Sex-negativity is one of those things that once you see it, you start to see it everywhere.
***defining our terms***
Sex-positive feminism is the idea that sex is inherently morally neutral. It’s a counterpoint to sex-negative feminism, or the assumption that sex, or certain kinds of sex, are inherently immoral.
***back to the show***
Recently a woman who seems to have gained a small amount of notoriety among mostly men for shitting on feminism asked “One thing my female mind can’t comprehend: why do some men pay for things like OnlyFans? What is the logic of spending the simpbux?” (For those who have offline lives, “simp” is like “fan” but derogatory.)
As an Onlyfans creator, I obviously have thoughts.
Why do 5,000 mostly men follow this woman on Twitter rather than reading random antifeminists or Googling “why feminism is wrong and bad?” Why do people subscribe to newsletters or YouTube channels? People pay for Onlyfans rather than looking at random pictures for the same reason. Humans are social creatures who long to know and be known.
Part of the sex-negativity’s insidious harm is how it twists sex into something that taints or sullies other things.
For example, most people don’t see fandom as inherently bad, shameful, or immoral. Now obviously you can take fandom to unhealthy places. But for most of us fandom is a pretty universal, pleasurable phenomenon. Similarly, most of us don’t feel ashamed about fangirling or fanboying over someone we’re sexually attracted to.
Onlyfans didn’t invent being a fan of people you like to imagine having sex with. Onlyfans just made the relationship more explicit and much easier to monetize. The main way money changes any transaction is by making it more explicit. Onlyfans didn’t make fandom any more or less sexual. But it did make it harder to pretend the sexual component isn’t there.
The question isn’t really, “Why do people pay for Onlyfans?” If you can't imagine why someone would rather see nudes from someone they can also chat about ending qualified immunity with then I don't know what to tell you other than your sex life and intellectual life sound impoverished.
The question really being asked is, “Why aren’t people ashamed to pay for Onlyfans?”
The men in the anti-feminist’s replies are so angry about Onlyfans. It kills them to see other people not ashamed of the things they’re ashamed of. It’s important to many of these men’s self-image to pretend they’re following this anti-feminist because her thoughts are more interesting than the male anti-feminist or less-attractive antifeminist. They’re mad people are saying the quiet part out loud. Fandom is generally somewhat sexual.
For others, it’s extremely important to them that they not *pay* for her attention, no matter how sexually titillating they know they might find it. They think paying for sex would make them a loser and paying for even “less than sex” doubly so.
But why? Why is it okay to pay for someone’s art or music or writing if it’s not overtly sexual but suddenly super shameful if it is? Oh, right. Because we’re ashamed of sex. This is the hidden, pervasive logic of sex-negativity. If certain kinds of sex are immoral, then anything that promotes or normalizes that kind of sex is also immoral.
But *all* sex is inherently morally neutral. Which means the truth is that sex doesn’t debase fandom and fandom doesn’t debase sex. Fandom and sex are both totally fine. They’re great! You can overdo both, for sure. Some people definitely substitute Onlyfans for a girlfriend because it’s easier and less risky, to their ultimate detriment. Just like some people form strong one-sided emotional attachments to certain artists or writers to avoid friendship.
The truth is that a healthy life has room for a good mix of sex, friendship, and fandom. Just like you can be a fan of a writer and still have friends, you can subscribe to an Onlyfans creator and still have a fulfilling sexual relationship (or several!). They’re not necessarily, or even mostly, substitute goods.
The fact that we would even consider sex and porn rivalrous but not friendship and fandom reveals our unconsidered superstitions and stigmas around sex. It’s not that they can’t be rivalrous. It’s that they generally aren’t. Not only is the idea that porn usually replaces sex unsubstantiated, but studies show watching other people fuck on screen is actually associated with greater arousal for and sexual interest in your partner.
Sex-negativity is thinking that an act — a bodily function that is sometimes beautiful, interesting, and meaningful and other times boring, painful, and ugly — necessarily turns something beautiful into something shameful or wrong. That’s some logic my female mind can no longer buy into.