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Archive for the ‘Words’ Category

Good grief, reporters, please learn the difference between “size” and “length”.

Asteroid 2000 QW7 is set to pass Earth on September 14 according to research from Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS).  Asteroid 2000 QW7 is rather large, estimated to be 290 and 650 meters…making it the size of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world…Luckily, Asteroid 2000 QW7 is keeping its distance, only coming within 0.03564 astronomical units of Earth, which is approximately 3.3 million miles…

Burj Khalifa is very narrow in comparison to its height; an asteroid is not.  And while Burj Khalifa is mostly empty space, an asteroid is solid rock and/or metal.  Burj Khalifa masses a mere half a million tons; the asteroid mentioned in this story has a (very approximate) mass of 340 million tons.  In other words, O deeply scientifically-illiterate reporter, 2000 QW7 is not “the size of Burj Khalifa”; it is in fact well over 600 times its size.  For those who need a more concrete visualization:  The statement “2000 QW7 is the size of Burj Khalifa” is not-dissimilar in accuracy to the statement “A 2019 Honda Accord is the size of the bag of sugar in my cupboard.”

And yet I wonder how these same people can believe in 100,000 “sex trafficked children” being raped dozens of times a day.

Addendum, for those who care about such things:  I approximated the asteroid as a chondrite spheroid 600 m in diameter, small enough to be solid (unlike some small chondrite moons, which appear to have sizeable internal cavities); I approximated its density as 3 grams/cc.  I asked my astronomer friend Mike Siegel to check my numbers, and he came up with very similar ones (though he felt the official estimate of Burj Khalifa’s mass to be a bit high).

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People who define sex work as the selling of a body, or who say sex isn’t work, are telling you a lot about their own sex lives.  I mean, think about it; what does it say to you for a person to claim they believe sex consists of a woman lying passively in bed like a doll while a man “accesses her body cavities”?  What would you conclude about the sexual experiences of a person who claimed to believe that sex required no labor at all from the woman, but was simply done to her, with the man as the only active party in the transaction?  And yet, when I made this simple point last week, I was inundated with angry responses from prohibitionists trying to “explain” that I was wrong (and a misogynist, natch) because sex really does involve a woman lying there like a cadaver, with a man “masturbating into her orifices”.  I got similar responses from almost a score of prohibitionists, who thus boosted my tweets while amply proving my point over and over again (even after I suggested they stop digging).  Too bad the general public is just as ignorant as they are and are therefore unable to see through their embarrassing self-exposure as easily as those of us in the demimonde can. 

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I’ve noticed in the past year a dramatic increase in the number of politicians using the phrase “hold accountable”; it has become a moralistic shibboleth meaning something like “persecute using a moralistic excuse.”  The phrase appears to have crept into the greater government ecosystem by way of “sex trafficking” hysteria, considering it has been used by sociopaths pushing the Swedish model for quite a while now (“we have to starve & evict women in order to hold sex buyers accountable”, or however they would express that), and that most of the uses I saw prior to just a few months ago were in sex-related cases.  But recently, it exploded into more general use, with politicians of both major parties pompously bloviating about how they’re going to hold some person or entity “accountable”.  And that would be just dandy if they were talking about other politicians or their thugs and toadies, but they’re not; they’re using it to mean citizens and private companies.  In other words, politicians (the rulers) are calling for citizens (the ruled) to be “held accountable”.  This is some serious Looking-Glass thinking:  in a republic, politicians (and cops, and others with power) are “accountable” to the citizens, not vice versa.  Being prosecuted for a crime is NOT a matter of “accountability”; that’s not what the word means.  “Accountability” is that which is owed by someone claiming to represent another to the person he supposedly represents; eg, my lawyer is accountable to me in legal matters where he represents my interests.  We do not live in a feudal system (yet); “accountability” is not something imposed by rulers on the ruled, but on representatives by the people they (supposedly) represent.  Nobody who does not claim to be acting for “the government” or “the people” is “accountable” to any politician; they’re just trying to confuse you about who owes what to whom.

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A few days after the whole “thot audit” nonsense, another (though much smaller) silly season erupted on Twitter.  But while the former was comprised mostly of misogynist incel and PUA-type whore haters, the latter was comprised mostly of misogynistic married whore-haters who are seemingly terrified of the idea that their daughters might grow up to have pragmatic views about sex.  And while the “thot audit” yahoos proudly and openly advertised themselves as copsuckers and badge-lickers, the “Would you want your daughter to do it?” busybodies mostly claimed to have libertarian ideas about decriminalization and so pretended that their concern about sex work is that it’s “dangerous” and/or not “empowering”.  The hypocrisy of the “dangerous” argument is clearly revealed by the fact that these men don’t pontificate about how women shouldn’t join the cops or military; somehow danger is only an issue when sex is involved.  And nobody seems all too concerned about whether being a waitress, cashier, or manicurist is “empowering”; again, “empowerment” only magically becomes an issue when sex is involved.  The basic issue here is that busybodies with creepy sexual fantasies about women feel qualified to judge work they’ve never done and know nothing about on airy-fairy criteria like “empowerment”; this is why we have prohibition.  The only kind of “empowerment” that a job is required to provide is economic empowerment, in other words, the amount of economic power it provides relative to other jobs.  And despite the “pimp” and “slavery” masturbatory fantasies of prohibitionists, sex work compares very well indeed in comparison to other jobs which require no formal education, licensing, etc.  But that’s not the only problem with the concept of “empowerment”; as I wrote in “Politicizing the Personal” over 7 years ago:

…To “empower” someone is to grant her power; it automatically implies A) that she hasn’t got any in the first place, and B) that such power is the speaker’s to give.  Using the word in an active sense (“we need to empower women”) establishes the speaker or his organization as the intrinsic superior and benefactor of the person or persons so “empowered”, and using the word in a passive sense (“an empowered woman”) robs the person so “empowered” of agency, reducing her to the passive recipient of someone else’s benevolence just as people were imagined to be “granted” rights by a king in archaic political theory…

In short, merely bringing up the word in a discussion about women automatically places the speaker at a vantage point above the person he’s speaking about, like a scientist discussing some species of newt.  Nobody uses the word “empowered” when talking about men’s employment, and nobody should be using it to talk about women’s either.

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A phrase that means nothing isn’t a useful term for serious adults; it’s a fad for the immature and silly.  –  “Meaningless

Imagine if you will how a master mechanic might react if he saw you using a wrench to pound in nails, or stepping on the handle of a large screwdriver you were using as a pry bar.  If he were of an unusually calm disposition he might just watch you for a while, shaking his head, before making some comment like, “That might go faster if you used the right tool,” or “Would you like me to show you how to do that?”  And if he were both patient and wise he might let you injure yourself first before commenting, so that you’d be more likely to listen.  But if he were as high-strung as I am, he might quickly lose patience with you, push you out of the way and do the job properly (possibly after striking you repeatedly about the head and neck with the abused tool).  As I wrote in “Nasty Words”,

As a writer, words are my tools, and I cherish them and baby them the way a good mechanic cares for the tools of his trade.  And just as a good mechanic always uses the right tool for the job rather than trying to make do with whatever happens to be nearby, so I insist on using the right word…and just as some mechanics are annoyed by seeing others misuse or abuse their tools, so am I annoyed by the misuse or abuse of words…

That column was about the rampant misuse of the word “vagina” to mean not only any part of a woman’s sexual anatomy, but also as a vulgar substitute for non-anatomical uses of the slang word “pussy”.  I’ve also written about my distaste for the improperly-constructed and imprecisely-used term “homophobia” (which actually means “fear of sameness or monotony”; an attack or word has no feelings and therefore cannot be “phobic” of anything); my rejection of those who want to ban things hiding behind the prefix “pro-“; the powerful annoyance I have for the word “privilege” as it is commonly used today; my deep revulsion for the word “deserve” (“the visible part of an iceberg of moral odiousness floating unseen below the social waterline”); my intolerance for “fair” (both word and concept); and the complete meaninglessness of the faddish shibboleth “human trafficking”.  As you’ve probably guessed, today I’m going to unload both barrels on another such term, the meaningless tech buzzword “disrupt”.

First, let’s start with the actual definition of the word: to interrupt the normal progress of something by causing a disturbance or problem; or, to destroy something’s structure (as in “cellular disruption”).  If you consult a bunch of dictionaries you’ll discover that there is no positive usage of this word; it always refers to a destructive process.  Of course, that could be desirable if the thing one wants to disrupt is itself destructive or evil, such as a police operation or the schemes of a politician.  And yet somehow tech-worshipers of the sort who believe in “The Singularity” seem to have assigned a positive meaning to it, and believe that people will react positively when told that the techie wants to “disrupt their industry” (even though even Urban Dictionary admits that the term is a mere buzzword with no specific definition).  I recently blasted a reader who sent me an email hawking some website which claimed it was dedicated to “disrupting the oldest profession”, and while I realized later that he was merely forwarding the email rather than writing it, I have to marvel at the deep cluelessness of a marketing department in the modern US which fails to comprehend that no sex worker is going to react well to someone claiming they want to “disrupt” our profession at a time when the government and countless prohibitionist NGOs are working very hard at doing exactly that by censorship, persecution, surveillance, entrapment schemes, raids and other such tactics.  Attention, tech idiots: I know y’all don’t live in the real world, but sex workers are sick and tired of violent thugs and evil control freaks trying to disrupt our profession (and almost that sick and tired of clueless amateurs trying to “disrupt” it in the app-developer sense).  Here’s some free marketing advice:  When trying to market your product to adults, it’s probably best to avoid adolescent slang, and when marketing to people outside your little circle-jerk it’s probably best to avoid jargon that’s going to sound negative to normal people.  Words mean things, and you’ll avoid offending potential clients if you remember that.

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It never surprises me when some new expression like “big dick energy” surfaces, because men all over the world are obsessed with their penises and wont to ascribe magical powers to them.  And I don’t just mean stupid, brutish men either; even reasonably intelligent, sophisticated men seem to believe deep down that their phalluses are mighty weapons which contain their “manhood” and have the ability to damage women’s bodies and destroy our souls.  And because the great majority of men believe in this idiocy, it’s unsurprising that many women do as well.

Take the myth that a lot of sex causes vaginal looseness, for example; barely a month passes that some lackwit advertises his deep insecurity online with a post or tweet claiming that whores, sluts and other “loose women” (see that word?) eventually develop extra-roomy vaginas due to frequent sex.  Of course, this is completely idiotic; the vaginal walls are made of muscle, and when muscles are exercised they grow stronger, not flabbier.  Furthermore, the dudes who believe in this silly myth seem to imagine that only penetration by different penises can cause this supposed loosening; frequent sex with the same penis causes no such damage, presumably because of some kind of mystical key-like effect.  Well-meaning guys worry that their penises might hurt a woman, and even some MDs who should obviously know better have wasted their valuable time experimenting on sex worker volunteers to develop a therapy to “restore tone” to vaginal muscles.  Well, I hate to break this to y’all, but no matter how big you think your cock is, it’s NOT AS BIG AS A BABY’S HEAD.  It’s not a large amount of sex (with one penis, multiple penises, scads of different penises or even a sex-toy-store’s worth of dildoes) which causes a woman to loosen; it’s complications of childbirth.  And if a woman has never had a baby, the only other thing that can affect tightness of those muscles is learning to relax.  Most virgins aren’t somewhat tighter than experienced women because their muscles aren’t yet “worn out” (which is not a thing); they’re tighter because they’re nervous or scared from all the talk about how much it’s going to hurt, or because they’ve been conditioned that “good girls” don’t do that.  And once they learn to relax they revert to their normal level of tightness.  It’s not due to “stretching” or “overuse”; it’s due to getting over fear of the Dangerous Dick, and if a woman you’re fucking is too loose for you, it’s not because her pussy is too big; it’s because your dick is too small.

If this were the only silly myth about the destructive power of the Almighty Phallus, we could just laugh it off and mock the dudes who absurdly advertise their deep ignorance by attempting to lecture women on Twitter about the havoc wrought on their twats by daring to admit more than one dong in a lifetime.  But there’s a much more dangerous notion, based in the idea that penises ejaculate ectoplasm in addition to semen, and can therefore damage women’s souls:

The dominant cultural narrative is that both men and women can get over just about any personal tragedy – financial ruin, the loss of a limb or a loved one, persecution by governmental authorities, etc – except rape, which if it doesn’t leave a woman a psychological wreck is supposed to at least cast a dark pall over the rest of her life…this [misogynistic] doctrine…portrays the penis as some sort of semi-divine instrument capable of destroying a helpless woman’s entire life at the whim of the man to whom it is attached… this absurd mythology…is so pervasive…that a rape victim who fails to behave according to the approved script may not be believed…

Really, guys; come in out of the Bronze Age.  I understand that y’all get a lot of pleasure from your cocks, and that y’all only have enough blood to run one head at a time.  But the big one gives you the power to understand that however much you may enjoy the little one, it’s just a boneless organ, not a magic sword.

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Where does the phrase “turning tricks” come from? Is there any connection here to magicians pulling rabbits out of hats, or the proverbial bag of tricks?

Savannah Sly asked me his question on Twitter, and I replied that I think it’s most likely from cards. In card games like rummy, a “trick” is one hand, and to “win the trick” or “turn the trick” is to win that single hand, though not necessarily the whole game.  So I strongly suspect “to turn a trick” is closely related to the general “that did the trick”, meaning “that thing just accomplished what I was trying to do in the moment”.  Turning a “trick” in sex work, getting one gig, is like winning one hand in a very long game of cards.

After I’d given this answer, a reader chimed in with this link wherein a non-whore attempts to trace the origin to the French triquer, due to a slang usage meaning “to fuck in a bestial fashion”.  My sense is that this is a false cognate; it’s not unusual for languages to have words which resemble those in other languages, but have nothing to do with them either etymologically or semantically.  For example, the German word gift means “poison”, but the French poisson means “fish”.  The thread following the original attempt at derivation is quite interesting in that it’s made up of a bunch of men trying to trace the meaning of a word used by women to the client side of the equation, when obviously that’s silly.  I’m often fascinated by amateurs’ attempts to explain the demimonde when they know nothing about it, as exemplified by the one dude who attempts to derive it from 19th century criminal slang by claiming that street whores working with robbers was once “common”; of course it was nothing of the kind, as reflected in the fact that there are a number of historical slang terms for such women to differentiate them from honest whores.  Obviously, even professional lexicographers cannot be certain of the derivation of a word, but given the origin of the term in the US of the early 20th century, I think my hypothesis a much stronger one than either the “French” or “criminal” hypotheses.

(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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It’s time to set aside childish things, and start dealing with one another like grownups.  –  “Childish Things

A friend of my family’s once said, “Maggie was born adult.”  Just about everyone who knew me (with the exception of my mother) felt that way to one degree or another, and I can remember being frustrated with what I perceived as childishness in the greater world from a very young age.  For example, I can remember being extremely annoyed with commercials during kid-TV programming (such as Saturday morning cartoons) claiming that some mundane task like tooth-brushing needed to be “fun”.  Even at that tender age, I understood that it wasn’t necessary for every single thing in the world to be “fun”; some things just need to be done whether they’re “fun” or not.  I had a similar reaction to the “condoms are sexy” campaign of the ’80s:  No, condoms are not sexy; in fact, they’re really kind of nasty.  But until something better comes along, they are necessary whether they’re “sexy” or “fun” or not, and anyone who would eschew a reliable protection against contagious disease because it isn’t “sexy” is a childish imbecile and a danger to himself and others (see also “consent is sexy“).

There are a number of similarly-idiotic words used to influence the intellectually immature, and I despise all of them.  The odious word “deserve” is used to sell luxuries and deny basic human rights; “privilege” is used to subtly excuse and shift the blame for tyranny; “fairness” is used as an excuse for entitlement; “love” is reduced to the temporary neurochemical derangement we wrongly call “romantic love”, and represented as the only valid reason for sex or marriage (when actually it’s just about the worst reason for engaging in either); and prohibitionists use moronic phrases like “selling their bodies“, “the commodification of sex is sad“, and “no little girl dreams of growing up to be a prostitute” as excuses for inflicting violence on adults for engaging in consensual sex.  “Dreams”.  Seriously.  And yet these people, who actually believe the fantasies of undeveloped minds should be given the same weight as actual facts in adult discussions, are not only treated as grown adults, but actually deferred to as though this pablum constituted valid logical argument.  See also “follow your dreams”, possibly the most inane, naive, and – dare I say it? – privileged bit of non-advice ever to adorn a bumper sticker, right alongside such wisdom of the ages as “Baby on Board” and “Virginia is for lovers”.  But it doesn’t stop there, oh no; as I wrote in “Childish Things“,

Worse and more foolish still is the belief that a nonhuman thing, either material or immaterial, can be “bad”…too many [people]…imagine that plant matter or technological devices can be intrinsically evil; that certain words or images can be literally harmful…that the mere action of taking a photograph of a naked person…is intrinsically inimical; that certain forms of human interaction can mystically harm the participants even if they freely choose to engage in the activity and suffer no physical damage; that magical vestments or talismans can grant power over other people or absolve the wearer of moral culpability for his actions; that official pronouncements from anointed leaders can make things vanish; and even that being given a spell-scroll of one variety can make a “dangerous” action into a beneficial one, while being given a different kind of rune-inscribed parchment can make an innocuous action evil…

All this arrant, primitive stupidity make me want to vomit.  Human beings have the right to control our own bodies & lives regardless of motive, whether anybody “loves” or “dreams” or “deserves” whatever, or whether or not our actions are “fun” for us or anyone else.

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When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.  –  Maya Angelou

Prohibitionists like to call themselves “abolitionists”, a racist and self-aggrandizing reference to those who worked to abolish slavery.  And while I won’t give them that dignity, let’s look at the word for a moment:  they want to be known as people who want to “abolish” something.  They like to pretend that “something” is a form of “slavery”, but nobody but the most stupid, ignorant or delusional actually believes that sex work is a form of slavery; they themselves don’t even believe it, as revealed in some of their own internal documents: “Framing the Campaign’s key target as sexual slavery might garner more support and less resistance, while framing the Campaign as combating prostitution may be less likely to mobilize similar levels of support and to stimulate stronger opposition.”  That’s from Swanee Hunt’s organization, the same organization that pays off cops & DA offices in a dozen large cities to mouth Hunt’s anti-client rhetoric while conducting operations that target both clients and sex workers.  Lauren Hersh, mouthpiece for prohibitionist group Equality Now, is a former prosecutor forced to resign in disgrace when she was caught railroading two innocent black men for rape; do you think her tactics for attacking sex work are any more honest?  As attorney general of California, Kamala Harris actually argued that her state needed to keep people in prison to use them as slaves; in October 2016 she committed the blatantly criminal act of arresting publishers on false charges, though she had previously admitted in a letter to the US Congress that she knew she had no authority to do so, and that the men had committed no crime under US law.  In hearings for the Swedish model in both Canada and Northern Ireland, several politicians admitted on the record that they knew the laws would harm sex workers, and they were fine with that; the Swedish government’s own report on their eponymous “model” stated quite clearly that “negative effects of the [sex purchase] ban…must be viewed as positive from the perspective that the purpose of the law is…to combat prostitution“…in other words, “it’s a good thing that those dirty whores are dying, because omelettes and eggs and all.”

Over and over and over again, we can see that soi-disant “abolitionists” are perfectly willing to lie; to consign innocent people to the brutality of arrest, prison and even actual slavery; to break both laws and their own solemn oaths; and to sign the death warrants of women they profess to want to “save”…all in the name of “abolishing” consensual adult sex that they willfully, intentionally and knowingly misrepresent as something evil because they either dislike it or recognize it as an easy path to vengeance or political power.

These people have shown you who they are, quite clearly; do you believe them?

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I’m really, really sick of deeply-stupid internet commenters using the word “libertarian” to mean “Republican”, “Nazi”, “plutocrat”, “Monsanto” or other bogeyman.  Now, I obviously have no problem with anyone using rhetoric to attack one’s opponents, and the “your life belongs to almighty ‘Society’ and ‘rightful authorities’ have the right to use violence to compel your obedience” crowd are obviously going to be opposed to any philosophy which embraces self-ownership and rejects collectivized violence.  Furthermore, libertarians only have themselves to blame for this; after all, the entire movement is based in the recognition that nobody can be trusted with power, and yet libertarians allowed racists, dissident Republicans and other malign filth to apply the term to themselves after Obama’s election ten years ago, when they should’ve shut that shit down immediately to avoid guilt by association from collectivist nitwits.  Moreover, as I wrote in “To the Ground” over three years ago,

…I only call myself a libertarian because it’s the only popular term which has some general resemblance to the way I see the world.  Technically, what I am is a minarchist, someone who is to an anarchist what an agnostic is to an atheist; I’m also more or less an agorist.  But use either of those terms to most people, even to many libertarians, and you’ll be greeted with blank stares…For most uses, “libertarian” is good enough, though it means that I have to endure opprobrium from semi-literates who…seem to believe that “libertarian” means “caricature of a fundie plutocrat” or even “whatever I don’t like”…

Well, I’m exercising a woman’s prerogative and changing my mind.  Though I’m still friendly with many people who use the term “libertarian”, the same holds true for the term “feminist”…and for me, both terms are polluted beyond reclamation by the behavior of bad actors and the one-dimensional thinking of authoritarians.  While I’m still going to describe myself as a minarchist or anarchist, when I want a more general term I’m going back to the traditional one for the philosophy opposed to authoritarianism: “liberal”.  At least until the American Civil War, the term “liberal” meant more or less what is now properly meant by “libertarian”:  the belief that each individual owns himself and no other, that fundamental liberties are inalienable, that differences between individuals should be tolerated and even embraced, and that large collectives (especially governments) are to be distrusted and controlled.  It’s the sense in which George Washington was using the word when he wrote, “As Mankind becomes more liberal, they will be more apt to allow that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the protections of civil government.”  At some point in the late 19th century, people largely abandoned those old liberal ideals, and though there were people calling themselves liberals for most of the 20th century, they were actually progressives still clinging to a few liberal points (but willing to compromise on even those in order to establish their social engineering schemes and/or “beat” their so-called “conservative” opponents).  Then, less than a generation ago, the term “liberal” was unceremoniously dumped as the progressives finally embraced being just a different flavor of authoritarian, one committed to licking the boots of “experts” while their opponents preferred to lick those of preachers (and both loudly proclaim their love for cops and caging people by the millions).  Well, if they’re not going to use a proud old term (whose memory they insulted by misusing it for a century anyway), I’m going to.  And if people are confused by that, good; maybe they’ll ask what I mean instead of ignorantly imposing their weird wanking fantasies onto me like the “sex trafficking” fetishists do.

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