Posts Tagged ‘Knights Erroneous’

We should…be open for the possibility that prostitutes are harmed, not because prostitution is harmful, but because society at present seriously wrongs prostitutes.  –  Ole Moen

The Naked Anthropologist

Dr. Laura Agustín recently uploaded this video of a talk she gave in 2010 which synopsizes in just a few minutes a number of her most important observations on the roots of “sex trafficking” mythology, agency denial, the rescue industry and more.  Her influence on me and many other writers on this subject cannot possibly be overstated, and if you don’t read her blog you really should.


Madonna and Whore

A new study looked at escort board postings and concludes what I and other escorts have said many times and people like Melissa Farley deny:  that many clients really feel a sense of emotional intimacy with some escorts:

…Christine Milrod and co-author Ronald Weitzer analyzed 2,442 postings on…a sex provider review site…Approximately one-third included a discussion about emotional intimacy between sex workers and their clients…“In recent years, we have come to see a gradual normalization of independent escort prostitution, where sexual encounters have come to resemble quasi-dating relationships,” stated…Milrod.  “Our study shows that regular clients of a particular sex provider often come to experience feelings of deep affection, which can progress into an authentic love story”…The study uncovered feelings ranging from “counterfeit intimacy” to “authentic emotional bonds” between many prostitutes and their respective customers…

Bad Girls

This is one way to deal with an extortionist, though the idiot is lucky he wasn’t arrested as well.  What I’m wondering, though,  is why she stuck around after he called the cops?  “Police in Ann Arbor [Michigan] say they took a call from a man who was upset that the price he agreed to pay for prostitution services had increased…the…19-year-old woman he had contacted online…upped the cost after taking his money…the woman was arrested and the man wasn’t…[after they] gave vastly different accounts of what happened…

Bad Jobs

Here’s a new slideshow of the “most stressful jobs in America”; notice that NO sex work jobs are on the list, despite prohibitionist claims of PTSD and other such nonsense.

Real People

Marc McAndrews…visited the legal brothels in 11 Nevada counties over a period of five years [to create]…the book Nevada Rose, which documents these brothels and their workers, owners and customers.  What he uncovered was a view of prostitution that didn’t adhere to culturally appointed preconceptions:  of sex work as a living as humdrum as any other…”  Unfortunately the article credits the Nevada brothel system, reserving the typical insults and libel for independents.  But you’ve got to start somewhere, and this is a big improvement over the typical New York Times “sex trafficking” lies.

Another Example of Swedish “Feminism”

It’s hilarious to watch Swedes trying to reconcile the “whore as criminal” and “whore as victim” myths:

Prostitutes in Stockholm are using short-term rented apartments to sell sex, which is proving to be a difficult case for police…and a bitter pill…for the holidaying homeowners…who…are completely unaware of what’s going on…One woman…[said] “It felt disgusting. I wanted to just burn the bed and move house…[but] when you get a little perspective on things – I’m not actually the victim here. I think of how the girls have ended up as prostitutes, whether they’ve been exposed to people smuggling and how they live today”…

Against Their Will

It would be difficult to imagine a more bizarre combination of agency denial and plain arse-backwardness than this:

Four sex workers were allegedly abducted by an armed gang from a rehab centre…police have registered a case of kidnapping…the gang members were [allegedly] Mumbai-based pimps, whom the girls telephoned and asked to be “rescue’’ from the rehab centre run by an NGO…they were rescued from the flesh trade by the…police and were accommodated at the rehab centre…six months ago…Other sex workers…said life is hell at the centre.  “A prison would be better than this,” said a 24-year-old inmate.  “Given a chance, we too would like to leave”…

The reversed scare quotes around the two uses of “rescue” are especially striking; their literal rescue by friends or associates is scare-quoted, while the use of the term for abduction and imprisonment is not.

Sex, Lies and Busybodies

Yet another “sex trafficking” liar is exposed:

…William Hillar…was sentenced…to 21 months in prison…for…his scheme to pass himself off as a colonel in the U.S. Army Special Forces…Hillar was also ordered to pay restitution of $171,415 and perform 500 community hours at the Maryland State Veterans Cemeteries……the FBI said Hillar fabricated a gruesome tale that his own daughter had been kidnapped, forced into sex slavery, sodomized and tortured before being hacked to death with machetes and thrown into the sea.  He further claimed that this experience and his life story was the basis for the 2008 film “Taken”.  The significant press attention…generated free press for his business.  Hillar admitted…his daughter…was [actually] alive and well…

Knights Erroneous

Speaking of “sex trafficking” liars:  “Ashton Kutcher [in Delhi to film a Steve Jobs biopic]…posted a photo that has him posing with about a dozen…victims of sex trafficking [supplied by rescue industry NGO Apne Aap]…

My Favorite TV Comedies

…the cast of the 1990s Nickelodeon series The Adventures of Pete & Pete was reunited…before a packed and ardent crowd at L.A.’s Orpheum Theater for…a…three-hour celebration of the deepest children’s show — and one of television’s best shows — ever.”  The article includes an interview with the creators, who explain that a great deal of the show’s unique style derived from the fact that their background was in producing advertising spots rather than situation comedies, so they didn’t know what they were “supposed” to do.

Shift in the Wind

As I pointed out, the public health community almost universally backs decriminalization, and apparently that support has reached the bioethics field as well:

…one of the latest…articles in the…Journal of Medical Ethics…bears the provocative title “Is Prostitution Harmful?”  Unsurprisingly, Norwegian academic Ole Martin Moen says No.  “More and more of us…believe that sexual encounters need not be deeply personal and emotional…if casual sex is acceptable, then we have few or no reasons to reject prostitution.”  Dr Moen demolishes…nine objections to legalised prostitution…but perhaps most interesting from a bioethical standpoint are his assumptions…First, that [if] sex…has no special value, it is unlikely that arguments against selling it will stand.  Second, that a utilitarian calculus is the best way to determine the ethics of prostitution…Third, that contemporary attitudes towards homosexuality are appropriate precedents for assessing the moral value of prostitution.  Back in the 20s and 30s, homosexuality was deemed to cause people severe psychological problems.  But we now know that this was due to social stigma.  Homosexuality was also associated with disease, drug use and violence.  But we now know that this was due to social and legal oppression.  Similarly, Dr Moen suggests, if we destigmatise and liberate prostitution, these issues will disappear among prostitutes as well…


Behold the inevitable result of trying to stop sex work:

Korean communities in Australia are campaigning…for a crackdown on Korean prostitutes who have entered the country on working holiday visas…The association of Korean communities said Korean prostitutes are a national disgrace.  “…Korea’s reputation is being tarnished as they see the country as an exporter of prostitutes,” said an association spokesman…Since the Korean government launched its crackdown…in 2004…many sex workers have moved to Australia, Japan, the United States and other countries…Accordingly, the number of crimes involving Koreans staying on such visas is rising at an alarming rate in Australia and other countries…72…felonies, including murder and rape, committed against or by Korean working visa holders were reported in Australia in 2009, while no such crimes were reported in 2005.

One can’t help wondering if the Korean community’s bigotry is not part of the reason Australian politicians keep claiming that thousands of Asian women are “trafficked”, despite a total lack of evidence .


Something Rotten in Sweden in November Updates (Part One)

Emi Koyama does it again with this convincing economic analysis demonstrating not only that “end demand” schemes don’t work, they actually increase the amount of prostitution among low-end (street) sex workers:

“End demand” approach to addressing human trafficking continues to gain traction, as law enforcement agencies across the country hold the third “National Day of Johns Arrests”…I have in the past pointed out why “end demand” policies are harmful…and even provided a further  explanation for the economics of “end demand” policies.  But recently I had an…exchange with someone who…helped me explore a possibility…that “end demand” approach to prostitution, which seeks to reduce demand for commercial sex through public education, prosecution, public humiliation, and other means, may increase prostitution, rather than decrease it…

The nutshell version:  As demand drops, so does the price.  But because survival and near-survival sex workers are already making barely enough to live on, they are therefore forced to work longer hours and see more clients in order to make ends meet.  If any of my readers is an economist and can either confirm or find flaws in Koyama’s analysis, please let me know.

The Course of a Disease in TW3 (#28)

This is really good news; intellectuals are respected and influential in France:

Some of France’s leading intellectuals have poured scorn on the government’s goal of eradicating prostitution…a collection of academics, artists and writers suggest efforts to get rid of the world’s oldest profession are bound to fail…Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, the minister for women, caused a stir in June when she announced the new government would attempt to end the sale of sex…the intellectuals…argued that talk of “abolishing” prostitution was based on “two debatable assumptions:  that charging for sex is an affront to women’s dignity and that all prostitutes are all victims of their bastard clients…A women who prostitutes herself…is not necessarily a victim of male oppression.  And the clients are not all horrible predators or sexual obsessives who treat the woman as disposable objects.”  Among the signatories to the article were philosopher Elisabeth Badinter, writer Regine Desforges and film-maker Claude Lanzmann…

O, Canada! in TW3 (#31)

Politicians just can’t resist trying to drum up moral panic, even in soil as unfertile as the largely pro-decriminalization British Columbian academic community:

Recruiters could show up at B.C. colleges and universities this year looking for students to work as strippers, says the province’s minister of advanced education, Naomi Yamamoto.  “The [adult entertainment] industry itself has a reputation of exhibiting some risky behaviour, and we don’t want our students exposed to that,” she said, “especially if [it means] aggressively recruiting at our campuses”…She said the issue came to her attention through news stories about the trend in Windsor, [Ontario]…She added that she could not direct institutions to bar adult entertainment companies from job fairs but is “strongly recommending” that they reject any requests for space…A representative of the Camosun College Student Society, Madeline Keller-MacLeod, said she would resist the presence of adult entertainment industry representatives on campus… “Our members are particularly vulnerable to any economic opportunities,” she said…

Ask yourself:  what sort of warped mind could produce the phrase “vulnerable to economic opportunities”?

This Week in 2010 and 2011

Three different columns featuring lyrics and video links for songs about whores; two columns defining various terms used by hookers; a short history of New Orleans’ famed Storyville and a biography of one of its most famous madams; and an analysis of why politicians persecute whores.  We also see that genitals come in “All Shapes and Sizes”, that a picture really can be worth “A Thousand Words”, and that many feminists will cut off their noses “To Spite Their Faces”.  Plus:  my very first update column;  another one featuring items on trafficking myths, an odd breach of confidentiality and prohibitionists using feminist and Marxist rhetoric; and another with items about fornication laws, sex rays, Michael Weinstein and a less-fortunate counterpart of the client from today’s first item.

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Beware of purity workers [who are]…ready to accept and endorse any amount of coercive and degrading treatment of their fellow creatures in the fatuous belief that you can oblige human beings to be moral by force.  –  Josephine Butler

Two new items, ten updates and four metaupdates.


Aristophanes’ comedy depicts an Athenian woman who convinces the women of both Athens and Sparta that the only way to end the Peloponnesian War is to withhold sex from their husbands; in the play, as in real life, the problem is getting all the women to cooperate.  The ridiculous sex strike American activists plan for April 28th is foredoomed to failure (as if a one-week strike could have any effect anyhow) because the wives of those making the objectionable laws won’t be participating, and even if they did the politicians would simply go to their regular pros.  But if all the whores cooperated

…The largest trade association for luxury escorts in the Spanish capital has gone on…strike…for bankers until they go back to providing credits to Spanish families, small- and medium-size enterprises and companies…a…spokeswoman [said] “…We have been on strike for three days now and we don’t think they can withstand much more.”  She has revealed that bankers have made some pitiful attempts to use their services by pretending to be engineers or architects…The bankers reportedly became so desperate that they even decided to call in the government for mediation…

Zero Information

Well, not zero exactly, but I couldn’t resist my first title beginning with “Z”.

A man who police say sometimes poses as a female prostitute to flag down motorists was arrested…Terrence Elliott…had been warned several times in the past few weeks…But Elliott was also found with a…crack pipe…and…charged with possession of drug paraphernalia [and]…loitering…

What the hell does this mean?  Is Elliott a drag prostitute, or does he dress in drag to rob or panhandle?  News stories are a lot more informative when they actually contain information.


Feminine Pragmatism (April 7th, 2011)

Because this was practically inevitable, she was a fool for waiting until her marketability dried up:

At the height of her fame…Octomom aka Nadya Suleman was offered a lot of money to show her body.  Vivid even offered her a $1 million deal to star in one of their films.  At the time…[she] swore she would never do nudity.  But dignity doesn’t feed 14…babies so…she [started] doing fetish photoshoots and now…topless shoots…However, she’s not commanding the same price she used to.  TMZ reports that days away from being foreclosed upon, Nadya has decided to go naked for…Closer.  Sources say she only made $10,000…

Subtle Pimping (April 8th, 2011)

Making money off of whores without giving them anything in return…is as good a working definition of ‘pimp’ as I can imagine…

…On Friday, March 30th…[the] 2012 Hooker Beauty Pageant…[will be held] in Hollywood…According to…[organizer] Natalia Fabia, the word “hooker” could be loosely defined as (excuse the pun) “someone who sells one’s talents and abilities, talent, or name for money, (but it also means) a rad, strong, talented, tough, colorful, independent, stylish, and beautiful woman.”  This pageant is Fabia’s platform for highlighting real women in Hollywood’s music and art scene…

Umm, how about highlighting real hookers – or more specifically, our mistreatment?  I googled Fabia and found no statements about sex worker rights or decriminalization, and nothing about part of the proceeds from her “hooker art” or publicity stunts going to hooker organizations, hooker rights advertising, outreach to street hookers…in short, she’s pimping our image.

Down Under (June 9th, 2011)

Australia continues to be what Sweden wants so desperately to be:  the world leader in demonstrating the proper way to deal with prostitution:

[A new study shows that]…New South Wales…is the best place in the world [for]…prostitutes…”Jurisdictions that try to ban or license sex work always lose track as most of the industry slides into the shadows,” [said]…Professor Basil Donovan…of [the] Kirby Institute… “In NSW, by contrast, health and community workers have comprehensive access to and surveillance of the sex industry.  This has resulted in the healthiest sex industry ever documented.”  The report, prepared for the NSW government, found…[that most] sex workers surveyed also reported being “well adjusted and comfortable with their occupation”…

The Crumbling Dam (October 14th, 2011)

Today the Ontario Court of Appeal delivered a landmark decision on …prostitution laws…All five judges…found that…the provision restricting “common bawdy houses” is grossly disproportionate and overbroad, and…that the provision restricting “living on the avails”…is overbroad because it would criminalize non-exploitive relationships…However, three of the five…upheld the provision criminalizing communicating for the purpose of prostitution, holding that the purpose of the provision…is legitimate and must be weighed against the harms it causes…The…decision will most certainly be appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada…

Here’s the full decision.  If there’s any justice in the universe, the Supreme Court will not only uphold the decisions of both lower courts overturning the bans on brothels and avails laws, but also reinstate Justice Himel’s decision overturning the “communicating” law.

Elephant in the Parlor (October 23rd, 2011)

Not news, but I want to catalog as many of these as possible:

John Edwards is denying a report that he used the services of a prostitute in New York…a call girl for…Anna Gristina told investigators she had sex with Edwards for money back in 2007…“Mr. Edwards categorically denies that he was involved with any prostitute or service”…  said…a statement.  “These allegations are false, defamatory, and he puts those who would publish or repeat them on notice that they acting [sic] with actual malice”…

I’m publishing and repeating them, and I fully admit malice toward career politicians, especially those who bear a huge part of the blame for America’s sky-high medical bills.

Divided We Fall (November 16th, 2011)

Gay activists could’ve demonstrated a commitment to supporting sex worker rights this week when “[Malaysian]…Deputy Minister…Datuk Mashitah Ibrahim…said…’The (LBGT) issue…can lead to prostitution, drug abuse, psychological problems and also mental illness…Part of the LBGT problem is caused by natural reasons, such as being born with two private parts…’” but instead many of them were just as indignant about being compared to prostitutes as they were with the mental illness and hermaphrodite stuff.  I guess once you win your rights in the West it’s OK to join in with stigmatizing other groups who haven’t yet, just to show you’re part of the gang.

See No Evil (November 26th, 2011)

An inability to tell fantasy from reality would normally be considered evidence of psychosis, but in law enforcement it’s a job requirement:

…the Canadian government [has] dropped all criminal charges against Ryan Matheson, [an] American…charged with…child pornography [due to] Japanese comic book images on his laptop…Matheson accepted a plea deal…[in] which he admitted to “a non-criminal regulatory offense…”

Presents, Presents, Presents! (December 29th, 2011)

I got three new presents this week!  Ted sent me The Science of Fear by Daniel Gardner, and Gumdeo sent me the movie New Orleans and a Cuddly Cthulhu!  Thank y’all both so much for thinking of me!

The Course of a Disease (February 16th, 2012)

Apparently Canadian neofeminists, angry at their inability to infect their native land with the Swedish Disease, have decided to poison the well in a country which is already sickening:

[Canadian MP Joy Smith] has taken it upon herself to encourage Knesset members [via email] to support recent legislation…which will make paying for sex services a criminal offense…“Israel now has the opportunity to pass progressive legislation and to be a leader in the fight against this form of modern slavery,” Smith wrote in the email.  “I urge you to support MK Zuaretz’s bill and help make Israel a country that others aspire to emulate.  The world is watching and waiting for Israel to take this important step and eliminate the demand to purchase sex…”

Obviously, Israeli reporters don’t bother to check their facts any more than American ones do; this one erroneously states that “most” Western countries have adopted some form of the Swedish Model, and swallows the easily-debunked prohibitionist lie that most prostitutes are coerced.

Above the Law (March 8th, 2012)

Apparently, the American federal government believes it’s only OK to grope people if one puts on a uniform and does it without their permission:  “[Bryant Jermaine Livingston, a TSA] manager at [Dulles International Airport] has lost his job after being arrested on prostitution-related charges…”  The story explains that Livingston was running a kind of cheap temporary brothel in a hotel room, stupidly returned to the same hotel and was ratted out to the Gestapo of Montgomery County, Maryland by the irate manager.


J’accuse in November Updates (Part Three) (November 4th, 2011)

in France…it’s OK to be a whore as long as you have no friends, family, employees, assistants, managers or other human contact other than customers”, and if you’re an official who has embarrassed Paris one too many times, you can be charged with the horrible crime of helping legal workers to conduct their legal business: “…Dominique Strauss-Kahn…is under investigation for “aggravated pimping” for his alleged participation in a prostitution ring in France…

Whores in the News in Further Developments (November 18th, 2011)

It’s now official; the government will steal $6.4 million from the former owners of Escorts.com.  As usual, the state’s claims read like an FBI drama, with heroic cops “investigating” hardened criminals; in reality, the feds botched an attempt to take over the site surreptitiously in order to use it to entrap thousands of escorts and clients.  The bogus “money laundering” charge was just a way for them to recoup their losses; despite FBI claims to the contrary, federal judges have repeatedly ruled that “facilitating prostitution” is not a federal crime and websites are not responsible for the content of ads.

Sex, Lies and Busybodies in That Was the Week That Was (February 4th, 2012)

Sean McBride, AKA “John Curtis”, has resigned as head of “The Grey Man”.  After it was discovered that a group of Thai children the group claimed to have rescued from “sex traffickers” were in fact ordinary village schoolchildren, Curtis issued a series of increasingly-absurd and self-contradictory “explanations” (including one on this blog), mostly based on a paranoid fantasy that a competing “rescue group” had conspired with the Thai government to discredit him.  But after new revelations that McBride routinely lied about the age of “victims” and the number “rescued”, he stepped down voluntarily before he was thrown out.  Good riddance to bad rubbish; let’s hope every one of the con artists who profit by the persecution of whores is similarly exposed, and soon.

Knights Erroneous in That Was the Week That Was (#12) (March 24th, 2012)

I’m pleased to see the number of voices raised in criticism of Nick Kristof’s anti-whore crusades is growing; ever-larger numbers of writers are pointing out the absurdity of the claims made by “trafficking” fetishists and calling attention to the harm this moral panic inflicts on women.  I suspect The Guardian will be one of the first major media outlets to officially denounce the hysteria; it’s published a number of articles on the subject, most recently last Monday:

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof is on the move and his  latest target is the Village Voice.  This attack appears to be part of a broader campaign to shut down the sex industry and to rescue  and rehabilitate women and girls working in it.  Kristof’s allies range from women’s rights organizations to religious organizations…the  critical lens applied to Kony2012…must [also be applied]…to the  crusades against sex trafficking…when women and girls are “rescued” by the anti-trafficking organizations, they may be taken to state-run rehabilitation homes that have jail-like conditions.  Human rights and sex worker organizations have long documented what rehabilitation might mean for a sex worker:  overcrowded conditions, a lack of healthcare, and violence at the hands of the police and guards…

It’s wonderful to see statements like these in a large newspaper, and even more heartening to read the many supportive comments beneath.

One Year Ago Today

In “March Q & A” I answer questions about cunnilingus, men pretending to be women online, and the sex drives of middle-aged escorts.

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Man’s mind is so formed that it is far more susceptible to falsehood than to truth.  –  Desiderius Erasmus

Eleven updates and two meta-updates.

Amsterdam (November 1st, 2010)

Prohibitionists claim that “sex trafficking” decreases when prostitution is criminalized and increases when it is legalized or decriminalized; the Netherlands is one of their favorite targets, and here Wendy Lyon of Feminist Ire demonstrates that recent statistics fail to support prohibitionist claims, and that what “trafficking” there is seems more the fault of Dutch controls than of the sex trade itself.

Sea Change (November 4th, 2010)

Increasing numbers of educated people reject prohibitionist claims about sex work and even recognize it as a positive good.  One of these is Dr. Hernando Chaves, sex columnist for AskMen, who recently answered the question “Is there anything wrong with [seeing] a prostitute? What risks are there…?

…This answer for you depends on…personal attitudes, social judgments, religious/spiritual views, your culture…and a host of other variables…In many cultures throughout history, money…[has] been exchanged for…sexual activity, sometimes as a form of…worship…besides the risk of being arrested and charged where it’s not legal, the risks are quite similar those you would take on with a non-sex-work partner.  Any partner can break your heart, take your money, pass along an STI…and so on.  It’s not fair to attribute these risks [only] to sex workers…some…bring up sex slavery…and other dark sides to sexual activity, but…true sex work…is a business decision made by consenting adults…

Welcome To Our World (January 20th, 2011)

Most of you have probably heard of the controversy over Mike Daisey’s highly-falsified report of conditions in Apple’s Chinese factories:

Public radio’s popular This American Life episode about abuses in the Foxconn factories…has been retracted on the grounds of… “significant fabrications”…When you read something bad about a Foxconn factory and then see that thousands of people line up for the chance of a job at one of them, that really ought to make you wonder.  What were those guys doing the day before they decided to stand in line?…

This is of course what writers like Dr. Laura Agustín keep trying to make people understand:  prohibitionists harp on what they consider horrible conditions in third-world brothels, or in the process of migration to a more affluent country, but ignore that people nearly always chose them as the best available option.  Furthermore, busybodies just can’t resist depicting these choices as worse than they actually are:

…If you’ve ever tweeted about how bad Apple is, blogged about the evils of Foxconn’s sweatshops, or “Liked” a Facebook post excoriating how iPads are made, then you should listen [to the retraction of Daisey’s story]…I’ve covered the company as a reporter for more than a decade…Mike Daisey claimed to have come across 12-year-old workers, armed guards, crippled factory operators.  We saw none of that.  And we did try to find them.  Nothing would have been more compelling for us and our story than to have a chat with a preteen factory operator about how she enjoyed (or not) working 12-hour shifts making iPads.  We didn’t get such an anecdote…The biggest gripe, which surprised us somewhat, is that they don’t get enough overtime.  They wanted to work more, to get more money…It wasn’t paradise…some of their managers were harsh…and…others found their job boring.  Some were just plain homesick…Compared to the lies, the truth just doesn’t make good theater.

Now substitute “Nick Kristof” for “Mike Daisey”, “brothel” for “factory”…you get the picture.

Shifting the Blame (January 26th, 2011)

This story has been pitched by a number of advocates as good news, but my skeptical mind can’t help noticing that the commissioner who said “What activities these victims may have engaged in…does not matter…They were young women whose lives were cut tragically short,“ has been replaced by one who is “on the same page” with the DA who says it was the victims’ fault for being whores:

The Suffolk police…has a new chief who says he plans a fresh look at…the Gilgo Beach murders, and believes more than one killer was responsible…That view is at odds with a single-killer theory that was aired last December by then-Police Commissioner Richard Dormer, setting off an unusual public argument with District Attorney Thomas Spota, who also believes there were multiple killers.  Spota said it’s good that he and Fitzpatrick are “on the same page…Not one detective familiar with the facts of this case believes one person is responsible for these homicides”…

Of course, that’s what they would say since the chief suspect is a cop.  And speaking of serial killers…

Surplus Women (September 27th, 2011)

The FBI suspects a number of serial killers are working as long-haul truckers, the better to cover up their monstrous deeds.”  It looks like they’ve found one:

A 54-year-old truck driver from San Antonio…[named] Kenneth Dunn picked up Stephanie Williams, 43, at a truckstop outside of Dallas in February.  Dunn then fatally beat Williams and dumped her body in an industrial area…about a week later, Dunn was arrested and charged with murder…Police said that five other prostitutes have been found dead in the Lubbock area over the past dozen years…Dunn…hasn’t [yet] been charged in any of them…

Elephant in the Parlor (October 23rd, 2011)

Politicians hiring hookers isn’t news, unless they’re impotent Swedish politicians:

…[A former government] minister…has been convicted for trying to buy sex from a known prostitute…police saw him pick up the woman in his car…[but he] felt that he was being followed, [so] he stopped the car…and let her out…When he found out he was under suspicion for attempting to purchase sex he confessed straight away and was fined 19,200 kronor ($2,814).  Now, however, he denies all allegations.  “I have prostate cancer and it is treated with hormones, which means the sex drive disappears.  I am medically castrated, one could say,” he told Aftonbladet.  Instead, the man claims he was giving the woman a ride home…“The police told me that I could choose between the case being taken to court with all the public exposure that would entail or accept an order of summary punishment…”

Note how, though women are supposedly not targeted by the Swedish Model, the police spy on “known prostitutes” in order to entrap and shake down men.

Bad Fantasy, Good Reality (October 27th, 2011)

Yet another Asian prostitute study confirms what we already know:

Female prostitutes on average earn VND10.6 million per month (over $500) while male prostitutes earn VND6.55 million (over $300), around 2.5 times over the average earning of the group of 20 percent highest income earners in Vietnam…Dr. Nguyen Huu Minh…says that around three fourths of the interviewed prostitutes began …at the age of less than 25; 18 percent of them at the age of 16-18 and around four percent at the age of less than 15…nearly 50 percent…have secondary, high school and university degrees…over 60 percent of the interviewed prostitutes work independently or in a group of friends and acquaintances…Most…said that they became prostitutes because of high income (53 percent)…

Note also that even in one of the poorest countries in the region, very few girls enter the trade at an age below 15…just like everywhere else.

Schadenfreude (November 28th, 2011)

Southeast Asian sex worker rights organizations enjoy making videos to call attention to their mistreatment at the hands of police spurred on by American busybodies; here’s a cute little silent comedy named “Last Rescue in Siam” from the Thai organization EMPOWER.  Enjoy!

Gullible’s Travels (December 27th, 2011)

In the first paragraph of this column I provided a short list of recent media scares; if you’d like more of the same, here’s Gawker’s “Timeline of Moral Panics in the Last Decade”.  Sex trafficking hysteria is conspicuous by its absence; I guess they only wanted scares rather than full-blown panics.

Twice as Interesting (February 11th, 2012)

The prostitute and the stripper who participated in the Ottawa “Human Library” recently published an article in which they take exception to a reporter’s coverage of the program:

…Anthony Furey…balks at “activist agendas” that “turn human beings into stereotypes”…he considers most of the human books to be “of a decidedly fringe flavour”…[and] insists that the…event “fetishizes people’s differences” and argues that “whatever differences there are have more to do with their character…”  [But] as much as we’d like to think that people are judged only by their characters, that is simply not true…for those of us “of a decidedly fringe flavour,” our experiences with stigma and discrimination have shaped our lives.  These are precisely the differences that are important to hear about.  As such, the Human Library is not fetishizing people’s differences, but rather bringing diverse (and in many cases, rarely heard) experiences to light…

Knights Erroneous (March 18th, 2012)

A couple of hours after last Sunday’s column was published, I noticed a huge surge in traffic; as it turns out, Nicholas Kristof had discovered the column and “tweeted” it to his 1.2 million followers, eventually resulting in a new record for visits in one day (3522).  A number of those visitors subscribed, so I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome them and to thank Kristof for all the new readers.  On the same day he published another of his Backpage smear columns, only this time he failed to cover his tracks:

Nicholas D. Kristof…wrote…”Alissa says pimps routinely peddled her on Backpage”…That is not true.  According to Alissa’s court testimony, she was 16 in 2003.  Backpage.com did not exist…in 2003…she…came to the FBI’s attention in August, 2005 [and] was…relocated away from…Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Atlantic City…In the summer of 2005 Backpage.com did not exist in [those cities]…Had Kristof followed any of The New York Times’ standards of journalism, he would have known this.  He could have read the court transcripts…[or] coverage in The Boston Globe…[or even] asked us…Instead, he concocted a story to suit his agenda and then asked his readers to boycott Village Voice Media…

This isn’t the first time Kristof has lied to advance one of his crusades; look for “Feet of Clay”, coming April 5th, for another example from a decade ago.


Coming and Going in That Was the Week That Was (#10) (March 10th, 2012)

The Manhattan district attorney’s office spent five years and hundreds of man-hours spying on Anna Gristina, and for what? “Gristina…is considering pleading guilty to the one charge against her — felony promoting of prostitution.  Even if prosecutors were successful at winning the maximum sentence…2½ years…she’d serve only…a year…before…work release as a nonviolent first offender…”  New York readers, do you really feel this is a valid use of your public funds?  This editorialist doesn’t:  “…See, crimes should have an actual victim. If they don’t, than they don’t make any sense.  Crimes without victims are well, stupid.  They are a waste of resources, tax dollars and waste the freedoms and liberties of the people charged…This prosecution is simply idiotic…

The Sky is Falling! in That Was the Week That Was (#11) (March 17th, 2012)

Last week I reported that a newspaper editor had died while visiting his sugar baby; well, it turns out she wasn’t a sugar baby and he was a total hypocrite:

…The young woman Caldwell visited was a full-time call girl…[who] has been advertising…for three years on a regional website called TNA Board…Since 2000…Caldwell …published at least 16…editorials on prostitution.  “Some people will tell you that prostitution is a victimless crime,” an Oregonian editorial said in 2001.  “They’re wrong…[W]hen you think about it, you realize prostitution isn’t ‘victimless’ even when prostitutes reach the grand old ages of 15 or 17 or 19.”  In 2008, another…editorial linked prostitution to “distress, blight and violence,” and…[in] 2010 [another]…in favor of a city proposal to seize assets…[said] “The embarrassment factor probably doesn’t weigh heavily on pimps…but with johns, it’s a different story.”

Maybe once enough of these lying bastards are exposed, they’ll finally begin to publicly support the rights of women they patronize in private.

One Year Ago Today 

The Soft Weapon” reports on the Village Voice’s debunking of the Schapiro Group, and a Canadian editorial’s comparing sex work to hockey.

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He who fights against monsters should see to it that he does not become a monster in the process.  –  Friedrich Nietzsche

Don Quixote imagined himself a knight errant and set off on a quest to save damsels, defeat villains and right all wrongs.  But since there were neither monsters to slay nor damsels in distress, his madness conjured them out of mundane people and things and he frequently interfered in other people’s business.  Fortunately, everyone else (including his “squire”, Sancho Panza) saw reality as it was, so Quixote’s ability to actually hurt others was minimal.  We have of late been invaded by a veritable army of Quixotes, but unlike their mostly-harmless fictional progenitor these modern knights erroneous have managed to convince much of the world that hotels and brothels are prisons, husbands and businessmen international gangsters and whores pure, victimized damsels to be rescued from a Fate Worse Than Death.

The most famous of these quixotic crusaders is of course Nicholas Kristof, who imagines himself the savior of both whores and passive, childlike brown people everywhere.  He’s well-known for riding in on a nag he imagines to be a charger and “rescuing” girls from brothels with the “help” of local police…who often subject them to abuse the second Kristof rides off to proclaim his latest triumph in the New York Times, just as the servant boy Don Quixote “rescued” was beaten by his master as soon as his “savior” was out of sight.  Dr. Laura Agustín has written a number of articles exposing Kristof; one of the best and most comprehensive of these is “The Soft Side of Imperialism”, published on January 25th.  A month later the same newsletter, Counterpunch, carried another of her essays; this one’s on an academic charlatan named Siddharth Kara, who like Kristof is revered by trafficking fetishists:

It is good luck for Good Men that sex slavery has been identified as a terrible new phenomenon requiring extraordinary actions.  In the chivalric tradition, to rescue a damsel in distress ranked high as a way knights errant could prove themselves, along with slaying dragons and giants.  Nowadays, Nicholas Kristof is only one of a growing number of men seeking attention and praise through the rescue of a new kind of distressed damsel – poorer women called sex slaves.  In this noble quest, women who prefer to sell sex to their other limited options are not consulted but must be saved…

Siddharth Kara, another man seeking saintliness, uses lite  economics – another trendy way to get noticed these days.  His Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery…is not a scholarly work.  Neither based on methodological research nor reflecting knowledge of literature that could give context to the author’s experience, the book reads like the diary of a poverty tourist or the bildungsroman of an unsophisticated man of moral sentiments demonstrating his pain at unfathomable injustices.  This places Kara in the tradition of colonial writers who believed that they were called to testify to the suffering of those not lucky enough to be born into comfortable Western society.  Scholarship is virtually absent from his list of references, whether on migration, trafficking, slavery, feminism, sexualities, criminology, gender, informal-sector labor, or the sex industry and prostitution…Sex Trafficking is touted by anti-slavery and End Demand campaigners as presenting hard data, incisive analysis and up-to-date economics, but it reads more like an account of knight-errantry…

…Kara reads like a bull in a china shop, bumbling into brothels, stressing and sometimes endangering young women, pressing them to provide him with conversation, annoying goons, and throwing money around.  The absence of academic supervision to control his preconceptions, critique his lack of methodology, or check his spin makes one wonder what Columbia University Press thought they were doing publishing it…For a man setting out to report on sex as business he is priggish.  Bothered by old men who ogle young girls, he admits “I felt ashamed to be male”…Exalted sensibility and anachronistic rhetoric further link Kara to nineteenth-century moral crusaders like Josephine Butler, famous for saying if she were a prostitute she would be crying all day.  Kara knows little about present-day migration and mobility.  Meeting a Lithuanian woman in Italy and a Nigerian woman in Bangkok cause him to suspect they were trafficked, as though obtaining travel documents and tickets were too difficult for women to manage alone.  Not finding slaves in the United States, he concludes there must be less demand and therefore less slavery, but also that the United States is “too far away” (from what?), as though contemporary air travel had not rendered distance almost irrelevant…

…Kara is not interested in migration…[or] “trafficking”…preferring slave trading for the movement of people and slavery for the jobs they get.  He claims that slavery is back on a large scale, but his is a cartoon version of master and slave, free of any social complexity and the ambiguities of human interaction…Finally forced to recognize that slavery could sometimes represent “a better life” (p. 199), he is nonetheless blind to the possibility that people in bad situations may be able to exploit them and is obviously ignorant of slavery studies far evolved from abolitionist reductionism.  Slave narratives, slave archaeology, ethnobiology, and historical research all have illuminated social systems in which slaves were not wholly passive nor owners unidimensionally crushing…He claims that “sex slaves” are the best earners for masters because they are sold “literally thousands of times before they are replaced” (p. 24), confusing an owner’s sale of a slave with a slave’s sale of sexual services to customers.  Would he do this if another service were involved, like hairdressing?  If a salon owner buys a slave to be a hairdresser who then sees many customers and produces money for her owner, would Kara say the hairdresser is sold thousands of times?  Or would he see that her labor is sold, albeit unjustly…

Agustín goes into considerable detail about this man’s awesome degree of ignorance, and after reading her article one is forced to wonder if the trafficking fanatics bother to read anything before praising it, or if they automatically pronounce a work “important” and “well-researched” if it generally supports their beliefs.  Kara proclaims that there is little sex slavery in the US, which is certainly true but directly contradicts “trafficking” dogma.  Maybe the fetishists didn’t get that far in the book, or at least assume those they’re preaching to won’t.

Two days later on her own blog Agustín presented her view of recent grandstanding by Ashton Kutcher, another Galahad wannabe whose sexual habits, alas, disqualify him for the role.  Like Kristof he tags along on police raids, but unlike Kristof he doesn’t want to get out of easy driving distance of the nearest Starbuck’s:

Ashton Kutcher is branching out from child sex trafficking and child sex slavery to child pornography, undoubtedly on the advice of publicists who want him associated with all things scarily sexy about children.  This…contributes to the blurring of distinctions amongst people who sell sex, no matter what age they are.  Distinctions are necessary if one would like as many different people as possible to enjoy autonomy and rights, and one would think most people would like that, but alas they don’t when exchanging money for sex is concerned…

Being part of police raids is clearly the In Thing for Rescuers. Nicholas Kristof went giddy over the AK-47s he saw at Somaly Mam’s raid, and Mira Sorvino [is] playing a New York cop-turned-Border-Patrol-agent in a TV mini-series called Human Trafficking…So I am hardly surprised that Ashton asked to tag along on a police raid of pedophile homes in California (if that is really what they were, which is not proven).  But something creepy is getting normalised here:  Celebrities now routinely side with police in order to show their seriousness about trafficking, and, in a circular move, get their knowledge about trafficking from the police.  Ashton won’t have known anything about the people whose homes were invaded except what the cops told him (he wasn’t allowed inside). But he doesn’t have to know more, because this is a publicity stunt…What happened to Hollywood’s historic liberal slant that caused actors and writers to stand up against big government?  Gone with the wind of trafficking.

I was originally planning to present the Kutcher story in “That Was the Week That Was #9”, but Agustín’s analysis was so much more interesting than the rather-dry story I decided to present it as part of this parade of arse-backward “heroes” committed to destroying women’s lives for their own personal glory.

One Year Ago Today

Ching Shih” was an early 19th century whore whose charms and intelligence allowed her to become the most successful pirate in history.

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