Bitcoin could help so many more sex workers find financial freedom if customers are willing to pay in bitcoin.
The adult content platform OnlyFans reportedly plans to stop allowing “sexually explicit” content in October, due to pressure from various banking partners, and instead focus on serving less controversial corners of the “creator economy.” Sex industry experts are generally horrified by the human rights implications of this move, but hardly surprised.
Credit card giants like Mastercard and Visa stopped serving Pornhub in 2020. At both the platform level and the individual level, including sex workers’ personal Venmo and PayPal accounts, the American banking system is systematically working to starve an entire sector of society into submission. Although similar companies like Chaturbate use bitcoin, as well as dollars via credit cards, so far there are no public plans for OnlyFans to switch to using bitcoin as a replacement for traditional services.
One of the primary reasons sex workers don’t rely primarily on bitcoin is that customers rarely pay with bitcoin. (If you own bitcoin, ask yourself, would you be willing to pay a performer directly with your precious satoshis?) Many OnlyFans performers, like findom veteran Allie Eve Knox, already accept bitcoin. However, based on interviews with dozens of sex workers over the past four years, I could count on one hand the number of performers I’ve met with Bitcoiner regulars. In contrast, there are many customers willing to pay for erotic content with credit cards. Bitcoin owners, by comparison, have a higher propensity to save with digital assets rather than spend them.
But there are some bitcoin owners that pay for porn. In 2020, a representative of FanCentro, a website that lets adult film performers sell access to their private social media accounts, told CoinDesk that his platform facilitated “thousands of dollars” worth of bitcoin transactions for erotic videos. If bitcoin owners vote with their wallets and show the world that people can’t be kicked out of the entire financial system simply to enforce political correctness, then sex workers will regularly utilize bitcoin as a cypherpunk tool for lawful censorship resistance. (Selling sexual content is a perfectly legal job.)There are roughly one million creators on OnlyFans, the majority of which are women in the sex industry. Paying women in bitcoin is the most direct, actionable way that any porn consumer can promote social justice. (And let's be honest, if you’re reading this, you’ve probably watched porn.)
Performers who manage their own payments directly have more control over their own safety. There are no risky strangers on the street, and no studios or managers to pressure performers into anything they don’t want to do. It’s important to recall that strip clubs and studios that make sexy music videos aren’t facing such scrutiny from banks. Women can still sell sex through corporations. It’s self-ownership that the banking system finds so threatening, the ability to create and distribute one’s own content.
There is only one way for OnlyFans performers to switch to using bitcoin. If Bitcoiners connect with their favorite performers, treat them like people rather than faceless bodies for free consumption, and figure out how to send them bitcoin, then it makes economic sense for the adult industry to deal with the hassle of bitcoin payments infrastructure.
It’s simple. Most performers have websites with contact forms or ways to contact them on social media. If you can’t already find a bitcoin option, ask for it.
Women fighting to earn money in the way they choose, and spend it the way they choose, is one of the quintessential human rights struggles of our generation. (Remember that many American women couldn’t open a credit card in their own names until 1974 because, until the Equal Credit Opportunity Act passed, many banks would only grant credit cards to women with their husbands' approval and would refuse to grant them to unmarried women.) This shift to direct bitcoin payments could be the start of a new sexual revolution.
Isn’t that the whole point of Bitcoin? To make our own choices? Your credit card company and bank may not approve of this type of free speech. But if you do, find a way to try paying for porn with bitcoin. See for yourself. The possibilities are limitless.
Correction: This article originally indicated that American women were refused their own bank accounts until 1974. It has been updated to reflect that American women commonly refused their own credit cards.