On April 11, Trump signed into law two new bills that sex workers say will literally kill them.
The bills - Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) and Stop Enabling Sex Trafficking Act (SESTA) makes websites liable for the content they publish. This means that many online services - that host adult content are now taking down user websites and user accounts to avoid legal action.
Many online activists - primarily consensual sex workers - have criticised the bill for attacking freedom of speech, saying it does nothing to help sex trafficking victims. Instead, it's erasing their safe spaces where they can advertise their services, share safety resources, and freely express themselves.
And although it might be as late as January 2019 before arrests can be made, these bills have already sent shockwaves across the internet.
One of the websites key to the FOSTA debate was Backpage, an online classifieds site where users frequently – but not primarily – advertised for sexual services. Federal authorities seized Backpage on Monday, two days before Trump even signed the bills, demonstrating that the FBI never really needed FOSTA’s backing to indict the site to begin with.
Now almost two months after the introduction of these new laws, many more websites have shutdown, and sex workers and their supporters have begun to mobilise.
In this episode, we speak to Liara Roux, a sex worker, independent adult media producer and director, a political organizer focused on freedom of expression for adult workers online, and an advocate for decriminalization and protection of consensual adult activity including queer and sex worker rights and safety worldwide.
In this episode, we talk about:
- What is FOSTA/SESTA?
- Who supports it?
- Who opposes it?
- Who does FOSTA/SESTA affect?
- How automated bots are removing your adult content with very little oversight or human input
- Why FOSTA and SESTA are about consensual sex work and NOT sex trafficking
- In what ways does FOSTA and SESTA hurt individuals rather than help them?
- What is sex trafficking?
- Should internet companies be responsible for their user content?
- Where it all started with Kamala Harris and Backpage
- Relationship dynamics between sex workers and their clients
- Bounded authenticity and sex work
- Is sex work authentic?
- Are all relationships transactional?
- Class movement and sex work
- The economics of porn
- Mindgeek’s crazy monopoly on porn
- Sex at the margins by Laura Augustin
- Why criminalising sex work does not help victims of sex trafficking
- The death of Backpage and Cracker as advertising platforms for consensual sex work
- The organisation rewarding $25k to sex workers who’ll out congressmen clients who supported FOSTA/SESTA
- Stormy Daniels, the sex worker attempting to dismantle the US presidency
- Twitter shadow bans
- Switter.at, the sex worker alternative to Twitter with over 40k users
- Temporarily Yours by Elizabeth Bernstein
- How will sex worker clients be affected by FOSTA/SESTA?
- Sex Worker Exclusionary Feminism (SWERF)
- The history of marriage
- Why and how FOSTA/SESTA has created a seller’s market due to increased risk
- How can you help sex workers?
Want to show your support? Visit survivorsagainstsesta.org
Follow Liara Roux on Twitter for more updates as they unfold.