Proprietor of pornography — and linked beneath every viral Tweet — OnlyFans engineered outrage among its users with rumours of a ban on explicit content. Payment processors threatened to withdraw OnlyFans’ access to services for its lax standards on platforming child-abuse and non-consensual content. This ban generated much buzz on the nights bookending my appearance on Mark Dolan’s GB News show; with socially conservative commentators (and my Young Voices colleagues) condemning the “live and let live” moral relativism of the website’s users.
Last year, MindGeek removed nine million unverified videos once lawsuits exposed their websites hosted child sex-trafficking. This did not convince Visa & Mastercard, who refused to reinstate access to their services. The precedent of financial blacklisting undermines the intended impartiality of free-markets; moving society toward the “ethical state” model of ideologically approved commerce Mussolini envisioned. However, sex is not speech; and OnlyFans’ commerce has become 80% sex. OnlyFans shifting their business model toward providing non-explicit services was not censorship, but an ethically-informed act of free-association. It’s a tragedy, however, not only that it took the threat of monetary unviability — rather than the suppressed screams of their consciences — for the owners of OnlyFans to consider killing this business model, but that they ultimately did not have the moral fortitude to wash their hands of this exploitative industry.
The decision was quickly rescinded; accompanied by the usual virtue-signal genuflection about fostering an environment of ‘inclusion’. But abandoning the prospect of exclusivity — of earning the ownership of something valuable — is the crux as to why “sex work” is not only not “real work,” but is a cancer on the contemporary social fabric.
In short: it’s never okay to do OnlyFans.
The Legal/Moral Dichotomy
I’m not speaking legally; though the only distinction between pornography and prostitution is the camera in the room. It is more a question of personal dignity, and social responsibility. Discourse has become so infatuated with amassing rights that we’ve not only conflated them with entitlements to what others own, but we’ve abandoned our sense of responsibility. Implicit in responsibility is the judgement that it is good to make yourself the best version of yourself as is possible; and to make yourself of use to those who are worthy of respect because they do the same. To paraphrase Peterson: “Clean your room before you go about ordering the world.” In abandoning these obligations, the Anglosphere has become pathologically permissive. The modern idea that standards advised we follow are offensive and imposed unjustly is immortalised in the odious phrase “Don’t judge.” Judgement is the administration of what each person deserves: and, if you want to earn a worthy partner, you should work until you’re someone who deserves one.
Total inclusivity is the abolition of just standards. To make a mean between inclusivity and exclusivity is to discriminate between valid and invalid judgements. A valid exclusive judgement is based on a person’s actions, not their immutable characteristics. MLK’s adage on judging ‘the content of [one’s] character’ maps onto more than just abolishing racial prejudice. The same individualism goes for dating: with relationships the reward for fair judgement of someone as making virtuous choices. Therefore, OnlyFans’ users should not be surprised when permitting the vice of promiscuity is off-putting to people looking for a viable, sexually-exclusive partner. Inclusivity is anathema to monogamy.
So what are these virtuous choices?
The morality of sexuality is often said to be a “Grey Area”. The propriety-versus-promiscuity debate isn’t one of rights violations, so legal prescriptions cannot be objectively made against sleeping around. But, as with many “Grey Areas”, one should take an Existentialist approach: if we cannot know what is right to do, we can at least avoid doing what we intuit is wrong to do. With arguments favouring promiscuity, pornography, and prostitution being based on hedonistic fleeting pleasure, or it producing no negative externalities (“I’m not hurting anyone…”), means we know it isn’t a sustainable behaviour which does you good in the long term. It’s always framed as being “not that bad”, rather than “good.” Like drug or drink dependency, promiscuity and pornography are waved away as not actions which are constructive, but as vices which must be reduced to be manageable. The implication underlying it all is it would be better if you weren’t addicted at all.
The stigma relabelled “Slut Shaming” demonstrates we have an intuitive sense of “hook-up culture” being bad for us. Opposition to promiscuity is rooted in it being the antonym of sexuality’s evolutionary utility. Intimacy is an adhesive for relationships which build the foundations of the family. Sex is as emotional — neurochemically speaking — an act as it is reproductive. Promiscuity artificially impedes conception, and its surrounding language treats attachment as a disease (“Don’t catch feelings”…). Pornography is a further digital abstraction from that: vicarious gratification which advances you no further toward the goal of earning the intimacy craved.
The modern view that sex is purely recreational is as incorrect as prominent feminists — like Simone De Beauvoir — claiming heterosexual sex ‘always constitutes a kind of rape’. It mistakes the misuse of a tool for its function. A hammer can be used to knock nails in, ice a cake, or crack a skull in 80s slasher fashion. But one wouldn’t say hammers are for cake decoration just because someone tried it; nor should hammers be banned when one madman uses it to inflict suffering. Sex may be misused for power, personal pleasure, or to perpetrate evil; but those misuses don’t eradicate its primary purpose of founding a family. In fact, perverting that purpose is the cause of much suffering for those misusing it.
Evie Magazine revealed Cosmopolitan’s writers ‘Lied to women to sell feminism.’ Their promotion of promiscuity, unyielding workplace productivity, and the abolition of family was insincere and hypocritical; with the writers living conservative family lifestyles, disconnected from damage inflicted on a generation of young women. In atomising individuals from the relationships which provide life localised meaning, familial instincts become reoriented toward “oppressed” groups, grand social causes, and the State. It’s why Sexual Liberation activists — like Beauvoir, and Kate Millet — folded Marxism into their feminism: using women’s supposed liberation as a Trojan Horse for socialism. Beware your behaviours serving the will of others; or as Jung warned, don’t let your ideas possess you.
“It isn’t hurting anyone” - Is that true?
There is always another party implied in using pornography. Though OnlyFans earners may say they don’t feel objectified, the disturbing truth is that the clientele of online pornography will consume explicit content without certainty it was made consensually. Coercion could be behind every camera, and those willing to front the money for it couldn’t care less. Their pleasure takes precedence over someone else’s trauma.
The directness of the artificial relationship of OnlyFans’ in particular, between those paraded on its digital Red Light District and their subscribers, displaces meaningful relationships in the minds of impressionable, inadequate men; and negates the need for them improve themselves to earn one. OnlyFans’ user-base swelled during lockdown, when dating and non-cohabiting relationships were made illegal.
To an extent, the concept of attractiveness, intelligence, and wealth are all intersectional feminists’ favourite accusation: privileges. Height, parentage, and facial symmetry are all immutable characteristics which we judge potential partners on; sometimes with equal, often unconscious, weighting as their behaviours, interests, and achievements. And, while we all can improve our appearances, intelligence, and financial circumstances through hard work, there are always limits on how far one can advance in a given field. Most people won’t become models, even though they could work their way into the upper echelons of good-looking. But it’s a futile effort to “abolish” these limits, influences, and standards. Instead, we should work to become conscious of them, work on ourselves to negate them as much as possible, and work to value the things our partners choose, rather than the misfortunes they’re stuck with.
All of this is to say: these isolated young men who are addicted to buying their way into a surrogate girlfriend through online pornography are as much obligated to work themselves out of this unbecoming compulsion, as the OnlyFans’ “creators” are obligated to stop pedalling their wares to addicts. Just as they should save their money for investments and self-improvements, OnlyFans’ “content creators” should exercise restraint and not feed their bad habit. The lethal “Incel” phenomena is equal parts the individual failures of men (often without fathers holding them to account), as it is a culture which mires boys in barrage of over-sexualisation from early adolescence.
Gen-Z are experiencing a “sexual recession”: caused in part by online porn addition. Another factor is the hypergamy and distortion of sexual standards caused by the superficiality of “hook-up culture.” The abolition of commitment (as the prerequisite to intimacy) hyper-concentrates the dating pool, causing less people to have more encounters with each other.
Dating app trends display how perceptions of desirability are distorted. OkCupid’s data revealed two-thirds of men compete for one-third of women; whereas women rank 80% of men as unattractive. This impersonal, irresponsible approach devalues virtuous behaviour by prioritising visual appeal and instant gratification. In essence, it values the complexion skin over the content of one’s character. This means — between bed-hopping models and porn-addicted Incels — good men and women fall through the cracks and can’t find one another. This — paired with the lockdown relationship ban, and economic fallout of how governments handled pandemics — has continued the developed world’s ‘baby bust’. If there’s one thing needed to alleviate the mental health crises caused by the international approach to COVID, it’s the individual meaning provided by belonging to a loving family.
Despite this — instead of making a case for reinstating standards of monogamy, commitment, and personal responsibility — some continue to make the utilitarian case that pornography is necessary to relieves the urges of men who would otherwise assault women for gratification. (For the sake of this argument, we’ll put aside litany of case studies which state pornography addiction as prerequisites to violence.) To argue an industry based on exploitation of women and girls is a necessary suppressant for a minority of evil men is a case for allowing individuals to become sacrificial lambs to satisfy the urges of a hypothetical collective. And, as for the rebuttal, “What if it was consensual porn”: I return to the arguments that consent is always incapable to verify with pornography; and that freely choosing “sex work” does not negate the debasement inherent in the act. The integrity of one should not be tarnished for the sadistic enjoyment of others.
What must be done?
The message to men, therefore, is to act like one. Work hard; be honest; earn yourself a woman who sets fair expectations for you. If you’re attractive, confident, and accomplished, then don’t poison the well by sleeping around and selling false-promises. These obligations are complimented by the responsibility for young women to — if aiming to attract men who value hard work, and earn the exclusive rewards meritocracy promises — not take the easy way out, and prostitute your youth and beauty to a whole category of unworthy men (rightly) excluded from your dating expectations. No price can be put on propriety. To paraphrase Aristotle: “If you’re everybody’s girlfriend, then you’re nobody’s girlfriend.”
The message to young women, at the peak of their profitable sexual prestige: help young men kick the habit by quitting your profiteering off their both involuntary and self-imposed inadequacy. The world — and women specifically — will thank you when your enterprise isn’t contingent on there being less competent men around.