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“Unhealthy”: On Coping with Pain in Socially Inappropriate Ways – New Zine Release!

Date: October 12, 2011

I am announcing the publication of a brand new zine, “Unhealthy”: On Coping wiht Pain in Socially Inappropriate Ways. It is a very personal zine about negative strategies to cope with the aftermath of childhood sexual abuse. It is written from the perspective that the “trauma industry” of psychiatry, self-help books, therapy groups, etc. alienate some (possibly many) survivors when they glorify individualistic internalization of positivity, optimism, and hope as normative. The title comes from performance artist Penny Arcade’s famous line from the show “Bad Reputation”:

being a bad girl is not about wearing too much makeup,
too short skirts, or fishnet stockings
it’s about being cut out, and left out of the society
because you can’t handle the pain in your life
in a way the society thinks is appropriate
so you’re mute with rage, you act out, you’re bad

From the introduction:

i have been making zines for about ten years, mostly on social and political issues that affect me and my friends. this zine also addresses an urgent social and political issue that impacts me and too many people that i know, but it is much more personal than anything else i’ve created in the past. that is: this zine deals with the topic of childhood sexual abuse and its continuing impact in my and other survivors’ lives.

this zine also challenges ways in which social service industry and the anti-violence movement have promoted a singular mode of “healing,” the cult of compulsory positivity, that does not work for some survivors.

for many years, i had difficulty expressing why i despise “affirmations” and other exercises designed to improve our self-esteem, or the whole notion of “healing” that presumes a “healed” state to which i am expected to aspire to. people haven’t been receptive to my objections, and suggested that i either needed to try a little bit harder, or that i was “not ready” to heal just yet. “don’t worry, it is a hard work but you will get there when it’s time.” i found these comments invalidating and patronizing, but didn’t know how to respond.

this zine is an attempt to formulate a response to these challenges and to connect with other survivors who also feel invalidated and excluded by people and institutions that are supposed to help us. i also hope that this zine might in some remote way inform people in the helping professions as well as those of us whose loved ones, family members, and friends are survivors of abuse (that should include all of us, whether or not you realize) understand survivors’ (or at least some survivors’) experiences better. i hope that this zine helps them become better at supporting survivors who use survival strategies that involve negativity, defeatism, withdrawal, lowered expectations, hopelessness, pessimism, emptiness, ambivalence, contradictions, self-injury, indecision, inappropriate feelings, passivity, masochism, silence, substance use and abuse, promiscuity, melancholy, and other so-called “unhealthy” or “maladaptive” behaviors some (or most) of the time.

this zine definitely isn’t for everybody or for every survivor. i wrote it because i feel that it might help someone somewhere (possibly just me) feel less crazy, and might lead to a fuller societal understanding and appreciation of survivors’ resilience in whatever ways it may manifest. but this zine could be a double-edged sward: if for any reason you feel that reading this zine might make it more difficult for you to survive rather than less, i ask that you trust your intuition and refrain from reading on, even as i explore and embrace counter-intuitive approaches to survival.

I want to make this zine accessible to other survivors who is interested in reading it, but I don’t want to put it for download or order online: it’s too personal for that mode of distribution. For now, there are three ways to get hold of this zine: 1. I will be carrying some copies on me at one of my presentations or other public events I attend (Seattle Spit this week, for example); 2. If you already know me personally, email or facebook message me; 3. If you don’t know me personally but you still want a copy, get to know me by emailing me and telling me why you want a copy.

I apologise for inconvenience…

cover image

Understanding the Complexities of Sex Trafficking and Sex Work/Trade: Ten Observations from a Sex Worker Activist/Survivor/Feminist

Date: October 8, 2011

PDF version here: Download – Print back to back upside down, then cut the paper in half horizontally. Makes two copies from a letter-sized paper. Feel free to distribute, but I’d love to know where and how you are using them.

1. Start from the assumption that women’s (and other people’s) experiences in the sex trade are diverse and complicated, just like women’s experiences in the institution of marriage.

2. Sex trade is often one of the few means of survival employed by members of marginalized communities. Criminalizing or taking away means of survival without replacing it with other, more preferable options and resources (as judged by people who engage in this activity) threatens the lives of marginalized people. If, on the other hand, we could actually provide more preferable options and resources, there is no need to criminalize or take away the option of trading sex.

3. The presence of consent does not imply fairness of the transaction, because consent can exist under deeply problematic relationships of power. Consent does not imply that one is solely and individually responsible for all consequences of the act performed consensually.

4. There is nonetheless a meaningful distinction between consensual and unconsensual sexual transactions because it helps us to recognize modes of intervention that are helpful rather than counter-productive to those involved. People who engage in consensual sex trade are harmed if the transaction is stopped, while those who are part of unconsensual acts are harmed if the transaction isn’t stopped.

5. Work under neoliberalistic capitalist economy is often exploitative and degrading. Treating sex work “just like any other work” is inadequate when “other work” are often performed under unsafe or exploitative conditions. Selling and buying of sex as commodities can be exploitative and degrading, as are selling and buying of labor, health, and safety in the neoliberalistic capitalist marketplace.

6. Legalization or decriminalization of prostitution will not end State violence against people in the sex trade. There are other laws, such as those concerning drugs, immigration, and “quality of life” crimes, that are being used against them. Arguments over how the law should classify prostitution (legalizing, decriminalizing, criminalizing, Swedish model, etc.) eludes realities of communities that are targeted by State as well as societal violence.

7. It is undeniable that the mainstream pornography and sex industry reflect and perpetuate women’s lower status in relation to men. But so do mainstream media and workplaces–sometimes in more harmful ways.

8. It may seem theoretically plausible to eliminate sex trafficking by ending the demand for commercial sexual services. But in reality, any artificial reduction of demand through increased policing would be immediately followed by a decline of price, which would in turn create more demand again. “End demand” policies have a devastating impact on the women’s bargaining power to negotiate for more money and safer acts, putting their safety and health at greater risk.

9. Many “experts” and “spokespersons” for the anti-trafficking movement are social, fiscal, and religious conservative extremists who have promoted anti-welfare, anti-immigration, anti-gay agenda. These very policies break down families and make women and children vulnerable to sexual exploitation and trafficking. Feminists and human rights activists must choose our allies.

10. We cannot fight sex trafficking effectively without partnering with sex workers, people in the sex trade, and their advocates. All over the world, it was workers organizing among themselves that have challenged and transformed exploitative and abusive working conditions, not police officers or politicians. In addition, people working in the sex industry have access to insider knowledge that need to be incorporated into any successful campaign to combat sex trafficking and other human rights violations within the industry.

Film “Sex+Money”: Evidence #7290 that the Mainstream Anti-Trafficking Movement is a Conservative Christian Movement

Date: October 7, 2011

Last night I went to a Portland screening of the feature-length documentary, “Sex+Moey: A National Search for Human Worth.” It was a brilliantly produced and well-structured film, but unfortunately it did not go beyond what I had expected from seeing the trailer which repeated the myth of extremely low the “Average Age of Entry” into prostitution. It also quoted people claiming that there are 100,000 to 300,000 trafficked children in the U.S., which is demonstrably false.

The film lost me from the beginning when the young white producers pushed their professional-quality cameras into massage parlors with Chinese signs, grilling the older Asian business owners and managers (who did not seem to be very fluent in English) about services they provide. They tried to trick the managers into offering illegal sexual services, but were unable to do so; later, the producers discussed among themselves that they should plan better. Well perhaps they should have partnered with Asian immigrants’ and workers’ advocates if they were serious about addressing the safety and rights of women who work there.

The producers claimed that they interviewed 70+ people around the country including sex workers. But the few sex workers and allies they “interviewed” were ambushed at the adult industry expo or while counter-protesting anti-prostitution demonstration. All other interviewees were treated more formally in their office, home, or other setting. A porn actor’s statement that she enjoys her job is followed by some “expert” explaining, without evidence, that vast majority of sex workers have been abused as children and learned to treat sexual violation as the norm.

The film kept going back to policymakers like Sen. Sam Brownback (now Governor of Kansas) and former Rep. Linda Smith (now the director of Shared Hope International, which has not responded to my questions about the discrepancy between its own study and its public statements) as experts. But they fail to mention that Sen. Brownback was one of the leading religious conservatives in the Senate that want to cut social services to fund tax breaks for rich people and corporations, and create harsher conditions for undocumented immigrants–both of which will exacerbate the problem of human trafficking. Former Rep. Smith also had her day as the anti-abortion, family values conservative, whose policies have devastated women and children (and also, people who signed up to receive updates about Shared Hope also receive anti-abortion materials). And yet, the film treats them like heroes. Oh yea, they also interviewed anti-prostitution activist Melissa Farley so that she can make all those outlandish generalizations that we are already familiar with.

Trafficking survivors’ stories describing the violence they experienced from pimps and johns were chilling, and yet I kept feeling how similar they were to the stories of women abused by their husbands and boyfriends. In fact, if I were to make a film that depict all marriages or even heterosexual relationships as inherently abusive, I could interview some survivors of domestic violence and edit the footage to show exactly that. It would not be persuasive only because many viewers know from their experiences that not all husbands and boyfriends are violent, and there are many loving, caring heterosexual men out there. But most (white middle-class) people are not familiar with pimps, and most johns do not admit to being johns, so people get very limited ideas about pimps and johns from films like this. Anti-prostitution activists decry the glorification of pimp culture in the media, which I tend to agree with (hey I don’t think it’s so hard out here for a pimp), but their depiction of pimps as sadistic monsters is also overly simplistic.

There was an interesting segment during the film in which producers grapple with whether it is appropriate to classify all prostitution as slavery. Several “experts” argued either that it was appropriate to do so, or that it was merely a matter of degrees. The representative of Polaris Project actually made sense for once–he pointed out that, while there are cases of severe human rights violation that appear indistinguishable from slavery, we must be careful about the use of the term “slavery” because the word has a specific historical context in the United States. I agree: slavery in the U.S. was a complex institution supported by the Constitution, the law enforcement, the commerce, and the rest of the fabric of the mainstream society, and should not be applied lightly to individual cases of rights violation or even to the underground, illegal activities as a whole. But then, the use of the word “Polaris” in the organization–the north star that guided escaped slaves through the Underground Railroad–does seem to contradict his careful positioning in the matter.

After the film, they brought up local “experts” fighting domestic minor sex trafficking for a panel discussion. The panel consisted of an attorney working for children in foster care, a supervisor at Oregon Department of Health and Human Services, and an assistant US Attorney who heads the Oregon Human Trafficking Task Force. The emphasis on the State and police power was evident, despite the fact that the very youth they are trying to “rescue” experience police harassment and abuse all the time.

I also found a handout created by Multnomah County at the resources table set up outside the auditorium which posits the logo of Janus Youth (social service provider for youth on the street) next to the logo of Portland Police Bureau. This is a bad idea. I know Janus struggles to maintain a cooperative relationship with the police when they need it while shielding youth from bad interactions with the police, but over the last few years I’ve seen Janus become closer and closer to the police in its public presentation as more of their revenues began to come from anti-trafficking grants while traditional funding streams have narrowed due to the economy, cutting street outreach and other programs, and I am alarmed.

Ms. Magazine Blog quotes a line from my (really old and not so good) poem, and I panicked.

Date: September 27, 2011

A friend told me that a poem (not particularly a good one) I wrote almost a decade ago is being cited and linked from a new article posted in Ms. Magazine Blog. The article is in response to a statement issued by radical Black women criticising SlutWalk, and quotes a line from my very old poem that says “everyone is safe when sluts are safe.”

The author of the article, Janell Hobson, is also a Black woman, and I have nothing against her. But people began accessing my piece in droves, sharing it via Twitter, and I started feeling worried about getting drawn into this controversy. So I quickly wrote up what I felt about the topic, and replaced the poem with it. Below is the little write-up that is now on the URL that hosted the poem. It’s not a complete analysis and position paper on SlutWalk, but it’s not intended as such.

update 09/27/2011 – Hey people, I noticed that some people are linking to this piece in the context of recent discussions about SlutWalk. Please know that I wrote this piece almost a decade ago, under a different period. I’ve been recently approached by a couple of editors about reprinting this piece in a book or magazine, but I turned them down because I feel that the cultural climate has shifted in the post-SlutWalk era and I do not want this piece to be used out of context by people discussing the merits and demerits of SlutWalk.

As a participant in Portland’s SlutWalk this past summer, and the producer for a couple of events in early 2000s with the name “Sluts Against Rape,” I do believe in the validity of the strategy that seeks to disarm words and concepts like “slut” that are used to divide women/queers and harm us all. I further feel that some of the white radical feminist critics of SlutWalk have too often relied on mainstream media depiction of SlutWalk for their understanding of the movement, which is ironic because they, too, would be upset if we bought into the media stereotypes about the humourless, anti-sex “70s feminists.”

But when a group of women of colour I highly respect and work with stand up and make public statements criticising SlutWalk and its approaches, first and foremost I stand in solidarity even as I feel ambivalent about some points. If SlutWalk is to continue, the movement has to radically transform itself to incorporate concerns voiced by the radical Black women and other women of colour. I am not entirely in agreement with everything the statement says, but I firmly believe that they need to be taken seriously by anyone organising SlutWalk events.

I am therefore asking everyone to stop pitting my words against theirs to orchestrate an artificial conflict between me and other women of colour. There are genuine disagreements among women of colour, but they should be addressed directly between and among women of colour.

The short piece that used to be on this URL has been removed. You should still be able to find it if you really wanted to, but for now I want to place a barrier. I will probably restore it once the storm is over.

I support the Tantric practitioners charged with prostitution, but not on the first amendment ground.

Date: September 19, 2011

Earlier this month, Arizona authorities (which usually focus on harassing immigrants and brown-skinned people) raided Phoenix Goddess Temple and charged 30 people associated with the group for prostitution. Prosecutors allege that the Temple was a de facto brothel in which prostitutes were referred to as “sacred healers” and johns “seekers.” The Temple insists that its members practice “Tantra and Goddess worship as a religion,” calling the raid “a modern day witch hunt.”

I know what it feels like to be the target of the witch hunt (see my zine, Surviving the Witch-Hunt: Battle Notes from Portland’s 82nd Avenue, 2007-2010), and I sympathize with those who have been arrested or had close ones arrested. I do not think that they deserve to be persecuted, and believe that the charges against them should be dropped.

But I find it troubling that many sex worker activist friends are rushing to defend the Temple on the first amendment (religious freedom) ground. I am not criticizing the Tantric practitioners for invoking the first amendment in their legal defense–when you are persecuted, use whatever is within your reach to your advantage–but I am concerned that some of my friends in the sex workers’ rights movement are also using this angle.

To invoke first amendment to defend the Tantric practitioners implies that while they are good people who are simply following their religious and spiritual practices, the rest of us who trade sex for money not as a religious practice but to survive in this neo-liberalistic capitalist economy are bad whores that deserve to be punished. I don’t believe that this is what they are actually thinking, but it would logically follow from the “religious freedom” argument.

Media discourse on this topic seems to center around whether the Temple’s activities are legitimate religious practices or the Temple is merely a front for illegitimate operation. But it is the legitimacy of the State (or lack thereof) to persecute sexual healers and sex workers that must be at the focus (not to mention the legitimacy of the State to use violence to police the artificial borders drawn over indigenous and Mexican peoples’ land).

A friend told me that nonetheless this case could be a breakthrough for sex workers’ rights in the State that has become the epicenter of naked hate and bigotry in the recent years. But I feel resentful of the idea that Tantric healers are better than the rest of us who provide sexual services, and I am sick of religious entities claiming special exemptions (e.g. the religious freedom to discriminate against women and queers).

There of course is a difference between the dominant religious group imposing its doctrine on all others and a minority religion defending its practices deemed objectionable by the dominant group. But I feel uncomfortable with the strategy to distance the Temple and its practitioners from the rest of us who don’t have a neat constitutional clause to count on.

Historical: Catharine MacKinnon defended Clarence Thomas during his confirmation to the Supreme Court

Date: August 9, 2011

Found an interesting “roundtable” article in an old issue of Tikkun magazine in which Catharine MacKinnon defends Clarence Thomas during the early phase of his confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court (before Anita Hill’s story became public).

“Conservatives talk about the real injury that, say, pornography causes; liberalism trivializes that injury and defends it as the ‘free speech’ of pornographers. It makes more sense in terms of women’s life experiences to hear someone talk a right-wing ‘law-and-order’ line that at least acknowledges the reality of sexual violence against women. What I’m saying is that I’m not at all alarmed, as someone who, among other things, practices law, about the prospect of litigating before Judge Thomas. I feel I can talk to this man…I’m really opposed to the way that some women’s groups have been first off the starting block to condemn Thomas, based on scanty evidence about his views on abortion.”

– Catharine MacKinnon, in “Roundtable: Doubting Thomas.” Tikkun, 6(5):23-30.

Additional comments on Farley’s Scottish research, 2008 vs. 2011 versions

Date: July 19, 2011

After Iamcuriousblue informed me that Melissa Farley’s 2008 “study” on men who purchase sex from prostitutes in Scotland had been accepted for publication in Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, I spent a couple of hours comparing the 2008 report with the 2011 manuscript describing the same “study.” Below are some additional comments after reading both versions side by side.

Overall, the 2011 version removes many (but not all) unsupported editorializing and adds further statistical analysis. For example, a comment like this has been removed from the 2011 version (emphasis mine):

46% told us that going to a prostitute made a man a better lover. The opposite is likely the case. Women in prostitution train men to ejaculate quickly in order to decrease the men’s traumatic intrusion into their bodies.

The paragraph below (emphasis mine)

Another punter was a frequent prostitution tourist in Asia. He detailed the harsh conditions women were subject to in Thai and Cambodian prostitution. Exposing his narcissism and his sadism, he rationalised the commission of sexual violence against women and children. “I don’t get pleasure from other people’s suffering. I struggle with it but I can’t deny my own pleasures.”

is modified in the 2011 version as

Another study participant was a frequent prostitution tourist in Asia who spoke about the harsh conditions women were subject to in Thai and Cambodian prostitution. Rationalizing the commission of sexual violence against women and children, he told the interviewer, “I struggle with it but I can’t deny my own pleasures.”

Similarly, the following phragraph (emphasis mine)

Against common sense, the punters we interviewed insisted that the women they bought for sex were sexually satisfied by the punters’ sexual performances. Half (49%) of the men deluded themselves that the prostitutes they purchased were sexually satisfied 50%–100% of the time. In fact, nothing could be farther from the truth.

has been modified as follows:

Many of the interviewees stated that the women they bought for sex were often sexually satisfied by the men’s sexual perfor- mances. Approximately half of the men (49%) asserted that the women they purchased were sexually satisfied 50% or more of the time. On the other hand, 85% of the men also stated that prostitutes do not enter prostitution because they like sex.

There are several contradictions between the two versions. For example, the 2008 version states (emphasis mine)

They reasoned that if prostitution did not exist then some men would rape women who were not prostitutes. While none admitted that they themselves would rape, they were adamant that other men were incapable of controlling their impulse to sexual predation.

while the 2011 version claims (emphasis mine)

They reasoned that if prostitution did not exist then men would be more likely to rape women who were not prostitutes. Although few admitted that they themselves would rape, they asserted that other men were incapable of controlling an impulse to sexual aggression.

Iamcuriousblue suggests that the discrepancy can be a result of Farley’s “notorious lack of transparency in how she derives numbers from qualitative interviews.”

Another example of contradiction is the description of the newspaper ad Farley et al. used to solicit participants. In the 2008 version, participants are offered “an interview fee,” while the 2011 paper states that the ad promised an “honorarium.” While the discrepancy may appear to be inconsequential, they are both presented as the exact phrase used in the recruitment ad, and the fact that there is a contradiction between the two reports brings into question the authors’ handling of other materials such as men’s responses in the interview.

Also, there appears to be an internal contradiction in the 2011 paper when it states

Approximately one-third of the men justified prostitution simply as a means for men to satisfy their sexual desires. This was the most frequently offered justification for prostitution.

despite the fact more than one-third of the men agree with other justifications, for example:

Forty-one percent of the study participants subscribed to the belief that there is an inverse relationship between prostitution and rape. [...] They reasoned that if prostitution did not exist then men would be more likely to rape women who were not prostitutes.

Finally, both versions (unsurprisingly) contain many logical fallacies such as this:

The men we interviewed often simultaneously held diametrically opposing attitudes about prostitution. Nearly all the men (96%) stated that to a significant extent (50% or greater extent of agreement) prostitution was a consenting act between two adults. Yet at the same time, 73% noted that women prostitute strictly out of economic necessity, and 85% acknowledged that women did not enjoy the sex of prostitution.

The notion that prostitution is usually a consensual act between adults does not contradict the belief that “women prostitute strictly out of economic necessity” (or perform any other kind of labour for that matter), or that they do not necessarily enjoy the sex (or any other task one has to do to get paid in any occupation). And yet, Farley seems to think that these beliefs are “diametrically” opposed.

Farley apparently believes that commercial sex is unconsensual and violent unless prostitutes engage in it purely because they enjoy the sex, which is a ridiculous standard that is not applied to any other forms of labour. That is, most of us do not engage in other forms of income-earning activities (i.e. work) purely and solely because of the joy of performing them, but that alone does not make all of us victims of involuntary servitude.

But this ridiculous assumption is the foundation for Farley’s incoherent position that prostitution is inherently exploitative and violent, and I am disappointed that Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy would extend her the academic legitimacy that she does not deserve.

Some thoughts on the Newsweek story on the new Farley “research”

Date: July 19, 2011

Leslie Bennetts who apparently drunk the prostitution-is-violence-against-women cool-aid wrote an article in Newsweek (07/18/2011) titled “The John Next Door,” which is based on anti-prostitution “researcher” Melissa Farley’s new “research” on men who purchases sexual services.

The “study” was made “exclusive to Newsweek,” so we can’t actually read the report itself. So my comments are preliminary but here are some quick (and not so quick) thoughts:

1) The report is made “exclusive to Newsweek,” so we don’t know what methodology they used beyond what is included in the story (which is very little). Melissa Farley, the author of the report, has produced multiple previous “researches” on johns in different countries and regions, none of which (as far as I know) has been published in a peer-reviewed journal. The article does not refer to any other studies on the johns that have been published in peer-reviewed journals. (Edited to add: Apparently one of Farley’s articles have been accepted by a peer-reviewed journal. See comments for detail.)

2) In her previous “researches,” Farley recruited study participants (men who have purchased sexual services) via newspaper ads that read “Ever been a client of a prostitute? International research team would like to hear your views”, offering financial compensation. I don’t know how they recruited the participants this time around, but whether subjects who have been recruited this way are representative of all men who purchase sex is highly questionable. The new report seems to be different from the previous studies in that it includes the control group, but we do not know how the control was recruited either.

3) Much of the article consists of anecdotal statements that are supposedly illustrative of general tendencies among men who purchase sex and those who don’t, but there are no quantitative comparison between them. It is impossible to tell if the statements are actually representative of each group.

4) There are many unfounded editorializing and logical leaps. For example, one paragraph reads: “Many johns view their payment as giving them unfettered permission to degrade and assault women. ‘You get to treat a ho like a ho,’ one john said. ‘You can find a ho for any type of need–slapping, choking, aggressive sex beyond what your girlfriend will do.’” But the john’s statement (i.e. you can find a sex worker who would agree to participate in the enactment of violent fantasies like those described) does not indicate that he views his payment as giving him “unfettered permission to degrade and assault women.”

5) The story states “Farley’s findings suggest that the use of prostitution and pornography may cause men to become more aggressive.” She has made similar claims in her previous “researches” which have not been (and will probably not be) published in peer-reviewed journals, but has not provided the evidence that one causes another.

6) The story states that prostitutes “typically enter ‘the life’ between the ages of 12 and 14,” which is based on a demonstrably faulty interpretation of data. T.O.M.’s story is sad and infuriating, but its use as “a case in point” is questionable, as her experience (i.e. having been sold for the first time at age four) is very unusual.

7) The second half of the story slides the discussion on to sex trafficking rather than adult consensual commercial sex, as if they are the same thing. But it is the illegality of commercial sexual transaction itself that makes it more difficult to separate the two and confront the actual abuse and exploitation of children and women (and others).

8a) The article cites the 2004 study in American Journal of Epidemiology by Potterat et al. to indicate that “Prostitution has laways been risky for women; the average age of death is 34.” But this is misleading, because it does not mean that the average life expectancy for prostitutes is 34 or that the average prostitute dies at age 34. Potterat et al. are simply reporting that among the active prostitutes who died in the studied period, the average age at which they died was 34. If that is not clear, consider this analogy: average age at death for those who die while enrolling in college is probably somewhere near 20, but nobody would claim that the average college student dies at 20.

8b) The article also cites the same Potterat et al. study to say that “prostitutes suffer a ‘workplace homicide rate’ 51 times higher than that of the next most dangerous occupation, working in a liquor store.” But working in a liquor store is not “the next most dangerous occupation.” Potterat et al. state that taxicab drivers are much more likely to be murdered than liquor store clerks: the “workplace homicide rate” for prostitutes is seven times higher when compared to taxicab drivers. That is still pretty high, but why does Bennetts feel the need to exaggerate the already horrible figure?

8c) Further, “the overwhelming majority” of the “prostitutes” in this study were streetwalkers, and almost two-thirds were recruited at sexually transmitted infection clinic. Other participants were found at HIV testing sites or addiction treatment facilities, or identified by the police. Thus, the study systematically excludes prostitutes who are less visible to public health and law enforcement officers (e.g. escorts), who are likely to be much less prone to violence.

Anyway, it’s hard to say anything about the new Farley “study” until the actual report is made public and the research methodology is made transparent (and hopefully Farley would submit the paper for publication in peer-reviewed journal this time).

Also read: Melissa Farley in Scotland: Trivializing prostitution and trivializing violence against women by Elizabeth Wood

Oops. Serious typo in “War on Terror & War on Trafficking” zine

Date: July 12, 2011

Oops.

On page 33 of my zine, “War on Terror & War on Trafficking, I made a pretty bad typo. Under “Social and Economic Justice Model” on that page, I meant to say that the model demands “voluntary services” including medical care, instead I typed “involuntary services.” I’m sure that most people understand this is a typo, as I’m contrasting it with the “anti-trafficking model” which prescribes court-mandated “services.” But nonetheless, I apologize for the confusion.

The PDF version of the zine has been modified, and all future printings will be fixed as well. If you have already purchased the zine, please get your pen and cross out “in” in “involuntary.” Sowwee.

Starbucks gives away free male/masculine music

Date: June 25, 2011

So I go to Starbucks once a week or so, which is actually how frequently they give away promo codes which let customers download free “pick of the week” music through Apple iTunes. So I’ve been picking up the cards that contain these codes each week without actually downloading the music for the most part, and today I noticed that they have accumulated in a pocket of my purse. Here are the cards I’ve collected:

free song cards

Is it just me, or do you see the pattern as well? Week after week, Starbucks is picking male musicians and bands. In fact, the last female artist I remember on one of these cards is k.d. lang several months ago (which I downloaded), so perhaps it’s more accurate to say that Starbucks keeps picking artists who are masculine in their appearance (most of whom also happen to be men).

I don’t necessarily go to Starbucks every week, so perhaps they are featuring female and/or feminine-looking artists while I’m away from their stores. But that is unlikely. The question is, is the obvious male/masculine slant simply a reflection of the taste of whoever is picking the songs at Starbucks, or based on some sort of internal marketing data, or perhaps even a result of promotional strategies at record companies?

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