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Frigid Blades 

By Stephanie Thomson

 

        You knew of the Saints, and they were not kind. You knew this, and yet you prayed to them. You’re on your hands and knees, bound to the cathedral walls, unholy hymns running through your veins, as you screamed for mercy. You wondered at first how dreams of climbing Mount Everest could grow into such a tiring and slow death. Clenching your fist as you held it up high in the sky, and now you couldn’t even see your hands as the snowstorm blanketed your vision. Your hands had been cold ten minutes ago, and now you couldn’t feel anything. Numbness trapped you in like a cocoon, unraveling in glacial metamorphosis with violet fingers.

        You were dying. The Saints knew it. You knew it. The dreams you cherished to be more than the shadows of giants that came before you, to stand above the rest, were impaled with the frigid blades piercing your ribcage. You resented your younger self, how you’d curl up by the fire with hot chocolate on your lap, covered by a warm blanket. You wish you could dig into your skin as the frost did to yours. You wanted to scream as loudly as the blizzard’s howls. “Give up on your dreams, don’t go to your deathbed. You’ll never stand above those giants. You are nothing, you are small, and that’s okay. Just don’t go there!” But you knew no matter how hard you screamed, how your numbed indigo fingertips dug into your own skin, you’d stay resilient. A fool’s ideology. They’d be different than the rest of the wide-eyed young climbers ready to walk with the giants. That’s what they all say. And now you’d join them, curled into yourself, trying to find warmth when you can’t even feel your own heartbeat. 

        A funeral of dreamers buried in unmarked graves under the ice and snow. 

        The snow would sing an empty lament for you. And you’d take it with saltwater tears streaming down your ashen skin, this was your legacy. To be buried under six feet of ice and snow, to one day be discovered by another hopeful wanderer who had dug a little too deep that night and found your decomposing bones. 

        You wondered as your muscles began to stiffen and your skin began to harden up like wax if you were bound to this linear path as the Saints say. Had fate been so cruel to you that you’d be left to wander through the ice-ridden woodlands in search of glory for eternity? A childhood dream turned nightmare. The rusted skies mixed with the pale plies of cloud felt like an illustration only a few days ago that had filled you with hope and aspiration. You’d seen the peak of your casket before the reapers did and yet you continued on anyways like the hopeless idiot you were, you’d be different, after all.

        That’s what they all say. 

        You wouldn’t find glory on the mountain. You went alone despite being told not to, you had always been too stubborn to ask for help. Instead, you were met with the cold, harsh reality of it all. The russet and cotton candy skies faded behind a wall of smoke and gray, the soft snow that crushed under the weight of your boot would be your death sentence. You wouldn’t live to see the peak of Everest, and your spirit would be tied to the harsh winds - chained down to the base of the mountain. 

        Not even your ghost would know peace.

        You knew your time was coming to an end. 

        The Saints wouldn’t answer your prayers.

        You used the last of your strength to kick the snow off of your jacket, wrapping your arms around your knees and pulling them in. Warmth was a necessity only granted to the dead. Touch felt like a broken man’s desperate prayer. You thought of everything you could be, everything you wouldn’t be. Memories would rewind and unfold with time, brushing against your waxy skin. A part of you wanted to fight, to set yourself and this whole damn mountain ablaze. To burn the giants to the ground, and walk amongst their ashes. But you aren’t a fighter, there was only the abandoned kindling from your camp resting in the ice. 

        You closed your eyes one last time and finally allowed yourself to succumb to the elements. The Everest would welcome you as one of its own.  The snowfall would blanket you from the frigid blades, capturing you. A masterpiece frozen to time. 

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Random-Access Memory

Tyler Allen 

        You remember you’re on a beach, the air cool and wet, and you feel a crisp breeze on your face. You know it’s real because you can feel the sand in your hand and you watch as the sand slowly slips between your fingers and back into the beach. The sun sinks beneath the water, turning the sky and water an incalculable number of shades of red, orange, blue, and purple. You can’t remember which beach this is but you know you’re facing westward, maybe California? Oregon? Portugal? Upon turning you see her illuminated, her hair in the red-orange sunset. She calls your name but you pretend not to hear. 

        You can still hear her, but when you turn you’re now at a rooftop bar overlooking the city. The city is lit, and the sun is entirely set. You feel the expensive but mediocre drink getting warmer in your hand. What a waste you think. Here everyone calls you the wrong name and you wonder why. No one seems to know or care, but she keeps introducing you to people whose faces you can’t remember. People from accounting and from business meetings and deals and blah blah blah. You overhear someone talking about not having time to find a real partner anyway. Looking for the exit, you find a half dozen of the staff of this bar in a semicircle smoking and taking bets. “Sorry,” you mumble, and slowly back away. 

        When you turn you are in a doctor’s office, but you don’t want to be here so the walls wash away and refigure. It feels like home. You remember the doors and the walls and the way the light comes through the shades, but something is wrong. You think but you draw a blank. Turning to look out the window you notice the far green and brown horizon as you pass row and row of olive trees. Your hand grips the seat and you notice the white cotton interior is peeling and you pick at it nervously. Then you remember you are on a train in the south of Spain on your way to Italy. You’ve been stressed about this trip for months and you’ve wondered what your catholic mother would say about your plan to skip the Vatican. Sometimes you hear her voice when you fake swear, saying “God bless it,” or “gosh darn it.” 

        You hear a voice in the train car but you don’t know what they’re saying. What year is it? The thought trickles through your mind—why can’t you remember? What is slipping through your fingers? You hear your name again, this time from the other side of your train car. Huh. You think you hear yourself, but the words remain on your tongue. Your name rings out in your ears again but you can’t place where from. You turn behind you and when you do, the world washes away. 

        “Jasmine,” behind you again, you hear a trickle of water, a sink. The kitchen is smaller than you remember. The oven is on and you can hear the TV in the other room. Shinc, shinc, shinc, the sound of your knife as you chop cilantro for tonight’s dinner. No. You know what is going to happen next and you try to fight it. You don’t feel as you slice the end of your finger off. You think it’s adrenaline. You go to wash the cut and notice the water stays clear. Why aren’t I bleeding? you ask yourself. 

        “Janie,” your voice calls out lamely. You see her in the hallway light, and she's nervous as she glides over to you. She bandages you lovingly and kisses you but you pull away. 

        “Janie, why is there no blood?” 

        She doesn’t answer. Instead, you drift away to a white room, your finger still bandaged. Janie and the doctor talk behind the door. Why aren’t they talking to me? The air is cold and you wish you were somewhere else but your body and your mind won’t move. Your hand drifts to the wall as you glide your finger on the rough stucco pattern. The light gust of recycled air turns on above you and a chill runs down your spine. What could take them this long? You try to picture your mother’s face but nothing materializes, then your room, then your bike, but nothing but blackness enters your thoughts. When you put your hand on the hard but soft bed in the doctor’s office, you feel the coarseness of sand as it sinks in. Beyond the door, the voices have now become the sounds of waves. 

        The doctor comes in, but you remember none of the conversations. Something about Random-Access Memory, and the synapse breakdown brought on by sentience. They give you a month if you’re lucky. You are broken, and worse yet, unfixable. Janie has your papers and therefore you have no say in what happens next. This conversation is a formality. You feel if the doctor had a choice he would send you to the scrap heap. You don’t remember the operation but you remember the car ride. Janie looks at you and apologizes for being a bad owner. Her eyes are a crimson shade, and her cheeks wet. What do you say? 

        “I love you,” you hear yourself mumble. 

        A flash. 

        A wave’s crashing descent. 

        You hear your name from behind you. It’s not the name you were given but the name you would have chosen. “Laura!” you hear again. The sand is hot and coarse between your fingers, and the cool beach air smells sweet this time of year. You turn and you see her standing there, waving. When you close your eyes, you just let yourself listen to the sound of the waves.

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Spring Into Summer

Heidi Shepherd

 

I yearn…

My body yearns 

for the first really warm day of spring.

To feel the gentle caresses of the sun 

lavishly covering my flesh with kisses.

 

My body yearns 

for warm tender breezes to play with my hair

licking erotic trails upon my neck.

 

I yearn… 

For the flora and fauna that spring brings.

Vibrant splashes of color, flowers paint upon 

green lush of the garden.

 

My eyes yearn…

To look above and see 

shiny bright faces of the sunflowers 

gazing enduringly down upon me.

 

My ears yearn…

To hear the delicately vulnerable flutes 

of the loyal birds spring brings back to us.

Of the chatter between crow and blackbirds.

 

My heart yearns… 

For the chubby little butts of the fuzzy bumblebees 

sticking out of flowers like Pooh in his honey pot 

or when they buzz so diligently and happily from 

smelly fragrant pollinator buds.

 

My soul yearns…

For the lazy hot days of summer,

for the stillness of the day

when you can hear the wings of the hummingbird

floating from flower to flower,

 

when the day brings lazy dogs 

and lazy lounging tan legs 

that dangle over the arm of a chair,

 

for the cool taste of ice tea

and laughter and shouts

and babies crying and fans blowing, 

of sprinklers spraying and all the kids playing.

 

Yes, even I, can now frankly say

I miss the days of spring that settle into summer.

Hennesy

by David Hurley

        In the cool night air of the city, a woman named Moe walks down the street. She walks past dozens of rich town businesses while several men try unsuccessfully to gesture to her. She is firm and steadfast. Her figure is an endless gaze into the stars. The dress she wears is a velvet black with overlapping slits on both sides; they conceal the holsters on her thighs. Around her waist is a red band that matches the red of her hat, a Kentucky derby style. So too, her gloves ran up to her elbows, a slightly darker red. In her right hand: a large, blue suitcase blotched with paint.

        It was for traveling out of town and for work. Dotted and streaked with an endless array of colors, it was large and sturdy enough to carry tools for various jobs. It was clean when her sister gifted it to her, now the last connection Moe has to that past.

        She comes up to an old building. Several stories tall, it has a pristine garden between it and the sidewalk with perfectly cut grass and exotic plants. A fountain was dancing amidst some palm trees. The front of the building has no windows, and instead is built with gothic designs and statues. Gargoyles look down at the onlookers while arches cover the doors and walls. She stops in front, looking at the old architecture and its dark ambience. It does not dissuade her.

        Clenched in her free hand is a note written on parchment. She looks it over one more time. In cursive and with a heavy ink, it says, “The Benson’s on Friday. Dress up.” She then lets go of the note, its frailty sweeping away, and proceeds up to the front doors.

        A modest looking man dressed in a sharp black suit is there. He looks her over. It is quick and professional. He opens one of the double doors for her with a high level of courtesy, even directing her with an open hand to come inside. She accepts without hesitation and steps through the stone archway.

        Inside is a sharply dressed woman standing opposite of the door, waiting for patrons who leave. There is a hallway to the back with a large flight of stairs on one side. On this floor the lights are dim and illuminate only large, locked doors. The stairs, however, lead up to a brighter set of lights. And there is a faint sound of music. Moe heads up the stairs.

        Her steps echo through the hall but are overshadowed whenever the bulky suitcase clunks against the stairs. About halfway up, several people in white suits and dresses come over the ledge. Before they reach her, she tries to tuck the suitcase between her and the wall. The action catches their attention, of whom give her a quizzical look. Moe’s eyes return a defensive moxy. But upon seeing the suitcase, they laugh and proceed down. Moe takes the moment to breathe and think about what’s coming.

        She eventually makes it to the top, dragging the case with her. Here, there is a small lobby with two oak doors leading into The Benson’s. Carvings run along them, depicting a dragon gobbling up a smaller beast. Another doorman opens these for her.

        A wave of smoke and smooth jazz hits Moe as she moves onto the polished oakwood floor. People are everywhere—in the great hall, in booths along the exterior, and huddled next to the bar itself. It is stocked with liquors from all over the world, its gatekeeper a charming looking man with a pleasant laugh. He leans on the counter’s river fractal design. While looking around, Moe bumps a couple of the patrons. Dressed in either the finest black or white attire, they shoot her dirty looks while they hold cigars or cigarettes in their off hands. She moves away and is careful to navigate onward.

        Eventually she makes it to the edge of the sea. Here, there is a glass wall, the cold night air beyond. Extending from the floor to the ceiling, it replaced the old gothic structure, save for two columns that supported the floor and roof above. A double set of clear doors opens to a balcony. Made of clear crystal, one could look down through them at the edge of the wilderness. It continues for miles, from the edge of the city to the edge of the lake. Serene, the moon reflected upon it. The snow-capped mountains lie beyond. 

        There, in the middle of the balcony, he stands. A tall figure, wearing a brown suit and with scruffy hair that stood on its curls, is watching the lake. 

        Moe steps through the glass doors and approaches him, once again with the steadfast walk. She comes up to his right side and against the railing, stopping just a couple of feet away. His gaze continues off into the distance, even as she can see her reflection out of the corner of his glasses. 

        “Lester.” Her voice comes across stern. The man takes in a slow breath, the ruffles on his jacket’s collar showing themselves. 

        “It’s good to see you again Moe.” His voice is calm.

        “I have it here. All of it.” 

         Lester turns his head to see her holding up the suitcase with both arms. 

        “Now tell me!” she demands of him.

        “A bit rash, aren’t we Moe?” 

        Lester turns his entire body to face her now. Taller than her, she looks up at his sandstone face, no longer the chiseled and immaculate look of granite.

        Moe smirks. “They say the dead have all the time in the world. I guess I’m fortunate to not have that luxury.”

        Lester pauses, allowing for the steam to cool in Moe. “They also rest in that everlasting existence. But you owe me a great deal.” 

        “Then take this and tell me where she is.” 

        “No. That’s not enough.” 

         Moe drops the case. In its stead, she reaches to one of her thigh holsters and pulls out a small pistol. The barrel aims at his head. 

        “You said you would tell me.”

        His face remains sullen.  

        “I said we would talk next time we met.”

        Her finger tightens around the trigger.

        A breeze blows past them, Lester’s loose jacket trailing with the wind. He tells her, “I know how to make money. I spent a lifetime working with it, making sure that what came in matched against the money that went out and would grow. Spreadsheets, finances, even gambling were all part of the equation. That was, until we met. And out of everyone I’ve dealt with, everyone that hindered me, you were the only one that shattered my dream. You took everything from me in Vegas. 

       “Bullshit.”

        Lester’s eyebrows shift inward, thickening his gaze.

        “You love to gamble,” he reminds her.

        “No. Not anymore. This is the end of that life.”

        “Is that so? Then perhaps humor me. One last bet. A coin toss. If you call the toss correctly, I’ll tell you where your sister is. If you’re wrong, then at least you can keep the money.”

        Moe’s teeth begin to grind against each other. “You’re a sick man, Lester.”

        “No. I just want what I’m owed. A final gamble.”

        She shoves the gun to his head. “You’re lying, Lester. It’s easy to tell, even with a face as dead as yours.”

        “Then I might as well leave. Goodbye, Moe,” he says with his cold flesh.

        Lester starts to walk off, the gun slowly streaking across his brow as he turns. Moe presses the gun harder against his head, even catching the skin of his temple as he keeps moving. The force she uses causes her to stumble past him. Knees feeling weak, she catches herself after a few steps. She corrects herself to look at Lester’s back side. A tear starts to well up in her eye. She looks around for any of the other patrons, but most are inside, and the few on the balcony stand distant and guarded. They back up when she connects her sight with them, not afraid, but cautious. Lester plods a couple more stops before she speaks up.

        “OK! Ok. Flip the coin.”

        Lester stops. His hand reaches into deep pockets and pulls out an old silver dollar. He returns to the rail and holds the coin up for her to see.

       “What’s the call?”

       “Heads. You tell me where my sister is if its heads.” Her voice caves.

        Lester flicks it up, and she watches. Time slows to a crawl as it flies into the air. The patrons in the distance turn to mannequins. The wind takes its time swaying Lester’s curls. And Lester’s right arm moves steadily and with purpose. But Moe loses sight of all of this as her tears blocks it out and only registers the reverberations from the flips of the silver dollar. It shines and sparkles in the moonlight. 

        Bang.

        Moe’s eyes fly open as a hot molten spike enters her stomach. The noise calls the attention of the bar patrons as well as the other balcony patrons. No one runs. Many are ready to draw.

        Moe, however, slumps to the ground. Above her, Lester is holding a smoking colt, his face unflinching and paying no heed to her action. Holding out the hand that flipped the coin, the silver dollar lands in the palm. He turns his gaze slowly to it, and then, gently, he puts it back in his pocket.

        “You’ll find her at the docks under the old Hennesy fish market, pier 22, lot 432. She was well taken care of and will be fine for days.” 

        Lester then puts the colt back in his holster and grabs the suitcase.

        Moe, feeling hot liquid pour from her belly, looks back at him, the little gun in her hand. She feeds him a face: teeth barred, eyes hot as lightening. Lester looks straight back at her, pausing and waiting. Her grip starts to fade as she moves the pistol closer between the two of them. A terrible tremble starts to shoot through her weakening arm. When she reaches near her stomach, she drops it. Her hand continues to reach forth for the phone in the other holster under her dress. She pulls it out, and with it, accidentally spills her wallet.

        Moe is quick to dial. She slams the device to her ear. Meanwhile, Lester looks at the wallet. Its leather hide free on the ground. He picks it up, and stuffs it into his pocket. 

        “Roger.” She gasps and spits. “Shut up! Just shut it. Go to the docks under the old Hennesy fish market, pier 22, lot 432. You got it? Read it back… No. 432… Yes. Now go!” 

        She coughs up blood as she drops the phone. It hits and cracks against the crystal floor. Meanwhile, an eyebrow raises on Lester’s heavy face. 

        “That is a fine memory you have. Perhaps it wasn’t all luck after all.” He snickers. “Maybe I’ll even see my face in an exhibit someday. It will be the only way you see me again.”

        Lester then walks off, his prim shoes clacking on the floor, his gait a steady pace. Moe follows him with one final glare. Her teeth are no longer bare, her eyes freed of rage. The pain unbearable. When he steps through the glass doors, she looks back at her wound.

        “I’m coming, sis,” she says weakly.

        She puts a mountain’s worth of pressure on her wound. With it, Moe tries to get up, but stops when she sees more movement out of the corner of her eye. A couple of patrons are running over to her.

        Lester makes it to the lobby unabated. He stops there. Standing tall, he adjusts his collar. The rumpled form straightens out. And when he walks down the stairs, a smile of obsidian chips up his right cheek.

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Sex Work Is Work

by Silver Fox

        In 2018, the United States government passed a package of bills called SESTA and FOSTA. SESTA stands for Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act, and FOSTA stands for Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act. They were advertised as a cure all for stopping the online sex trade, and making it easier for victims of trafficking to get justice against their abusers. The bills amend Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act to allow prosecutors to penalize internet companies that “promote or facilitate prostitution.” Before, websites and internet service providers were not held liable for any user-generated content posted on their platforms. Now, the owner of any platform that hosts content involving sexual activity—including consensual sex work—can be sentenced to up to 25 years in prison. 

        The idea was that if we could hold these websites liable for all 3rd party content, the website itself could be sued as an accomplice to sex trafficking. This way, victims could have some kind of justice for the harms done to them. The problem is that these bills are enabling trafficking and making life more dangerous for both consensual and nonconsensual sex workers. From FOSTA: A Hostile Law with a Human Cost: 

Within one month of FOSTA’s enactment, thirteen sex workers were reported missing, and two were dead from suicide. Sex workers operating independently faced a tremendous and immediate uptick in unwanted solicitation from individuals offering or demanding to traffic them. Numerous others were raped, assaulted, and rendered homeless or unable to feed their children. (Chaimberlain 2174) 

        Stuff like this isn’t even new. From Sex Workers of the World United: 

 

Likewise, in England, the white slavery crusade led to the passage of the Criminal Law Amendment, designed to protect women from trafficking and exploitation. The law enabled the police to search brothels on a whim, and made street solicitation a serious crime. Promoted as a way to protect women, it ended up being a cudgel that allowed state authorities to criminalize, stigmatize, and lock up thousands upon thousands of marginalized women. (Stern) 

        The primary mechanics of the bills are about website hosts and allowable content. Many important websites that used to host sex workers were forced to shut down. With the loss of critical websites, sex workers lost access to important harm reduction tools. No more bad date lists, used for sharing info on clients. No more background checks on potential clients. No more advertising, no more private messaging, no more negotiating prices or services. Without these specific and tailored pages, sex workers are forced to be vague on social media or dating sites and hope for the best. Because those sites also prohibit solicitation, it gives potential clients a lot of room for pretending to be dumb and refusing to pay for services. 

        SESTA/FOSTAs assault on the internet means less income for sex workers. If the workers can afford it, they can create their own website and have it hosted overseas in order to avoid being under SESTA/FOSTA jurisdiction. That is an expensive option, and out of reach for most sex workers. Losing all of the internet resources meant losing a large percentage of clients. The remaining available clients demand cheaper services - or they outright refuse to pay - because they know workers are desperate. Sex workers also reported working for less reputable and more dangerous clients, and engaging in activities they aren’t comfortable with; because of the desperation that comes with the loss of these critical internet resources.

        Websites banning sex-related content or shutting down completely means actual trafficking victims will be harder to find. When sex service ads could be posted online, the authorities could work with the website to study the situation and track the poster and even get some justice for the victim. Again, from FOSTA: A Hostile Law with a Human Cost: Meanwhile, law enforcement professionals have complained that their investigations into sex-trafficking cases have been “blinded”—they no longer have advertisements to subpoena, digital records to produce for prosecutors, and leads that can bring them to live crime scenes full of evidence, like hotel rooms (Chaimberlain, 2175). Without the internet, everyone is forced outside. 

        Out on the streets there is no protection for either consensual or nonconsensual sex workers. They are at a huge risk of being robbed, being assaulted, being raped, and being arrested. Being forced to work outside, sex workers have been subjected to more assaults, more arrests, and more murders since the passing of SESTA/FOSTA. Savannah Sly, with the Sex Workers Outreach Project, testified to the Washington state Senate Labor & Commerce Committee, "What we're seeing is an uptick in violence across the sex trade since the passing of these bills."

        Proponents claimed SESTA/FOSTA would save victims. This is an admirable position to take; trafficking is a big deal and victims need to be found and helped and the perpetrators ought to face some kind of justice. Forced labour is a human rights issue and stopping it would be great. From The New York Times: The bill “will grant victims the ability to secure the justice they deserve, allow internet platforms to continue their work combating human trafficking, and protect good actors in the ecosystem,” said Michael Beckerman, president of the Internet Association (Kang). Unfortunately, many of these people think all sex work is trafficking. The proponents are anti porn, anti strip club, and anti sex in general. A few of the Christian groups who support SESTA/FOSTA are so blatantly anti sex to the point that they want to eradicate all sex work. From the World Without Exploitation: “We understand that we won’t end sexual exploitation until we end the demand for prostitution. As long as there is a global sex trade, ours will be an unsafe, unjust world.”  Others claim porn and stripping lead to sex trafficking and sex crimes. From Citizen Magazine: 

Lisa Thompson, liaison for the Abolition of Sexual Trafficking at the Salvation Army, points out the toxic side of porn for the user: “Pornography robs people from the ability to have an intimate, loving and committed relationship with their spouse where they can explore their sexuality within the safety of an exclusive union, because it programs the mind with debase, degrading, brutal and violent ideas about what human sexuality ought to look like. (DeMoss)

        Stopping trafficking is a good goal, because forced labour is injustice; and victims deserve justice. They deserve legal protections. But these bills are not doing anything to stop trafficking. They are making it easier for trafficking to happen. When avenues for safer ways to work disappear, more marginalized folks are pushed out onto the streets. Repression always leads to greater danger and more male control. More control in the hands of pimps has, historically, led to more trafficking. SESTA/FOSTA "has suddenly re-empowered this whole underclass of pimps and exploiters," according to Pike Long, deputy director of the St. James Infirmary. (Stern)

        Sex work is work, it is not trafficking.  It shouldn’t be criminalized in the first place. Lots of marginalized people do sex work because they can’t or won’t participate in the regular economy. Many people chose sex work because of the higher hourly rates and flexible hours; people who are full time students, single parents, disabled, or have a criminal record. Gutting of social safety net programs always result in more people selling sex. 

        Consensual and nonconsensual sex workers already had a difficult time seeking justice before SESTA/FOSTA. Reporting a rape often meant being arrested for prostitution. Sex work is primarily a cash only business, without sufficient paper trail to show to prospective landlords. Even strippers get discriminated against when trying to find housing, because sex work is seen as a moral failing and a dirty job. If a sex worker wants to find a different job in a more civilian arena, they will be discriminated against due to either a huge gap in employment or because they put it anyways and few bosses want to hire someone with that kind of history. 

        As long as it’s illegal to do sex acts for money, there is a risk of being arrested for having that kind of history. Being arrested means gaining a criminal record, which is another barrier to housing and employment. If one already has housing assistance, being arrested means losing housing assistance. Even when sex workers try to combine forces and work together to stay safer, or when they talk to each other about clients or anything, that kind of communication and camaraderie is illegal due to FOSTA’s criminalization of any internet discussion that “promotes or facilitates prostitution.” Trafficking victims who fight back against their captors or try to get help also get arrested.

        SESTA/FOSTA hurts way more than it helps. It took away income and pushed workers who had access to harm reduction tools into less safe work environments, increasing their financial insecurity and exposure to violence. Pushing people out of online spaces and into the streets results in a loss of consistent income, which leads to more stress and more trauma and the potential for a loss of housing. Sex workers rights are human rights. SESTA/FOSTA successfully took away the rights of these workers, and the rights of the real victims. As long as these bills are active, more marginalized people will be harmed. 

        As an anti-trafficking package, SESTA/FOSTA fails miserably. As a way to ruin people’s lives, SESTA/FOSTA has been a huge success. But I think that’s actually the point. Anti-trafficking laws have always been put into place so people can harass sex workers. They aren’t trying to stop sex trafficking, they are trying to end all sex work. If they really want to save “victims” then they should give us all a monthly universal basic income so we won’t have to do these jobs that are so publicly reviled. A minimum wage 9-5 isn’t a rescue, it’s a punishment. 

 

Works Cited

Albert, Kendra, et al. “FOSTA in Legal Context” Columbia Human Rights Law Review. Issue 52.3. 2020-2021. hrlr.law.columbia.edu/files/2021/04/1084_Albert.pdf. Accessed 23 Feb. 2022

Blunt, Danielle and Wolf, Ariel. “Erased The Impact of FOSTA-SESTA” Hacking//Hustling. 2019-2020. hackinghustling.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/HackingHustling-Erased.pdf. Accessed 23 Feb. 2022

Chamberlain, Lura. “FOSTA: A Hostile Law with a Human Cost” 87 Fordham Law Review 2171. 2019. https://ir.lawnet.fordham.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=5598&context=flr

COYOTE-RI.  “Impact Survey Results” 2018.

 

docs.google.com/presentation/d/1KBsVBQh7EsRexAyZacaf_fUvvsVb2MR1Q30_gV7Jegc/edit#slide=id.p. Accessed 1 March 2022

DeMoss, Bob. “A Sinister – And Growing – Business Model” Citizen Magazine. April 2011. s3.documentcloud.org/documents/4407844/Sinister-Business-Model-apr11cz.pdf. Accessed 23 Feb. 2022

Kang, Cecilia. “In Reversal, Tech Companies Back Sex Trafficking Bill.” The New York Times. November 2017. www.nytimes.com/2017/11/03/technology/sex-trafficking-bill.html Accessed 23 Feb. 2022

Oliver, John. “Sex Work” Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. February 27 2022. www.youtube.com/watch?v=-gd8yUptg0Q. Accessed 28 Feb. 2022

Romano, Aja. “A new law intended to curb sex trafficking threatens the future of the internet as we know it.” Vox. July 2018. www.vox.com/culture/2018/4/13/17172762/fosta-sesta-backpage-230-internet-freedom. Accessed 23 Feb. 2022

Stern, Scott W. "Sex Workers of the World United: LAST YEAR'S SESTA/FOSTA LEGISLATION AIMED TO LIMIT SEX TRAFFICKING-BUT IT'S JUST THE LATEST IN A LONG LINE OF POLICIES DESIGNED TO CRIMINALIZE THE OLDEST PROFESSION." The American Scholar, vol. 88, no. 3, summer 2019, pp. 40+. Gale OneFile: Criminal Justice, go-gale-com.libproxy.pcc.edu/ps/retrieve.do?tabID=T003&resultListType=RESULT_LIST&searchResultsType=SingleTab&hitCount=1&searchType=BasicSearchForm&currentPosition=1&docId=GALE%7CA589798939&docType=Essay&sort=Relevance&contentSegment=ZCUC&prodId=PPCJ&pageNum=1&contentSet=GALE%7CA589798939&searchId=R1&userGroupName=pcc&inPS=true . Accessed 23 Feb. 2022

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Experiencing Loss
& Injustice

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Previous Section

Discovering and Creating

Next Section

Feeling Trapped and Imprisoned

Table of Contents

Loss

“Black and Pearly White”

Poem by Taylor Woodworth

  • Art by Morgan Belden

“Frigid Blades”

Fiction by Stephanie Thomsom

  • Art by Morgan Belden

“Random Access Memory”

Fiction by Tyler Allen

  • Art by Morgan Belden

“Spring into Summer”

Poem by Heidi Shepherd

  • Art by Issac J Lutz

Injustice

“Hennesy”

Fiction by David Hurley

  • Art by David Hurley

“Sex Work is Work”

Non Fiction by Silver Fox

  • Art by Morgan Belden

“To Have and To Hold”

Poem by Taylor Woodworth

  • Art by Piper Hutchinson

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Black and Pearly White 

Taylor Woodworth


 

When they took my wisdom teeth

they extracted miles of fleshy,

dirt-covered roots.

Roots who latched onto my powers,

carried them to their stainless steel

grave.

The flowers that once paraded 

their vibrant reds and yellows, 

lay sleepy and wilting, 

waiting for the absent sun.

I can no longer see ghosts

and my voice sits dormant,

contemplating why everyone

has stopped listening. 

Each day I pull the shortest straw

and each day I’m disappointed.

Candy turns to cabernet.

Wildflowers turn to wallflowers,

and once again 

I’m homesick for the blissful 

unknowingness of intact wisdom 

teeth. I live in a different world now.

A world where the first day of school

is no longer life or death,

but a lonely, moonlit walk is. 

One where the tooth fairy 

leaves a different kind of bill

under my pillow,

and all my teeth are just teeth. 

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To Have and to Hold

Taylor Woodworth

 

A woman lives to serve a man with grace.

She soaks her hair in rain to keep him dry.

Her legs of satin mask in hidebound lace

and god forbid she lets him see her cry.

 

Society, it tells her what she’s worth,

a simple mannequin for cloaks to drape.

Not much except a capsule built for birth,

aside from man's expensive taste for shape.

 

She longs to sing the truth, though she refrains,

a ribbon from her corset knots her lips

bound by steel of title ball and chain,

her song is heard much better from her hips.

 

And so he holds behind his back, a knife

and tells that classic joke “I hate my wife.”

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