Perhaps someone needs to ask Jerome Powell during his next congressional testimony: What kind of a recession are we in when women can't even successfully sell nude photos online anymore?
Such is the case for a number of women who, the midst of trying to earn money during the pandemic, have turned to OnlyFans to try and sell explicit photos of themselves. Many of these women are still struggling, despite their extra "efforts", according to the New York Times, who profiled several new creators who have taken to the platform to "provide for themselves and their families".
The NYT claims the pandemic has taken "a particularly devastating toll on women and mothers" because the pandemic has "wiped out" industries like restaurants and healthcare, where women "dominate".
Angela Jones, an associate professor of sociology at the State University of New York at Farmingdale, said: “A lot of people are migrating to OnlyFans out of desperation. These are people who are worried about eating, they’re worried about keeping the lights on, they’re worried about not being evicted.”
One of these creators was Lexi Eixenberger, who started an account in November. The 22 year old has been laid off three times during the pandemic and was forced to drop out of dental hygiene school. She has only made about $500 from the platform so far.
Jones said of the platform: “It is already an incredibly saturated market. The idea that people are just going to open up an OnlyFans account and start raking in the dough is really misguided.”
The biggest successes on the platform are "often models, porn stars and celebrities who already have large social media followings," the NYT says. They are able to use their other social media accounts as a funnel for business on OnlyFans.
One success story has been Savannah Benavidez, who has made $64,000 in just 6 months. She quit her job as a medical biller after her 2 year old son's day care shut down and she needed to stay home and take care of him.
She told The Times: “It’s more money than I have ever made in any job. I have more money than I know what to do with.”
“It’s a full-time job on top of your full-time job looking for work. Fans want to see you posting daily. You’re always churning. You’re always taking pictures to post,” said 36 year old Elle Morocco of West Palm Beach. She joined the platform after being laid off as an office manager this past July.
She has only made $250 on the platform so far, despite sometimes spending up to 8 hours a day managing her account.
She also worries about what OnlyFans could do to her future job prospects. She said: “If you’re looking for a 9 to 5, they might not hire you if they find out you have an OnlyFans. They may not want you if they know you’re a sex worker.”
The Times cited two examples - one of a mechanic in Indiana and the other of a NYC medic - who both believed their OnlyFans account had negative consequences for their full-time jobs.
Melany Hall, another creator, said she was happy to have made $700 on the platform since December. She said: “This is the first year I didn’t have to choose between the electric bill and Christmas presents for my kids. This is the first year I’ve been able to do it all by myself.”
But Barb Brents, a professor of sociology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said there are risks that go along with sex work - despite it happening on a virtual platform. “Online sex work is a much more appealing alternative to many people than going on the streets or selling direct sexual services. That said, anybody getting into this kind of work needs to be aware that there are dangers,” she said.
Creators also have to deal with members posting their exclusive content elsewhere on the web - and some have even faced death and rape threats, the article notes.
OnlyFans currently has 90 million users and more than 1 million content creators. The platform takes a 20% cut of any pay that creators get, excluding tips that creators can get on other payment platforms.