Rise in Virtual Sex Work Fueled by COVID-19

Not even a global pandemic can interrupt the supply and demand of sex work (SW). While the jobs of full-service sex workers (also called prostitutes or hookers, which not everyone considers appropriate terms) and strippers have been impacted greatly, online mediums are seeing an abnormal surge in popularity. Both experienced SW’ers and amateurs are flocking to these sites to work. Social distancing and working/learning at home has created an increased demand for sexual videography and photography content. There may also be other influencing factors making online SW more mainstream and less taboo.

SW takes on many different digital forms. One of the most popular and mainstream sites in this sphere, OnlyFans, has seen a spark in usage due to not only the current global health situation, but also because of a mention in a recent Beyoncé remix. OFs is a subscription-based content sharing platform that allows for adult content. This site, created in 2016, currently has over 30 million registered users and almost half a million content creators.

I recently saw a screenshot of a post on the sarcastically titled Facebook group, “Hurry Ladies, While He’s Still Single,” that I feel adds an interesting prospective to this conversation. (P.S. – If you love to cringe at ignorant cis men, this is the group for you!) In the screenshot, an unidentified individual posted a status saying, “Girls in highschool [sic] used to cry when their nudes got leaked, now it’s $5.99 for 10 videos.” A woman commented in rebuttal, “*Girls in highschool [sic] used to cry when their nudes were posted by people they trusted to anonymous password protected sites and traded like playing cards without their consent, now they profit off a system designed to leave them out and guys are mad about it.” While I do love the last part of her statement, I feel that it is a bit wrong to compare a non-consensual private photo sharing situation to a way that someone earns a living.

NYC Pride Parade 2011

OnlyFans isn’t the only platform for SW that has been booming lately. Cam sites and phone sex services are also seeing a spike in signups on both the customer and creator sides. Some of the most popular adult cam sites right now are CamSoda, Chaturbate, and Jerkmate. The models on these sites are able to perform any acts (within the rules) that they are comfortable with from the safety of their own homes while earning money. This also provides them with protection and optional anonymity that would not be possible in person. Phone sex operators (PSOs) are also very busy now due to the pandemic. A few of the most notable phone sex hubs are NiteFlirt, Arousr, and TalkToMe. (WARNING: Sites named and linked article above may contain pornographic content on their homepages!)

Do you recall a few years ago when “premium snapchat” accounts were popular and women (men, and nonbinary people) were shamed if it was discovered they had one? Now, I am very pleased to see an increased trend of SW’ers promoting themselves freely. I have lost count of the number of people I went to high school with that are sharing their subscription-based services on their personal social media… AND I LOVE IT!

Remember, sex work IS “real work,” regardless of your personal opinion or feelings about it.

Let’s stand with and destigmatize sex workers! They work hard and pay their taxes too. 😉

4 thoughts on “Rise in Virtual Sex Work Fueled by COVID-19

  1. This is such an interesting impact of the COVID-19 pandemic – do you think the boom will help or hurt in the effort to de-stigmatize SW?


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