Archive for March, 2012

Beware of purity workers [who are]…ready to accept and endorse any amount of coercive and degrading treatment of their fellow creatures in the fatuous belief that you can oblige human beings to be moral by force.  –  Josephine Butler

Two new items, ten updates and four metaupdates.


Aristophanes’ comedy depicts an Athenian woman who convinces the women of both Athens and Sparta that the only way to end the Peloponnesian War is to withhold sex from their husbands; in the play, as in real life, the problem is getting all the women to cooperate.  The ridiculous sex strike American activists plan for April 28th is foredoomed to failure (as if a one-week strike could have any effect anyhow) because the wives of those making the objectionable laws won’t be participating, and even if they did the politicians would simply go to their regular pros.  But if all the whores cooperated

…The largest trade association for luxury escorts in the Spanish capital has gone on…strike…for bankers until they go back to providing credits to Spanish families, small- and medium-size enterprises and companies…a…spokeswoman [said] “…We have been on strike for three days now and we don’t think they can withstand much more.”  She has revealed that bankers have made some pitiful attempts to use their services by pretending to be engineers or architects…The bankers reportedly became so desperate that they even decided to call in the government for mediation…

Zero Information

Well, not zero exactly, but I couldn’t resist my first title beginning with “Z”.

A man who police say sometimes poses as a female prostitute to flag down motorists was arrested…Terrence Elliott…had been warned several times in the past few weeks…But Elliott was also found with a…crack pipe…and…charged with possession of drug paraphernalia [and]…loitering…

What the hell does this mean?  Is Elliott a drag prostitute, or does he dress in drag to rob or panhandle?  News stories are a lot more informative when they actually contain information.


Feminine Pragmatism (April 7th, 2011)

Because this was practically inevitable, she was a fool for waiting until her marketability dried up:

At the height of her fame…Octomom aka Nadya Suleman was offered a lot of money to show her body.  Vivid even offered her a $1 million deal to star in one of their films.  At the time…[she] swore she would never do nudity.  But dignity doesn’t feed 14…babies so…she [started] doing fetish photoshoots and now…topless shoots…However, she’s not commanding the same price she used to.  TMZ reports that days away from being foreclosed upon, Nadya has decided to go naked for…Closer.  Sources say she only made $10,000…

Subtle Pimping (April 8th, 2011)

Making money off of whores without giving them anything in return…is as good a working definition of ‘pimp’ as I can imagine…

…On Friday, March 30th…[the] 2012 Hooker Beauty Pageant…[will be held] in Hollywood…According to…[organizer] Natalia Fabia, the word “hooker” could be loosely defined as (excuse the pun) “someone who sells one’s talents and abilities, talent, or name for money, (but it also means) a rad, strong, talented, tough, colorful, independent, stylish, and beautiful woman.”  This pageant is Fabia’s platform for highlighting real women in Hollywood’s music and art scene…

Umm, how about highlighting real hookers – or more specifically, our mistreatment?  I googled Fabia and found no statements about sex worker rights or decriminalization, and nothing about part of the proceeds from her “hooker art” or publicity stunts going to hooker organizations, hooker rights advertising, outreach to street hookers…in short, she’s pimping our image.

Down Under (June 9th, 2011)

Australia continues to be what Sweden wants so desperately to be:  the world leader in demonstrating the proper way to deal with prostitution:

[A new study shows that]…New South Wales…is the best place in the world [for]…prostitutes…”Jurisdictions that try to ban or license sex work always lose track as most of the industry slides into the shadows,” [said]…Professor Basil Donovan…of [the] Kirby Institute… “In NSW, by contrast, health and community workers have comprehensive access to and surveillance of the sex industry.  This has resulted in the healthiest sex industry ever documented.”  The report, prepared for the NSW government, found…[that most] sex workers surveyed also reported being “well adjusted and comfortable with their occupation”…

The Crumbling Dam (October 14th, 2011)

Today the Ontario Court of Appeal delivered a landmark decision on …prostitution laws…All five judges…found that…the provision restricting “common bawdy houses” is grossly disproportionate and overbroad, and…that the provision restricting “living on the avails”…is overbroad because it would criminalize non-exploitive relationships…However, three of the five…upheld the provision criminalizing communicating for the purpose of prostitution, holding that the purpose of the provision…is legitimate and must be weighed against the harms it causes…The…decision will most certainly be appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada…

Here’s the full decision.  If there’s any justice in the universe, the Supreme Court will not only uphold the decisions of both lower courts overturning the bans on brothels and avails laws, but also reinstate Justice Himel’s decision overturning the “communicating” law.

Elephant in the Parlor (October 23rd, 2011)

Not news, but I want to catalog as many of these as possible:

John Edwards is denying a report that he used the services of a prostitute in New York…a call girl for…Anna Gristina told investigators she had sex with Edwards for money back in 2007…“Mr. Edwards categorically denies that he was involved with any prostitute or service”…  said…a statement.  “These allegations are false, defamatory, and he puts those who would publish or repeat them on notice that they acting [sic] with actual malice”…

I’m publishing and repeating them, and I fully admit malice toward career politicians, especially those who bear a huge part of the blame for America’s sky-high medical bills.

Divided We Fall (November 16th, 2011)

Gay activists could’ve demonstrated a commitment to supporting sex worker rights this week when “[Malaysian]…Deputy Minister…Datuk Mashitah Ibrahim…said…’The (LBGT) issue…can lead to prostitution, drug abuse, psychological problems and also mental illness…Part of the LBGT problem is caused by natural reasons, such as being born with two private parts…’” but instead many of them were just as indignant about being compared to prostitutes as they were with the mental illness and hermaphrodite stuff.  I guess once you win your rights in the West it’s OK to join in with stigmatizing other groups who haven’t yet, just to show you’re part of the gang.

See No Evil (November 26th, 2011)

An inability to tell fantasy from reality would normally be considered evidence of psychosis, but in law enforcement it’s a job requirement:

…the Canadian government [has] dropped all criminal charges against Ryan Matheson, [an] American…charged with…child pornography [due to] Japanese comic book images on his laptop…Matheson accepted a plea deal…[in] which he admitted to “a non-criminal regulatory offense…”

Presents, Presents, Presents! (December 29th, 2011)

I got three new presents this week!  Ted sent me The Science of Fear by Daniel Gardner, and Gumdeo sent me the movie New Orleans and a Cuddly Cthulhu!  Thank y’all both so much for thinking of me!

The Course of a Disease (February 16th, 2012)

Apparently Canadian neofeminists, angry at their inability to infect their native land with the Swedish Disease, have decided to poison the well in a country which is already sickening:

[Canadian MP Joy Smith] has taken it upon herself to encourage Knesset members [via email] to support recent legislation…which will make paying for sex services a criminal offense…“Israel now has the opportunity to pass progressive legislation and to be a leader in the fight against this form of modern slavery,” Smith wrote in the email.  “I urge you to support MK Zuaretz’s bill and help make Israel a country that others aspire to emulate.  The world is watching and waiting for Israel to take this important step and eliminate the demand to purchase sex…”

Obviously, Israeli reporters don’t bother to check their facts any more than American ones do; this one erroneously states that “most” Western countries have adopted some form of the Swedish Model, and swallows the easily-debunked prohibitionist lie that most prostitutes are coerced.

Above the Law (March 8th, 2012)

Apparently, the American federal government believes it’s only OK to grope people if one puts on a uniform and does it without their permission:  “[Bryant Jermaine Livingston, a TSA] manager at [Dulles International Airport] has lost his job after being arrested on prostitution-related charges…”  The story explains that Livingston was running a kind of cheap temporary brothel in a hotel room, stupidly returned to the same hotel and was ratted out to the Gestapo of Montgomery County, Maryland by the irate manager.


J’accuse in November Updates (Part Three) (November 4th, 2011)

in France…it’s OK to be a whore as long as you have no friends, family, employees, assistants, managers or other human contact other than customers”, and if you’re an official who has embarrassed Paris one too many times, you can be charged with the horrible crime of helping legal workers to conduct their legal business: “…Dominique Strauss-Kahn…is under investigation for “aggravated pimping” for his alleged participation in a prostitution ring in France…

Whores in the News in Further Developments (November 18th, 2011)

It’s now official; the government will steal $6.4 million from the former owners of Escorts.com.  As usual, the state’s claims read like an FBI drama, with heroic cops “investigating” hardened criminals; in reality, the feds botched an attempt to take over the site surreptitiously in order to use it to entrap thousands of escorts and clients.  The bogus “money laundering” charge was just a way for them to recoup their losses; despite FBI claims to the contrary, federal judges have repeatedly ruled that “facilitating prostitution” is not a federal crime and websites are not responsible for the content of ads.

Sex, Lies and Busybodies in That Was the Week That Was (February 4th, 2012)

Sean McBride, AKA “John Curtis”, has resigned as head of “The Grey Man”.  After it was discovered that a group of Thai children the group claimed to have rescued from “sex traffickers” were in fact ordinary village schoolchildren, Curtis issued a series of increasingly-absurd and self-contradictory “explanations” (including one on this blog), mostly based on a paranoid fantasy that a competing “rescue group” had conspired with the Thai government to discredit him.  But after new revelations that McBride routinely lied about the age of “victims” and the number “rescued”, he stepped down voluntarily before he was thrown out.  Good riddance to bad rubbish; let’s hope every one of the con artists who profit by the persecution of whores is similarly exposed, and soon.

Knights Erroneous in That Was the Week That Was (#12) (March 24th, 2012)

I’m pleased to see the number of voices raised in criticism of Nick Kristof’s anti-whore crusades is growing; ever-larger numbers of writers are pointing out the absurdity of the claims made by “trafficking” fetishists and calling attention to the harm this moral panic inflicts on women.  I suspect The Guardian will be one of the first major media outlets to officially denounce the hysteria; it’s published a number of articles on the subject, most recently last Monday:

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof is on the move and his  latest target is the Village Voice.  This attack appears to be part of a broader campaign to shut down the sex industry and to rescue  and rehabilitate women and girls working in it.  Kristof’s allies range from women’s rights organizations to religious organizations…the  critical lens applied to Kony2012…must [also be applied]…to the  crusades against sex trafficking…when women and girls are “rescued” by the anti-trafficking organizations, they may be taken to state-run rehabilitation homes that have jail-like conditions.  Human rights and sex worker organizations have long documented what rehabilitation might mean for a sex worker:  overcrowded conditions, a lack of healthcare, and violence at the hands of the police and guards…

It’s wonderful to see statements like these in a large newspaper, and even more heartening to read the many supportive comments beneath.

One Year Ago Today

In “March Q & A” I answer questions about cunnilingus, men pretending to be women online, and the sex drives of middle-aged escorts.

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Women have one mission in life: to be beautiful.  When one gets old, one must learn how to break mirrors.  I am very gently expecting to die.  –  La Belle Otero

Regular readers have probably noticed by now that most of the courtesans of whom I’ve written have two things in common:  many die in their forties, and the details of their lives tend to be vague and often contradictory.  For the former, I have no explanation except perhaps that “the light which burns twice as bright burns half as long”; a quick scan of the harlotographies will demonstrate that the causes of their deaths vary widely, from communicable disease to cancer to execution, which rather eliminates any common factor.  But as for the vagueness of their biographies, that I can explain; it’s simply that when one is in the business of selling an illusion, the details of one’s life may become as fluid and embellished as advertising copy, and one’s biographers are forced to choose between conflicting reports from letters, rumors, the rose-tinted memories of favored clients, the gossip of rivals and the propaganda of moralists.  Carolina Otero was unusual in that she lived to a greater age than any of the others I’ve written about, but typical in that it’s difficult to separate the facts of her life from the romantic legend of La Belle Otero.

One thing is for certain; she was definitely not the illegitimate child of a Greek nobleman and a gypsy from Cadiz.  She was in fact born on November 4th, 1868 of a poor family in Galicia, nearly as far as it’s possible to get from Cadiz without leaving Spain.  She was baptized Agustina Otero Iglesias, but changed her name to Carolina Otero sometime in her teens.  As was not uncommon among the desperately poor of that time, her mother placed her as a maid when she was still quite young, and she is said to have been violently raped at ten; though I was not able to confirm this, it was not at all an unusual fate for pretty servant girls of the time, and could account for her sterility.  About two years later she ran away to Lisbon with a boy named Paco in order to become a dancer, and though she later claimed to have married a handsome young Italian nobleman named Count Guglielmo when she was 14, this hardly seems credible considering that she had nothing to show for it and on other occasions claimed to have been the mistress of at least three different Spanish noblemen during the same time period.  It does seem as though she married someone around the age of 15, but was divorced by the time she turned up in Barcelona as a 19-year-old café singer and prostitute.

She soon attracted her first long-term patron, who took her to Marseilles and financed her debut on the French stage; the affair lasted only as long as she needed it to, and soon she was billing herself as La Belle Otero, the gypsy dancer who had launched her career on funds she had won in Monte Carlo.  By the early 1890s she made it to the Folies Bèrgere, where she soon became a star; by 1895 she was the most desired courtesan in Europe, and her list of patrons eventually included King Edward VII of the UK,  Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, Czar Nicholas II of Russia, King Alfonso XIII of Spain, King Alexander II of Serbia, Prince Albert I of Monaco, Grand Dukes Nicholas and Peter of Russia and a number of other noblemen and business tycoons.  She did marry again in 1906, to an Englishman named René Webb, but this does not seem to have lasted very long.  She claimed that six men had committed suicide over her, and though this was almost certainly just part of her hype it is known that at least one duel was fought over her.  In August of 1898, she was filmed performing a dance called “La Valse Brillante”; the one-minute movie was played in music halls all over Europe, further increasing both her fame and her demand.

The late Victorian and Edwardian periods in France are referred to as La Belle Epoque, and while England and the United States were descending more deeply into persecution of whores France loved hers, especially Les Grandes Horizontales (as the great courtesans were called).  They were in a sense the first modern-style celebrities; reporters followed them about to the opera, the theaters or Maxim’s restaurant (a favorite of the demimonde), and newspapers reported on their doings, including their pastimes and rivalries (such as the infamous competition between Otero and Liane de Pougy, who was less famous but probably wealthier).  They even licensed their images for postcards (as Princess Clara did), producing a sizeable secondary income for the most popular. 

Otero was sought-after until she was 50 years old, and retired just after the First World War to a large and well-appointed mansion; she had accumulated a fortune of about $25 million (about $360 million in today’s dollars), but neglected to adjust her extravagant lifestyle to her greatly reduced income and burned through it all in the next three decades.  Probably the greatest contributing factor was her love of gambling in Monte Carlo, because unlike her fantasy persona she lost prodigious sums.  The sale of her estate and the modest success of a musical based on her life (La Bella Otero, 1954) kept her going through the ‘50s, but by the time of her death on April 12th, 1965 she was living in a one-room apartment at the Hotel Novelty in Nice in a state of poverty nearly as abject as that in which she entered the world 96 years earlier.  The last of Europe’s great courtesans had outlived her fame, her fortune and her era; France had turned her back on harlots and declared herself officially “abolitionist”, and the time when a woman of Caroline Otero’s profession could be an admired celebrity had faded with her wealth and beauty.

One Year Ago Today

Backwards Into the Future” demonstrates how South Africa, once considered among the worst regimes for human rights because of its apartheid policies, is now moving forward on that account while the US slides steadily backwards.

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The scientific mind does not so much provide the right answers as ask the right questions.  –  Claude Lévi-Strauss

This time I answer three questions from readers, and present a fourth which the reader answered herself before I could get to it, then shared the information with me.

Several times you’ve mentioned how Kegels keep you at ‘near-virginal’ tightness.  Please give us all the details of your routine and how it works.  And how do you tell when it’s working?  Do you consciously ‘grip’ your partner’s penis during intercourse?  (Don’t you get tired?) As an older woman who has had children, I’d sure be interested to know what I can do to restore vaginal tightness (without surgery).

I’ve never had a full-term birth, so I never had the extreme dilation required for it.  Also, I was always unusually small and tight, so I have a natural advantage in that department (though I would probably have needed a C-section if I had carried to term).  That having been said, the Kegels really do help unless your muscles are too distended to work on (such as if you had tearing or an episiotomy during birth).  I’ve been doing it since I was in my late teens, so I never let mine get very far along, but if you’ve never done it you may need to get a Kegels exerciser (it looks something like a dumbbell) to help you (they’re available online, or your gynecologist may know a place you can get one locally).  I don’t really have a routine per se; I just do them whenever I think about it, even in the car or while sitting at the keyboard (it’s almost like a kind of fidgeting for me now).  If you need the exerciser you of course won’t be able to do it “wherever” and you’ll need a routine; again, your gynecologist may tell you a “best way to do it” but I would think twice a day (say, before you get dressed and again when getting undressed in the evening) would be plenty.  You might also be interested in this Wikipedia article on the exercise, which includes descriptions of the different exercisers available.

Since mine are very toned, I can actually feel the flexing, and obviously I get feedback from my husband; when I was still working, the reactions of my customers gave me constant feedback that I was indeed accomplishing something.  I don’t constantly “grip” my partner’s penis during the whole process of intercourse, only when I feel like he needs extra stimulation or if I am faking an orgasm (I can simulate the rhythmic contractions by conscious effort).  But since you’re just starting out, consciously “gripping” in the early part of intercourse (until you become too “lost in the moment” to keep it up) might be an excellent exercise and also give you feedback from your partner (men will usually say something if they notice you’re doing it; one client teasingly called me a “show-off”).  If you’re very worried about not doing it correctly, some of the more expensive exercisers actually use springs and some kind of indicator to show the relative pressure you’re exerting.  The PCG is like any other muscle; when it’s in good shape, exertion is not tiring unless you do it very strenuously or for a very long time; when it’s out of shape, exerting it will be tiring at first (but you’ll build up strength quickly).

Did you ever, heaven forbid, have a run-in with a client or co-worker who was HIV-positive?  If an escort were to find she was HIV-positive due to an unscrupulous client, would she leave the field or continue working so her income doesn’t immediately end?  Though I’ve always used protection with escorts, I’ve become a bit paranoid about it lately.

Though it’s extremely important to use protection when having sex with anybody outside of a committed relationship, the greatest danger isn’t from HIV but rather from syphilis and gonorrhea.  HIV is especially scary to most people because it can kill and is at present incurable, though modern therapeutic regimens have greatly reduced its lethality.  But despite the damage it can do to a person’s immune system, HIV is actually an extremely wimpy virus; studies have shown the chance of transmission from male to female via unprotected vaginal intercourse may be as low as 0.1%, and the chance of transmission from female to male under the same circumstances is lower still.  In fact, the sexual transmission of HIV from a woman to a man is so incredibly rare some have described it as a “myth”, though I’m not prepared to go that far.  Repeated unprotected intercourse with infected partners obviously increases the chance of transmission (though some African women appear to have natural immunity), and the chances are higher in heterosexual anal sex, higher still in homosexual anal sex and highest of all with needle sharing…but even that gives only a 10% per incident chance of infection.

I’ve never met or personally known of an escort who was HIV positive, though I’m sure they exist and one does occasionally read of streetwalkers who are.  Because such cases are far more likely to have been transmitted through IV drug use rather than sexual contact, I suspect it’s likely such a woman would keep working to feed her habit, so if you’re extremely paranoid about HIV you might not want to hire a hooker whom you suspect injects drugs.  But aside from that, considering the infinitesimally low female-to-male HIV transmission rate I honestly don’t think it’s anything you need to be concerned about, especially if you always use condoms and only see escorts who do the same.

One of the things I’ve worried about as a client is the notion that a lot of hookers were molested as children; do you think that’s accurate?  Also I quit seeing one addicted provider because I do not want to help her buy the drugs which are apparently killing her.  Do a large percentage of providers have such a habit?  Lastly, do you think many or most providers are lesbians when it comes to their own sexual fulfillment?  

The idea that a disproportionate number of whores use drugs, were molested as children, etc is propaganda used by prohibitionists to imply that our decisions are not valid ones due to “trauma”, and that the state therefore has the right to overrule those choices “for our own good”.  Most of these pseudo-statistics are drawn from studies of streetwalkers in prisons or drug rehab facilities; it’s a bit like interviewing unsuccessful hot-dog-cart operators and then using the results to make pronouncements about all restaurants from McDonald’s to 5-star palaces.  I discuss the syndrome (and provide links to evidence) in “Out of Context“.

The number of escorts who are addicted to drugs is roughly the same as the number of salesmen, lawyers and other professionals of similar income level who are.  If you feel uncomfortable contributing to such a habit, by all means use someone else’s services…but do the same if you discover your lawyer, contractor or whoever have similar bad habits.  As for lesbianism, I’ve never perceived it as more common among escorts than in the general population (and I’ve known quite a few escorts).  I believe the majority of women are bisexual to one degree or another, but many are afraid to experiment with it due to social pressure.  Since whores are already sexual outsiders, more of them are likely to experiment with bisexuality (and certainly it makes a nice change if one sees a lot of clients).  But the number of personally exclusive lesbians among pros is not, in my opinion, any higher than among amateurs.

I’m trying to find the Japanese term for Western girls who go to Japan to work in the sex trade.  I know about Miss Gone-Overseas, but need the reverse term.

Longtime readers may remember that the term karayuki-san (“Miss Gone-Overseas”) was applied to late 19th century Japanese girls who went to work as prostitutes in China, Korea and Thailand; by the 1910s the Japanese government began to see this as harmful to Japanese prestige and so enacted a series of initiatives designed to discourage it and to encourage the girls who had already gone to come home.  I didn’t know the opposite term but promised to look for it, but before I could make good the reader discovered the answer herself and shared it: the term is japayuki.

One Year Ago Today

The Scarlet Letter” discusses the drive toward increasingly vicious anti-whore and anti-client tactics, including unconstitutional shame-based punishments inflicted without due process.

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The present age…prefers the sign to the thing signified, the copy to the original, fancy to reality, the appearance to the essence…for in these days illusion only is sacred, truth profane.  –  Ludwig Feuerbach

I’m doing a regular Q & A column tomorrow, but every so often I get a question whose answer is complex enough (and general enough) to justify a full column; this is one of those times.  The author also very cleverly flattered me, ensuring a thorough answer.

I was wondering why you have not mentioned the birth control and Planned Parenthood controversy that has been going on, specifically the GOP attacks on its existence and availability.  I realize that it has been widely covered, but I would be (selfishly) interested in your thoughts, since they are usually quite logical and minus any hysteria or posturing. I’m also pretty alarmed by where the GOP is heading with their pronouncements–if all the career girls are to be stuck in the kitchen cooking, how much worse will the sex-loving girls have it?  I’m a current career girl and previously a sex-loving girl, so doubly-damned.  BTW, your articles on rape and the role of prostitutes in mopping up excess male sexuality were truly a light bulb moment for me. Literally, I had NEVER once thought that out, but once explained, I could only marvel that I’d never seen it before.  And I’m a firm third-wave feminist, well-read and far too well-educated about biology to believe that nonsense about how gender is just “conditioning”…yet I was so blinded by what “everyone knows” I never thought about the function that prostitution plays in a healthy society.

In a recent article for Smithsonian, Teller (the short, silent half of Penn & Teller, my all-time favorite magicians) explains “how magicians manipulate the human mind”, and points out that a number of their principles are also used by non-entertainers for less benign reasons.  Two of these principles are involved in the whole birth control “controversy”; one is misdirection, and the other what we might call “false choice”.  Misdirection is when the magician (or politician) gets his audience to look someplace he wants it to look in order to draw attention away from someplace he doesn’t want it to look; magicians accomplish this by showmanship, comedy or lovely assistants, and politicians by manufactured controversies they can loudly posture about.  “False choice” is the principle that if a person is given a choice, he believes he has acted freely; a magician uses this when he asks you to pick a card from a doctored deck.  As Teller points out, “You think you’ve made a choice, just as when you choose between two candidates preselected by entrenched political parties.”

The whole birth control “controversy” is nothing other than a smoke screen (on which both parties collaborate) to draw attention away from the real issues, such as the collapsing economy and ever-increasing police state.  We don’t have two parties in the US any more; we have two chapters of one party, the Big Centralized Government Party, and their differences are purely cosmetic.  That’s why I cringe when I hear women buy into the idea that the GOP is their enemy…it certainly is, but so is the Democratic Party.  They both want women safely denuded of rights and placed in farms where we can be kept “safe” and docile; all they differ on is which holding pen is best (kitchen vs. cubicle).  And though one might say that Republicans want us forced to produce babies, one might also say the Democrats want to imprison the babies we do have in government indoctrination centers (i.e. crappy public schools) where they’re taught to shut up, sit down and do as they’re told…and both want those kids arrested if they disobey or “make trouble”.  They both spread “sex trafficking” myth to suppress whores, both support ever-expanding police and government surveillance powers, both have refused to consider ending the drug war, both support universal criminality, and both support “end demand” schemes which criminalize men and define women as retarded adolescents.

So though I’ve touched on the controversy a little on Twitter and mentioned it obliquely in columns, I don’t think it would be productive to discuss it as an isolated phenomenon…because it isn’t.  The closest I got was probably in “Legislators Gone Wild” last March, in which I pointed out that a lot of the misogynistic legislation (from both sides of the aisle despite the claims of Democrats) is a predictable backlash against the anti-male policies of the past two decades, which have created a huge pool of resentment in mostly-male legislators (as any practical psychologist could’ve told them it would).

I’m really glad you found the articles on rape (and prostitution’s role in preventing it) enlightening; I’m afraid they’ve allowed anti-sex neofeminists to brand me a “rape apologist” (a propaganda term explained in my column of one year ago today along with many others), because the only way they can keep the believers in line is to teach them not to think about it.  The idea that seeking to understand the causes of a crime, and to discover inobtrusive preventative measures that work, is somehow “apologizing” for that crime, is a favorite of totalitarians everywhere; anything that interferes with criminalization, punishment and police suppression must be shouted down as “soft on crime”.  Demonization of human beings who harm others ignores the fact that they’re human beings, and just as flawed as everybody else.  Those who desire to suppress a particular group (men, blacks, the poor, etc) don’t want their followers thinking too hard about why the members of that group commit anti-social behaviors (i.e. crimes), and they oppose anything that discourages members of the target group from committing crimes, because if they don’t commit crimes the state has no excuse to brutalize them and lock them up.  In a very real sense prohibitionists of all types are pro-crime, because they WANT people of the group they hate beaten and caged, not helped to stay straight.

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The question is this—Is man an ape or an angel?  My Lord, I am on the side of the angels.  I repudiate with indignation and abhorrence the contrary view, which is I believe, foreign to the conscience of humanity.  –  Benjamin Disraeli

Charles Darwin first proposed the theory of evolution via natural selection a little over 150 years ago, yet despite mountains of proof there are still huge numbers of insecure people who, like Disraeli, reject it out of hand because they are afraid of the implications of recognizing humans as a kind of animal, connected deeply to all other animals on Earth by the legacy we carry around in every cell of our bodies.  These are people who are unable or unwilling to recognize their own worth as individuals, and therefore require some magical proclamation of uniqueness bestowed upon them by an authority figure.  In a way, it’s the ultimate “victim politics”; none of us, these people believe, are worthy for ourselves, but rather only as members of a designated “special” group.  They therefore fear and reject their own bodies, whose earthy needs such as food, elimination and sex are no less compelling than those of every other animal.  But of those basic needs only one of them, sex, can be avoided without resulting in death; therefore it is the one which must be denied most vociferously by those who wish to believe themselves closer kin to the angels than the apes.

Not all those who deny the ape beneath our skins are members of traditional religions; as I pointed out in my column of one year ago today, neofeminists do the same thing due to their violent rejection of their own feminine biology.  “Social construction of gender” is just a more subtle version of “scientific creationism”; it recognizes that sex differences in all other animals arise from instinct encoded in their DNA, yet denies that humans are subject to the same biochemical forces.  Though some adherents of this catechism may also be creationists, most probably believe in some patchwork rationalization such as the myth that our large brains somehow make us “immune” to sexual and sex-role instincts (yet not immune to hunger, thirst, pain, fear, anger, love, sorrow, etc).  In any case, the neofeminists teach that humans, unlike every other mammal, have no innate sexual or sex-role drives whatsoever, and that all these are bestowed through the mystic force known as “social construction”, breathed into our nostrils by the omnipotent Collective.  The most deluded adherents of this cult believe in something like the Calvinist religious doctrine of predestination; once a person’s personality has been determined by the almighty Patriarchy (the collective entity which acts as both Devil and Demiurge in neofeminist myth), a “false consciousness” is established which only salvation through baptism in the Holy Spirit of Neofeminism can dispel.  If any person believes her choices to be acts of free will, but she behaves in a manner at odds with neofeminist dogma, she is said to be suffering from “false consciousness” which renders her decisions equally false.  Only actions wholly in accord with neofeminist teachings are “correct” and free of Patriarchal conditioning.

Sane, rational people understand that the mere fact of a biological drive does not compel a human (or even a dog) to act upon it; retrievers can be trained not to eat the game in their mouths, human men can suppress the urge to mate with an unwilling woman because they know it isn’t right, and I can suppress the urge to eat something right now because I want to lose two kilograms I allowed to accumulate over the holidays.  But like all prohibitionists, neofeminists believe that moderation is evil and only a total ban on the particular “sin” with which they’re obsessed (in this case, male-initiated sex) is good.  Any indulgence in an urge of the flesh is viewed as a triumph of the Dark Powers, a little taste of death to the “enlightened” consciousness.  Fortunately, this sort of black-and-white morality isn’t the norm in the rightmost portion of the IQ bell curve; as any whore or stripper can attest, many of our clients are medical doctors, scientists, engineers and other highly intelligent men who recognize that sexual drives are natural, and indulging them won’t rot their brains or cause the collapse of civilization.  Indeed, one man who is probably on nearly everyone’s list of the brainiest specimens of homo sapiens on the planet isn’t afraid to treat himself to commercial sex:

Astrophysicist Stephen Hawking spends a lot of time talking about the universe and what it might all mean but when…[he] isn’t talking to sold out crowds he can be seen spending his time in sex and strip clubs.  The Daily Mail is reporting that the 70-year-old has visited various swinger clubs, sex clubs and strip clubs over the years including a Southern California swingers party which he was brought to by his nurses and assistants…he paid for private shows with various naked dancers at the Freedom Acres Club in Devore which he visited on a “handful of occasions”…While Cambridge officials deny that Hawking has made “regular” stops at strip and sex clubs they do admit that he visited a club “once a few years ago with friends while on a visit to California.”

Stringfellow’s Gentlemen’s Club in London Owner Peter Stringfellow told the Daily Mail that he actually had a chance to meet…Hawking at his club.  “I remember asking him if he’d like to have a conversation with me about the universe, or if he’d just like to watch the girls.  The answer was quite simply:  ‘The girls’. “  So there you have it, when Stephen Hawking’s not busy trying to solve the mystery’s [sic] of our universe he’s doing what millions of other men do, he stares at naked women…

I think we can assume Hawking hires the occasional hooker as well; despite his paralysis he has been married twice and has three children.  And I also think everyone can agree that neither sex nor ogling crumpet has damaged the great scientist’s intellectual capacity in the slightest; acknowledging the ape does no harm to the angel.

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One can never read all the books in the world, nor travel all its roads.  –  Anonymous

In “Presents, Presents, Presents!” I mentioned a few books readers sent me for my birthday and Christmas, and despite being frightfully busy for the past couple of months I’ve managed to read four of them so far.  Also, Dr. Sadie Allison sent me a copy of her new “how to” on anal sex and asked if I’d let her know what I thought, so I figured now was as good a time as any for a new book review column.

All or Nothing:  A Short History of Abstinence in America by Jessica Warner

Throughout history there have been those who abstained from one vice or another, and religious devotees who abstained from all or most of them.  But Protestant reformers like Martin Luther rejected the concept that anything should be abstained from completely as some Catholic religious orders practiced; instead, they preached the virtue of moderation.  But less than two generations after Luther abstinence was back in fashion among the Puritans, and by the 18th century it became an inextricable part of evangelical Protestantism.  Warner traces the development of the notion that moderation is undesirable, which caught on in America as it never could have in Europe because it was based in the sort of misguided optimism we’ve discussed before, the notion that man is perfectible.  She shows how in the late 19th century abstinence went from a personal choice to a thing to be imposed upon society by force (i.e. prohibitionism), and how it eventually permeated  American culture in general and led to modern excesses such as anti-sex laws, dietary fascism and the “War on Drugs”.

Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

Though I had heard about this book before, I became interested in reading it through Satoshi Kanazawa’s discussion of the epilogue to its sequel; I really wanted to read Superfreakonomics, but it seemed silly not to read the first one first so that’s what I did, and I found it fascinating.  Levitt is an economist who isn’t good at math and isn’t interested in analyzing the things one generally associates with economics, but instead wants to explore “the hidden side of everything”.  What that “everything” entails is most easily demonstrated by telling you the names of the book’s six chapters:  “What Do Schoolteachers and Sumo Wrestlers Have In Common?”, “How is the Ku Klux Klan Like a Group of Real-Estate Agents?”, “Why Do Drug Dealers Still Live With Their Moms?”, “Where Have All the Criminals Gone?”, “What Makes a Perfect Parent?” and “Perfect Parenting Part II; or: Would a Roshanda By Any Other Name Smell As Sweet?”  Need a bit more enticement?  The star of chapter 3 is Sudhir Venkatesh, the answer to the title of chapter 4 is “Roe vs. Wade”, and chapter 2 (in combination with material from All or Nothing) provided the inspiration for “Circle”.

Harmful To Minors:  The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex by Judith Levine

There is almost nothing in this book that will be new to regular readers; Levine’s position is essentially identical to my own.  She points out that only in America is sex in general and sex among legal minors in particular treated as pathological; that sexuality starts at an early age, surges at adolescence and develops throughout the teens rather than springing into existence at midnight on a person’s 18th birthday; that the suppression of teen sexuality is far more harmful than teen sex itself; that keeping kids in ignorance creates a whole host of problems which only barely exist in Europe; that the “predator panic” has caused grievous harm to society in general and kids in particular; that sexuality is natural and involuntary, and that sexual impulses cannot merely be ignored; that normal childhood behaviors, especially in boys, are now pathologized and even criminalized; etc, etc, etc.  What makes the book worth reading is Levine’s backing up her points with exhaustive research, and providing numerous examples which you can be sure I’ll employ in future columns on the subject.  As so often happens with books on sexual topics, the few negative reviews on Amazon actually serve as positive reviews to those who recognize them for what they are.

Tickle My Tush by Sadie Allison

Dr. Sadie has released several previous manuals (covering subjects ranging from sex positions to toys) through her own imprint, Tickle Kitty, and in this new book promises “Mild-to-Wild Analplay Adventures for Everybody.”  I must admit I had a little anxiety about reading it; though I have no hang-ups about my own bottom, “pegging” and prostate massage are just not my cup of tea.  I needn’t have worried; though there’s plenty of information here, Dr. Sadie’s playful, light style presented it in a way calculated to reduce the squick-out factor to approximately nought.  The book is a quick read, divided into chapters and short “subchapters” of two pages or less each, with plenty of illustrations; it’s designed to be perused by couples together, and to be easily consultable later.  After a general overview she moves on to discuss safety, hygiene and anatomy before proceeding to topics arranged in order of increasing “wildness”, starting with massage of the butt cheeks and ending up with positions.  One especially clever feature of the book is two different “FAQ” chapters, one at the beginning (the sort of questions asked by total neophytes) and the other at the end (the sort asked after reading the book or enjoying some experience with analplay).  The only thing I didn’t care for was her use of “cute” words for the body parts and activities, but that’s just me; I totally understand that she was trying to avoid being clinical, and I think most readers will probably be much more comfortable with, for example, “o-ring” rather than “sphincter”.

A Vindication of the Rights of Whores edited by Gail Pheterson

This volume, published in 1989, provides a snapshot of the whores’ rights movement of a quarter-century ago through essays from a number of different writers and almost five dozen contributors, including a number whose names you already know (such as Annie Sprinkle, Margo St. James and Norma Jean Almodovar).  The second part of the book is comprised of a series of transcripts from the first and second World Whores’ Congresses (in 1985 and 1986), including the World Charter for Prostitutes’ Rights.  I found the book especially interesting in two ways:  First, it gives a window onto the very beginnings of “Third Wave” feminism by raising the issue of sexual self-determination and presenting a series of statements from feminists who attended the Second Congress and became convinced that their previous belief in prostitution as “exploitation” or “violence against women” was ignorant and incorrect.  Second, it contains what may be the earliest published statement against “trafficking” mythology, considering that few people outside activism or feminism even knew what the term meant until a decade later: “The ICPR objects to policies which give women the status of children and which assume migration through prostitution among women to be always the result of force or deceit…

One Year Ago Today

A Foregone Conclusion” is the story of the short, failed career of Markus, the “prostidude” of the Shady Lady Ranch in Nevada.

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Only the educated are free.  –  Epictetus, Discourses (II, i)

Every once in a while this site is discovered by someone from an online community which doesn’t overlap the sex work or libertarian circles to any great degree, and if that person goes out and “tells her friends” by linking me, there’s generally a huge increase in traffic for a few days or even weeks.  Many who arrive via these mass migrations aren’t used to honesty and free thought unencumbered by dogma; some find the change refreshing and become regular readers, while others don’t like it, don’t “get” what I’m about and aren’t really interested in finding out.  And that’s totally fine; humans are all individuals, and everyone has different opinions.  I don’t even mind when someone dislikes my style or disagrees with my conclusions; most of my readers disagree with me from time to time, some always disagree with me on certain subjects, and a few have told me they disagree with me most of the time but still enjoy my writing or like my challenging their preconceptions.  I think that’s absolutely fantastic; it shows me that my readers are largely intelligent people who know their own minds, individuals rather than herd-dwellers.  But what annoys and saddens me is when ideologues decide that I’m so dangerous to their agenda they must go out of their way to misrepresent my writings to others, either by outright lies or by taking words and passages out of context.  They do this to keep those others from hearing what I have to say by either A) scaring them away from reading me at all; or B) installing a preconception filter in their minds, like a preacher who tells his listeners what the “Satanic message” says before he plays the record backward and thereby ensures that the weak-minded will hear exactly that.

For any given issue there are three positions:  Those who are strongly for it, those who are strongly against it, and those who don’t have a strong opinion either way.  And no matter what fanatics and demagogues may tell you, the third is nearly always the largest group on any issue.  When trying to sway public opinion, therefore, the wise writer or speaker targets that middle group, the “silent majority”.  It’s silly to waste energy in trying to convince those who are already convinced (“preaching to the choir”), and pointless to argue with those who are dogmatically committed to the opposite view (one can’t reason a person out of a position he didn’t reason himself into).  But the members of that third group, if they can be won, will decide the way the wheel turns.  They are the ones who took it for granted that black and white people couldn’t live together peacefully, but now abhor racism; they’re the ones who accepted the claim that homosexuals were perverts, yet now agree with equal conviction that they shouldn’t be mistreated.  And they’re the ones that in the United States believe that whores are pathetic losers, degraded victims or depraved criminals, but in most other Western nations disagree with that notion.  They’re the ones the “trafficking” fetishists have drawn into their moral panic, and the ones who will drop that panic like yesterday’s fad once the majority recognize it as a lie.

Most activists spend a lot of time spinning their wheels, either by standing around agreeing with each other like a gaggle of “New Age woman” stereotypes, or by shouting at people who might as well be brick walls for all the good it will do.  But the wise activists (and wisdom is found as frequently in the evil as in the good) understand that neither of those groups are the ones they need to reach, and so work on disseminating information (if pro-freedom) or disinformation (if anti-life).  Since I’m in favor of free thought and free choice I encourage my readers to find out everything about the subjects on which I write; I accept disagreement and welcome correction, and I share the facts that might undermine my position alongside those that reinforce it.  I trust in the capacity of human beings to make the right decision when they have all the information.  Ironically, the prohibitionists feel that way, too, but since they want people to make the wrong decision instead, to choose the path of fear, darkness and submission over that of enlightenment and freedom, it’s necessary to ensure that they don’t have all the information.  The easiest way to do this is by hiding it, but that doesn’t work too well in the internet era.  So instead, they have to emit so much noise that their opponents’ message is drowned out, and the scholarly works are buried in vast mountains of propaganda leaflets.  The most effective mask of truth is emotion; if a thought-controller can get his audience sufficiently angry or frightened or disgusted, its members will be unable to think clearly enough to recognize the truth when they hear it and may even attack those who try to share it with them.

One year ago today I described an interaction between pro- and anti-rights commenters on a sex worker rights article; the pro-rights people appealed to reason, provided links to facts, and pointed out that they had no desire to impose their decisions on anyone else but rather advocated that every woman be free to control her own body and sexuality.  The prohibitionists, on the other hand, appealed to emotion, provided only unsubstantiated propaganda and insisted that they had a right to control other women’s sexuality due to their bizarre myth that all women are as interconnected as serpents growing out of some immense gorgon’s head.  Because neither side had a clear majority, neither could drown out the other…and that’s fine, because it allows people to make up their own minds based on the arguments as presented.  But when a column of mine was reprinted on Feministe last month, something entirely different happened:  at first, there were both critical and non-critical comments, but soon a small group of neofeminists recognized my blog for what it is and took swift action to stop my message from getting through.  They apparently went trolling to find passages they could spin in a negative way, recognizing that once they told the “true believers” what the “hidden message” was, they would see that and only that even if they went looking for themselves.  In short order this blog was branded “racist, misogynist, fat-shaming and transphobic” despite the evident absurdity of each of those claims; I’m surprised they didn’t add “homophobic” for a grand slam.

But though nobody dared to protest for fear of being tarred with the same ridiculous (but to that crowd, horrifying) brush, nonetheless I picked up a dozen new subscribers by the time my traffic from Feministe subsided.  Despite the vicious attempt to silence me, despite the wailing cacophony of PC terminology with which they tried to drown me out, I still found several members of my target audience:  namely, sensible people who know the truth when they see it and appreciate those who let them make decisions for themselves rather than telling them what they’re allowed to think.

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Man’s mind is so formed that it is far more susceptible to falsehood than to truth.  –  Desiderius Erasmus

Eleven updates and two meta-updates.

Amsterdam (November 1st, 2010)

Prohibitionists claim that “sex trafficking” decreases when prostitution is criminalized and increases when it is legalized or decriminalized; the Netherlands is one of their favorite targets, and here Wendy Lyon of Feminist Ire demonstrates that recent statistics fail to support prohibitionist claims, and that what “trafficking” there is seems more the fault of Dutch controls than of the sex trade itself.

Sea Change (November 4th, 2010)

Increasing numbers of educated people reject prohibitionist claims about sex work and even recognize it as a positive good.  One of these is Dr. Hernando Chaves, sex columnist for AskMen, who recently answered the question “Is there anything wrong with [seeing] a prostitute? What risks are there…?

…This answer for you depends on…personal attitudes, social judgments, religious/spiritual views, your culture…and a host of other variables…In many cultures throughout history, money…[has] been exchanged for…sexual activity, sometimes as a form of…worship…besides the risk of being arrested and charged where it’s not legal, the risks are quite similar those you would take on with a non-sex-work partner.  Any partner can break your heart, take your money, pass along an STI…and so on.  It’s not fair to attribute these risks [only] to sex workers…some…bring up sex slavery…and other dark sides to sexual activity, but…true sex work…is a business decision made by consenting adults…

Welcome To Our World (January 20th, 2011)

Most of you have probably heard of the controversy over Mike Daisey’s highly-falsified report of conditions in Apple’s Chinese factories:

Public radio’s popular This American Life episode about abuses in the Foxconn factories…has been retracted on the grounds of… “significant fabrications”…When you read something bad about a Foxconn factory and then see that thousands of people line up for the chance of a job at one of them, that really ought to make you wonder.  What were those guys doing the day before they decided to stand in line?…

This is of course what writers like Dr. Laura Agustín keep trying to make people understand:  prohibitionists harp on what they consider horrible conditions in third-world brothels, or in the process of migration to a more affluent country, but ignore that people nearly always chose them as the best available option.  Furthermore, busybodies just can’t resist depicting these choices as worse than they actually are:

…If you’ve ever tweeted about how bad Apple is, blogged about the evils of Foxconn’s sweatshops, or “Liked” a Facebook post excoriating how iPads are made, then you should listen [to the retraction of Daisey’s story]…I’ve covered the company as a reporter for more than a decade…Mike Daisey claimed to have come across 12-year-old workers, armed guards, crippled factory operators.  We saw none of that.  And we did try to find them.  Nothing would have been more compelling for us and our story than to have a chat with a preteen factory operator about how she enjoyed (or not) working 12-hour shifts making iPads.  We didn’t get such an anecdote…The biggest gripe, which surprised us somewhat, is that they don’t get enough overtime.  They wanted to work more, to get more money…It wasn’t paradise…some of their managers were harsh…and…others found their job boring.  Some were just plain homesick…Compared to the lies, the truth just doesn’t make good theater.

Now substitute “Nick Kristof” for “Mike Daisey”, “brothel” for “factory”…you get the picture.

Shifting the Blame (January 26th, 2011)

This story has been pitched by a number of advocates as good news, but my skeptical mind can’t help noticing that the commissioner who said “What activities these victims may have engaged in…does not matter…They were young women whose lives were cut tragically short,“ has been replaced by one who is “on the same page” with the DA who says it was the victims’ fault for being whores:

The Suffolk police…has a new chief who says he plans a fresh look at…the Gilgo Beach murders, and believes more than one killer was responsible…That view is at odds with a single-killer theory that was aired last December by then-Police Commissioner Richard Dormer, setting off an unusual public argument with District Attorney Thomas Spota, who also believes there were multiple killers.  Spota said it’s good that he and Fitzpatrick are “on the same page…Not one detective familiar with the facts of this case believes one person is responsible for these homicides”…

Of course, that’s what they would say since the chief suspect is a cop.  And speaking of serial killers…

Surplus Women (September 27th, 2011)

The FBI suspects a number of serial killers are working as long-haul truckers, the better to cover up their monstrous deeds.”  It looks like they’ve found one:

A 54-year-old truck driver from San Antonio…[named] Kenneth Dunn picked up Stephanie Williams, 43, at a truckstop outside of Dallas in February.  Dunn then fatally beat Williams and dumped her body in an industrial area…about a week later, Dunn was arrested and charged with murder…Police said that five other prostitutes have been found dead in the Lubbock area over the past dozen years…Dunn…hasn’t [yet] been charged in any of them…

Elephant in the Parlor (October 23rd, 2011)

Politicians hiring hookers isn’t news, unless they’re impotent Swedish politicians:

…[A former government] minister…has been convicted for trying to buy sex from a known prostitute…police saw him pick up the woman in his car…[but he] felt that he was being followed, [so] he stopped the car…and let her out…When he found out he was under suspicion for attempting to purchase sex he confessed straight away and was fined 19,200 kronor ($2,814).  Now, however, he denies all allegations.  “I have prostate cancer and it is treated with hormones, which means the sex drive disappears.  I am medically castrated, one could say,” he told Aftonbladet.  Instead, the man claims he was giving the woman a ride home…“The police told me that I could choose between the case being taken to court with all the public exposure that would entail or accept an order of summary punishment…”

Note how, though women are supposedly not targeted by the Swedish Model, the police spy on “known prostitutes” in order to entrap and shake down men.

Bad Fantasy, Good Reality (October 27th, 2011)

Yet another Asian prostitute study confirms what we already know:

Female prostitutes on average earn VND10.6 million per month (over $500) while male prostitutes earn VND6.55 million (over $300), around 2.5 times over the average earning of the group of 20 percent highest income earners in Vietnam…Dr. Nguyen Huu Minh…says that around three fourths of the interviewed prostitutes began …at the age of less than 25; 18 percent of them at the age of 16-18 and around four percent at the age of less than 15…nearly 50 percent…have secondary, high school and university degrees…over 60 percent of the interviewed prostitutes work independently or in a group of friends and acquaintances…Most…said that they became prostitutes because of high income (53 percent)…

Note also that even in one of the poorest countries in the region, very few girls enter the trade at an age below 15…just like everywhere else.

Schadenfreude (November 28th, 2011)

Southeast Asian sex worker rights organizations enjoy making videos to call attention to their mistreatment at the hands of police spurred on by American busybodies; here’s a cute little silent comedy named “Last Rescue in Siam” from the Thai organization EMPOWER.  Enjoy!

Gullible’s Travels (December 27th, 2011)

In the first paragraph of this column I provided a short list of recent media scares; if you’d like more of the same, here’s Gawker’s “Timeline of Moral Panics in the Last Decade”.  Sex trafficking hysteria is conspicuous by its absence; I guess they only wanted scares rather than full-blown panics.

Twice as Interesting (February 11th, 2012)

The prostitute and the stripper who participated in the Ottawa “Human Library” recently published an article in which they take exception to a reporter’s coverage of the program:

…Anthony Furey…balks at “activist agendas” that “turn human beings into stereotypes”…he considers most of the human books to be “of a decidedly fringe flavour”…[and] insists that the…event “fetishizes people’s differences” and argues that “whatever differences there are have more to do with their character…”  [But] as much as we’d like to think that people are judged only by their characters, that is simply not true…for those of us “of a decidedly fringe flavour,” our experiences with stigma and discrimination have shaped our lives.  These are precisely the differences that are important to hear about.  As such, the Human Library is not fetishizing people’s differences, but rather bringing diverse (and in many cases, rarely heard) experiences to light…

Knights Erroneous (March 18th, 2012)

A couple of hours after last Sunday’s column was published, I noticed a huge surge in traffic; as it turns out, Nicholas Kristof had discovered the column and “tweeted” it to his 1.2 million followers, eventually resulting in a new record for visits in one day (3522).  A number of those visitors subscribed, so I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome them and to thank Kristof for all the new readers.  On the same day he published another of his Backpage smear columns, only this time he failed to cover his tracks:

Nicholas D. Kristof…wrote…”Alissa says pimps routinely peddled her on Backpage”…That is not true.  According to Alissa’s court testimony, she was 16 in 2003.  Backpage.com did not exist…in 2003…she…came to the FBI’s attention in August, 2005 [and] was…relocated away from…Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Atlantic City…In the summer of 2005 Backpage.com did not exist in [those cities]…Had Kristof followed any of The New York Times’ standards of journalism, he would have known this.  He could have read the court transcripts…[or] coverage in The Boston Globe…[or even] asked us…Instead, he concocted a story to suit his agenda and then asked his readers to boycott Village Voice Media…

This isn’t the first time Kristof has lied to advance one of his crusades; look for “Feet of Clay”, coming April 5th, for another example from a decade ago.


Coming and Going in That Was the Week That Was (#10) (March 10th, 2012)

The Manhattan district attorney’s office spent five years and hundreds of man-hours spying on Anna Gristina, and for what? “Gristina…is considering pleading guilty to the one charge against her — felony promoting of prostitution.  Even if prosecutors were successful at winning the maximum sentence…2½ years…she’d serve only…a year…before…work release as a nonviolent first offender…”  New York readers, do you really feel this is a valid use of your public funds?  This editorialist doesn’t:  “…See, crimes should have an actual victim. If they don’t, than they don’t make any sense.  Crimes without victims are well, stupid.  They are a waste of resources, tax dollars and waste the freedoms and liberties of the people charged…This prosecution is simply idiotic…

The Sky is Falling! in That Was the Week That Was (#11) (March 17th, 2012)

Last week I reported that a newspaper editor had died while visiting his sugar baby; well, it turns out she wasn’t a sugar baby and he was a total hypocrite:

…The young woman Caldwell visited was a full-time call girl…[who] has been advertising…for three years on a regional website called TNA Board…Since 2000…Caldwell …published at least 16…editorials on prostitution.  “Some people will tell you that prostitution is a victimless crime,” an Oregonian editorial said in 2001.  “They’re wrong…[W]hen you think about it, you realize prostitution isn’t ‘victimless’ even when prostitutes reach the grand old ages of 15 or 17 or 19.”  In 2008, another…editorial linked prostitution to “distress, blight and violence,” and…[in] 2010 [another]…in favor of a city proposal to seize assets…[said] “The embarrassment factor probably doesn’t weigh heavily on pimps…but with johns, it’s a different story.”

Maybe once enough of these lying bastards are exposed, they’ll finally begin to publicly support the rights of women they patronize in private.

One Year Ago Today 

The Soft Weapon” reports on the Village Voice’s debunking of the Schapiro Group, and a Canadian editorial’s comparing sex work to hockey.

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Alice laughed.  “There’s no use trying,” she said: “one can’t believe impossible things.”

“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day.  Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”  –  Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass

In my column “Doublethink” I explained the term, coined by George Orwell in 1984; it means the ability of a political stooge to simultaneously believe two different and mutually-exclusive ideas.  Neofeminists are the undisputed champions of doublethink in today’s world:

On the one hand, neofeminists state that women are just as competent as men, yet insist that women need special legal protections.  They observe that women are rational adults who can control our own destinies, yet lobby for paternalistic “mandatory prosecution” laws because they claim women aren’t competent to decide for ourselves whether to press charges against abusive men.  They say that women should have control over our own bodies, unless of course we choose to use those bodies for sex work.  They recognize that women can think for ourselves, then demand we adhere to neofeminist groupthink or be labeled “traitors”.  Many of them openly despise men and consider their characteristic behaviors a pathological deviation from female norms, yet they promote all-consuming male-style careers for women and many even adopt masculine modes of dress and grooming.  The heterosexual wing of neofeminism bitches about male sexual behaviors, yet encourages women to act in exactly the same way.  And so on, and so on, and so on, ad absurdum.

Politicians are nearly as adept at doublethink as neofeminists are, and both groups use doubletalk and double-dealing to foster doublethink in those they wish to control.  My column of one year ago today gave a lesson (complete with quiz!) in how the police (with the assistance of obedient reporters) use doubletalk to promote anti-whore hysteria, and today we’re going to look at another example:  the oeuvre of “Two Face” Kristof, who uses his New York Times pulpit to promote an oleaginous mixture of prohibitionism and nanny-statism of the cookie-cutter “left wing” variety.  Like the neofeminists whose rhetoric he adopts, Kristof claims to respect women yet denies our agency, and bleats about choice while he advocates treating women like sheep.  But to this he adds his own special (though, sadly, not by any means unique) duplicity:  representing himself as a crusader against the sexual exploitation of women while sexually exploiting women himself by attracting readers eager to stimulate themselves with his lurid “sex slave” porn.  Take a look at his column of March 4th, called to my attention by regular reader Aspasia:

…Under a new law that took effect three weeks ago with the strong backing of Gov. Rick Perry, [a Texas woman seeking an abortion]…must typically endure an ultrasound probe inserted into her vagina…“It’s state-sanctioned abuse,” said Dr. Curtis Boyd…“It borders on a definition of rape.  Many states describe rape as putting any object into an orifice against a person’s will…The new law is demeaning and disrespectful to the women of Texas, and insulting to the doctors and nurses who care for them.”  That law is part of a war over women’s health being fought around the country — and in much of the country, women are losing.  State by state, legislatures are creating new obstacles to abortions and are treating women in ways that are patronizing and humiliating…

What about the war on women’s sexual freedom, Mr. Kristof?  What about the patronizing and humiliating ways that you and other “rescue industry” fanatics treat sex workers?  What about the state-sanctioned abuse of women advocated by people like you; don’t you consider arresting prostitutes and our clients at gunpoint to be “demeaning and disrespectful”?  And I think every person whose head, unlike yours, resides outside of his own arse will agree that for a woman to endure a cop’s penis being “put…into an orifice against [her] will” doesn’t merely “border on a definition of rape”, it is rape…rape that you and others like you enable, excuse and celebrate.

Kristof and the neofeminists want you to think that abortion rights and sex worker rights are unrelated issues, when it’s clearly obvious to any intellectually honest person they aren’t:  a woman’s right to own and control her own body includes not only the right to decisions about the possible consequences of sex, but also the right to decide how, why and with whom she has sex in the first place.  But lest you think prostitution is just a blind spot for Kristof, a single example of doublethink in an otherwise self-consistent personal philosophy, consider this impassioned defense of the nanny state in which he states that “The long trajectory of history has been for governments to take on more responsibilities, and for citizens to pay more taxes” and argues that non-nanny governments invariably lead to countries like Pakistan…you know, the kind of countries where whores are persecuted as they are in the United States.

If we combine all of Kristof’s various positions in one place, we get something like this:  “Only third-world countries allow people to make their own financial choices; advanced countries control their citizens’ lives, except in the case of abortion.  Compulsory ultrasounds are rape, and prostitution is rape, but police rape isn’t rape as long as it happens after they abduct a woman against her will from a brothel.  Nanny states are good, except when they decriminalize prostitution, at which point they become bad.  And third-world dictatorships are bad, so our prostitution policy should be more like theirs.”  Rational people, like Alice, simply can’t believe in such self-contradictory nonsense.  Unfortunately, we live in a world populated largely by people like the White Queen, who practice believing impossible things every day until doublethink becomes second nature.

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The nudes of art are not so distant from pornography as prudish pedants pretend.  –  Mason Cooley

The label “pornography”, like the word “prostitution”, represents an attempt by lawheads to pretend that their personal hang-ups about sex can be reduced to a rule by which “good” sex can be distinguished from “bad” sex, a bright, clear taboo line which it is not permissible for anyone, even in private, to cross.  Ironically, the neofeminist position on the issue is actually more coherent than that of the government; it simply states that any sex not initiated and totally controlled by a woman for her own pleasure (and for no other reason) is fundamentally wrong.  The more radical neofeminists (such as Sheila Jeffreys) go even further, declaring that any heterosexual sex is a tool of male oppression.  Obviously, this is mad-dog lunacy, but at least it’s consistent lunacy; lawheads, by contrast, try to come up with ridiculous “tests” by which prostitution can be distinguished from other female sexual behavior and pornography can be distinguished from erotica or sex scenes in “literature”.  We’ve often discussed the former, but today I’d like to look at the latter.

Gloria Steinem opined that “Pornography is about dominance. Erotica is about mutuality,” and though many anti-porn feminists still try to promote that as a valid definition, anyone who’s seen more than three porn films (or read more than two erotic stories) knows it doesn’t hold water.  D.H. Lawrence was a far better writer than Steinem, but his definition is even more vague: “Pornography is the attempt to insult sex, to do dirt on it.”  Very clear, D.H.; I’m sure many a judge has found that a precise and usable rule.  And speaking of judges, the most honest (though least helpful) “definition” of this type was that pronounced by US Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart in his famous concurring opinion on Jacobellis vs. Ohio (1964):

I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description [“hard-core pornography”]; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so.  But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case [Les Amants (1958)] is not that.

Though later courts attempted to use high-sounding words like “contemporary community standards” and pseudo-objective criteria such as “serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific values” to disguise Stewart’s axiom with a veneer of respectability, the naked truth is that the only meaningful difference between the “obscene” and the acceptable is the opinion of some “authority”.  The inanity of the whole thing has been laid bare in the federal obscenity prosecution of fetish filmmaker Ira Isaacs:

……Isaacs argues that the disgust evoked by works such as  Hollywood Scat Amateurs 7 and Japanese Doggie 3 Way is a crucial part of what makes them artistic.  “My intent is to be a shock artist in the movies I made,” he testified, “to challenge the viewer in thinking about art differently…to think about things they’d never thought about before.”  Similarly, [defense lawyer Roger] Diamond argued that the films have political value as a protest against the government’s arbitrary limits on expression, illustrating the “reality that we may not have the total freedom the rest of the world thinks we have”…Isaacs…faces a possible penalty of 20 years in prison…but if the jurors want to blame someone for making them sit through this assault on their sensibilities, they should not blame Isaacs.  They should blame the Justice Department, which initiated the case during the Bush administration, and the Supreme Court, which  established the absurdly subjective test they are now supposed to apply.  Will they take seriously Isaacs’ references to Marcel Duchamp, Robert Rauschenberg, Kiki Smith, and Piero Manzoni, or will they dismiss his artistic name dropping as a desperate attempt to give his masturbation aids a high-minded purpose?

There is a third possibility…they could reject the very notion of sending people to prison for distributing sexual material, no matter how icky, produced by and for adults…AVN correspondent Mark Kernes reports that in his jury instructions [the judge], who had worried aloud about the possibility of nullification while the jurors were outside the courtroom, was “careful to note that even if the jury disagreed with the law, it was still their duty to follow it.”  Nonsense.  Yes, this is the same obscenity case that was  interrupted by the fuss over images on Judge Alex Kozinski’s computer, a controversy that ultimately led to a mistrial…

As it turns out, this one ended in a mistrial as well thanks to two women who refused to convict a man for making movies.  This is called “jury nullification”, and it’s a power the Founding Fathers intended juries to have, despite vigorous attempts by the “justice system” to hide and deny that fact.  Two mistrials should send a clear message to prosecutors that (at least in Southern California) most people don’t want self-appointed censors telling them what they can see, but power-mad “justice department” officials discarded the prohibition against double jeopardy long ago and may keep trying Isaacs until they achieve the desired result.  It’s certainly possible; though social conservatives represent California as Sodom, there are enough anti-porn busybodies there to push through the “condoms in porn” law which will soon drive the lucrative industry from Los Angeles…and one city, nearby Simi Valley, wants to make sure it doesn’t migrate there:

…”The bottom line is we don’t want to be known as the porn capital of the world,” said Mayor Bob Huber, who is one of those pushing for a measure similar to one the L.A. City Council approved in January…Under its proposed law, the city would require producers to hire on-set medical professionals, who would attest to appropriate condom use.  At the end of a shoot, the producers would have to send their unedited video to the police department, where employees would scrutinize it…The city’s preemptive strike is pointless, said Diane Duke, executive director of the Free Speech Coalition…”Very little filming is done in Simi Valley, and I doubt that the production studios are planning any increase at all in the area…However, I am amused at the thought of Simi Valley hiring people to sit around and view porn on taxpayer dollars.  I wonder what the training for that would look like.”

More laws, more power, more intrusion, more tax money wasted enforcing the whims of control freaks.  Westerners have allowed the anti-sex crowd to make them so afraid of mere images that they’ve given governments vast censorship powers.  And when such power is handed over to an uncontrolled entity whose chief goals are to grow and consume (more money and more power), this sort of mishap is inevitable:

Reminiscent of the mooo.com screwup in the US, where Homeland Security’s ICE division “accidentally” seized 84,000 sites and plastered them over with a warning graphic about how they’d been seized by the US government for child porn, the Danish police similarly “accidentally” had 8,000 legitimate sites declared as child porn sites that needed to be blocked.  Among the sites listed?  Google and Facebook.  Visitors to those sites…were greeted with the following message (translated, of course):  The National High Tech Crime Center of the Danish National Police [NITEC], who assist in investigations into crime on the internet, has informed Siminn Denmark A/S, that the internet page which your browser has tried to get in contact with may contain material which could be regarded as child pornography…Upon the request of The National High Tech Crime Center of the Danish National Police, Siminn Denmark A/S has blocked the access to the internet page.

And people wonder why so many people around the world were so concerned about the threat of something like SOPA — which would make DNS blocking at the ISP level a lot more common…this “accident”…“began when an employee at the police center…placed a list of legitimate sites in the wrong folder…Before [he became] aware of the error, two ISPs retrieved the list of sites”…The fact that just one employee can change the list seems wide open to abuse.  And the fact that the list seems somewhat automated beyond that is even more problematic…

Even if you don’t live in Denmark or the US, you still ought to be concerned; the US government has now claimed the right – and has the practical power due to much of the internet’s backbone being located on American soil – to seize any domain ending in .com, .org, .net, .biz, .cc, .tv and .name no matter what country it’s registered and based in.  And that means if federal prosecutors want to, they can impose prudish American standards of “obscenity” on the great majority of internet content in the entire world.

One Year Ago Today

March Miscellanea” reports on a Florida vice squad spokesman who can’t make up his mind, South African police taking revenge against those who protested on International Sex Workers’ Rights Day, and the efforts of Indian prostitutes to get avails laws repealed.

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