Many Deaf sex workers use OnlyFans as an outlet to earn money, and for some, it is their only source of income. Recently, OnlyFans announced their decision to change their rules about sexual content being allowed on their website and app.
According to CNN, OnlyFans, a subscription-based website that enables creators to get paid for posting videos and photos for their fans, said as of last week on Thursday that it planned to ban “content containing sexually explicit conduct” effective October 2021, while still allowing nudity consistent with its “acceptable use policy.” In a statement, the company attributed the changes to a need to ensure “the long-term sustainability of the platform” (Sarah Ashley O’Brien).
OnlyFans has already been working on removing sex workers. An OnlyFans creator who goes by the name of Siri Dahl explained to CNN Business: “There’s been some form of rumor and/or panic about OnlyFans kicking sex workers off the platform on a pretty regular basis for the last year.”
The damage behind OnlyFans’ change in terms of services is a lot more severe than people may realize. Post-Culture Review [PCR], a Twitter account, posted a summary of August 20, 2021, on what is really happening. PCR clarified that there are no “new investors” interested in OnlyFans, and MasterCard has changed its terms for providers, which prompted the change. One of MasterCard’s terms lists the requirement that the provider must verify every single person in each video they obtain funds for.
“During Covid, I just stopped [full-service sex work] completely because it became too dangerous,” Morena said, adding that “this was the best month I’ve had on OnlyFans … and now it is basically ruined.”
According to PCR, OnlyFans deemed this records-keeping protocol “too much work” and they decided that it’s not worth it; it also may put a lot of pressure on small businesses.
In order to understand how this all began, Nick Kristof, a New York Times published author, wrote an opinion piece called, “The Children of Pornhub.” Kristof accused Pornhub of profiting off revenge porn, child porn, and sex trafficking. PCR stated that this is a true statement and it is why Visa and MasterCard cut Pornhub off.
Now, PCR emphasized that while Kristof’s piece had some valid points, there were some other points that were manipulative and wrong about sex trafficking in porn and, “like almost anything he writes about sex, a filtered version of Christian dominionist propaganda” (PCR). One of the primary sources used for Kristof’s article was TraffickingHub founder, Laila Mickelwait.
PCR adds that Mickelwait has a reputation for not caring about sex trafficking- rather, their motives is more of targeting anti-sex, anti-homosexuality, and anti-Semitic sentiments. This isn’t the first time Kristof participated in the exploitation of stories of sexual abuse to attack the broader concept of pornography and sex work. There were AIDS programs with specialty services for sex workers that have been shut down and replaced with abstinence-only programs. Police are doing trafficking raids where they primarily target and arrest only the sex workers instead of their “Johns” or “pimps.” This also causes a crackdown on consensual sex work.
Now… with OnlyFans dropping sex work, PCR predicts that it will get much worse. PCR wraps up with the emphasis that sex work needs to be decriminalized. Many people are giving out other existing and new websites that are sex worker-friendly but there is still a lot of fear within the sex work industry that being virtual will become obsolete if laws don’t change. While the FOSTA/SESTA laws look good on paper, in reality, their effects do a lot more harm than good and queer, trans, disabled, Deaf, and/or undocumented sex workers suffer the most from the FOSTA/SESTA (particularly Black and Brown trans women and other women of color who do sex work).