Paul Gosar Asks Attorney General to Investigate OnlyFans for Promoting and Profiting Off Online Prostitution

Rep. Paul Gosar has written a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland requesting an investigation into the subscription-based pornographic site OnlyFans.

Gosar made the announcement on Twitter Thursday afternoon and attached a copy of his letter to Garland.

The congressman from Arizona said that the Department of Justice should investigate OnlyFans under the Mann Act, a federal law that makes it illegal to engage in interstate or foreign transportation of an individual “for the purpose of prostitution or debauchery, or for any other immoral purpose.”

Gosar spends the first three paragraphs of his letter acknowledging that the DOJ has sometimes used the Mann Act to try prosecuting people for dubious reasons, particularly boxing legend Jack Johnson and the famous actor and director Charlie Chaplin. The original intent of the Mann Act was to cut down on prostitution and human trafficking, though its vague language has at times allowed the authorities to criminalize consensual sexual activity that didn’t involve prostitution.

In any case, Gosar believes that OnlyFans “does appear to facilitate and even encourage interstate travel of the sort directly targeted by the Mann Act.”

On this site, individuals can advertise their willingness to travel across state lines for illegal or immoral activity, and the platform providing publicity for these individuals appears to subsidize and capitalize off this travel. It is worth investigating this issue further, given the volume of activity on this site and anecdotal reports about prostitution, child exploitative material, and illicit sexual coercion,” he wrote.

OnlyFans has often been called “online prostitution.” It is a subscription-based platform in which overwhelmingly female “content creators” sell access to pornographic images and videos of themselves, in addition to other perks. The number of creators and subscribers on OnlyFans exploded over the past year, especially in the early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic when widespread lockdowns confined people to their homes.

Some have argued that OnlyFans “empowers” women and legitimizes “sex work.” But many women who decided to start virtually selling their bodies have come to discover that OnlyFans is fundamentally pornographic, not all that anonymous, and just as degrading and dehumanizing as Pornhub. The vast majority of women also make little to no money on subscriptions; only the top 1 or 2 percent take a significant chunk of change.

Good on Rep. Gosar for sticking his neck out and writing this letter. Not much will come of it in all likelihood, but it’s time to start pushing back forcefully on the pornographization of our culture and society.

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