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.
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 Pornhub.com. 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.
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