Oh wow. I hope you’re ready for a rant ladies and gentlemen, because a rant is exactly what you’re going to get.
The topic of this post may seem a little out of place on this blog – I have never written about cam girls (or webcam models, to give them their proper name) on this platform before, and I didn’t think that I would ever do so.
However, it’s 2019 and apparently in the midst of R Kelly’s BS, Boris Johnson’s tomfoolery and lord only knows what else, some individuals in the travel industry are behaving ridiculously as well. What can I say, planet earth just keeps getting better.
Allow me to back up a little and set the scene.
Spud Hilton (yes, the man is named after a potato), former editor of the travel section of the San Francisco Chronicle took to Twitter, saying that bikini-clad influencers are ‘the cam girls of travel content’:
After said Tweet, lots of people in the industry (read: bloggers and influencers) got very offended and proceeded to vent about how outrageous it was that they were being compared to – gasp – cam girls.
Are you all up to speed? Okay, so let’s continue.
Perhaps you thought that this was going to be an impassioned rant about how evil and misogynistic Spud Hilton is and how dare he say these things about travel influencers?!
Perhaps you thought I was going to express my shock that a 50 odd year old white man said something sexist about hot women half his age.
I am not shocked that a guy like Spud Hilton said something like this. I’m a woman. I’m a young, white, blonde woman. I hear rubbish like this from men all the time.
No. Spud Hilton isn’t actually the problem here.
If you are offended by Spud Hilton’s words, then you are the problem.
Allow me to explain why.
Do I think that Spud’s comments were rooted in misogyny? Yes. Do I think that Spud looks down on sex workers and doesn’t see sex work as ‘real’ work? Yes. Do I think that he meant the comparison to be offensive?
Yes. Yes I do.
If you, as a random member of the public reading or listening to his statements, finds it offensive to be compared (or for your colleagues to be compared) to cam girls, what does that say about you?
What does that say about the way that you view webcam models, and other women and men who work in the sex industry?
I’ll tell you what it says.
It says that you find the comparison offensive because you see sex work as a bad thing. Perhaps you don’t see it as a real job, or perhaps you look down on these women because you think that they are paid to do nothing more than look pretty and get their knockers out on the internet.
It says that you don’t respect sex workers, both as workers and as people.
It makes me sad (and definitely a little mad) to see bloggers (including some of the most successful names in the industry) take such umbrage, not with the fact that Spud Hilton was dissing cam girls, but with the fact that they, as female travel bloggers, were being compared to those cam girls.
Reading various Facebook posts and comment threads and seeing people be offended, not on behalf of sex workers for Spud’s comments, but offended that they could ever be compared to cam girls of all things, surprised me.
Is this attitude not just as problematic? Does this not contribute to the misogyny already being directed at sex workers?
I thought that we, as an industry, were progressive. We champion the voices of marginalised communities, promoting the travel blogging sphere as an inclusive environment, as somewhere where people that usually face prejudice from the wider community are free to be themselves, speak their truth and have a platform.
That progressive attitude, it seems, does not extend to sex workers.
Let me ask you, what is so bad about being compared to a cam girl?
I would be flattered if somebody compared what I did for a living to that of a cam girl. Cam girls work damn hard and they have carved a space out for themselves where they are free to work their own hours (as few or as many as they like), set their own rates, create exactly what kind of content they like and work from anywhere in the world that has an internet connection.
Cam girls do not just get naked on webcam. They build their own online communities, often growing huge social media followings in order to engage with their fans and promote their work. They hustle. They are entertainers, therapists, models, digital marketers, salespeople. They are entrepreneurs, often using camming as a gateway into selling merchandise, access to private member’s sites and other forms of erotic content.
What’s more, as well as being a legitimate and respectable career choice, camming is also the perfect job for those women who aren’t well suited to the traditional 9-5.
Perhaps you’re a single mother, or a traveller, or somebody trying to start another business who needs the flexibility that camming provides, or somebody who left school early and doesn’t have many qualifications. Any woman can be a cam girl. It doesn’t matter if you’re short, tall, fat, skinny, black, white, working class, middle class, disabled, able-bodied – it doesn’t matter. There are no barriers to entry. This in itself makes webcamming a very viable option for lots and lots of women, and it is also worth mentioning that the sex industry is one of the only industries where women can expect to earn more money than men.
A lot more.
We live in a ‘boss babe’ culture, where we patronisingly tell women that they can be a ‘boss babe’ if they just join a pyramid scheme and peddle cheap leggings or protein shakes to family and friends for little to no payoff, but if a woman actually does decide to be her own boss in a field that we don’t deem worthy, we condemn it.
As travel bloggers and influencers, we are part of an industry where girls will make 6 figure salaries by posing in string bikinis on the beach in the Philippines before being offended that they are being compared to – god forbid – a CAM GIRL.
If you, as a travel influencer, are offended by the implication that your job has something in common with that of a cam girl’s, then you are not progressive. You are not #woke. You are the problem.
Not Spud Hilton.