LOS ANGELES — Maitland Ward tackles shadowbanning and social media discrimination against sex workers, among other timely topics, in a new essay for The Daily Beast titled, “Our OnlyFans Victory Is Just the Beginning.”
Ward opens the piece by recalling a meeting with a mainstream production executive at a restaurant in Beverly Hills where she discovered she’d been shadowbanned on IMDb.
“Shadowbanning, or the policy of actively censoring online accounts by making them invisible to others on a common search, is pretty much a practice reserved for sex workers and pornographic performers — either that or serial killers (if they’re especially obvious about it). If you’ve ever wondered why you can’t find your favorite porn star when you put their name into the search bar, it’s most likely because Twitter, or Instagram, or Facebook, or any other platform that’s beholden to big money targeting porn for being ‘the enemy’ to everything decent in the world doesn’t want you to find them,” she writes.
She was startled, but not particularly shocked by the discovery.
“Sex workers have been pushed into the shadows since we evolved to two legs, had wages to blow and could grunt out an agreement in the corner of some cave, and probably even before,” notes Ward. “Cast into dark places, these sexually promiscuous things of the night were pulled out from the shadows in the alleyways for a good man’s secret. Something he might regret or repent later but that wasn’t his problem. It was the sex worker who would be thrown away and forgotten, at best, and punished, abused, and even murdered at worst. The discarding of a used-up corpse was punctuation on his repentance. And while we in civilized society (most times) don’t kill sex workers, we still feel a need to hide them away.”
However, she asks, “is that really how society feels anymore? Or is that just the line that we all keep being fed so the ‘good man’s’ cycle can continue?”
“It’s becoming more and more clear to me that it isn’t the majority of the public that has a problem with sex work — it’s these fundamentalist fearmongering groups, sex haters and closeted deviants that are raising millions and gazillions to influence powerhouse brands and banks and companies to do their bidding, pushing the propaganda that sex workers are responsible, and should be punished for, the moral decline of a public that isn’t apologetic for liking and wanting sex,” Ward continues.
Following the news last week that OnlyFans would ban sexually explicit content — a controversial policy change that was abruptly reversed — it appeared that “anti-sex worker groups like Exodus Cry and NCOSE had succeeded in forcing the banks and creditors to take a hard-lined anti-porn stance, much like they had with Pornhub months earlier, by continuously pushing the narrative that legitimate pornography and sex trafficking are in the same universe,” notes Ward. “They’re not.”
“We as sex workers are wholeheartedly for verifying accounts and kicking off anyone doing this type of criminal activity,” she writes. “We don’t want anything to do with it. But these sex hate groups and their open pocketbooks have the ear of the banks and big platforms.”
The policy reversal was “something that should make us all pause and celebrate,” adding it was a rare example of sex workers being allowed a voice — and those voices were heard.
“Normalizing pornography is the only way to win this fight,” she advises. “Though the voices and actions of those trying to keep us in the shadows are loud and monied, they’re being listened to and believed less and less… No matter what eventually happens with OnlyFans, it must never be forgotten how much of an impact it has had not just on the lives of creators who finally had a platform that felt their own to build their brands, but how society accepted and really celebrated this. It was the first. It will not be the last. We have bigger and bigger places to go.”
Visit TheDailyBeast.com for the complete essay.
Maitland Ward is the sole cover star of the current issue of XBIZ World, the first time a performer has taken over the entire cover of the magazine in its 23-year history; read her profile here and follow her on Twitter.
In related news, Cherie DeVille has also penned a recent call-to-arms for her industry colleagues for the Daily Beast.