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Responses to sex trafficking

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Elevating a comment from the Erik’s post:

 

The scholarship on sex trafficking portrays a much more complex picture of the sex industry. Pointing to this complexity is not a rationalization of human rights abuses. But it is necessary both for understanding what the problem of the sex industry is (presumably there are lots of very different sex industries, but this is an oversimplification), and for recognizing the humanity of the people within it.

 

This is very, very true. I would also add that Augustin’s worry about the ideological foundations of ‘rescuers’ is a reasonable one. There’s a good long history of moral panics over sexual slavery producing action and responses in response that do very little to address the actual problem but produce other, less than ideal outcomes. Worrying about the ideology behind the rescue is valuable even if the act of rescue itself remains a net positive.

100 years ago our country was in the throes of a moral panic about “white slavery,” which was largely (but not entirely) fictional and deeply bound up with a host of anxieties associated with white middle class masculine identity at the time. In particular it was bound up with anxieties about immigrants, and could be read as a precursor to the dramatic and draconian immigration restrictions that would arrive in the coming years. From a popular tract at the time, Ernest Bell (Secretary of the Illinois Vigilence Association) described the crisis in exactly these terms:

Unless we make energetic and successful war upon the red light districts and all that pertains to them, we shall have Oriental brothel slavery thrust upon us from China and Japan, and Parisian white slavery, with all its unnatural and abominable practices, established among us by French traders. Jew traders, too, will people our “levees” with Polish Jewesses and any others who make money for them. Shall we defend our American civilization, or lower our flag to the most despicable foreigners—French, Irish, Italians, Jews and Mongolians? (source)

The attempted rescue was a piece of legislation called the White-Slave Traffic Act, popularly known as the Mann act. This piece of legislation didn’t do much to actually rescue or prevent slavery, but it turned out to be a handy tool for the legal persecution of prominent black men whose status allowed them the ability to openly defy the sexual racial order of the day.

But things are different today, of course. For one thing, the trafficking in sexual slaves is an actual, real phenomenon. But there are still similarities worth noting. For one, the problem is exaggerated. I’ve talked to a number of students who think victims of sex trafficking is essentially synonymous with ‘modern slavery’. But it’s a trivial very small part of the larger problem of slavery, comprising 2-3% of the world’s slave population. Furthermore, it’s drawn the attention of the world of both NGOs and States in a way that no other form of slavery has. But the international effort to fight sex trafficking has resulting in significant state action, namely, the Trafficking Protocol to the UN convention on organized crime, signed by Clinton in 2000 and ratified by the Senate in 2005. It is often praised by its advocates as a blow against ‘slavery’, despite explicitly ignoring 97% of the world’s slaves. Another salient feature of the trafficking protocol is the (intentional) conflation of trafficked persons and smuggled persons. In other words, the enthusiasm for doing ‘something’ about sex trafficking was in large part co-opted by another goal shared by states but often contrary to the interests of human freedom; the ongoing sisyphean effort to “secure” borders against unwanted migrants. One can grant broad legitimacy to this desire without conceding that it lacks the moral imperative of fighting sex trafficking.

In part because the principle legal instrument to fight sex trafficking was co-opted by a desire to secure borders, the line between trafficked women and smuggled unauthorized migrant, already blurred in practice by unscrupulous smugglers (who owe their lucrative trade to the desire ‘control’ borders), is now blurred in theory and law as well. The result is a good deal of the agency of impoverished migrant women gets erased in the process.

While individual acts of rescue are (usually) a net good, it would be a mistake to infer that that goodness renders the ideological motivations and general attitude behind rescue unworthy of critical examination. In general, this issue is sufficiently and thoroughly fraught with complications; the kind of confident moral outrage about the right way to think about these things (and I think Agustin and many of her critics in the thread below are potentially guilty here) is almost certainly misplaced.

Recommended reading: Hathaway, The Human Rights Quagmire of “Human Trafficking”; Quirk, The Anti-Slavery project, ch. 8. On White Slavery and the Mann act, I recommend Grittner’s White Slavery: Myth Ideology and American Law.

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  • Dave

    Oooh, you said ‘trivial’.

    • djw

      You’re right to suggest that’s a poor word choice on my part, as I meant only to suggest quantitatively insignificant, rather than substantively insignificant. Retracted.

  • John F

    I’ve talked to a number of students who think victims of sex trafficking is essentially synonymous with ‘modern slavery’. But it’s a trivial very small part of the larger problem of slavery, comprising 2-3% of the world’s slave population.

    What happens a lot is that a “rich” family will essentially import a domestic servant from the 3rd world, take their passport, pay them half (or less) than promised, make them work like dogs, and never allow them to physically leave the rich family’s premises. The semi-illiterate 3rd worlder likely is scared witless and have no idea that their “employer” is bluffing (if indeed they are) about what will happen if they object to their treatment.

    • DrDick

      There is actually far more slavery going on in the developing world. In Ghana, a large portion of the Cacao crop is farmed by slave labor, much of it child labor. In India, enslaved child labor is endemic in the rug industry, commercial agriculture, and construction. Slave labor also plays an important role in the timber and agricultural industries in the Brazilian Amazon.

      • djw

        There’s some evidence that the situation in Ghana and the Ivory Coast has improved somewhat, but the larger point is accurate. Probably 70% of global slavery is debt bondage slavery in South Asia.

        • Murc

          Ah, debt peonage. Possibly the most venerable financial service in the world.

        • DrDick

          I forgot the Bahraini exploitation of foreign (mostly Pakistani and Indian Muslim) laborers.

          • LeeEsq

            Saudai Arabia and the Emirates are also heavily involved with exploiting foreign workers.

    • Murc

      In “Tokyo Vice” Jake Adelstein describes a similar model at work in japanese brothel-equivalents about fifteen or so years ago, but with the twist that the women in question had been deliberately placed into a legal grey area where they’d overstayed visas, which meant that if any of them went to the cops to report mistreatment, abuse, ancillary crimes they’d witnessed, etc. THEY would end up being arrested because they’d essentially be admitting to being in the country illegally.

  • c u n d gulag

    Rush wouldn’t be looking for illegally obtained V*agra, if it wasn’t for sex trafficking.

    Think of stopping sex traffickin – what it would do to V*agra sales?

    Not pretty…
    C*alis ads would be one old guy sitting in an antique bathtub on a cliff with an old Playboy.

    • DrDick

      Especially since the Dominican Republic is (or was at the time) a major center for sex tourists looking for underage children. At the time he was there, it was mostly for boys (Costa Rica and Brazil were the destination for young girls).

  • c u n d gulag

    Or, “trafficking,” even…
    Sheeeesh!!!

  • DrDick

    Thanks for this. A well thought out and supported post.

  • Reilly

    Shall we defend our American civilization, or lower our flag to the most despicable foreigners—French, Irish, Italians, Jews and Mongolians?

    I never realized that as late as 100 years ago people still lived in fear of the Mongol whored.

  • Name

    100 years ago our country was in the throes of a moral panic about “white slavery,” which was largely (but not entirely) fictional and deeply bound up with a host of anxieties associated with white middle class masculine identity at the time.

    I think you’re completely wrong about this. It was an extremely serious problem that affected thousands of women. If you read Herbert Asbury’s “Gangs of Chicago” he lists whole gangs that specialized in kidnapping and raping women until they were willing to submit to a life of prostitution. From p.269 (for example- and this is one gang’s activities):

    “In one week in the late fall of 1906 twenty-five women were [auctioned off] at from twenty-five to one hundred dollars each”

    P.270-271:

    “The most vicious of the white-slave gangs were those which found their victims among the underpaid domestic servants, factory girls, waitresses and department-store salesgirls, thousands of whom were struggling to keep alive on wages of from four to seven dollars a week. Starving for pleasure and amusement, and frequently for food as well, many of these girls were easy prey for the attractive women of middle-age and the glib-tongued, well-dressed young men who were employed by the white-slavers as ropers. The women offered the girls better jobs, and the men offered them romance, and took them to the theaters, the dance halls, and the wine-rooms. The end in any case was the same- the girl was eventually enticed into an apartment or a house, and having been “broken in” [i.e., systematically raped and beaten for days] was sold to a brothel. The extent of these operations was shown by the fact that during a period of about nine months in 1907 and 1908 the police arrested a hundred and fifty-seven women for roping and rescued three hundred and twenty-nine young girls from the bagnios. One of them, found in the House of All Nations in July 1908, had been sold by her brother…

    “Several white-slave gangs of this type had stockades and breaking-in places on South Wabash Avenue near Twenty-second Street. One at No.2226 was discovered in the spring of 1907 when a desperate seventeen-year-old girl fought off five men with a long hatpin; she had been brought to the house by Emma Mosel, notorious in the Levee district for several years as a procuress… Another clearing-house for white slaves at No. 2252 South Wabash Avenue was raided by the police in 1907 as the result of revelations by an eighteen-year-old girl who had been employed in a department store. On March 3, 1907 this girl was induced by a young man named Harry Balding, twenty years old, to accompany him to the Prima Dance Hall on Thirty-fifth Street. There she was drugged, and was taken to the place on Wabash Avenue and kept prisoner for three days, during which time she was attacked almost continuously by Balding and three other young men. After she had thus been brutalized she was sold for fifty dollars to Roy Jones and Barry Cusick and installed in their brothel in Dearborn Street.

    “In the latter part of May the girl wrote a letter to her mother and threw it from the window of the bagnio, and a passer-by picked it up and put it in a mail-box. The mother notified the police, and the raid followed. Roy Jones and Cusick were arrested in their bordello and the girl released, and at the Wabash Avenue stockade the police took into custody Balding and two other young men, one of whom was eighteen years old and the other twenty. Bill McNamara, the older of this pair, confessed that he had been hired by Jones to rape girls brought into the place, and said: ‘I know that a man who would do such a thing ought to be taken out and shot.’ Convictions were obtained in all of these cases, but the punishments inflicted were not very severe. Balding was fined three hundred dollars and sent to jail for one year, but the others were only fined, in amounts ranging from one hundred to two hundred dollars.”

    That is one American city in one nine-month period. The book discusses earlier examples of southern women being lured to Chicago by the prospects of jobs, for example. I think professional rapists getting $200 fines and 329 women in one city getting liberated in one 9-month period counts as something more than a “largely fictional” problem. But that’s just me, and maybe Herbert Asbury was just another Kristof because he chronicled this stuff 33 years after it happened in a book on American criminal history.

    • Historians have shown these stories of white slavery to be far more complicated. It sounds to me like this book is essentially just repeating the propaganda of the white slavery advocates.

      • Name

        The book was written 33 years after the fact and discusses actual criminal cases and convictions. If you think judges and the cases they decided were “propaganda,” I guess there’s no convincing you; maybe Al Capone and his predecessors like Johnny Torrio would’ve let all these nice young ladies go and the prostitution was entirely consensual, too.

        Worth noting, also, that the Mann Act was advocated for very strenuously by suffrage activists. Maybe the people who wanted women to have the right to vote were all white males like Kristof rescuing “damself in distress” too, though.

        • Name

          Seriously- find me a historian who says that Bill McNamara wasn’t a professional rapist, and that that case is bullshit. Find me one. Find one that contradicts anything Herbert Asbury said in that excerpt I quoted, for that matter. Or, dogmatically dismiss it because nameless historians have said it’s propaganda. We can play that game with any historical event, can’t we? Nameless historians can be cited to disprove any historical event as “propaganda”. It’s a useless way to settle a debate. “That thing you cited by is crap because nameless historians said so- so there!”

          • stuck working

            Name, if Asbury is your best (and only) source, then you’ll need to do better. Asbury proclaimed his own writing to be “informal history” that consists largely of apocrypha and anecdote. It was intentionally and admittedly sensationalist writing, not well-sourced history. Asbury’s the guy who wrote “Gangs of New York” – google around a little and you’ll see that it’s widely acknowledged his work is full of falsehoods.

            • Name

              Okay, so Google’s a better source. Got it. Thanks.

              Now find me an actual source that says THIS STORY was bullshit. Use Google if you have to. You have the burden of disproving the value of my source, not me.

              • Name

                Fuck it, I did your work and looked on Google. I found a corroborative source here.

                “From the court records and a confession I will give an example of how girls are shipped out of Chicago.

                “In May 1907, two men, one named William McNamara — the other has reformed since then — received a consignment of fourteen girls from Chicago, presumably to go with a southern musical comedy company. By the confessions of the men they got the girls by going to dance halls and dancing with them.

                “McNamara, who was convicted, had met a woman named Myrtle Bellevue, who posed as the leading woman of the theatrical company before the girls in Chicago. The girls were taken to Beaumont, Tex., and to the Bellevue woman�s resort there.

                “I repeat that Chicago by no means is the worst city in the country in the white slave traffic, although it has been known as the headquarters. Boston, New York, San Francisco, and other large cities are afflicted with it.

                That one also lists other cases. But maybe it’s bullshit, too, because nameless historians say every source I can find is bullshit.

                • Name

                  Ooh, another source. This one’s a 228-page book, but I’m sure nameless historians will say it’s bullshit, too, even when it’s quoting courtroom testimony.

                • stuck working

                  Congrats on finding someone’s scan of old propaganda, Name.

                  djw provided links to recent, peer-reviewed sources to support his argument at the end of the post. You don’t have to agree with him, but you should acknowledge that he provided sources for his view. Moreover, to me, it looks like his sources are much more reliable than the two extremely unreliable pieces you’ve found. It seems like you think these works are authoritative just because they were published.

                • djw

                  Ooh, another source. This one’s a 228-page book, but I’m sure nameless historians will say it’s bullshit, too, even when it’s quoting courtroom testimony.

                  The tract you’ve found is authored by Clifford Roe. This actually reminds me of another excellent book on the subject, Sin in the Second City: Madams, Ministers, Playboys, and the Battle for America’s Soul, by Karen Abbott. He was one of the leading advocates of the white slavery mythology,and cofounder of the Illinois Vigilence Association along with his friend Ernest Bell (racist dude cited in the post). As district attorney he spent a good portion of the years 1907-1910 looking for a good victim of the white slavers to champion and launch a major prosecution. A number of women told him what he wanted to hear at first, only to have their accounts whither under scrutiny.

                  The problem with treating this individual as a reliable historical source is an exercise I’ll leave to our readers.

                • Sin in the Second City is indeed a really good book.

                  I’m mostly impressed that you have time to read this much, unless you are secretly working on some Gilded Age/Progressive Era prostitution subject I don’t know about.

                • djw

                  I am actually working on a paper on modern slavery. I set out to add a few paragraphs on parallels to the white slavery panic and ended up reading much more than I needed to. No one’s ever accused me of being an efficient scholar.

              • Marc

                In a nation of many millions you’ll be able to find horrific stories. The question is how widespread they are, and you need actual statistics and research to back that up.

                • Name

                  I gave those, too. Or, read this 228-page book.

                  If my sources are bullshit, someone should prove they’re bullshit. Failing that, it should be conceded that this was not a “largely fictional” problem. I don’t think 329 women in one city in one nine-month period is “largely fictional.”

                • DrDick

                  I don’t think 329 women in one city in one nine-month period is “largely fictional.”

                  Moral crusaders make up statistics all the time. The anti-abortion and anti-sex-ed crowd are notorious for it.

        • 33 years after the fact? You are citing books from the 40s?

          Try harder.

          • Name

            You try harder. Cite ANYTHING.

            • Rosen, Walkowitz. See djw’s comment.

              • Name

                Fuck it, I’ll just do what you did and piggy-back off djw’s cites, since I’m pretty sure this topic will be dead and forgotten by the time I’ve enrolled in and completed the PhD in Anthropology you expect me to acquire in order to argue that you’re an asshole on a blog.

                This statistic seems like something Kristof could use.

                “In 1999, Kevin Bales estimated that there were 27 million slaves. KEVIN BALES,
                DISPOSABLE PEOPLE: NEW SLAVERY IN THE GLOBAL ECONOMY 8–9 (1999). Current estimates
                suggest that as many as 750,000 persons are “trafficked” in any given year. See Liz Kelly, “You
                Can Find Anything You Want”: A Critical Reflection on Research on Trafficking in Persons
                within and into Europe, 43 INT’L MIGRATION 235, 239 (2005).”

                “The trafficking of persons today can be viewed as the modern equivalent of the slave
                trade of the nineteenth century.” UN High Comm’r for Human Rights, Abolishing Slavery and its
                Contemporary Forms, ¶ 62, U.N. Doc. HR/PUB/02/4 (2002)

                Blah blah blah, Kristof is a chauvinist for giving a crap, so were the Progressives, so were the suffragists.

                • Name

                  Kristof could write a whole column using nothing but the footnotes in that paper. Thanks, djw!

                  Bales estimates that fifteen to twenty million persons are held in bonded labor in Bangladesh,
                  India, Nepal, and Pakistan. BALES, supra note 21, at 9. The UN Working Group on Contemporary
                  Forms of Slavery, on the other hand, estimates that there are between 44 to 100 million
                  persons in bondage in India alone. ECOSOC, Sub-Comm’n on Promotion & Prot. of Humun
                  Rights, Report of the Working Group on Contemporary Forms of Slavery on its Twenty-fifth Session,
                  ¶ 21, U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/Sub.2/2000/23 (July 21, 2000) (prepared by Halima Embarek Warzazi).

                • djw

                  The post that you’re ostensibly responding to openly concedes that sex trafficking today is a serious problem, even as it occupies rather more space in our discussion of contemporary slavery than it deserves to occupy as a statistical matter. Indeed, the numbers in your first quotation are precisely the ones I used to give the 2-3% figure. What this has to do with your enthusiastic embrace of a moral panic 100 years after the fact I have no idea.

                • DrDick

                  Name is all about moral panic and unsubstantiated hysteria. Facts and research have absolutely no place in this debate!

                • Tybalt

                  “The post that you’re ostensibly responding to openly concedes that sex trafficking today is a serious problem, even as it occupies rather more space in our discussion of contemporary slavery than it deserves to occupy as a statistical matter.”

                  You can understand, perhaps, why someone enduring a life of constant rape might “occupy more space” in people’s concerns than a life of enforced domestic service? Even if the latter were statistically more prevalent?

              • thebewilderness

                It bothers me that you are so dismissive of this.
                How many women would need to be trafficked into slavery in order for you to think it was enough to bother with? Women Church and State by Gage addresses this issue. She wrote the book in 1893.
                Calling it a myth does not make it so.

                • I’m actually not dismissive of it. I am saying it is way, way more complicated than Name or others make it out to be. That’s probably true in the present, it is very much true in the Gilded Age.

                • DrDick

                  I think the position of most of us here is that sex trafficking and the sex trade is a complicated issue and that actual sex slavery is only a small, if horrendous, part of the larger picture. Nobody is trying to deny its existence, but just to put it in larger perspective. Personally, I am much more troubled by the far more pervasive conditions of widespread poverty, lack of jobs or opportunity, and lack of female empowerment that drive millions of women “voluntarily” into the sex trade (which also fuel the trafficking in sex slaves).

                  I do not oppose or demean efforts to rescue women, though excessive focus on these (and there is evidence of just that happening), but feel they are grossly inadequate to the task and do not address the longer term problems.

            • DrDick

              He did. Repeatedly, but you do not want to hear what the actual scholarship says.

              • Name

                He threw a bunch of cites at me and told me to go read them. That’s really helpful in a debate that’s going to last, at most, a couple of days. Or do you want to check up on me in about 5 years when I’ve enrolled in a PhD program and received my PhD, so that we can discuss this some more? Do you teach a first-grader to read by throwing the dictionary at them and telling them to figure it out for themselves?

                Work with me. I’m not an idiot, despite your professorial name-calling. If you can QUOTE something that SHOWS that Asbury was lying, I’ll take it into consideration. I might even believe it. What I won’t do is accept your book citations on faith that they do it. For someone so intent on accusing me of intellectual laziness, you should be able to actually QUOTE something that shows I’m wrong.

  • djw

    Obviously, I included the caveat that this stuff did, in fact, happen occasionally. Indeed, the control of women by men for sexual purposes is an incredibly persistent feature of human societies, and the United States 100 years ago was no exception. The relevant question is a) why did people suddenly freak out about it, after decades of indifference, and b) was that freakout tied to an actual increase or change in the practice? Overwhelmingly, scholars of this period in American history answer the latter question with “No”, and the former with some account of the social change/urbanization/immigration and certain features of progessive ideology.

    Since you’re very upset about my lack of a bibliography here (although I did give you Gittner), I’ll provide more than my gloss on the reading. From a paper sitting on my desk on the subject (Loose Women or Lost Women? The re-emergence of the myth of ‘white slavery’ in contemporary discourses of ‘trafficking in women,’ Jo Doezema, Gender Issues 18:1 (2000)):

    Contemporary historians are nearly unanimous in seeing the actual number of cases of ‘white slavery’, as defined above, as very few (Walkowitz 1980, Bristow 1982, Rosen 1982 [4], Corbin 1990, Guy 1991). Stories of ‘white slavery’, were in fact triggered by the actual increase in women, including prostitutes, migrating from Europe to find work (Guy 1991: 7).

    The works of professional history cited to back this claim include, but are not limited to:

    Bristow, E.J., 1982. Prostitution and Prejudice: The Jewish Fight against White Slavery 1870 – 1939, Oxford: Clarendon Press.

    Walkowitz, J., 1980. Prostitution and Victorian Society: Women, Class and the State, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Rosen, R., 1982. The Lost Sisterhood: Prostitution in America, 1900 – 1918, Baltimore and London: John Hopkins University Press.

    I also recommend Brian Donovan’s work (White Slave Crusades: Race, Gender, and Anti-vice Activism, 1887-1917, Illinois UP, 2006). Joel Quirk’s book, cited in the post, has a chapter on the subject as well.

    As to your point about suffragist support for the Mann act, I cheerfully concede the point. The suggragist movement was also largely in favor of prohibition. My view of the world is sufficiently complex such that I can imagine a social movement is capable of advocating righteous causes and dubious ones at the same time. Are you suggesting that the Mann act was a good idea after all, because some suffragists supported it? If not, what’s your point?

    • djw

      That was supposed to thread as a response to “name”, obviously.

    • The Rosen and Walkowitz books are two that I highly recommend.

      I next expect Name to cite “Traffic in Souls” as a documentary.

      • Name

        I next expect Loomis to cite ANYTHING. Or, just keep citing nameless historians, piggy-backing on other peoples’ sources, and insulting me.

        • Ruth Rosen and Judith Walkowitz have names.

          Now, you can go read the finest scholarship in the field and allow it to complicate your view of the Progressive Era white slavery scares.

          Or you can keep frothing.

          • Name

            You seem to think a blog-fight is the same thing as an academic duel between doctoral theses. I don’t. I quoted my sources. I don’t have the time to go out and read yours. Or will you post about this topic every day for the next several months, thereby allowing those of us who disagree with you time to order your books, read your books, and locate and read books rebutting those books? The Internet moves a bit faster than that, and despite your barbs I happen to have a life out of getting insulted by you for caring about women getting raped.

            • Actually, I’m completely indifferent to what you think about the subject.

              • Name

                Why do you think I care what you think, either? Why should anyone, for that matter?

                • Name

                  For Christ’s sake, man, this is a blog. Who do you think you are? A guy who writes for a blog. You’re not my professor, and if you were the only guy offering the courses I wanted to take I’d drop out.

                  You cited a lunatic in the last thread, and nothing in this thread has changed the lack of value of her inanities. Luckily, it really doesn’t matter. Kristof has helped to elevate awareness and changed public opinion; your radical feminist friend who thinks rape is less important than patriarchy is barely any more influential on this topic than you or I.

                • I have no idea. You are the one commenting on the post. Answer that for yourself.

              • DrDick

                Think would appear to be an overestimation of the neural processes involved here.

                • Name

                  Your blistering pile-on ad hominems don’t change the fact that you’re an asshole wasting his time arguing with me on a blog. If I’m an idiot, you’re an even greater idiot yourself that you’re wasting time calling me one.

                • DrDick

                  Which are actually more substantive and fact based than anything you have written.

        • djw

          I next expect Loomis to cite ANYTHING.

          Are you seriously suggesting these names don’t count because Loomis didn’t cite them first? Are you 12?

          • DrDick

            More likely 8.

          • Name

            I’m an asshole on a blog, same as everyone else posting here. I need quotes, not amazon book order forms. I’m not writing my doctoral thesis, here. I’m arguing with “djw” and some random blog names.

            • justaguy

              You clearly feel very passionate about this topic, but don’t feel compelled to read anything that can’t readily be found via google about it. How does that work? If you want to have an informed opinion, you need to actually work for it. That’s not, as you seem to be suggesting, elitism – that’s just a basic truth. No matter how self-assured you are in the moral purity of your point of view, that doesn’t automatically confer knowledge of the historiography of Gilded Age prostitution.

              • Name

                You clearly feel very passionate about this topic, but don’t feel compelled to read anything that can’t readily be found via google about it. How does that work? If you want to have an informed opinion, you need to actually work for it. That’s not, as you seem to be suggesting, elitism – that’s just a basic truth. No matter how self-assured you are in the moral purity of your point of view, that doesn’t automatically confer knowledge of the historiography of Gilded Age prostitution.

                Well, I cited my sources, AND quoted them, asshole. That’s more than anyone else has done around here. Sorry I can’t stop time for the entire world while I go get my PhD and come back with an opinion that you’d deem more informed, but there it is. When I’m quoting sources and other people are telling me to read some random pile of books, that’s not helpful in an online blog debate. If you think otherwise, I’m just going to start making random book sources and throwing them at you. By the time you figure out they’re fake, this debate will be long gone.

                • You seem to believe that the purpose of a blog comment section is to sling a bunch of shit against the wall, scream really loud, and I don’t know what. And who knows, maybe that is the case at some blogs. But here, with myself a scholar of the time period and djw writing a paper on the subject, and various commenters having some level of expertise on this or that part of the issue, that’s not going to fly. You can claim your sources from 1915 are totally accurate and you are citing them and whatever and you aren’t getting that Ph.D., so somehow a lack of education makes your opinion worth more? This is very unclear to me. But you are making a fool of yourself, not by arguing that Kristof is right and that Augustin is wrong, but by claiming authority from your sources while denigrating everyone else’s authority, even though it is far more informed than you not only are, but seemingly want to be.

                • justaguy

                  “Sorry I can’t stop time for the entire world while I go get my PhD and come back with an opinion that you’d deem more informed, but there it is.”

                  It would actually just take a couple of hours at the library. But are you seriously getting angry that people are just giving you their gloss on scholarship and citations and not actually combing through the books themselves to pick out the relevant quotes for you?

              • DrDick

                Hell, I have some expertise in modern human trafficking, including sex trafficking, and I know virtually nothing about the historical stuff.

                • thebewilderness

                  It’s pretty ugly. There were actual laws on the books that protected brothels from people who tried to get their kidnapped children out.

                • Name

                  Loomis,

                  I’m just asking you to QUOTE your sources. I’m not saying mine are more authoritative; I’m saying I can READ mine, and CAN’T read yours.

                • DrDick

                  I am not Loomis. I am not a historian, but a cultural anthropologist who looks a gender issues.

                • Name

                  I know you’re not Loomis. I was naming him because I couldn’t respond to him in his closed thread.

                • djw

                  NB: The thread to Erik’s post is, in fact, not closed.

                • Name

                  Justaguy,

                  It would actually just take a couple of hours at the library. But are you seriously getting angry that people are just giving you their gloss on scholarship and citations and not actually combing through the books themselves to pick out the relevant quotes for you?

                  No, I’m getting angry that I’m finding sources I can QUOTE, and no one can rebut them except to call me names and appeal to authorities I can’t read. You’re a lucky motherfucker if you live near a library. Not all of us have a silver spoon in our mouths in the form of easy library access.

                  So do the poor, unwashed, benighted, ignorant slobs of this blog a courtesy, and actually QUOTE the sources they’re not going to be able to find, if you think the sources they’re doing you the courtesy of QUOTING are shit.

                • justaguy

                  “No, I’m getting angry that I’m finding sources I can QUOTE, and no one can rebut them except to call me names and appeal to authorities I can’t read. You’re a lucky motherfucker if you live near a library. Not all of us have a silver spoon in our mouths in the form of easy library access.”

                  Ummm… I’m pretty sure that a trip to the library nearest to me with a copy of those books would be a few thousand miles and entail getting a visa. But even if you only live near a small local library, they should be able to get you more obscure books via an inter library loan. But you don’t really care about that, do you? You’re actually trying to make a virtue out of your own laziness – suggesting that the fact that you can’t be bothered to invest a few hours into researching a topic that you’re ostensibly interested in makes you somehow superior to people who have invested a lot of time and energy doing so.

                  Oh, and the reason that you find it so easy to get quotable sources is that you’re relying on things from 50-100 years ago that nobody bothers to protect behind pay walls. Contemporary scholarly books are, unfortunately, generally not online. This, as you find out when teaching undergrads, makes the least reliable sources the most readily available to someone who doesn’t want to take the time to actually do research and think critically about the information they’re tracking down.

    • Name

      Are you suggesting it was perfectly acceptable when a man could confess to being a professional rapist who raped a woman for several days, and he’d be sentenced to no prison time and a $200 fine? When a ring of professional rapists faced no punishment collectively larger than one guy getting sentenced to a year in prison?

      Ah, but nevermind. I’m seeing a pattern here: Kristof is wrong to care about women getting kidnapped and raped now, and Progressives and suffragists were wrong to care about it then.

      Cite the parts of your books that refute what Asbury wrote. I don’t have access to a public library at the moment, and I have better things to do than spend 6 hours reading your sources. I quoted mine; quote yours where they say mine are wrong.

      • I think it seems fairly clear to all of us that you do not have better things to do since you have spent an entire day arguing about this.

        I never thought I’d see someone here get riled up over taking the Progressive Era fears of white slavery super seriously, but I should have known better.

        • Name

          You started it, by citing a radical feminist who thinks voluntary prostitution is a more important issue than kidnapping and rape, and that anyone who thinks otherwise and tries to save women from being kidnapped and raped is a chauvinist asshole.

          Your belief that Progressives were also chauvinist (Nativist) assholes for caring about this issue is hardly surprising. Apparently, only PhD anthropologists are allowed to decide what social issues the public should care about, and how much we should care about them. God forbid journalists discuss sexual slavery without checking with by radical feminist dogmatists first, so that their motives and latent patriarchal tendencies can be investigated before they write about sexual slavery for the general public.

          • stuck working

            Thank you, Name. Watching your furious reactions to the presentation of evidence and sources in this thread has really helped me to understand the dynamic that is keeping that awful KONY 2012 video popular. You’ve been a case study in illustrating how people really do want to see themselves as the saviors of others (even if only in their own minds) and they will fight hard to keep that fantasy alive, even when presented with evidence that their good intentions are self-serving and counter-productive or based on falsehoods.

            • Name

              From your friend djw’s source:

              “In 1999, Kevin Bales estimated that there were 27 million slaves. KEVIN BALES,
              DISPOSABLE PEOPLE: NEW SLAVERY IN THE GLOBAL ECONOMY 8–9 (1999). Current estimates
              suggest that as many as 750,000 persons are “trafficked” in any given year. See Liz Kelly, “You
              Can Find Anything You Want”: A Critical Reflection on Research on Trafficking in Persons
              within and into Europe, 43 INT’L MIGRATION 235, 239 (2005).”

              “The trafficking of persons today can be viewed as the modern equivalent of the slave
              trade of the nineteenth century.” UN High Comm’r for Human Rights, Abolishing Slavery and its
              Contemporary Forms, ¶ 62, U.N. Doc. HR/PUB/02/4 (2002)

              • Name

                In sum, the number of slaves in the world is not decreasing, but increasing.
                Not only is traditional slavery far from being eradicated, but
                there are also millions of people—the collateral damage of modern economic
                and resultant social change—who have become enslaved out of a
                combination of “weakness, gullibility, and deprivation.”

                From p. 16.

                • DrDick

                  Those are estimates for all human trafficking, only a small percentage of which (2-3% according to djw’s statistics) is for sexual purposes (Kristof’s thing). Most of that is for labor.

              • stuck working

                Well, you’re right – that definitely proves there was rampant white slavery in Chicago in the early 20th century. Wait, what??

                • Name

                  I’m dealing with the Kristof issue now. I’m not going to research an Anthropology/Criminal History degree just to argue with an anonymous blog commenter. My sources are good enough to prove the problem existed, and the McNamara case and the police records are unrebutted. And from reading the one djw source I can read without spending money on amazon.com, I don’t see anything in it that refutes Asbury. I’m not going to read 15 books to squabble over the topic, any more than you’re going to award me a PhD for squabbling over the topic- or receive one yourself.

                • Emma in Sydney

                  It clearly doesn’t occur to Name that there might have been reasons for late nineteenth century male activists to emphasise the fictional but horrific oppression of women in white slavery, while drawing a veil over the reality of tens of millions of married women, who had no rights to their children, their property or their personal bodily autonomy, and n the United Statess, no right to stand for election or vote until 1920. While activism and compassion are important, they should also be directed at actually existing problems, rather than fictional smokescreens.
                  In Australia, where the fear of the yellow peril was strong at the same period, a Royal Commission was held into allegations of Chinese immorality. They expected to find that all the white women living with Chinese men had been trafficked and forced into it, but instead:

                  When the commissioners of the 1891 Royal Commission into Alleged Chinese Gambling and Immorality visited some of these families they found, to their great surprise, that their houses were neat and homely. They were further surprised when Australian women gave evidence that they had married Chinese men because they loved them, and because they preferred the gentler ways of these men to the ‘biffo’ they could expect from some of the drunken Irishmen on offer. ‘There could be no better man to me in the world’ said Hannah (no surname given), of her Chinese husband.

                • Love the Australian comparison. Very interesting stuff.

  • djw

    Name, your citations from Hathaway’s helpful article (I’m glad you seem to be enjoying it) seem to speak to a significant confusion about my point. The slave population in the world today is indeed substantial and growing, and a serious problem worthy of attention. This is especially true when we move beyond sex trafficking to all forms of modern slavery. Nothing whatsoever in my post is meant to deny any of this, and I’m not sure how you reached the conclusion that I was arguing that.

    My point was that we ought to be attentive to the ideologies that motivate “rescue” because they can lead to misdirection, give room to other, less savory motivations to enter the equation, and otherwise render the path to rescue ineffective. My point was not “don’t rescue” but “figure out how to do it right”.

    • Name

      Kristof has done more to highlight the importance of this issue than you, Loomis, and every other asshole on this blog put together (myself included). Why it’s necessary to attack him for this as a “chauvinist” (as the original post argued) is the fundamentally baffling part of this entire debate to me. It’s like yelling at a man who’s bringing a bucket of water to a conflagration and screaming “Help! Fire!” because he doesn’t happen to be a fire truck.

      • DrDick

        Congratulations for continuing to completely miss the point in pursuit of your uninformed moral crusade to save the unfairly sullied name of Kristof and stop the global plague of white slavery.

        • Name

          Oh, there was a point to all this? What was it, pray tell?

        • Bill Murray

          well c’mon, it’s not like Name could even get the post author correct, why would you expect name to not miss the point.

          • djw

            I have to say, though, he’s been an entertaining and refreshing change of pace from Honorable Bob.

            • That’s a good point. Along with the pro-fracking troll from a couple of days ago, the troll level has improved a bit.

              • Name

                Still waiting for you to QUOTE an actual rebuttal, you smug name-dropper.

              • Murc

                More than a bit. If Name is a troll (and the signs are there) dude is giving a master-class. The fact that we aren’t even sure he’s a troll means that if he is a troll, he’s uncommonly good.

                I’m bookmarking this and his other threads to use as an example of the genre. It’s BRILLIANT. This guy knows precisely what he’s doing and he’s so good at it. Honorable Bob and our other trolls of yore could learn a lot from him.

            • DrDick

              There is that.

          • Name

            I’m arguing with both posts. djw invited it by piggy-backing off of Loomis’.

            This entire debate started with an asinine feminist’s attacks on Kristof. The chronology is really not that complicated, but what the point of any of it is continues to elude me. All I’m getting is that Kristof is an asshole for caring about rape and trying to stop it. It’s a little tedious and smug, and advances nothing; but blog wars tend to be that way.

            • DrDick

              Especially when they involve self-righteous twits who cannot be bothered to read the freaking posts or familiarize themselves with the existing research, but launches into a moral crusade against everyone who actually knows something about the topic.

              • Name

                I know you are, but what am I?

                Sticks and stones, Dick. Sticks and stones.

                • DrDick

                  I am a scholar who has read the research and familiarized himself with the facts and the data. That means I actually know what the fuck I am talking about and can distinguish between valid scholarly sources and hyperbolic propaganda. You might try it sometime.

            • JL

              You are so concerned about women, and yet you are so down on feminists – you know, the people who push for women’s liberation. Honestly, that makes me (a woman) a little suspicious.

  • Name

    I am a scholar who has read the research and familiarized himself with the facts and the data. That means I actually know what the fuck I am talking about and can distinguish between valid scholarly sources and hyperbolic propaganda. You might try it sometime.

    And you’re so familiar with it that you can’t quote it, but you can tease me like a 5-year-old on the playground. I’m waiting for someone to QUOTE a rebuttal of Asbury. I’m not waiting for you to call me an idiot because I didn’t walk into this discussion with a PhD in Anthropology. If you can’t even use your vast knowledge to convey information beyond what I could get from a kindergartener, I don’t see why I should take your name-dropping appeals to authority any more seriously than I take your diploma-mill education.

    • DrDick

      We have provided you with citations and data. Your unwillingness to follow up on that on your own is your problem and not ours. We all worked very hard to gain the expertise we have and it is not at all unfair of us to expect you to exert some minimal effort on your own. As I say to my students, I cannot, and will not, pour the pure white light of knowledge into your mind. I can only point the way and let you explore it on your own. If you are too fucking lazy to even fucking Google some of this shit, that is also your problem.

      • Name

        We have provided you with citations and data.

        You have followed up with shit I can’t read or find. If I say you’re a stupid asshole because Dr. God’s book says so, would you take me seriously? What if I told you to go look up Dr. God’s book and read it for yourself?

        Your unwillingness to follow up on that on your own is your problem and not ours.

        Your bloated sense of self-importance would suit a first-grader shoving a kindergartener’s head into the sandbox for lunch money proud, but isn’t of any use whatsoever in a world where I can’t mind-meld with you to pull your citations out of your brain and read them for myself.

        We all worked very hard to gain the expertise we have and it is not at all unfair of us to expect you to exert some minimal effort on your own.

        Seriously? Try that line in a bar. “You, fellow bar-patron, are fucking wrong. I’ll tell you to go read these books, they’ll show you why.” That’s the feeblest argument ever. If a Fundamentalist said the Bible said you’re wrong, you’d laugh your ass off. But your appeals to esoteric authority are as meaningless to me (in the absence of quotations) as someone else’s appeal to religious authority.

        As I say to my students,

        They let you have students? Jesus fuck, no wonder higher education in this country is in the shitter.

        I cannot, and will not, pour the pure white light of knowledge into your mind.

        Ah, the best professors all tell their students to fuck off and read the books for themselves, and provide no insight or quotes whatsoever in classroom.

        I can only point the way and let you explore it on your own. If you are too fucking lazy to even fucking Google some of this shit, that is also your problem.

        Yeah, and Dr. God said if you can’t find the part in the Holy Koranabible where it says you’re wrong, then it’s your fault you’re going to Hell. Also, my imaginary friend wrote like 30 books that say you’re wrong, but you’ll have to trust me on this, and if you can’t find them it’s because you’re a lazy, stupid fuck.

        • Name

          Seriously, you have no idea how useless you are. Does your entire classroom lecture consist of writing a bibliography on the board and telling the students to piss off? If you can’t even provide ONE quote that Asbury is wrong, my quotes remain totally unrebutted. Do you understand that? Name-dropping and citing books doesn’t make you write. I can make up bullshit sources just as easily as you can.

          • Name

            Grr. Forgive typos, I’m only 8 years old.

        • Murc

          You have followed up with shit I can’t read or find.

          I’m not sure how that’s their fault. These guys are credentialed experts in their fields, and where they’re not they have established histories of being really good at research.

          If I say you’re a stupid asshole because Dr. God’s book says so, would you take me seriously?

          I’m not familiar with Dr. God, nor that he’d spent sufficient time debunking Dr. Dick’s work as to prove that Dick is indeed an asshole. Indeed, Dr. Dick has always impressed me with his perspicacity. So no, I wouldn’t take you that seriously, but I’m always willing to be convinced.

          How was Dr. God’s work received on publication? You say book, so I’m assuming his journal articles navigated peer review with enough acclaim that he managed to get a publishing contract from at least a University press. If you give us a title, I’m sure at least one person here would be more than happy to go check it out.

          What if I told you to go look up Dr. God’s book and read it for yourself?

          Sure. I have library access. Got a title or even better, an ISDN for us?

          If a Fundamentalist said the Bible said you’re wrong, you’d laugh your ass off.

          I’d actually consider that he was being accurate. Many fundamentalists don’t have a good grasp of the Bible, but enough do that if someone flat-out told me the Bible said I was wrong, I’d be unwilling to challenge that claim without checking it out.

          Now, I’d be more likely to respond with saying that I don’t consider the Bible to be either authoritative of personally convincing, but that’s totally different.

          Yeah, and Dr. God said if you can’t find the part in the Holy Koranabible where it says you’re wrong, then it’s your fault you’re going to Hell.

          Dr. God sounds like kind of a douchebag. Usually when someone who has written a book is told by another person they can’t find something in it, they’re more than happy to point out where it precisely is.

  • T. Paine

    Take the pledge. Just because Name can string a paragraph together doesn’t mean Name isn’t trolling: The combination of losing the plot, moving the goalposts, and refusing to examine anything that can’t be googled (while relying on only things that can) have tipped him from “interesting” to troll.

    Also, slinging “radical feminist” as if it’s some sort of insult is astonishingly dumb.

    • Name

      All I’m asking for is for someone to QUOTE me a rebuttal of Asbury. If you feel like that’s worth insulting me over, go right ahead. I’m not going to rely on citations. I want a QUOTE. If that’s a troll, then I guess it’s a troll anytime someone refuses to rely on an appeal to abstract authority. If that’s a troll, then the non-trolls should go look in the mirror and ask themselves what their idea of a “reasonable” debate is.

      • Name

        And Augustin is a radical “feminist.” She basically thinks that no white man is allowed to care about sexual slavery. That’s an insult to feminism, but it’s certainly radical. And racist and sexist as all Hell, at that.

    • djw

      Indeed. He roped me in by challenging an empirical with poorly sourced evidence, which is a reasonable enough thing to reply to, but I should have stopped a long time ago. He probably would have worked himself up into this froth without my encouragement, but I shouldn’t have continued to give it to him.

      • Name

        Still waiting for quotes. I guess I’ll never get them, will I? Just take your oh-so-reliable word for it, Asbury is wrong.

      • T. Paine

        Perhaps he’s demanding that you do his research for him because of his familiarity with all Internet traditions?

        • Name

          Perhaps I’m demanding that people making a point actually provide that point.

          Jesus, you’re fucking creepy.

          • Name

            *Provide evidence for that point. I’m so creeped out by you I can’t even think straight.

            Still waiting for someone to QUOTE some kind of evidence that Asbury is wrong or lying. I think I’ll be waiting for forever.

  • Steven desJardins

    Fighting the Traffic in Young Girls, the Ernest Bell book you cite, is available on Project Gutenberg for free. No need to go to Amazon.

    (This was one of the first books I bought specifically to scan and put on Project Gutenberg. Looking back, my HTML really sucked. Oh well.)

  • I will just say what I said to one of you who came to ask me some very deep questions on my site: I’ve been a researcher in the field of migration, the sex industry and trafficking since before the word trafficking was used 20 years ago. I have a book called Sex at the Margins which many people find useful in wading through the complexities of these issues, as well as many published articles. Most of it is on my website. I invented the term Rescue Industry some years ago to describe a very wide phenomenon, and this term has been picked up by many. As for my blog, it’s the place where I muse about particular points and people – more often issues than individuals, and I certainly don’t think individuals are at fault for the whole shebang. All the background, all the nuances are missing from any blog post, so if someone drops suddenly I can see why they might find the tone off-putting or miss the point. Because many of the readers of my blog are insiders in the field, I am often talking to them, but at the same time I try to be as clear as possible about the general issues. It seems that criticising Mr Kristof gets a lot of people annoyed, but to me he is just one more character in a wide social phenomenon. I was asked to review Mr Kara’s book for an academic network, but I am not an academic, nor a journalist: https://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=35320

    I had to laugh at being called a radical feminist – they _really_ don’t like me! Anyway I am glad to see the debate. Anyone who wants to know more, please drop by my website: http://www.lauraagustin.com

    Laura Agustín, the Naked Anthropologist

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