Author Archives: Sheenah

About Sheenah

Passionate about ending human trafficking, exploitation, and challenging toxic cultural views about women and men. I have spent many years researching, volunteering with NFP's who deal with human trafficking, have spent time in asian countries with survivors of trafficking, and also with organisations who assist sex industry workers with leaving and finding alternative employment (if that is what they are looking for). The research that I do into the corruption in QLD Massage shops is done in my own spare time (of which I often am lacking in), and evidence is reported through the correct channels and not always shared publicly on this blog due to the sensitivity of its nature. Likewise, I do not always share about women I have helped on this blog, as some would not be comfortable with this. This blog exists primarily to bring to light the men who purchase women for money, and prey upon these places (where the majority of women - by choice or not - are there because of a lack of other alternatives). Many of these men are (by their own admission) married or partnered, and seek out these places because they like the 'thrill' of pushing for illegal services in a massage shop, and no doubt, also try to blend in to places where you might not expect illegal prostitution to be going on. If you are a man who struggles with sex addiction, you may benefit from several of the resources in my blogs. If you are a woman in need of some advice on leaving the industry, getting involved, or are simply looking for a contact while in QLD, you are welcome to contact me. Comment on my blog to get in touch.

Dear John: An open letter to Brisbane Sex ‘Punters’

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It’s been some time since I researched the massage forums. You see, it’s not something I get great pleasure from. Reading your discussions about jizzing on Asian massage workers and your jokes about the next bloke copping a taste, isn’t something I particularly enjoy.

However, a few days ago I decided to have a look through the forum, and was surprised to find, that after 18 months, one of you had finally come across my blog.

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I found your discussion about me and my blog fascinating, to say the least. For a start, you were a lot less aggressive and derogatory than I expected. In fact, some of you even applauded my interests in anti-human trafficking, and concerns about women being forced or coerced against their will.

Of course, there were also the typical misogynist rantings about all feminists being angry and ugly. Because, of course! A woman MUST be ugly if she has something to say about society? Yawn.

“Question: Why is every single angry feminist, ugly? Sexual frustration and jealousy of younger better looking women masked as intellectualism.”

Overall,  many of you appear to be ‘normal’ guys. You find child abuse deplorable. You refer to those who push for extras and then don’t tip as ‘the scum of the earth.’ You criticise and talk about the horrible working conditions for many of these girls, who at times get fined by their mamasans for being late, calling in sick, or trying to leave. When a young massage worker is raped, you express anger.

But the main thing I’ve noticed about many of you, is the overwhelming hypocrisy and entitlement.

Dear Punters, no matter whether you treat these girls with abuse, or what you think is respect, you are being cowards. You are trying to offset your involvement onto others: the mamasans, the ‘dirty’ girls who really like it, the money hungry ‘whores’ who look at you like an ATM.

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Yet by your own admission, many of you are married, in relationships, and with kids. You talk about having a second phone (a ‘boner’ phone), about almost getting caught by your wife, and you gloat with your internet buddies about the random women you’ve punted, storing the names of your sexual conquests away in your mind like collectible cards.

Dear ‘Punters’ / Johns. Here is the reality.

Reality 1: You are lying to yourselves if you think you are innocent in this. You are the key for their supply. These women, and their Mamasans (no matter how cruel) would not be operating these shops if not for you. I’ve met some of the women who own these shops, and yes, I can certainly say they are not innocent. But I can also imagine that after going through this industry themselves, they probably welcome a chance not to have to put out for you men all the time. And if you find them so exploitive, why are you paying THEM money? Everytime you go there, you are putting more money in their pockets. But you don’t really care do you…

Reality 2: You don’t deserve paid sex/blowjobs/sex acts just because your wife ‘isn’t up for it’ as much as you are/you don’t have a connection anymore/blah blah blah. In fact, even if your wife is a total bitch, controlling and abusive, you do not get a free pass to cheat. You do not have a right to purchase someone to make you feel good. Get honest with yourself, stop being a coward, and leave your wife. Don’t want to be married? Then get a divorce. Want to be in an open relationship? Choose someone who is open to that. I would say the same to a woman.

Reality 3: You are not ‘helping’ these girls. You might think that you are a hero and that they are the ones using you (and most certainly, some will, because what other job options are screaming out for their poor English and low skill set?), but as I’ve said in other blogs, if you really cared about those less fortunate you would connect them with networks, people and organisations that could help them get ahead and truly experience Australia for all that it is. You are not helping them, you are helping yourself and using your position in society to justify it.

Imagine yourself living in another country, hardly able to speak the language of those around you, with little money or opportunity…now imagine that someone tells you about a way you can make money, with no experience necessary. You might have to masturbate some men or do other things, but hey, it’s better than having to have sex with them right? You’d probably be repulsed. But if that’s your only option, then you make the most of it.

Although, I’d hardly call that ‘choice’. 

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At the end of the day, whether a girl truly enjoys what she is doing to you or not, you have noone to blame for you being there other than you. You don’t really care about the wellbeing of these women, just as you don’t care about your partners, wives or children.

We all have our flaws, our addictions, our temptations. But we all have the power to overcome them. Until you/we stop shifting the blame and take responsibility you will never be free of addiction. You don’t have to keep living this way, wasting money and cheating yourself of true intimacy and financial security  because of an addiction.

If you want to get help, the first step is to tell someone you can trust and find an accountability partner. The next step is to seek treatment and get rid of the things that exacerbate your temptation – that means getting rid of your second phone, installing anti porn blockers on your phone and computer, and deleting your forum accounts.

Yes, it will be hard. But it’s not impossible. Many men have done it before you, and many more will. And I say this wholeheartedly: Please get yourself help.

Need help with your relationship or addictions?

Mensline – 1300 78 99 78   http://www.mensline.org.au/

Feed The Right Wolf A site with lots of resources for those suffering sex addiction; including recovery coaching, a free 30 day trial of ”Covenant Eyes” (filtering software), and allows you to take sex addiction self-analysis tests. It also includes a forum where you can discuss your struggles or victories. There’s some really encouraging stories on there from men who have recovered (and young teenagers).

Sex Addiction Australia “A Sydney and Internet based national service and a professional sex therapist and specialist sex addiction therapy private practise. We provide confidential clinical sex addiction counselling and sex therapy for sexual addictions and sexual compulsive behaviours, for sexual dysfunctions, sexual health and safer sex, and we update you with sex addiction research & information.”

SA Aus also provides support to partners of men/women suffering from sex addiction. E: info@sexaddictionaustralia.com.au or call 02 9380 4486

Sex Addicts Anonymous includes information on meetings you can attend in various countries – including Australia (VIC/NSW/QLD)

Sexual Control Helping individuals with sex addictions since 1983, this site also allows you to download the book ”The most personal addiction” for free.

Fight The New Drug – Simple & clear information on how porn affects the brain, damages relationships, and how you can break free of addiction.

For interesting reading about the effects of Porn on your brain and whether it’s having a negative impact on your life/relationship, see this recent post from Triple J Hack. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Men who purchase women for sex – their own words

This is a straight-to-the-point no confusion blog post which I hope will highlight the reality of how johns (male purchasers of sex) view women. Too often, I will see people argue that johns are lovely people just looking to meet their sexual needs (because their selfish wives won’t put out, or just can’t keep up! Poor menz). I compiled this some time ago, but due to the nature of having to deal with such disgusting content, it has taken me some time to post.

TRIGGER WARNING – Graphic sexual discussions.  

A punter admit’s to seeing bruising and marks on ML’s, but is only worried about her image, not her safety. 

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Women can be bought like meat from the butcher : 

like in a butcher

Punter’s don’t care if the young worker isn’t enjoying what they are asking :

girl disconnected from what she's doing

Punter admits to forcing and abusing women in massage shops & brothels :

forcing girls

raising a hand

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Punters admit to seeing signs of possible trafficking, but don’t care: 

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Punter shares that ML’s are often pushed to give sexual services, and then abused if they don’t. Other men admit that they don’t care in any way for the welfare of the women they abuse:

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Punters discuss and critique women’s bodies, and rate them in dehumanizing ways :

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Bamboo Panda - degrading women (2)

Punter’s reveal why they prey on Asian ML workers, rather than going to brothels (as they’ve already abused and used prostituted women, and now want ‘fresh meat’).

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Female sex worker’s are not respected even after they have died: 

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Let’s be honest – Johns do not respect women, and they do not deserve anonymity. Sex work hurts women everywhere, and it contributes to a society where abusing and preying on women is seen as a ‘right’.

No human has a right to exploit another.

If you are a woman wanting assistance or advice with leaving the industry, please email me – she_warrior@outlook.com

If you are a man struggling with sex addiction, please seek help. The following websites may be a great place to start:

Feed The Right Wolf A site with lots of resources for those suffering sex addiction; including recovery coaching, a free 30 day trial of ”Covenant Eyes” (filtering software), and allows you to take sex addiction self-analysis tests. It also includes a forum where you can discuss your struggles or victories. There’s some really encouraging stories on there from men who have recovered (and young teenagers).

Sex Addiction Australia “A Sydney and Internet based national service and a professional sex therapist and specialist sex addiction therapy private practise. We provide confidential clinical sex addiction counselling and sex therapy for sexual addictions and sexual compulsive behaviours, for sexual dysfunctions, sexual health and safer sex, and we update you with sex addiction research & information.”

SA Aus also provides support to partners of men/women suffering from sex addiction. E: info@sexaddictionaustralia.com.au or call 02 9380 4486

Sex Addicts Anonymous includes information on meetings you can attend in various countries – including Australia (VIC/NSW/QLD)

Sexual Control Helping individuals with sex addictions since 1983, this site also allows you to download the book ”The most personal addiction” for free.

Fight The New Drug – Simple & clear information on how porn affects the brain, damages relationships, and how you can break free of addiction.

An open letter to JJJ – Stop supporting Tyler The Creator

In 2014 a member from hip hop band Bliss and Eso made an insensitive comment about domestic violence, putting up an instagram post that mocked violence against women. I was surprised, yet impressed, when Triple J made a stand by refusing to play any Bliss and Eso tracks for an extended period of time, stating that they would ”wait on the audience sentiment before playing the band again.”

Given that Triple J’s Hack and the ABC have often covered issues such as domestic violence, and the fact that there has been an increased amount of violence toward women in Australia, it made sense that they would take such a stand. Taking all of this into consideration then, it has continued to baffle me over the years to see Triple J constantly support, promote, and play music from Tyler The Creator.

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Everyone knows that Tyler thrives on creating controversy, and his fans often explain his behaviour and lyrics as nothing more than a stage character. However, this just isn’t true.

In 2013 Tyler came to Australia to play all-ages shows, despite the fact that his lyrical content included graphic descriptions about murdering women, mutilating their genitals, and raping pregnant women; as well as including homophobic slurs.

When a young Australian activist criticised his lyrics and questioned why Australia was allowing him to perform here, Tyler turned abusive, not only verbally threatening and abusing her at a concert (which she was present at) but also dedicating a song called ‘Bitch Suck Dick’ to her. Going even further, he encouraged his millions of twitter followers to turn their abuse toward her. Below is a snippet from an article where Talitha discusses the moment where Tyler began abusing her from the stage (she also captured this abuse on video). tyler

As a result, this young woman received hundreds of rape and death threats, and a twitter user even leaked what – thankfully – was a slightly incorrect home address. What was Tyler’s response to the actions of his fans?

“HAHA”

Another young woman was also sexually assaulted at one of his Australian gigs, and Tyler has also been known to encourage riots at other concerts. His attitudes toward women are not a character – he has proven this clearly with his actions.

The thing about MC Eso, is that despite the insensitivity and truly offensive nature of his comments, he apologised. Tyler’s lyrics and music may have changed and become somewhat less horrific, but he has never, at any time, apologised for his actions while in Australia, nor has he opened an intelligent, sincere discussion surrounding the issues he glorified in his music (saying that he’s just playing a character, and jokingly telling fans not to go out and rape and murder isn’t good enough).

Obviously not every person who listens to Tyler is guaranteed to be a rapist, murderer or homophobe, but as a nation trying to fight against violence, which in 2015 is claiming the lives of 2 women EVERY week, how can we allow someone like Tyler in our country?

How can Australia, and ABC’s Triple J continue to support someone who encourages violence at his shows, who caused extreme emotional trauma to a woman just for questioning his lyrics, and who is unapologetic, be allowed to perform all-ages shows here?

Triple J – make a stand. Stop supporting Tyler the Creator. Please remove his music from your station. You can’t sit on both sides of the fence when it comes to violence against women – or any gender or sexuality – in our country.

To my readers: Feel free to contact Triple J to let them know that you don’t support Tyler the Creator on their station!  Click here to email, click here for their facebook.

What it’s like to go inside Brisbane’s Illegal brothels…

Last week while visiting a Thai day spa, I had a conversation with a young woman that got me thinking. Upon asking if she had any plans for the Easter break, she replied, “ohh…no I will probably just be working.” Wondering what it was like to be alone in a foreign country I asked if she missed her family. “Yes, so so much,” she replied, massaging my feet with a sad little smile. It got me to thinking about all of the foreign women currently working hard in Australia to try and support their families, and the ‘punters’ who couldn’t care less about what their lives are like beyond the ‘happy endings’ they seek.

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As this is the first Easter in 5 years that I haven’t been away, I decided to spend some time spreading kindness to those in the community. Raiding my local ALDI store for all of the best chocolate bunnies, hot cross buns and Easter goodies, I made a stash of gifts to give to girls I’d met at local massage shops, along with those who are currently working in illegal brothels.

gifts for girls

I often think about how to tackle the problem of illegal prostitution, and unfortunately, it is a giant issue which is going to take time to solve (and a dedicated effort from council, government and police). One thing which really frustrates me is the tactic of police to punish the women rather than the men who purchase, so I try to take a different approach – making connections with these women and offering them support if needed. This was the idea behind my decision to spend my Easter break visiting these venues.

Along with the gifts, I drafted a basic flyer (which some friends helped me to translate into different languages) wishing the girls a happy Easter, and offering free advice to anyone new to Brisbane.

Armed with my gifts, I made my way into the first of 6 shops. Opening the door to the reception area, I looked around the empty area to see an Asian woman lounging on a couch at the back of the room, playing on her phone. Looking up at me from her seat it was clear she was confused as to why a woman was in that sort of venue, however she remained seated. Approaching the couch, I greeted the young woman and explained that I was spreading some Easter cheer by visiting local businesses to give out gifts. Looking disinterested, she told me that she already had chocolate and was ‘busy’, before going back to playing on her phone. Despite the empty shop it was clear that I wasn’t going to get very far…and forcing chocolate isn’t really my style (haha).

Disappointing as it was, I couldn’t be too surprised given the reputation of the shop. I’ve been to this place in the past and the mamasan was very quick to get me out the door when I enquired about booking a massage (meanwhile the several men leaving the venue made it clear to me who their priorities were), and none of the workers could speak any English, let alone understand me.

Making my way out of the venue I continued on, driving to another shop known for illegal prostitution. You’d be surprised to see how such places exist within ‘nice’ neighbourhoods – often going unnoticed, or ignored by the community and our government. As I walked toward the front door, I noticed a man literally circling around near the shop like a vulture (he was still hanging around when I left).

Opening the front door I entered a dimly lit area to find a number of young women in tight clothing and heavy makeup sitting on a couch – their eyes all fixed on me. Again I encountered suspicion, mistrust, and general dismissal.

Approaching the desk I spoke to an older woman (the manager, I presume) who was, like the previous place, very dismissive at first. Given that their customer base is comprised of men looking for sexual services, it makes sense that they would be suspicious as to why a white woman was visiting their venue with gifts. I mean, for all they knew I could have been the wife of any of these men, coming to give them a serving. Maybe they thought I had a bag full of rotten eggs or something?!

Explaining to them why I was out visiting local businesses it became clear that they were waiting for some sort of catch.“No thank you, we are not Christian,” said the manager matter-of-factly as I offered her the gifts. The suspicion and lack of trust was like a thick cloud all around, and in that room, it was strikingly clear that I was the odd one out. At this point, a middle-aged caucasian man walked into shop, much to the joy of the manager.

With the manager no longer standing between me and the other girls, I turned to a young worker and tried to speak to her. I was determined to let them know that there were no catches; this wasn’t a religious thing, there was no obligation for them to do anything…I was merely giving free gifts to those working on the Easter weekend.

“I know a lot of staff here work really hard and don’t get holidays like us Aussies, so I just wanted to give you some gifts to wish you a happy Easter,” I explained. Some of the girls sat together giggling and the manager continued to question me. Eventually however, she began to soften, listening with interest when I mentioned that I had friends who worked in the massage industry, and know what it can be like to be new to Brisbane.

“Oh…thank you – that’s so lovely,” she said, as I handed out some gifts to herself and the other girls. I felt my voice catch in my throat, my hands shaking as I smiled and turned to leave. I couldn’t believe how hard it was just to try to break through those barriers.

Just as I was leaving however, the manager stopped at the door behind me. “What a lovely thing for you to do. Thank you,”  she said with a bemused look on her face. I smiled again and tried to keep calm as I walked past another man – and a woman who seemed oblivious to the venue she was standing outside – and made my way back to my car.

Making my way to shop # 3 I again found a similar attitude, although I was a little more confident in what to say this time. This place was quite different to the last, with a run-down, obvious look that screamed ”dodgy!” It definitely wasn’t the nicest place to be on my weekend. To this day, it frustrates me that police still have not done anything about this place (which I have been supplying evidence on for the last year, and even seen women fleeing from at night, dressed in metallic, skimpy attire).

Waiting in the front room a massage lady greeted me, asking if I had an appointment. After introducing myself I went through my spiel and explained again that I was just there to give some Easter gifts to people in the community – no catches. The woman (who I gather was the manager) was hesitant to accept, telling me that they already had chocolate. OMG, it’s chocolate not a gun, I thought to myself. I’d eat it all myself if I weren’t intolerant to dairy (haha). Eventually, she passed me onto a fellow worker who seemed somewhat more excited about the prospect of free chocolate and I handed them a flyer with my details. Again I sensed suspicion, thick in the air.

“What is this??” questioned the manager.

It’s a shame that these women have to be so distrustful of those who mean them no harm, as opposed to those out to exploit them, however it is something I hope to see change over time. I explained that I’d helped other young women who were new to Brisbane, and that the flyer was a simple way of passing on my details in case anyone was looking for a friendly face while visiting our city. The manager seemed intrigued, and I decided it was time to leave it at that. Trying my best to keep my game face on, I walked back to my car, exhaling only when I was out of view. This wasn’t as easy as I’d planned in my head!

Just as I was about to get into my car I noticed an Asian manicure shop beside me, and decided I may as well distribute some gifts there too. By this time I was feeling pretty deflated, so I was utterly relieved when the young worker seemed only too happy to accept the gifts.

“Oh, it’s like a random act of kindness thing yeah?” I heard a young manager/supervisor say as she walked over to join us.

FINALLY. Someone who understood.

“Oh my gosh is all of this for us!?” she exclaimed excitedly as I passed her a box of chocolate rabbits, hot cross buns and chocolate roses. Looking up, she must have sensed the exhaustion in my face, asking if something was wrong.

“No, no,” I laughed shakily (whilst also feeling like I WAS going to cry from the relief of having someone finally see my gift of generosity for what it was supposed to be). “It’s just that…I guess some people don’t quite understand why I’m doing this. It’s as if they expect that I, I don’t know, have an agenda or something…” I admitted.

The young woman hugged me, overjoyed and thanking me profusely for the gifts. I walked back to my car with relief, glad that at least someone had appreciated the gesture.

By this stage I was really tired, but also determined to visit as many places as possible, so I traveled out to a shop I’d come across last year (where I’d given assistance to a young Chinese woman after a particularly bad client left her in tears late at night). Sadly, there seemed to be a lot of confusion over whether she was, or wasn’t there, with the ML on reception telling me that there was noone there by that  name, before also saying that, “X isn’t here today…”, and then swapping back to saying she didn’t know who X was. I couldn’t do much in that circumstance, so I passed along some gifts and made my way out, leaving my name with them in case X returned at some point.

The final shop on my list was a Thai massage place that I recently visited (mentioned in the beginning of this blog), which – to my delight – actually appeared to be a legitimate massage shop. I felt much calmer about entering this place; the open areas and bright, natural lighting coming through the windows (which distinctively lacked newspaper) made me feel more at home.

“Hello!” I said, greeting the manager. “I had a massage with ”X” last week and was hoping to thank her for doing such a great job. I’ve got a few little Easter gifts I’d love to give you guys if that’s okay?” Waiting for the cold stare and suspicious questions, I was relieved when she happily went and brought out the young masseuse. “Ohhh kopkunka!!” she cried when she saw what I’d brought her, bowing politely. “Thank you, kopkunka, kopkunka!” 

It was an amazing feeling to know that I’d made a difference to at least a few women in the massage industry, even though my attempts to show kindness did not go as smoothly as I’d envisioned. I am hopeful that at least one woman from the illegal venues I visited will experience some happiness from my gifts; if they lead to even one woman to contacting me, it will not be in vain.

To end on a positive note – I am also currently in discussions with some influential members of Australian organisations, educational sectors, and members of the media, who I hope will be able to work with me toward our goal, which aims to eventually see the men in these venues held accountable for their exploitation of foreign women. I will keep working toward this goal, and I hope for more good news in the future.

S

xo

The exploitation of women in QLD Massage venues – I won’t give up the fight

Friday December 5th: Updates & Musings 

1911748_10152018360067483_721426631_nHi guys. It’s been a while since I’ve written about my investigations into Brisbane’s massage industry, but I’m happy to say that there have been some exciting things to come to light as of late. It’s nice to see progress, as tiny as it may be, as there have been many times I have felt too worn down to go on.

I guess when you’re so deeply involved in something, it can be difficult to know at the time how it may go on to affect your mind, body and spirit. Having to trawl through explicit adult forums where punters discuss women like the latest new toy of the week, can be really difficult. Seeing these men discuss how police do nothing can get really disheartening. Watching them laugh as they joke about giving traumatised women ”something to really cry about” is something else entirely.

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Eventually it all became too much, and I had to take a few months out. But I never forgot, and I never stopped being open to what new opportunities  might present themselves to me.

Just recently, I was contacted by a journalist who wanted to shed light on this issue. I’m not able to discuss it in detail just yet, but I did pass on some crucial information that might help with exposing this issue. I’ve also been in contact with a certain individual from the Licencing Enforcement Unit, who is now forwarding my information onto an investigator. This is encouraging, given that the detective/officer I went to early this year, took more than 6 months to respond to my questions on what had happened to my research (which appeared to be very little).

In better news…Punters have been getting very nervous about the Brisbane massage scene – and so they should. It’s about time they felt some discomfort. From their own posts, I have seen them express anxiety about the increase in news reports on illegal prostitution in Brisbane, and the possibility of a crack down on organised crime pre-election.

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This is good to know, because I have felt so disheartened at times. Frustrated, because some of these venues have been open for years, and I find it hard to believe the police know nothing. I also feel frustrated because disgusting individuals are still exploiting these women, and then blaming them for being ”dirty greedy bitches”, who ”should find a real job if they don’t like it”. Oh yes, because it’s SO easy for someone with little English or a western education to just go out and get a well-paying job isn’t it?!

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One of the hardest thing for me in all of this, is knowing that in revealing the punters, it is impossible not to expose the girls involved in providing illegal services. My fear is that once again, society will frown upon them while the men retain their status and invisibility.

Many men who abuse these women think that they are doing them a favour, by exchanging money for illegal sexual services. But they couldn’t be more wrong, or less of a decent human being, because a real man/woman is someone who sees someone in need, and does what they can to make a positive change in that persons life. Choosing to “help” them by satisfying your own sexual desires, is selfish and disgusting. You are not helping that person to rise above their circumstances… You are keeping them there.

So to all the punters – here’s a revolutionary idea…next time you meet a woman who is struggling financially, how about putting $30 toward some groceries for her, instead of paying her to tug your lonely dick? Better yet, if you have connections to link that person up with someone who can provide training and career/financial assistance, then do it.

Women and men are NOT objects that you can ”help” by treating them as toys for your own  fantasies. Start looking at these women as human beings worthy of respect and assistance. You just might have a chance to become a decent human yourself.

An Open Letter to Black Throne Tattoo – Ditch Ryan Parsons!

Note: This is a follow up email in response to the recent behaviour of Ryan Parsons, an employee of Black Throne Tattoo. BTT have stated that they do NOT endorse or support Parsons behaviour. I would also like to note now, that if I receive hate mail and threats from followers of Parsons, it will only serve to prove the impact of his misogynistic comments (which he deems, a joke).
To see the previous story, click here.
June 2nd, 2014
Hi Clint,
While I respect your help and apologies so far, I am greatly disappointed with Ryan Parsons’ apology (see picture attached). It simply sounded as if he were saying, “I got in trouble but I don’t think I should have, but I have to apologise, so I wrote this, but screw everyone because I do what I want.’
There was nothing in Parsons ‘apology’ that sounded remotely sorry, or ’provoked debate’ in a healthy way – as he suggested.
If Ryan had made a thought-provoking comment such as, ‘I’ve seen a lot of violence toward women in the news lately – do you think we need a culture change?’ or ‘What do people think about the need for greater equality?’ those would have been questions which ‘encouraged discussion.’
What Parsons did, was to make bold, misogynist comments, which did not create healthy discussion or show in any way that ‘he respects women’. They created a lot of trolling, and whenever a woman tried to speak up to say that she was upset with what Parsons had written, she was called by Parsons, or other men, all sorts of horrible things. One man’s response was: ‘Too damn funny. Look at all the comments of the angry girls with dirty peaches. Haha struggles real.’ – this was posted under Parsons ‘Vagisil’ drawings. Similarly, Parsons told a woman to ‘buy some cream smelly pants!’
Nothing in his responses has shown respect to women.
When it comes to Black Throne Tattoo, I have nothing against the shop or staff such as yourself, as I have only seen professional responses from yourself, and heard good reports from customers. I make it clear now that I do not encourage boycott’s of your shop, but I do expect you to take responsibility for the actions of your staff, and therefore am calling on you to uphold your store values and fire Ryan Parsons.
Parsons is a reflection of your store. If you state that you will not tattoo people with poor attitudes, or tattoo anything that is racist, why would you employ someone who makes hate-speech against women and insults customers?
If I were to walk around my workplace saying ‘Fuck aborigine rights! Bash Abo’s!’ I would be fired on the spot (and so should anyone who would say something so disgusting). If I turned around and said, ’Lolz, I was just joking. I love and respect indigenous people – I was just provoking discussion,’ no one would take that seriously.
No-one can honestly take Parsons seriously.
I am calling on BTT to take responsibility for your business, and ditch Parsons. Should BTT fail to act promptly, I will not hesitate to take this further.
Please act now and ensure that your business is not affected negatively.
Thank you again,
Regards,

Sheenah

Brisbane Tattoo artist calls on followers to ”Bash Women” & “Fuck Women’s Rights”

TRIGGER WARNING – GRAPHIC CONTENT AND IMAGERY DISCUSSING SEXUAL ABUSE

Yesterday morning I was at the gym when I heard the news headlines for the day. They included the regular stories – the increased cost of living, the budget, the economy, cute little ‘fluff stories’, and of course, the news that another woman had been murdered.

The news report told of a Chinese woman’s body being found naked and injured in Melbourne city, assaulted by a man who had been ‘living rough’  on the streets. She was simply walking to work when she was sexually assaulted and murdered.

Before I even had time to adjust to this news, I was bombarded with more stories of violence against women.  Following this report came news updates that Gerard Baden-Clay was still pleading ‘Not Guilty’ to murdering his wife Alison, whom he was cheating on, along with reports that Oscar Pistorius  was pleading mental insanity to shooting dead his girlfriend.

And despite the overwhelming daily news reports that violence against women is impacting on millions of women every day worldwide (such as the 200+ Nigerian school girls who are still missing), still it seems that many are too desensitised by a culture of violence, misogyny and sexism, to see that violence against women is a serious issue. If you need more proof, just look at the Elliot Rodger fan pages for evidence.

Perhaps one of the worst displays of hatred toward women that I saw yesterday however, was that of a local Brisbane tattoo artist named Ryan Parsons who thought it would be funny to upload one of his designs to Instagram. The image, which featured a naked woman head first in a dumpster, with her hands bound, her shoes strewn on the ground, and a bird feasting on her genitals, was hash-tagged ‘fuck women’s rights’ and ‘bash women’.

Not one to just focus on women, he also made a homophobic slur, by complaining that “some homo” had reported his image.

Note: image has been censored by myself for this post.

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Equally disturbing, was that this was not simply a design – it was a photograph of a real tattoo he had put on someone’s body. I wasn’t sure whether to be more repulsed that  someone had brainstormed such an image into existence, or that someone agreed to tattoo it on an individual. I later found out that this image was in fact (according to Parsons) designed by, and tattooed onto, a woman.

instagram tattoo meaning

Without being able to speak to this woman myself, I will not pretend that I know what is going on in her mind or what this means to her (other than what Parsons himself has disclosed), however I still find the imagery highly disturbing, If Parsons is indeed telling the truth, then I also find it highly disturbing that this woman encouraged him to send out a giant ‘fuck you’ to women and their rights to safety.

Customers and social-media users were outraged, and rightly so.

opinions

After many complaints, the image was removed; however Parsons then uploaded the following “community service’’ announcement, with the patronising title “let’s have a little hug” – clearly intended as a follow up to his last post which he was made to remove.

let's have a little hug

It seems that Ryan views the assault of a woman, left to rot in a dumpster while animals eat her organs, as ‘’satire’’.

Considering the rise in female tattoo customers, it seems odd that Ryan would purposefully choose to alienate and enrage a huge section of his client base – especially since he has a girlfriend whom, it would seem, he cares for and respects very much.

While certain social media users jumped to his defense, labeling him a loving father and “the loveliest person’’, there was no grey-area. Parsons himself, with his comments, hash tags and designs, made it perfectly clear that women, their safety, and their rights are not to be respected.

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Individuals such as Ryan are a giant embarrassment not only to society, but also on the Tattoo industry. As many social-media users (including customers) noted, the tattoo industry already has a dubious reputation which it has been fighting to change. It is such a shame that individuals like Parsons are choosing to further this stigma and make it harder for their own industry.

“There are amazing tattoo artists who work there that most likely don’t share the same views as Ryan and have families to feed. They don’t deserve the backlash…” wrote one customer. “[I have been] to the shop multiple times and would hate to see it get a bad rep because of one guy. There’s enough bad reputation around the tattoo industry already.”

Although my initial train of thought was for people to boycott Black Throne Tattoo, I quickly realised that the actions of Ryan Parsons are not necessarily conducive of the business. While the responses I saw online were highly negative toward Parsons and his attitudes, many suggested that Black Throne be given the opportunity to respond to the behaviour of their employee. One girl tried contacting Black Throne on Instagram and received a message from Black Throne Tattoo’s Clint Steele, condemning the actions of Parsons.

“I’d like to apologise for the post and the offence it has caused. Myself and my business partner in no way condone Ryan’s actions and we were the ones that asked him to remove it. My apologies,” wrote Steele.

While it was good to hear that Steele did not support the actions of his employee, iat the time that his comment was issued I found it somewhat disappointing to see that he decided to issue the apology in a way in which noone else would see. Instead of replying to the comment on his business’ page, he went onto the Instagram user’s personal page, chose a random photo, and posted the apology there. In a way, it suggests that Black Throne are not ready to publicly display their condemnation of Ryan Parsons, but are instead only offering ‘discreet’ apologies.

As I had seen a lot of support and praise for Steele and other artists at Black Throne by women in my community, I thought I would give the company the opportunity to share their views before assuming that they supported Parsons. I sent an email to Clint explaining that many in the community were upset by his coworkers behavior, but also making it clear that I understood his actions may not necessarily reflect the ethics of the entire company.

I received the below reply:

From: clintsteele68@gmail.com
Subject: Re: Complaint regarding Ryan Parsons
Date: Tue, 1 Jul 2014 15:24:11 +1000

Hello Sheenah,

Ryan will be posting an apology today.
Black Throne Tattoo in no way supports Misogyny or violence of any kind.
The posts put up by Ryan were his own doing on his own social media.
Thanks
Clint
At present I have been really pleased with the way in which BTT (Black Throne Tattoo) have responded so far, and am hopeful that Parsons will not only issue an apology, but that he will also come to understand why his behaviour was so offensive and dangerous.

As one user suggested, perhaps this will help to bring about important discussion and help dispel some myths about the tattoo industry – if it is indeed handled professionally.

“This could actually be an opportunity for the tattoo community to help dispel some of the negativity associated with the industry by collectively saying, ‘Hey! This is not what we’re about and we do not support this. This is awful and should rightly be condemned.'””

I could have taken this story to the media, but at the end of the day, I have been satisfied so far with how BTT have responded. I write this blog not because I want to take down BTT or see their business suffer, but because I want to highlight a dangerous issue, the crux of which is that we live in a culture which excuses rape and violence as ”entertainment”.

It is unfortunate that so many men and women still see VAW as something to joke about… something to tattoo on their bodies…something to serve forever as a reminder that abuse is  ‘just a joke.’

So long as individuals such as Parsons continue to post dangerous and harmful messages, there will always remain a need to call-out such behaviour. With so much violence in our world, when will we decide that enough is enough?

– SQ

End note: [6:47pm] I am yet to see Parsons official apology, but I am hopeful that it will be issued.

[9:00pm] I saw the apology issued by Parsons, and have to say that he proved a lot of people right. His ‘apology’ is barely that, and sounds more like he got smacked by management and issued a ‘I got in trouble so I have to apologise – but fuck you and fuck them’ response. There was nothing in his original post which encouraged a healthy discussion of the problem that is violence against women…it was a one-dimensional post meant to anger women and cause offense. Parsons is so deluded it is not even funny.

If you would like to raise these issues with BTT – please email clintsteele68@gmail.com

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