Cam-girls in Romania
August 15, 2017 4:36 AM   Subscribe

Cam-girls: Inside the Romanian sexcam industry - a BBC News magazine article by Linda Pressly (also available as a podcast) featuring some photographs by Lorenzo Maccotta.
posted by misteraitch (12 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

Thanks OP. This was a nice short piece that introduced me to the complications of that side of the sex industry, and it's a side that will only grow, especially as VR becomes more prevalent in the tech market.
posted by Faintdreams at 6:55 AM on August 15, 2017

I'm sure there are other segments to the market, but I found it interesting how the people interviewed were focused on creating a sense of relationship with the customers, more than simple sex purveying. In one of the photos you can see the how-to list on a computer screen, all guidelines on how to form and nurture the emotional connections.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:11 AM on August 15, 2017 [2 favorites]

Andra Chirnogeanu, Studio 20's PR Manager, also rejects the idea that this is risky or psychologically damaging work. "It's psychologically damaging to stay 12 hours in an office getting paid a minimum wage," she says.

posted by xammerboy at 7:15 AM on August 15, 2017 [12 favorites]

One of the SubGenius books had a timeline of the future, which included “Prostitution will be legalised, but its definition will be extended to encompass most forms of paid work”
posted by acb at 7:21 AM on August 15, 2017 [30 favorites]

This is well-balanced piece. While I was reading into the middle part I was worrying that the narrative might go too cyberpunk to be taken seriously, but fortunately it didn't.

I tend to agree with the interpretation of psychological manipulation. At least, the doubt cannot be easily explained away by hand-waving. It wouldn't surprise me that there could be instances of voluntary participation. But, there is also a very important difference between real consent and fake, manipulated consent.

We hear this argument in the discussions about rape: can sexual consent be revoked retroactively? I tend to side with the proposition that it is proper to withdraw what felt like consent at the time but later turned out to be a decision made under invisible duress, deception, coercion, or manipulation. In the case there wasn't consent to begin with, what we label as "withdrawal" or "revocation" isn't retroaction but merely recognising the true extent of facts and states of mind at that time.
posted by runcifex at 7:27 AM on August 15, 2017

Mod note: quick note: this thread is about sex work and camgirls, please do not turn it into a general rape discussion. thanks!
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:18 PM on August 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

Ok, so... I've clicked through to cam sites on accident and out of curiosity, and I'm definitely not the target market because I find the whole experience alienating and depressing. Granted, I'm also not a fan of properly seedy strip clubs, either. And, well, I'm certainly not a prude because stuff like burlesque or other enthusiastically consensual sexuality is awesome and thrilling, and, well, duh, I'm already on adult sites looking for weird porn because I'm a weirdo.

Aaaanyway. The one time I spent any amount of time on a cam site, I ended up giving impromptu English lessons to a woman in Romania. I can't even remember how it started, she probably saw an IP geotag or something.

It was one of the weirdest internet experiences I ever had. Her chat room was almost always empty and she seemed to spend most of her time on cam watching soap operas or teledramas of some kind. She never seemed to actually work in the sense of camgirl sex work. She wasn't fishing me for money or trying to start some kind of internet relationship, and I wasn't trying to have some surrogate girlfriend experience, either.

I think I kept going back because it reminded me of the more innocent days of the internet and early video chat services like CUSeeMe where the novelty was... just meeting someone you wouldn't have ever met before and seeing part of the world you'd never see?

In hindsight it's possible she might have been using the cam service to practice and teach herself English. If so, it's kind of a brilliant move, really. Online ESL classes are expensive, and you might even get paid to practice instead of paying for it.

[As per usual, my typically unusual experiences are definitely not meant to be indicative or endorsements of anything. YMMV.]
posted by loquacious at 12:42 PM on August 15, 2017 [8 favorites]

> In hindsight it's possible she might have been using the cam service to practice and teach herself English. If so, it's kind of a brilliant move, really. Online ESL classes are expensive, and you might even get paid to practice instead of paying for it.
Did it work? Was her English improved?
posted by runcifex at 6:38 PM on August 15, 2017

Did it work? Was her English improved?

I have no idea. I'm also entirely the wrong person to ask about the correctness of any given modern English because I'm just a wild, unwashed descriptivist. This was a long while ago and I remember we talked about the weirdness of contractions and possessives and stuff and she said I cleared some things up for her.
posted by loquacious at 8:08 PM on August 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

Well you probably did most of the talking anyway.
posted by deadwax at 12:19 AM on August 16, 2017

Actually, I only typed. Voice communication was one way from her end. She'd ask me questions about pronunciation or points of grammar and I'd reply via text. And, anyway, despite my username I try to listen more than I talk.
posted by loquacious at 7:44 AM on August 16, 2017

The article felt a little concern-troll-ish in the middle, but I'm surprised how relaxed the author was about the subject. I guess if this had been published in a North American newspaper, it would have been a bit more... something.

I wish they would have interviewed more participants in the industry–off the record and away from any employers that could retaliate.

A friend of mine in the U.S. worked as a cam girl. She was paid by the (text) message she received when she wasn't camming. I don't know what the pay structure was for the video bits. She wasn't ashamed of her work, but did find it exhausting–indulging men in whatever nonsense they were expecting, even it was mostly via text, off-camera.

At least she was able to work from a coffee shop in those times, and interact with other people all day. That seemed to be a rejuvenating thing. The site she worked on (MyGirlFund) seems to have been particularly awful, though.
posted by moink at 9:30 AM on August 16, 2017

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