The power of pornography over our society became clear again last month, when popular London-based content creator subscription service OnlyFans announced it would ban ‘sexually explicit’ content from its platform – but abruptly turned the tide following criticism from creators and advocates of positive sex. .
While advocates of consenting content creation celebrated the overthrow, other advocates and pundits fear that OnlyFans’ seemingly out-of-control platform could lead to further exploitation of the individuals featured.
“We live in the world that pornography has created” Catherine A. MacKinnon, lawyer, scholar, writer, teacher and activist, writing for a New York Times editorial. “For more than three decades, researchers have documented that it desensitizes consumers to violence and spreads myths about rape and other lies about women’s sexuality.
“In doing so, it normalizes itself, becoming more and more invasive, intrusive and dangerous, surrounding us more and more intimately, preparing the culture so that it becomes difficult even to recognize its misdeeds”, MacKinnon, who also teaches the law at the University of Michigan. and Harvard Law School, continued to detail.
OnlyFans said the motive for the now-retracted ban was to work with credit card companies regarding payment processing issues, but there’s one more reason to think the platform is trying to get ahead of being exposed to exploitation, explains MacKinnon.
For starters, MacKinnon argues that content from OnlyFans and similar websites cannot consider a person a “sex worker,” writing that for some what they are doing is not sex “in the sense privacy ”, or work,“ in the sense of productivity and dignity.
In other words, for every freelance and consenting content creator on similar platforms, there are also individuals who are being abused and trafficked in front of the camera.
The legitimization of uncontrolled sexual abuse on webcam sites like OnlyFans can be detrimental to many, MacKinnon continues, especially when similar platforms see creators on the rise, as the economy is alluring for those in financial difficulty.
Sex work and the pandemic
Throughout the global pandemic, almost all industries have experienced tensions and difficulties, but sex work has been severely tested as many people are not allowed to physically interact outside of their own home. home, whether the rules are enforced by government blockades or private companies, the details of the conversation.
“The virus is a disaster for businesses with direct contact with customers – and sex work is no different,” says Goddess Cleo, a dominatrix from London, who recently spoke to the bbc discuss the surprising increase in the number of new women turning to an online platform to make money with explicit content.
Max Bennett, from the Stripchat website, where the public pays to watch live sex, also spoke to the BBC, saying: “Adult performers are moving to livecams, like traditional [markets] have largely closed.
This increase in creators has been documented across the board.
The US-based live streaming site Chaturbate has reported a 75% increase in the number of registered sex workers since the start of the epidemic – an increase faster than the rate at which audience traffic increases.
Much of this increase is due to stories spreading like wildfire on social media about ordinary people and celebrities who apparently hit the jackpot by posting on these websites, like celebrities. Jessika Power revealing to Yahoo! Way of life that she won $ 50,000 on OnlyFans after having an account for only five days.
But a lot of that is smoke in the mirrors, as an in-depth study by Influencer Marketing Hub found that the average OnlyFans user earns $ 180 per month, and most accounts earn less than $ 145 in the same amount of time. The truth is, the top percent of OnlyFans content creators earn 33 percent of all money on the platform, AfroTech reported earlier this month.
While many positive sex advocates would argue that it should be revered as shameless work as a way to earn honest money, privacy and anti-abuse advocates contend that online pornography is a ” gateway activity ”to operations.
Online sexual exploitation
MacKinnon details in his editorial that serious allegations have been made against OnlyFans regarding inadequate screening for content depicting incest, bestiality and child sexual abuse. In addition, another credible complaint was recently filed in Korea alleging that OnlyFans hosted videos of minors.
While OnlyFans responded by saying that it does not tolerate any violation of its policies or the law and takes action against users who do not keep themselves or others safe, MacKinnon writes that this is not enough.
“Tthere is no way to know if the pimps and traffickers recruit the reckless, the vulnerable or the desperate or coerce them off the screen and confiscate or scavenge the profits, as is typically the case in the industry sex, ”MacKinnon explains.
She goes on to write that most women enter the sex industry – online or in person – as minors, adding that their vulnerability is at the heart of their marketing as children are portrayed as adults and adults are often portrayed. like children.
While OnlyFans requires creators to be at least 18 and go through an age verification process, many say it’s easy to defeat or have an older person sign up for a minor.
To combat this injustice, MacKinnon points to the passage of an effective California bill, such as the “Legislation”adapts the best features of copyright, libel and trafficking law to solve this problem. ”
“If adopted,” MacKinnon writes, “it would create a civil lawsuit for victims of online sex trafficking – nude or sexual images of minors or adults who have been coerced or deceived or victims of theft. Once the notice is given, the trafficker would have to remove the materials or pay $ 100,000 for every two hours that they remain accessible.
MacKinnon concludes that anyone who is sexually trafficked through online platforms needs real protection to be successful in our world.
In light of recent filings and complaints, OnlyFans has released this statement:
OnlyFans is strictly an 18+ social media platform. OnlyFans does not tolerate any violation of our policies and we take immediate action to ensure the safety and security of our users. The Trust & Safety division of the platform has grown alongside the business and OnlyFans continues to dedicate the best resources to this area. OnlyFans is home to over 1.25 million creators. The Site has extensive policies and procedures in place to proactively monitor any attempted fraudulent access to the Platform, including access by minors, and in the event of a violation of these Terms, the Account is immediately closed. OnlyFans continues to increase surveillance measures to prevent fraudulent breaches.
Catherine A. MacKinnon is a lawyer, scholar, writer, teacher and activist. She teaches law at the University of Michigan and Harvard Law School and works for victims of sexual violence around the world.
its full New York Times editorial can be accessible here.
Further reading: Police sex workers: NYPD vice-unit targeted minorities, report says