Archive for September 27th, 2010

He who does not understand your silence will probably not understand your words. –  Elbert Hubbard

I already had a column written for today, but a few hours ago I received this long, angry comment on yesterday’s column.  Since it’s my first hate mail I thought it important to feature it, because it gives me the opportunity to make a few points both about how I run my blog and about our opponents.  For those who don’t have WordPress blogs themselves a few words of explanation are in order; when a comment from a new respondent is submitted, I get an email asking me to moderate it.  I can read the comment before deciding to let it actually appear on my blog and even edit it if I choose (for example, I’ve corrected typos at the respondent’s request before).  But once I approve someone’s reply, his future ones are automatically posted.  So it’s important to be selective about replies; if one of my regular readers went mad and started posting ads for penis enlargement pills I would have to laboriously remove all of them and then figure out how to ban him in the future.  I am NOT going to approve this comment for the simple reason that prohibitionists and “human trafficking” alarmists already have thousands of venues to spread their propaganda without me giving them another one.  This post, by a woman calling herself “Jenn”, is here reprinted IN ITS ENTIRETY with neither correction nor addition; my replies to her statements are interpolated between her paragraphs for ease of reading.

Wow, I don’t know who you’re trying harder to fool your readers or yourself. Your argument seems to be that a prostitute is either an honest business person *OR* a victim and, since you know/are an honest sex workers, trafficking must be a lie. (selfcentrism much?)

Notice the hostility of the “true believer”; her very first statement is to accuse me of lying.  Jenn, I’m not trying to “fool” anyone; my readers are intelligent people who can do research for themselves to prove me wrong, and in addition you will note a number of links to the right which make it convenient for readers to consult other authorities on sex work, many of them far more knowledgeable than I.  Your entire letter reeks of such ignorance of my blog; you have clearly never read it before today, yet you feel at liberty to make unsupported statements and wild assumptions about what I’ve been saying for months without even bothering to look at any of my previous columns, and that destroys what little credibility you might otherwise have.  In this paragraph, for example, you accuse me of a Cartesian fallacy which my regular readers all know to be untrue; I’ve written on more than one occasion of dishonest whores.  And I did NOT say in yesterday’s column or at any other time that there was no such thing as a sex slave trade; what I said was that authorities in many Western countries have fomented a moral panic by exaggerating the extent of the sex slave trade in those countries.  We are not talking about third-world countries here; it is precisely because the authorities in those countries turn a blind eye that the business thrives there.  What I am talking about is the way authorities in Western nations like the US and UK pretend there is a vast and busy slave trade in those countries despite their inability to produce more than a handful of “trafficked” victims.

The sale of human beings is the second largest black market money maker in the world.

Really?  Statistics, please.  Reputable ones.  But you can’t produce them any more than Senator McCarthy could produce his list of “known communists”, and for the same reason.  Like all conscientious sex workers I oppose the forcing of anyone into prostitution; obviously you did not bother to read my review of a book on the “comfort women” of World War II or you would have already known that.

Half of known prostitutes are minors and therefore unable to legally consent OR operate a business as an individual. Federal law states that a minor may not legally be charged with prostitution and the fact that it happens *all the time* is a failing of this law to be publicized (to law enforcement and to the public). The existence of this law is a large part of what traffick NGO’s are trying to get out there.

So right there you’ve eliminated half of prostitutes as legitimate business people.

Half, huh?  Next week it’ll be two-thirds.  Such “magic numbers” are pulled out of thin air and have absolutely nothing to do with reality.  Since agencies will not hire minors and websites will not accept their ads, most underage prostitutes are streetwalkers and the rest operate in clandestine brothels.  It’s difficult to estimate the number of such brothels, but by criminalizing sex work the police cut off a valuable source of inside information, the sex workers themselves.  As for streetwalkers, the National Taskforce on Prostitution estimates they make up roughly 15% of all prostitutes; since not all of them are underage, your “half of all known prostitutes” claim is shown up for the nonsense it is.  Even if I charitably allow that half of all streetwalkers are underage (which they aren’t) and that 10% of all prostitutes (also a generous estimate) operate in clandestine brothels whose population is 75% underage, that generates a liberal estimate of 15% of all prostitutes who are too young.  That’s certainly a tragedy, but it’s also a far cry from half, and if our trade were decriminalized we could reduce that number dramatically within months.  That is exactly the point of this petition, which I urge my readers to sign.

Then you have to look at the number of people who are prostitutes simply from need. In New York City 70% of prostitutes are selling sex as a manner of meeting a basic physical need like shelter or food. More than half are male. More than 95% of them say they want out. In Chicago 86% of prostitutes have a pimp (which personally I interpret as a removal of personal agency and a factor of unacceptable sex work).

More numbers pulled out of thin air.  Even if I give you that 70% of streetwalkers are at a subsistence level, that gives us a figure of 10.5% of all prostitutes.  I’m totally unsurprised that 95% of such individuals want out; wouldn’t you?  Living on the street can’t be a rewarding lifestyle.  But it has nothing to do with either “human trafficking” or voluntary prostitution.  As for your figure on pimps in Chicago, I direct you to my column on pimps; even if the percentage of pimps in Chicago exceeds the national average by over 36% as you propose, you are once again committing the tired old Hollywood errors (as you do several times in your letter) of A) assuming all prostitutes are streetwalkers and B) assuming all pimps control the hookers, when more than half the time it’s the other way around.

Trafficking refers to labor as well. In fact 60% of traffick victims are coming from labor rather than sex, an issue which you fail to address in your post.

I don’t “fail to address it”, it’s simply immaterial to a discussion of sex work.  Politicians don’t use the existence of agricultural slaves as an excuse to persecute escort services.

I could also throw out there that 86% of known prostitutes were sexually or physically abused as children. This is often used to make prostitution look like the act of a broken individual, but I wont do that. Just because someones relationship with sex started as “dysfunctional” doesn’t necessarily mean that it remains dysfunctional.

Yawn.  I’ve written about this bogus statistic many times before, which you would’ve known had you read this column.

You use the term “white slavery” but I’m not sure anyone out there would deny that victims are foreign, domestic, white, black, mexican, asian, ect. Trafficking occurs across all nations, “races”, genders, and socio-economic classes.

If you had studied history rather than politically correct propaganda you would know that “white slavery” was the original term for what is now called “human trafficking”.  It has nothing to do with the victims being of white race, though that may have been the intent of those who first coined the term in the late 19th century.  You could even have discovered it by reading my columns of August 9th and 26th, but I realize it’s easier just to go off half-cocked and make an incompetent attempt to imply your opponent is either ignorant or racist.

It seems to me you have a chip on your shoulder.

Your perception is highly suspect.

If you would like sources or specific case files for trafficked persons I would be happy to provide them. Links to Internet forums where the girls are obviously too young, near tears, and all photographed in the same hotel room can also be provided.

I can do without your child porn links, thank you very much.  Once again you imply that I don’t believe “human trafficking” exists, when in fact all I and other sex workers dispute is the number of cases and the way authorities equate it with voluntary adult prostitution.

You throw around the term NeoFeminist in a way that alludes to todays feminists as butch Freudians and yet many (I’ll go ahead and call them third wave) feminists feel very strongly that we need to recognize both legitimate and illegitimate forms of sex work.

Butch Freudians?  Who said any such thing?  I define my term “neofeminist” in a box right there in the right column for all to see; it has nothing to do with true feminists of either the second or third waves, but rather with power-hungry Neomarxist man-haters who dominated all mainstream feminist discourse in the ’80s and ’90s and still make up the majority of academic and politically-connected “feminists”.  In fact, in tomorrow’s column (which you pre-empted with your attack) I reproduce a statement from the Third Wave Foundation; there is a link to it in the “resources” box at right, which you of course didn’t bother to look at.

A persons agency in the choice to become a sex worker should be the sole deciding factor in whether a sex worker is a business person or a victim. For you to announce to the victims of the sex trade that they are not real is appalling. It’s like when politicians say there are no homeless people. You sound ridiculous.

Services and justice should be provided for those who took part in the sex trade because they had no choice and those who have choice and find it fulfilling and lucrative (which studies show *is* a majority of prostitutes) should be allowed to practice their trade in safety and security.

Wait, so now you admit that a majority of us are voluntary?  Does that include at least part of the half who are underage?  And what about the 95% who want out, or the 86% in Chicago who have pimps?  And you claim I sound ridiculous?  You need to look at that link to the article on projection again.

Readers, I certainly encourage any one of you who discovers a mistake in my column to point it out to me, and if I check your posted source and discover you’re right I’ll be the first to admit my error.  But please don’t waste my time and yours by spouting the same old tired propaganda, bogus statistics and unsupported allegations.

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