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Jason Whitesel

Mentor Department



Young college-age women have been increasingly using online sex work as a popular avenue to raise capital. This study explores the experiences of women (both cis and trans) undergraduate students who engage in self-produced sex work using the mainstream online adult entertainment platform, Onlyfans. Posting explicit content such as pictures and videos on the Onlyfans platform has allowed many college women to earn an income and fund their university costs, especially during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This study aims to identify interpretative narratives used by undergraduate women in the U.S. to make sense of their labor as sex workers within capitalist relations. To access these narratives, online social research methods, collection of fieldnote data, and semi-structured interviews of industry participants has been conducted. Participants have been recruited using convenience sampling methods, such as snowball sampling as well as responding to participant recruitment flyers posted to social media. In interviews, participants have been asked about their initial motivations for producing explicit content on Onlyfans, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on their experiences as a sex worker, the labor required of them as a content creator, their reactions to Onlyfans announcing and then reversing a ban on explicit content, and opinions on how to ensure sex work platforms are properly supporting their creators. This intention of this study is to move toward strategies that would resist the capitalist exploitation of online sex work by centering the voices of sex workers themselves.

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