Porn Stars Find 2020 Democratic Candidates ‘Extremely Depressing’

With the presidential election approaching, many constituents in the adult industry are struggling to forgive Democratic candidates’ past voting record. Less than a year ago, most of the 2020 frontrunners voted in favor of two bills: “Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act” and “Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act” (commonly known as FOSTA/SESTA), legislation that has negatively impacted sex workers more than the sex trafficking it purports to stop. The new legislation pushes responsibility, and thus legal consequences, to the online platforms that “promote or facilitate prostitution” without distinguishing consenting sex work from coerced sex trafficking.

In an attempt to excuse some of the candidates for their uneducated voting faux pas in passing FOSTA/SESTA, porn star Nina Kayy offers a rather empathetic view. “They probably signed it blindly without talking to anyone in the industry or talking to sex-trafficking victims,” she says. “Sure, a lot of sex workers are mad about it but you have to look at the bigger picture: yes, it’s part of the candidate’s job to reach out and educate themselves, but imagine if they didn’t sign a bill against sex trafficking? How would that look to the people that voted for them?”

According to Kayy, all of the congresspeople vying for the 2020 ticket—Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, Corey Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Amy Klobuchar, Tulsi Gabbard, etc.—are guilty of doing what the majority of voters do at the polls: voting for the header. Hence a bill even the DOJ expressed uncertainty over was passed, 97-2 in the Senate and 388-25 in the House.

Independent contractors (i.e. sex workers) use online forums to discuss clients, post reviews and warn fellow co-workers of potential dangers. Those options have now largely been removed, with sites—fearing prosecution for “sex trafficking”—hesitating to allow consenting sex workers a platform to validate the safety of clients or independently advertise and book work. It’s thus driven many consenting sex workers off-line and underground, endangering them.

“I think the original intent of FOSTA/SESTA was to prevent sex trafficking but as a result, and what all sex workers have realized, is that it really has taken away a lot of our resources to do our job safely. It’s backfired without completing the original goal,” offers porn star Christiana Cinn.

Prolific porn agent Mark Spiegler doubts the legislation will have an impact on sex trafficking. “Even though the law doesn’t do what it’s intended to do it’s an easy vote-getter, but there’s no real sex trafficking that’s going to be stopped by this,” he says. “A lot of people I’d consider regular sex workers are kind of stymied now that Craigslist is down. Other sites where escorts went to discuss johns or post reviews have also been stymied, so it’s lowered the possible protections sex workers had.”

My biggest concern moving forward into 2020 is that sex workers will continue to be othered and disregarded when it comes to policy and procedure. Stop talking *about* us, and start talking *to* us!

Politicians frequently conflate consensual sex work and sex trafficking despite their drastic differences, whether to push moral agendas or due to ignorance. As seen in the recent massage parlor sting ensnaring New England Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft, the police have repeatedly referred to it as a “sex trafficking” operation, yet no trafficking charges were filed and even the Palm Beach District Attorney admitted “there’s no allegation that any defendant engaged in human trafficking.” Many have speculated that “trafficking” is a term loosely used by law enforcement to sanction prostitution busts.  

From the prosecutor’s office to defense attorney, Judge Herb Dodell has argued both sides and calls the trumped-up Kraft sting ridiculous. Sex work and sex trafficking are separate issues, he argues. “There are criteria that has been established on what represents human trafficking verses something else—even in California, though you don’t have to show there was a force of coercion, human trafficking is basically where you take people and you make them slaves,” explains Dodell. “Prostitution is very, very different—an example clearly represented within the brothels in Nevada.”

Sex worker Alice Little, who works at one of Nevada’s legalized brothels, says she feels invisible knowing the next crop of candidates voted on SESTA/FOSTA. Little is frustrated by the policymakers’ willful ignorance, casting votes that impact sex workers without bothering to educate themselves on the subject. Like many of us, Little expects better from a presidential candidate. “There is no excuse for not understanding the full implications of a bill before choosing to vote on it,” says Little. “My biggest concern moving forward into 2020 is that sex workers will continue to be othered and disregarded when it comes to policy and procedure. Stop talking about us, and start talking to us!”

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