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BENITEZ: OnlyFans is no better than any other adult content platform

Column: Hear me out

With the increased popularity and visibility of OnlyFans creators on social media, society needs to consider the impact on young women and how they view themselves. – Photo by Onlyfans

OnlyFans launched in 2016 as a subscription-based platform for "adult content," and since then, it has completely changed the rules of the game. With the pandemic, the app, the content and its creators started to gain immense popularity, heavily influenced by TikTok and adult creators.

From Statista's 2022 research, besides achieving a gross revenue of 2.5 billion dollars only last year, this imposing platform has also brought back important discussions on sex work and the ethics behind it.

Pornography is a multi-billion-dollar business. It has been around as long as humans have walked the Earth when they would paint sexual images on the walls of caves.

With the technological advancements in the 20th century and the invention of the internet, porn consumption increased quickly and steadily, turning it into the monster we know today.

The truth is that pornography and the porn industry are incredibly problematic in many areas. For the sake of word count, I will not be getting into all of them, but I would like to discuss the negative impacts there are on women specifically.

From the late 70s to the early 80s, the sex wars revolutionized how we look at sexuality, gender roles and sex work. The second wave of feminism helped point out the absurdity of the ideas of the time, and it also preached for women's liberation.

But even though it made a great difference, it was not enough.

Through pornography, women are constantly objectified and turned into mere objects of desire. Moreover, women's bodies are used as commodities to be bought and sold, and their value is determined by their sexual appeal to men.

Independent of how porn is being produced, it will most likely contribute to the already gigantic culture of women objectification. 

In her book "Pornography: Men Possessing Women," Andrea Dworkin, a feminist activist and writer, argued that pornography was a form of sexual terrorism that perpetuated the subordination of women by men.

She stated that objectification helped the patriarchal structure thrive, and to be honest, she makes some fair points.

Most importantly, pornography contributes to the normalization of violence against women by presenting it as a natural and almost inevitable part of sex. Approximately 90 percent of scenes contained physical aggression, while approximately 50 percent contained verbal aggression, primarily in the form of name-calling, according to a 2010 research that analyzed more than 300 scenes from best-selling pornography videos.

There are thousands of studies that examine porn consumption among men, and the results are always shocking. For instance, one study shows that "up to 65 percent of young adult men and 18 percent of young women report watching pornography at least once a week."

Consequently, several studies discuss the relationship between porn consumption, aggression and sexual harassment. Although we can not generalize, it is very clear that pornography significantly negatively impacts how we act in our society, especially for men.

Now going back to OnlyFans, one of the main "positive" points of the platform is the ability to create adult content without depending on pornography companies that are very well known for exploiting their workers. It also provides the opportunity for people to have easy access to sex work.

Nevertheless, the platform turned out to be as problematic as any other one that deals with adult content.

First, it encourages young girls to go into sex work. Many OnlyFans creators like to share how much money they make from their lifestyle and show their luxurious lifestyles through social media.

Anna Paul is a great example of this type of influencer. The Australian 23-year-old has approximately 7 million followers on TikTok and is one of her country's top OnlyFans creators. She rose to fame after sharing all the trips, luxuries and commodities that her lifestyle offers.

Like many other influencers, Paul consciously or unconsciously glamorizes the sex-work lifestyle. Young girls are constantly being exposed to the possibility of going into sex work, and OnlyFans only makes the prospect more attractive. With an 18+ requirement, posting yourself naked online has never been easier.

And that is a problem. We should not be telling girls to go into sex work. The porn industry is harmful, objectifying and degrading. The luxurious lifestyle we often see online is a small part of what goes on behind the scenes of the OnlyFans platform.

Women should be encouraged to get educated, have passions and dreams, defend what they believe in and be the best version of themselves that they can possibly be. OnlyFans is just another way for women to sell their bodies online, reinforcing the idea we are only valued for our physical assets.

Marina Benitez is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in journalism and media studies and minoring in gender and media. Her column, "Hear me out," runs on alternate Tuesdays.

*Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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