Under an 1805 "Crimes Against Nature" law
January 19, 2010 12:16 PM   Subscribe


 
New Orleans city police and the district attorney’s office are using a state law written for child molesters to charge hundreds of sex workers like Tabitha as sex offenders. The law, which dates back to 1805, makes it a crime against nature to engage in “unnatural copulation”—a term New Orleans cops and the district attorney’s office have interpreted to mean anal or oral sex.

I'd suggest that in New Orleans, to not engage in anal or oral sex is unnatural copulation.

I mean what the hell. "Unnatural copulation"? The police decide what this means? Yeah, I'd say next month's elections there can't come soon enough.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:22 PM on January 19, 2010 [7 favorites]


"If she needs to evacuate to a shelter during a hurricane, she must evacuate to a special shelter for sex offenders, and this shelter has no separate safe spaces for women."

Well, that sure seems like a good HAMBURGER of an idea.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:22 PM on January 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


Why aren't their johns being cited as sex offenders?
posted by ged at 12:22 PM on January 19, 2010 [41 favorites]


"If she needs to evacuate to a shelter during a hurricane, she must evacuate to a special shelter for sex offenders, and this shelter has no separate safe spaces for women.."
posted by hermitosis at 12:23 PM on January 19, 2010


Why aren't their johns being cited as sex offenders?

You took the words right out of my mouth. This is appalling.
posted by chara at 12:24 PM on January 19, 2010


Oh, redundant, missed the biscuit's hamburger.

But seriously, this is article made me incredibly sad.
posted by hermitosis at 12:24 PM on January 19, 2010


Why aren't their johns being cited as sex offenders?

Good question. That would mean that David Vitter could use his franking privilege to send out his sex offender registry postcards.
posted by felix betachat at 12:26 PM on January 19, 2010 [10 favorites]


I have yet to see a good use of sex offender legislation. The concept is supposed to be that one serves their time, is rehabilitated, and then is able to live their life after paying their debt to society. Instead, the "sex offender" label ruins lives permanently for anything from public urination to streaking.

If a person's really a true danger to society, there are prison sentences and probation. Otherwise, let them live.
posted by explosion at 12:27 PM on January 19, 2010 [42 favorites]


this is just insane. have people lost their brains entirely? what possible good could come from this? why would anyone even suggest it?

who is supposed to benefit? i guess the people who run prisons.
posted by Maias at 12:27 PM on January 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


Ah, yes. Stigmatizing them for life and making it difficult for them to seek legitimate employment will be exactly the kind of rehabilitation they need.

How is the PD and DA able to get away with this kind of revisionism without judicial or legislative oversight?
posted by Burhanistan at 12:28 PM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've got a three-part response to this.

1) The sex offender registry is a terrible idea. There are no studies which indicate that it does anything to reduce victimization, and it permanently destroys the lives of those placed upon it.

2) Given that, registering prostitutes as sex offenders makes a lot more sense than registering a lot of other "offenders." I mean, someone who publicly solicits payment for sexual favors would seem to have a much bigger impact upon property values than a nineteen-year old making out with his sixteen-year-old girlfriend.

3) But even given that, this seems like a pretty terrible way of doing things. As in I'd want to characterize this as a pretty major violation of due process. If the legislature wants to pass a law saying that prostitution is an offence which will get you on the sex offender registry, hey, they can do that, but dredging up a two-centuries old law--which pre-dates the state's admission to the Union, I might add---seems like a really unfair way of accomplishing this.

You molest a kid, yeah, you have a reasonable expectation that you're going to wind up on a list somewhere. But sucking cock in the front seat of a stranger's car in exchange for a few greenbacks? Not the same thing, and it's perfectly reasonable to think that the legal response would reflect that.
posted by valkyryn at 12:28 PM on January 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


Alternately, it'd be nice to see a sufficiently large portion of society purposely getting themselves listed as "sex offenders" in protest. Unfortunately, the police in charge of maintaining that list would probably refuse to list the supporters and just keep picking on sex workers instead.
posted by explosion at 12:29 PM on January 19, 2010


This seems totally consistent with the direction of Megan's Law-style retributive justice. Disgusting, but consistent.
posted by anotherpanacea at 12:29 PM on January 19, 2010


this is just insane.

So much that's confusing about the politics of the early 21st century would become clear if the lizard people were unmasked.
posted by felix betachat at 12:30 PM on January 19, 2010 [16 favorites]


i live in PA where the teen "sexting" thing has gone to federal court now (i think that was the last update.

they want to charge the kids as pedophiles or make them sit through a series of training classes on why pedophilia is bad (surrrounded by actual pedophiles, i'm sure).

what is it with people and this sex offender thing?
i think they should start charging anyone who makes those clothes for preteen girls that stay stuff on the butt like "BOOTY" in sparkly letters as sex offenders. cause it is offensive.

aren't there enough laws about prostitution in NOLA already? or the US for that matter? they have to find new ways to implement old ones?

why aren't they out doing something useful, like checking on some domestic disturbances or something? or as already said, ARRESTING THE DAMN JOHNS. oh i guess the johns were just innocent bystanders.

argh.......
posted by sio42 at 12:31 PM on January 19, 2010


The law, which dates back to 1805, makes it a crime against nature to engage in “unnatural copulation”—a term New Orleans cops and the district attorney’s office have interpreted to mean anal or oral sex.

Good luck with that post-Lawrence v. Texas. How did any of this stand up in court? Are the New Orleans public defenders just completely asleep at the switch?

Also, were they convicted for actually committing the act? That seems unlikely. I wonder if they were charged with an inchoate offense: 'attempted unnatural copulation' or 'conspiracy to engage in unnatural copulation' or somesuch. Frankly, if those are crimes then the New Orleans police need to round up everybody in every singles bar in town.
posted by jedicus at 12:32 PM on January 19, 2010


Is New Orleans not the city where women were arrested as prostitutes for talking smack to occupying soldiers?
posted by Artw at 12:32 PM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


The whole "sex offender" thing is a big steaming pile of bullshit. It's nothing more than holier-than-thou legislators slamming the weight of the force of law behind Victorian taboos. There are places you can't take a drunken piss on a bush in the woods without damn well near getting labeled a rapist.

As a person with a little background in criminal prosecution, I hate this. I loathe the time I wasted talking sense into a judge about a plea deal of no jail time for being late by two days on a change-of-address registration when I had real crimes, violent crimes, to worry about.
posted by jock@law at 12:32 PM on January 19, 2010 [9 favorites]


Why aren't their johns being cited as sex offenders?

You know this is usually the norm, right?

Sweden has it right though (for a country that doesn't want to legalize/decriminalize prostitution)...although Americans would get their torches and pitchforks knowing that it has socialist policies.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:32 PM on January 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


you americans are weird.
posted by krautland at 12:32 PM on January 19, 2010


Ugh, the shocked tone of this article. Why? Allowing ourselves to comfortably single out classes of criminal for blanket segregation and abuse was already bad; it doesn't become bad the moment we decide to target vulnerable women. Rather, it's almost inevitable that we would.
posted by kid ichorous at 12:33 PM on January 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


Struggling with basic needs like housing, Miss Jackie added: “I feel condemned."

And you are. Sex workers, especially street workers, already exist precariously, and this just makes it more likely that they'll end up dead. Yeah, dead. People reading this story probably won't appreciate just how badly this could affect them, but everything that makes a sex workers life harder is shockingly backwards. This is tantamount to persecution.
posted by Sova at 12:34 PM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Well, at least this will give Steven Seagal something to do while he's down there.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:34 PM on January 19, 2010


Here's my question --

Lawrence V. Texas was supposed to not only strike down homosexual sodomy laws, but also when they are applied to heterosexual sexual congress. Why is this law even being enforced AT ALL when it has been declared unconstitutional by the SCOTUS?
posted by hippybear at 12:35 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's a good thing they're just whores and not people.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 12:35 PM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


you americans are weird.

American here. I had nothing to do with this. Don't lump me into that category plzthx.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 12:36 PM on January 19, 2010 [7 favorites]


Why aren't their johns being cited as sex offenders?

Would that make it more palatable?
posted by Neiltupper at 12:37 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


They're only sex offenders if you're willing to pay the extra 250.
posted by ExitPursuedByBear at 12:37 PM on January 19, 2010


Positively medieval
posted by Monkeymoo at 12:38 PM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hey this law is a compromise. They wanted to brand an "SO" on their forehead. But the irons were deemed too expensive.
posted by Splunge at 12:38 PM on January 19, 2010


Why aren't their johns being cited as sex offenders? ... You took the words right out of my mouth. This is appalling.

Uh, guys? To me it seems like the solution is to stop charging prostitutes as sex offenders, not to start charging their customers as such. Adding another injustice doesn't help matters.

Well, okay, the real solution is to stop charging prostitutes with anything at all, but baby steps.
posted by Justinian at 12:39 PM on January 19, 2010 [10 favorites]


Well, at least this will give Steven Seagal something to do while he's down there.

Didn't know he was into anal. How much does he charge?
posted by mannequito at 12:40 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why aren't their johns being cited as sex offenders?


Because every now and then, the police arrest a powerful man for solicitation of prostitution.

These rich and powerful fellows who occasionally get caught with drugs and prostitutes are actually good family men: they're regular churchgoers; they're our state and local politicians; they're our highly successful businessmen. We can't have them face a lifetime of punishment as sex offenders because of just one regrettable indiscretion, can we? Why, I'm sure the DA and police chiefs personally know a judge or patrolman who's been caught in a dalliance with a working girl . A great many of the men making and enforcing these laws may know quite well that any man can give in to one moment of weakness.

The women, on the other hand, are what they are because of laziness and moral failings, and they deserve as much punishment as the law can throw at them.
posted by lord_wolf at 12:41 PM on January 19, 2010 [22 favorites]


On the bright side, given that they have to be registered and one would think you could look it up online - it makes for a convenient directory if Rick Santorum visits...
posted by Nanukthedog at 12:42 PM on January 19, 2010


Didn't know he was into anal. How much does he charge?

$20, same as in town.
posted by Splunge at 12:42 PM on January 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


I know this sort of law sounds harsh and dumb but realize that the city fathers want to restore New Orleans to the decent and well respected city it had been and that because of its standards attracted so much tourism.
posted by Postroad at 12:43 PM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


The "crime against nature" statute was found unconstitutional in Lawrence v. Texas and in 2005 the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unconstitutional the element of Louisiana law that deems consensual sex a "crime against nature." How is it possible that this law is still being enforced? (On preview, what hippybear said.)

Interestingly, the term "crime against nature" in Louisiana law does not apply if the act is rape.

Prostitution is also a separate offense in Louisiana law apart from the crime against nature.
posted by blucevalo at 12:44 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


The prostitutes on my drug court caseload have been extremely responsive to mental health and addiction treatment and are some of our biggest sucess stories. If you look at sex work as a symptom of addiction and the co-occuring mental health disorders that often spring from the childhood sexual abuse and/or ongoing sexual violence that is pretty universal for this population you find that once you get the girls into drug treatment and managing their mental health symptoms not surprisingly they also tend to stop hooking. Obviously that's a more intelligent and humane way to handle this segment of the criminal justice population, I mean it's seriously not brain surgery. Not sure how in this day and age New Orleans could make such a wrongheaded move.
posted by The Straightener at 12:44 PM on January 19, 2010 [31 favorites]


Justinian: "Uh, guys? To me it seems like the solution is to stop charging prostitutes as sex offenders, not to start charging their customers as such. Adding another injustice doesn't help matters."

I don't think the implication was that Johns should be charged as sex offenders, but that there is a double standard.

And yeah, no one should be charged with anything in these cases.
posted by brundlefly at 12:46 PM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


On the one hand: the one single specific instance in which I disagree with some of the comments here is in the notion of "why do sex offenders have to register even after they've served time, etc." is that in the case of serial rapists, the rate of recidivism is pretty damn high. Same too with repeat pederasts. In those two specific cases, I can see why the current legal requirements are in place.

However, categorizing "sexting", prostitution, and everything that ISN'T serial rape or serial pederasty as a "sexual offence" is completely ridiculous.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:48 PM on January 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


Didn't know he was into anal. How much does he charge?

$20, same as-- DAMNIT, Splunge...
posted by verb at 12:49 PM on January 19, 2010


I might be opposed to prostitution but that doesn't mean that it should be illegal. Talk of picking on the most downtrodden.

Sex offender laws in this country seem to have a whole lot more to do with stigmatization and revenge than they do with justice, anyway.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:50 PM on January 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


GRRRRRRRR.

Bunny angry. Have no words.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:50 PM on January 19, 2010


I thought about making this an AskMe, but it seemed a bit ChatFiltery, so maybe asking here is better:

What makes a man seek out a prostitute?

What goes through the mind of a john, especially one that is currently in a committed relationship? Do they realize the gambling they're doing with their health, their relationships, etc? Is there a difference in mindset between johns who frequent the expensive callgirls versus the ones who pick women up off the street? How do they regard the prostitute herself? Do they rationalize their actions? Is it lust? A rush of the forbidden? What?

This is not to moralize, really - I do believe that it should be legalized, taxed and regulated - but I also know that I can't imagine a scenario in which I would patronize one. And so I am curious as to why people do.
posted by kaseijin at 12:50 PM on January 19, 2010


It should be mentioned that Louisiana has a bizarre legal system.

One often-cited distinction is that while common law courts are bound by stare decisis and tend to rule based on precedents, judges in Louisiana rule based on their own interpretation of the law.
posted by electroboy at 12:52 PM on January 19, 2010


Y'know, I want to say I can't wait til all the old, stubborn, Victorian-minded politicos and action groups finally die off, but if this law is over 200 years old and still in place, I guess it wouldn't make any difference.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 12:55 PM on January 19, 2010


I know this sort of law sounds harsh and dumb but realize that the city fathers want to restore New Orleans to the decent and well respected city it had been and that because of its standards attracted so much tourism.

No, it doesn't sound harsh and dumb, it sounds, as one poster noted, fucking medieval
(sorry if I missed some sarcasm)
posted by angrycat at 12:57 PM on January 19, 2010


However, categorizing "sexting", prostitution, and everything that ISN'T serial rape or serial pederasty as a "sexual offence" is completely ridiculous.

True that. But there's no way to prevent a penalty for crimes committed by men from being reapplied, eventually, to poor black women. I mean, the first group are guilty by virtue of what they do, the second are guilty for who they are.
posted by felix betachat at 12:58 PM on January 19, 2010


angrycat: "(sorry if I missed some sarcasm)"

Pretty certain you did there.
posted by brundlefly at 12:58 PM on January 19, 2010


I can't wait til all the old, stubborn, Victorian-minded politicos and action groups finally die off

Except the fuckers keep getting replaced.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:01 PM on January 19, 2010


kaseijin - from a lot of reading i've done, the reasons seem as broad as the answers to questions like "why do drugs". for some it's addiction, for some it's narcissism, for some it's acting out due to shame and repression (having kinks or desires they feel they can't sure with their partner - whether rooted in reality or not), for some it's a lack of intimacy at home. as to the other questions - again, i'd think the answers would vary by person.

you might find some interest in reading books written by prostitutes. a fairly depressing graphic novel of sorts that is on my bathroom shelf is rent girl.

i think this could be a very good ask.me - especially if you asked for other blogs/books that focus on the johns more than on the prostitute.
posted by nadawi at 1:03 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


What makes a man seek out a prostitute?

Is Batman a transvestite? Who knows?

Seriously, the answers to that question are as many and varied as there are sexual kinks, but the simplest answer is probably 'for sex.'
posted by Pragmatica at 1:04 PM on January 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


kaseijin - from a lot of reading i've done, the reasons seem as broad as the answers to questions like "why do drugs". for some it's addiction, for some it's narcissism, for some it's acting out due to shame and repression (having kinks or desires they feel they can't sure with their partner - whether rooted in reality or not), for some it's a lack of intimacy at home. as to the other questions

Some have suggested even more outlandish theories, such as people "wanting to have sex".
posted by spaltavian at 1:05 PM on January 19, 2010



This is not to moralize, really - I do believe that it should be legalized, taxed and regulated - but I also know that I can't imagine a scenario in which I would patronize one. And so I am curious as to why people do.


To have sex.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:07 PM on January 19, 2010


What makes a man seek out a prostitute?

There was an article about that in the Guardian recently.
posted by cmonkey at 1:10 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


OK yes, I know the pat, mechanical answer for why men frequent prostitutes. Thanks for the replies, however, I suppose... I was looking for something more along the lines of what nadawi posted.
posted by kaseijin at 1:12 PM on January 19, 2010


Oh, please. Stop with the outrage. These harlots, these Whores of Babylon, aren't being slapped with the label "sex offender" because they're women.

They're not being stigmatized with scarlet letter driver's licenses because they're prostitutes.

Nor are they being punished for their practice of "unnatural acts", which I'm confident none of us has ever engaged in.

They're being punished, labeled, stigmatized and ostracized for something far far worse, for most fundamental and unforgivable sin recognized by American Theology: the crime of being poor.
posted by orthogonality at 1:13 PM on January 19, 2010 [12 favorites]


What goes through the mind of a john, especially one that is currently in a committed relationship? Do they realize the gambling they're doing with their health, their relationships, etc? Is there a difference in mindset between johns who frequent the expensive callgirls versus the ones who pick women up off the street? How do they regard the prostitute herself? Do they rationalize their actions? Is it lust? A rush of the forbidden? What?

I've done quite a bit of research on this both for an article I wrote at one point and also just to better inform myself about the workings of street level sex trade in Philly because when the women pop up in the criminal justice system they are sometimes referred to my program and once in my program they are almost assured to wind up on my caseload because I handle the mental health caseload for drug court and the women almost unanimously have a co-occurring mental health disorder because they have lead seriously rough lives, at the very least serious PTSD as a result of repeat incidents of brutal sexual violence is basically a given.

There are online John communities on various escort type websites, I had the address to a particularly active one a while ago which I can't remember. I won't even bother searching for it at work as the web filters on the city's internet won't allow me to find it, but this stuff is out there. Basically, the Johns gather in online discussion forums to talk about which girls give the best service, which girls have what STDs, which girls carry knives and will rob a John (those are blacklisted; extensive lists are kept) and what law enforcement efforts are currently underway that may interfere with their activities. They claim they have to do this for their own safety and to establish some system of "quality control."

Most of these guys are not suprisingly totally creepy and bizarre, mostly white or Latino, working class. Their visits to the Kensington Avenue stroll in Philly are compulsive; many report they can't get to sleep on the night they get the urge to get a girl. Some of them go to insane lengths to have sex with women who appear to be so sick, underweight, addicted, unwashed, beat up as to be near death. One particularly crazy story had one John following a girl into the unlit basement of a crowded crackhouse to get a blowjob. Honestly, I was pretty skeptical regarding sexual addiction prior to encountering this community, but have since reconsidered somewhat.

They go to really crazy lengths to document the prostitute population, taking photos of the girls on the street using telephoto lenses and posting the pictures to the discusssion board as a part of their extensive catalogging of available girls. Some of the men pay the girls extra to photograph them nude, and post the naked pictures to the discussion board.

The whole thing was darkly fascinating but positively revolting, as in actually nausea inducing. I became too disturbed to continue following the discussion board after a John posted a photo set on the site of a young woman who was on my caseload at the time.
posted by The Straightener at 1:13 PM on January 19, 2010 [39 favorites]


OK yes, I know the pat, mechanical answer for why men frequent prostitutes.

It being pat and mechanical might be another reason, actually.
posted by Pragmatica at 1:13 PM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


i think kaseijin was asking what would make a person want to have sex....with a person who may or may not have STDS, may or may not have just had sex with 3, 6, 18 or 100 other guys, some at the same time maybe.

it is definitely a risky behavior like a drug or gambling addiction, except it's more like drugs, where you can get a disease that can kill you or your partner if you give it to them.

i agree that it would make a good askme to find out more about the prostitute's viewpoint.

i for one can't really understand it all. i mean, yeah, you don't know if a chick at a bar has AIDS or gonorhea either, but there's a better chance she didn't just have sex 8 times with 8 different guys.

i'm a girl tho, so maybe i'm missing out on how it would be "fun" or something. i just feel bad for prostitutes and befuddled/slightly sickened by johns.
posted by sio42 at 1:17 PM on January 19, 2010


spaltavian, the question was geared towards men in already committed relationships - as kaseijin pointed out, the risks of doing so are great, so "to get laid" while certainly a reason, is hardly the only reason. again, like drugs, to say that all people who do drugs do so just to get high is an over simplification. while there are some that fit into that, there are a great many others who do so for far more complex reasons.
posted by nadawi at 1:19 PM on January 19, 2010


What a load. This will, no doubt, get overturned, but not before a huge amount of public time and money that is desperately needed elsewhere is wasted. And for what? So some assholes can make a name for themselves and possibly advance their careers?

Hm. Starting to sound like a microcosm of the US Justice System.
posted by Ufez Jones at 1:20 PM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


oh, and for the record - i have no problem with johns or prostitutes who are in it just to get laid/just to get paid. but i don't think there's anything wrong with examining the motivations of behaviors that have ruined many lives.
posted by nadawi at 1:21 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Just a couple of points to note:

Its not the crime against nature itself, as that was deemed unconstitutional in Lawrence, but the SOLICITATION of a crime against nature. That's how they have gotten around it thus far.

It's not New Orleans-specific law, but part of the Louisiana code of criminal law.

New Orleans Criminal Courts are bound by the same rules of stare decisis as are the courts of other states - the Civil system uses a different method, but the criminal courts follow the same procedures as the courts in other states.*

The police set up crime against nature stings where they go out and find girls that they recognize or who they decide look like prostitutes, then they arrest them for solicitation of a crime against nature. There are no johns - there are no real crimes - even by their own definition of the law, since the 'johns' were always just police.

The annual notification costs about a thousand dollars, and while some judges waive it - there is no provision in the criminal code that allows for waivers from solicitation of crime against nature.
posted by goneill at 1:22 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Okay, so I did a little research. Let me break down the Louisiana Supreme Court's take on this. Basically, the unnatural copulation law applies in two situations:

1) where the unnatural copulation was part of or was an act of rape (i.e., it adds an additional offense beyond the rape itself). Fair enough; arguably forcible oral and anal sex are more degrading and quite possibly more physically damaging than forcible vaginal sex (note: I said arguably; I don't actually have any statistics or even anecdotal evidence).

2) where it was "The solicitation by a human being of another with the intent to engage in any unnatural carnal copulation for compensation." La. R.S. 14.89(A)(2). This is the part that the sex workers are being charged under. Note that 'solicitation' is a term of art in the criminal law context; this applies to both the sex worker and the john.

So, in addition to being charged with prostitution, the sex workers are being charged with this sort of 'prostitution plus' as a result of the particular service being offered.

Now, the LA Supreme Court recognized that Lawrence legalized private sodomy, including heterosexual sodomy. But, the court in Lawrence said in one line that 'this isn't a prostitution case.' So the LA Supreme Court ruled that this law, which only applies to prostitution, was not affected by Lawrence because Lawrence was not, directly, about prostitution.

From there the court's reasoning comes from other cases. It basically amounts to 'the legislature has, in its collective wisdom, decided that solicitation of unnatural copulation is worse than mere solicitation of sex.' It's a crap argument, in my opinion, but there it is.

Of course, the cynical view is that oral and anal sex can't cause a pregnancy, whereas vaginal intercourse can. By discouraging these services, the Court and the state are increasing the chance that a prostitute will become pregnant, thus 'punishing the slut' for her immoral ways.
posted by jedicus at 1:29 PM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Straightener -- what an amazing comment.

Here's some more news from the dark side.

I don't know if it's more disturbing that she posted a video claiming to have infected 500 people with HIV (when in fact she's negative), or that traffic doubled in Detroit's HIV testing centers when she made this claim, or that she's got a 5 year old kid and makes porn movies with her husband. Whatever, it's enough to make a Mormon from an atheist.
posted by fourcheesemac at 1:30 PM on January 19, 2010


Heh, it just occurred to me that there's another hidden justification: homosexual men are largely limited to oral and anal sex, so the law also acts as a way to trump up charges against male prostitutes.
posted by jedicus at 1:31 PM on January 19, 2010


it is definitely a risky behavior like a drug or gambling addiction, except it's more like drugs,

I think you're lumping a heck of a lot of activities under one umbrella. The drug analogy is a good one. You seem to be assuming all prostitution/johns are like nasty scuzzy heroin users shooting up with used needles who would do anything for the next fix. Those people exist. But there are also people who just like to smoke a high-quality joint once in a while. Those sorts of people exist under the rubric of "prostitution" as well.

I'm not sure a representative viewpoint involves only looking at the skeezy STD-ridden street walkers and the johns cruising around in a car hoping to score a $20 blowjob.
posted by Justinian at 1:39 PM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


As to why some men do this, I can't help but think a large percentage of them like using women and being with women they don't have to please or care about. Some maybe do it out of curiosity/desperation, but the repeat cases I would almost bet get off on the power aspect of it. The whole point is that you are paying her and she has to do what you want, she is not allowed a choice.

Pretty sick, in other words. And I am of course just guessing, but I have a hard time imagining much of an appeal otherwise, in risking your health/breaking the law. Hard to imagine much actual joy in sleeping with a woman who looks as poor, tired and ill as most prostitutes on the street do, especially since you don't have to pay much attention to know that she's probably doing it because she has no good options/has a drug addiction/is in the control of an abusive pimp/probably has a history of abuse in her past.

I'm sure the men who do this tell themselves the women enjoy it, or that they have no feelings at all about it and are making good money, or that they are getting what they deserve in some vague way, but again...that's pretty sick and requires a large amount of self-deception.
posted by emjaybee at 1:40 PM on January 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


electroboy, Louisiana doesn't have a bizarre legal system. It has a form of the legal system that most of the rest of the world has. It's the common law system that's bizarre.

Civil law system do not actually result in more wildly divergent decisions by trial court judges. Even though there's no formal system of stare decisis, the trial court judges are aware of what kinds of decisions are likely to get overturned on appeal (because they know their appeals and high court judges) and thus refrain from making decisions like that because they don't want to get reversed on appeal.
posted by 1adam12 at 1:51 PM on January 19, 2010


just because you can't imagine something, doesn't mean it's unimaginable. i guess it makes sense that you have such a low view of johns since you also have such a low view of prostitutes. as justinian points out, they aren't all (or i'd wager, even mostly) street walkers.
posted by nadawi at 1:53 PM on January 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


What facinates me about prostitution is that there is such a HUGE market for it. I worked on the periphery of the sex trade (phone sex) for a hot minute and what I encountered blew my little mind.

I ran into some seriously sick stuff, and I'm fairly open-minded with kinks of my own. Lots of guys wanted me to pretend to be a child (no-freaking way!) Most had pedestrian blow-job fantasies. There we a LOT of guys who wanted to be submissive (yawn).

I am probably jaundiced by my personal experience, but a large proportion of guys really like sex with strangers. Larry Flynt once said he wasn't paying for the sex, he was paying for the woman to leave. If it were only that, I'd be perfectly cool with it.

Interestingly enough, what always grabs me is that there's no statue against a woman going to a room with a guy she picks up in a bar, having lots of sex with him and then leaving and never seeing him again. If she takes a ten-spot from him though, then she's a prostitute and it's illegal.

Seems to me that if there's a market for it, then we should regulate it, police it and insure that it's as safe as it can be. For everyone who's involved.

I'd also love to see addicted prostitutes get into programs and pimps to find real, honest work. Oh well, one step at a time.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:01 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can understand the "sex offender list" thing for hard core types who are out there raping little kids, but the list has just been abused so much by crazy prosecutors who seem to enjoy fucking over people's lives as some kind of hobby. It's insane.
posted by delmoi at 2:01 PM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


you americans are weird.

American here. I had nothing to do with this. Don't lump me into that category plzthx.


Favourited 3 times. I'm sure you probably aren't the instigator of this ridiculous situation but the statement still has resonance on several levels. To those of us who don't live in America this is stunningly weird, oppressive and offensive (which for the record clearly sums up the majority of views posted in this thread, a great many of which I imagine are American).

Nonetheless, this is happening in your country. So the statement stands as a generic, wow this situation is weird, all the way to wow, I can't believe you put up with this crap, how weird.

The fact that your response is, "not me mate, don't lump me in there", instead of the outrage declared by other posters is indeed weird. Your statement betrays a pride in being American at the same time as acknowledging that things like this happen in America.

When you consider the vicious pigs who think this is a good law, to those like yourself (In my opinion surely the majority) who presumably don't, we are left with the fact that the majority view does not prevail. For a country that prides itself on a certain level of morality and leadership in terms of democracy this is weird.

One of the most common opinions that first time visitors to America state when they return is that Americans are so nice. They are surprised, very surprised. And it is things like this, stories of this nature that we read about that fuel that surprise. We look at these stories and make a fairly reasonable assumption (in comparison to our norms) that a country that supports horrendous anomalies such as this, is a country populated by some fairly unpleasant people. Its not true (I lived in New Orleans for 3 years by the way), Americans are most certainly some of the nicest friendliest people I have ever met.

That perceptive paradox is weird. It leads to statements such as the one you objected to. Get over it, my friend, you Americans are weird, but you need to realise that it is not really an insult.
posted by Boslowski at 2:01 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


or that traffic doubled in Detroit's HIV testing centers when she made this claim

I don't think it's "Oh, I had sex with this women, I better get tested" it's Oh, did someone I sleep with have sex with this woman? How far removed am I from these 500 people?

But either way it's probably a good thing.
posted by delmoi at 2:03 PM on January 19, 2010


I can't help but think a large percentage of them like using women and being with women they don't have to please or care about. Some maybe do it out of curiosity/desperation, but the repeat cases I would almost bet get off on the power aspect of it.

Which pretty much excludes many of the stories I have come across from older prostitutes (or maybe old-school prostitutes) who talk about lonely old men, married or not, who hire a woman and then just spend the time talking and feeling cared for, not necessarily sexually. Often these men are repeat customers, hire the same woman each time, and these relationships often continue for years. I don't think this is really a power relationship. Maybe it's out of desperation, but if anything it's out of a need to have someone who will be listening and caring, not so much being desperately horny.
posted by hippybear at 2:04 PM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Is New Orleans not the city where women were arrested as prostitutes for talking smack to occupying soldiers?
posted by Artw


Back in 1862 Major-General Benjamin Butler (then the military commander of occupied New Orleans) issued General Order #28:

"As the officers and soldiers of the United States have been subject to repeated insults from the women (calling themselves ladies) of New Orleans in return for the most scrupulous non-interference and courtesy on our part, it is ordered that hereafter when any female shall by word, gesture, or movement insult or show contempt for any officer or soldier of the United States she shall be regarded and held liable to be treated as a woman of the town plying her avocation."

I don't know at the moment if anyone was actually arrested for this. I am at work right now and it is time for me to go home.
posted by marxchivist at 2:05 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Good luck with that post-Lawrence v. Texas. How did any of this stand up in court? Are the New Orleans public defenders just completely asleep at the switch?

One thing to keep in mind is that the texas law only applied to homosexual sex. Hetrosexual anal sex was actually explicitly legalized.
posted by delmoi at 2:06 PM on January 19, 2010


MetaFilter: we should regulate it, police it and insure that it's as safe as it can be. For everyone who's involved.
posted by hippybear at 2:06 PM on January 19, 2010


What bothers me most about this post tells us is what Straightener mentioned in first comment on the thread: it is very widely acknowledged that there is a huge overlap between prostitution and a prior history of sexual abuse victimization. Here is a summary of one article on the subject. In addition, prostitutes face a huge risk of assault and rape. Can there be any greater irony than using a law aimed at identifying sexual predators to stigmatize and prosecute a population of former and current sexual assault victims?
posted by bearwife at 2:08 PM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


"...she's got a 5 year old kid and makes porn movies with her husband..."

I don't see anything wrong with that. Now, if she was making porn movies with the 5-year-old, you might have something.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 2:08 PM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


The great sociologist Howard Becker wrote once that the trick to effective social explanation was understanding that whatever anyone does -- no matter how "inexplicable" -- seems like a good idea to them at the time. The question is not what causes someone to deviate from the norm, or to take risk, etc. It is to understand why doing so seems like a good idea to someone at a particular moment.
posted by fourcheesemac at 2:12 PM on January 19, 2010 [7 favorites]


Basically, the Johns gather in online discussion forums to talk about which girls give the best service, which girls have what STDs, which girls carry knives and will rob a John (those are blacklisted; extensive lists are kept) and what law enforcement efforts are currently underway that may interfere with their activities. They claim they have to do this for their own safety and to establish some system of "quality control."

By comparison, consumers of prostitution in the Netherlands have a significantly more benign-sounding forum (NSFW) to share their experiences.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 2:15 PM on January 19, 2010


That isn't in sync with the people I know who make terrible decisions, know them to be terrible decisions, and merely forgive themselves for it. They will actually start by saying "I knew it was a terrible idea ..."

The moral: Howard Becker Schmoward Schmecker.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:17 PM on January 19, 2010


jedicus: "Of course, the cynical view is that oral and anal sex can't cause a pregnancy, whereas vaginal intercourse can. By discouraging these services, the Court and the state are increasing the chance that a prostitute will become pregnant, thus 'punishing the slut' for her immoral ways."

Helpfully, The Devil's Dictionary explains what a cynic is.
CYNIC, n. A blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be. Hence the custom among the Scythians of plucking out a cynic's eyes to improve his vision.
posted by mullingitover at 2:23 PM on January 19, 2010


Sounds like a reverse Internet registry of some kind is needed... one that catalogs predators who are shored up by law, position, or money.
posted by crapmatic at 2:23 PM on January 19, 2010


electroboy, Louisiana doesn't have a bizarre legal system.

Louisiana has a legal system that's completely different than every other state in the United States, and the federal government. That's at the very least kinda weird.
posted by electroboy at 2:25 PM on January 19, 2010


Not yet, felix betachat.
posted by Lizard People at 3:06 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


The fact that your response is, "not me mate, don't lump me in there", instead of the outrage declared by other posters is indeed weird. Your statement betrays a pride in being American at the same time as acknowledging that things like this happen in America.
Blaming "Americans" for this is like blaming someone in France for something that happens in Latvia, on he basis that they are both EU member states. Someone in Massachusetts has no control over local prosecutors in Louisiana.
posted by delmoi at 3:15 PM on January 19, 2010 [10 favorites]


Justinian...i didn't realize this until your comment on my comment, but when I say "drugs" I totally don't include pot with that mental grouping. I don't partake myself but did in the way back.

However I do think of most prostitutes as junkies more for reasons The Straightener pointed out rather than a moral judgement.

The idea of that forum for johns is crazy and creepy and certainly does give some insight.
posted by sio42 at 3:26 PM on January 19, 2010


What's the next step? Are the drunk chicks who flash their boobs for beads during Mardi Gras going to have to be registered?
posted by TooFewShoes at 3:27 PM on January 19, 2010


Are the drunk chicks who flash their boobs for beads during Mardi Gras going to have to be registered?

I'm pretty sure they already have their own Web site.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:35 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


That isn't in sync with the people I know who make terrible decisions, know them to be terrible decisions, and merely forgive themselves for it. They will actually start by saying "I knew it was a terrible idea ..."

Often, AFAICT, this means something like "I knew it was risky but I thought the risk was worth it," or "I knew it was risky but it never sank in that the risks applied to me."

Sometimes people's priorities change. A good friend of mine never wanted or expected to live past the age of 18. She did some things she knew were terrible ideas — in terms of her own continued survival, at least — because they were lots of fun and she rated fun much higher than survival at the time.

Other times you hear 'terrible idea' in scare quotes: "I knew it was the sort of idea that other people would call 'terrible,' the sort of thing that would get me branded as an idiot, a criminal, or worse if I got caught, but dammit, it sure seemed like a good idea to me." This shows up a lot in people who have internalized some sort of strict moral code. Scratch a guy who says "I knew it was wrong" and under a thick layer of cognitive dissonance you'll find the suspicion that it wasn't really as wrong as his teachers claimed.

Yet another version goes like this: "I knew it was a bad idea, but I was so scared that all the other options looked a hundred times worse, so I figured it was the best shot I had." Scared or confused or depressed or drunk or indoctrinated-by-Scientologists or whatever — there are a lot of states that can take away the sense that you've got viable alternatives.

But these all strike me as subcases of Becker's principle. Maybe I can propose an amended version: "It always seems like a good idea at the time — even if it takes a case of beer, a death wish and willful ignorance of the odds to make it seem like one."
posted by nebulawindphone at 3:45 PM on January 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


> you americans are weird.

>> American here. I had nothing to do with this. Don't lump me into that category plzthx.

>>> Your statement betrays a pride in being American at the same time as acknowledging that things like this happen in America.


No, the statement expresses frustration at yet another knee-jerk response from non-USian Metafilter members who think that "you Americans [or Texans] are _________" is a substantive contribution to the discussion. It's not. It's not a useful comment. It's not an insightful comment. It's not a funny comment. It's not a helpful comment. It's not an interesting comment. It's not an original comment. And it's old.
posted by mudpuppie at 4:03 PM on January 19, 2010 [15 favorites]


it is interesting that someone pointed out about the prostitutes who say they get guys who just want to talk. I had forgotten about that aspect.

I guess my outrage at women being further victimized by some wacky law, who have most likely been victimized all their lives and end up addicted to crack or meth or whatever because of a pimp makes me view all johns as slavering diabolical thugs and all prostitutes as innocent, desperate, addicted victims.

I guess I just find it hard to not get all emotionally charged with stuff like this and end up making sweeping generalizations that I shouldn't.
posted by sio42 at 4:04 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, that should buy them some more time before God sends another hurricane to cleanse their wickedness.
posted by qvantamon at 4:14 PM on January 19, 2010


What's a USian? Shouldn't it be USAian?
posted by found missing at 4:14 PM on January 19, 2010


Maybe you're talking about the United Mexican States? UMSian?
posted by found missing at 4:16 PM on January 19, 2010


The idea of that forum for johns is crazy and creepy and certainly does give some insight.
posted by sio42


There's several forums that I'm aware of, probably a lot more that I'm not aware of too.

I believe the two I link below are at least relatively popular. Though maybe not for USA customers - I don't know.

Both NSFW.
http://www.worldsexguide.com
Covers the whole world with sub forums by continent, then country, then city/area. Has a USA section, but no idea how busy that is.

http://www.punternet.com/
Covers only the UK. "Punter" is the word more commonly used in the UK instead of John.
posted by selton at 4:17 PM on January 19, 2010


You Americans have a valid point regarding the limits of referring to a group collectively, but it's never really stopped you doing it.

And you elected Bush twice.
posted by Artw at 4:21 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I suspect I'll be accused of deliberately missing the joke. If I am, I'll just point out that you're deliberately missing my point, Artw. So with that said...

You Some Americans have a valid point regarding the limits of referring to a group collectively, but it's never really stopped you them doing it.

And you elected some of those idiots voted for Bush twice.


Phrase it that way and I doubt you'd get much argument from folks here. But painting those of us here with the broad, Americans-are-fucked-up brush is just unfair and a slap in the face and in violation of the unwritten rules of community.
posted by mudpuppie at 4:32 PM on January 19, 2010


>>> Your statement betrays a pride in being American at the same time as acknowledging that things like this happen in America.

No, the statement expresses frustration at yet another knee-jerk response from non-USian Metafilter members who think that "you Americans [or Texans] are _________" is a substantive contribution to the discussion. It's not. It's not a useful comment.


Ok. Thats fair. I can totally see that frustration. But expressing it as it was expressed also gives some reasonable fuel to the observation I made. Perhaps the best response is to ignore the useless valueless comments instead of giving them a higher profile through denial.

FWIW the dichotomy between the USA portrayed through the western non US media, and the actual USA as lived by many of its citizens, and represented by the ideals of actual behaviour of those citizens, is quite vast. Its clearly a perspective that only non-USAian (or USAian living for a good deal of time outside of the US) can possibly have - but that doesn't mean its not real.
posted by Boslowski at 4:35 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Don't let yourself be baited, mudpuppie. These sorts of derails are just MetaFilter's way of reminding you which members aren't worth paying attention to in the future.
posted by felix betachat at 4:36 PM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


And you elected Bush twice.
posted by Artw


Seems strange that a Thatcherite would complain about that.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 4:51 PM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


snap
posted by found missing at 4:52 PM on January 19, 2010


Seems strange that a Thatcherite would complain about that.

I hear Baroness Thatcher will give you a vigorous caning for £200 (she doesn't accept the Euro).
posted by MikeMc at 5:30 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


This ravenous Usianism will not stand!
posted by Burhanistan at 5:35 PM on January 19, 2010


Antiusaianist!
posted by found missing at 5:39 PM on January 19, 2010


This really seems blown out of proportion.
posted by PHINC at 5:57 PM on January 19, 2010


The only thing that I can really say about this is that we have an entire category of consensual SexCrime and very few of us ever stop and think about how utterly dystopian that is.
posted by Avenger at 6:03 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


This really seems blown out of proportion.

But not in the way you mean:

"Of the 861 sex offenders currently registered in New Orleans, 483 were convicted of a crime against nature, according to Doug Cain, a spokesperson with the Louisiana State Police. And of those convicted of a crime against nature, 78 percent are Black and almost all are women."

The whole "sex offender stamp on your ID" thing is a whole nother level of fucked up, too. Get your shit together America.
posted by mek at 6:09 PM on January 19, 2010


[few comments removed - please take totally derailing GRAR AMERIKA stuff to MeTa if you have to do that in every single thread, thanks]
posted by jessamyn at 6:18 PM on January 19, 2010


This whole thing reminds of two older guys (mid-late 20s) I knew when I was in high school.

"Larry" was a creepy, balding career pizza delivery guy whose only interaction with women seemed to be hitting on chubby high school girls (I guess he thought, mistakenly, they would settle for him) and paying prostitutes. I had the rare privilege of being stuck in Larry's car on a crosstown trip involving several carloads of people. While the rest of the group was on the freeway I was stuck cruising a very sketchy part of town for hookers. The guy couldn't get anywhere near a known prostitution spot without cruising the stroll and seeing if there were any new faces.

Larry's friend "Dre" seemed normal when I met him (I used to hang out at a "party house" where dozens of people might pass through in the course of a day and several of my friends worked with Larry and Dre) and when he offered me a ride home because he was going my way I didn't think anything of it. Turns out he was going my way because there was an older woman (60ish) who lived a few blocks away from me who gave $5 blowjobs. I'll never forget him telling me "She may be old but my dick can't tell the difference". This was the point where I asked him to stop the car and I walked the rest of the way. To these guys paying a woman, any woman, was as natural as breathing. No shame, no embarrassment because hey, we all pay for sex one way or another amirite?

I'm guessing guys like these two make up a good chunk of streetwalker Johns. Unattractive and/or unable to interact with their female peers and resigned to the idea that this is as good as it's going to get.
posted by MikeMc at 6:27 PM on January 19, 2010


GRAR AMERIKA sounds like the name of a band I want to be part of.
posted by dunkadunc at 7:56 PM on January 19, 2010


American here. I had nothing to do with this. Don't lump me into that category plzthx.
redeem yourself. get this law off the books.
posted by krautland at 9:23 PM on January 19, 2010


I normally consider thestraightener's comments to be right on but that smear on escort review sites was one of the grosser things I've read here in awhile. You don't even provide a link so that folks can make their own judgement call there (although any such site posting photos of workers has to be a pretty shadey operation, I find such a site's longterm existence hard to imagine).

I've visited terb.com for many years and find it a fascinating site for many reasons, foremost because of the unique environment it provides for discussion. Posters self regulate a polite tone and respect for workers; the sort of behaviour thestraightener describes would never be tolerated at any such sites I have ever seen.

And by the way these "John sites" often have many comments by the women supplying the sex as well.
posted by stinkycheese at 10:18 PM on January 19, 2010


terb.ca that is.
posted by stinkycheese at 11:14 PM on January 19, 2010


bearwife: it is very widely acknowledged that there is a huge overlap between prostitution and a prior history of sexual abuse victimization. […] Can there be any greater irony than using a law aimed at identifying sexual predators to stigmatize and prosecute a population of former and current sexual assault victims?
Considering that it is widely acknowledged that there is a huge overlap between sexual abusers and a prior history of sexual abuse victimization… I'm not sure “irony” is exactly the right word, really.
posted by hattifattener at 1:06 AM on January 20, 2010


I normally consider thestraightener's comments to be right on but that smear on escort review sites was one of the grosser things I've read here in awhile. You don't even provide a link so that folks can make their own judgement call there (although any such site posting photos of workers has to be a pretty shadey operation, I find such a site's longterm existence hard to imagine).

During the day I am posting from a municipal office building and cannot scour porn sites for a link I stopped looking at last year. I'm sorry you felt so aggrieved and feel the Johns of Philly are so slighted by my smear. FYI, they don't like people posting links to their site around, anyway. You know, no blowin' up the spot. Maybe you should try Google? The worldsexguide site posted above is very much along the same lines.
posted by The Straightener at 6:08 AM on January 20, 2010


I seriously doubt Straightener would've been inventing stuff or being hyperbolic. I'll take his word for it.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:21 AM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


You don't have much choice, because since there are explicit pictures of a former client of mine who is still in the program I work for on there I wouldn't post it even if I could remember the URL. I mean, come on.
posted by The Straightener at 6:27 AM on January 20, 2010


Not for nothing, but there seems to be a myth of the Happy Hooker. I'm sure there are a few women who are happy as prostitutes, and I say, "good on ya mate." But what about the huge number of women (and children) who are sex slaves?

It's all well and good to talk about civil liberties and everyone's right to go to hell in their own handbasket, but in prostitution you have two distinct pools of talent.

1. Women who are so abused, brow-beaten, addicted and debased that they numbly turn tricks to appease their pimps and/or their addictions. These women are to be pitied and helped, not criminalized.

2. Women and children who are sold into slavery or who are victimized by immigration scams. There's no way you can put a happy face on that one. No child wants to turn tricks, not for any reason. Many women who end up in massage parlors or in brothels are actually prisoners and slaves.

So while the johns have the choice to either use or not use a prostitue for sexual gratification, the women they patronize may not have that choice. On some level I have to believe that the men know, and they just don't care.

And that scares the bejesus out of me.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:37 AM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Suddenly enforcing a 205 year old morality based law in the town known and loved for things like Mardi Gras? There is no way any lawmaker could be this willfully obtuse. I can only see this as a concerted effort to punish people they don't like, like women who live in poverty conditions and gays.

I don't know if such a thing is possible, but I seriously hope that when this gets smacked down for being manifestly unconstitutional, that it opens everyone involved in its enforcement to civil suits from the people who suffered this stupidity.
posted by quin at 8:30 AM on January 20, 2010


Wow, I'm really shocked at how really stigmatizing the opinions about sex workers is here on MetaFilter. I'm sure that there are plenty of victims such as those described by Ruthless Bunny amongst the prostitute pool worldwide. But there are plenty of people who have chosen it as a profession and who are calling for the end of the legal persecution and social stigma being thrust upon them by otherwise well-meaning, reasoned adults.

Please don't make sweeping statements about the people involved in this profession. They are not "two distinct pools of talent" who are either addicted or slaves. To state so only reveals your own biases and says nothing about the truth of the situation.
posted by hippybear at 8:43 AM on January 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm sorry you felt so aggrieved and feel the Johns of Philly are so slighted by my smear. FYI, they don't like people posting links to their site around, anyway. You know, no blowin' up the spot. Maybe you should try Google?

Why would I use Google? To try & find your purported site? Isn't that your job? Even the most obscure sites still have URLs; my point is that, if you're going to character assassinate all these sites (which is what you did) - by virtue of this one site you saw one time a year ago (I am not accusing you of making things up BTW) - you really ought to include the URL as a basic courtesy. I don't give a fig about the Johns of Philly; if you really think people come away from your post with the impression this horror you describe is limited to Philadelphia, well, I think that's pretty naive.

It's tempting to start a Meta thread asking whether the usual considerations we would give *any group* before smearing them on the site do not apply to 'johns' - but I don't particularly want to spend the day appearing to defend whatever creepy behavior posters here might have anecdotes about, etc. I don't consider this to be the most enlightened site around when it comes to sex, but even Metafilter is normally more balanced on prostitution than in this dire thread. The assumption here seems to be that anyone who might pay a prostitute is de facto a misogynist barely suppressing their rage, getting their jollies knowing they're likely contributing to someone's continued abuse.

Believe it or not, many men posting on review boards are very concerned about abuse and coercion, and these issues do come up for discussion (on terb at least) fairly often - how to avoid such scenarios is a common topic, especially after the media has done another job of 'raising awareness'. Tactics include seeing only independents (no pimps), caution with young women or women who can't speak English (particularly Asian or East European, which are the two groups most commonly associated with such forced prostitution), reporting comments or behavior that would suggest sketchiness (some women will straight up tell guys they're being shipped around strip clubs or something if asked), and most importantly, sharing reports on workers who are genuinely into what they're doing (basically the opposite of The Straightener's site) which, believe it or not, is what most people in 'the hobby' are actually after.

My POV is simply that this is a very large group being discussed: people who pay for the services of prostitutes. Such people exist in most every society around the world, and have been around since human history began. Posters here may think such people are gross or beneath them, but a civilized discussion ought to start with the acknowledgment that they may have more complicated motivations that GRRR HATE WIMMINS DROOL LEER.
posted by stinkycheese at 8:44 AM on January 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


I am not going to gratify that with a response.
posted by The Straightener at 9:26 AM on January 20, 2010


but a civilized discussion ought to start with the acknowledgment that they may have more complicated motivations that GRRR HATE WIMMINS DROOL LEER.

It's probably a safe bet that motivations to seek prostitution are not particularly complicated, regardless of their actuality.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:28 AM on January 20, 2010


Oh wow.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:31 AM on January 20, 2010


My POV is simply that this is a very large group being discussed: people who pay for the services of prostitutes. Such people exist in most every society around the world, and have been around since human history began. Posters here may think such people are gross or beneath them, but a civilized discussion ought to start with the acknowledgment that they may have more complicated motivations that GRRR HATE WIMMINS DROOL LEER.

I hardly get "grrr hate wimmins drool leer" from anything The Straightener has said.

Your comment tagged for just being plain stupid.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:37 AM on January 20, 2010


Now, the justifications for seeking out a prostitute may be a bit more complicated than the motivations inspiring it, which makes me wonder about the habits of some people here.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:41 AM on January 20, 2010


I hardly get "grrr hate wimmins drool leer" from anything The Straightener has said.

Eh, I still remember posting a critical examination of the Swedish system of criminalizing johns, and having precisely that ad hom flung back at me. We're able to talk plainly about drug decriminalization without accusing each other of being Scarface, but for various reasons (slavery, for one) sex work carries connotations that make it difficult to resist going personal. It's not helpful.
posted by kid ichorous at 9:48 AM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Just plain stupid? Well, have a great day, EmpressCallipygos.

My comments aren't limited to The Straightener; there's a whole lot of bile in this thread to go around, from a variety of posters.

I find his initial post to simply be the most frustrating here because, like I said, I have spent a lot of time reading such review sites and I find the opposite atmosphere to that which he described. Also, I view The Straightener as someone that generally speaks with a great deal of knowledge and wisdom, and so it's particularly disappointing to see him make comments (that I suspect will inform a great many people's view on the subject) which, in my experience, are misleading at best.

If a subject about which few people here had any direct experience came up for discussion, and I jumped in & described a heinous site on the subject where Group X said & did awful things - and then, when asked to supply the URL for this so people could, you know, see for themselves - I came back with, 'oh, I can't post that here, it's a hate site' or some such, I suspect I'd be laughed right out of the place.

But this is the scary bad world of johns & The Straightener (rightly) has a lot of anecdotal credit here, so let fly with the adjectives:

"Most of these guys are not surprisingly totally creepy and bizarre... Their visits (to prostitutes) are compulsive... (some johns) go to insane lengths to have sex with women who appear to be so sick, underweight, addicted, unwashed, beat up as to be near death... (johns) go to really crazy lengths to document the prostitute population... darkly fascinating but positively revolting, as in actually nausea inducing."
posted by stinkycheese at 9:56 AM on January 20, 2010


Not sure how apt the comparison is between drugs and prostitution, considering we're talking about the difference between buying substances and renting human beings.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:58 AM on January 20, 2010


'oh, I can't post that here, it's a hate site' or some such

Actually, he had very good reasons:

1. He's at work at a government office and it would be blocked
2. He has a current client of whom someone posted an explicit picture and he wants to avoid hits to the site.
posted by Pax at 10:16 AM on January 20, 2010


Well (and not to be glib) prizefighting is renting human beings. Boxing and mixed-martial-arts are indisputably about renting human beings. And while I still have gripes with the way these sports are managed and promoted by their own coterie of pimps, I think history shows that open regulation does less harm than driving the entire industry underground.
posted by kid ichorous at 10:23 AM on January 20, 2010


Isn't that your job? (stinkycheese)

I'm fairly certain that The Straightener's job is social work under the auspices of the Philadelphia Treatment Court.

I could be wrong, but I think that, rather than his job, posting to a community website is, in fact, his hobby, and that it doesn't require him to do anything at all.

THE STRAIGHTENER HAS A POSSE.
posted by ocherdraco at 10:25 AM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


ocherdraco: The Straightener is one of only three contacts I've ever had at Metafilter. I'm a fan. So please do cease the extremely tiresome Overzealous Defense of Your Favourite MeFite here, OK? I like him, love his writing, and so on and so on.

And yes, when I refer to his job, I mean as a poster here obviously, not his profession.

Pax: I don't actually want to see this Philly john site FWIW. I'm sure most of us are aware there are sites on the internet where people are disrespectful towards women, even criminal. The thing is, if you're going to put that much value on a site in your post, you really ought to link it. Surely that's not a bizarre idea on Metafilter (you know, that site where people post links?).

As far as his stated reasons for not linking it, I completely understand not wanting to surf for such a site at work - still, he doesn't sit at work 24/7, right? And this photo almost certainly isn't available a year down the road from when he saw it so I don't think that's really a concern either. But, as ocherdraco states, there's no *requirement* that he post it. I just think it's good web etiquette.
posted by stinkycheese at 10:40 AM on January 20, 2010


Guys, this is getting into a MetaTalk-worthy derail here. I'd really suggest either taking this to email or opening a MeTa thread.
posted by jessamyn at 10:43 AM on January 20, 2010


I'm happy to drop it at this point.
posted by stinkycheese at 11:05 AM on January 20, 2010


"And you elected Bush twice."
posted by Artw at 4:21 PM on January 19


We never elected Bush! Not even once.
Money, cheats, & lies elected Bush twice.
posted by QueerAngel28 at 11:11 AM on January 20, 2010


Wow, I'm really shocked at how really stigmatizing the opinions about sex workers is here on MetaFilter. I'm sure that there are plenty of victims such as those described by Ruthless Bunny amongst the prostitute pool worldwide. But there are plenty of people who have chosen it as a profession and who are calling for the end of the legal persecution and social stigma being thrust upon them by otherwise well-meaning, reasoned adults.

Please don't make sweeping statements about the people involved in this profession. They are not "two distinct pools of talent" who are either addicted or slaves. To state so only reveals your own biases and says nothing about the truth of the situation.



I guess you missed the part of my post where I endorse legal prostitution.

I also believe that if the prostitution were legalized and regulated, as it is in some places in Europe, that it would be better for everyone, everywhere.

I do have a concern for those folks that I describe. It's also easy for someone to assume that a working girl is there because she wants to be. I'm sure that's what the johns tell themselves. "I'm just with someone who likes to have sex with random guys, and I get paid on top of it. Neat!" If you scratch the surface I maintain that in at least 70% of cases (and I think I'm being conservative) that the prostitute is NOT a happy, willing participant.

But I don't think we're ever going to agree. But I do want to go on record that consentual sex between two people, even if money exchanges hands, should be between those two people only.

I do recommend, "Born into Brothels" if you're interested in seeing what prostitution is like somewhere other than the US and Amsterdam.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:39 AM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Not sure how apt the comparison is between drugs and prostitution,

as i think i'm the first that made the comparison in the thread - i would like to state that i never said that prostitution is like drug use - i said that men in committed relationships turn to prostitution for a myriad of reasons as unquantifiable as why people form a drug habit.
posted by nadawi at 12:21 PM on January 20, 2010


I do recommend, "Born into Brothels" if you're interested in seeing what prostitution is like somewhere other than the US and Amsterdam.

I have seen that film, a few years ago. And it's fascinating, but perhaps not the whole story.

I would recommend watching the videos in the feed at Sex Workers Present if you would like to see perspectives from all over the world about how the profession is fighting against stigma internationally.
posted by hippybear at 12:24 PM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


i would like to state that i never said that prostitution is like drug use

And I'd like to state that I was responding to kid ichorous.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:56 PM on January 20, 2010


Rape suspect arrested; 2nd man sought in 4 sex attacks in Kensington.

Maxwell, who had a prior arrest in California for domestic assault, told police that he had paid for sex with the woman after meeting her online.

When police obtained search warrants for Maxwell's home, they found a digital camera that had nude photographs of the victim and those of other unidentified women, police said. He was released pending further investigation.

posted by The Straightener at 1:40 PM on January 20, 2010


£400-an-hour call girl turns tricks for 14 months to support herself while she's writing her PhD thesis. She fishes her thesis and becomes a research associate in developmental neurotoxicology and cancer epidemiology at the Bristol Initiative for Research of Child Health.

Specifically she has researched a possible link between the occurrence of thyroid cancer in women in Cumbria and fallout from Chernobyl in Ukraine and also the policies for assessing the risks of organophosphates.
posted by nadawi at 2:00 PM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Just to update, someone who is also familiar with the discussion board I mentioned upthread contacted me to tell me that there was actually a thread about me on there a couple weeks ago. Apparently the mongers (habitual Johns call themselves mongers, as in pussy mongers) saw this piece I wrote back in November which reflects on an installment of a series I was working on back in 2007. The resulting debate on the forum revolved around 1) could they identify the prostitute described in the piece (because they are obsessive about tracking and cataloging the girls) 2) figuring out whether I was referencing their site in the piece or was I talking about another monger site, and if the latter was the case what site am I referencing and do these other mongers have any good information and 3) trying to figure out if I was in fact a monger myself or even one of the board members.

Also, the apparently the primary supplier of photos to the site was recently bragging about having posted his 3000th prostitute photo to the board. The person who contacted me went a lot further than my description of the mongers as creepy to say the way they obsessively stalk and catalog the girls was, "totally sociopathic, almost serial killer-ish."
posted by The Straightener at 9:13 AM on January 24, 2010


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