Sex Work Should Be Treated Like Any Other Profession And Isolation Has Proved It
While people all over the world are locked away indoors in a bid to prevent the spread of coronavirus, many are tasked with finding ways to entertain themselves within the confines of their own home.
Some people are doing home workouts with the help of online fitness gurus, while others have resorted to challenging their housemates to board games to pass the hours.
But here in the UK and all over the world, thousands of people are turning to pornography and adult content to see them through the long – and sometimes quite lonely – days of quarantine.
While physical interaction with others comes to a halt (social distancing – two metres apart at all times, please), subscriptions to adult content sites such as OnlyFans are soaring.
And yet, despite the demand for sexual content being higher than ever before, the respect for those who are out there providing the content is somewhat lacking.
‘There’s just so much discrimination against sex workers and sex work, more than any other industry, because people just don’t think it’s a real job,’ adult content creator Elysia Nicole told UNILAD.
Elysia is one of thousands of sex workers in the UK who make a living from cam work and creating content for OnlyFans subscribers, however she says people don’t see what she does as a real profession because of a ‘lack of education of understanding what really goes into it’.
It was September 2018 after she lost her job as a fashion photographer that Elysia first delved into creating adult content, and living in a rural area the mum-of-one found it difficult to find more work in her profession.
While she says it was initially financially motivated, turning to cam work and OnlyFans immediately got Elysia out of the tough situation she found herself in without work.
‘I managed to make £700 in my first week and £700 the week after, and it immediately gave me the financial security that I don’t think many other situations would have – that was one of my main motivations for doing it,’ the model recalled.
‘I was in a position where I’ve got a young son and I was going to lose my home [as] I couldn’t pay my rent. That was my main reason for going into it, and I know that it can always provide the amount that I need to survive.’
There’s no denying that sex sells, and while humans are still alive there will always be a demand for sexual content. So why is there such a lack of respect for those who are out there supplying it? Self-employed writers produce content for those of us who like to read, and self-employed bakers make cakes for those of us in need of a sweet treat.
And yet we live in a world where people – predominantly women – are oversexualised without consent, but are criticised when they decide to profit from it.
‘Ultimately, I think I’m providing a service and I’m being paid for my time and skills, which I think is no different from any other kind of self-employed job that I’ve had,’ Elysia said.
‘Obviously there’s a lot of that that goes into it beyond the end product. I also have to do my own marketing and my own accounting because we do have to pay tax – for some reason people think that sex workers don’t need to pay tax!’
She added: ‘There’s a lot that goes into it and it can be a demanding, and at times dangerous, job. And to presume that it doesn’t take any effort and that it’s not real work is quite insulting for the men, women and everybody in between who put their time and effort into making a living from this.’
The sooner we see sex work as a valuable profession – as we do with other self-employed workers – the sooner we can work towards creating a safer environment for those working in the industry.
‘There are dangerous aspects to sex work, and I think to have it recognised as a profession and therefore having an organisation that represent you and help you in some way would be a very necessary component,’ Elysia said.
While Elysia is part of an agency, which she says is very helpful, she believes having some sort of governing body over the industry would help reduce the unnecessary violence that can be involved in sex work. Although her work is from the comfort of her own home, Elysia would like to see the introduction of some kind of booking system to protect those who do go out to meet clients.
‘I suppose the most dangerous part of the job would be if you were meeting someone on the street without any previous contact with them so there’s no history of it, you could just disappear and nobody would know,’ she said.
‘But, for example, if you had met this person online and there was some kind of evidence and proof of who you were meeting, and perhaps they would have to be verified so you know that they’re safe and other escorts being able to rate them and say if they’ve had a bad experience with that person. That kind of thing; so you know who you’re going to feel safest with.’
As social media evolves, we are starting to see a shift in the way that people view sex work, particularly as sites like OnlyFans continue to grow, but we’ve got a hell of a long way to go before the industry is given the recognition it deserves.
Despite people telling her it isn’t a ‘proper job’, Elysia has no plans to stop doing sex work anytime soon.
‘I’m sort of just going with the flow. It does provide a lot of freedom and flexibility – that’s one of the huge perks to it. Obviously there’s some downsides as well, but I think I’ve got quite a nice balance between work and home life right now so there’s really no need for me do anything else.’
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