Opinion | OnlyFans doesn’t make ‘sex work’ safe or ethical



OnlyFans became a household name during the pandemic when the demand for pornography skyrocketed. People started living their lives online, domestic violence exploded, women lost livelihoods even more than men, and inequalities increased. OnlyFans, niche porn as mediated soft prostitution, was able to capitalize on this dynamic.

OnlyFans was to conventional pornography what stripping was to prostitution: an entry-level activity, sexual display with what appears to be isolation from skin-to-skin exploitation, temporary employment for those with their backs to the wall, and few alternatives if at all. It offers the illusion of security and denial for manufacturers and consumers alike. But the outcry over the proposed ban made it clear that only explicit sex – mostly the sexual consumption of feminized bodies, usually female, gay or transsexual – sells in the world of pornography. As Dannii Harwood, the first so-called content creator at OnlyFans, told the New York Times, « When subscribers have seen it all, they move on to the next creator. » Empirical research has also documented this dynamic.

Although OnlyFans said the motive for the now withdrawn ban was to comply with the guidelines of credit card companies processing payments on the platform, there are some reasons to believe the platform was trying to get ahead of their Pornhub moment that the possible conditions of his girlfriend fantasy – youth, reduced capacity for action and poverty among them – could be exposed. There have been allegations of inadequate screening for incest, sodomy and child sexual abuse. A recent complaint filed in South Korea alleged that OnlyFans hosted videos of minors. (OnlyFans has said that the company “will not tolerate any violations of our policies and we will take immediate action to ensure the safety of our users” or coerce them off-screen and confiscate or siphon off the proceeds, as is the case in the sex industry Typical. OnlyFans takes 20 percent of any salary, the pimp.

The tacit discussion of the rule proposed by OnlyFans is whether it was ever possible to prevent underage teens from being used on the site. Pre-pubescent children, maybe. But almost anyone who has passed puberty can be portrayed as a so-called consenting adult. Most women enter the sex industry as a minor; their vulnerability is of central importance for their attractiveness and thus their marketability. Children cannot be protected from sexual exploitation as long as pornography is protected and adult prostitution is tolerated because it is the same group of people at two points in time, sometimes not more than a day apart, sometimes at the same time – children shown as adults, adults shown as children .

Likewise, there is no concern about people who have been forced, pimped or deceived or whose intimate pictures have been stolen from them. Much of the comments on OnlyFans’ once-proposed rule complain that the consumer should have the right to buy what the producer should be selling. Meanwhile, the forced, raped, exploited and monitored have no effective right to be bought and sold against their will. As long as the injured lack effective rights and equality based on gender, ethnicity and gender, survivors of abuse through these websites – including Pornhub and SeekingArrangement and related websites – are subject to theft, coercion and all kinds of unauthorized dispossession of their sexuality.

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