opinion

It’s Time for FSC to Set the Terms of Debates

It’s Time for FSC to Set the Terms of Debates
Eric Paul Leue

When I started at Free Speech Coalition a year and a half ago, my goal was not only to grow the organization, but to rethink who we are, and what we could accomplish.

At the time, we faced major legislative and regulatory hurdles and, for the first year, it sometimes felt we were fighting battles on every front imaginable. It was tough, but those battles tested our mettle, and ultimately helped show us a way forward.

I want a future where we’re not only consulted on legislation and regulation, but we inspire and lead it.

Eighteen months later, we’ve emerged from the crucible a stronger organization, and a more mature one. Having seen our political and regulatory successes, as well as the benefits of membership to business success, we have added new members from every sector of the industry.

In fact, we’re projecting a 33 percent year-over-year growth in membership between this year and last.

We’ve also seen existing members increase their commitments. FSC has always been a lean organization, and I am committed to keeping it that way. But we need to be proactive, not reactive.

For much of our history, we’ve played defense: battling regressive legislation, dissecting bad studies, fighting regulatory fines and inspections after they’ve happened and reacting to negative media stories.

This isn’t an effective way to run an organization, let alone an industry, because our resources are spent protecting territory rather than expanding it.

Instead, I want to look to a future where we set the terms of the debate. Where we’re considered a thought leader in issues of sex, sexuality and sexual wellness.

Where we produce studies that fight bias with facts, and stigma with science.

I want a future where we’re not only consulted on legislation and regulation, but we inspire and lead it.

In this future, we have the time and resources to grow our businesses and our community. We have the bandwidth to foster new technologies, and the ability to build an adult community — and an FSC — that provides solutions for our performers, producers, manufacturers and retailers.

This isn’t a pipe dream. In fact, we’ve already started the process. In the past few months, we’ve relaunched the FSC website, providing information on every one of our initiatives, as well as upcoming battles.

We’ve relaunched a newsletter and upped our presence on social media, allowing us to better communicate with our members in real time, whether for an industry alert or an article that might help grow a business.

We’ve also been increasing our outreach in the global advocacy community.

We’ve opened communication lines, lent our voice to policy initiatives and cooperated on projects with like-minded politicians, scientists, advocates and health organizations.

In the past 12 months, we’ve worked with the Center for Democracy and Technology to help move our members over to the secure HTTPS portal. We’ve started to cultivate a relationship with Amazon and other online retailers to fight price decay and counterfeit products.

We’ve worked with Calif. Sen. Scott Weiner to promote a more effective HIV policy. We’ve built bridges with counter-trafficking organizations to better educate the law enforcement about consensual sex work.

That work is important in and of itself, but it also starts a dialogue, and helps build coalitions for future battles. Pleasure products and the adult entertainment are global industries, with international consumers, and international trade, policy and regulatory concerns. We need to address them as such.

Those of us working in the industry know that corporate policies have been as limiting to us as government censorship.

That’s why over the past year, I’ve taken our concerns to banks in an effort to end stigmatized lending, to Twitter and Tumblr to talk about restrictive advertising policies, and Hollywood studios to improve portrayals of our industry and its workers.

Some of these have borne immediate fruit — and credit lines. Others are still germinal. The important point is that we’re growing toward a future, not shrinking from it.

With your support FSC is ready to invest in our industry’s future, locally, nationally, and internationally.

We took a massive step in that direction by hiring our first ever director of scientific and regulatory affairs, Ian O’Brien.

He will work directly with regulators of both the pleasure products and adult film industries, to compile, analyze and provide accurate, evidence-based research on issues ranging from zoning and lubricants to workplace safety, public health, and sexual health.

He will also evaluate research on the industry as a whole, working to combat pseudo-scientific concepts like porn addiction and the porn public health crisis, a crucial focus at a time when over two dozen states are using such studies to ban or censor adult content.

I’m excited for you to not only get to know the new FSC and its team, but to also engage with us and work with us to pave the way towards a better future.

Eric Paul Leue is the executive director of the Free Speech Coalition.

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