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Posts Tagged ‘The Real World’

The state should not be putting people in cages for consensual sex.  –  Kaytlin Bailey

It Looks Good On Paper

Yet another story touting bullshit “safe harbor” laws:

…according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, 1 in 7 runaways are likely child sex trafficking victims…According to Linda Smith, the president of Shared Hope International, children who are forced to in essence become sex slaves in New Jersey may still initially be arrested for the very crime that is committed against them…She said creating a diversion system to deal with minors who have been victimized may not be easy, but it must be done…Shared Hope International is working on specific legal measures that New Jersey could enact…

If prohibitionists really wanted to protect girls, they’ push for decriminalization rather than laws which define young women as legal incompetents who can be jailed indefinitely “for their own protection” and subjected to brainwashing.  Also: given that only 0.014% of all “missing children” are abducted by strangers, NCMEC’s claim that “1 in 7 runaways are likely child sex trafficking victims” is not just an exaggeration; it’s a blatant lie.

End Demand (#638)

Prohibitionist uses a story about an exploited hotel worker to promote anti-sex fantasies:

…“A hotel worker was being forced into work by her uncle to clean hotels here in King County,” said Mar Brettmann, executive director of Businesses Ending Slavery and Trafficking.  “One of her colleagues noticed she had signs of abuse and trauma…her paycheck was being taken and she was being abused by her uncle at home.  She was able to get out and get help”…Hotel workers can also be the ones who see signs of sex trafficking of young people, Brettmann [fantasizes.  Propaganda about]…such issues is what Businesses Ending Slavery and Trafficking…does…[blah blah, “end demand” nonsense]…

Vendetta (#730) 

Another group of technically competent but woefully naive kids is exploited by the police state to attack sex workers:

There will soon be a new app to help [persecute sex workers in Eugene, Oregon]…The app was created in a team effort at the…Hack for a Cause event in April 2017.  It’s called Emerald Citizen.  The goal is to [indoctrinate] people [in] how to recognize signs of sex [work] and…report [them to]…the Eugene [vice squad]…Tamara LeRoy…said because [“authorities” use the word “trafficking” to mean]…so many [things], it [is easy to convince the gullible to spy on virtually anyone]…LeRoy said it could be beneficial to [pigs to] have more community members [spying on and reporting each other]…

The “Emerald Squealer” app contains the helpful categories “buyer” and “victim” so the user need not worry about difficult things like using their own judgment.

Scrupleless in Seattle (#806)

Cops are on the same intellectual level as monkeys; that’s why they ape each other’s “sting” tactics:

…[state-employed thugs raided] Angel Massage [in Fresno]…arrested the workers…then took over the business…posing as massage therapists [to entrap adults seeking consensual sex]…Three women…were…booked…for operating a house of prostitution…[cops] are treating them as victims…

They are indeed victims: victims of rapist thugs carrying out a pogrom.

A Woman’s Point of View (#806) 

We’re definitely not giving up on New Hampshire:

A national group that advocates for the decriminalization of prostitution has hired New Hampshire lobbyists…and is pushing for a review of the state’s prostitution laws.  Representatives of Decriminalize Sex Work appeared before the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee earlier this month to oppose a bill that would have toughened penalties against customers…A lobbyist opposing the bill, former Republican Senate majority leader Bob Clegg, said he believes he has convinced the committee to hold the bill for further study, including review of New Hampshire laws addressing prostitution.  Stricter penalties against prostitutes and their customers drive the women underground, he said.  “It makes it that much more dangerous for the women involved,” Clegg said…Two years ago, the New Hampshire House passed legislation to study a change in the laws.  It died in the state Senate…Decriminalize Sex Work is a national organization that is launching its website later this month, said Kaytlin Bailey, the organization’s communications director…She said the national organization kicked into gear after President Trump signed [FOSTA-SESTA]…a California philanthropist provided seed money for a full-time staff and lobbying forms.  The staff includes three people active in the marijuana-legalization effort and lobbyists in New Hampshire and Rhode Island…

Something Rotten in Sweden (#812)

California now has its own annual anti-whore pogrom:

Fourteen minors were among the nearly 50 [sex workers arrested]…during a sting across California that netted 339 [other] arrests…Some of the victims [of] law enforcement were as young as 13 [and] [cops also abducted sex workers’] children as young as 6…Among those arrested during “Operation Reclaim and Rebuild” were [associates of sex workers whom spokespigs fantasized as] pimps who had put victims up for sale…”Dramatic [masturbatory fantas]ies” of rescues and arrests have been shared between law enforcement agencies…

Cops and Robbers (#844) 

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

For four-time Olympian Chris Lori, saving children in Southeast Asia from human traffickers feels more gratifying than winning any medal…he…spent the past seven years volunteering with a [prohibitionist] organization dedicated to [arresting young women]…in the sex trade.  Initially, Lori helped to fund the group’s operations, but after a few years behind the scenes, he became an undercover [snitch]…“Every time you see these little girls, your heart just breaks,” said Lori…“They are precious little things, totally innocent, and have no idea what’s going on in the world”…Lori participates in surveillance and raid operations in the Philippines for Destiny Rescue…

If you’re interested in what the women Lori infantilizes as “precious little things” in his racist rescue fantasies actually have to say for themselves, try this link for Thailand and this one for the Philippines.

The Real World (#857)

Though this article exaggerates the prevalence of serious mental health issues in sex workers, it makes some very important points:

…elevated rates of mental illness are presumed [by amateurs] to signify an inherent problem with the sex industry…because only “broken dolls” would even consider pursuing sex as a career.  Furthermore, the industry itself is [fantasized] to be so exploitative and abusive that anyone involved is just setting themselves up for trauma and PTSD…[but] the fact [is] that the high pay and flexible hours of…sex work make these jobs appealing to people whose mental health issues make committing to a 9-to-5 office job difficult…[also] the stigma of being a sex worker isolates people and prevents them from finding competent mental health care…many sex workers who seek out mental health care find that disclosing their line of work often provokes unwanted and unsolicited opinions…the majority of therapists either aren’t aware of the particular issues faced by sex workers or come to these sessions with inaccurate, stereotypical ideas…“Amidst a nationwide campaign about human trafficking, many therapists grow concerned that a patient involved in sex work has been subjected to human trafficking,” therapist Dr. David Ley writes in an essay on therapy and sex work, noting that this assumption can alienate sex-working clients and damage their relationship with their therapist…

Signs (#887)

Motel 6 gets some comeuppance for its eager copsucking:

A federal judge overseeing the settlement between Motel 6 and a Latino civil rights group said he needs more information on the number of guests who may have been affected by the…practice of giving guest lists to immigration authorities…an attorney for Motel 6 acknowledged that tens of thousands of guests’ information was turned over to [feds]…However, data on Motel 6 guests who were questioned by ICE or deported is in the hands of the federal government, the attorney said – if such data even exists…

Top Cop 

The “progressives” have anointed this sleazebag as their new messiah:

…Kamala Harris…is the latest political celebrity to get a mini-me version of herself from the company FCTRY…the…manufacturer announced the release of its…Robert Mueller action figure…[and has] fashioned figurines…[of] Elizabeth Warren…Ruth Bader Ginsburg…Bernie Sanders…and…Obama. The[re’s also]…an “Evil Trump” figure…FCTRY CEO Jason Feinberg [made a number of cringeworthily obsequious comments praising the vile, racist, pro-slavery, police-state goon Harris]…

Stupor Bowl (#909)

The War on Whores is also a war on migration:

Myths about sex trafficking at the Super Bowl are rearing their heads once again…Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez…tweeted her desire to “scrap” Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after comedian Mohanad Elshieky, who is in the U.S. legally, was detained by border patrol agents while traveling between gigs.  Washington Examiner  contributor and former…DHS…supervisor Jason Piccolo…responded to Ocasio-Cortez’s tweet by declaring that the congresswoman wanted to abolish “the agency fighting the illegal sex trade at the Super Bowl…Yes, the same ICE synonymous with immigration enforcement will deploy teams of special agents to combat the sex trade in Georgia“…fact-checks have found little support for the assertion that the game doubles as a major sex trafficking event…Still, local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies continue to ignore the facts in favor of their own narratives…[about] the mythical problem…

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

The Sky is Falling!

Even by prohibitionist standards, this is hilariously hysterical:

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

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

Watershed

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

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

Theatrics

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

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

Good News, Bad News (#409)

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

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

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

The Face of Trafficking (#646) 

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

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

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

Elephant in the Parlor (#828) 

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

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

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic (#833) 

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

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

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

All-Purpose Excuse (#834)

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

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

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

The Real World

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

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

Pyrrhic Victory (#851) 

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

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

Disaster (#852)

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

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

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

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As many sex workers and clients know, having a degree and/or certification is no guarantee that a therapist will not be completely clueless about sex work.  Disinformation about our work and lives is so widespread, and the stigma against properly investigating it so entrenched, that it’s possible for someone to earn a PhD in psychology or social work or whatever without even having a passing acquaintance with anything resembling a fact on the subject.  Moreover, interest in psychology is not equivalent to a belief in human rights or a desire to promote happiness and sexual health; there are just as many control freaks dressed up as therapists as there are dressed up as teachers, doctors, clergymen, judges or any other “authority” figure you can name, and people like Melissa “13” Farley and Dominique “Body Fluids” Roe-Sepowitz are perfectly happy to design fake “studies” to “prove” whatever anti-whore belief they want to lend credence to.  So when a sex worker or client goes looking for a therapist, they’re much less likely to find an Alyxx Berg or a David Ley than they are a misogynistic quack who insists that literally no woman is capable of making pragmatic decisions about sex, and knows nothing of any of the copious research disproving myths about sex work, sex workers, clients, third parties or any other aspect of the demimonde.  Therapists well-informed about sex work are so rare, in fact, that when I see an excellent article like this one by Katie Bloomquist I experience a palpable sense of relief that there are at least some members of the psychiatric community who live in the real world rather than in some Victorian fantasyland of male sexual predators and helpless, asexual female victims:

Assuming therapy clients who pay for sex have traits of sexual narcissism and feel “entitled” to women’s bodies is based on harmful myths and stereotypes about those who pay for sex.  As systemic mental health providers, being curious about the needs the client is getting met when they pay for sexual services is key– is it an emotional need?  A physical need?  A need to express a type of sex that is not “allowed” in the relationship”…Examining the systemic function the behavior of paying for sexual services plays usually reveals more about our clients’ needs and wants in their relationships and sex lives…Conversely, the antiquated notion that women should only have sex with men “for free” is based on male entitlement to women’s bodies and grossly gendered ideas of emotional and sexual labor.  This notion is also based on gendered assumptions…that women who engage in sexual behavior in exchange for money are either deviants or victims, as the stereotype of women who have any type of sex is that their sexual behavior must be “intimate” or “emotional”.  Gendering sex in this way is inaccurate and harmful – as it often results in female-identified people being expected to provide sex and intimacy “for free” and discounts emotional and sexual labor as a valuable type of work…

This isn’t Bloomquist’s only article on the subject, and informed therapists are not as rare as they were even ten or twenty years ago.  But they’re still rare enough that when I see reality laid out like this in a short, concise article, it gives me hope that many years of hard work by activists and ethical researchers is finally beginning to have lasting cultural impact.

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I’ve been escorting (again) on the downlow the last couple months, to save money for a “straight” biz.  I’m American, but live on a Latin American country and only see Americans here on business.  Psychologically, its starting to get tough; I worry that somebody will find out and my efforts to build a new biz will be destroyed when it comes out, and that I won’t be able to share this with a partner or ever have kids.  It’s getting heavy and scary, especially at night; when I wake up it’s like those dark clouds have left me – but I know they will come back.  And the Backpage shutdown has made it much worse.  How can I stop these thoughts?

Unfortunately, I think you are going to need more help handling these feelings than I can give you here.  I’m not a psychologist, but it seems to me that you’re suffering more than a normal amount of anxiety over this and could use a little professional assistance.  This is not to say that what you’re feeling is unreal; all of the concerns you’ve listed are very real and very rational, especially with the US government now actively crusading against sex workers all over the world rather than just in the US.  But even feelings with a sound basis in reality can become overwhelming, and it sounds like you’re headed in that direction; even talking with a therapist might help, and she can help you to determine if something like an anti-anxiety medication (such as alprazolam) might be right for you (I take that very medication myself for my anxiety attacks).  If you don’t have a good therapist, maybe Alyxx could help you; she is licensed to do therapy by phone or Skype.

Hang in there, and good luck!

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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It’s not unusual for sex workers to ask me to point them toward sexwork-friendly therapists, but even “sex positive”, queer-and-kink friendly therapists are sometimes very judgmental about sex work.  And though I know a couple in the Seattle area, I get requests from all over the country.  So when Alyxx (whom I know in real life) told me that she was now licensed to do phone or video therapy, I asked if she’d write a column for me.  When I asked about her knowledge of sex work, she just smiled and countered “How do you think I paid my bills during Grad School?”  She works closely with members of alternative communities and is available in person or via phone, text, or video.

“I feel like I’m being judged.”

“I can’t open up, if she knows what I do for a living that will be the whole thing.”

“I don’t need to be grilled about my past, I need to focus on my real needs.”

Have you thought these things before?  Said them to others?  Feared going to a therapist because of social stigma or risk  of getting care that just ignores who you are?  What if you had a therapist who was actively involved in alternative lifestyles?  As someone who is LBGTQ (well, at least two or three of those), Sex Work experienced, and involved in the local Leather and Queer communities, I am open to meeting people where they are, not where someone else thinks they should be.  I have decades of experience in the field, and hold Licenses in Counseling and Chemical Dependency treatment.  Despite that latter, I don’t think drugs are “bad” (or “good,”) they are tools that a person chooses to solve a problem, just like any other behavior.

My primary therapeutic approach is “choice” therapy.  William Glasser developed Reality/Choice therapy in the 1960’s as a way to empower clients to solve problems by examining choices and taking control of those paths.  With the passage of time and practical experience, this method has grown into a method that allows for true harm reduction, meeting clients where they are and accepting that the client, not the therapist, is the expert on what is needed and how to make changes.  “Well,” you might think, “If I’m the expert, why do I need you?”  The answer to that lies in experience, and in ability to see the various paths available, when the client seems stuck.  You are the expert in you, but I’m the expert in helping you get to your goal, finding your options, and focusing in on what you really want and need.  In a world where people are telling you how to live and what to think, it can be very helpful to have a guide, a map to the treasure you seek.  Your past might hold some trauma that needs addressing, but what is important is how you are going to move forward today, what choices will get you out of bed in the morning and able to present yourself the best way you are able.  It’s not about being another person telling you what to do, but working with you to provide you the tools so you can do what you want.

I am available in multiple ways so that we can tailor your time with me to your needs, be it short-term problem solving or long-term therapies.  I offer in-office sessions if you are local to the Seattle area, as well as offering online options (video, audio, and/or text).  Unusual schedules are generally not a problem; you can email me at this address, or call/text me at 206-569-8819, and we’ll set something up!

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