Transcript: The truth about OnlyFans, with Alix Aharon

Porn and people’s relationship to porn has changed immensely since the advent of the internet — even more with platforms like OnlyFans and other social media apps that connect consumers directly with women.

Many view these tools as a means to empower women, arguing that this allows them freedom, independence, and the ability to make a lot of money. But is that really the case? To learn more about the realities behind platforms like OnlyFans and Chaturbate, I spoke with Alix Aharon, Co-Founder of Partners for Ethical Care (PEC), the Founder of the Gender Mapping Project, and a porn researcher.

This transcript has been edited for clarity and readability. Listen to this interview on the podcast.


Meghan Murphy: We’re here today to talk about pornography and OnlyFans in particular — new technological advancements in the porn world, generally.

Can you first tell me a bit about yourself and your background? What’s your interest in this topic?

Alix Aharon: Around two years ago, I founded Partners for Ethical Care (PEC) with several other women who were concerned about the gender industry — especially with relation to children. I also founded the Gender Mapping Project, where we document exactly how many gender clinics there are across the world.

I’m someone that deeply cares about women’s rights and I’ve been following the pornography industry as it pertains to children for years, but the really interesting thing about OnlyFans is that I’ve actually had the chance to watch it blossom from absolutely nothing to having one million users. So I really feel like I’ve been a part of this OnlyFans explosion because I remember when they had 25 users and were just getting started.

As someone who cares about women and children and people, in general, OnlyFans deeply concerns me. I have innumerable concerns about this website, what they’re doing, and the effect it’s having on society. OnlyFans is terrible for men as well. People are engaging in extremely strange relationships online, which are incredibly damaging both emotionally and financially.

MM: Tell me a bit about how OnlyFans started — what did it begin as and what was the intent there?

AA: OnlyFans was founded by a guy called [Tim] Stokley. And what he wanted to do was to tap into the market of findom, which is a particular type of fetish where men like to pay to be humiliated and dominated online. So he founded a website called GlamWorship, where people could reach out to these glamorous porn models and essentially tip them and ask to be humiliated online.

When he closed that, he launched Customs4U, which made contracts between people to create custom pornography. So I could, you know, join and say to someone, “I’d like to see you with the American flag, and I’m gonna pay you seven bucks to do it.” So that was kind of like OnlyFans 1.0.

Customs4U ultimately failed because Stokley realized that people were able to go on to Twitter and Instagram and make there instead of making payments through his platform and websites. So he understood that in order to make this a successful venture, he needed to be able to control the money aspect.

OnlyFans was founded in 2016, and what you’re able to do there is to subscribe to somebody’s content. So I could subscribe to you for 20 dollars a month, or I could get into a type of relationship with you where I am sending you messages and asking for custom, videos.

Really, OnlyFans was born off the back of interest in seeing pictures of nude celebrities. Do you remember back in 2014 when Jennifer Lawrence had that nude picture leaked? It’s that type of culture — it’s the ability to see something taboo, that you don’t ordinarily see in regular life. OnlyFans has actually attracted an insane amount of well-known celebrities. People like Denise Richards.

Currently the number of users they have — people who are creating content — is one million users. One million people are creating pornography on OnlyFans. Crazy. And 90% of them are women. And there are 120 million buyers — people who are logged in to OnlyFans and buying content. Okay. This is an insane venture, and it’s a massive social experiment as well, right?

Typically, what would have happened in, say, the 1990s, is that if somebody wanted to see pornography, they would go to the video shop, rent it, go home, and be alone. But now people are getting into complicated, pathological relationships with their pornographer. It’s almost like a girlfriend experience with a virtual person online.

Now that OnlyFans has been around for a few years, we’re getting to the horror stories, that are coming from both men and women. I want to share one message I got about OnlyFans:

So, to gain subscribers Sarah promoted OnlyFans on her private Instagram. Some people  made fun of her for joining the platform, while others thought she was brave. Sarah then went on to create an advertisement on a classified website, and a user got in touch and offered her 300 dollars to film hardcore porn with a male co-star.

The request went beyond Sarah’s boundaries, but because OnlyFans hadn’t been as lucrative as she had hoped, she reluctantly agreed. She asked a male friend to film with her and booked a motel, but when Sarah sent a preview of the video to the requester, he berated her for its quality and content, flatly refusing to pay.

Sarah says, “I was crying because I was tempted by the money. I regret being lured into this request.” She later sold the video to someone else for 50 dollars, but the whole ordeal was a strain in her mental health. Just after one month, she deactivated her account. I have so many stories exactly like this.

So that’s basically what’s going on in general with OnlyFans.

MM: It’s interesting because OnlyFans is defended by many as not exploitative. When I criticize porn, people will respond to me consistently and say, “But what about OnlyFans? Women are just making their own content. There’s no pimp. There’s no exploiter. There’s nobody pushing her to do things that she doesn’t want to do. She’s keeping all the money. How is that unethical?”

AA: First of all, uh, she’s not keeping all the money. OnlyFans gets 20 per cent of everything that she creates. So they operate as a kind of pseudo pimp.

PornHub was recently involved in a massivecase where they actually said that they were operating almost like RICO — like a massive criminal conspiracy with the credit card payment systems. What the judge said that Visa was complicit in child abuse, because they processed the payments of people viewing a 14-year-old girl being raped. Now, On OnlyFans, they are taking a cut of the content and they know a lot of the content is either illegal or exploitative.

You can search words on the site like DDLG, which is “daddy dom, little girl,” and things like “Lolita.” You also have girls who are clearly, you know, working for somebody in a basement, like an Andrew Tate type of situation.

When people talk about OnlyFans, they’re talking about the top one per cent who are making a ton of money — the Bella Thornes and the Tana Mongeaus — these people who are making serious money from OnlyFans, from selling nude photos. But the truth of the matter is that  the average girl makes 176 dollars per month. And in order to do that, she has to do extreme acts — we’re talking things like drinking urine from a dog bowl — extreme things in order to be your own pornographer and to have a complicated pseudo relationship with people who are requesting to see things of you online.

It is utterly insane to say that OnlyFans empowers women in any way whatsoever. You’re joining a website where you think you’re going to make tons of money, you invest a lot in it, you create lots of content, and at the end of the day, what do you have? 176 dollars.

MM: I’ve noticed that men in particular are very impressed by the women who have managed to make tons of money on OnlyFans. Like they speak of it as this incredible achievement. They use this as a means to defend OnlyFans as a good thing and as empowering.

There was this one woman named Lana Rhoades and I read somewhere she has an estimated worth of something like 20 million. I was watching part of an interview she did. with Logan Paul and her then-boyfriend Mike Majlak, and she said something traumatic happened to her when she was a young teen. She didn’t go into detail about what happened…

AA: Well, her sister was schizophrenic and tried to hang herself as a child. So this is someone who has serious mental health issues. I mean, Lana Rhoade’s story is something that could bring anybody to tears.

MM: Can you tell me a bit more about that story? What I found really weird was the way these guys in this interview, and a lot of other men speak, about porn stars, which is that, you know, “She had this troubled past, but she really managed to pull through and look at how much money she makes now!” But that’s not how you get healthy. Having made a lot of money off of your trauma is not healing.

AA: Lana’s a really great example. I really support her because she’s now come out against the industry and she’s speaking fire truth about it. She came from a troubled past. Lana Rhoades is the still the number one star on PornHub. And she was 17, 18 years old, and was enamored by the girls of Playboy. She thought this was so amazing and that all you have to do is meet this guy and he’ll fly you out. She explained that when she arrived in Los Angeles, she did not comprehend that she was going to have to fuck guys and suck dick in order to make money. When she arrived in Los Angeles, she hadn’t processed what she was actually going to have to do.

Lana explained that the moment she arrived there, she felt like everybody was grabbing her and grooming her and forcing her to do more and more extreme things for money. There are videos of Lana being slapped, spat on, urinated on… I mean, this is horrible, hardcore stuff.

She’s come out now, after a year in the industry, and saying, “Listen, what happened to me was horrific. Porn should be banned. The industry is completely corrupt.” I mean, she’s now pretty much an abolitionist. And what is really completely and utterly sick is that YouTube stars like David Dobrik and Logan Paul and all these young podcasters and vloggers who are targeting the 10 to 18 markets on YouTube have interviewed Lana in depth about her past her stories. They promote her. I call it adult content for kids. It’s digestible porn information, which can be given easily to a 12 year old boy. Think about if you’re a mother and you’re allowing your child to watch Logan Paul’s channel, and he’s eight years old and they’re clowning around opening Pokemon cards, then two years later he’s discussing anal sex with a porn star on a podcast. I mean, this should actually be like a sex crime — to discuss these kinds of things essentially with children. And what was even more outrageous is that Logan Paul and Mike Majlak admitted that they received tons and tons of messages from children, saying they just watched Lana’s pornography.

It’s so disgusting. I don’t even particularly have the words for it.

MM: It’s so frustrating and disgusting. And so many men seem not to comprehend, or they stay ignorant intentionally so they can keep using porn and not feel bad about it. Or maybe they don’t get it because they’re men and not women, so they don’t fully understand that particular kind of trauma. I mean, most if not all women and girls in the sex industry have this background of sexual trauma, of molestation, of rape. And tied to that, mental health issues, addiction issues, etc. I truly don’t believe that women who are mentally and emotionally and psychologically healthy go into porn. I don’t think they sell sex. You know, I can’t imagine doing something like that. And I can’t comprehend the women who see it as normal and harmless, like, it’s no big deal. I would never — no matter how broke I was.

AA: The other outrageous thing about OnlyFans is it’s also a type of pyramid schem. If you sign somebody up with your affiliate link, you get five per cent of everything that they earn. So think about a pornographic pyramid scheme where you are enticed to invite your friends to create pornography for people online. I mean, this is so barefaced and gross.

Think about a person who goes out into the world to entice people to join OnlyFans and get a cut. It’s low key pimping.

MM: I’m sure you’ve heard of this woman named Aella, who is spoken about by many, kind of, “heterodox” men — men in that heterodox space, libertarian men, as a success story of OnlyFans. She broke records in terms of how much money she’s made on OnlyFans and speaks very publicly about how much she likes it and how great it is. And she’s also treated as this kind of intellectual by all these guys, which I think is strange because she’s not an intellectual, though I think she sees herself as intellectual, and I think because she believes that about herself, the men who talk to her also believe that about her. And I think they like the idea of this, like, smart chick doing porn. Like she’s not just some “stupid whore,” [to use the language of porn users]. Are you familiar with her?

AA: Yeah, absolutely. To be honest, here are many creators who are on, who are on only fans, who are not really creating pornography. Um, you know, they’re people who are making money from selling, you know, kind of lewd and nude pictures. When you’re talking about pornography or the sex industry, you always have one or two people who believe that they can speak for absolutely everybody. But we have the evidence here right in front of us: there are 385,000 instances of, uh, Skip the Games on OnlyFans, which is an escort site. So we have barefaced prostitution occurring on this website. That’s what we should be talking about.

We shouldn’t be talking about the women who are making a million bucks selling pictures of her butt. That’s not the the real hardcore issue here.

I really have an issue with these people who take checks from this industry, too. You’re taking a check from an industry that has 2000 instances of “daddy dom, little girl.” I mean, just think about yourself — think about why on earth you would want to get involved in that type of thing if you know that the people that cut your checks — OnlyFans — the people who facilitate your online pornography are also involved in some very illegal, scary things.

There are 219 instances of the word Lolita on OnlyFans. We’re talking pre-pubescent girls on this website.

MM: That’s a really good point. I don’t know how you can claim that what you’re doing is totally ethical has nothing to do with anyone but you, like, “I choose to do this. This is what I like to do. I’m making good money. Leave me alone.” When in fact you’re promoting this platform, this site, this company that is enormously exploitative and contributing to the harm of so many women and girls.

AA: It’s important also to mention that OnlyFanshas been investigated by the FBI — experts in sex trafficking. They said within 90 minutes of investigation on the website, they were able to find child pornography. Um, and the, the, the jury is absolutely out on the fact that OnlyFans doesn’t put good measures in place to verify age and consent. They are just an unbelievably passive hub for sexually explicit content and images.

They also confirmed that this is used by sex traffickers and other criminals, so it’s wild that anybody would say, “I’m a libertarian. I’m creating this, blah, blah, blah.” Well, okay, this is not a victimless crime.

And from the other side, there’s tons of men who are going on chat shows and talking about their addiction to sending money to camgirls and OnlyFans. This is wrecking the lives of men as well. It’s of course wrecking the lives of women, but it’s absolutely wrecking the lives of men as well, because instead of going out into the world and finding a partner and falling in love, you are DMing a porn star that you have a kind of a pseudo pathological relationship.

What I also thought was interesting with the whole Andrew Tate thing is that Andrew Tate admitted that a lot of the time he was the person that was speaking to the men via Chaturbate or OnlyFans.

It’s is kind of like that movie Her.

MM: It’s interesting because another defense of pornography and prostitution is, “Well, what are lonely men supposed to do?” You know, what are the lonely men who can’t find a girlfriend, who no women wanna sleep with supposed to do? They need a sexual outlet too. They talk about OnlyFans in that way too, and have also have begun to talk about AI porn these apps where you can chat to, like, an AI girlfriend.

To me it seems like a not very well thought through response because I think that what it actually does is it just makes these men lonelier. Because instead of being pushed to go out in the world and meet real people and find relationships — not even necessarily sexual relationships, just form relationships with other people, and to find real meaning in your life, to feel like you’re a part of a community, but also, potentially meet a partner — instead, they’re just at home on their, their laptops or their phones, exacerbating the problem.

AA: There’s a really interesting statistic I heard today, which was that 28 per cent of men between the ages of 18 and 30 reported having no sexual contact in the last 12 months.

People have started to call OnlyFans, “LonelyFans.” I think there’s a lot of shame connected to the men who are addicted to camgirls and OnlyFans. You see these men who are addicted to these platforms and they truly are the saddest people. Very lonely people with no self-esteem are paying $30,000 to a camgirl in Ukraine to talk to them. As much as I like really detest to these men, I also feel incredibly sorry for them as well. It’s a terrible existence for them as well. I find it quite a sad situation.

MM: Let’s talk a little bit about these new technologies. You mentioned something called Chaturbate, which I’d never heard of before. What’s that?

AA: Last year I was at a very large porn conference, just to see like what is the latest hype. And everybody was talking about, of course, OnlyFans and also Chaturbate. In the center of the conference they had maybe 30 or 40 people who were engaging in live cam work. So what people would create little rooms, and gather followers, and do things for tips. So imagine, I would say, you know, “Take a shot of whiskey and you get five dollars.”

This is a really popular website. And it’s an incredibly sad example of society, basically. There are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of viewers watching very strange content. I don’t even call this pornography. This is more like engaging in a pseudo relationship with somebody online who you are almost involved in a sexual relationship with. These relationships that people have with camgirls are unbelievably complicated. They get deep into their personal lives a lot of the time. Camgirls will say to guys in America, “Hey, I’m gonna come and live with you — send me $40,000 so I can come.”

What does this add to the world? Truly? I mean this is not erotica, this is not a celebration of the human body. This is really sad, sick, degeneracy. What does this bring to the world? What is Chaturbate doing? How are they contributing to society?

We also have to ask serious questions about what the effects of pornography are going to have on the next generation. You and I are around the same age. I’m 36, so the kind of people that I grew up with were not exposed to pornography from the age of 12. That really started in around 2000 — that’s when it really went mainstream. Of course it was always available in different places, but with the iPhone you could open up your phone and have instant access to pornography all the time.

This totally changes the way that people are interacting in sexual relationships. How many 25-year-old women do you know saying that their boyfriend wants to choke them, or their boyfriend wants to spit on them? This is something that comes entirely from pornography.

And when you speak to people that are over the age of like maybe 35, they just simply don’t understand how violent the industry is. They kind of imagine like their father’s Playboy from 90s and they’re like, “Oh, porn is fine, porn is great.” They don’t actually go on these sites and see what is happening.

Once you see what is happening, it’s very difficult to defend it.

MM: It’s interesting because at the same time, Gen Z and I guess probably some younger Millennials have normalized pornography to such an extent that they don’t seem to see violence as violence anymore. Even the “regular” porn —  the stuff that’s not kink porn, or BDSM porn — that’s not considered to be extremely violent, but I find really disturbing, humiliating, degrading, and often violent. But that generation that grew up looking at porn from the time they were, you know, 12 years old, and seem to think that what they’re watching is harmless and fine.

AA: We know what the top five rated movies are at all times on PornHub, and we know who’s watching it because we have the credit card information. The porn industry knows exactly who’s watching and what they’re watching. We know that what people are consuming is the Gonzo porn. That’s always in the top five. And when we talk about Gonzo, we’re talking about things like “Latina abuse” and “ghetto gaggers,” where, you get women and you utterly humiliate them, spit on them, urinate on them. Just the most degrading shit you can ever particularly imagine.

There’s an entire segment called “facial abuse.” People talk about things like violence and mass shootings and racist attacks. Why does nobody ever say, maybe this is coming from pornography?

Can you imagine the mentality of somebody who is watching “ghetto gaggers” at night, and then the next day he’s going into school, and being a schoolteacher?

MM: Or a man who’s watching “barely legal” porn and then going to teach in a high school classroom the next day.

It’s baffling to me that anyone could believe or claim that watching “barely legal” porn, which is pornography where they choose women who look as young as they possibly can look — often women who really do look underage — and they’re made up and dressed up to appear as teenagers and sometimes children, and made to talk using a childlike voice.. And so many people defend this as harmless because they’re not literally underage. And it’s like, what do you think this is doing to that man’s brain and his fantasies and what he’s turned on by and what seems like normal desire or normal sex to him?

AA: The whole barely legal content is actually supposed to be completely illegal. You’re not supposed to depict porn performers as being younger than 18. But you see all the time girls who are dressed in pajamas with teddy bears, and they’re not meant to be 18-year-old girls. They’re actually depicting like nine year olds and 10 year olds. And this is an incredibly popular genre of pornography. I find that people who defend the porn industry don’t truly understand it — they don’t understand that it’s affecting basically every facet of our lives.

You cannot escape porn culture. We are totally and utterly immersed in porn culture. It’s in every billboard that we see, it’s in every advertisement for, you know, whiskey. I always say to people, you know, the same people that are filming pornography at night are the filming Disney during the day.

The porn industry is absolutely insidious. And if you really sit back and think about it — think about the way that porn is affecting the culture… It says to girls, basically at the age of 12: either you’re gonna be a sex object or you’re going to be utterly invisible.

Gail Dines, who I really, really respect, says, “You’re either fuckable or you’re invisible.” And that is the type of culture that porn has created.

MM: Right. It’s not as though the effects of porn are limited to only the individual watching or only the women who are in the porn video, which few want to think about or talk about. I try to have conversations online — on Twitter for example, which I’ve been doing a lot lately — about porn. And men compare it to drinking or drug use in that, you know, they’re like, “Well, you can’t criminalize every bad thing. You know, look at what happened during prohibition.” Which to me it just makes it clear that to them this is just a product that they’re consuming. And I’m always saying, “But alcohol isn’t people — those are real women that those things are happening to, and you have no idea what else is happening behind the scenes and you don’t know what her life is like and if she’smentally stable, which of course she’s probably not.”

AA: Basically every porn actress ends up coming out of the industry and seeing how utterly awful it was. We have Lana Rhodes, the number one porn star, saying that porn should be banned. Mia Khalifa basically says the same. Lana Rhoades was like the poster girl for the porn. Everybody loved her. They thought, you know, she is just this fresh faced, amazing person who loves to have sex. And she eventually admitted in an interview that she is like, almost not attracted to anybody. She does not want to have any relationship with anybody. And she describes herself basically as asexual.

So everybody — most porn stars — end up coming out of the industry and saying how terrible it was, how bad the agents were, how predatory the entire thing is, how traumatized they are from the experience.

And you know, when they say that, what’s really fucking sad is that they just get humiliated all over again. Lana Rhoades is a great example. She came out and started criticizing the industry and people were just hating her for it. They were saying basically, “You’re a stupid whore, you shouldn’t have done it.”

So the cycle of abuse to porn stars truly never ends.

MM: Do you think something like AI porn is more ethical? I think that people ask that question a lot. When women like us who, who are critical of the porn industry, talk about how abusive and exploitative it is and how many women in that industry are really seriously harmed, people will be like, “Okay, well then what about AI porn? What about sex robots or sex dolls? Wouldn’t that be better? Because men can then have this outlet and then no humans are harmed in the process.

AA: Right. I don’t know if you are familiar with the type of pornography called Hentai? It’s kind of anime porn. And it’s actually the most graphic and the most sick genre that’s out there because what you can do is you can depict, for example, somebody raping a baby. You can depict people having sex with animals. You can depict absolutely anything you want — the sickest fantasies, from the deepest, darkest, most disturbed person. That’s what people are watching in Hentai. And there’s no humans that are involved in that, that are getting hurt and great, but the massive damage that this pornography does is well documented.

It’s built to be an addiction. Think about it: you get the pornography and then you get a massive dopamine hit. That’s an incredibly powerful tool — you’re fusing a virtual experience with an incredibly physical experience.

I’ve seen sex robots. I touched a sex robot last year at a porn conference. It feels incredibly disgusting because these dolls are often incredibly small — almost like childlike. I’ve spoken quite a lot with John Uhler about the motivations of some of these people who have these dolls. It’s like LonelyFans. It’s sad and pathetic to have a relationship with an AI robot. It’s crazy. And then you get into things like hypno sissy porn, where you have people who are being trained to take hormones and imitate the opposite sex…

I feel that the people who defend the porn industry blindly are over the age of 40 and actually don’t watch pornography on a regular basis because when you speak to somebody who’s 22, 23, 24, they tell you the porn industry or the porn that they’re consuming is seriously affecting their lives because they’re seeing violent stuff. They’re engaging with it on a daily basis, whereas our generation isn’t engaging with it. We don’t particularly even know like what it is.

MM: I’m not sure if you followed this story — I read an article about it on Pirate Wires a couple of days ago — there was this big drama around Twitch, that weird app where people watch other people playing video games for some mysterious reason… What was this guy, Atrioc — a big Twitch streamer — was caught watching a deep fake AI porn. One of his tabs was open while he was streaming and somebody saw that he was watching AI deep fake porn of these two other female Twitch streamers. It was this big scandal and these women were really upset and seemed kind of traumatized by the whole thing.

I watched his apology and I watched a response/reaction video from one of the young women that was in this deep fake AI porn. She’s crying, she’s really upset. But all of the people involved in this drama defended what they called “regular porn.” So their criticism of what happened was, like, “I’s different if I’m being paid for this. It’s different if I consented to being objectified, But I’m being objectified against my will. I didn’t choose to become a sex worker.” And Atrioc’s defense was, you know, “I was just watching regular porn and then this ad popped up for this AI deep fake porn, so I clicked on it, but it’s not something I normally do. I really just like regular porn.” And I was like, are you all crazy? Yes, this is a terrible thing, but I don’t think it’s that much more terrible than just the regular porn that you’re watching.

AA: Well, I mean, obviously that’s a huge violation of your boundaries. It’s utterly unthinkable to create a deep fake of somebody performing pornography. And this is someone who didn’t consent in any way whatsoever. I hope people are starting to get quite serious around the issue of revenge porn. They’re starting to kind of pass laws about it, which I think is absolutely fantastic. And I’m not sure what’s gonna happen with the deep fake porn because people are going to start arguing that they own the content because they made the content. And I think it’s going to end up with a massive legal argument around this, because that’s what the porn industry does. Whenever the porn industry is faced with any kind of adversary, they get their big shot lawyers out to come and defend them and talk about how porn is speech and blah, blah, blah.

That’s their go-to. That’s what they do. That’s what Larry Flynt did. That’s what Penthouse did — say pornography is a form of speech and it’s protected. And I do love free speech, but I cannot get behind that idea that pornography is a type of speech.

I think it’s such a legal gotcha that in reality just doesn’t work.

MM: I’m also a big advocate for free speech, and I don’t see pornography as a form of speech in any way, shape, or form. I see it as a form of prostitution. And I don’t find that those arguments make any sense at all. If you’re saying words, you’re not literally doing something to another person’s body.

What do you think the future of porn is? Do you think that AI porn is something that’s going to take over and get really big, or are people always gonna want the human factor?

AA: The direction that I think that porn is going to go is the direction that OnlyFans is taking it in. People are going to have very complicated, intricate relationships with people online who are creating pornography for them. And I think that the threshold for pornography is going to get much higher.

That’s what generally happens when you speak to men who are addicted to porn. They say they started out on regular porn and then four or five weeks later they’re watching Latina abuse and all of the really horrific, terrible stuff. So I don’t think that AI porn is actually going to catch on.

What I think is really crazy is that Men’s Rights Activists aren’t coming out to protest what is happening to men through pornography. It kind of baffles me that they aren’t taking this issue as part of their fight because, you know, everybody is a victim in this whole thing. The men who are addicted and sad and spending all their money, and the women who are creating the porn who are abused and trafficked and all the rest of it.

I would love to see that — the men speaking up and saying, “We want better for our sons.”

MM: Yeah, I would too. And I think more men are doing it. While on one hand pornography is becoming more and more normalized, I’ve talked to a lot of men, my age, but also younger men too, who have of their own free will quit porn because they started to recognize the damage that it was doing to their lives. So I do feel hopeful about that and I feel hopeful that those men will talk to other men about what they were feeling and why they stopped.

AA: It’s interesting, when you speak to somebody who is defending porn, ask them, “Please share with me the last 10 videos that you watched.” They don’t want to share it with you. They don’t wanna tell you. It’s such utter bullshit when people come out and say, “Porn is wonderful.” Okay, so please post the last 10 videos that you watched on Twitter if that’s the way you feel. And they don’t do it. They never do. Because they’re ashamed.

MM: If it’s so fine, then why can’t we know what you were watching? Let’s see it. And if you won’t show us because you’re ashamed, why are you ashamed? Do you want to think about that? Why are you watching something that you feel ashamed to be watching. I don’t think there’s anything that I watch that I wouldn’t admit publicly to watching. I admit that I watched Keeping Up With The Kardashians the day a new episode comes out. It would be strange to be participating in something regularly that you feel so ashamed about participating in or consuming.

AA: Totally. I mean, there’s a massive amount of shame — the worst thing that can ever happen to a podcaster or a male celebrity is that he accidentally shares the wrong screen and people see what he was watching. It’s something that happens like over and over and over again — that these tabs end up being shown and these men are really embarrassed and apologetic. Even the ones that are big defenders are still utterly and completely ashamed of what they’re doing.

MM: Have you come up with any solutions to the porn problem in terms of what we do? When I speak critically about pornography or talk about trying to curb porn use people yell at me about banning things. And I don’t think it’s possible to ban porn, so I don’t think that’s a realistic conversation to have, but I do think it’s incredibly important that we try as hard as we can to curb production and consumption. What do you think a solution could be?

AA: I think we need to do the same thing that we did with cigarettes — this needs to come with a massive warning and people need to understand that this is very [harmful]. If you think about it, 60 years ago, everybody smoked. And today you don’t really know that many smokers. People aren’t smoking cigarettes anymore. And that’s not because cigarettes were banned. That’s not because people were forbidden from buying them. It’s because people learned, were educated, and as a society decided not to smoke.

I think that’s exactly the same thing that has to happen with pornography. People have to come to like a consciousness — an understanding through education — that this is a seriously damaging thing to engage with, just like cigarettes and, do it at your peril.

We also have to say as a society, like enough with the pornification of absolutely everything. Every time I turn on an advert for, you know, Schweppes or a type of vodka, there’s always some naked woman. I feel as a society we can do better.

We have to really hammer in the message that porn is really, really damaging. People are talking about a lot more. I think that’s is going to happen. I think that people are going to decide that this is not something that they want in their life. That we as a society will say, you know, 28 per cent of men between the ages of 18 and 30 are not having sex. Something’s going on here,

MM: Right. And do you actually want intimacy and to resolve your problem of loneliness and not being able to find a partner and how will you do that? I don’t think the solution is in porn or talking to AI sex bots.

Thank you so much for talking with me about this today. I really enjoyed this conversation.

AA: Me too. Look forward to speaking to you again.

Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist from Vancouver, BC. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including The Spectator, UnHerd, Quillette, the CBC, New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and is now exiled in Mexico with her very photogenic dog.