When the COVID pandemic hit and lockdown ensued, those who make their living in the sex work industry, like many others, were abruptly unemployed and had to scramble to figure out a way to have income.
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The subscription based site marketed for all types of content quickly became a hotbed for sexual and explicit content and bespoke pornography.
At present, the site has more than 100 million users and has paid over $3 billion to the content creators that use the site. It is reported that OnlyFans had a 75% increase in new users between March and April of 2020, directly corresponding to the pandemic shutdown.
Who are those 100 million users?
Researchers saw OnlyFans as a new avenue to research human sexuality and, particularly, to study the sexual attitudes of people who use OnlyFans and compare those attitudes to people who do not use the site.
Dr. Stacey Litman and colleagues did just that and recently published a study with their findings.
The study included 718 adults who completed an online survey. Some of these individuals were college students and some were individuals who found the survey on the MTurk site. The average age of the participants was 29 years old and about equal numbers of male and female, who were predominantly white.
In addition to answering questions related to their demographics, the participants also completed the Brief Sexual Attitudes Scale which looks at attitudes about sex related to permissiveness, birth control, communion (communication and connection) and instrumentality (the purpose or function of sex).
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What did the study find?
Based on their participants, OnlyFans users were mostly married (89.5%), white (68.9%) men (63.1%) who identified as either heterosexual (59%) or bisexual/pansexual (37.8%).
The researchers then compared the Brief Sexual Attitudes Survey results between OnlyFans users and non-users.
No significant differences between the two groups was found, meaning that people who used OnlyFans did not have different attitudes about sex than those who did not use OnlyFans.
As this is one of the first known studies about OnlyFans users, the results are preliminary. However, based on this sample, OnlyFans use versus non-use cannot be explained by sexual attitudes, meaning that people who use OnlyFans are not more sexually permissive in their ideas about sex than people who don’t use the site.
Based on the traffic that the site receives, we know that something is driving people to go there. That motivating factor is yet to be determined.
Reference: Litam, S. D. A., Speciale, M. & Balkin, R.S. (2022). Sexual Attitudes and Characteristics of OnlyFans Users. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 51, 3093-3103
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