There’s a lot of controversy on Twitter today over the SESTA-FOSTA bill that President Trump signed into law last year. Since most politicians want to be known as being against sex trafficking, the bill had wide bi-partisan support, passing the House vote 388-25 and the Senate 97-2. Since I am only able to take world news in small doses to avoid utter despair, I didn’t know much about the bill. I only knew that it was the reason I could no longer look for a date on Craigslist for free rather than paying membership fees to an online dating service. I know, typical selfish American thinking. So today, I started to educate myself about the bill.
Proponents of the bill claim that it will reduce sex trafficking by increasing the accountability of online platforms. Opponents of the bill point out, and rightly so, that the bill threatens constitutionally protected free speech. It does that by threatening online platforms with heavy fines and legal liability for adult conversations that take place there. That means they want to achieve a higher degree of censorship by holding some people responsible for the words and actions of others. This decreases, rather than increases, personal responsibility and further infantilizes adults. Quick question: Aren’t infantilized adults prevented from consensual sexual outlets more likely to engage in child sex trafficking? Sex trafficking is NON-CONSENSUAL, yet this bill negatively affects the ability of adults to talk about CONSENSUAL adult sexual activity online.
This is not a topic I can write about dispassionately, largely because I was born a girl-child into a system under which women have long been forced into prostitution to survive. So the fact that it is criminalized, (although Congress still refuses to passes the ERA or enforce laws requiring equal pay for equal work) is infuriating. The reality is that women have only been allowed to own real estate in all U.S. states since 1900. They’ve only been allowed to have credit cards without a husband’s signature since the 1970’s. This economic oppression forced most women into marriages for survival. One of the basic tenets of marriage is exclusive sexual ownership. People don’t like to equate marriage with prostitution, but take away the balance of power necessary for free choice, and that’s what you’re left with.
Shaming women for being sexual outside marriage began as a strategy to prevent further competition for males with whom they’d already signed an exclusive contract. Women are now deciding to take control over their own bodies and negotiate their own sexual contracts, and social shaming be damned. I say good for them. Ideally, we’d live in a world in which nobody had to pay overlords for space to exist, health care professionals for information about our own bodies deliberately kept from us, or human touch and compassion. But until this feudal capitalist system collapses under the weight of its utter inhumanity, people should have the freedom to use their bodies to survive in any way they see fit.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t trust that this government has our best interests at heart by passing this bill. Here’s one reason why, or maybe I should say, the most recent reason, since there are so many others. With all the instances of child pornographers in Congress, it seems like just more severe prosecution of them would be more effective in curtailing sex trafficking than SESTA-FOSTA. For example, Anthony Weiner received only 21 months in jail for sexting with a minor on a social media platform. Jacob Schwartz received only 1-3 years for 3,000 kiddie porn photos. The list goes on, with ridiculously lenient sentences for the gravest of crimes against children. When Sen. Bob Menendez’s trial for federal corruption resulted in a hung jury, his only consequence was being “severely admonished”. Regarding free speech, just last year, he urged Pence to get Ecuador to withdraw asylum for Julian Assange.
If our government had our best interests at heart, rather than their own, marijuana would have been legalized long ago, and thousands would not have died needlessly of opioid overdoses. Thousands more would not be addicted to gambling because there are state lottery gambling machines on every corner. Tens of thousands would not be dying for lack of proper medical care as a result of health insurance extortionists bribing their way into full control of our health care system. Hundreds of thousands wouldn’t be living in poverty, saddled with school loans that they’ll spend decades paying interest on.
It seems to me that the government only passes laws against something they deem “indecent” until they can corner the market on it themselves. Congress has already infiltrated and gained a large degree of market share over the drug, gambling, insurance, and loan-sharking industries. I have no reason to believe that , like marijuana, prostitution will not be legalized until they can find a way to guarantee themselves a large cut of the proceeds from the industry. While countries with legalized prostitution may have lower rape rates, that doesn’t mean that the government protects women from trafficking or extreme exploitation. Sex workers being forced offline and back onto dangerous streets don’t believe this bill is really going to protect anyone from sex trafficking– and you shouldn’t either.