Fuck You, Pay Me: The Impacts of FOSTA-SESTA on Sex Workers’ Rights — Perspective of a Pro Domme.

This piece will be part of a larger series that explores the impacts of the FOSTA-SESTA legislation on various sex workers.

The large majority of sex workers, including FSSWs (full-service sex workers), Dommes, sugar babies, cam girls, escorts, and now many strippers, have been using online ad space and social media as a way to market their services and secure clients. In April 2018, two bills — the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA) and Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) — were signed into US law as a combined package deemed FOSTA-SESTA. The purpose of this law was to combat online sex trafficking and make it illegal for any online service to facilitate or assist in promoting sex trafficking.

The tragic irony of it all is that the law has not only caused sex trafficking to burrow deeper underground, but has made it dangerous for sex workers to carry out their transactions in a safe and controlled environment by being able to vet their clients using online tools and platforms. Congress has now begun reviewing the impacts of this law and are calling for data on how exactly FOSTA-SESTA has affected sex workers’ livelihoods. In other words, they’ve realized they’ve fucked up.

Subsequently, this has become very harmful to sex workers and their rights as laborers, as it has since removed platforms and increased censorship rules that many sex workers use for advertising. Instagram (now a subsidiary of the Fuckerberg conglomerate) has cracked down hard on any and all sex-related content. Many have felt its impacts, having their accounts shadow-banned, reported, and even deleted without warning. Some in the industry have since moved over to other social platforms like Twitter, where content is less regulated and policed.

I connected online with Pro Domina slash activist, artist, and musician Amara Noir. She discussed the changes that have occurred since the legislation passed, Her journey as a sex worker, and what she hopes to accomplish through Her art.

How were you introduced to Domming and what made you decide to start working as a Pro Domme?

I went into Domination somewhat blindly after the 2008 recession. I had been bartending in busy nightclubs & concert venues. There was a steep drop in My earnings & I sought out supplemental income looking to bartend/waitress private events and parties. I responded to an ad for a foot fetish party that would take place in a rented out floor of a strip club. Such gigs helped me to scrape by, a small few of them brought significant payouts. I would need more consistency, however, and thus applied to a dungeon within a couple months of My foot fetish debut.

Having been in the adult industry 11 years, have you noticed a change in the way clients can access your services? For example, what was it like before versus after the FOSTA-SESTA legislation passed?

When I started, craigslist still had adult gigs and adult classified ads which ran for $5-10. I had only trained at the dungeon for a few months before leaving to work independently. I got a $10 burner phone and found that it was much more efficient to post My own ads rather than trying to fit the whims of a random John’s “seeking” ad. This gave Me the power to promote My own interests, availability & boundaries while opening potential for numerous clients. A close friend of Mine was escorting at the time and shared Her knowledge in bidding on cheap hotel rooms. I screened clients  through a brief phone consult, and trusting My gut. I’m happy that I’ve had no dangerous encounters.

Back then, I didn’t want to be “chained to the computer.” My client list and related work history was limited enough then, that working primarily off phone contacts didn’t confuse Me. Now, I might not be able to place a client in mind I talked to 3 days ago because I’ve talked to so many in the interim and over the years.

I expanded My online presence joining twitter in 2012 & then joining adult phone service sites, and producing adult video content in 2013. It widened My audience & verified Me as a trustworthy name in FemDom. I wasn’t just a person posting to backpage who might be a bait & switch. The name on My content matched My ad. The familiarity put clients at ease when meeting in person. It was at this point I began to have freedom to travel the states at My desire – feeling confident I could book work in new cities.

When the censorship screws started tightening in 2016, I was pushing My limits with how hard I had to work to pull in consistent money. I was running on all cylinders while also beginning to suffer undiagnosed health issues. I clocked full time work hours producing a near-daily output of online content. However, at the time, sessioning with clients in real time still provided the largest portion of My income. Add in traveling a least once a month to tap new markets, networking at adult expos, collaborating with other models/producers, often hosting traveling workers at My apt. All this while feeling so off-kilter, so unlike Myself, which is to say in poor heath.

As it happens, I have Celiac disease.

I only discovered that vital information thanks to a cousin with a straight job (and health insurance) who had been diagnosed earlier that year. This was a chance discussion at her sister’s wedding reception – I bring this up cuz the beginning of 2016 was the start of the facebook algorithm impacting My life. Facebook had started suggesting My Domme IG account to followers (family, civilian friends) – basically it started outing people’s private work lives. For My own safety and privacy I had to delete facebook immediately. I lost touch with a lot of friends and family. No one knows what I’m up to. All or nothing kind of thing. I wasn’t allowed to exist online as both a Pro Domme and a sister, cousin, artist, (etc).

Then backpage went down.We were all scared of how we were going to maintain our livelihoods. There was no centralized and affordable means of advertising. Then FOSTA-SESTA was passed changing the dynamic of what was left.

I was lucky to have already established a name and years of contacts in the industry. I needed to cut back My travels for My health, but somehow I still got rolling inquiries for My home city of New York. The years of working overtime on video content and establishing My humble name in the industry was now an asset, a safety net. It was now My catalogue of passive income. I remember My nerves rattled that 1st month though. Really leaning into the anxiety and fear of “where will the business come from?” I logged hours every day “chained to the computer” scouring the web for advertising pages and directories. It was stressful. Time spent trying to resolve this new dilemma did not equal money earned or even site hits. Web Analytics told me I brought in My own traffic to amaranoir.com organically, rather than any of these directories or new ad sites.

How has this and increased censorship through so-called “community guidelines”  on Instagram affected your ability to advertise, reach clientele, and maintain a living?

My IG (@amaranoir) was deleted this past Oct. beyond what I’ve already mentioned. The shadow-banning was well in place before this and keeps many sex workers like myself from growth. It also excludes us from the world in general. We are not visible quite often, unless you are specifically seeking an individual out by name. Out of sight, out of mind. This makes it easier for people to stigmatize us and talk over us when addressing the very issues that affect us. Decriminalization for one.

The 1st month My IG was deleted I made only 1/2 my avg income. Currently I’m up to 3/4 or a little better. And I’m a privileged indoor worker with diverse revenue streams.

What is the favourite part of your job?

The humour and the necessity thereof.

Who amongst us wouldn’t appreciate coming home after a late night NYE celebration to receive a paid text from a man that says, “Mistress Look! My pooter is sparkling!” I had instructed one of My “sissy subs” to adorn himself festively for the holiday by smearing glitter on his butthole.

I had a long term sub over the other week and took an important call while in session. I didn’t want him to feel neglected, however, so I kept him occupied, by sliding My leotard over, mid-convo and filling a cup with piss for him to sip on while I finished My phone convo. After the long session, which involved various BDSM activities, he thanked me. He assured Me that this is a cherished release for him from the duties of his job and day to day life wearing a different role. Everyone needs to smile and laugh. Many need human touch, comfort or a controlled environment in which they can being treated as a literal peon, a worthless & or powerless bitch.

How do you think your work contributes to the reclamation of female sexuality in public places?

So much has shifted in the visibility of sex work since I was in college. I often wonder how it gets discussed in feminist discourse among students, young people. That’s not just Me personally, but I’m one of many people who used SW as a means for survival and embraced it as they grew. Just one of many workers whose life is a testament to the fact that sex work is valuable work. It’s valid, It’s valuable. Our existence is an act of rebellion.

What would you like folks to know about sex work?

Sex Work is the most honest work there is.

Someone on twitter had this to say when he found out that Chris Crocker is a porn star in addition to being a well known comedic internet phenom:

“I did not know Chris Crocker was out here selling pussy now. Work ain’t honest but it pays the bills.”

Rightfully, Chris responded, “The fuck?”

Sex Work is the most honest work there is. People are exploring their sexualities, secret desires, baring a part of themselves they might not feel aligns with their peers, family, partners’ respectable opinions. Also worth noting – I’m putting in the work everyday and the money goes to benefit Me. For My health. Feeds into My art. My labor is not being exploited to directly bolster the wealth of a ceo. In my work I learn so much of the human experience very intimately.

What messages are you hoping to project in your art and satire pieces as part of your activism?

We deserve rights

We deserve humanity

We deserve community and support as well as anyone else

We provide vital and valid services

We are pioneers – and as such, though you may delete us, exclude us, and erase us – you are on the wrong side of history in doing so – and also being a silent witness to that. I hope to touch on micro-aggressions and the macro-aggressive violence we can and do face. But also sharing the humor, beauty and freedom we experience, & the wisdom gained in our industry when we are able to work unbothered.

Amara

You can find Amara on Instagram @amaranoir_underhiseye, Twitter @AmaraNoir, and Her website www.amaranoir.com.

With love,

B.

Image via: SHESAID.com (IG: @shesaid)

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