Here’s something you may have missed as the world has continued to crumble around you: a bill that would take away your internet privacy has reached the Senate floor. Very cute of our lawmakers to sneak in these lil’ easter eggs while we’re all distracted by a global pandemic.
The proposed bill is called the Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies Act, aka the EARN IT Act. You may be looking at this and thinking, “I mean, eliminating abuse and neglect sounds like a good thing?” That’s true. This bill sounds nice. It markets itself as a bill that will help put an end to child pornography, which sounds awesome. But here’s the thing: the bill uses the fear of sexual exploitation and abuse to pass a law that will completely infringe on people’s privacy.
The bill was introduced by Sen. Lindsey Graham, which is honestly the first red flag. The EARN IT Act, in practice, would eliminate end-to-end encrypted services. K, wtf are end-to-end encrypted services? Valid question. End-to-end encryption (E2EE) is a method of secure communication that prevents third-parties from accessing data while it’s transferred from one end system or device to another. In layman’s terms, it’s what keeps your conversations and data private and between you and the person you are communicating with online. Think of it this way: do you want the government to read through your DMs?
Decriminalize Sex Work, a national advocacy organization, made an animated short that breaks down why this bill is dangerous:
This isn’t the first bill of its kind. In 2018, the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act and the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act, collectively known as FOSTA-SESTA, was passed under the guise of cracking down on sex trafficking. At face value, FOSTA-SESTA is meant to stop sex traffickers from using the internet to conduct their heinous crimes. However, when you look more closely, you’ll see that it prohibits anyone from using the internet to advertise sexual services, including consenting adults who are trying to go about their business safely.
Many consensual sex workers use the internet to find and screen clients before meeting them, as well as a way to form community and check in with each other about which clients are safe and which are not. So, taking this resource away removed a safety net from sex workers. Sex workers have been put in harm’s way because of FOSTA-SESTA, and this could go even further with the EARN IT Act.
Think about it: if a sex worker’s client knows they could be caught by the authorities because the government is allowed to look at their private messages, they’re probably not going to be as willing to communicate with the sex worker prior to meeting and provide information to let them know they are safe and not a predator. Privacy violations like this leave sex workers without safety resources and push consensual sex work underground, making it much more dangerous.
But it’s not just sex workers who will be affected by the EARN IT Act. There are plenty of communications that should be kept private, like those between lawyer and client, therapist and patient, doctor and patient, etc. So many of our interactions are online these days, especially with quarantine, and many of those private conversations should be kept that way. Also, I don’t want people accessing my nudes for free!
Bills like this often pass unanimously because lawmakers don’t want to look like they’re easy on sex trafficking or child pornography. But the gag is that that’s not what these bills are really about. They’re about gaining access to private interactions so they can use them as proof to criminalize.
If you want to protect your privacy and the privacy of those whose livelihoods depend on it, call your senators and ask them to vote against this bill. And if you want to send them an email, here is a link to help you easily do that!
Ding ding, bitch, it’s International Whores’ Day! Despite what you might think, this isn’t just the one day a year that a girl can dress like a total slut and nobody can say anything about it (that’s every day, babe), it’s more of a day meant to raise awareness about sex workers’ rights. It’s a day for sex workers and allies to gather and demand the end of police and state violence, whorephobia, stigma and shaming, and advocate for the decriminalization of all sex work.
June 2 commemorates the 1975 occupation of Église Saint-Nizier church, where thousands of sex workers gathered to protest their inhumane working conditions. Forty years later, sex work is still wildly misunderstood and stigmatized, and sex workers are still struggling to be protected instead of condemned by the law. Again, we totally support your right to dress like a whore in celebration of today, but we also encourage you to do a little more. Here are five easy ways to support sex workers today and tbh every day.
1. Go to an Event
There will be lots of marches, parties, and gatherings to celebrate and honor today. Hit up your friend Google and see what’s going on in your city. If you can’t find anything, gather your friends and talk about sex work in a positive light. Maybe some of your friends have some problematic ideas about it, or just don’t know enough about it in order to have an informed opinion. Maybe you don’t either. Change that! Spend the day having a dialogue with people about the issues sex workers face: poor working conditions, police brutality, stigmatization, and laws that actively put them in danger. Wherever you decide to gather, make sure you’re reflecting on what today is about. Be the hero you deserve!
2. Donate to an Organization
There are a lot of amazing organizations that help sex workers — The Sex Workers Project, The Sex Workers Outreach Project, and Lysistrata to name a few. Most of these organizations provide legal aid to sex workers who need it, and work to end the stigma and shame that sex work is met with far too often. These kinds of organizations are usually people’s first thought when wondering where to donate, so throwing them some money is really helpful. Plus, donating to charity is like, so hot right now.
3. Help End the Stigma
I’ve been talking a lot about stigma, so let’s take a deeper dive, shall we? There are many different jobs that are considered sex work, such as stripper, adult film actor, dominatrix, web cam performer, escort, or someone who sells sex for money. Some of these are legal, some are not (mainly selling sex for money). However, they are all stigmatized. People look down on sex workers, as if they are “dirty,” “low class,” or “desperate for money.” This, my good bitch, is f*cking stupid. Sex work is work, and if we’re being real, the only reason it has this negative connotation is because sex workers are often womxn, and people are uncomfortable with the idea of a woman using her body as a means for making money. It’s a form of slut shaming, and slut shaming is literally so lame. So, once you yourself realize how *rude* it is to look down on sex workers, make sure your friends do the same. Correct people when they say offensive sh*t about sex workers or use words like “hooker,” “prostitute,” or “whore” in a derogatory way. Speaking about sex workers in this other-ing way isn’t just mean, it’s dangerous. It persuades people to think that sex workers don’t deserve rights or to be treated humanely. And that is what we call “evil bullsh*t.”
4. Educate Yourself & VOTE
Okay, let’s talk about these laws that are putting sex workers in danger. One of the best examples of this is the Stop Enabling Sex Trafficking Act (SESTA). Now, you’re probably thinking, “Wait, sex trafficking is bad…so a law named for stopping it must be good, right?” Think again, b*tch! In theory, SESTA is supposed to make it easier to stop people from using the internet for sex trafficking. However, since people often forget to distinguish between sex trafficking and consensual sex work, this law has made things harder and more dangerous for those who chose to do sex work. Online communities are where a lot of sex workers find their business, and how they communicate with each other and stay safe. Without online, regulated sites, many sex workers are forced offline and into less safe spaces where things aren’t monitored as well, such as the streets. Also, just as a note, Ivanka Trump advocated for this law, so. Anyway, there’s a lot to know about these kinds of laws, and it’s important to read up on them, know which lawmakers are for/against them, and vote accordingly. Also — and I cannot stress this enough — please remember to decipher between sex trafficking and sex work. Not doing so does a huge disservice to sex workers and only puts them in harm’s way.
5. Give Sex Workers Your Money
If you’re into it, go enjoy the amazing services of sex workers. Buy some lapdances, purchase some porn, do your thing. Sex workers love getting paid for what they do. I mean, don’t we all? Show them some love and TIP THEM WELL, GOD DAMNIT.
Happy International Whores’ Day! Now get out there and live your best whore life!
For more on this topic, listen to this special episode of the Betches Sup podcast with author Angelina Lombardo. She covers her own experiences with sex work, the movement to decriminalize it and the risks of waiting too long to do so.
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