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Bi-Weekly Sexual Freedom Newsletter
Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Top Stories This Week

1. Oregon Sex Workers Human Rights Commission;
2. The impact of FOSTA/SESTA;
3. A report on FOSTA/SESTA;
4. Sex workers’ resilience in the face of FOSTA/SESTA;
5. Censorship and FOSTA/SESTA;
6. FOSTA/SESTA’s effects on Pittsburgh’s sex worker community; and
7. On masturbation.


Oregon Sex Workers Human Rights Commission

On July 15, 2021, the Sex Workers Human Rights Commission in OR held a public hearing on the harms that Oregonians face under sex work criminalization. Woodhull’s President and CEO, Ricci Levy, was a Commissioner for this hearing. The evening consisted of over three hours of testimony, which included Ricci’s statement.
Read and watch her comments here.

Children doing virtual schoolwork

 (Sandra Markarian)

The Impact of FOSTA-SESTA (Knock LA) 

Nessa Moreno interviews Jinx from the Sex Workers Outreach Project about the impact of FOSTA/SESTA. Jix says: “I can only speak to my personal experiences and the community that I’m in here. But before SESTA and FOSTA it was a lot easier for girls to safely book dates and screen. After Backpage got taken down, after Craigslist personals got taken down, there was a local agency that kind of took over and had a monopoly on escorting in this town. I would say it was a lot harder for girls to post an ad and successfully book a date because this agency had so much money that they were able to pay to get their ads reposted every hour and push everyone else’s ads out. It’s still like that today.” Read more.


(The Verge)

Internet sex trafficking law FOSTA-SESTA is almost never used, says government report (The Verge) 

Adi Robertson highlights the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) recent report on the first three years of FOSTA/SESTA: “In early 2020, former Attorney General William Barr argued criminal prosecution wasn’t the only reason laws like FOSTA-SESTA mattered; he called prosecution a ‘limited tool’ that should ‘work hand in hand’ with civil cases brought by people who survived sex trafficking. But the GAO also found limited evidence of civil FOSTA-SESTA cases. As of March 2021, it had identified a single person who sought civil damages under the law, and the case was dismissed with no damages awarded. An April lawsuit referenced FOSTA-SESTA, but it relied on other statutes and had little to do with conventional sex trafficking claims. Overall, ‘criminal restitution has not been sought and civil damages have not been awarded’ under the law, it notes.” Read more.

Gender Spectrum Collection

 (Chris Kleponis:Pool:Getty Images)

The Real Story of the Bipartisan Anti–Sex Trafficking Bill That Failed Miserably on Its Own Terms (The New Republic) 

Melissa Gira Grant emphasizes sex workers’ resilience in the face of FOSTA/SESTA: “Despite its clear aims, sex workers did not disappear after SESTA/FOSTA. After the law’s passage, sex workers in the United States mobilized in unprecedented numbers, launching new community-based organizations, legislative campaigns, community-based research, and mutual aid projects across the country. In the three years since, they have shifted public opinion in support of decriminalization and introduced a number of bills repealing anti–sex work laws (and in New York state, they have succeeded in abolishing an anti-prostitution loitering law, also known as the ‘Walking While Trans’ ban).” Read more.


(Zhang Wei:China News Service via Getty Images)

“First They Come for Sex Workers, Then They Come for Everyone,” Including Artists (Observer) 

Helen Holmes writes about the Internet, censorship, and FOSTA/SESTA: “Human beings have sex, discuss sex, crave visual representations of sex and sometimes perform sexual acts professionally. Just as crucially, people produce and digest works of art in order to survive. This has always been the case, but for the past few decades, human beings have also used the internet; at first cautiously and sparingly, and then in a great, unceasing torrent. Arguably, in 2021, no one ‘uses’ the internet: close to a year into a pandemic that’s stripped us of nearly all activity and confined many of us to our homes, the internet and digital communication have instead become the air we breathe.” Read more.


(Kaycee Orwig)

Sex workers in Pittsburgh discuss local impact of damaging anti-trafficking law FOSTA-SESTA (Pittsburgh City Paper) 

Amanda Waltz discusses FOSTA/SESTA with various members of Pittsburgh’s community of sex workers and advocates, including Adrie Rose: “Adrie Rose identifies as a full-service sex worker, and has made sex work the focus of her graduate study research, mainly looking at how websites and financial institutions deal with sex workers. She says FOSTA-SESTA has contributed to breaking down support systems central to sex workers, and not just online. This includes sex workers referring clients to each other, which Rose says is ‘crucial when you don't want to get arrested, or you're trying to stay alive.’” Read more.


 (Alberto E. Tamargo:Sipa USA)

The “M” Word (Woodhull’s Sex & Politics Blog) 

Ricci J. Levy comments on Jeffrey Toobin and masturbation: “I hope we can have more diverse discussions about self-pleasure, including many that appreciate that it’s overwhelmingly a positive, joy-giving act. Still, we can’t lose sight of situations like Toobin’s. Regretfully, upon forgetting to turn off his camera, his act of self-pleasure became a non-consensual group experience. Though Toobin didn’t want that to happen, it did. Accidents still require accountability.” Read more.



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