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Posts Tagged ‘Politicizing the Personal’

The public never wants to hear that their fear-based and/or moral-routed legislation isn’t solving a problem.  –  Gracie Passette

All Shapes and Sizes

The world’s first successful penis transplant has been reported by a surgical team in South Africa.  The 21-year-old recipient…lost his penis in a botched circumcision…the operation was a success and the patient was happy and healthy…Full sensation has not returned [but]…the man is able to pass urine, have an erection, orgasm and ejaculate…

Politicizing the Personal

I’m always pleased when someone whose name isn’t Maggie McNeill attacks the concept of “empowerment”:

I was disappointed when…Woman’s Hour decided to debate the question “can porn empower women?”  This question not only relies on misguided assumptions that limit the framing of the debate, it also misses the point…it doesn’t matter whether porn performers are empowered or not by their work – they still have agency, and they still have rights.  Porn is one of the least marginalised jobs within the sex industry, but it still suffers from the same fallacy as every other discussion about sex work – the idea that it is only a legitimate choice if it is “empowering”.  We don’t hold other industries to this standard…Why do we only expect “empowerment” of sex work, and not of other jobs?…We don’t demand that waitresses feel “empowered” in their jobs for us to recognise their agency in choosing the work, and we don’t tell other workers who serve male customers that they can’t be feminist.  The empowerment fallacy is only applied to the sex industry – and it’s deeply insidious…

The Last Shall Be First

Another potty-obsessed politician wants to enforce his hangups with violence:

A Texas lawmaker has filed a bill that would prohibit schools from allowing transgender students to use restrooms in accordance with their gender identity…Gilbert Pena [wants]…districts…held liable for $2,000 in exemplary damages — plus actual damages, court costs and attorneys fees — if employees knowingly allow transgender students to use [the proper] restrooms…In other words, the bill would place a bounty on the heads of transgender students, offering rewards to peers who report them for going to the bathroom…

Traffic Jam Minnesota Connection

The more one looks, the more continuity one sees between the Satanic Panic & “sex trafficking” hysteria:

…1978’s The Minnesota Connection [was] written by “preacher-cop” Al Palmquist…[and] billed as…the true account of Palmquist’s battle with sex trafficking victims, but it contains so many factual flaws that you must use air quotes while saying the words “true story”…[for several years before the book Palmquist gave lectures on] how Satanists use subconscious, subliminal, “mystical calls” in advertising and rock music to attract folks to the occult and its leaders who ply them with drugs so they can get them to worship Satan…[when] this Satanism stuff [didn’t gain] any traction…Palmquist [turned]…to fight the human demons in this word:  Pimps…he…[became] fixated on the notion of a “Minnesota Pipeline” that [delivered] women to pimps in New York…

On the Simultaneous Having and Eating of Cake 

Prostitutes in Spain are to be entitled to labour rights and would be able to claim unemployment benefits when not in work, a court has ruled.  Judge Juan Augustín Maragall ruled…that prostitutes should be given contracts by brothel owners, who would pay social security contributions on their behalf.  The civil court decision was made after a massage parlour…was raided by labour inspectors…The owner argued that the workers were autonomous and not officially employed, however authorities stated that as there was a employer and employee working relationship, it constitutes a form of contract so social security payments should be made…

Like a Horse and Carriage

Of course, some gay activists are against this because it denies them special privileges, and the Democrats are angry it was proposed by a Republican:

Something remarkably libertarian has just happened in Oklahoma.  The state’s House of Representatives voted…to end government licensing of marriages…citizens…will instead file “certificates of marriage” or file affidavits of common law marriage with the clerks after it’s all done with…these certificates will stand as proof of marriage for Oklahoma law…So this isn’t some phony “separate but equal” plan to protect marriage from “the gays.”  Any Oklahoma statute that operates off of marital status or provides benefits or privileges based on marital status will accept either of these non-license certificates…they will get all the same rights and privileges under Oklahoma law…Charlotte Rose

Skin To Skin

We’ve seen several stories about Charlotte Rose, but this one concentrates on her work with the disabled; longtime readers know how important I consider that specialization.  The article also touches on “sexological bodywork”, the latest attempt by some whores to draw a line between themselves and others which casts them as “good” and “important” and the others as “bad” and “criminal”.

Guest Columnist:  Kelly Michaels

Things had been going a lot better for my friend Kelly Michaels; her abusive ex-husband had decided he wasn’t actually interested in having custody of their children, making her battle to keep them moot.  But recently, the problems started again and rapidly escalated:

…It came to my attention that my ex-husband and daughter were concealing the fact that Jillian was engaging in extreme self mutilation, yet he failed to get her help…Jillian…[notified] me [via text message] that she is running away…I had the person that we share a home with pick her up [instead]…[and] took Jillian to Melbourne, believing that I was acting under Fl statute 787.03 Paragraph C…the abuse registry…[opened] an investigation…[but when I brought] my daughter to a hospital…[the cops] held me, and told me that I may be arrested for Kidnapping, along with anyone else that spoke to the child after leaving her fathers home…

She is trying to raise money for her defense and that of the friends who helped her to take her daughter out of danger; to contribute go to the link above, and if you can help connect Kelly with an experienced criminal defense and/or child custody attorney please contact me via via email as soon as possible.

Schadenfreude (#404)

Remember the Dallas outfit cashing in on “sex trafficking” tours?  Here’s a description of what one is like:

…I went on something called a human-trafficking bus tour and have been struggling since to make sense of what happened…Never leaving the safety of the bus, we learned from our tour leader that some of the massage parlors have been busted for selling sex. (!)  The strip clubs…we saw, the tour-leaders explained, shared some common traits with other strip clubs, and those other strip clubs were busted for various types of illegal activity…Children At Risk…is…led by Dr. Bob Sanborn [and]…describes human trafficking as a major problem in Texas, though…their research…appears to be overblown…What we [actually learned] from the tour…is that there are definitely places in Dallas where sex-related things have occurred…

All-Purpose Excuse

This article on the rapid and entirely unchecked metastasis of the Department of Homeland Security mentions, among many other things, its role in promoting “sex trafficking” hysteria.  It’s a great example of how governmental powers claimed to fight one supposed enemy are invariably expanded to everyone else.

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In the field of human trafficking, I detest data because most of it is made up and bogus.  –  Martina Vandenberg, Human Trafficking Legal Resource Center

Lack of Evidence

It’s good to see the media finally noticing this:

There is no law that says…condoms [are] illegal…and yet NYPD…routinely…[uses them] as…evidence for…prostitution…one city agency conducts a public-health campaign and…[those] who take advantage of it are…promptly arrested by a different city agency—leading to cases being thrown out of court, a suppressed and redacted…study of the problem, and a bill to address the matter in…the state legislature…arresting people because they are in possession of condoms…distributed…by the city itself…looks an awful lot like entrapment…

Nor are the arrests limited to sex workers;Grace Bellavue as I’ve explained many times, laws which violate whores’ rights invariably violate everyone’s.

Real People

I love seeing profiles like this one of Australian escort Grace Bellavue; the more the public sees of real sex workers, the harder it will be for prohibitionists to sell their stereotypes and myths about us.

Check Your Premises

This is only “stunning” to those who believe in the “pimps and hos” myth:

A sex-trafficking case got the hook in…Brooklyn…when prosecutors revealed their victim was advertising herself as an escort…the woman, now 19, who claimed defendant Robert Pannell forced her into prostitution in April 2011…advertised herself online…last month.  The stunning revelation contradicted the accuser’s testimony that her ordeal as a 17-year-old runaway was the only time she ever turned tricks…

Backlash

The Women’s Legal Centre…in Cape Town…provides legal services for sex workers…[who] face routine harassment, intimidation, and…abuse from police…[who] threaten, arrest, or detain [them] for days at a time…many are released only after paying large fines…WLC began its outreach by offering weekly group workshops…[but] soon expanded, employing four former and current sex workers as paralegals…Ralph Evangelous

Recognizing Doubletalk

An internal investigation of the Wilmington [North Carolina] Police Department’s narcotics enforcement team revealed inadequate documentation of funds, poor…supervision…and a “code of silence” cover-up of a March 2012 undercover prostitution operation…Police Chief Ralph Evangelous…[claimed] the undercover operation was in response to a citizen complaint about…escort services…the narcotics enforcement unit came up with a “unique approach” in [which]…more than $2,000 in city funds…were used…

Translation:  The narcotics squad had a party but got caught, and it took the police chief a year to come up with a cock-and-bull excuse.

Peeping Toms

A federal appeals court struck down Virginia’s anti-sodomy law…a decade after…Lawrence v. Texas…The appeal originated in a 2005 case in which a 47-year-old man was convicted of soliciting a 17-year-old girl for sex.  The girl refused and reported the incident to police, resulting in a “crimes against nature” charge…

One Size Fits All

As you might expect, Swedish neofeminists do not like surrogate motherhood  and consider it a form of “human trafficking”:

Surrogate motherhood is a serious crime against women’s human rights…Even when the woman has voluntarily become a surrogate…she gives up the rights to her own body…surrogacy…opens the door for viewing women and children as goods, and to regarding women as containers…having children is not a human right…

Nor, in the minds of neofeminists, is using one’s natural abilities in a way which violates the neofeminist religion.  Though this collectivist stance is evil because it denies women the right to control their bodies, it is more philosophically consistent than that of the US (which allows surrogacy but bans sex work) and Australia (vice-versa).  But lest you believe that Swedish neofeminists are truly motivated by concern for women’s well-being:

Equality Minister Maria Arnholm wants Sweden to keep the right to deport women whose relationships with Swedish spouses end within two years…The…rule was introduced in an effort to clamp down on sham marriages and to put an end to so-called “wife imports”.  But it has been blamed for forcing women to remain in abusive relationships…[and] a 2012 government-ordered inquiry [recommended it] be abolished…The Centre Party’s Women’s Association has also demanded that the…rule be…[replaced with] “immediate action” against “the practice of wife importation”…

It Looks Good On Paper

crazy Steve KozachikProhibitionists just love to tout “diversion programs” which supposedly “help” whores instead of criminalizing them, but if these are so great why do they need cops to force women into them, and why are their standards so strict that very few qualify to avoid jail?  In a recent example from Tucson, Arizona, members of SWOP warned sex workers away from a sting they had learned about, but 13 women still got caught…and only four qualified to escape jail.  The scheme’s organizer Steve Kozachik, a local politician with a reputation as a control freak, claimed SWOP’s protecting women from cops was “unnecessary” and that “This is not anti sex worker.”  Tell that to the nine women whom the prohibitionists “helped” into cages and branded with lifelong criminal records for trying to earn a living.

Politicizing the Personal

Dr. Laura Agustín feels the same way I do about the concept of “empowerment”, as she explains in this older essay she recently republished:

The verb is transitive: someone gives power to another, or encourages them to take power or find power in themselves. It’s used among those who want to help others identified as oppressed…[the] emphasis [is] on the helper and her vision of her capacity to help, encourage and show the way…To empower me as a sex worker you assume the role of acting on me…

Scrambled Eggs

…a California…law prohibits women from being compensated for donating their eggs for medical research, despite payments to subjects in other human research studies…[and] eggs…donated for fertility treatments…[but] a recently introduced bill…would allow women to be compensated…the California Family Council…[claims sponsor Susan] Bonilla’s bill opens up “dangerous medical ground.”  The…anti-abortion group…said eggs should be treated like organs and should not be sold…Bonilla said…”I think women are able to decide for themselves if they want to participate in a clinical trial”…

Saint Death

Jesse Walker published a good short piece on Santa Muerte which includes links to a recent AP article, an FBI scare-screed and an essay comparing anti-Santa Muerte hysteria to the Satanic Panic.

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemicreward bowtie

Neuroskeptic points out the deep connection between addiction rhetoric and crypto-moralism:

…The dopamine theory of addiction is extremely popular today…[but] if you view addiction as essentially about reward (pleasure), surely that means…anything pleasurable could…be addictive?…if…addiction is the direct consequence of over-indulgence in a reward, then aren’t you saying that reward itself is ultimately what’s addictive?…If everything from food to friends to music are rewarding because they trigger dopamine release, then surely all of those things could be ‘addictive’…The more fun, the more (potentially) addictive…this idea – for all its medical, neurobiological, scientific language – actually undermines the concept of addiction as a ‘disease’ and reduces it to what amounts to a moral failing – it casts addiction as over-indulgence…

Finding What Isn’t There

Ministers, the police and social workers have been accused of a “shocking” failure to prevent the spread of modern slavery in the UK, leading to sexual exploitation, forced labour and the domestic servitude of adults and children…Describing government ministers as “clueless”…[about] human trafficking…the most exhaustive inquiry yet conducted into the phenomenon concludes that the approach to eradicating modern slavery is fundamentally wrong-headed.  Instead of helping vulnerable victims…the legal system prosecutes many for immigration offences…

Though I hate to defend government officials, I feel compelled to point out that it’s difficult to adapt to ever-expanding definitions, and impossible to produce enough “victims” to satisfy “estimates” which are essentially just made up.

Obfuscation Via Dysphemisms

Gloria…Giammalva…was [sentenced]…to…[21] months in prison and to be partially responsible for a $600,000 money judgment…U.S. Attorney Trent Shores…[claimed] the conspiracy…charged $30 per encounter, which he said meant that 20,000 commercial sex acts were performed by the women who were exploited…Giammalva…conspired with others in the operation of a multistate prostitution business that coerced and enticed women across state lines to participate in commercial sex acts…

Trim off all the dysphemisms and what remains is:  she owned an escort service and the prosecutor lied about the fee to ratchet up the number of “counts”.

Coming and Going (TW3 #35)

Dallas officials are trying to push their “prostitution diversion” scheme on the rest of Texas as a replacement for locking women up.  While any move away from incarceration is good news, the motivation is a desire to save money rather than a recognition that criminalization of consensual adult behavior is wrong; whores are still regarded as “criminals” to be “rehabilitated”, and all are assumed to be miserable victims who want out of sex work.Chester Brown to Rob Arthur

Book Reviews (October 2012)

When Rob Arthur (author of You Will Die) noticed that Chester Brown (author of Paying For It) had expressed interest in his book in the comment thread of this post, he asked me to forward his email address to Chester and the two of them each sent the other a book.  I am both pleased and honored to have facilitated the meeting of two awesome authors whose works  I greatly enjoyed.

Hard Numbers (TW3 #48)

Steph Key will introduce new laws to [the South Australian] Parliament…to decriminalise all forms of sex work, after a previous attempt was rejected by one vote in November.  The new Bill, based on a New Zealand model, would…allow local government…regulatory control…but…prevent councils from outlawing brothels simply because they offer sex work…Ms Key and [Status of Women Minister Gail] Gago were confident the new attempt was more likely to pass…

That’s the Ticket! (TW3 #138)

Dr. Brooke Magnanti on Comic Relief’s subscription to prohibitionist lies:

…This figure comes from a paper that surveyed only street-based sex workers, who represent less than 20% of prostitution…we should be…wary of…any group that throws around this number as if it represents sex work in general…Similarly, we are regularly told that the “average” age of entry into sex work is 13. This is actually incredibly mathematically unlikely, unless there is an epidemic of infants being sexually exploited we don’t yet know about. Former librarian and escort Maggie McNeill has broken down why this oft-repeated assumption is incorrect…The Comic Relief site continues: “The UK is a major destination country for trafficked young people. They are at a very high risk of being sexually exploited.”  No source is given for this statement – probably because no such data exists.  Confirmed trafficking cases in the UK are more likely to enter other jobs like agriculture, hospitality, and domestic service than they are to become sex workers…

No Friend of Ours

In the process of criticizing Nevada’s proposed “Everyone is a Sex Trafficker” Act, Jennifer Reed also debunks the “sex trafficking” panic:

…Prostitution in the U.S. was largely legal until changing women’s sexual norms led to a “white slavery” panic that resulted in the closing of brothels with the White-Slave Traffic Act, better known as the Mann Act in 1910…The reality was numerous young women were drawn into prostitution for “mundane” economic reasons [but] the ambiguous language of the Mann Act…was used to criminalize forms of consensual sexual behavior for many years…The [American] conception…developed because a crusade against prostitution…[conflated it] with human trafficking, a claim for which there is no evidence, even according to the U.S. Government Accountability OfficeAn executive summary of human trafficking put forth by the non-profit Center for Health and Gender Equity concludes that “conflating human trafficking with prostitution results in ineffective anti-trafficking efforts and human rights violations because domestic policing efforts focus on shutting down brothels and arresting sex workers, rather than targeting the more elusive traffickers”…investigations…[focus] almost entirely on commercial sex.  It is a structure built on vice squads rather than labor investigators…

Comfort Zone

I wrote:  “…many European countries seem more interested in ‘trafficking’ as an excuse to restrict immigration than as a genuine concern for the human rights of migrants.”  Jim Cusack of The Independent wrote:  “The Department of Justice and the courts are turning down ‘nearly all’ asylum requests from African women who say they fled [to Ireland] to escape sex traffickers in other European countries…

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The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.  –  Alice Walker

In 1970 Carol Hanisch published a second-wave feminist manifesto entitled “The Personal is Political”, and its title soon became a big feminist catchphrase.  The only problem with that is, it’s a load of crap; usually, the personal is just personal, and declaring it to be political merely holds the door open for increasingly tyrannical intrusion into people’s private lives.  The idea that “the personal is political” is borrowed from Marxist dogma and basically means that nearly any problem experienced by an individual woman is the result of “systematic oppression.”  If she’s unhappy or has a screwed-up life it isn’t because she’s irrational, poor, uneducated, overly emotional, foolish or unlucky in the genetic lottery, or because she’s made bad choices, or because the world is intrinsically unfair and many people of both sexes are unhappy and have screwed-up lives; it’s because she is oppressed by the Patriarchy.  This is, of course, a fundamentally defeatist, paranoid and narcissistic view which removes responsibility from the individual and places it into a social context that encourages permanent class warfare (or in this case, gender warfare).  Since the two sexes are different by nature and will always be unequal in one way or another, this provided political feminists with a path to political power; women were essentially told that their situation was hopeless unless they supported the schemes of the feminist leadership in its brave and determined struggle against the Male Overlords.

There are many kinds of power, but the inherent simple-mindedness of second-wave feminism recognized only one type, political power, because it was the one political feminists craved and also the one women in the postwar era had least of.  Power had to be portrayed as something entirely external to the individual, which helps to explain how neofeminism was able to take control of the movement so quickly; if women realized that one of the greatest (and biologically speaking, the greatest) forms of power, namely sexual power, was already ours from birth, the Neomarxist catechism would be revealed as absurd and organized political feminism would collapse.  So neofeminists intentionally reversed the truth, portraying sex as something men used to control women rather than the other way around.  Second-wave feminism had launched itself by proclaiming that a woman could not take power for herself; she had to be empowered from outside (by a benevolent government controlled or at least influenced by political feminists).  Neofeminism merely established a dogma designed to cut women off from their own natural powers by alienating them from their own bodies and femininity, the sources of those powers.  To use a concrete analogy, the only way to consistently sell baby formula is to dry up women’s own milk or to convince them that nursing is unhealthy, disgusting or morally wrong.

“Empowered” is a deceptively simple word; it seems straightforward enough until you realize its underlying assumptions.  To “empower” someone is to grant her power; it automatically implies A) that she hasn’t got any in the first place, and B) that such power is the speaker’s to give.  Using the word in an active sense (“we need to empower women”) establishes the speaker or his organization as the intrinsic superior and benefactor of the person or persons so “empowered”, and using the word in a passive sense (“an empowered woman”) robs the person so “empowered” of agency, reducing her to the passive recipient of someone else’s benevolence just as people were imagined to be “granted” rights by a king in archaic political theory.  Consider the way bureaucrats from Western nations use the word in reference to the people of developing nations, and you will understand how neofeminists and politicized second-wave feminists view other women.

The word “disempowered” is equally patronizing because it implies that the one so “disempowered” (usually a woman) is a weak, passive, vegetable organism who can be “empowered” or “disempowered” at will by her political masters as easily as one installs or removes batteries from a toy.  With all that in mind, take a look at this article by Tracy Clark-Flory from the September 12th Salon:

…a new study investigates the link between a country’s relative gender equality and the degree of female “empowerment” in the X-rated entertainment it consumes.  Researchers at the University of Hawaii focused on three countries in particular:  Norway, the United States and Japan, which are respectively ranked 1st, 15th and (yikes) 54th on the United Nations’ Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM).  To simplify their analysis, their library of smut was limited to explicit photographs of women “from mainstream pornographic magazines and Internet websites, as well as from the portfolios of the most popular porn stars from each nation.”  Then they set out to evaluate each image on both a disempowerment and an empowerment scale, using respective measures like whether the woman is “bound and dominated” by “leashes, collars, gags, or handcuffs” or “whether she has a natural looking body.”  Their hypothesis was that societies with greater gender equity will consume pornography that has more representations of “empowered women” and less of “disempowered women.”  It turned out the former was true, but…the latter was not.  “While Norwegian pornography offers a wider variety of body types — conforming less to a societal ideal that is disempowering to the average woman — there are still many images that do not promote a healthy respect for women,” the researchers explain…

All researchers have biases which negatively impact the objectivity of their studies, but it’s rare that any outside of “women’s studies” are so glaringly obvious.  These academics are clearly laboring under the delusion that sexual desires are “socially constructed”, revealing a deep ignorance of biology and evolutionary psychology.  Furthermore, they clearly accept without question insulting and ignorant neofeminist beliefs about BDSM, have what I can only interpret as bigotry against cosmetic surgery and promote the degrading collectivist notion (perhaps related to the neofeminist gestalt myth) that it is “unhealthy” for men to be attracted to whatever kind of women they’re attracted to because it might make less attractive women feel bad.  Flory, who is generally pro-sex and pro-sex work, sees the flaws in these assumptions:

…One explanation might be that…cross-cultural biological imperatives are reflected in pornography.  Some of the study’s disempowerment markers could be more a reflection of the gender disparity in porn’s audience.  The researchers note, “In a large portion of hardcore pornography…the erect penis is the most important organ” and “women are often used as little more than receptacles for the penis.”  Is that because of sexism or because porn viewers, who are largely men, identify with…the male member?

…You can’t so easily equate dominance with empowerment and submission with disempowerment.  Take, as one example, that the researchers designate a woman in an “authoritative” position as a sign of empowerment.  That formula can be easily upended — clearly, submission feels empowering to plenty of people.  It’s also awfully subjective:  The popular line within the BDSM community is that it’s the submissive that has all the power, because they’re the ones calling the shots…sex isn’t always empowering or disempowering, equitable or inequitable — it’s much too complicated for that.

The researchers’ appalling ignorance of BDSM is apparent in their interpretation of dominatrix characters as a sign of female “empowerment”, despite the fact that such characters are as much archetypal male fantasy figures as are female slaves.  Actors play roles; to assume that an actress playing a dominatrix role is somehow more “empowered” than one in a sub role is as ridiculous as assuming that the actor playing a king in an historical drama must be the star simply because his character is more important inside the fantasy world of the movie.  But the most important point to note is the researchers’ patronizing assumption that male porn viewers are so impressionable that their level of “respect for women” can essentially be programmed by the content of their wanking material, and that women are such passive, childlike beings that mere images on a screen can grant them “power” or take it away.

One Year Ago Today

Imaginary Victims” examines the difficulty trafficking fetishists have in coming up with even a few poster children to represent the phantom multitudes upon which their propaganda depends.

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