Last week, Bill Maher dedicated a portion of his Real Time monologue to the news that OnlyFans was banning porn—or as the company put it, “sexually explicit conduct.” The paid subscription service, which is dominated by sex workers who have seen their incomes rise dramatically during the pandemic, admitted that they reached the decision due to pressure from banks like Mastercard, who are adopting stricter guidelines in October surrounding “the seller[s] of adult content.” (Mastercard had received heavy pressure from fanatical anti-sex work organizations like Exodus Cry and the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE), who regularly conflate safe and legal porn with sex trafficking.)
Well, OnlyFans decided to reverse the decision this week and continue to allow porn on their platform. The news was applauded by their “community of 130 million users and over 2 million creators that have earned over $5 billion on our platform,” according to OnlyFans.
Cue Maher during Friday’s Real Time: “Let’s end with some good news… OnlyFans is staying in the porn business,” the comic proclaimed. “That’s right. Last week, I was just in this spot reporting that they’re getting out of the porn business; now, they’re staying in because their fans would not take it. Their fans went nuts.”
Then, the kicker: “Boy, if there’s one thing millennials love more than canceling the patriarchy it’s women having sex for money. That’s the interesting thing.”
So, in Maher’s mind, “women having sex for money” is anti-feminist and a product of the patriarchy. Women couldn’t possibly be sex workers of their own volition, because they enjoy doing it, or because they can make hundreds of thousands (or even millions) of dollars from the comfort of their home by, say, filming themselves having sex with their boyfriend. Seems like pretty good work if you can get it.
It’s also strange given how Maher has solicited the services of sex workers in the past (adult star Teanna Trump has repeatedly recounted how, when she was 18, and Maher was 57, Maher paid her to have sex with him), and dated a number of others—including Karine Steffans, a popular video vixen and stripper who once said of him, “Bill wants someone he can put down in an argument, tell you how ghetto you are, how big your butt is and that you’re an idiot. That’s why you never see him with a white girl or an intellectual.” (Steffans is Black.)
You know what? Maher’s patronizing attitude toward sex workers actually makes perfect sense now.