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Preview: Reason Magazine - Topics > Sex


All articles with the "Sex" tag.

Published: Fri, 20 Apr 2018 00:00:00 -0400

Last Build Date: Fri, 20 Apr 2018 08:47:33 -0400


Backpage Plea to Texas Sex Trafficking Charge Turns On CEO's Admission to Brokering Adult Prostitution

Mon, 16 Apr 2018 15:50:00 -0400

The classified ads site Backpage and its leaders now face more than 100 criminal charges between them. Many—including the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Texas Attorney General's Office—are reporting this as a confirmation that the company encouraged the sexual exploitation of minors. Yet all of the federal charges pending against Backpage executives are for money laundering or facilitating prostitution, not sex trafficking. The one trafficking charge in all this comes from Texas, where Backpage LLC plead guilty to "knowingly receiving a benefit from participating in a venture" that caused the compelled prostitution of Erika Brewster, then around age 16 or 17. On behalf of Backpage, CEO Carl Ferrer has entered a guilty plea to one count of trafficking in persons and one count of engaging in organized criminal activity (in addition to one count of money laundering on his own behalf). In a statement, Ferrer said he knew that the "escort" section of Backpage was largely ads for prostitution, which is illegal in 49 states and most of Nevada. But he does "not concede" that Backpage or any other defendant entities "had knowledge that the victim in this case...was underage at the time the advertisements of her were posted." Ferrer entered the guilty plea nonetheless, he said, because he was "aware that the Defendant Entities are guilty under the law 'regardless of whether the defendant knows the age'" of a victim. As part of the plea, Texas Assistant Criminal District Attorney Kirsty Melton recommended that Ferrer pay the victim restitution and pay the state a fine of $20,000 per defendant entity, as well as "take all necessary steps to dissolve and related companies." She did not recommend that Ferrer serve any prison time. Court documents in the cases against Ferrer and Backpage don't reveal any damning new information about the company, nor any new discoveries that allowed authorities to make their case this time—just the shrewd application of existing overbroad laws in combination with political and legal pressure. While seven other Backpage executives or owners are awaiting trial on charges of money laundering and facilitating prostitution, Ferrer took a plea deal, turning on his colleagues and turning over control of Backpage (and all of its subsidiaries, servers, information, and assets) to the government. In the end, all Backpage has admitted to is allowing a forum for adult sex-related advertising that was not impermeable to minors or those looking to exploit them. And nothing in this particular joint state/federal investigation, the draconian Senate subcommittee investigation into Backpage last year, or the years of federal civil suits and state-level prosecutions of Backpage has revealed more than that. But this time, Ferrer decided to break from his colleagues and play ball with the state rather than fight. In exchange for the plea deal, he'll provide information on the Travel Act and money-laundering cases against his colleagues, including Backpage co-founders (and longtime newspaper publishers) Michael Lacey and James Larkin. Money-laundering may sound sinister in itself, but it's one of those charges (like conspiracy) that our nation's cops and courts often abuse. In this case, Backpage originally accepted payments for its adult-section ads (as well as payments for other services on the site, such as preferential placement of ads in other sections) via typical digital payment mediums, including Paypal and all the major credit cards. But thanks to hounding and intimidation by various government entities, Backpage was forced to stop accepting all those payment methods. Illinois Sheriff Tom Dart intimidated Visa, MasterCard, and American Express into ceasing their relationships with Backpage, in a case that went all the way to a federal appeals court and wound up in a win for Backpage. In the end, the federal court held that Dart's act was unconstitutional. Meanwhile, the Obama administration's Operation Choke Point encouraged banks to cease business with all sorts of legal busine[...]

Is There a 'Rape Culture' on College Campuses? Watch the Debate.

Wed, 04 Apr 2018 15:02:00 -0400

"There is a rape culture on college campuses that creates an unsafe environment for female students."

That was the resolution for the Reason-Soho Forum debate at the Subculture Theater in New York's East Village.

Arguing in the affirmative was Michael Kimmel, the SUNY distinguished professor of sociology and gender studies at Stony Brook University and author of multiple books, including the best-selling Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men (2009).

Taking the negative position was Cathy Young, a contributing editor at Reason magazine, a weekly columnist at Newsday, and a regular contributor to the Jewish Daily Forward and The Weekly Standard. She's also the author of two books: Growing Up in Moscow: Memories of a Soviet Girlhood (1989), and Ceasefire: Why Women and Men Must Join Forces to Achieve True Equality (1999).

It was an Oxford-style debate, which means that the audience votes before and after the proceedings. The participant who moves the most people to his or her side is declared the winner. In this debate, the negative side argued by Cathy Young picked up 13.4 percent to win the contest.

The event opened with a standup routine from comedian Dave Smith.

The Soho Forum is a monthly debate series that's sponsored by the Reason Foundation, featuring topics of special interest to libertarians. The series aims to enhance social and professional ties within the NYC libertarian community. The next debate, held on April 16, will be "Fractional reserve banking poses a threat to market economies," featuring Robert Murphy arguing the affirmative and George Selgin for the negative. Buy your tickets here.

Oxygen Garden by Chris Zabriskie is used under a Creative Commons Attribution license:

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Can You Guess How Much Butt This Town Will Let You Show?

Tue, 03 Apr 2018 13:10:00 -0400

So, what part of the butt is the ass crack, really? As a legal matter. You see, a fight over scantily clad baristas in one Washington State community hinges partly on whether the average person can objectively tell which part of the bottom counts as the "anal cleft" and whether police could (or would) objectively be able to measure whether one is exposed or not. The city of Everett, Washington, is trying to get rid of its "bikini barista" stands with an ordinance that forces the ladies there to wear more coverage. The city claims that these tiny stands where scantily clad women serve coffee are incubators of prostitution, public lewdness, and crime. They're trying to shut them down by forcing the women to button up. The stands are fighting back and won an initial injunction against the ordinance's enforcement in December. A U.S. district judge determined that Everett's ordinance was too vague in its description of what needed to be covered and thereby risked arbitrary enforcement issues. And the judge further determined that the law likely violated the First Amendment free expression rights of the women who worked there. Everett is now fighting back itself against the injunction, submitting a legal brief arguing that the judge erred on both counts. Its appeal calls for the judge to be overruled and the injunction dissolved. You'll never read a more boring 66-page document about butts. It includes four pages listing all the federal court cases used to bolster its claim that there's no real confusion about what counts as an "anal cleft" and that there's no evidence that the women are actually expressing anything in particular in their clothing choices. Below the fold, butts: The Everett brief says anybody who is confused about the anal cleft can just consult a dictionary on what the two words mean. Wikipedia and Wiktionary both have pages for the gluteal cleft and intergluteal cleft. Embedded are what somebody apparently thinks are helpful pictures. To the right is the image included for the Wiktionary article. As you'll note, it's really just a picture of a naked butt. A perfectly lovely one. But how much of it counts as the cleft? Where does the asscrack end and the butt cheek begin? As for the evidence in the brief itself, Everett does provide examples of other court rulings upholding ordinances and laws that control how much butt or butt crack a person can expose in public, including others that use the term "anal cleft." Let it not be said that Everett skimped on the amount of time, effort, and probably money to justify to the court why it wanted to ban butts. In the end … But … However, it's worth examining more closely why the city is so determined to hide the rear cleavage. The lawsuit insists that the city has been unsuccessful in stopping other criminal activity happening around the coffee stands—prostitution, lewd conduct, drug abuse, and sexual assault—so a new ordinance was necessary. Even though these other laws were already on the books, the sight of a woman's butt crack apparently deprived customers of all capacity to decide for themselves whether to follow the law. I'm not even kidding here. At one point, the brief accuses one stand owner of corrupting "Snohomish County Deputy Darrell O'Neill by trading sexual favors in return for law enforcement information." He apparently was helpless to resist in the face of all that sweet lady butt. While I'm not blind to complaints by the neighbors about all the public lewdness happening (these are frequently walk-up stands, not indoor locations) and any actual victimization that may have occurred, the city here has focused on bans as a solution, which just makes a black market for butts. And that's just silly. All the time and money Everett has spent here could have been used to figure out a way for customers to get their coffee with a side order of booty while minimizing exposure for those who don't want to see it. So here's a challenge for readers: Which of the ladies below would pass muster in an "obj[...]

Hours After FOSTA Passes, Reddit Bans 'Escorts' and 'SugarDaddy' Communities

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 10:35:00 -0400

Sometime around 2 a.m. last night, Reddit banned several long-running sex worker forums from the platform. The move comes just hours after the Senate passed a bill making digital facilitation of prostitution a federal crime. Under the new law, social media sites and other hubs of user-generated content can be held criminally liable. For months, sex workers have warned that the passage of "SESTA" or "FOSTA"—two similarly bad bills that were competing for dominance; FOSTA passed yesterday—would mark the end of all online forums for communication with clients, lawyers, or each other. To sex workers like Liara Roux, Louise Partridge, and Jiz Lee, Reddit's takedown of these subreddits confirmed their fears about the new legislation. Even if individuals aren't targeted by law enforcement for placing ads, and even if individual cases brought by state prosecutors are struck down as unconstitutional, a lot of platforms will preemptively ban anything remotely related to sex work rather than risk it. So far, four subreddits related to sex have banned: Escorts, Male Escorts, Hookers, and SugarDaddy. None were what could accurately be described as advertising forums, though (to varying degrees) they may have helped connect some people who wound up in "mutually beneficial relationships." The escort forums were largely used by sex workers to communicate with one another, according to Partridge. Meanwhile, the "hooker" subreddit "was mostly men being disgusting," according to Roux, "but also was a place that sometimes had people answering educational questions in good faith." This sub had a slur in the name and was mostly men being disgusting but also was a place that sometimes had people answering educational questions in good faith. Instead of increased moderation and a name change, it was removed entirely today. Dead canary. — Liara Roux (@LiaraRoux) March 22, 2018 If you visit the Reddit "Hooker" community now, you'll see a notice that "this subreddit was banned due to a violation of our content policy." The "Escorts" and "Male Escots" pages provides a little more detail: "This subreddit was banned due to a violation of our content policy, specifically, a violation of Reddit's policy against transactions involving prohibited goods or services." Reddit yesterday announced changes to its content policy, now forbidding "transactions for certain goods and services," including "firearms, ammunition, or explosives" and "paid services involving physical sexual contact." While some of the prohibited exchanges are illegal, many are not. Yet they run close enough up against exchanges that could be illegal that it's hard for a third-party like Reddit to differentiate. And the same goes for forums where sex workers post educational content, news, safety and legal advice. Without broad Section 230 protections, Reddit could be in serious financial and legal trouble if they make the wrong call. Some have suggested that the new content policy, not FOSTA, is to blame for the shutdown of the sex-related subreddits. But FOSTA may also help explain Reddit's new content policy overall. (Reddit did not respond to my request for comment Thursday morning.) FOSTA seriously chips away at Section 230, the federal provision that protects web publishers from being treated as the speaker of user-generated content. Proponents of FOSTA have insisted this is just a renovation of Section 230, not a demolition. But as Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)—who coauthored the Section 230 language in the '90s—noted yesterday, once you carve out a loophole for one bad thing (in this case, the change is allegedly meant to stop sex trafficking), it's easy for legislators and courts to carve out loopholes and justifications for everything. After all, murder is pretty bad. And everyone's pretty jazzed up about the "opioid epidemic" right now. Guns, too. Do you think Congress can resist asking if websites that facilitate these crimes shouldn't be just as liable as those t[...]

Live Debate 3/19 in NYC: Is There a Rape Culture on College Campuses?

Sat, 17 Mar 2018 09:30:00 -0400

(image) "There is a rape culture on college campuses that creates an unsafe environment for female students."

That's the resolution that will be debated at the next Reason-Soho Forum debate, which takes place in New York City on Monday, March 19.

Co-founded and moderated by Gene Epstein, the Soho Forum is "a monthly debate series that features topics of special interest to libertarians, and the series aims to enhance social and professional ties within the NYC libertarian community."

Reason is proud to partner with the Soho Forum, to livestream each debate as it happens, and to publish the debates both as videos and as episodes of the Reason Podcast; go here for our archive.

The Soho Forum is an Oxford-style debate, which means that the audience votes before and after the proceedings. The participant who moves the most people to his or her side is declared the winner.

Details on the event:

For the affirmative:

Michael Kimmel is the SUNY Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at Stony Brook University. Among his many books are Manhood in America; Angry White Men; The Politics of Manhood; The Gendered Society; and the best seller, Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men. With funding from the MacArthur Foundation, he founded the Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities at Stony Brook in 2013.

For the negative:

Cathy Young is a contributing editor at Reason magazine, a weekly columnist at Newsday, and a regular contributor to the Jewish Daily Forward and The Weekly Standard. She's the author of two books: Growing Up in Moscow: Memories of a Soviet Girlhood (1989) and Ceasefire: Why Women and Men Must Join Forces to Achieve True Equality (1999). A frequent speaker on college campuses, Young has also been a regular participant in the "Battle of Ideas," a unique annual weekend-long event in London that brings together speakers of diverse perspectives for dozens of panels on various issues.

Monday, March 19, 2018
Cash bar opens at 5:45pm
Event starts at 6:30pm
Subculture Theater
45 Bleecker St
NY, 10012
Tickets cost between $10 and $18 and must be purchased in advance.
Seating is limited, so buy tickets now.

The most recent Reason-Soho Forum debate asked whether sex-offender registries should be abolished.

More info on that here.

Click below to watch.

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A Jailed Model Claims to Have Evidence of Russian Meddling in U.S. Elections. Her Story Is Even Weirder Than You Think.

Wed, 07 Mar 2018 11:45:00 -0500

By now you've probably heard about the Russian model trapped in a Thai jail who claims to have hard evidence of Russia meddling in America's elections. Over the past week, Nastya Rybka's story has been broadcast by major media outlets such as CNN and The New York Times—and largely received like just another gratuitous twist in the MAGA plotline, another pretty young thing who claims to have dirt on Donald Trump and has every reason in the world not to be trusted. Rybka may turn out to know nothing at all about Trump, Russia, and election influence. But in theory, at least, she has a plausible claim to having obtained relevant dirt. She left a trail of evidence of her 2016 affair with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska—a Vladimir Putin ally and Paul Manafort business associate—across Instagram, Periscope, and YouTube. These posts led Russian journalists to discover that Deripaska had been visited on his yacht off Norway by a high-ranking Russian official, and led Russian authorities to threaten to shut down YouTube and Instagram if they didn't remove reports on this. And the Russian official was far from the only important figure that Deripaska met while Rybka was around, she says. Rybka now claims to have audio of Deripaska's conversations that could reveal information about Russia trying to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election. In a video from a Thai police car after her arrest, Rybka says she is "the only missing link in the chain related to Russia and elections in the United States"—a chain that links Deripaska, "Putin, and Trump"—and is "ready to provide" her evidence "to the United States, Europe, or any other country that can bail me out of Thai jail." Since Rybka's story hit the U.S media, many have cast doubt on her claim by virtue of its timing, assuming it nothing more than a ruse to get out of trouble in Thailand. But Rybka—who has said her real fear is being sent back to Russia—was alluding to sensitive geopolitical information before her February 26 arrest. "In my book 'Who wants to seduce a billionaire' there are many facts that hurt influential people of several countries," Rybka wrote in a February 22 Instagram post. "Some readers have reacted to it skeptically, believing that the book has artistic fiction. But friends, EVERYTHING there is a real story." The real story of Nastya Rybka's involvement in geopolitical intrigue is far weirder than has been widely told and may be more benign than many would assume. Seduction School Meets Geopolitics Neither the 21-year-old Moscow model nor her mentor seem to be political people. Rybka was hired with a cabal of other young models to socialize at one of Deripaska's yacht parties in 2016. She didn't know who he was at first, she said in a recent interview, but was interested in him because he was confident and powerful. Born in Belarus as Anastasia Vashukevich, Rybka has spent the past several years as a protegee of the pickup artist and seduction coach Alex Lesley. Along with a few others, Rybka and Lesley fly around the world teaching sexual skills and seduction techniques to men and women. Their books (both have authored a few) and social media accounts serve as marketing for these classes, by providing evidence of their prowess at seduction. But Rybka also seems to vacillate between viewing seduction as a "game" she is playing on poor billionaires and having a real attachment to her "victims." On Instagram, Rybka portrays herself not as a sex worker or companion-for-hire (as many places have reported) but a model, author, educator, and "huntress" with a passion for sex, travel, and collecting experience, not cash. She calls herself "the Goldfish"—a nod to her status as a catch for wealthy men who like to go "fishing" for pretty young women—and can be found defending Harvey Weinstein and opining that only a "sexually ill society" attacks "healthy" oligarchs and politicians for "fishing and entertain[in[...]

Brickbat: Indonesia Isn't for Lovers

Tue, 27 Feb 2018 04:00:00 -0500

(image) The government of Indonesia looks to be aiming to outlaw gay sex and sex outside marriage. The head of a panel set up to update the nation's criminal code says there is consensus to recommend those changes "but only if one of the sexual partners or their family members report the crime to police."

New Jersey Cop Fired for Having Once Appeared in Fetish Films

Fri, 09 Feb 2018 16:52:00 -0500

(image) Kristen Hyman has been fired from her job as a New Jersey police officer for having appeared in bondage and erotica films years ago.

The 31-year-old was first suspended from the Hudson County Sheriff's Office (HCSO) last spring, just a few days before her police academy graduation, when her past as a dominatrix and fetish-film actress came to light.

Hyman has said she did not appear nude or engage in sexual intercourse in these films. Her appearances involved things like smoking cigarettes and kicking (consenting) men in the balls.

Although there was nothing illegal about her past gigs, Hyman's superiors said she should have revealed them on her police-academy application. For a question about past work, Hyman said she had been an actress and model. Apparently this was not specific enough.

Hyman was suspended for six days before an administrative judge rescinded her suspension. She was sworn in as a Hudson County sheriff's deputy on June 8, 2017. But immediately thereafter, Hyman was placed on paid administrative leave pending further internal investigation of her work history.

On Wednesday, an administrative hearing officer made the decision to fire Hyman. Hudson County Sheriff Frank Schillari told The Jersey Journal he agreed with the decision.

But while Hyman's history of legal work is a firable offense to the sheriff, deputies engaging in illegal conduct like drunk driving and vehicular assault has not been deemed sufficient grounds for firing by Schillari in the past.

In 2005, for instance, sheriff's officer Aleisha Cruz was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol after repeatedly ramming her SUV into a date's car and then hitting the man directly once he exited the vehicle (he was not seriously injured). Cruz plead guilty and was offered placement in a pre-trial diversion program rather than jail time.

After her arrest, Cruz was placed on modified duty at work and forbidden from carrying a gun. But she continued to be employed as a Hudson County sheriff's deputy for at least three and a half more years—until a second drunk-driving arrest in 2009.

Hyman has claimed that the real reason for her firing was not her previous dominatrix work but the fact that she rebuffed the advances of HCSO attorney Robert Pompliano, 70, while she was in the police academy. "Mr. Pompliano made a sexual advance against [Hyman], touched her, kissed her, and she rebuffed him," wrote her lawyer, Doug Anton, in a letter to the administrative hearing officer overseeing the case. "For that he has jumped all over this opportunity to get her fired." Hyman has alleged that the push for Sheriff Schillari to fire her came from Pompliano.

'Family Values' Republican Accused of Paying for Sex Also Voted to Raise Penalties for Paying for Sex

Fri, 09 Feb 2018 13:25:00 -0500


Utah state Rep. Jon Stanard (R–District 62) proficiently spouted the standard family-values Republican fare. The married father of three may have also been paying for sex.

Stanard resigned "unexpectedly" on Tuesday, citing "personal and family concerns," said Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes in a statement. Stanard told the AP he wanted to spend more time with his father, who has terminal cancer.

But on Thursday, Stanard—whose now-defunct website touted him as a "lifelong social conservative" dedicated to preserving "family values" and "traditional marriage"—was accused in the Daily Mail by escort Brie Taylor of paying her for sex at a Salt Lake City hotel on two occasions. According to Taylor, Stanard reached out to her first in March 2017 after viewing her website. She was unable to meet then, but they did get together when he was back in town that June and again in August. Both dates correspond with times Stanard was in Salt Lake City for legislative committee meetings.

Beyond the (now routine) revelation that a so-called socially conservative legislator may have failed to follow his own ethical rules, the accusation is notable because it suggests another frequent form of hypocrisy. In 2017, Stanard voted in favor of a bill raising the penalty for soliciting paid sexual activity to $2,500.

"I was surprised when I found out that he voted in favor of stricter laws," Taylor told the Daily Mail.

"This is a Republican state so you have to stick with your buddies otherwise it will hurt your career but on the other hand, he is a john," Taylor continued. "It is hypocritical because he is supporting laws that make it stricter for other men who do what he does."

It isn't unusual for a public official to take a tough-on-prostitution stance publicly while secretly engaging sex workers' services. For instance, former Trump campaign coordinator and Oklahoma state senator Ralph Shortey, elected on a "family values" platform, was recently found in a hotel room with a 17-year-old boy he had paid for sex. And just about every week, there are news stories in which the same cops who help arrest sex workers also pay for their services or just demand sex from them.

Stanard's attorney attempted to blame the #MeToo movement for necessitating the legislator's resignation. "Given the current climate in this country with misconduct allegations and the way things are happening in the media right now," he told the Mail, "there isn't any explanation that my client could give that would overcome the shadow of these allegations."

What’s Hot in Porn Tech: Blockchain, Cam Girls, and Snapchat

Thu, 01 Feb 2018 10:45:00 -0500

Virtual reality is a dud so far, the Trump administration has been better than expected, and new technologies from the blockchain to Snapchat are helping the porn industry adjust to government regulations and give more power to adult performers. That's the gist of reports from a wide-ranging roster of industry professionals who spoke last week in Las Vegas at the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo and the Internext conference for adult webmasters. I attended the annual AVN event in 2016. At the time, virtual-reality porn was all over the Expo floor and porn-industry veterans were scared about the possibility of a Donald Trump presidency and a California rule mandating condoms. This year, I wasn't able to get out to Vegas. But the plethora of detailed dispatches put out by AVN make sure that at least the business side of these events doesn't just stay at these events. At both the AVN Expo and Internext, cryptocurrency, webcamming, social media, and age-verification were big topics, as panelists discussed the political, technological, and social trends shaping adult entertainment in 2018. Here's a look at how these trends are changing the way people produce, consume, and make money from porn. Power to Performers Since streaming online video got so simple, "tube sites" offering thousands of free porn clips have been frustrating porn-industry professionals, who expect—not unreasonably—to get paid for people watching their work. Performers and producers regularly complain that these sites are depressing their earnings (by offering free pirated versions of their paywalled videos) and their market potential (by flooding the web with amateur porn). But recent years have seen rising ​interplay​ between porn professionals and the tube sites as they attempt to find business models that will benefit both. AVN CEO Tony Rios told the Las Vegas Sun that the past year saw "a lot of cooperation with performers and the tube sites." Pornhub, for instance, just announced that Asa Akira would be joining Aria—former host of The Sex Factor and AVN's 2013 Female Performer of the Year—an one of the site's ambassadors. Social media has also been a big boon for adult-video stars and for webcammers, by providing a means for self-promotion and fan outreach as well as ways to make money directly. "Snapchat has become massive and performers are using it like crazy," Rios told the Sun. "And they're even doing premium Snapchats now, and finding a way to charge for Snapchat." Rios also noted that performers were effectively mobilizing their social presence for advocacy purposes. "We saw that with Prop 60 [the failed California condoms-in-porn ballot proposal] in 2016," said Rios. "The performers went to social media and they were able to affect legislation." For webcammers—most of whom work through a webcam platform like or Chaturbate—social media has made it possible to be more proactive in finding viewers, rather than relying solely on the platforms to bring eyes in. "Before cam models used to sit in the room and wait for the cam site to send traffic, but it's completely turning around as they take control of their brands on social media and with clip stores," said Jim Austin, head of business development for cam-site Stripchat, during one Internext panel. "They're like mini entrepreneurs with multiple revenue streams." The whole thing has shifted "the power...toward the models now" and "away from cam sites," he said. Camming from the @MyFreeCams booth at @AEexpo with @MxPraxisPhanes and @MissAvaPark !! — Momoka-Hime (@Momoka_Koizumi) January 25, 2018 Overall, the proliferation of marketing venues and opportunities to reach fans directly has shifted more burden to performers than before but also given them more potential too. Savvy adult video stars and web[...]

'Sexually Promiscuous' Professor at the University of Rochester Faces Censure Vote

Tue, 23 Jan 2018 09:30:00 -0500

Later today, the faculty senate of the University of Rochester will vote on a motion to censure Florian Jaeger, a professor of brain and cognitive sciences, for sexual misconduct. "Professor Jaeger engaged in a variety of inappropriate and unprofessional sexual or sexualized behaviors in his interactions with students," Senate Co-Chairs Mary Jane Curry and Kevin McFarland wrote in an email to the faculty senate that was obtained by Reason. "These behaviors had predictable and harmful impact on students." Jaeger, who was hired at Rochester in 2007 at the age of 31, is accused of having inappropriate relationships with multiple students, of creating a climate of sexual harassment within the brain and cognitive sciences department, and essentially of being a serial predator. The allegations against Jaeger, which did not become public until last fall, seem damning at first blush. One of his accusers, former Rochester Ph.D. student Celeste Kidd, said he constantly made her feel uncomfortable. On September 1 of last year, Kidd and six other academics filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleging a pattern of harassment and discriminatory behavior. According to this complaint, Jaeger made it clear that students who wanted to excel needed to please him, socially and sometimes sexually. He used obnoxious and objectifying sexual language, intentionally crossed boundaries with women, including undergraduates, intentionally humiliated female students, and knowingly made women feel physically unsafe; they got the sense that their discomfort excited him. He used illegal drugs with students and hosted hot tub parties. Kidd and her fellow complainants have also accused the university of retaliating against them. They filed an additional complaint in federal court on December 8, 2017. Student-activists have protested Jaeager's continuing employment at Rochester. Many signed a petition calling on him to be fired. One student even launched a hunger strike. Largely absent from the conversation is one inconvenient fact: Jaeger was cleared of any wrongdoing. Not once, not twice, but three times. It's easy to see why investigators repeatedly reached this conclusion: University policy did not bar professors from engaging in sexual relationships with their students until 2014, by which point Jaeger's objectionable behavior had ceased. That's why Rochester determined that while Jaeger may have crossed certain lines, there was no grounds to terminate him—a decision the university stood by even after the complainants appealed. Moreover, some significant factual assertions made at various stages of the investigation were deemed false during a subsequent, independent investigation conducted at the university's request by the law firm Debevoise and Plimpton. The results of this investigation—led by Mary Jo White, a former chairperson of the Securities and Exchange Commission—were released earlier this month. The document detailing the findings is more than 200 pages long. It recommends that the university make certain changes to its sexual misconduct policy. But it also concludes that "while there is no doubt that Jaeger, at one time, had a reputation as promiscuous—another aspect of his character that did not change from his years as a graduate student—Jaeger's characterization as a 'sexual predator' in the complaints is baseless." While Jaeger did indeed pursue sexual relationships with students before the university changed its rules, he was never accused of sexual assault. "We are aware of no evidence—or even allegation—that Jaeger ever engaged in sexual assault or any other nonconsensual sexual contact whatsoever." White and her team interviewed more than 140 witnesses, including 14 of the 17 graduate students and seven of th[...]

Sexual Politics Needs More Economics: Podcast

Mon, 22 Jan 2018 15:40:00 -0500

Does the fraught conversation around #MeToo and sexual mores need more Peter Suderman explaining that, well actually, we really should be viewing things more through the lens of long-tail economics? The question answers itself. Today's Reason Podcast, which also features Katherine Mangu-Ward, Robby Soave, and yours truly, veers headlong into such touchy subjects, including the generational divide over consent and agency, the gap between federal directives and on-the-ground adjudications of campus sexual assault, the efficacy (or lack thereof) of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and what Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has to do with National School Choice Week. Kick the whole shebang is a round of derision and glee about the abortive government shutdown. Audio production by Ian Keyser. Relevant links from the show: "Reminder: The Parts of the Federal Government Authorized to Shoot You Are Still Functioning," by Scott Shackford "The Government Shutdown Is an Artifact of a Broken Budget Process," by Peter Suderman "Vanessa Grigoriadis on the 'Blurred Lines' of Consensual Sex and Assault on Campus," by Nick Gillespie and Justin Monticello "The Fragile Generation," by Lenore Skenazy and Jonathan Haidt "Betsy DeVos Withdraws 'Dear Colleague' Letter That Weaponized Title IX Against Due Process," by Robby Soave "The Case for School Choice Is Overwhelming From Every POV Except One," by Nick Gillespie "To Reduce Campus Rape, Legalize Pot and Alcohol," by Robby Soave "Crowding Out Private Coverage: The Cost of Expanding Children's Health Insurance," by Peter Suderman Subscribe, rate, and review the Reason Podcast at iTunes. Listen at SoundCloud below: src="" width="100%" height="300" frameborder="0"> Don't miss a single Reason podcast! (Archive here.) Subscribe at iTunes. Follow us at SoundCloud. Subscribe at YouTube. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.[...]

Aziz Ansari, Bad Sex, and the Dangers of 'Relying on Nonverbal Cues or Mind Reading'

Mon, 22 Jan 2018 15:01:00 -0500

CNN asked me to contribute to a roundup of comments on "how to date in 2018." The prompt was last week's news about actor Aziz Ansari, who was accused of mistreating a woman—ignoring her nonverbal protestations—during an intimate encounter at his apartment. As I wrote in the CNN piece: What allegedly happened to "Grace" in Aziz Ansari's apartment was unpleasant, but almost nobody believes it was sexual assault. Most of the pundits who weighed in called it bad sex or worse, but not anything violent or criminal. Grace herself disagreed; she told that "after a really long time," she came to view the experience as assault rather than mere awkwardness. Ansari released a statement that said he thought the encounter was "completely consensual." It's not just the pundits. I was on Michael Smerconish's Sirius XM radio program last week when he revealed the results of a poll of his listeners, 95 percent of whom did not believe Ansari's behavior constituted sexual assault. Differences of opinion seem especially pronounced between older and younger feminists. Matt Welch highlighted those differences—vis a vis a feud between HLN's Ashleigh Banfield and reporter Katie Way—in a recent Reason blog post. I don't know the ages of the other participants in the CNN roundup, and I probably shouldn't try to guess from looking at their pictures. But opinions here seemed more mixed. Jaclyn Friedman, an activist, wrote that she hopes the #MeToo movement will "scare men into finally paying attention to women as people, whether that means realizing that they probably don't want to be hit on at work, or finally paying attention to what their female partners are experiencing during sex....No more excuses about not being a mind reader or women who aren't forthright enough." Katie Anthony, a feminist blogger, pushed the envelope even further: You need to know that when you take her back to your apartment, there is a part of her that wonders if she's going to die there. Not every time, not every woman. But enough of us, and often. The threat of harm is a flip of the coin with deadly stakes. A 2017 CDC report found that half of murdered women died at the hands of a current or former partner (or their family or friends). With this knowledge, we know we must say no; we also know that resistance could cost us our lives. Say no; go along. Be strong; be easy. According to Anthony, women can't really just say no—the threat of violence is always around the corner. She even deployed a "coin flip" metaphor, wrongly implying there's a 50-50 chance that a date ends violently. Roxanne Jones,* a founding editor of ESPN Magazine, took a much different position: The biggest takeaway of the Aziz Ansari story is that women and girls have to learn to talk, out loud, about our sexuality. It's time to shed the Victorian-era notions still clinging to women—even those who call themselves feminists—that make it shameful to tell a man exactly what we want sexually, and how we want it. It's dangerous to rely on non-verbal cues or mind reading to tell a guy you're OK with oral sex (giving and receiving) and making out on the couch but you do not want to go all the way, as did the woman who called herself "Grace" in the story about her date with Ansari. Speaking up is difficult but there is no better time than this #MeToo moment for women to find their voices, not just to expose real predators who sexually harass and assault women, but overly zealous men, as the Babe article portrays Ansari to be, who may think "yes" to a date at his place automatically means "yes" to sex.... I wrote a column in 2013 advising my college-age son to get a text message from women to indicate they had consensual sex. Just in case, as[...]

America Shrugs at Trump Paying Porn Star to Keep Quiet About Old Affair

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 17:15:00 -0500

Americans have hardly seemed to care that the president probably had an affair with porn star Stormy Daniels and then paid her to keep quiet about it. Let's hope that keeps. "You're not crazy," tweeted The Takeaway host Todd Zwillich on Wednesday evening. "The married president of the United States had an affair with a porn star when his son was an infant, paid six figures for her silence, and in the final analysis, no one really cares." The lackadaisical outrage over these antics—which supposedly occurred in 2006, and were reported by the Wall Street Journal on Friday—has spawned scoffing about how absurd our political frame has become. "Our government is so dysfunctional that we just learned the president probably paid thousands in hush money to cover up affairs with porn stars and it's, like, the 10th biggest news item," tweeted Vox Senior Reporter Zack Beauchamp, in another example of the genre. According to the Journal, porn actress Stormy Daniels was paid $130,000 by Trump's lawyer in 2016 to keep quiet about a sexual relationship between Daniels and Trump in 2006—once he was already married to Melania and she had recently given birth to their son Barron. In Touch magazine subsequently reported that Daniels had talked to one of its reporters about the encounter back in 2011, but the story never made it to print. In a not-long-ago era, this story would have some striking potential and some sticking power. It would be weaponized against the president, and dominate cable news. It would require commentary from key federal foes and allies. People would care. People wouldn't let the opportunity go to waste. But compared to Trump's many more substantive sleights against American values and all propriety, and up against the many real and imagined ways his administration has perverted the democratic process, a consensual decade-old romp with a porn star hardly registers. Certainly, nobody is surprised. Maybe curious, but hardly scandalized. Bombshell allegations and and behavior that breaks all bounds of traditional presidential comportment are kind of Trump's thing. The idea that the Daniels story could fail to faze us can certainly be read as an indictment of Trump and his associates, even if one isn't specifically concerned about the sex or the settlement. But there's also something reassuring about our collective failure to be so scandalized here. Do we really want folks to be focusing more on this than the more ongoing and direct doings of Trump and his allies? Shouldn't it matter that Daniels (who had plenty of interested press) chose to accept settlement money rather than dish on her tryst with Trump? Isn't it nice not to have to endless news cycles devoted to something with ample prurient interest but little relevance to almost anyone's lives? Perhaps Americans have exactly the right level of not giving a damn about this.[...]

No Right to Earn a Living Via Prostitution, Says Federal Court

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 14:31:00 -0500

(image) A federal appeals court has sided against the Erotic Service Providers Legal, Education, and Research Project (ESPLERP) in a case challenging the constitutionality of California's law criminalizing prostitution.

During oral arguments last October, judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit seemed somewhat sympathetic to ESPLERP's position, which relied on similar arguments to those used in Lawrence v. Texas, the case that destroyed the country's laws against gay sex.

But in an opinion released today, a three-judge panel wound up affirming the district court's decision to dismiss the lawsuit. The panel rejected the idea that Lawrence v. Texas "created a liberty interest that prohibits a state from criminalizing prostitution," ruling that "a relationship between a prostitute and a client is not protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment."

The court also concludes that sex workers' rights to earn a living is not violated by the criminalization of prostitution because prostitution is illegal and "there is no constitutional rights to engage in illegal employment."

Read the whole disappointing decision here.