Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘prohibitionist myths’

I’m in love with an escort who has some very severe mental health issues; is it true that most escorts have such issues?

There’s no good evidence that sex workers (escort or otherwise) are any more likely to have mental health issues (and yes, that includes substance abuse issues or a history of childhood sexual molestation) than women in the general population.  That having been said, some women with mental health issues find sex work a good fit for the simple & practical reason that it’s both flexible and lucrative.  The high hourly rate means that even a woman going through a bad spell with her mental health can usually keep going for long enough to see a gent, make a few hundred bucks, and then do self-care the rest of the day.  No boss breathing down her neck, no arbitrarily-limited number of sick days, no busybodies micromanaging her time, no having to stay in one place for eight hours straight or else, and no production quotas except what’s necessary to get the bills paid.  So while prohibitionists want you to believe that sex work is a symptom or product of mental illness, the actual truth is that it can in some cases be a tool for managing it.  In other words, it’s a lot more like therapy than it is etiology; we don’t look at therapy as a “symptom” of mental health issues, and sex work isn’t one either.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

Read Full Post »

Today people can’t wait to participate in their own surveillance.
–  Mike Spinney

Moving Pictures 

When a headline asks a question, the answer is nearly always “no”:

…the thriller Traffik…has a horrifying story that revolves around the sex trafficking industry, as it follows an innocent couple who become caught up in a human trafficking ring…The film itself is not a true story, but it was inspired by true events.  The movie’s plot sees a couple…go on a road trip, where they run into a motorcycle gang at a gas station.  The gang have a woman with them who sneaks a cell phone into the [wife’s] purse…in the bathroom.  This leads to the gang, who are connected to a sex trafficking ring, to track down the phone and terrorize the innocent couple.  This event itself is entirely fictional…but the filmmaker drew inspiration from [what he falsely claims are] real life sex trafficking incidents near his home in Northern California

Checklist (#562)

Now you can be a useful idiot and violate strangers’ consent without even using a special app!

If you see someone who may be involved in human trafficking, report it by taking a picture and texting it to 909-ALERT-US (909-253-7887).  Our…face recognition software automatically searches images in online escort ads for the photos provided.  [If a match is identified, local vice squad will be notified]…

It searches online escort ads.  Exclusively.  So much for any pretense that this is abut anything other than persecuting sex workers.

To Molest and Rape 

Anyone surprised by this hasn’t been paying attention:

Authorities have arrested a former [cop] who is suspected of being one of California’s most prolific serial killers and rapists — the Golden State Killer…In the 40 years since the Original Night Stalker began his campaign of terror in Sacramento and moved south through the Bay Area and Santa Barbara and Orange counties, he had remained unidentified [due to his knowledge of police procedure].  Authorities say the attacker, also dubbed the East Area rapist and the Golden State Killer, is responsible for 12 killings, 45 rapes and more than 120 residential burglaries from 1976 to 1986…72-year-old…Joseph James DeAngelo Jr., has been charged by prosecutors…with eight counts of murder.  He is being held without bail…The suspect was a police officer in Auburn during the 1970s but was fired after he was accused of shoplifting…He is suspected of committing some crimes while he was still on the force…

There is one terrifying detail this story omits:

For decades…the DNA of the “Golden State Killer” sat in evidence storage…Whoever the killer was, he apparently was not one of the millions of convicts, offenders and arrestees in the FBI’s national DNA database…police announced that they had…identified Joseph James DeAngelo as the Golden State Killer suspect using an ingenious technique that thrills law enforcement officials and disturbs privacy advocates…they checked the crime scene DNA against one of the genealogy sites that have lately become popular — databases filled with the profiles of people who have volunteered their genetic codes in the hope of discovering their relatives and ancestors…The suspected Golden State Killer was not in this database, either, but it didn’t matter.  A distant relative of his was…and that person’s DNA partially matched evidence related to the serial killer.  Instantly, the pool of suspects shrank from millions of people down to a single family.  Detectives then used traditional investigative techniques to narrow the family members down to one suspect…Familial DNA searches…[have] an 83 percent failure rate [according to] a 2014 British study…

The Widening Gyre (#718) 

Another result of moral panics: evil people using the hysteria to cover their evil:

A West Virginia [woman]…who…claimed her 3-year-old daughter was abducted by sex traffickers was convicted in her murder.  Lena Marie Lunsford Conaway…was found guilty…on charges stemming from the 2011 disappearance of her daughter, Aliayah Lunsford…Her two older daughters reportedly testified that she beat the little girl over the head with a board then put her body in a clothes hamper.  They claimed the mom disposed of Aliayah’s body in a shallow grave in the woods.  The toddler’s remains were never found…

The Leading Players in the Field, Not (#752) 

A histrionic has-been, an opportunistic shyster and a bunch of C-listers and anti-sex loons:  this is who Gay, Inc chooses to side with against sex workers:

The Los Angeles-based Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking will honor Mira Sorvino, Kate Bosworth, Gloria Allred, Rosanna Arquette, Andra Day and others at the organization’s 20th annual gala…The [paradigm] of human trafficking [has become more popular] in the last couple of decades, and Los Angeles in particular has become a major hub for the [rescue] industry…

Against Their Will (#795) 

It’s good to see this getting more attention lately:

An increasing number of stories…highlight the ugly reality of rescue homes, which [are]…less about rehabilitation and more about forced confinement.  Doubts are now being raised whether [arrested] women and children…can indeed lead a protected life in these homes…

Unfortunately, it’s going to be an uphill climb; even this story about the abuses inflicted by the rescue industry still calls arrest & caging “rescue” and quotes the malignant sociopath Sunitha “100 clients a day” Krishnan, who runs a similar prison herself (a fact not mentioned in this story).

The Pygmalion Fallacy (#804) 

Though this is the least-stupid article about sex robots I’ve ever read that wasn’t written by me, the author still deeply underestimates the level of emotional contact many if not most men want from sex workers:

…I predict that historians of the development of artificial intelligence are going to see sexual gratification as one of the phenomenon’s great motivators.  Evolutionary psychology can give us insight into how sex robots are going to develop and the ramifications they’ll have on society.  Sexbots are usually woman-shaped gynoid machines…because heterosexual men drive the market for sexual products like prostitution and pornography.  Across cultures, men desire more sexual partners, need to know someone for less time before they want to have sex with them, and have lower standards for a sexual liaison than women…Men don’t get pregnant and don’t lactate, and they have smaller, easier-to-produce sex cells than women.  For a man, the cost of producing offspring is cheap…Women impose costs on men to gain sexual access for very good reasons…Pornography and prostitution are popular because they arrive at sexual end goals, or a reasonable facsimile, with more clarity and lower costs than in the mating market.  The complications of courtship are driving improvements in sexual substitutes, like masturbation aids…These substitutes aren’t very good, and yet they are already competing with flesh-and-blood companionship…

No, not really.  I can assure you that no Fleshlight Tina is “competition” for any man who can actually afford a sex worker.  This psychologist is arguing that “I like what I get” is the same thing as “I get what I like”.

Elephant in the Parlor (#825)

Naturally she’s doing this; she’s an intelligent woman:

Stormy Daniels is back in front of the cameras — on a porn set.  Touting what appears to be Daniels’ first released sex scenes since the money scandal  involving her and President Trump surfaced early this year, the porn site Brazzers teased graphic snippets online…They feature Daniels in the upcoming XXX video entitled Stormy’s Secret…

Scapegoats (#831) 

If you don’t understand what this is all about, try looking up “Napoleonic Code”:

In Louisiana, a proposal to strengthen the law against bestiality is facing unexpected opposition from conservative lawmakers who see it as an underhanded move to strike the state’s unconstitutional ban on sodomy.  Creating a new, wide-ranging anti-bestiality law would untangle the offense from the ban on sodomy in Louisiana’s “crime against nature ” statute, prompting some lawmakers to label the measure a sly chess move.  “This bill was written because the far left wants to undermine our other laws that protect family and traditional values”…said Sen. Ryan Gatti…one of 10 senators to vote against the bill…

Remember, this is a law struck down as unconstitutional 15 years ago.

Read Full Post »

FOSTA’s real purpose is making it easier to file lawsuits against online companies, while politicians pat themselves on the back.  –  Ron Wyden

A Procrustean Bed (#502)

A documentary glorifies the prohibitionist shitshow that is New York’s “sex trafficking court”:

…Judge Toko Serita…presides over Queens’s Human Trafficking Intervention Court…where she processes women who have been arrested on charges of prostitution…The women…are offered a choice:  Instead of [being given constitutional due process]…they can [submit to]…a set number of [brainwashing] sessions.  If, in six months, they have not been arrested again, the charges are dropped and the case is sealed…about 80 percent of the women take the [brainwashing] option…[less] than victims, Serita sees them first and foremost as…[objects to be processed.  Filmmaker Stephanie] Wang-Breal…says…in the film’s notes: “Who am I to say she doesn’t have agency, who am I to say what she should be doing with her life?” [and yet she glorifies this grotesque denial of women’s agency anyway]…

Nobody involved in producing this mess stopped to question the court’s assumption that human beings are mere objects to be “processed”.  You know, like in a food processor.

All Shapes and Sizes (#521)

This procedure has come a long way in only three years:

Doctors in the US have performed the world’s first complete penis and scrotum transplant on a former soldier who had his genitals blown off after stepping on a hidden bomb while on tour in the Middle East.  The 14-hour operation performed last month at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, was the most complex and extensive penis transplant ever attempted…The young [man]…received an entire penis, scrotum (without testicles), and partial abdominal wall from a deceased donor…It took a team of nine plastic surgeons and two urology surgeons…The surgery took place on March 26 and nearly a month on doctors seem confident of its success but will continue to monitor the patient’s recovery…

Shame, Shame (#649)

My friend Mark Bennett takes down Texas’ overbroad and mindlessly-draconian “revenge porn” law:

Mark Bennett, the Texas Tornado, took another law down for violating the First Amendment.  This time, it was…the so-called “revenge porn” law.  In Ex parte Jones, the 12th District Court of Appeals…held that the statute was facially unconstitutional.  As has been argued from the day Mary Anne Franks began her efforts to create a criminal revenge porn statute, it clearly implicated the First Amendment’s prohibition against laws infringing on free expression, to which she merely screamed her denials and did her best to deflect by creating a fantasy interpretation of the First Amendment…The State argues…relying upon Franks’ and Danielle Citron’s “legal” arguments…that [such images fall] within a new concept of obscenity, “contextually obscene”.  Except there is no such category outside of their imaginations, nor can anything be found obscene except by a jury…the court noted that the law failed to make any effort to narrow its prohibitions, which was a fundamental tenet of the Franks approach to criminalizing revenge porn lest anyone get away with it…

The Peril 

The hypocrisy of politicians sometimes defies belief:

Jack Johnson…became the first black heavyweight boxing champion after defeating Tommy Burns in Sydney, Australia, in 1908.  Two years later, he defended his title against boxer James J. “Jim” Jeffries, who…was referred to as the “great white hope” by racist…fans who wanted him to…take back the heavyweight crown for whites…Jeffries lost the fight…[but] what racism could not do to Johnson in the boxing ring, it found other ways to accomplish.  Johnson was convicted in 1913 of violating the Mann Act…the Justice Department…argued that Johnson’s relationship with a white woman was a “crime against nature”…criminalization of sex work in the US is rooted in racism, and modern campaigns do little to mask that lineage…The “white slavery” campaign of the early 1900’s…led directly to the enactment of the federal Mann Act, (a.k.a. the White Slave Traffic Act), in 1910.  “[O]nce prohibition of sex work was in place,” writer Maggie McNeill has noted, “it was enforced disproportionately against poor people and ethnic minorities, especially black people, just as all prohibitionist laws are.”  As Andrew Glass wrote for Politico, the first person prosecuted under the Mann Act…was Jack Johnson…That Donald Trump should look to a pardon for Johnson in the same month he signed…FOSTA…into law, is bitterly ironic…

Legal Is as Legal Does (#666) 

Lewis & her friends are naive fools; what they’re asking for is legalization & protectionism, and they’re not going to like it if they get it:

New Zealand sex workers are furious that foreign prostitutes who come on temporary visas can advertise their services here despite it being illegal for them to work.  High profile escort Lisa Lewis is one of several who have taken their complaints to Immigration New Zealand…calling for a harsher stance against migrant sex workers…She wants INZ to shift its focus from just deporting migrant sex workers to punish [advertising venues] that profit from helping the promotion of these illegal sex workers.  Lewis said the increase in number of foreign prostitutes coming over has hit local sex workers in the pocket…

Permanent Record

Note that other states have similar (if less broad) laws, and that the tendency toward such penalties is increasing:

Currently in both Maryland and Tennessee, a criminal past — or even just being accused of a crime — often stands between people and a job.  This is because many occupational licensing laws prevent ex-offenders from being able to obtain a license for the jobs they seek…these restrictions aren’t targeted at people whose criminal history relates to their desired career; instead, they can serve as blanket bans for those hoping to enter hundreds of professions including plumbing, cosmetology and interior design.  By prohibiting wide swaths of people from licensure, these boards aren’t protecting health and safety — they’re just making it more likely these individuals will remain unemployed and unable to support themselves or their families…in some cases, people need only to be accused of a crime — not even convicted of it — for the board to deny them a license.  Many of these bans are also permanent…In one instance in Tennessee…a woman convicted for prostitution over a decade ago learned she couldn’t become a radiation therapist…

I’m going to start using this heading for the many cases of people who lose their jobs due to a history of sex work; they currently appear under the overbroad “First They Came for the Hookers…”

All-Purpose Excuse (#794)

In this confused mess, a lawyer complains that anti-immigrant actions “hurt efforts to stop human trafficking”, even though “human trafficking” is a dysphemism used to demonize immigration:

If Trump truly cared about victims of human trafficking, he would put an end to his ongoing assault on immigrants.  Statistics on the number of victims of human trafficking are notoriously unreliable because of widespread [ov]erreporting…Since Trump assumed the presidency, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has used the fight against human trafficking as justification for its crackdown on undocumented immigrants.  ICE arrests have surged by more than 40 percent…[which] has aggravated the fear of coming forward among undocumented victims of human trafficking, undermining the U.S. government’s own efforts to tackle the problem…

In other words, “Trump’s crackdown on migration is interfering with existing attempts to prevent migration”.

Disaster

Here’s another article about FOSTA, which despite many good points expended so much effort in licking prohibitionist arseholes it nearly made me vomit.  Since there are plenty of good articles which denounce censorship and promote human rights without sucking the dick of power, there’s not a lot of reason to bother with this one; however, if you feel compelled you’ll see this “journalist” ceding ground to prohibitionists and otherwise making ignorant, unhelpful statements all over the place.  It starts in the lede, which proclaims that FOSTA was “a rare moment of bipartisan agreement”, a deeply stupid statements which ignores that the two main US parties have never disagreed on prohibition as a principle at any point in the past century, and that literally every single anti-sex work bill of the past two decades has had nearly-unanimous bipartisan support.  The article misstates the case against Backpage, repeats prohibitionist lies, characterizes third parties as “pimps & traffickers”, downplays the breadth of opposition to internet censorship with phrases like “some argue”, and even claims that “FOSTA was pitched with a very specific (and noble) goal in mind”; apparently author Kate Knibbs believes that censorship, denial of human rights, and negating the agency and consent of half a million women are “noble”.  I certainly don’t.

This Means War (#830) 

Megalomaniacal US rulers believe they have the right to disrupt the lives of millions all over the world:

Before New Zealand Cracker – a classifieds website used by sex workers – was shut down by the FBI, Wellington woman Sarah (not her real name) says she received at least five enquiries from clients each day.  Now, she is lucky to receive two a week through other advertising platforms.  “It has totally ruined our lives”…the FBI seiz[ure of]…Backpage.com…[has produced] a global and profound disruption of the sex work industry, including in countries like New Zealand, where prostitution is legal.  New Zealand Cracker was one of the many subsidiary sites Backpage.com hosted around the world.  For more than a decade it was at the heart of New Zealand’s sex work industry – offering businesses and sex workers a cheap, effective way of connecting with clients.  Its closure has, without warning, taken livelihoods away, leaving workers without the resources to operate their businesses or, in some cases, survive…

Read Full Post »

Because our political class believes in myths, not solid evidence, they keep creating policies directed at an imaginary bogeyman, not real criminals.  –  Jenny Heineman & Brooke Wagner

A Tale That Grew in the Telling 

A MILLION!!!!!

La Porte County [Indiana] Prosecutor John Espar [fed ludicrous propaganda to] local residents at First Baptist Church on human trafficking…He [lied that] the rate of sex crimes spiked between 1998 and 2007 with the growing popularity of Internet usage, which gave offenders access to children…to whom they did not have access previously…As many as one million children are exploited for commercial sex annually…children who become victims typically do so between the ages of 12 and 14…“So many of these (sex) workers, even if they’re not realizing it at this point in their lives, are still victims of exploitation”…

The Proper Study

Ric Curtis, who headed the Jon Jay study, is still debunking prohibitionist lies:

As they crack down on sex workers and pass outrageous new laws, our politicians and moral crusaders make some bold claims: Hundreds of thousands of children…at an average age of 13…is any of this true?…from 2012 to 2014, we spent nine months walking a [stroll] in Las Vegas…We handed out condoms and other harm-reduction material…The primary investigator, Ric Curtis, designed the study based on his experience collecting data from other “hard to reach” populations…The study had several teams collecting data in major cities across the US that had been dubbed as “hubs of sex trafficking”…after interviewing 949 people across 6 cities…[we found] the assumptions that inform government policy on sex workers are merely myths.  And those myths are easily disproved once you bother to get the data, which we did…In our subsample of youth under the age of 18…engaged in survival sex…24%…had a pimp…liberally defined as someone with whom the respondent shared their earnings…one young woman’s experience stood out as representative …Rena, who was 16 at the time of the interview, laughed when we asked if she had a pimp. She tipped her head toward one of her friends.  “That’s my pimp,” Rena giggled.  She was an 18-year-old woman who helped Rena use the internet to get clients and was herself engaged in survival sex. The two young women pooled their money together to meet their shared living expenses…Rena’s friend could be considered a sex trafficker under the current legal regime…

Droit du Seigneur 

Though pimps are not common, a disproportionate number of the ones who do  exist are cops:

Police are choosing to allow brothels to operate providing they create a safe environment for women, one former detective – now a brothel owner – has told the BBC…Despite it being illegal to operate a brothel in England and Wales – although not illegal to buy and sell sex – Karl says he has no moral qualms about breaking the law because he does not agree with it, and he says he is not exploiting the women who work for him…

The Widening Gyre 

New York is way behind cities like Seattle, Phoenix & Houston in promoting the hysteria:

Inside a handsome brick building on a tree-lined street near Brooklyn’s Prospect Park lay one of the city’s dirtiest secrets…two 16-year-old girls were allegedly being kept inside as sex slaves…the teens’ captors forced them to strip to their underwear, pose for Backpage.com ads and have sex with up to 10 johns a day…thousands of sex slaves being trafficked under the noses of New York City residents every day…[vice cop] Jim Klein [said]…“It’s modern-day slavery”…the average victim is…as young as 12…“One guy kept [a girl] in a dog cage because she wasn’t cooperating”…a…14-year-old…was found locked in a closet surrounded by pots of urine…

Original Sin

Welcome back to the 16th century:

Priests attending an annual exorcism conference in Rome are set to discuss whether pornography has a demonic influence.  Over 250 priests and theologians as well as criminologists and psychologists from 51 countries have gathered at the week-long Exorcism and Prayer of Liberation conference…attendees will discuss the prevalence of pornography in modern society, and consider if it is a “modern cultural phenomenon of an evil that harms people,” and to what extent it may have what he described as a demonic influence…

Imagination Pinned Down (#551)

Stereotypic conformation in progress:

Jessa Dillow Crisp has spent the better part of the last decade learning who she is…as a child victim of human trafficking.  Now, she works to help others who are or have been in the same situation.  She is co-founder and executive director of Bridgehope…As a child…in…Canada, Crisp was abused and sold into the sexual human trafficking sector by her family…she would eventually be sold to a circuit operating in the United States…“during the 2010 Winter Olympics, it was…sadistic pain and horrific evil.”  Clarksville Police Chief Mark Palmer said that he sees more sex trafficking in the way of consensual sex workers, not forced abusers…during large events like Thunder Over Louisville or the Kentucky Derby…her identity was also stripped away by her abusers, who controlled where she went, what she ate, how she sat, how she talked…Some of the signs are behavioral, like having a…phone, the connection to [a partner]…styles of dress that [busybodies claim] are way beyond their years…

Most professional “survivors” don’t last long; it’ll be interesting to see if this one graduates to including classic elements like brutal clients and being dragged behind a car.

Devil’s Advocate (#761) 

Your periodic reminder that a child-shaped toaster is still a toaster:

…in the United States, Rep. Dan Donovan…introduced legislation to ban [child-shaped sex] dolls, in a bill named Curbing Realistic Exploitative Electronic Pedophilic Robots, otherwise known as the CREEPER Act…some [actual experts] suggest…dolls could be used to deter the real-life fulfillment of pedophilic urges…[but politicians and other prohibitionists pretend human sexual impulses are learned and can be eliminated via threats of violence] Donovan [claims] “Once a child sex abuser tires of practicing on a doll, it’s a small step to move on to an innocent child…[puritans pretend] these dolls reinforce, normalize, and encourage pedophilic behavior”…

Elephant in the Parlor (#825)

Ken White explains the latest wrinkle in the Stormy Daniels case:

…Conventional wisdom is that federal courts are better for the defense and more likely to enforce arbitration agreements.  However, federal judges move faster and abide by deadlines and rules more closely, and are substantially less tolerant of bullshit than state judges.  If substantial portions of your defense are premised on bullshit and delay, don’t remove to federal court…the main issue is whether the nondisclosure agreement [is]…enforceable.  If [so]…Trump…could conceivably get a gag order against Clifford and get massive damages against her for breaching the confidentiality agreement, and could do so through a private arbitration proceeding instead of in public…

It’s complicated, so you’ll need to read the whole thing.

Disaster (#831)

Judging by the breadth of responses from all over the political map, FOSTA may have been a serious miscalculation on the part of the government:

The US’ latest attempt to silence sex workers…has begun to chill free speech across the internet.  A number of websites have had to either shut down or actively distance themselves from the notion that they support sex work. And the problem is only going to get worse as time goes on…It’s not just…adults-only websites and platforms that are now having to crack down on discussions of sex.  Microsoft and Google have moved to alter their terms of service…and…not even private discussions are safe…Microsoft…claim[ed] the right to examine your content…[and] Google is purging adult content from private Drive accounts…sex workers are attempting to protect themselves against the bill by building platforms beyond the reach of American authorities….Red Umbrella Hosting…offers judgment-free, anonymous and sex-worker-friendly hosting.  Then there is Switter…launched in response to FOSTA-SESTA and Twitter’s alleged shadowbanning practices.  In a few short weeks, it has already acquired nearly 23,000 followers…

But it didn’t take long for Switter to feel the government’s boot:

[Last] Wednesday,  Cloudflare terminated its content delivery network services for…the weeks-old Switter…Cloudflare has confirmed…that the company terminated service to Switter because of FOSTA, but also said it’s “a very bad law”…When [Switter] organizers…reached out to Cloudflare for explanation, they were met with a vague notice  that Switter violated the company’s Terms of Service…Switter moved to a new content delivery network and is still up, but Cloudflare’s decision to terminate service was jarring…Cloudflare, historically, has been a vocal supporter of the open internet…

And here’s a heads up from a confidential source: the sleazebags behind FOSTA are butthurt that everyone sees their tyranny for what it is and they’re preparing for a major PR offensive to convince people that censorship isn’t censorship.  The first of it started on Sunday.

Read Full Post »

Sex workers…are human beings who[se]…rights to health, safety, self-determination, and bodily autonomy should not be subject to debate or sacrifice to abstract principles.  –  Green Party proposal

If It Were Legal

I’m willing to bet this was either a findom arrangement or a blackmail fantasy:

The second in command of the Harris County [Texas] Treasurer’s Office is accused of stealing tens of thousands of dollars from a county credit union to pay a dominatrix who was blackmailing him.  Gregory Lueb was arrested…and charged with felony theft of up to $30,000…Lueb told investigators…the woman eventually demanded money and threatened to tell his wife…

If he’s telling the truth, and if sex work weren’t illegal and stigmatized, he could’ve gone to an established professional instead of some sleazy amateur.

The Punitive Mindset

The need to censor is one of the most twisted of perversions:

A federal judge is considering whether South Dakota’s statewide ban on porn in prisons is constitutional.  The case arose from an inmate, Charles Sisney, who says all sorts of non-pornographic content got caught up in porn prohibition, including a yoga magazine, images of Michaelangelo’s work, and Japanese comics. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of South Dakota and the National Coalition have filed briefs in support of Sisney’s case…the parameters of the ban go way beyond adult films, nude images, or other things that most people would consider to be porn.  Prisoners are banned from writing sexually explicit letters or receiving them, and from receiving any visual or written material that’s deemed sexually explicit…

Three Steps Back

In December 2010, New Orleans decided to de facto decriminalize marijuana and prostitution, then it changed its collective mind and recriminalized them.  We’re all familiar with what happened afterward with sex work, but two years ago the city actually went ahead and truly decriminalized weed, with the following results:

…newly released city statistics show that New Orleans police have taken the city’s cannabis decriminalization efforts seriously, and now make arrests in only 1% of minor cannabis incidents.  The New Orleans City Council passed an ordinance two years ago  decriminalizing minor cannabis possession, giving [cops] the discretion to ticket rather than arrest suspects found with small amounts of pot…NOPD has all but eliminated marijuana charges from their protocol, reducing the rate of possession-related arrests from 72% of all police and pot interactions in 2011-2014, to the newly released number of only 1% in the last half of 2016 and first half of 2017…last year saw 5,000 fewer cannabis-related arrests in New Orleans than took place half a decade ago…

And yet they can’t seem to grasp that decriminalizing sex work would have similar benefits.

Stand-Up Guys 

Shift in the Wind

It looks like the Greens are poised to become the second US political party (the Libertarians have held the position for decades) to adopt decriminalization as an official position.  The new position has apparently been approved by Alabama, Colorado, Illinois, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Utah, and by the party’s Black Caucus, Lavender Greens and Young Greens.  The explanation of the reasons for the change starts like this:

It is the opinion of the authors of this document that the party’s current stance on sex work…is morally indefensible, ideologically incoherent, and politically damaging.  The submitted revisions represent an effort to eliminate derogatory language, move the Green Party’s stated policy prescriptions away from carceral state solutions and more in line with the current thought of human rights groups such as Amnesty International, and…condemn…violence against women without condemning or negating the existence of individual sex workers…

Worse Than I Thought

Anti-whore assholes just keep getting bolder:

California Senate Bill 1204…sponsored by…Patricia Bates…is aimed at broadening the definition of “pandering” within the State of California…to [include anyone] “who arranges, causes, encourages, induces, persuades, or procures another person to be a prostitute”…What does “encourages” mean? If I say to my friend “hey you would make a great prostitute!” – have I just encouraged that person to be a prostitute and therefore I am guilty of the crime of pandering?  What about my free speech rights?  What if my friend who is a prostitute says, “gee I wish I could see a client today because I really need to feed my child/pay my rent but I cannot afford condoms” and I give that person condoms, have I encouraged the act of prostitution?  What if I as a lawyer – give advice to a prostitute…have I just committed pandering?…I would encourage you to contact Senator Patricia Bates office and encourage her to kill her own bill…

The Punitive Mindset (#688) 

Long-time readers know that I’ve been playing Dungeons & Dragons since 1981, and that it’s my all-time favorite game.  I’ve alluded to it many times and even written a few columns touching on it, and though I haven’t played in about 8 years now I’ve recently started thinking about starting up a new game for some friends.  So I quite enjoyed this long-form article about the game, its history and its long record of being attacked by authoritarians for promoting imagination and free thought.  I decided to list it under this category because the article includes a section on prison officials banning the game (because of course they would), which I reported on in the above-linked column.  But really, I just couldn’t pass up calling it to your attention at a time when most of the contents of this blog are darker than any imaginary dungeon, and the real world is dominated by far scarier monsters than any I ever made up for the heroes to defeat.

The Pygmalion Fallacy (#787) 

Yes, this is a supposedly sane adult arguing that toasters have “feelings” and can “suffer”, while classifying sex workers as subhuman:

Late in 2017 at a tech fair in Austria, a sex robot was “molested” repeatedly and left in a “filthy” state.  The robot, named Samantha, received a barrage of male attention, which resulted in her sustaining two broken fingers.  This incident confirms worries that the possibility of fully functioning sex robots raises both tantalising possibilities for human desire (by mirroring human/sex-worker relationships), as well as serious ethical questions …there are certain elements of relationships between humans and sex workers that we may not wish to repeat.  But to me, it is the ethical aspects of the way we think about human-robot desire that are particularly key…

Yes, moral retard Victoria Brooks there describes vandalism of a machine as “molestation” and waxes poetic about this object’s “suffering”, while twice in a short section referring to sex workers as things apart from humans.

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic (#792) 

Possibly the most pathetic of all things: a gay male prude:

…how Grindr is affecting gay men….doesn’t look good.  The most common reason users gave for going on the app is that sex feels great and Grindr makes it accessible, right at your fingertips…Neuroscientists have shown that orgasm causes activation of pleasure areas of the brain like the ventral tegmental area while deactivating areas involved with self-control.  And these patterns of activation in men are strikingly similar to what researchers see in the brain of individuals using heroin or cocaine.  So when a neutral action (clicking on Grindr) is paired with a pleasurable response in the brain (orgasm), humans learn to do that action over and over again.  This can be…a setup for addiction…

Disaster

It usually starts with us, but it never, ever stops with us:

…Sex workers are the canaries in the digital coal mine, and SESTA, if it isn’t fought and reversed, is a disaster for all kinds of online speech…It’s no surprise that a bill like this has manifested alongside the #MeToo movement — it challenges what it means to for sex workers to consent, and takes aim at the online speech that acts as evidence that we have…The ambiguously written bill creates what is in effect a special loophole to target the speech of sex workers within the sweeping legal protections given to online speech.  And because marginalized groups often act as Patient Zero for regressive new laws, it will be no surprise when this new approach to censorship eventually spreads across the internet…The difference between what sex workers and their advocates say — that trafficking is a relatively minor issue in their industry — and what anti-sex trafficking legislators believe reflects the country’s long held reluctance to believe women when they tell the truth, especially when it involves sex.  One place where that truth is told daily is the internet communities where sex workers reside in safety and solidarity, and SESTA is designed to break up these communities…

Read Full Post »

Today is Friday the 13th, when I ask non-sex workers to stand up for us.  So when Stacey Swimme, one of the founders of SWOP-USA, started discussing this on Twitter a few days ago, I asked her to elaborate for this column.  This is the result.

Come out only to the people you know, and who know you, not to anyone else…Once they realize that we are indeed their children and we are indeed everywhere- every myth, every lie, every innuendo will be destroyed once and for all…. And when you do, you will feel so much better.  –  Harvey Milk, 1978

When I told my mom in 2008 that I was an escort, she was accepting, but she told me it’s not something she wants me to discuss with other family members.  I agreed, but later when I joined Facebook for a brief period, my personal and activism lives collided.  Any one of my extended family members could see my posts about International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, posts vehemently opposing the censorship of the Craigslist Erotic Services section, and if they chose to, they could read through commentary left on posts by me and my sex work friends.  I’m sure they have gossiped about it over the years, but nobody ever says anything to me about it.

It’s a strange sort of in-between place for me.  “Everyone” in my life knows that I’m a sex worker.  I am “accepted” by my family in a way that I can appreciate, but I don’t call them allies.  There’s no talk of disowning me, no exclusion of me or my son or my intimate partners from family occasions, but they won’t voluntarily make it known that someone they love is a sex worker.  It’s just another weird thing I do that they don’t understand and don’t want to understand, but they love me anyway.  I’m generally at peace with how this has played out with my family.  I have a compartment in life where I can keep feelings, priorities and responsibilities associated with my birth family neatly tucked away to pull out for holidays and birthdays.  Then I have a larger compartment, a space preserved for my Found Family, the people I get to share my full identity with.  This doesn’t mean that while we are together I am constantly in “sex work mode”; it’s more that these people don’t need me to suppress any part of my identity in order to keep them comfortable.

Prohibition forces most of us to keep our activities and our whereabouts a secret from those who care for us the most.  That secrecy makes sex workers more vulnerable to abuse; opportunistic predators seek out victims who are least likely to be reported missing by loved ones.  The fear our loved ones have of shame-by-association is an asset to those who aim to harm us- predators and politicians alike.  The Green River Killer said he targeted sex workers because “….they were easy to pick up without being noticed.  I knew they would not be reported missing right away and might never be reported missing.  I picked prostitutes because I thought I could kill as many of them as I wanted without getting caught.”  Sex workers need the world to know that we have people who care about us in our lives, in our communities, in our families.  Below is a micro-Call-To-Action for different communities who intersect with sex workers.  Find your own way; there’s something small and meaningful you can do for the sex worker in your life, something you can do within your own comfort zone.  No matter who you are, if you care about sex workers, please start with educating yourself.  There’s been plenty of writing on how to be an ally to sex workers.  This article from psychologist Marijke Vonk covers essential tips for allies plus links to even more resources for you; also go over to Black Girl Dangerous for a piece on allyship written by a sex worker.

Micro-Call to Actions:

Parents of sex workers:  Tell your child that you love them, no matter who finds out what they do; bonus points if you attend a sex work community event with them.  Get to know the area of their life that they traditionally hide from you; you’ll be relieved to find that the people you meet are just ordinary humans with an extraordinary job- and your child is not the one sane, stable exception in an industry reputed to be unsavory.

Partners of sex workers:  Support each other!  Yes, I’m sure you were expecting me to say, “go talk to media” or “post on social media” or “reveal to your parents that your partner is a sex worker.”  And yes, I do want you to do every single one of those things.  However, I don’t believe that you all, at this time, collectively have enough support, information and expertise to minimize the harms and maximize the benefits of coming out as a partner.  Please get there.  Figure it out, folks.  This needs to be peer-led; you all need each other.  Maybe a live twitter discussion by and for partners to kick it off?  Start with something small and achievable.

Friends of sex workers:  In recent weeks my friends have done some amazing things!  Several have made bold statements in support of sex worker rights on social media for all of their friends and family to see.  One friend of mine asked how she and her husband can help sex workers right now, so I sent her over to Red Light Legal to sponsor legal research for sex workers impacted by record seizures at BackPage and other ad sites.  Yes!  Married feminists can be allies to sex workers!  Donate if you can, make calls to lawmakers when we ask for it, correct misinformation when you hear it within your social networks.

Clients of sex workers:  Be good clients.  Donate to funds that support the most marginalized workers in the aftermath of FOSTA/SESTA.  If you are wealthy and can make a substantial contribution, do it!  If you’re paranoid about your financial statements showing something sex work related, give to SWOP Behind Bars or Desiree Alliance because their fiscal sponsors’ totally un-sexy name will appear on your statements.

Cannabis Industry:  It is time to retire the strain name “Jack The Ripper”.  This is insulting because it reveres a name that is infamous due to the brutal murders of sex workers in London.  It does not give due reverence to the long struggle of cannabis legalization and the healing properties of this wonderful plant.  In 2009, I pointed this out to a dispensary operator in San Fernando Valley; he said, “You’re right, I’m sorry to offend, I’ll change the name and let me hook you up with a free eighth, I didn’t mean to offend you ma’am.”  Boom!  Ally in action.  Nine years later, I have a new Call To Action for California’s cannabis industry:  Let’s collectively change the name of the Jack the Ripper strain to Jacq The Stripper, a true hero who deserves to have her name glorified in weed.  Also- hire sex workers for legal cannabis jobs!  As the legal cannabis industry booms, prison mongers are moving to recover lost profits by increasing legal penalties against sex workers.  It’s not a coincidence.

There are dozens of ways to actively support the sex worker in your life.  Ask your loved one what they need as an individual.  Be there for them first, then look at how you can support our community as a whole.  The next opportunity to both educate yourself and help us raise awareness is June 2, 2018 for International Whore’s Day; follow Survivors Against SESTA for organizing updates.  Sex workers have struggled for decades to build the peer-led resources, safety networks and community spaces that reduce the harms we face.  These resources are now under direct attack by policy-makers, law enforcement and misinformed advocates who believe that eliminating our safety resources will make sex work disappear from the world.  We will not disappear, but we need our allies to ensure that we are not silenced and excluded.  Please stand with us so we are not alone in this fight.

Read Full Post »

 It’s not a human thing to do—just take this entire community and completely strip them of safe places to…work.  –  Wills de Vogelaere

Banishment

Because obviously his sex rays might harm sick children:

…at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin…staff prevented Stuart Yates, a 49-year-old man on the sex offender registry, from visiting his severely ill son Kahlil, age 9, who was crying and begging him to visit…”In 1998, Yates pleaded guilty to…inappropriately touch[ing] a 15-year-old babysitter…Yates says he took a plea in the case, thinking he would serve six months in prison.  Instead, a judge handed down a five-year sentence….[and registration] as a sex offender for life…Yates is now suing the hospital to be let back inside“…In the face of a lawsuit, the hospital relented in part, and will permit Yates to visit three times a week, for two hours, under supervision.  But the visits must be approved 24 hours in advance, meaning that if the boy wakes up feverish or…takes a turn for the worse, his dad will not be able to hurry to his side…

Backwards into the Future (#540)

Only the authoritarian mind is so twisted it thinks decriminalization of consensual sex is “complicated”:

Vietnamese officials have expressed their concerns about the complicated nature of recognizing prostitution as a job…figures from the International Labor Organization (ILO) suggest that there are nearly 101,300 sex workers…in Vietnam…“Sex workers should have the right to make a living, contribute to society, and enjoy welfare in terms of healthcare and education,” said Cao Van Thanh, vice head of the Social Evil Prevention Department…at a recent meeting in Hanoi…Tran Van Dat, vice head of the Department of General Affairs on Legislative Development…said prostitution should be considered a legitimate profession…

Though they’re commies and therefore need to bloviate about disease and “regulation”, it’s still startling how much more enlightened these politicians’ views are than those in the backward US.

Uncommon Sense (#602)

Once again, myths and agency denial convince Switzerland to narrow the bottleneck for legal sex work:

FIZ, a Swiss NGO specialising in…women’s migration issues…thought that it was very important…that people actually talk about…severe forms of exploitation…the human trafficking framework…has negative effects on other groups of migrant women, and…has turned out to be a framework that is actually a lot about controlling the movement of migrant women, controlling the work of migrant women.  We see this very clearly with sex workers…

Spotlight (#721) 

Asstoon says he’s not just a savior, but an actual messiah:

I have a hard time talking about this issue without being emotional…If you don’t do something about it, then who are you?  It can happen to anyone…Traffickers prey on people…If you look at the place where these [passive, agency-less vegetables] are sold online, its right next to a car, or a sofa or a used bicycle…We basically take a victim, that otherwise is just a posting online, and we turn them into a human being…

Yes, that’s Kutcher claiming to be a literal god who can turn an inanimate object into a human being.

To Molest and Rape (#794)

It’s even easier to get away with rape when you’re literally in bed with the prosecutor:

A Brooklyn prosecutor was caught having an affair with one of the NYPD cops [who raped] a handcuffed teenager…Assistant District Attorney Nicole Manini…is under investigation for potentially violating professional conduct rules…Manini’s illicit relationship with [rapist cop] Richard Hall…was uncovered when investigators with her office reviewed his cellphone records as part of the rape case…Michael David, the lawyer representing Hall’s [victim], said he plans to use the…affair…in his client’s pending civil rights suit against Hall, [rapist cop Eddie] Martins and the city…

The Scarlet Letter (#798)

Who needs the cops to out HIV+ people when dating apps can do it for them?

The gay dating app Grindr says it will stop sharing the HIV status of its users with other companies.  Grindr made the decision…after first defending the practice, which involved sending user profile information — including HIV status and test dates — to two companies called Apptimize and Localytics.  They test the performance of Grindr’s products…

Prudesville (#816) 

Everett expands its argument beyond “women who dress like sluts are asking to be raped”:

After a federal judge ruled against the city of Everett for banning “bikini baristas” from wearing G-strings and pasties, Everett has decided to continue fighting against baristas’ partial nudity…city attorneys stress—while trying to support a ban on butt cleavage—how easy it is to understand the terms of Everett’s ban on “bottom one half of the anal cleft” and “more than one-half of the part of the female breast located below the top of the areola.”  One of the reasons Judge Marsha Pechman blocked the ban was because she ruled those rules were too vague to stand up in court.  She indicated that the argument that the ban limited freedom of expression on the basis of gender was also likely to succeed…

Disaster

Sex workers set up our own social network, just in case we’re censored from Twitter:

…a group of sex workers have apparently attempted to set up their own social network, called Switter.  It’s a Mastodon Instance (Mastodon being the fairly well known open source decentralized social networking platform that allows anyone to set up an individual “instance”)…The stated reasons for Switter are to prepare for the possibility of Twitter banning accounts of sex workers and to have more control over their social media space.  As I write this, the site claims to have about 12,000 signed up users…

And we’re not just fighting a defensive war this time:

Upstart blockchain-based adult outfit, SpankChain, launched an offensive…dubbed “WTFOSTA,” calling for sex workers to expose any politician who’s procured their services and subsequently voted in favor of the recently passed SESTA/FOSTA measure criminalizing web platforms deemed to foster sex trafficking.  The specific bid to the sex worker community, as posted on official campaign site wtfosta.com, is as follows: “We are offering $25,000 to each of the first 10 sex workers who come forward with hard evidence of any politician who voted YES on FOSTA/SESTA engaging their services”…

Cops and Robbers (#823)

Honest headline: “NYPD Creeps Threaten Lonely Men”:

…NYPD [pigs get their jollies]…by planting fake ads and sending [threatening] texts to those looking [for human companionship]…Police have posted phony listings on sites like Backpage.com for years, but always waited until the [victim] showed up and then arrested him. “Advertisements are posted by the NYPD and you won’t know which ads are from us” the [threat lies]…

Actually, it’s extremely easy for men to know which ads are real and which are pig swill: women in real ads will have an established online presence.  Just Google the name, email address, phone number, etc; if there are no other hits on an escort site, other ad sites, Twitter, etc, you’re probably looking at a pig trap.

Elephant in the Parlor (#825) 

Unfortunately, in our post-factual era this doesn’t help as much as it once did:

As Trump’s presidency drags on — having blown past tarnished and into deep, dark ignominy — receipts have become vitally important…Karen McDougal kept receipts.  The former Playboy model’s handwritten notes chronicle an alleged affair in 2006.  These non-coy notes —”we got naked + had sex” — were published in the New Yorker.  A White House rebuttal —”more fake news“— crashed on the shoals of receipts.  Stormy Daniels kept receipts.  The adult-film actress has a copy of the nondisclosure agreement that she signed, and Trump didn’t, requiring her to keep silent about her alleged Trump tryst, on pain of larcenous fines…Nastya Rybka, a Belarussian escort, also kept receipts……she…claims to have audio receipts that show Russian meddling in the U.S. election.  She’s seeking asylum in the U.S. in return for telling all…

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »