Sex Workers are integral to a thriving internet culture yet are often the first to be de-platformed. The stigma associated with adult work, and antiquated vice clauses attached to banking, combined with bad legislation allows platforms to build their success on the backs of sex workers then unceremoniously kick them off when they are ready for strategies that prohibit their presence.
Criminalized economies like sex work have an increased risk of exploitation due to a lack of labor protections. Many who participate in the sex industry live at the intersection of marginalized identities and, as a result, have limited access to other sources of income or employment due to stigma, discrimination, and lack of social support. Therefore, sex work has traditionally been the lowest barrier to access financial liberation for many marginalized identities. However, it is these individuals who have the highest risk of exploitation.
The introduction of the internet allowed sex workers to move off the street, out of the back of weeklies, and into safe spaces where they could screen, have access to a wider range of clients, and create content to be sold to a global audience. Decisions made at the executive level that result in the mass de-platforming of sex workers from the digital marketplaces they rely on to survive not only creates significant barriers to success, in many cases, it creates significant barriers to safety.
Applying a cooperative model to a platform places ownership and governance in the hands of those who depend on them the most – In this case, the sex workers who give the platform life.
Empowering sex workers to benefit directly from their endeavors through cooperative ownership, and centering their voice in decision-making process through cooperative governance, can serve as an example to our society to recognize all sex workers’ inherent value as individuals and as a community.