Sex sells. We’ve all heard the popular saying used to justify putting sexually explicit content in movies, music videos, advertisements, and more. But today, sex is selling on the internet through social media platforms, pornography distribution, and of course, OnlyFans.
OnlyFans is not just an adult content site, though that’s what we most often refer to it as in 2022. It’s a content subscription service, a place online where creators can offer exclusive content to their subscribers for a price, which allows for very few (virtually none, in fact) content restrictions to be put in place.
In 2020, OnlyFans announced it reached more than 30 million registered users and more than 450,000 creators. Early last year, the platform announced they’d be banning pornographic material, voicing concerns about pressure from banks and payment processors. They reversed the decision within one week after an immense amount of online backlash.
As a result, pornography and adult content have become the platform’s reputation, and creators willing to sell their bodies in the virtual space have flocked to OnlyFans in droves. We’re told by the loudest voices in culture that this new frontier is empowering to women, that it allows for capitalization of one’s body – after all, “my body, my choice,” right?
But what if OnlyFans is actually disempowering women? What if the commercialization of your body and the digitization of sex are actually causing harm to our society we may not even be aware of?
Is $200,000 a Month Worth It?
In a recent podcast interview, 23-year-old OnlyFans content creator Stella Barey shared her experience creating sexual content for the site and how she has turned her body into a financial commodity worth $200,000+ a month.
Yes, you read that right.
“I don’t have any boundaries,” Barey shared on The Iced Coffee Hour. “It’s crazy, but I don’t have any [boundaries]. I have gotten strep five times from licking my own poop off of people. I’m telling you, I have no boundaries.”
Ewww, first of all. You might ask what would possess a beautiful 23-year-old woman to want to eat her own feces off another human being?
Influencer Marketing Hub reports that much of the money earned through OnlyFans is actually outside of the base subscription offered by each creator – it’s earned through commissions for privately requested work on the platform. OnlyFans sets a minimum and maximum amount for base subscription rates, ranging from $4.99 to $49.99 per month. Beyond what’s included in their subscription, if someone wanted to privately pay you an astronomical sum for a video of you performing a certain act, you could absolutely take them up on the offer.
Much of the money earned through OnlyFans comes from commissions for privately requested work.
OnlyFans creator Miss Swedish Bella (a.k.a. Monica Huldt), who earns more than $100,000 per year on the platform, says creating OnlyFans content can’t be a part-time investment by the creator. Rather, it needs to be essentially a full-time job. "I would never advise someone doing it if they only wanted to do it like two days a week or something. It's not a part-time thing in your mind. You wouldn't make enough money,” she shared with Business Insider.
Because of the consistency necessary to make a significant income, creators on the platform are incentivized to make as much content as possible, both for subscribers and for privately commissioned extras.
Like Pornography, OnlyFans Isn’t Immune To Trafficking
The argument is often made that this is the natural result of capitalism – that women (and men alike!) should feel empowered by making a living off selling explicit content of their bodies online. After all, what someone decides to do with their body is really their choice at the end of the day, right?
It’s the same argument used to justify the content we see in the pornography industry, never mind the fact that much of this content involves participants who have been trafficked against their will or even minors who are not legally capable of making such decisions in the first place.
The same is true for OnlyFans. Deputy Joseph Scaramucci of the McLennan County Sheriff's Office in Texas has spent nearly a decade investigating sex trafficking and has turned his attention recently to OnlyFans in particular. He shared with News 4 San Antonio, “When we looked at specific cases targeting human trafficking, there was very obvious signs of people that were under 3rd party control.”
Deputy Scaramucci also says despite mandating creators be 18 or over, OnlyFans often hosts accounts of minors posting sexually explicit content after they navigated their way around the age restrictions.
OnlyFans is a grooming site, plain and simple.
Tim Palmbach, the director of the University of New Haven Center for Forensic Investigations of Trafficking in Persons, says OnlyFans is a grooming site, plain and simple. “What it’s doing is grooming and finding our young, vulnerable children in the general social media, and convincing them to come on over…and then grooming them to do more and more sexually explicit, exploitive activity under a lie that they will make millions.”
It’s clear to see the narrative of empowerment and taking ownership of your body through the platform is a thinly veiled one, at best – many creators aren’t making that choice for themselves to begin with.
Closing Thoughts: Women Were Made for More
As a content creator myself, I absolutely understand the pressure to be consistently creating content day in and day out. It’s a process that can be completely draining, leaving you feeling empty of yourself by the end of the day. I cannot imagine how exacerbated that feeling would become after creating sexually explicit content of my body for thousands of subscribers to consume.
Our culture tells women we should liberate ourselves from tradition by embracing sexual anarchy – that we should have sex with whoever we want, whenever we want. That we should sell our bodies digitally and physically, as it’s just a commodity that we might as well capitalize on. That we should expect consequence-free sex, even though no such thing exists.
We were designed for more than false expectations of our body through a screen. We were designed for more than thousands of people experiencing a false intimacy with us when we deserve real intimacy that lasts. We were designed for more than treating our bodies as something to be sold, instead of something to be celebrated. We are made for more than OnlyFans, than hookup culture, than sexual anarchy. $200,000 a month or not – women are worth more.
Readers make our world go round. Make your voice heard in the official Evie reader survey.