War Machine's rationalizations (Screenshot of War Machine's tweet)

War Machine’s tweeted rationalizations—note the number of retweets and favorites (Screenshot of War Machine’s Twitter feed)

“Don’t hit women or whores” reads an oh-so-helpful comment under one of the many reports of the brutal assault and attempted rape of porn actress and dancer Christy Mack by her ex partner, War Machine (formerly known as John Koppenhaver), this past week. And that’s one of the nice ones. Most of the not-nice ones start with “what did you expect?” and get worse from there. Koppenhaver himself seems to see his role in the attack as a tragic victim of fate, a “cursed” man who had hoped to be engaged to the woman he broke up with in May, whose house he broke into in August.

While, in the face of the graphic and horrific story that Mack released, Koppenhaver’s view seems woefully out of touch with reality, the truth is, he’s right to predict sympathy for himself. Assaulting a sex worker, especially one that you once deigned to be in a relationship with, is viewed as pretty understandable. Just by watching TV or using the internet (ever), how many hundreds of jokes and not-jokes did Koppenhaver encounter excusing and encouraging him to do just that? It might be tempting, for the sake of our views on the state of humanity, to label his on-the-run tweets as a disingenuous ploy for public understanding, but I believe it is the less likely explanation of the two. What reason have we to believe that Koppenhaver was special, that he was somehow immune to the prevailing cultural narrative about the worth of those who do sex work? Why wouldn’t he think of himself as a lamentable casualty of an unfair system?

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[W]hat I’m talking about today is that conference after conference happens and personality after personality is elevated to having these super large platforms where they can speak, and there is a glaring absence of color when it comes to sex work.

Name me one person of color – and I’m not even talking about just Black people – one person of color woman, man, cis, trans, I don’t care, fat, skinny, ugly, pretty, tall, short, I don’t care. Name me one person of color who is or has been a sex worker who is a go-to personality to speak on sex work.

Nobody.

And that absence is deafening….I have a problem with the fact that we are continually erased and ignored – even though we’re here. Talking out loud! You can go on twitter, and you can follow them – They are intelligent, amazing, they have a presence! They will hook you… because they are wonderful people. And… and nobody really cares what we’re talking about…

But I think this conversation needs to evolve. Because if we keep it where it’s at, it’s stagnant and it’s not going to do any good.  It needs to evolve – and it needs to evolve with diversity. It needs to evolve with color. It needs to evolve with gender, and appearance, and weight, and all the things we ignore every day so we can put the white lady on stage again.

-Tits and Sass contributor Peechington Marie in “Be Careful With Your Hand, You Don’t Want It Bitten Off-Annie Sprinkle, Fantasies That Matter, Sex Work, And Erasure of People of Color” at her tumblr

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(Selfie of Peechington Marie, courtesy of Peechington Marie)

(Selfie of Peechington Marie, courtesy of Peechington Marie)

Related to an earlier Tits and Sass post this week, “Actually, My Hand Feeds Me,”  here’s more on the Annie Sprinkle kerfuffle.  For anyone who’s a little behind, Fornicatrix goes in depth over the context of the whole weekend before getting to Sprinkle and Peechington Marie added her beautiful two cents in “Be Careful With Your Hand, You Don’t Want it Bitten Off—Annie Sprinkle, Fantasies That Matter, Sex Work, and Erasure of People of Color.”

The Rose Alliance has begun a Change.org petition calling for the Swedish and Norwegian governments to care about the health and safety of sex workers, and to admit the dangers to sex workers that they gesture at but attempt to gloss over in the August report on the success of the Swedish model.

Porn performer Christy Mack was beaten horribly by her ex-boyfriend, Jonathon Koppenhaver (AKA: War Machine), last Friday, who then fled the scene, declaring via Twitter, “It wasn’t me.” Mack’s injuries, while not life-threatening, are severe. Unrepentant and high on the entitlement of an abuser, Koppenhaver tweeted, “She’s my property and always will be.”

The UK’s highest-paid sex worker has announced he’s A) paid more than the Prime Minister and B) out to end stigma against sex workers.Flaunting one’s income in an austerity economy sounds like a sure-fire way to do it, yeah.

The Barton Street East Neighborhood has an innovative way of dealing with the sex worker population amongst them: acceptance and support.

“The women are not a blight on the community, they’re an asset,” Braithwaite said, adding that the committee is not working to get rid of the women, but rather to work with them and make them feel safe…

“This community is not about gentrification, not about stopping (the women),” she said, adding that they are all “fibres of our community.

Part of making them feel safe is looking for support services, food, and health outreach spaces that the workers can access, as well as shelters where needed, and continuing with community education, so that residents are aware of issues facing the women.  The police force is also involved, having changed its focus from one of persecution to one of support and safety planning. [READ MORE]

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Annie Sprinkle: a woman who needs to get back in touch with her movement rather than speaking over it (Photo by Creatrix Tlara, via her flickr and the Creative Commons)

Annie Sprinkle: a woman who needs to get back in touch with her movement rather than speaking over it (Photo by Creatrix Tlara, via her flickr and the Creative Commons)

As a general rule, I absolutely love being called “adorable.” It reaffirms a lifetime of well-intentioned cheek pinches and makes me feel like I still look youthful as I approach 30. But being an adorable person is a very different thing than being part of an adorable movement. So when Annie Sprinkle took to Facebook to chastise sex workers who decided to “act up” at a conference called “Fantasies that Matter–Images of Sex Work in Media and Art,” and used condescending terms like “adorable” and “well intentioned” to describe sex workers who seek a voice in discourses about them, well, I got just adorably incensed.

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Orange Is The New Black actress Laverne Cox in Arizona backing trans and sex workers' rights activist Monica Jones' appeal against false charges of "manifesting prostitution" (Photo via Monica Jones'Facebook)

Orange Is The New Black actress Laverne Cox in Arizona backing trans and sex workers’ rights activist Monica Jones’ appeal against false charges of “manifesting prostitution” (Photo by Leah Jo Carmine, via Monica Jones’ Facebook, courtesy of Monica Jones)

Laverne Cox supports Monica Jones’ appeal against trumped up charges of “manifesting prostitution”! We couldn’t have dreamed up a more exciting celebrity cameo in our wildest activist dreams. Catch up on Monica’s case by looking through Tits and Sass’ Monica Jones tag, and stay tuned for an exclusive Tits and Sass update on her appeal by her SWOP-Phoenix comrades.

Coverage of the Portland Cupcake Girls’ Spa Day in the local press had a few of our readers writing in to us and other venues, infuriated. Apparently, neither the Oregonian nor the Cupcake Girls understand that strippers are not all unloved waifs and that actually, they can make themselves up and even (gasp!) pay for their own salon visits without the group’s charity. In fact, they do so consistently in order to work in a field in which their appearance must be immaculate. Read Red’s longform piece on shadowing the Cupcake Girls for more on these well meaning altruists’ fundamental misunderstandings about the sex industry.

Despite the fact that the former head officer was sexually assaulting the very women he was supposed to be helping, the Hamilton trafficking unit carries on, making fake dates with workers through online ads and attempting to rescue them. No charges have yet been filed in the past year and a half, though the former head, rapist Derek Mellor, faces a continued disciplinary hearing in September.

Sex workers in Jakarta have returned to work with the end of Ramadan, a fact that the Public Order Agency finds less than thrilling.

“We will address the issue soon. We hope both streets will soon be free of sex workers,” he said.

Sounds like he has a solid and not at all abusive plan.

The Economist makes an argument for decriminalization that, essentially, boils down to a pro-gentrification (“get the seediness off the streets”) point.Worlds collide when the interests of white male privacy and sexuality come up.

Margaret Corvid writes about some of the prices incurred by the loss of the fourth wall, as internet presence and accessibility becomes mandatory for many sex workers. Tighten your privacy settings, y’all.

MediaUpdate pays tribute to Nokuphila Kumalo, the sex worker assaulted and murdered by South African artist Zwelethu Mthethwa.

Without even a photograph of her, it is difficult to put a face to her name. Access to the fragments of her life prior to her murder is also hindered by the stigma associated with sex work. Although the oldest profession in the world (apart from politics) it remains shrouded in secrecy and shame, criminalised in most countries and regarded with contempt by mainstream society. 

Mthethwa’s trial begins in November.

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