On FOSTA, Sex Work and My Congressional Twitter Followers


Yesterday Donald Trump signed into law the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) — much to the dismay of sex workers across the country. If you’re going to pass legislation that directly impacts the lives of sex workers without listening to their concerns, it proves that you don’t care at all about their safety.

This bill is disguised as a way to help sex trafficking victims, but in reality it’s going to push trafficking (along with consensual sex workers) off the Internet and onto the streets, especially because Backpage.com — a major online marketplace for sex workers — was shut down by the Justice Department soon after FOSTA was approved by Congress.

Shutting down Backpage doesn’t mean sex traffickers will stop what they’re doing. They’ll just be driven underground, where it’s harder to track their activities. Trafficking victims were listed on Backpage, which law enforcement could contact (to get IP addresses) to help track them down if they disappeared.

A big advantage of advertising on the Internet is that it can help you weed out unsafe clients. FOSTA puts consensual sex workers in danger by making it a crime to share lists of dangerous clients. If women aren’t able to safely screen clients online, it’s pushing them to the streets where sex work is much more dangerous.

I find Trump’s cognitive dissonance in signing this bill absolutely fascinating. He has reportedly paid women for sex (or in the case of Karen McDougal, offered her money after sex but she refused) so it’s bizarre that he would try to criminalize sex work further.

Meanwhile, one of the most upsetting aspects of FOSTA is the bipartisan support it received. It seems that the only thing both parties can agree on in this political climate is how much they hate sex workers. Many of the possible 2020 candidates on the Democratic side supported this bill.

It’s sad that I even have to point this out, but I feel the need to state the obvious: sex workers, including myself, want human trafficking to end. The idea of this happening to women and girls against their will is heartbreaking. No one supports trafficking and we need to find a way to combat it.

But lumping consensual sex work in with sex trafficking is not the way to do it. It won’t help anyone, victims included. I can’t stress this enough, IF YOU’RE GOING TO PASS A BILL THAT DIRECTLY IMPACTS THE LIVES OF SEX WORKERS, TALK TO SEX WORKERS!

I had always considered myself a Democrat, but seeing that Ron Wyden was the ONLY Democratic senator to vote against FOSTA was a real punch to the gut. On the Republican side, Rand Paul was the only senator to vote no.

So only TWO senators made the right call. It’s troubling to think that the bulk of the Senate is this clueless and misguided. Republicans and Libertarians, aren’t you the party of individual freedoms and liberty? I’m a consensual sex worker and I don’t want the government in my business. Shouldn’t you support that notion?

If you’re against sex work just because you yourself wouldn’t want to do it, then I am against all phony, morally bankrupt politicians because I myself would not be able to live with myself if I were one. You can’t legislate away someone’s existence just because that’s not the life you want for yourself.

And here’s where we get to the good part. I noticed on Twitter that two senators and one Congressman who follow me on Twitter all voted for FOSTA. I’m open about being a sex worker, and I regularly tweet nudes to promote my webcamming work. So it’s okay for members of Congress to enjoy me on social media but vote against my best interests?

I’m looking at you Senators Chuck Schumer and Bob Menendez, and you Congressman Brad Schneider. I’m sure they would use the same excuse Ted Cruz used when his account favorited a porn tweet: it was an accident! My aide did it! Or maybe they were doing research?

Sounds pretty dubious to me, and I’m calling bullshit on all of these Democrats voting in a way that’s sex negative, repressive and close minded. I mean, I’ve always known Democrats were pussies, but we’ve become the party that stands for almost nothing. If Democrats aren’t careful, they’re going to morph into Republicans. We’re getting closer to that all the time.

I didn’t vote in the last presidential election. It was the first time I sat out since I turned 18. I used to think voting was my civic duty and I was proud to get to vote. But if Democrats plan on running Kamala Harris or Kirsten Gillibrand in 2020, I have a feeling I’ll be sitting out again. Sex workers deserve to have their voices heard, and we deserves candidates who aren’t actively trying to ruin our lives and our livelihood.

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Ken Silverstein is the CEO, editor-in-chief, lead writer and primary sleaze purveyor for Washington Babylon. He's written for dozens of publications, from VICE to Wallpaper*. He's also a big fan of Sydney Leathers, a political scandal expert, porn performer, cat-mom of two from the Midwest and Washington Babylon's Senior Contributing Writer.