Is OnlyFans feminist? The power of owning your image

Olivia Olphin August 26, 2020
Is OnlyFans feminist? The power of owning your image

Is OnlyFans feminist? Last week, to the general delight of Twitter users, Bella Thorne announced she’s joining OnlyFans. In just one week, the former Disney star reportedly made over $2 million sharing snapshots of her life along with more flirty content on the platform.

Appetite for the sex industry has only increased during lockdown, with daily visits to Pornhub up by 11.6 per cent since February 24 to March 17. However, most content made for the streaming platform is curated for and made by men.

Bella Thorne – and other OnlyFans creators like her – is monetising the access to her selfies and photo content in order to have direct control of her own image. Considering this, is OnlyFans a more feminist alternative?

Is OnlyFans feminist?

OnlyFans allows users to monetise their own content, whether this is behind the scene videos, racy photos or even straight-up porn. Fans pay creators directly through the platform’s subscription model, which many say fosters a more intimate connection between the two parties.

On top of this, creators – especially those making adult content – get to have complete control over all aspects of the process. They can choose the types of content they want to post and what, if any, requests they’re comfortable fulfilling.

But OnlyFans is not without controversy, with some women reporting uncomfortable interactions with male subscribers, and the worry that the site isn’t policing underage users. Still, some women are finding the platform both emotionally and economically liberating, as some are reportedly earning up to £35,000 a month.

Women take control of their own image

Revenge porn is a growing issue. Men and women are sharing intimate pictures with each other and sexting has increased within Gen-Z, especially during lockdown. It is naive to assume that young people are not communicating through explicit images. Never has it been more important to have full ownership of one’s pictures.

Bella Thorne joining OnlyFans is part of a trend of women taking back control. She’s also leaked her own nudes in order to take power back from a hacker who stole them and threatened to post them online.

Bella told Paper Magazine that ‘OnlyFans is the first platform where I can fully control my image; without censorship, without judgement, and without being bullied online for being me’.

It’s not all about nudity

There is an assumption that if you have an OnlyFans you will be producing X-rated content, but Thorne has explicitly said she will not be posting nude selfies.

OnlyFans seems to be pro female choice – the choice to make money their own way; the choice of whether to produce adult content, or other kinds of videos. There is less pressure on women to post anything other than what they are comfortable with, and they also continue to own their content.

In a recent interview, former porn actress Mia Khalifa revealed that she only made $12,000 during her three month stint in the porn industry. Her videos have been viewed nearly a billion times, but, according to the actress, it is the production companies and porn sites that are making most of the money.

Bella Thorne moving to OnlyFans is an example of a woman making financial decisions in an industry that historically underpays women for their vital contribution.

The problem with women monetising male desire

The debate regarding women owning their image and sexuality intensified with the recent WAP controversy regarding Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s rap duet. The song garnered both extreme praise and extreme hate, with many hailing it as the next step in female empowerment, and others arguing it’s just a different flavour of female objectification.

Although OnlyFans is far from perfect, the platform presents obvious advantages to women’s freedom to create and distribute consensual content, while owning the entire process.

Bella Thorne has savvily capitalised on a booming industry and created a platform for herself that not only pays well, but allows her to be herself. It’s time the internet got used to unapologetic women enjoying their own bodies and sexual desires.

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Olivia Olphin is an English Literature graduate and a film and literature fanatic. She has many years of reviewing experience, recently working as accredited press for the London Film Festival. She has also written widely about culture and sex education, as well as LGBTQ+ and women's issues.