Monday 3 October 2011

Something hoist something petard.

It is with some interest that I have been following media reports of the alleged conduct of Ashton Kutcher, a well-known campaigner against sex trafficking. As has been pointed out elsewhere, the "problem" his advocacy claims to address is certainly hugely overstated and possibly being manipulated by people who are at least as interested in money and credibility as they are in philanthropy.

Interestingly, on Quora, which Kutcher has called "the smartest place on the internet" (you know, because academic journals and research forums are where the dumb kids hang out), there was a question not long ago which asked, "Why is it so common to include voluntary prostitution in the category of sex trafficking?"

Kutcher stepped in, as did others, in defence of the idea that foreign-born women voluntarily choosing to enter sex work - such as, say, myself (and yes, one of them did mention me specifically) are trafficked. Also people being transported over state and international borders, or something.

When you hear the word "trafficking", maybe you imagine a foreign child being kidnapped and sold into sexual slavery. Not only is that not accurate, it's also not what the lobbyists against sex work even seem to believe themselves. But it is an assumption they appear happy to exploit. As the Quora discussion shows, Kutcher and people like him claim that "trafficking" includes people going into sex work willingly and migrating willingly. In other words, equating consensual sex work with involuntary slavery. Actually a lot of other "rescue industry" types buy that as well. It's a stand with a lot of errors of logic, but it's their platform, they defend it, they own it.

Right. Now, let's check out an article from the Daily Mail dated 03 October 2011 (no link since Istyosty has gone now, HuffPo covers it and so does The Frisky, also it's screensnapped below). It includes quotes from someone who not only claims to know the person Kutcher allegedly cheated with, but who also appears to indicate that the presence of girls like her at celeb parties is, shall we say, not entirely without reimbursement.

Here's the bit in the Mail that caught my eye:

Naumoff, who arranges for good looking girls to be shipped to certain hotspots,  also told the newspaper: 'Sara’s a great girl. My job is to round up hot girls and bus them into clubs in San Diego or Vegas.

The girls get free booze, food, whatever, and they attract rich and famous guys to the clubs. It’s a two-way street. The girls get to meet rich men and the guys get what they want.’

Which is? ‘Sex, obviously.’

Is Naumoff paid to do this? If so, by whom? The Mail doesn't say.

You could be charitable and interpret this as kind of an introduction service. But then again, some of the men in question are already married. You could alternatively think this setup sounds an awful lot like people being reimbursed for travel and sex. Which might not only count as prostitution to some people, but trafficking as well. If you were the sort of person who was inclined to see things that way.

Me? I don't believe anyone who enters any kind of quid-pro-quo relationship, be it sex for money or naked hot tubbing for a drinks tab, and does so willingly, is trafficked. So far so sugar daddy. But read the Quora opinions, and consider what's being quoted in the Mail, and ask yourself whether you think this alleged situation would tick the rescue industry's boxes for "prostitution: trafficking" or not. Whatever would the missus think?