Could you name a 100% private company, which has never raised money from anyone, which is valued in 2023 18 billion dollars, or 8 times more than in 2020? Would you have any more ideas if I specify that this is a website, a kind of marketplace, where about 2 million sellers offer services to about 200 million buyers, for a turnover in 2022 of 2.5 billion? Still no idea?

It is Onlyfan, a British website, which allows anyone to suggest a conversation, a photo, a video or a tailored erotic show, to people willing to pay for it. The variety of sexual services offered here seems unlimited; and even if, in theory, the website is required to exercise some moderation, it seems that this does not prevent sellers (especially girls) from selling to buyers (especially boys) almost anything, including items as private as panties, if possible after use. This website is not the only one of its kind. To this, must be added the actual dating websites, whose turnover is even higher.

It is said that sex and money are inextricably linked. Sex has always been an object of trade, more or less legal, more or less forced. Girls have always been the main victims, forced to sell their bodies to men and by men. On these websites, the constraint is less explicit. It is no longer physical. It is only economic. It is no less relentless.

Many might say that the economy of pleasure in all its forms, which has always existed (including, some would say, in “bourgeois” marriages), will take on an increasingly important dimension, becoming, in the virtual, an economy of simulacrum and no longer being, in any way, related to reproduction; that the internet trade in simulacra of sex will be infinitely healthier, more moral, than prostitution; that no one finds fault with it; that these businesses are legal; that they do not harm anyone, not to the benefit of the environment; and that those who do so do so in a totally free manner.

That would be a mistake.

First, because in practice there is no real difference of nature between a girl forced to prostitute herself by a pimp who has coached her more or less to the other side of the world, and a student selling her used panties, or supposed to be, to men who order them over the Internet. In order to survive in a society of men, both men and women are forced to trade in their body, in its image, and in everything connected with it.

Secondly, because there are not many differences between the sex economy and the drug economy either: when it is so easy, by one or the other, to make a lot of money (an Onlyfan star, like a high-level dealer, can earn tens of millions of dollars a year), why studying? Why working? Why seeking to rise honestly? Why trying to be useful to society?

Finally, because a sham economy is, in the field of sexuality, a form of suicide of the human species, which is moreover may already be in motion.

Image: The love merchants of the Palais-Royal, Claude-Louis Desrais, 18th century.