Not everyone is aware of this and some people don’t like to admit it, but the adult industry is among the most innovative industries of all time. You know we’re here for all things erotic and all things innovative, but the reason for this brand of innovation is a bit of a bummer.
Sex workers, erotic creatives, erotic consumers, and everyone else who may fall under the umbrella of the adult industry have been forced to get creative and take alternative routes to earn money, build community, and express themselves. When an entire (massive) industry is surrounded by red tape, innovation isn’t a choice, it’s a survival tactic.
The adult industry has been working against some very real challenges since the dawn of time. This effort has seemed Sisyphean at times, but the constant need for innovation has forced a little bit of light through the cracks.
With the emergence of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency, sex work and the erotic economy, in general, are beginning to get a glimpse at a brighter future. So, let’s talk about that!
“What’s exciting to the erotic industry about blockchain and crypto is the absolute freedom around it. The erotic industry has been hard fought for freedom in expression, to be paid fairly for that expression, AND to keep the rights to that creation – blockchain provides a lot of solutions to those hardships,” said Ayesha Hussain, SLFEX’s Cheif Content Officer.
“Is it perfect? No. But is it trying? Yes, and we have to move forward somehow. The erotic industry has always been at the forefront of new technology and blockchain is no different. I am excited to see these two industries merge. There is a lot to learn, and that’s where we begin.”
What is the Adult Industry?
The term “adult industry” has many definitions and many direct and indirect synonyms. In the most basic sense, it is an industry that derives profit from sexuality, either in the form of content or in the form of the sexual acts themselves. The industry encompasses a wide breadth of workers and customers, creators and consumers, products/services, and users. Also referred to as the erotic industry or the sex industry.
Under this umbrella falls adult entertainment – i.e. performance, pornography or sexually explicit content for entertainment, erotic art or creative content, sex-related products and services, and all things erotica.
The professionals that drive this industry are diverse. Some of them identify with the term sex workers, some adult entertainers, some erotic creatives, and the list goes on infinitely. At SLFEX, we use the term erotic creatives to loosely refer to anyone and everyone who feels connected to the industry. The terms are fluid, just as everyone’s journey is within the space.
Of course, with creation comes consumption, and consumers make up a huge part of this adult industry, too. The industry is huge and historical in the way that it has been around, in some form or another, for centuries. The adult industry is gigantic and so much money is circulating throughout it. So, naturally, it has come to form an economy.
What is the Erotic Economy?
The erotic economy has been discussed in many different ways over the past decade or so. It’s been explored by scholars, theorized about, and dissected from top to bottom. The words erotic and economy, both together and separate, have vastly different connotations to different people, in different circumstances, and various industries. So, for this exploration and to properly lay the foundation for SLFEX as a whole, we want to describe what we’re talking about when we discuss the erotic economy.
The erotic economy necessitates an understanding of sexuality and erotica as a commodity. This is not to say that it is something to be owned or shaped by the consumer, but it is to say that one’s body, sexuality, and expression are theirs to commodify if they choose and in the ways that they choose. In its essence, the erotic economy deems one’s sexuality, erotic creativity, and expression as something of value.
If an erotic creative or erotic professional chooses to commodify their assets, this exchange fuels what we are calling the erotic economy. The erotic economy has endless potential to be beautiful, empowering, exciting, inspiring, freeing, and welcoming. Unfortunately, the world that it exists within paves way for a whole slew of challenges.
Challenges Faced in The Adult Industry
When it comes to sexual expression, society puts forth endless challenges. The repressive social attitudes surrounding the adult industry create an environment that encourages exploitation, repression, and abuse. The consequences — personal, societal, and economic — are profound. For an industry that is so vastly consumed, it is nothing short of dismaying to see the treacherous terrains that the creators are forced to navigate. The difficulties that erotic professionals face are plentiful, but here are a few that we’d like to focus on for this discussion.
It is no secret that sex workers and erotic creators have been subject to violence since the very beginning. From sex trafficking and psychical abuse to online harassment and violation, these folks have faced incredible hardships. Being perceived as a sexual object rather than a sexual agent is incredibly dangerous. Even creatives such as boudoir photographers or erotic authors are often bombarded with unwanted unsolicited sexual advances on account of simply being sex-positive or celebrating sexuality or sensuality.
Intimacy is so often seen as an invitation and, unfortunately, unwanted advances often come with aggression. In the realm of the erotic economy, the line between the exchange of goods and services and ownership is a dangerous one to walk. Sex workers, adult performers, erotic creatives, and anyone else who is part of the adult industry is vulnerable to endless forms of violence. This violence can and has been fatal. This needs to not only be taken seriously but put to an end.
If you are an advocate for sex work, you likely see it as just that: work. Unfortunately, the industry has not been awarded the same rights and privileges that other forms of work may. Sex work could so easily be considered part of the “gig economy” and adult entertainment as considered part of the arts and culture industry. Though this is not the case and therefore, adult industry professionals are not given the same rights or even validity as other industries.
Sex workers are typically cast out when it comes to legal support, health services, financial services, and most bureaucratic, institutional, and governmental practices. Furthermore, many forms of sex work have been criminalized. It is not news that sex/erotic professionals are an incredibly marginalized group; though they are particularly vulnerable in the face of the law and governance.
Sexual repression bares its fangs in many different ways. Repression of expression and sexuality comes in the form of sex negativity and societal stigmatization. Part of this stems from lacking education and long-standing societal taboos. These damaging perspectives are perpetuated by pop culture and media as well as political discourse, among other things. Repression exists in everyday life and also online. For example, endless algorithms are pushing against what platforms deem to be “sexually explicit.”
There are many forms of repression when it comes to our creativity and expression, but there are also repressive forces in our physical embodiment of sexuality. The adult industry has always been repressed, censored, and controlled by countless forces. Repression is a direct threat to expression and empowerment and it’s something the adult industry has always had to work within.
Anyone who makes their living through the erotic economy has likely experienced threats to their livelihood on more occasions than one. Regulators such as banks and legal decision-makers can strip erotic creatives of their livelihoods with one change of heart and these professionals are forced to remain at the mercy of these whims. Financial institutions reserve the power to close bank accounts, block transactions, and repossess funds.
When OnlyFans announced the banning of adult content, for example, countless sex workers lost their livelihoods at the drop of a dime. This is not comfortable, safe, or sustainable for anyone in any industry and simply cannot be the way of the future.
An innovative industry that is populated by marginalized communities simply cannot be regulated by oppressive forces that do not value the industry as a whole.
Even the platforms for adult content lack the perspective of the very people they claim to support: the artist and sex workers. Without this valuable perspective, a platform cannot fully advocate for and protect sex workers.
The last challenge we’ll put forth is exploitation. When an individual doesn’t possess professional, financial, or creative autonomy, the line between empowerment and exploitation becomes far too thin. The bodies, content, expression, and income of adult industry professionals are constantly being exploited.
These individuals deserve safety, security, and proper compensation. Sex work is not inherently exploitive, in fact, quite the opposite, but sex workers are constantly vulnerable to exploitation.
It is so easy to feel defeated when discussing these challenges. Though, it’s important to remember that so much passion goes into and comes out of this industry every single day. These challenges are still very much part of the present experience for many erotic professionals. So, let’s take a little look at the future together. We want to talk about the transcendent nature of blockchain technology for the adult industry. But first, we’re going to tell you a (tiny) bit about blockchain itself.
What is Blockchain Technology?
A blockchain is simply a way of recording information that makes it virtually impossible to change or hack. It’s a digital record of transactions that is distributed across the entire network. All cryptocurrency is housed on a blockchain. For example, Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Cardano have their blockchains and each has different processes for approving transactions. Blockchains are also where new cryptocurrency is made. You can’t talk about crypto without talking about blockchain because the former needs the ladder to exist.
A blockchain is built up of countless computer systems all around the world. These computers are incentivized to review transactions with rewards in the form of tokens.
Blockchain is a system for transactions that is completely decentralized and not governed by anything like financial institutions. We know this may sound boring but we promise it’s cool. Blockchain technology brings power back to the people, offers autonomy and security, and paves way for endless innovation.
Blockchain & The Adult Industry
Here it is, what we’ve all been waiting for. The beautiful overlap between blockchain and the adult industry.
“Blockchain has the potential to offer sex workers more protection and control over their creative material,” said Valarie Merced, CEO of SLFEX.
“In a time where resources are often held as collateral against sex workers, autonomy is vital. Community support is essential in this industry. Blockchain has the potential to create communal governances and help curate a safe community.”
As Valarie said, Blockchain offers the opportunity for professional and financial autonomy as well as ownership over one’s expression. This is because it isn’t regulated and does not pose a threat to anyone’s livelihood. It also cuts out middlemen. This includes oppressive adult content platforms, agencies, and entertainment venues and allows creatives to connect directly with their consumers.
“The trustless nature of blockchain makes it a powerful tool for transforming the erotic economy. From the very beginning, counterparty protections have been central to the idea of blockchains. There is probably no part of the economy in greater need of these sorts of protections than the erotic economy,” said James Haskins, SLFEX’s Dev Ops Engineer.
“The technology opens up possibilities for innovating new revenue models while protecting that revenue from the gatekeepers, such as banks and credit card companies, who have traditionally marginalized and exploited the industry. Moreover, blockchain offers the potential to disintermediate economies of creative expression—including erotic expression—by bringing creators and consumers together.”
Empowerment & Freedom Through Tech
Wrapping one’s mind around the tech piece of things can be tricky. Though, it is the effects of utilizing blockchain technology that is far more compelling. Blockchain allows for anonymity, therefore protecting both creators and consumers. It also keeps digital records of every transaction. This ensures everyone has ownership of their rightful property and, in turn, their expression. This aids in avoiding exploitation and violence.
It also gives creators the power to be compensated for what they want and deserve. Moreover, it ensures that they have full control over their funds.
An especially exciting aspect of blockchain technology is a feature called smart contracts. These are just digital contracts hosted on a blockchain. These contacts have a set of conditions that must be met before the terms of the agreement can be executed. For example, if someone purchases an erotic product, it is not until they pay for their product that the product will be automatically distributed to them. This is a basic example of a hugely powerful tool that can increase security and stability for erotic professionals.
The Adult Industry & Crypto
“The next big thing for crypto is the adult industry. The adult industry has a very large fan base but unlike music, sports, and games where crypto and nfts have taken off, the adult industry has been rather stifled by financial institutions and middle actors taking advantage of the environment,” said Sherown Campbell, SLFEX’s CFO. “Crypto has the opportunity to be the release valve on a multi-billion dollar market to greatly benefit the creators directly.”
Not only does cryptocurrency and blockchain technology hold the endless potential to revolutionize the erotic economy, but the industries are also mutually beneficial to one other!
Blockchain and crypto can begin to give autonomy, empowerment, safety, and freedom back to the adult industry. That glimmer of hope is what fuels the SLFEX team.
We haven’t even started talking about NFTs yet, so stay tuned. This is going to be huge and we’re so glad you’re here.