Stop Joking About Starting An OnlyFans
Updated: Oct 31, 2022
"Ugh, I don't want to go to work today, maybe I'll just start an OnlyFans."
"Want to go to this show - gonna need to sell feet pics to afford the tickets lmao."
We've all heard some variation of this joke. You know the one - someone doesn't want to do work or needs some quick money so they make a joke about turning to online porn.
Getting into the adult industry in any capacity isn't just some quick and easy cash grab that anyone could do. It's hard work - it requires a lot of discipline, creativity, ingenuity, tech skills, marketing savvy, and mental fortitude. It's yet another way that sex work gets looked down on, and never taken seriously as "a real job".
Despite doing this job full-time for nearly a year, I still get asked what "my real job is" or if I'd ever get "a real job" again. By which they usually mean an office job. But why is sex work not viewed as a viable option? In fact, I recently had someone tell me that I clearly was learning all kinds of great skills "that could be put to better use in other industries."
But I've worked in other industries; I've done retail, I've done events, I've done fundraising, I've done communications. Nothing has ever meant as much to me as sex work. Nothing has ever made me feel as excited to get out of bed and do my job like sex work. I've also never put so much of myself and individual effort into a job before.
So when you make jokes about starting an OnlyFans, know that it disregards the efforts many creators put into their pages and brands, and continues to devalue sex workers' skills. You're also making sex workers - an already marginalized and stigmatized community - the butt of the joke. Why punch down? What do you gain by joking about getting into sex work only to then follow it up with "lol jk, I would never."
I've also seen variations of this, where instead of making a joke about starting an OnlyFans for some quick money, people instead use "I just started an OnlyFans, check the link" as click-bait for some other endeavour - the latest I've seen being an album launch. The irony, of course, being that creators who actually have an OnlyFans or other subscription sites often get banned for simply typing the word OnlyFans into their bios or posts - an issue I've already talked about at length. So social media users can joke about creating OnlyFans accounts for clicks, but creators who genuinely try to promote their work pages get deplatformed. It's absolutely enraging as someone who constantly lives in fear of my Instagram getting banned a second time with every community guideline violation that comes in.
There's also a sense with these bait-and-switch tactics, to me, of being a "gotcha" to fans or followers who would want to subscribe to someone if they did legitimately start a subscription page; like a subtle shaming of those who click on the link hoping to subscribe. I've seen people be made fun of for supporting sex workers and paying for porn as if it's some kind of scam, which, again, discredits the amount of work put in by creators, especially smaller creators who are a one-person shop. This once again feeds into the overall stigma attached with sex work - by fooling or making fun of those who support sex workers, you're perpetuating the idea that sex work is something shameful that shouldn't be publicly acknowledged. You're making those who rightfully pay for their porn feel foolish or ashamed for getting their hopes up that you were going to begin providing adult content. Hell, even I've been fooled by seeing these announcements and feeling genuinely excited that a friend has decided to get involved in sex work and wanting to support them, only to then be disappointed when I realize they're just announcing it as a joke.
It's always especially hurtful when it's a friend of mine, because despite OnlyFans becoming a household name, you learn quickly that, even if people you know are pro-SW, they still aren't "pro" enough to actually support you in the ways they would other entrepreneurs or self-employed friends. Most of my real life friends don't follow my work social media even though I use it more than my personal accounts. I don't post any nudity or any explicit content and have even done multiple call outs asking for friends to support and follow me on my socials, but only a few do. And I know it's because they don't want the stigma attached of following/supporting a sex worker. They'll support from a distance, but they won't actually take that extra step to share when I have sales, or are looking for new followers, etc. and it's once again because not only is it viewed as shameful to be a sex worker, the stigma even carries over to those who support them. It's viewed as crude and unprofessional to even follow porn accounts on Twitter, to the point where entire political campaigns have failed due to Twitter activity.
The OnlyFans Jokes not only devalue the hard work put in by creators, but it also ignores the very real stigmas associated with the industry. It's not just an easy way to make a quick buck, sex workers deal with so much bullshit from all sides - from work-specific issues with subscribers and clients to issues with real estate agents or landlords to banks and lenders to border patrol agents (speaking from experience) to interpersonal issues with potential partners, family, and friends.
These jokes about making a quick buck or tricking people into thinking you're starting an OnlyFans makes it seem like it's easy money with little to no consequences. As much as I absolutely love this job and wouldn't trade it for anything in the world, it's not without its downsides. I've had at least six friends start an OnlyFans only to quit after a few months because they weren't seeing any momentum, even despite putting the work in. It's not an industry that's for the faint of heart. And that's another issue with these jokes - it makes it seem like it's such an easy job that anyone could do it. So when people try, and don't see the results they wanted, they assume that it's because there's something wrong with them, when really, it's just that it's a hard (and oversaturated!) industry to break into.
So, let's summarize: these jokes are insulting to established creators who work their asses off to be successful, it makes potential subscribers feel ashamed or duped, and it makes less successful creators feel like they're failures because apparently it should be so easy. So what exactly is gained by these jokes?
Stop. Telling. Them.