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Posts Tagged ‘New York’

Human trafficking is what we call it when women make choices that make us uncomfortable.  –  Cathy Reisenwitz Hiram Johnson

Here We Go Again

In 1913, former California Gov. Hiram Johnson signed the California Red-Light Abatement Act, outlawing bordellos…advocates promised the law would stymie the “scattering of the evil throughout the residence district…[and wipe] out the unclean profits of those who prey upon fallen women.”  Voters approved the measure by a 53.3 percent majority.  As for those “fallen women,” their jobs became more treacherous.  You see, the Abatement Act…just made it so they could no longer operate indoors without breaking the law.  As bad and exploitative as some bordellos were before the Act passed, the street only magnified these dangers and presented new ones…More than a century later, an escalating campaign to crack down on online classified portals is fanning a similar migration…activists say…

BDSM

An Orpington dominatrix has defended her secret fetish dungeon…after neighbours complained to police…From the outside it is a large, detached home on a quiet, leafy street but inside is a thriving fetish establishment…Neighbours…[claim] to have heard “whipping” and “screaming” coming from the address.  But the dungeon’s operator…”Mistress Evilyne”, said the business is legal, she is registered with the HMRC and no sexual services are offered…A tennis club spokesman [said]…”We host Crofton School for coaching and we are concerned the children might be exposed to something that they shouldn’t see at their age”…the police have not found any evidence of illegal activity…

Out of Control (The Camel’s Nose) 

Well, this is different:

An NYPD sergeant with the Organized Crime Control Bureau has been suspended, but not arrested, after throwing semen at a co-worker…Sergeant Michael Iscenko, 54, had previously told the victim, a civilian administrative aide in her 60s, that he liked her…[she] had just left the ladies restroom and was heading back to her office when Iscenko crept up behind her and threw something on the woman’s leg and her shoe…The woman…immediately filed a complaint with her supervisors, who sent a sample of the substance out to be tested, it turned out to be semen…people who know the sergeant…[said] they wouldn’t have pegged him as a pervert, because of the way he dresses…

A Procrustean Bed

“Justice system” destroys woman’s life for giving a friend a ride:

[An Ohio] woman convicted of promoting prostitution and labeled a sex offender after she drove a friend to what turned out to be a prostitution sting was granted judicial release after serving about seven months of an 18-month sentence.  But Aimee Hart…is continuing with an appeal of her…conviction because she doesn’t believe she should have to register as a sex offender…“I personally feel that they perverted the intention of the law to fit my circumstances,” Hart said…

Yeah, they do that.

Childish Things

Cathy Reisenwitz on the psychology behind support for prohibition:

…you’re at brunch with a pretty normal person.  But better educated and smarter than normal, smarter than you, in fact.  But they’ve not heard that a conservative estimate for the average age at which women enter the trade is 25.  They don’t know that even underage prostitutes start at an average of 15-16, and only 15% of teen hookers (themselves a small minority of all sex workers) enter at an age below 13.  They’ve never had Maggie McNeill in their living room.  In fact they’ve never talked to a person they knew was a sex worker.  So why do smart, well-educated people buy into the sex trafficking moral panic?  And the larger question, why do we condescend to sex workers by assuming they can’t consent to sex work?…

An Example To the West (#343)

Of course Reuters is too mired in American carceral thinking to see any of this as a problem, but this report on police responses to “human trafficking” in Thailand gives a few clues as to what an unholy mess the attempt to stop people from migrating to work has created.

A Year Later

Canada has a problem.  Her highest court ruled in 2013 that prostitutes have a constitutional right to work, but federal officials still do all they can to impose prohibition…This ad hoc law is likely unconstitutional as well…prohibitionists are driven by moralism, as opposed to policy outcomes and concern for the wishes of prostitutes.  This becomes apparent as they frame all prostitution as coercive and parrot the [myth] that Canadians enter the industry on average between the ages of 12 and 14…when it comes to practical enforcement, prohibition efforts in the United States have seen prostitutes more likely to have “freebie” sex with officers than get arrested.  Further, sites such as SugarDaddie.com...beg the question as to when dating ends and prostitution begins (as pointed out on the Bob Zadek Show with Maggie McNeill, a call girl turned blogger…

Fever Dream (#541)

Readers over 40:  in your youth, could you have imagined living in a country where statements like this were made with a straight face?

Just a few years ago, Tennessee was scrambling to combat sex trafficking.  Now…there have been 36 new laws in the past four years, including…money for more special agents assigned to investigate sex traffickers for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.  And for the first time, TBI will have the power to conduct electronic wiretapping…Until now, that kind of surveillance has only been allowed for the most serious murders, drug dealing, and gang crimes…Margie Quin…says…“With the advent of websites that are strictly geared toward selling women and children for sex, being able to combat that through electronic authority will be, I think, very beneficial”…

Seizing Power 

This article on the Backpage credit card issue doesn’t break any ground readers will find unfamiliar, but the more mainstream articles on the topic the better.  And besides, it quotes me!

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Eventually, the item believed to be Napoleon’s penis was bought in an auction…  –  Ishaan Tharoor

As so often happens these days, I got occupied last night and was unable to finish setting everything up by deadline.  Sorry about that!  The video below is from Mike Siegel, who also contributed “accidentally”; Radley Balko gave us “headline”, Skye  “transit”, Lenore Skenazy “camping” and Popehat “call out”.

From the Archives

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It’s not like prostitution is ever going to go away, or it would have gone by now.  –  Suzanne Harrington

R.I.P. Christopher Lee Christopher Lee

Lee strode like a titan through the favorite movies of my life; he starred in four of the movies I’ve listed as among my favorites, and pops up in various places in other columns as well (search his name and see).  So though he isn’t a sex industry figure, he joins others such as Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson and Carmine Infantino whose influence on the landscape of my fancy cannot possibly be credited enough.  Rest in peace, Sir Christopher, though I won’t be at all surprised if you’re still observed stalking about foggy London streets in a cape from time to time.

Lack of Evidence

This will continue for as long as our work is criminalized:

A Tempe bar issued a public apology…to a transgender woman whose claims of discrimination by workers ignited an online firestorm…bar manager Rob Tasso said Briana Sandy, 55, should not have been asked to leave…”We welcome all kinds of people in this business.  We have many gay customers, we have transgender performers.  In no way did we ever mean to discriminate against you”…Tasso…pointed out that Tempe Tavern…neighbors an adult bookstore.  “Unfortunately, there’s a male prostitution problem that’s around here that’s unique to our situation”…

In other words, “We welcome all kinds of people, but prostitutes aren’t people.”

It Looks Good On Paper

The asinine dysphemism “prostitution ring” (used to mean one underage sex worker, her boyfriend and his mother) is bad enough, but the real story here is that Washington is one of the states with so-called “safe harbor” laws, which are hawked as “protecting the victims” by blaming their “crime” of consensual sex on a pimp instead of the arrested girl.  But as I’ve written before, the laws only apply to lily-white “perfect victims” with no prior arrests who are willing to rat out a supposed “pimp”; the great majority of underage whores have neither a pimp nor a spotless arrest record, and just go to jail like any other victim of the police.  The idea that listening in on a teenager’s jailhouse phone call like a nosy parent picking up the extension constitutes some sort of brilliant detective work, however, is a great moment in badge-licking.

Broken Record 

“Gypsy whores” idiocy with a revolting new Swedish-Canadian police-state flavor:

…Grand Prix weekend…is the busiest time of year for escorts in Montreal.  This year, local police are warning tourists that they may spend more time in jail than at the racetrack if caught trying to buy sexual services…Chief Insp. Johanne Paquin…said a specialized squad will be on patrol in strip clubs, hotels, motels and massage parlours, as well as on all the sites in the city related to the Grand Prix festivities…Canada’s new prostitution laws…”give us more tools in our tool box,” Paquin said…Hobby Lobby

The Widening Gyre

If cops don’t want people spreading stupid rumors, they need to stop spreading such rumors themselves first:

Lest you need any further indication that sex trafficking has become a genuine Moral Panic, I bring you the tale of Emily Stringer…[who] was shopping at…Hobby Lobby in Oklahoma City when she noticed “a middle aged lady” following her around the craft store.  Stringer “stuck with (her) instinct” and left abruptly, calling local police afterward to report the incident.  “The policeman said that this is unfortunately a common thing,” Stringer posted in a subsequent Facebook warning.  “They are abducting people for sex trafficking.”  Except…. of course not.  There have been no cases of anyone, of any age, being stalked and abducted by sex traffickers at Hobby Lobby or any other Oklahoma City chain store.  Outlets from Snopes to The Washington Post tore holes in Stringer’s story, and the Oklahoma City police even distanced themselves from the apocryphal anecdote—but…Stringer’s sex-trafficking warning had received 147,000 shares. The police rebuttal, meanwhile, was shared less than 500 times

That Old Black Magic

The “juju sex slaves” myth just keeps going like a battered zombie:

Spanish National Police announced on Monday that they broke up a ring of human traffickers who used juju voodoo and animal sacrifices to coerce women into prostitution…The traffickers had put the women through a juju voodoo ritual that used the victims’ finger nails or public hair and involved animal sacrifice in front of idols in a temple in order to “guarantee that the women complied with everything they demanded, under threat of death to them and their families”.  Juju…has commonly been used to drive Nigerian women into sex trafficking…by exploiting the women’s fears of the powerful “magic”…

A few points of interest:

  • Most people in Spain practice Catholicism, a sect in which a woman can undergo a ritual involving sacred rings and magic water in front of idols in a temple in order to guarantee that she be bound to obey one man under threat of eternal torture by demons in a pit of damned fire.
  • There is no such thing as “juju voodoo”; Voodoo is a New-World syncretism of Catholicism and traditional African religion which is practiced in neither Nigeria nor Spain.
  • The readers of this article are being asked to believe without evidence in the word of “authorities” that powerful and unseen evil forces are lurking about to abduct their children unless they give these “authorities” greater power over their lives.

But obviously, Europeans and Americans are so much more sophisticated than the superstitious women who can be controlled by “magic”.

It’s Different Because It Involves Sex, Part Umpteen (#43)

Pole dancing is artistic expression — but lap dancing is not, a…[New York] judge has ruled…“There is a stage for the performers illuminated by spotlights; a dressing room for the dancers, who, at times, wear an array of different costumes; (and) tables and seating that are oriented towards the stage to focus audience attention on the performances;” and featured “choreographed dances,” [Judge] Pinto wrote…But the…more lucrative private dances were another story.  The auditor “credibly testified that in his 10 or 15 visits to Nite Moves over the course of years he purchased one or two private dances a night.  He said the private dances were very similar…He admitted he was not an expert in choreography but did not think what he experienced in the private dance was choreographed”…

Watershed

It’s so nice to see a few public intellectuals actually saying this:

…prostitution [has] been around as long as humanity itself, but…we don’t talk about it…Either it’s something glamorously Belle du Jour-ish, all swanning around five star hotels earning more cash per horizontal hour than the rest of us do in a vertical week, or it’s trafficked slaves, drugged and abused and held against their will in conditions so appalling we cannot bear to even think about it.  But what if in between these two extremes there’s a more mundane middle ground?…it’s a job.  It’s work…Dr Jane Pitcher…interviewed 36 self employed prostitutes…and…found that they all worked indoors, chose their own hours and clients, and set their own rates of pay.  None had been coerced into the work, and many were registered as self-employed.  They had good relationships with their clients.  It was far from the glamour/misery dichotomy…The obvious solution is to decriminalise all sex work, making it safer, more regulated, and not driven underground…

Umpteen Thousand People Can’t Be Wrong (#513)

Control freaks just can’t get that the Swedish model is unwelcome in Scotland:

The End Prostitution Now campaign…will call on the Scottish public, MSPs, charities and public bodies, to put pressure on the Scottish Government to [impose the Swedish model]…The campaign launch coincides with Labour MSP Rhoda Grant’s announcement yesterday of her amendments to the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Bill…She said…“I fear that if Scotland does not follow [Northern Ireland], it could become a haven for sex traffickers moving out of Northern Ireland“…

Fortunately, Grant’s attempt to circumvent the parliamentary process was immediately quashed.

The Course of a Disease (#515)

Activist Molly Smith on the problems with the Swedish model:

…Instead of focusing on creating bureaucratic hoops for sex workers to jump through, decriminalization prioritizes sex workers’ safety and health…While sex workers are not prosecuted simply for selling sex under the Swedish model, various laws continue to be used against them in punitive ways.  “Operation Homeless,” the memorably-named Norwegian police initiative, evicted people suspected of selling sex—a law aimed at “pimps,” but used against sex workers’ landlords…People who claim sex workers are “decriminalized” under the Swedish model tend to be…feminist…yet it’s hard to imagine the same feminists would consider abortion “decriminalized” if people suspected of seeking abortions were subject to deportation and extra-judicial (yet perfectly legal) eviction.  In fact, Sweden’s policymakers are remarkably open about the extent to which the law is supposed to harm people who sell sex.  The head of Sweden’s anti-trafficking unit told a journalist last year, “of course the law has negative consequences for women in prostitution, but that’s also some of the effect that we want to achieve”…

A Year Later (#515)

NO NO NO! This is absolutely awful!

…Under the old law, SNUG regularly partnered with Edmonton Police Service to run operations in which sex workers were taken into custody.  But instead of pressing charges, women were brought to SNUG offices, given some food and offered services.  When the law changed, police weren’t able to charge sex workers anymore and SNUG lost a crucial outreach opportunity…

Subjecting sex workers to violence in order to “outreach” to them is an absolutely terrible, dehumanizing, agency-negating idea; what next, shooting them with tranquilizer darts and RF tagging them for study?Primates of Park Avenue

Housewife Harlotry (#540)

Welcome to our world, New York housewives:

…is Primates of Park Avenue, an exposé on the moneyed mommies of Manhattan, really true?…Author Wednesday Martin…claims in the memoir to have spent six years “doing field work” with her two kids on the Upper East Side…But Martin only lived there for three years, with one kid, and mentions stores and services that didn’t exist, calling into question the scenes and ­behaviors she describes…Primates includes eyebrow-raising anecdotes, such as the claim that some women receive yearly “wife bonuses.”  After readers expressed doubt, Martin backpedaled, telling New York magazine:  “I don’t necessarily think it’s a trend or widespread.  It was just one of the many strange-seeming cultural practices that some women told me about.”  Although the book includes no such disclaimer and is advertised as a “memoir,” Martin [said] she “telescoped certain parts of the narrative in order to protect the privacy of friends, neighbors, associates and family.”  That “telescoping” seems to have moved events that happened in different neighborhoods and put them on the Upper East Side…

Traffic Circle (#544)

Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post “Fact Checker”, continues to hammer at “sex trafficking” myths:

…if you think about it for half a minute, [the “average debut at 13″] statistic makes little sense…if it is the “average,” then for all those who entered trafficking at age 16 or 17, there have to be nearly equivalent numbers who entered at age 9 or 10.  But no one seriously believes that.  Upon investigation, this claim crumbles to dust…FBI spokesmen say this is not their figure.  The Justice Department also says it is not a DOJ figure…Yet somehow this figure lives on in the echo chamber of Washington discourse.  The worst example we found was a Department of Homeland Security pamphlet for school administrators that boldly displayed both the claim about 300,000 children and the average age of 13.  It listed two sources:  The Department of Justice and the congressionally mandated Center for Missing and Exploited Children.  But the DOJ reference was to another opinion article that cited the Estes/Weiner report, not an official DOJ finding.  And the CMEC fact sheet referred to a report by Shared Hope International…which in turn relied on…the same Estes/Weiner report…in the end the source of the data is the same discredited and out-of-date academic paper.  It would be amusing if it were not so sad…The Washington Post and other news organizations also failed by allowing [the] claim to be published as an actual fact…This is a Four-Pinocchio statistic and should no longer be cited.

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If Australia decriminalised prostitution the sky would still be blue the following day.  –  Catherine Healey

Do As I Say, Not As I Do 

Four cops in Fort Worth who tried to report their supervisor for being a suspect in a prostitution case were all suspended without pay…J.C. Williams, C. Cespedes, D. Shaw, and J. Pittman suspected their narcotics sergeant was involved with a prostitution ring and trying to cover for the prostitutes and their clients…Three of the officers received a 10-day suspension, while the forth, J.Pittman received only five…According to the internal affairs report…the officers were upset about being transferred to another unit, so they retaliated by trying to frame their sergeant…

Dirty Whores

Can’t let the facts get in the way of a money grab, can we Mr. Spicer?

Drugs and prostitution are common in Austin, Indiana.  The town of about 4,000 people is at the center of a public health emergency, with the number of confirmed HIV positive cases at 159…Authorities have been arresting drug dealers…but police say putting prostitutes in jail isn’t as easy…[because] Austin only has six officers and most of the prostitutes know who they are…Anyone charged with prostitution is also required to take an HIV test…Spicer says [giving him] more [money] would help stop prostitution in Austin…

In the US, sex workers aren’t an important vector of any STI, including HIV.

Hard Numbers

As we keep saying over and over:

NEW Zealand…[has] the best working conditions for prostitutes on the planet.  Sex workers…[can] sign contracts, get paid weekly, work for bosses who keep their best interests at heart and have a relationship with police that Australian prostitutes can only dream of.  Prostitution is even covered under occupational health and safety laws.  It’s not pot luck that New Zealand prostitutes have it better.  It can all be traced to a single piece of legislation that passed through parliament in 2003 — the Prostitution Reform Act.  The decision 12 years ago to decriminalise sex work meant it became legal to work in managed brothels without a size limit, work for yourself, work from home, work from the street or work from the web…

Broken Record Indy 500

The “gypsy whores” nonsense has been going on for so long, we’re seeing the same sporting events touted again and again despite a total lack of evidence:

IndyCar fans are quickly making their way to the “Racing Capital of the World,” but the dark  reality of illegal sex trafficking is also making an appearance.  Experts say young girls will be brought to central Indiana this weekend and sold for sex.  The combination of large crowds, a party atmosphere and an event that caters mostly to men is when sex trafficking spikes.  However, the Indiana Attorney General’s office is fighting back though an awareness campaign titled, “Indiana’s Not Buying It”…leaders in the Attorney General’s office have gone to hotels and businesses near the track to pass out information regarding the sex trade…

“Illegal sex trafficking”, as opposed to what?  Legal sex trafficking?

The Public Eye

This craptastic mess is thick with dysphemisms and whorearchy:

A shocking new Channel 4 documentary introduces us to…two high class call girls who sell their bodies through an app on their phones.  They can make between £500 to £5000 a night offering their services to business men, although the average seems to be £2,000 for sex.  Emily B and Cookie Jane come from well-off and well-educated backgrounds, having both attended…£15,000 a year schools, but decided their lives would be more “glamorous” as call girls than by going to university…

Housewife Harlotry (#41)

As is a typical, a “feminist” insinuates that other women’s pragmatic choices are not “real” choices because she disagrees with them.  Naturally, her own choices are 100% free and absolutely uninfluenced by anything outside herself (and certainly not feminist dogma):

…I told the women…that I was writing a book about being a mother on the Upper East Side, and many of them were eager to share their perspectives…It was easy for me to fall into the belief…that all these wealthy, competent and beautiful women…were powerful…But…there was the undeniable fact of their cloistering from men…Sex segregation, I was told, was a “choice.”  But like “choosing” not to work, or a Dogon woman in Mali’s “choosing” to go into a menstrual hut, it struck me as a state of affairs possibly giving clue to some deeper, meaningful reality while masquerading…as a simple preference.  And then there were the wife bonuses…[which] might be hammered out in a pre-nup or post-nup, and distributed on the basis of not only how well her husband’s fund had done but her own performance — how well she managed the home budget, whether the kids got into a “good” school — the same way their husbands were rewarded at investment banks…

Checklist (#345)

“Sex trafficking” fetishist develops app to cram complex individual situations into a series of stock “sex trafficking” phrases:

…Duane Dunston…decided to use his expertise to help law enforcement agencies communicate with victims of slavery – by creating an app…”You Have a Voice” is designed to enable victims to describe the nature of their enslavement or exploitation in their native language by answering a series of questions.  Answering sensitive questions by using the app rather than speaking directly to officers could reduce the shame and fear that often stops victims from speaking out, and help police to arrest traffickers and save other victims…Dunston has attended several human trafficking conferences…and…has also written two novels about human trafficking…

He’s an “expert” because he has written two books of fiction about his fantasy-world of sex slavery; by that standard John Norman should be considered the world’s leading expert on the subject.

Backwards into the Future (TW3 #439)

Even officials in Vietnam are starting to sound more sympathetic to sex workers:

…almost 44 percent of all sex workers have suffered from physical violence.  Nearly 46 percent of them did not report to authorities due to limited knowledge of the law and lack of trust in the authorities…Le Van Quy of the Ho Chi Minh City Anti-Social Evils Agency, said violence is a permanent threat for sex workers…Nguyen Thi Hue of the HCMC Aids Prevention Committee said many sex workers do not test for HIV…due to discrimination by healthcare workers…He…said…“It is difficult for them to raise their voice.  First, they will face an administrative fine.  Then there is a perception that a person working in the field must suffer from that form of violence”…

Checklist (#501) 

[The] Mayor [of Baltimore] signed…a bill that protects hotel employees who report suspected human trafficking from retaliation.  The bill…is a companion…to another…requiring hotels to train employees on how to spot human trafficking…Maryland is a “hot spot” for human trafficking according to the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force…

Vendetta (#518) Jimmy Carter

Morally-warped billionaire enlists clueless, ignorant old millionaire to aid in her crusade to “save” women by subjecting them to violence:

…Our home cities, Atlanta and Boston, are among 11 in a network launched in February, called Cities Empowered Against Sexual Exploitation (CEASE).  These cities are committed to reducing the demand for illegal sex in their communities by 20 percent within two years…The new approach we advocate moves away from hunting down and punishing those being exploited—the sellers—and focuses on the true perpetrators:  those who profit and those who buy.  By taking steps to reduce demand rather than supply, we can make this market less profitable…This strategy reflects an emerging philosophy first embraced in the Nordic countries…

Bad Girls (#537) 

Alix Tichelman…was found guilty of giving a Google executive a fatal dose of heroin on his yacht and was sentenced to 6 years in prison.  Defense attorneys…say their client had also injected herself, clouding her judgment.  She…didn’t call for help because she panicked…Tichelman plead guilty to two counts of administering a controlled substance and one count of involuntary manslaughter…

 

 

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I cannot turn to gaze at this everyday miracle because every time I do, I smell the anus of Satan.  –  Lau Munyee

This week’s featured video popped up on Twitter a couple of times this week, but I didn’t note who pointed it out first (sorry about that).  The links above it were provided by Angela Keaton (“faking”), Mike Siegel (“heart”), Radley Balko  (“wannabes”), Tushy Galore (“pipe”), Mistress Matisse (“standard”), and Marc Randazza (“science”).

From the Archives

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Sex workers know that they are generally not thought of as human by police.  –  Kristina Dolgin

Old Men and Young Women

Old people must be punished for being sexual:

…a man living in a suburban Philadelphia assisted-living facility has lost his housing subsidy after officials found a prostitute underneath his bed…the man, believed to be in his 70s, paid prostitutes using profits earned from peddling alcohol to fellow residents…

Surplus Women Lidia Pascale

A prostitute allegedly killed by one of her customers kept her working life secret from a friend, a murder trial has been told.  Lidia Pascale’s body was discovered…in a wheelie bin…two weeks after she had been killed.  Matthew Cherrington, 32, has denied murder.  Adrian Albulescu …drove [Pascale] to the address…When she failed to reappear after an hour he phoned her “many times” but her mobile was switched off…he also knocked at the door but got no reply…

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic 

Paging Dr. David Ley:

…as a sex addiction/trauma therapist…I have spent many hours reading testimonials of former sex workers, many who started their sex working career as a stripper [sic].  I have come to believe strip clubs exploit wounded women who often have severe trauma in their backgrounds…It is very difficult to disconnect emotionally for dancers who perform lap dances or oral sex for money.  Many strippers display post traumatic stress disorder symptoms and will often times self-medicate with alcohol or other drugs…Some women in the sex industry develop their own sex addiction as a result of the neuro chemical changes in their brain…Many attendees to strip clubs struggle with communication and intimacy with their wives or partners, which can promote a secret life.  A secret life also changes the neuro chemistry in the brain…Often sex addiction co-exists with another addiction such as alcohol or drugs, gambling and sexual anorexia.  So…men who go to the strip clubs are also being exploited…Recovery from sex addiction requires exposing the trauma, stopping the behavior, and a commitment to rewire the brain through therapy…

Regarding the notion that the brain can be “rewired” through therapy: that sure worked out for all the gay people who sought to be “cured”, didn’t it?

Broken Record 

Even “sex trafficking” fetishists now have to address the debunking of one of their pet myths:

…[Prohibitionists claim] they want to fight the forced sex work…that they say is sure to spike during the many Super Bowl events in the Bay Area preceding the game on Feb. 7.  And, perhaps more so, they want to use the football extravaganza…as a platform for their cause.  But the linking of human trafficking to the Super Bowl and other sporting events in recent years has prompted a backlash.  Critics say evidence of the relationship is weak and overblown, and…sex workers…say the pressure to crack down on prostitution hurts them…But [prohibitionists pretend]…it worsens around big events that draw big spenders.  They must, they say, use whatever tool they can to attack [sex work]…

King of the Hill

I literally laughed out loud reading this:

…North Carolina regularly ranks in the top 10 worst states for the illegal act.  This statistic came as a shock to audience members at a seminar…Many let out gasps…Emily Fitchpatrick…of On Eagles Wings Ministries…[said] “Charlotte is the No. 1 city for human trafficking”…the girls like it so much because they make a lot of money…[there, cop mouthpiece Joel] Shores said…“There have been no arrests, but it is a problem…It’s easier to sell a woman than it is to sell drugs…”…Shores also talked about his campaign to…[arrest people for] sexting and how it can lead to becoming part of this growing illegal industry.  “We need to let these women and girls know that they have worth [by arresting them]”…

Comfort Zone (#320)

“…immigration controls are claimed to be a mechanism of protection for migrants, rather than a mechanism of oppression…”:  “Ottawa police say 11 women will be deported after a human trafficking investigation into commercial massage parlours…All 11 were found to be working without a valid work permit…

The Roof Caves In

She’s like the proverbial bad penny:

Disgraced anti-trafficking activist Somaly Mam on Monday appeared on television to promote Afesip, the NGO that she founded…and to ask for donations from Cambodian viewers.  Ms. Mam resigned as president of the Somaly Mam Foundation last year after media reports revealed she had fabricated her backstory and coached young girls to lie about their past in order to raise funds. She resigned from Afesip in 2013…

Bad Girls (#429) 

The details surrounding 27-year-old Alix Tichelman’s arrest in Santa Cruz last July—the Lifetime-esque sting operation, the “Harbor Hooker” hook, the drugs, the Google executive with a $345K yacht—were every reporter’s wet dream.  But some activists believe the case against her has been distorted by media bias against sex workers…Kristina Dolgin…[of] Red Light Legal…reached out to Tichelman…to offer additional legal services and support; she says she wants people to remember that Tichelman is innocent until proven guilty, regardless of her profession.  “They’re using language that is clearly seeking to demonize [Tichelman], strip her of her humanity and make her less than a person—to be vilified and not protected,” Dolgin says…

Served Cold Operation Underground Railroad

If this doesn’t make you nervous, you haven’t been paying attention:

…Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes announced today he will testify on Thursday, May 14, 2015 at a Congressional hearing titled A Pathway to Freedom: Rescue and Refuge for Sex Trafficking Victims…Reyes participated in a rescue sting operation with Operation Underground Railroad in Colombia where he and several others liberated over 120 young children from a modern-day sex slavery ring operated by a network of human traffickers.  Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R) Founder and CEO and former CIA agent and special agent for the Department of Homeland Security Tim Ballard will also testify on the growth of NGO rescue operations and how organizations such as O.U.R. can complement government agencies in expediting human and child sex trafficking rescue and rehabilitation efforts worldwide…

Naming a fascist organization which works with government to enforce the status quo after an historical organization dedicated to opposing the government-enforced status quo makes me want to throw up.

Dutch Threat (#534)

More on Dutch sex workers’ protests, from regular reader Frans van Rossum:

As sex workers fight back against the Mayor of Amsterdam’s attempt to “legalise” violating their privacy rights, they receive some unexpected and unprecedented support from Magda Berndsen-Jansen, a member of parliament…Her parliamentary enquiry…demands answers to the very questions raised by newly founded sex worker organisation PROUD [and] proves that sex workers are finally being heard…Amsterdam’s mayor Eberhard van der Laan…[wants] city administrations nationwide to collect and…share personal data about sex workers, which the Dutch Privacy Protection Law explicitly  prohibits to be collected and shared…[in order] “to combat human trafficking effectively…and…to promote the self-reliance of prostitutes” …if this were to happen, all sex workers could consider  themselves de facto outlaws despite the fact that sex work…has been legal in the Netherlands since 1811, and still is…Berndsen-Jansen…demands no less than that sex workers are being treated equally under the law, just as anyone else…

Marching Up Their Own Arses (#535)

This story just keeps getting more horrible:

Producers employed by Relativity Media, the production company behind A&E’s 8 Minutes, manipulated sex workers and did not prioritize their privacy, [said] a person who worked…for the production’s unaired pilot…neither Relativity nor A&E had any intention of directly helping the women, but instead referred them to a local organization in Las Vegas…Mark, whose name has been changed to protect his anonymity, [said]…“Anybody can be pointed to resources …I can tell you, ‘If you’re hungry, you can go to CVS, there’s a bag of chips there that you can afford’.”  The charges of manipulation and indifference to privacy are very similar to allegations made by sex workers who were filmed for episodes of 8 Minutes that did begin airing…one of them said the “resource” she was given was just the phone number of a counselor.  The interviews with the sex workers, which Mark said usually lasted about an hour, as opposed to the eight minutes suggested by the series, lulled the women “into a false sense of security”…Early in the shoot, the production would start filming the women’s interaction with…Kevin Brown before they were aware that there were cameras; when these unwitting sex workers were surprised by the revelation that Brown is a pastor, most of them would quickly leave the hotel room…[so] the production changed tactics, informing the women beforehand that this was for a show so that they would stay…

Welcome To Our World (#536)

Looks like the expensive salons are trying to drive out their more reasonably-priced competition:

…scores of New York City women say they are disgusted that many nail salons pay their workers next to nothing, and vowed to try to help change things by seeking out higher-end shops, tipping more — or even foregoing the finger and toe pampering altogether.  “It’s just bad. It starts to feel like prostitution [with the exploitation of women],’’ said Sara Bashor…“I don’t feel good supporting it.”  Gov. Cuomo announced …that he is creating a multiagency Enforcement Task Force to fine or shut down nail salons caught violating labor laws.  The heightened regulation came [after] a report that the salon industry in and around the city was rife with exploitation as workers — mostly undocumented women — earn paltry wages while breathing in hazardous fumes and plastic dust…

The astounding ignorance of amateurs is highlighted by the notion that whores make low pay under bad conditions.

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It’s been a long time since I’ve done a movie review column, mostly because its been a long time since I’ve seen a movie; I don’t really like watching movies alone, and since Grace and I don’t always enjoy the same films and I was frightfully busy all last year, movies were just something that had been pushed way down in my time-triage hierarchy to somewhere below “clean the bathroom” and slightly above “stand outside and look up at the stars.”  But now that I’m living with Jae I’ve had to make adjustments, and movies have re-entered the picture (at least on occasion); Saturday night we watched a film which she thought would interest me on two levels, and I was not disappointed.

My NormalMy Normal (2009) is the story of Natalie, a young lesbian (Nicole LaLiberte) working as a dominatrix in New York; though she enjoys her work, she views it as a temporary gig on the way to a career in filmmaking.  She befriends her drug dealer Noah (Ty Jones), who has aspirations to be a screenwriter himself; soon afterward she enters into a new relationship with Jasmine (Dawn Noel), whom she meets at a club.  But while Noah accepts her work and the two of them collaborate on a screenplay based on her life, Jasmine finds herself increasingly troubled by Natalie’s work and sexuality, and pushes away from her out of fear and jealousy.  Eventually, though, Natalie learns that her sex work is neither something to be ashamed of nor a secret impediment to her goals, but rather a source of skills and connections that will enable her to realize them.

This is an independent film with good production values and a talented cast; it has a few noticeable editing issues and a couple of clumsy plot contrivances (such as the fact that Natalie and her three dominatrix friends all leave the dungeon where they work to pursue various life paths at apparently the same time).  It also suffers from a bit too much “Hollywoodness”: the first scene was way over the top and IMHO pandered too much to popular media BDSM stereotypes; the denizens of the lesbian bar were all young, attractive and conventionally-groomed; and the end was a bit too neat to be realistic (not to mention the fact that its use of recursion came across as cute rather than profound).  But despite these problems it is a fun, light film with likable, engaging leads and a satisfying conclusion, and its pro-sex work, anti-stigma message make it a breath of fresh air.  In a medium where most sex workers are portrayed as either pathetic victims or nigh-superhuman temptresses, the depiction of Natalie and her friends (and the enterprising drug dealer) as ordinary human beings doing their jobs and getting by like anyone else was both refreshing and inspiring; even the title carries the powerful message that no matter what outsiders may think of the lives of sex workers, they are absolutely normal for us.

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