But, unsurprisingly, men are angry. We need to make this industry safe for women.
Throughout history, men have hated sex workers.
In the UK, the industry has the greatest risk of occupational homicide; 110 sex workers were killed at work between 1990-2016 – five times the rate of any other occupation.
But the rise of technology means that women with sex-based incomes have a new, safer platform on which they can distribute their content
Unfortunately, so do the men who like to police their bodies.
It’s called: The Internet.
Just a brief search of the term ‘Sex Work’ on Twitter will throw up a whole slew of men brazenly screaming their opinions as though anyone actually cares, but what do the women involved in the industry think about the men who berate them?
I spoke to Meg, a sex worker from Birmingham who has gathered a whole army of devoted porn-fans, ready to pay good money for her content.
She started her journey on OnlyFans, an online subscription service where its users can upload their nude images and subscribers can pay monthly to see them;
“I got into sex work because of the attention I started getting when I was just leaving school. I got bullied a lot, but that stopped in year 11 because I started to look better, then I started getting more attention from guys.
“I’d never send nudes to anyone but I’d take them just for my own body positivity. I’d occasionally post a Snapchat of me in my underwear, then that would lead to more attention and I realised I had power over people; I could get any kind of attention I want. It grew my confidence. I thought I had a lot of flaws but everyone who buys my stuff genuinely thinks I’m perfect. I moved onto OnlyFans as it’s more legitimate.”
Services like OnlyFans and Admire Me have made sex work safer. Instead of standing on street corners, waiting for a man to come along with no idea of who he is, what is intentions are or what he may do, women can stay safe behind their computer screens, never having to make physical contact with their patrons.
But though their physical safety is maintained, sex workers are now exposed to a world of cyber-bullying, and Meg’s work hasn’t come without consequences:
“I’ve had guys calling me a slag, telling me I’m dirty and disgusting. But I was posting these kinds of pictures on my socials anyway; I just realised people are willing to pay me to see it often.
“My dad found out and he wasn’t happy. He was on the phone to my mum telling her he wants to buy my stuff to see what I was posting, which is very, very weird, but my mum was fine with it. She was surprised at how successful I am with it.
I’m still a person and a job is a job. It doesn’t mean people can speak down to me in a manner where I mean less.”@megtamzinx
“I get a lot of weird messages and a lot of people speak down to me. But, at the end of the day, I’m still a person and a job is a job. It doesn’t mean people can speak down to me in a manner where I mean less.”
But why do men really hate the fact that women are profiting from their sexuality?
It goes without saying that women have been seen as property for as long as time. There are a number of traditions we still use today that symbolise the idea of women being property; we’re ‘given away’ at weddings and constantly asked when we’re planning on ‘settling down.’
Sex work is changing the narrative. And men don’t like it.
By charging men money to look at their bodies, women are taking ownership of their sexualisation.
There’s a certain level of entitlement that comes with a woman’s body. Whether this be the way women are unnecessarily touched in clubs, wolf whistled at from cars when walking down the street or ogled over on the internet. Sex work creates an industry out of the things men have been doing for free.
This entitlement partially stems from the fact that porn is free online. Men feel that being asked to pay for porn is a liberty because they have grown up with a multitude of videos and pictures at their disposal.
Why do men have such a hatred for an industry they created?
“If you do any kind of sex work, men see you as meaningless and just ‘a thing,'” Meg told me.
“I think men have a hatred for sex workers because people think that no-one should ‘sell themselves.’ I’ve heard that men don’t like it because it’s not a ‘real job’ and it’s ‘slaggy’ because you don’t actually put any work in.
“They say it makes you less special as well. They say that people won’t appreciate your body and that you’re not special any more. I think they hate it because they think girls just do it because they’re desperate for money.”
But successful OnlyFans content creators are making enough money per month to live on, so someone must be buying their content.
Regardless of the backlash Meg has received from angry men online, she still has a number of devoted followers who are committed to buying her content.
Meg thinks subscribers are favouring OnlyFans over porn because it’s a more personal experience:
“Men specifically pay for certain sex workers’ content because they’re invested in them. I’ve had people follow me for ages – my old Instagram had 9 thousand followers before it got taken down; you can get to know a sex worker more than anyone on Pornhub. I can do personal requests for my subscribers and base my work on each client. It’s more interaction-involved.”
This is a sentiment echoed by a number of Reddit users who have used online subscription services to access porn:
But further afield from the men who are buying a service from women, there’s a new type of fetish taking over social media.
If you’ve not heard of financial domination before, you might want to look into it because there’s a whole platform of men who are – quite literally – begging you to take their money.
These men – known as ‘paypigs’ – often require little in return for the redistribution of their funds, sometimes just dropping money into the bank accounts of the women dominating them without a spoken word.
When you consider the lack of interaction between the payer and payee, could this even be classed as sex work?
Sex has evolved from the dark ages of ‘do not ever have sex with anyone unless you’re in wedlock and want to reproduce.’ We now see sex as any kind of gratification or satisfaction; examples being things as common as anal and oral sex. Neither of those things are for the purpose of reproduction, but they’re still sex acts and they’re still gratifying.
Financial domination is very much the same.
Okay, there’s no intercourse. There’s no exchange of explicit images or even dirty words in most cases, but for the submissives involved, there is clearly some form of sexual gratification there.
Money is a measure of self-worth to a lot of people. So, the idea of surrendering one’s finances to someone else is a diminishment of human value, resulting in the gratification that comes with domination and degradation.
According to dominatrix Miranda Kane in an article for Metro, the ‘money slaves’ who are willing to dish out their cash get turned on by the idea of losing their power, known as a TPE or Total Power Exchange.
This comes in a whole host of forms online, depending on the submissive.
Some submissives enjoy being sexually threatened or blackmailed for cash by their dommes.
They will give their dommes private information or sexually explicit images. The dommes will then threaten to leak or release the information to the submissive’s friends, family or colleagues if they do not send money, giving them no choice to send cash for fear of their character being brought into disrepute.
In some instances, there isn’t even any information or nudes to leak. Instead, the domme and the submissive roleplay the situation. Dommes will still receive money and submissives will still enjoy the exchange of power, but there is no risk of damning information being leaked, making it safer for the submissive.
For some men, the simple idea of being told they don’t deserve their money is enough.
The more degrading their dommes get, the more likely the submissive is to send her money.
This can stem from a place of low self-esteem or loneliness in which a man lacks contact to such an extent that he’s willing to pay for it; being degraded and manipulated is better than being ignored.
Some ‘clients’ give their dommes complete control of their expenditure, transferring their total monthly earnings over for them to be drip-fed back. Having to beg for their own money is the turn-on for the submissive.
Money is an extremely controlling part of life anyway, so to have it controlled again by someone on the internet is the ideal situation for a submissive looking for a TPE.
For dommes, this can be a more time-consuming and less financially rewarding experience. Rather than being given money to spend, they are being given money to control, which will later end up back in the submissive’s pocket anyway.
For some submissives, there is no contact needed at all. They get off on simply ‘spoiling’ their chosen dommes.
If an attractive woman on Twitter has a PayPal link in her bio, a ‘PayPig’ is likely to seek them out and send them money for something as trivial as tweeting a selfie.
In some instances of gifting in terms of financial domination, the submissives are likely to send more money if their Dommes are spiteful to them.
This is, again, getting pleasure from a lack of control.
Paige Pates is a financial dominatrix from Wales. She explains how she ‘fell into’ financial domination through Twitter, rather than actively seeking a submissive:
No matter what kind of sex work a woman is involved in; whether it be traditional prostitution or financial domination, there is always a risk involved.
Financial Dominatrixes often act anonymously and risk being exposed by their submissives. They fear revealing their identities because of the judgemental attitudes associated with sex work; another reason we need to normalise the industry.
OnlyFans users have been at an increased risk as of late with the threat of their content purchasers leaking their images on social media through screenshots and online hacks of the platform.
This is negatively affecting the industry in more ways than one and is putting content creators, like Meg, in danger.
For some users of OnlyFans, the platform is their only stable source of income. When their content is leaked and put it on public, freely accessible platforms, the value of the images and videos decreases, meaning the income of content creators is taken away.
Not only does leaking these photos diminish the income of those using the platform but it puts them at increased risk of failing potential employability screenings in the future, restricting them from making an income at all.
The boring, overused argument of ‘if they don’t want their nudes leaked, they shouldn’t put them on the internet’ is completely null and void because women should be provided with a safe environment in which they can make a living for themselves. If they’re using their bodies to do so, that’s their business
You wouldn’t tell girls ‘if you don’t want to get raped, don’t go out at night’ so don’t tell sex workers they should expect to have their nudes leaked.
The only way to protect women from the backlash and risk they face from being a part of the sex industry is to recognise sex work as an actual career rather than something to be ashamed of.