Financial Discrimination in Adult Entertainment

When history is at a point where sexual freedom is supposedly one of the most important tenets of a secular society, a reasonable observer would assume that this belief is consistent and held by powerbrokers. Perfection is never attainable, true. However, you would expect greater attempts to promote equitable access to financial services for those individuals who work and participate in non-traditional work like sex work and the roles of adult industry members. In this blog post, Adult Site Broker will briefly discuss the epidemic of financial discrimination facing adult entertainment.

The Free Speech Coalition, a trade group representing adult entertainment companies like ours, researched and published a white paper on financial discrimination with Sex Work CEO – the site created by pornstar MelRose Michaels. Mike Stabile, director of public affairs for the Free Speech Coalition, told Gustavo Turner of XBIZ that “the rampant financial discrimination against the adult industry is devastating to our businesses and workers.” “From predatory fees to unwarranted fund seizures, financial institutions are exploiting the labor of those working in the adult industry. This report shines a light on a shameful practice,” Mike Stabile said. Stabile has also been on our podcast, Adult Site Broker Talk, as has FSC Executive Director Alison Boden, in a recent 2 part series. Both spoke on this subject.

The report indicates that nearly 2 out of 3 people earning money in the adult industry have said they lost access to a bank account or financial tool. 40 percent said they had a banking account closed within the past year. And the report said that the issues adult businesses and workers face concerning financial products – banking products, mobile payments, credit cards, loans, and insurance – are unique and have never been fully documented in this format.

The findings from the report are quite sobering. The following information includes demographics.

  • 93 percent of respondents to the survey are over the age of 25 years. Only about 8 percent of the respondents are under the age of 25 years. The report points out that despite some stereotypes, adult entertainment industry professionals aren’t as young as some think.
  • Women and women-owned businesses largely dominate the adult industry. 55 percent of the respondents were women, compared to 37 percent, who are men. Trans performers are 5 percent. Women are the vast majority of creators – just about 63 percent.
  • 21 percent of creators are people of color. 55 percent of creators identify as LGBTQ+.
  • 62 percent of adult entertainment industry employees have lost bank accounts or access to financial products due to their work and career choices.
  • 48 percent of adult businesses indicate that financial discrimination is a significant issue.
  • 35 percent of adult businesses lost a bank account in the previous year.
  • 45 percent of adult businesses lost a financial tool account in the previous year.
  • Creators of color are twice as likely as others to report an account closure in the past year.
  • 2 in 5 performers have experienced employment discrimination.
  • 1 in 3 performers has experienced housing opportunity discrimination. That means about 20 percent have been denied loans and mortgages due to employment in the adult industry.
  • 14 percent have been denied insurance due to their work in adult entertainment.
  • 29 percent have reported lost access to credit products due to their work in the industry.

The findings go on. Please read the entire report. About 400 respondents – business owners, creators, and individuals – replied to the survey. The current report includes input from performers, creators, owners, executives, industry professionals, employees, and others who earn some sum of primary or secondary income from adult entertainment-related work. A press statement from the Free Speech Coalition said the “study is ongoing, and additional reports will be issued. The data will be used to help us advocate for banking fairness legislation and regulation.” One element to remember is that discrimination is a product of a systematic bias for industries, while legal, are politically unpopular and deemed risky.

“Money Shot: The Pornhub Story,” a brand new Netflix documentary, highlights a major flashpoint in the war against porn. In this documentary, filmmaker Suzanne Hillinger dives into investigating the economic impacts of the efforts to shut down the adult tube site Though the film was primarily produced in 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic, the issues facing performers and professionals in adult entertainment – namely adult superstars like  Siri Dahl, Asa Akira, Natassia Dreams, award-winning director Bree Mills, and Mike Stabile himself – are heavily focused on the banking industry’s discrimination against industry members. The documentary is a searing case against the anti-pornography movement, too. Hillinger does an exemplary job highlighting the real human cost experienced by adult performers who all suddenly lost access, in some cases, to tens of thousands of dollars from ad-share and traffic-share revenue through Pornhub’s model program.

New York Times opinion contributor Nicholas Kristof wrote a viral investigative commentary on the challenges of fighting child sexual abuse material on the internet, especially on Pornhub. Entitled “The Children of Pornhub,” Kristof’s column gave a heavily one-sided depiction of MindGeek’s efforts to prevent CSAM and illegal content on their platforms. It wasn’t a pretty depiction. Organizations in the anti-porn movement jumped on Kristof’s column as an opportunity to show that pornography is an unregulated industry, which isn’t the truth at all. Nevertheless, Mastercard and Visa both moved to finally restrict and completely block the processing of in-network credit card payments for Pornhub Premium and other premium sites in the network, including Brazzers and Modelhub.

Mastercard, in particular, bought into the Kristof-perpetuated narrative that was formulated by the anti-porn groups, namely the National Center on Sexual Exploitation and evangelical Exodus Cry. In this, Mastercard issued discriminatory and duplicated requirements for companies who intend to use their credit card network to process payments from consumers. Even with compliance, adult industry businesses have opted to move away from Mastercard because the credit card network has very little to lose if it continues to censor adult entertainment companies financially openly.

Read More About Industry Rights: 

How Do I Register A Porn Production Company Legally?

What Global Legal Challenges Face Adult Industry Professionals In 2023?

Understanding Adult Industry Censorship On Social Media Platforms Like Instagram

What Is Section 230 And Why Should I Care?

Adult Site Broker thanks you for reading this blog post. If you’re interested in finding out more about buying or selling websites, please contact us here.

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