Diane Sawyer Special Examines Prostitution in America; Challenge the Valley Advocate “Rat King”

Even if a person freely enters a life of prostitution, getting out is not so easy. Diane Sawyer and ABC’s “20/20” researched the lives of prostitutes for over two years. They report:

The world of high-end, high-priced prostitution has been in the news lately because of former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s scandal involving an alleged high-priced escort service, but this kind of service underrepresents what prostitution in America really is. Behind the “Pretty Woman” image is a world of vulnerability, danger and fear.

For more than two years, “20/20” cameras documented the daily risks of streetwalkers and expensive call girls. The report captures the realities of who these women are and how the law deals with them compared to their male clientele.

The program follows women — whether a single mom, a college student, a housewife, a school teacher or a drug addict — who have ended up in places they never planned to be. Some are lured by the dream of a flashy lifestyle and fast money, others to feed their drug habit and just to survive, but almost all struggle with the challenge of how hard it is to get out of the profession…

See video segments, slideshow, related articles, and links to organizations that help women escape the sex trade. See the hundreds of comments on this presentation.

Let’s now turn our attention to prostitution’s apparent marketing arm here in Western Massachusetts, the Valley Advocate. In the March 20 Advocate, Mark Roessler issues a ringing call to challenge stale political groupthink, invoking the image of a group of rats tied together by their tails:

The Rat King has thrived in a town where political anger, fundamental disagreement and real scrutiny are things we only lavish on our national leaders. Being polite to the Rat King is like feeding a bear at Yellowstone: are you really surprised that it decimated your tent after you tossed it a sandwich this morning? We need to create an environment that’s hostile to Rat Kings—one that demands leadership and solutions over groupthink and excuses. Short of bussing in legions of Republicans to live among us, the only solution I can see to Northampton’s Rat King problem is deciding that the time for disagreeable disagreement in local politics is now.

Mr. Roessler’s ire is directed at Northampton’s City Hall, but it applies as well or better to the Advocate itself. This alt weekly may toss around fine-sounding buzzwords like “progressive”, “freedom”, “consent” and “artistic expression”. It may complain, as editor Tom Vannah did recently, about people who move to Northampton from out of town and have the temerity to criticize local media. It may try to fob off responsibility for its commercial sex ads on to distant corporate entities, such as the Tribune Company. The reality is that ads like the following, given real scrutiny, almost certainly facilitate prostitution–a bad business for women if ever there was one. If Mr. Vannah and publisher Aaron Julien agree to stop these ads, they’ll stop.

From the March 20 Valley Advocate and The Back Room (explicit link):

Escorts, Massage, or TVs/TS
LISA’s BACK $20 off the Whirlpool and Forehand. THANK YOU for all your Business in 2007! 737-xxxx New Therapist • Now Hiring

EROTIC TOUCH Something New for 2008 Sexy, Sweet, Discreet, no rush 413-273-xxxx In/Out 24/7

SEXYASS & CLASS $150 cash Outcalls (860) 331-xxxx

SERA/LEESA The Best Forget about the Rest! 5’5, 120lbs, 34C (413) 588-xxxx

Double the Fun 4 the Price of One Stag Parties 860-680-9205 • 860-707-xxxx

Looking for a wonderful EVENING? You Just Found it! 413-214-xxxx

g TIFFANY l Cute Tight Tiny In/Out (866) 519-xxxx…

[Adult] Employment

VERY VERY BUSTY FEMALE NEEDED Marketing Professional Hiring For Escort Work No Experience Required Help Reduce My Stress VERY WELL ENDOWED In Need Of Oral Relief Our Privacy Assured 860-258-xxxx…

If you object to the Advocate profiting from and promoting one of the world’s most exploitative industries, let Tom Vannah and Aaron Julien (413-584-5000) know.

See also:

Escort Prostitution: A Response to Tom Vannah, Editor of the Valley Advocate
…the First Amendment does not apply in this situation. We are not
calling for the government to censor commercial sex ads out of the
Advocate. We are calling on members of the Advocate, as private
citizens, to exercise their discretion about what to publish…

If we have failed to exercise “due diligence” or the “proper steps”, as
Mr. Vannah claims, we would be happy to know just what those steps are.
We invited Mr. Vannah to dialogue with us privately last year. We
received no response. There are over 45 articles in our Prostitution category.
How much evidence does Mr. Vannah require before conceding the obvious,
that the Advocate almost certainly abets and profits from prostitution,
and that prostitution is a miserable and dangerous job for most women?

Prostitution: Factsheet on Human Rights Violations

Prostitution Research & Education: How Prostitution Works
sexual relationships are not hard to find. There are plenty of adults
of both sexes who are willing to have sex if someone treats them well,
and asks. But there lies the problem. Some people do not want an equal,
sharing relationship. They do not want to be nice. They do not want to
ask. They like the power involved in buying a human being who can be
made to do almost anything.

Orlando Weekly Drops Adult-Services Ads in Wake of Police Sting; “Operation Weekly Shame”

Investigates Human Trafficking and Prostitution in the US; Valley
Advocate Advertises “Foreign Fantasies” Where “Everything Goes”

Ask the Valley Advocate’s New Owner to Drop the Sex Ads

“New York Press No Longer Marketing Arm for Prostitution/Trafficking”

The Village Voice Earns $80,000/Month from Prostitution, Sex Trafficking and other Adult Ads (explicit language)
[Manny, a former pimp,] says it’s not difficult for a pimp to recruit his harem.

“You don’t have to tie a girl up — you just keep her high.”

Another Victory for NOW-NYC: New York Magazine Drops Sex Ads
would think that this would be exactly the kind of exploitation the
[Village] Voice would revel in exposing. But because the Voice is free,
it apparently needs the revenue brought in by, this week, 10 pages of
these ads.

And so its press release yammers on about how our
freedoms are “under attack by the Bush administration,” and makes NOW
sound like the Taliban, and finally trots out the same pathetic excuse
New York once made: “If there is evidence that any advertiser in our
pages engaged in…sex slavery…” Blah blah blah.

It’s hard to be part of the solution, when you’re part of the problem.