according to pundits, amateur porn is our new safety net

As the pandemic reveals more and more weaknesses in the economy, more people are turning to creating homemade porn. What will happen to them when the pandemic ends?
risque photo shoot

If you ever wanted to try your hand at porn, there’s no time like the present. No, really. With an awful lot of bored, homebound people trying to wait out the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for sex workers’ offerings is going through the roof, and with tens of millions losing their jobs, the interest in trying to meet that demand is just as high. Over 150,000 users every day are creating brand new profiles on OnlyFans, a site popular with online sex workers. There are virtual strip clubs. And, amazingly, you can even pay dominatrixes in Animal Crossing, the saccharine game seemingly designed to trigger cute aggression. But before you run off to drop trou for fame and fortune, there are a few things to consider.

First and foremost, let’s consider why amateur porn is such a big deal right now. Yes, as already noted, hundreds of millions are marooned at home and are feeling frustrated thanks to a novel disease sweeping the planet. But there’s another dynamic at play here as well. For years now, a lot of jobs have been rather precarious and the freelance economy of the past decade has been a socioeconomic regression for many at a time we needed some real forward thinking. People are used to looking every potential hobby or even recreational activity as a revenue stream to help make ends meet. Technology and social media make it easier than ever to try your luck at fame and fortune. And almost everyone has an HD camera handy.

Now, you could say to those deciding to supplement their incomes with professionally baring it all that they should try their luck with delivery services. But odds are, they’re probably already on these platforms, making deliveries during the day and risking exposure to people who think wearing masks and washing their hands is a liberal conspiracy. By contrast, sitting home and taking nude pictures and videos seems downright safe and pleasant, so quite a few seem to have taken jokes about selling nudes after looking at their rapidly dwindling bank accounts to heart. Yes, there will be the occasional rude fans, but it beats dealing with Karens suffering from severe quarantine rage you can’t block with a click.

the real problems with bearing it all for cash

It’s usually at this point when internet pundits jump in and proclaim sex work the new driving for Uber and hinting that for yet another stream of passive income, you should be investing in a glow up and practicing your o-face for the soon-to-appear legions of horny fans. But that’s the fantasy. The reality, according to sex workers, is rather different. One of the reasons why they think robots could never do their job is because only a part of what they do involves nudity and sex. Most of the job is entertaining and providing a sort of therapy. If you want to become the next big-name adult star, you will be running your own business and doing a lot of specialized customer service and brand building.

Porn, like any entertainment career, is what economists call a tournament job. You have to have real talent, luck, and determination to reap significant rewards, so any effort to make a full time living at it in an extremely saturated environment requires constant posts on as many platforms as possible. You’ll have to be everywhere for strangers who know nothing about you and couldn’t possibly care less about your goals to even consider giving you a look. It may take a long time and significant investment to start seeing stable, steady returns from your efforts. There may be more money and attention to go around, but there’s also more competition for it than ever before as well.

Statistically, it’s very likely that the vast majority of aspiring new performers will fail and then try to scrub their nudes from the web because discrimination against sex workers is alive and well, and it may cost them a future job even though that discrimination is based on ignorant, false, and woefully outdated stereotypes. While younger generations may be more accepting, despite actually being more buttoned down when it comes to sex, the typically older managers and executives will be far more likely to abuse any evidence of one’s attempts at online porn stardom. Even if you expect nothing and just want to try your luck, you may still be let down years down the road.

will economic apathy lead to semi-voluntary sex work?

However, the bigger problem in all this is the air of desperation and feeling that hobbies or even an otherwise private recreational activity that could be monetized in any way should be because the future looks so uncertain and bleak, and everyone but the top quintile in North America is falling behind thanks to stagnant wages and runaway costs of living. It’s perfectly fine to want to be a sex worker because you genuinely enjoy it. We also can’t dismiss how many sex workers have health issues that make it harder to keep a more routine job and genuinely love what they do or are part of a marginalized group for whom this ended up being a decent, steady job. But that’s not what we’re talking about.

We’re talking about people who’ve been let down by an economic safety net maliciously and purposefully designed to have massive holes by those who believe that financial problems are just a symptom of moral failing. If we consider that the COVID-19 is like a stress test for modern economies and they’re doing quite poorly under the strain, it’s entirely possible that once the pandemic is finally under control with a vaccine and proven treatment, we may still be reading about legions of aspiring adult performers furiously competing with each other to pay the bills because their existing jobs just aren’t enough. This new blip on the radar may well turn into a trend unless things start to quickly and fundamentally change.

Hopefully, as so many try to dabble in sex work and realize that it’s a job and requires both real effort and business savvy, our culture will start being more accepting of those who managed to succeed in this profession and those who honestly want to try it. At the same time, however, we don’t want to become comfortable with the fact that we’re so slow in creating jobs of the future and the training for them that people facing economic turmoil are ready to try literally anything to stay financially afloat. Proposed plans for a universal basic income would help, as confirmed by a new study from Finland, but it’s still just a placeholder in the long term. They need and deserve real solutions and real options.

# sex // adult entertainment / asexuality / gig economy


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