Archive for Sex+ Work

June 12th, 2019

Autonomy, Ignorance, and Porn

Some readers may have heard about the recent kerfuffle over a high school newspaper that carried an article based on an interview with a senior (eighteen years old) at the school who was working in porn. When the school administration heard the article was in the works, they asked to be able to see it before the paper went to press. The paper’s faculty advisor, a journalism and composition teacher at the school, refused. She was subsequently threatened with disciplinary action up to potential firing, which made national news. (Note: For anyone who doesn’t understand why it would be such a big deal for her to have allowed the administration to read the article before it was published, it would be the equivalent of the United States government’s requiring that media outlets run things by them before printing them. I hope that illuminates the debilitating chilling effect such would have on the press. Indeed, it represents the antithesis of the purported purpose of the press in the US.)

I first appreciate the teacher’s steadfastness in refusing the administration’s demand even in the face of potentially losing her job. (The appalling behavior as such of the administration is an entire subject in and of itself that I am not covering here.) I also find the uproar about writing an article about a student legally and consensually working in porn both maddening and disheartening. It’s as though we sadistically cannot handle a sex work narrative that doesn’t fit with the collective view we seem to have of the suffering, exploited, defeated sex worker. I feel saddened by this because wouldn’t people rather discover that someone is not suffering the way they assumed than be right? Even if we have to let go of our preconceptions and misguided notions based on (sometimes innocent) ignorance, is it so much to ask to listen to sex workers and allow them to have credibility on the subject of their own lives and experience?

On top of that, I then saw an online comment about the story that quite increased the ire I experienced. I’m sorry that I have to paraphrase it here as, even after a valiant search, I was unable to relocate the comment. Here was the gist of it:

“What the article should be about is people luring young girls into this kind of work, because does anyone believe she really didn’t start until she turned eighteen? That idea is ridiculous, and people in the porn industry need to stop preying on children.”

To some degree the ignorance this commenter displays is understandable because one would not necessarily know of US Code 2257 if one has not worked in the porn industry. If one has, however, they are likely aware that they are not going to find any legitimate producer who does not require two legal forms of ID that indicate that any performer is at least eighteen years old. Said producer will make photocopies of these proofs of identity and keep them as legal records. Why? Because if they don’t have that information available and are questioned about it, they are in violation of 2257 and may face steep legal repercussions as such.

The 2257 law relates to record-keeping and was purportedly created to prevent underage participation in pornographic endeavors. Essentially the law requires, among other things, that anyone owning and producing depictions of sexual acts acquire and maintain proof of the age and identity of any person visually portrayed performing such acts. So if Person A sees a pornographic video with Jane Example in it and says to a law enforcement agency, “I want proof that Jane Example is at least eighteen years old,” 2257 allows said law enforcement entity to indeed ask whoever displayed Jane Example engaged in sexually explicit acts or positions for proof that she is at least eighteen years old. If they don’t have it, they’ve violated 2257 and can face prison time. It doesn’t matter if Jane Example appears to be fifty years old and is very obviously not under eighteen. The law states that under circumstances in which an individual appears engaged in sexual acts, legal proof of that person’s identity and age of at least eighteen must be accessible to law enforcement via whoever is in control of displaying such content to the public or others.

The notion that people producing adult pornography at this time would be willing to risk the significant legal penalties of having anyone underage work for them when it is relatively easily to obtain proof that someone is not, and when there are a plethora of available workers that are of age, is frankly ludicrous. Thus, a comment like this is patently indicative of the ignorance that pervades on the subject of sex work and this rather baffling assumption that underage involvement in that industry is undifferentiated from consensual adult participation in it.

So yes, commenter to whom I wish I could refer by name, I do believe Ms. Fink did not start in the industry until she was eighteen. Were you to read the above, I hope you would, too.


  • “The whole damn world is just as obsessed with who’s the best dressed and who’s having sex…”
    -Bowling for Soup “High School Never Ends”

  • August 11th, 2018

    Pernicious Perspectives and the Abomination of #FOSTA / #SESTA

    I’ve written about sex work numerous times on this blog (click on the category “Sex+ Work” to the left to see how many). I advocate decriminalization of all forms of consensual sex work and dream of the day the social stigma around it has dissolved.

    And I feel a bit like I perceive a new conundrum around it. I used to think that the majority of people just didn’t understand. That there was so much ignorance around sex work because the perspective that sex workers are sub-human and undeserving of basic rights and respect and autonomy was questioned so infrequently, assumed to be acceptable so automatically, perceived so often without even conscious choice or recognition, that people failed to realize how arbitrary, unfounded, and inhumane that perspective is. I truly thought that if people stopped to consider the existence of consensual sex work as an industry like most others, they would quickly recognize how nonsensical and tragically misguided the mainstream perspective around it was.

    Now, I find myself wondering if that was naïve of me. It has seemed more and more evident of late that some people simply don’t like sex work or that it exists. Yes, I have understood this to some degree, but as I mentioned, I truly trusted that in large part, it was ignorance rather than malevolence that drove the perpetration of dismissiveness, degradation, and dehumanization of sex workers. Continue reading

    September 17th, 2015

    Baseball, Q & A, and Vegas, Baby

    Because I have seemed a negligent blogger over the last month, it seems (past) time for me to update here about a few things. :) First, I am delighted to report that Athletic Aesthetic, published by Sweetmeats Press, is out now in both print and electronic formats. That means that my story in the anthology, Doubleheader, has also been released as a standalone e-book! It is on sale now at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.


    Secondly, we’re only weeks away from the third iteration of Hot Mojave Knights in Las Vegas October 1-4! I will be returning as a Spotlight Author again this year and am so looking forward to being back in Vegas (something I’ve tended to love in and of itself!), mingling with a number of my fabulous author colleagues, meeting some of our awesome readers, and being surrounded by the knights after which, of course, the event is named. :) There’s still time to sign up if you want to join us—please visit the HMK website to register.

    HMK15 (1)

    Lastly, I was honored to be interviewed last month by fellow author C. J. Asher. C. J. asked me a number of questions about topics ranging from the distinctions between erotica and romance to advocating for sex worker rights, and I found it a pleasure to answer them. You can find our discussion on his blog here.

    Thanks for coming by, and until next time (and always), be well!


    Rita swallowed, reaching for a spreadsheet on her desk in a hopeless effort to distract herself. She put it down almost as soon as she picked it up and told herself she needed to face the facts: she wanted to fuck Chad as much as she ever had. That, she realized, had never changed. But it was arguably even less appropriate now, for both of them, than it had been a decade ago.

    Just as she’d had to do with a number of other players, she was just going to have to get used to spending several hours a day in the same building with people whom she wanted to jump like a jackrabbit in heat.
    -from Doubleheader

    March 3rd, 2014

    Happy International Sex Worker Rights Day 2014

    redumbrellatargetToday, March 3, is International Sex Worker Rights Day. I interpret this as a day to educate about, support, and advocate for the rights of sex workers everywhere. I have blogged about this day here at The Green Light District since 2010, when I first learned of it.* This year, as I did in when I first blogged about it 2010, I’m going to offer a small roundup of pieces that, to me, celebrate the progression of sex worker rights and sex worker rights awareness in the last year. (Some of these will have appeared in Recommended Reading.)

    Before I do, I’d like to comment briefly on one thing I haven’t covered a lot in my posts here about sex work. That is the idea of the “Swedish model,” or criminalizing the purchase of sexual services rather than the actual act of selling them (i.e., criminalizing the client instead of the practitioner).

    I’d like to ask anyone reading this and/or who supports such legislation to imagine the purchase’s of the service or product you sell in order to make a living being criminalized. Not the service itself—you go on about your merry way making a living selling it—only the purchase of it. That way they’re taking it easy on you, right? They won’t criminalize the way you make a living. Whew! They’ll just criminalize the act of actually purchasing it from you.

    Please consider how that would affect your business. Truly, please consider it. And while you’re at it, please consider what kind of clients you’d get. (In case it isn’t obvious, I’ll give you a hint: you’d get ones who don’t mind breaking the law.) Feel safer now doing your job?

    If you’ve spent more than seven seconds on my blog, you probably know I support the decriminalization of all forms of sex work (and certainly do not support criminalizing the purchase of these services if sex work is decriminalized). Sex worker rights, of course, extend beyond criminalization, but legal status is one of the most prominent areas in which sex workers’ health and lives are endangered because of (as I see them) misguided laws and subsequent labor rights infringements.

    Without further ado, following are a few measures since last March 3 that seem to indicate a widening of the understanding of sex workers’ rights and the ways laws have inhibited and still do inhibit them:

    Celebrating International Sex Worker Rights Day 2014

    “Sex worker wins harassment case”
    March 1, 2014

      This is truly heartening to see.

    “How Not to Talk About Human Trafficking”

      This contains so many important and helpful distinctions and insights. I was thrilled to discover it. (It is not dated, but it was new to me, and the comments on it appeared earlier in 2014.)

    “Sex worker fights for victims of rape, assault”
    December 14, 2013

      While I could hardly stand to read that this kind of legislative initiative had been allowed any credence whatsoever, since it was, I appreciate this article (and certainly that said legislation was rejected) even more.

    “Does banning prostitution make women safer?”
    July 8, 2013

      I’ve long appreciated the in-depth and articulate responses Laura Agustin has managed to give to repeated questions like this via her extensive research on sex work in myriad geographical regions and contexts.

         (Bonus commentary: Speaking of Laura, if you are interested in reading a longer discussion from her on this subject, I recommend this from August of last year: “Prostitution Law and the Death of Whores.”)

    “No Condoms As Evidence Bill Passes Assembly, Making History!”
    June 21, 2013

      Last summer, the “No Condoms as Evidence” bill, which disallows the use of condom possession as evidence of practicing prostitution, passed the New York State Assembly. While prosecutors in New York had already stated they would not accept condoms as evidence of prostitution, legislation prohibiting the practice would protect sex workers (and others) from the atrocious application of law enforcement’s confiscating and presenting condoms as evidence of intent to partake in prostitution.

    “Supreme Court Strikes Down Anti-Prostitution Pledge for US Groups”
    June 20, 2013

      I blogged about this years ago, as I was and am appalled by the idea of making the receipt of funding for HIV prevention contingent on overtly opposing prostitution. I was/am so pleased to see the Supreme Court overrule such an absurdity on First Amendment grounds.

    Happy International Sex Worker Rights Day 2014!


    *Please see the following for previous years’ posts:
    “International Sex Worker Rights Day 2013” (2013)
    “An Open Letter to Rush Limbaugh” (2012)
    “Bittersweet Balloons” (2011)
    “International Sex Worker Rights Day” (2010)

    “Further division is not the answer—division is not the answer…”
    -Ben Lee “I Love Pop Music”

    December 17th, 2013

    Wishing and Acknowledgement

    redflowersToday is the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. I acknowledge I have not yet planned or composed a blog post for the day—but I don’t feel I ever want the day (or International Sex Worker Rights Day on March 3) to go by unacknowledged on my blog, even if it is just a placeholder post to announce that that is indeed what day it is.

    At the least, I traditionally light my red candle today. I just searched for it and don’t seem to know where I put it after last year’s lighting. So I just called Rick Write to ask him to pick me up a new one on his way home, and I will light it as soon as he gets here. Though it won’t be lit very long today, as we have plans away from home for most of the evening, it is done with full reverence for all sex workers who have experienced violence in the context of their work. The flame itself may be relatively brief, but the ongoing fire of love and support for my fellow former and current sex workers is always in me.

    And, of course, I hold in love all who have ever experienced or perpetrated violence and hold a deepest wish for our awakening out of the unconscious constraints and limitations that drive it.

    Love to all, everywhere, always,

    P.S. As I finish and post this, my red candle has arrived and is now lit.

    “What will I tell my daughter, what will you tell your son…that we were nothing but a shadow, a faceless generation void of love?…”
    -LIVE “What Are We Fighting For?”