Home News The Stormy Daniels Effect, Part II: Post SESTA/FOSTA Edition

The Stormy Daniels Effect, Part II: Post SESTA/FOSTA Edition

A younger Stormy Daniels demonstrates powerful side-eye. (Photo by James Chang via wikimedia)

When I first identified “The Stormy Daniels Effect” here at Tits and Sass, my theory about the power of sex worker class-consciousness, the Stormy Daniels media cyclone was just beginning to brew. This week, after her 60 Minutes interview on Sunday night, it briefly became a full on news cycle shit storm. Commentary on Daniels ranged from sex worker-penned think pieces praising her as a “hero of the opposition” to the never-ending parade of trolls calling her a “whore,” “slut,” and “ho” on Twitter. There was also a slew of pedestrian commentary on mainstream media sites, including tired retorts to Daniels’s press coverage that claimed her sex work is evidence of moral and intellectual shortcomings. My favorite came from an anonymous troll who goes by the name mason B: “awwwwwww the HO’S [sic] have a national voice now isn’t that nice?”

While trolls are not the barometer for our country’s political and social health, the dichotomous identities slung onto Daniels most certainly are. Even Nate Lerner, grassroots director for Build The Wave and creator of the “Boycott Trump” app, recently tweeted, “It’s disconcerting when a porn star is more articulate than our president.”

That Daniels is considered a dumb whore on the one hand and a savior on the other is pretty telling—in our culture, we want our sex workers to occupy uncomplicated little boxes. Leftists and right-wingers alike want sex workers to fit into one of two wildly different narratives. More to the point, it is not lost on most sex workers that while some Democrats and progressives praise Daniels, it was, nevertheless, Democrats and progressives who just fucking passed FOSTA.

For these reasons and more, I must amend The Stormy Daniels Effect to account for two overlapping issues. First, sex workers are clearly flattened when we are painted as a homogenous group, as right-wing trolls often depict us. But perhaps more importantly, we are also flattened when our complex identities are dichotomized into two manageable and static boxes and we are reduced still further when the box into which we fit is determined by race, class, gender, sexuality, immigration status, ability, etc. And let’s not forget that Republican and Democrat congress members alike procure the services of sex workers. In fact, there’s a handy Google doc going around lately for sex workers who would like to anonymously expose the hypocrisy of members of Congress.

With the passing of FOSTA and the heralding of Kamala Harris as the darling of the left, it is clear that it’s going to take a lot more than sex worker class-consciousness to ruin powerful men. It’s going to take more than the eradication of white male supremacy. In fact, it’s going to take the eradication of left entirely. Yes, really. We must completely eradicate the left and build a new movement in its ashes. Dare I say it—Fuck Democrats. Fuck Democrats, fuck Republicans, and fuck Libertarians. Yeah, and fuck progressives. Cause you know what? They’re fucking us … for free.

Fuck Democrats. Fuck Democrats, fuck Republicans, and fuck Libertarians. Yeah, and fuck progressives. Cause you know what? They’re fucking us … for free.

Progressives, dems, and libertarians are not any different from anonymous trolls like mason B—all of these groups consider themselves the gatekeepers of cultural narratives, of who gets a voice. And all of these groups believe that who gets a voice is entirely dependent upon the speaker’s social capital. For right-wing trolls, a whore is a whore is a whore. For so-called progressives and others, an upper-class white woman in the sex industry is a hero but a sex worker with any kind of complex, intersecting identity is collateral damage. For so-called progressives and the like, any sex worker who exists outside of racist and classist constructions of cis heteronormativity is undeserving of both a voice and, quite literally, a life.

There is a reason why our country honed in on a conventionally attractive, white, upper-class sex worker rather than addressing the immediate needs of sex workers who have already lost housing, income, and screening capabilities since the passing of FOSTA. That reason is because contrary to public political discourse, the two political parties in our country are more similar than not. For sex workers who service powerful men (and women), including members of Congress, that statement comes as no surprise.

For so-called progressives and others, an upper-class white woman in the sex industry is a hero but a sex worker with any kind of complex, intersecting identity is collateral damage.

The Stormy Daniels Effect is not about sex workers from all walks of life coming together to ruin powerful policy makers. It is, as I understand it now, about ripping the mic away from privileged sex workers and returning it to the rightful hands of those who built this movement. It is about creating solidarity with our colleagues who’ve been unable to get out of bed since FOSTA passed. It is about leaving behind any allegiance to the political parties in power and supporting the trans, Black, Brown, Indigenous, poor, drug-using sex workers who have always been fighting for a new way.

This is not a takedown of Stormy Daniels. That’s the entire fucking point—it’s larger than just one person. This is call to action, a takedown of the immensely powerful social systems that venerate sex workers who wager nothing in the aftermath of FOSTA while these same systems, sold to us as two distinct political parties, vilify, dehumanize, and literally murder sex workers who have everything to lose.

12 COMMENTS

    • So what, you got to the part about eradicating the left and decided you’d heard all she had to say, so why not throw out an obtuse question? Well for those who have short attentions spans, here’s the next part of that paragraph.

      “Dare I say it—Fuck Democrats. Fuck Democrats, fuck Republicans, and fuck Libertarians. Yeah, and fuck progressives. Cause you know what? They’re fucking us … for free.”

      When you’re building on ashes, you’re generally doing it on the side that claimed to represent and support you but failed to actually do so. Not a lot Republicans even claiming to give a shit about sex workers.

      • Eradicating the right, that is. To the point mentioning something about an obtuse question— apologies, but I don’t follow your comment. Thanks for reading though.

  1. I see what was the former Australian Sex Party (now called the Reason Party) and think, we can go bigger. Not because they weren’t ambitious, but because I think they went mainstream too fast. If they won’t take you seriously because you’re called the Australia Sex Party now, they’re not going to take you seriously when you change it to the Reason Party – so why bother?

    The sexual freedom movement is at the forefront of issues of consent in our culture, well beyond how it applies to sex, and a lot of that dialog is directly from the sex workers within the community. And whether they wanted to be or not, sex workers have now been placed in the center of a fight for basic first amendment rights. Sex workers have always been among the most informed when it comes to issues of economic downturn and lack of jobs that pay a living wage. Sex workers have an international community that surrounds them, and a clearer view of day to day struggles that inform on or are impacted by foreign relations than those in many other professions.

    That’s literally just the beginning of what those in the SW community can do if they had a place at the table – so maybe it’s time to take one. Even if it fails spectacularly or goes out with barely a whimper, it’d still be better than the hamster wheel we’re on right now.

    • Just to be clear, the Sex Party never gave a rats ass about sex worker rights. The Sex Party was funded by EROS which represents sex industry BOSSES, not workers. Never once did I hear them actually advocate for the decriminalisation of the sex industry. If they had any sincere interest in our rights they would have. Instead, in Victoria, they supported the licensing system that creates a two tiered legal system where some workers are criminised and others arent. Licensed brothel owners, who are members of Eros, benefit from sending the cops in to close up unlicensed businesses they compete with. They scare workers off working privately so the bosses can always get a cut. ASP is fucking scum. They might be the Reason Party now but it’s my understanding that they are still deeply involved with Eros.

  2. so to clarify— I am hugely critical of the right, which in the USA, is nothing more than the personification of white supremacy, capitalism, imperialism, and heteropatriarchy. If you read this piece and thought I was advocating for sex workers to join the GOP, ummmmm NO. In the devastating aftermath of FOSTA and SESTA, I am now critiquing the political parties with which I have formerly aligned, because they failed me and my community.

  3. Famous, white, celebrities, who basically take over progressive movements, then shove everyone else out of them, are **not** progressives. They are more like Sam Harris, Peterson, Dawkins, etc. claiming they are the “epitome of atheists”, while claiming that any attempt to address inequities, unjustices, etc. that both they, and religions (especially when they origination with those religions) support are either, “Not something we need to solve, because they are natural, we have members that say it scientific!!”, or, “A distraction!”

    I agree with everything you say, other than that one mis-categorization. You can rob people actually trying to fix things of the title and leadership of being “progressive”, but that doesn’t make you progressive. All it does is make it harder for people who honestly believe in the ideal to take the word back, and truly change things.

    And, maybe that, in a disturbing, and even sometime unintentional, way is the point. We can fight, but without a word to use to say, “This is what we stand for.”, they can pull the same crap they did with protestors calling themselves Occupy – “These people don’t have a clear cause, so we, the people with power, can just ignore them, or put them down for being meaningless.” So.. What clear message do we pick, if rich, white, famous, people have now latched on to “progressive”, and turned it into, “Only our sort or progress, which doesn’t include a thousand things that need to be changed/fixed.”, call them out on this lie and fight back, or let them have the word? Because, for me, calling them out on this lie is “far” more important than trying to invent yet another new one, and having them successfully distort that as well, into something they can convince everyone to appose.

  4. Why not take a “yes and” approach, and instead of being annoyed that a white, attractive etc, sex worker got some media attention, see it as a positive, a wedge that helps get sex workers in general through the door. Why the constant need to divide a movement of already universally stigmatized people against each other, so that we need to “rip the mic” away from any of us? This oppression olympics within our movements on the left has got to stop. It’s so perfect for dividing us it almost seems like cointelpro.

    • If you haven’t noticed, there is a finite amount of room at the table.

      And please stop saying “oppression Olympics.” People don’t spend their whole lives training to compete in oppression. That’s a narrative written by oppressors.

    • Stormy Daniels has done nothing to bring attention to the plight of people affected by SESTA/FOSTA and is not likely to do so unless it starts affecting her business personally (which is absolutely a goal of some of the groups behind it), so she deserves to have the mic ripped away. Not that that will happen.

  5. As someone on the Independent Left (not a Democrat) who has strongly supported decriminalization of sex work, I have to take some exception to some of this article.

    First off, Kamala Harris is not really “the darling of the Left”. Far from it, she is a neoliberal Democrat politician of color who has used sex work criminalization as a stepping stone for her career.

    There are increasing numbers of people on the Left who are opening their eyes to the importance of sex work decriminalization and the intersectionality of sex work and other forms of economic and social inequality. Should they be consumed as well in your “destruction of the Left”?

    Stormy Daniels is no revolutionary, that is true: but if her actions against Donald Trump further expose the hypocrisy of those institutions that reinforce the current system, then more power to her.

    There is a radical, pro-sexworker Left that is out there. We do exist. Don’t deny us, please.

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