Has Bella Thorne 'f**ked up' OnlyFans for sex workers by 'gentrifying' the erotic content site?

Since Thorne has hopped onto the site, sex workers have been facing various issues with their own accounts, especially after OnlyFans revised its terms of service to include caps and hold on the payment


                            Has Bella Thorne 'f**ked up' OnlyFans for sex workers by 'gentrifying' the erotic content site?
(Getty Images)

The coronavirus outbreak saw the adult industry ceasing all operations, and the federal mandate for businesses to shut down left the adult entertainers and sex workers out of a job for the time being. Many turned to an alternative platform as a means of making a potential income and the said platform saw an instantaneous hike in subscriptions and content creators earlier this year. OnlyFans, a content-creating platform that has been around since 2016, has steadily drawn creators and subscribers but has been significantly used by sex workers to make money. According to the Rolling Stone, the platform has seen a surge in membership since March, with a 75 percent increase per month in sign-ups. 

The online interface, coupled with its subscription-based format, enables sex-workers and adult entertainers to have more control of their earnings without having to do in-person work. For a widely marginalized group of people who have had a difficult time procuring their basic necessities during this crisis and with little to no help from the federal government, OnlyFans has proven to be an effective means of making a livelihood. But that too has recently been jeopardized with celebrities turning to the platform for the monetary benefits it would give them.

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And the recent celebrity to jump on this bandwagon is actress and adult film director, Bella Thorne, who has managed to raise the ire of the not just sex workers and the Internet for her insensitivity, but most of all for “gentrifying” the platform. Aussie Rachel, a sex worker and OnlyFans content creator, told Rolling Stone, “To witness a celebrity gentrifying a platform and making obscene amounts of money without acknowledging the plight of sex workers is truly a slap in the face.”

“I finally got caught up on Bella Thorne/ Only Fans, and a white Disney star and still *working* actress f**ked up a platform that allowed sex workers to earn safely and with autonomy is basically THE snapshot of WW coopting spaces for the marginalized in the name of empowerment,” a user wrote on Twitter.



 

“The issue with Bella Thorne benefiting from OF is that she's not a sex worker and doesn't need to turn to this site to afford to live when so many of us rely on this money and she's totally f**king us for clout for her s**tty new movie about sex work when she has no f**king idea,” another added.



 

A third tweeted: “Is no one gonna talk about how Bella Thorne f**ked up OnlyFans for the rest of us? She scammed a bunch of ppl and OnlyFans now has all these restrictions that prevents us from making as much money & I’ll stay mad about it.”



 

“I'm sure she's a nice lady but that doesn't take away the fact MILLIONS of us now are screwed. MOTHERS who relied on that one week pay to feed their kids, DADS looking to make a little extra money for his family. now due to her scam / "mistake".. THOUSANDS will suffer,” another rankled user said in tweet.



 

Thorne features in the growing list of celebrities who joined the erotic content platform amid the pandemic, including Cardi B, Swae Lee, and Tana Mongeau. Most of these celebrities do not intend to post any erotic content on the site, yet they are basking in its financial spoils as sex workers who have been regularly posting content are struggling to make money with pay-per-view erotic content. Thorne joined the platform on August 19 and raked in $1 million in less than 24 hours by selling exclusive content. By the end of the week, she had made more than $2 million in OnlyFans earnings. Many have opined how this just goes to show that celebrities are capitalizing on the success of the long and arduous efforts fo sex workers who have had to strive to get to where they are. 

Her achievement on OnlyFans has undermined sex workers, who have been using the platform for years. Since Thorne has hopped onto the site, sex workers have been facing various issues with their own accounts, especially after OnlyFans revised its terms of service to include caps and hold on the payment. They found that their accounts have been frozen, subscribers have been refunded after already accessing their content, and real sex-workers are getting kicked out of the site (although OnlyFans has previously denied this, per a Rolling Stone article) as it is attempting to extract itself from its sex work roots.

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Thorne is not a sex worker, but many have been deeming her a culture vulture for supposedly mentioning to the Los Angeles Times that she joined the site to research a role for an upcoming film directed by Sean Baker. The filmmaker, who is known for directing the 2015 film 'Tangerine', has reportedly denied the claims of a collaboration that could “focus on her life and the circumstances leading to her joining OnlyFans.” He told the LA Times, “I advised her team to consult with sex workers and address the way she went about this as to NOT hurt the sex work industry. This has been the extent of my involvement." He added, “I am an ally and have literally devoted my career to tell stories that remove stigma and normalize lifestyles that are under attack. I would never do anything that could possibly hurt the community.”

Others have accused her of mining the wealth of the creativity that this community generates. Thorne has some experience in the adult industry, in that, she helmed an NSFW film that appeared on Pornhub in 2019. But her comment about her membership being for research purposes shows that she is here on a temporary basis, but has still managed to shake the OnlyFans community with her recent earnings. The downside of it all is that when she decides to leave, unscathed for it will not personally affect her in any way, sex-workers will have a hard time finding their place on the site, yet again. In turn, this could also hone a culture of gentrification. Despite already having the resources and money to make and produce any type of content, Thorne resorted to the one site for money-making that has been a lifeline for sex-workers. Content creators on OnlyFans act as content creators: photographers, marketers, social media managers, accountants, tech support, and everything else in between, which is grueling work.

Bella Thorne attends the 28th Annual Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards Viewing Party sponsored by IMDb, Neuro Drinks and Walmart on February 09, 2020 in West Hollywood, California (Getty Images)

In response to the criticism, Thorne took to Twitter on August 29 to issue an apology and explain her intentions for joining the platform as a way to “remove the stigma behind sex, sex work, and the negativity that surrounds the word SEX itself by bringing a mainstream face to it.” She went on to add that, “I wanted to bring attention to the site, the more people on the site the more likely of a chance to normalize the stigmas, And in trying to do this I hurt you. I have risked my career a few times to remove the stigma behind sex work, porn, and the natural hatred people spew...”



 

 



 

“Behind anything sex related. I wrote and directed a porn against the high brows of my peers and managers because I WANTED to help with the stigma behind sex," she continued in her thread. “..I am a mainstream face and when you have a voice, a platform, you try to use you in helping others and advocate for something bigger than yourself. Again in this process I hurt you and for that I’m truly sorry.”



 

 



 

Thorne also said she is meeting with OnlyFans executives to discuss the site's new terms of service and restrictions: “Ps. I’m meeting with only fans about the new restrictions to find out why!!! This is f**ked up and I’m sorry comment any ideas or concerns you want brought up to OF!! and send me your links and a pic so I can promote you guys.”



 

OnlyFans became the platform that redistributed the wealth back to the sex workers that the adult industry has been exploiting for those who want to view pornography for free. Now the unsettling perception that posting nudes on OnlyFans is an advantageous way to make quick money could continue to feed into the cultural misogyny, social backlash, and shaming and also adds to the stigma surrounding sex work.

Disclaimer : This is based on sources and we have been unable to verify this information independently.