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Posts Tagged ‘underage’

Kaytlin Bailey first wrote to me several years ago; she had started hinting at her sex work experience in her comedy act and wanted my opinion about coming out more fully.  I was honored that she had confided in me, pleased when she started to make it in comedy, and proud for her when she decided to fully own her experience.  We went out together one of the nights I was in New York last summer, and I’m grateful she replied positively to my request for this guest column.  Her story isn’t funny, but it is, I think, a triumph.  Her one woman show will debut in New York City at The Tank Theater July 10th, 11th & 12th. You can follow her on Twitter at @kaytlinbailey.

kaytlin headshot yellowPeople tell me I’m brave.  I try to remind them that I might be stupid.

I will never sleep with anyone ever again who doesn’t know.  Not after he threw me up against a wall, or held me down on the sidewalk until I apologized for the things I had “done to him” five, six, seven years before we met.  I was never afraid of a client, but I was terrified of a man I loved very much, who I thought I knew very well.

I started working as an independent escort when I was 17.  There were other things going on in my life:  I was the president of my high school debate team; I maintained an impressive GPA; I had a nice, age-appropriate boyfriend to whom I had dutifully lost my virginity months before; my parents gave me a generous allowance; I didn’t drink or smoke pot.  I had never been raped, but I was sure that if I ever was I would report it and that my rapist would be punished.  I had never been hit by a man.  All of that came much later. For the first few months I couldn’t even legally rent my own hotel room; I remember one incident where after-school detention cost me over $1,000.

There were, of course, consequences.  Making $400 an hour before I had any bills to pay, and spending hours in bed with deeply-unhappy rich men, gave me a lot of weird ideas about money & intimacy.  I maxed out my Roth IRA for a few years and paid for a few decadent dinners with my friends, but mostly I parked wherever I wanted to; every morning I parked directly in front of the “no parking” sign in front of my high school, and never cared about the tickets because I thought I had “fuck you” money.  I continued to see clients until it wasn’t fun anymore; I had the luxury of doing that.  I went to college, got a few degrees, then started working in politics.  At first I loved it; then I burned out, started doing open mics, became a comic and moved to NYC, in that order.  And that’s when I met the man I thought I was going to marry.

kaytlin on barI had so easily dismissed the slut shaming language of my hometown, the colloquial idea that there was such a thing as “the marrying kind”, or that anyone interesting enough to fall in love with would want such a woman (the kind I imagined busying herself with making cupcakes and saying no to perverse invitations).  I saw the Madonna/whore complex, and maybe I bought into it a little too much; if there were really only two types of women, I was going to be the free & wild kind.  I rejected the pervasive and perverse myth that when a man and woman go to bed together the woman gets up having lost something, and the man gets up having won something.  I thought it didn’t matter how many men I slept with, because I was still me.  And so I told him, and even though I hadn’t seen a client in over 6 years it broke his heart.  His whole body crumpled up, and he shook first with grief, then with rage.  He wanted so badly to make sense of me, to reconcile his love for me with things he thought he knew about “whores”.

Sometimes he would press me to give him the narrative of a desperate woman using her body as a last resort, or a victim of some horrific crime, or a stupid girl who got tricked into turning tricks.  He was enraged by the truth, and couldn’t accept that I had been curious and turned on by the idea.  I was not ashamed of what I had done until I saw what it did to him.  It drove him mad, and so I left him even though I believed that he loved me.  I left him because I knew that if I didn’t, he would kill me.  And after I left I believed for a really long time that he was right, that there was something fundamentally wrong with me.

After I left him I started telling my story; I wanted to see if people who didn’t love me as much as he did could get past what they thought they knew about being a whore.  They could.  I started by telling audiences, tentatively at first.  As a stand up comic I can tell my story with quite a bit of winking distance with lines like “its hard to go from making $400 an hour without a high school diploma, to making $10 with three degrees.”

I know there are consequences to telling my story.  I’m afraid that stupid people on the internet are right.  I’m afraid that when the sum total of my life is calculated I will have taken more than I have given.  I’m afraid of giving birth to children that hate me.  I’m afraid to tell my parents; what if I tell my Dad and it drives him to suicide?  What if I give my mom the ammunition she’s always wanted to prove I’m not just difficult, but crazy?  I’m afraid that I will find myself old, living in poverty, and neglecting myself and my dependent (a smelly dog who, justifiably, resents me).  But at the same time, I’ve always suspected that people without a complicated history aren’t taking full advantage of life’s exhilarating opportunities.  Sometimes I think I’m wired weird; maybe I’m crazy, or a “bad investment.”  Maybe I’ve put myself in a percentile of people who are undatable…unloveable?  But that’s what New York City is for; it’s where all the unmarriageable go to mate with each other.

kaytlin goofyI’m not an activist or a role model.  I know it’s complicated & I don’t pretend to have a prescription for making anything “better.”  I’m not even sure that the human experience can be made to be “better”; it’s pretty messy for everyone, even “the marrying kind” of girls.  People ask me if I’m worried I’ll be pigeonholed.  Yes, but also no.  Was Dave Attell pigeonholed a porn addict?  Jim Norton a pervert?  Amy Schumer a slut?  Chelsea Handler an exhibitionist?  Well, yes, they were, but it didn’t limit them.  I don’t know the future, so I’m choosing to talk about my experience, and I hope my audience finds me.

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People don’t come alone to Mardi Gras to find a hooker.  –  Helena

Whores and Wives

Amateur women’s attacks on sex workers are always pretty pathetic, but this one is truly stupefying:

…real men don’t pay for sex.  A man who needs to objectify women obsessively is not a man at all…when a man pays for sex, it says a lot about his character.  It takes a certain type of man to believe that women can be bought and sold…just because you need sex doesn’t mean you have to get it through prostitution; a real man knows how to get it without his credit card…sex shouldn’t be bought, but earned…A real man would never take another man’s daughter, forced to live a life of prostitution, to bed. A real man isn’t satisfied with fake moans…

The way she flails wildly between demonizing whores and denying our agency is especially fascinating.

Not To Be Taken Internally (February Updates)

“Lillian” is the professional name of Padge Victoria Windslowe, who is on trial…[for] third-degree murder…in the Feb. 8, 2011, death of exotic dancer Claudia Aderotimi…[who] flew to Philadelphia from London for a buttocks-enhancement procedure that consisted of silicone injections administered by Windslowe…The 20-year-old died after the silicone migrated to her lungs…Windslowe is [also] charged with aggravated assault for injections she gave 23-year-old Sherkeeia King in February 2012 at a “pumping party”…King was hospitalized, vomiting blood and struggling to breathe.  Doctors found that silicone in her buttocks had migrated through her bloodstream to her heart and lungs…

Above the Law rapist cop James Greene

This week’s rapist cops hail from Louisiana:  “…James Greene [of Shreveport] was [only] charged with abuse of office…[for raping] a woman [at gunpoint]“…and Canada:

Three Toronto police officers…have been charged with…gang sexual assault…Constables Leslie Nyznik, 38, Joshua Cabero, 28, and Sameer Kara, 31…[raped] a female [cop]…

Sex Work is Work

The ridiculous need to deny that sex work is legitimate work has some weird results at tax time:

…Ms X…set out her business plan for the Tax Office in considerable detail and sought confirmation that her earnings from her proposed activities would not attract tax in Poland.  She would supply, she said, “virtual sex services”, using internet cameras and microphones to connect [to] the service buyer…Prostitution is not forbidden by law in Poland, but at the same time does not constitute a “socially desirable or acceptable behaviour”, and so contracts for prostitution cannot amount to valid and legally-enforceable undertakings.   No income tax is due if a particular activity cannot be the subject of a legally-binding and enforceable agreement…the Tax Office…took the view that…as there was no physical contact in the services proposed, there was no…prostitution…and therefore…not tax-exempt.

Don’t be stupid, ladies; it was “tax evasion” that finally took down Al Capone:

A South Dakota man…paid $1 million over a four-year period for sex with an exotic dancer…David Karlen…was a star witness in a federal trial last year against Veronica Fairchild.  She was accused of failing to pay taxes…sentenced to nearly three years in prison and ordered to pay more than $214,600 in back taxes.

Original Sin (#321)

An especially amusing twist on the “porn causes sex trafficking” trope:

…Pat Robertson…linked women who enjoyed…Fifty Shades of Grey to an increase in sex trafficking around the world…“How many women have read the book and how many women are going to the movie…It’s about all kinds of sadomasochism, it’s about bondage, about whips, it’s about boiling oil, it’s about various types of restraints”…

Girls, Girls, Girls! (#337)

This article on how Mardi Gras affects the sex industry in New Orleans is interesting and more or less accurate (though I see some things have changed since my time, like this new “single woman” rule), but woefully incomplete:  the “New Orleans sex economy” ain’t just strip clubs, y’all.

Imaginary Evils 

Remember, huge police operations have never found more than a single-digit number of “sex trafficking” cases in the UK:

Inside one of Britain’s biggest special anti-trafficking operations, police officers surrounded by files, forms and photographs attempt to unravel a complex network of crime…Operation Retriever was set up in September after police in northern England were alerted to a Slovakian woman who had been tricked into travelling to Britain and then forced to marry a man…There are as many as 13,000 victims of slavery in Britain, forced to work in factories and farms, sold for sex in brothels, or imprisoned in domestic servitude…

devilsdoorbell

Innocence Never Had

Why can people not get this simple concept through their thick skulls?

Homelessness is one of the main reasons youth…engage in “survival sex”…LGBTQ…youth are dramatically more likely to trade sex for a place to stay, according to a new study…Prior research has shown homeless LGBTQ youth were “seven times more likely” to trade sex than their heterosexual counterparts…Those surveyed saw, on average, 11 to 18 customers weekly…The law considers any minor participating in the sex industry to be “trafficked”…but…only 15 percent said they had been in an exploitative situation during their time in survival sex…

Bread and Circuses

It’s good to see the mainstream media getting it:

…on June 25, 2014, visitors to RedBook got a rude shock.  Instead of a directory of links to sexy ads, forums, and reviews, they saw a dire-looking alert from the Department of Justice, FBI, and IRS stating that RedBook’s domain had been seized.  The Feds’ message, still up today, asserts that there is probable cause that the site was involved in “money laundering derived from racketeering based on prostitution”…

Legal Is As Legal Does (#450)

Banning prostitution from Auckland’s troublespots will not be a job for the Government.  Instead, Auckland Council has been told it already has the power to pass a bylaw to address the problem.  There had been interest in the law change because other cities, in particular Christchurch, were keen to have similar powers to ban prostitution near schools, family homes or sports facilities…

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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on January 11th; I have modified it slightly for time references and to fit the format of this blog.

After a moral panic ripens into its fullest development, it quickly begins to rot and ferment, producing noxious spirits which seep into the body politic and cause all manner of aberrations for years; sometimes the aftereffects can last for decades.  The odious fruit of “sex trafficking” hysteria is no exception; it reached its peak last year, saturating the entire culture with its noisome effluvia, and is now entering the stage where it is beginning to break down from within.  Up to now, most of the people harmed by the hysteria have been sex workers, our clients, our associates and the families of all three groups; the stench of a fully-ripened panic, however, cannot be so easily contained, and the evil plant governments were only too happy to cultivate is now beginning to stain their own.  Perhaps you saw this article last month?

A woman who claims she was made to have sex with the Duke of York has said she was paid £10,000 by her then-employer Jeffrey Epstein, and alleges that Prince Andrew knew she was just 17 years old at the time…Buckingham Palace has issued an unprecedented denial in relation to the new claims, denying that the Duke had “any form of sexual contact or relationship” with…Virginia Roberts…[who] claims that between 1999 and 2002 she “was forced to have sexual relations with this prince when she was a minor” in London, New York and on a private Caribbean island owned by her then-employer and friend of Prince Andrew Jeffrey Epstein.  While the age of consent is 16 in the UK, it was and remains 18 in Florida, where the court papers were filed.  Now a convicted sex offender, Epstein used hidden cameras to picture underage girls in his properties…It has not been alleged that the Duke knew Epstein was forcing Ms Roberts to have sex with him.  “The Prince didn’t give me money with his own hands,” she said. “Jeffrey always took care of paying me after I ‘entertained’ his friends.”  Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz – also named in the US court papers – said the claims against him were part of a pattern of “made-up stories” against prominent people, and advised the Duke to do everything in his power to clear his name…

First of all, it’s important to note that even in Roberts’ fantasy description of events, she was not a “slave” in any meaningful sense of the word; apparently she was employed by Epstein, and claims to have been (quite generously) paid for her work.  Unless I’m reading this incorrectly her entire case is based on the lawheaded premise that laws control reality, so that while she was an adult capable of consenting to sex, work or sex work while in the UK, she magically lost that agency as soon as she crossed into Florida because legislators had defined her as a “child” there.  By this “reasoning”, if I were to cross the border into a fundamentalist theocracy which defines women as morally incompetent,Virginia Roberts with Prince Andrew I would truly and actually lose the ability to make moral decisions, drive, consent to sex or whatever.  And presumably, anyone who took advantage of me would be subject to whatever charges might accrue to one who did so to a child.  The attorney who proposed such a moronic notion would be laughed out of court and possibly disbarred, and indeed Dershowitz proposes that’s what should be done here:

…Dershowitz…said he was not in the places described in the filing at the relevant times, with one exception:  He did visit Epstein’s private island in the Caribbean on one occasion…with [his] family…Dershowitz said…he’s planning to file bar complaints against [Brad] Edwards and [Paul] Cassell for inadequately vetting their client’s story.  “I’m planning to file disbarment charges against the two lawyers who signed this petition without even checking the manifests of airplanes or travel itineraries, et cetera,” he said. “I’m also challenging the young woman and the lawyers to level those charges against me outside of the courtroom, so that I can sue them for defamation…Finally, I’m challenging the woman to file criminal charges against me because the filing of false criminal charges is a crime”…

There will, of course, be no criminal charges, nor were any civil ones filed prior to this by Roberts or anyone else.  She has made many claims that are demonstrably untrue, as specified in both Dershowitz’s comments above and in regard to claims that she had met the Queen.  Even under the abysmally-low evidentiary standards of American civil litigation, the accusations made here are both factually and legally absurd.  Is Roberts deluded like so many spinners of “sex trafficking” tales, or is she just capitalizing on the panic du jour for a payout?  It hardly matters; either way, this is a case of a sexual fantasy being treated as fact by people drunk on the liquor of mass hysteria.

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Well he would, wouldn’t he?  –  response when told Lord Astor had denied having her

As I’ve written many times, the maintenance of the Madonna/whore dichotomy demands the erasure of all ambiguity; women must solidly be classified as one or the other, “good” women or “bad”, “empowered” women or “fallen” ones, without a hint that a single woman could play both roles at different parts of her life (much less at the same time).  And so women who succeed in other careers after sex work, especially if they’re popular and well-liked, must never ever ever be described as sex workers; they might be dancers, or perhaps masseuses, or models, or even mistresses, but not what they actually were: prostitutes, no different from me or any inhabitant of any red-light district.  Of course, it helps when the prostitution is genteel and privately arranged and the whores have other “legitimate” jobs as showgirls or hostesses; then they can be described politely as “party girls” and their clients as “lovers”, and the transactional nature of their “affairs” can be glossed over on the BBC or in polite newspapers.

Marilyn Rice-Davies was born in Wales on October 21, 1944 and after a fairly conventional upbringing began modeling at 15.  After playing a window-dressing part in the film Make Mine Mink, she ran away to London at 16 and quickly got a job as a showgirl at Murray’s Cabaret Club in Soho; there she met and befriended Christine Keeler and the two lived together for a while.  Keeler introduced her to the well-connected osteopath Stephen Ward, who both delighted in and profited by introducing ambitious young women like Keeler and Rice-Davies to his wealthy friends.  Mandy soon became the mistress of slumlord Peter Rachman, who had previously kept Keeler, but the arrangement ended abruptly with Rachman’s death by heart attack on November 29th, 1962.  Rachman was a notorious character who had been under constant police investigation since 1959; he had been prosecuted twice for brothel-keeping and among his expensive gifts to Mandy was a new Jaguar (which was, alas, seized by his widow).  But Mandy later insisted that there was no profit motive involved in her relationship with the short, dumpy Rachman, a statement repeated without question by journalists and others ever since.

It was after Rachman’s death, however, that Rice-Davies’ ship finally came in, via the Profumo Affair and the associated persecution of Stephen Ward.  She had always hoped to achieve stardom, and since coming to London had appeared in several advertisements, but the free publicity afforded her by her appearance as a prosecution witness at Ward’s trial gave her career a mighty boost.  This is not to say that she intentionally capitalized upon Ward’s misfortune; in fact, she only agreed to testify after the cops trumped up charges involving a fake ID (and later, a supposedly stolen television set) so she could be threatened with a long stretch in Holloway if she refused to “cooperate”.  But once the trial started, she clearly both enjoyed and took advantage of the publicity.  The cameras loved her, and her comparing herself to Lady Hamilton (Lord Nelson’s mistress) made her the talk of the papers for a few weeks.  After the trial ended with Ward’s suicide at the end of July, Mandy was offered a job as a cabaret singer in Germany and quickly became involved with another wealthy patron, one Baron Cervello.

For several years she toured the world, taking whatever singing gigs she could find, then in 1966 she moved to Israel; there she met and married nightclub owner Rafael Shaul and converted to Judaism, founding a chain of restaurants and nightclubs called Mandy’s.  The couple amicably divorced in 1971 but remained business partners, and Mandy appeared in a number of Israeli films in the ‘70s, then European ones (and television show episodes) in the ‘80s.  She also published her autobiography, Mandy, in 1980 and a novel, The Scarlet Thread, in 1989.  During this time she had a number of liaisons with ever-wealthier men and an extremely short-lived marriage to the French restaurateur Jean-Charles Lefevre.  But it was her third marriage, to British businessman Ken Foreman, which accelerated what she called her “long descent into respectability”; among Foreman’s friends was Sir Denis Thatcher, and Mandy – now going by Marilyn Foreman – is known to have holidayed with Thatcher and his much more famous wife, Margaret.  She died of cancer just three weeks ago, on December 18th, and was the subject of laudatory obituaries in the Guardian  and Telegraph, among many others.

But despite her respectability and long-maintained insistence that she had never really taken money for sex, Mandy never attempted to distance herself from the Prufumo Affair and the Ward trial; in fact, in 2013 she was consulted by Andrew Lloyd Webber for his short-lived stage musical, Stephen Ward.  At the time, she revealed that she had not spoken to her old flatmate, Christine Keeler, in over three decades; while Rice-Davies had embraced the publicity and used it to advance her own interests, Keeler had been embarrassed by the whole thing and vanished from the limelight for 20 years after it was over.  Their different ways of reacting to the debacle had driven a wedge into what was never a particularly close friendship to start; “I don’t think she liked me,” Mandy said in an October 2013 interview.  And though neither of the two ever (publicly) considered themselves sex workers, their very different post-scandal lives demonstrate an important truth about two kinds of women involved in the work:  those who consider it to have been a humiliation, and those who embrace it as a means of attaining their goals.

(This month’s harlotography first appeared in Cliterati on January 4th; I have modified it slightly for time references and to fit the format of this blog.)

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[Sex workers] can’t be slandered, apparently, because our status is THAT low.  –  Mistress Matisse

Out of Control

This was obvious to anyone who’s actually known any actual men, and whose mind is not fouled entirely with “social construction” dogma:

Priests’ vows of celibacy may have led to paedophilia, the Roman Catholic Church in Australia has said…A group advising the…Church on how to deal with thousands of cases of child sex abuse said celibacy may be psychologically damaging for some priests…The…conclusions were quickly dismissed by the Vatican…

Think of the Children! 

The statute under which these people were arrested defines “near” as 100 feet:  “Eleven people…were arrested and charged with prostitution near a school…[in] Memphis…the…arrests were all within a mile and a half from [any of several schools]…Thierry Schaffauser

Lack of Evidence

On December 16th…Thierry Schaffauser, founding member of STRASS, was distributing leaflets and condoms when he was arrested [in]…Paris…He was accused of having spoken to a sex worker.  Two plainclothes police officers then committed acts of violence against him including strangulation…He was handcuffed …and taken to the police station…without being able to request…a lawyer.  The sex worker he was talking to…was also arrested…Homophobic and racist remarks were made during the arrest, incl. “it is because of people like you that mamas bring in African women for prostitution in France”…

Welcome To Our World

Not the late actor, but rather the president of a fundamentalist Christian group:

…Tony Perkins [claims]…his fight against gay rights is necessary to prevent an economic crash and [is] no different than saving someone from a burning building…the Family Research Council president…told [the Faith & Liberty podcast]…that gay rights present such a grave “threat to religious liberty” that the movement for LGBT equality will inevitably lead to “a rapid downward spiral of our nation, including our economy”…Perkins insisted that his anti-gay activism is motivated by love for the gay community.  Just as an onlooker would try to wake up a person sleeping inside of a burning building, Perkins explained, he is simply trying to tell gay people about homosexuality’s destructive nature…

Whores know all about people who “love” us and want to “help” us by denying our basic human rights, criminalizing our lives and locking us up in state brainwashing centers.

The Pro-Rape Coalition

In which David Horsey un-ironically uses the phrase “women performing like whores” in a fact-free anti-porn rant:

…Thanks to the Internet, Americans have been pushed, unwittingly, into a vast social experiment testing whether unfettered access to the most freakish and foul pornography will warp sexual relations for generations to come…Raunchy actually does not begin to describe the things that any kid can find with a few search words and a couple of clicks…It’s a quick descent into an endless display of photographs and videos…dominated by perverse male fantasies of women performing like whores for men whose sexual techniques appear to have been learned in a prison cell…This is soul-disturbing stuff most human beings have never seen or experienced before…

Because obviously whores aren’t women.  Would-be censors are fond of claiming that online porn is “dominated” by extreme stuff, and that it’s easy to find, but try it yourself sometime.

Imaginary Crises

Women who tell outlandish rape tales undermine the credibility of all women:

In a now-infamous…story in Rolling Stone, disgraced journalist Sabrina Rubin Erdely asserted that at least five members of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity gang-raped a freshman named Jackie at a frat house party…The Washington Post’s reporting now suggests that Jackie fabricated huge swathes of her gory rape tale, and that Erdely abrogated her duty to properly investigate it…the number of completely fraudulent rape allegations made by women on American college campuses is far from trivial.  With very little effort at all, The Daily Caller has found eight twisted, totally false and especially astonishing rape hoaxes proffered over the years by female college students.  In each case, the cruel hoaxes were initially accepted as true.  In some cases, real lives were ruined…

Surplus Women 

A man obsessed with the Yorkshire Ripper brutally attacked a prostitute and planned to carry out more murders than his idol…David Parsons, 21, bought a claw hammer because it was Peter Sutcliffe’s weapon of choice and used it to repeatedly bludgeon a…call girl he lured to his flat…he was spooked by her screams and fled…[then] told police:  “I have just tried to kill someone”…The victim…suffered head injuries and…psychological damage…Parsons pleaded guilty to attempted murder…[but] showed no empathy or remorse…[saying] “She is a prostitute, I am not even bothered”…

Profit from Panic 

The Global Alliance Against Trafficking in Women (GAATW) recently released its annual peer reviewed publication, the Anti-Trafficking Review…[this year’s] theme…is “Following the Money: Spending on Anti-Trafficking“…The majority of funding dedicated to anti-trafficking initiatives is spent in either prevention or prosecution…there has been little research undertaken into the…effectiveness of funded anti-trafficking initiatives…whether a person is recognised as a “victim” or “migrant” is defined by the media, who are influenced by…political expediency…

Above the Law 

A Louisiana [cop]…has been arrested…[for groping] a woman during a traffic stop…Michael Dayne Selders…touched her breasts…and private areas and tried to kiss her lips…Selders let her leave, saying “don’t tell anyone about this”…Selders [pretended that]…the woman initiated a hug, but denied wrongdoing…he’s [been rewarded with] paid [vacation]…

Meanwhile, in Tennessee:

…Nashville [cop Jonathan Mays] was arrested…for raping a prostitute…The victim had gone to police in June…[and they]…constructed a [sting] to catch Mays in the act…Once confronted, Mays tried to deny having any previous involvement with the woman, but later confessed to the [previous] incident…

The Naked Emperor

Chase Madar’s article about the horrific consequences of the US obsession with policing sex is quite good on issues like “sex offender” registration and the War on Whores…yet breathes not one word about “sex trafficking” hysteria, despite its condemnation of the Satanic panic.

Shift in the Wind

A TED talk about sex worker rights is definitely a step forward:

The Public Eye

Changing the narrative about sex work and battling the stigma  associated with the adult industry are among the primary goals behind a series of events [last weekend]…the Seattle chapter of the Sex Worker Outreach Project…[held] a three-day sex-work symposium to educate the public about consensual sex work, advocate for sex-worker rights and build community among a diverse group of practitioners.  “I hope people who have heard that all sex workers are victims and all sex work is exploitative will see…the adult industry is vast, complex, diverse and not inherently exploitative,” said Savannah Sly…

Property of the State

a…Wisconsin…woman [was] arrested for drug use…brought to court and twice refused lawyers (even though her fetus was given one), and then sent to jail for 17 days, where she was placed in solitary confinement, denied prenatal care even as she began cramping, and not given her thyroid medication for two days…Tamara Loertscher…refused to submit to in-patient treatment because…she…had stopped using drugs.  She was then jailed for contempt of court…the state of Wisconsin then informed her that it considered her a child abuser, which will prevent Loertscher from ever working again in her profession, as a certified nurse’s aide…

Bread and Circuses

They must have threatened him with decades in prison to secure this deal:

[Eric “Red” Omuro]…pleaded guilty…to facilitating prostitution by running a website that allowed sex workers to advertise services…it was the first federal conviction of a website operator for facilitation of prostitution…MyRedbook…allowed users to post and respond to ads offering services including massage, stripping, domination and sex in San Francisco and throughout the West Coast…the website generated more than $5.4 million in revenue…Omuro…agreed to forfeit $1.28 million in cash and property and the domain names…

Schadenfreude (TW3 #429) 

At long last, Seattle’s The Stranger owns up to its part in promoting Chong Kim’s lies and the movie based on them:

…Mistress Matisse, a professional dominatrix and longtime Stranger contributor…sent an e-mail to her editors here in late June referring to a potential lawsuit.  “You’re getting this e-mail from me because I want some answers,” Matisse began. “I believe that…filmmakers Colin Plank and Megan Griffiths”—the producer and the director—”have perpetrated a fraud in their movie called Eden. Allegations have been made, and it’s time for them to either double down—or fess up.  And as The Stranger played a role in promoting the film, it’s appropriate that The Stranger play a part [in] the truth being told about it”…She [discussed] with a lawyer “the possibility of a class-action lawsuit against the makers of Eden“…[but his]  opinion was that “it would be difficult to prove damages, because the prevailing sentiment of the legal system more or less goes along with us being either helpless victims, as in the movie, or just plain criminals”…

The article debunks Kim’s tragedy porn in great detail, but that wasn’t actually very hard because her own published narratives of her supposed “exploitation” in sex work have grown dramatically in the past decade; had the filmmakers bothered to do even the slightest bit of research they would’ve known she was lying from square one.  But hey, the lies are only about whores and our clients, so it’s all good.

Surplus Women (TW3 #445)

Hong Kong was shocked by another brutal murder [of a sex worker]…as the half-naked body of a 15-year-old girl was discovered bound and gagged at a local dump – just weeks after a British banker was charged with the killing of two escorts…Kwok Wai-ming…had hands and legs bound together with plastic strips and adhesive tape and might have died during a sex game…the girl was involved in compensated dating…and also posed for nude pictures for money…Police have arrested a 34-year-old former clerical worker after analysing security camera footage from buildings in the area…

The Public Eye (TW3 #450)

Nick Clegg today backed Liberal Democrat MPs who are opposing a ban on a list of erotic acts being shown in porn because they have been judged “harmful”.  Three days after a face-sitting protest outside Parliament against new curbs on what can be shown in internet video porn, the Deputy Prime Minister said…the state should not invade the privacy of people’s bedrooms…

A Year Later

The headline makes it sound like “heavily regulated” rhetoric, but what they’re actually calling for is decriminalization:

The Canadian Public Health Association is calling on the government to regulate the sex industry…under existing occupational health and safety regulations…The testimony [leading up to the new law] laid bare a bitter divide…over whether prostitutes are victims or whether they are making a free and valid career choice.  The government considers prostitution a crime against women, and [pretends it can be] stamped out entirely…

That bit about a “bitter divide” is more prohibitionist nonsense; virtually no actual sex workers support client criminalization, and the ones who claim to are a tiny minority of ex-whores paid by prohibitionists to be human sock puppets.

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This is a moral crusade, dressed up as concern for women.  –  RCMP Superintendent John Ferguson

The Scarlet Letter

In Anaheim, California, anyone convicted of buying sexual services will have their names and mug shots indefinitely posted to a city web page…The Anaheim district attorney’s office says the scarlet HTML is meant to deter sex traffickers, which makes about as much sense as posting jaywalker mugshots in order to deter car thieves…”Public shaming as a form of punishment goes back to the days of Puritan colonists,” writes Los Angeles Times‘ Emily Foxhall…even…Melissa Farley…[admits] she’s unaware of any evidence that this kind of shaming results in long-term behavior change…

Follow the Leader

In September 2012, President Obama issued an executive order asserting a zero tolerance policy for government contractors who violated human trafficking laws.  He specifically targeted recruitment fees that workers in southeast Asia frequently pay for work with military contractors in Afghanistan and Iraq…recruitment fees essentially create a system of indentured servitude.  Workers usually take out high-interest loans in their home country to pay the fee, and the payments can trap them in their new jobs.  Recruiters often mislead workers about their salary and the location of their job—promises of high-paying jobs in Jordanian hotels turn into custodial positions on U.S. military bases in warzones…The government says it has a zero tolerance policy, and yet there’s fairly credible allegations that these guys have been involved in trafficking and they continue to win government contracts,” says Steven Watt…at the ACLU…

See No Evil confused Pooh

Do Polish stuffed animal toys usually come with genitals?

Winnie the Pooh…has been banned from a Polish playground because of confusion about his sexuality and consternation at his attire.  Council members were debating which character should become the face of a new playground in the small town of Tuszyn, and…some on the board raised questions about Pooh’s “dubious sexuality” and “inappropriate” attire, and one even condemned the fictional character as a “hermaphrodite”…Ryszard Cichy…[said] “It is half naked which is wholly inappropriate for children…Pooh who is only dressed from the waist up”…[another council member fantasized that A.A. Milne]…”cut [Pooh’s] testicles off with a razor blade because he had a problem with his identity”…

Scapegoats

Maybe this guy thought it was a genital-equipped Polish stuffed horse?

[Florida] police have arrested and charged a 19-year-old man in a troubling case of alleged indecent exposure. Police accuse Sean Johnson of entering a Walmart…and committing a sex act on a stuffed horse…[then] putting [it] back on the shelf…

Above the Law 

A woman says she was raped in jail by a Ferguson [jail guard] while she was pregnant last year, according to a federal lawsuit…against the city and…Jaris Hayden…[who] now faces four felony charges…[the victim had been arrested because her] license plates were expired…and…During [her] booking, Hayden said to her, “You smell good,” and, “This will teach you a lesson”…

Useful Idiots 

Sen. Dianne Feinstein…is once again attempting to swell federal power and erode civil liberties by preying on fears about sexual exploitation….[with] the Combat Human Trafficking Act, a bill that would expand federal and state wiretapping authority, mandate that the Department of Justice…spend more time investigating and prosecuting [sex workers’ clients]…and increase criminal penalties for buyers by legally defining them as human traffickers…this is going to lead to increased harassment of…sex workers and enhanced monitoring of any space where they congregate…the bill also provides a potential direct mandate for DOJ to target sex workers and their clients…Dianne FeinsteinFeinstein’s press [pretends that] “83 percent of sex trafficking victims are American citizens, and the average victim is first trafficked between ages 12 and 14″…Yes, they’re actually claiming that American citizens make up all but 13 percent of global sex trafficking victims. It’s a bold move even within the typically-dubious realm of sex-trafficking statistics (the idea that the average victim is first-trafficked at 12-years-old is also suspect)…

I’m Sure You Feel Safer Now

This stinks on ice:

Little Rock Police have arrested a…[fireman] at a massage parlor after an undercover sting. Edwin Harris…worked at a business called Asian Massage…a female undercover detective paid for a massage in which she says Harris engaged in sexual contact…Harris was the only person charged at the business…

Social Construction of Eunuchs (TW3 #48)

Dataspelsbranchen, a Swedish games industry organization, has been given a 272,000 kronor (roughly $36,672) grant by the state…to study and create a system that would provide ratings for games released in Sweden indicating the level of sexism and/or whether or not the game promotes gender equality…their study…will also include analysis of developers already working to promote diversity and gender-equality in order to help others learn from their experience.

On the Simultaneous Having and Eating of Cake (TW3 #338)

Dancers at a strip club are due more than $10 million in back wages and tips, a federal judge ruled…And additional claims are headed for trial in the class action case, meaning there ultimately could be further awards to roughly 1,900 women who worked at Rick’s Cabaret in Manhattan between 2005 and 2012…Houston-based RCI Hospitality Holdings Inc., said it planned to appeal…

Held Together With Lies (Hysteria on Parade)

How much higher can this nonsense go?bogus trafficking map

Nearly 36 million people worldwide, or 0.5% of the world’s population, live as slaves, a survey by…Walk Free says…India has the most slaves overall and Mauritania has the highest percentage. The total is 20% higher than for 2013 because of [broader] methodology. The report…uses slavery in [the inflammatory] modern [misuse] of the term, rather than [correctly]…

The Widening Gyre (TW3 #346)

A 14-year-old [South African] girl could be charged with perjury after lying about being held against her will and sold as a sex slave by her aunt…following her mother’s death…The teen alleged that her aunt later locked her in a room with six old men and one of them raped her…it was later established that the teenager had fabricated the story…

Welcome To Our World (TW3 #405)

Would anyone but a modern American “journalist” portray intercourse as a new and novel way to get pregnant?

Once upon a time, when single women and infertile couples wanted a baby, they would pay a sperm bank…thousands of dollars…But now…donors make their sperm available by offering to have sex for free. It’s a surprising — and some say unconventional — method of making a baby called “natural insemination”…

Finding What Isn’t There (TW3 #413) John Ferguson

few can agree on how widespread [sex trafficking] is, or how best to address it.  This troubles former RCMP superintendent John Ferguson:  “Are there victims?  Yes.  Is this a systemic problem?  The evidence tells us no.”  (Between 2005 and 2009, the RCMP reviewed 242 potential international human-trafficking cases, but made no convictions.)  He points to the absence of information:  Canada has no standardized system for the collection of such data.  Ferguson also points to a 2003 RCMP report that claimed each year 600 women and girls are trafficked into the country for forced sex work; the report has since been discarded by the RCMP itself…

The Mote and the Beam (TW3 #419)

The use of Backpage.com as a tool to catch criminals represents an interesting paradox.  While its critics deplore the ease and visibility the site offers to [sex workers]…those exact qualities make the site invaluable for people looking to [persecute them]…A small but growing number of law enforcement…begrudgingly defend Backpage…Three states have tried to take down [the site with unconstitutional] laws that…Backpage.com successfully [challenged]…and…the SAVE Act is almost certainly not legally viable for the same reasons…

Not What They Expected

Prince George’s County bucks the trend by claiming its “sex trafficking” rate has gone down…which is, of course, as much of a lie as the “King of the Hill” idiocy:

For the second consecutive year, Prince George’s County should see a reduction in human trafficking and prostitution, according to…police…Sgt. David Coleman…attributes the downward trend to the work of his unit and cross-agency initiatives like the county’s Human Trafficking Task force…“When we create a hostile business environment, it moves elsewhere.”

Divided We Fall (TW3 #427)

Bill C-36…has everything to do with moralism and pearl-clutching white saviours in Ottawa forcing a socially conservative agenda through…This is the same government trying to kill C-279, a bill that would ensure trans people are protected under…hate crimes provisions…Sex workers have started a letter-writing campaign to ask [Ontario Premier Kathleen] Wynne to refer the law to the Ontario Court of Appeal for a constitutional reference…[and] to instruct provincial Crown Attorneys not to enforce the new law until the Ontario court has ruled on its constitutionality.  Terri-Jean Bedford was the first to ask Wynne to intervene last month.  Next, sex worker rights advocate Nikki Thomas posted her own open letter.  And another.  And another.  Legal experts across Canada call the law blatantly unconstitutional…[Manitoba] actually plans to send sex workers to “camps” for “educational workshops”  hosted by the evangelical Salvation Army…Handing over our most vulnerable citizens to questionable religious groups has not ended well historically…Gay men and women should be the most vocal allies of sex workers. There was a time when the same arguments were made to keep being gay a criminal offence…

The Mote and the Beam (TW3 #428)

A coalition of civil liberties, publishing, and online commerce groups are asking Congress to oppose a piece of anti-speech, anti-sex work legislation known as as the “Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation” (SAVE) Act…[which] would create harsh new criminal liabilities for websites and publishers, allow federal agents to censor online ads, make it harder for adult sex workers of all sorts to safely connect with clients…and…expose anyone advertising online to new privacy infringements…The SAVE Act would…create extensive record-keeping requirements for any…service…that hosts adult advertisements…require anyone posting an adult ad to submit photo identification…enable the Department of Justice…to ban certain “euphemisms” or “code words” from online advertising entirely, and…make websites that host user-generated ads criminally liable…even if they do not have actual knowledge that an ad for illegal activity appears on their sites…

Check Your Premises (TW3 #432)

It’s astonishing that supposedly rational adults in the Canadian government need this explained to them:

One of the lead detectives in the teen pimping investigation wants men who [hire] women for sex to ensure their clients [sic] are over 18 and are willing participants, but an advocate for sex workers warns doing so might put johns in an legal quandary…Carolyn Botting [imagines that sex workers will show clients their drivers’ licenses, but]…Chris Bruckert, a criminology professor at the University of Ottawa, said…the federal government’s new prostitution laws…will put johns in an awkward situation…“If in fact they do call police because they suspect someone is underage or in a situation of exploitation, they’re actually setting themselves up to be criminally charged”…

Soap Opera (TW3 #441) not a brand

In which a common type of tattoo is recast as a “brand”.

…Reliable statistics are [nonexistent], but [trafficking fanatics pretend that] hundreds of thousands of women and girls…are sold for sexual exploitation in America’s $9.5bn human-trafficking industry. According to the US Department of Justice, 300,000 of those at risk are children. Branding, whether by tattoo or intentional scarring, has become a disturbing characteristic of…Pimp-led prostitution…Polaris Project [pretends to have]…come across hundreds of women and children who have had their arms, backs, legs, faces, breasts and even eyelids and gums marked with pimp’s names and gang tags or with barcodes, sexual slang words or dollar signs…it is now systemic in America…

Whither Canada? (TW3 #446)

My beloved partner “Isabelle”…is a sex worker in Toronto…[who] lives in my home about half of the time…We occasionally buy things together.  We sometimes pool money for grocery trips.  Occasionally, one of us picks up something for the other at the corner store…A couple months ago, I had some unanticipated emergency expenses resulting in negative cash flow.  Isabelle jumped right in to save me, contributing her money to my monthly housing expense…In short, we’re partners…It’s…against the law as of Dec. 6.  Section 286.2 subsection 1 of the code specifically criminalizes “everyone who receives a financial or other material benefit, knowing that it is obtained by or derived directly or indirectly from (sex work).”  It’s an indictable offence, subject to a prison term of up to 10 years…

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I see you so often rail about the imaginary “trafficking” issue.  I realize that very few adult sex workers are coerced, and that anti-prostitution laws have nothing to do with protection, but is there any actual evidence that there are real girls under 16 (particularly from Asia) who are really being forced to work as prostitutes? 

distorting mirrorIn a world of over six billion people, it is a near-certainty that any situation anyone can conceive of (which doesn’t violate the laws of physics) has already happened at some point and continues to happen from time to time.  So yes, I am sure that there are some Asian girls under 16 who are actually compelled (by some means almost anyone would agree were coercive) to work as prostitutes.  I have no way of guessing what that number might be, and neither does anyone else despite pretensions to the contrary:  all the cases which make the news involve women older than that; and/or the compulsion is of a type that would not be viewed as a problem if she were a maid or nanny; and/or she chose the situation as the best of a number of alternatives, many or all of them bad; and/or there is some cultural difference which causes her to see her situation differently from her “rescuers”; and/or the “trafficker” is actually an intimate partner rather than a cartoon pimp or racist caricature of a crime cartel.  Moreover, though prohibitionists paint sex workers’ clients as sadistic perverts who ignore bruises and evidence of bondage and prefer prepubescent girls to adult women, nothing could be further from the truth; sex workers who seem to dislike their work tend to get bad reviews because most men don’t actually like having sex with unwilling partners, and the idea that a business model based on the overt enslavement of traumatized tweens could ever be a thriving concern is highly dubious to say the least.  In fact, the popularity of this narrative reveals the sick, twisted psychology and sexuality of those who promote it; their view of sex work is like something seen in a warped mirror, not only reversed but magnified and distorted into unrecognizability.  The three most important forms of distortion are:

  • a rare, extreme situation is presented as though it were not only the norm, but a norm from which there is little if any variance (thus making it unique in human experience);
  • complex, nuanced human interactions are reduced to absurd black hat-white hat melodrama complete with mustache-twirling “pimp” villains, passive damsels in distress, and heroes with pure motives who ride in on white chargers to save the day; and
  • the carceral “solutions” which the fetishists inevitably favor not only fail to help women in the complex real-life situations whose existence they deny, but also to help even the women in situations which actually resemble their fantasy somewhat.  In fact, these supposed “solutions” make things worse in almost every conceivable case, as I explained at length in “Straining at Gnats” and “Enabling Oppression”.  Criminalizing sex work does not discourage a black market in which coercion can thrive; on the contrary, it creates such a market.

The one-sentence answer to your question, then, is this:  A small number of such girls probably does exist, but their situations are a lot more complex than the “sex trafficking” profiteers want you to believe, and the laws they favor actually hurt such girls by enabling those who exploit them.

(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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