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The Texas “Pole Tax” and the Myth of Secondary Effects

This past August, Texas’ Supreme Court upheld the 2007 “pole tax.” Also known as the “stripper tax,” it is a $5 per patron entry fee that is supposed to go towards low-income health insurance and assistance for victims of sexual assault. Currently there are an estimated 169 strip clubs in Texas (according to TUSCL, it’s closer to 200), and proponents of the new law allege that the revenue will provide $2.5 million annually to rape-survivor programs.

Since its passage in 2007, the tax has been tied up in court battles. The Texas Entertainment Association sued in 2008, stating that the proposed tax would be a violation of the First Amendment. At first the appellate courts upheld that argument, but that decision was reversed by the court’s ruling. In Justice Hecht’s deciding argument, he wrote “The fee is not aimed at any expressive content of nude dancing but at the secondary effects of the expression in the presence of alcohol.”

No Victim, No Problem: The JVTA In Practice

These people look very pleased with themselves. (Photo of Speaker of the House Joe Boehmer signing the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, via Boehmer's Flickr account)
Speaker of the House John Boehner signing the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act. (Photo via Boehner’s Flickr account)

This year, Congress decided that the term “john sting” needed a rebrand. What, they wondered, would justify all the wasted resources and manpower under a veil of moral indignation? After they put their collective hive mind together, a new, shinier, more bureaucratic term emerged. John stings are now called federally funded anti-trafficking work.

The change came earlier this year when Congress further institutionalized End Demand-style tactics by expanding the definition of who can be charged with human trafficking to include those seeking services from sex workers. And the way that these practices are being implemented is moving anti-trafficking work even further from addressing victimization—moving away from victims all together, in fact.

Naked Music Monday: Take Your Vote to the Poles

vote-strippersI don’t want to alarm anyone, but tomorrow is election day.  Are you registered to vote? Good. Do you know your polling location? Excellent. Got a handle on the candidates’ platforms? Fantastic! Sounds like you’re ready to vote.

Voting for president as a sex worker for most feels somewhere between futile and downright alienating. It’s not like a new president is going to make sex work any less criminalized, or anti-trafficking hysteria any less rabid. But you can still head to the polls and vote in your local elections, which are ten times more important and actually will directly affect your day-to-day life. Speaking of local elections: If you’re in California, you need to vote NO on Proposition 60, the measure that would make condom usage mandatory for porn workers.

A common refrain I hear in progressive circles is that “your vote doesn’t matter anyway,” that voting is a sham, that the electoral college has rendered our democracy a joke. I can’t argue against those sentiments, but maybe keep them to yourself on election day? Smugly quipping “lol ur vote doesn’t matter  lolzz” is a pretty dismissive slap to a friend of yours who may be more marginalized than you, or to the person who patiently navigated through a system of voter suppression to get their ballot counted.

Sorry about all that! Nobody likes it when their favorite neighborhood sex worker blog condescends to them about what they should do on Tuesday. Moving on!

What I’m going to be doing on Tuesday (besides voting) is stripping and the thing that sucks the most about working on election day is that every customer wants to ask you who you voted for and then tell you why your vote is wrong. “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing, also it’s impolite to ask strippers who they voted for,” Socrates once said. Not one strip club customer listened.

The Week In Links: April 1st

AdultCon by the numbers

India has already blocked the new .XXX domain.

Time covers Vallejo, California’s attempts to eliminate street prostitution. (Naturally, street prostitution is a “plague.”)

A Las Vegas artist enlisted strangers to interact with sex toys made in her body image “in an effort to mimic the kinds of interactions that sex workers have with their clients.” Because sex workers are just like disembodied silicon body parts.

South Africa may soon see a reality TV show dedicated to finding the best porn star.

Antigua lawmakers refuse to even entertain the idea of legalizing prostitution. A-holes.

Canada’s Supreme Court, however, agreed to hear challenges to its prostitution laws. And a huge coalition formed in Quebec to advocate for sex worker rights.

Minnesota may pass a law that stops prosecuting minors for engaging in prostitution.

Sadly, another body has been found that seems to have been the victim of the (still at large) Long Island serial killer who targets prostitutes. Meanwhile, in the wake of finding the bodies of two (former?) prostitutes, Memphis police are denying that they have a serial killer on their hands.

We’re Sorry Amnesty International Ruined Your Ideology

suck a dick!
This obviously doctored photo really sucks you into a heady subject.

According to its wiki, cognitive dissonance is the “discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time, performs an action that is contradictory to one or more beliefs, ideas, or values, or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values.” Mass hysteria is defined as “a phenomenon that transmits collective delusions of threats, whether real or imaginary, through a population in society as a result of rumors and fear.”

Calm your tits is a perfectly reasonable response to a breathless abolitionist who is experiencing either cognitive dissonance or mass hysteria. Last week, Amnesty International released a report that called for the full decriminalization of sex work and harshly condemned the Nordic Model of regulating sex work. The report, of course, is significant in that it validates what sex workers have been saying for decades (stop arresting us!) while also subverting the traditionally accepted “progressive” narrative that sex buyers are bad but sex sellers are victims.

So, how did the remaining norders (that’s the term I just made up for Nordic Model endorsers! Get it? NORD. ERS.) react when the news broke? Let’s just say, their tits were not calm. Here are some of the best examples: