“As entertaining as it is erudite.” - Observer
“Ambitious, meticulously researched and passionate.” - Independent
"Impeccably well-researched" - Huffington Post
"I disagree with just about everything she has to say" - Julie Bindel
Saturday, 27 April 2013
Many sex workers, at some point in their careers, have dealt with the abusive masturbator. That's someone who apprehends you, is not a paying client, and spews obscenities at you whilst masturbating furiously (clearly audible when they phone).
Obviously, on Twitter it's impossible to keep track of where everyone's hands are. But I couldn't help but be reminded of the abusive masturbators when yesterday I had this:
defend MamaMia? Does it matter?
By the way, where are the nice lady bloggers who claim to "care" so much when this happens? Nowhere to be seen. They seem to think their systematic shaming and casual dehumanisation doesn't matter or is, somehow, beneficial. That it doesn't implicitly endorse a system putting people in danger. Tell that to the Green River Killer, who used the widespread revulsion and rejection of sex workers to get away with so many murders for so long.
So on the one side, you have the Nice Ladies saying, 'it's okay to disrespect sex workers, because they get abused' and on the other you have the Creepy Fuckwits saying 'it's okay to abuse sex workers, because they are disrespected'. See how that works?
But I don't believe in censoring either of them, or making it a crime to say whatever hateful, ignorant, damn-fool thing comes into your empty head. I believe sunshine is the best disinfectant. I believe if those who have these thoughts don't feel free to speak them, we can never effectively challenge them. I know this is not a popular stand but it's one I've come through after a lot of thought and a lot of dickheads like ol' Hadtosay1 up there.
In any case, I'll be giving a talk on trolls - the history of anonymous criticism, and why freedom of speech is important (even for airheads and dickheads) - at the How the Light Gets In Festival in Hay-on-Wye in June. @Hadtosay1, there'll be a ticket on the door especially for you. Don't miss this valuable opportunity to say anything you fancy to my very noticeably scarred face. I look forward to seeing you there!
Friday, 26 April 2013
All About Women was a fantastic day and I feel privileged to have met so many interesting and talented people there, including people I would put in the category of genuine modern heroes.
As for Q&A… this is the Australian equivalent of Question Time, so I went anticipating a varied panel with a wide variety of opinions jostling to be heard. I was told Tony Jones was a strong moderator, so I went expecting him to rein in the conversation if things went off-piste. This was to be Q & A's first all-woman panel and expectations were high. The topics they circulated beforehand indicated I was in for a grilling while everyone else got softball. I went, not to put too fine a point on it, loaded for bear.
I thought it went pretty well. Opinions differed. Points of view were exchanged. Margaret Thatcher died. All in all, a good night. The producers seemed very pleased with the outcome.
So imagine my surprise, weeks later, that fellow guest Mia Freedman is still flogging her commentary about the appearance as content on her site MamaMia. The topic: should she apologise for continually insulting sex workers?
During the show Mia kept falling back on sloppy, ill-thought, and pat little lines that were easily countered. I found to my surprise a lot of common ground with Germaine Greer, hardly known as a fan of sexual entertainment, on the fact that conditions of labour and not sex per se are the most pressing issue for sex workers worldwide right now. Then in comes Mia with her assumptions about the people who do sex work (men AND women) and the people who hire them (men AND women). With Tony backing her up. So much for the disinterested moderator, eh? Maybe he felt bad for her. I don't know.
Here's the thing. I agree with Mia on this: I don't think she should apologise.
Why not? Because if she did it would be insincere. My first impression when we met backstage was that she was insincere, and damn it, a successful lady editor like her should have the guts to be true to herself and stand by her opinions no matter what they are.
Because the general public needs to see what kinds of uninformed nonsense that sex workers who stick their heads above the parapet get every single day.
Because she is a magazine editor who cares deeply about hits and attention, and clearly this is delivering on every level.
Because the sort of people who think sex workers should be topics of discussion rather than active participants are fighting a losing battle.
Because for every 100 people who visit her site, there is one who is both a parent AND a sex worker, who knows that what she is saying is rubbish. And another one who is the parent of a sex worker and loves them. Yes, that's right Mia: sex workers have families too. Believe it or not even I have an awesome, strong, feminist mother who loves and supports me no matter what. Why, it's almost as if we're people.
As for the ludicrous statement that she would lock up her daughter with the Amish - I'm sure I've mentioned that a relative of mine married a woman who was later arrested for solicitation, trying to get money to fund her drug habit? Guess where she grew up. Yeah, in the Mennonite community.
Not only do I not want Mia's apology, I don't need it. I have butted heads with far cleverer opponents than her and rest assured I sleep just fine. That a blogger (who knows sweet f. a. about sex work) keeps stirring up her supporters to hate on sex workers is not my dog. She's just joining the end of a very long and undistinguished queue.
Keep digging, Mia. I ain't gonna stop you. Keep writing off other people simply because they didn't have the privileges you did or didn't make the same choices you did, and you can't accept that. Get it off your chest, lock up your children, whatever you think you need to do to keep believing that makes you better than me. Keep being ignorant about the real issues and real people involved. May I gently suggest perhaps you have some issues about sex you want to work out in public, or this wouldn't be the biggest issue on your agenda weeks after the show went to air?
Mia, you have my express permission not to apologise. No, don't thank me… I insist.
Friday, 22 March 2013
The ability of what someone writes to shape an outcome weighs heavily in my mind, as I heard yesterday about the sudden death of Lucy Meadows, a trans woman who was mocked in the Daily Mail by Richard Littlejohn really rather recently.
In spite of being a teacher who reportedly was supported by her head, well liked by students and respected by the entire school community, Littlejohn went on a rampage about 'young minds' and all that sort of nonsense. In highly inflammatory language he invoked the sort of fear that people once also used to hold about homosexuals, about someone who was transitioning. In fact the exact sort of language used against every minority at some point: the what about our (white, 'normal') children? defence.
And now, on news of her death, the original piece has been hidden off the website - but lives on in web archives. Meanwhile loads of papers are reporting the death but misgendering Miss Meadows by calling her a man. So some shame... but no apologies. Many are angry; they should be.
Being monstered by the press is not easy to put up with - something I know firsthand. Everyone and their dog thinks because they saw some unflattering photo of you a tabloid swiped off of Facebook, that they are bigger experts on your own life and your well-being (and the well-being of those around you) than you are. Unlike Miss Meadows, however, I had years of knowing the moment of truth would eventually come and that it would not be pretty; I expected the absolute worst. A certain natural pessimism, perhaps, that protected me from the effects of being persistently bullied by people with far bigger platforms than the average troll.
Emails revealed by Jane Fae detail the extent of intrusion in Lucy Meadows's life after her transition hit the press: journos hassling her outside of work and home, ludicrous amounts of money being offered to people who knew her for photos, and more. This is NOT an extraordinary example of how they pursue people; this is par for the course. My granny was lied to by the Mail, told I had been in a car accident as was in hospital, in order to get personal details. Friends and family had their homes entered under false pretences; personal items were stolen. This is usual. This is how it goes.
Acording to Fae,
Lucy writes of how parents themselves complained that their attempts to provide positive comments about her were rebuffed ... The press gang, it seems, were only interested in one story: the outrage, the view from the bigots. The stench of money hangs around – it's widely believed among those connected with the case that money was being offered for these stories.Ha. Yes. This. Anyone who doesn't have a bad word to say about you? Those are the quotes and interviews that somehow mysteriously don't make it into the final story. Ever wonder why you read all about my drug-addicted dad but fuck all about my well-adjusted mum? It sure wasn't because they didn't talk to her. It was because she didn't have any dirt worth digging. Doesn't fit the monstering, you see. Doesn't allow bigots and haters to point and laugh and ridicule and feel superior to someone.
Lucy will no doubt have received not only unwanted press intrusion but foul letters from the public as well, seeing as the papers were kind enough to lovingly detail exactly where hateful jerks could find her.
This kind of treatment is not, I suspect, something that will change after Leveson. But that's another rant.
Three months after a monstering in the media is about the time you realise it has changed your life, and certain relationships with people, for good. I was fortunate in that I wasn't also going through a huge and important change of identity to the people who knew me, so I can only imagine what level of pressure that adds.
Early reports suggested Meadows may have succumbed to suicide; that will be the coroner's call. I deeply, desperately hope for the people who loved her that this is not the case. But I also know the realities and statistics of what trans women and men experience - a 42% attempted suicide rate, for starters - not to mention the personal danger they face in real life, and the harsh mental toll exacted by vast proportions of the population wishing them dead.
Coming less than 24 hours after the Press Complaints Commission's refusal to follow up on the hundreds of complaints about Julie Burchill's anti-trans tirade, it has not been a day when the British media covered itself in glory on the issue of how trans men and women are portrayed.
Not everyone has the strong support system to endure such hurtful abuse. But more to the point, we shouldn't need to have rhino-thick skins just to get on with private lives. Lucy Meadows was a private person, not a 'sleb. This was not a story. And yet she got the full-on treatment for... what, exactly? So some small minded folk could feel better about themselves? Pathetic.
Many journalists want the press to do better than this, but there seems to be no shortage of "name" columnists running a different show entirely. Not to mention the money-hungry story-sellers and editors and subs who let this sort of language into print. No one should ever have to endure the level of bullying Miss Meadows did. I hope for a day when endings like hers are not written by others.
Saturday, 2 February 2013
I've been called a pimp before. By Julie Bindel, to my face, and I laughed because it is so ridiculous: I have never profited off of anyone's erotic capital but my own… and arguably Billie Piper's, though that makes me no more and perhaps significantly less pimp-like than (say) her agent and the show's producers.
I don't get particularly offended by such obviously over the top labels. But the word itself has started to crop up more and more in the arguments surrounding sex work and the pros posed laws regarding prostitution. Take for example in Ireland, where the widespread assumption is that all sex workers are a) women and b) "pimped". Both of these are demonstrably and flagrantly not true, and yet are found in virtually any media coverage of the topic which is heavily influenced by an unholy coalition of extreme religious groups and extreme radfem ideologues.
The side issue dogging the proposed changes, that is, the discourse about what exactly constitutes trafficking and who exactly is trafficked, is of course pretty openly racist - both the words and the imagery. This has been covered in some detail and extremely well by eg. Laura Agustin, whose work on the topic I highly recommend.
Typical "trafficking" propaganda: shades of White Slavery all over the place.
Anyway, back to the concept of "pimp". Now we all know, or think we know, what a pimp is, and much of this archetype comes from highly fictionalised misrepresentations of Mr Slim's own work.
Go on, you know exactly what people mean by the word. What "pimp" implies. A man who runs women, lures them with money and romance, then turns them out to whoring, often beaten, always drug-addicted.
And he is black.
Starting to sound like casual use of "pimp" is dog-whistle racism, isn't it?
For the life of me I have never met a person even remotely like the stereotypical pimp, and yet I "know" they exist, largely because I have been told so over and over again. I've met streetwalkers, both drug-addicted and not; escorts and call girls, same; not one ever had what popular imagination would classify as a "pimp," but then I keep getting told I'm not representative, so maybe the literally hundreds of men and women, cis and trans sex workers I've met are just "not representative" too?
Occasionally you also hear talk of the "Eastern European gangmaster", but for some reason the class- and racially-evocative term "pimp" comes up far, far more often. Could that be because plain xenophobia just doesn't inspire the troops in quite the same way bald racism does?
Independent sex workers who organise their own affairs and work solo. Roommates who share a flat and both happen to sell sex. Managers running escorts agencies with a dozen or so girls they mostly interact with by text. Massage parlour owners. Women whose house is used by other sex workers, so technically I guess are madams. People who set up message boards and internet forums where clients and sex workers talk among themselves and with each other. All of these are people who get called "pimps" by the anti-sex lobby.
A guy in a crushed velvet suit on a street corner, keeping his girls high and working the neighbourhood? Not so many of those to the pound.
But, let's say he really is out there, because we all keep getting told he is. This working-class black man in the loud clothes who is sexually and physically aggressive and probably has a criminal record. This "pimp".
Do you think his choice of work isn't somehow constrained by society too? That he wouldn't rather be earning money some other way? Because anyone with any sense can surely suss out that a lot of activities, both legal and illegal, would be far more profit and far less hassle than running girls.
Iceberg Slim: hustling because it's not as if you were going to save him and his mother from poverty, were you?
This is the reality of waged work, all waged work, whether sex is involved or not. No one, but no one, has "free choice". If you think otherwise, remind yourself what you wanted to be when you grew up, and reflect on how exactly you ended up where you are now. Did you freely select from all career choices in the world, ever? Or did you choose as best you could from the options offered by your abilities and (more crucially) your circumstances? You know, like Iceberg Slim did?
Some folks seem especially resistant to acknowledging the truth about work, so I'll underline it some more. Entire towns in the North weren't full of miners because everyone there just happened to have the aptitude and preference for that sole job, but because it was the only job going. NE Scotland isn't full of fishermen because they have a particular concentration of people whose life's dream was to catch fish, but because that's what the job market offers. Everyone's outcome is the product of limited choices, from streetwalkers to the Queen. And no one's suggesting she needs to be "rescued" from her lack of career options.
If you want to improve someone's options, you address the things that constrain their choices in the first place. Poverty, addiction, education, to name a few. Not take away the only choices they have.
The pimp as we perceive him is a low-end tough. He's not exactly a criminal mastermind. And unlike a lot of the people who talk about "pimps" and whatnot, I know criminals. I have seen that life up close and fucking personal. I have lived in their neighbourhoods and their houses, and even in their families. I know that anyone who runs a business in the way the supposed pimp supposedly does is making little money, if any. What's 50% of that £10 anal bareback the anti-sex lobby claim is available in red lights everywhere? A fiver? Yeah, that sounds logical. Now pull the other one.
I know that his power - again, if he exists, because even when I was living in Cracktown, Pinellas County I saw shit that would stop your heart but I never once saw a "pimp" - is a power of an extremely limited kind. The power of someone with few and possibly no other options.
The anti-sex lobby's fantasy use of the term "pimp" is bogus and it is racist. Anyone who claims otherwise is being purposely disingenuous for the sake of striking fear into white, English-speaking, middle-class people.
Thursday, 31 January 2013
You may already be aware of the recent prostitution consultation in Ireland, which closed at the end of August, and the Justice Committee hearings which are going on now. At the forefront of campaigning was 'prostitution and trafficking NGO' Ruhama, which produced their own submission to the process (a submission that was, incidentally, highly reliant on numbers created by Melissa Farley, whose testimony on similar issues has already been deemed not good enough for Canadian court).
Data aside, however, it is worth asking the question of who Ruhama actually are. It would seem they have form on wanting to "save" fallen women, for according to the Irish Times Ruhama is run by two of the orders involved in running the infamous Magdalene Laundries. (Here is their list of trustees and directors.) The Magdalene Laundries were institutions where women and girls were separated from their families, subjected to slave labour, mentally and physically tortured. Many women died there.
A mass grave in Limerick - victims of the Good Shepherd Sisters, one of the orders that co-founded Ruhama. Photo via and copyright Bocktherobber.com
Even decades after the worst of the Magdalene abuses, the scandal is still ongoing: a recent submission to the committee investigating the laundries includes some shocking facts.
JFM describes from testimony how the women suffered abuse of various kinds — their hair was forcibly cut, they were beaten with belts until they bled and once the door to the outside world was shut on them, they were referred to by number not by name ...
...the State used the laundries as a way of dealing with births outside marriage, poverty, homelessness, promiscuity, domestic and sexual abuse as well as youth crime and infanticide. It chose to enslave women with the nuns rather than develop a female borstal.
"It repeatedly sought to funnel diverse populations of women and girls to the Magdalene Laundries. In return, the religious orders ensured a captive workforce for their commercial laundry enterprises," they wrote.
Survivors and witnesses told JFM how the women washed, ironed and sewed from dawn to dusk, were regularly beaten, not allowed to talk to one another and punished if they laughed. There was no regard whatsoever for their health or medical needs. If they stepped out of line, they were "put down the hole".
"This was a four by four room… There was nothing in it, only a bench — no windows. You were put in there; your hair was cut, more or less off completely. Your hair was cut, and you were there all day without anything to eat," one woman recalled.Before you start imagining this is a tale from some sepia-tinted past, know that the last Magdalene laundry did not close until 1996. I have heard from people by email and Twitter about women being institutionalised in the 1970s. It is also interesting to read the Wikipedia talk page on the subject. The fallout from the fates of the estimated 30,000 women in Ireland subjected to this "help" is still a real wound. This all continued to happen well into living memory.
Just one of the memorial stones commemorating the women from the mass grave in Limerick. Photo via and copyright Bocktherobber.com
Now I do not doubt there will be people who say, well yes, but this was a different generation and things have changed. Have they? Have they really? Who has been held to account for the systematic abuse of thousands of women and girls with the tacit approval of the Church and the government?
Jane Fae over at Huffington Post makes an excellent point that in the Hillsborough tragedy, when we consider the scale of denial and coverup, simply saying 'it was a different generation' is not good enough.
Well the Magdalene Laundries were scandal on a scale far greater than the Hillsborough tragedy, for many more years. So I think the same arguments hold. The people who did this should not be in any way involved with women and young people, ever. Could you imagine if the South Yorkshire police branched out and started a private security firm specifically for football matches? They'd be laughed and shamed out of town. Carry that thinking through: we should be laughing and shaming Ruhama far, far away from anything to do with the welfare of vulnerable women and children.
We still do not know the truth about what happened in the Laundries, nor who exactly was responsible, how many families it affected. To even consider letting Ruhama be involved with the prostitution consultation, much less any policymaking or aid, should be scandalous.
And yet it somehow is not. Anyone wish to explain exactly why?
(mega hat tip to Wendy Lyon and FeministIre for bringing this to my attention in 2010.)
Wednesday, 30 January 2013
Naturally the developments have been followed with some interest. The previous committee meetings have been webcasted and I and others have been tweeting live for people who can't get the webcasts under the hashtag #sexworkhearing on Twitter.
It has become increasingly of concern, however, that the people who have been invited to participate in this process do not include any former or current sex workers from Ireland or elsewhere. A number of groups, both for and against the proposed "Swedish model" legislation, have been claiming to speak on behalf of sex workers. The committee members have shown a great deal of curiosity about what sex workers' experiences are like. But to date none of the real stakeholders - the people whom any legislation will most affect - sex workers representing themselves - have been allowed to participate. The committee's meetings in Sweden and with Swedish law enforcement have not included any sex workers at all.
A protest was staged outside the second hearing and gained some positive media attention. However, that is not the same as being able to sit face-to-face (or shadow-to-face, should privacy be an issue) with the TDs themselves. So I gave Pat Neary of the Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality a ring to discuss. What followed was a very unsatisfying discussion, in which I got the impression that:
- The next hearing (originally scheduled for today) has been postponed due to a funeral, and is not yet rescheduled.
- Yes, sex workers will be included, but
- He could not tell me any details of who or when, and
- Future hearings will not be webcast or open to observers, also
- No transcripts of further evidence, redacted to protect identities or otherwise, will be provided.
Dear Mr Neary,
Thank you for speaking to me on the phone earlier. It is
to ask the people who have Committee hearing on the prostitution
proposals has had to be postponed, but of course it's perfectly
understandable given the circumstances.
As with many people who have been observing the proceedings in the
UK and further afield, I have become concerned that in the
testimony thus presented there have been no submissions directly
from former or current sex workers. While many of us did give
written submissions in the consultation last year, it is of course
a fact that well-presented testimony given in person is both more
influential and more enlightening, since TDs can ask questions back
and a discussion can unfold.
The webcasts of the proceedings have been popular and many people
are following on Twitter, discussing the information the committee
have heard so far. While this has all been very enlightening there
is one striking absence from the live hearings: anyone who is
currently or formerly engaged in prostitution.
The group most directly affected by any legislation to do with sex
work is the sex workers themselves. There have been many groups
appearing who have spoken on our behalf, both for and against the
legislation. Many of these then get questions from TDs wanting to
know what sex workers' experiences are like. Wouldn't it be better
to ask the people who have first-hand experience?
Obviously there are many current and ex sex workers for whom
privacy is a concern. However, that need not be a deterrent to our
direct contribution, since enquiries of all kinds have handled such
restrictions before. Consider for example in the recent UK Leveson
hearings, where the testimony was taken in private and then a
transcript made available with identifying information redacted.
Precedent has also been set in Ireland and elsewhere in instances
where eg. refugees whose lives might have been in danger can
present evidence anonymously.
The experiences of sex workers form a wide-ranging body of data
that is not, as yet, being heard. I expect that in the interest of
pursuing evidence-based policy and considering how many other
countries are watching the proceedings with great interest, that
the committee would agree voices representing various viewpoints
the sex work community must be heard. Many of us feel that we are
being excluded, and other people are speaking "for" us. In most
cases these groups are self-appointed and have not sought the input
of actual sex workers.
I fully understand that you were perhaps not expecting my phone
call earlier and so I am sure that the impression I got - that the
next hearing will be in private, that no transcripts will be made
available, and that no one can confirm for certain if and when sex
workers will be invited to present evidence - is simply a
miscommunication. Transparency is self-evidently necessary for
hearings such as these.
Of course should a suitable date be found, I would be happy to come
and speak to the committee. However I think it is much preferable
that people who are current sex workers should have preference over
former sex workers.
Please do feel free to share my letter with the members of the
committee and to pass on my regards to them.
Dr Brooke Magnanti
(Belle de Jour)
Tuesday, 29 January 2013
"What, the water's too cold for you? But it's bracing!" screeches the woman coming out of the sea in January, a time when no real Floridian would choose to swim outdoors. It's kindly meant and I'm always glad to hear her views because she is one of the few people in west central Florida who talks to me.
The beaches around Tampa, which were my home from 1975 to 1992, have taken on a new identity. Most of the shops are now owned by non-Floridians and there are even British- and Irish-themed pubs alongside fish and chip shops everywhere. It seems that almost overnight it's changed from The Sunshine State to The Housing Estate.
Of the 19 million people in Florida, over half were not born there, and 400,000 are British seasonal or permanent residents. That is not, in reality, a great number. But because so many Britons insist on emphasising their separateness, it feels as if they have taken over; British neighbours would go out in flip-flops and swimsuits in the middle of winter, some so heavily sunburnt and wearing sunglasses so you can't see their eyes. I made an effort to communicate by smiling deliberately at the ones I thought I was seeing out and about regularly, but this didn't lead to conversation because British people think Americans having conversations with strangers is weird.
I went to a place called "Corner Pub' and asked if they would sell me a bottle of Bud. Inside were a lot of elderly British men. I was told they don't sell that kind of pish, that it was Boddington's or nothing, and was back on the pavement in a few moments. I felt sure I had suffered discrimination and was bewildered as I had been there previously and bought a Bacardi Breezer from the former owners. Things have changed. I am a stranger in the place where I grew up.
I was born in New Port Richey, and although I have been in Britain for 13 years I have kept up the habit of chatting to shopkeepers and neighbours, despite it not being the done thing in British life. When I go home to Florida, though, most of the tills in my local shops are manned by big-company drones because the rapid expansion of West Central Florida saw all independent businesses close up long ago and chains move in to serve the incomer trade. I miss banter, the hail bubba, well met beach bum chat about the fishing, or what was on Q105 this morning.
More worryingly, I feel that public spaces are becoming contested. Where by "contested" I mean "nonexistent" - the building boom of the 80s and 90s ate up the region's previous local industry, orange groves and sponge diving. I watched green belt after green belt disappear (not to mention the aquifer) in the need to provide expanding populations with the golf courses and densely-lawned bungalows the new Floridians demanded should be built adjacent to the beach.
Think I'm kidding? Okay, go to Google Earth. Look for Boot Ranch, Florida. Look at the endless identical houses. I remember when Boot Ranch was a ranch - one of things, maybe you've seen it on TV, with acres of land, horses and cattle. I learned to ride horses and went to rodeos there. The agricultural legacy of Florida is long gone. When Virgin land their UK_originating flights at Tampa, I am told "Welcome to the Magic Kingdom." Not "Welcome Home." Because it isn't anymore.
There are, of course, other non-Britons in the area who may share my feelings but I'm not able to talk to them as easily about this situation as they are mostly non-Floridians, too. One Christmas I spoke to an elderly white woman about the non-native parsnips now being expensively imported into our shops, but she turned out to be Canadian and I was left grumbling to myself.
Hispanics have settled in Florida since it was a Spanish territory in the 16th century and are well assimilated (though the native Mocoso people of Tampa Bay might have something to say about that, that is if they hadn't all died out). Over half the people living throughout Florida today were born outside the state. Not surprisingly, at the petrol court (we stopped calling them gas stations because that confused incoming Britons) I rarely encounter another person born in Florida. I feel nostalgic for the days when a drive up US 19 didn't leave me feeling as if I had only just arrived in a strange country myself.
In the Seventies, when I was born, West Central Florida was a traditional working-class area. Now there is no trace of any kind of community - that word so cherished by sentimental readers of the papers. Instead it has been transformed into a giant, all-inclusive holiday resort complete with nasty clubs, problem drinking, and limited employment opportunities for the locals.
I suspect that many British people come for the nice weather and favourable pound-to-dollar exchange rate, especially if they have children. Estate agents don't worry about the local population they're displacing, of course. Instead there are polite codes for that sort of thing, such as the mention of "timeshare condos", which I believe is code for "people on holiday who don't really care about the place when they're not here." I can see Florida turning into a place almost exclusively for Western Europeans with money to spend and the poor locals who work 2 or 3 part-time jobs to support themselves and the tourism economy.
It's sad that I will never go back to the place that is my real home and see anything that looks remotely like my memories of it. But you know what? Migration happens. Change happens. My people were migrants to a new continent, a New World, and no matter what little village in Berkshire you were brought up in, your people were once migrants too. Mass immigration is making hypocrites of us all.