Tag Archives: Donna Hughes

It is a 3 legged CAT!

Some of you who have read this blog for a while know I actually know the women in the spas.  I have actually been in a few of the spas, met the so-called “slaves”.  I remember it was almost a year ago when my cat Kolangi died and I brought his left over food to one of the spas because I knew they had a stray cat they liked to feed.

It is weird that story popped into my head when I learned today that CAT got a third member.  CAT, or Citizens Against Trafficking, is now a 3 person group that has never met any women in the spas, yet loves to talk to the press about them.  This 3 legged CAT has sent a letter to all the Senators today, responding to the 50 professors that wrote a letter against new prostitution legislation.

The letter attacks the professors who have signed, and since I know the source to be Hughes, I know not to believe 99.99% of it.   Back in May when I was on the radio a few times, Hughes and Shapiro wrote a 7 page paper on me.  Unfortunately I never got a copy of that paper, but when Dan Yorke saw it he said he would not  let Hughes or Shapiro say anything on it because it was an un sourced character assassination.  This is Hughes obvious m.o.  Attack and make up ridicules propaganda, stay away from the facts in the debate.  Hughes can not debate on facts because she doesn’t have any.

So lets look at pieces of the letter, I will disect some parts, but not link to the entire pile of shit the letter.

“Part 1 focuses on initial discoveries made by Citizens Against Trafficking researchers about some of the authors and signers of the letter. We found shocking information about what they stand for and the goals of their international campaign…The leading signers of the letter call themselves “sex radicals,” meaning they oppose any limits on any sexual behavior as long as it has the superficial appearance of being consensual.” My uncle could drink a 24 pack and not be as loaded as that sentence.  The repetition of “any” builds the sentence up and the “superficial appearance”  puts the cherry on top of that propaganda sundae!  Since I guess all is fair in a political war, I will now define Citizens Against Trafficking.  CAT is a trio of “radical feminists” some even “radical lesbian feminist” who oppose any heterosexual behavior as long as it has the superficial appearance of being a product of force, fraud, or coercion.

The sex radicals are very worried that we might achieve a “moral victory.” “Moral Victory” excellent choice of words.  CAT does not care about women who are working in the spas.  They want to impose their moral values on women who obviously have a different set of morals.  Even when you look at Hughes’ history and see her ultimate goal is to not only impose her morals but also profit once again from the criminalization of prostitution by setting up “John Schools”.  In California “Johns” are given redemption if they agree to go to “John Schools” and learn about stds and the lives of prostitutes. (Actually I might like to see a politician like Spitzer in a class led by Hughes just for shits and giggles)

I could go sentence to sentence and rip apart this pile of propaganda.  When you have no facts, when you have never talked to one women in a spa in RI, when you have no reason or logic on your side, you have to rely on emotional arguments based in morals judgments.    The tactics of CAT offend me as a woman, a feminist, and a Rhode Islander.  To use an analogy, I would say that Hughes and CAT are to Rhode Island and sex workers as Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church are to homosexuals.  (Actually, Phelps is more honest with his hatred and moral judgements and doesn’t try to blanket it in an a false idea of helping homosexuals.)   I am an artist, so I believe in freedom of speech, so even though I do not agree with Hughes or CAT, I believe they have the same right to freedom of speech as everyone else.  I just hope that people don’t confuse the propaganda and fear mongering for fact.


It is the Fight of the Coalitions!

When I started “Happy Endings?” the National Association of Jewish Women RI Chapter decided to start the “RI COALITION AGAINST HUMAN TRAFFICKING” or RICAHT.  I went to a bunch of their meetings.  It is obvious that I am against Human Trafficking.  I testified in favor of  the bill against Human trafficking this year.  This Coalition had a wide variety of people, men and women from various backgrounds.  Some were social workers, some from religious organizations, all were citizens of RI concerned about trafficking.  They were very adept in politics, and with-in one year they passed the first human trafficking bill in 2007.

It is unfortunate that this group had been hijacked by Donna Hughes and Melanie Shapiro.  People began to drop out.  Nancy Green, a nurse, Providence resident and concerned citizen was one of the first to go.  She wrote about her experiences in her blog calling the transition from their good work to a Big Anti-Trafficking Tent.

“I never wanted to be a part of a moral crusade using law as a weapon. All I cared about was legal protection for people who are trafficked, and punishment for the traffickers.

To fight immorality, I would use other weapons– reason, persuasion and example. Laws against immorality have never been very effective, and have often been cover for worse crimes. Remember the Scarlet Letter?

Morality, like patriotism, provides a convenient cover for other agendas.”

This year RICAHT decided to work for a new trafficking law.  They also maintained that they would not take any position on the two prostitution bills.  This angered Donna Hughes, and she spoke out against RICAHT bill, (yes the bill against Trafficking).  She then left RICAHT and began Citizens Against Trafficking with Melanie Shapiro.  From the CAT website:  “ This year, the Rhode Island Coalition Against Human Trafficking (RICAHT)  failed to advocate for the essential prostitution law needed to make sex trafficking law work.”

It is obvious that we have 2 coalitions.  One against Trafficking, and One against Prostitution.  I don’t understand why the “Citizens” group gets to use Trafficking in their title when the are actually focused on prostitution.  (And I think you should be required to have more than 2 people to have an official Coalition)   It is really unfortunate that a good group like RICAHT could be torn apart by radicals, and when the radicals couldn’t control it they could start their own off shoot with a similar name.  What is ironic is people think it is the Asian massage parlors that set up “Shell Corportation” to hide what they are doing.  It seems that this coalition is a shell corporation for Hughes xenophobia and hatred of prostitutes.

Who do you side with?

I guess it is not a surprise that I would call myself a feminist.  Some might even venture to call me a “Radical Feminist”.  I always go for the side of the woman.  Even when I watch game shows like Jeopardy or Wheel of Fortune I root for the women.  I would think that most feminist would be on the side of women, but they are not.  Donna Hughes, the “expert” in my film, has written numerous op. ed. pieces.  Just recently she wrote in the Providence Journal about “The Circus of Prostitution” and I called her the Clown at the Center of the Circus.   Professor Hughes essentially attacks the women she claims to be trying to help.  Not only does she attack their appearance, she attacks them for speaking for themselves.  Let me remind you these are the people she is claiming to help.    Even in her letter in the Projo Hughes writes how the Governor, State Police, Judge, Police, and Reps (all men) spoke compellingly, yet the women’s testimony turned the hearing into a circus. Now please don’t get confused, I think that Donna Hughes is a “Radical Feminist” just like me, but she always sides with the men, and that is something I can’t understand. I think that this is somewhat like the whole “House Slave” and “Field Slave” phenomenon, where Professor Hughes is the “House Slave” and I am the “Field Slave”.

It is really sad that Hughes showed her true colors in this manner, but what is even sadder is some people didn’t see this.  JoAnne Giannini who is the Representative who has put in the bill to re-criminalize prostitution has her heart in the right place.  She had been convinced by Hughes that there were women being victimized and forced into sex slavery.  Giannini wants to help the women, her heart is in the right place, but her brain is not.  For some reason Giannini thinks the women can not be helped or saved unless they are arrested and put in prison.  I don’t understand why she believes this so strongly, there are countries that have no prostitution laws and human sex-traffickers are convicted.  Beside that, the majority of human trafficking is for domestic labor, and we do not make cleaning houses or dish washing illegal to go after the human traffickers. I hope that JoAnne Giannini wakes up from the trance that Donna Hughes has put on her in time to stop this war on women.

Yesterday Donna Hughes wrote a new opinion piece on The National Review, but this time she toned down her woman hating just a tad.  (By the way, The National Review is the same publication that Hughes basically refers to George W. Bush as the first Feminist president)  In this opinion piece she does not attack women’s appearances, but she just calls them uninformed.

Some local and national anti-trafficking organizations have actually worked behind the scenes to oppose the desperately needed reforms. They blame the lack of trafficking prosecutions on lack of political will and inadequate police training. In reality, trafficking laws work only where law enforcement is empowered to fight prostitution.

Other groups, such as the Rhode Island chapter of the ACLU and Rhode Island NOW, have opposed passage of a prostitution law for ideological reasons. They support the decriminalization of prostitution and mistakenly believe that good trafficking laws make prostitution laws unnecessary….

It is an unspeakable tragedy that women’s rights groups and even organizations dedicated to fighting trafficking are failing to understand how basic prostitution laws help officials to identify victims and prosecute traffickers.

I think it is incredible that Hughes believes that she knows more that countless women’s groups, anti-trafficking groups, and 50 other university professors that wrote a letter to oppose the law.  And not only does she think that she is better informed than these people who range from those who offer direct services to human trafficking victims to those who have a PhD in these areas, she has the gall to publish an article saying  all of these people lack understanding.  No Professor Hughes, these people understand that in order to free women you do not put them in handcuffs.

Is the message setting in?

Today there is letter to the editor in the Providence Journal that calls for RI to “Regulate, License, and Tax” prostitution. I have reprinted it below, but check the link to read the comments. ( I always think the comments to these letters and articles really give you the pulse of the political will of RI)

I’ve been following the controversy over Rhode Island’s indoor prostitution laws for a while now. Although I’ve seen many impassioned statements suggesting that the women involved are virtual slaves to pimps, I haven’t seen any reports of anyone being arrested for slavery or holding any of these women in servitude. I believe there are laws against slavery in these United States.

Any argument that the police are powerless to investigate and prosecute these perpetrators is nothing more than a vote of no confidence in our police forces. Police departments routinely investigate, infiltrate, make arrests and prosecute a wide variety of criminal organizations. Why haven’t we seen any arrests in these dens of iniquity?

It may be that the women working there are just trying to make a living, albeit in a profession derided by a large segment of society and known as “the world’s oldest profession.” I’m amazed that any society would believe it could eliminate any activity of such antiquity.

The laws of supply and demand would dictate the failure of most of these establishments if the demand for these services did not exist. However their proliferation indicates a good portion of our citizenry prefers their “product.”

Rhode Island enjoys streets devoid of gaudily dressed women, flagging down carloads of “johns,” creating traffic jams.

It might better serve our community to regulate, license and tax this activity.

ED FATZINGER

Here is another letter to the editor from June 24th from Donna Hughes titled “RI’s Carnival of Prostitution”.  I commented on the letter here on my blog calling Donna Hughes the sad clown at the center of the Circus, but here it is with my corrections to her letter in Red.


AFTER MY EXPERIENCE at the Senate Judiciary Committee last Thursday, I believe Rhode Island is headed for a human rights disaster and nationwide political embarrassment. It is becoming apparent that the Senate is not going to pass a much-needed prostitution bill . Rhode Island will continue to have an expanding number of spa-brothels, prostitution of minors in clubs, and no law that will enable the police to stop it. Well, there was a bill  proposed that would have “closed the loophole” but the police, Governor and Attorney General didn’t think that it was tough enough because the women only got a $100 ticket.  I assume that using the law that would give the women a ticket would have given them the tools to stop this “human rights disaster” but it wasn’t worth it to them if the women they were trying to save didn’t get to go to prison too.

The hearing (on Senate bill 0596, to close the loophole allowing indoor prostitution) was a sordid circus, with pimps and prostitutes coming forward to oppose the legislation. Funny you use the word circus.  Circus is usually full of acts and  illusions.  For all the years I have followed this legislation all I saw was actors and illusions at all the hearings until the people who are actually going to be directly impacted by the law showed up to testify.  For years we there were people testifying about how the women were slaves, yet they never talked to ONE women in ONE spa in RI.  When we finally get to see the people are at the center of the debate you call it a circus?  I think all hearings before this one was a circus. When we actually get to hear the truth, you want to dismiss it.

Midway through the hearing, filmmaker Tara Hurley That Is Me! ushered in women and men she collected from the spa-brothels.  Men? I didn’t usher in any men.  I didn’t drive, transport, or go with any men at all, never mind men I collected from the spa-brothels. Why would I bring men with me?  When I testified I told the senate that if they were hell-bent on creating a new prostitution law why not do a prostitution law like in Sweeden where selling sex is legal but purchasing sex is illegal.  Why would I bring men to a hearing where I asked the senate to make them criminals? They settled in the back of the room. Somewhat later, the women made a dash out of the room and hid in the hallway. Hurley had to coax them back in to testify with an explanation to the committee that they are afraid of cameras.

One 53-year-old Korean woman who needed a translator to speak said she worked as a “receptionist.” She said she had never seen any women coerced into prostitution. But at the end of her testimony she revealed that she had previously been arrested for being a pimp.  Even if this is true an arrest is not a conviction, we see how police go into these places and arrest everyone on site.  The woman is a receptionist, get over it.  I think Donna Hughes just likes to throw around the word Pimp.

Then a man reeking of cigarette smoke and other odors came forward. When you can’t attack the argument attack the person. He was identified to me by Hurley as a pimp. LIAR LIAR LIAR, When did I identify anyone as a pimp? He claimed credit for the growth of the spa-brothels in Rhode Island for his now-deceased wife. Another Korean woman came forward and said she did “it” for depressed, shy guys who needed stress relief. She implicated construction workers, judges and lawyers. She proudly exclaimed that she does “it” to make money. Donna Hughes has no problem saying Pimp every other word, but can’t say sex.  I think this could be really interesting if  that was psycho analysed.

Then a tattooed woman, calling herself a “sexologist and sex educator,” spoke against the bill. She is also a reporter for a prostitutes’ magazine called $pread. (I couldn’t make this stuff up!) No, Hughes didn’t have to make up the fact there is a sex worker’s magazine.  Yes, sex workers can read.  But she makes up so much other stuff in her letter, it is great she points out the fact as the only thing she didn’t make up.

All of their testimonies were accepted by the committee without critical questions. I guess this sentence all relies on the word “critical”, because all the people I saw testify were questioned. Their outrageous appearance and statements muted the serious, precise testimonies of representatives of the Rhode Island state police, the attorney general’s office, the Providence police, and Richard Israel, a former attorney general and Rhode Island Superior Court judge Also all the people who part of their career is involved in putting people in prison, why wouldn’t they want more laws to do so?

Two senators, Charles Levesque and Rhoda Perry, who are known opponents of the prostitution bill, dominated the hearing Because they were basically the only ones left there, most of the senators left. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Michael McCaffery left and turned the hearing over to Senator Levesque, who seemed pleased and entertained by the cadre from the sex industry.

On at least two occasions, Senator Levesque has expressed his opposition to a prostitution bill to me in e-mails. During my testimony, he badgered me to make a statement I knew wasn’t true, until Sen. Leo Blais had to get out of his seat to calm his colleague down.  I think it is safe to say that Hughes will attack anyone that is not in lock step with her views.

Also during my testimony, Senator Perry challenged my report by reading to me from the work of Ron Weitzer, an academic advocate of decriminalized prostitution when it’s indoors. In a June 18 letter published in The Journal (“Some lurid prostitution myths debunked”), he called Rhode Island’s laws — and lack of laws — “a model for other states.”  Hughes was asked a question that compared both her and Weitzer’s point of view.  But I think more people should challenge her report.  She handed in a list of places that she believes are brothels and have human trafficking and she took her information from the internet. When she handed in the list she said you might have missed some because she didn’t get all the nail salons.  I guess the internet doesn’t have updated lists on nail salons.  I think Hughes might just have something against Asians.

I have testified at hearings in the State House on a number of occasions. And said the same thing over and over, propaganda to try to link prostitution with human trafficking. Never have I witnessed such a carnival. In April, I testified for the House prostitution bill (Rep. Joanne Giannini’s H-5044A) and the atmosphere was serious and respectful, even though there was opposition to the bill.

In contrast to the passive encouragement for prostitution in Rhode Island in the Senate Judiciary Committee, earlier on Thursday Governor Carcieri held a press conference calling for passage of the House bill. He was supported by state police Supt. Col. Brendan Doherty and the attorney general’s office. Freshman Rep. Robert DaSilva, a Pawtucket police officer, spoke compellingly about the problem of prostitution. He said there is more juvenile prostitution than he has ever seen before. Representative Giannini said that we do not want Rhode Island to be a safe haven for the sex industry, but then when the Senate bill passed and looked like it was going to become a law, all of them came out against the bill.  So I guess they are not “passive” in their encouragement, they are full on encouraging.  If it is not going to be a bill that throws women in prison, then they really don’t care about saving the children.

The end of the General Assembly session is near. From my observation, I believe the Senate is going to let another year go by without a prostitution law. This will be a tragedy for victims caught in the sex industry, a black eye for Rhode Island’s reputation, and a victory for the pimps. Here we go with pimps again.  Everyone hates pimps, and we already have laws against pimping in RI, so how is not putting women in prison a victory for the pimp?

Donna M. Hughes is a professor of women’s studies at the University of Rhode Island.

The Clown at the Center of the Circus

A Very Sad ClownDonna Hughes wrote a op-ed in today’s Providence Journal calling the hearings on the prostitution bill a Circus.  Why are these hearings a circus?  Because for the first time we heard the voices of the women that Donna Hughes was trying to “help”, (by throwing them in prison).

Now I know that Donna Hughes has never spoken to any of the women that she is trying to “help”, so it must have been a shock for her to actually see one.  To actually hear them ask not to be sent to prison.  To hear one tell of how she is a single mother supporting her two children and a sister.  Yes, Donna, if you want to help this woman, why don’t you listen to her.  She said that she can’t collect child support.  Maybe find a solution to that problem and then “Jul” might not be selling her body to support her family.

I watched Donna Hughes give her testimony.  She was up on the stand giving her credentials for over ten minutes.  The length of time it took for her to go over her credentials was more than any time she has spent actually talking to any women in any spa in Rhode Island.  But what can you expect from a woman who basically said that George Bush was the first Feminist President.    I wondered if this woman had any common sense at all.

Well, that question was answered today when an article came out today the Providence Journal on the Human Trafficking bill

One of the House bill’s vocal supporters, University of Rhode Island Prof. Donna Hughes, e-mailed a letter to senators last Monday urging them to reject the Senate bill. .

So, what Donna Hughes is saying is vote no on the human trafficking and yes on the prostitution bill?  What exactly does this woman want?  Lets arrest the women and not  the traffickers?  She may call the proceedings a circus, but she is the sad clown at its center.

Just one day until the big screen

Columbus Theatre MarqueI have had so much to blog about, but no time.  I also wanted to leave the last blog up so as many people could see it as possible.   I am a mixture of excited and nervous for tomorrow night.  It is not easy to put yourself  in front of so many people, to work on something for more than three years and put it out there for the world to see.

I did a showing at AS220 on Memorial Day weekend for about 40 people, and the response was great.  It was part of the Open Eye Film Series, and Donna Hughes was there.  We both debated our viewpoints on the situation in Providence, and then Donna Hughes sent out a letter to her listserv starting rumors about me.  “Hurley has been showing her film in sex industry venues (not human rights film festivals). ” This is just one of the many rumors that were started, and almost the funniest because Dr. Hughes saw the film as part of the Open Eye Film Series at AS220, part of a series of films that document social issues in Rhode Island.  But leave it to Dr. Hughes to make stuff up.

What is really surprising to me is when I started this film I had just been rejected from Grad school for Gender and Ethnic Studies.  In June of 2005 I was actually already taking classes towards the degree, I just had not applied.  I thought I wanted to be a professor, actually a woman studies professor like Dr. Hughes.  Wow, am I glad I got rejected.  Sometimes when a door closes it is in your best interest.  I know that it was in my case.

Medical Marijuana and today’s Dan Yorke show’s Indicators

Today Medical Marijuana centers became one step closer to being available in RI.  All that it awaits is the Governor’s signature.

The whole marijuana debate and history of marijuana has fasinated me.  Just like the “loophole” in the prostitution law.  I think that some of the propaganda used to keep marijuana criminal is similar to what has been used to keep prostitution illegal.  We are talking about adults doing what they want to do with their bodies right?

I put in the clip of “Reefer Madness” to show you how people with the best intentions use propaganda to try to move their adgenda forward.  We watch “Reefer Madness” now and laugh at how ridiculous it is, I wonder if people will look back at the situation going on with the link between prostitution and human trafficking with the same ridicule?

You can’t read any article in the paper about prostitution in Rhode Island.  It is always “Prostitution and Human Trafficking.”  It reminds me of how George Bush could not say 9/11 with out saying Iraq in the same sentence.  For years we were led to believe there was a connection, and then when none was found, we were told there was no connection.  Well, the same situation is going on here in RI.  The media and certain groups with agendas have decided to start a war on prostitution.  Since most people in the great state of Rhode Island don’t care what people do behind closed doors, going after prostitution would not get much traction.  If you talk about human trafficking, well that is a different story.  No one would support that.

For those of you who are new to this blog, let me give you a little background.  I am a grad school reject.  I was going to grad school for Gender and Ethnic studies, took one class before applying and getting denied.  I decided to make a film about the prostitution law in my home state of RI because it fascinated me.  I wanted to get all sides of the story.  When I got rejected from grad school I cried for a few days, but now I actually think it is great that I never got into grad school, if I did I would probably just be another student who recites stats and is beholden to a professors point of view.  I am completely independent.  All my opinions are my own, and formed over the four years it took to make “Happy Endings?”

There is a big difference between the Ivory Tower and Street Knowledge.  Donna Hughes is the “expert” that hails from the Ivory tower.  I guess you can say I am the “expert” that hails from the Street.

Today on the Dan Yorke show, Donna Hughes and Melanie Shapiro spoke on a film they have never seen.  I have sent over a dozen emails to Melanie trying to set up a showing to her and her Coalition Against Human Trafficking, but they never had time.  On the show, Dan said he had infront of him a seven page paper that attacked me in every way possible, “just short of breaking my legs.”  I am intrigued and honored that someone would write a paper about me.  I would love to see it.  It doesn’t hurt my feelings, I know she has to attack the messenger.  I remember writing seven page papers in college too, and I wanted to put in those papers anything that would give me a good grade and impress my professor.

What I want to put infront of the people of Rhode Island and anyone that reads this blog is this.   Look at the evidence. Here we have two women, myself and Ms. Shapiro.  Both of us are very interested in women studies.  Ms. Shapiro has a graduate degree, Ms. Hurley does not.  Ms. Shapiro is beholden to a professor, Ms. Hurley is beholden to no one.  Ms. Shapiro has never talked to any women in any Asian massage parlor in Rhode Island.  Ms. Hurley has spoken to numerous, 30 or more.  Ms. Shapiro uses terms like “there are indicators” that point to human trafficking”, Ms. Hurley has said there are facts that show the women I have spoken to have entered into this work of their own free will. Ms. Shapiro has watched spas from outside, Ms. Hurley has gone in and spoken to the women.

You can draw your own conclusions, you can point to the Ivory tower and use their propaganda to try and manufacture a link.  Or you can use commonsense and see that some people have an agenda.  Some people make more money than high priced prostitutes giving “expert” opinion on human trafficking and prostitution.  I have never made any money, I actually have spent over $30,000 making this film, bringing translators in to speak to women who were being arrested.  Even today on the Dan Yorke show a victim on Human Trafficking called in from California and disagreed with Donna Hughes and her viewpoint on the law.

I guess my point is this:  If there is Human Trafficking and all of these women need to be saved, why is there not one woman who has come forward to say she was a victim?  I am sure that she would have anonymity.  When Jerry Lewis does a telethon he puts his kids out there for all the world to see. It is a great way do a fund raiser and directly show the issue.  Jerry Lewis doesn’t go on the radio and say “We have indicators” he shows reality.  I wonder if the first thing you learn in grad school is how to skirt the issue with “indicators”?  Why have we not seen one victim?

Oh yeah, one more thing.  Today it was said that I was starting a Union for Sex Workers in RI.  I am a filmmaker.  In my opinion I think it would be good to have a union, and if anyone wants to use my film as a rallying tool that is fine with me.  When I was growing up, I lived with my va voo (portuguese for grandfather) he told me three things to live by.  1.  Always vote Democrat, they have done the most for our people (typical Rhode Islander)  2.  Always buy American (I just bought a car and it is a Nissan, but I bought it at an American dealership so I don’t feel so bad) and 3.  You gotta have a union.  I know unions are important, especially for people who can be exploited.  With that being said, I got into this because I wanted to make a film.  I still want to make films.  Documentaries are my passion.  I think bringing up unions is another way to cloud the issue, and what does a union that protects sex workers have to do with human trafficking anyway?