‘People don’t give a shit about strippers’: Here’s what real sex workers say about Instagram’s #stripper ban

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‘People don’t give a shit about strippers’: Here’s what real sex workers say about Instagram’s #stripper ban

But yet #incel and #altright are allowed….

Instagram has always been notorious for deleting and shadow-banning content from sex worker accounts, but sex workers and strippers are now finding it nearly impossible to maintain accounts on the platform. Since the passing of FOSTA/SESTA, Instagram has become outwardly misogynistic towards sex workers.

Strippers and other sex workers are finding their accounts shuttered while Instagram banned hashtags that show posts for #strippers and related hashtags like #yesastripper. Meanwhile, tags filled with misogynistic posts and memes like #incel and #altright aren't filtered at all. Jezebel even points out that #malestripper escapes moderation.

For me, sex work before social media was isolating and heavily stigmatized. The only other working girls I knew were folks from shared incall spaces, other Mistresses at dungeons, and getting to know the dancers at the now-defunct Market Street in San Francisco. Sex workers face housing discrimination, jail time, no sick days and no health insurance. We're sitting ducks for sexual assault and just general shit-talking and discrimination from civilians. A network of support helps lessen the burden of existing of sex workers, and can even save lives.

And I'm not the only one upset over this bullshit moderation — I spoke to some of my fellow sex workers about how the bans are affecting them, with comments edits for length and clarity.

Holly Marie, 30, Texas

"When see accounts get taken down, it's usually people of color, trans people, and sex workers accounts but video producers, porn stars and performers have verified Instagram accounts. They're still sex workers, but their accounts are untouched. That's not nothing. Shadow-banning is not only highly inconvenient to business, but it’s morally ridiculous and puritanical. Websites aren't banning sex workers based on safety — it’s based on their own personal feelings about sex work. They want to cry trafficking when they hear anything about sex work, but the truth of the matter is, sex work is work. We don’t call assault 'sex', so why would we call sex work 'trafficking'? No one is in danger, just their modest sensibilities."

Jinxy, 30, Utah

"I can understand they got their legal team together to ban the hashtags because they don't want to get sued like Backpage guys did. But people don't really give a shit about strippers and people usually don't give a shit about sex workers. They love Cardi B all day long, but when it comes down to actually being there for us and caring about us as human beings? It's not there. I just started posting about this and it's great, but the other folks and people reaching out to me are other sex workers. There are only so many of us but it's only when vanilla people catch on and start caring and realizing that thing wills change. More and more women are going missing every day because they don't have access to Backpage or Craigslist personals. More people are going from stripping into escorting, because they can't use promotional tools that Instagram provides thanks to the ban."

Cleopatra, 21, Pennsylvania

"It's very maddening because for a few of us, this is our only other source of income. Social media is a relatively safe place to meet other sex workers. The government and these legislators realize the internet is actually a tool and could be used in a very revolutionary way, and that scares the shit out of them. People started paying attention when this became more general. No one gave a fuck when every cam girl, escort, stripper was saying please call your representatives against this bill. We've all been saying this isn't just about us, it's about you too! As a sex worker, you don't catch a break in the first place. I use Instagram and social media for my business, but the work that I'm doing is seen as so offensive. White America is very religious, White America is very prudish. I had a post about period sex on my personal Instagram, I didn't even use hashtags but it was removed. Mind you, when I find a racist troll page, Instagram leaves it alone."

In the end, shadow banning sex workers and strippers is a death sentence. We don't have access to blacklisted clients forums, we can't network with one another, we can't signal boost dangerous clients, and we can't even even talk about which clubs a brown chubby femme covered in tattoos can make some money. SESTA/FOSTA tied with misogynistic Instagram guidelines, for lack of better words, got me fucked up. I'm lost without the sex worker community.

We've reached out to Instagram for comment.

@nessaxmereno