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Posts Tagged ‘The New Victorianism’

We’re not trying to argue the morality of this. We’re trying to argue the reality of this.  –  Nicole Emma

Feminine Pragmatism 

One day, reporters will get that “People Work To Make Money” is not news:

Lao workers, many of them young and some still in their teens, have poured in growing numbers this year into neighboring Thailand, braving exploitation and unsafe work conditions in search of employment to help support families back home…nine Lao migrants [were] killed on Aug. 18 in a head-on collision while traveling to a border town to renew the tourist visas on which they had entered Thailand…an official…said…“They won’t [tell us their personal business [so]…we can’t stop them”…Many of those looking for work in Thailand voice concerns over family poverty as their reason for leaving home…Many young Laotians [are forced by arbitrary laws to] enter Thailand with the help of middle-men to work illegally…the…head of the anti-trafficking unit of the Thai-based Labor Rights Promotion Network…[said] “This is one of the loopholes in Thailand’s laws, and this is a problem [because we would rather force them to stay in Laos and die in poverty]”…

What kind of authoritarian mind thinks that “people killed in tragic accident while trying to comply with arbitrary government rules” is a less important point than where they were from or what they did for a living?

The New Victorianism

It’s about time Playboy started covering this topic more aggressively:

…Moral panic…and purity politics…interfere with our right to sexual safety, pleasure and free expression…civil policy-making has been supplanted by partisan uproar and triggered panic.  Sex is at the center of every one of these…sex…has become the enemy…Panic rejects nuance, debate and disagreement in favor of party lines and swift action.  Panic has resulted in the rise of cancel culture and the dismissal of due process…rational thinking has…been cast aside…In a sex panic, it becomes imprudent to question the extent to which sex-based discrimination exists.  It becomes dangerous to suggest that all sexual violations, and all experiences of sexual violence, are not equivalent.  As a consequence, we learn to shut up and sit down lest we face public condemnation and risk being attacked…moral panic is more about social control than ethical guidelines for how we should get along with one another…attempts to regulate morality only heighten panic by promoting, for example, sex-trafficking laws that ignore racist immigration policies and degrade sex workers as second-class citizens…Awkward sexual encounters continue to be conflated with the worst of accusations.  And then: If he’s accused, he must have done it…

Elephant in the Parlor

Too bad more politicians don’t hire the marginalized women cops are most likely to persecute:

West Virginia [politician] Mike Maroney has been charged with soliciting a prostitute…Maroney exchanged text messages to discuss prices and set up meetings with a woman who [was arrested]…Police [then snooped in her phone and started charging people for texting her]…

Micromanagement

The modern Fuhrer wants serial numbers tattooed on every cell of every prisoner of his concentration camps:

The Trump administration wants [the border Gestapo]…to collect DNA samples from undocumented immigrants in its [cages]…according to a draft policy…CBP officials would spend more than 20,000 additional work hours on such a policy in its first year of implementation.  Hundreds of thousands of individuals could have their DNA collected each year if the draft regulation, proposed by the Department of Justice, is fully implemented…

Choke Point (#593) 

We fucking told you so:

While sex-related businesses…have long faced draconian restrictions from banks, we’re living in a time when their position is more precarious than ever…If this continues, it will disproportionately impact small sex-focused businesses…further marginalize sex workers, and decrease access to positive information about sexual health…“To see [this] spreading to educators and activists is alarming,” said Lorrae Jo Bradbury, founder of Slutty Girl Problems, a sex-positive blog…these incidents have ramped up dramatically since…FOSTA…passed in the Senate…[creating] a more repressive era of the internet, one in which websites such as Tumblr have banned adult content, Patreon is kicking off adult performers, and financial institutions are clamping down on businesses even remotely connected to sex…

Safe Position

When this is happenening in Utah, you know we’re past the watershed:

The best way of protecting sex workers is to decriminalize their industry and allow them to come out of the shadows, a Salt Lake City nonprofit told Utah [politicians]…Nicole Emma…of the Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP)…told members of the state’s Criminal Code Evaluation Task Force…[that] if these penalties were removed, sex workers could communicate more openly about their industry, check client backgrounds more easily and blacklist bad actors…

The Monsters Are Due (#867) 

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

The recent spate of mob attacks in Uttar Pradesh has caught the state police on the back foot.  Incidents of hapless people…being brutally beaten up on suspicion of being child lifters are surfacing with alarming frequency…UP director general of police…OP Singh said…“A total of 46 incidents were reported in which one person was killed and 29 injured”…In…Ghaziabad, a middle-aged woman was…thrashed by a mob…[when] she went with her grandson for shopping…people have been attacked simply for being seen with a child…two siblings — Ramautar and Raju — were thrashed mercilessly…when…taking their nephew Ravi to a hospital for treatment…Ramautar [died and]…Raju [is] still battling for his life in the hospital…

The Clueless Leading the Hysterical (#886)

The pigs are starting their annual fearmongering early this year:

[Cops] in Massachusetts want to [spread yet another stupid panic]…about…ecstasy [pills]…in the shape of “SpongeBob SquarePants” cartoon characters…The National Institute on Drug Abuse…warns that MDMA use can “promote trust and closeness,” potentially encouraging unsafe sexual behavior…“Parents, guardians, and caretakers should be on the lookout for these as school starts and Halloween is fast approaching,” [pigs oinked]…

Yeah, because people are going to hand free samples of a drug that costs $100 a gram to anonymous brats.  And you’ve gotta love that the only “warning” these drug warriors can come up with is that stupid amateurs taking MDMA might do the same kind of stupid shit they do when sober.

Pyrrhic Victory (#960)

The more we discover about Amazon’s fascist collaboration with cops, the worse it sounds:

[Amazon’s] doorbell-camera company Ring has quietly forged [fascist] partnerships with more than 400 police forces across the United States, granting them access to homeowners’ camera footage…The number of police deals, which has not previously been reported, will likely fuel [belated] questions about privacy, surveillance and the expanding reach of [fascist surveillance]…The rapid growth of the program, which launched last spring, surprised [insufficiently-cynical] civil-liberties advocates…

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[Emotional] manipulation is where censorship pulls its strength, and keeps the discussion of porn within the realm of saving women and children.  –  Violet Blue

Mea Culpa

I don’t often make errors worth noting in the blog, which may be why I never had this heading before.  But when I do, they’re usually because my VEWWY SEEWEEUSS thought processes failed to recognize a joke or parody as such; that was the case in Sunday’s “Links #308“.  Author Christopher Seaton explains:

When I write at Fault Lines I usually do so from a very serious perspective. This is because keeping the cracks in our criminal justice system visible and educating the public about the law is serious. When the weekend comes, we usually loosen our belts, let our hair down, and have fun. My mischief caught the attention of Maggie McNeill this week, and the whole story is a great lesson in communication…Maggie McNeill is one of the most interesting people on the web, if you don’t read her work regularly.  She’s a writer, an academic, and a sex worker.  This is not someone you want to get into a fight with when it comes to criminalization of conduct in any way, shape, or form.  It’s not that I’m afraid of a good verbal spar with Maggie, I just know my limits…so I tweeted Maggie and told her it was a joke…she replies with an apology and says she had no idea Fault Lines posted anything but 100% dead serious content…I also appreciate Maggie letting her readership know I’m not on the side of over-criminalization…

Aversions

Margaret Corvid asked several sex workers what made their favorite clients special:

…sex work is work, and my favorite clients are like a writer’s, or a plumber’s: they’re the ones who treat me with respect…our favorite clients are the ones that respect our screening processes, that pay us, that don’t bully us or stalk us or subject us to their racist rants while we, on the clock, smile and nod.  My favorites read my website properly, learning my hours, fees, services and how I prefer to be contacted.  They don’t whinge if I ask for a deposit, and they don’t request services I don’t provide.  They respect my time.  They don’t call with cocks in hand for free sexy chat, or show up early while I’m still lacing myself into my corset…

The New Victorianism

So this happened to my friend Maggie McMuffin:

A burlesque dancer from Seattle, Washington, was informed that she would need to change her clothing if she wanted to board a flight from Boston to Seattle because her shorts were deemed “too short” by the flight crew.  The crew felt that the shorts may be deemed inappropriate by families on the flight and should be changed as not to offend anyone…Maggie McMuffin says that she had successfully flown on a JetBlue flight from New York To Boston without incident in the same pair of “too short” black and white shorts earlier in the day.  However, when she approached the gate to fly her second leg of her flight back home to Seattle, she was informed the shorts were not appropriate and that she needed to cover up more, as there were families on the flight that may find the attire inappropriate.  JetBlue says they personally called and apologized to Maggie about the incident and refunded her for the shorts she was forced to purchase in the terminal while also providing the woman with a $200 credit to use on future flights as a “goodwill gesture”…

Mentoring

Paint By Numbers

Why hike or stand when you can motorcycle?

[An Oregon] woman is using her love for motorcycling to spread awareness about child sex trafficking.  Gwen Feero is a special education teacher who is preparing to bike to all four corners of the United States for what she calls the Freedom Ride.  She decided to make the more than 11,000-mile ride after overhearing a sex trafficking conversation in Portland…

I think my profession must be the only one in the world that people think they’re “experts” in after eavesdropping on a conversation between two other lackwits.

Thou Shalt Not (#413)

Because prohibition always works so well:

Six out of ten Norwegians support a proposal from the Norwegian Medical Association…to ban the sale of tobacco products to anyone born after 2000…NMA [fantasized] in January that Norway [could] create “a tobacco-free generation” by 2035…NMA president Marit Hermansen said in January that it is not a basic human right to begin using tobacco…Health Minister Bent Høie [said]…the government has no plans to take up any legislation that would lead to a ban of tobacco sales.

Broken Record (#579) 

I’m not sure which part is more pathetic: this ass insisting that there’s rampant “sex trafficking” in South Dakota, or thinking a vacation in Southeast Asia makes her an “expert”:

…you’d be surprised how many people don’t think sex trafficking is a thing that happens here…in South Dakota…one of my favorite things we have done so far is our work with Whittier Middle School…This is how sex trafficking numbers go down. These kids need a reason to believe that they are worth more than a number some trafficker puts on them.  Traffickers only have power when they find those that believe their worth is so small that it can be bought…

Sales Pitch (#626) 

Aphrodite bless Wendy Lyon for enduring Swedish cops’ self-congratulatory pig porn to bring us the parts that most show up their “model” for what it is:

Swedish super cop Simon Haggstrom – you’ll know him from his frequent visits to other countries to proselytise for the sex purchase ban – has now published his memoirs.  Only in Swedish, alas, but that’s why God made Google Translate.  Here are some of his views on how the law actually functions in practice…it provides the cops with “excitement” and plenty of wank material, in which they themselves play a starring role in the action…it hasn’t changed men’s attitudes.  It isn’t deterring them from paying for sex.  It isn’t stopping women from selling sex (indeed, they have to engage in a sexual act before enforcement will take place at all).  It is subjecting them to unwanted interactions with the police, up to and including detention, and deportation for those who refuse to accept the cops’ “help”…even Amnesty might be surprised at the clumsy, cringeworthy porn that Haggstrom illustrates his accounts with..Is it any wonder he’s such an advocate for the law?  Without it, he’d have to get off with only his imagination again.

Among other lovely bits, Haggstrom reveals that Swedish cops harvest sex workers’ used tampons as “evidence”; he includes a photo of such in the book.  Hooray for “feminism”!

Gorged With Meaning (#639)

Articles on sugar dating appear to be starting to shed the moral panic:

“Sugar Daddy” arrangements have existed for ages, and it’s unclear if they are becoming more common because the phenomenon is not well studied.  But experts say at the very least the internet has made these transactions far easier to arrange and negotiate…U.S. undergraduate students last year finished school with an average of $35,000 in student debt — a figure that has risen steadily every year…The average graduate debt load is $75,000, and some longer programs force students into much deeper debt.  Many students say their loans don’t cover the cost of living, and with rent skyrocketing in most major cities, they are left scrambling to make up the difference.  One graduate student at Columbia University in New York had a scholarship that covered almost all of her tuition, but not her living expenses.  She spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the potential impact on her job prospects…she plans to continue “sugaring” after she graduates to buy herself time to find a more traditional job and remain officially unemployed so she can defer repaying the roughly $70,000 in loans she had already racked up.  “There is a lot of moral panic about it,” she said. “But what are the real estate and academic funding situations that led to this?”…

Almost the only negative statement is a quote near the end from a fanatic who claims that violence magically arises from money.

The Pro-Rape Coalition (#641) 

Violet Blue exposes the connection between a number of recent anti-sex op-eds:

…under the guise of…objectivity and presenting a range of opposing views on pornography, the [Washington] Post ran its “In Theory” porn series…Out of seven articles, only one presents an opposing viewpoint…When the two essays that could be considered positive or neutral viewpoints were published, they were simultaneously published with anti-porn essays…The Washington Post not only deceived readers about the agenda of its “In Theory” porn series, the outlet also deceived readers about the sources of these writings.  For instance, its final day in the series featured an article by Haley Halverson which depicts the anti-porn movement as a cultural zeitgeist brought on by public common sense, thanks to the good efforts of The National Center on Sexual Exploitation.  What readers are not told is that NCSE is the re-branded faith-based group Morality In Media, Inc., which changed its name in 2015.  Halverson runs its PR department.  This organization is a thread connecting most of the Post’s authors…

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The Constitution tells us that…the state may not use a butcher knife on a problem that requires a scalpel to fix.  –  Judge John T. Nixon

No Other Option

A former madam…[will] open the UK’s first brothel…for disabled clients.  Becky Adams…said:  “People have the same sexual urges whether they’re disabled or not…A soldier who comes home from war disabled doesn’t stop being a normal, healthy person with normal, healthy needs…Our new brothel will be kitted out with ramps and hoists for wheelchair access, just like any other service for disabled people.”  The two-roomed establishment, called Para Doxies from the old English word for prostitutes, will be sufficient for two sex workers…and staff to assist clients…the brothel will provide transport to collect clientsIrene Norton born Adler by Allen St. John and take them home afterwards…

Heroines

As I’ve mentioned before, Irene Adler was one of my favorite fictional heroines, yet a number of people seemed surprised when I was displeased with the BBC turning her from a courtesan into a dominatrix in its “updated” Sherlock Holmes series.  This recent io9 article by Esther Inglis-Arkell explores the problems of modern Adler adaptations at some length:

Irene Adler only appeared in one of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, but she’s considered a pivotal figure in the Holmes canon, nonetheless.  And we’ve seen several of the latest…interpretations debut their own versions of Irene Adler in recent years…Why is Arthur Conan Doyle’s Irene Adler so much better than the versions crafted by Steven Moffat and Guy Ritchie?…In both…Irene Adler is not simply an admirable person with a taste for sleuthery and adventure.  In the movie series, she’s both a woman who marries rich men for a living and a thief…In the TV series, she’s a dominatrix who dabbles in blackmail and international terrorist intrigue (on the side of the terrorists).  Both characters lean very heavily on sexuality and criminality…and…while the original Adler was independent, they’re both pawns of Moriarty…

Secret Squirrel

Intra-family spying gets ever more intrusive:

…KidTrack™…monitors text messages, incoming and outgoing phone log, each web site visited, location and media…“We see this as being no different than a parent examining the contents of a backpack…” said Ernie Rush of Rush Software…[customer] Rebecca Quesada [said] “As a mother, I feel much safer knowing that I have access to every single text message my daughter sends and receives…I can know where she is at all times, know who she is calling and who she is being called by and have access to every picture that she takes, as well as every single web site that she visits”…KidTrack silently captures this information and periodically uploads it to…servers where it can be viewed by the parent via a web browser…

“Silently” = “without the kid’s knowledge”.  And that means it can just as easily be loaded onto a spouse’s or employee’s phone.  My mother was incredibly overprotective by ‘70s standards, but you know what?  She respected my privacy, and never once (to my knowledge) snooped in my purse, read my mail or censored my reading material.

Droit du Seigneur

Normally I’m against lynch mobs, but in the case of “authorities” I make an exception because it’s often the only way they will face any consequences for their actions:  “…a politician in northeast India accused of rape was stripped and beaten by a crowd of women.  Bikram Singh Brahma is a member of the Congress Party in Assam…He was arrested…[after attacking] the woman…while he was staying at her family’s house…

The New Victorianism

Apparently, the average age of Xactware board members is 12:

The Lehi [Utah] City Council has renamed Morning Glory Road after a technology company planning to relocate to the street raised concerns about the name’s sexual connotation…”Morning glory” is the name of a flower…but…is sometimes used to describe male arousal.  Councilman Johnny Revill…[said] he didn’t know about the term’s slang meaning previously but was happy to appease Xactware officials…

With Folded Hands

This reaction to a terrible freak accident is, apparently, not a parody:

22 year old stripper in Cleveland, OH [died]…after a freak lap dance accident.  She apparently launched herself over a railing, falling head first to the floor 15 feet below…she should have been provided with adequate safety gear.  Safety straps and fall netting should have been an absolute minimum protection…something clearly needs to be done.  Better equipment and improved training are clearly called for…drug testing might also be in order…

The Punitive Mindset

Time tries to glorify the controlling behavior of a pathologically-entitled prude:

Administrators let offenders at one of Iowa’s most dangerous prison units watch violent and sexually explicit movies and TV shows…despite repeated complaints from a female officer who said it encouraged inmates to sexually harass her…administrators told [Kristine Sink] not to turn off the…shows.  When she did, they accused her of insubordination…Sink said she has fought a lonely battle under four wardens against movies that caused inmates to become sexually aggressive — through “10 years of misery.”  She filed a lawsuit…against prison officials alleging sexual harassment, discrimination and workplace retaliation, seeking an unspecified amount of damages…

I have a solution for you, Kristine.  If you are too prissy to handle the sort of raw behavior any sane person would expect from male prisoners, why don’t you get a job someplace other than a FUCKING MEN’S PRISON?

Presents, Presents, Presents!

BullshitI receivedSex Power two more generous presents this week:  the whole series of Bullshit! from Paul Reinerfelt, and the Sex Power soundtrack from Pat Murphy.  Also, I’ve discovered that it was Gumdeo who sent the copy of Crisis and Leviathan last week.  My sincere thanks to all of you!

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs

Notice that “feminists” aren’t too concerned with “stereotyped gender roles” when it comes to “rescuing” sex workers:

…in an endeavor as far removed from their former lives as the gleaming banks and trendy boutiques of Tel Aviv are from the city’s sleazy subculture…former prostitutes…have received…training in dress design and sewing…[and] are now aiming to find a place in the world of fashion…

One later passage is absurd even by lawhead standards:

Up until a few years ago Israel was a prime destination for traffickers of women.  An estimated 3,000 women per year were smuggled in, mostly from Eastern Europe, to work in the sex industry.  That number has declined since Israel passed an antitrafficking law in 2006…and most of the prostitutes here are now said to be Israelis.

3000 per year for, say, 10 or 15 years…where did they all go?  Obviously, they must have obediently vanished into Sheol when the magical law was passed.

The Prudish Giant (TW3 #9)

Paypal is at it again; they’ve blocked the account of regular reader Frank Adamo for distributing “sexually oriented material” involving a minor.  Girl Becomes Woman is a photo-documentary of breast development, starting at age 9; Frank said, “[It’s] no more ‘sexually oriented’ than a documentary about pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding…I used Paypal to process donations to create the Breast Pride Education Foundation, and after a year…[and] approximately 100 donations Paypal suddenly decides to protect itself from possible scandal by blocking my account and holding my money for six months!”  He filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, but they closed the complaint without action.  Frank notes that the sudden condemnation of his work as porn conveniently came just after he tried to transfer $1000 from Paypal into his bank account.

Above the Law

Yet again:  As long as government actors have excessive power over individuals, this will keep happening:

Two Los Angeles Police…officers…allegedly [preyed] on women…[for] five years, luring them into an unmarked car and forcing them to perform sex acts…Luis Valenzuela and James Nichols targeted at least four women whom they had arrested previously or who worked for them as informants…The pair repeatedly used the threat of jail to get women into their car and drove them to secluded areas where one…demanded sex while the other kept watch…Larry Heyward

And keep happening:  “…[South Carolina cop] Larry Heyward [has been arrested and charged with sexual] offenses on a child between the ages of 11 and 14 years [while assigned to the child’s school]…

And keep happening:

[Washington, D.C. cop] Wendel Palmer…pleaded not guilty…to charges of first-degree child sexual abuse…Wendel Palmer[which] occurred while Palmer directed [a church] youth choir…Palmer would tell the girl to stay with him…while the rest of the choir members went to a store.  The assaults began in August 2004 when the girl was 11…[and] ran through August 2006…she told investigators there were “too many incidents to count”…

Much Ado About Nothing

Foreign officials visiting Colombia:  Pay your damned hookers!  Colombian hookers:  Please start charging your damned clients in advance!  “prostitutes stole numerous items from the Honduras embassy in Bogota, Colombia…an employee of the Ambassador…organized a party with alcohol and sex at the facility…[but] they were not paid for their services…[and retaliated by stealing phones, computers and national security documents]…”  And just in case you thought American media had let go of the story featured in the original column of this name:  “Two [DEA] agents ‘facilitated a sexual encounter’ between a prostitute and a U.S. Secret Service agent…in April 2012…a third DEA agent present on the night of the incident was not involved…”  Translation:  two guys helped a co-worker find someone to provide a legal service he wanted.  Oh, be still my heart.

The Immunity Syndrome (TW3 #19)

In the past year, cephalosporin-resistant gonorrhea has become five times as common in North America:

drug resistance has now reached North America in sizable numbers…of 133 patients [in a Toronto study]…6.77 percent…failed to respond to treatment…experts…call “its arrival deeply troubling; clinicians now face the emergence of cephalosporin-resistant N. gonorrhoeae without any well-studied, effective backup treatment options”…

First They Came for the Hookers…

Texas just won’t stop until it makes all sex work as dangerous as criminalized streetwalking:

After years of battling in court, the City of Houston and the popular…strip club, Treasures, have reached an agreement…in exchange for dropping three separate lawsuits against each other, Treasures will pay $100,000 into City-administered Nuisance Abatement Fund to help combat human trafficking.  Additionally, the club must post signs at every table stating no illegal activities, including lewdness, prostitution or drug use are permitted…The agreement effectively ends a court battle stretching back to 1983…attorneys for Harris County continue to move ahead with a lawsuit alleging Treasures is a haven for drug trafficking and prostitution…

Peeping Bill ZedlerMeanwhile, in Dallas:

State Representative Bill Zedler first gained attention…when he led a…crusade to block a Hooters from opening near his neighborhood in Arlington…claiming it would serve as a magnet for sexual predators…[he has] [continued] the fight against Hooters while expanding his focus to battle…other sexually oriented businesses.  His latest salvo…HB 337…would…license [strippers]…New York considered a similar measure several years ago.  And Alabama apparently passed one…But Zedler’s bill…would…require [dancers] to “conspicuously display the…license on his or her person when conducting business…” The bill’s stated purpose is to prevent human trafficking and protect public health…More likely, it will be used as a pretext for hassling businesses Zedler disapproves of…

Wise Investment (TW3 #31)

“Sex trafficking” is already criminal; what this law actually intends to do is wipe out inexpensive escort advertising:  “A federal judge has temporarily barred [Tennessee] officials from enforcing a law…intended to criminalize sex trafficking of minors, after a challenge by…Backpage.com…

Hard Numbers (TW3 #37)

While “authorities” in Rio de Janeiro try to persecute sex workers into hiding before the World Cup, other cities are instead helping them:

Prostitutes in one of Brazil’s biggest cities are beginning to sign up for free English classes ahead of this year’s Confederations Cup and the 2014 World Cup.  Cida Vieira, president of the Association of Prostitutes in the city of Belo Horizonte, said…”It will be important for the girls who will be able to use English to let their clients know what they are charging and learn about what turns them on…for the same reasons we are also thinking of offering free French and Italian classes”…

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In reality, sex work isn’t stigmatised because it is dangerous. Sex work is dangerous because it is stigmatized.  –  Laurie Penny

Storyville

This is a pretty good introduction to Storyville, though it has a few errors and two really odd misinterpretations:  she refers to “not on the first floor of any building” as a “district”, and she only counts business owners (rather than individual whores) when discussing income.  Worth watching for the pictures.

Since young colonies rarely have anything to recommend them to women, they often have a pronounced gender imbalance; King Louis XV solved the problem in New Orleans by sending a boatload of whores, and George III did the same thing 68 years later for Australia.  The ship was named the Lady Juliana, and this recent article draws on a recently-unearthed jail log to tell a little about the ship and its passengers.

License To Rape

…a former Eatontown [New Jersey] detective accepted a plea agreement…[for raping] an informant.  His victim…explained to the court…how [Philip] Emanuele used the threat of prison for a theft charge…to coerce her into performing oral sex…When she refused, he raped her…Emanuele acknowledged what he had done in open court, and was sentenced to 5 years of probation for criminal coercion, and 3 years of probation for tampering with evidence…

Lack of Evidence

A New York district attorney has dropped a prostitution charge against former reality TV star Alicia Guastaferro…after further investigation revealed it was unmerited…The D.A. still plans to pursue [other] charges…Guastaferro…[and] attorney James D. Doyle [were found unconscious in Doyle’s car after]…a…motorist…[reported] a car being driven erratically…Guastaferro …told police Doyle pays her $500 to $700 to perform sexual acts and spend the night with him…

Yes, the cops actually filed a prostitution charge on the word of a semi-conscious drunk.

The Red Umbrella

This San Francisco Weekly op-ed by Chris Hall is the best December 17th article by a non-sex worker I have ever seen.  It deserves to be read in its entirety, but its tone is illustrated by the statement “…there really is no conversation about sex work…only a monologue by media and politicians with the workers themselves meant to stay silent.  December 17 events represent a concerted effort to break that silence.”

The New Victorianism

Another Christmas present to sex workers from a journalist who isn’t one of us, but gets it; this one was published in The New Statesman by repentant neofeminist Laurie Penny:

…Laws regulating sex work are written…by people who have never done sex work and who have no sustained contact with those who do.  The most well-meaning legislation…often backfires, pushing the sex trade further underground and giving the police licence to punish and victimise women…feminist author Ellen Willis termed this handkerchief-clutching zeal to “save” prostitutes, porn actresses and other “fallen” women “neo-Victorianism”…It’s a school of so-called women’s liberation that [believes]…work can’t possibly be the problem, so…If sex workers are victimised by the police and…face higher levels of violence and assault at work, then it can only be because of their dirty moral choice to have sex for money…This isn’t about evidence…It’s about morality, just as it was…when…women organised charity centres to ‘save’ street prostitutes from sin by finding them alternative employment as charwomen, in workhouses or scrubbing the streets…any kind of work, however exploitative and badly paid, must be better than sex work because it doesn’t involve sex, wicked sex, sinful sex…

Remy CoutureSee No Evil

The equation of images and reality claims another victim:

…Rémy Couture [is a]…Canadian special-effects artist charged  with “corrupting morals” by illegally combining sex and gore…[in] two short films depicting the crimes of a necrophiliac serial killer and various photographs of simulated torture and dismemberment that were posted on Couture’s now-defunct website…The prosecution argues that Couture’s work is obscene under Canadian law because “a dominant characteristic” of it is “the undue exploitation of sex” combined with “crime, horror, cruelty and violence.”  He faces up to two years in prison for this prohibited mixture

Where Are the Protests?

The word “trafficking” is not to be found in this article, nor are calls for paving to be abolished:

…William Connors…his wife Mary…[and] their sons…were all convicted of conspiracy to require a person to perform forced…labour…the Connors would pick up…homeless drifters or addicts…[who then] lived in squalid caravans…as they moved around the country working on the Connors’ paving and patio businesses…and…were controlled by discipline and violence…[they] were beaten, hit with broom handles, belts, a rake and shovel, and punched and kicked…[they] were often made to strip for a “hosing down session” with freezing water…[and] were paid as little as £5 for a day’s hard labour on jobs that would earn the family several thousand pounds.  They were given so little food they resorted to scavenging from dustbins…

And as Furry Girl points out, nobody seems to care if children are forced to act in movies for their parents’ profit, either:  “Imagine if anti-sex worker activists treated all forms of entertainment the same way they treat [sex work]…Where are the Nick Kristof-led raids of acting classes for children, the protests against movie studios that utilize under-18 performers, and the arrests of live studio audiences at the taping of TV family sitcoms?

The More the Better

Furry Girl writes about the way people’s acceptance of unfamiliar things like marijuana use, homosexuality and sex work tends to grow as they get to know real people who are involved with those things, and she proposes an experiment for those shy about coming out:

Go to a bar in the next city over, or a music festival out of town, or just tell the person sitting next to you on the bus or subway.  Try openness on for just a day, or even 15 minutes.  You will get some bad reactions, but I think it will surprise you how many people won’t be an asshole to you.  Be prepared for questions, which you can choose to answer or not.

Traffic Jam

Susana Trimarco and claimsAmazingly, all 13 victims of an Argentinean “sex trafficking” witch hunt were acquitted of all charges last week:  “…the judges said there was no way to prove that Marita, a 23-year-old mother and wife who vanished on…April 3, 2002, was kidnapped and forced into a prostitution ring…For the last decade Marita’s mother, Susana Trimarco, has waged an uphill battle [against]…the people she believed were responsible for her daughter’s disappearance into the netherworld of human trafficking…”  Trimarco has insisted from the beginning that her daughter was abducted by “sex traffickers”, despite a total lack of evidence for such an outlandish interpretation of the meager facts.  The article points out that Trimarco “almost single-handedly changed the way that human trafficking is viewed…across much of Latin America,” and this is true:  with the help of cops and prohibitionists she has succeeded in introducing American-style “sex trafficking” mythology to a culture which has a much healthier view of sex work than that of the US.

Legitimate Outrage

Being an ignoramus is no impediment to a career in law:

The California Commission on Judicial Performance…[admonished] Judge Derek Johnson…[for] comments [made] in the case of a man who threatened to mutilate the face and genitals of his former girlfriend with a heated screwdriver, beat her with a metal baton and made other violent threats…Johnson, a former prosecutor in the Orange County district attorney’s sex crimes unit, said…”I’m not a gynecologist but I can tell you something:  if someone doesn’t want to have sexual intercourse the body shuts down…[and] will not permit that to happen unless a lot of damage is inflicted, and we heard nothing about that in this case”…since 1980, California law has not required rape victims to prove they resisted or were prevented from resisting.

Profound Ignorance

Several people called to my attention a recent paper claiming that legalizing prostitution increased human trafficking; I pointed out to them that without good data and clear definitions, a prohibitionist can “prove” whatever he likes.  But Dr. Laura Agustín said it much better than I did:

I’ve been asked several times to comment on a recently published article, Does Legalized Prostitution Increase Human Trafficking?…This study belongs to a trend to use econometric concepts and techniques in a (vain) attempt to prove this or that about prostitution…fancy modelling and sophisticated analysis cannot help when the data being analysed is next to useless…Any critique of this work has to begin by asking how the authors define human trafficking, inflows, legalised prostitution, the prostitution market, trafficked women and legal prostitutes.  None of these terms is self-explaining.  After more than 15 years, we do not even have agreement about what the fundamental terms mean, so anyone writing in the field has to tell us which definitions they are using and they have to make sure they compare and contrast categories using the same definitions…The best way to understand this work is Garbage in, garbage out…

Metaupdates

The Crumbling Dam (TW3 #35)

Wally Oppal says the scores of women missing and presumed murdered by Robert Pickton and others in the Vancouver area were doubly forsaken – by society and by police.  In fact, they were triply forsaken…The law itself forsook many of them, by criminalizing them for selling sex and driving them to the extreme margins…“I cannot ignore the reality that this legal regime played an important role in shaping the relationship between the police and women…potentially affecting…investigations…” Mr. Oppal writes…The report is a death knell for prostitution laws in their current form.

Shift in the Wind (TW3 #43)

More and more UN officials are coming out in favor of decriminalization:

The UN Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health – yes, that’s his full title…has…come down firmly on the side of decriminalising the sex industry.  In fact, a 2010 report of his is one of the strongest statements I’ve ever seen in this regard by a UN official…

Tyranny By Consensus (TW3 #47)danger wear goggles sign

A group of adult industry leaders announced…their intent to file a lawsuit soon against Los Angeles County over Measure B…an ill-conceived law that makes it mandatory for adult actors to wear lab coats, goggles and gloves as well as condoms while shooting adult films in the County.  The law was funded solely by AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF)…The attorneys plan to challenge the law on the [grounds that]…health and safety…issues…fall under…State regulation…[they also] plan to challenge…on constitutional grounds…

One Born Every Minute (TW3 #48)

Detectives investigating a website offering to pay the tuition fees of female students in return for sex have arrested [Mark Lancaster] on suspicion of inciting prostitution…”  WTF?  “Inciting prostitution”?  How about fraud and sexual assault?

Gorged With Meaning (TW3 #49)

It’s astonishing that these people just can’t understand and accept that nothing has to “be done”, and that student sex workers will get along without their “help” just as they always have:  “…ex-brothel madam [Becky Adams] has been enlisted to help…Swansea University…research…what motivates [students] to [do] sex work…”  I’ll save them the trouble:  the answer is “good money and flexible hours”.  Now, where’s my £500,000?

This Week in 2010 and 2011

Beside my two previous columns for December 17th, my two previous columns  for Yule, my two previous yuletide fictional interludes and a history of Hanukkah, this week also featured a look at what passes for “evidence of prostitution”, a look at the truth of Swedish “feminism”, a statement of some of my principles, a thought experiment about coercion vs. free choice and a biography of Edith Piaf.  Finally, there were also short items on Craigslist, the UK attempt to block all internet porn, PC celebrities, “john schools”, Bronte sister action figures, nanny-state dating advice, Julian Assange, hate crime, an awkward call, men’s magazines, a fatal BDSM accident, Barbie hate, a begging ban, another hooker-hiring politician and religious persecution.

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Prudishness is pretense of innocence without innocence.  –  Friedrich Von Schlegel

In my column of last September 30th I wrote that, as my friend JustStarshine points out, “Western Society has descended into a new Victorianism”:

…we have become shockingly hypocritical about sex and grant our governments tremendous power to suppress it while simultaneously spending tremendous amounts of time and money on it (Victorian London had the largest number of prostitutes per capita of any place and time in history).  We have revived Victorian ideas of government-enforced temperance and “social progress”, and the Victorian “Cult of the Child” has returned with a vengeance.  The…adult myth that children live in some sort of state of Divine Grace which must be protected at all costs and extended as far into adulthood as possible…preaches that children are as emotionally fragile as soap bubbles and the merest hint of sexual imagery before puberty can cause irreversible trauma; its adherents also believe that teenagers (whom they equate with “children”) should be lied to, spied on or even criminally prosecuted to prevent them from engaging in any kind of sexual behavior, and some even believe that adults should not be allowed any form of entertainment or reading material which is inappropriate for even the youngest child, on the grounds that a child “might see it” and thereby be petrified as if he had looked into the eyes of the Gorgon.  Child cultists can be recognized by their stated belief that any degree of tyranny is acceptable “if it saves even one child,” and by their fondness for promoting unconstitutionally broad legislation   lugubriously named after dead little girls.

The Child Cult’s rhetoric is also pressed into service for sex issues which have nothing to do with children; as we have stated before, only 3.54% of all Western prostitutes are underage and the average underage prostitute is 17, which does not legally qualify as a “child” for sexual consent purposes  anywhere in the United States except Arizona, California, Iowa, North Dakota, Oregon, Tennessee and Wisconsin.  But that hasn’t stopped prohibitionists from resurrecting the late Victorian “white slavery” moral panic under a new name, “child sex trafficking”, and wielding it as a bludgeon against adult whores and our clients with the usual “one child” battle cry.  But lest anyone balk at treating adult women as children, there’s a Victorian answer for that as well; prostitutes are abnormal, defective “victims” of men who have to be protected from our own choices, which are clearly irrational.  Similarly, trafficking fanatics classify brown people as “child races” who are too stupid and unsophisticated to move between countries on their own without being “trafficked” by gangsters, so by the Victorian “white man’s burden” philosophy they need to “save” these poor victims, whether they want to be “rescued” or not.

Like the Victorian “social purity” movement, the modern Puritanism exemplified by trafficking hysteria, prohibitionism and other anti-sex movements was formed from a mixture of Protestant Christianity and decaying feminism.  And just as the voices of first-wave feminists (such as Margaret Sanger and Emma Goldman) who espoused sexual liberation for women were drowned out by those whose minds were mired in typical Victorian prudery and therefore considered prostitution, pornography and masturbation to be “social ills”, so the original feminists who embraced the “sexual revolution” were shouted down by the anti-sex neofeminists who turned the feminist movement into a neo-Victorian campaign against sex; women like Catherine MacKinnon, Donna Hughes and Melissa Farley would have been right at home among the “social purity” advocates of a century ago who spread lies about “white slavery” and “diseased whores”.  Some of these anti-sex feminists even consider male masturbation to be a form of marital infidelity; one commenter on an article  about coffee stands with bikini-clad servers wrote: “Have you considered the women and children out there that have been hurt by their daddie’s [sic] affection for porn and worhtless [sic] garbage like this that they bring into their relationships, only to have them fall apart because the ol [sic] man can’t keep his eyes to himself or his hands off himself?!” and stated that her ex-husband “…had a history of this type of voyerism [sic] since before I met him and he promised he didn’t need it anymore after we were together.  An addiction is an addiction and you guys apparently have one to this!  Sow your seeds with a real woman and a real relationship…”  And regular reader Sailor Barsoom reports that “Just before I let my subscription to Playboy run out, I saw, each month, one woman after another writing in to earnestly explain why masturbation is adultery.”

Nor are these Victorian attitudes limited to radical feminists and their followers; they even crop up in articles written by more mainstream types.  I’ve previously mentioned the ambivalent attitude the staff of Jezebel has toward sex work; this pandering article about the recent Melissa Farley propaganda not only claims that sex worker rights have to be “debated” with those who have no stake in the issue, but also that they have to wait until men as a group regularly seek their wives’ and girlfriends’ approval to look at porn.  And this New York Times article (which was called to my attention by regular reader Guilty Pleasures) about Slutwalks displays an attitude common among older feminists;  the article appears to have been originally entitled “Clumsy Young Feminists” and simpers that:

To object to these ugly characterizations is right and righteous.  But to do so while dressed in what look like sexy stewardess Halloween costumes seems less like victory than capitulation (linguistic and sartorial) to what society already expects of its young women.  Scantily clad marching seems weirdly blind to the race, class and body-image issues that usually (rightly) obsess young feminists and seems inhospitable to scads of women who, for various reasons, might not feel it logical or comfortable to express their revulsion at victim-blaming by donning bustiers.

One can practically see the author, blouse buttoned up to her neck, fanning herself furiously to ward off an attack of the vapors.

No social trend lasts forever; the new Victorianism is as doomed as the old one was, and the young women who will help to bury it are joining Slutwalks, buying porn for themselves and shaking their heads at the prudery of their elders just as the young women of the Roaring Twenties did.  Within a decade, the new Victorianism will start to die off along with the Baby Boomers who embraced it, and in the freedom of a new Jazz Age perhaps all of the laws which seek to restrict the sexual behaviors of consenting adults will be tossed out as the quaint, incomprehensible and useless relics of a bygone age.

One Year Ago Today

How To be a Stupid, Greedy Whore” was my very first column based on a current news story, and also provided the first member of my Hall of Shame.

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