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Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’

Everyone kind of talked about the fact that she licked people.
–  Cheryl McGrady

I was surprised when I stumbled across this video last week, because I was beginning to think I was the only person who remembered Klaatu; the last time I tried to find their albums on Amazon (I guess about a decade ago) I turned up a big zero.  But after watching this video I searched again, and presto!  Two albums on CD to add to my wish list (and if someone gets there before you, don’t be afraid to scroll down for other good stuff you can get me).  The links above the video were provided by Missy MariposaMike SiegelScott GreenfieldDave Krueger (x2), and Tim Cushing, in that order.

From the Archives

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Backup

When Twitter censored my account last week (for an anti-government tweet it absurdly called “targeted harassment” of a building), I was forced to start a backup account; given what I’ve seen happen to others on the platform in the past few months, I was planning to do it anyhow just in case my primary one was shut down.  So I started the new account, followed myself, then simply followed all the same accounts as my primary account so my news-gathering would be unaffected; I DMed a number of the people I interact with regularly (locked accounts can still DM, they just can’t publicly tweet) and asked them to follow me, then continued as usual (and the publicity garnered 200 new follows on the main account while it was locked).  As of Tuesday morning I’m back to tweeting from the primary account, but I ask that those of y’all who use Twitter please follow the backup account as well; if Twitter continues to disfavor, shadowban, and censor sex worker accounts as they have been doing for the past couple of years, or even purge us as several other platforms have, it will be good to have a least a healthy fraction of my current Twitter following already in place at my fallback position.  And in the very near future, I’ll probably start a backup for the backup, just in case.

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Targeted

When I woke up Tuesday morning and checked my email, I found this ridiculous message from Twitter; it appears some Trumpist got his little fee-fees hurt by this comment and so tattled to Twitter, which responded in bizarrely disproportionate fashion by locking my account for a WEEK.  In case you’re wondering what this message (which you’ll note was a reply, not a general-audience tweet) is about, it was in reply to someone who stated that the federal employees forced to work without pay due to the so-called “shutdown” should go on strike.  As I told Elizabeth Nolan Brown,  “‘Targeted harassment’ of a government building of the most powerful Empire on Earth?…I had no idea I was so formidable.”  Despite the absurdity of the situation, it may be a harbinger of what sex workers have been worried about since FOSTA passed early last spring:  more eagerly-censorious companies like Facebook have been quick to throw sex workers under the bus, leaving Twitter as the last of the big social media outfits to tolerate us; this may be a sign that those days are coming to an end, and we may soon be purged from there as we have been from every other major social media platform.  I’ll be back tweeting as normal Tuesday morning, but in the meantime I’ve established a backup account to tweet from (and to build up just in case Twitter starts purging sex worker accounts), and I’d appreciate it if those of y’all who are on Twitter would follow me there as well.

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Melissa Mariposa is an escort and owner of Red Umbrella Hosting; she has also established and improved several other sites to help other sex workers, since our options have been steadily shrinking due to the war on whores.  I asked her to write an introduction to these sites because I’ve seen too many shady operators attempting to capitalize on the panic the US government has intentionally sown in our community.

As someone with an IT background, I knew as soon as FOSTA-SESTA passed that our web presence was in trouble.  Many mainstream web hosts have officially prohibited sex work related content while actually looking the other way, but I thought this might cause a shift towards enforcing those policies — as under FOSTA-SESTA, they become liable for that content.  Without hesitation, I cancelled my next 2 tours, acquired an offshore server, and was up and running before the weekend.  I spent most of my spring both migrating and rebuilding sites from the Internet Archive for those that had lost their free sites without warning, and as I was plugging away, I started to notice a change in ad sites.  EROS was making huge policy changes but staying silent (remember they had been raided six months prior by DHS and which we still do not know what is going on), TER had excluded US providers entirely, P411 was announcing “upcoming changes”.  It seemed our ad market was slowly folding one site at a time.

Then Backpage happened; they operated flagrantly with their servers in Arizona and we all paid the price.  While having an offshore setup does not make you immune in itself, there are definitely ways to maintain anonymity — otherwise  Pirate Bay would not have an almost 20 year running time.   There is a right way to do things, and Backpage did not do it.  At all.  And what I’ve since discovered (to my horror) is that none of the big ad sites in our industry were following the path laid out by internet pirates before us; no one is following best practices for a grey market site.  Not one site.  Most of them are hosted in the US, or they use Cloudflare which is a service that is in no way safe for sex workers.  The most well known escort ad sites grossed in the millions; Backpage made $135 million in 2014 alone, and sites like P411, TER, and EROS are also unquestionably in the 7 figure club.  I naively thought that these multimillion dollar businesses that get so much from us at the very least had a qualified IT person who understood the nature of what they were doing; I was wrong — and in retrospect, I was really fucking stupid to think that.  This was a sharp reminder of what I already knew:  No one is here for us, they’re here to make money off of us.  Sex workers aren’t exploited by our clients, we’re exploited by these sites, and some of the worst actors in this industry have been owners of some of the highest grossing sites.  Why do we put our money in the pockets of pimps and panderers?  Because they make us feel like we have to.  They aggregate false ads from our real ads on other sites, draw our clients in, we think that’s where clients like to look, so we make ads there and give them our money.

So I started looking around for legitimately offshore provider-run ad sites.  I was tired of putting my money in the hands of opportunistic dudebros, people who wanted to make a fast buck and should have known better, but didn’t.  I want to put my money in the hands of qualified women in IT who know our industry, know security, and who work to help us.  What I found was Have We Met, which had been around since 2016 (I was a beta tester, as I love the concept) but with strict policies that hindered them in the pre-FOSTA market.  I decided to reach out the owners (a provider and her partner) and they took me on as a silent partner.  I started implementing small changes to policy and pricing, and after a few months they asked if I would be interested in acquiring ownership of the site.  I happily accepted, and after some restructuring, Have We Met became what it is today:  A place where a provider can create a profile with their stats, website, and photos, and list themselves for free in up to 20 areas.  They can also write one single ad which is automatically listed in whatever areas they choose to list their profile; so if you’re touring 10 cities, you just add those cities to your profile, set up your ad, and the ad is automatically listed in those 10 cities when a client searches for providers — no expiration date.  Have We Met isn’t just an ad site — there is also a dual sided verification feature.  The provider and the client  are both asked eight basic, non-intrusive, non-sexual questions about the encounter involving subjects like punctuality, safety, and hygiene.  This is a checkbox only system with no room for textual fantasies of illegal activity.   After the verification is complete, it shows up on the provider’s profile to show future clients that others have found her to be clean, safe, reputable, and pleasant to be around.  Clients can pay a small fee to show verifications on their profile.  The questions clients are asked seem more helpful than what a simple “whitelisting” or “okay” provides, and I also felt this would provide a nice alternative to reviews whilst providing the assurance clients seek from them.  A “review” on the legal exchange of time for money and nothing more.  Verification without incrimination.

Meanwhile, I decided to also build a simpler site, something familiar which everyone knew the feel of, which could be completely managed from a smartphone because I know a lot of providers who don’t use computers anymore except to advertise.  So SWAN was born:  A familiar-feeling classified system where everything from searching to ad building can be done from the tiny computer in your pocket.  Ads are free, and all upgrades are under $10 (and you just so happen to get $10 credit free when you sign up for the site).  Like Red Umbrella Hosting, these sites require no ID to advertise and take no personal information to get started; they both offer free advertising, with optional paid upgrades with three methods of anonymous payment: physical gift card, crypto, and money order via mail.  I do not wish to tie your work life to your real life in any way; I don’t want your drivers license or pictures of your face with your work name written on it.  Those measures, used by other sites, are overly intrusive and unnecessary.  I have tried to approach building these sites from the angle of, “What do I as a provider want?” as well as asking others.  I welcome all feedback — positive and negative — on all of my offerings so I can continuously improve them.  I want to make tools that people want.

When FOSTA-SESTA hit, some of the popular blacklists began “cleaning up” entries that had titles such as “rape”, changing them to “bad date”.  In fear that we would no longer have an unadulterated blacklist, I set up OurList; I also have a site launching this week called Relax With Me, which you’ll just have to wait and see about (I will tell you that it involves advertising and another non-vulgar alternative to traditional reviews, and will also be free for providers).  Coming up in 2019 there are two large projects on the horizon for my company Trystworthy; Michael Fattorosi has speculated that within the next year our social media options will be gone, and I agree.  So I have been working with another developer on how to best start and implement a new social platform (NOT Mastadon) and am hoping to open something by the end of the first quarter at the latest.  The other project is completely under wraps for now, but you should be hearing something soon; it’s completely different and totally unrelated to any other offering I have and I am beyond excited.  My goal going forward is that I want to continue to offer useful tools to providers in this industry affordably, reliably, and transparently; all sites I build are fully functional for providers without a single dollar invested, and optional upgrades are exactly that:  Optional.  Advertising should not be your biggest overhead, a headache, or something you dread thinking about; it should be the easiest part of your job, and that’s what I am striving to do.   These sites are labors of love for an industry that has given me my entire life.  Building tools for the future is the best way I feel I can “give back”, and I will continue working towards this goal for as long as I draw breath.

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A few days after the whole “thot audit” nonsense, another (though much smaller) silly season erupted on Twitter.  But while the former was comprised mostly of misogynist incel and PUA-type whore haters, the latter was comprised mostly of misogynistic married whore-haters who are seemingly terrified of the idea that their daughters might grow up to have pragmatic views about sex.  And while the “thot audit” yahoos proudly and openly advertised themselves as copsuckers and badge-lickers, the “Would you want your daughter to do it?” busybodies mostly claimed to have libertarian ideas about decriminalization and so pretended that their concern about sex work is that it’s “dangerous” and/or not “empowering”.  The hypocrisy of the “dangerous” argument is clearly revealed by the fact that these men don’t pontificate about how women shouldn’t join the cops or military; somehow danger is only an issue when sex is involved.  And nobody seems all too concerned about whether being a waitress, cashier, or manicurist is “empowering”; again, “empowerment” only magically becomes an issue when sex is involved.  The basic issue here is that busybodies with creepy sexual fantasies about women feel qualified to judge work they’ve never done and know nothing about on airy-fairy criteria like “empowerment”; this is why we have prohibition.  The only kind of “empowerment” that a job is required to provide is economic empowerment, in other words, the amount of economic power it provides relative to other jobs.  And despite the “pimp” and “slavery” masturbatory fantasies of prohibitionists, sex work compares very well indeed in comparison to other jobs which require no formal education, licensing, etc.  But that’s not the only problem with the concept of “empowerment”; as I wrote in “Politicizing the Personal” over 7 years ago:

…To “empower” someone is to grant her power; it automatically implies A) that she hasn’t got any in the first place, and B) that such power is the speaker’s to give.  Using the word in an active sense (“we need to empower women”) establishes the speaker or his organization as the intrinsic superior and benefactor of the person or persons so “empowered”, and using the word in a passive sense (“an empowered woman”) robs the person so “empowered” of agency, reducing her to the passive recipient of someone else’s benevolence just as people were imagined to be “granted” rights by a king in archaic political theory…

In short, merely bringing up the word in a discussion about women automatically places the speaker at a vantage point above the person he’s speaking about, like a scientist discussing some species of newt.  Nobody uses the word “empowered” when talking about men’s employment, and nobody should be using it to talk about women’s either.

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The issue with filters starts with the fact that their purpose is to block content.  –  Michael Stabile

They Just Don’t Get It

Pittsburgh-area cops are among the most aggressively ignorant and pompously stupid in the US on the topic of sex work:

Prostitution rings are becoming more sophisticated, and that’s creating new challenges for police…Greensburg police investigators say the internet has [magically transformed into] a vast sea of sex for sale [complete with ships and tentacled hentai monsters]…[unusually stupid pig] Robert Stafford [oinked that]…the sites used to advertise such services…“always seem to be the same website…there always seems to be a drug habit involved”…when [sex workers] are [locked] up [often after being raped by cops], there is a genuine effort to save them from the street and in reality from themselves…

So many dysphemisms, so much bullshit.  “Sophisticated prostitution rings” is the most popular cop excuse for raping sex workers, a practice that Pennsylvania aggressively defends.  As for the bizarre cop fantasy that there is only one ad website, this is the first I’ve heard of it; usually the claim is exactly the opposite, that there are dozens or even hundreds in every city.

Judd Not, Lest Ye Be Judded

I’m always glad to see this wannabe savior get egg on her face:

Ashley…Judd’s…anti-trafficking activism [ignorantly and intentionally]…conflate[s] sex trafficking and sex work.  Judd also serves on the advisory council of Demand Abolition…[after a series of ugly anti-sex worker tweets last week] Judd’s social media was quickly inundated with criticism, causing Judd to double down on her anti-sex work platform…writing…I believe body invasion is indeed inherently harmful…Buying sex…commodifies…girls and women’s orfices [sic]”…Unsurprisingly, real-life sex workers took issue with Judd’s numerous…assertions…@BrookeBrou was a vocal participant in the thread, tweeting, “You are harming people with your ignorant ideas about what sex work actually is”…Brou…explained that, “I find [Ashley Judd’s] posts rendering a SW to her orifices incredibly disgusting…What is apparent is that Ashley Judd is not only misguided, but also simple-minded…it looks like Ashley lacks the cognitive ability to fully grasp the complexity of…SW voices and experiences”…

That weird sci-fi “body invasion” nonsense was invented by Gloria Steinem; this isn’t the first time Judd has incompetently parroted it.

Backwards Into the Future (June Updates)

A strip club defeats part of a stupid “sin density” law:

In New Jersey, clubs and restaurants that do not have licenses to sell alcoholic beverages may nevertheless allow customers to bring beer or wine to consume on the premises.  But they [we]re not allowed to tell customers about that option…until…a federal judge ruled that a state ban on advertising BYOB policies violates the First Amendment…Stiletto, a strip club in Atlantic City…[has no] liquor license…[because] strip clubs that feature total nudity are not allowed to have [one]…New Jersey offered no [defense to the club’s suit other]…than boilerplate about “protect[ing] the health, safety, and welfare of the people…through the promotion of temperance.”  It did not explain how letting people know they can bring their own beer and wine is more likely to promote intemperance than advertising the sale of alcoholic beverages, as businesses with liquor licenses routinely do…

Scapegoats (#15) 

Six and a half years after I first heard the tale, and 15 years after it is supposed to have happened, the story of the “prostitute” orangutan named Pony gets enough detail to tip my opinion from “probably not true” to “probably at least partly true”.  This version of the story actually has the name of a Danish conservationist, Lone Droscher-Nielsen, who cared for Pony after she was rescued from a village near a palm-oil plantation in Indonesia; the story talks about a “brothel” but other details seem to indicate that she was the pet of the whole village, and that the men who paid to fuck her appear to have viewed the experience as a novelty.  It’s in The Sun, which is not exactly known for journalistic rigor; however, there are pictures of the ape and quotes from the conservationists explaining the rehabilitation process.  My guess?  Basically true but embellished to increase luridness.

Monsters 

This could also be filed under “Torture Chamber”, but I suspect she was targeted for being trans:

A transgender woman who died [after being caged by] Immigration and Customs Enforcement…was likely physically abused [by screws]…and died after several days of severe, untreated dehydration.  Roxsana Hernández Rodriguez…died on May 25…[from] “severe complications of dehydration superimposed upon HIV infection”…the…autopsy…also found evidence of physical abuse, with “deep bruising” on her hands and abdomen, evidence of blunt-force trauma “indicative of blows, and/or kicks, and possible strikes with blunt object”…as well as extensive hemorrhaging on [her]…wrists, which…[a]re “typical of handcuff injuries”…

If Men Were Angels 

Most rapes by clergymen are much more subtle:

A former pastor…kidnapped three women and [raped] two…Thomas Bruce…had a history of going on social media rants against “gun-free zones”…[he] posed as a customer of a Catholic Supply store in [Missouri]…When he saw that there were two female employees and one female customer in the store, Bruce…forced the three women to go with him into a back room at gunpoint…he ordered them to strip and “perform…sexual acts on him”…One of the women, Jamie Schmidt refused to give in to his demands, and Bruce…killed her with a shot to the head.  This prompted the other two women to begin complying with his requests, and Bruce eventually fled…

Grow the Hell Up! (#644)

Sometimes “sex trafficking” bullshit is too much for even politicians to pretend to believe. The Dallas Morning News printed this “editorial”:

A [pig leader masturbated while fantasizing that]…a person trapped into “the life”…is left with little hope and no sense of what it means to trust another person, experience joy, or even know friendship.  It is gratifying then to know that this week the Dallas Police Department will…unveil…a new strategy…to [persecute peaceful adults using the excuse of]…human sex trafficking…On November 28, the department is relaunching its vice unit, which was disbanded last year amid an internal investigation…a new philosophy…will [lock up sex workers and call that]…serving the victims…those who [are labeled] trafficked will face prosecution [anyway]…[blah blah] those who traffic in the sale of human flesh…

While on the same day, the same paper printed this:

…The Dallas Police Department’s beleaguered vice unit will soon be back in action after a year off the streets.  But the…details were a little murky to some members of the [city] council’s Public Safety & Criminal Justice Committee…members…wanted to know how the department’s new approach differed from the unit’s previous iteration — and why the vice unit was disbanded in the first place…Police Chief U. Renee Hall in November 2017 disbanded the vice unit amid what she called “serious issues”.  Since then, she has given few specific details about what those issues were [except vague statements about]…policy violations, accounting discrepancies…and a general lack of accountability.  But [the names of cops]…accused of violations [are still being hidden and there have been no]…criminal charges…The [old vice pigs]…will not be returning to the unit…council members said police officials were still too vague in their descriptions of both the problems and the [supposed] solutions…

Whore Madonnas (#734) 

An interview with a pregnant sex worker:

Sex work is arguably the single most stigmatized profession in the world.  Add pregnancy and motherhood…and that stigma increases one-hundred fold.  Last year, when Summer Sebastian announced that she would be working at the Bunny Ranch…throughout her pregnancy, it made for international headlines.  [Maxine] Holloway hasn’t even given birth yet and she’s already been harassed online by people saying that she’s harming her future child.  I visited Holloway at her home in Oakland, California to talk about pregnancy fetishes, mommy role-play, and the stigma of doing sex work while pregnant…

Opting Out (#822) 

UK politicians have been forced to delay their ridiculous censorship scheme again:

For the past year and a half, the UK government has been promising…a nationwide age verification system that would require would-be porn consumers to demonstrate their adulthood before accessing adult content…A few years ago, the country attempted to block adult sites at the ISP level, requiring users to opt in to access adult content…[of course the censorship software] ended up blocking far more than just porn.  The Digital Economy Act…puts the onus on [websites], who must comply with the policy or risk getting banned by major payment processors.  Yet…the age verification system’s rollout — which was initially scheduled for this past spring — was postponed yet again, as [politicians] continued to grapple with the [impossibility] of creating a system that [censors content for people under 18] without [blocking]…other sex-related content…Since the dawn of the internet, tech companies have promised [censorious] parents an easy way to [maintain] their children’s [ignorance about sex]…while allowing them to freely browse the [rest] of the internet…however, these porn blockers aren’t nearly as…effective as advertised, largely because figuring out what is and is not pornography is rarely a simple matter.  Apple’s recently launched…parental controls…produced results that were inconsistent at best…innocent items like a search for a dulce de leche recipe wound up blocked, as did numerous sex education sites.  Teen Vogue’s entire site wound up blocked, as did sites offering assistance to queer youth…

Disaster (#865)

Even the perennially-obtuse Rolling Stone recognizes that FOSTA has galvanized sex worker activism:

…It wasn’t until the passage of the so-called Online Trafficking bill SESTA-FOSTA last spring that many workers began to [participate in activism]…not just to oppose the bill but also to support sex work decriminalization efforts more broadly…Christa Daring, the executive director of [SWOP-USA, says]…“SESTA-FOSTA didn’t make prostitution any more illegal than it was before, but it…really threw into stark contrast the amount of criminalization that people were facing”…“Now you have coalitions rising of people who care about criminal justice and racial justice and immigration issues all working together,” says [activist Lola] Balcon…“I’ve never seen sex workers begin organizing in the way they did following SESTA-FOSTA,” says activist Siouxsie Q. “Enough was enough”…

End Demand (#872)

At least one journalist at the Graun appears to get it:

…Under the guise of “anti-trafficking” efforts, police practices in northern California and a new federal law have broadly affected adult sex workers both online and in the streets.  The result…is…increased violence and suffering for the very women whom lawmakers [pretend] they are rescuing.  There have been two such anti-“human trafficking” sting operations in Sacramento this year, most recently in August, in which [sows role-play sex workers]…16 men were arrested for soliciting…police also arrested 25 women for “loitering with intent to commit prostitution” or “disorderly conduct”…[spokespigs] insisted the women’s arrests were separate from the stings, even though some happened on the same day and location…But Alix Lutnick, a researcher with RTI International…said that there is growing recognition that john stings don’t actually help victims…The crackdown, in a state that pre[t]en[d]s [to be] a progressive leader in social justice and women’s rights, has come at a time in which sex work is being aggressively criminalized across the US…Democrats in California have spearheaded the [persecution]…Kamala Harris, a rising star in the party, fought for the shutdown of Backpage.com…when she was the state’s top prosecutor…For one woman caught up in the [recent] arrests, police cited as evidence that she was wearing a “lace bralette”, “shorts” and “flip flops” and was carrying four “unused condoms”.  Despite the “trafficking” label, the stings have led to no trafficking charges.  [A] Sacramento [spokespig admitted]…the stings were [really] about punishing “males who were trying to pick up prostitutes”…

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This tweet from a government agency is not only blatantly false, it’s not even good propaganda.  Fentanyl is not only “safe for human consumption”, it’s a powerful pain reliever used in hospitals all over the world.  The only reason simpletons (such as those who work for NIDA) believe it’s “bad” or “unsafe” is because due to the war on drugs, it has become harder to get prescription opiates; heroin and other opiates are therefore cut with fillers to extend them and their potency is kicked back up by adding fentanyl, which is easier to smuggle because it’s so concentrated.  Of course, because it is so concentrated, even a small error in dosage can be catastrophic.  This is not only 100% predictable, it’s so inevitable a consequence it is called the Iron Law of Prohibition.

“Molly” is slang for MDMA, a drug that is not only non-addictive but far safer than alcohol; indeed it is one of the safest drugs known.  Its healing properties are obvious to anyone who has ever used it (including yours truly) and to the many researchers who have studied it as a therapy for PTSD; indeed, even the notoriously tight-arsed US FDA has approved more clinical trials and could approve it for general use in about two more years.  So why the bad reputation among the ignorant?  See the previous paragraph.  Most of what is sold as “ecstasy” contains very little MDMA, mostly consisting of methamphetamine and the usual filler garbage.  It has such a bad reputation, in fact, that a new term arose to identify comparatively-pure preparations of the drug.  And what’s NIDA’s excuse for claiming otherwise?  The FDA hasn’t finished casting the magic Spell of Approval yet, which will no doubt make it as safe as legal drugs like alcohol and tobacco (as long as one has the magic Scroll of Prescription on hand, of course).

K2, “spice” and similar drugs are synthetic cannabinoids sold as “legal highs” in places where cannabis, the safest recreational drug known to mankind, is banned.  Naturally these drugs are more dangerous than the real thing, because every drug is; however, they’re also far more dangerous than other banned recreational drugs such as MDMA and LSD.  So why does anyone use them?  Because they can’t get cannabis, of course.  Simply put, most drugs aren’t “unsafe for human consumption” when properly-prepared doses are used responsibly; prohibition, however, has been repeatedly proven to be unsafe to humans in any form.

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