Is ‘Skin Hunger’ Driving Record Demand for In-person Sex Workers?
After a year of social distancing, physical connection is a hot commodity.
While 2021 has been an unpredictable year, the sex work industry is still booming as escorts and full-body sex workers receive unprecedented interest online from potential clients.
One likely explanation is after being deprived of human contact for so long, many lonely people are craving touch and intimacy—also called “skin hunger,” a psychological longing for physical contact with another human being.
As of May 2021, online sex worker websites are seeing record interest from potential clients, according to reporting from ABC News.
The average creator is receiving about 115 clicks a day, which is up almost 50% from around the time the pandemic began. These findings offer interesting implications for the future of sex work.
The interest in sex work means we may be closer than ever to decriminalization.
While finding a community can be challenging for sex workers, growing interest could lead to support from the media and financial sectors, leading to better backing for sex workers.
If the upward trend continues, investors and the general public cannot ignore the importance of sex work in the population.
While there is an interest in sex work online, there is also interest in sidelining the workers who built the community and brand in the first place.
Had there been less of a public outcry, we may have seen an OnlyFans that, by the end of September 2021, was completely devoid of sex and most nudity.
Although interest in sex work has been growing, no one knows how long OnlyFans or similar websites will allow sex workers to make money.
If OnlyFans were to ban sex work from its website, how long until the next company would be willing to try? Would that company also eventually ban sex work? The concerns would not go away for the vast majority of sex workers.
While the information discussed above appears to be good news for sex work, the data leaves out some crucial information.
It is unclear if the spike is from paying users, or people who happened to click on a shared link. Furthermore, the data was gathered prior to the announcement and reversal by OnlyFans in their sex work ban decision, so we do not know if people have left the website in protest since.
And while online sex work works for some, many still want to return to in-person sex work in the near future. While we can be hopeful about OnlyFans’ effect on broader society, it may not move the needle on in-person sex work.
Image source: Obi Onyeador, Eric Nopanen