The Soapbox: Porn Stars Learn They Can’t Bank On Chase

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I’ve written before about issues around payment processors and the sex industry, how businesses like Paypal, WePay and Google Wallet were shutting anyone they suspected of sex work out of using their services.

Well, turns out that a trickle down effect is happening within the banking world, as Chase recently sent letters out to hundreds of porn performers telling them their bank accounts would be shut down May 11th. Perez Hilton posted a photo of one of these letters from adult performer Teagan Presley, and while I am somewhat loath to link to his blog, I think it’s important to read the language. You’ll notice that Chase never specifically cites adult work in their decision, just that they “reviewed the account and determined that we will be closing it on May 11, 2014. Please accept our apologies for the inconvenience.”

I’m sure they’re terribly sorry. Just as they were really apologetic for refusing to process payments for Lovability CEO Tiffany Gaines. Her crime? Selling condoms, because they’re “adult-oriented material”. The same adult oriented material, of course, as Trojan, who could process their payments with no issues through Chase, but never mind. As long as they’re really sorry about it.

Tiffany writes in her piece for XOJane:

“My Chase representative responded with empathy, explaining that she understood the irrationality of the rejection. Though she was “fully supportive of my company’s mission,” Chase Bank considered my company’s product a reputational risk…

…Days later, in response to the bad press, the CMO of Chase Paymentech called me to apologize for the “misunderstanding.” She agreed to process my company’s payments but would not agree to officially remove condoms from the “prohibited adult” category. I felt as if she was attempting to pacify me but was not taking the issue-at-large seriously.

The majority of comments on our petition have pointed out that Chase’s ability to pass judgment calls on what we can buy and sell is a breach of everyone’s rights, and it’s an especially sensitive issue when they violate our access to sexual health products.”

Of course, it’s not just Chase. Performer Chanel Preston found her account through City National Bank was shut down suddenly one day, the bank citing only “compliance issues.” The founder of soft porn studio MRG Entertainment, Marc Greenberg, filed a lawsuit against J.P. Morgan after they refused to let him refinance a loan because of his job. “JPMorgan purports to be so ashamed of nudity and human sexuality that it cannot process a refinance of a home loan of plaintiff, secured by plaintiff’s house, because plaintiff’s source of income six years ago included production of television programs that contained nudity and human sexuality,” the suit reads, and is as of now unresolved. Teagan Presley tried to open an account with Bank of America, only to be turned down there as well. In all these cases, it didn’t matter that the checks didn’t bounce, or that they money paid out was for things unrelated to the adult industry — home loans, childcare, groceries, rent. It only mattered that the money was considered “immoral”… even if legally earned.

This speaks to a concerning trend where banks are empowered to grant access to funds, to credit, to loans, based on their political values. As financial institutions are the realm of the privileged and the conservative, this doesn’t bode well for sex workers past and current, for immigrants, for people of color, or for trans people. I mean, I’ve long decided that I should just keep my money in a lockbox under my bed for just this reason … because it’s safer there than it is in the bank, or in a Paypal account. But having a bank account in which to deposit checks is often pretty important when working, or trying to save for college, or a car, or a home. A debit card is necessary for participating in online commerce, which can save much-needed money. Not having a bank account is often not an option for people. Yet apparently if you’ve worked in porn, you may need to learn how to go without.

Perez Hilton actually said something that makes sense:

“Just because you don’t agree with a career choice, doesn’t mean the workers don’t have the same rights as everyone else. After all, their careers are completely LEGAL! Plus, let’s all be honest…whoever decided to cancel the accounts probably totally WATCHES porn!”

As we learn time and time again, it’s one thing to perform in porn, it’s another thing to consume it, legal or not. With each financial institution and payment method slamming their doors on sex workers, Bitcoin looks better and better. If our money is no good, I think we should take it with us into credit unions, turn it into Bitcoin or, even better, land. Then let’s see what happens, shall we? With AVN adding around 125 new porn performers into their database every month, I imagine at some point our money will start to add up. Occupy Wall Street may have, pardon the pun, a “second coming” after all.

[xBiz]
[Perez Hilton]
[xoJane]
[Huffington Post]
[CNBC]
[Court House News]

Read more from KittyStryker.com. Follow me on Twitter.

[Image of a woman at an ATM via Shutterstock]

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