Column: Year’s End 2014

Speaking in Los Angeles on June 5th, 2014; photo by Kelly Michaels

The author speaking in Los Angeles on June 5th, 2014; photo by Kelly Michaels

The Old Year has gone. Let the dead past bury its own dead. – Edward Powell

As has been my custom for five years, New Year’s Eve is the occasion for a retrospective of the year’s news. But while in previous years I mostly reported on the things other people did, the biggest story this year (at least in this blog) is the stuff I did. Besides too many interviews to count (including one for Reason TV that has been seen over 20,000 times so far), I made dozens of personal appearances all over the country, as detailed in my tour diaries from May until the present. The excuse for these was the publication of my book, Ladies of the Night (and if you haven’t bought a copy yet, you probably should); I know that last year I said that the second one (tentatively entitled The Essential Maggie McNeill) would be ready by summer, but obviously the tour pre-empted that. I still hope to have it ready in the next couple of months, but I’m not promising anything because I’ve finally decided to take everyone’s advice and try to make just a tad more time for myself.

The best news of the year is that we’re still right on track for an end of “sex trafficking” hysteria by 2017, as I predicted three years ago; already we’re beginning to see skeptical articles from journalists and academics in addition to consultation of actual experts, prominent reporting on anti-hysteria studies and increased placement for articles from yours truly (including Reason, The Washington Post and a law journal). Though the hysteria is still in full bloom in most quarters (especially among cops, rescue industry opportunists and others with a vested interest in keeping the panic going), the exposure of “trafficking” darlings Somaly Mam and Chong Kim opened the door to allowing skeptics to openly express their doubts. Still, just as the bad laws spawned by the last round of “sex trafficking” hysteria have endured to the present day, so will those spawned by this one endure for decades after the panic is over. This year saw an expansion in efforts (some of them surreptitious) to impose the horrible Swedish model, and while France barely escaped it Canada and Northern Ireland have not, with the Republic of Ireland almost sure to follow. And while there’s no way the US will ever stop persecuting sex workers without a Supreme Court order halting the practice, Swedish-flavored “end demand” rhetoric provides a palatable “feminist” excuse for endemic police violence and hounding of sex workers.

But it’s not only sex workers who are infantilized in the name of “feminism”; female university students, too, are treated as moral imbeciles too delicate to make sexual decisions without the help of coercive patriarchal institutions. And it’s not only sex workers who are the victims of police violence; nearly every week sees at least one report of a cop raping at least one woman (I reported 60 this year). Not one of my Links columns is free of at least one incident of police brutality, and cops’ unrestrained and consequence-free murders of young men, especially young black men, has provoked mass protests all year. Nor do all cop attacks involve physical violence; actual robbery under cover of “law enforcement” pretenses is at an all-time high, and many police and FBI operations are motivated by profit and/or the desire to create a spectacle in advancement of a political narrative.

At first glance, this hasn’t been a good year for sex workers; our rights are even under attack in countries where they’ve been reasonably secure for years, and agency-denying “sex trafficking” propaganda is promoted in virtually every mainstream venue and pretended to be factual in legislatures and police circles worldwide. But at the same time academics, human rights organizations and many others are beginning to open their eyes to the truth, and everywhere I traveled this summer I found receptive audiences. Moral panics do not slowly fade away; they usually get worse until they very quickly collapse. The collapse of widespread societal support for persecution of sex workers is coming…and sooner than you might think.

(Cross-posted from The Honest Courtesan)

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