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Posts Tagged ‘activism’

Twenty-one years ago today, on January 2nd, 2000, I started escorting full-time; now today I’m officially semi-retiring.  I had originally hoped this day would come much sooner, but life happened and financial disasters befell me, and it wasn’t until two years ago that I realized the time had finally come to scale back my professional life.  When I first went full-time I had already been doing various kinds of sex work (compensated dating, sugaring, stripping, etc) on and off for fifteen years, and after today I’ll still be seeing my regular clients (and other gents who have seen me at least once before) and a very few who come recommended by friends.  Even during the past 21 years I’ve done several different kinds of work (agency escorting, bachelor parties, running my own agency, independent escorting, and even a long-term exclusive gig).  So, this isn’t a simple, linear matter of retirement as it is in straight jobs, and yet it does feel like an ending.  I’m no longer using traditional advertising, no longer allowing myself to be solicited via text message by marginally-literate cretins, no longer screening so as to avoid said cretins (not to mention violent costumed rapists), and no longer seeing anyone without planning days or weeks in advance.  This doesn’t mean I’m cutting back on activism just yet; I plan to keep writing regularly for a while, and doing public appearances when those become a thing again, and in fact I may possibly have more time and energy for such activities now.  But even in that department, things have changed; when I first became an activist there weren’t all that many of us in the US, and now I’m glad to say there are thousands.  So all in all, I feel like it’s time to put away my dancing shoes, and settle into my role as an “elder stateswoman” of the demimonde, leaving the field of action to my much younger sisters…including those who weren’t even born yet when I started.

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Things may get a lot worse before they get better.  –  “NYE 2018

It has been nine years since I first predicted how the “sex trafficking” mythology would implode, and though I was correct in general I underestimated how hard the government and fascist profiteers would work to extend it, resulting in my prediction being too optimistic by about three or four years.  Government funding for anti-sex hate groups is still flowing like a river of toxic vomit despite most people having found a new topic to panic about, but the “true believers” have expanded the core myth cycle to include even more bizarre elements (including techno-vampirism and colonies on Mars) that apparently are too much for the same outlets that breathlessly parroted wild sexual fantasies about millions of pubescent girl chained to radiators while being raped 100 times a day.  Even the paper that launched the panic in 2004, and has invested tremendous amounts of ink in promoting it for the past two decades, was forced to debunk its own lies when the newest version of its favorite fantasy featured unauthorized lies about its favorite politicians instead of only Times-approved lies about the demimonde.  But the prohibitionists who infest the Times are losing their shit just as much as their collaborators in the hate groups and pro-censorship cults, so it isn’t surprising that, even in the face of decaying political and popular support for its anti-sex jihad, the Times unleashed its favorite writer of hebephilic torture porn in order to embarass the hypocritical prudes in the payment processing industry to performatively cut off the income of thousands of homebound sex workers, immediately before Christmas, in a pandemic (for The Children™, natch).  This is what the end of a hysteria that government has found useful looks like; as I predicted eight years ago, it’s neither pretty nor neat:

I [once] referred to the “trafficking” myth as “an increasingly-erratic cultural meme spinning wildly out of control, whose far-flung debris is going to cause a lot more damage before it finally disintegrates”, and now that it has entered this last and most dangerous phase we should expect to see a lot more people hurt even as ever-larger numbers of people speak out against it ever more vocally.  Because it’s a useful tool of social control and a versatile excuse for tyranny, governments (especially the US government) will work hard and invest huge sums to continue the panic well beyond the time when it would have died naturally; that, however, can only work for so long, and once the edifice of prohibition starts to collapse the US will no more be able to halt the process than the communists could stop the destruction of the Berlin Wall…

If you’re one of the many sex workers who has been harmed by this censorship crusade, the news that the proximate cause of your suffering is that we’re nearing the end of the hysteria is probably not much comfort.  Nor will the words of Nicholas Klein, frequently misquoted and misattributed to Gandhi:  “First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you.”  But the words are indeed true:  the tyrants never fight harder than when they know they’re losing, in order to destroy the lives of as many of their chosen victims as possible while they still can.

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The times when those slain by the evil policies of the police state were simply left to rot in the shadows are over.  –  “The Body Count

Every year on this day, sex workers around the world gather to mourn our dead, but this year, the observance will be different in two very important ways.  You can probably guess the first:  Most of the gatherings are likely to be virtual ones, as people choose to physically isolate themselves to ward off disease.  The second, however, is far more important:  in the two years since the passage of the massive anti-sex censorship law FOSTA, attention and support for sex worker rights has grown dramatically among the general public, the media, and even the parasitic hangers-on who proclaim themselves “leaders”.  Increasingly-punitive laws engendered by “sex trafficking” hysteria and the general worldwide rise in authoritarianism, aggravated by pandemic-driven desperation, have produced the effect desired by prohibitionists:  dramatically increased violence against sex workers.  Most governments have added insult to injury by cutting those they know to be sex workers out of their pandemic relief programs, and even as the “sex trafficking” panic implodes those who have used it as an excuse for violence have redoubled their efforts.  Nor has the shift to online forms of sex work (again, driven by the pandemic) allowed sex workers to escape this violence:  sociopathic fanatics such as the creeps from Morality in Media and Exodus Cry, in collusion with sociopathic profiteers like Nicholas Kristof, have succeeded in cutting off revenue from the sex workers who sold their content on Pornhub, just as they did with Backpage, and it’s unlikely they will stop there.  But sex workers are no longer dying in the shadows, unnoticed and unmourned; social media has given us a megaphone, and FOSTA has galvanized those of our community who never considered organizing before to do so in numbers far too large to ignore.  Yes, there are still far too many (including the arch-prohibitionists who recently won the US presidential election) who want sex workers silent, invisible, and preferably caged, enslaved, or dead.  And they still hold tremendous power, and have been handed terrifying weapons over the past decade by a gullible public quaking in fear of imaginary bogeymen.  But they can no longer commit their atrocities in the dark as they once could.  As I’ve said before, we’re in the part where it gets worse before it gets better.  But now, many more people than ever before are watching, and increasing numbers of them do not at all like what they see.

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I think the ideal philosophy is to only care about the fact that you do your job with integrity.  –  Kiran Deshmukh

Social Autoimmune Disorder

Cops think they can never have enough pretexts to harass people:

Dallas [cops]…arrested 88 people in [just the first half of this year for]…driv[ing through a particular neighborhood, claiming they committed the thoughtcrime of]…looking for sex…All but one of those arrested were people of color.  [And now] Dallas [politicians want to make it easier for them to dramatically increase the score by]…allow[ing them] to [arrest people for the “crime” of] passing through [that neighborhood three times]…in…two hours…[using the all-purpose excuse of] trafficking women for sex.  The penalty is a fine of up to $500…[if pigs claim they] suspect[ed their victims]…of being pimps…

An Example to the West (#329)

An interview with Kiran Deshmukh, president of the National Network of Sex Workers in India:

I still remember Meena Seshu…telling us that we had to band together…to fight back.  I still remember that exact day this realization sunk in:  A gangster was on the streets making a scene and threatening us with knives.  All the women who’d usually shut their doors and sit tight poured out into the streets.  One woman undid her saree on the road, and the others used it to tie the gangster to a nearby pole.  The women beat him up so much and so badly that not a single gangster has created a scene in our area since then.  Once women band together, they become formidable opponents…Sex workers…work put food on the table and feed their children.  Society, on the other hand, views the world in a moral–immoral binary…Society will point out how our work is related to our bodies and how many men we “sleep” with…two people having consensual sex is justified but if you attach sex to money, it’s completely immoral.  Why?  You’re all saying it’s totally fine to have sex for free?…As for tragedy, if a woman enters sex work due to a tragic situation, but eventually decides to continue in the same profession, why would you bother her with the circumstances that influenced her choice 30-40 years ago?…

Don’t Call It Trafficking (#934) 

Remember, this is not slavery, but lucrative, flexible, voluntary work is:

Most [drug] rehab programs that require work act essentially as temp agencies, farming the [pati]ents out to…third parties, such as tree trimming services, dairies, poultry processing plants or oil refineries.  The wages are remitted not to the workers but to the rehab centers…the…workers…receiv[e]…no pay, no Social Security credits, [and] no unemployment insurance payment…Other rehab-affiliated programs, notably the Salvation Army, have their patients perform grossly underpaid work for their commercial enterprises — if they did not have this captive workforce, they would have to seek [fairly-paid] labor from the open market…

You Were Warned (#1007)

But please, tell me more about the “wings”:

It is now broadly recognized that Joe Biden doesn’t like Section 230 and has repeatedly shown he doesn’t understand what it does…[now] his…top tech policy advisor, Bruce Reed, along with Common Sense Media’s Jim Steyer, have published a bizarre and misleading “but think of the children!” attack on Section 230 that misunderstands the law, misunderstands how it impacts kids, and…suggests incredibly dangerous changes to Section 230..[among] its myriad problems…is…citing FOSTA as a “good example” of how to amend Section 230…

Rotting Fruit (#1015)

Why are men with so much to lose so goddamned stupid about sex?

[Paul Alexander,] the owner of a charter-jet company…has been charged with sex trafficking after [NYPD cops claim he]…offer[ed them] sex with a 12-year-old girl and 14-year-old girl for $300…In March, an underage girl went to the police and told them Alexander…had been…pimping her out…An undercover cop posing as a customer met with Alexander—who showed him nude photos of the girls, charged him $300 for sex with them, and suggested he ply them with drugs and pot so they would be more cooperative…Alexander…has…a 1996 sexual assault conviction…and in 2003 he was convicted of possession of…child [porn]…

Dangerous Speech (#1092)

Backpage case judge claims it’s OK her husband has publicly attacked Backpage because the Backpage case “isn’t about Backpage”.  Seriously.

…the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals…[has] ordered federal prosecutors to respond to the defense’s request for a “writ of mandamus,” which would order U.S. District Court Judge Susan Brnovich to remove herself from the case.  The order…[comes only days after] a hearing in…[which] Judge Susan Brnovich claimed that inflammatory comments made by her husband, Attorney General Mark Brnovich, about Backpage.com’s alleged guilt in facilitating illegal sex work, were unimportant and did not warrant her recusal.  “This case is not about Backpage,” she contended at one point…an assertion that might come as a surprise for anyone familiar with the federal government’s superseding indictment in the case, which mentions Backpage more than 600 times[it also] seem[s] a startling statement given that the prosecution’s theory of the case from jump has been one of vicarious liability, in which the government seeks to hold Lacey and Larkin responsible for alleged illicit acts supposedly connected to 50 ads cited in the indictment — ads never seen by Lacey and Larkin and posted by persons unknown to them, among the millions that once existed on the site…

The Next Target

Prohibitionists care only about “messages”, not facts:

Pornhub has released…statements about…Visa and Mastercard [announcing] their cards would no longer be accepted on the platform, following…Nicholas Kristof[‘s spurious]…allegations against the company…”These actions…come just two days after Pornhub…[banned] unverified users…from uploading content — a policy no other platform has put in place, including Facebook…Any assertion that we allow CSAM is irresponsible and flagrantly untrue…Pornhub’s safeguards and technologies have proven effective:  while…Facebook reported that it removed 84,100,000 incidents of CSAM over two and a half years, Instagram reported that it removed 4,452,000 incidents…over one and a half years, and Twitter reported that it suspended 1,466,398 unique accounts for CSAM over two years, the Internet Watch Foundation…reported [only] 118 incidents of CSAM on Pornhub in a three year period”…

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Every year on this day, the traditional beginning of the Yuletide season in the US, I remind my readers that the real spirit of the season involves giving to others rather than literally fighting to get more for yourself.  Children and whores are St. Nick’s two favorite groups of people; you can help the latter by donating to a sex worker charity such as SWOP Behind Bars, or you can help BOTH by booking a session with a sex worker you know has kids.  If you don’t know any, you can help by participating in my annual Toys for Tots special.  This year, I’m doing it differently because so many people are doing the social distancing thing.  From now until Friday, December 11th, everyone who donates $100 for me to buy toys with (you can send it via PayPal to maggiemcneill@earthlink.net or via Cash app to $MaggieMcNeill) will get any TWO of my books (your choice), autographed!  If you want a copy of The War on Whores as one of your selections, that’s fine as well!  And if you’re one of my regular gents, we can still do the usual deal (30 minutes extra per $100) if you prefer.  If you’re not hurting economically yourself, please consider donating (either to my drive or to one near you); the pandemic has taken a huge bite out of many people’s income, and some have lost their jobs or businesses entirely, so there will be less money for toys this year.  And while we adults can understand that, it can be heartbreaking for very young children to think Santa Claus has forgotten them or bypassed them because they were naughty.  Please help if you can, so together we can bring joy to needy children who might otherwise have nothing on Christmas morning.

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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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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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It is time that we all listen to the…voices…[of] sex workers. – LaLa Zannell

Paint By Numbers

A permanent dumb “awareness raising” stunt:

Lykins Square Park [in Kansas City]…will be the site of what is likely the first memorial in the nation to victims of sex trafficking…glass artist Hasna Sal dreamed up and executed the memorial, called “Into the Light”…[after] hear[ing and masturbating to]…sex trafficking [fantasies]…Kristy Childs…runs [prohibitionist group] Veronica’s Voice…[and admits] she…calls [all sex work by the dysphemism]…trafficking [but still repeated the Shahada anyhow]…the memorial…is made up of four stained glass panels [which reveal their Christian religious nature by their titles]…Damnation, Isolation, Redemption, and Salvation…

Note that this is just a fancy version of the tired old racist “black man’s hand over white woman’s mouth” image so beloved by the fetishists. Also note (at the link) the pretense that strip clubs only employ girls below 18, and that they “age out” as soon as they’re legal.  These people really do live in an ugly fantasy world.

Legislators Gone Wild (#1028) 

Nevada politicians have accomplished by royal decree what they couldn’t accomplish legally:

…hundreds of legal[ized] sex workers in [Nevada] lost their major source of income when brothels and other businesses [were forcibly] shut down mid-March.  While most other industries have been [allowed by politicians] to resume some level of operations, Gov. has indicated that the state’s brothels are “not on his radar” to reopen [even though other] services allowing physical contact…[such as] tattoo shops, estheticians, and massage parlors [were allowed to] open since May.  Women who work in Nevada’s legal sex industry…[are] being [persecuted] not because of the risk their business poses but because of a bias against their industry…

Social Distancing (#1031)

Swedish criminalization harms sex workers by creating a climate of fear:

It’s a common misconception that Canadian sex workers cannot, or should not, file taxes on their income because their industry exists in what many consider to be a legal grey area, with fears over arrests and other reprisals…[as in the US,] even income from illegal activities is taxable…This year, only those who were able to navigate the tax filing process had access to critical financial support…[but sex worker activist] Valerie Scott…[explains that] the current legal status of Canadian sex workers makes it feel too risky for many in the industry to file taxes at all.  “To be known as a sex worker, to file taxes as a sex worker, to have any information with the government in any form [is] exceedingly dangerous…There are so many ways we can get caught up.  We’re sitting ducks”…

Nonessential

The power to declare something “non-essential” is the power to ban it:

Supermarkets in Wales will have discretion to sell [items declared by politicians to be] non-essential…in “exceptional circumstances”, the Health Minister has said, following a major public backlash.  Vaughan Gething said supermarkets would be able to sell non-essential items to customers “in genuine need” during the so-called fire break lockdown…[politicians had at first arbitrarily proclaimed] that retailers allowed to remain open could not sell goods [politicians arbitrarily] deemed non-essential…such as bedding…children’s clothes…and…sanitary products…Gething [bloviated that] allowing non-essential retailers to open would “undermine” [politicians’ totalitarian power to declare some human beings “nonessential”]…

What Were You All Waiting For? (#1048) 

45 years after it became their official position, ACLU finally bothers to call for decriminalization:

The…ACLU…[has] released…a comprehensive review of over 80 studies about sex work…show[ing] that full decriminalization has the greatest benefits for public health and safety…The [report]…analyzed studies on…full decriminalization…“Nordic” models…[and] legalization models that require sex workers to register or impose other regulations…ACLU’s [LaLa Zannell said]…“millions of people are asking what we can do to reduce abuse by law enforcement, racial disparities in our criminal justice system, and our overall jail and prison populations…One policy that can achieve all of these goals…is to recognize that sex work is work and treat it like any other industry”…

Quiet Genocide (#1050)

A firsthand account of China’s torture of Uighurs:

Ӧmir Bekali…a…Kazakh [businessman, was]…visit[ing]…his family in…Turpan…[when cops unexpectedly] showed up…to arrest him…he…was thrown into a small…cell…for a week…with no explanation…the room…contained more than 36 others, who, like him, had their arms and legs constantly shackled…“My feet and my hands were tied up with iron shackles and they beat my hands…feet…back and…stomach…They put needles [under] my nails and…iron sticks into my sexual organs”…Police also hung him from the roof of the cell by his wrists so his feet could not touch the floor, and later smashed his knuckles with hammer-like instruments…he…was [then] moved to a…prison camp…[for] seven months…with no access to lawyers, phones to contact his family with, nor any real explanations for his arrest.  In November 2017, he was transported to…a…”re-education camp”…there are 40 people to a 16 square-metre room…Twenty-four hours a day, prisoners are shackled.  Iron chains are tied around their necks, fixed to loose iron blocks that…weigh around eight to ten kilograms, forcing [them] to always be hunched down…prisoners…are woken up at 5am and given a meagre serving of bread and soup.  They are then forced to repeatedly sing songs which praise the Chinese Communist party…and…Xi Jinping personally…As Ӧmir often expressed his discontent with his arrest, he found himself tortured once again.  He…was beaten “half to death” and made to stand facing a wall for twenty-four hours without food or drink on some occasions…After 20 days, Ӧmir was finally released…[thanks to] his wife…pressur[ing] two Kazakh Ambassadors to finally [intercede for him]…

Lack of Evidence (#1051)

The only “evidence” these racist sociopaths need is being Romanian:

The trafficking of Romanian women into the UK sex trade has reached an “industrial scale”, [prohibitionists fantasize]…Scottish Community Safety Minister Ash Denham…[participated in a circle-jerk] with Romanian…[prohibition]ists…[misogynist] group UK Feminista…[prohibitionist politician] Diana Johnson…and [other assorted masturbators, fascists, control freaks and busybodies from both] the UK and Romania…[The participants shared a lot of nonsensical claims supported by bogus] research.  Last month 24 people were arrested in the UK and Romania in a Police Scotland-led operation.  Dawn raids [and massive robberies] were carried out [and justified by calling the victims a] gang…

Sometimes prohibitionists openly admit that “sex trafficking” is nothing but a dysphemism for “sex work”.

I Spy (#1057) 

Remember, Twitter claims this surveillance isn’t surveillance:

Dataminr aggressively markets itself as a tool for…police[-statery]…using sophisticated machine-learning algorithms…[tha]t company insiders say…[a]re often nothing more than garden-variety racial profiling, powered…by a small army of human analysts conducting endless keyword searches…Dataminr…has…relied on prejudice-prone tropes and hunches to determine who, where, and what looks dangerous.  Through First Alert, its app for public sector clients, Dataminr has offered a bespoke, scariest possible version of the web:  a never-ending stream of notifications of imminent or breaking catastrophes to investigate.  But First Alert’s streams were assembled…by teams of “Domain Experts”…hunting social media for danger and writing alerts for cops’ iPhones and laptop screens…these staffers…were pressed to search specific neighborhoods, streets, and even housing complexes for crime…

The Clueless Leading the Hysterical (#1083)

There has literally never been a case of a kid getting drugged candy in his trick-or-treat bag:

Indiana State Police [once again tried to foment hysteria by telling] parents [there might be] marijuana edibles in their children’s Halloween candy…Police [pretend] that [adults never like sweet things] so…marijuana…candy…is [therefore some kind of intentional deception intended to ensnare penniless brats for some inexplicable but nefarious reason]…

Once again: nobody is going to give expensive cannabis edibles (which can cost $2 to $3 or more per piece) to your spawn for free.

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Pleasure can never be free.  –  Moroccan saying

Surplus Women

Your regular reminder: this isn’t confined to the US:

On 9 April, sex worker and activist Robyn Montsumi was arrested on a drug charge…in Cape Town.  A few days later she died in [what cops claim was]…suicide by hanging…artist Clinton Osbourn…created a life-size portrait of Montsumi…laminated it and put it up on a pole near the Mowbray police station…

Osbourn is hopelessly naive if he thinks cops will be “haunted” by a portrait of one of their victims; if they had consciences, they wouldn’t commit the crimes they regularly revel in committing.

I’m Sure You Feel Safer Now

Police closed off the Longport area of Canterbury for several hours…following a report of…a woman [o]n the property…armed [thugs] were s[ent in while]…a police helicopter hover[ed] overhead…a woman in her 50s [w]as [th]en arrested on suspicion of immigration offences…[cops claim] the address may have been used as a brothel…

Smoke and Mirrors

Another of those cases whose reported details don’t add up:

Raymond Rodio III…was [sentenced to 9.5 years for]…charges including sex trafficking and promoting prostitution.  After he completes his prison sentence, Rodio must register as a sex offender…“sex dungeon…sex slavery,” Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini [drooled, claiming that]…Rodio recruited women through social media, got them hooked on heroin or crack cocaine and forced them to have sex with men in the basement…Rodio operated the ring for about four years, victimized more than 20 women and forced some to use a bucket instead of a toilet…Rodio’s parents may have known “something untoward” was going on, but not necessarily that their son was running a prostitution ring…They were not charged with a crime…

A “ring” with only one member?  Were the 20 “victims” in one basement, or did he only have one “slave” at a time (and if they could quit, how were they “slaves”?)  And the parents somehow had no idea?  Reeeeeeeeeeally now.

Lower Education (#778)

California seems determined to completely eliminate due process in rape cases:

[California] Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed…[a law] to ensure California colleges and universities [deny due]…process [to] all students [accused of] sexual assault…in direct response to the Trump administrations’ attempts [to roll back the due-process-banning “guidelines” set forth in the infamous “Dear Collague” letter of 2011]…SB 493 will require state-funded colleges and universities to [refuse the protections enshrined in] common [law for centuries, despite the fact that minority students are disproportionately the subjects of rape allegations which lack the evidence to be supported in actual court]…On May 6…Education Secretary Betsy DeVos released new federal Title IX regulations that require schools to allow direct cross-examination of [accusers as in any other US criminal case], and would…raise the standard of evidence [back] from…preponderance of the evidence…to “clear and convincing” evidence, which is [still much lower than the burden of proof in other criminal cases.  Many]…lawsuits have already been filed challenging [expulsions and other punishments obtained under] the [Obama-era] Title IX regulations, including [75 in California alone and] a [class-action] lawsuit [against Michigan State University]

Naked Truth (#956)

Despite attempts to infantilize them as “victims”, Moroccan women know better:

…one of th[e] things that girls learn in Moroccan society…is [to]…enforce [a cost] when establishing almost any love and/or sexual bond with boys, and something that…married and divorced women tend to hold…[arranged] marriages…coexist…with the criminalization of [any] sexual relations outside of marriage…Consequently, there is a market for intimacy in which enjoyment is negotiated…the French-Moroccan anthropologist Mériam Cheikh has dedicated a doctoral thesis…[to] “the girls who go out”…the elegant euphemism [used] to designate prostitution practices, both professional and [casual]…the audacity in Cheikh’s research…is to…conclude that, in reality, the negotiations of sexuality are nothing more than a scale in the continuum of the bond between men and women that also includes marriage

Social Distancing (#1035)

Some of us have been saying this since March:

On 23 March, Boris Johnson locked down the [UK]…It would last for three weeks, he said, and it had one simple aim: to prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed by Covid cases.  Six months on…A quarter of the population is still under lockdown.  The rest of us are living under the most stringent social rules in living memory…Riot police are violently shutting down anyone who protests against this new authoritarianism…And…we are heading for the largest recession on record, with millions of jobs on the line…arbitrary rules are introduced by government decree…people can be fined for visiting loved ones…ministers make statements about who we can hug…there is serious talk of Christmas being cancelled…why did we shift from temporarily protecting the NHS from a spike in Covid to protecting all people from ever catching the virus?…how come you can gather in groups larger than six at work but not in a pub?…those of us…who have taken a critical approach…are often caricatured as not taking Covid-19 seriously…but…one of the key problems with a society-wide lockdown was precisely that it distracted society’s focus from the more targeted policies required to protect…the elderly and the vulnerable…It increasingly seems that the…freezing of economic life, the tight control of social life, and the halting of certain health services…could prove more harmful than the disease itself…

Social Distancing (#1045)

Like its neighbor the Netherlands, Belgium only pretends to respect sex workers:

Brussels’ sex workers are angry that they were not consulted before the City…sprung a prostitution ban on them on [September 28th, using the excuse]…of the coronavirus…the ban not only concerns street prostitution…but also sex work in…rendez-vous hotels…Maxime Maes of sex worker union UTSOPI [said]…“The virus is just an excuse.  This is not about the coronavirus, but about longstanding issues with the people living in those districts”…referring to how neighbourhood committees have repeatedly attempted to have several hotels in the Alhambra district closed…

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What we really need are safe and legal ways for sex workers to do what millions of Americans depend on them for.  –  Kate Zen

Under Every Bed 

Population 23,639:

…Guardians of the Children hosted a walk and candlelight vigil to raise awareness about child exploitation…[and] human trafficking…[but because North] Platte [Nebraska has no actual “sex trafficking” the members conflated it with]…child abuse [so they could claim at least a few hundred]…cases…

The Widening Gyre (#786)

When a headline writer doesn’t actually read the article first:

…historians offer a…thesis for the purpose QAnon serves.  The “nocturnal ritual fantasy”—a term coined by the historian Norman Cohn in his landmark study of European witch trials, Europe’s Inner Demons—is a recurring trope in Western history.  And it is often a politically useful one.  Deployed by the Romans against early Christians, by Christians against Jews, by Christians against witches, by Catholics against “heretics,” it is a malleable set of accusations that posit that a social out-group is engaged in perverse, ritualistic behaviors that target innocents—and that the out-group and all its enablers must be crushed…

Apparently, New Republic editors are so fixated on the “left-right” fantasy, and the belief that all social evils proceed from “The Right”, that they’re willing to characterize the Romans, the Christians, and the great majority of 1980s and 1990s Americans as “The Right” in order to cram an article into that paradigm.

Guinea Pigs (#955)

Just a reminder that this privacy-destroying abomination started as a means of spying on sex workers:

Palantir…promises t[o]…create clarity and order.  But to deliver, its software needs data — lots of it.  Now, two never-before-seen documents, “Intermediate Course” and “Advanced Course” training manuals, reveal how the Los Angeles Police Department has taught its [thugs] to use Palantir Gotham…At great taxpayer expense, and without public oversight or regulation, Palantir helped the LAPD construct a vast database that indiscriminately lists the names, addresses, phone numbers, license plates, friendships, romances, jobs of Angelenos — the guilty, innocent, and those in between.  LAPD’s Palantir database includes information from the DMV…[and] 1 billion pictures taken of license plates from traffic lights and toll booths in Los Angeles and neighboring areas.  If you’ve driven through Los Angeles since 2015, the police can see where your car was photographed, when it was photographed, and then click on your name to learn all about you…

Thou Shalt Not (#971)

Pregnant women are easy targets for crypto-moralists:

Women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy should completely avoid caffeine, according to a study published in The British Medical Journal.  Its findings, though, were quickly picked apart by skeptics who are sick of women being warned that almost everything they do…is a risk to their kids.  “I don’t think we need to worry about coffee,” says Clare Murphy…[of] the British Pregnancy Advisory Service. “I think we need to worry about this relentless pursuit of pregnant women and regulating of pregnant women’s choices”…the paper…is…a meta-analysis of several earlier studies…conducted by James E. Jack, a professor of psychology at Reykjavik University whose life’s work seems to be excoriating caffeine…in a culture enamored of shame and blame, especially when it comes to moms, it is this kind of research that gets funding and attention…Murphy says that her country’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recently published guidelines “whereby they want a woman’s entire alcohol history through the entire pregnancy—from a glass of beer they had before they knew they were pregnant—to be all documented and transferred onto a child’s health record.”  The clear implication is that anything a mom does can and will be held against her if a child exhibits problems…

The Implosion Begins

Cops will embrace any belief, no matter how bizarre, which gives them more power:

…what if the cop patrolling your neighborhood held bizarre and unsubstantiated views?  What if…he…was watching videos…[claim]ing that a satanic cabal of high-profile…pedophiles is running the world’s most insidious sex ring?  Or was swiping through memes popularizing …[fantasies] about kidnapped children kept in underground tunnels so their blood can be harvested to help keep wealthy people alive?  And what if they sincerely believed it all?  In a small but growing number of places across the country…[cops] have endorsed QAnon, [just as they endosed “sex trafficking” hysteria from which it sprang]…

Working From Home (#1070)

We’re way past the watershed when a prominent sex worker activist gets a network news byline:

Sex workers are the majority of creators on [OnlyFans], and here was a celebrity coming in and making more in a day than they could in a year.  Many sex workers rely on [the site] as their sole source of income during the pandemic, as in-person encounters became unsafe.  But what especially angered workers was how [former Disney star Bella] Thorne caused a wave of chargebacks that “broke OnlyFans”…[by] promising a $200 pay-per-message nude photo that she then shied away from sending…Shortly thereafter, OnlyFans…limit[ed] max subscription and tip payments and extend[ed] payout time by 23 days in 14 countries where fraud risk is deemed highest…To rub salt in the wound, Thorne’s sister Kaili responded to the controversy by seeming to dismiss and shame sex worker concerns…while the scandal has mostly died down, the problems it revealed remain worthy of our attention, especially as we head into fall and winter without a clear end to the…pandemic in sight…

Tissue of Lies

As I predicted almost 9 years ago, these debunkings are becoming common:

…The myths spread about human trafficking are endless.  Every year viral headlines claim the Super Bowl (and other major sporting events) are hotbeds for human trafficking.  This has been debunked for years.  The vast majority of sex workers get into the industry through friends or social activities, not through coercion of pimps.  There are ads to fight human trafficking in airports all over the country, despite there never being a confirmed case in one (but many cases of interracial families are reported)…These myths will continue feeding conspiracy theories like Pizzagate and QAnon until there’s a cultural effort to share the truth.  Human trafficking has been marketed as a national problem for decades and has generated hundreds of millions of dollars both publicly and privately, yet still has no credible studies showing the numbers of victims, no proof there’s a nation-wide crisis, and scarce evidence that current solutions help the underlying problems at all…

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