Posts Tagged ‘Thinking with the Wrong Head’

Sex workers are not able to negotiate…for their rights, or for access to the justice system when their livelihood is a crime.  –  Elizabeth Edwards

Bad Girls 

Men: pay your whores!  Ladies: get the money up front!

Sex workers in…southern Nigeria…have been attacking their customers for failing to pay…Sex workers in Asaba had been increasing their charges and said that they had warned the men.  The men in question claimed that they did not know about the new charges…“They agreed to pay us 8,000 nairas each and…the following morning they were giving us 4,000 nairas as against our bargain and we decided to attack them and beat them mercilessly”…Anabel Onweh said…police…found that the men had been left with their clothes torn and had been forced to drink toilet water…

Lying Down With Dogs

What wonderful company the US is in!

…The police operation that resulted in her arrest was codenamed Model Girl.  An unimaginative choice, but perhaps an indication of whom the police considered their main target…Pamela…was…convicted of working as a prostitute.  She is serving her 18-month sentence at a rehabilitation centre for trafficking victims…on the outskirts of Tirana…There have been several attempts to decriminalise prostitution in Albania but all of them have failed.  Politicians claim public opinion would not support such a change

Thinking With the Wrong Head Null We Need To Talk

Given the activities depicted in the pics, I sincerely doubt they were intended for a woman:

A popular Christian family vlogger has released a video with his wife to explain the X-rated selfies he’s been sending to a woman he met online.  Austin Null and his wife Britt (along with the nonconsensual help of their two young children) make rambling videos about their “adventures” in daily life…like grocery shopping and going to church…They have over 350k subscribers on YouTube.  But their latest video, posted December 30th and titled “WE NEED TO TALK”, takes a decidedly more somber tone.  In it, Austin explains that he’s been having an online affair for the past five months, an admission no doubt tied to the very NSFW nude selfies he’s been sending her that have surfaced online…

A Tale That Grew in the Telling

Fetishist claims that “black holes” are vacuuming up girls in India at a frightening rate; can the sci-fi movie version be far behind?

A girl is reported missing every eight minutes in India.  Approximately 16 million girl children are believed to have been trafficked into the sex trade…In fact, profits from human trafficking have more than tripled over the past 10 years…the lure of becoming a trafficker is the potential of colossal earnings in a context of impunity…the steady rise in the trafficking of girls bears evidence that [prohibitionist laws are]…more cursory than effectual…Missing…[makes grafitti that is claimed to] draw attention to the plight of such girls…that…continue to go missing into the black holes of the bestial underbelly of the society…

Beneath the purple prose are some pretty flagrantly-false claims: a wild guess is not a “fact”, decades in prison for imaginary of exaggerated offenses is nothing like “impunity”, there is zero evidence for a “rise” in anything, laws used to harass sex workers are branded as too weak…either the author is a shameless liar, or she’s absolutely barking mad.

Gingerbread House

“Re-parenting” and “restructuring their normal”.  In other words, “re-education”.

Rejuvenating Women, an Omaha [prohibitionist] organization, wants to purchase a group home and use it to restore the lives of former prostitutes, but it needs [other people’s money]…Last year, Rejuvenating Women ran a restoration home in south Omaha for seven months.  The organization had six visitors, and during that time their rent doubled and they had to close…the group needs a place to help rebuild the lives of women rescued from prostitution, with some 2,000 estimated victims in the state…”A lot of these girls haven’t been parented”…program coordinator McKenzie Motl said…”what we are going to do is re-parenting, restructuring their normal”…It starts with [re-]educating the public that prostitution is sexual slavery.  “They are sold to up to 20 men a day, up to 20 men,” [Julie] Shrader said. “Sold for sex over and over and over”…

“2000 victims”.  In Nebraska.  I picture Shrader moaning that last quote while restructuring herself with a Hitachi.

What the Hell Were You Thinking? (#335)

The UK version of an app which first premiered in Ireland over two years ago:

Matt Haworth…developed the [National Ugly Mugs] app based on the charity’s body of knowledge and feedback from sex workers themselves.  Spreading alerts as quickly as possible is a vital part of the app’s offering…The app checks incoming numbers with its database of rogue punters, and also features a kind of panic button, which workers can press if they feel unsafe…The button can be used to report bad clients, call the police, or log that the worker felt unsafe so NUM can check in with them later to offer services and support.  The app has been tested in Manchester to a positive response, and is currently undergoing a bigger pilot in London…

Subtle Pimping (#401)

If there are so many “sex trafficking victims”, why do they need to keep making up stories about it?

…Chris Bohjalian’s new novel The Guest Room…tackles the white-hot topic of human sex trafficking.  Bohjalian dissects this gruesome global epidemic in a story that starts with a bachelor party…Bohjalian takes us back to Armenia…to tell…how girls…are tricked and forced into becoming sex slaves.  It is a subject getting worldwide attention and this novel will help bring it to the surface…

Some novelists are even declared “sex trafficking experts” on the basis of their BDSM fantasies.

If Men Were Angels

“Youth pastors” are nearly as bad as cops:

A…youth pastor in Anson [Texas] is…out of a job after police say he had an inappropriate relationship with an underage girl in his youth group…Callan Rice…was…fired by Bethel Assembly…after he was caught meeting privately with the girl…Rice had sexual contact with the girl and has confessed to the crime…

Monsters (#442) Joseph Scott Pemberton

U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton was sentenced to six to twelve years in Philippine prison for killing Jennifer Laude, a trans Filipina sex worker, in October 2014.  His sentence was downgraded from the usual 20 to 40 years for homicide…in part because Laude failed to disclose to Pemberton that she was trans…Trans sex workers in Olongapo keep their status secret from service members as a matter of course…The mayor’s office has convened a task force to prevent violent incidents involving trans women and U.S. military service members from occurring in the future, which encourages trans sex workers to disclose their trans status early on.  But, because disclosing would inevitably lose them clients, there’s little sign of meaningful change to the conditions that led to Laude’s death…

Sex Work is Work (#446)

Margaret Corvid  writes on “What a Sex Worker Can Teach You About Working for Yourself“, her main points being “Under-promise and (sometimes) over-deliver“; “You’re the boss! You can fire a shitty client“; “Your time and emotional labor are worth money“; “Get your money first“; and “You’re not a robot.

Amnesty At Last

“…let’s hope some politicians (even in the deeply prohibitionist US) begin to recognize that the wind is shifting, and decide to stand with Amnesty and sex workers as we look toward the future and away from the fear of consensual sex“:

A representative is hoping to pass a bill that would legalize prostitution in New Hampshire for consenting adults…Elizabeth Edwards…said her bill was influenced by an Amnesty International study that supports worldwide [decriminalization] for sex workers…according to House Majority Leader Dick Hinch, strong efforts will be made to be sure the bill doesn’t pass because “society is just not ready for that…We’re going to put a full court press in from the leadership standpoint to make sure that (the bill) doesn’t have a lot of daylight to it,” Hinch said.  [Prohibitionists pretend] legalizing sex work would spread disease, increase violence and encourage sexual predators…

Choke Point (#593) 

Half a dozen credit card networks discriminate in keeping “bad lists” that prohibit the selling of adult-oriented materials, psychic services and paraphernalia such as bongs and hookahs, according to a class-action suit filed..by convenience store operator Abu Maisa [which] alleges that Google, Intuit, Square, Stripe, Flint Mobile and PayPal each incorporate a “bad list” that sets boundaries of what the operator can and can’t sell.  Abu Maisa…has been so handcuffed on the types of products it sells, it can’t even offer Penthouse magazine…for fear…its accounts would be shut…the suit…[notes] that the practice is contrary to California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act [which states that]…all persons are entitled to full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, or services in all business establishments, including both private and public entities…

Bait and Switch (#597)

Until Gay, Inc is ready to throw its full weight behind decriminalization, this will keep happening:

…the Polk County Sheriff’s Department…arrested a total of 95 suspects, including sex workers, their clients, and others…Of the 50 charged with prostitution 4 were specifically identified as “a transgender,” “a transvestite,” or “transsexual”.  In addition to outing the trans status of these individuals, the news release repeatedly misgendered the individuals and published their birth names on the Sheriff’s website.  Despite not having been convicted of a crime, many of these suspect’s places of work, previous legal history and whether they were on public assistance and how much were reported…This kind of shameful, irresponsible policing and reporting is not new in Polk County…The Sheriff seems to take tremendous pride in criminalizing people’s way of survival and publicly degrading them…Unfortunately, Polk County is not alone in using these reprehensible and dangerous tactics…In Illinois, for example, the Cook County Sheriff Office was called out in 2012 for outing transgender women online and listing them as “johns” after their arrests for solicitation, apparently based on the fact that their ID listed them as male…

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There’s no such thing as a war on sex work without a war on sex workers.  –  Frédérique Chabot

The Going Rate

This article’s dick-strokingly lurid descriptions of stings make it really unpleasant to read, but it did call my attention to this chart from The Economist that I somehow missed last year:hourly rate

Thinking With the Wrong Head

While staking out a hotel room suspected of hosting prostitution activity, local police observed Mason [Ohio] Councilman Rich Cox entering and, about 15 minutes later, leaving.  Surprise, surprise, Mason Police Chief Ron Ferrell said he does not expect charges to be filed against Councilman Cox…somehow I suspect that not everyone in Cox’s circumstances would get such fair treatment from the city police…the councilman offered up an astoundingly far-fetched explanation for what he was doing at the hotel…[he said that] “he visited the [hotel]…to pass a note to a Chinese woman whose father he met at a nearby Verizon Wireless store…[because] the man’s car was broken down“…

Down Under

In the US, this would be called a “trafficking circuit”, Queenstown would be called a “hub” and the reporter would interview cops talking about how “pimps” make all the arrangements because women are too stupid to do that for ourselves.  But in New Zealand:

Queenstown is the adventure sport capital of New Zealand.  But as the tourist numbers swell during the ski season, so do the stag parties, boy’s weekends, corporate retreats, and international business meetings.  As a result, the city has developed a largely hidden yet hugely profitable sex industry…Jasmine tours New Zealand’s South Island throughout the year, but spends most of her time in the mountain town…she is one of the longest-staying sex workers in Queenstown. “Most of the girls book a room for about five days,” explained Alice, a receptionist at a bustling motel in town.  “Jasmine stays for longer because she’s so busy”…July to October and December to March [are] the busiest periods.  The seasons on either side are so dead that girls working in strip clubs can make as little as $50 a night, and escorts…often make nothing at all.  During this time, Jasmine drives to towns like Nelson, where she…has regular customers who guarantee her income…The women say the quiet months are worth it though, as they more than make up for it during the busy ski season…

Rooted in Racism

As I’ve pointed out many times, “sex trafficking” is often a cover for xenophobia:

Bad enough that they’re isolated by race, culture and language and, worse, stigmatized by a false human trafficking narrative, but they’re also endangered unjustly by the Harper government’s anti-prostitution laws.  Now those working legally in Canada say they’re being further victimized, dealing with constant police harassment, illegal detention and invasion of privacy…Elene Lam…is the face of Butterfly, the Asian and Migrant Sex Workers Network, established last fall to advocate for the rights of Asian women in the trade.  The group’s mission includes countering the myths that…have been perpetuated by the…”rescue industry”…even before the new law was introduced, police had been intimidating legal sex workers…in…operation…Northern Spotlight, plainclothes officers…posed as clients and…bullied [sex workers] as they pretended to rescue them.  For Asian sex workers, who may not speak English and have no reason to trust police, these recent warrant-less incursions into their homes and workplaces are especially frightening…

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic

How many times will we have to say this?

A new study out of the University of California Los Angeles suggests porn addiction does not exist.  Researchers found that people who said they had trouble controlling their consumption of pornography did not show a typical addiction response to sexual images.  With addiction, increased brain activity is expected in response to relevant stimuli—heroin in the case of a drug addict, for example.  But the porn study’s participants showed decreased brain activity in response to pornography…This builds on a previous study conducted by the same researchers in which they found no connection between the extent of participants’ pornography problems and their brain responses to sexual images…

Above the Law 

A South Florida cop is accused of pulling a lesbian couple over [without even a pretext], taking one of them into custody and ordering her to undress as he rubbed his penis…”[He asked me] how do I have intercourse, and I told him, ‘Why do I need to answer that? Why is that necessary?’ He insisted me to answer it”…the [17-year-old] victim said.  “After, he asked if I was a virgin…[and] if if I had any diseases”…The woman explained that she…followed the officer’s orders out of fear…[and] believed that she was going to be raped…[when she protested he] said “Oh, I thought you wanted to fuck”…The cop…has been identified as…Jesus Menocal, Jr., the son of a recently retired police chief…who was caught on video during the 1980s plotting a cocaine rip-off…Menocal’s grandmother…said there was no way he would order a female to strip because he was once named “officer of the year”…

Imagination Pinned Down

Here’s another excellent example of stereotypic conformation:

They pimped me for a while, six months or so…Later on, I was trafficked by other men…Pimps are very good at torture, they’re very good at manipulation…When people describe prostitution as being something that is glamorous, elegant, like in the story of Pretty Woman, well that doesn’t come close to it.  A prostitute might sleep with five strangers a day…These are not relationships, no-one’s bringing me any flowers here, trust me on that.  They’re using my body like a toilet.  And the johns – the clients – are violent. I’ve been shot five times, stabbed 13 times.  I don’t know why those men attacked me, all I know is that society made it comfortable for them to do so…on 1 April 1997, when I was nearly 40 years old, a customer threw me out of his car.  My dress got caught in the door and he dragged me six blocks along the ground, tearing all the skin off my face and the side of my body.  I went to the County Hospital in Chicago…emergency room…they gave me a bus pass to go to a place called Genesis House, which was run by an awesome Englishwoman named Edwina Gateley, who became a great hero and mentor for me.  She helped me turn my life around…I stayed almost two years…

I believe that Powell was a streetwalker, and even that she had a few bad pimps; what reveals her story as propaganda is its absolutism.  All the pimps were evil and controlling, though in real life more than half aren’t; all the clients are abusive and “used her body like a toilet” (a classic prohibitionist slur); all sex work is equated with street work, though every street worker I’ve ever spoken to knows that isn’t so.  And of course there’s the classic car-dragging tale; let Powell produce her medical records (it should be easy enough, given that she knows the exact date and hospital) and I’ll believe her.  Otherwise, I call bullshit; it’s pretty obvious that part of her two-year stay at Genesis House was the usual prohibitionist brainwashing sessions, including lessons in “reframing experiences”.

On the Simultaneous Having and Eating of Cake 

I don’t expect to see any of these strip club “contractor” lawsuits go any other way now; what makes this one noteworthy is that it includes SWOP:

…while working at Scarlett’s Cabaret in Pembroke Park [Florida, Adonay Encarnacion]…got fed up.  Her frustration fueled a fight that could now result in a $6 million settlement, after a collective action involving 4,709 dancers who worked at three Scarlett’s cabarets.  “They treated us like employees when it was convenient to them and like independent contractors when it was convenient to them…If they were going to treat us like employees, then they needed to be paying us minimum wage and overtime”…Katherine Koster works for the Sex Workers Outreach Project, an organization that advocates for the human rights of sex workers and aims to raise awareness on the negative impact of their criminal status in the U.S…”Disorganized labor markets are fertile ground for the sort of labor practices that victimize  low-income and marginalized female workers,” Koster said.  “Most of them…just don’t really know that they have rights”…


Though the feminist jargon is a bit too thick, the central tenets are valid:

…I believe that the eroticization of trans bodies and the resulting homophobia from the rejection of that body are the primary drivers of many instances of…anti-transgender violence…Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s claim in…Rolling Stone that…“no community living in America today is as openly terrorized as transgender women” is correct…questioning of a trans woman’s gender identity leads the questioner to their subjective identification of a trans woman as a man.  If the questioner is a heterosexual cisgender man, the reaction that follows the initial eroticization is one of visceral disgust as he sexually rejects the “man” he sees in the trans woman’s place.  The transphobia and anti-transgender violence that follows are inherently political acts, meant to discipline the trans woman for attracting the male gaze in the first place…eros to thanatos, lust into vengeful rage…

Subtle Pimping (#330)

A different kind of “video game” designed to profit from sex workers (and in this case, our clients) without giving us anything in return.  This one’s especially revolting for its badge-licking subtext, but there are many in the genre.

Paint By Numbers

“Fighting sex trafficking” by standing on lawns is so passé:

Two men [are] on a cross-country bike ride…to bring awareness about a serious issue…Mike Rutter and George Cook…started…in Santa Monica California on May 24…When it gets tough, Cook says they think about why they are riding.  “The more uncomfortable the day, the more we realize about the discomfort of the girls being human trafficked and sexually exploited,” said Cook…It’s part of Bright Hope’s “Break the Chains Cycling Tour”…Rutter [said] “It’s like a mission.  I feel like a Navy Seal…The girls we are trying to do this for, they don’t have a choice what’s happening to them that day so we’re going to plow ahead”…

Sex Rays

Imagine any other profession in place of “stripper” and you may get an inkling of how stupid this kind of story looks to sex workers:

…a woman…[climbed] the flagpole at the South Carolina Statehouse…removed the Confederate flag, and then returned to the ground where she was [arrested]…Many believe that Bree Newsome was courageous for her act…however someone who claims to know her stated that she did it all for fame and to show off her ex-stripper skills…

Surplus Women (#550) 

What kind of warped mind sees arresting potential victims as a solution to dealing with a serial killer?  “Police in [Chillicothe] Ohio…have announced a crackdown on drugs and prostitution…[as] part of a larger investigation centered on several drug-addicted women who went missing…

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Do we really need to create a black market for burgers and fries?  –  Jeff Stier

Coming and Going

Texas is finally beginning to realize that it has better ways to spend millions per year than locking up whores:

…a 2001 Texas law…allowed prosecutors to charge prostitutes with a felony…after three misdemeanor prostitution convictions…but now, with more than 350 prostitutes…occupying bunks in the state prison system, and dozens more serving time for drug and theft charges…questions are being raised about…the…waste of money.  For about one-fourth the cost, such nonviolent, low-level criminals could be rehabilitated in community-based programs aimed at curing their addictions to alcohol and drugs…

The tone of the article can be judged by the fact that it describes Melissa Farley as “a recognized national expert on prostitution.”  This Agitator guest post on the subject by Eric Sterling of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition is far more satisfying:

…Consider the utterly unseemly entrapment of women by members of a vice squad.  Think of the state of mind of the undercover police officer doing this work.  Actually don’t think on this too long, it is disgusting…Assume that many prostitutes don’t like the work.  So what?  I know lots of lawyers who don’t like the work, too — renting their mind for thousands of hours a year for clients they find disgusting…Why do we judge this work to be illegal, other than on the basis of legal tradition?  How are these women…[their] families…[or] society benefited by sending prostitutes to prison?  How are their…employment prospects improved by arresting them?…

Thinking With the Wrong Head

Actually, I do believe they’re telling the truth; pathetic attempts to get it for free aren’t Vitter’s style:

Sen. David Vitter’s spokesman…denied the Louisiana Republican was responsible for sending and quickly deleting a message from the senator’s official Twitter account to a young woman…Joel DiGrado [said]…Vitter “never personally tweets — in fact, he doesn’t even have the Twitter account set up on his Blackberry…The only explanation would seem to be an inadvertent staff button hit, perhaps related to the fact that, at various times the senator’s account has automatically followed whoever follows his account”…

Hark, Hark, the Dogs Do Bark

Second sign that a human behavior is natural rather than cultural:  it’s observed in other primate species:

When offered the choice of playing with either a doll or a toy truck, girls will typically pick the doll and boys will opt for the truck.  This isn’t just because society encourages girls to be nurturing and boys to be active, as people once thought.  In experiments, male adolescent monkeys also prefer to play with wheeled vehicles while the females prefer dolls — and their societies say nothing on the matter.  The monkey research, conducted with two different species in 2002 and 2008, strongly suggested a biological explanation for children’s toy preferences…

The article goes on to discuss other studies which demonstrate that infant testosterone levels correlate with the amount of time they spend looking at balls or trucks vs. dolls, and even baby girls exposed to abnormally-high androgen levels in utero (a condition called congenital adrenal hyperplasia) prefer the “male-typical” toys.

Thou Shalt Not

Clearly, prohibitionism is a kind of mental illness:

…Deborah Cohen…suggests that some of the policies we use to control alcohol consumption could help beat back obesity.  “People realized…that alcohol was a problem…so they developed all kinds of regulations to make it less convenient…Perhaps now it’s time to rein in our easy access to food,” Cohen said…[measures] could include warning labels for foods high in fat and sugar, or maybe restrictions on where in the grocery store foods are displayed to curb impulse buying…Cohen [also] likes New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposal to ban the sale of large-sized sugary drinks…


There’s nothing wrong with this in theory, but it will take much more than a week to have any effect:

The female wing of a civil rights group is urging women in Togo to stage a week-long sex strike to demand the resignation of the country’s president…Isabelle Ameganvi, leader of the women’s wing of the group Let’s Save Togo…said…her group is following the example of Liberia’s women, who used a sex strike in 2003 to campaign for peace…

The Rape Question

A Swedish booklet from 2007 (described in Oscar Swartz’  A Brief History of Swedish Sex) helpfully explains that begging equals rape:

…The…144 page booklet…gave a message that could not be misunderstood:  Girls should always and only think of themselves…[and] boys…should only think of the girl and her emotions and wishes and never of themselves.  Girls are encouraged to put on provocative clothing, drink, flirt, fool around, join boys from the pub, lie down in their bed, excite them – but at the last second say no.  She must never question whether…[it is OK] to act in such ways, since it is her legal right…If something did not feel good, girls are reassured that they must report their boyfriends, dates or lovers to the police…“If sex is achieved through begging and pleading…then it is rape”, says…psycho-therapist Monica Mardell…

In other words, if a Swedish man does anything other than mutely and passively submit to a woman’s sexual advances, he is a rapist.

Feet of Clay

Welcome to our world, chemists:

Last May, Deborah Blum…published a column pleading with…Nick Kristof to stop writing about chemical risk…[now] Kristof is at it again, [claiming]…“Big Chem” is preventing the Federal Government from protecting Americans from dangerous, endocrine disrupting chemicals…it appears that [Kristof] only reads [research] produced by a very, very small group of scientists – all on the farthest reaches of the environmental left.  He applies no statistical or experimental criticism to these studies:  they always “really” find what they claim to have found; and he seems unaware of the many non-industry funded studies or regulatory agency assessments that contradict them…

Naked Truth

If you’re anything like me, one Kristof-bashing session is never enough; so, here’s Melissa Gira Grant in Jacobin:

…“True, many of the prostitution ads on Backpage are placed by adult women acting on their own without coercion,” writesprofessional prostitute savior Nicholas Kristof.  But, he continues…“they’re not my concern.”  He would like us to join him in separating women into those who chose prostitution and those who were forced into it; those who view it as business and those who view it as exploitation; those who are workers and those who are victims; those who are irremediable and those who can be saved.  These categories…fail to explain the reality of one woman’s work, let alone a class of women’s labor…But happy hookers, says Kristof, don’t despair, this isn’t about women like you – we don’t really mean to put you out of work.  Never mind that shutting down the businesses people in the sex trade depend on for safety and survival only exposes all of them to danger and poverty, no matter how much choice they have…


A Tale That Grew in the Telling in October Updates (Part Three)

The claims of “sex trafficking” fanatics get more outlandish all the time:

The Internet has created the golden age of the sex industry.  It’s an $87 million a day business and it’s growing…Working in the commercial sex industry is the most dangerous job in the world.  Most of us think we understand the business of sex:  what it is and what (if anything) should be done to control it.  But the reality is complex and sinister.  Caught up in it are young men and women who are trafficked…Some opt in by choice.  But most don’t.  Unsuspecting victims fall prey to the elaborate schemes of predatory pimps who…know that a girl can generate upwards of $300,000 a year…

For perspective:  I used to work 12 hours a day, seven days a week, and I owned an escort service in addition to my own work, yet I still never made $300,000 in one year.  In fact, I think that all the living whores who can reliably exceed that every year could comfortably fit in my house.  But I guess for a mind stupid enough to believe that a hooker can see 50 men a night, $300,000 a year is quite reasonable.

The Crumbling Dam in TW3 (#20)

All over Canada, support for decriminalization continues to grow:

Giving the children of Vancouver’s missing women financial compensation and decriminalizing sex work, heroin and cocaine are just some of 37 recommendations set out by a new Missing Women inquiry report…the Independent Counsel recommendations detail a comprehensive list aimed at stopping another serial killer from preying on marginalized sex workers…“At the core of the difficulty is a set of police attitudes that are influenced by the unlawful status of sex work and drug use,” said the report’s author, lawyer Jason Gratl…“Sex workers and drug users are afraid to approach police because they fear persecution and arrest, even if they’re victims of serious physical or sexual crimes.”  When investigating the missing women, police rarely interviewed victims’ friends or family because…[they believed] the sex workers didn’t have friends or neighbours…

Reading Between the Lines in TW3 (#26)

Oklahoma City police joined with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and the FBI to arrest 44 people in a prostitution and human trafficking sting.  The arrests include people accused of prostituting themselves, aiding a prostitute and soliciting the services of a prostitute. This is part of an ongoing nationwide investigation into human trafficking called Operation Cross Country…”  Total number of minors or “trafficked persons” arrested:  zero.

The Pro-Rape Coalition in TW3 (#30)

This was already a done deal, but now it’s official:

A Monday press release from faith-based advocacy group Morality in Media celebrates the Republican Party’s platform as now targeting all…pornography, not just illegal child pornography…“Distribution of obscene or hardcore pornography on the Internet is a violation of current federal law,” explained MIM’s President Patrick A. Trueman.  “Yet, most children in America have free access to obscene pornography as soon as they learn how to use a computer.  The average age of first exposure to obscene Internet pornography is now eleven.”  Trueman also suggested that…the federal government should police “obscenity,” not only…on the Internet, but also on hotel…TVs, cable or satellite television, and in retail shops…

Eleven as the average age of first exposure to the sex industry…now, where have I heard that before?

The Course of a Disease in TW3 (#31)

Apparently, prohibitionists have a very weird idea of what words like “support” and “help” mean, and have learned absolutely nothing from the catastrophic failure of the “War on Drugs”:

A new poll…has indicated that only 20 percent of the Danish population supports the government’s proposal to outlaw sex purchases, while a full 67 percent…are against it…But despite [this] politicians like Rasmus Horn Langhoff…contend that it must be done in order to support the women in the sex industry.  “…We must send a clear message that it is not okay to buy sex because of how negative it is for the women,” Langhoff [said]…“If we target the customers then we help the prostitutes who don’t need to go underground”…But…law group Gadejuristen (the Street Lawyer)…painted a…different picture.  “It’s completely wrong if you think that you can solve serious social issues by criminalising them.  Doing this will only worsen the situation,” [said] Nanna Gottfredsen…“You push the sex workers further into a grey zone.  They will hide themselves and their activities and social workers will no longer be able to contact those in need of help.”

This Week in 2011

Maslow’s Hammer; the inevitability of Nature getting her way; the counterfeit comfort of “sex offender” registries; how reality can only be fit into simplistic belief systems by ignoring most of it; questions on polyamory, penis size and racial preferenceslanguage patterns of New Orleans; and Michael Weinstein’s campaign to turn porn movies into commercials for his product.

This Week in 2010

Several of my most unusual calls and my favorite New Orleans eateries; three columns about very special girls who touched my heart; the original “sex trafficking” hysteria of a century ago; and my first column on the “condoms in porn” controversy.

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A priest, a rabbi and a leprechaun walk into a bar.  The leprechaun looks around and says, “Begorrah, I’m in the wrong joke!”

The prefix “meta” means “after” or “beyond”, sometimes in the sense of a recursive function; for example, “metacognition” means “thinking about thinking” and a “meta-joke” is a joke about jokes.  A “metaupdate” is therefore an update of another update, in this case items which have appeared in previous update columns.  I’m going to organize these in chronological order of the updates, rather than the order of the original columns the updates reference.

Think of the Children! in Further Developments (November 18th, 2011)

Child Cultists apparently believe that sexually-active adults emit invisible “sex rays”, and that if any of that sex wasn’t entirely vanilla the intensity of those “sex rays” increases exponentially and never, ever fades away.  Therefore no such person, no matter how long ago she committed these dreaded acts, can ever again be allowed with 10 meters of children lest her pervy emanations induce the dreaded “premature sexualization”, which might {Gasp!} cause innocent children to have sexual thoughts or feelings at some point before the magical Advent of Shazam at exactly midnight on their 18th birthdays.

That was in reference to outcry over former porn star Sasha Grey’s presuming to actually read to children in a volunteer program.  Though she was initially accepted by administrators, they now seem to believe that sex rays can even contaminate the money handled by harlots, and magically seep from bank accounts into educational programs, thence to schools and into the brains of poor, innocent little soap-bubble urchins:

…being deep in the red isn’t deterring one [educational] group from publicly rejecting money [from]…former adult film star Sasha Grey…Although she retired…last April, one of Grey’s scenes is featured [apparently without Grey’s consent] in adult film “Anal Artists,” set to debut this week…In support of her “recent efforts to expose children to the world of literature,” Assence Films will donate a portion of the film’s proceeds to the National Education Association’s Read Across America program…But…NEA officials said…”Sasha Grey is not affiliated with the…program nor has she been invited or endorsed…to read at any…events, and NEA will not accept any proceeds from…any of her films”…Howard Levine of Exile Distribution …[said this] is discriminatory.  “Anyone that’s supporting reading and helping kids and donating money to their cause should be accepted…they’re trying to be politically correct”…

I’ve got news for the NEA; if money which has paid for sex work is “contaminated” then every child in the country is already affected, because the money earned by sex workers of all types flows into local economies just like everyone else’s does.  It is virtually a statistical certainty that some of the money you’ve given your kids this month as allowance or whatever was paid to a sex worker at some point between leaving the mint and ending up in your hands.  If our money is “dirty”, then every church and school in the world is hopelessly polluted by our “sin” because they’re all supported by money we’ve handled or even directly contributed.

A Moral Cancer in That Was the Week That Was (#2) (February 5th, 2012)

Actually, this is a double meta-update; remember the “bacon causes cancer” scare story?  Well, it turns out that it was not only inconclusive, but promoted by a radical animal rights group of the same ilk as the PCRM, which I discussed in That Was the Week That Was (#3):

Link between eating processed meat [such as bacon or sausages] and pancreatic cancer in Swedish research is bogus and paid for by animal rights groups…But the…World Cancer Research Fund suggested the link may be down to obesity…Prof Susanna Larsson, who conducted the study at the Karolinska Institute, [said] links to…cancers [other than bowel cancer] were “quite controversial”…

As JunkScience.com pointed out, “This is a meta-analysis of 11 studies, none of which…link processed meat-eating with pancreatic cancer.  So 11 x 0 = zero.”

The Camel’s Nose in That Was the Week That Was (#5) (February 18th, 2012)

The disgusting saga of Mark Berndt, the third-grade teacher who fed his semen to children for years and documented it with photos, just keeps getting worse.  The original story broke on January 11th, then on February 3rd a second teacher from the same school was arrested:

…The arrest of Miramonte Elementary School [second-grade] teacher Martin Bernard Springer, 49, came three days after L.A. prosecutors accused former teacher Mark Berndt of bizarre acts in his classroom …The allegations against Springer…come from two students he allegedly touched improperly within the last three years…Springer was ordered out of his classroom Thursday morning…Authorities are looking for other potential victims in both cases as well as past episodes of possible misconduct…Supt. John Deasy said he wants to fire Springer as soon as next Tuesday, when the Board of Education will discuss the case in closed session…At the same meeting, Deasy said, he also will urge the board to fire Hamilton High music teacher Vance Miller…[after] two former students, now adults…accused Miller of having sexual relationships with them…

By Monday, the district had decided on a scorched-earth policy instead:

…Los Angeles school officials said they will temporarily replace the entire staff of an elementary school…where two teachers have been accused of lewd acts…Supt. John Deasy announced the action at a tense public meeting…in which…parents chanted “cover-up!” and accused the school system of failing to protect their children…More than a quarter of the students enrolled at Miramonte didn’t show up Monday as parents kept them home…Officials emphasized that no other educators at the school are under suspicion but that a bold act was needed…Many, maybe all, of the current Miramonte staff will be returned to the school eventually…In the interim, their places will be filled by teachers and other workers on a rehiring list.  The Miramonte staff will continue to be paid…Once students return, each will be interviewed by the district, and a psychiatric social worker will be present in every classroom, Deasy said…

So much for not traumatizing the kids.  I can’t even begin to imagine how much a social worker in every classroom will cost, but obviously the district has plenty of money:

The Los Angeles Unified School District paid Mark Berndt…$40,000 to drop the challenge to his dismissal last year.  The payout consisted of four months of back salary plus reimbursement for the cost of health benefits.  Berndt was fired by the Board of Education in February 2011…but…fought to keep his job…until he settled with the school system and resigned in June…counsel David Holmquist [said]…”We were told we could not do any investigation” to avoid interfering with a law enforcement probe…”We didn’t have any evidence, and we couldn’t put on any witnesses.  We didn’t have anything to successfully defend a challenge.”

The cops are still being proprietary about the whole thing, and on the 18th told the parents to butt out:

The investigation into a former third-grade teacher…could be hampered by the flood of civil cases related to the scandal and public statements made by alleged victims, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s detectives…Since the charges were announced, civil attorneys say they are representing more than 60 victims…Earlier this week two alleged victims appeared with their attorney on the “Dr. Phil” television show.  “The lawyers are making it that much more difficult,” [said] William McSweeney, chief of detectives…”It is going to raise issues of credibility.”  The civil attorneys have made claims about Berndt that are not contained in the original charges, including some accusations…that Berndt fed the alleged victims cookies with his semen on them…Detectives are still investigating and are urging families to contact the Sheriff’s Department before seeking private counsel.

I’m glad the cops get to see how it feels to have outsiders interfering with their work for a change.

One Year Ago Today (Meta-edition)

Thinking with the Wrong Head”  discussed Chris Lee, the congressman who stupidly documented his indiscretions with photos.  Well, here’s another example of the same syndrome, this time from Arizona:

…well-known border hawk Sheriff Paul Babeu, who’s now running for Congress in Arizona, was…[accused by] a Mexican immigrant who said he dated the sheriff for years and was threatened with deportation if he ever told anyone about their romance. The Phoenix New Times…broke the story on its website…complete with text messages…[and] compromising photos…reminiscent of recent sex scandals that ended the careers of Congressmen Anthony Weiner and Chris Lee…The New Times identified the accuser only by his first name, José…he met Babeu through the dating website gay.com in 2006…Babeu was a police officer in the Phoenix suburb of Chandler at the time and was elected as sheriff of Pinal County in late 2008… José volunteered for Babeu’s campaign, maintaining his websites and social media accounts…They were apparently together during Babeu’s fast rise to becoming a national figure in the fight against illegal immigration…[but] their relationship went sour…when [José] began to suspect that Babeu was using a website for casual hookups…

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It is the fundamental theory of all the more recent American law…that the average citizen is half-witted, and hence not to be trusted to either his own devices or his own thoughts.  –  H.L. Mencken

Our monthly roundup of short news stories that remind me of past columns.

Lack of Evidence (December 16th, 2010)

In this column I wrote that in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina,

…winking is evidence of prostitution.  In Detroit, not wearing a bra and/or panties serves a similar function, and in many places it’s having more than one condom in one’s purse.  And for a woman to appear alone on a street has been used as evidence since the beginning of prohibition over a century ago.  Cops are not allowed such ridiculous excuses for “evidence” for any other “crime”, so why are they allowed it for prostitution?  It’s because it is the only human activity which is legal to perform for free but not for directly-negotiated pay, so physical evidence is impossible.  There is no body, no stolen goods, no bruises; even DNA evidence recovered from a hooker’s skin could only suggest sex had occurred, not prostitution.

Most of the time, they just lie about what happened or label cell phones “criminal tools”, but some of them go to quite extraordinary lengths, as reported in The Smoking Gun on September 15th:

Undercover vice squad officers routinely come into contact with skeptical prostitutes wary that their prospective john may actually be a police officer.  So, before discussing business, a hooker will often ask the purported sex-seeker to first expose himself, since that is a no-no for a cop.  Anticipating this demand, a Florida detective “attempting to solicit prostitutes” last night hit the Sarasota streets with a “flaccid rubber replica of a penis” stuffed into his pants…when the detective asked [a woman he picked up] how much it would cost for oral sex, the woman was noncommittal…“I then exposed a flaccid rubber replica of a penis and placed a condom on it,” wrote Smith.  “She immediately leaned over and put it into her mouth.”  At this point…[the cop] spotted an opossum crossing the road and slammed on the brakes, “causing the female to slide out of her seat and mildly into the dashboard.”  The report does not make clear whether she still had Smith’s sheathed fake penis in her mouth at the time…

Despite the known tendency of Sarasota cops to lie about vice operations, Florida is obviously stricter than states like Pennsylvania, where cops are allowed to get as naked as they like or even rape women before arresting them.  But this ridiculous dildo dodge proves nothing except that a pervert cop had a sex toy in his car (big surprise).  I hope she sues him for the head injury as the other Florida woman who was tased and beaten by cops is doing.

Thinking with the Wrong Head (March 2nd, 2011)

Nearly every politician sees whores, and practically none of them get caught because they have the sense to hire them from a discreet agency rather than trolling Craigslist like Chris Lee or cruising for streetwalkers like Kenneth Maag, the (now former) Mayor of Ottawa, Ohio:

Kenneth Maag resigned as the Mayor of Ottawa [Ohio] two weeks after his arrest on charges of soliciting prostitution…Maag also asked that his name be removed from the ballot in the upcoming election…[in which he] was running unopposed.  Maag was arrested on [August 29th] …during a prostitution sting…[and] charged with solicitation for prostitution, a third degree misdemeanor…

CORRECTION, 10/5/11:  I originally missed that this was a story from a city in Ohio and presumed it was Ottawa, Canada; my grievous error was called to my attention by a reader from the larger and more famous Canadian Ottawa.  Boy, is my face red!  Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!  And I’ll let my husband know that a spanking is due for my carelessness when he gets home from his current trip (and lest any of you think that’s no punishment, think again; his spankings hurt!)

He Said, She Said (March 4th, 2011)

When I mentioned the John Hopkins case again in my September 15th column, regular reader Bandoblue decided to investigate and discovered a link which led me to this New York Post follow-up from June 29th:

…John Hopkins, who had been in jail since his arrest in February, was released without bail after prosecutor Christina Fay told Brooklyn Judge Patricia DiMango that his accuser was loath to come back to New York to testify…The woman, who had a previous consensual S&M relationship with Hopkins, was found by cops curled in the fetal position, chained to a radiator.  Hospital records showed she was suffering severe alcohol poisoning.  She has since left the state and has missed several court appearances.  Hopkins walked out of court hand-in-hand with his sister, an Episcopalian minister and former assistant district attorney in Maryland.  [They] declined to comment, but his lawyer Andrew Stoll maintains Hopkins did not commit any crime.  “Innocent people get accused of crimes…Everyone should know that.”

Though Hopkins was released, his ordeal isn’t quite over yet; according to The Framing Business his case was scheduled for trial on September 20th, though I haven’t been able to dig up anything on how that went.

For Those Who Think Legalization is a Good Idea (March 22nd, 2011)

Many well-meaning people who believe themselves to be on our side call for prostitution to be “legalized and heavily regulated”; they do not understand that such “heavy” regulatory schemes are terribly unfair (subjecting whores to far more supervision, higher fees and nuisance inspections than other service jobs) and often have such onerous restrictions that they simply drive many women back underground.  70% of Nevada prostitutes prefer to work illegally than to subject themselves to the Draconian regime of the legal brothels, and if the scheme reported in the September 15th Edmonton Journal gets any more expensive, arbitrary and elaborate than what is described here, they’ll be right back where they started:

Proposed new rules for escort agencies and body-rub parlours will put Edmonton at Canada’s forefront for regulating erotic businesses, the city’s chief licensing officer says.  Under recommended bylaw changes released Thursday, escorts and body-rub workers will need to take a sexual exploitation information session and prove they’re over 18 before receiving a business licence.  Legitimate massage practitioners would be regulated separately from the steamy side of the field, with a lower fee and no more need for police checks.  The city also wants to form a sex-industry enforcement team, similar to the group inspecting bars and nightclubs, that could include police, bylaw, health, employment and immigration, border services and community members…

…He expects the sexual exploitation course, the only one he knows about in Canada, would last two or three hours and cover such issues as employment standards and human trafficking.  Police would be able to recommend to [licensing officer Roger] Kirillo whether he should give escort agencies and exotic entertainment agencies licences, based primarily on whether those in charge have a history of violence.  The Ontario Court of Appeal still hasn’t ruled on a case that successfully challenged the constitutionality of laws against keeping a bawdy house, pimping and soliciting in public, but Kirillo said that isn’t the issue right now.  “We’re not licensing prostitution.  We’re licensing an adult entertainment and erotic industry”…

Setting aside the idea that a “training course” run by social workers who have never hooked a day in their lives could be anything but insulting and patronizing, as soon as an “enforcement team” and artificially-higher fees enter the picture the door is open for abuse.  As for Kirillo’s crowing about this being the “forefront” of regulating erotic businesses, he’s obviously unfamiliar with the history of the subject because what he’s proposing is the same as the system established soon after the French Revolution, wherein police are allowed to decide who gets licenses.  Any whore who bribes the police in money and sex as often as demanded, and madams who give cops the run of their establishments, get the OK and others don’t.  This isn’t the “forefront” of anything; it’s plain old government pimping again.

One Year Ago Today

Safe Targets” exposes an attempt to extort money from Denver escorts by threatening to trash their reputations, thus taking advantage of the vulnerability engendered by criminalization.

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A fool too late bewares when all the peril is past. –  Queen Elizabeth I

It seems that politicians just can’t help making asses of themselves; yesterday I discussed three such cases who probably still don’t realize how stupid they look to rational people, but today we’ll look at one who destroyed his reputation and his political career through actions which appear to display a complete inability to foresee the totally foreseeable.  Of course, that would presume than Congressman Chris Lee was thinking with the big head rather than the little one, which he obviously wasn’t.  Here’s the story, condensed and paraphrased from one which appeared on Gawker last Friday (February 25th):

Three hours after Gawker’s February 9th publication of a photo of Chris Lee standing in the mirror shirtless, along with the story of the married Republican congressman from New York’s attempt to pick up a woman via the Craigslist personals, he had resigned.  His sudden exit took many people by surprise, but apparently Lee’s rapid retreat may have been intended to cover up something more scandalous:  two D.C.-area transgender women contacted Gawker, each with a separate story about exchanging emails with Lee.  One produced an ad that Lee allegedly posted on Craigslist in search of trans women; the other sent us a never-before-seen photo that she says Lee sent her after they started chatting by email.

The first report came from a pre-op transgender woman from Arlington, Virginia whom Gawker called “Fiona”; she said she had replied to a “casual encounters” ad on Craigslist in mid-January and used the “e-mail this posting to a friend” function to send a copy to herself:

Sexy Classy guy for passable TS/CD – m4t – 39 (Cap Hill)
Date: 2011-01-14, 8:55PM EST

New to area. Very fit classy, successful guy. 39, 6ft 190lbs, blond/blue. smooth hard body. Looking for a sexy ts/cd that i can spoil. I promise not to disappoint.

Craigslist personals are removed within seven days of posting, but since Google caches Craigslist index pages Gawker was able to confirm that an ad with precisely the same headline was posted on the evening of January 14.  The headline and ad itself are similar to the previously-revealed flirtation, such as the words “fit” and “classy”, and dates to the same evening; it also featured the same shirtless Blackberry picture, though cropped to hide Lee’s face.  Yes, that’s right:  a member of Congress posted a personal ad seeking transsexuals and crossdressers and even included a picture of himself, all without thinking twice, apparently.  Like the woman in the first incident Fiona is 34 and black, and she discovered his identity in the same way the first woman did:  “I copied and pasted his email into Facebook, and that’s when his picture of him and his wife and his little boy showed up.  Then I clicked on the link and realized he was a politician from New York, and I was like OMG.”  She emailed him a few more times before telling him in an email on January 21 that she knew who he really was, and he never replied.  But that same day, Lee sent an email to his staff saying that his Gmail account may have been hacked.

The second report came from a transvestite prostitute Gawker called “Holly”, whose Craigslist ad Lee allegedly answered.  “Holly” demanded money from the site for email transcripts, but did provide a new picture before backing out of the deal.  This photo clearly resembles Lee; the man in the photo has the same physique, is standing in the same pose and is holding the same red Blackberry, although the photo was clearly taken in a different setting and he’s wearing different pants.

Lee has not yet spoken publicly about the incident, except to say in his letter of resignation that he made “profound mistakes” and “regret[s] the harm that my actions have caused my family, my staff and my constituents.”  But if Lee was using the Internet to meet up with transsexuals and cross-dressers his rapid resignation makes sense; he may have thought if he quit immediately he could avoid having his kink exposed.

Lots of politicians hire prostitutes, and lots of them have a queer streak, but most of them have the sense to hire professionals from a discreet, upscale agency rather than trolling Craigslist or, even worse, placing their own ads to attract liaisons!  But Lee didn’t stop there; no, he used his regular email address instead of setting up another one for his “hobby”, and then he sent real pictures showing his face not merely to one person but to at least three!  It’s impossible to pass this off as a momentary lapse of reason; his actions delineate a clear pattern which every experienced whore should recognize.  As I’ve discussed before, men tend to get very weird when they’re sexually frustrated; their fantasies get steadily kinkier and they are wont to take bigger and bigger risks to fulfill them as control over their actions shifts from the top of the torso to the bottom.  Most public figures have the sense to hire discreet professionals long before reaching the point of total loss of judgment, but obviously Lee did not and the results aren’t pretty.  I don’t feel sorry for any politician’s self-made messes, but I do pity his wife and the people of his congressional district whom he hurt with his spectacularly poor judgment.  Perhaps if our society were to grow up enough to stop persecuting harlots, men like Chris Lee would find it easier to deal with sexual tension before it causes a very messy public scandal.

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