“Where are we going?
I don’t know.
When we will get there?
I ain’t certain.
All that I know is I am on my way.”
—Lyrics from the musical Paint Your Wagon
As I think about the future of the Consensual Transactional Sex Community, these lyrics really stand out to me. I get asked quite often about my thoughts on the future of CTS, the websites we use, the legal situation, and the general state of our little world. The honest answer is, I don’t know where we are going, but we are on our way!
This year has been a major upheaval for our community. There is no denying that. After many years of good stability, politics reared it’s uncaring head and tumbled us into confusion. In sort order, the proverbial rug was pulled out from under us. And here we are. But where are we going?
The truth is, nobody can really say. We are still here. We are still playing our sexy little game. But it feels as though many of the rules have changed. But we can’t be sure how they’ve changed.
Uncertainties are common, confidence is often low, and a clear path remains elusive. So what do we do?
We just keep going. Put one foot in front of the other and keep on doing what we do best. We may not know where we are going, but we need to be on our way if we are ever going to get there.
New websites and chat rooms are popping up all the time. Some good, some bad. Some may be here to stay, others won’t be around long. With many of these new sites, things look exciting at first and then it just sort of dies off. Much of what has appeared has been thrown together fairly quickly, often without a lot of thought of planning, and very little real development before launching. This very blog falls into that category. I just sort of started writing, without any real idea or plan. I’ve been lucky so far and this blog has grown. Now I’m finally building a real plan for the future. It is still hard to say that this website will eventually become, but we’re on our way!
This is true for many websites. I doubt the people behind Switter thought their site would end up with over 100 thousand users in such a short time. The same goes for other sites that have grown. And yet, I’m sure there are others who are very disappointed that their new websites have not grown and prospered.
So what does the future look like? What do we really need? Obviously, no one can predict the future, but I do have a few guesses and some ideas about what we need.
Currently, the awful FOSTA law is being challenged in court. And some of it will likely be struck down, and possibly all of it. But that does not mean it won’t be back in a different form that the courts might allow. That insane law had far too much bipartisan support to go away quietly. So it will be a fight that might likely go on for years.
Legalization or decriminalization are unlikely to occur in most places, though there is always a chance. Neither of those will ever come about anywhere unless our community finds a way to aid in taking down human trafficking and distancing ourselves from that disgusting crime. And even then, it won’t be easy to convince law makers or voters to change the laws to leave us alone.
There are not many businesses that can succeed without advertising. We need it, in some form or another. Websites hosted outside of the United States are trying to fill that need, but it remains to be seen how the current laws will affect such sites. Without advertising of some kind, very few sex workers will be able to grow or even maintain their business.
We need to be able to network with one another. Sex workers need it for screening. And they need to get better at it. Providers need to work together to help each other screen clients. But also to refer clients to one another. If the sex workers can develop good networking skills they will be able to help one another get the right clients and avoid the bad ones. Collaboration is better than competition.
We need to become one community. We may have our sub-groups that center around specific attractions, fetishes, or fantasies, but we all need to be one community. We need places to communicate, to share, to learn, and to grow together. We need to see ourselves as one group and have some level of real unity.
We need to be safe. We need to have some level of security that protects us.
So, what do we need?
I think we need to have more than one site to call home. We need places to advertise, places to discuss issues, places to communicate securely, and places to grow in community. Dedicated websites for advertising, screening, discussion, and networking are a must for us all. But they should be different sites. We should never put all our eggs in one basket again.
Social media that is just for us, such as Switter, is a good thing. Broader social media like Twitter and Instagram are also good, though often limiting in content. Advertising websites are a must, though providers and clients must be careful to use such sites wisely. Websites for discussion and learning our essential. Blogs, forums, and the like need to be a regular part of our lives.
And I think we need private sites as well. Small “clubs” where clients or sex workers can screen and discus matters that are important to each other. I know of several such “clubs” that have popped up since the old sites went down. These are valuable tools for networking, screening, community building, and security. Bigger is not always better. Small groups could be a major factor going forward, especially if the government really does try to crack down on us.
So those are some thoughts I have. Where are we going? I don’t know. But I do know we are going somewhere. I just hope it’s a fun journey and an even funnier destination.