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The Rise and Fall of RedBook (wired.com)
85 points by prostoalex on March 6, 2015 | hide | past | favorite | 146 comments



Wired article on the benefits of MyRedBook to escorts doesn't mention there was an entire sister site called MyPinkBook (not listed in the indictment but also shut down) with its own set of forums specifically for escorts to trade safety tips, resources for medical screenings, how to get help in dangerous situations, etc... It's almost too bad it was so profitable because these were sites that very likely saved lives serving a particularly vulnerable population.


I hope one day, assuming I have the money and don't have a stable partner, I will legally be able to pay a professional for their company for a few hours, both as consenting adults not under duress.

I like to think that we have the right to be "loved" and cared for, even if fictitiously and for a very brief moment.


Oddly enough, you can....if you film it. Porn actors don't work for free. I always thought that someone would recognize this and create a service where the girls are available as "actresses" with boilerplate contracts etc to make the experience quick and easy. When done the video would be the property of the client, who could destroy it or keep it.

All of it would be legal. I never built it because that isn't a business I really want to be involved in, but somebody should - even if only to highlight how arbitrary these laws are.


So this is really interesting. I was curious about this awhile back and found this:

https://randazza.wordpress.com/2008/03/18/why-is-prostitutio...

So interestingly California is the only state in the union, at least as of 2008, where porn is strictly speaking legal. But note that the line of reasoning used to make it legal was that the person paying for the sex wasn't actually involved in the sex. So essentially you have a situation in which two adults engage in consensual sex and are paid by a third party for the performance.

Now one fun question that arises: what about single person production? The guy who pays a woman to sleep with him while he films it. Such first person sites definitely exist.

This leads to the second part which is a first amendment defense. Incidentally, I think this is where your scheme would fall apart.

In order to qualify as "speech" I would imagine a court would require some external purpose for the performance. Typically that would be a commercial one (selling porn). Although I would imagine it could be an artistic one (displaying the video in a show of some kind). Or using the video in some form of protest. The point being that to qualify as speech you have to actually be speaking to someone.

Simply making porn for your own amusement would fail that test, thus turning this into a more traditional prostitute/john relationship in the eyes of the court.

The more interesting thing is that this apparently hasn't been challenged in other states. I suspect because most state governments either lack standing (people aren't making commercial porn in their state.. or at least haven't been caught doing it) or that they think they'd generally fail a first amendment challenge.

I should also note I'm not a lawyer.


You may be right, although....there have to have been porn movies made that weren't distributed for one reason or another. Were all of those legally considered prostitution because they didn't get distributed? I don't know the answer, but I'm guessing they weren't.

Imagine you had a house where you setup a few bedrooms with pre-set cameras. People come in, sign the papers saying they want to create a movie, select their actress(es), and leave with a link to view the movie from secure servers. It is available to them, to share or delete if they like. I am also not a lawyer, but I think this would probably be OK, especially in California where there are specific laws allowing porn to be produced.


But note that the line of reasoning used to make it legal was that the person paying for the sex wasn't actually involved in the sex. So essentially you have a situation in which two adults engage in consensual sex and are paid by a third party for the performance.

What if there was a "registration fee" that went to the website, and it just so happened that this was more than the payment to both "film actors?"

In order to qualify as "speech" I would imagine a court would require some external purpose for the performance.

What if the website posted the video for members?


It's certainly possible to conceive of contractual arrangements that would allow for this, but prosecutors could equally well argue that such arrangements were a mere instrumentality to facilitate otherwise illegal activity, and that argument would rest upon the net direction of economic activity.

Suppose Alice is willing to have sex with Bob for $100, and Carol owns a video camera and operates a porn website. So if Carol pays Alice $100 and films and publishes her having sex with Bob, then fair enough, Alice is a porn actress. But in this context, Bob is also someone who would be willing to pay $100 to have sex with Alice, were it not illegal to do so. If Bob offers $100 to Carol, who gives it to Alice, then Charlie is engaged in an illegal pimping relationship with Alice. Carol could pay Bob $100, in which case Bob would also be an actor, but this doesn't make any economic sense for Carol because it's unlikely that every sexual transaction is going to generate $200 of viewing revenue. I mean, why would anyone watch porn if you could just go over to Carol's and make porn, and walk out with more money than you came in with? OK, Carol could pay bob only $10 because of supply and demand, but that still doesn't make sense for Charlie, who's operating at a loss.

In reality, the economic motivator is Alice's willingness to have sex for $100 and Bob's willingness to pay for her participation. We could introduce Don, who holds himself out as a booking agent of some sort, and accepts some sort of 'membership fee' from Bob before going on to set up a porn shoot over at Carol's house, but that's just the same situation with an extra helping of conspiracy on the side, plus the economic incentives make even less sense. When you get right down to it the reality is that nobody particularly wants to pay Bob for sex (at least not in the short term) and Bob is in any case more interested in having sex than getting paid. His sexual drive is the motivating factor for any transaction; if no men wanted to have sex, Alice might be able to make $100 by, I dunno, selling hamburgers, but it's unlikely that Bob could consider $100 worth of hamburgers an adequate substitute for having sex with Alice.

Of course the other problem with this is that many people who patronize prostitutes wouldn't necessarily want to appear in sex videos on porn-not-prostitution.com, although I suppose you could get around that by having all the videos in silhouette or pixelating the images enough to obscure the participants' identities or something.

It's not impossible to come up with some legal scheme whereby Bob sets himself up as a porn producer and is the star of the movies he directs and produces, but I think it would still be almost impossible to generalize this out to some sort of platform. Courts would draw a distinction between Bob actively working a producer of pornography and running a business like Hugh Hefner or whoever, vs 'Carols Adult Video Services' whose clientele consisted entirely of loss-making 'adult video producers' who engaged in no commercial activity whatsoever other participation in sex acts.

Going back to hamburgers, you probably wouldn't be able to get out of restaurant licensing/inspection/etc. requirements by claiming that all the people sitting at tables eating hamburgers were actually trainee food-tasters in a school for culinary critics, not a restaurant, nosiree.


The difference there is that the restaurant has to have a brick and mortar "tasting room." A "porn site" only has to have a virtual presence. The same goes for the "booking agents." To "work," at least temporarily, the arrangement simply has to be inaccessible in a form which can be presented in court.

A better format would be an online "school" for porn film production. So the site could charge "tuition" and act as a way to match "actors" and "producers." Any additional transactions between parties involved in the shoot could happen outside the website.


"Now one fun question that arises: what about single person production? The guy who pays a woman to sleep with him while he films it. Such first person sites definitely exist."

Establish a corporation by which you are the sole owner. You perform the deeds, corporation pays the escort.


When programmers try to hack the courts, judges aren't fooled.


http://xkcd.com/1494/ obligatory?


Sell each film for $1t. Nobody can afford it, so it is effectively private.


There will be a few wrinkles, as there are local laws that apply to filming pornography.

From what I've read, it's become difficult enough to make money in porn, that many porn actresses are basically using porn as a means of publicity to promote themselves as high priced prostitutes. It wouldn't surprise me if there was already a website as you describe.



From what I've heard that's basically always been the case, it's just that porn actresses used to be a lot more secretive about it.


Somehow this idea of filming and legally documenting the act, not to mention the 1099 and tax implications... doesn't seem like the best approach. :-/


There are cities in Southern California who have used anti-prostitution statutes to arrest people doing porn. It's logical, IMO, if a bit irregular.


Don't be ridiculous. This is America, the land of the free, by which we mean the land where practically everyone wants to stick their nose in your business and try to change the way you live your life.

There are a few people who advocate generally leaving others alone to do what they want, but they are universally derided as being on the lunatic fringe.


...but they are universally derided as being on the lunatic fringe.

I think this is (slowly) starting to change. There seems to be a weird nexus on the other side between the libertarian right and the populist left. Prison reform is one example. Perhaps a slow acknowledgement that some of the laws governing social policy just don't make sense in the 21st century.


Years ago I remember reading an article claiming that, according to some Pew research poll or another, the most common (maybe not a plurality) political disposition among Americans was socially liberal, fiscally conservative. Unfortunately, neither party caters to this segment. The Democrats are socially liberal and (historically, at least) fiscally liberal; the Republicans tend to be socially conservative and (based on the last couple of decades at least) fiscally batshit crazy liberal, despite having a platform calling for the exact opposite of that.

The libertarians might be the Republicans' salvation, in that many of them actually do resemble the mythical socially liberal/fiscally conservative politicians, at least if you squint hard enough. While I don't agree with them 100%, I would definitely rather have the libertarianish Republicans being the dominant force in the party than theocons, who just seem utterly repugnant to me.

On the other hand, the Democrats could benefit hugely if any disaffected libertarians switch parties. I don't see any more cognitive dissonance between libertarians and Democrats than I do libertarians and Republicans, honestly. For whatever reason people think of the Republican party as being the natural home for people with libertarian tendencies, but that doesn't seem any more set in stone than the South voting solid Democrat.

Most people don't remember this, but the South voted Democrat consistently prior to 1964. When the Democratic party supported the Civil Rights Act, the evangelical voters switched en masse from Democrat to Republican. The evangelicals weren't any more married to the Democrats than the libertarians are to the Republicans, IMO. In both cases, neither party really represents the values that the voting bloc really care about, so their loyalty is more based on expediency than alignment of political principles.


It is important to distinguish between libertarians who are fiscally conservative (spend money on necessities, not foreign wars, etc.), and libertarians like the Koch brothers, for whom libertarianism is a way to get the government off their businesses' backs.

I am still trying to find an "ism" that resembles my views: spend money on roads, borders, police, education, social services, and healthcare; cut spending on the military, drop the second amendment, and step away from being the world police. Oh, and in the next 10-20 years spend about $500b/year on solving global warming. Then leave social issues the hell alone, such that as long as people are not directly harming each other, leave them the hell alone.

Sort of a mix of libertarian (socially liberal, fiscally conservative), with democratic ideas for healthcare (100% covered single payer, very good safety net for poor, unemployed), and the green party's concern for the environment. Oh and find me a politician brave enough to say something about the gun situation in the US.


To be honest, your views sound textbook liberal. And quite rational.


Maybe, but not tax and spend liberal. I actually want lower taxes via reduced military spending. I don't think the Dems in the US would go for that. Thanks for the perspective.


I think the main issue there is that all of those "positives" you support cost a lot of money to do well...more than would even be saved by knocking off 3/4 of the military budget.

No matter how you cut it, "taxes fund civilization". All of those things you want the nation to fund collectively (and I agree that many things are vastly more efficient to fund collectively) require taxing and then spending said tax revenues.

I'm not disagreeing or trying to be pedantic. I actually agree that there are adjustments that ought to be made to the overall national budget including less expenditure on military infrastructure and elective military campaigns. But I think the whole "but not tax and spend" thing is a cliche at this point because everyone has different priorities and opinions on what counts as "important" and what constitutes wasteful "tax and spend".


> I don't think the Dems in the US would go for that.

Every non-office-holding Democrat I know would go for it. The problem is that it's political suicide to actually suggest it, because most people don't realize how exorbitant our military spending actually is, so voting for a cut means you go on record as anti-military. That's not an easy rap to beat.

It's one of those downsides to democracy. No one has the power to just do it.


I think it gets dicey when you ask him to define "harm". That has the potential to hit pretty much anywhere on the spectra.


Despite Rand Paul being obligated to pay lip service to the traditional Republican base, I think you'll find his positions to be rather in line with the socially liberal fiscally conservative point of view; he gets tarred by the Jeb Bush Karl Rove crowd and then gets hammered from the left by the Barbara Boxer types. In reality he's got a good blend assuming he can overcome the propaganda against him. Of course no candidate is perfect but I would take a libertarian leaning conservative over a nanny state 'liberal' any day. The problem is that the issues that really matter are generally obfuscated by a machine with vested interests in maintaining certain issues that incite deep divisions in the American public.

I think a Hager vs Rand Paul election would be far better than a Hillary v Jeb race that folks seem to be predicting.


I think you are right and have perhaps expanded on what I was alluding to. However, I think calling the libertarian movement the Republicans' salvation might be a mistake. I'm not sure there is a leader within that leadership sect that is not, in fact, batshit crazy on other aspects. From what's available in the media, it seems that a lot of Libertarians place a considerable amount of weight on "personal freedoms" that include really anti-science perspectives like "don't do vaccinations" or "it's okay to legislate the bible in schools". I'm glad you pointed out the fact that the South voted Democrat once upon a time. I think the Civil Rights Act was a prescient event in American Political Discourse, and an event that put what, at the time, was the libertarian wing in the Republican Party on the wrong side of history. In any case, and maybe the point of what I'm saying, is that party dominance on issues is not permanent. It changes over time.


Prison reform, drug policy, foreign policy... there are lots of areas of overlap. But these are groups with who have diametrically opposite views regarding the basis of society. I don't know if and how long they'll be able to work together.


Yeah I'll for sure concede that point about how long they're gonna work together. In some respects, I wonder if the GOP is supporting some of the more populist agendas just to win elections and not necessarily because they actually believe in the principle. I'm just trying to be more of an indeterminate optimist for some issues. But you're right, the point remains.


>> being on the lunatic fringe.

> I think this is (slowly) starting to change.

Abolitionists were once thought of as being on the lunatic fringe. Now we accept their position as philosophically correct. As for libertarians, I entirely agree with those that point out national sovereignty as being inconsistent with humanist values.

However, just because you are philosophically correct, that doesn't mean you aren't part of a lunatic fringe. The differentiating factor is how you interact and propose to interact with society at large.


Thanks for a more optimistic view


Confusing pattern recognition is a fast pain. Slowing social scaling sense to account for trauma/error combinators is about literacy.


> they are universally derided as being on the lunatic fringe.

Yeah contradicting 100 years of development of economic theory, i.e. proposing to return to the gold standard, will have that effect.


For the most part I would guess that laws that are perceived as an attempt to restrict people from doing what they want, are in fact meant to protect innocent people from becoming victims of crimes.

A lot of these laws, no doubt, if executed more thoughtfully, would bring us far more reasonable laws.

Ultimately I think it boils down to being able to (a) convince citizens they need to make thoughtful consideration when voting for their representatives, and (b) convince qualified people that they should run for office.


I read this comic[0] a few years ago, it's autobiographic and in it the main character goes for a while living like you just explained and I'd recommend reading it.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paying_for_It


Sorry, you don't have the right to love and care, because other people have to give them. I advocate basic income, but I don't advocate basic love, because while money is easily transferrable, love is not.


I don't think he was asking for an entitlement program to pay for hookers.


are you completely oblivious to the logical inconsistency in the positions you just articulated?


Yes, I am. Where is the logical inconsistency?


Not all consent is created equal. Momentary consent does not justify a lifetime of oppression and discrimination. Prostitution is an act of violence against all women and should be prosecuted as such.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/jinamoore/in-sweden-being-a-prostitu...


You can find the people forced into prostitution sympathetic and deserving of support to find a different occupation, yet simultaneously support legalization as a harm reduction measure. Prostitution, much like drugs that get you high, isn't going away. As Bill Hicks said, we had a war on drugs, and the people on drugs won. The minimal net harm position appears to be legalization, std testing, and severe penalties for abusing or coercing prostitutes.


There is a thing called the Nordic Model, which is a third option.


The Swedish/Nordic Model just means that women in the industry aren't directly criminalised for having sex for money (so long as they have the legal right to work in the country). It still makes it illegal for women to take safety measures like hiring a bouncer or driver to protect them from violent clients, or working together with another woman for the same reason. It also makes it a criminal offence to knowingly rent a flat to a prostitute. It's almost exactly the opposite of harm reduction - it makes it legal to sell sex, but only in ways that are high risk. Hell, I've seen activists in the UK who see this as a positive, because the added danger will encourage women to leave the industry.


You leave out the Nordic model's compontent of social programs that give women all the means to exit the industry. Why would one leave this out...?


Stop treating women like children. Did you know that they can make their own decisions just like men?

FYI, there are male prostitutes also. And prostitutes with a variety of other gender identities also.


Stop treating religious people like children. Did you know that they can choose their own religion just like atheists? It's not like they were raised from infancy on their ideologies and beliefs, and subject to social pressure if they thought or spoke out of line.

Your second line is non-sensical. There are white people in Ferguson, so we should ignore the federal report that finds the police department running debtor's prisons for county revenue. Right? "Women" refers to the group of biologically female [1] human beings, which is about half the world's population.

[1] http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-info/sexual-orientat...


None of that has any relevance to my comment? My sole point in the second paragraph was that prostitution is not solely a woman's domain. So is prostitution violence against all genders? If so, why specify women? If not, why not?


The existence of people in the sex industry (yes, it's in fact an industry) who are not women doesn't disqualify the relevance of women's social position in the world to the industries (they are industries, sorry) of prostitution and mainstream pornography, which are primarily oriented toward straight male customers.

I don't know what to tell you if you can't parse the first paragraph of my comment.


Weirdly, while certain feminist positions started with insisting that women and men be treated the same, other positions by self-styled "feminists" are simply the insistence that women must be treated differently. ("False equivalence")

Being part of a sexually dimorphic sentient species with strong instincts for the social "outgrouping" of different "others" is an awesomely weird experience. At other times, it really, genuinely sucks.

The basic problem with humans, is that we are wired up so we can't always recognize everyone else as fully "human." When it comes to this, it definitely "takes two hands to clap." Were it to be truly otherwise, many of the problems of the human condition would be solved. (Consider the above a reference to you and the gp commenter.)


Women occupy a different social position then men, so we must think about them differently, thus treating them differently. This old talking point about "equal treatment" is a "strawman".

I think if you do a sufficient amount of reading about the history of feminist movements (there are good books, like Lorber's "Gender Inequality") you'll find that "insisting that women and men be treated the same" is explicitly not the prioritized framing of all feminists or feminist movements. There are other framings.


Can you explain how a man buying sex from a male prostitute is an act of violence against all women? Or a women paying either a man or a women for sex?

Forcing or coercing someone to have sex, whether for money or not, is wrong, and I doubt you'll find anyone on here who disagrees with that. But there are, in fact, people who actually freely choose to have sex for money, and even enjoy it, and enjoy the relationship they have with their clients. Should these people really be treated as criminals and prevented from doing the job they like and can earn a living by doing?

I think there are pros and cons to legal prostitution, and if you're against it, then come up with real reasons to argue against it. Don't try to shut down the debate with a clearly false statement that prostitution is an act of violence against an entire gender.


craigsmitham meant straight male johns using the prostitution industry. You know this, and yet act like you don't. This is called "intellectual dishonesty".

craigsmitham seems to endorse the Nordic model, where prostitutes are not in fact "treated as criminals". It's useful to read the material that people link, even if you disagree with them.


Could you expand on the "not all consent is created equal" part?

Is it related to other things such as sexual slavery?


For an extreme example, it's generally considered a bad idea to let people get paid for 'donating' organs. In addition to the practical problem (paid donors are more likely to lie about the condition of the donation), there is an ethical problem - the rich can buy health at the expense of the poor. The actual cost to the donor is related to the chance they might need that lung or kidney in 30 years, and is nearly impossible to quantify or for the donor to give informed consent.

Of course, we do let 18 year olds pose naked for magazines without considering the cost of not being able to run for political office in 30 years. In that case the long term cost is lower and easier to anticipate.

Prostitution is somewhere between those examples. It attracts those without other options, who might not be able to rationally weigh the risks of future medical or psychological harm against a current financial gain.


Do you support the legalization of abortion? I think the exact same argument would apply, do you disagree?


If a starving or addicted person does X for $Y, is that true consent? While you're not literally raping the person, it's closer to rape than consent imo.


If we go down this logical path, I'd say society already has lower-than-minimum-wage and/or dangerous jobs being done by people who have no feasible alternative... so we've kinda already accepted that this situation will occur for some people. Not saying this is okay, just saying that legalized prostitution as a profession would just be another dangerous job in a long list of other extremely hazardous jobs people probably shouldn't do, but end up doing anyway.


Continuing down that logical path, it's impossible to have a truly consensual business transaction of any sort because the involvement of currency makes it coercive.


I think the implied part of this discussion is "captive". The person must at least feel that there is no other choice.

We see that in prostitution, in illegal immigrants working in horrible conditions, Dubai laborers[1], etc. In contrast, a Software Developer in the Bay area can hardly claim such conditions.

1. http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/oct/23/mi...


I think the implied part of this discussion is that there are transactions taking place with a power imbalance between the parties. If that is not acceptable, most of capitalism will promptly fall apart.


While I tend to agree that many (though not necessarily all) transactions exhibit a power imbalance, I disagree strongly that it's currency (or money, or other forms of exchange) which make it so.

Though if you'd care to expand, I'd be interested in your argument.


You're right, it's not currency that creates the power imbalance.


If a starving person works for Walmart for $10 an hour, is that slavery?


Possibly. If their personal situation is sufficiently bleak, and there are mechanisms that are arbitrary and unfair helping to keep them in that situation. However, it's almost universally true that any given person has far more choice than they are aware of.


Sure, then working and prostitution is the same thing. You give your time and services so that you receive payment. Both could be coerced in a bad way like slavery, or being forced into prostitution.

Then the argument is if a person is not forced into prostitution but chooses it as their livelihood, shouldn't it be acceptable?


I'm completely sympathetic to that view, but if the person has the choice of prostituting her/himself or starve, and you ban the first option, what so you think will happen?

If you want to prevent these situation you're describing, you need to give people a third option, that enables them to avoid the first two. Criminalizing prostitution will just harm those you want to help.

EDIT: from your other post, it seems we're in agreement.


That implies every financial transaction is rape.


Not every financial transaction is of the kind "sell this or starve" (including a lot of the sex sold, I'm sure).


Then it's not an argument against prostitution so much as an argument against selling things to poor people.


Or perhaps against buying things (or work) from poor people?


No, a man using a woman for sex when she can not give consent is already called "rape" and is illegal, because we as a civilization understand that this causes significant trauma for individuals -- that is, it's categorized as "violence".

Buying services and goods, on the other hand, is not violent, like rape is, although we could see the fact of poor people (or all people, really) having to sell portions of their lives to strangers to survive as unfortunate and alienating. This is, I think, where Marxism comes from.


I think you misunderstood, because you missed the sarcastic tone that I perceived in the previous parent comment.

I agree with what you wrote, of course. I may not like the existence of prostitution, but in order to have others respect my strange preferences, I'll have to respect the strange preferences of others, as long as it's consenting adults doing things.


True.

I'm sold. We need a law against having financial dealings with poor people. Think of the children.


I think a large swath of the working population would disagree. Give up a 30% of my life to do something I would rather not do so that I don't starve? I guess I'll take that deal.


You suggest they aren't capable of making rational decisions as an adult in their own interests, and consequently implicitly comparing them to mentally-ill people who are wards of the state.


That is literally true of addicts, so yes. Just like we don't let impaired people enter into binding contracts.


"...an act of violence against all women"? What a load of hyperbolic crap. How does the act of two people making a mutually beneficial transaction amount to "violence" against anyone?

Of course other women don't like it, but that has nothing to do with "trafficking" or "violence". They don't like it because it reduces the amount of power they have over men.

EDIT: Incidentally, there's no reason to hold up Sweden's infantilization of women as an example for anyone else. There's no reason to believe women aren't capable of making their own decisions, but if that's the case they shouldn't be participating in public life.


There are lots of women who are coerced into prostitution, either directly or structurally. But I agree that the existence and frequency of problems is not inherent, ie that it doesn't preclude some women from taking up such work as a free choice.

Of course other women don't like it, but that has nothing to do with "trafficking" or "violence". They don't like it because it reduces the amount of power they have over men.

That's a bunch of hyperbolic crap too, though.


> There are lots of women who are coerced into prostitution, either directly or structurally.

That's true, but why do you phrase it solely in terms of women? There are a lot of boys/men in the sex industry also.

My personal argument is the criminalisation of prostitution forces prostitutes to associate with criminals, which is where the abuses can happen.

In my country, where prostitution is legal, a prostitute recently took her boss (What do Americans call a man who runs a brothel?) to our Human Rights Tribunal for sexual harassment and won. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm

If you want to minimise harm, legalisation strikes me as the obvious move.


Only because of the comment a few levels above that characterized prostitution as fundamentally violent towards women. I agree sex work as a whole is much more diverse and complex than can be summed up in a simple stereotype.


I think craigsmitham meant women as a class, not individual women. Prostitution (which includes porn) is fundamentally harmful to women as a class. I think this should be obvious, but those to whom it is not can see the work of Gail Dines and related feminists.


Perhaps so, but I disagree with this thesis. (mainly because I don't subscribe to Marxist assumptions about the nature of class conflict and find them overly simplistic).


I don't know much about Marxism, I use "class" in the intuitive way that means a group of people with interests. I don't think anyone actually disagrees that the world has groups of people with interests. Everyone understands that blackface is detrimental to black people "as a class", and was/is symtomatic of certain things about the "class" of white people out of which blackface performers come.


Using terms 'intuitively' usually means (often unconsciously) including a whole lot of ideological baggage. I actually do disagree with your model of the world; I don't think groups have interests as such, but that individuals have interests, many of which overlap to some degree with similarly situated people who could be said to be part of the same class.

The problem with the Marxist approach to theory (which arguably the fault of Marx's followers as much as himself) is that it over-emphasizes class membership to the point of abrogating individuality. In theoretical discussions,t he experience of people whose experience is more nuanced or at odds with their apparent class status are often dismissed with the claim that the individual has a 'false consciousness' of his or her own situation; While capitalistic (and implicitly, patriarchal) social models do aim to be self-sustaining by promulgating ideology about 'the way things are' and domesticating or even commodifying dissent, the Marxist ideological system can be just as much of a straitjacket, which is one reason for the relatively recent rise of intersectionality theory, with women, ethnic minority groups, sexual minorities and so forth asserting their separate and distinct identities. This is a big reason that left politics seem so fragmented, because each new identity group often plays out similar social dynamics to the one that gave rise to it; so you could say that Marx identified working, middle, and upper economic classes, and that feminists later sought a distinct identity because Marxist theory described some of their issues but ignored a lot of others; in turn black feminists, lesbian feminists, and so on had to carve out their own identities because the main trunk of feminism seemed to be constructed out of white and heteronormative assumptions which ignored distinctly different aspects of their experiences, and so on. Intersectionality theory comes at things from the perspective that people can have membership in multiple classes and that the interests, assumptions, or structures of those classes don't necessarily align neatly.In the context of this discussion, I'm saying that sex work is a lot more complex than just something that negatively affects women as a class, and to to simplify it into such is to marginalize quite a lot of people within the class of sex workers by saying that their experiences and perspectives are irrelevant and should be ignored.

I can't tell whether you mean to reference blackface as just an example of a class issue or to draw an analogy with sex work. If the latter, I think it fails because blackface was about excluding capable performers from the white economic market for entertainment despite the demand for their output, whereas class-based objections to prostitution rest on the argument that any kind of commercial relations involving sexuality are fundamentally exploitative/oppressive and should be forbidden.


You set up the "listen to the sex workers" talking point very elaborately, when I and feminists have already listened to them quite enough to understand what the sex industry is to women ( http://sarahditum.com/2014/02/24/who-do-you-listen-to/ ).

For blackface, I mean the former. Your last sentence misrepresents every feminist objection to the prostitution industries that I have ever come across. Maybe you are reading different feminists that I haven't heard of.


We could have saved a great deal of time if you had simply said at the outset you were unwilling to consider any point of view other than the one you currently hold. I resent that after taking the time to compose a good faith explanation of my views you dismiss it as a 'talking point', at the same time as you accuse other posters of making purely rhetorical arguments.


No, it is not in any way or shape obvious, quite the opposite. Gail Dines is a crusader with no regard for reality (or women).


Do you mean to intentionally betray a lack of an argument by restricting your comment to pure rhetoric?


> That's true, but why do you phrase it solely in terms of women? There are a lot of boys/men in the sex industry also.

I have never actually heard of a male being coerced into prostitution. I know that some choose it. I've heard of plenty of females being coerced.

> What do Americans call a man who runs a brothel?

A pimp.

> If you want to minimise harm, legalisation strikes me as the obvious move.

Americans in aggregate aren't interested in minimizing harm. In aggregate, our concerns tend to be about morality, and "violence" tends to not get included as inherently immoral. We care more about the relative defenselessness of a victim than that there was a victim in the first place.

That's why we favor charity over systematic aid.


> I have never actually heard of a male being coerced into prostitution.

Does that mean it doesn't happen?


You're welcome to provide an example, rather than trying to pit your wit against mine in an effort to get absolutely nowhere.


>There are lots of women who are coerced into prostitution, either directly or structurally.

"[s]tructurally"? What does that mean? I agree forcing a woman into prostitution should be against the law, but if she see's it as the best of her options then that's her decision.

>That's a bunch of hyperbolic crap too, though.

No, not really. Almost all sex is transactional at some level. Women who don't sell it for cash don't want to compete with professionals in the same way manufacturers try to keep out low-priced imports.


By structurally, I mean due to economic or social structures that leave some people with little alternative to this type of informal economic transaction (the downsides of informality being a lack of access to legal and financial resources that support workers in other sectors, albeit imperfectly or in untimely fashion). If it's the best option because of some lack of educational opportunities or social policy that puts people at a disadvantage (eg by creating a ghetto) then that's a problem.

No, not really. Almost all sex is transactional at some level. Women who don't sell it for cash don't want to compete with professionals in the same way manufacturers try to keep out low-priced imports.

I disagree, and think your view is overly reductionist and overly simplistic. Sex work involves a much more diverse set of situations than your stereotypical and rather cynical appraisal of gender-economic relations. It's not that the popular social structures like monogamy don't have any economic dimension, but the assumption that this is the only thing that motivates anyone is as much a denial of agency as the notion that all prostitutes are helpless victims of evil patriarchy.


>If it's the best option because of some lack of educational opportunities or social policy that puts people at a disadvantage (eg by creating a ghetto) then that's a problem.

I don't accept that as some form of coercion. Why is it men seem to be able to find alternatives, but women are somehow helpless victims of circumstance? I used to play poker with prostitutes. To a woman they were simply too lazy to avail themselves of other opportunities. Hooking is easy money.

In any event if she's so desperate this is the only way she can put food on the table, state interference with her trade puts her life in jeopardy, no?

>It's not that the popular social structures like monogamy don't have any economic dimension, but the assumption that this is the only thing that motivates anyone is as much a denial of agency as the notion that all prostitutes are helpless victims of evil patriarchy.

I made no such assumption. But you don't have to talk to too many men to realize their wives and girlfriends use sex as a means to control them.


I don't accept your premise. Men don't go into sex work to the same degree because there isn't enough economic demand for their services. On the other hand, lots of men in bad economic circumstances end working as small-time drug dealers, another line of work that involves willing economic participation (and could thus be called victimless crime), measurable social externalities (which is why it gets criminalized), the possibility of easy money but also a serious risk of violence and exploitation, and a lack of access to other work-related social institutions (labor standards authorities, financial services, dispute resolution through the legal system etc.).

Of course not all prostitutes are forced into that line of work by necessity (as I've said from the outset, and don't intend to repeat further). But it's a mistake to generalize form your experience and assume that none are. I could equally well infer that it's the sort of people who like to spend their leisure hours gambling who are lazy, since gambling by definition offers the possibility of a large quick score rather than the painstaking accumulation of wealth. Or I might infer that since poker is a game of bluffing as much as of luck, it suited at least some of your companions to present themselves to you as shiftless and lazy so as to tempt you into more reckless betting - after all, don't prostitutes specialize professionalize in pretending to be whatever others expect them to be?

Now really, I don't have any strong personal opinions about gambling, plus I for all I know you and your friends used to play for pennies and the primary payoff was the enjoyment of each others' social company; I'm just trying to point out pitfalls in generalizing too much from a limited sample. It's facile to say 'x just does y because s/he is lazy' - it might be that X has great difficulty getting any other kind of job due to having spent the last 10 years engaged in Y, which is not anything you can put on a resume.

In any event if she's so desperate this is the only way she can put food on the table, state interference with her trade puts her life in jeopardy, no?

It depends. In the case of Redbook, as discussed in the article, I think state interference is a bad thing because it seems to have functioned as a platform for women (and others, but mostly women) engaged in this line of work to organize themselves economically and reduce the harmful factors by spreading worthwhile information, from access to better STD-mitigation practices to screening out clients known to be dangerous or abusive. Indeed, one of the key features of Redbook (as I understand it) was that it reduced the traditional leverage of pimps over prostitutes.

On the other hand, if state social welfare agencies come across some cracked-out hooker turning tricks for $20 or someone who's been trafficked across borders for organized sex work and thus doesn't have any of the protections of citizenship or legal residency, it's not doing those persons any favor to say 'well, at least you're on the economic ladder, carry on I guess...' What they need is probably safe housing, maybe drug detox, counselling, education and a boatload of other resources - but that gets expensive, isn't a popular political expenditure (partly because of attitudes like yours), and involves a lot of bureaucratic/ administrative overhead both within state agencies and in the nonprofit sector.

I made no such assumption. But you don't have to talk to too many men to realize their wives and girlfriends use sex as a means to control them.

Maybe it's just that I'm confident and self-reliant enough not to feel dependent on anyone else for my sexual identity (for want of a better expression), but statements like that seem very biased to me. Men are only controlled by their sexuality to the extent that they find it burdensome to obtain consent for sexual activity, no? I mean, look at the not-inconsiderable number of married men who have affairs, long-term mistresses, or hire prostitutes; by definition they find outlets for their sexual drive outside of their marital/conjugal relationship, yet choose to remain within that relationship, so they must be motivated by other considerations besides access to sexual activity. I'm pretty skeptical whenever I hear claims about 'women having men by the balls,' so to speak.


>I don't accept your premise. Men don't go into sex work to the same degree because there isn't enough economic demand for their services.

You missed my point. There isn't much demand for men as sex workers and yet they still manage to avoid starving.

>But it's a mistake to generalize form your experience and assume that none are.

How many prostitutes do you think there are as a percentage of the total population? In the US, especially, women have other options.

>Or I might infer that since poker is a game of bluffing as much as of luck, it suited at least some of your companions to present themselves to you as shiftless and lazy so as to tempt you into more reckless betting - after all, don't prostitutes specialize professionalize in pretending to be whatever others expect them to be?

They weren't working - they were playing. Not very well, either. This was a card club in an area that wasn't great, and hookers and drug dealers tend to gamble a lot because they have a lot of undeclared cash.

>What they need is probably safe housing, maybe drug detox, counselling, education and a boatload of other resources...'

Well, okay, but that's a separate issue from whether or not making her trade illegal will benefit her. It won't.

>Men are only controlled by their sexuality to the extent that they find it burdensome to obtain consent for sexual activity, no?

Oh, it's not perfect control. If a wife withholds sex from her husband for long enough he's going to get it somewhere else, and most women are more deft than that. But using sex as a reward for painting the garage isn't fundamentally different than selling it.


Good grief. I just give up.


That's probably best.


Yeah, some of these women could certainly use better options. The main problem I and sex worker activists have with the whole structural coercion argument is that the solutions to it almost always involve taking the option of sex work away from these vulnerable women and forcing them into options they consider worse, rather than opening better opportunities for them and letting them choose them freely. Whether they involve making it difficult and dangerous to earn money that way through "end demand" laws, or forcing them into re-education and labour programs through the threat of imprisonment, or outright criminalization of them and everyone around them, or literal imprisonment in sweatshops in some cases, the solutions always involve coercing them into situations that they find worse but that outsiders are more comfortable with.


That's an excellent point - as I was arguing elsewhere in the thread, the approach you describe can end up being dismissive or even destructive of individual autonomy. I'm very struck by the collision here between colliding ideologies, with the myth of a perfectly free market and equal economic opportunity on one side and an evil patriarchy which has the socioeconomic subjugation of women as its primary goal on the other, with many people on both sides seeming to have little respect for the actual individuals in the middle.

By the way, if you're involved in activism in this area, could you drop me a line? I'm working on a somewhat related project and will be looking to get some well-informed input on the subject.


> There are lots of women who are coerced into prostitution, either directly or structurally.

Illegality can make it harder for women who are vulnerable to such coercion to seek legal help. No one entirely sane relishes tangling with the law. I remember reading about a situation in Germany, where women using unemployment job seeking services were being pressured to go to prostitution job interviews.

Would this be a problem if there was no social stigma attached to the profession? Perhaps. I'd think it would be wise for the law to treat that particular a profession a little differently, however. (As in the German example.)

>> Of course other women don't like it, but that has nothing to do with "trafficking" or "violence". They don't like it because it reduces the amount of power they have over men.

> That's a bunch of hyperbolic crap too, though.

There's a world of difference between the fluffy and cheerful young woman in suburban Arizona who was interviewed on Penn & Teller's show and an often homeless urban street walker with a dependence on drugs. (Not to mention women trafficked across national borders.) Women who have very little socio-economic power may well be coerced or feel trapped by their circumstances in any line of work. So it's no wonder that a profession of illegal status carries extra complications.

As usual, what is one "issue" in name is actually a half dozen different issues, with socio-economic status as one of a number of differentiating factors.

There is such violence. There is such trafficking. There are also matters of gender politics and the economics of social structures influencing morality. The only hyperbola here is claiming each part is the whole. Blind men...elephant...blah de blah...


> I remember reading about a situation in Germany, where women using unemployment job seeking services were being pressured to go to prostitution job interviews.

Except that's complete bullshit. There was one case where a job seeker got a suggestion to apply for a job serving drinks in a brothel and one where an escort job got into their database of open jobs. Both were considered a mistake and against policy which says that sex-related work is only to be offered on the initiative of the job seeker.


There is no "social stigma" to prostitution afaik. I keep seeing people (mostly men) assert this as gospel truth, but it's an extremely common phenomenon around the world. I'm going to need sources on the claim that there is some stigma.


There is no "social stigma" to prostitution afaik.

https://www.google.com/search?q=social+stigma+prostution+nor...

EDIT: "Social stigma" that looks like, sounds like, and feels like social stigma passes the "duck test." It essentially is social stigma. It doesn't matter so much for the question of its existence who in particular it originates with.


You could also say that adultery has a social stigma, but you see it everywhere, even from the most conservative of men. I would argue that this is not "social stigma", but rather a different conception of controlling women. To the aging, minority group of conservative men who are supposedly "against" prostitution, women are supposed to be private property, not public property.


"Social stigma" that looks like, sounds like, and feels like social stigma passes the "duck test." It essentially is social stigma. It doesn't matter so much for the question of its existence who in particular it originates with. I've met way too many young people who have strong feelings against prostitution to think you are correct, however.


I think the URL is yourfallacyis dot com slash anecdotal? And maybe those young people were against prostitution because they believed it to be harmful to women as a class and involves extreme violence to individual women, whose stories you can find everywhere -- did you ask them?

But yes, if we define "social stigma" so broadly that it includes legitimate concern for individuals and groups, there is also social stigma against pedophilia, I guess.


You're weirdly defining "social stigma" as only including stigma which is unjust? As used in common speech, there is indeed "social stigma" against pedophiles. The third time someone tries the trick of a contrarian and unconventional personal definition of a word to put words into someone's mouth to create a false impression of an unsavory position, it's time to simply break off the interaction.


If you're not trolling then you're painfully naive. I find it impossible to reconcile this with your other comment elsewhere in this subthread.


What makes you say this? Did you read my comment to stcredzero below?


I did, and your comment referencing Gail Dines. It seems to me that you're way over-reliant on theory to the point that you're missing the forest for the trees. Try pretending to to people outside your social circle that you are engaged in prostitution, or dating a prostitute, or variations on that fictional theme.


The social attitute toward being a prostitute is another thing entirely. I was talking about "social stigma" against using prostitutes.

In most contexts "outside of my social circle", "sex" itself is generally seen as humorous/inappropriate topic, for reasons that I don't think are due to sex being seen as shameful or worthy of stigma, although many claim that this is the case. So if I did what you suggest, there would be confounding variables, would there not?

I think if my boss and I (he counts as outside my circle, no?) were both drunk in a bar, and I mentioned using a prostitute, his jaw would stay well off of the floor. I think this is true of most men, even the conservative Republicans ones who act otherwise in more "family" type situation. I will suggest that you try it, maybe I'm wrong.


The problem is that when you hire the services of a prostitute, you will probably have no idea about the situation of that person. Maybe this person is in charge of his/her life and is making a well-informed choice. But maybe this person is coerced into prostitution. In that case you will be financially supporting a very wrong thing, and you have no way of knowing. I think the question whether prostitution should be legal is much less important than the conclusion that being a customer is morally indefensible.


Exactly, johns should be penalized. We sanction entire countries because of the conditions of the workers in manufacturing industries, don't we? But we simply can't touch the sex industry because that would be restricting "free choice"...


Farming in California is built on trafficked, essentially slave, labor, but I guess the much smaller problems in prostitution are a more romantic target.


Smaller? By what metric?


Frequency of piecework? I bet there are a lot more instances of "picking a fruit" per year by trafficked farm worker than there are instances of sex by a trafficked sex worker.


Why are you referring to rape as "sex"? Rape is a violent crime every time it happens. I think we can recognize one issue as valuable without putting down the other.


Rape is non-consensual sexual activity. If you want to establish a convention where "sex" only means consensual sex and "rape" only means non-consensual sexual activity, then I'll consent to that. There are far more intellectually honest ways of establishing such a convention than this sort of sideways putting words into someone's mouth.


Rape is sex. It may be violent. It may be criminal. It may be abhorrent. But it's still sex. The feminists are really out to lunch on this one.


By this logic prostitution is no different than any economic transaction. Goods are made by people who are virtually, if not in fact, slaves. Does that mean you refuse to buy anything you didn't make with your own hands?


And indeed, consumption of sweatshop (and polluting) labor is a huge problem, and the Buy Local movement is at attempt to combat it.


It's not realistic, though. You can't possibly research the povenance of every garment, food item, piece of electronics, drop of oil, shelter, and building material you buy. It's impossible.


The question that always gets me: You have stories of women being threatened with injury or death to perform or to service johns. How do you know that the women in the porn you watch or the prostitutes or strippers you use are _not_ being coerced? How can you be certain?

Thanks for making the important point. I'm glad you're downvoted into invisibility, it only exemplifies the nature of the sex-positivity movement -- to silence any criticism. There is no hope for honest debate because the ideology is intellectually dishonest from the start, it's a means to an end. The work of Gail Dines is probably a better source than BuzzFeed though.


I've never thought about this topic before, and from your comments it shows you have given it careful thought, so probably this is going to have some fundamental flaws, but I was just thinking:

We do seem to have found solutions, however imperfect, in other domains where workers were always vulnerable. How do you know your new tech gadget wasn't produced with child labour, or in some horrible sweatshop? There's a long list of things, probably including at least labour unions, investigative journalism, and a lot of legislation.

But for all those things to work, it has to all be a somewhat legal enterprise to begin with. You probably can't build a brand for a brothel-chain that's widely recognised to treat their workers well, if that's an illegal activity.

What strikes me as patronising about the nordic model, that you mention up in the thread, is this: if I'm legalising your job, but still go after your customers, that means I'm still not taking your job seriously, or?


I'm glad to see a comment on this issue raising honest points, which is uncommon to see. In 2015, using a lot of tech is far less optional than using pornography and sex workers, which is optional (as in, optional = bool(True)) in every case.

For the both the necessary and optional physical products, there should be more involvement in campaigns for favorable trade legislation and worker conditions, and I think we're all guilty of lack of participation in this, which is only made easier by the entrenched influence of the companies involved.

From reading a lot of different people, I don't think the feminist advocates for the Nordic model "don't take sex work seriously". I think they identify porn and prostitution as socially harmful to women as a class and physically and psychologically damaging to individaul women in a too-large amount of cases, and would rather see women exit en masse through programs that help them find support and work elsewhere, than anything else -- toward the eventual abolition of prostituion. (I think the opinion is split on whether prostitution is inherently harmful -- that is, in a post-gender world where there is no trance of social definition of women as stores of resources to be extracted for pleasure and service, would prostitution still be socially harmful? -- but I don't think it matters for the questions at hand.) Here are some links to introduce a camp of thought that is never given a chance in the mainstream:

http://antipornfeminists.wordpress.com/2013/12/20/qotd-the-p...

http://sarahditum.com/2014/02/24/who-do-you-listen-to/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KbxBJf9UtWg

https://firewomon.wordpress.com/2013/12/08/is-choice-really-...

http://www.thepinkcross.org/pinkcross-articles/october-2011/...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9HvC_sEURXA

http://www.bad-housekeeping.com/2014/01/08/violence-teenager...

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/oct/24/pornogr...

http://uts.cc.utexas.edu/~rjensen/freelance/pornographyisale...

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/mar/05/convers...

If any of these links are broken, I suggest trying the WayBack Machine.


> I think the opinion is split on whether prostitution is inherently harmful -- that is, in a post-gender world where there is no trance of social definition of women as stores of resources to be extracted for pleasure and service, would prostitution still be socially harmful? -- but I don't think it matters for the questions at hand.

I think it does matter - in fact this seems to be exactly the pain-point in this whole thread, that everyone differs on that particular point. If it isn't inherently harmful (and again, I haven't thought about it enough to decide), then your line of argument seems to conflate feminist causes with sex workers', and we'd be trampling over a non-harmful industry just to further the cause of feminism [^].

On the other hand, if it is inherently harmful, there's no need to entangle the two either, and we should legislate against it regardless of whether it damages women as a class or not.

Thanks for all the links.

[^] edit: which may be a legitimate reason, of course. But it would avoid most of the discussion in this subthread.


There are the three general grouping points of views:

1. Prostitution industries are non-harmful

2. Prostitution industries are harmful to women no matter what the social context and always will be

3. The industies are harmful to women as a class today and throughout history, under the system called "gender", where men assign to women the role of stores of resources to extract, which has existed as long as civilizations have.

Many people are, genuinely or otherwise, treating the original commentor like he was asserting #2, when he was asserting some variant of #3, which does not logically have #2 built-in. You don't have to agree with the latter part of #3 to understand that it is not the same as #2, and we can start talking about 1 vs 3 without having to resolve 2 immediately.

I mean, we already know this, don't we? We can talk about how to deal with racist institutions without always falling back into questions of "what is race? in a post-racism world, would races exist?" Maybe the analogy isn't perfect...


Porn may be just as "socially harmful" to men than it is to women, or even more-so, but obviously in a vastly different manor. My first network connection as a kid was a 1200 baud modem and a BBS, and I know what "trouble" I got in back then. I have no idea how kids are supposed to deal with the ocean of content that is literally at their fingertips, the siren song and peer pressure around watching it, and the difficulty of processing those images and comprehending the acts at the ages they are exposed to them.

Forget the "birds and the bees" talk, now it's more like, "so I noticed the pornhub DNS queries coming from your tablet..."


Brothels are legal in Nevada, so you can get some there for cheap.And please , spare us the "I will legally be able to pay a professional for their company for a few hours", You just want to fuck, say it.

> I like to think that we have the right to be "loved" and cared for, even if fictitiously and for a very brief moment.

There is no "love" or "care" in prostitution, only sex for money.The only thing a prostitute loves is your money. But that's ok. Just don't romanticize it. It's creepy but I bet you like it that way.


"I will legally be able to pay a professional for their company for a few hours", You just want to fuck, say it.

In any human interaction, in many cultural contexts, it is very possible to be too businesslike and leave the other participants feeling awkward or even a bit abused. This is especially true in any service oriented businesses. Given the nature of the business of prostitution, I would expect this to be especially true there.

I would expect that intelligent and sensitive customers would be more sensitive in this way. I would also expect that the higher paid practitioners of the business would tend to have higher emotional intelligence, and would also be smart enough to arrange their lives to mostly deal with people they mostly like.

I would also posit, that in any situation where one is paying for someone's time, one should modify the expectation of "true friendship" in such a relationship to take the economic relationship into account.

But let's take your admonition and apply it to the cafe, and see what we get:

There is no "love" or "care" in the cafe, only coffee for money. The only thing a barista loves is your money. But that's ok. Just don't romanticize it.

Does that sound strange? Yes it does. There is a certain vehemence that just doesn't apply to coffee, but which does apply to sex. (1) That's kind of weird. Why is it ok to be warm, friendly, and chatty with your barista, but not with a prostitute? I should think it would be creepier to be absolutely mechanical about it.

It's creepy but I bet you like it that way.

Actually, this line sounds emotionally abusive and therefore creepy. Much creepier than anything in the gp comment.

(1 - Most of the time. There was this one time I asked for a decaf at Blue Bottle. Yeah I know, but I was already pretty wired.)


To be fair, a lot of marriages and exclusive relationships are also predominantly about the money, or the social status, or the social pressure, things that also have nothing to do with 'love,' yet they also get 'romanticized' as you say.

I'm not defending prostitution, I just think it's arrogant when people imply what a 'normal', or 'legitimate' relationship is.


Some related news:

In San Francisco, ESPLER (Erotic Service Provider Legal, Educational and Research, http://esplerp.org/, https://twitter.com/esplerp) filed suit yesterday against several Bay Area DAs and the California Attorney General, in an attempt to get the primary CA law against prostitution overturned on constutitional grounds. This is on a similar basis

Article about this on VICE: http://www.vice.com/read/a-new-lawsuit-aims-to-decriminalize... Another article: http://48hills.org/2015/03/03/lawsuit-seeks-to-throw-out-law... More details: https://twitter.com/EscortingAdvice/status/57316383250533171... Summary and full text of the brief: http://esplerp.org/here-is-the-brief/ Legal thoughts from the lead lawyer: https://twitter.com/GillSperlein/status/573268807629721600

If you support this effort, you can help fund the legal fees here: http://www.gofundme.com/liberateliberate

There's also a follow-up article from Reason that relates the shutdown of MyRedBook to the shutdown of Silk Road, and how both are a continuing war on citizen safety: Reason article: http://reason.com/blog/2015/03/03/governent-war-on-online-vi...

Finally, a related article from VICE on why there's no Uber for sex work. Essentially, at least in the US, decriminalization needs to happen first. VICE article: http://www.vice.com/read/why-theres-no-uber-for-sex-work-304...


The thing I don't get is why the owner of the company (after 10 years of being online and making $5M+) decided to remain a resident of the United States given their current legal atmosphere.

I get it... family, friends, etc... But he should have known that prosecution was coming, not that it was right or just, only because he was in the USA.


I'm confused. Why were they charged with money laundering? Was this some kind of technicality, or did they actually try to hide the money they made?


Racketeering and money laundering seems to be the Fed's catch-all charges for "Your users may have been committing crimes" - the money laundering might come when you take money from 'criminals', at a guess.

They have charged Kim Dotcom with the same offenses for running megaupload, and I think that they chucked in wire fraud as well.

It's worrying how vague these 'crimes' are, it tips the balance of power too far in the direction of the government agency.


Yeah, there's a reason 98% of cases never go to trial. Adding up all these kinds of charges allows the prosecutor to say "Hey, with these charges you could go to jail for 300 years. Or... you could just plead guilty to what we went after you for."

Doesn't matter if you're innocent or guilty. Game theory (born out by statistics) says you take the plea.

If they made me king tomorrow the first thing I would do is make plea bargains illegal.


Eric Omuro was charged but not convicted on 24 counts of money laundering. He eventually pleaded guilty to a single federal charge of "using a facility of interstate commerce with the intent to facilitate prostitution".

This looks to be a charge under the federal Mann act (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mann_Act), which criminalizes using a facility of interstate commerce (i.e. the internet) to promote any sexual activity for which any person can be charged with a criminal offense. That offense would be the CA law against prostitution 647(b) (http://law.onecle.com/california/penal/647.html)

The Mann act has an ugly history of being used to convict all sorts of consensual sexual activity. For example, black men with white girlfriends (against state laws criminalizing interracial sex), and even sex outside of marriage (against state laws criminalizing adultery and premarital sex).


If you take money for an illegal service, much less move it or do anything with it (spend it), they're going to get you on money laundering.


It's only laundering if you lie about where the money came from.


Price fixing is a good thing? "“Five or six years ago, a bunch of women on the site who did erotic massage got together and were like, ‘What if we all raise our rates by $20?’ And it totally worked. That can't happen now.”"


The very idea that collusion is always bad is a fallacy. Price fixing is a good thing when it obliterates exploitative wages, sure.

One man's "price fixing" is another man's "unionization", and this is more akin to the latter than the former, really. Aside from that, as there are indeed minimal barriers to entry in the market of erotic massage, and the legal headaches are generally equal to all participants, if the price got too high, it would be easy for upstarts to disrupt the market.


It's not collective bargaining if only one side is collective.


Half way reading through the headline I had the impression that this was about IBM RedBooks...


I was expecting this to be about CDDA, which would be more interesting.




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