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
I've noticed my local government's anti-trafficking ads on the sides of buses, but haven't mentioned them on my blog. Then I really saw one yesterday that did something I have never, ever seen before from a mainstream anti-trafficking campaign: declare that women can be traffickers and men can be victims. Sure, this dynamic is no shocker to people who actually know anything about migrant labor, but to see it in a county-funded ad campaign blew me away.
King County's anti-trafficking campaign has many flaws, of course, but I will say that I appreciate that the ads are not just about sex slavery. The campaign uses the Polaris Project, a Christian morality NGO as a "fact" source; is partnered with the Somaly Mam Foundation, which sends Cambodian sex workers to private prisons where they are sexually abused; and links to a Shared Hope International anti-prostitution page as a resource. So the campaign is deeply problematic and based in the lies of anti-sex worker hysterics and religious nuts, and I'm not defending that.
But I think this is still a tiny, possibly hopeful step in the right direction, because the campaign is about the many faces of forced trafficking, not just the sexy sex trafficking for sexy sexual abuse thing that we normally see. There are three ad designs, and only one is about sex trafficking. The other two imply domestic labor.
by Furry Girl
I've spent almost the entire last 5 days researching the groups that Google is now funding. Please see the campaign page and read something I've put a lot of time info!
Why are sex workers' rights supporters upset with Google?
Google announced last week that they are making the largest-ever corporate donation to "ending modern day slavery": an impressive $11.5 million dollars. We applaud and support Google's desire to fight slavery, forced trafficking, and exploitative labor conditions, but Google's funding recipients include three NGOs that cause serious harm to sex workers in around the world: International Justice Mission, Polaris Project, and Not for Sale. As small sex worker support services struggle for funding to serve their communities, it is offensive to watch Google shower money upon a wealthy faith-based group like the International Justice Mission, which took in nearly $22 million dollars in 2009 alone. (In contrast, the St. James Infirmary, a San Francisco clinic that provides free healthcare to sex workers, operated on only $335k in 2010.)
Does Google know what their money is really supporting? Let's take a look at what you won't read about on the front pages these groups' glossy web sites.
Also, I'll be protesting outside of Google's Seattle building on Wednesday from 2-4pm (on the bridge next to it, to be specific). There are also protests in other locations, too, so check the campaign page. Please join me so I don't have to feel like a lonely sad protester.
by Furry Girl
I'm late to mentioning the recent murders of sex workers in Long Island. Honestly, sometimes I just don't have the spare emotional bandwidth to write about profoundly depressing things.
Audacia Ray sums up the Long Island situation on The Red Umbrella Project with a call to action that has been circulating widely in the last couple of weeks, which I'm re-posting here as a reminder/signal booster:
In the week leading up to December 17, 2010 – the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers – the remains of four women who were killed while doing sex work were discovered on a beach in Long Island. Over the past two weeks, the remains of six more bodies have been found in the same area. Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer has requested that anyone involved in the sex industry who may have information about the disappearance of colleagues come forward and share this information with the police. But there remains a rather large barrier: prostitution is criminalized, and sex workers have no guarantee that we will be protected from prosecution if we step forward. Therefore, we are calling for amnesty for all prostitution related offenses in Suffolk County until the killer is apprehended.
If you are a sex worker or an ally of sex workers, please contact the office of the Suffolk County Police Commissioner and District Attorney and make this request. The Police Commissioner has been speaking publicly about this issue, but the DA has the ultimate authority to grant amnesty. We especially need people who live in the New York City / Long Island area, especially Suffolk county, to make calls and send emails. In your request, you can feel free to personalize with information about your experiences or feelings about these cases.
Here is a sample letter, which can be emailed to SCPDINFO@suffolkcountyny.gov and firstname.lastname@example.org:
Dear Commissioner Dormer and District Attorney Spota,
I am a sex worker / ally to sex workers who lives in Suffolk County / the greater New York City area and I am writing to express concerns my community has about the lack of protection police are offering to sex workers. During this time of extreme anxiety following the discovery of the remains of at least 10 people, it is important for you to extend goodwill to our community.
We appreciate that you have invited sex workers to come forward with information that may help in the investigation of these crimes, but we are requesting that you formally establish amnesty for prostitution related offenses until the killer has been apprehended. Declaring amnesty would go a long way in demonstrating that the police are serious about prioritizing the lives of sex workers.
Organizational affiliation (if any)
Sample phone script - you can call (631) 852-2677 (SCPD) and (631) 852 – 2575 (DA’s Homicide Bureau):
Hello, I am a sex worker / ally to sex workers who lives in Suffolk County / the greater New York City area. I am calling to request that DA Spota formally establish amnesty for prostitution related offenses until the serial killer is apprehended. If the police motto is to protect and serve, you must work harder to extend this to sex workers.
The precedent: In 2006, when the “Suffolk Strangler” case was developing in Ipswich, England, the police department responded positively for a demand for amnesty put forth by the English Collective of Prostitutes. While the homicide investigations were underway, British police didn’t arrest sex workers. Here is a piece about the request, and a follow up piece in which Assistant Chief Constable Jacqui Cheer is quoted saying, “The welfare of the prostitutes working in Suffolk is my priority at this time.” Let’s put pressure on the nearer Suffolk county to respond similarly.
[Edited to add: I sent my own email after posting this, incorporating a suggestion from Sequoia Redd: asking for the amnesty for both sex workers and their clients.]
by Furry Girl
"See, the problem with raids is that you have the people who want to rescue women and children who are in prostitution, using the oppressive arms of the state - the most oppressive arm of the state, which is the police - to conduct this 'rescue operation' through a raid. [...] The community is never ever going to respond to anybody who is bringing in the police to rescue them, because they do not view that as a 'rescue'. They view that as another oppressive thing that's done to them."
-- Meena Seshu, founder of SANGRAM in India, in Caught between the tiger and the crocodile on sexworkerspresent.blip.tv
by Furry Girl
Sex workers and sluts are catnip for those who fancy themselves amateur psychologists. "What awful things happened to her to make her turn out like that?", they wonder, disgustedly and excitedly, scratching their heads and seeking to unravel what titillating damage has been inflicted upon the presumed victim. Apparently, one must have been raped by their father and beaten by their partners to turn out so deeply fucked up that they would be like me and happily embrace many facets of their sexuality and body.
Well, fuck you to anyone who thinks that accusing sex workers of being rape/violence survivors is a clever zinger of a debate point. I have seen self-proclaimed feminists do this more times than I care to count. They paternalize up their argument a bit, but at the core is a self-satisfied, "Haha! I bet you've been raped! You're a victim with no power to make your own decisions, ever! I totally win the porn debate!"
It's with this history of strangers projecting their scandalous ideas of my past upon me that I've always been hesitant to mention the bad things that have happened. When accusations of being a rape/violence survivor get turned into a way to attack someone else's credibility and choices, (but only of that someone else is a sex worker, of course), sex workers aren't as likely to speak up about actual, non-imagined abuse. It's giving cannon-fodder to the enemy.
Before I ever got naked on the internet, I had two partners physically assault me (one repeatedly, another just once), and another choke me once. Do the actions of these men define me for the rest of my life? Should "we" give abusers that power? Must I now wear the scarlet V for "victim" around my neck so that others know to treat me delicately and make "good" decisions for me? Am I a perfectly-packaged imaginary cliche of a helpless battered woman who "turned to porn"?
Again, fuck you to anyone who thinks so.
All things considered, I feel like I've run through the gauntlet of life thus far relatively unscathed. But, why do some people assume, or even insist, that I must have had it worse? Why do so many "progressive"/"feminist" outsiders have a need to believe that all sex workers have been raped and attacked?
It makes me want to go all amateur psychologist and ask, "What awful things happened to this person to make them fantasize so much about sexual women being assaulted and raped?"
Furry Girl: legs now closed for business.
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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
Vaguely similar 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
- Women Against Feminism