Yes, I am a Cam Girl and I Have Self-Respect

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[Editor’s note: The following is a guest poster who wishes to remain anonymous. Our policy at TOL is to respect the anonymity of anyone who chooses to write for us. We have confirmed her identity for our purposes.]

Imagine a woman: she’s young, a college student, double majoring, worked since her first semester, and on multiple school organization executive boards. Overall, she’s a hard, determined worker.

What would you think of this person? Would you say she’s respectable? Would you think that she’s a good person and has worth?

Imagine another woman who works as a cam girl. Men pay to talk to her online. Sometimes that might involve sex talk.

What would you say about her? That she has no self-respect? Would you even shame her for her choice of occupation?

What if I told you that the first girl, the student, and the second girl, the cam girl, were one in the same? This is my reality. I am a college student that has goals and aspirations, and at the same time, I go online and speak to guys who pay me to talk to them.

I became a cam girl over a year ago because of an unexpected family emergency; I decided it was the best way to be financially independent. Before I became a cam girl, I never thought it was something I would do. I thought it was degrading. Yet I met someone my second year in college, and she was completely open about it. I was curious and asked her questions. It wasn’t until I finally started that I realized that it wasn’t what I thought it would be like.

Of course, the work is partly sexual. Men are paying to see me get naked on camera or they want seductive photographs of me. Yes, of course some men just want me as a commodity; it’s a mutually beneficial exchange and that’s all. But with others, it’s not about sex or lust. Some of the best people I’ve met while camming have been men that just want a connection with someone. Some men don’t even want to see me naked. Crazy, right? I talk to these men about politics, philosophy, music, movies and everything in between. These men ask about my life, ask how school is going. Some listen to my problems.

But there’s an issue with this lifestyle. I can’t really tell people. The same reason I’m writing this anonymously is the same reason why I go by a pseudonym and why I’ve blocked my state, all bordering states, and any state or foreign country that I know people in from my site. I don’t want to have to explain myself.

I don’t feel shameful for what I do, but society tells me I should. Society tells me that my worth is with my body and what I do with it. Apparently people believe that getting naked means you have no self respect and therefore you deserve no respect. Yet, I promise you, I love myself. If I didn’t love my body or myself I wouldn’t be doing this.

It’s sad that society sees women like this. I’m a college student; if you met me you’d probably think that I’m independent, determined, hard working. Yet if you knew that I spent some nights online talking to men, all those traits would go out the window. Why? Because I get naked? Is that really all that matters?

I’m a cam girl and I have self-respect and value. Society shouldn’t shame or dictate what I do with my body. Why is something that I find so empowering and liberating something that would shatter anyone’s positive views of me?

  • Morgan

    Why must society view your work in a positive manner? Isn’t it an individual liberty to decide what actions do or don’t cause others to be viewed in a positive light? You are legally compensated to do the work that you find so liberating. It does not sound like society is dictating anything you do with your body. You are given the choice to pursue being a cam girl. I’m glad you have self-respect, but that has nothing to do with individuals not respecting your choices.

    • http://thoughtsonliberty.com/ Gina Luttrell

      I think it is more likely the case that our guest poster is trying to say not that she necessarily wants people to view her work positively, but they should at least be neutral to it. Her experience suggests that people would react profoundly negatively to it, and that is significant.

      • Frank

        If she wants the freedom to be a “cam girl”, then she has to deal with a society of other people exercising that very same freedom of expression not to agree with her actions. Forcing the morality and/or ethical decisions of minorities on the population has NOTHING to do with true freedom, in fact it is insulting to the very idea of it. True freedom means dealing with the consequences of your actions. In this case, the consequences are that the majority of the population are going to view her negatively – as is their right.

        • http://thoughtsonliberty.com/ Gina Luttrell

          Trying to persuade people to be tolerant is not the same thing as forcing your view on other people. Force requires force, and there is none here. Tolerance is a necessary component of freedom.

          • Peter

            I wholeheartedly agree. We don’t just need the technical freedom to do as we wish, but the freedom to pursue any actions that don’t hurt others without excessive outside pressure.

  • Mr. Rogers

    Listen, I have self respect, and I also shit. Even though I can enjoy a good shit, I don’t talk about it to people, and if I shat in front of people I’d feel pretty ashamed. Don’t demand that other people accept your hobbies. If you really have self respect you don’t need other people’s acceptance.

    • http://thoughtsonliberty.com/ Gina Luttrell

      Sure, but you feel free to talk about shitting with people, even if it’s not everyone. No one makes you feel ashamed for shitting. They do make the poster feel ashamed for being a cam girl.

      • Morgan

        I think this is a very interesting exchange…what would you say about the cam girl mentioned in this article who the author “met in her second year in college, and she was completely open about it.” Why did this other girl not feel ashamed? Or at least why did she feel like she was able to talk about it while the author does not feel the same freedom? I tend to agree with Mr. Rogers that self-respect does not need others’ acceptance.

        • http://twitter.com/sandrasanchez sandra sanchez

          Just like Gina said “I think it is more likely the case that our guest poster is trying to say not that she necessarily wants people to view her work positively, but they should at least be neutral to it. Her experience suggests that people would react profoundly negatively to it, and that is significant.”

          It’s not about acceptance, but you shouldn’t have to shame someone based on one characteristic that doesn’t hurt anyone.

          • Morgan

            I completely agree with Gina that tolerance is a necessary component of freedom. However, individuals in our society may not view the author’s choices as harmless to others. If they truly believe that her actions threaten the well-being of society, it is understandable that their reaction to her choices would be negative. I disagree that tolerance is the same as moral neutrality, especially when it comes to consequences of choice.

          • http://thoughtsonliberty.com/ Gina Luttrell

            I think there’s a difference between an honest debate about whether or not being a cam girl harms people (which, I think, most people would lose with a light application of reductio ad absurdum) and what the anonymous poster is talking about. If you even take a look around this thread and some of the things people are saying to her, you can see a very good reason for her to want to stay anonymous and a very good reason to call for tolerance.

          • Gideon Waxfarb

            I kinda feel the same way about those who work in fast food places. I mean, how many people is the establishment you work for helping to send to an early death every year?

          • DR

            How do you know it’s not hurting anyone? What about the wives/girlfriends of committed men who frequent these types of sites? What about the relationships and marriages that become strained due to the pervasive normalization of porn?

            A lot of women have became disillusioned to believe that behaving in a sexually promiscuous manner somehow gives them freedom and power. You do not have freedom or power simply by virtue of the fact that you have made a decision. Some choices are better than others and those who take the high road and pursue wisdom and excellence don’t have to worry about being ‘shamed’. Further – if women have a choice, why not choose to be a doctor? Lawyer? Teacher? Business owner?

          • http://twitter.com/sandrasanchez sandra sanchez

            Who are you to say these women don’t have other careers?

          • DR

            Who are you to be so naive to think that a professional working woman who strives for career excellence would stoop so low as to remove her panties on camera for strangers?

          • http://twitter.com/sandrasanchez sandra sanchez

            because you’re assuming this is her only job. The article even says she’s had a job since her freshmen year – i assume she means on campus or around the area. Keep in mind that she’s a college student, I doubt she’s doing this as a career given that she is double majoring and working towards her degree.

          • truly

            Because you need to come up with the money for college, law school, or start up costs. All people are not raised by parents with money for this, and not everyone wants to owe 200,000 dollars for education when they graduate to an entry level position.

      • Mr. Rogers

        I don’t know who you hang out with or what places you go where that serious talk about your shitting habits is a topic open for discussion. I suspect they are deviants, but that’s beside the point. Society as a whole does not tolerate common talk about the excretory process, just as it does not tolerate the public trumpeting of wanton sexuality. If you want to talk about these things, you should be strong enough to withstand the social problem. If you aren’t, then you should stay quiet and stop whinging. “Women” will never advance if they refuse courage for the gain of others pity.

        • Vulgar-Disgusting

          this is tolerance to the extreme. Should we tolerate pedophilia if a 12y old child & an adult, two individuals, choose to have sex?

          Bestiality? Homosexual agenda? Homosexual parenting…

          this is all an agenda to wreck havoc on Western Societies. No other non-Western country allows this nonsense.

          Why should we stay neutral? We have a right to viciously criticize socially destructive behavior. Ist Amendment

          • http://www.clichegames.com Anthony

            1st of all you are wrapping together several only tangentially related activities there into one bundle.

            2nd no one suggested tolerating or not tolerating any of the activities you mentioned just now at least not so far in this thread, perhaps you may have been responding to the wrong person and someone did say something like that later on.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kevinrbreen Kevin R Breen

    I’ve always thought sexual work was more degrading to the customers than the workers. The customer signals that he finds the worker to be so sexually desirable that he’s willing to pay her for the experience, while she signals that she finds him so undesirable that it won’t be worth her while unless he pays her.

    It’s obvious with any other interaction. If my friends charge me money to hang out with them instead of doing it for free, it’s degrading to me, not them. If they charge me money to have cybersex, rather than doing it for free, I can’t see how it magically starts degrading them instead of me.

    • http://www.clichegames.com Anthony

      Is paying for a haircut degrading to the person paying? Surely they could find Someone willing to cut their hair for free or in a punch cut their hair themselves. Money exchanging hands I don’t thin effects the degradation or lack there of in a transaction. Sex work isn’t *inherently* degrading to either party.

      • http://www.facebook.com/kevinrbreen Kevin R Breen

        We agree that sex work is not inherently degrading to the person providing the service. But paying for a haircut is a false analogy because, like most services we pay for, the service is unilateral. The person cutting the hair doesn’t get any service from the person whose hair they cut. Even if the haircut is free, we recognize this unilateral benefit when we consider it a “favor.” The same goes for almost all other financial transactions.

        But the services provided with sex work (outside of porn) are always mutual to varying degrees because a man cannot have sex with a woman without the woman having sex with the man. If I have cybersex with my girlfriend for free, she doesn’t consider it a “favor” to me (I hope) because we both benefit. If she does consider it a favor or starts charging me for it, it’s degrading to me because it signals that my part of the mutual service is not as valuable as hers.

        A better analogy would be a situation in which two people give each other haircuts, and one pays the other for the privilege. In this case, this is degrading to the person who pays because it signals that one person’s side of the mutual exchange isn’t as valuable as the other’s. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; a student or someone working with a famous stylist may appreciate the opportunity, despite acknowledged degradation.

        • http://www.clichegames.com Anthony

          I don’t think sex work is like your case of two people giving each other hair cuts though. Sex work is about more then just two people having sex for money whether its someone getting solace from fear of rejection or fear of ridicule for their particular desires or other possibilities.

          Even if it were the case why does it have to necessarily be degrading, If a professional stylist cut my hair and I cut his/hers I would not expect my hair-cut to be valued equally either. That’s not degrading that is just a difference in skill-sets.

          • http://www.facebook.com/kevinrbreen Kevin R Breen

            I didn’t say that it necessarily has to be degrading in all cases, only that it is more degrading to the customer. (Perhaps worded better, I could have said, “if it’s degrading to anyone, it’s degrading to the customer.”)

            Now we’re dangerously close to arguing semantics. I already covered the sort of situation you would be in with a mutual haircut with a professional stylist in the last sentence of my last post. Whether or not you want to call that “degradation,” (and denotatively, I believe you could,) it is an acknowledgement that your abilities are not as valuable as those of the person you’re paying, lowering your status. Again, it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

            As an attempt to bypass the semantic argument, if I’m in bed with a woman, and we’re about to have sex, but she stops me and says, “Wait, I think the sex I’m going to give you is more valuable than what you’d be giving me, so you’re going to have to pay me money before we do it, or I’m not willing to,” I would find that degrading. If you wouldn’t find that degrading, more power to you.

          • http://www.clichegames.com Anthony

            I’d find it odd certainly, but your partner saying that and someone who you know to be someone who charges for it are two different things.

          • http://www.facebook.com/kevinrbreen Kevin R Breen

            haha, I thought you might say that. I fail to see how that’s relevant to the fact that, either way, it is an unambiguous signal about your sexuality’s relative value.

  • Jamie

    So, where do you work? I mean, which site? How did you get started with that particular site vs another? How much do you make? I’m asking for, uh, a friend. ;)

  • penn

    I would be a cam girl but you have to file taxes and I just figured out how to do all that with the job I have now… LOL no need to confuse me even more!

  • Everybodypoops

    Dear Mr Rogers, for someone claiming they don’t talk pooping…..your replies tend to involve the fact you poop. I’m glad you don’t care how people view you and your poop…..and if you are really proud of it…..there are fetish websites where freaks would love to see you sitting on the crapper.

  • Alec

    Many people have found ways to make it through school without being a cam girl. A lot of people pay prostitutes just to talk to them, does that make their job any less shameful? She was very quick to push aside the fact that she does have to get naked to tell us about the few guys who just want to talk to you. She is a glorified stripper, anyone who doesn’t think this is shameful just ask yourself one question. Would you want your daughter to do it?

    • Peter

      “She is a glorified stripper.”

      Yes, and? What’s wrong with stripping? What’s wrong with being a cam girl? If you want to put pressure on a woman to feel ashamed of sexuality, the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate why that shame is necessary or beneficial. Personally, I don’t see the benefit of shame, and I’m left to conclude that there’s no point in admonishing people who want to get naked in front of others.

    • Kelly

      does doing something once make you a bad person? I cammed for a few months in college. I was just curious about it all. In the end, it was a lifestyle that I couldn’t sustain and made me realize that I NEVER want to get paid for my looks ever again. But still, I feel like I had to try it. I had to know what it was like to know that I didn’t want it.

      If camming is just one aspect of someone’s life I am not going to look down on them. People are multifaceted and multi talented.

      Girls should just be careful not to let it take over their lives because there are better careers out there!

    • Gideon Waxfarb

      Personally, I think it’s better than stripping, since they don’t even have to leave the house :)

  • anti corruption

    “Society tells me that my worth is with my body and what I do with it.”

    That’s pretty much your business model… I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with with what you do, but don’t kid yourself. You wouldn’t be able to make money like this if you were a guy, so stop complaining about the double standard you’re benefitting from financially.

    • http://twitter.com/sandrasanchez sandra sanchez

      Actually there are cam boys.

      She’s not complaining about the guys she’s talking about, she’s not complaining about her benefiting. She’s simply saying she has self-respect.

  • http://twitter.com/kittystryker Kitty Stryker

    I think more of an issue is that if you come out as being a cam girl, or a stripper, or a phone sex girl, or a prodomme, or any sort of sex worker, it’s not that people will think differently about you *and keep it to themselves*. They will actively act that out on you. Often, being out about being a sex worker is dangerous, especially for female-identified sex workers- men will feel entitled to your body more, will try to get away with more non-consensually or coercively, legally the police and the law will try to argue with you if you try to say you’ve been sexually assaulted by saying that you can’t rape a sex worker, you can lose your job, your apartment, or access to your children for having been a sex worker. *THAT’S* where society needs to respect personal agency in situations where adults are making informed, consensual decisions, and not punish them through their own moralistic opinions.

    • alytron

      Exactly. Thank you for saying that.

  • http://twitter.com/SpatialO Spatial Orientation

    Unfortunately, what’s lost on those dissenting in this thread is a larger struggle against the intolerant predisposition and antipathy of those towards people considered to live and tolerate libertine lifestyles. The insinuation seems to be that if you – especially if you happen to be female – engage in casual sex and/or sex work of any kind, that it should be shamed by others. Consensual sexual activity simply for pleasure is, after all, part of some high liberal feminist agenda that no self-respecting woman would engage in, right? Rather, you can disagree all you want without castigating shame upon women that hav NOTHING to feel ashamed about.

    Rather, the male (and female, for that matter) species should stop shunning women into feeling ashamed for exploring the same urges and impulses that us men so “casually” act upon. Perhaps it’s just too natural, and we should cease being so pious and judgmental about individual lifestyle choices – especially if there is no shred of aggression unto others, right? Shouldn’t women actually exude self-confidence and expresses their sexuality without the stigma of wearing a colossal Scarlet Letter stemming from the hypocritical mockery of men branding them “sluts” while flippantly high fiving each other for the exact same shameless behavior?

    More of my thoughts on this: http://spatialorientation.com/2013/01/06/perceptions-of-libertarian-thought-cabals/

  • http://www.facebook.com/sarah.skwire Sarah Skwire

    Several people have asked me to comment on this post, but to be perfectly honest I’m not sure I can think of that much to say.

    Do I think women should be able to do what they like with their sexuality–including sell it? Of course I do.

    Do I think it’s a job that I would like to have, or that I would like my daughters to have? Nope, but I can certainly think of jobs that, in my estimation, get more respect and are less worthy of it.

    Do I think that there is a certain amount of irony in objecting to society’s saying that women are only worth anything if their bodies are attractive, and then choosing to make money from that attractiveness? Probably, yep.

    Do I think anyone who makes money from their attractiveness should care that I find that slightly ironic? Nope.

    Do I still think that a perfectly valid libertarian sexual ethic could probably be summed up in the single word “consent?” Yep.

    I think I’m pretty much done, and I have the sinking feeling that none of that was worth waiting for.

    • http://thoughtsonliberty.com/ Gina Luttrell

      We’re happy you came by either way! ;-)

  • R.E.L.

    It seems your site should really be called “Thoughts on Libertinism”. What exactly does being a “cam girl” have to do with the gov’t? Libertarianism is the non-aggression principle. That’s it.

  • anonymous

    I’m a camgirl as well – I’ve been doing it for nearly two years. Currently it’s one of three jobs, as I’m saving for a wedding I got invited to in Thailand and also saving for more schooling. Would I want my children doing what I do? Honestly, if I ever have children they can do whatever they want for work so long as it’s not illegal and not hurting themselves or anybody else. I don’t care what they do to pay their bills. If they do it the best way they can, if they’re happy and healthy, then that’s what matters to me.

    Sex work is work. We pay our taxes (you’d better believe we pay our taxes, we have to file as independent contractors), we do laundry, we buy groceries, we live lives not really any different than the ones you yourselves lead. The very least we ask is neutrality when people are looking at the work we do. I don’t expect everybody to greet the phrase “hey, I’m a camgirl/stripper/other sex worker” with complete glee, but I don’t want them to start tearing me down for it either. There is nothing ‘wrong’ with what I do. It’s part of the oldest profession in the world. And as I do nothing illegal (nothing with children, animals, etc) then honestly, what do I have to be ashamed of?

    We don’t force people to buy the services we provide. There’s no knife being held to anyone’s throat, there are no threats being made. People purchase our time and our content of their own accord. You can’t blame us for your husband ‘cheating’ on you with a camgirl. It’s not OUR fault when HE is the one who went looking for something he probably wasn’t supposed to be looking for. We only provide a service. The majority of us will never actually meet our clients and chat with them strictly online. We’re very aware that if a guy wants sexual attention, he can just go to the nearest bar and get attention for free. We know this. Our customers know this. They come to us anyway.

    “Who are you to be so naive to think that a professional working woman who strives for career excellence would stoop so low as to remove her panties on camera for strangers?”

    It’s not stooping. I pick my own hours, charge my own per-minute prices, am financially independent, can end a conversation any time I choose with no repercussions or worries about losing my job, can wear whatever I choose, take as many breaks as I choose, work as often or as little as I want, and say exactly what I want to a customer who is being an asshole without worrying it’ll blow up in my face. Plus it makes me feel sexy and powerful and in control, I get to talk with some really interesting people, and I never stop learning. One day I got paid to learn about teppanyaki.

    Do you have those kinds of freedoms with your 9-5 desk job?

    This job has given me incredible self-confidence and has given me the time and funds to really pursue everything I want to do. I’m hard-working and independent regardless of which job I happen to be doing at the time, those traits don’t suddenly get tossed just because I’m naked. We don’t care if you love the idea of what we do (though it would be nice), we just ask the same respect you would give to anyone else. If you don’t like the sex industry, then don’t go to or hire a sex worker. It’s the oldest job out there and it’s not going anywhere.

    • Gideon Waxfarb

      I agree with everything you say, except:

      ‘We’re very aware that if a guy wants sexual attention, he can just go to the nearest bar and get attention for free.’

      Trust me… if it were that easy for us, a lot of you would be out of a job :) lol

  • Michi

    All these rude commenters make me feel so feminist. The fact that a woman can’t even have control of their sexuality it terrible. I’m a brand new cam girl who hasn’t had her first show and I don’t feel ashamed in the slightest.

  • Hugo

    And what if her work negatively effects her opinion on men.Should the men also expect neutrality in terms of her judgement on them, and if so where the hell does it end.People are allowed to judge get over it.This isn’t 1984

    • Gideon Waxfarb

      This is a good point. If you go to the Stripperweb.com forums, you will see exactly how a lot of these women feel about the men who patronize them. And believe me, it ain’t pretty.

  • cosmopolite

    Sex work exploits the horniness, loneliness, and social ineptitude of many men. Sex work can be dangerous and abusive, but that stems mainly from it being illegal and/or under a moral cloud. Being a stripper in front of a web cam is simply a safer form of sex work, grounded in technology. Real strippers are tempted to use drugs, and to be economically exploited by strip club owners. Cam girls are self employed, and never see the bad white powders.