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A.V. Flox
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Velocitus delectibus.
Velocitus delectibus.

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How dangerous women of medieval Florence became more independent than the “good” women of the city could be.

Excerpt: Medieval thinkers tended to follow St Augustine who described prostitution as a necessary evil, a sin which prevented the greater sin of the corruption of “good” women by men’s insatiable sexual appetites. A follower of St Thomas Aquinas likened prostitution to a palace sewer — necessary to remove the filth from society, but deeply unpleasant and offensive nonetheless. By the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, European cities had mostly stopped trying to expel prostitutes and accepted the inevitability of their presence.

The late medieval period proved to be something of a turning point in the Italian states’ approaches to prostitution and none more so than Florence. Pope Francis’s medieval predecessor, Pius II (1458-1464), joked that Florence was less a city of merchants (mercatrice) and more a city of prostitutes (meretrice). This small group of women (probably no more than 150 of them in a city of 45,000) circumvented the rules established to keep women in their place. They lived beyond the control of fathers, husbands, or brothers.

There were precious few opportunities for ‘good’ women to exercise any independence. The law treated them as children: they were prevented from managing their own financial affairs, taking legal action against anyone, and were only reluctantly accepted as witnesses in court. The law required that a male relative acted on a woman’s behalf if she needed to undertake any legal transactions. In theory, a married woman’s dowry remained her property, but in practice her husband controlled it. Indeed, were she widowed, her father or brothers expected it to be returned, either for their own use or to marry her off again to the family’s advantage. Restricting women’s legal rights to representation allowed the city to control their behaviour and limit their freedom. Good women were rarely seen — they did not walk about the streets or hang out of windows as portrayed on TV shows such as The Borgias and The Medici. Women who behaved in this way marked themselves out as wanton and dishonourable: dangerous.

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A new brothel has opened in Barcelona that offers men and couples the chance to fulfil all their fantasies – as long as their fantasies involve hyper-realistic silicone dolls.

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Which means that everyone is orgasming a lot right now.

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Excerpt: Clinics across Africa that provide women’s health and HIV services are bracing for a massive loss in funding due to Trump’s reinstatement of a version of the Mexico City policy, or global gag rule. The policy prevents organizations abroad funded by the United States from even mentioning abortion in the context of family planning — a rule with implications that reach far beyond abortion services. The policy is sure to impact the availability of family planning options in some of the world’s most vulnerable communities

The Mexico City policy has been in effect under every Republican administration since President Ronald Reagan announced it in 1984. And it has been revoked by every Democratic administration.

Research suggests that the policy has had a counterintuitive impact in the past. In countries that relied heavily on funding from the United States for reproductive health services, abortion rates rose when the Reagan-era policy was in place. Researchers cite a possible reason: The aid spigot dries up for the organizations that provide contraceptive services to prevent unwanted pregnancies, making abortions necessary.


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Excerpt: President Obama on Tuesday largely commuted the remaining prison sentence of Chelsea Manning, the army intelligence analyst convicted of an enormous 2010 leak that revealed American military and diplomatic activities across the world.

Commutation is a form of clemency that reduces the punishment for a crime. Unlike a pardon, which forgives a crime, commutation reduces a sentence, and in some cases, the associated fines.

Manning, who is transgender, is currently incarcerated at a men’s military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. She has been jailed for nearly seven years. Her 35-year sentence was by far the longest punishment ever imposed in the United States for a leak conviction. She will be released on May 17 of this year instead of 2045.

Five days before Obama commuted Manning’s sentence, the WikiLeaks Twitter account posted that the group’s editor-in-chief Julian Assange would agree to be extradited to the U.S. if Manning was given clemency.

“If Obama grants Manning clemency Assange will agree to US extradition despite clear unconstitutionality of DoJ case,” WikiLeaks tweeted on Thursday.

Assange has been in the Ecuadorean embassy in London since 2012, and if extradited to the U.S., would likely be prosecuted for his involvement in the publication of leaked documents. But then, his buddy will be in office, so unless the president-eject forgets he exists (possible) or decides to flip on this due to political expediency (also possible), Assange is unlikely to be in prison long.

Assange also faces allegations of rape and sexual assault in Sweden.

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Four days ago, the Women's March platform took the web by storm for being one of the most progressive and intersectional we've ever seen (https://plus.google.com/+AVFlox/posts/XdAiMgRGL1J). Unfortunately, they seem to be backtracking. Or are they? In the past 12 hours, their position language has been modified repeatedly, without any acknowledgment of the changes.

At the time, the document discussed labor rights, saying: "We believe that all workers – including domestic and farm workers -- must have the right to organize and fight for a living minimum wage, and that unions and other labor associations are critical to a healthy and thriving economy for all. Undocumented and migrant workers must be included in our labor protections, and we stand in solidarity with sex workers’ rights movements."

These are the changes that +Kitty Stryker​ has identified:

"We believe that all workers -- including domestic and farm workers -- must have the right to organize and fight for a living minimum wage, and that unions and other labor associations are critical to a healthy and thriving economy for all. Undocumented and migrant workers must be included in our labor protections, and

- "we stand in solidarity with those exploited for sex and labor."

- "we stand in solidarity with sex workers' rights movements."

- "we stand in solidarity with the sex workers' rights movement. We recognize that exploitation for sex and labor in all forms is a violation of human rights."

This momentary inclusion of sex work abolitionist language is troubling. Sex work abolitionism denies the relationship between economic necessity and sex work, preferring to see those who participate as victims of pimps and traffickers than to recognize the way that economic need factors into choosing sex work. Though often described as victims, sex workers are problematic to abolitionists, since "rescuing" them often does nothing to prevent their return to sex work. And so abolitionism is in fact not abolitionist at all, as those who see sex work as a social blight end up seeing prison as the only way to "liberate" sex workers. Let the Orwellian force of that hit you again: Raids are rescue. Prison is liberation.

This denial of the economic needs of people in the sex industry results disproportionally in women (especially women of color) and LGBTQ folks (who lack employment protections) being jailed and slapped with criminal records. Many receive felonies on their second offense in some jurisdictions. Many others, as a result of anti-trafficking hysteria, receive felonies right away -- for self-trafficking. You read that right. You can now traffic yourself.

If you are a feminist and you are not enraged at the idea of a woman being sent to prison for felony trafficking for trying to keep a roof over her head and food on her table by placing an ad on Backpage for herself, you're not a goddamn feminist.

Worse, these criminal records prevent sex workers' integration into the job market. You cannot even get a job in the gig economy with a prostitution conviction. And, by the way, even those whose charges are dismissed will still have arrest records preventing their employment. You have to pay up to have those expunged. Do you start to see how this traps people?

In addition to creating a hopeless cycle of recidivism, abolitionists vastly expand the types of interactions that vulnerable populations have with the state -- such as through coercive intervention courts and completely unregulated, often abusive diversion programs -- multiplying the likelihood of systemic violence they are likely to experience.

And I've lost count of how many stories I shared last year of law enforcement officers coercing sexual favors from sex workers with threats of arrest. I've even shared stories of sex workers who were minors at the time that they were coerced by officers, and whom officers knew at the time to be minors.

If you are a feminist and you don't support sex workers' rights, you're not a goddamn feminist. Supporting sex workers does not mean supporting trafficking. It doesn't mean you have to like that some people see sex as the most viable option for making a living. You can be angry as hell about the fact that people have no better options, even. This is fine.

But don't participate in this gaslighting. Capitalism is what's inherently coercive. Capitalism is the pimp and trafficker. The state is a source of violence and injustice. Raids are not rescue. Prison isn't liberation.

Fight for women. Fight for LGBTQ. Sex workers rights are human rights, are civil rights, are labor rights, are LGBTQ rights, are women's rights.

I look forward to seeing more transparency from Women's March organizers about this.

Edit: I've received more information about this. Journalist Melissa Gira Grant, Brooke Magnanti (author of Diary of a Call Girl), and others reached out to Janet Mock, who is listed as one of the organizers and pointed out the back-pedaling. Mock jumped in and fought to get the line she originally drafted (about standing in solidarity with sex workers) back into the document.

"It's staying," Mock said. "Sex work is work. We must be free to make choices about our bodies, our lives. We must respect one another's agency. Period."

See the thread: https://twitter.com/janetmock/status/821483904485965824
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End of an era.

Excerpt: Ten years after purchasing the historic Armory for $14.5 million, the BDSM film production company Kink.com is ending shoots at the site, and its in-house directors are scattering to Nevada, Southern California and elsewhere in the Bay Area. Filming officially ends in February, although Kink.com will continue to have administrative offices in the building at Mission and 14th streets.

The move is being driven by the weakening economics of the porn business as well as ambitions that Kink.com founder and CEO Peter Acworth has for the Armory, a 200,000-square-foot, Moorish Revival castle in San Francisco.

Over the last three years, as porn has migrated to free sites, membership-supported digital outlets like Kink.com have struggled to make up revenue. Kink.com’s membership has dropped from 50,000 to 30,000, and its revenues have dropped by 50 percent. The company laid off half its workforce a year ago and is now mostly focused on providing an Internet platform for BDSM entertainment, rather than creating content.

“Porn is not nearly as profitable as it was,” Acworth said. “We have had to change our business model.”

At the same time, owning the Armory, which had been vacant for 30 years prior to Kink.com’s acquisition, increasingly poses both opportunities and challenges. As the Kink.com business has eroded, Acworth has been refocusing on transforming the building into a mixed-use complex with space for offices, entertainment, artists and PDR, which stands for production, distribution, and repair.

To that end, Acworth last year won approvals to convert the building’s 40,000-square-foot drill court into a venue for concerts, parties and other entertainment, with a capacity of 4,000 people. Those approvals allowed Acworth to get a $4-million bank loan that is being spent on a sound system and soundproofing, lighting, rigging and pressing needs such as fixing the leaky roof and repairing crumbling turrets.

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A Connecticut politician was arrested on Wednesday after pinching a woman in the pussy. His attorney did not deny this occurred. Instead, he said: "[Christopher] Von Keyserling playfully gave a lady who he knew for 30 years a pinch is what the accusation is," Russell says. "And somehow, everybody’s wringing their hands and carrying on that this is a crime, and it just isn’t."

He insists the incident was a “misunderstanding,” as they do. That it was "a joke," as they do.

And we just elected a president who's done far worse.

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Flashback to the 1920s, my friends, a strange, strange time during which our species became extremely interested in our precious bodily fluids and began to wonder how we may tinker with them to bring back our youth.

Though testosterone would not be isolated until the '30s, by the 1920s, medicine was increasingly aware of the role played by glands in the body through the production of these aforementioned precious bodily fluids. A number of rudimentary experiments had determined that the testicles produced secretions that radically impacted male health and stamina in a variety of species. VERY EXCITING NEWS.

Though this field of medicine was still in its infancy, hundreds of men signed up to be seen by Dr. Serge Voronoff, who promised them newfound vigor through the transplant of testicular tissue. Human donors were, naturally, pretty hard to come by -- and there was some concern that using tissues from convicted criminals would "pollute" the bodies of upright citizens with their "inherent" criminality -- so the good doctor turned to other primates to meet demand.

Yes, in the 1920s, it was all the rage for well-to-do gentlemen to receive testicle transplants from chimps. 🙊🙊🙊

(I'm not making this up, the guy made a mint: https://plus.google.com/+AVFlox/posts/4K5ApSuYRhH)

And now, you too can have access to the fountain of youth and vigor for only $8,000! WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? Get yourself some of that young plasma! 😂😂😂


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Tangentially related to the last post, a guide for journalists about how to ethically report on issues relating to sex work and sex workers. This guide is brought to us by the Chicago-based coalition of sex workers and advocates Support Ho(s)e.
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