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There’s no such thing as a war on sex work without a war on sex workers.  –  Frédérique Chabot

The Going Rate

This article’s dick-strokingly lurid descriptions of stings make it really unpleasant to read, but it did call my attention to this chart from The Economist that I somehow missed last year:hourly rate

Thinking With the Wrong Head

While staking out a hotel room suspected of hosting prostitution activity, local police observed Mason [Ohio] Councilman Rich Cox entering and, about 15 minutes later, leaving.  Surprise, surprise, Mason Police Chief Ron Ferrell said he does not expect charges to be filed against Councilman Cox…somehow I suspect that not everyone in Cox’s circumstances would get such fair treatment from the city police…the councilman offered up an astoundingly far-fetched explanation for what he was doing at the hotel…[he said that] “he visited the [hotel]…to pass a note to a Chinese woman whose father he met at a nearby Verizon Wireless store…[because] the man’s car was broken down“…

Down Under

In the US, this would be called a “trafficking circuit”, Queenstown would be called a “hub” and the reporter would interview cops talking about how “pimps” make all the arrangements because women are too stupid to do that for ourselves.  But in New Zealand:

Queenstown is the adventure sport capital of New Zealand.  But as the tourist numbers swell during the ski season, so do the stag parties, boy’s weekends, corporate retreats, and international business meetings.  As a result, the city has developed a largely hidden yet hugely profitable sex industry…Jasmine tours New Zealand’s South Island throughout the year, but spends most of her time in the mountain town…she is one of the longest-staying sex workers in Queenstown. “Most of the girls book a room for about five days,” explained Alice, a receptionist at a bustling motel in town.  “Jasmine stays for longer because she’s so busy”…July to October and December to March [are] the busiest periods.  The seasons on either side are so dead that girls working in strip clubs can make as little as $50 a night, and escorts…often make nothing at all.  During this time, Jasmine drives to towns like Nelson, where she…has regular customers who guarantee her income…The women say the quiet months are worth it though, as they more than make up for it during the busy ski season…

Rooted in Racism

As I’ve pointed out many times, “sex trafficking” is often a cover for xenophobia:

Bad enough that they’re isolated by race, culture and language and, worse, stigmatized by a false human trafficking narrative, but they’re also endangered unjustly by the Harper government’s anti-prostitution laws.  Now those working legally in Canada say they’re being further victimized, dealing with constant police harassment, illegal detention and invasion of privacy…Elene Lam…is the face of Butterfly, the Asian and Migrant Sex Workers Network, established last fall to advocate for the rights of Asian women in the trade.  The group’s mission includes countering the myths that…have been perpetuated by the…”rescue industry”…even before the new law was introduced, police had been intimidating legal sex workers…in…operation…Northern Spotlight, plainclothes officers…posed as clients and…bullied [sex workers] as they pretended to rescue them.  For Asian sex workers, who may not speak English and have no reason to trust police, these recent warrant-less incursions into their homes and workplaces are especially frightening…

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic

How many times will we have to say this?

A new study out of the University of California Los Angeles suggests porn addiction does not exist.  Researchers found that people who said they had trouble controlling their consumption of pornography did not show a typical addiction response to sexual images.  With addiction, increased brain activity is expected in response to relevant stimuli—heroin in the case of a drug addict, for example.  But the porn study’s participants showed decreased brain activity in response to pornography…This builds on a previous study conducted by the same researchers in which they found no connection between the extent of participants’ pornography problems and their brain responses to sexual images…

Above the Law 

A South Florida cop is accused of pulling a lesbian couple over [without even a pretext], taking one of them into custody and ordering her to undress as he rubbed his penis…”[He asked me] how do I have intercourse, and I told him, ‘Why do I need to answer that? Why is that necessary?’ He insisted me to answer it”…the [17-year-old] victim said.  “After, he asked if I was a virgin…[and] if if I had any diseases”…The woman explained that she…followed the officer’s orders out of fear…[and] believed that she was going to be raped…[when she protested he] said “Oh, I thought you wanted to fuck”…The cop…has been identified as…Jesus Menocal, Jr., the son of a recently retired police chief…who was caught on video during the 1980s plotting a cocaine rip-off…Menocal’s grandmother…said there was no way he would order a female to strip because he was once named “officer of the year”…

Imagination Pinned Down

Here’s another excellent example of stereotypic conformation:

They pimped me for a while, six months or so…Later on, I was trafficked by other men…Pimps are very good at torture, they’re very good at manipulation…When people describe prostitution as being something that is glamorous, elegant, like in the story of Pretty Woman, well that doesn’t come close to it.  A prostitute might sleep with five strangers a day…These are not relationships, no-one’s bringing me any flowers here, trust me on that.  They’re using my body like a toilet.  And the johns – the clients – are violent. I’ve been shot five times, stabbed 13 times.  I don’t know why those men attacked me, all I know is that society made it comfortable for them to do so…on 1 April 1997, when I was nearly 40 years old, a customer threw me out of his car.  My dress got caught in the door and he dragged me six blocks along the ground, tearing all the skin off my face and the side of my body.  I went to the County Hospital in Chicago…emergency room…they gave me a bus pass to go to a place called Genesis House, which was run by an awesome Englishwoman named Edwina Gateley, who became a great hero and mentor for me.  She helped me turn my life around…I stayed almost two years…

I believe that Powell was a streetwalker, and even that she had a few bad pimps; what reveals her story as propaganda is its absolutism.  All the pimps were evil and controlling, though in real life more than half aren’t; all the clients are abusive and “used her body like a toilet” (a classic prohibitionist slur); all sex work is equated with street work, though every street worker I’ve ever spoken to knows that isn’t so.  And of course there’s the classic car-dragging tale; let Powell produce her medical records (it should be easy enough, given that she knows the exact date and hospital) and I’ll believe her.  Otherwise, I call bullshit; it’s pretty obvious that part of her two-year stay at Genesis House was the usual prohibitionist brainwashing sessions, including lessons in “reframing experiences”.

On the Simultaneous Having and Eating of Cake 

I don’t expect to see any of these strip club “contractor” lawsuits go any other way now; what makes this one noteworthy is that it includes SWOP:

…while working at Scarlett’s Cabaret in Pembroke Park [Florida, Adonay Encarnacion]…got fed up.  Her frustration fueled a fight that could now result in a $6 million settlement, after a collective action involving 4,709 dancers who worked at three Scarlett’s cabarets.  “They treated us like employees when it was convenient to them and like independent contractors when it was convenient to them…If they were going to treat us like employees, then they needed to be paying us minimum wage and overtime”…Katherine Koster works for the Sex Workers Outreach Project, an organization that advocates for the human rights of sex workers and aims to raise awareness on the negative impact of their criminal status in the U.S…”Disorganized labor markets are fertile ground for the sort of labor practices that victimize  low-income and marginalized female workers,” Koster said.  “Most of them…just don’t really know that they have rights”…

Monsters 

Though the feminist jargon is a bit too thick, the central tenets are valid:

…I believe that the eroticization of trans bodies and the resulting homophobia from the rejection of that body are the primary drivers of many instances of…anti-transgender violence…Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s claim in…Rolling Stone that…“no community living in America today is as openly terrorized as transgender women” is correct…questioning of a trans woman’s gender identity leads the questioner to their subjective identification of a trans woman as a man.  If the questioner is a heterosexual cisgender man, the reaction that follows the initial eroticization is one of visceral disgust as he sexually rejects the “man” he sees in the trans woman’s place.  The transphobia and anti-transgender violence that follows are inherently political acts, meant to discipline the trans woman for attracting the male gaze in the first place…eros to thanatos, lust into vengeful rage…

Subtle Pimping (#330)

A different kind of “video game” designed to profit from sex workers (and in this case, our clients) without giving us anything in return.  This one’s especially revolting for its badge-licking subtext, but there are many in the genre.

Paint By Numbers

“Fighting sex trafficking” by standing on lawns is so passé:

Two men [are] on a cross-country bike ride…to bring awareness about a serious issue…Mike Rutter and George Cook…started…in Santa Monica California on May 24…When it gets tough, Cook says they think about why they are riding.  “The more uncomfortable the day, the more we realize about the discomfort of the girls being human trafficked and sexually exploited,” said Cook…It’s part of Bright Hope’s “Break the Chains Cycling Tour”…Rutter [said] “It’s like a mission.  I feel like a Navy Seal…The girls we are trying to do this for, they don’t have a choice what’s happening to them that day so we’re going to plow ahead”…

Sex Rays

Imagine any other profession in place of “stripper” and you may get an inkling of how stupid this kind of story looks to sex workers:

…a woman…[climbed] the flagpole at the South Carolina Statehouse…removed the Confederate flag, and then returned to the ground where she was [arrested]…Many believe that Bree Newsome was courageous for her act…however someone who claims to know her stated that she did it all for fame and to show off her ex-stripper skills…

Surplus Women (#550) 

What kind of warped mind sees arresting potential victims as a solution to dealing with a serial killer?  “Police in [Chillicothe] Ohio…have announced a crackdown on drugs and prostitution…[as] part of a larger investigation centered on several drug-addicted women who went missing…

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PFFFT-FRACK!  POP—SPROING-GING  –  Don Martin

Today’s the 46th anniversary of the Stonewall Riot, the beginning of the gay rights movement; I’ll say more about that in my column for Tuesday (and I think you’ll like the picture).  But today’s video is from Jesse Walker, and the links above it are from Saladin Ahmed, SkyeFranklin HarrisMistress Matisse and Walter Olson, in that order.

From the Archives

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Eventually, the item believed to be Napoleon’s penis was bought in an auction…  –  Ishaan Tharoor

As so often happens these days, I got occupied last night and was unable to finish setting everything up by deadline.  Sorry about that!  The video below is from Mike Siegel, who also contributed “accidentally”; Radley Balko gave us “headline”, Skye  “transit”, Lenore Skenazy “camping” and Popehat “call out”.

From the Archives

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Don’t make me fucking run around here with thirty pounds of god-damn gear in the sun.  –  David Casebolt

In memory of Christopher Lee, I present this retrospective of some of his most memorable roles.  The links above the video are from Emma Evans (“ghosts”) and Jesse Walker (“redundant” and “Doc”); the remaining three are from Popehat.

From the Archives

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This is an abomination.  –  Leo Lech

This week’s video is from my ex-husband, Matt; I did say you’d still be hearing his name!  The links above the video are from Susie Bright (“birds”), Radley Balko (the next 3 below Susie’s), Jolene Parton (“car”), and Emma Evans (“shoplifter”).

Via Matt

From the Archives

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Some habitual farters argue that they need to fart for medical reasons but that doesn’t mean my kids should have to smell their farts.  –  Peter Walters

An excellent crop this week!  The video, a musical version of my adage “Never call the cops for any reason whatsoever”, was brought to my attention by Formerly Dave, and the links above it were provided by Radley Balko (“safety” and “elderly”), Grace (“shitty” and “Walters”), Carol Fenton (“Gideon”), Jesse Walker  (“travel”, “equivalent” and “population”), Franklin Harris (“another”), Michael Whiteacre (“PETA”), Dan Savage (“stroke”), and  Domina Elle (“flashbang”).

From the Archives

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The [Satanic] panic…was instigated and perpetuated mostly by groups of fundamentalist Christians who saw Satan in every heavy metal album, “Smurfs” episode, and Dungeons & Dragons game.  –  Radley Balko

The Biggest Whores

An Australian lawyer chides prohibitionist peers:

…If lawyers picked and chose…their clients…based on morality, then those individuals who fall on the wayside of public opinion would be completely without assistance…I was essentially being called morally bankrupt by two men who have acted for some of the most notorious criminals this state has come across.  They have also acted on behalf of alleged criminals who have been found not guilty.  If these men had subjected their clients to the same moral rigour as they have with sex workers, those clients may not have had the benefit of their legal services to begin with, and may have subsequently found erroneously guilty…when lawyers cast…moral aspersions on parts of society, something we are specifically trained not to do in ethics class, that does not leave much hope for the minority that are subject to those aspersions…

Do As I Say, Not As I Do 

The inevitable result of criminalization:

…Tucson [cop]…Shane Barrett said the department first received complaints about [an alleged brothel]…on Nov. 29, 2011.  The Pima County Attorney’s Office used Barrett’s affidavit as the basis for trying to seize $15,000 and a long list of property from the accused operators…Clarissa Lopez and Ulises Ruiz…[cops] finally obtained and served search warrants on Ruiz and Lopez’s home and their places of business…three years and two months after the initial reports…TPD is conducting an internal affairs investigation alongside the criminal investigation…It’s unclear whether the implicated officers are thought to be customers of the brothel or involved in some other way…

Held Together With Lies

Prohibitionists make up a bunch of big numbers, then multiply them to get an even bigger fake number.  SCIENCE!

…Prostitution in France brings in an annual turnover of €3.2 billion, a new study funded by the European Commission has found…France’s nearly 40,000 prostitutes…bring in an average gross total of €87,700 a year – much of which is sent abroad.  The authors of the report, who are campaigning for the abolition of prostitution, say that there is a serious tax evasion on these earning that totals €853 million a year.  They added that the total “cost” on society was €1.6 billion…The profession also proves costly for indirect social consequences, the study noted, such as imprisonment for pimping, health expenses, and addictions.  Maîtresse Gilda, spokeswoman from the French sex-workers union Strass said the figures in the study were “delusional”…

The idea that sex workers are to blame for the costs of criminalizing us is the exact moral equivalent of a bully who hits another child with his own hand while mocking, “Stop hitting yourself!”

First They Came for the Hookers…

“Sex trafficking” fetishists target strip clubs because they’re much more easily located than online escorts:

…OneHeart Ministry in Dayton…is…helping women who work at strip clubs who are at risk of being trafficked or are being trafficked…children ages 10 to 12 are being targeted for prostitution…“If you see something, say something,” she said…

Yes, these fanatics are un-ironically using one of the police state’s more notorious slogans.no trafficking shelter here

Gingerbread House

It’s satisfying when the mask of concern for “trafficking victims” slips:

Controversy continues to grow over the proposed safe house for male victims of sex trafficking in [North Carolina]…The group against the safe house said their major complaints were that no one told them it was going right behind their houses, and the fact the boys living there could run away and cause damage to their property. However, they remain adamant that they have nothing against the boys or mission…

NIMBY at its finest and most literal.

Checklist

It’s hard to imagine an article with a lower opinion of female intelligence and agency than this one:

…a…Florida…bill…requires public-awareness signs be placed at rest areas, turnpike service plazas, some emergency rooms, weigh stations, strip clubs and bodyworks businesses not operated by health-care professionals.  The signs will outline how to identify a human trafficking victim along with the phone number of the awareness center.  Signs could also be placed in restroom stalls, allowing victims to self-identify during a rare moment of privacy…a…second bill attacks the root cause of much human trafficking…without the demand by so-called johns, the pimps would be out of business.  To that end, the bill targets first-time offenders with a $5,000 fine, 100 hours of community service and completion of [“john school”]…That should serve as a stronger deterrent than current penalties…

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (#312)

Prostitution activities maybe [sic] permitted in several areas [in Jakarta, Indonesia] in an effort to control illegal prostitutions [sic] in rented rooms and apartments…In addition, allowing prostitutions in specific places was said to enable a check on activities to offer sex by underaged girls…Indonesia Ulama Council’s general head’s representative Ma’ruf Amin…[said] the proposal…deviated from Islamic teaching…

Theatrics 

But hey, they weren’t selling sex, so there’s no need for a crusade or anything:

An Ontario Human Rights Tribunal ruling has highlighted the vulnerability of temporary foreign workers in a case where two women worked in what the tribunal called a “sexually poisoned work environment.”  The women had their work permits revoked and were sent back to Mexico after resisting the sexual overtures of their employer at Presteve Foods…One woman was forced to perform sex acts under threat of being sent home and both were sexually harassed in other ways…

Dysphemisms Galore 

It’s kind of nice to see sex workers described as depraved temptresses rather than helpless victims:

…more terms [have emerged for an] escort [such as]…PSP — or personal service provider…prostitution is utilizing the power of the Internet to lure those who patronize it…The underground flesh trade has become more wired and clandestine…Ashley…moonlights as a PSP to support her obsession with material possessions…mostly…gadgets and signature dresses…she does this to…mask what was really behind her personality…the person she is…too ashamed for others to see…according to psychologist Dr. Estrella Tiongson-Magno, women dabble into prostitution because it is easy money…some men buy sex as a way to escape problems or uncomfortable emotions…however…since the pleasure is not lasting, men have to do it over and over again…Ronald Aguto…of the Cybercrime Division of NBI, said that self-advertised prostitution is rampant online…

Tyranny By Consensus (#346)

I’ll bet you thought opponents of condoms in porn were exaggerating:

California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health has issued a set of safety standards for all California porn production sets.  The 21-page standards presentation…goes into graphic detail about the safety precautions that are to be undertaken when adult video actors perform various acts.  Here’s one eye-opening detail from the document:  “the employer shall provide, at no cost to the employee, appropriate personal protective equipment such as, but not limited to, condoms, gloves for cleaning, and, if contact of the eyes with OPIM-STI is reasonably anticipated, eye protection.  Personal protective equipment will be considered “appropriate” only if it prevents blood or OPIM—STI* from passing through to or reaching the employee’s eyes, mouth, or other mucous membranes“…“OPIM—STI” means pre-ejaculate, ejaculate, semen, vaginal secretions…or…any other bodily fluid…in situations where it is difficult or impossible to differentiate between bodily fluids…

Yes, that means goggles.

Absolute Corruption (#449)

Radley Balko uses the case of Fran & Dan Keller to discuss the Satanic Panic in general:

…”[Texas’] highest criminal court…threw out the 1992 sexual assault convictions against Dan and Fran Keller but declined to find the former Austin day care owners innocent of crimes linked to a now-discredited belief that secret satanic [sic] cults were abusing day care children nationwide.  The Kellers spent more than 22 years in prison…The nine judges did not provide an explanation for why they rejected the Kellers’ innocence claim”…dozens of innocent people were sent to prison for crimes for which there was no evidence other than the coerced testimony of kids, and for which those same defendants would later be exonerated.  Here’s an excerpt from the concurring opinion of Judge Cheryl Johnson, who would have declared the couple innocent:  “This was a witch hunt from the beginning.  The allegations…were based on the testimony of a three-year-old child who…was in therapy for numerous psychological and behavioral issues“…That the highest court in Texas still can’t bring itself to declare the couple innocent, in spite of all that we know now, shows just how difficult it can be to undo the damage caused by a moral panic and junk science in the courtroom…One of the best treatments of the panic is the movie Witch Hunt, which focuses on Kern County, arguable the epicenter of the panic…

Bottleneck (#508)

Prohibitionists never understand how ridiculous they sound to normal people:

Edmonton should stop licensing body rub centres and crack down on their customers instead…four speakers argued…Kylee Nixon from the Friends and Families of McCauley Society called on the city to reduce demand for these services by focusing on johns.  This should include forcing customers to provide their names at the centres and arresting them when they break prostitution laws, she said…

Traffic Circle (#532)

The Washington Post continues to hammer at “sex trafficking” myths:

…many…lawmakers [have] repeatedly cited the statistic that “300,000” children were “at risk” of being sexually exploited.  Often, the source of the statistic was claimed to be the Justice Department…But it turns out that this is another one of those nonsense statistics, based on data so old that the original researcher even says it is no longer relevant.  It also does not have the imprimatur of the Justice Department. In recent months, The Fact Checker has exposed a series of dubious factoids, each of which are endlessly repeated by politicians and, even more irresponsibly, by the media…In 2008, Michelle Stranksy and David Finkelhor of the respected Crimes against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire wrote a report explaining the problems with the Estes/Weiner estimate, as well as other claims about the extent of the juvenile prostitution.  “PLEASE DO NOT CITE THESE NUMBERS,” the report pleaded…how did such an out-of-date guesstimate get touted as a current “Justice Department” figure?…in 2010, the Office of Justice Programs published an article in its Juvenile Justice Bulletin that cited the Estes/Weiner estimate…But the bulletin makes clear that this is only an opinion article and it does not express the official position of the Justice Department.  A Justice Department spokeswoman confirmed that…“No reliable national estimate exists of the incidence or prevalence of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States”…[politicians] should be ashamed of citing a figure that is so out of date and discredited…All lawmakers should stop using it and post prominent corrections of their statements on their Web sites…

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