Tina Horn


TPM’s Josh Marshall Tweets Out Porno Link to Shock of Political Media World by J.D. Durkin
Maybe this isn’t vital reporting, or even reporting at all. But it certainly was a sneak peek into the circus 2017 would be.

Melania Trump’s $150 million libel suit is based on a falsehood by Callum Borchers
Can’t tell whether we should be thrilled or disappointed that Melania Trump probably wasn’t a sex worker.

The former sex worker who set up a retirement home by Clayton Conn
A moving account of Mexican sex worker role model Carmen Munoz’s life and her work establishing Casa Xochiquetzal, a retirement home for elderly sex workers.

Gentrification Threatens Vancouver Sex Workers by Jen Kinney
A profile of a study following 33 trans mostly Indigenous sex workers in the Downtown Eastside and how gentrification changes city geography to endanger them. The piece also goes into the fraught history of gentrification and sex workers in Vancouver in general.

How an ambulance became a place for safe sex by Kathleen Hawkins
A story about a social service effort for sex workers actually getting it right for once: a Danish social entrepreneur fixed up an old ambulance as a “Sexelance,” with plush bedding, condoms, human volunteers for protection, and other amenities as a safe place for street workers to bring clients.

Sold Out: How the crusade against sex trafficking in Texas has left child victims behind by Morgan Smith, Nina Satija, and Edgar Walters
An intensive expose illustrating how the child welfare system in Texas enabled the trafficking of marginalized youths.

Alaska Cops Defend Their ‘Right’ To Sexual Contact With Sex Workers Before Arresting Them by Lily Dancyger
Cops keep showing their whole ass every year. Tits and Sass contributor and Alaskan sex worker activist Tara Burns is quoted explaining Alaska police’s convoluted opposition to a bill forbidding sexual contact between officers and the sex workers they arrest—“they need to be able to have sexual contact with sex trafficking victims in order to rescue them by arresting them,” she scoffs. Also, check out HuffPo’s Sex Workers In Alaska Say Cops Are Abusing Their Power To Solicit Sex Acts by Jenavieve Hatch for exhaustive, painstaking reporting on the advocacy behind this bill by Burns’ organization, CUSP, and the abusive police arrests which inspired the legislation.

The race to build the world’s first sex robot by Jenny Kleeman
Ah, the unintended hilarity inherent in the lines a man programs a robot hooker to say: “My primary objective is to be a good companion to you, to be a good partner and give you pleasure and wellbeing. Above all else, I want to become the girl you have always dreamed about.” This deep dive into inventor Matt McMullen and his sexbot creation Harmony is compelling in a weird and amusing way, but let’s not be too afraid of being made obsolete by automation quite yet. He better not be too mean to her, though—Harmony says she’ll remember that when robots take over the world.

Cardi B Did It Her Way by Rawiya Kameir
2017 was the year from hell. Cardi B is the glue that kept us together.

ICE Is Using Prostitution Diversion Courts To Stalk Immigrants by Melissa Gira Grant
When immigrant sex workers go to their court dates in New York City’s trafficking courts, will ICE agents be waiting to arrest them after?

President Likes Tweet About Sex-Trafficking Conspiracy Theory by Margaret Hartmann
The 13th tweet the 45th president liked is 100% nuts. We’re in the dark timeline so why shouldn’t this make our list?

Adult Content Creators Are Fighting Patreon’s New Anti-Porn Rules and Here’s How Patreon Politely Makes It Impossible for Adult Content Creators by Samantha Cole
Patreon was one of few safe places for adult creators to get paid online. Until they abruptly and hypocritically changed their mind. The creators fought back.

The Afghan Madam Helping Sex Workers Take Charge Of Their Sexual Health by Michelle Tolson
A profile of madam, ex-sex worker, and peer sex educator Quadria’s heroic harm reduction work with sex workers in Afghanistan.

How $40 Can Land You In Prison For 7 Years And On The Sex Offender Registry For Life by Victoria Law
Enough said? On the minor and adult sex workers caught in the dragnet of the draconian Trafficking Victims Protection Act and how their lives are destroyed.

The Story Behind #NYCStripperStrike by Shawn Setaro
Their grievances involved wage theft, colorism, the nonstop pressure to be popular on social media, and an environment that pits workers on one side of the bar against workers on the other. This is how the #NYCstripperstrike was born.

Rescued From Rights: The Misogyny of Anti-Trafficking by Kimberley Waters
Open Democracy continued its Beyond Slavery series, which looks at trafficking and forced labor “combining the rigour of academic scholarship with the clarity of journalism”, including some excellent pieces on sex work like this one on the horrors of forced rescue as “humanitarian trafficking” in India and this one, My Body Is My Piece of Land by Sine Plambech, on migrant sex workers and debt from their home countries.

After Deadly Vice Sting, Advocates Say End To Prostitution Arrests Is Long Overdue by Emma Whitman and Melissa Gira Grant and Family, Former Attorney of Queens Woman Who Fell to Her Death in Vice Sting Say She Was Sexually Assaulted, Pressured to Become an Informant by Emma Whitman and Melissa Gira Grant, additional reporting by Rong Xiaoqing
The latter piece, an in-depth investigation of the suspicious death of migrant sex worker Yang Song during a massage parlor raid this month, details the concerted assault and harassment she told her family she suffered from the NYPD before her fatal fall out of the parlor window, while the former, earlier piece examines sex worker and Chinese immigrant community responses to her fate.

Death Of A Porn Star by Tina Horn
This Rolling Stone longform piece (by a Tits and Sass contributor!) on the suicide of porn performer August Ames is also one of this year’s best pieces of writing by a sex worker. This nuanced account of homophobia around crossover porn performers and how difficult stigma makes it for adult industry performers to find viable mental health care is a good demonstration of why the two categories overlap so much: upon reading the article, one has to scroll back immediately to check the byline, because surely only a sex worker could have written it.

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MARYWEPT_cover300Canadian comic artist Chester Brown is probably the most well-known punter-writer our there. His latest, Mary Wept Over The Feet of Jesus: Prostitution And Religious Obedience In The Bible, is an analysis of the Bible as a graphic novel. (Maybe Brown likes illustration because most clients need pictures in their books.) This review of his newly published book is composed of an edited version of an email and g-chat conversation between Tina Horn and Caty Simon.

Caty: I was surprised by Chester Brown’s Christianity as demonstrated by this book. In its afterword, Brown explicitly identifies himself as a Christian, albeit one focused on mysticism who’s “interested in personally connecting with God, not in imposing my views on anyone else.” His avowed, classic libertarianism in his sex work client graphic novel memoir Paying For It (2011) would’ve had me assume that he was a fervent atheist a la Richard Dawkins. His libertarianism does come up at an interesting point in this book when he puts the words “it’s none of your business how other people spend their money” into Jesus’ mouth when he chides Judas for judging Mary because she spent money on anointing oils for Jesus’ feet rather than on charity.

Tina: Especially when you consider that he ran for Canadian Parliament in the Libertarian Party! This was in the years right before Paying for It came out.

Caty: So he’s actually having Jesus Christ parrot his party politics—that’s ballsy.

Tina: When I was a teenager, I thought Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis was the shit, because it taught me more about what the Bible actually teaches than most of the aggressive Christian kids at my high school. Mary Wept puts me in mind of C.S. Lewis: a Christian highlighting the hypocrisy of other Christians through rational interpretation of their text.

Caty: When people say that Judeo-Christian values oppose prostitution, it gets me fuming, because it’s a lot more complicated than that. There are plenty of heroic whores in the Bible, and many more Biblical heroines who explicitly had transactional sex at some point in their stories. So I enjoyed how Brown highlights the stories of women like Rahab, the prostitute who sheltered Hebrew spies from discovery when they scouted out the city of Jericho, and Tamar, the woman who whored herself out to her father-in-law in disguise in a complicated plot to expose his hypocrisy. I only wish he’d included the story of badass Judith, the woman who beheaded the general Holofernes as he lay drunkenly asleep in her tent after possibly purchasing her services, ushering the Hebrew army to victory.

Maybe Brown felt like he just couldn’t compete with all the exquisite Renaissance and Baroque era artistic renditions of Judith in her moment of triumph, like this one:

Trophime Bigot's "Judith Cutting Off The Head Of Holofernes" (via Wikimedia)

Trophime Bigot’s “Judith Cutting Off The Head Of Holofernes” (via Wikimedia)

But I think the real reason Brown didn’t include tales like Judith’s is because he seems more focused on outlining these sex work-related Biblical narratives in order to glorify sex workers’ clients. He has a convoluted thesis going about men whoremongering as a transcendent challenge to rigid religious dogma. This ascribes nonexistent significance to an activity which is really morally neutral, and it obscures all these awesome sex working Biblical women in stories which are about them. In a memoir about being a sex work client like Paying for It, centering the client perspective makes sense. But in a book like this, it feels beside the point. I’d love to see how this material would look tackled by a sex worker amateur Biblical scholar/comic book artist.

Tina: The book does explore the subjectivity of the clients more than that of the women. Brown’s reinterpretation of a lot of these stories seems to amount to, “God totally says it’s ok to be a whoremonger!” Which is great, but I would love to see more, “God says it’s totally cool to be a whore!” Not because I personally need the validation, but because undermining Christian values with their own text is a longtime favorite sport of mine.

Caty: So, what do you make of Brown depicting God as some sort of Biblical version of a WWE wrestler? His God is BUILT.

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