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Posts Tagged ‘violence vs. sex workers’

Unlike Takao who is very much missed, Komurasaki is missed by no one.  –  a Yoshiwara courtesan, quoted in 1683

By now the regular reader should have noticed three recurring themes in my harlotographies: one of them pertains only to whores of pre-modern times; the second up to at least a century ago (though it is more pronounced in ancient stories); and the third up until the present day.  Taking these in reverse order, they are as follows: the inability of amateurs to simply report biographical facts without embellishing, dramatizing and romanticizing them; the difficulty of ascertaining even numeric biographical details with any certainty; and the confusion of more than one harlot with the same name.  All three principles are highly noticeable in the tale of Takao, a Japanese oiran (courtesan) who lived from 1640 to 1659; the lady in question was one of at least six courtesans (some sources say as high as eleven) with that name, and so is generally designated with the unimaginative moniker “Takao II”.  Very little is known about her with any certainty other than the day of her death, December 5th, 1659; however, that didn’t stop talespinners from turning her story into one of the most popular of kabuki plays.

I’ve written at length about the world of the oiran, but this passage bears repeating:

Until 1617 prostitution was completely legal in Japan, but in that year the Tokugawa Shogunate issued an order restricting prostitution to certain areas on the outskirts of cities.  Yujo (“women of pleasure”) were licensed and ranked according to an elaborate hierarchy, with oiran (courtesans) at the top and brothel girls (who were essentially slaves) at the bottom.  These “red-light districts” were not implemented for the moralistic reasons which spurred their creation in the West, but rather to enforce taxation and keep out undesirables such as ronin (masterless samurai); prostitutes were also not allowed to leave the district except under certain rigidly-controlled circumstances.  Soon the districts grew into self-contained towns which offered every kind of entertainment a man might want, all entirely run by women.  Once a girl became a prostitute her birth-rank ceased to matter, and her status was determined by such factors as beauty, personality, intelligence, education and artistic skills.  Even among the oiran there were ranks, of which the highest were the tayu, courtesans fit to entertain nobles…

Takao was a tayu under contract to the Great Miura, the largest brothel of the Yoshiwara district.  Though we know absolutely nothing about her personality or skills, they must have been as striking as her beauty for her to achieve the position of “top girl” at the Miura house soon after her debut, and to become the most sought-after courtesan in Yoshiwara within a short time thereafter.  Every contemporary source (of which there are three) say she died of tuberculosis; Takabyōbu kuda monogatari (Tales of Grumbling Otokodate) also states that several of Takao’s clients paid for her funeral even though they had failed to visit her on her deathbed.  But despite “consumption” being the traditional cause of courtesan demise in Western romance, Takao’s tragic death at the peak of her success wasn’t nearly dramatic enough for kabuki; for that love, treachery and violent death needed to be added. 

Enter Date Tsunamune, who had become Lord of Mutsu at the age of eighteen after the death of his father.  Some of his kin, however, plotted against him and managed to trick him into visiting Yoshiwara as a means of getting him out of the way.  While there he hired Takao and immediately fell in love with her, proposing to buy out her contract and marry her.  This much is largely historical; Tsunamune was a real person whose did indeed face opposition from his family (and was deposed in 1660).  He may indeed have visited Yoshiwara, though a letter claimed to be from Takao to him has been proven a nineteenth-century forgery.  But the rest of the story as told for generations is the stuff of fiction.  Naturally, Takao is supposed to have rejected his offer; some sources feel mere dislike for the man or a desire for independence after the termination of her contract are insufficient motivations for the rejection, and invent a lover who had pledged to marry her when her term of indenture was up.  I’m sure y’all can guess where the story goes next:  Tsunamune refused to take “no” for an answer and made the brothel owner an offer she couldn’t refuse, Takao’s weight in gold for the contract.  The owner accepted, but took advantage of Tsunamune’s lust by putting iron weights into the sleeves of Takao’s robe, boosting her weight to 75 kilograms.  Some storytellers say that on the boat trip from the brothel, Takao hurled herself into the river to drown, counting on the weights to take her to the bottom; others say Tsunamune caught her in the attempt and killed her with his sword instead, then dumped her body.  Still another version says that Tsunamune had one of her fingers broken for every day she refused his bed, and after he had gone through both hands he had her hanged.  But all of these say that her death (whether by murder or suicide) was the excuse used by Tsunamune’s uncle to remove him from power.

Co-opting the lives of sex workers to tell lurid stories of woe and tragedy is nothing new; it’s been done for centuries, perhaps millennia, and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.  But at least in the Japanese variety, the tragedy derives from the freely-chosen actions of a proud, accomplished woman in defiance of fate, rather than from the pathetic subjugation of a cookie-cutter victim stereotype.  And I don’t think there’s any need to explain which I prefer.

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Sex workers in…[current] media accounts are not people, but fever dreams, to be pitied, laughed at, hyperbolically loathed, and surreptitiously lusted after.  –  Noah Berlatsky

Good Advice Jon Cryer

Jon Cryer, Charlie Sheen’s co-star on Two and a Half Men, says in his new memoir So That Happened:

I was in a bad state right after my divorce, and I certainly didn’t feel dateable…I decided I might as well pay someone for company and certain intimate pleasures so that I could at least get my equilibrium back with the opposite sex.  Charlie suggested a few online purveyors he used…

Surplus Women 

Would this excuse have worked for a victim with any other job?

A jury found Bradley Barton not guilty…in the death of sex worker Cindy Gladue…Barton, a long-distance trucker from Ontario, rented [a] room at the Yellowhead Inn…in Edmonton…On the second night, [he] called 911 and reported the discovery of the body of an unknown woman in his bathtub…But closed circuit video…shows Barton and Gladue…walking together holding hands the first night and meeting up again the next evening…Barton [claimed he] didn’t mean to [stab] Gladue, and that the wound was caused accidentally by rough sex…

The Prudish Giant

Since 2006, the venerable libertarian anti-interventionist website AntiWar.com has hosted uncensored photos of abuses committed by United States troops at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq…On Wednesday morning, AntiWar.com received an automated email from Google explaining that the site was being suspended from Google’s AdSense ad network, because that page violates AdSense policy.  Either Google is incorrectly enforcing its own policies, or their policies do not allow for controversial — but clearly and objectively newsworthy — content…

Hall of Shame

Outing a famous non-prohibitionist client just to make money?  Instant ticket to my Hall of Shame:

Kim Petro, a plus-size dominatrix…apparently passed a lie detector test before selling her story to the National Enquirer…Petro claims [Olympic athlete Michael] Phelps contacted her off her “busty festish” Craigslist ad in February 2013.  They allegedly negotiated a $900 “donation” before Phelps…”removed his shirt and…shorts to reveal that he was wearing…women’s underwear…’I got above him [on the bed] to [urinate on him],’ said Petro“…She says she recognized him right away and apparently provided “a cellphone number that The Enquirer independently verified as belonging to the Olympic legend”…

On the Simultaneous Having and Eating of Cake 

An exotic dancer who was shot at a Columbia nightclub is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for her injury, the S.C. Supreme Court ruled…The court ruled that dancer LeAndra Lewis was an employee of the Boom Boom Room Studio 54 – not an independent contractor…the…decision could bolster efforts in South Carolina to classify other topless dancers as employees of clubs that hire them…

Checklist 

Another absurd story about “sex trafficking” informs us, without any evidence at all, that “87% of…victms have had contact with a healthcare provider while being trafficked” and “10% of doctors recognize trafficking victims”.  It also informs us that “sex trafficking” is “about the pimping of modern American culture” And advises doctors to “speak love into [victims]”.  I couldn’t make up anything this wack-a-doodle if I tried.

The Pro-Rape Coalition (#452)

It’s a popular cultural trope these days that…porn is making men, especially young men, sexually dysfunctional…This basic narrative, with its mixed techno/sex panic and vaguely scientific undertones, can be seen everywhere from New York magazine to consumer health sites, Esquire to The American Conservative to The Daily Mail, Christian websites to Thought Catalog…The genre subtly shames both women and men—the former for not being enough like porn stars to keep their men interested, the latter for letting their libido rule them—and often veers into discussions of whether more government intervention is warranted.  But the narrative at the core of this genre is a crock, according to a new study published in the journal Sexual Medicine…The researchers found no relationship between pornography habits and experiencing erectile dysfunction among sexually active participants…

Vendetta (#518) Peter Qualliotine

As usual, only the alternative media questions the noxious rhetoric which suffuses Swanee Hunt’s “end demand” crusades:

Peter…Qualliotine, co-founder of a Seattle group called Organization for Prostitution Survivors, has for several years been teaching a local “john school”…little evidence exists to show that the class is changing anyone’s behavior…with…a grant from Demand Abolition…he recently began a new…john school that runs for 10 weeks—longer than almost any other comparable program in the county…“Many of these men really are dangerous sexual predators,” Qualliotine says.  Many, of course, are not.  But even the nonviolent men, Qualliotine argues, cause harm—by perpetuating an industry that traps prostitutes…into what he deems degrading work while sexually objectifying women at large…He says that of all the johns he’s met, almost none have said they “feel great” about buying sex or that prostitution is meeting their needs…because they’re coming…from a place of “brokenness” and “desperation”…SWOP, however, found a number of men who agreed to speak, albeit anonymously.  “It’s been something that’s been really positive for me, to be honest with you,” says one man…another sex buyer, whom we’ll call Charlie, doesn’t feel like he’s violated anybody’s rights by paying for sex…“It was very civilized,” he says …One woman he’s seen repeatedly…earns more than he does…

Blasphemy (#520)

Chris Hedges’ piece “The Whoredom of the Left”…is about the evils of prostitution, but the photograph that opens the piece speaks a different language, and points to different interests…it…is exploitive, in the most deliberate sense—the site, Truthdig, is using the women in the photo as a way to provoke titillation and/or moral outrage and/or (more likely) both…The main difference between Truthdig and the owner of…a…brothel is that the brothel owner presumably provided the women in the picture with a cut.  Truthdig shows its higher morals by keeping all the money for itself.  Hedges probably didn’t choose the art himself, and most likely didn’t even get to approve it.  Still, it’s not out of line with his essay, which wallows in feverish, sweaty prose and lurid excitation…Hedges concern is not…for sex workers, or for women being trafficked, but for himself.  Looking at sex workers, or thinking about sex workers, leads him to a hideous, exciting dream of his own violation…

Worse Than I Thought (#520)

Might be“?  Try again, Emily:

Senate Democrats and Republicans have been bickering since last week over whose fault it is that they’re now fighting over abortion in what had been a popular, bipartisan human trafficking bill…Democrats say Republicans slipped anti-choice language into the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (JVTA) that would expand the already onerous Hyde Amendment…Republicans say Democrats should have known that the language was in this version of the bill from the start…advocates don’t think the JVTA is worth trying to save in the first place…although the Hyde language is obviously a bad idea, that’s not the only problem with the bill…

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People have the right not to be “rescued” by outsiders who neither understand nor respect them.  –  Meena Seshu

The Scarlet Letter

Given that most sex workers aren’t in it for life, it seems fair to assume that a proportion might eventually choose to [leave it]…for many, this will be impossible.  Sex workers [in the UK] are subject to a particular type of non-statutory reprimand: the “prostitutes caution“…it’s not quite the same as the regular kind of caution you might be landed with for shoplifting or being caught with a bit of weed.  Regular cautions require that…there…be evidence of guilt sufficient to give a realistic prospect of conviction…[and] the offender must admit the offence.  In the case of a prostitutes caution, neither of these is required…sex workers suspected of soliciting…can be slapped with a caution, even if there’s not enough evidence to take the matter to court.  Want to call foul?  Tough: there’s no right of appeal…And if a potential employer sees you’ve got cautions, there’s a good chance you won’t get the job…

Blasphemy

Read this and tell me that Marxism & feminism aren’t religions:

Prostitution is the quintessential expression of global capitalism.  Our corporate masters are pimps. We are all being debased and degraded, rendered impoverished and powerless, to service the cruel and lascivious demands of the corporate elite…If we accept prostitution as legal, as Germany has done…we will take one more collective step toward the global plantation being built by the powerful.  The fight against prostitution is the fight against…the subjugation of impoverished girls and women…Those who sell their bodies for sex do so out of desperation…Selling your body for sex is not a choice…Lee Lakeman…[says] it is not…”OK [for]…Asian women [to work] in brothels because they are sending money home to [their] families…The only way to fight capitalism…is to stop men from buying prostitutes…men will have to accept feminist leadership…and…give up the self-indulgence of prostitution”…The legalization of prostitution in Germany and the Netherlands has expanded trafficking and led to an explosion in child prostitution…average age [blah blah blah]…“When some women are bought and sold,” said Hilla Kerner…“all women can be bought and sold.  When some women are objectified, all women are objectified.”

Profound Mental Disabilities

a 2013 study…suggests that BDSM practitioners are generally psychologically healthy and that they tend to prefer roles that fit their personalities…a newer study…examined the personality traits of BDSM practitioners using a somewhat different personality model.  Some of the findings were highly similar…there is no evidence that BDSM practitioners in general suffer from any particular form of psychological disturbance and in fact they seem to be mentally and emotionally well-adjusted…both dominants and submissives…tend…to be higher in openness to experience and conscientiousness compared to…the general population.  Additionally…submissives tend…to be more extroverted than the general population…and [dominants are] less sensitive to rejection…

Soap Opera anti-pimp pads

Just when you thought the “anti-pimp personal hygiene products” trope couldn’t get any stupider:

Pivot provides rescue information to human trafficking victims without detection by their captors.  Ordinary-looking sanitary pads are distributed by activists and healthcare providers to suspected victims. Hidden inside each pad is an insert with rescue information and a trafficking hotline number.  A victims [sic] accesses the insert in the privacy of a restroom, detaches the phone number (disguised as a fortune-cookie tab), and flushes the rest of the insert in the toilet…

Checklist 

The newest “sign” of “sex trafficking”:  going to a beauty parlor:

A new law in Ohio requires licensed cosmetologists to take a course on identifying trafficked women and girls…because of the major highway systems, eight ports on Lake Erie, and proximity to Canada…the state’s Human Trafficking Task Force…identified salons as prime locations to spot victims who may have been brought in by pimps to change their appearance or to win their trust with pampering…

Let Me Help

Meena Seshu, an experienced social worker turned activist for women’s rights in India, [met] a group of sex workers to help them organize.  Seshu thought she knew what to do: “guide them,” as she had been trained to do.  And yet, they rejected her…Seshu…said, “I’m sorry. I know nothing.  Can you teach me?”  Sesha discusses this humility in this amazing talk…

O, Canada! (All Traffick, All the Time)

Pimps!  Sex slaves!  Benevolent cops!  And other imaginary characters!

Three Sudbury [Ontario] men have been identified as pimps exploiting young women and forcing them in to sex slavery…The same blitz also found six women in the Sudbury who are being forced to work in the sex trade…No charged were laid, but police officers here shared all the information they gathered…[a mouthpiece claimed] “Operations which seek to reach out to trafficked persons give sexually exploited persons the opportunity to report instances of exploitation and allow police to build relationships…”  [The so-called “blitz” was part of] Operation Northern Spotlight…

Under Every Bed (#420) a loon and her lunacy

Still crusading against imaginary “traffickers” in North Dakota:

When she first arrived in town, Windie Lazenko headed to the neon-lit strip clubs and bars catering to lonely oil field workers with extra cash and time on their hands…For nearly two decades, Lazenko was part of that illicit world, starting as a 13-year-old runaway when, she says, she was bought and sold for sex…Lazenko is now one of the most prominent activists in the fight against sex trafficking in the oil patch…

Worse Than I Thought (Traffic Updates)

The connection between abortion prohibition and “sex trafficking” hysteria continues to increase:

Bipartisan legislation to crack down on human trafficking turned unexpectedly controversial…because of a Republican-backed provision relating to abortion that Democrats said they failed to notice…The disputed provision would permanently prohibit the use of federal funds to pay for abortions, except in cases of rape, incest and when the life of the woman was jeopardized…

Anatomy of a Boondoggle (#439)

A Sydney council has lost a landmark legal battle against a massage parlour it alleged was operating as an illegal brothel, after a court ruled the council failed to prove there was enough sex being provided on the premises.  Hornsby Council paid a private investigator to go undercover inside the parlour and [rape] a prostitute as part of a bitter, year-long legal battle to have the operation closed…[because it is near schools]…evidence of sex being sold on the premises fell short of the NSW’s specific definition of the term “brothel” – which requires more than one prostitute to be providing services onsite…councils…would have to fund multiple trips inside suspect premises to have any chance of a result…

Monsters (#510)

The Louisville…Police Department has been insistent that the victim in a Jan. 9 homicide…was not transgender, the homicide was not a hate crime, and the victim’s gender identity was not a factor…Information…directly contradicts or severely undermines all of those assertions…court records and an interview with [the victim’s friend] Tiffany show the police department had evidence, but did not tell the media, that the victim may have identified as a transgender woman who went by the…name Papi…Surveillance video…shows the victim — identified by police as…Sherman Edwards — presenting as a woman, with long hair and carrying a light brown purse…Prosecutors have arrested and charged…Henry Gleaves…with murder…Tiffany said Edwards…had used female pronouns for several years, but…police [said]…“that was a man that was shot.  It was…obviously a man, right?  He doesn’t have a female name”…Among the records contradicting the Louisville police’s insistence that Edwards identified as male is a videotaped interview conducted by…police…shortly after the shooting with Tiffany…

Policing for Profit (#513) 

People [accused] of soliciting prostitution in certain areas of Spokane, Washington, will have their cars impounded by police.  The city has marked these areas with signs proclaiming them a “Designated Area of High Prostitution Activity…”If you’re soliciting prostitutes, you may think twice if you see a sign that says we’re going to impound your car if we catch you,” said Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart.  That seems plausible, indeed.  What doesn’t seem plausible is “high prostitution activity” not simply shifting to elsewhere once the signs go up.  Why would sex workers or clients continue to frequent areas that the city is announcing as targets of increased police stings and enhanced penalties?…

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If sex has no value, how can prostitution be illegal?  –  Beaufort Observer

The Biggest Whores

Quite possibly the stupidest statement ever made about sex:

North Carolina government officials who are having secret sex with lobbyists need fear no more:  The state’s ethics commission has decided such illicit relationships are completely fine…The opinion…essentially says that…Sex has no value…and so it doesn’t need to be disclosed…In an editorial published under the headline “Has the State Ethics Commission made prostitution legal in North Carolina?” the Beaufort Observer denounced the…idea that sex has no monetary value….[and] suggested that the latter idea may lead to the legalization of prostitution…

Surplus Women 

Dominick Everson admitted to police that he hired Ezrhea Danyell Cherry…[and claimed he] paid [her] before…sex…[but when] he pulled out “a wad of money” to tip [her, she] pulled a gun on him and told him to give it up.  Everson [claims]…he [then] pulled a gun of his own and opened fire, striking the woman once in the front and three times in the back.  He then fled from the scene in Cherry’s car…During a different interview, Everson told authorities that he didn’t kill the woman at all, and that another man [did]…When prosecutors pressed Everson about why the gun supposedly carried by Cherry wasn’t found, Everson replied that the police had not done a thorough enough investigation.

Gorged With Meaning

The idea that men paying for women’s company is “unconventional” is so naive it’s hilarious:

A controversial website is connecting…men with young women for cash…is it safe?  Is it even legal?…the average sugar baby receives about $3,000 in monthly allowances…legal analyst Gil Soffer…says this is a legal grey area…It’s fulfilling unconventional needs in a 21st century way.

These articles all contain quotes from “experts” pontificating on the obvious:

…“I absolutely think this is prostitution,” says Laura Killinger, a…former prosecutor…“They have sugar-coated this type of prostitution so that it seems so much more socially acceptable…As a prosecutor, I wanted to take legal action against this activity…but it would take tremendous resources…to make…a misdemeanour case”…

Above the Law 

Sometimes “authorities” completely get away with serial rape:

A prison doctor in New Mexico sexually assaults inmates with rectal exams for everything from tooth pain to toenail fungus, seven inmates claim in lawsuits…Dr. Mark Walden regularly performed “digital rectal exams” for no legitimate medical reason, sometimes without wearing gloves, and fondled them inappropriately…When…asked the doctor…”claimed he was milking the plaintiff’s prostate and other medically nonsensical responses”…wardens and prison staff knew about the sexual assaults but did nothing to stop them…complaints and reports…were either ignored, “lost,” or met with retaliation…

And sometimes they only mostly get away with it:rapist cop Jonathan Bleiweiss

A…Florida [cop] has admitted to [raping] undocumented immigrants…Jonathan Bleiweiss…pleaded guilty to…14 counts of armed false imprisonment, 15 counts of battery and four counts of stalking.  However, he avoided all of the charges with [the word] “sex” in them…and as such will not be required…to register as a sex offender…

Profound Ignorance

Clueless academic makes stupid, ignorant statements about sex work; Elizabeth N. Brown calls him on them:

…In a new Iowa Law Review article, “Prostitution 3.0“, University of Colorado law professor Scott Peppet…[lays] out the myriad benefits of a “technology-enabled sex market” as well as the legal barriers that “inhibit prostitution-related innovation” in America…the legal climate prevents innovation that could make the industry safer and more socially acceptable, and then this danger and stigma is used to justify continued prohibition…Unfortunately, Peppet’s ultimate vision here is “legalizing Prostitution 3.0 while criminalizing the purchase of sex outside of Prostitution 3.0’s parameters”—which seems far from the lofty liberalism and freedom-of-contract ideas Peppet pays lip service to…It’s a vision that seems predicated on a strange sort of techno-utopian statism, and a disappointing one for those of us who believe prostitution problems stem from black markets and state interference.  In a nice response article…Scott Cunningham and Todd D. Kendall argue similarly, writing that “most of the social problems associated with prostitution are not inherent to the industry, but they are the logical result of the prohibition itself, a conclusion supported by the fact that other, similar, markets not subject to a prohibition experience few of the problems associated with prostitution”…

So Close and Yet So Far

If you’re going to argue against bad sex work laws, it’s probably best if you eschew language like this:

Selling sex is clearly not a job many people would care to have…If you criminalize the pimps, then it means women cannot be compelled into selling their bodies for sex, right?  Wrong…Some prostitutes will be people who freely choose to engage in prostitution; many, however, “have no meaningful choice…Whether because of financial desperation, drug addictions, mental illness, or compulsion from pimps, they often have little choice but to sell their bodies for money”…The new laws…do not protect women from violent johns…

Blunt Instrument

Three massage parlors were shut down in Lomita [California using the excuse of]…exploitation of women and human trafficking.  Although no violations of that nature were found, each business was cited for poor record keeping on matters [of red tape]…Fines could cost the businesses thousands of dollars.  They will remain closed until they [fork over the tribute]…Deputies [pretended that]…the operation [was] in response to complaints from residents…

Shame, Shame

Tracy Clark-Flory interviewed sex workers, including me, for this article on police body cameras:

…Naming and shaming…has a long history in sex work policing.  Police departments have routinely published sex worker photos in local newspapers…”I can’t help but wonder what would have been done with the footage had such a camera been rolling at the time of my arrest,” says Maggie McNeill, who was caught in a sex work sting in 2005…”The potential for shaming is staggering, especially given that sex workers are very often nude or nearly so when the police spring the trap—I was…It’s one of the reasons stings so often employ such huge mobs of cops—15 in my case—when two or three would do…The mentality in play is like a low-level version of a gang rape, a group of thugs bonding over sexual humiliation of a woman…I have absolutely no doubt that particularly juicy video clips will end up in cops’ private collections to be traded between them, even if some authority decides that such clips will not be publicly released,” she says…Audacia Ray…of the…Red Umbrella Project…is worried about body cameras being “used as a tool to shame people who are being arrested…police often make sexual or degrading comments at women as they are arresting them”…”We have strong concerns about what malicious third-party content producers might do with records of police encounters,” said Matt Kellegrew, the lead staff attorney for Red Light Legal…”My worst fear is some type of sex-worker-shaming-meets-Cops-style slander/shock videos popping up”…

Drawing Lines Sheri's Ranch

a press release…from…Sheri’s Ranch, a licensed brothel in Nevada…was…incredibly vile, self-serving (even by PR standards) and stigmatizing to sex workers…We’re used to seeing efforts to deride and harm sex workers, and ugly, flagrant whorephobia, from radical feminist and anti-sex nut jobs like Melissa Farley and Gail Dines, but this one came from a business…that profits off the efforts of sex workers…“We’re concerned that sugar dating websites, platforms promoting prostitution and operating without interference from law enforcement, may one day negatively impact our legal prostitution business.”  This is what our friend Maggie McNeill calls “badge-licking”.  What sex worker on the planet — and what individual citizen, for that matter — thinks that increased interference in their lives or business by law enforcement is a good thing?  While, I give them points for honesty on the “we’re concerned” this will hurt our business bit, the whole thing sounds as though Sheri’s is trying to smear its  competition.  And by “competition” we mean, other sex workers…

Deafening Silence (#415)

End result of prohibitionism: more women are pushed into sex work:

The sex industry that once thrived in Dongguan [China]…has now scurried underground after the hammering of official raids and crackdowns seeking to eradicate the industry last year…Shops and parlors closed down; people were arrested by the hundreds…though places which once provided sex services were forced to close and all the businesses attached to them [were] damaged…sex workers remain…and work at home…[or on] the streets…some female residents who used to work at the region’s bars or catering businesses that failed to survive have become sex workers “for the better pay”…

BDSM (#505)

Just in case you think BDSM isn’t still heavily stigmatized, take a look at this remarkably stupid, impressively ignorant hate-screed:

Dr. Miriam Grossman…[says that] Fifty Shades of Grey teaches your daughter that pain and humiliation are erotic, and your son, that girls want a guy who controls, intimidates and threatens…The first thing you’ll hear from advocates of BDSM is that consent makes it all A-Okay.  That’s bullshit, folks.  Domestic violence shelters are filled to the gills with women who deluded themselves into thinking that intimacy involved consent to being abused…Somewhere along the way, it ends up like the bonding with one’s captor that occurs in Stockholm Syndrome…Young people…especially females, grossly underestimate the effect of sexual activity on their emotions…Men who habitually indulge in BDSM can also end up thinking that a woman’s “consent” to be abused excuses every abusive thing they might say or do to her…indulgence in…BDSM acts as an addictive drug.  It can render such men incapable of any sex that is not BDSM…

Harm Reduction (#506)

Another wake-up call to wives:

Monogamy is against most men’s biological nature.  But nest-building and settling down with one primary woman to raise a family is not.  He’s chosen you, not me.  He might see me as more fun, vivacious or sexual, but he sees you as the best candidate for wife, mother and life companion.  He takes you seriously; not me…he…would rather seek out a willing mistress than rock the boat with you by expressing his frustration at your loss of interest in sex…I’m basically a young, good-looking version of a therapist…[whom] he gets to fuck…

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No sex worker I know reports clients as being the biggest problem…it’s always the rescuers, the police and the state who seem to do them the most harm.  –  Marijke Vonk

Real People 

First They Came for the Hookers…

Police cracked down on four dancers and two managers at a San Antonio gentleman’s club…after the strippers allegedly revealed a little bit too much skin…undercover [perverts entrapped]…dancers [into] pulling down the waistband of their thongs to reveal “the crevice of their buttocks,” which is a violation of a city ordinance…

Sexual Predators

There’s no badge-licking quite as nauseating as that which appears in stories about vice stings:

…Philadelphia…Vice squad posted provocative ads on backpage.com…men…were completely unaware that the women they had arranged to meet were actually undercover female police officers…Northeast Philadelphia has become a “hotbed” for prostitution…So…police are attacking the demand…”We’re taking their cell phones, we’re taking their money and we’re publicizing their names…” [a cop mouthpiece bragged]…Police say prostitution is a magnet for all types of crime including guns, drugs and human trafficking which can put even innocent bystanders in danger…

You heard it here first, folks; when a man pays me to have sex in private, a magical magnetic field is created which attracts guns and drugs, and those inanimate objects in turn emit radiation which can “put innocent bystanders in danger”.  Nor is this kind of obsequious toadying limited to the broadcast media, or to Pennsylvania:

…Since January, D.C. police have run a string of stings…luring men with fake ads on the Internet…[the cops pretend to be] responding to complaints from residents…[about] prostitutes along 14th Street [by going after internet escorts who aren’t on the street]…

Feminine Pragmatism (#133)

More accurate headline:  “Woman prevented from working to support her child”:

Valerie Fairman, who appeared on the second season of MTV’s Sixteen and Pregnant, was arrested…in…a…prostitution sting…[in] Delaware  [which cops pretended was] “in response to numerous citizen complaints about prostitution”…

Under Every Bed 

It’s astonishing to realize that these people are serious:

…It is often difficult for citizens and law enforcement to identify cases of human trafficking because the deals often happen online…said Jodi Emerson…[of “rescue” profiteer group] Fierce Freedom…“If I had someone call me up today and say, ‘I’m a victim of human trafficking and want to get out of it,’ I don’t really have anywhere to put them”…an unintended effect of strengthened drug trafficking laws in Wisconsin is a shift in criminal enterprises from drugs to prostitution…it is becoming easier and more profitable for gangs and other criminals to sell something repeatedly rather than only once…

Monsters Penny Proud

The rash of murders of black transwomen continues:

Penny Proud, who was fatally shot…in New Orleans, is the fifth transgender woman of color in the United States to be killed within the past month…Proud’s death also reinforced other common trends when transgender women are killed: Police misgendered Proud and media coverage dwelled on prostitution, even though it had no apparent connection to the homicide…An article and video posted on Nola.com called the victim “male” and a “man”…

These same ugly trends appear in the coverage of yet another such murder:

…a Texas College football player [named Carlton Ray Champion]…has been arrested for the murder of Tyrone Underwood…the two men had been seeing each other for several weeks…Carlton…thought [Underwood] was female…The police aren’t saying if the motive was the killing was because Mr. Underwood was a transgender male, but that seems to be the working theory they are going with.  Several members of the transgender community have reached out to say that Ty Underwood shouldn’t be IDed as a male, but as a female, but for accuracy of this reporting we went off the police affidavit…

“We had to parrot the police report even though we knew better” = “we were only following orders”.

Confined and Controlled (#335)

I’m not sure why The Local thinks prostitution is illegal in Italy, when it definitely isn’t:  “A number of Milan politicians have come out in support of opening a red light district in Italy’s financial capital, just days after plans for a prostitution zone were unveiled in Rome…Politicians from both left and right have backed the idea…despite prostitution being illegal in Italy…

Deafening Silence (#413)

Just in time for Chinese New Year, when millions of young Chinese will…be bugged by relatives about if or when they’ll tie the knot, China’s Internet regulator has decided it’s time to crack down on dating websites…[claiming] fraud is rampant…and has become a “public nuisance to millions of users.”  The statement also said prostitution would be targeted and that dating sites must enforce real-name registration…China state media…[have previously] accused [mobile flirting app] Momo of hosting sex workers, saying the “hormone-filled” app provides “a new ‘mobile base’ for sexual trades and other illegal activities…”

Buttons, Bags & Banknotes (#423)

Never forget that according to Bindel, members of the “pimp lobby” include me, two prohibitionist shills, two human rights organizations and a dead guy:

Across the globe, a dangerous, elusive group is gathering force…the Pimp Lobby…refuses to show its true face, hiding instead behind such apparently benevolent fronts as grassroots activist groups, academics, student unions and sex worker rights campaigners…Kate Smurthwaite, a comedian who’s loudly vocalised her belief that paying for sex should be criminalised, recently had a show at Goldsmith’s University cancelled as ticket sales were low…Smurthwaite labelled the night “a pro-pimp event”…requests from people in the industry that they be referred to as “sex workers” have been slammed as cynical obfuscations designed to deceive the public and keep pimps in business.  Some, however, question the existence of this shady lobby, and instead wonder if the label is just a useful way to discredit loud-mouthed sex workers standing up for their beliefs…a new guide was released for journalists (easy prey for this secretive group) advising on how to spot members of the pimp lobby.  The guide was produced by…Julie Bindel…According to Bindel, all sex work is abuse.  Women in sex work should be referred to as “prostituted women”, all their agency removed…Bindel’s guide is full of heart-wrenching statistics.  Many of them don’t stand up to scrutiny, but how important are a few digits?…

Checklist (#441) 

A functioning police state needs no police:

Flight attendants are often the only people outside of government and law enforcement who interact with victims of human trafficking on a regular basis…DHS helps train airline workers to recognize typical signs that a person is being trafficked…now the [rescue industry] group Airline Ambassadors is announcing the launch of a new app that will allow the group to track airline personnel’s reports of suspected trafficking.  The app allows airline workers to upload video footage of suspected trafficking cases to provide evidence something shady is going on…

Drawing Lines (#508) Lisa Ann

Lisa Ann doubles down:

…I’m not a prostitute.  I’m never gonna ask you for money.  I do like to go to games, so if you leave me tickets at will call, I’m there…I tell [basketball players] what to be prepared for.  Lock your wallet, watches or anything valuable in the safe before they invite a girl up…take her phone as soon as she gets into the room and put it in the safe as well…I’m training these boys how to be better men….these guys admit to me that they don’t mind paying for sex…I’m always dealing with the upper echelon.  I’m not a gold digger though…

In fact, this whorearchy-reinforcing, sister-endangering idiot has just doubled herself down into my Hall of Shame.  Welcome to the gallery of obnoxious, clownish sleazebags, Lisa!

Guest Columnist:  Hugo

It’s easier to negatively judge a group of people when they are nothing but “others”, a group of “they” who are different from us.  That’s why visibility is so important when you’re fighting for human rights…Outspoken sex workers force others to accept that prostitutes, not victims of trafficking or coercion, but actual sex workers with opinions and choices who demand some basic respect for their autonomy in fact exist.  It makes it harder to treat us, the sexual “others”, as non-human concepts to theorise about…That’s why I was so happy to read the guest column by Hugo on Maggie McNeill’s blog.  Clients of sex workers are perhaps the most stigmatised and misunderstood people in the entire sex work debate…clients…are often portrayed as horrible abusers…It’s that disgusting stigma that’s behind a lot of the trafficking-rhetoric, the idea that most clients could not care less about her well-being and that there is in fact a big market for abused, tattooed, caged and malnourished girls…a lot of men pay for sex.  There are many sex workers, they all have multiple clients and assuming those clients are not rich enough to see all sex workers, there are more clients than prostitutes.  We know that true psychopaths, people with anti-social personality disorder who enjoy the suffering of others, are thankfully extremely rare.  So it logically follows that most clients are normal men…

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This Government only won an election, not the right to become our Mammy.  –  Ian O’Doherty

Another Reason Not To Do Cowgirl

This isn’t actually the reason I dislike cowgirl, but it makes a good excuse:

“Woman on top” is the most dangerous sex position, according to a new scientific study…”cowgirl”…is responsible for half of all penile fractures…”doggy-style”…is behind 29 per cent…[and] “man on top”…just 21 per cent…

Do As I Say, Not As I Do Michael Kitchen

a prostitute…asked for the $100 that [a client] agreed to for 30 minutes of her company.  She then explained that if the man wanted sex, he would have to pay an additional $150…the man became angry and demanded his $100 back…he…shoved her across the room…then unzipped her jeans…she began kicking him…and he punched her in the head twice…then pinned her down and removed the $100 from…her bra.  He then left the apartment…[investigating cops] discovered [the client’s phone number] belonged to a Las Vegas [cop named Michael Kitchen]…

Broken Record

Cows cause “sex trafficking”!

Federal and local [cops arrested] six child victims of domestic sex trafficking and…two alleged traffickers during the 2015 National Western Stock Show…large events with a national draw bring an…increase in child sex trafficking, the FBI said…agencies have been using big events…most notably last year’s Super Bowl — to…[arrest so-called] victims…Colorado is a breeding ground for human trafficking because of the major interstates crisscrossing it…

Shift in the Wind

The prestigious Adam Smith Institute comes out against laws that deny sex workers’ agency, drawing on data from Ric Curtis’ latest study.  Before too much longer, prohibitionists won’t be able to claim their crap is based on anything more than a political agenda.  Of course, that hasn’t stopped the creationists from getting laws passed, but it’ll be a great comfort when normal, educated people mock prohibitionism as they mock creationism today.

Bottleneck

We are remarkably dishonest when it comes to the sex industry…objections to nakedness-for-cash…blur into vague, emotive statements with very little actual meaning…”Farcical” and “dangerous” are two of the words I heard used last week to describe the UK’s licensing of sexual entertainment, and those words are absolutely accurate: the situation is a mess…any venue offering lap dancing, pole dancing or striptease is classified as a “sex encounter venue”.  Local councils have the power to veto licences for SEVs and, if they wish, declare a “nil” policy, meaning no SEVs whatsoever on their turf…this translates to councils up and down the country granting or denying licences inconsistently.  They’re given and revoked for no apparent reason, licensing fees are topsy turvy and, in some authorities, restrictive policy is such that councils are effectively trying to ban what is a lawful activity…

Theatrics 

Anti-whore theatrics are always ludicrous, but this is one of the most ridiculous ones I’ve seen yet:

Two female Italian councillors have embarked on an unusual quest to clamp down on…prostitution – by dressing up in miniskirts and confronting kerb-crawlers with a hidden camera.  The stunt had been initiated by Mayor Dimitri Russo…and councillors Anastasia Petrella and Stefania Sangermano…[who pretend sex work has a]  damaging effect…on their town…when punters would stop for the fake prostitutes, they were confronted by the mayor and a cameraman, leaping out from behind parked cars…

The self-important pomposity of politicians is demonstrated by the fact that nobody involved seems to realize how idiotic a spectacle they present.

Monsters

this [story] from…Louisville, KY…has all the disrespectful AP Stylebook violations…when writing about…murders of African-American trans women.  Using mugshot photo in WHAS-TV story: CHECK.   Using victim’s dead name:  CHECK.   Misgendering her throughout the story:  CHECK.  Surprised…WHAS-TV…didn’t…insert…whatever criminal record they could find since they found the mugshot…Ms. Edwards…was found shot to death at the Fern Valley Motel…on January 9…LMPD is searching for…Henry Richard Gleaves in connection with this homicide…[if] those of you in the Louisville area or Indianapolis area where Ms.Edwards was from…have some pics of her or know her femme name, please get it to me ASAP…

Cuckoo Advertising

Will these “reporters” never wake up?

With tuition costs soaring in Canada, many students are turning to a new…way of paying for school:  Renting yourself out for paid dates.  SeekingArrangement.com, which brings together prospective “sugar babies” with deep-pocketed “sugar daddies,” says it has seen a 42-per-cent increase in the number of students signing up on its site in the past year…the University of Toronto [has]…the fastest-growing number of sugar babies, with 195 new sign-ups last year…followed by Montreal’s McGill University, with 161 sign-ups…

The idea that selling sex is a “new” way to pay for schooling is utterly hilarious.

The Course of a Disease (#401)

Another rare Irish denunciation of prohibition:

…As a member of the Government which published the…Bill…which adopts the illogical position of criminalising the client but not the sex worker, [Alan] Farrell no doubt feels he is the vanguard of an administration which wants to protect women, but…saying that you are against…forcing [women] into sexual slavery is not the same as saying you are against…informed consent between two adults…In a world where most civilised countries have recognised prostitution as a morally neutral fact of life which can be regulated and taxed – where it is simply another arm of the leisure industry – we have replaced our inherently immature and prudish attitudes about sex work with…one which says that all prostitutes are victims and all Johns are sexual predators…his assertion that: “In my opinion, it is simply unacceptable that a man or a woman would purchase a person’s body for sexual gratification” is entirely irrelevant but also rather instructive, because a man who has legislative power has just admitted that he thinks two grown-ups having a private transaction is “unacceptable”…

Stupor Bowl 

Even though the mainstream media are now admitting that the “gypsy whores” myth is bullshit (at least in regard to the Super Bowl), they just can’t let go of that “sex trafficking” carcass yet.  The Washington Post‘s debunking is marred by extensive quoting of cops and of Dominique Roe-Sepowitz’s bogus “study” that claimed (among other idiocy) that “84% of [escort] ads indicated possible sex trafficking“, and the Bowling Green News helpfully explains that “sex trafficking” doesn’t increase around sporting events because “in reality it occurs everywhere, 24/7” and is caused by TV commercials.

Traffic Jam (#422)

It looks as though the horrible Project ROSE may be kaput, though of course Sepowitz has to save face by denying that the mountain of ethics complaints against it had anything to do with that:  “…Roe-Sepowitz, who…helped organize Project Rose, said that program has been put on hold, but she said it was due to officer availability, not controversy…”  The day that Crazy Joe Arpaio won’t provide “officers” for an anti-sex pogrom will be a very frigid one in Hell.

The Mote and the Beam (#428)

The sheer number of anti-sex trafficking bills that have been introduced in the new Congress (17)…should tell us something.  Either sex trafficking has suddenly reached epidemic proportions in America, or it’s become the showboat du jour for preening politicians.  Most signs point to the latter.  Of the 11 anti-trafficking bills passed by the House [last week]…most…merely add layers of bureaucracy and authorize funding to pad these layers…but…H.R. 181…is exactly the kind of thing federal officials will use to entrap folks into agreeing to sex with an imaginary 17-year-old and then send them to prison for a few decades…every week I read multiple local-news reports from around the country about “sex trafficking stings”…[that] result in nothing but the arrest of adults engaged in consensual prostitution…H.R. 181 would be federalizing [this]…

Gorged With Meaning (#434)

I’m not sure what the headline writer means by saying “Belle Knox is Remaking Herself as a Libertarian Activist“; she’s been an avowed libertarian since she first came on the scene a year ago, and has been active in Students for Liberty for most of that time.  The part of this interview that caught my attention the most was this one:

…On the Students for Liberty website, Weeks identifies her “favorite figures in liberty” as Ayn Rand, economist Milton Friedman, and two other activists whose careers have included both sex and politics:  porn star Nina Hartley and former call girl Maggie McNeill

Business As Usual (#506)

This reporter’s faith that cops never do anything they aren’t supposed to, like raping whores during “prostitution stings”, would be touching if it weren’t so horribly misplaced.  Even worse?  He quotes prohibitionist Kathleen Barry, calling her a “prostitution expert” (which is like calling Carrie Nation a “wine expert”), and giving her a platform for her vile “end demand” propaganda.

Something Rotten in Sweden (#507)

Prostitutes are victims…King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg…told a packed Town Hall audience in attendance for an anti-sex trafficking panel…But…how does acknowledging the existence of consensual adult sex workers nullify all anti-trafficking efforts?…it contradicted the panel’s own stated intentions of respecting marginalized individuals’ humanity…sex workers in the audience, however, had different opinions about how to best protect—and distinguish—at-risk youth and self-employed adults…

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If someone were trying to pass laws that would directly impact your job, your income, and your life…you’d hope that your input…would be heard.  –  Seattlish

Something Rotten in Sweden

[Thursday] morning a group of 10 people from Sex Worker’s Outreach Project Seattle…and the Gender Justice League traveled to Olympia to attend a public hearing in the Senate Law & Justice Committee on SB-5277…& SB-5041…which together seek to increase the penalties for patronizing a prostitute…Although testimony was allowed by several people in support of SB-5277, and by a lawyer speaking on behalf of clients, the meeting was adjourned before the Sex Workers themselves were allowed to testify.  The members then attempted to get meetings with Senators Kohl-Welles & Padden, but were unsuccessful.  They were told they have 24 hours to submit written testimony to the committee assistant…

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Moron writer refers to something only criminalized a century ago as “one of the oldest crimes in history“.  You just can’t make this stuff up.  “Police Officer Abel James…was charged with patronizing a prostitute in Brooklyn…

Secret Squirrel

snoopInvestigators…say business has boomed in recent years from clients who want their sweethearts investigated for…habits and secrets…The trend is partly driven…by [publicized]…examples of online daters embellishing their profiles, and of scammers using dating sites to lure people into false romances…Google [searching]…is like a gateway drug to professional snooping…“It’s the new prenuptial,” Jeffrey Schell of Kassel Investigations in Boise, Idaho, said…Except the “party being investigated doesn’t have to…agree”…

Nasty Words

the residents of Ulker Street [in Istanbul] used…a slang called Lubunca…[whose] earliest traces…can be found…as the Ottoman Empire was waning…Lubunca was found in spaces where men engaged in sex work, such as bathhouses…[in] the late 1980s and early ’90s…Lubunca became more prevalent, along with trans sex work…“A lot of the vocabulary…overlaps with Romani,” [linguist Nikolas] Kontovas says…“Sex acts are one of the largest categories, if not the largest…There’s also tons of vocabulary for money,” he says, and for what he likes to call fun, like alcohol and cigarettes…[now] Lubunca has evolved into a slang used by some gay people who are not trans and are not sex workers…as a way to exhibit one’s identity…

Surplus Women 

Michael Wenham…[stabbed] Karolina Nowikiewicz…to death in [an]…unprovoked attack at her flat…Wenham…was recovering from unsuccessful [penis enlargement] surgery…[and] still had a dressing on his penis which had affected his sex life with [his] wife…Wenham…called in sick to work before…buying a [prepaid cell phone,] Stanley knife, disposable gloves and plastic sacks which he used in the killing.  When the first [sex worker] he tried was unavailable, he booked…Ms Nowikiewicz…Attacking her from behind, he sliced open her neck, cutting through her major arteries and her spinal chord…[he then] washed himself in the bathroom, placed the bloody knife in a drawer…went outside and called the police to admit to what he had just done…there was no evidence of sexual assault, consensual sexual activity or even arousal.  Karolina was chosen because her job made her an easy target…

Above the Law 

Unfortunately, she learned what cops are really like:

Trumball, Conn…police officer William Ruscoe began a drastically reduced 30-month prison sentence for handcuffing and raping a teenage girl in his home…Ruscoe…blamed his crime on financial problems that made it hard to support his wife and two children…During a sentencing hearing Ruscoe pleaded with the court to give him a downward departure in sentencing from the 6-year prison term he agreed to in his plea bargain…The…victim was part of the department’s Explorer program, which provides educational training for young adults on the purposes, mission and objectives of law enforcement…

The Pygmalion Fallacy (#137) vajankle

…The vajankle – as its name suggests – is the unholy union of a vagina and an ankle…[for] serious foot [fetishists]…Sin boutique…explains: ‘These quirky feet have a vagina built right in at the ankle!’…the vajankle costs a toe-curling $179…

Sex Work is Work (#448)

Mistress Matisse draws in part upon Joyce Arthur’s suggestions to create a new style guide for journalists writing about sex work.  This will provide a handy reference to point to when correcting the rampant dysphemisms in modern yellow journalism.

A Year Later

This op-ed condemning Canada’s awful new anti-sex worker regime wouldn’t be at all unusual in the Canadian press, but it appeared in the American press, specifically in the deeply-prohibitionist New York Times:

…Many hoped this would be Canada’s chance to emulate New Zealand, where…decriminalization [has improved health and safety]…Instead…Bill C-36 has…[reproduced] many of the statutes struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013…[and also made] it a crime to purchase sex…and…advertise the sale of sex…If abolishing prostitution is the goal for some Canadian legislators, precedent suggests that the new measure is unlikely to succeed…instead of taking this opportunity to pass truly meaningful reforms, Canada has merely replaced one flawed policy with another.

The Widening Gyre (#501) 

Now will the cops stop pretending this woman was “sex trafficked”?

…Tae Bum Yoon…[was arrested for the murder of] Ashley Benson…in an eighth floor stairwell of the DoubleTree Hotel in [Portland]…It wasn’t the first time they had met, and evidence suggests they had some type of disagreement over money owed…

All Wet

Though the content of “5 REAL (And Absolutely Shocking) Reasons Men Hire Prostitutes” actually is pretty real (though not remotely shocking), what I found most interesting was that writer Suzanne Jannese said about the most recent absurdly-lowball figures on the fraction of men who have paid for sex, “The stats surprised me—they were higher than I had expected…”  One wonders how Ms Jannese thinks we even pay the rent.

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