Solidarity for Sex Workers
Updated: Apr 25, 2022
We are the a prominent community in a billion dollar industry, that leads innovation in technology, we have seen this before, and we will adapt.
Blog Post Written By: MelRose Michaels
It's time to shape-shift
The removal of Adult Content from Onlyfans is the result of many factors. It is partly from payment processors like Visa, and Mastercard for implementing choke hold policies on adult platforms. It is also partly due to extremist organizations like Trafficking Hub and NCOSE attacking porn platforms under the guise of Human trafficking and Child Exploitation. It is also partly the fault of our legislators, for being afraid to stand firm and educate, explain, and understand that trafficking and sex work are two very different things, and by removing sex work platforms like Onlyfans as safe places, they are only creating more danger for everyone.
What seems to be a misunderstood part of the Onlyfans equation by the sex work community is the fact that Onlyfans is looking to become a publicly traded company. That is what sets it a part from other major platforms where sex work communities flourish. Onlyfans already dominate the adult sector, so if they want to continue to grow, (which they do, because that is the expectation of investors) then they HAVE to expand mainstream and go public. To do this, they need capital and help from VC’s, most of which are barred from funding adult companies. Even the venture capitalist firms that can invest into the adult sector, would never do it knowing Mastercard and Visa could crack down on the platform at any time. Therefore, Onlyfans had to submit, to raise funding.
While sex workers know that adult content creators built the Onlyfans platform, they fail to realize that adult content actually does NOT make up most of Onlyfans revenue anymore. Keep in mind, Onlyfans does NOT consider nude photos/videos as pornography, so the strictly nude creators aren’t counted as “adult” in this equation. Meanwhile yes, Onlyfans bottom line will take a hit from the loss of porn and adult creators in the short term, they are positioning to grow in the mainstream and become a rival to things like Youtube, Patreon and Twitter.
All of this aside, as creators we are faced with a new landscape, operating under new rules, and fostering new fears. So let’s talk about what ACTUALLY MATTERS. How do we navigate this new, very un-level playing field?
If it can happen to Onlyfans, can’t it happen to every platform?
Many SWrs are wondering, if this can happen to Onlyfans, can’t it happen to all of its smaller competitors. The answer is.. maybe. IF these smaller competitors grow to the size of something like Onlyfans and want to become a publicly traded company, then yes. If they plan to entirely stay in the adult vertical then no. You have to remember while Visa and Mastercard are GIANTS in terms of payment processing, they actually aren’t the only option. With the emergence of crypto currencies starting to become more widely accepted payment processors will begin to lose the choke hold they currently have as well. So while YES, if the “next Onlyfans” platform intends on going public, you should be concerned, but if they are COMMITTED to adult, then this particular tragedy should not repeat itself, in theory.
There are predators amongst us
The next topic I’m seeing a lot of is predatory behavior from platforms, management companies, and agencies alike. To these players the Onlyfans debacle has initiated a feeding frenzy. They want to scoop up scared talent and performers while the ground feels like quicksand and the creator is forced to make decisions. As a creator DO NOT LET FEAR GUIDE YOUR DECISIONS right now. Despite how it feels, we do have time to weigh options.
Why Uniting is SO IMPORTANT
Sex workers as a community are constantly getting the short end of the stick in terms of legislation, representation, and so much more. We have tried to organize and unionize in the past with organizations like APAG and others, but the sentiment overall seems hopeless. The comments I received when asking SWrs unite from my own personal @MelRoseMichaels twitter account was more or less instant defeat. I need to address why that is not okay, why coming together is our only option, and why it doesn’t necessarily need to be a formal union to do so.
First, it is not okay to quit before we begin. In fact it's what anti-porn evangelicals like NCOSE and others are counting on. They are banking on the fact that we will give up before we begin, because the challenge we face is so huge. We can not do that, it is simply NOT an option.
The only option we DO have is to Unite or do nothing. And I myself, nor the SexWorkCEO platform intend to "do nothing". I hope you reading this feel the same way. Now, while I'm not intending to form a union or coalition, what I do intend is to bring together as many sex workers as possible and start with having a conversation. I want to TALK to everyone, gauge concerns, ideas, talk through the trauma of this and more.
So to begin, I secured the domain SaveSW.com to collect email addresses from creators. These emails will be cross referenced with the creators twitter account and adult platforms so we know it’s a safe list of creators only. Next, I’d like to organize a zoom call. I want us to talk, discuss, and work through the discussions that need to be had. I want us to offer kindness and compassion to each other, and realize we really ARE all we’ve got.
On this call, I’d like us to discuss what is really at stake in terms of our businesses. I’d like us all to evaluate WHY we are so vulnerable. Here are some of the key reasons;
1.We don’t own our fan base or our data
Most creators don’t build or monitor an email list to back up their fans or their brands. It’s EXTREMELY important to begin doing this if you haven’t yet, but the fact that adult platforms don’t provide the actual creators their user/fan data is a point of vulnerability. Until WE control our fanbase and can pack it up and take it with us, we will always have something to lose.
2.Uploading, downloading and distributing content is HARD & time consuming
Creators who’ve been around for sometime have accumulated hundreds if not thousands of clips or pieces of content. To store it, save it, and distribute it, especially redistribute it is particularly difficult. For this reason, creators aren’t apt to move or switch platforms unless forced to do so. Onlyfans has done wrong by SWrs many times prior to de-platforming us. Yet the majority of creators, myself included, didn't move and focus on a new platform. We sat back, and paid them 20% of our revenue instead.. Why? Because moving our content is HARD.
3.We have limited resources and representation
We don’t have a strong lobbyist presence working on our behalf in Washington, and we don’t have a lot of resources in place to offer proper support when our community suffers. In fact, we’re one of the few sectors that pays a substantial amount of taxes while getting the least amount of representation in US policy. We need to understand this and try to strengthen these shortcomings.
What happens next for Sex Workers?
Just like how we saw the adult industry flourish amongst the covid 19 pandemic, infection rates are back on the rise and we’re about to see it shift again. What happens next is we evaluate our options. Many of the Onlyfans competitors are rolling out massive incentives for signing onto their platforms, and attempting to ‘simplify’ the transition with “migration tools” to help transfer over content. But as a community, we would be wise to pause and evaluate wisely. When I hear ‘payout incentives’ I evaluate traffic to the website. How much traffic a platform actually has is what needs to be considered here. When I hear “migration tools” I worry about our data. Are you pulling our content to a new platform or are you pulling all of our data along with it? Our fans' data? Emails? Past DM conversations? What is included in the term “migration”? While migration tools do make it easy to take what you’ve built on Onlyfans to your next platform in theory, if you’re considering launching your own stand alone website or similar, you’ll likely want your data for yourself.
We DO have until October 1st to stop posting explicit content to Onlyfans, and we do have until December to remove old content from our platforms. We do NOT need to rush the transition, and we do not need to worry or confuse our fans along the way.
Here’s where to start.
First, change your ‘welcome video’ on your fan site to include a statement about what new platform your fans can find you at come October. While most text is filtered to exclude competitors' platforms, it’s unlikely that they can track what you verbally say in video content.
Next, I would include in your ‘welcome message’ that accompanies the video to ask for your fans email address. Something as simple as, “Welcome to my fan site babe! I will only remain here until October, but we can have a lot of fun between now and then! Do me a favor though? Please message me your email address so that come October I can let you know where to find me!” Then, as replies come in, copy and paste them into a spreadsheet. This is a great way to streamline “backing up” your fanbase and building an email list.
Lastly, MAKE SURE you follow @SexWorkCEO social media channels and check our website. As things like this develop, we will be updating creators on clever ways to navigate the space using strategies that serve them. While we all restructure and organize during this shift, please know that SexWorkCEO is more than a resource. We too, are developing solutions for creators that will ensure your autonomy in this space. We are you. We understand the needs of our community. And WE will be the answer to these problems. We promise.
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the blog post above are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SexWorkCEO or MelRose Michaels. Any content provided by our bloggers or authors are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.