Last month the sex-worker rights activist who coined the term ‘Sex-Work’, Carol Leigh, passed away at aged 71. In her seminal 1979 essay ‘Inventing Sex-Work’ she argued that using the term was a way to acknowledge the time, resources, and emotional labour that the profession demanded. Since then, the industry has evolved into an increasingly digital space – complicating the relationship between performer, practise, and client further.
The emergence of sites like OnlyFans bring new risks and opportunities for sex-workers as there is now a desire to gain access to parts of a performer’s life that aren’t inherently sexual, often through social media. OnlyFans has also become a particularly significant channel for the queer community where performers have greater creative control and can work on their own schedules. In doing so, spaces that celebrate marginalised bodies, sexualities, and voices have become more accessible.
Evidently, paying the sex-workers whose content you admire is important and there should be no shame in that. From nude modelling on Instagram to viewing high-production pornography, the most ethical way to enjoy sexual content is to be a customer and not just a consumer. To disengage from the politics of sex-work while enjoying a creator’s content is to contribute to the exploitation that gave Sex-Work a bad name in the first place.