The etsy logo surrounded by icons for no dildos, no sex toys, no porn, no XXX, and no doggystyle sex

I have argued that the pornocalypse began with Meg Whitman’s eBay, back in the last century:

Then Meg Whitman happened. It’s too many years ago now for me to recall how many successive waves of anti-porn activism swept the eBay auction platform, but it was many.

The adult items got their own section, it got put behind an age self-verification button, the adult items vanished from the general search, the adult section itself got removed from the category listing making it very hard to find, and then there was wave after wave of auction removals based on listing policies that were vague and erratically enforced. There were rules about how much nudity could show on magazine covers, there were wide-ranging keyword bans that meant you could not list (or show an uncensored photo of) the true titles of many porn items, there was a ton of selective enforcement, and there was an enormous chilling effect because seller accounts were often banned or limited based on first-offense violations of these deeply-murky rules.

It eventually became clear to everyone that Ebay under Meg Whitman (the former Disney exec) was now officially hostile to porn, where once it had been the leading sales platform for vintage porn especially. The market dried up, market offerings became bland and boring, and everybody who was on eBay for that reason had left. The suits, having stricken off the member that so offended them, declared victory and moved on. They broke it, but they like broken better. Broken is what they wanted, broken is what they got.

History, they say, doesn’t repeat itself, but it echoes. Last week we got the news of a pornocalyptic crackdown on Etsy, which used to be a sort of “eBay for handicrafts” but which is under enormous pressure from the suits to become a sort of anodyne reseller of cheap Chinese crap. Some of the handicrafts that latterly gave Etsy its charm were kinky or erotic, but that’s all over now. Per Anna Iovine at Mashable:

Etsy to ban sale of most sex toys, explicit content, and more; Policy changes go into effect next month.

Online retailer Etsy will prohibit sales of most sex toys, content that depicts sex acts and genitalia, and more starting July 29.

The indie seller published its Adult Nudity and Sexual Content policy yesterday, which states that sales of adult toys that are insertable, “applied to the genitalia,” or “designed for genitals to be inserted into them” will be prohibited. That pretty much runs the gamut — dildos, vibrators, rings, plugs, and the like will be banned. “Non-insertable and non-penetrable adult toys and sexual accessories,” such as BDSM wear, will be allowed as long as listings follow Etsy’s guidelines around mature content, also updated yesterday.

That’s just the beginning of the anti-adult rules in the new sexual content policy and the updated mature content guidelines. But fans of Tumblr’s infamous ban on “female-presenting nipples” will be delighted to learn that Etsy has jumped on that with both feet and is valiantly trying to claim its own share of that delicious infamy:

Etsy is also banning nudity for human models, including “gluteal clefts and female nipples/areolas.” If you’re selling a sexy item of clothing, for example, you must censor body parts, use a mannequin, or opt for just photographing the clothing.

Remember that my theory of pornocalypse focuses on financial inflection points — when a company is trying to go public or negotiate a new funding round or navigate an IPO or a merger/acquisition, that’s when we most often see formerly-welcome porn evicted from a platform.

There isn’t any news (as far as I know) of Etsy facing any major financial events, but a few quick minutes searching the financial press reveals many stories of Etsy having a bad first quarter in 2024 and facing a lot of investor pressure to improve profits. If they do have a massive financial event in 2024, tell all your friends you knew about it in advance because you saw the leading indicators on ErosBlog!

Similar Sex Blogging: