Even though we still experience criminalization and discrimination, the internet is a somewhat safe space for many of us, especially important if you are a full service sex worker. In the wake of the FCC vote to repeal Net Neutrality, many of us are wondering where we go from here. Responses to this move range from a dismissive “it’s not that deep” tone to an Orwellian apocalyptic loss of everything that was once known, loved and free about the internet. Surprisingly, though this has been framed by some as a Democrat vs. Republican debate, there are many Republicans in favor of Net Neutrality, including Senator Susan Collins, who was one of a few Republicans who asked that the vote be delayed and discussed properly. I am not going to recount the history or importance of Net Neutrality at length, because a quick Google search will grant you tons of information from either side of the argument. Instead I will be discussing my understanding of, not only Net Neutrality, but a couple other prohibitive measures that I have heard about through the internet grapevine, that directly/indirectly impact marginalized indie sex workers. I live in the hood in a big city. There are both advantages and disadvantages to this. One pro is that I have lower rent. Cons: boarded up foreclosed homes and storefronts pepper my neighborhood. There is trash everywhere. Underemployed or unemployed young men wander and circle certain areas. And for some reason mail carriers half-ass deliver my mail over here. My quality of life is highly impacted by all of these things. Access to the internet also impacts my quality of life. For those of you who didn’t know, I am an indie artist, aspiring cartoonist, indie internet sex worker, single mother of one, and writer. Everything I do to scratch out an income is done via the internet. My internet future is now precarious. In an age of district redlining, racist mortgage lenders, and internet prohibition, how will I manage without having to resort to hooking, moving back in with family, or working multiple jobs outside of the home to make ends meet? If the repeal of Net Neutrality is as dooming as it sounds, I have a hard road ahead of me as an indie worker. For instance, what if companies decided to slow down service in areas like mine, with lower incomes and earning potential? They might decide that we don’t need access as much as wealthier neighborhoods. They might decide to charge for the internet the same way they do for cable TV, in packages that include what you want — but only if you upgrade to such and such a bundle and pay more. They might say they are offering a certain amount of speed, then turn right around and hamper it, with us never the wiser. Since I stream videos and cam for a living, I worry about the latter the most. How frustrating it would be if access to my personal website or camming webpage were slowed down to a trickle. How many customers I could lose over internet speed and the quality of the picture.
Ending Net Neutrality is a nail in the coffin of resistance. Fight it. If you have been on the internet at all in the past five years then you’ve likely heard about the fight for Net Neutrality. In a general sense, the loss of Net Neutrality will be a major inconvenience for many people but it will be absolutely devastating for marginalized groups. The loss of the internet as we know it will lead to further oppression and silencing of marginalized folx around the world. The internet, including social media, has become an important tool in helping marginalized groups, be they people of color, LGBTQIA+, or women be seen, heard, and organize for their collective needs. It has been a way for people to communicate, share information, protect and help each other. This isn’t to say that it has been all sunshine and roses. The internet is also, in part, responsible for the rise of literal Nazis marching in the streets. That is true but it is also true that without the internet we would have not had the BLM movement that has drawn such focus on police brutality nor would #NoDAPL had the coverage and support it garnered. Right now, you can access pretty much any content you could want to find on the internet. From mega money sites like Facebook and Amazon to the little independent shops and sites dedicated to specific causes and information. The world is your oyster.
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