Posts Tagged ‘Washington DC’

Sex workers will only put up with being misunderstood and harassed and arrested…for so long.  –  Cameryn MooreCynthia Payne

R.I.P. Cynthia Payne

The former brothel owner Cynthia Payne…has died aged 82…She first achieved notoriety in 1978 when police raided a “sex party” at her home in Streatham, south London, that was, in her own words “in full swing…When the case came to court in 1980, I was sent to prison for 18 months…but on appeal, this was reduced to six months and a hefty fine”…In a second trial in 1987, Payne was acquitted of controlling prostitutes…Her colourful life inspired two films, both released in 1987: Wish You Were Here…and Personal Services

The More the Better

thanks…to [the success of] a monthly storytelling event in Manhattan known as “The Red Umbrella Diaries”…sex workers are telling their stories to an even larger audience with the release of a new documentary of the same name…the original storytelling event launched in 2009…[and] was a chance for sex workers to openly share the kinds of stories they had long kept to themselves…Most media about sex work strives to be sexy, says Audacia Ray…but that’s not what the film is about…Ray says she hopes the documentary will “complicate” common notions about sex work…

Above the Law 

Sometimes cops even rape other cops:

A [fairly typical cop]…who stole public funds before faking his own murder also abused his position to bully a junior colleague into sex…Charles Joseph Gliniewicz, 52, was mourned as a fallen hero in Lake County, Illinois after he was gunned down by “armed suspects” on the eve of his retirement.  But investigators revealed…that…he…shot himself in the chest and staged the crime scene because he feared his corruption was about to be exposed.  Gliniewicz…embezzled a “five figure sum” from the Explorers youth training scheme and instead spent it on vacations, mortgage payments and adult websites…in 2009 a letter was sent to then then-mayor, Cynthia Irwin…alleging sexual harassment of a dispatcher…he [also racked up]…complaints from bouncers at local bars for being drunk and belligerent, as well as…[raping] Denise Sharpe Gretz, a [policewoman]…on five occasions…

I’m Sure You Feel Safer Now

The brave heroes of Washington DC put a stop to the menace of rogue twerkers:

A Las Vegas woman has been arrested for sexual assault after she and a friend twerked up against and groped at a male stranger in a D.C. convenience store.  One of the women also put her arms around him and attempted to kiss him…22-year-old Ayanna Marie Knight…[is] charged with third-degree sexual abuse.  If convicted, Knight could face a fine of up to $25,000 and up to 10 years in prison…”The search for the other woman in the video continues,” DCist reports…the man in the video—a D.C. teacher who wishes to remain anonymous—suggested that the women may have been trying to solicit him for prostitution or steal his wallet, and also that they might have been “men dressed like women”…As a proponent of gender-blind law, I understand…men have as much of a right as women not to be grabbed at by strangers in public.  Yet something about the whole business rubs me the wrong way…we seem to be headed toward a world where there can be zero ambiguity about even the mildest romantic or sexual advance without it being considered sexual assault…

Bottleneck (#135)

The narrower the neck, the more “illegal” sex work there will be:

Playboy.com took a peek into “New York’s underground lap dance parties” recently.  Essentially pop-up strip clubs sans the pole dancing, the parties feature pretty women willing to offer lap-dances and sometimes make-out sessions for $20 a song.  They switch locations around the city to avoid hassle from regulators and law enforcement…The piece goes on to…women working these clubs, strangely fixating on the fact these women are “girl next door” types, more wholesome than your average stripper allegedly is.  It’s the sort of distinction you also see made in pieces about “sugar babies,” and seems to work as a defense mechanism for both women working these gigs and men availing their services…While underground lap-dance clubs in New York City may not be new…New York City has also been cracking down on traditional strip clubs, using zoning and liquor laws to shut them down…These measures have also made it incredibly difficult for new strip clubs to open…

Policing for Profit 

Little Tin Gods

People sometimes ask me why I moved out of Louisiana.

…the names of the [cops] who [murdered] 6-year-old Jeremy Mardis…were released to the public.  It didn’t take long for local press to uncover extensive rap sheets for both officers, which included two indictments for aggravated rape.  Derrick Stafford…also has five pending civil suits against him for various complaints of excessive force, including breaking the arm of a 14-year-old girl on a school bus as well as assaulting and pepper-spraying a 15-year-old boy…Norris Greenhouse Jr…is named in several of the same suits for acting in tandem with Stafford…

Something Rotten in Sweden (#445)

With the exception of a few ideologues, the field of economics has pretty much come over to our side:

Peter Antonioni, co-author of Economics for Dummies…described how…criminalising…clients was akin to the economics of a banking crisis…”if you are in the nice guy category [and paying for sex is criminalised] you are probably not likely to take the risk or at least at some level you are going to be less likely to do so.  That then leaves in the market only the customers that the sex worker would prefer to reject.  Because half of their customers have dropped out of the market they are now under pressure to take anything available.”

Vendetta (#568)

They’re “changing hearts and minds”, all right, but against their tyranny:

City leaders are stepping up their attack on sex buyers in Phoenix in the wake of a prominent billboard campaign that began in July.  “This…is going to be a consistent effort for years and years until [Swanee Hunt’s money runs out]”…Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said…Cindy McCain had been [conspiring] with the Polaris Project, an anti-[sex worker corporation]…Angie Bayless is local coordinator for [Swanee Hunt’s front organization] CEASE…“We are changing hearts and minds about prostitution,” Bayless said…

Pearls Firmly Clutched (#571) 

Tits and Sass interviews Suzy Favor Hamilton:

…I wish that every time I express my pride in my own sexuality, or speak with any degree of positiv[ity] about my experience, about fellow sex workers, or about consensual sex work in general, the public did not immediately go to the “she’s not well” assumption.  Listen, I’ll always be bipolar.  I’ll be manic some days.  I’ll be depressed some days.  I’ll be “off” some days.  But the whole idea that any degree of support I offer for sex work and sex workers means I’m not well is insulting…

Against the Tide

With all the real information about sex workers available, and the receding support for prohibitionism, ignorant, pearl-clutching screeds like this are beginning to seem almost quaint:

…About 80 percent who work in the sex industry aren’t there by choice.  They are coerced.  They are threatened.  They are trafficked…These women are beaten.  Their families are threatened.  Their pimps, who are really their captors, hold their car deeds and immigration status and sometimes their families’ safety hostage.  When they aren’t monsters, they’re manipulators who use affection, love and security to lure women and girls deeper into their dark worlds.  Prostitution is now a crime against humanity, and we’re glad to see law enforcement cracking down on it, the pimps who run it and the johns who perpetrate it…We need to support our legislators who push for even tougher laws to punish pimps keeping the girls captive…

Welcome To Our World (#584)

The New York Times apologizes for libeling nail salons, kind of:

In the wake of an exhaustive three-part series by Reason‘s Jim Epstein, New York Times‘ Public Editor Margaret Sullivan has acknowledged that the paper’s May expose of the nail salon industry “went too far” in its claims…alas…she defends the Times‘ slowness to respond to Epstein’s criticism by legitimating epistemic closure of the worst kind:  “Until now, The Times has not responded…because they think the magazine, which generally opposes regulation, is reporting from a biased point of view.”  That’s a pretty amazing admission that the Times will do whatever it can to avoid uncomfortable scrutiny.  Yes, Reason is explicitly libertarian…What that has to do with factual assertions and a very clear, step-by-step refutation of Nir’s account, remains unclear…a Times reporter can have “admirable intentions in speaking for underpaid or abused workers” and the Times‘ public editor can be “glad” to see her colleagues “take on situations in which the poor and voiceless are exploited.”  But when Reason‘s Epstein suggests that illegal immigrants—who are certainly among the poorest and most voiceless souls in America—have a right to improve their lives through hard work, well, that’s just really problematic…

The More the Better (#585) 

The amazing Tara Burns interviews Margaret Cho:

…The burning question on pretty much all the sex workers’ minds was whether (or how) Cho would help us achieve decriminalization and basic human rights.  “I don’t know,” Cho told me when I asked. “I was one, not a great one, but I was around a community for many, many years far after my short career was over.  I loved the sex worker community.  That’s my family…I think that they need to be protected and it should be legalized so that law enforcement protects them.  I’m in the process of learning about what needs to be done.  Fortunately there are a lot of people who can help me learn and talk about it in a more educated way”…

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No one should ever report a rape to the police.  –  Lara McLeod

This week’s video was contributed by Mistress Matisse, who tweeted it with the message, “Be this goat.”  The vlinks above it were provided by Domina Elle  (“karma”, “don’t call” and “HIV”), Rick Horowitz (“more”), Cop Block (“protect”),  Clarissa (“headline”), Popehat (“reports”), and Cassandra Fairbanks (“reasons”).

From the Archives

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Have we not learned by now that increased law enforcement is not the answer to social questions?  –  Mistress Matisse

Rough Trade Andrew Charles Ferrall

Of course they were dropped; she was jut a whore, after all:

Charges have been dismissed against [Andrew Charles Ferrall]…on accusations that he raped, slapped and strangled a woman…[who] met up with Ferrall at the Devils Point strip club…they engaged in consensual sex…[and] Ferrall suddenly began to choke her…she told him to stop having sex with her, but he wouldn’t stop.  The woman told police that Ferrall slapped her, bit her and pushed her down some stairs…

Lying Down With Dogs

Destroying families is OK as long as you pray for them and invoke nebulosities like “the good of society”:

A [Kuala Lumpur] woman broke down in tears…and begged not to be jailed over prostitution as her seven-year-old child needed her…The woman, who suffers from asthma, pleaded to be punished with fine rather than jail time as she also had to look after her elderly parents…However, magistrate Ashraf Rezal Abdul Manan told her that a custodial sentence must be meted out as the welfare of society takes precedence over that of the individual.  “I pray that your son be well taken care of by your neighbour,” Ashraf said before ordering the woman to serve her six-month jail term…

Lack of Evidence

She won’t tolerate ordinary men looking at women, but she’s fine with enabling cops to brutalize them:

…solicitation of sex…“is…a disaster for decent families and children”…Councilor-At-Large Debora Coelho said…they are not distinguishable by the clothes they wear, but in how they walk and are “constantly looking at cars…It creates an environment where any woman walking in the neighborhoods will be looked at differently. I won’t tolerate it”…

One Size Fits All

Is there anything that isn’t “trafficking”?

As CEO of one of the world’s most famous model agencies, Katie Ford traveled the globe searching for fresh-faced young men and women and turning them into stars…Now she’s using the skills she developed…to help fight human trafficking and slavery…Ford admits she’d never even heard of trafficking until [a little after the moral panic began]…eight years ago.  She was stunned to discover the similarities to her own industry…”How people are trafficked, it was parallel to how we scouted models around the world…the hope and the dream that a model has for a better life is the same thing as a field worker who comes here from Mexico…and then they get duped into situations that aren’t what they expected”…

The Pygmalion Fallacy

They just won’t give up their sex doll fantasy:

…Dr Helen Driscoll said advances in technology mean the way in which humans interact with robots is set to change drastically in the coming years.  Dr Driscoll, a leading authority on the psychology of sex and relationships [but not artificial intelligence], said “sex tech” was already advancing at a fast pace and by 2070, physical relationships will seem primitive…robotic, interactive, motion-sensing technology is likely to become more and more central to the sex industry in the next few years.  “It could really start to enable mannequin partners to ‘come to life'”, according to Dr Driscoll…

Blunt Instrument

All gyms, spas, martial-arts schools, massage studios and health clubs looking to set up shop in New York City must get something called a physical culture establishment permit, which was created in the late 1970s to stem the rise of seedy massage parlors in Times Square…the process of obtaining [this] permit can take nearly six months and cost up to $50,000 in fees and payments to lawyers.  Not only does the city’s Department of Investigation run a limited background check on the applicants, but the obscure city agency that processes the applications—called the Board of Standards and Appeals—also takes into account the opinions of neighbors.  At several public hearings, they can inveigh against a company in a formal process few businesses outside of bars or liquor stores are subjected to…


Under Every Bed 

You’ve got to love the way “human trafficking” is plainly used as a synonym for “prostitution” here:

West Homewood [Alabama] residents are taking it upon themselves to investigate the prostitution problem in the area…Victoria Dinges…is planning to go undercover this weekend to hopefully catch someone involved in the alleged prostitution…This…comes just off the heels of Homewood’s third community meeting about the issue of local sex trafficking…Residents also feel that human trafficking is leading to a slew of other crimes that have been littering the neighborhood lately…

A Procrustean Bed (#502)

Good article by Noah Berlatsky, but the consequences of these laws are not by any means “unintended”; they are intentionally designed to harm sex workers:

…Trafficking laws are used…not to arrest pimps and traffickers but to reclassify and police sex workers.  The most high profile example is in New York, where new trafficking courts were established in 2013…“Anyone who is arrested for prostitution they call ‘trafficked,’ according to Alison Bass…author of the forthcoming book Getting Screwed: Sex Workers and the Law.  “The police are going after women and men who are selling sex by choice,” Bass told me. “It’s much easier [to arrest them]—because they’re out in the open, they’re advertising on the Internet, they’re on the street.”  Traffickers, on the other hand, are very careful.  And, Bass adds, there aren’t very many of them…

Moving Pictures 

Notice the way “sex trafficking” cinema represents pure fantasy as faux reality?

Sande Alessi Casting is looking for East Indian men and women to work on the upcoming feature film Trafficked filming in Malibu, California….[it] is based on…Siddharth Kara’s best-selling book, Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery.  Kara [pretends to be] one of the world’s foremost experts on human trafficking and contemporary slavery.   Trafficked features Patrick Duffy, Anne Archer…and Ashley Judd

Gorged With Meaning (#526)

Is the Swansea sports team called the Pearl Clutchers?

In the absence of any institutional policies on student sex work, some professional staff and students’ union staff interviewed by researchers from Swansea University and Kingston University said that they would take action against student sex workers in case they put the university’s reputation at risk…other staff interviewed for the study, published in the Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management this month, said that they would take a more [patronizing] approach by referring student sex workers to their health, counselling or financial support teams…

Amnesty At Last

I suspected the Amnesty position would embolden a few politicians:

D.C. Council member David Grosso said he is considering introducing legislation this fall that would decriminalize prostitution in the city and provide sex workers with resources to be safe and get out of the business if they want to.  Grosso’s announcement comes on the heels of Amnesty International’s controversial recommendation…calling for “full decriminalization of all aspects of consensual sex work”…Grosso…said…“Once the Amnesty report came out, it validated a lot of the concerns that I have of how we handle this in the District”…Grosso similarly said this policy move would “respect the fact that sex workers are human beings, too”…

Something Rotten in Sweden (#563)

Mistress Matisse gives both barrels to prohibitionist Seattle politicians:

The Seattle Times recently ran an op-ed condemning Amnesty’s proposed policy changes…the piece is striking in its presentation of opinions as fact and its use of utterly bogus “statistics.”  For example, it trots out the completely false statement that “The average age of entry (into sex work) is 12 to 14.”  This statement has been debunked multiple times, and even Polaris Project…has publicly disclaimed it…It states, “Decriminalization and legalization are failed experiments”…This is in flat contradiction to detailed reports from two countries, Australia and New Zealand, that have decriminalized sex work successfully…statements about the “US sex economy”…are most likely drawn from a recent Urban Institute report, based on conversations with 73 men convicted as “pimps,” and only 36 incarcerated street workers.  To even call such a limited examination a “study” does it far too much credit; it is a handpicked collection of anecdotes designed to support a previously-arrived-at conclusion.  Researchers in fact-based studies of sex work have stated that there is no evidence to support the idea that forced sex work is a hugely ballooning problem…There is hardly a single sentence…that is factually true.  It is manufactured moral-panic hysteria, designed to prop up the continuing arrest and incarceration of sex workers…

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Counsel for the Citizen Accused should be referred to primarily as the “Defender of the Innocent”…Alternatively, counsel would also accept the designation “Guardian of the Realm”.  –  Captain Justice

This week’s video is a bit of weirdness that Mistress Matisse shared with me last month; apparently it’s been around for a while, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who hadn’t seen it before.  The links above the video were contributed by Angela Keaton (“faking” and “protect”), John Galt (“delicious”), Mike Siegel  (“get it”), Instapundit (“awesome”), Rick Horowitz (“gunpoint”), Radley Balko  (“more”), Nun Ya (“fast enough”), and Cassandra Fairbanks (“knocking”).

From the Archives

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“Grandpa worked really hard so that we can find out the most sensitive part of the penis” generally isn’t the sort of story family foundations want to tell.  –  Miro GudelskyLa Bodega Negra - Edited

Subtle Pimping

Another example of amateurs profiting from sex workers’ images while giving us nothing:

As Soho’s sex trade is destroyed, a twee pastiche is being created in its place. A sex-work themed theme-park…Across Soho, the bordello theme is a default.  You don’t have to stumble far to find décor suggestive of dimly lit backrooms and women of the night; a fantasy, filmic version of the sex trade.  Marketers aren’t afraid to use the trope for all its worth…As the reality of sex work in Soho disappears, its essence has become a marketing tool.  Brothel chic.  A Disneyland version of what was for many, a life, work – a world that wasn’t particularly exotic or glamorous but simply the thing they did for a certain number of hours a week to pay the bills…


Only in the US could the idea that men like to look at pretty girls while they relax be represented as strange or even bad:

In a city that’s being gentrified by the engineers and startup employees, the Gold Club is perhaps the most outré illustration of San Francisco’s recent excesses, a place where curious crowds come for the cheap fare and stay for the alcohol and extracurriculars.  It is also an example of how tone deaf many in the male-dominated tech industry can be.  In recent years, critics have called out technology companies for their workforces’ gender imbalances, which some argue foster a boys’ club culture and sexual discrimination…

The Proper Study

Why there are few good studies on sex work:

…Even researchers…with adequate funding and support…may find that they’re not always taken very seriously because of the stigma still attached to sexuality…and…unlike colleagues in other fields, sex researchers are often forced to contend with assumptions that their professional interests reflect their personal habits.  Few assume that ornithologists harbor a secret wish to be birds, or that medical researchers are drawn to their field due to a history of illness, but sex therapists and researchers are frequently presumed to be incredibly adventurous in the bedroom…

Saving Them From Themselves

Some stories are so egregiously stupid I just can’t resist editorializing:

A 14-year-old boy in Nova Scotia has been sentenced to…probation…[re-education] and restricted internet access for possession of child pornography…[actually nude pictures of his same-age girlfriend]…the boy…will also have to provide a DNA sample and [the state will steal] his smartphone…[Judge] Atwood laid out his decision to [pretend that] the crime [was] a violent one.  He said…that even if…sexting [hurts no one, prudes imagine]…that some day, there will be a [mysterious and indefinable] psychological impact…

First They Came for the Hookers…

If prohibitionists really want to “rescue” sex workers, why do they keep trying to stop us from getting other jobs?

…Miami police officer Sabine Raymonvil…does not deny that she used to work in the porn industry [but]…her work in porn films was completed prior to her becoming a police officer…the requirements to work for the Miami Police Department don’t specifically state anything against porn…[but] she may be terminated because of “conduct unbecoming” an officer…

I don’t really want to think too hard about why someone would leave honest sex work to become a pig, but there you are.Sex Slaves MSNBC

Marching Up Their Own Arses (#349)

How many of these must we endure?

Several organizations that advocate on behalf of both sex workers and survivors of trafficking have written a letter to MSNBC, urging them to cancel Sex Slaves in America, saying it…misleads the viewing public about the realities of both sex work and trafficking…The letter, which you can read in full here, is signed by the Sex Workers Project, the New York Anti-Trafficking Network, Freedom Network, Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive, and Florrie Burke, a longtime human rights advocate…they’re particularly concerned with the way it seems to conflate sex work and human trafficking, and that it could compromise the anonymity of the women it films…In 2013, amid protests and another sternly-worded letter from the same organizations, MSNBC cancelled a program called Slave Hunter, in which a guy named Aaron Cohen claimed to rescue victims of trafficking…

Acting and Activism (#419)

Why is CNN so in love with the “sex trafficking” narrative and the empty-headed actresses who promote it?

Jada Pinkett Smith is helping to expose the ugly world of sex trafficking…The actress has teamed up with CNN for an hour-long special report…”Children for Sale: The Fight to End Human Trafficking” delves into the gritty underbelly of child sex slavery in America…Smith…traveled to Atlanta — a trafficking hot spot — to sit down with courageous survivors and come face to face with a trafficker…

Policing for Profit (#520) 

Presumption of innocence?  What’s that?

A D.C. Council member wants to take a page from Spokane, Washington, and several other cities and start impounding the cars of people suspected of soliciting prostitution.  Councilman Jack Evans…is calling this rights-infringing nonsense the “Honey, I lost the car” program.  As with the Spokane law, it wouldn’t matter whether the person is eventually convicted of any crime or not; if you look to some cops like you’re cruising for sex, that’s all the probable cause they need to snatch your vehicle…

The Pro-Rape Coalition (#555) 

If you thought good old-fashioned Moral Majoritarians were just going to concede Puritanism to fourth-wave feminists, think again…the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCSE)—a group founded in 1962 as Morality in Media (the name was changed this year)—is holding an anti-pornography summit…[which] features a who’s who of anti-sex-work, anti-science, and anti-free-speech zealots, along with the father of famous kidnapping victim Elizabeth Smart

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The staggering symbolism of the ordeal was not lost on me.  –  Glenn Martin

I thought another video from Axis of Awesome might be welcome about now; the links above it are from Walter Olson (“France”), Domina Elle (“parole”), Amy Alkon (“plant”), and Radley Balko (everything else).

From the Archives

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

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

From the Archives

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