Dear Prudence

Dear Prudence Uncensored: Only Certain Fans

This week, Danny M. Lavery and special guest Carta Monir discuss a Prudie letter: only certain fans.

Daniel Lavery: I think mostly this letter-writer’s concern is a real one! I hope that doesn’t seem flippant or dismissive, but…yes, you have hit on one of the real challenges of sex work/ “some form of sex work”/ sex-work-adjacent work!

Carta Monir: My gut feeling is to tell this person to be very careful. Starting an OnlyFans account isn’t necessarily difficult, but doing it comes with unquestionable professional risks.

Like… it’s a really crowded field and it’s not *very* likely that you will be successful enough to be noticed by your students. On the other hand, ask yourself: will it kill your career if your boss finds out you’ve been making porn? Will it hurt your relationship with your loved ones?

OnlyFans is nice because it’s hidden behind a paywall, but just like anything uploaded to the internet, you do have to assume that your content may be redistributed in ways that you did not anticipate or want

Daniel Lavery: Yeah, and it’s difficult to predict how ALL of your future students might react IF they saw your work.

Carta Monir: Right! The other thing to seriously consider is whether you could actually make enough money for the risk to be worth it. Branding yourself as an online sex worker is difficult and the field is so crowded right now…unless you have an obvious way to differentiate yourself from other people, you may end up in a sea of people who look exactly like you and are better at making content than you. This isn’t to be pessimistic, it just takes a lot of work to be noticed.

Daniel Lavery:  Did you get any sense for what this letter-writer’s conviction that they’d be “good” at sex work might be based in? Like – familiarity with the field, or “I enjoy sex recreationally,” or something else?

Carta Monir: Hard to say! Like, if you think you would be good at it because you like having sex…that might not make much of a difference. If you think you would be good at it because you’re close to people who are doing it and have relevant experience, like running a really successful patreon based on your photography or something… maybe you would be amazing at it! I don’t know

Daniel Lavery: right! as always with gig work, “being good at it” also means being good at marketing, accounts payable,  etc

Carta Monir: Right! You’re running a small freelance operation! If you just want to dip your toes in, assume that you will make $0 and then ask yourself if you’re still interested.

Daniel Lavery:  Right. And when in doubt, overestimate how much savvy, industry, and support-staff-type work all go into sex work – assume it’s a challenging, demanding job.

Carta Monir: Yes!! Absolutely, and one that often takes time and experience to get really good at it.

Daniel Lavery: Do you have any advice about that specific fear, “What if someone from my day job sees my account?”

It put me in mind of this piece from the Chronicle of Higher Ed last year.

Which I don’t bring up just to scare the letter-writer, but to encourage them to seek out accounts from sex worker/academics (there are many!) and try to get a sense of “Do I think I could handle this outcome?”

Carta Monir That article is so horrible, yeah

Daniel Lavery and to be clear: When I say “seek out accounts,” I don’t mean email sex workers and ask them for advice

I mean look for work that’s already available for the public

Carta Monir: I would say, operate under the assumption that someone will eventually find out

Daniel Lavery: I do feel bad because this particular story is something of a perfect storm of bad reactions

and I really don’t want to intone, “This will happen to YO-O-U-U-U-U-U” while raising a bony finger

Carta Monir: Personally, I had the good fortune to become estranged from my whole family before I started sex work

And I don’t have a day job that puts me at risk of discovery, you know?

Daniel Lavery: I’m trying to thread a needle between “This is a terrible idea, forget about it immediately” and “Nothing bad will ever happen, just go for it, be yourself, have fun, leave it all out there on the field”

Carta Monir: “Your mileage may vary, be careful, this is what pretty much every sex worker has had to deal with since the beginning of time”

Daniel Lavery: I think that’s helpful – everybody in the industry has to answer the same questions about self-protection, and so there’s already something in the way of resources and advice out there from people who have lived it, and it’s worth getting a sense of what they have to say before deciding for yourself whether the risk is worth it to you.