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Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category

Anti-sex, pro-censorship gangs want to be called “abolitionist” because it lets them pretend their racist schemes are a continuation of the 19th-century campaign against chattel slavery.  But in actuality, they are a continuation of the 19th-century campaign to harass, spy upon, inflict state violence upon, and generally destroy the lives of people who did things the prohibitionists (whose movement was rooted in US evangelical Protestantism) disapproved of, such as alcohol, extramarital sex of any kind (including masturbation, homosexuality, and sexual imagery), abortion, interracial fraternization, etc, etc.  Only the most deranged of this warped cult of busybodies actually believe they can “abolish” human nature; what most of them really want is a permanent government-backed war on human nature, AKA Prohibition.  Prohibitionists not only live in a fantasy world, but demand that the rest of us live in it with them.  And they want the state to restrict the liberties of those they fantasize about, and enact violence on those who refuse to pretend their fantasies are real.  Supporters of Prohibition are properly called Prohibitionists, not “abolitionists”.  Words mean things; call prohibitionists what they are, not what they pretend to be.

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While we’re waiting for the rain to slack off enough to do some more work on the bathhouse, here are some of my recent Twitter musings:

 

 

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I thought y’all might enjoy this Twitter conversation I recently had, primarily with Matisse and Carol Leigh; it touches on a number of themes that recur frequently in my work.  Twitter conversations tend to branch, but I think I’ve managed to gather the main elements I want to share.

 

 

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How is it that the US mass media can simultaneously fret about the fraction of people who are obese, and proclaim foods or activities that promote a lower body mass to be “healthy”, yet simultaneously claim that, for women at least, obesity is “healthy”?  It’s because the word “healthy” is not, and has not been for decades, a semantically neutral one.  “Healthy” is one of the modern signifiers of moral purity, and “unhealthy” = “sinful” (as openly proclaimed on the packaging of both “decadent” and “guilt-free” desserts).  So even though obesity is objectively sub-optimal for “wellness” by medical standards, using that word in front of the Great Unwashed signifies a moral judgment on the overweight person.  In order to conform to the current rules of “wokeness”, media must proclaim that obesity is “healthy” when what they actually mean is, “Obese people are not lesser humans, and it isn’t your job to shame them for being fat.  It’s their business, not yours”.  In the popular media, “wellness” isn’t an objective word but a declaration of moral fitness, a judgement on a person’s character.  It would certainly be a lot better for society as a whole to stop pretending that illness is due to divine retribution for an “unhealthy” (read: sinful) “lifestyle” (a word long used by crypto-moralists to judge others, especially queers and sex workers).  But given the considerable energy US culture has invested in that myth (cf preachers who blame hurricanes on same-sex marriage, and busybodies who cast shame on, or even call the cops on, people for visiting their friends against politicians’ “orders”), that’s unlikely to happen anytime before the collapse of the Empire.

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Out of Touch

Most people who know me, friend and foe alike, are impressed or even intimidated by my encyclopedic memory.  And though I do indeed seem to have more memory space and better recall than most, I honestly think the apparent effect is boosted by my not devoting much memory space to popular ephemera.  No, that’s not strong enough; it’s more truthful to say that I’m astonishingly ignorant of popular culture, at least of the past four decades.   As I’ve often said, I stopped watching network television in 1980, and truth be told I was losing interest in it for several years before that, so I never watched a lot of the ’70s fluff such as The Love Boat that my younger siblings enjoyed.  For the next two decades I watched PBS and a few cable or independent stations, and by the turn of the century I had mostly stopped watching that, too.  Furthermore, I disliked TV news from time I was old enough to form an opinion about it (11 or 12 maybe?) and have only ever got my news from text sources.  Once I started being able to afford my own entertainment equipment in the mid-’80s, it was rare that I just turned on media (for “background noise”) that I wasn’t actively consuming; that’s probably largely due to my ADD, which makes it difficult to impossible to concentrate on reading or writing unless the room is fairly quiet.

The result of all this is, a lot of names and terms and phrases, etc, which most people would recognize might as well be drawn from medieval Chinese textbooks as far as I’m concerned.  Earlier this year I made a series of self-deprecating jokes on Twitter about my inability to recognize the various names associated with the various Trump administration scandals: “Lindsey Graham…wasn’t he in an ’80s sitcom?” or “Why are people complaining about Stephen Miller?  His music isn’t that bad.”  “Ooh, I know Mnuchin; that’s one of the little people in The Wizard of Oz!” and so on.  Last week, one of my gents texted me with something about bubbles and surges which I figured probably had more to do with COVID than with soup-making, but I wasn’t totally sure.  And in response to my query, an online friend said I was probably better off not knowing why Trumpaloons were making what appeared to be references to Ray Harryhausen’s last movie.  I suspect it does give me a bit of an “absent-minded professor” vibe, but c’est la vie; judging by the distress a lot of the stuff I don’t know seems to cause people, I think I’m better off keeping my head filled with facts, names, and even trivia that are important to me rather than letting all and sundry strew whatever rubbish they have on hand all over my mental front yard.

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Every so often I like to present a short collection of tweets that you didn’t see unless you follow me on Twitter.  If you enjoy them, you may wish to rectify that situation.

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 [A Biden victory] is not a victory for sex workers.  –  Penelope Saunders

A False Dichotomy 

Cathy Reisenwitz on the dogma that sex without “enthusiastic consent” is rape:

…most of our choices in life…[a]re not straightforwardly coercive or cooperative, but somewhere in-between…This leads me to the inevitable conclusion that consent versus coercion isn’t a binary.  It’s a spectrum…On one end of the spectrum you have slavery and rape.  On the opposite end you have enthusiastic consent.  But most choices fall somewhere in the middle…When we say we are “forced” to make a choice, we mean that there’s no acceptable alternative.  We say we’ve been forced to do something if the alternative is death or jail.  When we say we’re “pressured” to make a choice, what we mean is there’s no appealing alternative.  We say we’ve been pressured to do something if the alternative is unpleasant or inconvenient.  The difference then between force and pressure is a difference of scope, not kind.  They’re both coercion, but are different levels of coercion…

Don’t Take My Word For It (#873)

While it’s not surprising to see male sex work increase during the pandemic, I’m extremely skeptical of claims, such as those in this story, that the clients are predominantly female.  Anti-queer stigma is much higher in India than in the US, so naturally male sex workers there are going to claim – as some did for decades in the US – that most of their clients are female in order to save face.  But as usual, the claims in this story don’t ring true, and the quotes from the interviewees only serve to underscore that.

Pyrrhic Victory (#992) 

Seattle cops have a positive fetish for illegal surveillance:

…a…Seattle Police…detective…signed up for and used facial recognition app Clearview AI, which…i[s a] violation of the City of Seattle’s Surveillance Ordinance…Nick Kartes…signed up for Clearview in September 2019 using his “@seattle.gov” work email address…he logged into the service over 30 times, as recently as April 22…the devices used to log into Detective Kartes’ account were connected to the City of Seattle network…This follows an established pattern, highlighted this summer, where Seattle police regularly flaunt the law…

But don’t worry, toothless local laws will definitely stop this!

Panopticon (#993)

Amazon’s fascist collaboration with cops just keeps getting worse:

…While people buy Ring cameras and put them on their front door to keep their packages safe, police use them to build comprehensive CCTV camera networks blanketing whole neighborhoods.  This…allows police departments to [shift] the cost of buying surveillance equipment…onto consumers by convincing them they need cameras to keep their property safe…[and] evades the natural reaction of fear and distrust that many people would have if they learned police were putting up dozens of cameras on their block…Now…police in Jackson, Mississippi, have started a pilot program t[o convince]…Ring owners to patch the camera streams from their front doors directly to…police…footage [of] your…coming and going…your neighbors taking out the trash, and the dog walkers and delivery people who do their jobs in your street…can now be live streamed directly onto a dozen monitors scrutinized by police around the clock.  Even if you refuse to allow your footage to be used that way, your neighbor’s camera pointed at your house may still be transmitting directly to the police[, plus all cops need do is ask and Amazon will grant warrantless access to your camera without your consent]…


The Pro-Rape Coalition (#1033) 

Censors’ fixation on Pornhub spreads to Thailand:

Thailand’s government said…it had banned Pornhub and 190 other websites showing pornography, prompting social media anger over censorship…many Thai users trended the #SavePornhub hashtag on Twitter and criticised the shutting of a site in a country…which has a globally-known sex industry…A few dozen activists protested the block outside the digital ministry, holding banners saying “free Pornhub” and “reclaim Pornhub”…Internet research firm Top10VPN said it saw a spike in searches from Thailand for Virtual Private Networks (VPN), which help circumvent censorship, by 640%…after Pornhub was [censored]…

And India:

The Cyber Police agency of the Indian state of Maharashtra — the region that includes populous Mumbai — has formally accused several platforms of “transmitting sexually explicit and obscene content online”…[the sites include] Xvideos and Pornhub.  Inspector General of Police Yashasvi Yadav [made furtive movements in his pants while sharing his fantasy that]…”the actresses in these videos have been exploited, lured or compelled to perform the obscene acts. We will be treating the actresses as ‘victims’ and not ‘accused persons’”…

To Molest and Rape (#1048)

Since costumed rapists are essentially immune to criminal law, civil law has to do:

A new lawsuit [has been] filed against [typical and representative] Louisville [cop] Brett Hankison…a…sexual predator…who…[has] willfully, intentionally, painfully and violently…[raped at least 10 women over the years and achieved recent notoriety for the murder] of…Breonna Taylor…LMPD has…fired Hankison for his role in the [murder, but ignored all the rape complaints]…nine o[f the] women who…Hankison [raped have made statements in the lawsuit, filed by Margo Borders, a lawyer he raped in 2018]…

(State) Violence Against Women

Two hardline prohibitionists at the top do not bode well for sex workers:

…Phoenix Calida…[of] SWOP-USA…says of a Biden win, “I see things getting worse for sex workers, actually.”  Calida’s assessment is due in part to Biden’s sponsorship of the 1994 crime bill…“‘Tough on crime,’ which Biden has really promoted his entire career, is really not helpful at all to sex workers…Biden is like, ‘Let’s not defund the police, let’s give them more money!’”  Advocates’ concerns around…Kamala Harris, are both more numerous and concrete.  “You couldn’t get a candidate with a worse record on sex work,” says [Penelope] Saunders of [Best Practices Policy Project].  In 2008, Harris called San Francisco’s Proposition K—an attempt at halting the enforcement of laws against prostitution—“completely ridiculous.”  Harris also infamously pursued the shutdown of Backpage and the prosecution of the site’s owners despite warnings that shuttering the site would put sex workers in greater danger and make it harder to investigate sex trafficking cases. (It did.)  She also helped develop the devastating SESTA/FOSTA, specifically as a means of targeting Backpage…[and supports]…the EARN IT Act, a bill…which threatens sex workers’ ability to use encrypted messaging services…as well as free speech online…opponents of the bill…are calling it “SESTA/FOSTA 2.0.”…

Elephant in the Parlor (#1078)

Compare the ugly, racist, agency-negating whore stigma used by Democrats in this article to attack someone closely associated with Trump, to the ugly, racist, agency-negating whore stigma used by Republicans just a month earlier to attack someone closely associated with Biden, and then tell me again how they’re so different and why sex workers should trust either pack of fanatics:  “President Trump’s top campaign strategist, Jason Miller…admitted to hiring prostitutes and receiving sexual favors at multiple ‘Asian themed’ massage parlors, an industry known to have connections to sex trafficking rings…”  “Progressives” want sex workers to believe they’re on our side, but they go straight for the anti-whore slurs the second they think it will win them cheap points on the “other team”.

Social Distancing (#1084)

Prohibitionists don’t care who has to suffer to advance their twisted agenda:

India’s sex workers suffered a setback…following a U-turn by the country’s human rights body, which said [sex workers] should not be registered as workers or guaranteed financial aid from the government amid the fallout of COVID-19.  The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) last month asked state governments to recognise sex workers as informal workers, which would have entitled them to benefits and aid from a $23 billion fund for India’s poor during the coronavirus pandemic…the watchdog’s non-binding advisory was hailed by [human rights experts]… as a boon for the rights of an estimated 800,000 sex workers across India, [but prohibitionists, led by the evil and deeply-derangd Sunitha Krishnan, worked to intimidate the commission by issuing veiled threats of expensive and troublesome legal complaints based in bad “]sex trafficking[” laws.  In response to these threats]…The NHRC…issued a new statement that said sex workers could not be registered officially or categorised as informal workers….[but] should instead be given help on “humanitarian grounds” during the pandemic…

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Though I’ve been a Trekkie since childhood, I had never seen all of Deep Space Nine until recently.  The reason is simple: the series premiered in January 1993 and was midway through its third season when my first husband left me without warning.  My life was thrown into turmoil and it took two years for me to get it straight again, during which time money was much too tight for the relative extravagance of cable TV.  So though I saw all of the first two seasons, half of the third, and occasional episodes (at friends’ houses or via borrowed videocassettes) of the fourth and fifth seasons, I got rather lost due to the complex story arcs and decided not to see any more individual episodes until I could rewatch the whole show from the beginning.  I gave Grace the complete series on DVD for Christmas about a decade ago, but still never got around to viewing it until this year, after I moved to Sunset as my primary residence.  As I watched, I soon found that I agree with many reviewers’ opinion that the series is the best of all the Star Trek sequel series; though it was a direct spinoff of The Next Generation I find it very much superior to its parent, not only because of its greater consistency, better writing, and relief from the pressure of being THE Star Trek show of it decade, but also because it discarded the moral oversimplification which (unfortunately) permeates most of The Next Generation in favor of a universe full of greys in which few characters were either moral paragons or cardboard villains.

This realistic portrayal of the ethical tangle that is real life was on full display in a 6th-season episode we watched a couple of weeks ago, “Wrongs Darker Than Death or Night“.  In it, Major Kira Nerys discovers that her mother, whom she believed to have died in a concentration camp during her planet’s half-century-long occupation by the militaristic Cardassians, actually survived for seven years after the very young Nerys had last seen her…as a “comfort woman” claimed by the Cardassian governor, Gul Dukat.  At first, Kira (who started the series as a morally rigid, almost puritanical character, and only slowly grew to accept that real life rarely resembles such abstractions) refuses to believe that her sainted mother could have been guilty of collaboration horizontale, then as she explores the truth (with the help of a mysterious alien device which grants her visions of the past), she instead becomes terribly angry with her mother for literally sleeping with the enemy.  But as the vision goes on, she realizes that her mother’s position as the governor’s mistress not only resulted in better living conditions for herself, but also for her husband and children, who might otherwise have died in a labor camp.  By the end of the episode she has not forgiven her mother, but has come to accept that she did what she thought best for her family, just as Nerys herself had to make hard choices (including becoming a terrorist) in her own struggle to survive the occupation.

The episode is not a highly rated one; perhaps the topic is too uncomfortable for many viewers, especially in these neo-Victorian times.  But as a sex worker and hard-nosed pragmatist, I deeply appreciated the show’s willingness to recognize that sex work, even under duress, can almost never be fit into a pat narrative of villain and victim, and its repeated depiction (in this episode and many others) of war as a filthy business from which nobody emerges entirely clean.

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Regular readers know that every Friday the Thirteenth, I ask those who aren’t sex workers to stand up for us.  If you’re one of them, you already know the sorts of things I’m going to say; if you aren’t, you can simply go back and read the essay for the previous occurence in March. and the one before that from last December.  But since the US has just seen two unrepentant prohibitionist authoritarians elected to the presidency and vice-presidency – the latter of which founded her national-level political career on censoring sex workers’ advertising and demonizing those who provide our advertising platforms  –  your support is now more important than ever.  If you generally support the “red hat” crew, I don’t need to give you extra reasons to oppose the new regime’s policies; if you generally support the “blue hat” crew, you probably don’t need my urging to oppose policies that give cops more money, power, and excuses to lock people in cages for consensual sex; and if you recognize that the two crews don’t differ by much other than the color of their hats, you’re probably already opposed to the abominable concept that peaceful, consensual acts of any kind can be crimes.  Most of the recent pack of Democratic presidential wannabees, including the new vice-president elect, pretended to accept the need for deciminalization of sex work (even though they really support Swedish criminalization); over 50% of Americans support true decriminalization, and the same elections which resulted in a new president also resulted in a wave of drug decriminalizations and legalizations in many states.  Governments sending brutal thugs to inflict violence upon those who enjoy themselves in ways their overlords dislike is less popular in this country than it has been in a century, so now is the time to push even harder to chip away as much of the edifice of prohibition as possible before the pendulum inevitably begins to swing the other way again.

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So it looks as though another wave of COVID is starting, and with it another wave of bargain-basement Canutes making arbitrary declarations about the value of individual human lives and pretending human rights are a luxury.  As I wrote back in May, my problem with “lockdowns” and other abridgements of liberty is, was, and always will be megalomaniacal politicians setting themselves up like Jehovah at the Last Judgment, proclaiming that this person is “essential” and that one “nonessential”.  The only really “nonessential” jobs are politician, bureaucrat, and cop, and a disproportionate number of the people declared “nonessential” by these control freaks are women and ethnic minorities; funny that.  And yet all the bootlickers choose to characterize concerns for service providers’ livelihoods as “white women bitching because they can’t get a haircut”.  It’s vile.  Some have said the rulers should close down everything that isn’t necessary to “keep people fed”, but that is still a bullshit standard; humans need things other than food, and such arbitrary rules are what lead supermarkets to rope off “nonessential” sections as they did in Michigan and the UK.  Establish objective criteria (occupancy and spacing, etc) or do nothing at all; anything else is discrimination.  Discrimination on the basis of profession is just as wrong as on the basis of race, sex, etc, and there is no clause in the Constitution that says equality under the law can be suspended when it’s politically inconvenient.

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