Melissa Farley sends someone to the Naked Anthropologist to rant

I am keeping up with the tendency to change language again, so that what people were calling prostitution and then trafficking now becomes, increasingly, slavery. The other day I critiqued a review of a film set in a 19th-century Paris brothel and wondered if there may be a desire for slavery to come back. Melissa Farley seems to have sent someone to rant at me just there, but perhaps the post was chosen at random. I wonder if anyone from here would like to reply to the commenter, who is called Stella Marr? Her comment includes

Ms. Agustin, you describe yourself as a feminist. I feel compelled to tell you how horrifying it is to me to read work like yours. Because, perhaps unintentionally, you are pumping for the pimps and massive organized criminal and economic interests that sexually exploit women.

You are making women like me invisible.

I can take care of myself regarding such accusations, but there is a lot more there to reply to: a real Farleyesque assortment, and as if I speak for all feminists and she for all sex workers.

She also quotes from an angry anti-prostitution book I was forced to reply to because the publisher did not fact-check and allowed many errors to be published: Note to anti-prostitutionists: Sex worker movements are nothing to sneer at. There is a long translation from the Swedish original, so perhaps that book is slated to be published in English, in which case the publisher had better do that fact-checking!

–Laura Agustín, the Naked Anthropologist

35 Responses

  1. Ahhh the feminazis are at it again! How dare we be feminists yet support sex work! No one pimped or trafficked me into the sex industry, I drove myself!

    Notice how the sex worker camp also does not use such strong language as “it is horrifying to read your work…”

    When I read Dr. Farley’s work, I enter with an open mind to understand all aspects of research as a researcher. When I emailed Dr. Farley personally, I did not insult her work in fact, I mentioned that we are not at all that far apart in what we are saying. We are just using a different vessel.

    I find it interesting that the feminazis supposedly feel sorry for us and that we are victims yet they attack in such passion. Don’t speak out of both sides of your mouth please.

    Ms. Billie Jackson, M.A., Ph.D student, Capella University
    SWOP Colorado, LLC

  2. Indeed, the two women who commented on that thread with horror stories of trafficking sounded very similar to each other. Either these stories aren’t real, or they’re both very coached in what to say (or they’re both the same person).

  3. It is the same person, who has a page on Farley’s site, some sort of internship perhaps?

  4. To paraphrase, Stella mentioned how Melissa Farley’s research found that people working as prostitutes experienced the same level of trauma as people subject to state-sanctioned torture. Well, that’s not too surprising considering that sex workers are sometimes subject to state-sanctioned torture as a consequence of oppressive anti-prostitution laws. Does Melissa Farley acknowledge that? For example, Marcia Powell was imprisoned for prostitution and left to die outside in a jail cage in the Arizona heat. It was over 100 degrees, yet the guards routinely denied her pleas for water and she died dehydrated with burns on her body.
    Also in Cambodia, under U.S. imposed anti-prostitution legislation, brothel sex workers are being subject to raids and raped, beaten, and robbed in prison. Even though this legislation was supposedly passed in the name of stopping human trafficking, I have no idea how gang raping sex workers stops human trafficking. In these examples, it was people working for the state (not the clients who Melissa Farley so routinely villifies) who tortured sex workers. Stop punishing sex workers to death, literally.

  5. To add to what Amanda said, I noticed that the people who commented on being trafficked have very similiar writing styles (in reference to the blog Feminist Whore linked to). I realize that some people just have similiar writing styles and I’m not jumping to any conclusions, but I’m also wondering like some people on here.

  6. Jill Brenneman has talked about what the prohibitionists call “reframing experiences”, i.e. lying and exaggerating to make their stories more horrible. If a number of women have been taught to “reframe” out of the same manual (so to speak), it’s not surprising they sound alike.

  7. This is the website of the person who commented on mine http://www.stellamarr.com/

    where it says ‘Stella will be blogging weekly for Prostitution Research and Education beginning in 2012.’

    so I am supposing that has begun.

  8. Yes, I assume if they actually are two different people, they’re well-coached on what to say by the feminists they’re working for (assuming they actually had the experiences they’re reporting, one of which didn’t sound completely credible).

    I’ve left a comment twice correcting the misinformation about Douglas Fox and it still hasn’t shown up. Hmm…

  9. where did you leave a comment?

  10. I commented on the Feministe post. The misinformation Stella spouts about Douglas is so wrong it’s laughable (Douglas would probably agree).

  11. We need to find out if such a person as Stella Marr even exists of if she is the creation of Farley’s sick and twisted mind. Certainly she has a right (if she is a real human being and not a figment of Farley’s ‘brain’) to express her opinions and her experiences, but she must not allow the rest of us to be silenced either.

  12. Farley doesn’t have the stones to go anyplace that she isn’t surrounded by the choir.

  13. In other words, Farley doesn’t have the stones your average, traumatized sex worker does.

  14. Farley is worse than a coward. She knowingly rips open wounded souls, ones that need to be focused on their own healing, turns them into research subjects and worse into political minions that bleed openly long before they understand what they are doing in order to make a political point. She exploits vulnerable women to use them as political cannon fodder without regard to their health and well being and disposes of them when they are no longer of value to her. And Farley isn’t the worst one for that. NIkki Craft makes Farley look like an amateur in exploitation.

  15. she did appear once with me, veronica monet and robyn few, and someone got her to shake my hand: http://www.lauraagustin.com/melissa-farley-and-laura-agustin-on-prostitution-with-skeletons

  16. mmm…stellamar sounds like that Jody what’s her name from los vegas

  17. “mmm…stellamar sounds like that Jody what’s her name from los vegas”

    As somebody who’s read this blog for a few years, I was thinking the same thing; I too remember the heavy commenting by Jody Williams (aka Sex Workers Anonymous, High Tech Madame) when BNG was blogging heavily about Farley’s much publicized Nevada “study”. Jody was also back channel communicating for Farley, as I seem to remember.

    I do think that Stella, Jody, and Melissa Farley are three different people, but this tendency of Farley’s to take a “recovering prostitute” under her wing and push them to into being Farley’s internet presence seems to be a long-standing pattern, not to mention a creepy one. We’ll see if Stella lasts any longer than Jody Williams, who after a few weeks was denouncing Farley for treating her like a peon.

  18. Stella is back on my blog, if anyone wants to talk with and even debate her: http://www.lauraagustin.com/sex-slavery-the-eros-ignorance#comment-6262

  19. Speaking of Jody Williams, she was a madam: http://www.lasvegascitylife.com/articles/2007/12/13/news/local_news/iq_18460027.txt . Yet, she was aligned with the stauch anti sex work side, which I find so interesting considering how they villify madams, like they’re the equivilant of female pimps. I don’t know if Jody is still aligned with the anti’s. I don’t think she’s totally loyal to one side or the other, but just seems to seek alliances whichever side she believes she can get the most funding on. She was on Bound Not Gagged a few years back praising how wonderful Melissa Farley is and bashing us, and then she comes on saying that she’s no longer aligned with Melissa Farley, complaining about how some of the anti’s are getting more funding than she is. At this point, she reached out to us.

    What are the anti’s saying? That it’s ok to be a madam as long as the madams support their side, but if they don’t, then they’re just female pimps who sexually exploit women? That contradictory behavior disgusts me so much and shows how ungenuine some of the anti’s are in their positions. How hypocritcal. I’m not a madam and never have been. Yet, this still disgusts me so much.

  20. The adult film industry is battling a similar type person..different name, same lies. FYI, I did email the film maker feedback about the whore bashing…

    http://www.thedevilandshelleylubben.com/

  21. I let Stella know that I am happy to take on a debate with her. Any time any place any audience.

  22. I’ve been chatting with Stella in the Feministe blog tonight and she’s being very kind and compassionate. I don’t necessarily see eye to eye with her on every comment, but I’m not going to hold that against her personally. I appreciate that she’s willing to kindly and constructively dialogue with us and consider our feelings. That makes me feel so good.

  23. Stella might be nice, but she’s also terribly misinformed. And likely in the middle of being used, which is rather sad for her.

  24. jillbrenneman, on December 15, 2011 at 6:29 pm said:

    I let Stella know that I am happy to take on a debate with her. Any time any place any audience.

    Battle of the (ex) whores…sounds like fun.

  25. actually i’m a current whore

  26. Even Better! Happy Ending violence day…

  27. [...] thread about me on admitted pimp Maggie McNeill’s blog.  Another anonymous email led me to this piece on Bound Not Gagged. Here   McNeill implies that I’m a puppet controlled by [...]

  28. I read the in the message above (“Part 2-More Pimps Posing as Sexworker Activists”) and Stella complains of being cyber bullied when this person has been cyber bullying sex workers advocating for our human rights through vilifying our who whole movement-not only people Stella mentions by name- and trivializing our voices as sex workers without even knowing all of our experiences. Basically, Stella argues that certain people in the movement have held management positions and then uses this to discredit our whole movement–including sex workers who do not even hold management positions. It’s not only people in management who this person targets, as Stella has accused Norma Jean Almadovar of being a convicted pimp when Norma Jean was actually arrested while working as an escort. Furthermore, in Part 1 of the blog linked to above, Stella said Norma Jean was convicted on a charge stemming from her involvement in the prostitution of women while working as a cop. In reality, Norma Jean was set up in a vice sting operation while working as an escort after leaving the police force and writing a book to expose corruption in the LAPD. Leaving out this context seems like nothing more than an attempt to deny Norma Jean’s ability to speak as a sex worker, and then use this to discredit all sex workers in our movement.
    Such maliciousness makes it harder for sex workers to identify as and speak out as sex workers’ rights activists, and I have no doubt it is nothing more than a malicious attempt to shut us up. I do not even know who Stella is, but I do know that some sex workers have expressed distress due to the nasty attitudes this person expresses, and I demand an end to this maliciousness. Even some sex workers who have not been personally targeted by the claims still express feeling this as sex workers’ rights activists. We have every right to defend ourselves as sex workers advocating for our human rights, even if Stella does not like what we all say. For all I know, the people making malicious claims against our movement could be abusive pimps attempting to shut up sex workers mobilizing for our rights so they could have more control.
    There are a variety of reasons why people become sex workers’ rights activists that have nothing to do with being pimps. You identify as a survivor, yet so do some sex workers’ rights activists, and this experience could lead people to advocacy to give sex workers more power and abusive pimps and traffickers less control. Some sex workers rights activists also are trafficking survivors; have experienced working for abusive and exploitative management; have experienced violence in the sex trade; and persecution and hatred for being sex workers. In this context, the malicious attitudes against the sex workers’ rights movement as a whole are at best ignorant, and I would argue downright mean-spirited, hateful, and hurtful.
    Dancers at the Lusty Lady peek show in San Francisco, not management, formed a labor union to improved conditions. In fact, these dancers were challenging many of the policies by management. Such action is very much what sex workers’ rights advocacy is about, sex workers having the freedom to speak up, be listened to, and unite for rights. Years later, dancers bought out the Lusty Lady and it is now a sex worker-owned (in this sense, meaning dancers) co-op.
    Advocating for the human rights of sex workers does not make people pimps. Opposing violence against sex workers does not make people pimps. Allowing sex workers to have voices and encouraging people to listen does not make people pimps. We speak from multiple voices. Yet, that does not make any invalid. Supporting sex workers’ rights to work in the sex industry as well as the right to leave the sex industry without being discriminated against in other jobs for being sex workers does not make people pimps. Striving to give sex workers voices in policies affecting our livelihoods does not make people pimps. As we say, no laws about us without us. These are what the sex workers’ rights movement stands for and advocates for.

  29. [...] my language. Maxine Doogan, the leader of the Erotic Service Providers’ Union states that I remind her of another troublemaker. She links to a video created by Michael Whiteacre, a lawyer and filmmaker [...]

  30. Wow. I actually know who the person is behind the handle “Vegas Vixen” and I was actually led to believe by this person that we were “friends” because we BOTH had been madams. In fact, I remember Vegas Vixen sending me clippings about her past as a madam, and as a trafficking victim, in order to open up our friendship in the beginning. Which shocks me she’s say anything about me “seeking funding” from anyone because she should know good and well I’ve never asked her for a dime for one thing, I also never ever bashed her group ever despite her claiming above that I “bashed them”, and further I’m curious why she would think that I would “align myself” with anyone or have “loyalty” to anyone? Especially in such a field where someone like Vegas Vixen would send me clippings about her past as a madam and a trafficking victim, invite me to coffee, act like we’re friends, and then come on here and say such false and misleading bashing statements of me on here? I’ve never accepted nor even applied for any government grants. I’ve never held a fund raiser. There’s not one person on here I’ve asked for one dime. I’ve funded our group work entirely off our book sales or my own money since day one just as any other 12 step group does. Actually now since last year we gave away 5,000 Recovery Guides we were asked for from members who wanted them but couldn’t afford them and only sold 20 copies – I think we’re doing actually much worse than any other 12 step group. But I have come on different forums only trying to share my own experiences and things I’ve seen with my own eyes. Which is why I haven’t complained about the other anti-trafficking groups raising “more money then me” because that implies I’ve been trying to raise money like them. They’ve been trying to raise money fraudulently and then not serving any victims for the money they have raised. I have personally filed some fraud complaints with various US Attorney Generals and some of those cases have already resulted in criminal findings – while some are still under investigation. I don’t appreciate us being exploited or pimped in any form – whether it’s a pimp in a velvet fedora, or a church claiming they’re trying to “help us” when they clearly are out for themselves like Benny Perez was when he exploited Annie Lombert to line his pockets by pretending to try and open a safe house for trafficking victims in Vegas and exploited her pain, or Melissa Farley who did the same thing behind my back until I caught on (but she’s been reported also), or even the two people who have actually pretended to be me. I’ve had two woman already that I’ve tracked down in California who have done things pretending to be me that I’ve found and shut down. One woman had applied for a grant with the Dept. of Health & Human Services claiming to be me. When I found out about it – I called the authorities and people were arrested and she was shut down. There was another woman who was claiming to be me, and not only set up a “fake” SWA meeting, but even talked to the press claiming to be me! I have contacted the publisher of the magazine that printed this story and the writer and demanded a retraction – and they are in the process of doing this. I don’t understand how they could speak to someone who claims to be the founder of a program – when they’ve never called the phone number for that program to verify this person isn’t that person – but again that seems to be the new press these days. Because that’s also something else I’ve been catching onto lately – “fake” victims like something out of that MTV show “Catfish”. When I did that press conference with Melissa Farley in 2007 about trafficking in Nevada – there was this one woman who showed up that I’d never met in m life. Melissa insisted the woman was a “survivor” and that she was “part of the interview” and I had never heard of anyone being a “fake survivor” before so I accepted it at face value. However, at dinner I started asking her questions about her experiences. As I said elsewhere, I’ve talked to an estimated 250,000 male and female trafficking victims of one kind of another so I kind of know what “we” sound like. The more she’s talking to me – the more her story isn’t adding up. When I started questioning her more and more – she got more frustrated with me. I finally told her flat out – why is this not making sense to me?” To which she proceeded to get up and walk away from me and refused to speak to me again during the whole time she was in Vegas. When my car got demolished by an attack the next day – she asked me for photos and things like estimates on repairs. She said her home church would help me out if I had these things. I faxed and emailed her things things and then I got a call from two people from her church who asked me things like for a copy of the police report. I gave it to them. They said that I’d “get a check in a few days” and then I heard nothing. When I tried to get back in touch with these people – she blocked me. She had told me the day before she was completely busted – but then suddenly she’s at the mall buying clothes and contact lens. Later I heard that her church had donated money to me I never received. It dawned on me this woman had collected the money meant for me that I never received. When I tried to contact her again – she had a disconnected phone number. When I tracked her down a few months later – she was in the middle of a criminal fraud investigation for supposedly ripping off a donor for $10,000 and actually had the nerve to ask me to help her out by giving her money to help pay for her lawyer. She said her lawyer was going to cost her $10,000. A few months later she says she got the lawyer and had the case handled. When I asked where she got the money – she blew me off and wouldn’t answer but next thing I know I’m hearing she’s making a movie about her life. Interestingly enough – the reviews for this movie all say the same thing – her story isn’t adding up or making sense. I didn’t see one actual survivor supporting the opening of her movie either. When I watched the movie – it was a completely different story than the one she’d told me at the hotel in Vegas when we met. It dawned on me this woman had made up this whole story just to make a buck to pay for her lawyer. Can I prove it? Nope. But I thought I might invite her on the radio show to promote her movie – and she won’t come. I find it interesting that she won’d do one single piece of any media except with this one other survivor – that over the last few months more than one website has popped up is a “fake” survivor also. Who I never heard of either until I saw a post from her on Melissa Farley’s website. Every “real” survivor I speak to seems real happy to talk to me, meet me for coffee, gab on the phone, and finally have someone to talk to that understands them. But when I contacted this woman – she got real cold and wouldn’t talk to me at all. I thought it very strange actually – but then I figured she just didn’t like me. Until I got an email from a woman who told me she had joined her support group for survivors and that when they kept bashing me really badly she had asked them to please stop because it made her feel uncomfortable to see another survivor bashed like that, especially one who wasn’t around to defend herself. Their response was to delete her from the group. So I went online to do some research on why they would be bashing me so badly when they don’t even know me – and that’s when I found all these websites claiming this woman was a “fake” survivor. I had a free month on a private investigative site – so I ran the names through and they weren’t lying. This was a “fake” person even. If you look at the dates of when she first appeared on Melissa Farley’s site, and then her group, and then when she started to sell her book and movie – it’s very clear she only pretended to be a survivor to support some legislation, and to sell a book and a movie that both fell through. Once they fell through and everyone started pulling her covers – she’s disappeared basically. I asked her to come on the radio show and defend herself if she’s “real” and she refused. I then started emailing people who claim to be “real good friends” with her and who talk about how she’s a “real survivor” and asked how many of them actually “spoke to her live on the phone”. I found that not one of them actually spoke to her on the phone – it was all email, chat, text, etc. I found another one who claimed her daughter was a “trafficking victim” to support the passing of some Nevada legislature – but as I went in to offer some help to her daughter – it’s coming unraveled also. I then came across another site talking about “trafficking this” and “trafficking that” and I asked this site owner to “speak to me on the phone please”. They balked. I said that with shows like “catfish” and all these “fake trafficking victims lately” that I wanted to hear their voice for 2 minutes to see if they were who they said they were. They refused but insisted their information was “valid”. I said “fine – defend it and get on the phone and let me hear this is really you” and they refused. Now anyone knows that people pretend to be other people on the internet all the time so my asking to hear someone’s voice to see they are “real” is not unreasonable in these times – but this person started claiming I was “insulting them” and “minimizing” them – so I said whatever – just get on the phone then and tell me that” to which they still refused. This person has also been quoted on Melissa Farley’s site. Which means that I can count at least 4 people now that have a direct link to Melissa Farley’s site that are either a “fake” trafficking victim or just a “fake” person even I’m not entirely sure yet at this point without more research. I do know that the minute I started catching on to this – is the minute she took the listing for our group Sex Workers Anonymous down off her website – not when I started accusing her of taking money in our name interestingly enough. So all this “snarking” back and forth at each other online – I think is going to have to stop or we’re playing into someone’s hands. Especially if we don’t know what each other looks like, sounds like, and even if they’re real – it’s too easy to be saying we’ve done things we haven’t done, getting us wound up about things the other person never did, and right now it looks like they’ve got us chasing after trafficking victims that aren’t even real people. I mean think about it – I just came on here and said I was “Jody” – does that make me the “real Jody”? Which is why this is my last posting on someone else’s site after this. From now on – if someone wants to hear from me – they can come to our site or talk to me directly. I also haven’t published a photo of myself online in over 22 years out of respect for my daughter who was in school – but she’s old enough now so that’s being posted so in the hopes these people will stop impersonating me and then I get grief over it. And the next time you want to bash me over something you think I said or did – please just do me and favor and at least find out if it was (1) really even me and (2) did I really do it, and then you can bash away to your heart’s content because otherwise we’re being really manipulated easily here by someone for some reason.

  31. Jody — If anyone complains about your lengthy personal attacks against people who have done nothing to you (especially when you misidentify them, like Vegan Vixen), you could be banned from posting here. You’re welcome to argue all you want, but keep it germane to the post and discussion.

  32. While I have always been a major proponent of free speech I believe Amanda is correct with this.

    I think there is a limit to what is allowable. While I shrug at Jody’s bullshit because it is so outlandish that it is questionable that many take her seriously. Others may not feel this way. Others may find baseless personal attacks like this hurtful. I also know that she has misidentified Vegan Vixen. Jody is throwing absolutely false accusations 40,000 characters and no line breaks at a time.

    We take enough false accusations as sex workers and sex worker rights activists. When someone out right lies as Jody is doing.

    This, in my opinion, reaches the enough is enough quotient.

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