Category Archives: We live in a rape culture

QotD: “Why attempts to make sex robots “family friendly” deserve to fail”

Samantha the Sex Robot first showed up in the public eye last September, when a version of her was left in need of repairs after being displayed at a tech fair: “The people mounted Samantha’s breasts, her legs and arms. Two fingers were broken. She was heavily soiled,” said her creator, Sergi Santos, at the time.

“People can be bad,” he added. “Because they did not understand the technology and did not have to pay for it, they treated the doll like barbarians.”

Leaving aside the suggestion that the way to convince Samantha’s prospective suitors go a bit easier on her was to pay for her, Santos’s surprise at her treatment here makes him seem naive. Isn’t this exactly what he built Samantha for, after all? Allowing behaviour that actual women wouldn’t tolerate?

In the same month, an undamaged version of Samantha made her debut on breakfast TV, with her owner-lover, father-of-two Arran Lee Wright.

Wright is a co-founder of Synthea Amatus, a website that sells lifelike sex robots, with prices starting at £2,000. On his site, Samantha is described as “much more than a sex doll”. During the interview, Wright elaborated on this argument, declaring: “She can talk about animals, she can talk about philosophy, she can talk about science. She has programmed a thousand jokes, I don’t even know all of them. There’s a lot to Samantha, she’s advanced.”

In particular, he stressed the benefit of Samantha’s so-called family mode. The switch stops her blurting out overtly sexual things, such as “I can take many times, much more love, just because you can give it, and I take it all.”

Wright claimed that his children, aged three and five, play with Samantha, and watch TV alongside her. Wright’s wife even said: “I am not worried she will replace me. She is just someone there like a family member.”

As well as giving Wright an opportunity to plug his site, the interview provokes a curious question. Feminists have already raised fears about the implications of sex robots for the way men view and value women. But if in-house sex robots are becoming a feature of 21st century life, how do children make sense of them?

Just as today’s teenagers take broadband for granted, the next generation growing up will be accustomed to non-sexual robots in their day-to-day lives. Dr Alison Gopnik, professor of psychology at Berkeley University, says that children will most likely learn to get along with such robots in the home better than their parents ever could:

“Technologies that seem weird, disruptive and challenging when they are introduced, from the printing press, to the train and telegraph, to TV, become banal and taken for granted by the next generation,” she says. “My bet is that children will quickly understand that robots are a category that shares both similarities and differences with people and with other machines.”

However, even a non-sexual robot in the house could damage children, says Dr Susan Newman, social psychologist and author of Little Things Long Remembered: Making Your Children Feel Special Every Day. She says: “Children thrive developmentally and socially on human contact and interaction.

“It would seem that robots in a house with babies and young children would significantly reduce, and thereby curtail, the essential ingredient and influence of human touch and verbal interaction.” Robots have programming, scripts and limited facial expressions, if any – they just can’t match human beings for communication and imagination, and that’s what children need most.

So what does that mean for Samantha hanging out with the kids while she is in family mode? Dr Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, professor of psychology at Temple University in Philadelphia questions the idea that Samantha can adjust so easily, given her overtly sexualised features.

“It’s like the Barbie doll image, telling girls how they should look. If the culture gives you this image, what are you going do?” Hirsh-Pasek says. “What a shame that, as they grow up, this is what they learn about their dad.”

Nevertheless, she thinks the state would struggle to intervene: “There are privacy issues there. I think our job is to educate the public about why it’s problematic.”

Children start to form idea about gender and relationships from an early age, and from watching their parents, according to Dr Kathleen Richardson, professor of ethics and culture of robots and AI at De Montfort University, and founder of the Campaign Against Sex Robots.

“Children will imitate machines if brought up by them,” she said at the For the Sake of the Future conference in London. “A son is going to learn that it’s okay for daddy to have both a wife and a doll, and the doll doesn’t say anything; it’s his way to have power and control over the family.

“A daughter is going to grow up and think maybe this happened because Mummy wasn’t beautiful enough – am I?

“They’ll learn that women only have certain uses. Then they start to use that as a template for how they interact intimately with others – this is profoundly damaging.”

Yet it is hard to imagine many parents, however unusual their private life is, letting their child anywhere near a robot clearly made for sex, especially one that might randomly start saying explicit things.

More convincing, perhaps, is the idea that sex robot manufacturers want to break out of the original market of lonely or disabled men – men who “can’t get a woman” – and the stigma attached to that. Instead, they are using their wives and marriages to normalise the sex robots they have a financial interest in selling.

We don’t actually see Wright’s children on his This Morning interview. Perhaps they don’t find Samantha scintillating company after all. In the meantime, those hearing about the family-friendly sex robot should get wise to spotting a man when he’s in marketing mode.

From the New Statesman

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Women’s Hour: The Truth Project

How do we as a society tackle child sexual abuse? How do we start a national conversation about it? The Independent Inquiry, launched in 2014 is trying to answer these questions, and are running an initiative called ‘The Truth Project’ to give survivors an opportunity to share their stories. Today, for the first time, some of these accounts are being published.

Jane hears from victims who decided to share their experiences with The Truth Project and she is joined in the studio by a group of those involved in running it. Barrister Dru Sharpling, Chief Psychologist for the Inquiry Dr Bryony Farrant, and a member of the Victims and Survivors Panel, Emma Lewis.

Available on BBC iPlayer here

QotD: “Claims about social benefits of sex robots greatly overstated, say experts”

Sex robots are coming, but the argument that they could bring health benefits, including offering paedophiles a “safe” outlet for their sexual desires, is not based on evidence, say researchers.

The market for anthropomorphic dolls with a range of orifices for sexual pleasure – the majority of which are female in form, and often boast large breasts, tiny waists and sultry looks – is on the rise, with such dummies selling for thousands of pounds a piece.

While some are simple sex dolls, others are sexbots that can move and talk, some with a choice of nipples and dishwasher-proof labia. Indeed the industry is churning out ever more realistic mannequins featuring artificial intelligence, lubrication systems and even vaginas that can mimic an orgasm.

“Our conclusion is that there are a lot of health claims with no evidence” said Susan Bewley, professor of women’s health at Kings College London and co-author of the new research.

Some have suggested that such claims might be more about normalising the use of such dolls than providing actual health benefits.

“In a way [this research] is a sort of academic plea [not to] make false claims, and if there is something genuine in this beyond the creation and marketing of a new device, then let’s study it properly,” said Bewley.

While some argue sexbots are simply the next step in a booming $30bn sex tech industry, others say they are a world apart from the humble vibrator and have serious social implications.

The latest study is not the first to look at sexbots: last year a report by the Foundation for Responsible Robotics also raised questions about the potential benefits and harms of such devices, noting there are already sex-doll brothels in Asia.

Writing in the journal BMJ Sexual and Reproductive Health, Bewley and co-author Dr Chantal Cox-George searched databases of scientific papers but found none that studied the health impacts of sex robots.

However the hunt, together with discussions with experts in the field, revealed that the anthropomorphic dolls are being hailed as providing a host of benefits including, offering sexual companionship to lonely or marginalised individuals, and potentially helping to treat sex offenders and paedophiles.
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Looking into the debates around such topics, the authors highlight a number of issues, including who is legally responsible for injuries and infections from sexbots, and that rather than protecting sex workers, the dolls might fuel exploitation of humans.

And while Bewley notes robots are being explored for use in health and social care, she and Cox-George say its unclear if robots could help in the bedroom, for example aiding people with sexual dysfunction or who are lonely, noting such robots might cause a rift with human partners or even that robots’ lack of emotion might cause distress. “While a human may genuinely desire a sexbot, reciprocation can only be artificially mimicked,” they write.

As for the idea that sexbots could help to treat paedophiles and protect real children – one company already produces childlike dolls – the team say there is no evidence for the claims, noting that it might normalise such acts and even increase the risk of sexual assault and rape for children and adults. “It is a powerful idea. It might be true, it might be untrue – but the fact that someone who is selling these dolls is saying this, [means] you have to take [it] with a big pinch of salt,” said Bewley.

Last year a childlike sex doll intercepted by UK border police led to the arrest of the man who ordered it after the force discovered he had child abuse images on his computer.

The team note there are further questions, including whether sexbots, with their exaggerated forms based in fantasy, could influence what is deemed attractive in actual women – while there are also concerns that some sexbots come with a non-consensual mode, potentially allowing users the opportunity to act out rape.

Prof Oliver Bendel, an expert in machine ethics from the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland, who was not involved in the study, said he is not in favour of banning the development of sexbots or “love dolls” and that the technology will remain niche, with most people preferring sex with other humans.

But Bendel agreed research is needed. That said, there is a problem. “Most universities in Europe don’t want anything to do with this topic. Most scientists find the subject repulsive,” he said, adding that researchers might find it hard to recruit study participants.

“It’s an old human dream to have artificial love partners. Pygmalion created a female sculpture and laid down with her. Aphrodite brought the sculpture to life,” he said. “It is interesting for science and business to create artificial people. But we must not leave the people alone with the machines.”

(source)

QotD: “Sweden approves new law recognising sex without consent as rape”

Sweden has passed a new law saying that sex without consent is rape, even when there are no threats or force involved.

The new law, due to come into effect on 1 July, says a person must give clear consent, verbal or physical.

Prosecutors will no longer need to prove violence or that the victim was in a vulnerable situation in order to establish rape.

Activists have welcomed the changes but critics say the law will not increase the number of rape convictions.

With the new legislation, approved in parliament by 257 votes against 38, Sweden joins other European countries like the United Kingdom and Germany where sex without consent is considered rape.

It says the lack of consent is enough to constitute a crime. It is “based on the obvious: sex must be voluntary”, the government said when the legislation was proposed.

The approved text stops short of making expressed consent a condition for sex but states that passivity is not a sign of agreeing to sex.

“If a person wants to engage in sexual activities with someone who remains inactive or gives ambiguous signals, he or she will therefore have to find out if the other person is willing.”

Under the previous legislation, prosecutors had to prove that the perpetrator had used violence or that the victim had been exploited in a vulnerable condition, such as under the influence of alcohol, in order to secure a rape conviction.

The law introduces two new offences, negligent rape and negligent sexual abuse, carrying a maximum prison term of four years.

“The negligence aspect focuses on the fact that one of the parties did not participate voluntarily,” the government said, adding that it would be possible to convict more people of sexual abuse.

Most countries in Europe still define rape as a sexual act carried out with the use of violence or threat.

The countries where sex without consent is considered rape are:

1: United Kingdom; 2: Ireland; 3: Belgium; 4: Luxembourg; 5: Germany; 6: Cyprus

Sweden approves new law recognising sex without consent as rape

Malmo, along with other urban centres in Sweden, has one of the highest levels of reported rapes in proportion to population in the EU, mainly due to the strictness of Swedish laws and how rape is recorded in the country.

The rate of reported rapes in Malmo has not dramatically risen in recent years and has in fact declined from its peak in 2010, before the recent large increases in refugees.

It is not possible to connect crimes to the ethnicity of the perpetrators as such data is not published.

[…]

“Sexual offences” is a very broad term, which refers to a range of all sex-related crimes in Sweden.

Rape is one of the sexual offences, but other crimes such as paying for sex, sexual harassment, indecent exposure, sexual exploitation, molestation and trafficking are included in the numbers as well.

The figures peaked in 2014. The Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention (Bra) says this rise is due to the changes to the legislation in 2013, which made it tougher.

Similar increases in the number of reported cases were seen in 2006, after new sex offence legislation came into force in April 2005.

Since then, Sweden has recorded every reported case of sexual violence separately.

That means, as Susanne Lekengard from Bra explains, that if a person comes to the police and reports being raped by a partner or husband every day for the past year, the police will record each of these events.

In many other countries these incidents would be recorded just once: one victim, one type of crime and one record.

Also, paying for sex became one of the crimes counted in the statistics.

During 2015, the year in which Sweden took the largest number of asylum seekers, the number of reported sex crimes and rapes actually decreased by 11% and 12% respectively compared with 2014 – 18,100 sex offences were reported to the police, of which 5,920 were classified as rape.

Preliminary figures for 2016 show a rise, bringing the latest figures close to 2014 values.

Susanne Lekengard says the rise of the number of sexual molestation cases in 2016 is due to a higher number of reported cases of sexual harassment amongst teenagers at summer music festivals.

Sweden does not publish the ethnicity or national background of perpetrators of any crime, including sexual offences.

[…]

It is very hard to compare sex-related offences and rape across the world.

Police procedures and legal definitions vary widely around the world, making an international comparison meaningless.

The 2012 UN international rape rate comparison showed Sweden to have the highest rate of rape in Europe and the second highest in the world, but the report did not contain data for a total of 63 countries that did not submit any statistics, including, for example, South Africa, where other earlier surveys indicated a very high rape rate.

The most recent Eurostat data for the 28 EU countries also puts Sweden in the top spot.

But the agency warns that comparisons between different countries should be avoided because of differences between their legal and criminal justice systems, recording practices, reporting rates, efficiencies of criminal justice organisations and types of offences included in the categories.

There has also been a public debate in Sweden over the past two decades to raise awareness and encourage women to go to the police if they have been attacked.

This has resulted in a higher report rate than in other countries in Europe.

Reality Check: Is Malmo the ‘rape capital’ of Europe?

QotD: “both the snake oil merchant right & the zanier reaches of the rainbow left are currently tripling down on the idea that women have a social duty to fuck men”

You can tell me horseshoe theory is nonsense all you like, but both the snake oil merchant right & the zanier reaches of the rainbow left are currently tripling down on the idea that women have a social duty to fuck men & that to refuse is to either cause or perpetrate violence.

MarinaS on twitter

Raffaëla Anderson and the French Porno Industry

Raffaëla Anderson, whose ethnic background is partly Arab, is a former pornography performer, who has now become a non-fiction writer and occasionally an actress in mainstream French productions.

The French pornography industry is just as violent as the American one. There is also a Gonzo genre over there, with films containing extreme sexual practices which seem painful to the women who experience them.

After leaving the pornography business, Raffaëla Anderson wrote a book entitled Hard (2001), describing her experience in that industry and decrying its abuses. Raffaëla stayed four years in the porno industry. Her last appearance in an explicit film was in Virginie Despentes’ controversial (unusual porn) French film “Baise-Moi” (2000), which was distributed internationally.

In 2003, Director Emmanuelle Schick Garcia made a documentary on the French pornography business. Entitled “La Petite Morte,” the documentary included interviews with Raffaëla Anderson, who related being abused as a child, along with the ongoing exploitation and suffering which take place in the porno industry.

In 2006, Raffaëla wrote her second book Tendre Violence (“Tender Violence”, in English) a narration of her childhood with her Muslim family in Gagny, in the suburb of Paris. In this book, she reported that, from the age of 5 years old until her teenage years, she had suffered a form of sexual abuse (“bad touching”) by her alcoholic uncle. She also reported physical abuse: during her childhood and teenage girlhood, she had been beaten up by her father and brothers. She had also been brought up in a family environment in which sexuality was a taboo subject, and, at age 18, she decided to enter the French porno industry.

Her first book Hard ( “Hard” means “Hardcore” in French slang), that she had written in 2001, described her experience in the French porno industry. In it, Raffaëla Anderson explains that, as a teenager, she had an admiration for Dutch porn actress Zara Whites, whom she was seeing on TV. Raffaëla was seeing a participation in the porno industry as a good way to earn money easily to be able to flee her abusive familial environment, and acquire a desired autonomy. However, she did not expect the difficult and abusive situation she was going to find herself in, inside of that industry. She was taking drugs and drinking alcohol to be able to cope with the “job”. She explained how she gradually became disgusted by men and discovered her homosexuality. While walking in the streets once, she got raped by two men who recognized her as a porn actress. She reported it to the police. In the documentary “La Petite Morte”, Raffaëla explained how the prosecutor and Judge in her case dismissed the rape with the attitude: “You’re an actress in pornographic films, so you can’t complain.” Her rapists would not go to jail, since the French justice system concluded it was her fault.

In her book Hard, Raffaëla also gave the readers an insightful look into her experience as a porn performer. Indeed, her testimony is explicit. Here are a few excerpts:

“I’ve got to be on the set [again] on Sunday […] I’m crying. I don’t want to get fucked anymore. Only the thought of it hurts me. I want to take back what I gave years ago: me, my crotch, my dignity. I’ve only got a small part of my brain left, I want to keep it. I’m crying […] I can’t take it anymore, I’m in pain each time, I can’t put up with it any more.”
— Raffaëla Anderson, in Hard, published by Grasset (Paris) [TRANSLATED FROM FRENCH].

“The Big Boss asks me for the usual double penetration: one at the front, one at the back […] The Boss asks us just one minute in this position. I’m feeling kinda stunned. I know that I’m not gonna be able to take it. It’s inevitable, I’m fainting. Nobody notices, the Boss says to me that it’s super, he thanks me. It’s also at this moment that I regain consciousness. I hear: “Let’s get to the cum shot…”
— Raffaëla Anderson, in Hard, published by Grasset (Paris) [TRANSLATED FROM FRENCH].

“In the morning, you get up, you stick for the nth time the enema syringe up your ass and you clean the inside. You repeat this [process] until it’s clean. That alone, that hurts. […] After this, you find yourself on a set and you suck, you bend over. They call you a bitch in the name of arousal, and what else? Nothing is worth such a suffering. Not even the money you’re making.”
— Raffaëla Anderson, in Hard, published by Grasset (Paris) [TRANSLATED FROM FRENCH].

“I’ve got a scene to make in a swimming pool under water. There are electric wires everywhere, apparently it’s dangerous. […] They cover the pool for I don’t know what reason. I’m under water, and nobody’s there to rescue me. These assholes refuse to remove the wires. If I stay under the water, I drown, if I get out, it’s electrocution. […] After hesitating for a moment, I’m going back up to the surface […]. Off camera [someone says]: “We’re doing it again”. I could have died and all they’ve got to say is “We’re doing it again”. […] They’re crazy in this industry, you can die, and all that matters for them is the scene that has to be done.”
— Raffaëla Anderson, in Hard, published by Grasset (Paris) [TRANSLATED FROM FRENCH].

Raffaëla also wrote about the sexual exploitation of women and the human suffering she has witnessed in the porno industry, including the case of Eastern European women, who are trafficked into the French porno industry (these women are poor and forced to “work” to pay their pimps):

“I consider those scenes [of double and triple penetration] as real “hardcore” […]. Other girls had to do worse. Starting with double vaginal penetration, double anal penetration, then both at the same time. Imagine four guys, North-South, East-West, and the girl on doggie-style, barely able to breathe, during a two-minute close-up, the minimal time required […]. I’ve seen those girls [from Eastern Europe] suffering and crying […]. Imagine a girl with no experience, not speaking the [same] language, far away from her home, sleeping at a hotel or on the set. She’s got to do a double penetration, a vaginal fisting, along with an anal fisting, sometimes both at the same time, a hand up her ass, sometimes two. At the end, you’ve got a girl in tears who’s pissing blood because of lesions, and who generally shits herself because noboby explained to her that she needed to have an enema.[…] After the scene which they are not allowed to interrupt, and anyway nobody listens to them, the girls get two hours to rest. They get back on the set […]. The director and the producer encourage those practices […] because the consumer asks for them.”
— Raffaëla Anderson, in Hard, published by Grasset (Paris) [TRANSLATED FROM FRENCH].

Raffaëla Anderson’s realistic account of porn performing and the French porno industry is not the only one. Even Ovidie, a former porn actress who has now become porn director and who is one of the loudest defenders of pornography in France, admits such things as:

“I was very sick. I had a fever and I was vomiting. It was horrible. And nobody went to get me an aspirin […]. I felt humiliated, just a hole for the camera. I was only a product.”
— Ovidie, in Porno Manifesto, published by Flammarion (Paris), quoted in Michela Marzano, Malaise dans la sexualité: Le piège de la pornographie, published by JC Lattès (Paris) [TRANSLATED FROM FRENCH].

“There are things which are very violent and leave scars.”
— Ovidie, interviewed by Michela Marzano, quoted in Michela Marzano, La Pornographie ou l’Epuisement du Désir, published by Buchet-Chastel (Paris) [TRANSLATED FROM FRENCH].

Another French porn performer, Coralie Trinh Thi, explained:
“At the beginning of my career in XXX, I was completely traumatized when I was seeing a girl on the brink of tears during the making of a movie, especially during the scenes of double penetration […]. Actually, in hardcore scenes, they are more suffering than they’re coming.”
— Coralie Trinh Thi, Source: lesfuries.chez-alice.fr/prostitution.htm [accessed on 06/01/07] [TRANSLATED FROM FRENCH].

Porn perfomer Karen Lancaume, who Appeared in the film “Baise-moi” with Raffaëla Anderson, commited suicide in 2005, by overdosing on barbiturates. Karen was injured by her experience in pornography and she denounced the selfish attitude of the people in that industry. Interviewed by the French newspaper Libération, Karen said:
“A double penetration, followed by the cum shot. I was covered in sperm, drenched; I was also cold, and nobody handed me a towel. Once you’ve done the scene, you’re not worth anything anymore.”
— Karen Lancaume, Source: fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karen_Lancaume [accessed on 06/01/07] [TRANSLATED FROM FRENCH].

Interviewed by Radio Canada, filmmaker Emmanuelle Schick Garcia, who made a documentary (on the French pornography industry) called “La Petite Morte” (2003 — see www. lapetitemorte.com/about.htm), said:
“I think Raffaëla [Anderson] describes the [pornographic] world very honestly for what it really is, there are moments of happiness, especially for a girl who never had any friends in her life, or love from her family, and found it in this world. Not real love like we know it, but love as it would be recognized by someone who felt abandoned and alone. Then there’s the other side, where for a victim of incest and rape like Raffaëla, pornography becomes a reconstruction of the abuse she’s lived all her life. And for a lot of girls in that world, […] love is like how they’re treated in pornography. It’s someone who tells you how you should have sex. It’s having someone tell you, you’re going to do this scene, like this, with this person. And it’s exactly what they’re accustomed to, because growing up they never got to choose… So, for me, when pornographers say, it’s fun or that the girls like what they’re doing, I see it as lies. Because I learned everything to the contrary. I spoke with many girls in that world and often, I would say about 85% of those girls were victims of sexual or physical abuse growing up.”
— Emmanuelle Schick Garcia, Source: lapetitemorte.com/article58.htm [accessed on 06/01/07] [INTERVIEW WAS ALREADY TRANSLATED TO ENGLISH]

Interviewed by IFQ, Shick Garcia also said:
“There are very heart breaking and horrible things about the pornographic world. But, most of those things happened to actresses and actors long before they arrived in the pornography world. The pornography industry is just a place where a lot of victims relive their abuse, where they can continue to destroy themselves like their abusers destroyed them. That’s what is the most disturbing to me. The incest, rapes, child abuse and neglect that become the springboard for a lot of participants to enter the industry. People in the industry will tell you this isn’t true, but I learned everything to the contrary. This excuse makes it easier to go to work, that’s all.”
— Emmanuelle Schick Garcia, Source: independentfilmquarterly.com/ifq/interviews/petite.htm [accessed on 06/01/07] [INTERVIEW WAS ALREADY TRANSLATED TO ENGLISH]

When asked about the title of her documentary (“La Petite Morte”), Shick Garcia replied:
“It refers to the female orgasm, because in porno films they want you to believe that a woman is always having an orgasm, which isn’t true, and there’s also the depressing aspect of the name, with death, there’s just something inside a lot of those girls that seems dead. To me, it’s just a really sad world.”
— Emmanuelle Schick Garcia, Source: lapetitemorte.com/article58.htm [accessed on 06/01/07] [INTERVIEW WAS ALREADY TRANSLATED TO ENGLISH]

From the (archived) Against Pornography website

QotD: “Cyntoia Brown, Trafficking Victim Serving Life Sentence for Murder, Will Get Clemency Hearing”

Cyntoia Brown, a Nashville woman who is serving a life sentence for killing a man who picked her up for sex while she was being trafficked as a teenager, will receive a hearing that could lead to her release, officials said on Thursday.

The clemency hearing, set for May 23, will be the first for Ms. Brown, 30, since she was sentenced nearly 13 years ago, said Melissa McDonald, a spokeswoman for the state Board of Probation and Parole.

The board, appointed by the governor, will hear Ms. Brown’s petition and decide whether to recommend that she be released from the Tennessee Prison for Women, where she is serving a life sentence for fatally shooting Johnny Allen, 43, in 2004. “It is up to the governor to decide the process after we make our recommendation,” Ms. McDonald said. “The governor may act on it or choose not to act.”

When she was 16, Ms. Brown, who had run away from her adopted family, lived in a motel with a pimp known as “Kut Throat” who raped and abused her while forcing her to become a prostitute, Charles Bone, her lawyer, said last year.

“While Cyntoia’s clemency application is still in process, we will not be making any further public comments,” Mr. Bone said on Thursday.

Mr. Allen picked her up and drove her to his home, where Ms. Brown shot him. She said she saw him reaching under his bed and thought he was getting a gun, according to court documents. She took money and two guns and fled.

Ms. Brown was tried as an adult in 2006. A jury rejected her claim of self-defense, finding her guilty of first-degree murder and aggravated robbery. Her case has attracted the public support of celebrities including Rihanna, LeBron James, Snoop Dogg, and Kim Kardashian West.

The announcement of the clemency hearing was first reported by The Tennessean. It comes two days after an appeals court agreed to hear oral arguments in the case on June 14.

Ms. Brown’s supporters have described her as a model inmate. While in prison, she took classes from Lipscomb University, a private Christian college in Nashville, and earned an associate degree.

But Jeff Burks, who prosecuted Ms. Brown and is now an assistant district attorney in Madison, Ga., has contended that she shouldn’t be considered a victim of trafficking, and that she tried to recruit someone to return to Mr. Allen’s apartment after killing him to steal from it.

“What should the law be as to a 16-year-old who does this? I don’t weigh in on that,” he said. “But the facts of the case, I have a strong position on.”

State Representative Jeremy Faison, a Republican from Nashville who has been pushing for Ms. Brown’s release, said Thursday that it would have been more difficult for her to be tried as an adult under the trafficking laws and laws governing juvenile offenders that are now in place in Tennessee.

Mr. Faison, who introduced a failed bill in 2016 that would have required reviews of life sentences for juveniles after they serve 15 years in prison, said he regularly speaks with Ms. Brown.

“Did she kill the guy? Absolutely. Did we have proof of why she killed him? No, we don’t,” he said. “She was the victim of a man who picked her up when she was 16.”

Tennessee’s governor, Bill Haslam, a Republican, is in his final year in office. He has not yet granted any clemency petitions, The Tennessean reported.

“The governor thoughtfully reviews any clemency application and recommendation from the Board of Parole,” said Jennifer Donnals, a spokeswoman for Governor Haslam.

Mr. Faison said he has also asked the governor to consider a pardon.

“I would like to tell you that I think the odds are good,” he said. But “it is hard to get government to admit they are wrong.”

New York Times

QotD: “Nevada’s legal brothels often just ‘prisons in doublewide trailers’”

At least two women from pimp Dennis Hof’s legal brothels have made credible accusations of sexual assault. In the process of studying the sex trade for the past 20 years, including two years in Nevada, I have learned that many of Nevada’s legal pimps are control-obsessed thugs who regularly assault women.

Clarifying what the sex trade is all about, a sex buyer explained, “prostitution is renting an organ for 10 minutes.” Some pimps view prostitution as a time-share business, with women occupied for a brief time rather than owned outright. The attitude “I paid for you, so I own you, so I can do whatever I want to you” is common among pimps and sex buyers, who together are the most frequent assaulters of women in the legal brothels. The warning signs are the same behaviors you see in pimps and men who buy sex: an attitude of sexual entitlement, unwanted touching, persistence and social isolation of their target.

A woman who prostituted in a Nevada legal brothel said that the experience was like being the pimp’s property for two weeks. “You have sex when they want, with whom they want, and it doesn’t matter how you feel or anything,” she said. “You’re locked in a box for two weeks and guys come in and out.”

Other women describe the Nevada legal brothels as “little prisons in double-wide trailers.” When we interviewed 45 women in Nevada’s legal brothels, 81 percent told us they wanted to escape prostitution. They most often had pimps or boyfriends coercing them from outside the brothel. Many faced poverty or homelessness (47 percent of the women in Nevada’s legal brothels had been homeless). A Nevada legal pimp reported that he saw pimps from out of state drop off the most beaten-down, injured women for what amounted to incarceration as they were coerced under slave-like conditions to make more money by selling sex.

Although it has improved conditions for pimps, legal prostitution does not make it safer for women in the brothels. We all somehow hope — against the evidence — that there’s something we can do to make prostitution better for the women. That we can magically make the women safer from everything we know that happens to them, but that few can even stand to think about. But there is much evidence that legal prostitution is physically dangerous.

In the brothels, there is pressure on women to accept any sex buyer who chooses her, regardless of how drunk, foul-smelling, verbally abusive or threatening he seems. If a woman rejects more than one or two johns, she can be fired. Some women were afraid that if they reported violence from sex buyers, they themselves might be blamed for it or even fired.

A former brothel manager (who feared for her life if her identity were revealed) stated that only a small percentage of brothel violence is reported and that the women are so accustomed to violence in their lives that an assault seemed “almost insignificant” to them. As one woman explained, “What is rape to others is normal for us.” Sexual harassment is the job of prostitution, yet somehow we don’t think of women in prostitution as part of #MeToo. She has the right to exist without sexual harassment, without prostitution, just like the rest of us.

There is no evidence that legal prostitution will eliminate illegal prostitution. In fact, a 2013 study of 150 countries showed that wherever prostitution was legal, sex trafficking increased. Legal prostitution is about 10 percent of the sex trade in Nevada. The other 90 percent is illegal. Why is that? Legal prostitution is a legal welcome to pimps — it creates a prostitution culture in the state, normalizing prostitution and attracting sex buyers and pimps from all over the world.

Having discovered that almost all legal prostitution is controlled by organized crime, the Dutch have shut down more than half of the legal brothels in Amsterdam. Dutch politicians are working on changing the country’s prostitution law.

It’s essential to end the laws that place Nevada’s counties themselves in the role of pimps. Lyon and Nye County advocates are currently gathering signatures to reject legal pimping. The fewer pimps in Nevada — legal or illegal — the better.

Melissa Farley

QotD: “Additional blood on Jackson’s sheets and ‘middle class’ tweet”

A judge has lifted reporting restrictions on the trial of two Ireland rugby players acquitted of rape.

Jurors were unaware that there were photographs of additional blood on the sheets of Paddy Jackson’s bed, with the rugby player’s barrister saying he had “no intention of saying where this blood came from”.

Also kept from the jury was the fact a short pornographic video featuring a ‘spit-roast’ was sent by Rory Harrison to Stuart Olding the day after the events of that night.

Mr Olding’s lawyer, Frank O’Donoghue QC, had also sought to have the jury discharged just two days before they retired to consider the verdict after a comment by Alliance leader Naomi Long MLA on Twitter.

In her comment, Ms Long referenced Mr O’Donoghue’s closing speech to the jury, where he wondered why the complainant didn’t scream.

“Why didn’t she scream? – the house was occupied”, he said. “There were a lot of middle-class girls downstairs – they weren’t going to tolerate a rape or anything like that.”

Ms Long tweeted: “I genuinely have no words for how atrocious this statement is. Middle class girls? What? Because “working class girls” wouldn’t care/don’t matter/think rape is normal? What is the implication of that comment even meant to be? Appalling on every level.”

However, Judge Patricia Smyth refused the application to discharge the jury, saying they had been warned repeatedly not to read anything about the trial in the press or on social media. She said she believed the jurors were capable of following instructions, and there was no reason to believe they had any knowledge of the tweet.

Independent.ie, continue reading here

Sex isn’t a commodity! Except when it is!

It’s amusing to watch liberal feminists and sex industry advocates tie themselves into semantic knots, because they want to, at the same time, condemn ‘incel’ rhetoric, while still supporting the sex industry. Meghan Murphy at Feminist Current has, of course, got there first with a first class radical feminist analysis:

This week, the liberal feminist internet exploded into bewildered anger over a column by Ross Douthat in The New York Times, which pointed out the obvious: that in a world that has placed an incredible amount of value on sex, that has glorified capitalism and turned almost everything into a sellable product, and that has told people (men, in particular) that sex is an inalienable right, inevitably we will arrive in a world that commodifies sex, and seeks to find a way to offer sex to anyone that wants it. I’m stretching his argument to add my own analysis, of course, but essentially this is the point he made: this is the world we live in — the world we created.

Liberal feminism let out an immediate and unified shriek at having to contend with the fact that their purported hatred for incels (which describes a group of men who are “involuntarily celibate”) and other men who communicate their anger at having not been offered the thing porn culture told them they were entitled to (sex with hot, young, porny women) did not mesh with their efforts to normalize and legalize men’s access to women’s bodies in the sex trade.

Jaclyn Friedman, author of Unscrewed: Women, Sex, Power and How to Stop Letting the System Screw Us All and co-editor (with Jessica Valenti) of Yes Means Yes: Visions of Sexual Power and a World Without Rape, tweeted: “CAN PEOPLE JUST STOP FUCKING SAYING THE PHRASE ‘REDISTRIBUTION OF SEX’ LIKE IT IS AN ACTUAL THING. Sex is not a commodity. Women are not a commodity. Sex workers are not a commodity. Sex is an ACTIVITY. You can’t ‘redistribute’ sex any more than you can ‘redistribute’ dancing.”

Despite Friedman’s usually effective use of Caps Lock, her argument doesn’t follow. Particularly because she is one of those who advocates to legalize and normalize the purchase of sex, meaning that indeed she believes men should have the right to access women’s bodies and should have the right to sex, anytime they wish, so long as they can pay and so long as a woman needs the money.

The sex industry literally commodifies sex and women. This is what a commodity is: a service or product that can be exchanged, bought, or sold on the market. Even if you choose to believe sex is a “service” just like physiotherapy or a manicure, if you are paying, it is a commodity. If you are going to argue that sex is not a commodity and to present it as such is Not A Good Thing, you are going to have to admit that radical feminists have been right all along, and that turning women and sex into things to be bought and sold is indeed a dangerous thing.

Similarly, Laurie Penny, who also advocates for the legalization of pimps, johns, and brothels, insisted that “Sexual redistribution’ isn’t a thing. The reason for this is that sex is not a commodity but a relation between human beings,” adding, “(Which is also, sometimes, a service performed for money.)”

While Douthat’s column may well have been convoluted, and while he was unclear about what his own perspective is on what is sadly an inevitable reality (he later clarified on Twitter that he feels this approach is “bad”), those who responded angrily at the notion of a “redistribution of sex” laid bare their own hypocrisy, which is arguably worse than writing an unnecessarily complex column with too long sentences (I am guilty of this today, as well, and am sorry) and coming off as a bit pompous as a result. If you read the piece about four times over, you’ll start to get the gist.

Douthat doesn’t advocate for a dehumanized and commodified “redistribution of sex,” he just says this is what liberals like Penny and Friedman have fought for and won. Douthat writes:

“… As offensive or utopian the redistribution of sex might sound, the idea is entirely responsive to the logic of late-modern sexual life, and its pursuit would be entirely characteristic of a recurring pattern in liberal societies”

He also rightly points out that our understanding of sex and sexual liberation has been very much shaped by Hugh Hefner — meaning that we have adopted a social value that says men should have access to a wide variety of young, sexualized, one-dimensional women who are always “up for it.”

I suspect part of the problem, beyond their inability to think their way out of a paper bag, is that Douthat called out the zealous efforts of these liberals and leftists to “transform prostitution into legalized and regulated ‘sex work,’” thereby encouraging nouveau-porn technologies like sex robots and the broader notion that men have a right to sex. And beyond that, they did so without “formally debating the idea of a right to sex” or, I’d argue, listening to the masses of feminists who have, over decades, been pointing out that if you want actual sexual liberation for women, you can’t achieve it while simultaneously commodifying sex and saying that it’s acceptable for some women to be treated as sex objects, so long as they are compensated.

Friedman told Vice that “she finds it ‘profoundly appalling’ that The New York Times’ opinion pages would legitimize incel culture under the guise of a debate,” making it clear that she (whether intentionally or unintentionally) missed the point entirely. In fact, it is Friedman and her gaggle of desperate-to-be-cool liberal cronies who focused their careers on trying to legitimize exactly the mindset incels have internalized, and who then lashed out in anger (too-often violently) at the discovery that their fantasy was just that.

I wonder what they thought the end result of fighting for a porn industry and sex trade would be? That men would think, “Gosh, the best way to build relationships with women is through respect and by getting to know them as the humans they clearly are”? Or, rather, would they come to the conclusion that women’s bodies are things that exist to be fucked, and that at any given moment, they should be able to get off, in whatever way they like, regardless of how the woman on the other side of their laptop screen feels about it?

Douthat writes:

“I expect the logic of commerce and technology will be consciously harnessed, as already in pornography, to address the unhappiness of incels, be they angry and dangerous or simply depressed and despairing.”

When you argue that a sex trade must exist in order to serve the “lonely,” “anti-social,” or “sexually unfulfilled,” you shouldn’t be surprised when that world appears in front of you. And certainly you shouldn’t be surprised when men accept your arguments and run with them.