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Posts Tagged ‘What’s In a Name?’

Arresting our way out of the problem is not the solution.  –  David Grosso

Who Did Your Tits? 

I’ve been naked with literally thousands of men over the past 18 years, and I’m here to tell you that 99% of men who claim they don’t like implants are full of shit:

…I still reach for the ubiquitous term “fake boobs” even though I don’t consciously think of them as unreal…advertising tends to prefer “breast augmentation”, a term that…avoids the undesirable connotation of falsity in favor of the language of personal improvement.  Doctors increasingly promise natural looks, feels and shapes…the idea of the “natural woman” is a powerful one.  There’s a whole genre of “natural” porn, which typically refers to women with unshaved armpits and no apparent body modifications.  But…is going to the gym unnatural?…Dyeing your hair?…tattoos or piercings?…The existence of “no-makeup makeup” looks — creating the illusion of facial nudity but concealing blemishes, adding glow and so on — should be evidence enough that what we crave isn’t true naturalness, whatever that means, but our idea of what we should look like…We want to be able to congratulate women on looking “so natural” when they’re wearing $200 worth of makeup…

License to Rape

This will continue for as long as prohibition does:

The Georgia sheriff who authorized intrusive pat downs for hundreds of students at Worth County High School earlier this year was indicted for sexual battery, false imprisonment, and violating his oath of office.  Authorities will issue a warrant for Jeff Hobby’s arrest later this week…Two deputies were also indicted…they groped male and female students, touching them inappropriately during the completely pointless search.  No drugs were found on any of the 900 boys and girls subjected to the pat downs…

Saving Them From Themselves

How dare they interfere with the pigs’ “right” to destroy their students’ lives?

…Two members of the leadership team at a charter school in [New Orleans] were arrested Tuesday on allegations they failed to [rat out students to the cops] about their discovery of video clips allegedly showing a student being forced to perform oral sex on a group of her peers in a bathroom…New Orleans police booked Nicole Kusmirek…and Shayla Shane…on counts of possessing child pornography as well as [refusing] to [delegate their judgment to the pigs] despite being required to do so…An attorney for both women, Nandi Campbell, said…her clients’ actions…actually prevented children from being able to go on social media and share a video of the incident…”For NOPD to charge these teachers with possession of pornography is the most obscene thing I’ve seen since I’ve been doing this work,” said Campbell…

Moloch 

How many kids need to be sacrificed to this obscenity before it’s enough?

…attorney…Nicole Pittman…has been defending children [from sex-crime accusations]…for 12 years, and says there are…several thousand juveniles on the sex offender registry in the State of Michigan.  Some…[are] on the autism spectrum or struggling with disabilities, but most judges have refused to make exceptions, citing what Pittman describes as a “one size fits all” policy…”Most times with children there is no sexual [motivation]…the moment the touching looks sexual, though, society labels them pedophiles”…Minors are not listed publicly on the sex offender registry, but they’re forbidden from attending school because that’s where children congregate.  Once they turn 18, most states require them to register on the public sex offender list with an identifying photo…”There’s a lot of homelessness and depression [because people can’t get jobs],” Pittman explains. “We have a whole new generation of victims on this law.”  Pittman has interviewed 500 registered kids.  While only some were on the autism spectrum, she says all of them have been victims of abuse…

Amnesty At Last (#564)

Grosso has consistently pursued this course for over two years now:

Will Washington, D.C. buck national trends and actually take a stand for sex-worker rights and safety?  It will if politician David Grosso gets his way.  The at-large councilmember has just introduced a bill to decriminalize prostitution in the District…The “Reducing Criminalization to Promote Public Safety and Health Amendment Act of 2017” would amend D.C.’s criminal code to make both the selling and the buying of sex legal.  It’s co-sponsored by At-large Councilmember Robert White.  Unlike moves by Canada and many Western European countries, the D.C. plan would not attempt to regulate sex work by setting up red-light districts, providing for brothel permits, or similar schemes…

What’s In a Name? (#572)

Though I’m not personally bothered by the word “prostitute” (though I do think it’s ugly and legalistic), I understand that many of my sisters feel differently:

…Language is fluid and malleable; it drives social attitudes, rather than simply expressing them.  So what is being reinforced when we use the word “prostitute”, and why is it important?…”Prostitute” first crops up in English in 1530 as a verb meaning to sexually dishonour yourself…And…the word has been linked to a state of dishonour ever since…‘Prostitute’ is not a neutral term and it never has been.  It’s a word burdened with considerable historical and cultural baggage.  Lizzie Smith argued, “the term ‘prostitute’ does not simply mean a person who sells her or his sexual labour, but brings with it layers of ‘knowledge’ about worth, drug status, childhood, integrity, personal hygiene and sexual health”…

Morality Lessons 

We’re lucky to have such outstanding moral exemplars to “protect” and “lead” us:

Four…Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) operatives face federal corruption and conspiracy charges after…engaging in all sorts of shady behavior, from selling drugs themselves to lying under oath, falsifying records, falsely identifying drug suspects, accepting bribes, and stealing cash and other property from the people they arrested.  In at least one instance, their behavior led to someone being wrongly imprisoned for more than two years…special agent Chad Scott…and…task force [cops] Rodney Gemar, Karl Newman, and Johnny Domingue—worked with the DEA’s New Orleans Division…

Pyrrhic Victory (#765)

The word for collaboration between government & private industry to control people is “fascism”:

…U.K. Home Secretary Amber Rudd…Prime Minister Theresa May, and leaders in other countries have been fighting to force…social media platforms, app makers, and other tech companies to make it easier for officials to access private conversations on demand…Rudd said she doesn’t understand how encryption works but knows that it can keep the government from accessing data it wants, so Something Must Be Done…It’s particularly telling that Rudd wants to make this a debate about how she’s being mocked even as she yet again fails to show any actual concern about the security of citizen data.  She’s being mocked for a reason (as is Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who responded to the encryption debate by saying the laws of mathematics are subservient to the laws of Australia)…

The Mote and the Beam (#773)

Want to know why “sex trafficking” hysteria is so pervasive?  Follow the money:

…a group calling itself the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCSE)…run[s] the website “End Sexual Exploitation”…[they] are strong supporters of SESTA…the true mission of NCSE isn’t to end sex trafficking… but to rid the world of the “public health crisis of pornography.”  You see, NCSE began its life in 1962 as Morality in Media, and was a reaction to a ridiculous moral panic over “pornographic material” being left outside of a school…The group has insisted that porn is a “public health crisis” and has worked to get states to declare it as such.  It also posts a Dirty Dozen list of organizations that it needs to shame for “perpetuating sexual exploitation“…They include the American Library Association and Amnesty International on this year’s list…They…claim that libraries have been turned into “a XXX space that fosters child sexual abuse.”  It put Amnesty on the list because Amnesty dares to call sex workers “sex workers” rather than prostitutes…

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Crowding what I do into the larger umbrella of “sex work,” without its own name, makes it seem as if I’m supposed to experience what I do as shameful.  –  Charlotte Shane

What’s In a Name?

I agree with Charlotte Shane on words like “prostitute”:

I’ve called myself a prostitute for about as long as I’ve been one…it felt like the most accurate term given the service I provide, and I like the solidarity of it, the refusal to kowtow to class-related stigma or what is sometimes called the “whorearchy”…I believe the difference between “escort” and “prostitute” is that one term relies on euphemistic window dressing while the other is unapologetic and unashamed…I’m at odds with the party line in this stance, though…Increasingly, prostitute is…regarded as a slur…Taking euphemisms on permanently and in a political context, outside of marketing material or work-related correspondence, feels to me like ceding way too much power.  The state forces me to use certain language to protect myself in some contexts; I don’t want to willingly employ that language in all others…

Rough Trade MARY MITCHELL

One rather nasty side-effect of prohibition is that it gives moral retards like Mary Mitchell leave to vomit their odious bigotry all over the pages of major newspapers:

Authorities say Roy Akins went to Backpage.com and agreed to pay a prostitute $180 for sex.  When the unidentified woman showed up at his…home…Akins…pulled a gun.  I imagine most prostitutes in this situation would have run straight to a pimp.  But after leaving Akins’ home…the…woman called the police…I’m grateful [Akins] isn’t being accused of snatching an innocent woman off the street…the way this case is being handled makes it look like sex trafficking is a legitimate business…because this incident is being charged as a criminal sexual assault — when it’s actually more like theft of services — it minimizes the act of rape…For law enforcement to put what happened to a Backpage.com prostitute on a par with [real] rape victims…is an insult.

A few observations:

  • “I imagine most prostitutes…would have run straight to a pimp.” I’ll leave you to imagine what she’s doing while she “imagines” this.
  • Note the conflation of sex work and sex trafficking, and the badge-licking idolization of the clownish tyrant Tom Dart.
  • For another example of a woman using the “theft of services” slur, see the original of this title.
  • Given that last line, would Mitchell be more sympathetic toward the rape of a prostitute like me, who advertises somewhere other than Backpage?

Lack of Evidence

It’s rare to see someone attempt this defense with a straight face:

Lisa Marie Carroll, 34, was charged with one misdemeanor count of prostitution…Police [pretend] that she offered to perform various sex acts…for [specific] pricing…”I did not agree to have sex with that cop…I’m an escort companion and go on dates and sometimes clients make a donation and that doesn’t have to do with sex”…[a sleazebag cop accompanied her] to her room where…they both undressed and laid in bed.  The [cop then tried to get her to commit to specific prices for specific acts] “And I said, ‘No, honey.  This is not how this works'”…A little while later, [the cops invaded] her house…

She’s lucky; many Pennsylvania cops rape women in order to arrest them.

Harm Magnification

Kerry Porth discusses the Harper government’s campaign to harm as many people as possible via increased prohibition:

…After winning a majority government in 2011, the Harper government quickly…introduced mandatory minimum sentencing for drug possession…despite warnings from current and former law enforcement from the United States…and respected Canadian drug policy experts…the Harper government has waged a costly war against Insite…[and] established 26 new requirements…that are costly, onerous and designed to prevent future sites from opening.  Then…the…government…reintroduced the old laws [that the Supreme Court had struck down] and introduced a prohibition on the purchase of sex and the explicit advertising of sexual services for the first time in Canadian history.  Despite a great deal of florid rhetoric about the government’s desire to ensure the safety of sex workers, the real intent behind the new laws was memorably stated by Senator Donald Plett: “Of course we don’t want to make life safe for prostitutes; we want to do away with prostitution. That’s the intent of the bill”…

The Proper Study

a…new Canadian study…concludes the average porn user holds, if anything, more egalitarian views regarding women than non-users.  Many pornography aficionados might even be “useful allies” in women’s struggles for equality in work, income and public office, the researchers…argue…Taylor Kohut…and his colleagues analyzed data from 35 years of the General Social Surve…the 23 per cent who reported having watched an “X-rated” movie in the previous year were no more or less likely than porn abstainers to identify as feminists, or voice support for the traditional family.  And the blue-movie watchers expressed on average more positive attitudes toward women in positions of power, and less negative attitudes toward abortion and women in the workforce than those who refrained from pornography…

Divided We Fall

Unfortunately, this revolting attitude is not unusual among picket-fence queers:

…had there been a sequel to [Pretty Woman], it would have been salacious. We would watch Richard Gere struggle with the fact that his girlfriend was a confirmed whore and had been with hundreds, maybe even thousands of men…There would be a scene at a dinner party when other women were whispering about Julia Roberts, all of them knowing that she could be found at one time on Hollywood Boulevard spreading her legs for any man with $200 in his pocket…I have been poor…and never once was selling my ass an option…When you make a choice to work in the sex industry…you are immediately shrinking your dating pool…I would never subject myself to a How-was-your-day,-honey? conversation with a partner who took anonymous loads for a living…

Moloch

The robed simian who presided over this case planned to use this young man to “send a message” about having sex without a state license to do so; he should be caged for several years and then put on the “sex offender” registry for life.

A young man from Indiana who had consensual sex with a 14-year-old girl who told him she was [17] has been removed from Michigan’s sex offender registry pending his resentencing.  Zach Anderson [who was 19 at the time]…spent 75 days in jail after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor.  He was given a five-year probation that banned him from using computers or the Internet and also had faced 25 years on Michigan’s sex-offender registry.  But…Anderson’s lawyer successfully argued prosecutors failed to remain neutral on a key part of the plea deal, which would have erased Anderson’s record if he stayed out of trouble…Anderson’s resentencing will be Oct. 21…

What “crime”? He had consensual sex with a physically-adult woman he believed to be a peer.  The concept of strict liability is an abomination in any civilized society.

They Still Don’t Get It

The jaw-dropping stupidity of this article takes precedence over the FBI money grab it talks about:

At the click of a mouse, almost anyone can buy a girl online, anytime…ads with identical phone numbers can be traced to other cities…a sign, police say, that the women are on the move with their traffickers.  Some ads even state “only in town for three days, special.”  That’s the pattern of traffickers, always on the move, according to…Charlie Benton, who is known locally as the foremost law enforcement expert on sex trafficking.  The ads give no clue, though, which women are being forced to sell themselves or are under 18.  And the men who often answer the phone aren’t about to volunteer that information…

Yes, that’s what touring looks like to the warped mind of a pig obsessed with BDSM masturbatory fantasies involving adolescents.  Guys, have you EVER called an independent escort’s ad and had a man answer?  Ever?  It’s almost idiotic enough to distract the reader from the FBI agent asking for more money to fulfill his sick dream of attempting to entrap and cage literally every single escort on Backpage.

Reframing

So Close and Yet So Far

Why do so many would-be allies insist on including vile, insulting garbage like this in otherwise-supportive essays?

…You may not approve of prostitution, and many quite reasonably do not.  It raises serious, ethical questions.  Having sex with people for money is degrading.  It transforms an intimate and private act into a commercial transaction.  It can pose a threat to those involved, especially women…

Torture Chamber 

This is what our society refers to as “correction”:

…Gesnerson Louisius…was slammed in the back of his head with a bar of soap stuffed inside a sock.  Six inmates pinned him down, and one grabbed him by his throat, as two others dragged him across the carpeted floor by his ankles…The young prisoners, between the ages of 18 and 20, kept demanding that he pay them money to stop the beating, but Louisius refused…The extortion ritual is so common and well known by both inmates and corrections officers that it has a name.  It’s called a “test of heart”…Hakiem Blount, 18, grabbed a broom and began pushing it into Louisius rectum…as far up as he could push it…there were no video cameras in the room, and the one corrections officer assigned to the dorm that afternoon was inexplicably nowhere to be found…Louisius…lost a lot of blood.  His rectum was ruptured and he underwent an emergency colostomy…he…served out the rest of his three-year prison term while wearing a colostomy bag, and had five or six surgeries in prison that likely cost Florida taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars…

Uncommon Sense (#557)

The Professional Association Erotic and Sexual Services [of Germany] (BesD) criticises the draft bill by the Ministry for Family Affairs for a “Prostitutes Protection Law” in the strongest terms…the BesD concludes, “A law that pretends to aim at strengthening the right to self-determination of a group of people but then denies them the maturity to make their own decisions, attempts to paternalistically ‘protect’ them from those decision, needlessly interferes with their basic rights, and that, quasi in passing, also creates regulations to save society from this group of people, allegedly in need of protection, via arbitrarily expandable ordinances…should be rejected in its entirety.”  Instead, the association calls for a complete decriminalisation of sex work…

R.I.P. Candida Royalle 

Elizabeth N. Brown on Candida’s legacy:

Candida Royalle is the kind of sex positive, free-speech-friendly artist and advocate that…is…relatively rare in feminist circles…[she] founded the (now defunct) nonprofit Feminists for Free Expression (FFE), which described its mission as “working to preserve the individual’s right to read, hear, view and produce materials of her choice without the intervention of the state ‘for her own good'”…The group opposed speech-censoring legislation; defended free speech in court cases, on college campuses, and in the media; and opposed the book, movie, and music banning efforts that were popular at the time.  Royalle and FFE’s other leaders believed that “freedom of expression is especially important for women’s rights” and that the suppression of sexist messages “will neither reduce harm to women nor further women’s goals”…

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That which we call a rose/By any other name would smell as sweet. – William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet (II, ii)

As I said in my introduction, very few whores use their own names when working; this is, first and foremost, to maintain privacy in a business which still carries considerable stigma in our society. If one’s real name got out (which in the internet age is not at all unlikely) it could cause embarrassment to her family, attract unwelcome attention from cops or anti-prostitute activists or even result in social consequences if she is a student or has another, “regular” job. Unless the girl’s first name is rather unusual, though, there would be no harm in giving out her real first name alone, would there? She could keep her surname private and everyone would be happy, right?

Well, yes and no. Some girls do indeed use real-first-name-only or a nickname version of it (Sue for Suzanne, Nicki for Nicole, etc). But most still don’t do that, for various reasons. For one, the use of a “stage name” gives us a little fence between our daily lives and our professional lives, which might otherwise sometimes overlap; the stage name helps the girl to get into the proper frame of mind, just as donning a suit or a uniform or a lab coat puts various kinds of professional men into the proper frame of mind for performance of their jobs. This use of stage names is by no means restricted to hookers; when Vincent Furnier is at home he may just be a regular guy, but when he dresses up and calls himself “Alice Cooper”, he becomes another thing entirely. The change in modes may eventually become unconscious and automatic; when I answered the phone and someone asked for me by my stage name, I instantly adopted a different mental posture than if he had used my real given name. Once someone actually hailed me by my stage name on a city street when I absolutely did not expect to hear it, and I actually experienced a moment of confusion before realizing that he was speaking to me!

For some girls, though, there is a much more important reason for the new name. Unless you’ve been living in a cave your whole life, I’m sure you recognize that Judeo-Christian societies in general and American society in particular have got massive hang-ups about sex, and women in particular are loaded down from puberty onward with more guilt, shame and conflict about that one subject than about all others combined. Even if a girl’s parents have more enlightened attitudes on the subject, you can bet the rest of society will still be very hard at work attempting to brainwash her into the usual powerless, ambivalent, conflicted female state of sexual shame. For a fortunate few of us (including myself), this poison tree for some reason just doesn’t take root in our heads; our mental soil is somehow inhospitable to its growth, and we simply don’t feel ashamed of being what we are. Alas, we are in the minority; many girls do indeed feel ashamed of their profession on some level, even if they accept or even enjoy it on a more conscious one. For a girl like this the stage name is a symbolic covering, an insubstantial garment she wears to clothe her soul while she bares her body to strangers.

It never ceases to amaze me how clients fail to understand the need for this symbolic gesture; time and again I have been assailed with “Oh, that’s not your real name! What’s your real name?” When guys of this sort wouldn’t shut up, “Maggie” is the name I fell back to; it’s not my legal name either, but it’s a good, basic, believable, comfortable sort of name (I’ve even been told “You look like a Maggie,” whatever that means). But then, I suppose it’s not surprising; most men also cannot understand why a stripper covers up when she has finished dancing, or why most hookers won’t kiss. It’s probably the old Madonna-whore duality again; the man stuck in this mode of thought imagines any working girl to be a “slut”, a carnal animal with male-like sex drives who screws strangers because it’s her idea of a great time; indeed, a number of porn starlets and sex writers actually encourage this fallacy in order to capitalize on the male fantasy of the “wanton woman”. But a man who thinks that way cannot be expected to understand that just because a whore has agreed to give him that which for most women is the most intimate form of sharing, it doesn’t mean she wants to share EVERYTHING with him. And what could be more personal than a name? The ancients believed there was magical power in names; in some ancient societies people kept their true names secret (except from the parents who had named them) and offered another, public name to the world. Is this so different from what we do? By keeping our true names to ourselves we symbolically prevent clients from having power over us. Kings and queens in many societies took throne names to symbolize that their actions as rulers were not to be confused with their actions as private citizens; the man whom history records as Augustus Caesar was called Octavian by his family. And the actions of “Rose” on a call are not necessarily related to those of “Gertrude Smith” at home.

And that, of course, brings us to the third and most human reason for stage names. The fact is simply that many if not most parents have the annoying habit of giving girls the most unromantic, unsexy names imaginable. Who wants to be Hillary or Jane or Anne or Mary when she can be Tabitha or Roxanne or Simone or Jade, at least for a little while? Most little girls choose different names for themselves when playing house (I know I did!) and growing up does not eradicate the desire for a name we like better than the one we’re stuck with. For those with unusual names like mine, this can instead be motivated by pragmatism; I actually did use my true name when I first started stripping, but I got so tired of “That’s not your real name!” that I started to use a stage name (a childhood nickname, actually) which was actually less unusual than my real one, and I can think of two other girls who did precisely the same thing.

Choosing a name for oneself is an act of will, an act of power; in a sense it’s a reflection of the way that we choose to make our own living by our own means rather than following either the traditional “good girl” path or the neutered, politically correct “career” path. For this we are called whores, which in the minds of many people is the worst label that can be applied to a woman. And that is precisely why many of us have decided to claim the word for ourselves, just as early Americans adopted the mocking term “Yankee” as a badge of identity, and in recent years lesbians and gay men have claimed “dyke” and “queer”, respectively. If we use the term to describe ourselves, it loses any power as an insult.

Norma Jean Almodovar (1986 political poster)

Norma Jean Almodovar, author of the book Cop To Call Girl (see the bibliography page) and director of the Los Angeles chapter of COYOTE (Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics, a prostitute’s rights organization), helped to organize the 1997 International Congress on Prostitution, which included an exhibit of art by whores. A neofeminist academic for the university hosting the Congress insisted that prostitutes could not use the term ‘whore’ to describe ourselves, and demanded the exhibit use the neutered, politically correct term “sex worker”. She of course got her way, but Almodovar wrote the following poem as a rebuttal to this sort of bluenosed attitude. Shakespeare it’s definitely not, but it does sum up most of our feelings on the issue quite well.

The “Whore” Word

I am a woman…and if I get out of line, you call me a whore!
And if I have a good time, you call me a whore!
And if I speak my mind – you call me a whore!
You throw the word at me when I stand on my own
You use the word often to hold me down.
You ever remind me that whores are the worst –
The outcasts, pariahs, without any worth.
“You’re just a whore!” you repeat like a mantra –
Like a shot of cold water to dampen my joy.
“You’re just a whore – so what do you know?
And what do I care of whatever you think!”
“You’re a whore,” is a dagger you drive through my heart
As you pound into my psyche that name.
You equate everything that I ever thought good – with that word
Which you spit out like venom – to show me how awful I am.
But I ask you, please tell me, just what is a whore?
A whore says what she thinks and she thinks for herself…
She’s independent and feisty – so what? Is there more?
Why does it frighten you so to know I’ve a mind of my own
And don’t need your permission to live or to love or to be?
And what if I tell you I don’t care anymore if you call me a whore…
What will you call me now?

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