Internet | August 12, 2020 10:15 am

Why Cardi B’s OnlyFans Foray Could Be Bad News for Sex Workers

As stars like Cardi B cement OnlyFans' mainstream status, where does that leave the sex workers who made the platform what it is today?

cardi b
Cardi B is on OnlyFans now, but where does that leave the sex workers who were there first?
Prince Williams/Wireimage

Cardi B, of recent “WAP” infamy, just launched an OnlyFans account. But before you get too excited, it’s probably not what you think.

If you know anything about OnlyFans, you probably associate it, to some degree or another, with sex. But while the subscription platform has become best known as a hub for sex workers to share and profit from explicit content, OnlyFans has always billed itself simply as a platform where content creators of all kinds can earn money from subscribers.

Cardi B’s new OnlyFans account would seem to fall into the latter, more general category. According to a press release, the artist’s account will be used to “release behind-the-scenes content, address ongoing rumors, share glimpses into her personal life, connect closer with her fans,” and more.

While this doesn’t strictly preclude the possibility of erotic content — “glimpses into her personal life” sounds potentially suggestive — the general understanding of Cardi B’s OnlyFans debut seems to be that she’s the latest in a string of celebs and high-profile influencers to join the platform to monetize non-erotic content.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing — the platform is open to creators of all kinds — but as OnlyFans increasingly enters the mainstream thanks to attention from celebrities like Cardi B and Beyoncé, the sex workers largely responsible for making OnlyFans the recognizable name it is today may find themselves pushed off the site.

As big-name celebs continue to flock to OnlyFans, sex workers fear it may go the way of many a platform before it and eventually cease to be a safe space for erotic content. Legislation like SESTA/FOSTA has encouraged  many online platforms to crack down on sexual content in recent years, making it increasingly difficult for sex workers to find a safe online environment to build their careers. Back in May, various sex workers selling their content on OnlyFans told Rolling Stone‘s E.J. Dickson they already feared they were getting banned from the site that once welcomed them.

Meanwhile, even if celebrities like Cardi B do choose to contribute to the site’s catalogue of erotic content instead of participating in the feared sanitization of OnlyFans, that kind of high-profile presence could still spell bad news for sex workers on the platform who fear getting overshadowed by big-name stars.

“It’s a common reality that sex workers popularize platforms only to then be forced out when the platforms reach a level of mass popularity,” professional dominatrix and sex educator Mistress Eva Oh told InsideHook back in May.

“I don’t see how celebrity presence on the platform does anything to support sex work except for bringing in more (but potentially irrelevant) traffic until sex workers get kicked off,” she said. “The concept of celebrity is essentially about overshadowing others, isn’t it?”


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