by Furry Girl
Though not nearly as big a list as my previous roundup of mentions of sex workers in US diplomatic cables, I did take a look though the latest Wikileaks release for the term "prostitute." The Carter Cables, as they've been titled, are 367124 new items in the WikiLeaks Public Library of US Diplomacy.
* An October 1973 cable from South Korea complains about how "unenlightened" and unconcerned with "individual rights" the country's judicial system is because its prosecutors are appealing an initial "not guilty" verdict against two US soldiers who raped a local prostitute. The military seeks to get the men off the hook by finding possible technical errors in due process.
* An August 1974 cable from the Netherlands reports on Christians living in tents protesting in the red light district, who claim they fear arson attack from "100 pimps": "POLICE SPOKESMAN TOLD LEADERS BILL LOWRY AND JOE GREER THAT GROUP COULD PREACH GOSPEL ON STREETS BUT COULD NOT PREVENT PROSTITUTES FROM RECEIVING CUSTOMERS, WHO RESENTED DISTURBANCES IN VICINITY OF BROTHELS. HE SAID THAT POLICE WILL ARREST ANY MEMBER OF GROUP WHO VIOLATES DUTCH LAW AS WELL AS TAKE ACTION AGAINST ANY PROSTITUTE OR PROCURER WHO ASSAULTS MEMBER OF GROUP. IN RESPONSE, ACCORDING TO POLICE CONTACT, LOWRY AND GREER INDICATED THAT GROUP WILL CONTINUE TO PREACH IN RED LIGHT DISTRICT, BUT PROMISED THAT MEMBERS WILL OPERATE WITHIN FRAMEWORK OF DUTCH LAW... LOWRY SAID THAT HE HAD INFORMED POLICE OF RUMOR THAT 100 PIMPS MIGHT ATTEMPT TO BURN DOWN TENT SAME NIGHT."
* A March 1975 cable from Malta cable tells of international military solidarity in helping a US Navy seaman who murdered a prostitute secretly escape the country: "SEAMAN HAD BEEN CHARGED IN 1971 WITH THE MURDER OF A MALTESE PROSTITUTE BUT HAD BEEN FOUND TO BE INSANE BY THE MALTESE COURTS AND THEREAFTER INCARCERATED IN A MALTESE MENTAL HOSPITAL. OUR BASIC ARGUMENT WAS THAT SINCE NEITHER WE NOR GOM DESIRED ANY PUBLICITY CONCERNING THE SEAMAN'S EVACUATION FROM MALTA, WE THOUGHT THE SIMPLEST AND SUREST WAY WOULD BE VIA A QUICK TURN-AROUND USN FLIGHT TO THE RAF PORTION OF THE AIRFIELD HERE. GOM ATTORNEY GENERAL MIZZI, TO WHOM AMBASSADOR MADE HIS APPROACH, ACCEPTED THAT THIS WOULD BE BEST WAY OF AVOIDING PUBLICITY AND SOMEWHAT NERVOUSLY AGREED TO PUT SUGGESTION TO MINTOFF. WE RECEIVED AN IMMEDIATE AND VIGOROUS NEGATIVE RESPONSE: 'NO USG MILITARY AIRCRAFT OF ANY KIND.' AS SOME ADDRESSEES AWARE, RAF THEN CAME TO OUR RESCUE AND EVACUATED SEAMAN FOR US."
* Three 1974-1975 cables from Greece discuss some typical interactions between US soldiers and prostitutes. American sailors charged with beating and robbing prostitutes in two separate incidents: "TO DATE, GREEK PRESS HAS NOT GIVEN AS WIDE OR EMOTIONAL COVERAGE TO THESE INCIDENTS AS IN PREVIOUS INSTANCES OF ASSAULTS BY U.S. MILITARY PERSONNEL ON GREEK CITIZENS." Five members of the US Army suspected in murdering an alleged prostitute in Crete. A follow-up to that report notes the group of men getting in "altercations" with cab drivers on the same name as the murder.
* A July 1977 cable from Chad details the murder of a Florida man for attempting to rob a prostitute: "HE MET A LOCAL PROSTITUTE AT THE 'LE SELECT' NIGHT CLUB AND DECIDED TO GO HOME WITH HER... SOMETIME IN THE EARLY MORNING OF 1 JULY, SUBJECT HAD FINISHED WITH THE GIRL AND WANTED TO DEPART. HE BECAME INVOLVED IN A DISPUTE WITH THE GIRL ABOUT MONEY. APPARENTLY HE DID NOT HAVE ENOUGH MONEY TO PAY HER, AND SHE DEMANDED SOMETHING OF VALUE AS COLLATERAL. A SCUFFLE ENSUED AND SUBJECT PUSHED THE GIRL AGAINST A WALL, KICKED HER DOOR DOWN, AND RAN AWAY. BUT THE GIRL LIVED IN A WALLED COMPOUND, AND SUBJECT HAD TO SCALE THE WALL TO GET AWAY. WHILE HE WAS SCALING THE WALL, THE GIRL CALLED OUT THAT THERE WAS A THIEF. WHILE MR. TEOFANI WAS ON TOP OF THE WALL, PREPARING TO JUMP TO THE STREET BELOW, A NEIGHBOR THREW A LOCAL STYLE THROWING KNIFE THAT PENETRATED MR. TEOFANY'S CHEST OVER THE HEART. HE APPARENTLY FELL TO THE STREET, SUCCEEDED IN PULLING OUT THE KNIFE, STAGGERED A FEW FEET AND DIED. ACCORDING TO THE POLICE, SUBJECT WAS NOT ROBBED AS HAD ORIGINALLY BEEN THOUGHT."
by Furry Girl
"'Authenticity': It's one of feminist porn's favorite words. It pops up frequently on Bay Area-based websites such as The Feminist Porn Network and The Crash Pad Series. The Feminist Porn Awards decree that in order for a film to win, it must 'depict genuine pleasure, agency, and desire for all performers.' But I'm beginning to wonder if "authentic" is just another genre of porn, like 'MILF' or 'casting couch,' that places performers in a box for marketability...
Along with [Arabelle] Raphael, I fear that the concept of 'authenticity' has entered the feminist porn movement into a dangerous game of respectability politics. I would like to see more emphasis placed on fair labor practices than on whether or not I have a 'real' orgasm.."
-- Siouxsie Q in Authentically Yours: Feminist Porn Gets Political on sfweekly.com
The piece would have been more aptly titled, "Why feminist porn is just another apolitical industry that sells stuff."
by Furry Girl
"One of the more remarkable results of the rise of industrial capitalism was that, for the first time in human history, the poorest classes of people gained access to luxury goods. Another remarkable result was that wealthier people who claimed to be allies of the poor told them this was bad for them. Recent developments in American popular music demonstrate that this paradox lives on. Last Sunday night, Macklemore and Lorde, artists who have built their careers upon songs attacking the desire for luxuries among African-Americans, received the highest commendations from the music establishment in the form of multiple Grammy awards. Their songs continue a long tradition, rooted in progressivism, of protests against the pleasures of the poor."
by Furry Girl
Like many other things of major cultural significance - Hooters, War Games, and My Little Pony - I'm turning 30 this year. As a December baby whose birthday was always overshadowed by Christmas, I now celebrate my momentous occasion for the entire month. So, happy 30th birthday to me!
I can't say I feel old quite yet. I definitely haven't "mellowed out" over time, but I have spent less time blogging about sex work related topics. After a decade in the industry, every "new" debate/issue that comes up feels like a rehash of something that was argued about years ago. I feel like I've covered every angle of these debates myself, dozens of times, and it gets boring, even though I still feel engaged by a desire to improve life for sex workers everywhere. At the end of the day, you either believe that humans must be free to make their own choices that fit their individual needs and circumstances, or you believe that people need to be herded like cattle and subjected to violence for moral/ideological noncompliance "for their own good." (Which is a major source of why I just can't identify with the left as I get older. Too much of the intellectual foundation of the left is based on an imperialist attitude that "we enlightened" need to "help" and take control of the lives of "victims"- notably women, especially those in developing countries, whether they want "help" or not. Mistress Matisse phrased it best in a 2007 blog post when she said, "sometimes help is just the nice word for control." A chasm almost always exists between genuine solidarity and what outsiders think of as "saving" others.)
I'm still working on career two, a challenging field that combines my interests in both science and helping others (in an effective and constructive way). I think I'll probably completely retire from the jizz biz in a couple of years, though I plan to keep all of my sites online forever. I've learned a lot of awesome new things, and every time I'm trusted to do something more skilled or important, it feels like such a big step forward. My supervisor praises me for being such a meticulous and organized person, which is great, considering that I have no formal training at anything I'm doing. If you've been an independent sex worker/small business owner, that tenacity and work ethic will carry over into other lines of work, even if you have a radically different skill set to master. I really believe that successful sex workers are people who have the ability to be successful at anything. If you can make it work in such a weird and stigmatized industry where so many cards are stacked against you, relying on your own creativity, cunning, and boldness, you can do all sorts of things.
My mate and I are going to Fiji for a scuba diving trip from mid-December to New Years. I'm really excited to get away from cold rainy Seattle, even though it's during the busy holiday travel season. (I'm getting accustomed to planning around the fact that most jobs only let you get away with taking significant time off around Christmas.) I spent a lot of time rounding up the best budget hotels to stay with great reefs nearby, including a day at Beqa Lagoon, which is supposed to be one of the best shark dives in the world.
If you miss me from the peak of my blogging days, I still tweet a few times a day, often with news items you'd find interesting. And plenty of stupid funny shit, too.
I'm planning to spend some time camming from January 2-5, because I don't need to work and will feel cute after getting getting a good tan in Fiji. If you've been missing naked me, that's your next chance to catch me live.
Want to wish me a happy birthday? I have an Amazon wishlist, and I would especially love anything marked "highest priority," like the SeaLife underwater digital camera, or if you want to be crowned my best fan ever, the $1400 underwater housing for my DSLR camera. (I'd love to get into underwater wildlife photography, but I can't justify spending that much on a hobby when I'm making so little money right now.) You can also help me while getting something great for yourself by buying closeout items - like lube, books, candles, washable menstrual pads, and strapon harnesses - from my sexy store. And since SWAAY is still running at a net loss that I'm closer to erasing, you could also buy a pro-sex worker shirt or cute stickers from that store as a present to yourself or your favorite friends.
by Furry Girl
"The problem is that female competition and aggression don't always look like the male versions...
Females tend to threaten each other with social isolation rather than violence. Among social animals, being cast out of the group can mean death, or very few chances to mate. Among humans, perhaps the most social animals we know, the 'mean girls' phenomenon is a perfect example of low energy competition. Nobody is beaten, but we know for sure who has lost the battle."
-- Annalee Newitz in Evolution is steered by aggressive competition between females on io9.com
by Furry Girl
"If you make a thousand dollars a week, every week, you’re still only making around $50,000. This is by no means money to sneeze at; it’s more than my mother ever made, and she had a Master’s degree. But consider that according to Wikipedia, in 2006 the average weekly wage in Manhattan was $1,453. A thousand dollars a week is good sex worker money. It feels rich to me and always will. But in New York City, it doesn’t even make you average. You will be able to pay your bills. You can save. You might even be able to afford health insurance next year. You will not be able to go on shopping sprees at Nordstrom’s.
Writing checks to my landlord and Time Warner certainly feels luxurious to me, but it’s not … seductive. It’s just baseline what I should be able to do with a fucking job."
-- Calico Lane in The Myth of Seductive Money on misscalico.com
The comment I left:
I have never made the sums of money everyone assumes from the insta-rich reputation of online porn. I started in 2002, not 1996, so the bubble for my part of the industry had already burst by the time I was 18. I was happy to make a lower middle class income at a job I love (because I’m a genuine pervert), but as you said, a grand a week doesn’t add up to an income that hooks you like heroin. I went on a date once with a guy who assumed I must make “a few hundred thousand” a year. I burst out laughing. My best weeks were when I earned $2000, but then I also had plenty of $500 weeks, too. I know so many other sex workers who are also approximately lower-middle class, but no one ever thinks of us when drawing up the dichotomy that the only two ways to be a whore are if you’re a destitute, abused street-based worker selling $10 blowjobs for crack, or an elite escort who accompanies celebrities and bankers on trips to Dubai. Most sex workers seem like we’re somewhere on the spectrum of working-to-middle class.
The punchline is how often professional feminists and other such types (who often quietly came from wealthy families themselves) and who make more money than I ever did in porn accuse me and sex workers like me of being some sort of privileged elite who, unlike “real” women, don’t “really” work. Shit, I wish!
by Furry Girl
"I cried on the way to the hospital. It was the third time I ended up there on account of my erection. I'd considered myself drug-free for the latter half of my life. But I'd spent my entire twenties consuming erectile dysfunction pharmaceuticals. Over the past two years, on a more-than-frequent basis.
It was normal by default. To be a male porn star meant that you swallowed pills or shot up your dick.
I didn't think of it as fake. I'd found my process of arousal and allowed a sense of sincerity into much of my work. But the fear of failure always loomed. The work-flow of modern porn did not allow for the unpredictability of human performance. My psyche didn't allow for it either. I'd wrapped up my identity in the ability to fuck anyone under most any condition.
The choice came to either fuck like a god until I couldn't fuck at all, or to bring my sex back down to earth. An emergency room doctor had my attention once he'd opened a hole in my penis and let it bleed out. 'You keep doing this and you're not going to be able to get an erection, period.' There was something in his voice. It suggested that I'd already gone too far.
'What the fuck am I going to do?' I said out loud while driving home. It was meant for something greater than myself - a god I didn't believe in."
Danny dislikes me, but I wish him all the best in his transition into new things, because I'm sure he'll be great at at.
by Furry Girl
Anti-sex work activists endlessly harp on the specter of the multi-billion dollar sex industry. They never want to talk about how individual sex workers only make fairly modest incomes, and for generally short periods of time. It's easier to set up all of us sinners as obscenely wealthy, because it makes it easier for average people to resent us. This contributes to a culture of disrespect for sex workers where the public thinks we're not only lazy and gauche, we also get a 6-figure check every time we disrobe. It's a tactic of othering sex workers to a country that has been struggling a lot financially since the recession. And it's a very successful one.
When I was making the opposition tracker on SWAAY.org, I thought about trying to create a comprehensive list of how much profit there is to be made in anti-sex worker activism. As sex workers, we're constantly having our campaigns dismissed on the grounds that everything we say must be a lie because we have a financial stake in sex work. It drives me crazy that it's a one-sized argument, as though only sex workers profit from sex work. Your average sex worker makes substantially less than an anti-sex worker academic or nonprofit, so who really has a "financial incentive" to say what they say?
Some Twitter exchanges made me realize I should post the data I already collected, and I decided to update the tax returns for some popular foundations that oppose sex workers rights. Catherine MacKinnon's base salary statement was obtained a couple of years ago with a FOIA request against her employer, the University of Michigan, a state-funded university. (They have to disclose if you ask, google for "FOIA template" for the format.) The other tax returns are from 501(c)3 nonprofits, which make them public information.
Catherine MacKinnon's base salary (not including bonuses, insurance, speaking engagements, writing, and tours) was $273,000 for 9 months of work in 2009 (page 386, huge file) and $280,000 for 9 months of work in 2010 (page 394, huge file).
The biggest winner is, of course, the Hunt Alternatives Fund, which took in a whopping $12,976,136 in 2012. A 20-hour a week job at this foundation paid one "advisor" $101,562 in salary and benefits! Under "direct charitable activities," HAF say they spent $1,409,171 "eradicating the demand for purchased sex." While Swanee Hunt and family were the top donors, this foundation also received an even one million dollars from Norway's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Shared Hope International (which campaigns against prostitution among other activities), which raked in $2,253,367 in 2011.
The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women raked in $1,161,729 in 2012.
Fireproof Ministries, which runs XXXChurch, raked in $610,719 in 2011. $102,350 of this went directly into the pocket of Craig Gross in the form of a salary. (I've never netted that much as a pornographer! I should have gotten into running anti-porn sites.)
Shelley Lubben's Pink Cross Foundation raked in $137,183 in 2012. Shelley officially draws a modest $57,640 in salary and compensation.
Melissa Farley (who has glowingly referred to sex workers as "house niggers") heads a group called Prostitution Research and Education, which raked in a mere $81,958 in 2012.
Cite these figures when you're talking to people who think that our side is the only one with something financial to gain. I wish I knew more about individual anti-sex worker activists. I still want to flesh out the anti-sex worker activist tracker. Let me know if you have links to add.
by Furry Girl
"Here's what I, personally, have observed about the sex industry: If, before she ever enters the sex industry, a woman is an emotionally troubled person with poor self-esteem and a history of bad decisions, she'll continue making bad decisions and suffering the negative consequences while she's in the business. But now, some of them will be sex-work-related decisions and consequences, so it's easy for people to say, "Well, obviously it's because she's a sex worker. See what an unhappy, damaging life it is?" And she'll probably agree with them, because it's easy for a troubled, low-self-esteem person to buy into the victim mentality. That way, she can then avoid taking any responsibility for her choices. So she's tucked neatly into the victim pigeon-hole, and everyone thanks goodness they don't have to examine any potentially unsettling ideas any further. Their pre-existing beliefs have been confirmed and they feel righteous.
Now, she could fuck up her life just as badly if she were a waitress at Denny's. But that's not as sexy, so no one writes newspaper articles about that.
You see, the work itself doesn't fuck you up - it just magnifies what's already there."
-- Mistress Matisse in an untitled post on mistressmatisse.blogspot.com
This is probably my favorite thing that she's ever written. It's from 2004, and these observations completely match my experiences in the sex industry as well.
by Furry Girl
This little scene from Half Baked has played in my head many times over the last year.
Furry Girl: a good time not yet had by all.
- I operate SWAAY.org, an accessible sex workers' rights site that educates the general public about our lives and our issues.
- I've been vegan for 14 years because I don't believe in exploiting and killing others for my own petty amusements.
My adult sites
- Cocksexual.com: Strapons
- EroticRed.com: Menstruation
- FurryGirl.com: Unshaved
- TheSensualVegan.com: Store
- VegPorn.com: Herbivores
More of me online
Enjoy my writing? I enjoy presents!
Buy SWAAY shirts:
Browse by topic
- (Anti-) Beauty Standards
- 80s Movies' Wisdom
- Add to Your Lexicon
- Advice for Sex Workers
- Allies and "Allies"
- Atheism / Religion
- Book Reviews
- Crab Mentality
- Events & Happenings
- Frequently Addressed Accusations
- Government & Law
- Infographics, Memes, & Ads
- Kink / BDSM
- Labor politics
- Leisure of the Theory Class
- Love, Relationships, & Family
- Nutters & Moralizers
- Other Political Issues
- Privacy & Anonymity
- Queer / Gender
- Seattle / WA Local
- Sex Toys & Products
- Sex Work
- Trafficking / "Rescue"
- Transitioning Out of Sex Work
- Violence Against Sex Workers
- Women as Oppressors
New to my blog? Some favorite posts
- "You have no right to dislike feminism after all it's done for you!"
- "You misrepresent true feminism by focusing on the bad feminists. They're not real feminists anyway!"
- An argument for more sex workers to be out?
- Degrading, violent desires
- Do you have what it takes to be an empowered sex worker?
- Feminism is the shitty relationship you had in your early 20s
- Feminist porn isn't a branch of sex workers' rights, it's an obstacle
- How are we branding sex workers rights in the US? (Let's focus more on *worker*, less on *sex*!)
- How to do your homework on trafficking, "rescue", and the affected communities
- Let's stop pretending that "objectification" is a thing that exists
- Musings on ethical porn and the red herrings of "feminist porn" and "violent porn"
- My call for a "working" class uprising against inaccessible discourse and the over-representation of dabblers
- Sex trafficking is the new crack: manufactured "epidemics" as political tools
- The common logical fallacies deployed by anti-sex worker activists
- Things I've gained from being a sex worker: an anti-paternalistic perspective
- Vigilantism and 'crushing bastards': in praise of anger, hatred, and taking joy in the smiting of one's enemies
- Want to play BINGO with the antis?
- Watch out for psuedoscience: my long-time nemeses of concern trolling and "teaching the controversy"
- What do I mean when I say "sex worker"? Why I'm against an overly-broad definition
- Why I call them "anti-sex worker" rather than "anti-porn" or "anti-prostitution," and why you should too
Favorite sex/ho blogs
- Amanda Brooks
- Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers
- Belle de Jour
- Born Whore
- Bound, Not Gagged
- Dan Savage on SLOG
- Danny Wylde
- Jiz Lee
- Laura Agustín
- Lux Nightmare [2006-2007]
- Maggie McNeill
- Our Porn, Ourselves
- Sequoia Redd
- Serpent Libertine
- Sexonomics by Brooke Magnanti
- Shit They Say to Sex Workers
- Stuff Sex Workers Eat