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Posts Tagged ‘sex work is work’

Why is it only that sex workers should be the ones to have a skill set but give services away for free?  –  Phoenix Calida

Anatomy of a Boondoggle 

Truthful headline: “Police Pay Man to Rape Immigrant Women”:

A[n Ohio] woman was arrested [after cops paid someone to violate her at her]…massage parlor…Ping Wei, 53…[was victimized and accused without tangible evidence by a so-called] confidential informant…

Feminine Pragmatism 

One day, “People have to work to make money” will be recognized as the non-news it is:

Increasing numbers of women in low-paid jobs who have children are being forced to [find more remunerative work] to survive…[demand for one flexible work-from-home job] has risen by 29 per cent in the past year alone…[but] women [a]re now having to work longer hours for less money due to the market…becoming increasingly saturated…

Buried Truth

Yet another example of the McNeill Rule:

…Tennessee [politician] Bill Sanderson resigned…[after] Grindr messages and nude photos…exposed the fact that he’s a closeted hypocrite with a gay son who has voted against every LGBTQ issue that has come before him…He has [also] been a co-sponsor of some of the most extreme anti-abortion legislation, including this year’s heartbill bill…Sanderson has voted against…bills that would have given access to bathrooms to trans students, blasted the SCOTUS marriage ruling, voted to support allowing adoption agencies to discriminate against gay couples, supported a bill allowing therapists to discriminate against gay people, and voted agaisnt allowing municipalities in Tennessee to enact LGBT nondiscrimination ordinances…in his 2013 Grindr profile, which could be seen by anyone using the app, he writes…“I really haven’t had a connection with a guy and I have a burning desire to have that relationship. I like down and dirty guy to guy play too! So, I guess you might say, nothing will be held back …” (Sanderson says he did not write this)

Torture Chamber 

Our government refers to this as “correction”:

Jarrett Leaman…is…a typical college student…[whose] only prior involvement with police is two speeding tickets.  On June 29, he was arrested for public drunkenness…the next thing he remembers is waking up in a jail cell at 5 a.m., covered in blood, bumps, and bruises…[while he was passed-out drunk, multiple screws and one pig] pummeled [him] to the ground, face down on the cement floor…[attorney Leticia] Chavez-Freed…saw it on video…as part of a [so-called] internal investigation…“They put him into a chair. They strap him in. His hands are behind his back and, again, the kicking, the hitting”…at least five [screws] and one [pig] participated in the beating…a spit mask was also placed on Leaman’s head, even though he was barely conscious…at one point…the [pig]…and [one of the screws] lifted the mask from Leaman’s head to take a picture of his injuries like a “hunting trophy”…

New Excuse

Sometimes the War on Whores is the War on Drugs rather than its successor:

[Politician] Sherrod Brown…reintroduced a [US Senate] bill that would officially [conflate selling]…drugs [with] human trafficking, thereby making it easier to [load extra charges onto young black men that cops or] prosecut[ors wish to target]…”Ohioans are bought and sold in our own backyards”…[Brown idiotically bloviated while making furtive movements in his pants pockets.]  Brown’s bill, called the Protect Act, would officially list drug addiction as a method of coercing someone into either commercial sexual acts or other forced labor against their will…

A Moral Cancer (#583)

No, you can’t “save the planet” by going vegan:

…some activists are propagating the idea that everyone on the planet should go vegetarian or even vegan…The former head of the United Nations’ climate change organization, for example, suggested that meat-eaters should be made to feel like pariahs…[such rhetoric] blithely ignores the reality that…we can’t stop temperature rises with our diets…A systematic peer-review of studies of going vegetarian shows that a non-meat diet will likely reduce an individual’s emissions by…just 4.3%…In a first world setting, the reality is that [your share of corporate pollution]…means [lifelong veganism would] reduce your emissions by about 2%, according to a study of the environmental impact of Swedish vegetarians…

Also: veganism does not reduce animal deaths and environmental damage; it increases them.

Between the Ears (#858)

Any internet-connected device can be used to spy on you:

Apple’s Siri AI assistant sends audio of sexual encounters, embarrassing medical information, drug deals, and other private moments recorded without users’ knowledge to human “graders” for evaluation, a whistleblower has revealed…contractors around the world…grade the AI based on the quality of its response and whether its activation was deliberate…accidental activations are much more frequent than Apple lets on, especially with Apple Watch users…In what sounds like a sick joke on the part of some programmer, the sound of a zipper unzipping often triggers Siri to wake up…While Apple emphasized that a user’s Apple ID and name are not attached to clips reviewed by contractors…the company is aware of how easily even a recording stripped of its user ID can be connected to the user who made it…Amazon’s Alexa infamously has entire chat rooms for its human trainers to discuss difficult-to-understand audio clips (or mock funny recordings) and Google Home uses a similar system of outsourced “language experts” that allows the company to claim that no one at Google has access to the recordings its devices make…

All-Purpose Excuse (#923)

Puritan fanatics have given tyrants an accusation they can hurl at nearly anyone:

A 9-year-old American citizen on her way to school was a[rrested] by [border patrol thugs] and [locked in a cage like an animal] for some 32 hours before she was released back to her family…[“authorities”] later [bloviated] that the girl, who was carrying a U.S. passport card with her, gave “inconsistent information”…Julia Isabel Amparo Medina …her 14-year-old brother and two friends were being driven to school by the friends’ mom from their home in Tijuana to San Ysidro…Thousands of people travel through the Tijuana-San Ysidro crossing daily for school or work.  When traffic slowed to a crawl, the mom told the children to walk across the border so they wouldn’t be late.  A…[pig] detained Medina, saying she didn’t look like the photo on her passport card…Medina’s brother, who is also a U.S. citizen, said [thugs]…demanded he sign a paper saying that his sister was really his cousin…[threatening him with prison and telling the boy] “they were going to charge him [with]…sex trafficking”…

I’m not sure why it took four months for this story to gain traction, but I’m suspending my usual rule about not sharing stories more than a month or so old.

Still Consenting

Phoenix Calida on the absurdity of a sex-work-free “Utopia”:

Many on the left have told me that sex outside of procreation or love is icky.  They say that…non-male people, should not be allowed to be fully in charge of their…sexual lives…they insist sex workers are bad because they commodify sex and the soul, meaning sex workers have been made into objects, and are no longer humans…the left dreams of a post-revolution utopia where people only have sex for free and for love…The idea that sex work will cease to exist after capitalism falls has always been bizarre, since trading sex existing before capitalism did.  No matter how many times I am told that the revolution will end sex work, I’ve yet to be provided with realistic scenarios of how that will happen…

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If you don’t follow me on Twitter, here’s a sample of recent tweets you missed out on:

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One of the most common questions I’m asked is, “Why don’t you ________?” where the blank is filled with some thing the questioner would like me to do, such as  “Why don’t you tour?“, “Why don’t you advertise on such-and-such site?“, or “Why don’t you do morning appointments?”  And the short-but-not-entirely-satisfactory answer is always the same:  “Because I don’t want to.”  As regular readers know, I’ve been doing sex work for a really long time: 34 years in all, almost 22 years as a career, and almost 20 years as an advertised escort.  And as one might expect, I’ve learned a great deal in that time, and one of things I’ve learned is that it’s easy to burn out if one isn’t careful.  It happened in only two years as a stripper, and as an escort I burned out several times and had to change my work style in order to maintain an income while giving myself time to recover (the longest break of this sort was from July 2006 to July 2010, during which my sole client was my then-husband).  But now, the stakes are much higher; I’m much older and much more realistic, and I know very well I’m not likely to score any gig that’s both more lucrative and less stressful for me than harlotry.  It isn’t that sex work is in and of itself uniquely stressful; it’s just that running a one-woman business of any kind is, and criminalization heaps an extra load of stress on top of that.  So a sex worker, like any other businessperson, needs to prioritize, pace herself, and figure out the right work-life balance so as to make it possible to continue bringing in a solid, dependable income year after year without burnout.

One important part of that is figuring out what things cause one the most stress and/or resentment and eliminating (or at least minimizing) them; another is its counterpart, maximizing the things that one enjoys or finds rewarding.  And as you’ve probably already guessed, most of the things I don’t do are things that I find stressful and/or annoying.  I’m slow to awaken and hate waking up to alarms, so I have always refused to do morning appointments.  I am not good at navigating formal systems, and since that includes filling out forms it’s rare that I can motivate myself to create a new ad.  I tend to be very set in my ways where work is concerned (note how slowly the format of this blog changes, and how some features never change), so I only like to travel to see overnight clients or to do incidental shorter sessions in a place I’m visiting for some other reason, like a speaking engagement.  Last year I realized how much I’ve grown to hate taking cold phone calls, so I stopped doing it; I also realized I need more time to unwind before bed than I used to, so I stopped scheduling sessions to end later than 11 pm.  And because the inability to know my schedule in advance was probably the number one factor in my big burnout in ’06, I’ve been reluctant to take same-day sessions since the beginning of this decade and now don’t do it at all anymore unless A) it’s for a regular or by request of a sex worker friend (last-minute duo, that kind of thing) and B) I have at least a few hours’ notice.  I think you get the idea; if I don’t do something, it’s probably because I dislike doing it, and asking me to do it anyway is not likely to win my favor.

(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’ve got an article on sex work, money and consent in the new print edition of Reason, and I think y’all should show your support by picking one up!  But if you have neither subscription nor newsstand handy, here it is online.  A sample to get you started: 

…In the realm of sex, consent has been elevated to the level of a sacred word.  But in practice, most of us believe in a host of exceptions…Many if not most of these exceptions involve sex, money, or power, so it’s not surprising that sex work—which involves all three—inspires some truly absurd mental gymnastics on and around the concept of consent.  Statists, both in and out of government, like to play Kafkaesque games with the idea of consent.  We are told by a certain type of feminist that consent must be explicitly verbal, ongoing, and “enthusiastic”.  They say it must be tiresomely re-ascertained over and over and over again, no matter how clearly it was expressed in the first place.  Modern Puritans, meanwhile, claim that people who engage in “deviant” sexual behavior (including sex work, BDSM, and—until very recently—homosexuality) are suffering from “Stockholm syndrome,” “trauma bonding,” or “false consciousness” and thus cannot consent to things they claim to enjoy because they are not in their right minds.

But the most bizarre of these tortuous mind games, popular among radical feminists for years but gaining momentum today among “progressives,” is the idea that if a person is paid to do something he wouldn’t do for free, that constitutes “coercion” or even “violence”.  As Reason‘s Elizabeth Nolan Brown pointed out a few years ago, “In Seattle, sex must be a ‘leisure activity’ for both parties or it’s nonconsensual, according to one area prosecutor.”  Brown was writing about Val Richey, a senior deputy prosecuting attorney for King County, Washington, who argued that all sex workers are victims of rape because someone paid them “essentially to turn a ‘no’ into a ‘yes.'”  This dogma is deranged.  Richey doesn’t do his job for free; does that mean he is coerced, too?  This contradiction doesn’t seem to occur to anti–sex work crusaders, because they’re unwilling to accept that sex, like every other part of the material world, is not distributed “evenly” or “fairly”…

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In the current environment, we…have no choice but to suspend service.  –  Massage Republic

The Notorious Badge

Whatever one’s opinion of this show, it’s great that the media is listening to sex workers’ opinions of our media depictions:

The Twitter account for Mistress May…primarily tweets links to positive reviews of the Netflix show Bonding…because Mistress May is a fictional Twitter account created by Netflix to promote the show…unlike [real] sex workers on Twitter, Mistress May is verified…on a website that…partakes in discriminatory behavior against…sex workers [many] are outraged that Twitter would provide a platform for a fictional sex worker from a show that they have argued promotes an inaccurate and outright harmful view of their profession…

The Shape of the Spoon

If the mother doesn’t mind, how is it the state’s place to interfere?

…Jerri [Lee’s] son took an interest in drag when he was “around 3 or 4”…Jerri viewed Jacob’s love of drag as no different from her older son’s desire to play football.  It was harmless, and it didn’t hurt anyone.  Although Jacob performed as “Miss Mae Hem” at local Pride events, no one ever made an issue of it until a Facebook page…picked up a video of him performing…in December…the situation immediately began to be twisted into something it wasn’t.  [Trolls] claimed Jacob was “stripping” and giving audience members “lap dances.”  A Facebook user…made a poster saying the event was part of “Lancaster’s Pedophilia Night.”  Other…trolls…found where she lived and published the family’s address online.  They called several local police departments, children’s services, the sheriff’s office, and even the FBI…children’s services found no probable cause to investigate…[but] in early April…[politician] Tim Schaffer…introduced a bill [in the Ohio House]…to ban…adults from putting on any performance…which [perverts claim]…“appeals to prurient interest”…[naturally prohibitionists] claim it’s intended to curb sex trafficking…

What kind of pervert thinks a child playing dress-up is innately sexual, even if the costume is a cross-dressing one?

Watershed

When teen fashion magazines publish articles like this, prohibition’s days are numbered:

…continued criminalization of sex work and sex workers is a form of violence by governments and contributes to the high level of stigma and discrimination.  A systematic review and meta-analysis led by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), for instance, has found that sex workers who have experienced “repressive policing” (including arrest, extortion, and violence from police) are three times more likely to experience sexual or physical violence.  But governments often fail to accept the evidence for the economic and social bases for sex work…They also ignore the wishes of sex workers, who want full decriminalization, as supported by the Global Commission on HIV and the Law, and the Lancet, as well as human rights organizations like Amnesty International…sex worker rights are women’s rights, health rights, labor rights, and the litmus test for intersectional feminism…

Even the hopelessly-whitebread USA Today is getting there:

Decriminalization of sex work is just the first step in creating a more just world.  Even if all sex work were decriminalized tomorrow, large swaths of the sex working population would still face over-policing.  People of color, African-Americans especially, are routinely targeted by law enforcement for harassment and face disproportionate rates of arrest and violence at the hands of police.  Similarly, transgender individuals are regularly profiled as sex workers or other members of the street economy, and thus treated as criminals from the start…We must move beyond this culture of incarceration and policing…

To Molest and Rape 

Don’t ever think rapist cops are limited to the US:

A [typical and representative] garda who sexually assaulted a sleeping woman…has lost an [attempt to reduce his already-low]…two year prison sentence.  The [rapist]…pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting the woman at a Mayo hotel, in July 2015…the man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had gotten into the sleeping woman’s bed and was discovered by her husband with his trousers down.  He initially pleaded not guilty, but changed his plea to guilty at a late stage of his trial…

Repeat Offenders (#704)

Even when it isn’t garment-related, “rescuers” invariably want to push sex workers into some kind of traditional feminine menial labor:

Noel Yeatts…of World Help…[describes well-paid sex work as] misery…and [wants to push]…the Gospel [on them while forcing them into]…a new baking school in Pattaya, one of the centres of Thailand’s booming sex industry…[in her looking glass weltanschauung lucrative, flexible] sex [work is]…keeping girls enslaved and…[low-paid] baking [for some cafe owner is]…freedom…

Welcome To Our World (#758)

Rape victims are increasingly treated like criminals:

Victims of crimes, including those alleging rape, are to be asked to hand their phones over to police – or risk prosecutions not going ahead.  Consent forms asking for permission to [root like pigs through private] information including emails, messages and photographs have been rolled out in England and Wales…police and prosecutors say the forms can plug a gap in the law which says complainants and witnesses cannot be forced to [let the pigs dig through their lives looking for information with which to charge the complainants with crimes rather than actually having to investigate the crimes they reported]…

Don’t Call It Trafficking (#788) 

It’s never called “trafficking” when the government or a crony does it:

A nationally renowned drug rehab program in Texas and Louisiana has sent patients struggling with addiction to work for free for some of the biggest companies in America, likely in violation of federal labor law.  The Cenikor Foundation has dispatched tens of thousands of patients to work without pay at more than 300 for-profit companies over the years.  In the name of rehabilitation, patients have moved boxes in a sweltering warehouse for Walmart, built an oil platform for Shell and worked at an Exxon refinery along the Mississippi River…Cenikor…[pretends]…work helps people recover from addiction…participants have to do is surrender their pay to cover the costs of the two-year program.  But the constant work leaves little time for counseling or treatment, transforming the rehab into little more than a cheap and expendable labor pool…At some job sites, participants lacked proper supervision, safety equipment and training, leading to routine injuries…Labor experts say Cenikor’s entire business model might be illegal under federal labor law…

Disaster (#831)

When even a government propaganda outlet criticizes a law, you know it’s bad:

A popular sex classified website said…that it was shutting down its services in the United States, citing the likelihood that legal challenges would fail to overturn a…federal [censorship] law…passed by Congress a year ago.  The decision by MassageRepublic.com marks the latest indication that…FOSTA-SESTA…has made it difficult for websites selling [classified ads] to survive…

Checklist (#854)

The scheme to cut sex workers off from the healthcare system continues:

[Alabama politicians] considered four [anti-sex] bills…Two…would require health care workers and new commercial drivers to go through [anti-whore] training…The third…allow[s pigs] to publish pictures of those [caught in stings]. The goal is to [imitate other states who have similar laws, in “monke see, monkey do” fashion]…The last…increases the penalties for certain buildings that don’t have [magic anti-whore] posters…

Worse Than I Thought (#869)

The hotel industry is really going to regret having collaborated with fanatics rather than fighting “sex trafficking” hysteria:

McAllen [Texas] police have arrested the manager of a local motel…on a charge of continuous human trafficking…Lucila Saucedo [was arrested]…on a charge of promoting prostitution…[for charging sex workers an hourly room rate]…The human trafficking charge against Saucedo is a first-degree felony and carries a penalty of at least 25 years in prison…

O, Canada! (#918)

Canadian cops continue to try to sell their grotesque sex worker intimidation tactics as “helping” them:

…sex workers across Ontario have described aggressive surveillance and abuse at the hands of [cops, bureaucrats] and [spooks]…massage parlour…work[ers are]…confronted by pervasive surveillance, harassment and abuse from [cops]…under the pretence of “human trafficking” investigations…these unwanted visits are driven by moral panic rather than evidence…Encouraged by the conflation of sex work and human trafficking, [cops] are increasingly invading sex workers’ spaces under the guise of protection and “rescue”.  But their “protection” is unwanted, misdirected and outright harmful…sex workers interviewed [by journalists] universally describe…abuse including assault, intimidation, harassment, threats, retaliation, extortion, unwarranted searches and seizures, and arbitrary or disproportionate application of the law…

Rough Trade (#923)

Imagine this actually going to trial in the US:

A man who removed his condom during…sex with a prostitute has been jailed for 12 years for raping her.  Lee Hogben…ignored his…victim’s repeated objections and carried on [raping]…her…Hogben denied the charge of rape but was found guilty following a trial.  After being [sentenced] Hogben threatened to shoot the…judge…Hogben [had also] threatened [the escort] with violence…and…left without paying…her…

Worse Than I Thought (#925)

Florida prohibitionists are doubling down on their awful anti-whore laws:

…[prohibitionists fantasize that] “If human trafficking was to discontinue…motel owners…would be out of business”…[politicians] must also resolve their differences over…a database of people found guilty of  “soliciting, inducing, enticing, or procuring” another to commit “prostitution, lewdness, or assignation.”  The loose definition [ensures that] sex workers…[will] be [included] in the [registry], but [politician] Fitzenhagen [doesn’t give a shit because]…“I think it’s a disgrace that sex workers are coming before the House and Senate, saying you are going to make me scared of the police, reduce my income and hurt my family if I get arrested,” she said. Well, guess what, prostitution is illegal”…

“I think it’s a disgrace that Negroes are coming before the House and Senate, saying they are scared of the police” –  Heather Fitzenhagen, 1959

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For the second time recently, I’ve received an email that, while it isn’t a question, is something I’d like to share with y’all.  This is from a gentleman I’ve seen several times since moving to Seattle; he’s not a regular because it’s usually a while between visits, but he is a repeat client (and has on a number of occasions asked for references from me for escorts in other cities).  We had an appointment set for this coming Saturday, but then yesterday morning I received this email (which I’ve edited slightly for discretion; I also asked permission to share):

Hello, Maggie.  I found out that I need to be traveling to a different city on Monday, which means I won’t be making the Seattle trip this weekend.  I know I have had to cancel the last two appointments, so I went ahead and sent a “full” cancellation fee since you would have only a short time for a reschedule.  I appreciate your flexibility and friendship!  I’m sorry for the inconvenience.

Just a few minutes before the email, a payment notification had popped up on my phone letting me know that my full one-hour fee had arrived.  Guys, THIS IS HOW YOU DO IT!  Let’s be honest; escorts are a luxury, and anyone who sees us with any regularity isn’t hurting financially.  But working escorts arrange our schedules around appointments, which means that a cancelled (rather than postponed) appointment represents a loss of income; we can’t usually just reschedule another appointment into that time slot (especially when, as this gent mentions, I’m leaving town for a week the very next day).  So if life happens and you have to cancel an appointment, a polite, respectful email like this one accompanied by at least some compensation (most guys send me $100 or a selection from my wishlist) goes a very long way to soothing the sting and staying on your provider’s good side.  And if you’ve had to cancel before (as is true in this case), paying the whole cost of the missed session demonstrates that you respect her time and are sincerely sorry for the inconvenience; repeated excuses without compensation begin to sound like “the dog ate my homework” after the second or third iteration.  The world isn’t a perfect place, and the best-laid plans of mice & men, etc.  But making a little extra effort like this gentleman did goes a long way toward keeping you in the circle of gold-star clients whom escorts are happy to see and happy to recommend to others.

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This isn’t a question; it’s the kind of letter from a reader which lifts my heart and inspires me to keep fighting for what’s right.  The last paragraph at the bottom was my reply.

I just wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart for what you are doing.  I recently lost my virginity (at the age of 23) with an independent escort, but I was extremely nervous, and I felt awful the whole time because I believed I was doing something horrible.  The woman explained her work to me very rationally and assured me that she was doing this of her own free will, but I still felt so bad that some nights I could not sleep.  During the following weeks I read as much as I could about sex work, especially testimonies from workers themselves and, little by little, I realized that this was honest, good and decent work.  After finding your blog I felt liberated from my guilt and decided that this is the life I want to live.  I still want to look for a romantic relationship with the prospects of making a family, but now that I have “found” sex work as a way to fulfill my needs in the meantime, I feel so much calmer.  I no longer see sex as this dark, secret hush-hush act; I’ve been with one other sex worker since then, and I can say without a doubt it was one of the best experiences I’ve had in my adult life.  I know it’s an act and that the girl is putting on a performance, but it was so sweet and kind.  The people who work in this industry are saints in my book and should be treated with the utmost respect.  Thank you for everything.

Thank you so much for writing this; I’m so glad you were able to throw off that awful guilt.  The “authorities” want people to feel bad about pleasure of any kind (ever notice that the only things they claim are “bad for you” are those that bring pleasure?) so you’ll work harder and they can manipulate you.  But that’s no way to live; as you’ve discovered, thinking for yourself and trusting your own experiences rather than what “authorities” tell you leads to a much fuller, more rewarding life.  I hope you continue to have great experiences with other sex workers in the future!

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