Compassion and the State of the Industry

If you’re not a frequent customer then you may not be aware of the new legislation that our leaders just signed. It’s called FOSTA/SESTA, and while I’m not writing this to explain to you what it entails (read about it here), I do want to make my beloved clients and friends aware of what it does.

It has a profoundly chilling effect on advertising and communication for providers. Some sex workers rely very heavily on websites to reach and screen potential clients, as well as social media like Twitter. This means that some of us will be making significantly less contact with both clients and other providers. This in turn has a few effects:

  1. Some men and women will be more likely to make an exception for a new client because her options are limited and she needs to pay her rent and feed her family.
  2. She will be less able to screen out a client who poses a physical threat to her. I consider myself extremely privileged, in that I have another source of income. However, some of my friends and colleagues are not as stable and I fear for their well-being.
  3. Some workers may be forced onto streets and into bars as a last resort. This multiplies the risk of violence and victimization.

If you read the Wikipedia link above, you may be asking, “But Marissa, what’s so wrong with ending sex trafficking? That sounds like a hell I’d never wish on anybody.” You’re right, it is an unspeakably awful thing that needs to be erased from our society. There’s just one problem. What I do and what sex traffickers do are two entirely separate things. I love what I do. I do it for fun and power and love of my clients and friends. I’m not hurting anybody – in fact I heal wounds and lift spirits, and motivate positive change.  At the time of this writing, the Wikipedia page says the laws “clarify the country’s sex trafficking law to make it illegal to knowingly assist, facilitate, or support sex trafficking.” What I (and untold thousands of other men and women) do isn’t trafficking in the slightest, yet it’s rocking the entire foundation upon which we work and live.

And because it’s so unspeakable and taboo, it shuts down any conversation regarding the actual effects of the law. Freedom of speech issues aside (a phrase I never thought I’d write), it has an effect that will be detrimental to your favorite guy or girl. No politician in his right mind would vote NO on a sex trafficking bill. I don’t blame them. I can imagine the smear campaigns that would result. They want to keep their jobs too, and they’re not afraid to put a big dent in free speech – or to hurt the providers they themselves frequent – to do that.

If you take anything from this article, let it be this: Treat your providers with compassion. We’re hurting right now.