The Debasement of Sex

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The Odalisque, 1745 (Oil on Canvas), by Francois Boucher

September 19, 2023

OnlyFans may seem like something of an anomaly in human history. In some ways, it is. Now men have access to millions of pictures and videos from women that they desire for as little as $10 a month, sometimes even less. But prostitution is the “world’s oldest profession” for a reason, and that’s because sex, or sexual experiences, is a physical necessity. But most importantly, it isn’t always the sexual gratification that men are looking for as much as it is the desire to not feel so lonely, and the desire to engage in some form of sexual activity with a woman who wants them. 

This is not a new observation, but recently, the over-saturation of women providing these services has mutually exploited more men and women alike than at any other time. But it isn’t OnlyFans and the ubiquity of sex that has necessarily redefined sex. OnlyFans is a symptom of an encompassing culture that debased what was once sacred—and not just in any religious sense, but sociologically. Societies must have behaviors that are norms and those that are sanctioned, things that are sacred and things that are profane. Without differentiation or delineation between the two, we are at risk of conflating our liberation with our licentiousness; which is to say, what we ought to do versus what we want to do. And oftentimes what we want to do does not mean that we ought to do it. 

While “liberated” women may argue that having an OnlyFans is not prostitution, it is hard to explain how selling one’s body for money, be it online or in person, is any different. To go around this, empowerment advocates may argue that prostitution has negative connotations, and instead we should “normalize” sex work, i.e., turn what has been a longstanding societal profanity into an amoral transaction. But sex work has become normalized. Seeing a woman with a “spicy” link in her bio is not a remarkable deviation. 

The prominence of OnlyFans is indicative of a larger culture shift in how we consider sex. A clip posted to social media featured a woman claiming that “Virginity has absolutely no value, it has no moral value and I refuse to teach my children that it has value.” This attitude is not so easily separable from the female empowerment movement, where women threw off their metaphorical shackles and determined, once and for all, what they can or cannot do with their bodies; they determined that they were its sole arbiters. 

It should be noted that in no healthy society is anyone the sole arbiter of his life or body. Consistent with the political definition, liberty does not free one of his responsibilities to the “common good.” Again, liberty does not mean licentiousness.

(READ MORE: Should We ‘Ban’ OnlyFans)

But in effect, this modern sexually revolutionized definition whereby liberty is the ability to do as whatever one pleases, may mean showcasing one’s body to thousands of “fans” for a much heftier income than could be earned through stripping or practicing law or being a doctor or an engineer. 

This is not to suggest that being a “sex worker” is not laborious. Surely, it is. Prostitution in any capacity is not a walk in the park, but that is not the only reason why it is profitable. Despite revolutionary proclamation that sex is not some sacred thing, if it weren’t then would it be as exploitable? Would there be a paywall behind the content at all? Would there be a cover charge for access, and then sometimes a requirement to buy drinks too (PPV)? 

Women understand that their bodies are desirable and that bodies generally are our temples, and they capitalize on those facts by commodifying their objectification. If this is “empowering,” then who are we to argue. But empowerment does not mean liberation, especially when the advocates of this culture are reinforcing the myth that they are allegedly attempting to dispel: that women have been seen as property, nothing more than a body for male pleasure. The caveat, of course, is that this fact becomes negligible when the six figures hit the bank. Sex workers are not feminists dismantling “the patriarchal system,” they are capitalist beneficiaries of it. 

However, men are not benefitting from this sexual liberation and female empowerment craze. Some women may roll their eyes and say, “who cares,” and that would precisely be the point. As culture shifted away from traditional conceptions of sex and male-female bonds, society has become more inclusive for women at the expense of their counterparts. Pursuing social equality—whatever that may mean—between men and women would not have been an issue had it not come with the progressive misandry. In universities, masculinity is almost exclusively a “toxic” characteristic. But the conversation derails from the beginning. 

“Has the sexual revolution failed?” Olivia Reingold asked in Dating Pool Dropouts, published in The Free Press. For one reason or another, they are actively dropping out of the dating pool. The former in-house sociologist for Tinder and Bumble reportedly remarked that “The traditional markers of adulthood like buying a home, completing college, and getting married, are all becoming far harder to achieve,” Carbino said. “Many men perceive themselves to be far less marriageable. And in turn, many women perceive them to be less marriageable, too.” 

But with women’s independence from men’s income or the stability that they may have otherwise provided, women can privilege more “frivolous” qualities in a mate, according to Rob Henderson. In turn, men are struggling to achieve the higher standards (both financial and social) demanded of them.

“People used to care a bit more deeply about moral character and hard work, and whether the person was an ethical and upstanding citizen,” he said. “And now, you don’t have to worry about that quite as much. And you can sort of focus on things that are just, like, more immediate, like attraction.” 

Paying for a sexual experience, whether it be online or in person, gives men an illusion of control. But in actuality, men do not control sex, women do. This does not mean women are any more selective than men, but women generally have a greater access to a pool of men than do men with women. That female hypergamy instinct sets women out to find the male with the highest status, implying both financial and social resourcefulness, which naturally precludes many men at the start and at an expanding rate. But note that men do not just need financial capital to attract women. It might not be so far off to speculate that men who purchase OnlyFans content are not financially successful, partially because they are spending their money in irresponsible ways, on women that they will never even touch. This is not an attractive quality and women perceive this. 

Women also understand that selling their bodies in the form of digital content is not exactly the same as selling their bodies physically; despite being categorically prostitution, one is more profitable while also keeping the sanctity of the body free of physical defilement from strangers. Meanwhile, women are able to reserve their bodies for those that they select, thereby maintaining some sanctity to the act of sex. 

Although, I think we’d be pressed to find the average modern woman who has reserved her body to no more than one. 

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