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Grindr screenshot, from Instagram user iamnastynate

This is new: a hyperbolic clickbait article about a rise in gay male sex workers.  Apparently—contrary to the hysterical Australian articles of a few months ago—hookup apps are facilitating paid sex, and not driving it out of business.  Whew!

The workers at Nevada’s Bunny Ranch are campaigning for Hillary Clinton under the slogan “Hookers for Hillary.”

Two very determined runaways who engaged in survival sex work have been caught by police and are being touted as trafficking victims.  One managed to escape, while the younger one was sent back to the family she ran away from.

Given the recent protests by South Korean sex workers to have the Special Law on the Sex Trade repealed, here’s a history on sex work in South Korea.

This for-profit company is claiming it can help trafficking victims by allowing law enforcement to skip the subpoena and instead pay Rescue Forensics for the online histories of sex workers. But, as Melissa Gira Grant points out,

In the eyes of advocates who work to support actual trafficking victims who may need emergency legal help, housing, or medical care, Rescue Forensics is a product built to solve a poorly defined, if not entirely nonexistent, problem: the lifespan of an online ad. “The assumption that advertising websites do not maintain information,” [Kate] D’Adamo explained, “or that this kind of advertisement is not accessible to law enforcement is not only absurd, it is a willful ignorance.”

In what makes a good tie-in to Lime Jello’s earlier post on Tits and Sass about studying sex work, Noah Berlatsky writes about the unique and necessary perspective sex workers bring to sex work research—when they’re allowed to do it.

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Rashida Jones at the premiere of I Love You, Man, at South by Southeast in Austin, in 2009. (Photo by Flickr user thomascrenshaw)

Rashida Jones at the premiere of I Love You, Man, at South by Southeast in Austin, in 2009. (Photo by Flickr user thomascrenshaw)

Rashida Jones, one of the producers of Hot Girls Wanted, a new documentary on the amateur porn industry, recently proclaimed that women do not derive pleasure from performing in porn. “It’s performative,” she explains, “women aren’t feeling joy from it.” She proceeds to ask, “What is the real cost [of performing in porn] to your soul and to your psyche?”

Sex workers are, by now, quite familiar with this kind of paternalistic analysis and “concern.” They quickly responded to the comments via social media, justly critiquing Jones for fetishizing authenticity. However, there were also the obligatory “sex work is just like any other job” comments, which I’m not so sold on. Although sex work is, of course, legitimate labor and should not be exempt from any kind of labor analysis, I’ve never been comfortable with the argument that selling sex is just like selling a latte. I’m also of the minority opinion that people really should love their jobs.

Responding to Jones’ comments, Kink Weasel tweeted, “Let’s apply that to other jobs: Does the checker at the grocery tingle at the thought of bagging groceries?” Similarly, Cathy Reisenwitz tweeted, “I’m sorry, barista. I need to give this latte back. I didn’t see any joy from you while making it.” The implication is that all service industry jobs are joyless at times; joy is not a measure of any job’s worth.

But I disagree. Preceding homo sapiens in the philosophy of evolution is “homo faber,” literally, “man the creator.” We are what we create, what we make. And if our creations are fundamentally joyless, that’s a problem. Especially if we are in the business of sex.  I will forever remember the first client who physically repulsed me. And although I’ve, coincidentally, also worked as a barista, I can’t say that the joylessness of barista life ever compared to the gut wrenching, soul rattling experience of blowing a guy whose vile smell and equally rancid demeanor remain etched in my mind’s eye.

I understand the desire to demystify sex as “just like [insert any vaguely uninteresting activity].” I really do. This political tactic takes sex—and sex work—out from under the veil of ignorance and stigma and puts it in its rightful place amongst the vast array of human experiences. It says, “Hey! These punitive policies surrounding the expression of sex should be made obsolete!” And it’s true, they should! But we’re not quite there yet.

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Bianca Baxter, RIP. (Photo via Baxter's Google + profile)

Bianca Baxter, RIP. (Photo via Baxter’s Google + profile)

Ballroom dance star, actress, model, and former Playboy Playmate, Bianca Baxter, aka Barbie Mizrahi, passed away on December 21st.  You can contribute to the fund for her service here.

Ashley Renee Benson was found murdered in a Doubletree Inn in Portland, Oregon. Her family, whom she spent Christmas Day with, said they had no knowledge of her sex work. The police say contact with family is rare in cases like this:

“A lot of the time in human trafficking cases, the victims are not able to live one place and they’re not living apart from the criminal activity or their abusers.”

The police have quickly co-opted her into the trafficking framework, all evidence to the contrary.

A woman in Adelaide, Australia died under similar circumstances, and is suspected to be a sex worker although her identity hasn’t yet been established.  The way she is being written about is already significantly different, however: she’s being described as a woman who potentially came to Adelaide to work in the sex industry, no mention of trafficking.

A woman from Queens was arrested for running a brothel and “promoting prostitution,” after being found with hundreds of condoms in her car and three younger women who admitted to being sex workers but denied being trafficked.  No matter, the police were determined to fit them into the trafficking framework anyway.

A New Zealand brothel worker made history by winning a sexual harassment case against the manager of her brothel, although the IBTimes appears to find the grounds a little questionable:

What makes the case interesting is that the woman was never assaulted or raped, ripped or dismissed, trafficked or forced to do things she did not like. The victim was Williams (name changed), who worked at a Wellington brothel, and her boss used to say certain things that made her feel uneasy.

Although verbal sexual harassment is understood as harassment in most other industries, apparently nothing short of trafficking qualifies as harassment in the sex industry.

Street workers in Malawi are in conflict with bike taxis over methods of payment: according to one taxi operator, street workers use the taxis and then refuse to pay cash, offering an exchange of services instead.

Newsweek takes an unexpected (and unexpectedly pro-sex worker) look at Anita Sarkeesian’s sex work politics and her ongoing refusal to engage with sex workers around our requests for her to, please for God’s sake, stop saying “prostituted women.”

“What this tells us is that she sees men as creatures able to make sexual choices,” [Maggie] McNeil says, “but she sees women as creatures who can only have sex for traditional reasons—love, or romance or whatever. But if women are [having sex] for tactical reasons, then she sees this as somehow suspect—that a man must be doing that. Hence the [term] prostituted; someone has done this to her.”

Maddie Myers picks up the bat for us that Sarkeesian left in the dirt with this thoughtful post on Grand Theft Auto:

We need to think about what these games say about not just the people who make them, but the thousands and thousands of people who buy them, for whom this depiction of sex workers as disposable victims has become normalized past the point of even seeing the horror in it. If these games are always going to exist and never change, fine. But that does not excuse our own ignorance of them. And that does not remove our responsibility to talk with other people who play games, especially young teens, about what is being depicted.

The United States Food and Drug Administration has lifted the ban on blood donations from gay men, but still requires a year long wait after having gay sex, paid sex, or sex with an injection drug user.  Which, effectively, means there’s still a ban on gay men, sex workers, and people whose partners are IDUs or sex workers. I didn’t want to give you my blood anyway.

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ajennytinI usually regret the rare moments in which I’m prevailed on to cut whorephobes a break. My empathetic nature is almost always taken advantage of in these instances and I’m left feeling as if I’ve been had. As compensation, I exude coolness in interactions with potential whorephobes. It’s come to be the most significant way I protect intimacy and privacy—the first casualties of publicly decrying the treatment of sex workers. So it is with great delicacy that I attempt compassion here in my review of Ryan Roenfeld’s Tin Horn Gamblers and Dirty Prostitutes: Vice in 19th Century Council Bluffs.

I picked up THGDP because I am myself a product of the vast prairie at the heart of the Bible Belt. I grew up in Omaha, NE, a sort of twin city to Council Bluffs, the city of Roenfeld’s historical analysis. I began my sex work career in these cities, too, almost a decade ago. Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to read all about my “dirty” sisters in vice, my lewd and despicable ancestors. I must sadly report, though, that the heroic and counter-cultural debauchery of my sisters and brothers are only briefly alluded to in the thin pages of THGDP, their humanity watered down to arrest records and salacious anecdote. Big surprise.

First, a brief note on the word “dirty,” as the title so lovingly refers to us. At one point in my life or another, I’ve been one or more of the following: a dirty hippie, a dirty bum, a dirty lesbian, a dirty heathen, a dirty drug user, and, of course, a dirty prostitute. I’m clearly a connoisseur of the unclean. It’s worth mentioning, too, that somehow the adjective “dirty” has always stung more than the noun following it, namely because “dirty” conjures up specific, visceral images about the body, about my body. I’m not the first to point out that images of perceived dirtiness have historically invoked distinctions between good bodies and bad ones. I guess I just had higher expectations for someone who calls himself a historian.

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Celebrated trans author and ex-sex worker Janet Mock shows her support for Monica Jones. (Photo via the Telegraph)

Celebrated trans author and ex-sex worker Janet Mock shows her support for Monica Jones. (Photo via the Telegraph)

Dr. Brooke Magnanti adds her voice to the chorus of people who are outraged and horrified by Project ROSE and the way the U.S. treats its sex workers. Reason also posted a feature on Monica Jones’ case (citing Tits and Sass’ interview with her!) focusing on the vague “manifestation of prostitution” law used to trump up charges against her.  The Advocate, Think Progress, Ms. Magazine, and Policymic also all ran sympathetic coverage of Jones’ guilty verdict for “walking while trans.”

During a trip to speak at the University of Montana about sex trafficking, prostitution abolitionist Melissa Farley visited two of the clubs that our own Bubbles called home for three years. Here’s a primer on the problems with Farley.

More proof for a position we like to call “pimpin’ ain’t accurate”: a new study, comprising the largest data set ever collected on U.S. underaged sex workers, demonstrated that only a small minority of them were introduced to the industry by pimps: “We argue that the narrative of pimp trickery and coercion distorts reality in three ways. First, it overestimates the role of pimps in street sex markets; second, it overemphasizes the impact of the initial recruitment stage on subsequent practices; and third, it masks or simplifies the difficult and complex choices and contingencies faced by minors who sell sex.”

Oh noes! The scary, scary prostitutes could be working with your children.

More stings, more client arrests.

An NGO based in the Nigerian capital of Abuja, Renewed Initiative against Diseases and Poverty (RENAGAIDS), challenged the recent raids, arrests and detention of sex workers in the city. Many workers were arrested and detained for twelve  hours or more without food or access to a phone call.

Can anyone verify this story via the NY Post? Apparently, escorts are using Airbnb in lieu of hotel rooms.

Belle Knox: “People assume that my support for sex workers and porn is somehow invalidated because I chose to do porn for the money rather than for love.” Yup.

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