Ever since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, traffic to porn sites and subscription services such as OnlyFans have skyrocketed in popularity in both content creators and subscribers alike. Fans can subscribe to the feeds of celebrities and models and unlock extra content and even pornographic clips for tips and fees. The website has been perceived as a "safer" alternative to working with the porn industry, as creators are responsible for the content that is posted and it is under their control.
People seem to see this as "empowering" to be sexually liberated in this manner, and believe that it is spreading an acceptance of sexuality and body positivity. In reality, it really is just a more glorified porn setup. The impact that this has had on younger people is absolutely disgusting. It is already easy enough for someone to access sexual content within the touch of a button on a phone or computer, but it glorifies sexualizing yourself, even more, when people see celebrities do it.
When younger girls and boys see a popular celebrity making hundreds of thousands of dollars off of selling nude photos online, they think that is an option for them to make money, and they cannot wait to turn eighteen in order to become a porn star, rather than a doctor, teacher, etc. It is creating a generation of materialistic, naive people, unaware of the psychological damage this industry can bring them for the rest of their lives.
Rapper Danielle Bregoli, also known as Bhad Bhabie, known for viral songs and a Dr. Phil show appearance that got her in the public eye, made an account on OnlyFans the literal day she turned eighteen. In just seven days, she had earned one million dollars from subscribers and tips, along with several comments from creepy men saying that they had been waiting five years for this moment. This had been a record-breaking amount of money earned in such a short amount of time for a creator on the website.
The feedback received from her mainly adult male audience speaks volumes about the abusive and toxic male gaze ideal that sex feeds into. Bregoli is one of the countless women being sexually exploited and groomed by the internet, although it seems that her only motive for this is gaining more money, regardless of the creepy comments she receives.
Children are being highly sexualized, only fueled by social media, especially through Instagram "models" such as Belle Delphine. Since she turned eighteen, she has been known for being in this industry, her entire aesthetic centered around wearing little girls' clothing and even more disturbingly, swimsuits. In January, she was under fire for a publicity stunt where she posted photos of her roleplaying a young girl being kidnapped and sexually assaulted. She has a platform of over two million followers, so clearly she has somewhat of a platform and audience who seemingly enjoys her sick content.
Sex work is not real work. It does not require any real talent, hard work, or dedication. Setting up a camera and taking nude pictures is not creating anything positive for this world. Porn is prostitution with a camera, and OnlyFans is essentially both porn and prostitution. It is an epidemic that encourages cheating, unrealistic expectations, and is extremely damaging to the value of women especially. Women think that they are being supportive, encouraging women with OnlyFans to get their money they "deserve", etc, but what happened to working hard for something? What happened to studying, going to school, and saying you worked for it?
The porn industry and social media have created a generation that expects instant gratification and material objects. "How many tips and subscribers can I get so I can buy a Chanel bag or $1000 shoes?" I was extremely disturbed to see in my Instagram recommendations that a girl from my high school was encouraging her own account, with her bio stating "your girlfriend doesn't have to know". This seems more like a cry for attention and desperation within yourself rather than someone who is genuinely confident and loves and respects themselves.
Someone who is genuinely empowered would fight for the empowerment of the women and children being damaged by this disgusting industry. There are countless women who are forced against their will into sex trafficking and the porn industry who are psychologically damaged for life - which leads them to self-harm and suicide.
Sex work is misogynistic and only feeds into the idea that women's bodies serve the male gaze. Sex work teaches men that it is acceptable to view women as sex objects and fuels rape culture. It is not modern feminism, it is objectification for the sole purpose of material objects. If women in this generation would truly want to take ownership of their bodies and their sexuality, they would help fight for women in countries where women truly have to fight the patriarchy just to live.
There are countless countries where women simply get killed for being women and would dream to have a fraction of the freedoms many women have. So, if you are ever thinking of becoming a sex worker, instead, think of finding a way to fight for gender equality and actually make a difference for women around the world.