By Sexpress Editor Caoimhe Battault
Sex work has always been prevalent but perhaps not so easily accessible and worker driven as it is at the moment. People, particularly women, want agency over their own bodies and the ability to make money in a safe, independent way. Enter OnlyFans, a site which allows users to decide a price for their own NSFW (not suitable for work) pictures and videos, depending on what the user is willing to sell and what the consumer wants. Why has this platform taken off and become so popular, particularly with young people in Ireland today?
“I’m a student so the extra money helps since I don’t have work anywhere else,” says Sophie*, someone who has been a creator on the platform since August “…best part is its easy money…” Other creators responded the same way about why they started to sell nudes on OnlyFans “I mainly started it because I’m unemployed and badly need the extra cash,” says Laura (culchieaphrodite) “However, I’ve always been interested in getting into some sort of sex work so this is the perfect gateway into the area.” Another user, Grace (gveronxca) also says she started it to make extra money and that it has been successful so far: “As long as you’re willing to put in the work and commit to it, it can be a really good source of extra income.”
A massive plus of this form of sex work, which has not been as present in other forms, is the autonomy over price range. All the women spoken to charged different monthly subscription fees: “I charge €10 for a monthly subscription, but I do discount subscriptions every now and again!” says Grace, “I can do personalised requests for subscribers that have been active for a reasonable amount of time so that I’m comfortable with doing so…subscribers can choose whether or not they tip.”
However, Sophie discussed how you must be constantly active in order to keep your subscribers “I was once at 36 subscribers, but it went down to 9 once I wasn’t posting.” Seeing as Sophie took this break for mental health reasons, it seems it may be hard to sustain income if your personal life takes the lead, “It can be hard when you’re struggling mentally because the last thing you want to do is take pictures of yourself so at the moment when I do take pics I try to take a lot so I can use them when I’m not feeling great to try and keep my users active.” Sarah, someone who is not a creator or subscriber to OnlyFans says “I think OnlyFans is a product of gen z and millennials being paid the bare minimum… but also more power to them.” The risk of losing out on subscribers when a creator may need a well-deserved break could lead to seriously mental health altercations and cause creators to do things, they are no longer comfortable with. “You need thick skin,” continues Sophie, “…almost everyone is highly forward because its anonymous and they truly can say anything.”
While overall the people spoken to enjoy the platform and enjoy creating content, some negatives do arise, as with almost all forms of making money. “As I originally come from a rural area, it would definitely be the talk of the town [if] people found out… so I keep it quiet when I am at home” Laura says, pointing out the still prevalent judgement Ireland holds against sex workers. However, she continues “If people were to somehow find out I don’t think it would negatively effect me.” Sophie also discusses her want for anonymity “I don’t think my mother would like knowing so I tend to keep it to myself.” But as previously stated, the experience is hugely positive, with all three interviewees happily recommending it.
An important aspect of OnlyFans is the personalisation, and this means some of the time people you know in your everyday life become subscribers. “I suppose the only weird part for me is when you get an unexpected subscription and you’re like “oh…” says Grace, but this doesn’t affect her over all experience with the site; “People in my everyday life just sort of know! It hasn’t changed my relationship with anyone in my life so far.” She continues about if this affects her; “A small bit, but not negatively. Sure, there’s the “oh I didn’t know you thought of me that way” thought for a second but nah.”
Sophie also discusses the effects of people in your life subscribing; “Some people do get off on telling you who they are to you,” she says, “one guy told me who he was and it turned out it was a guy who I had matched with on tinder a fair few years previous who I cut off contact with because I found him odd, I didn’t mind though because he sent me over €100 to see videos of me.” Not everyone enjoys the rush of being known by the content creator however, “I’ve heard of cases though of people sending money [to creators] on PayPal which tends to expose the person because of their email… which can be funny because these people don’t want to be known, but their privacy is still safe,” says Sophie, “These people have access to our pics and can save them if they like, I’m sure it would be very easy to expose someone’s account if they felt you had done them wrong.”
The question of relationships is something a lot of people consider when contemplating sex work; how could this endeavour effect romantic relationships? When asked does the work effect romantic or sexual partners in your life, Laura said, “I wouldn’t want to be with someone against me having an OnlyFans anyway” and Grace simply replied “nope!” But Sophie had a bit more to discuss, bringing up the topic of manipulation from people who find out she is a content creator “Some people get off on the idea [of having sex with you] since OnlyFans creators come off as confident…” she says, “I’ve had a fair few guys use it as an excuse to just ask for nudes for free or ask to see if it’s worth it, just to see me naked” Sophie finds this funny, which is unsurprising as men have a notorious history of trying to take advantage for smart women who know better. She is not a product for which you can try free samples. She also said she was currently single and not looking for a relationship “…so I’m not sure if it would affect the people I might be with in the future, if that was the case I would get rid of the account, it’s basically just for fun and extra cash.”
Overall the experience seems overwhelmingly positive. All three women enjoy creating content and having autonomy over their bodies. As stated, all three recommend creating an OnlyFans account, leaving different pieces of advice. “I’d recommend it to any adult,” says Sophie, “It doesn’t work out for everyone but if you’re interested and think its for you then I think its no harm.” Grace says, “I would [recommend it] …It can be a really good source of extra income and you can gain a lot of confidence from it too,” and Laura agrees “yes, I would absolutely recommend it! It’s very handy if you need the extra cash, it definitely helps boost your confidence and its fun too.” It’s clear these women love creating this content and what comes with selling it. OnlyFans, from this group of women’s perspectives, definitely seems to be making the world of sex work safer and more enjoyable for the creator!