Bianca Baker loves her job. She’s proud of what she’s accomplished. She put herself through college and used her business degree to leave the service industry and start her own company. Being her own boss affords her the flexibility to spend time with the family she supports through her work. She pays taxes and enthusiastically engages with her industry’s community, but is currently facing financial services shutting out sex workers altogether.
Financial services and many other industries traditionally shut sex workers out for ethical and legal reasons.
Sex workers face a lot of stigma and find it difficult to enter the financial services industry. Many turn to keep their working status hidden from friends and family, putting them at risk for exploitation.
Sex workers are not only facing the difficult task of finding new places to work, because FOSTA has made business harder to find, but also the practice of their profession is more dangerous than before. When financial services companies shut out sex workers because they now come under laws for sex trafficking, it becomes tough for them to find ways to make money and this leaves them vulnerable to being exploited by pimps.
Sex Workers are being shut out of financial services because people see them as marginalized, but many sex workers are productive business owners. They’re doing what Uncle Sam demands and pulling themselves up by their bootstraps.
Due to FOSTA, banks and sites such as Venmo, Airbnb and GoFundMe are quickly kicking out sex workers. This means that these protected groups can no longer do anything that has anything to do with the services mentioned above. When we look at the word “facilitation” and what it can cover under FOSTA, things start to seem significantly more sketchy.
In the past, morality clauses have been used to display a bias against minority groups. However, recent legislation has diminished these clauses harm. For example, legislation allowed Christian hospitals to turn away patients based on sincerely held religious beliefs and a recent Supreme Court decision ensured that a baker could refuse a wedding cake to a gay couple without consequence.
Sex workers are often shut down by mainstream banks, even small ones. Baker found her money to be exempted from lockdowns that are common for sex workers.
Liara Roux is a sex worker and human rights organizer who experienced humiliation after banks blatantly discriminated against her occupation. Roux shared her story online to try and help other sex workers know how to handle bias. Banking institutions even reject sex-workers with otherwise impeccable credit scores if the use of their stage names is detected, collecting bank statements and humiliating them in person with unjustified reasons for doing so.
Roux recently outed herself as a sex worker on Vice. In the article, Roux explains why prostitution was right for her. Despite societal stigmas, Roux has continued to pursue this work.
Roux, a sex worker for 14 years now, does not regret getting into the business. She views it as an authentic way to view sexuality and genders. Intimately telling their stories helps her counter the harmful myths.
Women, such as Nadine Baker, can reconcile work and family life with being a sex worker. The article states that her career provides the money and freedom for her to spend quality time with her family, specifically her daughter.
The American dream has become a catch-22 for sex workers who are being shut out of the financial system. As lenders restrict access to loans, these businesswomen have been forced to fend for themselves.
Well, not just sex. Roux says that her work allows her the freedom of being independent while making an ethical living. This means providing intimacy without any of the strings that come with relationships. More importantly, she sees sex work as a transfer of wealth from people who have it to those who rely on it for their income.
As sex workers protest the law that censors online content, more companies are emerging with a stance against prejudice. The list of organizations boycotting the law is extensive and includes most major banks, credit unions, social media platforms and crowdfunding platforms. As these companies take a stand against discrimination, they also become more inclusive.