Thursday, May 14, 2015

Cosmetic Labiaplasty. That's a thing.

Having your meat curtains sawed off because how dare you have a human vagina in 2015 is an actual issue women are evidently facing. 

I think perhaps I'm done with planet Earth for a while.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Turning tricks at age twelve... A "Tricked" film review

"I just knew that sex got me attention and attention got me something that I thought was close to love."

These are the words of Danielle, a victim of human trafficking who began having sex for money at age seventeen. She tells her story in the documentary film "Tricked," currently available to view on Netflix. "Tricked" is an eye-opening look inside human trafficking in the United States, and how public perception of prostitution is not grounded in reality.

Danielle's story is gut-wrenching, but typical. Recently accepted to Northeastern University, the teenage Danielle thought she was dating a nice young man. He turned out to be a trafficker of young women. This is called "boyfriending in:" when a pimp courts a young woman as though he is a potential lover, then gradually convinces, manipulates, coerces, intimidates, or threatens her into earning him money as a prostitute.

Danielle started at an advanced age; most of the women her pimp was "running" began turning tricks at around age twelve, or younger.

"I started when I was eleven," claimed another girl, who did not want her face shown. "I used to make like $1500 a night because I was young and I rocked the real petite body..."

"My pimp took my virginity and I fell in love with him," she continued. "He was my first love. He was my everything. I called him 'Daddy Daycare' because had like nothing but minors in there."

Many viewers who begin watching "Tricked" will quickly realize they, too, have been tricked. A pragmatic view of prostitution is common, thanks to the myth that women choose the profession willingly to earn money, and quit whenever they want. This is sadly not the case.

In April of 2011, a Washington Times article analyzed a newly released Justice Department report finding that 80 percent of human trafficking cases investigated by law enforcement between 2008 and 2010 involved prostitution.

"Any commercial sex act performed by a person under age 18 is considered human trafficking, regardless of whether force, fraud or coercion is involved," explained the Times. Just as any sex act with a minor is a form of rape because they cannot legally consent, a minor working as a prostitute is by definition a victim of human trafficking.

Ninety four percent of trafficking victims are female. Eighty percent of suspects are male. And while blacks make up only about 12 percent of the U.S. population, they make up 40 percent of human trafficking victims. Also, 40 percent of human trafficking victims are children.

Journalist Nicholas Kristof explains the nature of a pimp-prostitute relationship in "Tricked."

"There is no business partnership. The pimps exploit these girls and control them and use violence in every city around the country... I think we sometimes have a kind of gilded view about what prostitution involves. One study found that workplace murder risk is 51 times greater [for prostitutes] than for the next most dangerous profession which is operating a liquor store. It's hard to square that picture with this notion of prostitution as female empowerment."

The only potential benefit of having sex for money - the money itself - goes directly to the pimp.

"The girl keeps nothing," said Cindy, a former trafficking victim. "Absolutely zero." Cindy was considered a "high-class escort," working in Las Vegas for large sums of money.

"It's a lot safer to sell women than to sell drugs," explained one trafficker.

Danielle agrees. "My pimp was never arrested. The johns are never arrested. I was arrested too many times to count... Nobody said to me, 'Do you need to talk? Do you want to be put in a program?'... And then my pimp would come pick me up and I would be working again within a few hours."

"I don't worry about it," said one john, a man named Hugh who proudly displays his PhD diploma on his office wall. "It's evolution. It goes all the way back. It's very, very common. So if you ask me why do I pay for sex, it's because I'm being human."

"The advantage of paying for sex," adds Hugh, "is I don't have to worry about being charming."

Though it's difficult to come to a john's defense, it's true that part of the prostitute's sales pitch is making their customers believe they enjoy their "work."

"Honestly the johns believe everything you say," said Danielle. "They believe you're having a good time. They believe that you love what you do, that you love having sex for money, that I was a college student just trying to work through school or get some extra cash... that you're just having a great time and really you're, like, in hell."

"They don't look unhappy at all," said Marc, another john, who hid his face from the camera to avoid his wife recognizing him.

Unfortunately the trafficking of minors is not on the wane, but growing continuously. One vice detective says, "When I first got to vice, it was few and far between that you would run across a teenage girl... and now it seems like it's all the time."

The filmmakers go on to explore law enforcement's role in fighting the exploitation of women and minors in the human trafficking capitol of the U.S., Las Vegas. One undercover vice cop at the Las Vegas Police Department told the story of a pregnant teenage prostitute whose pimp "made her douche with bleach. It was very painful and when that didn't work he beat her which caused the miscarriage... She had to undergo a full hysterectomy." The girl was about sixteen at the time.

Robert Money, a pimp, explained why pregnancy was a problem for men in his profession."Who want to buy [sex from a prostitute] and the belly stickin' out like this?... It has to be in selling condition, selling order, you know?... You have to make sure the commodity is sellable."

"I got every major credit card," continued Money, producing a stack of cards and a bag of jewelry. "And I got a lot of problems, but money is not one of them."

"Sometimes if I didn't make the right amount of money I'd get beat with, like, extensions cords, bats, hammers," said the young woman who began prostituting at age eleven. "He used to threaten me about my family like he'll go kill them, he'll kill me if I go back, he'll blow my house up."

Threats against family are par for the course for human traffickers. These threats, plus the intense shame felt by victims once they begin having sex for money, plays a large role in keeping trafficked women and girls from fleeing their captors and returning home.

Brooke, like many teenage trafficking victims, met her pimp on She agreed to meet him in Las Vegas, imagining a whirlwind getaway with a new boyfriend. "The third morning, that's when s**t got real," she said. "He started talking to me like I wasn't a person."

Her captor forced Brooke to call her family and say she was safe and having a good time. "I really, really, really didn't want to get hit. That's all I was trying to do was not get hit."

"I felt so ashamed because I knew on that third day what he was trying to make me do," said Brooke. "'You're gonna be a whore, you're gonna be my ho... and you don't have any [expletive] say in it because I've already got you here.'"

"I just wanted my daddy."

Eventually Brooke was able to leave her trafficker and return home to her father. Many young women are not so lucky.

Danielle, human trafficking survivor

"You needed a key to get out," recalled Cindy, the former "high-class" escort, of her captivity. "He took all our phones."

Las Vegas Vice Detective Chris Baughman cautions parents against allowing their children unrestricted access to the Internet. "The days of the daughter... being a runaway, being a drug addict, being a neglected child, we're past that. They're going after people's daughters from every walk of life." In other words: most young women being trafficked today, especially in Vegas, were trafficked before they ever hit the street, thanks to the Internet.

"These traffickers," Baughman adds, "wherever there is a link, wherever there is a way for them get in and meet your child, they're doing it."

According to the film, many factors contribute to the growing problem of human trafficking in this country, from former victims too scared to speak out, to an increase in Internet access for younger children. One vice cop said, "We're arresting the wrong people, quite frankly," pointing to an unfortunate emphasis on criminalizing the victim rather than focusing on pimps and johns.

Fortunately, films like "Tricked" are part of the solution. Its presence on Netflix is helping make a largely clueless public aware that behind the facade of "the world's oldest profession" we do not find much of the stereotype: hard-bitten, pragmatic, tough-minded working girls plying a distasteful trade so they can reap the financial benefits. Instead, we find victims. We find, in large part, female minors and minorities who have been tricked, beaten, intimidated, manipulated, and forced into selling their bodies not for money - that goes to their traffickers - but for a few more hours of respite from harm.

Danielle, though she was raped, sliced open with a knife, and beaten repeatedly, is one of the lucky ones who was able to escape her trafficker and move forward. Jamie, Danielle's mother, articulates her rage and horror at her daughter's abuser: "There's no difference in my mind between somebody who murders and somebody who kills someone's soul. And that's what he did. He stole that from a child."

The indelible scars on her psyche are apparent as Danielle tells the horrific stories of her days as a victim of human trafficking. "I feel sad for that person," she says, "but that person is me."


For information on how to help trafficked and exploited women and children, visit New Friends New Life.


Post by Kristen Hatten

Thursday, April 2, 2015

If You're Not A Misogynist, Don't Talk Like One

I'm a conservative/libertarian hybrid, and I have a lot of liberal friends and family members. This means I have spent more time than I'd like to admit defending Rush Limbaugh.

Most people who hate him don't listen to him. They just glean enough talking points from the media to decide they hate him.

I don't hate Rush. In fact, I agree with him about 95% of the time, and I think in many ways he's brilliant.

Then there's the other 5%.

A few years ago I heard Rush talking about PMS. He was quoting some study "proving" that PMS doesn't exist, and I wanted to punch the radio, because you can quote me four million studies, but it cannot erase my 20+ years of personal experience. I know my period is coming because I get weepy, angry, anxious, and ravenous. But apparently, according to the all-knowing "study," every instance of this has been nothing more than my hysterical womanly imagination.

You could probably find a study that proves the sky is not blue but maroon. That would not make the sky maroon. It would make you dumb for quoting the study.

Remember like a hundred years ago when women had "hysterics" and needed their uteruses purged of demons by male doctors? Yeah.

I guess I can sort of understand why scientists would want to study PMS for, you know, science or whatever. But what was the message behind Rush Limbaugh quoting this study? Clearly, it was something along the lines of "You broads have been using this as an excuse, and now science tells us it's total bullshit. You've been making it up all along."

Then there's the adorable thing Rush does where he adds an -ette to the end of professions when he's talking about a woman. Today he said "reporter-ette" and I almost wrecked my car yelling "WHY? 


It pisses me off not only because it's chauvinistic horse shit, but because it discredits everything else he says. How am I supposed to talk to women about Rush's learned, reasoned, sound views on almost every subject when he refers to female news anchors as "info-babes?"

Michael Savage is even worse. I consider myself a conservative on most issues, so I hate him getting to use the same descriptor. I agree with him 50% of the time or so. But I can't even accept that in my heart, because every five minutes he proves he's a lunatic. Savage spent several minutes on one show talking about how ridiculous it was for women to expect "period leave" every month.

As a hybrid breed of libertarian, I don't believe in requiring companies by law to provide days off for a woman's period. Like most things, I don't think it needs legislation. Watch the free market work. Offer "period leave" and you'll see female candidates flock to your HR department.

But that's not even the point. The point is the ridicule with which he spoke about the very idea of women needing two or three days off a month to have their periods. Well, guess what, buddy? I freakin' need two or three days off a month to have my period! Like a lot of women, my period has often been a Crimson Tide of pain and horror. I've experienced agony that would bring a strong man to his knees, and probably put Michael Savage in the hospital. (In fact, it's put me in the hospital. And I'm a tough bitch.) I've hurt like my uterus was trying to escape from my body, and I've bled like I had a master's degree in it. And I've done it all while not only working, but working RETAIL.

(Pause for dramatic gasp!)

And I'm supposed to shut up about it and keep working, because (a) periods are too grody and offensive to mention in public, amirite?, and (b) the fact that some women would entertain the idea of taking sick days for their periods is proof of how high-maintenance, whiny, and all-around annoying female employees are.

But of course this "misogyny lite" is not by any means limited to conservatives. Do you remember what enlightened liberal comedian Louis C.K. said about Sarah Palin several years ago? He referred to her "retard-making c**t," among other things. His enlightened comrade Bill Maher called her a c-word as well.

To clarify: Sarah Palin, at the time, was a vice-presidential candidate and governor of a state. Bill Maher was (and is!) a TV comedian who pays prostitutes for sex. But one of these people is the enemy of women everywhere, despite being a woman herself, while the other is a champion of freedom and equality.

"I'm not a chauvinist, but..."

"I'm not a misogynist, but..."

If you have to qualify with those words, rethink whatever you're about to say.

Look, I'm not the speech police. Far from it. I don't believe in "microaggression" or "checking your privilege" or any of that other neo-Orwellian nonsense. I think we should all say what we think and stop worrying so damned much about offending people. Meanwhile, I think the perpetually offended should get over themselves and realize that being offended doesn't make you right.

But there's a flip-side to this freedom, and that is: responsibility. So when I caution you to rethink what you're about to say, it's for your own benefit, not mine. If you're going to say things that make you sound dismissive or contemptuous of women, get ready to reap the whirlwind. Be prepared to get called out for it, and recognize that when you demean women in such nauseating ways, you run the risk of having everything else you say discredited.


Post by Kristen Hatten

Monday, March 30, 2015

People Don't STEAL "Non-Viable Fetuses." A Child Was Taken And Then That CHILD Was Killed.

Dear Colorado,

What. The. Frick.

America is mourning the death of Aurora Wilkins, and all we can wonder is how much legalized pot you’ve been smoking. I’m going to try to keep this charitable, but that might not be possible. 

Where to begin?

Firstly, I can’t imagine that any pregnant woman residing in your state could possibly feel that her child is safe. Once again you’ve shown us that the reckless killing of an unborn child is, well, no big deal. 

No murder charge for a reckless driver who killed Laura Gorham’s son when she was 34 weeks pregnant. No pressure on a hospital that refused to deliver 28-week old twins when their mother died from cardiac arrest. There was no first-degree murder charge for the drug addict who was driving on the wrong side of the road and killed Shea Lehnen’s daughter Lileigh, who was born alive but died within hours. (“While here the child was alive at the time of defendant’s alleged criminal acts, she had not been born,” the Appeals Court said. “Therefore, she was not a ‘person’ within the meaning of (state murder laws).” Derp, derp, derp, what? Is this some type of sick joke?!)

And now we sit in awe as Dr. Leon Kelly, of the Boulder County Coroner’s Office, tells Michelle Wilkins, who survived an attempted murder, that “the autopsy failed to provide evidence that the child exhibited signs of life outside of the womb.” So Dynel Lane, the psychopath who placed a Craigslist ad and then cut Aurora from her mother’s womb, leaving the mother for dead, really just wasted her time and will spend the rest of her life in prison because she forcibly removed and tried to steal a dead baby? 

Are you freaking nuts?

Why would a woman cut out a baby that wasn't viable? She stole the baby so she could say it was her own. That's your grounds for murder charges right there.  Her intention was to steal a LIVING CHILD. And in the process she killed that child.

How is that not murder? Oh yeah, because ABORTION. If you validate any of these precious children's lives then you'd be admitting that the unborn are actual human beings and that you've legalized the right to kill them.

Three times in recent years, a personhood amendment has been proposed. And three times Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains and Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado have spent MILLIONS of dollars to defeat them.  

And that’s not all. On August 31, 2010, Boulder County District Attorney General Stan Garnett posted on his facebook page, “In recent days I've picked up another important endorsement that I'm honored to have, this one from Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado. They cite my ‘strong support of women's health,’ and express faith in my continued advocacy for their organization. These people do important work, and I very much appreciate having them in my corner.” 

Later, on October 9, 2010, he wrote, “If you missed yesterday's debate between my opponent and me on KOA's Mike Rosen show, you can listen to it at this link, below. I'm really happy with how well our discussion went. On another note, yesterday I also picked up the endorsement of the NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado PAC. I'm honored to have their backing.”

And that is why Colorado doesn’t recognize these murdered children and prosecute those who have taken their lives. It’s because ABORTION, and it is obscene and you ought to be ashamed of yourself, Colorado. 

Any decent person would agree that we all deserve a fair shot at life, no matter the circumstances of our birth. But you’re not decent, Colorado. The abortion industry and pro-choice politics are making a damn fool out of you. 

In a haze of disbelief,

Brice Griffin 

(Mother to four amazing children here on earth, an aborted child who is dearly missed, and a miscarried baby that taught me about grief and humility.)

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Power of Our Body

The moment I became pregnant with my children my body stopped being mine and it became "ours," and to be honest it's still ours even though they're out.  

This is a revelation I had while reading a blog a woman wrote about getting "her" body back after child #4. I've said it myself, "I just want my body back." Women say it both while pregnant and after. However, my body was the first home of my children. I can't erase that. And while we don't think of a residence in terms of our mother's womb, it's certainly true.  

Additionally, when a mother is pregnant, cells pass from baby to mother and stay for decades sometimes. Part of Brian, Kate, Kelly, and Bridget are still a part of me. My body is our body. This gave me a sense of peace because achieving "my (old) body" is impossible but "our (new) body" is full of possibilities.  

There will be no more comparing pictures of how I used to look and feel to how I look and feel now, because that old self is truly gone- physically, mentally, psychologically, spiritually- and something more amazing has taken it's place. This doesn't mean I don't try and be healthy and active. It means I try even harder to be all of those things... because by taking care of me now I'm also taking care of them.


Guest post by Colleen Rafferty Ladino

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Jezebel: Because sometimes Internet slacktivism just isn't enough and you actually have to drag other people into doing absolutely nothing good for the world with you.

On today’s episode of “Jezebel Takes A Dump on Decency and Common Sense,” we explore a recent post by Sarah Miller titled “Buy These Pajamas and Rescue a Prostitute; Or, Why Rescue Brands Are Dumb.”

Before we get started, let me fill you in on what Jezebel is, in case you’ve had better things to do. Jezebel is a feminist wonderland of the Internets where one can go to find out which states are insufficiently stoked about abortion, and what exactly is the “average d**k size.” There is also celebrity gossip and mall makeovers. You know, feminism.

Anyway, Sarah Miller is super grossed out because a fellow female who happens to be a white Christian missionary decided to help underprivileged Indian women avoid sex slavery by giving them jobs making pajamas. Apparently, this is offensive because… well, I’m not exactly sure why. Because the founder of the company is probably blonde? May have pledged a sorority? Was ignorant enough to call the pajamas Punjammies?

It probably wasn’t the most culturally sensitive name she could have given the product, but whereas a normal person would go “Well, at least she’s helping actual women avoid actual sex slavery,” the lofty minds at Jezebel are instead scrutinizing the Punjammies promotional photo, wherein blonde women are laughing with a browner woman in a way that Sarah Miller somehow finds offensive, because they seem “nurturing” toward her.

[I]t bothers me that the Asian woman's attention is focused outward, while the white women look very helpful and nurturing towards her—suspiciously so, for an image with two white women around a woman of color right underneath the line "Created by women in India who wish to remain free from sex slavery." If this were a cartoon, the Asian woman might be saying, "I just love Punjammies" and the white chicks would just be cooing something like, "We're so glad we could make the magic of Punjammies possible! But if you want one of these stupid hats, honey, you're going to have to bring your own. "

If you’re really confused by what exactly is offensive about genuine concern, you’re not alone. Let me break it down for you:

Helping underprivileged women escape prostitution by giving them jobs: offensive.

“Helping” underprivileged women by getting offended on their behalf on the Internet: FEMINISM!!!

Let me break it down for you in another way.

Being white while other people aren’t: offensive.

Being white while other people aren’t and trying to help those other people: SUPER DUPER OFFENSIVE.

Sarah Miller’s actual objection, of course, is not just to Punjammies in particular but to like you know INEQUALITY and stuff. In other words: it is America’s stupid white privileged fault that the terrible tragedy that is sex slavery in India exists.

You can agree with this or not, but what you can’t do is explain to me how trying in all sincerity to help in a tangible way makes you worthy of unbridled sarcastic Internet scorn.

“If you're truly interested in fighting human trafficking,” says Miller, “you could donate a significant amount of money to a shelter in a region of your choice, or throw your time into advocating for decriminalization for sex workers. Or just start investing yourself in the full dismantling of the world economy, but know if your efforts work, it will probably suck for you.”

For the first few sentences I was all: right on. Those are great things to do. Then I got to the last suggestion (that one about dismantling the world economy) and I was all: really, Sarah Miller? And what will it be like for you? What will the skills of a professional Internet sassy-pants be worth post-financial apocalypse? I’m sure the unwashed, starving legions will be lined up around the block. “To hell with the doctors and engineers!” they’ll cry. “We need the biting wit of Jezebel to remind us which charities are dumb and what penises are supposed to look like!”

I’m afraid there are masses of people like Miller who would find themselves far worse off in a shit-hit-the-fan economy than even the most “privileged” female missionary who has managed to build and run her own business, even an evil, dastardly charitable business like Punjammies.

Miller has decided there is literally nothing helpful you and I can do to help the underprivileged that won’t be utterly offensive and condescending by default. The only good we could ever do is embrace whatever the Jezebel vision of “equality” happens to be, and talk about it hard on the Internet. Only that will keep us from ridicule and from being condemned as insensitive jerks.

But this is something we’ve already learned in our fight against abortion: you’re supposed to “help” women by clamoring loudly for “free” birth control and abortion on demand. Building a crib and offering to babysit? Shut your stupid face. We all know helping women for real is bourgeois and in poor taste.

The closest Miller comes to acknowledging any good done by Punjammies is a grudging admission that the people who founded and run the company are “almost certainly sincere.” But they also “openly capitalize on the dismal pasts of the women they are helping.”

Can we, um, give them some points for, you know, helping?

And just for the record: if I’m ever on the verge of prostitution and you give me a job so I don’t have to sell my body, you can go ahead and use my first name and a testimonial in your brochure or whatever. I’m cool with that. Sarah Miller says this is wrong because those women remain “marked.” But you know what leaves a more indelible mark? Freakin’ PROSTITUTION.

I wonder if the Punjammies gals would be offended if I asked them to sew a T-shirt for Sarah Miller. It would say “I majored in Women's Studies at a university that taught me how to hate white people and Christians and all I got was this lousy job at Jezebel bitching about people who are actually trying to help others in some small way instead of being Super Important Feminist Internet Journalists.”


Post by Kristen Hatten