NYT: The Monsters are the Men

“‘The Monsters Are the Men’: Inside a Thriving Sex Trafficking Trade in Florida” (NYT, yesterday):

First, a health inspector spotted several suitcases. Then she noticed an unusual stash of clothing, food and bedding. A young woman who was supposed to be a massage therapist spoke little English and seemed unusually nervous.

The inspector reported her findings to police. They would eventually learn that her suspicions were right: The women were not just employees: They were living in the day spa, sleeping on massage tables and cooking meals on hot plates in the back. Some of them had had their passports confiscated.

Beyond the lurid celebrity connection, however, lies the wretched story of women who police believe were brought from China under false promises of new lives and legitimate spa jobs. Instead, they found themselves trapped in the austere back rooms of strip-mall brothels — trafficking victims trapped among South Florida’s rich and famous.

“I would never consider them prostitutes — it was really a rescue operation,” the sheriff said, training his anger at the men whose demand for sex kept the massage parlors in business. “The monsters are the men,” he added.

So the male customers are “monsters”. What about the folks who actually managed the “human trafficking”? It turns out that they were neither male nor monsters:

Sheriff Snyder said investigators, who worked with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, estimated the trafficking ring to be a $20 million international operation. Men paid between $100 and $200 for sex, the sheriff said; between $2 million and $3 million have been seized in Florida, he said, including a safe stuffed with Rolex watches.

In addition to arresting men ranging in age from their 30s to at least one in his 80s, police charged several women who appeared to be overseeing the operation with racketeering, money laundering and prostitution.

What is the root of the problem?

State Attorney Dave Aronberg of Palm Beach County, whose office leads a human trafficking task force with the F.B.I., said trafficking foreigners to work in places like massage parlors can be more difficult to root out than trafficking, for example, American girls who are recruited in person or online.

So the Times would suggest that we vote for politicians who promise to make it more difficult for people to get into the U.S. (e.g., with a wall along the southern border and restrictions on via tourist and work visas for folks who arrive by air)?

[Note that immigrants in the commercial sex industry are referred to by the Times as “prostitutes,” but when American women work in this industry they are “sex workers” (example).]

Also fun from the front page today: “The Power of a $15 Minimum Wage: Research has found that a living wage is an antidepressant, a sleep aid and a stress reliever. And that’s not all.” (full article) But how is $15/hour a “living wage”? A full-time worker would need to earn closer to $45/hour to be over the income limit for subsidized public housing in NYC (family of 4) and maybe $50/hour to pay for Obamacare insurance without a taxpayer subsidy. The article opens with a young immigrant from Guatemala who has earned permanent residency (Green Card), but whose skills are insufficient to command more than minimum wage. What will happen to him when he is older and less productive and it is illegal for anyone to hire him at less than $20 or $25/hour (or whatever the minimum wage is then)? The photo shows that he is well on his way to obesity and type 2 diabetes. SSDI?

Related:

Full post, including comments

Commercial sex in Florida then and now

From “Life as a carrier-based pilot in World War II” (2017 post about a British pilot’s memoir):

After a quiet drinking session one night at the Battle House Hotel in Mobile, we decided at midnight that it was time we started to wend our way back to the station, using the method by which we had come—hitch-hiking. The four of us stood on the pavement of the main street, in the direction of Pensacola, and waved our thumbs. A big open Oldsmobile cruised to a standstill. ‘Pensacola, boys? OK, climb aboard!’ The driver, a man of about 45 years of age, was cheerful—nay, downright jovial. This was not surprising considering the amount of alcohol he seemed to have put away. His joviality was somewhat blurred and his driving slightly erratic. He crawled along for a minute or two, then stopped again. ‘Hey! Any o’ you fellers want a piece of ass before we get going? On me, boys—my treat. How’s about it?’ What on earth was a ‘piece of ass’? We looked dumb—he thought so, too. ‘You Limeys don’t know what a piece of ass is? You don’t want a jump? Hell! You know! A woman! A good whore! How’s about it?’ To a man we declined. His opinion of Limeys had hit an all-time low. What sort of fellers were these? ‘Well, I’m having me a blow-through before I leave town. Only keep you waiting ten minutes, boys. Hey! Officer!’ (This to a policeman, patrolling the street.) ‘Hey! Officer! Where’s the nearest whorehouse?’ The policeman wasn’t at all put out by the request, the inflammable breath or the bleary bloodshot eyes. ‘Second left, third house on the left. Good house, too. OK?’ We drove down. He pulled up the car with a screech of brakes outside the brothel; a good-looking three-storey house in a nice enough district. ‘Sure you won’t join me in a piece of ass, boys? Round your evening off nicely.’ He leered. Then he stood up in the car. ‘Hey! Mother! Bring out your whores! Bring out your whores!’ He was bawling at the top of his voice. ‘Goddammit! Woman! Bring out them whores, for Chrissake!!’ I wondered how much longer he would create a disturbance before someone did something about it. Then suddenly a first-floor window opened. A middle-aged woman, hair in curlers, stuck out her head. Her voice was equally refined. ‘Now you just git the hell out o’ this. My girls have had a long, hard day and they’re all tuckered out! Git the hell out of it!’ ‘Ah! The hell! You just git them whores o’ yours down again and open this goddam door! I’ve bin pinin’ for a piece of ass for the last two hours and I just ain’t goin’ home!’ ‘Mister, you can just fuck off. All my gals are in bed and you ain’t gonna see one of ’em!’

Florida was already home to, um, gentlemen’s clubs:

Pettigrew and I were at the Villa Venice, one of the better night-clubs on the Beach, with a very good, well-dressed floor show. We had sat through two shows but Jim, whose whole world revolved round girlies, insisted on seeing the third and last performance. … The last show gave him his chance, for the girls appeared clad only in wonderful head-dresses, gauntlets, high-heeled shoes and G-strings. Jim shook me back to life. ‘They’re on.’ So they were. And Jim was right—she was a honey. Blonde, about 19; and everything came out and went back again in exactly the right places. She smiled at him and made his day. We were cold and shivering outside, despite our greatcoats. … Eventually she emerged, looking lovely enough to eat. Her hair under the lamplight was beautiful. She wore a mink coat which she must have earned the hard way. Her legs beneath it were the pride of Florida. As Jim moved towards her, she declaimed—from 20 yards, in a rasping voice which can’t have done a thing for Jim’s ego: ‘It’ll cost you 30 bucks!’ It must have been a hard life for a high-kicker in Miami. ‘Thirty bucks?’ said Jim, incredulously. ‘Thirty bucks? Jesus! I only want to borrow it, not buy it!’ She swept past us with a look of contempt. Her perfume and the swish of her mink wafted over me. Strange things, girls, I thought. And how bloody awful to be so hard at 19! Already she must be sick to death of men. She isn’t young any more. Boys, young men, have been left far behind, and the wallets of the well-to-do—men of any age, shape or colour—are her only interest.

Full post, including comments

Prostitution next to the Outback Steakhouse… and it is Trump’s fault

Here’s a story for New Englanders… “Patriots Owner Robert Kraft Charged in Florida Prostitution Sting” (nytimes):

Robert K. Kraft, the billionaire owner of the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, was charged Friday with two counts of soliciting sex as part of a wide-ranging investigation into prostitution and human trafficking in South Florida.

The charges against Mr. Kraft, 77, came after the police in Jupiter, Fla., used video surveillance to observe activity inside several day spas and massage parlors.

One of the most powerful owners in American sports, he is a leading voice in the N.F.L.’s small fraternity of billionaire owners, a member of the committee that sets Commissioner Roger Goodell’s salary, and a friend and political benefactor of President Trump.

All of the sexual encounters that have resulted in charges were videotaped as part of the investigation, the police said.

Mr. Kraft was said to have patronized a spa called Orchids of Asia in Jupiter … The mall, anchored on one end by an Outback Steakhouse,

NYT readers express the appropriate amount of outrage in the comments. A few do ask, essentially, “If the guy has a Gulfstream, why doesn’t he go to a place where prostitution is legal?”

Plainly this is Donald Trump’s fault, somehow, but if the accusation is “human trafficking” could it be that Trump’s proposed tightening of undocumented immigration would actually reduce the number of brothels next to Outbacks? The managers of Mustang Ranch cannot sponsor H-1B visas on the grounds that the job is a “specialty occupation requiring a bachelor’s degree,” can they?

Related:

Full post, including comments

Phones are too good or Americans are too fat to have sex?

“Why Are Young People Having So Little Sex? Despite the easing of taboos and the rise of hookup apps, Americans are in the midst of a sex recession.” (Atlantic, December) is long and rambling, but two trends are identified:

  • Americans are more likely to have a smartphone than in the old days
  • Americans are more likely to be fat compared to the old days

Both are identified as reasons why Americans might have less sex than a few decades ago (the idea that weight leads to body shame is considered, but not that extra weight simply leads to having less energy to move around, including in bed).

Researchers don’t consider another big change: the rise of “single parents” (data from 1960, 1980, and 2014). These folks need to hire a babysitter before heading out for a Tinderfest. Contrast to the old days when a married couple with kids could do whatever they wanted after 10 pm.

Readers: What do you think? Blame phones, blame weight, or blame something else?

Related:

  • “Child Support Litigation without a Marriage”: the cash and litigation trail that may follow sex acts in the U.S. Sex is potentially much more lucrative than a W-2 job for a college graduate in California, Massachusetts, or Wisconsin). So you’d think Americans would be eager for this. But on the other hand, the researchers are measuring weekly or monthly sex and it is possible to make $millions with only a single sex act. So maybe there is no inconsistency.
Full post, including comments

New term for an older gentleman paying a young woman’s bills: “money laundering”

“Political operative who was dating alleged Russian spy Maria Butina indicted” (CNN):

The money laundering portion of the indictment notes a $20,472.09 payment from one of [the old bald guy’s] accounts to American University in 2017, when [the young long-haired woman] was attending graduate school there.

Another $9,000 in payments were directed to a recipient whose initials are listed as “M.B.” in the indictment.

That’s what it is called!

Full post, including comments

Surrounded by attractive college women at the gym…

A friend in his 30s works out every morning at a Planet Fitness. Our conversation:

Him: At least 25 percent of the customers at that time of day are attractive women from [adjacent university].

Me: Why don’t they work out for free at their school’s gym?

Him: I don’t know.

Me: Haven’t you talked to them? Have you ever been out on a date with one and asked her why she subscribes to this commercial gym?

Him: I’ve never asked one on a date.

Me: You’re a real gentleman!

Him: It would be too much work. With Tinder and Bumble, I can [be in bed with a woman] an hour after opening the app.

(I’m sticking with my gym. It costs a lot more than the $10/month that he pays, but we are not weight-shamed by fit 20-year-olds.)

Full post, including comments

The 49-year-old father and the au pair

From an au pair host family group…

40-year-old mother of three: “Just wanted to give an update/get some advice on my ex-sleeping-with-the-now-former-au-pair saga. She left the US at the end of her travel month around Labor Day. It has come to my attention that the two of them are still in a relationship (he’s 49 and she is 20. Gross). Exhibit A below (try to ignore the fact it’s like it was written by an eighth grader), plus witnesses have put her back in our town as recently as 10 days ago.

Insert photo of handwritten (beautifully) letter: “… I love being with you … I never thought this year would turn out like this … I really hope & wish we have an amazing future ahead of us together. … I’m really going to miss your snuggles.”

[Inquiring minds want to know: how many American eighth graders can write legibly in a foreign language? And what exactly is “gross”? The 20-year-old woman’s body is “gross”? She looks okay in a linked-to Facebook profile (if you don’t mind the tall slender well-proportioned Northern European blonde look). Or the 49-year-old man’s body is “gross”? (If so, why was the 40-year-old mother sharing a bed with this “gross” body?)]

The other au pair host moms pile in with advice:

now going after him in the divorce with this as proof I would totally do. Send to your lawyer and start a file

Agree about divorce files

It’s got to be the saddest midlife crisis ever. Sleezy guys the world over fall for someone new… but look at how this girl writes. [maybe the non-native speaker would be able to spell “sleazy” correctly, though?] What kind of emotional connection could a middle aged man have with her? Can’t even have a mildly stimulating conversation over a glass of wine. She’s too stupid regardless of her age.

He’s a disgusting pig and she’s a horrible person. … I would inform future APs about his gross and inappropriate behavior.

[Nobody questions the inferiority of the 20-year-old’s emotions! But isn’t it more likely that older people are the ones with inferior emotions? Older people are more likely to be thinking about how to get the dishwasher or boiler fixed than about how to phrase a heartfelt poem.]

A (woke) male:

Taking as many of the ex-hubby’s assets along with being alone to think about how he ruined a great family situation for a fling is perhaps the start of just punishment.

[But the 49-year-old is apparently not alone, thus the dust-up.]

The females continue responding…

Take all of his money and don’t lose stamina!

… falling for the babysitter? It’s cliche and pathetic.

… No question. This is disgusting.

That’s double gross.

What a disgusting pig he is and what a poor excuse for a woman she is.

[But the 40-year-old previously tapped into this high-income guy, presumably using her youth to out-compete women who are now 49 and older. If the 20-year-old out-competing the 40-year-old is “disgusting” and “gross” why was it not gross for the 40-year-old to out-compete the 49-year-olds?]

A fellow mom thinking ahead:

She’ll get burned too bc this is all about him. Hopefully before she gets knocked up so [mama’s] kids don’t have to share their child support.

The above shows how little Americans understand about their own family law system. The mom concerned about child support revenue is correct that a European who has sex in the U.S. can cash checks over in Europe (see “Child Support Litigation without a Marriage”). But generally the first plaintiff to sue is invulnerable to attacks from successor plaintiffs, i.e., a court order in favor of a first plaintiff won’t be reduced because a second plaintiff comes along. New York has one of the simplest systems:

As with other states, children of the same parent will have different cash values depending on the sequence in which that parent has been sued for child support. The co-parent of the first child is entitled to 17 percent of the defendant’s income. The co-parent of the second child is entitled to only 17 percent of the remaining 83 percent. The co-parent of the third child is entitled to only 17 percent of the remaining 69 percent.

Linguistics:

Sorry you’re going through this, mama. A total nightmare for sure.

[The word “mama” becomes a title for one adult woman to address another by.]

Readers: Why the outrage over the au pair’s age? The folks in this discussion don’t seem to question the merits of a no-fault divorce system. The au pair was over the age of consent in every state. Either partner in a U.S. marriage is free to abandon the union if a preferred sex partner is identified and/or on payment of cash. Why does the situation become “gross” and “disgusting” and merit larger cash payments if a new partner happens to be 20 years old?

Related:

Full post, including comments

The inner life of a cougar

“Single, Unemployed and Suddenly Myself” (nytimes) is a 37-year-old’s paean to the Catherine the Great lifestyle of having a 23-year-old male companion.

(Catherine the Great was perhaps the most powerful human on the planet so it represents a lot of progress if ordinary folks can live as she did.)

Related:

Full post, including comments

Could talking to high school students constantly about sex encourage them to have sex?

What if you put a big barrel of condoms in a high school and put a sign on it saying “You can use these while you are having sex?” Would that encourage the 14-18-year-olds to have sex? The previous folks who looked into this question, typically with small samples, said “no.” The paper “Fighting AIDS, Changing Teen Pregnancy? The Incidental Fertility Effects of School Condom Distribution Programs” (Buckles and Hungerman; presented at American Economics Association 2015) looked a little more carefully. The researchers pulled birth certificates from the counties with free condom distribution in schools. They looked at births to women aged 15-19 compared to births to women aged 20-24 (the control group that presumably wouldn’t have had access to high schools) and found that births to the 15-19-year-olds increased by about 10 percent after the condom barrels went in. (Responding to an audience question, they said that they didn’t have any data on abortions so they couldn’t say how many extra pregnancies resulted from the free distribution programs. They noted that accurate data on abortion prevalence from surveys is difficult to obtain because people lie.)

Incidentally, the researchers noted that the American Academy of Pediatrics recently came out with a recommendation that condoms be distributed in schools. Thus people who get paid to provide health care to children support a policy that results in a larger customer base.

Full post, including comments