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Posts Tagged ‘LGBT rights’

Today is International Whores’ Day.  It is not “Sex Worker Day”; that is March 3rd.  Today is a day to shamelessly celebrate our shameless history, not a day to cater to the precious fee-fees of amateurs by neutering our terminology so as not to offend their delicate sensibilities with a raw, unsanitized word like “whore”.  But for the past several years, I’ve seen a number of sex worker organizations and social media accounts doing just that, and in doing so participating in the same process of sexual sanitization which inspires modern picket-fence gays to absurdly claim that huge fascist corporations and gangs of uniformed thugs employed by the state to inflict violence on sexual minorities are more welcome at an event commemorating an anti-cop riot than kinky queers are.  While the neo-Victorians who dominate 21st-century public discourse

…reject the belief that sex is innately bad, they also believe against all reason and evidence that it’s something like a radioactive material which must be handled with special and elaborate precautions or else it becomes the single most destructive force on Earth.  They imagine that engaging in sex for the “wrong” reasons, or without the benediction of elaborate rituals of consent, or with people separated from one another by more than a very few years of age, is terribly harmful…the desire to describe…sex…as “good” or “bad” is a very strong one, and for the neo-Victorian mind to accept sex into the “good” category it must be ritually purified by amputating all of its darker aspects, branding even the discussion of them as “violence”, and even pretending that they aren’t even sex at all.  This belief flies in the face of reality; sex, fear, dominance and violence are inextricably bound together, and only by living in a state of complete denial can someone pretend that the only valid, “healthy” and legal sex is that which is so sanitized and neutered that it resembles the real thing about as closely as a hamburger does a heifer…

Today is not a day for sanitized words or concepts; it is, in fact, exactly the opposite: a day to fight society’s attempts (via law and police violence) to sanitize the wilder, unrulier, more chthonic aspects of sex.  This is a day for sexual outlaws, not well-behaved “workers”; it is a day to celebrate the triumphs of criminalized human beings against a society that would rather we didn’t exist.  It is a day to oppose censorship, not to engage in self-censorship; a day to honor a means of survival that predates laws and governments by eons; and a day to celebrate a power which will always defeat even the most pernicious attempts to domesticate it.

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We are quicksilver, a fleeting shadow, a distant sound…our home has no boundaries beyond which we cannot pass. We live in music, in a flash of color…we live on the wind and in the sparkle of a star!
–  Endora (Agnes Moorehead)

A couple of years ago I rewatched Bewitched, a show I always enjoyed in my youth but hadn’t seen since the early ’80s.  I’ve always thought Elizabeth Montgomery was an excellent actress, but this time the magic of cannabis (which slows down my hyperactive nervous system so that I can really watch these shows in a way I’ve never been able to before) opened my eyes to just how talented she really was; she could convey so much with just her facial expressions and vocal manner, and her comedic timing was brilliant.  But beyond that, I saw aspects of the show itself that were previously opaque to me.  I’ve always recognized that many of the episodes are veiled commentaries on racism and other forms of bigotry; that was typical of the 1960s, when fantasy and science fiction shows could sneak controversial issues past uptight sponsors and network censors by disguising them as the stuff of alien worlds or magical happenings.  When Samantha angrily denounced ugly witch stereotypes or mortals’ fear of those who are different, the perceptive viewer understood what the show was really saying.  As I grew older, I realized that there was also a more-deeply-buried queer subtext which was too radical even for most contemporary viewers who thought of themselves as liberal:  beside the fact that several of the principals were played by gay men, Samantha had to hide her true nature in order to exist in the judgmental mortal world, and only in the company of other witches could she really be herself.  Furthermore, those mortals were willing to hunt, persecute and even burn those like her merely because they were different.  But queer people weren’t the only sexual minority violently persecuted and actively hunted by 20th-century puritans; while I’m sure it was unintentional, sex workers can also see ourselves reflected in this magic mirror.

When I last watched the show, in my late teens or very early twenties, I naturally identified most with Samantha.  But on this rewatch, I found myself identifying with her mother, Endora, due in part to her age, in part to her unique personal style, and in part to her attitude toward her daughter’s marriage.  I’m old enough to have a daughter in her twenties or early thirties, and I can certainly understand how I’d feel if she married a man I thought wasn’t good enough for her.  But it goes beyond that: the association between sex work and witchcraft is a very old one, and even today many sex workers metaphorically describe our work as “magic” (not to mention the many sex workers who actually do specifically practice witchcraft, though obviously not the fantasy TV variety).  Endora’s chief gripe with her son-in-law isn’t really that he’s mortal; it’s that he wants to rob her beloved daughter of her birthright by forcing her to eschew magic and submit to mortal drudgery.  And every time I heard her say this to Samantha (in quite a few episodes), I imagined how I would feel if my beautiful daughter gave up a successful career in sex work to marry a “dumbo” who demanded she renounce her heritage, shun her whore friends, and work a shitty square job when she could make far more with far less effort by doing what she’s good at instead of letting herself be limited to behavior that doesn’t make dreary, unimaginative authoritarians uncomfortable.

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[The “sex offender” registry] thoroughly ruins someone’s life.
–  Elizabeth Ehret

Elephant in the Parlor

Americans pretend “politician hires whores” is something other than a yawn:

When…Matt Gaetz attended a 2019 GOP fundraiser in Orlando, his date that night was…a paid escort and amateur Instagram model who led a cocaine-fueled party after the event…The Florida congressman’s one-time wingman, Joel Greenberg, will [out] that escort to [busybodies] as one of more than 15 [sex workers] Gaetz [hired]…what distinguishes this woman, Megan Zalonka, is that…Greenberg [moved money around to tip her an extra]…$7,000 to $17,500…Gaetz…has declared that he “never paid for sex” [and] wrote off the stay at the hotel as a campaign expense

“Politician lies” ain’t news, either.

The End of the Beginning 

It’s good to see so many challenges to these medieval laws:

In 1993, when he was 18, Randall Menges had consensual sex with two other teenage boys at a camp in Idaho.  [He] was charged…with “crimes against nature”…and served seven years in prison…[then condemned to] the sex-offender registry…a federal judge in Montana ruled that Mr. Menges’s name should be removed from the…registry…but…the Montana attorney general, Austin Knudsen…said he planned to appeal…because “[laws are more important than people]”…Last September, [attorney] M[atthew] Strugar, along with the A.C.L.U. of Idaho, filed a federal lawsuit challenging Idaho’s law on behalf of Mr. Menges and another man who was forced to register as a sex offender because he was convicted 20 years ago in another state for performing oral sex on his wife…

Torture Chamber

Funny how people die of “undetermined causes” while cops are brutalizing them:

…[two South Carolina screws murdered] Jamal Sutherland, a Black man with mental illness, in jail…[by tas]ing [him] and pepper-spray[ing him multiple times while he cried that]…he couldn’t breathe…The county coroner has [tried to exonerate the screws by blaming]…his [his death on] an “excited state” with unfavorable effects from prescription drugs [rather than the fact that] police [were attacking him with a high-voltage weapon and dangerous toxic chemicals]…Sutherland’s manner of death remains “undetermined,” according to the coroner…[screws] Lindsay Fickett and Brian Houle…were [at first rewarded with paid vacations]…but the…sheriff…[later fired them in response to public outcry]…

Nothing To Be Proud Of

I hope they’re so “disheartened” they go out and find honest work:

Organizers of New York City’s Pride events…are banning [cops] and other [government-sponsored thugs] from marching in their huge annual parade until at least 2025 and will also seek to keep on-duty [cops] a block away from the celebration…“law enforcement…can…be threatening, and at times dangerous, to those in our community who are most often targeted with excessive force and/or without reason”…the Gay Officers Action League said in a release it was disheartened by the decision…and [called] the decision…[to place the safety of cops’ victims above the sadfeelz of cops] “shameful”…

To Molest and Rape (#862) 

Note that politicians took three years to act on doing something about rapist cops:

House [politicians] just passed a bipartisan bill that would make it illegal for federal [pigs, spooks and g-men] to [rape] people…the[y have abducted]…th[us closing the “she wanted it”]…loophole…[which] protect[s rapist cops]…The Closing the Law Enforcement Consent Loophole Act, created by Rep. Jackie Speier…would make it a criminal offense for [pigs, spooks and g-men] to engage in any sexual activity with anyone…while exercising their [police powers]…On the state level, it’s still legal in 34 states for [cops] to [rape] someone in custody [as long as they belch out the magic words “she wanted it” when caught]…

Disaster (#1130)

It’s just going to keep getting worse:

…eBay…has changed its policies regarding what it considers “adult items” effective June 15, completely eliminating the category “Adult Only” for new listings…Items that contain nudity are allowed only if the eBay moderators consider it to be “nude art listings that do not contain sexually suggestive poses or sexual acts” and if they are accordingly categorized and labeled…[however] eBay also…reserves the right to decide what is and is not “art”…The company…somehow decided that vintage copies of only four magazine titles — Playboy, Playgirl, Mayfair and Penthouse — may be listed for sale or auction “as long as the listing does not contain nude images or explicit content.”  All other adult publications are banned…[as are] erotic videos and films…video games with a rating of X, XXX, R18 or unrated…and all “sexually explicit anime, comics, books, films, animation, manga, hentai [and] yaoi”…

To Molest and Rape (#1137)

Imagine a non-cop child rapist getting only three years:

A [typical and representative] Massachusetts [cop]…convicted…of [raping] a child was sentenced…to [less than] three years in prison…Daniel Cintron was convicted in a jury-waived trial of two counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14 and two counts of intimidation of a witness…Cintron has been in [jail] since 2018 when he…rap[ed] three girls.  But a jury in 2019…[said it was OK for him to] rape [kid]s while deadlocking on [mostly clown-costume-related] charges…

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Statists are fond of pretending that the slippery slope is a “fallacy”, because they don’t want you to think about how either legal precedent or human psychology work; as I wrote years ago in “The Devil’s Toys“,

…In the common law tradition, laws are defended from those who would challenge them by arguing precedent: demonstrating that a new law or practice strongly resembles others already in existence which have never been challenged (or better yet, withstood such challenges) constitutes evidence that the new act is also permissible.  But there’s another factor, a psychological and moral one: once people get used to an idea, they’re much more likely to support laws that reflect that attitude…Those who rejoice when a private corporation deletes a writer’s article, and would gloat if she were fired, are already receptive to the idea of censorship; enacting the practice into law and establishing censors to act “on behalf of the public” is only one step further…

In the past decade, we’ve seen so many tyrannies enabled by these mechanisms, there’s very little point in my rehashing them; however, useful idiots being first and foremost idiots, they just keep on cheerleading for face-eating leopards that they believe will never eat their faces, because they either believe or want everyone else to believe that the slippery slope is a “fallacy”.  There is indeed such a thing as a “slippery slope fallacy”, but it’s different from the real principle of tyranny via incremental extension of legal precedent; what makes the difference between the two is what one might call a “conceptual ledge”, a break in the chain of logic that those employing a slippery slope fallacy intentionally gloss over.  The difference is so clear and simple only a fanatic or other victim of dangerously-disordered thinking could miss it:  an example of the real slippery slope is the way that surveillance powers approved for use against “terrorists” were in fact mostly used to persecute people for drugs, while an example of the slippery slope fallacy looks like this:

Any questions?

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Regular readers know that I feel strongly about promoting online resources for sex workers, especially if those resources are owned and operated by sex workers!  I recently met Val on Twitter and asked her if she’d like to introduce my readers to her sex-work-friendly social media site, Lips.  So without further ado:

Hello lovely readers of The Honest Courtesan!  My name is Val, and I am a tech researcher, erotic filmmaker, sex worker activist, and the community manager of Lips, a community-designed social media platform for women, non-binary folks, & the LGBTQIA+ community to express themselves openly & honestly without fear of censorship or harassment.  I am beyond honored that Maggie has entrusted me with this opportunity to introduce myself and Lips to you all today.

Lips began as a print zine on a college campus in 2008, and was founded directly in response to the mainstream media’s representations of female & queer sexuality – often through the paternalistic, patriarchal lens also known as the “male gaze.”  Lips invited folks to mail in (or anonymously drop into a P.O. box) stories, poetry, and artwork for the publication, and over time it grew into a much-needed community-led space for self-expression – including sexuality – that was safe, open and honest.  As the community grew and the zine moved online, it became increasingly apparent just how radical this project was.  The community faced tons of obstacles: internally, it was difficult to combat the shame that society projected and foster self-esteem and self-love, and externally, stigma, whorephobia, digital censorship, and harassment all posed threats to Lips’ existence.  This was when the team came together and decided to build our very own social media platform called Lips.social.  We hosted co-design sessions with groups of artists, sex workers, sexual health and wellness educators, and LGBTQIA+ young people to bring the community’s ideas together for what this app should do and be.  We co-wrote our own Community Guidelines that reflected our community’s values – not the values of the mainstream society we aimed to resist.  And finally, thanks to the generosity of a grant from the Headstream Youth Mental Health Accelerator, we were able to build and launch the first version of the Lips app.  On December 31, 2020, all of the hard work paid off and we welcomed a vibrant community of over 14,000 members into our new little digital paradise.

Of course, we continue to face obstacles like whorephobia, but will always respond with the care and best interests of our community at the forefront.  With Lips, our main mission is to design and build technologies that make the internet a healthier and safer place for marginalized communities – including sex workers.  We do this through:

  • A more nuanced, community-led approach to sexuality moderation
  • UX/UI that protects against harassment and trolls
  • A business model that is directly linked with the economic success of marginalized creators
  • And finally, most excitedly, the co-ownership of our company with the community members!


That’s right!  We are very excited to announce that we are now selling equity in the company to the community, so if you are interested in joining our team and becoming an investor, visit wefunder.com/lips to learn more, and reach out to us at team@lips.social if you have any questions. (Anyone can invest, minimum is $100).  Join us in building a better (digital) world for marginalized communities.

My parting words – Personally, I need Lips to exist because women, non-binary & LGBTQIA+ artists, activists, educators, sex workers, healers, and more have created the kind of body and sex-positive art and experiences that have saved my life and the lives of so many people around me.  So, if you’re still here, thank you for reading this far – you’ve already supported our work – and please become as involved with Lips as you’d like.  Every investment, every share, every new community member counts. Thanks y’all.

XX, Val

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

 

 

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The police department was…dead-set on making sure those records never reached the public.  –  David James

Good Riddance to Bad Rubbish

As usual, police were disinterested in catching him until he started killing non-whores:

The Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe has died at the age of 74. The serial killer was serving a whole life term for murdering 13 women…he…died in hospital where he is said to have refused treatment for Covid-19…Sutcliffe, who was also found guilty of the attempted murder of seven women, was convicted in 1981…His killings began with..Wilma McCann…who[m he] hit with a hammer and stabbed 15 times, in October 1975…Sutcliffe’s [other] victims…[were] Wilma McCann…[in] October 1975…Emily Jackson…[in] January 1976…Irene Richardson…[in] February 1977…Patricia Atkinson…[in] April 1977…Jayne McDonald…[in] June 1977…Jean Jordan…[in] October 1977…Yvonne Pearson…[in] January 1978…Helen Rytka…[in] January 1978…Vera Millward…[in] May 1978…Josephine Whittaker…[in] May 1979…Barbara Leach…[in] September 1979…Marguerite Walls…[in] August 1980…[and] Jacqueline Hill…[in] November 1980…Sutcliffe…believed he was on a “mission from God” to kill prostitutes, although not all of his victims were sex workers….Sutcliffe was interviewed nine times during the course of the investigation but continued to avoid arrest and was able to carry on with his killings…

Like Houses

Useful idiots never see where “hate speech” laws inevitably lead:

[Useful idiots] in Norway are celebrating [what they imagine to be] a huge win after the country recently expanded its penal code…[on] hate speech to include gender identity and all forms of “sexual orientation”…The penal code states that those who are guilty of [wrongspeak] face a fine or up to a year in jail for private comments, and a maximum of three years in jail for public remarks. Furthermore, those charged [wrongthink in conjunction with] with violent crimes…will receive harsher sentences…

To Molest and Rape (#782)

“Police explorer” programs are nothing but grooming schemes for predatory cops:

Louisville Metro Police concealed at least 738,000 records documenting the sexual abuse of Explorer Scouts by two [rapist cops] — then lied to keep the files from the public…The [Louisville] Courier Journal last year requested all records regarding sexual abuse of minors…in the Explorer Scout program [by Brandon Wood and Kenneth Betts]…Police officials and the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office [claimed] they couldn’t comply, insisting all the records had been turned over to the FBI for its investigation.  But that was…[a lie].  In fact, the department still had at least 738,000 records, which the city allowed to be deleted.  The records could shed light on when department and city officials first learned of [the Rape Explorer]…program and what the officials…failed to do…about it…

Suppression

Politicians will not stop until they can censor the internet as they please:

…a single EU court within a single EU member state [has declared itself] the censor for the world…In…September…the Austrian Supreme Court ordered, pursuant to local defamation rules, that Facebook remove a post insulting a [politician]…keep equivalent posts off its site, and do so on a global scale…Facebook complied…[by making] the…post…inaccessible to users within Austria.  But it objected both to the global reach of the order and to the obligation to look for and keep other, equivalent posts off their site…the European Court of Justice sided with Austria…Under current practice,…global tech companies are [only] bound by local laws…within their jurisdiction…Think Germany’s hate-speech laws.  Or particular variants of the right to be forgotten. Or the Thai government’s prohibition on critique of the monarch.  Or Singapore’s limitations on what is deemed “fake news”…Under the Austrian court precedent, courts in any such jurisdiction would be more or less free to apply their local laws to compel not just local, but global takedowns of posts or comments that violate the vagaries (and often highly speech-restrictive) of local law.  And they could also require that copycat and equivalent posts be kept off—also on a global scale.  This creates a…race to the bottom, with the most censor-prone nation setting global speech rules…

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic (#1062)

Blaming bad behavior on an imaginary “addiction” is no better as an accusation than as a defense:

Former Fox News White House correspondent Ed Henry was widely known as a sex addict at the network before he raped a junior staffer, a new lawsuit charges…Fox…fired Henry…shortly before [Jennifer] Eckhart went public with her allegations in July…The suit…states that the network ordered Henry to undergo therapy for sex addiction in 2016 after it was revealed he’d had an affair with a Las Vegas stripper…“Everyone at Fox News knows that Henry is a sex addict. That’s no secret,” Fox Business anchor Liz Claman told Eckhart, according to the suit…

“‘Everyone at Fox News knows Tucker Carlson is a reptilian member of the Illuminati,’ Fox Business anchor Liz Claman told Eckhart…”

(State) Violence Against Women

Biden has a long history of using “violence against women” as an excuse for power grabs that increase state violence against women:

President-elect Joe Biden’s plan to end [un-state-approved] violence against women is long, detailed, and ambitious…but…[i]s conspicuously missing any mention of sex work…Reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, first introduced by Biden in 1990, will be one of Biden’s top first 100 day priorities…a relatively short but important section of the plan outlines Biden’s intent to [censor the internet by]…creating a National Task Force on Online Harassment and Abuse, giving more funding to law enforcement, and support for [more carceral] federal and state legislation [to use against sex workers who adverise online]…experts…have reservations about how this plan will…actually affect…the lives of…sex workers.  Leaving consensual, commercial adult content out of any plan for internet reform would be willfully ignoring how the internet largely works…

The Last Shall Be First (#1078)

Hungarian politicians are as potty-obsessed as their US counterparts:

…[the government of] Hungary…signalled its intention to…change the constitution to enshrine…so-called “Christian values”…The proposed constitutional amendment…is the latest assault on LGBT rights in the country, where legal recognition for gender changes was ended in May.  “Hungary protects children’s right to identify as the sex they were born with”…the amendment states…[it also] would ensure that only heterosexual married couples can adopt children…For years, Viktor Orbán’s government has relied on an anti-migration agenda…and some analysts suggest LGBT people may be the new target.  In Poland, the ruling populist Law and Justice (PiS) party has made the fight against so-called “LGBT ideology” central to its political messaging…The new laws will have to be debated in parliament, but Orbán’s Fidesz party has a two-thirds majority, sufficient to make constitutional amendments…

The Pro-Rape Coalition (#1085)

Is Hollywood finally starting to back off from promoting “sex trafficking” hysteria?

Melissa McCarthy and HBO Max have announced that they’re pulling their support for the evangelical nonprofit Exodus Cry as part of their “20 Days of Kindness” fundraising campaign…“We blew it,” McCarthy said in a video posted to Instagram…“We made a mistake and we backed a charity that upon further vetting stands for everything that we do not”…Exodus Cry frames itself as an anti-sex-trafficking group but in reality works to abolish sex work entirely.  Its founder, Benjamin Nolot, has called abortion a “holocaust” and homosexuality “an unspeakable offense to God”…the group has spent years lobbying to criminalize the purchase of sex and recently launched a campaign to shutter Pornhub…

To Molest and Rape (#1087)

Oh, what a surprise:  “A Harford County grand jury has added 10 counts of child pornography possession to the child sex abuse case against [typical and representative] Baltimore [cop] Donald P. Hildebrandt…

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There is no provision under [Indian] law which makes prostitution per se a criminal offence.  –  Justice Prithviraj Chavan

Elephant in the Parlor

Americans keep pretending “politician hires whores” is something other than a yawn:

Hunter Biden allegedly sent “thousands of dollars” to people who appear to be involved in the sex industry, according to…a…report released by Senate Republicans.  The report claims unspecified records show that Biden “has [paid] non-resident alien women in the United States who are citizens of Russia and Ukraine…some of these transactions are linked to what ‘appears to be an Eastern European prostitution or human trafficking ring’”…Last year…[it was] revealed that a woman who was suing Biden for paternity in Arkansas was a former stripper at a Washington, DC, club that he frequented…

The attempt to make this VEWWY IMPOWTINT by alluding to “sex trafficking” and RUSSIA!!!! just come across as pathetic.  As for the phrase “prostitution or human trafficking ring”, that “or” is doing some mighty heavy lifting; the phrase “Biden is either a human being or a tentacled monster from Tau Ceti” would be equally accurate.

Panopticon (#1001)

The “security” system that isn’t:

…the Ring Always Home Cam, set to be available sometime next year…is…a drone that flies autonomously throughout your home, to provide [anyone with access to your Ring account] the view [they] want of whatever room [they] want, without having to have video cameras installed in multiple locations throughout your house.  The Always Home Cam…can be scheduled to fly preset paths…and it begins recording only once its in flight (the camera lens is actually physically blocked while it’s docked) — both features the company [pretends] will help ensure it operates strictly with privacy in mind.  Always Home Cam is also designed intentionally to produce an audible hum while in use, to alert anyone present that it’s actually moving around and recording [unless it’s used when no human is home]…

Sure, give hackers and cops access to a device that can be activated when you aren’t home to fly around and snoop into your private business.  What could possibly go wrong?

Social Distancing (#1031)

Can you imagine this happening in the puritanical US?

A woman running a[n escort service]…sued the Japanese government [for]…its blanket exclusion of the sex industry from a cash handout programme to support small companies hit by the coronavirus pandemic[, which constitutes] discrimination banned under the country’s constitution…the woman…demanded the payment of the benefits as well as consolation money for having been discriminated against “without reasonable grounds”…When she and other sex business operators met with an official at the Small and Medium Enterprise Agency in June to ask for their companies to be included in the handout programme, the official rejected their request, saying such businesses “have previously been excluded from public support, such as ones following natural disasters”, and that the agency merely “followed the past responses” made by the state…

Against Their Will (#1056) 

The Indian high court’s ruling in action:

Observing that prostitution is no offence under the law, the Bombay high court…set free three sex workers, who were detained [against their will] at a [so-called] hostel in Uttar Pradesh.  The court said an adult woman has the right to choose her vocation and cannot be detained without her consent, and set young women, aged 20, 22 and 23 free.  Justice Prithviraj Chavan said the purpose and the object of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act (PITA), 1956 is not to abolish prostitution…

The Last Shall Be First (#1059)

Politicians’ potty obsession has gone federal:

[Politician] Kelly Loeffler [has] introduced a bill…threatening federal funding to schools that support transgender students…The bill…explicitly state[s] that allowing transgender girls…to compete with [cis]gender [girls] in school sports violates Title IX’s ban on discrimination on the basis of sex in schools…Loeffler’s bill, which says nothing about transgender boys competing in boys’…sports, says that “sex shall be recognized based solely on a person’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth”…Similar legislation passed in Idaho earlier this year, and it was criticized because it allowed anyone to challenge a student athlete’s gender, which would force [her] to undergo DNA tests and “genital exams”…With the bill’s wording vague and federal funding on the line, schools could opt to require genital exams for all female athletes to prove they aren’t transgender…

The Widening Gyre (#1074)

It’s good to see psychologists finally telling the truth about hysteria over “pedophilia”:

Around two years ago…Twitter amended its terms of service to make an explicit allowance for the discussion of sexual attractions towards children, provided that such discussion does not…encourage people to commit sexual offenses against children…I was a signatory of a letter, initiated by the child protection organization Prostasia Foundation, alongside other experts on the prevention of child sexual abuse…who called for such a change…as the current best thinking in the field is that having a place online to connect to other MAPs reduces…social isolation, and therefore reduces the temptation to use the internet to act out on such sexual attractions…The phrase “minor-attracted person” (or “MAP”)…[is intended to cover the full] range of attraction targets…[rather than labeling everything] “pedophilia” [a term which actually only refers to attraction to prepubescent children]…

The Widening Gyre (#1075)

Here’s Elizabeth Nolan Brown on the Blocked and Reported podcast, discussing “the online outrage surrounding the French film Cuties…[and] the broader American sex-trafficking panic that seems to partly explain the reaction…

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Sex workers are not a thought experiment.  –  Kai Cheng

Monsters

Violence against trans people is getting mainstream attention:

The NYPD drone circling over the protest outside the Brooklyn Museum [on June 14th] must have only picked up a sea of white.  That’s the color protestors were asked to wear to rally and march silently in the wake of the deaths of Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells, Riah MiltonTony McDade, and countless other Black trans victims of police brutality and civilian violence.  The event featured speakers from the Okra Project, the Marsha P. Johnson InstituteFor the GworlsGLITS, and Black Trans Femmes in the Arts, as well as the family and loved ones of Layleen Polanco…Many of the people gathered had their own stories of police brutality to tell, but that didn’t stop them from showing up for the Black trans community…

Nothing To Be Proud Of

More queer sex workers are remembering that Pride commemorates a riot:

Sex work gave me a livelihood and autonomy…and…sex workers taught me resilience and self-worth.  Queer “community,” with its endless callouts and purity politics, has never come close to doing that…Maybe you came here expecting a congenial, well-reasoned article patiently defending the virtues of sex work as a profession and politely asking for solidarity.  This isn’t that article.  That article has already been written, several times, by several different authors.  That article should have changed all of your minds already about the fact that sex workers are human beings who deserve basic human rights, but apparently it didn’t, so here we are.  Still criminalized, still stigmatized, still by and large ignored by mainstream “LGBT community,” despite the fact that transfeminine sex workers such as Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera are the reason that we have Pride in the first place.  People love the idea that sex workers need saving.  A lot of money, power, and attention goes into that idea – not to sex workers, but to our would-be saviors…In order to [really help], though, anti-sex work activists and police would have to actually care about sex workers’ actual lives, as opposed to their self-image as Real Life Heroes™ rescuing us from evil human traffickers…

Do Not Tolerate Domestic Violence

Government as domestic abuser is a very useful metaphor:

For ages the Democratic Party and its allies have been actively manipulating leftwardly-inclined Americans away from issues which might inconvenience the powerful — issues like economic justice, anti-imperialism, slashing the military budget, ending government surveillance and police militarization, and actually getting money out of politics…The powerful do not care if you have an abortion. They do not care how many bullets your gun can hold, they do not care if two guys get married or what gender pronouns you use, and they do not care if everyone is a racist or if no one is.  They care about maintaining and expanding their ability to exert control over other people…But…[now] people aren’t just out protesting racism, they’re calling for the complete dismantling of the entire police state…And the nice guy abusers are falling all over themselves to manipulate them back into their cage…Liberal narrative managers manipulated the people into understanding that they are only allowed to care about issues like sexism, LGBT rights, and racism.  The people responded by saying “Okay, well then we demand that you dismantle the entire police state because it is racist.”  Through all the confusion and fog of a lifetime of ingesting establishment propaganda, the people have still managed to find one solid strand of “no” that they know the nice guy abuser can’t actually forbid them from holding onto…

Quiet Genocide

Mainstream Western media are still largely ignoring China’s atrocities in Xinjiang:

…Formally an autonomous region of China, [Xinjiang] is today practically the largest internment camp in the world…Xi [Jinping] instructed the cadres of the Communist Party of China to “show absolutely no mercy” to its Uighur Muslim population.  The regime that now decries any allusion to the genesis of the coronavirus as bigoted then proceeded to describe Islam as a “virus”.  And its prescription for the eradication of this pathogen…was the swift “hospitalisation” of Muslims in indoctrination camps…up to 20 prisoners are packed into every cell.  Heads shaved, hands and feet bound at all times, they are permanently watched by cameras.  Their day begins at 6am and ends after midnight.  Their meals consist of gruel — except on Friday, the holiest day of the week for Muslims, when they are served pork, forbidden by Islam — and they are granted two minutes a day to relieve themselves in a communal bucket.  The remaining hours are devoted to the performance of rituals intended to purge them of their religious and ethnic identity.  They must master Mandarin, the language of their overlords; soak themselves in party propaganda; atone for who they are by confessing to their existence as a crime; and endlessly chant slogans pledging subservience to Han supremacy: I love China! Thank you, Communist Party! I love Xi Jinping!…Inmates are made to sit on chairs embedded with metal spikes, starved, and suspended from ceilings and flogged with electric truncheons; their fingernails are prised with pliers, their skin is pierced with needles, and their bodies are pumped with mysterious medicine.  “Good” behaviour cannot bring relief from this ordeal because it is impossible for the captives to know what defines “good” behaviour…All that stands between the inmates and the torture chamber is the mood of the prison guards…There is no emancipation even in death from the humiliations…in addition to destroying and disfiguring Muslim places of worship, [China] also razes their graves

Silver Lining

My answer to the titular question: “I certainly hope not”:

…the anti-trafficking community has been largely silent on the blossoming conversation on police brutality…While some organizations have put out blanket statements about Black Lives Matter and racism, these…have not addressed the field’s entrenchment with law enforcement, or the use of anti-trafficking to re-brand abusive police forces/tactics and expand the police statecan a field that relies on carceral penalties and approaches even be saved from its pro-police roots?  The history of the anti-trafficking field has revolved around the decision to take social justice problems and apply a criminal justice answer…This decision to…center…law enforcement and criminal justice-based interventions was concretized through legislation which incentivized joint approaches between service providers and law enforcement and primarily defined success as convictions…

Social Distancing (#1031)

The Japanese are much more sensible about sex than Americans:

…nightclubs across Japan are trying to come to terms with in the age of COVID-19, as they roll out a raft of anti-infection measures to shed their newfound notoriety as hotbeds for virus clusters.  The industry [was ready]…for the full lifting [last] Friday of Tokyo’s business closure requests, which…pave[d] the way for host clubs and hostess bars…to officially reopen for the first time in months.  In reality, a number of nightclubs had already resumed business to protect the livelihoods of employees.  But…many parlors [are now] taking a stab at the new safety guidelines issued by the government on how to coexist with the pandemic…

The Cop Myth (#1049)

A Reason interview with Reason alumnus Radley Balko:

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Governments who employ [the Swedish] model know exactly what they’re doing and the harm they cause to [sex] workers.  –  Molly Davis

Scientific Detachment

The death of a rather unusual archivist:

Ralph Whittington [who died on August 6 at age 74] worked at the Library of Congress for 36 years…but he was better known for amassing one of the world’s largest collections of pornography…his collection was…a serious academic undertaking…Everything was catalogued and cross-referenced.  Boxes were carefully labeled with the name of a porn star or a thumbnail description…Whittington spent more than $100,000 on his collection and often accepted donations from heirs…In 1999, Mr. Whittington sold most of his materials to the Museum of Sex, a professionally curated institution in New York.  Before three 16-foot trucks hauled away almost 10,000 items in 848 boxes, his house was packed from floor to ceiling…

Damned If You Don’t

Picket-fence queers claim cops aren’t our enemies:

Police have arrested 26 men for cruising for sex in Washington D.C.’s Meridian Hill Park over the past 12 months…[disguised] cops entrapped the men by soliciting sex acts…Police…[call] the [deceptions] investigations…[and claim they] were prompted by public complaints…But…[in reality] the men arrested were propositioned by [disguised, lying cops]…posing as willing participants in a consensual encounter between adults…

A Procrustean Bed (#600)

Finally, some public skepticism about “diversion courts”:

…hundreds of [arrested] sex workers in Sacramento each year [are coerced under threat into]…a court-administered diversion program [but only if they first plead guilty to whatever bullshit the cops make up.  It should come as no surprise that]…RESET court…originated [from] a cop-founded nonprofit…Diversion courts…have…proliferated around the country…But…there is growing scholarly skepticism about whether…[they] are really as “woke” as their supporters claim….the Sex Workers Project of the Urban Justice Center broadly criticized these programs for a lack of accountability and a surplus of inconsistency.  Sacramento’s RESET court comes up 19 times in the paper…these programs still treat sex workers like criminals, even while telling the public they’re all victims…RESET enrollees must submit to HIV testing; attend health and wellness classes, group and individual counseling and trauma-based therapy; and make at least three monthly court appearances, where Judge Rockwell offers cookies…For completing the program, the women get expunged records…and Starbucks gift cards…

Yes, the “reward” for completing the program is a “free” cup of coffee.

Choke Point (#603) 

I’m skeptical that they wouldn’t hand-wave a sex exemption into this even if it were broader:

A recent ruling by the California Supreme Court is causing a stir among adult business owners…[and sex workers] who have been discriminated against by the global banking system…but misunderstandings may motivate merchants down a legal dead-end…“The ruling was very narrow,” [said] Larry Walters of FirstAmendment.com…“and limited to whether standing to sue can be established by alleging an intent to use the online services, as opposed to actually entering into a contract for services…The court specifically did not rule on whether a plaintiff can sue for discrimination under California law on the basis of occupation”…For adult merchants hoping that litigation over “equality of access to services” based on this announcement might solve…having their banking services revoked…this ruling provides no clear foothold…

Micromanagement (#731)

I’d really like to be wrong once in a while:

New York City detectives questioning a [12-year-old] boy facing a felony charge last year offered him a McDonald’s soda.  When the boy left, they took the straw and tested it for his DNA…[which] was entered into the city’s genetic database.  To have it removed, the [boy’s] family had to petition a court and file an appeal, a process that took more than a year…The city’s DNA database…now has 82,473 genetic profiles, becoming a…potent tool for [the police state]…that operates with [essentially no]…oversight…A growing number of [pig farms] throughout the country…have amassed genetic databases that operate by their own rules, outside of state and federal guidelines…

On the Simultaneous Having and Eating of Cake (#754) 

Will porn companies be the next to face the music for exploiting sex workers?

Mia Khalifa…was…[only] modestly compensated for a brief career that catapulted her into worldwide stardom…[as] the most-searched adult-film star on the planet…[but] she [only] received about $12,000 for about a dozen shoots over three months before she left the industry in early 2015, and never a “penny again”…on Pornhub…she is ranked No. 2 among actor searches…but she does not get any residuals from that site or any others…[in] adult film…there are two options with wildly different compensation paths.  One is the traditional production studio that pays actors as contractors…that is what Khalifa did…another is an independent model that provides a bigger cut and options for residuals…sites such as Pornhub have monetized the infinite loop of the Internet by uploading a stream of videos of actors long after some of them, like Khalifa, have left the business — creating a scenario where adult-film scenes will follow the actors and perhaps outlive them…Three of the top 10 actresses on the site now are either retired or inactive in the business, an industry veteran said, and have little recourse to claim compensation or remove their videos if they are shut out from the revenue…

If Men Were Angels (#864)

“Youth pastors” are as bad as cops:

Paxton Singer…is the youth minister at the Harvest Bible Chapel in Aurora, Illinois.  The church’s bylaws say that…homosexuality and bisexuality are sexual sins…[but] Singer has been making inappropriate advances toward an unnamed 16-year-old boy…Singer also worked at a separate Harvest Bible Chapel campus in Rolling Meadows, Illinois…[w]here…[he] behaved inappropriately toward three other male teens…

Shift in the Wind (#933)

Pro-decrim articles are even common on conservative sites these days:

In a recent National Review story, Madeleine Kearns…claims [decriminalization] “would make a grave problem worse.”  The premise…relies largely on fear tactics, sprinkled with stories of women who have had bad experiences in the sex industry…But she fails to address how keeping prostitution illegal will help solve any of the problems she targets in her story.  Kearns’ solution is [the Swedish model]…but this policy has failed to work in the various countries where it’s been tried and only perpetuates the problems she illustrates…

Torture Chamber (#950)

I hope they get every last cent they’re asking for, plus punitive damages as well:

…taxpayers could be on the hook for more than $200 million in damages from parents who[se]…children were [abused] while in government custody…dozens of families…separated at the border as part of the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy…are now preparing to sue the federal government, including several who[se]…young children were sexually, physically or emotionally abused in federally funded foster care.  With more than 3,000 migrant children [abducted] from their parents at the border in recent years, many lawsuits are expected, potentially totaling in the billions…[they] are represented by grassroots immigration clinics and nonprofit groups, along with some of the country’s most powerful law firms…

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