Earlier this month, sex workers and allies walked 14 blocks down Michigan Avenue in Chicago in what they called a “Funeral for the Death of Sex Work.” The New Orleans-style funeral procession, complete with a brass band and women sporting mourning hats, veils, and stilettos, was organized by a sex worker and activist named Harpy Anna. Her goal, she said in an interview, was to draw attention to the loss of safe working conditions after the president signed controversial legislation that effectively limits the online tools sex workers use.
The effects of FOSTA/SESTA, which intends to combat sex trafficking by holding online platforms liable for their users’ potentially illegal activity but also makes no distinction for consensual sex work, were almost immediate, spurring the closure of several popular online spaces frequented by sex workers. Advocates say without these spaces, sex workers won’t be able to vet their clients and in some cases will be forced to return to street-based work, putting their safety and livelihoods at risk.
One sex worker told Broadly that the closure of Backpage has forced them to become less discerning when it comes to clients. “I find myself responding to inquiries I might have ignored before,” said Anlina Sheng. “I feel if I say no to an unpleasant client now, I might have to say yes to a dangerous or pushy client in the near future.”
We live in an nth-best society. It's neither fully libertarian (though libertarians disagree over exactly what that would mean) nor totalitarian like the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Maoist China, or North Korea. It's somewhere in between, closer to...