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What we learned from Stoya's personal essay about sex workers

I swallowed a lot of Xanax and washed it down with unsettling large amounts of alcohol.

It’s been over a month since Stoya took to Twitter to accuse her ex boyfriend and porn star James Deen of rape.

Recently, she wrote a blog post about her situation and this is what we learnt.

  1. The law can be a fucking joke when it comes to rape

If you read this story, about how a guy – and a jury – think it’s entirely possible to fall and land in a way that a man’s penis winds up inside your vagina and call it an accident, rather than what it is (RAPE) you’ll be fully aware that the law and justice aren’t synonymous.

But up until Stoya’s essay we had no idea that New York City police could claim women were prostitutes simply because they carried condoms or that Stoya didn't feel she could file a rape report with the police because “The U.S. court system rarely metes out anything that looks like justice when sex workers are involved."

RELATED: Porn star James Deen denies all assault and rape claims in new in-depth interview

  1. Even if you’re in a relationship, you can be raped

By coming forward with her allegations against Deen, Stoya has opened up a whole dialogue about what constitutes rape and that it’s rarely in an alleyway by a stranger.

"Posts appeared on Twitter and Tumblr; they were variations on the theme of "James and Stoya #relationshipgoals." I began to relize that more than being a private bond, my relationship with James was a public performance, and in time, I grew uneasy."

If you’re in a relationship you can be raped by your partner.

If you’re a porn star, you can be raped, no matter how many times you’ve had sex before.

“I lived with the knowledge that James had violated my consent for a long time before coming forward. I felt as if I had no recourse. I didn’t know what to do. So I kept working with him and we kept dating.”

There’s no grey about it: sex is consensual. If it’s not, it’s rape.

  1. If you've been raped, t’s normal to feel guilty

Most rapes go unreported for many reasons - shame, denial, fear of not being believed or, worse, fear of saying something and having no one care.

For Stoya, she stayed silent because of guilt, and turned to Xanax, washed down "with unsettlingly large amounts of alcohol" until she could take it no longer.

“I wrestled with guilt. I felt complicit in any future harm [Deen] might inflict because I’d spoken so highly of him but I’d neglected to complete the public record. It ate away at me.”

  1. People DO care

We’re used to really shitty media backlash after rape victims come forward but the way the internet has rallied around Stoya has given us hope things might be changing. Finally.

Within hours of her tweets, #SolidarityWithStoya began trending, blog The Frisky announced they were cutting Deen’s sex advice column, Kink.com and Evil Angel – both big time porn companies – announced they would stop working with Deen.

“Instead of being silenced, instead of being not heard, something very different occurred. When I finally spoke in those two tweets on the 28th of November, people listened. Other women began to come forward, and a lot of people in pornography showed their support. Significant companies responded, and they did so swiftly. I’m grateful for the solidarity of the people who believe in me and the other women who have spoken out, and I’m proud of the industry I work in.”

  1. It’s easier to help sex workers than you think

The more we talk about rape, the more opportunities we have to change rape culture... if we listen.

“One thing that everyone can do is listen to sex workers. Today is December 17th, the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers – all sex workers. Not just pornographers. Not just white cis-women. And not just women who are fortunate enough to get column space in respectable papers. I’ll be doing a lot of listening to others under the red umbrella of sex work. I belive their safety is important and that it can be improved. I believe that no one is safe and no one is protected unless we’re all safe and protected, sex worker or not.”

Read the full essay here.

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