Excising them, he says, was more of a business decision than a moral one. In addition, NOW works with sex worker organizations and provides weekly tips in the magazine to ensure safer services. And the less secretive publishers are about this relationship, the better they seem to do: A common refrain of anti-prostitution activism is that sex work is now almost entirely online, a claim than employs the technophobic narrative of decline to make the sex industry seem more dangerous than ever one commenter called Internet-based sex work a postmodern form of abuse.
There is no question that online advertising has transformed the sex industry, but in fact, ads for sexual services are far from endangered, and appear in print publications as diverse as the Toronto Sun and the New York Review of Books which runs them alongside personals ads.
The ad situation at these major publications is highly regulated but little-discussed. Euphemism is the rule: Emily Rushton, an escort in her 30s who tours both cities and smaller towns around Ontario, explains that region is a factor, too.
They can peruse the paper over coffee, and no one knows. Fiona White, who co-runs Toronto agency Payper Princess Escorts with her husband, Bobby, explains that even pre-legislation, online ad sites were especially vulnerable to government shutdowns in recent years, both myRedbook.
Some agencies and escorts see print advertising as more reliable than online media—less likely to be suddenly shut down, or hacked, or exploited by scammers—and are willing to pay extra for the peace of mind.
Print also has a certain cache that might appeal to both sex workers and clients. Clients who are wary of online transactions are liable to see escorts with print ads as less likely to cheat or scam them. They include older guys who are used to paper ads and like to have a phone conversation. Inevitably, more publications will follow, though rumour has it that NOW is planning to hold strong. For an industry struggling to retain revenue, the revenue loss will be significant; there will be layoffs, if not total paper shutdowns.
While online media will be affected, the legislation will be difficult to apply to the digital world. Sex work supports economies beyond publishing. C will do a lot of harm—mostly to sex workers, to be crystal clear—but it might also clarify how central sex work is to our economy and culture.
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