Stoya Opens Up About Allegations, Sex Worker Empowerment

Stoya Opens Up About Allegations, Sex Worker Empowerment

LOS ANGELES — In honor of International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers (Dec. 17), Stoya explored sex worker empowerment on her blog, where she examined both her own sexual assault allegations against James Deen and the broader power dynamics of sex work.

"Pornography sits at a unique crossroads of entertainment and sex work," she observed, pointing out the uncertain "legal landscape" in which adhering to "OSHA guidelines" can be as treacherously nuanced as abiding by differing state laws.

Such complexities, she says, are made all the more volatile given public perceptions about sex worker credibility. "We work in a culture that can be outright hostile, as when War Machine’s lawyer questioned whether Christy Mack can be raped because of her former career in pornography or when NYC police carried used condoms as evidence of prostitution, which it did until mid-2014," explained Stoya.

This cultural bias extends to "banking and housing" as well as "issues of consent and ethics," regardless of whether the sex worker is involved in pornography, an "escort agency, strip club, massage parlor, street corner, or cam site." 

While the adult industry has its own "cultural quirks," Stoya distinguishes it from other business communities because "we who work in pornography experience the effects of moral hysteria and anti-sex work propagandists," especially whenever someone airs "pornography's dirty laundry" or systemic flaws.

"I hope that we continue to look for better ways to protect our workers, and that we question our own motivations and conflicts of interest while we do so," offered Stoya. "An agent with greater loyalty to established directors than to the performers they represent is a problem. A director or producer on the board of an organization built to protect and aid performers is questionable, and a company owner on that board can be a major impediment to that organization’s mission."

To better shield adult entertainers, Stoya encourages everyone to listen to all sex workers, "not just women who are fortunate enough to get column space in respectable papers."

She vowed to do "a lot of listening to others under the red umbrella of sex work," because she believes "their safety is important and that it can be improved." In conclusion, she said, "I believe that no one is safe and no one is protected unless we’re all safe and protected, sex worker or not."