We’ve expressed our concern in the past about the inability of activists to see the difference between sex trafficking victims and those who engage in prostitution by choice and how failing to make that distinction hurts everyone involved. Yet the more we point that out, the more organizations spring from the woodwork, clamoring to stop the sale of human beings without regard for how their campaigns may conflate the two distinct situations, like in this video from Stop the Traffik:
Knee-jerk reactions to campaigns like these lead to the criminalization of prostitution, creating environments where exploitation, abuse, coercion and trafficking are made easier, not harder. … Continue Reading
Meet Sarah Tressler. By day, she writes about Houston society for the Houston Chronicle. It’s not the most fascinating job, but a great place to start for a journalist trying to make her way through the decaying body of an industry that still hasn’t managed to come up with a model that supports their costs in this time of the open web.
Once deadlines are met, assuming she’s not teaching writing as an adjunct professor at University of Houston, Tressler packs it up and heads to her other gig — at any of a handful strip clubs in Houston. Unsurprisingly, this job is the one that inspires the bulk of her writing. … Continue Reading
In November, Sasha Grey caused a stir after it was discovered that she had volunteered to read to kids at Emerson Elementary in Compton. No matter how poorly our kids are doing academically, how much funding schools have lost, or how much help the National Education Association could use, they refuse to stoop to accepting donations from persons or businesses of ill-repute. … Continue Reading
In an incisive piece on Salon, adult performer Lorelei Lee writes about her concerns with the condom ordinance that the city of Los Angeles recently passed. Like many in the adult industry, Lee questions the motivation of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which set into motion the events that would culminate in this ordinance. … Continue Reading
The International AIDS Conference — a gathering of all those involved in working for the eradication and treatment of HIV, as well as policymakers and activists — is returning to the United States after 22 years this July to assess the scientific progress that has been made and lobby for improvements in policy regarding the populations most affected by HIV and AIDS. … Continue Reading
As someone who has been researching and writing about slavery and trafficking since 2005, I worry that the overall desire to help on the part of Google has overridden a lot of details that must be understood if we are going to find a way to rid the world of trafficking and slavery. The most harmful and least understood of these details is the importance of supporting organizations that distinguish between consensual sex work and sexual slavery (something the State Department finally does and something NGOs must do to really help combat this blight). Several of the organizations that Google is funding do not make this necessary distinction. … Continue Reading
What our nervous sideway glances and jeers say is simple: if you let on that you have sex, you’re a danger to our children, and possibly to society itself. Never mind if you’re a tax-paying, law-abiding, philanthropic citizen otherwise — the second it becomes known that you have sex or are interested in it, you’re immediately labeled unfit.
This is what is happening right now with former porn star Sasha Grey, who quit the adult entertainment industry to focus on mainstream entertainment and has since appeared in the popular television series Entourage. She recently joined the National Education Association’s program Read Across America, which combats illiteracy by showing children the joy of the written word through age-appropriate book readings.
On Wednesday, November 2, Grey went to Emerson Elementary School in Compton, California and read Dog Breath by Dav Pikey to first and third graders. According to celebrity gossip site TMZ, parents were horrified to have a former pornographic star read to their children. They contacted the California Parent-Teacher Association, which got in touch with the principal of the school, demanding an explanation.
A representative of the school district denied Grey was among the stars who read to children each year, saying, “We have several celebrities who read to our students each year. The actress you have indicated was not present.”
This is technically true: usually, Read Across America is celebrated once a year on Dr. Seuss’s birthday in March. During the one-day celebration, stars read to the children of Compton United School District. Previous celebrity guests have included Raven Symone of That’s So Raven, Rachelle Lefevre of Twilight: New Moon, Quinton Aaron of The Blind Side, the voice of Spongebob Squarepants Tom Kinney, and many others. Sasha Grey was not present at the usual Read Across America celebration.
But she did read to children at Emerson Elementary with Read Across America, a program she joined because literacy is something she believes is essential.
“Illiteracy contributes to poverty; encouraging children to pick up a book is fundamental,” Grey said today in a statement posted on Twitter. The statement went on:
I believe education is a universal right. I committed to this program with the understanding that people would have their own opinions about what I have done, who I am and what I represent.
I am an actor. I am an artist. I am a daughter. I am a sister. I am a partner. I have a past that some people may not agree with, but it does not define who I am. I will not live in fear of it.
To challenge non-profit education programs is an exercise in futility, counter-productive and anti-educational.
Here is a woman who is contributing her time to get kids excited about reading. But we don’t want her help. Even though she is dressed conservatively, even though she won’t speak about the adult aspect of her career, even though all she will do is sit and read — she is dangerous. She is a bad example. She had sex and she did it on camera, and we will never let her forget that.
Does anyone else see something wrong with this picture or do you agree that anyone who has participated in adult film is unsuitable to being around children? I don’t get it and you’re welcome to explain it to me.
In response to the developing story of Adult Industry Medical’s leak of some 15,000 adult performers’ real names and addresses, director and editor of Taboo magazine Ernest Greene speaks out. The following post first appeared as a response to our editrix on Fetlife and is reproduced here with permission:
Full disclosure first. I’m a board chairman emeritus (seven terms beginning with its creation) of the AIM clinic and might be said to have a dog in the fight, as AIM has been fighting off dogs of one sort or another since day one. I should also disclose that since AIM, in response to persistent nuisance litigation from a competing organization [Editrix's note: AIDS Healthcare Foundation], surrendered its non-profit status and became a commercial clinic, I have had no direct affiliation with it. However, I remain a strong supporter of AIM’s work and its mission and feel it has been unfairly tarred in this mess. … Continue Reading
The Cambridge Union Society, founded in 1815, likes its debates. Last week, the historic union tackled pornography, concluding — by 44 votes — that it “provides a good public service.”
The debate attracted a great deal of attention in the media last month because of the amount of people from the adult industry who were on board to participate. For the proponents, there was Anna Span; Johnny Anglais, the Essex teacher who was outed as a porn star last year and dismissed; and the sex educator Jessi Fischer. On the side of the opposition was the born-again-Christian and former porn star Shelley Lubben; the antiporn feminist Dr. Gail Dines; and Dr. Richard Woolfson, a child psychologist. … Continue Reading
That Steam allows the objectification and sexualization of female characters in a variety of its games but refuses to accept a game about actually engaging with women in a more interactive fashion is astonishingly backward.
That the site doesn’t take measures to protect user content and has shown incompetence or negligence in regard to user privacy, all the while prohibiting victims from warning others about predatory behavior creates an environment where it is nearly impossible for members of the community to take care of themselves and one another. By enabling FetLife to continue espousing a code of silence, allowing the spinning self-created security issues as “attacks,” and not pointing out how disingenuous FetLife statements about safety are, we are allowing our community to become a breeding ground for exploitation.
Should people who benefit (parents, siblings, children, roommates!) from the earnings of “commercial sex acts” (any sexual conduct connected to the giving or receiving of something of value) be charged with human trafficking? Should someone who creates obscene material that is deemed “deviant” be charged as with human trafficking? Should someone who profits from obscene materials be charged with human trafficking? Should people transporting obscene materials be charged with human trafficking? Should a person who engages in sex with someone claiming to be above the age of consent or furnishing a fake ID to this effect be charged with human trafficking? What if I told you the sentences for that kind of conviction were eight, 14 or 20 years in prison, a fine not to exceed $500,000, and life as a registered sex offender?
If you are a woman, you might be given a chance to prove yourself in this community. Since there is no standard definition of what a “geek” is and it will vary from one judge to the next anyway, chances of failing are high (cake and grief counseling will be available after the conclusion of the test!). If you somehow manage to succeed, you’ll be tested again and again by anyone who encounters you until you manage to establish yourself like, say, Felicia Day. But even then, you’ll be questioned. As a woman, your whole existence within the geek community will be nothing but a series of tests — if you’re lucky. If you aren’t lucky, you’ll be harassed and threatened and those within the culture will tacitly agree that you deserve it.
Zak’s original field, it turns out, is economics, a far cry from the hearts and teddy bears we imagine when we consider his nickname. But after performing experiments on generosity, Zak stumbled on the importance of trust in interactions, which led him, rather inevitably, to research about oxytocin. Oxytocin, you might remember, is a hormone that has been linked previously to bonding — between mothers and children primarily, but also between partners. What Zak has done is take the research a step further, arguing in his recent book, The Moral Molecule, that oxytocin plays a role in determining whether we are good or evil.
Let’s talk about the strippers. Whether they like to be half-naked or not, whether they enjoy turning you on or not, there’s one thing they all have in common: they’re working. Whether you think that taking one’s clothes off for money is a great choice of career is really beside the point (is it a possibility for you to make $500 per hour at your job without a law degree? Just asking). These women are providing fantasy, yes, but that is their job. And as a patron of the establishment where they work, you need to treat them like you would anyone else who provides a service to you.
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