letter vowing that if I was commissioned to write for the paper, they would quit.  Yet I continued to believe that if they knew I was real, they would feel differently.  It’s probably not a surprise to you that I was unprepared for what any fool could have predicted would happen.  Since coming out as a former sex worker, I have been criticized for being too middle class, too well educated, too independent.  As if my very existence in sex work was, somehow, unique.  But data across the spectrum of sex work shows this not to be true.  In any case, if I admitted to a drug addiction instead, or had been homeless?  That would have been used to write me off, too.  It is bizarre to read articles by people who’ve never met me attempting to dissect this or that bit of my life.  Some lazy commentators “blame” me for the existence of other call girls, or whatever new student sex worker is uncovered by the tabloids.  As flattering as that is, it is not true.  Prostitution is called “the oldest profession” for a reason.

After a while all such nonsense became background noise.  I assumed the combined forces of feminists and the Rescue Industry had nothing worse up their sleeves.  I was wrong.  When the first edition of this book was published in Britain in 2012, it was embargoed before publication day and available to fewer than 20 people to review.  Journalists who saw the book signed confidentiality agreements.  So it was a great surprise to wake up on the morning of publication slapped with a libel lawsuit from Eaves For Women, the domestic violence charity whose hapless forays into research are touched on in this book.  If their work had been published in academic journals, anyone writing to correct their numbers would have been treated professionally, but this was not academia I was dealing with.  Obviously, I did not write anything about Eaves that could not be verified, and just as obviously, they had not been sent a pre-publication copy of the book by my publisher but had been given one by book reviewer – and Eaves board member – Julie Bindel.  The firm representing Eaves in this lawsuit threat?  The one with Bindel’s wife as a founding partner.  The Eaves claims would have been hilarious if they had not been so ludicrous.  They claimed I “hacked their servers” to get information about their income and expenditures (as with all UK charities, it’s public information available on government websites) and “broken confidentiality agreements” to discuss their research (I looked up their publications from conferences, also available online).  Their arguments depended on evidence so far-fetched it could have served as a bad science example in the book itself.  I later learned this was not the first time this had happened.  Eaves had threatened to sue so many people, so often, they even served legal threats on Bindel’s own employer at the time, the Guardian newspaper for an article by Belinda Brooks-Gordon (Bindel is no longer on Guardian staff, but freelances for them).  The intellectual dishonesty of someone like Bindel, who claims to be “silenced” and a “free speech” advocate yet uses archaic laws to try to silence opposition, is staggering.  Unsurprisingly the threatened suit was without merit and quickly dropped.

Meanwhile, the media feminists of the UK rounded on me.  Julie Burchill wrote one article claiming I was a “sex addict”, another calling me a “human toilet”, and compared me to a convicted (and executed) Nazi war criminal; this was especially offensive as I am of Jewish heritage.  The “feminist” literature magazine that published those last two tidbits claimed they did not know what the words meant.  Sorry, Mslexia, but ignorance is no excuse.  They did not apologize.  One feminist turned up at a talk in Edinburgh to shout to the audience that I was a pedophile and claim my screenshots of the Glasgow City Council’s website (showing how much they paid for anti-strip club consultations) were faked.  Others picketed talks and book signings, sent death threats, and harassed me so frequently by phone that I gave up on carrying a mobile altogether.  They contacted my former editor at the Telegraph in an attempt to get me fired – long after I’d already quit.  Few in journalism seem to care that the people doing this are all a couple of degrees of separation from known anti-LGBT and white supremacist orgs in the US.  All anyone wants is to see the naughty, naughty sex lady be punished.  They don’t care how it’s done or who does it.  This, I was told, was the price of being a sex worker in public.

Writers with the left-leaning New Statesman magazine, many of whom launched careers by harassing trans women and sex workers, also got the boot in.  Their assistant editor, Helen Lewis, sits on the board of a charity that is anti-sex work and anti-trans women.  She and other feminists joked on social media when a former partner tried to sue me for reporting his abuse (he later dropped the suit to much less fanfare).  They encouraged Breitbart to run a week-long campaign of harassment and abuse.  They egged on nasty “investigative journalist” Jeremy Duns who made sexual threats against me and my husband.  They examined photos from my escorting days, speculating on whether I was “hot enough” have been a sex worker, and speculating about what diseases I might have.  They circulated a list at public events suggesting that I and others were employed by a shadowy “Pimp Lobby” and financially benefitting from trafficking (if that’s the case, I have yet to receive a paycheck).  The laughable list, compiled by Julie Bindel, included a number of people uninvolved with sex work at all, including an artist who died in 2010, so it’s clear fact-checking is not a valued quality among these people.  The abuse peaked when they outed a trans camgirl whose Twitter account they thought had been written by me.  It wasn’t – but in the process they humiliated a woman who was not yet out to her family.  Their supposed evidence?  We both supported Scottish independence, and both, at different times, used the phrase “snake oil”.  In spite of having got it drastically wrong, no apology to the woman they doxxed was forthcoming.  Why would anyone do this?  In short, to control the narrative.

It would be unthinkable – to most people, anyway – to have a discussion about women’s rights that did not involve any women.  Or a discussion about race that did not include people of color.  But time and again when the topic is sex work, sex workers themselves are not simply ignored, they are actively excluded.  What do sex workers want?  A seat at the table.  To be able to work together for safety.  To report crimes against them without fear of arrest.  For services to be made available that are not dependent on them giving evidence against others.  To not live in fear of deportation or abuse by police.  In short:  they want the same protection under the law that any other worker can expect.  And not only is this what sex workers want, it’s what the evidence supports as best practice.  We’ve seen the benefits of decriminalization in New Zealand, in New South Wales Australia.  We’ve also seen what goes wrong in Sweden, in the Netherlands, and in the US.  International agencies from the WHO to Amnesty agree.  But this evidence-driven support for decrim hasn’t come out of thin air.  Much has been written on the disruptive effects of social media, but this much is true:  if not for the internet, people like me would never have been able to challenge the stereotypes with facts.  Marginalized people with multiple oppressions – black trans sex workers, drug using sex workers – who would otherwise fear being outed, are being taken seriously by a mainstream that otherwise would never have known they existed.  The infantilized victims who need rich white ladies to save them, it turns out, are fully capable adults who can make their own decisions and won’t hesitate to tell you that.  And that makes some folks with vested interests very upset indeed.

What happened to me was not the first nor even worst example.  Entrenched second-wave feminists in media have harassed trans politicians out of their jobs, driven black cultural commentators off of social media, and consistently outed and trashed any sex worker who crosses their paths.  Heaven help you if you happen to belong to more than one of these groups.  They reserve the worst treatment for the most marginalized, secure in the knowledge that society does not care because they told society not to.  The disinformation campaign used to sustain sex myths was a glimpse into a post-truth world where what matters is not what is right, but who can get the most money.  Some of those folks were so threatened by one woman and one book that they tried to bankrupt, discredit, and silence one blogger.  A movement backed by billions of dollars in international grants is so susceptible to people seeing the real data, they will stop at nothing to keep the truth from getting out.  And they are not interested in ethical debate; they demand that their point of view be bowed to in any discussion, even (and especially) if that means keeping the discussion centered on their feelings rather than other people’s right to exist.  They use the media not to understand, but to bludgeon.  They simply do not care if their information is incorrect.  I started off believing that open debate was the best way to win hearts and minds; I ended up realizing that some people will use that to drown out anyone who does not agree with their own intolerant, hate-filled views.  There simply is no way to have a debate with people who characterize you as an “orifice” who “should be dead in a ditch.”  There is no common ground to be found with people who willingly promote your abusers.

And yet, in all the negativity, there are signs of light.  In the years from when I was a sex worker in 2003, since I came out in 2009, and after the first edition of this book in 2012, the ground has rapidly shifted.  When Amnesty International rejected threats from famous feminists and backed the decriminalization of sex work based on the evidence, it was a win for a sex workers’ movement that far predates and will long outlast any one person.  When I gave evidence to UK Parliament in 2016, the MPs – to my surprise – took the suggestions of sex workers on board in their report, rather that listening to entrenched and well-funded special interests.  In Scottish Parliament, Rhoda Grant (who receives funding from the anti-gay, anti-abortion charity Care) has tried three times to introduce criminalization of sex work, and been defeated all three times.  Evidence really does win out from time to time; it might not seem that way in the moment, but things are changing, slowly and surely.  In 2009 and 2012, it felt as if every week brought new abuse from a media obsessed with surfaces instead of content.  So-called progressives shame and reject us, even when sex workers were early supporters of feminism, gay rights, and other movements that have since gained public acceptance on the back of that effort.  In particular, the most marginalized sex workers from black and trans communities were the ones most likely to be erased, people like Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P Johnson, and many more.  Slowly and surely their legacy is being reclaimed, too.  The pendulum of attitudes about sex and sexuality is always in motion.  I hope that in my lifetime the burden of shame felt by so many for so long will be lifted.  With evidence and hard work we can reclaim the narrative – and take back our lives from the playground bullies of shame and fear.

Brooke doesn’t pull any punches in this new, US edition; it’s a vital debunking resource for those who support sex worker rights, and you really, really, REALLY ought to read it!

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