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Posts Tagged ‘Sisters In Arms’

If you believe that selling sex means selling women, you believe that a woman’s value equals her capacity to have sex.  –  Kate Heartfield

The Slave-Whore Fantasy Timothy Jay Vafeades

Yet another example of what  real sex slavery looks like:

A Utah truck driver kept sex slaves in his semitrailer for months at a time while he traveled the country, filing down their teeth, forcing them to alter their appearance and beating them until they nearly passed out…The charges against [Timothy Jay Vafeades] include kidnapping, [Mann Act violations] and possession of child pornography, and could bring a life sentence if he is convicted…

Sisters in Arms

When I miscarried at 22 weeks in 1994, the cops weren’t even informed, much less involved.  If that happened today, it might be very different (especially if I weren’t white).  This detailed article on the Rennie Gibbs case touches on other, similar travesties, but also establishes the case as part of the pattern of willful incompetence perpetrated by Steven Hayne, Mississippi prosecutors’ go-to medical examiner for over 20 years because he was willing to declare just about anything a murder without the slightest scrap of valid scientific basis.  Veteran Agitator readers will no doubt remember Hayne, whom Radley Balko wrote about many times.

Surplus Women

Prohibitionists use a young woman’s murder as an excuse to deny her agency and talk about short skirts:

A…nonprofit that works with sex workers is holding a candlelight vigil for a 21-year-old woman whose naked body was found last week on a conveyor belt inside an Anaheim [California] trash-sorting facility…No Boundaries International…said they had frequent contact with Jarrae Nykkole Estepp in Oklahoma City in 2012, when she was featured in several videos…on…JohnTV.com…Detectives believe the woman was probably [murdered, then] dumped in a garbage bin and…delivered to the plant by a trash truck…

See No Evil

Graphic illustrations of child molestation in a vintage book have landed librarians in…Sweden in…trouble with police…I Last Och Lust…contains illustrations…to show how sexuality has been depicted historically…head librarian [Anna-Karin Axelsson said]…”We cannot go back and clean up history…that’s not what libraries are meant to do”…the title [will now] be kept for…research only…

Hark, Hark, the Dogs Do BarkFree To Be You and Me

On March 11, 1974, ABC aired Marlo Thomas’ “Free to Be…You and Me” — a musical program celebrating gender-free children…and…[envisioning] a world…[of] non-gendered human persons…But, after 40 years of gender activism, boys and girls show few signs of liking to do the same things.  From the earliest age, boys show a distinct preference for active outdoor play…with…clearly defined winners and losers…[while] girls…are more drawn to imaginative theatrical games…the…preferences…hold cross-culturally and even cross-species…ignoring differences between boys and girls can be just as damaging as creating differences where none exist…

Above the Law 

Another week, another rapist cop:

A San Jose [California] police officer has been arrested and charged with raping a woman…after she had argued with her husband…  Geoffrey Graves…and three other…officers responded to a [domestic violence call]…the woman…[said] she wanted to spend the night at a hotel…Graves…[followed her] to her room…and…[forcibly] raped her…Police Chief Larry Esquivel called the case…”an isolated incident”…

It’s so very isolated that I have another one right here:

Sheriff’s deputies arrested [an]…Irwindale police sergeant on suspicion of sexually assaulting a woman…David Paul Fraijo…stopped [a newspaper carrier on her route, then groped and orally raped her]…the [resulting] lawsuit…was [settled] in January…for $400,000…Fraijo faces a maximum penalty of life in…prison…

Some cops don’t even “isolate” their attentions to one woman at a time:

A U.S. Border Patrol agent [who raped] three undocumented immigrants was found dead in his Texas home, likely by his own hand…a…woman…told officials that [Esteban Manzanares] had attacked her, her 14-year-old daughter, and another 14-year-old girl…She and [her daughter] had been raped and left for dead…[Manzanares tied up the other girl in his home] until he finished his shift…then returned…raped her, and committed suicide…

An Example to the West 

Megan Schmidt-Sane and Meena Seshu respond to rescue industry types:

In a CNN piece…last year…Jane Wells and John-Keith Wasson…blatantly ignore the voices of sex workers…As representatives of two of the largest sex worker rights organizations in India and Uganda, we hope to ensure that [their] voices…are heard…Wells and Wasson…cite imaginary statistics…[and] falsely state that a “small percentage of voluntary sex workers” are somehow condemning a vast number of women into sexual slavery…

Broken Record

The latest gypsy whore tale is among the funniest yet:  “High school tournament season in Des Moines…[has] a dark side…human trafficking victimizes over 25 million…worldwide each year…The state of Iowa is not immune to this crime…”  Yes, 4% of the world’s population has been “sex trafficked” since the hysteria started, many at high school football games.

Pull the String!

Turns out Ed Wood made a few commercials in the late ‘40s, before he embarked on his movie career; note that these are generic so the local sponsor could insert a card for his specific business.  Look for Wood himself as the magician in the last one.

King of the Hill

Two for one!

…the film Chosen…was produced by Shared Hope International…and portrays true experiences of two young All American girls who were lured into sex trafficking…Oregon and Washington along the Interstate 5 corridor leads the nation in the number of victims…

Lying Down With Dogs (TW3 #44)

A group of Tunisian sex workers have demanded to be allowed to return to work, 18 months after their brothel in the coastal town of Sousse was attacked by Salafists and closed down.  A delegation …[presented] a petition signed by 120 women calling for their brothel…to be allowed to reopen…

Skin To Skin

The Netherlands is known for its social subsidies on everything from education to housing, but it’s also subsidizing sex for the disabled…While there is no direct “sex grant” per se…benefits…can be spent however they like…social workers, caretakers and affected individuals are calling for increased access to sex services for citizens with disabilities…

First They Came for the Hookers… (TW3 #322) Reema Bajaj

The spectacle of lawyers censuring other lawyers for lying probably exceeds safe levels of irony for a public facility:

The Illinois Supreme Court has agreed to a three-year suspension for a solo lawyer who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of prostitution and failed to disclose her illegal work history on her bar application.  Reema Nicki Bajaj…was suspended [for not mentioning sex work she did to put herself through law school]…in response to a question about jobs she held in the last 10 years…

Wise Investment (TW3 #335)

An agreement has been reached with the City of Vancouver and the provincial and federal governments to pay $50,000 to each of 11 families whose relatives were victimized by serial killer Robert Pickton…The civil suit was launched last May by the children of four women whose remains…were found on  Pickton’s…farm after his arrest in 2002.  Other families had since joined…The lawsuit claimed police…failed to warn women on the Downtown Eastside that a serial killer may have been on the loose…

Buttons, Bags & Banknotes

Jerry Barnett…of…Sex & Censorship, said he was “delighted” with the turnout at the “Don’t Censor Me!” protest…against the Stop Porn Culture conference, including representatives from the English Collective of Prostitutes, the Sex Worker Open University and Queer Strike campaign groups…Stop Porn Culture [leaders]…Gail Dines and…Julie Bindel…aim…to expand the “antipornography feminist movement” in the U.K…Dines and Bindel appeared outside…to debate with the…crowd…for about 15 minutes…

Catastrophic Consequences (TW3 #406)

Police carried out inspections of Edinburgh’s…saunas hours before a new system came into force that is likely to make brothel raids more difficult…police will [now] need a warrant to search premises…Margo MacDonald MSP said…”Last year’s raids have backfired badly on the police…There was a successful policy in place for 30 years, but now the women have less protection and police will have less access to intelligence.  Trust has been shattered”…

Gingerbread House (All Traffick, All the Time) arrested teen girl

If a sex worker doesn’t see herself as a victim, the state must victimize her to prove her wrong:

A [Florida] bill…was temporarily postponed after senators determined that placing human trafficking victims in a locked facility is not a good idea…The…bill…was created by the House Healthy Families Subcommittee, where…[its sponsor] said…[it] was designed to break young trafficking victims away from former lives…“So many of [them] don’t see themselves as victims”…

An earlier version of the story informs us that “Florida [has] the third-highest rate of child sex-trafficking in the country.  Jacksonville is third in the state…

Traffic Jam (All Traffick, All the Time)

More busybodies who want to help cops brutalize and cage women:

…three St. Louis area women…are developing a website of hotel room photographs that can be accessed by police…hoping to track down…victims of sex trafficking…and their pimps…millions of [sex workers post]…pictures of [themselves in] their rooms [in their Backpage ads]…the website is in initial development and needs about $200,000 in funding.  When it is ready, images…will be cataloged by hotel name, city and date taken and possibly made searchable by room color or other basic decor…

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #408)

The European Parliament recently recommended that its member states should criminalise sex work.  This has prompted 26 Danish researchers to sign a protest letter against the proposal, as they believe that…politicians have ignored the majority of the research in this field, including reports from the UN, WHO and Human Rights Watch, who all recommend a decriminalisation of sex work…

Traffic Jam (TW3 #409)

The ACLU actually did something for sex workers for a change:

Dozens of supporters packed the courtroom…in support of…activist Monica Jones…[whose] lawyer filed a motion to challenge [the law] on constitutional grounds, resulting in the trial being postponed until April 11th.  Ms. Jones [stated], “We will be back with twice as many people”…Sex Workers’ Outreach Project (SWOP) of Phoenix is continuing to build momentum for Monica Jones’ case with the support of the ACLU motion…

The Public Eye (TW3 #410)

Noah Berlatsky proves himself a valuable ally to sex workers with another good article in The Atlantic, this one using the hubbub surrounding Belle Knox to launch a sensible and well-informed discussion of student sex workers which also quotes Melissa Gira Grant and regular reader Christina Parreira.

Whither Canada?

The Canadian government’s consultation on prostitution laws ended on Monday, but it hardly seems likely to have much influence over politicians, who have already decided to pursue some form of criminalization instead of listening to the sensible advice of sex workers, human rights advocates and even many criminologists.  By the public discourse, one would think the New Zealand model didn’t even exist; editorials like that in the Globe and Mail pretend that the only two legislative models in the world are the Dutch and Swedish modelsdisguised cop (which criminalize either some or all sales of sex, respectively).  And though a sizeable fraction of the members of the Liberal Party (whose past leader Pierre Trudeau famously said, “There’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation”) support decriminalization, a motion to adopt that as official policy was pulled in the name of political expediency.  So though most of the Canadian media oppose blanket criminalization (even under its fake-moustache Swedish disguise), only the Ottawa Citizen has come out in favor of full decriminalization:

…supporters of the Nordic model…say [prostitution] is a commodity sale [that] is inherently objectifying and exploitative…A woman who believes she is freely choosing her job…is a victim whether she knows it or not…that same notion underpins many of the world’s most sexist ideas — including the idea…that rape is a property crime.  We in Canada don’t generally talk about rape that way any more, but we still use that language when we talk about prostitution.  We use phrases like “selling her body” or even “selling herself” — rather than “selling sex”…We don’t say that a hairstylist “sells her hands” or that a doctor “sells herself”…a woman’s value as a human being has nothing to do with whom she chooses to have sex with or how often or what conditions she imposes on that choice…sex is merely the service she sells…

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You need to tailor your response to the reality. You should not tailor your response to the hype.  –  Ann Jordan

R.I.P. Robyn Few

The founder of SWOP-USA died Thursday (September 13th) at the age of 54 after a long battle with cancer.  She became an activist for HIV and medical marijuana in the early 1990s, but prostitution was at that time simply a way to pay the bills ; that changed after she was targeted for her activism by FBI and arrested in June of 2002.  In October of the following year she founded SWOP-USA on the model of SWOP Australia, and just two months later helped Dr. Annie Sprinkle organize the first Day To End Violence Against Sex Workers.  Biographical details are scarce, but I’m trying to get a proper obituary together for her for this Monday.

Updates

He or She?

Sometimes, men’s transgender paranoia is so severe it can lead to violence:

…20-year-old Christian Ariel Romero met [a] 41-year-old [transgendered prostitute]…and…offered [her] money for sex, Montgomery County police said…[but] when Romero discovered his companion was a man, he…repeatedly stabbed the victim…The judge set bail at $500,000, which [Romero’s lawyer] called harsh…“The defendant is a person who’s 20 years old, never done anything wrong in his entire life.  And the person who is on the other side is…a prostitute…with a track record, a history…”

As is typical in stories involving transgendered people, everyone dances around pronouns and facts are sparse or contradictory; the reporter says the victim was a “man” but she may have been a pre-op transsexual.  And the lawyer’s insinuation that the victim somehow deserved a murderous assault is “NHI” thinking at its most repellent.

All in the Family

Robin Hustle has a great deal more patience than I do; if I had a story of coming out to parents who were in denial about my sex work, I certainly wouldn’t tell it on Jezebel.  The article is intelligent, well-written, right on and even funny, but of course the comments are largely what you’d expect (starting with the very first one, which basically accuses her of lying).  No thanks; I learned my lesson with Feministe.

Follow Your Bliss

A disproportionate number of perverts, rapists and pedophiles have been discovered in a job which allows them to grope and fondle women and children with impunity in public.  Golly gee, who could’ve predicted that?

Crystal Ball

As I predicted, a few journalists are beginning to question the “sex trafficking” hype; though this article reprinted from Christian Science Monitor overstates the credibility of some of the fanatics’ claims and quotes professional victim Stella Marr at length, it also interviews prominent trafficking hysteria critic Ann Jordan, criticizes celebrity opportunists like Ashton Kutcher and flatly states that the scare-figures are wildly exaggerated:

…the…statistic…that there are 100,000 to 300,000 sex slaves in the US – figures repeated by interviewers, blogs, TV hosts and…movie stars…are wrong…the number of actual sex-trafficking victims has been estimated by the US government to be in the tens of thousands, but even those numbers have been criticized as unfounded and far too high; between 2008 and 2010, federally funded human-trafficking task forces opened 2,515 suspected incidents of human trafficking for investigation.  Among those cases, only 248 suspected sex-trafficking victims under the age of 18 were identified…Hype over such high and inaccurate numbers of “child sex slaves” leads to a misguided response at best…At worst, it siphons financial resources away from preventing other sorts of human trafficking…[and] undermines solutions to problems…that lead to exploited youth in the first place…

Bottleneck

Cause:  Making it essentially impossible for brothels to operate legally.  Effect:  Lots of illegal brothels.

…Elena Jeffreys said when sex work was decriminalised 16 years ago, local councils were given the job of regulating the industry…but…they are now knocking back brothels on moral grounds…”Their job is to regulate the sex industry, not just to blanket knock back every single (brothel) application they get.  There’s some local councils in NSW that have never approved a brothel application and then they wonder why there’s brothels in their suburb that are unapproved”…Ms Jeffreys said there were more than 6000 sex workers in the state and most people would have lived near a brothel or a sex worker at some point without knowing it…

Capricious Lusts

I don’t think I’ve ever seen an American sex worker activist (other than myself) make this enlightened point:

…Controversial model-actress [Gehana Vasisth] recently tweeted that she wanted to open a…high class hygienic brothel where men could come and satisfy themselves…with professional, medically certified commercial sex workers…According to Gehana, legalising prostitution and pornography in India – like it is in the West – will help reduce crimes against women drastically.  “If men can satisfy their carnal desires without any restriction, rape and other crimes against women will be reduced,” she explained…

Metaupdates

How Old is Oldest? in June Updates (Part Three)

Over a year after the controversy which caused his break with Psychology Today, evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa is back with a new blog entitled E pur si muove on a relatively new website named Big Think.  And though his debut is not without controversy even there, Kanazawa’s “about” blurb states:

E pur si muove is about science.  Science is the accumulation of pure knowledge for its own sake; it has no other goals or purposes.  In science, only logic and evidence are the arbitrators of the truth; nothing else matters.  No scientific conclusions can ever be good or bad, desirable or undesirable, sexist, racist, offensive, reactionary or dangerous; they can only be true or false.  No other adjectives apply.  If the truth offends people, it is our job as scientists to offend them.  In the memorable words of David Hilbert, Wir müssen wissen, wir werden wissen.  If what I say as a scientist is wrong, because it is illogical or lacks credible scientific evidence, then it is my problem.  If what I say offends you, then it is your problem.  Get over it.  Prepare to be offended.

And really, that’s pretty much my attitude in this blog as well; I wish Dr. Kanazawa the best of luck with his new site and hope Big Think proves to be more dedicated to free speech than Psychology Today has proven itself to be.

Hard Numbers in TW3 (#16)

Whenever it looks like something might be decriminalized (such as brothel ownership in Brazil), you can bet the police will launch as many “crackdowns” as possible before their window of opportunity closes:

On the eve of June 14…armed members of [Rio’s] Police…and  public prosecutor’s office arrived at a brothel called Centauros…[where] they arrested prostitutes, management and the owner, seized documents, computers…used condoms…and…$150,000…in cash.  The owner…spent a week at a maximum security prison.  The prostitutes were released the same night and found work at other upscale brothels…Quite a lot of drama when you consider that prostitution is not actually a crime in Brazil…But as Rio de Janeiro prepares for its turn on the global stage – as the host of the World Cup in 2014, then the 2016 Summer Olympics – the city is taking drastic action to keep its thriving sex industry out of the spotlight.  Rio has already shuttered 24 sex establishments…and…another 33 venues have been threatened or harassed by the police…It’s the biggest crackdown…in a generation…according to anthropologists Thaddeus Blanchette and Ana Paula da Silva, who have been studying prostitution in Rio since 2004 and have authored almost 20 academic papers on [the subject]…

Prudish Pedants in TW3 (#18)

Keep in mind, California is still under a SCOTUS mandate to reduce its prison population, yet this persecution for profit continues:

Fetish filmmaker and distributor Ira Isaacs’ sentencing was put on hold last month because federal prosecutors intended to present evidence to support…a two-level increase in sentencing…[for] federal crime[s] where the defendant knew or should have known that a victim involved in an offense was a “vulnerable victim”…presumably [this means] an actor or actors involved in films deemed obscene…prosecutors have recommended that Isaacs serve a term of up to seven years and three months in prison, as well as a three-year term of supervised release and a $10,000 fine…[the court also stole] all of his websites…copyrights…computers, servers, props and video equipment.

Against Their Will in TW3 (#20)

Another win-win situation ruined by busybodies:

The Malay Mail reports [that a] car wash in…Kuala Lumpur…had formed a partnership with a local massage parlour, enabling customers to redeem free sex from the brothel as part of a customer loyalty scheme…police stormed the parlour and found several stamped loyalty cards that had been used by customers…officer Emmi Shah Fadhil [said]…“To get the extra ‘offer’, customers must send their cars for washing nine times within a certain period…The tenth car wash will entitle them to free sex.”  The parlour would usually charge between 130 and 180 Malaysian Ringgit ($40-$55) – cheaper than the $65 price for a full-service car wash.  Prostitution is illegal in Malaysia.  As a result of the raid, nine Vietnamese women aged between 18 and 28 were arrested.

Actually prostitution isn’t illegal in Malaysia; only public solicitation is.  However, for the past four years the Malaysian government has been engaged in a campaign to violently suppress brothels under the guise of “fighting human trafficking” in order to win a pat on the head and a “good doggie” from the US State Department.

See No Evil in TW3 (#24)

An anti-sex fanatic’s crusade to criminalize a lump of bronze continues:

…a bare-breasted sculpture in an Overland Park arboretum has triggered a grand jury investigation into whether the city is promoting obscenity to minors.  The artwork, titled “Accept or Reject” and donated by Chinese artist Yu Chang, depicts…what the artist statement says is the incomplete identity expressed in one’s digital self — critics contend it promotes “sexting” to children…”The statue appeals to an unwholesome obsession with a sexual act” [said petition sponsor Phillip] Cosby…who calls sexting “the most under-prosecuted crime in America”…

Anybody who claims that any crime (other than those committed under color of authority) in America is “under-prosecuted” is certifiably insane.

Sisters in Arms in TW3 (#29)

If abortion is criminalized, do people really want women who get them imprisoned?  Or will this turn into another Swedish Model-like agency-denying thing which only persecutes abortion providers (and maybe men who urge or pay for them)?

Broken Record in TW3 (#32)

Here’s a long but must-read essay by Georgina Perry of Open Doors, a London health organization serving sex workers; she explains how Olympic “sex trafficking” hysteria was amplified by politicians, the police, the media and others, and collapsed when one especially vociferous NGO lost its main source of funding:

For the last three years I’ve been…relegated from a professional considered knowledgeable in her field, to a noisy troublemaker, determined to rail against received wisdom.  I’ve had the data I assiduously collect, analyse and make public quoted back to me by law enforcement agencies, the media and NGOs but with clumsy interpretations skewed to strengthen a particular rhetoric…as the 2012 London Olympics drew inexorably towards us, the whole of the UK suddenly became an expert on my job…[the]experience…left me cynical and at times speechless at the sheer effrontery of those who stood to gain from talking up a story that…is not, has not and is unlikely to ever be a reality…

Naked Truth in TW3 (#35)

Melissa Gira Grant was interviewed on “Behind the News with Doug Henwood” on public radio station KPFA in Berkeley, California this past Thursday; she talked about the rescue industry, agency denial and the neofeminist anti-sex work agenda (starting at 30:00).

This Week in 2011

How “feminist” laws infantilize or pathologize women, how Arianna Huffington panders to hysteria, how politicians judge others but never themselves, and why only some religions have freedom.  Also, an Algerian tribe in which prostitution was normal and accepted and an essay on whores in the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs.

This Week in 2010

The importance of caring for husbands sexually, the woman known to history as “The Yellow Rose of Texas”, a few book reviews, a story I wrote when I was 18, “whoredar”, and a little about my lesbian experiences.

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Those who would criminalise prostitutes seem oddly keen to eliminate true voices of experience from the discussion.  –  Brooke Magnanti

All Shapes and Sizes

Res ipsa loquitur:

…Jonah Falcon was stopped…by the TSA at the San Francisco International Airport…because of a bulging package hidden in his pants…the world’s largest recorded penis…[which is] 9 inches flaccid, 13.5 inches erect…”[A] guard…asked me if I had some sort of growth…I said, ‘It’s my dick’…He gave me a pat down but made sure to go around [my penis] with his hands.  They even put some powder on my pants, probably a test for explosives”…

The Camel’s Nose

Congress’ new strategy is to enact SOPA piece by piece so it doesn’t attract so much attention; though the Intellectual Property Attaché Act is mostly cultural imperialism like the “Trafficking in Persons Report”, it also creates yet another unelected “czar” with dictatorial powers.  Luckily, a group called the Internet Defense League (whose members include Public Knowledge, Reddit, Mozilla and the Electronic Frontier Foundation) was launched on July 19th; its purpose is to monitor threats to internet freedom and then spread the word and organize mass resistance (like the protests that stopped SOPA) whenever necessary.

Lying Down With Dogs

It’s always interesting to see how closely American anti-whore rhetoric resembles that of nations which are not exactly advanced or Western:

Lusaka Province Minister Gerry Chanda [rejected] calls by some members of the public to legalise prostitution…[because it] is illegal…cannot be tolerated…[and] is alien to Zambia…Inspector-General of Police Stella Libongani described sex workers as a “public nuisance” and warned them with arrest if found loitering on the streets…

Bone of Contention

So, aren’t vandalism and indecent exposure already illegal for everyone without a special law just for whores?

More than 40 [street sign] poles have been bent, buckled or broken in the past 18 months in one area of south Auckland, New Zealand… “Prostitutes use these street sign poles as dancing poles,” said [a member of the city council.  The claim appears in a pamphlet]…detailing frustrations of residents and businesses struggling to cope with [streetwalkers and calling]…on parliament…to give Auckland Council powers to ban sex workers from certain areas…other…incidents [include]…a transvestite [ramming] a supermarket trolley into a woman’s car before lying across the bonnet, and a school-bus full of children observing a transvestite changing her dress…

Sisters in Arms

Considering America’s grotesque inflation of penalties for every conceivable “crime”, what will happen if abortion is eventually recriminalized?

38 states have passed laws that create a crime for causing the death of a fetus…23 of which apply at the earliest stages of pregnancy.  What we have now is a what Professor Angela Davis calls a “prison industrial complex”:  a system of for-profit prisons so hungry for more inmates that it drives immigration policy, and pays off judges to fill jail cells with children…[and] so bloated that rural economies have become dependent upon the influx of inmates…since the 1970s, the rate of incarceration for women has increased over 700%.  We have lawmakers admit that they believe that women should face “serious” criminal penalties for having abortions.  We have so dismantled the right to privacy that state-mandated technological surveillance can literally invade women’s bodies.  We have Kafkaesque bedside interrogations and arrests of women who fall down stairs when they admit ambivalence about…single motherhood…two women…are [now] facing murder trials for losing pregnancies…Bei Bei Shuai…[and] Rennie Gibbs

Against Their Will

A new report by two Indian authors has poked holes into the “raid, rescue, and rehabilitation” schemes…targeting sex workers.  The report, titled We Have the Right Not To Be “Rescued”…says, “Contrary to the purported goal of assisting women, the anti-trafficking projects…often undermine HIV projects…causing harm to women and girls.”  The report alleges that [police raids on] brothels…are often violent.  Cases of sexual assault and rape and sodomy have also been reported during such actions…Research from Indonesia and India has indicated that sex workers who are rounded up during police raids are beaten, coerced into having sex [and]…placed in institutions where they are sexually exploited or physically abused.  The raids also drive sex workers onto the streets, where they are more vulnerable to violence…

An Ounce of Prevention

It looks as though an AIDS vaccine is finally within reach:

…a 2009 clinical trial in Thailand…tested Sanofi’s ALVAC, a weakened canary pox virus used to sneak three HIV genes into the body, and AIDSVAX, a vaccine originally made by Roche Holding’s Genentech that carried an HIV surface protein.  Both vaccines had poor showings in individual trials…[but] the…combination cut HIV infections by 31.2 per cent…Preparations are under way for a follow-up trial testing beefed-up versions of the vaccines among heterosexuals in South Africa and [homosexual] men…in Thailand…

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic

Dr. Marty Klein not only explodes the myth of “sex addiction”, but also explains why it’s such a destructive paradigm:

…“Sex addiction” is a special weapon now used…to ignore science…ignite fear [and]…legitimize anti-sex moralism and bigotry.  And psychologists, judges, legislators, and the media are buying it…the sex addiction movement…did not arise from…sex therapy or any other sexuality-related field.  Rather, it was started in 1983 by Patrick Carnes, who…claims no training in human sexuality.  “Sex addiction” has been adopted enthusiastically by the addiction community, and to a lesser extent by the marriage and family profession—the latter historically undertrained and uncomfortable with sexuality…Of course, the media loves it, decency groups love it, and those who identify as some other kind of addict…love it, especially if they’re fans of the Twelve Steps…

If you still think some people are really “addicted” to sex, Dr. Klein suggests you take the Sexual Addiction Screening Test (SAST).  You may be surprised how high you score, but you shouldn’t be; “sex addiction” rhetoric pathologizes normal sexual feelings and behaviors.  As Dr. Klein points out, what the test really measures is whether you grew up in a sex-negative culture.  The article is well worth reading in its entirety, especially for its debunking of inane claims about “brain areas” and “erototoxins”.

Much Ado About Nothing

I guess the media must be bored with hooker “scandals”, because this report of T-men paying for women with government funds didn’t make the news; we’re told they won’t even lose their  jobs because the activity “didn’t include underage prostitutes or human trafficking.”  You know, just like 96.5% of the sex work persecuted in this country doesn’t.

The Pygmalion Fallacy

Here’s a trailer for a new documentary named The Mechanical Bride, narrated by the legendary Julie Newmar.

The Birth of a Movement

In the process of critiquing a French miniseries about the maisons closes, Dr. Brooke Magnanti has some illuminating comments about the historical reality ignored by the creators of the melodrama:

…Prostitutes moved between brothels and changed names often to avoid detection…the notion that girls…could not, and did not, shop around for management is absurd…the drama is an uncomfortable union of modern agendas superimposed on a historical setting.  Since it’s in the past, there are no inconvenient contemporary sex workers to show the complex reality of prostitution and spoil the abolitionist fantasy…

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?

…Harmony Rose…has been featured in more than 200 pornographic videos…[but] has…left the adult entertainment industry…and [is] training as a volunteer EMT…in Roanoke, VA…Fire Chief Rich Burch learned about Rose’s previous career…[and] contacted the…County Attorney…[who] noted, “Anything that results in public ridicule of the volunteer squads…must be avoided”…[and] that Burch “supports the decision of the volunteer chief if she decides to terminate the membership of [Rose].”  The community, however, seems to be on Rose’s side.  Of the over 500 comments that appear under the story on WDBJ’s Facebook page, nearly all support Rose’s continued work with the rescue squad…

Metaupdates

For Those Who Think Legalization is a Good Idea in August Updates

As in Canada, Indian politicians feel compelled to defend tyranny by opposing court orders to decriminalize prostitution:

The Supreme Court…agreed to examine [the federal government’s] plea that sex workers should not be allowed to operate…”with dignity” as suggested by a panel…[the] solicitor general [argued]…that any such endorsement…would go contrary to the…Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act which bans prostitution in toto…He also wanted the bench to remove…Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee from the panel…[the defense argued] that the Act only prohibited brothel activities and…pimps…[and that] if a sex worker carries out the activities on her own volition, [they are] not…illegal…

Traffic Jam in TW3 (#21)

Emi Koyama examines the increasing redefinition of “sex trafficking” into a “gang-related” activity, including this ridiculous “pimp classification” system dreamed up by cops and prohibitionists.  She persuasively argues that “What is ignored in all of these discussions of the (racially coded) evils of ‘gangs’ is that many young men…become gang members and engage in its criminal activities for many of the same reasons many young women…[enter] the sex trade: poverty, failure of social and child welfare systems and public education, lack of viable economic opportunities…what is the moral difference between a young woman who is told to go out and sell sex, and a young man who is told to go out and sell drugs? And yet, the mainstream anti-trafficking discourse would have us believe that the young woman is an innocent victim but the young man is an evil criminal…

Feminine Pragmatism in TW3 (#23)

It’s like watching someone repeatedly hitting her own fingers with a hammer:

Nadya Suleman…allegedly signed a contract…[with] T’s Lounge…in West Palm Beach, Fla…But after some teasing by a T’s staffer on TV, Suleman bailed on the deal, and now plans to make her…debut at a rival strip club instead.  That’s grounds for a lawsuit…[because] the…contract…barred Suleman from being booked at any other strip club within 50 miles, 90 days before or after her gigs at T’s…Suleman’s manager maintains the contract was not valid, because T’s never forked over…[the] deposit fee…

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs in TW3 (#27)

First Guyana, now Singapore; let’s hope this list gets much longer:  “The Singapore government has lashed out at the United States over its human trafficking report…[due to] a number of ‘inaccuracies and misrepresentations’…

The Course of a Disease in TW3 (#28)

Sex workers aren’t the only ones angry over the French women’s minister’s prohibitionist crusade:

…How disappointing…that Vallaud-Belkacem’s most publicised policy announcement to date has been a pledge to “see prostitution disappear”…cynics would consider Vallaud-Belkacem’s grand plan a naive one, and typical of those that give radical governments a bad name.  Working girls in Paris…accused her of trying to drive a relatively well regulated industry underground…[and] Muslims…[hoped for repeal of] the crassly tagged “burqa ban”…Rather than presiding over job losses for…women, Vallaud-Belkacem should be…working to try to improve the lot of all women…

This Week in 2011

Head Games” describes the ways some clients try to control calls, and “July Miscellanea” featured items on a snooping gadget, another politician’s underwear photos, a woman getting plastic surgery to look like a drag queen & the suspension of the “anti-prostitution pledge” for domestic organizations.  “A Girl Who Can’t Say No” explains why I invest so much time in my work; “Social Construction of Eunuchs” examines people willing to sacrifice their childrens’ happiness to “social construction of gender”; “Concubine”  is a fictional interlude that you may find a bit disquieting; “Bootlickers” uses a campaign against bikini baristas to illustrate public collaboration with tyranny, and “J’accuse” was my first column on Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

This Week in 2010

What’s In a Name?” explains the many reasons whores use stage names; it was followed by “Couples” (a two-part column about couple calls), then “Modern Marriage”, which examines the reason for the high divorce rate.  “The Trick” was my very first fictional interlude, “The Myth of the Wanton” discusses the belief that women are more lustful than men, and “Just Drawn That Way”  looks at the complex motivations behind female sexuality.

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A man is likely to mind his own business when it is worth minding. When it is not, he takes his mind off his own meaningless affairs by minding other people’s business.  –  Eric Hoffer

Eleven updates and two metaupdates.

Election Day (November 2nd, 2010)

The campaign to ban police and prosecutors from using condoms as “evidence of prostitution” is ramping up; last week a group of public health and human rights advocates spoke to the New York legislature, and supporters now have their own website.  Find out what you can do to help end this public health nightmare; success in New York will reinforce efforts in other states.

Maggie in the Media (February 3rd, 2011)

My column on the Secret Service scandal attracted quite a lot of media attention.  Last Friday James Wolcott of Vanity Fair quoted me, writing “Maggie McNeill, whose always provocative and independent-thinking blog The Honest Courtesan provides “a whore’s-eye view on current events,” is unable to stifle a yawn over the unholy fuss being made over the Secret Service  agent and the underpaid escort, which has flowered into a hothouse scandal…”  On that same day I spoke to Abby Ellin of ABC News, whose story appeared on Monday:

“If it had happened here, the woman couldn’t have gone to the police and said, ‘These guys are trying to cheat me out of money.’  Instead, she would have been hurt and cheated, and Mr. Agent Man would have gone home and patted himself on the back for having gotten one over on her,” said Maggie McNeill, a former New Orleans call girl and the founder of The Honest Courtesan.

She also wrote:

But while they acknowledge the potential dangers to national security, sex workers in the United States think the “breach” argument is another form of discrimination against prostitutes.  “If the issue is attracting attention or bragging about being in the security detail, then it would be a problem if they brought in any outsider,” said McNeill.  “If that’s the case, then what difference does it make if she’s a prostitute or an accountant?”

The next day, Newstrack India drew on the ABC story for its own report, which said:  “Maggie McNeill, a former New Orleans call girl and the founder of The Honest Courtesan, and others have said that the policy was ridiculous, and that criminalizing prostitution was not only a human rights violation, but also a safety and labour issue.”  Meanwhile, I was contacted by the producer of The O’Reilly Factor to be on Tuesday’s show, but I didn’t want to show my face on national television and O’Reilly understandably wanted someone he could look in the eye; instead they got Sienna Baskin of the Sex Workers Project, whom I am told held her own very well (probably better than I could’ve, because O’Reilly would almost certainly have flustered me).

Not the Same Tree (February 18th, 2011)

Northern Ireland has railroaded convicted its first “sex trafficker”:

Matyas Pis was…convicted of controlling prostitution…The [two] women said they asked…Pis to book their air tickets, and he provided them with an apartment…Judge Burgess said the women were not being held against their will, but he could not ignore that “human trafficking is a global problem and we should not be blind to the fact that it is happening right now in Northern Ireland…”

So obviously this judge would convict men for having consensual sex on the grounds that he heard somewhere that 1 in 4 women have been raped.

What’s the Legal Definition of Prostitution Again? (April 17th, 2011)

I wasn’t going to say anything about this article  criticizing a new halfway whore site, because it’s sadly typical of Jezebel’s stealth anti-sex work oeuvre.  But then Lolo de Sucre of Tits and Sass published this thoroughly awesome takedown entitled “Jezebel Blogger Saves Unwitting Women from Accidentally Prostituting Themselves ‘in Fucking Thailand or Some Shit’”, which you absolutely must read; her caption for this picture is especially brilliant.

Handy Figures (June 11th, 2011)

Dr. Brooke Magnanti referenced this column and two others in a new article on the methodological deficiencies of prohibitionist “studies”.  Meanwhile, an otherwise-uninteresting news article led me to this equally-uninteresting 2006 item which nonetheless contained one interesting statistic:  49% of Indian men are now willing to admit they’ve paid for sex, which is much closer to the truth than the laughably low figures many American “researchers” produce via poorly-phrased questions.

Sisters in Arms (July 14th, 2011)

Tennessee joins the list of states defining miscarriage as murder; this article quotes and links others from Knox News, RH Reality Check, Think Progress and The Tennessean.  Had enough yet, neofeminists and nanny-staters?  Because the policies you support provide the precedents for these abominations.

Schadenfreude (November 28th, 2011)

Great news about Kristof’s “hero”, fanatical anti-whore activist Somaly Mam:

[At a UN panel] Somaly Mam…[falsely claimed] that when police raided her Afesip centre in Phnom Penh in 2004, eight of the girls were…murdered…83 women…[were taken to the] centre…after a raid…on the Chai Hour 11 Hotel, where it was alleged that underage girls were providing sexual services…However, the following day, the centre itself was raided by government officials and members of the detained women’s families, and the women released…Somaly Mam [claimed] these officials colluded with the owners of the hotel, but a number of the women released [insisted] to reporters that they…resented being “rescued”.  It was also disputed that any of the women were underage…No reports…suggested any of the women…were missing…[and] the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights [expressed] surprise at Mam’s…claim…[Pierre Legros, Mam’s ex-husband and] Afesip’s international director at the time of the raids, also denied that any…girls were murdered…he said that previous claims by his ex that their daughter had…been kidnapped and gang-raped in revenge for her mother’s activism were also untrue…[the] daughter had simply run off with her boyfriend…the lack of evidence of Mam’s claims…seriously [undermines] her credibility.  Observers had for some time felt that Mam had become preoccupied with her identity as an international celebrity…

Presents, Presents, Presents! (December 29th, 2011)

On Tuesday I received a DVD of The Thing from Lord Oberon, then yesterday the UPS man brought me John Stossel’s new book No, They Can’t from Elisabeth Whispers.  Thank you both so much for thinking about me!

An Example to the West (April 3rd, 2012)

The Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) held its conference in Istanbul last week, and unlike similar events in the United States, sex worker rights groups were welcomed there as important participants.  Dr. Laura Agustín wrote about the proceedings:

…I was at this event most of last week, part of a group promoting a vision of sex work, migration and feminism that emphasizes agency, the state of being in action, taking power, making decisions even when presented with few options. We overtly challenged the reductionist, infantilising ideology that has come to dominate mainstream policy and faux journalism  (like The New York Times’s) by attending many sessions and commenting…

TrustLaw reported on the conference as well, highlighting Agustín’s contribution and also quoting the EMPOWER Foundation:

“We are forced to live with the modern lie that border controls and anti-trafficking policies are for our protection…We have been spied on, arrested, cut off from our families, had our savings confiscated, interrogated, imprisoned and placed into the hands of the men with guns…all in the name of ‘protection against trafficking’”…one woman [said]:  “At a restaurant you get a menu and you look at all the options before you pick out your selection …Some restaurants have a huge menu and some only have a few dishes – either way the process is the same.  Vegetarians may not understand when you choose a steak, and others may not understand when we choose to do sex work.”

Much Ado About Nothing (April 14th, 2012)

Since the public stubbornly refuses to get worked up over the “news” that G-men hire whores, the news media is casting its net more widely:…anonymous sources [said] that Secret Service employees received sexual favors from strippers at a club in San Salvador and took prostitutes to their hotel rooms…in March 2011.”  Stop the Presses!  Men buying sex while travelling on business!  Why, that’s never happened before in the history of the world!  Contrast that non-story with this, which SHOULD have caused a scandal last December but was instead ignored by the American media:

A former Brazilian prostitute plans to sue the United States embassy and five of its personnel for injuries sustained outside a strip club [on December 29th]…Romilda Aparecida Ferreira…[is suing] for injuries, medical expenses, lost income, and psychological trauma after an embassy van ran over her and left her stranded in the club parking lot with a broken collarbone, punctured lung and other injuries…A civil suit would compound a case in which Brazilian prosecutors have already said they are considering criminal charges…Little noticed at the time, the incident in Brasília…gained traction this week…

It was “little noticed” because the American media didn’t give a damn about several apes in uniform mutilating a hooker (NHI and all that).  But now that it can be tangentially hooked to a “prostitution scandal” it’s suddenly news.

Ad Scortum (April 16th, 2012)

In order to combat prohibitionist claims that satisfied, well-adjusted sex workers are “not representative”, Greta Christina has invited us to tell our stories in a thread from which prohibitionists and other non-sex workers are specifically excluded.  If you’re a present or past sex worker of any kind (it’s not limited to whores) please contribute; the thread is already over 100 responses long!

Metaupdates

Coming and Going in That Was the Week That Was (#12) (March 24th, 2012)

In yet another sign that the anti-whore tide may be receding, The New York Daily News published this article strongly criticizing Anna Gristina’s treatment:

…in Florida, a judge granted $150,000 bail for George Zimmerman, who is charged with the murder of Trayvon Martin.  Last week, a career criminal named Ivan Ramos was arrested after allegedly raping, sodomizing and robbing a young woman…Facing 15 years, an obvious flight risk and a clear threat to the community, Ramos was given $300,000 bail.  Meanwhile, Anna Gristina…has been held on $2 million bond since Feb. 22 on a nonviolent charge of promoting prostitution…[which usually results in] probation and carries a maximum sentence of two to seven years…two weeks ago five male hotel clerks were charged…with the same exact crime [and] released on their own recognizance, without posting a dime in bail…What’s more obscene?  A woman charged with promoting the world’s oldest profession that attracts governors, U.S. senators, congressmen and Secret Servicemen?  Or this flagrant abuse of judicial power that’s turned the Blind Lady of Justice into a streetwalker?

The Camel’s Nose in That Was the Week That Was (#16) (April 21st, 2012)

American readers, have you called your congressman about CISPA yet?  If not, you’d better hurry:

Up until [Thursday] afternoon, the final vote on CISPA was supposed to be [Friday].  Then, abruptly, it was moved up…and the House voted in favor of its passage…248-168…[after] an  absolutely terrible change (…amendment #6)…[in] what the government can do with shared information…Astonishingly, it was described as limiting the government’s power…though it in fact expands it…Previously, CISPA allowed the government to use information for “cybersecurity” or “national security” purposes.  Those purposes have not been limited or removed.  Instead, three more…have been added:  investigation and prosecution of cybersecurity crime, protection of individuals, and protection of children…Basically it says the 4th Amendment does not apply online, at all…[and] the government could do whatever it wants with the data…CISPA is now a completely unsupportable bill that…eliminates …all privacy laws for any situation that involves a computer…

The government’s doubletalk was so masterful it even succeeded in convincing some CISPA opponents that the changes limited its power, but as Leigh Beadon explains in this follow-up to her article above, that’s totally false.

One Year Ago Today

The Coffee Klatsch” provides samples of the blogs of three other hookers with whom I’m friendly.

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A free government is a complicated piece of machinery, the nice and exact adjustment of whose springs, wheels, and weights, is not yet well comprehended by the artists of the age, and still less by the people.  –  John Adams

I wonder how much longer it will be before it starts to dawn on most reasonably-intelligent women that neofeminist-sponsored male-chauvinist legislation has established (and continues to strengthen) a legal precedent that adult heterosexual women are morally and emotionally incompetent to make our own decisions, and that male legislators and prosecutors can and will use such precedents to control women and, if the process goes unchecked, reduce us all to lifelong wards of the state to be used and disciplined as it sees fit.  The Swedish Model, mandatory domestic violence prosecution laws, sexual harassment laws and anti-sex-work laws all establish that women are (as St. Peter expressed it) the “weaker vessel”, unable to make rational adult decisions on any matter involving sexual relationships with men, and that it is therefore permissible for the state to strip us of the right of decision in such matters.  This precedent is now being creatively applied by evil prosecutors in a way no neofeminist ever could have expected…though of course every cynic did.

The following is from a June 24th article in The Guardian:

Rennie Gibbs…became pregnant aged 15, but lost the baby in December 2006…when she was 36 weeks into the pregnancy.  When prosecutors discovered that she had a cocaine habit – though there is no evidence that drug abuse had anything to do with the baby’s death – they charged her with the “depraved-heart murder” of her child, which carries a mandatory life sentence.  Gibbs is the first woman in Mississippi to be charged with murder relating to the loss of her unborn baby.  But her case is by no means isolated.  Across the US more and more prosecutions…seek to turn pregnant women into criminals.  “Women are being stripped of their constitutional personhood and subjected to truly cruel laws,” said Lynn Paltrow of the campaign National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW).  “It’s turning pregnant women into a different class of person and removing them of their rights.”

Bei Bei Shuai, 34, has spent the past three months in a prison cell in Indianapolis charged with murdering her baby.  On 23 December she tried to commit suicide by taking rat poison after her boyfriend abandoned her.  Shuai was rushed to hospital and survived, but she was 33 weeks pregnant and her baby, to whom she gave birth a week after the suicide attempt and whom she called Angel, died after four days.  In March Shuai was charged with murder and attempted foeticide and she has been in custody since without the offer of bail.

In Alabama at least 40 cases have been brought under the state’s “chemical endangerment” law…[which was] designed to protect children whose parents were cooking methamphetamine in the home and thus putting their children at risk from inhaling the fumes.  Amanda Kimbrough is one of the women who have been ensnared as a result of the law being applied in a wholly different way…Six months [after her baby died soon after birth, she] was arrested at home and charged with “chemical endangerment” of her unborn child on the grounds that she had taken drugs during the pregnancy – a claim she has denied.  “That shocked me, it really did,” Kimbrough said.  “I had lost a child, that was enough.”  She now awaits an appeal ruling from the higher courts in Alabama, which if she loses will see her begin a 10-year sentence behind bars…

Women’s rights campaigners see the creeping criminalisation of pregnant women as a new front in the culture wars over abortion…[by] stretching protection laws to include foetuses, in some cases from the day of conception.  In Gibbs’ case defence lawyers have argued before Mississippi’s highest court that her prosecution makes no sense.  Under Mississippi law it is a crime for any person except the mother to try to cause an abortion.  “If it’s not a crime for a mother to intentionally end her pregnancy, how can it be a crime for her to do it unintentionally, whether by taking drugs or smoking or whatever it is,” Robert McDuff, a civil rights lawyer asked the state supreme court.  McDuff…[said] that he hoped the Gibbs prosecution was an isolated example.  “I hope it’s not a trend that’s going to catch on.  To charge a woman with murder because of something she did during pregnancy is really unprecedented and quite extreme.”  He pointed out that anti-abortion groups were trying to amend the Mississippi constitution…[to] widen the definition of a person…to include a foetus from the day of conception…Paltrow sees what is happening to Gibbs as a small taste of what would be unleashed were the constitutional right to an abortion ever overturned.  “In Mississippi the use of the murder statute is creating a whole new legal standard that makes women accountable for the outcome of their pregnancies and threatens them with life imprisonment for murder.”

At least 38 of the 50 states…have introduced foetal homicide laws that were intended to protect pregnant women and their unborn children from violent attacks by third parties – usually abusive male partners – but are increasingly being turned by renegade prosecutors against the women themselves.  South Carolina was one of the first states to introduce such a foetal homicide law.  National Advocates for Pregnant Women has found only one case of a South Carolina man who assaulted a pregnant woman having been charged under its terms, and his conviction was eventually overturned.  Yet the group estimates there have been up to 300 women arrested for their actions during pregnancy.  In other states laws designed to protect children against the damaging effects of drugs have similarly been twisted to punish childbearers.

As I wrote in my column of one year ago today, I despise cocaine and I think it’s incredibly irresponsible to take it while pregnant, but Gibbs was 15 years old; thus we see yet another example of the Kafkaesque illogic which permeates modern law.  When it comes to sex Gibbs is classified as a “child”, a poor naïve innocent whose lover would no doubt be sitting in prison for “rape” right now if he were 18 or older.  But let her miscarry and Shazam! she suddenly changes from innocent “child” to an adult with a “depraved heart”.  And if that’s not absurd enough for you, consider that since late-term abortions are legal in Mississippi, had she taken a drug to cause miscarriage on purpose she would not be in any trouble; it’s only accidentally killing one’s baby that’s illegal.  By any stretch of the imagination that constitutes a total moral inversion.  Also note the popular absurdity (mentioned in three places herein, and pivotal to the whole “Caylee’s Law” hysteria) that a law can “protect” the weak from violence; it can do no such thing.  All a law can do is to provide for vengeance after the violence is accomplished.  These prosecutor’s aren’t “renegades” as the article calls them; they are doing exactly what they’re paid to do, instill fear of the government in the population.

It’s not going to get better by itself, ladies, nor will it get better at all if you continue to smoke the neofeminist crack and waste your time reading “women’s studies” texts and essays on “feminist criticism” of movies.  If you want to be treated as adults you’re going to have to fight for ALL adult women to be treated as adults, even when they do things you don’t like.  If you want to own and control your body, you’re going to have to allow ALL women to own and control their bodies.  Unless you want women punished for unhealthy or unwise choices during pregnancy, you’re going to have to allow others that option outside pregnancy.  And unless you want your body to be the property of the State, you had best forget your idiotic war against your allies, normal individual men, and stop getting into bed with the politicians who will tell you any pretty lie you want to hear so they can trick you into a position to be raped.

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