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Archive for October, 2012

Hence, the less government we have, the better,–the fewer laws, and the less confided power. The antidote to this abuse of formal Government, is, the influence of private character, the growth of the Individual; the appearance of the principal to supersede the proxy; the appearance of the wise man, of whom the existing government, is, it must be owned, but a shabby imitation.  –  Ralph Waldo Emerson

Writer Neil Gaiman is promoting a new campaign called All Hallows Read, and it’s easy to participate; all you have to do is give somebody a scary book for Halloween.  That’s it.  No forms to fill out, no signs to carry, no rhetoric to spew; just give someone – anyone – a book.  He talks about it a little in the first video below, while a suitably seasonal tableau unfolds behind him.  He also provided the first link below the video and this 2004 essay on one of his favorite films, which also happens to be one of mine.  Every link between this paragraph and the first video was provided by the indefatigable Radley Balko, and those between the two videos arrived courtesy of Gaiman, Brooke MagnantiMike Siegel, Amy AlkonMarty KleinFranklin HarrisAspasia and Chi Mgbako, in that order.  The second video, which comes to us via Marc Randazza, features the Reverend Dr. Phil Snyder making a Biblical argument on a gay rights ordinance in Springfield, Missouri; make sure you watch it all the way to the end.  Finally, the link just after the essay by Ken White of Popehat was also provided by Ken.

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For all the talk about women involved in the sex industry as “victims”, there is no apparent appetite for actually speaking with them in order to assess what the real issues are.  –  Graham Ellison

Sex Work is Work

Nairobi Mayor George Aladwa has warned…sex workers that they risk being arrested if they will not stop conducting their business in Central Business District…The mayor urged the sex workers to use their talents in seeking income…”  This is, of course, exactly what he is threatening them for doing.

Updates

Think of the Children!

Indiana school officials believe that sex radiation is so dangerous that exposed students must be quarantined in order to contain the contamination:

Some students…in Anderson, Ind. [who] got a peek of their teacher’s bare breasts on a school-issued iPad…have been suspended and threatened with expulsion…Joshua Troutt, 13…and three other students were in their classroom, playing a game on [the] iPad…[and when] one of the students pressed a button…[the] photograph…was revealed.  “It’s not our fault that she had the photo on there,” Troutt said.  “We couldn’t do anything not to look at it…She had to have pressed something to make all of her [iPhone] photos synch on there”…

Let that be a lesson to you, kids:  never tell any authority figure about anything unusual that happens, ever.

Wholesale Hypocrisy

Even though the prosecutor euphemistically refers to armed robbery and grand larceny as “improper use of forfeiture funds”, it’s still a pleasure to see this coming up to trial at last:  “Former Romulus [Michigan] Police Chief Michael St. Andre, his wife, and five…detectives pled not guilty…to using asset forfeiture funds…[from] narcotics and prostitution investigations to buy…narcotics and prostitutes… The officers are accused of spending $40,000 in forfeiture funds in one year…[and] St. Andre also used $75,000 from drug forfeiture funds to buy a tanning salon…for his wife.

Above the Law

Yet again:  As long as government actors have excessive power over individuals, this will keep happening:

A woman in Maryland who was allegedly raped…by a deputy sheriff has filed a $15 million lawsuit against the Prince George’s County Sheriff’s Office…Lamar McIntyre allegedly…took [the woman, who was awaiting trial] into an isolated holding cell and told her to get naked, [forced her into] oral…and vaginal sex without a condom…”[slapped] her buttocks extremely hard”…[then] took pictures with his camera phone…McIntyre [then] took the woman to the court room “as if nothing ever happened”…McIntyre…admitted to police that he was involved…

Naked Truth

Dr. Brooke Magnanti’s Telegraph article on “sex trafficking” hysteria covers familiar ground, but she’s always a pleasure to read.  Furthermore, because she was born in Florida but did sex work in the UK, she qualifies as “trafficked” herself under the official criteria.  She mentions several useful statistics:

…of the trafficking referrals made to police in the UK, one in four are men, and domestic and agricultural exploitation counts for six of every 10 cases…Liz Kelly and Linda Regan of the University of North London attempted to estimate the number of women brought into the UK for sex in 1998 by surveying [police] reports…they came up with…71…[but this] included…women who willingly arrived…for sex work…In 2007…[Operation] Pentameter Two resulted in five convictions…406 arrests were made…153 of those…were released without charge.  Most of the rest were charged with immigration breaches and unrelated offences.  Twenty-two were prosecuted for trafficking; 7 of those were acquitted.  Ten of the remaining lot turned out not to have coerced the women they brought into the country.  This left five actual traffickers…none of [whom] were detected specifically by actions in the Pentameter Two effort…

She also mentions that the “80% of sex workers are coerced” claim promoted by MP Fiona Mactaggart (and repeated ad nauseum by other prohibitionists) originally came from a 1982 survey of San Francisco streetwalkers.

False Target

People want to believe that any behavior they dislike…is either wholly voluntary or the result of ‘socialization’…but…[these are] better explained by evolution and neurology than by ludicrous tabula rasa notions.  Why they prefer to believe that people are programmed by “society” or “the Patriarchy” than to acknowledge we are programmed by Nature I cannot say; perhaps they fear that instinct is harder to overcome than learning and therefore choose to deny the terrifying reality…”  More on this same line of thought from Dr. Gad Saad:

…“blank slate” explanations are ubiquitous in the social sciences…men stray from their marriages…due to their viewing of pornography …people succumb to juicy burgers…[because of] those alluring advertising jingles…women [suffer]…eating disorders…[due to] media images that attack [their] self-worth…young [men’s]…violent and reckless behaviors…[are caused by] video games…these arguments are pure fiction…rooted in a perfectly erroneous view of human nature.  Each of [these] is linked to evolutionary and biological principles that have little to do with…socialization…the blank slate view [is] so pervasive…[because] it caters to…the endless pursuit for hope…[and] provides people with the illusion of control.  Alter the supposed culprit environmental cause and the issue will apparently be resolved…

The Public Eye

Though this item from the East Bay Express is largely based around the harm Proposition 35 will do if enacted, it is less an analysis of the proposed law and more an honest and accepting profile of a number of sex workers in the San Francisco Bay area, including regular reader Jolene Parton.  The more articles like this we see, the harder it will be for prohibitionists to support the lie that well-adjusted sex workers are an unrepresentative minority.

That Old Black Magic

Most of this story about a “huge crackdown on human trafficking” in Scotland is the same old bombastic rhetoric, turgid “estimates” and endless repetition of lurid claims about the escort service owners convicted of “trafficking” last year.  But there was an embedded link proclaiming that “Sex trafficking victims reveal horror of witchcraft and torture being used to ensalve [sic] women in Scotland!” which led to an article I missed in January notable not only for the “magical slave control” pap, but also for being published just before the popular exaggeration increased from “15 men a day” to 50.  Stories like this are an excellent development, because they throw a spotlight on the close resemblance between “sex trafficking” hysteria and the Satanic Panic.

Metaupdates

What If They Threw a Party and Nobody Came? in October Updates (Part One)

Since it’s apparent that prudes prefer their daughters to die than to have sex, this study was necessary no matter how totally obvious its conclusions were from the start:

There did not appear to be any difference in the sexual behaviors of adolescent girls who received the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine and their unvaccinated peers…Among girls ages 11 and 12 enrolled in a large, managed-care organization, there were no between-group differences in the rate of pregnancy…sexually transmitted infection, or receipt of contraceptive counseling…In addition, the average age at the first composite outcome was no different between vaccinated and unvaccinated girls…

That’s especially good now that a new version of the vaccine may help women who are already infected:

…the experimental vaccine…was given to 18 women with cervical dysplasia, a precancerous condition…caused by a chronic HPV infection…after vaccination, the women produced immune cells that were capable of attacking and killing HPV-infected cells…this…could clear chronic HPV infections, and prevent precancerous cells from becoming cancerous…it’s possible a [similar] vaccine…could treat other types of cancer caused by HPV, such as some head and neck cancers

J’accuse in TW3 (#13)

Dominique Strauss-Kahn is trying to get his “aggravated pimping” charge dismissed; apparently he’s just noticed that Western society, following behind the US like a flock of obedient sheep, is trying to “criminalize lust”:

…That defense and the investigation, which is facing a critical judicial hearing in late November, have offered a keyhole view into a clandestine practice in certain powerful circles of French society:  secret soirees with lawyers, judges, police officials, journalists and musicians that start with a fine meal and end with naked guests and public sex with multiple partners…the most perplexing question in the Strauss-Kahn affair is how a career politician…was blinded to the possibility that his zest for sex parties could present a liability, or risk blackmail…

It’s only “perplexing” to female American journalists whose dedication to a PC agenda has totally conquered any critical thinking skills they may once have had.  Another one who’s just waking up to reality is Hubert Delarue, the lawyer for one of Strauss-Kahn’s co-defendants, who apparently thinks halfway whores are something new:  “Prostitution was…for a certain type of population…[but] today…there are occasional prostitutes, and sometimes they’re top models who try to make ends meet. They aren’t miserable women on the sidewalk.”

Backwards into the Future in TW3 (#27)

Baby steps, I guess:

Vietnam will free about 900 sex workers…from compulsory rehabilitation centres…when a newly amended…law comes into effect…[next] July…Since July [of] this year, sex workers have no longer been sent to…[the] centres…but…fined up to five million dong [$240 US] instead…drug addicts will continue to be sent to detoxification centres…

The More the Better in TW3 (#32)

I really like this trend of brothels funding athletics:  “…[Members of] a cash-strapped Greek soccer team…are wearing…practice jerseys emblazoned with the logos of the Villa Erotica and Soula’s House of History, a pair of…bordellos recruited to sponsor the team after drastic government spending cuts left the country’s sports organizations facing ruin.  One team took on a deal with a local funeral home and others have wooed kebab shops, a jam factory, and producers of…feta cheese…

The Course of a Disease in TW3 (#34)

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we in America could see articles like this strong criticism of an attempt to impose the Swedish model on Northern Ireland?

…Lord Morrow’s Bill…is ill-thought through, confusing and based on rather dubious evidence.  Sex trafficking is conflated solely with prostitution…and…is…accompanied by increasingly fantastical (and unsubstantiated) media claims about the number of “victims”…[yet] there has…been only one prosecution of a “trafficker”…and the women he “trafficked” were two Czech prostitutes that flew of their own volition to Belfast to operate out of [an] apartment that they rented from [him]…

The author, criminologist Graham Ellison, goes on to ridicule the impossible claims made about the Swedish model’s “success” and to correctly present it as the agenda of fundamentalist neofeminists and Christians.

My Body, My Choice in TW3 (#40)

Since the founder of Shared Hope International says that anti-trafficking activismshould be an extension of the ‘pro-life’ cause”, one wonders what her thoughts on this might be:

Argentina’s Supreme Court has ruled that a woman rescued from a prostitution ring must be allowed to have the abortion she wants…Argentina allows legal abortions in rape cases or to protect a woman’s health.  But politicians, doctors and judges often continue to block them…and…in this case, a judge intervened…saying there was no proof of rape even though the woman had been kidnapped and forced into prostitution…

Backwards into the Future in TW3 (#40)

This decriminalization video was produced by an organization named “Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights”; when will American human rights organizations take this unambiguous a stand against prostitution law?

This Week in 2010 and 2011

There were two columns on the multiplying cracks in the prohibitionist dam,  a juxtaposition of sex work with another form of labor, a look at whether prevailing religious views in a country determine its treatment of whores, a meditation on modern society’s attempts to ignore Nature, and news about HIV prevention.  We also delved into the truth about neofeminists, the destruction of civil liberties in the US, the horror of American prisons and the production of prohibitionist propaganda through collusion of cops and the media.  Finally, I examined the vital social role played by harlots in controlling male sexuality and ministering to the disabled, and called attention to society’s galling denial of it.

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This is the concluding chapter of a longer-than-usual story I wrote a few months before starting the blog; the first part appeared Wednesday and the second yesterday.  Happy Halloween!

And Pleasant Dreams.

The evening passed with aching slowness; she wanted nothing more than to go to bed so she could finally see the end of the whole weird business.  The dream-world had become so real to her, so important, that it was beginning to feel more real to her than waking life; she could remember the events of her dreams with crystal clarity, but real-life events had begun to grow fuzzy and hard to remember from day to day.  Her husband repeatedly asked if she was sleeping well, and had even suggested she see a doctor; she knew that his suggestions would soon turn to insistence if things continued this way for even a few more days.  But she was absolutely positive that tonight would see a resolution; she knew that as soon as she reached the top of those stairs, the greatest mystery of her life would be solved and everything would fall into place.  She would return to the happy life she had once known and again be able to devote herself to her wonderful husband, the man who had loved her and cared for her and tolerated her shortcomings with rarely more than a cross word.  So she made a supreme effort to be pleasant and engaging and fun this evening, while secretly counting the minutes until bedtime.

Once they were in bed she offered herself to him, and as he made love to her she thought how this, too had changed.  Once she had looked forward to their time together, had lost herself in his embrace; in the past few months, however, she had found it impossible to stop thinking of the buried city even while with him, and it had become merely a duty to her.  Oh, she had pretended of course, in order to spare his feelings, but she sorely missed the true physical intimacy that had once come so naturally to her in his arms.  After tonight, she told herself, this, too would return to normal.

As soon as he was asleep she set out for the marketplace, where she bought a pair of trousers and some sturdy boots, then a set of the odd claw-like appliances which she had once seen a man use to scale the cathedral’s steeple in order to effect some maintenance.  She doubted she could use them with anything like the agility displayed by that worker, but she would only need them if she had to climb over some bad spot on the immense staircase.  The merchant looked at her strangely when she requested the items, but asked no questions and simply handed them over once she had paid the requested price.  Her next stop was the hiding-place of her cloak, and thence to a spot where she could wait until the guard had passed in his rounds.

Once he had passed she flew to the door and slid back the bar; it moved just as smoothly as it had the previous night, and with less noise.  A moment more and she was through the door; this time she closed it, hoping that the drawn bar would escape notice for long enough for her to ascend out of reach of any pursuit.  Gathering her skirt with her free hand, she took the steps as quickly as she dared, stopping eight flights up – that is, two complete circuits of the stairwell – to replace skirt with trousers and slippers with boots.  She paused to look and listen for long enough to satisfy herself that her trespass had not yet been detected, then donned her cloak and set out to make the arduous climb.

She was careful to pace herself; there was no way of knowing how high the staircase was, since its top was lost in the gloom.  Though the city was brightly lit by day, the staircase was wrapped in the same shadowy light by which she had first seen it last night.  After a while she grew tired of carrying her skirt and slippers and so discarded them; she then donned the climbing appliances under the assumption that they would be less cumbersome worn than carried.  Hour after hour she climbed, until her legs screamed in protest and her lungs ached with the unaccustomed effort, but still the impossible stairway stretched above her, flight upon flight upon endless flight.  At first she tried to count them, but lost track somewhere above five hundred; she must now be miles above the city.  She moved like an automaton, her agony conquered by the overwhelming determination to reach the top no matter how long it took or what it did to her body.

After what seemed an eternity, she came to the sudden realization that the echoes of her plodding footsteps sounded different somehow; without stopping, she veered toward the railing so she could look up for the first time in hours, and her heart leapt as she saw the unmistakable outline of a peaked roof some ten flights above her.  Though she had awakened from the trance-like stupor in which she had climbed for a very long time, the anticipation of reaching the top at last allowed her to force the pain back down and continue climbing.

She had cleared four more flights when she heard an ominous boom from above, like the slamming of a massive door, and a shock of terror ripped through her when it was followed by a sound which could only be heavy footfalls coming down the staircase toward her.  She came very close to blind panic at that moment; the idea that the top of the stairway might be guarded like the bottom had never entered her mind.  But somehow she found the calm center of the emotional storm which threatened to engulf her, and looked down at the climbing appliances strapped to her hands and boots.  She gambled a quick look up the stairwell to make sure that the unknown intruder was not in sight of the edge, then swung herself out over the railing and climbed along the underside of the wooden steps until she could rest against the wall in a desperate effort to conserve what little strength she had left.

Her cloak now hung uncomfortably from her neck, but she dared not remove and drop it for fear that it would land on the stairs below and thereby draw the climber’s attention upward when he passed below her.  So she waited and waited, her heart pounding against the inside of her ribs, as the footfalls came closer and closer and ever closer…and stopped directly above her.

She began to weep silently, and held her breath so as to suppress any sniffle or sob which might betray her presence, but it was obviously too late; it was not by accident that the other had stopped where he did.  As she looked out from her hiding place, hoping against hope that the descent would resume, a long, rough-skinned neck as thick as her waist and the color of dried blood came curling down from the stairs above; it was surmounted by a reptilian head the size of a tiger’s, and as she watched in helpless terror the monstrosity turned its head completely around on its neck and stared at her with huge, glowing green eyes.  Its lower jaw fell open as if unhinged, revealing many sharp teeth accented by four prominent fangs shaped like those of a cobra, and it emitted a hiss more like steam escaping from a pipe than anything a living creature might make.  Her nerve shattered completely, and she screamed and let go of her precarious perch, dropping heavily to the stairs beneath.

It was difficult to see the hideous thing clearly from her new position, but the green glow of its eyes stood out in the gloom.  Oddly, it hesitated for a moment, and that gave her enough time to rise to her tortured legs and begin to run downward, back the way she had come.  Her headlong flight appeared to incense the creature, and it began to run down the stairway after her.  Even in her profound horror she realized that it would be impossible to outrun the monster; not only were its strides worth three of hers, it was fresh from descending only a few flights while she was absolutely spent from her ascent of hundreds.  Whether by intuition or reason or pure repetition, she swung out over the edge of the staircase again in the wild hope that it might overlook the possibility of her pulling the same trick twice.  And by some miracle it worked; the loathsome thing was so caught up in the pursuit that it shot past above and then below her without as much as a glance in her direction.  As soon as it turned the corner below her she scrambled up onto the stairs again, taking the steps as quickly as her ruined legs would carry her, and threw open the door at the top of the stairs without breaking her stride.

She instantly found herself lying in her own bed, her legs twisted with cramps, and burst into tears born from a mixture of fear and relief.  She clutched at her husband and he turned to hold her gently, then with infinite sadness he asked, “Why did you have to go through the door?”  But she was unable to answer; she merely stared in mute horror at his eyes glowing green in the dark.

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For the Halloween season I’m sharing a longer-than-usual story I wrote a few months before starting the blog; the first part appeared yesterday and the conclusion will appear tomorrow.  Both of today’s illustrations were done especially for this presentation of the story by my friend LilyRose, whose webcomic Castrating Bitch Girl can be found in the “Whorish Media” link box.  Her most recent short piece, “Starfish“, may also interest you.

It was a few days later that she once again found herself there, this time in a huge public plaza whose smallest corner could have accommodated the little fountain square and still had room for a respectable-sized pub.  Its pavement was smooth, laid with tabletop-sized grey flagstones fit tightly together, and it was bounded on the longest side with what looked like a cathedral.  Several streets entered at corners of the irregularly-shaped space, and except for a lovely arcade down one side the other walls of the plaza were occupied by various places of business.  The open area was crowded with stalls from which merchants hawked a variety of wares and bargained with frugal housewives; the noise was incredible, the clothes were of every hue imaginable and the smells ranged from sickening to mouth-watering.  She moved down the lanes between the stalls, taking in the sights, examining the merchandise, and tasting samples when they were offered.  Sometimes she was jostled, sometimes looked over by young men, and once a little girl of about six tugged on her skirt, obviously having mistaken her for a similarly-dressed mother or aunt.  And as always before, despite the exotic surroundings there was a strange familiarity about the place; people greeted her as if they either knew her or had seen her around town, and she had no trouble finding her way about any part of the city she had ever visited.

After a little while she decided to seek a quieter neighborhood and so turned into the nearest street, which happened to be the one directly across from the cathedral.  It was much wider than the other streets and clearly less travelled; in fact, despite its connection to the crowded marketplace, she soon found herself walking completely alone past oddly featureless walls.  Before too long the street ended at a very large and heavily-barred door; two narrow streets ran out from the portal at forty-five degree angles from the wide avenue by which she approached, and a glance down these alleys led her to the realization that except for the door itself, the wall ahead of her was absolutely featureless.  No ornamentation or stonework bounded it, and as far as the eye could see in either direction the wall ran smooth and unbroken by window, seam or sculpture until it vanished around a bend.

Even in a city so clearly marked by age, the door positively radiated antiquity; the dry atmosphere had preserved the ancient wood long past the epoch in which it would have rotted away in natural weather.  The bar was topped with a thick film of dust, and the iron fittings looked as though they had been forged in the morning of the world.  And for the first time since she had been coming to the city she was afraid; something about this silent barrier terrified her, and she withdrew her hand and began to back away, her eyes fixed on it as though she expected it to burst open.  But before she had taken seven steps back a hand fell on her shoulder, and though the voice which said “you know you shouldn’t be here, Miss” was not unkind, and the eyes of the old guardsman gentle, she awoke in a paroxysm of terror and screamed aloud.

*********************************************************************

“You gave me quite a scare last night, dear one,” he said, caressing her hair as they lay in bed.  “Do you feel up to talking about it now?”

She pulled herself a little closer to his chest.  “I feel like such a fool, screaming like that!  Like a stupid little girl, afraid of shadows!”

“It’s not foolish to be afraid of nightmares,” he said.  “Everyone has them occasionally.”

“But that’s just it, it wasn’t a nightmare!  At least, not at first; it was just the usual kind of dream of the underground city, with absolutely nothing to be afraid of.”

“But clearly, something changed; you were never scared by a dream like that before, not enough to wake up screaming anyway.”

“But there was nothing to be afraid of,” she repeated.  There was a moment of silence, and though she couldn’t see his face she knew he was waiting for her to continue.  He had accepted her unwillingness to discuss it in the middle of the night, had simply whispered words of reassurance and held her while she cried.  But she couldn’t very well refuse to tell him now; she had agreed to share the dreams with him, and her reason told her that the fantasies of sleep were nothing to fear in the light of day.  Yet she couldn’t tell him about the awful door and the inexplicable terror it had evoked in her; how does one explain such a thing?  He would worry that it was a sign of some deep emotional disturbance, might even be upset at his inability to protect her from her own irrational fears.  So she stammered out some half-truths about going someplace in the city she shouldn’t have gone, and being surprised by the guard.  If he doubted her veracity he gave no sign, merely held her closer for awhile and then began to make small-talk about ordinary things.

He didn’t have to work that day, so they spent it together; they went for a walk in the park, then to one of their favorite restaurants for dinner, and he took her to a show.  It was a comedy, and though she laughed as much as anyone she could not completely forget the terror of the previous night.

*********************************************************************

The dreams became more frequent now, and subtly different; though the city had not changed her feelings about it had.  The scenes and the people were as before, but she couldn’t help looking up at the artificial “sky” and thinking obsessively about the incalculable tons of rock overhead; what once had seemed a sanctuary now felt like a tomb, and she began to wonder why these people had sealed themselves off from heaven for uncounted generations.  And more and more she found herself visiting the door, which though it had not ceased to frighten her yet gripped her in a terrible fascination.  She did not repeat her mistake of the first time; she quickly learned the routine of the guards, and made sure she never paused in the area when they were about.  For strangely enough, no one else seemed affected by the door as she was; if they thought about it at all it must have been with an unswerving confidence that it would continue to keep out whatever was beyond it as it always had.  The guards were all old, and none of them but the one she had encountered on her first visit seemed even remotely concerned with the possibility that anyone would tamper with the ancient portal in even the most superficial fashion.

She had stopped telling her husband about the dreams; he asked a few times in the next several months, and though she did not lie outright she downplayed both their importance and their frequency.  Either he believed her or he realized there was nothing he could really say, for it eventually ceased to be a topic of conversation.  She had become very good at putting them out of her mind when he was home; she was reasonably sure that her behavior was not any different from what it always had been, and that no moodiness betrayed her secret to him.  And she had plenty of practice, for she eventually began to dream of the city every night.

Then one day she arose early to get a head start on some major housecleaning she wanted to do; the work went more smoothly than expected, however, and she found herself done by mid-afternoon,  but unusually tired from hard work performed after less sleep than usual.  She therefore decided to take a nap, and soon found herself in the city again.  But this time something was noticeably different; the overhead light which had never before varied in intensity was now very dim, almost completely dark  in fact, and there was not a soul abroad on the streets.  At first she was at a loss to understand what had happened, then she realized the truth:  In order to maintain the health and sanity of the citizenry, darkness was periodically created by somehow dimming or shuttering the mysterious source of “sunlight.”  For the first time, she was in the city at night, and though the reason she had never before observed this phenomenon did not occur to her during the visit, it was obvious when she awoke:  She was not in the habit of taking afternoon naps.  The day and night of the underground city were the opposite of those in the waking world, so that it was awake while she slept and slept during the day, when she was normally awake.  And with this realization was born a plan, a means by which she might finally satisfy her burning curiosity as to what lay beyond the sealed portal and why the people of the city lived as they did, forever hidden from sun and sky.

*********************************************************************

It was quite simple, really; when she visited the city that night she bought a black cloak from one of the merchants in the plaza, and hid it in a large, empty urn on one of the less frequented streets near the door.  She did not know if she had a residence in the city; if she had, she could not recall ever having been there.  Her clothes were different in each visit, but she seemed to have no conscious control over what she would be wearing when she found herself there, nor any recollection of getting dressed.  But given the uncanny consistency of her dreams of the city, and the near-abandoned state of the quarter near the door, she felt sure the cloak would still be there when next she visited.  After that, it was merely a matter of getting up early the next morning and working hard all day so as to be tired enough for an afternoon nap.

Once again she found herself in a quiet, darkened city; she retraced her steps to the hiding place and there was her cloak, exactly as she had left it.  It provided her perfect camouflage for skulking about the darkened streets, and in a few minutes she carefully approached her goal, confident that if a guard was near he was probably napping rather than diligently scanning the empty streets for moving shadows.  It never occurred to her that the bar would be immovable; perhaps it was somehow maintained, or that the antediluvian architects who designed it knew engineering secrets long since forgotten, or that some force wished her to succeed; perhaps it is merely due to the fact that some things which are impossible in waking life come easily in dreams.  But in any case the enormous bar slid aside as though moved by a well-oiled machine, and with no more sound than a rusty hinge might make.  A quick look around assured her that no one had heard the brief noise, and the creak of the ponderous door was no louder; she opened it just enough to admit her through the gap, and was through in another moment.

The room beyond was suffused by the same dim, shadowy light as was the rest of the sleeping city, but it was enough to reveal her surroundings; she was at the bottom of an enormous square stairwell, and above her a wooden stairway, clearly of the same era as the door, stretched up flight after flight, circling the interior of the stairwell, until it was lost in the gloom above.

She wanted to start up the stairs immediately, but realized it would be a mistake to do so now; though she had long since learned to stay asleep no matter what she saw or experienced in the city, she was sure that her husband could still awaken her if he came home to find her still napping.  Besides, she was not exactly dressed for this sort of excursion, and what if a section of the stairs far above had collapsed or been otherwise rendered impassible?  She had come too far to ruin everything by impatience, so she slipped back through the door and closed it.  The bar offered far more resistance in closing than in opening, but after several tense minutes of struggle she at last succeeded in sliding it back to its original position.  She then returned her cloak to its hiding place and willed herself to awaken.

To be concluded tomorrow…

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In honor of the Halloween season, I’ve decided to do something a little different by sharing a much longer story with you.  I wrote this a few months before I started the blog, and it will take three days in all to unfold.  I hope you enjoy it as much as you do my shorter works.

“Does it count as a recurring dream if only the setting stays the same?” she asked.

“I’m not sure what you mean,” her husband said over his newspaper.  “Everybody has dreams that take place in certain familiar places, like the house they grew up in.”

“This is different,” she said.  “This isn’t any real place I’ve ever been; it’s like a strange city buried deep underground.  All the streets are just big halls, and the houses are mostly sets of rooms cut into the stone.”

“Like caves?” he asked, putting the paper aside and holding out his cup for a refill.

“No, not really,” she said as she poured him more coffee.  “They look just like normal houses inside, with regular rooms and straight, square, paneled walls.  Sometimes the floors are bare stone, but sometimes they have rugs or even hardwood floors.  The only thing out of the ordinary is that there are no windows, except on the side they face into the street.”

“You mean hall.”

“Well, yes, but they’re used as though they were streets.  I mean they’re public places, and people come and go freely down them, whereas the houses are private places with doors that lock and belong to the people who live in them.  I think.”

“Are there cars in the streets, too?” he asked, seeming genuinely interested.

“No, there aren’t any cars, nor machines of any kind.  I mean there are simple machines, but not modern machines like cars and radios and electric light.  It’s kind of a medieval-type place, but clean and…” – she struggled to find the right word –  “…I don’t know, middle-class I guess.”

“Like an underground medieval suburb?” he laughed.

“No, silly,” she smiled, realizing how absurd it sounded.  “I just mean it isn’t filthy and poor, with a bunch of one-room hovels full of miserable people eating black bread and gruel.  The houses are spacious and well-decorated, and the people are healthy and happy and have plenty to eat; it’s just that they don’t have modern technology.”

“It sounds to me as though you’ve been reading too many fairy tales,” he said teasingly, rising from the table.  “You should be glad you live in a modern age with labor-saving conveniences that give you the time to read; women in those days had a lot more work.”

“Well, they had servants too,” she said, following him to the door with his coat and hat.  “At least, middle and upper-class people did.  I read somewhere that men in preindustrial societies actually worked fewer hours than most men do now, and women worked about the same unless they were lower-class or pioneers or something.”

“And speaking of work,” he said, “I’ll be late if I don’t get moving.  I’ll see you tonight, beautiful dreamer.”  She put her arms around his neck and stood on tiptoe to kiss him, then waved as he set off down the block to the train station.

But afterward, she realized that he hadn’t answered the question.

*********************************************************************

That night, she walked the streets of the strange city again; it was pretty, but not fantastic.  The architecture seemed real and practical, rather than ethereal and achingly beautiful like the illustrations in magazines.  The designs were intended to please the eye and create light, airy spaces in what was essentially a cavern, a place which would otherwise be unfit for healthy human habitation.  For there was light; it came down from far above, and was bright enough that she couldn’t look into it, and natural enough to sustain beds of flowers and even a few ornamental shrubs here and there.  One tower (a true freestanding tower rather than something cut from the rock) was even covered with ivy.  The air was sweet and pure, though it did have a slight staleness which, she thought, was only natural for a place so far underground.  She knew that as surely as if she could see it; this place, this city, lay buried deep in the earth under miles of rock, with no obvious connection to the surface at all.

Nobody seemed to mind, though.  She walked through a lovely little cobblestoned square with a fountain in its center, and laughing children playing hide and seek while nearby adults chatted or carried packages or tended small garden plots; in the distance she could hear a dog barking, and behind a wall the sound of a hammer striking metal.  A few red chickens chased insects across the paving-stones, and a cat perched like a sphinx on the edge of the fountain and regarded her with quiet curiosity.  She sat down near it, and it moved a little so that she would not be quite so near and shifted its attention to the chickens.  She looked down at the cobblestones, worn smooth by the passage of countless feet over what must have been many centuries; how old was this place?  The edge of the fountain was in good repair, but clearly exceedingly ancient; the fountain itself was if anything older still, but in the absence of the elements which would weather stone in the surface world, the marble nymph was able to conceal her true age most enviably.

She looked at her hands; they were as soft as those in her waking life, with no sign of the calloused dryness which betokened a life of toil.  Her nails were well-manicured, and her wedding ring occupied its accustomed place on her hand.  Her dress was of several layers of sheer silk, thick enough for modesty yet light and cool, and her slippers were far too delicate for walking on anything rougher than pavement.  So her condition in this dream-world was certainly no worse than that in waking life, and the people she encountered smiled or waved as though they knew her.

But with the realization that she was dreaming, the scene vanished like a soap bubble and she awakened in the warm darkness of her own bed.  Her husband shifted restlessly, no doubt disturbed slightly by the slight start of her awakening.  So she lay quietly so as to avoid arousing him completely, and though it took a very long time she eventually drifted back to sleep, and dreamt no more of the strange city that night…or if she did, she did not remember it.

*********************************************************************

“Are you sure you’re awake?” he asked.  “That’s the third time I’ve asked where the butter is.”  She suddenly realized that he was standing in the kitchen door rather than sitting at the table as he had been; she realized guiltily that he must’ve asked for the butter once or twice and then gone to fetch it himself when she had failed to respond.

“I’m so sorry, darling,” she said, then “sit down and I’ll get it for you.”

As she placed it on the table before him he asked, “Didn’t you sleep well last night?”

“Oh, it’s just that dream again,” she said in an annoyed tone.  “It’s just so clear and intense, that I have trouble getting it out of my head.”

“If you have a nightmare you should wake me up,” he said sympathetically, placing his hand on hers.  “You know I wouldn’t mind.”

“But that’s just it, it isn’t a nightmare.  Like I was trying to tell you yesterday, what happens in the dream is always different; it’s only the setting that’s the same.”

“The underground city?”

“Yes.  All sorts of different things happen, but never anything scary; it’s only that the setting is so strange, and so incredibly detailed.”

“Do all of your dreams take place there?”

“Oh, no, not at all; I have lots of regular dreams as well.  Sometimes I go weeks without having one that takes place there, but it always eventually comes back, and much more frequently now.”

“Now?  How long have you been having these dreams?”

“For years now, at least since we’ve been married.  But they used to be pretty rare, until the past few months when they started to come more frequently.”

“Honey, is something wrong?  Are you unhappy?” She could see he was genuinely concerned.

“Oh, no, nothing like that!” she reassured him.  “I’m not at all unhappy, and I don’t know why I keep having them; they don’t seem to relate to anything going on in my life.”

“Well, you should try to put them out of your mind, at least when you’re occupied with other things,” he said gently.  “It wouldn’t do for my little one to burn herself or trip and fall because her mind is somewhere else.”

“You’re right, of course; maybe it would help if I told you the dreams when I have them.  But I just feel so damned silly.”

“If it helps, tell them by all means,” he said.  “Anything to ensure you get your beauty sleep.”  She assured him she would report the next such dream, and after he left for the day she found more than enough to occupy her time and attention, and thought no more that day about the strange buried city.

To be continued…

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Women need a reason to have sex.  Men just need a place.  –  Billy Crystal

Here’s another of those reader questions that I felt deserved a whole column:

I find it quite remarkable that you not only understand the changes that occur to a healthy male denied sex, but can also write about it so well, and acknowledge and accept it rather than using it to manipulate and control men.  Can you write a column for men, to help us understand women?  I would very much like a better understanding of how the female sex drive is so easily thwarted.  Most men can’t just turn off their sex drive, even when there are good, practical, and sometimes urgent reasons to do so.  Yet it seems that most women can simply cut theirs off at will, and resume it later when and where they choose.  How does this work?

In a way, I was very lucky to be a late bloomer; as I’ve said before I was quite plain in my early teens, and only started to blossom in my senior year (after I turned 16).  Of course, I didn’t know I was going to blossom, so I recognized when I was 13 that I would need to understand men in order to attract them, rather than simply relying upon my natural gifts as the prettier girls could.  I didn’t realize until much later that though I wasn’t much to look at, I had “a pronounced sexual aura, and coquettishness came naturally to me,” and that these characteristics more than outweighed my plainness in many young men’s estimation.  So I learned everything my cousin Jeff was willing to teach me about men, read everything I could get my hands on about male psychology and carefully observed the behavior of my dates, male friends, brother, father, uncles, cousins and every other guy I interacted with; nor did I cease to learn once my looks caught up with the rest of my charms.

I’m afraid I have to disenchant you on one point, though:  I certainly do manipulate men, and always have since I first discovered I could about the age of 14.  However, I never do so in a harmful or malicious way; I’ve always had a strong sense of fairness (which, again, I have to thank Jeff for encouraging), and I determined while still in high school that any manipulation of men would be such that they would get something out of it, too, and would never regret having given me whatever it was that I wanted.  In other words I tried to make it so that if a guy realized what I had done later, his reaction would not be an angry “That bitch played me like a piano!” but rather “That clever little minx!  Well, she can push my buttons any time!”  When friends realized how well I could do this they started asking me for advice, and like you found my degree of understanding remarkable; one appreciative young friend even called me “the Jane Goodall of men”.

But just as Dame Jane could probably tell you a lot more about chimpanzees than about her own species, so I probably know more about male sexual behavior than that of my own sex.  It’s a matter of both necessity and applicability.  By “necessity” I mean that when interacting sexually with other women I can just go by instinct, but for men I need intellectual knowledge.  And by “applicability” I mean that whatever I learn about any given man tends to work for most other men, but what I know about my own sexuality (or that of any other individual woman) cannot necessarily be applied to most other women.  Female sexual psychology is generally much more complicated than male, so it’s a lot easier for a woman to learn to understand men than it is for a man to understand women, or even for a woman to understand other women!  A big part of the reason for this is that women tend to be sexually fluid; rather than being “target-specific” as men are, women tend to move around the sexual spectrum depending upon their environment, circumstances and experiences.  In other words, though most gay men really are “born that way,” that’s not so true of women, who are much more likely to move between heterosexual and homosexual relationships over time as their conditions change.  So it’s much harder to say “women tend to be like this” because as soon as you think you’ve got it pinned down, a woman’s sexuality may “morph” into something different.  This is why an open-minded woman can often be talked into swinging, BDSM or some other “kink” that she may not really have been interested in to start with; it’s not necessarily that she has a deep psychological affinity for the activity, but rather that she loves the person who does the talking and as a result can “flow” in that direction unless the process is obstructed by guilt, sexual hang-ups, fear, busybody friends or the like.

This is, like a lot of sex, rooted in reproductive biology.  Sperm is cheap; men make about a hundred million of the little bastards every single day, while women produce one single egg per month.  In other words, each individual egg is worth over 3,000,000,000 times as much as each sperm.  Guys can afford to throw sperm around to all and sundry like the cheapest kind of Mardi Gras beads, but women have to be really careful about whom we bestow our eggs upon; it doesn’t take a genius to see how this shapes male and female behavior throughout the animal kingdom.  Furthermore, the biological cost increases exponentially if one of those eggs is fertilized; in a state of nature each pregnancy takes a dramatic toll on a woman’s entire body, while men actually feel better after sending sperm on their way!  Because of this, female placental mammals are even choosier and cock-blockier than our egg-laying cousins, and the human capacity for anticipating consequences magnifies that still more.  Biologically speaking, poor mating decisions have absolutely zero negative impact on a male; he can dump sperm in unhealthy females, in females of different species, in males of his own species or even on the ground and there will still be plenty more where that came from.  But for a female it’s the opposite; every mating choice may have huge (and in humans decades-long) consequences.  The existence of birth control is irrelevant:  I know it exists, and you know it exists, but our hindbrains don’t, and they carry on just as though every act of coitus could lead to pregnancy…which for men means the same in either case, but for women is quite different.

What it boils down to is this:  men typically want sex most of the time because more sex means more offspring, with absolutely no downside.  But because a woman can only get pregnant so many times, and only once a year at most, our sex-response failsafe mechanisms are on hair triggers compared to yours.  It’s not that women can cut off our sex drives at will, but rather that our brains and bodies will cut it off for many more reasons than yours will.  If anything about a potential sexual partner or situation fails any of dozens of tests our brains subject them to, an alarm is tripped, the plug is pulled and the whole system goes down to protect the woman from squandering vital resources on an unhealthy baby or dangerous, troublesome pregnancy.  This is also why older women often lose their sex drives; after menopause their systems are essentially sending back error codes, saying “you can’t get pregnant, so don’t waste energy doing this.”

I’ll leave you with an analogy that I used once before in a comment thread almost two years ago.  Imagine how a woman might react if somebody walked up to her in public and slapped a scoop of ice cream into her hand; she’d probably be pretty upset.  It isn’t that she doesn’t like ice cream; it’s just that she doesn’t want a nasty scoop of cheap vanilla ice cream slapped into her previously-clean hand by some random stranger when she wasn’t even in the mood for dessert!  She wants her favorite flavor of her preferred brand at the right time, served neatly in a cone or dish, maybe with sprinkles, and preferably eaten with someone whose company she enjoys.  If any of those factors are wrong, her experience is lessened; and if more than a couple are wrong, she is much more likely to react with disgust than with pleasure.

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If a man can write a better book, preach a better sermon, or make a better mouse-trap, than his neighbor, though he build his house in the woods, the world will make a beaten path to his door.  –  Ralph Waldo Emerson

One million page views, that is.  At about 15:15 UTC yesterday, I reached a total of one million hits since I started the blog just over 27 months ago.  This is significant not only because 1,000,000 is one of those nice, satisfying round numbers and the gateway to a higher order of magnitude, but also because it’s the number I arbitrarily set in my own mind (about two years ago when I hit the 10,000 mark) to consider this blog a success.  In many ways, it’s been successful for a long time, at least since reporters started calling me for prostitution facts rather than some prohibitionist; but one can’t really consider one’s work a success until one is satisfied with it oneself, and meeting a long-term goal is an important part of that (for me, anyway).

It’s funny how one’s perceptions of what constitutes “good” change over the development of a project like this.  For the first four months, I was rather excited if I got 100 hits a day; now that’s a typical hour.  In November of 2010 I experienced my first surge in traffic, more than tripling my number of visitors from the previous month for a total of 7893 hits; on this past September 26th I did nearly that many (7801) in one day when someone on Reddit posted a link to one of my columns with the statement “Today I learned Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of prostitutes.”  Incidentally, that boosted the St. Nick column from a relatively minor one to the 5th most popular of all time, a testimony to the power of Reddit that I find very humbling considering that this was only one of dozens of topics on a single section of that site; my best day ever was only a tiny fraction of its traffic.

My next goal is, as you might expect, 10 million total hits, which I’ll reach in four to six years if my future rate of growth is similar to my past rate.  Of course, there is no real way to predict blog growth; my daily rate was virtually stagnant all last year, only to surge several times since the beginning of this one.  There’s really no way to know which events (such as an anonymous Redditor posting a link or a popular journalist sending a “tweet”) will result in momentary surges, nor what fraction of any given surge will become regular readers; if there were I’m sure the SEO spammers would be all over it like white on rice.

Even if there were such a magic blog traffic formula, I’d have no more use for it than I had for my friends’ well-meaning suggestions on how I could trick Google into finding my writings more effectively by giving them ugly, cumbersome titles or spending more time tagging the posts than writing them.  I’d rather expend my effort on creating interesting, informative posts which appeal to my own sense of aesthetics, and then trust Emerson’s mouse-trap effect to create a beaten path to my blog, written each day from a house which is indeed located out in the woods.

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The state calls its own violence law, but that of the individual crime.
–  Max Stirner

I compose these links columns all week long, adding them to a Word document as I find them; sometimes I quote the original “tweet”, link or headline directly, other times I write my own  “headline” right away, and still other times I just save the link and write one later.  On Thursday evening (usually) I pre-post what I have, adding whatever I find on Friday or Saturday directly into the post, then bring it into its final form on Saturday afternoon (again, usually).  Well, up until Saturday morning it looked as though my friend Grace was actually going to beat out perennial link-contribution champ Radley Balko, but he pulled ahead at the last minute with several more.  Everything down to the first video is from him, including the video itself; the first three items after the video are from Grace, then the rest are from Walter Olson, Brooke MagnantiBaylen Linnekin,  Neil GaimanJacob SullumMichael Whiteacre and the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition; the second video and the first link below it were contributed by Jesse Walker.

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Prostitution has a social value, and it’s necessary in a city.  –  Daniël Termont

Without Let or Hindrance

Those who have dealt with “Child Protective Services” know that they are granted powers of which the Inquisition would have been envious.  They routinely abduct people’s children on the flimsiest of pretexts, often on hearsay and without even a warrant, and once this happens parents may never regain custody; if they do it is after years of jumping through ridiculous and ever-changing hoops, playing endless games of “Mother May I?” with power-mad bureaucrats, submission to outlandish violations of their rights and privacy, hundreds of hours in court and total financial ruin…and that’s not even counting the emotional damage to the children.  On Wednesday, an activist named Kathi Duran began a hunger strike on the steps of the California state capitol to call attention to these abuses; as expected, she was arrested almost immediately.  She asked me to call attention to her protest and share this press release, and I’m happy to do so and will provide updates as I get them.

Updates

License To Rape

This result doesn’t happen nearly often enough:

An ex-Houston police officer [named Abraham Joseph]…was sentenced to life in prison…for raping a waitress…Joseph could have received as little as five years…but jurors chose the maximum sentence instead.

News articles always refer to criminal cops as “ex-cops”, implying they had already been fired when they committed the crimes.

Lack of Evidence

The San Francisco Police Department announced…that [it] will [temporarily] stop using condoms as evidence in prostitution cases…Under current city policy, police cannot confiscate condoms…But…police sometimes broke the policy…A July report from Human Rights Watch criticized San Francisco, along with New York, Washington, DC and Los Angeles, for [the practice]…

Spam received by a reader; if this isn’t a hoax, the cops, voyeurs or pimp wannabes who set it up labor under truly mythic levels of ignorance and disinformation.

December Q & A

Sex educator Debby Herbenick on the need for more research on anal sex:  “…In an incredibly short period of time, anal sex has become a common part of Americans’ sex lives.  As of the 1990s, only about one-quarter to one-third of young [Americans]…had tried anal sex at least once.  Less than 20 years later, my research team’s 2009 National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior found that as many as 40-45 percent…in some age groups had…[yet] taboos persist and…the list of what we don’t know about anal sex is far longer than the list of what we do.  This makes it difficult for sex educators to feel truly confident in answering people’s very real and important questions…

Backwards into the Future

Add Malawi to the list of countries whose legal experts understand human rights better than those in the US; one of them said thatDespite the fact that Malawi has not outlawed sex work…police officers on night patrols pounce on sex workers and…charge…[them] with rogue and vagabond…This is a clear violation of rights of sex workers…”  He also commented on the unsanctioned compulsory HIV testing I reported in TW3 (#24), stating that it “is not recommended by…UNAIDS” and “it is impractical and unworkable and more effective results can be reached by supporting sex workers’…access [to] testing, prevention, and support…

Housewife Harlotry

No, marriage isn’t prostitution; not at all:

…Several [New York] attorneys have shared the craziest [prenuptial agreements] they’ve penned…[including] items like “no piano playing while the husband is home”, cash bonuses…if either is caught cheating and an agreement to terminate a pregnancy if one should occur…[some include]a weight clause…[another] said [the wife] would never wear green and if she did, her husband [could]…destroy the item…One husband demanded “wife not allowed to cut her hair”…

The article also mentions the wives’ demands, including husbands being home by a certain time and (surprise!) being paid for sex.

Saving Them From Themselves

Amanda Hess adds to our list of good articles about “sexting” hysteria:

When Polaroid inventor Edwin Land introduced the first commercial instant camera…in 1948, he ushered in what Christopher Bonanos …in The Atlantic calls a “magnificent new era” in photography…for “instant, shareable nudie pics”…The new…format for…nude photographs—sexting—[is]…basically the same:  instant explicit photographs, taken under the radar, shared between lovers and friends.  In a recent report on a new study of teen sexting…dating “expert” Dr. Wendy Walsh favored terms like “embarrassment,” “shame,” “risky,” and “pressure” to describe the photographic form.  And negative terms like those permeate the…discussion around teen photo sharing, though for years research has shown that the media-wide concern-trolling is overblown…

Tyranny By Consensus

On November 6th Los Angeles county will decide whether to impose AHF’s “condoms in porn” measure; this video explains the real motive behind the whole thing:

Uncommon Sense

…In Ghent’s red-light district, as in many other cities, prostitutes sit in windows to attract potential clients.  According to the new law in Ghent, women must wear something in addition to lingerie and may not dance or make suggestive gestures…[Mayor Daniël] Termont…stressed that the measures were intended to reduce the nuisance caused by customers…rather than to victimise the workers.

Saint Death

This US Army report on the Santa Muerte belief refers to it as a “death cult” (technically true, but the phrase has false and pejorative connotations), declares that it isn’t a “true” religion and states that “Although not all members of the cult are criminals, all live an existence that is dominated by crime.”  I’m sure that bartenders, taxi drivers and prostitutes (who are not criminalized in Mexico) might disagree that their lives are “dominated by crime”, though cops (another large segment of her devotees) probably wouldn’t.

Umpteen Thousand People Can’t Be Wrong

It’s good to see some journalists finally starting to listen to us:

…Backpage’s critics say they are facilitating sex slavery…[but] all the figures quoted in the media come from a single source, a consultancy called AIM Group…[whose] methodology is shaky at best…they ignore major adult ad networks and mainstream ad networks that accept adult ads…and traffic, revenue and share-of-market numbers, even accurate ones, are no indication of how many…ads…actually convert into…transaction[s]…nor what subset of those…are with a minor or…coerced [person]…Backpage publishes about 3.2 million…ads a month…about 11 percent…are listed in…Adult Services…Backpage removes over a million ads a month…[mostly] for spam and fraud…Only 1.6 percent of the [removed] ads…are from the Adult Category…Only 2 percent of that 1.6 percent, or about 400…a month, are suspected of advertising a minor.  Backpage reports those…immediately (and under no legal obligation) to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).  In other words, about 1/25 of 1 percent (.04 percent) of the ads Backpage removes…are suspected of advertising a minor for sexual services, a number that represents 1/100 of one percent (.01 percent) of its…ad volume…

Instead of the usual prohibitionists, the article interviewed folks like researcher Ron Weitzer and Kate D’Adamo of SWOP.

The More the Better

Diary of a Rookie Phone Sex Floozie…Lucinda Latimer…whose real name is Jan…was…broke, isolated and almost suicidal…  she had sold her car and had no idea where her next penny was coming from when she saw a documentary on former career women who turned to the sex industry to make a living.  Previously, she had [earned] up to £1000 a night as a graphologist…but ill health and the break-up of her marriage forced her back to Perthshire…[she now does phone sex work and] what has struck her about the men is how normal and pleasant most are and how well educated…Trying to hide her work would have made it shameful and sordid…[so] Jan decided to speak out…she has written…The Diary of a Rookie Phone Sex Floozie, and is about to launch volume two…

The Rape Question

Jezebel’s “sex advice” columnist gives a reader advice on how to shove her finger up a guy’s arse without his consent because she wants “to massage someone’s prostate goddamnit!”.  Take note of the tepid protests to the columnist’s suggestions on how to trick and bully him into it, then imagine the firestorm if a male writer gave a man advice on how to pressure a woman into something because he wants “to fuck some chick in the arse goddamnit!

Change of Heart

I’m never happy to see a sister pilloried, but I suspect the police decision to expose her customers is going to backfire so badly that this may have some positive results in the long run:

[Alexis Wright has]…been charged with running a prostitution business out of her Zumba dance studio [in Kennebunk, Maine] and secretly videotaping her encounters…Police have begun issuing summons to Wright’s customers and will release the names in the weeks ahead.  Townspeople say they’ve heard that lawyers, doctors, law enforcement officials, a television personality and other well-known people in town are included in a detailed clientele list police found.  A lot of people would rather not see the names made public because it will hurt families, children and careers…

So Close and Yet So Far

Another would-be ally undermines her own case by accepting the false claims of prohibitionists:

…In the Netherlands, prostitution is legal.  Nonetheless, over 60% of the women involved in prostitution are involved in the sex trade illegally.  The Mayor [of Amsterdam] and others refer to these as ‘trafficked’ – either because they are exploited and involved in the sex trade against their will…or because they are illegal workers brought to the country to work voluntarily in conditions different from those they expect…the argument for legalization included belief that it would…decrease trafficking, it has had the opposite effect…prostitution has gone from a predominantly home-grown industry to one very heavily dependent on illegal foreign workers…a [recent law criminalizes hiring]…a prostitute who is not registered with the government…But…this…means that…[the] information must be public so that…[clients] can verify that the sex worker is…licensed…[this] invades the privacy of both…prostitutes and…customers…

Prohibitionists intentionally confuse legalization and decriminalization, ignore the bottleneck effect of registration, pretend that correlation equals causation and conflate “unregistered” with “trafficked”, and the author, Dr. Nancy Darling, fails to question any of it.

Metaupdates

See No Evil in TW3 (#24)

Ilfracombe, the English town which claims to be unique in the world by being absolutely whore-free, proves it can be as prudish about lumps of bronze as anyplace in the Bible Belt:  “Damien Hirst refers to ‘Verity’ as a ‘modern-day allegory for truth and justice’…[but hundreds of local residents and law officials]…call the 66-foot bronze statue of a half-exposed pregnant woman ‘soft porn masqueraded as art’…

Down Under in TW3 (#40)

Australian sex worker activist Christian Vega has more to say on that “end demand” story from St. Kilda:

…As I read through [the article] the stench of bovine excrement almost made my eyes water…street sex work doesn’t relocate itself to another suburb on the other side of town…there is not an itinerant population of these workers who move en masse from one place to the next like migrating wildebeest across the African savannah…It’s more comfortable for people to think that sex work doesn’t happen in their community…and…that street sex workers must board a shuttle from planet Whore to our neighbourhoods under the cover of darkness before disappearing as the sun rises…

I think I like that imagery at least as much as my own.

This Week in 2010 and 2011

A federal judge enjoyed pleasures he persecuted others for and escaped with a slap on the wrist because officials always have different rules for their own class than for others; they’re also hilariously clueless about sex work and are only beginning to realize what a scam the “anti-trafficking” industry is.  I discussed America’s weird love-hate relationship with prostitutes, what a 1947 sci-fi story can teach us about the nanny state, how sex workers arrive at our prices and how prostitution is a much older profession than most people think, and I related the story of a famous whore-obsessed preacher, told some hooker jokes, shared my answers to some amazingly stupid prohibitionist statements and presented two spooky stories for the Halloween season.

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Delusions that shrink to the size of a woman’s glove,
Then sicken inclusively outwards:
…the incessant recital
Intoned by reality, larded with technical terms,
Each one double-yolked with meaning and meaning’s rebuttal.
  –  Philip Larkin

Usually I can see through to the truth of a prostitution news story, despite the credulity of reporters, the obfuscatory efforts of police and the liberal use of dysphemisms.  But every so often one comes along that’s so convoluted I just can’t say anything about it with any degree of certitude.  This is one of those times; I’ll point out its problems and share my observations and impressions, but don’t expect a neat conclusion because I haven’t got one.

A Wilmington [North Carolina] high school student is facing federal charges for crimes related to prostitution.  Her mother says her daughter is a victim of sex trafficking.  Laura Berte says…Alexandrea …has been missing since July.  She contacted law enforcement but says they were reluctant to place her daughter on a missing persons list since she was 19 at the time.  Berte said she continued to push a few more times, until a Wilmington police officer helped put Alexandrea on the missing persons national database…Alexandrea…who just turned 20 this week, was recently pulled over in Tennessee for a traffic stop.  When troopers ran her name, they discovered she was on a national missing persons list.  However…[she] also had three other young women in the car along with a small amount of marijuana, several gift cards and cell phones…

No matter what the mother claims about her daughter’s mental capacity (see below), she is a legal adult, as were the other three women; if any of them had been one day below 18 you can bet she would have been described as a “child” (or at least a “girl”) rather than a “young woman”.  “Federal charges for crimes related to prostitution” would almost certainly mean the Mann Act in this context, considering she was from North Carolina but arrested in Tennessee; though the story does not make it clear I suspect she was driving and that the rental was in her name, which makes her a “trafficker” under American agency-nullifying prohibitionist policies which insist that women are imbeciles who cannot make our own business decisions.  That’s especially ironic in light of the mother’s claims, as you’ll see.

After getting a tip, Laura found her daughter on backpage.com [sic].  Like many people, she was unaware of the online adult services site, which experts say makes it easy for traffickers to advertise girls all over the country with anonymity.  In 2010, Craigslist put a stop to advertising adult services, but Backpage soon picked it up.  Experts say Backpage makes around $20 million a year for these ads.  Laura Berte said she discovered that, within five weeks, her daughter had been advertised for sex in at least as many states…

I certainly hope you expected a reference to the Backpage witch-hunt; no “domestic sex trafficking” story is complete without it.  Note the absurd oversimplification of the flow of advertising on adult sites and the subtle erosion of Alexandrea’s agency by the passive-voice “had been advertised for sex”, implying that she did not place the ads herself; also remember that one of the defining characteristics of yellow journalism established by noted historian Frank Mott is “a parade of false learning from so-called experts”.

…”It’s just so traumatic for me to…comprehend that…my daughter has been lured into this kind of lifestyle.  I feel like she’s been kidnapped.  I feel like somebody stole my baby.”  Laura Berte said her daughter has a mental capacity of a 9 year old…”My daughter’s not a criminal…She doesn’t have the mental capacity to come up with this idea on her own.  This is bigger than her and bigger than most people in this community know, and it’s happening right underneath our noses…The quality [of Alexandrea’s Backpage photos] led me to believe someone is investing time and money.”

As we’ve seen before, parents and “authorities” often claim that adult women have “the mental capacity of a child” when they wish to present her as the “victim” in some unusual sexual situation which somehow went wrong.  But as usual, this claim doesn’t hold water; if Alexandrea supposedly had the “mental capacity of a 9 year old”, then how did she get a driver’s license?  Why was she not under some sort of conservatorship?  And why haven’t local officials made statements to the Feds corroborating the mother’s claims?  I think it’s pretty obvious that the mother believes what she wants to believe; her daughter couldn’t possibly be a dirty, nasty whore, so an invisible conspiracy must have “kidnapped” her, “lured” her into this “lifestyle” (a word which is nearly always pejorative), and apparently manipulated her from afar with mind-control rays.

National human trafficking experts say one third of all runaways are trafficked or exploited for sex within the first 48 hours after they go missing…Local experts say…North Carolina…happens to be one of the top ten states for human trafficking with contributing factors such as poverty and location.  Many girls have been trafficked up and down the East Coast, making North Carolina a drive-thru destination.  Women trafficked from New York to Miami have also likely been trafficked through North Carolina…

Really?  Fucking really?  Apparently these so-called “experts” (see Mott’s rule above) haven’t bothered to read any actual studies, which show that 84% of underage prostitutes (much less “all runaways”) have never even met a “pimp” even after they’ve been on the streets for months or years.  If a third were “exploited for sex” every 48 hours, virtually all of them would be within a month…and methodologically sound studies say exactly the opposite.  On a lighter note, here’s North Carolina’s entry in the “top human trafficking hub” pissing contest.

…North Carolina does not see ‘pimping’ as a felony…

Well, even a stopped clock…

…even if a minor gets arrested for prostitution, they could serve time as an adult.  Experts say that’s a fault within the system since minors would clearly be trafficking victims…

Oh, clearly.  Because everybody knows that teenagers are innocent children up until the magical Moment of Shazam, and therefore could not possibly conceive of the idea of selling sex.

…There were three other women in the car at the time – one was an 18 year old from Lumberton [North Carolina].  Another woman was from North Carolina [?] and the third was from Kansas.  Everyone but Allie was released…

Considering the current “sex trafficking” hysteria, this is the most interesting detail in the whole story, and the one which engenders the most confusion in my mind; if it weren’t for this, I would feel almost completely certain about every statement I’ve made so far.  If these other girls were hookers, too, why were they let go instead of being forcibly “rescued”, and why weren’t they charged for the marijuana?  If they weren’t hookers, what’s the basis of the Mann Act charge against Alexandrea? Is she supposed to have “trafficked” herself?  Or is the reporter as mistaken about the federal charges as she is about nearly everything else in this train wreck?  Given the tendency of embarrassing journalistic debacles to vanish from the national media, I don’t expect any more on this one; however, I’m going to ask my contacts in North Carolina to keep an eye out for a follow-up in the local media and I’ll let you know if I find out anything more.

Update:  A reader sent me this brief item which confirms that “Alexandra” (I’m not sure if this or the unusual spelling in the other story is correct) has been charged under the Mann Act, as I surmised.

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