As a sex worker, opting out of politics, current events, updates to social media platforms and the status of laws and legislations isn't an option. Our work and day to day lives are, unfortunately, heavily affected by changes in all of these areas. The sex working community has been rallying for decriminalization on a local, national, and even global level for decades, long before I even stepped into my first whore heels. Now there's a push for progressive action in not only decriminalization, but active rights and protections, potential unions, accurate and beneficial media representation, less digital censorship and for moving the power and profit gained from the industry directly into the pockets of those doing the work. Weekly, we'll be gathering some of the latest political and pop culture headlines making waves in the community.
Rhode Island lawmakers are currently reflecting on studies regarding the impacts of previous legislation that "accidentally" legalized indoor commercial sex, i.e. prostitution behind closed doors. The loophole in legislation actually shows to have decreased the number of rapes in the state by 31% and gonorrhea cases among women by 39% between 2003 and 2009. This loophole went unnoticed for decades, but when discovered 2009 the House quickly reversed the legislation. Now, due to overwhelming support for decrim, consideration of change seems to be brewing. Read the full article on the Providence Journal, here.
There's been an uproar in the British city of Bristol this month as the city council is pushing a proposal for an all-out ban on strip clubs. This proposal would force the only two strip clubs in the city to shut down—and has prompted strippers and activists to flood the inboxes of local politicians who have been pushing for the ban. The Bristol Sex Workers Collective managed to get on a private zoom call with prominent anti-strip club campaigner Helen Mott, and discussed how previous similar bans have led to zero decrease in sexual violence cases, which is the alleged goal of the proposal. The full piece is covered in detail by Josephine Huetlin on the Daily Beast, here.
The government of West Bengal has released a draft of the Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Care and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2021, which most lawyers and sex work advocate groups believe is an attempt to prohibit prostitution altogether. Both the All India Network of Sex Workers (AINSW), as well as the Durbar Mahila Samannaya Committee (DMSC), Bengal’s largest organization of sex workers are submitting separate letters to the Ministry of Women and Child Development seeking an extension of time for submitting comments and feedback. The government seems to be giving a significantly small window of time for suggestions for the 38-page bill, that has only been released in English. Read the full synopsis of coverage on The Wire, here.
In January 2021, Annie Brown launched the Lips app, largely in response to the updated Instagram TOS in December 2020 that ultimately targeted sex workers and digital adult content creators with strict censorship policies. Lips is an Instagram alternative built for historically marginalized creators who need a place on the internet to express themselves, free from biased censorship and harassment. IG has since elected a blanket-censoring policy towards sexual content, which disproportionately impacts women and the LGBTQ community. Reports have shown that bias encoded into the algorithms that moderate the content are more likely to flag content shared by women, queer, and trans folks. Brown is seeking to harness power and ownership in the community, by building something together. Read the full story on Maximm here, and follow @sugarworldwide on Lips as well!
If you haven't seen it by now, I'm questioning your TikTok algorithm. The viral, and now infamous video of Lily Moon, a stripper, OF creator, artist and sex worker, sitting on stage at a strip club mid-set, casually chowing down on a slice of pizza as the crowd showers her in singles racked up over 8.8 million views on TikTok, and of course was reposted all over Instagram and Twitter. After it's 15 minutes of fame, the app (which has tighter censorship policies than even IG) removed the video as well as Lily's entire account. Lily spoke to Buzzfeed about her thoughts on censorship, the discouragement of digital erasure, and that despite her iconic approach to stage sets, sex work is NOT easy work. Read more here.
Maybe some people aren't quite ready to talk about this, but sex workers pioneered the commercial internet as we know it. Pre-digital age, escorts were placing adds in the yellow pages, and in the back of mens magazines and alt-weeklies. When California cracked down on "pimping and pandering" laws in the late 80's, sex workers fled to the internet where they not only built their own websites, but they populated early chat rooms, fueled the rise of e-commerce that began with online porn, and later adopted cryptocurrencies as a means of survival to advertise their services. Read the full breakdown of the early 2000's digital landscape and how sex workers are being now impacted by digital censorship laws in the piece by Sofia Barrett-Ibarria on Motherboard (Vice), here.