For Tonya Jone Miller, a phone sex operator who runs the Bay City Blues phone site, that cost is the 20% she pays to her third-party payment processor. She had trouble keeping an adult services merchant account because of the language on her site. Ironically, the problem wasn’t with what her site said her operators would talk about during calls. When her site was reviewed, she received a strongly worded letter from the bank telling her to remove language referring to what operators wouldn’t talk about. “The only thing that we had to completely remove from the site were the girls’ limits. I wasn’t allowed to put that on the page, because most limits are going to be the most taboo things, rape or snuff or scat, you know?” Miller said. She could also lose her account for seemingly innocuous asides on her personal blog. “I couldn’t say ‘I am exhausted. Now I’m going to crawl into bed and go to sleep,’” she said, “because [since] a sleeping person can’t consent, I’m talking about rape.”
Miller frames it partly as a matter of free speech, insofar as being told what words she can and can’t use hampers her ability to make a living. If spending money is free speech, like the Supreme court said it is, surely the ability to make it saying what you like is, too? “I don’t have a business if I can’t take credit cards. And if you tell me I can’t take credit cards, you are telling me that I can’t say these things. You tie my hands. What am I supposed to do, you know?”
My favorite part of this piece was Leah talking about how it was safer to have escorting clients FedEx her $5K in cash than send her a wire transfer. Even when your brand of sex work is 100% legal, you’re prevented from using some of the tools other small businesses can. It’s like having to run your business using a check cashing place instead of a bank.