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Posts Tagged ‘sweatshops’

It’s…a surveillance-first, ask-permission-later system.  –  Jake Laperruque

The More the Better 

There are a lot of things I dislike about this article written by a brothel owner in New Zealand, not the least of which is the writer’s use of the term “ethical pimp” to mean “ordinary madam” (the term “pimp” is hopelessly contaminated by racism and copaganda; it cannot be “reclaimed”).  But everything that helps to demystify sex work is good, even if its style grates on my nerves.

Gingerbread House

Stories about hooker jails are absolutely crammed with appalling euphemisms:

[More] victims of human trafficking [than exist in the United States] are expected to be [arrested] from [ordinary sex work] in Fresno alone this year.  But…a $45,000 donation from Granville Homes will be used to help “Breaking The Chains” build a new [prison] facility…[for] 25 victims of [the police]…It will provide a [place to lock them up out of public view so cops can pressure them to provide fake “evidence”]…to help [convict people as] gangs or pimps…District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp [moaned with her hand in her pants, fantasizing]…”It happens in schools.  People are taken from malls.  There are all different types of ways [magic ninja] traffickers get these girls,” [panted] Smittcamp…

The Missing Word

We certainly can’t use that word for people who were given control over their victims by the government:

A Crawfordville, Florida couple preparing for Armageddon faces multiple serious charges after two females escaped the couple’s farm and [said] they were prevented from leaving and were physically and sexually abused for years…[by] Mirko…and Regina Ceska…The females…The females…were [given] “custodial responsibility” of the Ceskas [by the government, and were forced to begin]…working each day at 5:30 a.m…The females reported they were not allowed to go anywhere, couldn’t have friends, couldn’t have cell phones, nor talk to people in public places”…If they didn’t smile, they would face a variety of punishments ranging from verbal abuse, beatings or being deprived of food….”Detectives noted marks and bruises on the female’s back and arm.”  Both females also described times that Mirko Ceska would force sex acts upon them…”with the support of Regina Ceska”…Mirko Ceska screamed at the females

I wonder what biological sex the victims were?

Rescued To Death

I’m sure they don’t mind having their lives destroyed so bourgeois Englishwomen can feel good:

The Modern Slavery Act…helps cover up serious forced labour issues…while making [busybodies]…feel better…Article 54…assigns British companies the responsibility to clean up their global supply chains…[and they shove] this responsibility [of on] local factory managers in Sri Lanka…[who intrusively] monitor their [mostly-female] workforce…for fear of losing their contracts…[many of these] women…engage…in part-time sex work to [supplement their meager pay, as working-class women have done since at least Roman times]…But local managers fear…it would be [fantasized] by Western [busybodies to be] exploitation and threaten their contracts…one factory manager [said]:  “If we do not fire part-time sex workers, our factories can get blacklisted, and our orders will be cancelled”…

Guinea Pigs (#690) 

Apply a label like “prostitute” or “gang member” and civil rights go out the window:

An NYPD database labels over 18,000 people in New York City as active gang members.  Three…are 13 years old, and more than 400 others are under 18…nearly 88 percent are Black or [Hispanic].  If your name is entered into the database, you have no way of knowing about it and no way of contesting it…Across the country, people have been calling for significant reform of, or even an end to, gang databases and gang policing measures…The Chicago Police Department database is [an order of magnitude larger than New York’s], containing the names of an estimated 128,000 adults and at least 33,000…people 17 and younger…includ[ing] hundreds listed as dead or having no known gang affiliation…two men listed as 132 years old and several 118-year-olds…alleged gang affiliation [is] treated as a factor in immigration proceedings, bail decisions and sentencing, and treatment when in jail or prison. The NYPD [pretends] that it does not share information with other agencies but [that is well-known to be a lie]…

Guess who built California’s version of this?  Palantir.  And I’ll bet they had a hand in New York’s, too.

Against Their Will (#795) 

This looks like a huge victory against the powerful Indian rescue industry:

The Bombay High Court has said that an adult [arrested under the pretense of] rescue…under the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act cannot be sent to a [prison]…against her wish…The order will set a precedent…for all the women who are in [“rescue” prisons] against their wish…Advocate Satyavrat Joshi argued…that the Constitution provides every citizen a right to move freely through the territory of India and also the right to choose a vocation…

Dirty Laundry (#845)

The “Good Shepherd Sisters” were one of the two orders behind Ireland’s horrific Magdalene laundries, now doing business as the anti-sex work gang Ruhama:

…In “hubs” of human trafficking such as Detroit, faith-based groups such Sisters of the Good Shepherd have [capitalized on the hysteria] by [pretending to] offer…services to [sex workers], including counseling, housing, career training, prevention programs and even [indoctrin]ating the community [in propaganda] about human trafficking…

Finding What Isn’t There (#870)

Trying to manufacture data to “prove” a problem exists when existing data says it doesn’t is not science:

Britain is aiming to [exaggerate] the true scale of modern slavery and [invent] more trafficking networks [out of individuals] through the creation of a 10 million pound ($12.5 million) research center involving [hired guns, prohibitionists and rescue profiteers]…The initiative will [invent] research and boost [fascist] collaboration in Britain and abroad between various sectors…[and] law enforcement…[prohibitionists masturbate to the fantasy that] Britain is home to…136,000 slaves…a figure [dreamed up by rescue profiteers Walk Free Foundation]…whose accuracy has been [widely debunked] by academics and activists…

Disaster (#902)

Is there anyone outside government and prohibition profiteer groups who fails to recognize what a disaster FOSTA is?

…police…stings are [claimed] to fight sex trafficking, but…simply instigate…arrests for prostitution.  It’s a racket…Would Americans be in favor of spending these astronomical sums to fight sex work that is completely unrelated to sex trafficking?…they should at least…not be tricked into believing sex trafficking is happening all around them…FOSTA-SESTA has made sex work more dangerous, the internet less useful, and we are throwing money out the proverbial window in our zeal to fight a scourge that isn’t nearly as widespread as we are led to believe.  We need elected officials brave enough to say a mistake has been made.

Guinea Pigs (#936)

Just a reminder that this privacy-destroying abomination started as a means of spying on sex workers:

The Palantir user guide shows that police can start with almost no information about a [victim] and instantly know extremely intimate details about their lives…they can use automatic license plate reader data to find out where they’ve been, and when they’ve been there…[they] can also find a person’s email address, phone numbers, current and previous addresses, bank accounts, social security number(s), business relationships, family relationships, and license information like height, weight, and eye color…The software can map out a person’s family members and business associates of a suspect, and theoretically, find the above information about them, too…

Pyrrhic Victory (#944)

As I keep saying, it’s already far too late to stop this tyranny:

…Thousands of facial-recognition requests, internal documents and emails over the past five years…reveal that [pigs and spooks] have turned state Department of Motor Vehicles databases into the bedrock of an unprecedented surveillance infrastructure…Neither Congress nor state legislatures have authorized the development of such a system, and growing numbers of [politicians] are [publicly] criticizing the technology [to win support from voters while doing absolutely nothing to stop it]…Since 2011, the FBI has logged more than 390,000 facial-recognition searches of federal and local databases, including state DMV databases…The records…detailed the regular use of facial recognition to track down suspects in low-level crimes…with nothing more formal than an email from a federal agent to a local contact…

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When sex workers or former sex workers write as academics, their voices can’t be reduced solely to sex.  –  Noah Berlatsky

The Proper Study

Noah Berlatsky on sex workers conducting our own research:

Melissa Gira Grant…is not alone; there are many sex workers and former sex workers who research and analyze sex work from an analytical perspective.  Author, media consultant, and former sex worker Maggie McNeill, for example, discusses common myths about human trafficking…The Red Umbrella Project, a peer-led sex worker advocacy organization, conducted a study of New York City trafficking courts that found police were disproportionately targeting black sex workers and using racial profiling to make arrests…Tara Burns…researched Alaska’s trafficking laws while working toward her Master’s in social justice…Christina Parreira…has continued to work as a sex worker while also pursuing a Ph.D. in sociology…she has…interviewed other workers about how they understand their work…dropbox logo

Saving Them From Themselves

Missouri law enforcement is serving cloud-storage site Dropbox with a search warrant for an account used by area teens suspected of sexting…after school officials heard rumors that students were sharing nude photos via phones and Dropbox…cops interviewed students and seized some of their cell phones.  And what did they find?  No pics.  But…with just a little more privacy infringement, they’re certain they can turn up some nude teen photos…

King of the Hill

Two for one!  “Michigan ranks No. 2 for human trafficking sex trade behind only Nevada…

If Men Were Angels

A chiropractor in…Iowa…has had his license pulled after being accused of trading services for sex with clients and for performing exorcisms…Dr. Charles Manuel voluntarily surrendered his license after the Iowa Board of Chiropractic accused him of unethical conduct…The board also stated that Manuel had instructed some of his patients to stop taking their prescribed medications…

Schadenfreude (#434) 

Voice of America has followed the party line on “sex trafficking” thus far, so it’s nice to see them publishing an interview with super ally Anne Elizabeth Moore:

The garment industry, because there are so few employment options for women, creates this sense of an almost economic imperative..in the U.S. we talk a lot about how horrible it is for women and the sex industry in Cambodia, and how they all are trafficked.  And all the reports are about quoting Somaly Mam, who of course…spent a lot of time talking about how everyone that she worked with in her various foundations was a victim of sex trafficking, when you actually talk to the people that live in her shelters, and/or sought assistance from her, or even people who were…involved in…anti-trafficking organizations elsewhere, what you discover is actually that most of them are not victims of trafficking.  Most of them identified as people who were working either in the sex industry or another industry.  And the opportunity provided to them by the anti-trafficking organizations was simply better than their continued labor in that industry…

Served Cold

Utah based Operation Underground Railroad (OUR) has attracted a great deal of attention since it was first endorsed by Glenn Beck…This new addition to the already crowded field of anti-trafficking organisations “us[es] cutting-edge computer technology…[to] go into the darkest corners of the world to…liberate enslaved children and dismantle the criminal networks.”  It is this type of language that identifies OUR as yet another disturbing example of a “raid-and-rescue” organisation…these interventions represent the latest version of the “white man’s burden”…OUR takes things one step further by sending, essentially, gun-toting vigilantes to foreign countries in the pursuit of “hope and freedom” for enslaved children…

Buttons, Bags & Banknotes (#445) clogs

It would be hard to imagine a more unintentionally-revealing example of mental masturbation than this attempt to entangle the supposed morality of overpriced clogs with welfare-state propaganda and dangerously-prudish Sweden’s wholly-undeserved reputation for sexiness:

Blixt’s wooden shoes are not just “hasbeens’ because of the retro style – it’s also a comeback of retro Swedish sexiness – not the stereotype, but rather the truth.  Outdated stereotypes of Sweden as overly sexualized have reigned for too long.   “I think it’s a misunderstanding,” Blixt remarks. “Sex is one thing, and a naked body is something else; it’s natural.”  When Blixt talks about sexy shoes, she’s speaking of classic Swedish values.  In other words: au natural…Made only with natural materials in good work situations, the shoes are sustainable, durable, and handmade…“We are actually raised to be creative in Sweden, and it’s easy to start a company here with our free education, access to social security, funding and young people who dare to think big,” Blixt reflects. “People learn to dare and believe in their ideas, and that is our hope for the future”…

The smugness is so thick one could cut it with a knife.

Guinea Pigs 

Another software package designed to sell whores out to the cops:

Rescue Forensics claims it “archives massive quantities of data from classified advertisement sites specializing in commercial sex ads.”  It gathers a lot of text, and even more nude and semi-nude photos.  Then it turns all that over to the cops…what Rescue Forensics appears to be selling is just one more tool to help cops track people engaged in sex work through their online activities…there’s a good chance that if you’ve placed an ad online in the last two years for escorting, massage, BDSM, stripping, private modeling, nude housekeeping, selling your underwear, or any other permutation of the various sexual services people can put on offer, Rescue Forensics has a copy.  And because Rescue Forensics has a copy, so do their users in law enforcement…for Dalton, the fight against trafficking isn’t just about finding the people Rescue Forensics believes are “exploited”:  It’s about abolition…Dalton was a policy advisor to Shared Hope International…Dalton himself acknowledges what they’ve built isn’t enough to identify someone who has been trafficked into sex work, and that there’s no way to tell from an ad if someone is forced or coerced…Dalton still stands to profit from a product that can’t make that distinction, placed in the hands of law enforcement officers who…routinely…harass and arrest sex workers…

Worse Than I Thought (#525)

Bad laws never die, even if they appear to have been staked and beheaded:

U.S. Senators…reached a deal on legislation addressing human trafficking.  Passage of the “Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act”…had been delayed for several weeks due to a partisan dispute over abortion funding for trafficking victims.  CBS News explains the complicated compromise, which ultimately does not allow funds allocated under the bill to go toward abortions…there’s still a chance that political maneuvering could doom the legislation…if Republicans force a vote on controversial amendments concerning immigration and other issues…

Precedent

There’s a saying in American politics:  As California goes, so goes the nation.  If that’s true, we may be at the start of a nationwide fight to decriminalize sex work.  The Erotic Service Provider Legal, Education, and Research Project (ESPLERP) filed a federal lawsuit on March 4 that seeks to overturn the criminalization of prostitution in California by arguing that the ban is unconstitutional…because it hinders sex workers’ rights to participate in private and consensual activities…If the lawsuit is successful, California could become the tipping point for the decriminalization of sex work nationwide…the decriminalization argument will acquire powerful legal precedent in the most populous state in the country…it could move the conversation forward even if it fails…The state will almost certainly use trumped-up concerns over human trafficking to put the lawsuit to rest…But…nearly 40 million people live in California.  To even put this issue on the political radar of that many people is a revolutionary act…

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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on November 16th; I have modified it slightly to fit the format of this blog.

Salvation Army womenEvery time one reads an article that doesn’t mindlessly parrot “sex trafficking” hysteria or some other aspect of the anti-sex movement, yet isn’t written by a sex worker or ally, one can be sure there will be an obligatory sentence about how it’s “surprising” or “paradoxical” or whatever that neofeminists are in bed with evangelical Christians.  The only people who could actually consider this alliance to be anything other than wholly predictable are those who A) believe in the ridiculous “left wing-right wing” dichotomy which “was a poor fit to real political landscapes when it was first used in reference to the French Assembly more than 200 years ago and has become completely worthless since”; B) accept fanatical cults’ propaganda about their motives as truthful even if it demonstrably conflicts with their public behavior; and C) are completely ignorant of the history of the Anglo-American anti-sex movement.  My early essay “Traitors To Their Sex”  provides a brief sketch of this history, starting with the influential and charismatic Victorian feminist, Josephine Butler:

…who recognized that English law of the time…stripped prostitutes of their rights as Englishwomen and so campaigned tirelessly for the repeal of those laws for 16 years.  At the same time, Butler (like most Victorians) believed that women were essentially asexual, and so could not accept that any woman might freely choose to exploit the male sexual appetite in order to earn a living; the very idea was anathema to her rigid Christian thinking.  She therefore concluded that it was actually whores who were the exploited ones, childlike victims of male lust who had been forced into lives of “degradation” by male oppression…after the repeal of the Contagious Disease Acts in 1886 prostitutes were no longer the cause célèbre; when they refused to repent their whoredom and embrace “honest work” and conventional morality the feminists abandoned their sympathy like yesterday’s newspaper and declared war on our entire profession, vowing to abolish it entirely.  Butler founded the Social Purity Alliance…dedicated to imposing middle-class Victorian standards of chastity (i.e. repugnance for sex) onto men, and it was but the first of a host of similar organizations which sprang up on both sides of the Atlantic throughout the 1880s and ‘90s…middle-class “feminists” had shown their true colors and abandoned the drive to win rights for the disenfranchised in favor of one which aimed to restrict the rights of everyone…The purity crusaders used many propaganda weapons…but chief among these were disease scares and the “white slavery” hysteria…the unholy alliance of middle-class feminists and puritanical religious zealots managed to convince the public, the media and governments that there was a huge international trade in underage girls, abducted and forced into sexual slavery…The fact that there was absolutely no evidence for such a vast conspiracy made no difference whatsoever; the public devoured lurid stories of child prostitution, and…voluntary adult prostitution was banned or severely restricted under the excuse of combating involuntary prostitution of “children”…

In other words, though some early feminists (such as Mary Wollstonecraft and Olympe de Gouges) were individualists who were not at all anti-sex, feminism did not become a popular movement until it embraced a rigid, puritanical morality.  These “first wave” feminists were not merely anti-prostitution, but anti-pleasure; among other things, they campaigned against the “evil” of masturbation and drove the movement which eventually imposed Prohibition on the United States.  So although this early feminism died out in the Great Depression, it is wholly unsurprising that its legacy soon infected the “second wave” which flourished in the 1960s and ‘70s; by the mid-‘80s the anti-sex forces had not only taken over feminism, but had sought out and once again joined their old allies, evangelical Christians, in another loathsome attempt to impose a puritanical anti-sex regime on all of society.  Almost exactly a century after the first iteration of their social engineering crusade, they’ve brought back most of their old rhetoric (now blended with another morally-bankrupt 19th-century belief system, Marxism) and many of their old tactics, including “white slavery” hysteria (now called “sex trafficking”).

This is what a feminist's victim looks likeAs I’ve pointed out before, much of the language in “sex trafficking” and other anti-sex articles and essays is positively Victorian, and even when it isn’t the attitudes are.  Women like Julie Bindel and Meghan Murphy, who would almost certainly take exception with (or even ridicule) the notion that their attitudes fit more in the late 19th century than the early 21st, nonetheless expend considerable effort in arguing for massive censorship campaigns (even though they deny it) and trying to convince other women that only feminist thought leaders have the right to determine which kinds of sex constitute “rape” or “exploitation”, and that their individual consent is immaterial (the result of “false consciousness”, itself a 19th-century Marxist concept).  The “end demand” campaign backed by the Fawcett Society (itself founded in 1866) is based in the tired old Victorian conceit that men can be “taught” to dislike sex as much as prudish women do; furthermore, the recent revelation that the £45 “This is What a Feminist Looks Like” T-shirts hawked by the Society are made in Dickensian sweatshops reveals that middle-class white women’s trivial concerns still trump the serious problems of working-class and brown-skinned women, just as they did in the days when the sun never set on the Empire.  And I think we can all agree that the mind which can produce over 3100 words on whether porn can be “ethical” or “feminist” is one which could’ve been perfectly delighted with thinking up new venereal nouns or arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.  So no, it isn’t at all surprising that evangelical feminists conspire with evangelical Christians to make normal people’s lives as miserable as possible; they’ve been doing it for as long as there’s been such a thing as “feminism”.

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What is wrong with a contract to sell sexual services between consenting adults who enter voluntarily into the transaction, neither of whom is harmed by the exchange?…nothing at all.  No harm is done here, so why should this be regarded as a crime?  –  Charles Hill 

Subtle Pimping

Two “artists” thought it would be “artistic” to exploit the poorest, most tragic, heroin-addicted Russian streetwalkers they could cajole by photographing them as fashion models:  “Loral Amir and Gigi Ben Artzi constructed studio portraits of heroin-addicted prostitutes…adorning their subjects in [designer] clothing…[removes] them from the context of their daily lives…”  The results are predictably horrifying.

Crying for Nanny

Nick Kristof knows these lawsuits haven’t got a leg to stand on, and can’t be so ignorant that he doesn’t recognize the havoc which would result should one succeed.  But as with Somaly Mam, he pretends that he’s not responsible for promoting lies and myths which harm many thousands of people, and washes his hands when they blow up in his face:

Two young women who say they were…sold on Backpage at age 15…are suing the company in Boston in federal court.  Another suit is winding its way through Washington State courts, pursued by three girls who say they…were sold for sex…when they were 13…The suit charges that Backpage has “perfected a business model that profits substantially from aiding…pimps and traffickers in the sexual exploitation of children”…

Surplus Women

A British financier has been arrested on suspicion of murder after two [sex workers] were found dead inside the bloodied walls of his luxury apartment in Hong Kong…The body of one was heavily decomposed, stuffed inside a large suitcase left on the balcony…She was nearly decapitated and her hands and legs were bound with ropes…The other…was found with her throat cut, lying naked in the living room.  She had been stabbed multiple times…

With Folded Hands

Cowardice disguised as class warfare:

A brave test pilot is dead and another one critically injured—in the service of a millionaire boondoggle thrill ride…in the wake of this tragedy out at Mojave—not even the first time a SpaceShipTwo test has killed someone—we’re going to hear a lot about exploration, about pioneers and frontiers…and we should call bullshit on thatSpaceship Two crash…Virgin Galactic is building the world’s most expensive roller coaster…When it costs the lives of the workers building that system, we should stop accepting it…

Except neither Wired writers (nor those at Time or The Guardian) nor politicians nor rich people get to decide what any given individual thinks is worth risking his life for; the only person who gets to decide that is the individual himself.  And it doesn’t matter how stupid or pointless anyone else thinks it is, because his life is not theirs to manage.

Divided We Fall

When will Gay, Inc finally admit prostitution laws disproportionately affect its constituency?

…an Egyptian court convicted eight men for…their appearance in a video…depicting…the country’s first same-sex wedding party…Egypt…has no laws against homosexuality…the law that was used to prosecute the men is one…meant to rid the newly independent Egypt of the licensed brothels that had existed under British rule…it banned prostitution of all forms…and…also prohibited what it called “debauchery”—without actually defining [it]…

Enabling Oppression

Even some who believe in the “sex trafficking” myth are beginning to place the blame where it belongs:

…human trafficking is a parasite of legal prohibitionism…It is time for students of trafficking to call out states for creating the conditions that enable this crime…legislative and police efforts to suppress the sex trade are counterproductive.  They drive sex-for-money…further underground…You would think that Americans would know better.  Their first experiment in prohibition…should have brought home the message that prohibitionism cannot kill…commerce.  It only cordons it off inside a zone of non-regulated trade…The link between prohibitionism and trafficking has been most clearly documented in America’s war on undocumented immigration

The Rape Question Latiqwa Mayes

Neofeminists claim that false rape accusations are too rare to even consider, and that we live in a “rape culture” where rapists get away with it:

…Latiqwa Mayes was walking down [a Baltimore] street…when she saw…Donald Robinson…[who] had reportedly once assaulted her friend…Mayes was not happy that he didn’t receive a harsher sentence, so…in retaliation [she screamed] “He raped me!  He’s a sex offender!” …Almost immediately, a mob lead by Mayes’ father proceeded to beat Robinson and…pepper spray [him]…hours later, he died…Mayes and her father…have been sentenced to…six years…

The Pygmalion Fallacy

Though my opinion on “sex robot” nonsense is well-known, this critic of it reveals that he’s just as ignorant about human sexuality (and sex work) as those he attacks, not to mention incredibly prudish and anti-whore:

David…Levy’s vision in Love and Sex With Robots is…profoundly creepy, and has troublesome implications now that sex robots are quickly becoming a reality.  He…[presents] sex robots as…the inevitable and desirable future…and it won’t just be the lonely men who are the usual clientele of prostitutes…he…even retrieves the long-discredited defense of pornography as a marital aid…Levy’s understanding of sex is almost entirely degraded…it’s the view of the chronic masturbator and porn addict…healthy sexual desire does not take as its object a mere sensation or state, but a person …the recognition of pornography addiction as a serious problem…is…evidence that something goes wrong when sexual desire is directed away from people…Just as with prostitution, the more sophisticated their illusions become, the more intense will be the guilt that comes after their mechanical gimmickry has done the job…

Show and Tell

It’s Ashley Madison’s turn next:

The Federal Trade Commission has fined UK-based JDI Dating for using fake, computer-generated profiles to trick users into upgrading to paid memberships.  JDI…must pay a $616,165 fine and reform its practices.  The case is the first for the FTC against an online dating site.  JDI allowed users to set up profiles on its sites for free, and then sent them fake messages purportedly from people living nearby who wanted to meet…The users were unable to respond without setting up paid memberships…

Something Rotten in Sweden (TW3 #36)

demand in the sex work marketEconomist Charles Hill explains why “end demand” strategies are not only morally bankrupt, but have the opposite effect their proponents claim:  “Economic analysis suggests that this policy may not have the desired effect.  In fact, I contend that it might actually have the perverse effect of increasing the supply of sex services…”  I’m not even going to try to synopsize this, but it’s definitely worth your time even if your eyes glaze over once the  statistical analysis starts.

King of the Hill

This is mostly about another rescue industry gimmick, but it contains the announcement that “San Diego is the 13th highest child prostitution area in the country, according to the FBI…1.2 million children are trafficked every year

Think of the Children! (TW3 #40)

[before] Arbor Day this year, Pornhub launched its “Give America Wood” campaign…to plant a tree for every 100 videos watched in the “Big Dick” category…[the NGO which got the check] “politely requested” not to be identified.  Pornhub ran into the same reluctance when they ran their  “Save the Boobs” campaign…in 2012…Komen…publicly rejected the money…Pornhub split the cash between three smaller unidentified organizations…this month, James Deen…was rejected by…a slew of major breast cancer organizations.  Instead, he’ll donate 50 percent of all profits from his website during…October to smaller organizations like The Rose and Living Beyond Breast Cancer…

On the Simultaneous Having and Eating of Cake

the state Supreme Court decided that dancers at one Las Vegas club are employees, not independent contractors, and are entitled to be paid minimum wage.  The unanimous ruling…was issued in a class-action lawsuit filed…on behalf of dancers at Sapphire Gentlemen’s Club…Clark County District Court…hearings [will] determine how much more than 6,600 current and former dancers at the club are owed…the amount could reach $40 million, including back wages, plus the return of “house fees” the dancers paid the club to be allowed to work…

Original Sin

Yvonne Zimmerman & Letitia Campbell on “sex trafficking” mythology’s roots in the evangelical/neofeminist alliance:

…As the members of the alliance worked together to combat pornography, some Christian groups began to incorporate [feminist] rhetoric …Soon…members of religiously conservative groups were rehearsing arguments about the degradation of women, violence against women, and even women’s inequality…the feminist-evangelical anti-pornography alliance was instrumental in setting the stage for the contemporary…anti-trafficking movement…the rhetoric of “sexual slavery”…appears much earlier (and with different meaning) in radical feminist critiques…[and] concerns about the media’s sexualization of ever-younger girls…remain a staple of the contemporary anti-trafficking movement…

Whither Canada?

As vile as any similar badge-lickery from the US:

Since three key prostitution laws were overturned nearly a year ago, Ottawa police have struggled with how to [harass sex workers and clients]…Insp. Mike Laviolette…[pretends] he wants to…keep an eye out for human trafficking…[and lied that] the average age of sex slaves…was 18 years old…

The rest includes a leering, lip-smacking description of a sleazy female cop used to trick men so they can be abducted and forced into “john school” and subjected to propaganda about “the dark and dangerous aspects of prostitution“.

Whither Canada? (TW3 #423)

A Liberal senator will propose more amendments to the Conservative government’s controversial anti-prostitution bill as the clock ticks down on a court-imposed deadline…George Baker said…he intends to introduce 15 amendments…seeking to remove provisions which would criminalize those who sell sex…

Buttons, Bags & Banknotes (TW3 #429) 

Feminist T-shirts proudly worn by [British celebrities and politicians] are made in “sweatshop” conditions by migrant women paid just 62p [99¢] an hour…on…Mauritius…[the workers] sleep 16 to a room – and earn much less than the average wage on the island.  The £45 [$72] T-shirts carry the defiant slogan “This is what a feminist looks like”.  But one of the thousands of machinists declared:  “We do not see ourselves as feminists.  We see ourselves as trapped”…

Dysphemisms Galore (Traffic Updates) 

It’s good I got out of owning an escort service when I did, but how can even cops mouth these ridiculous dysphemisms with a straight face?

Dunwoody [Georgia] police said… they have busted a prostitution ring masquerading as high-end modeling outfits where clients paid $300 or more an hour.  Police have charged the owners and operators of Atlanta Fantasies and Ashley’s of Atlanta with human trafficking for sexual servitude, keeping a place of prostitution and racketeering.  Charged so far are Robert Tyler…and Donna Allen…Some 26 women — all adults — were identified as “victims” of the organization…

Imaginary Crises (TW3 #441) 

Mike Siegel corrects bad “campus rape crisis” math:

…the…0.2 percent rate touted in a recent op-ed…misses the mark because it uses the wrong numbers and some poor assumptions…The…National Crime Victimization Survey…indicates about a 10% lifetime risk or about 3% college-age risk…the one-in-five stat is inconsistent with another number claimed by advocates of new policies:  a reporting rate of 12%.  If you assume a reporting rate near that and use the actual number of reporting assaults on major campuses, you get a rate between 3% and 5%…Further research is consistent with this rate…Mark Perry finds 3-5%.  Texas schools show 5-6%.  NCVS and RAINN stats indicate 2-5%.  Basically, any time we use actual numbers based on objectives surveys, we find the number of women who are in danger of sexual violence during their time on campus is 1-in-20, not 1-in-5…if one in five women on college campuses are being sexually assaulted…we should shut down every college in the country since they are the most dangerous places for women in the entire United States…

Lack of Evidence (TW3 #444) Tim Osrin

This isn’t the first time that South African swim coach has beat up a woman:

Tim Osrin claimed that he had never assaulted anyone before but had mistaken [Cynthia] Joni for a “prostitute” and “snapped”.  Now, a…sex-worker has come forward to claim that earlier this year, Osrin told her to “fuck off out of my street”, before hitting her so hard that he knocked a tooth out of her mouth.  The woman laid a charge of assault against Osrin…At least five sex-workers who operate in the area attested to [her] injuries and alleged they had also been harassed…

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Given that large numbers of prostitutes operate independently without panderers, it would be difficult to characterize prostitution as inherently rooted in subjugation.  –  Gail Heriot

Think of the Children! Jaqueline Laurent-Auger

The half-life of sex radiation must be over 40 years:

…[73-year-old] Jaqueline Laurent-Auger was a teacher at the Montreal private school, Le Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf…but…the school [fired] her [because]…as a young actress…in France, she starred in a handful of erotic films…[including] Le Journal intime d’une nymphomane (1973) and Dany la ravageuse (1972).  In a statement, school officials maintain that “We’re not talking about paintings or sculptures of naked bodies produced with artistry and aesthetics in mind.  There are erotic scenes destined for an adult audience…”

Dirty Whores

The headline makes the contagion sound voluntary and evokes the “dirty whore” myth:  “…a [Liberian] sex worker…suffering from Ebola…passed the deadly disease to [Floson Louise]…who unknowingly spread it to seven other soldiers…the army barracks are being decongested to ease the spread of the disease…

Rooted in Racism

I’m really pleased to see black intellectuals writing about this:

…the movement against “modern-day slavery” deploys non-racial language to…[solidify] the existing racial regime…and…is inordinately preoccupied with women’s sexual victimization…the focus on white women…working in commercial sex recalls the…late nineteenth and early twentieth century…[panic over] the “white slave trade”…the moral authority that anti-slavery mobilizes today partly stems from the memory of black liberation that it implicitly draws upon—all the while explicitly distancing itself from black historical struggle…

Surplus Women

[Darren Vann of Gary, Indiana]…may be a serial killer who has killed…as far back as 20 years ago…Vann…was arrested…[for the murder of] Afrika Hardy…[after she] did not return from [an]  appointment [with Vann, a friend]…went to track her down and found her dead from strangulation.  Once in custody Vann…admitted…Hardy’s murder and led police to the bodies of six other women, all in abandoned houses…[officials were] unable to say whether the other victims were sex workers…

Not an Addiction (TW3 #6)

Since when do “scientists” treat patients?

Scientists have treated…the first patient with internet addiction disorder brought on by overuse of Google Glass.  The man had been using the technology for around 18 hours a day – removing it only to sleep and wash – and complained of feeling irritable and argumentative without [it]…he had also begun experiencing his dreams as if viewed through [its] small grey window.  The existence of internet addiction disorder…is hotly debated among psychiatrists.  It was not included as a clinical diagnosis in the 2013 update to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders

It is not “hotly debated”; OCD is not “addiction”, no matter how much money-hungry scammers want to rebrand it as such.

Above the Law 

A Birmingham [Alabama] police officer arrested earlier this month on child sex abuse charges is now charged with rape of an adult woman.  Joshua Herbinger…was not in any kind of…relationship with the [victim]…In the earlier case…Herbinger was charged with four counts of sexual abuse of a child less than 12 years old…

Shift in the Wind

One of the members of the US government Commission on Civil Rights openly criticized “sex trafficking” hysteria in a dissent with the Commission’s predetermined rubber-stamp “findings”, and may have cited yours truly in it:

…terms like “sex trafficking”…obscure more than they enlighten, because there is little agreement on what they mean…claims that the Super Bowl is a magnet for sex traffickers appear to be more myth than fact…In the late 19thcentury, Great Britain was also swept by a wave of hysteria over “white slavery“.  In time, the panic spread to the United States…the Heriot dissent decries the tendency to view the complexities of so-called “international labor trafficking” as something inherently sinister…There is plenty of opportunity for fraudulent or coercive behavior in these transactions.  But there is also opportunity for gain by the most vulnerable of the world’s people, trapped in poverty…

Bottleneck

Why 90% of whores prefer to work illegally than submit to licensing:

…Dancers and managers at a Washington state strip club are…suing to stop their county from releasing their names, photos, and other identifying information to a man who has filed a public records request…because strippers in most areas of Washington must obtain an “entertainer’s license”, their identities are a matter of public record…it’s entirely likely [David A. Van Vleet]…is a crazy stalker or an anti-sex nutjob.  Maybe both…it’s hard to imagine many non-nefarious reasons for requesting personal information on a wide swath of individuals in a sensitive job…

Capricious Lusts (TW3 #37)

M.C. Nanaiah , chairman of the [Indian] expert committee to suggest measures for safety of women and children has favoured a wider discussion on legalisation of prostitution…to prevent rapes…

That Old Black Magic

The “Juju sex slaves” myth just keeps on going like a zombie:

Juju “magic” may seem strange, mythical and other-worldly but it is a problem that is all too real when it comes to the sex trafficking of women from Nigeria…Trafficking expert Siddharth Kara from Harvard University said:  “[Juju] exerts a kind of control that’s so much more potent than chains or locking someone up.  It’s control of the spirit which is far more powerful and insidious”…

Westerners have our own Juju faith in self-declared “experts” like Kara, a charlatan whose degree of ignorance is astonishing even in a field dominated by charlatans.Barry Freundel

Buried Truth 

One of the nation’s most respected rabbis…[is] accused of placing a camera in the women’s…area of a sacred bath…Barry Freundel is a…leader in the Modern Orthodox movement…with controversial opinions on everything from abortion to homosexuality.  He…was known to take a strict position on morality, [saying]…just weeks ago:  “The lack of sexual morality…pervades this society…Pornography and its accessibility is wrecking marriages”…

Scapegoats (TW3 #49)

Daily Beast writer (no giggling, now) says Denmark doesn’t have enough reasons to lock people up yet:

…A new law on the table in Denmark proposes to make sex with animals…illegal.  The Danish law currently states that humans can have sex with animals as long as the animal doesn’t suffer…[but] how would one know if an animal enjoyed human sex?…If the law passes…only Finland, Hungary and Sweden will remain lawless…[the bill’s sponsor] is…concerned that…Denmark…could become the [Mecca] of animal sex tourism…

I’m not sure what’s sillier, the writer’s conflation of “doesn’t suffer” with “enjoy” or her idea that “human sex” is fundamentally different from other mammals’ copulation.

Traffic Jam (TW3 #318)

How many moronic prohibitionist plays can the market bear?

Tony-award winning playwright…Sarah Jones…has been publicly “workshopping” her newest one woman show, entitled Sell/Buy/Date…The play is really one insult after another…Everybody was a “prostituted woman” except for a Russian male pimp who self-described as a sex worker.  And the sex worker rights activists are caricatured as dimwitted and undereducated supporters of Sarah Palin…Jones seems to be under the impression that the sex worker movement is funded by big corporate interests…Jones’ monologues [are set in an imaginary future dystopia] where…prostitution could not possibly exist…emergency medical treatment will be necessary to cure male porn addicts…However, magically, there will be a “re-sensititization” of men by forcing them to watch Thelma and Louise

Cops and Condoms (TW3 #330)

a 30-year-old female sex worker [has been sent] to prison for at least nine years under Germany’s “preventive detention” law, because she has shown a pattern of not disclosing to clients that she was living with HIV before they chose to have condomless sex with her…

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #337)

Sex workers in Northern Ireland are overwhelmingly opposed to…a law that could criminalise those who pay for prostitutes…only 2%…are in favour of the so-called “Swedish model”…61%…thought [the]…law…would make them less safe.  And…only 16% of…clients…said such a law would make them stop seeking to pay for sex…

Unfortunately, facts don’t concern politicians.

Damned If You Don’t (TW3 #343)

Charles CouchA man arrested in a police operation to harass and jail gay men was not only abused and threatened:  cops also stole his property, trashed his reputation and seriously jeopardized his career.  “Charles S. Couch…is suing the city [of Manhattan Beach, California]…Chief Eve Irvine and five police detectives, seeking $5 million in damages for mental distress, aggravation and loss of work.  He is being represented by civil and gay rights attorney Bruce W. Nickerson, who specializes in litigation surrounding police sting operations…

Rhinoceros (TW3 #403)

It turns out COAST is even sleazier than I thought:

…The majority of the board members of COAST’s backing group, the Association of Club Entrepreneurs (ACE), have been sued by their own employees for violations of labor law including wage theft, intimidation, charging debt-inducing illegal fees, and even sexual harassment…one of COAST’s co-founders, Michael Ocello, got involved in anti-trafficking efforts after the Illinois club he owned was raided by federal agents…

The Missing Word

The ridiculous claim that 42% of all UK sex workers are male derives from a bad study which makes two false assumptions: that each sex worker takes out one and only one ad at a time, and that all sex workers use all advertising platforms equally.  But that’s not the interesting thing about this article; it’s the fact that when men are the subject, agency is not denied and the word “trafficking” is nowhere to be found.

Property of the State

Women’s advocacy and drug-policy reform organizations are calling on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to “publicly renounce” enhanced criminal penalties for pregnant women.  It’s an issue that’s been gaining more attention since the July…conviction of Lacey Weld…[who] was pregnant at the time she made (and used) meth…[and] received an extra six years of prison time…Many object to charging a pregnant meth user with “child endangerment” on the grounds that an embryo or fetus is not yet a “child”.  But we also…[know] that heavy drinking and poor nutrition are much more dangerous to developing fetuses than exposure to meth…

The Roof Caves In

The Somaly Mam Foundation…shuttered its entire operation…and urged its followers to support other anti-trafficking groups…The SMF website on Saturday appeared to be stripped of all its content except for the announcement on its homepage…

Of course, the same bunch have already started a new “rescue” scam.

If Men Were Angels

A man who claims he can “cure” gay people…raped a teenage boy and threatened to kill him with his “warlock powers” if he told.  Kentucky police have arrested…youth pastor Rex Allen Murphy…the 16-year-old [victim said Murphy]…told him…that by brushing his skin or shaking his hand…he could tell his sins…Murphy reportedly asserted he thought he would be able to help the victim with his “battle with homosexuality because he, too, had experimented with homosexuality”…

Schadenfreude (TW3 #434) 

Five Women in Whitechapel (TW3 #437) 

It was supposed to have been the definitive piece of scientific evidence that finally exposed the true identify of Jack the Ripper…However, the scientist who carried out the DNA analysis has apparently made a fundamental error that fatally undermines his case…it would mean his calculations were wrong and that virtually anyone could have left the DNA that he insisted came from the Ripper’s victim…

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (TW3 #440)

following the mass eviction of over 1,449 prostitutes from…Dolly…it would appear that Papua has become a destination of choice among a small portion of the evictees…Papua is by far the richest province in Indonesia in terms of natural resources, boasting some of the largest gold, silver, copper and timber reserves on earth…nouveau riche mining capital has ensured that sex workers in Papua are among the highest paid in Indonesia…

The Face of Trafficking

I’m going to use this subtitle for stories refuting the myth of the evil client:

A woman who was lured to Dubai by promises of a job [in a beauty salon] but was then forced into prostitution was rescued by her first customer when she burst into tears and told him her story…the victim [said]…“He…booked me a ticket back to Morocco and even drove me to the airport”…she was not allowed to leave the country because…her employment contract had not been cancelled, so she headed to airport police and told them the whole story…

There was an earlier example here.

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It is an obnoxious and unacceptable conceit, a form of abuse, to deny sex workers their agency.  –  Graham Scrambler

Think of the Children! buttle opener

Sex rays are so insidious they can even radiate from pieces of plastic via the principle of sympathetic magic:

A week after Mark Gregory was elected chairman of the Williamson County school board, an online petition was launched  …demanding [he] step down from the post because of his role in creating the ButtleOpener, a novelty bottle opener shaped like a female rear end…

The Red Umbrella

Matthew Carney, 18, walked with [a sex worker] to a secluded area…after paying her…But as soon as they were alone Carney…repeatedly [punched] and [kicked] her in the head, causing severe injuries to her face.  He then walked off with her handbag…the courageous victim went to the police…[and] Carney was sentenced to seven years in prison…

Do As I Say, Not As I Do 

[Pittsburgh-area cop] Joshua Rush was [arrested]…[for] texting a prostitute he had a sexual relationship with…When police busted [her]…she showed them a string of text messages…in which he allegedly said he would distract officers from [going into her stroll]…

Check Your Premises

Earlier this year, Bensalem [Pennsylvania] police participated in Operation Cross Country…While the overt goal was busting pimps and prostitutes, the underlying objective was to create connections to help law enforcement find and stop child sex trafficking…“You need an approach that develops trust”…

You read that correctly:  these cops are so disconnected from reality that they think deceiving, raping and caging women is a good way to “develop trust”.

Validation

It’s always nice to be backed up by academics:

…the wealthy and powerful should not be permitted to swap policy-based evidence for evidence-based policy…Stereotypes of sex workers are simplistic, replete with errors of commission and omission…most public health researchers…respect…sex workers and oppose…any attempt to (further) criminalize them…[but] the weird admix of radical feminists and Christian…right-wingers who [push] “sexual trafficking”…are resistant to data:  they…wish the public to believe that [all] sex workers…have been trafficked.  Their…”moral crusade” is to legislate for the abolition of the industry…

Public Service Announcement Brooks Newmark

Just in case you thought only American politicians were this foolish:

…Brooks Newmark quit as Minister for Civil Society after he was caught sending an explicit photograph of himself…to someone he believed was a woman…as part of a tabloid newspaper sting operation …Mr Newmark initiated a private message conversation on a social networking website and sent a graphic picture exposing himself…

Surplus Women

Authorities are looking for the killer of a woman found in Lake Lucerne and identified…as a 36-year-old Bulgarian prostitute…Work colleagues…[contacted] police… because they had not been able to contact her for a long time on her cell phone…

Legal Is as Legal Does

Almost all countries criminalise some aspect of sex work, including…Australia…sex work under “legalisation” is still…conceived of as a crime for which the law makes allowances.  These laws that govern sex work can be found in the criminal code…and…the police [enforce the]…regulation.  When I asked Jules Kim…of Scarlet Alliance…about the effect of all these regulations on the lives of sex workers in Victoria, she pointed out that many were deeply invasive of privacy…

See also “Bottleneck” below.rapist pig Michael Arnold

Above the Law 

Michael Arnold sexually assaulted a female prisoner shortly after she gave birth in 2012:  He pleaded guilty…[but spent] no time in jail…a just-filed lawsuit [names]…Arnold…the [rent-a-cop] firm for which he worked…[and]  Arapahoe County Sheriff David Walcher…Angela Weishoff…was [still] groggy [from an epidural] when [Arnold orally raped her until]…a nurse noticed the dimmed lights and entered the room, causing Arnold to quickly re-zip his pants…

An Example To the West

I hope this is available outside of India, too:

…a music band led by children of Sonagachi sex workers…[launched] their maiden album…Nijhum Raater Taara (Star of the Silent, Still Night)…[is a] compilation of seven adhunik gaan (Bengali modern songs)…The band [is backed by] DMSC…

Wise Investment (TW3 #23)

Let’s hope we see many more cases like this:

Fairview [New Jersey] has agreed to pay $145,000 to a [massage] business that had accused police officers of trespassing and…illegal search and seizure…during a prostitution sting…After five years of legal wrangling…the parties this week agreed to settle rather than go to trial…

The Widening Gyre

All it takes to be a “sex trafficking expert” is to declare yourself one, and to be able to tell tall tales with a straight face:  “Detective [Bill] Woolf said he’s seen some horrifying things working with victims.  ‘Girls have been…locked in refrigerators as punishment for not performing various sex acts’…

Bottleneck

Despite the fact that she found some sex workers to support this precursor to criminalization, remember that about 90% of whores worldwide prefer to work illegally than submit to licensing:

A…[politician] wants to force sex workers in Buenos Aires City to register their names with authorities…[as] part of a larger bill that seeks to impose regulation…in order to “distinguish sexual work from human-trafficking”…Maria Rachid…insists [the registry] will be confidential and only accessible to competent authorities…

The “competent authorities” are the most dangerous ones.

King of the Hill

Prince George’s County…[is] seeking to crack down on human trafficking…by banning hourly rentals of hotel rooms…The Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force has called the state a “hot spot” for trafficking on account of…Interstate 95…bus stops and truck stops…The state ranks eighth in the country for…human trafficking-related reports.  Police in Prince George’s County have conducted a number of high-profile prostitution stings in recent years…

With Friends Like These…

I’ll bet this delusional ignoramus thinks he’s being “fair” and “sensible”:

…Most of the women who enter the sex trade have done so before a true age of consent.  They are…dependent on their pimps and usually on one or more narcotic substances, they have entered the sex industry as serfs…They age at an exponential rate of maybe 5 to 1…The average age is 13.  Some victims are as young as 9 and 10…many…are…literally…abducted…the reality for most…lured into this work is…a seven-year life expectancy…I think that regulating the sex work industry — granting and renewing licenses…would give sex workers some of the protections they want and make it possible for…authorities to rescue teen sex slaves…this…recognizes both the reality of human behavior…and this new…exploitation of children…There is an explosion of pornography…and…perversion.  Americans are oversexed…Something is deeply wrong in our culture and…spiritual life.  And I have to think that this is related to the sexualizing…of children…

Dysphemisms Galore 

“Authorities” have no idea how moronic they sound:

Ramona Judith Mora Garcia…pleaded guilty…to two felony counts of conspiracy to commit pimping…Garcia is a pimp/ modern-day slave owner who exploits women and/or children for financial gain.  She required the victims in this case to turn over half the payment they received for performing unlawful sex acts from sex purchasers…

Book Review:  America’s War on Sex

At long last, Dr. Marty Klein has made a public statement against “sex trafficking” hysteria:

…if you define trafficking broadly enough, it does look like there are a million or more victims…Some…define [it] to include all prostitutes…[and] porn actresses…No wonder these…“researchers” get such enormous, scary, numbers…activists keep warning of the number of people “at risk” for being sex trafficked…because they’re poor, or unloved, or drug-addicted, or have trouble with English.  Using that logic, 45 million Americans are “at risk” of dying in plane crashes every month, and twenty million Californians are “at risk” of dying in car crashes every week…

A Procrustean Bed (TW3 #339)

Ohio now has “trafficking court” as well:

Judge Paul…Herbert’s five-year-old human trafficking court…[is] the first…in Ohio…The court is an intensive two-year commitment that starts with women arrested for prostitution pleading guilty before Herbert.  They’re required to enter counseling programs…Erica Cortez said…”I had to completely surrender to what they were trying to show me”…

China and Vietnam recently abandoned coerced “re-education” for sex workers, but Americans are embracing it.  Welcome to the future.

Rough Trade (TW3 #351)

Jillian Keenan is proving herself a worthy ally:

…If history is any evidence, serial rapists target sex workers first.  And when they get away with it, they’re…free to hunt all women…Prostitutes who report sexual assault to police can be laughed at, ignored, accused of lying, arrested, or worse…New York State’s…rape shield law—which protects rape victims from having their sexual histories used against them in criminal proceedings—explicitly does not apply to anyone with a prostitution conviction…And when an…Oakland [California] sex worker…applied for state-funded victim compensation after…rape left her unable to return to work immediately, she was denied support…The police and criminal justice systems treat sex workers as though rape were a mere “occupational hazard” of their work — an accusation that would never be thrown at a bank teller who survived a robbery…

Imaginary Crises (TW3 #410)

This parody springs from the absolutely true observation that “if the risk of sexual assault on campus were truly one in five…no parent in their right mind would send their daughter to coed universities.”

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (TW3 #431)

File this one under “100% predictable”:

…Surabaya…mayor…Ibu Tri Rismaharini…[assumed] that Dolly’s sex workers would be eager to take up a lower-paid…vocation, such as cookery or garment making…[but] only 476 sex workers bothered to claim their $400…severance package…the overwhelming majority of ex-Dolly sex workers are now…undercover – working Surabaya’s streets, hotels and karaoke bars…prior to the shutdown the sex workers…told us that they would…go on selling sexual services no matter what…But…the shutdown went ahead regardless…

Bait and Switch

If you believe this, I suggest you reread the original of this title:

Long Beach police…arrested 91 suspected pimps and johns during an eight-month investigation aimed at combating sex trafficking.  Authorities also recovered 22 young women who they alleged were working as prostitutes…In one case, a man arranged to have sex with two children under the age of 10…When the trunk of his car was searched…a large roll of carpeting, several rolls of duct tape, handcuffs, and a magazine full of bullets were found…

“Recovered” means “abducted and caged”.

Surplus Women (TW3 #439)

Peechington Marie on the lack of media concern for Tjhisha Ball, Angelia Mangum and black sex workers in general:

…Little has been said about the murder of…these young women, and what has been said either glosses over or luridly magnifies one very important factor…Tjhisha and Angelia worked as exotic dancers…Even in…mostly positive [articles]…I walked away…feeling both shameful and shamed, as if they were written to say, “News reports say they were exotic dancers, quick, let’s fight to erase that so the girls can appear deserving of our sorrow and rage”…

The fundraiser for their funeral expenses is still open for donations.

The Roof Caves In (TW3 #439)

Somaly Mam’s…comeback scheme…hinges on that one Marie Claire interview, acquired in the course of four and a half days on the ground by Abigail Pesta…the interview is spurious.  It paints all of the allegations against Mam as unique to Newsweek, when in fact they are of a compendium of years’ worth of investigative work…Simon Marks…had done at the Cambodia Daily…one of the…Marie Claire sources, Thou Soy, works for AFESIP…and…holds a stake in seeing Mam’s reputation restored…only 49 percent of…women and girls at AFESIP shelters…could be considered “trafficked” under any definition of the term…and…the job training…[they] receive…is largely suited for employment in the service industry and Cambodia’s $5.53 billion garment sector…It’s one reason the global garment industry may be one of the primary sources of funding for anti-trafficking NGOs…C-36 hearings

Whither Canada? (TW3 #439)

Unlike their US counterpart, the Canadian media are not only politicians’ lap dogs:

…Alan Young…had a lot to say…about the constitutionality of…bill [C36] and where his focus would be if he…[challenges] it.  Few Conservative senators seemed terribly interested…apparently they’re content with assurances from Justice lawyers that the bill is constitutionally sound.  This is the same Justice Department, of course, that argued the previous law was constitutional…I wouldn’t trust these people to tell me it’s raining…What does it say about the Senate if everyone already knows what they will do with one of the most hotly debated and controversial bills in recent memory?  Forget about sober second thought.  Can we at least get some thought?

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I don’t want to put myself out of business as a storyteller; I just want to tell less painful stories.  –  Melissa Gira Grant

Maggie in the Media LiberTea 8-17-14

Here are a couple of conversations I’ve had in the past few weeks; the How We Talk About Sex podcast with Eric Leviton (recorded the morning after I arrived in New York City), and the LiberTea spreecast (recorded last Sunday night within minutes of my arrival from Washington DC).  These are both very loose, informal conversations, about two hours each, with a lot more laughter and joking around than you might be used to from me.

Do As I Say, Not As I Do 

Try not to throw up when you read the name cops gave their entrapment scheme:

…[Florida] police detective…Reno Chevelle Fells resigned…after his arrest at a St. Augustine Beach hotel [after responding] to an online ad offering sex for money…”Operation Summer Lovin'” resulted in 14 arrests…

Law of the Instrument

Another cop helpfully explains that “sex trafficking” is everywhere, that “victims” don’t know that they’re victims and that women are so stupid and passive they have to be “taught” and “coached” to fear and distrust thugs who deceive, molest, chain and cage them. Words fall utterly short.

Somehow, I Doubt He Thought This Through

[William McDaniel] reported he did not get the sex act he requested as part of his $350 private dance at Sagebrush Sam’s Exotic Dance Club…west of Butte [Montana].  Officers informed him asking an exotic dancer for a sexual gratification is illegal and put him in jail for solicitation of prostitution…

Schadenfreude 

In “Unraveling”, Anne Elizabeth Moore discusses the deep connections between the “rescue” and garment industries (in comic strip form, drawn by Melissa Mendes).  There are also links to other strips in the series.  If you’re ever wondered why “rehabilitation” for sex workers so often seems to involve working in sweatshops, and why Somaly Mam was sponsored by fashion companies, you need to read this.

Scapegoats

An Albuquerque woman was arrested…after…she tried to poison her roommates when they discovered she had been having sex with two German shepherds.  Shari Walters…was…caught…having sex with both her roommates’ dogs…the night after…both roommates noticed their food tasted different…Walters…admitted to putting rubbing alcohol in both roommates’ waters, as well as toilet bowl cleaner in their food…

Above the Law

Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper…Eric Roberts…pulled [a woman] over without probable cause…then…forced the victim to perform sexual acts in his patrol car, before driving to another location where he…raped her…”  But Roberts is just a piker compared to his “brother officer” Daniel Holtzclaw:

…Daniel Ken Holtzclaw, 27, was arrested…on complaints of rape, forcible oral sodomy, sexual battery and indecent exposure…Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty said…Holtzclaw stopped women while he was working and forced them to expose themselves, fondled them and in at least one instance [raped] a woman.  Authorities have statements from six victims and expect a statement from a seventh…investigators believe there are additional victims…

The Lion and the Ox

There’s an awful lot of “suppose” and “maybe” here:

…The link between surrogacy and human trafficking is currently under investigation.  It is unequivocal that any child conceived to be sold constitutes a trafficked human…A clause in [UN protocol]…states that “references to slavery and similar practices may include illegal adoption in some circumstances”…it is unlikely, but possible, that the babies or embryos were envisaged for exploitation in the sex industry, on the illegal donor market, for slavery or the labour market.  This, de facto, constitutes a human trafficking case…Exploring links between…surrogacy and illegal adoption…automatically leads to organised crime…we may infer that the children were to be sold into an illegal adoption scheme…Suppose the children were conceived to be enslaved or exploited in the sex industry…

Somebody’s Daughter

Stalwart ally Elizabeth N. Brown on the “Would you want your daughter to be a whore?” fallacy:

…Using his apparent mind-reading powers, [Damon Linker] asserts that no one could honestly be okay with having a child in porn…Linker knows that nearly everyone must feel appalled because… he thought about it and was appalled?  That’s some pretty shaky logic…I would sure as shit rather have a porn star daughter (or son) than one who thinks, as Linker does, that being in porn makes someone “low, base, and degraded”…There’s nothing wrong with having certain expectations for your children…But…Our best laid plans mean jack…Proponents of decriminalization aren’t asking you to become pro prostitution, to encourage your kids to go into sex work, or even to abandon thinking it’s morally wrong, if that’s what you think…All we’re asking is for you to consider that criminalizing prostitution does more harm than good.  If — gasp! horror! disgust! — your daughter did happen to become a sex worker, wouldn’t you want to make it as safe and non-ruinous for her as possible?

Profound Ignorance

The “before the internet most whores were streetwalkers” and “each whore has only one ad” tropes just won’t die no matter how many times we kill them:

…A snapshot as recently as last week found 2,253 individuals advertising sex for sale [in Scotland] on a series of escort and other websites…However, sources stressed numbers have been close to 3,000 in recent months as the market – largely featuring foreign women who move around or are moved around – ebbed and flowed.  The sex trade has moved off the streets in recent years as women working in flats replaced traditional streetwalkers, most of whom were Scots with addiction or debt problems…Detective Chief Inspector Ruth Gilfillan…said she believed “well over 90 per cent” of sex work was now carried out from flats or brothels…

Texas Tall Tales Facebook Pimp

Texas just loves the “Facebook pimps” myth:

…pimps, hiding behind fake identities, increasingly use social media to lure young girls into the trade.  Unscrupulous predators and the popularity of online networking have made it tougher for authorities to crack down on sex trafficking.  Police estimate that 100 adolescents are trafficked every year in Dallas…

The article also claims that the undefined “illicit sex market” in Dallas is worth $99 million (per year? per day? as a purchase price?) and that 1 in 7 (14%) of the “children” reported missing are “probably victims of sex trafficking”…which would be a good trick, since only 0.014% of all “missing children” are abducted by strangers.

Banishment

But officials claim “sex offender” registration isn’t a punishment.

Dozens of sex offenders who have satisfied their sentences in New York…are being held in prison beyond their release dates because of a new interpretation of a state law that…restricts many sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school.  Those unable to find such accommodations often end up in homeless shelters.  But in February…[“authorities” proclaimed] the 1,000-foot restriction also extended from homeless shelters, making most of them off limits…in New York City…only 14 of the 270 shelters…have been deemed eligible to receive sex offenders.  But with [these] often filled to capacity, the state has opted to keep certain categories of sex offenders in custody…Some have begun filing habeas corpus petitions…demanding to be released…The state’s [pretense] is that it has the legal authority to continue holding [them]…because they are largely subject to post-release supervision by the state…[such as] unannounced home visits…as well as restrictions on Internet use and interactions with minors…

Under Every Bed 

As in the Chanel Island of Jersey, population < 100,000:  “Jersey Police…are investigating a sex trafficking ring.  The force say they have received information about a growing sex trade in the island, with women potentially being trafficked and exploited…

Monsters

The parents of an eight-year-old beat “every inch” of him, until he was dead, because he played with dolls…Pearl Fernandez, 30, and Isauro Aguirre, 34, beat their son Gabriel…“for eight straight months”, and he was “tortured more severely than many prisoners of war”…According to statements given by his two siblings, he was forced to eat cat faeces and rotten spinach and was not allowed to use the toilet…He was beaten with a metal hanger, a belt buckle and lost multiple teeth when he was hit with a bat…

Lower Education 

Northern Illinois University is restricting students’ access to certain websites.  For their own good, of course…Students who attempt to visit an unauthorized site through the campus network are redirected to a creepy “Web Page Access Warning”…[which] one student reported…to Reddit after he received a warning for trying to access the Westboro  Bapist Church’s Wikipedia page…NIU cites “common sense, decency, ethical use, civility, and security,” as its various rationales for…[trying] to dissuade students from visiting websites deemed harmful by administrators…

web page censorship threat

Mumbo Jumbo

When an article is this shockingly stupid, it’s hard to decide how to file it.  Is the most important factor the hilarious “Harvard of sex trafficking” label, or the use of the word “literally” to describe something that isn’t literal?  Is it a woman’s changed, then recanted, then re-sworn testimony being described as “her true story” because it agrees with prosecutors’ claims?  Is it yet another woman being caged to compel her testimony?  I was tempted to give precedence to the statements made by “trafficking expert” Donna Sabella, who said that domestic violence is “like” domestic violence (yep); that “prostitution…often results in arrested development — young women with the social or emotional age of someone 12 or 13”; and that “trafficking…has become somewhat normalized through…music, pimp costumes and shows like Pimp My Ride“.  But I eventually decided that it had to be Milwaukee cop Dawn Jones’ claim that “girls are…property of one pimp or another” but can change this supposed “ownership” to a new pimp by “looking one in the eye”.  It is unclear whether the magical “ownership”-changing force proceeds from the eye of the whore or the “pimp”.

Gorged With Meaning (TW3 #409)

Pamela Stubbart is a libertarian who resigned from an organization called Young Voices because it allowed Belle Knox, who is also a libertarian, to join.  While I totally support the right of any person to associate or disassociate with others as she sees fit, and to like or dislike people (including me) or activities (including mine) as her psyche dictates, I do rather wish she hadn’t laced her resignation letter with prudishness draped in faux-reason.  Anyhow, Cliterati writer Slut O’Crat has penned an in-depth look at what’s wrong with Stubbart’s behavior, and more generally at the weird aversion some sex worker activists have to many sex workers’ wholly-natural and eminently-predictable embrace of libertarian ideas.

Worse Than I Thought (Traffic Updates)

the [Arkansas] Task Force for the Prevention of Human Trafficking…presented findings and recommendations to the Judiciary Committee…It…[wants] to add human trafficking convictions to those requiring registration as a sex offender.  Other recommendations include posting a hotline number at all rest stops, state parks, and schools with grades 6-12.  This is an extension of legislation already passed which requires the hotline number to be posted at sexually oriented businesses and truck stops…

A Whore in Church (TW3 #433) Patrick Johnson

[After] bare-breasted women…marched in front of the New Beginnings Ministries church in [Ohio]…Patrick Johnson…of the anti-abortion group Personhood Ohio, responded…by asking Ohioans to call the legislature in support of banning “all public nudity in the state,” according to WSYX.  “I am sick that women can legally bare their breasts to children and to married men against their will in Ohio…what they did was an offense to God, was an offense to the public morality, and the legislature should act to criminalize what they did”…

Uncommon Sense (TW3 #433)

The proposed new law to “protect” German sex workers is very, very bad:

…the underlying spirit of this bill appears to be the perception of sex work as a social evil the government cannot rid society of and feels therefore obligated to impose regulations on it to such an extent where completely adhering to them is rendered virtually impossible, which in turn will enable law enforcement agencies to persecute sex workers and operators of prostitution businesses.  Hence, the title of this bill is utterly misleading and an insult to sex workers fighting for equal rights under the law…the bill will not protect sex workers, but instead…aims to protect society from the imaginary evil of prostitution…

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The only difference between an escort and, say, your sister is probably that an escort charges money.  –  Felix Clay

Rough Trade

Reporter casts violent rapist as a victim of prostitution:

…The havoc prostitution can wreak on lives played out in a London [Ontario] courtroom…when [Nelson] Martinez…was sentenced for what was described as a “callous and dangerous” attack on a sex worker…Martinez received a sentence of [merely] 38 months…[because] Justice Peter Hockin [was] impressed by Martinez’s promise to take counselling for his anger and sexual problems…[his] marriage was healthy until…Martinez turned away from his wife and children, and to pornography and prostitution…

Quite Possibly the Most Uptight Nerd EverPeppr

Actually, the author of this particular article isn’t uptight; he seems accepting, though he’s a bit ill-informed about screening and seems to believe streetwalking is the norm:

…the Berlin-based Peppr app uses GPS to connect potential clients with prostitutes in their immediate area…to save prostitutes from having to pound sidewalks for customers.  It was created by…Pia Poppenreiter…after seeing sex workers out of doors on a cold night…To help make sure that its sex workers don’t become part of any human trafficking chain, Peppr interviews its advertisers over the phone before they sign them up…The company will also not work with brothels, only individuals and escort agencies…

Full of Themselves

Megalomaniac speaks for thousands of people, claiming they all want celibacy:

Massage parlors…have multiplied over the past decade, and city leaders don’t believe the boom is based on increased demand for back rubs…South Pasadena City Manager Sergio Gonzalez said…“That is something I believe is exploitation of women…it’s promoting sex, and that’s not what we want in South Pasadena”…

The rest of the article lays the blame for this terrifying invasion of peaceful businesswomen on the incompetence of the California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC), an organization which claims to be such an efficient investigative body that it “did what the FBI couldn’t:  uncover PROOF of a “vast network” of traffickers!”  The law which created the CAMTC contained a “sunset clause” which will expire next year, and many politicians want it to do just that; however, CAMTC director Richard McElroy warns of dire consequences if his crack team of super-massage-cops is dissolved:  “The human trafficking cartel…are [sic] praying we sunset because we are the biggest thorn in their side”…

Don’t Take My Word For It

Men just can’t let go of the pathetic fantasy of the high-income heterosexual male prostitute with gorgeous customers:

…in…Fading Gigolo…John Turturro…plays…a gentle bookstore employee who loses his part-time job…For his first trick – a passionate one-on-one with [Sharon Stone] – Fioravante earns $2,500…A string of satisfied clients follow…and the money rolls in…

Follow Your Bliss

A [Washington state cop]…involved in fighting…sex trafficking was arrested…on child porn charges…Donald Glunt…described himself on his LinkedIn page as being a training coordinator for the church-based group Hope4Justice…officials…discovered images on Glunt’s city-owned cell phone while conducting an internal administrative investigation…

Gullible’s Travels

Just when you thought fake teen drug scares couldn’t get any stupider, Ohio local news brings us beezin, in which kids rub Burt’s Bees lip balm on their eyelids…If I had to guess, I’d say beezin is probably most popular at rainbow parties after drinking hand sanitizer and butt-chugging some vodka…”The peppermint oil in the lip balm is a very strong irritant and can cause inflammation in the eye”…[said] Dr. Brett Cauthen

The scare appears to have been touched off by this parody video:

Three Steps Back

Panhandling…in Louisiana would be banned if a bill the House unanimously [approved] …gets signed into law…[sponsor] Austin Badon…proposed the bill…[in] answer to a call by [cops] to help…break up obvious patterns of prostitution…The legislation would allow for prostitutes to be “hassled by the cops,” he said…it would also apply to hitchhikers…

Above the Law 

Four French police officers are being held in custody on suspicion of raping a 34-year-old Canadian woman at their Paris headquarters…[after she met them] during a night of heavy drinking at a nearby Irish pub…

Scapegoats (TW3 #10)

Given that politicians who obsess about certain kinks are nearly always practitioners of those same kinks, what are we to make of Joe Arpaio’s crusade against zoophiliac women?

Once again, deputies from the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office have busted someone who went to Craigslist looking for sex with an animal.  This time, a 22-year-old Phoenix man went to…Craigslist seeking a male horse “on which to commit the act of fellatio”…Detectives were able to identify the poster as…Donald Waelde…

It takes a truly sick mind to vomit out the phrase “commit fellatio”, and unless I miss my guess that’s not a man but a transwoman; of course, Arizona’s pretty intolerant of them as well.

Stand-Up Guys sexy clown

Once again, Cracked demonstrates it has the smartest talent pool in journalism today:

…I feel that if an adult woman…wants to charge money for sexual services, it’s not a lot different from anyone else charging for massage services, or to be a clown at your birthday party, except the balloon animals are way more fun.  They have an ability others are interested in that they have monetized.  If that upsets you, it’s probably because you have an issue, not them.  Naturally, I’m opposed to human trafficking, sex slavery, underage prostitution, violence, and substance abuse, but I really believe a person can sell sex and not be involved in any of that, just as you can be a pot smoker and maybe not be involved in Mexican drug cartels, the beheading of civilians, organized crime, robbery, and meth-related buggery…

The Pygmalion Fallacy

At least this particular iteration of “robot hooker” idiocy recognizes the possibility that sex work is here to stay:

John Danaher…published a paper that…lays out two contrasting hypotheses: one in which robots dominate the sex industry; and another in which robot use actually leads to an increase in human sex work…The displacement hypothesis says sex robots will eventually push human sex workers out of a job…The resiliency hypothesis…[argues] that human prostitutes are here to stay…[because] humans will overwhelmingly prefer a human-on-human encounter to one with a robot…and…somewhat humorously suggests that there will be a spike in human prostitution because robots will edge people out of otherwise conventional jobs…

Yes, women turning to sex work because they can’t find any other profitable work is “humorous”.  Naturally, the first hypothesis is “supported” with nonsense about “exploitation”, “sex trafficking” and “diseases”.

Small Choice

“Sex trafficking” is caused by abortion!

The one-child policy in China has resulted in more than just forced abortions and sterilizations — it has led to massive cases of child trafficking as families attempt to buy children.  It’s also leading to international sex slavery rings and selling women as brides…

The Public Eye

SWOP [Chicago held a]…public event…called, “Understanding Sex Work and Allyship”…on…the…social misperceptions surrounding sex work, and the services that SWOP provides…including…the need for decriminalization and basic labor rights as a way of countering isolation and shame…SWOP should be respected as a union organization, and equally as fighting an important civil-rights battle…

Buried Truth Martin Ssempa

“Eat the Poo Poo” sounds like the title of a punk album:

A Ugandan pastor who has spent years calling for a stricter anti-gay law could now be charged under that very same law…Martin Ssempa is notorious for screening gay porn in church and claiming it is common for gay men to “eat the poo-poo”…Paul Kaliisa, from Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST)…[suggests Ssempa] is almost “obsessed” with [gay porn].  “He moves everywhere with clips of gay men”…

Original Sin

Melissa Gira Grant has a good article about the evangelical Christian basis of “sex trafficking” hysteria, focusing especially on Sold No More (the ones who claimed a mineral show was a hotbed of “trafficking”) and Shared Hope International.  One interesting point:  Sold No More began as a “crisis pregnancy center”, one of those scams that trick women seeking abortions into anti-abortion propaganda sessions.

Dutch Threat

I’m Felicia Anna, a 27 year old prostitute from Romania working in the heart of the Red Light District in Amsterdam.  I’ve been working there now for more than 4 years, unforced, unexploited and completely on my own free will…Before I got in touch with my boyfriend, I had no idea of the stories, witch hunt and simply false facts…about my work place…and prostitution in general…most of the prostitutes don’t speak out…because they’re scarred of a pimp, or because what people are saying is true, but simply because they just don’t know what’s going on…almost nobody does anything to debunk these false stories and bring out the truth, and the people who did hardly got heard…

Race to the Bottom

What the hell is going on in Washington state?  These recent anti-whore editorials read more like something one might expect from a small-town paper in the Bible Belt than from a major newspaper in a supposedly “liberal” state.  This one urges the government to grant itself censorship powers over the internet and includes pearl-clutching sentences like “The Internet empowers pimps to post an endless stream of titillating photos of sex workers, many of whom are forced into the trade as children” (gotta love the juxtaposition of the term “sex worker” with blatant anti-agency propaganda).  Another one infantilizes women even further with prudish arsehole-clenching about “illicit ads that reduce people’s daughters to faceless bodyshots…body measurements…and suggestive pseudonyms.”  Yes, a grown woman with a university education wrote that.  A third one from Olympia quotes the usual idiocy, calls strip clubs “hotbeds of human trafficking” and cheers the enacting of a new law which “makes it a felony to coerce someone into involuntary servitude” (apparently, they’ve never heard of the 13th Amendment up there).  All I can say is, I know a lot of people who will be very disappointed when this moral panic collapses and they need to find a new way to sell papers.

Held Together With Lies (Hysteria on Parade)

This article is an odd hybrid; it admits that the majority of “trafficking” is for manual labor rather than sex, yet inflates the Bales number to 32 million, then claims that exploitative sweatshops aren’t exploitative if they’re owned and operated by “rescue” organizations. 

The Widening Gyre (TW3 #348)

Another mob-with-torches story from Los Angeles, containing this gem:

“We’ve got to swarm these girls with love,” said the Rev. Deborah Manns, who…works with police, probation officers and parents to reclaim runaway girls…”We go to parties, we go to parks, we go to malls…I will chase a girl down the street, grab her, hold her, fight her…whatever it takes to keep her from going back to the track”…where trafficking victims are often forced to sell their bodies…

Ignoring people’s choices, spying on them, tackling them and betraying them to cops is “love”.

Case Study

This Random Brothel Exposé Generator is pure brilliance.    

Worse Than I Thought (TW3 #403)

It’s really good to see Reason expressing such strong opposition to sex work criminalization lately, especially when they quote me in the process; I just wish they wouldn’t give quite so much time to the awful Dennis Hof.

Under Every Bed (All Traffick, All the Time)

The grandiosity of these delusions increases by the day:

Windie Jo Lazenko …went  to [North Dakota]…to fight the sex trafficking…that…is a direct result of the oil boom…she said…she has helped 10 trafficked girls escape the sex trade…“Some…hotels…actually have floors that are bought out by pimps…and it operates pretty much like a brothel”…

Marching Up Their Own Arses (TW3 #414)

You should’ve known that Arizona, which is trying to market itself as whore-hater central, would be the next to jump on the “escort licensing” fad:

Gov. Jan Brewer…signed sweeping legislation that…[forces]  businesses such as massage parlors and escort services that advertise online…to post their license numbers…[and] have written permission of any women they depict and have evidence they are not minors.  Cindy McCain…said the…law will help close off the state to…traffickers…[it] received unanimous support in…the…Legislature…

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There’s small choice in rotten apples.  –  William Shakespeare, The Taming of the Shrew (I,i)

Newsweek magazine, like its rival/soul sister Time, has been degenerating into yellow journalism at least since the term “moral panic” was coined in 1972; the primary reason is probably the rise of television news in the 1960s.  By the 1980s several of my English teachers were declaring it was no longer a credible source, and by the early ‘90s its main function seemed to be supporting prohibitionism by publishing disinformation-laden scare stories about sex, drugs, kids, stuff kids like, and drug-using kids having sex.  One favorite target is the internet, but that’s not surprising considering it’s the reason for the plummeting revenues of the past few years, which eventually resulted in the magazine’s sale to an entrepreneur on August 2nd, 2010 for the price of $1.  Not long after that it merged with the Daily Beast, which considering the latter’s own credibility issues hasn’t exactly helped.  Case in point, this recent article which claims to be about “human trafficking” in China, but actually appears to be an extended ad for the rescue industry.  It’s not the worst thing Newsweek has published lately, but it lies somewhere in the space between “Why Are Obama’s Critics so Dumb?” from January and “The John Next Door” from July of last year.

Steven Kim, an American businessman…may be the world’s leading expert on the market for North Korean brides…[while] living in China, overseeing the manufacture of chairs…he heard about a secret church that catered to…South Korean businessmen…Kim…became a regular attendee…and…began to assist North Korean refugees…[by providing] safe houses, food, clothing, and money; eventually he organized secret passage across China to third countries…Many of them turned out to be women fleeing from the Chinese men who had purchased them…

If the rest of the story continued like that you wouldn’t be reading it here.  But apparently Kim’s religious devotion, the four years he spent in a Chinese prison after he was caught, and the potential for massive profits in the rescue industry drove him to shift his focus from helping people who wanted to escape, to interfering in the lives of those who don’t:

Today he runs 318 Partners, a U.S.-based nonprofit dedicated to rescuing trafficked women in China…The only practical escape route for fugitives from North Korea is through China, and…roughly 80 percent of those thousands of refugees are women and girls who have become “commodities for purchase”…Ever since the one-child policy went into effect in 1979, Beijing has enforced it through fines, imprisonment, forced abortion, sterilization, and…infanticide.  The policy has had its intended effect of slowing the rate of expansion of China’s population.  But there has been an unwelcome side effect:  an unnaturally high male-to-female ratio…The result is an epic surplus of bachelors…[who] are often desperate—for companionship, for sex, for household help…

Chinese men want wives; North Korean women want to escape North Korea to the relatively-better conditions of China.  Therefore marriage brokers have arisen to put them together; the system is no more foolproof at making good matches than the biochemical-infatuation system prevalent in America, but nobody’s proposing that women be “rescued” from that.  When observed through the distorting lens of “trafficking” rhetoric, however, it becomes something else entirely:

…a chain of “suppliers,” “wholesale providers,” and “retail sellers” has developed…suppliers lure women from their homes with promises of a lucrative trip to China…if trickery fails, recruiters have been known to resort to kidnapping…wholesaler[s]…escort the women past Chinese ID checks to a safer place farther from the border…some of the women are sold directly to Korean-Chinese men who live in the region.  From the woman’s point of view, this is usually the better option.  Life with a Korean-Chinese man, in a community where the Korean language is spoken, is preferable to life with a Han Chinese man who speaks only Mandarin and whose culture and food will be unfamiliar.  Other brides…are resold to retailers…[who] in turn sell the women to their clients…for between $1,200 and $1,500…depending upon her age and appearance.

As I pointed out in “Creating the Crisis”, horrible political situations (such as North Korean tyranny or the government-created gender imbalance in China) are bound to create brutal, coercive environments where bona fide human trafficking or even chattel slavery can thrive, and I have no doubt that crimes such as those described here really are committed in some instances.  But how many of these transactions are based in fraud or violence and how many in women taking a calculated risk to get out of North Korea?  Does denying women agency and applying slave-trade dysphemisms really help outsiders to understand why men might conduct this sort of business and women go along with it?  The next paragraph struggles valiantly to make the women look like helpless victims, but careful reading reveals the truth:

At some point the woman realizes what is happening to her.  She then has two choices:  go through with the marriage or try to escape.  This is not really a choice.  The woman is on her own in a strange country…Most accept the inevitable and agree to be sold.  They reason, not illogically, that life with a Chinese husband, even an abusive one, is preferable to arrest, repatriation, and automatic imprisonment in a North Korean labor camp for illegally leaving the country…

Why does a “slave” need to “agree to be sold”?

…Because the woman has no official identity papers, the marriage cannot be legally registered.  Such pseudomarriages may be voluntary—at least in the sense that the woman has the theoretical option of turning down a man’s offer.  But it is wrong to consider it a true choice.  It is “a means of survival or livelihood,” says Lee Keum-soon, a senior researcher with the Korea Institute for National Unification in Seoul…In many cases, she says, a voluntary marriage is indistinguishable from a forced marriage.  The woman’s few alternatives may include prostitution or online stripping.  A woman who cannot speak Chinese would not be able to work in a restaurant or a store.  The North Korean woman “would quickly realize that there was no alternative but to establish a live-in relationship with a Chinese man…as a relatively safe means of staying in China.”  If a woman has relatives in China, they often urge her, not without reason, to strike a bargain with a Chinese man who will feed and house her in exchange for her labor and sexual favors…

If you can’t see the problem here, you need to reread “A False Dichotomy”.  By these standards, how many life-choices are “true” ones?  Do Chinese farmers “choose” to live in a country with no available women?  Do the so-called “traffickers” choose to live in government-destroyed countries with few means of getting ahead?  Obviously these women feel that staying in China, even under these conditions, is preferable to returning to North Korea, just as many people consider working in a sweatshop preferable to working on a farm.  It doesn’t help poor, disadvantaged people when educated, successful ones try to shut down some of their extremely limited options for the “crime” of failure to rise to Utopian levels.

As is typical for this type of article, it then descends into a long, lurid personal narrative designed to appeal to the reader’s emotions; in this case the writer willfully conflates the actions of “traffickers” with the brutality and corruption perpetrated by police and government officials in both countries.  It then returns to Kim, who admits that many of the “trafficked” women he endangers by his meddling tell him to get lost, but when he does manage to talk one of them into leaving with him he “sometimes asks the rescued women to pledge to pay back $1,000 of the costs once they get to Seoul and receive financial help from the South Korean government.”  In other words, he convinces them to allow him to illegally smuggle them out of their current situations and into another country, then charges them for the privilege.  Sound familiar?

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The dignity of man is in free choice.  –  Max Frisch

One of the most important negative effects of the popular concept that sex is somehow magically different from all other behaviors is the modern fixation on pimps.  The nightmares of neofeminists and the masturbatory fantasies of trafficking fetishists teem with brutal (and usually dark-skinned) men who force women into prostitution, despite the fact that (as I’ve pointed out on numerous occasions) the abusive, controlling pimp of legend is so rare we can consider him an anomaly.  In fact, the fraction of prostitutes who have such an abusive pimp – roughly 1.5% – is so similar to the percentage of women who report that their husbands/boyfriends are either “extremely violent” (1.2%) or “extremely controlling” (2.3%) that it’s pointless to consider them a different phenomenon, especially when one considers that any non-client male found in the company of a whore will inevitably be labeled a “pimp” by cops or prohibitionists.  The notion that hookers only have relationships with a certain kind of man, who is labeled a “pimp” by outsiders, derives from the Victorian fallacy (alas, still alive today) that we are somehow innately “different” from other women, and therefore our men are different as well.  This is pure nonsense; the only consistent difference between the husbands of harlots and those of amateurs is that ours tend to be less hung up about sex.

Yet the myth, anchored as it is in prohibitionist mythology, male insecurity and Hollywood stereotypes, is a persistent and pernicious one, affecting even those who recognize that most prostitutes are in the trade voluntarily.  A great deal of the milder trafficking rhetoric revolves around locating and identifying “sex slaves” and penetrating their supposed “brainwashing”  in order to “rescue” them, and judges and prosecutors stumble all over themselves when endeavoring to come up with inane and tautological justifications for persecuting so-called “pimps” whom they concede were fair businessmen who worked to protect their girls.  Even among many independent internet-based escorts there’s a low-level hysteria about pimps (as though a man somehow has the power to reach through their cell phones and abduct them into a third-world brothel), and more than one reader has asked how he can avoid “pimped” girls.

I recently received another question of this type, but this time rather than feeding into the false dichotomy of “free” vs. “coerced”, I’ve decided to cut to the heart of the dilemma.  The reader asked, “Is there even a grain of truth in this trafficking stuff, some ‘dark side’ I haven’t really seen despite my extensive experience?  If this stuff DOES happen – how do guys who pay for sex make sure they’re not contributing to hurting a woman this way?

For the most part, so-called “trafficking” is just people crossing borders to work, sometimes without proper documentation but not always.  This doesn’t mean that every woman in every brothel is there because she wants to be and for no other reason, but does anyone believe that most women who work as hotel maids or Wal-Mart clerks are there out of free choice?  Of course not, but neither were they abducted from their homes, carried off into bondage, threatened and all that jazz.  Yes, there are a few examples of extreme  coercion which are repeated endlessly by the fanatics, often exaggerated or with details omitted, and sometimes even rephrased so as to look like new ones.  But in the overwhelming majority of cases, women do sex work for the same reason they do any other kind of work: because they need money.  The number of women who are “coerced” into sex work is no higher than the number “coerced” into any other kind of work.  If you’re at Wal-Mart, how do you know your cashier doesn’t have a lazy boyfriend at home who forces her to work and takes her money?  You don’t.  And are you somehow wrong or immoral for checking your purchases out in her line if she does?

Let’s imagine a barbershop which caters to a male clientele; they just do regular haircuts, nothing fancy, but all the barbers are female.  Guys come in, get their hair cut, talk to the barbers, perhaps know their names.  Maybe a guy even has a favorite girl who always cuts his hair; she does a good job, is friendly and she’s nice to look at, too.  But what does he really know about her?  Only what she cares to tell him, and nothing more.  He doesn’t know what financial pressures she’s under, how much high-interest debt she has, how psychologically stable she is, if she was sexually abused as a child, whether she’s in the country legally, whether her boss treats her fairly and what her boyfriend is like.  And you know what?  None of that is any of his business unless she volunteers it; it’s outside the bounds of polite business conversation.  If his barber is under financial or emotional duress, is he somehow responsible?  After all, men don’t need to cut their hair; their demand for haircuts has created a market in which poor women are exploited to do work they may hate and possibly don’t want to do.

What if his barber actually has a degree in philosophy from an expensive school which she incurred massive student-loan debt to obtain, and is under threat of arrest from the government if she defaults, but she can’t get a job in this economy so she’s struggling with a debt which at her current rate of repayment will literally never be discharged?  Is she in “debt bondage”, and is the federal government a “pimp” or “human trafficker” for telling her she needs to pay off her debt or else?  If her parents cosigned those loans, the federal “traffickers” even keep her in line with threats to harm her family.  And if a man gets a haircut from her, is he “enabling” that situation…or is he contributing toward her survival until she can find something which pays better?

Adult women are ADULTS.  It isn’t the job of strangers, nor that of “rescue” organizations or the government, to police their private lives.  The essence of freedom, of individuality, of adulthood, is self-determination, and to deny a person that is to infantilize her.  It’s unfortunate that some people get into bad situations, often through no fault of their own.  But unless the victim of such misfortune wants and asks for help, it is demeaning and abusive to force it upon her under the premise that her “rescuer” is better or smarter or wiser or more mature or saner than she is, and therefore more qualified to make decisions for her than she is for herself.  Furthermore, it’s both rude and arrogant for a stranger to presume he has the right to question her on her financial situation, reasons for working and conditions of her relationships with men.  Nobody would behave in such a way toward a barber…so why do people think it’s OK or even necessary to do it to a prostitute?

Ask yourself:  Is sex degrading or dehumanizing?  Is work?  Is being paid?  No?  Then how can sex work be?  Why doesn’t the U.S. government prosecute Nike for its sweatshops in Southeast Asia or Apple for its sweatshops in China, and why aren’t these countries placed on “watchlists” by the State Department for allowing them to exist?  Why don’t we see campaigns to “end demand” for sneakers or iPhones?  Because they don’t involve sex, and that is the only difference.

One Year Ago Today

Lack of Evidence” examines the wide variety of behaviors, circumstances and personal possessions that police represent as “evidence” of prostitution.

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