The panicked buzz about my social media feeds has centered around the question, “Is FetLife getting shut down?” This was asked with the fevered terror of a doomsday prophet. Rather than trying to step in and attempt to be the voice of reason to each and every one, I decided to do some research on the matter and attempt to be the voice of reason. The fear-fuelled frenzy was ignited by a bill passed through congress called Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) which was once known as Stop Enabling Sex Trafficking Act, a bill that would amend section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, that provides tech companies immunity from liability when it comes to publishing third party content. It claims that section 230 was never intended to protect websites that facilitate the advertising of prostitution. This caused Craigslist to shut down their personals section, thus prompting geeked-out kinksters to fret over what must be their only sexual outlet. There are many issues this act brings up, but I am going to keep the focus on the question, how will this effect FetLife? I personally am opposed to big government and do not want the government in my business in regards to anything I do, be it my sex life, religious beliefs or personal interests. I don’t care what any public official does with another consenting adult, and in turn I expect the same courtesy. Now back to the issue at hand: the main target of the bill was originally the website Backpage, as it was being used to traffic and sexually exploit minors. This bill triggered Craigslist to pull its personals section, Reddit to remove boards involving sex work and the furry site Pounced to shut down.
Pounced needs a closer look, at it holds the most common ground with FetLife. Pounced has 87,000 users, where FetLife has around 3.5 million. Perhaps 87,000 of those are even furries, since there is a crossover. Furries are a kink, though there are some that have attached no sexual elements to donning their mascot costumes and just enjoy being an animal. While the furries pounded their paws on their respected keyboards over the past week, one managed to be the voice of reason. A badger who is also a lawyer wrote an intensive piece explaining to the rest of the animal kingdom the whats and whys of what went down on his human site, Lawyers & Liquor. Here he stated the obvious – that it is highly unlikely that Congress set out to target furries, who are such a niche fetish they are not even on the radar. However, since the site is run by volunteers who could not afford to be hit with a lawsuit, the site shut down, though it’s slated to be up and running soon. FetLife does have over three times the traffic. It is a more visible target. Professional BDSM workers like yours truly do use it to solicit services. I limit this on Fetlife to, “having worked as professional Dom in Berlin and Oslo, will consult submissives in regard to considering them for future training.” I consider myself more of a therapist than a sex worker. I don’t have sex with the submissives I interact with in this regard. I also started this in 1995, five years after the birth of the internet, and didn’t take this into the cyber realm until Livejournal in 2000. So in the less than likely chance FetLife shuts down – or more likely puts an end to even sentences like that on my profile – I’ll survive, since I can remember life without the internet and developed the skills needed at the time to interact with people face to face. It’s a vulgar concept, but it happened. In the panic, one side is quick to declare this will put a large number of sex workers out of an income or back on the streets. In most sectors of business, you must manage the ever-changing landscape of how you reach your customer base, or in layman’s terms: “you might need to step up your hustle.”
While I don’t want the prying eyes of the powers that be in my business, I understand what’s become reality of the world today. America has a great deal of hang ups when it comes to sex. The fact that one of the political parties takes money from a large active base of militant Christians doesn’t help things. It’s puzzling that a bill that could shut down the search for a sugar daddy might make it across the desk of a man who is the sugar daddy to his own wife and couldn’t get laid by porn stars or otherwise if you took his bank account out of the equation. I suspect this has nothing to do with a moral witch hunt, and everything to do with money. In fact it would be an old pimp move. It would basically say, “if you hoes think you are going to be pulling tricks on my street without me getting a cut, then I am shutting your ass down.” Bringing up the fact that sex work and sex trafficking have one thing that separates them, and that is consent.
If money is the issue, you might think Tinder with it’s 50 million users would be a larger target. As guy who has used it, I would put the odds at at least 4 of every 10 profiles is a robot trying to sell you porn or services. Money talks, and Tinder was worth 1.35 billion dollars in 2015. So they are able to handle a lawsuit or two. So it would behoove FetLife to play it safe before coming under scrutiny. While the mainstream interest in kink has abated some now that the fad of 50 Shades has come and gone, it’s really going to depend on how hungry the wolves of Washington are. I think Pirate Bay has proven that if you want something enough, you can’t be stopped, so FetLife is going get a gut check and see if they have the balls, or a ball gag. It will be 2019 before anything is really felt aside from the Chicken Little effect of tech-websites declaring the internet is falling. The thing about fear is, the reality of the future event that caused the fear is never as bad as what you catastrobate it up to be in your head. If taken to extremes, it might lead to over the top filtering and even cracking down on my deviant ass writing little ditties on kink. At the end of the day, my personal proclivities shall persist, and I don’t foresee the Vancouver-based FetLife making any huge moves – so happy spankings.