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Posts Tagged ‘Birth of a Movement’

If we [can’t] get the prohibition on sex work repealed, we [will] never end up hanging on to our abortion rights…it’s the same piece of property.  –  Margo St. James

Amsterdam

Dutch “authorities” narrow the bottleneck again and will no doubt be surprised when illegal prostitution increases:  “The city of Amsterdam…will raise the legal age of prostitutes from 18 to 21 and…close brothels during the early morning hours…Amsterdam says it wants to decrease the number of sex workers…to fight crime generated by prostitution…

The Slave-Whore Fantasy

Yet another example of what real sex slavery looks like:

A sex worker who was…held hostage for two…days broke her legs and back when she jumped out a sixth-floor window…Benjamin Gaston and Johnny Jackson have been charged with kidnapping and raping the…woman…Gaston…stole her cellphone, money and identification…hit her and held a pillow over her face, telling her, “You’re…working for me and making me money.”  The next day, [she] was taken to another apartment…where there were six or seven additional men waiting to have sex with her, including Jackson…The woman tried to escape…by using her jacket as a rope…[but] fell to the ground…Saturn Devouring His Son by Francisco Goya (c 1820)

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

I just love it when they feed on one another.  In Stockholm, “Police…were surprised…to find that a man they had arrested for buying sex from a prostitute was the duty prosecutor to whom they were obliged to report the crime…”, and in New York, “Officer Luis Gutierrez…was on duty when he allegedly offered a prostitute money…[but she] was an undercover cop…

Decentralization

Bitcoin is now the world’s best-performing currency:

…The number of coins in circulation grows very slowly–there are about 10.8 million…now, and that will increase to 21 million by 2140…growth…[can’t] keep up with demand and so the value of the currency [grows]…The U.S. dollar value of a Bitcoin is up from…$4.87 [a year ago]…to $31.09 today.  It has appreciated by over 100% from the end of 2012 alone, when the quoted price was $13.48…And it’s also going mainstream, reports in the Guardian and Forbes  suggest…

The Forbes article reports that “Silicon Valley Bank…and…Coinlab….will [soon] allow North America-based…users to directly convert money from dollars to bitcoin, without having to pay the hefty transaction fees associated with transferring money abroad…

Against Their Will

Spanish police were puzzled when thirty Romanian whores they “rescued from exploitation by a network of pimps” immediately returned to work; “none of [them] asked for protection or availed themselves of assistance…to return to their country” despite police claims of beatings and debt bondage.  Meanwhile, Filipino “authorities” continued their weird crusade against “cybersex”:  “…police raided…[an] alleged…cybersex den…[and] rescued 12 [young men]…“They referred to themselves as ‘chatters’ because they chat online…as they perform sexual acts in front of the web cam,” said…officer…Romano Cardiño…

Peeping Toms

Dennis Green admits he offered another man $20…for sex…[but his] defense…could have a far-reaching impact…legalizing prostitution in Ohio…Scott Nazzarine, Green’s public defender…believes there’s no way what Green did can be deemed a crime in today’s society.  He compares it to other acts that at one time were illegal – premarital sex, the sale of sex toys, abortion, contraception…but now are legal, protected rights…“It’s about privacy rights and constitutional rights and the government’s intrusion into them…Any justification for prostitution laws is just a pretext for morality”…

Nazzarine is of course totally right and the judges know it, but I don’t think this is the case that will do the job because there’s still too much hypocrisy afoot.  Still, this won’t be the last one, and eventually individual rights must triumph just as they have in other sexual matters.

We Told You So

Who victimizes sex workersThe Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women is the only large “anti-trafficking” organization which fights the use of bogus statistics and conflation of sex work with exploitation; it’s calling for papers for its Anti-Trafficking Review on the topic “Following the Money: Spending on Anti-Trafficking” …“Lacking is analysis of…anti-trafficking funds – where they come from, who they go to, what they are meant to do, what they actually achieve, and indeed whether they are needed.”  Two of the suggested topics are analysis of the motives behind “anti-trafficking” funding and questioning ties to law enforcement.

An Ounce of Prevention

A baby…who got immediate treatment now has no detectable [HIV] in her blood…within 30 hours of birth…she…got a cocktail of three drugs at a dose normally reserved for more advanced cases…There is still virus in [her] body.  But…it doesn’t seem to be able to spread from one cell to another…[or damage her] immune system…

The Law of Averages

Emi Koyama exposes journalists who knew the falsity of the “average age of debut in prostitution is 13” myth for three years, yet kept repeating it anyhow:  “While I was glad to see that The Oregonian now officially acknowledges that there is no basis for this…everything…Janie Har…wrote…was already in my three-year old blog post…[written after] I first read the claim…in [Oregonian reporter Elizabeth] Hovde’s column…” Emi details her July 2010 correspondence with Hovde, in which the reporter acknowledged her analysis but made excuses rather than issuing a retraction.  Then finally, last Saturday,

The Oregonian acknowledges that the claim is baseless! (But why is it rated “half-truth”…and why did they not mention any other study that contradict 12-14 claim?)  I have a feeling that Janie Har read my blog post…she mentions the same Shared Hope report and points out the same problems…If she did read my blog, why did she not speak with me or give me credit…The Oregonian had the opportunity to stop perpetuating the myth for almost three years, and yet failed to do so as recently as this January.Secret Lives  While Janie Har’s column is to be commended, The Oregonian and Hovde need to take responsibility for their part in the falsehood…

Presents, Presents, Presents!

While I was in New York last week, Secret Lives and A Natural History of Rape arrived as gifts from reader “M”.  Thank you very much, both for the books and the good wishes!

Little Boxes

When Melissa King [aged out of] the Delaware foster care system at 18, she did some porn, entered some pageants, and enrolled in college…Last November, King was crowned Miss Delaware Teen USA…[but] she gave up her crown after an explicit video…surfaced on an amateur porn website…Now she’s being publicly shamed by former friends and international news organizations…Pageants and porn are…two sides of a very thin sexual boundary.  And for a young, pretty girl who’s strapped for cash…only one of [them offers it] up-front…

Naked Truth

Melissa Gira Grant continues a strong run of good articles with “Unpacking the Sex Trafficking Panic” in Contemporary Sexuality, the newsletter of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT).  When sex-worker-penned items criticizing a popular narrative appear under the imprimatur of a relatively-conservative organization, it’s clear the tide has begun to turn.  Also, here’s a good interview with veteran activist Tracy Quan by Caty Simon on Tits and Sass; I promise, I’m not just linking it because it mentions me.Margo St. James in Washington

The Birth of a Movement

In this interview with Bitch magazine, Margo St. James discusses the beginning of the sex worker rights movement, how the neofeminists turned mainstream feminism against us, “sex trafficking” hysteria and the future of sex worker activism.

Coming Out

Dear Prudence” gives what I think is a reasonable response to an unconsciously-bigoted man wondering if he should “out” a sex worker friend to his other friends.  Unfortunately, the graphics give the impression that the woman goes around looking like a Hollywood streetwalker when in reality, the uptight questioner’s issue is that she looks just like any other woman.

Much Ado About Nothing (TW3 #44)

An escort who appeared on a video claiming that Sen. Robert Menendez…paid her for sex has told Dominican authorities that she was instead paid to make up the claims and has never met or seen the senator…a local lawyer had approached her and a fellow escort and asked them to help frame Menendez…That lawyer has in turn identified a second Dominican lawyer who he said gave the woman a script and paid her to read the claims aloud…

Texas Tall Tales

Facebook PimpThe “Facebook pimps” myth just keeps growing and growing, which really isn’t a surprise since it combines three of the moral panics du jour: “sex trafficking”, gangs and the evil, evil internet.  This sort of thing has been happening for as long as there have been exploitative men and naive, sheltered girls with romantic delusions; it’s not a “trend”, not limited to Facebook and not an international conspiracy.  CNN also fails to understand that three cases in a country of 300 million do not an epidemic make, and that 18 isn’t “underage”.

Genetic Fallacy

Yet another example of judges ignoring a law’s unconstitutionality on the grounds that those challenging it have not been sufficiently harmed by it:

The Supreme Court…[dismissed] a challenge to a…federal law that allows…interception of electronic communications…[on the grounds] that the lawyers, journalists and human rights organizations that brought the suit cannot prove they have been caught up in the surveillance and thus may not challenge [it]…the 5 to 4 ruling did not touch on…constitutionality…and challengers said it will be almost impossible now to get that issue before a court…

Profound Ignorance (TW3 #51)

An even more thorough refutation of the moronic prohibitionist claim that sex is somehow different from every other human activity:

The assumption that liberal prostitution laws lead to an increase in human trafficking is refuted.  On the contrary…since…liberalisation, there has been more police activity but…significantly less suspects, convicts and victims.  That’s…an indicator that…disentanglement of prostitution from criminal environments is increasingly successful.” – Volker Beck, MP…“In the year 2000…[German officials] registered…926 victims.  In the year 2011, there were 640.  This equates to a decrease of just under 31 per cent.  If one compares the figures…in 2003 [a year after the prostitution law was passed] and 2011, one sees a certifiable decline of just above 48 per cent”…The…German government thus refutes the claim by Neumayer, Cho and Dreher  that legalised prostitution increases human trafficking…

Déjà Vu (TW3 #135)

More evidence of the evangelical Christian basis for “sex trafficking” mythology and a look inside the perverted minds of prohibitionists:

In the fight against sex trafficking, the Church needs to address the root causes – the ideas…that break the linkage sex has to love, responsibility and children, [said] Lisa Thompson…of…the Salvation Army…Thompson asked [her audience] not [to] divorce…sex trafficking from…prostitution [because]…all prostitution dehumanizes women…”God did not create any woman for the purpose…that she be a cum receptacle.  God did not create the female to be a human being that [johns] are basically masturbating into…sex was never intended to be a job, so let’s not use the language of ‘sex work'”…

That Thompson had to deny that sex work is work is a very good sign indeed.

Caring Professionals

lone red umbrellaI have long held that professional sex workers need to develop a code of ethics just as other professions have, not only for moral reasons but in order to push back against “authorities” who think they are more qualified than we are to set standards for work they’ve never done.  So I was pleased to hear that the Australian Sex-Positive Sex Industry Association (ASPaSIA) is working on just such a code, and I’ll report on it at full length once it’s finalized later this month.

Unclean Situation (TW3 #138)

Labour TD, Eamonn Maloney, said he did not accept the [claims] in the report on the [Magdalene] laundries…“They…made lots of money,” he said…adding that most commercial laundries in the 1940s and 1950s closed because of competition from the Magdalenes.  “Not only has the church as yet to apologise for their role in operating these prisons, they do also have a role…in compensating people,” he said…The Government has so far refused to say what contribution, if any, it will seek from the orders…

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It’s not about promiscuity, which makes you sound square; it’s not about prostitution, which makes you sound dirty; it’s about sex-trafficking, which makes you sound like you’re on the side of the angels, know-nothing though they might be.  –  Michael Wolff

Amazingly Stupid Statements

Just Don’t Call It Slut-Shaming: A Feminist Guide to Silencing Sex Workers” is a funny and dead-on-target lampoon of neofeminist anti-whore rhetoric in the form of a mock primer.  Definitely a must-read.

Cracks in the Dam

Canadian courts slap down another government attempt to stop sex workers from claiming human rights:

The Supreme Court of Canada has upheld the right of a non-profit group representing women…in downtown Vancouver’s sex trade to challenge the country’s anti-prostitution laws on constitutional grounds.  The ruling means the Downtown Eastside Sex Workers United Against Violence Society can go back to B.C. Supreme Court to pursue a case it launched five years ago…

The government’s argument against the suit relied on the sophistry that one of the parties in the suit (Sheryl Kiselbach) was no longer affected by the laws due to being retired, and that the other party (the DESWUAVS) could not be affected because it was an organization, therefore neither had the right to sue.  But the judge realized that the government’s claim that streetwalkers had to bring such suits individually was absurd, and ruled in favor of the group.  It’s not only good news for sex workers, but for other marginalized Canadians as well:

…[attorney] Katrina Pacey…explained [that] “This would provide a real opportunity for marginalized people, people with mental health issues, people with HIV, prisoners, refugees, children to form a collective organization whereby they then have the support and capacity to bring these cases forward, as a community”…

Japanese Prostitution

The bad economy and political tensions between their countries have combined to make things increasingly difficult for Chinese whores in Japan, creating a dangerously unbalanced buyer’s market:

…“Rumors have been spreading that Chinese girls have been beaten up by Japanese Johns, and some of them are even begging off on transactions with customers they don’t know out of fears for their safety,” says “pink” journalist Yasuhiro Ebina.  “Many Chinese women tend to be blunt and unsociable, but of late they are forcing themselves to smile, and have been primping themselves to improve their appearance.  Before a deri heru (out-call sex) service might have charged an additional 8,000 yen for honban (the “real thing,” i.e., intercourse), but now they’ve knocked as much as 5,000 yen off the total price”…women from Shanghai tend to be proud and many refuse to dispense oral sex, but over the past week they are now even providing lip service bareback.  And some ladies from Dalian or Harbin are even allowing customers condom-free rides…

Forward and Backward

The stupidity, it burns!  “…[Washington, D.C.] police lieutenant Jeffery Carroll told residents at a neighborhood meeting…that [a perceived] jump in [street] prostitution may be related to the surge in construction activity and increase in construction workers in the neighborhood.  Carroll told residents that prostitution activity typically takes place between midnight and…6:00 a.m. The recent surge has come between 3:30 and 7:30 a.m. or else at around 3:30 p.m….which police say could correlate to changes in construction shifts…

Not To Be Taken Internally

Yet another poor fool has died from allowing a non-doctor to inject filth into her arse in a non-medical setting:

…52-year-old Morris Garner…who has had gender changing procedures and goes by the name Tracey Lynn Garner, is charged with depraved-heart murder in the March death of 37-year-old Karima Gordon, of Atlanta…Gordon became ill within 30 minutes of leaving Garner’s house in Jackson after…injection [of a silicone-like substance into her buttocks] but decided to try to make it home to Georgia before seeking medical treatment…[investigator Lee McDivitt]…said her chance of surviving the injections was small, anyway…”The [medical examiner] told me…[that when he] cut the victim open…this material ran all over the floor, all over their shoes, all over the place”…

What I can’t understand is why so many of these self-proclaimed cosmetic surgeons are transgendered.

Above the Law

Once again:  As long as government actors have excessive power over individuals, this will keep happening:  “…Pittsburgh Public Schools police officer…Robert Lellock…was arrested…[on] 23 counts of crimes including corruption of minors, child endangerment and sex crimes…”  Lellock allegedly raped several 13-14 year old boys, ensuring their silence by a combination of threats to kill their families and rewards of marijuana and class-skipping privileges.

An Example To the West

You may remember that DMSC had formed its own football (soccer) team for the children of Calcutta sex workers; well, two of the boys were picked for a world championship team:  “Two sons of sex workers from India’s eastern state of West Bengal will play soccer…in the Indian…team for the Homeless World Soccer Cup 2012 in Mexico…’This is a big achievement in integrating children of sex workers with the mainstream sports community,’ said Dr Samarjit Jana of DMSC.”

The Birth of a Movement

This Guardian article is mostly about sex workers’ reaction  to the socialist scheme to inflict the Swedish model on France, but it also contains interesting information on French hookers’ efforts to circumvent busybody laws and the sleazy tricks cops use to harass them.

…The “white van women”…embody the French state’s difficult attitudes to prostitution.  As in the UK, prostitution itself…is not a crime.  But…[a] 2003…law [forbids being]…in a public place known for prostitution dressed in revealing clothes.  To get round this, women started working in private vans.  Selling sex inside a vehicle was not breaking the law.  But police are now using any means to crack down on the growing number of sex-work vans, namely parking tickets and tow-trucks…some…owe thousands of euros in parking tickets and pound-release fines accrued each month…

Shift in the Wind

An excellent op-ed against “end demand” rhetoric appeared last Sunday in, of all the unexpected places, The New York Times; I’ll bet Nick Kristof isn’t happy:

…policy makers have started to push to eradicate all prostitution, not just the trafficking of children into the sex trade.  Under the catchphrase “no demand, no supply,” they advocate increasing criminal penalties against men who buy sex — a move they believe will upend the market that fuels prostitution and sex trafficking…[but] the “end demand” campaign will harm trafficking victims and sex workers more than it helps them…End-demand advocates’ prototypical victim — an abused teenage girl…forced into the sex trade…does exist.  But they disregard the fact that individuals, including boys, men and transgender people, enter the sex trade for a variety of reasons.  The pimped girl who has inflamed the public’s imagination needs government services and protection, not to be made into a symbolic figure in an ideological battle to eradicate the entire sex industry, which, like many other sectors, includes adults laboring in conditions ranging from upscale to exploitative, from freely chosen to forced…despite their righteous anger, the end-demand crowd is quick to dismiss what many sex workers actually have to say.  Some activists have gone so far as to brand those who criticize their campaign as “house slaves” unable to recognize their own oppression…

The writer is being polite; Melissa Farley’s actual term was “house nigger”.  The article goes on to strongly criticize the Swedish model, flatly stating that it has failed to reduce prostitution and explaining how it harms women; it reports that most abuse of sex workers is by police rather than clients or “pimps” as claimed by the prohibitionists; and it discusses real solutions very much like those advocated in this blog.  The article is not long, and well worth your time.

Worse Than I Thought

Proposition 35 is so awful (Chorus:  How awful is it?) that even trafficking victim advocates oppose it:

…The opponents, who range from a South Bay nonprofit to a co-author of California’s current law against trafficking, say that, instead of helping, Proposition 35 will set back their work by years.  Chief among their concerns is the measure’s focus on hefty penalties rather than a collaborative attack on the problem…That approach, they say, ignores the victims…[they] also condemn the discrepancy between penalties for labor and sex trafficking…Most victims don’t end up in the sex trade…yet Proposition 35 provides for lower penalties for labor victims…

The Phoenix Pharisees

The Maricopa County sheriff’s office only “treats prostitutes as trafficking victims” when they find it convenient:  “…Over the course of a month, detectives made 37 arrests on suspicion of prostitution-related crimes…in an unincorporated area of the county tucked between Tempe and Guadalupe…suspects made contact with an undercover deputy, who secured an offer of sex for money and then used a code word as a signal for other deputies to storm the hotel room…”  “Code word?”  “Stormed” the room?  Their pomposity would be hilarious if they weren’t ruining the lives of real women.

Thoughts On My First Conference

I’m the third interviewee in this video.  It’s not very long, but I still figured y’all would want to see it.

Parting of the Ways

This Guardian op-ed presents Michael Wolff’s opinion of the Backpage-Village Voice split; though he has no love for Lacey and Larkin he has even less for Kristof and company, and the article provides the interesting tidbit that some of the anti-Backpage campaign was funded by the Church of Scientology in revenge for the Voice’s relentless attacks on it.

Metaupdates

Bad Fantasy, Good Reality in TW3 (#7)

Cambodian cops are learning to parrot their American masters quite well:

Chan Sreynuch, the owner of Mikasa Coiffure and Beauty…was arrested…on suspicion of human trafficking, according to the national military police spokesman Kheng Tito…According to him, Sreynuch would lead young women — often aspiring singers and students — to her salon, then connect them with wealthy businessmen…Three of her manicured and coiffed callgirls were also detained…[and] sent to Phnom Penh Municipal Hall’s rehabilitation centre for “re-education”…

Coming and Going in TW3 (#12)

Anna Gristina…has pleaded guilty to promoting prostitution…[she] will be sentenced…to time served and probation as part of a plea deal.  The judge warned the Scotland-born woman she could also be deported…

An Example To the West in TW3 (#14)

Workers in the [Korean] sex industry called…for the scrapping or revision of anti-sex trafficking laws…[which limit their] rights to sexual autonomy and their freedom to enjoy a free sex life as adults…another sex worker surnamed Kim submitted a petition…for…judgment on whether the laws are constitutionally acceptable…

Real People in TW3 (#21)

British prohibitionist Julie Bindel interviewed the Fokkens sisters, the elderly Dutch whores about whom a documentary was recently made; unsurprisingly, she only reports the negative parts and dismisses the “rosy picture the twins paint of prostitution” as just a kind of weird twin-thing.  Of course she is pleased to report that the Fokkens say legalization has been bad for Dutch hookers (largely because of the exaggerated tax assessments European officials commonly use to persecute sex workers), but cannot or will not comprehend that no sex worker rights organization in the world supports Dutch-style legalization.

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic in TW3 (#29)

If you’re impressed by those brain studies that “prove” porn, sugar, the internet or whatever is “as addictive as cocaine”, you need to consider the study which won this year’s Ig Nobel Prize in neuroscience “for demonstrating that brain researchers, by using complicated instruments and simple statistics, can see meaningful brain activity anywhere — even in a dead salmon.”

This Week in 2011

My columns on Mabon and Banned Books Week were followed by others on misuse of the word “vagina”,  the fallacy of “empowerment”, dehumanization of whoresdominatrices in the news and women’s views of male sex workers.

This Week in 2010

My first Mabon column, the problems caused by unsatisfied male sex drives, my sex-related pet peeves, one of my earliest columns on “sex trafficking” hysteria  and an angry reply to it, the growth of opposition toward prohibition and my announcement of the Himel decision.

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Those who would criminalise prostitutes seem oddly keen to eliminate true voices of experience from the discussion.  –  Brooke Magnanti

All Shapes and Sizes

Res ipsa loquitur:

…Jonah Falcon was stopped…by the TSA at the San Francisco International Airport…because of a bulging package hidden in his pants…the world’s largest recorded penis…[which is] 9 inches flaccid, 13.5 inches erect…”[A] guard…asked me if I had some sort of growth…I said, ‘It’s my dick’…He gave me a pat down but made sure to go around [my penis] with his hands.  They even put some powder on my pants, probably a test for explosives”…

The Camel’s Nose

Congress’ new strategy is to enact SOPA piece by piece so it doesn’t attract so much attention; though the Intellectual Property Attaché Act is mostly cultural imperialism like the “Trafficking in Persons Report”, it also creates yet another unelected “czar” with dictatorial powers.  Luckily, a group called the Internet Defense League (whose members include Public Knowledge, Reddit, Mozilla and the Electronic Frontier Foundation) was launched on July 19th; its purpose is to monitor threats to internet freedom and then spread the word and organize mass resistance (like the protests that stopped SOPA) whenever necessary.

Lying Down With Dogs

It’s always interesting to see how closely American anti-whore rhetoric resembles that of nations which are not exactly advanced or Western:

Lusaka Province Minister Gerry Chanda [rejected] calls by some members of the public to legalise prostitution…[because it] is illegal…cannot be tolerated…[and] is alien to Zambia…Inspector-General of Police Stella Libongani described sex workers as a “public nuisance” and warned them with arrest if found loitering on the streets…

Bone of Contention

So, aren’t vandalism and indecent exposure already illegal for everyone without a special law just for whores?

More than 40 [street sign] poles have been bent, buckled or broken in the past 18 months in one area of south Auckland, New Zealand… “Prostitutes use these street sign poles as dancing poles,” said [a member of the city council.  The claim appears in a pamphlet]…detailing frustrations of residents and businesses struggling to cope with [streetwalkers and calling]…on parliament…to give Auckland Council powers to ban sex workers from certain areas…other…incidents [include]…a transvestite [ramming] a supermarket trolley into a woman’s car before lying across the bonnet, and a school-bus full of children observing a transvestite changing her dress…

Sisters in Arms

Considering America’s grotesque inflation of penalties for every conceivable “crime”, what will happen if abortion is eventually recriminalized?

38 states have passed laws that create a crime for causing the death of a fetus…23 of which apply at the earliest stages of pregnancy.  What we have now is a what Professor Angela Davis calls a “prison industrial complex”:  a system of for-profit prisons so hungry for more inmates that it drives immigration policy, and pays off judges to fill jail cells with children…[and] so bloated that rural economies have become dependent upon the influx of inmates…since the 1970s, the rate of incarceration for women has increased over 700%.  We have lawmakers admit that they believe that women should face “serious” criminal penalties for having abortions.  We have so dismantled the right to privacy that state-mandated technological surveillance can literally invade women’s bodies.  We have Kafkaesque bedside interrogations and arrests of women who fall down stairs when they admit ambivalence about…single motherhood…two women…are [now] facing murder trials for losing pregnancies…Bei Bei Shuai…[and] Rennie Gibbs

Against Their Will

A new report by two Indian authors has poked holes into the “raid, rescue, and rehabilitation” schemes…targeting sex workers.  The report, titled We Have the Right Not To Be “Rescued”…says, “Contrary to the purported goal of assisting women, the anti-trafficking projects…often undermine HIV projects…causing harm to women and girls.”  The report alleges that [police raids on] brothels…are often violent.  Cases of sexual assault and rape and sodomy have also been reported during such actions…Research from Indonesia and India has indicated that sex workers who are rounded up during police raids are beaten, coerced into having sex [and]…placed in institutions where they are sexually exploited or physically abused.  The raids also drive sex workers onto the streets, where they are more vulnerable to violence…

An Ounce of Prevention

It looks as though an AIDS vaccine is finally within reach:

…a 2009 clinical trial in Thailand…tested Sanofi’s ALVAC, a weakened canary pox virus used to sneak three HIV genes into the body, and AIDSVAX, a vaccine originally made by Roche Holding’s Genentech that carried an HIV surface protein.  Both vaccines had poor showings in individual trials…[but] the…combination cut HIV infections by 31.2 per cent…Preparations are under way for a follow-up trial testing beefed-up versions of the vaccines among heterosexuals in South Africa and [homosexual] men…in Thailand…

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic

Dr. Marty Klein not only explodes the myth of “sex addiction”, but also explains why it’s such a destructive paradigm:

…“Sex addiction” is a special weapon now used…to ignore science…ignite fear [and]…legitimize anti-sex moralism and bigotry.  And psychologists, judges, legislators, and the media are buying it…the sex addiction movement…did not arise from…sex therapy or any other sexuality-related field.  Rather, it was started in 1983 by Patrick Carnes, who…claims no training in human sexuality.  “Sex addiction” has been adopted enthusiastically by the addiction community, and to a lesser extent by the marriage and family profession—the latter historically undertrained and uncomfortable with sexuality…Of course, the media loves it, decency groups love it, and those who identify as some other kind of addict…love it, especially if they’re fans of the Twelve Steps…

If you still think some people are really “addicted” to sex, Dr. Klein suggests you take the Sexual Addiction Screening Test (SAST).  You may be surprised how high you score, but you shouldn’t be; “sex addiction” rhetoric pathologizes normal sexual feelings and behaviors.  As Dr. Klein points out, what the test really measures is whether you grew up in a sex-negative culture.  The article is well worth reading in its entirety, especially for its debunking of inane claims about “brain areas” and “erototoxins”.

Much Ado About Nothing

I guess the media must be bored with hooker “scandals”, because this report of T-men paying for women with government funds didn’t make the news; we’re told they won’t even lose their  jobs because the activity “didn’t include underage prostitutes or human trafficking.”  You know, just like 96.5% of the sex work persecuted in this country doesn’t.

The Pygmalion Fallacy

Here’s a trailer for a new documentary named The Mechanical Bride, narrated by the legendary Julie Newmar.

The Birth of a Movement

In the process of critiquing a French miniseries about the maisons closes, Dr. Brooke Magnanti has some illuminating comments about the historical reality ignored by the creators of the melodrama:

…Prostitutes moved between brothels and changed names often to avoid detection…the notion that girls…could not, and did not, shop around for management is absurd…the drama is an uncomfortable union of modern agendas superimposed on a historical setting.  Since it’s in the past, there are no inconvenient contemporary sex workers to show the complex reality of prostitution and spoil the abolitionist fantasy…

First They Came for the Hookers…

If prohibitionists really want to “rescue” sex workers, why do they keep trying to stop us from getting other jobs?

…Harmony Rose…has been featured in more than 200 pornographic videos…[but] has…left the adult entertainment industry…and [is] training as a volunteer EMT…in Roanoke, VA…Fire Chief Rich Burch learned about Rose’s previous career…[and] contacted the…County Attorney…[who] noted, “Anything that results in public ridicule of the volunteer squads…must be avoided”…[and] that Burch “supports the decision of the volunteer chief if she decides to terminate the membership of [Rose].”  The community, however, seems to be on Rose’s side.  Of the over 500 comments that appear under the story on WDBJ’s Facebook page, nearly all support Rose’s continued work with the rescue squad…

Metaupdates

For Those Who Think Legalization is a Good Idea in August Updates

As in Canada, Indian politicians feel compelled to defend tyranny by opposing court orders to decriminalize prostitution:

The Supreme Court…agreed to examine [the federal government’s] plea that sex workers should not be allowed to operate…”with dignity” as suggested by a panel…[the] solicitor general [argued]…that any such endorsement…would go contrary to the…Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act which bans prostitution in toto…He also wanted the bench to remove…Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee from the panel…[the defense argued] that the Act only prohibited brothel activities and…pimps…[and that] if a sex worker carries out the activities on her own volition, [they are] not…illegal…

Traffic Jam in TW3 (#21)

Emi Koyama examines the increasing redefinition of “sex trafficking” into a “gang-related” activity, including this ridiculous “pimp classification” system dreamed up by cops and prohibitionists.  She persuasively argues that “What is ignored in all of these discussions of the (racially coded) evils of ‘gangs’ is that many young men…become gang members and engage in its criminal activities for many of the same reasons many young women…[enter] the sex trade: poverty, failure of social and child welfare systems and public education, lack of viable economic opportunities…what is the moral difference between a young woman who is told to go out and sell sex, and a young man who is told to go out and sell drugs? And yet, the mainstream anti-trafficking discourse would have us believe that the young woman is an innocent victim but the young man is an evil criminal…

Feminine Pragmatism in TW3 (#23)

It’s like watching someone repeatedly hitting her own fingers with a hammer:

Nadya Suleman…allegedly signed a contract…[with] T’s Lounge…in West Palm Beach, Fla…But after some teasing by a T’s staffer on TV, Suleman bailed on the deal, and now plans to make her…debut at a rival strip club instead.  That’s grounds for a lawsuit…[because] the…contract…barred Suleman from being booked at any other strip club within 50 miles, 90 days before or after her gigs at T’s…Suleman’s manager maintains the contract was not valid, because T’s never forked over…[the] deposit fee…

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs in TW3 (#27)

First Guyana, now Singapore; let’s hope this list gets much longer:  “The Singapore government has lashed out at the United States over its human trafficking report…[due to] a number of ‘inaccuracies and misrepresentations’…

The Course of a Disease in TW3 (#28)

Sex workers aren’t the only ones angry over the French women’s minister’s prohibitionist crusade:

…How disappointing…that Vallaud-Belkacem’s most publicised policy announcement to date has been a pledge to “see prostitution disappear”…cynics would consider Vallaud-Belkacem’s grand plan a naive one, and typical of those that give radical governments a bad name.  Working girls in Paris…accused her of trying to drive a relatively well regulated industry underground…[and] Muslims…[hoped for repeal of] the crassly tagged “burqa ban”…Rather than presiding over job losses for…women, Vallaud-Belkacem should be…working to try to improve the lot of all women…

This Week in 2011

Head Games” describes the ways some clients try to control calls, and “July Miscellanea” featured items on a snooping gadget, another politician’s underwear photos, a woman getting plastic surgery to look like a drag queen & the suspension of the “anti-prostitution pledge” for domestic organizations.  “A Girl Who Can’t Say No” explains why I invest so much time in my work; “Social Construction of Eunuchs” examines people willing to sacrifice their childrens’ happiness to “social construction of gender”; “Concubine”  is a fictional interlude that you may find a bit disquieting; “Bootlickers” uses a campaign against bikini baristas to illustrate public collaboration with tyranny, and “J’accuse” was my first column on Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

This Week in 2010

What’s In a Name?” explains the many reasons whores use stage names; it was followed by “Couples” (a two-part column about couple calls), then “Modern Marriage”, which examines the reason for the high divorce rate.  “The Trick” was my very first fictional interlude, “The Myth of the Wanton” discusses the belief that women are more lustful than men, and “Just Drawn That Way”  looks at the complex motivations behind female sexuality.

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NOS ENFANTS NE VEULENT PAS LEUR MERE EN PRISON.  –  Banner hung on the front of St. Nizier’s, June 2nd, 1975

Contrary to the perceptions of Americans and others, the French have been unusually intolerant of lower-class prostitution for centuries.  About the middle of the 16th century a moral panic over the new venereal disease, syphilis, swept across Europe; then, as now, prostitutes were blamed for diseases spread mostly by promiscuous amateurs, and despite arguments from theologians and philosophers that prostitution was a necessary social safety valve, French moral crusaders demanded that it be “abolished” by closing brothels and arresting streetwalkers (Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose!)  Since they catered to the needs of the upper class, courtesans were naturally ignored; it was only the whores who were available to the middle and lower classes who were suppressed.  Streetwalkers were periodically rounded up and thrown in jail (or even deported to the colonies), while brothels owned by the wealthy and/or well-connected arranged private deals to be tolerated, becoming the maisons closes which characterized French prostitution up until the aftermath of World War II.  Brothels owned by poorer madams managed to stay open by bribing the police with money and sex…and I need not tell you that venerable system is still alive in many countries to this day.

Things went on like this for over 200 years, until the Revolution and its consequent social upheavals drove huge numbers of women into prostitution for survival.  The bourgeois had fits and demanded that “something be done”, so under the Code Napoleon police were given the power to “control” the trade.  In Paris, the world’s first vice squad (the police des moeurs) was organized; its job was to register all whores and to require them to submit to monthly health inspections (at the women’s cost, of course); if a woman was found to be infected, or failed to show up on time, or was unable to pay her fee, or had failed to pay whatever bribes or provide whatever sex was demanded by the cops, she was confined to a “prison hospital” until the “authorities” decided to let her go.  Registered prostitutes were oppressed by an ever-increasing number of rules about where, when, how and with whom they could work; by 1830 these regulations had become so stringent there was literally no way to obey them and still make a living, nor was there any right of appeal for any cop’s pronouncement because there were no actual laws on prostitution (just police rules made up by the police and enforced at their discretion).  The only way to avoid all this was to work in one of the maisons closes, but they were just as bad because one of the conditions for a license was that any cop had unrestricted access to any occupant of such a house at all times.  Furthermore, the police demanded such huge bribes and fees from the madams that they in turn had to extract more money from the girls.

Unsurprisingly, most women preferred to risk working illegally than to submit to this regime, so the police took it upon themselves to decide which women were prostitutes; any lower-class woman seen walking alone, or noticed in the company of different men at different times, or accused by an enemy, was arrested and forcibly registered as a “known prostitute” for the rest of her life.  This was the soil from which the modern pimp first sprung; since men could move about freely, they could seek clients for women who wanted to steer clear of the police.  A whore accompanied by a pimp in public could pass as a “respectable” woman, and male lookouts could warn groups of streetwalkers to hide when the police approached.  Whores learned to move in and out of different brothels, to change residences, cities and even names, and to employ pimps to avoid detection; by the dawn of the Social Purity Era in the 1870s the French system was moribund, and panic over “clandestine prostitution” fed on the same white middle-class Christian women’s frustration over their inability to control everyone else’s sexuality that soon gave rise to an avalanche of anti-prostitution laws in the United States.

But while the moral crusaders of America and Britain imagined they could completely abolish prostitution, the French would not succumb to that delusion for several generations yet.  Instead, they became obsessed with an “epidemic of lesbianism” in the maisons closes and blamed police regulation for the ills of prostitution, demanding that the system be dismantled.  In 1907 that was indeed done, but the police maintained surveillance of whores under the pretext of “maintaining public order”; this was accomplished in part by using threats to secure the cooperation of cheap hotels (maisons de rendezvous) where streetwalkers took their clients.  Thus the public believed that the regulation system had ended, when in fact it had merely become sneakier.  This state of affairs continued until World War II, which as I have previously explained resulted in a wave of anti-whore propaganda culminating in France’s being declared officially “abolitionist” in 1960.  The old registries were destroyed, but as always the police became even worse with increased criminalization.

By 1974, the embattled French hookers had enough; the police had (as usual) done nothing about two mutilation murders of prostitutes in Lyon, so a group of whores and supporters (including lawyers and journalists) called a protest meeting to demand an end to the various anti-prostitute laws and police repression which was endangering their lives by forcing them to work in dark, sparsely-trafficked areas.  The police responded by harassing the protesters with three or four fines per day each, and the French tax authorities made ridiculous estimates of the number of clients each protesting worker saw, then presented them with tax bills exceeding their entire incomes.  When they appeared on television to tell the public what was happening, they were sentenced to prison in absentia for the unpaid fines and taxes.  Recognizing that dramatic action was called for, on Monday, June 2nd, 1975 a group of over 100 prostitutes occupied the Church of St. Nizier in Lyon with the cooperation of the priest; they hung a banner across the front of the building stating in French, “OUR CHILDREN DON’T WANT THEIR MOTHERS IN PRISON.”

When the government responded by threatening to take their children away if they did not leave immediately, there was a public outcry; many women of Lyon joined them so the cops would be unable to tell which were the prostitutes.  Furthermore, the demimonde of Paris dispatched a delegation to assist them, groups in other parts of France also occupied churches, and a “prostitutes’ strike” was organized in several provinces.  The protest went on for a week, and ended predictably:  at 5:30 AM on Tuesday, June 10th, cops tricked the priest into unlocking a door which they then forced open, allowing dozens of thugs in riot gear to invade the building.  All of the occupying whores were beaten and arrested, and similar actions were carried out that day and over the next few at all the other protest sites; by Friday the 13th it was over.

But if the “authorities” imagined their brutal suppression of a peaceful protest would teach the lesson they had intended, they were sadly mistaken; the whores began holding regular meetings and soon formed the French Collective of Prostitutes, on which the English Collective of Prostitutes was later modeled.  Women in a number of other countries were also inspired to form groups, and a number of these came together with Margo St. James’ COYOTE to form the International Committee for Prostitutes’ Rights (ICPR), the organization whose work and example helped to win prostitution law reform in a number of European countries and provided an example which inspired similar campaigns in many other parts of the world.  In a way, the modern sex worker rights movement was born on that June 2nd in Lyon, so we celebrate it now as International Whores’ Day.  Many victories have been won in the 37 years since that first lost battle, but we still have a long way to go until our profession is recognized as legitimate and governments cease to treat us as cattle to be herded and milked as they please.  In the past decade the prohibitionists have succeeded in forcing us into a defensive posture via their “sex trafficking” mythology and tyranny wrapped up in “feminist” garb, but all moral panics inevitably end and the majority of young women are not threatened by sex as the current feminist establishment is.  The tide of history is toward greater individual and sexual rights, and those who would restrict others’ sexuality, no matter what propaganda they employ, will eventually be swept away.

One Year Ago Today

June Updates (Part One)” features stories on PIPA (a previous version of CISPA) and a sex worker who helps disabled men in Germany.

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