2020 is only several months in and it’s already been an unprecedented year in innumerable ways. For example, we are amidst a global pandemic. Millions across the world are out of work, hundreds of thousands of people have died or are dying, and the economy as we know it is collapsing. However, with all of the tragedy and unforeseen circumstances comes the rebirth of the worlds oldest profession: prostitution.
Prostitution is making a comeback, big time. However, this new golden age of prostitution is not so much in the form of Irl (in real life) sex acts, it is in the form of online sex work via platforms such as Onlyfans and Premium Snapchats. Now more than ever men are participating in the selling of one’s body, and not just on the receiving end of someone else’s, as much of history has dictated.
As millions of unemployed young men and women, particularly millennials, are faced with sudden job loss and no way of knowing when they will be able return to work, many have turned to sex work to make ends meet. The main difference between the young people of today joining the sex-workforce and their forefathers and foremothers, is that the modern day sex worker is able to choose their own hours. These sex workers set their own prices, decide which aspect of sex work suits them best, and do so independently.
While sex work seems like a viable way of making money for the time being during the pandemic, does it have staying power? Will those who have recently joined the sex work industry continue to do so once the pandemic is over and their former jobs comeback into play? Or is it all just a way of getting by and having some fun in the process? To find out what attracted them to the world of online, or irl sex work, I spoke with two dozen young men (18-30) to see if this was a temporary part of their lives amidst a pandemic, or if they plan to stick with it when this has passed.
While speaking with a 28 year old man from Southern California, whom we will refer to as “Dylan R,” he solidified the sentiment that many of the other young men I spoke with had as well: “Sex work is real work, and it’s here to stay.” Dylan has ventured into selling content including photo sets and solo videos of him preforming sex acts on himself. He has also participated in the adult film industry with men and women making digital adult media content. When I asked him if he would continue sex work once the pandemic ends and his job becomes viable again, I was met with an emphatic “hell no!” This sentiment was echoed by all but 2 of the 25 men I spoke with.
One such man, who wished to remain anonymous, had quite the opposite take. He tried his hand at online sex work: doing photo sets and short videos, but quit after a couple of weeks. Not only was it not his cup of tea, it brought forth unexpected negatives he didn’t foresee. He confided that sex work brought out past traumas, insecurities, and emotions he was not prepared for. With every risky, or risqué profession, there is always a chance you must take. That leap into the unknown could have you landing on a pile of roses and cash, or into a thicket of thorns.
While he seems to be in the minority, his views and experiences are shared by many involved in sex work, especially when “doxxing” occurs. A new trend of anti-sex work called doxxing has been growing since the closure of popular sex work platform Backpage. Backpage forced many sex workers out into the open leaving them vulnerable to doxxing by people that view sex work negatively. Despite the threat of being doxxed, many of the men I spoke with took an almost cavalier attitude towards the possibility, retorting that they would dox the doxxer as a customer. There seems to be an equal give and take on both sides of the aisle.
The majority of men I spoke with have made it clear that they agree with legalizing, or at least decriminalizing sex work. Which is echoed by women, intersexed, and non-binary individuals across the globe. Sex work is having its moment. It’s growing in popularity and acceptability. Suffice it to say, sex work is in, and at least for the foreseeable future, it’s here to stay!