Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Profound Ignorance’

I don’t want to put myself out of business as a storyteller; I just want to tell less painful stories.  –  Melissa Gira Grant

Maggie in the Media LiberTea 8-17-14

Here are a couple of conversations I’ve had in the past few weeks; the How We Talk About Sex podcast with Eric Leviton (recorded the morning after I arrived in New York City), and the LiberTea spreecast (recorded last Sunday night within minutes of my arrival from Washington DC).  These are both very loose, informal conversations, about two hours each, with a lot more laughter and joking around than you might be used to from me.

Do As I Say, Not As I Do 

Try not to throw up when you read the name cops gave their entrapment scheme:

…[Florida] police detective…Reno Chevelle Fells resigned…after his arrest at a St. Augustine Beach hotel [after responding] to an online ad offering sex for money…”Operation Summer Lovin'” resulted in 14 arrests…

Law of the Instrument

Another cop helpfully explains that “sex trafficking” is everywhere, that “victims” don’t know that they’re victims and that women are so stupid and passive they have to be “taught” and “coached” to fear and distrust thugs who deceive, molest, chain and cage them. Words fall utterly short.

Somehow, I Doubt He Thought This Through

[William McDaniel] reported he did not get the sex act he requested as part of his $350 private dance at Sagebrush Sam’s Exotic Dance Club…west of Butte [Montana].  Officers informed him asking an exotic dancer for a sexual gratification is illegal and put him in jail for solicitation of prostitution…

Schadenfreude 

In “Unraveling”, Anne Elizabeth Moore discusses the deep connections between the “rescue” and garment industries (in comic strip form, drawn by Melissa Mendes).  There are also links to other strips in the series.  If you’re ever wondered why “rehabilitation” for sex workers so often seems to involve working in sweatshops, and why Somaly Mam was sponsored by fashion companies, you need to read this.

Scapegoats

An Albuquerque woman was arrested…after…she tried to poison her roommates when they discovered she had been having sex with two German shepherds.  Shari Walters…was…caught…having sex with both her roommates’ dogs…the night after…both roommates noticed their food tasted different…Walters…admitted to putting rubbing alcohol in both roommates’ waters, as well as toilet bowl cleaner in their food…

Above the Law

Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper…Eric Roberts…pulled [a woman] over without probable cause…then…forced the victim to perform sexual acts in his patrol car, before driving to another location where he…raped her…”  But Roberts is just a piker compared to his “brother officer” Daniel Holtzclaw:

…Daniel Ken Holtzclaw, 27, was arrested…on complaints of rape, forcible oral sodomy, sexual battery and indecent exposure…Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty said…Holtzclaw stopped women while he was working and forced them to expose themselves, fondled them and in at least one instance [raped] a woman.  Authorities have statements from six victims and expect a statement from a seventh…investigators believe there are additional victims…

The Lion and the Ox

There’s an awful lot of “suppose” and “maybe” here:

…The link between surrogacy and human trafficking is currently under investigation.  It is unequivocal that any child conceived to be sold constitutes a trafficked human…A clause in [UN protocol]…states that “references to slavery and similar practices may include illegal adoption in some circumstances”…it is unlikely, but possible, that the babies or embryos were envisaged for exploitation in the sex industry, on the illegal donor market, for slavery or the labour market.  This, de facto, constitutes a human trafficking case…Exploring links between…surrogacy and illegal adoption…automatically leads to organised crime…we may infer that the children were to be sold into an illegal adoption scheme…Suppose the children were conceived to be enslaved or exploited in the sex industry…

Somebody’s Daughter

Stalwart ally Elizabeth N. Brown on the “Would you want your daughter to be a whore?” fallacy:

…Using his apparent mind-reading powers, [Damon Linker] asserts that no one could honestly be okay with having a child in porn…Linker knows that nearly everyone must feel appalled because… he thought about it and was appalled?  That’s some pretty shaky logic…I would sure as shit rather have a porn star daughter (or son) than one who thinks, as Linker does, that being in porn makes someone “low, base, and degraded”…There’s nothing wrong with having certain expectations for your children…But…Our best laid plans mean jack…Proponents of decriminalization aren’t asking you to become pro prostitution, to encourage your kids to go into sex work, or even to abandon thinking it’s morally wrong, if that’s what you think…All we’re asking is for you to consider that criminalizing prostitution does more harm than good.  If — gasp! horror! disgust! — your daughter did happen to become a sex worker, wouldn’t you want to make it as safe and non-ruinous for her as possible?

Profound Ignorance

The “before the internet most whores were streetwalkers” and “each whore has only one ad” tropes just won’t die no matter how many times we kill them:

…A snapshot as recently as last week found 2,253 individuals advertising sex for sale [in Scotland] on a series of escort and other websites…However, sources stressed numbers have been close to 3,000 in recent months as the market – largely featuring foreign women who move around or are moved around – ebbed and flowed.  The sex trade has moved off the streets in recent years as women working in flats replaced traditional streetwalkers, most of whom were Scots with addiction or debt problems…Detective Chief Inspector Ruth Gilfillan…said she believed “well over 90 per cent” of sex work was now carried out from flats or brothels…

Texas Tall Tales Facebook Pimp

Texas just loves the “Facebook pimps” myth:

…pimps, hiding behind fake identities, increasingly use social media to lure young girls into the trade.  Unscrupulous predators and the popularity of online networking have made it tougher for authorities to crack down on sex trafficking.  Police estimate that 100 adolescents are trafficked every year in Dallas…

The article also claims that the undefined “illicit sex market” in Dallas is worth $99 million (per year? per day? as a purchase price?) and that 1 in 7 (14%) of the “children” reported missing are “probably victims of sex trafficking”…which would be a good trick, since only 0.014% of all “missing children” are abducted by strangers.

Banishment

But officials claim “sex offender” registration isn’t a punishment.

Dozens of sex offenders who have satisfied their sentences in New York…are being held in prison beyond their release dates because of a new interpretation of a state law that…restricts many sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school.  Those unable to find such accommodations often end up in homeless shelters.  But in February…[“authorities” proclaimed] the 1,000-foot restriction also extended from homeless shelters, making most of them off limits…in New York City…only 14 of the 270 shelters…have been deemed eligible to receive sex offenders.  But with [these] often filled to capacity, the state has opted to keep certain categories of sex offenders in custody…Some have begun filing habeas corpus petitions…demanding to be released…The state’s [pretense] is that it has the legal authority to continue holding [them]…because they are largely subject to post-release supervision by the state…[such as] unannounced home visits…as well as restrictions on Internet use and interactions with minors…

Under Every Bed 

As in the Chanel Island of Jersey, population < 100,000:  “Jersey Police…are investigating a sex trafficking ring.  The force say they have received information about a growing sex trade in the island, with women potentially being trafficked and exploited…

Monsters

The parents of an eight-year-old beat “every inch” of him, until he was dead, because he played with dolls…Pearl Fernandez, 30, and Isauro Aguirre, 34, beat their son Gabriel…“for eight straight months”, and he was “tortured more severely than many prisoners of war”…According to statements given by his two siblings, he was forced to eat cat faeces and rotten spinach and was not allowed to use the toilet…He was beaten with a metal hanger, a belt buckle and lost multiple teeth when he was hit with a bat…

Lower Education 

Northern Illinois University is restricting students’ access to certain websites.  For their own good, of course…Students who attempt to visit an unauthorized site through the campus network are redirected to a creepy “Web Page Access Warning”…[which] one student reported…to Reddit after he received a warning for trying to access the Westboro  Bapist Church’s Wikipedia page…NIU cites “common sense, decency, ethical use, civility, and security,” as its various rationales for…[trying] to dissuade students from visiting websites deemed harmful by administrators…

web page censorship threat

Mumbo Jumbo

When an article is this shockingly stupid, it’s hard to decide how to file it.  Is the most important factor the hilarious “Harvard of sex trafficking” label, or the use of the word “literally” to describe something that isn’t literal?  Is it a woman’s changed, then recanted, then re-sworn testimony being described as “her true story” because it agrees with prosecutors’ claims?  Is it yet another woman being caged to compel her testimony?  I was tempted to give precedence to the statements made by “trafficking expert” Donna Sabella, who said that domestic violence is “like” domestic violence (yep); that “prostitution…often results in arrested development — young women with the social or emotional age of someone 12 or 13”; and that “trafficking…has become somewhat normalized through…music, pimp costumes and shows like Pimp My Ride“.  But I eventually decided that it had to be Milwaukee cop Dawn Jones’ claim that “girls are…property of one pimp or another” but can change this supposed “ownership” to a new pimp by “looking one in the eye”.  It is unclear whether the magical “ownership”-changing force proceeds from the eye of the whore or the “pimp”.

Gorged With Meaning (TW3 #409)

Pamela Stubbart is a libertarian who resigned from an organization called Young Voices because it allowed Belle Knox, who is also a libertarian, to join.  While I totally support the right of any person to associate or disassociate with others as she sees fit, and to like or dislike people (including me) or activities (including mine) as her psyche dictates, I do rather wish she hadn’t laced her resignation letter with prudishness draped in faux-reason.  Anyhow, Cliterati writer Slut O’Crat has penned an in-depth look at what’s wrong with Stubbart’s behavior, and more generally at the weird aversion some sex worker activists have to many sex workers’ wholly-natural and eminently-predictable embrace of libertarian ideas.

Worse Than I Thought (Traffic Updates)

the [Arkansas] Task Force for the Prevention of Human Trafficking…presented findings and recommendations to the Judiciary Committee…It…[wants] to add human trafficking convictions to those requiring registration as a sex offender.  Other recommendations include posting a hotline number at all rest stops, state parks, and schools with grades 6-12.  This is an extension of legislation already passed which requires the hotline number to be posted at sexually oriented businesses and truck stops…

A Whore in Church (TW3 #433) Patrick Johnson

[After] bare-breasted women…marched in front of the New Beginnings Ministries church in [Ohio]…Patrick Johnson…of the anti-abortion group Personhood Ohio, responded…by asking Ohioans to call the legislature in support of banning “all public nudity in the state,” according to WSYX.  “I am sick that women can legally bare their breasts to children and to married men against their will in Ohio…what they did was an offense to God, was an offense to the public morality, and the legislature should act to criminalize what they did”…

Uncommon Sense (TW3 #433)

The proposed new law to “protect” German sex workers is very, very bad:

…the underlying spirit of this bill appears to be the perception of sex work as a social evil the government cannot rid society of and feels therefore obligated to impose regulations on it to such an extent where completely adhering to them is rendered virtually impossible, which in turn will enable law enforcement agencies to persecute sex workers and operators of prostitution businesses.  Hence, the title of this bill is utterly misleading and an insult to sex workers fighting for equal rights under the law…the bill will not protect sex workers, but instead…aims to protect society from the imaginary evil of prostitution…

Read Full Post »

It [is] very easy for government ministers…to talk around “we will stop trafficking”, as a code for “we will stop immigration and protect your white land”.  –  Belinda Brooks-Gordon

Bad Girls Emily Wyatt

Men:  Pay your hookers!  Ladies:  Get the damned money up front!

A prostitute and heroin addict desperate for money has been jailed for…stealing from her clients.  Emily Ruth Tequilla Wyatt…conned one…into leaving his flat…so she could break in and steal a…television…Just days before, she had stole [sic] £40 and a CD off another customer who had refused to pay her…

But Emily’s amateurish efforts aren’t remotely in the same class as these:

…Subhanna Beyah, AKA Crystal…was arrested and charged with ripping off 13 men and making off with $1,281,769 in jewelry, guns, cash, and property including a Cadillac Escalade.  Two other women — 25-year-old Johninna Miller and 27-year-old Keshia Clark — were arrested…and have subsequently bonded out.  Ryan Elkins, the daughter of a police chief…is on the lam…

The Swedish Pimpocracy

A man on trial in…Sweden for allegedly raping a woman…has been freed because he “wasn’t aware” she was drunk…The…woman [said] the last thing she remembers…is falling asleep in the man’s apartment with her clothes on before waking up the following afternoon…locked in a room…Tests later revealed the woman’s blood alcohol-level was…more than ten times the legal limit in Sweden…Prosecutor Stefan Lind plans to appeal the verdict…

Bell, Hook and Kettle

Young boys were locked in a cage for days on end…at [Australian] Salvation Army homes in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s…and the…leadership…failed to discipline or remove the perpetrators…a Royal Commission…will focus on the alleged abuse inflicted by…Lawrence Wilson, Russell Walker, Victor Bennett, John McIver and Donald Schultz on boys aged from about six to about 17…”The boys were frequently punched…thrown on the ground with force, hit with straps until they developed welts or bled,” [Commission member Simeon] Beckett said.  They were repeatedly anally raped and forced to undertake oral sex on their house parents.  They were also abused by other boys…[those] who complained were often disbelieved and severely punished…

See also “Dirty Laundry” below.

Not To Be Taken Internally

Tits and Sass discusses a Vice documentary on “butt shots” from non-doctors, and interviews two medical professionals about them.  There’s a link to the 17-minute documentary there if you’re interested.

The Course of a Disease

An interview with Dr. Jay Levy on his research demonstrating the violence caused by the Swedish model:

Above the Law

This week’s first rapist cop hails from Dallas:  “…La’Cori Johnson was on duty when he stopped a woman and…told [her] she had a warrant out for her arrest…he…then drove his patrol car to a dead end…[forced] the woman…to perform oral sex on him [then raped] her…the woman said she [complied]…because she was afraid of going to jail….”  And the second from the Orlando, Florida area:

A Florida sheriff’s deputy has been arrested after a woman alleged that he groped her…[her] boyfriend flagged the deputy, Matthew Donnelly, down when he noticed that [she] had passed out [from drinking]…Donnelly placed the boyfriend into the back of his squad car and then went to [assault] the victim…[saying he] would let the…boyfriend go so long as she didn’t tell anyone about the groping…The victim’s DNA was found [in the car]…even though there is no evidence that [she] was ever in [it]…Donnelly’s dashboard camera was turned off for 22 minutes during the encounter…

The Widening Gyre

In my mind, the “King of the Hill” rhetoric here is secondary to the hilarious image of truckers moving pallets full of passive, immobile “women and children” (confined in dog crates, perhaps?) via forklift in busy, crowded truck stops without anyone noticing.  Anyone who’s ever placed an ad on Eros will also find this description of it extremely funny:

…Law enforcement across the country have pinpointed the internet as the number one ruler for the buying and selling of children and women…Sex trafficking is…thriving on websites such as backpage.com, eros.com and myred.com [sic], where they hide under disguises such as massage…anyone can post an advertisement, making it extremely easy to sell underage girls…Central Missouri is a major hub for truck stops, which makes it easy for sex traffickers to buy and sell women and children.  Truck stops are close to main interstates,  making it a dream scenario…traffickers can load their trucks with women and children without their feet ever touching the ground…The Department of Justice has identified St. Louis as one of the top 20 human trafficking jurisdictions in the country…

Obfuscation Via Dysphemisms

Tulsa, OK cops just love “sex trafficking” rhetoric, because it allows them to pretend to be heroes while destroying real people’s lives:

…an increasing number of suspected sex traffickers have found themselves…hauled into Tulsa federal court.  Prosecuting such crimes “is a big priority in our district,” said Danny Williams Sr., U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma. “We’re really being aggressive about it”…

Blah blah pimps, blah blah Super Bowl, blah blah “drugs can only be sold once”.

Dirty Laundry

Nuns’ treatment of children at a residential care home was “bordering on the psychotic”, Northern Ireland’s Historical Abuse Inquiry has been told.  Sisters of Nazareth nuns thumped and kicked children…[a] former resident described the home as a “hell-hole” and likened it to a concentration camp…[another] told the inquiry that…children who wet the bed were forced to…have a bath in Jeyes Fluid…Jeyes Fluid

Other forms of abuse included “Separation of brothers and sisters, not even telling them if they were in the same home…Locking in cupboards…Humiliating children for bed wetting, forcing them to stand with the sheets on their heads…Forced farm labouring or working in the laundry instead of going to school…Removal of Christmas presents and other personal items…Calling children by numbers rather than names…[forcing sick children] to eat their own vomit…and lack of medical attention…

With Friends Like These…

Another article about the institutionalized insanity of encouraging cops to use condoms as “evidence of prostitution”; unfortunately, it’s liberally sprinkled with prohibitionist vomit like this:  “The New York City sex industry isn’t glamorous.  It’s dark, seedy, lurid, and the sex work that the women and, to a lesser degree, men engage in carries the risk of danger, disease, sexual violence, and abduction…the average age of a prostitute in the United States [is] between the ages of 12-14 years old” Not the average debut; the average age at present.

Japanese Prostitution (TW3 #131)

The new chairman of Japan’s national broadcaster is facing calls for his resignation after defending Japan’s use of wartime sex slaves…Katsuto Momii…said brothels were “common” in all countries involved in the war, and described as “puzzling” criticism of Japan’s enslavement of up to 200,000 mainly Korean, Chinese and Filipino women…”Can we say there were none in Germany or France?  It was everywhere in Europe…it was a reality of those times…”

Sure, we’ve all heard of those French brothels with thousands of Belgian slaves, and British brothels with Irish slaves.  It was everywhere!

Tyranny By Consensus (TW3 #138)

A judge has struck down a ballot measure that would [have forced] the city of Los Angeles to launch its own health department separate from the county’s…[ruling] that the measure…would conflict with state law…and would “impermissibly interfere with essential government functions.”  The measure was spearheaded by the…AIDS Healthcare Foundation…

Profound Ignorance (TW3 #310) prohibition beer raid

Another pompous ignoramus uses a thoroughly-debunked study to pretend that sex work magically ignores all economic laws:

…experts with knowledge of prostitution…say a loosening of legislation could have the effect of enabling sex traffickers, while also increasing demand for paid sex…criminologist Michael Down…pointed to…[the Neumayer, Cho & Dreher study]…Down…said…relaxation of prostitution laws could [give]…criminal elements…a “very strong incentive” to increase recruitment and coercion of young women…

Try this instead: “Down said repeal of Prohibition could give criminal elements a ‘very strong incentive’ to increase bootlegging and rum-running…

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (TW3 #312)

Imagine an American politician saying this:

Prostitutes are heroines to their families because they can feed their families on their own; therefore, it would be inhumane to close down brothels…Widya Kandi Susanti, the regent of Kendal, Central Java, said…Widya said that prostitutes in Kendal were regularly offered sewing courses…but after a few months they decided to return to the business of selling sex…

Challenge

A sex-worker rights group…is teaming up with a high-profile First Amendment lawyer…to launch a legal strategy aimed at overthrowing the laws against prostitution.  It’s a bold and unprecedented effort to get the federal courts to agree that sex work is protected by the Constitutional right to privacy – but…H. Louis Sirkin…who helped overturn a Texas law banning the sale of sex toys and defended the rights of a Cincinnati museum to display the works of Robert Mapplethorpe, [said] both society and the courts are moving in the direction of protecting sexual privacy – and that consensual, commercial sex between adults falls into that…

Between the Ears (TW3 #334)

I predict many dudes who use this will later find their glasses mysteriously broken or lost:

It was only a matter of time before the voyeuristic world of Google Glass collided with sex. “Sex with Google Glass”…lets you watch — and record — yourself having sex from all angles and even “see what your partner can see”…it…can be synced up to a…device…to control lighting, music and even lessons from the Kama Sutra…In case you are particularly proud of your performance, the app can also record a video… Sunday Life 1-26-14

O, Canada! (Hysteria On Parade) 

Police say they’re posing as johns and visiting sex workers in a bid to find the hidden victims of human trafficking — especially underage girls.  But one Ottawa escort and a local advocate for sex-trade workers say they’re making the women suspicious and scared not safer…when the woman opens the door to [the lying cop], she finds several more…on her doorstep…they are also visiting spas and massage parlours…[outing the workers] to bystanders and…[asking] for personal information…Inspector Paul Johnston said that…police…just want to ask if they’re OK and let them know help is available…

No, they “just” want to send the message to sex workers, “We know who and where you are and we can bust you for brothelkeeping any time we like.”

Welcome To Our World (TW3 #345)

If this woman has any decency, she’ll mail every check back to him and inform the prosecutor of that fact via email each time:  “…A judge ruled that [sperm donor] William Marotta must pay child support, even though he…signed documents waiving his parental rights…[because] Kansas law [demands]…a licensed physician must be involved in an artificial insemination process…Marotta…[plans] to appeal…

Uncommon Sense (TW3 #345)

Germany’s ladies of the night are refusing to be pushed into the shadows in the national sex debate…One of the ruling parties is now trying to pour cold water on the trade…And the prostitutes…are not happy…they…are determined to be a part of the national conversation, instead of watching others have the debate for them…The message coming out of [their] new union…is that preconceived notions and stereotypes that make up the public discourse on prostitution are wrong…

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #404)

ICRSE condemns…the European Parliament Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee on their decision to support the criminalisation of clients”; the letter is available for download as a template.  Meanwhile

An expert on prostitution laws…has said the “Nordic Model”…is “extremely dangerous”.  Dr Belinda Brooks-Gordon…said…”There is no reason to criminalise prostitution clients when you cannot show demonstrable harm.  In fact all the evidence is in the other direction”…She said criminalising the purchase of sex…makes both clients and sex workers less likely to report violence and that it leads to other levels of underground criminality…there is no evidence supporting the Swedish model and…”Norway only introduced it because they were terrified people would come over the border…So they did it as a prophylactic measure…and then actually found it to be unworkable and a nightmare”…In New Zealand, research showed that decriminalisation (not legalisation), which allowed women to work together in small groups, helped improve trust in police and decrease violence…

Read Full Post »

The idea that [no coerced prostitutes] ever indicate their plight to any of the hundreds of thousands of men who make up their clientele, or that if they do none of those men reports it to police, is simply fantastical.  No one with any experience of real live human beings could possibly believe it.  –  Tim Worstall

Think of the Children!

…For the past two decades, parents who’ve lost children in horrible ways have tried to memorialize them in law…But…support for… “apostrophe laws”…is waning…recession…made officials…hesitant to increase costs…from…more prisoners and longer sentences…the drop in the crime rate…made tougher laws…less politically compelling…[and] the lower-hanging fruit has been picked…

Rebecca Williams
Lack of Evidence

A [West Australian] businesswoman claims…police have stopped her repeatedly…in the crackdown on street prostitution.  Rebecca Williams says…officers…[demanded] to know what she was doing and [checked] her identification…”  Of course she’s wholly clueless, protesting that she doesn’t “look like a prostitute”.

Must…resist…snark…

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

A [Las Vegas] police officer is facing five counts of soliciting…while he was investigating crimes of prostitution…Investigators followed [Peter] Connell for months and witnessed him…visiting the apartment of Mary Anne Moore, who had previous prostitution arrests…

Somehow, I Doubt He Thought This Through

A man…dialed 999 to complain about a prostitute’s looks…[saying] he “wished to report her for breaching the Sale of Goods Act”…Officers…sent…a letter warning him about wasting police time…

The Enlightenment Police

A young Muslim woman miscarried after being attacked by two Parisian champions of women’s rights:  “first [they] tried taking her headscarf off and later cut off her hair…After she screamed out that she was pregnant, one of the attackers started kicking her in the stomach…[shouting] that the veil was no longer acceptable in France…Lorna Dueck

The Crumbling Dam

This article entitled “Faith Groups Oppose Legal Prostitution Because They Care About Women’s Lives” is just the usual collection of sin-and-degradation prohibitionist control freak myths; the comment thread, however, is a thing of beauty.

Mind Reading (November Updates)

Why do so many politicians think sex overrides the Constitution?

Pierce County [Washington] might make it illegal for suspected prostitutes and their customers to attempt to detect undercover officers…by “exposing oneself or asking another to do so; by asking to be touched sexually; or by requesting to touch or touching another sexually”…

Where Are the Protests?

Notice what words we aren’t seeing here:

Agents from the Department of Homeland Security raided [several] 7-Eleven shops in New York and Virginia…Nine store owners and managers have been arrested on charges of harboring and hiring undocumented immigrants…the raids are a part of an investigation into human smuggling, identity theft and money laundering…authorities described the alleged situation as a “modern day plantation system“…

Not To Be Taken Internally

Suyima Torres…[died 10 hours after receiving buttocks injections] at…Cuerpos Health and Aesthetics on April 11…she…was rushed to the hospital…by the center’s owner, Ruth Planas…the Venezuelan doctor who performed the surgery…is thought to have fled the country…Torres died only 16 days after…20-year-old Dailen Garcia, received butt implants from the same facility…[and] was hospitalized …for vision problems and bleeding lungs…Meet the Fokkens

Presents, Presents, Presents!

Reader George sent me a copy of Meet the Fokkens and a gift card, with the suggestion I use it to buy the movie Diamond Men (which I did).  Thank you so much, George!

Above the Law

Texas jailers…”repeatedly raped and humiliated female inmates”…[who’ve now] sued Live Oak County and its…jailers Vincent Aguilar, Israel Charles Jr. and Jaime E. Smith…All three…were arrested in August 2010 and charged with sexual assault…Smith and Aguilar are in…prison…”these guards would withhold food and water, engage in physical abuse, restrict privileges and verbally and emotionally abuse the women – even threaten to kill them in order to compel their compliance”…

The Widening Gyre

In which we learn that nail parlors are havens of “sex trafficking”:

…the advocacy group ECPAT estimates 100,000 minors are forced into prostitution or pornography each year — but no one knows how vast the problem is because it’s under reported and underground, said Kathy Maitland of the Michigan Abolitionist project…”It’s the second-largest-growing activity in our country”…She says Michigan is especially vulnerable because of a large agricultural industry…and its location along an international border…Lt. Wendy Reyes…said…”If we had more manpower we…could get online…and find these victims”…trafficking is often linked to online and street prostitution, ethnic restaurants, masseuse businesses, pornography and nail salons…iEmpathize founder Brad Riley…called…the proliferation of pornography…a “super fuel” that promotes trafficking…

Beside the usual rampant illogic, mathematical illiteracy, blatant racism and “King of the Hill” foolishness, you’ve got to love Wendy’s claim that cops need to web surf all day to “find victims”.

The More the Better (TW3 #27)

French footballers Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema go on trial in Paris…accused of paying…Zahia Dehar…for sex in 2008 and 2009…Algerian-born Dehar, now 21, has since become designer Karl Lagerfeld’s muse and protégée, launching her own lingerie line…State prosecutors have requested that the case be dropped, however, arguing the footballers did not know Dehar was a minor…

Follow Your Bliss (TW3 #44)

A…top [TSA] officer…[named Miguel Quinones] was arrested on child pornography charges after items were seized from his locker at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport…”  As explained in the referenced column, the TSA is well-known for attracting pedophiles.

Q & A (TW3 #134)

P411 lilyTwenty-two female escorts were arrested last week during a two-day sting in…Denver…The women were advertising on two websites — DenverBackPage.com and Preferred411.com…” Despite the involvement of the FBI’s lugubriously-named “Innocence Lost” project, note that verified professional adult escorts were targeted via P411; these cops had no illusions they might find “trafficked children”.  In fact, the sting was enabled by one creating a fake profile and then arranging several “coffee dates” with escorts and asking for “OKs”, which the escorts gave in violation of P411 rules; their accounts were suspended for their negligence in enabling predatory monsters to hurt other sex workers.  Ladies, ONLY give OKs to men you actually see behind closed doors; how can you possibly know whether a man is dangerous if you’ve only seen him in public?

Profound Ignorance (TW3 #310)

A scathing demolition of the horrendous “study” which claimed legalized prostitution increases “sex trafficking”, and also of the “sheer implausibility of the claims that 30% of all prostitutes are trafficked…”:

The…scare campaign…over “sex trafficking”…becomes a complete and total mess…because [campaigners confuse]…the transport of unwilling people…into forced prostitution…and…the illegal movement of willing people across borders to enter the sex trade…people from poorer countries…wish to…move…to richer countries.  And such is the system of immigration laws that many of them will be unable to do this legally…

Cathy Reisenwitz also had a few things to say:

The Guardian recently quoted UK solicitor general Oliver Heald QC describing “victims” of trafficking as people who pay a lot of money to escape their home countries and then are forced to pay it back…That’s not slavery, it’s indentured servitude, and it accounts for two-thirds of immigrants to America from the British Isles in the 17th century.  Anti-prostitution and anti-immigration campaigners have  hijacked the term “human trafficking” to describe any instance of a person crossing a border to do sex work…It requires buying into the rather insulting idea that women aren’t capable of choosing to leave their homes and do sex work abroad…once you establish that women aren’t capable of making their own choices, you can justify taking all kinds of rights and liberties away from them…

The End of the Beginning

Corrections officials are refusing to remove a sex offender’s name from the state’s public database, defying [the] order…[of] The Court of Appeals [which] ruled…that [Robert Merle Haines Jr.] should not be named on the…registry because [it] did not exist at the time of his crime and registration would be a form of retroactive punishment, which the Maryland Constitution doesn’t allow.  Corrections officials say federal…requirements prevent them from complying with the ruling…

Meanwhile, in Minnesota:

…Minnesota’s Sex Offender…Task Force…[is] redesigning the…program…each of the state’s 687 committed sex offenders [costs]…about $120,000 a year…with…50 more…each year…The task force came into existence as part of a lawsuit filed by the committed sex offenders, who argue the…program is unconstitutional because…no one is actually treated and released, thereby creating an indefinite incarceration system even after the offenders have served their criminal [sentences]…

Another Small Victory (TW3 #317)

As expected, the “anti-prostitution pledge” was struck down in the SCOTUS.  This is not actually a victory for sex worker rights in the big picture; it was decided wholly on first-amendment grounds and the “allies” were at best ones of convenience.  If you’d like to read more about the details and implications, I recommend Melissa Gira Grant, Popehat and Mike Siegel.

"The Ionian Dance" by Sir Edward John Poynter (1895) was recently rediscovered after being "lost" since 1915. It depicts a scene from ancient Pompeii.

“The Ionian Dance” by Sir Edward John Poynter (1895) was recently rediscovered after being “lost” since 1915. It depicts a scene from ancient Pompeii.

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (TW3 #318)

If anyone really believes this is anything but an attempt to save face, I have some lovely beachfront property for sale:

For the first time, the State Department on Wednesday declared China and Russia among the worst offending countries…a designation that will lead to sanctions against both…the…2013 report on Trafficking in Persons (TIP)…officially downgraded China, Russia, and Uzbekistan to the lowest possible rating…along with Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Sudan, and Zimbabwe…

What If They Threw a Party and Nobody Came? (TW3 #321)

The prevalence of dangerous strains of the human papillomavirus…has dropped by half among teenage girls in recent years, a striking measure of success for a vaccine…that was introduced only in 2006…The magnitude of the decline…surprised…experts because only about a third of teenage girls in the United States have [received]…the full course of three doses.  By comparison, vaccination rates in…Denmark…Britain [and]…Rwanda…[have] reached 80 percent…

Deafening Silence

When this happens in India, it’s a media circus; in Sweden…{cricket sounds}:  “Six teenage boys aged 15 to 17 were convicted on Friday after raping a 15-year-old girl in…Stockholm…The case was the third…gang rape to take place in the Stockholm area…this year…

The Mills of the Gods

Despite the annoying visuals and a few clumsy phrases in the first third, this is an excellent argument against prohibition of sex work.

Where are the Victims? (TW3 #322)

A novel attempt to use New York State’s sex trafficking law…ended with mixed results…as the men were convicted…of promoting prostitution and of money laundering, but…acquitted of…sex trafficking…The law defines trafficking based on the methods the pimps use to control the prostitutes, rather than whether the prostitutes view themselves as victims…prosecutors…presented an expert to testify that women working as prostitutes are often not aware that they are victims.  But three of the women themselves  testified for the defense…and…were upset…at the…[suggestion] they were not to be believed…

Consider for a moment the incredibly dangerous precedent a prosecution victory would have set; state “experts” would be allowed to define any person as a victim in any crime regardless of that person’s viewpoint.

Zurvivor

The owner of a Lawrence [Massachusetts] massage parlor coerced employees to perform sex acts on…customers, some of whom were videotaped without the clients’ knowledge…Authorities said Barron used the videotapes to blackmail employees to keep working for her…”  Dear ethically-challenged sex business owners:  Stop videotaping clients, you moron.  See, there’s this thing called “evidence”…

Pimping the Pimp

More egregious use of “pimp” mythology to justify Nevada’s draconian “sex trafficking” law:

Because of their age, they will have difficulty working inside most [hotels].  For most, that means hitting the streets under the eye of a pimp and more experienced prostitutes.  And the more they must rely on the pimp, the more difficult it is to pry them from his clutches…So when Assembly Bill 67 surfaced…earlier this year, the police welcomed it as a way to send a message to pimps that there would be a higher price to pay for running young girls…

Once again:  teens don’t turn to sex work because a “pimp” abducts them from their loving families, and 84% of them have never as much as met one.

Read Full Post »

If we [can’t] get the prohibition on sex work repealed, we [will] never end up hanging on to our abortion rights…it’s the same piece of property.  –  Margo St. James

Amsterdam

Dutch “authorities” narrow the bottleneck again and will no doubt be surprised when illegal prostitution increases:  “The city of Amsterdam…will raise the legal age of prostitutes from 18 to 21 and…close brothels during the early morning hours…Amsterdam says it wants to decrease the number of sex workers…to fight crime generated by prostitution…

The Slave-Whore Fantasy

Yet another example of what real sex slavery looks like:

A sex worker who was…held hostage for two…days broke her legs and back when she jumped out a sixth-floor window…Benjamin Gaston and Johnny Jackson have been charged with kidnapping and raping the…woman…Gaston…stole her cellphone, money and identification…hit her and held a pillow over her face, telling her, “You’re…working for me and making me money.”  The next day, [she] was taken to another apartment…where there were six or seven additional men waiting to have sex with her, including Jackson…The woman tried to escape…by using her jacket as a rope…[but] fell to the ground…Saturn Devouring His Son by Francisco Goya (c 1820)

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

I just love it when they feed on one another.  In Stockholm, “Police…were surprised…to find that a man they had arrested for buying sex from a prostitute was the duty prosecutor to whom they were obliged to report the crime…”, and in New York, “Officer Luis Gutierrez…was on duty when he allegedly offered a prostitute money…[but she] was an undercover cop…

Decentralization

Bitcoin is now the world’s best-performing currency:

…The number of coins in circulation grows very slowly–there are about 10.8 million…now, and that will increase to 21 million by 2140…growth…[can’t] keep up with demand and so the value of the currency [grows]…The U.S. dollar value of a Bitcoin is up from…$4.87 [a year ago]…to $31.09 today.  It has appreciated by over 100% from the end of 2012 alone, when the quoted price was $13.48…And it’s also going mainstream, reports in the Guardian and Forbes  suggest…

The Forbes article reports that “Silicon Valley Bank…and…Coinlab….will [soon] allow North America-based…users to directly convert money from dollars to bitcoin, without having to pay the hefty transaction fees associated with transferring money abroad…

Against Their Will

Spanish police were puzzled when thirty Romanian whores they “rescued from exploitation by a network of pimps” immediately returned to work; “none of [them] asked for protection or availed themselves of assistance…to return to their country” despite police claims of beatings and debt bondage.  Meanwhile, Filipino “authorities” continued their weird crusade against “cybersex”:  “…police raided…[an] alleged…cybersex den…[and] rescued 12 [young men]…“They referred to themselves as ‘chatters’ because they chat online…as they perform sexual acts in front of the web cam,” said…officer…Romano Cardiño…

Peeping Toms

Dennis Green admits he offered another man $20…for sex…[but his] defense…could have a far-reaching impact…legalizing prostitution in Ohio…Scott Nazzarine, Green’s public defender…believes there’s no way what Green did can be deemed a crime in today’s society.  He compares it to other acts that at one time were illegal – premarital sex, the sale of sex toys, abortion, contraception…but now are legal, protected rights…“It’s about privacy rights and constitutional rights and the government’s intrusion into them…Any justification for prostitution laws is just a pretext for morality”…

Nazzarine is of course totally right and the judges know it, but I don’t think this is the case that will do the job because there’s still too much hypocrisy afoot.  Still, this won’t be the last one, and eventually individual rights must triumph just as they have in other sexual matters.

We Told You So

Who victimizes sex workersThe Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women is the only large “anti-trafficking” organization which fights the use of bogus statistics and conflation of sex work with exploitation; it’s calling for papers for its Anti-Trafficking Review on the topic “Following the Money: Spending on Anti-Trafficking” …“Lacking is analysis of…anti-trafficking funds – where they come from, who they go to, what they are meant to do, what they actually achieve, and indeed whether they are needed.”  Two of the suggested topics are analysis of the motives behind “anti-trafficking” funding and questioning ties to law enforcement.

An Ounce of Prevention

A baby…who got immediate treatment now has no detectable [HIV] in her blood…within 30 hours of birth…she…got a cocktail of three drugs at a dose normally reserved for more advanced cases…There is still virus in [her] body.  But…it doesn’t seem to be able to spread from one cell to another…[or damage her] immune system…

The Law of Averages

Emi Koyama exposes journalists who knew the falsity of the “average age of debut in prostitution is 13” myth for three years, yet kept repeating it anyhow:  “While I was glad to see that The Oregonian now officially acknowledges that there is no basis for this…everything…Janie Har…wrote…was already in my three-year old blog post…[written after] I first read the claim…in [Oregonian reporter Elizabeth] Hovde’s column…” Emi details her July 2010 correspondence with Hovde, in which the reporter acknowledged her analysis but made excuses rather than issuing a retraction.  Then finally, last Saturday,

The Oregonian acknowledges that the claim is baseless! (But why is it rated “half-truth”…and why did they not mention any other study that contradict 12-14 claim?)  I have a feeling that Janie Har read my blog post…she mentions the same Shared Hope report and points out the same problems…If she did read my blog, why did she not speak with me or give me credit…The Oregonian had the opportunity to stop perpetuating the myth for almost three years, and yet failed to do so as recently as this January.Secret Lives  While Janie Har’s column is to be commended, The Oregonian and Hovde need to take responsibility for their part in the falsehood…

Presents, Presents, Presents!

While I was in New York last week, Secret Lives and A Natural History of Rape arrived as gifts from reader “M”.  Thank you very much, both for the books and the good wishes!

Little Boxes

When Melissa King [aged out of] the Delaware foster care system at 18, she did some porn, entered some pageants, and enrolled in college…Last November, King was crowned Miss Delaware Teen USA…[but] she gave up her crown after an explicit video…surfaced on an amateur porn website…Now she’s being publicly shamed by former friends and international news organizations…Pageants and porn are…two sides of a very thin sexual boundary.  And for a young, pretty girl who’s strapped for cash…only one of [them offers it] up-front…

Naked Truth

Melissa Gira Grant continues a strong run of good articles with “Unpacking the Sex Trafficking Panic” in Contemporary Sexuality, the newsletter of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT).  When sex-worker-penned items criticizing a popular narrative appear under the imprimatur of a relatively-conservative organization, it’s clear the tide has begun to turn.  Also, here’s a good interview with veteran activist Tracy Quan by Caty Simon on Tits and Sass; I promise, I’m not just linking it because it mentions me.Margo St. James in Washington

The Birth of a Movement

In this interview with Bitch magazine, Margo St. James discusses the beginning of the sex worker rights movement, how the neofeminists turned mainstream feminism against us, “sex trafficking” hysteria and the future of sex worker activism.

Coming Out

Dear Prudence” gives what I think is a reasonable response to an unconsciously-bigoted man wondering if he should “out” a sex worker friend to his other friends.  Unfortunately, the graphics give the impression that the woman goes around looking like a Hollywood streetwalker when in reality, the uptight questioner’s issue is that she looks just like any other woman.

Much Ado About Nothing (TW3 #44)

An escort who appeared on a video claiming that Sen. Robert Menendez…paid her for sex has told Dominican authorities that she was instead paid to make up the claims and has never met or seen the senator…a local lawyer had approached her and a fellow escort and asked them to help frame Menendez…That lawyer has in turn identified a second Dominican lawyer who he said gave the woman a script and paid her to read the claims aloud…

Texas Tall Tales

Facebook PimpThe “Facebook pimps” myth just keeps growing and growing, which really isn’t a surprise since it combines three of the moral panics du jour: “sex trafficking”, gangs and the evil, evil internet.  This sort of thing has been happening for as long as there have been exploitative men and naive, sheltered girls with romantic delusions; it’s not a “trend”, not limited to Facebook and not an international conspiracy.  CNN also fails to understand that three cases in a country of 300 million do not an epidemic make, and that 18 isn’t “underage”.

Genetic Fallacy

Yet another example of judges ignoring a law’s unconstitutionality on the grounds that those challenging it have not been sufficiently harmed by it:

The Supreme Court…[dismissed] a challenge to a…federal law that allows…interception of electronic communications…[on the grounds] that the lawyers, journalists and human rights organizations that brought the suit cannot prove they have been caught up in the surveillance and thus may not challenge [it]…the 5 to 4 ruling did not touch on…constitutionality…and challengers said it will be almost impossible now to get that issue before a court…

Profound Ignorance (TW3 #51)

An even more thorough refutation of the moronic prohibitionist claim that sex is somehow different from every other human activity:

The assumption that liberal prostitution laws lead to an increase in human trafficking is refuted.  On the contrary…since…liberalisation, there has been more police activity but…significantly less suspects, convicts and victims.  That’s…an indicator that…disentanglement of prostitution from criminal environments is increasingly successful.” – Volker Beck, MP…“In the year 2000…[German officials] registered…926 victims.  In the year 2011, there were 640.  This equates to a decrease of just under 31 per cent.  If one compares the figures…in 2003 [a year after the prostitution law was passed] and 2011, one sees a certifiable decline of just above 48 per cent”…The…German government thus refutes the claim by Neumayer, Cho and Dreher  that legalised prostitution increases human trafficking…

Déjà Vu (TW3 #135)

More evidence of the evangelical Christian basis for “sex trafficking” mythology and a look inside the perverted minds of prohibitionists:

In the fight against sex trafficking, the Church needs to address the root causes – the ideas…that break the linkage sex has to love, responsibility and children, [said] Lisa Thompson…of…the Salvation Army…Thompson asked [her audience] not [to] divorce…sex trafficking from…prostitution [because]…all prostitution dehumanizes women…”God did not create any woman for the purpose…that she be a cum receptacle.  God did not create the female to be a human being that [johns] are basically masturbating into…sex was never intended to be a job, so let’s not use the language of ‘sex work'”…

That Thompson had to deny that sex work is work is a very good sign indeed.

Caring Professionals

lone red umbrellaI have long held that professional sex workers need to develop a code of ethics just as other professions have, not only for moral reasons but in order to push back against “authorities” who think they are more qualified than we are to set standards for work they’ve never done.  So I was pleased to hear that the Australian Sex-Positive Sex Industry Association (ASPaSIA) is working on just such a code, and I’ll report on it at full length once it’s finalized later this month.

Unclean Situation (TW3 #138)

Labour TD, Eamonn Maloney, said he did not accept the [claims] in the report on the [Magdalene] laundries…“They…made lots of money,” he said…adding that most commercial laundries in the 1940s and 1950s closed because of competition from the Magdalenes.  “Not only has the church as yet to apologise for their role in operating these prisons, they do also have a role…in compensating people,” he said…The Government has so far refused to say what contribution, if any, it will seek from the orders…

Read Full Post »

In reality, sex work isn’t stigmatised because it is dangerous. Sex work is dangerous because it is stigmatized.  –  Laurie Penny

Storyville

This is a pretty good introduction to Storyville, though it has a few errors and two really odd misinterpretations:  she refers to “not on the first floor of any building” as a “district”, and she only counts business owners (rather than individual whores) when discussing income.  Worth watching for the pictures.

Since young colonies rarely have anything to recommend them to women, they often have a pronounced gender imbalance; King Louis XV solved the problem in New Orleans by sending a boatload of whores, and George III did the same thing 68 years later for Australia.  The ship was named the Lady Juliana, and this recent article draws on a recently-unearthed jail log to tell a little about the ship and its passengers.

License To Rape

…a former Eatontown [New Jersey] detective accepted a plea agreement…[for raping] an informant.  His victim…explained to the court…how [Philip] Emanuele used the threat of prison for a theft charge…to coerce her into performing oral sex…When she refused, he raped her…Emanuele acknowledged what he had done in open court, and was sentenced to 5 years of probation for criminal coercion, and 3 years of probation for tampering with evidence…

Lack of Evidence

A New York district attorney has dropped a prostitution charge against former reality TV star Alicia Guastaferro…after further investigation revealed it was unmerited…The D.A. still plans to pursue [other] charges…Guastaferro…[and] attorney James D. Doyle [were found unconscious in Doyle’s car after]…a…motorist…[reported] a car being driven erratically…Guastaferro …told police Doyle pays her $500 to $700 to perform sexual acts and spend the night with him…

Yes, the cops actually filed a prostitution charge on the word of a semi-conscious drunk.

The Red Umbrella

This San Francisco Weekly op-ed by Chris Hall is the best December 17th article by a non-sex worker I have ever seen.  It deserves to be read in its entirety, but its tone is illustrated by the statement “…there really is no conversation about sex work…only a monologue by media and politicians with the workers themselves meant to stay silent.  December 17 events represent a concerted effort to break that silence.”

The New Victorianism

Another Christmas present to sex workers from a journalist who isn’t one of us, but gets it; this one was published in The New Statesman by repentant neofeminist Laurie Penny:

…Laws regulating sex work are written…by people who have never done sex work and who have no sustained contact with those who do.  The most well-meaning legislation…often backfires, pushing the sex trade further underground and giving the police licence to punish and victimise women…feminist author Ellen Willis termed this handkerchief-clutching zeal to “save” prostitutes, porn actresses and other “fallen” women “neo-Victorianism”…It’s a school of so-called women’s liberation that [believes]…work can’t possibly be the problem, so…If sex workers are victimised by the police and…face higher levels of violence and assault at work, then it can only be because of their dirty moral choice to have sex for money…This isn’t about evidence…It’s about morality, just as it was…when…women organised charity centres to ‘save’ street prostitutes from sin by finding them alternative employment as charwomen, in workhouses or scrubbing the streets…any kind of work, however exploitative and badly paid, must be better than sex work because it doesn’t involve sex, wicked sex, sinful sex…

Remy CoutureSee No Evil

The equation of images and reality claims another victim:

…Rémy Couture [is a]…Canadian special-effects artist charged  with “corrupting morals” by illegally combining sex and gore…[in] two short films depicting the crimes of a necrophiliac serial killer and various photographs of simulated torture and dismemberment that were posted on Couture’s now-defunct website…The prosecution argues that Couture’s work is obscene under Canadian law because “a dominant characteristic” of it is “the undue exploitation of sex” combined with “crime, horror, cruelty and violence.”  He faces up to two years in prison for this prohibited mixture

Where Are the Protests?

The word “trafficking” is not to be found in this article, nor are calls for paving to be abolished:

…William Connors…his wife Mary…[and] their sons…were all convicted of conspiracy to require a person to perform forced…labour…the Connors would pick up…homeless drifters or addicts…[who then] lived in squalid caravans…as they moved around the country working on the Connors’ paving and patio businesses…and…were controlled by discipline and violence…[they] were beaten, hit with broom handles, belts, a rake and shovel, and punched and kicked…[they] were often made to strip for a “hosing down session” with freezing water…[and] were paid as little as £5 for a day’s hard labour on jobs that would earn the family several thousand pounds.  They were given so little food they resorted to scavenging from dustbins…

And as Furry Girl points out, nobody seems to care if children are forced to act in movies for their parents’ profit, either:  “Imagine if anti-sex worker activists treated all forms of entertainment the same way they treat [sex work]…Where are the Nick Kristof-led raids of acting classes for children, the protests against movie studios that utilize under-18 performers, and the arrests of live studio audiences at the taping of TV family sitcoms?

The More the Better

Furry Girl writes about the way people’s acceptance of unfamiliar things like marijuana use, homosexuality and sex work tends to grow as they get to know real people who are involved with those things, and she proposes an experiment for those shy about coming out:

Go to a bar in the next city over, or a music festival out of town, or just tell the person sitting next to you on the bus or subway.  Try openness on for just a day, or even 15 minutes.  You will get some bad reactions, but I think it will surprise you how many people won’t be an asshole to you.  Be prepared for questions, which you can choose to answer or not.

Traffic Jam

Susana Trimarco and claimsAmazingly, all 13 victims of an Argentinean “sex trafficking” witch hunt were acquitted of all charges last week:  “…the judges said there was no way to prove that Marita, a 23-year-old mother and wife who vanished on…April 3, 2002, was kidnapped and forced into a prostitution ring…For the last decade Marita’s mother, Susana Trimarco, has waged an uphill battle [against]…the people she believed were responsible for her daughter’s disappearance into the netherworld of human trafficking…”  Trimarco has insisted from the beginning that her daughter was abducted by “sex traffickers”, despite a total lack of evidence for such an outlandish interpretation of the meager facts.  The article points out that Trimarco “almost single-handedly changed the way that human trafficking is viewed…across much of Latin America,” and this is true:  with the help of cops and prohibitionists she has succeeded in introducing American-style “sex trafficking” mythology to a culture which has a much healthier view of sex work than that of the US.

Legitimate Outrage

Being an ignoramus is no impediment to a career in law:

The California Commission on Judicial Performance…[admonished] Judge Derek Johnson…[for] comments [made] in the case of a man who threatened to mutilate the face and genitals of his former girlfriend with a heated screwdriver, beat her with a metal baton and made other violent threats…Johnson, a former prosecutor in the Orange County district attorney’s sex crimes unit, said…”I’m not a gynecologist but I can tell you something:  if someone doesn’t want to have sexual intercourse the body shuts down…[and] will not permit that to happen unless a lot of damage is inflicted, and we heard nothing about that in this case”…since 1980, California law has not required rape victims to prove they resisted or were prevented from resisting.

Profound Ignorance

Several people called to my attention a recent paper claiming that legalizing prostitution increased human trafficking; I pointed out to them that without good data and clear definitions, a prohibitionist can “prove” whatever he likes.  But Dr. Laura Agustín said it much better than I did:

I’ve been asked several times to comment on a recently published article, Does Legalized Prostitution Increase Human Trafficking?…This study belongs to a trend to use econometric concepts and techniques in a (vain) attempt to prove this or that about prostitution…fancy modelling and sophisticated analysis cannot help when the data being analysed is next to useless…Any critique of this work has to begin by asking how the authors define human trafficking, inflows, legalised prostitution, the prostitution market, trafficked women and legal prostitutes.  None of these terms is self-explaining.  After more than 15 years, we do not even have agreement about what the fundamental terms mean, so anyone writing in the field has to tell us which definitions they are using and they have to make sure they compare and contrast categories using the same definitions…The best way to understand this work is Garbage in, garbage out…

Metaupdates

The Crumbling Dam (TW3 #35)

Wally Oppal says the scores of women missing and presumed murdered by Robert Pickton and others in the Vancouver area were doubly forsaken – by society and by police.  In fact, they were triply forsaken…The law itself forsook many of them, by criminalizing them for selling sex and driving them to the extreme margins…“I cannot ignore the reality that this legal regime played an important role in shaping the relationship between the police and women…potentially affecting…investigations…” Mr. Oppal writes…The report is a death knell for prostitution laws in their current form.

Shift in the Wind (TW3 #43)

More and more UN officials are coming out in favor of decriminalization:

The UN Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health – yes, that’s his full title…has…come down firmly on the side of decriminalising the sex industry.  In fact, a 2010 report of his is one of the strongest statements I’ve ever seen in this regard by a UN official…

Tyranny By Consensus (TW3 #47)danger wear goggles sign

A group of adult industry leaders announced…their intent to file a lawsuit soon against Los Angeles County over Measure B…an ill-conceived law that makes it mandatory for adult actors to wear lab coats, goggles and gloves as well as condoms while shooting adult films in the County.  The law was funded solely by AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF)…The attorneys plan to challenge the law on the [grounds that]…health and safety…issues…fall under…State regulation…[they also] plan to challenge…on constitutional grounds…

One Born Every Minute (TW3 #48)

Detectives investigating a website offering to pay the tuition fees of female students in return for sex have arrested [Mark Lancaster] on suspicion of inciting prostitution…”  WTF?  “Inciting prostitution”?  How about fraud and sexual assault?

Gorged With Meaning (TW3 #49)

It’s astonishing that these people just can’t understand and accept that nothing has to “be done”, and that student sex workers will get along without their “help” just as they always have:  “…ex-brothel madam [Becky Adams] has been enlisted to help…Swansea University…research…what motivates [students] to [do] sex work…”  I’ll save them the trouble:  the answer is “good money and flexible hours”.  Now, where’s my £500,000?

This Week in 2010 and 2011

Beside my two previous columns for December 17th, my two previous columns  for Yule, my two previous yuletide fictional interludes and a history of Hanukkah, this week also featured a look at what passes for “evidence of prostitution”, a look at the truth of Swedish “feminism”, a statement of some of my principles, a thought experiment about coercion vs. free choice and a biography of Edith Piaf.  Finally, there were also short items on Craigslist, the UK attempt to block all internet porn, PC celebrities, “john schools”, Bronte sister action figures, nanny-state dating advice, Julian Assange, hate crime, an awkward call, men’s magazines, a fatal BDSM accident, Barbie hate, a begging ban, another hooker-hiring politician and religious persecution.

Read Full Post »

Learning.  The kind of ignorance distinguishing the studious.  –  Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary

What drives so many economists to write half-witted, misinformed papers about sex work?  Clearly, these aren’t stupid people, and one would imagine it would be impossible to get through graduate school without some understanding of the basics of research; some of them even seem motivated by a genuine (and laudable) desire to explore the facts about prostitution rather than simply accepting anti-whore dogma.  So why do most of them choose to ignore the ample research which already exists and eschew interviewing any of the many sex worker activists who can be found with a simple Google search?  Barely a week goes by that I don’t get emails from reporters, academics, lawyers and others with questions about the topic, and I’m only one of dozens who could clear up these scholars’ misconceptions before they even start…yet they prefer to ignore us and make asses of themselves instead.  In just the past year we’ve seen Yeoman and Mars’ “sex robot” nonsense and Lee & Persson’s horrible combination of the Swedish & Nevada models, both of which reveal a total lack of interdisciplinary research by accepting “sex trafficking” hysteria as factual; we also saw that gypsy-whore foolishness from Scott Cunningham and Todd Kendall, based on the fallacious notion that escort ads are in 1:1 correspondence with the number of hookers in an area.  And now here comes Cunningham again, quoted in an appallingly-inaccurate Daily Beast article based in part on another paper he and Kendall wrote in 2009:

Once upon a time, becoming a prostitute was difficult.  In, say, 1992, you could risk your life as a streetwalker—if you lived near a street where one could walk provocatively and reasonably expect to find customers.  You could make and place an ad for sexual services in your local alternative weekly, at least if you lived in a city—but the responses wouldn’t begin until well after said weekly was printed and distributed.  Of course, there were brothels, massage parlors, agencies, and so on back then, even an escorts section of the yellow pages.  But it wasn’t as if any 20-year-old with a flash of curiosity about sex work could within hours find a client or a pimp and go into business selling herself…

The idiocy starts right from the get-go, and though we can’t blame Cunningham for author Gregory Gilderman’s use of the grating phrase “selling herself” or his casual assertion of the “all whores have pimps” myth, it seems his paper is the source of the patently-false belief (which any veteran 20th century hooker can debunk) that picking up a phone and calling an escort service out of the yellow pages was somehow harder or slower than setting up an online ad oneself.

…“When you take the profile of Internet prostitutes versus street prostitutes, you find there’s more education, and that more work temporarily, then exit,” says Scott Cunningham, an economist…who has studied the impact of the Internet on prostitution markets.  “They also are significantly less likely to work for a pimp.”  [They]…even look different…[Cunningham]  found that when Craigslist first entered a new area…the body weight of the women advertising sex gradually shifted to, in his words, “a more athletic body type.  It moves from less attractive to more attractive in the eyes of the john”…the Internet…hasn’t merely moved online and indoors those who once worked the street, but…created a different sort of sex worker—more educated, younger—and a bigger market of women selling sexual services in the United States and men purchasing those services…

Though Cunningham starts with two true statements (albeit the second is dramatically understated),  he then compares internet escorts to streetwalkers (rather than to pre-internet agency girls) and assumes that the statements of weight in ads are truthful.  Gilderman runs with that, immediately reiterating the fallacy that before the internet most hookers were streetwalkers and making the factually-unsupported statement that prostitution is more widespread now than in the ‘90s.  It gets worse; next he seems to claim that there were escort reviews on Craigslist, that a man could somehow use it to screen girls, and (most incredibly of all) that ads on Craigslist were more reliable than those on escort review boards:

…in the pre-Internet era…there was simply no practical way for a man to compare the looks and prices of large numbers of escorts, anonymously contact them, and receive reliable information that a provider was, in fact, not working for the police.  Craigslist changed that…there had always been sex ads on the Internet…but their presence on Craigslist was something like the difference between a brothel on a side street in the bad part of town and a brothel in the Mall of America…sex work for women between ages 20 and 40 has mostly shifted from an outdoor activity involving street walking to an indoor activity involving online solicitation and communication.  Second, because is it much easier to buy and sell sex, there are simply more prostitutes, and clients, than there were before…

As I’ve stated many times, streetwalkers have always been a minority of whores in every era of human history, and since the advent of modern anti-whore laws a century ago they’ve been a relatively small minority in most places.  The internet has indeed caused some outdoor workers to move indoors, but the shrinkage was from about 15% of the whore population working the street to perhaps 8-10% doing so; it was hardly the seismic shift that reporters and ill-informed academics keep representing it as.  Furthermore, if prostitution has indeed increased in the past 20 years (and I have never seen any credible evidence that it has), it would merely be a rebound toward normal levels from a probable low in the 1970s due to the high availability of “free” sex at the time.  Kinsey found that 69% of men in the 1940s had paid for sex at least once in their lives, and though the tendency of more recent studies to generate lower numbers is due partly to poor question design and partly to underreporting due to increased social stigma since the 1980s, it’s certainly possible and even likely that the increased availability of “free” sex had some impact.  There’s an historical precedent: during the Victorian Era nearly every middle- or upper-class man saw whores occasionally, and there were many more of them; roughly 5.5% of the female population in a typical 19th-century European or American city worked in the trade at any given time, as opposed to less than 0.3% today.  But as more women entered the industrial workforce in the 1910s and 1920s and premarital sex became far more socially acceptable over the same period, both the number of prostitutes and the demand for their services began to drop to today’s unusually-low level.

Turning back to the article, we see it descend into the usual blather about business migrating to Backpage after the closure of Craigslist’s “erotic services” section, where we find this stunningly obtuse statement:

…But while the bulk of the business moved to Backpage, some of the listings that had appeared on Craigslist simply disappeared—strongly suggesting that Craigslist hadn’t merely picked up the listings that previously were in print or scattered around the Web, but had actually increased the size of the market…

The listings didn’t “disappear”; they simply moved back to the personals and personal services sections they inhabited before Craigslist was forced by the first wave of government interference to create the “erotic services” section in the first place.  But since that fact doesn’t fit the theory that the evil internet is tempting innocent women into harlotry, Maier’s Law demands it be ignored.

The rest of the article is mostly the usual lurid fluff; Gilderman pretends TER is the only escort review site, accuses Village Voice Media of only questioning “trafficking” hysteria in order to protect its profits, then quotes from two reluctant hookers (one of them Rachel Lloyd of GEMS) in order to ensure that the readers get the message that sex work is bad, and that “even part-time sex work with apparently harmless men can take its toll.”  That’s to be expected from a hack outfit like The Daily Beast, but I just wish there weren’t so many academic ignoramuses around to give them ammunition.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts