Former child star Bella Thorne raked in a whopping $2 million within a week of her OnlyFans debut, but sex workers who have faced intense scrutiny for using the platform aren’t too stoked about it.
Thorne told the Los Angeles Times that she made a staggering $2 million from her $20/month subscription service, also revealing that she’ll be donating the funds to charity (although it’s unclear how much, or which charity) and using it to fund her production company. Oh, and she’s making a movie about it starring Sean Baker. It’s ~a lot~.
Also nooooo I’m not doing nudity!!! ❤️ https://t.co/vJECHqF4uW— BITCHIMBELLATHORNE (@bellathorne) August 26, 2020
“It’s a feature we are researching as I’m living it currently,” Thorne told PAPER of the whole OnlyFans saga. “What are the ins and outs? What does a platform like this do to its users? What’s the connective material between your life and your life inside the world of OnlyFans? … How can it change your life for the worse and the better? How far are you willing to go, and how far do you WANT to go? You can be me, or this talented girl from Montana, and OnlyFans could change your life — if you want it to, of course.”
So, if she’s donating the money (at least partially) to charity, what’s the issue here?
Well… It’s complicated.
Although we live in an age where sex work is significantly less taboo than it was, say, 20 years ago, it’s still no walk in the park for those who choose this perfectly legal and respectable career.
It was just weeks ago that the Herald Sun shared a truly disappointing story that blatantly doxxed a sex worker and shamed her for her choice of career. So, although we’ve come far, we’ve still got miles to go when it comes to normalising sex work. Which is why the Bella Thorne situation is such an issue.
Escort and solo porn content creator Jane* explained that the issue is much deeper than just the fact that Thorne is making money from sex work.
“Sex workers aren’t mad at her specifically for making a lot of money, but for doing it on a platform that they built and doesn’t recognise them, in an industry she doesn’t respect,” Jane told PEDESTRIAN.TV. “They’re also mad because they feel she’s scamming many by parading around pretending to be a sex worker. She’s claimed to be posting no nudity but then teases it through expensive PPVs where she’s “naked” but when you unlock it can’t actually see anything explicit.”
To put it simply, the sex work community feels like Bella Thorne has swooped in and taken over an industry that they’ve been fighting for for decades and is exploiting it for her own gain. While sex workers are still facing intense backlash on a daily basis, celebrities are seemingly able to waltz into the industry and reap the rewards without facing the same sort of scrutiny or risks.
I hope huge celebrities creating an OnlyFans and making huge profits inspires America to decriminalize sex work.— Dedee ???? (@thoughtfulbae) August 26, 2020
Bella Thorne is making millions within hrs while sex workers are dying each day due to the illegality of their profession. Change it!
The fact that @bellathorne made an onlyfans is absolutely sicking to me, as a sex worker this is what i chose to do for a living, my job isn’t some fad that literally millionaires think it’s cute or quirky to even make an account— ????Boujee hoe???? (@Brooklynnbandz) August 26, 2020
Obviously, there’s the counter argument that big name celebrities like Thorne, Cardi B and the Real Housewives alum participating in OnlyFans helps to normalise sex work, but many are calling for stars to do more for the industry if they’re profiting off it.
we're like a month away from onlyfans changing so much about media in general and headlines like "bella thorne and kylie jenner: innovators of the year" completely erasing the primarily black sex workers who were harrassed and attacked while making it popular/profitable https://t.co/3CKcKOmNDS— mustafa (@whocaresmanlmao) August 25, 2020
So how could Bella Thorne right her wrongs in this situation? For starters, she could donate her profits to organisations that help to protect and fight for the rights of sex workers.
The community is also calling for her to use her platform and upcoming movie to help amplify the voices of the sex work community, rather than being the star of it herself. Basically, the community is calling for her to step out of the spotlight and turn the project into something that actually benefits the community and those who are at risk.
“I think she should use the traction she’s gained from this to fight for sex workers’ rights and the need for there to be laws separate from those in reference to sex trafficking, paedophilia and child porn. While these laws are excellent in combating rape they also currently affect the rights that consenting legal adults have,” Jane added.
It’s unclear what Bella’s initial plans for her charity donation and movie are, and if she already has intentions of supporting the sex work industry. For all we know, she could already have plans to give money and a platform to the sex work community, but there is nothing to support that thus far.