The Week In Links—October 19th

by suzyhooker on October 18, 2013 · 2 comments

in The Week in Links

Bibiane Bovet, Montreal municipal candidate and out trans woman and former escort (Photo courtesy of the Montreal Gazette)

Bibiane Bovet, Montreal municipal candidate and out trans woman and former escort (Photo courtesy of the Montreal Gazette)

Some British GLBT organizations and trade unions are taking the excellent example of their African counterparts, standing in solidarity with sex workers’ rights organizations like the English Collective of Prostitutes and the Sex Worker Open University in their campaign against proposals to institute the Swedish model of criminalizing clients. Sign the Collective’s petition against the End Demand model—Rupert Everett will thank you for it.

One of Montreal mayoral hopeful Mélanie Joly’s hand-picked candidates for a municipal position, Bibiane Bovet, is a trans woman who used to work as an escort in order to finance her bottom surgery. Joly knows about Bovet’s sex working past and—gasp!—doesn’t care. In fact, one of Bovet’s escorting clients, another municipal employee, advised her to run for the position in the first place, and Joly went on record praising Bovet’s integrity and saying she has her full support.

File under The Headline Says It All: “Groups ‘rescue’ Thai sex workers, whether they want it or not.

SWOP-Phoenix is protesting the Project ROSE Prostitution Diversion Initiative, in which Phoenix police and students from the ASU School of Social Work team up twice a year to arrest local sex workers and have them “choose” between a six month diversion program or criminal charges. SWOP-Phoenix’s position is that diversion programs “ignore the fact that many people who work in the sex industry are not victims in need of rescue, but consenting adults who should not be arrested, coerced into diversion, or incarcerated for working.”

While on a vacation in Thailand last month, Rihanna took in a “ping pong” strip show in Phuket, tweeting afterwards that she was “traumatized” by the “live bird, two turtles, razors, darts and ping pong [balls]” pulled from the performers’ vaginas. In a pretense of shock they’ll be sure to keep up till they get their next bribe, the Thai Police shut down the club and arrested the owner, no doubt also throwing a few of the club’s performers in jail along the way. Riri! Don’t make us sad. After “Pour it Up”, we thought you were Good for the Strippers. Now it turns out that you are (inadvertently?) Bad for the Strippers. Stop getting second world sex workers arrested, Rihanna, that’s a REAL faux pas. Next time just use your celebrity tweeting powers to get the Thai equivalent of a humane society to spirit away those birds and turtles from non consensual vaginal spelunking.

Melissa Petro tells the xojane reading public what escorts already know: “Most Dudes Have Probably Bought Sex At Least Once.”

With so many Tamil men dead or missing after three decades of civil war, with southern men filling up the jobs in the north’s building boom, and seeing as how widows are traditionally seen as inauspicious and unfit for remarriage, many women in female headed households in Sri Lanka’s North are engaging in survival sex work to subsist.

We covered SWOP-NYC’s letter to the Columbia Institutional Review Board reporting Dr. Sudhir Venkatesh’s wildly inaccurate and insulting research on New York sex workers in an earlier Week In Links.  (One blog entitled the fiasco “When Your Own Research Population Organizes Against You, New York Sex Worker Edition.”) Now, our own Tits and Sass founding editor Charlotte Shane eviscerates Venkatesh’s historical amnesia, insistence on reinventing the wheel without acknowledging the work of sex worker researchers before him, and his approval of police abuse of sex workers in The New Inquiry.

In a story we missed last month,  Victorian man Shaun Anthony Ferri avoided jail and received only a 21 month conditional sentence for raping a sex worker and holding a knife to her throat.

Dan Savage informs a confused inquirer about correct etiquette when your regular massage worker’s partner dies, dispelling some condescending prejudice along the way.

In this week’s instance of deraged whorephobia, a Parisian woman who claimed she could not stand the “neighborhood prostitutes” and “the incessant noise” in the Chateau Rouge neighborhood, took her revenge by throwing hydrochloric acid on passersby, severely burning a father and his fifteen month old child. As she was taken away by the police, she continued a rant peppered with racism about  “insupportable living conditions” in the area.

IOL News features a Cape Town mother’s lament for her murdered sex worker daughter, Nokuphila Moudy Khumalo, beaten to death by Zwelethu Mthethwa, an internationally acclaimed artist, who was arrested and charged with her murder.

Here’s an incredibly melodramatic take on the history of underage 4-Chan web cam girls from the oughts in The Miami Times, focusing on the woman once known as Loli Chan: “When her parents gave her an HP computer at age 11, no one could have predicted she would end up suspended from her Catholic school, committed to Jackson Memorial Hospital’s psych ward, and resorting to sex work as an adult…Loli lives with the consequences of her youthful folly every day…She’s become a kind of internet welfare queen — subsisting on money and gifts sent by her former fan base.” Wow, what a fundamental misunderstanding of wishlist transactions.  The only way the article redeems itself is by extensively quoting Theresa Senft, long time sex worker ally, online culture scholar, and author of the seminal 2008 study Cam Girls: Celebrity and Community in the Age of Social Networks.

In a delightful story we missed earlier this month, punk band Get Shot! filmed a porn flick  of bass player Laura Lush masturbating on the Westboro Baptist Church lawn. Lush said in a press release that  “as a bisexual woman and the bass player of a ridiculous punk band, I wanted to spread my legs and cause controversy.”

Patricia J Williams posted an op-ed called “The Complicated Politics of Self Exploitation” in the Nation. “Complicated”? Try, incredibly simplistic moralizing. Can the author really not see the difference between the relative autonomy of sex work and The Total Woman type abject dependence of conservative marriage she compares it to? The problem here isn’t the way sugar babying resembles prostitution, but the lateral whorephobia the sugar babies quoted demonstrate in insisting on their superiority to their street working and escorting sisters, and the even more noxious whorephobia displayed by the author throughout. Sure, the necessity of working hard just to make tuition in the context of this recession is lamentable, but why isn’t Williams bemoaning the fate of fast food workers suffering indignity upon indignity to go to school or just put food on the table? If folks like the author truly wanted to help us bear up through “the indignities for which no sum of money is enough: the encounters with men in the business whose harassment, or worse, makes you want to jump out of your skin,” they’d help create a strong labor rights movement for us, so that we wouldn’t be subject to the unchecked whims of “private clubs of wealthier, mostly male plutocrats.”

In response to Equality Now’s campaign to keep sex work illegal, UN Women affirms that it stands with UNAIDS in the belief that sex work should not be conflated with trafficking, and that sex workers are entitled to safety, self-determination, and decriminalized workplaces.

A report by Malawi Human Rights Youth Network states that there’s low demand for female condoms among local women sex workers because they experience female condoms as noisy as well as unhygienic as they can be put on hours before sex, and clients also view female condoms as dirty because they think that the sex workers reuse them. But these are all experiences related to the first wave of female condoms distributed, FC1, not to FC2, which make no noise and can be applied directly before sex. Medical personnel acknowledge the need to inform clients of the difference between FC1 and FC2.

David Henry Sterry, ex-youth sex worker and head of the Sex Worker Literati movement, interviews Heidi Hoefinger on her new book,  Sex, Love and Money in Cambodia: Professional Girlfriends and Transactional Relationships, at the Huffington Post. The upshot of the interview is that “Everything You Think You Know About Cambodian Sex Workers Is Wrong.”




{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Robin D October 20, 2013 at 1:08 pm

I do not like the SWOP Phoenix framing, because it implies that people who have been victimized DO deserve to be further victimized by the state in that way, which is an awful thing to say.


Caty Simon October 20, 2013 at 7:41 pm

Point! I didn’t even think of that implication.


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