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Archive for November, 2011

The eternal Venus…is one of the seductive forms of the Devil.   –  Charles Baudelaire

“It’s settled then; Xoblah will tell Her.”

“No, it is not settled!  Why does it always have to be me who brings Her bad news?  She’s started to call me ‘Petrel’ because She says my arrival always presages a storm.”

“But, sweetie, that’s just it; when you bring Her bad news She just calls you names, but whenever anyone else does it she’s set upon by dozens of cats, or thrown out of Heaven, or some other horrible thing.  Remember the time She turned Ardath into an incubus?”

All eyes turned to the named girl, who softly moaned “It was awful!”

Xoblah sighed; “All right, all right.”  She hesitated for a moment and then asked, “What name is She using these days?”   The others looked askance, coughed or pretended not to hear the question.  “Well?”

Empusa (who seemed to have been elected spokeswoman) answered in a low voice, “Ishtar.”

What?  You want me to bring Her bad news while She’s using Ishtar?  She only goes by that name when She’s in an especially belligerent mood!  Can’t this wait for a few years until She starts using ‘Venus’ or ‘Astarte’ again?”

Empusa gave her a pained look.  “The longer we wait, the worse it will be.”

Xoblah knew she was right; the goddess hated being kept in the dark, and if She found out that the succubae had failed to tell Her about this problem in a timely fashion, they’d be lucky if She didn’t hurl them all into Tarterus for a few decades.  Still, she needed time to build up her courage before facing the inevitable.  “Why must mortals be so difficult?” she asked, to nobody in particular.  “Why must they complicate everything?  Out of the goodness of Her heart, the Love Goddess Herself recruited us, gave us eternal beauty, and empowered us to give the gift of sexual bliss to worthy mortals who weren’t getting any for whatever reason.  And at first it was such an easy job!”

The others nodded in agreement.  Habondia observed, “We never really had any problems at all until the Middle Ages.”

“Even that wasn’t so bad,” said Empusa, “once we learned to stay away from the Christian priests.  It wasn’t until they somehow managed to convince themselves that sex was bad for them that it got really difficult.”

“But it really looked like things were improving again after the Seventeenth Century,” said Xoblah.  “And the past few decades were as good as any; wasn’t it a laugh when we would appear as mortal women, and then the men would send their experiences with us to be published in magazines and everyone assumed they were making it up?”

“Those sure were fun times,” sighed Relah.  “But now it seems like they’re all afraid of us again.  The other day one insisted I provide him with an identification card, then kept asking me silly questions to prove my age.”

“Wait until you get one who wants to know where the hidden camera is,” said Empusa gloomily.  “Or one who just wants to sit and watch porn with you.”

“The ones who insist on asking permission for everything are the worst,” opined Ardath.

“It’s no wonder so many of them can’t even get it up without pills,” sulked Xoblah.  “What are they doing to themselves down there?”

Nobody had an answer, nor any idea of what to do about the situation; the solution would require godly wisdom.  And as much as Xoblah hated it, she knew Empusa was right; for whatever reason, she had the best chance of presenting the problem to their mistress without provoking one of Her infamous tantrums.  And there was no point in putting the ordeal off any longer; it wasn’t going to get any easier if she waited.

She soon found the goddess in the garden, having Her hair done by a nymph.  As soon as She noticed the succubus, She called out “Why, if it isn’t the stormy petrel!  And I was so enjoying my afternoon up until now.”

Xoblah smiled weakly, and tried to console herself with the thought that perhaps being turned into an incubus and having to deal with mortal women for a change wouldn’t be so bad.  But somehow, she just couldn’t bring herself to believe it.

One Year Ago Today

Wife Swapping” is the original name (and also the one I prefer) for the activity many now refer to as “swinging”.

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When I was young, it seemed that life was so wonderful,
a miracle, oh it was beautiful, magical.
And all the birds in the trees, they’d be singing so happily,
joyfully, oh, playfully watching me.

But then they sent me away to teach me how to be sensible,
logical, oh, responsible, practical.
And then they showed me a world where I could be so dependable,
clinical, oh, intellectual, cynical.

There are times when all the world’s asleep,
The questions run too deep for such a simple man.
Won’t you please, please tell me what we’ve learned
I know it sounds absurd, but please tell me who I am.

I say, now watch what you say or they’ll be calling you a radical,
a liberal, oh, fanatical, criminal.
Won’t you sign up your name, we’d like to feel you’re acceptable,
respectable, oh, presentable, a vegetable!

But at night, when all the world’s asleep,
The questions run so deep for such a simple man.
Won’t you please, please tell me what we’ve learned
I know it sounds absurd, but please tell me who I am.
  –  Roger Hodgson

A long epigram, I know, but an important one.  From the time I was quite young I had the feeling that I was being groomed for exploitation, prepared to be used for my abilities by people who didn’t give a damn about me as a person, and when this song came out (the summer before I turned 13) it really spoke to me.  Over and over again it had been crammed into my head that as the bearer of an “exceptional” intellect it was my duty and responsibility to allow that intellect to be used for the “good of society”…but according to the dictates of what “authorities” declared to be the right way, despite the fact that my mind was supposedly better than theirs! In other words, they wished to exploit my brain, and those of other intelligent people, as computers, without judgment or feeling of our own.  I was never to question the status quo, but only to allow myself to be applied like a power tool to whatever “problems” the “authorities” wished to attack.  Furthermore, I was never expected to ask what was in all this for me; that was “selfish”.  Presumably I was supposed to be satisfied with existing as a nameless, faceless cog, uncompensated by wealth, respect, recognition or even self-actualization.

Yet despite this, second-wave feminists and neofeminists preach that it’s somehow “better” to be valued for one’s intellect than for one’s sexual characteristics; as anyone who’s ever experienced both can attest, that’s a load of rubbish.  There is absolutely no difference in being “valued” for any one characteristic over another if those doing the “valuation” don’t care about the individuality of the one so “valued”.  A charwoman who is treated like a human being, compensated generously and recognized for her contribution is a lot better off than a professor who is overworked, underpaid, put-upon and mistreated, and anyone in his right mind should be able to recognize this.  The fact that neofeminists do not is a clear demonstration of their anti-sex neuroses and anti-male bias; they imagine that heterosexual activity constitutes mistreatment in and of itself, no matter what the attitude of the man involved, and are therefore unable to rationally compare the advantages and drawbacks of sex jobs with non-sex-related jobs.  On the other hand, many of them also have an equally deep and neurotic bias toward political titles and positions, and consider such titles rewards in and of themselves; they are therefore unable to rationally compare the advantages and drawbacks of “intellectual” jobs with non-“intellectual” jobs.

In my column of one year ago today I discussed what I called the “lie at the heart of neofeminism”, namely its claim to support the rights of individual women while actually subjugating such rights in order to advance the political power of neofeminists (who claim to  represent “all women” as a gestalt).  Since abortion allows women to reject their biological function as females neofeminists wholeheartedly embrace the right to it, but since prostitution allows men access to sex on fair and equitable terms they viciously oppose it, despite the obvious fact that a woman’s right to do as she likes with her own body and life supports the right to prostitution even more clearly than it supports the right to abortion, since the former involves only her own body and time while the latter arguably involves the rights of two others.  Either human beings own and control our own bodies, or we don’t; either individuals have the right to our own sexual choices, or we don’t.  You simply can’t have it both ways.  If the individual is to have personal autonomy his or her individuality, especially as represented by his or her decisions and personal preferences, must be absolutely inviolate until they abrogate the rights of another.  Neither society as a whole nor any subset of society (political party, religious sect, “authorities” or whatever) has the right to restrict or control the lives of individuals no matter how stupid, “sinful”, ugly, “selfish”, disgusting, “unhealthy”, self-abusive, “sexist” or otherwise undesirable those individuals’ actions may seem to anyone else.

What it all boils down to is this:  I’m a package deal.  You want something from me?  Fine, as long as it’s something I’m willing to give, and you’re willing to give me what I want in exchange, and you understand that it will be given on my terms and in the manner I judge best.  If that all works for you I’m your girl; if it doesn’t, you need to look elsewhere.  My gifts and abilities are mine to be used as pleases me; they are not for others to command or control, and only I determine which of them I’m willing to trade on, and when and how they will be employed.  I do not accept other people’s judgment as to which of them are “good” and “bad”, which “proper” and which “improper”, and I will no more obey demands for the use of my intellectual abilities than I will obey demands that I refrain from using my sexual ones.  Call me radical or criminal if you like, but understand that I am not and never will be anyone’s vegetable.

(P.S. – Hodgson, Supertramp and the record company appear to be embroiled in some childish dispute; there are videos of Hodgson performing the song alone, Supertramp performing it without him and others covering it, but every time someone posts the original version it is soon taken down.  The linked video was the best version I could find, but the sound quality is terrible; if anyone can find a better one please post it in a comment.)

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“Well, in our country,” said Alice, still panting a little, “you’d generally get to somewhere else — if you ran very fast for a long time, as we’ve been doing.”

“A slow sort of country!” said the Queen.  “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.  If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”  –  Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass (chapter 2)

One year ago today I published “November Miscellanea (Part Two)”, which explained how the U.S. government isn’t interested in prosecuting the trafficking of minors for sexual purposes when huge corporations like Time-Warner do it; reported that a Fox newsreader publicly advised another journalist to patronize sex workers; and linked an article called “10 Tips for Dealing with Cops”.  And though I already published a three-part “November Updates” column two weeks ago, several more interesting stories have surfaced and so I present this special extra update edition.

Think of the Children! (September 30th, 2010)

Child Cultists apparently believe that sexually-active adults emit invisible “sex rays”, and that if any of that sex wasn’t entirely vanilla the intensity of those “sex rays” increases exponentially and never, ever fades away.  Therefore no such person, no matter how long ago she committed these dreaded acts, can ever again be allowed with 10 meters of children lest her pervy emanations induce the dreaded “premature sexualization”, which might {Gasp!} cause innocent children to have sexual thoughts or feelings at some point before the magical Advent of Shazam at exactly midnight on their 18th birthdays.  Here, courtesy of TMZ, is the latest example of a shameless harlot recklessly endangering children with her dangerous presence:

Porn legend Sasha Grey says she will NOT back out of a national elementary school reading program — despite pressure from parents — claiming she will “not live in fear” of her XXX past…Grey…participated in the “Read Across America” program at Emerson Elementary School in Compton, CA last week.  Afterward, the school received complaints for letting Grey around the kids.  For the record, Grey has been out of the adult business for 2 years.  Now, Sasha has released a statement … saying, “I committed to this program with the understanding that people would have their own opinions about what I have done, who I am and what I represent…I am an actor.  I am an artist.  I am a daughter.  I am a sister.  I am a partner.  I have a past that some people may not agree with, but it does not define who I am.  I believe in the future of our children, and I will remain an active supporter and participant in education-focused initiatives.”

Good for Sasha; I just hope she doesn’t allow herself to be shamed into quitting as Tera Myers was.

Whores in the News (October 29th, 2010)

On October 27th of last year the FBI raided the offices of Escorts.com, and reports I received from working escorts in the ensuing months convinced me that the company had been taken over by the feds and was being used in an attempt to entrap working girls.  Fortunately, the operation was sloppy and heavy-handed and nobody with two brain cells to rub together was fooled; the site was closed entirely at the end of May and since the big pigs were unable to sexually victimize women as they intended, they contented themselves with stealing six and a half million dollars instead:

Two Philadelphia-based companies have been charged with running a website used by prostitutes and escort services to advertise…National A-1 Advertising Inc. and R.S. Duffy Inc. agreed to plead guilty to money laundering conspiracy and will forfeit $4.9 million, pay a $1.5 million fine and serve 1½ years of probation, according to court documents…the companies…operated Escorts.com beginning in 2007.  Prostitutes and escort services paid to advertise on the site, while customers were charged subscription fees.  The companies have forfeited the domain name.  National A-1 also operates phone-sex lines and a pornographic website.  Those portions of its business are unaffected by its plea agreement in the escorts.com case…The government said it reserves the right to prosecute individuals associated with the companies.

As we’ve pointed out before, companies aren’t responsible for the content of their advertising so the government had no case even if there was a federal law against advertising sexual services, which there isn’t.  But federal prosecutors are empowered with a whole arsenal of nuisance charges (“money laundering” and “conspiracy” being chief among them) with which to hound individuals and corporations to death based on the flimsiest of evidence or even no evidence at all, so National A-1 and R.S. Duffy clearly decided that paying the ransom demand was simply the cheapest and quickest way to get on with their corporate lives.

October Updates, Part Three (October 4th, 2011)

In my update to “A Tale That Grew in the Telling” I discussed the way stories get distorted in the process of rumor-spreading, becoming progressively more lurid and exaggerated.  Here, via Furry Girl, is a perfect example from journalist Anderson Cooper:  after the tsunami which struck Sri Lanka on December 26th, 2004, a man on a motorcycle took two injured children to a hospital.  Some bystander decided he was actually kidnapping them, and it was so reported in a Sri Lankan newspaper; by the time the story reached New York a few days later dozens of storm orphans were being abducted into sexual slavery.  It’s rather like And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street, except not at all cute.

The Crumbling Dam (October 14th, 2011)

Speaking of Furry Girl, I reported last month that she had to resort to a mobile billboard company for her sex worker rights ad after all the regular billboard companies rejected it (despite the fact that they’ve carried anti-prostitution ads in the past).  Well, her billboard finished its run on November 9th, and here’s a report from her (with photos) telling about how it went.  Let’s hope her next project finds an advertising company which is more interested in making money than in promoting a moral view via censorship of paying advertisers.

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People aren’t angels woven of light, but neither are they beasts to be driven into stalls.  –  Vladimir Korolenko

One year ago today I published “November Miscellanea (Part One)”, which reported on an attempt by the U.S. Congress to censor the internet; the fact that the U.S. government hides the proof that 95% of “missing children” are simply living with the parent they prefer rather than the one to which clueless judges assigned custody; the widespread resistance to the HPV vaccine; weird search terms; a Los Angeles man who reacted violently to a proposal rejection; and prostitute “Don’t Panic” plans.  These stories were all U.S. based, but today we’ll look at several stories from the “other side of the pond”.  The first two are from the U.K. and demonstrate once again why legalization (rather than decriminalization) does no good for sex workers; this one’s from the October 6th Lancashire Evening Post:

A man who ran a brothel masquerading as a ‘gentleman’s club’ has been told to pay back almost £750,000 of his ill-gotten gains – or face prison.  John Williams Burrows, 63, funded a “lavish lifestyle” from the proceeds of the business…he pleaded guilty…to managing the brothel…and…was given a 10-month prison term suspended for 18 months.  But now, a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing at Manchester’s Minishull Street Crown Court has ordered him to pay back £742,759.83.  He must pay in six months or face four years in jail, after which he would still owe the money…He could now be forced to sell his assets and hand over his savings to meet the POCA ruling.

Other residents in the remote Hough Clough Lane area said they were shocked by the news…[a spokesman for the police] said:  “Brothels are a blight on our communities and we fully understand the concerns of residents who live in or near areas affected by the illegal sex industry.  Burrows enjoyed a lavish lifestyle from the exploitation of young women.  He has a property portfolio that will now have to be sold to fund this repayment”…[another] said:  “This shows that anyone who profits from criminal acts will be pursued through the courts and we will do everything in our power to seize their assets.”

infantalized prostitutes adAs you can see, the fact that prostitution is legalized in the UK doesn’t stop the persecution of sex businesses, the overblown dysphemisms, the governmental propaganda against sex work and the use of excuses to justify blatant money-grabbing (how can one “pay back” money to the government that didn’t come from the government in the first place?)  Change the “£” to “$” and the names of places and institutions, and this is indistinguishable from an American news story.  The same could be said of the following “sex trafficking” story from the October 4th Northumberland Journal:

A sex trafficker has been jailed for three years and four months for controlling prostitutes in Newcastle and elsewhere around the UK.  Stephen Craig, 34, was jailed for arranging travel, accommodation and advertising for 14 women.  His co-accused, Sarah Beukan, 22, was jailed for a year and a half for her part in the human trafficking network operated by Craig.  They admitted at an earlier hearing to moving 14 people to various addresses…to work as prostitutes…they also provided accommodation for the women to work out of, put out advertisements for their services in newspapers and online, and took a cut from their wages…there is no evidence to suggest Craig and Beukan were trafficking people from overseas into UK…there was “never any pressure, force, threat or compulsion of any kind directed at the women involved”…Detective Inspector Stephen Grant, from Strathclyde Police major investigation teams, said Craig and Beukan were “despicable individuals”.

In other words, Craig and Beukan ran a business.  Period.  They hired people to do legal work as independent contractors and charged a management fee; part of that covered travel, advertisement and accommodations.  And this makes them “despicable individuals”…how?  Is Detective Inspector Marx simply opposed to capitalism?  Or, as is more likely, is he simply a prancing savage who imagines that sex is magically different from all other human activity unless a shaman shakes his sacred rattles over the couple first?  Just as in the United States, prostitutes are imagined to be infantile lackwits who can be “controlled” by anyone male, yet this outrageous sexism is cheered by neofeminists as supportive of “equality”.

I’m not suggesting that legalization is inherently bad for whores; it’s certainly possible to imagine a legalization structure in which we are treated fairly.  But as we can see in the U.K. and Canada, most legalization schemes aren’t much better than criminalization and all of them open the door to police and governmental abuse of prostitutes nearly as widely as criminalization does.  The previous examples came to my attention through Harlot’s Parlour, but the following example from a different regime (published October 19th on IPS) was sent to me by regular reader Bandoblue:

The severe financial and economic problems in Portugal are driving many women to desperation and pushing them into prostitution as a last resort to support their families.  The decision to sell one’s body cannot be taken lightly.  But for many mothers the alternative is to condemn their children to hunger, which is why “increasing numbers of women in their thirties, who are victims of the crisis, are resorting to prostitution,” said Inês Fontinha, head of the Associação O Ninho (Nest Association).  Fontinha…said that…[in addition to] the fear that is natural in novices to the game, many of…these inexperienced women are also afraid…of falling victim to human trafficking networks, often controlled by the so-called “Eastern mafias”, in comparison with which the local pimps seem almost harmless…

Alexandra Oliveira…a researcher at the Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences at the University of Oporto…[said] “Prostitution should be legalised to make it socially acceptable”…adding that it is still “highly stigmatised”…Her findings indicate that most sex workers, especially streetwalkers, come from the lower socioeconomic strata, have little formal education or professional training, and are from poor backgrounds…

What causes a woman to become a sex worker?  IPS asked two women who took up the life because of the crisis.  Pamela and Xana (their working names) said they are only in it for the money…”Lots of people mistakenly say that women who prostitute themselves do it for sexual pleasure, but they have no idea why we do what we do,” said Xana, a 29-year-old divorcée from Lisbon with two children she has to “feed, clothe and educate.”  Pamela and her partner also split up.  “From one day to the next he left home, and when a woman is left on her own with two children and the bills mounting up every day, life becomes pretty grim,” said Pamela, who worked in the textile industry up to a year ago…Both Xana’s and Pamela’s families are unaware of their activities.  Most sex workers lead a double life that their relatives do not know about…As for the sex itself, both women stated that they themselves set the rules, defining very clearly what was acceptable and what they were not prepared to do.  “We always insist on condoms.  It doesn’t matter if a client offers more money to have unprotected sex, we won’t agree,” said Pamela.  Can one be happy in such a life? was IPS’ final question.  Xana answered for both of them, with Pamela nodding agreement.  “When you are constantly judged and condemned, naturally you don’t feel very good…If our line of work was regarded in the same way as any other profession, I think we would feel better about what we do.”

Though the reporter is no less ignorant and the story details are no less lurid and sensationalized than one would find in the U.S. (including the typical emphasis on streetwalkers and pimps), the women are not portrayed as criminals, idiots or wantons, and it is notable that the Myth of the Wanton is specifically refuted by one of the interviewees.  Furthermore, though “human trafficking” mythology is unquestioned, the solution proposed by the quoted experts is neither the universal police-state crackdown to which American “authorities” masturbate nor the “end demand” dogma of fanatical neofeminists, but the simple and obvious solution proposed by sex workers the world over:  decriminalization, which is mistakenly referred to as “legalization” in the story (prostitution is already legal in Portugal).  Considering the success of drug decriminalization in Portugal and the generally more sensible attitude toward sex prevalent in Mediterranean Europe, this is not at all unlikely; there is even hope for a more rational policy in the UK and Canada.  Within the next few years it’s entirely possible that the only countries which completely deny women control over our own sex lives will be the U.S., its financially-dependent satellites in East Asia, and other oppressive Asian and African regimes.

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Every person knows that he should do what unites, not divides, him and other people.  –  Leo Tolstoy

In the ‘60s, prostitutes and homosexuals were in the roughly the same place legally; both of us were treated as criminals for our private sexual behavior.  Socially and psychologically, though, we had it better than they did:  while prostitutes were recognized as essentially normal and sane, homosexuals were considered abnormal and mentally ill.  Both groups started to fight for their civil rights about the same time, but while queers have won theirs whores have actually lost ground since then; most people now consider homosexuals sane and more or less normal, while the official position in many countries (especially the United States and several Scandinavian countries) is that whores are abnormal and mentally ill.  How did this sorry turn of events come to pass, especially since exclusive homosexuals make up less than 5% of the population while a similar fraction of women have prostituted themselves at least occasionally, and 69% of men have paid for sex at least once?

The answer is simple:  gay men and lesbians, two groups with almost nothing in common, banded together to defeat laws and policies which criminalized and marginalized them, but whores have instead allowed other women to undermine us by implementing policies which deny us agency and treat us like retarded children.  In other words, gay rights leaders built a coalition of a number of very small groups, while women – over half the human race – allowed our energies to be divided by giving a “bully pulpit” to a twisted minority faction whose members hate men, sex and their own femininity, and wish to destroy every aspect of traditional male-female social relations…including one of the oldest forms, prostitution.  And while the gay rights coalition just keeps growing (from “gay and lesbian” to “GLBT” to “GLBTQ” to whatever alphabet soup it is now), we divide our already-divided energies even further by wasting them in foolish infighting or spending them on gay rights efforts despite the fact that few of them help us in turn, and some of them even work against us!  Fortunately, now that they’ve won their place at the “big table”, some few gay rights activists seem to be recognizing the shamefulness of this attitude:

…What is it that so disturbs us about sex workers?  And do we even have a right to that judgment?  Specifically, does a member of a marginalized community have the right to condemn another marginalized community?  Do they still have that right if they are sitting on a bar stool watching hard bodied go go boys?…maybe it is not sex work we despise, but  the public display of same.  If that is the case, then what of cruising, and the hyper speed electronic cruising created by various phone apps?  Maybe that is okay, and sex work is not, for financial reasons?  If the working girls and guys of the world were out there giving freebies would we be okay with it?  At that point it is just anonymous sex, and since nobody seems to be  looking for a husband on Grindr, I presume we are mostly okay with that…

…The hard fast truth is a majority of sex workers are in the profession completely on a voluntary basis, and for many, it has more to do with the freedom the job offers than any financial consideration.  This is the denied voice—the words not spoken when we attempt to co-opt the sex professions for our own advocacy needs.  We will not  help anyone by demeaning them, and as much as we may wish to rationalize otherwise, we are really just trying to forward our own agendas at the expense of others.  Further, people generally make the mistake of assuming sex work is not a legitimate occupation, and so must be looked at differently.  Are there sex workers who took the job because there were no others available to them?  Because it meets their financial needs better than any other?  Who suffer from the choice because they hate the job?  Of course, but I know carpenters that would fit that description just as well.  Is anyone advocating on their behalf?…How is sex work different?

But, you say, sex work is against the law.  Okay, point taken.  I can not argue against current illegality of sex work.  But I can make the case for tolerance.  For starters, the lynch mob, police crack down attitude is useless.  Interesting that police are meeting with neighborhood  residents to address a large uptick in prostitution, when there is not one.  It is not as though a whole bunch of locals decided to turn tricks and all showed up on one block.  No, they moved, to escape the last neighborhood crackdown.  Sex work is not something you eliminate, just something you pawn off on the neighbor…

…we start by dropping our middle class puritanical objections and learn to accept that sex workers are humans and deserve basic rights and dignity just like everyone.  We also learn to accept that they too have the right to self determination, and assure that efforts to help them are never confused with efforts to save them.  We further recognize that this is a part of our community, as there are many LGBTIQ identified sex workers…We need to be, dare I say it, tolerant and accepting.

I’m disgusted to hear that some members of the queer community actually argue against prostitution on the grounds that it’s against the law, when male homosexual activity was illegal in most states within the lifetimes of most of these middle-class, puritanical homos, and only became legal in some states in 2003.  The existence of evil laws is not a valid argument against whatever it is those laws ban, and it certainly isn’t an excuse for ignoring the rights of those who break those laws; homosexuals of all people should understand this, and it’s sad that some pretend not to.  Though the people who have abandoned queerness (with all the word entails) for respectability may object to my borrowing their former slogan, I say to them:  “We’re here, we’re whores, get used to it!”

One Year Ago Today

License To Rape” is a power many cops grant themselves over whores…and some cops grant themselves over all women.

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Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth.  –  Aldous Huxley

On several occasions I’ve described prohibitionism using the metaphor of a dam built to hold back liberty.  But in Western countries where most people look dimly upon restriction of basic freedoms (such as the right to choose one’s own sex partners, the right to engage in business and the right to bodily autonomy), governments must invent excuses with which to rationalize the prohibition; the dam must therefore also hold back the truth, which would erode prohibitionist lies and with them the support for anti-whore tyranny.  But truth, like water, tends to seek its own level, and no matter how solid the wall it eventually begins to seep out.  Take this October 28th article from the Evening Standard, which reports that a recent London study has found exactly what any prostitute could’ve told them they’d find:

Most foreign prostitutes in London are not trafficked and choose to sell sex because it earns more money than other jobs, a study has found.  The majority of sex workers questioned believe that working conditions were better than in other occupations and gave them more free time.  Other perceived advantages cited in the government-funded study include “the possibility of meeting interesting people”, travelling and the ability to help their families.  But six per cent of women questioned in the study, which was conducted among “off-street” prostitutes in central London, had been “deceived and forced” into selling sex without any control over their work.  Several of these are said to have voluntarily continued prostitution after being freed by police from their oppressors.  Other negative factors cited in the study include the stigma of working in prostitution, which forced them to lead a “double life”, and the risk of robbery, violence and sexually transmitted diseases.  The most contentious finding, which is likely to anger anti-trafficking campaigners, is that few prostitutes working in the capital are forced to sell sex.

The study, carried out by Dr Nick Mai of London Metropolitan University and funded by the Government’s Economic and Social Research Council, states:  “The large majority of migrant workers in the UK sex industry are not forced or trafficked.  Working in the sex industry is often a way for migrants to avoid the unrewarding and sometimes exploitative conditions they meet in non-sexual jobs.”  The research also covered men and nine transgendered people selling sex in London.  The women worked as escorts or strippers and the men were largely escorts.

And while the prohibitionists are continuing their campaign to destroy an effective and inexpensive method of sex work advertisement in Backpage, that website’s owners, Village Voice Media, have not remained silent; here’s the latest salvo in their war on prohibitionism, a November 3rd article explaining the methodology and results of the John Jay Study whose findings I first mentioned in “A Narrow View”:

[Meredith] Dank and [Ric] Curtis…interview[ed]…249 underage prostitutes.  From that data, they were able to put a number on the total population of New York’s teen sex workers:  3,946…Curtis and Dank’s findings thoroughly obliterated the long-held core assumptions about underage prostitution:

• Nearly half the kids — about 45 percent — were boys.
• Only 10 percent were involved with a “market facilitator” (e.g., a pimp).
• About 45 percent got into the “business” through friends.
• More than 90 percent were U.S.- born (56 percent were New York City natives).
• On average, they started hooking at age 15…
• Nearly all of the youths — 95 percent — said they exchanged sex for money because it was the surest way to support themselves.

In other words, the typical kid who is commercially exploited for sex in New York City is not a tween girl, has not been sold into sexual slavery, and is not held captive by a pimp.  Nearly all the boys and girls involved in the city’s sex trade are going it alone.  [Curtis and Dank] were amazed by what their research had revealed.  But they were completely unprepared for the way law-enforcement officials and child-advocacy groups reacted to John Jay’s groundbreaking study.  “I remember going to a meeting in Manhattan where they had a lot of prosecutors there whose job was to prosecute pimps,” Curtis recalls.  “They were sort of complaining about the fact that their offices were very well staffed but their workload was — not very daunting, let’s say.  They had a couple cases, and at every meeting you go to, they’d pull out the cherry-picked case of this pimp they had busted, and they’d tell the same story at every meeting.  They too were bothered by the fact that they couldn’t find any pimps, any girls.  So I come along and say, ‘I found 300 kids’ — they’re all perky — but then I say, ‘I’m sorry, but only 10 percent had pimps.’  It was like a fart in church.  Because basically I was saying their office was a waste of time and money.”

There’s a lot more, and I think you’ll find it worth your time to read (and comment), including the story of how authorities in Atlanta rejected a scientific study patterned after the John Jay one in favor of the Schapiro Group’s wild and wholly fictional propaganda.

Of course, it would be easier to defeat trafficking hysteria if more American prostitutes would simply speak up about the lies the way sex professionals do in most countries.  A few years ago MTV, always looking for a fad it can exploit, started “MTV EXIT” (a sloppy acronym for “End Exploitation and Trafficking”); it’s a typical ignorant anti-sex worker charity spreading the same inane lies and misinformation as all of these groups do, except that it spreads its propaganda to young people through the medium of concerts.  In Southeast Asia, it has since 2009 conspired with USAID to impose American ideas of morality, to harass, persecute and destroy the livelihoods of sex workers, to expose them to torture and rape, and to traffic them into virtual slavery in the garment industry…all with the approval of the U.S. State Department.  This report from the Sex Worker’s Rights Advocacy  Network (SWAN) is two years old, but since MTV’s vile promotion of human rights abuses is still going on, it is still topical:

Cambodian sex work activists are outraged at the way MTV is advocating for fight against trafficking at the expense of safety and rights of local sex workers…In April 2008, the government of Cambodia passed an anti-trafficking bill which outlawed prostitution and classified all sex workers as a victim of trafficking.  This bill was sponsored by USAID.  The government’s motivation behind the bill was to avoid being considered a tier 3 trafficking country, which would bar it from receiving millions of dollars in financial aid from the US government.  Women accused of being prostitutes are illegally detained and sent to ‘rehabilitation’ centres where [they are subject to] gross human rights violations…such as…deprivation of medical care, rape, torture and starvation.  Detainees…are ‘taught’ to sew and become sweatshop/garment factory workers, where 72 hour work-weeks are the norm and salaries are equivalent to 36 USD a month.  Through its association with USAID, MTV EXIT has placed itself in the middle of a battle…for the right to work and…will be seen by audiences as reinforcing the Cambodian government’s anti-trafficking law and agenda….

Here’s a video they made in answer to MTV’s anti-whore propaganda; can you imagine this many American hookers making this kind of effort?  If Cambodian sex workers can unite against oppression, why can’t we?  Despite our vastly greater numbers, sex work activism here is marginal at best; I daresay few Americans realize that the sex worker rights movement even exists.  And it’s our own fault; we’re just too damned afraid to speak up for our own, too afraid of government-inflicted violence, too afraid of social and legal persecution, and too brainwashed by false notions of “sisterhood” to fight the twisted lies spread by neofeminists.  And if that doesn’t change, and soon, all of the scholarly studies and investigative reporting in the world won’t help us.

One Year Ago Today 

Ripper” is a different sort of fictional interlude, one told from the point of view of a future fanatic who longs for the “good old days” of commercial sex prohibition…and decides to take matters into his own hands.

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I wish it were not a sin to have liked it so.  –  Veronica Franco

Our word “courtesan” derives (via French) from the Italian cortigiana, but the term was originally used (with various modifiers) to mean virtually any puttana; those who met the criteria which we now associate with the word were called cortigiana onesta (honest courtesan).  16th-century Venice was renowned for the number and quality of her courtesans, and the most famous of these was Veronica Franco, who is remembered not only for her profession but also for her poetry and letters.

Veronica was born in 1546 to a family of the citizen class; she had three brothers who were educated by tutors, and her mother, a former cortigiana onesta herself, insisted that Veronica share that education.  This proved to be a wise decision, for though Veronica was married in her mid-teens to a physician named Paolo Panizza, the arrangement proved to be stifling and she soon sought a divorce.  Though Venetian women of that time could initiate such proceedings, obtaining a property settlement or support was virtually impossible if they did so; she asked her husband to return her dowry but he refused, and with a young child to support she had little option other than becoming a courtesan.  Fortunately her mother trained her well and Veronica was an apt pupil; she soon excelled at her profession and was able to support her family in great splendor for a decade.

Portrait by Paolo Veronese, c. 1575

By the time she was twenty, Veronica was among the most popular and respected courtesans in Venice; her intelligence, strong personality and sexual skills won her a number of important clients, including King Henry III of France and Domenico Venier, a wealthy poet and literary advisor whose salon Veronica joined by the time she was 25.  As a member of the Venetian literati she participated in group discussions and contributed to collections of poetry published collectively by the salon; she also helped to edit these anthologies.  In 1575 she published Terze Rime, a collection of 25 capitoli (verse letters) in the titular form; 17 of them are hers and the others are by Marco Venier (Domenico’s brother) and others, writing to and about her.  Veronica’s poetry is erotic and sometimes sexually explicit; she was not ashamed of being a courtesan but rather celebrated it, and defends the rights of courtesans (and women in general) in several of the capitoli#16 is a response to three obscene poems written by Maffio Venier (her patron’s cousin) in an attempt to publicly humiliate her.

Unfortunately, Veronica’s success was not to last; soon after her book was published plague broke out in Venice and raged for two years.  She was forced to flee the city, and in her absence her house was looted; she lost most of her possessions (including a library that was among the best private collections in Europe), and was only saved from ruin by the generous patronage of Domenico Venier.  The plague also took her mother and a brother, so she was left with the care of her nephews in addition to her own children (she eventually had six in all, three of whom died in infancy).  Upon her return to Venice in 1577, she unsuccessfully attempted to convince the city to fund a charity for the children of courtesans.

In 1580, Franco published Lettere Familiari a Diversi (Familiar Letters to Various People), a collection of 50 letters, to various clients (including Henry III), friends and others; some of the letters contain biographical data, others give advice (including one to a mother who was considering raising her daughter as a courtesan), and still others expound on her philosophical and moral views.  But as in 1575, this publication was followed closely by disaster; her son’s tutor, Ridolfo Vannitelli (possibly motivated by her spurning his advances), denounced her to the Inquisition on a charge of witchcraft, and though her own eloquent defense, the help of Domenico Venier, her many clients among the nobility and quite possibly the intercession of one of the Inquisitors won her acquittal, her reputation was irreparably damaged and the last of her fortune was depleted.  Venier died two years later, and Veronica was forced to move to a poor area inhabited mostly by lower-class whores.  She died in 1591, aged 45, in relative poverty and near obscurity, having outlived the heyday of her profession.

I first became aware of Veronica Franco’s story after becoming a call girl myself, through the movie Dangerous Beauty (based on Margaret Rosenthal’s book The Honest Courtesan); a friend of mine saw it and insisted we watch it together, and I’m glad she did because it was wonderful to see such a positive portrayal of prostitution.  The movie takes dramatic liberty with some aspects of her life, but it adheres to the spirit of her experiences and the attitude and personality displayed in her poetry; it opens with this English translation of one of her poems, but as it was written after the decline in her fortunes I’d like to close with it:

We danced our youth in a dreamed-of city,
Venice, paradise, proud and pretty.
We lived for love and lust and beauty,
Pleasure then our only duty;
Floating them twixt heaven and Earth
And drank on plenty’s blessed mirth.
We thought ourselves eternal then,
Our glory sealed by God’s own pen.
But heav’n, we found is always frail,
Against man’s fear will always fail.

One Year Ago Today

Unreal Princesses” examines the phenomenon I call “cyberdrag” (men pretending to be women online), and especially the case of Thomas Bohannan (AKA “Alexa di Carlo”).

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A functioning police state needs no police.  –  William Burroughs

One year ago today I published “Something Rotten in Sweden”, which explored the way in which “Swedish Model” rhetoric is increasingly being employed in American police departments to disguise their war on women’s sexual autonomy by concentrating on “busting as many men as possible so as to scare the rest and decimate prostitutes’ business, thereby forcing many of those without an established client base out of the profession without having to arrest a single one and thereby demonstrating their outrageous sexism.”  As we have seen, the practice doesn’t work any more than the “War on Drugs” does, and for the same reason:  it’s impossible to stop people from engaging in mutually-satisfactory private arrangements.  It does, however, give the government an excuse to harass and terrorize innocent men and to infantilize women, thus setting the precedents necessary to eventually revoke all the gains we’ve made in the past century.

The easiest way to predict the effects any proposed law might have is to examine another country which has already implemented such legislation; the best example for our purposes is Iceland, which implemented the “Swedish Model” later but much more broadly.  Also, it has no less-oppressive neighbors to which men can travel for commercial sex, and its small population has allowed the course of the Swedish Disease to progress with frightening rapidity.  As I stated in my column of  February 4th,

Iceland infantilizes its female citizens to an even greater degree than Norway and Sweden do, and in the pretense that prostitution and stripping are the selling of women themselves rather than services they freely choose to provide, Iceland essentially declares that women (except for lesbian politicians, of course) have no value other than their sexual characteristics…and so sale of those characteristics is seen as sale of the entire woman (since she has nothing else of value to offer).  And because the government of Iceland is unwilling to cede control over women to anyone (including the women themselves), any activities which offend the sensibilities of the rulers must be prohibited, even if it results in their country having almost twice the rape rate of any other country in Europe.

But to Reykjavík’s chagrin, a group of misandrist vigilantes is now using the law to attack men the government wasn’t really interested in prosecuting, as reported in this October 19th article from Iceland Review called to my attention by Deep Geek:

A new underground movement called “Stóra systir” (“Big Sister”) has handed over a list to the Reykjavík Metropolitan Police containing 56 names, 117 telephone numbers and 29 emails of men who expressed interest in purchasing the services of prostitutes through…websites…and classified ads…The movement made its intention known, that Icelandic legislation on prostitution and human trafficking are followed (where the buyer of prostitution but not the prostitute can be prosecuted), at a press conference at Idnó in Reykjavík yesterday where its spokespersons wore cloaks, hoods and masks to remain anonymous…The Big Sisters said the list is the result of three weeks of investigative work.  They decided to take matters into their own hands after police authorities claimed they neither had the funds nor the manpower to fight prostitution which they conclude is clearly thriving in Iceland in spite of it being illegal…“We advertised [online] and in the massage columns of the papers and in the beginning it was just to check the reaction,” one spokesperson said…One night a few of the movement’s members all…asked their respondents to meet them outside an ATM…They were supposed to identify themselves by carrying a [newspaper]…

The Big Sisters say that even though the buyers of prostitution try to hide their identities their computer skills vary and it is usually easy to find out who they are.  “We are good at what we do and we have assistants, for example women who have been involved in prostitution,” they said, explaining that they teach them the industry’s lingo.  At the press conference a few conversations between the movement’s members and buyers of prostitutions [sic] were played.  One was between a 48-year-old man and a woman whom he took to be 15, which made him all the more interested in buying her services.  The movement is demanding various actions, first and foremost that laws are complied with, but also shutting down [websites]…porn clubs…and…ads for prostitution in the media in all forms be stopped.  No one is safe now, Big Sister is everywhere, one spokesperson warned.

Behold what lies at the bottom of the slippery slope.  When consensual adult behavior is criminalized and civil rights suspended, other rights inevitably follow.  When the men of Iceland ceded control over their sexuality (and that of women) to lesbian neofeminists, they handed them a weapon which, predictably, they are now employing in furtherance of their own twisted personal vendetta against the male population.  Prostitution and stripping are already illegal, and it seems that porn will be next, followed by censorship of print media and the internet.  I don’t know if the neuter gender of the pronoun in the last sentence was intentional or just a Freudian slip, but it’s the absolute truth; thanks to the predictable results of these evil laws, no one in Iceland is safe now.

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Democracy encourages the majority to decide things about which the majority is blissfully ignorant.  –  John Simon

One of the more insidious forms of lawheadedness is the widespread belief that political fictions have a basis in reality.  For example, neofeminism rests on the confusion of legal equality with actual equality, in other words the belief that because the law generally treats the sexes alike that means they actually are alike.  Another such belief is that the legal equation of teenagers with children (both are “legal minors”) means that teenagers actually are children in some real way, and that a man who is attracted to a hot 16-year-old is therefore a “pedophile”.  But possibly the most dangerous confusion of all is the idea, common in the modern world, that because leaders are chosen and a few legal questions decided by majority vote, it also means that the truth can be decided the same way.  We often hear some permutation of the phrase which forms today’s title, but it’s total and complete nonsense:  the majority not only can be wrong, on subjects requiring specialized or firsthand knowledge, it nearly always is wrong.  I can assure you that no matter how many people vote on it, no matter how many signatures one collects on a petition, no matter how many self-appointed “leaders” demand it, facts will stubbornly remain in place.  You can’t make men and women psychologically identical by majority vote, you can’t raise the speed of light by petition and you can’t legislate pi to be a rational number.  And no matter how many people claim that “children are being sold for sex” on Backpage, it’s still pure bullshit.

Where do we even start with this?  First of all, no prostitute (voluntary or involuntary) is “sold for sex” or “sells her body”; as has been pointed out many times by many whore-activists, the act of selling automatically includes a change of ownership:  if the supposed purchaser does not take possession of the goods supposedly “sold”, no sale has taken place.  I still own my body, therefore I have never sold it; the same can be said for any other prostitute, either above or below the local age of consent.  And since nobody is alleging that anyone ever advertised on Backpage to literally sell a girl as a slave, with ownership changing hands, the statement that “children [or anybody else] are sold for sex [or any other purpose] on Backpage” is prima facie fraudulent.

Next, there’s that word “children” again; every supposed case I’ve ever seen lists the alleged prostitute’s age as 13-17.  I doubt anyone other than a hopeless lawhead would consider a 17-year-old to be a “child” in any meaningful sense, and considering that the age of consent in some American states is as low as 14, clearly the legislatures of those states don’t consider someone of that age to be truly a “child” either.  That leaves 13-year-olds, most of whom are biologically capable of pregnancy and are therefore not children.  Using the phrase “underage prostitutes are often advertised on Backpage” wouldn’t have nearly the emotional impact as “children sold for sex”, but at least it would be true, wouldn’t it?

In a word, no.  See, there’s still that passive voice issue:  “are sold for sex” or “are advertised” imply that the whore is the passive subject of some “trafficker”, but as we have seen fewer than 16% of underage prostitutes have even met a pimp, and 75% of them work only on the street.  There are fewer than 16,000 underage prostitutes in the U.S.; if only a quarter are other than streetwalkers, and if only 16% of <4000 girls are “pimped”, we’re looking at about 600 “pimped” underage girls in the entire country who aren’t streetwalkers…and the majority of those probably work in clandestine brothels rather than even attempting to advertise online.  The F.B.I.’s lugubriously named “Operation Innocence Lost” barely even bothers with the internet; as reported in my column of one year ago today, most of the young hookers they arrest (excuse me, “rescue”) are caught on the street or at truck stops.  Altogether, there are probably about 100 prostitutes in the entire country who meet all the hysterics’ criteria (underage, pimped online advertisers), or about 2 per state…sad, but hardly enough to justify shutting down an entire advertising venue on the grounds that those 2 girls might possibly choose to advertise on the targeted  venue rather than one of the many other sites available.  It would be like banning peanuts because they’re the agent of a common food allergy and 11 people die each year from all food allergies combined.

But since the fanatics are so fond of saying “if even ONE CHILD is saved it will be worth it!!!!11!!eleven!!”, I hardly think that they’ll respond to this logic, so let’s look at the final issue:  a pesky thing called the Constitution.  A federal judge recently ruled that, as previously established many times, internet advertising venues are not responsible for user-generated content.  Nor is the case a generic one; the ruling specifically dismissed a lawsuit by a former teen prostitute who claimed Backpage was responsible for an ad she was persuaded (not forced) to allow a pimp to place.  Of course, the attorneys general of 44 states (who apparently labor under the delusion so common to state-employed lawyers, that the law is whatever they want it to be) greeted this ruling with a toothless demand that  Backpage take down its adult services section; Backpage ignored the demand because, as the attorneys surely recognized themselves, it had no legal validity.

As one might expect, this inspired the fanatics to redouble their efforts (as Santayana tells us fanatics are wont to do) by starting a petition to “force” Backpage to stop doing what it’s legally and morally entitled to do, namely give adult women a low-cost place to advertise an honest and necessary service.  And as Laura Agustín reported, a group of 36 clergymen took out a full-page ad in the October 25th New York Times to make the same demand.  Their “open letter” begins with the spectacularly asinine statement “It is a basic fact of the moral universe that girls and boys should not be sold for sex”;  I’ve already pointed out the absurdity of the phrase “sold for sex” above, and Laura Agustín says the rest perfectly:

There are no rules of the moral universe because there is no moral universe, even about children and sex, not to mention about the exchange of money for sex.  The idea that there is some absolute place where everyone will agree on morality is an illusion held by some people with little imagination, who universalise their own experiences.  On top of that fantasy they build campaigns in which all other moral senses are turned into crime, sin and perversity.

Dr. Agustín also called attention to this Huffington Post coverage of the story, illustrated with a picture of Demi Moore exploiting an old Indian woman for her publicity.  I wonder if she asked the woman to move into position for the photo?  If so, the woman was “trafficked”.  And if Moore paid her, she was “sold for publicity”.  Sounds stupid, doesn’t it?  And to those of us who recognize that sex isn’t some magical sacred taboo which destroys anyone who uses it in a way prudes pronounce “wrong”, the mythology of “sex trafficking” sounds just as stupid…no matter how many people believe it.

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The greatest danger in Paris is the widespread and uncontrolled presence of whores.  –  Heinrich Himmler

At 11 AM on November 11th, 1918 Germany signed the armistice which ended the First World War.  In observance of the event November 11th was named Armistice Day in many countries, and later it was rededicated in the Commonwealth as Remembrance Day (to commemorate all war dead) and in the United States as Veterans Day (to honor all veterans).  One year ago today I presented the story of Mata Hari, the most famous courtesan of World War I, and today I’d like to tell you a little about the French prostitutes of World War II and the shameful way they were treated after the liberation.

When the Nazi war machine occupied France in May of 1940, any business which wanted to remain in operation had to deal with the Germans.  Shops, cafes, tradesmen and filles de joie had to accept German soldiers as customers or literally starve; the Germans seized 20% of all produce, 50% of the meat and 80% of the champagne, and what was not seized outright was purchased at the confiscatory rate of one reichsmark per twenty francs.  In Paris, the luxurious brothels of the Pigalle district (which was also home to the Moulin Rouge and Grand Guignol) were placed under direct military control and were only allowed to serve German officers.  And though independent whores were under no such restriction, they had little choice but to accept German troops into their beds if they wanted the only currency which could actually buy anything anymore.  Nor were the professionals alone; many single French women, or married ones whose husbands had been killed, wounded or captured, were forced to prostitute themselves to the enemy in order to provide for themselves and their children.  Even those with an income might find themselves hard-pressed; the ration allowance provided by the Vichy government was a scant 1300 calories a day (roughly two-thirds what an active adult woman needs and one-third the intake of a healthy teenage boy), and the only way to get extra coupons, goods or hard currency (to buy things on the black market) was to become what Frenchmen angrily called “a mattress for the Boche”.  Nor were all of these liaisons voluntary; landladies were often forced to billet troops (who then took what they pleased, as ever happens in such situations), and French streetwalkers were no more able to refuse the trade of unprincipled German soldiers than American streetwalkers can refuse the trade of the police; as in the latter case, they were lucky if they got paid.

Of course, this sort of behavior took its toll; condoms were as much in short supply as anything else, and as regular readers know men in positions of armed authority over women often refuse to use them even when they’re available.  The result?  An epidemic of syphilis (blamed, of course, on the whores rather than amateurs or the soldiers’ own stupid behavior) among the occupying troops which was so serious that Heinrich Himmler persuaded the Führer to order the manufacture of blow-up sex dolls which could be issued to the troops so they wouldn’t have to rely on French hookers.  This plan, dubbed the Borghild Project, was dropped two years later when it was found that soldiers wouldn’t carry the dolls for fear of ridicule if they were captured.

The officers, who were employing the high-class doxies of the brothels, had no such problems, nor did most of them abuse their companions; in fact, some of them later reported that the Germans were better, cleaner and more generous clients than the Frenchmen they were used to.  Because of this, many of them did quite well for themselves during the occupation, a fact which was to return to haunt them later; they, and the other women who managed to feed themselves and their own by supplying sex to those in control, were subjected to horrible treatment after the liberation.

French men who felt emasculated by the humiliatingly-rapid conquest but had lacked the balls to join the resistance and fight back, women who had been unwilling or unable to use their sexuality to provide for their children, and petty collaborators eager to turn attention away from their own actions, all conspired to revenge themselves on the whores (both professional and amateur).  Many of them were simply envious of those who had survived the occupation without severe privation, but while they couldn’t openly attack the merchants, restauranteurs and other businesses who had survived in the same way, the harlot is always a popular scapegoat.  Women who had prostituted themselves to the enemy were accused of collaboration horizontale (horizontal collaboration), a particularly nasty permutation of the Myth of the Wanton in which their actions were portrayed as the result of lust rather than business or survival.  Typically, such women were captured by mobs of vigilantes called tondeurs (shearers), who shaved their heads and sometimes paraded them through the streets naked, but this mostly happened in cities; in rural areas which suffered less the women were generally simply ostracized, but in other areas where the resistance was strong they were sometimes killed.

Luckily, this didn’t go on for long; as order was re-established the French authorities took a dim view of such lynchings.  Besides, the prostitutes were needed to control another invading army:  that of the Americans.  Instead of sex dolls, the American authorities distributed condoms, and soon Pigalle (or as the GIs called it, “Pig Alley”) was overrun to the tune of roughly 10,000 soldiers a day; as in Japan, the prostitutes were necessary to protect the virtue of unwilling French amateurs.  But once the war was over and the Yanks had gone home, French politicians with the same thirst for vengeance as the tondeurs unveiled their own plan to take their frustrations out on defenseless women: they started a crusade to close the brothels, which had been tolerated since just after the French Revolution, and selected one Marthe Richard to front it.  Richard claimed to have been an aviatrix, a spy in World War I and a resistance leader, and her popularity made it difficult for politicians to resist her campaign; in 1946, they succumbed to pressure and roughly 1400 maisons closes across France were shut down, with many of their estimated 20,000 workers ending up on the streets.

The police continued to keep prostitute registries until 1960, when they were finally destroyed; in the process of doing so the truth about the abolitionist champion Marthe Richard was discovered.  It turned out that not only were her heroic exploits a total fabrication, but that she had been a prostitute herself.  The woman who had been represented as a patriotic crusader against Nazi-loving whores had actually spent the first few years of the occupation in Vichy as a madam catering exclusively to German officers.  By the time Richard’s hypocrisy was revealed many French citizens had recognized the stupidity of the brothel ban, but it was too late; France was now officially abolitionist, having passed laws against “living on the avails”, “procuring” and “soliciting” in addition to banning brothels.  Moralists, control freaks  and (in later times) neofeminists have prevented any discussion of repealing these oppressive laws (despite the fact that prostitution itself is still legal) and now there is talk of imposing the repulsive Swedish Model on the country.  In a sense, this is just a continuation of the outrages perpetrated by the tondeurs; like their actions, the Swedish Model is nothing but misogyny, envy and vengeance dressed up in righteous indignation drag.

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