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THE FRIGHTENING FUTURE OF THE BUSINESS OF SEX

Not to be a downer, but here’s a fact. The fact that the sex industry is still largely aself-regulated industry could soon pose significant problems for businesses and business people in the industry. In examining the benefits of and need for government regulation in the sex industry, we gain both a sense of the nature of the future of the business of sex and aggressively plan for what could be the roughest times for the sex industry ever, ahead.

The worldwide regulated trade industry is worth $16 trillion. That number accounts as well for $520 billion in seized and reported counterfeit items. Comparatively, the global sex industry — which is well, a whole other type of trade — at nearly a half-trillion dollars of gross revenue, is worth roughly the same amount as counterfeit items are to the global regulated trade industry. These statements raise an important point to question. Imagine a scenario wherein revenue-related data points for the sex industry were readily available because of sex, as an industry, being fully regulated.

Moreover, in imagining why this isn’t the case, there are points raised about the pervasiveness of privilege and privacy within the sex industry. The sex industry could remain a privileged and closed-shop industry for some time to come. What then can be done in regards to working successfully and sustainably within, but without an unregulated industry’s support?

Imagine knowing just how many dollars were legally spent on streaming sites and OnlyFans as opposed to BDSM sessions or how much is spent at independent sex toy retailers. Imagine then, as a provider, knowing how to best tailor your business aims and goals. Transparency creates standards and standards — for a successful businessperson — create an industry. When industries lack standards, they become volatile and unsustainable.

Typically, industries without standards (like the sex industry at present) are buoyed by economies that can withstand fluctuations. What is lacking that standards can create are counter-balanced by an influx of income. That income allows for everyone to ideally reach something resembling some level of net revenue that keeps them in business. 

Unfortunately, many countries worldwide are in the throes of a severe economic recession. Thus, the balance that allows for an unregulated industry to regulate itself does not exist. Therefore, more than ever before, there’s a need for laws and codes to exist to allow for the sex industry to figure out where and how to potentially save and sustain itself  Given that FOSTA and SESTA represent what America’s legislators, for instance, think “codes and laws to regulate the sex industry” look like, there’s clearly not the desire present to ensure that the sex industry can and should survive as it has for generations. In an era where commerce and law are co-conspiring to cripple the future of the sex industry, what then does this look like in the future?

If conditions do not change, sex, as an industry runs the risk of being a super high-end, boutique business. It is not something that — at least for pay — is “for everyone.” Rather, it is for those who are of means and able to afford something so prohibitively expensive due to the lack of regulation of the marketplace, plus unstable economic conditions. For some in the industry, this is ideal. For all in the industry, this is a moment to seriously consider the future.

Sustainability is not a “one size fits all” model, but it’s definitely a model. If, as a businessperson in the sex industry, you have yet to model your business for maintaining a livable status quo or for viable growth, the time to do this is now. There was once the ability to not have to aggressively model one’s business. It was possible to throw a little caution to the wind because even if a self-regulated marketplace, the marketplace would — eventually, as it always has in the past — correct for your success. But, conditions have changed and changed in such a manner that drastic measures are required.

Not to be the bearer of bad news, but here’s bad news. Possibly more than any industry, the sex industry benefited the most, the longest, from the globe’s 20th-century economic boom. Industries buying and selling upwards of a half-trillion dollars of goods and services, largely unregulated, is astounding. It’s also fun, salacious, and wild. It’s also predicated around the idea that enough places will have enough money that the glaring flaws in planning that exist can be covered with tremendous outlays of finances. But what happens when the money needed to cover for lack of business awareness grows too significant? Do providers retire? Do companies go out of business? And who remains? How do they remain? And why do they remain? Stop and consider this, then work with or around the future, accordingly.

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