VICE: A Sex Workers Union Is Organizing Against Instagram Discrimination

A group of sex workers is starting to organize against Facebook and Instagram for removing their accounts without explanation. Around 200 performers and models have included their usernames in a letter to Facebook asking the network to address this issue.

“There are performers who are being deleted, because they put up a picture of their freshly painted toenails,” Alana Evans, president of the Adult Performers Actors Guild (APAG), a union that advocates for adult industry professionals’ rights, told me in a phone call. “It became really obvious that either people were being unnecessarily reported and removed without Instagram caring or Instagram just outright not replying at all, and locking them out.”

In an April 22 letter to Facebook, the Adult Performers Actors Guild’s legal counsel James Felton wrote:

“Over the course of the last several months, almost 200 adult performers have had their Instagrams accounts terminated without explanation. In fact, every day, additional performers reach out to us with their termination stories. In the large majority of instances, her was no nudity shown in the pictures. However, it appears that the accounts were terminated merely because of their status as an adult performer.

Effort to learn the reasons behind the termination have been futile. Performers are asked to send pictures of their names to try to verify that the accounts are actually theirs and not put up by frauds. Emails are sent and there is no reply.”

The letter goes on to note that celebrities like Kim Kardashian violate Instagram's community guidelines by posting pictures of themselves in "varying states of dress" without repercussions. The letter specifically mention posts by Kourtney Kardashian, where the celebrity is photographed mostly nude, but carefully positioned to cover her breasts. Instagram's community guidelines forbid nudity, including “sexual intercourse, genitals, and close-ups of fully-nude buttocks” and female nipples.

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A Sex Workers Union is organizing against Instagrams Discrimination by Samantha Cole

May 6th, 2019

TRUTH OUT: Anything Other Than Decriminalization Leaves Sex Workers Behind

Revolting Prostitutes: The Fight for Sex Workers’ Rights takes a global view of commercial sex and the legal regimes that govern it. Authors Juno Mac and Molly Smith bring the reader through Britain’s messy Victorian prostitution laws, the U.S. prison-industrial complex, the false promise of “utopian” Scandinavia, and finally conclude with a critical look at decriminalized New Zealand. In this interview, they discuss policing, borders and work as they relate to sex work.

Samantha Borek: An entire chapter of Revolting Prostitutes: The Fight for Sex Workers’ Rights is dedicated to the “Nordic model,” and how Scandinavia is held up by many liberals and feminists as being a beacon of socialist values. In reality, this “utopia” is borne of a lot of puritanical, racist values. How can such a “socialist” region lack the resources to address sex workers in a meaningful way?

Juno Mac and Molly Smith: The answer is sort of in the question – it’s not about lack of resources, it’s about the desire to punish certain groups of people. The Nordic countries have the resources to help sex workers if they wanted to do so; the problem is that they don’t want to help people who sell sex. In the book, we quote a policy maker in Sweden agreeing that, “of course the law has negative consequences for women in prostitution but that’s also some of the effect that we want to achieve with the law.” The Norwegian government sent a fact-finding mission to Sweden in 2004, which resulted in a report into the effects of the Swedish approach to prostitution. The report that found “the law on the Purchase of Sex has made working as a prostitute harder and more dangerous” – but a few years after that report, Norway implemented the Swedish model anyway. So, it’s not a mistake or a lack of resources that the law produces these harms for people who sell sex – policy makers know about the harms of the law going in. The harms are, at the very least, part of the point.

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Anything other than decriminalization leaves Sex Workers behind by Samantha Borek

May 5th, 2019

ATLAS OBSCURA: How Lesbian Potlucks Nourished the LGBTQ Movement

JEN MARTIN AND LIZ ALPERN lived in “that house.” Many queer friend groups have one. It’s the kind of place where a pot of soup is always boiling, where bread is always in the oven, where someone is always willing to read your tarot cards. Friends stopped to visit the Brooklyn apartment on weeknights. It was a space to cook and eat, to work and relax.

For years, Alpern, a chef, had contemplated expanding her house’s welcoming vibe into a formal event, a soup night that would promote queer chefs. After the 2016 presidential election, as Alpern wondered how to support swelling social justice movements, she thought: Why not turn her soup idea into a fundraiser? The first event—a donate-what-you-can dinner—happened the night after the 2017 Women’s March. Protestors returned to New York from D.C. with sore feet and crumpled banners. Exhausted but still revved up, they piled into a local cafe for soup and community. The love, says Kathleen Cunningham, a Queer Soup Night organizer along with Martin and Alpern, was palpable. Yet friends kept asking: What kind of soup could they bring to the potluck?

“We have this joke in Queer Soup Night land: that we’re not a potluck,” Alpern says. But it’s no wonder the trios’ friends were expecting collective cooking. Potlucks have been a hallmark of queer women’s spaces since the 1950s, when the Daughters of Bilitis, the U.S.’s first modern lesbian organization, began meeting in secret over coffee in San Francisco. Nowadays, the potluck is synonymous with lesbian tradition—so ubiquitous that lesbians have been known to potluck everything from protests to sex parties.

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How Lesbian potlucks nourished the LGBTQ Movement by Reina Gattuso

May 2nd, 2019

ALLURE: A Beginner’s Guide to Impact Play

Impact play, simply put, refers to any form of impact on the body for sexual gratification purposes. Many sexual partners practice impact play the most common way, through spanking, but those who are more experienced will often bring toys into the mix or try a slew of other acts. Impact play is a prevalent kink with a wide umbrella.

Some people prefer various toys, such as whips, floggers, and paddles. Each instrument delivers a different sensation. While it can be tempting to spend money on beautiful black leather BDSM accessories, for those new to the experience, it's best to start small and use what you have at home. Your hand is the most obvious answer, but even a kitchen spatula can double as a paddle. In addition to saving money, using what you have on you familiarizes you and your partner with where to hit on the body, how hard is comfortable, and what you're each looking for out of a scene. Are you unsure what a "scene" means? Keep reading. Allure created a glossary of common impact play terms and what they mean. After you brush up on our kinky dictionary, learn how to negotiate with your partner, where it's safe to hit on the body, and what kink guidelines encourage for post-play etiquette. We spoke to a New York City professional dominatrix and a sex therapist to ensure you have accurate and important information, so you can explore impact play from a place of understanding and confidence.

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A Beginner's Guide to Impact Play by Sophie Saint Thomas

May 1st, 2019

ALLURE: Pick a Safe Word, It's Kink Month May

This May, Allure is going to be celebrating kink by rolling out stories on various kinky behaviors, such as balloon fetishes, impact play, and golden showers. Sex under the sheets between married cis men and women has been hogging the spotlight for several thousand years or so, and we wanted to continue expanding the scope of our sex coverage. In case you want a primer before we truly kick things off, kink refers to any sexual activity that falls outside of society-approved heteronormative standards. Most of us are somewhat kinky, others are vanilla, and some of us are proud freaky perverts with fetishes galore and a passion for BDSM, so let's talk about a few of the kinks and fetishes I'll be taking you through in-depth during Kink Month.

For those who are new to the kink scene (hi, welcome), a fetish refers to an attraction to an object — say, balloons. It can also refer to an attraction to a specific part of the body, such as a foot fetish. BDSM stands for bondage, discipline, sadism, and masochism, and refers to an erotic power exchange in which one partner is dominant and the other is submissive. People into BDSM do fun things such as strike their partner with a flogger or beg their domme to pee on them.

We all deserve to be kinky and proud and to learn about possible new sexual interests (like whips, floggers, and golden showers). As with any conversation surrounding sex, it's also important to note that you can date whomever you want and do whatever you like with them as long as all parties are consenting — we won't judge as long as you don't judge the kind folks who explain how to safely urinate on your sub or talk about why they find balloons so sexy. We'll be linking to all our kinky articles below. Pick a safe word. See you soon!

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Pick a Safe word, it's Kink month May by Sophie Saint Thomas

May 1, 2019

THE NEW YORK TIMES: We Live in Packs

SAN FRANCISCO — Men are dogs, some more so than others.

There are those, for example, who wear puppy hoods, harnesses, chain collars and tails while out and about. Sometimes they appear in packs. While hardly as mainstream as walking the red carpet with kink-adjacent accouterments, dressing up doggy style has become more visible in San Francisco and beyond.

Puppy play enthusiasts are part of a larger community interested in bondage, dominance, sadism and masochism, collectively known as B.D.S.M. Participants primarily consider it a form of sexual role play, because they get to act like puppies — friendly, frisky, often nonverbal — and gain pleasure from doing so. Adherents, lots of whom are young gay men, adopt pet names: Pups named Turbo, Wonkey, Level, Twitch, Trigger, Cakes, Amp and Mowgli spoke to me for this story.

“You stop using words and start communicating in growls. It’s really fun,” said Phillip Hammack, 42, a University of California Santa Cruz psychology professor who goes by Pup Turbo. “You’re disconnecting from the human side of thinking about every little thing you’re doing. You’re being instinctual and playful.”

Jason, a 27-year-old entrepreneur in Boulder, Colo., who goes by Pup Level, said that pup play has accentuated the tendencies he had before he began practicing it. He said his puppy gear allows him to “be more who I am.” (The Times agreed to not use his last name to prevent professional consequences.)

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We Live in Packs by Blake Montgomery

April 26th, 2019

USA TODAY: As a former sex worker, here's why we should decriminalize what consenting adults agree to do

Sex work is often described as the oldest profession in the world, but in today's world it is more of an umbrella term that encompasses many forms of transactional relationships between consenting adults.

Nowadays, we have cam girls, high-priced escorts, exotic dancers and street-based sex workers amongst dozens of other forms of sex work.

People from all over the world participate in the facilitation and consumption of sex work. But in marginalized communities such as black and brown people, transgender people, and other groups who are denied access to the same resources, education and employment afforded to white people, for some, sex work is the only form of survival. I, myself, found sex work because my employment opportunities were limited as a transgender Latina woman.

I had a degree and a strong work history, but I was discriminated against to the point that I was doing sex work for survival. And for the most part, I enjoyed it. I made my own schedule, I had a say in my wages, and it felt affirming and empowering to be desired enough to be paid for sex.

Throughout history, people have exchanged the commodity of sex for money to survive against poverty, to empower themselves against miserable life circumstances, and to challenge societal norms. That's why my organization and I are fighting for decriminalization around the world to lessen violence against sex workers and to change the conversation about what sex work is and why it, and us, are valuable to the world.

Respectability politics, stigmatization, misogyny, and criminalization, cause sex workers to face exorbitant violence and dehumanization.

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As a former Sex Worker, here's why we should decriminalize what consenting adults agree to do by Alex Corona

April 26th, 2019

TEEN VOGUE: Why Sex Work Is Real Work

In this op-ed, Tlaleng Mofokeng, MD, founder of Nalane for Reproductive Justice, explains why she believes sex work should be decriminalized across the globe.

The government of Amsterdam, a city known worldwide for its Red Light District, will ban the popular guided tours through that area starting in 2020. The ban stems in part from complaints calling the tours a nuisance that lead to congestion in the narrow canal-side streets. But city officials have also said the ban is out of respect for sex workers. “It is no longer acceptable in this age to see sex workers as a tourist attraction,” city councillor Udo Kock said, according to The Guardian. There’s one problem: Many sex workers are opposing this plan.

Sex work is legal in Amsterdam, but it isn’t in many other places, though some people are working to make it so. In South Africa, where I am based, for instance, sex workers are calling for decriminalization and legal reform. They argue that sex work is work, as affirmed by the International Labor Organization (ILO), a specialized agency of the United Nations. This situation in Amsterdam, and the continued criminalization of sex workers around the world, is yet another example of how we disregard the needs and opinions of the people most impacted by policies. But even more so, it’s another example of how we misunderstand what sex work actually is. I am a doctor, an expert in sexual health, but when you think about it, aren't I a sex worker? And in some ways, aren't we all?

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Why Sex Work is Real Work by Dr. Tlaleng Mofokeng

April 26th, 2019

REFINERY29: Non-Visual Porn Is The New Way Women Are Getting Their Kicks In The Bedroom

On the whole, free porn is a notoriously misogynistic world of aggressive thrusting, hairless bodies, and over-exaggerated moans (that is, it's almost always devoid of genuine female pleasure). Independent feminist directors like Erika Lust, inclusive platforms like CrashPadSeries and Pink Label TV, and the rise of "ethical porn" (which protects performers and celebrates diversity), have done their bit to remedy this in recent years. But mainstream porn remains a largely visual – and frenetic experience – that caters to the male gaze.
A new platform has launched that turns this outdated genre of porn on its head: it's entirely devoid of imagery. Quinn, which debuted on the 13th April, features just auditory and written porn, a USP which founder Caroline Spiegel (Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel's younger sister, no less), says makes for "a more fun, chill, and clean experience for women. It’s all about pleasure and good vibes," she tells Refinery29. With fans and creators of NSFW content still reeling from Tumblr's total ban of adult content last year, the launch of a new platform for sexy stories and audio couldn't be more timely.
Quinn users can listen to people having sex, read user-submitted stories and fantasies, and post their own, with categories including "accent" and "gentle"; user-penned erotica with titles like "Orgasmic Meditation" and "Hot Yoga"; and a lot of breathy moans from both men and women (sample title: "Snugglefuck"). If you're already a fan of the 'brain orgasm' or 'tingles' induced by ASMR, you'd be depriving yourself by not giving Quinn a chance.
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April 26th, 2019

VICE: Dominatrixes Tell Us What Makes a Good Sub

The Ritual Chamber is one of Canada’s foremost spaces for BDSM play and workshops. It’s located on a nondescript street in Toronto. From the outside, the Chamber looks like any other well-kept house: exposed brick, manicured shrubs, and a sleek exterior. You’d never find it if you didn’t know it was there, which is by design. Most clientele requires complete discretion for their visits.

Inside the main room, the walls are lined with whips and floggers. There are leather cuffs hanging from the ceiling and a large St. Andrew’s Cross in the corner. Other rooms have themes: a doctor’s office complete with stirrups and IV drips; a schoolroom with an undersized desk and oversized blackboard; there is a room with mirrors everywhere, adorned with smoking chairs and a Victorian couch. Earlier this week, I sat on the couch across from domnes Lady PimRed Diamond, and the Chamber’s owner/headmistress Shahrazad. While I’ve dabbled in kink, it’s not really my scene. If I had to define my major fetish, I’d say it’s people being kind to me. Still, conversations about the subject are endlessly fascinating. That day, I was there to learn about effective submission.

“A person shouldn’t start out by labeling themselves submissive. I would recommend they start by having experiences,” said Shahrazad. The headmistress’ tone was patient and kind, playing in stark contrast to her costume of stockings and military garb. She gave of a vibe that was benevolent but authoritative. Like an elementary school principal, if an elementary school principal also knew the proper technique for safe testicle torturing. As she spoke, Lady Pim and Red Diamond nodded along in solidarity. “Slowly exposing yourself to the type of play you are curious about lets you decide what kind of submissive, bottom, or switch you are. Or if you are any of those things at all. The best way is always easing in, asking questions to people you trust, and figuring out what’s right for you.”

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Dominatrixes Tell Us What Makes a Good Sub by Graham Isador

April 25th, 2019