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The business of bodies: Critics of OnlyFans users show the hypocrisy that still surrounds women's agency

“We are still considered ‘bad women’.”

IF YOU’RE A regular user of social media, you may have seen the term ‘OnlyFans’ crop up on your timeline or appearing in people’s bios.

Essentially, OnlyFans is a social platform in which people can sell photos, videos and live streams via monthly memberships off the app. The type of content uploaded ranges from the mundane to the sublime, but it’s found its niche with adult entertainers.


How does it work?

However, it’s worth noting that anyone can use OnlyFans, as a subscriber or as an earner. To earn, you just add your bank account to the app and start uploading content. It’s why some “everyday” women have decided to use the app to sell their nudes.

You can charge pretty much whatever you want for subscriptions, starting from $4.99 (€4.33) per month – and there’s no upper limit to what you can charge. The minimum amount your fans can tip is $5 (€4.34).

Whenever you sell any subscription to a viewer, OnlyFans gives you 80% of the payment received. OnlyFans says that the 20% fee they charge is to cover the payment processing, hosting and “all other associated costs with running the OnlyFans website and apps.”

Recently, a debate broke out over one of its most prolific Irish users, Julia Holbanel.

Nineteen year-old Julia recently revealed she earned over €7,500 within two days of creating an account.

Another user, Alanna Pittorino from Cork, made €1,400 for her lingerie shots within two hours of setting up an account. 

In doing so, the girls have faced backlash on Twitter from people, namely young men and women. 

A lot of people are critical of Julia and other OnlyFan users – namely those who identify as female, shocker -  in an argument that is rooted in misogyny and classism, as reflected in the above comments. Once again, it’s brought the public’s attention to the long-held stigma surrounding sex work and other jobs which involves women using their bodies to make money, which still remains in 2019.

With this new wave of feminism the public is riding, women are more readily encouraged to wear what they want in the face of anyone that still partakes in slut-shaming. However, when money (let alone profit), is brought in to the mix, the narrative suddenly changes. When women take agency over their own bodies, it becomes something unacceptable to a minority, who often identify themselves as feminist.

Women are still regularly encouraged to commodify their bodies in some way as means to progress and garner success across all industries. When they become commodities in the literal sense though, in a way that only benefits them financially, that’s when people start revealing their true attitudes towards sex work, bodily autonomy and sexual liberation.

In a world where the act of exchanging nudes is seen as a given among people now, and where girls are put under infinitely more pressure to do so, how can people be outraged at those who decide to ask for something in return? 

Speaking to, Kate McGrew of the Sex Workers Alliance Ireland gives some insight into the vitriol. 

“Stigmatising sex work falls into the lineage of shaming women for promiscuity, for exercising complete ownership of their own bodies,” she says.

We are still considered ‘bad women’.”

“In this #MeToo era of women proclaiming that “we are not asking for it”, sex workers are excluded,” she continues. “So-called feminists try to blame rape culture on sex work. Never mind that by nature of it being a transaction, the sex in the sex industry often comes with more boundaries and parameters, clearer consent.

“People with little to no option will always be able to use the only thing they do own – their bodies – as a way to survive. Actual feminists refuse to allow these women to be collateral damage.”

On challenging the stigma, Kate said people have to put aside their “loaded feelings” on the topic and consider why anyone makes the choice in the first place and listen to the needs of those currently working within the industry.

The issue of class comes up time and again in the conversation about sex work, so it’s unsurprising that it’s also been a factor for those criticising OnlyFans earners.

“[It's] a job that often suits people who are living in poverty, who are single mothers, students struggling to pay tuition, people living with disabilities.

It is often a good option for working class people and the silencing of their voices is part of a larger problem if not acknowledging and addressing the realities of their lives.”

There’s an argument which says that the discussion on sex work doesn’t focus enough on how the patriarchy puts women in this position in the first place, which Kate agrees with.

“We must agitate around the issues that give women more viable alternatives whilst putting aside judgement that some might always find sex work the best option,” she says.

People can employ agency in extremely varied circumstances. While we fight against misogyny together, we must protect people surviving a patriarchy, give them as much power as possible within it.”

Julia Holbanel did not return’s request for comment. Alanna Pittorino declined’s request for comment. 

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