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Posts Tagged ‘shame’

I don’t often do sequels to previous guest columns, but I thought y’all might want to see this update from “John Seattle”; if you haven’t read his column on Seattle’s “john school” yet, you probably should before reading this one.

Last year, Maggie was very kind to publish my response to Peter Qualliotine’s STOP Exploitation classes.  It was written before I had completed the series of classes; the final session ended with Qualliotine giving a pep rally-esque speech in which he asked, “Are you with me?  Will you stop buying sex?”  This question was met with a long, drawn out silence broken only by my giggling when I realized what had happened.  At the time I felt as if I had thoroughly rejected the toxic messaging of his class, but that was not as simple as it seemed.  It was Wendy Zukerman’s Science VS podcast episode entitled “Sex Addiction: Are They Faking It?” that gave me insight to the need to understand better the damaging impacts of shame.  According to the podcast, the truth about sexual addiction (one of the many toxic messages Qualliotine dispenses) is that no scientific evidence supports its existence; what some believe to be sex addiction is the feeling of shame, which is why belief in “sex addiction” is strongly correlated with religious beliefs that sexuality is sinful.

The “sex addiction” myth is thus very useful for someone who is trying to shame others out of their sexuality.  In a local article, Qualliotine was described as someone who “sees patronizing prostitutes as part of a continuum of…behaviors that includes sexual harassment, domestic violence, and rape.”  Through psychological manipulation Qualliotine’s message is that “the core of who and what you are as a person is that of a harasser, abuser, and rapist.”  What he calls “education” is actually based on sex-shaming in order to change behavior, a social conformity strategy very much like the thoroughly-discredited “conversion therapy” is supposed to “cure” gay people.  And even though it doesn’t accomplish what its purveyors claim, subconsciously this toxic messaging lingers, causing emotional damage and isolation in its victims that manifest in harmful ways, such as social anxiety, and despair.

There are a lot of reasons for people to have sex, and none are wrong as long as all partners give consent and treat each other ethically.  Undoing the damage caused by the lie that this is not so, that outsiders have the right to impose rules on other adults, is harder than one might think, but there are resources available; Dr. David Ley, Lola Davina, and Maggie are just a few of the writers who helped me to start the process.  But the first step is to recognize the damage done by sexual shaming even in people who intellectually know better.

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If America had a civil death penalty, putting people on sex registries would be it.  –  Guy Hamilton Smith

Elephant in the Parlor 

The idea that politicians paying for sex is “unprofessional” tells me these people are living in a fantasy world:

…Westminster’s first code of conduct…introduced after a sex harassment scandal in parliament, ban MPs from paying for sex while…engaged in any activity connected with their role as an MP, whether in the UK or abroad…The new complaints and grievance policy states: “Although it might not be illegal to pay for sex, in line with best practice it is considered unprofessional, inappropriate and a breach of the behaviour code”…

A Broker in Pillage

Watch for the definition of “unexplained” to expand dramatically over the next decade or two:

Criminals who can’t explain how they got their money will be [robbed] under a national scheme that allows the government to sweep up their assets.  A Senate committee unanimously recommended the “unexplained wealth” legislation be passed…despite concerns being raised by the Law Council and Civil Liberties Australia.  The legislation will force people convicted of crimes to prove that their wealth was derived from legitimate sources, rather than the onus being on prosecutors to establish that it came from the proceeds of crime…Banks will be forced to hand over any information they have on the unexplained wealth of a convicted client.  The Police Federation has been lobbying for the…scheme for more than a decade…

Election Day (#332)

How many political scandals must Davis embroil herself in to get her name in the news again?

Kristin Davis, also known as the “Manhattan Madam”, will testify before a grand jury in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation…Davis [previously] met with Mueller’s team…It is not clear what the focus of that interview was or how Davis may fit into the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and potential coordination between Trump associates and the Russian government.  But investigators have been very interested in Roger Stone, with whom Davis has a close personal relationship and has worked for in the past…

Everything Old is New Again

This absurd Victorian language is even funnier because it’s meant to be dead serious:

…It’s not a profession.  It’s not about the sex, and there’s certainly no erotic aspects about these encounters.  It’s purely a financial interaction, business deals that involve blood, sweat, tears and semen…women wait…for dark to descend.  Then the hunters begin to approach…Slowly they cruise by, headlights blinding the women as they search for their prey.  The hunters feel a sense of control as they strip the victims of their dignity, their humanity…

I was also tickled to see a link to this previous article about the “dangerous cycle of prostitution”, which is presumably a used Harley bought with whoring money.  After that one I wrote, “As far as I can make out, this dude’s pearl-clutching tone is dead serious.  Do you amateurs really believe this kind of shit?”

To Molest and Rape 

Would any non-cop have gotten only probation for this?

Madison County [Alabama cop] Roland Campos pleaded guilty to a [molesting a young girl]…and was sentenced to a year’s probation.  Campos…must also [register as a] Sex Offender…the judge suspended the jail term and ordered Campos to serve a year’s probation…Campos was arrested in August 2017 after a middle school student…told a school official Campos had sexually abused her…

Monsters (#730) 

The US only prosecutes people for sex worker “propaganda”, which is obviously completely different:

The first minor has been found guilty of Russia’s anti-gay “propaganda” laws.  Maxim Neverov was found guilty of “propaganda of homosexuality among minors” despite being only 16-years-old himself.  The teenager from Biysk was fined 50,000 rubles on 7 August for publishing photos on social network site Vkontakte [Russian Facebook]…the teenager was not allowed to consult a lawyer.  This led him to refuse to testify…

Banishment (#798)

Another good essay by Guy Hamilton Smith on the torture the US hides under the euphemism “registration”:

…Recently, a major court decision lambasted registries as ineffective at promoting public safety, while noting that they rendered those on them “moral lepers” who are forced to reside at the margins of society on the sole basis of a conviction.  Another decision, currently on appeal in the…10th Circuit…called registries cruel and unusual punishments in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution — an almost unheard-of legal conclusion for American courts to reach outside of death penalty litigation…in my view, it is the right one.  I know, because of the nearly million people on America’s sex offense registries, I am one of them.  In describing his experiences with solitary confinement — a practice widely regarded as torture — Nelson Mandela concluded that there is nothing more dehumanizing than isolation from human connection…Being labeled a sex offender, you carry your solitary with you, in your heart, and in your mind…The indelible electronic mark you carry threatens to turn your own thoughts against you, unless and until you can find a way outside of the prison your own mind begins to construct for you.  Until then, you die slowly, suffocating in shame.  I have written more fully about my story and experiences elsewhere, but I have spent the last eleven years living on America’s sex registry.  More than simply punishment, in my opinion, it is most fairly characterized as torture…

Laura Lee, Sex Work Stigma, and the Limits of #MeToo

Looks like Olaf isn’t going to be able to hush this up as he wanted to:

Gardaí have reopened an investigation into a complaint made by [the late] Laura Lee…friends of Ms Lee have been contacted by officers reopening an investigation into an alleged sexual assault.  Ms Lee, a law graduate, had made a statement to gardaí in Dublin about the…incident last November.  [Accused rapist Olaf Tyaransen] has strenuously denied any wrongdoing.  The garda investigation was closed when Ms Lee died of undisclosed causes this year at the age of 44 but gardaí are now in the process of taking statements again…

For Those Who Think Legalization is a Good Idea (#858)

Indian sex workers’ fight against a terrible new “anti-trafficking” bill is drawing international attention:

…“No one has forced me to do this…it pays better than being a maid or factory worker,” said Sanjana Murali…“But with this law, if the police raid a kotha [brothel], I will be taken into police custody and sent to a rehabilitation clinic.  What about my freedom to choose?…If the state thinks I should be ‘rescued’ and trained to sew clothes or make papar (papadams) to survive, it is wrong.  That kind of work will never pay enough”…When MP Shashi Tharoor raised this point in parliament, he was assured by minister for women Maneka Gandhi that the bill would not target voluntary sex workers.  “That’s just her word,” said Dr Smarajit Jana of the Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee…“Why isn’t there a single sentence in the bill stating that?  All the bill does is empower the police to harass sex workers and disempower the women themselves.”  Jana said…that most…sex workers…are…the “heads” of their extended families.  Their income pays for food, rent, a relative’s illness, and the school fees of their children, and those of their siblings…“When you put them into a rehabilitation clinic, who is going to look after their children?”…the bill is based on paternalistic assumptions about rescuing sex workers…no…organisation was consulted in the drafting of the bill, even though sex workers are well organised…

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It is not possible to support individuals and also call for the abolition of their profession.  –  WAVAW Board

The Sky is Falling!

Even by prohibitionist standards, this is hilariously hysterical:

“Sugar daddy” dating sites such as Seeking Arrangement…are aggressively targeting college students — with free premium memberships for signing up under an .edu email plus plenty of assurances that being a “sugar baby” is safe, empowering and profitable.  But sugar babies typically do not, in fact, have control over these relationships, which often turn dangerous and exploitative, [pearl-clutchers whined]…at a “World Without Exploitation Youth Summit” held in Downtown Brooklyn for high school and college students…“Sugaring” almost always involves a coercive exchange of money for sex, the [pearl-clutchers moaned]…even if the coercion is subtle and regardless of the dating website’s promises of “pampering,” “mentoring” and “networking”…“There’s an expectation that the buyer or the sugar daddy can do whatever he wants, so very often we hear there’s extraordinary violence when the door gets shut,” adds Lauren Hersh, national director of World Without Exploitation, a [prohibitionist] group…

This is your regular reminder that Lauren Hersh is a former prosecutor who was forced to resign in disgrace after she was caught trying to railroad two innocent black men for rape.

Watershed

For those who think I’m wrong about sex worker rights having passed the watershed:

As a [rape crisis centre] we always say that systems and perpetrators of violence need to be held accountable.  This is no different when we have enacted harm ourselves…We have taken actions that have caused harm to sex workers, and it is important that we take responsibility for those actions.  In 2008, we produced a position paper on sex work titled “Stepping out of the Binary”.  The paper framed the sex work industry as inherently violent and oppressive…and…conflated sex work with trafficking and exploitation…Our [excuse] was that we critiqued and challenged the sex work industry as a whole, but would not turn away individual sex workers who wanted to access our services.  This position is inherently flawed.  It is not possible to support individuals and also call for the abolition of their profession…We support sex work.  We support the rights of sex workers.  We believe sex workers should have access to the services they need, when they need them…

Theatrics

Though this subtitle is now used for prohibitionist publicity stunts, the original covered this:

…dozens of female workers in Spain’s Huelva region, most of them Moroccan…reported having been harassed, raped, blackmailed, physically assaulted or insulted by their superiors…

Good News, Bad News (#409)

Australian prohibitionists are just as vile as those in the US & UK:

Prostitution legislation is currently being discussed in the Northern Territory…Prostitution affects everyone because…[the private acts of individual women magically inflict] violence against [other] women…Australia’s acceptance of [civil liberties] is becoming embarrassing internationally, as progressive countries move towards [authoritarian regulation]…of [the bodies and lives of] all women.  When it is acceptable for women to [make their own choices]…every woman is devalued [to the state].  The availability of women’s [sexual services for free] creates a sense of entitlement in too many men which inevitably plays out in their day to day interactions with women…

Only in the warped prohibitionist mind could reducing women to mere parts of a collective entity and demanding government control over people’s private lives be characterized as “human dignity”.

The Face of Trafficking (#646) 

Note that even a horrifying case like this doesn’t look anything like the “sex trafficking” myth as prohibitionists tell it:

One of New Zealand’s most sickening criminal cases, just the third conviction for slave trading in the country’s legal history, can now be revealed.  A mother of a teenage daughter has been jailed for six years and 11 months [for pimp]ing her daughter…some 1000 times over a two-year period…as many as five times a day.  The teen…escaped…in November 2016 and fled to police.  Kasmeer Lata, the teen’s mother, was sentenced…for dealing in slaves and receiving earnings from commercial sexual services from an underage person…

While I usually edit items to point out the truth in authoritarian propaganda, in this case I did so to eliminate the lurid language the reporter used to exploit this young woman’s ordeal for clickbait.  Because yellow journalists are just as awful in New Zealand as anywhere else.

Elephant in the Parlor (#828) 

Just in case you forgot about the other sex workers Trump paid off:

…investigators discovered recordings made by Michael Cohen which include a then-candid Donald Trump talking about a payment to…former Playboy model…Karen McDougal [who] previously claimed that she had an affair with Mr. Trump…

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic (#833) 

All the disclaimers won’t stop charlatans from pretending this is their imaginary “sex addiction”:

The World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases (ICD) list…filed “compulsive sexual behavior disorder” — often [incorrectly] referred to as sex addiction — as an impulse-control disorder…WHO’s new list will not take effect until Jan. 1, 2022, as revisions still need to be made…clinicians…fear that recognizing compulsive sexual behavior disorder would pathologize normal sexual behavior, [said] Dr. Stefanie Carnes…“One of the things WHO did…is say specifically, ‘You can’t make the diagnosis of the compulsive disorder just due to shame or moralistic thoughts and feelings’”…In other words, a diagnosis cannot be made for someone with conservative religious views who frequents pornography sites a few times a month and thus believes that is a problem…the…proposed inclusion characterizes the disorder as “a persistent pattern of failure to control intense, repetitive sexual impulses or urges, resulting in repetitive sexual behavior over an extended period (e.g., six months or more) that causes marked distress or impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning.”  Carnes…[said] “I have patients who…spend $300,000 on a prostitute”…

Say, Dr. Carnes, would you introduce me to these guys? I’ll take good care of them, I promise.

All-Purpose Excuse (#834)

I hope this finger-pointing keeps up until the hysteria implodes:

…the Trafficking in Persons Report directly references the vulnerability of migrants and children to trafficking without mention of recent U.S. policies that increased family separation and detention.  This dissonance is not new [to this administration], although recent events have been particularly egregious.  Since his inauguration, President Trump has espoused strikingly different — and dramatically inconsistent — approaches to immigration and human trafficking…Despite the administration’s [typical] rhetoric about protecting survivors of trafficking, the brutal fact is that indiscriminate targeting of undocumented immigrants…has sown chaos and fear in immigrant communities.  This makes survivors much less likely to cooperate with [pigs], and more likely to be targeted as victims…on June 28, 2018, USCIS issued a new policy memorandum specifying that any survivor who applies for T visas — and is denied — will be placed in deportation proceedings…

Trumpists: “YOU’RE helping ‘human traffickers’!”
Anti-Trumpists:  “No, YOU’RE helping ‘human traffickers’!”
Me: “LOL, please continue.”

The Real World

Despite some highly exaggerated claims about the prevalence of serious mental illness among sex workers, this article recognizes criminalization as a major cause of stress:

Sex workers already operate at the social and economic margins.  SESTA-FOSTA makes it increasingly difficult for them to advertise and screen clients safely, deeply cutting into their incomes and threatening their livelihoods…The conflation of consensual sex work with trafficking, abuse, moral decrepitude, and shame is as pervasive as is it is lacking nuance…Mental health providers must wade through social discourse thick with misinformation to be effective allies to sex workers in their practice.  Scholars and practitioners alike propose harmful and stigmatizing models of understanding sex work…Although sensationalist media outlets frequently use sex trafficking as a boogeyman to encourage tougher policing of sex work, research from New Zealand, Australia, and Spain shows that decriminalizing sex work has made the industry safer…In the wake of SESTA-FOSTA, sex workers are scared that they won’t be able to provide for themselves and their families…

Pyrrhic Victory (#851) 

Hey, Seattle!  Get your kids into the facial recognition database before they even hit puberty, and help the government to analyze how people’s faces change with time, so nobody can EVER escape surveillance!

RealNetworks, the Seattle company best known for pioneering streaming media…will offer a new facial recognition technology, called SAFR, for free to K-12 schools to help upgrade their on-site [surveillance] systems.  SAFR can be used with the same cameras that traditional surveillance systems to recognize students, staff, and people visiting schools…in addition to security, the tool can also help with [normalization of constant surveillance] and [the school-to-prison pipeline]…

Disaster (#852)

Woodhull, et al’s request for a preliminary injunction vs FOSTA is a thing of beauty, and even if you don’t really understand legalese you should read it, because most of it is in plain English and its arguments are solid.  Reading it for yourself is the only way you can fully grasp what a crock of shit the judge’s inaction was:

A federal judge on Thursday tabled a motion brought by the Woodhull Freedom Foundation and four other plaintiffs, who are suing to stop the government from enforcing…FOSTA…Judge Richard Leon…made no ruling on Woodhull’s request for a preliminary injunction that would stop the law from remaining in effect until the group’s lawsuit…is decided. Nor did he announce a date when he would issue a ruling.  According to one account from inside the courtroon, Leon “sounded skeptical” that the law had actually caused harm to the plaintiffs in the case…

Basically, the judge wants time to try to think of the proper legal wording for “Yes, I know this law is blatantly unconstitutional, but I’m not gonna be the one to issue an injunction on it because whores”.

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Sex work is like any other kind of work and should be treated as such.  –  Anja Derungs

Acting and Activism 

Not an article you’d see in the US:

…Celebrities…[such as] Ashton Kutcher, Ricky Martin, Demi Moore, Jada Pinkett-Smith and Emma Thompson have all been extensively involved in [so-called] anti-trafficking campaigns…Recently, comedians Amy Schumer and Seth Meyers starred in a [propaganda video] in support of…new [censorship] legislation in the US to curtail sex work in the name of preventing sex trafficking…Celebrities…bridge the gap between brand and cause ambassador, between hawker and humanitarian.  A clear example of this is Demi Moore’s partnership in 2011 with a jewellery retailer to sell diamond handcuff pendants, with some of the profits going to support the anti-[sex work] foundation established by Moore and her husband at the time, Ashton Kutcher…the presence of movie and television stars at the forefront of awareness campaigns can fuel the expectation that real trafficking victims are just like those we see on television or the big screen…sex slavery…is a popular storyline in entertainment mediaTaken…was a smash hit…spawning two sequels and a television show…Stories of sex trafficking have featured in other movies like The Whistleblower and Trade, and numerous television shows including Criminal Minds, CSIHawaii Five-O, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, NCIS: Los Angeles, Without a Trace, and The Wire.  The broad reach of movies and TV means that we are more likely to hear about human trafficking in a fictional context…The lines between entertainment, infotainment and information become blurred, especially when we are told…stories of trafficking by the very people who might play the heroes on screen...

Saving Them From Themselves

Dr. David Ley can always be counted on to speak good sense:

…prosecution of teen sexting suffers from the same disparities as much of our legal system: teens who are Black [or LGBT] may be more likely to face prosecution…Males are more frequently charged than females, even in cases involving mutual sharing of pictures…it is mostly the US that is having this teen sexting panic.  Countries in which social nudity is common and accepted don’t seem to be reacting quite as punitively to these phenomena…Amy Hasinoff, author of Sexting Panic, argues strongly that…child pornography laws need to be updated to be more consistent with age of sexual consent laws:  If you can have sex at age 15 or 16, then you should be able to take or share a naked or sexual image (of yourself) as well.  But she also says that we need to take a better educational approach with teens, teaching them about healthy sexuality and relationships and giving them support and guidance on how to sext safely, not trying to stop them sexting altogether.  In other words, we need to start practicing harm reduction strategies…

Gorged With Meaning

Cracked has fewer pro-sex work articles than it once did, but this one’s excellent:

…”Being alone with a man is being alone with a man,” says Fancy, “and they don’t see a difference between a sugar baby and an escort.  In fact, because it’s the first area of sex work many people start with, the risk is higher because the expectation of screening isn’t really there”…Despite sugar sites’ insistence that “entering the sugar bowl” is all about forming lasting romantic bonds of convenience, the turnover rate for arrangements is high — about two months on average, in Fancy’s experience…Both of our sources recently made the decision to quit sugar dating.  Julia got a promotion at her day job, while Fancy decided that the profit wasn’t worth it compared to traditional escorting and stripping.  “I found the men on the sugaring sites to largely be cheapskates who want to trick young women who are too scared to escort into providing escort services for a fraction of the cost,” she says. “It’s very manipulative, financially”…higher-end escorts tend to charge at least $2,000 for overnight stays.  In her experience, that amount is at the upper end of the monthly  allowances sugar daddies offer — and for escorts, those overnight stays don’t require the devotion, time, and attention that often accompany a sugar arrangement…”I was taking $300-$600 for overnight (sugar) stays!  All just so I could call myself something other than a whore”…

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic 

Blaming bad behavior on an imaginary “addiction” is the opposite of accepting responsibility:

A…Lethbridge [Alberta] school teacher…Dwayne Schnell…pleaded guilty to charges of making and distributing child pornography…Schnell abused his position of trust by taking pictures of eight students…without their knowledge…a psychiatrist said…Schnell has no concept of the harm caused to the children, parents, or the school where he worked….[and] assertions that he suffers from impulse control and addiction issues were “self-deceptive excuses to justify his behaviour”…Schnell…[claims] he has a pornography addiction…

Uncommon Sense (#545)

How countries with healthy ideas about sex react to the Swedish disease:

A campaign to make prostitution illegal in Switzerland is being met with stiff resistance from human rights group.  The Swiss Aids Federation [and] Amnesty International…are among several advocacy groups rallying against the…[crusade, which] was launched by the Women’s Centre in Zurich…and calls for a Swedish-style ban on prostitution…Anja Derungs, spokesperson for the Zurich Equality Office said that “sex work is like any other kind of work and should be treated as such”…Daniel Seiler…of the Swiss AIDS Federation, said that sex work “is the oldest profession in the world” and would not disappear if a ban was in place.  This approach had not worked it Sweden either, where the trade still exists, he noted…The Women’s Centre in Bern also expressed its opposition to the campaign launched by its counterpart in Zurich…

Social Autoimmune Disorder (#594)

Shaming clients is an exercise in evil fuckery that just won’t die:

The Catalan town of Gavà wants to stamp out [sex workers]…and snitch on those who [enable sex workers to pay their bills and support their children]…by sending fines to their family addresses…”Up until now, the client used to pay the fine (to police) in cash right there and then so that there was no record of the offence”…[anti-sex] Minister Gemma Badia is quoted as saying…As a result, authorities have decided [cops]…should send the fines to clients’ home addresses…Even if the clients were to insist on paying before the fine was posted, they would still receive a letter informing them, and quite possibly their family members, on the settlement of their prostitution case…

The Monsters Are Due (#742) 

The ugliest part of a peak moral panic: lynch mobs:

A 92-year-old man…was thrown to the ground [and] stomped on by strangers on the Fourth of July…in…Los Angeles…Rodolfo Rodriguez [is] a native of Mexico and legal U.S. resident…Laquisha Jones, 30, was arrested…[and] booked for assault with a deadly weapon…Rodriguez had gone out alone for his daily walk, [the victim’s grandson, Erik] Mendoza said…While walking, Rodriguez may have bumped into a small girl, witness Misbel Borjas…said…she [then] saw a woman with the girl push Rodriguez and beat him with a brick.  The woman also told Rodriguez to “go back to your country”…Borjas had been driving by, she said, and wanted to stop, but the woman threatened to hit her car with the brick.  Borjas instead called 911 and took a picture of the woman, which she shared with police and put on social media.  Borjas said a group of men then came down the street, and the woman accused Rodriguez of trying to take the child.  That’s when about three of them also began beating him…Rodriguez…suffered two broken ribs and a broken cheekbone…

Cops and Robbers (#823)

No fad spreads faster than a new way to tyrannize innocent people:

Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco announced new initiatives to [harass]…sex [workers]…Deputies will utilize intercept bots to track people who use the Internet to search out [adult consensual sex]…The bots will communicate like a [very stupid and robotic] person, exchanging information such as phone numbers and could even set up meeting locations.  [Pigs]…will [creep] in to lock up the buyer and then go after the person in court…

Guys, 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.

The War Goes On (#831) 

We told you so:

…promoting prostitution…cases, according to [spokespig] John Daggy [of Indianapolis]…have…dried up…[since] the feds closed police’s [easiest site for stings]…Backpage…“We’ve been a little bit blinded lately because they shut Backpage down,” Daggy said…

The melodramatic telling of the arrest of a wannabe “pimp” is especially hilarious.  NB: Every time his name comes up, I remind readers that one of Daggy’s jobs is to make excuses for cops who rape sex workers.

The Spiral of Absurdity (#849) 

It’s fascinating in a train-wreck kind of way to watch the lies spiral out of control:

Fulton County Police Chief Darryl Halbert said 100,000 children become sex trafficking victims in Georgia per year and are mostly runaways between the ages of 12 and 14.  He said the county police department uses surveillance cameras and sting operations to [pretend they’re fighting] the [imaginary] crime…

Yes, that’s a pig oinking that almost 5% of the entire below-18 population of Georgia (something like 30% of the age group mentioned) become “sex slaves” every year.  Even allowing for half “escaping”, that would mean roughly half of the population of Georgia under the age of 30 are now “sex slaves”.  One wonders where they’re all stored, and where the clients to support this massive population all come from.

Welcome To Our World (#853)

Locking pregnant women in cages for “trafficking” themselves.  Had enough yet?

Phnom Penh Municipal Court…charged 33 women with human trafficking after they were detained following a raid on a surrogacy business…last month…[being pregnant in a way politicians don’t like] is illegal and could carry a jail sentence of up to 20 years…Chou Bun Eng, chair of the National Authority Against Human Trafficking, said…“We cannot tell you the place where the women are [locked in cages] because we want to protect their rights and…keep them safe”…

“Keep them safe” and “protect their rights”.  By locking them in cages for 20 years.  For being pregnant.  Feminism!

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Creating a…registry of strippers is not going to help stop exploitation.  –  Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Under Every Bed

The confused babble spouted by “officials” in low-population states is truly stupefying:

Assistant US Attorney General Andy Cogar, co-chair of the West Virginia Human Trafficking Taskforce, said one of the challenges…“is the learning curve we have with law enforcement…because they are on the front lines, but it’s also a cultural learning curve that we have to go through when it comes to sex trafficking…They blur those lines between sex trafficking and prostitution, and so there is a tendency— because…prostitutes are written off as almost subhuman at times. There’s a lack of concern or credibility that’s ascribed to sex trafficking victims because they are written off often times as just lowly prostitutes…We have to break through that and have a much more nuanced understanding of what prostitution is frankly.  But also, and more importantly, the various ways that sex trafficking can manifest itself or that it is manifested”…

This guy actually sounds like he almost gets it, but his brain is too mired in “sex trafficking” propaganda and cop “NHI” doctrine that he can’t quite close the circle.

Saving Them From Themselves (#428) 

Yeah, destroy their lives!  That’ll teach ’em not to have sexual feelings, you betcha!

Police are investigating as many as a dozen teenagers at two separate schools in Falls Church, Virginia, as part of an ever-widening sexting inquiry.  Police seized five cell phones and have recovered multiple “explicit images” that students shared with each other…Virginia police have a history of pursuing teen sexting cases with misguided zealotry…It’s well worth asking, then, whether the police should really be in the business of collecting sexually explicit images of teenagers as part of an effort to hold them criminally accountable…

The Last Shall Be First (#624)

Potty obsession is rotting politicians’ brains:

…Jazmina Saavedra, who is running for a House seat in California, accused a transgender woman of invading her privacy as she live streamed herself challenging the woman in a public restroom in Los Angeles.  “I’m trying to use the ladies’ room and there is a man here claiming that he is a lady,” Saavedra said in the Facebook Live video, filming just outside the bathroom stall in a Denny’s restaurant…

Cops and Robbers (#632) 

The rescue industry provides many opportunities for wealthy white folks to play cowboy:

Christian rock frontman David Zach of the band Remedy Drive recounts some of the chilling experiences he’s had while undercover as a covert operative to help rescue teenage girls trapped in sex trafficking rings in Asia and Latin America.  While serving undercover over the past four years, Zach has spent most of his time undercover in brothels and red light districts searching for evidence of sex trafficking.  Zach teamed up with Matt Parker, founder of the anti-[sex work] organization The Exodus Road…

To Molest and Rape 

Why he wasn’t charged with rape isn’t at all “unclear” to me:

A cop…offered to drive a sexual assault victim home but instead took her to a motel and raped her.  John Nissen…was charged with official misconduct, tampering with a witness and theft by deception over the incident…Why…he…was not charged with rape was unclear…the victim gave an interview at the Hillview, Kentucky, police station about the initial rape.  Nissen agreed to take her home…[but actually] took her to…[a] hotel…[where he] demand[ed] oral sex from the woman and then rap[ed] her…Afterwards…he…[told her] she should move to a different jurisdiction and not pursue her rape case…Nissen’s own department became suspicious of his actions when reading the incident report and handed it over to the Kentucky State Police to investigate…

Something Rotten in Sweden (#662)

Summer Stephan has for years touted her personal animus against whores as “concern”:

Interim [San Diego] DA Summer Stephan, who’s running for election in June, doesn’t see any meaningful difference between sex work, or prostitution, and sex trafficking.  In doing so, she and other prosecutors in California conflate sex trafficking with sex work and are confusing the public in…an attempt to inspire moral outrage…Anti-trafficking laws that conflate sex work with sex trafficking have forced sex workers into “safe houses” and rehabilitation programs against their will…During a two-year study with sex workers, I observed that sex workers felt comfortable working cooperatively with police officers when the police opted not to arrest sex workers and to treat sex work as if it were decriminalized.  Similar findings have been observed in New Zealand…The conflation of sex work and sex trafficking…reduces…women…into a victim status in order to comply with a notion of womanhood tied to sexual purity that is compliant with dominant morality.  A woman who chooses to take an alternative, often difficult path, for her family by becoming a sex worker is dismissed as a victim incapable of the choice…We need a district attorney who would build partnerships with sex workers so they feel comfortable coming forward to the district attorney’s office when they observe genuine human trafficking without fearing more prosecutions, not one who judges their choices…

Bottleneck (#728) 

There are so many reasons sex worker licensing is a bad idea:

…Palm Beach County is the only local government in South Florida to license strippers…[under the pretense of] stop[ping] the exploitation of minors…But…Issuing a government ID creates a…public record.  “They’re creating a registry of strippers” said Elizabeth Nolan Brown… “They’re opening up these dancers to having their information revealed to people”…Stalkers.  Zealots.  Violent ex-partners.  Spouses in a child custody battle.  Potential employers…because of the stigma attached to stripping, there are lots of reasons they may want to keep that information private…

Comfort Zone (#769)

Sometimes they don’t even bother with the “sex trafficking” excuse any more:

Migrant victims of crime are being handed over to [UK] immigration enforcement officials by police when they report crimes…There are fears the disclosure could discourage migrant victims of crime from coming forward, although the Home Office [lied] it would support vulnerable migrants “regardless of their immigration status…Victims of crime must be treated first and foremost as victims,” a spokesperson [lied]…

Uncommon Sense (#774)

The IWW was the first major union to support sex workers rights, but it won’t be the last:

At its 2018 Annual Conference, IWW Branch delegates from across Wales, Ireland, Scotland and England were asked to consider a motion presented by our members to publicly state its commitment to the full decriminalisation of sex work and a full pardon for any sex workers convicted under existing legislation…the motion was passed unanimously…

Out of Control (#782) 

What is wrong with doctors who do this?

A University of Southern California gynecologist was allowed to continue practicing for many years, despite multiple complaints of misconduct…The complaints against George Tyndall date back to the 1990s and include allegations of inappropriately photographing students’ genitals, making sexualized commentary about patients’ bodies, and explicitly referencing sexual intercourse while inserting his fingers into patients’ vaginas.  Some of the most unsettling accusations come from nurses and medical assistants—sometimes known as chaperones—who witnessed his exams firsthand.  Tyndall, who resigned last summer, has denied the accusations and outrageously speculated that…“chaperones reported him because they had trouble reaching orgasm and were jealous of young patients with tighter pelvic muscles.”  Let us pause for a moment to let that shit sink in: This gentleman argues that he is being set up by old ladies who wish they had tighter vaginas…

Elephant in the Parlor (#835)

I absolutely love Stormy Daniels’ honesty about her whoredom:

…Stormy Daniels…has become a political Rorschach test.  Women thank her at the grocery store for inspiring them to speak up, sharing their personal #MeToo stories.  Conspiracy theorists call her the “Deep State’s Plan B” if the multiple Russia investigations fail to bring down Trump…[others] hail…her as a saving grace that might lead to impeachment…The only person who sees Stormy’s story as not political is Stormy herself.  “I’m fine with women coming up to me and saying, ‘You’ve inspired me’.  That’s great.  But I’m quick to point out that’s not my story,” she says.  “I suck dick for a living.  Nobody wants to know what I think about the wall or health care…it’s my job and my service to society to be an entertainer.  Yes, my version of being an entertainer happens to be a porn star, which makes it even more important: I am an escape from reality”…

Disaster (#839)

Morons cheer when a highway is destroyed, then get upset when the traffic goes into side streets:

Some 60 residents…said over and over that prostitution [in San Francisco’s Mission district] has never been worse, and they made it clear to District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen and Mission Captain Gaetano Caltagirone that their official efforts have been too slow and ineffective…By the end of the night, Ronen and Caltagirone vowed to redouble their efforts to abate the sex work that has long operated on Shotwell Street…They were even receptive to almost unanimous support from the [useful idiots] to [establish a curfew on] certain parts of Shotwell and Capp streets on Friday and Saturday…residents…said the efforts had failed to abate a booming prostitution ring operating outside their doorsteps…

It’s because stupid people have been taught to believe in fantasies like “prostitution rings” that this happened in the first place; when politicians shut down inexpensive and accessible advertising, only a complete imbecile could fail to understand that the sex workers who used that advertising will now have to advertise in another way, such as by walking the streets.

Pyrrhic Victory (#841)

When it comes to mass surveillance, fascism beats communism hands down:

Amazon…has developed a powerful and dangerous new facial recognition system and is actively helping governments deploy it.  Amazon calls the service “Rekognition”…[it] can identify, track, and analyze people in real time and recognize up to 100 people in a single image…[by] scan[ning] information it collects against databases featuring tens of millions of faces…Amazon is [specifically] marketing Rekognition for government surveillance…say[ing] Rekognition can be used to identify “people of interest“, raising the possibility that those labeled suspicious by governments — such as undocumented immigrants or Black activists — will be seen as fair game for Rekognition surveillance…

Because this story is on the ACLU website, naturally it doesn’t mention that the people who will be first spied upon by this software are sex workers.

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If you really care about us, just listen to us.  –  Christina Parreira

Droit du Seigneur 

This is one of those rare instances where a rapist really was a “former” cop:

…a former [New Jersey] cop…[was] charged with trafficking a teen girl for sex…James Keenan [was] released on home confinement and the custody of a relative…[he] most recently lived in Vancouver, Washington [and] was arrested April 11 in Hazlet on federal charges of sex trafficking of a child, attempted sex trafficking of a child and attempted enticement…police in Beaverton, Oregon…and the Federal Bureau of Investigation had been looking into him for a month…When agents went to arrest Keenan, they learned he had [fled] the West Coast…Keenan worked for the Middletown Township Police Department for…26 years…[and] retired in 2016…

Surplus Women 

Unfortunately, this will happen much more often now until a replacement for Backpage appears:

A manhunt continue[s]…for the savage killer of Brandy Odom, 26, whose…dismembered remains were…discovered strewn across…132 acres [of Brooklyn’s Canarsie Park]…Detectives trying to retrace her activities in the hours before she was carved up reviewed surveillance video from around the park in hopes of spotting a suspect…Odom was possibly strangled before the fugitive killer hacked up the corpse…Odom…was…a…hairdresser who…had no…history of problems with the law…[except] one arrest for loitering with suspicions of prostitution in 2012…Her mother was adamant that her daughter wasn’t involved in any illegal activity…

It’s sad to watch the mother forced to disavow “illegal activity”, as though being a sex worker would mean her daughter deserved to be literally butchered.

Elephant in the Parlor 

Yeah, she was a “slave”; I’m sure she was chained up & actually owned in a legal sense:

A Florida politician busted…on prostitution-related charges, allegedly fed and housed a married couple in exchange for being allowed to have sex twice a week with the woman — who claimed…she was kept as a “sex slave.”  Exotic dancer Valerie Surette claimed that…Nick Nicholson…“begged” her last year to “move in and have sex with him,” offering her “very large sums of money” in return…Surette said she eventually agreed to the alleged arrangement — which also included her [husband] Kendel Surette [living] in [Nicholson’s] home…Nicholson paid the couple $100 to have sex with Surrette on Tuesdays and $200 on Saturdays…But things got increasingly worrisome, she [said], claiming the pol made her engage in uncomfortable or painful sex acts that wasn’t part of the deal…

In other words, she made a bad deal and stupidly decided to call in the pigs rather than just ending it like an adult.  Sounds to me like these three assholes deserved each other.

Imaginary Evils (#348)

This sounds like a pretty typical cult; are we now going to retroactively label all of them “sex trafficking”?

Allison Mack…best known for a role in the TV series Smallville…entered a plea of not guilty to sex trafficking and forced labor charges which carry mandatory minimum sentences of 15 years and could lead to life in jail…senior members of an alleged cult known as Nxivm…[were allegedly] instrumental in forcing new recruits to conform to the sexual demands of leader Keith Raniere.  The government alleges that so-called Nxivm “slaves” were forced to starve; ordered to remain celibate; and held down as Raniere’s initials were branded below their hips with a cauterizing pen…

Legislators Gone Wild (#409) 

Every so often the Nevada brothels are threatened by zealots, often making these same dumb claims about stigma:

…The group calling itself “No Little Girl” is petitioning to close the legal brothels in Lyon County, and remove the livelihood of hundreds of women…they make claims that…prostitution is inherently violence against women…[and] cite…data that either has been debunked or has nothing to do with legal prostitution.  The handful of individuals that submitted the petition represent faith-based organizations, and seem to be more concerned with pushing their specific moral agenda…The group suggests that large tech companies won’t move to the county…because of the…brothels, but…Lance Gilman, owner of the Mustang Ranch…helped bring Tesla to Nevada.  The massive Tesla Gigafactory is located seven miles from the Mustang Ranch…Concerning the safety of women in the brothels, the website cites Melissa Farley…

The Immunity Syndrome (#747)

This outcome was obvious once Trump appointed Huber to HHS:

The Trump administration will shift federal funding aimed at reducing teen pregnancy rates to programs…that [push] abstinence [propaganda upon] teens instead of [actual] sex ed…The Obama administration mostly awarded TPP grants to organizations that taught comprehensive sex education, which…[nonetheless was forced by federal law to include propaganda promoting] abstinence.  But the Trump administration has been shifting toward [pure] abstinence programs since hiring…Valerie Huber, the chief of staff for the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health, which oversees the TPP program.  Prior to coming to HHS, Huber led Ascend, a national abstinence [propaganda] group…

The Immunity Syndrome (#757)

The last attempt to start hysteria over this also involved exactly three cases:

A man in the UK who caught the world’s “worst-ever” case of super-gonorrhoea has been cured…He picked up the superbug having sex with [an amateur] in South East Asia…It was the first-ever case of the infection being incurable with first choice antibiotics, but now two similar cases have been reported in Australia…The main antibiotic treatment – a combination of azithromycin and ceftriaxone – failed to treat the disease…he has since been [successfully] treated with ertapenem

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic (#792) 

Charlatans who profit from the “sex addiction” myth are fighting hard to keep the gravy train rolling:

…sex addiction…[is] a vice masquerading as a pathology, an excuse dressed up as an illness.  It’s not a condition that is recognised by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders [DSM], the bible of the American Psychiatric Association.  There are no physical symptoms of withdrawal, as there are with…[actual] addiction…However, [charlatans] in the field speak of a growing sexual addiction “pandemic” that a mixture of shame and misunderstanding has kept hidden.  Paula Hall…[claims] the publicity surrounding recent high-profile scandals has been detrimental to an understanding of what she [pretends] is a very real and growing problem…Hall insists the debate about whether or not sex addiction is [real]…misses the point…

Ever notice how people who profit from these scams (the War on Drugs being a good example) never bow out quietly and save face?  Nope, they just keep doubling down, so now this neurologically absurd concept is no longer just an epidemic, but a pandemic!  You know, like the Black Death.

Whither Canada? (#810)

To their credit, the Young Liberals have been pushing for repeal of Canada’s version of the Swedish model since the law first passed:

…the current Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, which prohibits the purchasing of sex, does little to protect sex workers and instead pushes them to work underground and in dangerous conditions; the current prohibition of buying consensual sex…creates a climate that makes sex workers unlikely to work with the police and be involved with more serious crimes; BE IT RESOLVED​ the Liberal Party of Canada repeal the 2014 Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, begin a consultation period with those in the sex work industry and advocacy groups, and move to decriminalize consensual sex work, and the purchase of said sex work, for those over the age of 18…

If this resolution passes and the Liberals stay in power, this could be a huge step forward for sex worker rights.

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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.

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