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Posts Tagged ‘violence vs. sex workers’

[Sex workers are] not helped by campaigns which [call] us…“prostituted women” who don’t have any ability to properly consent anyway.  –  sex workers of St. Kilda

One Size Fits All

The phrase “human trafficking” now means “any behavior I don’t like”:

Not a single same-sex couple can reproduce together.  It behooves us to analyze the ways that same-sex marriage demands other people’s children as a “civil right” and in so doing invariably denies both women their own children and children their right to a mother and a father…Gay families are compromised by their need to tear apart other people’s families using the oppressive force of the state and its legal apparatuses…People use their children in all kinds of ways.  Except these are often other people’s children and they did not have to be conscripted to a life of distortion and play-acting.  These children are never the result of same-sex couples’ accidental pregnancy…All gay families are created by or because of someone else’s family being destabilized…The new social justice dictum is that society owes LBGT people the flesh and blood of other people’s children because they are “married” now.  Let’s be honest.  Love does not make a family in this case.  Human trafficking does.

Author Rivka Edelman works hard to get libertarians on her side by invoking the specter of state violence, but this strategy depends on the reader swallowing the rather bizarre assumption that all children placed for adoption got there by being stolen from their birth mothers.  It is absolutely true that the state has a fetish for stealing people’s children, but I sincerely doubt that the majority of adopted children (or even a large minority) are available because of such actions.  Furthermore, the rationalization she employs to separate same-sex adoptive couples from heterosexual ones, namely that straight couples could theoretically produce children of their own, is an exercise in absurdity; if gay couples should be denied the right to adopt because they can’t biologically produce offspring, infertile couples would have to be denied for precisely the same reason.

It Looks Good On Paper

Article goes on and on about how awful it is that “sex trafficking victims” are burdened with a criminal record, yet never questions the premise of burdening anyone with such a record for peaceful, consensual activities.  Oh, and it quotes the usual lies, too.

…no matter how hard she tried, Nicole, who was lured into the brutal world by an abusive boyfriend when she was a teenager, couldn’t get her record expunged…But that system is starting to ease up for trafficking survivors…It’s a welcome reprieve considering that sex trafficking is the fastest-growing business of organized crime…An estimated 293,000 youths alone are at risk of being sexually exploited in the U.S.  Nailing down precise figures remains a challenge due to a lack of funding and the fact that victims are too fearful to come forward.  Compounding the issue is the fact that police often can’t detect the difference between someone who has been forced into the sex trade and a consensual sex worker…

Surplus Women Zheng Shurong

A construction worker thought to be the boyfriend of a murdered prostitute has been arrested at his home in [Hong Kong]…the 62-year-old had a relationship of several years with Zheng Shurong, 44, who was found dead in her…flat…with a curtain chord around her neck.  Zheng’s 19-year-old daughter called police after loosing contact with her mother…

The Prudish Giant

It looks like Twitter may be heading in the same direction as Google, PayPal, LinkedIn, et al:

According to SunTrust Robinson Humphrey tech analyst Robert Peck, Twitter is preparing to purge an estimated 10 million porn-posting users.  Ditching such a large chunk of users sounds drastic until you do the math:  Twitter claims to have 302 million monthly users, so getting rid of the explicit posters will only account for about 3 percent of its total—although that’s just counting the users and not their followers…One week after Twitter’s revenue forecast was reported to be below expectations and deemed a “nightmare earnings scenario,” Nielsen, a global television and digital data company, pulled its advertising campaign after discovering paid promoted tweets on pornography-associated pages…A Twitter spokesperson told Adweek they “are committed to providing a safe environment for brands to build their business, and our product team is working to fix the issue.”  But…how the company intends to fix the issue is a growing concern within the adult industry…

Useful Idiots 

Scott Greenfield explains how useful idiots are trying to subject all human interaction to criminal law.  Here’s the text he quotes and discusses:

…the American Law Institute (ALI) has undertaken a review of the sexual assault provisions of the Model Penal Code.  The undersigned members of ALI are concerned about the direction the project has taken…If there is political consensus on anything in the United States today, it is the consensus that our government has overcriminalized and overincarcerated the American public…§1519 is a bad law — too broad and undifferentiated, with too high maximum penalties, which give prosecutors too much leverage and sentencers too much discretion.  And…in those ways, §1519 is unfortunately not an outlier, but an emblem of a deeper pathology in the federal criminal code…the current ALI draft is an extreme deviation, focused on expanding criminal sanctions for sexual behavior and expanding the problems…equating silence with unwillingness, as Section 213.2(2) does, “patronizes” or “infantilizes” women, treating them as if they were incapable of expressing their own desires…

Buried Truth  Screen-Shot-2015-05-18-at-1.58.14-PM-670x592

Another anti-gay “authority” figure is revealed as a closet queer:

Until 2 p.m. on Monday, the “Our Church Staff” section of St. John’s Lutheran  Church and School’s website described Reverend Matthew Makela as an associate pastor who enjoys, “family, music, home improvement, gardening and landscaping, and sports.”  Screenshots obtained by Queerty from a source who asked that his name be withheld shed light on some of the Reverend’s other favorite past times — namely nude make out sessions and sex with other men…how someone behaves between the sheets is really nobody’s business but his own, except when he’s actively doing damage to others.  We’ve seen it time and time again. The lawmaker who spends his days fighting against gay rights and his nights cruising for bottoms, or the ex-gay activist who isn’t quite as ex-gay as he’d like everyone to believe…Makela…doesn’t just preach Jesus’ love and help with bake sales.  He also uses his position of authority and respect in his community to broadcast his self-loathing view on same-sex attraction…

Banishment

A call for a return of the policy which enabled Robert Pickton to slaughter women virtually at will:

Residents of Vancouver’s Kensington-Cedar Cottage neighbourhood are petitioning the city to crackdown [sic] on prostitution in residential areas and establish a red light district…It’s not clear where he wants the red light district located, but [instigator Ewart] Aitken says organizers hope to meet with city officials in coming weeks…

Under Every Bed 

Though this story quotes “sex trafficking” fetishists who fantasize that a tiny town is a “sex trafficking hub”, it also quotes the truth from sex workers themselves:

…Apip-Acam, a [rescue industry NGO]…describes [La Jonquera, Spain] as “one of the main centers of the prostitution industry and the trafficking of women for sexual exploitation in Europe”…Many women here insist that they are not working for pimps or being exploited by trafficking gangs, and that this is the only way they can make a living.  Of the 111 women working in the open in La Jonquera that Apip-Acam has contacted, only six have signed up to a program for victims of trafficking and sexual exploitation…[yet Apip-Acam still pretends that] “all of them are subject to extreme control and domination by small family clans”…

Be Careful Who You Rape Meagher turns prohibitionist

Remember how Tom Meagher, the husband of a woman who died because “authorities” don’t give a shit about whores, supplied the quote from which this subsection title was drawn?  Well, he’s become a prohibitionist now, and the sex workers of St. Kilda have something to say to him:

As street based sex workers from St Kilda we have come together to urge you to reconsider your position endorsing the campaign “We Don’t Buy It” and to share with you some of the implications it has for us as sex workers…we…are…subject to laws and policing operations that target us and our clients.  And this really makes it harder for us to best look after our safety…our justice system…is more of an injustice system, and as you pointed out so well, this tragically not only affects us, but our whole society.  To report crimes committed against us we risk being charged ourselves and being known to police for further profiling and harassment…seeing your passion for justice…[for] all, including sex workers, co-opted into a campaign which does just the opposite of this is hugely disappointing and upsetting…Any campaign which calls to end sex work or stigmatises our clients ends up further stigmatising and dehumanising us as well, and ultimately serves to take away our agency and increases violence towards us…

Broken Record (#425)

I kind of feel sorry for “sex trafficking” fetishists from Omaha; since their city appears to have just one largish sporting event, they keep tapping its anemic body to feed “gypsy whores” hysteria:

Hotel workers in the Omaha area are undergoing training on how to spot women and minors being forced into prostitution…Experts say high-profile events, such as the College World Series in Omaha, bring a higher risk of sex trafficking occurring at lodging facilities…Coalition member Shane Fagan said signs hotel staff should keep an eye out for include lodgers with a small amount of luggage, an unusual collection of wigs or IDs inside a suite, prepaid debit cards and girls who are unsure of what city they’re in.

How could one fit “an unusual collection of wigs” in a small amount of luggage?

Lying Down With Dogs (#430)

The idea that “not happening in front of this camera” = “eliminated” is a product of the same level of cognition that allows a toddler to conclude that if he can’t see you, you can’t see him either:

Security cameras installed…[in] “red light districts”…in Ho Chi Minh City’s Go Vap District have helped eliminate prostitution there…After seeing these cameras installed…potential guests do not dare enter…Such devices also help detect and prevent thefts and other social evils…police…[hope] the presence of such cameras [will force sex workers to]…give up the trade…

Crying for Nanny (#445)

The outcome was a foregone conclusion, and the lawyers who orchestrated this shitshow knew it:

A federal judge in Massachusetts dismissed a lawsuit brought against…Backpage.com over posting ads for the sexual trafficking of minors…the judge correctly concluded that Backpage.com couldn’t be sued for running the ads, relying largely on Section 230 (47 U.S.C. § 230), the law that immunizes websites from liability based on user-generated content…The plaintiffs in the case of Doe No. 1 v. Backpage.com, LLC are young women who were allegedly sold for sex as minors via ads placed on Backpage…[they] brought various claims against Backpage.com even though it did not have a hand in creating or posting the ads…the court rejected the plaintiffs’ argument that Section 230 did not apply to civil actions…[and] explained that it found EFF persuasive in arguing that the chilling effect of extending this exception to private actions would be particularly serious because they would not be subject to the filter of prosecutorial discretion and the heightened standard of proof present in criminal prosecutions…

Check Your Premises (#449)

What, not 50 or 100 per day?  Slackers.

The 18-year-old South Jersey woman arrested last month on charges she recruited a girl to be a prostitute was herself a victim of the…human trafficking ring recently broken up by federal and state investigators…the men who ran the prostitution ring forced a 14-year-old girl to have sex with up to 10 men a day…and…used violence and threats to control the girl and the 18-year-old…woman, who was also forced to become a prostitute…

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I’d rather drink and die.  –  Barbara Payton

I’ve often pointed out that the professions of actress and whore were at one time indistinguishable from one another, and that even now they are at best two branches of one stem (with a large area of overlap in porn and explicit general cinema).  Furthermore, it’s not unusual for actresses in difficult circumstances to practice the more stigmatized branch of our shared profession in a more direct fashion.  But generally, such deals are both highly discreet and in the “high end” price range; the case of Barbara Payton is an extreme and notable exception.

Barbara PaytonBarbara Lee Redfield was born in Cloquet, Minnesota on November 16th, 1927, to Erwin and Mabel Redfield.  Her family moved to Odessa, Texas when Barbara was 10, and though she was very  fortunate in the looks department of the genetic lottery, another of her inheritances eventually destroyed her: both parents were alcoholics.  Barbara eloped with her high-school boyfriend William Hodge just after her 15th birthday, and though her parents had the marriage annulled she was determined to get out of their house via matrimony; just two years later she dropped out of school and married a decorated combat pilot named John Payton, with whom she moved to Los Angeles.  Barbara dreamed of Hollywood success, and persuaded her husband to have some professional photos done; she quickly attracted attention and was a very successful model before she turned 20 (despite the birth of her son in March of 1947).

But success went to her head, and Payton eventually tired of being married to a party girl; they separated in July of 1948 and were divorced in 1950.  Her self-promotion had already attracted the attention of William Goetz of Universal Studios, however, and in January of 1949 he signed her to a $100/week contract (about $1000/week today).  After a couple of minor films, she won critical attention for her performance in Trapped (1949), and was highly praised for her work in Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (1950) opposite James Cagney.  The star’s brother, William Cagney, was so taken with her that he bought out her contact with Universal and got her one with Warner Brothers for $5,000/week, an unheard-of amount for such an inexperienced performer.  Despite this, her career began a sharp decline by the following year, when she appeared in Bride of the Gorilla (1951) with Raymond Burr; by 1955 Hollywood was done with her.  Ironically, her career was destroyed by the same thing which had first ignited it: her hard-partying lifestyle.

From the very beginning, Barbara used speed to keep her weight down, tranquilizers to sleep and alcohol for just about everything else.  She was incredibly promiscuous, and was not afraid to ask for money; soon after she signed with Universal she caught the eye of Bob Hope, who gave her an allowance and kept her in a luxurious apartment.  But Hope dumped her when she started demanding more money, and she took up with her drug dealer, a sometimes-movie-extra named Don Cougar; that ended sometime after Cougar beat up Payton’s elderly landlady over a rent dispute.  Over the next couple of years she is known to have been involved with Howard Hughes, Guy Madison, George Raft, John Ireland, Steve Cochran, Gregory Peck and Gary Cooper, plus many others who weren’t involved in the movie industry.  In 1950, Franchot Tone fell in love with her and proposed; she accepted, but began an affair with a minor actor named Tom Neal.  While Tone was away she even invited Neal to live with her (in the apartment Tone was paying for); when Tone returned she kicked him out.  She went back and forth between the two men until September 14th, 1951, when Neal beat Tone so severely he was hospitalized; she then married Tone on September 28th, lived with him for 53 days and then returned to Neal, who as you might expect beat her regularly as well.  The two never married, but stayed together for four years; and though both their careers were badly damaged by the scandal, the straw that broke the camel’s back in racist 1950s Hollywood was Payton’s relationship with her next boyfriend, black actor Woody Strode.

I Am Not AshamedHer life soon followed her career onto the rocks; she began pawning valuables to pay bar tabs and was arrested for giving bad checks to a liquor store.  She was temporarily reprieved in November of 1955 by marrying George Provas, a furniture store owner, but after their divorce in August of 1958 she resumed her downward spiral.  Her face and figure ruined by hard living, she was no longer able to attract patrons of the caliber of Bob Hope or Howard Hughes, and turned to streetwalking to survive; on February 7th of 1962 she was busted for prostitution on Sunset Boulevard.  She was homeless for much of that year, and was beaten on multiple occasions; she lost several teeth and once was severely stabbed.  In 1963 she got $1,000 for a ghostwritten autobiography entitled I Am Not Ashamed, but the money didn’t last long and things just kept getting worse.  In 1964 she was arrested for shoplifting, and in 1965 for possession of heroin.  Finally in 1967 she admitted she could not survive on her own, and moved back in with her parents (who now lived in San Diego); there she died on May 8th of heart and liver failure.  She was only 39 years old.

Barbara Payton had always been a whore from the time she first realized that she had sexual power over men, in her mid-teens; it’s a sign of our society’s deep misunderstanding of harlotry that nobody ever really accused her of it until she lost control of her behavior and was unable to actually make a living at it any more.  The most successful whores are never so labelled, and the greatest legal penalties and social stigma fall upon the least.

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A hidden sexual scourge is revealed.  Sex considered consensual by its participants is redefined as coercion.  A newly discovered predator…exhibits impulses far outside erotic and moral norms, yet rare as he must be, his numbers are inexplicably mounting.  There is a cry for vigilance and prosecution.  –  Judith Levine

Do As I Say, Not As I Do 

Cops can commit murder, mayhem and rape and still keep their jobs, but if they look for consensual sex…”The sheriff of Bossier Parish has fired one of his deputies…[who was] charged with solicitation of prostitution…Deputy Larry Harrell…was arrested in Shreveport…

Saving Them From Themselves

A 17-year-old who sent her boyfriend intimate photographs has been left shattered after police decided to charge him for possession of child pornography.  Alison (not her real name), who is four months away from being 18, says she’s been traumatised by the way that she and her partner Peter, 22, (also not his real name) have been treated by police, the stress of which has forced them both out of education…people aged 16 and 17 can legally consent to sex but can get into trouble for making “child pornography” if they possess and share images of their own lawful sexual activities…Alison and her mother are now calling for a change in the law to protect consenting couples from getting into distressing legal situations like this…”I feel my consent has been total violated by the people who are supposed to be protecting children…I chose to send pictures of myself to Peter.  I did NOT choose for all those detectives, solicitors and goodness knows who else to see them…”

Surplus Women Shukan Jitsuwa 5-14-15

The violent death of a sex worker in Japan:

Last month…police found the body of Manae Noguchi, 18, buried on a farm in Shibayama, Narita City…police have arrested four suspects…The victim was last seen getting into a rented car in Chiba City…at around 10:00 p.m. on April 19.  It was later determined that the occupants of the vehicle were the four suspects…an anonymous…tip…indicated Noguchi had run up a large amount of debt…

…and Hungary:

The Association of Hungarian Sex Workers (SZEXE)…condemns the victim-blaming articles and reports published in the media that followed the death of Nancy, a Hungarian sex worker who was murdered in…Budapest..the media focused on assumed client of Nancy instead of examining state regulation that coerces sex workers into isolation, exile and personal stigmatization, police violence…

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic 

When a respected scientist starts spouting nonsense terms, it’s time to put him out to pasture:

A leading psychologist has warned that young men are facing a crisis of masculinity due to excessive use of video games and pornography.  Psychologist and professor emeritus at Stanford University Phillip Zimbardo…spoke about the results of his study, an in-depth look into the lives of 20,000 young men and their relationships with video games and pornography…Zimbardo says there is a “crisis” amongst young men, a high number of whom are experiencing a “new form of addiction” to excessive use of pornography and video games…

Change a Few Words

Siouxsie Q on the really newsworthy question about sex work in Silicon Valley:

Why are many tech platforms so inhospitable to sex workers?  Payment processors like Pay Pal and WePay are notorious for shutting down the accounts of sex workers and even seizing their funds.  Facebook has booted hundreds of sex workers, including myself, from its platform with the adoption if its “real name policy;” and both the Apple and the Android app stores prohibit adult content of any kind.  Venture capitalists have been willing to go toe-to-toe with lawmakers to obtain legal wiggle room for companies like Uber and AirBnB, that dance the razor’s edge of legality…They argue that…though these services may be technically illegal at the moment, they perpetuate victimless crimes — peer-to-peer transactions that benefit both the buyer and the seller — and therefore the laws need be changed to catch up with the innovation.  The same argument could be made of…sex work…though technically illegal, it is a peer-to-peer transaction that often perpetuates a victimless crime.  But no headstrong venture capitalist or idealistic design team has stepped up to innovate the oldest profession…

An Example To the West

Phnom Penh sex workers and rights advocates met…to denounce police brutality and corruption, and called on the government to establish a zone where sex workers can operate in safety.  The plea was made during a press conference led by NGO Women’s Network for Unity (WNU), which was attended by around 100 sex workers, who complained police often sought bribes or sexual services…prior to the introduction of a 2008 law intended to combat human trafficking, brothels operated openly.  But…the law heralded a brutal crackdown that saw women and girls…mistreated and stigmatised by officials…researchers found that the heavy-handed response of authorities…forced sex workers into more precarious settings for their work, placing them in greater danger of rape and sexual assault…

The Widening Gyre Walking Prey

It’s everywhere! It’s everywhere!

A woman who was lured into commercial sex when she was 14 brought a warning to Charleston parents…Just about any unhappy teen can be enticed in the same way, according to Holly Austin Smith, who…[wrote] Walking Prey: How America’s Youth Are Vulnerable to Sex Slavery…At the same time as Smith was speaking in Charleston, S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson was giving a similar message to a Rotary Club in Mount Pleasant.  “Trafficking is far more nefarious than what you see in Hollywood,” Wilson said…He [made up]…a story of a woman…who was blackmailed into sex trafficking…For two years she was trafficked over and over and over again…[while] living under her parents’ roof and they did not realize she was being trafficked…Wilson has been tirelessly [pretending]…that sex trafficking is a major threat in South Carolina.  Yet the arrests on trafficking charges have been relatively few since the state passed its law in 2012…

Shift in the Wind

Imagine if big foundations started giving grants for sex worker advocacy:

The health and safety of sex workers…[is] yet another example of how marginalized populations are often left out of essential public policy discussions…due to the social stigma of sex work, people are generally more comfortable avoiding the issue…the issue of sex-worker rights is still taboo among some of the leading [philanthropic] foundations.  But if these foundations recognized how sex work is connected to other issues that funders are working on—like over-incarceration, homelessness, and poverty—the work they do could be more effective…The safety of sex workers…would also be greatly improved by decriminalization.  Because of criminalization, sex workers are at greater danger for physical and sexual violence, because perpetrators know they are unlikely to come forward to police.  With decriminalization, more sex workers could report the violence they experience, making the community safer for everyone…

The Public Eye

a…special edition of [of TMI (Too Much Information) Storytelling] called Sex Worker Diaries…kicks off the weeklong San Francisco Bay Area Sex Worker Film And Arts Festival, which features lives performances, film screenings, workshops, and panels throughout the East Bay and San Francisco…the festival…showcases a diverse range of artistic projects rooted in celebrating, supporting, and accurately portraying people involved in the sex work industry.  The goal is to push back against the ongoing criminalization and stigmatization of sex work — by providing a platform for marginalized workers in a highly misunderstood profession to share their stories and show audiences they aren’t helpless victims…

Welcome To Our World (#450)

Henry…Rayhons’s ordeal was not the first example of overzealous protection of the supposedly defenseless and asexual aged, nor will it be the last.  In 2009, a Massachusetts bill sought to amend the state’s child pornography law to include the disabled and people over sixty among those statutorily unable to consent to posing nude or performing sexually before a camera…The bill’s lead sponsor, thirty-eight-year-old…Kathi-Anne Reinstein—also author of a proposal to make the Fluffernutter the state sandwich—told the Boston Herald that advocates had informed her “elder exploitation and pornography [were] on the rise.”  She called her bill (which, thankfully, failed) a “no-brainer.”  This assessment, I commented at the time, was indisputable…

Public Property (#506)

Men urged to control uppity women by choking off their income:

…a Dallas anti-[sex worker] group is telling men to stop paying women for sex…New Friends New Life…is asking men to stop buying sex and patronizing strip clubs.  It also plans to create an emblem for businesses to display to show they don’t fund business meetings at strip clubs…experts say…the average age of a girl first sold into prostitution is 13…it will take time for attitudes to change about…strip clubs…some of the women who work there aren’t there of their own volition and are barred from leaving…Chris Kleinert said…“No father, when their daughter’s born, says ‘Wow, I can’t wait for her to be violated 10,000 times by the time she’s 21 years old’,”…

Just for comparison:  I’ve had roughly 5000 in my entire career.

Broken Record (#536) 

That so many people could believe in such lunacy explains a lot about the world:

…Houston is…a major hub for human slavery and sex trafficking in the United States.  For years, this intersection of business and widespread prostitution has provided a boon to sex traffickers in Houston every year.  However, the difference this year is a coalition of anti-human trafficking organizations who have joined with city law enforcement and conference organizers to combat the widespread sex trafficking that usually occurs during this event…OTC conference staff have been trained in identifying suspicious sex trafficking activities, law enforcement set up  prostitution stings, and volunteers hit the city streets to raise awareness…the majority of sex victims brought in to service the convention is between the ages of 12 to 14 years old…OTC also warned conference attendees against participating in sex slavery…

Yes, they’re essentially saying that their silly chanting and rattle-shaking scared away the demonic “pimps”.

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Sex workers know that they are generally not thought of as human by police.  –  Kristina Dolgin

Old Men and Young Women

Old people must be punished for being sexual:

…a man living in a suburban Philadelphia assisted-living facility has lost his housing subsidy after officials found a prostitute underneath his bed…the man, believed to be in his 70s, paid prostitutes using profits earned from peddling alcohol to fellow residents…

Surplus Women Lidia Pascale

A prostitute allegedly killed by one of her customers kept her working life secret from a friend, a murder trial has been told.  Lidia Pascale’s body was discovered…in a wheelie bin…two weeks after she had been killed.  Matthew Cherrington, 32, has denied murder.  Adrian Albulescu …drove [Pascale] to the address…When she failed to reappear after an hour he phoned her “many times” but her mobile was switched off…he also knocked at the door but got no reply…

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic 

Paging Dr. David Ley:

…as a sex addiction/trauma therapist…I have spent many hours reading testimonials of former sex workers, many who started their sex working career as a stripper [sic].  I have come to believe strip clubs exploit wounded women who often have severe trauma in their backgrounds…It is very difficult to disconnect emotionally for dancers who perform lap dances or oral sex for money.  Many strippers display post traumatic stress disorder symptoms and will often times self-medicate with alcohol or other drugs…Some women in the sex industry develop their own sex addiction as a result of the neuro chemical changes in their brain…Many attendees to strip clubs struggle with communication and intimacy with their wives or partners, which can promote a secret life.  A secret life also changes the neuro chemistry in the brain…Often sex addiction co-exists with another addiction such as alcohol or drugs, gambling and sexual anorexia.  So…men who go to the strip clubs are also being exploited…Recovery from sex addiction requires exposing the trauma, stopping the behavior, and a commitment to rewire the brain through therapy…

Regarding the notion that the brain can be “rewired” through therapy: that sure worked out for all the gay people who sought to be “cured”, didn’t it?

Broken Record 

Even “sex trafficking” fetishists now have to address the debunking of one of their pet myths:

…[Prohibitionists claim] they want to fight the forced sex work…that they say is sure to spike during the many Super Bowl events in the Bay Area preceding the game on Feb. 7.  And, perhaps more so, they want to use the football extravaganza…as a platform for their cause.  But the linking of human trafficking to the Super Bowl and other sporting events in recent years has prompted a backlash.  Critics say evidence of the relationship is weak and overblown, and…sex workers…say the pressure to crack down on prostitution hurts them…But [prohibitionists pretend]…it worsens around big events that draw big spenders.  They must, they say, use whatever tool they can to attack [sex work]…

King of the Hill

I literally laughed out loud reading this:

…North Carolina regularly ranks in the top 10 worst states for the illegal act.  This statistic came as a shock to audience members at a seminar…Many let out gasps…Emily Fitchpatrick…of On Eagles Wings Ministries…[said] “Charlotte is the No. 1 city for human trafficking”…the girls like it so much because they make a lot of money…[there, cop mouthpiece Joel] Shores said…“There have been no arrests, but it is a problem…It’s easier to sell a woman than it is to sell drugs…”…Shores also talked about his campaign to…[arrest people for] sexting and how it can lead to becoming part of this growing illegal industry.  “We need to let these women and girls know that they have worth [by arresting them]”…

Comfort Zone (#320)

“…immigration controls are claimed to be a mechanism of protection for migrants, rather than a mechanism of oppression…”:  “Ottawa police say 11 women will be deported after a human trafficking investigation into commercial massage parlours…All 11 were found to be working without a valid work permit…

The Roof Caves In

She’s like the proverbial bad penny:

Disgraced anti-trafficking activist Somaly Mam on Monday appeared on television to promote Afesip, the NGO that she founded…and to ask for donations from Cambodian viewers.  Ms. Mam resigned as president of the Somaly Mam Foundation last year after media reports revealed she had fabricated her backstory and coached young girls to lie about their past in order to raise funds. She resigned from Afesip in 2013…

Bad Girls (#429) 

The details surrounding 27-year-old Alix Tichelman’s arrest in Santa Cruz last July—the Lifetime-esque sting operation, the “Harbor Hooker” hook, the drugs, the Google executive with a $345K yacht—were every reporter’s wet dream.  But some activists believe the case against her has been distorted by media bias against sex workers…Kristina Dolgin…[of] Red Light Legal…reached out to Tichelman…to offer additional legal services and support; she says she wants people to remember that Tichelman is innocent until proven guilty, regardless of her profession.  “They’re using language that is clearly seeking to demonize [Tichelman], strip her of her humanity and make her less than a person—to be vilified and not protected,” Dolgin says…

Served Cold Operation Underground Railroad

If this doesn’t make you nervous, you haven’t been paying attention:

…Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes announced today he will testify on Thursday, May 14, 2015 at a Congressional hearing titled A Pathway to Freedom: Rescue and Refuge for Sex Trafficking Victims…Reyes participated in a rescue sting operation with Operation Underground Railroad in Colombia where he and several others liberated over 120 young children from a modern-day sex slavery ring operated by a network of human traffickers.  Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R) Founder and CEO and former CIA agent and special agent for the Department of Homeland Security Tim Ballard will also testify on the growth of NGO rescue operations and how organizations such as O.U.R. can complement government agencies in expediting human and child sex trafficking rescue and rehabilitation efforts worldwide…

Naming a fascist organization which works with government to enforce the status quo after an historical organization dedicated to opposing the government-enforced status quo makes me want to throw up.

Dutch Threat (#534)

More on Dutch sex workers’ protests, from regular reader Frans van Rossum:

As sex workers fight back against the Mayor of Amsterdam’s attempt to “legalise” violating their privacy rights, they receive some unexpected and unprecedented support from Magda Berndsen-Jansen, a member of parliament…Her parliamentary enquiry…demands answers to the very questions raised by newly founded sex worker organisation PROUD [and] proves that sex workers are finally being heard…Amsterdam’s mayor Eberhard van der Laan…[wants] city administrations nationwide to collect and…share personal data about sex workers, which the Dutch Privacy Protection Law explicitly  prohibits to be collected and shared…[in order] “to combat human trafficking effectively…and…to promote the self-reliance of prostitutes” …if this were to happen, all sex workers could consider  themselves de facto outlaws despite the fact that sex work…has been legal in the Netherlands since 1811, and still is…Berndsen-Jansen…demands no less than that sex workers are being treated equally under the law, just as anyone else…

Marching Up Their Own Arses (#535)

This story just keeps getting more horrible:

Producers employed by Relativity Media, the production company behind A&E’s 8 Minutes, manipulated sex workers and did not prioritize their privacy, [said] a person who worked…for the production’s unaired pilot…neither Relativity nor A&E had any intention of directly helping the women, but instead referred them to a local organization in Las Vegas…Mark, whose name has been changed to protect his anonymity, [said]…“Anybody can be pointed to resources …I can tell you, ‘If you’re hungry, you can go to CVS, there’s a bag of chips there that you can afford’.”  The charges of manipulation and indifference to privacy are very similar to allegations made by sex workers who were filmed for episodes of 8 Minutes that did begin airing…one of them said the “resource” she was given was just the phone number of a counselor.  The interviews with the sex workers, which Mark said usually lasted about an hour, as opposed to the eight minutes suggested by the series, lulled the women “into a false sense of security”…Early in the shoot, the production would start filming the women’s interaction with…Kevin Brown before they were aware that there were cameras; when these unwitting sex workers were surprised by the revelation that Brown is a pastor, most of them would quickly leave the hotel room…[so] the production changed tactics, informing the women beforehand that this was for a show so that they would stay…

Welcome To Our World (#536)

Looks like the expensive salons are trying to drive out their more reasonably-priced competition:

…scores of New York City women say they are disgusted that many nail salons pay their workers next to nothing, and vowed to try to help change things by seeking out higher-end shops, tipping more — or even foregoing the finger and toe pampering altogether.  “It’s just bad. It starts to feel like prostitution [with the exploitation of women],’’ said Sara Bashor…“I don’t feel good supporting it.”  Gov. Cuomo announced …that he is creating a multiagency Enforcement Task Force to fine or shut down nail salons caught violating labor laws.  The heightened regulation came [after] a report that the salon industry in and around the city was rife with exploitation as workers — mostly undocumented women — earn paltry wages while breathing in hazardous fumes and plastic dust…

The astounding ignorance of amateurs is highlighted by the notion that whores make low pay under bad conditions.

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The fatality rate of sex workers is more than twice the rate of the most fatal “legitimate” job on the books (logging), but from what I can find, the majority of fatalities are concentrated among street workers.  A lot of the things that make street work dangerous are the same things that make it dangerous to be a taxi driver:  working at night, working alone, handling cash, etc.  But sex workers are murdered at a rate ten times higher than taxi drivers, and I think it’s because of criminalization.  Street workers avoid arrest by getting off the street as quickly as possible.  They have no time to screen, very little time to negotiate, and next to no control over their environment once they get into the car, and can’t even go to the police if anything happens.  But the majority of sex workers are “indoor” workers, and their fatality rate is much lower than street workers.  Part of it is that they’re not forced to work at night or in high crime areas, but I think it’s also important that they avoid arrest by screening and just being extremely cautious in general.  Do you think that would change if sex work was legalized?  Without the threat of arrest to keep escorts cautious, would escorting become a more dangerous profession?

Fox in the HenhouseThe murder rate for street workers is not really as high as these studies claim; they’re based in the assumption that the sex worker population can be accurately estimated, which is a mighty stretch indeed.  It is extremely likely that the total population is dramatically undercounted in these studies, but nobody cares because they want the sex work murder rate to come out much higher than it really is to provide a pretext for banning it.

That having been said, the murder rate for outdoor workers is still outrageously high, largely for the reasons you surmise but also for the fact that violent men purposefully seek out sex workers because, as Robert Pickton pointed out, nobody notices or cares when they vanish.  That simply isn’t true for indoor workers, who tend to have better social networks; their death or disappearance would be noticed just as quickly as any other woman’s.  While it’s true that escorts are forced to be even more careful because of criminalization, that vigilance all goes toward the organized predators who inflict the lion’s share of violence on sex workers: the police.  So yes, removing criminalization might make escorts less careful…but they wouldn’t need to be so cautious because the most dangerous and numerous predators would also be gone.  Under decriminalization, violence against sex workers is much lower than even in legalized regimes, and much lower than under criminalization, a system in which the foxes are set to guard the henhouse, and nobody notices or cares how many chickens they satisfy their appetites upon.

(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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The enforcement of anti-trafficking laws…[has always grown] the power of the state while criminalising the behaviour of migrating women.  –  Jessica Pliley

Whore Madonnas

Social wisdom would have us believe that sex industry workers are terrible parents who routinely jeopardize their children’s safety by bringing “perverts” around, leaving them to raise themselves, and setting an example of depravity.  Social wisdom is INCORRECT.  Children of sex workers…are more likely to be level-headed, socially aware, critical thinkers.  Rather than putting their parents through a lot of grief, they are strong allies of their parents.  Gutsy, confident, young people who speak their minds and care about others…

The Red Umbrella 

Gail Brown…worked as a private escort and [Warren] Mann, a long haul truck driver, was a regular client.  But Mann fell in love and wanted a relationship.  When she wouldn’t give him that, he flew into a cold rage and tried to kill her July 26, 2012.  Brown’s teenaged daughter, Kayla…ran into her mother’s room…as Mann straddled her and repeatedly smashed her head on the floor…she ran for help while Mann made an eerie 911 call…to report [himself]…Brown’s liver was busted into multiple pieces, she suffered severe head trauma, her throat and larynx were crushed…For two months, Brown lay in coma…her memory is poor, her health is bad, and she suffers permanent physical and emotional pain, she can still walk, although with a limp…

My Readers Write Kirsten Gillibrand

Absolute genius from Mark Draughn:

Last summer, on June 28th, I saw Arizona Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand place an 8-week old calico kitten in a DeWalt 5-quart blender and press the start button, killing it instantly. She then feasted hungrily on the bloody remains, consuming the poor creature, scales and all. It is the single most vile act of animal cruelty I have ever witnessed, and by coming forward now, I hope to put a spotlight on the problem of animal cruelty…

And it gets much, much better from there.

Full of Themselves (#4)

One of the latest examples of shaming strippers comes from a community that appropriates stripper traditions, but vehemently denies any association with the sex industry. Many pole dance hobbyists, or women who practice the pole dancing fitness trend, are on a mission to distance themselves from exotic dancers.  That’s what happened last weekend in Beijing, when competitive pole athletes at the World Pole Dance Championships set the record straight to the AFP that their sport is inspired by ancient Indian and Chinese dance traditions and has absolutely no relationship to strippers who might claim otherwise…

Above the Law 

This article is no surprise to regular readers, who know that cops commit rape at a rate several times that of men in the general population.  But it’s nice to see SOMEBODY in the media acknowledging that rapist cops aren’t “a few bad apples” engaging in “isolated incidents”:

…sexual misconduct is the nation’s second most reported allegation of officer misconduct, according to a 2013 report by the Cato Institute.  Nevertheless, broad narratives of police brutality tend to ignore both female victims and the often specific nature of the violence leveled against them in favor of focusing on the highly visible use of weapons to kill men…Women are subject not only to differential forms of violence by police, but also to entrenched stereotypes surrounding sexual assault, which may further inhibit their seeking justice for this abuse…

The Widening Gyre 

This rather ordinary anti-streetwalker nonsense bears clear signs of infection by “sex trafficking” tropes:

…[Luton] residents who say the area has become a “designated hub” for prostitution…The police, who are two years into a five-year anti-prostitution strategy, said they have seen “significant improvements” in ending the trade…Mr Khadam said:  “The new girls are teenagers and one of them I saw was quite short only about 5’2″ and I am quite concerned about that”…Matt Ryan said:  “High Town has become a processing hub/centre for street prostitution”…Wendy Walker…said…”You get kerb crawlers stopping and asking if you want business, even if you are a disabled, old pensioner or a pregnant woman.”  A Bedfordshire Police spokeswoman said…”The operation has also resulted in the detection of other criminality…including alcohol and drug-related crime and anti-social behaviour…Our multi-agency approach aims to support women to leave sex work and to lead crime free, healthy and happy lives.”

busybodiesIt’s hard to pick the funniest part of this; is it the cop pretense that the world’s oldest profession can be “ended” by cop violence, and in 5 years no less? Is it the old lady’s sexual fantasy that punters still find her desirable? Or is it the notion that a woman who’s 5’2″ tall must be a teenager?

So Close and Yet So Far

Dear would-be allies, please talk to the actual experts on sex work – sex workers ourselves – before belching up a bunch of asinine myths, bogus statistics and wrongheaded opinions in an attempt to speak up for us:

It often feels like the only barrier is a society of puritanical simpletons, but there are legitimate concerns…If legalized, the unsafe, archetypal pattern of pimp and hooker and trick could be readily dissolved.  In a study of 854 street prostitutes, 95 percent had been physically assaulted and 75 percent raped.  This exploitative model could be easily transformed to the healthier brothel system.  Nevada is already ahead of its time with 19 legal brothels, all requiring condoms and weekly tests for sexual transmitted diseases…pragmatic legalization could end the unhealthy reality of street hooking…

Bread and Circuses 

The “sex trafficking” circus needs victims to die for the crowd’s satisfaction:

…the FBI…trumpeted the federal jury conviction of “sex trafficking ring leader” Hortencia Medeles-Arguello, a 71-year-old Houston woman…was…found…guilty of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking, conspiracy to harbor aliens, aiding and abetting to commit money laundering, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.  She…faces life in prison.  The feds also seized $2.5 million in assets…So who is this apparent criminal mastermind, and how did she oversee an enterprise involving at least 13 sex-traffickers and countless trafficking victims?  Well, she owned a bar. And she didn’t ask too many questions about what people were doing in rented rooms upstairs…The FBI contends that Arguello “should have known” that some of those selling sex in her establishment “were either underage or victims of the beatings by their pimps”…

There will be many more such travesties before this is over, and they’ll rot in prison for about two decades until their convictions are reversed as those of Satanic panic victims have been.

Here We Go Again (#504)

The more of Jessica Pliley’s work I read, the more I like her:

In its 140-year history of fighting sex trafficking, the United States has always prioritised law enforcement, border control, and national security over aid to victims or concerns about privacy…the Immigration Bureau sought to build a stronger moral wall at the border in order to better identify sex workers who were evading the law.  It asked Congress to fortify the 1875 law with the Immigration Acts of 1903, 1907, 1910, and 1917.  Combined, these outlawed the importation of sex workers, women coming for other “immoral” purposes, and men demonstrating “moral turpitude”.  They also made the acts of procuring, pimping, and sex work deportable offences.  With each additional law, the Immigration Bureau found itself in need of more manpower to carry out its mandate, surveilling the borders and the interior of the country in order to ensure both remained secure…

Marching Up Their Own Arses (#525)

The truth about the anti-whore “reality” show, 8 Minutes:

…one woman, who goes by Kamylla…received a call on her work number from the producers of the show, who immediately identified themselves as such (this is in contrast to the premise of the show, which implies that the women believe they are coming to a normal appointment)…She agreed to tape a segment for the show, in which she said she wanted help getting out of the business…She never heard back from them, and instead reached out herself, but no meaningful help was to come.  Kamylla found herself broke and needing to work again.  She posted an ad…and was arrested in a sting.  Now she was broke, frightened, and facing criminal charges, and when she reached out for help from 8 Minutes, Brown offered to pray for her…Kamylla wrote to Dan Savage after seeing a mention of the program on The Stranger’s blog, and Savage put her in touch with prominent Seattle sex worker activist Mistress Matisse.  Matisse leapt into action and began soliciting donations from trusted friends to help Kamylla with her immediate crisis.  Other members of the community soon followed: Domina Elle and Tara Burns helped create a website to tell her story…Kamylla’s own description of her experience in this Storify…[makes] it clear how little help she received in exchange for being fodder for reality TV…

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To force through a bad law you seize on a convenient…victim, and declare that its sufferings trump all the traditions and rights of free citizenship.  –  Lloyd Evans

The Red Umbrella Hardeep Sandhu

A man who raped a prostitute for TWO HOURS after knocking her unconscious with a brick has been jailed for 15 years.  Hardeep Sandhu, 39, beat his victim with a brick until she passed out and then repeatedly raped her for two hours as she went in and out of consciousness.  She suffered multiple injuries to her head, face, arms and hands during the prolonged attack in a garden near Hartington Street in Derby…

Size Matters

This ain’t gonna work, y’all:

Last fall, The Social Club of Nashville left its current quarters for an isolated office park a few miles away.  Owners spent $750,000 on the building and began renovations fit for “a private club for the enjoyment” of sexual activity.  But when neighbors figured out the nature of club members’ intended socializing, they packed the city council in support of a zoning change which would prevent The Social Club from opening…So…it will now open as the United Fellowship Center, a house of unorthodox religious worship.  The dance floor is now a “sanctuary.”  The dungeon is now a choir room.  And dozens of small, private spaces have been designated “prayer rooms.”  The United Fellowship Center has even gotten a city permit to meet as a church…

Stand-Up Guys 

We need a LOT more men to write like this rather than licking neofeminist boots:

What strikes men about feminism’s approach to the sex trade is that it relies on a simplistic dichotomy: victims/abusers.  Female victims…and male abusers…Feminists like to promote the “predator myth”…which argues that porn and prostitution…encourage men to attack women.  However, the most basic statistic overturns this theory.  How many men use porn?  All men.  How many men assault women?  Few men…I’ve never seen a single erotic scenario featuring coerced or battered women…the idea that porn converts men into rapists…sends…the individual [sex worker]…the message…”Dressed like that you’re asking for it”.  Quite a familiar line.  But not often heard from women’s rights campaigners…the law’s supporters…say [it] is part of the war against slavery…Trafficked people…pick lettuces, but we don’t ban salad.  They hoover carpets, but we don’t outlaw rugs and vacuum cleaners.  They care for children, but should we all sterilise ourselves?…

The Scarlet Letter (#19)

Greece’s government announced…the abolition of a controversial health and hygiene regulation that allowed authorities to publish the details, including photographs, of workers that had tested HIV positive.  This is the second time the regulation has been abolished since its first introduction in 2012…the law led to the publication of women’s photographs in the press, arrested as prostitutes, as a means to “protect” public health.  Its implementation had led to a storm of protests and reactions over the public humiliation of the women involved, as well as for trampling their fundamental rights and the patient-doctor confidentiality…

The Widening Gyre 

This is extra-stupid and dishonest even by prohibitionist standards:

Women rent their bodies as a choice: a myth. Pornography is a harmless spectator sport: a lie. Both enable slavery, often with teenagers plucked from American neighborhoods. Sex trafficking is a $32 billion dollar industry worldwide. That only marginalized women fall prey is another false assumption…Pimps will recruit anyone, and white girls are more profitable,” said Audrey Morrissey…of My Life, My Choice…American culture lifts up female independence, which includes personal sexual choices…Many argue that stripping, for example, is a way to pay for college or to support a family. Fact: only 5 percent of female sex workers make and keep their money. The rest are prostituted through force and coercion in an industry led by men…

The Day of the Dead (#44) we don't buy it

China is cracking down on exotic dancers at funerals, the Ministry of Culture said April 23.  Although such entertainment is not widespread, strippers are thought to attract more people to a funeral, which is a sign of respect for the dead. Two recent cases “have been punished”…

The Public Eye (#324)

Another good profile of my friend Laura Lee:

Dubliner Laura Lee has the self-assurance of someone who has packed several lifetimes into her 40 years.  After a couple of cul-de-sacs in law and banking, Lee has returned to the job that funded her first law degree: sex work…“I’m not going to say, ‘I love my job’.  I don’t know any of my friends who leap out of bed on Monday morning and go, ‘Yes, work!’ ” she says.  “But I do choose to do it.  I enjoy the freedom is gives me in terms of managing my finances, spending time with my family and studying”…

Traffic Circle

As I predicted, articles questioning “sex trafficking” are now becoming more common in mainstream media:

…the Global Slavery Index (GSI), which received fawning publicity, including in The Washington Post….estimated that there were 29.8 million people in “modern slavery” around the world.  In November 2014, the GSI unveiled what it described as a more precise estimate: 35.8 million people.  That’s an increase of 6 million people!  What’s going on here?…there is a large gulf between the estimates of tens of millions of victims and the actual number of identified “survivors” — 44,000 at last count.  (This number is also a bit dubious)…the GSI figure has come under attack from other researchers for having a murky, inconsistent and questionable methodology…Clearly there is a problem with the numbers when the U.S. government cites a figure of 20 million and a well-funded, media-savvy organization touts a figure of “slaves” that is almost twice as high.  Media organizations are complicit in fostering misperceptions by often citing these figures as established fact, without even an explanation or examination of the methodology…these Pinocchios are for all-too-credulous acceptance of them…

Business As Usual

On 30 January, a mesmerizing report was launched at the Asia-Pacific Intergovernmental Meeting on HIV in Bangkok:  The Right(s) Evidence—Sex Work, Violence And HIV In Asia: A Multi-Country Qualitative Study.  It is a ground-breaking piece of work for several reasons.  It involved an unusual collaboration among governments, sex-worker organizations, communities, UN agencies, and regional agencies in Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal and Sri Lanka.  It is full of fascinating insights into the lives of women, men and transgender people in the sex industry.  It finds compelling evidence of widespread violence…and…points to a culture of impunity among the police, doctors, and other powerful players that in turn increases the threats of violence, trauma, disease and despair among sex workers, and by extension their families, communities, and customers…you’ve never heard of it…[because] it was greeted with “absolute and total silence”…the media is scared to touch it [because] the data is very clearly saying that the police are the biggest violators…

Worse Than I Thought (#531)

“…even if they appear to have been staked and beheaded“:

With an agreement now reached on (not) funding abortions for trafficking victims, the U.S. Senate voted unanimously…to pass the “Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act” (JVTA)…with little fanfare or discussion, Senators tacked on a late amendment to the legislation which radically alters the rules for Internet publishers.  Known as the “Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation” (SAVE) Act, the change is vehemently opposed by a broad coalition of free speech, web publishing, and civil liberties advocates.  If the SAVE amendment ultimately passes…it would go against decades of precedent related to web publishers and user-generated content.  In general, the owners of websites and online publications cannot be held criminally liable for the things that random people post. Under the new rules, however, these entities could be charged as sex traffickers if it turns out any trafficking victims are advertised on the site.  Sponsors have specifically stated that their intent is to shut down, or at least seriously cripple…Backpage.com…

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