The Week in Links—January 2nd

by Red on January 2, 2015 · 2 comments

in The Week in Links

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.

Humans aren’t the only animals to trade sex for favors, says io9, blithely ignoring the meaning of “trading sex for favors.”

Osamajik Karjokolap Protirodh Committee, Tangail, Bangladesh’s version of NIMBY, is protesting the December 15th return of sex workers to the Kandapara brothel after its evacuation and shut down this summer.

A trans sex worker in Fiji is advocating for decriminalization to combat stigma and promote sex workers rights.

Sex workers in London’s West End marched for International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, protesting an increase in violence which they say is due to the police’s tendency to prosecute sex workers for sex work-related offenses rather than the violent crimes committed against them.

Police in Dublin are renewing the search for the killer of Belinda Pereira, who came to Dublin to work and was murdered in 1996.

A cache of photos of Birmingham, UK’s red light district from the 1960s have been unearthed in a Massachusetts apartment. The photographs were taken by Janet Mendelsohn along with interviews, as part of her research documenting the daily lives of workers in one of Britain’s largest red light districts.

So this man decides he wants to depict sex workers as they really are: Photographer Marc McAndrews spent five years taking pictures of workers in the Nevada brothels, with sometimes spectacular results.  My favorite is the girl leaning against the guy at the ATM.  The accompanying text doesn’t do the photos any favors with captions like, “Framing the sex object as human.” Feminists.

Monica Forrester, a trans woman of color who works at sex worker organization Maggie’s in Toronto points out that C-36 does women who have no other options no favors.

In a tremendous betrayal of trust, Kathleen Wynne has declared that Ontario will be abiding by C-36.

The controversy around the End Demand model continues, however, as the Washington Times and IBTimes point out that the results in Sweden aren’t at all the success that they’ve been trumpeted as.

Seattle is looking at implementing End Demand.

C-36 also made’s list of ten important stories in Canadian Labour.

December 6th wasn’t only the day that C-36 became law; it also marked the 12th murder of a trans woman of color since the US National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs began counting in June.

China is trying to come up with a better system of care and treatment for HIV positive foreign nationals, focusing on sex workers and drug users.

People trading sex in Egypt work in a harsh and censorious climate.

Alaska’s new trafficking laws, which are meant to help sex workers by treating them as victims rather than criminals, aren’t working.  Even though “victim” isn’t that much of a step up from “criminal”, cops still haven’t gotten the memo. Much like NYC’s trafficking courts, sex workers are still the butts of police and state violence, even as victim status fails to materially change their condition or address the realities of their lives.

Tamil director K. Balachander died last Tuesday; among his many groundbreaking films was Arangetram, about a Brahmin girl who begins doing sex work to support her family.

Sex work is still work: Porn performer Carter Cruise politely rebuffed the idea that porn is a last resort, a fallback for the desperate and those too incompetent to do anything else.

New Hope Society, a drop-in shelter for street workers in Prince George, Canada, has now been operating for ten years. Open five days a week, with enough core funding to get through the next year, the shelter provides a necessary safe space and offers self defense classes, whistles, and mobile phones which can dial 911.

Bad news for Vietnamese workers: Vietnam says it will never decriminalize or legalize full service work, although it is “taking cautious steps to combat it.”

Incorporating underground economies into its GDP has paid off for Britain, which emerged as the world’s fifth largest economy this year with the help of the sex industry.

This bizarre article which purports to be about the US sex industry talks much more about pimps than sex workers, with numbers so inflated that it’s hard to take seriously.

This interview with Mahi Ramakrishnan, the documentary film maker behind the film Trapped, is full of the usual cliches but the extreme horror she expresses over the way a sex worker made her work bed is especially fantastic:

She had to tidy up the place. She did it in such a mechanical manner. She just knew — the bed, you have to pull the sheets down. … But she did it in such a mechanical manner, like I’m done with my work and I’m going to now tidy up the room. A) I put the pillow right. 2) I pull the sheet down. I look around, everything is clean, I’ve done my job, I’m leaving. That way in which she can become so mechanical broke my heart.

Yeah,I guess I lost my passion for making beds too. Long before I became a hooker though, somewhere around first grade.

The Somaly Mam scandal made Reason’s list of Four Ways Neo-Victorianism Reared Its Ugly Head In 2014.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Peter January 3, 2015 at 1:40 pm
Olympia January 4, 2015 at 3:26 am

This is a tragedy reminding us how one is never unsusceptible to violence, and even worse: murder. Stay safe ladies.


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