WWhen sex workers vote, we choose the lesser of two enemies. Left-wing feminist Andrea Dworkin partnered with Reagan Republicans to push obscenity bills in the 1980s. In 2017, 27 Democrats and 43 Republicans co-sponsored the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA), which has driven prostitutes back to the streets where they are more likely to be robbed, beaten and / or killed. Throughout my decade as a porn star, I’ve gotten so used to lawmakers from all walks of life hating my guts, I sometimes thought, ‘What’s the point? Why should I vote? The animosity of politicians towards my profession plagues the democratic process – and that’s the point.
The Puritans want to dictate how sex workers should work without ever consulting us. (Congress can invite YouTubers Diamond and Silk to speak, but they have yet to ask pornstars how the laws hurt us.) This week it’s critical that my fellow sex workers vote.
Many of my colleagues will participate in the democratic process. Over the past month, strippers, pornstars and other sex workers have cared so much about the election that they have started voting campaigns. An Atlanta pole dance group created a “Get Your Booty to the Polls” music video. Brazzers, a Pornhub affiliate, has launched a #StrokeTheVoteCampaign campaign. A few weeks ago, I myself published ErectionSeason.com to help citizens find their state’s voting information. From my inbox, I believe fans heard my post. Sadly, some of my fellow sex workers have chosen to forgo participating in next week’s election.
I beg my colleagues to change their minds.
Sex workers say, “What can we do? The game is rigged. But sex workers made a difference when we got involved in electoral politics. In 2016, Californians voted on a voting initiative, Proposition 60, which would have allowed the state to prosecute adult performers who have sex without a condom in videos. Sex workers united against the proposal. We have created videos urging citizens to vote no. We established our relations with the press to write articles against proposition 60. By relying on marketing skills, we acquired the promotion of our films (like my film Assablanca), we posted some sexy images with captions encouraging citizens to vote no. And guess what? Fifty-four percent of Californians have sided with sex workers. When pornstars get involved in politics, we make a difference – and I’m not just talking about Stormy Daniels’ war against Donald Trump.
“When pornstars get involved in politics, we make a difference – and I’m not just talking about Stormy Daniels’ war against Donald Trump.“
Over the past four years, sex worker activism has made tremendous strides. More porn stars are writing viral feminist opinion pieces than ever before. While parading on SlutWalks, we generalized the term “bitch shame”. On Twitter of sex workers, we are so united in our positions that we put the night on Bella Thorne’s OnlyFans stunt. Her cash benefit turned into a public relations disaster because the sex workers expressed their outrage. As someone recently told me, “Don’t fuck with sex workers on Twitter. We can kill a career faster than Nicki Minaj. But politicians have never heard of Twitter from sex workers. From Congressional hearings on Section 230, I’m not sure half of our baby boomer representatives have ever used the Internet.
We must continue our activist efforts, but we must also vote. Let’s face it, politicians only care about money and votes – but the sex industry doesn’t have the resources of Sheldon Adelson to shell out huge donations. Until we can corrupt politicians with campaign contributions, we must vote.
Voting can be its own form of activism. Americans have conflicting views on sex work. 84.5% of respondents said Journal of Sexual and Marriage Therapy they watch porn online, but a 2016 YouGov poll found that 65% of women find sex work to be morally wrong. However, only 46% of men oppose our work. Hardly an improvement. It’s easy to discriminate against us because Americans only see us on the pole, in their bedroom, or on their TV screens. At best, we make their sexual fantasy come true. At worst, we are seen as stupid bimbos. The vote humanizes us. It shows that we have opinions. It shows that we are interested in politics. If more Americans see us as human, more Americans will think about supporting legislation, like SESTA, that we oppose.
Don’t get me wrong: I am not naive. Voting is not a perfect solution to our problems, America is not a perfect country, and sex workers are assaulted from all sides by multiple parties on a 24/7 basis. As The Daily Beast previously reported, banks and credit card companies often refuse to process payments for adult businesses. Financial institutions closed many accounts of my colleagues after bankers learned their trade. (In many ways, Visa decides what consumers masturbate to, but that’s a story for another day.) Sex workers have to launch multiple wars against multiple parties to secure our rights.
But none of our other actions matter if we don’t vote. Unless we vote, we cannot take the million other steps necessary to normalize our work and legalize the many illegal forms of sex work. Sex workers must make politicians tremble, and we cannot do that unless more Americans support us and politicians see us as a constituency. We need politicians to fear fucking with us. So my fellow sex workers, next week, November 3, come out and vote.
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