A TikTok recently went viral of a woman responding to a guy who stated that women having OnlyFans shows us that they are okay with being objectified as long as they profit. Caylee Cresta is a tiktoker who has amassed over 2 million followers, presumably comprised of females, or males who are either leftist or gay. Her bio reads: “We empower women here” with a clap emoji that is indicative of the “yas queen slay” kind of audience that clicks their tongues and snaps their fingers when they make a point.
For good faith, I would even suggest you click the link and watch the video yourself before reading on, but for those who want to spare themselves the yas queen slay attitude, this article will be sufficient. Cresta made a “stitch,” which is essentially a video response, to this other tiktoker who goes by the name “priorimindset.” He posted a 9-second video that contained this little statement in writing:
“OnlyFans proves that women are okay with being objectified as long as they are getting paid.”
Cresta apparently disagrees with this. So she says. But despite her confidence in spitting a rebuttal, she only does so against a straw man. The premise of her argument is straightforward: objectification is okay with consent. Consent is a condition common to liberal arguments because it centers the individual as the arbiter of moral judgment.
But her premise is wrong. Objectification is not moral, either with or without consent. Objectification does not become okay just because someone allows or wants it. This is a significant moral distinction because it judges the action itself, not its condition. Consent is used for other liberal arguments as well, such as abortion: “it’s okay to kill a baby if the woman does not consent to it growing within her.” But consent as a condition sets one’s morality up to be utilitarian or consequentialist.
She then claims that he is “trying to prove that it is okay to objectify women without their consent.” Again, his statement is simply that “Onlyfans proves that women are okay with being objectified as long as they are getting paid,” which she actually agrees with based on her premise that it is okay to objectify when consent is given. In this case, women give their consent to be objectified when they receive money from subscribers.
Therefore, she agrees with him. Everything she says after that is incidentally irrelevant, because her argument is already dead. What she seems to have a problem with is that this fact is being given any air time at all. She’s battling a ghost, a belief that she believes underlies his inner motive for stating what she already agrees with.
She continues to tell him what he’s really trying to do, which is to “excuse the instances of women being objectified without their consent with the instances of women being objectified with their consent.” In fact, this argument is never made and it begins to take a laughable turn. Again, she is battling a ghost. But for the sake of the yas queens in the audience, yas queen go off:
“This isn’t a new argument,” she says of his argument that she made up for him. “People have been trying to dismiss the validity of sexual assault with a woman’s previous sexual history for years, as if giving permission in one instance means you can’t take it away in another.”
Once more, no one was doing that. Yet she then generalizes that man on which she has projected a ghost as though it were a representation of her theory of misogyny. She tells us what he feels, what he thinks, and why he’s thinking it.
“You have a problem with [women choosing when to give consent for their objectification] because women are taking control over something that you have historically taken from them. You’ve been sexualizing women without their permission for years and you suddenly have some moral objection when that sexualization is done on her terms. You’re uncomfortable with women charging you for what you feel you should be entitled to for free. So you’re not mad that she’s selling it, you’re mad that you have to pay for it.”
Of course, if it needs to be said at all, sexual assault and rape are objectifications in the highest degree, i.e., dehumanization. Find me anyone who attempts to excuse these acts because of a woman’s “sexual history” or the conflation of a woman giving consent versus not giving it, and he will be resoundingly denounced. It makes little sense to invent the man for the sake of the argument as Cresta clearly has, but this is not a new way to argue for those on the left. They tend to defer to narratives of oppression and when they cannot find concrete examples of it they thrust their “historical woes” onto all of present day man; so then any disagreement with their asinine argument is accused as disagreement with basic history.
This video has garnered over 2 million views, but luckily only nearly 200,000 likes if that’s any indicator that not many have fallen for this disastrous excuse of an argument.
After reading some comments, defining our terms becomes necessary. Objectification simply means to see someone as an object, in this instance as an object for your pleasure; it is form of dehumanization.
Sexualization is a form, or subset, of objectification, but some will argue that sexualization and objectification unto themselves are distinct, and indeed they are. It is also true that objectification is a natural consequence of sexualization, especially when someone is objectified as a good to be transacted in a marketplace.
Firstly, all people sexualize each other. It is biologically and psychologically embedded into us. It doesn’t need our “consent” in order to exist. In the case of an OnlyFans star, she is not “allowing” subscribers to sexualize her, she is merely exploiting her sexualization for capital—call that process empowerment, call it control, call it smashing the patriarchy, but it does not change what it is, sexualization; what it does, sexualize; and what it entails, objectification. And in this case, objectification is economic because it treats the woman, her body, and whatever she is offering as a “good,” an “item,” to be bought with and exchanged for money.
Women are not doing anything new by selling their bodies, be it in the real world or in the digital, they are not tearing down barriers, they are not breaking glass, they are not anymore independent from their sexual chains that they claim to have broken off. If consent is the condition upon which the morality of selling our bodies is predicated, then how vast does a sea of moral questions open.