Saturday, March 18, 2017

Prostitution: The Oldest Profession, or The Oldest Oppression?

Short answer:  perhaps a bit of both, as there is a great deal of nuance to the issue of sex work.

Last year, I wrote an article for this blog titled "What the 'Nordic Model' Gets Wrong", basically arguing against the model and maintaining that sex work in general should be fully decriminalized or legalized, at least as long as Women are the ones who control it.  This is still what I generally prefer.  However, after doing some more research on this highly fraught and complex issue since then, however, I now realize that I may have been a bit too harsh on the Nordic Model and those who support it, even though I still don't entirely favor it overall.

For those who don't know, the Nordic Model (also known as the Sex Buyer Law) refers to the policy currently in Sweden, Norway, and Iceland (and now Canada, France, South Korea, Northern Ireland, and Ireland as well) of 1) decriminalizing the sex workers themselves, while 2) criminalizing the buyers (i.e. the "johns" or "punters"), and 3) providing support and exit services for those currently in prostitution.  This is also combined with effective laws against pimping and trafficking as well.  In contrast, full criminalization (such as in the USA, except Nevada) criminalizes both buyers and sellers of sex, full decriminalization (such as in Denmark, New Zealand and parts of Australia) removes all laws prohibiting both buyers and sellers of sex, as well as pimps and brothel owners in some places, but does not regulate such activities, and legalization (such as the Netherlands, Germany, and parts of the state of Nevada) where the state completely legalizes and regulates the entire business of prostitution.  Still other countries have it where which prostitution is "quasi-legal" or decriminalized to one degree or another.  Examples include the UK and several European nations, as well as the aforementioned ones before they changed their laws in 1999-2003.

On the supporters' side, there is a very good website called "Nordic Model Now!" that explains the benefits of the model in contrast to the other models, and much of what they say seems to be very true overall, even if I don't necessarily agree 100%.   They have a good slideshow and handout that explains their overall position very well and contrasts it with the other models mentioned above, which I recommend reading.  Also of note is one of the pages on their site (trigger warning!) full of actual quotes from "punters" ("johns") on the site Punternet detailing how they really feel about (and treat) the Women that they buy (spoiler alert, it isn't good), and it becomes clear that 99% of these guys give the other 1% a bad name.  After all, the genesis of the Nordic Model is the idea that prostitution is inherently violent and exploitative, and that the sex workers are in fact victims of both the pimps and the "johns".  The sex trade, whether legal or illegal, clearly has a dark side as long as men are in charge, and the distinction between "forced" and "unforced" is not always as clear-cut as it may seem.

So what are the practical results of each of the models under discussion here?  While I have noted that the Nordic Model does have its downsides and that its success has been called into question, there is some evidence suggesting that 1) In Sweden, the prostitution market dropped by roughly half since 1999 when the model was first implemented, and that human trafficking decreased there as well, at a time when both seemed to be increasing in other European countries, and 2) In the Netherlands and Germany, both the legal and illegal prostitution markets increased significantly in the years following full legalization in 2000 and 2002, and it appears that human trafficking also increased there as well.  The reason is simple--under the Nordic Model, demand goes down, while under the Dutch/German Model, demand goes up, and the market adjusts to meet the demand.  Evidently, while men's demand for sex in general is typically quite inelastic, it appears that their demand for commercialized sex is far more elastic, at least for a significantly large subset that seems to be driving the market.  Based on the page of quotes from "johns", it seems that this subset consists of mainly narcissists who are buying sex in order to feed their own egos.  And when it becomes too costly or risky for them to do so, they simply don't do it anymore, or as much.  Even if some of the market remains relatively insensitive to price and risk, that seems to be true for a fairly large chunk of it.

What about full decriminalization, then?  That is the model that groups like Amnesty International currently endorse, and its currently in effect in Denmark, New Zealand, and parts of Australia.  Though the data are a bit less clear, it seems that the effects are similar to those of full legalization, though in some ways marginally better as regulation can indeed backfire on the sex workers.   Note again that full decriminalization also often decriminalizes the pimps and brothel owners too, so that might have something to do with its effects as well.

Interestingly, a natural experiment in (partial) decriminalization was in fact conducted by accident in the state of Rhode Island from 2003-2009, when the courts discovered a big loophole in the law that had been in place since 1980.  Apparently, there was no law on the books that specifically prohibited the act of prostitution itself, as that law was inadvertently deleted in 1980.  Thus, indoor prostitution was effectively decriminalized for both the buyers and sellers from 2003 until 2009 when a new law was passed to close that loophole and re-criminalize both.  So what were the results of that natural experiment?  While the indoor prostitution market appears to have increased somewhat, most notably the rates of both rape and sexually transmitted diseases went down in Rhode Island during that time.  There was a 39% drop in gonorrhea rates and a 31% drop in the number of rapes reported to the police, which is a fairly large effect size.  As for trafficking, there was not enough data for the study to determine what effect, if any, the policy change actually had.  Overall, though, the Rhode Island model seems to have been an improvement over the status quo ante of full criminalization even if it wasn't perfect.

True, the sex industry is notorious for great evils, especially human trafficking.  No argument from me there.  But we need to get to the root causes of such evils--and those root causes are (surprise, surprise) capitalism and patriarchy.  From the desperation that Women and children are driven to as a result of such systems, to the fact that men dominate the industry (and world), these are the real issues, and the evils of the industry are simply symptoms of such wholesale and systemic evil.

In light of the above facts, I still prefer at least partial, if not full decriminalization as the least worst choice.  Ideally, the sex trade should be controlled entirely by Women, not men.  And what prevailed in Rhode Island from 2003-2009 indeed points us in that general direction.  However, at the same time I no longer oppose the Nordic Model being implemented in the USA either, as it is still a step up from the status quo--even if I don't agree with it entirely.  It seems any model is better than the status quo.

But back to the question in the title of this article:  the real question is, who has the power?  When men are in charge, the results can indeed be disastrous for Women.  But when Women are in charge, sex work can be a very good thing indeed. The patriarchy has always had a love-hate relationship with sex work due to its dual nature.  They want to use the sex trade to use, abuse, and control Women, but also fear the power that Women can gain from it too.

Regardless, there is ultimately only one solution, short of Women taking over--society must welcome sex workers of all varieties back into the fold unconditionally, and refrain from mistreating them in any way.  If you can't be nice to them, then leave them alone.  And it should go without saying that we must concretely address the adverse social and economic conditions that drive far too many into "the life" out of sheer desperation.  Anything less would be uncivilized.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Happy International Women's Day!

Today is International Women's Day, a day to honor and celebrate the better half of humanity.  Celebrated on March 8 every year since 1909, this year it takes on even greater significance than in the past given the "Day Without A Woman" and the International Women's Strike taking place today, in which many participating Women refuse to do any paid OR unpaid work today.  Unfortunately not every Woman is privileged enough to be able to do this, and this fact has led to some criticism but those who cannot will likely do other actions (wearing red, avoiding shopping except at small, Women-owned and minority-owned businesses, etc.) instead in a show of solidarity.  The more Women that participate in one way or another, the more likely it will be to effect lasting social change overall.  To paraphrase Voltaire, if we make the perfect the enemy of the good, we ultimately end up with neither.

Part of the impetus for such an action this year come from the unfortunate result of 2016 election, and the misogynist-in-chief who is now in charge.  But Women's grievances under patriarchy have clearly been simmering for a long time before that as well.  Both today's actions as well as the successful Women's Marches on the day after the can be considered watershed moments for the recently-revived feminist movement.

It is also worth noting that the nascent movement for a Universal Basic Income Guarantee is a textbook example of a serious feminist issue as well, not least of which because, as Judith Schulevitz notes, it's "payback time for Women" given their long history of underpaid and unpaid work that continues to this day.  A UBI would also effectively make women less economically dependent on men, reducing the chances for abuse of all kinds.  And aside from general concern for social justice, a UBI also a way to defuse the ticking time bomb known as men, who are becoming increasingly redundant as time goes on.  Men are most dangerous when either 1) they have too much power relative to Women, and/or 2) they are desperate for money.  A UBI would go a long way to solving all of these problems.


Sunday, January 29, 2017

Would a Sex Strike Actually Work? (Post-2016 Edition)

What do Liberia, South Sudan, Kenya, Colombia, the Philippines, and Ancient Greece have in common?  All of these societies contain at least one example in their history of Women going on sex strike (i.e. withholding sex from men until their collective demands are met) and typically achieving success as a result, often in a matter of weeks or less.   These actions were generally done to bring an end to otherwise intractable and prolonged wars and violence, most notably the Peloponnesian War in Ancient Greece as noted in the famous play Lysistrata.  In Liberia, a modern-day example, it brought an end to their country's 14-year long civil war and ushered in their first female president, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

But what about the longest war in history, i.e. the War on Women?  Also known as "patriarchy" to make it sound nicer, this system is currently self-destructing as we speak, but can its demise be accelerated with a sex strike perhaps?  Would Women be able to take over the world more quickly and readily that way?   Pat Ravasio of Buckyworld seems to think so.  While I have long been rather skeptical of the idea myself, after suspending my disbelief I began to realize that this probably would have a chance at working wonders.  As the aformentioned historical examples have shown, men's demand for sex appears to be relatively "inelastic", that is, even a large increase in the "cost" of sex (which by definition would rise significantly during a massive shortage such as a sex strike) would not affect demand very much, at least in the short run.  While men don't have a higher sex drive than Women (if anything, Women have a higher sex drive), for men there is a much greater sense of urgency thanks to all of that testosterone, and thus men will typically "cave" first.  Thus, men would do whatever it takes to end the shortage/strike and regain easier access, including cleaning up their act and meeting the demands of the Women on strike.  (Women often forget just how much power they really have!)  And while the grand scale of the task of ending patriarchy may be more daunting than the historical examples of using sex strikes to end local conflicts, at this point in history it certainly appears to be worth the old college try.  Even with less than 100% participation, if enough Women go on strike (especially the wives of powerful men in high places), the effects would nonetheless be huge.

So the answer to the question is most likely yes.  That said, it usually takes an enormous amount of provocation to get a critical mass of Women on board for something like that, since Women clearly have needs as well.  But given how so many men are lashing out these days as the patriarchy is now in its death throes, it probably won't take all that much more provocation to end up crossing that critical threshold.  Especially now that "President" Trump (!) has actually become a reality.  Thus, I would not be shocked if The Big One happens within a few years.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Women's March Was A YUUGE Success!

The Women's March on Washington, along with it's sister marches all over the globe, was more successful than anyone could have imagined.  It broke all records as the largest protest march in all of history, with at least half a million in DC alone and nearly 3 million nationwide.  Some estimates are even higher than that.  And it took place on all seven continents around the world, including Antarctica of all places.  Yes, really. And it was a highly diverse crowd of mostly Women (and male allies).

The peaceful protest march, which took place the day after the innauseation--er, inauguration--of Donald Trump, also boasts another great statistic:  ZERO ARRESTS.  Of course, the vast majority of participants were Women.  Contrast that to the over 200 arrests the previous day, nearly all of whom were men.   Even though the protests during the inauguration were mostly peaceful, that really says something.  And I am not surprised, as Women are far less likely to commit acts of violence, vandalism, or rioting than men, especially political violence.

Of course, going forward, much more needs to be done as well.  A day or two of protesting, while good, is clearly far from enough. Women, along with their male allies, need to continue to resist Der Trumpenfuehrer and his racist, misogynistic, xenophopbic, homophobic, plutocratic, right-wing authoritarian agenda.  Sustained protests and direct action by Women did work to remove the corrupt Silvio Berlusconi from power in Italy, after all.  This particular march may have ended, but now is NOT the time to abandon our efforts!  Failure is simply not an option anymore considering what is at stake these days.


Sunday, January 1, 2017

Will The Coming Crash of 2017 (or 2018) Accelerate the Transition to Matriarchy?

Last year, I posted an article on the True Spirit of America Party blog titled, "Is the Crash of 2016 Upon Us?", as well as an article on this blog titled, "Will the Coming Crash of 2016 Accelerate the Transition to Matriarchy?".  In the first, I outlined the various reasons why I predict that author Thom Hartmann was probably right in that there will be another financial crisis and stock market crash in 2016, perhaps even one that that will make 2008 and even 1929 look like a walk in the park.  Looks like that didn't materialize in 2016, as that year is now in the rearview mirror, but can still happen in 2017 or 2018 at the latest.  Yes I know, I could in fact be wrong.  But recent events are making it look increasingly likely every day.

So what does that have to do with Matriarchy and the inevitable transition in that direction?  Turns out, a lot in fact.  Basically, in order for Women to finally reclaim their rightful position as the new leaders of the free world, men need to surrender to them.  And most men will not surrender until they truly hit rock bottom.  It's just our nature that way.   Of course, even with the most cursory look at the statistics (and an open mind), we can all see the writing on the wall.  Women are rising, while men are falling.  In fact, Women have already crossed the Rubicon in terms of education and are well on their way to becoming the richer gender, meanwhile us fellas are falling away and falling apart.  We are being gradually replaced by both Women (for higher-skilled jobs) as well as robots/machines/AI (for less-skilled jobs), our wages have been falling, our once-great labor unions have been busted by the powerful men at the top who threw the bottom 80-90% of us under the bus, and we are thus are becoming increasingly redundant.  And the past two recessions, especially 2008-2009, have basically been dubbed "mancessions", in which men got hit significantly harder than women in terms of un(der)employment (excluding of course the "austerity" government budget cuts that happened in 2010-2013, that hurt Women more than men).  We must note, and it bears repeating, that this is NOT the fault of Women, but rather the result of our very own karma.

Thus, if the next crash is like 2008 or worse, I predict that men will likely be collectively hit so hard that they will never fully recover.   We still haven't fully recovered from the last one, so this time would likely be the ultimate death blow for us.  Sooner or later, it is only a matter of time before men will literally be begging women for a bailout.  And when that happens, Women would then be in the power position.  Not right away, but we can see how this could accelerate the transition.

Donald Trump will unfortunately be the new POTUS as of January 20, 2017, as he "won" the 2016 election against Hillary Clinton despite losing the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes.  That will likely set the Women's movement back quite a bit, at least in theory.  But remember that Janet Yellen is still Chairperson of the FERAL Reserve, and her term does not expire until early 2018, so she has another full year to go.  And she is (arguably) the real most powerful person in the world, and has a LOT of economic leverage.  So Der Trumpenfuehrer better not make her mad, lest Yellen end up doing what Paul Volcker did in the early 1980s.  If she really wanted to, she could single-handedly crash the economy by jacking up interest rates to high levels, choking off the money supply and thus throttling the (very bubble-laden) economy until it goes limp.  Talk about Girl Power!

So fellas, it is time to do some serious soul-searching.  If you have not yet renounced the demonic patriarchy in all of its forms, now is the time to do it.  God willing, we will soon need Women to rescue us.  Because let's face it, we have dug our own graves and will be in over our heads in no time.  It will happen sooner than you think.  And when Women finally do take over, they will remember exactly how they were treated, so it really behooves us fellas to clean up our act yesterday.  

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Why We Need A Universal Basic Income Yesterday

I have repeated noted before why any serious proposal for a pragmatic utopia would require some sort of unconditional Universal Basic Income (UBI) Guarantee for all.  At least as long as we still have a monetary system, of course, and it will be quite some time before money can be phased out completely.  To wit:

  1. First and foremost, "It's payback time for Women".  Recently, a Woman named Judith Shulevitz wrote an op-ed titled thusly, arguing in favor of a Universal Basic Income Guarantee for all.  Her feminist argument for a UBI, which I agree 100% with, was that such a thing would provide long-overdue compensation for Women's unpaid work (i.e. housework and caregiving) that society currently takes for granted and considers a "free resource" for the taking.   As the saying goes, there are two kinds of work that Women do:  underpaid, and unpaid.  While that is true for some men as well, it is overwhelmingly true for Women.  Thus, her argument makes a great deal of sense overall, and I agree.  It is indeed LONG overdue.
  2. Men are becoming increasingly redundant in the long run due to technology, globalization, and the overall ascendancy of Women.  When men are no longer artificially propped up, they will fall--and the bigger they are, the harder they fall.  And this will only increase in the near future.  This is a potential ticking time-bomb that must be defused sooner rather than later.  Men become extremely dangerous creatures under either of two conditions:  1) when they have too much power relative to Women, and/or 2) when they are desperate for money.  Ever see the 1996 film Fargo? Indeed, a Universal Basic Income is one of the best ways to tackle the second one.
  3. A UBI is far more efficient in theory and practice than much of what currently passes for a social safety net these days, and would have far less bureaucracy.  No means tests, no discrimination, no playing God.  It's simply a basic human right, period.  And it would be far less costly in the long run.
  4. As Buckminster Fuller famously noted, there are more than enough resources for everyone to live like a millionaire with today's technology.  And he said this back in the 1970s, mind you.  And the specious notion that everybody and their mother must "work for a living" is not only outdated, but is also seriously classist, ableist, and ageist, and by extension indirectly sexist and racist as well.
  5. Poverty is a razor-sharp, double-edged sword, spiritually speaking. Being attached to riches is clearly counter to spirituality, but then again, so is being attached to poverty. Either way, it's the *attachment* that is the problem.  And poverty today is largely if not entirely man-made via artificial scarcity.
  6. We would all be better off on balance, spiritually and otherwise, if material poverty were eradicated--and a UBI is the most efficient way to do so. As William Bond (and others) noted, with today's technology that is certainly doable, but for the greed of the oligarchs at the top who control the system. And that in turn is a result of patriarchy, given how men tend to see war and scarcity as inevitable, so they create a self-fulfilling prophecy as a result.
  7. With an unconditional UBI instead of means testing or other conditions, gone will be the perverse incentives that exist under the current system that trap too many people in poverty today.
  8. Negative liberty and positive liberty are NOT opposites, but rather two sides of the same coin.  Indeed, one cannot be truly free if one is systematically denied the basic necessities of life.  And truly no one is free when others are oppressed in any way.
  9. Inequality, at least when it is as extreme as it is today, is profoundly toxic to society and makes the looming problems/crises of climate change and ecological overshoot that much more difficult to solve.  This is over and above the effects of poverty alone.  And a UBI can dramatically reduce both socio-economic inequality as well as absolute material poverty.  (And when funded by an Alaska-style tax on fossil fuels, it can also double as a Steve Stoft or James Hansen-style carbon tax-and-dividend as well.)
  10. We consume and waste a ludicrous amount of (mostly fossil-fuel) energy in the so-called "developed" world, and much of that wasteful consumption can be curtailed simply by making it so no one has to "work for a living" unless one really wants to.  Just think of all the energy spent (and commuting to and from) unnecessary work at a job you hate, to buy stuff you don't need, to impress people you don't even like.  A UBI could thus greatly reduce our carbon and overall ecological footprint in the long run.
  11. And finally, one should keep in mind that, as Carol Brouillet has noted, the literal and original meaning of the word "community" is "free sharing of gifts".  What we currently have now under patriarchy/kyriarchy is more of a pseudo-community in that regard.   And that needs to change. Yesterday.
In other words, it would be a win-win-win situation for literally everyone but the 0.01% oligarchs at the top.  So why aren't we doing this yesterday?  Because that would make far too much sense.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

An Open Letter to Women in Politics (Post-2016)

(Updated for Post-2016 America)

To any Women who are running for office, in office, or considering running for office in the near future:

You have probably noticed that the world is on fire, and has been for quite some time now.   We stand on the verge of World War III as we speak, and our overburdened planet is in grave danger.  We continue to flirt with the prospect of mass extinction (including humans, by the way) in the not-too-distant future, as we continue to cook the planet with reckless abandon.  We know what is causing all of these problems, and we already have the technology and wherewithal to solve them if we really wanted to, yet our current Big Wetiko "leaders" refuse to solve such problems because they are sycophantic lackeys to the parasitic elites, if not the very same elites themselves.  And these plutocrats are hopelesly addicted to "business as usual".

So how did we get here in the first place, exactly?  The answer lies in ancient history, about 7000 years ago or so, when men apparently got the bright idea to take over the (known) world piece by piece, by deposing you from power.  That's right, it was originally Women who were in charge for most of humanity's existence, and us fellas apparently thought we could do a better job as leaders than you ladies did.  Well, history shows us that we were wrong--dead wrong in fact.  Indeed, the best advice that us men can give to Women is "don't be like us", because we f**ked the world up royally. We paved paradise and put up a parking lot, we created a desert and called it "peace".  We have devoured and suffocated our own empire, and now we are all paying a heavy price for it.  That's right--WE did it.  And we're sorry about that--though we can clearly stuff our "sorrys" in a sack!

Oh, and to top it off, us fellas decided to hit America's self-destruct button and vote overwhelmingly for Donald Trump for President in 2016.  Yes, really.  Because apparently we couldn't screw things up enough already.

And now it is time for you to reclaim your rightful position as the new leaders of the free world once again, starting with the USA and eventually spreading from there.  In fact, it is LONG overdue for you to do so.  We cannot apologize enough for handing you such a monumental clusterf**k of a world for you to fix, of course, but we fellas have plenty of faith that you will be able to do so. We know that Women, not men, are the real natural-born leaders, and you can clearly handle power a lot better without it going to your heads than us.  We know that your preferred paradigm of society, what Riane Eisler calls the "partnership" model, is far better than the "dominator" model that we have been practicing for the past 7000 years.  As the saying goes, never send a boy to do a man's job--send a Woman instead.  Truer words were never spoken, and we need you now more than ever before.

The highest and tallest "glass ceiling" in the world--President of the United States--is still waiting to be smashed in 2020, as are plenty of other important political offices as well.  Even though Hillary already did that with the popular vote in 2016, the Rube Goldberg machine known as the Electoral College was systematically rigged against her. We wish all of you the very best of luck.  Now, go forth and make old Buckminster Fuller proud!  Vive la femme!


Ajax the Great, Party Leader of the TSAP