The Grooming of Minors: The Real Relations Behind Sex Work
Via Charles Deluvio
Sex work is not always the “girl boss” female empowerment movement that people think it is. Now, this article is not me bashing people who do sex work. In fact, I believe people should do whatever they want with their bodies and actually encourage them to do so; and if that includes using it as a commodity since everything is a commodity under capitalism anyway, I say go ahead! However, this is for the people who romanticize or inaccurately portray sex work in a way that influences minors (especially young girls) to desire to become sex workers as soon as they hit 18 years of age (the legal age in the United States). This leaves them vulnerable to be manipulated and preyed on by older men or anyone willing to take advantage of young people for monetary gain.
The biggest example of this in the modern times of social media is OnlyFans. OnlyFans is a subscription service where content creators can earn income directly from their fans in a variety of ways such as on a monthly basis through subscribers, one-time tips, and pay-per-view. While OnlyFans is not only for sexual content, the platform is unique because it does not restrict sexual content which allows sex workers to make a direct income for their work. The main issue with OnlyFans is the minimum age of entry is 18. There is a big conversation about whether the age should be raised from 18 to 21.
Onlyfans should definitely be 21+ for content creators. No one talks about how predatory sex work is and how TEENS, literally 18-20 get groomed into it. How you fresh out of highschool and the first thing you turn to is sex work. And this is coming from a sw— 𝔟𝔯𝔞𝔱𝔱𝔶 𝔴𝔦𝔱𝔥 𝔡𝔞 𝔣𝔞𝔱𝔱𝔶 (@brattybbyk_) March 29, 2021
According to Rolling Stone, this conversation is not a new one. However, the emergence of OnlyFans has seen it gain popularity. Axel Braun, adult-film director, made headlines in 2013 when he announced he would not cast anyone under the age of 21 in his movies because 18-year-olds are not mature enough to make the decision to enter the adult industry, especially with the potential life-long repercussions. Many 18-year-olds are not thinking about the fact that once they put that content out there, they no longer have control of who views it and what is done with that content.
An excellent example of this is Mia Khalifa’s story. Mia Khalifa is a well-known former porn star who at the age of 21, performed in about a dozen adult films, being in the industry just three months, before exiting. However, she still remains one of the most-watched performers. Mia had no idea what she was signing up for and describes her porn career, that many know her for to this day, as a “brief act of rebellion.” Mia is very vocal about her regrets about getting into porn exposing how the industry preys on young women and the troubles she had finding work after she stopped performing in adult films. She reports that the porn industry “traps women legally into porn contracts when they’re vulnerable.” You can watch Mia’s full interview from 2019 describing her experiences here. Since Mia was 21 at the time and still feels completely violated, that raises questions like how young is too young? How long are young people being groomed? When is a young person fully capable of making the decision to become a sex worker?
Additionally, seeing celebrities boast about their earnings on popular apps like Tiktok, influences young people to start accounts as soon as they hit 18. Former sex-worker Sydney Leathers even told Rolling Stone, “TikTok is an app for kids used by kids, so I don’t think it’s inappropriate for sex workers to promote their OnlyFans on there. I just think it’s a bad look. I don’t have any shame in what I’ve had to do to survive, but I still wouldn’t go up to minors and say, ‘This is how you should make your living.’ I don’t know if young people have the capacity to think about how it can impact things like your future employment.” However, she does not believe raising the entry age is the answer.
Influencers flaunting sex work on Tik-Tok by showing how much money they make can also be dangerous, not just with OnlyFans but other forms of work too. I know whether or not sugar dating/ being a sugar baby is sex work is debated by many people. However, in a TikTok made by Sheena-marie, she makes an excellent point saying, “I hate how sugar babies get on this app and they say ‘I don’t even do anything for the money, he just gives me money to hang out with him.’ Just tell the truth, he’s touching you where you pee. Sex work is real work but stop lying to these young impressional children on this app that you are getting 5,000 to sit and look at some old man who’s lonely. Do what you do but stop promoting it to children.”
In my opinion, raising the legal age may not be the answer. Instead, the answer may lie in being more honest. What is it actually like being a sex worker? Let’s also not influence young people to do sex work. Yes, it is real work but it is not the work for a vulnerable 18-year-old who is more susceptible to being targeted by predators who are counting down the days for minors to create OnlyFans. We also must encourage young people who may be considering sex work to think of the not-so-fun repercussions that come with being involved in this kind of work.