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After Election Sexworkers Fight Back
11-27-2016, 02:25 AM
Post: #1
After Election Sexworkers Fight Back
Brief highlights of much longer Rolling Stone article with video

Nearly all work as independent contractors, relying on low-cost health insurance through the Affordable Care Act or clinics that serve the uninsured on a sliding scale, like Planned Parenthood.

That's why, all over the country, a sort of Robin Hood movement is taking place throughout small communities of sex workers.

Among a certain class of these women who are financially comfortable and boast disposable income, everyone seems to have had the same idea at once: setting aside a portion of the money they make from America's horny men and diverting it into progressive causes in an effort to bolster them against Trump's administration. Whether their clients are Republicans or Democrats, they all spend the same money.

Ari, a New York-based social worker who moonlights as an escort, says that Republican clients kept the city's sex workers busy during the week after the election. "During election week I had sex with a lot of Republicans. Everyone in the [online] sex worker forums was making jokes about it, because it was banging week."

Thanks to sex workers, that Republican money is going to causes like Planned Parenthood. Many are also advertising special fundraising shifts at strip clubs and organizing through private Facebook groups and other online forums where sex workers share vital information about clients and police stings as well as posting photos of gently-used platform heels for sale.

Some were organizing against Trump before the election: The group Tramps Against Trump offered to swap nude photos with anyone who pledged not to vote for the Republican candidate. This is the American version of Sluts Against Harper who was defeated in the 2015 Canadian election.

Working at a legal brothel called the Love Ranch in Nevada, escort Kitti Minx comes into contact with a random assortment of people from all walks of life. Her clients have only one thing in common: They've traveled to Nevada to take advantage of the only U.S. state where prostitution is legal and safely regulated by the health department.

Minx tells Rolling Stone she also decided to make charitable donations a part of her business after Trump’s election.

Why would any woman doing such demanding work just give their money away? For Whaley and others like her, making a lot of money in a short amount of time – and never having to work a 40-hour week – is a privilege she’s highly aware of.

"One of the coolest things about being a sex worker is that I have more time than everyone else to focus on radical activism," says Whaley, who models for a subscription-based porn site. "I can take an arrest – that's not going to impede my employability. I have money to fund my activism, and I have the flexibility to go where I’m needed."

Portland stripper and single mom Elle Stanger pointed out the contrast between her profession and an hourly, minimum-wage gig. A former grocery clerk herself, she's acutely aware of how little time and money many working-class people have – and she’s grateful for the extra cash she can afford to give away.

"A lot of people who are trapped in low-level jobs owned by big corporations, they're the people who need to keep every penny," says Stanger.

That's why Stanger decided to turn Black Friday into her own personal charity shift at the strip club, in an unironic nod to the working class holiday of desperate consumption. Stanger calls her fundraising effort #Thanksstripping, and she’s been promoting it on Instagram, Tumblr and Facebook. On that night, 100 percent of Stanger’s stage tips will go to Planned Parenthood. Most of her clients share her political views, she says, and find it "horrifying" that Trump and Pence have hinted at defunding Planned Parenthood. Even though #Thanksstripping is a week away, she says, it’s already catching on.

"I already had one person hand me $100 on my shift last week – he said he’ll be out of town but said he wanted to contribute," Stanger says. "Other women around the country asked if they can use the hashtag and do the same thing."

Lynsie Lee is also a single mom and stripper in Portland. Lee became famous in 2013 for her flirtatious Twitter correspondence with Sen. Cory Booker, then the mayor of Newark, New Jersey and now a rising star in the Democratic Party.

"I'm concerned with [Trump's] tax plan and how it will affect us," says Lee, reiterating that strippers are classified as independent contractors. "He's already [proposed] alleviating the head-of-household deduction [which benefits single parents,]. Who knows what he will do to small business or those of us who are self-employed and don't cater to big business."

Dave notes under Trump's trumpedup version of trickle down economics the Tax Policy Center points out the top 1% get a 13.5% boost in after-tax income vs 1.8% for the middle fifth of incomes.

Whaley is also concerned about Planned Parenthood and other services being taken away. But she's also adding new organizations to her donation list: the 24-hour counseling hotline Trans Lifeline and an assortment of grassroots abortion funds that help women pay for travel, housing and other costs embedded in the process of accessing abortion care in states with few services available.

"I'm very lucky to have clientele who are more aligned with my politics," says Whaley, noting that other sex workers were "talking on social media about having to deal with Trump supporters in their day-to-day."

Ari, the New York escort who reported the Republican influx during election week, says most of her clients fall on the liberal end of the political spectrum – and she notes the extra emotional labor required after the election to comfort "white liberal rich clients who didn't realize that America was racist."

"I donated some of my money to Planned Parenthood in Mike Pence's name," says Ari. "I found that doubly funny, because it's money that I literally made by prostituting myself."

Twenty-five-year-old stripper Tamra Horner, who also dances in Portland, called election week "devastating" and recalled being disturbed by news reports of harassment and violence against women, Muslims, LGBT couples and people of color. She quickly decided to carve out a portion of that week’s total profits

Tamra Horner donated a third of her weekly earnings to organizations supporting people potentially threatened by Trump.
"That's why I chose to donate to the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People] and RAINN [Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network]," Horner tells Rolling Stone. "I donated a third of my [weekly] earnings – totaling $533 – which I split evenly among the two organizations."

Horner says she hopes to do another donation week in the near future, this time giving a third of the week's tips from pole tricks and lap dances to groups like the ACLU and organizations for LGBT rights.

Ari met one of her regular clients for a date. "I was in bed with him, literally naked, straddling him. "I asked if he's called his state representative yet and he looked at me like I was an alien," says Ari. So she dismounted, pulled up a call script that she had seen passed around on Facebook and made her client pick up the phone – saying she "wouldn’t fuck him until he did it."

The client, she said, read the script into the phone right then and there: "Hi, my name is _______ and I’m a constituent of Representative _______. I’m calling because I’m concerned about Donald Trump naming Steve Bannon as his chief White House strategist."

Republicans may have taken control of the White House, but sex workers are taking control of their constituents. Or, at least, of their constituents’ dollars.

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