by Poppy Coburn
Friday, 20
August 2021
Spotted
15:09

OnlyFans is nothing without porn

Stopping its creators from making explicit content will be the end of the site
by Poppy Coburn
Bella Thorne joined OnlyFans to “remove the stigma behind sex”

OnlyFans announced last night that they will be removing “sexually explicit content” from their service by October, as well as enforcing measures to ensure models are over the age of 18 and fully consent to having their content shared online. The reason for the site’s decision came from their financial backers, after pressure from payment processing companies.

There has been a significant backlash in recent years against pornography sites. A New York Times piece by Nicholas Kristof revealed how Pornhub was tacitly allowing — and profiting from — videos of rape and child sexual abuse on the site caused PayPal to end its payment processing work with the site. Laila Mickelwait, founder of the ‘Traffickinghub’ campaign against Pornhub, created a change.org petition that currently sits at around 1.25 million signatures. Anti-porn sentiment is no longer confined to the fringes of the religious Right, or the Dworkinite feminist Left.

OnlyFans was able to escape most of the scrutiny directed at more established porn aggregators. Defenders have pointed out that the site operates differently from massive pornography conglomerates like MindGeek, owner of Pornhub. The site promotes itself based upon its subscription model, allowing the ‘models’ to ostensibly have more control over who can view their content. As such, the monetisation structure is a lot less opaque than that provided by the big porn studios, with creators knowing exactly where the subscription money is going.

There are plenty of high profile OnlyFans ‘success’ stories. Some content creators have amassed hundreds of thousands of fans, and millions of pounds, through the site. The number of creators who actually achieve this level of success is very small, however – the average person makes just $180 a month sharing their most intimate pictures online.

However, for every creator rocketed to superstardom, there are hundreds of women who have come away from the site far worse than before. The para-social nature of the site also encourages stalkers, feeding into their delusion that they have a genuine relationship with the girls (one man tracked a woman down to her house). The control and privacy touted by the site is mostly illusory — and by the time that creators find out it is often too late.

Creators are, sadly, also coming to the same conclusion that the ‘old school’ pornographers did. User CoconutKitty143, real name Diana Deets, achieved massive success on the site — by photoshopping her face to look more childlike. Her profile is highly disturbing, showing half-nude pictures of an adult woman’s sexualised body superimposed with the head of a pubescent teen. Deet’s explanation for why she edits her content is that, having previously ‘cam-girled’ for men online, she learned that ‘a lot of men left me for the next youngest model they could find’. She was just 22 years old.

OnlyFans positioned itself as a force for kindness in the sex industry. ‘Ethical porn’ is a pleasant, progressive narrative, but the seediness and exploitative power imbalances have always been essential to the creation of pornography. If OnlyFans is determined to clean up their act, they shouldn’t be surprised to watch their business model implode.

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  • One aspect of the debate is that those in favour of pornography typically argue that on screen behaviour does not influence the behaviour of those who watch . But the advertising industry is predicated on the opposite case.

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