2020 has come and gone, and all of the year’s highlights were jammed down our throats for the entirety of the holiday season. Amongst the endless overused jokes about how 2020 was a bad year, there was hardly a mention of one of the fastest growing social media sites of the year: OnlyFans. The site is a billion-dollar business, and no one wants to talk about it because they are afraid of the "p" word. Porn. There, I said it. In 2021, we need to grow the f*ck up. All of the amazing progress humans make every day — from making vaccines to space exploration — and we are all still too scared by archaic taboo to openly talk about porn. Sex and porn are part of the human experience, and we should talk about them the way we would anything else so fundamental in our lives.
OnlyFans is a rapidly growing social media platform where content creators post videos or pictures locked behind a paywall in which the content creator can dictate the price of. The content on the site has fewer restrictions than other social media sites such as Instagram or Twitter, contributing to its popularity. OnlyFans has become a hot spot for professional and amateur porn stars, celebrities and social media influencers to earn money for posting content to please fans.
OnlyFans popularity has grown massively amidst COVID-19, a period of isolation that has been forced on so many. In a world where mandatory lockdowns and social distancing have squashed millions of love lives, the demand for adult content has skyrocketed. Google trends of the past year show a spike in searches for OnlyFans that almost perfectly mimics the rise in COVID-19 cases. The site is one of today’s largest media businesses with 85 million users and more than 1 million content creators, many of whom are raking in a hefty pile of cash.
Many in the celebrity world have made their debut as OnlyFans content creators, bringing their massive followings to the site. Tyga is partying with naked women in his videos, Beyoncé is rapping about the site in a remix of Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage” and Bella Thorne became an overnight OnlyFans sensation. Thorne, a former Disney star turned self-directed porn star, grossed — wait for it — $1 million in one day. Other celebrities on the site range from Real Housewives to rappers, singers, fitness models, Instagram models — you name it, and they probably have an OnlyFans page. The site truly has something for everyone.
OnlyFans is changing the porn industry as a whole and capitalizing on the extended quarantines many are enduring. At the beginning of COVID-19, many businesses were forced to close their doors indefinitely. This included strip clubs, leaving many strippers out of work. OnlyFans offered these strippers and other sex workers a safe place to make money. Along with providing jobs in a period of prolonged uncertainty, the site offers sex workers a greater sense of safety and more control over their work than they would find in a traditional setting. OnlyFans puts the power in the hands of the content creator, allowing them to decide what content to create and how much it will cost. Sex workers using OnlyFans also receive a bigger cut at the end of the day than they would in the established sex industry. OnlyFans only takes 20% of a creator's earnings, while the typical cut in the porn industry is often closer to 50%. The company has shelled out over $600 million to its content creators and still managed to gross nearly $400 million in annual revenue and grow its value well into the billions.
OnlyFans was a major part of many people’s lives in 2020, but because of the stigma around porn, it was scarcely spoken about openly or publicly. Finding detailed information about what actually goes on in OnlyFans is a challenge without outright joining the site. Porn remains a topic too taboo for mainstream discussion and coverage despite the progress on issues of sexuality we have made. We have to change that.
Trust me, no one cares if you watch porn. Chances are, they do too. It's time to talk about it like we live in the modern era. It’s 2021, not 1821.
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Lauren is a journalism major from Baltimore.