The author writes: "I’m concerned that we’re building this community — wonderful as it is — on the backs of women whom we then nakedly disclaim. I’m unsettled by the preponderance of pinup photographers who yearn for a time 'when sexy was classy,' of dancers who assure us that burlesque is 'an art form [ ... ] it’s not sleazy,' and of vintage enthusiasts who congratulate us on looking 'so cute, and not at all slutty' (as I’ve been told on more than one occasion). These types of statements are simultaneously whorephobic (rooted in a fear of and disdain for sex workers) and gratingly ahistorical. No, Bettie Page and co. weren’t 'classy' sex workers. They were sex workers, full stop. I’ve seen many a modern pinup reap the benefits of blushing 'tee-hee' sexuality without acknowledging its origins in the 'filthy whores' before her. [ ... ] Even the red lipstick endemic to today’s pinup girls was once the domain of the harlot.
It is interesting (and I'd never considered it before) that burlesque and vintage pin-up artists often don't.... I like how this article points that out, and points out how the scandals of the past have helped us have more freedom in the present.
For example, I thought nothing of volunteering to wear lingerie while running lights for a Rocky Horror cast.... I was positioned with the lights in an audience that was often drunk, rowdy, and horny, but we had good bouncers on crew so it felt safe. I never considered it sex work per se (I didn't get paid, for one) but felt that it supported the sexy ambience we were putting on, made it safer for our Trixie to come out and strip, for the other actors to dance in bustiers, etc. This change in attitudes, letting me be free to play around with these tropes without earning a scarlet letter or social exclusion, is exactly due to all the pinups and burlesque dancers who came before me, as well as all the workers in the present.
Here’s the recipe:
Take the caecum of the sheep; soak it first in water, turn it on both sides, then repeat the operation in a weak ley of soda, which must be changed every four or five hours for five or six successive times; then remove the mucus membrane with the nail; sulphur, wash in clean water, and then in soap and water; rinse, inflate, and dry.
Next cut it to the required length and attach a piece of ribbon to the open end. Used to prevent infection or pregnancy. The different qualities consist of extra pains being taken in the above process, and in polishing, scenting, &c.
Now, imagine a different thousand people. These people will drive from Detroit to Chicago tomorrow -- about 300 miles. How many will die on the trip as a result of a car crash?
In a new study led by Terri D. Conley of the University of Michigan, the average guess for the HIV case was a little over 71 people per thousand, while the average guess for the car-crash scenario was about 4 people per thousand. In other words, participants thought that you are roughly 17 times more likely to die from HIV contracted from a single unprotected sexual encounter than you are to die from a car crash on a 300-mile trip.
But here’s the deal: Those estimates aren’t just wrong, they’re completely backward. According to statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, you are actually 20 times more likely to die from the car trip than from HIV contracted during an act of unprotected sex.
To to get a sense of why people feel HIV is riskier than driving, researchers did a follow-up study. To test whether sex-related risks are more stigmatized than other types of risk, Conley and her colleagues controlled for some of the differences between the first two scenarios by making them both about sex.
They gave a collection of 12 vignettes to a large number of participants -- one vignette per person. All of the vignettes told the same basic story: Someone transmits a disease to someone else during a casual sexual encounter, without knowing that they had something to transmit. There were two diseases: either chlamydia, a common STI that rarely causes serious health problems (and that can be completely cured with a course of antibiotics), or H1N1 -- commonly known as the swine flu -- which can be seriously bad for your health or even kill you.
The main thing they manipulated between the different vignettes was the severity of the outcome caused by the disease. A "mild" outcome was described as getting sick enough to have to see the doctor, and then take a week's worth of medicine. A "moderate" outcome was the same, except that you had to go to the emergency room first. A "serious" outcome was getting hospitalized and nearly dying. And a "fatal" outcome was, well, dying.
The last two conditions only applied to H1N1, because chlamydia rarely gets that bad.
Once the participants read their vignette, they had to say what they thought about the person who transmitted the disease. The participants would rate the person on how risky and how selfish their behavior was, as well as how dirty, bad, and immoral, and dumb they were for doing what they did.
The results were surprising. Participants who read the story about someone unknowingly transmitting chlamydia -- with a "mild" outcome -- judged that person _more harshly_ than participants who read about the swine-flu case where the other person actually died!
If we had the technical ability to instantly and inexpensively give accurate HIV DNA tests and antibody tests before all sex
Then real serosorting could happen!
Now is this possible? i think it might be : a smartphone app, with a bio-chip.
Both partners could be tested at once and it could announce if Both people were undetectable
But once this technology was ubiquitous, criminalizing status would be rightly seen as irrelevant and harmful.
In this Washington Post's Fact Checker column, Glenn Kessler takes a hard look at the actual numbers, and discovers that most of those caught in these stings are actually consensual sex workers over the age of 18.
"In all, nearly 3,200 people, almost all adult sex workers, were arrested between 2008 and 2010 by local authorities as part of the effort to find 240 children involved in the commercial sex trade," Kessler writes.
He highlights the work of sex worker activists Emi Koyami and Tara Burns , as well as journalist , who have been working over the years to get better numbers on the efficacy of Operation Cross Country. Koyami and Nolan-Brown used press releases sent out by law enforcement agencies that cooperated with the FBI in the stings to track the number of minors and adults caught in these stings. Burns, meanwhile, is using Freedom of Information Act requests to compel law enforcement agencies across the nation to release the number of actual charges filed in conjunction with the operation. (You can help fund her research by donating to her Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/TaraBurns)
Getting a jurisdiction-by-jurisdiction breakdown of charges actually filed in Operation Cross Country matters, as initial stats reported by the FBI and law enforcement agencies tend to reflect bigger numbers of traffickers than are ever actually charged.
"After Operation Cross Country in 2014, the FBI announced three pimps had been arrested in Anchorage, but Tara Burns, a sex worker activist, filed a public records request and found no charges were ever filed," Kessler writes. "In Virginia Beach this year, the FBI initially announced 10 pimps had been arrested, but the Virginian-Pilot later reported that two people had been released after determining they were not involved in prostitution -- and two more of the alleged pimps were juveniles themselves." (Federally, minors cannot be charged with trafficking, though individual jurisdictions routinely charge minors as adults under local pimping, pandering and trafficking statutes.)
Kessler concluded that least "6,000 consensual adult sex workers -- and probably far more -- have been rounded up as part of an effort that found about 738 children engaged in the sex trade. That’s an 8:1 ratio."
The FBI declined to reveal the cost of this annual operation. In 2015, $44 million was made available in the form of grants for organizations fighting trafficking.
In talking to these ER doctors, Harvey Wingfield found that this behavior had a particularly harmful effect on a certain group among workers: black men. Most of the black male doctors she interviewed for my research were the only black men in their work environments. They felt sensitive to that fact, and said they moderated their behavior when innuendo entered the conversation. The reason that black men can feel extremely uncomfortable in these scenarios has a lot to do with the history of their being represented in American culture as sexual threats to white women. Thus, it isn't surprising that none of the white male doctors I spoke to for my study identified the sexual banter in emergency rooms as problematic in quite the same way.
After slavery was abolished, white people used songs, illustrations, and stories to cast black men as threatening brutes consumed by sexual desire who were dangerous to white women. The stereotypes promoted in the 1915 film Birth of a Nation are probably the most well-known -- but far from the only -- example of this. (Such images were actually not very common during the antebellum era, when the prevailing stereotype about black men was that they were subhuman, docile, and contented by the order and guidance slavery provided.) White women were often represented as pure and virginal, and black women as sexually voracious. Each of these stereotypes was built in juxtaposition to the ‘norm’ of white male heterosexuality. Black people, especially men, have throughout American history been typecast as dangerously hypersexual.
The consequences of these cultural myths were all too real. As far back as the mid 1800s, the journalist Ida B. Wells noted that even the intimation of sexual intimacy between black men and white women could -- and often did -- result in the former being lynched, even when such relationships were consensual. Regardless of people’s familiarity today with these specifics, this past inevitably shapes racial dynamics today. Going back to the ER, consider how those black male doctors must feel when white coworkers joke about sex. Responding to these interactions tactfully can be essential for black men to navigate their work environment, and the black male doctors I spoke to described feelings of deep discomfort and awkwardness.
While expertly interlacing research and statistics with the true stories of sex workers in America, Getting Screwed wakes us all to an obscure truth: Most (but distinctly, not all) sex workers join the trade by choice, largely for economic reasons, and the criminalization of sex work endangers the highly stigmatized community.
Prior to investigating and writing Getting Screwed, Bass too, says she believed the common misconception. Between Bass’s conversations with the women and her independent research, she soon found that “laws criminalizing prostitution actually encourage violence against all women and make it more difficult for sex workers to protect themselves both from physical harm and also from sexually transmitted diseases, like HIV.”
Getting Screwed provides numerous examples, including how laws establishing used condoms as evidence prevents workers, mostly streetwalkers, from negotiating safe sex. Furthermore, sex workers fear reporting violent clients and predators to the police could consequently result in their own incarcerations.
The criminalization debate, according to Bass, relates to America’s common perception of who becomes a sex worker. “There’s a real misconception that most sex workers are forced into the trade, and they’re not doing it by choice,” Bass stated, “and that’s spread by anti-trafficking groups. They conflate prostitution with trafficking. As a result, the statistics on trafficking have been grossly, grossly inflated and are inaccurate."
In particular, Bass pointed to a July 2006 United States Government Accountability Office report that challenged the accuracy of global human trafficking estimates and further stated that the United States needs to more effectively enhance how it tracks this data.
Arresting women and men who do sex work out of financial need further marginalizes them, the book asserts. Additionally, Bass argued, arresting teenage runaways, who sometimes turn to the trade for money, disadvantages them.
“What these youth need are not getting arrested and re-traumatized by the criminal justice system,” she said. “What they need are social services. They need housing, education, support, counseling. That’s where the money should be going. That’s how you eradicate this problem. You give them these supports so that they can choose to get off the street.”
For another quite different horror story about misguided and harmful legislation, however, see my own country (Sweden). Here, the authorities can pretend to care about "prostitutes", by the allegedly "radical" idea of criminalizing the buyers, but not sex workers, through the 1999 Sex Purchase Act. They call it "the Swedish model". However, it doesn't really work very well, and actually harms the sex workers even more, for several reasons:
1) The whole legal framework for "prostitution" in Sweden is based on morality (right versus wrong), and radical feminist theory. (No politicians here care at all about harm reduction.) All "prostitution" is defined as men's violence against women (disregarding the very existence of male sex workers), and it is also frequently conflated with both rape, trafficking, and slavery. They actually call all prostitution "buying female bodies" or "buying women" in the public debate.
2) Because buying sex is illegal, two bad things occured. Firstly, most of the trade moved off the streets and indoors, onto the Internet. This was reported as a success by politicians, since they claimed prostitution had decreased. In reality, since everything now happens in the shadows, as far from the authorities as possible, nobody knows anything anymore. Secondly, conditions are probably far worse for the most vulnerable and powerless sex workers now, since no potential customers will report actual trafficking to the police — anyone who tells the police about sex workers being mistreated, will receive criminal charges for attempted sex purchase as a thank-you.
3) Even though selling sexual services is supposed to be legal, any money earned through sex work becomes tainted because of different Swedish laws against procuring (pimping). If a landlord learns that any rental money comes from sex work, they must immediately evict the tenant, or risk criminal charges for pimping. Spouses, cohabitants, or other sex workers sharing the same apartment, are all considered criminals under this law if they are associated with the tainted money in any way.
4) Sex workers risk losing custody of their children if the authorities learn about what they're doing, since they are highly stigmatized, and considered unfit to be parents. Also the tax office can charge them with tax evasion, even though it's not possible to legally pay taxes for income from sex work. Kafka, anyone?
All together, sex workers are punished, isolated, stigmatized, forced to work under increasingly unsafe conditions, and forced to hide from police and social services. They cannot safely rent apartments, work together, marry, have children, or ask the authorities for help. This is allegedly done in their best interest, because they don't know what's good for them, "buying sex is wrong", and trafficking is lower in Sweden.
The Swedish Justice Department has made only one evaluation of the Sex Purchase Act. The single person in charge of the evaluation was specifically instructed that the report "must not question the Act, or suggest any changes". The final report therefore stated that the Act worked well, and it suggested no changes. The person in charge of the report (Anna Skarhed) was then immediately offered a permanent position at the Justice Department, as the new Justice Chancellor.
And our politicians are still proud of their perfect, feminist legislation, which only "punishes the buyers" and "works against trafficking".
Here's a relatively neutral article about the whole thing:
And here's a more recent story, after Amnesty International caused a stir by claiming that the facts say the Swedish Model doesn't work:
I'm AV -- that's pronounced like the letters A and V. Most people call me that, but a few prefer the less familiar Flox, which is pronounced like you would if you were talking about various flocks of birds (see? it only looks complicated). You may call me either of these things.
I'm a writer. I mostly blog at +Slantist. I've written for a variety of publications, including the Village Voice, LA Weekly, Los Angeles Times, Gizmodo, and Vice. My main focus is sex -- the norms around it, the organs we use, the health issues that affect it or are a consequence of it, the way governments and private companies want to control it and the way we express ourselves around it, the markets that exist to cater to it and the labor issues within them, and so on. Sex touches everything. You would be amazed how many incredible disciplines I get to explore writing about sex. Not too long ago, I was buried under a stack of papers about 16S rRNA and metagenomic sequencing! (Why? Because vagina. You can read the piece on Vice.).
Besides writing, I have edited blogs about relationships and science for the Village Voice and BlogHer.com, a women's network that was reaching 90 million monthly visitors by the time it was acquired by SheKnows Media last year for a reported $35 million -- more than AOL paid for TechCrunch just four years prior.
My content here on Plus will reflect my beat, but please note that in general, my posts and shares involve more analysis than titillation. I have analytics, I can see how many of you browse on the clock! No judgment -- I'm honored, actually. But because of this, as a rule, I do not publish images or articles that contain preview images that are not "safe for work" (that is, anything that may make a colleague feel unsafe in their workplace) and I strive to let you know when a link I have shared contains this type of imagery so you don't click it without knowledge.
I am not opposed to pornography, but I do believe in consent -- I do not want to expose anyone to visually sexual content unless they explicitly opt-in to see it. So if sexy imagery is the sort of thing you're looking for, you won't find it here. However, feel free to visit my NSFW love letter to desire on Tumblr. It is overflowing with various degrees of graphic depictions of cisgender, heterosexual sex that I find pleasing. (If cis/het isn't you, try a Tumblr-wide search for a keyword that better speaks to you. Some of the best gay yiff I've ever seen is on Tumblr. And if you do not know what that is, don't look it up at work!)
I also issue trigger warnings and spoiler alerts.
A lot of people follow me as a resource on issues of sexuality, so I try to keep my social media channels focused, but people are multidimensional and I am no different. Google Plus is where I am most focused. If you want a slightly more varied feed with more snippets from my life, you can follow me on Facebook and Twitter.
My Instagram has first publishing rights to much of my life's imagery, so if you like pix, I strongly recommend you find me there. (My Instagram account does not disseminate sexual imagery, but I do post images from events I attend and sometimes these events are adult industry conferences. Don't follow me just for that, though -- I am not all work and no play, so, yeah, you may get to see awesome candids of porn stars, but you'll also have to suffer through, like, a million videos and pictures of an octopus trying to make an escape from its tank at the California Academy of Sciences, or the bacula collection at Natural History Museum of Los Angeles. You've been warned.)
Pinterest is where I put cool stuff that I find online. The first four boards are dedicated to cool products -- and, yes, one of them is devoted entirely to sex products. Go take a look and see if there is anything worth following. (I also have a community here on Plus called The Desire that I hope to develop into a destination that combines relationship resources and awesome products. If you are interested in that, go ahead and request to join.)
I maintain a complete list of my profiles across the social networks I use on About.Me. If you need to reach me, though, your best bet is to mention @avflox on Twitter. I only receive messages from people in my extended circles here and on most other social platforms, so I may not even see that you tried to reach me if you private message me. On Twitter, though, I see everything -- and it's more reliable than taking your chances with an e-mail web form. But if you don't tweet or you want to stay on the DL, you'll probably want to take your chances with that web form or the e-mailing option on About.Me (you don't need to create an account to use it).
I never thought I'd have to mention this, but seeing how many users on this network believe the existence of my profile indicates my sexual availability, allow me to clarify: I am not here to sexy chat with you. I don't usually flirt, even with people I like. I consider joking around an intimate thing so unless we have interacted a few times, I may not respond to your joke. Or at least, I may not respond well. I hate compliments. I reserve the right to delete comments that veer off topic or otherwise blemish my stream. Repeat offenders are blocked and immediately forgotten.
Regarding the many nude photos of me that exist and are said to cause so much "confusion" -- I took them, had them taken, sent them to someone, or posted them myself for my jollies. Personally I think that they represent a woman who is comfortable in her skin, in touch with her body, unashamed of her femaleness, and unwilling to censor it. I am flattered if you have derived some pleasure from their existence, but please note that their existence has nothing to do with you. I did not take them for you. I did not post them for you. I probably don't even know you! They're not for you even if I do know you! (Except you, Grandma, because you made me read Simone de Beauvoir when I was, like, seven and I owe you everything.)
So please -- do not wander onto my spaces online and expect that behaving in an overly familiar fashion is going to endear you to me. We do not have a deep meaningful connection because you saw me naked. Everyone has seen me naked. You are a unique snowflake, but it is not for this reason.
Nothing I wear or don't wear is license for anyone to treat me like I am a thing that exists solely for their personal entertainment. I am a living organism -- I exist for myself. Just like you. And like you, when I post about something, I want people to comment on that something, not wax poetic about what they want from me.
I mean, look, I get it. We all have urges. I understand this. I too have seen a picture and thought, "OMGWOULDBANG!!!1!" You are not damaged or monstrous for this. What I am saying is that writing this out as a comment on a person's social stream is not a successful strategy, and doing it when that's not even the topic is outright maladaptive. As someone who writes about getting laid, I feel I am uniquely positioned to speak on this topic, so you should at least consider it.
Anyway, if for some incomprehensible reason you should wish to seduce me: go for my brain. Flattery is boring. Negs are like little gnats. The biggest compliment you could pay me, the most disarming level attention you could bestow upon me, requires that you only take the time to read something I've posted and have a brilliant conversation about it.
You don't need to be witty or "alpha" or otherwise a perfect specimen of the gender you identify with. You just need to share your views and tell your stories. Treat me like a human and show me your human. Hottest thing ever.
- BlogHerSection Editor, 2011 - 2012
- Village Voice MediaWeb Editor, 2010 - 2011
- BlogHerContributing Editor, 2008 - present