When Congress passed the massive $2 trillion bailout bill last week, it made sure that self-employed people or other independent workers could apply for loans or grants from the Small Business Administration. But there was one very specific ― and puritanical ― exception: legal sex workers and others in the adult entertainment industry.

The very first page of the online application says that in order to be an “eligible entity” that can receive monetary relief from the bill, an applicant cannot “present live performances of a prurient sexual nature or derive directly or indirectly more than de minimis gross revenue through the sale of products or services, or the presentation of any depictions or displays, of a prurient sexual nature.”

Prurient, which is defined by Oxford as “having or encouraging an excessive interest in sexual matters,” is a vague categorization that broadly includes thousands of workers in the U.S. As stated, the clause excludes everyone who works in the legal (and, worth noting, booming) sex industry including strippers, porn performers, producers, directors, sex toy manufactures and many others. It’s unclear whether this clause includes other professions that don’t explicitly deal in the sex industry, but do cover subjects that are of a “prurient sexual nature” such as sex therapists and authors of erotica novels.

“It’s so dehumanizing,” Jacqueline Frances, a stripper, comedian and author, told HuffPost. “They’re asking all of us, who work legally, to feel ashamed about what we do. They are actively making life harder for sex workers in this crisis.”

Andrew Stettner, a senior fellow at progressive think tank The Century Foundation, said it “makes zero sense” for any legal workers to be denied aid. “The relief packages passed thus far have neglected ― and often explicitly excluded ― the most vulnerable workers. Sex workers are no exception,” he told HuffPost.

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Legal Sex Workers And Others In Adult Industry Denied Coronavirus Aid by Alanna Vagianos

April 2, 2020