There’s a new pornography juggernaut on the rise, and you’ve probably seen sketchy sidebar ads for it while scrolling online.
With the ever-growing popularity of streaming your entertainment (thanks, Netflix) and the death of Blockbuster Video—RIP video rental—adults and teens are turning to the internet to consume a new media. So what’s the latest in online entertainment?
The world of webcamming
It’s called sex camming (like webcamming, get it?). It’s a live, interactive sexual experience where the viewer is able to watch the “performer” in real time and can even request certain performances of them, often paying big bucks to do so.
Camming can supposedly earn the performer upwards of hundreds of dollars an hour. And the appeal to consenting camming workers is not only the high pay, but the flexible schedule, while viewers find appeal in the ability to request specific demands from their live-action sex worker.
The consumer network has, in some cases, even become a type of tight-knit community whose demographic is described as “unhappy married men or workaholics.” Sad, right? And while some cam workers claim to willingly enter into this career path, there’s a dark side of sex camming that has just begun to come to light.
The darker side of porn
As a whole, sex trafficking is a huge issue in the porn industry today. And much like “traditional” online pornography as we think of it today, there are willing participants and unwilling participants in the camming side of the sex industry.
Often, this trafficking looks like victims being forced into performing in live streaming video chat rooms without their consent and often after much abuse.
While many victims are taken from their homes and sold into this crime ring at a young age, others are forced into this work by their impoverished families, often being promised a fair wage or education. Even some cam girls who consent to this career often face some type of assault or coercion (trigger warning, link NSFW), with one cammer stating, “Guys who are in charge of these businesses, they don’t respect the girls, because of this job. [According to them,] a girl who does this doesn’t deserve to have respect—that’s just the mentality.”
Cam sites are also infamously known for money laundering, particularly in Russia and Romania, where the sex cam industry is booming. These cam “studios” use their sites to accept “dirty” crime money that is used to pay for private time. Then, after the studio takes a cut and the worker gets their (very small) paycheck, the money comes back clean. It is for this reason, explains camming celebrity Mila (trigger warning, link NSFW), that “most Russian and Romanian studios are Mafia owned.”
You mean this sketchy business is sketchy? Yeah, we’re not surprised.
Webcam trafficking on the rise
Sex camming in and of itself is on the rise. And as the demand for live sexual performances increases, so does the demand for human trafficking—they both go hand in hand.
The first high-profile international case of live streaming sexual exploitation of children was reported in 2011 out of the Philippines, with more sex camming busts happening South Korea and even Australia in the past couple years. Pedophile computer-geniuses are able to bypass law enforcement by downloading or sharing illegal content without any trails back to them, causing total anonymity and making this heinous crime so difficult to stop.
These webcam sex trafficking busts (which often involve underaged, impoverished children) show the rise of abuse and human trafficking as a means to fulfill the high demand for sex camming.
A harmful escalation
The problem with “traditional” pornography is that it usually doesn’t stop there. Consuming pornography is an escalating behavior that usually causes the viewer to need an ever-increasing amount over time in order to achieve the same level of enjoyment. Even a habit of viewing softcore porn tends to escalate to an interest in hardcore, violent, and demeaning pornography.
Because of what is shown about a porn habit escalating, it’s possible that consensual camming could escalate into a desire to see more extreme material where the performer could be undergoing abuse, or even be underage. You never really know who is performing behind the camera willingly or who are performing for consumers’ pleasure against their will. Now, we’re not saying that all camming performers are victims of trafficking, but it’s come to light that some are and some aren’t, and there’s no real way to tell the difference between the two.
Why this matters
Pornography fuels the demand for sex trafficking, and sex camming has proven to be no different. The issue with saying “I only watch consensual cam girls” is that consumers can’t truly really know who has and hasn’t consented. In the end, pornography fuels the demand for sex trafficking in a way that the causal porn consumer might not be aware of. Ignorance is not bliss.