Archive for August, 2013

The Olympics are always a chance for hosts to do some moral cleansing, and drive away undesirables by brute force.  –  Scott Long

Saeed MalekpourLying Down With Dogs

The lawyer of a man convicted of building and promoting pornographic websites [in Iran] says a death sentence against his client has been converted to life imprisonment…blogger Saeed Malekpour will spend the rest of his life in jail…”  There aren’t too many other countries barbaric enough to sentence a man to life in a cage for “dirty” pictures, but I can think of at least one other.

The Eye of the Beholder (June Updates)

The [Arkansas] Senate passed a bill…that would ban non-traditional…body art procedures, particularly scarification and dermal implants…

Wise Investment

Pay attention, sex worker activists:

The children of three women who were murdered by Robert Pickton have filed lawsuits against the police and the serial killer…They allege the Vancouver police and the RCMP failed to properly investigate reports of missing women and failed to warn women in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside that a serial killer was likely at work, despite having evidence implicating Pickton in the disappearance of sex workers as early as 1997 and 1998…

Surplus Women

The suspicious deaths of two prostitutes…has sparked a major investigation…The bodies of Jill Lyons and Karen Nabors, who both worked as online escorts, were discovered in an apartment building in Vancouver.  Ms Lyons, 45, was discovered dead in her own apartment on August 12…The body of Ms Nabors was discovered on August 25, also in her own apartment, and police…suggest…the 48-year-old was murdered…

shampoo adGullible’s Travels

Another ludicrous mini-panic from the clowns who brought you idosing, jenkem and vodka-soaked tampons:

“Parents, lock up your shower supplies”…is an actual quote from an announcement made…at a middle school just outside of Richmond, VA…of…a new practice called “shamboiling”…where shampoo is brought to a rapid boil and then the fumes are inhaled for a hallucinogenic effect…one thing is certain…shamboiling is catching on quickly and…is potentially deadly…The Sheriff’s department is  urging parents to check their shampoos for [ammonium lauryl sulfate] and to take the necessary precautions to keep these chemicals away from children…

Here’s the debunking on Snopes.

Universal Criminality

A perfect example of how laws against consensual behavior are used by repressive governments to harass those they dislike:

Police have detained a Chinese-American…on suspicion of visiting a sex worker in Beijing as authorities crack down on bloggers.  Charles Xue [AKA Xue Manzi], who has over 12 million followers on Sina Weibo…regularly reposts reform-minded content…Among those questioning the motive behind the arrest was the editor of the state-run Global Times newspaper.  “Cannot rule out the possibility that authorities are arresting Xue Manzi…to give him a hard time,” Hu Xijin wrote…in a blog posting that later disappeared…

Sex, Lies and Busybodies

Yet another “sex trafficking” opportunist exposed:

The founder of…anti-human trafficking NGO Sisha, Steve Morrish, announced…he was stepping down from his position due to a raft of allegations accusing him of financial impropriety…Sisha’s alleged financial problems were revealed publicly…on August 8 in…the Cambodian blog Penhpal.  The posting alleged that money donated to Sisha…“has instead been siphoned off to pay for the NGO’s operating expenses”…


Is this idiotic enough yet?  Can we stop now?

A 10-year-old girl…identified as “Ashley,” was charged by police for aggravated sexual assault…[for] playing doctor…a neighbor saw the children and called the mother of a 4-year-old boy…[whom] Ashley was inappropriately touching…Ashley’s mother…was not allowed to sit-in on the 45-minute questioning of her daughter…

Gail Dines threatens Radisson hotels

Gail Dines threatens Radisson hotels

Confined and Controlled

If this were intended to increase sex workers’ range of options, it’s would be fine; however, it’s clearly intended as a confinement system:  “Several communities in Italy have launched a campaign to ban street prostitution and reintroduce brothels, which have been banned since 1958…

Worse Than I Thought

As I predicted last year, the cancer keeps spreading:

…[new] legislation…in North Carolina….increases punishments for sex traffickers, i.e. pimps, as well as for purchasers, i.e. johns.  It also focuses on “treating minors involved in prostitution as the victims they are, instead of criminals,” [the bill’s sponsor] said…”The legislation also offers hope to women who escape a life of prostitution by allowing them…relief to expunge their criminal pasts once they get treatment and help”…[another law] requires pimps to register as sex offenders…

As I’ve explained before, “safe harbor” laws are bullshit that help almost nobody; “treatment” means (usually religious) “re-education”, and a “pimp” means just about anyone prosecutors decide to railroad.

Obfuscation Via Dysphemisms

Tulsa cops continue to justify persecution of adult women by pretending they’re “trafficked”:  “Human trafficking has developed into a booming enterprise in Oklahoma…on a given night,Melissa Ditmore the Vice Unit may deploy undercover police officers to respond to as many as 40 online advertisements posted by ‘escorts’ in preparation for prostitution stings that sometimes uncover cases of human trafficking…”  Note the misplaced scare quotes, around “escorts” rather than “trafficking”.

The Public Eye

Jessica Land interviews Dr. Melissa Ditmore, a prominent academic ally, on her research, The Encyclopedia of Prostitution and Sex Work, sex worker projects and organizations, and international issues.

That Old Black Magic

Here’s an interesting article on the connection between harlotry and witchcraft:

…Prostitutes were widely believed to be specialists in erotic magic, especially the use of philtres to sway the feelings of those around them…For example, a woman may resort to a binding spell, to handicap rivals in the trade or lock down a steady client…These women were also sought by those outside the trade for their magical expertise.  Those in troubled marriages might consult a prostitute to concoct a love potion to rekindle the affections of a wayward spouse…

King of the Hill

Most of this CNN story is the usual lurid “sex trafficking” rubbish, but I want to call attention to a fascinating new development:  “king of the hill” stories are now specifically claiming their subjects are the “third-busiest area for sex trafficking in the United States” (see also “Under Every Bed” below) rather than just “one of the busiest” or “in the top ten”.  As usual, the Department of Justice is credited for the “statistic” despite the fact that neither it nor any other agency keeps any kind of state-by-state “trafficking” statistics.  I suspect the “third largest” designation arose through confusion with the claim that “human trafficking is the third-largest criminal enterprise” (though that one’s been upgraded to second), but it will be interesting to see how many claim to be the “third largest” before anyone in the mainstream media starts to awaken.

What the Hell Were You Thinking? (TW3 #135)

A new Irish company named Safe IQ “develops safety products and services for sex workers…and raises awareness of the need for [them] to have the same protections as other workers.”  Here’s its first product:

Ugly Mugs for Android is a [free] mobile phone app that automatically screens incoming and outgoing calls and text messages and alerts the phone user if the…number…is listed in the UglyMugs.ie database…When a sex worker encounters a dangerous person, they [sic] can report the incident to the ugly mug scheme, and a warning will be made available to all sex workers…

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (TW3 #312)Indonesian protesters tear down insulting sign

Only a hopeless lawhead could imagine that closing red-light districts will make prostitution go away:

Hundreds of sex workers confronted the mayor of Indonesia’s second-largest city…angrily denouncing the closure of the Klakah Rejo district…The crowd later tore down a “Prostitution-Free Town” billboard erected by officials…”What’s going on?”…the mayor [said]…”We’re trying to help but they are refusing.”  Surabaya is also home to Dolly, reputedly the largest red-light district in South-East Asia.  The mayor said that one and other red-light districts would be closed as the city aimed to be prostitution-free by 2014.

Under Every Bed

Wisconsin is one of “the top three states” for sex trafficking, according to…Michelle Mayefske… Not all prostitution is trafficking. Some women, referred to as “renegades,” simply decide to sell sex and are not controlled or managed by anyone, but “that is very, very rare,” she said…“Gangs are now turning from drugs to human trafficking…[because] drugs can be sold only once and then they’re gone, whereas…a woman or a child can be sold over and over and over…Georgia, California and Wisconsin have the highest rates of sex trafficking in the United States, so we are in the top three”…

1) This is the second time I’ve heard this “renegade” bullshit; neither I nor anyone I asked knows where it comes from.  2) I think Mayefske is extremely confused about the concept of “sale”.  3) She needs to talk to Florida.


Veteran human rights activist Scott Long argues that activists who compare Russia’s anti-gay purge to the Nazi campaign against Jews are not only wrongheaded, but missing the most obvious comparison:

If Western gay…activists want to know what Putin’s decree will mean in practice:  ask a sex worker…Before every big sporting event, the same rhetoric reverberates:  Prostitutes are going to take over this town…The predictions are nearly always couched as concern for “trafficked” women, but they…come down to…anxieties over nuisances to “normal” neighbors, and…the reputation of the host city…What major sporting events bring is not an “explosion” in prostitution, but an explosion in repression…not in evil Russia, but in liberal Canada and the UK, countries that value human rights, except for sex workers, who aren’t human…Yet in London, few powerful voices opposed the Olympic rollback of sex workers’ freedom — and certainly few LGBT activists…

Deafening Silence

The treatment of sex workers in Cuba, including confinement for the purpose of ‘re-education’, was raised by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women…the…committee said it was “deeply concerned” about Cuba’s reluctance to address the issue of prostitution…” The United States’ confinement and “re-education” of sex workers, however, causes the committee no concern at all.  Funny how that works.

Sold Out

two of the largest and most well funded LGBT rights groups in the US have stayed quiet about Manning…whose revelations about the US Army’s actions epitomize social justice in action…the [silence of the] Human Rights Campaign and GLAAD…has been deafening… the HRC…[has] the financial backing of…Lockheed Martin…Booz Allen Hamilton…[and] Northrop Grumman…GLAAD has…Goldman Sachs…and Verizon…

Coming and Going (TW3 #331)

Kathryn Griffin finger pointingKate Zen takes a long, thorough look at Texas’ “prostitution diversion” program and its founder, Kathryn Griffin; she examines the program’s lack of any of the normal benefits of such schemes, its close relationship to the rescue industry, its pervasive Christian moralism and its ignoring all of the actual reasons women turn to prostitution in favor of a sin and victimization narrative.

Policing for Profit

Federal and state law-enforcement officers poured into Tukwila [Washington]…seizing three motels whose operators are suspected of participating in illegal drugs and prostitution…U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan…said that the three hotels…have accounted for 17 percent of all calls for police services in the past year…investigators believe the owners actively profited from criminal activity…Durkan said…[her] office will…actively use…seizures to force compliance…

Uncommon Sense (Extra Edition)

Though most English-language media is pretending Zurich’s tippelzone scheme is something new, it is nothing of the kind; this article lists a number of other cities in Germany, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands with similar setups.

Zurvivor (Extra Edition)

Donald Hill was acquitted…on a charge of [paying]…Alexis Wright, after a judge ruled prosecutors were not able to prove that money was exchanged.  The ruling could affect any additional charges of individuals alleged to have engaged Wright’s services…

HamletOpting Out

An example of why “porn filters” are a spectacularly bad idea:

A man using the British Library’s wi-fi network was denied access to…Hamlet because the text contained “violent content”…the…library said the fault was caused by a newly installed wi-fi service from a third-party provider.  One security expert said the incident highlighted the “dysfunction” of internet filters…Prof Ross Anderson…[said] internet filters were “pointless” and that it was “completely inappropriate” to have one in the British Library…

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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on July 28th; I have modified it slightly for time references and to fit the format of this blog.

Berlin book burning May 10, 1933The moral panic over porn has been ramping up for some time now, so it was inevitable that it would eventually engender state action; no government can long resist its sick compulsion to control its subjects’ lives in still another way, and when some useful idiots are practically begging for “protection” from scary pictures and naughty words, it’s like offering an alcoholic a tall, cold glass of rum punch on a blisteringly hot day.  But UK Prime Minister David Cameron says this isn’t censorship because the internet is dangerous, and besides it’s “for the children!”

Every internet user in the country will be asked whether they want to have access to pornography, David Cameron will say, as he warns that hardcore images are “corroding childhood”.  A joint British and American “task force” will…tackle obscene websites, while Google and other search engine providers will be required to draw up a “blacklist” of the most depraved and illegal search terms …The initiatives…also include…measures to stop children accidentally stumbling across explicit but legal pornographic images in public places…The six biggest companies providing access to wireless internet in cafés and railway stations have all signed a deal to block legal pornography where children could view it.  The roll-out of “family friendly Wi-Fi” is expected to begin from the end of August…

Though the majority seem to recognize this censorship for what it is, and some point out that it can’t even work as promised, I’ve already heard others asking how this is a big deal, since adults will be able to “opt out”.  But that’s not every time they sign on to the internet; it’s only once, when service is established.  In other words, the decision is kept permanently in the records of their ISPs…records government can have for the asking, and which prosecutors can trot out at “sex crime” trials as evidence of their “perversion”, and which police may be granted powers to study for the very type of witch hunt authorized by another section of the PM’s initiative.  As for the concept of “family friendly wi-fi”…have you ever tried to use filtered internet service?  Cameron and other censorship advocates like to pretend that so-called “porn filters” only do what their name implies, but that’s far from the case; they usually block any- and everything containing certain taboo words, which includes a great deal of medical and psychological information, GLBT and sex worker rights resources, and people, places and companies whose names contain banned syllables such as “sex” or “cunt”.  At the Desiree conference last month I discovered that even my blog, which is not remotely pornographic but does discuss sexual topics, was blocked by the filter at a donut shop in Las Vegas.  But at least I can guess why mine is caught in the net; some companies are blocked for no discernible reason, and getting themselves unblocked is incredibly difficult.  And then there’s the slippery slope; I hope I’m not the only one who shudders at the phrase “illegal search terms”.

But as important as they are, censorship issues aren’t the only reasons to oppose this horrible nanny state expansion; as I’ve pointed out before, such schemes inherently infantilize women.  Dr. Brooke Magnanti writes:

…many such discussions treat women exclusively as victims or potential victims, with no more control over their own lives than toddlers.  With the endless ongoing campaigns to ban boobs in the Sun or ban whatever type of porn is being presented as a cause for panic this year, no one ever asks – what if we ban this, and attitudes towards women don’t improve?  What then?  Because there are plenty of places with considerably less sexual freedom and access to porn than here, and they are not exactly bastions of gender equality either…

Feminism women as childrenCensorship, as Robert Heinlein famously observed, is “like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can’t eat steak.”  It is dangerous tyranny to restrict the activities of adults to those which our self-appointed masters determine to be appropriate for children, and (as any sex worker or drug user could tell you) impossible to stop people from seeking out avenues of pleasure by banning them.  After five years of trying, Australia gave up its plans for a national porn filter last November; even the notoriously-puritanical United States seems to recognize that putting the djinni back into his bottle is impossible.  The UK should heed these examples and shut down this ill-considered pipe dream now, before it has resulted in the waste of millions in addition to all of its other bad effects.

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Back Issue: August 2010

Let’s start getting the word out that whores are no different from other women, and that “a woman’s right to choose what to do with her own body” is more than just a euphemism for abortion.  –  “Friday the Thirteenth

streetwalker and copBy the beginning of my fourth week of blogging, I was already starting to pick up new readers beyond the friends who already knew me from other places on the internet; my traffic had almost doubled from the month before, but the number of visitors I got per day was still lower than I get in a slow hour now.  Still, it was enough to excite me and inspire me to keep working at it.  A number of my July columns were actually chapters from a book I had thought about writing or other essays which I had written previously, but by August that material was exhausted and I had no more crutches to lean on.  In those days, I posted at irregular times; many days I actually wrote the column in the late morning and posted it in the early afternoon, and sometimes they didn’t get posted until sometime in the evening (I didn’t realize I could schedule them ahead of time for another year).

white slaveryBut even by the end of this month, I was trying to develop more regular habits; many of these columns were written the day before or a couple of days out, then staged in a folder for me to post just after breakfast the next day.  This system had innumerable disadvantages over my current one, but it had one advantage:  it was extremely flexible.  If I saw a news story in the morning, I could pre-empt my planned column for that day, quickly write about the story and get it posted that day (or the next if I didn’t see the story until after my daily column had already been posted).  This happened twice in August: “How To Be a Stupid, Greedy Whore” was my very first column written about a current event, and its subject was the first inductee into my Hall of Shame; it was followed only ten days later by “Legal Sundries”, my very first miscellanea column (the predecessor of today’s “That Was the Week That Was” feature).  Nor were those the only firsts that month; “Lammas” was my first holiday column, “Traitors to Their Sex” my first full-length discussion of neofeminism, “Here We Go Again” my first look at the “sex trafficking” hysteria, “New Film Reviews” my first review column, “Marilyn” my first biography of someone I knew from my work andBroken DollFriday the Thirteenth” my introduction of the day for non-sex workers to speak out on our behalf.  “Aversions” (sexual things I hate) was my very first “listicle”, but it was quickly followed by “Advice for Clients”, “Bad Girls” (the various types of bad hookers) and “Out and About” (my favorite Greater New Orleans eateries), all in the same type of format.

clipboardThe average column was still quite long at that time, and some concepts took several days to explore; “The Only Working Girl in New Orleans” is the three-part story of the months after Hurricane Katrina, when I was the only escort in town;  “Regulars” is only two parts, but its discussion of regular clients continues with a discussion of recurring “Nuisances”, “Recognition” and “Celebrities” together are a two-part look at what happens when an escort already knows her client from outside of sex work, and “Whore Madonnas” forms another dyad with “Red Shoes Lady” since they both talk about the maternal feelings of whores.  I was also still writing a lot of introductions to basic concepts then; besides those I’ve already mentioned there was “Cops and Condoms”, which tells how the self-destructive male aversion to condoms is even stronger in cops; “Nothing in the Dark”, which explains why smart sex workers don’t let clients turn off the lights; “The Clipboard Effect”, which looks at how savvy escorts come and go discreetly; “Presents”, which talks about the extra gifts clients give their ladies; and “The Rescuers”, which examines people who want to “save” hookers from our lives.  This month’s harlotography was about “The Empress Theodora” and its fictional interlude was “Painted Devil”, one of my personal favorites; rounding out the selection were “Whores and Wives” (a cross-section of the ways women react to discovering their husbands paying for sex) and “Just Plain Weird”, a look at my oddest requests (which aren’t at all what you think).clock watcher

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I recently went to get a body rub, and was only looking for the typical “happy ending” because I’m married and worried about STDs; however, when the hour was almost up she unexpectedly got on top of me — bareback.  I came in about 10 seconds.  Does she do that for everyone and just doesn’t advertise it, or did she actually like me?  Is it possible for her to have used some device to make me think I was entering her when it was something else?  I usually last longer than 10 seconds, but after almost an hour of incredible touching I couldn’t help myself; does she think I’m inadequate?  I realize that this was a commercial transaction and I’m behaving as if it was something more, but I can’t help it.

La Masseuse by Edgar Degas (prior to 1917)First of all, if I were you I’d get checked right away.  The chances are that she actually slipped a condom on you without your noticing (because some of us are extremely good at that), but since you don’t know for sure you need to be careful for your wife’s sake if not your own.  If she honestly and truly did take you in bareback (not just between her thighs, which [again] some girls are extremely good at), there’s a very good chance she does it for lots of people, and that’s how diseases get spread.  As I’ve explained many times, professionals are nearly always scrupulous about protection; however, the internet has made it very easy for inexperienced amateurs to get into the business without any opportunity to learn from more experienced ladies, and you have no way of knowing if your masseuse was one of them.

Yes, it’s possible that she liked you, but for most women (especially most pros) that’s simply insufficient reason to get up on top of somebody and give him a freebie.  The chances are, if she did it for you she does it for lots of people (even if it isn’t “everyone”), and since you can’t be sure she protected herself somehow (though it’s likely she did) you can’t afford not to get checked.  Don’t panic; the chances are highly against your getting anything really scary, but chlamydia and the like are bad enough and I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes if your wife gets infected.

And no, she doesn’t think you’re inadequate; the word you’re looking for is “normal”.  Personally, I was always a bit annoyed (though obviously I didn’t let him see it) if a client took more than a few minutes once he was inside; it made me worry that I was losing my touch!

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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Morality cannot be determined by genitals.  –  Masruchah

Here We Go Again

“The Inside of the White Slave Traffic”, from 1913.  Enjoy, and marvel at how little the “sex trafficking” narrative has changed in a century.


Here’s a glossary of the many types of sex workers in 1920s Berlin, including streetwalking dominatrices with extremely specific specializations:

The very first thing foreigners noticed in Berlin was its thousands of prostitutes, on the streets, in hotel lobbies, and seated at cafés and clubs.  How many women made their living selling sex in Berlin during the Golden Twenties is impossible to calculate, but estimates range from a low of 5,000 to the oft-published figure of 120,000 (not including the city’s estimated 35,000 male prostitutes).  It all depended on one’s definition of the term…Altogether there were seventeen distinct varieties…

License to Rape

A New Orleans police officer who was…booked with forcible rape was indicted…on additional sex crimes…Desmond Pratt Sr., a longtime homicide detective, was indicted on one count of sexual battery of a 15-year-old in 2001 and one count of carnal knowledge of a juvenile in 1997 or 1998…

Acting and Activism

Rape for ProfitHere’s actress Jada Pinkett Smith’s entry into the clueless celebrity division of “sex trafficking” fandom:  “Rape for Profit”, a “documentary” based on the premise that “there is a growing problem in major U.S. cities where girls as young as 12 years old are bought and sold as many as 15 times a night to service the desires of men.  Experience the shocking truth and follow several heroes as they fight this modern-day slavery and stop the next generation of buyers…” Yes, this was released in 2013, not 1913; I know it’s hard to tell.

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

You’ve got to admire his chutzpah:

The…mayor [of Salvador Mazza, Argentina]…Carlos Villalba…was arrested…during a raid on a brothel as part of a case investigating human trafficking…[protestors] demanding that the mayor resign…threw eggs at the building where the town officials were meeting, and even traded blows with a group of municipal employees…the mayor said he believed he was at a family home…not in a brothel…

Lack of Evidence (April Updates)

A plan by the Education Agency of Prabumulih, South Sumatra, to include virginity tests as part of its high school admission requirements has drawn the ire of legislators and education experts, who say that such an exam is a violation of personal space and an obstruction to a student’s right to an education.  H.M. Rasyid, the chief of Prabumulih’s Education Agency…[said] increasing instances of premarital sex and prostitution among female students prompted the move…

Public Service Announcement

Michael Brooks sextingKansas City FBI agents have scrutinized allegations that an online relationship led to Councilman Michael Brooks being blackmailed into getting city tax dollars for a community event that never occurred…Brooks is a married father of four and a Baptist minister…[who] went to the FBI to report…[that a] woman he was involved with tried to extort $60,000 from him…[after] they…exchanged lurid pictures…

Nasty Words

Regular readers know that I dislike grotesque euphemisms for genitalia and sex acts, but love the history of language; apparently the latter is stronger than the former, because I thought y’all might appreciate these two charts of slang terms for both male and female genitalia over the past 800 years.  The Timeglider platform takes a bit of getting used to, but I figured it out in a few minutes so I’m sure you can as well.

Big Sister

Emasculated Icelandic journalist is absolutely shocked to discover that prohibition of consensual behavior doesn’t work any better in Iceland than it does anywhere else; he goes to a “champagne club” and pays for a stripper, then when he leaves claims to have been “flooded with a range of emotions from disgust, anger and shame, but they settle at simply feeling sullied.”  Retired call girl and blogger tells him that he isn’t fooling anyone but his neofeminist overlords, and maybe not even them.

Girls, Girls, Girls!

San Francisco’s celebrated, unionized and worker-owned peep show the Lusty Lady will close its doors…on September 2nd…due to a lease dispute…the group had negotiated a lower rent…months ago.  A new lease was signed and notarized by the co-op but not immediately returned by the landlord.  After a few months paying the lower rent, the landlord apparently reneged and went back to the higher rent, which the club didn’t have room for in their budget.  The landlord put off new negotiations until [August 19th, then]…notified [them that] they had to be out…[in] two weeks…”if someone out there has a miracle up their butt” they are encouraged to reach out to the Lusties at LustyLadyPR@gmail.com

Uncommon Sense (TW3 #11)German sex box

Zurich…unveiled a sex drive-in which local authorities say will enable them to keep closer tabs on prostitution…the nine so-called “sex boxes” are located in a former industrial zone…[and] will be open daily from 7:00 pm to 5:00 am, and only to drivers, who must be alone in their vehicle if they want to pass the gate…they will have to follow a marked route along which up to 40 prostitutes will be stationed.  Once they have negotiated a rate, they will drive to one of the…boxes…[which] will be equipped with alarms, allowing the prostitutes to make rapid contact with police if they are in danger…Zurich has spared no effort to encourage the prostitutes and their clients to leave the city centre and use the new site, making it as pleasant as possible…To avoid putting off clients, city authorities said they had no plans to install video surveillance or deploy police at the site permanently.  Social workers and security guards will be on hand, however…

Older press releases say most local hookers support the plan; as Laura Agustín points out, however, any attempt at regulation creates some bottleneck:

…whenever this sort of plan arises…numerous street workers simply refuse to transfer their activities to the regulated zones, which are always far away from bustling areas if not in downright deserted ones.  Instead, they move into some other commercial/residential neighbourhood, where the cycle begins again…

An Example To the West (TW3 #39)

over…100…teenage boys…whose mothers are [sex workers]…will be part of 14 [soccer] teams [in Kolkata]…the winners of the tournament, organised by DMSC, will receive soccer-related gear.  Surojit Bhattacharya and Bishwajit Nandi, two children of sex workers left August 2 for Poznan, Poland to represent India in the Homeless World Cup that began August 10…

So Close and Yet So Far

I don’t know if anyone at the American Jewish World Service read my critique of Ruth Messinger’s statements about sex work and “trafficking”, but they’ve prepared a splendid document called “Sex Worker Rights: (Almost) Everything You Wanted To Know But Were Afraid To Ask”, in which neither I nor several other activists could find a single fault (and believe me, we were looking).  Bravo, AJWS; welcome to the ranks of true allies!

Backwards Into the Future (TW3 #41)

Malawian lawyers recognize “avails” laws as relics of the “white slavery” hysteria; why can’t American ones get that?

…no provision in the Malawi Penal Code criminalises the selling of sexual services…yet…some police officers in Malawi appear to be operating under the assumption that sex work is illegal…based on an interpretation of [a] section…which prohibits a woman from living on the earnings of prostitution…The [law]…can be traced back to 1912…[and] unsubstantiated allegations of women being trafficked to colonies for the purpose of prostitution…

Tyranny By Consensus (TW3 #51)condoms

There has been a development in the porn industry’s lawsuit to overturn the Los Angeles “condoms in porn” law:

…Judge Pregerson has decided that condoms in porn do not violate the First Amendment…[but] much of Measure B does violate the Constitution…he has…[removed] the County’s ability to [charge a fee for,] suspend or revoke [a filming] permit…[or] conduct warrantless searches of producers…a fine or criminal penalties could not be imposed without a judicial hearing.  The Court also…[found] that Measure B does not define adult films sufficiently since…activities such as kissing…could possibly transmit disease…

Skin To Skin

Tauriq Moosa on sex workers and the disabled:

…sex workers’ services shouldn’t only be recognised in the light of people with disabilities, but people with, say, psychological hangups, and so on…This doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with people who choose sex workers because they “can’t get” anyone without paying for it – just as people don’t “resort” to online dating…seeking out sex workers is nothing to be ashamed of; it’s not wrong, or indicative of being a failure, deviant or a slightly off human being. However we find fulfilment, as long as we are not harming others, shouldn’t be an issue and we should celebrate that there are people, like sex workers, helping and facilitating this…

The End of the Beginning

The North Carolina law banning registered sex offenders from commercial social networking sites…that children can use is unconstitutional because it’s vague and violates free speech, the state Court of Appeals ruled…unanimously in vacating the additional felony conviction of a registered offender…[who] created a profile…on Facebook…

A War for Peace (TW3 #321)Amina doesn't need dimocracy

First she had no last name, then we were told it was “Tyler”; now as the Topless Tunisian announces she’s leaving Femen, I think we’re at last getting the real one:

Amina Sboui…was arrested in Kairouan [on] May 19…after she tagged the word FEMEN on the wall of a cemetery.  The group then held several protests to support her…but now that she’s been released after more than two months in prison, Amina has decided to leave FEMEN, calling it “Islamophobic”…[she also said] “I do not know the movement’s sources of funding.  I repeatedly asked Inna [Shevchenko]…but she refused to give clear answers…What if it was Israel that funded it?”…

Ad Absurdum

I find the repeated usage of the word “victim” herein to be especially grating:

Kaitlyn Hunt…was arrested again…Under the conditions of a pretrial court order, Hunt was forbidden from contacting the victim…[and] was offered a plea deal to lesser, nonsexual charges…[but] the state attorney’s office withdrew that offer…following allegations that Hunt repeatedly met with the victim and sent sexually explicit photos via the Internet…

More Harm Than Good

Given that Sam Woolfe believes that sex workers are dominated by “pimps, drug dealers and traffickers”, that we’re diseased and too stupid to care for our own health, that our work is “degrading”, and that legalization increases “sex trafficking”, one has to wonder what the “legalization” he advocates would look like.  And given that he apparently had the time and inclination to fill his head with bogus studies and made-up statistics, one is at a total loss to understand why he wasn’t able to locate the readily-available debunking of the garbage he spouts in this asinine article, or to simply consult with someone who actually knows something about the subject before writing it.

Cuckoo Advertising
Ashley Madison 36 hours of bullshit

Ashley Madison is at it again, and the credulous media are still swallowing their ads as “press releases”.  This time it’s ABC-TV’s Good Morning America show, opening wide for the claim that the average woman who joins the site is in bed with some “lucky” dude about 36 hours after joining; hiding in that comparatively-minor assertion’s shadow is the whopper that 40% of the site’s members are female (though in all fairness, we don’t know how Ashley Madison defines the words “member” and “female”).

But Brandon Wade of Seeking Arrangement is not to be outdone; he wrote a “press release” touting the claim that 40,000 of the aspiring sugar babies on his site are teachers, and got the Daily Caller to buy it…thus plugging into the teacher fantasies of many a would-be sugar daddy, of whom there are undoubtedly more than a few among the Caller’s readers.

Zurvivor (TW3 #334)

Alexis Wright…doesn’t have to answer questions from prosecutors at the trial of alleged client…Donald Hill…Justice Roland Cole ruled Wright didn’t have to testify after her attorney argued her testimony could open her up to prosecution on new charges, including federal crimes and perjury…

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Since long I’ve held silence a remedy for harm.  –  Aeschylus, Agamemnon

Hugo the veganSome of you have asked for my take on the Hugo Schwyzer meltdown; others have (perhaps more perceptively) asked why I haven’t said anything about it.  After all, I’ve never made a secret of my distaste for men who brand themselves “feminists”, nor my disdain for the social constructionism Schwyzer has championed for years, nor my disgust with specific elements of his catechism.  And let’s face it, my opinion of most of the sites he has written for (such as Jezebel and the Good Men Project) couldn’t be much lower than it is.

But despite our professional differences, he’s always been polite and respectful to me when we’ve “met” online; I recognize that this was part of his public persona, but it doesn’t change the fact that (to my knowledge) he’s never done anything to hurt or defame me.  And though he has professed some very silly beliefs, sex work prohibitionism is not among them.  Simply put, he isn’t my enemy and never has been; he’s just one of many people I barely know who has some dopey ideas and made some really poor decisions.  Furthermore, I don’t generally take delight even in the downfall of enemies, viewing them as problems to be solved rather than objects of hatred.  So my reaction to the collapse of Schwyzer’s public life isn’t pleasure, or satisfaction, or even neutral interest; though I can’t say I feel sorry for him, I also don’t relish seeing anyone who isn’t unquestionably evil so thoroughly humiliated.

There is one other factor in my decision to say as little as possible about the matter:  I am on friendly terms with some of the other actors in this tawdry little drama, and have been watching it unfold in slow motion since before Christmas; frankly, I’m amazed it took so long to reach its climax, and though there were obvious signs by mid-July I wasn’t exactly sure when it was all going to boil over.  But as I watched I was keenly aware of one thing, just as I have been every time I’ve watched sexual intrigues burst open like rotten fruit:  I don’t actually know what happened between these people.  I know what they’ve told me, and what I’ve seen, and what others have said they believe, and what my best judgment tells me about the whole thing; but I do not know anything with certainty, and therefore feel that it’s better I not take sides.  Others in the sex worker rights community feel differently, and that’s their right; I don’t hold it against them, just as I hope they won’t hold my judicious neutrality on the matter against me.  Frankly, I see nothing to gain and much to lose by expressing anything more than the opinion that I wish the whole sordid affair had been kept entirely private amongst the participants from start to finish; for me, this discolored tapestry is a thing better left alone.

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Some magicians may ride a broom and fly in the air with the help of the djinn.  –  Sheikh Abdel Mohsen Obeikan

As I explained last week, I was absolutely swamped with links; this week we’re more back to normal, which is good because one extra TW3 column (which will appear Tuesday) is quite enough, thank you very much.  Our top contributor, as so often happens, was Radley Balko, with everything down to the first video.  That one was provided by Franklin Harris, who also gave us “disgrace”; it’s fairly long but well worth it if you’re a fan of Star Wars, Batman: The Animated Series, or both.  And though being an avid bicyclist might increase your appreciation of the second video (contributed by Jillian Keenan), enjoying slapstick will also do the trick.  The links between the videos are from Broke Brehon (“Steed”), Jesse Walker (“witchcraft”), my husband (“homeless”), Nun Ya (“OK”), Lenore Skenazy (“lava lamp”), Mike Siegel (“closing”), Susan (“freedom of assembly”), and Cop Block (“never call cops”).

From the Archives

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All prostitution laws are conceived as methods to control women who, before ideas of victimhood took hold, were understood to be powerful, dangerous figures associated with rebellion, revolt, carnival, the world upside down, spiritual power and calculated wrongdoing.  –  Laura Agustín

The Pro-Rape Coalition

Dr. Robert King on porn, with a nice endorsement of yours truly:

…Some would like to ban fantasies—hide them away…fantasy can function as an outlet for desire…violence—including sexual violence–has been decreasing across the board.  Has consumption of violent fantasy decreased?  Quite the reverse.  Violent video is everywhere but violent crime has gone down…we really need to stop thinking that we…know what is good for others—especially when those others are consenting adults…puritans…try to control others’ sexuality…through guilt, fear, and misinformation… as documented in exhaustive detail by the excellent Brooke Magnanti and Maggie McNeill…If the puritans were serious about harm to children they would spear-head proper realistic sex education…


Brian Doherty draws on a Forbes article to discuss the government’s latest efforts to shut Bitcoin down, destroy everything good about it or, failing in both of those, to steal a cut of it.

If It Were Legal

One wonders how much more often sex workers could help to fight actual crime were we not absurdly and arbitrarily classed as criminals ourselves:

A prostitute given $300 in dye-stained $20 bills led police to the home of the man suspected of robbing a…bank…she…told the FBI agent [that the suspect, Anthony] Nugent…began behaving erratically [after paying her, so]…she left…later that night…her boyfriend…told her [the money] appeared to be dye-stained…Bubblegum Husky


Frankly, what’s most “unclear” to me is how this is even physically possible:

An Idaho man was arrested Thursday after police say he sexually penetrated a cat on more than one occasion.  Ryan Havens Tannenholz, 28 – a…”furry” who dresses up as a dog he calls Bubblegum Husky — is charged with six counts of crimes against nature, and one count of cruelty to an animal…It’s unclear how [police] learned about [his] alleged actions…Furry News Magazine Flayrah reports that Tannenholz was a member of…furry fandom…who portrayed himself as a “sparkly” husky, a blue fox named Kismet…and another purple canine…

Above the Law

I’ve said it countless times:  As long as government actors have excessive power over individuals, cops will continue to rape women in their homes:  “A deputy in Texas accused of raping a woman in front of her children has resigned…Lisa Rodriguez…said [he] told her if she resisted he would take her to jail…” or during traffic stops:  “…Thomas Merenda and Franklin Hartley…are charged with unlawful compensation, a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison…Hartley ordered the passenger to perform oral sex on him, then [raped] her.  Merenda…asked the victim…to punch him in the…genital area…’Tom really enjoys this’, [Hartley] reportedly told the driver…”  Note that the cops are charged with “accepting bribes” rather than rape, and the reporter even avoids the word.  TSA agents can’t even confine their groping to travelers:  “A [TSA] manager at Lexington’s Blue Grass Airport resigned after he was charged with sexually abusing a co-worker…Shane Hinkle, 38…is accused of forcibly touching [his victim]…

Enabling Oppression

The Polaris Project continues its loathsome and exploitative campaign to link sex work to historical American black slavery:

New undercover footage of pimp-controlled prostitution will be shared…at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and End Slavery Cincinnati to show the realities of enslaved women.  The Polaris Project developed the 20-minute footage from the streets of Washington, D.C.  Following the showing, representatives from The Salvation Army’s Anti-Human Trafficking Program, the Cincinnati Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Off the Streets program will speak about the reality of pimp-controlled prostitution in Cincinnati…

Imagination Pinned Down

Elizabeth LoftusHere’s a short overview of the work of Elizabeth Loftus, the foremost expert on the malleability of human memory:  “…Loftus…has done more than any other researcher to document the unreliability of memory…and…has used what she has learned to testify as an expert witness in hundreds of criminal cases…informing juries that memories are pliable and that eyewitness accounts are far from perfect recordings of actual events…Now…[her] research is starting to bring about lasting changes in the legal system…” I drew heavily upon Dr. Loftus’ work for the research paper I wrote for the Albany Government Law Review, to be published this autumn.

Hooker Humor (TW3 #31)

Miranda Kane, the BBW escort turned comedienne, is getting good reviews; here’s an introduction she wrote for the Edinburgh Festival:

…There’s a stigma to sex-workers, as well as their clients.  We’re all shown the negative side, the poor, helpless trafficked victims.  But all the women I knew were just ordinary, happy ladies who just happened to enjoy having sex for money…Our clients weren’t seedy, sex-obsessed perverts.  They were kind, keen, appreciative men who just wanted a moment of luxury, intimacy… to be able to be with the kind of women they could only fantasise about normally…My show exposes the every-day life of a sex-worker; how we work in the digital age, the bizarre and strange requests from clients, what both elated and annoys us.  I try and show the human aspect – that the women are normal, they’re not drug addled victims, nor are they overtly beautiful and wealthy courtesans.  They’re women you see every day…


[Queensland] Police Minister Jack Dempsey is considering allowing sex workers to make suburban house calls after lobbying by the Prostitution Licensing Authority.  While it is lawful for sole operators to make house calls it is illegal for brothels to send their workers to clients…brothel owners…[say they] need the extra business to remain profitable…[PLA] chairman Manus Boyce…[said] that illegal prostitution was operating without fear in Queensland and that allowing more outcalls could put more pressure on the illicit trade…

The Naked Anthropologist

Last week Dr. Laura Agustín published “Prostitution Law and the Death of Whores”, a primer for those who haven’t thought much about the harm anti-prostitution laws cause:

…Twenty years ago I first asked two questions that continue to unsettle me today.  The first is answerable:  What does a woman who sells sex accomplish that leads to her being treated as fallen, beyond the pale, incapable of speaking for herself, discountable if she does speak, invisible as a member of society?  The answer is she carries a stigma.  The second question is a corollary:  Why do most public conversations focus on laws and regulations aimed at controlling these stigmatized women rather than recognizing their agency?  To that the answer is not so straightforward… My focus on the female is deliberate.  All who propose prostitution policy are aware that men sell sex, but they are not concerned about men, who simply do not suffer the disgrace and shame that fall on women who do it…

Though it’s not extremely long, the article covers agency denial, the “rescue industry”, the irrationality of prostitution law, neofeminism, the Swedish model and media sensationalism; it’s thus one you should bookmark for sharing with people who are ignorant, but will listen to reason.floating brothels Utrecht

Dutch Threat

As the Netherlands continues to cave in to greed and hysteria, Dutch sex workers have been forced to find their own solutions:  “A group of 15 prostitutes in Utrecht have set up a cooperative to run floating brothels after the council withdrew operating permits from their previous landlords.  The cooperative, named Macha’s, is now applying for a…brothel licence and a boat mooring permit…Some 300 Utrecht prostitutes lost their place of work when the council cancelled contracts for the operation of brothels…because of human trafficking fears…

Backwards into the Future (TW3 #321)

The Commission for Gender Equality has [submitted] a proposal…for the decriminalisation of sex work [in South Africa]…“The current position of total criminalisation has not succeeded in addressing problems associated with sex work”…said the…commission…[which] was informed by studies conducted in…New Zealand and Australia.  “Legislation…should adopt the principle that sex work is work, and allow the industry to be governed by the wealth of existing labour and business laws aimed at preventing unsafe, exploitative and unfair business practices”…The commission said studies…offered strong and concrete evidence that decriminalisation empowered sex workers to protect themselves from violence…improved relationships…[with] the police…[and] reduced chances of sex trafficking or sexual exploitation of children…


Deals with devils always have more conditions than anticipated:

The Maine woman convicted of running a prostitution business out of a Zumba fitness studio is headed back to court…to fight having to testify at the trial of one of her clients.  Alexis Wright…has been subpoenaed by prosecutors to testify at the trial of Donald Hill…

It’s That Time Again (TW3 #326)

A politician’s wife wants her state to look even stupider than New Jersey by starting “gypsy whores” panic a year and a half in advance:

The wife of Sen. John McCain…is calling on the [Arizona] legislature to pass tougher laws against human trafficking…[for] the Super Bowl in 2015.  “The Super Bowl, as all of you know, is one of the world’s largest human trafficking centers when it goes on in the world,” McCain said…Forbes reported that 10,000 prostitutes were brought to Miami for the 2010 Super Bowl.  There were 133 prostitution arrests in Dallas during the 2011 Super Bowl…

No, Forbes said that habitual liars NCMEC claimed there were that many, and there were 133 arrests of all kinds in the entire Dallas-Fort Worth area during a 2½ week period before the Super Bowl…which is typical for DFW.Spreadsheets

Between the Ears (TW3 #332)

Dr. Brooke Magnanti writes about others who think good sex can be defined by statistics:

…Thanks to the new [iPhone] app Spreadsheets, no longer will you have sex without being able to save and analyse the stats of your performance…according to the company’s website:  “Spreadsheets monitors data from user’s movement and audio levels through the accelerometer and microphone to provide statistical and visual analysis of their performance in bed”…The notion that longer is better…and that loud equals enjoyment has gained such traction in popular culture that it’s hard to find any other measure of what “good” sex is…I once dated a guy whose sole measure of whether a good time had been had was how long he stayed erect.  Being jackhammered long into the wee hours is hardly a great way to spend your time…

Do As I Say, Not As I Do (TW3 #332)

A pastor from…Sweden has been convicted of buying sex from a prostitute after…police broke up a major pimping operation…[he] has been temporarily relieved of his duties…”  Synopsis of the rest:  “human trafficking”, “These woman were used as if they were on a conveyor belt“, blah blah blah.

Election Day (TW3 #332)

As you might imagine, I find this new trend of cops arresting retired madams on drug charges to be a highly disturbing one:

…Heidi Fleiss has been charged in Nevada with possession of marijuana with the intent to sell…officers found nearly 400 marijuana plants growing in and around…[her] home in Pahrump…She said she had been growing marijuana without a license and that she intended to sell it to a cooperative in Las Vegas…she was not arrested.  All the plants were taken away by police as evidence.

Yeah, “evidence”.  Pull the other one, guys.

The Privilege Paradigm

Coincidentally, someone else wrote about the problem with the word “privilege” and came to almost exactly the same conclusions as I did:

…A privilege is something extra — and from a very young age, I knew that when something was referred to as a privilege, I was in danger of losing it.  How does that make sense…with something like being free from fear of police harrassment?…when it is called a “privilege,” my initial thought is that it is something unjustified that should be taken away — i.e., we should all have to be stopped and frisked…I [have] some degree of autonomy and dignity in my work — do we really want to say that that’s a “privilege”?  In both cases, aren’t we dealing with something more like a right that’s been denied to a great many people?…

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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on July 21st; I have modified it slightly to fit the format of this blog.

Narcissus by Carvaggio (c 1595)People, as the Doors song says, are strange.  And one of the strangest of all the strange types of people in the world is the narcissist, the person who appears to be absolutely convinced that the entire universe revolves around him.  Now, we all start out that way: as infants we are completely self-centered, but babies have the excuse of being not exactly brilliant by adult standards; they are simply unable to comprehend that there are a huge number of other beings with whom they must share the world.  Of course, we expect this of babies; it’s only when they manage to make it to adulthood with this overinflated ego intact that problems arise.  And though such people have an adverse affect on everyone around them, it seems exaggerated when those with whom they interact are sex workers.

Because the narcissist believes his own life to be more valuable than those of others, every fraction of that life – in other words, any given amount of time – is more valuable than an equal amount of anyone else’s time.  What this means in practice is that the narcissist expects other people to be willing to invest as much time in interacting with him as he is in interacting with them; while it’s possible for them to waste his time, he cannot fathom that he might be wasting theirs.  This effect is intensified when sex workers are involved for two reasons:  One, because our time is what we sell, so lost time is lost money; and Two, because there seems to be a very common misconception that since clients come to us for pleasure, we must also be doing it for pleasure (hence the popular “whores are lazy” myth).  Some men think there’s absolutely nothing wrong with calling an escort and trying to keep her on the phone as long as possible, or actually making an appointment and then not showing up (or not answering when she shows up), or taking every minute of the purchased time and then s-l-o-w-l-y washing up, getting dressed, etc so as to consume another twenty minutes or more.  After all, she’s just a lazy hooker, right?  She can’t possibly have anything else to do but entertain him for free, and the idea she might have another appointment never seems to enter his mind.

I honestly thought I had seen my last time-waster, but when I became an activist I discovered otherwise.  Apparently, every last anonymous prohibitionist on the internet believes that I just lie about all day, looking at myself in the mirror and eating bonbons while my staff writes my blog; I therefore surely have unlimited time to refute all of his tinned arguments, look up links for him and restate the content of my entire professional oeuvre in convenient 140-character sound bites.  As I told one such individual recently, I would take as much time with him as necessary if he were a legislator trying to push for decriminalization or a celebrity who planned to advocate it on national TV; I’m sure you won’t be surprised when I tell you that he was offended by the suggestion that he did not have the power to influence millions.  Nor does the relative fame of his target make any difference to such a person; Laura Agustín recently wrote a post explaining that no, she couldn’t do students’ research for them, and (despite her stage name being practically a household word) Brooke Magnanti still gets people who are Terribly Offended when she won’t take time out from writing, travelling and public appearances to refute prohibitionist myths for the umpteenth time on Twitter (she recently shared this wonderfully snarky tool for adjusting the thinking of those who expect such hand-holding).

child with gunBut as far as sex workers are concerned, the very worst and most dangerous narcissists are those who truly believe that their feelings take precedence over other people’s health, safety and income.  These are, of course, the prohibitionists, people who believe that because they dislike sex work, nobody should be allowed to do it.  They think that because they don’t like the idea that men can hire women for sex, cops should arrest men and harass women to discourage the practice; because they don’t like knowing lad’s mags exist, the whole industry should be shut down (no matter how many people lose their jobs); and because they feel uncomfortable hearing sex workers defend our choices, we cannot be allowed to speak.  When narcissism is limited to foolish demands for attention, it’s merely amusing or annoying as the tantrum of a spoiled child might be.  But when the narcissists use the machinery of government to impose their personal prejudices on others, it’s like giving that same spoiled child a loaded gun.

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The war on privilege will never end.  Its next great campaign will be against the privileges of the underprivileged.  –  H.L. Mencken

check your privilegeI finally figured out exactly what it is about the word “privilege” that annoys me so much.  It isn’t just that it’s thrown about so often these days that its place in an identity politics or “feminist” drinking game or bingo-card parody would be a given; nor that it’s often used (generally in the phrase “check your privilege”) to shut down discourse; nor that it’s increasingly employed by statists to subvert the concept of individual liberties; though of course all those things are part of it.  Over a year ago I wrote that

…I tend to tune out when sex worker activists start blathering about “privilege” as though it were some specific quality like height, skin color, IQ or income.  There is no single quality in the modern world which confers “privilege” as birth once could, not even money or education.  I’m not denying that some people are underprivileged and others start out with greater advantages, but this is inevitable in a world where everyone is different; even in a hypothetical post-scarcity economy of the future where teaching machines gave everyone a university degree at the age of five, there would still be a plethora of areas in which some had advantages over others.  Furthermore, early advantages no more ensure success than early disadvantages guarantee failure, and in fact a growing number of psychologists point out that too much privilege often makes a child (and the adult he becomes) fragile, maladjusted and less likely to succeed than one who has to struggle to achieve his goals.  It is as pointless to feel guilty about one’s natural advantages as it is to resent those with other advantages one lacks…

At the time, I knew that overuse of the word irritated me, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on the exact reason.  But now I realize what it is, and it’s twofold.  Firstly, a privilege is something that is conferred upon a person by others; we don’t speak of a dog’s “superhuman hearing privilege” or a bird’s “flight privilege” because we all understand that these things are innate in the animal.  Yet similar natural characteristics in humans are often referred to as “privileges”, despite the fact that they cannot be considered such by any normal understanding of the word; no conscious entity “grants” a human a good brain, a healthy body or a stable neurochemistry, therefore these things can only be advantages, not “privileges”.  And that brings us to the second part of the problem:  the word “privilege” implies an advantage which is undeserved and unearned, and thus something for which the individual so “gifted” supposedly owes some debt or obligation to someone else (generally God, country or “society”).  The replacement of semantically-neutral words like “characteristic” with the semantically-loaded “privilege” is an overt attempt at emotional manipulation, an effort to make the fortunate feel guilty for characteristics over which they had no more control than their eye color or height.

not a privilegeGovernment’s conversion of natural rights into granted “privileges” is a similar cognitive game; if civil liberties are unearned “privileges” magnanimously granted by beneficent governments, “authorities” arguably have the power to take them away again under certain conditions just as a landlord has the right to evict a tenant who has violated his lease.  But when we recognize that self-ownership and personal agency are the birthrights of every single sentient being, governmental abrogation of those rights is seen for what it truly is:  Violation.  Usurpation.  Theft.  Rape.  For example, using the phrase “white privilege” pardons the government for its systematic violations of the rights of minorities; if the way white people are preferentially treated in Western societies is a “privilege”, an “extra” thing conferred upon some but not others, the onus of guilt seems to fall upon those who are fortunate enough to have received this (undeserved) gift.  But if we recognize the truth, that such treatment is the birthright of everyone, then the onus falls where it belongs:  on those government actors who act independently or collectively to rob minorities of what is rightfully theirs by virtue of their humanity.  Being harassed relatively less by cops, being treated more leniently by the courts and the like are not “privileges” conferred upon white people who otherwise would be treated as poorly as minorities; rather, minorities are cheated and robbed of their inalienable right to be treated in the same way as white people.  To refer to decent, respectful treatment as a “privilege” is to imply that nobody actually deserves it, when in reality everybody does.  And nothing that rightfully belongs to everyone alike can reasonably be called a “privilege”.

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