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Posts Tagged ‘psychology’

The enemy of my enemy is my friend.  –  Sanskrit proverb

So a couple of weeks ago, this item hit the internet:

…The sex industry should be fully decriminalised, the Westminster based Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) said in a new report.  The IEA argues that existing attempts to restrict prostitution are “ineffective, ill-informed and a waste public money”…The…report says rules that criminalise sellers directly, or criminalise third parties who supply them with services, simply push the sex industry underground, increasing the risks for sex workers.  “The very concept of prostitution is no longer workable in today’s fluid sexual markets, where anyone can meet anyone, on whatever terms they choose,” said report author Catherine Hakim.  “Decriminalisation is the only workable way forward. The proposal to copy Sweden and criminalise customers in the sex trade is a complete waste of public money, unforgiveable in a time of austerity”…

Catherine HakimOne would think this news would’ve been welcomed by activists; every additional voice calling for decriminalization not only adds to the chorus, but also increases the chance that any given politician will be in direct contact with one of those voices.  But was that what happened?  Nope.  Instead, I saw numerous voices declaring that the cause of sex worker rights “doesn’t need” this support because the IEA endorsed decriminalization for the “wrong reasons”.  You know, kind of like prostitution is criminalized because it’s sex for the “wrong reasons”.  But it wasn’t just one “wrong reason”; oh, no!  As I’ve explained before, neofeminists do not like Catherine Hakim, because she says things like this:

The report by the social scientist Catherine Hakim says that international surveys have demonstrated a large gap in sexual desire between men and women which “cannot be dismissed as an outdated patriarchal myth as argued by some feminists”.  Dr Hakim says the “sexual deficit” between men and women “helps to explain many puzzles, including why men are the principal customers for commercial sexual entertainments of all kinds…male demand for sexual entertainments…is…growing, and ineradicable”, she concludes.  She says the available evidence suggests that prostitution and pornography have no damaging social impact and may even help reduce sex crime.  Dr Hakim says: “Spain, where prostitution is legal, also has exceptionally low rates of rape”…

These statements should not be controversial to any whore, yet for some people common sense and personal experience are always trumped by “feminist” dogma, despite the fact that most people who adopt that self-identifier are our implacable enemies.

cliqueSex worker activists who care more about “feminist” nonsense than about our cause, or who think that we have the luxury of working only with would-be allies who can pass some sort of ideological purity test, need to get the hell out of sex worker rights activism; they are sleeping with the enemy and cannot be trusted to do what is necessary to advance our struggle.  This is a war, not a game; our enemies use tactics specifically intended to expose us to police violence and starve us to death if we manage to escape that.  They are perfectly willing to make whatever alliances are necessary to advance their cause, and to employ doomsday weapons that cause widespread collateral damage, yet some of the people on our side still treat this as a jolly game in which the identity of one’s playmates is far more important than the outcome.  If that’s the way you feel, please go home and find another cause; we need allies who will actually help us, not cliquish schoolgirls who want to turn down three-quarters of our potential allies because they’re boys, have cooties, wear unfashionable clothes or live in the wrong part of town.  Anyone who is willing to watch the bodies of her sisters continue to pile up because she’s too prissy to sit down at a table with people whose philosophies differ from hers is helping the prohibitionists, and that makes her a liability at best and an enemy at worst.  But anyone who speaks up for the decriminalization of sex work is the enemy of prohibitionists, and that makes her my friend and ally.

 

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Jae Q & A

cycle - EditedUnderstandably, people are asking all sorts of questions about Jae and the situation; I’ve decided to answer those I can.  Note that these answers reflect the information I have right now, and are therefore subject to change.

How did she wreck?

There were no witnesses, and people who are knocked unconscious in accidents are often unable to remember the accident itself afterward.  So we may never know what actually happened.  However, the state trooper who filed the report noted that she went off the inside of a curve, not the outside; she therefore did not lose control due to speed, and it seems likely that if she had been going excessively fast she would have been killed.  The theory we’re working with now is that some sudden event, like a deer or elk running out in front of her, caused her to swerve and wreck.

Where is she now?

In order to maintain her privacy, I’m not going to disclose the city or even the state.  It suffices to say that I’m a full day’s drive from Seattle.

How long will it take her to recover?

There’s no way of knowing that.  Yesterday she awakened several times, but only for about a minute each time; she was able to follow simple commands and seemed to recognize me, but was highly agitated, frightened and disoriented.  It seems likely that it will be weeks before she can be moved out of the ICU, and it could be much longer than that before she’s cleared to return to Seattle.  Full recovery could take years.

Can I come to visit?

The hospital’s rules do not allow unconscious ICU patients to receive any visitors other than partners and immediate family.  Until she is awake and can provide a list of who she would like to visit her, nobody other than her brother and I will be allowed in.  And honestly, you wouldn’t be able to do much visiting anyway because she isn’t conscious.

What’s a good time for me to call you to ask about her?

Though I very much appreciate everyone’s concern for our beloved Jae, I am only one woman and the sheer volume of calls and texts I’ve been receiving is overwhelming.  Dealing with the hospital staff, taking care of Jae and handling logistical issues take a surprising amount of time, and I’ve only barely been able to keep up with my work the past few days; even a few calls and texts beyond those I absolutely need to receive are just too much for me right now.  So please, if you want an update contact Mistress Matisse or Savannah Sly; I am keeping them fully apprised of all developments as they occur, so they’ll be able to tell you what’s going on as well as I could.  I’m also going to share the latest news via my blog and Twitter, and Matisse suggested I supplement that with a daily (or nearly so) Periscope broadcast; I’m going to try to start that tomorrow.

What can I do to help?

Frankly, the thing we need most right now is money.  Our amazing circle of friends, including (but by no means limited to) Matisse, Savannah and Abby May, has been the best ground crew I could hope for, and if they need anyone else’s help I’m sure they’ll ask.  But while I’m here I can’t work, and even after our return to Seattle there’s no way that Jae will be doing anything remunerative for a very, very long time.  So far everyone’s been astonishingly generous, but the need for support isn’t going to end in the next few days; the more we can collect, the better.  You can PayPal money directly to me if you like, but we’ve setup a GoFundMe page for Jae that will make that even easier (and will allow us to post updates as well).  Please be as generous as you can, and spread the word via social media.  Recovering from a serious accident can be an arduous and depressing ordeal, and I think the incredible outpouring of love and support Jae has received will help her not just financially, but emotionally; it will be very inspiring to her to see how many people love her and want her to be well.

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I just don’t get why an intelligent girl with a good family and  boyfriend would start to sell her body.  She was so honest and let me look for a few seconds into her soul, and I saw who she is and I don’t think she wants this.  I want to help her, but to her I was just another bad guy who paid for that and don’t deserve her respect.  I want to understand why is she doing this.

The Shadow 2-15-38Sell her body“?  Do you mean she started doing sex work?  You mean she chose an extremely lucrative job with shorter hours than most, extreme flexibility and no boss?  Sounds pretty damned intelligent to me; in fact, it’s the career I chose as well, and I’m generally considered to be reasonably intelligent.  Now, if you meant something more literal, like selling blood or eggs or some other part of her body, I stand corrected; however, something tells me that you just mean she became a whore.  She chose one job over the other options available to her, for the same sorts of pragmatic reasons anyone chooses his or her job over the others available at the time.

You say she “let you for a few seconds into her soul”; I’m not sure what sort of mystical or pharmaceutical process was involved there, but I can assure you that unless you are The Shadow or Dr. Strange or something, I sincerely doubt it was her soul you saw.  To be honest, it sounds to me what you were seeing was the constellation of your own needs you projected onto her.  You seem to have some sort of guilt (“I was another bad guy who paid for that”) about a simple business transaction, and you appear to load sex down with all sorts of Deep Meaning and metaphysical weight that it simply does not have, except in the minds of people conditioned from an early age to believe a load of rubbish about how something even dogs and chickens engage in is somehow a “sacrament” when highfalutin’ monkeys with notions do it.

You’re probably thinking about now that I’m an incredible bitch, and that I’m being very mean to you.  On the contrary; I’m doing you the great favor of trying to wake you up to the fact that sex is nothing more than a biological activity, and that the only “meaning” and “sacredness” it has is that which we choose to invest in it.  Eating can be a rich and wonderful bonding experience and the center of powerful rituals…or it can be a mundane thing one does because one is hungry.  And nobody pretends that the latter somehow “violates” or “degrades” the former, nor that there’s anything wrong with cooking or serving food for pay.  Nobody would say a waitress is “selling herself”, or pretend that a diner is “bad” for buying a hamburger.  And nobody, but nobody would pretend that there is some deep psychological motive behind a cook working as a cook, nor state that he could tell in a few seconds that said cook “really didn’t want to do this”.  Sex work is work, nothing more or less, and sex workers have the same range and complexity of feelings about it as other people have about their jobs.

(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.)

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I asked a close friend who isn’t a sex worker to be my safe call.  Initially she agreed, but now suddenly she said she doesn’t want to hear about it, because she disapproves of my work and does not want to support it in any way.  There’s no one else I trust enough, so I’m hurt and feeling let down by my friend.  We’ve always been honest with and accepting of one another before, so why is this different?

medieval torture devicesStigma is an awful thing; it tempts otherwise-good people to shun or mistreat the stigmatized individual, encourages the weak-minded to view her as subhuman, and provides an excuse for evil people to harm or even kill her.  Perhaps at some point in our evolutionary history, “othering” fulfilled some useful function by allowing a band of proto-humans to exile or kill an individual who somehow imperiled the others’ survival, but nowadays the capacity for disconnecting one’s empathy and seeing another as a thing rather than as a brother or sister human is a dangerous atavism exploited by rulers as a tool for persecution of despised minorities.  Once the hatemongers succeed in convincing the masses that some real or imaginary group – Jews, aboriginal people, black people, the mentally ill, immigrants, homosexuals, “addicts”, “witches”, sex workers, clients, “sex offenders”, etc – is a threat to Our Treasured Way of Life, the majority will support denying members of that group even the most elementary level of decent treatment.  Though we all carry this nasty ability to dehumanize other humans in our brains, it’s far nearer the surface in some individuals; they’re the ones who can always be counted on to turn in their neighbors and family members to the secret police or Inquisition.  I don’t think they’re necessarily bad people; they’re just extremely susceptible to suggestions that some individuals need to be ostracized or even “punished”, personal affection notwithstanding.

I suspect your friend may be one of those individuals; she has bought in to the lie that compensated sex is a Great Social Evil that Must Be Stopped (for the children!), and your willing participation in it marks you as a Them who doesn’t deserve to be treated with the basic consideration one gives one’s friends.  She may believe that she’s demonstrating “tough love” by denying you safety, in the hopes that you’ll be scared out of what she views as unhealthy or “bad” behavior (despite the fact that you aren’t her minor child); if you get killed it’ll serve you right and teach your ghost a lesson, by golly!

Obviously, you can’t trust this friend to help you; I think you have every right to feel hurt and let down, and I wouldn’t blame you if you decided her friendship was insincere.  But while you’re wrestling with that question (and believe me, I don’t envy you the struggle), you still have the practical concern of finding someone to monitor you while in session with clients.  Are you friendly with any sex workers online?  With modern technology there’s no real need for the two of you to be in the same city; after all, she wouldn’t go to investigate in person if you failed to call in, now would she?  A lady in the UK, US, Australia or any other place could call for help just as easily as one in your own country, provided she was supplied with whatever emergency numbers you feel necessary.  And you could even perform the same service for her in return.

(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.)

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“Grandpa worked really hard so that we can find out the most sensitive part of the penis” generally isn’t the sort of story family foundations want to tell.  –  Miro GudelskyLa Bodega Negra - Edited

Subtle Pimping

Another example of amateurs profiting from sex workers’ images while giving us nothing:

As Soho’s sex trade is destroyed, a twee pastiche is being created in its place. A sex-work themed theme-park…Across Soho, the bordello theme is a default.  You don’t have to stumble far to find décor suggestive of dimly lit backrooms and women of the night; a fantasy, filmic version of the sex trade.  Marketers aren’t afraid to use the trope for all its worth…As the reality of sex work in Soho disappears, its essence has become a marketing tool.  Brothel chic.  A Disneyland version of what was for many, a life, work – a world that wasn’t particularly exotic or glamorous but simply the thing they did for a certain number of hours a week to pay the bills…

Perquisites

Only in the US could the idea that men like to look at pretty girls while they relax be represented as strange or even bad:

In a city that’s being gentrified by the engineers and startup employees, the Gold Club is perhaps the most outré illustration of San Francisco’s recent excesses, a place where curious crowds come for the cheap fare and stay for the alcohol and extracurriculars.  It is also an example of how tone deaf many in the male-dominated tech industry can be.  In recent years, critics have called out technology companies for their workforces’ gender imbalances, which some argue foster a boys’ club culture and sexual discrimination…

The Proper Study

Why there are few good studies on sex work:

…Even researchers…with adequate funding and support…may find that they’re not always taken very seriously because of the stigma still attached to sexuality…and…unlike colleagues in other fields, sex researchers are often forced to contend with assumptions that their professional interests reflect their personal habits.  Few assume that ornithologists harbor a secret wish to be birds, or that medical researchers are drawn to their field due to a history of illness, but sex therapists and researchers are frequently presumed to be incredibly adventurous in the bedroom…

Saving Them From Themselves

Some stories are so egregiously stupid I just can’t resist editorializing:

A 14-year-old boy in Nova Scotia has been sentenced to…probation…[re-education] and restricted internet access for possession of child pornography…[actually nude pictures of his same-age girlfriend]…the boy…will also have to provide a DNA sample and [the state will steal] his smartphone…[Judge] Atwood laid out his decision to [pretend that] the crime [was] a violent one.  He said…that even if…sexting [hurts no one, prudes imagine]…that some day, there will be a [mysterious and indefinable] psychological impact…

First They Came for the Hookers…

If prohibitionists really want to “rescue” sex workers, why do they keep trying to stop us from getting other jobs?

…Miami police officer Sabine Raymonvil…does not deny that she used to work in the porn industry [but]…her work in porn films was completed prior to her becoming a police officer…the requirements to work for the Miami Police Department don’t specifically state anything against porn…[but] she may be terminated because of “conduct unbecoming” an officer…

I don’t really want to think too hard about why someone would leave honest sex work to become a pig, but there you are.Sex Slaves MSNBC

Marching Up Their Own Arses (#349)

How many of these must we endure?

Several organizations that advocate on behalf of both sex workers and survivors of trafficking have written a letter to MSNBC, urging them to cancel Sex Slaves in America, saying it…misleads the viewing public about the realities of both sex work and trafficking…The letter, which you can read in full here, is signed by the Sex Workers Project, the New York Anti-Trafficking Network, Freedom Network, Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive, and Florrie Burke, a longtime human rights advocate…they’re particularly concerned with the way it seems to conflate sex work and human trafficking, and that it could compromise the anonymity of the women it films…In 2013, amid protests and another sternly-worded letter from the same organizations, MSNBC cancelled a program called Slave Hunter, in which a guy named Aaron Cohen claimed to rescue victims of trafficking…

Acting and Activism (#419)

Why is CNN so in love with the “sex trafficking” narrative and the empty-headed actresses who promote it?

Jada Pinkett Smith is helping to expose the ugly world of sex trafficking…The actress has teamed up with CNN for an hour-long special report…”Children for Sale: The Fight to End Human Trafficking” delves into the gritty underbelly of child sex slavery in America…Smith…traveled to Atlanta — a trafficking hot spot — to sit down with courageous survivors and come face to face with a trafficker…

Policing for Profit (#520) 

Presumption of innocence?  What’s that?

A D.C. Council member wants to take a page from Spokane, Washington, and several other cities and start impounding the cars of people suspected of soliciting prostitution.  Councilman Jack Evans…is calling this rights-infringing nonsense the “Honey, I lost the car” program.  As with the Spokane law, it wouldn’t matter whether the person is eventually convicted of any crime or not; if you look to some cops like you’re cruising for sex, that’s all the probable cause they need to snatch your vehicle…

The Pro-Rape Coalition (#555) 

If you thought good old-fashioned Moral Majoritarians were just going to concede Puritanism to fourth-wave feminists, think again…the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCSE)—a group founded in 1962 as Morality in Media (the name was changed this year)—is holding an anti-pornography summit…[which] features a who’s who of anti-sex-work, anti-science, and anti-free-speech zealots, along with the father of famous kidnapping victim Elizabeth Smart

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When I published “Empathy” three years ago this month, I was confronted in the comments by the dumbfounding realization that some otherwise-intelligent people do not understand that the protagonist of a story need not be good, morally-upright or even admirable in the author’s eyes; she is merely the person the story follows, not some moral exemplar.  Marilith is a courtesan on an Earth very different from the one we know, who has used her paranormal ability to excel in her profession and climb the social ladder.  This tale takes place three years after the first, and if you haven’t read that one yet I strongly suggest you do so before embarking on this one…but do yourself a favor and skip the comments.  You’ll be glad you did.

decanterMarilith’s guest was ten minutes late, and even the aftereffects of the laudanum could not calm her agitation.  It was not the disruption to her schedule that upset her so; Prince Jamal was her only client scheduled for the day, nor were any set for the next.  The disquiet was at least partly due to the empathic focus she was struggling to maintain in the face of nearer, stronger voices, but the rest of it…

“Mistress, please,” begged her handmaiden; “let me bring you something to calm you.  I have never seen you in such a state.”

“No!” snapped Marilith.  “It’s too late for that, Cynthia; he’s long overdue already, and I’ll need all my willpower for this.  I’ve done all I can do, and now all that remains is to wait.”  As if in punctuation to her sentence, the soft gong which signified a new arrival on the landing stage sounded in the antechamber.  And yet Cynthia hesitated with uncharacteristic inefficiency until her mistress ordered her to go.

The trip to the roof and back was not a long one, yet today it seemed interminable; by the time the Prince was announced, his hostess felt as though she was about to scream.  But luckily for her, the emotional communication enabled by her psychic gift was unidirectional; he had no idea of the turmoil which raged behind her penetrating purple eyes and her soft, enigmatic smile.  “Welcome back, Your Highness.  It has been too long.”

“Lies do not become you, Marilith,” he said, and a wave of panic engulfed her; did he know what she was planning?  How could he have discovered…”You would be just as happy if you never saw me again, except for the fact that you would then be cheated of the ridiculous fee I pay you.”

“Your Highness does me an injustice; surely you don’t believe I could hide such unkind thoughts without wearing them on my visage.”

He laughed, an especially unpleasant laugh even by his standards.  “You must think me a very great fool, woman; even a common whore knows how to disguise her true feelings for the men who pay her, and you are no common whore.”

“As you say, My Lord.  But if you believe this of me, perhaps you should find another courtesan more to your liking.”

He pulled her up against him, and the wave of anger and hatred which engulfed her almost drowned her doubts and fears.  “I would, if there were another fit to wash your feet,” he said in a tone which weirdly mingled resentment with admiration; “besides, you know very well I couldn’t trust anyone else.”

“So you have said, My Lord,” she said, suppressing a shudder as his right hand moved down from her waist, “but I fail to comprehend what makes me especially trustworthy.  I can sense your feelings, not the other way around.”

“You do more than just sense feelings, witch,” he spat; “they become a part of you and overwhelm your own.  I had prepared quite a dossier on you ere I approached you the first time; my advisors feel you would be incapable of violence because your victim’s terror would overwhelm you.”

“That is true, My Lord,” she whispered in his ear, “but I am not the only one here.”

weaponized nailsThough she had experienced it many times, Marilith never failed to be astonished by the incredible silence with which Cynthia could move when necessary.  And though she had been fully apprised of her attendant’s capabilities before she even purchased her, the reality was more terrifying than she could have dreamed.  Two extra pairs of arms shot forth from her gown with the speed of striking cobras; six sets of razor-sharp fingernails glinted like gems for only an instant before they were coated in blood; thirty powerful digits ripped out the princely entrails with the ease and energy of a child scattering shredded paper from the interior of an eagerly-awaited package.  And Marilith was not sure if she would ever stop screaming, much less sleep again.  She drew her ornate dagger and plunged it into her servant’s body over and over and over again; for her part Cynthia quietly accepted the attack, each wound closing instantly as though the blade had been plunged into water rather than flesh.  And when the hysterical girl finally collapsed into wracking sobs and let the blade drop from her nerveless fingers, the dispassionate handmaiden gathered her up as gently as one might handle a sleeping kitten, and bore her toward the bath after stepping through the gore that had until recently been a human being.

Once she had pressed the prepared wine to her mistress’ lips, bathed her tenderly and tucked her exhausted body into bed, Cynthia returned to scrub the carnage from the other room; she was unsurprised to find another man waiting there, surveying the scene with satisfaction.  “So it’s done?” he asked unnecessarily.

“As you see, Your Highness.  My mistress’ plan worked perfectly; she was able to remain focused on your emotions and thereby exclude Prince Jamal’s, at least until I could strike.  The kinsman who so troubled you is no more.”

“Good, very good.  And my other operatives have informed me that all of his precautions have been foiled; he will not return this time.”

“Forgive my boldness, Your Highness, but are you absolutely certain there is no chance my mistress will be implicated in this?”

“None whatever.  Once you physically clean the area with the fluids you have been provided, my people will arrive  before morning to remove the more intangible residues.  If the investigators come here at all – which I doubt – they will find nothing.”

“She has done you a great favor this evening, Mighty One.”

“I am aware of that, Cynthia, and she will be handsomely rewarded as we agreed.”

“You know that she will never be the same again.”

“Indeed she will not; her patent of nobility is already in process, and once that’s done it will be a small matter to negotiate an advantageous marriage for her.”

“Thank you, Your Highness.”  Before she rose from the deep bow, the lifelike image had faded from view.  And as she began the arduous process of cleaning, Cynthia thought to herself that though it might be disrespectful, she was very glad indeed that she was not human.

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Criticism is an indirect form of self-boasting.  –  Emmet Fox

I find it very difficult to wrap my brain around the thought processes of some people.  As we go through life we interact with others, and make hundreds of decisions every day regarding those interactions; sometimes we make errors in judgment due to ignorance of a situation, or misinterpret another’s feelings and thereby inadvertently cause offense, or foolishly believe a person will react one way when a little insight into his or her personality would’ve predicted a very different reaction (this is especially true when the people involved are of the opposite sex).  But every once in a while someone does something so clearly wrong, so obviously rude and so predictably off-putting that one has to wonder if he might not have been under the influence of some potent psychoactive drug at the time.

too many cooksMost of my readers are probably fair-to-middling cooks; some of you are probably bad or terrible cooks, and some good or excellent ones (any of you who happen to be professional chefs will have to imagine another skill, say illustration, in the place of cooking).  Now, consider a circumstance wherein you meet a woman who’s an excellent cook.  She has a small restaurant where she has served literally millions of satisfied customers over the years, and is often paid to cater at events; she is widely admired for her cooking skills, has often been asked (and even paid) to critique others’ cooking, and takes justifiable pride in her abilities.  Her style, however, does not adhere to current culinary fads; it’s a little old-fashioned and is too complex and highly-spiced for some people, and some dieters feel her portions are too large.  Perhaps you’ve encountered her restaurant for the first time, or perhaps you’ve been eating there several times a week for months or years, but at some point you decide that either her preparation of one particular dish, or the way she prepared that dish on one particular day, or even the way she cooks in general, could be improved by some change you have in mind.  Now, you don’t own a restaurant; nobody has particularly praised your cooking lately, and even the cooking you do practice is of a different culinary tradition.  Do you:

A) Continue to enjoy her food, which really is very good despite the aspect you don’t like;
B) Enjoy the food, but fantasize about how much better it would be if she took your suggestions;
C) Stop going there, and find another restaurant you like better;
D) Ask to speak to her privately and offer your helpful amateur suggestions about how she could improve;
E) Same as D, but at the top of your lungs in front of a packed dining room at her restaurant.

If any of you seriously believe that either D or E is a good idea, and you’ve never been diagnosed as lying somewhere on the autism spectrum, I sincerely suggest you re-examine all of the recent instances in which you’ve mightily pissed someone off and just can’t understand why she should have been insulted.  What could possibly be wrong with her?  Doesn’t she get that you were just trying to be helpful?  Why can’t she humbly accept your wisdom in order to improve herself?  Why are all women so crazy?

And after that, you might want to reconsider that helpful email, comment or tweet you’re about to write me.

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