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Posts Tagged ‘The Peril’

Adapting…to…the new legal environment…will take time…that the most vulnerable sex workers don’t have.  –  Lux Alptraum

Feet of Clay 

Your periodic reminder that Nicholas Kristof is a vile excuse for a human being:

…what better example of our compromised political class is there than Nicholas Kristof, New York Times columnist and professional “humanitarian” whose calls to send in the Marines are always clothed in the raiment of altruism.  It’s people like Kristof that libertarian author Isabel Paterson warned us against when she wrote about the “humanitarian with a guillotine.”  For I can hardly recall a single war of the recent past that Kristof has not wholeheartedly embraced: while he shied away from jumping on the Iraq war bandwagon, he was gung ho for destroying Syria and making it a safe haven for jihadists: he’s never revisited that stance, nor apologized for it in any way.  He’s all for arming the Ukrainian government, which is surely one of the most corrupt in the world, and which has a huge neo-Nazi problem.  To top it off, he’s one of the loudest voices urging the US to overthrow the government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria and support a crew of jihadist rebels “formerly” associated with al-Qaeda…

Every single “humanitarian” or “liberal” cause Kristoff embraces is a hypocrisy based in racism, sexism, colonialism or plain old jingoism.  He’s utterly disgusting.

Lower Education

Women are moral imbeciles, so men are always responsible for our choices:

If a man and a woman are both drunk and they have sex, the man is the rapist if the woman decides he is at some point, regardless of how she felt in the moment.  This is what American University taught students in a required sexual consent module last year, according to…screenshots of the training…CampusClarity…[features] invasive questions [and was] pulled from mandatory student training by Clemson University in 2014…the same training is used at public universities including the University of Florida and Kansas State…CampusClarity owner EverFi admitted…in 2014 that some of the statistics in its sexual consent training were questionable…EverFi’s “impact report” for the University of Oregon in 2013-2014 disclosed that it was lumping together “yes” and “not sure” answers to boost the numbers in response to a survey question on whether “someone pressured me into a sexual experience without my explicit consent”…

Choke Point 

New York is every bit as enthusiastic as the feds are at applying fascist pressure to accomplish illegal and unconstitutional agendas:

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s recent directive to financial regulators…[urges] them to pressure private companies to break ties with the National Rifle Association (NRA).  The “or else” is just a hair from being overt…The Department of Financial Services, which regulates the banking and insurance industries in New York, followed up with guidance letters to insurance companies and banks…the regulatory body that oversees these industries is warning companies under its power that they may be assuming reputational risk—a regulated area that draws official attention—by doing business with legal organizations including the NRA.  This reputational risk is said to exist because these groups are “gun promotion organizations,” which boils down to nothing more than them taking a public policy positions at odds with those favored by the state’s political leaders…

Not Worth the Paper

Another anti-whore “study” which is not worth the stuff removed by the paper hanging by your toilet:

As Craigslist expanded across the United States, the free classifieds website also bolstered the sex industry, according to a new study…In analyzing data from 1999 to 2008, [Jason] Chan…Anindya Ghose…and Probal Mojumder…found [what they were paid to find, namely that] Craigslist’s arrival in a market also led to…recruitment and coercion of new ones…this led to greater exploitation of vulnerable populations…

Since the “study” used online escort ads as a proxy for the number of sex workers in a market (a moronic assumption even when it isn’t used by prohibitionists), what it actually “found” was that as online advertising became more popular among sex workers, it became more popular among sex workers.  Yes, the “findings” are nothing more than a tautology; the nonsense about “exploitation” is the opinion the authors were paid to promote, and is unsupported by any evidence – even the usual bad evidence – in the paper my consultants were able to find.  Given Chan & Ghose’s history as hired guns producing pro-censorship “studies”, I suspect this paper is part of FOSTA supporters’ campaign to defend the reputation of their malevolent law.

Comfort Zone (#765)

This story does a better-than-usual job of hiding migration control behind the “sex trafficking” narrative:

A two-year investigation led to the arrest of 22 people involved in a human trafficking network and the [arrest] of 350 men, women and children [cops claim were] forced into slave-like labor and prostitution in Latin America and the Caribbean…the…people were found working in bars, night clubs, gold mines, factories and open-air markets; some of them in remote areas from which they could not escape.  Operation Libertad (freedom) was funded by the Canadian government and required coordinated raids in thirteen countries…What happens to trafficking victims once they are rescued “depends on the particular person’s circumstance… and often on the country’s resources,” [chief pig Tim] Morris said.  They can be [held] in special facilities, released or [deported]…

“Special facilities”, like “safe houses”, means “prisons”.  In poor countries.  I’m sure that’s much better than what they were “rescued” from.

Imaginary Victims (#797)

Prohibitionists never gave a shit about imprisoned underage sex worker Cyntoia Brown until they realized they could use her to advance the “child sex slave” narrative:

Attorneys for a woman who killed a man when she was a 16-year-old prostitute say she was a sex-trafficking victim afraid for her life — but prosecutors say she killed the man to rob him.  Both sides will make oral arguments next month in her appeal of her sentence of life without parole.  The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals set a June 14 court date for the case of 29-year-old Cyntoia Brown in…Cincinnati.  Brown has been in prison since 2004…

Gorged With Meaning (#812)

Brandon Wade, who is pissing himself so badly over FOSTA you can smell it through this video, is doubling down on his ludicrous protestations that sugar dating isn’t sex work.  Here he goes full-on fascist pig (complete with “I’m better than you” finger-steepling body language), referring to escorts and clients as “those elements” and urging that those who have drunk the Kool-aid “If you see something, say something” before sex workers who understand their value and clients who prefer not to deceive themselves “contaminate” his site:

Got news for you, Brandon:  we’re already there.  Practically every whore I know has an SA profile, and numerous clients have messaged me through MY profile there.  But then, given your own history with girls who prefer to be paid by the hour, I’m sure you already knew that; you just mistakenly think that if you throw enough of us under the bus, the censors and ambulance-chasers whom FOSTA has enabled will spare your creepy arse.

The Peril (#834)

A decent article on the Mann Act marred by the author’s swallowing the “sex trafficking” myth:

A federal law passed in 1910, first designed to tackle the supposed scourge of “white slavery” that threatened the moral base of a rapidly changing America, is back in the news again…The Mann Act…was crafted as an anti-prostitution…law that made it illegal to cross state lines with women and girls “for the purpose of prostitution or debauchery, or for any other immoral purpose”…Under the Mann Act’s vague “other immoral purpose” language, prosecutors brought charges against [Boxer Jack] Johnson for taking an unmarried white woman across state lines…the Mann Act also was also used to prosecute silent film star Charlie Chaplin regarding a paternity suit (he was acquitted); singer Chuck Berry for taking an Apache girl across state lines (convicted); and Frank Lloyd Wright for moving his lover and her daughter from Minnesota to Wisconsin (convicted)…The act has been amended since then and now is employed, primarily, as a tool to [harass sex workers]…

Disaster (#836)

Judging by the breadth of responses from all over the political map, FOSTA may have been a serious miscalculation on the part of the government:

…FOSTA has…put sex workers in danger, and many have faced serious real-world consequences in the wake of this digital upheaval.  Although no official reports have been released as of this writing, anecdotal evidence is trickling in.  Johanna Breyer…of the Saint James Infirmary…[said their] mobile van outreach saw a dramatic increase of street-based sex workers in the Mission District.  Breyer estimated that there were about double or triple the usual number of workers…Fancy, a Midwestern sex worker who manages a fund dedicated to providing financial support for sex workers in need, has seen a dramatic uptick in requests for help.  In the wake of the Backpage shutdown, she says she went from receiving occasional requests for help to a dozen or two…daily.  Many messages were from sex workers asking for advice on how to work on the streets safely…

Even sites concerned with mundane matters such as Consumer Affairs get it:

FOSTA…[has] a potential chilling effect on any and all internet speech…Advocates…point out that trafficking…is already a crime in the United States…and…targeting websites…will now only create new crimes.  Whether FOSTA’s sponsors had intended to kick the entire sex trade offline…is unclear…[and politicians won’t answer honestly.  Prohibitionist propaganda director Mary] Mazzio…addressed concerns that sex workers could lose their livelihoods by publishing a list of homeless shelters and other social services…Such an offer — that women who made rent doing sex work online were now free to stay in homeless shelters — was described by those in the sex trade as deeply insulting…Vanessa Carlisle [of SWOP-LA noted that]…“sex workers who seek services are often turned over to police”…By targeting online business…lawmakers are ignoring the role that law enforcement [plays] in abusing sex workers…

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FOSTA’s real purpose is making it easier to file lawsuits against online companies, while politicians pat themselves on the back.  –  Ron Wyden

A Procrustean Bed (#502)

A documentary glorifies the prohibitionist shitshow that is New York’s “sex trafficking court”:

…Judge Toko Serita…presides over Queens’s Human Trafficking Intervention Court…where she processes women who have been arrested on charges of prostitution…The women…are offered a choice:  Instead of [being given constitutional due process]…they can [submit to]…a set number of [brainwashing] sessions.  If, in six months, they have not been arrested again, the charges are dropped and the case is sealed…about 80 percent of the women take the [brainwashing] option…[less] than victims, Serita sees them first and foremost as…[objects to be processed.  Filmmaker Stephanie] Wang-Breal…says…in the film’s notes: “Who am I to say she doesn’t have agency, who am I to say what she should be doing with her life?” [and yet she glorifies this grotesque denial of women’s agency anyway]…

Nobody involved in producing this mess stopped to question the court’s assumption that human beings are mere objects to be “processed”.  You know, like in a food processor.

All Shapes and Sizes (#521)

This procedure has come a long way in only three years:

Doctors in the US have performed the world’s first complete penis and scrotum transplant on a former soldier who had his genitals blown off after stepping on a hidden bomb while on tour in the Middle East.  The 14-hour operation performed last month at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, was the most complex and extensive penis transplant ever attempted…The young [man]…received an entire penis, scrotum (without testicles), and partial abdominal wall from a deceased donor…It took a team of nine plastic surgeons and two urology surgeons…The surgery took place on March 26 and nearly a month on doctors seem confident of its success but will continue to monitor the patient’s recovery…

Shame, Shame (#649)

My friend Mark Bennett takes down Texas’ overbroad and mindlessly-draconian “revenge porn” law:

Mark Bennett, the Texas Tornado, took another law down for violating the First Amendment.  This time, it was…the so-called “revenge porn” law.  In Ex parte Jones, the 12th District Court of Appeals…held that the statute was facially unconstitutional.  As has been argued from the day Mary Anne Franks began her efforts to create a criminal revenge porn statute, it clearly implicated the First Amendment’s prohibition against laws infringing on free expression, to which she merely screamed her denials and did her best to deflect by creating a fantasy interpretation of the First Amendment…The State argues…relying upon Franks’ and Danielle Citron’s “legal” arguments…that [such images fall] within a new concept of obscenity, “contextually obscene”.  Except there is no such category outside of their imaginations, nor can anything be found obscene except by a jury…the court noted that the law failed to make any effort to narrow its prohibitions, which was a fundamental tenet of the Franks approach to criminalizing revenge porn lest anyone get away with it…

The Peril 

The hypocrisy of politicians sometimes defies belief:

Jack Johnson…became the first black heavyweight boxing champion after defeating Tommy Burns in Sydney, Australia, in 1908.  Two years later, he defended his title against boxer James J. “Jim” Jeffries, who…was referred to as the “great white hope” by racist…fans who wanted him to…take back the heavyweight crown for whites…Jeffries lost the fight…[but] what racism could not do to Johnson in the boxing ring, it found other ways to accomplish.  Johnson was convicted in 1913 of violating the Mann Act…the Justice Department…argued that Johnson’s relationship with a white woman was a “crime against nature”…criminalization of sex work in the US is rooted in racism, and modern campaigns do little to mask that lineage…The “white slavery” campaign of the early 1900’s…led directly to the enactment of the federal Mann Act, (a.k.a. the White Slave Traffic Act), in 1910.  “[O]nce prohibition of sex work was in place,” writer Maggie McNeill has noted, “it was enforced disproportionately against poor people and ethnic minorities, especially black people, just as all prohibitionist laws are.”  As Andrew Glass wrote for Politico, the first person prosecuted under the Mann Act…was Jack Johnson…That Donald Trump should look to a pardon for Johnson in the same month he signed…FOSTA…into law, is bitterly ironic…

Legal Is as Legal Does (#666) 

Lewis & her friends are naive fools; what they’re asking for is legalization & protectionism, and they’re not going to like it if they get it:

New Zealand sex workers are furious that foreign prostitutes who come on temporary visas can advertise their services here despite it being illegal for them to work.  High profile escort Lisa Lewis is one of several who have taken their complaints to Immigration New Zealand…calling for a harsher stance against migrant sex workers…She wants INZ to shift its focus from just deporting migrant sex workers to punish [advertising venues] that profit from helping the promotion of these illegal sex workers.  Lewis said the increase in number of foreign prostitutes coming over has hit local sex workers in the pocket…

Permanent Record

Note that other states have similar (if less broad) laws, and that the tendency toward such penalties is increasing:

Currently in both Maryland and Tennessee, a criminal past — or even just being accused of a crime — often stands between people and a job.  This is because many occupational licensing laws prevent ex-offenders from being able to obtain a license for the jobs they seek…these restrictions aren’t targeted at people whose criminal history relates to their desired career; instead, they can serve as blanket bans for those hoping to enter hundreds of professions including plumbing, cosmetology and interior design.  By prohibiting wide swaths of people from licensure, these boards aren’t protecting health and safety — they’re just making it more likely these individuals will remain unemployed and unable to support themselves or their families…in some cases, people need only to be accused of a crime — not even convicted of it — for the board to deny them a license.  Many of these bans are also permanent…In one instance in Tennessee…a woman convicted for prostitution over a decade ago learned she couldn’t become a radiation therapist…

I’m going to start using this heading for the many cases of people who lose their jobs due to a history of sex work; they currently appear under the overbroad “First They Came for the Hookers…”

All-Purpose Excuse (#794)

In this confused mess, a lawyer complains that anti-immigrant actions “hurt efforts to stop human trafficking”, even though “human trafficking” is a dysphemism used to demonize immigration:

If Trump truly cared about victims of human trafficking, he would put an end to his ongoing assault on immigrants.  Statistics on the number of victims of human trafficking are notoriously unreliable because of widespread [ov]erreporting…Since Trump assumed the presidency, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has used the fight against human trafficking as justification for its crackdown on undocumented immigrants.  ICE arrests have surged by more than 40 percent…[which] has aggravated the fear of coming forward among undocumented victims of human trafficking, undermining the U.S. government’s own efforts to tackle the problem…

In other words, “Trump’s crackdown on migration is interfering with existing attempts to prevent migration”.

Disaster

Here’s another article about FOSTA, which despite many good points expended so much effort in licking prohibitionist arseholes it nearly made me vomit.  Since there are plenty of good articles which denounce censorship and promote human rights without sucking the dick of power, there’s not a lot of reason to bother with this one; however, if you feel compelled you’ll see this “journalist” ceding ground to prohibitionists and otherwise making ignorant, unhelpful statements all over the place.  It starts in the lede, which proclaims that FOSTA was “a rare moment of bipartisan agreement”, a deeply stupid statements which ignores that the two main US parties have never disagreed on prohibition as a principle at any point in the past century, and that literally every single anti-sex work bill of the past two decades has had nearly-unanimous bipartisan support.  The article misstates the case against Backpage, repeats prohibitionist lies, characterizes third parties as “pimps & traffickers”, downplays the breadth of opposition to internet censorship with phrases like “some argue”, and even claims that “FOSTA was pitched with a very specific (and noble) goal in mind”; apparently author Kate Knibbs believes that censorship, denial of human rights, and negating the agency and consent of half a million women are “noble”.  I certainly don’t.

This Means War (#830) 

Megalomaniacal US rulers believe they have the right to disrupt the lives of millions all over the world:

Before New Zealand Cracker – a classifieds website used by sex workers – was shut down by the FBI, Wellington woman Sarah (not her real name) says she received at least five enquiries from clients each day.  Now, she is lucky to receive two a week through other advertising platforms.  “It has totally ruined our lives”…the FBI seiz[ure of]…Backpage.com…[has produced] a global and profound disruption of the sex work industry, including in countries like New Zealand, where prostitution is legal.  New Zealand Cracker was one of the many subsidiary sites Backpage.com hosted around the world.  For more than a decade it was at the heart of New Zealand’s sex work industry – offering businesses and sex workers a cheap, effective way of connecting with clients.  Its closure has, without warning, taken livelihoods away, leaving workers without the resources to operate their businesses or, in some cases, survive…

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To what extent is the criminalization of prostitution in the U.S. tied into racism?  Obviously it’s not hard to trace the connection between the War on Drugs and racism, and the relationship between skin-color and enforcement of prostitution laws is obvious.  It’s also easy to notice that prostitution starts to become illegal not long after the Civil War, but to what extent does that relate to race, if at all?  

White Slaves of ChinatownThough the most pernicious form of racism in the modern US is that directed against black people, the country has a long and ugly history of bigotry against others as well (consider, for example, the literally genocidal racism inflicted on American Indians).  So while you’re correct that the criminalization of sex work in the US is indeed rooted in racism, the specific culprit which started the ball rolling was racism against Asian people, specifically the Chinese.  As I explained in my “Brief History of Prostitution in the US“,

…When Chinese immigrants began to pour into California…white Americans feared these new arrivals whose ways were so different from their own…most female Chinese immigrants of the time were either prostitutes or second wives in polygamous marriages, so in 1875 Congress passed the Page Law, which banned the immigration of women for “lewd and immoral purposes”.  In a way, the law backfired; Chinese men flooded into the country anyway (especially into California and New York), and since there was a shortage of Chinese women, many of them either patronized white prostitutes or set up small brothels and hired them; others married or cohabited with working-class white women.  The self-appointed guardians of public morality were scandalized, and the seeds of moral panic were sown…

The Page Law was only the first of many federal, state and local “morality” laws inflicted on sex workers, and while many of them were based in the imagined “inferiority” of non-Europeans, full-on criminalization was based in the imagined “superiority” of white Europeans:

…The existence of prostitutes required considerable cognitive gymnastics to reconcile with the Victorian view that women were intrinsically asexual…[most scholars believed] that prostitutes represented regressions to a more “primitive” type of woman.  This racist view could be used to explain away non-European sex workers or those of supposedly “degraded” nationalities, but those involved in the increasingly popular “rescue” movement soon discovered to their horror that there were more than a few Anglo-Saxon prostitutes, including some middle-class girls of “good breeding” and education.  It was therefore proposed that white prostitutes “had…fallen into the hands of ‘professional seducers’, who had manipulated their sexless victims into submission.”  This narrative of helpless young white women forced into a life of exploitation, had tremendous popular appeal; it was heavily promoted from the 1880s on by organizations like the Salvation Army and found especially fertile soil in areas where white prostitutes worked alongside those of other ethnicities or catered to a nonwhite clientele.  The myth of “white slavery” (as it was then called) also appealed to middle-class discomfort with female autonomy; if women who traveled large distances and made their way by either casual or professional prostitution could be cast as the victims of evil men, there was no need to rethink the notion of female helplessness…Like all moral panics, the “white slavery” hysteria thus cast a challenge to prevailing social norms as a threat from outside forces to be fought…

racist sex trafficking propagandaOf course, once prohibition of sex work was in place, it was enforced disproportionately against poor people and ethnic minorities, especially black people, just as all prohibitionist laws are (which is why I’ve repeatedly argued that support for any prohibition is a sign of naivety and, though I find it a very flawed term, privilege).  The Mann Act of 1910 (or to give it its official name, “The White-Slave Traffic Act”), the first federal anti-prostitution law specifically worded as such, was notorious for its use in persecuting black men involved in relationships with white women.  The modern recycling of the old “white slavery” hysteria, the “sex trafficking” panic, has spawned a whole host of laws which are disproportionately employed against young black and Latino men, especially those belonging to what the “authorities” label “gangs”.  And just as in the past, interracial relationships are an especial target of busybodies looking for “signs of sex trafficking” or even just plain prostitution.

Finally, racism has played a major role in the spread of “sex trafficking” hysteria in Europe; it’s easy to see how the xenophobia and hysteria grew as the major origin points for emigration to Western Europe shifted from Eastern Europe to the Balkans to the Middle East to Africa.  The darker the skin of the migrants, the greater the panic increased and the more those migrants were infantilized and those who assist in their migration demonized.  In the US, I feel that the primary driver of the current moral panic is anti-sex hysteria, fueled by reaction to the sexual revolution, the HIV epidemic & gains in rights for sexual minorities rather than ethnic ones (which is why one of the groups disproportionately persecuted under anti-prostitution laws is transwomen).  But both the hysteria itself, and the way in which it is enforced by “authorities”, are powerfully shaped by the racism and xenophobia from which criminalization first sprang.

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