5 sex workers on OnlyFans policy seesaw

On August 19, several news outlets reported that OnlyFans, an online platform built on the backs of sex workers, prohibit sexually explicit content from October. The UK-based company said that policy change was a response to “demands from our banking partners and payment providers,” but it’s clear the move was also part of a long-term campaign against porn and sex work led by far-right Christian groups. Days later, after facing backlash from sex workers and advocates, OnlyFans overturned the decision, declaring on Twitter that the company has “obtained the assurances necessary to support our diverse community of creators.” But will these “assurances” remain?

This is not the first time that an online platform has attempted to wrest resources from sex workers, and laws targeting sex workers have seriously compromised their security and income. Here are five sex workers on what the recent OnlyFans controversy means for the future of erotic work.


Working online in recent years has left sex workers at the mercy of increasingly sexually conservative legislation and regulations. The constraints of our work have made us heavily dependent on businesses run by wealthy non-sex workers with no investment in us beyond profiting and controlling our market and our workforce, making the industry an oligopoly. .

It’s no coincidence that OnlyFans hit a valuation of around $ 1 billion and announced a new round of venture capital funding just two days before banning explicit content, turning them in a more direction. traditional and attractive to investors with a combination of great numbers and low risk. The site has been strategically encouraging new celebrity and influencer creators for some time as well. Prostitutes continually fly new platforms and then get fired based on profitability. Only fans could spend a fraction of their income lobbying to stop anti-sex work legislation, but the point is, we’re disposable for them.

I’m encouraged by the bad press this ad got, which caused OnlyFans to reverse their decision. This has reinforced my belief that the trend of public opinion is shifting in our favor, which I hope means full decriminalization and other changes are not out of reach.


The challenges of digital sex work have emerged. OnlyFans’ decision to change its terms of service and ban pornography, to reverse that decision and “suspend” the ban on pornographic material, is astonishing. On the one hand, fundamentalist organizations pressuring payment processors, then Pornhub and OnlyFans, to self-censor ‘sex trafficking’ content or lose access to payments, show how far conservative organizations are. ready to go. On the flip side, the outcry from sex workers over the change, even those who weren’t using OnlyFans but knew what the move meant, apparently upended OnlyFans’ plan to become a fake-Patreon. But such decisions, even the threat of OnlyFans’ decision, will endanger the lives and livelihoods of millions of people who depended on this source of income.

Along with the current threat of changing payment terms or policy, there is the underlying knowledge that criminalizing or stigmatizing any work endangers those who perform it. Nicole flanagan, an escort in New York City, was recently killed by alleged clients. And for blacks, trans people, obese people, and people with disabilities – as well as anyone whose bodies are at these intersections – prostitute violence is often applied unevenly. We must fight to decriminalize sex work now or risk seeing more members of our sex worker community injured.


Jade, a person with short, curly blue hair and shaved to the sides, wears black eyeliner, black lipstick and a septum piercing.  They have a text tattoo on the chest.
I joined OnlyFans two weeks after the (first) lockdown. I finally had the time, I needed the money and I already loved taking pictures of my ass. I am proudly non-binary and queer. It’s already hard enough to feel valued in the industry and the only platforms that allow creators to promote our work are also constantly coming up with new ways to censor us. When I found out that OnlyFans was planning to join this “party” I felt rejected and defeated. My content implies that I’ve been gloriously naked lately (no makeup, natural light, messy curls… and room). I don’t agree with supporting a platform that has set out to wipe out those behind its success, and the rules around nudity and explicit content are notoriously fat, transphobic, racist, and capable. A lot of people think this job is easy, and there is some truth to it when you compare it to full-service sex work – however, no sex work is easy when you are constantly reminded that people in power look up to you. as exponentially lower and then use that power to take the VTRE away from you.


Jay Sea

Jay, a shirtless person with short black hair and a beard in his face, turns his head over his shoulder.  Their face is obscured by a blue circle that includes the words, "Misinformation is the deadline - vaccines save lives" and the image of a shot and a check mark.
I am a Bay Area sex worker / student currently living in Mexico City. I study journalism, and when news broke that OnlyFans was dropping sexual content, that familiar feeling of shocked but no surprise returned. Time and time again, this story has toured gallery after gallery to sex workers. Our attempt to use and create safe and efficient workplaces for us is constantly neutralized by the government, ie. FCC / FESTA or Visa ™ in this case. From what my colleagues tell me, OnlyFans has shown where its loyalty lies and it’s not with the content creators that made them successful. In my opinion, the latest stir in this part of the sex work world is the most recent example of how we need sex work unionization, and I can’t wait to see what that will look like in. coming years. The announcement that OnlyFans would ditch the sex creators and then reverse their decision after a backlash generated a lot of chaos in my colleague and friend circles, but it also reminded me that OnlyFans models aren’t everything. a range of sex workers. While many sex workers have been affected by the news, many more sex workers continue to work offline.


A black and white image shows Jiz Lee, a shirtless person with short hair, crossing his arms and turning over his shoulder.

photo by Allan Amato

The first news seemed inevitable. From all my years in the industry, I can only remember examples where adult designers brought popularity to a platform only to finally get the boot. What was unexpected in OnlyFans’ case was the sheer volume of the backlash, with specific media coverage focused on sex workers – followed by a quick pivot and apologies in return. I can’t think of another time when such a decision was overturned like this. It’s a welcome change in tide, although we’ll need many more before any significant changes can take hold. I would like to live to see decriminalized sex work and banking discrimination end. Public perception of sex work must continue to evolve to enable political and legal advancements for the safety and improvement of all those engaged in the sex trade, especially the most marginalized among us.

Having the ability to create and retain ownership of our images through platforms like OnlyFans has provided performers with financial stability on a level that just didn’t exist when I first stepped on the scene. Besides safety, especially during a pandemic, there’s also less need to accept studio gigs that fetishize and distort our gender, sexuality, race, and desires. Most artists don’t need to shoot for a studio, unless they want to, of course!

Artists make money, but they also explore their gender expression, sexuality and desires through exhibitionism, defining who they are, defining the boundaries with which they engage with fans. I have seen artists come across as trans or non-binary, or even as sex workers, as their ability to go out is made more possible when they have the network and the financial security to feel safe enough to do so. to do. It’s a beautiful moment and it’s powerful to experience.

OnlyFans may remain a viable option. It can also rotate again. Creators should always be prepared with their own website and mailing lists, ready in case we lose another platform. I’ve been around long enough to see a lot of sites come and go, but sexuality and artistic expressions will always find an audience. The question is, how are we going to continue to protect the rights of the people who dare to create it?



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