In Part 1 of this article, we explored how the adult entertainment industry has evolved since the birth of the Internet. We saw that control of the business has shifted from male-run ‘production houses’ to female entertainers, working autonomously, often from home, with very low personal overheads.
Here in Part 2, we’re going to focus on some specific good, bad and ugly consequences of the new situation.
BETTER BEHAVIOUR AMONG HIRERS
The de-centralisation of adult entertainment has broken down a lot of the malign power within the industry’s hire market.
Women are under much less pressure to tolerate borderline or actual abuse from control-freak producers or bosses, and serious hiring companies know that. If adult businesses want to hold onto high-earning models in 2019, they have to treat them with decorum at the very least. A popular model is not going to work for control-freaks when she can go off and earn of her own accord, without having to invest or make any financial commitment.
And the zero-investment sales platforms described in Part 1 are not just saving sole-trading entertainers money on advertising, website setup/running fees and equipment purchase. Independent traders don’t need agents either, and that’s a major consideration.
In the days when entertainers more typically needed to be hired by ‘middlemen’, it was common for an agent to be involved – securing the work, negotiating the rates and taking a percentage. Agents could also have disciplinary regimes, so models who failed to show for an engagement, whatever the reason, may incur a penalty from both hirer and agent. It’s a lot of baggage, which de-centralisation has removed.
Moving down to the entry level, de-centralisation has given women en masse an immediate, ‘no questions asked’ route out of ‘conventional’ work. Particularly among women with social or self-esteem issues, anxieties, and other challenges neither employers nor benefit systems will accommodate, there’s been a stampede towards adult service work.
As well as the more obvious reasons for needing to work from home, one driving factor in the stampede has been the unavoidable social stress and self-esteem diminution in ‘standard’ labour markets. True, an autonomous adult provider still experiences social stress, but she can normally resolve it. In a typical ‘labour market’ role, social stress cannot be resolved, for the following reasons…
- The employee is not at liberty to reject trade or customer interactions.
- The employee must appease the management.
- The employee must appease the customer.
- The wants of the customer and the management rotinely conflict and contradict each other.
This list could run and run, but it’s already clear that social stress is built in as a native property of the system and is impossible to avoid. For people who have anxieties, this type of situation is excruciating, and any self-esteem vulnerabilities will inevitably be aggravated, because that’s what happens when sufferers are placed in a no-win situation.
Dealing with perverts may frequently present undesirable situations, but online at least, it houses an instant escape hatch which just doesn’t exist in ‘conventional’ employment. An autonomous adult provider can instantly block an annoying or unreasonable customer, without explanation, and never speak to him again. There’s no inquisition or disciplinary hearing for her to face, and she still has a job tomorrow.
Also, autonomous adult providers set their own customer expectations threshold. If a customer expects more than the provider wants to deliver, or he’s annoying, or he’s difficult, she simply withdraws his access and/or renders him non-existent. That clause is literally life-changing for someone with anxiety or related issues.
A very significant proportion of today’s adult providers have issues with anxiety, self-esteem, or similar challenges which make the social stress and relentless mental negativity of ‘conventional’ employment unbearable. That’s no coincidence.
THE GOOD WITH CAVEAT
Typical rates of pay per hour of service are vastly better in adult work than in ‘conventional’ work. And ‘tips’ can be huge on occasion.
However, adult providers obviously don’t get paid for the time they spend on publicity, and most low profile entertainers will spend more time on publicity than providing a service. It’s extremely competitive, and some traders have said they dedicate a full working week to promotion alone. That’s a lot of time to spend doing unpaid work.
£150 per hour may sound fantastic, but if a trader has to spend nine hours prospecting for enough service to fill that hour, it’s really £15 per hour. So an entertainer’s real terms rate per hour is determined, in large part, by the amount of time she needs to spend publicising and selling her services.
This is why ‘middlemen’ are still in business. Entertainers who work for well-established ‘middlemen’ don’t have to spend anywhere near as much time marketing. Most of the publicity is taken care of, so all the entertainer has to think about is the actual paid work. The ‘middleman’s publicity may also raise the model’s own profile, which over time makes her less and less dependent on him. Additionally, as the model’s profile rises, fans are likely to start doing her publicity work for her, for free – in the hope of winning her approval, her friendship, or more. That makes her self-promotion task exponentially easier.
THE RABBIT IN HEADLIGHTS EFFECT
The most obvious problem with the de-centralised adult business is the lack of training and knowledge-transfer at the point of entry. Every day, brand new traders are arriving in an environment they know nothing about, beyond perhaps what they read in a magazine article called “This Woman Makes £100,000 a Year Laughing at Men!“.
Newbies inducted into the environment by articles such as that, are at very high risk of being scammed by sexual or financial fraudsters. Some risk even more serious consequences, such as physical harm, if they’re baited into offline meets.
They also, through unawareness, frequently end up breaking the law themselves, and may spread messages or content which violate(s) or endanger(s) other people. Many newcomers don’t, for example, understand privacy laws or concepts, which are critical in adult entertainment. They might be publishing details or pictures which include customers’ girlfriends, or families, and/or locations – not necessarily with malice, but certainly without the consent of everyone involved. Alternatively, they may be providing adult services to minors, again without necessarily realising it.
Others are stealing pictures of uninvolved females and associating their likenesses with the sale of sex. Some simply don’t consider the level of violation they’re perpetrating in doing that. They just think if men are stupid enough to fall for it and pay them for equally stolen body part pictures, it serves the men right. It does. But it still violates those whose identities are being stolen and used in a highly defamatory manner, for someone else’s profit. This should really have been placed under “Ugly”. It’s only in “Bad” because most perpetrators are taught to do it, by people who do appear in the “Ugly” section.
Then there’s the “free money” delusion. Whilst there’s a long line of media outlets queuing up to run sensational stories about getting something for nothing, the reality is that just as in any other walk of life, customers want value. If they don’t get something they perceive as value, they stop paying. And at entry level, the environment is so competitive and full of timewasters and scamming men, that for most new entrants it will yield a real-terms hourly rate of below minimum wage. For some, nothing at all – especially if they arrive thinking they don’t need to do any work.
The next negative point is the Internet’s trend towards ‘deplatforming’ adult workers. Both Facebook and Instagram prohibit the marketing of sexual services, and Tumblr recently took a huge step in the same direction. Twitter is now the only major platform where adult workers can still legitimately market their services to new prospects. If Twitter were to change its policy to prohibit adult marketing, there would almost certainly be a substantial collapse in the de-centralised adult industry. We saw in Part 1 that other online forces, such as Apple, have the power to essentially force social platforms to deplatform adult workers too. It’s a very real prospect.
Governments should think carefully about this before scaring online providers with more heavy legislation, because at the moment, the de-centralised adult business is taking a huge amount of weight off state benefit systems. Anyone who thinks that a serious collapse in online sex work would not result in an absolute deluge of benefit claims, is living in dreamland.
Content theft in adult entertainment is far worse than in regular publishing. If you’ve ever had your blog post stolen and published elsewhere, you’ll know how soul-destroying and infuriating that is in itself. But imagine what it’s like to have that same thing happen with the most personal, private and intimate material imaginable. Material you never wanted to publish at all. This is what happens to adult entertainers on an ongoing basis.
A lot of entertainers have not told family members what they do, or have at least spun it in a way that minimises the awkwardness of the situation. The unathorised redistribution of adult content not only reduces the entertainer’s earning potential, but also risks creating family problems, jeopardises some future work prospects, etc. It’s the number one headache for many models.
Getting the content taken down can be difficult too. The DMCA takedown protocol requires that the copyright owner submit her real identity and location details, but some content thieves will use that information to blackmail her. There are services which specialise in adult content takedowns, but they’re not cheap, and even they can’t guarantee 100% success.
One of the most noticeable trends which has mounted in sync with de-centralisation, is that of the ‘brat culture’. Driven by the so-called ‘narcissistic bubble’ effect, brat culture spreads a notion that adult traders are immune from responsibility for anything at all, and may do or say anything they like on public platforms, without being accountable for it. They might perpetrate abuse, calculated doxing, bullying, and unbridled opinionating which can incite violence or even suicide and murder…
People would not tolerate this from conventional business, but because so many fans of online sex symbols are permanently drunk on sexual aspiration, such behaviour is applauded rather than challenged. That fuels an increase in the behaviour, as per the law of narcissistic bubbling.
The reason this is so dangerous is that adult entertainers can gain enormous reach on Twitter, and in the main, they’re not addressing highly responsible and mature people. They’re addressing what numerous entertainers themselves have described as “a world of grown-up babies“, “an adult kindergarten“, or words to that effect. There are even adult service providers glorifying rape to truly enormous follower bases. Clearly, this and other irresponsible adult industry messages regarding sexual conduct are exacerbating rape culture, and the messaging does not all come from men.
CONSUMERS’ MENTAL HEALTH
It’s fairly well accepted that a lot of adult entertainment’s dedicated fans have mental health issues. But which came first; the chicken, or the egg? Evidence strongly suggests that the adult service marketing environment worsens consumers’ mental state.
Men who pursue ‘strippers’ online over a long period, have characteristically shown a progressive and sometimes dramatic decrease in rationality. Some of the men start off with a normal, identifiable social media profile, face on avi, full name on screen, and very moderate behaviour. They might tweet a ‘stripper’ every so often, among other, unrelated interactions. Then the tweets to ‘strippers’ start to intensify, while the unrelated interactions tail off…
In time, the man has completely anonymised his account. He has a one-letter screen name, picture of a bath tap for an avi, and is sending the same repetitive ‘compliment’ to God-knows-how-many ‘strippers’ per day. He’s deleting all his tweets within days of posting them, constantly protecting and unprotecting his profile, and rapidly alternating between worship and fury. It’s easy to believe that these unstable men have always been the same. But if you chart them over time you’ll see that some of the mental chaos is caused by the frustration of constantly trying to achieve something they haven’t realised is unachievable. It can be like watching someone have a steady psychological breakdown.
The crux of the problem is that the men in question are unable to distinguish the adult industry’s commercial prospecting from actual personal interest, so they end up basically trying to hit on women who are just about as opposed to dating them as it’s possible to get.
The man most affected by this, characteristically comes in as a male chauvinist. Not only does he expect women to be useless at business and not understand it – he also doesn’t believe women are entitled to use business tactics in the way men do.
So when a model Likes the guy’s tweet, he doesn’t categorise it in the same way as he does when “Acme Insurance” Likes his tweet – even though it’s exactly the same thing. He knows “Acme Insurance” isn’t expressing a personal interest in him – it’s just trying to be noticed by someone who might buy insurance, and woo some trade. But when this same expression comes from a half-naked woman, certain men will interpret it at face value. That’s probably part aspiration-drunkenness, part chauvinism.
One danger is that this will lead to a stalking situation, where the man genuinely believes he’s been given a ‘green light’ by one or more women. Some of these men publicly express that they’ve been led on by adult entertainers, and then cruelly discarded. In truth, it’s just bog standard marketing. But someone who doesn’t in any way associate women with business practices may end up believing that females are befriending him, then immediately ‘dumping’ him – essentially just messing with his head. And because this happens all the time in that environment, he comes to think that women, as a breed, are deliberately messing with his head.
In response, he may begin to hate women more broadly, and turn to unhealthy male ‘support’ resources such as the manosphere, where he’ll be conditioned to hate women even more.
De-centralisation of the adult business has left many women a lot less prepared for this psychological mayhem than was the case with hired work.
In the past, a lot of hired work did not in any case require women to communicate with the consumer. Models simply shot content for, say, magazines or movie producers, and a separate mechanism took that content to the customer. But the de-centralised industry puts entertainers in a customer-facing role. And because incoming traders may be starting without any initiation advice, they’re often not primed to expect men who are developing misogynistic tendencies and may be in the midst of what amounts to a psychological breakdown.
Whilst the consumer has always got a pretty dicey deal from adult entertainment, in the past he could, and would, blame it on men. In the new world of female autonomy, he can no longer do that. If he ends up with a grudge, it’s probably going to be against women, and we’ve seen manosphere groups not only growing in membership alongside that – but also organising campaigns specifically against ANY AND ALL females in adult work.
De-centralisation has broadly been positive for women, but the good has not been without bad, or indeed ugly. Freedom must always remember responsibility.