The bigger picture

By now, everyone is probably aware of OnlyFans, an online social media platform known for allowing anyone to share 18+ content in order to make money. It's a platform that has generated many controversies, especially in Thailand in the past few months, whether it be criticism in society or headline news involving arrests of several young women believed to be so-called "sex creators".

One of the cases involved "Kai Nao", a popular Thai OnlyFans content creator who was arrested by the police a few months ago. In another case, Arisa "Kwang" Homgroon, also known as "Deerlong", a well-known YouTuber and former Thailand's Got Talent contestant, became the subject of debate after some explicit photos and videos posted on her OnlyFans account were leaked. The content, which was intended only for those who pay a subscription, was taken without permission and spread for free on illegal porn and gambling websites. When reporting the incident to the police, she was held for investigation by officers for sharing pornographic content, which is still illegal in Thailand. The incident forced the 26-year-old star to recently flee the country and take refuge in the Netherlands after being criticised online, where some called her an "unworthy role model". Countering the negative critics, a lot of people sympathised with and defended Arisa. Why was she arrested when she was the victim and there are hundreds of other Thai women still offering the same content online who have never been targeted? Some even questioned whether it was actually because Thai society or the laws in the country are too backwards.

One thing we all have to admit is that sex work has been around since the dawn of time and it is nothing new. Whether you like it or not, platforms like OnlyFans were born because of demand, not much different from TikTok or Snapchat. OnlyFans is a new trend people around the world are paying attention to, especially those interested in sexual content. OnlyFans is mainstream, and a lot of girls are doing it. I think the fact that these women are not professional sex workers or prostitutes in their real lives is part of the appeal. These are the girl next door type, and many of them are doing this not only for money, as some really are passionate about sharing amateur porn content for their own pleasure too. So when their favourite influencers on Instagram or YouTube say, "Hey, sign up to my OnlyFans and I'll show you my exclusive photos and videos there", of course there will be a lot of guys who will pay US$20 monthly (643 baht) in exchange for that content.

While I don't have anything against the idea of women wanting to become content creators in the sex industry or disrespect them and preach morality here, I want to share some advice with young women thinking of following the trend or those who are already on the platform. Besides the benefit of quick money, platforms like OnlyFans has its own downside. After all, you are not an entrepreneur but a small business owner of a service-based business where you sell your body for money. The problem with that business model is that you will eventually fail in the long run because your product (ie, your body) is a depreciating asset. Over time, your value in the space is going to decrease. Why? Because there will be new women turning 18 every single day and joining the platform in order to compensate for that. We have seen a lot of women invest in themselves by getting botox, fillers, new clothes or new sets to up their game and without good management, the operating costs may outweigh sales.

You might be in your early 20s and have made a lot of money in the past year, but that money will eventually decrease over time. And most importantly, don't forget that even if one day you decide to stop doing sex content, leaked pictures and video clips of yours will remain online on various porn sites forever. Later, when you want to find a new career, it may be difficult for you to continue a normal life, not to mention you'll still be living in a country where moral behaviour is the most crucial thing and a place that has never passed any law to protect sex workers.

Tatat Bunnag is a feature writer for the Life section of the Bangkok Post.

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