child sex trafficking

Cyntoia Brown. (Via Youtube)

Content warning: this piece contains accounts of child sexual abuse and violence against a sex working minor as well as discussion of structural violence. 

I spent my teen years selling sex on the internet. I grew up on the Craigslist Erotic Services section, finding men who would pay me for something I didn’t take seriously because I’d been robbed of the chance to do so. I’d been raped at 12 by my next door neighbor after months of molestation, and subsequently passed around the neighborhood to two other perverts. One was an Albanian fella who definitely sold women, and he could have ended up trafficking me as well. In hindsight, my luck has been insane.

Cyntoia Brown’s story feels too close to home. Brown killed one of her abusers at the age of 16. When I was 16, I met a man on Yahoo Personals who seemed nice. After a four hour session, he didn’t want to pay. He kicked me out of the house and I had to find my way home. He could have killed me, and I thought he would, because he grabbed me so hard to throw me out. That session could have been my last, and no one would have been the wiser. If I’d been abducted, my mom would have been looking for a ghost; she had no idea what I was doing.

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domesticminorsextraffickingWhen I got arrested recently, my copy of Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking: Beyond Victims and Villains by Alexandra Lutnick came along with me to jail. It’d be fair to blame me, as well as the boys in blue, but I think it’s unlikely that this is the last time this publication will see the inside of an evidence vault or be fondled by the fingers of a police sergeant.

After bail, tearing open my blue possessions bag, I couldn’t help thinking that this book was meant to be in lockup with me. It wasn’t published solely for those with degrees in social service. The text exudes empathy for those left behind in the system. Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking reminds me of the bourbon-infused evenings of my teenage years. I remember feeling desolate and distressed in hotel rooms, dreaming of a world with enough beds and snug blankets.

The text expertly covers the disparity of my vision of the world of sex work and the broader statistical realities of it. This book is exceptionally sourced, as it needs to be in order to defend itself from the inevitable barrage of critique that will come in response to its claims about our failed social structure.

Lutnick isn’t another hapless academic reminding society that there’s an unseen conveyor belt of children being trafficked around the country. This is a view the mainstream media seems far too fond of, one that fails to realize our failures as a culture when it comes to the root causes of youth sex trade work. Instead, she argues that isolating minor sex workers in the margins of society allows us to flee our inherent responsibility to them. The book vigorously motions against a system which criminalizes minors who’ve entered into sex work willingly to escape abusive households. Lutnick contends that the vision our society promotes of young white cis women controlled by external forces is deceptive. Youth in the sex trade are far more diverse in origin, gender identity, and age than popularized media representations of them would lead us to believe.

These minors should be viewed with respect, as conscious proponents of their own motives. Lutnick notes that those left behind in systems of oppression are far more likely to be involved in sex work, as an escape from their abusers as well as systemic violence. As a young femme, there was nowhere for me to go besides the streets. There was money there, opportunity for advancement and excitement. Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking reflects my realities and those of my contemporaries with a clear vision of the true nature of minor sex work.

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A poster for stripper Jeff Tetreault's movie about, er, an anthropomorphized, detachable penis (Image via Vulture)

A poster for stripper Jeff Tetreault’s movie about, er, an anthropomorphized, detachable penis (Image via Vulture)

HuffPo set up an interview with two student sex workers through Student Sex Worker Outreach Project coordinator Adrienne Graf, whom we featured in a post the other week. One of the workers interviewed was Tits and Sass’ very own contributor Red, who valiantly resisted all of the interviewer’s efforts to sensationalize stripping.

Screenwriter and go go dancer Jeff Tetreault“Sometimes you have a good dick day, and sometimes you have a bad dick day. It’s like a good hair day and a bad hair day: Sometimes the blood just settles down there and it’s sweet — it’s an awesome dick day. And sometimes, I’m like, ‘What the hell?’ ”

John Turturro gives sex workers his vote of confidence in an interview on “Fading Gigolo,” a film he directed and starred in about a laid off bookstore employee turned escort for lonely ladies. Our only quibble is that perhaps Turturro should’ve done a bit more research first–we find it highly doubtful that a middle aged guy sex worker in most heterosexual markets would be netting “$1k for each hour of his time, plus a $500 tip.”

OK, so this guy’s thesis is that the development of sexbots will somehow lead to the adoption of basic income, once the state is inundated with a bunch of human hookers put out of work by robots. Right, because the government obviously gives a shit if sex workers go the way of cottage weavers.

Nearly 65,000 sex workers and their family members across Bengal have decided not to vote for any candidates this year, planning to press the NOTA (None of the Above) button instead. Bhurati Dey, sex workers’ rights organization Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee secretary, stated: “None of the political parties have ever looked into our demands. So it is our conscious decision to opt for the NOTA option.” In Forbesganj, Dehli, and Kolkata, Mumbai based federation of sex workers Aastha Parivaar and nonprofit organization Apne Aap Women Worldwide have also taken action on the eve of the election, collecting demands from regional sex workers for politicians. 

What is it really like to work in a brothel? This Buzzfeed piece won’t really tell you much about that, but it will let you know all about Dennis Hof’s ego.

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Terra Barrow, Philadelphia police officer and former phone sex operator (photo via nbcphiladelphia,com)

Terra Barrow, Philadelphia police officer and former phone sex operator (photo via nbcphiladelphia,com)

Here’s another reason to not want to get out of bed in the morning—this Wednesday, the EU’s parliament voted in favor of criminalizing the purchase of sex.

Instead of following the hype about the “Duke University Porn Star”, why don’t you skip the crap and read what she has to say (in xojane, weirdly enough, which is redeeming itself for about a zillion offensive It Happened to Me pieces by giving her a venue.)

There’s no reason the GOP should be discouraged from convening the 2015 Republican Convention in Nevada by legalized prostitution, states Jeremy Lemur, a spokesman for The Resort at Sheri’s Ranch, a legal brothel in Pahrump. Lemur assured convention goers in a blog post that brothel workers could be trusted to keep secrets, and besides, they’re voters, too.

God, we just don’t even know what to make of this story: A  recently created website accused Philadelphia police officer Terra Barrows of running a phone sex business. The thing is, Philadelphia’s finest already knew about Barrow’s old side-job—in 2011, Internal Affairs’ Police Board of Inquiry chose not to punish Barrow based on a competing phone sex operator’s allegations about her moonlighting because phone sex is not “specifically enumerated as prohibited outside employment.” Though now, the Philadelphia Police Commissioner is rushing to close that loophole, since “[t]here are certain types of jobs that are just inappropriate for a police officer.” Barrow states that she got into phone sex to support her ailing father, and that she never portrayed herself as a police officer or revealed her real name while working the lines. Oh, and the reason competing PSO Donna Burns ratted on Barrow to Internal Affairs? She says the cop stole her site designs and her client database and bullied her and other competitiors by telling them she was a police officer working in Homeland Security.

Tits and Sass co-editor Caty Simon gives her take on Heather Lewis’ Notice, an autobiographical novel about a street working trauma survivor, at Emily Books.

Elle Stranger lets readers of Portland’s Thrillist know about eighteen ways to make a stripper furious. An anonymous dancer echoes Stranger’s advice to tip if you’re at the rack in the Portland Mercury, reddit reading fedora wearing comment writers are outraged in response to the very suggestion that they should be compensating people for their labor, and no one is surprised.

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Quote of the Week

by suzyhooker on September 29, 2013 · 0 comments

in Quote of the Week

Individuals arrested as “pimps” during “rescue” operations are not necessarily abusers, traffickers, or exploiters; in fact, many are friends, family members, partners, etc. who happen to provide room, transportation, mentoring, security, and other assistance to people in the sex trade, or are financially supported by them, even though they are not abusing, coercing, exploiting, or otherwise hurting that person. Sometimes, women are arrested as “pimps” for working in pairs to increase their safety. Indiscriminate arrests of friends and others as “pimps” when they are not abusers, traffickers, or exploiters lead to further isolation of people who trade sex, putting them at greater risks.

-One of the many injections of common sense Emi Koyama makes into trafficking discourse in her new blog post/conference handout, “Rescue Is For Kittens: Ten Things Everyone Needs To Know About “Rescues” Of Youth In The Sex Trade

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