Legal Sex Worker Supports SESTA
Posted by Tiara Tae on March 26, 2018
I’m Tiara Tae, a legal prostitute at The Bunny Ranch brothel in Carson City, Nevada, and I’m emboldened to see that the evolution of thinking in recent decades that has brought my profession out of the dark shadows of criminality is taking a giant step forward in the halls of The United States Congress. The Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA) has now been been passed by both the House Of Representatives and the U.S. Senate with overwhelming support, on it’s way to becoming law.
The bill seeks to crack down on the illegal sex trade by holding website operators accountable for posts that advertise illegal sexual activity. We’ve all heard the horror stories of “Craigslist” type ads that were historically thinly veiled solicitations for illegal and sometimes underage prostitutes that put both the girls and the clients at risk of violent crime and disease, while providing an electronic black market trading place for street pimps and international human traffickers. Many ads of that ilk have flowed through similarly unregulated personal ad sites for years, giving rise to a problem of epidemic proportions that, until now, has never been properly addressed in the internet age.
Some sex industry activists are offering misplaced objections to these regulations, claiming that illegal prostitutes will be “forced onto the streets” if they can’t be electronically offered for sale while working out of apartments and hotel rooms. Their thinking is misguided on several levels.
The primary problem with this mode of thinking is that the sex workers opposing SESTA are fighting to remain criminals. Instead of advocating for the legalization of prostitution throughout the United States, and campaigning for a situation where willing, adult sex workers can service clients in a safe, legal environment, those challenging SESTA are defending a website owner’s ability to make money from the marketing of illegal prostitution while taking no responsibility for any criminality that occurs on the website owner’s platform. Personally, I’d much rather work in a proven legal system, like the time-tested Nevada brothel industry, than be a slave to a website owner that takes advantage of my desperate need to promote an illegal business, while not caring if people using the platform are coerced, underage, or a victim of violent crime. The opposition often counters with the “slippery slope” argument, by saying “Where do they draw the line? If we crack down on this, what’s next?”
How about we draw the line between what is and isn’t a crime? The passage of SESTA isn’t going to curb anyone’s first amendment right to protected free speech, but it will police the law as it pertains to online criminal enterprises, no differently than a publisher being held accountable for hosting an ad that offers the illegal services of a loan shark or a contract killer.
If prostitution was legalized in every state, all adult sex workers can come work as I do in a safe legal brothel environment, free and protected from the danger of criminal elements. They would hold a government issued license (as I do) that will be issued to them after an application process that will conclude that they are free of sexually transmitted diseases and criminal records.
if sex workers can’t meet the qualifications for licensing, they won’t be “forced out onto the streets”. They may be forced into another line of work, but that is no different than a public transit operator who gets convicted of a DWI and is “forced” into a profession that doesn’t involve operating a motor vehicle. Should we not have driver’s licenses because anyone who can’t pass a driving test will be “forced” to walk to work? I don’t think anyone in their right mind would suggest a highway full of unlicensed drivers, because everyone regards that regulatory process as necessary for the public’s safety.
So too is the long overdue need to prosecute a crime that is committed electronically, just as it would be if it were committed without the anonymity of the internet. Passing laws to combat online fraud came to exist as internet commerce became a common element of each of our daily lives. The SESTA bill is simply catching up to the world’s oldest profession in the modern age, by making sure that that which cannot be practically eradicated can in fact be safely and legally regulated.
Sex work, as it is practiced by women like me who make such a decision with our own bodies, can be both lucrative for the principle and beneficial to the general tax base, but only with sensible and effective legislation like SESTA in conjunction with the legalization of prostitution throughout America, so that well-meaning adult sex workers can practice their trade free from prosecution — and criminal sex traffickers, and those that support them, can be easily punished.