US COVID-19 bailouts exclude ‘prurient’ sex workers. Shocker.

Sex Workers Don't Qualify for Government Covid relief

While we continue to hear stories of industries being decimated by the current Coronovirus pandemic, there are relatively few places talking about the sex industry, which has seen entire careers dry up overnight.

Obviously, we’re talking about it. That’s how we know that the huge bailout recently signed in the US has done nothing to redress that situation.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (USSBA) continuation payouts revealed this week have a sting in the tail for the adult industry, preventing applications from those who make money by “presenting live performances of a prurient sexual nature” or “through the sale of products or services, or the presentation of any depictions or displays, of a prurient sexual nature.”

For those of us without the verbal squits, ‘prurient’ basically means ‘deliberately boner-inducing’, and is a term used in US legal services and very few other places as it helps to define the difference between ‘sexy’ and ‘obscene’.

Like so many advisories and instructions from governments in recent times, the issue here is that there’s no hard-and-fast definition of what ‘prurient’ actually is – and in these times of Republican dominance in courts, it’s likely to mean something fairly prudish, compared to that offered a more liberal administration.

That’s why there’s been no attempt to try and define it recently – it’s just too divisive and would involve groups of old rich men sitting around discussing the eternal verities of the word ‘c*nt’ on C-SPAN.

So where does that leave online and in-person sex workers?

Bottom line? Most of your favourite strippers, camgirls, porn actors and other sex workers are now facing a complete lack of income. We’ve tried to bring you some examples of how enterprising venues, sites and workers are trying to pivot to something more sustainable, but for the most part – its the beginning of an indefinite period of, at best, uncertainty, and at worst, poverty.

These people aren’t doing anything illegal. They are (largely) mothers, daughters, sisters, carers and most importantly ‘human beings’ that are also going through the same pandemic as everyone else. The deliberate exclusion of these honest, law-abiding Americans from relief funds is down to the fact that those in power find their work distasteful, at least publicly.

Given the number of people who find American politics distasteful right now, that’s a double-blow.

The sex industry is a legitimate profession, and most people are working in it out of choice, and out of preference. Why are they being punished?

In some cases, it’s purely practical – if you work for tips (such as a lap-dancing club) then technically you have no income, and that makes it very difficult to justify topping-up your lost earnings.

If you’re an in-person sex worker, every punter right now is a potential risk (more so than normal), and many are being put into a position where they have no choice but to take that risk or starve.

In short, conservative politics is allowing sweeping judgements on what is ‘acceptable’ in a world that increasingly accepts it, and leaving yet another industry struggling on the brink. And that’s just one more failing in the US approach to Coronavirus.

We’ve created a list of products and services that will let you support those affected by this decision – you can check it out in the ‘read next’ link below. Please support them – it’d be nice if we had an industry left when all this is over.

READ NEXT: How the global pandemic is affecting the whole adult industry – and how you can help

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Chris M
Chris M

Chris has worked in technology journalism for over a decade, and brings his nerdy expertise to looking at what goes on under the hood of sex tech. With over a decade of expertise in his field, Chris brings a nerdy perspective to his exploration of the fascinating world behind the scenes. His articles have graced the pages of renowned publications such as Engadget, TechRadar, AskMen, and The Register.

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