A Vote for Volunteering

It’s so easy to get caught up in our day-to-day work that we (understandably) aren’t following some of the important work that non-profit groups such as the Free Speech Coalition (FSC) are doing to advance and protect the adult industry.  It’s also easy to forget that before the FSC, and groups like it, our industry was much more vulnerable.  Some of you might remember when operators of adult toy shops were being arrested.  We have it good today, but things weren’t always this way.  

About a year ago, I was elected to the FSC board of directors.  Segpay had supported FSC for many years, but it wasn’t until I accepted the board seat that I realized just how much FSC actually does, from advocating for laws on our behalf to providing services that keep adult industry workers safe, and beyond.  And they’re not the only ones working tirelessly to move us forward in terms of ensuring worker safety and staving off regulatory overreach.  My experience has helped me learn so much about what has been done to get us where we are today, and what is continually being done to preserve what we have.  Perhaps most importantly, I’ve realized how much more there is to do.  My experience has helped me expand my perspective on the businesses and industry we serve.  I urge everyone to try and find some time to volunteer as well.  While helping your industry to grow and evolve, you’ll help yourself grow as well.  

Segpay has backed a number of nonprofits over the years that are more closely associated with our expertise, namely billing.  For example, we’ve supported MAC, Merchant Acquirers’ Committee, a small network of professionals working to mitigate risk.  FSC, on the other hand, was totally outside my comfort zone.  I thought of it as serving the content producers, the actors and models, and makers of adult physical goods.  It wasn’t obvious to me that a billing professional made sense for the board.  However, now that I’ve become a part of FSC, I’ve realized how important it is to see things from another perspective.  If you’re up for the challenge, I urge you to go outside your comfort zone as well, and get involved with an organization that advocates for the industry, especially if it’s not directly related to your day job.  You’ll expand your knowledge while helping to make a difference.   

As I start my second year on the FSC board I wanted to share some of the great advocacy work being done on our behalf that I didn’t know about, and perhaps you don’t either.  For example, FSC feels strongly about fighting back against government overreach to protect performer privacy.  You may remember 2257 regulations, a federal record-keeping law aimed at preventing the use of minors in adult productions.  It requires specific record keeping for adult content creators.  FSC has been helping prevent these laws from presenting an undue burden on the industry while still preserving the spirit of the laws to protect against exploitation. 

More recently, the FSC continues to challenge the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act and Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (SESTA/FOSTA), regulations that were designed to reduce sex trafficking online.  FSC believes it has caused the shutdown of public forums where people came together to share information that helped ensure sex worker safety.  These laws have made sex workers more vulnerable to traffickers and potentially made illicit activity more difficult to track.  FSC has joined the fight to clarify the laws and to see if they really make sense. 

Even more exciting, FSC has sponsored the INSPIRE program, which helps adult industry professionals learn how to manage their business, while providing health benefits and offers other support that they couldn’t otherwise access.  

The Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection (ASACP) is a nonprofit that does great work.  Essentially, they keep bad actors out of the space so we’re projecting something legitimate that is not harming children.  The Pineapple Support Group is a 24/7 resource offering mental health support for industry performers.  Pineapple was created in response to a rash of suicides in the adult industry in recent years. 

Our industry is small and one that’s been a target for unwarranted criticism and harassment. I’ve mentioned only some of the groups that have fought to get us where we are today.  I believe it’s important for all of us who work in this industry, either directly or as a provider, to understand where we’ve come from and what is being done to continually advance us, which is why I hope everyone reading this will try to learn more about these groups and volunteer some of your time.  Together we can help fight for important causes and to keep our industry strong and healthy.  For me, getting involved with a group I knew only a little about opened my eyes to how much they do and how groups like this are vital to our industry.  You too can make an impact.  You’ll learn so much about the industry, its people and the advocacy that supports all of us.  If you want to get involved a good start would be to check out freespeechcoalition.com, asacp.org, or pineapplesupport.com.

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