NYPD Will Stop Confiscating Condoms, Now About That Human Trafficking

NYPD Will Stop Confiscating Condoms, Now About That Human Trafficking

Pick up a free condom from one NYC government agency, and get thrown in jail for having it by another. That’s been life for New Yorkers for years, but it’s finally going to change.

Prosecutors will no longer use having condoms as evidence against you in a prostitution case. It’s about damn time, as this policy perfectly exemplifies how police and prosecutors victimize vulnerable people by enforcing laws against victimless crimes. Why in the world would you want to discourage sex workers from holding and using condoms when doing so vastly increases their risk of getting and spreading HIV and other STIs?

Now police have been instructed to stop confiscating condoms. Of course, they have also been instructed to stop unconstitutionally racially profiling people, and you see how well that worked.

And we’re not out of the water yet. The New York Times talked with to the New York Police Department’s chief spokesman, Paul J. Browne. “We do not rule out their evidentiary value when going after pimps and sex traffickers,” Browne said. “If there is a bowlful of condoms in a massage parlor, we want our officers to be able to seize them as evidence against the trafficker.”

UGH! Would you rather the “massages” be given bareback? Because that’s all you’re going to accomplish. If you think you can eradicate the world’s oldest profession by going undercover, getting touched and then thinking about making an arrest (yes, this happens on the regular) then I’ve got a bridge to sell you.


 

You do not need to confiscate a bowl full of condoms to convict someone of human trafficking. You can usually just, ya know, talk to one of the sex slaves.

Unfortunately, no one is listening to the sex workers. We’re now seeing a shift, thankfully, against locking women up for selling sex. But what it’s being replaced with isn’t much better. Now we’re prosecuting regular pimps for human trafficking.

Right now, the Manhattan DA is trying to charge two pimps with trafficking, which may put them in prison for up to 25 years. But two of their “slaves” are actually testifying in their pimps’ defense, saying they willingly participated. One of them described their relationship as “family.” One defendant, Vincent George, apparently supported her and the daughter they have together for years after she gave birth and took a break from sex work.

That this DA is using laws meant to protect people from being enslaved to strip women of their agency to make economic choices and to impose draconian sentences on their families and business associates is completely inappropriate.

This whole idea that someone has to pay because sex work makes us uncomfortable needs serious and immediate re-evaluation. Policies like condom confiscation and prosecutions like the aforementioned do nothing to solve the real problems, but they do ruin lives. Black market sex work makes life more dangerous for the workers and makes differentiating willing sex workers and slaves more difficult. We need to legalize sex work, and we need to stop working against and start working alongside sex workers to find and rescue the true slaves.

Photo by indi.ca

Screw the Feminists Who Are Trying to Ban Porn

Screw the Feminists Who Are Trying to Ban Porn

UK feminist groups Feminista and Object have begun a campaign to force retailers to stop selling magazines with images of naked and semi-naked women, using the Equality Act of 2010. This is bad news for sex-positive, individualist feminists for two reasons. First, it’s extremely off-putting from an outreach perspective. Second, it actually endangers individual liberty.

Look, porn is a mixed blessing. Where porn is prevalent, rates of violence against women fall. It may reinforce objectification of women. And its proliferation has wilted many an erection for real-life, unairbrushed and un-extreme partners.

There is a strong anti-porn movement in the United States as well. Catherine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin have led the charge against porn since the 1980s, and their supporters are still holding strong. But the thing about the First Amendment is that it’s not really supposed to be subject to our own personal, mercurial feels about things like porn.

Now, the UK doesn’t have the same kind of speech protection we enjoy in the United States. We have spent many-a-long year attempting to decide what counts as “obscenity”—which is the kind of speech governments can regulate—and what just counts as pornography—which they can’t. After a long time fighting about it, the Supreme Court came up with the following guidelines for what counts as obscene:

  • Whether the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest (which has, of course, become complicated with the advent of the Internet).
  • Whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law.
  • Whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.

Why is this? It’s not as if the founding fathers and the Courts were like, “Congress shall make no law, unless, ya know, misogyny.”

I take umbrage to this crap because as a sex-positive, individual feminist, this makes it much harder to defend feminism. Most of feminism’s flaws are really just annoying. Oh, you get too upset with slut-shamers and don’t have a sense of humor? Well that’s unfortunate and makes feminism a harder sell.

But when sex-negative, collectivist feminists propose laws that limit individuals’ right to free expression and prevent business owners from selling the wares they want to sell in their own businesses, it’s actually dangerous. This is where I have to agree with people who say feminism is bad. This kind of feminism really is.

One interesting aspect of the move to ban porn is how it dovetails nicely with the evangelical drive to ban sex toys. Both groups use ideology to justify using the state to police what objects people use, voluntarily and in the privacy of their own homes, to get off.

That women feel harassed by having to work with and around porn magazines is one argument for the law, depending on how the UK defines harassment (it probably wouldn’t be here in the U.S.). But couldn’t the same argument be made by men who, for whatever reason, feel harassed by Cosmo? Should the law intervene anytime someone is uncomfortable? This is where the liberty to work where you want to work is essential. I suspect Great Britain could do a lot to expand that freedom, and that would be a great place for individualist feminists to start.

In addition, if women feel that porn, in and of itself, constitutes harassment, that sounds like a great opportunity for a public awareness and education campaign. Convince consumers that porn is bad and shouldn’t be consumed, don’t try to outlaw its sale.

Certainly too much infighting can make movements less effective, but when feminists make moves that are antithetical to individual liberty, individualist feminists must step up to proclaim that this does not represent feminism. I cannot support any moves to limit free expression or infringe on business owner’s rights, regardless of their intention.

This post originally appeared at Thoughts on Liberty.

Image via androlib.com

Why the Supreme Court’s Planned Parenthood Decision Means We Should End Medicaid

Why the Supreme Court’s Planned Parenthood Decision Means We Should End Medicaid

The Supreme Court refused to consider approving an Indiana law, currently blocked by an appeals court, which prevented groups that provide abortions from taking government funding for other services. So now Planned Parenthood, the country’s largest provider of abortions, can continue to use Medicaid dollars to fund other services such as cancer and STI screenings in Indiana. It still cannot, however, use Medicaid dollars to fund abortions due to state and federal law.

This case brings up the problem not with Planned Parenthood getting state funds, but with Medicaid as a whole. Medicaid, not Planned Parenthood, should be defunded because of its intractable ethical and financial problems.

It should come as no surprise that people feel uncomfortable coming anywhere near using taxpayer dollars to fund abortion in a country where support for abortion hovers around half the population, and declines steeply as pregnancies progress. There are now more than a dozen states which have enacted or considered laws cutting off taxpayer money for organizations which provide abortion.

Many people argue for defunding Planned Parenthood, which is a good idea for several reasons. As Thoughts on Liberty’s Gina Luttrell put it:

Part of the reason why Planned Parenthood is subject to its ups and downs is because of state funding. Aside from the legality of abortion generally, Planned Parenthood would not be under as much scrutiny by Congress as it is now if it didn’t receive funding. They would have no hold on them! How hollow would the cries of social conservatives be to “defund Planned Parenthood” if in fact Planned Parenthood was independent and called its own shots? Hollow indeed, my friends.

But I want to focus instead on why the case brings up why it’s an even better idea to defund Medicaid. Using taxpayer dollars to fund people’s medical care makes a certain amount of sense. How could such a prosperous nation allow some of our citizens to go without basic medical care? Well, two central questions remain: what is basic medical care, how does collectively paying for it affect its cost?

When everyone pays for something, two things pretty much always happen. First, people get upset because what they’re paying for violates their conscience.

Regardless of your feelings on abortion, two things are true: 1. Abortion is a medical procedure, 2. A lot of women get at least one. On that basis, abortion is absolutely basic medical care. So any program that’s supposed to provide medical care should include abortion. But that squicks a lot of people out.

The second thing that always happens when people pay for something collectively is that subsidizing that thing boosts demand without boosting supply, making it more expensive. So it is with health care.

Charles Blauhaus at Mercatus explains why Medicaid is doomed. Projections…

point to a coming cost explosion. They embody substantially higher future growth rates than states faced during the last decade. Medicaid already absorbs 24% of state budgets and is described by the bipartisan State Budget Crisis Task Force as “crowding out other needs.”

Medicaid needs to be phased out gradually to correct both of these problems. And then our entire health care system needs an overhaul so consumers can know and respond to prices, bringing costs down and quality up and ending the debate over directly and indirectly paying for procedures which we don’t like.

Photo by WeNews

Does Income or Education Correlate to Sex-Positivity or Non-Monogamy?

Does Income or Education Correlate to Sex-Positivity or Non-Monogamy?

Igor and I have now watched two episodes of Swingtown. IMBD:

As America celebrates its 200th birthday, two generations of friends and neighbors in a Chicago suburb explore new freedoms and seek connections with each other in the midst of the socio/sexual revolution.

Apparently it’s super old, and it’s about swingers. The show begins a a couple, Susan and Bruce Miller, move into a nicer neighborhood as Bruce is making more money. They meet a new couple in their new neighborhood with new ways of partying. The couple they had been friends with in their old neighborhood are not open to this.

One thing that I noticed was that it seemed like non-monogamy was more prevalent in the wealthier neighborhood than in the less affluent neighborhood. The swinging couple drives a BMW convertible. The square couple, a station wagon.

This got me wondering whether there is any connection between income and education and sex-positivity or non-monogamy. I couldn’t find out. I searched Google, then gallup.com and rasmussenreports.com for polls on “monogamy” and got absolutely nothing from either.

However, I did find the Pew Research Center Values Study. It appears that if your income and education are lower, you’re more likely to hold old-fashioned values about family and marriage. 

This chart shows that as income increases, the likelihood that you hold old-fashioned values about family and marriage decreases.

family values 2

This chart shows that as education increases, the likelihood that you hold old-fashioned values about family and marriage decreases.

family-values

So that’s interesting. It’s pretty well established that in the US, the higher your income and education, the less likely you are to be very religious. And I believe that a high level of religiousness often precludes a lot of non-monogamy and much of sex-positivity, as it involves the idea that all consensual sex is “right,” whatever that means to you. But I’d love hard data on that.

Camille Paglia just reviewed some books on BDSM, which isn’t necessarily non-monogamy, but is sex-positive. She describes one author’s treatment of class in the BDSM community. Paglia discusses how Staci Newmahr, an assistant professor of sociology at Buffalo State College, describes the BDSM participants she studied:

In describing her subjects’ style of “blunt speaking” and boasting, as well as their disconcerting invasion of personal space in conversation, however, Newmahr does not mention social class, about which she says little in her book. I would hazard a guess that she was uncovering the difference between lower-middle-class and upper-middle-class manners—the latter characterizing the world she customarily inhabits as an academic.

I’m not sure what the correlation is between income, education, sex-positivity and non-monogamy is, but I’d really love to. This isn’t to say that if rich, well-educated people do it it must be “good” or “best” for everyone. Hardly. But I do think that sometimes, like with gay marriage, what rich, well-educated people do first predicts how the rest of the population will eventually go.

I hypothesize that, like with gay marriage, sex-positivity and non-monogamy are more accepted in richer, better educated parts of the population, and that they will become much more mainstream as time goes on. But I could be wrong. It’ll be interesting to see.

SWAT Team Raid on Movie Theater Sex Show — Seems Legit

SWAT Team Raid on Movie Theater Sex Show — Seems Legit

So you’re a janitor at a Syracuse, Utah movie theater. You want to see a live sex show and make a little extra money. Why not recruit participants from Craigslist and charge admission? Well, everything was going swimmingly, until it was revealed that two of the viewers turned out undercover police officers who decided to arrest and book six of the participants. 

Not only did the threat of six people having sex with each other warrant undercover police officers, but apparently the Davis Metro Police Department also sent out a SWAT team “because it was unknown how many people would be attending.” What are the cops afraid of that they need to be wearing SWAT gear? An extra-hard dildo?

Now these six people have been charged with victimless crimes such as distributing pornographic material and sexual solicitation. Someone explain to me, with more than just “yuck,” why are these are against the law again.

Apparently the owner of the theater is unhappy about what happened, which is understandable, especially if he wasn’t offered a cut of the $35 – $74 admission price (depending on whether you’re watching or taking part). But shouldn’t this be a firing-and-lawsuit situation, and not a rape-cage and misdemeanor situation?

Via Sex Worker Problems

Via Sex Worker Problems