Love & Sex Magazine

Whore Detection

By Maggiemcneill @Maggie_McNeill

This essay first appeared in Cliterati on September 28th; I have modified it slightly for time references and to fit the format of this blog.

Tyrannical laws, especially those against consensual behaviors, are supported by many people suffering from the delusion that these laws (or other, subsequent laws based on the precedent of the laws they supported) will never, ever be used against them or anyone they care about.  Of course, this is nothing but a naïve fantasy; the fact of the matter is that, as I have written many times before, a weapon once forged can be used by anyone who cares to pick it up; furthermore, once its pattern has been invented there is nothing to stop other tyrants from forging similar weapons to use against those they wish to oppress…which might very well include those who supported the first law.  Over and over again we see examples of prostitution laws being used to arrest women who have never been paid for sex in their lives; because a whore looks exactly like any other woman, and her “criminality” derives entirely from taboo motives for an activity which is completely legal otherwise, cops routinely arrest  “women who carry condoms, answer personal ads, wear sexy lingerie, go without lingerie, fail forced ‘virginity tests’ask a cop if he’s a cop, ‘act sexy’, go out after dark without a male chaperone, or even just ‘look like a prostitute’.”  In some parts of the US, some of these acts are themselves criminalized, leading to a bizarre and evil regime in which a woman can be arrested and convicted for “acting like a hooker” even if everyone agrees that no “act of prostitution” took place.

I’m sure most of you heard about this incident last month:

[Hollywood actress] Daniele Watts…has claimed she was “handcuffed and detained” by Los Angeles police officers because of her race.  Two police officers approached Watts and her white boyfriend Brian James Lucas when they were seen showing affection in public, the actress said…she refused to produce her photo ID…and was then handcuffed and held in a police car as the officers tried to figure out who she was…

Daniele Watts arrestNaturally, the police chief insisted that the cops acted properly (as police chiefs always do, even when an unarmed person is shot in the back or an autistic teenager is tased to death):  “Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck is defending the actions of officers who briefly detained and questioned an actress…following reports that she was ‘involved in a lewd act’ in a parked car…”  Setting aside for a moment that the initial reports said she was suspected of prostitution, not “indecent exposure”, it seems disingenuous to claim that their being an interracial couple had nothing to do with the harassment.  Here’s an account from a woman who, though she was eventually arrested for having the same name as someone for whom there was a warrant, was initially stopped merely for being a black woman in a vehicle with a white man, despite the lack of “indecency”:

…I rode shotgun in a pickup truck with…my friend, Nathan…On the way to the restaurant we drove too far and had to turn into the entrance of a very wealthy, very white neighborhood to get back on track.  Suddenly we heard a police siren coming from an unmarked SUV, signaling for us to pull over.  Before the arresting officer made it to Nathan’s car, two more unmarked SUVs and a police car joined them…Their first question was addressed to Nathan: “How do you know this woman?”…

In other words, prostitution laws provided a useful pretext for a stop.  Certainly, there are many such pretexts, including the hundreds of inane traffic regulations that actually exist and the dozens of others cops just invent on the spot.  But it’s telling how often prostitution laws are used as that pretext when it’s black women the “authorities” want to harass:

…Kantaki…Washington, Cydney Madlock and J. Lyn Thomas say a member of the [Standard] hotel’s security team accused them of being hookers.  The women had just come down from…[the] bar…and settled in the lobby when several men approached them and offered to buy them drinks…a security guard from the hotel whispered something in the man’s ear and ushered him away.  “After…he comes over to me and my friends and says, ‘Come on, ladies.  You can buy a drink but you can’t be soliciting,’…We were like, soliciting?  He said, ‘Don’t act stupid with me, ladies.  You know what you’re doing’…Dude, I’m a lawyer and these women are educators…Why the hell would I be in here soliciting prostitution?”  Outraged, Washington demanded that the guard give her his name and the name of his manager…When she and her friends approached the manager…they were met with indifference…Several weeks later, Washington received an email from…the hotel inviting her and “three guests back to The Standard for a bottle of champagne…followed by dinner…”  None of the emails…addressed the prostitution accusation…

Of course, they’re lucky he was only a rent-a-cop; otherwise it might’ve gone more like this:

A Galveston couple is suing three police officers who they say arrested and beat their 12-year-old daughter after mistaking her for a prostitute…Named as defendants are…Gilbert Gomez…David Roark and Sean Stewart…Dymond Larae Milburn went outside her home…to flip a circuit breaker about 7:45 p.m. on Aug. 22, 2006.  Responding to a call that three white prostitutes were soliciting in the neighborhood, the plainsclothes officers jumped out of an unmarked van…and one of them grabbed the girl, who is black…the officers did not identify themselves as police and…the officer who grabbed her, later identified as Roark, told her, “You’re a prostitute.  You’re coming with me.”  Her parents, Wilfred and Emily Milburn, heard her cries for help and came outside to see the hysterical girl hanging on to a tree and screaming “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!” while two officers hit her in the head, face and throat…Two hours later…emergency room…doctors found she had a sprained wrist, two black eyes, a bloody nose and blood in an ear…Weeks later, the girl was arrested during classes at…school, where she was an honors student…She was tried a year later on a charge of resisting arrest, but the judge declared a mistrial on the first day…Wilfred Milburn was arrested the…day [after the initial incident] for interfering with police and assaulting an officer…

super cop mind probing machineThe systemic racism of the American “justice” system is hardly a secret, and only a fool would pretend that the removal of any one law would do much to stop police abuse of black people; they would simply use another of the many laws available to them under universal criminality.  But just as legislative precedent can be used to build new laws, so can judicial precedent be used to overturn old ones.  The vast majority of the laws used to harass all people, but especially minorities, are those against consensual activities because they allow cops to stop, annoy, question, beat, chain and cage peaceful people who have done nothing to anyone else, based purely on cops’ whims and feelings.  To accuse someone of prostitution, a cop need not even produce drugs to plant upon his victim; all he needs is a prejudice or a wanking fantasy.  And the eradication of any such vile law is a step toward eradicating all of them.


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