Asami Hime is a nude model, a SuicideGirl and a Snapchat premium provider. The primary source of income in her modeling career is Patreon, a website where erotic content creators can create personalized porn for subscribers.
Yesterday, Hime started getting flooded with panicked messages from fellow Patreon creators. They were warning her:
“Our accounts are getting suspended. All of the money you’ve earned on Patreon: pull it out. They’re going to freeze your account and all of the money in it.”
And they were right. Hime managed to withdraw her money only an hour before her account was shut down.
Patreon is now suspending the accounts of its erotic content creators. For the women who depend on the platform to earn a living, this puts their livelihoods at risk.
“If you relied on this money and your account is frozen, you probably wouldn't be able to make rent next month,” Hime tells Rooster Magazine, pointing out how the crack-down coincidentally played out in the final days of the month. “I have friends who are worried they won't get their accounts reinstated in time to pay rent.”
Hime earns up to $40,000 a year through her Patreon account. That income goes toward paying off her student loans — costly math and computer science degrees from Columbia University.
“Losing my Patreon account would have been extremely detrimental to me, to my income,” Hime says. “I’d be taking a huge hit in terms of how I accrue money and save. I’d have to find a new way of paying my student loans, or it would take me at least twice as long to pay them off.”
Patreon claims that the company is ramping up scrutiny of its content due to requirements from the company’s payment partners. It says the support team is working directly with creators to bring them back within company guidelines as fast as humanly possible.
Hime agrees that Patreon was accommodating in trying to restore her account.
“My account was frozen, and at first I got this generic email: ‘We’re suspending your account for breaking community guidelines.’ They link to the guidelines, and you have to figure out for yourself exactly which rules you broke,” Hime says.
“Then, I got a follow-up email telling me exactly what I needed to change. Apparently, nothing in public view can have ‘implied nudity.’”
Implied nudity, as the company interprets it, is pretty arbitrary. No nipples, no bare backsides, no lingerie.
Granted, Hime appreciated having someone explicitly describe what she’d done wrong and how to fix it. This isn’t something that most platforms do for their customers.
Take Instagram, for example.
“Instagram doesn’t support adult content creators at all,” Hime says. “They make it hard for us to post content. They take down posts and never explain why. They take months to get rid of catfish accounts that steal our identities. They disable our real accounts and make it difficult to reinstate them.”
At the start, Patreon held promise as a supportive platform for sex workers. But payment processing companies inevitably made that more difficult. Major banks and payment processors like PayPal have a history of discriminating against sex workers.
“I’ve had plenty of friends who had their PayPal accounts frozen and funds taken for ‘suspicious purchases,’” Hime says. “Yeah, they were selling dirty panties, but I don’t know how the company identifies that, unless a man writes in the notes ‘Thanks for the dirty panties, you hot slut.’”
PayPal targets people in the sex industry, including those in legal fields. Strippers, escorts, porn stars, dominatrixes or models — without explanation, PayPal will delete their account and take their money.
“It’s another level of fucked up that I’m not willing to participate in,” Hime says.
Hime hasn’t given up on Patreon, although she is feeling less optimistic about its support of women in the sex industry.
“They don’t advocate for sex workers, but they are allowing us to use their platform, and I’m not going to complain because it’s a massive source of income,” she says.
But in an unjust and discriminatory system, none of sex workers’ options for platforms are ideal. In a very practical sense, Hime and other erotic content creators have to take what they can get.
“Its continually a struggle for sex workers, which is why I’d never make modeling my primary source of income,” Hime says. “It’s too volatile, in the sense that no one advocates for you and no one ever has your back.”