Archive for September, 2013

Politicians are forever attempting to ban or control complex physical, economic or social phenomena by simply passing laws; ignorant people hail such attempts as “progressive”, but the wise recognize that such behavior is exactly equivalent to that of a primitive medicine man attempting to control the weather by shaking a rattle and doing a dance.  –  “Fallout

true_believerBy the beginning of September I had two months of blogging under my belt and was beginning to get the hang of the thing at last.  I was starting to work ahead and even stated as much in the introduction to this month’s fictional interlude, “Greek God” (which was actually written when I was 18 years old).  However, that wasn’t always the case yet; as I explained last month, many of these were written on the actual day of posting and weren’t published until later in the day:  “The Doors of Perception”, for example, wasn’t posted until 9:05 PM!  Though this was more difficult in many ways, it did give me a flexibility I no longer really have; “An Angry Reply” was a reaction to my first hate mail (a comment on the previous day’s column) and was posted as soon as it was written, and “One Step Forward”, my column on the decision which overturned Canada’s anti-prostitution laws in Ontario, was written within hours of my getting the news and posted the next morning.

Muppet ShowAs the introductions to these columns demonstrate, I was already getting considerable feedback from readers.  People were writing in to alert me to news articles and ask questions, and I answered some of those questions in my very first (two-part) Q & A column.  “He or She?” was also in response to a question, but it bears more resemblance to “The Biggest Whores” (in which I announced the censoring of Craigslist’s “adult services” section) in one important way: each contains one section I later thought better of, and recanted in a later column.  Most bloggers (and even commercial news sites) will edit or even delete articles which they later find embarrassing, but I think that’s incredibly dishonest; you can’t unring a bell, and prior to the advent of the internet a newspaper or magazine couldn’t take back issues that had already been sent out.  I like to treat my blog something like a print feature (hence my useMae West of the term “column” rather than “post”), so I do the same thing print journalists used to do: issue a retraction or correction, while leaving the original untouched.  Now, I fully admit I’ll correct typos or alter lines to eliminate widows (even months or years later), but I will never shove as much as one line of an essay down the memory hole.  Incidentally, the correction for “He or She?” appeared in “Due Consideration”,  and that for “The Biggest Whores” in “The Free Speech Mafia”.

Though my columns were starting to shorten slightly by this time, most were still above 1500 words and multi-part ones were not uncommon; “Q&A” and “A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody” (my very first “hooker songs” column) were both two-parters, and “BDSM” was three.  There were a few other firsts that month: “For Their Own Good” was my first column on the “condoms in porn” foolishness, “September Updates” my first update column (along with “miscellanea”, the precursor to “That Was the Week That Was”), and “Think of the Children!” the column in which I introduce the concept of “sex rays” and the earliest which to me reads like my current style for this blogLetsFaceItWomen (though if it were written now, I’d embed the Katy Perry video).  Some features I introduced in July and August were continuing: “The Yellow Rose of Texas” was this month’s harlotography, “April” its biography of an escort I knew, and “Mabon” its holiday column; I also published two listicles (“Terminology” and “Pet Peeves”) and a collection of “New Book Reviews”.

Three of the remaining September 2010 columns are among my most often read to this day:  “A Whore in the Bedroom” advises women who don’t want their husbands going to whores to give them what they want at home, and is my 7th most-read column of all time; “Black Men” explains why so many escorts refuse to see black clients, and is my 6th most-read; and “All Shapes and Sizes”, which discusses the various sizes and shapes of human genitalia, is my 3rd most-read.  Finally, I published “Storyville” (a short history of prostitution in New Orleans); “Flavor of the Month” (a look at my bisexuality); “Out of Control” (the problems which arise from male sexual frustration); “Imaginary Victims” (the portrayal of sex workers as victims); and “Fallout”, in which I see the first glimmerings of a change in attitude toward sex workers.Gamesters of Triskelion

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You are sitting here like cattle!  Is this America?  –  Robert Small

I really do try to balance all the stories of bureaucratic tyranny and police brutality with light, funny or fascinating items; some weeks it’s just a lot more difficult to do that.  This week’s first video, a cute comedy based on Jesus raising Jairus’ daughter from the dead in the eighth chapter of Luke (trust me) was provided by Antonio Lorusso, and the second, on performing Shakespeare with original pronunciation, by Franklin Harris.  The first two items below (and the “puppy” part of the third) were provided by Radley Balko, but the first part of the third came from Grace (who also contributed “PTA”) and the “Alzheimer’s” part from Cop Block (who also contributed “bystander”).  The first seven between the videos were supplied by Brooke MagnantiNun Ya, Jesse Walker, Gideon, PopehatMistress Matisse, and Mike Siegel (in that order); Mike also provided “dead horse”.

From the Archives

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What Feministe did is like pissing on your host’s carpet, then storming out indignantly when they point out that you just pissed on the carpet.
–  Chris Hall

Rough TradeAkis Levas

Australia agrees with what I have stated before: cheating a whore is a form of rape:  “Akis Emmanouel Livas…pleaded guilty to sexual intercourse without consent after he left the woman with a white card bearing a printed red rose instead of the agreed $850…

Bad Girls

Ladies, if a client treats you badly, it’s probably best just to add his name to an “ugly mugs” or “bad date” registry and leave it at that:  “Angela Dawn Specker…cut a former john on his forearm when she saw [him] in…a liquor store the [next] day…Specker told the cop…that…he…had been very aggressive…pulling her hair and slapping her…[then throwing] the $100 at her and [leaving]…

A Procrustean Bed

New York officially classes all whores as passive objects without agency:

New York…is creating a statewide system of…criminal courts to handle prostitution cases and provide services to help wrest…sex-trafficking victims from the cycle of exploitation and arrest, the state’s chief judge announced…The new Human Trafficking Intervention Courts will handle all cases involving prostitution-related offenses that continue past arraignment…the court will refer defendants to services like drug treatment, shelter, immigration assistance…health care…education and job training, in an effort to keep them from returning to the sex trade…women typically enter prostitution…between…12 and 14, Judge Lippman said…

As we have often seen, basic mathematical literacy is not a requirement to hold office in New York.


A San Francisco strip club is suing Oracle after one of its employees ran up $33,540 in charges on a company credit card – and Oracle refused to pay the bill…Jose Manuel Gomez Sanchez…[charged] $16,490…at the New Century Theater…[then] returned two nights later and rang up another $17,050…

The Proper StudyUgly Mugs survey cover

For the first time the men and women selling sex indoors in Ireland have been asked about their lives.  The findings harshly contradict the popular media image…The 195 escorts who took part…were from 29 different countries.  Most were…in their 20s or 30s and highly educated…97.3 percent were self-employed independent escorts…there was no evidence of the involvement of any under 16s and only one participant was aged under 18.  Participants reported low alcohol and drug use [and] high condom use…

An Ounce of Prevention

A common drug that dermatologists prescribe to treat nail fungus appears to…completely eradicate infectious HIV from cell cultures…the virus doesn’t bounce back when the drug is withheld…[so] it may not require a lifetime of use to keep HIV at bay…the fact that it’s already deemed safe for one type of human use could make the regulatory process faster than usual…

Saint Death

…A…$3.4 million settlement with the family of Jose Guerena will end a two-year legal battle…Guerena…was [murdered] by SWAT team members…when they raided his house…[a spokesman claimed] the settlement is not an admission of any wrongdoing…”  You may remember that the cops tried to claim that Guerena, a retired Marine, must have been a “drug trafficker” because he had a picture of Jesus Malverde.

Above the Law

I get that there’s not technically a federal rape law, but this seems to seriously downplay what this cop did:  “Jason Glenn Thomas…a…Police sergeant in Tuscaloosa, Ala., was sentenced…to…ten years in federal prison…for sexually assaulting a…woman in violation of federal civil rights laws…[after detaining her and transporting her] to a remote area…

Scapegoats (TW3 #10)

In Phoenix, dog porn is a higher law enforcement priority than rape:

A…man accused of burning his initials onto the genitals of at least one woman was arrested again…after…deputies allegedly found pornographic videos featuring a dog at his home.  Christopher Jackson…was arrested on suspicion of bestiality…“If you saw the video, you’d be pretty sick,” Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said…Police also arrested…Josephine Erikson, who they say is seen in the videos…Arpaio on a date

While Arpaio seems to be motivated by the desire to leer at women in person after watching them in stolen dog videos, over in North Carolina they’re motivated by weird ideas about sexual purity:

A…woman is accused of having sex with dogs while her…husband filmed them [for]…the Internet…Ruben Chance James Fox and his wife, Amber Nicole Fox…face…charges of bestiality, conspiracy…disseminating obscene materials…[and] soliciting a crime against nature.  The Humane Society tipped off the…police…

Change of Heart

Edinburgh sauna chiefs have compiled a “hypocrisy hit list” of senior public figures who paid for sex at their premises in recent years…[it] includes police officers, council officials, lawyers and even two “celebrities”…[and] is due to be unveiled at a civil court case next month…the list…proves double standards among public officials trying to shut the city’s sex industry down…

Shift in the Wind (TW3 #43)

Melissa Gira Grant on the increasing desperation of prohibitionists:

I’ve written before about Equality Now (in Jacobin, and in Reason)…[who] deny that anyone involved in the sex trade dissents with their approach.  Lately their op-eds have turned explicitly against sex workers’ rights, which makes sense, as the past two years have seen the mainstream of the global health and human rights  community joining sex workers in calling for an end to…criminalization…Equality Now appear to be losing credibility as human rights advocates…As more and more…advocates…demand…that sex workers be understood as the experts…the anti-sex work campaigners begin to look quite out of step with the…people they claim to protect…

Lauren Hersh, who wrote the op-ed to which Grant refers, was a prosecutor who resigned in disgrace after she was caught railroading two black men on rape charges.  Grant also commented on a Scott Long article which examines Equality Now’s lies and schemes at great length, ending with this bombshell:

…The Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy is offering a practicum for students…in a project for Equality Now.  “This project would analyze the legalization of prostitution and formation of sex workers’ rights groups…Equality Now seeks to better understand the movement…in order to refute arguments for legalization and lobby for adoption of the Nordic Model instead”…

In other words, Equality Now is paying a prestigious institution to spy on sex workers so as to help it create fake sex worker rights organizations which will lobby for the Swedish model, thus confusing politicians and others into thinking there is legitimate debate among sex workers about decriminalization being best.  The strategy itself is nothing new; it’s why Swedish model missionaries often deceptively and incorrectly label it “decriminalization”.  But that they are willing to go to this extent demonstrates the depth of their desperation, and the fact that the school took down the page as soon as they realized activists had found it (but not before Melissa got this screenshot) shows that they are fully aware of how incredibly unethical this is.

A Tale That Grew in the Telling (TW3 #50)

Sunitha Krishnan’s lies get more outrageous all the timeSunitha Krishnan says whores get 100 clients a day

Yes, that’s 100 clients a day she’s claiming there.

Book Reviews (TW3 #133)

For over two decades, Chester Brown has been one of Canada’s leading cartoonists, known…internationally for such works as Yummy Fur, Ed the Happy Clown, I Never Liked You, and Paying for It…For this year’s McCready Lecture, Chester Brown will present an illustrated talk…[to complement the] presentation in the Canadian galleries of a selection of the original drawings created for Louis Riel and will launch the new anniversary edition of the book…


last week…Feministe made a very embarrassing and controversial post about sex work disappear from their site, along with several hundred comments…they have not posted any explanation, apology, or retraction for the post, apparently hoping that they can just make it vanish down the memory hole…”Dear Feminists” by Sarah Elizabeth Pahman…pretended to be about…impoverished sex workers, [but] it was all about Pahman, and how seeing them for the first time made her feel…[the incident] shows how deeply institutionalized their problems with sex work are…

The Joy of Juxtaposition (TW3 #312)

Georgia appears to be competing with Washington for the state with the most ridiculous and extreme manifestation of “sex trafficking” hysteria:

…a new Georgia law requires certain businesses to post…notices letting sex trafficking victims know who to call for help…The list includes: adult entertainment establishments, bars, airports, train stations, bus stations, truck stops, emergency rooms, urgent care centers, farm labor contractors, privately operated job recruitment centers, rest stops, hotels, and massage parlors without licensed massage therapists…

What, not ethnic restaurants and nail parlors?Stop the Traffik


Did you see that ridiculous video which claims that most whores in Amsterdam were “trafficked”?  Here’s Dr. Brooke Magnanti on what’s wrong with the entire mindset that produced it:

…[in] Stop the Traffik’s recent “viral”…bystanders who think they’re enjoying a show are suddenly broadsided with a ham-fisted…message…It neatly employs a trick that has been used by what Laura Agustin calls the “Rescue Industry” for some time now: conflate all trafficking with sex trafficking, and all sex work with trafficking…it’s then perfectly acceptable…to mislabel consensual sex work as abuse…and at the same time to ignore the more widespread and less fashionable phenomenon of forced labour happening in domestic and drug sectors…the people who influence public taste and public policy definitely don’t want anyone looking too closely at where their cleaners and their drugs come from, but everyone hates sex work, so attacking that is A-OK.  Raids that rescue exactly zero trafficked individuals and put plenty of willing others behind bars are fine…

Still a Child

The UK is moving toward defining people in their early twenties as “children”:

…Child psychologists are being given a new directive…that the age range they work with is increasing from 0-18 to 0-25…the change follows developments in our understanding of emotional maturity, hormonal development and particularly brain activity…There are three stages of adolescence – early adolescence from 12-14 years, middle adolescence from 15-17 years and late adolescence from 18 years and over.  Neuroscience has shown that a young person’s cognitive development continues into this later stage and that their emotional maturity, self-image and judgement will be affected…

Keep in mind that since “adolescence” is largely an artificial concept, dividing it into periods like this is equally artificial.  But at least someone with sense is quoted in the article:

Frank Furedi, professor of sociology at the University of Kent, says we have infantilised young people…”There is a loss of the aspiration for independence…and…psychology…reinforces that kind of passivity and powerlessness and immaturity and normalises that…we hold our children back from a very early age.  When they’re 11, 12, 13 we don’t let them out on their own.  When they’re 14, 15, we hover all over them and insulate them from real-life experience.  We treat university students the way we used to treat school pupils”…

Another excellent article by evolutionary psychologist Peter Gray explains that one of the biggest culprits is the eradication of unsupervised play:

…around 1960…adults began…reducing children’s freedom to play on their own…Adult-directed sports…began to replace “pickup” games; adult-directed [activities]…began to replace hobbies; and parents’ fears led them…to forbid children from going out to play…away from home, unsupervised…Over the same decades…[there has been] a continuous…increase in anxiety and depression in young people…the suicide rate…has more than doubled, and…[there has been] a decline in empathy and a rise in narcissism…[which is] exactly what we would expect to see in children who have little opportunity to play socially.  Children can’t learn these social skills…in school, [which] is an authoritarian…setting…[where] children…are not free to quit when others fail to respect their needs and wishes…Yet policymakers…are continuing to push us in the opposite direction — toward more schooling…more adult direction…and less opportunity for free play…

Be Careful Who You Rape

The “deals went bad”.  Seven times.

…Van Dralan Dixson, 38, confessed to police that he was responsible for a Sept. 1 rape in which he [attacked] a woman who was leaving work at a fast food restaurant…he told police…that the [only] two incidents that [he was sorry for]…the one…“with the kids and the ‘chicken lady’”…but the rest were prostitute deals gone bad and he had nothing to apologize for…

Imagination Pinned Down (TW3 #334)

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Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.  –  Proverbs 16:18

Paradise Lost VI (line 327) by Gustave Dore (1866)Perhaps it’s because I’m bisexual that I can see the foibles of both homosexuals and heterosexuals more clearly; maybe standing fully in neither sphere gives me an outside perspective on both of them which allows more objective judgment.  More likely, it’s simply that I’m not a narcissist who expects the entire world to cater to her preferences and throws a hissy-fit when it doesn’t.  Three months ago I published an essay which was harshly critical of the gay rights movement, and today it’s the straights’ turn to be on the receiving end of my opprobrium.

To be fair, I must point out that the parallel is anything but exact:  while the gay rights groups I criticized were the largest and most mainstream ones, Straight Pride UK is not remotely mainstream; they appear, in fact, to be of that species of independent thinkers generally referred to as “crackpots”.  The organization contends that the 2-3% of the population who are homosexual have somehow managed to get ahold of the reins of power, and that this sinister lavender cabal is now oppressing heterosexuals via pride parades; for no earthly reason I can fathom, its members also seem envious of the ordeal of “coming out”.  But if they were just another group of somewhat odd, more-than-a-little-paranoid people coming together to promote their own unique take on reality, I wouldn’t be writing about them; even their grammatically-appalling statement that “Straight Pride support what Russia and Africa is doing, these country have morals and are listening to their majorities” is no more morally reprehensible than similar tyranny-cheerleading practiced by many other anti-rights organizations every day, and thus not remotely newsworthy.

What does make the group newsworthy is the way it responded to a blogger’s publication of a document it labeled a “press release”:  by demanding he take it down, and making a bogus legal claim when he refused:

…the email from Straight Pride UK’s press officer, Nick Steiner [said]:  “It has been brought to my attention that you have published the email that I sent you to, you did not state this in your email request, nor you did have consent to do this.  I therefore request that you take down the article that you have placed on your blog.  You have 7 days in which to do this, failing this I shall submit a DMCA to WordPress to have it removed.  I laughed this off, and responded to the email arguing their case was absurd…I assumed this would all be swept under the carpet…[but] I was wrong – within a few days WordPress caved to them without question, removing my article and telling me if I tried to publish it again I’d be suspended…

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is an American law which requires US-based websites (like WordPress) to comply with demands (“DMCA takedown notices”) from copyright holders to remove copyrighted material posted by others; it’s the reason for the ubiquitous “This video has been removed” notices on YouTube.  Even though Straight Pride and the blogger, Oliver Hotham, both reside in the UK, a huge fraction of internet companies (including blog-hosting sites) reside in the US; DMCA notices are thus an all-too-common means of censoring others because although the takedowns can be appealed, it takes time, effort and submitting to some onerous conditions.Srop hurting straight people feelings!  Since Hotham is a student he lacked the resources to pursue this; it would probably have ended there had Steiner, flushed with his sleazy victory, not pushed the issue by demanding Hotham remove all references to Straight Pride UK from his blog and refrain from ever writing about them again.  Hotham responded as any self-respecting blogger would:  by blogging about it (the post is quoted above).  And what happened next?

This is not having the impact that Straight Pride UK might have hoped for.  Instead, they are encountering the Streisand Effect in an immediate and catastrophic way.  Many bloggers are reprinting  Oliver’s post; Oliver has given his permission to do so.  Straight Pride UK [reacted with a tweet reading, “Police now dealing with this encouragement of harassment.  Any further re-posts, profiles will be printed & provided to them.”]  In fact, they are reacting in a manner that shows that they don’t merely hold the completely ridiculous position that their “press release” is protected — they also think that they have a right to be free of criticism about their censorious twatwafflery…

The full text of Hotham’s original post is available at Popehat; as a bonus, you’ll also find the full text of Straight Pride UK’s Facebook-posted response to the controversy, which clearly displays the organization’s collective cluelessness for all the world to see.  Incidentally, the lawyers who blog at Popehat (especially Kenneth White, author of that post) are great defenders of free speech and foes of censorship in all of its ugly forms; regular readers know I refer to them often, and may recall last month’s  “The Free Speech Mafia“, wherein I (briefly) explained how Ken rescued me by repelling a thuggish attempt at censorship not entirely dissimilar from the one described above.

(This column previously appeared in Cliterati on August 18th; it has been slightly modified for time references and to fit the format of this blog)

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We live in a time which has created the art of the absurd.  –  Norman Mailer

Vermeer by numbersSome of my readers say they need to keep a dictionary handy while they read my essays.  That works fine for regular words, but sometimes I use metaphors that may be a bit obscure nowadays.  Do most of y’all remember paint-by-number kits?  Do they still sell those?  For those who have never seen one, a kit consists of a board on which is a line drawing, and each area contains a number corresponding to one of the containers of oil paint that come with the set.  One simply paints each area with the proper color, and if properly done it looks (almost) exactly like the picture on the box; if clumsily done, it at least resembles the picture.  “Sex trafficking” stories are a lot like that; most of them start out with the same basic outline, and then the copyist reporter simply fills in the details by the numbers.  If done properly, it almost looks like something a third-rate journalist might turn out, but if done clumsily …well, it’s easier to show you.

Many Morris County activists are counting the days to…Super Bowl XLVIII…but not for love of football. They’re already working to reduce the human trafficking that inevitably happens when tens of thousands of tourists assemble…

Our would-be artist, Lorraine Ash, must think that little reversal is very clever; unfortunately, the brainpower she devoted to it would have better been spent on a few minutes of research.  Had she done so, she would have discovered things like this, and this, and this, and this, and this, and even this…which prove that the word “inevitable” is about as far from the truth as it’s possible to get.  Oh, dear; I do believe Lorraine mistook the “6” for a “9” and used the wrong color here.  But no matter; let’s see how she does on the next one:

…“There are four times as many people enslaved today than there were in the 1800s,” said Linda Michalski…campus minister at Benedictine Academy…“The value of a slave has actually decreased …Frederick Douglass was sold for $792.  Today, somebody is sold for $70 in our country in the 21st century. How can this be?”

Well, at least here she’s only quoting, so someone else looks like a moron instead of poor Lorraine.  The pretense that “trafficking” (which is highly illegal) can be compared in any valid way with chattel slavery (which can only exist where there are laws and social structures to support it) is a common, if especially idiotic, claim of the “trafficking” fetishists, as is the use of novel definitions for the word “sold” which do not actually involve transfer of property.  But in this case, the apples-and-oranges comparison of the sale price of a chattel slave with some apparently-random sum of money (a streetwalker’s fee, perhaps?) is so deeply stupid it even confuses a high-school religion teacher.  But let’s move on to the next number in the pattern:

…Michalski and…other activists…want people to understand that human trafficking…is real and happens in New Jersey.

A flawless execution of the Profession of Faith!  And then she puts her own artistic touch on the classic “100,000 to 300,000 trafficked children” myth by attributing it to the Department of Homeland Security instead of the usual FBI or Department of Justice.  Estes & Weiner sure do work for a lot of government departments, don’t they?  And what “trafficking” masterpiece could be complete without a “King of the Hill” section?

…New Jersey is a big destination state for traffickers because of its ports and because…trains and buses leave from here and go all over the country.  There are three airports in the area.  Also, because of I-95, it’s very easy to move people through New Jersey and all the way down to Florida…

Trains and buses and airplanes!  And an interstate highway, even!  Why, no other place has those!  What were the madmen who laid out New Jersey thinking to allow so many dangerous things all in one locale?  Well, we know what they weren’t thinking of:  THE CHILDREN!!!!!

But wait, it gets worse:

There is a prevailing notion that human trafficking does not happen in Morris County because of its wealth, according to Maria Vinci-Savettiere…“The demographics don’t matter…Trafficking is happening here.”

One Profession of Faith per story is enough, Lorraine; your attempts to look more-credulous-than-thou are rather transparent.

“Our focus is on radically changing the way we view the issue,” said Beth Hyre, spokeswoman for the League [of Woman Voters]. “According to law enforcement, our children, our grandchildren, the children we teach, and the children we supervise and mentor are prime targets for traffickers.  Our complacency that the issue doesn’t directly affect us enables predators.”

Yes, Lorraine, we’ve got it.  People think that trafficking doesn’t happen in New Jersey, but it does, and every single child in the entire state should be kept away from cars, trains, buses, airplanes and football games.  You can stop repeating the same color now.

The public also is invited to stand for a maximum of nine hours Oct. 27 with Stand Against Human Trafficking, a gathering on the Morristown Green.  Each hour signifies 3 million people enslaved worldwide, according to organizer Yvette Long of the Morris County Human Relations Commission…

Are they going to sway back and forth singing “Kumbaya” as well?  Because I don’t think it’s possible to have a really effective lawn-standing session without singing “Kumbaya”.

The New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking…is planning a Super Bowl Hotel Outreach in September…“We’re asking hotel management to accept materials…set protocols, and train their staff to spot human trafficking,” said [Melanie] Gorelick, the group’s facilitator…“A lot of times it would be the janitors or the cleaning people who would see a victim…What if a person comes in through a back door? The front desk wouldn’t even see that person”…

bad dogBut wait, what about the bars of soap emblazoned with subtly huge red labels?  WHAT IF THE TRAFFICKERS ARE HIDING IN THE LAVATORY, MELANIE?  Without handy hotline numbers, how can they be stopped then?  Didn’t think of that, didja Miss Smarty-Pants?

Well, I think you get the picture; too bad most of those who read this story without my helpful annotations won’t.  Like most people who attempt painting by numbers without a modicum of skill, some rudimentary sense of proportion and at least a minimal level of judgment, the results are, to the educated viewer, not exactly what their creator intended.

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You seem to be unsympathetic to female sexual dysfunction.  In more than one survey two-thirds of women have reported some form of sexual dysfunction; if I were a woman I’d be mad as hell about that, and yet you (like many women) seem to have very little to say about it.  Is it some kind of mental block?  How can any woman not notice that male sexual dysfunction receives much more serious attention even though it is relatively rare compared to female sexual dysfunction?

An insanity expert at workWho defines “dysfunction”?  Are the numbers you speak of women who state they’re unhappy with their sex lives, or is it women whose responses fall into some category arbitrarily circumscribed by those who designed the survey?  If it’s the former you have a valid point, but if the latter I must remind you of what happens when we let academics define people’s experiences instead of listening to people’s own opinions about them.  When “authorities” set the parameters of “dysfunction” without regard to the perception of those they declare dysfunctional, the inevitable result is stuff like homosexuality being defined as a mental illness, transsexuality being considered a kind of delusion  and sex workers being classed as infantile victims who need to be “rescued” from our own decisions.  The belief that “authorities” have the sole right to determine which experiences and modes of behavior are “healthy” has led to what Thomas Szasz called the “therapeutic state”:

…normal behaviors have been…pathologized by quacks, hired guns and those whose professional ethics take a back seat to promoting an agenda.  Much of this involves uncommon or even rare disorders being misapplied to much larger groups, such as claims that sex workers commonly suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or that migrant workers who deny being passively “trafficked” do so because of Stockholm syndrome; fully 10% of American schoolboys are now being drugged daily because of quacks misdiagnosing their normal boyishness as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in order to please female teachers and single mothers who subscribe to “social construction of gender” and therefore refuse to accept that normal male behavior is innately different from normal female behavior…even beyond that, imaginary “disorders” are created to describe…normal human conduct which politicians find inconvenient or fanatics dislike; for example, the totally understandable resentment young people feel when they’re treated as “children”  (or spoiled younger kids’ predictable tantrums when they don’t get their own way) is now pathologized as “Oppositional Defiant Disorder”, and the normal male attraction to adolescent girls is both pathologized by many psychologists and wrongfully conflated with pedophilia in the public mind…

When it comes to female desire, it isn’t the state or some large social bloc which wants control; it is the medical industry, especially the pharmaceutical industry, which dreams happy dreams of a gold mine if female desire can be successfully (though often wrongfully) medicalized as male desire has been, and women can be convinced that the solution to normal or emotionally-driven losses of desire can (and should) be “cured” by popping a pill which the industry will oh-so-helpfully provide. painful sex A great deal of what is labeled “sexual dysfunction” in women has nothing to do with either body chemistry or socialization; many women who are perfectly functional under certain conditions or at certain times are not so in other circumstances, and it’s counterproductive and  absurd to seek solutions with drugs, testosterone patches or psychotherapy when the problem may actually be something as simple as exhaustion, stress or poor choice of sex partners.  But even setting those concerns aside, it’s spectacularly useless to define female sexual function in terms of male (which is how a great deal of it is defined nowadays); because it’s normal for men to feel randy all the time, the assumption is that if women don’t it’s “dysfunction”.  Poppycock.  I rarely feel anything like what men think of as normal lust, and I think that’s great; if I felt anything like the kind of near-constant desire men feel, I’d ask my gynecologist if there was anything we could do about it without ruining my looks.

If you want me (and a lot of other women) to get all “sympathetic” to the concept of “female dysfunction”, you’re going to need to do two things:  1) Define it in a way that reflects actual female experience instead of some pie-in-the-sky bullshit that would only benefit men (i.e. women as horny as men so y’all could get it for free much more often than you do); and 2) Do a lot better job of explaining why conforming to some one-size-fits-all textbook notion of “healthy” or “proper” sexual function is better than just being ourselves.  You say, “if I were a woman I’d be mad as hell about that”; no, you wouldn’t, because if you were a woman you would be a woman, not just a dude with a female body.  And as you yourself point out in the very next clause, most women don’t think it’s a big deal: men think it is, most especially men who stand to profit from convincing women that there’s something wrong with them that a less stressful life, more sexual knowledge and better communication with their partners couldn’t cure.

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When I stop loving her it will open the floodgates of resentment.
–  Owen Morris

tipsterEvery so often I’ll get an anonymous email out of the blue with a PDF or other such attachment, and some brief explanation of what it is I’m looking at; the sender is always careful to cover his identity, and in each case the account from which the correspondence originated is a temporary one which is deleted as soon as the source is sure that I’ve got what he sent and understand what it is.  It’s happened three times so far; the first two were in the summer of last year, and I shared the revelations they contained in the columns “Tangled Web” and “Show and Tell”.  But this time was different:  though the first two exposed hidden information on people I do not like, this time it involved someone I like very much.  At first, I had no idea what I was looking at; the sender was even more reticent than in the previous cases, and promised only that I would find the attachment “interesting”.  But as I scanned down the first page, the name “Brooke” leaped out at me and I realized I was reading an excerpt from the diary of Mr. George Owen Morris, ex-boyfriend of my friend Brooke Magnanti, who is currently suing her for libel and defamation of character.  A quick search for passages she has previously shared on her own blog (he gave her a copy of the diary in 2005) confirmed that this was indeed the same document.

Obviously, I was not about to publish the thing or even read any further (just what I had already seen on the first page felt uncomfortably like spying on her) without asking her how she felt about it; she replied “I’m a bit at a loss to explain how it came out, but I think if I trust anyone to comment on it, it’s you…When he gave it to me in 2005 it was specifically because he wanted me to read it, so it can hardly be considered ‘confidential’ now can it.”  I suspect my informant is someone inside some solicitor’s office, or perhaps at the Daily Mail (which has given Mr. Morris a platform for his bizarre allegations), but it hardly matters; what is important is the rather unflattering picture it paints of its author.  Now, there are a few important points to consider before we go any further.  First, I cannot be sure how much of the original text this represents; it is forty-six pages long and covers the period from late August to mid-December, 2004, but starts and ends so abruptly it seems likely to be a fragment of a longer work.  Second, the document was provided to me as a PDF composed of a series of what are obviously optical scans of typewritten or printed pages upon which the font changes a number of times; though Morris does make reference at one point to typing the diary, I do not actually know that all of the original was typed.  Furthermore, since I suspect most people are pretty careless about spelling and grammar in personal writing, I will correct any mistakes in the excerpts I include.  Third, though this was ostensibly a private diary, Morris apparently entertained plans to publish it or otherwise make the material known even while writing it, so everything must be viewed with that in mind.

I’ve uploaded the entire excerpt, so you can read it if you like; however, there are only a few points that I think are of major importance with regard to the ridiculous claims Morris makes in his lawsuit.  The first and most astonishing of these is the allegation that Brooke was never actually an escort, that she merely made it all up for her blog and books, and that he would “never knowingly sleep with a prostitute”.  But the diary makes it abundantly clear that not only was he knowingly sleeping with one (“she said that I would always think of her as a whore, I tried to tell her I didn’t but deep down was again upset by her escorting”), but that the thought was making him crazy enough to spy on her and actually go through her trash looking for used condoms:

Took her to work and came back to do the horrible check, still really surprised to feel so nervous and sick.  The two…condoms from the handbag were back in the box, I was so happy!  But I checked again and found that three of the ones that were in the box were gone.  Went to the rubbish and found one unopened one!??  What does this mean.  Missing condoms surely mean she is having johns but not if they are turning up opened.  On her table I found a bank slip dated the 28th.  It showed that a Jason had met her [and] paid her 400 pounds…

When he first made the incredible statements to the Mail at the beginning of August I was at a loss to understand what he might be thinking, but having read the diary I now realize that this might be the end result of a decade of rationalizations which were clearly well underway by the summer of 2004.  It is certainly possible that Morris eventually convinced himself of its truth just as “survivors” convince themselves of the verity of their outlandish tales, but it is equally possible that it is merely a poorly-considered plan for the revenge he admits to contemplating against her and another of her boyfriends:

I had got myself quite worked up over Brooke…and was thinking about when and how I would drop them both in it.  Not if, but when.  And I realized that the press turning up to see Nick could be quite a subtle revenge.  If he doesn’t realize she has written about him it could be quite a shock…

Another thing the diary makes clear is that the other major allegation of Morris’ suit – that his known association with an infamous harlot ruined his career and has somehow kept him from gainful employment since – is merely the latest and most extreme manifestation of a pattern of blaming Brooke for his troubles which permeates the diary.  Now, I am not by any means suggesting that Brooke was not partially to blame for the collapse of their relationship, but as the saying goes it takes two to tango; Morris repeatedly depicts himself as a blameless martyr under the spell of the “schizophrenic” and “autistic” Brooke, and as a virile, wise paladin sought by many women who could surely solve all of her problems if she would only give herself completely to him.  He also states, “she complains that I have no job when she herself lost me my previous two”, but does not explain how this was supposed to have occurred other than a later allusion to arguments on the phone  that he appears to have conducted without leaving the office.

I’m not sure what light his pronounced tendency for projection might shed upon the current proceedings; he repeatedly accuses her of jealousy, spying and refusing to accept responsibility for her own problems…while at the same time admitting to jealousy and spying and blaming her for all of his problems.  And then there are the hints at a violent temper:  “it was a dangerous game to play me off against Nick, people would get hurt” and “The fact that she began to double-lock the door for the first time…indicates…she really doesn’t know me; does she really think I couldn’t smash my way in?!

ledgerBut the most striking character flaw which the diary revealed to me was Morris’ disturbing tendency to keep a mental balance sheet in which he apparently kept track of not only how many favors each performed for the other, but how much money each spent.  Now, I understand that many younger people have been raised with the rather odd idea that women should pay equally or at least semi-equally in relationships, but this goes far beyond that; from the first page to the last disturbingly exact sums of money are mentioned over and over and over again, interspersed with much-too-descriptive accounts of the great sex he was getting from her for free even though (as we have established) he knew she was an escort.  And I can’t help but link this in my mind to the absurd sum for which he has asked in his suit…an amount which, incidentally, is larger than any ever awarded in a Scottish defamation case, ever.  I’m not sure what other claims Morris may decide to make as the case progresses over the coming months, but I’m glad my mystery correspondent has enabled me to ensure that a refutation of it from Morris’ own pen is readily available on a server residing outside the reach of Britain’s daffy libel laws.

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The danger of crippling thought, the danger of obstructing the formation of the public mind by specially suppressing…representations is far greater than any real danger…from such representations.  –  George Bernard Shaw

broken wingsThe last week of September is Banned Books Week, an occasion which interests me as a librarian, as a sex worker and as a steadfast supporter of individual liberty.  The urge to ban books is the urge to control thought, and the only way to control thought is to cripple it, to stunt its growth, to break its wings so badly it can no longer fly free.  Furthermore, the belief that the state or collective has the right to do this is an abomination; it is nothing less than the dogma that the state owns every individual, body and soul, and has the right to torture or maim those individuals as it pleases.  In last year’s “Thought Control” (which I urge you to read if you haven’t yet), I wrote:

…the urge to censor is a mental illness…In earlier times…people imagined “evil” as some sort of tangible thing that could affect everyone around it…though that sort of booga-booga nonsense would be laughed out of the conversation now if expressed directly, it still sells quite well as long as it’s expressed  indirectly by referring to unproven “negative secondary effects” or burbling inane and incomprehensible neofeminist drivel about how all women are as mystically interconnected as a hydra’s heads.  And of course…anything (no matter how repressive and totalitarian) can be sold to the Great Unwashed if it’s depicted as being intended to “protect” children, with “protect” in this case…[meaning] “lock into a permanent passive and vegetative state”.  Young people, we are told, can somehow be “harmed” by encountering ideas and concepts that they are “not ready for”, like the protagonist of an H.P. Lovecraft story driven mad by the blasphemous cosmic truths he discovers in some forbidden eldritch tome…

The stupidest part of this whole moronic belief system is that these “forbidden ideas” aren’t cosmic truths about man’s utter insignificance and the impending awakening of horrific multidimensional entities which regard us as nothing more than troublesome insects to be exterminated; hell, even I might be convinced that keeping that sort of knowledge from the easily-panicked masses would be a good idea.  No, these supposed threats to sanity and spiritual health, these books (and movies, and websites) which are so horribly dangerous that the amelioration of the peril they present justifies abrogating civil rights and choking off the air of free thought, these cognitive gorgons which will surely petrify any child (or, often, woman) who has the bad luck to encounter them due to insufficient censorship by their Wise and Benevolent Rulers…are nearly always about sex.  You know, the thing every macroscopic organism on Earth (and even some of the microscopic ones) already knows about.  The reason every creature reading this even exists in the first place.  The process that excessive ignorance of is incredibly more dangerous than knowledge of.

In our sad, sick and twisted society, the desire to suppress knowledge and images of sex is so powerful that those afflicted with it are willing to devote tremendous amounts of money and manpower in a futile quest to that end; they are willing to deny millions of women income and freedom, to expose all women to much greater chances of rape, to risk the death of their children from disease, and to cripple the greatest tool of communication ever devised.  This is not rational behavior; it is a mental illness, and for sane people to give in to the censors merely exacerbates their condition and locks all of us up into a vast Bedlam with them. The Interior of Bedlam by William Hogarth (1763)

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Mabon 2013

Behold congenial Autumn comes, the Sabbath of the Year. –  John Logan

Autumn EquinoxSo here we are again in autumn, my favorite season of the year; the sun’s apparent path will cross the celestial equator at 20:44 UTC, which is to say 3:44 PM on my clock.  But in a sense we’ve already been here for weeks; this year’s summer was mild and lazy, and could only bring herself to nearly-full strength twice, for the second week in July and the first full week of August.  By the second full week of August she was bored with the whole thing, and we’ve been enjoying warm (and a few hot) days and cool nights ever since.  Not that I’m complaining; as a true daughter of Autumn I am always happy to see her arrive and sorry to see her go, and as far as I’m concerned Mistress Summer is more than welcome to go off-duty as early as she likes every year for the rest of my days.  That’s even more true now that I’ve arrived in the autumn of my life; though I do enjoy the change of seasons as I always have, I’m also glad that the wheel seems to turn with increasing speed as I age and the time between blessed autumns seems to grow ever shorter with the passing years.

I wish all of my readers a happy Mabon; whatever your beliefs may be, may you receive the fruits of your labor and enjoy every success and happiness in your personal, sexual, emotional and professional lives.  Blessed Be!

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His behavior during imprisonment convinced the authorities that [he]…was no longer to be feared.  –  The New York Times, December 20th, 1924

This week’s videos need a little more explanation than usual.  The first, provided by Mike Siegel, is an extremely moving Thai television commercial based on an urban legend which proves once again that the best way to ensure people watch your ad is to make it interesting and memorable.  The second, via Brooke Magnanti, shows what happens when metronomes are placed on a movable surface so they can transfer kinetic energy to one another (trust me, it’s a lot more interesting than it sounds).  The links above the first video were provided by Radley Balko, and those between the two by my cat, Nun Ya, Jesse Walker, Aspasia, Mike Riggs, Franklin Harris, Popehat, Ally Fogg, Mistress Matisse and Dean Clark, in that order.

From the Archives

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