Most excellent Spitzer-related media gaffe: CNN

via boingboing

I have nothing to add to this excellent sentence:

CNN apologized today for getting on-air analysis of Gov. Spitzer’s legal options from a former U.S. Attorney who resigned after being accused of biting a stripper.

Link (via For Your Entertainment, Thanks, Mark Frauenfelder!)

Are you a Victim?

victim-308.jpg

via suburra 

Sex Workers Blow Spitzer a Farewell Kiss

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts
Madeleine Dash, Sex Workers Action New York (SWANK), 
877-776-2004 x 2 swank@riseup.net

Audacia Ray, 718.554.1714
Sarah Bleviss, Sex Workers Outreach Project NYC (SWOP-NYC),
swop.nyc@gmail.com
Prostitutes of New York (PONY), pony@panix.com
Desiree Alliance, http://www.BoundNotGagged.com


Sex Workers Blow Spitzer a Farewell Kiss

New York, NY –  In the wake of former Governor Spitzer’s resignation, sex workers and human rights advocates remain concerned about the representation and future of “Kristen” and other sex workers, who do not have the legal and social privileges that will be afforded to Mr. Spitzer. The identity of the sex worker implicated in this case has already been made public, a situation mirroring many a sex worker’s worst nightmare.  “Kristen’s” exposure may entail not only bring her legal repercussions, but invasion of privacy, financial hardship and social opprobrium.

Rather than continuing to sensationalize Spitzer’s actions and those directly involved, we urge the press and the public to shift their focus to the legal climate under which sex workers operate, while respecting “Kristen’s” agency to have chosen sex work as a viable source of income.  “Everyone wants to know how high her rates were, all the salacious details, but the real issue at stake here is that the hypocrisy of criminalizing sex work has been exposed!  It’s a part of our society, of every society, and we need to take this opportunity to stop with the value judgments and start coming up with policies that respect the human dignity of all people, sex workers and all workers. ” says Dylan Wolfe of SWANK (Sex Workers Action New York).


Former Governor Spitzer took a lead role in developing the NY State Anti-Trafficking Law as well as other initiatives that stigmatize sex workers and their clientsIt is the stigma of sex work that leads many individuals like “Kristen” to keep their occupations a secret, creating further isolation and opportunities for exploitation. This same stigma compromises the safety and well-being of people like “Kristen” when their private lives become public knowledge.  Sex workers are then forced to work further underground, rendering them more vulnerable to abuse, while denying them access to the basic civic participation, health and social services available to other people. “Hopefully Mr. Spitzer’s unfortunate public decline will send a message to all like him who pass laws that endanger the safety of sex workers while indulging in the service themselves,” Sarah Bleviss of SWOP said, “Sex workers clearly provide them a very valuable service; it’s time for lawmakers to return the favor.”   Too little attention has been paid to what the repercussions of this case will be for those most directly concerned, sex workers, and more generally to the impact of laws and attitudes that marginalize them. It is time for a change. 

 

Spitzer pushed through penalty enhancements against clients of all sex workers. Sex worker advocates fought against such provisions because these policies drive people who need help further underground. Often prostitution is wrongly conflated with trafficking and vice-versa. People are trafficked for many kinds of work, be it domestic labor, farm work or other jobs, and this kind of exploitation undoubtedly needs to be addressed. The majority of men, women and transgendered people working in sex work, however, are ‘normal’ members of society who have used their own intellectual agency to decide to make a living in a sexually-oriented way. Laws, like the Mann Act (against inter-state transportation for the purposes of commercial sex), are too often used for punishing sex workers and their clients rather than those who profit from their exploitation.

 


S
ex workers make a living in an industry with the potential for high risks and little by way of protection from abuse.
The stigma surrounding our work can be lethal at its most extreme: we are often the targets of notorious serial killers, like the Green River Killer, Gary Ridgway who targeted prostitutes because he thought he “could kill as many of them as [he] wanted without getting caught.”  If sex work were decriminalized and legitimized as a form of paid labor like any other, or seen simply as an intimate exchange between consenting adults, the associated harms would be greatly diminished. Furthermore, sex workers could access their basic human rights and social services without fear of legal reprisal or personal upheaval. Eliot Spitzer has represented himself to the public as a law and order man, and ironically, has been in the vanguard of further criminalizing sex workers and clients. . . However, it’s a shame that so much time, energy, and tax payer resources are being spent to criminalize consensual sex between adults. It’s time to decriminalize prostitution.” says Sarah Blake of Prostitutes of New York (PONY). 

 

 

Incoming Governor Paterson and other law-makers need to create policies that actually reflect the realities of their own lives and those of their constituents, including sex workers, rather than the harmful legislation of morality, whereby private matters become public scandals.


 

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If only I would cooperate and what happens if I don’t.

It seems today I am evil.  No surprise this happens with some consistency and despite ever changing abolitionist feminists remarkably similar.  So today a few sporadic emails to SWOP East and myspace which reference my BnG post. Most of which is the usual rhetoric that I have heard many times. So I am responding to the troll named Whou indirectly, and to Jeffery Blumethal directly as his personal email contained a thinly veiled threat.

Dear Miss Brenneman

Miss Brenneman you are suffering from a mental illness that is not your fault. But you must realize the danger you cause to women and girls because of Stockholm Syndrome definition

This is the mental illness which you suffer. Again, you are not at fault for this. The Stockholm Syndrome (SS) is a psychological involuntary state in which victims of kidnapping or abuse begin to feel sympathy, emotional bonding, and solidarity for those who are abusing them or keeping them captive in oppressive situations.

The Stockholm Syndrome was named in 1973 by psychologist Nils Bejerot after the hostage victims of a Stockholm, Sweden robbery and six-day kidnapping resisted being rescued, defended their captors, and refused to testify against them. Two of the women hostages eventually became engaged to the captors.

When victims are under tremendous emotional and physical duress, they may begin to identify with their abusers or captors as a defensive mechanism. The victim develops a strategy of staying alive by keeping the captor happy and eventually sympathizes with the captor. Small acts of kindness on the part of the abuser increases the emotional bond.

Stockholm Syndrome is a common survival mechanism of

captured brides
battered women
physically and/or emotionally abused children
incest victims
prostitutes
cult members
concentration camp prisoners
prisoners of war
those in controlling and/or intimidating relationships
hijacked victims
hostages..

that is what which you are suffering. It is not you’re fault as I believe you are telling the truth about being tortured by pimps and tricks. That is what they do and what they like. But you are affected by this so severely that you are a danger. You can not keep writing because the media likes salacious stories and will talk to you. But because you suffer from acute Stockholm Syndrome you are now a recruiter for others to prostituted and tortured as you were. You may not realize it but you want others to tortured because you were and because it arouses you because it is how you learned to be loved. It has happened to many in the past so you can be forgiven but you can not continue talking publicly until after many years of therapy. For the safety of others I am telling you to stop as you can and will not be allowed to cause harm to thousands of women and girls for the sake of your unfortunate battle with Stockholm Syndrome. Raleigh, NC is not so hard to make the price too high for you to continue. Your illness is understandable as is your pain but it has turned you into a sexploitation recruiter making your torture porn and prostitution seem glamorous. Please stop yourself so that others do not have to help you get there.

Jeffery Blumenthal MSW

 

No Jeffery, I am not suffering Stockholm Syndrome and personally I find it annoying that you enclosed the definition in your letter as you apparently feel this would be a revelation to me. What impresses me is your effort to impose your clinical diagnosis of me in an effort to advance a political agenda. I don’t owe you or anyone a detailed response to an unfounded and baseless diagnosis. You do however leave openings for discussion.

I am not the perfect victim Jeffery. I am not your stereotype sex worker that either has to be saved from herself or rendered evil and a danger to society. I digress for a moment because your post brings to mind the Genesis song “Mama” but various posts all day have brought musical references to mind. Shrug. Back to topic. Yes, I have the classic history of childhood abuse that likely fills your stereotype. Yes, I was tortured. Yes I was a sex worker. So in your belief and that of others such as “Whou”, I have a duty to open my soul to the world. You create a dynamic in which I have a duty to re-live over and over the trauma I suffered in some of my experiences in sex work and that those should be public experiences to be debated for their veracity, for their effect on me, for their value in “warning others” and in the case of the neo abolitionist anti trafficking types of the Spitzer, Melissa Farley, Donna Hughes ilk, for value in using my experiences as the template for all sex workers. Veracity being determined by virtue of whether I am speaking from the abolitionist perspective. Effect on me as a cookie cutter mold to impose upon all sex workers. Duty as a mandated survivor to warn all those who may be at risk regardless of whether or not I continue to be torn apart in that process as by virtue of suffering I should become a martyr. The answer to that is no. My value as an activist, as a woman, as a human being, does not go up if I become a martyr for the cause. Feminism does not gain when women are destroyed for a macro level war to protect all women. And much to the likely surprise of many who oppose the idea of a survivor of sexual abuse, rape and torture, I am capable not only of finding healing without patronizing correspondence of a stranger but further, I am capable of being able to determine the propriety of my activism and of my life. As to your psych assessment of me. Remind me again. Who are you? We’ve never met……………… perhaps MSW type since you don’t know me, that means you don’t know me and thus you are projecting upon me your fantasies of victims of sexual violence and how they should respond.

This thing that you have Jeffery and others about my alleged recruiting of others into the sex industry. Anything to back up those assertions? Even my “pro prostitution, pro porn” friends and allies would likely advise you that I am not an outspoken proponent of sex work. I’m an advocate of sex worker human and labor rights and of harm reduction. That is a far cry from recruiting others into coerced participation in BDSM. Which for the record, neither I, nor any sex worker or sex worker rights activist that I have ever known has advocated coerced participation in sex work. We are actually strongly opposed to coercion. We do however do something as evil as say get together to send condoms to sex workers in Chile

Perhaps Jeffery, Whou, others,, you can’t get off on the fantasy of me advocating sex worker rights rather than hearing the story of my exploitation and thus I am not fulfilling your needs and given you obviously view me as a cookie cutter whore apparently if I can’t fulfill your expectations I better shut up and get out? It seems that I like my sex worker and sex worker rights allies am not some iconic idol, I’m just a woman, just an individual, one who happens to believe in human rights for sex workers despite my past making me the potential posterchild for the CATW magazine’s year end issue. Despite having been a sex worker, I can think for myself, choose to do so and advocate for others to have the same rights.

As far as the sublime threat about my speaking to the media and the use of where I live as part of the subliminal threat. Nice try but it’s been done. It’s on my myspace profile that I live in Raleigh. It isn’t exactly a secret. So Magnum MSW, Whou and others, you will have to find someone else to sell your pitch about being the perfect victim and the duties that go along with it. If I want to march to the beat of a drummer I can listen to Mick Fleetwood or Jim Dispirito. But it is never again going to be to the likes of Farley, Hughes or their true believers Blumenthal or someone as creative as to use the name Whou. Doesn’t Ric Flair have a copyright on that? No wait, I think Ric Flair is Wooooo,,

Spitzer News Links

Yet another man deciding for sex workers how their work should be handled. NY Times — please stop publishing this crap.

Elizabeth Pisani wrote a great piece for The Guardian, summing up Spitzer, the problems with US law and making a clear case for changing sex work laws in favor of the sex workers. One of the best pieces I’ve read about this whole affair.

Comparing the Clinton and Spizter scandals.

The Duke of Westminster (UK) may’ve been an ECVIP client.

A high-end escort gives her thoughts on Spitzer and how her business works.

The guy who did the street study in Chicago also studied higher-end girls. Who knew? He rates them by Tiers. Nice to know. Thanks.

Someone commented on here if we don’t have cable. Actually, I don’t. Haven’t watched TV in years (I read). Since I’ve been asked to cover the news of this scandal, I am.

Speaking of news, the stories are getting repetitive and stupid. Unless something new happens, this thing is just going to go in circles for a while.

Air America show

Dave in Phoenix appeared on Richard Greene’s show on Air America yesterday (here and here) touting his jesus-loves-hookers babble and criticizing SWOP for including street workers in its membership which in his opinion dooms the entire decriminalization initiative.  For those of you who don’t know, “Dave in Phoenix” is a crick in our neck here in Arizona; he’s a john who maintains a listserve and quasi-website that has a pretty large audience.  

Can anyone – ANYONE – please contact Air America to see if a SWOP representative can get on Richard Greene’s show?   His politics are aligned with ours (decrim, etc.) and I’m sure he’d be amenable to hearing from an actual sex worker instead of this nutjob.