What’s a broke college student to do when strapped for cash? Maybe sell some old clothes, become an Uber driver if you have a car or do those online surveys that give you gift cards. But what about selling nudes?
To say selling nudes or being a cam girl is controversial would be an understatement. Yet, day after day, I see young 20-somethings looking to make a quick buck by posting on their social media accounts about it, telling those interested to message them for pricing information on their photos. Some even put links up to legitimate sites where they are cam models, meaning they perform on live video streams. It looks like people are becoming less ashamed, and I find that refreshing.
But at the same time, I fear for my friends who are open about selling nude photos or being cam models. Not because I feel like they’re doing something wrong, but because I know how so many people must be talking about them for doing it.
It’s no secret that selling nudes, camming and sex work in general are taboo in our culture. I don’t expect to be able to change that. But just consider for one moment: Why do we consider people who “sell their bodies” by selling nude photos or livestreaming video content less legitimate than all the other workers who effectively sell their bodies and labor? Tons of jobs involve physical labor— labor that can affect the body — so aren’t those workers selling their bodies, too?
Capitalism 101 says that if there’s a demand for a product or service, there is a market for it. There is a demand for this kind of content. Many people out there pay for a specific person’s nude photos due to the more personal human connection aspect, something that one wouldn’t really get by simply finding nude pictures online or watching a pornographic movie.
Cam girls who use sites like Patreon can build a serious clientele, and fans feel like they have a relationship with the models. Why don’t the people who demand the service catch as much flak as those providing it?
It’s 2018; I know we’ve become a lot more lax when talking about sex and sexuality. However, we still have a moralistic view on sexuality — we still decide how it should and should not be used. We pride ourselves on the steps we’ve taken toward sexual freedom and liberation for women — the Women’s March made that clear. That is, until women decide to use their sexuality to make money.
There’s also a glaring amount of hypocrisy involved in this whole conversation. Many people who demean people who sell their nudes or pose for a webcam still indulge in watching pornography. I couldn’t tell you how many people my age rejoice when a hot celebrity’s nude photos leak online, or how many of them seek nude photos from their peers. Do these people simply have a problem with the fact that those providing the service are making money from it? Or in the case of celebrity nudes, do these people just enjoy the nonconsensual, voyeuristic aspect of the photo leaks?
If there’s a demand and the worker is selling their labor consensually, why does our culture shun sex workers? If college-aged people spend their time watching porn in their dorms, why do they insult their classmates who are providing the service they use?
It all boils down to an individual’s own ideas of morality. Critics will preach about how morally bankrupt one must be to sell nude photos or be a cam model, and that the person has no self-respect.
Truthfully, there’s little chance I can change your mind on morality and sexuality. My apparently controversial opinion is this: If the service is provided consensually and safely, let people do whatever they want. As long as nobody’s getting hurt — unless you’re into that — an outsider who has no stake in the situation has no business commenting on it.
Let’s not forget that the people who provide this service are exactly that — people. They deserve the same amount of respect, privacy and consideration as anyone else. They need to make money just like everyone else. If you don’t like the way they make it, that’s on you, not on them.
So, my fellow Binghamton University students, let’s take a step back and examine how we think and talk about our peers who sell nudes, cam model or whatever it may be. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be the next one raking in the money after setting up a Patreon or premium Snapchat account.
Sarah Molano is a junior double-majoring in English and philosophy, politics and law.