Archive for March 14th, 2011

The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them; that’s the essence of inhumanity. –  George Bernard Shaw

In my column of February 6th I discussed the tendency for prohibitionists to paint prostitutes as somehow less than fully human; the Victorians considered us atavisms, cops (including female cops) try to depict us as predatory criminals, and neofeminists portray us as “prostituted women”, in other words passive, stunted children without the ability to make adult decisions.  It is to fight this perception that I so often stress the lack of important differences between harlots and other women; politicians and neofeminists both wish to distract amateurs from recognizing that the war on whores affects all women, not just professionals, because the day they recognize that fact is the day that prohibitionist laws become the subject of the same sort of massed feminine fury which is routinely directed against attempts to restrict abortion rights.

One particularly concrete example of the effect of whore-persecution on amateurs came to my attention last Thursday (March 10th); according to this report paraphrased from BBC News, a woman died after being stabbed by her boyfriend because two cops who were nearby thought it more important to continue with a plot to entrap streetwalkers than to try to save a woman’s life:

Two Northamptonshire police officers who said they were too busy working on “an anti-prostitution operation” to respond to an emergency call in which a woman was stabbed to death have received “written warnings” for their behavior.  Police received a call at 0011 GMT on January 18th, 2010 from the home of Louise Webster, 40; the dispatcher could hear screaming and shouting and two minutes later confirmed that someone had been stabbed.  At 0012 GMT and 0015 GMT a GPS device in one of the officer’s radios placed them in the immediate vicinity of the incident, so the control room requested them to respond because they were closest.  But since they refused to do so, another officer patrolling alone somewhat farther away responded and arrived at about 0029 GMT; only then could the paramedic, who had to wait near the scene for police to arrive, enter the house to treat Webster, by which time it was too late to save her.

The murderer, Martin Ashby, was sentenced to life in prison last week, but the cops only received “warnings” because a police complaints commission claimed that even if they had responded it was too late to save Webster anyway.  One commissioner dissented, saying “The police work to protect the public and preserve life.  I find it deeply disturbing that these two officers who were in the immediate vicinity, chose to ignore these basic but fundamental principles.”

Even if the commission’s predictable findings were correct, the cops couldn’t have known it at the time; the fact of the matter is that these cowards preferred to bully one group of women rather than go to another’s rescue.

Whore stigmatization even affects women who left the profession years before; just ask Melissa Petro (who has now given up her fight to remain a teacher) or Tera Myers, a teacher who made a few porn films in the mid-‘90s under the stage name Rikki Andersin.  Myers resigned from her position last week after a student recognized her in an old film (which he shouldn’t have been watching in the first place) and ratted her out to the school district.  The following is paraphrased from a March 7th report by KFVS-TV:

Tera Myers, a high-school science teacher in Chesterfield, Missouri, has resigned after a student asked her about her past, referring to the one or more pornographic movies she made in the mid-1990s.  A statement from the school district says she requested to be placed on administrative leave “out of respect for her privacy and that of her family,” and that she will be paid for the remainder of the term but will not return in the autumn.  This isn’t the first time it’s happened to her; in 2006 her past was revealed while she was teaching in Paducah, Kentucky and her contract was not renewed because the superintendent “feared her presence would cause a distraction in the classroom.”  Since acting in porn is not illegal, the information was not revealed on background checks performed by either school district.

Like Melissa Petro, Myers’ career in harlotry was short-lived and she was praised as an exceptional teacher, but obviously we can’t have those sex rays contaminating the innocent little darlings, especially not the ones who are already watching porn and developing future careers as stool pigeons.

Of course, this isn’t really surprising; unjust and abominable treatment of whores and former whores is widely accepted in North America.  The US government mouths platitudes in response to UN reports condemning its human rights violations (“We agree that no one should face violence or discrimination…based on…their status as a person in prostitution…”) while not only condoning but actively encouraging the persecution of voluntary adult prostitutes, even in foreign countries where it isn’t criminal.  And the Canadian government has argued that the prohibitionist laws struck down by the Ontario Superior Court in September should be reinstated because the government has no obligation to protect Canadian citizens who choose jobs known to be dangerous (such as cops?), and indeed has the right to artificially make such jobs more dangerous in order to discourage people from choosing them.  But though news stories and Canadian government statements about mistreatment of or even violence against sex workers often contain a subtext that prostitutes choose and deserve to be harmed, violated or murdered, there are a few exceptions such as this one which  appeared last Wednesday (March 9th) on the website of the Fox affiliate in Memphis, Tennessee:

Four prostitutes were killed and another…was shot several times and left for dead.  All of these cases happened within weeks of each other…other than having prostitution in common and being found in the same central location, investigators still are not sure why these victims were chosen…”Prostitutes, young women’s bodies have been dumped here and that’s just sad,” said John Gray, who has relatives buried in the cemetery [where the bodies were found]…”It’s a scary thought that someone would kill people on a consistent basis and bring them to the same spot and dump their bodies.  I would think it’s the same person…Right now, they’re saying it’s prostitutes being killed but when a person starts killing like that, you have to start getting worried about anybody.”

Unlike the Long Island district attorney,  the officials in Memphis don’t appear to be minimizing the case simply because the victims were hookers; perhaps that’s just the way the article’s author, Lynn Lampkin, chose to write it, but the way the victims’ profession is treated as nonchalantly as if it were “cab drivers” or “waitresses” says otherwise and though the interviewee states the point clumsily, he also seems to recognize that a man who would kill prostitutes could just as easily kill any other woman.  I honestly feel that most normal people are beginning to see us as women like any others, but unfortunately most of the cases of arrested development who see us as subhuman are concentrated in places where they can prevent the general awakening from having any practical effects in the here and now.

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