“Can a woman tell me what is empowering about sitting in a hot tub in a bikini for thousands of horny degenerates? [...] I feel like If I was a woman and I wanted to empower myself I'd search for a career that does exactly that[,] a career that demands respects [sic] or earns it. What the fuck does floating in a pool do to self empower someone? I don't think these people actually care about empowering women or themselves they just want money, a lot of money and if you ever criticize the methods in which they do so they will use the anti-woman card”
— Reddit user lvl1vagabond, March 2021, commenting on a post about
the frequency of hot tub streams on Twtch.tv
It was a harrowing 15 minutes earlier this afternoon when I, desperate for something to write about that wasn’t any of the other things I was supposed to be writing about, decided to risk permanent brain damage and scroll through the toxic wastes of reddit.com in pursuit of inspiration. The experience compares best in my opinion with that scene toward the beginning of Stranger Things, when the scientist is all suited up and starts taking a few steps into the Upside Down before he starts screaming over the radio in horror. Is that still a current reference? Oh, who the fuck cares. Basically, I’m the scientist.
Anyway, as you can tell from that lovely inspirational quote at the beginning, the “Front Page of the Internet” remains a filthy cesspool of masculine resentment, but this particular stroke of prosaic and syllogistic mastery caught my attention because it echoes the same dumbass take that I’ve heard expressed more often as more women have found success doing shit on the internet like “sitting in a hot tub in a bikini for thousands of horny degenerates.” Among other things.
You best believe I have opinions about this, and also there’s no way I just spent a whole quarter of an hour in that hell for nothing, but before I set off on the rant you’ve all come here for, I wanna get a couple things out of the way. First, I know some gatekeeping neckbeard who reads this is gonna call me a normie for spending all my energy boosting how awful reddit is when the internet has much worse to offer, but listen, if I looked on 4chan or 8chan or some shit, I wouldn’t be able to publish the comments, and I’d also have to waste all the good bleach on my eyes.
Second, you might be wanting to ask why I’ve been setting up to use a single reddit comment from a total random as the punching bag for this entire forthcoming article, and the answer is somewhere between ‘because fuck you,’ and ‘because that comment has 3.3k upvotes and 29 awards, which means that I’m definitely right about the kind of fuckwit that frequents this dumb ass forum.’
Seriously though, the backlash against the increasing accessibility and mainstream-ization of online sex work, which has been so eloquently evinced by /u/lvl1vagabond in their misogynistic tirade against women who livestream themselves hanging out in hot tubs on Twitch, frequently brushes up against the outer edge of intelligent conversation, but can never seem to bridge the gap. Probably because the people with the capacity for intelligent conversation are not the ones who care about the political implications of hot tub streams, but let’s just pretend it’s surprising for the sake of appearances.
clickbait (Belle Delphine)
It’s a shame though, because I think now is actually the perfect time to be having a serious discussion about the future of porn. I mean, think about it, it’s a fucking pandemic outside. Everyone’s trapped indoors, everyone’s bored, and everyone’s very horny — it’s not like Covid has made it any easier to get laid, apart from the fact that nobody can see the bottom of your face. So, it’s natural that the complex relationships between sexuality, the internet, money, and feminism would be at the top of everybody’s mind while scrolling endless sexy tik toks and OnlyFans plug tweets and bikini Twitch streams, etc...
It’s just that the cavemen who are most heavily inundated with that content lack the nuance to understand or communicate these ideas, so they have to take it out on reddit and on body pillows in the dark. ‘Ooga booga, if women no want to be object, why they sexy online for, ooga booga.’ Super original post dude.
But that’s where I come in. The way I see it, the future of porn lies in each intersection between those four issues from before — sexuality, the internet, money, and feminism — and each provides an opportunity for reflection and reform. So, what I’d like to do is my absolute best to provide non-moronic analysis of each of these six intersections and maybe do it in a way that can be understood by the Neanderthals who are apparently most invested. Also, I know that I’m probably a little underqualified to be ‘analyzing feminism,’ but I certainly can’t do worse than “If I was a woman and I wanted to empower myself I'd search for a career that demands respects or earns it.”
Actually, I’ll start with the feminism and go from there, because at least if I fuck this up, I still technically have time to redeem myself. Here goes nothing. Intersection 1: Feminism and Sexuality. This intersection is doubly important because it both explains the way porn is produced today, and informs the way porn might be made in the future. Feminist theory explains that the porn industry is fitted to a market where the consumer is assumed to be male, and the production is largely handled by men. This means that the sex depicted in traditional visual pornography is unrealistic, largely indifferent to female pleasure, and emphasizes power and control in the relationship, all of which sets up female sexuality as dependent on men.
Clickbait (Mia Khalifa)
But as progress trundles painfully and slowly forward, and new avenues for amateur porn are created, we may find ourselves in a landscape where women have much more control over the porn industry generally, and especially over the content they produce with their own bodies. Don’t get me wrong, there will always be porn for everything, but I think the key is to try and mitigate the effects of systemic tropes that are carried on in the porn industry subconsciously but that are harmful to the overall goal of giving women control of their bodies. And also maybe to make men understand that that’s what’s happening, so they don’t freak out.
Intersection 2: Feminism and the Internet. This one is pretty straightforward; the internet is misogynistic. It started as a boys club, like most things, and once we let women in on it, they ruined it, just like what they did with voting. Yeah, I don’t know what to say about this one, other than I hope it gets better, but this seems like a broader society thing. The one thing I’ll say is that every time I see someone try to pull a Ben Shapiro ‘facts and logic no jutsu’ on a feminist in some thread, they are literally always just completely oblivious to the real world, so my suggestion is that kids are made to understand more about sexism in general as they grow up, so that teenage boys don’t turn into incels before they even have the chance to become productive members of society.
Intersection 3: Feminism and money. The obvious callout here is that women still make less than men for doing the same jobs. And if you've heard this argument before and think you have the sickest comeback to pwn the feminazis, just know that every single dickhead before you has thought the same thing, and you’re all cringe. But that’s not even the main issue here. Porn is one of the very few industries in which women make more money than men, but when women are successful in the industry, they still get shit on.
Take the Twitch hot tub case again: not only were the homies cheesed there were too many scantily clad titties on their Christian streaming website, but those titties were scantily clad for the reason of making money. How fucking dare they use their bodies which have been relentlessly and aggressively sexualized for the profit of men for hundreds of years to make their own lives better. Unbelievable, first abortions, now this? When will it stop??
Intersection 4: Sexuality and Money. This just has to do with sex work as a profession. One of the fundamental freedoms that our society promises is the freedom to do whatever you like with your body as long as it doesn’t hurt someone or disrupt shit too much. Actually, I just watched some dude snap his leg in half on live TV, so even if it does hurt someone, as long as it’s consensual, it’s chill. Except, of course, when it involves a woman making money off of her body, in which case we draw the line. I don’t even have anything else to say here, I just really can’t understand why any type of sex work would ever be illegal, especially because when it’s illegal, it’s exponentially less safe. Just what the fuck man.
Jennifer Ringley, founder of Jennicam
Intersection 5: Sexuality and the Internet. This one is particularly interesting to me because I’m part of a generation whose understanding of sex and sexuality is almost entirely dependent on how scared we were of getting caught watching porn. Sex Ed class was to the internet what like one free healthy smoothie is to unlimited free McDonald’s. It might be better for you, but it sure as fuck is less exciting. Which is actually really scary, when you think of the consequences of a generation raised on rapey-ass pre-purge pornhub, and DeviantArt furries, and Tumblr fetish fanfic, and rule 34, with only cursory knowledge of what the clit does or how to put a condom on a banana.
I can only speak for my own experience, but I was never taught proper consent, I was never taught what it meant to be gay or bi or trans (properly), I was never taught about the differences between a female orgasm and a male orgasm, and I was dangerously close to thinking what happened in Game of Thrones was how most sex went. Sexual education curriculums are woefully underprepared for modern sex, and the consequences can leave children open to exploitation or violence and just straight up ruin lives.
On the other hand, as is usually the case, the internet brought some good with the bad. The original camgirl, Jennifer Ringley, was an artist who wanted to document her unfiltered life (just for the sake of it, not because it was required by society, imagine), and her website blew up in part because she would often jerk off or have sex on camera. If you found yourself in the right corner of the web, you could seek answers about your sexuality from a community that you found safe. Dating apps, for all of their horror stories and nightmarish devaluation of personhood are a great way to get your rocks off, and sex workers could operate more easily and much, much more safely. Being able to build trust between your hook-ups, whether they be for money or to fill the void in your heart, has made sex work and casual sex safer overall, though there is plenty of work still to be done.
Intersection 6: The Internet and Money. This last one is perhaps the least obvious factor in my ‘future of porn’ matrix, but I actually think it gets furthest to the root of the complaint that this article was based on. See, I already mentioned that this is a generation raised on free porn, but the emphasis is on free. One of the foundational ideologies of the internet was that everything should be free, from open source code, to music off Napster, right up to pornhub. But the truth is, some people want to pay for content they enjoy, as a show of support, and as insurance that they will continue to get the content they enjoy.
It’s this final concept, the idea that anyone would ever actually pay for porn, that confounds the neckbeards. They cannot fathom a world where you would ever offer up the world’s most precious resource, money, in exchange for a stranger’s video which does the same job as every other stranger’s video on the internet. To them, these women who charge for something that has always been free to them, are entitled. They take advantage of simps and coomers (which I’ve learned is like a porn addicted simp and my new favourite word) and take their money while farming parasocial relationships. They invade platforms like Twitch with schemes to shove their breasts in everyone’s faces like you can’t just watch a different channel and they play the anti-woman card every time they’re criticized.
Except that’s nowhere near what happens. Sex workers are forced online by dangerous laws that criminalize their livelihoods, then they are harassed by dipshits for doing what they want with their bodies and at the same time are accused of being entitled for making money in a system that was designed to exploit them for money, and finally, they are accused of taking advantage of men who apparently can’t control themselves. Basically, everything’s fucked, but it’s deeper than that. On a generational level, we’re fucked from the outside because we don’t get the education needed to navigate sexual growth in the age of the internet, and we’re fucked from the inside because, as a result of that stunted growth, we perpetuate harmful norms in our own sex lives. To be honest, on a generational level, we’re fucked from so many angles anyway, I’m not sure it matters, but I think we should get this particular issue sorted out, so we can at least all go out fucking each other. Respectfully.