Tell MSNBC To Cancel Show Exploiting Sex Workers!

  • by: Maxine Doogan, The Erotic Service Providers Union
  • target: Phil Griffin, (President, MSNBC), Michael Rubin (Vice President, Longform Programming and Production, oversees all MSNBC documentaries), Tim Smith (Senior Producer, MSNBC Documentaries), Grace Kahng (producer, Santoki Productions)
Since 2013, MSNBC has aired a show, Sex Slaves In America, which claims to be a documentary series but actually exploits those who work in the sex trade.

Please sign the petition to ask MSNBC to stop airing the show Sex Slaves in America, which unfairly portrays and harms sex workers and sex trafficked victims alike!

Sex Slaves In America misleads the public by conflating those who voluntarily choose to perform sex work with those who are victims of human trafficking. Human trafficking and sex work are not the same thing. Human trafficking involves coercion, fraud, or force; sex work is a profession voluntarily chosen.

The reasons someone may choose sex work are complicated and nuanced. Some people simply enjoy the flexibility the job provides; others choose the trade due to poverty, lack of economic opportunity, or other reasons. But MSNBC paints the whole sex trade in a sensational way. This type of fear-mongering in the public sphere ignores the realities that most people in the sex industry don’t have access to equal protection under the law: especially while being filmed for entertainment purposes while caught in a police prostitution sting operation.

MSNBC may be violating the privacy of the individuals it films, too. It is currently unclear whether or not the women shown in previews have consented to be filmed. In the previews, women are filmed crying and panicked as their jobsites are being raided by police and then they are arrested for prostitution. It is unclear whether they're being arrested for being trafficked or for voluntarily engaging in sex work.

The show appears to peddle the criminalization of women who are sensationalized as victims under the guise of rescuing them. Criminalization of the sex trade simply encourages violence, abuse, discrimination in housing, employment, education, child custody and access to financial instruments. Showing these types of possibly unconstitutional raids and arrests positions MSNBC to become a party to profiting off the criminalization of its reality show stars.

We urge MSNBC to stop broadcasting this discriminatory series and stop producing false and misleading information about our industry.

The Erotic Service Providers Union (ESPU) is by and for those who labor erotically to gain agency through industry organizing for our occupational, social, and economic rights.
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