Tag Archives: Providence Journal

Anti-Sex Crusade

no_sexThere are radicals in every group.  Radical Republicans, Radical Liberals, Radical Feminists.  What is unfortunate is when the media decides to focus on those groups and alludes to  them representing the larger majority.   For some reason these radicals are vocal minorities, sometimes bullying people in their own group who even share some but not 100% of the same views.

Donna Hughes is the perfect example of radicalism, taking over groups and media with scare tactics and propaganda.  As the force behind the “close the prostitution loophole” drive, she bullied women out of Rhode Island Coalition Against Human Trafficking, falsely promoted the idea that the Senate  did not pass an anti prostitution law (and they did as Senator Jabour and Senator McCaffery stated), she has attacked the 50 academics that support keeping indoor prostitution decriminalized, and she even attacked the women in the massage parlors (these are the women she is trying to help).

I understand that prostitution is a heated and controversial issue, but I have always been taught that time is  better spent  promoting your own ideas rather than tearing down the people that may have different ideas, and I find it incredulous that she would spend time attacking women that share some of her ideas but are not in complete lock step with her.

Now, it seems that Hughes has gone and attacked another women, this time not for prostitution or human trafficking, but for wanting to open a Center for Sexual Pleasure and Education.  The Phoenix reports

The trouble started with an e-mail sent a couple of weeks back by University of Rhode Island professor Donna Hughes, best known for her crusade to close the state’s prostitution loophole, to members of the city council. Utilizing the suggestive power of well-placed quotation marks, the missive read, simply: “Hello, A center for ‘sexual rights’ and ‘sexual pleasure’ is opening in Pawtucket,” and included the web site for the center. Deputy City Clerk Michelle Hardy said Hughes’ e-mail was the first time any of the council members had heard of the center.

The Providence Journal reports that

She (Megan) and her husband went to City Hall. They met with Mayor James Doyle and his chief of staff Harvey Goulet. Goulet says they seem like very nice people. He just doesn’t like what they want to do.

“You have elderly living near there,” says Goulet. “And, usually, the elderly are not too much in favor of stuff like that.”

Education?  The elderly are not in favor of education?  Good thing we have Donna Hughes an educator keeping us away from education!!!  How ironic.  Also ironic is the city not supporting a center for education when the state of Rhode Island is #1 in New England for teen birth rate, with Pawtucket being the 3 in the state.  The ironies are piling up when you figure in the fact that businesses are leaving RI at a record pace, one would think a city would welcome a new business.

With this attack on a business that A) is not a brothel B) is not part of human trafficking and C) women owned, I truly believe that Donna Hughes should not be able to cast herself as anything more than an anti-sex zealot.

I am sad as a feminist that this women is able to harm so many.  I will pray for her 😉

(Also for your information all links are included to the articles so you can read user reactions, if you visit the CAT website, you will notice that articles are written anonymously, or if they are newspaper articles they are in pdf form so viewers will not get to see the readers comments, another great way of censoring the public!)

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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.

To disclose or not to disclose that is the question…..

I always wanted to give the women a chance to answer the questions and allegations that were being asked and reported by the newspapers and the television stations.  It is difficult for someone to come forward to speak out, especially in the Asian culture.

DanielleThis is “Danielle”.  Actually “Danielle” is not her real name.  Danielle is actually the name of one of my college roommates.  (I changed the names of all the women in my film to women who I had as roommates at the ultra-Catholic Providence College, but that is another story)  When I was making the film I wanted to give the women a voice while not “outing” them.  Many of these women have children.

A few weeks ago the Providence Journal ran a story about a woman who was working through craigslist and was attacked by a customer.  The majority of this story reported how she did not want her name published.  I will not put a link to the story, because I do not want to spread the woman’s name even more, but here is a link to Waking Vixen a blog by Audacia Ray.  In this blog, the article is reprinted and names redacted.

Now the Providence Journal is the biggest and only paper in Rhode Island.  They set the agenda for RI.  They have obviously taken the position that they want to publish names of women, how can I work with them to get the message out that the women in the spas are not victims while protecting the identity of the women?

Today I met with one of the reporters who has been following the progress of the legislation.  I brought “Danielle” who gave an interview with the understanding that her name would not be printed.  Before “Danielle” began the interview, she was told that the story would probably not be printed because she did not want to give her name.  She was told that the only paper that could do that was the Washington Post or the NY Times, and that was for political insiders.  I sat there thinking it was ironic that newspapers could protect the identity of politicians but not prostitutes.  “Danielle” gave the interview anyway, and gave an incredible in depth interview on her own life and the workings of the spas.  She said she would consider allowing her name to be released, because she hopes that her truth will allow people to reconsider changing the law.

Before the interview I had “Danielle” dictate a letter to me that I can read when I testify at the next hearing on the bill.  I hope that her letter will  help a human face on the issue.  I will post the letter in my next blog.

Human Trafficking Rally/Protest

Signs and Petition

Signs and Petition

Yesterday I went to the State House where the RI Coalition Against Human Trafficking was holding a rally to support the Anti-Trafficking legislation.  They had a great turn out.  I gave out some postcards and invited some people to my film.

There were people there holding signs “Not for Sale”, and “Stop Selling Children”.  I don’t believe in the death penalty, but if I did, I would reserve the ultimate punishment for the Human Traffickers and/or child molesters.  I can respect people’s opinions, but there is no excuse for Human Trafficking, and I have never met anyone who has even tried to defend this practice.

I am in complete support of the new proposed legislation against Human Trafficking.  However, I do not believe closing the “prostitution loophole” will stop human trafficking.  (There is a difference between prostitution and human trafficking) If you look across the country, every state has prositution laws, and every state also has prostitution.  Our neighboring state Massachusetts has laws against Prostitution and when you look at the Boston Phoenix you see two to  three times the ads for “erotic massage” and “escorts” as compared to the Providence Phoenix.

The issue made the front page of the projo again today.  “A Call to End Human Trafficking” What is interesting is while I was there yesterday, most of the people who were protesting were protesting against the “prostitution loophole”, and if you read the article you will see:

“Two separate bills that would make prostitution a crime, regardless of where it occurs, have also been introduced in the General Assembly. The coalition — which is against prosecuting the prostitutes — has taken no position on those bills.”