Only Fans to No Fans: The Continuing Struggle for Online Sex Workers

Sex positivity with Ffion Nugent.

I have bundles of ideas for this month’s column, but I wanted to keep this article very current. It is related to a pressing issue that is widespread in the news. At the beginning of the month, the online subscription social platform OnlyFans announced their banning of all pornographic content on their website from October 2021. The sexually explicit content accounts for the majority of OnlyFans’ content and is the leading reason for the platform’s sky rocketing popularity and debate. 

What is OnlyFans?

In short, anyone can create an OnlyFans account and become a content creator or viewer. People may pay for a subscription to a content creator’s account of their choice, gaining them access to the content creator’s published videos and images. Many people across the world chose OnlyFans as their side business to earn an extra income, allowing them to post more sexually explicit content, separate to other social media platforms, and get paid for it. OnlyFans is also popular with many celebrities, with former disney actress Bella Thorne and singer songwriter Pia Mia joining as content creators.  

Benefits of OnlyFans:

Viewers have to pay a subscription fee, which is how the content creators are paid for their posts. Many view this, including myself, as a more ethical approach to online porn. In comparison to other pornographic platforms having a history of unequal pay between male and female actors and between actors and directors. Content creators are in total control with what they post, where they create content and how they post. For OnlyFans, content creators are their own bosses. Which helps dismantle unhealthy working hours and expectations from external porn film directors. As well as allowing people to create content from the comfort of their own home. For many sex workers OnlyFans is deemed as a reliable source of income, enabling them to slowly build up their clientele and professional profile. 

What is the issue?

OnlyFans has announced this August they are banning all sexually explicit content, although permitting nudity from October 2021. This has obviously led to a huge outcry from viewers and content creators alike. I fear this would lead to a huge loss in subscriptions, causing genuine sex workers losing a safe, ethical, reliable source of income. The CEO of OnlyFans, Tim Stokely, told the Financial Times that he’s blaming the ban on the ‘unfair treatment’ of various banks. Stokely claims that banks do not want to associate their label with a company that promotes pornography, as it will risk their reputation. Stokely continued “We pay one million creators over £300m every month.” He singled out an American-based bank for creating “more and more obstacles” for OnlyFans to pay their content creators. 

What does this mean for sex workers? 

Ultimately, the ban will decrease their earnings from the site. Sure – they can move sites, but the regular, reliable clientele may not. Thus, rebuilding their profile again and again. The CEO of the ethical porn company, Erika Lust, expands on this within her tweet “…yes sex workers can migrate to different platforms, but clients not as easily – this will very quickly impact the livelihood of millions of already marginalised people”. 


Image courtesy of Canva.

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