A Thorne in Sex Workers’ Side

“F—k this. I’m just going to drop out and become a stripper.”

I think quite a few of us can relate to this sentiment. A lot of us have been there: hunched over your laptop, downing your third cup of coffee at 3 in the morning and frantically typing up a research paper.

Although most people do not follow through with actually dropping out of school to become a stripper, a variation of this scenario has now been brought to life with the surge in popularity of OnlyFans. If you aren’t familiar with OnlyFans, it’s an online platform in which creators upload content that subscribers can view for a monthly fee. While users can upload anything they wish, most use it for sex work or other similar content.

With the rise of the platform’s popularity, it has attracted many young adults who use the app to help with their finances. Many even use it to pay their way through college or pay off student loans. The increasing popularity is also removing the stigma surrounding sex work. Sex workers are trying to establish themselves through empowerment and assert that making a living through OnlyFans is just as legitimate as any other traditional job.

Twitter user @savnnhx, who is a sex worker on OnlyFans, expressed her opinion about the platform:

“Onlyfans gave me enough money for two cars, money to invest, money for school, AND housing. All in 5 months, so no I will never have regrets about bettering my life”

Twitter user @_cinnamonro11_ shared the same stance:

“In 8 months Onlyfans got me a place on the beach in LA, a new car, savings, boobs, and money to spoil my family w gifts/surprise vacations. I work on my own time, stay within my comfort zone, have a boyfriend, and am getting a degree in video, animation, & audio engineering. Lol”

The app has served as a refuge for many, especially during the pandemic and its debilitating effect on the job market. OnlyFans saw a 75% increase in ‘model sign-ups’ in early April, according to a June Insider report. This coincides with when COVID-19 caused unemployment to skyrocket around the world.

However, this place of refuge has now been threatened by the growing number of celebrities who have joined the app, most notably, Bella Thorne.

Thorne joined OnlyFans on August 19 and reaped in a whopping $1 million on her first day and $2 million after a week. She initially claimed she would not be posting nude content, but subscribers said she offered an exclusive pay-per-view photo for $200, allegedly involving nudity. However, Thorne did not follow through on what she advertised, and many requested a refund.

The high volume of subscribers asking for a refund caused problems with OnlyFans, and as a result, they made policy changes that have negatively impacted those who rely on the platform as a source of income.

One notable change is that the maximum amount of money that users can charge for pay-per-view content has been lowered to $50, and tips $100. In addition, payouts are no longer eligible to be received after a week. Now creators must wait 30 days after transactions have taken place.

A celebrity that already holds so much wealth doesn’t need to capitalize on the ventures of those who rely on sex work for day-to-day living. Thorne’s intention to use it for “research” for her upcoming movie is debasing to creators. On top of this, her research is skewed anyway, as her celebrity status would inevitably bring in more customers and her platform allows for better circulation of advertisement.

Bella’s apology elaborated that she was trying to lessen the stigma regarding sex work by “bringing a mainstream face to it.” In creating her own page, she hurt the community instead. FKA Twigs demonstrated the right way to support the cause using her platform. At the start of August, the singer created a GoFundMe for the Sex Worker Mutual Aid Fund. The campaign’s objectives are to challenge stigma and support the community by “offering ‘direct financial support’ to sex workers and strippers during the COVID-19 pandemic.” FKA Twigs personally donated $13,000. Take notes, Bella.