Why I no longer work as a "Pleasure Professional" at O.School | I'm Poly and So Can You
On Tuesday April 10th, I was fired by the digital sex education platform responsible for 1/4 of my income, O.school. I had been a part of the O.School "family" since the company's inception in late 2016, and until this week had been one of their most committed and celebrated educators.
I want to first acknowledge the strenuous labor of both Sarah Brynn Holliday and Bianca Palmisano, two former educators on O.School's platform who quit the company in solidarity of my firing. They've succeeded in creating detailed timelines of everything that's transpired over the last 72 hours, and I urge you to read them before continuing.
1. Why I’m Breaking Up with O.school by Sarah Brynn Holliday
2. SOMETHING IS ROTTEN IN THE STATE OF O.SCHOOL by Bianca Palmisano
My firing came one day after I posted the following letter within an internal company channel that was accessible to both O.School staff and educators. Out of legal concerns, I am not attaching any of the screenshots of the private conversations I had with individual staff members:
I am writing from a deeply conflicted place, and I need it to be known at the onset that this has nothing to do with motivations to vindictively "drag" OSchool as a company, @mschiefo, or any other integral staff members. It has EVERYTHING to do with needing support from my pleasure professional community, as well as not being able to continue on as a pleasure professional without a radical and immediate change in transparency politics within this company. Those changes need to come from the top, and in order to make them, pleasure professionals deserve to be "in the know" so that they can consider and weigh in on anything proposed.
1. I am deeply uncomfortable with the fact that the #payment channel was unceremoniously deleted from Slack. In speaking quietly to other professionals on the platform, I have learned that there have been inconsistencies in who is getting paid what, i.e. who gets "bonuses" at the end of every month vs. who doesn't, as well as who receives statistics on their streams and when. I am NOT okay with this. Let it be known that I feel as though I generally have MORE privilege on this platform ; that I benefit from things like my "reputation" in terms of how I'm treated, and that I'm only putting my own money at risk by writing this. I'm not an angry, shunned party - I've been benefiting from this lack of transparency. In my opinion, the fact that we only receive payment information in private DMs and not via a method accessible to everyone needs to change.
2. On Wednesday of last week, I spent a few hours at OSchool HQ in Oakland shooting some promotional video clips for the platform, as well as doing an interview on sex work and the sex industry for @Danielle Bezalel’s podcast "Sex with DB". I had a lovely time, and spent a bulk of it educating the folks present about SESTA-FOSTA and the potential implications of such brutal sex censorship, both for sex workers as well as the online platforms that support them. The day afterwards, I received messages from Danielle asking me if I could switch the topic of my upcoming 4/10 "Sex Work: Ask Me Anything!" stream. I am attaching screenshots of that conversation with this message (please read them before continuing). Although I tried to connect with Andrea over the phone that day, she ended up being unavailable and asked to schedule a Tuesday (4/10) morning call instead. I agreed, assuming I'd be able to stream "Sex Work: Ask Me Anything" that evening. The next day, I received messages from her telling me that my only options were to either change the topic of my upcoming stream or cancel it altogether. I am attaching screenshots of this conversation as well (which also includes a request made to review and edit a company public statement about SESTA-FOSTA without being compensated as a consultant). After struggling emotionally with the decision for some time, I ended up canceling it, losing money and not being offered any kind of apology stipend to compensate for it.
I *know* there are a multitude of current and former sex workers operating on this platform, and that I am by no means the only pleasure pro that talks openly about the sex industry in streams. I also understand that the possible implications of SESTA-FOSTA are intimidating, but proactively censoring sex workers on a platform that boasts inclusivity, intersectionality, and ethical principles - without first initiating a roundtable discussion among those in charge and the pleasure professional community about taking potential defensive action in a way that will have the least damaging effect on the sex workers doing sex ed labor - is fucked up. Honestly, if I could financially afford to boycott streaming on OSchool until the censorship is lifted, I would. But hey, I'm already hemorrhaging money from all of my advertising platforms being seized and/or shut down, plus the fact that individual clients are terrified to purchase sexual services right now and I'm subsequently receiving a record number of session cancellations.
3. In a message from @O.kelly today, I received notice that OSchool will no longer be offering $25/stream "thank you bonuses", and will also be waiving their 50/50 tips split starting this month (April). Just to give you all an idea how this affects me personally, this past month I made $770 doing 15 streams (most of them being 120 minutes long). That's just about $50/stream. Outside of OSchool, I charge $125/hour for coaching and consultation calls, and I typically have a $200 per 90 minute workshop minimum when I teach at universities, organizations, businesses, etc. As you can see, I already take a HEAVY financial hit streaming for OSchool, as I'm sure many of you also do. Based on the information shared to me today, I personally cannot afford to continue working on this platform.
4. Finally, on a note of slightly less priority, I feel as though there have been MANY missed opportunities to bring pleasure professionals closer together, particularly those who live in the same geographical areas. I know that our team could only benefit from being able to connect with, socialize with, and talk shop with other pro peers in this way, and I'm a bit disappointed that there's been no organizing around it from the top. Also adds to my "icky" feeling around the lack of transparency being communicated to the team as a whole, i.e. Not encouraging us to communicate with each other.
Pleasure professionals, I truly consider you my family. I want to hear from you because I will NEVER underestimate how critical the work you're doing is, and honestly, I need your help. Hopefully OSchool will listen.
All My Love & Respect,