Category Archives: Sex

They’re all at it

My friend Phil wrote to ask what I thought of the current groping scandal engulfing his home state Senator Al Franken. Truth to tell, I don’t think much of any of the current groping/molestation/sexual assault/rape charges flying around. I would love to say that I was shocked and appalled, but I’m not. Not because non-consensual sexual activity is ever acceptable. It isn’t. Rather because, short of going full Mike Pence and never being alone with a woman who is not your wife, every man is open to the accusations and in the current climate of “I believe the woman” has no possible comeback. Worse, the “crime” has been defined down to such a degree that the British Minister of Defence felt compelled to resign over a “knee grazing” incident which a) happened inadvertently, b) did not outrage the owner of the knee in question, c) occurred fifteen years ago and went unremarked ever since.

Lots of pixels have been spilt making fine distinctions between assorted levels of groping, outright assault, feelings of discomfort and so on. Even more have died in trying to discern what level of historic evidence should be required before a man loses his career, is shunned by his colleagues and is replaced by Christopher Plummer.

Frankly, I think it is all a huge waste of time in almost every case. Sen. Franken was idiotic enough to have a picture snapped of his grope (which was not, by the way, the worst allegation made against him). In most of the other cases, the evidence is ten or twenty or even forty-year-old memories of encounters where drugs and drink were ubiquitous and modern standards of “sober, enthusiastic consent” were unknown. Of course, there were power imbalances; Monica did not arrive in the Oval with a penchant for cigars. And Bill was simply following in the footsteps of JFK and LBJ. Was he wrong? Of course, he was, so was Jack Kennedy getting blowjobs from 19-year-old interns. Harvey Weinstein, pig that he is, was in the tradition of Hollywood producers stretching back to silent films. (Kennedy’s father among them.) No one could possibly be surprised.

As to the furor surrounding Judge Moore, there is only one accusation which I consider disqualifying if true and that is the outlying charge that Moore took a 14-year-old girl back to his home and tried to become intimate with her. I say outlying because all the other initial instances were with girls old enough to consent and whose testimony suggested that Moore was pretty much a gent throughout. (And yes, there is lots creepy about a 32-year-old guy taking a 16-year-old girl out. But that, to my mind is not disqualifying if the behaviour has not continued.) [The woman with the yearbook – and Gloria Allred as her lawyer – is not plausible until she turns the yearbook over for handwriting analysis. Right now I suspect she is Moore’s best chance to discredit all the stories.] But the Moore matters all turn on evidence which is 30 or 40 years old and which has only come to light a month before a hotly contested election. He has a perfect right to push back.

And so it goes. Right this instant, as at the height of the Salem witch trials, a denunciation becomes a conviction in the flick of a tweet. Plausibility is now a matter of sheer numbers with 5 apparently being the magic number.  There is no defence and heartfelt contrition, as Sen.Franken is discovering, is not enough. The Salem witch trials burnt themselves out but not until 19 people had been hung and one “pressed” to death with heavy rocks. They ended for a variety of reasons. One of the reasons was that “spectral evidence”, essentially dreams and hallucinations, was no longer accepted at face value.

At a certain point, and I suspect we are getting close to that point, the rush to accuse men of sexually inappropriate (and what an awful word that is) behaviour on the basis of shaky, historical, evidence will collide with the entirely devastating consequences for the men so accused. Sheep will be sorted from goats. Rapists like Clinton or Weinstein will, finally, be flung into outer darkness. So, I am afraid, will goofs like Al Franken who are dumb enough to have incriminating photos floating around. But the evidentiary standard is going to tighten as well. Dim chanting of “I believe the woman.” will be replaced with, “No ruin without evidence.”

But there are a few things we can learn from the current hysteria. First, very powerful men take advantage of that power. This is a reminder, not news. A nodding acquaintance with Roman history, or British or French monarchs, or the biography of Lloyd George or Asquith for that matter, not to mention Kissinger’s aphorism that “power is the ultimate aphrodisiac” will serve to confirm this fact. Reading Keith Richard’s wonderful autobiography, Life, will serve to confirm this in another sphere.

Second, power is situational. The VP marketing for a tiny company may be in a position of relative power vis a vis his staff and the vendors who want to sell to that company. It is a pretty sure thing that if you looked at the conduct of 100 such VPs you’d find a few, perhaps more than a few, who after a few drinks got very handsy indeed.

Third, none of this is a secret. We all knew. We all know. And “we” in this case includes women as well as men. Which is why I am not shocked nor, realistically, should anyone be who has spent time in the business, entertainment or political worlds. In fact, just day to day life will throw up instances of men using position to “get at” women. It is wrong and disgusting but it is also the way of the world and knowing that is part of growing up.

Optimistically, it is possible that the current generation of men, as they enter adulthood will have absorbed more egalitarian principles. But I doubt it. Against all the schoolmarm indoctrination about “appropriate” behaviour and “sober, enthusiastic, consent”, are ranged the full impacts of internet porn, hip-hop culture and a thoroughly sexualized media and advertising industry. Worse, the feminist doctrines of female sexual emancipation have created a Tinder culture where women are just as likely as men to swipe right and hook up. Obviously not every woman is on the hunt, but enough are to complicate things.

Even more complicating is the fact women have been known to use their beauty to get ahead.  The wonderful, and very beautiful, Nancy Huston writes,

“My beauty has gotten me many places, to some of which I very badly wanted to go, and to some of which I did not want to go at all. Over the years, I’ve watched it attack and corrode borders, then take me with it into foreign territories. Borders are ideas erected between age groups, social classes, all sorts of hierarchical entities, in order that society may function as predictably and as decently as possible. They are not solid brick walls. Beauty eats them away. This is the truth; we’ve all seen it happen, though it happens differently in different places” Dealing with What’s Dealt (excerpt)

While I am quite certain the current mania will pass, the underlying issues of sexuality, consent and power are not being addressed. Nor do I think they will be. Like a lot of other human behaviour, it is pretty much impossible to come up with top down rules governing sexually charged behaviour between adults. I suppose a company might make it a firing offence to be alone with a member of the opposite (or same, because, gay) sex. But I can’t see that working very well and, fairly quickly, it would be routinely ignored. And would a rule against older men dating younger women get off the ground? Should we go back to the days of chaperones? (Which, in the current climate, maybe an emerging Hollywood profession.)  I don’t think any set of rules dealing with sexuality will work.

A more promising avenue is an ethical philosophical commitment to treating all people as ends in themselves. Whether it is sex or business or school gate acquaintanceship,  it makes sense to treat people with kindness and respect rather than as mere instruments. This sort of approach would take a long time to gain traction but, in the long run, solves a lot more problems than just sexual misbehaviour. It is more than a little utopian but it is something you can teach your children right now. It is also something which HR departments, schools and universities,  can use in place of the brain dead “zero tolerance” dogma which gets in the way of a healthy business or learning environment. Best of all, it provides a framework for conduct and a scaffold for dealing with misconduct. It recognizes that “all or nothing” is an entirely inhuman way of understanding human behaviour.

A commitment to treating people as ends in themselves would also provide a means for individuals to redeem behaviour which fell beneath that standard. Instead of mouthing platitudes, Sen. Franken, possibly with the help of an applied ethicist, could set about making amends to the woman (well, women, it appears) he groped and, in the process, actually set his sights higher. Even criminal acts, such as Clinton’s or Weinstein’s rapes, while attracting criminal sanction, could also involve making amends.

I am deeply skeptical about the efficacy of any top down “rules” for behaviour; but I am deeply optimistic that men and women can learn simple, universally applicable, ethical principles and apply them in day to day life. We may not always meet those ethical goals, but having them at all is a good first step.

 

Advertisements
Tagged , , ,

MILO…

Kathy Shaidle gets it about right:

Guys, seriously.

When you invite someone as gay as Milo to speak at CPAC or whatever, here’s the thing:

Gay people are not the angelic eunuchs of your Will and Grace straight fantasies.

As pretty much any of them will tell you — ask Tammy Bruce — a huge part of gay culture is the initiation of teen boys into the life by older men.

Five Feet of Fury

I’ve looked at the tapes and read MILO’s explanation and, frankly, the whole “advocating for paedophilia” thing is nothing more than a cheap hit job. Or it is if you know anything about gay culture.

At the moment I am reading Francis Spaulding’s wonderful biography of Duncan Grant. There is no doubt at all that Grant discovered a part of his sexuality because a nasty old man, likely all of twenty-five, touched him at a tender age. Not at seven or even twelve; rather in his mid-teens. Was that wrong? Yes. Does it happen? Yes again. MILO claims he was blowing a priest at fourteen which I find outrageous; but, like Kathy, I am unsurprised.

If you understand gay culture, if you have gay friends, you will know that the idea of men and boys together is part of that culture. Is the age of consent the issue? It might be, but while the vast majority of gay men stay on the legal side of the line, they certainly lust in their hearts for the “twinks”.

And if you understand straight male culture, if you chat with a bunch of guys, you will know that many men would just love to bang a seriously hot fifteen year old. They don’t actually do it any more than gay men do; but a pretty, nubile, underage girl does not go unnoticed. “Jail bait” is a thing and has been for centuries. (And the fashion mags are full of them.)

The nice people, the girls in the front of the class, don’t want to know the darkness in men’s hearts. MILO, to his great misfortune, did not maintain the official pretence with quite the vigor the great and the good require. For which he is punished with disinvitation to CPAC (a now, in the face of Trump, irrelevant organization) and a cancellation of his book deal (keep the money MILO) and, possibly, a parting of the ways with Breitbart.com.

The takeaway. Never tell the truth. Never, for a second, admit that you find a person less that a certain age, sexually attractive. Never allow that gay male sexuality may begin with a moment with an older man. The girls in the class room front row are quite sure that you have sinned even though you are sinned against. If you are straight, make sure you lust after only age appropriate women. Because, otherwise, whether you act on your impulses or not, you’re a perv. Even talking about the beauty of youth makes you a paedophile or worse.

What we are seeing here is a moral panic attached to a political agenda: the left have no counter to MILO, nor do the Rinos. Time to smear. And smear they have.

[And yes, I write that as the father of two “underage sons” who I will protect as well as I can from predatory men or women. But I am not enough of a hypocrite to pretend I have no idea what MILO is talking about. My fond wish is that my sons are as lucky as I was and able to avoid the paedophiles.  But there are no guarantees. Other than keeping your boys in a cotton box, the reality is that there are lots of nasty people out there. And worse, some very nice ones. Innocence is more often lost to the nice than the nasty.)

Tagged

Prostitution: Canada = Sweden

Canadian prostitution law
Made in Canada prostitution law?

As if.

New legislation would criminalize the purchase of sexual services, crack down on those who benefit from prostitution and outlaw the sale of sex near schools and other places where children gather.

Justice Minister Peter MacKay says the “made-in-Canada” model targets johns and pimps while protecting the vulnerable. vancouver sun

The DOJ newser is a bit more explicit. Peter MacKay wants to criminalize speech as much as he wants to “reduce demand” for prostitute’s services. I quote at length as the actual legislation has not been tabled.

The proposed new prostitution-related offences are aimed at reducing demand for sexual services, protecting those who sell those services from exploitation, and protecting children and our communities from exposure to prostitution.

Purchasing sexual services – This new offence would prohibit the purchase of sexual services and communicating in any place for that purpose. Maximum penalties for purchasing sexual services would be 18 months imprisonment on summary conviction and 5 years imprisonment on indictment. Escalating mandatory minimum fines for first and subsequent offences would also apply. There would be a $500 fine for a first offence and a $1,000 fine for a subsequent offence on summary conviction. These fines would be doubled if the offence were committed near parks, schools, religious institutions or other places where children could reasonably be expected to be present.

Receiving a financial or material benefit – This new offence would prohibit profiting from the prostitution of others, including through businesses that sell the sexual services of others online or out of venues such as escort agencies, massage parlours, or strip clubs that also provide sexual services. It would carry a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment. Exceptions would be made for non-exploitative relationships.

Advertising the sale of sexual services – This new offence would prohibit advertising the sale of others’ sexual services in print media or on the Internet. It would give courts the power to authorize the seizure of materials containing such advertisements, to order an advertisement to be removed from the Internet, and to require the provision of information that would identify and locate the person who posted it. Maximum penalties for advertising the sale of sexual services would be 18 months imprisonment on summary conviction and 5 years imprisonment on indictment.

Communicating for the purpose of selling sexual services in public places where a child could reasonably be expected to be present – This new offence would prohibit anyone from communicating for the purpose of selling sexual services in public places where a child could reasonably be expected to be present. The maximum penalty for this offence would be 6 months imprisonment.

This is pretty much the Nordic model with a few bits of censorship tossed in for good measure. It does not work very well in the Scandinavian countries.

First problem is that the effect of criminalizing the purchase of sex will tend to drive the trade underground. That might be the intention behind MacKay’s action but, oddly enough, a trade driven underground is a criminalized trade. Now, the logic underlying the SCC decision to strike down existing prostitution laws was that they put women at risk. It is difficult to see how criminalizing the purchase of sex will reduce that risk and, in fact, by criminalizing the purchase of a legal service the chances are that the purchasers will be extremely wary. In turn this is likely to increase the risk to prostitutes because the encounters will be far more furtive, customers will be less likely to be willing to be vetted, customers will use blocked numbers and customers will demand proof that a prostitute is not a police officer before money changes hands.

The entire question of what the actual transaction is will be a criminal defence lawyer’s playground. “sexual services” hmmm. A man goes to keep company with a woman in her apartment and things get a little heated. He receives a “service”. He is so grateful he gives her a gift. Has he “purchased” the service? Sigh.

Then there is the entertaining “communicating” provision. Vancouver went through this in, what, the early 1990’s where the girls were the ones not allowed to “communicate”. It is a futile task to criminalize “communication” when a nod is as good as a wink.

On to “receiving a benefit” for the sale of the sexual services of others. Easy to say, hard to draft, next to impossible to fairly enforce. There are girls who use Facebook, Linked-in and, for all I know, Twitter to advertise their services. Each of these internet entities make money. Will they be charged? And for outfits that are a bit more explicit, MacKay is offering a grand loophole “Exceptions would be made for non-exploitative relationships.” Snort. Prove that an escort agency “exploits” its escorts. I am not saying it doesn’t, what I am saying is that at a criminal level of proof the “receipt of benefit” is going to be tough to prove, but with the added requirement that the Crown has to demonstrate “exploitation” there will be no convictions of anything other than Richmond rub and tugs run by tongs using undocumented, forced, labour.

Finally, for extra laughs, we have this “This new offence would prohibit advertising the sale of others’ sexual services in print media or on the Internet.” On its face, and we’ll have to see the poor draughtsmens’ efforts, this is a rule against running ads for blowjobs. Now I know the poor, exploited women in the sex trade are universally abused highschool dropouts but, dumb as MacKay apparently assumes them to be, they will clue into the idea that “I’ll suck the chrome off your trailer hitch” should not appear in an ad. (Actually, I speak too soon, metaphor is not, apparently, banned as yet…no doubt in the regulations there will be a list of forbidden words and images.) This is a feckless idea which will do nothing at all to improve the safety of Canada’s fallen doves.

And, as the idiotic icing on a steaming turd cake, we have the “not in front of the children” provision. I suspect this is designed to prevent…what? Copycat behaviour? Mental anguish amidst the sexting 14 year old crowd. Mothers having to explain to their six year olds what that lady on the corner in the really short, shorts is doing. This is just moral posturing.

Like any stupid law the net effect of MacKay’s prostitution idiocy will be to bring the law into further disrepute. It will keep criminal lawyers busy, bring up lots of interesting constitutional issues, I mean can you criminalize metaphor?, and leave no one the least better off.

The Cons’ narrative is that women who are prostitutes are all, to some degree, victims of some sort of exploitation. This proposed law will not change that alleged fact one iota. But what it will do – as any good economist will tell you – is decrease demand at the margins which will, in turn, reduce price. The hundred dollar girl will have fewer dates at a maximum of $80 with the added cost of having to flash her tits to prove she’s not a cop. Now she will be an exploited victim with a little less money and much less dignity.

This is a tired Government. MacKay should go and get a job.

UPDATE: Michael Den Tandt thinks MaKay has made a mess of the prostitution law. But he attributes it to politics rather than stupidity.

The answer, likely, is that it creates a wedge, in an area where public opinion is mixed, between the Conservatives and opposition, in particular the Trudeau Liberals. The Grits really have no option but to oppose this. When they do, the Tories will portray them as a pack of drug-legalizing, prostitution-loving libertines, bent on transforming Canada’s placid, tree-lined playgrounds into havens of iniquity, debauchery and vice. Game of Thrones meets Don Mills.

It is, in sum, the Conservative party’s first big foray back towards the social conservatism of its Reform party roots, and away from the libertarian-leaning model that has worked for it for a decade. montreal gazette

UPPER DATE: I should think that under the terms of MacKay’s proposed Act, St. Jack of the Rub and Tug would certainly have been charged criminally…The Layton cock was not being tugged for free.

UPPITY DATE: In case you think I am late to the brothel, I wrote about this idiocy earlier here.

Tagged , ,

Nordic Muddle: Squaring the Canadian Prostitution Circle

With the destruction of Canada’s prostitution laws by our Courts the political classes have decided “something must be done”. And being dummies they are looking to feminist/socialist paradises like Sweden in an attempt to square the circle.

The Nordic model decriminalizes the prostitute – which is already the case in Canada – while going after the pimps, traffickers and, most of all, the clients.

The underlying premise here is that while prostitution should not be illegal per se it should be made, somehow, more difficult to purchase these perfectly legal services. Which is, in turn, justified in the name of protecting the poor, exploited, prostitutes.

What happens if you make an activity more difficult? Well, from drugs to pornography to gambling we actually know the answer: the price goes up. But how that price shift occurs varies across markets.

The advent of the internet has changed the sex business. Even street girls can arrange dates using texts and online advertising. But, if purchasing sex becomes illegal the entire trade will move to the net. (I have to bet there is already an app.) The girls left on the street will be the girls who pawned their smart phones.

Now, it will not take genius cops long to set up stings to roll up the johns online. And it will take even less time for the various “review” sites to start posting sting alerts.

And, within a month, smarter girls will keep payment and dates well seperated – easy to do when a john can transfer money to an unrelated bank account from his smart phone.

And then there is the fun of what constitutes an act of prostitution – cash for sex is not all that straightforward if there is an intervening “counselling” session. And where -as in the long ago days of communicating for purposes of prostitution – a comely police woman is used as the decoy it will make total sense for the customer to ask to a) see the merchandise prior to buying, b) take a few snapshots and store them somewhere in the cloud.

And so on. The law will be rendered unworkable because the political class cannot bring itself to make a hard decision: either prostitution is an evil to be erradicated or it is a business to be, to the degree justified by nuisance and such like, regulated.

Criminalizing a legal act between consenting adults because cash changes hands is philosophically incoherent. Just as you cannot square a circle you cannot frame a law to punish a permitted activity.

Tagged , ,

Prostitution is not Illegal

(I posted this at Kate’s but it seems to be hung in moderation.)

The prior state of the law was that prostitution was legal but associated activities were not. This meant that smart, pretty, girls could engage in a perfectly legal business and did. Dumb, addicted, ugly or simply desperate girls were are the mercy of the streets, pimps and cops.

By striking down the laws surrounding prostitution as disproportionate to the “evil” being prevented, the Supreme Court was actually noticing the effect of the criminalization of what was, at its core, a legal activity.

Now, if you do not like the exchange of sex for money you can lobby the Cons to make prostitution itself illegal. This will have two effects: it will subject the less successful prostitutes to greater risk and more harassment and it will, to a degree, raise prices across the board. It will not, of course, eliminate or, in all likelihood, even significantly reduce the incidence of women becoming prostitutes.

If the Cons are unwilling to make prostitution illegal – and I can’t imagine why they would want to as there are not a lot of votes in it – the alternatives are to go for no legal regime at all or to actually consider what law might address the evils so eloquently stated by the moralists above.

“Living off the avails” is a silly way to attempt to curtail pimping. A more sensible solution would be to create an offence which makes it illegal to coerce people – and it is not just women – into the sex trade. Make it a serious offence that could be added to other criminal charges.

The communications offence is just dumb in the context of a legal enterprise and will stay dumb no matter how it is tweaked.

The “brothel” offence is more a matter of municipal regulation than a concern of the Criminal Law. It should not be impossible to restrict locations in a discriminatory way. Think neighbourhood pub regulations.

The happy thought that somehow girls will line up to be licensed, examined and taxed is more than a little crazy. However, it might be possible to require identification and medical certification in licensed brothels. But, realistically, most of the girls will continue to work in the legal, unregulated, sector.

The illusions of using the law to regulate sexuality is a hang over from the moralizers of the 19th century. Both in England and in the United States the use of the law for “progressive” ends lead to the attempt to make prostitution, gambling, drugs, pornography and alcohol illegal. In every case, the only thing these laws accomplished to raise the prices to the point where organized crime became focussed on these areas.

The Suppression of Vice and the Promotion of Virtue is the motto of the Saudi religious police and do gooders everywhere. It never works and almost always creates misery, tyranny and crime. The SCC has made the right decision, now lets see if the Cons are smart enough to leave well enough alone.

Tagged , ,

3’s Company

William Martinez, 31, a married father of two from Georgia, engaged in the threesome with a friend and another woman who was not his wife, according to reports, when he died in March 2009, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Death is always sad…but one presumes that Will died happy.

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: