Raise your hand if you’ve considered starting an OnlyFans account during the pandemic *raises hand*. Hello, and welcome to my TED Talk. From the Bella Thorne scandal (read: privileged celeb scam that appropriated and harmed real sex workers who actually make their living through the platform) to paramedic Lauren Kwei who was outed by the New York Post, online sex work has been a major topic of conversation over the last year or so. Although sex work has always been possible, platforms like OF have definitely made it more accessible to SWers and non-SWers alike during the COVID-19 pandemic.
You probably already know how OnlyFans can help pay the bills, because uh… it’s literally a job, but there are so many other reasons that folks might join. I interviewed five adult content creators to discuss how using a site like OF has helped them during the pandemic.
Oh, and before you drop your toxic thoughts in the comments section: Sex work is real work, and sex workers deserve the same rights and access to protection that all other working humans have. But we live in a world of judgy, power-hungry assholes who crave control over others and are full of hate and sexual shame, so here we are! I digress. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is if you’re a troll, GTFO.
Charyn Pfeuffer is an industry icon and absolute badass human who has written about sex, dating, and relationships for more than two decades (!!!). Then when the pandemic struck, she began calling, chatting, sexting, and swapping photos and videos with clients as a paid companion and confidante. But her work doesn’t stop there.
“One of the more satisfying surprises of doing online sex work during the pandemic has been working with Trump supporters seeking domination and humiliation,” says Pfeuffer. “As a super liberal human, I’ve been more than happy to craft degrading scenarios, then reallocate a portion of the money earned to ACLU, Planned Parenthood, BLM organizations, and during the election, Democrat candidates in swing states. It’s been a therapeutic outlet in which to channel my rage for Trump and the GOP.”
Folks, this is what a modern day hero looks like. (She notes that she can’t take credit for the idea, as a friend of hers pegs old white men and gives the money to BLM causes, but STILL. As she calls it, this “gives a whole new meaning to F*ck The Patriarchy.”)
Her activism doesn’t stop there, though. Pfeuffer also used her platform to encourage people to vote during the 2020 presidential election. “If people sent me a photo of their postmarked ballot, I sent them a free photo of my tits,” she says. “I got hundreds of responses from men, and to my delight, couples. Between this and making donations, online sex work made it possible to do some political good.” Charyn, on behalf of the entire United States of America, we thank you for your service.
Starting A Business
Before COVID hit, Rylee Rabbit was constantly on the go, modeling or hosting events in a different city every week. Then things changed. “When cities were shutting down and travel options closed, like many others, the outlook for my income looked doomed,” Rabbit recalls. But since people were bored at home with nothing to do, OF traffic increased and content creators cashed in. Literally.
“For a lot of models on OnlyFans, it really became a money maker and took a turn for the best,” Rylee recalls. Thanks to staying home more often and making her own schedule, she ended up hiring people to manage tasks she was handling on her own, formed an LLC, set up payroll, and is currently debt-free (!) with plans to buy a house in a few months (!!). Boss moves.
“It seemed like having a financial program and plan for retirement would never happen before OnlyFans came along,” she says. “Now, in one of the biggest economic downturns of our time, my income is surpassing people I looked up to on a financial level. OnlyFans has expanded my brand on another level and made it easy for me to finally say that I’m successful.”
A Creative Outlet
Laurin, aka Another Bi Gemini, started an OnlyFans account in May 2020. “I wanted to create one because I wanted to express my sexuality in a new way that felt empowering and liberating,” she says. “I was going through a divorce in the middle of a global pandemic just wanted an expressive outlet that was fully mine to create.”
She recalls she was super hesitant at first because she was newly divorced, is queer, a mental health therapist, and a mom. And because of the f*cked up stigma toward sex workers that’s polluted the air we breathe, she was also worried about what people would think of her. Ultimately though, she said “f*ck it” and put herself first, and it was 100% worth it. “Now I’m enjoying making the content so much that it doesn’t matter,” she says. “I’m going to keep making content because it’s become a creative outlet and a form of self-love.”
ThatBadTeacher is an elementary school teacher working from home by day and an OnlyFans content creator by night. “A few years ago, I discovered the BDSM/kink lifestyle and it completely changed my world,” she says. “Since then, I’ve been working on sharing everything I’ve learned about it outside of my school hours.” Instagram had been her platform of choice but the new trash (read: harmful) terms of service as of December 2020 make it so much harder for sex educators and content creators, like her, to publish content or do their jobs virtually without facing shadowbans or actual bans. So she made the switch over to OF and has been having the time of her life ever since. “Not only am I able to freely express this huge part of myself, I’m able to create a community of supportive like minded individuals and be an outlet for them as well,” she says. “So far, my experiences with users have been nothing but respectful, supportive, and kind. I’ve even received a few tips and extra financial support through there, which is honestly just touching considering how everyone’s jobs seem to hang in the balance, including mine.”
Talia* created an OnlyFans account after she was laid off in March. She never publicly posted about her account and has since stopped creating content, but she privately sent her link to folks who fetishized her weight on Tinder. “It’s an amazing outlet and I did really enjoy it,” she says. “You fully control the content you post regularly and charge for what you feel necessary. It also inspires a lot of confidence knowing that people are willing to pay for photos of someone like me, who has, in my opinion, never been a typical ‘pretty girl.’ It was fun!”
From finding self-love to supporting important movements like BLM, sites like OnlyFans can offer way more value to its users aside from making money and paying the bills. Seems like the only potential con to using these platforms is dealing with the stigma toward it. I’m hoping the stories of these badass content creators can help to remove some of it and showcase that they deserve respect and praise for the hard work they put in to bring us pleasure during this sh*t show of a year (and always). Oh, and one more time for good measure – raise your hand (or drop a comment) if you’re still debating starting an OF account. *raises both hands*
*Name changed to preserve anonymity.
If you’ve been on the internet over the past couple weeks, you may have noticed that Bella Thorne took it upon herself to make an OnlyFans. If you’re a sex worker, like me, you probably had some questions, like, “who the f*ck is Bella Thorne?” followed up by, “why can’t celebrities stop appropriating sex worker culture when it’s convenient and beneficial for them, while simultaneously distancing themselves from it when they need to save face or appear above it all?!” Then you may or may not have downed a bottle of wine while rage posting about it on Twitter.
But, if you’re not a sex worker, you may have some additional questions. Maybe you don’t even know what OnlyFans is, and/or you don’t really get why people who use it would be upset when a celebrity joins.
Well, if you’re reading this article, you’re already going a step further than Bella Thorne by first hearing from a sex worker what their feelings on it are. Cheers.
I have…a lot of issues with what Bella Thorne did, and even how she attempted to apologize for it. Allow me to break it down.
Let’s Start With What Happened
Okay, so, Bella Thorne is an actress who got her start on Disney Channel and starred in Alvin and the Chipmunks. I fully thought she and Bella Hadid were the same person and that is my bad.
Bella “Not Hadid” Thorne recently made an OnlyFans, which is a subscription based website many sex workers use to sell adult content that is not allowed on other platforms.
She broke a record and made $1 million on her first day.
Thorne Made A Point To Say She Wouldn’t Do Nudity, As If She’s Above It All
After her immediate success on the site, Thorne tweeted this:
Also nooooo I’m not doing nudity!!! ❤️ https://t.co/vJECHqF4uW
— BITCHIMBELLATHORNE (@bellathorne) August 26, 2020
It’s pretty annoying for a rich celebrity with millions of followers to be reposting a brag about how much money she’s easily making on a website that sex workers have built to survive, especially right now during a pandemic when many sex workers are struggling to make a living as they can’t do business as usual and often don’t qualify for unemployment. But then to try to distance yourself from what most sex workers do (nudity) at the same time? Babe, that’s problematic.
It seems to me like she wants to the shock value, the street cred, and the “glamour” of being a sex worker, while still making sure to let everyone know that she’s ~not like the other girls~.
It’s like when non-strippers wear pleasers (stripper heels) or take pole classes but are like, “Don’t worry, this is just for fun! I’m not a stripper, ew.” It’s condescending and insulting to those who have faced stigma, shame, violence, and silencing from society for the work that we do.
Everyone has their own boundaries, and if not getting naked online is one of them, that is fine. But sex workers have been ostracized for so long, so showing up to a space they created and immediately being like “look at me, I made more money than anyone, and I didn’t even have to get naked!” is so tone deaf. Why are celebs so obsessed with not being able to read a room?
Sex workers made OnlyFans what it is today so they could have a way to make money creating their own content, instead of having to work through other platforms or companies that often exploit them. Bella Thorne doesn’t need OnlyFans to make money and get her content to reach a wide audience. She’s taking up space to make a splash.
Thorne Claimed She Was Doing Research For A Movie
She then went on to claim that this whole lil’ experiment of hers (again, her “experiment” is how many sex workers are keeping the lights on) was part of her research for a movie she’d be making about OnlyFans.
Me + ONLY FANS + SEAN BAKER= A BOMB ASS MOVIE 😍😍😍 https://t.co/Bbq60X5SxE pic.twitter.com/MM4dw0SWjw
— BITCHIMBELLATHORNE (@bellathorne) August 19, 2020
Girl. If you wanted good research that would lead to authentic material, you could have just paid sex workers to help you make this movie. Again, there is a pandemic happening that is putting many sex workers out of work, and they could really use extra gigs right now. But apparently she thought it’d be cooler and would create more buzz if she shocked the internet with making an OnlyFans and then based a movie of off her experience of making millions easily her first week. Super interesting movie plot you’ve got there.
It’s also worth noting that Sean Beaker denied any involvement with this project and even said he advised Thorne to consult with sex workers first.
— sean baker (@Lilfilm) August 28, 2020
Sex Workers Get Called Scammers All The Time. Now Bella Thorne. Has Fueled This Stereotype
After Thorne made her OnlyFans page and made headlines, sex workers were already voicing concern online that this would ultimately lead to harm to the community, as well as negative changes to the site. Because here’s the thing about sex workers: they are resilient, intelligent people who have survived so much, and are able to see what is best and what is worst for them.
Sh*t hit the fan when Thorne apparently sent out a pay-per-view message (a feature on the site that allows you to charge subscribers to open a message) for $200 that implied it contained photos of her naked. However, it turned out that it did not, in fact, have nude photos of her. So people were pissed, and asked for their money back.
Then, OnlyFans users suddenly realized that pay-per-view feature now only allowed them to charge a maximum of $50, and tipping options were capped at $100.
anyways yeah, fuck you, bella thorne. pic.twitter.com/dKjxUMUWR0
— Kira Noir Inc. (@thekiranoir) August 28, 2020
OnlyFans claims that these updates to the site are not based on one person, and just coincidentally came about at the same time as a celebrity with a huge following was scamming her customers.
People love to stereotype sex workers, and one of the classic assumptions is that we are all scammers. Cause, you know, unlike truly every worker that exists, we are “just after your money.” It’s a harmful misconception that has led to drunk men twice my size rage-screaming at me about how I’m “lying” about how many songs went by during a lap dance, when really they were just too busy staring at my tits to count the songs I was diligently paying attention to.
Also, there’s a difference between hustling and doing what you need to survive, and scamming people out of $200 as part of your experiment to see what it’s like to be an online sex worker. Maybe don’t fuel the fire of negative misconceptions about us while you’re trying to co-opt a site made to help us survive. Just a thought!
People can make different kinds of content as sex workers. I make a lot less explicit content than some of my friends just bc I have my own comfort level I stick to. I don’t care if people make OnlyFans and post lingerie pics only. But you don’t scam & you don’t feel superior.
— Erika Heidewald 👍 if u think QAnon’s real ur dumb (@erikaheidewald) August 28, 2020
Bella Thorne Claimed She Wanted To Help Sex Workers, But She Never Asked. Them What Would Be Helpful. And It Shows
In typical celeb 2020 fashion, Thorne eventually responded to the backlash by posting an “apology” on Twitter that did a lot more self congratulating and excusing herself than it did actually apologizing.
PT1 Remove the stigma behind sex, sex work, and the negativity that surrounds the word SEX itself by bringing a mainstream face to it that’s what I was trying to do, to help bring more faces to the site to create more revenue for content creators on the site.
— BITCHIMBELLATHORNE (@bellathorne) August 29, 2020
I wanted to bring attention to the site, the more people on the site the more likely of a chance to normalize the stigmas, And in trying to do this I hurt you. I have risked my career a few times to remove the stigma behind sex work, porn, and the natural hatred people spew…
— BITCHIMBELLATHORNE (@bellathorne) August 29, 2020
behind anything sex related. I wrote and directed a porn against the high brows of my peers and managers because I WANTED to help with the stigma behind sex.
— BITCHIMBELLATHORNE (@bellathorne) August 29, 2020
…I am a mainstream face and when you have a voice, a platform, you try to use you in helping others and advocate for something bigger than yourself. Again in this process I hurt you and for that I’m truly sorry.
— BITCHIMBELLATHORNE (@bellathorne) August 29, 2020
Ps. I’m meeting with only fans about the new restrictions to find out why!!! This is fucked up and I’m sorry comment any ideas or concerns you want brought up to OF!! and send me your links and a pic so I can promote you guys
— BITCHIMBELLATHORNE (@bellathorne) August 29, 2020
Right now is a really hard and scary time for a lot of sex workers. In-person sex workers like strippers, full-service workers, sugar babies, etc. have been trying to transition to online work, which is really hard to do when you don’t have a massive following, or Page Six writing articles about how you created your page. And online sex workers are now seeing an oversaturated market due to this, so many have had to lower their prices and adapt.
Sex workers don’t need a rich celebrity to come in, co-opt their space, and work off the misunderstanding that sex work is all about scamming, all to help them make a movie (also profitable for the celeb) about what it’s like to be on OnlyFans. That doesn’t help. She made things worse. She literally took away people’s ability to earn more money.
Bella Thorne did what celebrities cannot stop doing during quarantine: she recognized a time to grab the microphone from the people whose voices we should be uplifting and call that charity and activism.
Celebrities gentrifying OnlyFans and turning it into something different and more mainstream and less sex worker-focused isn’t going to gift sex workers with normalization, it’s going to erase us and push us aside. You’re not gonna be our “saviors” by just showing up to our spaces and making money for yourself.
If you want to help sex workers, pay them. Tip them. Hire them. Listen to them. Protest with them. Donate to organizations, fundraisers, and mutual aid funds that help them. Actually make it about sex workers and not about yourself. It’s that simple.
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Images: Andrea Raffin / Shutterstock.com; bellathorne (7), erikaheidewald, thekiranoir, Lilfilm / Twitter; Giphy
Here’s something you may have missed as the world has continued to crumble around you: a bill that would take away your internet privacy has reached the Senate floor. Very cute of our lawmakers to sneak in these lil’ easter eggs while we’re all distracted by a global pandemic.
The proposed bill is called the Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies Act, aka the EARN IT Act. You may be looking at this and thinking, “I mean, eliminating abuse and neglect sounds like a good thing?” That’s true. This bill sounds nice. It markets itself as a bill that will help put an end to child pornography, which sounds awesome. But here’s the thing: the bill uses the fear of sexual exploitation and abuse to pass a law that will completely infringe on people’s privacy.
The bill was introduced by Sen. Lindsey Graham, which is honestly the first red flag. The EARN IT Act, in practice, would eliminate end-to-end encrypted services. K, wtf are end-to-end encrypted services? Valid question. End-to-end encryption (E2EE) is a method of secure communication that prevents third-parties from accessing data while it’s transferred from one end system or device to another. In layman’s terms, it’s what keeps your conversations and data private and between you and the person you are communicating with online. Think of it this way: do you want the government to read through your DMs?
Decriminalize Sex Work, a national advocacy organization, made an animated short that breaks down why this bill is dangerous:
This isn’t the first bill of its kind. In 2018, the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act and the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act, collectively known as FOSTA-SESTA, was passed under the guise of cracking down on sex trafficking. At face value, FOSTA-SESTA is meant to stop sex traffickers from using the internet to conduct their heinous crimes. However, when you look more closely, you’ll see that it prohibits anyone from using the internet to advertise sexual services, including consenting adults who are trying to go about their business safely.
Many consensual sex workers use the internet to find and screen clients before meeting them, as well as a way to form community and check in with each other about which clients are safe and which are not. So, taking this resource away removed a safety net from sex workers. Sex workers have been put in harm’s way because of FOSTA-SESTA, and this could go even further with the EARN IT Act.
Think about it: if a sex worker’s client knows they could be caught by the authorities because the government is allowed to look at their private messages, they’re probably not going to be as willing to communicate with the sex worker prior to meeting and provide information to let them know they are safe and not a predator. Privacy violations like this leave sex workers without safety resources and push consensual sex work underground, making it much more dangerous.
But it’s not just sex workers who will be affected by the EARN IT Act. There are plenty of communications that should be kept private, like those between lawyer and client, therapist and patient, doctor and patient, etc. So many of our interactions are online these days, especially with quarantine, and many of those private conversations should be kept that way. Also, I don’t want people accessing my nudes for free!
Bills like this often pass unanimously because lawmakers don’t want to look like they’re easy on sex trafficking or child pornography. But the gag is that that’s not what these bills are really about. They’re about gaining access to private interactions so they can use them as proof to criminalize.
If you want to protect your privacy and the privacy of those whose livelihoods depend on it, call your senators and ask them to vote against this bill. And if you want to send them an email, here is a link to help you easily do that!
Hey babe, looking for some light during these dark times of quarantine & scream chill? I got you. Or rather, comedian, artist, author, and stripper Jacqueline Frances — aka Jacq the Stripper — has got you. Frances is using her quarantine time to come up with creative endeavors, including a project that involves drawing thirst traps and helping sex workers stay afloat during this crisis. We absolutely god damn love to see it.
Jacq the Stripper asked her followers on Twitter to send her their thirst traps so she could draw them for $50 and send the proceeds to mutual aid funds for sex workers. Sex workers are among one of the most affected groups of workers amid the pandemic, as many of them are unable to conduct their business safely.
With strip clubs and massage parlors closing for the foreseeable future, the NYC Health advising people not to engage in sex with anyone besides themselves and their roommates, and people generally being afraid to come within six feet of people, it’s harder than ever for many sex workers to find gigs right now, making these mutual aid funds vital to their survival. To have your money go towards a great cause and get you a dope drawing of your sexy bits all in one go? That’s a slay, hon.
Send me your quarantine thirst traps and for $50 I’ll draw your portrait, with proceeds going to mutual aid funds for sw affected by this wildly inconvenient world health crisis. All commissions are through https://t.co/g3Lu0NhTjv pic.twitter.com/vJ5G6PhwJX
— Jacq the Stripper (@JacqTheStripper) March 25, 2020
These drawings also make for amazing gifts. If everyone I knew gifted me with drawings of my nudes I would be one happy slut, I’ll say that. If you have a friend who’s feeling down, has a birthday coming up, or just deserves a treat for the sake of it, may I suggest sending one of Jacq’s masterpieces their way. And while we’re throwing ideas around, it would be pretty rad to have one of Justin Bieber’s thirst traps drawn, and if anyone made this happen for me I would not be mad.
View this post on Instagram
COMMISSIONS ARE OPEN $50 digital / $100 watercolour. 50% profits will go to @swopbrooklyn and @lysistratamccf mutual aid funds for sex workers out of work due to covid-19. This one I just did for High Priestess @butterflymush. Send me your juiciest thirst traps, let me draw and paint you, and let’s send some money to sworkers who need it! All commissions are through Patreon, link in bio ❤️
And this isn’t Jacq the Stripper’s first rodeo in terms of creating cool, sexy projects with an important message. She has “soft clothes for sluts,” pro-sex work merch, and other amazing art that you can buy on her website. She’s also a hilarious performer, and you can access all of her amazing content on her Patreon for endless entertainment. Wow, smart, funny, hot, talented women really can have it all. Who knew?
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Images: Twitter (2), Instagram (1)
Let’s talk about sex (work), baby, let’s talk about sex and work! If I’m being h with y’all, I think sex work is amazing. It’s the oldest profession in the game, pretty much everyone likes to indulge in it in some way (porn, anyone?), and it’s an industry that largely employs women and allows them to profit off of their sexuality. J’adore.
Just to clarify, when I say sex work, I am referring to the various jobs within the sex industry. This includes strippers, escorts, adult film actors, webcam models, street workers, and anyone who sells sexual services. It’s an umbrella term that covers more than you may realize. If you’ve ever sold photos of your feet or a pair of panties, congrats, that was a sex work gig. Also, hell yeah, babe, get that money.
Some sex work is legal, like stripping, and some is not, like selling sex. Sex work that is illegal arguably receives more judgment and shaming than legal sex work — people have an annoying tendency to blindly equate legality with morality — but all in all, it’s safe to say sex workers experience a lot of stigma for the work that they do.
Call me radical, but I think shaming someone for profiting off of their dope sexuality and literally just doing their job is, in technical terms, really fucking stupid.
My face when someone says sex workers should “get a real job.”
Don’t Be a Captain Save-a-Hoe
But what really grinds my gears is when people speak out against sex work under the veil of wanting to protect sex workers. Let’s start with the law: selling sex is illegal, and cops will likely tell you this is to protect people, mostly women, from entering a field that uses them, puts them in danger, and forces them to shamefully sell their bodies to survive. (Sidenote: sex work isn’t selling your body, it’s selling a service/experience. You go home with your body at the end of the day, as it is intrinsically yours and nobody can buy it.)
Sure, some people do sex work because they feel they have no other option (not all!), but last I checked throwing someone in jail and giving them a record did not help them thrive.
Also, many people do jobs they hate in order to survive, but the fact that sex workers are made to feel worse about what they do is only exacerbated by the narrative of “sex work is bad, sad, and dirty” that society keeps pushing. And this narrative is held up by the fact that a lot of sex work is illegal, because if it’s against the law, it must be “bad,” right?
And a lot of sex workers like their jobs. A job is a job and it can be hard and exhausting, but many, many sex workers do sex work because they want to. Stop being Captain Save-a-Hoe by trying to “stick up” for women who don’t need your saving.
And if you’re thinking, “but sex work exploits women!!!!” my argument to you would be that it’s not sex work that exploits women, it’s capitalism that exploits the working class, and the sex industry is no exception. If a woman doesn’t want to use her sexuality as part of her job, she certainly shouldn’t have to. In a capitalist society, many of us are forced to work jobs we don’t want to in order to survive. But on the other hand, if a woman *does* want to monopolize on her sexuality and make a living selling sexual services, then she should be able to without fear of the law, police brutality, and societal ostracizing. Sex workers deserve the freedom to do their jobs in peace, just like an other worker. So, how could this be done? Decriminalization, baby.
if you think sex work is exploitative just wait til you hear about capitalism
— Irene Fagan Merrow (@_irenemerrow) January 29, 2020
Sex Work and Sex Trafficking Are Not the Same
The decriminalization of sex work is what it sounds like: removing criminal penalties for sex work, mainly the trade of sexual services. This doesn’t mean it would be legal, it just means people wouldn’t be charged with a crime for doing it. This, of course, would not apply to sex trafficking. Sex work and sex trafficking are two separate things and should be treated as such. Sex trafficking should obviously be punishable by law.
Sex trafficking is when victims are forced into selling sex and is obviously nonconsensual. Sex work is when a consenting adult sells a sexual service to another consenting adult. See the difference? Treating two separate things in the same way is not effective, and conflating the two is actually dangerous.
For example, FOSTA, the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, and SESTA, the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act were implemented to stop sex traffickers from being able to conduct their business online. However, the laws also make it illegal for consenting sex workers to conduct their business online. A lot of sex workers used to use resources like the website Backpage, where they could pre-screen their clients and make sure they were safe. Online hubs also helped sex workers communicate with each other, so they could warn each other about bad clients or verify good clients for each other. FOSTA-SESTA took this away, so sex workers have been forced back onto the street, often going into work situations blind and at risk. Treating consensual sex work like sex trafficking victimizes sex workers, it doesn’t protect them.
Cops Are Not Our Friends
The criminalization of sex work is supposedly meant to protect sex workers, but it actually leads to a lot of harm. I’m going to let you in on a lil’ secret: the police are not sex workers’ friends.
Go ahead and clutch your pearls, but it’s true.
Sex workers are often harassed by cops, and far too often experience violence at the hands of them. According to the Human Rights Watch, police officers abuse their power in situations with sex workers by holding the penalties over their heads when they harass, abuse, and sometimes rape them. Some will even coerce them into giving free sexual services in exchange for no arrest. You know, like sexual assault.
Human Rights Watch also found research across various countries that showed criminalization makes sex workers unsafe because attackers acknowledge they are unlikely to go to the police, so they can get away with abusing them. Sex workers don’t want to go to police because they are afraid of getting penalized for their work, and also are afraid of being abused by the police. Plus, sex workers are often forced to conduct their work in unsafe locations, as they are trying to avoid being seen or caught by law enforcement, and this makes them much more vulnerable to violence. As it turns out, making sex work punishable by law puts sex workers in danger, rather than protect them from it. The law fails to provide for a marginalized group of society again, truly who could have seen this coming?!
There are also health issues when it comes to criminalization. Some sex workers fear using condoms because they can be used as evidence that the illegal work is being done. In some strip clubs, dancers aren’t allowed to carry purses because they don’t want them to have condoms on them. Some clubs even check the strippers’ purses for condoms before a shift, and make them throw them out if they find any. Cops treat street sex workers in the same way; they stop them, search them, find condoms and question them about them, and sometimes make them throw them away.
The “idea” here is that if the workers don’t have the condoms, they won’t engage in the sex work. Obviously that is not true, they will just do it without the condoms. Criminalization isn’t stopping the work from happening, it’s just making hard for sex workers to do their jobs safely.
The Nordic Model Doesn’t Work, Babe
The decriminalization of sex work would allow sex workers to do their jobs more safely, as they wouldn’t have to fear penalty of the law when it comes to where they conduct their work and if they feel the need to report being abused. It would also keep the cops from abusing their power over them. Some people advocate for the Equality Model — also known as the Nordic Model — which only criminalizes the buyer. This is nice in theory, but as made clear before, the cops are not sex workers’ friends. Having them involved doesn’t help. This model has been tried in Scandinavian countries and hasn’t been proven to benefit sex workers. In fact, it often gives cops an excuse to harass sex workers, and identify undocumented sex workers and deport them. Additionally, it makes negotiating with a client very difficult, since they are risking criminalization and the worker is not.
At the end of the day, consenting adults should be able to have sex with other consenting adults on their terms. It’s called bodily autonomy, Karen, look it up. The patriarchy is terrified of women realizing the power in their sexuality, and that’s probably why it enforces laws to stop them from profiting off of that. You don’t have to want to engage in sex work, but maybe don’t judge others who do just because some of it is illegal and society has deemed it immoral. Society is famously wrong, and we as humans all deserve to be respected, no matter how we decide to survive. Support women, support sex workers, support decriminalization. Just a thought!
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Images: Giphy (3)
Stripping is a legitimate job that requires lots of different skills.
A standout moment in the movie is when Destiny (played by Constance Wu) is giving a dance and a man asks her, “What happened to you that made you do this?” This is a typical kind of question from a male customer. It’s condescending, rude, and ignorant. These dudes come into the club looking to buy what we have to offer, and they say sh*t like this, implying that what we do isn’t valuable or worthy, and that we must only be doing it because we are damaged goods. Sex work is work, and I think Hustlers does a good job of showing how it’s very much a job that requires a set of skills. You have to learn how to read and work people, how to charm people, how to be confident, plus how to walk and dance in six-inch heels. It’s fun and empowering, and it’s also exhausting. It’s a job. I hope when you saw Destiny exiting the club as the sun was coming up, you thought, “Damn, girl,” because that moment is very real.
While stripping can and should be empowering, the system it works within is broken.
The first act of Hustlers essentially shows us the working conditions for a stripper. Granted, the film takes place about a decade ago, but a lot of the industry standards remain the same. We see Destiny go through a long night of working, only to have to hand over a chunk of her earnings to her boss. Most clubs work in a way that cushions the pockets of the men in charge, and takes advantage of the women doing all of the heavy lifting. In most clubs, strippers are not paid any sort of wage. Instead, they have to pay the club for the “privilege” of working there.
I’ve noticed in the way management speaks to us, it is often implied that we are disposable and lucky to be given the opportunity to make money at their club. We have to pay a house fee every shift. In my experience, this ranges form $40-$100 per shift, depending on when you arrive (the house fee goes up as the night goes on). On top of this, you have to tip out other people on the staff, because they also make their money on tips.
And, while the first act of the movie shows how hard it can be, it eventually transforms to these women making insane amounts of money, because a plot of a movie must progress. But something I find myself often explaining to people is that stripping is very inconsistent work. Some nights I feel like JLo in the scene where she bathes in money and I take home two months’ rent in one night. Other nights I owe the club money after working the floor for six hours because I didn’t even make enough to pay my house fee.
Hustlers shows that strippers endure tough working conditions that require them to hustle hard, so instead of shaming them for what they choose to do, we should support and stand by them.
Not all strippers are trying to rob you.
Sure, this film is based on a true story about a group of strippers who came up with a master plan on how to rob some super rich Wall Street guys. But I think Hustlers makes a point to show the situation these women were in that led them to do doing what they did: a financial crash that took away their business and a need to survive and support themselves and their families. It also includes a line from Destiny reiterating that this is not what all strippers do, which I really appreciated and hope you noted. As someone who has worked at the club that Hustlers is based off of, I can say firsthand that I’ve never witnessed anything like this scandal there. This was a unique situation, and it made major headlines because of what a big, and uncommon, story it was. It is an exception.
Strippers are hustlers and we are smart people who persuade people (often rich men) to spend their money, but that doesn’t mean all strippers are going to drug and rob you. It’s an interesting story, but it is not the norm. So, please don’t watch and support this movie and then use it as an excuse to stay away from strip clubs and not support actual strippers. Hollywood shouldn’t be the only one making money off the dazzling world of strip clubs.
Sisterhood exists at the strip club.
In the past, I’ve noticed that when strippers are portrayed in film and TV they are often pitted against one another. People who have never worked in a strip club assume it’s every stripper for themselves and highly competitive. Hustlers showed audiences an authentic strip club, where yes, you should not cut in on another stripper’s client, but you also work best when working together. The only time they show the competitive aspect is when Destiny tries to talk to a man who is watching Diamond on stage. That’s not a good move, and Destiny figures that out when Diamond grabs her hair and tells her to f*ck off. But she also learns that becoming friends with her coworkers and combining their powers is not only lucrative, but essential to staying happy at work.
A line from the original article written about the scandal, entitled “The Hustlers of Scores,” says, “While evolutionary theory and The Bachelor would suggest that a room full of women hoping to attract the attention of a few men would be cutthroat-competitive, it’s actually better for strippers to work together, because while most men might be able keep their wits, and their wallets, around one scantily clad, sweet-smelling sylph, they tend to lose their grip around three or four.” This is absolutely true. Plus, working with a bunch of women who have seen your pussy is honestly a blast, and I love my sisters at the club. They keep me sane.
Strippers put up with a lot of stigmatizing bullsh*t.
While I’m proud of the work I do, I also know the world, for the most part, is not. My hope is that Hustlers will help people clock their unfair judgements about strippers. Being represented in mainstream media means a lot, and having a cast of strippers that the audience is meant to sympathize with is helpful. But I hope people don’t leave their enthusiasm and “yaassss queen” energy at the theater door. I have seen people gushing over this movie and over the cast, but I hope they realize that while, yes, JLo is a goddess, so are the strippers she and the rest of the cast are portraying here. Something I hear way too often from my clients is, “You are too smart to be working here.” They think it’s a compliment, but really it’s a belittling dismissal of the hard work that I and my fellow strippers do. You’ll notice that I wrote this article anonymously, because unfortunately, I still feel as though there are people in my life or in the professional world who would view me differently and less positively if they discovered that I do this work. That sucks. I hope Hustlers helps you see that strippers are amazing, smart, funny, clever, badass b*tches who deserve your respect. And TBH, your money.
Stripping is a form of sex work, and all sex work is work.
Nothing bums me out more than people rationing their compassion, especially when it comes to sex work. If you saw Hustlers and discovered that you respect the work that strippers do, don’t stop there. Make sure to respect and support all sex workers. Different people provide different services, and the details of those services shouldn’t dictate what respect you have for them. Different strokes for different folks, babe. No need to judge.
And please, for the love of God, remember that sex work is completely separate from sex trafficking. I’m not asking you to support the latter. I’m asking you to realize that consenting adults choose to make a living from the former, and they are often shamed and penalized for it. Let’s change that, shall we?
Images: Getty Images, Giphy (2)
News flash: Pornhub is 100 percent that b*tch. The adult content website has recently launched an initiative to help remove plastic from the Earth’s oceans and raise awareness about sea pollution. One truly does love to see it.
Pornhub has created a truly amazing concept, where every time a video specifically made for this initiative is watched, they will make a donation to Ocean Polymers – a nonprofit organization that plans to send out a ship to collect plastic waste in the sea. The film is entitled “The Dirtiest Porn on Earth,” and stars popular amateur porn couple Leolulu, who are seen having sex on a beach littered with trash.
As the scene goes on, people wearing Pornhub branded gear pick up the trash around them, which allows the viewer to see more of the sweet, sweet action. The film is meant to depict how an otherwise beautiful scene can be hidden by the trash we create. Genius. Gorgeous. Hang it in the Louvre.
Corey Price, Vice President of The United States of America Pornhub made the following statement about the project:
“As of today, 12.7 million tons of plastic can be found within the depths of our oceans. What’s perhaps even more shocking, is that scientists predict that there will be more plastic than fish within our oceans in only 30 years.
Ocean pollution has grown to become of the most significant global issues of our lifetime, and it’s only getting worse.
That’s why it’s imperative that we use our platform to raise awareness and inspire change – not just for the time being but for generations to come. We’re dirty here at Pornhub, but that doesn’t mean our beaches need to be.”
Pornhub has also created a website where viewers can find tips on how to avoid contributing to the plastic that is devastating the ocean and the creatures that call it home.
What you might not know is that this kind of inspirational, progressive activism is not at all out of character for Pornhub. In fact, the company has a history of raising both awareness and money for charity and social issues. They have an initiative called “Pornhub Cares,” which includes videos like the one in this story and helps aid charities, provide access to disabled persons, and educate the public about activism. In another initiative, the company
Like anyone/anything that capitalizes on sex work, Pornhub is often unfairly and inaccurately written off as “trashy” or “not legit.” But the truth is, like the work it promotes and supports, it’s very progressive. It’s literally helping people gaz (short for orgasm — try to keep up) while simultaneously helping save the world’s oceans. The true heroes.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some, ahem, activism to go watch.
First New York was the first place to champion a rat who could carry an entire slice of pizza (iconic), and now we just might be the first state to decriminalize sex work. Slay. Now, some of you may be thinking, “Decriminalize sex work? But how? And why?” Girl, I got you.
A bill called Stop Violence in the Sex Trades Act (SVSTA) was composed by progressive legislators and aims to repeal penalties for selling and buying sex. The bill also proposes repealing “promotion charges” AKA “pimping” (which famously ain’t easy), so that sex workers cannot be penalized for helping each other out. In short, this bill would allow sex workers to do their jobs without the fear of facing jail time. Imagine that.
The SVSTA also makes a point that sex trafficking and selling/buying sex from minors will remain 100 percent illegal because duh. People are often quick to dismiss the idea of decriminalizing or legalizing sex work because they assume this means sex trafficking will fall under that category and thus also become legal. Honey, no. Consensual sex work and sex trafficking are two completely separate, very different things, and failing to differentiate the two is dangerous for those who choose to work in the sex work industry. When we don’t think of them separately, sex work becomes unsafe because laws meant to stop sex trafficking affect sex workers and make their work impossible and dangerous. They are forced to work underground and are vulnerable to police brutality and other types of violence. So, why not pass laws to protect the many women, men, and nonbinary folks who make a living as sex workers and simply want to be able to do so without getting harmed? That’s what this bill is saying, dude!
Sex workers are stigmatized because we capitalize on male attention. Instead of enduring it, we revel in it. Then we have the audacity to profit from it.
— YE$ DADDY ? Rick's Chicago 6/8 ? (@fiercestripper) June 5, 2019
The bill will be introduced to the Senate by State Sen. Julia Salazar, who advocated for decriminalizing sex work during her campaign. It’s also notable that the bill was crafted in collaboration with Decrim NY, a coalition that works to “decriminalize, decarcerate, and destigmatize” sex work in New York. So, the legislation comes from people who have a deep understanding of the field they are talking about and advocating for. Again, imagine that.
Presumably, the bill will face a lot of backlash. People, including Democrats, are uncomfortable with the topic of sex work. This legislation will, however, force lawmakers to begin conversations about decriminalizing sex work, and that’s at least a start. Rumor has it that sometimes our government gets things done (been a while since I’ve seen some proof), so here’s to hoping that is the case with SVSTA.
Image: Twitter: (@fiercestripper)